A new energy in Rutland
by Molly Hooker Hatfield, Efficiency Vermont
Recently my work with Efficiency Vermont has led me back to my hometown of Rutland. These days it feels as though there is a buzz in and around Rutland, an energy, if you will - pun intended. The most visible display is Green Mountain Power's recently unveiled Energy Innovation Center right smack in the middle of downtown Rutland. This is a very cool space, all futuristic, energy efficient, and interactive. And what is especially exciting are the human connections the space is facilitating.
First there are the professional and personal partnerships that were forged and/or strengthened between those involved in the creation of the space by the designers, architect, contractors, and artists. Second, unique collaborations promise to emerge as the space will be shared by Green Mountain Power, Efficiency Vermont, and Neighborworks of Western Vermont. And, most importantly, as the Center is open to the public, it is a powerful resource for people to increase their energy awareness and reduce their consumption. What does this not-just-a-building mean to the people who live in the community? I decided to ask two life-long Rutland residents (and former classmates of mine) for their thoughts.
The Energy Innovation Center is More Than Office Space
Mike Coppinger, Executive Director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership- In my role as Executive Director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership, I have seen the property formally known as the Eastman Building sit vacant and fall into disrepair for close to 10 years. The poor condition of the building made it difficult to market it to a prospective tenant or buyer. Thankfully, Green Mountain Power saw the possibilities of this Art Deco treasure and rescued this building to create the Energy Innovation Center.
As Mayor Christopher Louras explained during his remarks at the Energy Innovation Center opening, this building is far more than simply an office in downtown Rutland. It is more than a historic building that has been brought back to life through a tremendous renovation.It's even more than a building that features some of the funkiest signage anywhere in downtown.
This building will be the epicenter for the development of energy-saving technology and other advancements in the energy field. As a young man born and raised in Rutland City, I went through the Rutland Public School system and attended Rutland's own College of St Joseph. I have seen many of my high school classmates head off to other parts of the country to seek out higher-paying, new technology jobs. My hope is that the GMP Energy and Innovation Center will be the remedy to slow down or stop that exportation.
The Energy Innovation Center Represents Inspiration and Pride for Rutland
Amanda Beraldi, Director of Customer Programs at the Energy Innovation Center -To me the building means inspiration and pride. It symbolizes what's possible when you dream big; it is excitement, hope and action all wrapped into one. As a GMP employee, I get to go to the building every day and work with others to create new options for Vermonters to save money on their energy bills, reduce their reliance of foreign oil, while adding clean renewable sources of energy on to the electric grid. I'm proud to live and work in Rutland. Molly's right, there is a buzz and it's contagious. We are demonstrating right here in Rutland how with a little inspiration, people and communities can come together to create new energy.
Efficiency Vermont is excited to join Green Mountain Power with office space at the Energy Innovation Center. Tell us what the Energy Innovation Center and the revitalization of one of Vermont’s oldest downtown areas means to you in the comment section.