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Mountain EARth Sustainability Series


Introducing the ...



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November 12, 2009
The term "green" is really not accurate, she explained in a kind manner. It is overused and doesn't mean much. The term "sustainability" is a more suitable choice. She then echoed my thoughts about the daunting task of talking about sustainability.

"There is a tremendous amount going on in New Hampshire and it can be daunting for citizens to understand," says Dundorf.

So much to learn

That's where her organization comes in.

You see, the New England Carbon Challenge, founded in 2006, makes every effort to educate, support and challenge the public to reduce energy consumption. On the Carbon Challenge's website there is an interactive tool to help the viewers determine their carbon footprint. The calculator shows the viewer how much energy they consume, ways to conserve, and then calculates how much money can be saved. The exercise only takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Dundorf explains that 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from households. The challenge is to reduce individual carbon dioxide household emissions by 10,000 pounds per year. Dundorf adds that this isn't as hard as you may think. She suggested that before I write the article I take the challenge. I did and learned that our household could save $1077 annually — that got me to thinking. You can take the carbon challenge at www.necarbonchallenge.org.

MWV takes the challenge

The Mt. Washington Valley has taken the challenge and the Green Team, a committee of the Mount Washington Valley Preservation Association in affiliation with the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, headed by Rob Burbank of the Appalachian Mountain Club, focuses on recycling, Valley community gardens, communications, policy issues, fundraising, and education and research. Dundorf says they are a from- the-ground implementation. The Mountain Ear will be excited to talk about their accomplishments in our next series.

Rebecca Ohler, climate and energy program manager for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, also talked about her department. The Department of Environmental Services is also working to educate the public. The department hosts the Granite State Clean Cities Coalition, which focuses on cleaner burning alternative fuels and other fuel reduction strategies. Ohler says Granite State Clean Cities works to help municipalities become more efficient indoors and outdoors.

"You can't talk about climate change without talking about transportation," says Ohler. Ohler says they now have over 70 stakeholders. When they were formally designated by the U.S. Department of Energy in May 2002, there were only 40 stakeholders. Like New England Carbon Challenge, Granite State Clean Cities is there to help. "We are a one-stop shop. If we don't have the answer, we'll find out the best people to talk with to facilitate the process," says Ohler.

Locally, Cranmore Mountain Resort is a stakeholder in Granite State Clean Cities and has been using biodiesel, an alternative fuel, in their grooming equipment since 2003.

New Hampshire Green Slopes

Speaking of ski areas, another initiative supported by the Department of Environmental Services and its Pollution Prevention Program is the New Hampshire Green Slopes program.

Green Slopes encourages sustainable practices at ski areas to help reduce environmental impacts. Our local ski areas support New Hampshire's anti-idling law. Attitash Mountain, Bretton Woods, Cranmore Mountain, Jackson XC, King Pine Ski Area, and Wildcat Mountain all post signage to remind skiers to turn off engines while dropping off. The environmental efforts at the Valley's ski areas have been huge and we are looking forward to speaking with Alice Pearce, director of SkiNH and our local areas to learn more. Stay tuned for our continuing series.

And there's more...

The sustainability office at the University of New Hampshire is on the cutting edge of education, says Dundorf.

"The sustainability office at UNH is one of our partners and is doing cutting-edge work, tremendous work. UNH is definitely a leader in higher education in this field."

UNH has the oldest endowed sustainability program in the United States. It began in 1997. In our continuing series we will look at the sustainable learning community, what's happening in our local schools and in higher education.

The framework for much of the climate change work in New Hampshire is Gov. John H. Lynch's Climate Action plan. The Climate Action Plan was initiated in December of 2007 after Gov. Lynch issued an executive order. A 29-member task force was created representing a diverse group of business leaders, energy leaders and representatives from utility companies to develop the plan whose mission is to: "Reduce the cost of energy to our businesses and citizens. Promote the growth of new jobs in energy services, the building trades, and renewable energy. To encourage the growth of our communities in a way that retains our rural character and quality of life."

As you see, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Look for our next series on the carbon challenge right here in Mt. Washington Valley in our November 26 issue.

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