Superior Performance Makes it Way from the United Kingdom to United Way

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July 21, 2022 11:00am (Deer Park, NY) – United Way of Long Island held a Panel-Raising Ceremony on Thursday, July 21 to announce the newest high-efficiency housing development project in its growing portfolio. The 1,100 sf, 3BR, 2BA home is now under construction, employing exceptional building designs and technologies, including a first-in-the-nation deployment of the Etopia Build System, facilitating high-quality, resilient, all-electric, low-carbon housing in Britain and beyond.

United Way acquired the property located at 78 south 30th Street in Wyandanch from the Suffolk County Landbank.  United Way will develop and sell the property to an income eligible homebuyer (please see chart below).  For example if it is a four person family, the gross income for the household cannot exceed $94,900.


Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone stated, “United Way’s innovative leadership continues to raise the bar in the housing industry. This project, made possible in part by the Suffolk County Landbank, is yet another example of what is possible in our community for more efficient, resilient, and sustainable housing. Together we are working to build a brighter future for Suffolk County.”

Richard Schaffer, Babylon Town Supervisor added, “This home design aligns perfectly with our number one objective, as well as United Way’s mission: improving quality of life for residents. Once completed, we look forward to welcoming the first-time homeowners into this first-time state-of-the-art home build that will endure Long Island’s environmental elements and ensure comfort and safety.” 

PanelDesigned by New York based design firm, Jon Powell Architecture, in close partnership with United Way and Project Etopia Group from the United Kingdom, the house aims to be a model for comfortable, low-cost, high-quality living on Long Island and beyond. Importantly, these new materials are exceptionally strong and especially resilient to fire, water, and wind. The synthesis of innovative designs and technologies converge into a house named PROJECT ENDURANCE.

“With today’s compounding challenges in housing, employment, affordability, sustainability, and equity, we are eager to again showcase new and compelling solutions,” said Theresa A. Regnante, president and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “We are grateful to our partners, sponsors, allies, and the labor force who have brought this project to fruition.”

Throughout the construction process, United Way will be engaging its students and alumni to teach first-hand knowledge of new, high-performance building technologies and modern methods of construction.  Training will occur in the field at the project site, as well as at the organization’s E3 SmartBuild Training Center in Deer Park.  Through this and other projects, and United Way’s partnership with NYSERDA, the E3 SmartBuild Training Center is providing tomorrow’s workforce with the skills needed to build a Long Island community of the future that leaves a lighter footprint on the environment and structures that are built to last.

“We are proud to begin construction on another truly remarkable project that will serve our Long Island community,” said Rick Wertheim, senior vice president of housing development, sustainability and training at United Way of Long Island. “This is an exciting opportunity to showcase several leading-edge technologies and train our building science students in new and promising methods of construction for attainable, high-performance, high-quality housing.”

Alex Rius, head of Etopia International added, “It has been a rewarding experience collaborating with the United Way of Long Island team. We could not be more excited to bring the Etopia Build System to New York. This is our first building in North America and marks the 4th continent Etopia has entered into. No other panelized build system has made such a global footprint to date.”

Architect Jon Powell said, “This is a refreshing collaboration with inspiring ambitions during a challenging time in our industry. We are thrilled to work with United Way of Long Island, shepherding this project through design and now into construction!”

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Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and flexible indoor/outdoor living spaces flow seamlessly into this small footprint home that, at 1,100 square feet, feels far more spacious through thoughtful design. The home is also light and airy, offering more comfortable indoor spaces.

The hyper-efficient building envelope, fortified by the Etopia Build System, minimizes the need for heating and cooling, slashing energy waste. With diminished energy demand from HVAC, a rooftop solar-electric system covers 100% of the projected annual energy demand for the home, keeping carbon in the ground and money in the homeowner’s pockets.

The high-efficiency home design is centered around human health and wellness, with carefully managed airflows, generous daylight, and optimized visitability for people of all ages and abilities. Dr. Kenneth Harris II, former NASA engineer and technical advisor to the project, describes the project as “cutting edge in a time when we truly need to evaluate our impact on the Earth, reduce our carbon footprint, and boost our resilience.”

Building Features and Innovations:
Among many careful decisions for optimized design, materials, and technologies, PROJECT ENDURANCE includes several stand-out innovations:

  • Exceptional Envelope: The Etopia Build System offers exceptional strength, durability, insulation, and air tightness in an easy-to-assemble set of panels. The panels that comprise the home’s walls withstand exceptional forces, deflect fire, and cannot deteriorate through termites or wood rot, yielding a home that goes above and beyond base building code requirements to overcome the many risks to buildings in New York. These large, interlocking bricks have been tested for exceptional performance against rigorous UK standards, earning top marks in many areas such as strength, fire safety, efficiency, and durability. This simpler structure is erected with speed and quality, limiting areas needing special attention. The envelope also includes efficient exterior doors and windows.
  • Improved Affordability: The Etopia Build System offsets traditional building materials for framing, insulating, air-sealing, and weatherproofing exterior walls. The speed of construction saves labor time on site. The reduced energy demand makes it possible to cover the home’s annual energy requirements with the generous power of the sun through a rooftop photovoltaic system. The result is a home that is far more attainable, at the intersection of lower first-cost and lower operating cost.
  • All-Electric: Whereas most American homes have used gas-fired systems for home heating and hot water, new heat pump technologies enable high-efficiency heating, cooling, and hot water in virtually all climates. Removing combustion from the home improves indoor air quality and shifts emissions to New York’s rapidly-greening electric grid. For most days of the year, the home will generate all the energy it needs from the rooftop solar-electric system.
  • Indoor/Outdoor Vernacular: The design team implemented a building layout that complements local architectural styles and harnesses the prevailing winds, inviting the homeowner and guests to use windows and both indoor and outdoor spaces that flow through the center of the home. This is the first project where United Way of Long Island has introduced a car port to provide more flexible spaces for the future homeowner.

In 2021, United Way of Long Island acquired the property in the Wyandanch hamlet of Babylon, New York through a donation from the Suffolk County Land Bank. In return for this gift, the United Way of Long Island has pledged to develop and sell a home to a first-time homebuyer at a 20% discount from the going market rate.

In September, 2021, United Way of Long Island earned its seventh consecutive Housing Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Energy for an innovative application of geothermal energy for a new group home in Medford, NY. Shortly thereafter, the team began searching for partners for its next innovative project, encountering Project Etopia, headquartered in London, UK. Founded by a British man who had grown up in and out of homelessness, Project Etopia is making waves in the UK and globally with its solutions for zero energy ready homes that are simple, fast, reliable, and resilient.

Jon Powell Architecture was engaged early in the project to synthesize these British building concepts with local design vernacular and themes of affordability, durability, comfort, and – especially – abundance. The project has not been immune to complex supply chains, labor shortages, and the inflation of construction costs and budgets. Even so, the project is proudly moving forward with great care to execute various project and budget efficiencies that continue to prioritize the health, comfort, and budget of the future homeowner and others who may follow this example.

Breaking ground in July, the project will engage current students and graduates of the E3 SmartBuild Training Center in the project’s construction, facilitating training in next-generation building technologies, materials, and methods. United Way of Long Island aims to complete the project in the fall of 2022 with opportunities to view the completed home at a future date. PROJECT ENDURANCE applications will be open to qualified first-time home buyers beginning in the near future.

United Way’s work is pivotal in changing the landscape of home design and construction. For 20 years, the organization has built nearly 100 homes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties and, within the past seven years, has tailored its focus to build high-performing, energy-efficient homes – addressing the need for healthy and attainable housing on Long Island. To learn more about United way of Long Island and PROJECT ENDURANCE, visit www.unitedwayli.org/ProjectEndurance.

Photo caption: (front row l to r) Fred, U.S. Navy veteran and United Way Power Up student; Lee McArdle, COO Etopia International; Alex Rius, CEO, Etopia International; Alexander Bateman, Partner Ruskin Moscou Faltischek and United Way of Long Island Chair of the Board; Jeremy Sigmon, Director and Treasurer, Etopia USA Inc.; Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive; Sarah Landsdale, President, Suffolk County Landbank; Dorian Dale, Director of Sustainability/Chief Recovery Officer, Suffolk County Landbank; Theresa Regnante, President and CEO, United Way of Long Island; Rick Wertheim, SVP of Housing Development, Sustainability and Training, United Way of Long Island; Alphonsus, U.S. Navy veteran and United Way Power Up student; and John, United Way Power Up student (back row l to r) Kenneth Harris II, NASA Senior Project Engineer; Oliver Chene, Architect, Jon Powell Architecture, PLLC; Stephen Muzyka, Director of Training, United Way of Long Island; Javontae United Way Power Up student; Guillermo, U.S. Army National Guard veteran and United Way Power Up student; Dylan Chan, Architect, Jon Powell Architecture, PLLC; Jon Powell, Principal, Jon Powell Architecture, PLLC; and Amber Marshall, Program Manager-Department of Housing, United Way of Long Island.

Thanks to Partners and Sponsors:
United Way of Long Island is grateful for the generous sponsors, partners, and the labor force who are making PROJECT ENDURANCE a reality. Deep thanks for collaboration, discounts, and pro-bono services offered by Jon Powell Architecture, PLLC and Etopia International. Equipment sponsors currently include Greenheck for the ventilation and energy recovery system and Panasonic for the heat pump system.