• Project strives for net-zero energy use
    By Bruce Edwards
    STAFF WRITER | July 25,2014
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    MIDDLEBURY — One of the key components in planning the $6.5 million town office and recreation center project is making both buildings net-zero energy users.

    That’s still the goal using a combination of renewable energy sources including solar, heat pumps and wood pellets.

    Plans are to heat the recreation center on Creek Road with a pellet boiler. But cost is also a concern for Nick Artim, chairman of the Town Offices and Recreation Facilities Steering Committee.

    “Again, I want to reinforce the importance of maintenance,” Artim, said at a recent meeting of the committee. “It has to be something we can take care of.”

    He said it makes no sense to install a system if the cost to maintain it outweighs the energy savings.

    Chris Hutson of Bread Loaf Corp., the project design firm, said their feasibility analysis will also include the source of the fuel and an estimate of the future cost of wood pellets and “how that compares with other available (heating) systems.”

    Committee member Victor Nuovo said the panel needs to keep in mind rapid changes in technology.

    “One of the concerns I would have, and we have had, is that we don’t want to find ourselves spending an awful lot of money on a system that’s going to be obsolete in 20 years,” Nuovo said. “And I think we need to be very careful in balancing all of these things for consideration.”

    Artim said quality and durability need to come first and it is important not to rush to install a new, unproven technology that may prove costly.

    There was no disagreement from Laura Asermily that quality should continue to be a priority.

    But Asermily said as the committee looks at heating systems, it’s important “to look at nonfossil-fuel heating systems.”

    She said biomass is an appropriate heating system for large buildings such as the recreation center.

    “There are a lot of buildings in our county and our state that we can be looking at now in terms of analyzing what works and what doesn’t work,” Asermily said.

    Before the recreation center is built, the existing American Legion hall on Creek Road will be torn down. Huston said before that takes place, an analysis will be done of any hazardous building materials.

    For the town office, Hutson said, the current plan is to heat the building using heat pumps. He said the building would be outfitted with motion sensors to save energy on lighting.

    He said Middlebury College is on schedule to relocate the Osborne House in the fall. Once relocated, the site will be the home to the new town office next to Ilsley Library. Huston briefed the committee on the layout of the building, which was done after conferring with the town office staff.

    Voters in March passed a $6.5 million bond for the town office and municipal recreation facility. The cost will be offset by the sale of the existing town office and adjacent gym property to Middlebury College for $4.5 million.

    The college will demolish the buildings and convert the space into a park to serve as a gateway to the campus.

    Construction is scheduled to begin in September.

    At its next meeting on Aug. 8, Bread Loaf will present a sample palette of suggested interior and exterior building materials and colors.

    The committee meeting can be viewed on Middlebury Community Television: middleburycommunitytv.org/Town0fcs071814.

    bruce.edwards @rutlandherald.com
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