Sustainability Presentation Draws Large Crowd

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Honesdale, PA – A full house at the Cooperage recently celebrated ten years of sustainable energy projects, as SEEDS (Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support) turned ten years old.

A panel discussion on sustainable architecture, sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy highlighted how far Wayne County has come in the ten years that SEEDS has been in operation and provided a vision for a more sustainable future. In addition to the panel, Wayne County Commissioners Brian Smith and Wendell Kay told the attentive audience about Wayne Tomorrow, the county effort to anticipate and plan for emerging

local issues.

(Jack Barnett, Christine Ahern, Richard Pedranti)

As part of the ten-year review of the county Comprehensive Plan, Kay explained, Wayne Tomorrow was developed as a tool to get community members involved in presenting issues and working on solutions to those issues. The Stourbridge Project (a co-working space incubator for entrepeneurs), the Park St. Complex kitchen (providing space for those getting into commercial food production), the Wayne County Trails and Waterways Alliance Project (creating trails along the Lackawaxen River), and a successful campaign to re-introduce an agricultural cirrculum in the local school district were mentioned as endeavors coming from the Wayne Tomorrow committees. SEEDS Executive Director Jocelyn, a member of Wayne Tomorrow’s Sustainability Work Group, helped develop the NEPA Recyclopedia, a listing of local recycling locations, the items they take and how to further reduce waste. The website is NEPArecycles.com. It tells you what can be recycled, and where it can be taken. Register on the site, and please share additional information if you have any.

The Commissioners also emphasized the need for citizens of all political parties and beliefs to cooperate to accomplish community projects that benefit all the county’s residents and used themselves, Kay a Democrat and Smith, a Republican, as examples of what can be done, despite ideological differences. (Commissioner Joe Adams was unable to attend.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Wayne County Commissioners Wendell Kay and Brian Smith)

During the panel discussion, Christine Ahern, from the Lackawaxen Food Hub, talked about the dramatic rise in demand for fresh organic food and the accompanying increase in local truck farms and the local farmers’ markets. The Lackawaxen Food Hub was formed by 35 farmers as a way to market and distribute their produce to farmers’ markets, restaurants, food pantries, and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), where individuals buy a share in a season’s vegetables and fruits and get a weekly box of this produce. She spoke with new and established farmers and resturateurs about their experiences. She said that the concerns were for sustainability, water quality, affordability and accessibility to the food being grown in the area. Their concerns for the future were for soil health, increasing crop diversity, educating the public about seasonal products and land affordability for new farmers.

Milford Architect Richard Pedranti addressed the emerging technologies for building passive houses, those residences that use so little power that, with solar or wind arrays, might provide a net energy gain. He said that 40-50% of all energy consumption is from buildings. Reducing that useage by 80-90% is a reasonable goal, using the building standards of passive house construction, which can be applied to residential, commercial, multi family and skyscraper construction. The geographic orientation of the house, high-tech windows, super-insulation and effective heat-exchange ventilation systems all contribute to reducing energy use while enhancing comfort, as airtight construction eliminates mold and mildew, and the ventilation system provides improved indoor air quality. In the future, education of the public in the ideas behind efficient construction and implementing building codes that reflect the values of energy reduction would help promote sustainability and energy efficient housing.

 

SEEDS member and Clean Energy Co-op founder Jack Barnett spoke about the SEEDS efforts over the past ten years to provide Wayne County with the tools need to increase sustainability. Offering training for contractors and builders in solar installations has raised the number of providers from zero to two, who now have waiting lists for homeowners who want solar installations. Do-it-yourself solar installations have resulted in dozens of solar arrays throughout the county. Wayne County boasts the first Habitat for Humanity house project that installed a solar system, in 2014, thanks to the cooperation between Habitat and SEEDS. The Lacawac Sanctuary in Ledgedale just went on-line with its new solar array, installed with the help of SEEDS volunteers. A spin-off from SEEDS is the Clean Energy Co-op, a co-op which has used  investments from its members,  to install three solar arrays and now is looking for more opportunities to help increase sustainable energy in Pennsylvania. In the future, Barnett noted that California’s new building code will require solar arrays on ALL new construction, that the new PA code makes modest moves toward energy efficiency and that community solar projects will be expanding through the state.

After the brief membership meeting that opened the event, SEEDS Executive Director Cramer expressed deep gratitude to SEEDS founding member Michele Sands. Sands acknowledged the many people who had made SEEDS a reality and spoke about the need for resilience to make sure communities thrive.

More info on speakers:

Panelists include: Richard Pedranti, an award winning architect and certified passive house consultant based in Milford, PA. He specializes in Passive House and high performance buildings putting modern building science to work creating beautiful, healthy, comfortable, and energy efficient buildings. Richard earned his Bachelor of Science, Major in Architecture, from Pennsylvania State University in 1987 which included time abroad at the University of Florence in Italy. Upon completing his Masters at Harvard University School of Design, Pedranti was recruited to New York by Rafael Vinoly Architects, one of the leading modern architects of our time. Richard Pedranti Architect (RPA) began in 1996 in the Meat Packing District in the Lower West side of Manhattan. Licensed in Pennsylvania, New York State and New Jersey and member of the American Institute of Architects, Pedranti specializes in energy efficient residential and small commercial projects in Northeastern Pennsylvania, New York City, and Philadelphia with a particular focus on Pike County projects.

Jack Barnett – SEEDS board member and president of the Clean Energy Co-Op, Jack is an independent strategic consultant in the telecom industry, and in areas of sustainability. Jack has served on Finding PA’s Solar Future, performs SEEDS member solar assessments and serves on the Agriculture subcommittee of Wayne Tomorrow. Jack is a long time member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA.org) and former chapter president for the American Solar Energy Society (ASES.org). With his partner of 26+ years, Dr. Mary Anne Carletta, Ph.D. in Environmental Science, they built a ‘nearly’ zero-net energy super-insulated home with solar thermal hot water and space heating, plus a 5.5kW photovoltaic system.Christine Ahern is the Executive Director of the Lackawaxan Food Hub, a regional food hub and multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) located in Honesdale, PA, that connects farmers and food producers with consumers, restaurants, and food businesses throughout Wayne, Pike & Lackawanna Counties and Sullivan County, NY.

Christine Ahern ran WJFF Community Radio for 10 years, led the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, helped develop software for Global Action Plan and was an on-board Education Director for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Christine studied Environmental Conservation, and feels that all work comes back to how we treat our environment, especially our food systems. Most recently she spent 10 years working in the global import/export food business as the Operations Manager for Global Natural Foods.

 

 

SEEDS is a non-profit 501.c.3 organization promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable living in our region. Visit www.SeedsGroup.net to join the SEEDS e-newsletter for all upcoming forums and workshops.