MassRIDES: Finding a Newer, Cheaper, Greener Way to Commute


Even though BCC is only 4 miles from downtown, transportation to and from campus is a major issue for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.  For those without access to personal vehicles, the limited public transportation system is one of the only ways to get to campus.  For others, the only option is to drive, often with only one person in the car/truck.  This presents a huge problem.  If you’ve ever tried to find a parking space in the middle of the day, you can understand the need for alternatives to the transportation problem.

This transportation issue is not restricted to Berkshire County.  Many communities across the state are trying to come up with creative solutions to reduce the number of cars on the road.  One such initiative is the the MassRIDES program, a state-funded travel program designed to help commuters find the right commuting option.  From biking to public transportation to connecting individuals for carpooling, this site can help Massachusetts residents make smarter, cheaper, and greener choices.

The MassRIDES site has a lot of helpful information and it definitely worth a browse (or two).  Some of the highlights include a Commute Calculator which will tell you how much you are spending on commuting each year, the free NuRide rewards program for taking greener trips, and links to MapMyRide and other amazing sites.

To address a common carpooling concern, the site has established an Emergency Ride Home program which will pay for a taxi ride home in case of an emergency.  Whether a family member has taken ill or the carpool driver o’ the day has an emergency, never fear!  You will be reimbursed for your taxi ride up to 4 times per year.  It’s definitely worth checking out!

Many thank to Beth Wallace for reaching out to the Green Team and sharing this important (and GREEN!) program with us.  For additional information, check out the MassRIDES website or contact Beth at ext. 1662 or bwallace@berkshirecc.edu

Green the Campus: The Successful Story of Academic Advising


In an effort to save time, money, space, and paper, the BCC Advising Office has eliminated advising folders by using the campus’ online system, WebAdvisor.  This initiative has been a few years in the making, with June 2013 marking the first intake of new students without folders.  Anne Fortune, Advisor Extraordinaire, informed us that before shifting to online advising, the office had to create two folders for every student, taking up valuable space and time.  By using WebAdvisor, the office estimates that their paper consumption has dropped by 80%!  This not only frees up filing space, but reduces the number of man hours required for the regular maintenance of the advising folders.

With online registration now in full swing, the campus can maintain student records in real time, therefore providing advisors with the most accurate and up-to-date information. This green and efficient approach has been well-received.  Although Advising rarely prints out paper copies anymore, they are happy to make accommodations for those who still want folders.

What’s next for the greening of Advising?  They hope the campus will implement system-wide scanning, thereby making the addition of transcripts and other information easier and greener.

Has your department made any green changes?  If you would like to share your story, please email Roz at rbroch@berkshirecc.edu

Deans Beans Founder to Speak at MCLA


Dean Cycon, founder and CEO of Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company, will be the featured speaker at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) “Green Living” series seminar on Thursday, March 6, at 5:30 p.m. in Murdock Hall room 218.  Cycon’s lecture, “Sustainable Business as a Vehicle for Social Change,” part of this spring’s “Cultivating a Sustainable Food System” series, is free and open to the public.

Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Company is a certified 100% organic, fair trade, and kosher coffee roasting operation in Orange, MA. Cycon created Dean’s Beans to prove that conscientious business can promote economic, social, and environmental change at local and global levels and still be profitable.  For additional information, click here for his company’s website.

Recommended reading on Cycon’s business model and philosophy: 7 Reasons Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better for Your Startup. Paula Andruss, Entrepreneur.com, 1/31/2014.

 

The series will continue on Thursdays through April 24. For more information, go to http://www.mcla.edu/greenliving or contact Dr. Elena Traister, (413) 662-5303.

The 2014 Green Living Seminar series is a presentation of MCLA’s Berkshire Environmental Resource Center and the MCLA Environmental Studies Department.

Eagle Cam!


Greetings and salutations! Very soon, this blog will be filled with campus greening initiatives and helpful hints for reducing your environmental footprint.  But for today, I leave you with Eagle Cam, a live feed of a nesting bald eagle at Berry College in Georgia.  The link will take you to Berry College’s page with information about these amazing creatures as well as the live feed.  ENJOY!!!

http://www.berry.edu/eaglecam/

 

UPDATE!  The eagles have hatched!  Here’s a YouTube video of the new eaglet!

Very Exciting Compost News!


BCC COMPOSTS!!!  WOO WOO WOO!!!

In a campus-wide effort to reduce food and other waste, the cafeteria (in partnership with the Green Team and Empire Zero) has started a very exciting composting program!  For the first time, the BCC community can separate recyclables, food waste, and trash with ease.  Now you can compost in any of the following locations:

  • Cafeteria near the tray return window
  • SBA Annex kitchenette
  • Field Administration Building, east lobby, on 1st AND 2nd floors

I’ll be honest: I LOVE COMPOST!  When I was in college, a friend caught me off-guard by asking out of the blue, “What do you want?”  My instant response? “A compost pile.”  Not many 19 year old college students dream of piles of decaying matter, but there you go.  Compost is awesome.

You may be asking yourself, what on earth is composting?  Excellent question!  Composting is the act of reusing biodegradable food, lawn, and paper products to make an organic fertilizer and soil amendment.  These materials are piled up and allowed to decompose; the combination of heat and moisture (and occasional earthworm) creates a perfect environment for bacteria to break down the materials into a lovely addition for your soil.

Now for the important question: why compost?  Food and lawn waste accounts for 20-30% of what Americans throw away.  Composting keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a greenhouse gas.  In addition to decreasing the sheer amount of waste going into landfills, composting enriches the soil while reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.  All in all, compost is a win-win.

How does our new compost system work?  This handy bilingual graphic can help you determine what should go where.  Many thanks to Empire Zero!

empire zero compost image

If you have any questions about this new program, please contact the Green Team.  We’re happy to help!

A great resource for starting your own compost pile at home:

http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

MCLA Green Living Seminar Series Starts TONIGHT! Forum Credit Available


Cultivating a Sustainable Food System:  The MCLA Green Living Seminar Series

“Cultivating a Sustainable Food System” is this year’s 11-week Green Living Seminar series that will consider the broad implications of our how food is produced, transported and consumed. 

Kicking off this series is “Creating Sustainable Food Systems,” presented by Philip Ackerman-Leist, associate professor of environmental studies and director of the Farm and Food Project at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt.  Ackerman-Leist also is the author of “Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems.”

The seminar will be held at 5:30 p.m. TONIGHT in Murdock Hall, room 218 on the MCLA campus.

This event is free and open to the public.  FORUM CREDIT IS AVAILABLE

The seminars will take place Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. from Jan. 30 to April 24.  All events are free and open to the public.  For additional information, please visit the Green Living Series website, found here.  For a complete list seminars, please view this flyer.  Podcasts will be posted online following the presentation.

Putting a Value on the Effects of Climate Change: The Social Cost of Carbon and New Energy Tax Policies


Many thanks to our own Mary Parkman for this information! 

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget is accepting comments on raising the social cost of carbon from the 2010 level of $24 per metric ton of carbon dioxide to $37 per metric ton. The social cost of carbon is defined as the value to society of reducing carbon emissions.

Submit comments on  www.regulations.gov by January 27, 2014.

For more info: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/11/01/refining-estimates-social-cost-carbon

 

The Senate Finance Committee is accepting comments on a new Energy Tax Policy regarding the development of clean energy for electricity and fuels.

For more info: http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/chairman/release/?id=3a90679c-f8d0-4cb6-b775-ca559f91ebb4

Send comments to: Tax_Reform@Finance.Senate.gov by January 31, 2014.

2014 Statewide Pay Advice Challenge


The CFO of Massachusetts has challenged community colleges across the state to go Direct Deposit and read their pay advice (or what I like to call, a pay stub) online.  Printing out the pay checks and advices generates over 7 tons of trash annually across the state.  BCC alone sends almost 87 pounds to the landfill each year.  If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to be more eco-friendly, this is a great way to start!

Using the Oracle program (formerly PayInfo), you can stop receiving paper pay checks and advices by following the instructions below:

  1. Log in to your Oracle Peoplesoft account (a.k.a the site where you electronically report your time)
  2. Select “Self Service” from the menu
  3. Click on “Payroll and Compensation”
  4. Click on “Direct Deposit”
  5. Add Account Information for Direct Deposit
  6. Underneath the blue box, you will see a link that says “Pay Statement Print Option.” Click on it.
  7. Click on “Do not send a paper copy of direct deposit pay statement” so that the little circle is blue
  8. Click “Save”
  9. Confirm when prompted.  There you go!  That’s it!

If you do not report your time electronically, please contact our awesome payroll department!

Best of luck! Remember, every little bit helps!

 

It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.
–Sydney Smith

Winter Wildlife: The Feisty Red Fox


While posting green tips for the holidays would seem like a relevant post this time of year, here is something a little different to make us smile and remind us that we share this planet with some pretty incredible creatures.

The red fox, whose population is widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, is known to jump through many feet of snow to locate its prey.  This jumping, called mousing, is quite delightful to watch as the red fox leaps high into the air and plummets into the snow, snout-first.  The red fox’s hunting ability has been attributed to its keen sense of hearing, but scientists suggest that the foxes also use the Earth’s magnetic fields to pinpoint its prey.

Say what you will about foxes, this video is pretty darn entertaining.

 

Thanks to Mother Nature Network and the Discovery Channel for the information!

Red Foxes Hunting Secrets Revealed!

“Animals of the North” Presentation, THIS THURSDAY!!


Looking for something to do this Thursday evening?  Come on down to Paterson for the “Animals of the North: What Will Global Climate Change Mean for Them?” presentation with Susan Morse.

Please join us for this special event!

Date: Thursday, December 5, 2013

Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Location: BCC Campus, Paterson Field House

Admission: $5 general/free with valid student ID

Event is sponsored by: Berkshire Community College Green Team, MCLA Department of Environmental Studies, Bard College at Simon’s Rock Sustainability Studies, Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), Berkshire Wildlife Trackers, Project Native,  Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, Housatonic Valley Association, The Nature Conservancy, The Trustees of Reservations, Green Berkshires, and Greenagers.