This hands-on course covers the basic science of composting with various feedstocks optimized to produce large amounts of heat, using a simple but proven approach of embedding a heat-exchanger into a large mass of aerated saw-dust, wood-chips and/or bark-mulch. Course materials and system designs are based on the pioneering work of the non-profit network at and French inventor Jean Pain. Students will learn about the history of this concept of the "Jean Pain Method" and the early results of CompostPower's experiments in Vermont, while building a Compost-Power system that will be used to create steady base-load heat for domestic hot water, process heat, space-heating or greenhouse-heating depending on the host-site. An overview of HVAC-plumbing-integration or a field trip to an operating system will also be included.

Course start time: Saturday, 9am
Course end time: Sunday, 5pm




  • Competency Level: All Levels
  • Sterling College credits: 1 Continuing Education Unit ($130 additional)

Course Outline

Saturday 9:00 AM

  • Introductions, watch documentary films, review Jean Pain's Composting Book (handouts provided
  • Preview of the #s: how to calculate BTU-value and fossil fuel offset (worksheet on projector)
  • Arrive at job site, safety notes, review plumbing circulation system
  • Commence construction of the Pain Mound

Saturday 12:00 PM

  • Lunch with discussion

Saturday 1:00 PM

  • Regroup and continue construction

Saturday 5:00 PM

  • Break
  • Group Discussion of progress

Sunday 8:00 AM-9AM

  • Briefing, question/comments session
  • Continue construction

Sunday 12:00 PM

  • Lunch
  • Special Guest TBD

Sunday 1:00 PM-4pm

  • Finish construction

Sunday 5:00 PM

  • Regroup, question/answer/discussion session
  • Concluding discussion focusing on composting biomass as part of an integrated sustainable design system

Suggested Items to Bring

  • Gloves
  • Rubber Boots
Start Date: September 12, 2015
Duration: 2 Days
Tuition: $350
Wait List Registration