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By Janet Lawson

Have you seen the signs? “Concord Conserves – October Through December – TURN IT OFF!” These are part of our municipal campaign for energy efficiency, which is running from October 2013 until September 2014. During this time, your municipal employees plan to reach a goal of 3-5% energy reduction in the workplace, saving our Town as much as $10,000 and 40 tons of CO2 a year.

And this energy saving campaign is only a small part of what our Town is accomplishing in sustainability. At last month’s Sustainable Concord Coffee, Town Manager, Chris Whelan; Environmental Services Program Administrator, Rod Robison; and Energy Conservation Coordinator, Jan Aceti made an impressive presentation on Concord’s progress in meeting its sustainability goals, which were set by the Board of Selectmen in July 2011.

The broad goal of sustainability is to meet our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The four principles adopted by the BOS to achieve this are:

• Reduce the use of fossil fuels and other mined materials.
• Reduce the use of synthetic chemicals.
• Encroach on nature at little as possible.
• Meet our human needs as fairly and efficiently as possible.

These are the same principles endorsed by the American Planning Association and are based on the central idea that environmental problems are caused by the unnatural and systematic buildup of wastes.

The fossil fuel industries, which are profit-driven and making huge profits from fossil fuel production, are not motivated to support and cooperate with a movement aimed at its early demise. They invest large amounts of money financing political campaigns and legislation that will protect and preserve them as the dominant energy source for all of us. They also invest in propaganda that plays down or denies the climate change threat.

You can track Concord’s efforts on sustainability by visiting its website, Sustainability in Action page, but here is a brief summary: The Town is purchasing green products, including green hand soap and janitorial products, recycled paper and office products, organic weed killer, green ice melt, asphalt remover, hydraulic fluid and re-refined motor oil.

For municipal construction, Concord is using sustainable practices featuring LED lighting, reduced VOC carpeting, and sustainable storm water design and solid waste management. The demolition of the house at 51 Lawsbrook Road (which was recently purchased by the town for expansion of Rideout) included 100% recycling of the concrete and asphalt and almost 93% recycling of everything else. For the Rideout playground, all wood and metal from the dismantled playground was recycled, and all the wood chips from the base were composted. Finally, the reconstruction of the now beautiful Junction Park at the train station in West Concord features water-pervious paving, shade trees, bicycle racks, and a water bottle refill station.

Concord’s efforts also include outreach to residents. We have hazardous waste collection at Minuteman Regional Technical High School, unwanted medication collection at the police department, Christmas tree and styrofoam recycling and two Drop-Off/Swap-Off days a year. There is a paint shed to collect your old paint and a free toilet take-back if you are going to install a new water saving toilet. This year, compost bins and rain barrels were on sale through the town at a big discount.

Concord is a leader in sustainability and citizen involvement has played a large part in our success. If you haven’t already, we hope that you will get involved by coming to ConcordCAN!’s Sustainable Concord Coffees, which are held monthly on the third Tuesday at the Harvey Wheeler Community Center, from 7:30 to 9:00 AM (Sept through November and January through May). Topics of local sustainability are discussed over coffee and breakfast with featured speakers who are experts in their field. The November coffee will be next Tuesday, November 19th and will focus on the choices before the voters at the upcoming December 4th Special Town Meeting. If you’d like to discuss these issues before the Town with other interested residents, we welcome you.

Janet Lawson is a member of the Trinitarian Congregational Church Social Action Committee and the ConcordCAN! Steering Committee.