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BrightBuilt Barn Solar Project in Rockland, ME

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The Bright Built Barn in Rockland, Maine was featured in the New York Times as an example of a net-zero building. It has rooftop solar and solar hot water.

BrightBuilt Barn is a small blue outbuilding that sits atop a hill full of birch trees in Rockport, Maine. It is also an answer to the question, How green can you go? Or more precisely: What would happen if you asked some of New England’s top green builders to make the most eco-conscious structure possible, a cutting-edge building that would be beautiful, affordable, durable, sustainable, and reproducible? And what if you did all this in Maine, a state in which the challenges of heating cannot be ignored?

Keith and Mary Collins, a physician and artist respectively, first asked these questions when they were looking to build an office and studio next to their Rockport home. Now, two years later, they have a sustainable structure on their property, one that generates enough electricity to give back to the grid. Indeed, on days when BrightBuilt Barn is working most efficiently, the electric meter runs backward, working as a virtual outboard motor for the couple’s home, while paying off the carbon debt incurred in construction. And how will the couple know when the environmental bill has been settled? Well, the building will help them estimate. A computer panel in the loft reports on BrightBuilt Barn’s energy consumption, and an outdoor light skirt acts like a mood ring, glowing green when the structure is contributing energy to the grid, red when it’s in user mode.

This home was created to be net zero, meaning it will be relying on its energy supply from renewable energy resources. The building is connected to the grid but is designed to produce as much energy as it uses over a year long average. The building is also seeking certification from the US Green Building Council to become LEED Platinum certified. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED Platinum is the highest rating given by the US Green Building Council. If awarded, this will be only the second home in Maine to receive it. The first and currently the only LEED Platinum home in Maine is Cranberry Ridge designed by Wright-Ryan artitects located in Freeport, Maine.

ReVision Energy did the design and installation of the solar hot water and solar electric systems on this home. LED lighting around the base of BrightBuilt Barn are programmed to run in colors depending on the level of current energy use in the barn. Green means the house is producing more energy than its using, yellow means the home is producing about the same amount of energy as its using and red indicates that the current usage is exceeding its goal of net zero. This projects came together through a collaboration of efforts, with innovation applied to every detail. BrightBuilt Barn is working to raise awareness about energy usage, sustainability, and new building methods.

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