Building America Case Study: Solar Water Heating in Multifamily Buildings, Greenfield, Massachusetts

Timothy Merrigan, R. Aldrich, J. Williamson

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Solar domestic hot water (SDHW) systems have been installed on buildings for decades, but because of relatively high costs they have not achieved significant market penetration in most of the country. As more buildings move towards zero net energy consumption, however, many designers and developers are looking more closely at SDHW. In multifamily buildings especially, SDHW may be more practical for several reasons: (1) When designing for zero net energy consumption, solar water heating may be part of the lowest cost approach to meet water heating loads. (2) Because of better scale, SDHW systems in multifamily buildings cost significantly less per dwelling than in single-family homes. (3) Many low-load buildings are moving away from fossil fuels entirely. SDHW savings are substantially greater when displacing electric resistance water heating. (4) In addition to federal tax incentives, some states have substantial financial incentives that dramatically reduce the costs (or increase the benefits) of SDHW systems in multifamily buildings. With support from the U.S. DOE Building America program, the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB) worked with a developer in western Massachusetts to evaluate a SDHW system on a 12-unit apartment building. Olive Street Development completed construction in spring of 2014, and CARB has been monitoring performance of the water heating systems since May 2014.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB), Norwalk, Connecticut

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-65406

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102016-4826


  • Building America
  • CARB
  • Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings
  • multifamily
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • SDHW
  • solar domestic hot water
  • solar thermal
  • Steven Winter Associates
  • SWA
  • zero net energy consumption


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