The sun has been pretty relentless this summer, and Boston wants to take full advantage of that. The City of Boston is one of 17 communities that were chosen to participate in Solarize Mass, a campaign to make solar energy more affordable and accessible for residents and small businesses using a grassroots model. Run by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Solarize Mass ran a pilot last year in Harvard, Hatfield, Scituate, and Winchester. The successful pilot resulted in 829 kW of solar that has been installed or contracted to be installed, which over its lifetime, is the equivalent of taking 2,500 cars off the road.
Solarize Mass will host a series of free "Solar 201" workshops in Mattapan and Jamaica Plain next week. Solarize Mass is part of the Governor's goal to install 250 megawatts of solar photovoltaics by 2017 and Mayor Menino's goal to double the number of residential solar pv installations in Boston.
"I encourage all to join the clean energy revolution in Boston," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Residents and businesses can lock in lower energy costs, new clean energy jobs are created right here in Boston and we all get to help make Boston a greener and more sustainable city."
Residents can sign up for a free solar consultation at: http://www.renewboston.org/Solar
Wednesday, July 11 - 6pm to 8pm
Curtis Hall Community Center, 20 South Street, Jamaica Plain
Tuesday, July 17 - 6pm to 8pm
Mattapan Public Library, 1350 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan
Solarize Mass is also available to residents of Arlington, Acton, Melrose, Wayland, and a number of other towns. More information on the program can be found at: www.SolarizeMass.com
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) states that a two panel system for a 4-5 person family would cost about $8,000-$10,000. Residents can save more money on their system (the MassCEC estimates up to half the cost) with other state and federal incentives, such as the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit and Massachusetts' renewable energy tax credit and property tax exemption.
Residents must be an electric customer of NSTAR, National Grid, Unitil, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, or from Ashburnham, Templeton, Holden, Holyoke or Russell to qualify. The rebate program has $1 million and is funded through the MassCEC's Renewable Energy Trust.
In addition to the solar thermal rebates, MassCEC distributes residential rebates for solar electric panels and small wind.
A recently published book, Greening Your Family, by New Hampshire resident Lindsey Carmichael, helps make shopping and purchases simpler and safer. Carmichael began her research after her young son was diagnosed with asthma. Her research into the possible causes led her to earn a Master of Public Health and write this book. The slim volume is a fantastic
reference, as it is organized well and is easy to use. Each of the topics, which range from green cleaning to personal care products to food, begins with a few paragraphs on why conventional products are harmful and what to look for in a safe product, followed by a list of companies that make non-toxic products. Many are brands that are commonly found in drugstores and supermarkets, such as Burt's Bees and Tom's of Maine.
I'm currently running low on laundry detergent - the old me would have purchased the cheapest option, but after reading this book, I don't feel comfortable buying a product with benzene, a carcinogen linked to leukemia and blood disorders, so I'll bring the book along as a reference to find my trusty new laundry detergent.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the Ten Americans study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They tested the umbilical cord blood of ten babies and found 287 toxic chemicals, 212 of which were banned 30 years ago. Watch Ken Cook of EWG talk about the study (the short talk is both
touching and funny).
Learn more about Ten Americans and what you can do, here.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.