Blog : June 2011
Tim Roberts, the new manager of Seacoast Ace Hardware in Portsmouth (just off Lafayette Rd., behind the Pizza Hut and next to Heritage Storage), would seem to have retailing in his DNA: his parents owned a television store and a pet shop in Plaistow while he was growing up. And he wears his love of helping people like a badge of honor.
But it’s not every day when your friendly community hardware store owner can boast of having run the IT “help desk” at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, a world-renowned, federally-funded research and development center which develops technologies for national security. Especially when it’s someone as down to earth and humble as Roberts.
After helping out at his parents’ stores while growing up, Roberts started at Servistar, which was then bought by the Tru-Value chain. After 10 years learning the hardware business, he took his considerable technological acumen to Lincoln Labs as a self-described “information technology guy”, helping to keep the computer network up and running for some of the nation’s brightest engineering minds. While some would crack under the pressure of keeping a complicated and highly classified computer network running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it was Robert’s genuine love of helping people that served him well in that demanding role.
“I’m a people person,” Roberts exclaims enthusiastically. “I love helping people solve their problems, but I also love using technology to improve performance.” And Roberts is doing that in spades at Seacoast Ace: shortly after the Roberts’ family purchased the business, one of his first strategic goals was to modernize the business through a state of the art point-of-sale system that provides multiple benefits to his customers.
“This new system allows me to get a better handle on my inventory, have fewer stock outages, and improve accountability,” says Roberts. “But most importantly, it allows me to do a better job of staying stocked with the right amount of the right products. If I know I’m selling four units per week of a certain product, now I can place an order when I’m down to just one or two. Or, if I’m only selling one every two weeks, I know that I don’t need to carry 5 of them.”
Over the last few months, patrons of Durham staple Young’s Restaurant have been met with increasingly visual proof of the eatery’s growing commitment to green.
Of course, there’s the Green Alliance sticker displayed prominently on both the front window as well as at the cash register. And then there’s the increasing emphasis on local fare, which Young’s has taken to advertising directly on their menu.
But the restaurant is also rendering itself more sustainable in ways that might escape the naked eye. Take for instance the fact that, as of a month ago, 100% of Young’s energy was being purchased in the form of wind energy credits.
According to owner Ken Young, purchasing the wind credits – through Glacial Energy, a national energy market retailer – came about as a result of a comprehensive energy audit conducted by the Jordan Institute.
“There were a lot of recommendations that came about as a result of the energy audit,” recalls Young, whose family has owned the Durham restaurant since 1968 and has been established eatery for over 90 years. “We were really impressed with the fact that Glacial does all their mailing digitally, so after looking further into them, we decided they were the way to go.”
Instead of purchasing energy months or even years ahead of time, through Glacial, Young can now purchase his restaurant’s energy every few minutes – helping them save money they can then invest in their growing list of green initiatives.
While projected savings from purchasing energy from Glacial Energy are modest – Young estimates between 8 and 12% annually – by purchasing wind credits Young’s will just about break even. Young sees great promise in the allure of investing in green energy.
Written by Jim O'Brian
Originally published by ConservationNH
Back for the 2nd year, on July 28th the Green Alliance is hosting a summer gala aboard the MV Thomas Laighton and Conservation NH will be aboard!
The party starts at six and the boat is scheduled to depart by seven for a cruise around Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River. There will be a wine and cheese tasting, giveaways, drink specials, a raffle, and a Green Alliance Membership is included with your ticket purchase. Music will be provided by WXGR 101.5 FM and can be heard on all 3 decks as we cruise through Portsmouth passing by lighthouses, the Naval Prison, Fort Constitution and more!
Below is a guest blog from Northeastern University Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Rosanna Garcia, who has researched consumer adoption trends regarding alternative fuel vehicles.
Submitted by Dr. Rosanna Garcia:
Are you ready to buy an electric vehicle (EV)? Recent research I have conducted at Northeastern University with more than 7000 car owners shows that while most people favorably view alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), NIMG (not in my garage) prevails!
So what keeps consumers from buying EVs? My research shows two primary factors: “range anxiety’ and price-value tradeoff. Range anxiety is the fear that a driver will run out of battery power before they can find an outlet to refuel. Before there is mass adoption of significant changes must happen to the re-fueling infrastructure with more charging stations in more locations. As of date, the Department of Energy has listed 6 public charging stations in Massachusetts and 1 in New Hampshire. (See http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/electricity_locations.html for other states). This isn’t enough to cure that range anxiety. However, my research shows that consumers are willing to pay a slightly higher price for AFV compared to internal combustion engines if value is present.
Value comes in the form of lower maintenance, lower fuel prices, higher performance and lower impact on the environment. Some people argue that alternative fuel vehicles really aren’t that green if you’re burning coal to produce the electricity that powers these vechiles. In the near term, government agencies are looking at increasing the number of public charging stations, technology is rapidly changing for electricity generation and car batteries are exponentially improving, so I expect EVs and PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) to slowly enter the market place during the next 1-3 years, and to become more ubiquitous within 4-5 years.
I look forward to seeing an AFV in your garage soon.
Green Alliance Asst. Director Scott Szycher returns to alma mater, speaks at Sustainability in Innovation class
Through the courtesy of Assistant Professor Rosanna Garcia, I had the pleasure of returning to my one of my alma maters, Northeastern University, to speak and participate in her class, "Sustainability in Innovation". This 2-week class challenges students to develop product ideas with sustainability as a goal. The ideas these students (some of whom appear in the picture, with Dr. Garcia, second from right, and myself) developed included:
• An idea to eliminate DVRs by accessing television shows through the internet, and streaming content to televisions as NetFlix currently does. By eliminating “physical” DVRs, which tend to have a short consumer lifespan (3 - 5 years average), this would reduce energy usage, as well as the e-waste problem generated by the manufacture and disposal of these units and their components
• How the Executive MBA Program at Northeastern could significantly reduce its use of paper, by converting to a digital format for its textbooks and case studies.
• A green version of a diaper that would consist of an outer holder that gets reused and washed, with inner liners that could be flushed or composted. This would reduce the staggering volume of diapers that are landfilled each year.
• A green version of a Herman Miller sofa that would avoid the use of harmful synthetic materials dyes, and glues by using biological and technical nutrients during manufacturing and finishing.
• Prior to my arrival, there was a presentation about a “current stopper”, a device that could supplement multiple-outlet strips and help further reduce the “vampire load” of electricity that’s used when electronics are plugged in but not “on”, which still draw and use energy.
With new electronic devices permeating the market, most households and businesses now have a surplus of unused or unwanted computers, monitors, televisions, printers, cell phones, and VCRs. But all these devices contain components with hazardous substances that pollute our environment and groundwater when leaching out of landfills.
Instead of waiting for the yearly municipal hazardous material recycling day, or, far worse, inadvertently facilitating the shipment of these products to developing nations with few environmental laws, there's a solution: Metal Wave!
Headquartered in North Hampton, NH, and with a large facility in nearby Amesbury, MA, Metal Wave now offers consumers and businesses a transparent, domestic, and cost-effective option for end-of-life recycling for a variety of e-waste, medical equipment, and even automotive electronics.
Starting July 8, and running every Friday 11 AM - 3 PM, consumers can take take their unwanted electronics to Metal Wave's facility at 18 South Hunt Rd in Amesbury (conveniently located just 2 minutes off I-495, right next to the Amesbury Sports Park) with no appointments necessary, including:
One of the newest additions to Just Us Chickens, a non-profit artist cooperative in Kittery is Monte Nikkel, an amazing upcoming artist on the Seacoast. Monte who originally spent her life as a Nurse Midwife and Army Officer determined she needed a different calling after retiring and after years of relocating due to her profession. Monte says “I decided it was time for me to express my inner self through the art of jewelry making”. Having a background in knitting, Monte thought jewelry making would be more rewarding and not as time consuming. Starting her work with jewelry about five years ago, after recreating a necklace into two for both her and her sister, Monte fell in love with the process and created her business, Frog Hollow Wearable Art.
One of her main hopes through the process is to utilize all the natural resources that are available to her and try to make all items of her jewelry handmade. “My desire was to make as much of my jewelry from scratch as I could, The Zen in me brought me to glass and metal” says Monte. She is constantly drawing inspiration for her jewelry whether it’s from the shells on the beach to rocks that are found scattering the seacoast. Never leaving home without her molding clay, Monte says she has even made a mold from a table she once stumbled upon.
Obviously experienced in the jewelry making world, Monte has a few main techniques of jewelry making including Viking knit, chain maille, Kumihimo and metal clay. Each with its own individual personality these intricate wearable pieces of art provide Monte with a relaxing atmosphere to create. Both processes of “Kuminimo and Viking knit are close enough to my knitting roots so it’s very relaxing for me” says Monte.
Jewett Farms & Co., located at 58 Merrimac Street in beautiful downtown Newburyport, will be holding a huge flooring sale this weekend, and they're holding an open house to kick this sale (and this Summer) off the right way!
In addition to checking out their line of new flooring, which can help transform your living space into something you've always dreamed about, you can mix and mingle with the Jewett Farm team and friends and neighbors! Food and drink will be served, and you won't be disappointed to learn about the tender loving care Jewett Farms puts into all its efforts, or the sustainable way they procure their wood (and the results show!).
After you feast your eyes on the latest in design trends, natural and oil finishes, and their amazing woodwork, you'll agree with the Jewett Farms team that "It's simply about the wood"! The open house runs from 3 - 8 PM on Friday, June 24, and 9 AM - 4 PM on Saturday, June 25.
And don't forget, even if you're not in the market for flooring, Green Cardholders get an astounding 50% off their design services, so head on down to Newburyport and check out this open house!
You know about Redhook's legendary beers. You know about their pushing the envelope on green initiatives. And you may have recently learned about their committment to introducing an all-natural section of their menu that's antibiotic-free, chemical-free, and hormone-free...and delicious.
Now, we're delighted to announce that you can buy a Green Alliance Green Card right at Redhook's on-site pub, and get 10% off your food order! That's right: buy a Green Card at Redhook, and they'll take 10% off your food order, and you'll get all the discounts of Green Alliance membership at 90 green businesses across the region!
So head on over to Redhook and enjoy their delicious, healthy pub fare (no, that's not an oxymoron), and pick up a Green Card right from your server. Then enjoy discounts at restaurants, salons, banks, hardware stores, retail shops, and more all year long. And that will include free admission to the Green Alliance Summer cruise on July 28 on the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company (much more on that to come, but mark your calendar now!)
This Saturday, the Sierra Club is organizing local residents for a Hands Across the Sand event. Besides enjoying Wallis Sands State Beach, attendees will join hands for an act of solidarity against offshore drilling. Although there is currently no drilling on the Atlantic Seaboard, Energy Lobbyists are seeking to change that.
Current US energy policy focuses on maximizing short-term profit without addressing long-term consequences. Many new extraction technologies such as offshore drilling and natural gas fracking serve to squeeze the remaining amount of stored energy out of the ground. This may benefit our economy for a couple of decades but it will incur a greater debt.
Nowadays, we take such things as municipal sewer and septic systems for granted when it comes to human waste disposal. But for thousands of years, many civilizations have made prodigious use of human waste as fertilizer for croplands. In fact, during medieval times, excrement was collected from members of the ruling class, because it was believed their larger intake of food would produce more effective fertilizer!
But the advent of modern toilets and advanced sewer systems, along with the knowledge that untreated human waste may contain harmful pathogens, have largely relegated the use of human waste as fertilizer to developing nations.
However, modern composting toilets, including those manufactured by Sun-Mar, have now broken into the mainstream. These new models provide consumers with a waterless, clean, safe, and environmentally-friendly way of handling human waste without needing a septic system, a sewer connection, or a complex waste-processing unit.
“Composting toilets have come a long way,” said Jim Bruneau, general manager of Dover-based Middleton Building Supply, who stocks several models of composting toilets. “These things are perfect for boats, campgrounds, cottages, and even homes or basement offices where it’s either not possible, or cost-prohibitive to add plumbing.”
Bruneau often finds himself reassuring customers that the latest models of composting toilets are far superior to their notions of glorified outhouses. “These composting toilets have no smell, and use no chemicals. As long as you have an electricity source, these toilets evaporate the water content of human waste and capture any odors,“ he exclaimed. “Plus, because they’re waterless, you’ll definitely avoid a big water bill.”
In addition to exceptional convenience, composting toilets produce a safe fertilizing for budding farmers and gardeners. “By using aerobic digestion, the composting toilets we carry produce fertilizer that’s full of nutrients and is great for your garden, but without pollutants.”
By: Susan Harlow
NHBSR is a business organization that promotes social responsibility in New Hampshire through education, networking and promotion of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The Cornerstone Award is presented each year to a company, organization or individual that exemplifies the principles of corporate social responsibility and promotes those concepts in New Hampshire’s business community.
“NHBSR is honored to present the 2011 Cornerstone Award to Antioch University New England,” said Kate Luczko, NHBSR interim executive director. “[Antioch University New England] has been a longtime engaged member of NHBSR and has demonstrated its commitment to corporate social responsibility. It continues to strive to do more and serves as a role model for other New Hampshire organizations to follow.”
In giving the award, NHBSR noted many collaborative efforts by AUNE’s students, faculty and staff, including energy-saving initiatives in workspaces and the Community Garden Connections project, which is working to grow community gardens in Keene. It also noted projects to help businesses put CSR practices to work; Cool Monadnock, a three-year project to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the Monadnock region; and the 10% Challenge, a collaborative effort between AUNE and the City of Keene to help Keene businesses voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent.
The two other finalists for this year’s Cornerstone Award were Northeast Delta Dental and Sequoya Technologies Group. The award was announced at NHBSR’s eighth annual Spring Conference, held June 13 in Concord, New Hampshire.
The Green Alliance works closely with New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility and are current members.
Newmarket Dental a proud member of the GA, has long been active in sustainable dentistry and has made great strides over the last few years to better their dental practice. Dr. Nathan Swanson has been making sustainable changes around the office and his patients have begun to notice. Corn-based rinse cups and biodegradable toothbrushes have all been offered as well as a digital x-ray technology which cuts down radiation exposed to patients by 1/3. Provided toothbrushes are recycled Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups which helps reiterate that not only is Newmarket Dental interested in keeping its products and practices sustainable but local.
Now Newmarket Dental is excited to announce their newest practicing member Dr. Soojin Eriksen. Earning her degree from Tufts School of Dental Medicine in 2009, she has much to offer an already great dental practice. With the arrival of Dr. Eriksen will also come the option of Monday morning and Friday hours with the hope of making scheduling more convenient for patients.
Dr. Eriksen has found that working at a dental practice with green initiatives in mind has been very important to her. “In dental school, I realized the vast amount of waste my profession produces on a daily basis and this became a concern for me,” says Dr. Eriksen. “Like other dentists, I was not aware there were so many alternatives to the mainstream practices. Many dentists have switched to digital radiography, which has made a big difference by cutting down on lead and chemical use. Going "paperless" is another great way to cut down on waste as well.”
ReVision Energy held their Grand Opening Bash in Exeter last weekend to celebrate their new solar showroom which has already proved to be a great success. With evidence of partnerships at work, GA business partner Ezee Bikes Wheelies also attended the event, with their fantastic electric bikes in tow! A great time was had by all while enjoying local food, drink and live music.
Two weeks ago I set off on a road trip to West Virginia. Along the way the group grew to six college students. Our goal was to make it to the March on Blair Mountain for a weekend rally and protest against mountain top removal (MTR) coal mining.
Visiting an Appalachian community exposed me to things I have never had to live with: poverty, exploitation, government corruption, and severe environmental degradation. But I also saw a community resilience that made me proud.
Although there were many sad stories shared at the protest, there were many more that inspired me. The rally was meant to unite a broad coalition of local and national activists, union workers, and concerned citizens. Talking with so many involved and diverse people gave me the impression that residents of the state didn’t want their mountains blown up.