Category Archives: Environmental

Climate change video & website

Medfield’s Mike Barta has been working on the climate change issue by creating a funny video with kids quoting Congressmen and a website that lets each voter know about his or her candidates’ stated position on climate change.

This was the email from Mike -


The campaign explains itself through the two very short videos we made (2
min long). Here’s one of them

We built a web site (OnlyOneClimate.org <http://onlyoneclimate.org/> ) that
enables a voter to type in their mailing address, see the candidates running
for the House and Senate in their district, and see the positions of those
candidates with regard to supporting climate change legislation. The
campaign asks young voters to make support for climate change legislation a
litmus test issue, and to turn out to vote in November.

Environmental Tax Reform panel 10/20

First Parish to Host Panel on Environmental Tax Reform

As part of its Monthly Monday conversation series in the parish vestry, First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Medfield will host a panel on environmental tax reform in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts bill for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, currently before the legislature, seeks to reduce carbon emissions and slow down climate change and, if passed, will also stimulate the economy and create benefits for households and businesses.

Panelists:

Economist and consultant Marc Breslow, Ph.D. is an expert on energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, and government budgets and taxes.

Jessica Langerman is co-founder of Environmental Tax Reform Massachusetts. In 2012, she organized the first public forum on environmental tax reform in Massachusetts, moderated at Babson College by NPR’s Steve Curwood.

Xinghua Li, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of media studies at Babson College, where she has supervised student media projects to promote environmental tax reform.

Steven Bushnell, Ph.D. is a Climate Leader with the Climate Reality Project, and founder and CEO of the ClimateStore, a Massachusetts start-up working to build a national retail brand focused on low carbon living.

The panel will be moderated by Fritz Fleischmann, a professor of English at Babson College and chair of the Green Sanctuary Committee at First Parish, which hosts this event.

Time: Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, 7:30-9:00

Place: First Parish Vestry (entrance from the parking lot behind the church), 26 North Street, Medfield.

Please come and bring your friends!

MSH clean up revving up

The clean up of the MSH C&D site along the Charles River is moving into a very active stage, here lots of teh actual construction work will be taking place.  I was just provided with a schedule issued by DCAMM’s engineers that shows huge work happening now and finishing by December.

The basic essentials of the plan is to remove the trash that had been discarded during the operation of the MSH into the wetlands next to the river for over 100 years, and to pile that wasted material on adjoining the site of the former power plant, but where it will be above the water table, and then to cap it there.  Finally, a new park and river overlook designed by Monique Allen of the Garden Continuum will be installed on top of the cap.

Invasive vine – follow up

Active citizen, Chris McCue Potts had recently focused the town on the problem of an invasive vine, and as a result of her efforts progress is being made.  Below are emails from the Superintendent and Director of the MPR, respectively.

Now just to solve the woolly adelgids confirmed by Mike Lueders (thank you Mike!) in the hemlocks by the tennis courts.


 

Tree Warden Hinkley will take care of bridge on Curve St.


From: “Medfield ParksandRecreation”

Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:23 AM

Subject: Vine Update

Hello All,

The MPR maintenance crew is out today ripping out and bagging as many vines as they can find and then spraying the roots with roundup.  The spread of the vine is all over town.  I noticed it just off they playground on Green Street, at the Pfaff Center and I am sure it has invaded private properties.  Either Ken and/or I will get the Bridge on Curve Street.
Best,

James Snyder, Director of Parks and Recreation

Cut the vine

This from Chris McCue -


7/28/2014 11:40AM
Community needs to cut the vine!
===========================================================
Hi Pete,

Conservation Commission member George Darrell and I live just several houses away on Curve St. and we recently discovered that we’re
both concerned about the rate that invasive plants are taking over Medfield, and we’re joining forces to educate residents and town
organizations about how they can help control them. We welcome anyone else who wants to help (not a big time commitment – probably
seasonal based on particular problem at hand).

Right now we’re focused on the Black Swallow-wort vine that is particularly invasive in Medfield since it’ll be going to seed in
about 1-2 weeks. See Patch article:

http://patch.com/massachusetts/medfield/92e97ee6-0c24-47ce-be1e-88b18367e720#.U9ZmcPldWSo

If you can help get the word out via your blog and encourage people to cut any vines back on their property before the seed pods
open – and encourage them to dispose of the vines in the trash (not yard waste or Transfer Station) — that would be a big help.
Pulling the vines out is a big task, but cutting off vines that have seed pods can be done relatively easily with a “weed whacker”
or hedge trimmer. The vines will come back and need to be cut again, but at least the seeds have been removed in the short term.

We need the town’s help too. Next time you’re at Town Hall, check out the area along the upper west side of the building – along the
fence and in the shrub area adjacent to Starbucks (the photo in the Patch article only shows a small section of the problem). That
swath of land is covered in this vine that now has countless numbers of seed pods. The vines have already started to spread in the
bed along the ground floor of the building near the back entrance, and they’re covering a rhododendron alongside the upper area of
the building. Cutting those vines will help prevent the spread of the vine elsewhere in town, but it has to happen ASAP. (The
library is also getting this vine again after George’s efforts in the past to eradicate it.)

At the very least, any chance you or someone else can get the DPW folks to cut all of the vines around Town Hall back before the
pods open?  Another troublesome spot is alongside Curve St. on the embankment that leads down to the tennis courts, and George or I
will reach out to Jim Snyder at Parks & Rec to see how we might tackle that site. Unfortunately, there are many other sites around
town (public & private) where the vine has taken over, so we’ll need a coordinated approach between the town organizations and
residents to help with the problem.

Anything you can do to spread the word, and persuade our various town organizations to help with this problem, would be much
appreciated.

As always, thanks!

Chris

Warrant Committee on the stretch code

In one of the most contested issues at the 4/28/14 annual town meeting (ATM) the 400 or so residents present voted to not adopt the Stretch Code by a voice vote that I ball parked at 60% – 40%, which resulted in the Town of Medfield unfortunately not qualifying as a Green Community under the Green Communities Act, and more unfortunately in the town not receiving the $148,000 DOER grant available to the town if we did so.

The Stretch Code is a building code that contains requirements to make structures more energy efficient than under the then current building code.  The way it works is that every several years a new Stretch Code is created, and the state eventually makes that Stretch Code into the building code and adopts a new Stretch Code.

Since all of Massachusetts eventually adopts any Stretch Code, to me the issue was whether Medfield would be an early adopter of the forward thinking consensus rules that are designed to be both good for the buildings we put up (they will use less energy and rapidly pay back the extra costs incurred) and for our planet (using less energy reduces the building’s carbon footprint).  In fact, the current Stretch Code becomes the required building code this summer.

I am told that Massachusetts has become the model for the whole nation on what building codes should be used, as the rest of the nation has been adopting the building codes that Massachusetts initiates.

So, by voting down adoption of the Stretch Code, we lost the $148,000 grant money, and yet we still have to live by the Stretch Code.  For your information, what follows are the majority and minority reports put forward by the Warrant Committee members at the 4/28/14 annual town meeting on the Stretch Code.


 

Warrant Committee: Majority Report on Article 35
The Warrant Committee recommends dismissal of Article 35, and does not believe it is in the interest of the Town of Medfield to adopt the Stretch Code at this time. While we appreciate the efforts by the Medfield Energy Committee to obtain “Green Communities” status for Medfield, the costs of the stretch code to Medfield’s residents are not justified by the benefits to the town. In particular, we are mindful that these costs will fall most heavily on those of our citizens least able to bear them. Thus, even if the code may be a net benefit, we must consider its impact on our most vulnerable citizens.

First, the $148,000 grant is a one-time grant to be used only for energy-efficiency projects. It will not lower the tax rate nor can it be used to achieve other longstanding priorities.  We have seen no evidence that this amount will bring significant, long-term benefits to the town.

Second, the stretch code will increase costs on Medfield residents who wish to renovate or remodel their homes. The burden of these costs will fall primarily on those of our residents with the most limited incomes. The renovations at issue may be necessary, and not optional or cosmetic. We think in particular of seniors or others living on fixed incomes who made need to make renovations for safety reasons, or to accommodate physical limitations. Implementing the stretch code will increase their costs.

The supporters of this article have put out charts showing that the increased up front costs of the stretch code will be offset by energy savings later on. The Warrant Committee takes no position on whether these hypotheticals are accurate.

Even if those projections are correct, there is nothing to prevent homeowners from choosing to build to the stretch code or beyond to capture these savings. Indeed, we believe that if it is cost effective to built to the stretch code, the intelligent, well-educated citizens of Medfield will choose what is in their best interest, without it being forced upon them in the name of well-meaning paternalism.

Third, adopting the code will add uncertainty and there for cost, to commercial and residential development at a time when Medfield is seeking additional development and is looking to increased commercial development as a path to mitigate the need for additional residential taxes. Medfield already has its challenges as a site for commercial development, adopting the stretch code in its current and future iterations will only increase that cost and make it less attractive to commercial development.

Finally, we would be committing the town to future, yet-to-be-written versions of the Stretch Code whose costs may be higher than the code currently under consideration. The early adopters will be the ones left to work out the kinks before architects and builders have had time to adjust to the new rules and develop cost-effective means of compliance. Given that everyone will have the option to build or renovate to the code, or beyond, we do not believe it wise to make such an open-ended commitment. Even though we could, in the future, reverse course on this issue, in practice, that is unlikely ever to happen.

Ultimately, it is likely a relatively small minority of Medfield residents who will be negatively impacted by the Stretch Code. But, we must always consider how our decisions impact those least able to bear the costs of those decisions. For these reasons, the Warrant Committee recommends dismissal of Article 35.
H:\My Documents\Warrant Committee\Stretch Code Majority Report.docx


 

Warrant Committee Minority Report in Favor of Passage of Article 35

I wish to make clear that this article is not proposing the introduction of an Energy Code to the town of Medfield, as new buildings, additions, and renovations are presently required to adhere to an existing Massachusetts Energy Code.

The first energy codes in the United States was developed in the 1970s in response to the OPEC oil embargo and energy crisis of that decade. These first energy codes were meant to lessen and try to eliminate the United States dependence on foreign energy sources as both a national and an economic security issue. The energy used in today’s commercial and residential buildings account for over 40% of the total energy used in the United States. So the building energy codes are critical in controlling and conserving the consumption of the nations energy resources. The original intent of the national energy codes as a policy of national energy independence continues to this day but we have now realized that there are additional benefits that include money savings, water conservation, the reduced emissions and health issues related to pollution as well as reduction in man–]made green house gases.

The United States now uses the International Energy Conservation Codes (IECC) that is then adopted by the different states. The 2012 IECC is the most recent published version but presently Massachusetts has only adopted the 2009 version of IECC. The present Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code was adopted in 2009 and closely mimics the 2012 version of the IECC. Massachusetts will be adopting this newer 2012 version of the IECC as its standard energy code as of July of this year (2014). This will make the required Massachusetts energy code and Stretch Code virtually the same until Massachusetts adopts a new Stretch Energy Code sometime in the near future. The arguments that the present Stretch Energy Code

The next Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code will most likely incorporate significant portions of the 2015 IECC which is due to be published later this year (2014). From published reports much of the changes in the 2015 IECC related to residential construction will include new performance paths to compliance that are easier for the public to understand and implement but will require homes to be only slightly more energy efficient than the 2012 IECC.

Without going into the detailed minutia of the energy codes, please also know that neither the new energy code nor the new Stretch Energy code will retroactively require existing buildings to comply with the latest codes. Only new buildings and when a minimum threshold for new additions or renovations is met will the new codes come into effect –]–] and then only on those portions of the building affected by the new work. Doing renovations or additions will not require the whole building or home meet the newest Energy code.

The voters should know that the adoption of the Stretch Energy Code will not have any additional affect on the costs any of the new town buildings being proposed for construction. It has been the Permanent Building Committee’s objective to design and build the town’s new buildings to meet the Stretch Energy Code because the Committee already sees the cost benefits of constructing buildings to the higher energy standards.

The vote on this article should not focus too much on the specifics of the present Stretch Energy Code or its costs. The present Stretch Code will become the required minimum energy code in 2 months. Codes related to the building industry are continually being changed, updated and adopted approximately every three years. As a consequence, the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code will become part of the required Massachusetts standard energy code approximately every three years and a new Stretch Energy Code will take its place.

Much of the arguments against adopting the present Stretch Energy Code because of additional cost to the homeowner will also be moot in 2 months as these special requirements adding these most of these costs will become part of the standard Massachusetts Energy Code on July 1, 2014. These additional costs are also typically a fairly small percentage of the overall costs of the construction.

The minority voting members believe that as the new Stretch Codes are developed anare adopted their additional cost burden on the home owner will be lessen but will still create financial pay backs. The minority voting members of the Warrant Committee feel that the taxpayers should vote in favor on the adoption of the Stretch Energy Code because the higher energy standards and the required verification of the energy performance of our buildings and homes in Medfield provide us with the consumer protection that the buildings and renovations we pay for will perform as they should. The higher standards we implement by committing to adopting the Stretch Energy Code will have many tangible benefits to the individual homeowners, the community, and the entire nation.

Medfield will also be taking the philosophical stance that Medfield is doing more than the minimum requirement to conserve energy in the built environment and that this will help create a country less dependent on foreign energy sources and more control of our energy future.

Should Medfield own its streetlights?

This detailed report is from Medfield’s own Fred Davis on his company’s recent work for the Town of Dartmouth to install LED streetlights, and is taken from Fred’s company’s e-newsletter (see it here on-line if you prefer), documenting a 22% annual return on Dartmouth’s investment in LED streetlights.

Dartmouth is also the town using a system that I have been suggesting that Medfield copy, of making money ($2 m. in Dartmouth) by issuing RFP’s to buy solar power.  This year, until two weeks ago, I thought that I had an annual town meeting (ATM) warrant article coming up to give the selectmen the authority to contract for the 20-30 years required to take the next step to make that happen, but my article slipped through the cracks in the warrant preparation process without my noticing, so it will have to await the next town meeting. -

Time for Technology Upgrade:
 
Replacing Streetlights with High-Efficiency LEDs Saves Dartmouth Almost 70% 

The south coast town of Dartmouth may date to the 1600s, but in the 2000s it has been pursuing the most modern, smart, energy-saving technology. Town Administrator David Cressman adopted photovoltaics for Dartmouth’s municipal electricity. And in 2013, he converted all of Dartmouth’s streetlights to energy-saving LED fixtures.

Cressman had heard favorable reports about LEDs from neighboring Fairhaven as it began phasing them in along their roadways. So when Dartmouth’s maintenance contractor faced changing out many of the bulbs in the old high-pressure-sodium (HPS) fixtures, Cressman knew the time was right to make the change. He was able to complete all the steps to convert to LED technology in less than a year with the aid of recent regulatory and technological developments.

To make any changes to the old fixtures, the town had to first own them. Dartmouth had taken theirs over around 2000. (Since 1997, under MGL C. 164 s.34A, Massachusetts cities and towns may purchase their streetlights from their utility companies.)*

To purchase new LED fixtures, Dartmouth utilized State Contract FAC76 Category 6, which was put into place in 2012 by Massachusetts Operational Services Division in consultation with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The contract provides a procurement path for an eligible municipal entity to purchase LED streetlight fixtures without having to go through a separate bid process.

Cressman worked with state contractor Fred Davis Corporation (FDC), a lighting products distributor with thirty years of experience in energy-efficient lighting. FDC proposed state-of-the-art Cree XSP LED roadway fixtures in five versions to replace the various fixtures that had been illuminating the streets of Dartmouth.

These fixtures bring the best in high-tech engineering to street lighting. High-quality LED streetlights offer extraordinary efficiency by using many small, latest-generation light-emitting diodes, each of which projects precisely the right amount of light in the right direction. Cree XSP fixtures exceed 100 lumens of directed light  per watt of electricity. Fixture efficiency of a representative HPS fixture is only 56 lumens per watt, and even much of that light is wasted.

FDC’s analysis projected overall electricity savings of 68% for Dartmouth’s new streetlights. The striking energy savings are even more remarkable considering that so many of the town’s old fixtures were already low-wattage types.

The proposal to adopt LED streetlights proceeded as would any project of its scale in the town, gaining requisite committee approvals from Capital Improvement, FinCom, and Selectmen. Final adoption came at Dartmouth Town Meeting in June 2013. Purchase, construction, delivery, and installation of the customized fixtures followed over the summer and fall.

The new fixtures come with a 10-year warranty and are rated to last much longer than that, whereas the old HPS fixtures had a life cycle of about six years, with even more frequent lamp and ballast replacements. Cressman was thus able to dramatically lower the cost of the town’s fixture maintenance contract.

The new LED streetlights promise major financial savings in electricity and maintenance. Add to that a substantial energy-efficiency incentive from NStar Electric, and the switchover is projected to pay for itself in under five years.

Residents are very pleased with the way the roads are illuminated. And town officials are thrilled with the cost-effectiveness of the project.

In just the last two years, the best-quality LED streetlight fixtures have dramatically increased in efficiency, and their price has come down at the same time. The Dartmouth project came in costing 30% less, and saving about 30% more energy, than the town originally anticipated.

Upgrading streetlights to LED technology has proven itself a smart opportunity for any city or town.

Number of LED streetlights
1,658
KWH annual reduction projected
418,569
Total cost
$463,483
NSTAR incentive
$104,827
Net municipal cost
$358,656
Total annual Savings projected **
$79,600
Simple payback period (years)
4.5
Annual return on initial investment
22%

** Electricity at $.14 KWH plus maintenance
© 2014 Fred Davis