Model Neighborhood Project

Benefits of the Model Neighborhood Project

40% annual fuel savings for average participants

Financial subsidy to support purchase and installation of new pellet boilers

14-ton per house reduction in greenhouse gas emissions 1,000 gallons of heating oil replaced by wood pellets

100% of every dollar spent on wood pellets from the Northern Forest will stay in the lcoal and regional economy

Model Neighborhood Project

This new program is subsidizing the cost to transition from oil heating systems to advanced wood pellet boilers for homeowners in Berlin, NH, and Farmington and Wilton, Maine.

Learn more below.

Clean and efficient system

New, high efficiency wood pellet boilers are a virtually seamless replacement for traditional oil-based systems.

Homeowners remove small bags of ash only 3 or 4 times a year through a clean quick-release system.

Program benefits regional economy

Demand for wood pellets will strengthen the market for low-grade wood

Increased pellet production will stabilize and increase employment in forest-related businesses

100% of every dollar spent on wood pellets stays in the regional economy

Partners in New Hampshire

Northern Forest Center
Berlin BetterBuildings
Maine Energy Systems
City of Berlin


Partners in Maine

Western Maine Community Action

The Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Project incentivizes the installation of high-efficiency, automated wood pellet boilers to increase familiarity with these systems, demonstrate their value and viability, and develop service and pellet delivery infrastructure. These heating systems are widely used in Europe, but their market penetration in the U.S. is limited. The Northern Forest Center partners with local organizations to focus education and incentives on select Northern Forest communities, whose cost savings, economic impacts, and experiences are then shared widely across the region.

Given the Northern Forest's high dependence on heating oil and its tremendous forest resource, high efficiency wood pellet heat has the potential to transform the region's energy economy. Check our Regional, Berlin and Farmington Dashboards to track how much the Model Neighborhood communities are saving!

Berlin (NH) Model Neighborhood Project

Launched in fall 2011, this project was a collaboration with Berlin BetterBuildings, the City of Berlin and Maine Energy Systems. 40 families, an arts center, and two non-profit housing properties made the switch. These conversions alone – not considering their regional ripple effect – are giving the local economy a substantial economic boost: we estimate that over the boilers' 25-year lifespan, buying Northern Forest wood pellets and saving money on fuel bills will contribute $5.3 million to the local economy.

Farmington (ME) Model Neighborhood Project

The Center launched its second Model Neighborhood Project in Farmington and Wilton, Maine in June 2013, in partnership with Western Maine Community Action.  Twelve homes, two churches and a physical therapy office have made the switch so far, and applications are still being accepted.

Vermont Model Neighborhood Project

In partnership with RuralEdge and Efficiency Vermont, the Center launched a Model Neighborhood Project in June 2014 to serve nine Northeast Kingdom towns in greater Lyndonville. Incentives are available for residential and non-residential projects alike; working lands businesses are especially encouraged to apply.


The Model Neighborhood Project is designed to catalyze the modern wood pellet boiler market and provide direct benefits to citizens and businesses in rural Northern Forest communities. The project helps to:

  • Create and retain jobs in forest-related businesses.
  • Retain wealth in the region: 100% of heating dollars spent on regionally produced wood pellets stays here, versus the 22% of dollars spent on heating oil that remains in the regional economy.
  • Generate market demand needed to foster wide-spread conversion away from fossil fuels.
  • Support forest conservation: strong markets for low grade wood give landowners greater economic incentives to keep forests as forests.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: high efficiency wood heating systems reduce net CO2 emissions over time compared to fossil fuels.
  • Lower heating costs by about 40% compared to oil, which reduces local tax burdens, helps small businesses stay viable, and keeps more money in homeowners’ pockets.
  • Build delivery and service infrastructure needed for widespread adoption of high efficiency wood pellet heating across the region.