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Posts Tagged ‘environment’

community-garden-in-boston-cmpThough winter is not quite over, TSL has decided to come out of hibernation. Why, you ask? A February 28 program at 16 Beacon Street, “Cultivating Local, Health Food: Urban Agriculture Initiatives & Pro Bono Opportunities,” caught our eye.  This program stood out for a few reasons:  1) Urban Agriculture is a hot topic in Massachusetts and across New England; 2) The Commissioner of the MA Department of Agriculture is one of the panelists, and 3) TSL is always on the lookout for environmentally focused pro bono opportunities. With this in mind, TSL touched base with Staci Rubin (Alternatives  for Community and Environment) and Jennifer Rushlow (Conservation Law Foundation) to give us the lowdown on the upcoming event.

As we know, the BBA has a reputation for developing cutting edge programming on relevant legal and business issues both state and nationwide. Some recent examples? The BBA’s Update on the Jamaica Plain Drug Lab Crisis, and  Apple-Samsung $1 Billion Judgment and its Impact on the Smartphone Market. So why Urban Agriculture? Staci explains:

Rubin, Staci1“When it comes to urban agriculture, there is great public interest on the topic, and the pace of policy development in this arena in the last few years has been swift, which makes this an ideal topic for the BBA — there is much new information to report. This is an area of great opportunity for our legal community in terms of providing support for the growing urban agriculture movement and this program will provide clarity as to how they can get professionally involved in this movement – by providing pro bono legal services to urban gardeners, farmers and food entrepreneurs and by engaging in public service with urban agriculture focused organizations.”

TSL gets that not everyone wants to listen to a panel of speakers during their lunch break, but frankly, this program will be worth it. How do we know? Jennifer Rushlow gave us a primer on the speakers and their topics, so you can make your own decision:

Rushlow, Jenny“Panelists will address recent developments in environmental and land use laws that will impact environmental lawyers’ work, illustrate how environmental lawyers can provide support for urban gardeners facing legal challenges, comment about the recent policy developments affecting urban agriculture and the Boston rezoning process and share expertise on interagency efforts related to sustainable food production.”

Speakers:

Gregory Watson – (Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources)
Attorney Philip B. Posner – (Volunteer, Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network
Paul Locke – (Director of Response and Remediation for Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)
Danah Tench – (Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection)

So far so good, right? But that’s not all. The program will also highlight one of TSL’s favorite things, environmental pro bono and public service opportunities for lawyers! Yes, the program is a week away, but TSL is already getting excited to hear from our panelists on how to:

1) Represent groups of low income residents and residents of color to convert vacant lots into green space for gardening,
2) Find transactional pro bono work on behalf community gardeners,
3) Serve as a board member for organizations working on urban agriculture and
4) Participate in an upcoming (June 1st) public service day with the Food Project (remember them?).

For now, TSL is signing off, but we will see you next Thursday…right?

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The Sustainable Lawyer loves shining the spotlight on firms and organizations that have built or renovated green office space. TSL has especially fond memories of touring the Environmental Protection Agency’s new office space back in 2010 — providing numerous examples of sustainability at work. Earlier this week TSL reached out to BBA Environmental Sustainability Task Force member Cynthia A. Lewis, Senior Enforcement Counsel at US EPA, Region 1. She was only too glad to provide us with all the facts and figures on the John W. McCormack Post Office and Courthouse (POCH) renovation, an effort of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the EPA.

The EPA is the primary tenant at the courthouse, and occupies about 329,000 rentable square feet of the approximately 700,000 gross square feet. The 23 story building, built in 1933, houses 840 EPA employees who reoccupied the space in August 2009 after a three year construction contract. The green features in the new building are extensive, and the results speak for themselves.

When building, the EPA and GSA:

  • Reused 99 percent of the historical structure.
  • Preserved interior features such as historical paneling, walnut wainscoting, terrazzo floors with marble inlay, and oak parquet floors.
  • Recycled and diverted from landfills 149.5 tons of construction debris, bringing the percentage of material recycled to 84.93%. This includes 6.17 tons of concrete, 8.59 tons of metal, and 19.26 tons of wood.
  • Used low-emitting construction materials such as paint, carpeting, and composite wood.
  • Used post-consumer recycled product used for many new installed finishes, steel and concrete

The results of the project are:

  • Approximately 70 percent of the occupied space receives natural light
  • To encourage alternative modes of transportation, the McCormack POCH offers 50 bike racks and 10 showers.
  • New plumbing fixtures reduce estimated water consumption by 642,000 gallons per year, which is 32% over code requirements.
  • Energy-efficiency components such as variable-speed drives for fans and pumps, motion sensors and daylight dimming for lighting, and new insulated double-pane, low-e windows.
  • The EPA offsets 100 percent of the electricity in the building with renewable energy certificates (REC’s) purchased through the Agency’s current blanket green power contract.

The project also included a special feature, a green roof, that:

  • Is the first of its kind in New England
  • Uses solar panels to power the irrigation pumps and cisterns collect rain water to irrigate the plantings
  • Encompasses more than 25% of the building footprint, providing an important open space for the building users.
  • The green roof is planted with native species and after establishment and requires little irrigation.

Though not everybody can commit to this level of sustainably while building or renovating, TSL tips its cap to the EPA and GSA for making sustainability its first priority.
To view photos from the BBA’s 2010 tour of the new EPA building, click here.

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