Holliston LEED House

This is the story of a family who built the first LEED "green" house in Holliston, Massachusetts. We were trying to spend no more than it would take to build an ordinary house,and maybe even succeeded. The dust is still settling.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We won. Here's how.

Mr. Cerutti from MassDEP wrote:
"Congratulations! I spoke to Ken Pelletier and to his knowledge you are
the first persons to seek a variance directly from the state plumbing
board. It really does appear that your efforts have brought us much
closer to having this issue resolved for future applicants. In fairness
to the board, my presentation today was probably the most detailed walk
through of the potential health concerns that has been provided over the
years that this issue has been discussed. "

This morning's meeting was interesting with the plumbing board, but the headline says it all. For those installing this type of system in Massachusetts (dual use well for potable water/standing well open loop geothermal heat pump), follow this procedure:

1. Check with your Board of Health about local requirements for this type of well. Pull whatever permits or obtain what permissions you might need.
2. Drill far enough down to obtain a water test. Test water before proceeding with an open loop, as anything but extra clean water may guide you to using a closed loop.
3. Choose a system with a dual coil refrigerant circuit. Our Water Furnace Envision uses a cupronickel coil surrounded by steel casing. Single coil circuits are not the same, and greater resistance may be found at the regulatory level.
4. Register your well with the MassDEP and get a UIC number. You will be committing to testing of the water 90-120 days after the system is running. Your well driller should do this filing for you.
5. Check with your local plumbing inspector if he is going to run into trouble with code regulations against the use of dual use wells. In our case, the plumbing inspector did not fully understand the system and we simultaneously had a building inspector who defers to the letter of the law over the spirit of the law.
6. Call Dennis Driscoll, Code Compliance Officer at the Massachusetts Gas Fitters and Plumbers Board at (617) 727- 2243 and request a "discussion" place at the plumbing board meeting, which meets the first and last Wednesday of each month.
7. Get all data (specification manual, plot plan with well drawn on, schematic for well, UIC number and all filings and well lab test results). Make 12 copies of everything. Prepare a short statement of your wish to use your well in this way, and why. Attend the meeting, be courteous and prepared, bring your well driller and if he so wishes, your representative from MassDEP. Bring the manual of your furnace that states the type of coils and automatic shut-offs for your system. We also brought the regional rep for the furnace company to answer questions.
8. In our case, after a fairly lengthy discussion, the board voted 8 to 1 in favor of a variance to this code regulation for our dual use well. The one person against was in favor of our "just digging another well."

Hopefully, if enough people do the above steps, we will get permanent regulatory change on the books going forward, if only to stop having to have hearings all the time. As it is, I believe we were the first. Let's not make it the last! Go geo!

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At September 2, 2009 at 7:38 PM , Blogger Bryan said...

Congrats! Let's party.

At September 2, 2009 at 8:15 PM , Blogger Dianne said...

WOO-HOO...congratulations! Claudia filled me in on your trials & tribulations over lunch today. I predicted your win - HOW could they have voted otherwise?!

At September 2, 2009 at 9:51 PM , Blogger Claudia said...


At September 3, 2009 at 1:30 PM , Blogger glenn said...

Congrats! And yeee-haw!

At September 4, 2009 at 7:09 PM , Blogger Erin said...

All Par-Tays are postponed until we Have The Piece of Paper for which we Await. Then, well-hey there. We'll party 'til the cows come home.


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