When Green Mountain College opened a new biomass plant in the spring of 2010, students began asking about the sustainability of the woodchip supply. College leaders immediately began looking for ways to supply the facility with a steady source of fuel that could be obtained locally. Partnering with the renowned Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF), College researchers are looked to answer this question: “Is there a viable market for sustainably harvested, locally sourced woodchips?”
The result of this inquiry is what has become known as the Poultney Woodshed Project. The HBRF is working with GMC to secure woodchips harvested from privately owned forestlands located close to Poultney. This project produces carbon savings resulting from lower transportation distances for woodchips and support for the local economy by engaging traditional stewards of the forest: landowners, foresters, loggers, chippers and truckers, and providing jobs for an industry negatively affected by the economic downturn.
The two organizations recruit private and public partners to work cooperatively to determine biomass harvesting protocols that are practical and acceptable to local landowners, foresters and loggers. This group determines if sustainable harvesting practices can be done cost effectively, and determines the amount of biomass that GMC can hope to purchase from local sources over time.