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This Alpes-Martimes Community Heats Its Public Buildings...

This Alpes-Martimes Community Heats Its Public Buildings with Olive Pits

Starting this year, the town of Broc, France is using olive pits to heat several of its public buildings. This has been key to big savings. Individuals and households using wood pellet or grain burning heating systems can also adopt this new fuel. By installing a wood furnace in 2005 to heat the communal olive mill,

View of Broc, France

Starting this year, the town of Broc, France is using olive pits to heat several of its public buildings. This has been key to big savings. Individuals and households using wood pellet or grain burning heating systems can also adopt this new fuel.

By installing a wood furnace in 2005 to heat the communal olive mill, the cultural center and the nursery, the town has already established itself as an innovator in sustainable energy.

Broc has taken another step this year: in the furnace, recycled wood pellets or grains have been replaced with the pits of the olives pressed at the mill. A green, free source of energy, without the carbon cost of transporting them, as the mill is in immediate proximity to the furnace.

The installation of an olive pit separator allows the recuperation of the pits after the oil is extracted. Only the pulp is now composted at the Center of Organic Waste Recycling.

With more than 215 tons of olives pressed this season (ending on January 30), 35 tons of pits have been recuperated.

“The idea is not to start a business, but to benefit the citizens of Broc.” The mayor, Philippe Heura, explained the decision was unanimous: “We need around 25 tons a year. The rest creates a storage issue. We have thus decided to sell the olive pits to anyone who has a wood pellet stove. This works very well and leaves practically no ash.”   

Olive Mill in Broc, France

Interested buyers are not necessarily only inhabitants of Broc. “Those who come to press their olives in Broc come from all over the region,” states Émile Tornatore, former mayor, community official, and official in-charge of the mill.

The price beats any competition: 20 euro cents per kilogram (20 euro cents per 2.2 lbs.) in bulk, in a big bag provided by the community, and 30 euro cents in smaller packages. The difference between the two is due to handling and storage. The price point is explained by the mayor: “We compared prices with the sale of wood pellets: 41 euro cents per kilogram (41 euro cents/2.2 lbs.) in bags and 32 per kilogram (32 euro cents/2.2 lbs.) in bulk.”

The cherry—or olive—on the cake? This operation has not only ecological merits, but the community gains financially as well. A little gain from selling, lots from the replacement of wood pellets for a free, much more effective fuel, and from the savings generated by not having to recycle the pits: “This year cost us three trips to the recycling center and 1,000 euros to get rid of the pulp. In other years, it was much more expensive. In the end, we saved 15,000 euros,” concluded Heura, more than a little proud of the whole operation.  

What type of fuel heats the public buildings in your community? Do you personally use any kinds of sustainable fuel? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in French here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Carmen Phillips is a graduate of Oberlin College and is currently pursuing her masters in French Translation at Kent State University. Carmen spent the last year in Lyon, France teaching English to primary school children and had the opportunity to i...

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