Yestermorrow is on a multi-year program to upgrade the energy efficiency of its campus.
Since its founding in 1980, Yestermorrow has been committed to helping professionals and homeowners learn how to design and build using the best techniques from yesterday combined with the most promising technologies of tomorrow. As a result, Yestermorrow continues to strive to incorporate sustainable and "green" construction techniques into its campus and curriculum offerings.
Yestermorrow bought the former Alpen Inn property in Waitsfield in 1990, and since then has been transforming the 38-acre campus into a showcase of demonstration projects and adaptive reuse. The main focus of this effort has been the rehabilitation of the former Inn building, which had fallen into disrepair during the 1980s. A team of Yestermorrow faculty and Board members worked together to create a Master Plan for the campus and to plan the renovations to the building. Bill Maclay of Maclay Architects in Waitsfield took the lead in creating a new design for the building that would allow the School to grow in phases as funding allowed. Maclay used the Hannover Principles (published by William McDonough in 1992) as a jumping off point for the sustainable design of the main School building. A large three-story wing of the former Inn was deconstructed due to its deteriorated condition, and as many of the materials were salvaged as possible.
Phase 1 of the renovation (1998-2000) involved converting the south end of the building into offices, a conference room, bathroom, studio and woodshop. "Green" features of Phase 1 included:
New siding was installed with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified Eastern White Cedar shingles harvested in Maine (Maibec).
A monitor was installed running North-South along the ridge of the roof to allow natural ventilation in the summer and to provide daylight to the interior of the building.
New AccurateDorwin windows and doors were installed which feature triple glazing and an insulated fiberglass frame.
An exterior porch entry was built using Trex, a recycled plastic lumber decking product made from recycled milk bottles and wood waste.
In the bathroom, the floor was tiled with tiles made of recycled auto windshield glass and the stall dividers are made of recycled plastic.
Throughout the building, super-efficient T8 florescent fixtures were installed for lighting.
A high-efficiency natural gas furnace made by Weil-McLain (AFUE 87.0) powers hydronic baseboard heat throughout the building as well as domestic hot water.
Air quality was addressed by installing active ventilation in the south end of the building, which is connected to an air-to-air heat exchanger which preheats the fresh air coming into the building using exhaust air. The woodshop also features a sophisticated dust collection system which is tied into the various power tools in the shop.
The fenestration on the south end of the building was designed to maximize solar gain, and interior glass partitions help bring light into the interior of the building.
A standing-seam metal roof was installed, which uses a high percentage of recycled steel.
Exterior walls were built out using a secondary interior wall framed with metal studs (also with high recycled content) and filled with blown-in cellulose (shredded newspaper mixed with borate for fire protection) for a super-insulated building envelope.
Phase 2 of the building’s renovation (Fall 2002) included the transformation of the ground floor’s north end into five dormitory rooms, bathrooms, and laundry. The former North Studio on the first floor was also transformed into a kitchen and student lounge. Sustainable features include:
- Each bedroom was designed to maximize natural light and ventilation with both exterior and interior doors and operable triple-glazed windows from AccurateDorwin.
- EnergyStar water-conserving front-loading washing machines were installed in the laundry.
- Compact florescent and T-8 fixtures were installed for lighting.
- Water-conserving fixtures were installed in the bathroom showers.
- Beds for each of the dorm rooms were built on-site using local lumber.
Phase 3 of the renovation (2003-2004) has addressed most of the remaining sections of the building— insulating, sheetrocking and painting the Main Studio space, finishing out the ground floor storage and work area, and weatherizing trimming and shingling the west exterior façade. Sustainable features include:
- Tight-pack cellulose insulation was blown into the walls.
- Soy-based foam was used to insulate the ceiling of the Main Studio.
- FSC-certified shingles were used to clad the West Wall.
- Salvaged/recycled fir lumber was used to build the new library shelves in the Main Studio.
Recent improvements (2005-2009) have included:
- Natural paints and finishes including clay paints, casein paints, lime plaster, clay plaster and alise were used to finish interior spaces.
- Installation of commerical kitchen equipment for our meal program, including an EnergyStar-rated commerical refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher.
- A portable solar photovoltaic trailer and battery bank was built to provide job site power for classes both on- and off-campus.
- An Energy Recovery Ventilation system was installed in the dormitory to increase fresh air to the bedrooms and reduce humidity.
In 2010, Yestermorrow installed two new renewable energy projects:
A 28kW photovoltaic installation in the field next to Route 100 includes seven All Sun Trackers, which produce 4kW each of electricity, estimated to produce 90% of Yestermorrow's electricity needs over the course of a year. The AllSun Tracker is a complete grid-connected solar electric PV system developed by AllEarth Renewables, based in Williston, VT. Solar trackers are solar electric systems consisting of photovoltaic panels mounted on poles installed in the ground. Solar trackers are designed to move with the sun as it crosses the sky, keeping the solar panels at a perpendicular angle to the sun's rays. This maximizes the amount of light reaching the panels, which in turn maximizes the amount of energy they generate. The AllSun Tracker uses a motor and GPS (Global Positioning System) to precisely position the solar panels into the sun every minute of the day.
- Yestermorrow and groSolar recently completed the installation of a solar hot water system on the roof of the school's main building. The system provides hot water for use in the kitchen, showers, and sinks for the School, providing an average of 150 gallons per day of hot water, with a storage capacity of 240 gallons. The panels are estimated to produce 100,000 BTUs per day, saving more than 400 gallons of propane per year and reducing Yestermorrow's fossil fuel use by approximately ten percent. For more information, visit our solar hot water page.
Other campus demonstration projects include:
- The Strawbale Cabin: A kneewall of strawbales sits on top of a platform supported by 4 concrete footings. Above the strawbale walls, window screen provides an open feeling to this summer cabin, which is sheltered by a corrugated metal roof with large overhang to prevent water runoff from splashing back onto the bale walls. The walls are finished with a combination of cement-based (1st and 2nd layers) and earthen plaster (3rd layer) with a limewash topcoat.
- The Trilithon: This welcoming entrance to the camping area was built with wood, strawbales, and covered with a living roof, planted with ferns, mosses, and other shade-loving plants. The strawbale walls are covered with cement-based and lime plasters.
- The Pine Cabin: This cabin was built over five years by Carpentry for Women classes using locally harvested and milled pine lumber and salvaged windows.
- The Chalet: This house is home to Yestermorrow's interns and has served as an ongoing renovation project for both classes and interns. In 2005 the lower level (formerly a garage) was converted into additional living space with a humanure composting toilet. Most recently the ancient furnace was replaced with two high efficiency gas direct-vent wall heaters to reduce fuel consumption and the two large refrigerators were replaced with one small one. We have also been working on a plan for weatherization and energy retrofitting.
- The Batch Solar Hot Water Heater: This passively heated water storage tank was built by interns and volunteers. Water flows into the insulated “breadbox” style heater from a pipe which flows from a spring up the hill. Within the tank, which is painted matte black, and is surrounded by rigid foil-backed insulation and a glass front facing due south, the water temperature can rise to over 150° F. From the tank, water flows into the solar shower, which was built from a kit and customized by Yestermorrow interns.
- The Mouldering Toilet: This is a low-maintenance type of composting toilet designed for northern climates. The toilet features two lined bins built of concrete block. The toilet is designed with two holes/seats (one for each bin) but only one side is to be used at a time. Once one bin has filled with waste, you switch the seat to the other side, allowing the first bin to settle and decompose for a few years before emptying the finished compost through a hatch in the back of the bin. We use our sawdust waste from the woodshop as a solid to mix in with the human waste and soak up liquid. The toilet was built as a class project in a 2000 Home Design/Build class.
- The Timberframe Cabin: This small 10’x12’ timberframe cabin was designed by instructor Josh Jackson and cut and raised in the spring of 2002 by one of our timberframing classes. The frame features hand-planed, locally harvested hemlock and pine, with curved yellow birch braces harvested from the Yestermorrow property. The walls are strawbale infill with framing above insulated with dense-pack cellulose. All the plasters on this strawbale project are lime and clay. The roof is covered with slate shingles which were salvaged off old barns in southern Vermont. Much of the exterior siding and interior paneling is wood harvested off the Yestermorrow campus. The cabin is fully insulated and heated with a small woodstove in winter (but no power or running water).
- The Tree House: This prototype treehouse was built by Yestermorrow classes, staff, interns and volunteers as part of the Forever Young Treehouse project, which was created to provide kids in wheelchairs with the opportunity to experience the feeling of being in a treehouse. John Connell, Yestermorrow founder and instructor, designed the structure to blend into the forest, with no straight edges. The structure is secured to three large white pine trees using through bolts and cables, and is built entirely with wood except for the decking of the handicapped-accessible ramp, which is Trex, a recycled plastic lumber product. The ramp railing is made of eastern white cedar and features re-used fencing material from the campus tennis courts.
- The Earth Oven: This earthen oven was built in a weekend workshop led by instructor Ben Graham, using stone, firebrick and cob (a mixture of sand, clay, straw and water). The oven is covered with a living roof, seeded with grasses, to protect the oven from the weather. We fire the oven with wood scraps from the woodshop, and use it to cook pizzas and bread in the summer.
- The Cob Garden Wall: This cob wall was built by a week-long class in the summer of 2004 using local stone for the foundation, clay harvested from a local clay deposit in Waitsfield, straw and sand. The wall defines a shaded outdoor classroom area and firepit.
- The Garden Shed: This open shed incorporates elements of earthbag construction (on a rubble trench foundation) and cob walls, recycled windows with recycled slate, metal and cedar shake roofing material. The walls are covered with a variety of lime and clay plasters.
- The Lawnmower Shed: This structure has had many incarnations, most recently in 2008 it was turned 90 degrees on its foundation and the walls were infilled with cob. New doors were built with local wood and recycled materials.
Other initiatives to lower Yestermorrow's carbon footprint include:
- We are gradually upgrading all CRT computer monitors to flat-screen panels to reduce electrical loads.
- We emphasize local, seasonal and organic foods in our meal program, and grow some of the food served here on campus.
- We use recycled content paper products in the office and bathrooms.
- We compost all food and paper towel waste for use in our gardens.
- We have a bike rack in our front entry for students and staff commuting by bicycle.
- In 2007 we converted the office to a paperless registration process, reducing postage, copying and paper costs.
- We use biodegradable soaps and cleaners and recycled paper in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Daylighting in our office allows us to leave the lights off on most days, and the T8 flourescent tubes are on variable switches that allow the user to adjust the amount of light.
- We recycle all plastics, metals and paper products.