Last week, A Stone Wall Inn claimed to be the greenest inn in Vermont. Now I like a rumble as well as the next girl, especially when it involves eco-one-upmanship, but for the sake of the peace, we’re going to call the Churchill House Inn the oldest greenest inn in Vermont. (It’s also the first green inn Vermont’s Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State program certified in Brandon, Vermont.)
The inn served its first guests in 1872, 134 years before An Inconvenient Truth debuted. Churchill House Inn (named after its founding family) was built with local wood, milled on the property with hydro-power. It was a common practice then but would blow LEED new-construction standards away today. Seth and Olya Hopkins took over in April of 2005 and began updates that significantly boosted the house’s energy efficiency.
They installed on-demand Energy Star water heaters and promptly cut their water-heating fuel use by two-thirds. An efficient furnace, a new roof, Energy Star appliances, CFL bulbs, and triple-pane windows decreased their energy costs even further. “One of our significant heating sources is burning locally harvested firewood in three woodstoves throughout the inn,” the Hopkinses say. “We burnt about four cords last year, which cut down a lot on the oil we consumed.”
The couple reports they aren’t finished. They’ll be replacing 20 more windows next month and are looking into their renewable energy options. (“Our local utility offers ‘Cow Power,” produced from burning methane created from manure from local dairy farms,” they write.) They are also researching how to offset their remaining carbon footprint -- and their guests’, too.
Churchill House Inn’s eco-credentials don’t stop with energy efficiency. They keep their groundwater sources clean by using “high-temperature sanitizing” for their dishwashing and biodegradable laundry detergent. They compost and recycle. But the green practice visitors probably appreciate most is the inn’s organic vegetable and herb garden. The garden stocks their kitchen with fresh, chemical-free produce and also led them to the Vermont Fresh Network, “a cooperative encouraging use of local produce at Vermont country inns and restaurants,” Seth and Olya explain.
After enjoying all that fresh Vermont cooking, the couple says you shouldn’t miss a hiking, biking, or skiing tour in the surrounding Moosalamoo National Recreation Area or the Green Mountain National Forest. Olya and Seth run a Vermont tour company called Inn to Inn, which offers both guided and self-guided foot-powered tours along Vermont’s Long Trail with stays at hand-picked inns each night. Check out the two-night hike that connects Churchill House Inn to another eco-friendly lodge, Blueberry Hill, just nine miles away.
Come back tomorrow for information on Churchill House Inn’s rooms and rates!---