The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, has made an undeniably compelling case for biomass energy. By replacing its outdated oil-burning boiler with a squeaky clean wood-chip biomass burner in the Biomass Heating Facility, the boarding school has reduced its winter energy bill by $350,000 and slashed its carbon footprint between 35% and 45%. Not to mention: The organic, undulating living green roof ain't too shabby either. (And we are experts on gorgeous green roofs.)
Designed by Connecticut-based Centerbrook Architects, the biomass building combines contemporary design with a sustainable framework. While the wavy green roof may be visually stunning, it also has an important function. The soft slopes, combined with rain gardens, are designed to slow and filter rainwater before it enters the ground. From a far distance, the roofs appears to blend seamlessly with the surrounding rolling hills of the landscape.
Certainly much cleaner than burning oil, the new biomass incinerator combusts locally sourced wood chip from FSC-certified forests. According to the International Panel on Climate Change, appropriately sourced wood chip is effectively carbon neutral, because carbon lost to the atmosphere is reabsorbed by replacement trees. To make the building an even brighter shade of green, the biomass facility features water-saving faucets, local and recycled building materials, and energy-efficient lighting and ventilation.
Expected to be certified LEED Silver, the building is only the third power facility to achieve a LEED status in the US. Now that's what we call green.
Photos: David Sundberg/Esto