In recent years, Vermont energy policy has focused on reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. VGS regularly works with owners of buildings of all sizes to take advantage of the latest technology to reduce their carbon footprint. Several of these projects have been in the headlines recently, showcasing the ways VGS is partnering with businesses and large institutions to support their decarbonization goals.
In September, an innovative electric boiler project at Jay Peak Resort in Jay, Vermont was put online. Jay Peak had previously relied on propane to heat structures on its campus, including its Hotel Jay and Pump House Indoor Waterpark facilities. However, by integrating an electric boiler into its existing system, the resort is expected to recognize a 60% reduction in propane use. VGS provided financial resources to help fund the project as part of its efforts to understand how combustion and electric heating solutions can be paired together to support commercial and industrial energy users’ needs. Earlier in 2023, VGS launched a centrally ducted heat pump product, which deploys a similar concept to integrate a heat pump into a forced air furnace system via a smart thermostat.
What makes the Jay Peak project so exciting is its use of integrated controls, and an innovative software system from Medley Thermal that monitors the cost of electricity and propane, allowing the resort to utilize the most affordable energy source in real-time. In addition to saving money, the system will dramatically shrink the resort’s carbon footprint. All told, Jay Peak estimates the carbon savings are equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road annually. Scaling hybrid solutions for commercial and industrial applications is an important strategy to reduce emissions in large buildings in Vermont.
In addition to upgrading to more efficient heating systems, another tool available to large institutions is cleaner fuel sources, like renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG is created from the methane produced by organic materials in landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, and farms across North America. Recently, the University of Vermont made progress on a plan to become climate neutral by 2030. In October, UVM announced that the George D. Aiken Center was its first building on campus to reach this milestone. Part of the energy mix that made it possible was RNG provided by VGS’s voluntary RNG program.
At the announcement, UVM’s Director of Sustainability, Elizabeth Palchak, heralded the accomplishment noting, “[t]his was a collective effort that could not have been accomplished without Burlington Electric Department (BED), Vermont Gas Systems (VGS), our university engineers, and our students.” VGS is proud to support UVM’s efforts and is also partnering with the college to explore other technologies, such as geothermal solutions, for future use on campus.
These types of partnerships are critically important to making progress and reducing emissions. At the same time, providing large institutions with cost-effective solutions creates a range of options. As VGS works with large customers, there are many technologies that will serve to reduce emissions. These include hybrid systems, such as the Jay Peak electric boiler, alternative supply like the RNG used at UVM, and existing approaches like comprehensive weatherization and efficiency strategies. Looking to the future, VGS is exploring more options, including geothermal, district energy, and piloting green hydrogen solutions.