Bennington College recognized for sustainability

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BENNINGTON — Bennington College has been honored with two awards for their efforts toward making the campus more energy efficient.

A group from the college accepted an Energy Leadership Award at Efficiency Vermont's sixth annual Best Practices Exchange at Killington Grand Resort Hotel earlier this week. The college's Project Manager for Building and Grounds, Holly Andersen, was then individually honored with the Energy Champion Award.

The group from Bennington that received the award was made up of Anderson, Andy Schlatter, associate vice president for facilities management and planning, Todd Siclari, systems manager, and Dane Whitman, Kilpatrick Fellow for Buildings and Grounds.

Andersen said the college has, over the last several years, completed 26 projects geared towards improving energy efficiency, including installing low-flow showerheads in the dorms, and equipping the Center for the Advancement of Public Action with LED lights and a geothermal heating and cooling system. This June, the college began the largest renovation project in its history, the restoration of the 1932 Commons building, a project that will include new, energy efficient windows, hot water and heat pumps, and LED lights. That project is scheduled to be completed in 2019.

The college is also working on two efficiency projects this fall — installing LEDs in the building and grounds office and improving the ventilation in the Visual and Performing Arts building.

"Every year for the last eight years, which coincides with Holly's time here, we've consistently engaged in projects with Efficiency Vermont. They've been a great partner in that way," said Schlatter, who praised the organization's flexibility in helping the college achieve its goals while also keeping in mind the unique challenges and limitations faced by a college. "They gave us an award, but I wish we could give them one back."

Compared to eight years ago, said Andersen, the college is now saving $320,000 annually on energy costs annually. "That's money we would have spent on electricity that we can now spend on other projects and priorities--for a small college with limited resources, that's a big return," she said. The college has also saved a total of 1,167 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere during that time period.

Andersen said that while the other winners knew that they had been chosen beforehand, her own award came as a surprise. Cathy Reynolds, Account Manager at Efficiency Vermont, announced that there was a final, secret award. As she began to describe the recipient, Andersen realized Reynolds was talking about her. "They singled me out because of how much I really love coming to work every day, I really love the people I work with, and I really love doing this job," she said, "I also hound Cathy for as much money as I can get!"

"This is a very special place," said Andersen about Bennington College, "and I'm happy to be here."

Bennington was one of three Vermont businesses to receive the Energy Leadership Award, the other two being Isovolta, Inc. of Rutland and Killington Pico Ski Resort of Killington. Recognized with Project of the Year Awards were Harbour Industries of Shelburne, Bromley Mountain Ski Resort of Peru, and Imerys Talc of Ludlow. Vermont Precision Tools of Swanton received the Committment Award, Harpoon Brewery of Windsor received the Employee Engagement Award, and VHV Company of Winooski Award received the Partner of the Year Award.

Karen Glitman, director of Efficiency Vermont, challenged those in attendance to do even more than they already have to reduce carbon emissions. "We're here to celebrate the 10,000 people throughout Vermont that comprise the energy efficiency workforce — a number that far surpasses any other energy sector in our state, including power generation and motor vehicles combined," she said. "But we're also here to address how we can, as a state, decrease the costs and carbon emissions that come from our transportation energy use. What if we, together, could do more?"

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB

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