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Vermont-grown grasses are being used to heat the Biomass Building – a 4,200 square foot commercial building at Meach Cove Farms in Shelburne. Local residents, community leaders, and renewable energy enthusiasts are invited to visit Meach Cove Farms Friday, October 23 – Saturday, October 24 for an Open House to learn how grass pellets are generating heat in a biomass boiler – an emerging source of bioenergy in Vermont.

Meach Cove Farms is a 1,000-acre certified organic farm primarily growing soy beans, wheat, rye, and corn as well as wine grapes, woodlands, and switchgrass trial plots for use in grass energy production. The Open House will offer a complete demonstration of the Grass Pellet Heating Equipment Combustion Optimization project – the first project in New England to showcase grass test plots, densification equipment, and an EvoWorld biomass boiler that burns the grass.

Meach Cove Farms began collaborating with Dr. Sidney Bosworth of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative in 2009 to assess the potential of different species of grass as solid biofuel for heating applications.

In September 2011 Meach Cove Farms was awarded an USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant to research the feasibility of Vermont grown grass pellets and heating equipment potential as an emerging renewable energy source in Vermont. The biomass boiler being featured at the Open House was funded through a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Services.

IF YOU GO:

Meach Cove Farms is located at 310 Beach Road in Shelburne (off Bostwick Road, 1.6 miles west of Rte 7). The Open House runs from 9 am – 12 noon both Friday and Saturday, October 23-24. There is no cost and both days are open to the public. More info at www.meachcovefarms.org, 802-985-9218.

 

The Tnational bioenergy dayhird Annual National Bioenergy Day (NBD), which will take place Wednesday, October 21st, is a day that is marked with events from across the country that celebrates  energy independence, local jobs, and many other benefits of local bioenergy. Led by Biomass Power Association in partnership with U.S. Forest Service, National Bioenergy Day is an opportunity for Vermonters to showcase our research, progress, and impacts in producing local bioenergy for local use.

How To Get Involved:

  • Organize an event on or near October 21ndthat showcases bioenergy as a clean, efficient, and resourceful way to produce energy. Emphasizes bioenergy’s role in improving environmental health; and facilitates collaboration along the supply chain.
  • Partner with someone who works in the bioenergy supply chain to create an event.  Use the Vermont Energy Atlas to find partners in your area.
  • Piggyback on an existing event and call it a NBD event.
  • Share and talk about NBD in your social media and press efforts while promoting impacts in your community.

The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative, for example, will spend the day re-capping and previewing events and research on our Twitter handle @VTBioenergy that took place throughout the summer and that are planned for the fall.  We’ll be recapping and sharing exciting things like the exciting learning opportunities at the University of Vermont, Full Sun Company’s Biodiesel and Meal production, and much more!

For more information, you can visit also visit bioenergyday.com and follow @USAbiomass on twitter!

Click Here for National Bioenergy Day Participation Guide!

#vtclimateeconThe Summit on Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change brought together over 400 innovative business, non‐profit, and community leaders, elected officials, public policy advocates, students, and interested residents to begin to frame policy and investment strategies to advance the development of the Vermont Climate Economy. Summit participants developed a list of key practical actions to serve as a launching point for the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council (VCCEC), a group charged with a one year mission to develop a structured plan with practical actions to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate green economic development in Vermont. The Council will build a set of public/private strategies designed to promote economic opportunity, innovative business development, investment, and job creation in Vermont.

Over the course of 2015, VCCEC will evaluate findings, key ideas and suggested action steps derived from the Summit, lead regional public forums, evaluate and summarize research findings, interview key stakeholder groups, and consider model economic development strategies from other state and countries. During 2015, the group will develop a strategic platform of recommendations for action, and report to the Vermont legislature, the Governor of Vermont and the public in January 2016. The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) will provide support to their work and then help promote the platform of action that comes from its deliberants. Goals of the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council are to:

  • Identify opportunities created by climate change to strengthen Vermont’s economy through strategies advancing key business clusters and economic sectors.
  • Build an increased sense of unity in Vermont around policies to confront and mitigate the impact of climate change and to advance economic opportunities and solutions that respond to climate change.
  • Build a public information campaign to celebrate innovation and Vermont’s green business leadership; internally and externally marketing to build the Vermont brand as an economic/environmental problem solver.
  • Expand Vermont’s economic brand around climate change solutions to retain and attract youth and creative entrepreneurs to locate throughout the state.

Vermont businesses and nonprofits are addressing climate change – both its challenges and opportunities. Their creative solutions are a growing part of our state’s economy. What are your experiences? Do you have ideas about how Vermont can grow jobs and nurture innovative business development in sectors ranging from clean energy, to recycling, transportation systems, and thermal efficiency?

JoRegional_Forum_Flyer5_15_statewide[1]in the Vermont Council on Rural Development and local business leaders at a forum on “What’s Next for Vermont’s Climate Change Economy?” Forums will take place at 7:00pm at the Paramount in Rutland (Aug 26), the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro (Oct 6), and City Hall in Burlington (Oct 29). Come to the forum(s) most convenient for you.

These forums are the next step for public input to the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council, a group working to develop a practical plan to reduce carbon emissions and stimulate economic development in Vermont. To learn more about the forums and the Council visit VCRD’s website at vtrural.org, download the event flyer (pdf).

For more information about the results of the summit, Click HERE to read the report and follow the hashtag #VTClimateEconomy and Vermont Council on Rural Development on Twitter at @VTRuralDev for more updates!

 

Image courtesy of VT Farm  to Plate

Image courtesy of VT Farm to Plate

Farms open their doors to a public interested in learning more about where food comes from and supporting the local agricultural economy

Farmers across Vermont will throw open their barn doors and garden gates to welcome the public for a behind-the-scenes look at Vermont’s vibrant working landscape. Vermont’s first Open Farm Week will be held Monday, August 3 – Sunday, August 9, 2015.

Open Farm Week is a weeklong celebration of Vermont farms. Over 100 farms are participating, many of whom are not usually open to the public. Open Farm Week offers Vermonters and visitors alike educational opportunities to learn more about local food origins, authentic agritourism experiences, and the chance to build relationships with local farmers. Activities vary and may include milking cows and goats, harvesting vegetables, collecting eggs, tasting farm fresh food, scavenger hunts, hayrides, farm dinners, and live music.

Visit DigInVT for a map of participating farms by region. Many events are free and costs vary depending on what activities are offered. Everyone is invited to join the #VTOpenFarm conversations on social media. All participating farms, geographic location, and offerings are at www.DigInVT.com.

Farmers’ markets will also be a part of the Open Farm Week celebration as organizers planned the event to coincide with National Farmers’ Market Week – also the first week of August.

The first Vermont Buy Local Market on the Statehouse Lawn will be held during Open Farm Week on Tuesday, August 4th from 10am-1pm. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is organizing the first Statehouse farmers’ market in collaboration with the Capital City Farmers’ Market and NOFA-VT.

Building off of the success of NOFA-VT’s 2014 Open CSA Farm Day, Open Farm Week is a collaborative statewide agritourism project organized by members of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network including Intervale Center, Vermont Farm Tours, Neighboring Food Co-op Association, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Vermont Fresh Network, Vermont Department of Tourism, Shelburne Farms and Farm-based Education, NOFA-VT, and City Market. Open Farm Week helps Vermont reach its statewide Farm to Plate food system plan goals to increase farm profitability, local food availability, and consumption of Vermont food products.

Vermont Open Farm Week is made possible by the generous support of Premiere Sponsor: City Market/Onion River Coop as well as the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Localvore Today and Woodchuck Hard Cider.

 

celebrate_solar_logo

Vermont’s solar industry is lauding Governor Peter Shumlin’s proclamation of the third Saturday in June as “Celebrate Solar Day” in Vermont.

The solar proclamation, announced at the Whitcomb Farm in Essex, coincides with this June 20th, when solar projects in communities throughout Vermont will be open for public tours.  June 20 is the weekend of the Summer Solstice.

Like open sugarhouse weekend in the spring and open art studio weekend in the fall, the inaugural summertime tours will give Vermonters the opportunity to get an up-close view of solar systems to learn about the technology, solar economics, and the benefits of solar to our community.  Solar customers, host farmers, and owners will be on-hand to speak with the public.

More than 50 systems across all regions of the state will be participating in Celebrate Solar Tours and a map of open tours can be found here.  Many participating sites will host refreshments, music, or other entertainment.  Other planned solar events include community walking tours of residential solar installations, miniature golf, a self-guided bike tour, and on-site yoga.

The Governor’s proclamation notes that “solar energy represented 99% of new electrical capacity in the state in 2014 and more than 5,000 Vermont customers have installed solar” through Vermont’s net metering program.

Further, it cites that the Vermont clean energy industries employ over 15,000 Vermonters, with solar providing “a broad spectrum of employment opportunities, helping retain and attract Vermonters working in manufacturing, installation, and sales, among other careers.”

The Whitcomb family is host to a 2.2 Megawatt solar farm that provides energy for Vermont’s SPEED program.

Among the solar sites open to tour June 20: iconic and sweet Vermont attractions like Cold Hollow Cider and Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, high-tech attractions like Draker and Small Dog Electronics, agricultural farms like Champlain Orchards,  shared community solar arrays, and some of Vermont’s highest  producing solar farms.

At the announcement of the solar tours, Paul Brown, owner of Cold Hollow Cider in Waterbury Center, which has a 150kW system powering its operations, said of the event, “Folks know us and visit us for our cider and donuts.  But we are thrilled to open up the field behind our cidery to share the benefits of solar technology to our business and our community.  We’ll of course also be serving up some sweet treats for those who come by.”

About Celebrate Solar Tours – June 20celebrate_solar_logo_map

The first annual Celebrate Solar Tours on June 20 will feature public tours of more than 50 solar systems of varying size throughout the state.  The public will have the opportunity to get an up-close understanding of the technology, economics and benefits to the community.  Open systems will be designated with roadway signage and many will feature music, refreshments or other entertainment.

Contact:               Ansley Bloomer

                                [email protected] or 802-595-0723

Brighter VermontThe State of Vermont 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan calls for 90% of Vermont energy needs to be met through efficiency and renewable sources by 2050. As Vermont residents witness continued high numbers in clean energy jobs, and advanced renewable energy legislation they will also need to take responsibility for Vermont to meet these goals, as every Vermonter will need to contribute in some way for Vermont to meet this ambitious goal. Enter Brighter Vermont, an action oriented program of the Energy Action Network, to help everyday Vermonters rethink where their energy comes from, how they use it in their daily lives, and what they can do to help the state reach its 90% by 2050 goal.

The Brighter Vermont website is packed with testimonials and videos shared by individuals who describe the financial decisions they are making to positively affect the environment, Vermont’s economy, and their wallets. A family in Rutland reports on small home improvement they have made to keep out the Northeast cold out and share a video about lowering energy costs, with the help of Green Mountain Power, by properly weatherizing their home, changing to energy efficient LED bulbs, electing for a heat pump, and adding solar panels. The overall transition has made them a more energy conscious family and was achievable with a ten year loan the family is pleased to see being offset by reduction in energy costs.

A family in Burlington’s journey towards reducing their carbon footprint is documented in a fun testimonial video where the family picks out their first electric vehicle. They were able to replace one of their family vehicles with a zero emission Nissan Leaf (hyperlink to video) that was available with an affordable two year lease. The switch from a classic Vermont staple vehicle, a Subaru, to the Leaf, has helped the family not only save money at the gas pump, but the, as the family reports, electricity used to charge the vehicle comes from renewable energy. They enjoy educating their friends and neighbors about this carbon footprint transition.

Brighter Vermont also hosts ways for businesses, schools, and towns to become more efficient and promote renewables in their community. Methods for how schools and businesses have become more efficient by transitioning to modern wood heating. A featured video produced by VEIC (hyperlink) features 54 schools from across Vermont currently heating with wood chips and pellets which provides heat for nearly one third of k-12 students across Vermont. Our own Vermont Bioenergy Initiative Vermont on-farm energy videos are also featured for farmers to learn more about the emerging areas of oilseed, grass, and algae biofuel.

There is much that needs to be done in the fight against climate change and moving Vermont away from its reliance on fossil fuels. While this road can be daunting, it is important to remember that we can all make small changes that will benefit us, our community, and our state. And the Brighter Vermont website provides a fun and interactive platform for individuals, families, businesses, and institutions to learn how to contribute and share these efforts with others so Vermont can take steps towards meeting our renewable energy goals for our future.

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Make sure to check on the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative website for more national bioenergy events as we will be updating this list!

 

 

 

Vermontivate launches fun challenge for building hope and community sustainability

Narrow Green Banner (2)

Vermontivate, an on-line/real-world game, brings fun and creativity to the serious and important work of tackling climate change. Players from around the state will spend six weeks from March 23 – May 2, 2015 racking up points on a wide range of challenges ranging from installing energy efficient light bulbs and starting composting piles to establishing community solar CSAs, test driving electric vehicles, and inventing hybrid modes of transportation.

“Climate change is one of the most significant issues we face as a society,” says Vermontivate co-founder Kathryn Blume, “and most people don’t know what they can do to make a difference. Vermontivate is an entertaining, educational, and competitive way of taking meaningful action and building strong communities. Plus, we celebrate the end of the game with a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream party on the State House lawn in May. Climate action doesn’t get much better than that!”

From global warming newbies to well-educated sustainability mavens, people of all ages and experience levels are invited to play. People who don’t live in Vermont can also register to play on behalf of their favorite Vermont team.

The game, now in its fourth year, has kicked it up for 2015. Thanks to increased funding from a wide range of donors, foundations, and state agencies, they’ve built an entirely new website that looks like a quirky, old-fashioned board game. Challenges have been created to align with

Vermont’s highest-level climate goals, and are designed for maximum real world impact. The game will also feature a video contest, team challenges, and the chance to win a wide range of prizes including gift certificates from local restaurants and free pints of ice cream.

“There are a lot of great energy saving games out there,” says Blume, “but Vermontivate is one of the few gamification strategies that tackles full spectrum sustainability. The core challenges are around energy, transportation and food, but we also play with everything from waste reduction and water conservation to Gross National Happiness and the sharing economy.”

“We have something for everyone,” says game co-founder and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation consultant Nick Lange. “As we say to our players: Play Well, Do Good, Be Great!”

For more information and to get on the registration mailing list, visit vermontivate.com

 

Green Trainings at Vermont Technical CollegeVermont Technical College is committed to educating students as the workforce to support renewable energy systems and infrastructure development in Vermont. A number of technical “green trainings” are being offered in the coming months ranging from solar PV, solar hot water, waste water, OSHA standards, and wetland delineation.

Vermont Tech is offering introductory and advanced classes that serve as a great opportunity for individuals to enter the growing field of solar installation and for the existing workforce to advance their skill set. By successfully passing the NABCEP Entry Level exam, students at an introductory level will demonstrate the basic knowledge necessary to apply the fundamental application principles, design installation, and operation of grid-tied and stand-alone PV Systems. Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) recently approved this 40-hour training to qualify any individual for Provisional Partnership, regardless of their status of an electrical license.

For the more advanced PV installer, an upcoming one day course on April 15th will provide continuing education for the Electrical S license in solar technology. Taught by Dan Kiney, in compliance with the Vermont State Electrical Board, this class has been approved by the VT State Electrical Board for 8 S License Continuing Education Hours.

The 16 hour Introduction to Solar Hot Water being held May 2-3 has been approved for licensed plumbers by REV for Provisional Solar Hot Water Partnership and only requires a basic knowledge of electrical systems.

Additionally, a BPI Dual Certificate Training scheduled for June 1-5 will focus on the building sciences related to physics and control strategies for air, heat, and moisture and will prepare students to test for their Building Analyst and Envelope Professional Certifications.

Learn more about these and other Vermont Tech Continuing Education & Workforce Development Green Trainings.