Our EcoFellows have had many community engagement opportunities these past weeks! They had meetings with social justice groups and city planners, tours of various High-Performance Buildings, and interesting discussions while attending a Green Careers Conference. These events encouraged the Fellows to understand the region and surrounding towns in a more holistic way. Here are some of the highlights!

Franklin County:

Martin’s Farm Tour
Martin’s Farm is a composting facility in Greenfield, MA. The owner, Adam Martin, gave CET employees a tour of the farm and the composting machinery. He brought to light a lot of the struggles that farmers face trying to help their community while remaining conscious of the cost of running a farm.

Community Action Pioneer Valley
One of the many programs that CET supports is Community Action Programs, also known as CAP. The CAP programs, including Community Action Pioneer Valley in Greenfield, MA, offer relatively similar incentives and weatherization upgrades for homes as CET’s MassSave energy audits. These programs, as the EcoFellows learned, are for low income residents of the state to help them save energy and thus save money.

 

Berkshire County:

William’s College Zilkha Center Tour
The EcoFellows toured the Williams College Zilkha Center, a building that has achieved petal certification as part of the Living Building Challenge. This is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings, more so than Net Zero buildings or LEED Certified buildings. The Zilkha Center features composting toilets, nature inspired designs, rainwater collection, locally sourced building materials, and high energy efficiency. They are addressing the challenge of achieving net zero energy by upgrading their solar capacity and hope to achieve full Living Building Certification with the completion of their solar project.

Old Stone Mill Zero Waste Maker Space
The Old Stone Mill Zero Waste Maker Space in Adams, MA is a maker’s space that emphasizes reuse of materials, owned and operated by Leni Fried and Mike Augspurger.

Rather than a conventional maker space where materials are bought new, the Old Stone Mill tailors their projects to reuse materials they have diverted from the landfill. As part of their environmentally conscious efforts, they are installing an experimental heating system using heat from compost in a portion of the space, becoming the first of its kind at this scale. The owner, Leni Fried, also makes reusable bags from old grain and feed bags.

If upcycling reused materials is something that interests you, we encourage you to check out our store in Springfield: EcoBuilding Bargains!

 

Hampshire County:

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary
The EcoFellows joined Jonah Keane at the Mass Audobon Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary for an overview of the park’s history and a brief walk along the trails. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1944 and specializes in school programs, recreation, and advocacy. EcoFellows Maeghan and Brian set up a booth at the Arcadia Folk Festival, an event to raise funds to help expand the reach of Arcadia’s programming through the Arcadia Climate Action Center, and educated festival-goers about CET’s programs. EcoFellows Valeria and Belen also had the opportunity to volunteer at the festival, working the merchandise booth and the green room respectively.

Photo courtesy of MassAudubon.org

Barstow’s Farm Tour
Barstow’s Farm is located in Hadley, MA and is one of the few dairy farms in Massachusetts with an anaerobic digester on site. The digester turns food waste into energy. The waste is kept in large containers without any oxygen and as the waste decomposes it releases methane which is then captured and used for energy. They also showed off their robotic milkers and the EcoFellows enjoyed delicious milkshakes made from dairy produced on-site!

Kern Center at Hampshire College
As a Certified Living Building, the Kern Center is the 17th of 23 in the world. The EcoFellows had a great time exploring all of the features of the building, including the rainwater collection and treatment system, the overall design of the building and the materials used, the incorporation of natural systems like meadows and rain gardens, and the use of puzzles to educate visitors about the building.

Photo courtesy of Hampshire.edu

 

Hampden County:

Arise for Social Justice
Arise is a social activism group located in Springfield, MA. The EcoFellows had an informative and engaging meeting with Katy Pyle to discuss some of the challenges that low-income residents of Springfield are facing. Arise is doing what they can to advocate for a greener, cleaner city with improvements to the existing infrastructure and low-income housing.

Holyoke Green Initiative
The EcoFellows enjoyed touring the Holyoke Dam and learning about Holyoke Gas and Electric, a municipal utility company. The dam was opened for use in 1900 and has been used to power part of Holyoke’s electrical needs ever since. The EcoFellows learned how a dam contributes electricity, how a fish ladder functions, and what the company has planned for their Go Green initiatives!