Renewable Energy: A Success Story

Renewable Energy: A Success Story

By:  Janet Thomas As I was thumbing my way through the April/May issue of American Craft Magazine, I noticed it was devoting a lot of space to sustainabilty and its impact on craft. The article that really caught my attention was on the EnergyXchange in Burnsville, North Carolina. Sited on top of a hill next to an abandoned landfill, the center provides artist residence studios for ceramics and glass  that are fueled with the methane gas generated by the decomposing garbage. The methane currently runs a boiler for radiant heat, clay kiln, glass furnace, two glory holes and a pipe warmer. But the EnergyXchange goes further. It utilizes solar energy generation to provide heat to an aquaponics fish tank maintaining a consistant 60 degree water temperature year round. Electricity not used for running the center is sold to the local power company to help supply the power grid. Local wooden pallets are used as fuel to run a custom designed clay kiln which prevents them from being trucked to another location for processing and disposal. The center also includes an education center, retail art gallery, four greenhouses and three coldframes used to propagate indigenous species of Azaelas and Rhododendrons. Visitors come from around the world to see the facility and learn how to recapture energy sources. The partnerships formed to create the EnergyXchange demonstrates how communities can pull together to create local economic improvements in a sustainable fashion.

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