Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

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Governor's Award
VSHI receives the 2008 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence and Pollution Prevention.
 The Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative is a non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of affordability and sustainability in Vermont's home heating economy. We believe that Vermont has the potential to be energy independent within the home-heating sector, and that this energy independence can and should be established in a manner that is socially, environmentally, and economically responsible. Since 2008 we have educated state lawmakers on the sustainable energy potential of Vermont's fiber shed, equipped low-income Vermont households with affordable (and fossil-fuel free) heating systems, and contracted the Biomass Energy Resource Center to analyze the feasibility of establishing a biomass densification facility in Chittenden county.

 We believe that true sustainability requires social justice, mindful ecology, and sound economics. The exclusion of any one of these principles results in a system that will ultimately fail to remain viable. By focusing our efforts on a portion of the energy consumption problem with a relatively low barrier to entry (as compared to transportation and power) we believe that our grassroots movement can have the greatest potential for a lasting impact.

 We believe that Vermont has enough agricultural land that is both underutilized and unsuitable for food production to sustainably support the bulk of our home heating need with grass-derived pellet fuels. We are currently working in cooperation with LIHEAP in Addison County to transition low income households to pellet heating. We are also currently working with the Biomass Energy Resource Center to discover whether local pellet production can be as socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable as we believe to be the case. If the conclusion of the research supports our belief we will work to establish a local pellet production facility reflective of our ideals.