Bill Potter, owner and president of Squash Meadow Construction, said the exit exam for his Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional certification was the hardest test that he has ever taken. Looking back, Mr. Potter now knows it was worth it.
“The recently completed Vineyard House sober living community has officially been awarded the highest possible rating of Platinum in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for homes program,” Mike Chandler, Squash Meadow office manager, said in a press release. “The campus, which was completed in December of 2014 by Squash Meadow Construction, Inc., and Westchester Modular Homes, Inc., was certified through a rigorous rating process and achieved enough points to meet the threshold required for platinum certification.”
In the green building community, this platinum certification is a pretty big deal, an Olympic gold medal of sorts. It requires effort and funds that go above and beyond the standard for a typical structure.
“To get a house certified as a LEED project requires doing numerous things to the house that aren’t necessary for the regular building code but make the building more durable, more energy-efficient, have better indoor air quality, better efficiency with saving water, be better for the surrounding environment, and essentially just a smarter way to build,” Mr. Potter said Friday.
Every extra step in the building process that adds an environmentally “green” element requires a third-party inspection to ensure that it was built to the LEED standards.
“The way LEED works is you get a certain number of points for different things that you do,” he said.
For instance, the score for energy efficiency is determined by elements such as the amount of insulation, the type of insulation, the efficiency of the heating system, and the efficiency of the appliances. The more efficient, the more points are awarded. And energy efficiency is only one of eight categories that are analyzed.
Following the inspection, one of four levels of LEED certifications can be awarded: LEED certified, LEED silver, LEED gold, and LEED platinum.
“We were awarded platinum certification for the Vineyard House project, which is special in many ways,” Mr. Potter said.
The Vineyard House was founded in 1997 by a group of volunteers who saw the need in the community for recovery support of people after they detoxify. The organization “provides temporary homes for alcohol and/or drug dependent persons primarily from the Martha’s Vineyard community who need a sober, stable, and mutually supportive transitional environment in which to find health and independence,” according to its website.
The new Vineyard House, constructed by SMC, is designed for group living, and includes private and semiprivate bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and common areas. A separate administrative building includes a community conference room, and will host 12-step meetings and other recovery programs.
Mr. Potter said the mission of this particular project made the work feel very special.
“The committee that was in charge of this project for the Vineyard House, it was just a fantastic group of people,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to do something to give back to the community.”
He says “give back to the community” because all the additional work and materials it took to achieve the LEED certification were donated by SMC. Nonetheless, he said, the project operated on a small budget, which made achieving platinum status all the more groundbreaking for the team.
The LEED construction also supports the mission of Vineyard House because it provides a healthier and safer environment. Dirt and dust harbored in carpeting, for example, are responsible for 18 percent of asthma in the United States, Mr. Potter said.
“So it’s simple things like that,” he said. “In the Vineyard House, it’s 100 percent noncarpeting, only tile or hardwood floors. So when I say a healthier home, that’s something that helps with the indoor air quality.”
He said the homes are 45 percent more energy-efficient than a typical building, which helps the environment and lowers day-to-day energy costs.
“As far as water efficiency, all the toilets are dual-flush toilets, and the faucets are low-flow,” he said. “So not only is it not using as much water, it’s showing that doing simple things in life can help the environment in many ways.”
Mr. Potter and his team at SMC have been in the business of green building since his LEED professional accreditation in 2008. At the time, it was an effort to set his business apart from the competition. Now “building a greener future” has become a mantra for the company, and they are celebrating their first platinum certification.
“We’re super proud of this achievement,” Mr. Potter said. “And we’re also very grateful for the opportunity to do this for the community.”