Archive for the ‘Green Building’ Category

Reminder: Light Bulb Swap on Saturday!


If you are a Cambridge resident, this is a reminder to come swap up to three of your incandescent or CFL light bulbs* for free LED replacements this Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Cambridge Winter Farmer’s Market at 5 Callender St, from 10am-2pm! We will also have a pop-up store with heavily discounted LEDs for all of your other lighting needs.

*The swap is limited to A19 and BR30 bulbs.

This event is part of the City’s 100% LED Campaign that encourages residents to change over their lighting to LEDs, which use six times less energy. Please note that the bulb swap is limited to Cambridge residents and while supplies last.

 … [view entry]

Bikes, Data, & A Master Plan: 3 Cambridge Announcements

There is some great stuff happening in Cambridge that you should know about! Here are three announcements from the Cambridge Community Development Department:

 1. Cambridge Conversations: Kicking off the Master Planning Process

What’s special about Cambridge? What could be better? We’re launching our citywide master planning process by collecting feedback on these questions and more. If you work or live in Cambridge, make yourself heard by adding your throughts to our brand new Co-Urbanize site:

Head to the forum page to contribute your ideas and see what others have been saying. The site will keep you updated on the whole master planning process. It has only just begun.

2. City Open Data Site Live!

See all kinds of interesting information about our fair city, from street tree identification to crime reports … [view entry]

2011 Intern Dana Rubin to Travel the U.S. in Search of Practical Environmentalism

2011 summer intern Dana Rubin will be traveling around the country starting on September 1st, 2012 to seek out the practical and economical environmental projects that are occurring all across the nation.

Dana, and her partner-in-crime Hannah Blackmer, want to take the fear out of climate change and make it a more positive transition. There are so many projects that individuals and small businesses can conveniently do to build up a better resilience to save money and help the environment.  Their voyage is The Search for Convenient Resilience and they will be seeking out projects that range from homesteading, rooftop gardens, personal alternative energies and upcycling projects.

Dana and Hannah, recent graduates of Mount Holyoke College, really need your help to raise enough funding to make the endeavor possible. The … [view entry]

Cambridge Thermal Imaging Project

This winter photo shows brightness where the most heat is escaping this home.

Cambridge! It’s finally here: a chance to vividly see the cool or warm air leaving your drafty home, without having to pay hefty fees to a thermal photographer. Thanks to the Thermal Imaging Project on which HEET has partnered with Sagewell Inc., Cambridge homeowners can request thermal (infrared) images of the outsides of their homes.

The images are taken with car-mounted cameras similar to those used for Google Maps street view, and taken on a “first come, first served” basis – with highest priority given to locations with highest demand.  With the slight air of a Groupon deal, Sagewell has asked for 400 requests from Cambridge before they will release our thermal images for free.

Because of fossil … [view entry]

Search for the Solar Grail

This is a guest post from Eric Grunebaum from the great blog, EnergySage.


Part 1

Search for the Solar Grail

Hello to new EnergySagers –

I’m located in Massachusetts and I thought my recent experiences looking into solar PV for my house might be helpful for folks.

First off, I should say that I’m pretty lucky to have an unobstructed south-facing roof. I’ve been thinking about solar for a while, and watching prices go down, so a couple of months ago I started asking people who had installed solar PV panels if they could recommend companies. I found two through word of mouth and then I found three more via

I was definitely interested in the “social” benefits of cutting back on fossil-fuel generated electricity, but what really … [view entry]

EPA report cracks down on hydraulic fracturing

Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Flags, ca. 1876 by Cornell University Library

The clean energy revolution has never been more critical.  In a report released December 8th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a direct link between the con­tro­ver­sial drilling prac­tice known as hydraulic frac­tur­ing and ground­wa­ter contamination.  For years, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” a method to extract oil and gas from under­ground deposits that uses a mix­ture of sand, water and chem­i­cals to frac­ture shale rock and release the gas, has been taking place across the country, mainly unabated and unquestioned by politicians and industry professionals.

Now however, it’s official: fracking has been correlated to tainted groundwater that is often entirely undrinkable by area residents and wildlife alike.  The EPA report specifically notes high con­cen­tra­tions of ben­zene, xylene, gaso­line and diesel fuel in groundwa­ter sup­plies linked to waste­water pits and deeper fresh water … [view entry]

City Dwellers Can Make Roofs Greener

Rooftop gardens, or green roofs, are popping up everywhere. These gardens add life and color to gloomy, industrial looking cities and drab roofs.

Rooftop gardens improve air quality, create local food sources, delay water runoff, and bring color to a dull roof.  They also help insulate buildings and reduce electricity and gas costs, which is  particularly beneficial for people who live in very hot or cold areas. According to, green roofs allow buildings to retain 30% more heat in the winter than ordinary roofs. Green roofs also reflect light and heat, which may help buildings stay cooler in the summer. The insulation from rooftop gardens also helps block out noises from outside.

There are many different kinds of green roofs, but they are all essentially built in the same way. … [view entry]

A New Way to LEED Our Communities

25th at Venable (circa 2005)(cropped) by john.murden What does ‘green building’ mean?  How can principles of sustainability be implemented in building design and construction and be certified as such?  These were questions that the U.S. Green Building Council ( dealt with when they rolled out their first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) guidelines in the 1990s.  Although LEED has received criticism for not incorporating measured building performance in its accreditation service, their guidelines have evolved over the years and are regarded as the leader in the world of green building certification [1].  Warm Home Cool Planet contributor John Bolduc reports that here in Cambridge–one of the nation’s most accomplished cities in sustainable practices–64 buildings have either been registered with LEED or accredited.

But for all the usefulness a green building certification system brings with it, … [view entry]

Freiburg – Greenest City in Europe?

Kaiser Joseph Strasse, in Freiburg Center

I’m on a personal study tour of Germany and Holland to see what German and Dutch cities are doing about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.  The tour is organized by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, an organization that the City of Cambridge has been a member of since 1999.  Our tour leader, Jade Jackson, is leading our group of 4 Canadians and 2 Americans through Freiburg and Dresden Germany, and then on to Bonn to attend the ICLEI Climate Resilient Communities conference.  We will end up in Rotterdam in The Netherlands.  I thought I would try to share what I see and learn along the way.  I hope you find it useful and interesting.

In Cambridge, we often look to Europe for … [view entry]

Ultimate Greening Your Home Seminar

Residents of Cambridge, MA were introduced to a new opportunity on February 8th, 2011. Energy efficiency is on the minds of renters, condominium owners, and homeowners alike as the environmental, financial, and physical benefits become more prominently appreciated. Usually when energy efficiency information is available, it is more general and further discussion with specific professionals is suggested, since the process of making home energy efficiency improvements is tailored to unique home and ownership characteristics and often entails several detailed levels of complexity. On February 8th, those professionals were brought together in one place for an evening of sequential enlightenment for curious attendees, with an added bonus of networking amongst their industry peers and less-assumed partners, Green real estate agents.

When the Cambridge Energy Alliance and Coldwell Banker Agents Amy Tighe and Robin … [view entry]