Next week at our production facility in Keene, we plan to pull a lever on a large switch and power will begin to flow into the facility from the new 136 Kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof.
We have several reasons to celebrate this event:
Leading by Example – The cost of solar power has dropped more than 75% in the past ten years. Thanks largely to this trend, increasing numbers of Unity clients are installing PV arrays on their homes. By installing this system on our facility, we are joining these Unity homeowners in demonstrating to others that solar power is a smart choice now.
Financial – By supplying nearly 50% of our power needs at the facility, the PV array is projected to save us approximately $1,400 per month. We expect the system to pay for itself in about 11 years, after which all that electricity will be produced essentially for free.
Environmental – The PV array substantially reduces the combined carbon footprint of Unity and Bensonwood. Each year the array will offset CO2 emissions equivalent to consuming 14,000 gallons of gasoline, or powering 18 average homes.
Mission – At Unity, we try to “walk our talk.” We believe in building homes that live lightly and sustainably on the planet. We are now producing these homes in a facility that is partially powered by clean renewable energy.
While the array on the rooftop of our new facility is impressive, Unity friends and potential clients had the opportunity to see a home-sized PV system up close at the open house we hosted in June. At 10 Kilowatts (kW), the array on this new Unity home in southeastern VT has been sized to provide as much power as the home is projected to use, resulting in net zero energy performance.
Visitors to the open house were also able to learn about the Tesla Powerwall battery system that complements the home’s PV array. The battery was installed by the local utility, Green Mountain Power, as part of a pilot program that allows the homeowner to have reliable back-up power in the event of a power outage, and gives the utility a mechanism for providing power to the grid during periods of peak demand.
Battery storage systems such as Tesla’s Powerwall are the next frontier in making renewable energy practical and widespread. As the industry grows and the technology matures, the cost of these storage systems will drop significantly.
Because Unity’s homes require little energy for heating and cooling and they are generally designed to be “all electric,” they are a perfect match for renewable energy technologies that are available and practical today. As Unity’s clients increasingly opt for installing PV systems on their homes, we are proud to be producing solar-powered, Net Zero homes in a solar-powered facility.