The installation of a new solar array at The Rocks in Bethlehem was recently completed by ReVision Energy, part of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ renovation project to create Forest Society North at The Rocks.
The solar array is made up of 180 photovoltaic solar panels spanning three, ground-mounted rows in a field next to the Carriage Barn. This 86.4-kilowatt array will produce over 100,000 kWh of clean solar energy each year and will power geothermal heat pumps. The project will offset 156,000 pounds of carbon annually, the equivalent to removing 15 passenger cars from the road.
“As we designed Forest Society North at The Rocks, achieving net-zero emissions was a high priority,” said Jack Savage. “The Forest Society has always been a leader in energy efficient building practices. When we expanded the Conservation Center in Concord by building the French Wing in 2000, it was the first LEED gold certified building in New England. Now the conversion of the Carriage Barn will demonstrate our conservation values and help educate others on net zero building techniques.”
ReVision Energy is an employee-owned solar company based in Enfield and Brentwood, New Hampshire.
“The Forest Society's renovation of the Rocks to a net zero program space and office aligns perfectly with ReVision Energy’s vision of a clean environment and just society for future generations,” said ReVision co-owner Daniel Clapp. “The Rocks will be a place where our kids can continue to connect to the land, learn about our changing climate, and most importantly learn that we have the solutions to make a positive impact on the climate. They will be able to see first-hand how this solar array produces clean energy. The Forest Society and ReVision have a clear overlap in values, including passion, learning, and stewardship, so everyone at ReVision wanted to be part of this exciting project.”
In June, the Forest Society “broke ground” on the renovation of the 1884 Carriage Barn as a new program and event center while retaining its historic stone and shingle exterior. An insulated building envelope will be created on the interior, with a geothermal system for heating and cooling and the solar array for electricity and power to heat pumps. The facility will offer an open gallery and gift shop, classrooms, event space, public restrooms, and offices for Forest Society staff who serve the North Country. One of the classrooms will be named the Jane A. Difley classroom, in honor of Difley’s 23 years of leadership as the Forest Society’s fourth President/Forester.
The newly installed solar array is another step in the multi-year transformation at The Rocks, after the loss of historic buildings to a 2019 fire. A hillside amphitheater made with the granite foundation stones of the lost buildings now occupies the site of the fire, offering spectacular White Mountain views, including the Pliny, Kilkenny, and Presidential ranges. The amphitheater will be used as an outdoor classroom, event space, and picnic area.
The Forest Society has also located the Christmas Tree Farm operations at “The Red House” complex at 686 Main Street, down the hill from the stone barn, separating farm operations from public use areas. More than 30,000 trees grow in the fields at The Rocks.
In addition to creating a welcoming natural and cultural history destination, the Forest Society’s investment at The Rocks will allow professional conservation staff serving the North Country to be based at The Rocks. The Forest Society owns 17 forest reservations in the North Country and is in the process of purchasing 3,750 acres in Shelburne, known as the Mahoosuc Highlands.