Tags Posts tagged with "Sustainability"

Sustainability

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File photo by Kyle Barr

The Sustainable Libraries Initiative recently recognized the Comsewogue Public Library as a leader in sustainability through its award-winning Sustainable Libraries Certification Program.

This initiative guides libraries through a step-by-step process to infuse triple bottom line sustainable decision-making into their library’s policies and actions. 

Through Comsewogue’s participation in the program, they have strengthened their existing community partnerships and expanded into new collaborations. The library staff are keenly aware of the needs of their community, although not always able to directly meet them. 

Forging partnerships with other agencies allows Comsewogue Public Library to leverage this insight and align their services to involve partnering community organizations to ensure that their community’s current and emerging needs are met. The ability to bring agencies and resources together highlights Comsewogue Public Library’s prominent role in establishing and maintaining a thriving and resilient community. 

The Sustainable Libraries Certification designation demonstrates to their community that decision making based on the triple bottom line principles can have lasting and tangible benefits.

“Everything we do now is looked at differently,” said Comsewogue Director Debbie Engelhardt. “Purchases, procedures, policies are put through the Triple Bottom Line lens. We want to be Environmentally Sound, Socially Equitable and Economically Feasible in our decision making.” 

As the library administration and staff worked through the rigorous benchmarking process, they reduced their greenhouse gas consumption through the installation of LED lighting fixtures, new HVAC units, a white roof and an EnergyStar-rated water heater. 

Shredding and recycling events open to the community diverted 3720 gallons of paper and 1349 pounds of eWaste from the landfill. Energy and water savings information was broadcasted to the staff and community, with a representative from PSEG, the community’s energy provider, offering information and energy savings tips to library users. 

Additionally, they collaborated with the Town of Brookhaven to provide a receptacle for the community to continue to recycle glass after household pickup was discontinued. 

To promote empathy and respect for all members of their diverse community, cultural competency training was offered to the staff and the library’s program offerings included several engaging programs that celebrate the variety of multi-cultural heritages of those they serve. 

The library set clear objectives in a new Collection Development Policy that sets out to promote literacy and inclusivity, encourage freedom of expression, and support their community’s interests. They have worked to expand their residents’ access to government services by hosting senior advocates, job fairs, and “Claim Your Unclaimed Funds” program. 

Reflecting on the certification program, Children’s & Teen Librarian Debbie Bush said, “I believe our community better understands how we operate and sees our library as a sustainable leader in the community.” 

International impact 

Comsewogue Public Library is among the first libraries to participate in the Sustainable Libraries Certification Program, the first of its kind in the world. This benchmarking program was developed to assist libraries of all kinds – public, academic, and individual school librarians — to create opportunities to make better choices on behalf of the local and global community. 

The program has been recognized by the International Federation of Library Associations at their 2019 World Congress in Athens, Greece, becoming the first program in the United States to be honored through their “Green Libraries” Award. 

Comprehensive approach 

With categories of actions focusing on each of the three pillars of triple bottom line sustainability such as Energy, Indoor Spaces, Social Cohesion and Resilience Planning, this comprehensive process leads a library toward institutional change that shifts the rationale for every decision to consider the local and global impacts. 

Through this program, libraries work with their communities to listen and learn, allowing local needs to be identified and addressed. Strengthening the relationship between the library and the community they serve builds resilience through stronger connections with many organizations and increased access to information. 

The path to certification through the Sustainable Libraries Certification Program is designed to be flexible for libraries of different types, sizes, and budgets and guided by the communities they serve. Each library that completes the program will select the benchmarks that best fit the needs of their library and community, resulting in a uniquely sustainable organization. 

The Sustainable Libraries Initiative is expanding to enroll libraries throughout the United States, with nearly 50 libraries currently enrolled in the Sustainable Libraries Certification Program. Comsewogue Public Library is the ninth library to be certified through this program.

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Stock photo

Recently I was in New Jersey with my former college roommates. 

We had been Zooming and planning to get together for months. The yearbook came out and we laughed over it. We tried a yoga pose to alleviate back pain, discussed the kids and uses of turmeric. 

We moved to the subject of CBD oil, and dispensaries, when “Sheila” handed us each a small, light weight, paper package.

The next day, retelling this to my 22-year-old, she surmised that, as early 80s college grads, the package likely contained something illicit. 

The envelope, however, contained compressed laundry detergent sheets. 

I was cautiously impressed. My roomie-tribe had vowed decades prior to reject plastic packing when possible. 

The envelope label read in part, “eco-friendly, cruelty-free” and “biodegradable anionic and non-anionic surfactants.”

 To this point I had used powder detergent. I buy the cardboard boxes locally and they do nicely in the outdoor fire pit when empty.

Once home, I gave my 20-year-old Kenmore a whirl. The sheets worked well in both cold and hot washes. 

My kid said they are easy to use. The thin 6 by 10-inch, lightweight envelope takes up minuscule space in the cabinet and the perforated sheets will do 60 loads. 

I foresee fewer shopping trips for me, fewer transport ships and trucks and a reduction in carbon emissions. 

The efficiency in cold water is especially important, I think. Globally, cold water is what humans have greatest access to. 

E.B. White once wrote, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” 

I suffer the same affliction. When shopping, my first thought, after “How many carbs?” is, “How big a carbon footprint?” Thus, I began deeper research. I was curious about the manufacturing process of the emerging hydrate-at-home cleaners if I am to use them. 

As a Long Islander I am not always convinced that dirt is worse than harsh chemicals. Dirt and I are not so different.

Nutrients for humans come from food directly or indirectly through plants grown in soil. If a cleaner breaks down dirt, it breaks me down on some level as well, no? 

What I found is, although all forms of laundry detergent manufacturers have, in response to consumers, removed most phosphates, other substances known to pollute the environment remain. 

With regard to packaging, most people I know are putting plastic into the recycle bin. 

A quick survey of friends in Brookhaven who use liquid detergent, revealed that half had purchased plastic laundry jugs stamped with an HDPE ‘2’ symbol. 

The other half either found no recycle number stamped on the plastic at all, which I found alarming, or, the symbol was high. Not in a good way. 

In either case, these cannot be recycled in Brookhaven. I found one of my own shampoo bottles cannot be recycled. 

Although I have found vegan laundry sheets, cleaning action and chemical ingredients seem equal.  

The choice then for me, is either heavy thermal energy use at the front-end drying process for sheets or on the back end with disposal and transport of plastic jugs. 

After discussion with the family, we are abandoning boxes of powder for laundry sheets. I will throw the envelope in the chiminea when it is empty.  

On a personal level, my goal will be to do fewer loads of laundry and wash my hair less often. You’ll likely find me in dirty jeans and a bandanna covering my hair — flashback to senior year.

Joan Nickeson is an active member of the PJS/Terryville community and community liaison to the PJS/T Chamber of Commerce.

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On Feb. 13, parents of Setauket Elementary School students spoke to the board of education about establishing a districtwide sustainability and wellness task force. File photo

By Andrea Paldy

The Town of Brookhaven’s recent return to dual-stream recycling has been a wake-up call for many residents, forcing them to take a closer look at food waste and other remnants of daily consumption.

“We have an opportunity right now to lead by example, to teach our children how we can make small changes in our schools to help the environment.”

— Valerie Briston

In an effort to confront this new reality, two Three Village parents spoke to the school board Feb. 13 about establishing a districtwide sustainability and wellness task force.

“We have an opportunity right now to lead by example, to teach our children how we can make small changes in our schools to help the environment,” said Valerie Briston, a mother of three. “We are at a point now where we really need to focus on reducing our consumption of resources.”

Briston is working with other Setauket Elementary School parents who have approached their PTA about exploring ways to reuse classroom supplies, reduce the amount of waste at class parties, after-school events and in the cafeteria, and to “examine how things are delivered in eco-friendly packaging.”

Lindsay Day, a mother of two, is one of those parents. She recollected when she was a Setauket student, that she “learned very quickly about the positive environmental impact that waste reduction and recycling have on our delicate Long Island ecosystem.”

This is why, Day said, it is important that sustainability initiatives include education, as well as eco-friendly practices, such as transparent and thorough recycling, school gardens, composting programs to reduce lunch waste and the inclusion of school-grown fruits and vegetables in school meals.

“We are more than willing to try new things and see how they go.”

— Jeff Carlson

The district has been receptive to the parents’ suggestions and will launch a pilot program to increase sustainability at Setauket Elementary School, where the switch will be made from plastic to reusable utensils in the lunchroom.

“We are more than willing to try new things and see how they go,” said Jeff Carlson, assistant superintendent for business services for the school district.

Plastic cutlery costs the district about half a cent for each piece, Carlson said, adding that the district was able to order metal versions for around 11 cents each. The new reusable utensils would quickly pay for themselves after several uses and even save the district money, he said.

Carlson pointed to the district’s other eco-friendly efforts, such as working with the facilities director and custodial staff to put systems in place to make it easier to separate paper, plastics and metal for recycling. He also said he has spoken with parents at other schools about starting composting programs.

Board president Bill Connors agreed that sustainability is a pressing issue and is here to stay. Following the meeting, he and Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said a task force is “something of interest.” The subject will be on the agenda of the board’s next executive meeting, Pedisich said.

This is not the first time the district has considered sustainability measures. In 2016, the board voted on the third phase of an energy contract with Johnson Controls to install solar panels on all of its buildings. However, the New York State Education Department has only just approved the district’s plans.

The panels, which will generate 2.3 megawatts of electricity, will cost about $7.7 million to install. The state will cover more than $5 million in building aid, and taxpayers will pay about $2.5 million, Carlson said. The installation should generate more than $10 million in savings over the term of the bond, along with additional savings beyond, according to Carlson. Installation is expected to begin this summer.

Program makes it easier for residents to save money

An infrared temperature gun measures the surface temperature of a home. Photo from Neal Lewis

It just got easier for homeowners on Long Island to monitor their energy costs.

The not-for-profit Long Island Green Homes Initiative is a public-private partnership that launched Nov. 10 with the goal of setting up homeowners with a professional energy audit at no cost. The program links residents with the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority to generate savings, stimulate jobs, boost economic development and promote sustainability, organizers said.

The initiative is headquartered at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and is partnered with three non-profits: Community Development Corporation of LI, LI Green and United Way of Long Island. A state program that offers similar services has been in effect for several years, but some said it wasn’t getting its message across to enough people.

Neal Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy, said some residents argued that the state government website was too confusing to use.

“The conclusion was that the key way to get more participation was to provide resources to homeowners to help navigate the process,” Lewis said.

That was how the Green Homes Initiative was born.

It started with the goal of providing an easy-to-use website coupled with energy navigators who help answer any questions a homeowner has. Lewis said the energy navigators then schedule a free home energy assessment that provides an in-depth analysis of a home’s energy efficiency for each homeowner.

It was crafted after similar programs in neighboring municipalities, but has tweaked pieces of the process with hopes of making it better, supporters said. In an earlier version of this program started in 2008 in Babylon, an average homeowner saved about $1,000 each year in energy costs, according to a press release.

LIGH has also partnered with five towns, including Huntington and Smithtown along the North Shore, to further encourage residents of those towns to take advantage of this program.

“I am proud this newest LI Green Homes Initiative is kicking off in Huntington Station,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement. “This is a prime example where much of the housing stock dates before the first energy conservation codes were adopted in the 1970s and can benefit dramatically by upgrading insulation and heating systems that are at or near their useful life expectancy.”

Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said this program incurs few out-of-pocket expenses for homeowners.

Many improvements that require homeowner investment are eligible for cost reductions of up to 50 percent, depending upon household income, according to Cuthbertson.

In an interview, Lewis said the only contractors providing the free home energy assessments were licensed, local, insured, and certified by Building Performance Institute. The contractors test a house’s insulation, heating and hot water systems, ventilation and more.

Once the tests are completed, the homeowner is given a comprehensive report that includes where and how their home can save energy, a fixed cost for each recommended improvement, and projected dollar savings on their utility bills for each recommended improvement.

If a homeowner decides to go ahead with those suggestions, the program would then assign them a performance specialist to do the work on their property.

The LIGH program can pay the entire cost of the improvements, and under a contract with the homeowner, the town sets up a monthly payment plan, Lewis said.

LIGH also structures the payment so that your savings cover your monthly bill. If a homeowner saves $100 a month on energy costs, they only owe the town $90 a month.

“We’re trying to get people to test their homes and make them more energy efficient,” Cuthbertson said.

The Initiative is funded for three years by a Cleaner, Greener Communities competitive grant award from NYSERDA of $2.3 million, and a supplemental grant from the Rauch Foundation in Garden City.

Stony Brook students field questions at their final project presentation. Photo by Phil Corso

Nick Fusco is still in college, but he already has a vision for the Three Village community’s de facto Main Street known as Route 25A. He and his classmates brought that vision to his neighbors Monday night to show what a little dreaming can do for the North Shore’s future.

“Our community could look like this,” Fusco said in front of a projected rendering of a reinvented Route 25A complete with greenhouse spaces, apartment housing, environmentally friendly landscaping and more. “We’ve come up with ways to improve safety, aesthetics and, most importantly, functionality.”

Fusco and about a dozen other Stony Brook University students presented at the Setauket Neighborhood House on Monday evening as part of a final project for Professor Marc Fasanella’s ecological art, architecture and design class under the college’s sustainability studies program. The conversation, “Keeping a sense of place in the Three Villages,” involved four students presenting PowerPoint slides showing off their reimaged Setauket and Stony Brook communities, utilizing existing infrastructure to help employ ecologically-friendly additions and make Three Village a community that retains young people.

A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso
A student rendering shows what could be of a vacant field near Stony Brook University. Photo by Phil Corso

“We looked at this as a tremendous opportunity for our students and for the community moving forward,” Fasanella said. “Are we dreaming? Of course we’re dreaming.”

The class built off the work of last year’s students, who brainstormed ways to bridge the gap created by the railroad tracks that separate the university from the greater Three Village community. Their proposals were met with great praise from residents, civic leaders and officials in attendance Monday. The ideas were bold, including anything from pulling buildings closer to the 25A curbside to make way for a greater “Main Street” feel to constructing a “green” multi-tiered parking garage near the train station for both retail space and commuter parking.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, applauded the students for daring the community to take a different look at the future of Three Village. His group helped to sponsor the event alongside the Three Village Community Trust.

In an interview, Nuzzo said the Route 25A corridor, especially near the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road station, has a long and troubled history and could use a facelift to enhance safety for pedestrians, motorists and anyone living in the area.

Nuzzo, who also studied environmental design, policy and planning at Stony Brook University, was also once a student in Fasanella’s ecological urbanism course and underwent a similar exercise in which he dreamt up projects to connect the campus to the nearby community.

“We need to have this discussion over what we want for our de facto Main Street. If we don’t decide, the developers are going to decide for us,” he said. “What do we want as a community? It starts with stuff like this.”

And the students’ visions did not fall on deaf ears, either. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) sat attentively throughout four students’ presentations and ended the meeting with encouraging words.

She said she was working alongside Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to enact a comprehensive Route 25A study, which should be discussed in a community forum on June 30 in East Setauket.

“It’s our responsibility to engage and continue the visioning process,” she said, on behalf of civic leaders and lawmakers in the community. “We want to work on our ‘Main Street’ and put the community’s visions into planning.”