Thursday, April 28, 2011

Green Needham receives NSTAR grant to promote improved home energy assessments

It’s a classic win-win situation — Green Needham Collaborative has been awarded a grant from NSTAR to make Needham greener and more energy efficient. The goal is to get more Needham residents to take advantage of NSTAR’s no-cost home energy assessments and to follow up with efficiency upgrades. Green Needham is honored to be selected to take part in this pilot program, which gives community organizations a chance to promote NSTAR’s energy efficiency programs. In fact, the more energy that is saved in Needham, the more bonus money is given to Green Needham by NSTAR to help us further our work for sustainability. Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe -Green Blog-Posted by Eleanor Rosellini


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2 electric cars earn top safety ratings

DETROIT — The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf got top safety ratings in some of the first tests of electric cars by insurer-funded researchers.Both earned top scores for front, side, and rear impact crashes and for rollover crash protection in tests for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lobster-shell golf balls may revive cruise ship pastime

University of Maine researchers want to drive the state’s lobsters back to sea — with a 3-iron.

An engineer, a scientist, a student, and an alumna have teamed up to develop a biodegradable golf ball from crushed lobster shells that could be used on cruise ships.

Inexpensive to make, the ball is designed to sink and degrade within weeks, depending on the ocean’s depth and temperature. The balls would degrade in a similar time frame in fresh water — and break down if lost in the woods, although that would take longer.

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe -Green Blog by Beth Daley

Friday, April 22, 2011

The bioplastics industry may have a new symbol to slap on its products and packaging – an abstract plant to denote plastics made without petroleum.

More than 1,500 designers submitted entries into a contest seeking an icon to represent plastics created using potatoes, corn, wheat, tapioca, sugar, algae and other natural materials.

The competition, backed by El Segundo bioplastics maker Cereplast Inc., was inspired by the 1970 contest that produced the image of three green arrows now ubiquitously as the emblem of recycling.

UntitledArticle courtesy of The Los Angeles Times-Greenspace by -- Tiffany Hsu

Read more:








Water pumped from Japan plant

TOKYO — The difficult task of pumping highly radioactive water out of the basement of a turbine building at a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant began yesterday, but officials cautioned that the work would be slow and difficult.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that it planned to pump 10,000 metric tons of water into a storage building at a rate of 480 tons a day, which would take nearly three weeks. The company is still working on ways to remove an additional 57,500 tons of highly contaminated water at the same building, Unit 2, and at other nearby buildings.

Read more:





Home / Lifestyle / Green Living

The controversial Cape Wind project now has every federal permit it needs to start construction in the fall, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday.

The approval of an 800-page construction and operations plan for the 130 turbine project in Nantucket Sound was widely expected, but Salazar traveled to Boston to make the announcement, saying it illustrates the Obama administration’s commitment to wind power, especially along the blustery Atlantic Coast.

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe –Green Blog by Beth Daley Globe Staff




Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hub set to launch bike-share program

Menino to sign deal worth nearly $6m today; 600 bikes, 61 stations to be ready by July

Boston’s bike-share program, scheduled to debut this summer with 600 bicycles and 61 stations in the city, was modeled after a similar program in Washington, D.C. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

As early as this summer, residents and visitors taking quick trips in Boston will be able to rent bicycles from dozens of sidewalk kiosks, under an agreement expected to be signed today that will create a bike-sharing network inspired by those in Paris and Washington.

Boston officials said the system, to be called Hubway, will open in July with 600 bicycles and 61 stations in the city, though they envision growing in a few years to as many as 5,000 bikes at more than 300 kiosks, from Brookline to Somerville.

At an afternoon ceremony with bicycling advocates, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is scheduled to sign a contract worth nearly $6 million with a company called Alta Bicycle Share to build and operate Hubway for three years. Alta is also behind a program that debuted last year in the Washington area and now boasts 1,100 cherry-red bicycles at 114 stations

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe by Eric Moskowitz




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Massachusetts || Fall River Hopes Commuter Rail Will Attract New Residents

The city of Fall River, Massachusetts, is hoping to attract new residents with a commuter rail line from Boston, designed to combat a population drain over the last decade. “We know that commuter rail is part of the whole package of making a community attractive,” said Kristina Egan, the manager for South Coast Rail, a state agency planning the Fall River and New Bedford lines. Recently the city came one step closer when Mayor Will Flanagan announced zoning measures that would allow development of the proposed Fall River Depot station.
According to projections made by regional planning officials, more than 600 new housing units will be built within a one-mile radius of the proposed Fall River Depot station by the year 2030. “People will live here and continue to work in Boston, as long as they know they have a reliable form of transportation,” said Ken Fiola, vice president of the city’s office of economic development.
Article courtesy of Smart Grown Online

Many Americans Prefer Short Commutes Over Large Homes

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released a study indicating that Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. The Community Preference Survey found that 80 percent of respondents still prefer detached single-family homes, but 56 percent were willing to trade such neighborhoods for less driving.  Similarly, 59 percent would trade their larger home preference for shorter commutes – 20 minutes at most.
Conducted by Belden Russonello & Stewart LLC, the survey of 2,071 adults nationwide says that “ideally, most Americans would like to live in walkable communities where shops, restaurants, and local businesses are within an easy stroll from their homes and their jobs are a short commute away; as long as those communities can also provide privacy from neighbors and detached, single family homes.” Most respondents prioritize shorter commutes and single-family homes above other considerations.”
Article courtesy of Smart Growth Online

An Earth Day Message From Conservation International

Somewhere in the U.S., as you read this, a young girl breathes
clean air. A new father drinks clean water. And a grandmother is
protected against pollutants like soot, mold and mercury.

These things happen, in part, because of actions taken by
people like you. In 1970, everyday people in the U.S. and around the
world came together for the first Earth Day, raising awareness of how human
health was at risk because we weren't taking care of the natural environment.

This new awareness led the U.S. to enact the Clean Air Act,
the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. It also led to
the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.And it galvanized a global conservation movement, one that understands that people need nature to thrive.

This Friday, April 22, hundreds of millions of people in
nearly every country on Earth will celebrate the 41st anniversary of
Earth Day. We hope this newsletter, with inspiring stories from Conservation
International (CI), helps illustrate just how much the spirit of Earth Day lives on -- and inspires the work that YOU support to make sure that we protect ecosystems, and the people who rely upon them, now and forever
Article courtesy of Conservation International.  To view their newsletter visit


Monday, April 18, 2011

Green Your Theme-Park Day: Stay Close to Home

With summer approaching, it's time to start planning family vacations. This week's tips will help you green your theme-park day so that you can have fun and still be kind to the environment.

Why waste time on the road when you could spend it enjoying more rides and games with loved ones? Picking a park close to home presents less of a hassle and it's better for the environment. Consider taking public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint; with gas prices climbing, your wallet will thank you as well. A bonus: You won't have to worry about idling in heavy traffic.



BP oil spill has lasting effects, one year later

One year after the Gulf oil spill: A widow learns to adjust to life without her husband. A charter fisherman feels the effect of canceled trips. A well worker considers quitting, but the paycheck proves too enticing.

Nearly one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up, killing 11 people and starting the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, life goes on with many adjustments in the Gulf of Mexico.

Read more:,0,6578241.htmlstory

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times -Greenspace


Vermont Yankee nuclear plant owners file suit to stay operating

Owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant filed a federal lawsuit this morning to prevent Vermont lawmakers from shutting the plant down when its 40-year license expires next year.

Vermont is the only state in the country that requires a nuclear plant to get legislative approval for a license extension. Last year, the state Senate voted 26-4 to close the Vernon plant, near the Massachusetts border.

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog by Beth Daley-Globe Staff

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sounds of exploring and drilling for oil and gas impact Arctic wildlife

Most marine species in the Arctic depend on sound to survive. Sound is so important to them because their vision is limited in the darkness of the deep sea. Sound that is anywhere from a few feet to a few thousand miles away helps them find food and mates, communicate with each other and avoid danger.

That’s why unnatural noises in the sea are a serious threat to marine species. The noises associated with oil and gas exploration and drilling are particularly harmful to wildlife in the Arctic Ocean – polar bears, endangered whales, walruses, seals, sea birds and other species.  One of the main culprits is seismic air gun surveys. A seismic air gun is a mechanism that creates an explosive impulse down through the water and into the seafloor to help search for oil deposits. The noise can lead to permanent hearing loss and even death.

Read more:




Research Reveals Regional Differences in Indoor Air Quality Across US

High humidity in a home can not only be extremely uncomfortable, it can contribute to allergies and respiratory diseases and even foster the growth of dust mites, molds and bugs. To gain a clearer understanding of where high levels of indoor humidity occur, as well as the contributing factors, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) to collect a full year of interior humidity and temperature data from 60 homes within three different regions of the United States: the warm, humid Southeast, the cold Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.

The study was aimed at aiding efforts already underway by the ASHRAE Standard Committee 160P and others to develop moisture modeling tools and related technical standards. SWA researchers used Onset® HOBO® U12 Data Loggers to record temperature and humidity levels around-the clock and then used HOBOware® Pro software to convert the data to time-stamped graphs for analysis.

Read more:

Article courtesy of HOBO e-news (




How much fresh water is used for agriculture?

Sometimes, numbers can startle you.

Like this one: A tomato is more than 90 percent water. Or this one: Of all the fresh water used by people around the world, more than two-thirds goes to agriculture … and much of it is flat-out wasted.

This is, no doubt, a startling state of affairs — more startling than all the water sucked up by that ripe, juicy tomato. But it’s also an opportunity. We feed billions now despite all our waste. Imagine what we can do when we get our act together.

Learn More

Let’s get one thing straight. People absolutely need water for crop irrigation. As the world’s population blooms over the next 50 years, we’ll need more water for crops, not less. In fact, scientists estimate that we’ll need to double our supply of fresh water by 2050 to meet all of humanity’s water needs.

Yet at current rates of loss, the remaining 11 percent of freshwater ecosystems that provide people with all of these services will be gone by the same year.

How can we respond?

We need to use agricultural water much more efficiently.

  • We must combine these efforts with management of entire ecosystems — from river catchments all the way to the ocean — to maintain freshwater species and services.

What We’re Doing

·         In the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Conservation International (CI) is studying the region’s extensive system of underground streams and lakes — sacred groundwater that once supported the Mayan civilization. In part, this means measuring how agriculture affects the area’s extraordinary biodiversity.

·         But it also means assessing human water use and needs so that the area’s indigenous people continue to have clean water. In the end, we’ll come up with a water-use plan that makes suggestions on how the Yucatan can support both more tourism and more agriculture without damaging water supplies.

·         If this effort is successful, we’ll be able to replicate it around the world.

Article courtesy of Conservation International (




Thursday, April 14, 2011

MassINC releases climate change poll

MassINC is proud to present a new survey and research report of Massachusetts' residents views on climate change: their concern over its seriousness, and their willingness to take action. The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, found that about three quarters of Massachusetts residents say global warming is happening and more than half also say it is caused by human activity, but there is little sense of concern to address the problem. The Barr Foundation sponsored study, entitled “The 80 Percent Challenge: A Survey of Climate Change Opinion and Action in Massachusetts,” also indicates that Bay State residents do not see efforts to address global warming as incompatible with economic growth and would even pay more for renewable energy. Read more.
Article courtesy of MassINC

Testimony shows Pa. regulators give little scrutiny to gas-drilling outfits

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Pennsylvania environmental regulators say they spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing each of the thousands of applications for natural gas well permits they get each year from drillers intent on tapping the state’s lucrative and vast Marcellus Shale reserves.

And the regulators say they do not give any additional scrutiny to requests to drill near high-quality streams and rivers even though the waterways are protected by state and federal law.

Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog by  Michael Rubinkam




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Green Your Garden: Better Fertilizers

This week's tips are about how to cultivate a sustainable garden; the goal is to keep you seeing green through the end of summer.

Synthetic and chemical-laden fertilizers do the environment no favors. Instead, consider making your own compost, getting into vermiculture, or using manure (from your own backyard chickens, perhaps?), kelp meal, or other organic fertilizers

Article courtesy of The Green Life(


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Japan, Chernobyl may hint at future

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine — Forbidding under a cold, gray sky, the dead atomic power plant here is a living enterprise.

The explosion that struck 25 years ago, in the world’s worst nuclear accident, set in motion a major undertaking that today bears on the life of the entire country. It is a model, or a warning, for what could await Japan. The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant will at some point be contained — but then there begins a national project from which there is no exit strategy. Read more:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog by Wil Englund/ Washington Post

Monday, April 11, 2011

GE plans $600m solar panel plant

NEW YORK — Expanding into the growing renewable energy market, General Electric Co. said yesterday that it will build a $600 million solar panel factory, the nation’s biggest, to produce the same type of “thin film’’ panels made by First Solar Inc., the biggest producer.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bats worth billions

Ever since bats literally began falling out of the Northeast winter sky four years ago, scientists have raced to understand a mysterious illness that has caused bat populations to regionally decline more than 70 percent.

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe –Green Blog-posted by Beth Daley

Water, minus the plastic

It’s one of those ideas that is so simple, you wonder why nobody ever thought of it before: selling bottled water without the bottle from a vending machine.

Ken Kellaway Jr., a former trucking company executive, has founded a company called Pura Vida H2O Inc., based in Randolph MA, to provide vending machines that will dispense purified water into reusable bottles. The machines filter and chill ordinary tap water on site, so there’s no need to truck water in to replenish the supply, and there are no plastic bottles.More:

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe –Green Blog by Calvin Hennick Globe Reporter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

|| Boston to Revive its City Hall Plaza to Create Community Gathering Space

Massachusetts-Boston is redesigning its City Hall Plaza as part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's Green Grow District. Boston is one of the first five recipients of EPA's new Greening America's Capitals technical assistance under a joint EPA-HUD-DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities project. Constructed along with City Hall in 1963-68, the barren, nine-acre red brick plaza lost its attraction as a public open space over the last few decades. Within the next 10 years, the plaza will be replaced with trees, a redesigned subway station, and an amphitheater for concerts, theater performances and special events.

Article courtesy of Smart Growth online

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Japan's ocean radiation hits 7.5 million times legal limit

The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish.
Read more---,0,2697428.story
Article Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times by Kenji Hall and Julie Makinen- Reporting from Tokyo

Monday, April 4, 2011

FW: In green era, an old idea gains steam

Energy company, city working together to use byproduct of electricity generation to heat and cool buildings
When Veolia Energy North America recently agreed to buy surplus heat from a Cambridge power plant and use it to warm downtown Boston buildings, it was widely celebrated as a green solution to a problem of a company discharging hot, harmful water into the cool Charles River. Read more:
Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog by Beth Daley -Globe Staff

FW: Traces of radioctive iodine found in air

Barely detectable amounts of radioactive iodine, presumably linked to compromised nuclear reactors in Japan, have been found in the air in Massachusetts, state health authorities said yesterday. Readings conducted Tuesday found what the Department of Public Health described as a very low level of radioiodine, also known as I-131. The readings, conducted as a part of routine environmental monitoring, were only slightly above the lowest level that can be detected. Similarly minute levels have been detected in other states, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has described such readings as “hundreds of thousands to millions of times below levels of concern.’’

Article courtesy of The Boston Globe-Green Blog

FW: Solar panels power Central Valley pistachio farm

Nichols Field 4.jpeg
Alongside the sprawling grove of pistachio trees at Nichols Farms near Fresno, a 6-acre solar-panel installation is now up and running.

The 1-megawatt concentrating photovoltaic project, built by Bechtel Power Corp. and featuring SolFocus technology, is being called the first of its kind in the agricultural Central Valley.

The plant is connected to the Southern California Edison grid and will produce enough electricity to cover 70% of the 50-year-old pistachio farm’s demand. The technology involves a system of reflective optics that concentrates sunlight at 650 times the intensity onto small, highly efficient solar cells.

The massive panes sit above the ground on poles. The system uses no water and doesn’t create permanent shadows, SolFocus said. 

The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on farms and ranches across the country has boomed in the last decade to nearly 9,000 operations, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nearly 8,000 of those were solar-panel installations. California farmers alone had nearly 2,000 renewable energy systems, including a fuel cell that runs on onion waste in Oxnard.

Article courtesy of The Los Angeles Times -Greenspace