Belfast Cohousing completes largest community-led solar panel installation in Maine

Sep 03, 2014

An open house at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage Sept. 14 will showcase completion of the largest community-initiated solar installation in Maine.

Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage is a 36-unit planned community on 42 acres. Its homes are built to the Passive House Standard, which has reduced the energy required for heating by 90 percent.

Developers achieved the reduction by using triple-pane windows, extensive southern glazing, airtight construction and generous amounts of insulation.

Some owners opted for photovoltaic panels to be installed during construction, but recently community members initiated an effort to install panels on the remaining homes, resulting in a total of 22 homes with PV panels, making it the state's largest community-led initiative to install solar panels.

With the addition of PV panels, many of the homes approach "netzero" — the point at which the home produces as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year.

Nearing completion is a "Common House" that will be the focal point of the community. Exterior work on this building is almost finished, and community members aim to have the interior ready for Christmas dinner.

The community invites the public to visit during the open house, 2 to 4 p.m., to see its unique community design, energy-efficient construction and gardens, as well as the recently completed photovoltaic systems.

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