The Western Mass Green Consortium was started in 2008 by Sean Jeffords, President of Beyond Green Construction with a coalition of local trades people, educators, and Pioneer Valley residents, all committed to issues of green building, energy efficiency and other actions supporting reductions of greenhouse gasses in our community and beyond.
The Northampton Brewery supported these ideas by hosting this group of green living advocates; holding monthly presentations on sustainable topics and “Green Drink” networking afterwards. These events continued for several years, often drawing in 50 – 70 people. The consortium became more organized, developed the theme “Consortium As Community” adopting the name of Western Mass Green Consortium (WMGC).
An additional popular project of WMGC was Project Retrofit. PRF was a series of 4 annual and semi-annual day-long charrette’s intended to “Overcome the Information Barriers” that existed in creating a greater demand for energy retrofitting of homes. They were held in a variety of locations including the UMASS Fine Arts Center Gallery, Greenfield Community College (GCC), Beyond Green’s demonstration green building and The Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community. These lively workshops were designed to examine and tackle the obstacles currently found in advancing retrofitting existing building stock to greater energy efficiency standards. The topics ranged from green finance options, municipal involvement, home performance rating systems and showcased testimonials and case studies. They were reflective of the 2009 “Recovery Through Retrofit” report of Joe Biden assessing access to information, financing and skilled workers.
The WMGC restructured in 2012, re-forming as a 501(c)(3) federal tax exempt non-profit, and continued monthly programs in early 2013. The group’s primary focus centered on the popular monthly program called “Green Night.” The new location was The Clarion Hotel in Northampton with post-event networking taking place in The Loft. A rich range of topics lead by panels and individual experts continued under the new Board of Directors, headed by Andrew Baker. The first Green Night program was given by Abrah Dresdale of GCC’s new Farm and Food Systems degree program. Later programs included Tom Leue talking about biodiesel from recycled vegetable oil; Dr. Ray Bradley, nationally known UMASS Climate Change professor; Bick Corsa, winner of NESEA’s Home Challenge, on Zero Net Energy Homes; Beth Paulson on Connecting Sustainable Landscaping to High Performance Buildings; and others.
In Fall 2015, Green Night moved to The Platform Sports Bar at the historic Union Station restaurant in Northampton. Leaders in energy efficiency and sustainable building, education, policy / actions and materials suppliers sponsor every Green Night event, supporting the spread of information about sustainable resources. The excitement continues grow, with these events facilitating connections among committed individuals and organizations, as well as promoting sustainability in the built environment and community.