Gill, Massachusetts Slate Memorial Library - Gill, Massachusetts

ENERGY COMMISSION

Commission Members:
Claire Chang, 413-863-8952, Chair
Tupper Brown, 413-863-8243
Pam Lester, 413-222-9674
Janet Masucci, 413-863-8694
Andy Cole, 413-325-1383
Alden Booth
Vicky Jenkins

Mailing Address:
325 Main Road, Gill, MA 01354-9758

Meeting schedule: The Commission meets on an as needed basis. Please contact the Chair to determine the meeting time and to be included on the agenda.

Workshop Schedule

Intro to "Permaculture" Gardening: Propagating Real Food on Tiny Plots (While also Improving the Land!) - Saturday, April 25th, 9-12 noon, Daniel Botkin
Small-scale, "permaculture-inspired" food growing emphasizes: working closely with Nature while using less fuel and chemicals; a biological approach to fertility, disease and pests; use of raised beds with minimal tillage; a dynamic mix of annuals, perennials, cover crops (and fungi!); low-tech "season extension" ("four season" farming); ongoing "soil-regeneration" and much, much more! Farmer Dan will share his unique perspective on "permaculture" and the practical details involved in growing high-quality food, intensively, on small acreage. He will also demonstrate alternative compost making, soil mixing, seed germinating and seedling propagation techniques inside the four-season greenhouse at Laughing Dog Farm. Class size is limited to 12. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Electrify Your Bicycle - Saturday, May 16th, 9-12 noon, Peter Talmage
Transportation is a large part of everyone's budget. Riding that bike you have hanging in the garage will save you lots of $, but wow there sure are a lot of hills in Gill. This workshop will explain the different types of ways a bicycle can be converted to electric power as well as the costs and the sources of products. As part of the workshop we will do an actual conversion of a bike. Class size limited. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

No Till in Gill / Rain Water collection & irrigation - Sunday, June 7, 9-12 noon, Alden Booth
Save time, energy and water too! Leave your rototiller in the garage this year! How you use your garden this summer and "put it to bed" this fall enables you to be rototiller-free in the spring. By using a garden fork and the same beds and rows each year you can have awesome soil that's so easy to plant into. Alden will demonstrate rotating compost piles, using a passive worm pile (earth's rototillers), and both direct seeding and transplanting seedlings into till-free beds. Alden will also demonstrate his roof water collection system and gravity irrigation system. Using off the shelf hardware we will also retro-fit a pickle barrel for use in water collection and distribution. Class limited to 20 participants. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Backyard-Scale Dairy Goat and Chicken Husbandry - July 12th, 9-1pm, Lissa Greenough and Daniel Botkin
Chickens section, Lissa Greenough ~ Keeping a small-scale flock of chickens is a great way to provide your family with fresh eggs and, if you're willing, delicious meat. Chickens are also beautiful and hugely entertaining, plus they can help to keep your gardens bug and weed free. Come to this workshop to learn the basics of selecting, raising, housing, feeding, fencing, and culling a small flock. If there is interest, we will also discuss the process of slaughtering and dressing out the birds.

Goats section, Daniel Botkin ~ Do you love furry, farm animals and fresh milk but cannot manage a whole cow? Goats are hardy, versatile, productive and entertaining, as well as being better "scaled" for the backyard farm or small homestead. Farmer Dan will offer an intensive primer on small scale goat keeping, including as well as practical tips for fencing, breeding, kidding, feeding, hoof trimming, de-worming, milking and basic cheese and yogurt making. Participants will get acquainted with the multi-generational, (Nubian) dairy herd at Laughing Dog Farm. Attendees will better understand basic goat psychology and healthy management.

All levels of experience are welcome. Class size limited to 12 participants. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Building a Solar Greenhouse - Sunday, August 9, 9-12 noon, Alden Booth
A simple, small greenhouse heated only by the sun will extend your growing season from February to October allowing for early and late season greens, carrots, broccoli, radishes, and much more. When the ground is still frozen, a solar greenhouse in late Feb will already be warm enough for direct seeding and seedling transplanting. Using standard lumber and off the shelf hardware with easily available metal hoops and solar plastic, we will build a greenhouse with end walls and a door. Class limited to 12 participants. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Backyard Composting and Worm Farms - Saturday, September 19, 9-12 noon, Vicky Jenkins
Enrich your garden, bushes, potted plants, or lawn while eliminating large amounts of waste from your garbage, reducing costs to you and the town. In this hands on workshop we will construct a backyard compost bin, assemble a worm farm, and learn how to make your compost pile safe from animals. Worms farms help transform waste into compost, and you can create gallons of a super fertilizer from their by-product to use in watering established plants. Gill residents will receive a free kitchen composting bucket. Rain or shine, dress to work outside. Class size is open to all who want to attend. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Beginning Seed Saving/ Heirloom Seeds - Saturday, September 26, 9-12 noon, Daniel Botkin
Many more farmers and gardeners could benefit from the magic of seed saving if they knew how easy, rewarding and accessible it can be. This workshop will kick start your home, business or classroom seed saving efforts by zeroing in on the "easy" ones, varieties you can save each year with little planning, effort, or expertise. By focusing first on beans, peas, annual flowers, lettuces, leeks and tomatoes, we're nearly guaranteed successful first results. (And the cucurbits and corn aren't too hard, either.) And, those inevitable, accidental "crosses" sometimes turn into famously delicious "mistakes" in our seed gardens... Daniel will review and demonstrate the basic concepts and protocols for selecting, gathering and saving various common and uncommon vegetable seeds, as well as share some of his favorites with the class. Class limited to 12 participants. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Low-Tech Food Preservation - Saturday, October 17, 9-12 noon, Daniel Botkin
On his farm (and in his kitchen...), Daniel will share, explain and demonstrate several, practical, food preservation techniques that involve little (or less) energy, including the cold-storage overwintering of cured winter veggies, dehydration, lacto-fermentation, and keeping green food alive in unheated, four-season "hoop-houses". Dan will discuss the benefits and caveats with each method. We'll discuss "nutrient density", "nutrient retention", relative "shelf life", flavor loss, as well as the practical details involved in each food preservation method... Class size limited to 12. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Building Science, A Dozen Ways to Reduce Your Homes Energy Use - Saturday, November 14, 9-12 noon, Peter Talmage
There are many ways to improve the efficiency of your home that can save you lots of fuel. Many of these measures cost little to nothing. Learn about a dozen of these simple methods as well as some of modest cost and make your home easier to heat and more comfortable. Sources of funding and available rebates will also be discussed. Class size limited. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

Deep Energy Retrofit to Homes - Saturday, December 12 , 9-12 noon, Peter Talmage
Most homes in the area use a lot of energy to operate. Moving to a low carbon society where the emissions of Carbon Dioxide are greatly reduced will require that our houses be far more efficient. This workshop will look at the various methods being used today to improve insulation levels, eliminate air leakage and to create homes that are clean energy producers. Class size limited. To register call Janet Masucci at (413) 863-8694 or email jmasucci@msn.com

NEW 0% Loan Options through Mass Save HEAT Loan Program!
Through a $3.8 million US Department of Energy grant, the Mass. Dept. of Energy Resources has expanded the energy improvements eligible for the Mass Save´┐Ż HEAT Loan to encourage more residential energy efficient upgrades and high efficiency renewable heating installations. Zero percent loans are now available for biomass wood pellet boilers (up to $25,000), deeper weatherization measures (up to $50,000), and projects in two- to four-family buildings ($25,000 to $50,000). In addition, the program is offering weatherization barrier mitigation incentives of up to $2,000 for knob and tube wiring remediation, and up to $3,000 for asbestos abatement. Visit the Heat Loan site for details.

Sign up for a free energy audit
Free energy audits are available by directly contacting any of these companies:

MassSaves at 1-866-527-7283 www.masssave.com/residential/home-energy-assessments

Home Energy Contractors:
A. A. Arden, LLC., Attleboro 508-639-9811 www.aaarden.com or email Dennis@aaarden.com
Coop Power, Greenfield 877-266-7548 www.cooppower.coop
Cozy Home Performance LLC., Easthampton 413-529-0200 www.mycozyhome.com
Energia, Holyoke 413-332-9111 EnergiaUS.com

Our 2013 energy fair had exhibitors and demonstrations on practices and techniques to track and reduce energy use, develop a more sustainable lifestyle, live more comfortably, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint. A video of our speakers can be found on Vimeo at vimeo.com/mctvchannel17

Laura Biddulph, Community Outreach Specialist, Center for EcoTechnology spoke about building science, how it relates to the need to weatherize, and solutions including winserts. Amy Donovan, Program Director, Franklin County Solid Waste Management District spoke about recycling, composting, and hazardous waste, with a special focus on the climate change/waste diversion link. John Walsh, Supervisor - Residential C&LM, Western Massachusetts Electric Company spoke about WMECO programs and ways that people can track and reduce energy consumption.

Energy Saving Ideas for the Gill Challenge to Reduce Energy Use by 13% in 2013

Pledge Form for Energy Campaign

Gill Designated as Green Community
At a State House ceremony on July 24th, Gill was one of 17 communities designated by Governor Deval Patrick as a Green Community, joining the ranks of 86 previously designated cities and towns.

Once designated as official Green Communities, cities and towns are eligible for awards to fund local renewable power and energy efficiency projects that advance both municipal and state clean energy goals. Grants awarded so far assist an array of projects across the state, including the installation of solar panels on town office buildings, weatherization at schools and municipal buildings, installation of high-efficiency street lights, and a host of energy efficiency upgrades. Gill's grant award is $139,900, and Gill's Energy Commission will be developing a list of projects in town for the Selectboard to review and submit to the State for approval and funding.

Representatives from Gill's Energy Commission and Selectboard attended a ceremony in Amherst on August 14th at which the Town was again recognized for its commitment to the goals of the Green Community program, and received the symbolic "Really Big Check" for $139,900! In the photo below, from left to right, are Mark Sylvia, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources; John Ward, Gill Selectman; Janet Masucci, Gill Energy Commission; Claire Chang, Gill Energy Commission Chair; and Richard Sullivan, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Gill's Really Big Check


New Tips on Saving Money

Courtesy of the Greening Greenfield Campaign, CLICK HERE for a brochure that describes ways to find the financial assistance that you need to make your home more energy smart. (Note: Some of the programs described on the brochure are available only to Greenfield residents.)

New informational handout from the Gill Energy Commission on ways to save money on energy upgrades! Click here.

Learn to Make Insulating Window Inserts
Here's the link to the North Quabbin Energy website that explains how to make your own winserts - the same way we were taught at our workshop on February 26th. "Winserts" are reusable transparent panels that fit snugly inside window jambs to add two extra layers of glazing. A properly-constructed winsert will reduce heat loss from a typical single- or double-glazed window by up to 50%, thus more than paying for the cost of the winserts in less than one year. Click here (opens new browser window).

Green Communities Action Plan
The Green Communities Action Plan was developed in the Spring of 2010 by the Energy Commission with considerable assistance from the FRCOG. If Gill meets the five criteria for being designated as a Green Community, the Town would be eligible to apply for energy-related grants available from the Mass. Department of Energy Resources. The pot of money for grants awarded in FY 2010 was approximately $10 million. The five criteria are: As of Right Siting, Expedited Permitting, Baseline Reduction of Municipal Energy Use by 20%, Purchase of Energy Efficient Vehicles and/or other green transportation initiatives, and Adoption of the Stretch Building Code. This plan was endorsed by the Selectboard at their June 7, 2010 meeting.

MassSAVE Energy Audit Offers New Services
MassSAVE, the utility-funded no-cost home energy audit program, has just added FREE air sealing to their services. Air sealing (sealing unnecessary air leaks in attics and basements) is often the most effective measure in terms of improving a home's energy efficiency. In an older home, all the small leaks can be equivalent to having a window wide open all winter long. It is also a measure that can be suitable for homeowners who have knob & tube wiring -- a major roadblock to adding insulation.

The free air sealing is offered in addition to: $2,000 savings already available for attic, wall and basement insulation; and 0% interest loan up to $15,000 for insulation, high-efficiency heating systems, windows and solar hot water systems. Call MassSAVE at 1-866-527-7283 to schedule a no-cost home energy audit.