New Roadmap Shows Path & Benefits to  Increase Renewable, Local Wood Heating in Vermont

Goddard College Progresses Carbon Neutral Plan
with Woodchip District Heating Plant

PLAINFIELD, VT – At a gathering to celebrate Goddard College’s new woodchip district heating plant, the Biomass Energy Research Center (BERC) and Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), released a report, Expanded Use of Wood Heating in Vermont. With Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan to meet 90% of the state’s energy needs through renewables, advancing wood heating is a critical part of meeting our climate commitments.  The report offers a roadmap to reach 35% of Vermont’s heating demands with wood heating by 2030.

“The goal of 35% was set because that is the level that can be sustainably supported by Vermont’s own forests,” said Adam Sherman from BERC, “but we felt we needed a clearer picture of what that meant. Just how many stoves and how many boilers will have to be installed to reach this goal?”

To reach the 35% target, by 2030, Vermont needs to:

  • Install 38,905 more wood pellet stoves (or about 30% of all single family homes);
  • Install 10,519 more bulk pellet fueled boilers (or about 16% of all single family homes with centralized hydronic heat distribution networks);
  • Install 2,574 more pellet boilers in small commercial buildings (or about 6% of that market segment); and
  • Install 221 more woodchip boilers in larger commercial/institutional buildings and district heating plants (or about 4% of that market segment).

“We know for a fact that Vermonters save money when they switch to wood from fossil fuels,” said REV Assistant Director, Ansley Bloomer.  “Following the first roadmap earlier this year, the legislature exempted automated wood boilers from sales and use taxes, and up to $7,000 in rebates are available for homeowners, and funding for commercial sized projects.  73% of Vermont’s buildings are heated with oil or gas; thanks to convenient automated wood heating solutions, we can do better for our local economy and our climate.”

A coalition of nonprofits, local business, and state agencies developed the second roadmap to help lower energy costs, boost Vermont’s economy, sustain forestlands, and reduce carbon pollution.

Spreading the word about the options for advanced wood heating was one of the main motivators for hosting a training attended by 30+ architects and builders at Goddard College. “Architects and builders should feel confident suggesting automated wood heat to their clients and understand what that could like in a project,” said Emma Hanson, Wood Energy Coordinator at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. “So many Vermonters would love to opt out of oil and heat local, but they just don’t know that wood heat at touch of a thermostat is an option.”

To read the complete roadmap report visit: www.revermont.org

For information on all current available incentives and rebates visit: www.fpr.gov/incentives.

Wednesday also marked the formal opening of the new wood chip district boiler plant at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. The wood chip system will heat the entire campus through a system of insulated pipes that carry hot water underground from the plant to each of Goddard’s 22 buildings. The wood chips will come from within a 30-mile radius of the college as a byproduct of the forestry industry.

Goddard College calculates that this project will reduce their carbon footprint from heating due to the use of local advanced wood heating.  The college aims to become carbon neutral in fuels burned on campus and electricity usage by 2020.

Many Vermonters have long turned to local wood as a fuel source of choice to heart their homes and businesses, and now improved automated wood heating systems are available.  Advanced wood heating solutions incorporate four key characteristics:

  • Highly efficient combustion technology;
  • Negligible emissions;
  • Support of healthy forest ecosystems and sustainable forest management;
  • Use of local wood.

Meeting the 35% target by 2030 would:

  • Reduce Vermonter’s consumption of heating oil and propane by over 60%;
  • Replace or add another 900,000 green tons of annual local market demand for low-grade wood to help sustain Vermont’s forested working landscape;
  • Avoid $112 million in annual energy expenditures exported from the Vermont economy;
  • Avoid 350,000 tons of net greenhouse gas emissions annually.

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