Energy Committee recognizes local green businesses

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BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Energy Committee on Monday announced the three recipients of the 2012 Sustainable Business Awards -- the Marina Restaurant, the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust and, jointly, Carbon Harvest Energy and the Windham Solid Waste Management District.

"The Brattleboro Energy Committee is pleased to recognize businesses that are leading us toward a greener future by using innovative technologies and thoughtful design," stated Paul Cameron, town energy coordinator. "We can be proud that the Brattleboro area is becoming a hub of sustainable practices."

These awards, according to the committee, are given annually to Brattleboro-area businesses and nonprofits "making extraordinary efforts to reduce energy and water use, lower carbon emissions, use renewable fuels, reduce solid waste, promote local food production, and use recycled materials and other environmentally-friendly products."

After the original Marina Restaurant was destroyed by fire in 2010, the owners were "thinking green" during the rebuilding process. The new building is oriented to the south and west with large windows to collect the sun's warmth in the winter. The building was designed to give it a "chimney" effect, where the cool air off the river enters the building low through the large windows and then rises up through the building, exiting through a large cupola that creates a constant circulation of air throughout the building. In addition, all paint, floor finishes and stains in the restaurant are low in toxicity; decking, trimwork and siding are made from recycled materials; it is outfitted with "Energy Star" kitchen equipment and the owners make every effort to use local products and suppliers; the restaurant participates in "Project Cow" and uses a 4,000-gallon in-ground grease processing unit.

The Windham Solid Waste Management District hosts the country's first integrated renewable energy-to-agriculture and algae biodiesel project. Carbon Harvest Energy, LLC has restored the former landfill gas-to-energy project at the Brattleboro landfill, where up to 220kW of electricity is being generated and sent to the grid. A second, state-of-the-art combined heat and power plant will soon be installed on site to harvest heat from the engine and provide it to an adjacent greenhouse and aquaponics operation which will supply high quality fish and fresh vegetables to the Vermont Foodbank and other markets. The Brattleboro project also includes the installation of a demonstration-scale algae culture facility for growing, harvesting and processing microalgae to produce sustainable animal feed and biofuels. In the summer, when heat from the landfill gas-to-energy co-generators is not needed to heat the greenhouse, it will be used to dry algae grown on a 1-acre area located on the landfill face.

The Windham and Windsor Housing Trust has developed green specifications and energy conservation measures for its existing properties (which includes 81 units ) and new construction (which includes a further 17). Trust projects pay special attention to exterior insulation and air sealing, as well as efficient windows and doors. Green materials and building products which minimize global environmental impacts are used in construction, special effort is made to purchase local and native materials and products.

Made up of 10 residents, the Brattleboro Energy Committee assists Brattleboro residents, businesses and town government in reducing energy consumption and costs through conservation, increased energy efficiency and conversion to renewable energy sources.

The awards will be presented during the May 15 Brattleboro Selectboard meeting.

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