Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Kudos to Our Awesome Team

Helping Green Energy Times Save the Planet

Snow is an amazing insulating blanket on the Whitchurchs’ almost flat roof. Barb stands on the path where Greg removes snow from the panels and “stores” it upslope on the roof.

Over past issues, we have been looking at how the Green Energy Times team of workers and volunteers makes emissions reduction and energy savings a personal issue, doing their part to reduce pollution of all kinds and make our world a safer place where people can live healthy lives. Now, we come to the example set by Barb and Greg Whitchurch.

The Whitchurches should be well known to any regular reader of G.E.T. as writers who are especially knowledgeable about residential and commercial building and electric vehicles. Other things they do include volunteering by delivering G.E.T in the area of Vermont bounded by Morrisville, Warren, Northfield and Plainfield.

They built their high-performance main house in 2002. It is heated entirely with wood from their property, and no fossil fuels are used at all. The wood is burned in a masonry stove, a parlor stove, and a cookstove – where cooking is done eight months of the year. All three of these stoves are equipped to provide domestic hot water. They have a composting toilet, solar hot water panels on the roof, and no clothes dryer. An upgrade to the household system is in the works in the form of geothermal heating and cooling.

In 2014 they built a stand-alone addition to their main house (connected by a breezeway) for Greg’s elderly parents; it has won multiple efficiency awards. It is all-electric and complies with U.S. Passive House standards. Being so airtight and well-insulated, it uses less than $500 worth of electricity per year for all functions. It is also compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. It has an induction range, heat pump heating, cooling, ventilation,, and a condensing washer-dryer – although drying is done on lines almost exclusively.

The Whitchurchs use their Niro for the 110-mile round-trip to pick up 5,000 copies (~1,100 pounds) of G.E.T. each issue for distribution. (Photos: Greg Whitchurch)

Both units share a gray water waste filtration, have induction-convection and microwave ovens, and share a wood pellet BBQ grill. The main house has been upgraded with triple-pane Passive House Certified windows now. Plus, this January they finished their second upgrade to their original solar photovoltaic system with backup. They now have a Net Positive 16kW which covers their entire home, cars and all equipment.

The Whitchurches are working toward an ever more sustainable lifestyle. They compost food waste and recycle other waste. They use battery-powered tools for outdoor work, including a mower, whacker, tiller, snowblower and chain saws. They admit to using one gallon of gas per year for a wood chipper and log splitter, though they have those things on their list of tools to replace with new ones powered by electricity.

Their cars are electric vehicles fully powered by batteries. The cars use far more electricity than everything else, but still far cheaper than gasoline. In fact, the cars are equipped to provide electricity to the house, and a need to do that has happened. Barb and Greg Whitchurch even equipped the cars with tableware, straws, leftover containers, and shopping bags to cut down on waste. They gave up flying several years ago.

They have a garden to grow tomatoes, beans, and peas, but they intend to expand that list. This is part of goals to eat more sustainable foods and reduce use of plastic packaging as much as possible.

They volunteer in environmental proselytizing with sustainable energy groups, including serving as board members of Vermont Passive House ( and the town energy committee in Middlesex, Vermont. Their activities for G.E.T. fit in well with this.

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