Girl Planting seeds

Universal Design Living Laboratory: A National Demonstration Home for Universal Design and Green Living

Universal Design Living Laboratory:

A National Demonstration Home for Universal Design and Green Living 

By Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. 
It has been 10 years since my spinal cord injury. I can clearly remember so much of the trauma of being crushed by a 7,000 pound falling tree when my husband, Mark Leder, and I were riding bicycles on June 13, 1998. When we built our two-story house 13 years ago, we thought it would last our lifetimes. We could never have anticipated how our home could further create limitations, thus enhancing my disability.
I first became aware of universal design housing while reading a magazine about a woman in a wheelchair who had built a new home. As I learned more about universal design, I came to understand that it is more than just for kitchen design. It is for the entire house and landscape. Universal design is a framework for the design of places benefiting the widest possible range of people in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. It is human centered design accommodating people of all sizes, ages, and abilities.
During the past four years, Mark and I have worked with an architectural and design team in order to create the house plans for our new ranch style home in Columbus, Ohio. The Universal Design Living Laboratory will have 3,500 square feet of space on the main floor, and a partially finished basement. 
Taking the Lead
The Universal Design Living Laboratory will serve as a national demonstration home for the building, architectural and design industries, as well as the public. It will showcase universal design principles, as well as green building features. A truly sustainable home should not only be green, but also be accessible. This allows people with mobility problems to live in their homes throughout their lifetimes, thus sustaining a higher quality of life through enhanced independence.
We will apply for certification for programs from the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED for Homes), National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Program, Central Ohio Green Initiative, and Energy Star.
Currently there are 100 international, national and local contributors providing specially selected products and services for the home. Construction is targeted to begin in fall of 2008. The web site ( serves as an extensive educational resource containing articles, conference handouts, information, house renderings, floor plan, and links to other resources. When the home is completed, hopefully in the fall of 2009, tours will be given to the public for about a month before Mark and I move in. All net proceeds from tours will benefit spinal cord injury research at The Ohio State University. Once we move in, we will conduct tours by appointment. 
This endeavor for Mark and I will serve others so they can learn from it, be inspired by the ideas they gather, and serve as a catalyst for change in the building, architectural, and design communities. Most importantly, this house will serve as a model to show others how they can improve the quality of their lives by building homes that are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy, and accessible.
Copyright by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. 2008
september-2008-rosemarieRosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is an internationally known speaker, trainer, consultant, and writer. Rossetti is building the Universal Design Living Laboratory, in Columbus, Ohio. This home will serve as her residence and will become a demonstration site to bring about awareness of universal design and green building to the public, building, architectural and design industries. She can be reached at 614-471-6100 or  Visit her Web sites,, for information about the home and for information about her speaking business.
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