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Vermont Family Forests
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Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community

Middlebury College Biomass Project

View Biomass Fuel Assessment Report

Looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and meet more of its energy needs locally, Middlebury College hired VFF to conduct a study to assess the potential for regional forests to sustainably supply biomass (namely woodchips and logs) to fuel the College’s heating plant. The VFF research team members, including team leader and ecologist Marc Lapin, Mel Gullikson, Deb Brighton, David Brynn, Lee Perlow, and Netaka White, launched the study in mid-November, submitted a draft on New Year’s Eve and a final report on January 31, 2004.

The College currently uses 2 million gallons of #6 diesel fuel oil annually. The Biomass Study assessed the availability of 30,000 green tons of biomass from Addison and Rutland Counties to replace that fuel oil consumption, a move that would reduce the College’s carbon emissions by about 50 million pounds per year. Since its involvement with the then-fledgling VFF organization in 1998, when we provided 95,000 board feet of green-certified lumber for construction of Bicentennial Hall, Middlebury College has demonstrated its concern and support for local, sustainably managed forests and the regional economy.

The College plans to make the Biomass report available to the public in the near future through a link on their website, and we encourage you to take a look at it.

A Burning Question

How can burning wood instead of fuel oil reduce carbon emissions? Trees capture and store carbon during photosynthesis, a process known as carbon sequestration. Although the carbon is released when the wood is burned, if wood is harvested and burned at the rate it grows in the forest, there are no net carbon emissions. Burning a gallon of diesel fuel releases 24.7 - 26 pounds of carbon dioxide.