Touring New Hampshire’s First Net-Zero, Multi-Family Building
By DANIELA ALLEE • OCT 28, 2019

Originally published on NHPR October 26, 2019

James Lake, 66, toured a net zero one-bedroom apartment at Tracy Community Housing

James Lake, 66, toured a one-bedroom apartment at Tracy Community Housing on Friday, Oct. 25. He says he’s most excited about the kitchen, and plans on making a turkey for his first meal when he moves into his new home.
CREDIT DANIELA ALLEE / NHPR

People in West Lebanon had a chance to tour New Hampshire’s first net-zero multi-family residential building.

About 400 solar panels (installed by Norwich Solar Technologies) will power Tracy Community Housing. Some are on the roof, and others are on the south side of the building. Each apartment has a mini-split unit that’ll cool or heat the apartment using air source heat pumps.

Andrew Winters is the executive director at Twin Pines Housing Trust, a non-profit group that develops and provides affordable housing in the Upper Valley. He says Tracy Community is also passive house certified.

“What that means is it uses 80 percent less energy to heat and cool than a typical house that’s built on a standard level of construction,” he said.

The 29-unit building specifically caters to low-income residents in the area. Single people earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, or $37,000, or a family of four making no more than about $53,000 per year are able to apply and live in Tracy.

James Lake, a Lebanon resident, came to tour what’ll be his future home. He says he’s worried about climate change, so he’s glad his new home will be net-zero.

400 solar panels that will provide electricity to net zero Tracy Community Housing residents.

Some of the nearly 400 solar panels that will provide electricity to Tracy Community Housing residents.
CREDIT DANIELA ALLEE / NHPR

“It’s a small step, but you got to start somewhere,” he said.

Lake’s in another affordable housing space now, but before that, he spent almost a year and a half living out of his truck, as he tried to find a place to live.

“New Hampshire’s an expensive place to live in,” he said.

The cost for a one-bedroom unit at Tracy ranges from $750 to $900 a month, including utilities. The maximum rent for a two-bedroom unit is $1,025.

The median rent for a two-bedroom in Grafton County is $1,217, where the vacancy rate is less than one percent.

According to a report by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, 42% of rental households spend about a one-third of their income paying rent.

Some residents are expected to move in at the end of next week, and all construction will finish within the next month.

Copyright 2019 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit New Hampshire Public Radio.