Session Set on Williamstown 'Stretch Code'
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Center for Ecological Technology's hosting an information session on the new state building stretch code this Thursday, April 29, at 7 at the Williams Inn.
The town's looking to adopt the code as part of its pursuit toward becoming a Green Community. The code's been placed on the town warrant.
It calls for higher-energy efficiency standards in new construction, whether new homes or additions, and covers certain commercial buildings as well. Proponents say the extra cost (anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000) will be quickly paid back through energy costs.
About a third of the state's municipalities have indicated they will pursue adoption of the code this year. Pittsfield adopted it last week.
An overview of the new standards and the cost/benefits will be presented. The public is encouraged to attend. For information contact, Nancy Nylen of CET at 413-458-5688 or Lauren Gaherty of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission at 413-442-1521, Ext. 35.
|Tags: building code, information|
5 Simple Things for Earth Day
The Nature Conservancy sent us simple things anyone can do to take the pressure off Mother Earth on April 22, the 60th anniversary of the first Earth Day. You can make difference even with the smallest act.
Often it's the smallest changes – multiplied by millions of people – that have the biggest impact. Here are five simple things that we all can do on Earth Day and beyond:
1. Know your carbon footprint: We all want to be greener in our daily lives, but in order to do that effectively, we each need to know our carbon footprint. Take five minutes (really, it's that quick!) and use The Nature Conservancy's online tool at www.nature.org/carboncalculator. Then, commit to using just a little less carbon.
2. Time your shower: With the warmer months ahead of us, now is the time to start thinking about conserving our water. The next time you take a shower, time it. The next day, reduce that time by a minute or two. If you listen to music, shut off the faucet after two songs.
3. Go for a walk: Even if it's just around the block, getting outside is one of the best things you can do to connect to nature. Bring your kids, too. A growing body of research suggests that a lack of exposure to nature is linked to rises in obesity, attention-deficit disorder and depression in children.
4. Speak up on climate change: Sen. John Kerry – along with Sens. Lieberman and Graham - have introduced national legislation to reduce U.S. emissions. This is a critically important step in the fight against climate change. Let your legislators know you support it!
5. Find a farmer's market: Farmer's markets – selling locally made fare – abound throughout the summer and fall. Find one near you at www.farmfresh.org and mark a date in your calendar to check it out. Or, simply opting for a PB&J instead of roast beef once or more a week is a great way to green your lunch.
|Tags: Earth Day|
Farmers Markets Coming to a Service Plaza Near You
Want some squash to go with your fill-up?
Next month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will begin its annual farmers market program, which brings farmers markets to 18 highway service plazas throughout the commonwealth. MassDOT says it's expanded the 10-year-old program from 11 turnpike locations last year to all 18 state highway service plazas this year.
MassDOT invites local farmers to take advantage of free vending space to sell their home-grown produce and made-in-Massachusetts products. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Massachusetts Turnpike service plazas located in Lee (east /west), Blandford (east /west), Ludlow (east /west), Charlton (east /west), Westborough, Framingham and Natick. New this year are service plaza locations on Interstate 95 in Newton, Lexington , Route 128 Beverly, Route 24 Bridgewater (north /south), Route 3 Plymouth and Route 6 Barnstable.
Farmers can sell their goods as long as they do not compete with the businesses that operate within the service plazas. MassDOT also assists in setting up and promoting the markets.
To date, there are farmers already signed up for Charlton East and West, Lee East, Blandford West and Westborough. Local farmers or customers who want more information should contact program coordinator Dave Fenton at email@example.com or 413-572-3171.
|Tags: farmers markets|
Bruins' Beauty Sleep Ending
Mass Wildlife says it's time to take down those bird feeders in Western Mass. With the snow melting and longer day length, bears will soon be leaving their winter dens and feeders should be removed by mid-March at the latest.
"There is little in the way of natural foods and bears learn to seek out high-energy human foods such as bird seed," says Laura Hajduk, DFW Bear Project Leader. "This may lead to conflicts that pose hazards to both bears and people."
According to Mass Wildlife:
|Massachusetts is home to approximately 3,000 resident bears, with the majority living west of the Connecticut River. Although many bears keep to their dens during the winter, some can be sporadically active and can seek out human related food sources. If you notice bear activity in the area earlier than mid-March, be proactive and remove bird feeders and other potential food sources promptly.
Bears have excellent long-term memories and remember which foods are available at different seasons, as well as where these foods can be found. Even if a feeder is inaccessible to bears, they will be attracted by the scent of seed and suet. Once they learn the location of these foods, bears will return. Bears are typically shy and fearful of people, but deliberate feeding or indirect availability of human food, coupled with a lack of harassment can cause bears to become accustomed to people. If bears lose their fear of people and develop a taste for human foodstuffs, bears can become bolder and may cause damage that ultimately results in harm to people or to the demise of the animal.
Don't leave out trash or pet foods either and keep sheds and barns locked. During the summer, don't put meat or sweet items in the compost piles — bears can sniff them out.
Hajduk said taking these actions also reduces problems with other common wildlife species such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. More black bear information can be found at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/living/living_with_bears.htm.
|Tags: bears, birds|
State Lets the Sun Shine More
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Solar enthusiasts and citizens looking to try renewable energy will be happy to note the state's pouring more money into a popular rebate program solar panels.
How popular? Well, the $68 million Commonwealth Solar fund ran out of money in 22 months and it was supposed to last three to four years.
According to The Boston Globe, the Department of Energy Resources has fast-tracked a new, albeit less flush, program that will pump some $4 million a year to homeowners and businesses across the state for solar projects that generate up to 5 kilowatts of energy.
Even better, there's no sun set, or end, date to this program. Instead, it's based on the hope that now pricey solar systems — averaging $33,500 — will drop in cost as they become more commonplace.
Don't forget the governor's set a goal of the state generating 250 megawatts of solar energy by 2017.
There are a few solar-system installers in the area and more Berkshire businesses are looking skyward, despite the recent gray skies. Country Curtains was the most recent.
You can find more on state and federal incentives for solar at the DSIRE site here.
|Tags: solar, rebates|