The Nonotuck Story
In December 2007, Terraclime’s parent company participated in the purchase, through Nonotuck Mill LLC, of a 150,000 square foot brick and mortar mill building, located at 296 Nonotuck Street in Florence (Northampton), Massachusetts. The site, which eventually became known as the Nonotuck Mill, attracted its first industrialists (drawn to the natural 25-foot elevation drop in the Mill River adjacent to the building) in the 1830’s. The hydropower was soon expanded, and a silk plantation and processing factory was built. But in 1837, a nation-wide credit collapse caused the Mill to fall into bankruptcy.
This created the opportunity for the Northampton Association of Education and Industry (NAEI) to purchase the property. The NAEI was a utopian society which attempted to deal with some of the moral challenges faced by an agrarian society that was transforming itself to an industrial powerhouse, focusing heavily on the themes of education, slavery, fair wages, democracy, and religion. Their choice to purchase the hydro-powered mill and grow silk was both practical and moral. It was a profitable industry which did not rely on a morally troublesome slave trade to generate those profits. Over the next half a dozen years, the NAEI became an important stop on the Underground Railroad and a nationally important center for suffragist discourse, drawing residents and visitors such as Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas. As our nation’s third great credit collapse unwinds, Terraclime hopes to use this same site as a demonstration of the enduring capacity of American industry to reinvent itself in an effort to mitigate the moral challenges it faces: unsustainable development, climate change and fossil fuel consumption.
The Mill complex has been partly refurbished, with approximately 30,000 square feet currently leased as office space, including 5,200 square feet occupied by Terraclime and its parent company.
Additional current and pending uses of the complex include a practice arena for a local roller derby team, a fine art storage and shipping facility, headquarters for the Democracy Fund, research and development facility for Eclipse Fuel Management, and office facilities for Service Net- a provider of human services. The use of alternative energy processing at this facility has increased the marketability of the space, drawing entrepreneurial and established businesses alike.
Within this overall effort, Terraclime has already installed three different name brand ground source heat pump systems and three very different earth energy harvesting systems. The geothermal systems were designed to provide a “pilot scale” evaluation of three different geothermal technologies – 1) a traditional closed loop water system using U-loops in two 500-foot deep wells to provide 5 tons of capacity; 2) direct expansion (DX) geothermal using five copper taps drilled diagonally to a depth of 100 feet each to provide 5 tons of capacity; and 3) a Kelix Thermacouple™, an innovative coaxial, turbulent flow heat exchanger using one 300-foot borehole to provide 5 tons of heating and cooling. All three systems were completed and activated in July 2009. These systems will be compared to traditional roof top electric air conditioners and gas-fired heat provided to the building’s second floor tenant, located directly beneath the space occupied by Terraclime. Data acquisition equipment has been connected to all critical components of these systems.
We regularly hold open houses of our space so that interested parties can learn more about the mill, get hands on experience with operating geothermal systems, and learn more what we are all about. See the events section of the website to find out when the next event is being held.