Berlin MNPThe Center’s “Model Neighborhood Project” launched in Berlin, N.H., in 2011 with the expectation that putting lots of wood pellet boilers in a single community would create a buzz about the technology and demonstrate that it works well. "We wanted to make the pellet delivery truck a common sight in town and catalyze broader interest in this modern way to heat with wood," said Program Director Maura Adams.

Eight years later, the Center has provided funding or other assistance to 165 projects in communities across the Northern Forest — 114 homes and 51 small commercial buildings, from schools and town garages to a museum and movie theater —and the Model Neighborhoods are spreading the word.

With another heating season just about over, we thought it was a good time to reflect on the impact of these 165 Automated Wood Heat installations. We estimate the economic and environmental impact based on the amount of oil or propane the wood pellet boiler displaced, monthly average fuel prices, and estimated tons of pellets used – which we update annually thanks to bulk pellet vendors who share actual tonnage delivered. The greenhouse gas reduction estimate is based on results of a 2015 lifecycle analysis – you can read more about that here

We estimate that as of late March 2019, our projects have:

• Kept $279,000 to circulating in the local economy
• Used $2.2 million worth of regionally-made wood pellets
• Contributed $4.5 million to the regional economy (based on savings, pellet spending, and economic multipliers including jobs)
• Kept 5,267 tons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere
• Displaced 887,000 gallons of fossil fuels – enough to fill 30 rail cars

The numbers are impressive, and so are the stories. Hearing from neighbors and local organizations about how changing to Automated Wood Heat has helped them is a powerful way to show the benefits of making the fuel switch. Thanks to the Model Neighborhood Project, we know scores of people who are thrilled to be heating buildings in a way that’s consistent with their values, uses a resource that’s been central to their area’s economy for centuries, and educates others about environmental stewardship.

AHEAD – Affordable Housing Education and Development – is one of those committed, satisfied Model Neighborhood participants. This New Hampshire non-profit received one of our very first pellet boiler incentives for a home in Franconia, N.H. Later, AHEAD’s senior housing facility in Berlin, N.H., switched to wood heat as well, and they're considering it for future projects.

"AHEAD made the decision to invest in pellet boilers to save money, lessen our environmental impact, and keep our heating dollars closer to home," said Larry Berg, AHEAD's business manager. "We appreciate that renewable wood pellets provide nearly carbon-neutral heating while helping to keep our heating dollars in the region."

"AHEAD will continue to make pellet boiler investments at its properties when feasible and is currently considering pellets as an option to fuel a district heat system in a future development," said Berg.

The Center is always eager to share Model Neighborhood stories and results, especially when we can use projects to inform and inspire others considering Automated Wood Heat to replace their fossil fuel heating systems. If you’d like to see a project in your part of the Northern Forest, chances are we know someone who’d welcome you into their basement for a tour! Use our web Contact form to let us know you’re interested in learning more.

Our Model Neighborhood Project installations may be complete, but the benefits will continue. We look forward to sharing more results and stories in the future.