The Center's Model Neighborhood Projects are proving the efficiency and economic benefits of Automated Wood Heat across the Northern Forest. The Model Neighborhood Projects are dense clusters of pellet boilers in homes and non-residential buildings, making bulk delivery of pellets more efficient and providing a base of business for new technicians.
Each installation is an important step toward realizing the vision of an energy economy that retains wealth within rural communities, reduces dependence on heating oil, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, and helps keep forests as forests. The Center and its partners document the savings, ecological benefits, and economic impact of using wood pellets instead of heating oil and share the results across the region to encourage more people to convert to wood pellet heat.
Berlin Model Neighborhood
The initial Model Neighborhood Initiative in Berlin NH has created the highest local concentration of wood pellet boiler users in the nation. The program helped 40 homeowners switch to wood pellet heat, as well as the Berlin Housing Authority’s Welch Apartment building, St. Kieran Center for the Arts and Notre Dame Apartments.
It makes me really happy to know that our heating budget is supporting local workers in today's forest industry.
These conversions alone – not considering their regional ripple effect – are giving the local economy a substantial economic boost: we estimate that over the boilers' 25-year lifespan, heating with wood pellets and saving money on fuel bills will contribute $5.3 million to the local economy. Berlin Model Neighborhood Project partners included Berlin BetterBuildings, the City of Berlin and Maine Energy Systems.
We continue to support wood pellet heat in New Hampshire by advocating for continued public rebates, supportive state policies and wider recognition of wood pellets as a reliable and beneficial heating fuel.
Maine Model Neighborhood
The Center launched its second Model Neighborhood Project in Farmington and Wilton, Maine in June 2013, in partnership with Western Maine Community Action. We helped convert 23 residences and 10 non-residential buildings to Automated Wood Heat. Projects include a dairy farm, 4 churches, a physical therapy office, a worm farm, and a University of Maine Farmington building.
“We switched to wood pellet heating to better support the local economy, to be more environmentally friendly and, of course, to save money. The Model Neighborhood Initiative provided an incentive, and we decided it was a good investment to use our endowment to cover the cost of the new system. We’ll use the $8,000-a-year savings to repay our endowment, and after that it will be pure savings.”
Over the 25-year lifetimes of the pellet boilers installed in Farmington and Wilton, the project will contribute over $9 million to the local economy.
Vermont Model Neighborhood
Our Vermont Model Neighborhood Project stretched across the state's Northeast Kingdom, adding dozens of new Automated Wood Heat demonstrations to the region.
“This is the high-tech way to heat with wood—a lot less work, you can’t beat it! The experience with the Northern Forest Center couldn’t have been better. The staff gave timely, informative responses to our questions and concerns throughout the whole project. I think the Center is great and very needed organization in the Northeast.”
Adirondack Model Neighborhood
“Our new boiler is up and running and I believe it's a very positive step for the town. Without Northern Forest Center funding, we'd still be heating with fossil fuel.”