Energy plant named 'Renewable Energy Project of the Year'

Bar Harbor, Maine—A biomass boiler at The Jackson Laboratory that can burn wood pellets in place of fossil fuels has earned the designation "Renewable Energy Project of the Year" from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) for the northeastern U.S. region.

Operating since July 2011, the wood-burning energy plant—the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere—has reduced the Laboratory’s fuel oil consumption by 75 percent, about 1.2 million gallons a year, according to John Fitzpatrick, the Laboratory's senior director for Facilities Services.

Fitzpatrick notes, "To date we’ve displaced over 2.2 million gallons of fuel oil and have saved over $3,000,000. And it represents huge savings environmentally: we’re removing 13.5 thousand tons of CO2 a year from our emissions profile."

Jackson Laboratory facilities engineer Norman Burdzel, the project’s manager, will accept the AEE award on behalf of the Laboratory at a ceremony at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center on Sept. 24.

The AEE awards committee, led by the Region I Vice President David Eberly, recognized The Jackson Laboratory's pellet-burning energy plant as "a significant and innovative renewable energy project, one that has had significant impact on global warming and Maine’s wood pellet industry." The committee noted that "although nominations are often limited to more conventional renewable projects such as wind or solar, this project was viewed by the committee as particularly innovative, cost-effective and practical."

Based on advanced technology developed by Swedish energy company Petrokraft, the energy plant generates steam for conversion to electricity by burning wood powder, the product of pulverizing wood pellets into a combustible dust.

The $4.4 million biomass boiler project was funded with the help of a $1 million grant from the Efficiency Maine program, in part through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an East Coast greenhouse cap-and-trade program.

Energy conservation is a priority at the fast-growing Jackson Laboratory, says Jackson Executive Vice President and COO Charles E. Hewett, Ph.D. "Since 2000 the institution has constructed four new buildings and three major renovations in keeping with LEED design principles and philosophies." A new $135 million Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, now under construction in Farmington, Conn., is currently tracking to achieve LEED gold certification when completed in 2014, Hewett adds.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs a total staff of more than 1,500. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.