DCI Wins $250K USDA Renewable Energy Systems Grant

In Climate Friendly Furniture, Green Manufacturing, Wood is Good by Morgan Dix

I live in the lee of Colorado’s storied front range. The Rocky Mountains are an inspiring and imposing companion and a constant reminder that wilderness is never far away.

So it’s disconcerting these days, when so much smoke from nearby wildfires fills the air. I can’t even see the foothills that are normally visible from my home.

Floods drenching the Gulf Coast, wildfires burning the West Coast. Catastrophic songbird die-offs in the Southwest. I’ve worked on and off in the environmental field since college. For the first time I’m starting to feel genuinely overwhelmed.

Rural Energy for America Program Funds Renewable Energy System

DCI Rural Energy for America ProgramAnd that’s why I was so happy that our company recently received a $250k grant from the USDA‘s Rural Energy for America Program to help us purchase and install a state of the art renewable energy system at our flagship manufacturing facility in Lisbon, NH.

And we were even more delighted when the USDA featured DCI as a sustainability champion among their program success stories.

This timely news came on the heals of a $75,000 grant from Vermont’s Working Lands Institute, which is supporting the expansion of our FSC certified sawmill.

So how did all this fall into place? Here’s the skinny.

Fueling A High Efficiency Steam Boiler

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) supports farmers, producers, and small businesses in New Hampshire to improve energy efficiency and create renewable-energy systems.

We applied for and won the $250,0000 grant from REAP to purchase and install a high efficiency 300HP biomass steam boiler. We’ll power the new system with wood byproducts from our expanded sawmill in Royalton, VT and from sawdust captured during our manufacturing process.

The Working Lands grant enables us to double the output of our sawmill, supplying ample fuel for the new boiler.

DCI President Henry Kober projects the new renewable biomass boiler will save our company $390,000 annually in energy costs. And that’s just out of the box.

Beyond that we’re planning to recommission our steam engine generator and add it to the system. This will further reduce the factory’s dependence on the electrical grid.

Leading the Way In Sustainability

As the USDA’s DCI success story highlights, we have long committed ourselves to rigorous sustainability standards at every level of our operation.

As more colleges and universities awaken to the ethical impact of their purchasing power, DCI offers them the most sustainable furniture choice in the higher education market.

For example, Southwestern University recently published an article titled Sustainable Furniture Comes to Southwestern, celebrating the sustainable furniture they purchased from DCI.

In the article, Sustainability Coordinator Veronica Johnson enumerates the criteria that led them to choose DCI as their furniture partner.

When evaluating potential manufacturers, we wanted furniture that was affordable, accessible, aesthetically pleasing, durable, and that optimized space efficiently. We also looked for manufacturers that make their products domestically with eco-preferred materials and have a take-back program. Ultimately, we chose suppliers who checked all the boxes and are leading the way in sustainability.”

Building Viability for Generations

According to DCI,Inc. President Henry Kober, the new renewable energy system fits into a larger plan. It ensures DCI’s sustainability and economic viability far into the future.

We will use the USDA REAP grant to partially fund a new biomass boiler for our facility in Lisbon, NH. that we plan to put in service by December 2021. The new boiler uses state of the art technology to achieve higher efficiency reducing particulate emissions by 75% to less than .07 lbs/mmbtu.

We will fuel the boiler with byproducts of our wood processing operations and will continue to provide 100% of our heat and process steam from renewable energy sources. This project helps DCI achieve its sustainability goals while aiding the company’s economic viability for generations.”

Echoing DCI’s strong commitment to supporting local economies, USDA Rural Development State Director Anthony Linardos issued a statement commending the investment.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are at the heart of keeping New Hampshire farms and businesses competitive and productive during the Covid-19 pandemic. And well into the future,” he said. “USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program helps businesses like DCI Sustainable Hardwood Furniture become more energy independent. And [it helps them] reduce costs while supporting the renewable economy in New Hampshire.

DCI Sustainable Hardwood Furniture still reflects the philosophical, thoughtful approach of its founder, practicing chain-of-custody certification to ensure that public lands are responsibly harvested for timber. Doing business the ‘right’ way means different things to different people. To Henry Kober and his family, it means making high quality products, using and reusing resources responsibly and
ethically.

-USDA Rural Energy for America Program