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Renewable Energy Tool Belt

Imagine you are a Local Energy Committee member.  You have been tasked with implementing the Energy chapter of your town’s Master Plan.  You’d like to focus on the recommendation to increase your town’s renewable energy use.  But where should you start?  Should you offset your town’s electricity usage with solar or its heating needs with wood?  How would you start to compare the two?   Is solar feasible at the library?  Would Town Hall benefit from a heat pump? Is a wood chip system suitable for the elementary school?  How would you make the decision?

The Renewable Energy Tool Belt is designed to help community leaders evaluate potential renewable energy systems. While the Tool Belt will not replace the work of an outside professional, it will give communities a starting point to compare renewable energy options. Communities will then enter into discussions with energy professionals having a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of each renewable energy type and will be able to make more informed decisions about which option is best for them.


The Renewable Energy Tool Belt was created by the Nashua Regional Planning Commission in partnership with the Local Energy Solutions Work Group with funding from NH Charitable Foundation, Charles H. Cummings Fund.  To access the Renewable Energy Tool Belt along with other helpful energy resources, visit www.nhenergy.org.

What’s in the Tool Belt?
Step 1. Benchmark Your Energy Usage—it’s essential to measure & track how much energy your buildings use. This section provides an overview of how to use EPA’s Portfolio Manager.

Step 2. Identify Your Current Needs—the Tool Belt doesn’t need to be read cover-to-cover. This section is designed to help users determine which sections will be most relevant to their community.

Step 3. Learn About Renewable Energy Options—you can’t make an informed decision about which type of renewable energy is best for your community if you don’t know what the options are. This section provides a brief overview of the different types of renewable energy sources.

Step 4. Project Siting & Selection—this section consists of a series of checklists to help users determine which renewable energy source may be feasible at their target location.

Step 5. Financing Your Project—this section discusses financial options for renewable energy, the pros and cons of owning vs leasing, sample questions to ask when obtaining financing, and a timeline for securing financing within the Town Meeting schedule.

Step 6. Public Outreach—this section helps users develop a comprehensive public outreach strategy.

Step 7. Case Studies and Technical Assistance—this section contains information on consultant selection, renewable energy case studies, and a renewable energy document library.

Renewable Energy Tool Belt Documents

Renewable Energy Tool Belt

Renewable Energy Tool Belt: Year 1 Research

Year 1 Appendix

Photo: Gray Watson, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Photo: Tarm Biomass, www.woodboilers.com

Photo: US EPA, http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/solutions/technologies/geothermal.html