Greenfield Home Wins $8,000 Energy Incentive

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GREENFIELD, Mass. — The Campbell-Gregory family in Greenfield is the first in the state to earn an $8,000 incentive for building a home that is 60 percent more efficient than a standard home.

A typical new construction home of the same size in Greenfield would have energy bills of about $400 per month, but the Campbell-Gregory residence is expected to cost less than $200.

The Massachusetts New Homes with Energy Starr program this year is offering a third tier of incentives to reward those homebuilders who build super-energy efficient new homes.

"It's exciting to see builders, homeowners and architects striving for such deep energy savings — the homeowners will enjoy the results for years to come — a more comfortable home that costs less to operate," said Megan McDonough from the Center for Ecological Technology. CET performed the required home energy rating (HERS) analysis and third-party inspections that led to the homeowners qualifying for the $8,000 Tier III incentive.

CET has been encouraging builders to make energy-efficient choices through the Energy Star homes program since it began in 2003. Most new-home builders use the program to identify incremental steps towards increased energy efficiency, but more project teams have been choosing to build super-insulated homes.

Scott Baum of Eco+Plan Architecture, the architect for the Campbell-Gregory residence, agrees that super-efficient building is a growing trend.

"People are taking a much more aggressive approach toward energy efficiency than in the past," he said. "When we look at our construction practices in the context of current times, it becomes apparent that the construction techniques of our recent past no longer make sense."

When asked if building to such a high-energy efficiency standard was harder than conventional building James Meehleder of Turn Key Builders Inc. said, "When building a super insulated house, you are still employing known building practices, just in a modified way. Some parts of the process are easier and some will take more time.  All in all, when you look at the whole project and the trade-offs that you make, the process doesn't differ much in scope of work or cost as a conventionally built home."

Project Highlights

► Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index of 60

► Passive Solar design allows for heat to warm the space through the south facing windows in the winter
► Solar hot-water system for domestic needs like showering and washing dishes
► Tight building envelope tested at 1.21 ACH50 with a blower door
► Whole-house ventilation provided by a Energy Recovery Ventilator
► Foot-deep walls filled with dense-packed cellulose to reach an R-40 insulation level
► High-efficiency (95 percent) propane boiler for home heating
► High efficiency Energy Star appliances
► More than 80 percent of the lighting fixtures use efficient compact fluorescent bulbs

The Center for Ecological Technology is a non-profit organization working in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste management and environmental education. CET provides practical solutions that make sense for our community, economy and environment.
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Gov. Baker Signs State's $41.2 Billion Budget

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BOSTON, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker signed the state's $41.232 billion budget on Thursday.
The governor's office boasts that the budget invests some $4.91 billion for K-12 education, more than $200 million to combat the opioid epidemic, and bolsters the state's stabilization fund. 
"Since taking office, our administration has worked to reduce an inherited budget deficit, build our reserves by over $1 billion and make targeted investments in education, the opioid epidemic and our cities and towns all without raising taxes," said Governor Baker in a statement.  
"We are pleased to sign a balanced budget that manages taxpayer dollars in a fiscally responsible way while providing a tax break for working families and support for critical services for every resident.  Lt. Gov. Polito and I appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Legislature to collaborate and compromise on this important blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year."
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