Posted at 08:15 AM in Alternative Energy, Carbon Emissions, Conservation, Corporate Citizenship, Current Affairs, Economics, Green Living, Greenhouse Gases, Local Companies & Services, Local Government, Policy Corner, Recycling | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
By Dan Burgess
After a brief summer hiatus, I am officially back to writing here at BGS. During this time away, there seemed to be a nonstop merry-go-round of disturbing environmental news. From the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the collapse of federal climate change legislation, you could forgive someone for not wanting to read the newspaper some days. However, despite this amalgam of bad news, the one thought I keep coming back to is how glad I am to live in a place that is leading the country in environmental policy and practices.
Recently, Massachusetts ranked second among states in the country in a Clean Energy State Leadership Scorecard by Clean Edge, INC. This ranking notes that Massachusetts is especially strong in research, innovation, and has a broad portfolio of clean energy sectors that are all growing at an impressive rate. This is certainly good news for the Commonwealth. The report also suggests many feasible recommendations for further clean energy growth, including a strong carbon-reduction plan and the creation of a 'Green Bank' (something suggested on this site last year).
The Coolidge Corner Theatre continues its Green Screens film series on Thursday, July 29 at 7:00 p.m with a one-night only presentation of INGREDIENTS, a critically acclaimed documentary that explores the thriving local food movement.
At the center of this movement are the passionate and committed farmers and chefs who are creating a sustainable food system. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in healthy, great-tasting food and greater consumer awareness about the benefits of eating local.
The city of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the most historically significant in the entire United States. From the Boston Tea Party to the famous ride of Paul Revere, Boston was a focal point for America in its fight for Independence from the British. Well known as a center for higher education, Boston and the immediate surrounding area is the home of Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Northeastern and dozens of other colleges and universities. It is also a very beautiful and picturesque city. While there is widespread consensus that it is important to keep Boston beautiful, talk is not enough. Following are 5 ways Boston could be more environmentally friendly.
The city of Boston could pass a law requiring more use of environmentally positive modes of transportation. They would reward good behavior and penalize non-compliance. You don't have to drive a car to get around the city. Cars are a major source of air pollution and discouraging their use could have a very positive effect on the environment. Boston has a very good public transportation system that can get you just about anywhere you want or need to go. Instead of driving, you could decide to take the "T" (Boston's subway system) when traveling around Boston and the surrounding cities. Buses can move a large number of people in a much more efficient way than an automobile. As a college town, taking a bike to get from point A to point B, is pretty common and it is environmentally friendly. Finally, Boston is a great walking city. Quincy Marketplace, Cambridge and the riverfront are great places to take a stroll and leave the car behind.
Driving Fuel Efficient Cars
Boston could have an incentive system for driving more fuel efficient cars. They might offer free parking if you have a fuel efficient car or give you a break on your city taxes. Most people still need to drive. If you are going to drive around the city, think about replacing your gas guzzling SUV with a more efficient, smaller car. If you can get 30 miles per gallon, you'll be using less fossil fuel and also saving a bunch of money at the gas pump. Small cars. Hybrid Cars. Electric cars. Buy one and you'll be doing your small part to help Boston be a little more environmentally friendly.
Replace Incandescent Lighting with High Efficiency Lighting
The city of Boston could require all buildings to have energy efficient
lighting or you could get fined.
This is a very simple way to have a big impact on energy usage in
Boston. Lighting technology has been advancing rapidly in recent years.
Those "twisty" light bulbs are now selling for much more affordable
prices then when they were first introduced. Fluorescent lighting
consumes far less energy than incandescent lighting. The most promising
new lighting that can have a mass appeal is LED lighting. If all the
businesses in the tall buildings in the downtown area eventually
converted to LED lighting, it would take only a small fraction of the
energy it now takes to light up the city.
The city of Boston could subsidize recycling making it more worthwhile to be conscientious and recycle. They might double the going rate for aluminum cans or set up special recycling stations where it would be convenient for the general public. Save your cans, save your bottles. Cardboard and newspaper can be recycled. Clothes can be recycled too. Instead of always going for "new", consider quality used merchandise.
Heavy fines for littering would discourage the careless practice. The city could hire enforcement agents who would be ready to ticket anyone they caught littering. Take it upon yourself to make an effort to throw your trash in a garbage can. When you see a plastic bottle or a stray candy wrapper, pick it up! Deposit it in the nearest receptacle. Do your part to keep Boston environmentally friendly.
Louise Baker is a freelance journalist and blogger who most recently wrote about online degree programs for the Zen College Life blog.
Posted at 10:30 AM in Conservation, Environment 101, Green Building & Architecture, Green Entrepreneurialism, Green Living, Greenhouse Gases, Local Government, Policy Corner, Recycling, Transportation | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
By Dan Burgess
Over the past two months, the members of Boston’s new Community Advisory Committee on Climate Action have been holding Community Workshops throughout the city. These workshops, open to the public, were held to gather community feedback regarding the current draft plan for climate action in Boston.
Broken into two sections, these well-attended community meetings covered Boston’s greenhouse gas reduction goal strategy and ideas on engaging the community. Using keypad polling, the Climate Committee was able to get instant feedback from the audience regarding the Committee's potential policy recommendations. While I haven’t seen the results from the polling, here are a few of the interesting policy suggestions that the Climate Committee is likely to recommend to the Mayor this Spring.
Pay-As-You-Throw: This program, common in numerous places in the United States and even here in Massachusetts, would charge for each bag or container of trash that is thrown out. This would encourage residents to be efficient with their waste and would certainly decrease the amount of non-recyclable waste from our city. While recyclables and food waste would be free, this is certain to be controversial with some Boston residents.
By Dan Burgess
Posted at 04:29 PM in Alternative Energy, Carbon Emissions, Current Affairs, Economics, Environment 101, Green Entrepreneurialism, Green Jobs, Land Development, Local Companies & Services, Local Government, National & International Government, Policy Corner | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Posted at 12:33 PM in Alternative Energy, Carbon Emissions, Environment 101, Green Building & Architecture, Green Jobs, Local Government, National & International Government, Policy Corner | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
by Dan Burgess, Boston GreenScene's Policy Corner Commentator
While originally introduced in 1997, RPS were significantly expanded as a part of the Green Communities Act. The Green Communities Act mandated that qualifying Massachusetts utility companies comply with a RPS that increases by 1% per year until 2020, to 15% of total generation. According to a 2008 study performed by the Department of Renewable Energy Resources (DOER) and the Renewable Energy Trust, “Projects in Massachusetts currently under construction, design, or consideration, if approved and developed, would generate 3.7 million MWh. Completion of these projects would meet roughly half of the RPS obligation, leaving an additional 3.8 MWh to be met from other renewable sources.”To meet the RPS mandated by Massachusetts, utility companies will solicit competitive bids from large clean electricity producers. If these utility companies do not meet the renewable standards set, they will be forced to submit an alternative compliance payment derived from the Consumer Price Index of the preceding year. While this process, known as tendering, will help to encourage an additional 3.8 MWh of clean energy production over the next eleven years, it is ultimately unclear that this RPS will have a positive economic impact on more than a few clean energy investors.
by Dan Burgess, Boston GreenScene's Policy Corner Commentator
Over the past week, the world has turned its attention to climate negotiations in Denmark. This greatly anticipated global meeting seeks to find a collective agreement among over 200 nations regarding climate change policies and emissions reduction goals. This event is almost certainly the most important gathering to be focused on the environment in the history of the planet. If somehow you aren’t convinced the entire world is focused on Copenhagen, read last Monday’s editorial that was printed in 56 newspapers in 45 countries (or turn on your TV, listen to the radio, or open an Internet browser)Unfortunately for me, life does not take a break to follow the events and I am unable to write about Boston GreenScene’s high hopes for success in Copenhagen. I am however, fortunate enough to be researching Massachusetts clean energy policy and in light of this research, this week’s Policy Corner will focus on an integral policy in Massachusetts clean energy strategy: net metering.
Net metering is one of the most common forms of clean energy incentives policies in the United States. Generally stated, net metering is a state policy that allows energy customers to use and get credit for unused electricity that is created by a renewable energy system. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), “42 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia have net metering policies.”
The below map shows a snapshot of states with net metering policies as of July 2009.
by Dan Burgess, Boston GreenScene's Policy Corner CommentatorAs the environmental policy debate continues to ramp up both abroad and here at home, a useful new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was released and provides us with a snapshot of how the United States, and the state of Massachusetts, are performing. The NREL report, titled ‘State of the States 2009: Renewable Energy Development and the Role of Policy,’ is a comprehensive snapshot of the United States renewable energy production by state. Derived from renewable energy information collected between 2001 and 2007, the report clearly demonstrates how effective, or futile, the United States clean energy strategy has been and the role Massachusetts is playing in comparison to other states. While the data does not show results from the most recent legislative efforts made by Governor Patrick, the figures do serve as a good yardstick to gauge overall efforts. The following comes from the 212 page report: