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Touring New Hampshire's First Net-Zero, Multi-Family Building

Daniela Allee

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

About 400 solar panels 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's says he's worried about climate change, so he's glad his new home will be net-zero.

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

Credit Daniela Allee / NHPR
Some of the nearly 400 solar panels that will provide electricity to Tracy Community Housing residents.

Lake's in another affordable housing space now, but before that, he spent almost a year and 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.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at

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