Even though winter is here and the trees are bare, in many ways West Roxbury is getting greener every day. Below are some recent developments that help make our town more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Thanks go to David Ertischek's excellent green nose for news for bringing many of these improvements to our attention.
Centre Street's holiday lights this year will be LEDs. You may already know that the street lights on Centre Street were upgraded to highly energy-efficient LEDs ("light-emitting diodes") by the city during the summer. But the additional good news is that the holiday lights decorating the business districts in West Roxbury this year are also LEDs, thanks to the persistence of state Rep. Ed Coppinger in negotiating the contract for purchasing the new illuminations. LEDs— which also are safer because they do not emit heat and contain no mercury —generally cost more initially but quickly pay for themselves many times over because they use so little energy. In addition, well-designed LEDs last significantly longer than regular bulbs. Coppinger reports that each of the 41 decorative snowflakes purchased with the money from this fall's fundraiser contains 66 LED lamps that will use 70% to 80% less energy than regular bulbs. These new decorations should sparkle on our town's streets for least a decade, and will probably last longer.
Second Zipcar location arrives in West Roxbury. The new location in the Lord's and Lady's Hair Salon parking lot adds convenience for many in West Roxbury (although we are happy to have had the Zipcars at Harvard Vanguard for a number of years now). WRSE hopes that the one Zipcar allotment at L&L's (a Mini Cooper) will quickly increase in number. Why is car sharing good for the environment? According to Zipcar, each of their vehicles replaces approximately 15 privately owned cars, which reduces not only your costs as a car owner but overall emissions, pollution, and traffic congestion. As for the cost benefits, by paying an annual fee for car sharing instead of owning a car, you would save about $8,400 each year, as estimated by AAA (the savings includes car maintenance and payments).
Roxbury Latin School goes solar. This fall solar panels were installed on the roof of the field house at RL, a great effort to save energy and save money. According to Patch, "the system is comprised of approximately 565 American-made panels," and projected energy savings for the school "in the first year are estimated at more than $5,000," with savings in the next 15 years hitting around the $100,000 mark. WRSE is always happy to see new solar panels in our town. RL's complement the ones installed several years ago at Waves Car Wash, and we hope to be bringing you more news of solar energy savings in coming months as additional businesses and homeowners realize the benefits of going solar.
Water bubblers or water-filling stations in WR to help decrease bottled water sales? This is a great idea. Thanks to West Roxbury's City Councilor Matt O'Malley for pointing out that if we had more public places to get water and refill our reusable water bottles, perhaps we wouldn't be so apt to keep buying bottled water at the rate we do. Boston has excellent tap water — some of the safest in the country and certainly among the best tasting — so we should do everything we can to cut down on the purchase of water in plastic, an environmental disaster and certainly an expense we could eliminate. Fewer than 20% of plastic bottles get recycled, and of course it seems silly to spend money on drinking water that is available in our homes for pennies. Consequently, making water a readily available option in our public parks and on-street locations would be a win-win.
New green energy source for West Roxbury. Mass Energy Consumers Alliance has just announced a program beginning in 2013 that offers local, renewable energy to NSTAR's customers. Payments for participation in Mass Energy's green-energy program are 100 percent tax deductible. Watch for WRSE to present a program soon offering more details on this excellent new electricity-supply option for our town.
Finally, don't miss our program on January 14 to bring you information about the latest technology for heating and cooling your home that will save you money and energy. These systems, referred to as Total Climate Control (TCC), even let you vary the temperature from room to room. They can save you up to 60 percent on your energy bill. For details about this free January program, visit westroxburysavesenergy.org.