Blog : December 2011
A total of 50 scientists, researchers, and experts in New Hampshire have signed onto a letter urging all candidates for public office to accept the reality of climate change, take action to curb global warming pollution, and develop climate preparedness strategies for the state and local communities.
Among them, Green Alliance Environmental Advisory Board member Cameron Wake, Director of Carbon Solutions New England and Associate Research Professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. He'll be speaking about economic development and climate change at the Rye Public Library on January 31, 2011 at 7:00 PM.
Back in 1876, Mark Twain aptly remarked “One of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it.” Our location halfway between the equator and the North Pole and sandwiched between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean makes our weather more variable than most other places on Earth.
New Hampshire’s culture, environment, and economy are fundamentally integrated with our seasonal climate that traditionally and reliably served up resplendent summers, crisp autumns with spectacular fall foliage, a white Christmas and winter sports, and the eternal hope of spring. Our citizens have adapted to changing economic and climatic conditions to keep New Hampshire consistently ranked near or at the top as a state with the best quality of life (1).
New Hampshire’s climate has experienced substantial changes over the past half century (2). Over this period, the northeastern United States has experienced a region-wide winter warming trend of almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The number of days with snow on the ground has decreased an average of one week. Pond hockey and ice fishing have taken a hit as ice breaks up on our lakes more than a week earlier than it used to. Peak snowmelt runoff in the spring now occurs 7–10 days earlier in northern New England rivers. Increasing extreme rainfall events and flooding, rising seas, and an influx of pests (Lyme-disease-bearing ticks at the top of the list) have emerged as the latest and potentially most serious challenges to our health and our quality of life.
Local arborist Micum Davis of Portsmouth has become the newest member of the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership’s Board of Directors.
Founded in 2008 by a group of local experts and citizens concerned about declining water quality in the Great Bay Estuary, NH Coast is a Portsmouth-based nonprofit organization dedicated to combining sound science with education, collaboration and advocacy to protect the natural resources of the coastal watershed and effect long-term visible change.
“I was honored to be asked to join the organization,” said Davis, who has been active in the group as a donor and program sponsor for several years now.
NH Coast’s grassroots efforts to encourage Seacoast property owners to adopt estuary friendly lawn care techniques proved to be particularly appealing for Davis. Now the owner of Cornerstone Treecare, he got his start as an entrepreneur in the lawn care industry.
“I purchased a small lawn care business in 1997,” Davis recalled. “One of the things I noticed early on was there were a lot of chemicals being applied to lawns around the area. The way lawns were reacting, along with my own research, showed me that this was not benefiting lawns. In addition to upsetting soil ecosystems, these fast release fertilizers were not fully absorbing and that reality was effecting more than homeowners realized.”
“It scared me to see all that stuff being put down, running off into ecosystems, and the watershed,” he said. “From my perspective, organic offered a valuable alternative. Seeking Organic Solutions, or SOS, became my catchphrase at the time, and SOS still marks my vanity license plates.
Papa Wheelies Savings through Limelight Deals--save even more with two Green Alliance business partners!
Now, when you save 53% on a pro tune-up at Papa Wheelies, you won't just be supporting Papa Wheelies, a Green Alliance business partner that sells new and used bikes and bike equipment, as well as providing maintenance service and rentals. You'll also be supporting the Seacoast Media Group, another GA business partner, which owns and administrates Limelight Deals.
Through Limelight Deals, Papa Wheelies is now offering a profession tune-up for only $35 dollars. Usually the same tune-up costs $75!
If you need more reasons than incredible savings to take advantage of this deal and support two Green Alliance business partners, consider this:
Papa Wheelies advocates bicycling as a form of transportation with incredible energy. They aim to get people enthused about the joys of biking for its own sake, as well as promoting biking as an alternative to gasoline-powered transportation. The business recycles aggressively—with so much success that they don't need a commercial dumpster! They use natural service products, and have plans for installing solar power.
The Seacoast Media Group, whose publications include the Portsmouth Herald, the Hampton Union, and the York Weekly, has been working for years to deliver the news more sustainably. SMG has been offering online news for 15 years, but they've also greatly reduced the impact of their tangible newspapers by using recycled paper and soy-based ink, and delivering many national papers in addition to their own to reduce fuel emissions from formerly overlapping paper routes.
“Climate changes. It always has and it always will,” says Cameron Wake, an associate professor at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire.
Wake will be delivering a talk on January 31st on the issues surrounding climate change, specifically as they relate to us and our future in New Hampshire. His talk will discuss new research into this field.
Many different indicators of climate change agree that the northeastern US has been warming over the last forty years. This change has had obvious impacts on both ecosystems and economic sectors.
“The decisions we make over the next decade regarding how we produce and use energy will determine the future climate of New Hampshire,” says Wake.
The extent to which we may inadvertently change the climate is scary enough. But issues of sustainable energy are directly related to our financial security as well.
“Improving our energy efficiency and developing local sources of energy can improve our economy and our energy security, and reduce our vulnerability to price spikes for oil and gas in the future,” says Wake.
The talk will be held at the Rye Library on Tuesday, January 31st, at 7:00pm, and will be free and open to the public
A Green Alliance Green Card is the perfect date—you can take it to any of nearly one hundred places, and it pays for itself! How long does it take for the money you spend on your Green Alliance membership to come back to you? Sometimes only one purchase.
Green Card holders can save up to 30 percent off yearly subscriptions to the Portsmouth Herald—as much as 45 dollars. And a Green Card only costs $35. Green Alliance Director and cardholder Sarah Brown recently renewed her yearly home delivery subscription to the Portsmouth Herald, and what would have cost her $233.40 cost only $196.30 with the help of her Green Alliance membership card.
“Of course being the Director of the Green Alliance, I am always singing the praises of the GreenCard but I personally reaped the benefits last week when I went to renew my daily home delivery subscription of the Herald. I was pretty excited with how much I saved! I love getting the local paper but it is costly to have home delivery; my GreenCard made it more affordable!” exclaimed Brown.
The Portsmouth Herald is excited about the deal as well—through its partnership with the Green Alliance, the Herald is able to attract subscribers who might otherwise get their news elsewhere. These readers are drawn to the Portsmouth Herald because of the paper's commitment to issues of sustainability. It's a symbiotic relationship.
Customers concerned with sustainability want to patronize companies who share their concern; and local businesses who put effort into green company ethics need to have a fighting chance against national corporations who sacrifice ethics to lure the masses with cheap products. That's why the Green Alliance is vital. The GA connects green consumers with green businesses, allowing customers to align their choices with their values and save money at the same time. In turn, the extra business that companies receive through Green Alliance promotions allows these businesses to continue reducing their environmental impact and giving back to the community through sustainability education and charitable donations.
Many of us, both individuals and businesses, already want to do the right thing. The Green Alliance's work of telling the stories of sustainability, educating the community, connecting people and businesses, and of making green choices feasible and desirable for both, is key in the path toward a greener future.
Landscaper Brian Wade serves on the board of directors for the 25th Annual Trans NH Bike Ride for Muscular Dystrophy
Being the owner of one of the most environmentally friendly and innovative landscaping companies in the industry would have been impressive enough. But for Brian Wade, owner of Wade Landscaping & Property Maintenance LLC, good deeds come in numbers. A sustainability pioneer committed to educating employees and the community about green issues, Wade is also a professional firefighter, and serves on the board of directors for the Annual Trans NH Bike Ride to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Wade has been a pioneer of sustainability in his field since his company's inception. Wade Landscaping uses organic hydroseeds and eschews the chemically harmful fertilizers used by most other landscaping companies. They compost clippings and recycle mulch. Their equipment uses non-toxic 2-cycle fuel, and all vehicles run on Simply Green BioFuels. The company also has an anti-idling policy which significantly reduces their carbon emissions.
Wade's endeavors to educate about sustainability are commendable as well. He has contributed to local publications including Foster's Daily Democrat and the Dover Daily News to inform individuals about steps they can take to reduce their impact on the environment. Wade keeps employees up-to-date about the products the company uses and how employees can make greener choices at home.
Sustainability isn't just about environmentalism, though. Another important part of sustainability is the work of strengthening communities and striving toward a better quality of life for all. This isn't news to Wade, who, when he isn't working toward a healthier planet or saving people from fires, finds time to serve on the board of directors for the Annual Trans NH Bike Ride, an event that raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“We are a group of people who share a passion for helping those afflicted with muscular dystrophy. This ride was started over 25 years ago by a bunch of firefighters who cared and it has only grown since. This year we expect over 100 cyclists.” Wade says.
Indeed, the Annual Trans NH Bike Ride to benefit the MDA was started in 1988 by a group of firefighters from Salem, NH. The first ride was undertaken in August of that year by just eight cyclists. In the years since then, the ride has grown to include about 100 riders annually. The ride traverses the state from Canada to Massachusetts, a journey of 250 miles, over three days in June. All funds raised remain in New Hampshire and support those affected by muscular dystrophy. Last year, this amount topped $125,000.000.
Jenaly Technology Group Inc. has made impressive strides in lowering the amount of electricity and paper required by IT solutions, and is always looking for new ways to reduce the business's impact. Jenaly is also passionately committed to educating people about sustainablity and empowering them to make green choices. Each issue of Jenaly's monthly newletter includes Green Tips--here's the most recent set of tips from Jenaly!
Green IT Item of the Month
Greening Your New Year’s Resolutions
With 2012 right around the corner, lots of people have been making their new year’s resolutions. Many of these include sustainable choices such as:
* Grow your own food
* Reduce paper consumption
* Share with others
* Bike or walk instead of drive
* Stop buying bottled water
* Stop receiving unwanted catalogs
Learn more about Jenaly's green innovations here!
To read and subscribe to Jenaly's newsletter, click here!
By Ann Stromgren, a student at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, spending winter break at home in Portsmouth volunteering with the Green Alliance.
The commitment to living sustainably can be a difficult one to maintain, not only because of the logistics involved. In some cases, traditions, values and personal convictions make the ideal of green living complicated to pursue. For example, it's greener to go paperless than relying on tangible documents, but any passionate lover of books—not just publications, but physical tomes—will fight any green activist who tries to pry the pages from her hand and replace them with a Kindle. For many, the digital alternatives to printed materials offer only a depressing shadow of the experience of reading.
And what of those who love hand-written mail, the kind decorated with endearing stamps, that comes in the mailbox, the kind that can be saved in a shoebox for generations? The carbon footprint of a letter, Berners-Lee informs us in his book How Bad are Bananas?, is 140g CO2E, that is, if it's written on recycled paper and recycled by the receiver. Compare that to the 4g CO2E required to send an email, and the choice seems obvious. But although the greener way to correspond is digitally, this is one sustainability choice that isn't simple for everyone.
Sarah Brown of the Green Alliance records “green tips,” which are broadcast daily on 92.5 River, a Green Alliance business partner. These tips offer listeners ideas about how individuals can decrease their footprint. Approaching the holidays, one of her suggestions was to send Holiday e-cards instead of paper cards. An innocuous enough suggestion...for anyone who doesn't think e-cards are tacky. Then Sarah received an email from Elissa Donnelly, a letter carrier who has been performing this vital but thankless job for two and a half decades. Elissa was upset that Sarah's green tip had seemed flippant toward the postal service and dismissive of letter writing as a form of communication. In addition, Elissa emphasized the personal and social value of writing real letters, cards, and thank-yous, and the detrimental effect that the wide-spread push toward digital media and communication is having on children.
There's no comparison between an online note and a real piece of mail, says Elissa, especially around the holidays. Elissa and her husband love receiving Christmas cards and dressing them up on the mantle. “You can't do that with e-cards,” Elissa says. While receiving e-mail can seem like work, even if it's personal, getting mail is always exciting. “There is nothing so wonderful than to get home from work and get a Christmas card from someone,” says Elissa. “Hopefully it has a picture of your grandchild in it, or a niece that you don't get to see, or the children from a friend from high school. People are so wrapped up in their electronics, I fear for my grandchildren. They probably will never turn a page on a book or play with a puzzle. No more toys for them, they will all be on an iPod or an iPad. They will never write with a pen or pencil...they will never write or mail a letter or send a thank you card.”
“Letter writing is really a lost art,” says Elissa. With everything becoming digital, Elissa fears that “there's going to be a lot less personal interaction” in the future. iphones aren't even made for talking, she notes, but for texting, which serves to separate people even further. Another problem with the current digitization of communication is that “kids aren't being taught handwriting.” With the prevalence of spell-check, they're not learning proper spelling, either. As someone who is meticulous with words but has grown up coddled by spell-check, I often lament my own inability to spell even words I use every day—it's embarrassing.
Although I am also a child of the digital age, I love everything about real personal mail. I love sitting down with a notebook and a pen to immerse myself in a long letter to a far-away friend, only really discovering through the process of forming the characters by hand how I feel about the events I'm relating and about the relationship that my letter will strengthen. I love choosing postcards and carefully pairing each image with each note. I love putting stamps on paper. I love the fact that it only takes a name and a couple of words and numbers for my mail to reach its recipient, something that still strikes me as quaint and improbable. I love checking the mailbox every day to be disappointed by nothing or junk mail—it's worth it for that one day when there's a card or a letter. I love unfolding the pages and working to discern the scribbles and noticing when changes in penmanship align with changes in the writer's mood. I can more than relate to Elissa Donnelly's concerns about respecting mail as a form of communication, and acknowledging the often grueling work that she and other postal workers put into transmitting my correspondence.
Chris and Kathleen Meyer know all too well the feeling that comes with watching home heating oil and natural gas prices continue to climb year after year.
“I own a property holding company,” said Chris Meyer. “In the mid-2000s, as heating oil prices went up, we started recognizing the real need for identifying the efficiency of our building. Traditional building inspections missed things like the efficiency of a building’s heating system and insulation. We said, ‘We’ve got find a service out there that will tell us what the costs and savings will be for energy efficiency.’”
Disappointed in the quality of the existing services that were out there at the time, the Meyers followed the age-old adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” In 2008, they launched Yankee Thermal Imaging in Dover, New Hampshire, with the ambitious goal of providing energy audit services to all of Northern New England.
“Thermal imaging is one of the techniques used in developing an energy audit,” Meyer explained.
“We started off mostly doing internal work for the people we do business with,” Meyer said. “Slowly but surely, that led to regular work in the open market.”
After just three years in operation, this local small business has grown to include a team of experienced energy professionals.
“We now have two regional Managing Energy Analysts and a Managing Engineer overseeing our Energy Management and Reduction Program,” according to Meyer. "The others are auditing technicians.”
The company is now busy bidding on big projects for local municipalities, offering an innovative model that makes it affordable for communities to take on energy saving projects.
“Instead of having communities pay for the retrofits up front, we will cover the initial costs,” he explained. “Municipalities will then pay us back using the money they save on their energy bill.”
Meyer expects this approach will prove appealing to municipalities who could save tens of thousands of dollars on energy annually, particularly at a time when many communities are looking to control budget costs.
“The response from municipalities so far has been strong,” he said.
But Yankee Thermal Imaging is also happy to take on energy audits for everyday homeowners.
“In Northern New England homes, we’re usually talking about heat loss,” said Meyer. “Where am I losing my heat? What does my building envelope look like? What are my energy deficiencies? What are the costs and savings?”
The Holiday Season offers many an opportunity to reflect on the past year – its lessons learned and disappointments, fond memories and accomplishments.
For businesses, the exercise is much the same. And if your business is really lucky – like A Perfect Move – you can count in your favor far more of the last two than the first.
Last Tuesday, the Kittery-based moving company hosted a year-end wrap-up event at their headquarters just south of Route 1.
Joined by a group of senior health care providers – with whom they’ve helped host similar events in the past – A Perfect Move gave all in attendance the opportunity for a 60-second “year in review,” either as a speech or by way of PowerPoint presentation.
There was just one, small catch: Each company had to pay for its 60-second spotlight with canned and boxed goods , which were given to the Footprints Food Pantry.
For Genevieve Benton – who along with daughter Erin and son James own and operate APM – the event marked the end of a busy year for the three-year-old company.
“Our goal was to illustrate what a group of people with good hearts and a desire to do good, could put their hands together and do something great,” said Benton. “We felt like we ended the year on a strong, positive note.”
Of course, APM took time to highlight their own accomplishments for 2011 – a year which saw the company move their headquarters from York to their much more visible Kittery locale – by way of a multi-slide PowerPoint presentation, complete with photos.
Just weeks after opening their new home’s doors, APM launched Gentiques, a non-profit repurposing store which donates 100% of its profits – earned through selling furniture and other materials donated by customers and other community members – to various local charities.
The holiday season can be especially difficult for many families in need. One way that Kennebunk Savings is helping to strengthen communities and lend a hand to those in need is by donating thousands of dollars to local nonprofit food pantires. As part of its "Community Promise" program, the business has donated a total of $5,000 to nonprofits including York County Food Rescue, York County Shelters Programs Inc., York Community Food Pantry, and the Seacoast Family Food Pantry in Portsmouth.
This generosity is a tradition for Kennebunk Savings; each year, the company donates 10 percent of its earnings to nonprofit organizations. Since 1994, these gifts have added up to $7.5 million. Extensive community involvement is just one aspect of Kennebunk Savings' commitment to sustainability. In addition, the business uses a company-wide recycling program, efficient up-to-date plumbing fixtures, and lawn treatment and cleaning products that are as organic as possible. Kennebunk Savings is also in the process of switching all incandescent light bulbs to high efficiency alternatives.
Read more about Kennebunk Savings' green practices and community involvement here!
It's the Monday after Christmas, and chances are many of us woke up with the familiar realzation that maybe we didn't really need that last chocolate pretzel or slive of apple pie a la' mode.
What better way to burn off those Yuletide calories than hitting the slopes at Shawnee Peak! Today, from 4pm until close, the famed ski mountain -- located in Bridgton, Maine -- is offering lift tickets for just $16!
While Seacoast residents might have woken up to a light dusting on their porches or cars, over the past four days Shawnee Peak received seven inches of natural snow. Combine that with the resort's state-of-the-art, high efficiency snow-making equipment -- which recycles water from nearby Moose Pond -- and you got yourself a great day for skiing!
So head on down to Shawnee Peak, and be sure to check out the great additional discounts to be had by Green Alliance members!
To learn more about Shawnee Peak and to see their complete winter vacation schedule, click here!
Just in time for Christmas, Shawnee Peak received 4 - 6" of beautiful base-building snow last night, just in time for the holidays! (Yes, that picture on the left is from this morning!)
While it still may not feel like Winter down on the Seacoast, it's definitely Winter up in the mountains. And the new snow has allowed Shawnee Peak to open it Summit Triple chair, so you and your fanily can look forward to to top-to-bottom skiing this weekend (the resort is open today and Saturday, December 24, from 9 AM - 4 PM).
And this weekend, discounted lift ftickets are available at Shawnee Peak for the 12 trails you'll be carving, so get on up to Bridgton, Maine today or tomorrow and kick the ski season off before Santa Claus come to town!
We want you to purchase a Green Alliance membership. Right now. We've spent all year being nice (not naughty) to our community, as we've connected citizens and green businesses in an attempt to bolster the local economy, create jobs, and protect the environment. We've partnered with non-profits like NH Coast and the Northeast Organic Farming Association to protect our ecosystem and support local agriculture. We've given away lift tickets to Shawnee Peak, passes to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, gondola rides at Wildcat Mountain, and countless gift certificates for use at our Business Partner locations. Now we asking for something from you, our readers:join the Green Alliance, renew your membership, or purchase a gift membership if you're already a member.
Because without Green Cardholders paying their annual dues, our model doesn't work the way it was designed. No more discounts at local green businesses; no more free, fun events; and no more promotion of the businesses that are doing the right things for their communities, and the environment. We may as well just declare, "it's every man for himself".
It's in your hands. Give us your support - the best Christmas present of all - and everybody wins. You could even give us a fabulous Christmas gift by purchasing a Sustaining Membership, or becoming a Green Alliance Benefactor. That will earn you a big kiss under the mistletoe! (optional)
So merry Christmas and happy hannukah from all of us at the Green Alliance! For those of you who already support us, our deepest thanks. For everyone else, we're asking you to demonstrate your support by joining our growing, and very special community.
Children and their families are invited to ring in 2012 a little early at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s annual daytime Family New Year’s Eve Celebration on Saturday, December 31 in Dover, NH.
This festive event runs from 10 am – 3 pm and includes three special “countdowns to midnight” held at 11 am, 12:30 pm and 2 pm. At each countdown, a glittering ball drops 30 feet from the ceiling as everyone counts down the last ten seconds of the year. Noisemakers and confetti create an atmosphere like Times Square, as "Auld Lang Syne" plays and ginger ale is served to all for the first toast of the New Year. Visitors are also invited to make their own sparkly party hats and write their wishes for the new year on mini flying blimps that are launched at each countdown.