The public is welcome to join the Concord Energy and Environment Committee at any of our regularly scheduled monthly meetings. Meetings are held in the second floor Conference Room at City Hall, from 6-8pm. Here is a listing of our upcoming meetings
- July 26th, 2011
- August 23rd, 2011
- October 25th, 2011
- November 22nd, 2011
The Concord Energy and Environment Committee was established in April 2008 by the Concord City Council at the recommendation of Mayor Jim Bouley. It is charged with recommending best practices, public and private actions, projects and programs for the City to improve energy efficiency and air quality and fight climate change. Committee members are Concord residents volunteering their time and skills. Initiatives supported by the Committee include:
- Energy efficiency projects for public and private properties
- Assisting the City in identifying projects and funding sources for energy projects
- Recycling and composting
- Renewable energy installations
- Alternative transportation planning and events
- Local agriculture and food sourcing
- Energy workshops
The Committee has championed community-based programs such as the New England Carbon Challenge to help residential reduce their energy use, and the Pay-As-You-Throw program to reduce solid waste and increase recycling rates. The Committee is also working with the City Planning Department and the City Planning Board to produce an energy and environment chapter as part of the City’s Master Plan, which will guide recommendations regarding energy and environmental policy and land use regulations.
The City of Concord is committed to achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and a 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012 through voluntary programs and City ordinances.
The Committee is comprised of 13 members – two members of the Concord City Council and 11 community members. The current Chair of the Committee is City Councilor Rob Werner. The Committee usually meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm in the City Hall second floor conference room. Any interested person is welcome to attend.
In 2005, the City’s Internal Management and Conservation Committee began planning to reduce energy consumption in City facilities and save taxpayer dollars. Areas of focus include:
- Reducing costs for fuels for all City operations
- Procurement policies that increase efficiency
- Building and facility management and construction techniques that improve efficiency
- Vehicle operation and management to improve efficiency
A great place to start is the New England Carbon Challenge web site, which will help you assess your energy use, provide information on steps you can take to reduce it, and connect you to services and products to implement energy efficiency and alternative energy projects. Other resources are available through Unitil (our local electric utility) and National Grid (our local natural gas utility). These utilities administer customer-funded programs that offer rebates on products from lighting to appliances, weatherization services and other measures that can improve the comfort of your home or business and reduce your energy bills. You should also take a look at the Office of Energy and Planning web site for other resources about energy efficiency and renewable energy at the state and federal level.
There are many ways to use less gasoline, including simple conservation measures, changing how you travel, and switching to a more efficient vehicle. Taking just a few simple steps can reduce your fuel use by 20% or more.
Here are some ideas:
- Plan your trips to accomplish more errands in a single trip.
- Share rides with others. Two people in the same car doubles your personal miles per gallon.
- Walk or ride your bike, especially when the weather cooperates and the distance is short. You can enjoy the neighborhood and get some exercise!
- Maintain proper tire pressures, and keep the engine tuned.
- Don’t idle. If you will be stopped for more than a minute, turn off the engine.
- Drive light-footed. Quick stops and starts waste fuel.
- Drive a little bit slower. Air friction increases exponentially with speed. There is little drag on your car below 30-40 mph, but much more above 40-50 mph. Above 60 mph, you can save 1% per mph. Reduce your normal highway speed by 5 mph and save gas and money!
- Reduce your use of A/C. Instead, use the car fan to keep cool, with the windows closed. If you need more cooling, keep the windows slightly open on one side at higher speeds. If you use A/C, turn it off 5 minutes before you arrive at your destination. Also, reduce the heat in your parked car on hot/sunny days by covering the windshield, and keeping all windows slightly open to allow heat to escape.
- Buy a miles-per-gallon (MPG) meter and see your MPG on the dashboard. Maybe you will train yourself to save fuel as you see how your driving affects your MPG.
- Look into mass transit options for getting around town, getting to the airport, or traveling between cities.
- If the bus stop is close, the route timing right, and the price is reasonable, take the bus. Considering fuel costs, car wear and tear, accident risks and parking fees, taking the bus or the train can be a good deal. Many local buses also have racks for bikes.
- Your choice of car can make a big impact on your fuel costs.
- “Right-size” your car for your needs. Cars with better MPG ratings will save you money. Look for vehicles with less weight, smaller size, and a better shape. If you usually drive but occasionally tow or carry heavy loads, consider using your car for driving and renting a truck for towing or carrying. If you have 5 kids, maybe a mini-van is better than an SUV.
- Consider Hybrids. Hybrids absorb energy into batteries when braking (utilizing otherwise wasted friction heat) and reuse it when accelerating (requiring less fuel to be used). Newer plug-in vehicles will offset even more fuel with more battery.
For more tips on driving efficiency, click on the following links:
For more information on clean transportation, click on the following links:
The State Office of Energy and Planning web site is a great resource for state and federal resources. The Unitil and National Grid web sites are also very helpful. You can also use the tools at My Energy Plan (powered by the New England Carbon Challenge at UNH) to assess your energy use, find out what steps you can take to reduce it, and learn about services and products to implement energy efficiency and alternative energy projects.
There are many ways to incorporate alternative/renewable energy sources in your home (or business). Examples of alternative/renewable energy sources include biomass/biofuels, solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, hydrogen, and ocean energy. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Buy clean electricity. Unitil (and other utilities in the state) offers an option on your monthly electric bill to purchase renewable energy. This is an easy way to show your commitment to renewable energy sources. Visit the Unitil web site to sign up or find out more.
- Make your own clean electricity. Generating electricity using your own small renewable energy system can work for some homeowners and small-business owners. Although it takes time and money to research, buy, and maintain an energy system, there are many economic and environmental benefits to having an independent power supply. Learn more about off-grid systems, grid connected systems, and technologies available today for solar, wind, and hydro powered systems at the Department of Energy's Energy Savers page. You can also look for resources in New Hampshire at the State’s Office of Energy and Planning web site, and at the PUC’s Sustainable Energy website at http://www.puc.nh.gov/Sustainable%20Energy/SustainableEnergy.htm.
Designing and Remodeling
When building a new home or remodeling an existing one, consider investing in energy efficiency and pay attention to details. Here are some strategies to consider:
- Use a “whole-house” systems approach. Consider the interactions between you, your building site, your climate, and all elements and components of the home (appliances, windows, doors, heating systems, etc.).
- Passive solar design. Take advantage of the sun’s ability to heat the house in winter simply by proper house orientation and window sizing.
- Roof overhangs. Design overhangs to keep the sunlight out in the summer and let it shine in during the winter.
- Daylighting. Allow the sun to provide much of the home’s lighting needs during the day.
- Cool Roofs. A cool roof is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight (solar reflectance) and absorb less heat (thermal emittance) than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles.
- Check out the programs and incentives offered by our local utilities at the Unitil and National Grid web sites. These included new construction and retrofit programs for buildings and heating systems.
Space Heating and Cooling (wood and wood pellets, solar, biofuels)
Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. A wide variety of technologies are available for heating and cooling your home, including some renewable/alternative technologies.
Wood and Wood Pellet Heating Systems: Before the 20th century, 90% of Americans burned wood to heat their homes. As fossil fuel use rose, the percentage of Americans using wood for fuel dropped, falling as low as one percent by 1970. Then during the energy crises of the 1970s, interest in wood heating resurfaced as a renewable energy alternative.
Newer on the scene are pellet fuel appliances, which burn small pellets that look like rabbit feed and measure 3/8 to 1 inch in length. Pellets are made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials. Some pellet fuel appliances can burn a wide variety of biomass fuels, including nutshells, corn kernels, small wood chips, barley, beet pulp, sunflowers, dried cherry pits, and soybeans.
Active Solar Heating: There are two basic types of active solar heating systems based on the type of fluid—either liquid or air—that is heated in the solar energy collectors. (The collector is the device in which a fluid is heated by the sun.) Liquid-based systems heat water or an antifreeze solution in a "hydronic" collector, whereas air-based systems heat air in an "air collector."
Oil-Fired Furnaces and Biofuels:
Oil-fired furnaces and boilers are a popular choice in areas of the country with limited access to natural gas, such as the Northeast. Oil-fired furnaces and boilers present an opportunity to use renewable fuels to heat your home. A number of companies are now offering heating oil blended with biodiesel, allowing their customers to reduce their dependence on foreign oil while drawing on a domestic energy source. The biodiesel blends also produce less pollution than pure heating oil.
You can also contact National Grid to learn about incentives for highly efficient furnaces and boilers for your home or business.
Water Heating – (Solar Water Heating System)
Solar water heaters—also called solar domestic hot water systems—can be a cost effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use—sunshine—is free.
How They Work: Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.
Make Your Home Energy Efficient
One of the most important benefits of renewable energy is that it generates energy with little or no pollution. Using renewable energy in your home or business should always be coupled with making your home or business as energy efficient as possible and conserving energy. Learn more at: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/, or contact Unitil or National Grid to see what incentives and resources are available.
Concord began its Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) program in the middle of 2009 to create more incentives for the community to recycle. Prior starting PAYT, the City recycled 2,800 tons of waste and hauled 14,800 tons of trash to the Wheelabrator waste-to-energy incinerator in Penacook. In 2011, City recycling has increased to 4,200 tons (a 50% increase) and total trash collection has dropped to 8,150 tons (a 45% decrease).
At the time Concord initiated PAYT, Concord’s old contract with Wheelabrator was expiring, and the contract extension increased the price the City paid per ton of waste disposed. Given the increased price to dispose of trash, at the time the City estimated that the PAYT program could save Concord taxpayers a total of $5 million over ten years. This translates into an estimated annual savings of $135 per year for an average home.
Recycling saves energy. It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum cans than to making new cans from raw materials. It takes 60% less energy to recycle steel than to produce new steel (every steel can that is recycled saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for 3.5 hours). It takes 40% less energy recycle paper than to produce new paper. It takes 70% less energy to recycle plastic than to produce new plastic. It takes 40% less energy to recycle glass than to produce new glass.
Recycling in Concord prevents 9,114 metric tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide equivalent) from escaping into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking 1,680 cars off the road in a year.
Your food choices can have a dramatic impact on your carbon footprint. About 10% of your food-related carbon footprint comes from the energy used to transport it to your plate. More than 80% comes from energy used to produce and process the food.
Conventional agricultural practices use large amounts of water and contribute to both water and air pollution through the use of harmful chemicals. Many of those chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) are derived from petroleum, and agricultural practices and production processes are energy intensive.
You can reduce your carbon footprint by being mindful of where your food comes from and how it is produced. Below are a few easy steps to take:
- Eat food that's in season and eat local. We have become accustomed to eating what we want, when we want it, even if that means eating strawberries in January that traveled by air from the southern hemisphere. By choosing food that is in season and grown or raised close to home, you are choosing food that has traveled the least possible number of miles to your plate. Know where your food comes from. Get to know what is in season in this area at different times of the year. Now that farmers markets operate almost year-round in New Hampshire, it is easier than before to enjoy delicious local food in any season.
- Eat whole foods. Get into the habit of buying and using whole ingredients rather than packaged, processed convenience foods. In many cases, individual ingredients in those processed foods have travelled great distances, even before production and before being transported to your grocery store. Buying whole grains, fruits, vegetables and minimally processed foods is an energy-conscious choice, as well as a nutritious choice.
- Decrease the amount of meat and dairy you eat. Of all the foods on your plate, meat and dairy foods require the most energy to produce. About 40 calories worth of fossil fuel go into each single calorie of feed lot beef. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the meat industry generates almost one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, far more than transportation. Taking even one day off a week from eating meat and dairy products can make a significant difference. Read the full report at the FAO website.
- Eat minimally packaged foods. Better still, buy staples in bulk, and bring your own containers. Foods that are sold with little or no packaging require less energy to produce and transport, and after use there is less or no packaging left to be disposed. If you do choose packaged foods, be sure to reuse or recycle all packaging.
Try this fun and informative Low Carbon Calculator for a closer look at how your food choices relate to your carbon footprint.
Compost is a pure source of nutrients and minerals for your soil and garden. Many conventional fertilizers on the market today are chemically-intensive, generally derived from petroleum by-products. The compounds in these fertilizers may offer quick relief to nutrient deprived soils, but in the long term are poor stimulants and are potentially harmful to soil health. When you add naturally-created compost to your soil on a regular basis you are investing in the health and fertility of that land for many generations to come. Check out the Soil Science Society of America website for more information on soil health.
Composting is a rewarding process that requires little or no financial investment and can be as simple or as complex as you choose. Depending on your household’s waste, you could divert 25-40% of your waste from going to the incinerator, not only reducing your carbon footprint but saving tax dollars.
What Can You Compost?
There are many items in your household besides fruit and vegetable scraps that you can put into your compost pile or bin. For more information, see "75 Things You Can Compost, but Thought You Couldn't" at the Planet Green website.
Wondering How to Compost?
Howtocompost.org is a great resource for everything you need to know about composting.
If you do not have a large yard or enough sunshine, or are a tenant and do not have permission to compost at your residence, there is still another option. “Worm composting” (also known as “vermicomposting”) is growing in popularity in urban settings because it offers individuals the ability to compost indoors in a small, contained space. To learn more about worm composting, check out Joan's Famous Composting Worms.