×

Green River Commons zero-energy condos preview the future


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Greening Greenfield, a volunteer group that aims to improve the environment through local action, is helping market the new zero-energy condominiums on Deerfield Street, Green River Commons.

The group is conducting a tour today at 4:30 p.m. to showcases the energy-efficient homes, not only hoping to entice some prospective buyers to the small, efficient and affordable homes, but perhaps also to show others how modern construction and appliances can dramatically drop energy costs, even in New England.

“There is much to be learned from these new condos that can be applied to existing homes,” Nancy Hazard of Greening Greenfield has noted. The homes are all equipped with Energy Star refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges, for example.

The more we look toward this example as the way of future, the better.

Backpack backup

Social service agencies from across Franklin County joined in the now annual United Way of Franklin County backpack drive to help needy students start the academic year with school supplies they’ll need but maybe can’t afford.

Women’s Way, an arm of the regional charity, brought in roughly 70 backpacks and $400 at a recent event. The United Way will continue to try to meet its 400 backpack goal through Aug. 24. Backpacks will be collected at all the branches of both the Greenfield Savings Bank and the Greenfield Cooperative Bank, during business hours.

Charity Day, the leader of Women’s Way, said not every family has the ability to send their children back to school with brand new pencils, notebooks and backpacks, those little things that can boost a student’s confidence. And confidence and comfort can make all the difference for some.

Can you help?

Irene after-effect

When Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011, Colrain’s highway garage took in about 4 feet of floodwater, ruining the boiler and other equipment.

But a new $2 million, 6,000-square-foot highway garage has features intended to minimize any flood damage in future years. Smart move.

The money came from a $1,091,000 federal Disaster Recovery Fund, $420,000 of the town’s state road aid and about $480,000 from the town’s own property taxes.

The new garage has a state-of-the-art wash bay, and is fully accessible, with a multifunctional meeting room with air-conditioning and a kitchen.

We’re told some of the town boards are already meeting there. All in all, a nice addition to a small town’s facilities. Almost makes the damaging storm worth enduring.

Lego legacy

For using LEGOs in innovative elementary-level engineering classes, Conway resident John Heffernan, who teaches technology and engineering in Williamsburg, was named one of the toymaker’s 110 “Master Educators” this year.

The plastic construction blocks are useful for teaching, Heffernan says, because most students are already familiar with them, and they “allow kids to quickly create prototypes of structures and vehicles and so forth.” He uses them for robotics projects that increase in complexity from kindergarten through sixth grade.

This is the first year of the “Master Educators” program. Self promotion for the company, of course, but we hope it also encourages other teachers to consider other novel ways to get their students to explore math, science and engineering from an early age.

Travel benefits

Many of the Greenfield High School students who have traveled overseas through the Global Glimpse program to teach underprivileged pupils have learned a valuable lesson themselves.

One student who traveled last summer to Nicaragua told the Recorder that trip put life into perspective.

“All of the places I could’ve been, I got to be born in America with privilege. Even though I didn’t have the best life, it’s better than most lives there. It just made me feel lucky,” Dionn Casanova told the Recorder.

Casanova still remembers “the sparkle in everyone’s eyes” when they returned “to little, tiny Greenfield, Mass.” and realized how much it offered compared to much of the world.

Teacher Terri Dodge will lead a new group to the Dominican Republic this summer, but it won’t be to the beaches and tourists, but rather, the countryside where rural poverty is an issue that cannot be ignored.

“It is so important to travel and get out there and learn different cultures,” Dodge said. “When you get back, hopefully, you can verbalize that spark you saw and that’s the spark you should go throughout life with.”