Crawford Notch New Hampshire

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Completed: Owner:



General Contractor:




October 2003

Appalachian Mountain Club Andrew Falender, Executive Director Walter Graff, Deputy Director Paul Cunha, Director of Facilities

Carlone Dick LaFleche

Dennis Carlone, Architect & Master Planner

Douglas Dick, Architect

Dean Hofelich, Project Manager

H. E. Bergeron Engineers—Civil Engineers Kohler & Lewis—Mechanical and Plumbing Engineers LeMessurier Consultants—Structural Engineers Downing Engineering—Electrical Engineers Energysmiths—Sustainable Design Advisor

Halvorson Design Partnership, Inc.—Landscape Architects & Master Planner

MacMillin Company, Keene, New Hampshire Peter Vanderwarker

The center is located on an historic 26-acre site in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


Copyright © 2008 by Keith G. Moskow. Click here for terms of use.

Program: Square Footage:

Structural System:

Mechanical System:

Environmental Education Center and Lodge Complex including dormitory, offices, and conference spaces

38,000 square feet—Highland Lodge 11,700 square feet—Thayer Hall 880 square feet—Garn Building 915 square feet—Maintenance Building 51,495 square feet—Total

• Steel frame is 95 percent recycled steel fabricated 45 miles from the site

• Dining room timber framing from a pier in Oregon

• Crushed existing asphalt used on new parking lot and roadway

• Biomass central boiler by Garn

• Heat recovery boilers and water heaters

• Two biodiesel backup boilers

• Low-flow toilets in Highland Lodge

Composting toilets in Thayer Hall and railroad depot

• Insulspan structural insulated panels (SIPs) on roof and walls

• Nu-Wool cellulose wall insulation at Thayer Hall

• Triple-glazed low-emissivity (low-E) fiberglass windows

• Thermally broken aluminum entry doors

• Polyurethane foam sealant on doors and windows

• Mineral wood sound bats

• 89 percent recycled content carpeting by Shaw

• Coated steel standing seam roofing by Integris

• Low volatile organic compound (low-VOC) paint in guest rooms

• Gypsum wall board, 95 percent recycled content

Low-maintenance landscaping—native wildflowers located outside the dining area and throughout the main site are irrigation-free and maintain the natural consistency of the White Mountains.



"Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club, a nonprofit organization with more than 90,000 members, promotes the protection, enjoyment, and wise use of the mountains, rivers, and trails of the Appalachian region. We believe that the mountains and rivers have an intrinsic worth and also provide recreational opportunity, spiritual renewal, and ecological and economic health for the region. We encourage people to enjoy and appreciate the natural world because we believe that successful conservation depends on this experience."

—The Appalachian Mountain Club Mission Statement.

In keeping with its core mission, when the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) decided to upgrade its Crawford Notch campus, it commissioned a design team to generate a sustainable master plan that integrated the disparate program elements of education, housing, lodging, and offices into a coherent whole. This plan included a detailed analysis of program needs and existing historic structures; an integrated and sustainable approach to site planning, architecture, and engineering; and an estimate of project costs. Once this master plan was completed, the architects assembled a project team that included both AMC staff members and board members.

Following a longtime AMC tradition, the design favors sensible, functionally proven, and cost-effective green technology over expensive, experimental green approaches. While a majority of the center's visitors come during the summer, it is active throughout the year. Given the harsh winter conditions—winds can reach as high as 100 miles per hour and the valley gets 13 feet of snow annually—the buildings' envelopes had to be designed to deal with these extremes. The result is a complex of six buildings that combines careful massing and siting with a rugged vernacular that is sympathetic to the renovated structures. The overall project has a cohesive and unself-conscious feel that is appropriate both to the Appalachian Mountain Club's institutional image and to Crawford Notch's natural beauty.


The local climate clearly pointed to the need for a well-insulated and airtight skin. Highland Lodge has 6>>-inch wall and 8M-inch roof wrap of panel-ized insulation and triple-glazed fiberglass single-hung windows. A centralized Garn biomass boiler, which cleanly burns locally harvested cord wood, scraps, and pallets, is the heart of the hot water in the multiple building heating system. Additional heat from ventilation exhaust and kitchen hot water use is harvested back to the buildings' heating system.

The ventilation system is designed to maximize fresh air intake, and almost all interior finishes contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Efficient building lighting augments good daylighting, which is achieved through a shallow building depth, interior windows, and an east-west orientation. Site lighting minimizes light spill onto adjacent areas and maintains a dark sky. The complex uses state-of-the-art septic and nitrogen removal systems.

THIS PAGE LEFT: The dining room features timber columns reclaimed from a harbor pier in Portland, Oregon.


Thayer Community Room.

THIS PAGE BOTTOM RIGHT: Looking into the Great Room.

OPPOSITE PAGE: The Great Room offers guests interaction with lodge tradition in the spirit of its historic structure.


The Highland Center contains three new buildings (Highland Lodge and Environmental Center, Garn Building, and Maintenance Structure), one restored structure (Thayer Hall), and two existing buildings (AMC's Shapleigh Studio and one nearby private cabin). An historic Railroad Station Visitor Center and its new adjoining structure (designed by others) are 600 feet to the south. All public structures and the site have green design exhibits that are part of both formal and informal tours. This campus layout allows both the public and the staff to share the complex's amenities in an informal, but effective, way.

The Highland Lodge, the largest structure of the complex, contains areas dedicated to environmental education, overnight lodging, dining/kitchen facilities, communal spaces, and support areas. The ground floor contains two teaching rooms, one workshop/ breakout meeting room, lodge/hostel front desk, lobby, living room, small and large dining rooms (120 guests) with related kitchen/server spaces, service dock, small trading post, and ample circulation with informal meeting places. The first floor has five connections to the exterior including three covered porches and landscape meeting places. The second and third floors house both hostel rooms and lodge rooms. The second floor has a library, and the third floor has a parlor.The basement contains a future recreation room, storage for teaching/camping equipment, laundry, kitchen storage, and utilities.

Thayer Hall, a 100-year-old hotel carriage house, required complete reconstruction; only the timber frame and brick pavers were reusable. Thayer Hall also houses multiple uses that include education, administration, meeting/conferences, exhibits, and staff

Latex And Whips Pee

ABOVE: Ground-floor plan of the Highland Center.

OPPOSITE: Site plan.

housing. The hall's main central space serves as a large meeting/conference space for 200 people. Two seminar teaching rooms, AMC staff offices, related support spaces, and a separate building entry suite for staff housing encircle the main central space on the first floor. Staffing is primarily on the second floor.

As the name implies, the Garn Building is a new structure housing the wood-fueled Garn biomass boiler, which provides heat and hot water for the lodge, Thayer Hall, and future structures. The small structure also has room for multiple-day wood storage, which is replenished as needed. There is also a maintenance building that is separated but visible from the center core. It houses AMC's construction and maintenance equipment and a small workshop. In addition, composting takes place just outside of the structure.

The Shapleigh Studio, the former painting studio of landscape painter Frank Henry Shapleigh, was relocated onto a new foundation and is now utilized as a library, meeting space, and studio for an artist or academic in residence.

The Carriage House restoration transformed a decaying 11,400-square-foot, timber-frame carriage house into an energy efficient, light-filled, multiuse building. The main central space, the Washburn Gallery, also provides an assembly room for 200 people. The perimeter spaces house AMC offices and conference/teaching rooms, and the second level provides dormitory rooms for AMC staff. The main building entry remains below the dormer. Separate staff offices and dormitory entrances were located to separate possible use conflicts.

""There are a number of reasons why a biomass boiler is appropri-I ate for the Appalachian Mountain Club. First, using sustainably I harvested wood, in concert with replanting trees in a managed forestry operation, moves toward carbon neutral energy production as HH opposed to adding to C02 levels utilizing fossil fuels. Second, in New ) Hampshire, wood is a locally produced fuel; thus, both transportation costs and the transportation-related use of fossil fuels are reduced. I Biomass energy production also puts into practice one of AMC's environmental efforts related to their Maine Woods Initiative. The initiative is dedicated to addressing regional economic and ecological needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, ^^ and community partnerships. Specifically, it develops markets for sustainably harvested forestry products. Finally, the biomass boiler is a practical, dependable, and proven sustainable energy technology.

The Highland Center heating plant is a nonpressurized, energy-storing wood-burning boiler called a Garn boiler. The combustion chamber, which can burn split wood and logs as well as scrap wood, is sealed and surrounded by a nonpressurized jacket of water that is heated and distributed to heat exchangers in the various buildings it serves. The water jacket also serves as a thermal storage feature that allows the boiler to maintain the system's designed water temperature range in between scheduled stokings of the boiler. Depending on fuel, the Garn boiler at the Highland Center is rated at 950,000 Btu/hr and has a storage capacity of 2,064,000 Btu (120 to 200°). With regard to emissions, the results of the 2006 test indicate that Garn has a particulate emission rate of 0.297 lb per 1,000,000 Btu input. This is 5 I percent below the proposed performance level for Phase I of the EPA voluntary program for hydronic wood-fired heaters. This program specifies a maximum particulate emission of 0.6 lb per 1,000,000 Btu input. The Garn boiler produces an average of I 5,000,000 Btu of heat from one cord of seasoned red oak (average of about 86 percent efficiency).

The system design for the Highland Center uses a central wood-fired biomass Garn boiler that heats three separate structures. The buildings are interconnected with a buried, highly insulated glycol heating loop. In each structure is a heat exchanger that transfers heat to a hot water fin-tube delivery system.

The biomass boiler is housed in a stand-alone boiler building with room for storing several cords of wood for seasoning and easy access for feeding the boiler. The stand-alone boiler building also houses the emergency electric generator (fueled with locally sourced biodiesel) and is the main distribution center for electricity throughout the Highland Center. This design allows for future use of the biomass boiler to function as an electrical cogeneration plant, which AMC envisions as producing more efficient and dependable electricity, in lieu of fossil fuel-generated and not always dependable electricity provided by the local power utility. Each building has its own biodiesel-fueled backup boiler to provide a redundant heating system. The modular biodiesel boilers work in tandem with the wood boiler supplying the last 10 percent of heating demand, allowing the biomass boiler to operate at its maximum efficiency even when heating and hot water demand is not at its maximum.

There are some unique challenges associated with the Garn system. The biomass boiler system is not an autofeed system like a wood chip or pellet biomass boiler, which feature hopper-style continuous fuel feeding. Instead, it is fueled much like a residential wood stove. The boiler must be opened and manually fed firewood, logs, or scrap lumber up to 48 inches. AMC made the decision to utilize the manual feed approach of the Garn with the understanding that the additional labor costs would be offset by lower fuel costs. Also, the process of stoking the boiler fits the historic image of the AMC that embodies an active, outdoors lifestyle.

The biomass boiler building design is important in making the storage and handling of wood very efficient. The goal is to reduce the number of times that the wood is actually handled. The staff brings o bins or pallets of wood into the building with a tractor, sliding it in ^J^ through an overhead door and positioning the bins so that staff moves the wood directly from the bin into the boiler.

Wood storage is another challenging aspect of utilizing a wood biomass boiler in this location, given the area's high snowfall, high « wind, and low winter temperatures. The Highland Center utilizes over 50 cords of wood during a heating season. This wood, if stored } on-site, needs to be covered and easily accessible to move into the biomass boiler building for use. In the severe winter microclimate at Crawford Notch in the White Mountains, wood must be under shelter in order to be available and in usable condition during the heating season. If left outdoors, the wood would be buried in snow and ice, resulting in inefficient fuel. Rather than building a separate structure for storing and stacking loose firewood, the AMC has developed a wood purchase/delivery system with scheduled deliveries of pallet cordwood minimizing the amount of wood stored on-site.

The Garn biomass boiler is most effective and efficient when running at high temperatures, so the engineering team purposely undersized the biomass boiler capacity so that when heating requirements are lower, the boiler is still running at close to peak capacity. During higher heating load conditions, the biodiesel modular backup boilers provide the extra capacity. The initial year of operation showed that running the biomass boiler at lower temperatures resulted in less efficient use of wood and more smoke output.

Prevailing winds were taken into consideration in the positioning of the boiler building to minimize smoke intake into the building's fresh air intake louvers and windows, which might be open during transitional seasons. Although efficient and clean burning, biomass boilers burning cord wood still create some amount of smoke and the smell of burning wood.

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