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Christie Howe

Christie Howe

Project Manager, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

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Greenfield is a hotbed of sustainable action, including its designation as a Green Community, numerous residential and commercial-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, and more recently a great deal of solar thermal activity. 

As manager of MassCEC’s Commonwealth Solar Hot Water program, I recently spoke to a resident and homeowner in Greenfield, Spartan Giordano, who has found a way to take advantage of the area’s increased interest in solar.

Spartan Giordano at GCC solar installSpartan began his career as a mathematics teacher at Hadley High School, but always had a keen interest in working with high efficiency buildings and solar technologies and “getting his hands dirty.”

He became a volunteer with Co-Op Power, a consumer-owned renewable energy cooperative, where he helped install six solar thermal systems. He was then hired by Co-op Power to direct the 2009 Sustainable Energy Summit. After participating in Greenfield Community College’s (GCC) Renewable Energy Program, under a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant administered by Commonwealth Corporation, Spartan completed classes on solar thermal systems, passive solar and green building design.

Armed with experience and a supreme solar thermal skill set, Spartan embarked on a personal project: the design of his home. With encouragement from his wife Hannah and his friend Adam, he purchased land in Greenfield to build their own passive solar, super-insulated house! Spartan attributes much of his design and construction knowledge to the Renewable Energy Program. Not only were the GCC professors always available to help with design, but many of Spartan’s classmates lent a hand with construction. After two years, Spartan and Hannah are now living in their new, beautiful home with a fully functioning roof-mounted solar thermal system. You can read a month-by-month account of the building process on their blog, including the installation of the two-collector solar thermal system—funded with a Commonwealth Solar Hot Water rebate—that works in combination with an electric water heater to provide 75% of the family’s domestic water heating needs.

Spartan and Adam are currently installing solar thermal systems for Greenfield-based Sandri Energy, which offers a full array of energy related products and services throughout the Northeast. I’m looking forward to seeing the completion of their latest project, a thirty-two collector solar thermal system at the Pittsfield Boys & Girls Club that was funded through MassCEC’s Low Income Solar Thermal Program.

 

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