Tackling Efficiency at Yestermorrow

When I give tours of the Yestermorrow campus, frequently I end up telling folks we have many components of a high performance building. But one of the challenges of working to renovate and retrofit an existing building (originally a hotel built in 1960) in phases over time is that often you don't get a chance to look at the larger picture of the building as a whole. Every year we continue to work our way through an extensive punch list of deferred maintenance and improvements with the ultimate goal of improving the student experience here at Yestermorrow. But it's been a few years since we took a step back to look at the bigger picture.

Luckily, we have some amazing expertise right here in the Yestermorrow family. In September we had a visit from Donna Leban, a new member of the Yestermorrow faculty and a local lighting designer focused on energy efficiency in lighting. Through Efficiency Vermont's RELIGHT program which provides financial support to businesses interested in lighting retrofits, we were able to hire Donna to do a comprehensive lighting audit of Yestermorrow's main building and recommend potential upgrades including LEDs and controls.

Brad and Sayer set up the blower door

The next step was to bring in Brad Cook from Building Performance Services LLC in Waitsfield. Brad has been a long time friend of Yestermorrow, going back to when he was on staff at the school in the 1980s. He is BPI-certified to conduct energy audits and offered to donate a full audit of Yestermorrow's main building. A couple weeks ago he came by with his blower doors, infrared camera, combustion testing equipment to go through the whole building. Overall, we actually did better on the blower door test than we expected, coming out at 5,639 cfm-50 (cubic feet per minute at 50 Pascals). For an 10,000 square foot building that is decent for air tightness. However, we certainly found areas of potential improvement- failed windows, cracks around rough openings and in corners of sheetrock, and gaps in insulation between the foundation wall and first floor. Over the next couple of weeks we will work with Brad to put together a list of recommendations to improve the building envelope, and we're using a Kill-a-Watt meter to look at energy usage of specific appliances around the school.





Reviewing the blower door results via two different wifi enabled devices

Meanwhile we have also been looking at the bigger picture of the overall environmental impact of the organization. This summer we worked with a summer intern from the Community College of Vermont, Lisa Thacker, to update our Environmental Impact Report. We had published the first version of this report in 2011 with help from instructor Jim Newman of Linnean Solutions. Lisa and our staff went through the extensive process of reviewing data from 2012-2013 to update the metrics identified in the original report- including electricity, propane and water usage as well as local purchasing and occupancy. We will have the updated report up on our website by the end of the month.

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to look at the efficiency of the campus and ways to reduce our footprint!