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Green Wood, Green Energy

((Filmed early in the pandemic))
((Banner: Green Wood, Green Energy))
((Reporter: Martin Secrest))
((Camera: Phillip Alexiou, Martin Secrest))
((Map: Charlottesville, Virginia))
((Main character: 1 male))
((Popup Banner:
University of Virginia graduate Andrew Sparks and wife Emily are
building a solar kiln for drying wood))
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
I’d say that I was always a person that liked to tinker with stuff,
tinker with Legos, so on and so forth. But it wasn’t really until I
got here to UVA [University of Virginia], had access to the
woodshop, that I realized that I really liked, you know,
((Popup Banner:
Newly-cut wood must be dried to stabilize it for projects))
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
I’ve been just following the plans and the instructions that I found
and that should hold up for a good while.
((NATS: Andrew Sparks))
These are a little, there you go. There’s some ‘shorties.’
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
This is about a year into an idea to try and make something out of
the logs that are, you know, already coming down across campus
and to mill some wood.
((NATS: Andrew Sparks))
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
All the insides of the kiln will be painted black, but the roof is
clear. So, it’s going to let the sunlight in and heat up that space
a lot. But at the same time, we need fans to be moving that
heated and now more humid air. So, we’re actually going to have
some solar panels out in the front and those will power the fans
and push that hot air out and through vents in the doors. You get
that power from the commercial kiln of really, kind of, ‘cooking’ the
wood but you get that same kind of heat-and-cool cycle that you
get with air drying outside.
((NATS: Andrew Sparks))
Alright, here are two more.
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
She’s been awesome. She’s been a great support. And a lot of
things, I think, she’s pretty comfortable with. She actually also
worked in the woodshop this last year while she was enrolled in a
program here at the university. But before that she was, I think, a
little bit on the edges of what all of this was. But as I’ve just come
home every day and been really excited about it and talked about
what we’re doing, I think she’s gotten more comfortable with it
all. Yeah, she’s been a great help here.
((NATS: Andrew Sparks))
Sure, I can come cut a piece.
((Andrew Sparks, Landscape Architect))
It’s been a few weeks now and we’ve made some more
progress. We’ve got the outside coated with some good exterior
paint and we’ve also got the roof on and a few coats of this black
paint. And let me tell you, it sure is dang hot in here. All we’ve
got left to do is to put some vents in the doors because the fans
will be hanging down about here, right? And so those will suck air
in and push it down and through the stack and that will vent
out. You know, basically we’ll get quite a few logs in here. They’ll
come up to, you know, about this height, right? So, about waist-
height and we’ll stack those really nicely and we’ll monitor those
as they dry. In this kind of heat, we’ll probably see a load of
poplar, which you can dry pretty fast. We could probably get that
out of here in five weeks, which would be great. Yeah, hopefully
we’ll start munching through our good log pile here.
((NATS: Andrew Sparks))
There we go. All buttoned up.