As Brookline addresses the unprecedented coronavirus situation, it’s essential that we commit ourselves to practicing good hygiene and social distancing in order to curb the spread of the virus. This means limiting social gatherings, regardless of size, and remaining home to every extent possible.
As a result, the “Climate Is Everybody’s Business” program will be rescheduled at a future date.
The vision for a sustainable Brookline needs to begin in one place: community engagement. A thriving green economy requires commitment from local organizations, and it is the mission of the “Climate Is Everybody’s Business” program to bring Brookline’s small businesses, non-profits, and religious organizations into this process.
The program began in the fall of 2019 with a pilot project consisting of several steps:
- A pilot workshop, held on September 24th, 2019, which sought to congregate, inform, and inspire Brookline business owners and community leaders on how to incorporate sustainability into their everyday operations.
- A 140-question self-assessment online questionnaire indicating the steps that participating organizations have already taken and exploring more actions in areas such as improving energy efficiency, increasing air quality, and effectively managing waste.
- A follow-up meeting, which included peer-led discussions of successes and barriers, as well as recognition of those who have taken or plan to high impact steps. See those organizations who’ve taken high impact steps.
Thirty-nine organizations were represented at the September 24th workshop by over sixty individual participating business owners and non-profit and faith organization leaders. The event provided these participants with guidance on how to assess current environmental impact, on how to identify areas for improvement, and how to subsequently adopt sustainable and climate-friendly practices. This process was guided by case studies of local businesses and organizations that have already had success implementing sustainable practices. The workshop also included information presented by Brookline’s state representative on the state’s actions to mitigate climate change, as well as by a representative of Eversource, who provided information on MassSave’s free programs.
After the workshop, participants took a self-assessment, indicating the steps they have already taken, and exploring more actions to in areas such as improving energy efficiency, increasing air quality, and effectively managing waste.
Participants were inspired after our workshop to continue this work, as was made clear in their reported intended next steps. These included adding more on-site renewable energy, scheduling an energy audit through the Mass Save Program, opting up to 100% renewable energy through Brookline’s Green Electricity Program, collaborating with other businesses and non-profit organizations, implementing energy-saving practices, such as more mindful thermostat control, switching to more reusables, expanding composting efforts, and staying informed and participating in climate activism.
The “Climate Is Everybody’s Business” team is working to build on the pilot project effort and expand on its success. Brookline’s commercial sector represents 23% of Brookline’s carbon footprint and work here can have a significant impact on reaching the town’s goal of zero emissions in Brookline by 2050 – an extraordinarily challenging goal that cannot be achieved by any single approach.
We plan to partner with specific sectors (for example, restaurants) or neighborhood-focused business associations (for example, the Coolidge Corner Merchants Association) for the next round of workshop / self-assessment / follow-up. While the pilot was aimed at a wide range of organizations, going forward it will be more effective to focus on specific industries or commercial districts to better tailor the workshop to a specific demographic and to have greater success in recruiting participants.