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Publyk House reduces costs and saves energy with energy retrofit

Bennington, VT – Many of the qualities that make the Publyk House Restaurant "the most beautiful restaurant in Vermont" are the ones that made the establishment an energy nightmare. The old horse barn, repurposed as a restaurant, was largely uninsulated. It presented all the challenges one might imagine come with converting a horse barn to a modern, fine-dining venue; from lighting, to ventilation, to insulation, heat, and hot water. Steven and Lauren Bryant, husband-and-wife proprietors of several local establishments, were up to the challenge. When Marcus Jones from Efficiency Vermont approached the Bryants about participating in Efficiency Vermont’s Deep Energy Retrofit program, the business savvy couple were hopeful an energy retrofit would make the restaurant more profitable and sustainable.

From left to right, Frank Stone, Lauren Bryant, Marcus Jones, and Steve Bryant.

"Publyk House is a fixture of the community in Bennington," said Steven Bryant. "We serve over 70,000 people a year and have community members who come through here two to three times a week even. We felt like we had an opportunity to demonstrate for the community that we could run a successful business and cut our carbon footprint – but it had to be cost effective in a tough business environment."

The Bryants worked with Efficiency Vermont through its Deep Energy Retrofit program, which helps businesses cut energy use by at least 50%, to add insulation, heat pumps, and new high efficiency propane furnaces to heat the building for less money and with less energy. New LED lighting maintained the sense of warmth and aesthetics of the old decorative incandescent lighting, but with far lower wattages. High efficiency evaporating fan motors were placed in the walk-in refrigerator units to make the refrigeration more efficient and cost-effective.

Finally, the old and unreliable water heating system was replaced with two new heat pump water heaters. The heat pumps use the natural refrigerant CO2 instead of more common hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. Natural refrigerants significantly reduce the greenhouse gas impact of leaks. The new heaters were installed in the kitchen, which allowed the cooling fans, taking in heat from the kitchen to heat water and pushing out “waste” cold air, to act as year-round AC on the cook line. This new system is far more reliable and uses 70% less propane.

"These heaters actually use the heat we’re generating on the cookline to heat our water, then turn around and blow cool air on us," said Frank Stone, Head Chef for the Publyk House. "On hot summer days over a hot stove, that makes a huge difference in the quality of work in this kitchen."

Business has been booming at Publyk House. But thanks to the retrofit, their energy bill is not. In the period of time since the retrofit was completed the restaurant now serves 42% more meals, while the energy used to serve each meal is 52% less than what it was. "Our focus and expertise is in creating a great dining experience. We wouldn't have had the resources, the time, or the knowledge to complete this project without Marcus and the team from Efficiency Vermont," said Bryant. "But this project has proved that you actually can do it all; reduce your carbon footprint, save money and energy, and have a successful business." After the Deep Energy Retrofit was completed and their total energy demand was reduced, the Bryants took the building to the next level and added solar panels on the roof, so they're generating the majority of the electricity they need on site. In the future, they're excited to add storage to reduce demand on the grid at peak times and increase the benefit of their solar system.

Electric: 51,000 kWh
Propane: 3,600 gallons
Dollars: $12,250/year
GHG Emissions: 96,000 lbs/year

Project Partners:
This project would not have succeeded without the team of partners engaged in every aspect of the energy efficiency upgrades. That team included:

Weatherization Works
High-Tech Plumbing and Heating

Noveo - EcoHood System
Sanden - SanCO2 Heat Pump Water Heater

Contact our customer support team to discuss comprehensive energy improvement projects in your business through the Deep Energy Retrofit program.


1 Comment

  • Bill Christian said Reply

    Very impressive. This also shows visitors that Vermont is doing its share! I'd love to see a little kiosk in the entry "bragging" about the project. (Maybe there is one and I've missed it. I'll watch next time I'm in.) Thanks!

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