March 21, 2019

Dear Boston Green Tourism Members,

This is the first newsletter since January. Sorry for the long delay! I have been busy writing a book and a course called, How to Green Your Hotel. I still have a long way to go.

As always, please call me if I can be helpful.
Credit: Zoltan Kovacs, Unsplash

Carbon Free Boston Report Released; Implications for Hotels
The Boston Green Ribbon Commission released this report in February. The team that wrote the report was led by Boston University's Institute for Sustainable Energy, with input from many parties, including City of Boston staff, Eversource and National Grid.
I summarize some key points here, but I encourage you to read the full report or this WBUR article.
Problem and Solution
The U.N.'s IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) urges the world to cut its fossil fuel use to almost zero by 2050 to prevent the earth's temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. The consequences of breaking the 1.5 degree barrier would be severe. For Boston, it would mean stronger storms and accelerated sea level rise that would have terrible consequences.
The Carbon Free Boston authors call for three overarching strategies to eliminate fossil fuel use in the city:
  • Reduce energy use through energy efficiency and conservation.
  • Electrify heating, hot water, cooking and transportation.
  • Purchase 100% clean electricity.
Building Solutions
The pressures and incentives to take steps to reduce fossil fuel use for buildings will grow.
Building owners may eventually be required to transition to heat pumps for heat and hot water. Heat pumps are gaining market share for new construction, though they're costly to install in existing buildings.
The MA grid will supply a greener mix of electricity every year. By 2030, 35% of electricity will be supplied by renewable energy sources. Bills have been filed to transition to renewable energy even faster.
Other Solutions
We can expect strong transportation initiatives, too. The authors call for speeding the adoption of electric vehicles, improving mass transit, facilitating walking and bicycling and incentivizing ride shares.
They also encourage measures to further reduce all waste; and to recycle and divert food waste for composting and anaerobic digestion.
Next Steps
The City is using the Carbon Free Boston report to update its Climate Action Plan. The CAP revisions will include new programs and strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It will be published in late summer of fall.

MA DPU Approves 2019 - 2021 Energy Efficiency Plan; 
Incentives Introduced for Energy Storage and Peak Demand Reduction
The MA Department of Public Utilities approved the new three-year energy efficiency plan. MA will spend $2.8 billion on the plan, and expects rate-payers to achieve $8.5 billion in savings.
The biggest change for commercial building owners is that the plan will incentivize energy storage. Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth Magazine said, "At peak demand periods, utilities would pay the customer to use the stored energy to reduce his/her personal power usage or to feed the electricity into the grid. The DPU decision did not detail the size of the incentives, although in testimony the utilities said they would be sizeable."
For several years, BGT speakers have advised hoteliers to plan to incorporate battery storage, because the market for it would soon be favorable. It looks like this is the year that battery purchases will surge in MA.

Credit: Marcel Fuentes

Coffee to Go: The Worst and Best Cups to Use

The coffee cups with the smallest footprint are ones that are washed and reused. But what are the best cups to use when reusable cups aren't practical?

Polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam, is certainly the worst choice for the environment. It's a symbol of environmental disregard, and for good reason. Styrofoam is considered to be a possible carcinogen by the EPA. It's also a reproductive toxin. Some Styrofoam chemicals leach from containers into food. Styrofoam emits toxic chemicals both when it's made and when it's incinerated.
It's not economical to recycle Styrofoam. When it's littered, it doesn't break down, making it a common component of marine debris. Both land and sea animals are sickened when they ingest it.
Styrofoam bans are sweeping the nation . Thirty-one MA communities have banned it, including Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline.
While most paper coffee cups beat Styrofoam, they're problematic, too, because they have a plastic liner. Hence, they can't be recycled or composted, and they aren't biodegradable.
Until recently, greener alternatives were lesser quality and more expensive. That's changed according to greenhome. Compostable coffee cups and lids can be found in a variety of materials, such as bagasse (sugar cane stalks), leafware (fallen palm leaves) and bamboo.
Look for products certified by:
*           BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute),
*           ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) or
*           FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

If you use them, you may enjoy your coffee even more.


Constellation, December 11, 2017
This article helps businesses reduce energy use in their selection, operation and maintenance  of commercial ice makers, refrigerators, freezers, walk-in coolers and freezers and blast chillers and freezers. 

Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News, February 21

Previously I have written about hotels that install preserved moss walls. Now it's possible for hotels to have living moss walls, too. 

Verdure Grow Walls come with a growing system that has misters, grow lights and other features that maintain the moss. Moss walls improve indoor air quality by reducing airborne carbon dioxide and particulates. They look cool, too.
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