Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ugly Truth Behind Organic Food | | AlterNet

An interesting article about organic food and farmworkers. Can we unite both environmental and social goals through our food?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Energy Efficiency in the Home

From our friends at UCS:

Don’t Toss Money out the Window
May 2009
Read this issue of Greentips online

Windows let the sunshine in, but in many cases they also let the heat in (or out, in the winter). According to the Department of Energy, heat transfer through windows can account for 10 to 25 percent of your heating and air conditioning costs. Older, single-paned windows are the biggest energy wasters.

Replacing older windows with energy-efficient ones can be expensive, but will save you money in the long run by reducing your energy use as much as 30 percent. Energy Star-rated windows are twice as efficient as typical models sold just 10 years ago. A variety of factors determine a window’s energy efficiency:

  • Solar heat. A window’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), a value ranging from 0 to 1, indicates the fraction of incoming solar radiation admitted through a window. The higher the number, the more heat will be transmitted, so you want a high value in colder climates (to take advantage of free heat provided by sunlight) and a low value in warmer climates (to keep heat out and lower cooling costs).

  • Heat transfer. The rate of heat transfer between the inside and outside of a home (unrelated to solar radiation) is known as a window’s U-factor, which generally ranges from 0.2 to 1.2. The lower the value, the less heat is lost from your home—especially helpful during the winter. Some double- or triple-paned windows also contain argon, an inert gas, between the panes to minimize heat transfer.

  • Glazing. Most energy-efficient windows are coated to help reduce heat transfer. Low-emissivity (or “Low-E”) coatings, composed of microscopic metal particles, reduce heat transfer by 40 to 70 percent while still allowing most light through. Tinted and reflective glass are also available, but they block some incoming sunlight as well.

  • Framing. Aluminum is a poor choice for window frames because it conducts heat readily.

Cost Considerations

Windows purchased in 2009 or 2010 that meet specific efficiency criteria are eligible for a federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the purchase price (up to a maximum of $1,500 for all qualifying home improvements). See the Related Resources for information on eligibility criteria.

If you can’t replace your old windows now, there are other steps you can take:

  • Seal air leaks around windows with caulk or weatherstripping.

  • Affix Low-E coated film directly to windows to help reduce heat loss.

  • Install storm windows to reduce heat loss from single-pane windows by 25 to 50 percent. Low-E storm windows can cost less than a new energy-efficient window.

  • Use insulating window treatments including shades, curtains, blinds, or awnings to block incoming sunlight in summer and keep heat in during the winter.


Efficient Windows Collaborative

Department of Energy—Window Tips

Energy Star—Rebates and Tax Credits for Windows, Doors, and Skylights

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grow Your Own

It's amazing to see the growth of the local food movement in the past year. I've mushed over it before, but if you need inspiration to get on the path, please read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. You can also visit this part of her site to see photos about how people are growing veggies in their front yards; I find it so inspiring to read about these normal folks, making a big difference in their community food security, health, environment, and tastebuds!

I'm no master gardener, by any stretch. Lucky for me, Boulder recently had a free "Vegetable Gardening for Beginners" workshop. Massachusetts has much more fertile soil than Colorado (and also the absence of summer hail, high winds, oppressive UV radiation, dry conditions, etc.), so I really needed this workshop. I learned what grows super easily here (radishes, tomatoes, potatoes, and greens), what it's possible to grow with some care and attention (lettuce, strawberries, peas and beans), and what does not do so well (carrots, asparagus). I'm really excited to get my plants in the ground, but around these parts I learned I have to wait until after the danger of the last hard frost, which is May 15th. And all that the presenters required of the sixty or so participants was an agreement to share the harvest with neighbors, friends, or Community Food Share. How is THAT for walking the walk! I'm so excited to get my hands dirty; show my kids again the wonders of growing food from seed; eat some yummy, healthy, organically grown food; and share it with people who need it!

EPA rules on Greenhouse Gases

I didn't hear this bit of news until today, so I thought I'd share with you:

April 17, 2009:
Ecological Internet (EI) welcomes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ruling today that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases "may endanger public health or welfare", a finding that opens to door to future regulation of such emissions under the Clean Air Act. EI continues to demand that emission cuts be fast and large, that Congress not weaken planned E.P.A. carbon regulation, and that Congress abandon cap and trade legislation for a simple, highly effective, carbon tax. And that the U.S. leads at Copenhagen or feel the consequences.

The E.P.A said in its proposed endangerment finding that "based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that... these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate." Human health and welfare was thus threatened by increased severity and intensity of storms; more frequent drought, heatwaves, and forest fires; rising sea levels; and harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

Merrimack Valley Green Energy Environmental Summit

The Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
The Merrimack Valley Green Energy Environmental Summit
Keynote presentations by
Mass. Secretary Ian Bowles,
Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Representative Barry Finegold, Chairman
Telecommunications, Utlities and Energy Committee
A special panel of local experts to assist you to reduce your energy costs now:
As you face the every struggle with the high costs of energy for your cars/trucs, businesses, building and home, Your Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce has been working to help you address how you might reduce your energy costs NOW!!
If you are a business or homeowner in the Merrimack Valley
you can't afford to miss this program!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Osgood Landing, 1600 Osgood Street, North Andover, MA
Thank you to your Sponsors: Title: Wheelabrator, North Andover
Program: Osgood Landing, Solectria Renewables
Associate: National Grid
Media: Eagle Tribune Publishing
Your Company Name Could Be Here/ Call for sponsorship information
Includes Full Breakfast
Members $20.00 MVCC Energy Summit Non-Members $30.00
Thursday, May 14,2009
Please make ____ reservations
Name(s) ________________________________________ Company ______________________________
Check enclosed _________Pay at door________ Bill my account_______ Credit Card _____--
Amex Mastercard Visa#________________________________________ exp. date_________
Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, 264 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA 01840
Tel#978-686-0900 Fax#978-794-9953
This registration confirms your attendance

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Green Business Summit

Join the Boston Business Journal on May 15th, 2009 as we honor the most innovative and effective leaders advancing "green" workplace policies in Greater Boston.
We will award honorees in the following categories: Innovation, Invention, Design, & Workplace:
Click here to see the honorees.

The morning will also feature a keynote by Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Panel discussion including:

Gideon Gradman, Vice President of Corporate Development with Ze-Gen Inc.

Jeff Andrews, Partner at Atlas Venture

John P. DeVillars, Partner Bluewave Strategies

Click here to register!

Green Business Summit
Friday, May 15, 2009 7:00am
Sheraton Boston Hotel

Bowditch & Dewey LLP
National Grid
Thomas G. Gallagher

Earthworks call for volunteers!

From Earthworks, an urgent call for volunteers this Thursday!

We are in the midst of establishing a new garden at the Hurley School in Boston's South End. Due to a shortfall of volunteers last weekend, we are putting out an urgent call for help so that we can complete the project. Please join us on Thursday evening for any amount of time between 4-8pm or on Sunday from 12-4pm.
The project involves restoring a garden space to include edible and insect-attracting plants for our Outdoor Classroom students to study, care for, and harvest. The program at the Hurley School serves over 100 kids with hands on environmental science lessons twice a week.
Volunteering is also a good opportunity to learn about organic techniques and using edibles in the landscape. Please respond to this message or call our office if you are interested in signing up. We will provide instructions and directions for the events.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bee Demonstration at MIT!

From our partners:

I'd like to let you know about "Buccaneers of Buzz: Celebrating
the Honeybee" - a multi-media tapdance, voice, video and marimba
extravaganza about beekeepers and their bees. This amazing piece
by Rialto Arts has been awarded a Gold Star by the Massachusetts
Cultural Council. I am privileged to be on the board of Rialto
Arts (, a small non-profit with a mission
of bringing nature and the performance arts together. Please
consider attending the wonderful performance, being staged as
part of the Cambridge Science Fair

May 1, 2 and 3
Broad Institute Auditorium, MIT
7 Cambridge Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

Friday, May 1 at 7:30 PM - 6:45 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A
Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 PM - 6:45 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A
Sunday, May 3 at 4:00 PM - 3:15 hive demonstration and
bee-keeping Q&A

Miranda Loud, Artistic Director, concept
with Brian Jones, tap/narration,
Yuko Yoshikawa, marimba,
Miranda Loud, film, additional music and vocals

Tickets at the door or
$20 general
$15 students/seniors
children 12 and under free
(no children under 6, please)

Monday, April 27, 2009

TONIGHT - Freshwater Forum at MIT

Please join us tonight for a discussion about communities organizing to protect fresh waterways in New England! It will be a very interesting presentation and discussion. It will also be a great way to network and see other fellows from the region. I hope that you can make it! More information is below and on our website.

Monday, April 27th - Tonight!
Fresh Water and Waterways in New England
MIT School of Architecture and Planning
77 Massachusetts Ave - Stella Room
Cambridge, MA 02139
($10 Suggested donation)
Register here: or at the door

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ask Johnson & Johnson to Stop Using Carcinogens in Baby Products

From our partners:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report revealing that toxic chemicals, like 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, are in baby products. Both of these chemicals cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde is also known to cause skin rashes in people who are sensitive to the chemical.

Johnson & Johnson responded by saying "The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth,” and the Campaign should stop “alarming” parents. Please email Johnson & Johnson and let them know that that "a little bit of carcinogen in baby shampoo is OK" is NOT an acceptable stance! Click here to act