If ever there was someone who understands sustainable, affordable housing from the ground up, it’s our new HomeFree Manager Roberto Valle Kinloch.
Roberto began his career earning a BSc. in civil engineering in his home country, Nicaragua. In addition to managing construction projects, Roberto did consulting work with a local non-profit focused on rural community development through the integration of small-scale renewable energy technologies.
His growing interest in sustainability took Roberto to the United Kingdom where he pursued a Master of Science (MSc.) in Renewable Energy, Technology, and Sustainability at the University of Reading. At the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management, a facilities management professional association, he led outreach and training workshops to build the capacity of facilities managers, developed online resources with success stories and best practices, and created opportunities so managers could support each other through peer-to-peer mentoring.
Roberto’s journey then led him back to Nicaragua to work for three years for the Inter-American Development Bank implementing a $408 million national-level clean energy program, which required managing relationships between government officials and donor agencies while engaging stakeholders.
He further honed his skills in energy management and community collaboration through his doctoral program, earning his Ph.D. from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. Continuing his work in commercial and school buildings, he designed an energy efficiency strategy based on stakeholder engagement and was awarded “European Facilities Management Researcher of the Year, 2015.”
Since 2018, Roberto and his wife Jane Leer have settled in Durham, North Carolina. For the last two years, he has served as a consultant for a number of organizations, including working with Durham Community Land Trustees to improve housing conditions and affordability, designing a plastic waste reduction strategy for Burt’s Bees, and working with the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association on creek restoration projects. In all, his focus has remained on engaging people to implement sustainable solutions in their homes and communities.
“I love being at the intersection of three things: research, education, and collaboration,” said Roberto. “My ambition is to have a greater impact on changing the practices of an industry. And to change behavior you really have to engage people, listen to their real needs — because ultimately, what people want is to be heard. This is why the role of HomeFree manager appeals to me greatly!”
Roberto will integrate his skills and experience to expand and advance HBN’s HomeFree initiative. HomeFree supports leaders in the affordable housing sector to co-create sustainable practices for selecting healthier, affordable building products, so that everyone has an opportunity to access better options — not just those able to pay more. Its solutions will re-shape the built environment by leveling the playing field. Special thanks to our philanthropic partners who fund the work: The JPB Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, and The Cedar Tree Foundation. Visit HomeFree to find solutions that work for you.
“We are thrilled to welcome Roberto to the team,” said Gina Ciganik, CEO. “Healthy, affordable housing is a fundamental right, and HomeFree is making that possible. Roberto’s people-centered, interdisciplinary approach to sustainability will be invaluable in engaging and inspiring our HomeFree stakeholders towards safer product solutions that will decrease toxic exposures to marginalized communities and advance health equity.”