Established in 1892 (long before slogans like “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” came into vogue), the Holton Home has consistently striven to live lightly on the earth while maintaining the quality of our Home community. As we consider changes to the Home, we remain committed to improving the lives of our residents in the ‘greenest’ ways possible.
At Holton Home, we marry the old and new in ways that save money and energy, and we pass those savings on to our residents and their families. We strive to use local builders, building suppliers, pharmacies, and banking services as a way of supporting the businesses and communities that support us.
As we care for the older generation, we endeavor to pass a cleaner, safer world on to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As recently as November 2011, Holton Home was again featured in the Green Buildings Open House Tour, the largest sustainable energy event in the Northeast. We are proud to continue to be a ‘Green’ leader in the region.
Recycling, Saving Paper & Postage
When we do our weekly shopping for our residents, rather than bringing home dozens of plastic shopping bags, we take along our own reusable cloth shopping bags. They are laundered as necessary and reused, reducing our waste and recycling streams. We also buy what we can in bulk to minimize the part of our waste stream that goes to the landfill.
We recycle cardboard, bottles, cans, newspaper, magazines and office paper by delivering these to the big green bins situated around town.
And we make cleaning rags out of threadbare towels; we use office paper that has an unprinted side to print non-critical documents or for taking notes. Dinner ‘left-overs’ wind up in soup, while clothing and furniture that’s no longer needed is donated to Experienced Goods, a Brattleboro thrift shop that supports local Hospice services.
At Holton Home, we offer electronically distributed publications to keep in touch with our residents’ families and friends. Electronic versions of our annual reports and our monthly newsletters help us cut down on the amount of paper, ink, fossil fuel, and postage required. You may join our email list or request electronic copies of newsletters and other regular publications here.
The Kitchen Garden, Compost, and Local Food
Situated in southern Vermont, with its rich agricultural heritage and resources, Holton Home has a longstanding commitment to buy local whenever it is practical. The vegetables that don’t come from our own kitchen garden are generally bought from Black River Produce, a Vermont-based company that prioritizes buying direct from local farms. This saves transportation costs while providing fresher and more nutritious produce for our residents.
Because our chef and kitchen staff prepare all of the food for the Home from scratch, every day we have a sizeable bucket of kitchen scraps that might be sent to a dumpster and on to the landfill. Instead, we mingle our kitchen scraps with debris from the garden and the grounds in a two-barrel composting system that lets us maximize the quality of our soil while minimizing our waste. This allows us to nourish our soil and our residents.
Recently, we have also re-designed our vegetable garden to feature raised beds with clear, wide pathways to improve access for our residents who want to help maintaining the beds by weeding and watering, or to grab a ready-to-eat snack of cherry tomatoes or berries. We also have a gazebo and several small sitting areas with what we call ‘conversation benches’ for residents and their guests who enjoy spending time in the gardens.
With subsidies and rebates from Efficiency Vermont (our nation’s first statewide ratepayer funded energy efficiency utility), Holton Home has transitioned from inefficient incandescent light bulbs to high-quality, energy saving fluorescent bulbs and fixtures.
Where appropriate, we are replacing light switches with motion sensor switches. When someone enters a room equipped with a motion sensor switch, the light goes on and after a certain period of time with no motion detected, the light automatically goes off.
In addition to saving energy, these switches cut down on germ transmission, making bathrooms and kitchen facilities excellent places for these energy savers.
Insulation & Solar Energy Improvements
Our older building was constructed in the age of horsehair plaster and lathe. As we renovate the home and make necessary additions, we take advantage of every opportunity to tighten the envelope of both old and new construction by adding insulation and building in features to lower our carbon footprint and reduce the costs for our residents.
This includes reusing old and useful building materials during renovations and improving the energy design of our facilities.
We invited local energy efficiency experts to test the Home to pinpoint areas of heat loss. We then carefully insulated both the building’s cap and basement, including the old stone basement walls and had cellulose (recycled newspapers) blown into the attics and many of the wall cavities.
We also designed our 2010 addition with a south-facing roof for the installation of twenty solar hot water panels. These panels preheat our domestic hot water supply by circulating it through the solar panels and storing it in large holding tanks for our bathing, laundry, and kitchen needs.
On a sunny day, the temperature of the water coming from the panels can reach 200° F. Hot water in excess of what we need for domestic usage is diverted to the baseboard hot water heating system which helps us cut down our heating oil consumption without sacrificing the comfort of the Home.
By managing the efficiency part of the construction process carefully, we have increased our living space in the Home by 25%, while decreasing our heating oil use by nearly 50%. We are pleased to be protecting the comfort of our residents while, at the same time, decreasing their costs.