Juliette Haas Receives the Alan Silverstein and Laura Dubester Award for Community Environmental Leadership

A deep commitment to protecting her local environment and community has earned Juliette Haas of Egremont the Center for EcoTechnology’s inaugural Alan Silverstein and Laura Dubester Award for Community Environmental Leadership.

Juliette Haas

Juliette Haas

Haas, who serves as Director of the Egremont Board of Health and Egremont Sustainability Coordinator, received the award at a meeting of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce at the Pittsfield Country Club on March 11. The award was presented by the Center for EcoTechnology’s President John Majercak and long-time former Co-Director Laura Dubester. The award honors Dubester and the late Alan Silverstein, who co-directed the Center for EcoTechnology for 30 years. They retired from their Co-Director positions in 2010.

The Alan Silverstein and Laura Dubester Award for Community Environmental Leadership is awarded by the Center for EcoTechnology to a local citizen who is working in his or her community to benefit the local environment – with a focus on reducing the harmful impacts humans can have on the environment – and the positive steps people can take at home, work and in their communities that help protect the environment, improve public health and build community.


Alan Silverstein and Laura Dubester

“This award honors Alan and Laura’s achievements, and brings recognition to individuals who demonstrate community and environmental leadership through their vision, persistence, collaboration, community education and accomplishments,” said Majercak. “We feel the best way to honor their work is to recognize similar work and commitment of other remarkable people, such as Juliette, in our communities.”

Haas has led a number of energy efficiency, renewable energy and waste reduction initiatives in Egremont. She secured grant funding to improve the town’s Highway Department, including installing a new energy efficient heating system and a solar array. Since going solar, the array has generated over 50,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy. In 2009, while chairing the Egremont Green Committee, she launched “Egremont Recycles”, a once-a-year Earth Day event where volunteers pick up roadside trash and then recycle it. She also helped the town establish a part-time Sustainability Coordinator position, whose job responsibilities would be to investigate further energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling/waste reduction programs. She recently served as Solar Coach for the state sponsored “Solarize Mass” project, helping forty Egremont households install solar arrays.

Haas served as administrator to the Egremont Wastewater Management Committee from 2002-2005, where she was instrumental in presenting a $4 million sewer project to the town, which secured close to $1 million in federal grant funding. She served for five years on the Alford/Egremont Cultural Council and was chairman for three.

For nearly 40 years, the Center for EcoTechnology, a non-profit organization, has helped people in western Massachusetts save energy and reduce waste in their homes and businesses. CET’s staff provide practical solutions that save energy, materials and money and have a positive impact on our community, economy and environment.

Silverstein and Dubester were pioneers in the environmental movement. From 1977 to 2010 they worked tirelessly at the Center for EcoTechnology to create and implement many successful and innovative community-based environmental initiatives and inspire others to do the same.

Thinking about Carbon Fee and Rebate

By John Majercak, CET president

Last week, Climate Action Now organized a panel to discuss the Carbon Fee and Rebate, a program that would tax fossil fuel suppliers and return all revenues to households and businesses. The event was held at Amherst College.

We were glad to co-sponsor this panel and learn more about the benefits of putting a fair price on carbon. A fair price would include the environmental cost of adding carbon to the atmosphere, and that additional cost would create incentives for us to develop cleaner energy alternatives!

The panelists included Ellen Story, MA State Rep. from Amherst, Pelham, and Granby; Tom Conroy, MA State Rep. from Wayland who co-sponsored last year’s attempt to pass a carbon tax bill; Dan Gatti, Executive Director of Climate XChange, the group spearheading a broad coalition organizing to support this legislation; Professor James Boyce, UMass Economics Department, a well-known expert on the policy; and Rev. Margaret Bullit-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Board member of the Better Future Project.

There are several good ways to implement a fair price on carbon that end up returning all the monies collected back to the people who collectively own our atmosphere. Some options include reduced income taxes, increased tax credits, or even just a simple dividend check.

Professor James Boyce, of the UMass Economics Department, helped the audience understand the concept with this example:

There is a company in California that has 1000 employees but only 500 parking spaces. Everyone collectively owns the right to park there, but there is limited capacity. So the company decided to charge employees to park there. At the end of each month, all the money collected in parking fees is divided equally among the 1000 people. Each receives a dividend check for the same amount, regardless of who parked how many times etc.

Some people drive their own car alone and pay to park every day. At the end of the month they end up with higher costs because the price they pay to park is more than the dividend check.

Others carpool and share the cost of parking in one space among several people. They break even since the cost of sharing the parking is equal to the dividend check they get.

Finally, others decide to take the bus or ride their bike and don’t park at all and therefore pay no parking fee. They end up better off financially because they still get the dividend but have no parking cost.

Now, instead of parking a car imagine the same system for the right to “park” carbon in our atmosphere. Get it?  Let us know what you think!

US-China climate deal is a big winner

By John Majercak, CET President

MIT chartFor all of you climate science junkies out there, check out this excellent analysis of yesterday’s US-China climate deal by Climate Interactive. This graph makes it clear that the deal will have a huge impact. More importantly, it shows what will happen if the rest of the world follows suit (check out the flat line in the graph).

The Center for EcoTechnology works with you to implement the local solutions – house by house, business by business – that are needed to help make national and global goals a reality. Thanks for doing your part!

Save on Your Power Bill this Winter

IMG_20140605_110431339Winter weather is right around the corner, as are electricity price increases. Here at CET, we know a few things about how to help people save energy and reduce costs. On Wednesday, October 15, Energy Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett visited EcoBuilding Bargains, our reused building materials store, to talk about how people can reduce their energy costs this winter. Here’s the media coverage:

Tips for Homeowners Mark Newey, building scientist at the Center for EcoTechnology, says that people in the region can take action now to keep warm and save money:

  1. Install energy efficient lighting. Lighting accounts for the second highest use of power in your home. LEDs offer the best lifetime economic value because they are extremely efficient and have a much longer lifespan. They work well in cold weather, dim with ease and are ideal for directional lighting. They also have the lowest operating cost, so you’ll see instant saving on your electric bill. CFLs are also a good option for fixtures that might not get as much use.
  2. Use smart power strips to turn off all of your unused electronics.
  3. Set the temperature back at night and when you aren’t home: If you have programmable thermostats, set them to automatically lower the temperature when you are sleeping or when no one is home.  The more you set the heat back the more money you will save.  Sometimes you hear that you shouldn’t set the temperature back because it will take even more heat to bring it back up to temperature – don’t believe this!  Keeping your house cooler some of the time saves energy in almost all cases – the only exception is an electric heat pump, which requires specialized thermostats to avoid using extra energy when reheating the house. Even radiant floor heating systems and steam heat systems will benefit from setting back your thermostat, you just need to allow them more time to adjust by changing the thermostat set point several hours before you want the temperature to arrive at a new setting. You can also get wifi thermostats that allow you to control the heat from any internet connection or smart phone – this is a great option if your schedule is unpredictable and you want to be able to adjust the temperature wherever you are.  Learn more
  4. Air seal your attic and basement: Air sealing involves foaming and caulking gaps and cracks in your home, especially those in hidden places.  Often, hidden places have very large gaps and cracks because no one has ever looked there before!  Examples include in between walls of your house, closet ceilings, staircases to attics and basements, and walls to attic spaces.  If you are eligible, get a Mass Save energy assessment and have a professional contractor air seal for greatly reduced cost.  It is very important for an experienced person to do the air sealing in order to get the full benefit.  Learn more
  5. Insulate and weatherstrip attic accesses: Warm air escapes your home through openings to the attic, and this includes attic accesses.  Attic accesses are often overlooked because the focus is on the places where cold air comes in rather than where the warm air escapes.  However, attic accesses can be some of the biggest holes in your house!  Insulate attic hatches with 6” or more of rigid foam board and be sure they close snugly.  Sometimes you will need to add latches or hooks to pull and hold the panel closed.  If you have a pull-down staircase, you will need to cover it with an insulated box.
  6. Button up your windows: If you have single-paned windows, install storm windows.  Use rope caulk or film plastic to make sure air doesn’t leak through the window.  Consider insulated blinds/curtains but be aware that only curtains that seal against the window will give you much benefit, and its important to let the sun shine through during the day to get free solar heat.


Six New EcoFellows Join CET!

CET Welcomes 2014-15 EcoFellows!

Fellows 2014-15 Aug

By Sonja Favaloro, EcoFellow

Hello! This is Sonja, one of six new EcoFellows who started a one-year Fellowship at the Center for EcoTechnology last week. We EcoFellows spent our first week learning the ropes of how CET operates and getting to know our mentors and other CET staff. The six of us came to CET from locations as far-flung as Kentucky and Hawaii! Our diverse backgrounds include working for the Nature Conservancy, traveling with Interfaith Peace Builders, completing degrees in environmental studies, economics, art history and politics, and working on international agriculture projects. Some of us were also leaders in our colleges’ environmental groups.

While at CET this year, the EcoFellows will be dispersed throughout the organization taking on a variety of tasks. These tasks include tabling at outreach events, managing online media, working on video documentary projects, marketing the EcoBuilding Bargains store in Springfield, assisting with home energy assessments, and working with the Green Business Services team.

Marin Goldstein, head of CET’s Outreach and Education department, was our fearless leader during last week’s training session. He invited members of each department to meet the EcoFellows and give them an overview of the department’s role in CET. We especially enjoyed hearing from the Green Business team, who nick-named us “The EcoFellowship of the Ring” and incorporated Lord of the Rings images throughout their power-point presentation! The week of training also included a chance for us to discuss our motivations for being EcoFellows and what we hope to get out of the program.

Here is a brief bio about each of the new EcoFellows:

Leah 8.14Leah Letourneau (Energy: Outreach/Green Home Services EcoFellow) graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Environmental Studies and Politics. She is currently attending Elms College working towards a MA in Teaching. Formerly, she worked in the Office of Development at Mount Holyoke in donor relations and has worked for the past several years in the private sector at Enservio as a Service Operations Manager.

Amanda 8.14Amanda Jacir (Outreach EcoFellow) graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 with a BA in Environmental Studies and Politics. As a member of their Resource Conservation Team, she developed programs to reduce the college’s energy consumption and waste production. She has spent time abroad traveling with Interfaith Peace Builders and interning in the Water and Environment department of ARIJ in Bethlehem.

Leah and Amanda say their outreach position will include “getting the word out about CET’s programs and offering support to people who want to participate in our programs.”

Nathan 8.14Nathan Shuler (Green Business Services EcoFellow) graduated from Centre College in Kentucky with a BA in Economics. He was president of Centre’s environmental student organization and worked on campus with the college President’s Climate Committee on sustainability issues. He interned with the Nature Conservancy as a Philanthropy Intern. He also worked for the Lexington, Kentucky municipal government as a Greenspace Planning intern where he assisted in the implementation of urban sustainability and green infrastructure projects.

Nathan explains, “As the GBS EcoFellow, I will be supporting the energy specialists and green business specialists effectively manage and implement waste, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects as well as helping to maintain positive relationships with business clients. “

Jenny 8.14Jenny Goldberg (Waste: Marketing/EcoBuilding Bargains EcoFellow) graduated from Emory University with a BA in Art History in 2012 and is currently taking courses at the Harvard University Extension School in Sustainability and Environmental Management. She worked at The International Omega Foundation in Chicago, assisting with marketing campaigns and partnerships on international agricultural projects. She also worked at Emory’s Center for International Programs Abroad advising and organizing events for students interested in studying abroad.

Jenny says her role will include “working with CET’s marketing department to develop content for print and digital media and increase their social media presence.”

Caitlin 8.14Caitlin Burgess (Energy: Outreach/GHS EcoFellow) graduated from Smith College with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. She also held a position at the Joint Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) and directly participated in the management of a natural resource – specifically, over-fished Hawaiian fish populations. Caitlin was also a Connecticut River Conservation Coordinator, and then a Technician, for the Nature Conservancy in Northampton.

Caitlin’s focus will be “supporting all aspects of the MassSave home energy assessments including helping the Energy Specialists in the field and the customer service team in the office.”

Sonja 8.14Sonja Favaloro: (Waste: Marketing/Store EcoFellow) graduated from Bates College with a BA in Environmental Studies. While there she coordinated the Clean Sweep recycling fundraiser on campus and researched uses of art in environmental activism for her senior thesis. She has also worked as an intern with D&R Greenway Land Trust and lived at an EcoVillage in Missouri for a summer.

My responsibilities, similar to Jenny’s, will include marketing and building our online presence. I will focus on social media, blogging and other outreach for the EcoBuilding Bargains store located in Springfield.

So far I have loved the experience of working at CET, and I think the other EcoFellows agree! We have felt warmly welcomed by the organization, and are starting to be able to wrap our heads around how CET works and which programs and services it offers. We are excited to start contributing to its mission of helping people and businesses save money and reduce waste!

Want to know more about the EcoFellowship? Watch this video!


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