Sustainability Tour

John Culpepper, legendary director of facilities and sustainability at North Country School / Camp Treetops, took our Pingry students around the NCS campus to learn more about their sustainability efforts. The primary focus of the tour was on energy and waste. How do they heat and power their campus? What do they do with their waste?

Touring NCS campus with John Culpepper


Anna & Chris scooping out 2.5 days of our group’s food waste, napkins, and paper towels. We weighed it, stirred it, and put it in the rotating drum digester.


Inside the open maw of the waste digester. Any organic waste (anything that used to be alive – plants, meat, grease, paper, cardboard, bones, egg shells, even some animals from the farm that die) can go in the digester, and about 28 days later – poof, compost!


John showing Natalie some finished compost – no smell! The black pipe in the background (standard road culvert) is the rotating drum digester, designed and built at NCS as a home-grown project.


Aeroponics lab – growing plants indoors, without soil.


The highly efficient wood-fired gasification boiler. This boiler (and others similar across campus) has air pollution controls making it roughly similar to burning natural gas in terms of air pollution, while allowing the school to reduce it’s fossil fuel use by 90%, as well as avoiding¬†the purchase of ~$90,000 worth of diesel fuel (heating oil) annually. Much of the fuel for these boilers comes from trees cut on the ~100 acres of campus forests, similar in size to the campus forest that Pingry has.