Walk/Ride Day Challenge Update

The UUA joined Green Streets Initiative‘s Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge in March to challenge ourselves to use a greener form of transportation to work one day per month. So far, our participation has been a success–exceeding our own expectations and that of the Green Initiatives staff!

Here is an update:

  • In March, the UUA led other organizations of a similar size, with 36% participation.
  • We went up from there and had 40% participation in April–continuing to lead our category!

Prizes, prizes, and more prizes!

One of the perks of being a leader is that one staff person each month wins a prize. I’m very pleased to announce that Linda Rose won a $25 gift card to Eastern Mountain Sports for her participation in March. Kimberly Reardon was April’s winner and will take home a nifty Green Streets umbrella. Congratulations to you both!

Next month’s prize will be a $75 gift card to The Beehive, a fabulous dining and nightlife destination in Boston’s South End. Green Streets is also offering prizes for people who log their commute outside of the Corporate Challenge. So tell your friends to log their commutes, too, and they could win a gift card from Darwin’s Ltd, a coffee house in Cambridge, MA.

This Friday, May 25, is our next Walk/Ride Challenge Day! Be sure to head over to http://greenstreets.mapc.org/ to log your commute any time this week. Let’s keep the momentum going and show our community our commitment to promoting a greener world in all areas of our life–including our work!

The UUA’s Green Initiatives Staff Team (GIST) are Pat Grimm, Rob Molla, Jan Sneegas, Mike O’Herron, Alexis Rizzuto, Rachel Walden, Tim Brennan, and Adrianne Ross. If you’d like to join us in minimizing our environmental impact at work, please feel free to get in touch with any one of us.

UUA joining Green Streets Initiative Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge

Join us in greening the UUA and entering our staff for raffle prizes!  The UUA is joining Green Streets Initiative‘s Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge.  All UUA Staff have to do is go to their website on the last Friday of the month and log their commute that day (as long as it was not a single person driving in a car to work).  Be sure to include that you work for the UUA and log in with your uua.org email address.  Options for alternative transportation commuting are:

  • Walk
  • Ride a Bicycle
  • Take the Bus
  • Ride the Train
  • Jog
  • Car Pool
  • They also include kayak and canoe on their list, but I’m not sure that applies… let me know if it does for you!

They have a number of sponsors who offer special deals on the last Friday of the month- make sure to check out all the opportunities here (and note there are 7 pages of sponsors!)

Staff who work offsite can participate and log their commute as well!

Days of the challenge: (last Friday of each month March-September):

March 30, April 27, May 25, June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28.


Photographs of Genzyme Headquarters

Photographs of Genzyme Headquarters at 500 Kendall Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The UUA’s Green Initiatives Staff Team organized a visit and tour for UUA staff on February 15, 2012 of the Genzyme offices, which were certified LEED Platinum in 2005.

Visit to Genzyme- a LEED certified building

A group of UUA staff went over to Genzyme in Kendall Square to see what a really green office building looks like.  We also wanted to imagine what our headquarters might incorporate sustainability-wise and this was a chance to open our minds to different possibilities.

Genzyme is a LEED platinum certified office building.  You can go to their website to see other recognitions it has received, and more information.

So many details of the building planning were interesting and innovative.  Fountains with running water in the atrium deadened the sound, making acoustics of other people’s conversations not much of a problem for people working close by; it was very quiet and peaceful.  The lighting system involved a complex series of roof mirrors and ceiling mirrors and prism chandeliers to give off the right amount of diffuse light, moving light when possible to give a calming effect. They were controlled by an automatic weather system to adjust to different lighting levels depending on the day (sunny or cloudy- angles of mirrors would adjust differently).  Through this system they achieved an 80% natural light to 20% artificial light ratio in their work spaces.  The average work space is the reverse.

We came equipped with questions and had some things we would have wanted to do differently- but it was a great learning experience.  I’ll ask the other tour attendees to add comments to this post with things that stood out to them and what they learned.  I’ll ask anyone else to comment what they would like to see the UUA incorporate further into our building, whether we stay here or find another space to work in- what green aspects would you strive for us to operate with?

If anyone missed the tour but will be in the area and wants to check it out there is some information available in Genzyme’s lobby and you can get an idea of the space:

Individual Viewing of Genzyme Center: Individual visitors and the general public may view Genzyme Center from the public space on the first and second floors Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm. You do not need to register to view the building during these times.

Interactive Kiosks & Brochures: There are two touch-screen interactive kiosks in the public viewing space. These kiosks host a virtual tour that highlights the different architectural and environmental features of the building. In addition, brochures about the building are located on a display stand in the lobby and at the reception desk.

Tar Sands Action Leads to Change

[Taken From Beacon Broadside] On November 6, Beacon Press editor Alexis Rizzuto was part of the Tar Sands Action protest in Washington, DC. She sat down with our blog editor to discuss the protest and its impact.

Beacon Press editor Alexis Rizzuto

What was the protest about?

It was to tell Obama not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline in Alberta, Canada, proposed by TransCanada corporation to run from Canada to Texas. They are cutting down the boreal forest in Alberta and turning it into a toxic wasteland to get at the oil up there. Which is a hugely intensive use of energy—you have to burn a lot of carbon to get the oil out, (more…)

Owl Pellets Can Save the World

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA is a hot spot for migratory birds and those who watch them, and the stars of the bird show this spring have been the owlets. In late April, the two great horned owl chicks appeared in the nest in the thorny honey locust tree, as small and fluffy as kittens with little muppet faces. At first, they mostly leaned against each other and napped. As the weeks went by, they gained more feathers, started stretching (more…)

A Spring Story

Last spring, on the second floor of 41 Mt. Vernon, I heard a chirping outside the bathroom window. The window opens up into a shaft of about 40 feet from the bottom (outside the window) to the top. I figured if it was an adult bird it would find its way out, so I’d wait and see. If it were a baby, it would still be there later, and I’d try to help it. But someone from the upper floors also heard it, and had stuck her head into the shaft and seen that it WAS a juvenile in need of help. So she came down to our floor, and people directed her to me, the resident bird-nerd. (more…)

40 day commitment Challenge for Earth Day

Earth Day is approaching and we would like all UUA staff to take part in the celebration. We’d like to take this opportunity for the UUA as an institution to make our workplaces friendlier to the environment and help people most adversely affected by environmental degradation.

We’re kicking off a 40 day commitment challenge on Wednesday, April 27th, where staff will engage in small and large daily actions to support and celebrate our life-giving planet.  We’re focusing our actions on water justice, but a multitude of social justice issues impact water, from food to energy to immigration, so we encourage you to be creative in what you might do! (more…)