To minimize energy needed for air conditioning, only essential spaces (The Orchard and two offices) are cooled using a geothermal exchange system. Cold water from an underground well cools a fluid that circulates through the building cooling the air for these three rooms. This process minimizes electricity use and decreases greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional air conditioning.
This building uses 47% less energy than a standard building of the same size. CFC-free insulating foam (icynene), energy efficient windows (double glazed, low-E coating, argon-filled), and airlocks ensure that the building envelope is extremely tight and energy efficient. Additional efficiency features include appliances that use less energy like the “on demand” hot water system and an Energy Star refrigerator.
Beyond energy conservation, much of the energy that the building does use comes from the solar panels on the roof. The installation consists of 38 panels and can produce a maximum of 8.5 kilowatts (225 watts per panel). These panels were made by SunPower, a large solar company headquartered in San Jose, California with other offices all over the world. The photovoltaic cells absorb solar radiation from the sun and convert it into electricity for the building. With the installation of photovoltaic solar panels, the Environmental Center is able to reduce its C02 emissions, reduce long-term energy costs, and exemplify using renewable resources.
Middlebury College sourced numerous materials locally within the state of Vermont.
- Slate for floors and roofs that came from the Poultney area
- Stone for the foundation and stone walls from nearby Panton
- Granite from Barre
- Limestone from Isle LaMotte
- Forest Stewardship Council certified hardwood trim and flooring from College-owned forests.
Vermont furniture makers were commissioned to construct office desks, chairs, tables and study carrels made from local wood, which in most cases was also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
- Chairs by Cotswold, located in Whiting
- Tables and desks with surfaces made from sunflower husks by Neudorfer, from Waterbury
- Cabinets from Business Interiors in Burlington
- Sofas from Pompanoosuc Mills in East Thetford