Vermont has very bold clean energy goals. Rapidly greening buildings, by making them more energy efficient, and more reliant on home-grown renewable energy, is an essential strategy for meeting those goals and showing that it can be done. As Vermont's third largest employer, the State of Vermont is committed to leading the way.
ANR is looking for ways to make its buildings more energy and climate smart. In the agency's five hatcheries, major energy improvements saved Vermont $75,000 on fuel bills in 2015 alone. That's enough energy to power all of Grand Isle’s homes for a year.
Clean Energy: A Powerful Climate Solution and Much More
Vermont’s 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan was the first energy plan in the United States to set a statewide renewable energy goal (getting 90% of energy from renewable sources by 2050). In 2016, the State released an updated energy plan, and the goals are even bolder. Vermont will strive to reduce energy use by 15% by 2025, increase the portion of its energy needs met with renewable sources to 25% by 2025, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
The energy consumed in non-industrial buildings (residential, commercial, schools etc.) makes up over 45% of our total energy consumed. We must make significant progress on buttoning up our buildings, and installing new renewable energy systems like solar arrays, wind turbines and modern wood heating.
Better buildings will yield long-lasting economic benefits. The cost of energy absorbed a growing share of Vermonters’ personal income in the last few decades, even though energy use increased very little, mostly as a result of increasing prices for the large amounts of fossil fuels they rely on for heating and transportation.
Fossil fuels are cheap now, but most economists believe rising prices will return soon. Buttoning up buildings and relying more on home grown renewable energy will keep our dollars in our own economy, and insulate the state from volatile global oil prices.
ANR’s Clean Energy Investments
ANR is looking for ways to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in its buildings. Employee offices are mostly in leased space, but the agency's many parks' visitor centers and fish hatcheries are ANR-owned buildings, and present a great opportunity to demonstrate clean, green facilities. We’re making progress!
Fish Hatchery Energy Efficiency
Vermont's five hatcheries grow two million healthy fish each year. To raise that many fish, you need a lot of power from electricity, propane and other sources. A new tank system at the Ed Weed hatchery recirculates heated water needed to grow fish, cutting back significantly on propane and energy use, and saving $60,000 a year.
A new high efficiency boiler at the Bald Hill hatchery in Newark, and new energy efficient lighting at other hatcheries are also reducing carbon emissions and saving taxpayer funds. Many more improvements are planned for the next five years.
Growing Fish on Sunlight
Despite their small size and efficiency, Vermont’s hatcheries spend nearly $250,000 a year on electricity. At the Bald Hill hatchery two rows of solar voltaic panels on land well out of the view of nearby properties are now producing enough solar energy to power the hatchery. The system will generate energy worth $160,000 over the 25-year lifetime of the panels.
Next up, ANR will use a new state contract with Vermont-based All Earth Renewables to build two new on-site solar projects at other hatcheries. These projects will offset all state hatchery electricity usage, and reduce bills by 10% without any upfront costs.
Energy Efficient Parks
Vermont Parks Forever is raising funds for many exciting projects in Vermont’s state parks, including energy improvements in the bath houses, nature centers and campground staff housings. These buildings are heavily visited, so ANR can use energy improvements to raise awareness among millions of visitors about the benefits of clean energy.
Many organizations are working full tilt to help Vermont homeowners and businesses make energy improvements in their buildings, keeping more money in their own pockets and supporting the state’s transition to a clean energy future. These organizations can help sort through and select the best opportunities that fit with your needs, and can help you connect to funding sources that often make the up front cost little or nothing.
Make Your Building(s) More Efficient. Efficiency Vermont provides a wide range of services to help homeowners and businesses reduce energy use, from one-time advice to guidance from the start to the end of projects. Many discounts and rebates are available to help with the cost, and EVT staff can help with the decisions. Get started today.
Advocate for Energy Improvements in Your Community. Brighter Vermont will soon release a Community Energy Dashboard that can help you find out what your community is doing to transition to renewable and comes more efficient.
Getting Power From the Sun and the Wind. Consider harnessing the power of the sun to power your home or business, by putting solar panels on your roof, or joining a Community Solar Array. The Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) has a new Community Solar Toolbox that can help you understand your options and learn about community solar success stories. Purchasing “Cow Power,” produced in methane digesters, or installing a new efficient , modern wood heating system can also increase your use of renewable energy. The new Vermont Renewable Energy Business Listing can help you learn about many businesses that offer renewable energy technologies.