Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘green’

This past Saturday was a day of celebration for many in Boston. An estimated 2 million made the trek to downtown Boston for a day of revelry honoring the Red Sox 2013 championship win. 15 miles north of Boston, a special group of 11 volunteers from the BBA’s New Lawyers and Environmental Law Section were involved their own celebration of “youth, food , and community” at The Food Project (TFP) in Greater Lynn. Longtime readers will have heard of The Food Project before, but if you haven’t, TSL has you covered.

The Food Project works with over 150 teenagers and thousands of volunteers to farm on 40 acres of land in different locations across Eastern Massachusetts. Food from the farms is distributed through community agriculture programs, farmers markets and local hunger relief organizations. TFP also offers and educational element and training and services, so youth and volunteers can learn more about farming, healthy eating and sustainable processes.

Turner, PhelpsBased on that description, it’s pretty clear why our lawyers decided to volunteer at the Food Project again. We reached out to one of Saturday’s volunteers Phelps Turner, of Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen (who boasts a renown environmental law practice) to get a sense of his experience volunteering.

1) Why did you decide to volunteer for the food project serve and grow program?

I jumped at this opportunity to volunteer with the Food Project’s Serve and Grow program because I’m very interested in urban agriculture as a means to increasing urban residents’ access to healthy, energy-efficient and affordable food. I was also excited to volunteer because I’m inspired by the Food Project’s mission of bringing urban and suburban youth and adults together to work on farms, to learn about the food we eat and to build a sustainable food system.

2) What did you enjoy most about the experience?

We had beautiful weather for our morning of farming. I especially enjoyed transporting compost that had been produced on the farm and using it to create planting beds, in which we planted garlic for next season. I also enjoyed meeting and working with the local youth, who have developed excellent leadership skills, and seeing old friends and new faces among the BBA volunteers.

DSC_0299

3) Did you learn anything new or interesting?

This is my third time volunteering with the Food Project, and I learn new things about the Food Project and the food system every time. This time, I learned, among other things, that 25% of young adults are too obese to qualify for military service, and that the average fast food meal consists of over 1,600 calories, compared to 500 in the average homemade meal. Facts like these underline the importance of increasing access to healthy and affordable food in heavily populated urban settings, which can be achieved in part by growing the food locally, at farms like the one in Lynn.

Thanks, Phelps – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Kudos to the 11 who spent their Saturday morning making an impact on the local community… and on parade day, no less.

DSC_0305

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

After a week of chasing around family and friends to remind them to only buy grass fed beef for the cookout, to make sure all the scraps from their exploding fireworks were properly confiscated and yes, making sure all bottles, cans, plates (paper only, no Styrofoam!) and utensils were properly recycled, TSL is back in action. For this week’s post TSL has done some research on another courthouse undertaking green initiatives — the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse.

If you have ever seen the Moakley Courthouse, you would know it is a beautiful building. What you might not know is that the courthouse consumes more energy and water than any building in the GSA New England Region. So…what to do? The answer (in theory) is simple: use less. The courthouse works with the General Services Administration (who oversees and tracks their process on these initiatives) so our courthouse  contact directed us to a GSA Public Affairs Officer who gave us the lowdown on what the Moakley Courthouse has done to reduce their environmental impact.

Moakley Courthouse’s green initiative can be broken down into two main parts, the GSA Shave Energy program and single stream recycling:

  • Shave Energy is a new GSA program that assists field offices to identify and implement simple and no cost energy measures on this like inefficiencies in operations, reduction of energy consumption and the like. According to the GSA, the program bridges the gap between identifying energy-saving opportunities and implementing energy retrofits by outlining actionable items based on best practices. If that line confuses you, how about this one: Since 2007, the Moakley Courthouse has reduced its electric consumption by 4.27% and water consumption by 23.49% since 2007.
    • In addition to the no cost energy measures, the GSA installed lighting occupancy sensors, higher efficiency lighting in the garage and demand response ventilation to improve indoor air quality within the courtrooms. As a result of some of the observations from the Shave Energy program, the Moakley courthouse underwent a Variable Refrigerant Flow Project (essentially a modified HVAC system designed to minimize efficiency losses and provide sustainable energy benefits. With a building as big as Moakley courthouse (945,423 gross square feet – whoa!) this can make a huge difference. Expected annual cost savings of this project (completed in May 2011) is $271,800.
  • TSL has touched on single stream recycling in past posts, but single stream is the best way to make recycling easy. GSA recently signed a contract with Save THAT Stuff Inc. a full service recycling and solid waste removal business that specializes in single stream. In addition to helping reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, single stream also results in cost savings by eliminating waste hauling fees. AS a result, the courthouse is achieving a 35% recycling rate, recycling over 30 tons from Jan-May2012. This is equivalent to 185 adult trees, 308 cubic yards or landfill space or 9,655 kilowatts of energy or 114 barrels of oil.

Big building = big savings. Hat tip to the GSA and Moakley Courthouse for taking on some serious initiatives.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

As you know, The Sustainable Lawyer focuses on highlighting law firms and offices that are committed to sustainability, providing green office tips, and the like. This week, however, we are going to step away from that focus for one very important reason — Valentine’s Day. While one might not immediately associate lawyers and Valentine’s Day, TSL knows that this week is filled with last minute bouquet hunting, chocolate buying and restaurant reserving for your significant other. Plus, we all know that being green is important whether it’s inside the office or out.

Earlier this week, Julie Taylor of Noble & Wickersham LLP and member of our Environmental Sustainability Task Force, sent TSL an e-mail about the Sierra Club highlighting some ways to have a more sustainable Valentine’s Day. While not all of their suggestions are ones we would recommend here (I’m looking at you, eco-underwear) there are some good and plausible suggestions for a greener Valentine’s Day. Here are our favorites:

Choose a “green” restaurant

The most sustainable option when planning a Valentine’s Day dinner is to buy ingredients from your local farmers market and make them yourself. But hey, it’s Valentine’s Day, and you and your significant other deserves a treat (that doesn’t involve washing dishes). So if you’re looking for a restaurant, try using DineGreen.com, the Green Restaurant Association’s website that certifies restaurants as “green” based on 7 categories; Water Efficiency, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Sustainable Furnishings and Building Materials, Sustainable Food, Energy, Disposables and Chemical and Pollution Reduction. The listing of Massachusetts green certified restaurants is here.

If you prefer vegetarian or vegan options, try VegDining.com, a database that compiles vegetarian/vegetarian friendly restaurants and food stores (and even denotes them based on vegan and vegetarian “friendliness”).

Buy Flowers Sustainably

In case you didn’t know, the cut-flower industry is damaging to the environment. While TSL wishes we could suggest that you make your own bouquet from your garden teeming with flowers of all varieties, it’s February in Massachusetts — so that’s not happening. One way to go is to buy from OrganicBouquet.com, the “largest online provider or eco-friendly and organic floral gifts.” Monitored by numerous certification agencies and associations, Organic Bouquets partners with farms in California, Ecuador and Columbia to provide customers with high quality flowers and floral arrangements in line with their strict eco-standards. Worried about shipping? Organic Bouquets has partnered with Carbonfund.org to initiate a carbon offset program that mitigates greenhouse gases generated from shipping your flowers and gifts.

Organic Chocolate is the Way to Go

To many of us, Valentine’s Day means one thing — chocolate. No one is crazy enough to suggest that you don’t buy chocolate for your Valentine, but TSL thinks the Sierra Club is onto something when it suggests buying chocolate that is organic, local and shade grown. Quick fact — of all plants, cocoa demands the second highest use of pesticides (cotton is first).

The Sierra Club suggests avoiding names like M&M/Mars, Hershey, and Russell Stover and keeping an eye out for Green & Black’s, Newman’s Own Organics, and Endangered Species. They offer more suggestions for artisanal, organic and fair trade options here, while Rainforest Relief offers its own list.

We know everybody thinks about the color red on Valentine’s Day, but this year, start thinking green.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Recently our friends at Nutter McClennen & Fish let The Sustainable Lawyer (TSL) know they recently finished renovating their 4 floors of office space at their 155 Seaport Boulevard HQ. Nutter was committed to keeping the entire renovation process (including the temporary move) as green as possible, and the results speak for themselves. Nutter set goals to create a greener space, worked with their architect to make sure he was aware of their goals at every turn, took advantage of available energy savings in computers, lighting and appliances and looked for opportunities to accomplish greener results for the same or similar pricing wherever possible. They also were committed to selecting used products and integrating them with new items purchased (that met their green parameters). Nutter sent along some impressive pre and post renovation statistics to TSL, and we are happy to share them with you.

Nutter’s move was pretty daunting. They had each floor move to a temporary swing space while the renovations were being completed. Prior to that temporary move, they had “purging” days where staff took time out of their busy schedules to return items to their proper place, identify items that could be reused, and recycle those that could not. It was worth it. In total:

  • 75 books were returned to their library
  • 70 (65 gallon) bins of shredded paper were recycled
  • 6,445 boxes were sent to offsite storage
  • 40,000 files were reorganized
  • 800 binders, 700 hanging files and 500 pens and pencils were recaptured

When the actual move took place, it’s not surprising that Nutter stayed committed to their green efforts. No cartons or cardboard boxes here, Nutter used 980 crates and 455 carts for all the entire move, saving an estimated 8,444 corrugated cartons.

Nutter’s goals for the renovations were fairly standard. They wanted to refresh their design, update cabling, add larger conference space, create a new kitchen and café, expand their gym (ok, so maybe not ALL of it was standard), create satellite libraries for practice group areas and introduce new technology such as teleconferencing.

All in all, it doesn’t seem like changes that would result in drastic savings, right? Wrong. Let’s take a look.

Nutter:

  • Chose to remain in their existing space which saved over 50% of their built environment and all of the attorney office furniture. This saved:
    1. 115,000 lbs of construction waste from landfills
    2. 67,700 lbs of furniture waste from landfills
    3. 60K square feet of drywall,  equal to 1.5 acres
    4. 35, 190 linear feet of metal studs, equal to 6.7 miles
    5. approximately 16.3 miles of electrical cable
  • Reduced the overall energy on two public floors by 23%, saving 16,875 watts/hr of energy, which totals  42,000 kilowatts savings annually
  • Reused over 180 doors and 160 frames, translating into almost 10K square feet of wood veneer and almost a mile of aluminum frame.
  • Reused over an acre of ceiling tile and grid
  • Reused almost 1000 lf of metal files and bookshelves
  • Reused and repurposed existing furniture
  • Used carpet tile (which contains 18%-44% recycled content and is CRI Green Label Plus Certified) to cut down on waste and make it easier to replace

One of TSL’s major objectives is to show that “going green” isn’t just about helping the environment, but demonstrating that it makes good business sense and can save a considerable amount of money. Thanks, Nutter McClennen & Fish. You’re making our job easier.

If your firm or office is in need of renovations, it’s a great time to see if “going green” can save you some cash. It worked for Nutter.

Read Full Post »

Now that the New Year is upon us, the Sustainable Lawyer is on the lookout for new ways to be “green” for 2012. TSL reached out to a few members of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force for some tips and hints on how to make 2012 greener at home, during your commute and in the office.

Home

Try composting: Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and receive tangible benefits (especially if you garden), and winter is a great time to start. You can compost inside or outside, on a small scale or large scale. You can buy compost bins/buckets, or make them yourself. Composted material (or black gold, as some call it) is ideal feed for your garden, and you can save money on gardening supplies such as Miracle-Gro and the like. Not much of a gardener? No problem, you can always donate your composted materials to a community garden or a neighbor in need.  One of the members of the task force recommended we check out the City of Boston’s page on composting for more information, which is both helpful and informative. You can also check out this step by step guide on how to compost at home to learn more.

Commuting

We all know the basics here — carpool with a friend or neighbor, take public transport whenever possible or giving biking a try (as long as you are a reasonable distance from work) when the weather allows. “Using public transportation is a great way to be greener on your morning commute” said Task Force Co-Chair Michelle O’Brien. Her other suggestion, albeit on a more personal scale, can also have a big impact. “Use one of the many gift cards you likely got this holiday season and invest in a quality reusable travel mug for your coffee or tea.” If you drink one (or more) cups of coffee or tea a day, it’s easy how you can prevent waste from piling up. Excluding weekends, that is AT LEAST 269 paper or Styrofoam cups per year. If you get everyone in your office to do the same, the waste reduction is off the charts (ex: an office of 10 can save 2,690 cups in one calendar year).

The Office

Though the holiday season is mostly passed us, Foley Hoag’s Jonathan Ettinger cited the value of sending electronic holiday cards rather than mailing them traditionally (saving paper from both envelopes and cards). Jonathan also points out a benefit TSL hadn’t thought of: “you receive immediate responses from people by return email, which you don’t get from paper cards.”

For something you can do as soon as tomorrow, there are plenty of suggestions. You could follow Mackie Shea O’Brien’s lead, or adopt some suggestions from the MA Trial Court. Carol Kaplan of Nixon Peabody recommended that we take a look at this list, from Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future, for more ideas. Some of our favorites include:

  • Desk-side recycling boxes are at each workstation.
  • Trash cans are not at each workstation but only at central locations.
  • Office policy states that all copy and print jobs should be double sided unless otherwise specified.
  • Paper towels have 100% post-consumer recycled content.
  • Timers have been installed, or procedures are in place, for turning off lights at the end of the day.
  • Monitors are set to go to sleep after 15 minutes, or staff have been instructed to turn off monitors when leaving the office for 15 minutes or more.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs

Make 2012 the year you start to take greening the planet seriously. Starting small can make a big impact.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »