Solar array installed on Bellows Falls Garage Apartments

Vermont Business Magazine Two months after welcoming residents to the newly constructed Bellows Falls Garage Apartments, the project partners are celebrating another achievement – the completed installation of a 30kW solar photovoltaic array on the rooftop of the building. Developed by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust in collaboration with General Contractor DEW Construction, the new Bellows Falls Garage was designed for optimum energy efficiency, and exceeds the Efficiency Vermont High Performance Building standard.

Situated on the banks of the Connecticut River, the new Bellows Falls Garage offers 27 affordable housing units in downtown Bellows Falls. The structure contains five studio apartments, eighteen one-bedroom apartments, and four two-bedroom apartments. The main street level floor comprises a mailroom, a for-rent retail space, and a resident reading room on the 3rd floor at the northern entrance to downtown Bellows Falls.

The newly installed solar energy system will generate about 35,000 kWh per year, which represents about 20% of the total energy use of the building.

Peter Paggi is the Director of Housing Development for WWHT. He says the solar installation is part of a comprehensive system of energy efficiency measures employed within the building.  “Bellows Falls Garage reached an air sealing level that exceeds the Passive House Institute US standard, and essentially means that there is virtually no uncontrolled air leakage of tempered air. This is one of the most crucial, if not the most crucial, aspect of green building design.”

Paggi says heat and ventilation are provided by a rooftop energy recovery ventilator with propane supplemental heat. This allows the energy from previously tempered air to stay in the building rather than be exhausted out while still providing a consistent supply of fresh air for residents.  In this summer, this also provides humidity control.

“The building has a robust thermal envelope with high R-value wall and roof assemblies,” says Paggi. “The heating load on the building is very low.”

The Bellows Falls Garage is the 12th property in WWHT’s portfolio with solar energy features, and reinforces the organization’s long-term commitment to sustainable and equitable affordable housing for Southeastern Vermont.

Windham & Windsor Housing is a mission-driven non-profit organization, established 35 years ago in response to increasing threats to the region’s supply of affordable housing. Their mission is to strengthen the communities of Southeast Vermont through development and stewardship of permanently affordable housing through ongoing support and advocacy for its residents. WWHT builds concrete solutions to the region’s housing challenges, and provides better housing opportunities to more than 1,500 Southeastern Vermonters each year.

Source: 9.6.2023. Windham & Windsor Housing