EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 22, 2008

Focus: A new kind of greenhouse Local companies help makes home, office energy-efficient and eco-friendly


PowerHouse Enterprises of Lawrence addresses the needs of both homeowners and businesses, using techniques and materials that almost guarantee that energy bills will be low.

The 60 Island St. company builds and designs single-family homes and multi-family complexes and also offers its own "PowerPods," nearly self-contained structures that can go "off grid," with no need for outside sources of energy.

A home the company built on Market Street in Lawrence uses the latest in green building technology, from the recycled products in the floor joists to the solar panels on the roof, cutting heating and electric bills to around $50 or $60 a month, said Quincy Vale, president of the company.

He said PowerHouse has also entered the consulting business for large industrial and commercial customers.

For example, PowerHouse has been working on a project that would put together a consortium of Lawrence mill building owners to enter a long-term electricity supply contract, thus bringing down the cost of electricity for everyone involved.

"We want to help people control their energy and utility costs," Vale said.

Pellegrino Construction: A model subdivision

Pellegrino Construction of Salem, N.H., is building a subdivision in Methuen that will serve as a research and development lab of sorts for energy-efficient homes.

The 31-lot project will incorporate three types of homes, one using traditional 2-by-4 construction, another 2-by-6 construction and a third style using insulated concrete and steel.

"You'll be able to see what the difference is (in energy efficiency) all in one area," said company president Robert Pellegrino.

What people will find, he said, is that the 2-by-6 construction is more energy-efficient than 2-by-4 construction. But the concrete and steel structures will "blow people away."

Those structures employ a design pioneered by his stepfather, Robert Lefevre, when he built a home in Kingston, N.H., that is cooled and heated using nothing but solar energy.

"There's no furnace in the house," Pellegrino said.

While the first phase of the development is done.— roads and infrastructure — the energy-efficient concrete and steel housing won't be built until next spring or summer.

Those homes will sell for around $500,000, about 15 percent more than the "stick built," 2-by-4 and 2-by-6 houses in the development.

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