In 2004, when Middlebury College committed itself to cutting by 8 percent its carbon emissions - a pledge it would later strengthen, to full carbon neutrality by 2016 - "among the different actions that were identified, biomass was clearly one that could make a big difference," recalls Jack Byrne, sustainability coordinator at the renowned Vermont liberal-arts college.

"The other question it's important to ask, that we asked for our willow project, is: Okay, right now there's sufficient [fuel] capacity. But what happens five years from now, if many more people switch to wood as a fuel source, which is quite likely to happen?" -- Jack Byrne, Sustainability Coordinator, Middlebury College