The Jackson County Green Energy Park turns a bad thing into lots of good ones. Located next to an old county landfill, the Park utilizes the methane from the decomposition of waste to create energy. When methane is burned, it turns into carbon dioxide and oxygen.
This energy produced from the methane is used to heat furnaces for glass making, kilns for ceramics, and forges for blacksmithing. Gas for heating a glass furnace is typically the largest cost for glass artists, so the use of methane allows the park to offer affordable rent to artists seeking studio space. The Glass Studio is one of the only hot shops in the world utilizing landfill methane gas as a fuel. An Anagama Kiln, modeled on an ancient Japanese design, is fired using wood and waste vegetable oil as fuels and is available for public firings several times throughout the year. The Metals Shop features the first blacksmith forges and art foundry ever fired on landfill gas.
The 281 tons of methane that the park keeps from entering the atmosphere each year equal:
• Removing 916 vehicles off the road, or
• Planting 1,305 acres of forest, or
• Preventing the use of 11,104 barrels of oil, or
• Displacing the use of 521,870 gallons of gas.
Visitors to the Green Energy Park can enjoy work made on the premises by multiple artists on display and for sale in the gallery. They can also tour the facility and see the craft process at work. The community studio is home to a number of artists, including glass artist Judy McManus, who has been working in the glass studio for nearly 10 years. Her work on display and for sale includes vessels, goblets, tumblers, bowls, and vases displaying swirls of color.
An outdoor Sculpture Garden features work by the winners of the Green Energy Park sculpture competitions, along with other pieces by local artists. Once a year, the Youth Arts Festival features 30 artists giving demos and hands-on experiences. It was at one of these festivals that young people were invited to paint the murals that decorate the outside of the building.