PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An abandoned house on Long Island has been turned into a model of energy efficiency, and it was built by veterans learning employable skills in the process.

A typical ribbon-cutting was held Friday on a not-at-all typical house.

It’s a net-zero energy smart house, meaning it produces more energy than it uses, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.

A ribbon-cutting on Long Island on July 12, 2019, unveiled a house that won honors as the nation’s most innovative affordable home, and it’s going to be bought by an Army veteran. (Credit: CBS2)

The house used to be a zombie house, an eye sore, but it was acquired by Suffolk County and turned into a model of sustainability.

“This is the house of the future today. This is the iPhone X of homes. This is a prototype for what can be, and what we want homes of the future to be is to live well, to work well, to take us into the future,” Rick Wertheim, with United Way, said.

The house won the Department of Energy housing innovation award. It will soon be home to Army Sgt. Brian Pullis, a combat paratrooper in Afghanistan who, once home, had to battle to land a job.

“It was very difficult for me to find a job where they were willing to take me on my word that I had leadership skills of leading men to combat, that I had management skills. But they, you know, that’s hard to have someone take you on your word when you don’t have a college degree,” Pullis said.

But in the United Way’s VetsBuild program, Pullis learned skills to build smart houses.

He’s employed now in the heating business, earning enough to purchase the Long Island home, which has virtually no energy bills.

Built by fellow vets from the program, it’s powered by recycled solar panels, low-energy appliances and lights, and a state-of-the-art heat pump system.

“Affordability is not just about price anymore. It’s not just about taxes. It’s about the operational cost of the home … This is the model,” Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone said.

“We can cut out $6,000, $7,000, $8,000 a year in cash of operating cost. There is opportunity for people to send their kids to camp, to maybe go on family vacation, to have a life everybody should enjoy,” Theresa Regnante, president of the United Way of Long Island, said.

“I think it’s amazing that as a veteran, I’m given the opportunity to own a home that was built by my fellow VetsBuild graduates that got to learn skills that will help them in their careers,” Pullis said.

The green house produces enough power to charge an electric vehicle, too, at no additional cost.

The $375,000 house is expected to save around $9,000 a year in energy costs.


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