Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Wood-Pellet Projects: Paul Smith’s College

Photos of Paul Smith's College  ©Paul Buckowski 2006Paul Smith’s College is installing a state-of-the-art wood-pellet boiler system, which will heat its three academic buildings.

This project is one of the first uses in New York State of a high-efficiency and low-emission wood pellet boiler heating system to heat multiple buildings.  Paul Smith’s is one of five new sites in the North Country planning to install the technology including the Olympic Regional Training Center in Lake Placid, North Country Community College’s Sparks Athletic Complex in Saranac Lake, the Indian Lake School and the North Country School in Lake Placid. High efficiency wood boilers were pioneered in the Adirondacks by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

The project was partially supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program, which encourages local communities across the state to become more sustainable and energy efficient.

“We are very excited to get this system up and running,” Steve McFarland, Vice President for Capital Projects at Paul Smith’s, said in a announcement to the press. “This wood-pellet fueled mini-district heating grid has the potential to become the standard heating method for institutions and homeowners in the region, and Paul Smith’s is excited to serve as the model.”

This new technology is being advanced by Renewable Heat NY, which encourages growth of the high-efficiency, low-emission biomass heating industry. The program is also hoped to support quicker development of the industry, raise consumer awareness, and encourages local sustainable heating markets and sustainable forestry.

“The investment by Paul Smith’s College, along with these other North Country projects, will result in energy savings using a locally grown renewable energy resource,” said John B. Rhodes, president and CEO, NYSERDA. “This is a great example of the type of project that Governor Cuomo seeks to promote through the Renewable Heat NY program – projects that reduce emissions and are models for others to follow.”

The wood pellet boiler will contribute to Paul Smith’s renewable energy and climate change goals, displacing 28,000 gallons per year of heating oil with renewable wood-pellet fuel. That translates to reducing 320 tons of fossil fuel emissions every year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 47 passenger vehicles.

Paul Smith’s system also makes use of thermal storage, a technology that increases the efficiency of the boiler. The system will heat a total of 70,000 square feet, saving the college up to $50,000 a year. The total cost of the project is approximately $600,000.

The project design and installation are expected to be monitored and evaluated by NYSERDA to ensure its energy and environmental performance. The containerized wood-pellet boiler system will be tied into the academic buildings’ existing heating systems.

Key features of Paul Smith’s new wood pellet heating system:

– Savings: The system will pay for itself in 15 years.

– Supporting the local forest industry: Bulk wood pellets from Curran Renewable Energy in Massena, N.Y., are sourced from local, sustainably harvested, FSC Certified woodlots.

– Keeping jobs in the local economy: When you heat with imported oil, 75 percent of the money leaves the state. Now, all the energy dollars will remain in the local community.

– Teaching and learning opportunities: A web-enabled boiler-monitoring system will track boiler performance and provide real-time energy performance data.

Paul Smith’s wood pellet boiler system is manufactured by EvoWorld in Troy, N.Y., and is expected to achieve greater than 93 percent efficiency. It has exceptionally low emissions, verified to meet the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Protection Agency standards.

In 2007, Paul Smith’s was among the first to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The college’s current Climate Action Plan lists its carbon neutrality date as 2029. The installation of the pellet boiler is a step toward carbon neutrality.

Photo of Paul Smith’s provided.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

3 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    Kudos to PSC and the other sites on this efficient use of resources!

  2. Paul says:

    Curran (Seaway logging) does a lot of their cutting very close to Paul Smiths (Santa Clara easements and other private land in the area). It is too bad they have to truck the chips all the way to Massena for processing and then back to Paul Smiths. I wonder if there is some way to process chips right to pellets in the woods?

  3. Amy Nelson says:

    I really appreciate all the information in this article! Paul Smith’s may or may not toot their own horn here, but I hope someone does. This is worthy. Good stuff.

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