Cindy's big idea: how upcycling could help ease the affordable housing crisis


When most of us see an abandoned mobile home, we see just that: an abandoned mobile home. But when Cindy Turner, Sr. Communications Specialist, sees an abandoned mobile home, she sees something different: opportunity.  

Cindy’s Big Idea  

“I kept seeing more and more about the lack of affordable housing in the news,” Cindy explained. “Gentrification, younger generations not being able to buy homes or find affordable housing. Rent increases, homelessness – it’s a huge problem. For many, the dream of home ownership is getting farther and farther away.”  

Cindy also couldn’t help but notice the large number of mobile homes that sit abandoned and in disrepair: “My family owns a mobile home park, and it has several old, vacant mobile homes in it. It got me wondering – is there a way we could upcycle these old mobile homes at a reasonable cost to provide affordable housing?”  

After digging into the data, Cindy learned that as of 2018, there were over 109,000 abandoned mobile homes in North Carolina alone – and another 200,000+ in such poor condition that they were likely to be abandoned soon. Typically, these homes are either disposed of completely or refurbished. “A complete teardown creates a lot of waste that goes straight to the landfill – and a refurb is often cost prohibitive and out of reach for many,” Cindy shares. “I started to wonder – what if there’s another option?”  

Enter: 3-D printing.  

“3D printing has already been used to build traditional-style homes. So I thought, why not use it to refurbish abandoned mobile homes?,” Cindy recalls. Here’s how it would work: with 3-D printing, the chassis or frame of a mobile home would be preserved, and a new structure would be 3-D printed on top of it. The previous structure would undergo what Cindy calls a “meticulous tear-down,” with as many components as possible being upcycled or recycled.   

The result would be a new, stronger, and more environmentally friendly mobile home. Relative to traditional building, 3-D printing is inexpensive and fast. It’s also repeatable, and the resulting structure is safe and efficient. “These upcycled homes would be strong – they’d hold up well to severe weather, they’d be fire-resistant and energy efficient. Old mobile homes are none of these things,” Cindy explains.   

Supported by SAS 

When Cindy needed a 3-D model of a mobile home for her presentation, a colleague quickly stepped up to the plate.

Cindy shared her idea through our annual Big Ideas program, an internal series of short, inspiring employee talks. Each year, our people submit their biggest, brightest and best big ideas, and a select few are chosen to present on the big stage. “Big Ideas empowered me to take an idea and share it broadly,“ she explains. “I’ve been given a stage and support along the way, not just by SAS, but by my coworkers as well.”   

“I’m on the shy side, and doing something like this was a step outside my comfort zone. But it felt like the right thing to do, and a great opportunity to share an idea that I truly believe can make a difference,” she shares.  

Importance of Innovation  

Cindy’s always been curious, and credits her inquisitive spirit to her Dad: “As a child, my father told me to never stop asking questions, and I took that to heart,” she shares. Today, Cindy is a self-proclaimed “realistic optimist” – always asking questions. She’s fascinated by technology and the ever-present opportunity for innovation: “If we don’t innovate, we stagnate,” Cindy explains. “It’s easy to keep resting on the status quo, but we can’t do that. At SAS, we’re always asking, “What if?”.  

“It’s easy to keep resting on the status quo, but we can’t do that. At SAS, we’re always asking, “What if?”.  - Cindy Turner, Sr. Communications Specialist 

Outside the office  

When she’s not writing at SAS or exploring how to solve the world’s most pressing problems, you’ll find Cindy enjoying the great outdoors and spending time with her family, including her college-aged son and their furry “dog child,” Riley. “I love walking, hiking and camping,” she shares. She also enjoys playing music and singing: “Mostly piano and French horn these days,” she says. 

Cindy inspires us to think big and never stop innovating. Looking to join a company where Your Curiosity Matters? Look no further than the #saslife. Explore open roles and learn more about our culture 



About Author

Alyssa Grube

Communications Specialist

Alyssa is a Communications Specialist at SAS focused on culture, recruitment marketing and employer branding. She’s a creative storyteller who’s passionate about the intersection of people and brand, and loves sharing the SAS story.

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