Churchtown Dairy

Project Objective: Design and construct a low carbon alternative to provide for the energy needs of the farm, using sustainable technologies and building materials. 

The Radiant Store designed and employed the following sustainable technologies and building materials to provide  the energy needs of the farm: 

• low power consumption lighting, electrical components, fans, and ventilators 

• infrastructure built for a distributed energy environment

• non ozone depleting refrigerants • water conservation waste systems

• solar thermal energy harvesting• recycled insulation 

• low carbon / no carbon emission HVAC Systems • power and light the farm with clean energy 

• Poly Vinyl Chloride free plumbing 

Process Water Heating

   The dairy’s mission is to have a low carbon alternative to providing process hot water for sanitation and production needs. Using flat plate solar absorbers sourced from German manufacturer Viessmann Engineering, hot water is generated for both the process water AND the water to heat the building. The surfaces of these solar absorbers are made of specialized glass that retains over 99% of the energy contained within any sunlight passing through. Underneath, a coated absorber plate designed to catch electromagnetic radiation on the infrared spectrum, harnesses the collected energy, and functions in both direct and diffused sunlight (i.e. fair and/or cloudy conditions). Using that energy, the panels can achieve temperatures of approximately 350 degrees (F), and will automatically regulate themselves using sensors to prevent any incidence of overheating. The collected heat is exchanged with a food grade non-toxic anti-freeze solution, and finally, it is used to create hot water for various uses. The whole process runs on a low wattage pump, costing less than .60 cents per day. Heated water not currently being used is stored in highly insulated pressure vessels with standby losses of under .5 degrees per hour. The completed solar system eliminates 85% of the carbon emissions typically associated with burning fossil fuels for producing process hot water. This mechanical system will offset 20 tons of carbon emission annually.

Process Cooling

   The cooling systems are a critical component of the milk and cheese processing and cheese cave cooling. The Dairy sought to utilize noncfc refrigerants that do not harm the ozone and minimize electrical consumption. The vapor compression chiller utilizes the latest designs in compressor to technologies to minimize electrical consumption. The refrigerant used to run the machine is non-cfc environmentally friendly refrigerant. The key innovation developed as it relates to system design was conceived by Richard Anderson. On the milk cooling side, the higher efficiency chiller reduces time under load further decreasing carbon emissions.

   The cheese cave cooling is specifically accomplished through radiant conduction. Embedded in the cave walls is a non-toxic piping that allows chilled water to be circulated throughout the entire membrane. Cooling costs are significantly lower than conventional technologies and ultimately lower carbon emissions.


   The Farm’s plumbing and waste systems are designed to completely conserve water and to create no harmful discharges of chemicals into the environment. The plumbing systems are completely free of polyvinyl chlorides. Each of the installed systems utilize stainless steel or copper piping. Clivus Multrum waste systems save energy and water while providing additional environmental benefits. While “conventional” waste systems discharge indirectly into groundwater or directly into oceans, rivers or bays causing harmful effects to habitat, the Clivus Multrum waste system uses aerobic decomposition to break down waste. There is nothing to ‘discharge’.

Building Envelope & Insulation

   The building materials selected for insulating the structure are recycled materials. The materials are non-toxic and create energy efficiency indirectly by reducing heating and cooling loads. Recycled Fiber paper is a special form of insulation that is made from recycled paper. This is also known as cellulose insulation. The insulation is made from paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Aside from the obvious benefits of reducing environmental waste, the insulation and building envelope at the farm exceeds the building code standards by a factor of 50% thereby reducing consumption of fossil fuels. The additional advantage by “tightening” the building up is that it allows the heating loads to rely more on the thermal solar components which produce heat with no carbon emissions. The estimated carbon reduction for the farm related to the insulation technology is 35 tons.

Lighting and Electrical Systems

   The building utilizes LED lighting technology, occupancy sensors and photometric data to provide energy savings as well as a safe working environment. Light emitting diodes are a 2 lead semi-conductor light source. The lighting fixtures save 75% of the energy consumed by a typical incandescent light source and last significantly longer. Electrical consumption is reduced, thereby reducing carbon emissions. LED lighting does not contain mercury. Three phase power versus single phase is more efficient as it loses less power due to lower resistance. Where possible, the farm has worked with the utility to provide 3 phase power. In addition, the technologies that run on 3-phase power reduce electrical consumption and cost. In all cases the electrical power choices on the farm were done with efficiency in mind. From motors, to lighting to fan technologies and compressors each selection was based on efficiency.

Building Heating and Cooling

   All of the mechanical systems are built with the goal in mind of harnessing renewable energy for both heating and cooling. The goal ultimately for the heating systems would be to utilize distributed energy produced on the farm. The dairy specifically chose heating systems that are adaptable to a distributed energy environment and to that end has elected to install technologies that can be run entirely on clean power.

Heating & Cooling

   Radiant thermal energy is embedded under the floor (right) and utilizes hot water from the thermal solar system to provide heating. The auxiliary heat sources are high efficiency low ambient heat pumps (below) that use ambient air and environmentally friendly refrigerant to produce heating in the winter months. The units do not emit any carbon into the atmosphere. Much has been said about distributed energy and infrastructure that can be run on clean power, and the cooling system is no exception. All the dairy cooling systems are at the highest efficiency levels available and utilize non CFC refrigerants.



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