North Country School Goes Green and Saves Money

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has helped a New York school invest in sustainable, green heating.

The school

Green TechnologyThe North Country School, in the heart of the Adirondack Park, has a long history of forward thinking. Environmental stewardship is central to the school’s mission, and they wanted to reduce their carbon footprint. They were burning almost 28,000 gallons of fuel oil every year to heat the school. They hoped new, green technology could help.

The project

The school, a not-for-profit institution, could not afford to upgrade. But the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant was for $246,413.

The school decided on a new 1.4MMBtuh wood chip boiler system, manufactured by a New York firm. Advanced Climate Technologies (ACT) uses their ACT Bioenergy system. It uses sustainable, renewable resources to create highly efficient energy. It burns biomass, like readily-available woodchips.

The numbers

The boiler technology is expected to achieve an efficiency of up to 85-95%. This means energy costs are reduced significantly: estimated at $38,970 every year. And it’s not just costs which are reduced. Carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 184 tons every year.

The numbers don’t lie. The school estimates the simple payback is just six years.

The environment

In addition to saving money, the new high efficiency wood boiler is much cleaner than oil or propane. Greenhouse gas emissions are far lower.

The old oil heater produced a lot of soot, visible for miles. But the emissions from the new boiler are almost like the emissions from a clothes dryer in winter. The ash is not spewed into the atmosphere, but is collected through centrifugal force.

The economy

The local economy is also helped by projects like this one.

New York is developing a high efficiency wood boiler industry. And with the equipment manufactured locally, and installed by local labor, the industry is growing. Harvesting fuel for the wood boilers is also a crucial part of the local economy.

Biomass heating systems depend on the availability of fuel. This fuel—wood–is harvested sustainably for use in the North Country School’s new heating system. This means there will be plentiful fuel and jobs in the future.

Biomass and tree growth has increased over the past ten years. Woods must be managed, and the harvested trees are made into fuel pellets and fuel chips. This, too, creates jobs. A properly managed forestry industry is one of the best sources of renewable energy—a truly green source of energy.

The North Country School has gone better than the 100-mile supply radius that’s the goal of most sustainable energy sources. They have a 100-meter supply radius!

ACT hopes that the new biomass boiler technology will encourage other schools to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Resources used in researching this article include NYSERDA’s How Much Wood Would a North Country School Chip


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