A blighted mobile home park that had become a brownfield has been transformed into Vermont’s first affordable and net-zero energy rental housing neighborhood.
Developed by Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) in partnership with Cathedral Square, McKnight Lane in Waltham features 14 net-zero energy two- and three-bedroom modular homes that are affordable to households earning at or below 50% and 60% of the area median income. All of the homes incorporate universal design principles, while two are fully accessible.
The high-performance modular homes are manufactured by VERMOD in Wilder, Vt. These homes feature extra insulation to reduce energy loss, healthy building materials, fresh and filtered air, triple-pane windows, Energy Star lighting and appliances, and cold-climate heat pumps.
Each home’s total energy usage, including heating, cooling, and domestic hot water, is covered by a 6-kW rooftop solar photovoltaic array. Each also features a 6-kWh Sonnen solar battery system for energy storage. The system can provide up to six hours of emergency backup power during grid outages.
“Nearly half of Addison County renters are burdened by their housing costs, paying more than a third of their incomes in rent and utilities,” said Elise Shanbacker, executive director of ACCT. “Not only is McKnight Lane affordable to low-income Vermonters, the net-zero homes with resilient Sonnen energy storage systems ensure residents won’t have to choose between purchasing groceries or paying their fuel bill to stay warm this winter. In particular, the Sonnen batteries are prepared to weather storms and outages for years to come.”
The $3.7 million development, which held its grand opening celebration Oct. 19, was financed primarily by low-income housing tax credits allocated by Vermont Housing Finance Agency. People’s United Bank provided the tax credit equity as well as the construction financing.
Additional funding came from Vermont Community Development Program, the HOME program, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Efficiency Vermont, Clean Energy Development Fund, VLITE, and the National Association of Realtors. Clean Energy Group and the city of Vergennes provided financing and in-kind support, and the city of Waltham provided in-kind support. Vermont Community Loan Fund also provided pre-development financing.
“This project’s benefits are multiple and long lasting: 14 new affordable homes to help address the area’s need for affordable housing, the site is clean and no longer a brownfield, and the homes are net zero and have resiliency,” says Cindy Reid, director of development at Cathedral Square. “ACCT and Cathedral Square could not have spearheaded this development without the critical support of the local communities of Waltham and Vergennes, in addition to all our housing and energy funding partners.”
Pill-Maharam Architects and Otter Creek Engineering provided architectural and engineering services for the development, while Champlain Construction was the general contractor.