Notes from the Cube: Is Biomass a Viable Fuel Source?

At last Friday’s “Dessert in the Cube”, Mark Herter, one of our sustainable building experts, discussed the future of biomass as a renewable thermal energy source. Mark has addressed several industry groups on the topic, including the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Biomass Heat and Power Conference.

Mark described the pros and cons of wood chips and pellets as an energy source. The public often has the impression that wood fuel is not sensible given the environmental impact of harvesting, emissions from combustion, ready access to forestland, and the special equipment required. This has slowed acceptance of the industry.

However, when harvested using sustainable forest management, and if near to a fuel source, biomass energy can be an economically and environmentally viable alternative to fossil fuels. Mark demonstrated this in Centerbrook’s Biomass Heating Plant at The Hotchkiss School, whose wood chips displace more than 150,000 gallons of fuel oil annually. With its advanced electrostatic precipitator removing nearly all particulates from the combustion, it cuts sulphur dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent and provides fertilizer for the school’s organic farm.

We never overlook a sustainable option here at Centerbrook.