By Chris Webber, Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee
The 47th annual Earth Day celebration, which has grown from a United States tradition to one shared by countries around the world, was held on April 22.
The idea for Earth Day was born out of the counterculture environment of the 1970’s, a time of protest and opposition to many established norms in the United States. Growing environmental unease backed by literature like the 1962 book Silent Spring and the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara served as the catalyst for the first Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded a bipartisan effort to create events raising awareness across the country. Over 20 million Americans turned out that day, which began a significant shift in environmental policy. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed before the end of the year and the passage of several major laws–including the Clean Air, Safe Drinking Water, Environmental Quality Improvement, and Endangered Species Acts–soon followed.
Earth Day expanded as a day of global awareness in 1990, with over 200 million people from 141 countries participating in events around the world. The event was followed by the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, which sought to address global environmental issues like increasing water use and climate change. More recently, Earth Day 2016 marked the signing of the Paris Agreement as a worldwide effort to combat climate change.
Even as Earth Day seeks to promote global awareness through monumental events, the initial 1970’s grass roots mission to care for the environment in one’s local community continues.
Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound taken by Erika Klinkhammer
In addition to the contest, several Pare employees participated in a local cleanup organized by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers Young Members Group (RI ASCE YM). They participated in the 5th Annual Providence Earth Day Spring Cleaning event sponsored by the City of Providence, Providence Parks Department, and the Partnership for Providence Parks. For the cleanup they were partnered with the West Broadway Neighborhood Association to help with the 33rd Annual Neighborhood Spring Cleanup. More than 100 people came out to clean and improve this metropolitan neighborhood resulting in the pickup of 400 bags of trash, 300 bags of yard waste to be composted, more than a dozen mattresses, and several large items such as televisions and tires. Despite the cold and rainy weather, Pare engineers Bobby Sykes, Jessica Damicis, and Marc Weller were cheerfully picking up trash, spreading new mulch in the play area, and helping to construct a brand new bocce court at the Dexter Training Ground Park.
Bobby Sykes who coordinated Pare’s involvement in the day stated, “I’m grateful to have participated in the earth day cleanup and to have had the opportunity to work with friends from engineering firms throughout Rhode Island. Pare has always had tremendous participation at our ASCE events, and I’m thankful I work for a company with so many like-minded individuals willing to donate a Saturday to give back to a local community.”
As April 22, 2018 approaches, there are many ways to participate in Earth Day activities; learn more at http://www.earthday.org/take-action/. While the day is a fantastic way to stay environmentally conscious, simple efforts like recycling and composting at home and other small activities are great ways to reduce our environmental footprint throughout the year. Every day is an opportunity to be a better steward of Planet Earth. Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Earth Day events; we’ll look forward to seeing you again next year!
The focus for Earth Day this year is Environmental and Climate Literacy so that we can build a “global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our Planet.” (Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network) Following that mandate, parties across the globe joined together to respond to global climate change and global warming at the Paris Agreement. Learn more at http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climatechange/
In that spirit, the Sustainability Committee at Pare is pleased to share our 6th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest. The theme of the contest this year is “Be Green Outside!”
Please enjoy the photos submitted by Pare’s staff below, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2017 Earth Day Photo Contest will receive a Gift Card to B-Good and their photo framed in the office. Voting will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 7.
1. Handmade Water Quality
To treat runoff from the driveway, deck, and concrete walkway at our newly acquired home, we installed – by hand – water quality trenches with filter fabric. Our project also alleviated areas of standing water. The pipe system connected to an overflow discharge point after storing and treating a certain volume of runoff. We then capped off the project by raising the elevation about 18” with clean loam and new sod!
2. Franconia Ridge Vegetation Preservation
On the crest of Franconia Ridge in Lincoln New Hampshire, 5,260 feet up above sea level, a low rock path helps hikers protect the groundcover ridgetop vegetation.
3. British Columbia Roadtrip
This was from a road trip with my family up in British Columbia, an outdoor expedition into Alaska that definitely helped me appreciate being green outside.
4. 26.2 Emission Free Miles
You see stuff when you run. Stuff you don’t see when you drive. Little ponds. Nondescript trail heads. Wildlife. Unfortunately, you also see lots of trash, debris, roadkill. Running can give you a unique perspective on the environment and how we impact it.
5. An Early Appreciation of the Great Outdoors
To our family, “being green outside” typically means going for hikes and learning about nature. We came across this tree during a short hike in Scituate, RI. It was a great opportunity to discuss local wildlife and the role that specific animals, in this case beavers, have in the environment.
6. My Home Office
Wake. Skate. Work at Pare. Sleep. Repeat.
7. Mattapoisett Waterfront
Water front view of the Mattapoisett Marina that leads into Buzzards Bay. The sun is shining and the boating season is underway.
8. ‘It’s not easy being green’
A little green in an unexpected place. Almost 10 feet below grade in a dark catch basin this little guy found just enough sunlight to make it happen!
9. Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound
Taken on the first cruise of the season in the Clam Ram, a mighty Boston Whaler coming out of hibernation. A nice day to test the electronics and run the engine, then sit in a protective harbor with a Sierra Nevada and a beautiful sunset. Beauty in nature at its finest.
10. The Dry Tortugas
The Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, FL and is home to the largest stone-masonry fort in United States. Over 300 species of birds, 5 species of sea turtles, 30 different species of coral, and several hundred species of fish are protected within the waters and islands that make up the national park.
11. Below the Tower
Stissing Fire Tower stretches 7 flights into the air above the Nature Conservancy and hiking trails in Pine Plains, NY. Formerly for use to spot forest fires, the tower is now a viewing spot for appreciation of the area’s natural resources.
12. Winds of Change
Engineers can be the stewards of a healthy planet through the implementation of clean, green, renewable energy. Rhode Island has begun paving the way with the construction of America’s first offshore wind farm.
13. Chasm Lake
Chasm Lake, Rocky National Park, CO
14. Hiking Activist
Enjoying Mass Audubon’s Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary while promoting recycling on Earth Day weekend.
15. Cliffs of Prince Edward Island
Ever since I was a young girl, I have been in awe of the impact that water can have on a shoreline after watching the waves wash away a house following a hurricane on the Outer Banks. This picture was taken in this fall on Prince Edward Island where the magnitude and simple beauty of the erosion took my breath away.
16. Kayaking on the Colorado River
The Colorado River system is a vital source of water for 40 million people in southwestern North America. The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow for agricultural irrigation and domestic water supply. The Colorado’s large flow and steep gradient are used for generating hydroelectric power, and its major dams regulate peaking power demands in much of the Intermountain West. Intensive water consumption has dried up the lower 100 miles (160 km) of the river, which has rarely reached the sea since the 1960s. The river (pictured outside Austin, TX) is also a great recreational resource. It offers visitors and city-dwellers a picturesque escape from city life and an opportunity to “be green outside”.
17. “Cueva Ventana”
An hour west of San Juan, Cueva Ventana, or “Window Cave,” can be found. The lush valley below maintains its natural beauty as the rural area is situated away from urban Puerto Rico.
Water cascading from the 317-foot Vernal Falls at Yosemite National Park. Except for the thundering water, quiet as a church, not a conversation to be heard. Everyone enveloped in and reflecting on the natural beauty. To Be Green Outside is to be in the moment.
Vote for your favorite photo that best represents our theme of “Be Green Outside!”
1. Handmade Water Quality
2. Franconia Ridge Vegetation Preservation
3. British Columbia Roadtrip
4. 26.2 Emission Free Miles
5. An Early Appreciation of the Great Outdoors
6. My Home Office
7. Mattapoisett Waterfront
8. Its Not Easy Being Green
9. Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound
“E-waste” (as electronic waste—anything with a battery or a cord—is frequently called) is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. It is quickly filling our landfills and it has the potential to do significantly more harm than household trash.
The average lifespan of computers dropped from six years in 1997 to just two years by 2005, and cell phones have a life cycle of less than two years in developed countries.
The United States discarded more than 11 million tons of e-waste in 2014 (the data for 2015 and 2016 hasn’t been released yet) but only approximately 20-25% of that waste is recycled each year.
For every million cell phones we recycle, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
Recycling one million laptops saves as much energy as the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
Electronics Recycling Drive
By: Cari Orsi, P.E., LEED AP on behalf of Pare’s Sustainability Committee
The Pare Sustainability Committee is sensitive to the environment and understands the need for reduction in landfill waste, so in March we organized an Electronics Recycling Drive for Pare employees. Through partnership with Northeast Computer Recycling (NECR, http://www.northeastcomputerrecycling.com/), we were able to recycle broken and obsolete electronics rather than putting them in mainstream waste channels. This year over 40 electronic items were collected including computer towers, monitors, printers, cell phones and various chargers. Thanks to everyone at Pare who supported this green initiative!
Electronics collected at the Pare Foxboro Office to be recycled
Electronics collected at the Pare Lincoln Office to be recycled
Ryan Lagace, owner and operator of NECR, explained that he was motivated to open NECR after witnessing companies throwing away a lot of old equipment when he worked in the IT industry. He had a vision to dismantle and recycle these items. Ryan explained, “100% of the material we take in is recycled, including plastics and metals. Everything is sorted out. I even found a local company to recycle polystyrene, and I get a lot of that from packaging.” NECR is staying busy with multiple pickups daily from businesses in MA and RI. Ryan’s advice about electronics recycling when asked was, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle still rings true, but we don’t just recycle here. I try to re-sell equipment when I can so items have a second life instead of getting dismantled.”
In addition to diverting waste from landfills, there are two important reasons for recycling electronics. First, materials that make up electronics are valuable resources (metals, plastics and glass), all of which require energy to obtain and produce for electronics. Second, electronics contain many different toxic materials including lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. These items cause more potential harm to the environment than your typical household trash. Left sitting in landfills, these materials may leach into the soils and potentially into groundwater.
Everyone can help to reduce electronic waste; here are a few things to consider before making a purchase:
Do you really need that new electronic device?
Can you repair or upgrade components on the one you have?
If your old electronic items are still working, consider re-selling them or donating them instead of throwing them out or recycling them.
Here are a few additional things you can do to reduce waste:
Purchase items with rechargeable batteries.
Look to purchase items from companies with “take back” programs.
Look into refurbished electronics (save money and the earth).
By Allen R. Orsi, P.E. Managing Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials
It is a wonderful feeling when a vision comes to fruition, especially when it has taken years for the project to be completed. The removal of the Old Mill Dam in Bellingham, Massachusetts is a good example of what can be accomplished through strong project partnerships. Pare Corporation and the Town of Bellingham began conversations in 2008 about the future of the Old Mill Dam, which was found to be in poor structural condition. At the time, the dam was classified as a ‘significant hazard potential dam’ by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MADCR) Office of Dam Safety.
Upon completion of several studies and evaluation of the benefits of dam removal versus rehabilitation, it was decided that removing the obsolete dam would increase public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and improve the ecosystem along the river.
Pare worked very closely with the Town to prepare a grant application for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program to secure funding for the majority of the design and permitting of the project, as well as a no-interest loan to offset the cost of construction.
Pare also worked with the Town to apply for and receive priority project status through the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Once funding was secured, Pare coordinated with DER to obtain environmental permits and draft dam removal plans that would minimize the impact of deconstruction on the environment.
For the project to be completed, Old Mill Pond was incrementally drained through partial demolition of the concrete spillway to allow for dam removal activity to be completed in a dewatered area. Roughly 2,300 cubic yards of mercury-impacted sediment were removed from the pond and permanently disposed of onsite within a special containment berm constructed beyond the level of the post-dam removal 100-yr floodplain. This approach saved significant costs to the Town associated with offsite disposal of the impacted sediment. It also effectively removed 15 pounds of mercury from the riverine habitat.
Last week, temporary construction facilities were removed, allowing for the unrestricted flow of the river through this location for the first time in more than 150 years. Fish and other aquatic life are now able to move freely along this section of the Charles River and its tributaries, which will help restore a more robust ecosystem.
As this is the first dam that has been removed along the main stem of the Charles River, the Charles River Watershed Association hopes that the project will encourage other communities to consider dam removal and environmental restoration projects along the river.
The results from the Pare Climate Change Survey are in!
Pare’s Climate Change Committee would like to thank all who participated in our survey. We appreciate your thoughtful responses, and have explored answer patterns and concerns below.
Climate change is a very important topic with many differing opinions about causes, implications, and even its existence. However, it’s been established that in order to combat climate change, it will require a broad consensus, and this survey did a great job of establishing how close to that consensus we currently are.
Among survey participants, there is a consensus that climate change is happening and that it is concerning. It wasn’t surprising (based on the title of the survey) that a majority of respondents believe climate change is occurring. Approximately 95% of the respondents believe climate change is occurring, 3% do not believe it is occurring. 2% did not express an opinion. The aspect of climate change participants find most concerning is storm frequency and/or intensity (33%) followed by sea level rise (23%) and ecological changes (20%).
As far as whether or not we can reduce climate change, there is a split consensus. Approximately 42% of respondents believe that we are able to reduce the effects of climate change. However the majority of participants (about 50), believe we can’t or won’t do anything to change the effects. Approximately half of the respondents who believe we can reduce climate change also believe we will make changes to reduce the effects.
Who should be responsible for mandating changes that may reduce climate change? One third of respondents believe that the Federal Government should be implementing regulations.
Contest winner Ann Cote at Bryant University provided us with an optimistic view of the future (albeit with a major caveat): “Only once society is educated on the topic and the seriousness of it, will ideas come forward and the passion to correct the issue surface.”
Thanks to your participation, Pare’s engineers are now even more equipped to assist in providing clarity and recommendations to the state of the consensus among those associated with or working in the fields of architecture, engineering, and construction.
Eleven Pare engineers and one environmental scientist (AKA the #PareTimeRunners) took off on a 192-mile relay race that stretched from Hull, MA to Provincetown, MA. They started at the Foxboro office in two vans…
L to R: Chris Webber, Keith Black, Sarah Antolick, Victoria Howland, Matt Alford, Lauren Gluck
L to R: Tim Thomson, Tim Thies, Andrew Chagnon, Lindsey Machamer, Danielle Goudreau, Keith MacDonald
The #PareTimeRunners ran all through the night.
Keith Black passing the baton to Tim Thies
The struggle was real.
However there was light at the end of the tunnel!
For the most part…
They saw the sights.
They even got some work done! #PareTimeRunners #FullTimeEngineers
They finally made it!
Congratulations to the #PareTimeRunners on their 192-mile weekend. To view even more photos and tweets from the #PareTimeRunners, head on over to the @Pare_Corp Twitter page. If you’re interested in running a 200-mile relay race this summer, check out the Ragnar Relay website.
As a non-engineer/scientist, there is a lot of unfamiliar language I’ve come across since my introduction to the A/E/C industry in May 2014. For example, there is an entire division at Pare Corporation dedicated to geotechnical engineering – a term I’d never heard before I visited the company website. In order to be a successful marketing contributor, I try to notice which words come across my desk or within office earshot most often, and I ask a lot of questions. In 2015, I began to notice the term “GIS” more and more often, and so I realized it was time for me to investigate what GIS means and why its mention is on the rise.
In December 2014, Pare hired Sarah Pierce, a recent graduate of Westfield State, to join our Environmental Science group. In June of this year, Sarah was promoted to a full-time GIS Specialist and Environmental Scientist, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind giving me a quick tutorial—a “GIS for Dummies,” if you will.
Wikipedia weighs in
Before meeting with Sarah, I made sure to check what GIS stood for, seeing as that was my first question, and nowadays one is expected to “Wikipedia” the basics. I learned GIS stands for “Geographic Information System.” Well that was a relief! At least I was familiar with the three words that comprise the acronym. I’m not always so lucky. I perused the resources Sarah provided me before the interview to develop a basic understanding, and I noticed that GIS is not exclusive to the A/E/C industry. Excited to share something in common with GIS already, I prepared my questions.
I sat with Sarah, and asked for the less technical explanation of how GIS is used in our industry. Sarah explained that “GIS allows you to view data as a geographic representation.” For example, before GIS, location and project data was entered and viewed in list form, using software such as Microsoft Excel, and then data was applied to a map in a two-part process. GIS has made it a one-step process, which Sarah credited as one of GIS’s biggest benefits, “GIS has cut fieldwork time in half.”
A Growing Technology
Now that I understood a little bit more about what GIS actually accomplishes, I was interested in learning why it is a growing technology. According to my Googling, GIS has been around since the 1960’s. GIS consists of an electronic display map, where the information you upload is associated with the corresponding geographic coordinates. When I asked how the growth spurt in GIS usage started, Sarah showed me the computer tablet she uses. While GIS has always been a helpful tool, prior to the development of portable computer tablets, GIS was restricted to desktop computers…which obviously aren’t as compatible with working in the field. The tablet has enabled engineers and scientists to enter and review data, whether they are in the office or knee deep in swamp land. Software companies likeEsrihave increased the mobility of GIS and the reasons for using it through tablet apps, such as Collector, which syncs information with ArcMap Online, the GIS software used on desktops.
A Pare project illustrating the visual components of data mapping.
I asked Sarah about Pare’s specific GIS expansion and which projects have benefitted the most from GIS technology. Currently it is used most often in feasibility studies, setback (a term commonly used in floodplain management) maps, and asset management in hydraulic modeling. However, Sarah hopes to utilize even more opportunities, and has developed a plan to do so. Sarah will be holding Lunch & Learns open to all staff. By providing the newest developments in GIS information and resources to staff members, our engineers will find new ways to integrate GIS into their projects. When I asked for an example of an area where GIS isn’t being used but should be, Sarah mentioned that it can be used as an alternative to computer aided drafting (CAD) in some cases. She hopes that Lunch and Learns will spark ideas among staff members and ultimately alleviate the workload of our very busy CAD department.
A Pare project that used GIS to map components of a Town’s water system.
As a recent graduate, Sarah hopes to stay ahead of the ever-evolving GIS technology and remain at the forefront of the field. GIS software is updated on a yearly basis, so this will be no easy feat, but she looks forward to making GIS her professional priority. Since I learned a bit about GIS, Sarah also shared her ideas of how the Marketing department may be able to benefit from data visualization in proposal making and through our web presence. I am looking forward to working together and exercising my newfound understanding of yet another really cool engineering tool. For more information on GIS, its capabilities, and how you can apply it to your work, visit the GIS resource website that one of Sarah’s college professors created.
Usually bats fly under the radar (no pun intended). However, the Northern Long-Eared Bat was recently listed as a threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service due to a quick-spreading fungal disease, White Nose Syndrome. Discovered in 2007, the disease has caused unprecedented mortality of the Northern Long Eared Bat across the United States and Canada.
Myotis septentrionalis, northern myotis (Vespertilionidae) showing signs of White Nose Syndrome (WNS). LaSalle County, Illinois. January 2013 Photo credit: University of Illinois/Steve Taylor
Bats play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations, so protection of a threatened species is understandable and justified. But our clients and colleagues should recognize that this recent threatened species listing could affect their construction and development projects. This listing is of particular concern for projects where federal funding or permitting is required. Schedules may also be impacted, as the removal of one acre or more of trees from a development site will be prohibited during the months of June and July. While this species of bats reside in caves throughout the winter, they move their habitat to trees during the summer months. Because the Northern Long Eared Bat will live in any tree species, projects that involve tree removal may be an obstacle for permitting.
For project specific questions and more information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s webpage about the Northern Long-Eared Bat and the consequent regulations here.
Thanks to Lauren Hastings, Senior Environmental Scientist at Pare for bringing this issue to Pare’s attention!
Whether you’re a Rhode Island native or looking to learn a bit more about the Ocean State, you won’t want to miss Save The Bay’s newest exhibit, Big Fish of The Bay, which will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday, June 25 at 10 AM. The interactive exhibit will include over 140 species from Narragansett Bay, and its new 1,500-gallon tank will feature some of Narragansett Bay’s largest fish. The exhibit, located in Newport, RI, is free to Save The Bay members, and only $8 for non-members ages 4 and up.
As a company headquartered in Rhode Island, Pare is proud to contribute to a variety of projects that support Save The Bay’s mission. From designing systems which eliminate harmful pathogens and polluted stormwater from entering Narragansett Bay, to design of the energy-efficient Beach Pump Station Replacement, which serves the Exploration Center & Aquarium in Newport (where the exhibit is located), we are eager to promote an organization that is dedicated to protecting and improving the Ocean State’s 400 miles of coastline. For more information about the Big Fish of The Bay exhibit, please visit the event webpage. Hope to see you there!
It’s that time of year! Photo entries for Pare’s 5th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest are posted below.
This year, Earth Day’s challenge is to: Take a stand, so that together we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. Our world leaders will follow. The request to redefine what progress looks like prompted our photo contest challenge. Pare staff was invited to submit photos with a short description that demonstrate what progress means to them; how we are leading; and how we can do better.
Please enjoy the following photos, submitted by Pare’s staff, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2015 Earth Day Photo Contest will win a $25 Gift Certificate to Brigg’s Garden & Home. Voting will close Tuesday, April 28th.
1. “Synthetic Turf Field, Marshfield”
Is this just a field…???….
This is the reduction of runoff
This is promoting infiltration of stormwater
This is the elimination of the application of pesticides, nutrients, and herbicides
This is the elimination of geese waste
This is stabilization of exposed soil from overuse, which is susceptible to erosion due to wind and runoff
This is a facility that can handle three times the use as the one it replaced, eliminating the need for development elsewhere
Is this just a field…???….
This is progress.
2. “Back to Nature”
The Bartlet Pond Dam, originally constructed in 1814, was a barrier to the natural ecology of the Wekepeke Brook for nearly 200 years. During that time, the presence of the dam resulted in increased water temperatures, lower Dissolved Oxygen, disconnected environments, and other environmental detriments. In 2014, the dam was removed, restoring the area to a natural stream channel and allowing for the natural healing of the ecosystem to begin, which will benefit both the Wekepeke as well as the Nashua River, located shortly downstream. In recognition of this achievement, state and local officials gathered to celebrate the project and other environmental initiatives being supported financially through programs being offered by EOEEA. Attendance at the event demonstrated the state’s commitment and progress in restoring our natural environment; the new growth embodies the power of nature to overcome man’s interference in the cycle of nature.
3. “Save the Bay Swim”
Earth Day is always a timely reminder about our need to be good stewards to Mother Earth – we only get to enjoy her for a short time (relatively speaking) before making way for the next generations. And where we can, it’s gratifying to see us turn back the clock and create a cleaner and healthier planet than the one that existed when we were born. Narragansett Bay is a good example of this, where the work of the Narragansett Bay Commission and non-profit organizations like Save the Bay have resulted in dramatically cleaner, healthier water. Considering the amount of bay water I swallowed during last summer’s Save the Bay Swim from Newport to Jamestown, I am personally thankful for the efforts of so many good stewards!
During a recent visit to the University of Vermont, I was shown a former students Master’s degree project: the “Eco-Machine”, which is essentially a small wastewater treatment facility containing aquatic life that collects and treats all of the wastewater in a large building located on campus. The buildings wastewater is collected and treated by the Eco-Machine through six primary steps: primary settling, closed aerobic reactors, nutrient uptake through open aquatic vessels, wetlands, bio particulate filtration, and UV disinfection. While the finished water is not intended for drinking, it is reused as all the water for flushing the toilets in the building. It has been reported that the finished water discharged from the Eco-Machine is cleaner than the outflow from Burlington’s sewage treatment plant that discharges into Lake Champlain. The Eco-Machine is an excellent example of redefining what progress looks like – environmentally sustainable, cost effective wastewater treatment system alternatives that provide similar or better treatment efficiency compared to multi-million dollar facilities that consume enormous amounts of energy.
5. “Tread Lightly”
The tiny Woodland Jumping Mouse can propel itself up to 6 feet in one leap! While these elusive little critters live throughout the northeast, it is rare to ever see one as they silently hop through pine forests, feeding on fungi and insects.
With today’s fast paced lifestyle full of digital distractions, it is more important than ever to lead our children to connect with the natural world. Fostering an appreciation for the diversity, complexity and fragility of our ecosystems will help shape the next generation to live consciously and tread lightly.
6. “S-s-s-s-s-s-s-springtime buddies”
Our leaders are like the tail of a snake, they don’t always point in the direction of the head, but give them time and they will arrive at the same place. If we show our leaders the way, they may not look like they’re going to in the right direction, but they will eventually get there.
We lead by example. By following square foot gardening techniques, a relatively small area with not a lot of effort can produce a surprisingly bountiful crop of fresh vegetables. This garden is ready for a spring preparation and can also be a welcome visual addition to the rural scenery.
8. “Koi Pond”
A backyard koi pond brings nature to the city. The sound of the water filters out the noise pollution of the busy city and provides a relaxing outdoor recreational space.
9. “Living Machine”
Pictured above is the modern day wastewater treatment plant: the Living Machine. Wastewater is treated through a series of 7 steps (settling, equalization, anoxic tanks, constructed wetlands, aerated lagoons, sand filter, and dispersal field) and without the use of any chemicals. The aerated lagoon phase is pictured in the photo and consists of 4 cells each about 10 feet deep. Wastewater enters the lagoons and is converted to ammonia and other harmless base elements by the plants, fungi, and microorganisms that thrive within the lagoons. Once wastewater passes through the lagoons, it is piped to a sand filter for final particulate removal before being released back into the ground. The Living Machine truly goes back to the basics and treats our “waste” as a precious resource.
10. “Aurora Borealis”
Auroras occur in both hemispheres, and the aurora in the northern hemisphere is called the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The aurora borealis is most often seen during the months of September, October, March, and April.
One myth says that the aurora borealis is telling stories of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.
11. “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?”
Every day, more and more people can say that they do. Today, farmer’s markets are an important part of many of our communities, giving us access to healthy, locally grown food and a way of connecting to the farmers and purveyors that produce it. They have even helped solve the problem of “urban food deserts” that plague many of our largest cities, neighborhoods and other areas where people lack reasonable access to fresh healthy food – something most of us take for granted. More information on urban food deserts from the United States Department of Agriculture can be found here.
12. “Living Green”
We can all lead by example and make living green a part of our lives. These good examples will turn into the average way of living. For example, bringing your own bags to the grocery store was pretty much unheard of when I was a child going to the store with my parents. Today I fairly consistently use my own bags and I see a lot of others doing it too. The other day when I forgot my bags at home and went to check out, my child actually noticed the lack of bags and asked, “where are our bags?”. It has become such a normal activity of shopping that even at a young age children pick up on what we do in our life and will make it a part of their normal activities when they grow up. Something that seems like we need to put so much effort into now will become part of our life’s in the future without effort. Every effort we make to lead now results in change for the future.
13. “Follow us, together we will lead”
It is through our children and the younger generation that we are being shown the importance of environmental stewardship. Respecting the environment and the planet we live on so that it will be possible for future generations to enjoy life and the wonders that our planet has to give is now at the forefront of the conversation. They are the real leaders of the future.