Monday, April 23, 2012

LEEDing the way with the Home Improvement and Energy Conservation Laboratory

Jim Paley, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven
By Jim Paley, executive director,
Neighborhood Housing Services
of New Haven

The vision for NHS of New Haven’s Home Improvement and Energy Conservation Laboratory (Lab) came to us around 2004. We had been looking for a place to hold classes on homebuyer education, maintenance, and energy-conservation, and we wanted the facility to reflect the lessons being taught. The dilapidated old grocery store on 24 Hudson Street was chosen because it was close to our office and in the middle of the communities we serve.

24 Hudson Street, before and after
24 Hudson Street, from dilapidated grocery to LEED-certified Lab
Applying to the Kresge Foundation for a $175,000 Challenge Grant motivated us to think of LEED® certification for the Lab. After all, part of our organizational mission is to support sustainable building and we wanted our application to Kresge to be as competitive as possible. The rest of the story, as they say, is history. Our director of design and construction, Henry Dynia, started us off with his design skills and knowledge about technical systems and recycling opportunities; our rehabilitation specialist, Kathy Fay, kept the LEED certification process moving with her diligence, analytical and writing skills, and perseverance; and our consultant, Deb Lombard, kept us headed in the right direction with her experience, technical expertise, and familiarity with the LEED process. 

The Lab has now been awarded LEED certification at the Platinum level through the US Green Building Council, and is one of only three LEED Platinum commercial buildings under the LEED for New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation program in Connecticut. Through this certification we achieved a standard of excellence that makes me extremely proud of my staff. We created a model facility that aligns well with the part of our mission that emphasizes energy conservation and sustainability. I couldn’t think of a better place to teach and demonstrate basic home maintenance and energy-conservation techniques to homeowners.

More information about this project is available in the April 19 press release.