From left, Jon Erickson, Account Manager at CLEAResult; Melissa Marin, a Sheridan Small Homes homeowner, and Milton Baxter, Director of Real Estate at ONE Neighborhood Builders, were the panelists for the first Fresh Friday’s virtual session on Friday, May 20, 2022.

More than two dozen people attended ONE Neighborhood Builders’ first Fresh Fridays community development discussion, focusing on Sheridan Small Homes.

The Zoom panelists on Friday included Milton Baxter, Director of Real Estate at ONE Neighborhood Builders; Jon Erickson, Account Manager at CLEAResult; and Melissa Marin, a Sheridan Small Homes homeowner. The session began with a short video about Sheridan Small Homes, Rhode Island’s first net-zero-energy small homes built to Passive House efficiency standards.

Baxter explained that it’s part of ONE|NB’s mission to provide affordable housing, but in a sustainable way. He said some of the important factors in designing the 5-home Sheridan Small Homes was to focus on the “lived experience” for the owners, building the homes to Passive House standards, reducing costs to owners by using solar panels to offset condo fees, saving on costs and passing on knowledge by bringing in RISD architecture students, and using Building Futures, a local organization that trains apprentices in the building trades.

Erickson, who was the was the account manager for National Grid’s new construction incentive program, talked about how the homes were constructed. He spoke about the nature of the home foundations and how the super insulation works under the floor, and that the goal was to create a “high performance home” that was net-zero energy while also providing a healthy indoor environment. The most important elements in the homes’ construction, he said, were that they be airtight, yet still be well-ventilated; that the homes have energy-efficient, triple paned windows; and that the entire home be super insulated.

Erickson also spoke to how the design lends itself to efficiency, but also feeling bigger for the homeowners. He relayed comments made to him by RISD professor Jonathan Knowles about the size of the home: “every time you turn a corner, there’s a window.” That makes the home, at only about 750 square feet, feel bigger.

When asked about what it was like living in her small home, Melissa Marin was quick to say “I love the size of the home, especially for cleaning.”

Marin has owned her Sheridan Small Home since November 2021 and said she loves living there. She said that for an active neighborhood, right off Manton Avenue, she was surprised by how quiet her home is, and that she loves that the overall design and that it feels bigger because it has so many windows. She said she never envisioned herself buying a home, but ONE|NB made the process smoother. The biggest learning curve, she said, was mastering her new, modern appliances.

The Fresh Friday sessions will be held on the third Friday of every month, with the next sessions being planned for June 17 and July 15. Future topics will likely include a discussion on free community WiFi and another on the role of community health workers.