Success Stories
What's hot? The Berlin Model Neighborhood Program.
Demonstration project, funding by CDFA tax credits, brings clean energy to Berlin...and a lot more.

Chip Lebrecque enjoys the results of his participation in the Berlin Model Neighborhood Program.When he first looked into BetterBuildings, Roland “Chip” Lebrecque thought he might save a little money on heating his house. A laid-off pulp mill worker in Berlin now paying his bills as a handyman, Chip needed to be frugal with his money. Instead of just cutting his bills, this CDFA program helped Chip on a whole new career opportunity.

Chip became one of the first homeowners to take part in the Berlin Model Neighborhood Project. A collaborative effort between Berlin BetterBuildings, the City of Berlin, Northern Forest Center, and Maine Energy Systems, BMNP subsidized the installation of high-efficiency wood pellet boiler systems.

BMNP also received a $400,000 tax credit award from CDFA.

“This system is incredible,” says Chip, showing off his new boiler. “The pellets are piped right into the hopper in my basement. The boiler is so quiet, really clean, and for once all the corners of my house are warm.”

BMNP is just one of the accomplishments of BetterBuildings, a three-year project to save NH residents and business money through deep energy retrofits. Since its inception in 2010, BetterBuildings has given technical assistance to analyze homes and offices, and has partnered with local lenders to provide loans and grants to finance the energy upgrades.

BetterBuildings began in three communities (Berlin, Plymouth, & Nashua), but this year went statewide for commercial projects. BB also teamed with utilities such as PSNH, Unitil and the New Hampshire Electric Co-op to assist residents in their coverage areas too.

The upgrades on Chip’s home included sealing the building envelope and improving his electric and hot water systems. Combined with swapping heating oil for wood pellets (manufactured locally), Chip saved 315 kilowatt hours, reduced his CO2 emission by 9,347 lbs, and cut his energy bill by 40%. His project will pay for itself in less than two years.

So intrigued by the green energy movement in his city, Chip attended several workforce development seminars sponsored by BetterBuildings. Now this handyman is a certified BPI Energy Auditor, ready to service the high-efficiency equipment now heating his neighbors’ homes.

“I already had my first call. It was just a jammed chute,” says Chip. “But these systems are the wave of the future.”

Project summary

Building age

Square footage 1,502
Construction wood frame
Number of floors 2
Project cost (pre-rebate) $27,493
CDFA/BetterBuildings rebate $750
BetterBuildings partner rebates $23,528
Estimated annual oil savings 666 gallons
Estimated annual electricity savings 315 kWh
Projected energy savings 40%

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