January 14, 2009

Pioneer Valley Sustainability Network Meeting #9 1/14/09 Notes

Present: Chris Mason-Northampton Energy and Sustainability Officer, Sue Bridge-Conway Board of Health, Rose Diebel-UMASS , Sherry Metzger-VHB, Erin Baker and Rick Taupier-UMASS, Tony Dover-PVPC, Catherine Miller-PVPC, Larry Ely-Amherst, Lynn Benander-Co op Power, Paul Lipke-Health Care without Harm, Nancy Hazard-Greening Greenfield and World Sustain, Pam Cargill-Solar PV installer, Tom Rossmassler and Craig Marden-HAP, Jono Neiger-W. MA Permaculture Guild and Conway School, Eric Weiss-Hilltown Resource Management Collaborative, Jim Barry-Belchertown Select Board, Joanne Sunshower-Shutesbury, David Starr-Green Northampton, Pam Howland

Member Updates:

  • Chris Mason- The city of Northampton has launched an RFQ for an ESCO and hopes to select a business within a month; Green Communities Act monitoring/advocacy, Energy and Sustainability committee met and meets again next week; Chris also serves on the Montague energy committee-similar. In Noho-looking to help residents and businesses improve their energy efficiency and realizing that there is a gap-so facilitating working group to look at creating a western MA energy alliance along the lines of the Cambridge energy alliance.
  • Sue Bridge- More of the same: still working on zero energy home and 7-8 acres of permaculture landscaping.
  • Erin Baker- UMASS staff to project; looks at energy technology policy-very excited about Obama administration-she knows a lot of people up towards the top; comparing research and dev in solar and looking at models.
  • Lynn Benander- Co op power-sustainable energy summit-May 1-2, 2009-1-Friday all day green job training, Friday night dance with Cuban band, conference all day Saturday at campus center inside and outside. Working with community owned energy services company in Boston getting started with 5 community based organizations-Nuestras Raices-Pathways out of poverty create jobs in conservation efficiency and create jobs for young people. Solar hot water expanding to weatherization “barn raising” expanding to include Cambridge and Somerville-will bring to W. Ma eventually and do PV in the Spring.
  • Ben Ewing- Grad student in industrial engineering working on decision support tool, works part-time at MA municipal wholesale electric power company-implementing  solar pv program for munis throughout the state, starting on 15 mw wind farm on Brodie Mt in the Berkshires
  • Rose Diebel- Taking over Ben’s work
  • Staci Metzger-  Transportation planner with VHB in Springfield working on GHG and air quality emissions for developers and transportation planning doing South Hadley and Adams master plans right now
  • Jono Neiger-Conway School-teach permaculture and regenerative design. Student projects just started-larger scale in winter Shelburne Falls-food systems plan/design 10-11 weeks Will Flanders group and other sponsorship-also teaches a summer permaculture class through UMASS-planning an adult ed permaculture design class next Fall, Design Business-a little quieter in winter
  • Patrick Dufour-
  • Larry Ely- Working with Town of Amherst to change the way they function-starting to get traction and feel some push back
  • Craig Marden- HAP green affordable housing program, affordable housing development has dropped off a bit, taught a class at UMASS in building material on energy efficient housing
  • Tom Benjamin- LED professional and currently working for cellulose installer
  • Nancy Hazard- Greening Greenfield making a lot of progress-joined ICLEI, doing energy audit and report will be presented tomorrow night in Greenfield, big finding that they needed to focusing on identifying $$$ 78% of money spent on energy in Greenfield goes out of the city. 86 million $ spent on energy. 68 million went out of the community. Mayor will be announcing long term goals. Town had  DOER audit and received a $250,000 grant to upgrade the building. Also participating in FRCOG ESCO project. Collaborating with CET and local businesses on greening business workshop; PV array on old landfill
  • Pam Cargill- Formerly of Solar wrights-another merger Alteris Renewables, serving on green region strategy, Board of Directors for Springfield area Sustainable Energy association-interested in educating folks on what green energy is; uphill battle because public is not as receptive to green , meeting next Tuesday with a presentation on residential geothermal energy systems, Springfield green drinks-Theodors’ 27th 4th Tuesday of every month
  • Paul Lipke- Stepping out of role as co-founder of SSNE working on health care without harm, has to run out for an Obama transition team meeting! Making first real in roads into extended care community-MA is first in nation to push that out from public health perspective-so they are training public health staff. If you got to EIC health.org you can enter kilowatt hours and see all the illnesses you are causing! Geared toward institutions and large users-for those of you who want more of this kind of meeting-SSNE does have learning community meetings 3-4 times a year and more teaching oriented-skills building and ask Paul for an invite
  • Jim Barry- Select Board of Belchertown here to keep learning had DOER energy audits done and report is coming back soon-met compliance of GCA-forming a community energy committee
  • Tony Dover- PVPC newsletter-if you are not getting it-let him know, and please submit information every 2 months
  • Eric Weiss- Chair, Hilltown resource management collaborative, recycling, chair of MRFF advisory Board and works with 10 different towns on their recycling programs
  • Tom Rossmassler- HAP, green affordable d]housing and project development in various shades of green, slowed due to tax credit side; home ownership side, state has put the brakes on funding starting the Marlboro MBA
  • Joanne Sunshower- NESFI and consultant for non profits, Pioneer Valley sustainable investment summit, PV ag working group-next meeting is Jan 28th 1-4 at El Mercado in Holyoke-working for diverse participation, main focus has been on networking and trying to build up the value added aspect of food systems in PV; NESFI has a mobile processing unit for poultry, Bart’s ice cream and our family farms is looking at a diary processing, Solidago foundation and western MA enterprise fund are both looking to fund value added; with class action women building bridges for ec dev and justice with Amherst and noho survival centers-to fill gap for women trying to achieve ec stability -begginning of 2 year project; sub-group of people trying to protect water resources in MA have achieved a hearing with joint committee on ag, natural resources and env-Rep. Steve Kulik is sponsoring bill on a moratorium on all bottled water plants while DEP studies resources… why target bottled water plants-because MA has a protective law-water is supposed to re-charge. Kulik sponsoring-ask for a draft handout
  • David Starr- Green Northampton-citizens group encouraging more community and less carbon
  • Bill Bickley- Westfield State college sustainability coordinator-4/22 Earth Day next very big event-Sustainability vendor fair all kinds of businesses to showcase what’s possible this is 3rd year-getting bigger and better spread the word. Team-professors, students, administrators wbickley@wsc.ma.edu
  • Rick Taupier- Staff/team members who secured seed funding at UMASS Vice Chancellor for research and coordinate international research, international issues of sustainability, proposal to MacArthur foundation to establish a new Masters degree in sustainable dev practice at UMASS, pool of 15 million 10 grant and 100 competitors. Not a new dept but a joint program offered by 5 existing depts. Public Health, Resource Economics, Public Policy, LARP. Work with 4 universities outside of US:  Ghana, China Colombia and Czech Republic.  Also working with a Mongolian university

EPA funded deliverables update

Erin-start on indicators- planned to be bottom up tempered by research on indicators across N America. We came up with categories, long list of possible indicators-we need to prioritize them and narrow them down to a certain degree because we will be able to collect only a certain amount of information. Share results of survey. Originally idea was to survey members and try to get more people to vote. Question-do we want to do that? Or should we stop-agree on what we have and start data collection. It’s up to you, because you will be the ones who have to get people involved.

Results-why narrow-because of data collection challenges– people will get overwhelmed-we need something that people can grasp-too much will be overwhelming.   Turn page-review handout carbon footprint and emissions-may be much easier to measure emissions v footprint

  • Health status popular
  • Voter participation much easier to measure
  • Total waste popular
  • Leadership accountability would be more fun-we have this list…so we have this list-we can use this data for grant proposals-in next 6 months we have to collect data, but we are not throwing any of this information away-some we can act do now-other we will need to wait.

Last page-Erin’s suggestions of prioritization. On right are fundamental objectives-we don’t want indicators that don’t include all 6-all covered pretty weak-one that we are lowest on is cultural vitality-local food production, so she included bottom 2 because they relate to cultural vitality.


a) stop voting and start data collection
b) ask for more votes-
c) both.-we recommend both!

Questions-we need to meet grant goals-does sending it out to wider audience help? Yes-

How do we manage who gets survey? Send it out to public, advertise through members


  • Chris- Do we have money to do presentations on this? Plan was to use intro as is. Problems-website wasn’t working and Chris would like to participate
  • Sue- Social scientists by training and very enthusiastic about this kind of project-understand why we need to simplify, but at the same time, doesn’t understand how we could have a data base that doesn’t include health, size etc of flora and fauna of region
  • Lynn- Wants consensus on these being the right data-wants talk from members so the group officially endorses the measures-have a special meeting on that
  • Jono- Get it out-god idea and can get people involved and market pvsn
  • Patrick- For indicators-have we looked at data sources yet? No-we have no idea how we would collect.
  • Joanne- 12-18 is a number we are shooting for. Erin likes 12; 18 is max from her Joanne – too much on natural and this list looks like a rather conventional list. We need more conversation. If you want a valley wide sustainability indicator, we have to reflect farms of Franklin and cities of Hampden-diversity! We need to do more selling if we want diverse participation in voting
  • Staci- Equity-web survey is skewed to people who have computers
  • Joanne-don’t want to burden us, but…
  • Larry- Jump in second Lynn-we need more buy in as a group
  • Nancy- Original survey too arcane-valuable tool
  • Rick- I agree with Lynn-we should have a meeting to talk about indicators-turning out to be kind of elusive-we are trying to be very broad and democratic in coming up with choices-for god reason not just because its out ethical approach but also because we want community buy in because we want people to believe the indicators actually do assess sustainability., but we keep having this problem-most of us are appalled by the notion that we wouldn’t have a biodiversity measure, AND YET when we poll people, it keeps dropping out! And Erin made a great case for obesity and it’s not there.. so, are there a certain set of things that we as a group of experts say-it has to be in here. Regardless of how people vote!  And what are they?
  • Erin- Summarize-need a meeting on indicators.  Can we do it today? No but yes-Rick can start moving forward with these NOW!!!!
  • Paul- Leery of putting indicator concepts out there if we can’t measure it! Problem of definitions on website-we need definitions-what does it mean? Rick-if we meet in a month, Rick can tell us what is possible to easily measure. We’re starting from pre-filtered list.
  • How many will come?  12 process will be determined later-sub groups or not???
  • Agenda- Process for how we are going to finish this up AND indicators
  • Lynn has a lot of facilitation ideas-she’s volunteering to facilitate.
  • Consensus check-Lynn’s assumption is that there will be a hybrid of democratic voting process and professional expertise.
  • Weds 2/11 9-11 am

Green Building calculator: powerpoint-get this to post on website

Any building-interface will come last-experts on solar PV hot water are invited to contact Ben with input

Goal-to keep what requiring from user to a bare min. user has to fill in information in user data section annual electric load, fuels they use for heat, amount of fuel they use per year, method of water hearing efficiency of heater, annual electric load, size of space, number of floors type red or comm. # occupants, discount rate to evaluate future cots. Having filled all that info is to the best of their ability user scrolls down and can chose to select diff tech to modify their system-solar pv geothermal biomass biodiesel, daylighting- skylights to reduce electric costs, solar hot water and for efficiency measures compact fluorescent switch  to more efficient refrigerator, change windows, update insulation

Output of tool will be 3 metrics financial cost of what you chose. Compare what user selected with what their current set up status quo-show financial cost emissions cost, cost of health impacts data from Paul

Included rebates and incentives. Need to factor in wood heat, pellet stoves and BTU calculators

  • Comments:
  • Pam- This is great-company she works for has an in-house tool similar to this, giving the environmental impact data in terms of tons of CO2 is not very meaningful to them-they are working on making it more manageable to users-more metaphorical and tangible. Analytical data food for some, but others want metaphorical stuff. This is great!
  • Larry- Person needs an average measure-compared to US-add a baseline comparison to Europeans, developing countries, Japans, etc… makes it possible if they can do it, we can.
  • Craig- Can you add stuff? Missing-air sealing a building has greatest payback-not sexy, but essential. Re-order to prioritize high impact. Less sexy put at top-rank by cost effectiveness. HAP has net present value data form New Ecology inc in Boston.
  • Plug the holes then put the solar collectors up
  • Health data is not regionalized for density
  • Stacy will send GHG emissions information to Erin ben.r.ewing@gmail.com

Network business

Eric- Steering committee met last month:

4 items: organizing document for pvsustain; website; retreat; art of sustainability

  • Sue, Catherine and Eric met to develop content of organizing document-what is network, who are we, how do we function, what are we working on what have we accomplished? We have a web presence and want to solidify members wishes and be clear who we are we need to get organized. Sue-who’s the audience of the document? For us to tell people what we are part of and so that we can explain to potential members who we are and whether or not they want to join. Status-it’s well under way. Draft will be out soon to all for review to steering comm.–Lynn, Larry, Jeff, Patrick, Paul, Jono, Sue, Catherine, Eric
  • Website-we will shift to live interactive website .org  in the coming weeks.  Need .org for grants in the future and current sire static
  • Work committee wants to do: speaker’s bureau of sustainability professional s. Send us your abilities and requirements-searchable data base where members enter their data.
  • Retreat in Fall 09-focus on us. Talk with Hampden co people to make sure they come
  • Educate policy makers? Larry wants us to do this.
  • Outreach to local leaders-we must keep this on agenda.
  • Pam-commenst-1) weekend; 2) need to reach out to professionals yes, but we all spend so much time educating others-this is the sustainability trade organization.
  • Art of sustainability-Bill Bickley will host in April!

Membership framework-

  • 30,000 /year is what we have now
  • 2 tiered system of orgs and individuals-some representing orgs and others individuals-
  • Group needs to won the budget-what do we want to spend money on?
  • We need an itemized budget-how does it get spent and who’s doing what?
  • Have sliding scale fee based on organizations’ operating budget-tithe? ¼ percent of budget
  • Turn into a 501(c)3???
  • Do we want grant $ or do we want independence? A lot of professional orgs has an itemized list of benefits-create a membership benefits brochure.
  • Fundraising?
  • Paul-have sponsorships available to cover scholarships or subsidized memberships-have layers of membership and opportunity to sponsor others
  • Assumptions-Lynn really doesn’t want to incorporate-you have a board and reporting and accounting etc etc  etc she wants a network-don’t incorporate and do the work and stay connected. We should not compete for funding PVPC  is happy to stay as org parent
  • 1-define budget
  • 2 tiered membership-$50 v $250 sliding
  • Need sales pitch-org doc will meet that need

Next Meeting March 18, 2009 in Holyoke

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