By Larry Litten and Yolanda Baumgartner
The Sustainable Hanover Committee partnered with the Upper Valley Sierra Club on the successful 2017 town meeting vote to commit Hanover to renewable energy goals as part of the national “Ready for 100” campaign. This committee began at least 40 years ago as the town Recycling Committee. Volunteers had been collecting recyclables at the middle school on Saturday mornings for a couple of decades before that. Initially its efforts were focused on weekly collection days during which residents dropped off recyclables at the Recycling Center at the Department of Public Works. Curbside recycling began in 1990 for glass, some plastics, and metal containers, and newspapers with collections of glossy paper and cardboard continuing at the Recycling Center until today’s bi-weekly single- sort curbside system was introduced. Over the years, the committee has also held drop-off days for large metal items, electronics, and Christmas trees.
In 2002, the Committee invited Professor Benoit Roisin of Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering to help it explore the nature of its mission. Professor Roisin emphasized that the future health of the earth and the well-being of the town would require much more than some recycling. The committee followed with a town-wide environmental summit. Subsequently, the Committee decided to broaden its focus to include climate change, energy efﬁciency, renewable energy, and pollution issues as well as recycling. In 2007, the Board of Selectmen approved a broader mission for the committee, and the committee held a community workshop on sustainability, advised by a steering committee composed of representatives from the schools, Dartmouth College, town government, and other local institutions. The Recycling Committee became the Sustainable Hanover Committee (SHC) in 2008.
In the meantime, another group of concerned residents formed the Climate Protection Campaign (CPC) to address climate change and had been working diligently on that front. When the Sustainable Hanover Committee emerged out of the Recycling Committee, members of the CPC joined the town committee.
Recent Energy Initiatives
The program to increase the use of electricity from renewable sources began in 2014 when the Committee invited the town’s largest electric users to purchase certified green power to support Hanover as an EPA Green Power Community. Six leadership businesses and non-profits (Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Printing, Kendal at Hanover, the Hanover Co-op Food Store, Hypertherm and the Town) joined the effort. The following year, with the addition of SAU #70 and two other programs focusing primarily on residents and small businesses (Solarize Hanover in conjunction with Vital Communities, and a purchasing group buying 100% green certified electricity for residents and small business accounts) Hanover increased to 22% green for all the electricity used community-wide. Feedback from the community about these projects was extremely positive. The Committee felt there would be strong support in the community for a “Ready for 100” campaign.
Other current SHC Programs
The SHC has a Recycling subcommittee which continues to oversee recycling and reuse efforts. In 2016 curbside recycling in Hanover collected 5,500 cubic yards of materials, enough to cover a football field with a five foot high blanket. The annual Hanover – Dartmouth College community yard sale held in September draws a broad range of residents, visitors and students whose purchases give new life to usable items that might otherwise end up in landfill. A new program in 2017 successfully employed Google map technology to direct people in search of usable items to yard sales at the seller’s location throughout Hanover and Etna, a village on the east side of Hanover.
The Landscaping subcommittee has developed a new Sustaining Landscape project which will be launched with a public presentation in June 2017. This project will engage businesses, neighbors and students in developing a demonstration garden in downtown Hanover to encourage the use of rain gardens and pollinator-friendly and native plants.
To learn more about SHC and the town of Hanover’s commitment to 100% renewable energy, visit https://www.hanovernh.org/sustainable-hanover-committee.
Larry Litten is a retired Dartmouth College administrator, member of the Sustainable Hanover Committee since 2002, member of Hanover’s Sustaining Landscapes committee and an Upper Valley resident since 1999. Yolanda Baumgartner is a retired Dartmouth administrator, co-chair Sustainable Hanover, Core Team Ready for 100, and a Hanover resident.