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Local Forests Are Helping to Reduce Carbon Footprint for One New England College

The biomass heating facility at Bennington College
The biomass heating facility at Bennington College in Vermont.

Our woodland owning clients sometimes like to know where their wood is going and what it’s going to be used for after a harvest.  So today we’re telling the story of the not-so-lowly wood chip, and how it’s keeping New Englanders warm in winter.

When we at Hull Forest Products buy your timber and saw those logs at our mill, nothing is wasted. Bark is peeled off and turned into landscaping mulch. Sawdust is recycled in our biomass-powered dry kilns and also sold to wood pellet manufacturers. Slabs, edgings, and trimmings are ground into wood chips, a versatile product with uses ranging from paper production to playground surfacing to biomass heating.

One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil.

Hull Forest Products supplies mill quality as well as whole tree wood chips to New England institutions that utilize biomass heating, including Ponagansett Middle and High Schools in Rhode Island, Mt. Wachusett Community College and the Quabbin Reservoir Visitor Center in  Massachusetts, and Bennington College in Vermont.

Since its biomass heating system came online in 2008, Bennington College has reduced its annual emissions by 40 percent. The school used to burn 400,000 gallons of oil to heat the campus through the Vermont winter; now they use less than 10,000.  Bennington is committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2020, and currently their biggest liability is the 15 percent of the campus not connected to their biomass system. They are now working to extend their steam lines to all areas of the campus.

One ton of wood chips has the energy equivalent of approximately 60 gallons of heating oil, but unlike oil, wood chips are a renewable (and local) source of energy. Bennington College uses approximately 6,000 tons of wood chips each year. These chips come from trees grown in family owned working forests, and their use helps promote a healthy market for local wood.

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Supplying Wood Chips for Public School Renewable Energy Initiative

September 2008- Hull Forest Products To Supply Wood Chips for Rhode Island Public School Energy Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $984,000 grant to Ponaganset High School in Rhode Island to develop an alternative energy laboratory and install a wood-chip fired heating system. The D.O.E. grant also includes funds for the installation of a solar panel and wind tower at the school and a hydrogen fuel-cell technology for student projects. Central to the project are biomass boilers that will heat both the Ponaganset high school and middle school for one-fourth the cost of conventional oil. Hull Forest Products, Inc. of Pomfret, Connecticut, was chosen to supply wood chips for the boilers and is proud to be part of a project that provides students first-hand experience with alternative energy.

Ponaganset High will play a “pioneering” role in energy eduation, says Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Generations of students here can learn about alternative energy and prepare themselves for a world where alternative energy will be central to our success as an economy. It’s a very exciting moment when you can see practical progress –– lowering the cost of energy for a school system — and also see the education of young people who can take this knowledge forward to the next generation.”