May 13, 2009

Pioneer Valley Sustainability Network Meeting #11 5/13/09 Notes

Present: Erin Baker -UMASS, Catherine Miller-PVPC, Nancy Hazard-Greening Greenfield and World Sustain, Pam ,Tom Rossmassler -HAP, Jono Neiger-W. MA Permaculture Guild and Conway School, Eric Weiss-Hilltown Resource Management Collaborative, Bill Baue-Sea Change Radio, Patrick Dufour, Julie Johnson-Hitchcock Center, Rich Roth-Tnr Global, Kirsten Bonanza- Pioneer Valley Local First, Ben Ewing-UMASS, Bill Bickley-Westfield State College Sustainability Coordinator, Jeff Brown-Ridebuzz

Member Updates:

  • Catherine Miller-coordinating regional grant proposal for competitive portion of new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program
  • Erin Baker-UMASS staff to project; going o sabbatical next year-will be at Stanford but still involved in project remotely, will be working on behavioral study on climate change and energy efficiency—why don’t people invest in what you’d think they would
  • Ben Ewing-grad student in industrial engineering working on decision support tool, will be going to work for ISO New England
  • Jono Neiger-Conway School-teach permaculture and regenerative design. Asks members to consider students for projects in the Fall, will be running a 2-week permaculture design course at the Sirius community this summer
  • Patrick Dufour—
  • Tom Rossmassler-HAP green affordable housing program is winding down, HAP has hired numerous new employees because of demand for affordable housing—working on foreclosure prevention and also  working to educate the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET) that poor people do not have the money to pay for solar PV up front
  • Nancy Hazard-Greening Greenfield making a lot of progress-has launched 10% challenge and is looking for ways to post information about human behavior
  • Eric Weiss-Chair, Hilltown resource management collaborative, recycling, chair of MRFF advisory Board and works with 10 different towns on their recycling programs—got a lot of publicity on Earth Day
  • Bill Bickley Westfield State college sustainability coordinator-had a very successful Earth Day event
  • Jeff Brown-had a very successful music festival, UMASS students did a lot of work, working to reach out to economically disadvantaged people and elders who could most benefit from ride sharing
  • Julie Johnson-raising funds for new green building for the center, developing K-12 curriculums
  • Rich Roth and Kirsten Bonanza-developing Green Comm to coordinate and organize green efforts in the region

EPA funded deliverables update:

Erin-provided an overview of baseline data available on indicators (see attachment) Group brainstormed additional sources of data

Decision Support Tool

Ben-demonstrated it and group commented. It is an excel spreadsheet right now and team is looking into hiring a graphic designer to “make it look pretty”

Comments:

  • How changeable is the tool? Answer: pretty easy to update it.
  • Please add in averages—so that users will have a sense of where they stand and how much they could do
  • Please add in a PDF page of assumptions so advanced users can know what designers of tool were thinking
  • Try to make it more “motivational”
  • Is there a plan for marketing the tool? Not yet.
  • Suggest need to stay up to date on zero net energy
  • If region receives EECBG funding—the tool will be a great mechanism for driving demand
  • Consider posting the tool on web using “open office” or perhaps Google docs
  • Make sure there is an explanation of BTU/square foot in dollars
  • Consider reaching out to realtors so there is a green standard for house sales

Sustainability of the Network

Eric presented proposed organizing document (see attachment)

Comments:

Look at Co op Power language to integrate multi racial and cross class; integrate mention of education in case we ever plan to apply for 501-C3 status; add environmental justice and equity; add activists, educators and professionals; look at Earth Charter for language; like idea of having “Guiding Principles”; add: respect diversity; environmental justice, and sustainable communities; facilitate information exchange; support collaboration; support members programs and projects; encourage development of working groups

Group requested an update on what staff is doing—this will be e-mailed

Reviewed proposed membership fee structure

Comments:

Have 5 categories-medium: $250,000-500,000-cost $250
Large: $500,000-1,000,000-cost $500
Extra large: $1,000
Include a student member @ $10
Major corporate sponsor-negotiable
Check on regulations for 501-C3—dues may have to be under $1,000 for tax purposes

Discussion:

Are we in a crisis situation or do we have time to get organized so that we can add more value to members and then start charging fees—decision: we are NOT in crisis yet—staff will work on website and we will continue this conversation at future meetings

Other items:

  • Web site-Changes are still in progress—PVPC intern and web committee still have a lot of work to do
  • Skills bank—Hidden Tech has a skills bank structure that we could use—proposal to offer the skills bank for a fee???
  • Fall Event—proposal is to have a cocktail party/dinner with a recognized “big thinker” on sustainability issues. Possible invitees are –Elizabeth Kolbert; Ross Gelbspan; William Moomaw

Next Meeting July 15, 2009 in Greenfield???—idea to have a meeting that is networking only—a real breakfast and lots of delicious, intriguing conversation… what do you think??????

Sustainability Decision Tool

The Sustainability Decision Tool was designed by Ben Ewing and Rose Zdybel, while graduate students at UMass Amherst under the supervision of Professor Erin Baker.  The tool is designed to help people make decisions regarding energy usage, considering financial, environmental, and health-related concerns.

The tool is an excel spreadsheet and can be found here:

Decision tools – spreadsheet (Nov 2009)
spreadsheet May 11, 2010 release (1.19 MB)

Instructions for Energy Tool (please send comments to Rose Zdybel (rozoe@msn.com)

Papers describing the Tool can be found here:

Thesis: DECISION TOOL for GREEN ENERGY

Development of Green Building Decision Support Tool

A discussion of  a collaborative process for developing a decision tool to support decisions around investment in green energy technologies.  Our tool was developed specifically for the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, a local environmental education organization, and the development process began as an undergraduate student service learning project. Building on the student projects, we developed an Excel-based tool that allows users to select various combinations of technologies and instantly see the financial and environmental impacts of their choice.  Given our initial parameters and the preferences of the Hitchcock Center staff, the optimal configuration included installing a biomass heating system but avoiding investment in other green technologies, yielding an annualized preference-adjusted cost of $5,814.   Sensitivity analysis indicated that the overall cost is most sensitive to the discount rate, the marginal cost of damages due to carbon emissions, the amount of electricity used at the center, and the price of electricity.  We calculated the Expected Value of Perfect Information and found that the  most valuable information was  on the cost of maintaining a biomass heating system.