The Savings Bank of Walpole’s new Keene branch won’t just handle area residents’ green. The building will be “green” itself — designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient, according to CEO and President Gregg R. Tewksbury.
Plans for the new, full-service branch at 817 Court St. call for solar panels on the roof’s southern side, where the most sun exposure is expected. The solar panels will be hidden from the street, and will hopefully generate enough power for the bank’s ATMs, heat and electricity, Tewksbury said. A climate-control system is also being installed to make the building even more energy efficient.
The new branch — the bank’s fifth in Walpole and Keene — will offer a convenient option for residents in the northern part of the Elm City, Tewksbury said. The hope is that it’ll provide relief from the congestion at the other branches, specifically on West Street in Keene on Thursday and Friday afternoons, and on Saturday mornings.
The post-and-beam building will be net-zero, meaning there will be no net energy consumption. It will measure approximately 1,800 square feet, which is about the size of a three-bedroom house, and it will be designed by Bensonwood, a Walpole company that specializes in sustainable custom buildings.
The idea to have a “green” bank branch evolved over time, according to Tewksbury. The initial plan was to create a New England-style branch, he said, but when he reached out to Bensonwood founder Ted Benson and they began planning, they realized a net-zero bank was possible.
Bank officials have received approval from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which they’d been waiting for since January, to build a new branch. After seeking a building permit, bank officials plan to start construction immediately, according to Tewksbury.
Commercial building projects require approval from the city’s planning board to make sure development standards have been adhered to, including the design of the building and the landscaping, Tewksbury said. Bank officials went before the board Monday, May 23, to get site approval, which they did, according to board member Pamela Russell Slack. The bank does not need any further approvals from the board.
“It’s a good project for that neighborhood,” Slack said this morning.
Tewksbury said he was pleased with the proposal’s reception by the planning board.
Nathaniel M. Stout, vice chairman of the planning board, called the proposal “quite exciting” and specifically touted the architecture. The complex will be aesthetically pleasing and will have an urban/agricultural style, Stout said.
Tewksbury said he hopes the new bank branch will be open late this year.
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