Monday, September 29, 2008

The "Master Plan" Story – A New and Urgent Chapter

By Howard Meinke

Supervisor Scott Russell is forecasting a budget for next year that is markedly higher than this year. You know the insanity that accompanies a budget increase, “Cut, Cut, Cut” regardless of logic is always the mantra. To ensure that a Comprehensive Master Plan survives this budget insanity we must rally behind it!

Russell has put a Master Plan proposal from former town planner Valerie Scopaz, reported to be $70,000, in the budget. In addition, Heather Lanza, the current director of planning, is submitting a manpower budget and a subcontract budget for a Master Plan to the supervisor. We don't know with any certainty how this information appears in the budget.

What we do know is that there is a budget hearing scheduled for Thursday, October 2nd at 3 pm at Town Hall. There is another hearing on Thursday, October 9th at 3 pm at the Town Hall annex. Southold citizens must be there to support a Master Plan and to hammer on the urgency of doing it before the economy inflates again. We can also make the point that there is room in the planning board agenda now to do a good part of this work with current town employees and that we should be able to squeeze prices for any outside work.

This is extremely important. Please attend, we need bodies at the hearing and cogent comments to insure a good result.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Public Comment Needed on the Ferry Fouling Our Waters

EPA Establishing Regulations for Vessel Discharge - Public Comments Needed

By Keri Christ

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of establishing regulations for waste discharges from marine vessels, including large ferries. This is significant because Cross Sound Ferry (CSF) has been operating in and discharging effluent into the waters off our coasts for over 30 years and is subject to these regulations.

It is imperative that comments be submitted by North Fork residents and environmental organizations as soon as possible. Although the comment period closed on August 1, 2008, this week I spoke with Ryan Albert at the EPA, who agreed to accept and read my late comments. He advised that although EPA will not formally respond to our comments, he will read them and we still have the chance to affect management decisions.

Here is how to submit comments:

1. Make sure comments include the following identification:
Docket ID No. EPA HQ OWN 2008 0055 for the VIPS

2. Go to http://www.regulationsgov/ and follow the on-line
instructions for submitting comments.

3. In addition, email your comments to Ryan Albert (202.564.0763)at . Ryan Albert, EPA Headquarters, Office of Water, Office of Wastewater Management, Mail Code 4203M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460


In June 2008, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision in a lawsuit initiated by Northwest Environmental Advocates which revoked a 30-year year exemption of "incidental discharges from vessels" from NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination Permits) required under the Clean Water Act. In July, following on the heels of the court's decision, two pieces of legislation were quickly passed exempting vessels less than 79 feet in length and recreational vessels. However, vessels greater than or equal to 79 feet are subject to the regulations. All eight of CSF vessels are larger than 79 feet in length and are covered by the regulations. CSF also owns tugs that will be covered.

In July, EPA issued a "proposed vessel general permit" and solicited public comments which were to be submitted by August 1, 2008. A public hearing was also held in Washington DC.

The EPA has published a Factsheet about the permit.

Those interested in submitting comments should review the comments made by Northwest Environmental Advocates, as well those submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (NYSDEC) and perhaps most importantly, those submitted by Cross Sound Ferry principles John Wronowski and Adam Wronowski.

The EPA has identified 28 different kinds of discharges that are to be regulated. As of the new deadline December 19, 2008, CSF will be required to obtain NPDES vessel general permits from EPA for these discharges and limit and report them pursuant to EPA regulations. They will also be required to educate crew members and the public about discharges as the regulations stand now.

I have not yet completed review of all of the documents/pertinent comments, but here are some thoughts on the points which need to be raised:

· Why weren’t the Orient State Park National Natural Monument and the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary which are presumably "federally protected in whole or in part for conservation purposes" included in Section 12 of the proposed general permit?

According to Ryan Albert, the EPA's contractor consulted lists of protected areas, but some may have been overlooked and only those areas which are well-defined were included.

We should urge the EPA to include the Long Island Sound and Peconic Estuary as well as Orient's national natural landmark in the Part 12 lists. We will have to submit implementing legislation/designation information to demonstrate federal protection of our waters and national natural landmark (NNL). I have the NNL designation information and will request this in my comments.

Mr. John Wronowski’s comments claim no environmental benefits to be gained and it is impossible for CSF vessels to acquire invasive species because they "operate in interconnected Lakes, Bays and Sounds", and do not operate in any waters included in Part 12, re: underwater ship husbandry.

· Support arguments and facts in the Northwest Environmental Advocates comments about large ferries; for the need for technology and water quality-based effluent limits, and more specific information regarding fleet vessels regulated under the permit -e.g. age, existing methods for handling waste etc., support large ferry oily water separators, same requirements re: gray water for ferries as for cruise ships, reporting of estimated volumes of gray water etc.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

East Marion Hopes to Defeat Developer -- Spa is Not Sustainable

By Anne Murray

A proposed upscale holistic spa set for Shipyard Lane in the tiny hamlet of East Marion moved another step forward recently when the developer submitted a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the project to the Southold Town Planning Board.

(rendering of proposed spa - beach view)

The East Marion Community Association met last week in order to organize opposition to this massive project – which calls for 28 buildings at the former oyster factory site on Gardiner’s Bay. The property, at the end of quiet, residential Shipyard Lane is slated to become the Shizen Hotel Wellness Center & Spa.

The developer envisions attracting wealthy clients to the exclusive spa, which will be gated and private and contain a pond, gardens and many other amenities. The community foresees the end of our quality of life, with the construction of a private marina and the arrival of a 114-unit transient motel, with a 72-seat restaurant, a 99-seat cafeteria, a 10-seat bar and their associate traffic. The developer proposes widening the Main Road and the addition of a traffic light in East Marion. The plan also calls for 189 parking spaces at the site, with 111 of these located in an underground garage. Only two acres of the 18.27 acre site will be left as open space - not open to the public -- just undeveloped.

We feel the spa is unsustainable and does not make sense for this community. If it goes forward, it will forever change not only the rural character of East Marion, but the town of Southold and the entire North Fork. You can view the developer’s proposal at the East Marion Community Association’s web site: If you would like to help us in our effort contact us here:

(rendering of proposed spa - street view - right)

Starting a Southold Food Co-operative: Sustainable and Money Saving

By Heather Cusack

A group of people in Southold met recently to discuss the creation and opening of a Southold Food Co-operative with a storefront in Southold. The idea came up because the long time health food store business on the Main Road (Natural Choice) closed down.

Many people on the North Fork do have their own mini co-ops of a few families who order natural foods directly from United Northeast Food distributors; a truck arrives at their houses once per month delivering bulk and cases of food. Also, as we live in a farming and sea area much of our food comes from our own gardens, farms, and fishing/harvesting from the sea.

What is a food co-op and why would that be a good thing to have here in Southold? A food co-op is a non profit organization, organized with a board of directors, volunteer labor, and some paid staff. The food prices are low as there is no profit, and costs are the rent for the space, utilities, and any paid labor. Food co-ops exist all over our country and provide everything and more than a supermarket.

The current group did the legal work to form a not for profit, but were unable to get enough members to commit to renting the space the Natural Choice had, so the idea is in limbo now; but still it is a viable possibility! The best way to get started would be to use a space where there are very little costs; possibly a barn or garage or other space that is empty; to receive the bulk orders from the truck. People can meet to pick up what they order, and then eventually set up shelves, refrigeration, etc and sell to the public at a marked up price that would cover any expenses.

What can you get from a co-op? Items such as organic fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans, nuts, cereals, baking supplies, frozen and convenience foods, and all the other things that the group wants to stock, from toilet paper, to light bulbs, to shampoo would be available.

I recently went to an awesome, beautiful co-op in Bozeman, Montana while out there to visit Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman is a college town, which helps with the support of a co-op. Co-op members work 2 hours per week for a discount on food. The co-op there was huge, like a big Whole Foods market. The store was totally powered by solar panels on the roof; it had fresh baked breads and a deli full of delicious organic foods, soups, salads, and dinners of all kinds. It also had bins of bulk foods, nuts, grains, granolas, etc.

How is a food co-op a more environmentally sound way to buy food than a supermarket? The food is mostly in a bulk form so there is less or no packaging; members bring their own jars and bags for refilling. Co-ops can also carry the packaged health food, but that stuff is more expensive. The least expensive and most nutritious are whole foods: oats, flours, pastas, raisin, nuts etc., which the Co-op can buy in ten or twenty-five or one hundred-pound containers, and members can purchase these items by the pound. I was in a food co-op for many years in Rhode Island; it was great to go there and refill everything from empty shampoo and dish soap containers, to jars for beans and grains.

Is there enough interest in Southold to start a food co-op? I think so; it will take some education and commitment from a group of 10-20 people to get it going. Are you interested? If yes, email me or call me for more information: Heather Cusack-765-3301 or .

Cleaning Up a CFL Bulb Breakage

by Marie Domenici

We now live in an age when everyone is becoming energy conscious, investing in alternative energy solutions such as solar, wind, geothermal. People are seeking a quick reduction in energy consumption by changing from conventional light bulbs to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs. But very few of the people I have spoken with know what to do in the event a CFL bulb breaks. DO NOT clean it up as you would a conventional bulb or standard broken glass. CFL contain Mercury!

Go to LIPA's website to learn how to safely clean up a broken CFL bulb and share this information with everyone you know.

Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 Innovation and Design Awards Program

Fowarded by Glynis Berry, AIA, LEED AP

You could be eligible! We urge you to visit the site of the Long Island Chapter of the US Green Building Council. Please pass on this information to anybody who might qualify.

Submission deadline is October 3.

The Long Island Chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council is pleased to announce its first awards program for green building, sustainable communities and municipal leadership!Our aim is to increase awareness of green building, share successful solutions and recognize local efforts. A wide range of projects and programs are eligible for application, from buildings to interiors, product innovation and municipal programs to regulation.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Join us for a film and discussion

Escape from Suburbia:
Beyond the American Dream

A film by Gregory Greene
Thursday, September 18, 7:30 PM
Peconic Landing Auditorium
Greenport, New York
Click here for directions

Saturday, September 20, 7:30PM
Mattituck Presbyterian Church
Mattituck, New York
Click here for directions

For more info about the film, please visit

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


By Hazel Kahan

SS: What makes a green architect different from other architects?

Theoretically, there should be no difference, but in fact there can be. Being green requires sensitivity to environmental concerns, at both the micro level—to the immediate context of the building—and at the macro level-- to the state of the wider environment.

Green architects who have LEED AP after their names are architects who took the time and effort to become acquainted with the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) green rating system, called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and who passed an exam on the subject.

LEED is a measurable rating system that is also informed by grass roots experience, and is constantly evolving. More information about both is available at

SS: What will it take to turn Southold building codes green?

The easiest way would be to adopt Standard 189p when it is released next year for all buildings except low-rise residential buildings. This is a baseline standard for high-performance buildings devised by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers-,), USGBC and the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America—

For homes, the Energy Star, LEED for Homes, or any other green, home-building, rating system either could be referenced or used to inform the Town's own version. Many municipalities across the country have adopted approaches that combine levels of compliance and verification. Some introduce innovative programs that further a green agenda. For instance, Aspen, Colorado assigns an energy budget to a home. If the building size or use exceeds this budget, that house must either provide the additional energy using renewable sources or contribute to a fund that advances renewable energy. Then the income generated by that fund could pay for the placement of renewables on schools and low-income housing, or even pay for the construction of wind farms.

Locally, Babylon, NY ( has just introduced a program for existing homes that is gaining close scrutiny across the country. Southampton just introduced a bill requiring larger homes to meet more stringent energy criteria.

SS: What steps does Southold have to take to join the ranks of these communities?
To be successful, it is important that a town staff member be the point source for supervising the project and educating both staff and the public regarding the program.

This staff member can be an existing person who should be trained and accredited with the USGBC. The more the Town is committed, the better it is: the “green” coordinator could be within an existing department, such as the building or planning department, in an independent office, or supervised by a Deputy Supervisor directly.

The coordination and communication among departments is critical: by its nature, a green program is interdisciplinary in approach, so there needs to be a willingness for all sections of government to work together. In the final analysis however, people are applying to the building department, so it makes sense to start there. It is also crucial that the Town’s facilities be green and this could be approached from several angles. The origin of focus for green programs varies between municipalities. For example, Austin started with energy conservation, Chicago with beautification, including tree plantings and green roofs, Scottsdale with water and waste management, Arlington County with smart growth concepts and land preservation. Ultimately all evolve to an integrated approach incorporating efficient building design. Some locations, such as Cascadia, Oregon, are challenging builders to develop structures that are regenerative. These man-made environments generate more energy and materials than they consume.

An advisory committee with public input also helps. People assume that a green building costs more. It can, but pay back periods could be assessed for each regulatory item, with the program only requiring actions with limited payback periods, thus advocating fiscal responsibility. Most rating systems offer choices, so that each applicant can pick and choose which applications are meaningful for the project. Governments can either incentivize green building programs or require them. Many municipalities start with a voluntary program and gradually adopt a regulatory structure.

SS: Is Southold undertaking any Babylon-like initiatives right now?

Southold has introduced legislation to allow the construction of windmills on farmland. The preservation of land outside hamlet areas could also be viewed as an important first step to a comprehensive program.

Southold could also look at zoning, regulations and operations to further green agendas. Some of its programs are already sympathetic to this view. But a more comprehensive plan coupled with will and vision could forward a greener agenda. Southold, with its sensitive environmental conditions, should be taking the lead on the development of sustainable communities.

SS: Where should the impetus for a greener Southold come from—the town, the builders or the residents?

It could and should come from all three. For government, leadership means not only reflecting its citizens’ needs but also educating them. The communities I’ve spoken to all advocated education as a key component in their planning process. Some communities had a probationary period for green building programs so that people went through the process, using the experience as both a teaching tool and a way to understand the impacts and tweak programs. With education, people come to realize that the payback period is actually more reasonable than they first thought and the benefits can include unexpected results, such as employee satisfaction.

SS: What is the most frustrating part of being a green architect? What is the greatest barrier to a greener Southold?

People are afraid of two things: increased cost and losing control of their property. They don’t realize that buildings contribute more CO2 emissions to the environment than cars do.

It takes will from the government and will from the people.

Perhaps we could put our suggestions before the board and vote on it. We have an Energy Committee, which has held informative sessions and introduced legislation on wind turbines, so maybe they could become more proactive regarding efficient building practices.

We should be asking: what’s next?

SS: Thank you, Glynis. We look forward to your ongoing participation with Sustainable Southold, the blog and the community. How can our readers contact you?

Yes, I’ll be happy to share what I know. I live here too!

Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Update

By Anne Murray

The public hearing yesterday on the plastic bag ban at the Suffolk County Legislature was recessed. At the next meeting of the legislature members can either close the hearing or recess it again. Once it is closed, it goes back to committee and the proposal must be passed out of committee in order for further action to take place. If it passes out of committee it then goes to the full legislature for a vote. It looks like it will be some time before we know the fate of the legislation.

Meanwhile, grocery and plastics businesses spoke out yesterday against the proposal. You can read the
Newsday story here:,0,526780.story

Stay tuned, Sustainable Southold will be speaking local businesses to get their opinions on the proposal and we will post their reactions.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Suffolk Takes a Sustainable Step -- Holds Hearing Tomorrow on Banning Plastic Bags

By Gwynn Schroeder

The Suffolk County Legislature will hold a public hearing tomorrow (Tuesday, September 16) on I.R. 1791 – A Local Law prohibiting the distribution of plastic carryout bags by retail stores. The proposed law simply states: “No retail store, located and doing business within the County of Suffolk shall sell, give or provide plastic carryout bags to consumers.”

This is a major step in the right direction towards sustainability and we hope you will take a few moments to comment.

Written comments must be received no later than 1 PM tomorrow and can be sent to . The hearing will be held at the Rose Caracappa Auditorium of the William H. Rogers Legislature Bldg., 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge. The Legislature will begin public hearings at 2:30 PM.

You can also write to Southold's representative, Edward Romaine, to encourage him to vote in favor of the legislation at .

In addition, hearings will be held on the following proposed laws that may be of interest to our readers:
I.R. 1673 – A Local Law to establish a minimum altitude for operations of helicopters.
I.R. 1769 – A Local Law to provide parking for “Clean Pass” vehicles at County facilities

To read the proposed legislation in its entirety or to view the Agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, visit the legislature’s website at . Click on Online Documents/Agendas and Packets of Resolutions/September 16.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Comprehensive Plan Will Help Achieve Sustainability

By Howard Meinke

As we contemplate all the twists and turns that the discussion of sustainability takes it becomes apparent that we need to have a mental picture of the “ultimate Southold” so that we can look at it through the lens of sustainability. Here we look at what we see as the best and most rewarding future for Southold.

Imagine Southold as a permanent retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Second homes, vacationing, wine tours, farm stand shopping, beach time, golf time, fishing, boating, art, culture and general relaxing as a prime product of Southold. We are close to the homes of millions of people who need the therapy that Southold provides. In today’s economic situation the minimal drive time and resource use to get here is important.

To preserve Southold in a sustainable way and to continue to meet this need will not be easy. We will need to preserve open spaces, the views of farm and bay, the working farms, the vineyards, the open access to bays, creeks and the Sound. We must keep the small town feel of the hamlets and support local business and our people while fighting off big chain stores and the infectious “shopping mall fever”.

Local agriculture is especially important. With rising shipping costs and the environmental damage from long distance diesel trucking; buying local is a strong advantage.

Over all population pressure and congestion brought on by uncontrolled development is the elephant in the room. It is generally true that the evils of overdevelopment are unstoppable by the time the building outcry gets attention. Control of growth with an eye to this greater purpose is another plus for sustainability.

The Comprehensive Master Plan, when written with the required input of the citizens and then supported by the necessary legislation is the strongest weapon that we have to maintain the Southold described above. If we follow the dictates of “the plan” we can preserve the Southold that we want while supporting the goal of sustainability.

Now, in a time of low economic activity is when “the plan” should be executed. When building and developing come roaring back to Southold it will be too late for legislation and we citizens will suffer the personal loss of Southold as well as the environmental loss. We can not let this happen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Story of Stuff

by Gwynn Schroeder

This 20-minute film dramatically shows the impact of the all “stuff” we buy, consume and eventually throw out. From extraction of resources to disposal of “obsolete” products, this film demonstrates in simple yet powerful terms the disastrous effects this process has on workers, our health and our environment. It is well worth the investment of time and we enthusiastically recommend it to all our readers. Click here to watch the film or go to .

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Light Pollution ABCs

Information is provided by Susan Harder, resident of NYC and East Hampton. She is the Director of the NY State International Dark Sky Association and has been a “dark sky” advocate, working on the issue of night lighting, for eight years. She has helped enact local lighting laws for Suffolk County, Southampton, East Hampton Town and Village, Brookhaven, and Riverhead. She is currently working with Southold’s Renewable Energy Committee to develop a comprehensive lighting law for Southold that will address glare, light trespass, sky glow, and energy waste that is associated with night lighting.

LIGHT POLLUTION occurs when outdoor lighting is misdirected, misplaced, unshielded, excessive or unnecessary. As a result, light spills unnecessarily upward and outward, causing glare, light trespass, and a nighttime urban “sky glow” overhead, indicating wasted energy and obscuring the stars overhead.

Direct your outdoor lights toward the ground and turn them off when not in use. Install shielded fixtures or light bulbs that direct the light only where you need it, adjusting the wattage necessary for the task.

Stand on your property lines and check for light trespassing onto your neighbors’ property. When away, put indoor lamps on timers for security purposes or use an alarm. Outdoor lighting alone will not provide protection from theft, graffiti, or vandalism.

Find out about your local and state outdoor lighting codes. Ask your neighbors to do the same.

Write, call or email your state and local elected officials, urging them to strengthen and enforce outdoor lighting codes and to require businesses, schools, institutions, municipalities, and individuals to comply.
Ask your neighbors to do the same.

Energy conservation through sensible lighting practices means less dollars spent on expensive electricity, and less pollution in generating that energy, primarily by burning fossil fuels.

Bare bulbs cause glare, interfering with night vision, especially for older drivers. Maritime navigators are blinded by off-shore glare which interferes with navigational markers.

The night is full of birds, animals, and fish whose habitats are negatively affected by artificial light. There is evidence that light at night is a health risk for humans, both for sleep deprivation and reduction in tumor suppressing melatonin.

Our stars are a natural resource. For generations before us and after us, with your help, the night sky can remain a source of inspiration, information, and contemplation.
Light Pollution can be eliminated without sacrifice.

For More Information please visit The Dark Sky Society.

CSAs Contribute to Southold’s Sustainability

By Hazel Kahan, Mattituck

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a way for people to buy locally grown, organic vegetables directly from a local farmer and for farmers to sell their crops before they plant them.

CSA is sustainable because it is a subscription that creates a relationship between farmers and members, provides high quality, organic produce with a greatly reduced carbon footprint and eliminates some of the risk in small-scale farming. Because local residents are paying for their produce in advance, before the growing season starts, farmers can plan their planting and buy seed and fertilizers, knowing that a certain proportion is pre-sold, already “booked” in advance.

Local residents buy shares in the farmer’s produce, receiving weekly boxes of a variety of somewhere between six and ten different seasonal vegetables, in quantities sized appropriately for a single person to a larger family.

For more about CSA, please visit the Land Stewardship Project.

Three organic farms on the North Fork offer CSA memberships to local residents. The first of these CSA programs was started by Golden Earthworm, located in Jamesport. In this, their seventh official CSA year, in addition to the full 26-week membership, they are also offering a 12-week autumn share and, for the first time, a fruit share in collaboration with Briermere Farms. CSA has been such a successful venture for Golden Earthworm --“We sold out earlier than in past years,” says Maggie Wood -- that they have turned their farm “into a CSA farm almost exclusively. We grow for our members.” says Maggie Wood, who runs the farm with her husband Jim Russo and Matthew Kurek.

Garden of Eve, located on Sound Avenue in Aquebogue, is in its fifth year as a CSA farm said Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht who runs the farm with her husband, Christopher: “CSA members are the most important thing helping to keep local organic farms successful and sustainable.” This year Garden of Eve gave all their Riverhead members a cookbook specifically developed for CSA members “so they would know what all the unusual vegetables look like and what to do with them.” Garden of Eve offers a winter share consisting of fresh organic greens grown in solar tunnels, stored root vegetables, squash and fresh farm eggs.

Sang Lee Farms located on Sound Avenue in Cutchogue, offers partial and full shares as do the other farms. Their web site describes: “an actual mid Summer CSA box from August 15, 2007, Week # 12 , was: 1 bu. Mixed radishes, 1 8oz. bag of mesclun, several heads of Shang Hai Baby Bok Choy, 1 Green Boston head lettuce, 1 Red Leaf lettuce head, 1 Yellow Doll personal sized watermelon, 3 pcs. mixed eggplants, 1 bu. Italian Parsley, 1 ctn. Orange Sungold & Red Cherry Tomatoes, and 2 Heirloom tomatoes- Orange Blossum and Yellow Beefsteak.”

A fourth small farm is just getting into the CSA world. KK and Ira Haspel on Route 25 in Southold offer a “gourmet CSA”, for which orders can be placed as late as the night before the produce is needed. This is not a membership relationship but a custom, short order convenience that is based on what is available at the farm. “It helps me know in the morning how much of what I have to go out to pick in the morning,” says KK. Although this arrangement requires no upfront financial commitment from the customer, “I just ask that hopefully they buy from me every week they are around.” She hopes to repeat this version of CSA next year but may ask for a small amount of initial credit against which payments can be deducted. “This would help in the spring with all the set-up costs, when more money is going out then coming in.” For more information, KK can be reached on her cell phone 516-398-8731.

Since the content of CSA boxes depends on what is ready to pick in the farms’ fields and greenhouses, becoming a CSA member includes a built-in surprise each week.

Sustainable Southold encourages you to learn more about community-supported agriculture and to visit each of our neighborhood farms to see how you and the farmers can jointly engage in making Southold more sustainable.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blow Fish, Blue Fish?

Do you ever stand in the fish market and wonder which seafood is safe to eat, or whether to buy farmed, wild or local fish? What species are being over fished and which seafood should be avoided because catching methods cause environmental damage? The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great guide on their website that can help answer these questions. You can search by region, in our case the Northeast, or by specific fish. There is also a printable version that comes in handy when eating out or traveling.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Energy and our Lives

by Izzy Doroski

Everyday when you wake up you enter a world of energy dependence. You may not think about it but your whole world revolves around energy production and consumption. You are a macromolecular machine that must consume energy to survive and be productive in this world. You may be surprised to learn that just as your car consumes hydrocarbons to produce energy you too consume hydrocarbons to give you energy. The hydrocarbons are different but they do have many similarities to each other.

Hydrocarbons are short to long chains of carbon atoms atomically bonded together that also have hydrogen atoms bonded on each of the carbon atoms in the molecular chains. The hydrocarbons that we eat (and enjoy) that give us energy include sugars, starches, proteins and fats. Each day a normal person doing moderate activity uses about 3000 Calories of food energy. One food Calorie (1 kcal or 1,000 calories) is the amount of digestively available food energy (heat) that will raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. This is equal to 12000 BTUs of energy or 3.5 Kilowatt-hours of power or 145.4 watts/hr. This is a remarkable finding that 3000 Calories of food energy provides you with 3.5 Kilowatt-hours of power from food to power you throughout your entire 24 hour day. You are probably saying WOW. This is so because your body contains mitochondria within our cells that are the powerhouses of the body that convert the consumed hydrocarbons into available energy for you to function throughout the day.

A mitochondria powered human system is an extremely efficient system of producing energy. And this is the energy that has powered the human race up until the discovery of alternate sources of energy for the development of our society. It is estimated by anthropologists that the first use of fire was by ancient hominid species (prehumans) about 1.5 million years ago in South Africa. Our ancestors used wood, plant cellulose and dung to create fire for cooking, lighting and heating up until the first uses of oil which was probably in the form of plant & animal oils.

Within the last 2000 years the discovery of “rock oil” (petroleum), natural gas and coal was a turning point in human history. The amount of energy that could be produced from natural gas, coal and oil provided society with a quantum leap in industrial and agricultural development. This separated energy production from agricultural production and provided a fast track to modern development that you see today. This also created the negative effects of the exponential growth of the human population. This includes our dependence on these fossils fuels and pollution from their use.

Our dependence on fossil fuels has now become a “genie out of the bottle” problem that is of a much higher magnitude than anyone can imagine. This problem is a turning point in human history, an amazing event that will challenge the limits to our technology and our social structure. I will discuss this problem and all its implications in my next article to come. I will end this segment by quoting the great twentieth century scientist ~ Nikola Tesla.

“Science is but a perversion of itself unless it has as its ultimate goal the betterment of humanity."

Solar Panels Are a Good Investment

By Marie Domenici

Investing in Solar panels turned out to be the best investment my husband and I ever made! Our home has all electric appliances and central air. In 2003, we started to investigate the possibility of solar. The size of a system is determined by your energy consumption. It was recommended that we purchase a 6,400 watt system. At that time, we did not have the funding for a 6,400 watt system, so we purchased a 4,500 watt system. The LIPA rebate was very generous, as they gave us $22,500 towards the purchase of system which cost $36,000. In 2003, LIPA was rebating $5.00 a watt. Today, LIPA is rebating $3.50 a watt; so you can see, time is money!

Fast forward to 2008…we purchased the additional 2,400 watts and we applied for and received another LIPA rebate. We now have the 6,900 watt system originally recommended.

Since July & August are air conditioning months, I was very interested to see how my July and August bills from 2007 would differ in 2008. The following information applies:

July 07 - $112.95 July 08 - $57.20 Savings - $55.75
August 07 - $175.39 August 08 - $34.31 Savings - $141.08

Did you know…from the beginning of 2001 through July, 2008, LIPA has increased its rates over 37%. This is the very reason why people like you and I invest in solar!

Here’s what you need to know when considering solar:
• Orientation
• Age of Roof
• Tree Shading

To maximize the energy production of photovoltaic electricity, PV systems are installed on southern, southeast or southwest exposed roofs and mounted parallel with the roof at a 35 degree roof pitch with no shading. However, roofs facing east or west may also be acceptable. PV panels should have their surfaces exposed to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day, with minimal or no shadows from trees, chimneys and gables between 9 AM and 4 PM.

If your current roof is nearing the end of its life expectancy or if you have more than one layer of roofing, it will be necessary to consider replacing and removing the old roof before installing the new roof. The concern for having more than one layer of roof is: 1.) weight bearing; 2.) potential for leaks.

LIPA has strict shading guidelines; no more than a 20% shading loss is allowed, otherwise you will not be eligible for the rebate. Therefore it will be necessary to consider either trimming or removing the tree or trees that may cause shading.

Solar panels are warranted for 25 years. There is no maintenance with solar. Does solar work during cloudy day? Yes! Have you ever been to the beach on a cloudy day and still gotten a sun burn?

After our solar installation, I found myself evangelizing about my experience with solar and could not stop singing its praises. So, finally, in 2007, I found a job in the solar industry. My meter runs backwards. I do the happy dance. Life is good!

Property Rights in a Changing World

By Howard Meinke

Personal property rights are a cornerstone of our democracy. Since the earliest settlers, the concept of private ownership and control of homestead and farm and field has been jealously protected. As the country developed and population grew, people settled ever more closely together in towns and cities, and the meaning of property rights slowly and necessarily changed.

The need to build public infrastructure for the benefit of the country as a whole caused dilution of personal rights as it enlarged communal rights. A railroad right of way through a citizen’s north forty was approved and the track laid when the need was demonstrated.

It became obvious that a pig farm or slaughterhouse does not coexist with residential housing or retail business and that many common and necessary property uses do not comfortably coexist with others. Thus the zoning that we are familiar with today came into being. This zoning concept is nothing more than a rethinking and broadening of property rights to create an obvious societal, communal benefit.

Today we are constantly learning more and more about the interconnection of marshes and swamps and watercourses to the health of the bays and oceans, then to our potable water supply and finally to the precarious and threatened world food supply. We are learning the damaging effects of road run off, the poisonous effect of unmanaged human and animal waste and the careless use of fertilizers and pesticides.

As we amass this knowledge, changes in how we use the land that borders swamps, marshes, creeks and bays is inevitable. Where older houses may sit on desirable waterfront locations boasting bright green lawns to the water and less obviously cesspools in the beach, new construction is prevented and modification to these older houses is ever more closely controlled.

Here again the personal property rights of the waterfront owner are being modified to mesh with the property rights of all the other citizens. For some this is a difficult realization. But it is inevitable and the American way that advances in knowledge and scientific understanding as exemplified by the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, bring continuous modification of policy.