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Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

Now nearly halfway through August, some folks are already preparing for fall, with back to school specials, fall beers in stores and planning last minute vacations. TSL knows that there is plenty of warm weather on the way, which is why we reached out the members of our Environmental Sustainability Task Force to see if they had any tips for a more sustainable summer. Thankfully for TSL, Carolyn Kaplan (Nixon Peabody), Michelle O’Brien (Mackie Shea O’Brien) and Pamela Harvey (Mass DEP) came through with some great suggestions on staying green while still beating the heat.

1) Put Pedal to the Metal. Everyone knows that riding a bike or taking the T to work is the way to go. That said, in the sweltering head or in a time crunch (no offense, MBTA) it might not be for everyone. That said, why not bike rather than drive to a friends for a nice weekend lunch? Want to go to the beach? TSL knows from experience that the Blue Line takes you right to Revere (and Kelly’s Roast Beef) for a fun day out with the family. And don’t scoff, with brand new sand and a renewed emphasis on keeping the beach clean, you might just mistake Revere for a quasi-tropical paradise.

2) Skip the Supers. Farmers Markets are all the rage of late, and for good reason. Who can resist op notch produce coming from countless farms across Massachusetts? The sustainable benefits go without saying, but naturally, we are going to say it anyways. Farmers markets:

  1. They help reduce food miles, thus vehicle pollution and fossil fuel use.
  2. Help to reduce packaging.
  3. Help to improve diet and nutrition by providing access to fresh food.
  4. Cut out the middleman allowing increased financial returns through direct selling and price control
  5. Stimulate local economic development by increasing employment and encouraging consumers to support local business.

So whether you are stopping by a market on in Boston on your way home, or making a weekend trip (bike ride to the farmers market, anyone), support local farms and pick up some of the fantastic produce they have to offer. Here’s a list of Massachusetts farmers markets and their hours of operation.

3) Cool it with the AC. Pamela Harvey recommends turning off the AC and having a relaxing dinner on your deck or patio. Worried about coming home to a sweltering house? If you have central air – use it to your advantage. Michelle O’Brien recommends installing (or using) a timer so you can come home to a cool home without blasting the AC all day. If your unit has an energy saver mode, always use it. It’s the little things that count.

4) Lay off the bottle. Summer is hot, and water is necessity. That said, try and stay away from bottled water whenever possible, or as Pamela Harvey says “enjoy the Quabbin on Ice.” Use a Brita if you are a stickler for filtered water, and if you need water on the go, buy a water bottle (a green one if possible). Vapur.com tells us that 17 million barrels of oil are used each year to make water bottles.  Whoa…let’s put a stop to that.

Think we missed some tips? Want to hear more? Sound off below!

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While some of our readers are real go getters when it comes to sustainability — composting at home, only buying energy star products and biking to work — some folks say they don’t have the time or energy required to go green. For those people I ask: if TSL proposed an idea that was  more sustainable, cost the same as its competitors, and you didn’t have to actually do anything…would you be interested? Thought so.

Here’s the deal — whether they are practicing before a judge, meeting potential clients or going for a job interview, most lawyers know how important it is to dress appropriately. Looking good requires more than just fashion sense, it means keeping your suits freshly pressed and super clean – which is why a good dry cleaner can be a lawyers’ best friend. Most people might not know that the current process for dry cleaning is not exactly earth friendly, primarily because of a cleaning solvent called perchloroethylene, commonly known as PERC. About 90% of drycleaners in the United States use PERC as the solvent to lift stains from clothing in the dry cleaning process. Problem is, it’s bad for the environment, and hazardous to boot. Here are a few not so fun facts:

  • Studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute, the National Toxicology Program and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established PERC as a potential carcinogen and the EPA regulates PERC as a hazardous air pollutant.
  • Respiratory exposure to “high” levels of PERC,  can cause depression of the central nervous system, damage to the liver and kidneys, impaired memory, fatigue, nausea, confusion, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, and eye, nose and throat irritation. Skin exposure to PERC can cause dry, scaly, and cracked dermatitis.
  • Workers in dry cleaning shops are at greatest risk. Because PERC can travel through floor, ceiling and wall materials, people living near or co-located in the same building as dry cleaners have also reported respiratory, skin and neurological problems.
  • A United States EPA report states that repeat exposure to of PERC in air may cause cancer in humans
  • PERC is also environmentally very unfriendly and when improperly handled can create health and environmental risks in the atmosphere, soil, groundwater, drinking water, and waterways threatening many forms of life. Small amounts of PERC have been shown to be toxic to some aquatic animals where it is stored in their fatty tissues. Small amounts of PERC contaminating soil or irrigation water can also damage or kill many kinds of plants.

So, what can you do about it? Don’t worry, we are not going to ask you do clean and press your suits professionally at home. In the past few years, many dry cleaners have made efforts to remove the use of PERC from their operations and are using biodegradable soap, liquid CO2 and liquid silicon. No need to whip out your smart phones, because TSL did all the work to find the green cleaners, many of them right here in the Boston area.

Clevergreen Cleaners: Boston, Medford and Cambridge – Use liquid silicon solvent called Green Earth

Bush Quality Cleaners: Boston (multiple locations), New Bedford, Fairhaven, Dartmouth – Use liquid silicon solvent Green Earth.

Oxford Laundry: Cambridge – Use “eco-friendly detergents and organic solvents”

Zoots: Statewide – Use a “cleaning fluid that’s 100% biodegradable.” More on their work here.

Dependable Cleaners: Statewide – Use “high quality, recyclable dry cleaning solutions that are environmentally friendly.” More on their green work here.

So do us, and everyone else a favor next time you need to freshen up your suit for that important meeting. Dry clean green.

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Welcome back to TSL’s Green Glossary, where we help define and elaborate common sustainability terms, qualifications and certifications. This week, TSL is going to give our readers the low down on Energy Star. One can imagine nearly everyone has heard of Energy Star appliances, electronics and more, but how many people know what qualifies a product for the energy star label or who oversees this process? That’s what TSL is here for.

A quick history — back in 1992, before an inconvenient truth, the global warming debate and countless other landmark environmental events, the United States Environmental Protection Agency introduced Energy Star as a labeling program that identified and promoted energy efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first labeled products were computers and monitors (I know, who knew there were computers back in 92!? – just joking). In 1995, additional office equipment and residential heating and cooling equipment was added. It didn’t stop there. The next year the EPA partnered with the US Department of Energy to develop particular product categories, which currently include new residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

Now that that’s squared away, let’s get down to the real question: how does a product obtain an Energy Star rating? How the product is rated and evaluated depends on the product, but there are set basic standards for all products. They are:

  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
  • If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

Want a specific example? Sure, let’s talk about the process for certifying windows, doors and skylights. In this case, there are three main categories. They are:

1)      Products must be manufactured by Energy Star partners. A comprehensive list of partners can be viewed here.

2)      Products must be independently tested and certified for energy performance by a third party. That party is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). If you want to learn more about the nitty gritty of their individual rating system, check it out here.

3)      The NFRC ratings also must meet the energy efficiency guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Energy. These guidelines are greatly dependent on region and can be viewed here.

So there you go. While it’s impossible to delve completely into the complicated world of Energy Star products from process to certification, TSL hopes you have a bit better of an idea what that label means and why it’s important to buy Energy Star products.

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Last week The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) asked the BBA’s Sustainability Task Force to keep us abreast of their upcoming activities after we highlighted the Trailhead renovation they took on last month. While we have plenty of confidence in our task force, to be honest, we weren’t expecting a response this quickly (read: two days). The task force let TSL know they already has another public service event planned, a joint effort with The Food Project scheduled for June 16.

A little background on The Food Project for those of you not familiar with the program:

Each year, The Food Project works with over a hundred teens and thousands of volunteers to farm on 37 acres in eastern Massachusetts. Food from their farms is distributed through community supported agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, and to hunger relief organizations. The Food Project also organizes a plethora of Youth and Community programs as well as trainings and other services.

Sounds like a great initiative, right? Task Force members Danna Tench (Mass DEP) and Dylan Sanders of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak and Cohen thought so too. They serve on the board of The Food Project and helped organize this collaboration. TSL got a chance to ask Dylan a few questions about why the Task Force got involved with the Food project and what the event will help accomplish.

What do you hope to accomplish by holding this event?

Dylan: First off, we want people to get their hands dirty! On a more serious and philosophical level, we want to expose lawyers (some of whom may spent too many hours indoors) to urban agriculture that is very close to them, as well as introduce them to a diverse group of youth who work on these farms. Diversity is important in sustainability, on both the environmental and agricultural fronts.

Can you speak to the importance of urban farms when it comes to sustainability?

Dylan: The farms are valuable in two main ways. They are important to the youth who work on them as well as the community at large. In any city, getting access to fresh organic produce is a challenge. These farms make produce available to more residents, while providing education and tangible skills to urban youth on the development, production and harvesting of produce.

A Food Project youth harvesting lettuce.

So here’s the deal. On June 16, the Task Force will meet at the West Cottage Street Farm in Roxbury at 9am. All BBA members are invited, and are encouraged to bring their families to plant, tend, weed and possibly harvest vegetables. Volunteers will also have a chance to hear from the youth of the Food Project who will share their experience of learning about sustainable agriculture, food justice, diversity, leadership issues.

For more information or to register, contact Dylan Sanders at Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen @ sanders@srbc.com or 617-619-3400.

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Back in fall of 2011, BBA President Lisa Goodheart convened the BBA’s Environmental Sustainability Task to look at the issue of environmental sustainability and determine how the BBA can contribute to the “greening of the profession.” Two principal ways to accomplish this goal are 1) gathering evaluating and presenting green practices for lawyers and law firms and 2) creating public service and pro bono opportunities focused on environmental sustainability. The solution to number 1? – you’re looking at it. The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) was started to help to create a conversation about sustainability as well as provide green tips, practical examples of law firms and businesses embracing sustainability, and so on. Not to toot our own horn, but we think we are doing a pretty good job at it. As you can see, however, that is only one aspect of the Task Force’s charge. On the public service front, TSL is happy to be the bearer of good news and fill you in on a recent project the Task Force participated in — the Earth Day Trailhead Renovation at the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild.

On April 20th, task force volunteers teamed up with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to make the trek to Roslindale’s “urban wild” (sounds kinda spooky, doesn’t it?) — 10 acres of forested wetland habitat held by the Boston Conservation Commission.  Volunteers removed invasive plant species, reworked trails, helped prep the land for future plantings and even helped haul heavy boulders in an effort to make the wetlands a more inviting place for the local community to enjoy nature in an urban setting. Their hard work did not go unnoticed. Paul Sutton of the City of Boston Parks Department was quoted as saying: “Thank you! What a great group of Boston Bar Association participants this year! With your enthusiasm and energy, we were able to significantly transform the trail head at the 10-acre oasis.”

Well done, task force! TSL is keeping its ears to the ground to let our readers know about what’s next on the agenda.

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A few weeks back, TSL’s Green Glossary helped define a LEED certification (but here’s a quick reminder if you forgot – LEED is a green building rating system for designers, developers and new building owners who want to address sustainable design for new core and shell construction). Perhaps our friends at National Grid, Senior Vice President & US General Counsel Colin Owyang, (who also serves on the BBA’s governing Council) and Senior Counsel Wendy Levine, thought we were on to something. When Wendy and Colin told us about National Grid’s New England corporate offices in Waltham, MA that has earned a Platinum-level LEED certification, TSL was anxious to learn more.

Here’s what we found out:

After breaking ground on the project in February 2008, National Grid officially opened its three-story, 312,000 sq. ft. workspace (that has the ability to house 1,500 employees) at Reservoir Woods in Waltham, MA, in May of 2009. While most companies would be breathing a sigh of relief, National Grid was excited for another challenge — its upcoming United States Green Building Council (the non-governmental group who developed the LEED certification, remember?) evaluation.

Obviously, in order to earn a Platinum level certification, green design, construction and amenities have to be top notch. In fact, the building is one of only a handful of single tenant facilities in the world to earn LEED Platinum Certification for both Core and Shell Construction and Commercial interiors. We are not going to give you all the details here, but Colin and Wendy shared a few of the highlights of this building with TSL, and we are happy to share them with you.

Reservoir Woods’ energy and water-saving features include:

• Lighting that uses 40 percent less electricity than a typical commercial building in Massachusetts, with occupancy sensors, task oriented lighting and daylight sensors at workstations that save more than 800,000 kilowatt hours annually – enough to power 133 homes for one year

• High-efficiency heating and cooling systems with adaptable controls to sense outdoor and indoor temperatures

• Water conservation measures including dual-flush toilets, automatic sensor faucets and a rainwater recycling system that together are expected to reduce consumption by about 2.4 million gallons per year

• Approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of roof-top solar panels that generate enough electricity to power about 30 homes each year and offset 400,000 lbs. of CO2 annually

• Exterior shading devices on southern-facing exposures and a highly reflective white roof that help keep the building cool

• Superior air quality systems featuring carbon dioxide sensors installed in ventilation ducts

• Sustainable materials: 28% of the materials and furnishings are recycled; 68.5% of the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests; café floors made of rapidly renewable bamboo; carpet tiles consisting of 42% pre-consumer recycled materials; workstation fabrics made of 100% recycled content; locally manufactured recycled aluminum ceiling tiles; low-VOC adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings throughout the building

• More than 93% of construction waste was recycled

That is one sustainable building. Good thing it looks pretty cool, too.

Want more info on this building? Find out everything you need to know from this booklet.

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A few posts back, The Sustainable Lawyer pledged that we would try and find more pro bono and public service opportunities that directly relate to helping to protect and restore the environment. Erica Mattison, a particularly driven and focused 3L at Suffolk Law School who is working with Lawyers Accountable to the Earth (LATTE) as part of her internship with Rainforest Maker (a local non-profit started by Suffolk Law Alum Jeff Glassman) recently contacted TSL to let us know about an environmentally focused “for lawyers, by lawyers” initiative. Isn’t it great when people do your work for you?

LATTE is currently teaming up with groups like Boston Natural Areas Network and Foundation for a Green Future to organize tree plantings, recruit volunteers and identify new sites for tree planting opportunities. LATTE recently held a tree planting on April 28th at the former Emerson School in Roxbury – slated to become the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School in Fall of 2012. LATTE funded 9 trees, while their planting parting Grow Boston greener planted another 6, making for 15 total trees at the school, which was severely lacking green space.

Want to participate? Don’t worry, LATTE has a planting scheduled on Friday May 18th, at the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain, for which they are currently signing up planting participants and accepting contributions. Haven’t heard of the Home before? In short, it provides a comprehensive network of services to emotionally disturbed boys and girls between the ages of 4-14.  LATTE is hoping to plant 4 trees at that location, which will cost about $800.

Participating in these plantings is a fun way to give back without giving too much time – the commitment is only a few hours (or no time at all, if would rather send in a contribution), making it ideal for busy lawyers. To find out more, or to participate, contact Erica Mattison at erica@rainforestmaker.org. If you are interested in making a contribution, click here. If you are interested, but can’t participate in the May planting, LATTE is currently planning another planting for June. Check back for more details.

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