ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROGRAM NEWSLETTER
SEPTEMBER 8, 2008
In this issue:
** UPCOMING ES PROGRAM EVENTS: Felicity Barringer, Lunchtime Colloquia – Wednesday, ES Program (faculty and student) Ice Cream Social -- Friday
** IN THE NEWS: Is Solar Power for You? (Pat Roche ‘09 article from the Hopkinton Crier)
** PROGRAM NEWS: Dave Firmage is on sabbatical, ES Program welcomes two new ES faculty
** BEYOND CAMPUS: Northern Forest Alliance 2008 Climate Change Conference, Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference and Student Competition, Third Annual Green Campus Summit
** CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY: Colby Goes Trayless
** JOBS & INTERNSHIPS: Paid Internship with Midnight Oil Company
** UPCOMING ES PROGRAM EVENTS:
Wednesday, September 10 at 12:00 in the Fairchild Room in Dana. Join us at 11:30 for lunch with Ms. Barringer.
“The Dangers of Environmental Parables”, Felicity Barringer, NY Times environmental reporter, Elijah Parish Lovejoy Visiting Journalist-in-Residence.
Felicity Barringer is the environmental reporter for The New York Times. Barringer joined the Times as a contributing correspondent in Moscow in 1986, reporting on the political and cultural upheavals of the Gorbachev era. From 1989 through June 1993, Barringer covered demographics and social policy from Washington. From August 1993 through March 1995, she was deputy editor of The Week in Review. She has also written for Columbia Journalism Review, Art News, The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times Magazine. She is the author of the book, Flight From Sorrow, a biographical study of a survivor of Nazi Germany and the camps of Stalin’s Soviet Union, published by Atheneum in 1984. Prior to joining The Times, Barringer worked on The Washington Post’s metropolitan and national staffs and at The Record in Bergen County, NJ. In 1972, she received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University, where she served as editor-in-chief of The Stanford Daily.
ES 401 credit
Ice Cream Social September 12 at 3:00 an ES faculty and student Ice Cream Social (with bocce ball!) on the Colby Green. The event is sponsored by the ES Club, RSVP to Becky Lipson
** IN THE NEWS:
Is solar power for you? (Pat Roche ‘09 article from the Hopkinton Crier)
By Patrick Roche
Mon Sep 01, 2008,
In past articles, I’ve discussed lots of fairly simple ways to reduce your personal green house gas (GHG) emissions: changing how you landscape and do laundry; improving your recycling and reuse; minimizing consumption; seeking out environmentally responsible products, etc. In this article though, I’ll discuss a more advanced method: using solar energy.
Pursuing solar energy can seem like a daunting task, but a little education clarifies the whole process. I’ll discuss some of the most salient issues in this article, but informed consumers should do their own research as well.
First, is your roof suitable for solar? A good roof will face primarily south and have little if any shading between 9AM and 3PM. If your roof or part of it is a good candidate, then start researching! You need to arm yourself with knowledge so you can ask the right questions in order to secure the best solar system at the most competitive price.
What Type of Solar?
You can use solar power in two ways: to produce electricity or to produce hot water. A photovoltaic (PV) system produces electricity while a solar hot water system produces hot water. Some installers offer both systems, others only one. It’s okay to call them if you are undecided, but you’ll want to make sure you’re speaking their language. To get started researching, visit the Department of Energy’s website www.eere.energy.gov/consumer and click on either "Solar Water Heating" or "Solar Electric Systems." Here’s a summary of the two options:
Using a PV system does not automatically mean you are "off the grid." Though some households do power themselves completely independently, the majority of solar users remain connected to the electric grid. This way they can still buy electricity at night or when their demand exceeds their PV system’s production. Storage batteries are typically prohibitively expensive.
Photovoltaic systems or array consist of PV panels (solar panels) and an inverter which converts the DC (direct current) current to AC (alternating current). They also utilize net metering, which means your electricity meter can run forwards and backwards. When you produce more power than you use at any given moment, the meter runs backwards as you send the excess back to the grid and effectively sell that power back to your power company. (They pay or credit you at exactly the same price per KWh they charge you). For the average customer this results in significant reductions in their electricity bill, though some generate more total power than they use and receive a payment from the electric company.
The size of your PV system will depend primarily on your electricity usage and availability of suitable roof. Residential systems are typically sized between 1 and 5 kilowatts. You can roughly estimate that per kilowatt (1000 watts) a PV system will require 100 ft2 of roof and will generate 1000-1500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. A typical system will last for 25 years, and homeowners should ask about the warranty for both the inverter and PV array.
For a comprehensive, interactive and step by step guide to acquiring a PV system in Massachusetts, see the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s website at www.masstech.org/solar/ and download their free buyer’s guide at http://masstech.org/cleanenergy/cando/howto.htm.
Solar Hot Water Systems
Instead of generating electricity, solar hot water systems use the sun’s energy to heat the water in you home’s hot water heater. After basic heating costs, the hot water heater consumes the most energy in the house, anywhere from 20-40 percent. By eliminating this costly energy consumption, especially with heating oil at record highs, homeowners can save a great deal on their fuel or electric bills. Solar hot water systems consist of the solar panels and a well insulated hot water tank. The sun heats a freeze resistant liquid that flows through pipes inside the panel and then runs to the hot water tank, heating the water within. The systems still has a backup heater for cloudy days, of course. As a rule, solar hot water systems typically cost less and their panels are smaller than PV systems, and as a result the have a shorter payback period. Since the do not produce electricity, however, they do not net meter. A solar hot water system’s size will be based upon the size of your family and its hot water consumption. Typically, a system will last for about 20 years, and you should ask about the warranty for the panels and water heater.
Solar Survey and Report
If interested you should contact multiple suppliers to inquire about installation. Visit www.sebane.com/index.html for comprehensive list of PV and solar hot water installers in Massachusetts. A quality installer should guide you through the whole process, including applying for building permits, rebates/refunds, and financing.
First, ask an installer to conduct a solar survey to calculate the roof’s exact annual capacity for electricity or hot water production. To do this, the installer measures the roof and takes a digital photo looking skyward, and then inputs the information into a software program. After the survey, they can recommend a system size, based on roof capacity and your electricity or hot water usage. The installer will then combine this information into a personalized report (~8 pages) that also includes a cost estimate. That cost estimate should include, as separate line items, the initial cost, minus all possible rebates for your family, and estimated payback time. Importantly, homeowners should ask how the installer calculated the payback period. Sometimes they may include the estimated increase in home value or they may have inflated projections for the future cost of electricity or oil. Some installers will conduct the survey and report for free, others may charge up to $100, though they generally refund the cost if you use them to install the system.
Rebates and Financing
For free energy, solar systems can cost a lot. Initially, a solar hot water system may cost around $11,000 and a PV system from $25,000-$100,000, depending on size. To help homeowners with the cost, numerous rebates abound.
State and federal governments offer a total of $3000 of refunds per PV or solar hot water system. Massachusetts and the federal government provide a $1,000 and $2,000 tax credit, respectively. Additionally, for PV systems, the Massachusetts Energy Collaborative will refund the homeowner $2 for every watt of system they install up to 5,000 watts. Also, the collaborative can increase that refund based on certain criteria, such as low income levels, low home values and using Massachusetts produced inverters or PV arrays. Make sure to ask your installer if your income, house and/or their equipment qualify for the increased refund.
For an example, an average sized system of 3,000 watts will initially cost around $26,000. After the $3000 state and federal refund, plus the minimum $2 per watt refund and the extra $.25 per watt refund for using Massachusetts produced equipment, the system costs $16,250.
If needed, the installer will also help you find financing. Some banks offer loans for solar with low interest, few points and little or no closing costs, and the interest may be tax deductible. While solar is not for everyone, if your finances and location permit it, you can use it to reduce your personal GHG emissions, save money, and increase the value of your home. Again, installing solar may seem challenging, but by educating yourself and dealing with knowledgeable installers, you can have solar in a flash.
As a footnote, this is my last article, since I am returning to Colby this week. Thank you all for reading and I encourage you to embrace your own creativity and continue to find new ways to reduce your emissions. We’re all part of the problem, but we’re all part of the solution, too.
Patrick Roche (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior Environmental Studies major and Economics minor at Colby College and a lifelong resident of Hopkinton. He currently works in the Environmental Engineering division of the Volpe National Transportation Center in Cambridge.
** PROGRAM NEWS: Dave Firmage is on sabbatical, ES Welcomes Two New Faculty
Professor David Firmage has begun a well deserved, year-long sabbatical. You can still find him working on the second floor of Olin this fall, but in the spring he and his wife Zan will travel to Israel where Dave will conduct pollination ecology research. Enjoy your sabbatical Dave!
Catherine Ashcraft, Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies and Government
Catherine’s research and teaching focus on negotiation processes and institutions for making environmental policy. At Colby, she teaches courses on environmental negotiation and dispute resolution, international environmental regimes, and transboundary environmental governance. Catherine’s research focuses on adaptability and flexibility of international water management institutions. She recently co-authored a book chapter with Lawrence Susskind in the forthcoming IUCN publication Negotiate, ?How to Reach Fairer and More Sustainable Agreements? that draws insights from a number of international water negotiations. Catherine consults with the Consensus Building Institute and works with partners in intergovernmental organizations, multilateral development agencies and civil society in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America to build negotiating skills and to help address environmental and development problems. She is also a certified mediator with the Harvard Mediation Program. Catherine will earn her PhD from MIT in 2008. She earned her Master of Environmental Science in 2002 from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and her B.A. in 1998 from the University of Pennsylvania. Catherine holds dual citizenship in the USA and the European Union (Germany).
Janette Bulkan, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for International Environmental Human Rights
Janette Bulkan is a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Her dissertation focuses on the slippages between forestry policies and practices in Guyana. Before going to Yale, Janette Bulkan was the senior social scientist at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development in Guyana (2000-2003), senior lecturer at the University of Guyana (1985-2000), and First Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana (1978-83). She has two decades of work experience with indigenous peoples and local communities in Guyana. Janette Bulkan is also a Member of the Governing Council of the Commonwealth Forestry Association (CFA) since 2003; an editor of the online journal Kacike (Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology, http://www.kacike.org); and a member of the Academic Committee of the 2008 annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC).
** BEYOND CAMPUS:
Northern Forest Alliance, 2008 Climate Change Conference, “Climate change and the future of the Northern Forest”
Who should attend this conference? Undergraduate students and faculty concerned about the impacts of climate change on the Northern Forest
Why should you attend?
-Learn from experts in the field
-Develop the best emission reduction options for your campus
-Take action to enhance the future of the Northern Forest
When is the conference?
November 1 and 2, 2008; day long events
Where is the conference?
The 2008 Climate Change Conference is November 1 and 2, 2008 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The event is free of charge. Spots are limited. Student registration forms, save the date cards, and fliers are available upon request.
Questions: Contact Shelly Martin at (802) 253-8227 ext. 13 or at email@example.com www.northernforestalliance.org
Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference and Student Competition
Conference to be held January 2009 in Valdivia, Chile
The Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference will be held January 17th-19th, 2009, in Valdivia, Chile. Participating in the conference will be approximately 100 invited conservation practitioners, educators and students from North, Central, and South America. Jim Levitt, Director of The Program on Conservation Innovation at The Harvard Forest, is coordinating the event, which will explore some of the most effective practices and emerging innovations in the field of conservation finance.
Conservation finance can be used to help protect land and biodiversity and enhance local economies across the Western Hemisphere from Chilean Patagonia to the coast of Labrador. Conference participants will consider several of the most promising approaches to conservation finance including: the use of emerging carbon markets to conserve working forests and agricultural landscapes; the creation of other ecosystem service markets to advance the protection of natural systems; “conservation investment banking” methods such as public and private debt-for-nature swaps; micro, small, and medium enterprise financing methods to achieve conservation in concert with economic development; third-party certified forestry and agriculture; and the use of tax and public budgetary policy to finance land conservation initiatives.
Partners and funders for the conference and for a forthcoming book to be based on presentations made at the meeting include the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, the Environmental Leadership and Training Institute (a joint initiative of the Smithsonian Institution and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies), the Harvard Forest, the Horizon Foundation, the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Trust for Public Land, and the Universidad Austral de Chile.
The Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference will include a Student Competition to identify, assemble, and support emerging leaders in the field of conservation finance. Students selected on the basis of submitted essays on conservation finance will be given the opportunity to attend the Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference. Transportation from the student’s home city to Valdivia, Chile and back, as well as travel and lodging in Valdivia, Chile, will be covered for all selected participants. To access the competition application information, please click here.
Competition Timeline and Deadlines
Applications for the Conservation Capital in the Americas Student Competition will be accepted from September 2, 2008 through October 20, 2008. Winners will be notified November 17, 2008, and expected to attend the Conservation Capital in the Americas Conference in Valdivia January 17 - 19, 2009. Recipients of the Maine undergraduate award will also present their work in a poster session at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust Land Conservation Conference on Saturday, May 2, 2009.
Third Annual Green Campus Summit
The time is growing near for the third annual Green Campus Summit, and we hope you are all as excited as we are here at Mount Allison University. This year's
>conference theme is Carbon emissions and reductions in the campus setting. There will be a number of workshops including such subjects as: Green Living, Green campus design, Carbon Policy Tools, University transportation and food Procurement etc. All of these workshops are themed at campus carbon reductions and how universities can be progressive on the topic. This is going to be a packed weekend that will provide a unique learning experience to those of you who are able to attend. Also, the Town of Sackville is holding their annual fall fair so there will be festivities in the evening that are >guaranteed to be a great time! Lester Brown will be the keynote speaker on Saturday night evening, and we are very lucky to have such a progressive individual speak to us during our conference. Lester Brown is the founder of the World watch Institute, and a renowned author, his most famous work being Plan B. This is with out a doubt going to be inspiring and informative. Since last time we met at Acadia, climate change has demanded increasing attention globally. In November, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth Climate Change Assessment which dispelled once and for all uncertainty about the link between human activity and climate and called attention to the very real consequences of inaction. The following month, the IPCC and Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to raise awareness about anthropogenic climate change and to lay the foundations for the necessary measures to counteract it. As both consumers of natural resources and cultivators of human resources, universities have the potential and
responsibility to take leadership on this issue. We would like to invite two students, one staff and one faculty member from each institution. Accommodations will be provided, but we will send more information on that upon confirmation. Registration will begin at three o'clock on Friday September 19th. The Conference will go until Sunday the 21st at about twelve
thirty. There will be a small registration fee but we will also send that when we have some confirmed institutions.
If you are interested in representing Colby, please email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
** CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY:
Colby Goes Trayless
In support of the College’s Sustainability Mission and the goal to reduce waste on campus, the Dining Halls are now all tray free. Dana Foss Last year, ES major Kaite Unsworth ‘10 conducted a food waste study on meals with the trays removed. Results showed there was a 66% reduction in food waste in the meals served without trays available. In going tray free, the projected annual savings for campus: 79,000 gallons of water and 50 tons of food waste.
** GRAD SCHOOL:
Bainbridge Graduate Institute Certificate Programs
In addition to its MBA program <http://www.bgiedu.org/index.php> , BGI offers three distinct certificate programs. The first two programs offer the opportunity to deepen your understanding of entrepreneurial and sustainable business practices that champion social justice, environmental responsibility, and profitability. The third program provides you with the knowledge to interact with the media and the public about innovative technologies and strategies to support the goals of sustainability.
• The Certificate Program in Sustainable Business <http://www.bgiedu.org/content/view> helps you to make an existing business more profitable, equitable, and restorative to the environment. If you are setting up a new business, the program provides key tools to do so for the benefit of your bottom line and the environment. Students focus on the business case for sustainability, whole systems thinking and modeling, and the role of business in community and society.
• The Certificate Program in Sustainable Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship <http://www.bgiedu.org/content/view> helps you explore entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities in the context of sustainability by studying principles and practices of creativity, growth issues, stages of enterprise development, and what makes an organizational climate conducive to entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.
• The Certificate Program in Writing about Innovation & Sustainability <http://www.bgiedu.org/content/view//> is geared for the student who wishes to launch a writing career or refocus an existing career on communicating with general audiences about socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices.
More information about these programs may be found at: http://www.bgiedu.org/content/view>:
Paid Internship with Midnight Oil Company
Midnight Oil Company is a privately held Fuel Distribution and Service Company located in Newcastle Maine. Beginning in the spring of 2008 we have begun to market Geothermal and solar solutions to our customers as a reasonable alternative to using fossil fuels. We also have built a working “lab” of Geothermal systems that encompass many variables including “open” and “closed” loop wells, and various heat distribution methods (Air, radiant heat). We are considering further advancements in the lab including DX wells. All of this technology is working and in fact heats and cools our facility.
This program could begin in early September and continue through the winter. Compensation would be negotiated. Hours are flexible so long as they are incorporated into a working project plan. If you are interested, contact <email@example.com>
Our objective this winter is to meter our various permutations of Geothermal solutions to demonstrate costs of operation vs. heat production to make a case for our customers to invest in this new technology. To do this we intend to develop scenarios over time and capture kilowatts used vs. heat output, degree days and various other factors. We have made a preliminary selection of a software/hardware tool which we would acquire that would capture and model this data.
Our secondary objective will be to use this data to support financial models to demonstrate the advantage of capital investment (Geothermal Home System) vs. consumption of a post tax commodity (Fossil Fuel).
The appropriate student would have an interest in alternative energy, and a desire to measure practical application of Geothermal Energy in our lab. The student would be expected to build and execute a project plan that includes the following milestones:
- Select the tools (software and hardware) from a short list and install or assist in the installation of the same.
- Establish test cases and work with our technicians to set the equipment to run as desired (e.g. A home running radiant heat for 1 month using a heat pump on an “open loop” well).
- Collect and incorporate other data points (e.g. degree days).
- Model, test, and report the output.
Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program
5356 Mayflower Hill Drive
Waterville, Maine 04901
Office: 208 Diamond Building