Farm & Wilderness summer camps have a long history of environmental sustainability, for years the camps have composted food scraps and only a few flush toilets for the 800 staff and campers, instead relying on outhouses or what F&W folks call “Kybos”. The humanure is composted and spread on a non-food crop field saving F&W an estimated 1 million gallons of water annually and the thermophilic composting process sequesters much of the carbon at the same time. F&W, as far as we know, is one of the only organizations to do this on such a large scale. Permission for this is granted under a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Permit.
In 2009, we started gathering data for our first Greenhouse Gas Audit and began developing strategies to reduce our carbon footprint. We had energy audits performed on our year-round use buildings. After reducing the heat loads we began incorporating new technologies, such as LED lighting, high-efficiency appliances, brushless motors, and building heating controls to reduce consumption.
It was once common to see diesel pickup trucks driving the roads, however, we started using electric golf carts in 2010. The culmination of these strategies has reduced F&W’s carbon emissions by 31% as of 2016, and more significantly, due to an increase in campers and staff, over 42% per capita.
In 2014, the TF boiler plant was constructed. The F&W main campus is on a 600-acre parcel and consequently, there are a significant number of dying or “hazard trees” on the property. These trees along with construction waste are used to generate heat and hot water for the Tamarack Farmhouse.
In 2015, we received a grant from Green Mountain Power (GMP) to install solar panels on the Tamarack Farmhouse roof, producing over 18,000 kWhrs annually, more than the building uses.
In 2017, a solar array was constructed behind the Sustainable Resources Building providing the additional 80,000 kWhrs F&W uses annually.
Looking ahead we are excited to continue our partnership with Efficiency Vermont and GMP. We have participated in two pilot programs, one testing heat pumps to reduce loads on the grid and the other using batteries to flatten electrical “peak demand”. This battery also serves as the backup at our dairy plant in the event of a power outage.
For more information check out our Resource blog, recycling a truck or get the details of our GHG audit in the annual report.