Release: Rutland Historic and Affordable Housing Project Setting New Standard for Energy Efficiency

WEST RUTLAND, Vt. - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced a $175,000 federal energy efficiency grant for a 17-unit affordable housing project in the historic St. Stanislaus School and Convent buildings. 

The project's extraordinary energy-saving improvements could make it a national model.  While a typical weatherization project in Vermont can save 20 to 30 percent on energy consumption, the St. Stanislaus project will aim to reduce energy use for heating by 60 percent, and reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent or more. One result will be that energy costs at the St. Stanislaus project will be slashed by thousands of dollars every year.

"I am very pleased that this grant will help the St. Stanislaus project set a new standard for energy efficient affordable housing," Sanders said. "There is little doubt in my mind that in the years to come the energy mix in this state will be very different than it is today.  This federal support will help move our state toward a greener economy.

"At a time when many Vermonters are struggling economically, when affordable housing can be very hard to come by and when many low- and moderate-income people are spending 50 percent of more of their limited income on housing, this affordable housing project is sorely needed and I'm very excited to see it built in Rutland." 

"Sen. Sanders is giving us an exciting challenge and a tremendous opportunity," said Elisabeth Kulas, executive director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County. "We've been sensitive to energy improvements and the concept of renewal energy in our affordable housing development, having dabbled with solar hot water and spray foam insulation in the recent past. This grant is creating a pathway to implement the most advanced, yet proven, energy technologies. 

"Furthermore, and equally notable, pursuing this initiative in a project that is also meeting the National Park Services' highest historic preservation standards  adds one more critical dimension and means this will serve as a poster child for historic preservation with energy efficiency and renewals technology for the rest of the country," Kulas added.

In order to achieve the energy efficiency goals, the project will increase roof and wall insulation and install high-efficiency lighting and appliances. It also will feature a wood pellet boiler, a solar hot water heater, triple-glazed windows, and an energy-saving ventilation system.

In addition to the $175,000 grant that Sanders secured from the U.S. Department of Energy, the $4.6 million project also received $1.25 million from the federal stimulus package and significant funding from the Vermont Housing Conservation Board and other investors.

The project will revitalize two long-abandoned historic buildings in West Rutland.  Both the school building and the convent which housed nuns who taught there are included on the state's historic register and the National Register of Historic Places.