United Way builds ‘Zero Energy’ Patchogue home for a local vet



Rolling up their sleeves to make the community greener both inside and out, the United Way of Long Island has been teaming up with veterans to build an energy-efficient home for a former service member and his family in Patchogue Village.

The newly refurbished house at Oak Street and Maple Avenue is just getting some finishing touches.

Helping to lay the groundwork, Bissett Nursery of Holtsville was on hand this month to oversee the planting of low-maintenance trees, shrubs, and flowers that were specifically selected for their heartiness and ease of care — saving more money for the incoming homeowners.

“Building a zero-energy home doesn’t stop at the walls of the house,” said Theresa Regnante, the president and CEO of United Way of Long Island. “We thank Bissett for adding their specialized and extensive knowledge to this project, helping to ensure that the family who lives here feels confident that the outside of their home will only add to the beauty, and not the cost, of living.”

This is an official U.S. Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home.

The high performance residence boasts a renewable energy system that can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption — translating into virtually non-existent energy bills.

United Way also uses these projects as a platform to provide returning veterans and low-income youth with the opportunity to learn hands-on job skills.

During the landscaping work, representatives from Bissett guided the veterans from VetsBuild as well as Youthbuild students, teaching them about horticulture as well as working hands-on digging in the dirt — even operating heavy machinery to enhance the landscaping.

“There is a great feeling when you volunteer your time to teach those who are eager to learn, especially when that knowledge is an investment in the future of those who served our country,” Jim Vazzana, a veteran and a customer service specialist at Bissett Nursery.

The newly updated landscape marks the final steps in the construction process, which began in August 2014.

The new homeowners, whose names were not made public, are expected to move here in July.

Top photo: Bill Wiessmuller teaches YouthBuild students how to operate landscaping machinery.

(United Way of Long Island courtesy photo)