Case Study: The Thomaston Net Zero Project

We’re helping renovate this 170-year-old farmhouse to meet the latest in Net Zero building standards without losing its historic character.

The Eversource New Construction Energy Efficiency team is helping homeowners renovate their old family home, a 1850s farmhouse in Thomaston, Connecticut, with the latest in energy-efficient technology. 

The goal is a Net Zero home – a home that uses no more energy than it produces on site. This is accomplished with high efficiency building techniques and mechanical systems and remaining energy needs are met with onsite generation, such as solar panels. 

September 15: After months of planning, the team broke ground on the project. Wonderful old timbers from a portion of the house that was deconstructed have been sorted, de-nailed and prepared for reuse in the new addition.

November 30: The team has been hard at work on the basement of the new addition, including digging out the ground, laying the foundation and building the walls. The team took special care to build around the farm’s original well, which was hand built and is still full of water after more than 150 years.

December 14: The basement of the addition has been completed and the team set to work laying flooring and building up the walls. The goal is to have the addition completely framed by the end of the year.

January 1: The roof and walls on the first level have been partially completed. The windows are being cut out and the team is getting ready to start on the second level. To achieve Net Zero, the team is paying special attention to ensuring that the walls are air-tight, which will reduce the transfer of air between the indoors and outdoors and ultimately reduce the amount of energy needed to heat or cool the home.

February 10: The structure for the walls on both levels have been completed and the roof is getting close to done. The team has started working on the final piece of the roof on the right side of the frame.

March 13: The structure for the right side of the home has been installed and the roofing continues to be worked on for the entire property. More cut-outs for windows and siding are also being put in place.

April 12: The interior structure is starting to be developed and energy-efficient windows are almost entirely installed.

May 4: The windows on the left side of the home have been installed using ZIP System Liquid Flash and Sheathing to create an air and moisture barrier. This process eliminates the need for a separate application of building wrap or roofing felt and was hand painted on each window and door frame. In addition, the crew is beginning to lay concrete outside.

June 15: As contractors work on the interior of the home, the Dunsky’s begin to plan for a solar array installation. Originally, the homeowners thought they would wait a year for this endeavor because there was no established usage data. After some consideration, and a partnership with PurePoint Energy based in Norwalk, CT, a plan was created to place 40 solar panels on the roof of the home while it is under construction. The solar panels will generate about 14 kWh and after a season in the home with data collected, the Dunsky’s will add to their solar array so that they generate enough to return energy to the grid.

The renovation project is underway.  We will be updating this page regularly to give you a behind-the-scenes view as this project progresses. Be sure to check back for updates!

Keeping the old house's charm while outfitting it with the latest Net-Zero technology is a real challenge. For the Dunsky's, though, it's all worth it to "de-carbonize" their life.

"We will all have to make the transition from fossil fuels at some point in the coming decades," says Steve Dunsky, "We hope our projects will inspire others to take action before the efforts of global worming become even more catastrophic."

To achieve this ambitious goal, the team will have to: 

  • Make the house air-tight and highly insulated
  • Install double-pane Low-E3 windows and thermally-insulated doors
  • Use only ENERGY STAR® appliances and LED lighting
  • Install a geothermal heat pump system to replace the oil-fired furnace
  • Build a masonry heater to be supplied with wood from the property
  • Use high efficiency domestic water heaters
  • Design a ground-mounted solar array with battery storage to produce 100 percent of the electricity needs for the house and outbuildings
  • Install EV chargers in the garage for their electric vehicles
  • Implement water conservation measures including a 2000 gallon cistern for capturing rain water runoff from the roof and drains

EcoHome Comfort Systems, HVAC

Marc LeMieux, Plumbing Contractor

Larry Low, Electrical Contractor

Andrzej Grzadziel, Masonry Heater

Wayne Tobin, Builder

Larry Whalen, Jr., Site Preparation

Paul Hinkel and Susan Gaile of Hinkel Design Group, Architects

Jared Mongitore, R&M Insulation

Tim Poole of MaGrann Associates, HERS Rater 

The Eversource New Construction Energy Efficiency team provides expertise and incentives to help make new construction and major renovation projects of all types more efficient.

From just energy efficient to Net Zero and Passive House, the team can help you lower your carbon footprint from the ground up. Engage with us early on to maximize savings and incentives. 

As a sponsor of the Energize Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge and the NHSaves Drive to Net Zero Home Competition, and through our support of Passive House construction in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Eversource is helping make low-carbon, sustainable construction the norm in the Northeast.

For more information about how we can help you with your new construction or major renovation project, you can visit our New Construction page.

Have a commercial or industrial project? We offer solutions for those too.