Rural Development, Inc. (RDI) is a non-profit organization. RDI’s award winning Home Ownership Program, with the help of many partners, built a village of twenty Near Zero Net Energy condominiums in Greenfield, MA. These homes are third party certified through the Massachusetts New Homes with Energy Star program and the LEED for Homes program to be the best in green, super energy efficient building. This is a mixed ability development. RDI received funding from the Massachusetts Community Based Housing Program to build two homes within the village that are fully accessible for people in wheelchairs. These two homes are rented to people with physical disabilities. All twenty homes are visit-able by people in wheelchairs. There are three and four bedroom condominiums for sale in the Wisdom Way Solar Village. This is a mixed income village. The price of the home depends on the buyer’s income.  

Eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements to purchase a subsidized home for people with low and moderate income:

1. First-time homebuyer. A first-time homebuyer is defined as an individual or an individual and his or her spouse who have not owned a home during the 3 year period before the purchase of a home under the Program, except that:        

(1) Any individual who is a displaced homemaker (as defined by HUD) may not be excluded from consideration as a first-time homebuyer on the basis that the individual, while a homemaker, owned a home with his or her spouse or resided in a home owned by the spouse;        

(2) Any individual who is a single parent (as defined by HUD) may not be excluded from consideration as a first-time homebuyer under this definition on the basis that the individual, while married, owned a home with his or her spouse or resided in a home owned by the spouse; and       

(3) An individual may not be excluded from consideration as a first-time homebuyer on the basis that the individual owns or owned, as a principal residence during the 3-year period before the purchase of a home under the Program, a dwelling unit whose structure is:            

(i)  Not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with local or other applicable regulations; or

(ii) Not in compliance with State, local, or model building codes, or other applicable codes, and cannot be brought into compliance with such codes for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.

2. Able to obtain a mortgage. Along with your application please submit to RDI a mortgage pre-qualification letter obtained within the last sixty days from a lender for an amount sufficient to purchase one of these homes. The mortgage needs to be a 30 year fixed rate conforming mortgage with zero points.

3. Asset limit of $75,000. The total gross household asset limitation is $75,000. This includes all liquid assets and restricted accounts such as retirement accounts.

4. Primary residence. The home you purchase in the Wisdom Way Solar Village must be your primary residence.  Renting the home to others is not permitted.

5. Agree to a 30-year period of affordability & Deed Restrictions. In the subsidized homes measures are in place to keep the homes affordable to people with low and moderate income for 30 years. There are resale restrictions that include contacting RDI to find another low-income buyer, and there is a limit on the resale price. If you purchase one of these homes you will sign a “deed rider” that will describe the conditions and your responsibilities.

6. First time home buyer workshop. All people who will be on the mortgage or on the title of the home are required to take an approved first time home buyers workshop before they can purchase a home through this program. You do not need to submit a certificate of completion with the application but you will be required to submit one before you can actually purchase the home.For the remaining home being sold on the open market there are no eligibility requirements or re-sale restrictions.

In addition, RDI has retained ownership of the two fully accessible homes and rented these to eligible people with physical disabilities. There are separate eligibility requirements and a separate application process for these rental homes. To begin the application process to get on the waiting list for these accessible homes please contact RDI at 413-863-9781. Near Zero Net Energy Near Zero Net Energy is a term that refers to buildings that produce almost as much energy as they use. The primary techniques used in the Wisdom Way Solar Village homes are those that start by reducing the heating, cooling, and electrical loads. A three-bedroom home is modeled to have a design heat load of 12,600 Btu/h when the temperature is 2° F outside. Key three-bedroom home features, which are very similar in the two and four bedroom homes, are:

  • A small footprint with an open floor plan (1392 square feet of conditioned space above an unconditioned full basement);
  • A southern orientation with a 3.4 kW photovoltaic and a 87 sq. ft. solar hot water system;
  • A very tight building envelope; 
  • Recycled blown-in dry cellulose encircling the building envelope: 
  • 12 inches in the offset double 2x4 walls for R-42;
  • 14 inches  in the ceilings for R-52;
  • 11 inches in the basement ceilings for R-38.
  • Very high efficiency windows on the north, east, and west sides of the homes with a U-value of 0.18, a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of .26, and a Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of 0.42.
  • High efficiency windows on the south sides of the homes with a U-value of 0.26, a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of .36, and a Visible Light Transmission (VLT) of 0.53.
  • Continuous 50 CFM exhaust ventilation; 
  • ENERGY STAR refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer (plus natural gas cook stove and dryer); 
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout; 
  • On-demand natural gas water heater as back up to solar hot water system;
  • A sealed combustion Monitor room heater located in the central living area on the first floor (no fossil fuel based central heating system is necessary);
  • No air conditioning;  
  • A unique air distribution system designed to move air and heat from the first floor to the second floor bedrooms; the ducts for this system as well as all of the vent fans are sealed with mastic.

Preliminary REM/Rate modeling predicted annual gas use of 205 therms for back up space heating, 89 therms for cooking and laundry, and 20 therms for back up water heating.  Monthly gas use then was predicted to be 26.16 therms.  Data gathered from January through May of 2010 showed that households were using between 3.4 and 29.2 therms per month.  A solar hot water system consisting of three flat-plate collectors (87 sq. ft. total) and a 105-gallon storage tank provides most of the water heating energy.

A 3.4-kW photovoltaic system will provide approximately 4,000 kWh of renewable electricity annually. This will offset all of the electricity used in the home if the owners are conscientious of energy use.
Home Energy Rating System (HERS)The HERS rating is provided by an independent third party rater and shows the relative energy efficiency of a home.

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The homes in the Solar Village are earning ratings of between 7 and 18 where 0 indicates a home which produces all of its own energy (zero net energy) and 100 is a standard code built home. WWSV's ratings mean that these homes use between 7 and 18% of the energy used by a standard code built home. LEED for HomesRDI is very pleased to have achieved Platinum certification in the LEED® for Homes program for the first seven Wisdom Way Solar Village homes. Platinum is the highest of four possible levels. LEED for Homes is a rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants. Benefits of a LEED home include lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. (from the US Green Building Council)

Suppliers and contractors

Austin Design,Inc.
BCI Appraisal
Cellu-Spray
Central Appliance
Cowls Building Supply
Craigs Cozy Cabins
D. & D. Beckwith Hardwood Floors
Descavich Plumbing & Heating
David Singer, Esq.
Deerfield Valley Crane
EFI - Energy Federation Inc.
Gettens Electric Supply Company Inc.
Greenfield Cooperative Exchange
Grover Landscaping
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
Hamshaw Lumber Inc.
James Electric
Joan S. Rockwell & Associates
Jones Town & Country Realty Services Inc.
K. Levitch Associates
LML Construction
Martin’s Farm
Mass Woodlands Cooperative
Manny’s TV & Appliance
Mini Construction, Inc.
NorthEast Solar
Paradigm Windows
Peter Waters Painting
Pioneer Valley Organics Landscaping
r. k. Miles, Inc.
Reil Cleaning Services
Renaissance Builders
Sani-Can, Inc.
Sirois and Armstrong Inc.
Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
Summerlin Floors
The Green Internet Group
The Masiello Group
Upright Drywall
Vincent P. Guntlow & Associates, Inc.
Westover Building Supply Inc.