Please support the Greenfield Recorder's COVID-19 coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy — and many of the advertisers who support our work — to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at because we feel our most critical mission is to deliver vital information to our communities. If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate.

Thank you for your support of the Recorder.

Michael Moses, Publisher

Greenfield home featured on sustainability tour

  • Greenfield resident Janet Obermann’s 463-square-foot home at 58 James St. will offer an open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network’s fourth annual Sustainable Home Tour. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/3/2019 6:51:16 PM
Modified: 10/3/2019 6:51:05 PM

GREENFIELD — It’s show-and-tell time for a handful of Franklin County and southern Vermont homes, including a Greenfield house that won Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Small Home Hero Award in June.

Greenfield resident Janet Obermann’s 463-square-foot home at 58 James St. will offer an open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network’s (SEON’s) fourth annual Sustainable Home Tour.

According to a press release from SEON, a nonprofit based in Brattleboro, Vt., the tour “will showcase homes and the design/construction teams whose work demonstrates a commitment to high performance building, sustainable materials, durability, indoor air quality and renewable energy.”

Builders will be available at each home to explain the challenges and goals of their projects, the release states. They will explain their approach to the project, the decisions they made in consultation with the homeowner and why a particular product was chosen over another.

In Obermann’s case, she acted as her own general contractor and worked with Unity Homes to create a structure using CAD software that feeds a design into a machine and builds the structure indoors. It is then assembled on-site.

“It’s built using low-volatile organic compounds (VOC), and dense-packed cellulite was blown into the walls, which were 2-by-6 timbers,” Obermann said.

She said because of the way the house was constructed, the building is nearly air tight. Obermann can open a window during the evening to cool down her home, and she closes them during the day.

There is also a heat recovery system that exhausts air in and out of the building. Fresh air is neutralized by the air leaving the home, which saves on heating costs.

Because of the way the house was constructed, Obermann’s estimated heating bill for the year is $140, and another $40 for cooling.

“It’s about thinking ahead of things and trying to keep the building as air tight as possible,” Obermann said.

She hopes people will come to the event to learn about being energy efficient, whether in retrofitting a home or building a new one.

“I hope people can connect with builders and learn about having an energy-efficient home. As we deal with climate change, we all have a responsibility. It doesn’t take more money to build energy efficient, it takes planning,” Obermann said. “It’s a growing movement to have smaller homes and therefore have less space to heat and cool, so I’d like people to know about their options.”

Obermann’s home is one of seven homes featured on the tour, and the only home in Massachusetts. Other stops of SEON’s tour, all in Vermont, include: an energy-efficient straw bale home and the 23-unit Snow Block building, both in Brattleboro; a high-performance home in Marlboro; two homes that are under construction in Marlboro and Putney; and a house built in 2000 in Newfane that underwent an energy upgrade to become a net-zero home, generating as much energy as it uses.

Theresa Spear, program manager with SEON, said the Sustainable Home Tour isn’t exactly new to Greenfield, with a Greenfield home having been highlighted on the second annual tour. The tour itself began as both a fundraiser for SEON and part of a public education effort whereby participants can see first-hand the mechanical systems, layout, windows and strategies for an energy-efficient home.

“The tour was originally started out of conversations around ‘seeing and touching,’ the concept of high-performance and healthy homes,” she explained. “It’s one thing to read about this and another to see it first hand.”

Tickets for the tour are $15 individually or two for $25 when paid at the door of one of the home stops.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy