Get a behind-the-scenes look at sustainable technologies and renewable energy solutions, and see how they’re saving your neighbors lots of green!
October 13th – The annual Green Buildings Open House, the largest sustainable energy event in the Northeast, will be taking place on October 13, 2012 from 10 AM to 3 PM. 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, and this year’s event is expected to be even bigger!
Homes in Unity, Brooks, Belfast, Winter Harbor, Rockland, Thomaston, St George, Spruce Head, Woolwich, Biddeford, North Yarmouth, Scarborough and more will be part of this year’s Green Buildings Open House (GBOH). To get a list of locations in our area (or to learn more about building features or fuel types) go to http://www.nesea.org/gboh and search the NESEA GBOH database.
The GBOH 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 GBOH 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. GBOH 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.” says Jennifer Marrapese JD MA, Executive Director of NESEA. “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.”
At GBOH sites, you will:
• See homes or businesses that feature any or all of the following: energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable materials
• Learn ways to reduce a site’s eco-footprint, reduce embedded energy, conserve water, and ensure that buildings are healthy environments
• Talk to home or building owners on-site, who can help answer your questions about installation, costs, and benefits
Here are the homes on the tour this year for central & mid-coast Maine (starting north and moving south):
Unity, 111 Quaker Hill
Rusty & 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 over 10,500 lbs. of CO2 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. Rusty says, “By putting solar on the house we’ve paid forward, because it’s just a matter of time when the two systems will actually pay for themselves… then you just put money in your own pocket.”
Directions: From Downtown Unity go southwest on Main Street (Route 202 & 9) to Quaker Hill Rd. 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% 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 kW 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 kW array is expected to produce about 45,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually – more than 80% of the library’s previous average annual demand. The project is being financed through a Power Purchase Agreement– an innovative 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 our 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. For the TerraHaus park near the house or at the Welcome Center. For the Unity House enter between the white residence halls and proceed to back of the parking lot.
Winter Harbor, 226 Gray Road
Mary & Dick Wilson
Buildings Features: Solar Domestic Hot Water
Since 2009 these homeowners have been getting their domestic hot water from the sun. Installed are two 20 tube solar evacuated tube collector arrays heating water in an 80 gallon solar storage tank. Propylene glycol gets hot on the rooftop collectors and circulates down through piping into a heat coil located at the bottom of the tank, therefore indirectly heating the water. As long as the solar is able to heat the tank sufficiently the back-up boiler will remain off.
Directions: From Route 1 going north from Ellsworth, it is 17 miles to Route 186 (look for the signs for Schoodic Point). Turn right onto Route 186 and go 6.5 miles. Turn right at the T intersection in Winter Harbor and go 1 mile. Turn left on Gray Road and go ½ mile to the water. Continue along the shore and make a sharp right at the wooden gate. Then go a hundred yards up the driveway to the Wilson house.
Brooks, 35 Moosehead Trail Hwy
Jennifer & 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+ 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, which as Jennifer notes “made the second floor of our house livable.” In the future they hope to improve their basement via a vapor barrier and insulation. Both Hans and Jennifer are proud to be working in the solar industry as employees at ReVision Energy in Liberty, ME.
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.
Belfast, Village Road
Building Features: Passive Solar heating, grid-tied solar Photovoltaic, LEED rated, super insulated walls/roof
This home in the Belfast cohousing and Ecovillage showcases how active and passive solar are meeting 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 1st Right onto Tufts Rd. Turn Left on Village Rd. Look for the tour signs.
Rockland, 12 Lawrence Street
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 kW solar electric array as well as stunning views of the breakwater lighthouse & Penobscot Bay. The house is aligned to capture winter sun from the south. Efforts to keep the house hold comfortable and energy efficient in all weather conditions include fiberglass triple glazed windows (R-4.5), insulated floating slab (R-20), 12″ 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 St (Route 73) for 0.7 mile and turn left onto Mechanic St. The road curves turns to the left at the waterfront and becomes Atlantic St. Go three short blocks and turn left on Lawrence St. The home is the second on the left.
Thomaston, 75 Knox Street
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 devastating 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 9 apartments, with significant energy efficiency improvements. The roof is solar ready with 16kW 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.
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 salt box farm house 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. Humble says, “I was motivated by greed. I wanted to save money.” He knew the price of gas and oil would go up, so he decided to go solar and says, “I haven’t looked back.” Humble is please with both systems and welcomes visitors anytime.
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, Maine 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.
Woolwich – 78 Loon Lane
On this home is a recently installed solar space heating system consisting of five Wagner Euro C-20 solar collectors, a super insulated 160-gallon Stiebel Eltron solar storage tank with top & bottom heat exchange coils, Stiebel Eltron Flowstar pump station, and a super-insulated Marathon 50-gallon hot water tank with an electric element. The system is designed for domestic hot water and supplemental space heat with back-up coming from an existing Peerless boiler and wood heat. The solar hot water system will produce more than 41 Million BTUs of clean renewable heat energy annually and, by reducing that amount of fossil fuel, it will eliminate over 8,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions each year.
North Yarmouth – 739 New Gloucester Road
Sam & Pam Flick
Recently installed in 2012 are three Wagner C-20 solar hot water collectors connected to a super insulated 105-gallon Stiebel Eltron solar storage tank with top & bottom heat exchange coils. A Stiebel Eltron Flowstar pump station circulates hot glycol from roof top to heat exchange coil in the tank heating the tank indirectly. The system is backed up by the existing boiler but is expected to allow the boiler to remain off for six months of the year, May through October. This fall the Flicks will be installing a 20 panel solar electric tracking system. The system will produce an average of 700 kwhrs of electricity a month, offsetting their home and business needs! Be sure to ask about the upcoming tracker installation while there!
North Yarmouth – 460 Mountfort Road
Rob & Leslie Taisey, Assured Solar Energy
The home of Assured Solar Energy showcases a 2.9kW, 18 module Schuco grid-tied PV system, a Schuco 3 Slim-V (flat plate collectors) domestic hot water system, and four hot air Sunsiaray collectors by Northern Comfort. Between the PV system and the solar domestic hot water system preheating the Taisey’s water in their electric water heater, their electric bill has dropped from over $100 to around $15/month including all the electricity usage for both home and business.
Scarborough – 6 Minuteman Drive
Deb and Jim McDonough
This family home features 60 Apricus evacuated tube collectors and a 105 gallon Stiebel Eltron solar storage tank. This installation is designed to cover a majority of the domestic hot water for the family of six, allowing the boiler to stay off during the non heating months. This is a retrofit installation on a standard construction house. This house also has retrofit radiant heat, and cellulose reinsulation. The solar hot water system was installed in 2007. A 3.3 kW solar electric array was installed in 2009 and another 2 kW in 2012. They also have an Okofen pellet boiler. If you’ve never been to this home before it is a wonderful place to stop. Jim & Deb explain the how each system works, give a complete tour and offer resources to how you can become more energy efficient.
Biddeford – 32 Sea Spray Drive
William & Renate Riggs
This home has both a solar domestic and solar space heating system as well as a recent solar electric system! The Riggs wanted to cover as much of their heat load as they could with solar so utilized the entire south facing roof on their Sea Spray Drive home. There are (5) 30 tube Apricus collector arrays to total 150 tubes. Propylene glycol travels through the manifold of the collectors, getting hot then circulates down through copper piping into the heat exchange coils of two 105 gallon solar storage tanks. This system provides the domestic hot water for this house as well as supplements its heating supply. When the solar is not able to keep up with the heat load a high efficiency propane boiler turns on to provide seemless heat and hot water. The boiler installed is a Triangle Tube Excellence 110 modulating, condensing gas boiler. This boiler is rated at 95% efficiency and is Energy Star certified. In the spring of 2012 (18) 230 watt solar electric panels were installed. This system is grid connected and expected to produce over 400 kwhrs of clean, reliable electricity a month. Stop by to visit this super-efficient, beautiful ocean side home!
For more information about Green Buildings Open House, visit
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (http://www.nesea.org), is a leading regional advocacy and membership organization dedicated to promoting sustainable energy practices and whole systems thinking. For more than thirty years, NESEA has supported and inspired a growing network of professionals and sustainable energy experts committed to responsible energy use. NESEA’s members hail from the 10 Northeastern states, from Maine to Washington, D.C. NESEA members are “practical idealists” – passionate about the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in order to create a healthy, efficient built environment powered by clean, renewable energy.