The EnergyXchange provides an affordable studio environment for artists while promoting sustainable business practices.
Located near the world-renowned Penland School of Crafts and nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, the EnergyXchange has successfully merged the world of craft and environmental sustainability. Utilizing methane gas captured from a local landfill, the EnergyXchange supports studios for up to 7 resident artists, all potters or glassblowers.
After the 1994 closure of the Yancey/Mitchell Landfill, local researchers and organizations began the search for an alternative use for the closed landfill. In 1996 the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council, Mayland Community College and Handmade in America began developing plans for the EnergyXchange. The landfill methane capture system was activated in 1999 soon followed by artist residencies beginning in 2001.
The landfill gas is used to power a pottery kiln and the glass shop in addition to providing heat for the studios, offices and the gallery. The EnergyXchange estimates that the system is saving their glass artists upwards of $1000 per month in utilities compared to a traditional glass studio.
Functionally, methane gas works similar to propane and natural gas but heats at a slower rate. Some of the resident artists have shifted their methods of production to reduce overall energy consumption and plan to continue to incorporate these methods after completing their residencies.
The EnergyXchange harnesses power through a number of methods including solar collection, wind and the burning of often discarded wood pallets. The campus is currently connected to a standard electrical grid so all solar power collected is transferred back into the grid and shared across the local community. Also, a large wood-burning kiln was constructed specifically to burn wood pallets.
Open to visitors Monday through Saturday, the EnergyXchange is providing artists with an environmentally and financially sustainable business model. To read more about the resident artists and alternative energy sources check out their website here.