A special capital project to rehabilitate this historic barn as an inspiring gathering center for educators and the community.

Coach Barn arch


The historic Coach Barn with its spacious halls, large courtyard, and sweeping lawns, is one of the best known barns in Vermont and is an important contributor to Shelburne Farms’ designation as a National Historic Landmark. The beautiful architecture and magnificent location overlooking Lake Champlain make the Coach Barn an inspirational space as the home of the Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools, and for convening community events.

Each year more than 1,500 educators from Vermont and around the world participate in our programs at the Coach Barn. The Institute for Sustainable Schools is the hub for all professional learning offered through Shelburne Farms - from our nationally recognized Farm to School Institute to our new Education for Sustainability (EFS) Graduate Certificate Program with UVM.

Despite decades of use, the Coach Barn has had few improvements over the years:

  • It is the only historic barn on the property without a fire detection and suppression system.
  • Critical updates are needed for electrical, lighting, and security systems.
  • The aged oil boiler is overdue to be replaced with an energy efficient, geothermal ground source water to air heat pump system for heating and cooling that is aligned with the nonprofit’s commitment to sustainability. 

Rehabilitation plans include a new teaching kitchen for adult and family programs and for educator retreats. Serving delicious food links the Farm’s food system and sustainable agriculture practices to the magic of learning at Shelburne Farms. A new kitchen will enable guests to enjoy farm-fresh meals prepared and shared at workshops, events and gatherings.

In 2022, the US Department of Interior awarded Shelburne Farms a Save America’s Treasure grant for this project. This $500,000 grant through the National Park Service is highly competitive and requires dollar-for-dollar matching funds.  Work on the Coach Barn will begin in late 2024. Below are renderings of the project thanks to our longtime partners SAS Architects, and a more detailed description of the geothermal system.

A Virtual Tour of the Future Coach Barn

New Geothermal System

The new ground-source heat pump system uses a closed loop of pipe that circulates water through ten 500-foot boreholes to harness the consistent temperature of the earth. Year-round in Vermont, underground temperatures remain at about 50 degrees. Water-filled pipes at about the depth of a water well absorb this temperature and deliver it to heat pumps inside the building. These ground (or water-to-air) heat pumps compress that moderate temperature into heating. The same heat pumps can also cool a building by removing heat from the space and sending that warmer temperature back underground. Being able to both heat and cool the space means that the Coach Barn will be available for programs and events in any season.

This type of ground-source system is much more efficient, longer-lasting, and lower maintenance than an air-source system which uses highly variable outdoor air temperatures to heat or cool, requiring more electricity to run the system. 

When paired with the solar energy Shelburne Farms is already producing and purchasing, this system will make the Coach Barn a Net-Zero and carbon free building.

Benefits of Geothermal:

  • Energy Efficient heating and cooling
  • No fossil fuel/greenhouse gas emissions
  • Low operating and maintenance costs
  • High indoor air quality

Contact us to learn more about the Coach Barn Project