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Governor McKee, RI Office of Energy Resources and RIHousing Announce Zero-Energy Housing Awards

PROVIDENCE, RI Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, the Office of Energy Resources (OER) and RIHousing announced today the award of funds to develop highly energy efficient housing for low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders. The demonstration program, Zero Energy for the Ocean State (ZEOS), is the result of a public-sector partnership between OER, RIHousing, and National Grid to explore innovative, replicable solutions to utilize cost saving, clean energy technologies in homes.

"Addressing climate change and creating more affordable housing are two key priorities for my Administration," said Governor Dan McKee. "This effort is a perfect example of sustainable and innovative growth in those areas that in turn will provide affordable housing for Rhode Islanders and help us reach our bold but necessary climate change target. I want to thank the Office of Energy Resources, RIHousing, and all of the partners who collaborated on this program to benefit Rhode Islanders now and in the future."

"As Rhode Island works to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050, the state must accelerate its investment in cost-effective, clean energy solutions that reduce energy consumption and costs, shrink our carbon footprint, and grow good-paying jobs. The ZEOS project builds upon the momentum of recent successes in growing our green energy economy, while supporting the expansion of more affordable housing options for Rhode Islanders," said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci.

"RIHousing is committed to developing affordable, well designed and sustainable homes and communities for Rhode Islanders," said Carol Ventura, Executive Director at RIHousing. "This multi-agency investment will create replicable models for sustainable development while also helping to reduce the collective carbon footprint of the state and reducing energy costs for residents."

OER and RIHousing have committed a total of $750,000 in funding to three developers who will produce a range of building types in rural, suburban and urban parts of the state.

All three recipients of ZEOS Demonstration funds will develop stock plans to ensure replicability of their zero energy designs. The projects are:

Brookside Terrace II (Dakota Partners): construction of a 48-unit, garden-style rental housing development in East Greenwich. The development includes one-bedroom and two-bedroom units for households earning less than 60% AMI (Area Median Income). Dakota Partners will also be achieving PHIUS (Passive House) certification and is committed to providing much-needed affordable housing in the East Greenwich area.

Lockwood Plaza (WinnCompanies): retrofit of sixteen (16) low rise, townhouse-style units in Providence. Lockwood Plaza will serve as a demonstration project for the state as the developer will rehabilitate existing brick buildings by adding exterior insulation, solar PV, and electrifying the building to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bourne Mills III (The Armory Revival Company (TARC)): construction of a 59-unit apartment building adjacent to Historic Bourne Mill in Tiverton. Forty-seven (47) units will be restricted to tenants that earn 60% or less AMI with the remaining 12 units restricted to tenants earning 120% or less AMI. TARC has also committed to meeting PHIUS certification and the RI Stretch Code.

To qualify for this program, developers must commit to designing and constructing affordable, Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs). ZEBs are defined as any energy-efficient building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by a building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

In addition to meeting ZEB standards, developers must also participate in National Grid's Residential New Construction Program (www.ngrid.com/save) and will work closely with program partners throughout the design, construction, and data collection phases.

"We look forward to supporting the 2021 ZEOS initiative to further accelerate the adoption of net zero energy homes for the affordable housing market in Rhode Island," said Chris Porter, Director, Customer Energy Management, National Grid. "The principles of this grant to create replicable designs incorporating strategies to reduce energy cost burdens, improve thermal comfort, and support the clean energy future are critical to ensuring a reliable, equitable and scalable pathway to decarbonization for all Rhode Islanders."

Funding awards were announced at the December meeting of the RIHousing Board of Commissioners. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was released in May 2021 with initial funding of $750,000 available. A portion of that amount, $250,0000, was made available thanks to the state's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

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