The energy committee has had a productive year (2013). In May we obtained Green Communities status for Wendell. This brought with it an immediate grant of 138,125 that can be used for town-wide energy conservation projects. The first two projects were an ASHRAE Level II energy audit of the town buildings and the purchase of a thermal imaging camera. Both projects were active at the end of the year.
In December we requested permission to use $37,500 of the Green Communities money for residents who get home energy audits to help cover the 25% of the costs that MassSave does not cover. Any Wendell household is eligible to receive up to $750 toward the expenses incurred by homeowners doing projects revealed by home energy audits. The Energy Committee looks forward to partnering with the Climate Change group to follow up with the 40 households that signed up for home energy audits at Old Home Day this year. We received permission for this grant January 2, 2014.
We joined with New Salem to request a state SAPPHIRE grant to hire a consultant to look for ways to use solar thermal energy at Swift River School. We were awarded the grant and the final report has been issued. We also added the school to our list of buildings for Green Communities.
The Food Security Project also successfully sponsored several projects this year. Last spring we had our second straw and compost bulk order. Jonathan Von Ranson coordinated the orders and deliveries, he brought in one load of 186 bales which served 23 households and compost for 27 households.
We now have available two electric food dehydrators, one meat/ one vegetable, and two solar ovens for loan to the community. Gloria Kegeles demonstrated the solar ovens on Old Home Day by baking cookies. We also purchased seeds for the permaculture garden at the town offices.
We also sponsored Gail Mason’s seed saving library, which has taken on a life of its own. She held two seed saving workshops during the growing season that were attended by 28 people and videos of these workshops are available at the library. She grew and saved many of the seed stock herself, and over the winter solicited additional heirloom seeds from seed companies. Over 40 people have signed up to participate in the project by borrowing seeds from the library, growing them, and saving the seeds in the fall to return to the library. The goal is to build a library of seeds especially suited for our environment. The more we grow in Wendell the smaller our food footprint. Gail is also available to help anyone get started with seed saving and is holding office hours at the library this spring.