VLS to use $250,000 grant for Green Renovations in Clinics Building

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VLS to use $250,000 grant for Green Renovations in Clinics Building
June 23, 2010

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT –– Vermont Law School will use a $250,000 energy efficiency grant to help convert a historic building into a vibrant new center for legal advocacy. The grant was the largest of 14 grants totaling $1.7 million that the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund gave out to colleges, hospitals and other non-profits on June 16.

VLS will use the grant to completely renovate 190 Chelsea St., a two-story building overlooking the South Royalton town green. The building will be historically preserved and upgraded to high standards of energy efficiency using best green building practices.

The retrofitted structure will be the home of the South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC), which has outgrown its cramped quarters elsewhere on campus, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC), which operates as a law firm within a law school. The renovated building will give the SRLC 60 percent and the ENRLC 110 percent more space, respectively, than their current locations. Both clinics train law students and provide free legal services to the community.

Since 1979, the SRLC has served thousands of Vermont residents who are unable to afford counsel on issues such as children’s rights, immigration, family law, domestic violence, housing, health care and consumer protection. Last year, the SRLC provided approximately $1.5 million in free services. The ENRLC offers pro bono legal representation on environmental matters to organizations and individuals who would not otherwise have access to legal services.

“With this support from the Clean Energy Development Fund, the 190 Chelsea project can realize a synergy of environmental, economic and societal impacts that transcend the bricks and mortar required to breathe new life into an old building,” Dean Jeff Shields said. “Through this project, VLS has the distinctive opportunity to restore an historic downtown structure, reduce energy costs and consumption and expand our community and environmentally focused legal aid work.”

VLS has raised more than $1.4 million of the $3 million to $3.5 million needed to purchase, renovate and equip the clinics building. A formal fund-raising campaign kicks off in September. Tentative plans call for renovation to start in 2011 and be completed in 2012.

The site’s 11,000 square feet will give both clinics increased and improved space for the faculty, staff and student clinicians who often work late at night to meet case deadlines. The building also will become the new home of the VLS Barrister’s Book Shop, which will have an increased product line as well as outdoor and indoor seating that will serve students, faculty, staff and the community.

VLS, which has a history of award-winning historic preservation and energy efficiency projects, is working on the 190 Chelsea project with Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Efficiency Vermont provides technical assistance and financial incentives to households, businesses and schools to help reduce their energy costs with energy efficient equipment, lighting and approaches to construction and renovation. The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation is the public agency designated to be the advocate for historic properties in the state.

Many of the 190 Chelsea building’s exterior historic features will be maintained, but the interior was long ago altered, so it will be designed to fit the modern needs of the two legal clinics. The building’s insulation, heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing and other systems will be brought up to code. The result will be a rejuvenated structure that adheres to U.S. Interior Department standards for rehabilitation and is consistent with the law school’s commitment to environmental stewardship and public service.

More information on the SRLC and ENRLC is available on their VLS websites.

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