Fossil fuel-free housing development coming to South Burlington

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 9:12 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A new fossil fuel-free housing development is coming to South Burlington. Green Mountain Power and South Burlington real estate developer O’Brien Brothers Agency on Friday unveiled what they call the first-of-its-kind project.

Developer Evan Langfeldt is standing on what will be a community park inside a new phase of the Hillside East housing community in South Burlington.

“There will be triplexes that will be facing the road,” Langfeldt explained. “Walking paths, bike paths; there will be pocket parks, playgrounds.”

A total of 155 new houses will be built over the next seven to eight years as part of an ongoing multiphase housing project. “The real difference with this next phase is that these will be 100% fossil fuel free,” Langfeldt said.

All appliances in Hillside East will run on electricity including heating. The homes will be equipped with electric car chargers. And all of it will be powered by solar panels. “We are already pushing the envelope on the energy efficiency side -- how far can we push this,” Langfeldt said.

Green Mountain Power is partnering with O’Brien Brothers and GMP CEO Mari McClure says it’s only the beginning. “The culmination of all the hard work we have been doing over the last several years to bring real resiliency to Vermonters,” she said.

The community will operate as a microgrid, allowing it to both stay powered up during outages and also supply GMP with stored power during peak need. Each home will be equipped with three Tesla Powerwall batteries, and coupled with solar, will provide a self-sustaining power source. “This project is an example of how you can create real resilience for customers, decarbonize their lives, and save costs for all other customers on the grid,” McClure said. “The next step will be to bring this technology to all parts of Vermont, in particular, the rural parts of our state.”

McClure said the development will provide a roadmap not only for Vermont communities but the entire country. “It is the future of the grid -- across the whole country -- happening right here in South Burlington,” she said.

Langfeldt says the development will help re-write the rules on homebuilding. “It’s going to become the norm. I mean, this is the direction people are moving,” he said.

There will be a range of homes from single-family to townhouses that will go for market rate, starting at about $500,000. The first units are expected to come online as early as this fall.

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