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United Way Ground Breaking


Making Green History

On Earth Day, April 22, 2015, United Way of Long Island (UWLI) in partnership with United Veterans Beacon House (UVBH) made history breaking ground on – the first in the country – Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Home that will be built by veterans for veterans under the UWLI VetsBuild® program.

This green residence, located in Huntington Station, NY, will be home to several military veterans with special needs. Committed to improving the lives of families and individuals, and paying particular attention to helping veterans transition back into civilian life, United Way of Long Island’s President & CEO Theresa Regnante said, “Building this home is crucial to our mission, as it will make a significant impact on the lives of veterans. It is our goal to provide a healthy living environment with very low operational costs.”

A DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is a high performance home, which is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption – translating into virtually non-existent energy bills.

“The United Way of Long Island project is the first of its kind to be certified under the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home program,” said Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect of the Building Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the DOE. “Only a select group of the top builders in the country meet the extraordinary levels of excellence and quality specified by U.S. Department of Energy guidelines, but the fact that this will be a home built by a group of veterans for a group of veterans, sets this building project apart.”

The durability of the home reduces or even eliminates the need for expensive ongoing maintenance. Regnante says this is desirable because it makes the house financially manageable, which is especially important to the veterans who will be living there. She said, “Imagine living in a home that’s healthier, safer and more comfortable with no energy bills and will last for 50 plus years. The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home is leading the path of green building, and United Way of Long Island, through our VetsBuild Program, is proud to be the first to make this dream come true for so many deserving veterans.”

“With an estimated 12,200 veterans unemployed on Long Island, the VetsBuild Program has opened the career door for many of these military heroes by providing cutting edge training, ultimately leading to jobs,” said Frank Amalfitano, United Veterans Beacon House President & CEO said. “A direct result of these training programs are DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes, such as the one that will be built in Huntington Station by participants of the VetsBuild Training Program.

Congressman Steve Israel coined the name VetsBuild. His vision was to develop a career pathway program in partnership with United Way of Long Island that reflected job growth trends in the region, “I am so proud of today’s VetsBuild accomplishment. It has been a labor of love since we launched this effort in 2011 with the United Way and United Veterans Beacon House. After our veterans bravely serve our country, VetsBuild ensures they come home to good paying jobs in the high-growth green construction industry. VetsBuild shows that by working together on all levels of government and with the public and private sector, we can help our community and New York veterans. Today’s announcement in Huntington Station is an important step forward and I look forward to building on this success.”

As part of $81.9 million in state aid that will support 97 projects in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, United Way of Long Island was awarded $600,000 over three years from New York State Department of State for VetsBuild as part of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative. Additional partners include The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Building Performance Institute Inc., State Department of Energy, GEICO, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Knapp Swezey Foundation, L.I. Regional Economic Development Council, National Grid, NYSERDA, PSEG, and United Veterans Beacon House.

“We are committed to ensuring that New York continues to be a State of Opportunity for all,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “Our investment will enable veterans to stay on Long Island and enjoy careers in the green construction sector.

Regnante said, “The investment made by New York State Department of State will enable veterans to stay on Long Island and enjoy careers in the green construction sector. The best hope for a bright future for Long Island begins and ends with the ability to strengthen our economy and give everyone the opportunity to succeed."

This year’s Earth Day groundbreaking is in alignment with the one year anniversary of the grand opening of UWLI’s 5,000-square-foot state-of-the-art E3 SmartBuild Training Center located in Deer Park, NY. This building laboratory, developed in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities initiative is vital to training students in the areas of building science, energy efficiency, and green construction.

“Education and career training is critical as we drive to scale up the State’s clean energy economy through Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Building the next generation workforce remains a key component to building a cleaner, more reliable, affordable energy system.”

United Way of Long Island’s Green Building Programs were developed to provide the workforce of tomorrow with the skills to build future Long Island communities that leave a lighter footprint on the environment. To learn more about the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, the E3 SmartBuild Center or UWLI’s VetsBuild Training Program, visit

About United Way of Long Island
United Way of Long Island advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, financial
stability and health. We recruit people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become part of the change. United Way of Long Island is part of a worldwide network spanning across 41 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. For more information about United Way of Long Island, please visit, Facebook United Way of Long Island or Twitter @unitedwayli.

About VetsBuild
VetsBuild is a partnership program with United Way of Long Island and United Veterans Beacon House to help veterans find employment in the green construction industry. The grant from New York State Department of State will expand career training services for veterans. At no cost, veterans will be trained for green collar employment opportunities in energy efficiency, renewables, weatherization, Energy-Star construction, home performance, HVAC and home restoration. Training will be conducted at United Way’s E3 SmartBuild Training Center.

About United Veterans Beacon House
United Veterans Beacon House is a Long Island 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1994 that is committed to serving homeless and at-risk U.S veterans. The agency fulfills its mission by providing emergency, temporary and permanent housing, and wrap around supportive services to veterans in need. To
date United Veterans Beacon House manages 30 housing locations throughout Nassau & Suffolk counties providing a safe haven to more than 250 persons daily. Since its inception in 1994 the agency has positively impacted the lives of more than 7,700 U.S. veterans. For more information visit

About the Department of Energy
Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Builders Challenge program has recognized hundreds of leading builders for their achievements in energy efficiency—resulting in millions of dollars in energy savings. The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home — an ambitious successor to the Builders Challenge program — represents a whole new level of home performance, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability on the path to zero energy ready homes. A Zero Energy Ready Home is a
high performance home that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption.

NYSERDA, a public
benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and support to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram