Next Meeting will be Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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Who's on the logo?
The Fearrington Green Scene banner is a collage of postage stamps of some of the intellectual giants who have helped us to understand the natural world: John and William Bartram, John James Audubon, Rachel Carson, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. Click on the banner to see a larger version.
GREEN SCENE MEETING 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Happy New Year 2020 to everyone! May this be a healthy and productive year for us all. The first meeting of this year will be held on January 22nd, one week later than usual to accommodate a one-time scheduling complication. This schedule change was included in the FHA January 2020 newsletter, which was delivered to homes (or online) in mid-December 2019. Subscribers to our monthly newsletter (nine issues per year) were also reminded of this change in a special edition distributed on New Year's Day.
We will soon be sending out the agenda and other information for the meeting via the newsletter. That information will also be posted here in the next several days. Not a subscriber? It's easy to sign up. See the subscription hotlink here on this page.
Come join us. All are welcome.
Saving Chatham County, NC Trees -- Some Background Resources
See this four-PAGE SUMMARY REPORT OF PITTSBORO, NC: LAND COVER CHANGE ANALYSIS AND URBAN TREE CANOPY ASSESSMENT for some data on the tree canopy, which some believe is seriously threatened.
From the introduction section of this report: "The increasing accessibility of tools for local government planners, such as canopy assessments, provides previously unavailable information to determine the effect of a proposed landscape change. Data that describes the existing land cover and how it functions to manage air and water quality and the economic value of those services can now be included in the costs and benefits of any planning process. This can help ensure that the priorities and values of the entire community are addressed."
Also, visit the Haw River Association (HRA) website pages on Chatham Park for suggestions on how members of the community can respond. Scroll down to read "Where are the Trees?"
Promising Initiatives to Offset Global Climate Change Effects
By Maarten Simon Thomas
The United States has been hit by numerous so-called “hundred year” and “five hundred year” storms in the last few years. There have been more devastating forest fires in the last decade than in recorded history. Street flooding in many parts of the nation, particularly on the East Coast has become a weekly event, let alone flooding during extreme weather events. And there does not appear to be an end in sight. Meanwhile, the current administration in Washington D.C. is in denial about global climate change and in fact is on track to stimulate coal production and fracked oil and gas production.
But amid all of this bad news, there is also some hopeful news that can be credited to our local energy watchdog NC WARN. Based on members recommendations, this organization took the initiative to sponsor engineer Bill Powers (see also reference 1 below) to prepare a blueprint for North Carolina, which resulted in this online 2017 report: North Carolina Clean Path 2025: Achieving and Economical Clean Energy Future.
The bottom line of the initiative is that it will save NC billions of dollars that Duke Energy plans to spend to build power plants by rendering these unnecessary, while at the same time creating thousands of jobs and rapidly replacing fossil fuel power with proven clean energy, battery storage, and energy-saving programs.
On November 17th, NC WARN organized a workshop where progress made with the implementation of Clean Path 2025 as well as an update of the report were presented. Here are some of the highlights:
- Action Teams are operating in seven NC counties, including the four Triangle counties Chatham, Orange, Durham and Wake, see reference 3 for Chatham County information. The first three reported what they have already achieved in terms of renewable energy installations on county buildings and stimulating others e.g. including schools.
- Although Duke Energy is dragging its feet and making the inevitable switch to renewable power very cautiously, there are two exceptions. They have a solar with zinc-air battery (the promising latest very storage technology) storage project on the Mount Sterling cell tower in the Great Smoky Mountains, which has been in operation since mid-2017. In Hot Springs, a remote town of 500 people in the Appalachian Mountains, Duke Energy is planning to install 3MW of solar power and 4MWh of lithium battery storage to go online in 2020 that allows the town to isolate from the grid as needed when grid power is unavailable.
- There are numerous examples of successful ventures in other states and other countries. Green Mountain Power, an investor-owned utility (like Duke Energy) in Vermont began offering retail customers 14 kWh battery storage units for $15 per month in 2017. The project at full build-out will consist of 2000 residential units, the output of these batteries will serve as a virtual power plant. GMP saved $500,000 during a July 2018 heat wave by dispatching 500 of these Tesla PowerwallTM batteries as a virtual plant to take care of such peak electric requirements.
- In Minster, Ohio, a community of the size of Fearrington, a solar with battery system was installed. The first phase came online in April 2016 and included a 4.2 MW solar array, a 3MWh battery storage system with 7MW peak output. This covers about 30% of the town’s electrical power requirements. The all-in electricity price with storage is $0.095 per kWh, matching the regular utility rate. The price of electricity will go down further with the second phase of the project. At the same time, the town is working towards installing a microgrid that will allow complete isolation (“islanding”) of the town’s residential users from the regular electricity grid when necessary.
There are many more examples of places where the combination of renewable energy generation and storage are resulting in guaranteed low electrical rates by avoiding investments in power plants, which in many cases are only needed to provide energy peaks during extreme heat or cold. The added advantage of “islanding” is substantial, particularly where the supply of electricity is frequently interrupted due to above ground line damage. Communities that already have all or their lines buried, like Fearrington, are perfect for such a microgrid approach. In fact, one can easily imagine this significantly reduced chance of outages to be a selling point for a developer.
The NC Clean Path 2025 report including an executive summary is referenced below (ref. 6).
What is NC CLEAR PATH 2025? / SPECIFICALLY, NC CLEAN PATH 2025 WILL:
- Reduce power generated by coal- and natural gas-fired plants 57 percent by 2025.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation 100 percent by 2030. All coal-fired plants will be closed and gas-fired plants will be used only for a backup supply.
- Maintain the current growth rate, 1,000 megawatts per year, of large-scale solar in North Carolina, but build it on vacant urban and suburban land, and on brownfields.
- Add 2,000 megawatts of solar power each year at homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings – and back it up with cost-effective battery storage, capitalizing on rapid progress by Tesla and other companies.
- Create financing options for local solar power, battery storage, and efficiency upgrades that allow everyone to benefit without financial burden.
- Accelerate energy-saving programs to reduce electricity usage by 20 percent by 2025.
- Expand demand response programs and energy efficiency upgrades to reduce peak summer cooling and peak winter heating loads 50 percent by 2025.
- Create 16,000 good jobs across the state in the first three years.
- Save billions more in the avoided purchase of coal and natural gas
Short Summary (with hotlinks) of The U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment (October 2018)
Click on the graphic above to open our brief 7-page summary of the key findings from the U.S. Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (The U.S. 4th National Climate Assessment released in late October 2018). This short summary contains hot links to specific sections of the full detailed report.
Short Summary (with hotlinks) of the October 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC/ Poland)
Click on the graphic above to open our brief 6-page summary of the key findings from the October 2018 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC/ Poland). This short summary contains hot links to specific sections of the full detailed report.
[Opinion] The Trump Administration Has Announced an Interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 That Would Give a Free Pass for All Bird Deaths from Industrial Activities.
"We are members of the Fearrington Green Scene, a Village residents' group that encourages our community to be responsible stewards of the environment. We take active steps to reduce consumption of energy, water, and other resources, reuse goods and supplies, and recycle whenever possible.
"We are concerned with your party's focus on de-regulation of environmental safeguards, particularly those affecting migratory birds.
"Since taking office last year, President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration — with your help — has targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including policies aimed at protecting birds.
"To date, the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules.
"The Interior Department issued a legal memorandum ruling that businesses which kill nongame migratory birds during their operations are not in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The opinion is a reversal of the policies of 18 previous administrations that prosecuted industries for killing or failing to safeguard migratory birds in their operations.
"The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is America’s most important bird protection law. Passed in 1918 with the support of early conservationists, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) protects nearly all of our country’s native birds. The law carries out the 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty with Canada, and later treaties signed with Mexico, Japan, and Russia, in order to protect our nation’s shared bird species. The MBTA is credited with saving numerous species from extinction, such as the Snowy Egret, Wood Duck, and Sandhill Crane, and millions, if not billions of other birds.
"Yet, even as we celebrate 100 years of the law in 2018—the Year of the Bird—the MBTA has come under attack. The Trump administration announced an interpretation of the MBTA that would give a free pass for all bird deaths from industrial activities, and similar legislative proposals have been advanced in Congress.
"We urge you to defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Birds cannot vote, but birdwatchers do, and it is a rare person who does not enjoy the presence of birds.
"We look forward to hearing from you on this urgent topic."
Clean Jordan Lake Needs More Management Volunteers
A message from Fran DiGiano
"I founded Clean Jordan Lake (cleanjordanlake.org) in 2009. Our mission is to remove trash from the shoreline and prevent its recurrence. Trash destroys natural habitats, injures wildlife, and degrades both aesthetics and water quality. We've attracted 5,300 volunteers to 285 cleanup events of all types. Over 12,000 bags of trash and 4,000 tires have been removed. Our work must continue because every new rainfall flushes more trash off the vast watershed. With no paid staff and growing community interest in our mission, we need volunteers to help with management such as finances; press releases and social media blogs; liaison with 18 groups in our Adopt-A-Shoreline and Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Programs; and for those physically able, leadership of cleanups by corporations, businesses, civic and school groups. We also plan to expand our Board of Directors. If interested, please email me or call 919-200-1079.
Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society
Solar energy is on the rise in the United States. At the end of the first quarter of 2015, more than 21,300 megawatts of cumulative solar electric capacity had been installed around the country, enough to power more than 4.3 million homes. The rapid growth of solar energy in the United States is the result of forward-looking policies that are helping the nation reduce its contribution to global warming and expand its use of local renewable energy sources.
One policy in particular, net energy metering, has been instrumental in the growth of solar energy, particularly on homes and businesses. Net energy metering enables solar panel owners to earn fair compensation for benefits they provide to other users of the electricity grid and makes “going solar” an affordable option for more people. Net energy metering works by providing customers a credit on their electric bill that offsets charges for energy consumption. As solar energy has taken off in recent years, however, utilities and other special interests have increasingly attacked net metering as an unjustified “subsidy” to solar users.
A review of 11 recent analyses shows that individuals and businesses that decide to “go solar” generally deliver greater benefits to the grid and society than they receive through net metering. Decision-makers should recognize the great value delivered by distributed solar energy by preserving and expanding access to net metering and other programs that ensure fair compensation to Americans who install solar energy. READ MORE....
Managing the Environment of Your Crawl Space
NOTE: For those residents who missed the presentation about crawlspace environment management, which is described in this article, all of the key information can be found here: http://www.crawlspaces.org.
The website includes very informative videos, some of which were shown as part of the presentation.
The GREEN SCENE sponsored a program at The Gathering Place for those who have wondered about how to manage the environment in their residential crawl space, which can have a dramatic effect on the living area; for example, heat or cold entering through the floor, mold formation, allergies, and asthma.
The program featured a presentation by Alex Glenn, an expert from non-profit Advanced Energy, a planning, technical and engineering services firm that provides market-based energy solutions to utilities, manufacturers, government regulators, and contractors. Alex typically trains commercial installers on the best strategies and methods for properly managing micro-atmospheric conditions in residential sub-basements and crawl spaces.
Most homeowners have little knowledge of what's involved in properly managing the environment under their home. Alex explained the basics of the science involved in managing such conditions so a homeowner can have some reference points when considering best options for their proper crawl space management. This was an educational, informative program. He was not selling any product, installation, or contractor service.
Alex has a comprehensive background in residential construction and building performance, including diagnostic and energy evaluations of both new and existing homes. His presentation was underwritten by a grant from Duke Energy Progress. As with all GREEN SCENE programs, this presentation was free to all interested Fearrington Village and Galloway Ridge residents. Free drinks and snacks were served after the presentation.
About Advanced Energy: Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., Advanced Energy is a planning, technical and engineering services firm that provides market-based energy solutions. They work with electric utilities, state, federal and local governments, manufacturers and a wide variety of public and private partners. Advanced Energy offers program design and implementation, consulting, training, testing and research to provide market-based energy-related solutions for our five markets: Buildings, Industrial, Motors and Drives, Renewables and Transportation
Handbook Resource: How to Respond to Climate Change Deniers
You don't need a degree in science to understand the basic principles of climate change, but you do need to have some facts straight. That’s the premise from two Argonne National Laboratory scientists who have now written a book, How to Change Minds About Our Changing Climate, that gives us those facts. Scientists Seth Darling and Douglas Sisterson joined WBEZ-FM Chicago Public Radio's host of the weekday "Afternoon Shift" program and phone-in callers to discuss the science of climate change and how to refute false, non-evidence-based arguments commonly covered by many politicians, the popular media, and heard in everyday life. Hear the authors in this 41 minute WBEZ-FM Chicago broadcast of August 25, 2014.
Visit the publisher’s site featuring more information and reviews.
Read about our this project and see the GREEN FEARRINGTON Interactive Map. To be a participant and add your own green profile, complete our five-minute profile. If survey participants grant permission on the form, they receive the coveted Green Dot on their mailbox and on the map.
Information on Nearby Chatham Park Development Project (Pittsboro)
Chatham Park Investors, a private development group, has submitted a Master Plan for an assemblage of approximately 7,120 acres consisting of 106 parcels located between the corporate limits of the Town of Pittsboro and the waters of the Haw River and Jordan Lake.
For scale: the current corporate limits of Pittsboro contains about 2,541 acres. Briar Chapel contains around 1,589 acres. The proposed development would be the size of 4.4 Briar Chapels in land area, and about 9 Briar Chapels by number of proposed dwelling units at the time of full build out.
After full build-out, the project would likely increase Pittsboro's population to over 60,000 people.
Populations of other NC municipalities in this population range:
Rocky Mount 57,275
Chapel Hill 58,076
Recent Energy-Related Items of Interest
See this short video about an impressive Boulder, CO grassroots David and Goliath campaign to create a landmark model for how communities can take control of their energy future. See their impressive crowd fund sourcing campaign site. This is an excellent example of the new economic experiments being built by dedicated citizens who realize that the old Industrial Revolution's economic legacy of economic and political power being ever-more concentrated into the top 1% of the richest people at the expense of the 99% of others has to be replaced with more citizen-owned and controlled central institutions in order to serve people's needs rather than greed (in this case of major utility corporations).
A Project of The Fearrington Green Scene. Blog Developed by Gus Reed. Check out this excellent site.
What is Your Water Footprint?
This calculator helps you estimate your total water use. You know water comes from the tap, but do you know how much water goes into your sandwich? Your gadgets? The electricity that powers them? Soon you will! This calculator relies on US national averages and approximations and is for people living in the US. This calculator was developed by GRACE Communications Foundation (GRACE) – a non-profit dedicated to creating a more sustainable food system.
"Through a series of simple questions about daily routines, this innovative and engaging calculator accounts for not only the water we use from the tap but also the water it takes to produce the food we eat, the energy we use and the products we buy. Created with a dynamic and adaptive interface, the calculator functions seamlessly on mobile, tablets and desktop computers. Other features include customized results, interactive graphics and the ability for users to change their answers and “play” with their results."
As part of the package, links to over 100 water-saving tips are offered to help users lower their water footprint. (One of the best ways to shrink your water footprint: Eat less meat and choose pasture-raised meat to support farmers who don’t rely largely on feed grains irrigated with limited groundwater or surface water supplies.)
Compiled by Maarten Simon Thomas and Matthew Leavitt (includes hot-links to the titles)
GS tip of the month: change the filters of your heating/cooling system before and after pollen season to save energy and increase efficiency.
Fearrington's Place in the Watershed
Regarding Fearrington’s place in the watershed, and preserving its health, several points should be kept in mind:
- Fearrington water (groundwater, stormwater, treated sewage) flows into Bush Creek, which flows into Jordan Lake. Bush Creek ends near Jack Bennett Road just after crossing Big Woods Road.
- Fearrington’s drinking water comes from the Jordan Lake Water Treatment Plant in Wilsonville. The water intake for the plant is at White Oak Creek near the plant. Hence Fearrington’s wastewater practices directly influence our watershed and drinking water treatment requirements.
- Jordan Lake waters are considered to be impaired, negatively impacted by pollution resulting in decreased water quality. Parts of Jordan Lake are subject to algal blooms, nitrates are high, turbidity is high. It is not a particularly healthy water body, especially north of the 64 causeway.
Among the Main factors that affect Bush Creek water Are:
- Housing developments that have also broken up the Big Woods Wilderness, including the Governor’s Club, the Preserve at Jordan Lake and to some extent Fearrington Village.
- Construction runoff impacting aquatic life.
- Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers contaminating the waters.
- Deer and cattle reducing plant communities and damaging tributary buffers. This causes erosion and reduces filtering of water before draining into Bush Creek. Bush Creek is sampled by a group of Fearrington volunteers and the results are submitted to the Haw River Watch. Results indicate that these samples are among the worst in terms of invertebrate counts, which are a reliable indicator of water quality. Note: The Green Scene intends to look into this in order to make recommendations for improvement.
What Can Fearrington Residents Do to Improve Our Watershed?
- Minimize water use. No matter how diligent you are, household wastewater contains contaminants such as metals, bacteria, nitrate, phosphorus, pharmaceuticals, etc.
- Avoid irrigation systems to reduce runoff. Indigenous and drought tolerant plants are preferred.
- Reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Reducing or eliminating lawns that require various chemicals really helps.
- Improve the quality of the Waste Water Treatment output.
- Consider ways to reduce the deer population and do not feed deer.
- The Chatham County NC 2011 Comprehensive Conservation Plan to help with natural resource protection, planning, management, and development decisions in Chatham County. Download the PDF file here.
- Chatham County North Carolina Comprehensive Plan Adopted November 20, 2017. Full PDF file document (184 pp).
By Jim Powell, published in Nation of Change on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
Polls show that many members of the public believe that scientists substantially disagree about human-caused global warming. The gold standard of science is the peer-reviewed literature. If there is disagreement among scientists, based not on opinion but on hard evidence, it will be found in the peer-reviewed literature.
I searched the Web of Science for peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 1 January 1991 and 9 November 2012 that have the keyword phrases "global warming" or "global climate change." The search produced 13,950 articles.
A GREEN SCENE Legacy Project -- The GREEN FAIR on March 24, 2012
We hosted the 2012 Green Fair in The Gathering Place from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The theme was saving energy and producing renewable energy. Local Green vendors exhibited their wares and local environmental activist groups were present as well. There was plenty of snacks, drinks, and fantastic live music. Despite the rainy weather (we were inside), many people came, shared, learned, and contributed much to living a Green life in our (extended) neighborhood. See photos taken during the 2012 fair.
Refreshments & Entertainment
Free Refreshments were provided by:
- Harris Teeter
- Lowes Foods
- Bella Donna Restaurant
- Entertainment was provided by the String Peddlers, a wonderful, well-received three-person Bluegrass group. (Contrary to rumors, they DID NOT play their music riding unicycles.)
Exhibitors Included (blue text = hot-linked):
- NC WARN
- LIVE GREEN, INC.
- YES ! SOLAR SOLUTIONS
- HAW RIVER ASSEMBLY
- BIOFUELS CENTER OF NC
- PROGRESS ENERGY
- CHATHAM COUNTY WASTE REDUCTION
- THE ABUNDANCE FOUNDATION
- FEARRINGTON VILLAGE GARDEN CLUB
- ORANGE – CHATHAM SIERRA CLUB
- FEARRINGTON VILLAGE BIRDERS
- N.C. GREEN POWER
- PSNC ENERGY
- CHATHAM CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP
- ENERGY TRIBE
- PIEDMONT BIOFUELS
Interested in Saving on Your Home Energy Costs?
Green Scene members Maarten Simon Thomas, Matthew Leavitt, and past member Vickie Shea, presented a well-attended and informative session on how to research and document your own energy costs and how you can then lower them.
To view a pdf version of the slides used in that presentation, click here.
The slides include screen captures of relevant details of gas and electric energy consumption and costs appearing on the energy company accounts of several members of the Green Scene. Your own gas and electric company accounts contain your own energy use data; therefore, those slides will serve as examples to show you what you will see when you bring up your own records that will contain your own data. Note that where you see usernames on those demonstration slides (sometimes as an email address), you will need to substitute your own username/email address when you visit your own gas and/or electric account/s).
If you have any questions about any aspect of the slides, please contact Maarten Simon Thomas and/or Matthew Leavitt. They will be happy to provide you with help and support so you can easily research your own user data and then to find ways to lower your usage and costs.