Green Buildings Open House comes to Midcoast
The annual Green Buildings Open House, the largest sustainable energy event in the northeast, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On this day, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association helps homes, businesses and schools as they invite the public inside to investigate the renewable technologies and green building features being employed on site. Last year, more than 10,000 people toured close to 500 sites from Maine to Pennsylvania.
Homes in Rockland, Thomaston, Camden, Belfast, Unity, St. George, Spruce Head, and Brooks will be part of this year’s Green Buildings Open House. To get a list of locations in this area go to nesea.org/gboh.
The Green Buildings Open House helps to kick off National Energy Awareness Month and for the past 15 years, the tour has inspired thousands of individuals to learn about and implement energy efficient and renewable energy solutions in their homes. The goal of the event is to enable participants to see, firsthand, energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in their communities and motivate them to adopt similar solutions for their own homes.
At host sites, participants are able to talk with home and business owners, ask questions, and see how their renewable energy technologies actually work. The open house also connects building owners and managers with professionals who can provide them with sustainable energy services or energy efficiency retrofits. As host sites register, detailed information and photos of the buildings' innovative energy features are posted, providing an ongoing educational tool.
“Nothing breeds success like success,” said Jennifer Marrapese, executive director of NESEA in a news release. “When people see for themselves how families and businesses in their own communities are saving energy – and money! – Sustainable technologies and strategies become much more accessible. And that, ultimately, is our goal.”
Marrapese added, “There is also something very powerful about homeowners talking directly to other homeowners, as opposed to professionals working in the field. Peer to peer recommendations have galvanized participants over the years – this is where real change happens.”
Here are the homes on the tour this year for Midcoast and Central Maine.
St George, 785 River Road
Building Features: Grid-tied Photovoltaic, solar hot water
The Humble Farmer built his own solar thermal hot water system for his 200-year-old saltbox farmhouse on the St. George peninsula. Eight flat panels collect the sun’s rays to pre-heat his domestic hot water and cellar floor using a non-toxic anti-freeze mixture via a two-tank system. The home also features a 1380 watt, grid-tied PV system installed by ReVision Energy in 2009. Six 230-Watt Canadian Solar PV modules and an Outback inverter supply solar electricity all year long. The system is mounted on an owner-built rack on the chicken house. The rack will accommodate additional homemade PV modules as soon as possible.
Directions: From Route 1 in Thomaston, take 131 South towards Tenants Harbor. Go 5.5 miles. The yellow farmhouse is on the left side of the road, shortly after passing Seal Harbor Rd.
Spruce Head, Harbor Lane
Puppy Dog Cottage
Building Features: recycled & local building materials, super-insulated walls/roof.
Kaplan Thomson Architects deigned this unique and energy efficient cottage on False Whitehead Harbor in Spruce Head, where an old decrepit cottage once teetered. Many of the materials used in this home are made from recycled content, are environmentally friendly or come from local sources. The same virtual footprint from the original home was used, including utilizing a similar pier foundation to allow the natural drainage patterns to remain. The house is constructed with a super insulated envelope, including an additional R-10 on the underside of the floor framing. Dense packed cellulose insulation and careful air-sealing ensures that the home is constructed to be air-tight. The south-facing roof is constructed at a 60-degree angle - the ideal slope for solar hot water collectors to generate the necessary heat in winter.
Directions: From downtown Rockland take route 73 for 3.3 miles to the village of Spruce Head. Turn left onto Island Rd and go 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Harbor lane and take the road to the end.
Thomaston, 75 Knox St.
Sail Lofts Apartments
Building Features: Solar Photovoltaic potential, super insulated, passive ventilation
Close to the boat yards on the Thomaston waterfront, the previous building was originally used as a sail loft in the 1800s. For years it had been occupied by 12 apartments but in October 2011 a fire swept through the upper half of the building. Fortunately no one was badly injured. The owners approached Kaplan Thomson Architect to have the new building converted from two levels with 12 apartments to three levels with nine apartments, with significant energy efficiency improvements. The roof is solar ready with 16-kilowatt potential. Tight shell construction (0.5 ACH50 blower door test), R-20 sub-slab, R-60 roof, R-45 wall insulation, dense pack cellulose insulation, double-glazed windows, and passive ventilation work together to keep residents comfy and energy efficient all year long.
Directions: Knox Street is located just off Route 1 from downtown Thomaston.
Rockland, 12 Lawrence St.
Building Features: Grid-tied solar, passive solar, recycled materials, super insulated walls, roof, Energy Star appliances, Energy star rated, FSC Certified Wood, LEED certified, local materials, non-toxic products.
Shawn and Courtney Buterbaugh approached Kaplan Thomson Architects with the goal of designing a home that would have low to net zero energy needs. It features a 2-kilowatt solar electric array as well as views of the Breakwater Lighthouse and Penobscot Bay. The house is aligned to capture winter sun from the south. Efforts to keep the house comfortable and energy efficient in all weather conditions include fiberglass triple-glazed windows (R-4.5), insulated floating slab (R-20), 12-inch thick double-stud framed walls (R-40) and a super insulated roof (R-60).
Directions: From Route 1 in downtown Rockland go south on Main Street (Route 73) for 0.7 mile and turn left onto Mechanic Street. The road curves turns to the left at the waterfront and becomes Atlantic St. Go three short blocks and turn left on Lawrence Street. The home is the second on the left.
Belfast, Village Road
Building Features: Passive Solar heating, grid-tied solar Photovoltaic, LEED rated, super insulated walls/roof
Peter McBride will be opening his home for the tour in the Belfast cohousing and Ecovillage to showcase how active and passive solar are meeting his energy needs. ReVision Energy recently installed a 2.64 kW grid-tied solar electric array. The home is designed by G O Logic using the Passive House concept, a highly insulated building heated primarily by passive solar gain.
Directions: From downtown Belfast, head west on Route 3.Turn left on Edgecomb Road (the turn is 0.4 mi after the U of Maine Hutchinson Center). Take the first right onto Tufts Road. Turn left on Village Road. Look for the tour signs.
Brooks, 35 Moosehead Trail Hwy
Jennifer and Hans Albee
Building Features: Domestic solar hot water, insulation improvements
Since having an energy audit in the fall of 2009, the Albees have been tackling their 100-plus-year-old village home’s energy issues bit by bit. The Albees participated in Efficiency Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program in 2010 and decided to install a solar hot water system to preheat a very efficient Rinnai on-demand hot water heater, which has been a big plus since having a baby this past winter. They also installed a substantial amount of insulation in their attic.
Directions: From Belfast take Routes 3 to Route 7 north to the center of Brooks. At the flashing light, go straight. The Albee home is the seventh house on the right after the intersection.
Unity, 111 Quaker Hill
Rusty and Marty Mayberry
Building Features: Grid-tied solar photovoltaic, domestic solar hot water, wood pellet stove, passive solar.
Last year Rusty Mayberry helped his son Ian to build a solar panel for a high school science project. It got him thinking “Geez, it’d be pretty good if we had a whole house full of these.” So the they decided to install solar hot water collectors and a 3.29 kilowatt (14 panel) grid-tied PV array. The two systems combined will offset more than 10,500 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Rusty’s wife, Marty likes their solar energy systems because they will reduce their future bills. Once the solar hot water system went live in January, they stopped using oil to heat anything and Rusty turned their boiler completely off. Wood pellets, passive solar, and their new solar hot water collectors now provide all the heat and domestic hot water they need.
Directions: From Downtown Unity go southwest on Main Street (Route 202 and 9) to Quaker Hill Road. The Mayberry’s driveway is on the left just after the Unity College Campus.
Unity, 90 Quaker Hill Road
Buildings Features: Passive solar, grid-tied solar Photovoltaic, LEED rated, high-efficiency insulation, recycled & local building materials
Unity College has pledged that their campus will become climate-neutral as soon as possible. Three buildings are featured as part of the tour.
The TerraHaus is the first Passive House-certified student residence in the country and features an evacuated tube solar hot water system. Space heating needs are met primarily through passive approaches including solar orientation, super-insulation, and superior air sealing -- with backup heat from a cold-climate heat pump and small electric baseboard radiators. Evacuated tube solar hot water collectors provide more than 60 percent of the building's annual domestic hot water needs.
The Unity House is a 1,937-square on-campus home of Unity College's president and family. This net-zero carbon residence also hosts campus events and classes. It is a symbol of the college’s sustainability outreach efforts, and features a 5.4-kilowatt photovoltaic array, a solar hot water system, and a cold climate heat pump. The Unity House produces enough electricity to meet its annual needs. The LEED Platinum home for the college president uses passive solar design, high-efficiency thermal insulation, and was built with recycled, non-toxic, locally sourced materials.
The Quimby Library, Unity College
This September ReVision Energy installed 144 solar electric panels on the roof of Unity College’s Quimby Library and the Thomashow Learning Laboratory. The 37-kilowatt array is expected to produce about 45,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually – more than 80 percent of the library’s previous average annual demand. The project is being financed through a Power Purchase Agreement– a financing approach that allows ReVision Energy – more accurately, a third-party LLC specifically formed to develop this project – to own and operate the system on the campus for six years while Unity College purchases from them any electricity produced by the system.
Directions: From Downtown Unity go southwest on Main Street (Route 202 & 9) to Quaker Hill Rd. The College is on the left.