Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Monday, October 25, 2010

DIY Alternative Hot Water System

Our first-ever DIY Alternative Hot Water System class was a success, building a "Jean Pain Mound" in nearby Fayston out of woodchips which will passively heat domestic hot water for a family for the next 18-24 months.

The French farmer/inventor Jean Pain became famous for his innovative ideas about the interrelationship between agriculture and energy production. One of his concepts, the Pain Mound, focused on the use of woody biomass as an effective compost material while collecting heat from the composting process.

This prototype mound will produce 110-degree water at a constant rate of ½-gallon per minute, by flowing well water through the coil built into the mound of composting wood-chips and mulch. This temperature-gain and flow-rate represents enough btu-value to heat a typical 1000-square foot home with a radiant floor heating system.

Participants built the mound (with assistance from a small excavator) by spreading 8 inch-thick layers of mulch over water-line coils and thoroughly soaking each layer with water. Students also learned about the history of Jean Pain via excerpts from his writings and a documentary film.

For more information about this system, please visit which includes links to the documentary film and other resources.

Here's the class on top of the completed mound.

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