Craftsbury Academy Now a Model of Efficiency

By:  By Joespeh Gresser
The Chronicle

CRAFTSBURY COMMON- After he spoke at the Sterling College graduation this May, Senator Bernie Sanders got a private tour of Craftsbury Academy from Harry Miller, a member of the Craftsbury School Board. The senator was apparently impressed by the way in which the 140 year-old school building has been transformed into one of the most energy efficient schools in the state. So impressed that, on his return to Washington DC he told Darren Springer, his senior legislative assistant for energy and environment, to travel from Washington D.C., to check out the upgrades himself.

On Wednesday, June 1Mr. Miller, academy Principal Marry Greenia, and director of the buildings and grounds Dylan Laflam, were on hand to welcome Mr. Springer and Jelly Lucci, an outreach representative from Senator Sanders’ Burlington Office.

What the senator’s aides saw was a building that was transformed from a decrepit firetrap to a modern structure that meets of exceeds all applicable building codes. According to Mr. Laflam, who attributed to the quote to Mr. Miller, “Craftsbury has gone right from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first.”

A formerly drafty building is now tightly wrapped with enough insulation in its roof to earn it an R-100 rating. Even the windows are rated at R-7, Mr. Miller said.

The work was done without sacrificing the historic character of the structure. Where possible, details such as the hardwood ceilings on the second floor of the building were preserved. Other details, such as the original moldings, were replicated, though that required the creation of replica knives.

Old windows were preserved, although with new glazing and special shades that hold in hear. Mr. Miller said that the windows allow students to work with no artificial light on many days. “It doesn’t get more efficient than that,” he said.

As part of the modernizing of the school, precautions that once would not have been a  matter of concern are now put into place, such as the magnetic doors that allow the school to be locked down if danger threatens.

An ever present danger, that of fire, is addressed by the installation of a sprinkler system. Mr. Laflam pointed out.

All the systems that allow the building to operate efficiently are controlled by a single unit which can be monitored at the school, or by Mr. Laflam from his home in Greensboro Bend.

That’s made possible, in part, by installation of an Internet backbone wired with the latest fiber-optic cabling. CAT-6 cable, as it is called, allows data to travel at speeds 10,000 times faster than those normally found in office networks.

Mr. Miller and Mr, Laflam also proudly showed off the school’s new heating system fired by a new furnace that burns wood pellets at 90 percent efficiency. Mr. Laflam pulled out the ash drawer to show a small quantity of fine gray powder that represented most of what was burned over the winter. He said that $150,000 furnace consume 99.8 percent of the solid matter, leaving very little residue.

Mr. Springer said he was impressed that the presentation. He said that Sen. Sanders sent him to visit in order to see how similar improvements might be made in other schools in the state.

Mr. Miller said that Craftsbury has yet to receive certification of its high-efficiency status, but expects it to be forthcoming soon. When the school receives the document, it will be the oldest building in the US to perform at n elite level of energy efficiency, he said.

“We’re a part of history, but we’re making history,” Mr. Miller said.