WINDHAM, VERMONT—If a building becomes as one as possible with its surrounding environment, can it be energy self-sufficient? Yes, it certainly can. Just ask Bob Shannon, President of The Fourth Corner Foundation, Inc., the nonprofit that runs A Stone Wall Inn in Windham, Vermont. Shannon, an architect with two degrees from Yale University, first thought about the 10-room inn on 12 acres in 1969. The three-building inn with a post-modernist feel is heated entirely by solar energy and wood stoves. Every aspect and angle of the well-insulated inn was designed to maximize the power of the sun.
“We are making the buildings respond to the environment with as little assistance as possible,” Shannon says. “The sun does about 70 to 80 percent of the heating.”
Most of the windows are south facing and awnings are positioned to reflect the summer sun. Triple-cell shading on windows and triple-glazed windows help keep the temperature stable. At 1,700 feet in elevation and in the northern part of the United States, the inn is rarely exposed to extreme heat.
“Insurance companies don’t like the idea that there is no fossil fuel or electric heat,” Shannon says.
No Shortage of Water
“We have more water than we know what to do with,” Shannon says. “We do have a lot of rain. Drinking water comes from a deep well.” Water for other needs comes from a 10,000 gallon tank that stores rainwater.
Green cleaning products and recycled paper are purchased and there are three acres of perennial gardens, vegetable plants and fruit trees. “When we have breakfast, we have a lot of blueberries,” Shannon says.
Art gallery openings and foundation activities draw guests to the inn. An upcoming round table will focus on the Re-scape project, an innovative plan to use the suburban landscape as a way to produce viable food crops. The two day event will discuss the viability and the potential of this ecologically responsible plan. “We will be covering everything from the relationships and layout of plant species to promoting the project to a diverse audience,” The Fourth Corner Foundation says.
“The Foundation is about the aesthetics of sustainability,” Shannon says.
The Foundation hopes to foster a heightened awareness of the impact of man-made design on the environment, and more importantly, the potential impact of the environment on man-made design.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.