On May 23, Green Newton hosted the Students for a Green World (SGW) student presentation and the GN 2016 Environmental Leadership Awards. The Environmental Leadership Awards recognize the contributions of members of the community who have contributed significantly to environmental efforts in and around Newton. Below are this year’s recipients:
Jenny Horsburgh— GN Youth Award
Jenny is a Newton North High School student, who is a remarkable activist both for the environment and social justice.
Jenny has been a member of her school’s Envirothon winning team for 3 years, and she created and leads a political club for students to discuss current affairs, social justice and environmental issues. In addition to joining Students for a Greener World, she and fellow student, Ava Waitz, are organizing a teach-in on climate change in Newton’s elementary schools.
Jenny is participating as part of a student team in a national competition called “Technovation;” focusing on a coding project to create a resource tracking app that will raise awareness of how we use our natural resources (water and potentially electricity/fossil fuels) and encourage us to do better at conserving our resources.
Jenny is a member of 350 Mass Newton, a group that advocates for divestment from fossil fuels, and she belongs to an anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership group to address that agreement’s negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Jenny also serves as the youngest board member of Mass. Peace Action as part of their Climate Working Group. Last summer, she attended a Global Leadership program in Costa Rica that focused on planting crops, recycling and clean water.
Her commitment to advocate for the environment also involves attending many rallies and meetings, in addition to giving speeches and writing articles. Clearly, she is someone who inspires others of all ages to advocate as passionately as she does for environmental protections.
Karen Bray – GN Individual Award
Karen Bray is the founder and leader of Newton Safe and Sound (Newton Citizens for Effective Leaf Blower Regulation). She has been leading this citizen’s group to actively support the Newton City Council’s actions to protect the health of our citizens and our environment with legislation to effectively regulate the use of leaf blowers. She has been working tirelessly to educate Newton residents about the harmful health hazards to children and adults, and the terrible impact on our environment caused by the excessive noise, dust and hazardous exhaust emitted from leaf blowers.
Karen has provided residents and city leaders with well researched and extensive literature documenting the serious consequences from leaf blower use to our health and well-being. She has brought attention to the most efficient alternatives that are available and compiled a list of landscapers who provide excellent services without using leaf blowers.
She has also initiated petitions in support of leaf blower restrictions that have been signed by hundreds of Newton residents, asking our City Councilors to vote in favor of a seasonal ban on leaf blowers. Green Newton endorses leaf blower restrictions and commends Karen Bray for all of her efforts to lead Newton to become a quieter and healthier environment, at very least during the summer season.
Friends of Austin Street – GN Community Group
Friends of Austin Street waged a successful campaign to authorize the development of a parking lot in Newtonville into a sustainable mixed-use development with 68 housing units plus retail businesses. The project will add the kind of housing that Newton desperately needs—moderate-sized, fully accessible units ideal for singles, couples and seniors. Seventeen of the units will be affordable to households earning 130 – 140% of area median incomes.
The Austin Street development is the epitome of smart growth. Many stores are a short walk from the site, as is the commuter rail and three bus routes. The site will further reduce Newton’s carbon footprint by incorporating electric vehicle charging stations, car-sharing spaces and bicycle storage. The building itself will be LEED-certifiable, energy efficient and have solar panels on the roof.
The new residents and stores will add vitality to the village center.
Friends of Austin Street ran an energetic and savvy campaign, overcoming organized and determined opposition. It takes courage to stand up to neighbors on such a heated issue. It’s for that reason, and for the importance of the Austin Street project, that we give Green Newton’s Community Group Award to Friends of Austin Street.
West Suburban YMCA Business Award
This non-profit agency added energy-efficiency elements to it’s original 1911 facility since 1999 when they completely renovated their 28 room, single room occupancy residence for low-income. This important social program is a major contribution to the City. In 2002 a new wing made the building much more efficient with new domestic hot water, pool heating, and pumps with a very energy efficient system.
In 2009 they installed two new high-efficiency duel-fuel boilers replacing 1911 era coal-fired furnaces. The 2011 renovation of the program rooms in the basement replaced the plumbing and electric systems. They outfitted these spaces with motion sensor activated flushing systems and faucets saving water. Hand dryers reduced paper towels.
In 2015 they replaced all the lighting on the property inside and outside with LED bulbs and fixtures. The YMCA now has an average monthly savings of 14,600 Kilowatts or a 16% reduction in energy consumption. At the same time the Y replaced the pool motors and pump systems to a variable drive system. This allows the pool to circulate water at higher or lower speeds as needed. For example, overnight the pumps are automatically able to use less energy. Pool water Ultraviolet treatment reduces chlorine use.