Climate Partners Summit Resources

Climate Partners Summit Resources

On February 25, 2021, over 70 interested partners and citizens joined the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) for a virtual Climate Partners Summit, featuring brief presentation from a variety of organizations working to address the effects of climate change in our community.

Click here for a video recording of this 90 minute event, or look for the “video clip” links in the text below to skip directly to a specific presenter.

UVAW co-chair Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College kicked off the afternoon event with an update on the latest climate science (slides | video clip). Another UVAW member, and host of the Summit, Kevin Geiger from Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, then provided a helpful explanation of what we mean when we talk about “Climate Adaptation” versus “Climate Mitigation” (slides | video clip)

The highlight of the event was a series of presentations from partner organizations, each presenting for roughly four minutes, aided by four slides. Their contact information, along with slides and video clips, are linked below.

Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock (slides | video clip)
Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services (slides | video clip)
Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council (slides | video clip)
Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust (slides | video clip)
Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy (slides | video clip)
Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford (slides | video clip)
Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power (slides | video clip)

Attendees were encouraged to subscribe to the Upper Valley Climate Action discussion list, an email-based service allowing anyone in the Upper Valley to share and discuss opportunities related to local climate action. Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, the host of the Summit, encouraged organizations in attendance to consider joining the workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss and coordinate climate adaptation activities throughout the Upper Valley.

A follow up event will be held at Noon on March 24, 2021. This virtual Climate Connections lunch will feature casual, small group discussions on what we’re all doing to address climate change in the Upper Valley. Following an “Open Space” facilitation format, participants will propose topics at the start of the hour, then break out into small groups to discuss and make connections. This event is free an open to the public. Click here to register.

Jump into Climate Action In Hartford!

In December 2019 the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District adopted the historic Joint Resolution Declaring a Climate Emergency, setting in motion an urgently needed positive first step to addressing climate change at the local level. Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed to put the Resolution into action. Now, the time has come to once again engage the entire community in shaping the future of Hartford for the betterment of all residents.

Volunteers are needed to help the Town of Hartford create a Climate Action Plan. Working with paleBLUEdot, a climate action-planning consultancy, we must gather together to build a plan that ensures that Hartford thrives even as it works to mitigate the impacts of climate change on all and to adapt to the changing climate.

Creative solutions and a wide array of perspectives are essential to our success. Hartford residents, as well as residents of Lebanon, Hanover, Norwich and the surrounding area are all welcome. 

Representatives from local government, public agencies, local colleges/universities, the business community, environmental groups, social equity groups, and the general community are needed.

Eight general working groups are envisioned; individuals with experience or interest in any of these areas are encouraged to identify one or more areas of interest as part of their contribution to the planning team.

✔ transportation and land use

✔ waste management

✔ local food and agriculture

✔ energy and the built environment

✔ health and safety

✔ water, wastewater management, flood control

✔ greenspaces

✔ economic development and the climate economy

 

The Commitment:

Climate Action Team volunteers will participate in four workshops over the course of several months to explore, review, prioritize, and refine elements of the Climate Action Plan. The expected time commitment is in the range of 20-30 hours.

Interested? Contact Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee to sign up for the Climate Action Team.

Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee

Erik Krauss (ekrauss@bluevertex.com)

Ana Mejia (ana@vitalcommunities.org)

Jack Spicer (jacktspicer@gmail.com)

Workshop: Converting Your Bike to an E-Bike

On Monday, November 9, 7 pm, a free Zoom workshop will teach you how to convert a regular bike to an e-bike!

Over summer and fall, the 2020 Upper Valley E-bike Library program gave a lot of Upper Valley residents the opportunity to discover how an electric-assist bike can be part of our regular transportation.

One of the least expensive options for obtaining an e-bike is to convert a regular bike, and here’s an online workshop to show us how!

Monday, 11/9, 7 pm

888 475 4499 US Toll-free   877 853 5257 US Toll-free    Meeting ID: 883 6192 9021

The workshop will feature a video of an actual conversion with lots of direct Q/A as we view it. A panel of experienced e-bike converters will share what they’ve learned from their trials and errors, insights on various makes and models of motors and batteries, and recommendations on the right materials and tools to have on hand before you dive in.

This workshop is organized by the Norwich Energy Committee, with funding from the Norwich Women’s Club and technical support from CATV.

Questions? Contact linda.c.gray@gmail.com.

Weatherize Webinar, August 17

Weatherize Webinar with NHSaves
Monday, August 17 at Noon

Did Covid-19 stop your 2020 weatherization plans in their tracks? NOW is the right time to jump back on the weatherize band wagon. Lower energy bills and cozy toes, here we come! This event is FREE and open to all New Hampshire residents. Join our guest speaker, Gordon Tuttle from NHSaves to learn about:

  • Home energy efficiency basics
  • How weatherization can keep you warmer in winter AND cooler in summer
  • Rebates and financing from NHSaves (including INCREASED* rebates for a limited time only)
  • How NHSaves contractors have adapted their practices to keep you safe in the era of Covid-19

Click here to REGISTER for the webinar

Attend this LIVE event on Monday, August 17, 12:00 – 1:00pm. Can’t make it then? Register anyway and receive a link to the webinar recording so you can watch on your own time. Questions? Contact energy@vitalcommunities.org.

*The maximum rebate amount for weatherization through NHSaves was recently increased from $4,000 to $8,000, covering 50% of approved measures. This summer, Eversource and New Hampshire Electric Coop customers were temporarily eligible for 90% of project costs up to $8,000 for projects completed by Nov. 15, 2020. As of mid-August, NHSaves reports that any NEW customers will likely not be able to meet the deadline for that 90% rebate offer, since their contractors’ installation schedules are now filled through the fall. Customers are still encouraged to enroll in the program to receive the 50% rebate on weatherization services completed this year or next. For more information about NHSaves weatherization rebates, visit nhsaves.com/programs/energy-audits-weatherization/.

This webinar is hosted by Vital Communities, Kearsarge Climate Action, Sustainable Hanover, and the Cornish and Plainfield Energy Committees.

Newly Increased Rebates for Home Weatherization

Newly Increased Rebates for Home Weatherization

Now’s the best time to think about weatherizing your home as both New Hampshire and Vermont state weatherization programs have announced a temporary increase to weatherization rebates.  NH Saves rebates have increased to 90%, funding up to $8,000 per household, for projects completed before November 15 — compared to previous caps of 50% and $4,000.  Efficiency VT rebates have increased to 75%, up to $5,5000 per household, for projects enrolled by August 31 — compared to 50% and $4,000 previously. In addition, Efficiency VT will make the first six months of payments (up to $900) on Home Energy Loan for anyone who applies before October 31.

Not sure where to start? Here are some useful Vital Communities “cheat sheets” that take you through the process. Note that these documents still quotes old, lower rebate percentages and caps, and that to access some of the links, you will need to paste the URLs into your web browser rather than just clicking on them.

New Hampshire residents: NHSaves Rebate Guide

Vermont residents: Home Performance with Energy Star/Efficiency Vermont

Making Solar Energy Accessible for All

Making Solar Energy Accessible for All

The best-kept secret about solar energy is how affordable it can be. Thanks to changes in the market and technology as well as rebates and other financial assistance, people at any income level can reap free power from the sun that pays back its investment and is kinder to the environment.

Want to know more? On Saturday, July 18, from 10 to 11 am, Sustainable Woodstock and Vital Communities will host an informational meeting on Zoom about creating affordable solar opportunities for all Upper Valley residents, including those with low to moderate incomes. Norwich Solar Technologies, Twin Pines Housing Trust, and Norman Sun LLC will be leading a discussion about how private individuals and companies can collaborate with the nonprofit sector to develop solar energy designed for low- to moderate-income households. 

We will explore how partnerships between the private and public sectors can help income-sensitive Upper Valley residents add solar energy to their homes. We will also explain how these same benefits can apply to nonprofits, municipalities, and other entities without a tax burden! Case studies will highlight how this has been done in Vermont, but the model can work in New Hampshire as well. 

This event is ideal for: non-profit managers, representatives of financial institutions, city/town planners & planning board members, local energy committee members, select board members, town managers, city mayors, regional planning commission staff, regulators, legislators, solar developers, and any resident interested in affordable solar! 

Register for the meeting through Eventbrite, and you’ll receive Zoom instructions by email.

 

Vital Communities on NHPR’s “The Exchange”

GoingLocal_1Did you catch us recently on New Hampshire Public Radio’s weekday call-in show “The Exchange“? Their ‘Going Local‘ series explores the different regions of the state, and in early August they focused on the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region (the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley!).

Vital Communities was honored to have Energy Program Manager Sarah Brock join as a panelist, along with Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin, Lebanon Planning and Zoning Director David Brooks, and Valley News Reporter Tim Camerato. They talked about everything from traffic congestion on Route 120 to a bi-state parade from Orford to Fairlee—give it a listen!

Green Real Estate Network Kick Off

​Working together to empower home buyers and sellers throughout the Upper Valley to understand home energy costs and invest in energy efficiency.

Over 50 real estate professionals from across the Upper Valley gathered on January 9 to kick off the new Upper Valley Green Real Estate Network, a project of Vital Communities. Participants include Realtors, lenders, home inspectors, appraisers, real estate lawyers, and home energy professionals.

Five Reasons Buyers Care about Energy

  1. The Upper Valley is home to some of the oldest housing stock in  the nation
  2. Energy is often the second highest cost of home ownership (behind mortgage/taxes/insurance)
  3. $7-12k of air sealing and insulation can reduce energy costs by 15-30% andimprove home comfort
  4. Rebates and special financing programs exist to help residents pay for energy improvements
  5. Cost effective energy efficiency improvements are possible in almost any home

Why Time of Sale?

Energy efficiency upgrades deliver cash savings and home comfort from month one. Waiting to weatherize means leaving cash on the table. Buyers can use the transaction process to gather necessary information for efficiency improvements. For example:

  • Past heating fuel use data needed to qualify for rebate programs
  • Confidence that cost effective energy improvements are possible
  • Ability to secure financing for energy improvements alongside a mortgage

Vital Communities and our partners believe we can do more to promote “Green Real Estate” in the Upper Valley by working together than we can by working in isolation. Stay tuned for more from this inspiring group of local real estate leaders!

Big News: SERG Joins Vital Communities

Big news from the Vital Communities Energy Program:
Sustainable Energy Resource Group (SERG) is merging into Vital Communities.

The Sustainable Energy Resounce Group (SERG) is an Upper Valley nonprofit with a strong legacy of local energy action in the Upper Valley. Since its founding in 2002, SERG has pioneered many innovative local energy projects that have since been replicated throughout the Northeast.

After 14 years as an independent nonprofit organization, we are thrilled to announce that SERG has decided to combine forces with Vital Communities’ growing Energy Program. Vital Communities and SERG have been close allies since Vital Communities first began work on energy issues in 2009, collaborating on many projects and working together to support our region’s expanding network of town energy committees. In combining our two programs we are confident we can accomplish more together than we ever could on our own.

Just a few highlight’s from the long list of SERG accomplishments over the past 14 years:

  • Established the first town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire in 2002 (there are now more than 200 across both states)
  • Inspired and helped develop the “Button Up” weatherization workshop series that has been presented dozens of times throughout the Upper Valley
  • Led an effort that tripled the number of weatherized homes in Thetford in one year, and helped launch a Vermont Home Energy Challenge to get other towns to do the same
  • Created an online resource library and e-newsletter to help residents in the Upper Valley improve their energy footprints
  • Organized and hosted dozens of public forums on everything from solar hot water to electric vehicles

In the coming year, SERG Founder and Executive Director Bob Walker will work directly with Vital Communities as a consultant and mentor to ensure a strong transition.

We’re seeking partners and supporters in this exciting transition – make a gift today to support Vital Communities in carrying forward SERG’s legacy of inspiring sustainable energy action in the Upper Valley.

The move will be official as of January 1, and we’re planning a big old party in February to celebrate SERG’s accomplishments and kick off our exciting new work together. Stay tuned!

Have questions, comments, or well wishes? Email Sarah@VitalCommunities.org.