How This Vermont City is Redefining the Meaning of “Green”
The state of Vermont has always been at the forefront of environmental protection, and sustainability movements in the US. The state’s largest city Burlington has made major strides over the years championing green initiatives and setting a high benchmark for the rest of the country.
One of the largest milestones is the city’s complete non-reliance on unsustainable energy sources. Burlington runs on 100 percent renewable energy, making it the first city of its size to do so in the country. The entirety of the city’s energy comes from a large hydropower plant that was purchased in 2014, couple this with dozens of other region wide sustainability initiatives, Burlington is our choice for “Greenest City in the US”.
Pioneering Force in Renewable Energy
Burlington is at a particularly noteworthy point when it comes to innovation in renewable energy. It is the first major region that has taken renewable energy as it’s foremost priority, far surpassing other top “green” cities, such as Greenberg, Kansas, deemed the first town to live off of renewable energy.
Greenberg‘s 800 residents may be the first to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy, but Burlington is the first metropolitan area with over 42,000 people to run entirely on renewable energy sources.
The relatively progressive politics of Burlington may have helped spearhead the importance of renewable energy as one of the state’s major causes. Most of the residents in Burlington supported the plan for transitioning to a totally sustainable way of life.
There have been positive fiscal outcomes from this switch – by switching to safer sources of energy, Burlington has been able to save itself more than an estimated $20 billion over the next 20 years. Burlington represents an aggressive march towards total sustainability, and it represents a case study for other cities that may want to invest in renewable energy but may be a bit skittish about its long-term efficacy.
The local landscape has helped Burlington to achieve its goal of investing completely in renewable energy. The city purchased a power station that, for many decades, has been fueled by wood chips. A nearby scrapyard accepts wood trash by the residents. This symbiosis allowed the power station to consume more than 75 tons of wood chips an hour and generate 50 watts of electricity, providing a third of the city’s electric needs, it only made sense for Burlington to eventually invest in a more permanent solution when it comes to allocating renewables to Burlington residents and businesses.
The Initiative: Burlington’s success is part of a larger statewide initiative to generate 90 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. It has already met that threshold with its different sources of renewable energy.