Biomass, Energy & Green Building
In addition to purchasing wind power to supply 34% of campus electrical demand, Hotchkiss built a state-of-the-art biomass central heating facility to replace an aging steam plant. Read reviews in our news section. Want to learn about the specifics of our biomass heating system? Here is a video that explains some technical details.
· The 16,500-square-foot building will house two Messersmith biomass boilers. The boilers will creating steam to heat the campus at a pressure of approximately 60 PSI. The low pressure allows for the fuel to be burned at a 80-82% efficiency rate. 5400 tons of woodchips will be burned by the school annually.
· Four truck bays will feed deliveries of wood chips into a 17,500-cubic-foot storage bin capable of supplying a week's worth of fuel. During the coldest months it is expected that two trucks daily will supply the facility. In spring and fall it'll be two trucks per week. In the summer months the facility will be shut down.
· Two barrels of ash will be generated weekly during peak operation. Emissions will be mostly steam, with some particulates below 0.03 microns. An electrostatic precipitator will remove 95% of particulate matter. The 48-foot chimney disperses emissions into the prevailing winds reducing ground-level impacts to almost zero.
· The roof, serpentine shaped, which will be planted with sedum to provide both aesthetic value, allowing the building to blend with the surroundings, and ecological value, by capturing more than half the storm water which falls on it and protecting nearby wetlands from the associated erosion and pollution.
· Inside the building, large curved beams made from laminated wood from certified forests will provide the aesthetic backdrop for the plant and support of the green roof at less cost than steel trusses.
Sustainable Fuel Source
· The heating facility will use bole chips from sustainably managed forests. Bole chips are created by feeding trunks and large branches to a chipper. The roots and tree tops, where 80% of the nutrients reside, will decompose in the forest. The chips' moisture content will be below 50% when burned in the two 300 HP boilers.
· Constructed wetlands, called bioswales and rain gardens, will enhance the currently degraded ecosystem at the site as part of the landscape design.
· By using locally sourced wood chips from sustainably managed forests, the Hotchkiss community will reduce its carbon footprint by 35-45%. Biomass will save the school a minimum of $522,000 per year. This assumes a $2.50/gal oil cost and represents a reduction of approximately 62% of the annual heating costs.