The Upper Valley (UV) region in New Hampshire and Vermont has many impressive sustainable programs and projects. We wanted to share with you some of the sustainable highlights in the region from what we know. Many towns, businesses, and residents may learn from the happenings in the UV. There are likely more things going on in the region that are not listed. We will do a follow-up for this feature, so let us know what you know about sustainability in the UV that is not included below.
(Please note that contact information for those businesses without web sites listed in the text below can be found in ads listed on page 34 in the full online version of the April issue of Green Energy Times.)
Solar Is Happening All Over the Place
Catamount Solar – Randolph, VT
Catamount has been involved with many projects in the UV. Green Energy Times (GET) has had a number of articles covering Catamount’s work and will doubtless have more. One of the most notable is the solar array at Copeland Furniture. See more on the front page of the August 2016 issue of GET (bit.ly/GET-pollution-solution) and page 10 of the October 2016 issue (bit.ly/GET-pollution-solution-update).
Energy Emporium – Enfield, NH
Energy Emporium was the solar installer for the Solarize Hanover program. It installed 53 residential arrays totaling 355 kW offsetting 9,500 tons of CO2. Its name is familiar to many readers of GET, and its work has been featured several times. You can see more about Energy Emporium on page 13 of this issue. You can also read in GET about their work at Crossroads Academy (bit.ly/GET-Crossroads-Academy), and their web site is energyemp.com.
Frase Electric – South Tamworth, NH
There are some examples of Frase Electric’s work in Lyme, NH, and all are ground-mounted installations. One is a single array, with these features: 5.5 kW, 6,000 kWh annually, 20 Solar World 275-watt panels and 6 kW Solar Edge micro-inverters, 22,000 pounds of CO2 saved (equivalent of planting 555 trees).
Another is a double array, with both arrays together producing 15,000 kWh annually. The front array is 6.6 kW using 24 Solar World 275W panels and a 6-kW SMA tranformerless inverter; the rear array is a 6.8-kW using 24 Solar World 285W panels with a 7-kW SMA transformerless inverter. These were installed 2014 and 2016. Heat pumps are also installed.
Granite State Solar – Boscawen, NH
Granite State Solar is another installer GET has featured (http://bit.ly/2pCNRTO and http://bit.ly/2pgwpY7). One of its installations is in Canaan, NH. Its features: production of 10,060 kWh annually, roof array, CO2 offset of 12.07 tons. Another is in Enfield, NH: 11,680 kWh annually, two ground arrays (one tracker and one fixed), CO2 offset of 14.02 tons. A third is in Grafton, NH: 7,130 kWh annually, roof array, CO2 offset of 8.56 tons.
Milhouse Enterprises – Belmont, NH
Another of our featured installers is Milhouse, which was the subject of our article “Meet Your Solar Installer: Milhouse Enterprises” in August of 2016 (bit.ly/GET-Milhouse). Among its projects are a number of projects in Orford, NH. They include five residential ground-mounted systems ranging from 3.36 kW to 7.7 kW, production from 4,400 kWh to 11,000 kWh annual production, and one roof mounted system of 4.48 kW, with 6000 kWh annual production.
Norwich Solar Technologies – White River Junction, VT
Norwich Solar Technologies has been of special interest both for its installations and for its innovations. Its examples include the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, VT, rated at 731.64 kW-DC, with expected annual generation of 914,550 kWh, offsetting 834,840 pounds of CO2. Other examples include the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, with a 227.8 kW array; Cardigan Mountain School, in Canaan, NH, rated at 964 kW-DC; Kimball Union Academy, in Plainfield, NH, with a 125- kW-DC array; Pirouette Farms, of Norwich, VT, with a 63-kW-DC array; and the Springfield Housing Authority, of Springfield, VT, whose array is 207.9 kW.
O’Meara Solar – West Topsham, VT
O’Meara has also appeared in our pages, most recently in our article, “O’Meara Solar – East Orange, Vermont” (bit.ly/GET-OMeara). A really nice example of its work is a home in Newbury, VT, with a 3.135-kW, 3292 kWh/yr., roof-mounted array. Two others are in Bradford, VT, one with an array of 10.26 kW – 11,286 kWh/yr., roof-mounted, and the other whose array is 6.84 kW – 10,268 kWh/yr., tracker-mounted. There are many other examples of O’Mears’s work listed at its web site, omearasolar.com. They include homes in Haverhill, NH, and Corinth, Chelsea, Royalton, Thetford, and White River Junction VT.
Saxtons River Solar Electric – Saxtons River, VT
There are some examples of Saxtons River’s work in the UV. One in North Haverhill, NH is a 12.9 kW off-grid system. This is a pole-mount system consisting of three poles with 15 panels per pole. Annual projected production is 16,400 kWh. The second installation is in Post Mills, Vermont. This roof-mount system is 5.6 kW and 6.062 kWh annual production.
Solaflect Energy – Norwich, VT:
Over 230 Upper Valley PV tracker installations in a combination of residences, businesses, municipalities, schools, and libraries. These include on-site installations and participants in Solaflect Community Solar Parks. Their total PV capacity is near 1 MW, producing at a rate of approximately 1.6 MWh per year. To date, these trackers offset nearly 1,000,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.
Towns and villages represented include Barnet, Bridgewater Corners, Canaan, Chelsea, Claremont, Cornish, Enfield, Etna, Fairlee, Grantham, Hanover, Hartford, Hartland, Lebanon, Lyme, Newbury, Newport, North Hartland, Norwich, Perkinsville, Plainfield, Post Mills, Reading, Rockingham, Sharon, South Royalton, South Strafford, South Woodstock, Springfield, Strafford, Sunapee, Thetford, Vershire, White River Junction, Windsor, and Woodstock.
Solar Source – Keene, NH
Among the many projects Solar Source has worked on are a number in the Solarize UV programs, They include these twelve systems ranging from 2.75 to 8.415 kW in Cornish, NH, generating 2,970 to 9,088 kWh each year, offsetting 2.3 to 7.0 tons of CO2; four in Cornish Flat, NH, ranging from 3 to 5 kW; three in Meriden, NH, ranging from 3.5 to 5 kW, and six in Plainfield, NH, ranging from 2.5 to 10.5 kW, generating 2,700 to 11,340 kWh per year, offsetting 2.1 to 8.8 tons of CO2. The Solar Source web site is solarsourcene.com.
On December 14, the Sustainable Hanover Town Committee officially endorsed a transition to 100% renewable energy in Hanover, NH, for electricity, heat and transportation by 2050. A full vote by the Town of Hanover on the 100% renewable energy goal will take place May 9, 2017. If approved, Hanover would be the first city or town in New Hampshire to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy. The 100% renewable drive includes all energy used in town — in businesses, municipal services and private residences and vehicles — and would entail both producing the energy in town and, in large part, purchasing it from sustainable sources elsewhere.
The accomplishments of Sustainable Hanover are simply amazing. According to a December 15, 2016 news release from the Sierra Club Upper Valley, 22% of Hanover’s energy use comes from renewable resources, including Dartmouth College, Hypertherm, Kendal at Hanover, and Dartmouth Printing. 2016 is the third year that Hanover has been recognized by the EPA as a Green Power Community.
There simply is not room in this article to do justice to the work done in Hanover. We will have an article on this in our next issue.
Other Sustainable Businesses in the UV
Colatina Exit of Bradford VT is a Vermont Certified Green Restaurant. It recycles, composts, and buys locally to provide the best, fresh food and the lowest carbon footprint. It has diverted over 100,000 tons of waste from local landfills. Colatina Exit was reviewed in GET, you can read all about it at http://bit.ly/GET-Dining-at-Colatina. Or you can visit their website at http://www.colatinaexit.com/.
Chelsea Green Publishing of White River Junction, VT publishes books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. They print books and catalogs on chlorine-free recycled paper, using soy-based inks, whenever possible, and exclusively work with printers based in North America to keep their carbon footprint down. They are a member of the Green Press Initiative.
Copeland Furniture of Bradford, VT has also been featured in GET articles (http://bit.ly/GET-pollution-solution and http://bit.ly/GET-pollution-solution-update). In 2016, Copeland installed a 500 kW solar array that generates 850,000 kWh of electricity annually, offsetting 500 tons of CO2. They are a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and awarded Silver Exemplary Membership status. Wood is locally sourced from sustainably grown forests. Heat is produced with wood waste from the manufacturing process.
COVER Home Repair and ReCOVER Store based in White River Junction, VT accepts donations of quality home furnishings, tools, and building materials, restoring them to new utility and value. Proceeds fund urgently needed home repair and weatherization for low-income families in the Upper Valley. Learn more at www.coverhomerepair.org.
Dan and Whit’s of Norwich, VT is a country store that walks the walk. It is solar-powered with 20, roof-mounted panels. It hosts an EV charging station, uses wood heat, and offers local goods. It reduces waste by donating any over-supply of sandwiches to the Appalachian Trail hikers and Willing Hands food-distribution agency. Oversupply of milk and eggs are donated to the Upper Valley Haven, a regional agency for the homeless. Dan and Whit’s website is http://bit.ly/dan-and-whits.
Farm-Way of Bradford, VT is a 100% solar-powered store. This sustainable family-owned business has also made many energy-efficiency changes to reduce their carbon footprint. It started its solar array in 2009 and enlarged it to cover all the store’s needs. It has also put time and effort into cleaning up environmental problems in the local community, including getting rid of 19,000 gallons of tainted oil in local buried tanks and tearing down “the ugliest building in Bradford.” It is associated with Vermont Gear, and its web site is www.vermontgear.com.
Home Comfort Warehouse in White River Junction, VT offers solar, Mitsubishi heat pumps, EPA-certified wood and pellet stoves, and more. They recently participated in the Vermont wood stove change-out program that will reduce emissions considerably in the region. You can visit their website at bit.ly/home-comfort-warehouse.
Hypertherm based in Hanover, NH is a manufacturer with a mission. It aims to deliver shared value for people and for the planet, as well as for the company’s profitability. The company believes reducing environmental impact is critical to its success. Hypertherm studies continually the environmental effects of its products, operations, and supply chain. It has also established environmental impact reduction strategies for waste, energy, and carbon emissions to be achieved by 2020. These strategies help to guide decision making and strike a balance between meeting current needs and building long-term resiliency and success in an increasingly resource-constrained world.
Loewen Window Center of Vermont & New Hampshire, in White River Junction, VT offers high efficiency windows for high-performance buildings. It has appeared in GET’s pages, in the articles, “Efficient Window Performance” (bit.ly/GET-window-performance), and “Remarks of a Windows Specialist” (http://bit.ly/GET-window-specialist). You can also visit the Loewen Window Center of Vermont & New Hampshire web site at loewenvtnh.com.
Upper Valley Food Co-op of White River Junction, VT is a community-supported natural foods market. It carries local items whenever possible, and makes an effort to purchase from small, independent suppliers.
Produce and products are primarily organic or natural.Vermont Foam Insulation of Chester, VT has been a participant in the UV Weatherization program. Vermont Foam Insulation works with homeowners, builders and architects to provide superior insulation installation and energy efficiency contracting. It undertakes residential, commercial, municipal, and institutional projects, working on new construction and retrofitting. Over the past decade, it has installed over 100 Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) retrofits.
Building Energy – Williston, VT and White River Junction, VT
One example of Building Energy’s homes is in White River Junction, VT. It is a single family residence, completed in July 2016.
A comprehensive energy audit was performed including a blower door test that revealed there were substantial opportunities to reduce air leakage and improve insulation in the attic. The upgrades performed resulted in 58% air leakage reduction, improved comfort, and ability to heat and cool with on-site solar electricity.
The upgrades included extensive air-sealing, insulating the roof and attic areas to R-52 and R-60; removal and sealing of a propane fireplace; installation of two Panasonic Whisper Green Select bath fans for effective moisture removal and mechanical ventilation; a Mitsubishi Hyperheat cold climate heat pump to reduce propane for heating; installation of a 5.2 kW solar PV rooftop array; and rerouting the oven exhaust vent to vent outside for health and safety.
R.H. Irving Homebuilders – Salisbury, NH
Bob Irving, of R.H. Irving Homebuilders, is an enthusiastic promoter of ecologically conscious building and can provide a wealth of information on home construction for efficient and comfortable living. One of the company’s example homes is a residence built in 2017 in Cornish, NH. It includes super-insulation to R40/R60, Intus windows, a quality wood stove, a standing seam roof, and corrugated Galvalum siding. It is lighted 100% by LEDs. It has a condensing dryer, an air-source heat pump, a heat recovery ventilator, and roof mounted solar panels to be installed. R.H. Irving Homebuilders was featured in “Green Builders in our Midst” in December of 2013 (bit.ly/GET-green-builders-12-2015).
Unity Homes – Walpole, NH
Unity Homes is a subsidiary of Bensonwood, which has been a leader in advanced home construction for many years. Its construction techniques, which include manufacturing components of homes in the environmentally-controlled environment of its plant in Walpole and assembling in the field, are widely studied.
An example of Unity Homes‘ work is in Hanover, NH at Dartmouth College. Four faculty houses were built as part of the project in 2016. They are located on campus to integrate faculty presence within student housing areas. The Unity Varm platform was used, a two-story Scandinavian influenced colonial of 3255 square feet. It features insulation in the walls at R-35 (12 inches thick; 9.25 inches cellulose insulation); a flat ceiling with insulation at R-60 (on the first floor); and truss roof insulation at R-60. The windows are Marvin Integrity triple glazed low-e (U 0.21). The foundation walls are insulated to R-15. The air tightness is 0.82 ACH 50 (average for four houses), and the HERS rating is 40.
Vermod – Wilder, VT
An article on one of Vermod’s projects appeared in GET’s December issue of last year (bit.ly/GET-McKnight-Lane). Another example is Maple Street condos in Hartford, VT. It features environmentally sustainable bamboo flooring. All glues, foams, and materials are made with low or no VOCs. It has sustainable metal siding. Locally-sourced products are used for construction as often as possible, supporting our environment and local economy.
Each unit has a 7 kW solar system to produce all of its energy, so the units are projected to have no electric or heating costs. The appliances are all Energy Star rated; CERV Energy Recovery Ventilator units monitor air quality (CO2 & VOC’s) and regulate air flow and temperature in the units; and all have electric HVAC systems that incorporate efficient heat-pump technology, requiring very little electricity to operate.
Weatherization UV Update
Vital Communities launched the Weatherize Upper Valley campaign this January with an ambitious goal: double the number of homes weatherized in the Upper Valley over the next two years. As of press time, there are more than 300 people involved in the program from 14 Vermont towns. More than two dozen contracts have been signed with the Weatherize Partner Contractors, and scores of volunteers work with new participants each day to move them toward a more comfortable, efficient home.
Most home weatherization projects focus on air-sealing and insulation, two cost-effective ways to increase comfort and reduce energy costs. According to Efficiency Vermont, the average cost of weatherization improvements in communities in Vermont in the UV region is $7,800 (before rebates, averaging $1,500), and they result in increased comfort and 26% average energy savings.
Towns participating in round one of Weatherize Upper Valley include the Randolph Team (Brookfield, Braintree, Randolph); White River Team (Bethel, Royalton, Sharon); Connecticut River Team (Thetford, Norwich, Hartford, Hartland); and Ascutney Team (Reading, Windsor, Cavendish, Weathersfield).
Learn more and sign up for round two at VitalCommunities.org/Weatherize.
Weatherization Agencies under Community Action Programs
The agencies offer assistance in evaluating buildings’ (single-family and multi-family) energy performance, perform energy audits, including review of building ‘shells’ and mechanical systems. Free services are offered to income-eligible homeowners, and multi-family buildings and projects where residents are certified as eligible. Some of the agencies perform work doing the same services for non-income-eligible projects and owners, as for income-qualified participants.
Three key agencies working in the Upper Valley are as follows.
Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) based in Westminster, VT and covers all of Windham and Windsor Counties in Vermont, going from the Mass. line, north through Norwich, VT.
Capstone Community Action based in Barre, VT covers all of Orange County from Thetford, VT on north and westward, as well as other regions in more central Vermont.
Tri-County CAP, based in Berlin, NH covers all of Grafton County in NH, as well as Carrol and Coos Counties — a very large area, all of northern New Hampshire.
While the Weatherization programs’ bases of operation may not be in the core ‘UV’ the agencies are geared to cover the many needs of a large region.
Froling from Peterborough, NH
Froling specializes in biomass boiler systems. Its project installations in the UV result in a total of 250,000 gallons of oil offset by wood pellets and PDCs (precision dry chips).
Froling’s projects can be seen in Sharon, VT, at the Orange Windsor Supervisory Union; Canaan, NH, at the elementary school; Charlestown, NH, at its elementary school; Charlestown, NH, at Whelen Engineering (see GET article at bit.ly/whelen_froling); Claremont, NH, at the middle school; Claremont at Stevens High School; Cornish, NH, at the elementary school; Enfield, NH, at its elementary school; Enfield at the Indian River Middle School; Enfield at the Mascoma Valley Regional High School; Lebanon, NH, at Sacred Heart Parish; and Lyme, NH, in the elementary school. In Walpole, NH, the elementary school installed two Froling boilers in 2015; its gross output is 684,000 Btu/h, and it has offset 8,000 gallons of oil.
TARM Biomass – Orford, NH
Tarm Biomass® is a third-generation, family-owned business that has pioneered the sales and service of European residential central heating equipment for over 30 years. Product lines include HS-Tarm and Fröling wood, wood pellet, and wood chip boilers, for renewable heating that is sustainable, clean, and efficient. Tarm products have appeared in GET’s print publication and on its web site on numerous occasions. A good example can be found in our article, “Lyme, New Hampshire Elementary School.” This can be seen at bit.ly/GET-Lyme-Elementary. The Lyme Elementary School’s conversion to wood pellets, installed by Tarm, reduced its fuel needs from 9,000 gallons of oil to 80 tons of local wood pellets.
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