July 11, 2011
Five Vermont businesses and educators – all leading innovators in the sustainable energy movement – were recognized Monday by Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Vermont is leading the nation in terms of energy efficiency,” Sanders said. “We should be very proud of that, but also I want to focus on some of the breakthroughs we are making in sustainable energy. Each and every one of these projects is saving consumers substantial sums of money, cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions and creating local jobs.
Joining the senator at a press conference in Burlington were Jeanne Collins, superintendent of Burlington School District; Michel George, an associate vice president at Champlain College; Craig Giles, vice president of operations and global services for Northern Power; Harry Miller, a member of the Craftsbury Academy school board; and Frank DiMaggio, the vice president for IVEK Corp.
The press conference was held at the Lawrence Barnes Sustainability Academy, where a geothermal heating and cooling system already has reduced heating costs by 75 percent – saving more than $45,000 – in its first year of operation. Major renovation work including better insulation, windows, and lighting is expected to decrease energy consumption even more. The $240,000 investment in the geothermal system will be paid off in just over five years; and if energy prices continue to increase, the payoff will come even more quickly.
Champlain College and Craftsbury Academy were recognized for building renovations that have improved energy efficiency and lowered their heating fuel demands.
Craftsbury Academy has installed a high-efficiency wood pellet boiler which will save at least $450,000 over the next 15 years based on today’s oil prices. This means that the $150,000 boiler pays for itself in five years or less.
Champlain College completed renovations of Perry Hall in the summer of 2010, including the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system. When combined with extensive improvements in the building’s efficiency, they are saving 568 million BTUs per year, and have reduced annual carbon emissions by 44 tons. State and federal incentives, including a grant from the Clean Energy Development Fund have reduced the payoff to less than one year – meaning that the system has already paid for itself.
Vermont businesses that have led the way in sustainable energy include Northern Power and the IVEK Corp.
Following installation of a solar photovoltaic system at its facility in North Springfield last year, IVEK has produced 90 percent its annual electricity needs from solar power. The company that employs 60 people in Springfield installed a 200 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, which started generating power in the fall of 2010. The firm bought solar panels made in America, a Vermont company installed them, and the investment will pay off in 15 years, after which time they are generating savings on their energy bills for the life of the system.
Northern Power, a manufacturer of community-scale wind turbines based in Barre, VT , has reduced the state’s energy needs by installing turbines which generate energy at four Vermont businesses: the Bolton Ski Resort, Heritage Aviation in South Burlington, Vt., Dynapower in South Burlington, Vt., and the Rock of Ages Quarry in Graniteville, Vt.
“We’re making progress,” he added, “but we can do better. These projects should be a model for other schools, businesses and homeowners in the state.”