Community Spotlight: Strafford Goes Green with a New Geothermal Town Hall

By AnnMarie French

After 10 years of defeated town meeting warrant articles and several redesigns, Strafford local officials and citizens gathered on Tuesday, June 2, 2009, to celebrate the grand opening of the new Strafford Town Hall. ‘Going green’ was admittedly not something the town leaders had originally planned on, but the design-build construction process was in “the right place at the right time" to reconsider the proposed plan.

At the 2008 town meeting, against the backdrop of steadily climbing energy prices, a proposal to upgrade to a geothermal heating system was submitted from the floor. Members of the town’s recently formed energy committee presented figures to show the rate of return the town would receive by installing a geothermal system and other efficient features. With little debate, the town meeting approved an additional $44,000 to make the recommended upgrades, including the installation of more energy-efficient windows and insulation and a geothermal heating system. The design-construction team of Tony Fallon Architecture and Whitcher Builders soon set to work incorporating this new vision into the project workflow, and construction continued to move along smoothly.

The town hall actually opened in late 2008, providing occupants with time to settle in and experience their first winter in energy-efficient comfort. The 4,000 square-foot building is currently operating on an estimated $3,000 annual heating and cooling cost, compared to the $9,000 cost of a building of similar size with a standard heating and cooling system. It’s important to note that the new construction incorporates environmentally-friendly cellulose insulation, windows and other features, which contribute to the overall efficiency of the structure.

Strafford is one of just a few town halls in New Hampshire to incorporate a geothermal heating system, and an increasing number of projects that incorporate the green technology. (The growing list of geothermal projects now includes the New Hampshire Local Government Center, which installed a geothermal system for the new building addition opened in late June 2009.) To learn more about Strafford’s Town Hall project, visit the town website at www.strafford.nh.gov or call 603.664.2192.

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