Greater City Providence

Little Green Groundbreaking


Rendering from Kite Architects

Last year the city held a design contest for environmentally sensitive, affordable homes in Providence. Local architect, Christine Malecki West was one of the winners.

Today, ground is being broken on Boylston Avenue for the first of Christine’s sustainable houses. The house is being built by Native Structures of Providence. Native Structures will be blogging the home’s construction. It is hoped the home will earn a LEED Platinum certification by using the following building inovations:

  • Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) – high performance building panels used in floors, walls, and roofs. SIPs are made by sandwiching a core of rigid foam plastic insulation between two structural board skins. The result is a building system that is extremely strong, energy efficient, and cost effective.
  • Fly ash mix concrete – Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal. When recycled into concrete mix, it creates a stronger concrete and saves virgin materials, energy, landfill costs, and reduces pollution.
  • Whole house fan – a type of fan installed in a building’s ceiling that draws cool outdoor air inside through open windows and exhausts hot indoor air through the attic to the outside. A whole house fan can lower the temperature in a building very quickly and is more energy efficient and less expensive to operate than air conditioning.
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood – certified as originating from well-managed forests that harvest wood in a sustainable manner.
  • Reclaimed wood – LEED House will reuse 89-year-old Douglas-fir wood boards and features reclaimed from a garage on the property. Using reclaimed wood prevents the continued destruction of existing old-growth forests, and will be an attractive feature of the finished home.
  • Green roof garage – LEED House garage roof will feature a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane to allow for the planting of vegetation. The green roof will help reduce stormwater runoff by filtering and absorbing rain fall.

Christine promised some photos of today’s groundbreaking (including shiny shovels) and we will post them soon. We look forward to following the progress of this house and hope it is the first of many little green houses in Providence.


Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • This is a great post! It is great to see Providence promoting green building. Whole house fans are not only the least expensive, they are also the most environmentally friendly way to cool a home in areas where outdoor temperatures and humidity are low enough at night to provide cooling. Unlike conventional air conditioners, they don’t use any potentially harmful refrigerants and power consumption is extremely low. I have really been trying to get the word out about this method of cooling at Whole House Fan Info because I think not enough people are aware of the benefits!

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