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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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To contact YEEC, please email contact info at yorkgoesgreen dot org

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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

CO2 Now

Current CO2 Level in the Atmosphere

Peaks Island school eyed for emergency solar power array

The following article from the theforecaster.net recounts the latest work done by Eric Hopkins and others to develop an emergency solar power pilot project.

A group of people including teachers and engineers met at the school library recently to start discussing the possibility of making the school the island’s designated Red Cross emergency shelter, and powering it by solar energy in case the electric grid goes down.

The group was led by Eric Hopkins, a teacher from Wells Junior High School, and chairman of the York Energy Efficiency Committee.

“What we’re talking about here has never really been done before, and we’re trying to figure out what it would take to try to make it happen, and does it make sense to make it happen here,” Hopkins said.

Currently, the public safety building on the island serves as the emergency shelter. But members of the group agreed it wasn’t an appropriate place for the shelter, given its size and how busy those working in it would be when it is needed as a shelter.

Hopkins said he is trying to pre-write a grant application, so when grants are available, the group will be able to go “with a lot of decisions already made” and a powerful presentation.

Peaks Island makes the most sense for a project like this from a business perspective, Hopkins said, because when the mainland power is down, the island is going to have an even more difficult time.

The proposal is for a pre-engineered, pre-packaged power source that can produce and store renewable energy, reduce electricity bills, and and serve as a sustainable source of back-up power. The power would come from solar panels on the roof of the school, and would be stored in batteries kept in an outdoor shipping container.

The project is modeled after the Florida-based Sunsmart E-Shelter program, which installed solar electric emergency power systems in more than a 100 schools that serve as their communities’ emergency shelters.

Hopkins said he has been working with this project’s founder, Bill Young, to try and bring it to cold-weather climates. There are a few key differences between Florida’s project and the one Hopkins proposes.

“In Florida, they don’t have to keep the heat on,” he said. “… They also get more sun, so we have to deal with those issues.”

Hopkins said the cost of the project in Florida was around $100,000 per school. He said the cost of the project in Maine would be more, simply because more panels and bigger batteries would be needed.rooftop-solar-array-537x359

He said storms are becoming “more frequent, more powerful, and more damaging.”

In Maine, he added, people tend to shelter in place. But if the shelter is no longer feasible, people need a place to go.

“When the power goes out, the most vulnerable need to find shelter, Red Cross shelters are typically located in schools and municipal buildings,” Hopkins said. “Some shelters have backup emergency generators, but most do not.”

He also said fuel for backup generators can become scarce in times of disaster, while solar can provide necessary electricity until power is restored.

Hopkins began working on a Solar Electric Emergency Power project about a year ago at York Middle School. Thanks to a grant from Efficiency Maine, he and others were able to install a solar array to offset energy costs from the school’s laptop computer program. He said in that year they saved the school $1,600 in electricity costs.

Island resident and community organizer Sam Saltonstall reached out to Hopkins about the possibility to taking his project in York and bringing it Peaks. Saltonstall first started thinking about energy efficiency efforts after working with the Island Institute.

He said he discovered that, although the York Middle School is the designated American Red Cross emergency shelter for the town, there was no emergency power source. That’s when he began to wonder if the newly installed solar arrays could be used to provide a minimum level of power to the emergency shelter in York. Word spread of this idea, and that’s when Saltonstall contacted Hopkins.

In addition to Peaks Island Elementary School and York Middle School, the Kittery Community Center has also been identified as a pilot project site.

The ethics of climate change

As a global and long-term problem, climate change presents a huge ethical challenge. Climate change is the consequence of a huge number of small acts, which individually are not intended to cause harm. Moreover, the main victims of climate change – future generations and people in vulnerable countries – are distant in time and space from those who have contributed to the problem.

– Dr. Andrea Bunting

http://www.psychologyforasafeclimate.org/our-work.php

More resources.

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Real food security

Anybody interested in solving, rather than profiting from, the problems of food production and distribution will see that in the long run the safest food supply is a local food supply, not a supply that is dependent on a global economy. Nations and regions within nations must be left free — and should be encouraged — to develop the local food economies that best suit local needs and local conditions.

— Wendell Berry

Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of American farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.

— Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America : Culture & Agriculture

Article 3 to address potentially failing septic systems in York

On November 4, York voters will have the opportunity to enact a new ordinance that will require homeowners or buyers to have a septic system inspection done at the time of property sale or transfer. Some real estate brokers have objected to the ordinance, claiming that most buyers already get the septic inspected prior to buying a house.

However, according to a recent York Weekly article (Sept.10, 2014), “Town officials said what’s currently missing is having a report sent to the town for them to know which septic systems are failing. The ordinance would require a Maine Licensed Site Evaluator or Certified Septic Inspector to send a report to the local plumbing inspector within 30 days of the completion of an inspection.”

Below are more arguments in favor of the ordinance:

Cape Neddick River

Cape Neddick River

  • Article 3 protects our wells, our fishing industry, and tourism, the base of our economy here in York.
  • The impact from failing septic systems is a town-wide issue. We all live on a watershed. Every property in York drains into the York River, Cape Neddick River and all our beaches. A 2011 study showed human fecal bacteria in multiple sites on Long Sands and Short Sands Beaches on multiple occasions. It is very possible that this contamination traveled from failing septic systems miles away from the coast.
  • Water pollution from failing septic systems is DEVASTATING to York property values. Who wants to live on or near a polluted beach?
  • Article 3 protects our local economy. Beach related spending in Maine is estimated at $500 million per year.
  • Article 3 is about Personal Responsibility. We ALL pay for failing septic systems by funding clean up with tax dollars. Residents need to ensure their septic systems are not polluting the environment.
  • There are already 386 Certified Septic System Inspectors in the State of Maine (dozens in York County alone).
  • Septic system replacement grants are available through the State of Maine.

Update [Oct. 18, 2014]:  Here is a link to a report with the lengthy title, Maine Healthy Beaches Program Microbial Source Tracking Pilot Study 2011; Technical Report: Microbial Source Tracking to Identify Human Sources of Fecal Contamination in Coastal York County in Summer 2011. MHBP Final_Technical_Report_3-26-12

The 27-page scientific study goes into great detail about the methods used to monitor a number of sites where runoff flowed into Cape Neddick Beach, Short Sands Beach, and Long Sands Beach.

Among the admittedly preliminary findings was that  “96 % of the water samples evaluated in this study exceeded the Maine single sample advisory  limit of 104 MPN Enterococcus per 100 mL of water, and 12.5 % were over 130 times higher than this threshold.”

The study found signs of “serious potential human fecal problems” where fresh water entered all three beaches. Although the author of the study could not identify the actual sources of the fecal contamination, it is unlikely to be from the sewer district’s outflow because all sampling was done at either storm water discharge areas or at fresh water tributaries.

Also noted in the document was the conclusion that “fecal contamination is a serious public health concern, because wastes from humans and other animals often carry pathogenic organisms that can infect people who use the water for recreational purposes such as fishing and swimming.”

Protecting Our Well Water

There will be an important presentation on Oct. 5 on the subject of “Protecting Our Well Water.”

The date is Sunday, October 5, at 7 PM at the York Public Library.

WellWaterFlyer

Speakers will be Dr. Robert Marvinney, Director, Maine Geologic Survey and Gail Darrell, Director, New England Office of the Community Environmental Legal Defense.  Patty Hymanson, York resident and physician, will facilitate this event.

Dr. Marvinney and Ms. Darrell will talk about the origins of groundwater — the water we drink — and threats to the quality of our well water. Threats to our wells can include runoff from salted roads, fertilizer from golf courses, arsenic and other pollutants, and extraction of water for commercial use or sale.

Learn about what we can do to protect our wells from the effects of pollution and extraction.

Everyone is welcome.

Refreshments served.

To idle or not to idle

Cars are different now. It may be time to re-think a common misconception.

Idling_Infographic_01

America’s solar revolution

Solar power is on the rise. From the Union of Concerned scientists:

From rooftops to landfills to large open spaces, harnessing the full power of solar energy will be a key part of our nation’s transition to clean, reliable and affordable electricity that can safeguard our environment, protect our health and power our economy.

The . . . → Read More: America’s solar revolution

A guide to energy efficient lighting

The following infographic provides a good summary of some of the choices available for energy efficient lighting.

Source: WellHome

This entry was posted in Conservation Conversations Blog.

2014’s most promising alternative energy trends

According to mining.com, “The business world has recognized a need for viable alternative energy solutions, and investors are now pouring in their cash. Last year, a staggering $214 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide.”

Below are a few of the most promising innovations in the area of renewable and clean energy.

Infographic from: . . . → Read More: 2014’s most promising alternative energy trends

York awarded $98,000 for renewable energy

The town’s Energy Steering Committee was informed this week that it was successful in its application for a significant grant that will be used primarily for a solar photovoltaic array on the York Beach Fire Station. From seacoastonline.com:

York energy panel gets $98K for efficiency upgrades By Susan Morse , June 26, 2014

YORK, Maine . . . → Read More: York awarded $98,000 for renewable energy

Surfeur – a local business commited to sustainability while giving back to the community

At York Goes Green, we like to support local businesses that are both environmentally responsible and committed to helping people in need. Surfeur is a York business aiming to walk that line. From it’s website:

Surfeur, LLC started with the love of all things surfing. We wanted to build a brand that is known for . . . → Read More: Surfeur – a local business commited to sustainability while giving back to the community

York voters approve Article #43

York voters went to the polls at the annual budget referendum on Saturday, May 17, 2014 and approved Article #43, which appropriates $100,000 for capital improvements related to energy solutions and conservation at Town-owned properties.

Learn more about the Energy Steering Committee and how the Article 43 appropriation will be used to save energy and . . . → Read More: York voters approve Article #43

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