Vermont state agencies are committed to an even more ambitious climate plan for our own operations than the plan set for Vermonters by the legislature. Between 2016 and 2030, we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 40% by both reducing the amount of energy used and purchasing at least 45% of our energy from renewable sources. Agencies are already creating those sources by installing solar panels on state buildings and replacing oil-burning heating systems with modern, clean wood-burning systems. The wood for these systems is sourced from forests managed in accordance with the Agency of Natural Resources’ voluntary harvesting guidelines.
We’re already making significant progress. Between 2011 and 2015, state government increased its usage of renewable energy by 12% and started using more wood than oil for heating. Below are a examples of how we’re leading by example.
Since 2013, VTrans has installed several solar panels on their garages across the state. Employees were trained to install the systems so that they could work on them during down time when they aren’t out on the road. The system on the garage in Orange will pay itself off in twelve years and save taxpayers over $45,000. VTrans is continuing to install panels on garages and in road right-of-ways.
Vermont’s hatcheries spend nearly $250,000 a year on electricity. Or at least, they used to. 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.
The Agency of Natural Resources is contracting 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.
After the State Office Complex in Waterbury was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) decided to save state government tens of thousands of dollars annually and model green building for other organizations by investing in an energy and climate smart complex. The historic buildings were air-sealed and insulated to hold in heat and air conditioning. The HVAC system is smart, shutting down heating and cooling to rooms where windows are open. Water faucets are low-flow, meaning less water to heat and the complex is heated by a highly efficient woodchip-fired boiler with backup propane, replacing the older oil heater. This was the last state government owned building using fuel oil. The new building at the complex has a flat roof, perfect for a 100kW solar system that was added to save on future electricity costs.