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Finally! A Sign of Spring as Brookline Gets Greener

Volunteers canvassing the town this month to spread word about programs for homeowners.

If your doorbell rings this spring, it might be a Brookline neighbor who is there to help you to reduce your carbon footprint. Climate Change Action Brookline (CCAB) is organizing 60 volunteers to knock on 1,500 doors at the end of March and beginning of April to get the word out about two programs that could potentially reduce your household’s carbon footprint and save money on energy costs too.

Paul Harris is the co-chair of CCAB with Susan Martin and is leading the effort. Paul’s view of climate change is broad as is his view of the solutions. He imagines Brookline in 2050: the use of clean energies, community gardens, the improved health of residents, green spaces, kids walking to school, adults walking to work and to shop. Talking with Paul has a galvanizing effect; you begin to imagine creating a simpler life for yourself and find yourself paying more attention to how you live. Perhaps this is because as Albert Schweitzer once said, “example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” Paul walks the walk. While he worked in downtown Boston for 25 years, Paul commuted by foot every day to and from his home in Brookline. He calculates that this commute all tallied allowed him to walk 30,000 miles. While walking, Paul spent time thinking. (Walking not only enables the walker to think, a recent study found it improves memory too.) He became convinced that in order for coming generations to thrive, “business as usual” was not going to work. In 2007, his household’s carbon footprint was 26,000 pounds a year, lower than the average American household which is 55,000 pounds a year and equal to the average German household. He wanted to cut down further and did so by joining an eco team, switching to wind power with NSTAR Green, and becoming a vegetarian. These changes cut his footprint to 16,000 pounds of carbon a year, the average for a Swedish household and left him feeling healthier, happier and more positive about the future.

The two programs endorsed by CCAB are Green Homes Brookline and NSTAR Green. Green Homes Brookline might be right for you if you are losing money on your utility bills and would like to receive a no cost energy assessment and up to $3,500 worth of upgrades. Forty one percent of home energy usage goes for living space heating, which can be reduced by about 26 percent through a combination of insulation and air sealing. This step will reduce CO2 output from home energy use by about 11 percent. NSTAR Green allows you to receive your electricity from a wind farm rather than conventional sources that burn coal, oil and natural gas. Signing up for NSTAR Green reduces home CO2 output by about 39 percent. NSTAR Green is more expensive but some of the increased cost can be reduced by conservation.

For more information on calculating your household’s carbon footprint, joining an eco team or learning more about Green Homes Brookline and NSTAR Green, go to the CCAB website: www.climatechangeactionbrookline.org. While you are there, you can check out upcoming CCAB meetings and find other ways to be involved in moving Brookline into a green future.

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