How a cutting-edge wood boiler and efficiency upgrades revived Rochester's Stable Inn

2 minute read
Rochester, VT

It was the grand opening of a nearly 200-year-old building in Rochester. Now with weatherization and major upgrades, the owners of The Stable Inn say they’re ready for the next century.

Inn owner Anni MacKay welcomed about 200 people in early June for a tour of the inn’s energy-efficient makeover. She worked with Efficiency Vermont for the past five years to make the project a reality.

MacKay and her husband, Doon Hinderyckx, also own and operate the nearby BigTown Gallery and Green Mountain Bikes.

They call their block of businesses BigTown Vermont. And they see the new inn as an important step in regenerating Rochester.

MacKay said the inn overhaul started small, but quickly became an all-encompassing project. “It’s a love story with a building,” MacKay said. “As we learned more of what was needed, we got excited about the possibility of what the building could become.”

A cutting-edge wood pellet boiler heating system is at the heart of the project. MacKay and Hinderyckx began with an engineering analysis of the building. They also consulted with Efficiency Vermont.

That's when they started to look beyond the inn and realized replacing the nearly 50-year-old boiler was an opportunity. They could also bring heat and hot water to nearby buildings, in what’s known as a district heating system.

Morton Bailey is the owner of Lyme Green Heat, in Lyme, New Hampshire. He helped the inn find the right boiler to meet all the nearby buildings’ needs. At the grand opening, he demonstrated to visitors how the new boiler provides both heat and hot water to four different buildings. The pellet boiler means 1,200 gallons of oil won’t be burned each year to heat the inn.

Other efficiency measures mean the wood pellets that would normally last a single year can now last for up to three. Matt Sharpe is an engineering consultant with Efficiency Vermont. He's been working with MacKay to transform the inn since 2018. 

With the new boiler decided, Sharpe turned his attention to cooling and ventilation. A network of ducted heat pumps was added. The basement and attic, now well-insulated, were the perfect place for the ductwork. That conserved heat, energy, and space.

Sharpe attended the grand opening in early June. He showed visitors how the new heating system distributes heat to eight separate distribution panels. That allows each of the inn's 36 radiators to control its temperature independently. And that increases comfort and improves the efficiency of the pellet boiler system.

But the efficiency efforts didn’t stop there.

“This project used a combination of insulation and air sealing to really tighten this old building, that took this project from good to great.”

Matt Sharpe, Senior Engineering Consultant, Efficiency Vermont

The added work ensures the energy and heat delivered to the building won’t go to waste. The inn also installed energy recovery ventilation and drain water heat recovery devices. These recapture energy and heat that would otherwise be lost to the outside, or sent down the drain.

The inn’s two community kitchens, three common areas, and 14 climate-controlled rooms are also powered by the sun. That’s thanks to solar panels installed by Rutland’s Same Sun of Vermont.

“Altogether, this project means fewer greenhouse gas emissions for our planet," Sharpe said. "And it means a more sustainable community here in Rochester," he added.

“We’ve taken care of an old building that might otherwise have been demolished,” MacKay said. “And these upgrades will take it into the next 50 or 100 years.”