Archive for the ‘Residential Projects’ Category

Powered by the sun – via panels many miles away

Friday, September 26th, 2014

community-solar-farm-maineFalling prices for solar-electric panels are enticing Mainers who want to install them at their homes. That’s not an option, however, for Jim Atwell, an environmental engineer from Falmouth. He lives in a condominium, and the homeowners’ association won’t allow a solar array on the roof.

But starting next month, Atwell will begin meeting 80 percent of his annual electric demand with solar panels – installed 50 miles away on the roof of an old chicken barn in the Oxford Hills.

Atwell will become one of nine Mainers who are shareholders in the state’s first community solar farm. The farm is a shared solar project that feeds power from the sun into the electric grid. Each member owns a slice of the total power produced and gets a credit on his electric bill. After the initial investment is repaid, the shareholders’ electricity is essentially free.

Atwell’s 12 percent share in the project is costing him roughly $14,000, and he’ll save an estimated $1,100 a year on his bill. That’s a long payback, but money isn’t his primary motivator.

“This is proof of concept, and success will be nine happy customers,” said Fortunat Mueller, co-founder of ReVision Energy in Portland, which is developing the project. “But we’re excited about the long-term market potential. We want to make it easy and repeatable.”

Full article available here: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/22/powered-by-the-sun-via-panels-many-miles-away/


DownEast Magazine – A drafty saltbox has been remodeled into a cozy and highly energy-efficient home

Friday, September 26th, 2014

king-house-solarSolar technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Built overlooking a pond in Falmouth in the 1970s, this modified passive-solar saltbox was so drafty that “within 45 minutes of the sun setting, the house was cold as stone,” says owner Claudia King. In addition, the interior was dark and cheerless, barely offering a glimpse of the pond and cut off from the 10-acre property’s garden and fields by a scarcity of doors and windows.

King and her husband, Lindsey Tweed, hired Kaplan Thompson Architects and builder Dan Kolbert, both of Portland, to make the house more energy efficient and to improve the interior spaces and flow.

Because the project required gutting the entire structure, it would have cost less to build from scratch, King says, but “we liked our site, we wanted to use what we could, and we didn’t want to build something larger.”

Full article is available here: http://www.downeast.com/energy-efficient-maine-home/


Solar a “No Brainer” for Builders at Benjamin and Company

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Brunswick, Maine - Solar
A super efficient home built by Benjamin & Company for a homeowner in Brunswick, Maine.

We spoke with builder Ben Hemberger of Benjamin & Company about his high quality, energy efficient custom timber-frame home building business. We’ve collaborated with them on numerous projects where solar was integrated with the home design, and wanted to get a sense of what is drawing people in to build their homes better and when and how solar enters into the discussion.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get interested in solar?

My father was an architect so I’ve been around the industry my entire life. I learned from my father that the carpentry trade is as much about building personal relationships and trust as it is about building houses. After exploring general carpentry, boat building and even architecture, I became interested in timber framing and went out and started my own business. We do a variety of high-end custom homes and timber framing, sometimes near net zero or passive homes but usually just looking for a ‘pretty good house.’

I’ve always been interested in energy efficient homes, starting out with solar in the mid 2000s though the technology wasn’t quite there yet. Flash forward to 2011, and I worked with ReVision for a home in Brunswick where we installed solar PV, solar hot water, and an integrated solar thermal heating system. Every home since has had solar PV. Today, it’s a no-brainer.

Can you tell us about a typical discussion with a prospective homeowner? Do you have to convince them solar is a good idea?

Our clients tend to come self-educated to a large degree: they already understand the value of solar and I don’t have to ‘sell’ it to them. Instead, we talk about the latest technology improvements, which is generally how affordable it is to generate your own electricity supply on-site with renewable solar energy, and then use that electricity to meet your heating and cooling needs with heat pumps. Once they look at the numbers, it’s a clear no-brainer.

Do people feel they need to make a trade-off between comfort and energy efficiency?

People know that solar and efficiency saves them money and is the right thing to do for the environment. What they often don’t realize, at first, is that it also results in a much more comfortable home to live in. An energy efficient house is more comfortable year-round and has higher indoor air quality. You don’t get surprise energy bills that are financially burdensome. You pay a little bit more upfront but enjoy a lifetime of peace of mind.

What one piece of advice would you give to people considering building a new home and trying to wade through all the options available to them?

Build as small and simply as you feel you can to save on energy and maintenance. It’s very popular to build bigger homes, but the reality is that the simpler you get, the easier it is to do all of this.


200 Year Old Barn Receives Sustainable Upgrades by a Custom Shoemaker

Monday, September 15th, 2014

2014-04-22 02.34.26

For the past 40 years, Robert and Barbara have shared a love affair restoring this wonderful barn. To prepare it for solar, they pooled their resources together with the talents of their son, Eben, who grew up heavily influenced by working alongside his parents during their restoration efforts. Now a highly skilled craftsman and professional restorer himself, specializing in antique barns, he’s able to add his own preservation expertise. “He was very helpful in analyzing the structural condition of our barn and preparing it for the photovoltaic panel installation. By using vintage timbers, repairs were made to the frame without them being noticeable,” says Barbara, reflecting on the project, “It has been wonderful for us to work with Eben on this project, which has been a goal for many years, and we couldn’t have done it without him!”

Many old barns were built to take advantage of passive solar opportunities, since many might otherwise lack an alternative source of heat and light. A large roof expanse and south facing orientation are common ideals for a solar system. The Mathews barn in particular, is oriented opposing the quaint little road it lives on, so one might have to look closely to see the solar array as they pass by.

Their collective efforts entailed re-roofing nearly 2,000 square feet with metal before a 7.8 kilowatt solar electric array was mounted at the south facing center. This system is designed to offset their entire electric load for both the house and business, producing over 9,500 kilowatt hours annually, thus removing almost 7,000 pounds of CO2 emissions every year.

Their passion for sustainability began during Jimmy Carter’s Energy Program in the 80’s, where they installed a solar hot water system. They continue to garden organically and heat primarily with wood cut from their land. “We have three grandchildren, with a fourth due at Thanksgiving, so we are thinking about the world we will be passing on to them. With all the concern about the environment and climate change it’s hard not to want to help in some way,” says Barbara.

A little about your hosts, Robert and Barbara Mathews:
Robert began his career at an early age, deeply influenced by the traditions of his shoemaking family. Today he works closely with his wife Barbara, who contributes her talents for color and design. Together they have created a unique business, all while raising a family and restoring this antique farmstead.

“Custom Shoemaking is all about our clients”, says Barbara, whose process includes a deep understanding of the needs of people and their feet, since many clients are looking for shoes to accommodate a wide range of foot issues. “We work with each individual client to fulfill their personal fitting requirements and design ideas and find it especially gratifying to help people with foot problems be comfortable and happy in their shoes, often for the first time in their lives.” Other clients simply seek a high quality, handmade shoe with special leathers or colors. And then there are those who have all of these goals for their shoes. ”Being able to create something with our hands that contributes to the well-being and satisfaction of others is the inspiration for our business.”

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ReVision Energy is honored to collaborate with The NH Preservation Alliance*  for an open house scheduled for Thursday, September 18th from 5-7pm. Light food and drink will be served, followed by a session on solar energy and tour of the barn.

Please RSVP for address to Kimry at 603 679 1777 or kimry@revisionenergy.com.

*The Preservation Alliance is New Hampshire’s non-profit, membership-based organization committed to the preservation of historic landmarks, communities and landscapes through leadership, education and advocacy.


Coastal Cohousing Community Wins North American Copper in Architecture Award

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Salt Marsh Cohousing
The decision to use copper extensively on the Coastal Cohousing Community project was a carefully considered one, as low maintenance and long durability were high on the owners’ list of priorities.  ReVision Energy had the unique challenge of integrating a high-performance solar energy array on top of the beautiful copper roof, using special fasteners that ‘dimple’ but do not puncture the copper, so as to maximize the lifetime of the roof system.

The ease of adapting copper to a variety of conditions and configurations allowed the architects to design all eaves, rakes, dormers and chimneys entirely in copper. This was both performance-enhancing and an aesthetic benefit. The result is a contemporary interpretation of the classic New England building form.

Full story is available here: http://www.copper.org/applications/architecture/awards/winners.html