Biomass 101- Why Wood?

FOR RELEASE:     April 2, 2009


Nancy Hazard, WorldSustain & Co-chair, Greening Greenfield        


David Damery, U. Mass Amherst                   


Gordon Boyce, MA Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)
413 253-1798 x 206


Biomass 101- Why Wood?

Tuesday, April 7, 7:00 - 9:00 pm at GCTV studio & on TV

GREENFIELD, MA – Have you been wanting to find out more about biomass - and the opportunities and issues of using local forest resources to produce electricity and heat? Greening Greenfield and numerous co-sponsors are bringing two experts to Greenfield for an evening talk called Biomass 101 - Why Wood?  to help you find answers to your questions. It will be held at GCTV’s studio at 393 Main Street in Greenfield, and broadcast live on Tuesday, April 7, at 7-9 pm. The talk is free. Refreshments will be served.

Over the past six months, several projects that use biomass have been proposed for Greenfield, Other projects have been proposed in Somerset, Springfield, Pittsfield, Russell and Brattleboro. This explosion of interest in using biomass is the motivator for organizing this evening talk, so that everyone can have an opportunity to hear up-to-date information about the opportunities, issues and technologies related to this valuable resource, and be better prepared to participate in the public licensing process.

Speakers, Dave Damery, Director of Building Materials and Wood Technology, at UMass/Amherst, and Gordon Boyce, Marketing and Utilization Forester at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have over 40 years of experience with biomass.

They will talk about several studies that they wrote recently that looked at the availability and impact of the use of biomass in Massachusetts to meet our energy needs today and in the future. They will also talk about the efficiency, size and economics of various community-scale technologies that produce electricity, heat, or a combination of the two; and Massachusetts regulations that aim to ensure that our forests are managed sustainably, and our air is clean. The studies were funded and published by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

“Massachusetts has a significant forest resource which can provide renewable energy to its citizens,” said Gordon Boyce, of DCR “The sustainable management of that forest resource will allow the wood supply to last forever.”

Gordon has 20 years of experience in private sector industrial forestry and sawmill operations, which he brought to DCR 10 years ago. Much of his work at DCR focuses on biomass energy as a way to better manage our forest resource while creating jobs and economic development. A 1998 US Forest Service Report found that 80% of Western Massachusetts is forested. The study that Gordon recently co-authored found that our forests offer many economic development opportunities, and that the price of wood is stable and compares very favorably to fossil fuels...

“Energy from wood can be both renewable and carbon neutral when coupled with sustainable forest management, “ says David Damery, University of Massachusetts Amherst professor, and director of Building Materials & Wood Technology program. “Heat and energy derived from the renewable forest resource can have significant economic benefits as it serves as a bridge technology in advance of the full development of solar energy sources.” David brings over 15 years of experience in the wood products industry in engineering, management, marketing and economics. He recently completed a PhD dissertation on the factors influencing forest management planning by private forest landowners.

Energy from our forests has been used for millennia to heat our homes and businesses. But only in the past 50-years or so have people started using it to heat whole towns and generate electricity. Biomass is classified as a carbon neutral energy source because trees pull carbon dioxide, the major source of climate change emissions, out of the atmosphere while they are growing, and when burned, return the carbon to the atmosphere. But people are concerned that we do not use wood faster than it grows, and that our air, water, soil, and habitat for animals, fish, and other plants are not degraded in the process of using this resource.

“It is important that we explore how we can use this local renewable resource in a sustainable way,” says Nancy Hazard, Co-chair of the Greening Greenfield campaign. “But it is important to remember that generating heat and electricity locally, renewably, and with low climate change emissions is only one fifth of the solution. We must not forget that the most important thing we can do to improve the economy and the environment is to use efficiency and conservation to cut down on the energy we use in our homes and our cars. Only then can we imagine using this valuable resource sustainably.”

Biomass 101 - Why Wood? was organized by the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee in collaboration with the Center for Ecological Technology (CET), Co-op Power, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), Greenfield District Heating, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC). The Franklin County Energy Study published in 1977, and the Pioneer Valley Clean Energy Plan (PVCEP) published in 2008 by PVPC and PRCOG, and the 2009 Greenfield Energy Audit identifies biomass as an important regional resource. The PVCEP report notes that the initial work of the Sustainable Forest Bioenergy Initiative suggests that available biomass resources could supply plants totaling 165 Megawatts in western Massachusetts, which could include (electricity) plants, and numerous 1-5 million BTU heat-only plants.

To learn more about biomass energy, including ownership issues, you can go to Co-op Power’s Sustainable Energy Summit, to be held at UMass Amherst May 1&2. The Center for Ecological Technology, in partnership with PVPC, will be offering Biomass 101 workshops in Springfield and Pittsfield in May and June.

The Greening Greenfield campaign is a collaborative effort of the citizen committee, the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC), and the Town of Greenfield. The campaign is using “greening” as the economic and inspirational engine to build a sustainable Greenfield so that current and future generations can enjoy life in this beautiful abundant valley. To find out more about the Greening Greenfield campaign, go to or call 773-7004.


Greenfield receives Leading By Example Award from Governor Patrick for our 'greening' efforts