Vermont’s state constitution is staying warm with wood heat

By Vermont Agency of Natural Resources | February 01, 2018

The bitter arctic cold snap that hit this month has many Vermonters thinking about keeping their homes and businesses warm with wood and pellet stoves, but did you know that the Vermont State Archives, home to the constitution, is also heated with wood?

Last fall the Department of Buildings and General Services replaced the aging boilers in the State Archives in Middlesex with two new automatic Froling wood pellet boilers. This heat plant will use regionally sourced pellets to provide heat to the building that houses vital records, including the State’s constitution. It is the first part of an efficiency overhaul at the archives. The new boilers will displace 180 metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, that’s equivalent to taking 38 cars off the road! The State will also save nearly $40,000 each year by switching from oil to pellets.

The project is one of many energy-saving initiatives implemented through the State Energy Management Program and made possible through a partnership between the BGS Energy Office and Efficiency Vermont. It was funded with a $78,000 grant from the Clean Energy Development Fund and through a unique energy revolving loan fund managed by the BGS Energy Office that uses savings from efficiency projects to repay the loans.

According to Peter Hooper, BGS electrical engineer and the project manager overseeing the Archives project, “Not only will this project save Vermonters over $1 million over its lifetime, it also represents Vermont’s energy future. This project directly aligns with the governor’s goals—it demonstrates the State’s action towards improving Vermont’s economy by creating demand for local wood energy and it improves affordability by reducing the operational cost of State government.”

Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan sets a goal of reaching 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. In Vermont’s cold climate, a third of our energy needs are thermal, but currently only 21 percent of that need is met with wood. Wood heat represents a local, sustainable, renewable way to heat our buildings and support our local economy.

Dave Frank of SunWood Biomass, Waitsfield, who installed the system said, “It’s another great example of our State’s commitment to the Comprehensive Energy Plan and the benefit to Vermont’s working lands economy.”

BGS has installed wood systems in other state buildings as well, including:

Pellets:
- Saint Albans Public Safety Police Barracks
- Middlesex Central Services
- Washington County Courthouse
- Hartford Welcome Center
- Westminster Public Safety Police Barracks

Chips:
- Addison County District Courthouse, Middlebury
-  Montpelier Capital Complex
- Waterbury Complex
- State Hospital, Berlin
- Newport State Office Building

Chunk Wood (Corrections):
- Northern State Correctional Facility
- Northeast Regional Correctional Facility
- Caledonia Community Work Camp

Renewables are undeniably a part of Vermont’s energy future—and in this building, they will also be working to preserve its past.