With a target to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2016, Middlebury College in Vermont has taken a major first step in that direction with the completion of a $12 million dollar biomass boiler and plant. Bill McKibben, whose organization 350.org is playing a major role in calling for a fair global climate treaty, participated in the opening ceremonies and gave a lecture on the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions/
At optimal capacity, which the plant is expected to reach over the next month, the facility will consume about three tons of wood chips an hour and meet about half the campus’s heating, cooling and hot-water needs. The other half will still be supplied by boilers that burn No. 6 fuel oil, but the overall campus use of such oil will be cut in half, from 2 million gallons a year to 1 million. As a result, the college’s carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced about 40 percent, or 12,500 metric tons a year.
Middlebury College is working to develop its own supply and wood chips on its surrounding property and also investigating the potential of geothermal energy for further reducing carbon emissions. More details are available in this article, orginally published in the Burlington Free Press.