The State of Institutional Woody Biomass Facilities in the United States, a report just released by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment), is available at www.usendowment.org. This report, based on research by Katie Premo, Endowment intern, and Kate MacFarland, USDA Forest Service (USFS) staff, fills the gap and points to the growth in use of woody biomass for energy in community facilities, such as schools, hospitals and more.
When the right technology is matched with the right setting, woody biomass can offset the costs of other fuel sources, especially fuel oil and propane. As of January 2013, 297 institutional facilities have been identified as operational. Since concluding the study the number of systems has continued to grow reflecting the dynamic changes occurring in this arena. More than two-thirds are in the Northeastern U.S. Fifty-nine percent are secondary schools. The remaining facilities are predominantly higher education buildings.
“Wood was the first energy fuel used by mankind,” says Endowment President Carlton Owen. “Still more than one-half of the people on Earth depend on wood for their basic heating and cooking needs. Yet, in developed economies wood isn’t just for subsistence, advanced wood combustion systems are part of stabilizing and even saving on energy costs while doing so using a locally-sourced, renewable fuel.”
The report is another result of the Woody Biomass Joint-Venture, a partnership between the Endowment and the USDA Forest Service. Information generated is being added to the most comprehensive wood-to-energy database in North America – www.Wood2Energy.org – which is also a product of the joint venture. Users of the database are asked to submit additions to keep it current.