Blog : Green Initiatives

When Socially Responsible Investing Becomes Personal

By Katelyn | Nov 10, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

For Sarah Brown it was time to step up and take her own advice.

In this case, the advice meant an analysis of her investment portfolio to see if it matched her personal values. Brown, the Director of the Green Alliance, said for years she had urged the same for friends and Green Alliance Business Partners.

“I’ve been talking to people for the last five years about becoming green in all quarters of their life,” Brown said. “I needed to walk the walk and do it myself.”

At the outset, Brown was simply seeking information to see if her investments matched her values. “I did not want to be investing in gun makers, fossil fuel companies, drug or gambling industry companies, or big-ag companies that promote GMOs,” Brown explained. “I don’t want my investments in businesses that give lots of money to right-wing causes or politicians. No investments in companies that promote LGBT discrimination or union-busting.”

She also was curious to talk to an advisor who cares about “this stuff” too. “My current advisor is lovely and has produced great results for me; I do trust him with my investments but I realize I want, even need, more than that”.

Brown had planned this exercise to be an educational journey and didn’t imagine she might decide to literally change both her investment portfolio and her financial advisor. She turned to Mike Smith, the Newmarket-based representative for the Progressive Asset Management Group (PAM Group), the socially responsible investment division of Financial West Group.

Ray Dube of CCNNE Presents as Key Note Speaker at NH Department of Safety Green Team Energy Conference

By Katelyn | Nov 9, 2015 | in

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England (CCNNE) is leading the way in sustainability for large manufacturing and product distribution facilities. CCNNE, a franchise of the Coca-Cola parent company, serves New England area out of their Londonderry, NH facility and is always on the hunt to further reduce their carbon footprint in the creation and delivery of their products.

6.5 million pounds of CCNNE's recycled PET bottles are used to make fleece jackets by The North Face and Patagonia and the Londonderry plant boasts a 93% recycling diversion rate, but aside from extensive recycling, reuse and energy reduction, CCNNE works to get out into local communities and educate the public on what the company does and how individuals can become more green every day. This large responsibility falls on to the plate of Ray Dube, Sustainability Manager at CCNNE.

On Wednesday, October 28, Dube was the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Green Team Energy Conference. Dube has been setting up at different events put on by the State as well as in the State House itself for several years. Last spring, at one of the events, a member from the NH Homeland Security Department Green Team invited him to set up and speak at their monthly meeting.

Market-Based Climate Solutions Discussion at Free Nashua Teach-In

By Katelyn | Nov 5, 2015 | in

President Obama has said repeatedly that if Congress does not send him legislation to implement market-based solutions for climate change, he will use executive and regulatory powers to act. Congress holds back from acting on climate change because many members are concerned about attack ads or primary challengers funded by fossil fuel interests. Consequently the U.S. gets more regulations and business uncertainty as regulations and executive actions are challenged in the courts.

While many Democrats would act on climate legislation, the Republican Party has refused to accept the scientific findings on climate change much less push for legislation to address it. Recently, however, two things have happened that suggest fissures may be opening in the stalemate on climate. In September, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) and 10 Republican cosponsors introduced a resolution that recognizes the impact of climate change and calls for action to reduce future risk. In October, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced “formation of a Senate Energy and Environment Working Group that will focus on ways we can protect our environment and climate while also bolstering clean energy innovation that helps drive job creation.” Ayotte was joined by three other Republican senators in forming the group.

While cynics will say these moves are motivated solely by election year political considerations, they nonetheless offer concerned citizens and clean energy interests opportunities to take officeholders at their word and lobby both groups for the types of market-based approaches President Obama could sign.

Focused on Sustainable Painting

By Katelyn | Nov 3, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

Sean Sturk had a choice to make after he finished college. He could take a more traditional career path, putting his degrees to use in business and marketing. Or he could continue doing the work he'd enjoyed since he was a teen – getting his hands, face and neck dirty while managing a paint crew and becoming an expert.

“I began painting when I was in high school and excelled at it. I learned a lot when I was put in a management position and ran crews,” said Sturk, co-owner of Minute Men Painters of Portsmouth. “I realized I could make more money painting than being an intern and doing something else.”

In addition to managing painting projects and crews, Sturk also owned and operated a retail paint store where he expanded his knowledge of the products and applications, including eco-friendly options, he sold. With his expertise and education, Sturk turned Minute Men Painters into a regional leader in the "green-painting" revolution when he took over the company in 2000.

“We take pride in our sustainable practices while protecting and adding to the beauty of the homes around us,” said Sturk, a New Hampshire native who received degrees in business management and marketing from the University of New Hampshire and Franklin Pierce University.

Hitting the Reset Button: How a Group of Eco-Conscious Builders are Reshaping Sustainable Building Design

By Katelyn | Nov 3, 2015 | in

By Craig Brown

On a small lot in Rye Harbor, not far from the rocky shoreline and the swell of the sea, sits a recent residential project that pushes the boundaries of sustainable design. The 2,400 square-foot home is replete with energy efficient technology that reduces heating and electricity bills, generates home energy credits, is environmentally-friendly and looks good doing it, too.

But are net-zero homes the way of the future, or just another trend in home building?

It is true that sustainable additions and renovations, to homes both old and new, have recently become popular in design just as stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops came into vogue a few years ago. But these energy efficient technologies have been around for years, according to Jesse Ware, founder of Futuro Construction, the builder of the Rye Harbor home.

“The technologies have been around for a while but were not economically feasible until the last five to eight years,” said Ware.

Ware, who received a LEED AP accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council, said that the home in Rye produces all of the energy it uses, and is kept cool during these hot and humid dog days of summer with an air source heat pump, which continues to work in subzero temperatures, providing heat for the home. Ware estimates that the homeowners save $3,000 in just heating energy costs annually.

Making the Best Choice: Local HVAC Company Caters to Customer Demands for Sustainable Options

By Katelyn | Nov 2, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

At first glance, an HVAC company might not seem like an obvious promoter of sustainability, but it’s been the longtime guiding principle for Jay and Fay Aucella, co-owners of Strafford-based Aucella Heating and Cooling.

Since its founding over a decade ago, Aucella Heating and Cooling has been at the forefront providing and implementing green solutions for their diverse residential and commercial client base.

Jay Aucella says that customers are far more knowledgeable and focused on sustainable and cost-effective measures, especially as it affects their lives.

“We have found that when people are informed about their alternative options, they generally choose the best option for their health, the health of their community and the environment that surrounds them,” Aucella said. “We highlight these choices by offering the most efficient heating and cooling systems and educate our customers on the life-cycle costs of these systems. Reducing energy use for heating and cooling makes sense when you compare the life-cycle cost between standard and high-efficiency products.”

Dental Practice Bolsters Green Economy

By Katelyn | Nov 2, 2015 | in

By Anne Twombly

In a world where the vast majority of American manufacturing takes place overseas, there is still a place for the artisan craftsperson in Newmarket, NH. Jon Piatt, local woodworker has been working collaboratively for the past few months with the owner of Newmarket Dental, Dr. Nate Swanson, to furnish and adorn the dental practice’s new office space. By hiring local labor and utilizing found materials, Newmarket Dental is exemplifying the positive impact thoughtful businesses can have on the local economy as well as the global environment.

When Swanson moved his popular small practice, Newmarket Dental, from its tiny downtown Newmarket location to a larger, newer space, he made sure that every facet and function of the building was as efficient and sustainable as possible.

“I loved working in a 200-year-old building, but for the purposes of healthcare delivery, it just didn’t work,” he said. “We had to consider patient volume, clinical efficiency, disability access, and parking. The whole notion of moving into a building less than 10 years old may seem counterintuitive sustainably speaking, but now we’re getting other benefits like much greater energy efficiency.”

New Hampshire Homeowners See the Bright Side of Solar Energy Systems

By Katelyn | Nov 2, 2015 | in

By Craig Robert Brown

Not far from the seacoast, just over a half hour from downtown Portsmouth, is the sleepy town of Farmington. Much like neighboring towns Rochester and Dover, Farmington’s history is steeped in mill manufacturing.

Since those early days, Farmington remains a large farming community some of which, like Butternut Farm, continue to serve the community with freshly grown produce. Though the downtown has changed, the scenic views of mountains and lakes of Farmington’s farmland haven’t. Nestled amongst those rolling hills draped in winter's gleaming whiteness, is what at first glance appears to be another 19th Century farmhouse and barn. However, the property is anything but traditional.

Homeowner Jay Lawrie, a builder, and his wife, an architect, built the home to look just that way, to blend in with the surrounding heritage and history. One noticeable difference to the barn’s exterior, however, is the addition of a solar PV system that drives the air to water heat pump, which covers the homes heating.

“We don’t have any fossil fuels. We’re completely electric,” said Lawrie. “We’re aiming for [net-zero]. It’s working great.”

The home is grid-tied, meaning that the energy it produces feeds into Lawrie’s utility provider, which credits his monthly energy costs. With the system still relatively new, Lawrie is monitoring its progress to offset his costs.

“We’re banking kilowatt hours because we produce a lot more than we use. But in the wintertime, because we are electric heat, then we use more than we produce. So in the perfect world they’d be just about balanced,” he says. “It’s hard to tell. We’re constantly working on it.”

The PV system on the home has been running for nearly a year. It’s made the home very comfortable, according to Jack Bingham of Seacoast Energy, who worked with Lawrie on the installation of the two systems.

Meet a Green Alliance Business: Favorite Foods

By Katelyn | Nov 2, 2015 | in

Who: For more than 27 years, Favorite Foods has been the region’s go-to independent food distribution company, building a reputation with quality products, excellent customer service, and a focus on working with locally owned restaurants and businesses while remaining environmentally responsible.

Started in 1978 by brothers Chris and Jeff Barstow, Favorite Foods offers everything from small wares, paper products and cleaning supplies to dry groceries, meats, dairy products, and frozen goods. A large portion of those items are eco-friendly, locally sourced or compostable. In the recent past, the company added a 527-panel, 140-kilowatt solar installations to its warehouse.

The company recently underwent a dramatic overhaul of its refrigeration unit, partnering with Biotek Environmental LLC to audit the warehouse and help improve operations and efficiency. Favorite Foods also offers its clients a consultation on everything from restaurant and menu design to customer tastes and business development strategies.

Green Story - McLean Communications: Sharing the Best of New Hampshire

By Katelyn | Oct 26, 2015 | in

Every Green Alliance business undergoes a three part Sustainability Certification. This certification serves to show what each business has accomplished and what they are still working to accomplish when it comes to green business practices. The final part of the evaluation is the Green Story. You can see the full certification documents for New Hampshire Magazine, The Square, and NH Home, all publications of McLean Communications, on their Green Alliance pages. Check out McLean Communications' Green Story below.

McLean Communications, a division of Yankee Publishing, is passionate about our state. As publishers of New Hampshire Home, New Hampshire Magazine, and The Square, the McLean team takes pride in our communities. “Our goal is to highlight why New Hampshire is so unique,” explains Sharron McCarthy, President/Publisher at McLean Communications. “Part of the reason we’re unique is because our citizens, businesses, and nonprofits are changing what it means to be green. McLean uses soy based inks and environmentally friendly finishes on our magazine products to assist in this mission."

Although each magazine caters to a different demographic, all McLean publications have embraced the environmental movement. Every spring, New Hampshire Home highlights sustainable construction and architecture in their “Green Issue.” New Hampshire Magazine raises awareness about environmental issues with stories about local business and nonprofit initiatives. Articles in The Square feature leaders from Seacoast communities who are helping to build a strong New Hampshire economy. With their magazines, McLean has the opportunity to promote sustainability throughout New Hampshire. 

Green Story- New Hampshire the Beautiful: Making a Beautiful Difference

By Katelyn | Oct 19, 2015 | in

Every Green Alliance business undergoes a three part Sustainability Certification. This certification serves to show what each business has accomplished and what they are still working to accomplish when it comes to green business practices. The final part of the evaluation is the Green Story. You can see the full certification documents for New Hampshire the Beautiful on their Green Alliance page. Check out NHtB's Green Story below.

New Hampshire the Beautiful (NHtB) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Charitable Trust. NHtB has developed comprehensive programs to address litter issues and recycling challenges throughout our state. NHtB is supported by members of the NH Soft Drink Association, the Beverage Distributors of New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Grocers Association. Though their programs and grants, NHtB has the opportunity to promote sustainability throughout New Hampshire.

In 1983, the original members of New Hampshire the Beautiful were concerned about increasing amounts of litter on roads around the state. Members also worried about the excessive amount of recyclable materials reaching landfills. NHtB began with a blue bag program to pick litter up off the highways. Litter removal is still an important part of their mission, but 30 years later, New Hampshire the Beautiful does so much more. In 2013 alone, NHtB donated or subsidized 67,650 blue bags, $53,560 recycling grants, and $25,000 in school initiatives. These significant investments in our communities have had incredible positive impacts.

Jeff Hiatt: A Bottom Line Approach to Sustainability

By Katelyn | Oct 19, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

For Jeff Hiatt, environmental stewardship is as simple as helping businesses, both big and small, stabilize their energy expenses.

Since 1995, Hiatt, founder of Performance Business Solutions in Hampton Falls, estimates he has helped hundreds of clients save millions of dollars through the firm’s multi-phase consulting approach. His time-tested analysis formula matches rigorous expense reviews and energy efficiency programs that can add to a company’s bottom line.

“I enjoy the dual positive of making an impact on the environment and the economy,” Hiatt said. “By implementing green solutions and green tools, my clients will use less energy and that helps their bottom line. It helps sustain the future of the company.”

New Hampshire is not the most robust state for green energy projects, especially when compared to its neighbors. Hiatt said New Hampshire's solar programs leave little to be desired with fewer tax incentives.

“Utilities in New Hampshire have a much more limited budget for implementation of green energy technology than other states like Massachusetts,” he said.

Southeast Land Trust to Host Annual Fall Fundraiser

By Katelyn | Oct 19, 2015 | in

The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (known as SELT) will celebrate the 13th Annual Fall Foliage Fundraiser on November 7, from 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center in Portsmouth. This evening is the Land Trust’s biggest event of the year and will feature complimentary food and drinks, silent and live auctions, a fun photo booth, and live music by Sea Smoke.

SELT is a nonprofit conservation organization working throughout the southeastern region of New Hampshire, from Salem in the south to as far north as Wakefield. The Southeast Land Trust’s mission is to protect and sustain the land in our community for clean water, fresh food, outdoor recreation, healthy forests and wildlife. In 2014, the Southeast Land Trust merged with the Strafford Rivers Conservancy to create a stronger land trust and protect an even greater portion of southeastern New Hampshire.

At the time of the merger, the new SELT was responsible for the stewardship and protection of more than 13,000 acres throughout the region. The merger resulted in a more united voice in conservation, and SELT now covers 99% of the Great Bay Watershed.

“This means that nearly every drop of water that falls in our territory will end up in the Great Bay – and protecting our region’s water quality is a core piece of our mission,” said Isabel Aley, Development & Communications Manager at SELT.

Students Learn Through Nature Based Education at Acorn School

By Katelyn | Oct 19, 2015 | in

With students and parents settled into their new school routines, some seacoast area children are taking an environmental approach to another year of learning. The pre-K and kindergarteners at Acorn School in Stratham learn to connect with the environment at an early age. Teachers and administrators take advantage of the school’s natural surroundings to create a curriculum and philosophy that instills a sense of environmental appreciation in their students.

Students at this unique school are exposed to environment through nature-based learning, much of which is done through outdoor education focused on composting, gardening, or learning about native species. Aside from the environment, the curriculum also offers classes in theater, music, the arts, and world cultures.

“One of our major goals is to instill a love for learning across the board,” said Sue Bendroth, Executive Director at the Acorn School since 1987. “Yes, we want them to learn their numbers or letters, but that’s not as important as developing a passion for learning and an ability to communicate with one another. They have a long school career ahead of them.”

To continue to offer a diverse education to local students, the non-profit Acorn School relies on fundraising and donations to bridge the gap between student tuition and everyday operating expenses. Each fall, they host a fundraiser, which serves as one of the main contributions to the Acorn School Endowment Fund. This year, the fall fundraiser will be held at Abenaqui Country Club in Rye, on Saturday, November 7, from 6 - 10 p.m.

Meet a Green Alliance Business: New Hampshire Public Television

By Craig | Oct 13, 2015 | in

What: New Hampshire Public Television, the Granite State’s only statewide, locally owned television network and PBS station, offers commercial-free programming that engages viewers, connects communities, and celebrates the region in a way that entertains as well as enriches.

Headquartered in Durham, NHPTV provides locally focused programs such as “Windows to the Wild,” “Our Hometown,” “Granite State Challenge,” and special documentaries, along with PBS favorites like “Downton Abbey,” “Nature,” “Nova,” “Frontline,” “Antiques Roadshow” and PBS KIDS, offering educational services and a high-tech public safety communications infrastructure. Using five broadcast transmitters the station’s signal to 98 percent of New Hampshire homes, NHPTV reaches more than 500,000 viewers each month, and 110,000 children weekly. NHPTV’s programs are available free via over-the-air broadcast and online, not just through paid cable and satellite companies.

NHPTV also has a steadfast commitment to environmental-themed programming. From national staples like “Nature” and “Nova,” to local favorites like “Planet Granite,” to “Windows to the Wild” and special documentaries about New England’s migratory birds and the fishing industry. And NHPTV is committed to partnering with community organizations to help shine a light on the issues and topics at the forefront of public concern and discussion.

New Hampshire Businesses Come Together at the Just One Thing Sustainability Slam

By Katelyn | Oct 5, 2015 | in

AMHERST - Twelve sustainability stories by businesses from across the state will come to life at New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility’s (NHBSR) Just One Thing Sustainability Slam at the LaBelle Winery on Thursday, October 15 in Amherst, New Hampshire. The evening will feature the top Just One Thing Stories, and guests will vote for the most impactful story.

NHBSR, a nonprofit membership-based organization of socially and environmentally friendly businesses, launched the Just One Thing campaign to bring together businesses from across New Hampshire to share ideas regarding sustainability and recognize businesses for their environmental, community, and workplace initiatives.

At the Sustainability Slam, guests will hear twelve winning stories, determined by a panel of sustainability experts, each in 90 seconds or less, and select the overall best stories using a polling app on their phones. Finalists were selected by a panel of experts consisting of Lisa Drake, Director of Sustainability Innovation at Stonyfield Farm, Matt Gardner, Principal of Sustainserv and Fiona Wilson, Co-Director for the Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise at the UNH Paul College of Business and Economics. Four finalists were chosen from each category, with two large companies, and two small companies or organizations in each category:

Favorite Foods Continues to Lead ‘Green’ by Example

By Craig | Oct 5, 2015 | in

By Rich Collins

For the past 27 years, Favorite Foods, a New Hampshire based food distribution company, made it its mission to provide superior quality food distribution and service to their clients, typically independent restaurants, in New Hampshire, Maine, and central and northern Massachusetts. Family owned and operated by son Kelly, father Chris Barstow, and mother Petra Barstow both have always held a strong belief that Favorite Foods could run both profitably and efficiently, with a company-wide focus to improve its overall environmental footprint.

Favorite Foods has had many green successes to date, including a massive 572 Panel, 140 kW Solar installation, and the Barstow family is focused on continuously lessening their impact on the environment, increasing energy efficiencies and continuing their mission to maintain a sustainable business. Locally, Favorite Foods has had a longtime relationship with the Green Alliance, a union of local, sustainable businesses and members working to unite the green community.

The company’s latest ‘green’ effort was prompted not only by its continuous drive to improve efficiencies, but also by the realities of the significant energy use involved in large-scale refrigeration.

In order to best serve their customers, Favorite Foods relies on a large refrigerated warehouse complex located onsite in Somersworth. The building consists of industrial scale refrigerated and freezer space, and refrigerated cooled loading docks, which serve as their cold storage as well as their primary distribution center. Such a large, climate controlled space requires a significant amount of time, money, and, in particular, energy to operate. Keeping consumption and costs down benefits both the company’s sustainable mission as well as their bottom line.

Kelly Barstow, Favorite Foods’ Director of Process Improvement, began working with John Guidotti of Biotek Environmental LLC, an efficiency solutions company based in Lebanon, N.H., to audit the facility and offer suggestions to improve operations.

Barking Up The Right Tree; Jeff Price of The Natural Dog Brings Sustainability to Pet Sector

By Katelyn | Sep 30, 2015 | in

By Michael McCord

Sustainability doesn’t immediately come to mind when put in the context of a pet store. But Jeff and Dawn Price, the owners of The Natural Dog, have made it their mission to change that perception.

“We believe that sustainable thinking and practice are good for our customers,” Jeff Price said. Since 2004 when they opened their first store in Newburyport, Mass., the Prices have seen their customer grow steadily as one referral led to another. That led to a second store – named The Natural Dog and Holistic Cat – that opened in 2013 in Portsmouth.

Like location being a key in real estate success, Price said that education has been the driving force behind the growth of customer awareness and demand.

“We think the knowledge we and our staff offer sets our level of customer service apart,” Price explained. “Just because a big pet food company rolls out a commercial that says their product is good doesn’t necessarily make it so. We maintain a high level of scrutiny and that makes us as much of an education center as a store.”

The Prices have proven that offering a wide range of all-natural, organic and responsibly produced pet foods and goods can result in sustainable success. It becomes all the more appreciated when the knowledge they gather from continuous research is shared with customers who are concerned about their pets eating healthier.

Renew the 603

By Katelyn | Sep 29, 2015 | in

Smuttynose Brewing Company, NextGen Climate NH, and the 603 Initiative will host Renew the 603 at Smuttynose on October 1, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. This evening will highlight renewable efforts around the seacoast and what makes these projects possible. Speakers will discuss topics such as technology, policy, and implementation and offer time for answer questions from attendees. Following the talks there will be a reception & brewery tours showcasing the sustainable measures of LEED certified & repurposed Smuttynose Brewery.

Event speakers will include Patrick Jackson & Bobby Lambert , Co-Founders of SunRaise Investments, Joe Harrison, Director of Clean Energy Finance at CDFA, David Funk, Senior Financial Analyst at Enel Green Power North America, Martin Wosnik , Assoc. Mechanical Engineering Professor at UNH's Center for Ocean Renewable Energy, and Lisa Demaine - Climate Activist, University of New Hampshire, will lead discussions as well. Green Alliance Business Partners Peter Egelston, Founder and Owner of Smuttynose Brewery, and Andrew Kellar, Founder of NH Solar Garden will also discuss sustainability in their businesses.

The Business of Politics and Climate Change

By Katelyn | Sep 23, 2015 | in

Written by Peter Egelston, Presdent of Smuttynose Brewing Company, including Smuttynose Brewery, Hayseed Restaurant, and the Portsmouth Brewery. Originally published in the Portsmouth Herald Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

Aside from our mutual appreciation for good beer, Kelley Ayotte and I have something else in common: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in New Hampshire appeals to both of us.

RGGI appeals to Senator Ayotte because it is a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in nine northeastern states, and because RGGI was approved and established in New Hampshire by a bi-partisan state legislature. I like RGGI for those same reasons, and also because the program offers incentives to encourage businesses like mine to opt for conservation and cutting-edge energy efficient technologies when making plans for expansion or new construction. These incentives help make those choices economically viable in the short term, so all of us can benefit in the long term.

Having just returned from meeting with several US Senators and their staffs in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, I want to reflect on my recent Washington, D.C. visit. I met with Senator (Jeanne) Shaheen and several of her colleagues on the Senate Climate Change Task Force. One senator said in the introductions that we were at the "scene of the crime" — that is, we were sitting in the hearing room in which the senate majority will likely vote to reject the Clean Power Plan before the end of the year.