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Biomass Plant Wins Architectural Design Award

Dec 18, 2009

For their design of Bennington College's biomass heating facility, which heats 85 percent of the campus using renewable wood chips, Centerline Architects and Planners have earned an Excellence in Architecture Award from The American Institute of Architects/Vermont Chapter.

The Bennington-based firm earned a Merit Award in the "Industrial" category "because it challenged the standard notion of a utility building," the AIA jury said. "We appreciated the effort taken by the architect to transform a utility structure into a piece of architecture that significantly contributed to its campus setting." 

"The goal," according to Centerline's design team, "was to develop an addition that acknowledges the significance of this building, yet was in every respect current, modern and expressive of its use. We were inspired by the images of power plants, green plants and the international style."

Now entering its second heating season, the biomass facility—a 4,800-square-foot addition to the College's utility plant—has resulted in a drastic reduction of the campus' carbon output. The long-term savings on oil are expected to pay for the conversion costs within seven years. Other green design elements include a roof-top garden that decreases runoff and shades trees in order to reduce solar heat in the summer; operational windows that provide fresh air and natural light; and high-efficiency lighting and heating systems. 

For more on the facility, and for other green initiatives at Bennington, click here.