Capitalists with Heart

6 Eco-Friendly Hotels in Massachusetts

You focus on keeping your home as eco-friendly as possible—so when you travel why not stay at hotels or B&B's that share those values? Headed to the Boston area? Here are some great choices for you and your family.

You focus on keeping your home as eco-friendly as possible—so when you travel, it’s a priority to find accommodations that are as concerned about the earth as you are.

Amidst a growing awareness about the environmental impact of travel, many hotels now strive to reduce their environmental footprint through water and energy conservation, recycling and more. Here’s a look at several Massachusetts hotels large and small that are using eco-friendly practices.

  1. The Lenox Hotel in Boston: The Lenox launched the nation’s first linen re-use program and Boston’s first commercial electric vehicle charging station. The Copley Square hotel features low-flow toilets, showerheads and aerators and in-room and lobby recycling bins. It also uses hybrid vehicles for its car service and housekeeping uniforms made from recycled plastic fiber.
  2. Topia Inn in Adams: Nestled in the Berkshires, this intimate, 9-room organic inn serves  guests non-GMO, USDA-certified organic meals with fair trade coffee and tea. Rooms are equipped with LED lights and dual flush toilets to conserve water and energy, while furnishings are made with organic, rapidly renewable and fair trade materials. The innkeepers also plan to add solar hot water in the coming year.
  3. NineZero in Boston: Located near Boston Commons, NineZero’s sustainable practices include in-room recycling bins, low-flow toilets, showers and faucets, energy-efficient lighting fixtures and a towel and linen re-use program. NineZero also donates unused and partially used bath amenities (also eco-friendly) to community programs and makes eco-friendly dry cleaning services available to guests.
  4. Irving House in Cambridge: Irving House is a bed and breakfast in Harvard Square and dispenses eco-friendly toiletries from built-in units to avoid the waste of individual bottles. It also composts food waste and uses household items such as cups, rugs and picture frames made from recycled materials. The B&B was awarded EPA’s Energy Star in 2006.
  5. Provincetown Hotel in Provincetown: This historic Cape Cod hotel hosts educational workshops on wildlife tracking and birding; offers American-made bath amenities that are not tested on animals; and recycles materials including cans, metals, glass and paper. Guests use water-saving shower and faucet heads and enjoy breakfast served in a garden courtyard patio. The Inn also distributes literature about preserving the Ross Sea in Antarctica.
  6. The Colonnade Hotel in Boston: The Colonnade Hotel uses a non-toxic, chemical-free cleaning system to reduce chemical waste and exposure to toxins. Other sustainable initiatives include composting food waste, recycling of paper, plastics, metals and other materials. The Colonnade was also the first hotel to join a soap recycling program, according to its website.

Brought to you by

New England Pipeline Expansions Proposed

Earlier this fall, energy pipeline operators announced plans to boost the energy supply across New England, reports the Boston Globe. This region has not added any new gas pipeline capacity for the past two decades, which has created supply issues and temporarily boosted wholesale prices for gas and electricity during extreme winter temperatures.

Earlier this fall, energy pipeline operators announced plans to boost the energy supply across New England, reports the Boston Globe. This region has not added any new gas pipeline capacity for the past two decades, which has created supply issues and temporarily boosted wholesale prices for gas and electricity during extreme winter temperatures.

Availability of natural gas is a significant driver in the cost and production of electricity. In fact, at one point during a cold spell last winter, wholesale electricity prices jumped up to $1,290 per megawatt hour, which is more than 35 times the yearlong average of $36 per megawatt hour!

Increasing the energy supply could help alleviate these dramatic spikes in cost, and ultimately help energy residential customers across New England lower their energy bills. One potential project called Access Northeast would impact the Algonquin pipeline, which runs from New Jersey to Everett, and the Maritimes & Northeast line, which carries liquefied natural gas pumped from ships off the coast of Eastern Canada.

Officials at Spectra and Northeast Utilities, the companies proposing the expansion, say the project would be finished in 2018, assuming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives its approval (the companies have not yet filed a formal proposal with FERC, but say they plan to do so next year). The two companies plan to invest $3 billion into the project, delivering an additional 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day into New England. That is enough to supply over 3 million homes. Spectra has already proposed a 14 percent expansion of the Algonquin pipeline, a project that, if approved, would likely be completed during the winter of 2016-2017. The new Access Northeast project would complement that expansion.

Energy customers would help recover the project costs of Access Northeast over the first year after the project’s completion, but increasing access to affordable natural gas would likely result in lower energy bills over the long term. Fracking in Pennsylvania and other areas has helped lower the cost of natural gas in other parts of the country, but without increased pipeline capacity, New England customers have not benefited from those cost savings.

The other pipeline expansion proposal involves building a pipeline to supply gas from Pennsylvania across New York and Western Massachusetts. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, the energy company behind that proposal, plans to solicit public input later this year and file a pipeline application next fall.

Brought to you by

Energy Incentives for Massachusetts Homeowners

Energy savings makes both financial & environmental sense. There are options for Massachusetts consumers. What option is best for you?

As temperatures cool and homeowners brace for another New England winter, it’s time to think about ways to save on energy costs. Aside from turning down the thermostat and piling on the sweaters, Massachusetts tax credits and state rebates could help you avoid a chill-inducing bill.

We’ve rounded up several options for Massachusetts homeowners to consider.

  • Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit: If you install a renewable-energy system (such as solar water and space heating, photovoltaics or wind-energy systems) in your home, then you may be eligible for a 15 percent state tax credit totalling up to $1,000. Any excess tax credit left over may be carried forward for up to three years.
  • Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption: Solar-energy systems and wind-energy systems that supply heat or other energy to a taxable property are exempt from local property taxes for 20 years. The exemption applies to the value added to the property, not the full property tax; any dual-purpose components (such as windows or thermal drapes) are not eligible.
  • Renewable Energy Equipment Sales Tax Exemption: Massachusetts exempts renewable energy equipment such as geothermal heat pumps and solar space heaters from sales tax. Complete Massachusetts Tax Form ST-12 [PDF] and submit it to your vendor when you purchase the system.
  • Commonwealth Small Pellet Boiler Grant Program: Install a high-efficiency, low-particulate matter wood pellet boiler or furnace in your home ,and you could receive a grant of up to $15,000. The base grant is $7,000 and adders are available for criteria such as thermal storage ($2,000) or moderate income ($2,000). Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Residential Program: Through the Commonwealth Solar Hot Water Pilot Program, rebates are available for installing residential solar hot water systems. The residence must be occupied year round, and the maximum incentive is $3,500 per building or 25 percent of the total installed costs. You may be eligible for an additional $1,500 to cover the costs of a meter installation if you sign up for the MassCEC performance monitoring program.
  • Commonwealth Solar II: This program provides rebates on photovoltaic systems in homes and businesses to the system owner. The base incentive is $.40/watt and adders are available for moderate home values, moderate income and Natural Disaster Relief.
  • Commonwealth Woodstove Change-Out Pilot Program: Residents with a non-EPA-certified wood-, wood-pellet-, or coal-burning stove can receive help with the cost of replacing it for a high-efficiency, low-emissions wood stove or fireplace insert, or a wood-pellet stove or fireplace insert. Under this program, the maximum rebate is $2,000 for low-income residents and $1,000 for other residents.

Individual utility providers may offer their own utility rebates or zero-percent financing loans as well, so it pays to explore all of your options to maximize your potential savings.

 

Brought to you by