Blog : November 2011
Join us for what promises to be the greenest holiday party of the year! The Green Alliance and Portsmouth Green Drinks invite you to celebrate with us at our Holiday Bash on Thursday, December 15th from 7:00-9:00 PM at Two Ceres Street – Portsmouth’s own green martini bar!
Come enjoy drink specials, appetizers, Green Alliance giveaways, and just-released sustainability scores for America's Fortune 500 companies. Mike Bellamente from Climate Counts will be on hand to reveal the top green companies, as well as who's falling short.
We'll also collectively brainstorm some top sustainability-minded New Year's resolutions, to help make our community greener!
All this while basking in warmth emanating from Two Ceres Street’s fireplace.
Several Green Alliance Business Partners are offering significant discounts to Green Cardholders during the 2011 holiday shopping season. These include substantail savings on premium wood stoves at Greenovations; on gift memberships at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire; on countertops and cabinets from Visions Kitchens; and on 2012-season gift certificates on The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company. If you are not a member yet, now is the perfect time of year to join, or buy a Green Alliance Gift Package chock full of green savings, including a $10 gift certificate to Acorn Organic Salon in Dover and Exeter and a duruable GA tote bag made from 50% recycled materials that you can pickup at the new GA office (75 Congress Congress in downtown Portsmouth, NH). Then come to the Green Alliance Holiday Bash on December 15 and ring in the holidays with new green friends!
1st, while we've had a remarkably mild November, colder air is on the way, and with it comes the need for heat. Instead of firing up the furnace and resigning yourself to expensive monthly heating bills, why not consider a gorgeous Rais wood stove, available at Greenovations, Portsmouth's premier green building supply store? Plus, owner Christopher Ring is offering Green Cardholders $325 off a Rais wood stove when you purchase one between now and Christmas Eve! Take advantage of the warmth and beauty of a Rais stove while you heat your home or office with wood, New England's original renewable energy source.
If you're a parent, family member or guardian who wants to give a child a gift of education and exploration that keeps on giving, consider this special deal from our friends at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. They're offering Green Cardholders 10% off the purchase of ASTC/ACM Reciprocal Gift Memberships through December 31, 2011. This membership offers a full year of admission to the Children's Museum of NH for a family of any size, plus complimentary admission benefits at more than 400 children's museums and science centers around the country! Normally priced at $120 per year (already a bargain), this membership will be available to Green Alliance members at the discounted price of just $108 per year. This museum membership makes a terrific long-lasting gift for friends or family members with young children, or for child-care providers and teachers. Gift memberships packets, including museum information and lists of participating museums, can be mailed directly to recipients or sent to the buyer. Memberships are activated on the date of the recipient's first visit. For more information, call 603-742-2002, and have your valid Green Card # handy.
A little over a week ago, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would provide tax credits of 30% for specific residential efficiency measures which help reduce a home’s energy bill.
Known as the Cut Energy Bills at Home Act, the bill – which will result in rebates of anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 – was sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA).
If passed into law, the bill would be the nation’s first ever performance-based tax credit for home efficiency improvements.
A previous, much more limited law providing a 10 percent tax credit – for up to $500, and towards a far more limited range of upgrades – is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Unlike the soon-to-be expired legislation, the Cut Energy Bills at Home Act provides tax credits for actual energy savings.
Not only will this bill help save consumers and homeowners significant amounts of money on their energy bills; but will also help spur growth in the construction, green energy, and home audit industries as well.
Ed Henningsen, owner of the Eliot-based Henningsen Inspections, is excited by what the legislation could mean to home owners in need of weatherizing their homes.
“Most of the homes I’ve audited have calculated energy reductions anywhere from 30 to over 50%,” says Henningsen. “In many cases the costs to the home owner to achieve this level of reduction is less than $10,000. So, this bill if passed could cover up to half of the cost to the homeowner. They save money on heating and then on the improvement cost."
In Maine, where Henningsen conducts a vast majority of his audits, Efficiency Maine’s PACE Loan and SEI’s Loan programs are available for those interested in low interest energy efficiency funding.
Needless to say, the current legislation represents a measured and thoughtful step forward for our country and its environmental and financial future.
But the fight is far from over: Now more than ever, the American people must make their voices heard, and let Congress know that this bill – while a modest step towards a clean, green future – is still a step in the right direction.
For a complete list of Congressional Representatives and their contact information, click here.
Riverworks Tavern and Restaurant invites you to "Skip the mall and keep your holiday dollars local!" by buying gifts at their 4th Annual Shop Local Event.
"Local craftsmen and artists will come together in our upstairs dining room for a unique and eco-friendly holiday shopping experience," according to the restaurant's staff.
The event runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Riverworks Bar and Tavern is located at 164 Main St. in historic downtown Newmarket, NH.
While you’re there, enjoy a hearty meal. Green Alliance members save 10% on all food at the Riverworks when you use your Green Card. Not a member yet? Stop by our booth at the 4th Annual Shop Local Event and join the GA for just $25 - that's $10 off the usual cost of membership.
This year's Shop Local Event is part of Christmas in Newmarket, an all day event. Start your day early on December 3 with a holiday edition of the Newmarket Farmers' Market. Spend the afternoon shopping for arts and crafts before attending a traditional tree lighting ceremony in the evening, followed by music and a fundraiser for KIVA at the Stone Church. Visit the Christmas in Newmarket Facebook page for more information.
For more information about The Riverworks 4th Annual Shop Local Event, please contact Sarah at email@example.com.
Even though New England is experiencing an exceptionally mild November, that doesn't stop the sun from going down at 4:30 PM. Mild temps or not, we still need lighting products to make it through our dark Winters.
That's why the merger of Harbor Lights and the Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric presents a great savings opportunity. Between now and year end, everything in stock at Harbor Lights is 50% off. That's right: 50% off!
Could your kid's room use a little more light so Junior can see his homework? Does your wife need updated lighting for her kitchen or dining room? Does your husband need some sort of light for his man cave? Harbor Lights has the solutions, and at 50% off, now's a great time to take advantage of some extraordinary savings on the residential lighting products, ceiling fans, and table and floor lamps that's made Harbor Lights a Seacoast institution since for three decades.
So hurry over to Route 1 in Hampton Falls and take advantage of the incredible savings while it lasts, and give your home the gift of light this Winter!
Goodbye, Hampton. Hello, Newington.
Harbor Lights, the venerable retail lighting store on Route 1 in Hampton Falls, is poised to co-locate with its parent company, the Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric on January 1 at their flagship location at the foot of the Sullivan Bridge.
“Bringing Harbor Lights into the Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric will be the best of both worlds,” exclaimed Jim Pender, Rockingham Electric’s affable President and CEO. “We can offer a larger selection, better service, and more competitive pricing, all under one roof.”
And under that distinctive, circular roof in Newington, shoppers can expect to find a wide array of lighting fixtures, chandeliers, lamps, and outdoor lighting products, all supported by the kind of old-fashioned customer service that’s a distant memory at big-box stores.
“We’re known for our selection of energy-efficient lighting, and now we’re selling more and more LED lights that save energy, save money, and provide a much warmer, more appealing light than what was available just five years ago.”
A drive down the Swasey Parkway in Exeter, NH reveals sprawling farmland that gives way to Revolutionary War era buildings and a downtown bandstand decked out in tri-colored flags. It’s clear at a glimpse that Exeter is a city that takes pride in its history and natural beauty, so it’s not surprising that Exeter is also one New Hampshire city helping to lead the way to an independent, sustainable future.
According to a study by the Brookings Institution released this past June, New Hampshire has the fastest growing green economy in New England with an average 5.3% increase in green jobs from 2003 through 2010. In fact, green job growth outpaces overall job growth in New Hampshire, which is already second in the nation at 1.4%. The southern counties of Merrimack, Hillsborough and Exeter’s own Rockingham, are the epicenter of this trend and provide most of the state’s green jobs.
Alternative energy companies represent the largest sector of the green economy anywhere, but especially in New Hampshire. ReVision Energy, which has locations in Portland and Liberty, ME as well as Dover, NH, has been installing solar energy systems since 2003. This past July, they opened a new location in Exeter.
“Alternative energy is becoming a viable option for more people, and New Hampshire residents have always been independence-minded,” says Fred Greenhalgh of ReVision Energy. “We do business across the breadth of the state. Exeter is not only centrally located, but seems to embody that independent attitude. We knew we’d be welcome here.”
At a time when the construction industry in New Hampshire is losing jobs, Little Green Homes of Greenland is bucking the trend by doubling size of its workforce.
“We’ve grown from three to six employees in the last year,” according to Chris Redmond, an architectural designer from Newmarket who started the company 4.5 years ago with his business partner Jeff Stacy, a builder from Portsmouth.
“We started off with just my partner and me, plus a few subs, but we’ve always wanted to hire full time, steady guys, not just summer help,” Redmond explained. “Now we’ve grown from one to two crews, so we can handle multiple projects.”
The duo attributes Little Green Homes success in part to their ability to offer customers a complete package of design and build services for custom new homes, renovation and addition projects.
“Our customers always know the designer and builder are on the same page,” said Redmond. “We bring all members of our team, including engineers and subcontractors, together during the design phase to make sure everybody fully understands the project before construction begins.”
“People like the process that we offer… and when it comes to green building, it’s nice to know that both your designer and builder are passionate about that type of work,” he added.
Little Green Homes focus on green building has also helped to set them apart from the competition.
“We took kind of a risk with the name by putting ‘green’ right in it,” Redmond acknowledged. “We really believed it was the direction people were moving in. We also believed it was the only way to build.”
It was a gamble that paid off.
“In the beginning, people tended to think of ‘green’ as expensive,” he recalled. “Once we explained it to them, they understood that ‘green’ really means durable, quality and energy efficient building.”
“Now people call us because we are ‘Little Green Homes’,” Redmond reported. “People just get it. They definitely seek us out for the green element.”
Give the gift of Green Alliance this season, and get a free Acorn Organic Salon gift certificate and Green Alliance tote bag!
Do you really want to fight traffic getting to the malls this holiday season? Do you regret giving a loved one a gift you know they won't like? Wouldn't you like to give a gift that shows you care about that person's values, while also supporting the local economy?
The Green Alliance has the answer: a gift membership that includes a one-year membership to the Green Alliance, a $10 gift certificate to Acorn Organic Salon's locations in Dover and Exeter, and a sturdy Green Alliance zip-able tote bag. It's all yours for just $35 (tote bag must be picked up at the Green Alliance office at 75 Congress St in downtown Portsmouth). Once you have your swag bag in hand, be sure and join us for the Green Alliance Holiday Bash on December 15 at Two Ceres Street, Portsmouth's green martini bar!
This holiday gift means much more than a hollow, obligatory necktie or bottle of perfume; when you give someone a Green Alliance membership, you're giving him or her membership into a community of citizens and business owners that want economically strong and environmentally healthy communities. Plus, you're giving someone discounts at nearly 100 local businesses that keep giving long after the holiday wreaths are taken down. You won't get that kind of feeling by giving a gift certificate to a big box store!
Mary Welch, a proud Green Alliance member from Litchfield, NH, gushed about the Green Alliance Gift package. "I just purchased 5 Green Alliance memberships as Christmas gifts, including some for my two Yankee Swaps; what a deal!" Welch then went on to describe the savings she gets through her membership. "I have never purchased such a leveraged gift. I joined in May at Earthtec, and with the Green Alliance discount, it almost paid for itself in that visit! I then went to Beach Peach Bakery and got a free loaf of rosemary bread, then it was over to the Portsmouth Brewery for the best spicy mussels anywhere!"
"By the end of the day, I had more than saved the membership dues, which I didn't expect. And the more important thing was supporting green businesses in New Hampshire and Maine. Looking at the supporting businesses, they stretch far and wide, so I'd encourage everyone to consider a Green Alliance membership as a gift to encourage more green awareness among family and friends," Welch continued.
Mary, we couldn't have said it better. So skip the mall, the traffic, and the outlet stores, and give the gift of green (economy) this season. Order your Green Alliance gift membership package today!
For millions of Americans, Black Friday evokes the image of throngs of tired eyed consumers shivering in the dark outside locked box store doors, awaiting the chance to do battle over the last Tickle Elmo doll, or whatever the latest Made-in-China fad happens to be this year.
Enter Plaid Friday, a local alternative to Black Friday organized by Seacoast Local to put the fun and color back into the holidays by encouraging local consumers to wear plaid and shop at locally owned, independent businesses on the day after Thanksgiving.
In only it’s second year, Plaid Friday is an idea that appears to be catching on.
“Plaid is very New England,” according to Seacoast Local’s newly minted Director David Boynton, who pointed to his own shirt to prove his point.
“Who wants to spend Black Friday at some box store fighting a total stranger for a plasma television?” he quipped. “Plaid Friday is for people who want to enjoy their Friday shopping for a unique gift at a local store. People are really excited about how much more fun it is.”
“I made phone calls to participating stores and there was a lot of excitement about how many people dressed in plaid were coming in,” he said. “I’ve even got the pictures to prove it.”
Sure enough, photos of smiling shoppers and retailers dressed in plaid now feature prominently on Seacoast Local’s Facebook page.
Boynton chalked the initiatives success up to more than just New Englanders’ unique fashion sense.
“People are starting to realize the value of shopping local,” he explained. “Dollars spent locally generate 2-3 times as much economic activity in our community than dollars spent at national chains.”
Wearing plaid is nothing new for employees of the Green Alliance, a Seacoast Local partner that has worked for years to make it easy for Seacoast shoppers to “Buy Local. Buy Green. Save Money.”
“How many days a week do I wear plaid?” repeated Jim Cavan, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Green Alliance, with a bemused look on his face. “Probably two times a week.”
It’s safe to say that’s a conservative estimate.
As President and Chief Operating Officer of TVC Systems and a Business Partner in the Green Alliance, Linda Tyring understands the value of the local green economy. After all, her company is on the forefront of the green energy industry, working to install process control systems for alternative energy and cogeneration power plants.
In October, Tyring decided to blaze a new green trail by becoming the very first Green Alliance Benafactor, a new program that enables new and old supporters alike to make a long-term investment the future growth of the Green Alliance by making a one-time contribution of $500.
“We’ve always supported what the Green Alliance does in the community, and this was just another way for us to tie our ship to an organization we believe in,” said Tyring. “These are tough times for any business, but we also have to remember we’re all in this together. So it felt right to kind of solidify our mutual support."
Already, the GA has grown to include over 90 local green businesses and 2,000 citizen members, demonstrating that individuals and families in Maine and New Hampshire are committed to buying green to protect the environment and create good paying local jobs even in tough economic times.
“The Benefactor Program will help our organization continue to enjoy sustainable grow,” said Sarah Brown, who started the Green Alliance three years ago and is now the organization’s Director. “Our next goal is to reach 150 green businesses and 5,000 citizens.”
For Brown, the goal of the Benefactor Program is not only to boost the effectiveness and reach of the GA itself, but also to highlight the contributions of community members most committed to building a vibrant, sustainable local economy.
Benefactors enjoy permanent recognition on GreenAlliance.biz, including a blog post detailing their generosity and green spirit, as well as a lifetime membership in the GA. They also get a free lunch with GA staff members, plus five complimentary GA memberships to give to their friends and family.
“We feel we are in at a place as an organization where we needed to think outside the box in terms of membership and support,” said Brown. “We know there are people out there who really loved what we do and are want to support it wholeheartedly into the future.”
During the 1950s, few consumer products hit the shelves with a more welcome thud of convenience than the disposable diaper.
And with good reason: What had for centuries been a thanklessly necessary ritual had suddenly transformed into one as easy as flipping open the trash can.
The next five decades would find industry giants Pampers and Huggies engaged in all-out war, with both sides out to prove theirs were the cleanest, cheapest, and most convenient.
But as with so many other once nagging tasks suddenly rendered simple, it took a while before the true implications of all those plastic-based diapers – anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 per child – began to reveal themselves.
“Most people don’t understand that most diapers take anywhere between 250 and 500 years to break down in a landfill,” notes Kim Leo, owner of Green Earth Baby Works (GEBW), New Hampshire’s sole cloth diaper service. “When you add it all up, you’re talking about a sanitation crisis potentially worse than anything since the fall of the Roman Empire. It sounds bad, but it’s only when people start to realize the implications of disposable diapers that they start to think of alternatives.”
Citing her own daughter’s struggles with various rashes and allergies as her prime motivation for exploring the cloth diaper path, Leo’s research quickly revealed that not only did disposable diapers pose significant waste issues – human feces leeching into the ground being the most obvious example – but tangible health risks as well.
“The major diaper brands tend to have a lot of chemicals – things like dioxins and Sodium Polyacrylate,” explains Leo. “These chemicals not only causes rashes and allergies; they’re also known carcinogens. And that’s something not a lot of people are aware of.”
If it weren’t bad enough that austere budgets are coming after well-established, successful programs like Social Security, now there’s a new target in the cross hairs: bicycling.
Funding for bicycling transportation is coming under assault nationwide, including in New Hampshire. A hearing was held October 26 on the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ten-year transportation plan which makes significant cuts to bicycle and pedestrian funding.
“When you consider how little bicycle transportation funding costs compared to the other projects, it’s a shame to see its budget take such a hit,” said Josh Pierce, general manager of Portsmouth-based Papa Wheelies, and board member of Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes. “These types of projects give great bang for the buck, as multi-use can be used by cyclists, walkers, and even the disabled.”
“Plus, anything that gets folks into cities like Portsmouth, Dover, Durham, and Newburyport, which already have parking issues, without the use of cars is a good thing,” Pierce continued.
Tom Hemenway, owner of Exeter-based Ezee Bikes, mentioned the health benefits of bicycling projects supported by state funding. “Getting people moving helps New Hampshire’s health and wellness initiatives, so it fits in with the state’s broader strategy.” Ezee Bikes sells electric bikes that can alternate between human power and motor power at the rider’s discretion, and can be used on multi-use trails and other paved paths.
A common misconception about going green – particularly with respect to businesses or industries – is that doing so is an all-or-nothing proposition.
Either you’re green, or you’re not. Worse still, if you aren’t going all-out, you must be “greenwashing” – masquerading your businesses behind a façade of sustainability.
But what about the many businesses who find themselves on the path towards green – doing everything in their power, despite a tough economy and prohibitive cost constraints – and who don’t pretend to be at sustainability’s finish line?
Take Riverworks Printing, a Greenland-based company specializing in commercial advertising for clients both local and national. Founded as a spinoff to sister outfit ATA Transit Advertising – which focuses on exterior bus advertising aimed at helping raise money for nine public transit systems throughout New England, including COAST – Riverworks has forged a unique, green niche in providing their many clients with myriad sustainability-driven printing alternatives.
In so doing, they’re helping reshape the green conversation within their industry, proving that, sometimes, steady improvement over the long run is better than a bank-breaking sprint.
“We like to think of ourselves as eco-driven, rather than green,” says Jeff Cutter, a veteran of the restaurant industry who in 2009 decided to follow wife, Jane -- owner of ATA – into the printing division of the outdoor advertising industry. “Our sustainability practices are considered in every aspect of our business, not just with our eco-friendly products. With the current options for large-format signage materials being less than sustainable, how we handle the by-products makes all the difference. Our vendors and manufacturers are feeling the pressures of today’s educated consumers and we hope to see new materials often.”
Studies have shown that local businesses tend to be more supportive of local nonprofits than big box stores and retail chains, a fact demonstrated by the growing relationship between the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership (NH Coast) and the Green Alliance.
In 2008, a group of citizens came together to form NH Coast out of a shared concern about declining water quality levels in the Great Bay estuary. That same year, the Green Alliance was launched by local journalist Sarah Brown and business partner Andrew Kellar, then the owner and founder of Simply Green Biofuels, to promote local green businesses and foster the growth of a green economy in Southern New Hampshire and Maine.
Over the years, the two organizations have developed a natural friendship based on a shared desire to restore the clean water and thriving ecosystems that have defined quality of life here on the Seacoast for generations. Green Alliance Business Partners have donated thousands of dollars to support NH Coast’s nonprofit mission to combine sound science with education, collaboration and advocacy to protect the natural resources of the Granite State’s coastal watershed.
Nowhere is the impact of this support more evident than in the success of NH Coast’s popular Rain Barrel Program. Donations from Green Alliance Business Partners like Altus Engineering, Cornerstone Treecare, Ecomovement, Greenovations, Jewett Farms & Co., and ReVision Energy have played a big role in enabling NH Coast to distribute more than 100 energy and water saving rain barrels to Seacoast residents at local farmers’ markets, community events and workshops – many of them free of charge.