College, companies go green for many reasons

Grant Welker

Businesses are making themselves more environmentally friendly in a variety of ways. To mark the 39th annual Earth Day, here are a few examples:


In January 2007, the nursery’s first wind turbine went into operation. In September, its second turbine went up. And now, it’s constructing its third.

“It came from high electrical bills,” said Sylvan president and general manager Jim McBratney. “Seeing the trend continuing, we thought the best way to cut if off at the pass is to do something to prevent it. Plus, it’s a good thing to do.”

The first turbine is 80 feet tall and includes a small solar panel. On a good day, McBratney said, the turbine will produce 20 percent of the office’s energy needs. The second turbine, 120 feet, offsets as much as 45 percent of energy for the maintenance building.

The nursery, toward the south end of Horseneck Road, received grants from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the United States Department of Agriculture to cover most of the cost of the first two turbines. McBratney said he expects to receive grants for the third turbine, as well.

The newest turbine is expect to go online next month. It will be 120 feet tall, like the second one, because the taller height is more efficient, McBratney said.


Since BCC installed a 10-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel on the roof of its engineering building in January, the system has created enough energy to power 87 homes for one day, or take away the pollution an average passenger car emits over 197 days. (For updated data go to

The panels are relatively small — they only offset 1 or 2 percent of the campus’s total energy — but they more importantly serve an educational purpose, said Steve Kenyon, the BCC vice president of administration and finance.

“It’s more to set an example for the community that these things work,” he said. “We’re trying to be a model for the college system and the city.”

The campus plans to add new sets of solar panels by the end of the year on top of the Hudnall Administration Building (known as building D) and Siegel Health Technologies Building (building C). This phase would be capable of producing ten times as much power as the current system.

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative provided a grant that covered $50,000 of the $90,000 cost, and two-thirds of the upcoming phase will be covered by grants, Kenyon said.

The college was one of the first to sign on with the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strive for zero emissions.

On Earth Day, the campus will also break ground on the BCC Farm, a small-scale organic farm that will use material the school has composted for years. BCC is also considering a large-scale wind turbine like the 240-foot tower at Portsmouth Abbey to offset even more energy, Kenyon said.


This small restaurant about one-third of a mile from Buzzards Bay became in 2003 the first restaurant in the state to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, and its efforts started early.

“It was a definite philosophical thing,” owner Robert Carroll said. “Years ago, I got a little bit upset about all the waste coming out of the restaurant.” He was especially bothered by not being able to recycle big jugs used for condiments and other things, he said.

Once recycling programs sprouted up, Carroll jumped at the opportunity. He also made Bayside smoke-free in the late 1980s, even when he and his wife were still smokers and some customers threatened to stop eating there. Later, they made all lighting energy-efficient, composted food waste and replaced plastic foam take-out boxes with biodegradable cardboard or bamboo-based boxes.

If customers were once turned off by the no-smoking rule, people now visit because they hear of Bayside’s green credentials, Carroll said. “Initially, no one seemed to care,” he said. “But more and more people notice as the years go on.”

Bayside, located on Horseneck Road, also buys produce from farms up the street and on Sanford Road, and features the Westport-made Buzzards Bay beer and Westport Rivers wine.

“It’s all a little bit more expensive, but it gives you a better feeling, like you’re not destroying the Earth so much,” Carroll said.

Bayside may also add a wind turbine. “I would love to put one up,” Carroll said. “There’s wind everyday here, so it would be a great feature.”


The interior lighting company now manufactures environmentally-friendly products, and Lightolier has made its 300,000-plus-square-foot facility on Airport Road in Fall River easier on the Earth.

In the 1980s, the manufacturer used 130 tons of toxins a year. Now, it only uses seven tons, facility engineer Ronald Westgate said. Over the last decade, it has eliminated 1.25 million pounds of toxic chemicals from its manufacturing process.

Lightolier was awarded a Certificate of Partnership last year from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for its work.

“Anytime we can take any chemical out of our product, we jump on that,” Westgate said. Everything the company buys “we try to reuse and recycle as many times as we can,” he added.

A test tower at the site for more than a year has shown that utilizing wind power would be feasible, Westgate said, but planning for a wind turbine is still in its early stages. Lightolier management has gone through energy conservation training, its machinery has higher-efficiency motors, and the company gives spent acid loaded with phosphorus to a fertilizer company, he added.

The company’s products have become green, too. It has a series of energy-efficient lights and Energy Star-certified products that was expanded last year with its Uniframe line.


The family-run grocer in Central Village is working both inside and outside the store to be better to the Earth. It sells reusable bags for 99 cents — though often gives them away — and recycles 95 percent of what it uses in the store, owner Al Lees estimates.

The store recycles plastic, cardboard, food waste, tin cans and paper bags, and this year will start a composting program for what local farmers can’t find a use for.

Just over a year ago, the store set up a test tower to find out if a wind turbine would produce enough energy to help offset the building’s energy use. Data showed that a large-scale turbine would be cost-effective, Lees said, but the store is still investigating.

“With our amount of usage, it does have a payback,” he said. But the up-front cost — at least $2 million — is something he said the store can’t easily afford.

The 130-foot test tower stands across Main Road from the market in an open field. If built, the turbine would stand next to the store. Lees Market received a grant for about $40,000 from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a quasi-state agency that issues grants to turbine owners, to build the test tower. The store would also be eligible for a grant if it builds a turbine.

E-mail Grant Welker at