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The first Platinum LEED Certification award for an older home in Rhode Island marks a sea change in sustainability

Photo by Richard Asinof

The award ceremony for the first Platinum LEED certified home in Rhode Island. From left, Felice Holt, homeowner, Richard Rodi, contractor, Kenneth J. Filarksi, chair of the of U.S. Green Building Council in Rhode Island, State Rep. Aaron Regunberg, and Providence Office of Sustainability director Leah Bamberger.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 9/10/18
An important sea change occurred in recognizing the first Platinum LEED certified home in Rhode Island, even if it did not make the headlines.
What kinds of investments can the R.I. Infrastructure Bank make to create more LEED green home building projects in Rhode Island? What kind of training exists for home buildings in the art and science of LEED-certified construction? Are there opportunities to create a comprehensive system of behind the meter solar panels, solar hot water panels and rainwater barrels to meet LEED standards?
Imagine living in a home with very small electric bills, minuscule heating bills, one that is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, that promotes good health by improved air circulation, healthier water through an improved filtration system, better use of natural light, and plantings are native and drought resistant. Would such amenities create a better sense of belonging in a neighborhood?

PROVIDENCE – In a sea change event, it is sometimes hard to discern when the first actual wave of change occurs. More often, the results and outcomes are evident only much later in time.

In a world of what seems to be constant sorrow, including a school shooting in Providence that occurred as the award ceremony was taking place, the positive changes taking place can easily get lost in the flood of bad news and political conflict.

The presentation of the first Platinum LEED Award at a project home in Rhode Island by the National U.S. Green Building Council on Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the Holt residence at 509 Wayland Ave. in Providence marked what Kenneth J. Filarksi, chair of the of U.S. Green Building Council in Rhode Island called “an historic event.”

[For the uninitiated, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a green building certification program used worldwide. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings. LEED-certified homes and buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.]

A vote of confidence in sustainability
For Richard Rodi, the contractor with ClearPoint Builders, receiving the Platinum LEED Award for his efforts was a vote of confidence in sustainability in Rhode Island.

“I demonstrated that you can do this is for absolutely any home,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how old the home is or what condition it is in.”

For Leah Bamberger, director of Sustainability for the City of Providence, the project was an amazing accomplishment. “In my opinion, one of the best things about the LEED certification program is the education and awareness,” she said. You are showcasing this project not only to Providence but to the rest of the state, setting a new standard for development.”

You are raising the bar, Bamberger continued. “We need to be showing the world that this is possible, that it can happen, that it can happen here in Providence, and that it can happen with an older home.”

There are some 60,000 households in Providence, Bamberger added, talking about the potential opportunity for growth. “We have a goal as a city to be carbon-free by 2050,” she said. “What we know we need to do is to lead by example, to show the world.”

The context for investing in green building
For Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who represents the neighborhood in the R.I. General Assembly and who is running to become the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, the Platinum LEED award was an exciting, important achievement.

Regunberg offered some context for the award. “We know the urgent need to take action around the climate crisis that we’re facing,” he began. “We’re talking about an existential threat for all of us on the planet and particularly here in the Ocean State. We know that we need to be making investments in green building and in energy efficiency, but [those investments] often don’t happen.”

Regunberg lauded the owner of the home, Felice Holt, for being willing to make the investment, for the commitment to actually make it happen, and to hire a contractor such as Rodi who has the expertise. “This is a really exciting day; we need a whole lot more of [this work] to happen, and hopefully this [home project] can be an inspiration.”

A partnership between the contractor and the homeowner
In closing, Rodi thanked the homeowner for the opportunity for being willing to invest in the sustainable rebuilding of her home.

“I believe in LEED with all my heart,” Rodi said. “I believe in sustainability. When Felice gave me the opportunity to do this project, I had carte blanche to do whatever I wanted, to build a true statement about sustainability in Rhode Island.”

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