Heat by the numbers

Posted on Monday October 27, 2014

3,000 gallons of fuel oil. That’s how much it took to heat our Opportunity Farm dorms last year. This year, with the help of ReVision Energy and ReVision Heat, that number will be cut in half. Over the past few weeks, Lee Landry and his team from ReVision Heat have been working hard to install a new wood gasification boiler donated by Phil Coupe and his team at ReVision Energy.

Not only will this new boiler dramatically reduce our reliance upon oil and our heating costs, it ties squarely with our Green Initiative curriculum, in which students perform energy audits, learn to plant and harvest their own food, study global food and water rights, research alternative energies, learn to can and preserve their own produce and more.  Since the start of our Green Initiative in 2009, students have established school wide composting and recycling programs, developed a permaculture plan for our Camden campus, performed annual water rights relay races, baked their own daily bread, met with locavore chefs, joined local foods coops, bought community supported agriculture and fisheries shares, distributed their produce to local seniors, researched solar and wind power, canned their own pickles and jams, raised chickens and bees, tapped maple trees and much more.

Now, added to this list, they will be working on a wood management plan, stacking wood and feeding the boiler three times a day.

As Phil Coupe of ReVision Energy says, “The boiler will provide great learning opportunities for the Wayfinder students as they begin to understand the challenges of staying warm in northern climate. The boiler will use local renewable fuel from the 350-acre Wayfinder campus and the kids will participate in the wood harvest and storing, as well as fueling the boiler.”

Meanwhile, Lee Landry and his team at ReVision Heat donated many hours over the course of several Friday mornings to install the boiler. While demonstrating to staff how the new boiler works, Landry said, “just as it’s important for people to become more connected to their food sources, it’s important to be connected to your heat source as well.”

Landry, who co-founded ReVision Heat along with his father, Lee Landry, Sr., is extremely passionate about reducing our reliance upon oil, and the amount of time he and his team have donated to our school is impressive. Also impressive was the demonstration he provided in how the boiler works, using every ounce of available energy- and far more efficient than a traditional wood stove.

Coupe described it this way, “Wood gasification boilers are an efficient way to use Maine’s abundant forest resource because they re-combust the gases that are released by burning wood, reaching temperatures of roughly 1,200 degrees F and thereby extracting every molecule of solar energy stored in the wood fiber. This is a much cleaner way to burn wood compared to a wood stove or a conventional outdoor wood boiler. Wayfinder’s wood gasification boiler burns so cleanly that it lives indoors in the basement, where the old oil boiler used to be.”

Coupe also said, “We are so grateful for the critical, front line community service work they do at Wayfinder Schools by taking excellent care of some of Maine’s most vulnerable kids. I’ve been a Big Brother to disadvantaged children for the past 15 years, so I have an understanding of how important it is for these kids to enjoy the benefits of a stable, nurturing environment where they can learn and grow. ReVision Energy is proud to support the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of Wayfinder by donating a wood gasification boiler that will eliminate thousands of gallons of oil consumption and carbon pollution.”

We are so grateful for the support of ReVision Energy and ReVision Heat and we are pleased that Lee Landry will demonstrate the new burner on Thursday, October 30 at 5pm, as we kick off our Harvest Supper and Lantern Parade at Opportunity Farm.  Join us!

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