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Seeing the Lighthouse

Debbie Calvanese, placement manager of Lighthouse in Spring-field, congratulates Paul Olson, senior director of ARAMARK, on its Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition ‘Employer of the Year’ award, presented last month. At left is Jeffrey Colby, a Lighthouse member. Lighthouse is one of four clubhouses operated by Springfield-based Human Resources Unlimited that provide job opportunities for those with physical and developmental disabilities. In just under a year, ARAMARK has given six Lighthouse members a chance to be productive in the workplace.


Upward Bound

Stakeholders pose around a poster announcing a $1 million Upward Bound grant to be shared by 13 applicants in Massachusetts. American International College is the only school in Western Mass. to receive the award. Upward Bound is a pre-college program for students who have the ability to complete a post-secondary education, but who may not achieve that goal due to constraints imposed by family income levels and the lack of knowledge about the college admissions process. The grant money awarded to AIC will help students at Springfield’s Central High School. From left are Gregory Schmutte, vice president for Academic Affairs; Jada Waters, AIC graduate student; AIC President Vince Maniaci; Central High School Principal Richard Stoddard; and Joseph Burke, Springfield superintendent of schools.



Cutting the Ribbon

Premiere Source Credit Union recently celebrated the move into its new main office on North Main Street in East Longmeadow. On hand for the ribbon-cutting were, from left, board member George Reich, operations manager Mary Pagliaro, CEO/Manager Bonnie Raymond, board member John Whalen, Chairman of the East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen Enrico Villamaino, East Longmeadow Police Chief Douglas Mellis, Clerk of Hampden County Superior Court Brian Lees, board member Brian Travers, board Chairman Dr. Richard Grabiec, and board members Joseph Francisco, Al Riberdy, and David Kruger.


The Young and the Networking

Young professionals gathered at the Springfield Art Museum on June 21 for the third free event staged by the Young Professional Society (YPS). Attendees mixed and mingled among the latest exhibit, “Seldom Seen: Contemporary Art from the Permanent Collection,” with paintings, sculpture, and lithographs by Picasso, Lichtenstein, and others. The YPS is a networking group launched by young professionals in the corporate, non-profit, cultural, and public arenas in order to initiate a dialogue on how young area professionals can get more involved in the community in which they live and work.

Departments

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

Adams, Stephen A.
Adams, Jennifer L.
a/k/a Ryznic, Jennifer L.
11 Elm St.
Turners Falls, MA 01376
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 05/31/07

Bailey, Thomas C.
424 Elm St.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/01/07

Barkyoumb, Timothy R.
Barkyoumb, Maria N.
73 Montgomery St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Beachman, Ronald Bruce
65 Prospect St.
Warren, MA 01083
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Beals, Elliott
3 Mill St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Bernal, Mario Juan
101 High St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Bissonnette, Robert P.
Bissonnette, Carol Ann
115 Tavistock St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/06/07

Burdick, David M.
112 Main St., Apt G
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 05/31/07

Burgess, Kim J.
a/k/a Jones, Kim J.
12 West Laramee Green
Indian Orchard, MA 01151
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Carey, Christine Olive
8 Turnpike Road
Turners Falls, MA 01376
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Carrano, Alfonso Raffaele
Carrano, Antonietta Anna
41 Birch Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/02/07

Circosta, Theresa R.
22 Primrose St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/02/07

Cote, Denise T.
43 Cyran St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Cruz, Dayssi Yanira
a/k/a Montpremier, Dayssi Y.
198 Harrington St.
Athol, MA 01331
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/01/07

Cullison, Kimberly A.
2018 Quabog St.
Three Rivers, MA 01080
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Destromp, Ronald
Destromp, Ruth
423 Springfield St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Douglas, Jill J.
145 Johnson St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/07/07

Hall, Allison Lucille
a/k/a Gagne, Allison L.,
Hawley, Allison L.
118 Danforth Ave.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Haller, Stephen Edward
Haller, Lisa Ann
a/k/a Booker, Lisa Ann
Accounting Advantage
35 Williams Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Heath, Paula M.
28 Thornfell St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/07/07

Hohol, Laura Ann
19 Randall St.
Palmer, MA 01069-1327
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Holt, Todd T.
124 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/13/07

Joanides, Christos
Joanides, Laura
a/k/a Giroux, Laura M.
277 Southwick St.
Feeding Hills, MA 01030
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/03/07

Keiderling, Travis
160 Pont Grove Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Kenney, Susan M.
72 Oak Ridge Dr.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Laizer, Robert J.
62 Farnsworth St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/03/07

Lamothe, Jeffrey J.
Lamothe, Jennifer G.
146 Redlands St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Lapa, Jessica
140 Joy St.
Chciopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Larabee, Tammy Jean
216 Mohawk Forest
North Adams, MA 01247
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/08/07

Lincoln, Sharon L.
92 Commercial St.
Adams, MA 01220
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/08/07

Lopez, Venancio
896 St. James Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

Mango, Richard P.
21 Brentwood St.
Springfield, MA 01108-3305
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/15/07

 

Martindale, Enid E.
a/k/a Bennett, Enid E.,
Clayton, Enid E.
11-15 Clantoy St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Maznick, Gary F.
23 Sherwin St.
Ware, MA 01082
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/14/07

McCann-Pawshuk, Joan M.
391 Chicopee St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Molina, Osvaldo
33 Mary St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Occusafe Inc.
135 Mountain View Dr.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/12/07

O’Connor, Kathleen
24 Fairmont St.
Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Omerhi, Omote
133 Bowles St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/14/07

Packard, Catherine M.
19 Anthony Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/12/07

Pinkney, Barbara
87 Duryea St.
Springfield, MA 01104-3105
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Prejsner, Thomas Eugene
179 Sandtrap Way
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/12/07

Rivera, Manuel P.
Rivera, Karen H.
61 O’Neil Road
Warren, MA 01083
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Robert, Chekovsky
Chick’s Carpentry
Chekovsky, Gail
143 Point Grove Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/03/07

Robinson, James Matthew
Robinson, Lisa A.
30 Vadnais Street
Chicopee, MA 01020
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/08/07

Roby, Jocelyn A.
557 South St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/01/07

Romboletti, Carl F.
CFR Jr Designs & Models
34 Dragon Hill Road
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 05/31/07

Rosa, Brenda L.
a/k/a Rosa-Delgado, Brenda Liz
28 Austin St.
2nd Floor, Left
Barre, MA 01005
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Rosa, Jose R.
68 Jefferson Ave.
Springfield, MA 01107
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Saydlowski, Paul J.
Saydlowski, Marie E.
23 Greenwich Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Selzo, Michele A
a/k/a Holbrook, Michele A.
2230 Main St.
West Warren, MA 01092
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/12/07

Seymour, Cheryl Ann
77 Valley View Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/01/07

Sicard, Wendy
118 Lumae St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Soto, William
76 Bliss St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Sullivan, Daniel G.
Sullivan, Leeann M.
95 Deer Run Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/11/07

Thompson, Darlene
64 Ellsworth Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/14/07

Tucker, Carole F.
70 Mohawk Trail
North Adams, MA 01247
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/12/07

Vega, Nestalz
19 Linden St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/14/07

Walsh, Timothy M.
27 Wendell St.
Athol, MA 01331
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/05/07

Ware, Patricia A.
27 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/10/07

Webb, Luora Graves
207 Garvey Dr.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/01/07

Wells, Michelle
143 Garden St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 13
Filing Date: 06/08/07

White, Mary E.
643 Newton St., #13
South Hadley, MA 01075
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/04/07

Winds Transportation Inc.
P.O. Box 181
Palmer, MA 01069
Chapter: 7
Filing Date: 06/08/07

Sections Supplements
Developers Feel Endangered by Environmental-protection Laws
Thinking Outside the Box Turtle

Massachusetts environmental and endangered-species laws

It’s not surprising that a state as progressive as Massachusetts has environmental and endangered-species laws that rank among the most stringent in the nation. Contractors and developers say those restrictions, both on the state and local levels, add unnecessary costs and delays to projects, damaging the health of the construction industry. Environmental officials, however, argue that those concerns are overstated, and that the laws do much more good than harm.

John Rahkonen tells of a bridge project that was shut down for almost a year.

“We were going to repair a bike path bridge on the Connecticut River in Deerfield, and we had to get to the substructure of the bridge,” said Rahkonen, owner of Northern Construction Service in Palmer. The company wanted to get at the pilings while they were exposed during the dry summer months, a job he said would take two days.

But the permitting process required to work in the river took two months, by which time the water had risen 10 feet, making the job impossible — and leaving the bridge in a precariously deteriorated state — until the following year. The job will be completed this summer.

“That’s the death of common sense,” said Rahkonen, who’s not shy about his displeasure with what he describes as an illogical, business-hostile maze of environmental regulations that hamstrings construction in Massachusetts. And he’s far from alone.

“We’re constantly being made aware of new types of regulations, most recently the preservation act,” said Joseph Marois, president of Marois Construction in South Hadley, referring to the Mass. Endangered Species Act, which protects the habitats of more than 500 different animals and plants — many more than federal law protects.

“The really devastating thing,” said Marois, “is that a lot of development projects in the area have been stalled for endangered species, such as box turtles. I think it has come as an abrupt shock to a lot of people who have actually had to stop projects.”

In a state known for green thinking, it’s perhaps no surprise that developers must contend with stricter sets of regulations than in other regions of the country. But increasingly, builders say the rules are unnecessarily time-consuming at best, and at worst are used as a weapon by environmental activists to prevent development they don’t agree with.

“Massachusetts has a very strict environmental lobby,” said Ken Vincunas, general manager and partner at Development Associates in Agawam. “And when it comes to endangered species, you can’t disturb those plants and animals or their habitats. Such drastic regulations put us at a competitive disadvantage, and Western Mass. is even worse because a lot of the areas of protection are out this way.”

“If a local DPW wants to go and dig out a culvert and replace it, it takes an act of God to get it done because of these regulations,” said Rahkonen. “And all the extra costs get passed on to you. It’s just ridiculous.”

Fair or Fowl?

The state’s Endangered Species Act, last updated in 2006, has borne much of developers’ wrath, but it generally doesn’t put the brakes on development, argued Thomas French, assistant director of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, an arm of the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

However, the law does require a process of review, and sometimes permitting, that can take months and run into the thousands of dollars.

“Seldom is a project significantly altered,” said French. “Certainly, having an area mapped [with protected species] is a red flag that requires it to be reviewed, and there are quite a few projects that have to amend their original proposal in order to be allowed to move forward, but most of the time, that’s quite doable.”

Indeed, from July 2005 through June 2006, the NHESP reviewed 1,679 projects; 71% were deemed to have no endangered-species impact, 21% posed easily resolved issues, and 8% were more serious issues that required the issuance of permits. From July 2006 through May 2007 (the June figures have not yet been released), the agency reviewed 2,375 cases; 75% posed no problems, 20% had easily remedied impacts, and 4% required permits.

“We think that’s a reasonable outcome,” French said. “If you’re one of the 4%, you might not like it, but generally speaking, it doesn’t hurt the economy or slow down development.”

But at a time when competition is high for prime projects, said Marois, such regulations — and their costs and delays — pose headaches that builders simply don’t need.

“A lot of people have property they’re planning to develop, and they’re encountering brand-new regulations that heretofore haven’t been here, on top of the myriad other regulations that are increasingly difficult to comply with,” he said. “Add to that the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of projects out there, so seven or eight companies are bidding at a time, and profits are minimal.”

“Certainly, getting sites without encumbrances — not just in terms of regulations, but getting buildable sites at all — has been harder, which means we’re going farther afield and doing redevelopments,” Vincunas added. “It’s not as easy as it used to be to get sites that aren’t hilly, rocky, or wetlands-protected.”

Green Ink

It’s not just endangered species that pose difficulties for developers, said Rahkonen, noting that something as small as requiring hay bales and silt fences — even where water isn’t a problem — can add thousands of dollars to a municipal project. “That’s money that could be spent in schools, or for more blacktop,” he said.

“Another thing is the Rivers Protection Act. If you have any viable stream, even a trickle, you’re restricted within 200 feet of it. They call it a river, even though it may be an inch wide. We boilerplate laws on top of laws.”

French also mentioned that act — but as an example of how priorities can change in a society. “It used to be that people built along a river’s edge to have a good view of the river, and their houses would get flooded periodically,” French said.

“These days, our social values dictate that we don’t do that anymore. In the same way, we try to be understanding of the needs of developers while still protecting the public resources of species and their habitats.”

Furthermore, he said, the Mass. Endangered Species Act even allows for some minimal destruction of habitat in some cases where the plan cannot be altered — for instance, a necessary and unmovable access road to a housing development.

In those cases, however, a developer is expected to perform some long-term mitigation. That might entail setting aside a portion of conservation land in perpetuity, or funding research that could benefit the species in question. The law even allows for that mitigation to be conducted offsite, which makes it much more lenient than wetlands regulations.

French said some developers scapegoat the state agency, when many of their troubles actually occur on the local level. Vincunas agreed that local restrictions are often problematic.

“Some towns have become a little more sophisticated in what they’re looking for, and they demand a lot more from developers than they used to in engineering, drainage, and flood runoff control,” Vincunas explained.

“It’s not that these regulations weren’t already out there, but towns didn’t have the staff and the know-how to enforce a lot of things. Now, depending on the town, you may have a very sophisticated staff that wants it all done by the book, and then some.”

Rahkonen suggested local restrictions wind up driving the price of house lots higher, making it more difficult for a young couple to get into a home.

“If you go to the local Conservation Commission and want to put up a garage, you have to hold your breath,” he said. “But there’s no arguing with the green side, because the green side is always right.”

Environment for Change

French said the state’s emphasis on protecting endangered species is analogous to efforts in every state to protect wetlands.

“As a society, we have decided that wetlands have value, and the same is true with rare species,” he said. “The idea is not to stifle development, but to develop in a logical and planned way, so we can have our development but keep our species, too. You don’t want to lose out on either.”

Still, at a time when project costs for materials and labor have been on the rise, said Vincunas, the state’s environmental gauntlet is a tough added burden to bear, as are tougher requirements for handicapped access, signage, and fire codes.

“We used to put in sprinklers,” he said. “Now, you need sprinklers, monitoring, pull stations, horns, strobes — three times as much fire protection as you needed 10 years ago.

“It’s the same building we would have built 10 years ago,” he added, “but the construction is more difficult now, and product costs are mounting, all of which makes a new building a lot more expensive than it used to be.”

It also doesn’t help, noted Marois, that help is harder to come by in construction today.

“People are losing interest in this profession,” he said. “The whole complexion of the industry seems to be changing. We have to change, too. We have to become more proficient, minimize overheads, certainly take advantage of all the new computer technology, and even outsource more work to specialty contractors.”

Still, there’s plenty of building left to be done, even if environmental regulations have made it a more complex, costly proposition. So, no, the construction industry’s not going to the dogs.

But the box turtles seem happy.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
‘Hospital Hill’ Starts a New Life With a New Name
The coach house

The coach house on the Northampton State Hospital campus.

It’s a site with an intriguing and, in some ways, unfortunate past. But developers have reached a turning point at the former Northampton State Hospital, at which work can begin to create a new future for the sprawling campus — one centered on community and commercial growth.

Hospital Hill, the name given to development on the site of the former Northampton State Hospital on Route 66 in Northampton, can still send shivers up the spine.

It harkens back to a time when the sprawling campus served as a state-run, residential facility for the mentally ill, in its early years referred to as the lunatic asylum.

Hospital Hill’ also lends some intrigue to the original buildings that still stand on the site, resplendent in brick, but strangled by vines and overgrowth.

But now, the property’s developers want to do away with that reputation with a new name that illustrates a vision for the future, not a vestige of the past.

“It’s a new day on the site,” said Richard Henderson, executive vice president for Real Estate with Mass-Development, the state’s finance and development authority, charged with developing most of the state hospital project. “We respect its history, but we certainly don’t want people shuddering.”

The transfer of ownership of the campus and buildings from the state Division of Capital Asset Management to Hospital Hill Development, a partnership of Mass-Development and The Community Builders, was finalized in 2002. The 126-acre site is in now the midst of a multi-tiered redevelopment project that includes 207 residential units, many of them affordable, including 26 single-family homes and 33 units at the newly built Hilltop Apartments, which are fully leased. 476,000 square feet of commercial space is also being developed for retail, light manufacturing, and office use.

But while the development arm of the project bears the common, locally recognized moniker of Hospital Hill, Henderson said otherwise the term is being consciously phased out. “Hospital Hill is not formal. We’ve settled on ‘Village Hill,’ because we’re trying to create a real village feel that is very much a part of Northampton.”

Tear Down the Walls

Part of that rebirth on the site has included the removal of many of its existing buildings, including the largest and most famous landmark, the primary hospital building on the north campus known as ‘Old Main.’

“This is a complex site that was encumbered by a lot of old buildings that were not suitable for new uses,” said Henderson. “We have saved some of them, but most had to come down at great expense, and that certainly is a unique aspect to this project as opposed to many others.”

In fact, he said, demolition of the original buildings was the biggest challenge developers have had to overcome to date.

“The age made them challenging,” he said. “The oldest parts were in poor condition and had started to collapse, and there were asbestos issues in some areas.”

The original buildings that still stand on the site could also pose problems at a later date, he said, but at this time four are slated to remain, including a building that once housed employees, and the south campus portion of the hospital, which, with its wide hallways and small, cell-like rooms, won’t lend itself easily to modern use.

“Certainly, people are attached to the old buildings,” said Henderson. “Some folks in the community wanted to see Old Main stay, and anyone who walks on the campus now sees these beautiful old buildings and would like to believe they could be saved.

“What people need to understand, though, is that they’re extremely difficult to reuse, if at all. Any reuse will depend on market demands, and the ultimate cost of renovations.”

Empty Spaces

Henderson said now, in the wake of several costly demolition projects, it’s not so much what still stands on the site, but rather what isn’t there, that is most notable.

The removal of Old Main, for instance, opened up one of the largest areas on the campus to redevelopment.

“Development on the north campus is the next thing that will be happening,” said Henderson. “And on the south campus, structures have been taken down to construct a road and commercial space.”

He added that the entire site is at a key turning point, at which reuse of the property can begin. It’s an exciting time, he said, but not one without its challenges.

“It’s a complex plan, trying to create a true village where people both live and work,” he said. “Therefore, it’s unlike most developments that are usually residential or commercial. We’re trying to mix the two — some in newly built buildings, and some in old buildings. That said, the site has numerous infrastructure needs on the campus and on the roads surrounding it. But the work that must be done is finally becoming a reality.”

He said the development partners are currently waiting for subdivision approval on the north campus, which is expected later this summer. Once approved, construction will begin on a new road to serve the site’s residential parcels, both those currently completed and those still on the drawing board. Nearby Earle Street will also be rehabbed as part of the project.

As for the residential construction, Henderson said building will be focused first on market-rate housing, including apartments, single-family homes, and townhouses, and as the projects continue to move forward, a mix of market-rate and affordable housing will follow.

To develop a new look and feel on the site, Henderson noted that examples of several architectural styles seen throughout Northampton have been collected, and will be incorporated in varying degrees at Village Hill.

“There are four predominant styles — Colonial, Greek Revival, Victorian, and Craftsman,” he said. “Those styles will be updated for today, but we’re definitely cueing off of and learning from them, and we think incorporating the looks of the town in the project will further strengthen its ties to the community.”

Another Brick

In another effort to strengthen those bonds with the town, Henderson said MassDevelopment and The Community Builders are working closely with Northampton officials and residents to accommodate growth of existing businesses at Village Hill, and also to attract new businesses.

“There is appropriate space for light manufacturing uses on Earle Street,” he said, “and we’d also like to see a variety of commercial uses, including a small amount of retail.”

Teri Anderson, economic development coordinator for Northampton, expounded on the town’s hopes for commercial development at Village Hill, citing a number of industry clusters it will target, including medical devices and instrumentation, technology manufacturing, printing and publishing, and software development.

“Up to 5% of the square footage can be general professional office or retail space,” she said. “This is intended to encourage offices and retail uses that will support the residential and industrial development on the site, rather than compete with other commercial centers in Northampton.”

Further, Anderson said those sectors represent salary ranges and career path benchmarks that are appropriate for the region and its projected growth, and will create an anticipated 400 to 800 new jobs.

The commercial portion of the project is slated to begin this year and, like the residential side of the venture, will continue for several years.

“The anticipated final build-out is about 337,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space,” Anderson said. “The redevelopment of the former state hospital is the largest economic development project in the city at this time. It’s expected to generate almost $500,000 per year in tax revenues for the city annually.”

Henderson added that, despite the long construction schedule, the newly cleared open space and more concrete plans for specific projects have paved the way for a more quickly moving construction phase.

“We’re really poised for the next move,” he said. “We’re waiting for a few things to fall into place on the south campus, but otherwise, this is it — we’re ready to go, and we’re excited.”

The Show Must Go On

In the coming years, some of the challenges developers must face will center on infrastructure concerns, such as roadway construction — six are planned — and the installation of new utilities.

“Marketing is another challenge,” said Henderson, returning to some of the old perceptions of the site and the work underway to change them.

“We’re gearing up now for a marketing and branding strategy for the site that speaks to some of the more exciting aspects of the project. This is a great conceptual plan on a beautiful site — it has breathtaking views, it’s well-located, within walking distance of downtown — and it’s part of a great community.”

And years from now, perhaps, people will say that’s how Village Hill was born.

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
A Guide to Some of the Latest Trends in Personal Health Technology

There was a time when the only medical technology we used to keep ourselves healthy was a thermometer.

Those days are over, however, and personal technology in particular has taken on a new role in the wellness market. More than ever, new products are being introduced to the marketplace that tout a wide array of health benefits, from assisting with weight management to promoting better sleep, or preventing illness down the road.

In this issue, Business-West looks at some of the emerging trends in this sector, and some of its newest product offerings.

Calories In, Calories Out


Caltrac Calorie Meter

Losing weight and keeping it off is arguably the most pressing health issue facing Americans today, and new technology can be used effectively to help keep dieters on track.

Following on the heels of the pedometer, a largely successful and accessible gadget of late that records a wearer’s number of footsteps each day, calorie meters are receiving more attention as a similar device that provides even more relevant information for people watching their weight. Just about the size of a pedometer,

calorie meters like those made by Caltrac measure calorie burn. Every two minutes, the unit calculates how many calories have been expended throughout the day, even while resting, or during a specific activity such as running, walking, or even doing housework.

After entering weight, height, age, and gender, the wearer clips the calorie meter onto a belt or waistband. The Caltrac includes an LCD readout that displays calories burned, as well as navigating through special settings for cycling, stair climbing, elliptical trainers, and weight training.

What’s more, calorie counters are relatively inexpensive; the Caltrac retails for about $55, and other manufacturers make less expensive models;www.muscledynamics.net

Save the Weight


Nintendo Wii

Electronic devices like calorie meters help dieters monitor their progress at all times during the day, but sometimes, more sophisticated planning and recording is necessary.

Professionals pressed for time already benefit from organizational software including Microsoft Outlook programs and time-management software such as Base Camp, so perhaps it’s not surprising that weight management now has its own computer-based program as well.

Weight-By-Date Pro, developed by Quite Healthy Technologies of Apex, N.C., includes a weight-loss calendar to track progress; a food diary that automatically provides calorie, protein, and carbohydrate amounts, among other variables; a health and fitness journal that tracks body measurements; and a series of charts that illustrate progress on several levels.

The program can also be synchronized with a mobile phone or PDA for convenience. Both CD-ROM packages and Web-based downloads of Weight-By-Date start at $37.

Quite Healthy is also developing a second software program for tracking health statistics, this one tailored for diabetics. DiabeteSense will provide a computer-based program to help control blood glucose levels and weight, and potentially prevent long-term problems; www.quitehealthy.com

Gaming to Glory?


Hemetrics HydrAlert

Following that move toward round-the-clock fitness, formerly stationary types of recreation such as video games are also throwing their controllers into the ring.

We’ve all seen the lines that form around the holidays in front of electronics retailers and big-box stores once the latest and greatest gaming system has hit the shelves.

Few can doubt the popularity of video games, but they have come under scrutiny in recent years due to rising obesity rates among Americans, especially children, and the role television- and computer-based activities might play in that trend.

One of the industry’s largest contenders, however, Japanese manufacturer Nintendo, has been touting the health benefits of its latest invention, the Wii gaming console.

While the company makes no specific medical claims regarding the Wii, the benefits of video games that require physical activity, such as the popular arcade game Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), have already been noticed by health experts and the media, even spawning a new term: exergaming.

Indeed, Wired magazine recently reported that a 180-pound man can burn about 842 calories lifting weights for an hour and a half, and 900 calories playing DDR for one hour.

The Wii (found at most major retailers for about $200) uses specially designed controllers called ‘Wiimotes’ that players use to mimic the movements of various activities and sports, such as tennis, golf, boxing, or fishing, and also burn calories; 30 minutes of Wii Boxing, for instance, burns about 250 calories, the same amount as a half-hour of aerobics.

Building on the existing success of the console and to expand its reach into other markets, including older players and women, Nintendo has been focusing much of its marketing and sales efforts on this health-related angle.

Currently, the company is mulling the possibility of expanding the Wii’s equipment offerings to include biofeedback options, such as blood pressure and pulse rate monitors, and is adding new games that require even more movement;www.wii.com

Water, Water Everywhere

Personal monitoring goes well beyond the weight-loss realm, however. Devices like calorie and heart-rate meters are indeed helping many people battle the bulge, but another gadget now in development promises to keep an electronic eye on another important fitness variable.

The HydrAlert, created by MIT medical device start-up Hemetrics, monitors a body’s hydration level. It’s a hand-held product that measures the concentration of sodium ion in the blood, which is known to help detect dehydration as well as overhydration. Similar to a glucose meter, the HydrAlert requires that a small drop of blood be placed on a test strip and inserted into the device. The units are being marketed to health care professionals, nursing homes, and medical centers currently, and price at about $800;mitinnovations.com

Time Is on Your Side


Phillip Stein Teslar Watch

Further, many people are looking to make their fitness regimens just one part of a better quality of life overall, which includes restful sleep and a healthy immune system. One intriguing product, dubbed the ‘feel-good watch,’ is attempting to help people achieve that peace of mind.

High-end watchmaker Phillip Stein has entered the health care market with its acclaimed line of Teslar watches, retailing for between $500 and $2,000. Teslar timepieces come equipped with a special chip designed to block electromagnetic fields emanated by cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices. The technology has many fans, including Oprah Winfrey, who recently gave the watches her ‘One of Oprah’s Favorite Things’ seal of approval, and its developers claim that Teslar can lead to a stronger immune system, more restful sleep, and increased energy levels;www.phillipstein.com

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Another gadget that touts its benefits as a sleep aide is the Verilux TwiLight Ultra Blue Light Sleep Therapy System, which was conceived in part using NASA-developed research.

The light (about $80) uses ‘flicker elimination technology’ to provide an even, soft glow approximating moonlight. Blue light is thought to improve a person’s sleep patterns by re-setting Circadian rhythms when used by the bedside for 30 minutes;www.veriluxstore.com

Air Apparent

The TwiLight is also small and light enough to travel with, and more people travel globally today than ever before.

But a restful night’s sleep is always difficult with a sinus infection or a cold, and a greater number of people are also getting acquainted with one of air travel’s most formidable foes — illnesses caused by poor air quality in airplane cabins.

The FDA has certified a portable air filter called the Plane Clean, which mounts to the small air vent above your seat and removes about 99.5% of allergens, bacteria, and viruses.

The filter is more effective than oral immune-system boosters and less conspicuous than masks, and is also inexpensive — the units are available at Target and Amazon.com for about $20.

On the Home Front

It’s not just on walkabout that worries about preventing illness will crop up, though.

A suite of products is now targeting the cleanliness and health of the home, too — inventions like Halo Technologies’ Ultraviolet Vacuum, which retails for $399 and up.

Ultraviolet light can be used to clean domestically because it kills mold, dust mites, bacteria, and even viruses. As carpets generally cover more than 70% of floor space in U.S. homes and are rarely, if ever, disinfected, they contain the highest concentration of germs and allergens in the home.

With that in mind, and with asthma and allergy rates on the rise among American children in particular, Halo created the first ultraviolet vacuum on the market;www.halocompany.com

A Brave New World

With such a wide gamut of wellness-related products to choose from, consumers today are hard-pressed to find any reason not to incorporate technological tools into their own health regimens.

The days of the thermometer as the only medical gizmo in the home are far behind us, but more important could be what lies ahead, as people become more hooked into their health and wellness.

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at[email protected]

Sections Supplements
As Recent Cases Show, Non-compliance Penalties Are Severe

As home improvement construction begins to slow, contractors may turn to public works projects or state-funded contracts in order to keep working. But contractors must maintain strict compliance with the Mass. Prevailing Wage Program because offenses are extremely costly and offenders are likely to be caught.

In fact, each incident of employee wage underpayment or submission of false certification or employee classification is a separate and distinct violation of the law. For example, if a state project took 50 weeks to complete, and the employer submitted false certifications for each week, that would constitute a minimum of 50 violations that the attorney general could prosecute.

The Mass. Prevailing Wage Program is run by the Mass. Division of Occupational Safety, which in turn issues prevailing wage schedules to cities, towns, counties, districts, authorities, and agencies of the Commonwealth for construction projects and several other types of public work. The Office of the Attorney General is empowered with the authority to enforce the prevailing wage program and compliance with its rules and regulations.

While the notion of working on state contracts is enticing because a contractor will surely be paid, the prevailing wage program can be a perilous journey if a contractor or employer does not comply with the state law. When awarded a public works project, a contractor must keep a record of each individual employed on the project, including their name, address, and occupational classification.

In addition, a contractor must keep records of the hours worked by, and the wages paid to, each employee. A contractor, subcontractor, or public body is required to preserve its payroll records for a period of three years from the date of completion of the public works contract. In addition, the contractor is required to make available to the attorney general or his representative, upon his request, a copy of that record, signed by the employer or his authorized agent under the threat of penalties of perjury.

In addition, the contractor must properly classify each employee under prevailing wage. Numerous cases and appeals have been filed regarding the classification of workers. For example, the classification of carpenter draws images of an individual working with wood, installing and constructing cabinets or framing walls. However, the classification can also include workers who install and bolt freestanding wardrobes and athletic lockers onto concrete bases and also those who bolt heavy-duty corridor lockers to wood bases.

Employers may classify certain individuals as laborers instead of carpenters because they are simply hauling debris, cleaning the site, or hauling material to the site. If an employee/laborer picks up a hammer or wrench and begins bolting free-standing wardrobes, the employee’s classification changes from laborer to carpenter. In so doing, the labor has also changed in accordance with the prevailing wage schedule, and the employer may have violated the prevailing wage program by paying that employee the laborer’s rate instead of the carpenter’s rate.

Rate fixing and shaving is a very tempting proposition for employers in light of growing costs and expenses associated with materials, and this is a way for contractors to increase profits on a prevailing wage job. For example, a contractor may classify all of its workers at a laborer’s rate of $28 per hour when the employees are actually performing carpentry work and should be paid at the prevailing wage rate of $35 per hour. During the course of the job, the $7 difference between the two rates will certainly add up and increase the employer’s profit margin. Since the attorney general keeps a watchful eye on the conduct of contractors working on state and municipal contracts, this activity will surely lead to an inquiry by the Office of the Attorney General.

Depending on the nature of the violation, a contractor may face a civil citation, criminal penalties, or a requirement that restitution be paid to the aggrieved parties. Typically, the prevailing-wage violation would first be analyzed in terms of a willful or non-willful violation. Massachusetts law provides that any employer, contractor, or subcontractor who willfully violates the prevailing wage program will be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than one year for a first offense. A subsequent willful offense is subject to a fine of not more than $50,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than two years.

For a non-willful violation, the penalty includes a fine of not more than $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months for the first offense and a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year. The penalty may also include a requirement that the employer pay restitution to employees for underpayment or misclassification, and the attorney general may issue enough citations to preclude the contractor from submitting bids for or otherwise doing public works projects again.

While state or municipal contract work may be lucrative and rewarding, the prevailing-wage law does not make exceptions for violators. It is advisable for contractors to seek the advice of counsel in the event that the attorney general commences an investigation or the contractor believes he may be in violation.

Kevin V. Maltby, Esq., is an associate with Bacon & Wilson, P.C. He is a former prosecutor for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office with extensive jury trial and courtroom experience. His practice concentrates on litigation, employment, and family matters. He also handles personal injury and product liability; (413) 781-0560;kmbacon-wilson.com.

Sections Supplements
Complementary Medicine Gains Mainstream Acceptance
Bridget Griffin Thompson

Bridget Griffin Thompson said market demand is partly responsible for the inception and subsequent growth of Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Center for Complementary Therapies.

Progress has been slow in coming, but the words are nonetheless proving prophetic.

Almost a decade ago, Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, wrote in that publication that, “since many alternative remedies have recently found their way into the medical mainstream, there cannot be two kinds of medicine, conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work.

“Once a treatment has been tested rigorously,” she continued, “it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted.”

That acceptance has been slow in coming, to be sure, but once-fringe therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and herbal treatments have gained a significant foothold in the American health system, to the point that many proponents reject the term ‘alternative medicine,’ instead preferring the more inclusive ‘complementary medicine.’ Even hospitals are starting to come around.

Consider Cooley Dickinson Hospital, one of the few in Massachusetts to offer a complimentary medicine program in-house. After launching its Center for Complementary Therapies in 2004 with therapeutic massage, prenatal and postpartum massage, and Reiki, the program recently added acupuncture, aromatherapy, healing touch, healing music, and self-hypnosis/guided imagery to its roster of services.

Bridget Griffin Thompson, coordinator of Complementary Therapies and Women’s Health at CDH, said the hospital is simply responding to the needs and desires of its constituency and embracing an admittedly slow-moving trend toward such services in the hospital setting. She cited Hartford Hospital and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York among those facilities that have institutionalized alternative-healing methods.

“It’s consumer-driven,” Thompson said. “Interest been growing for some time, and we’ve formalized it over the last couple of years. Since then, we’ve added a lot of different modalities and started integrating it into our inpatient population.”

Then there’s Dr. Deborah Hoadley, who operates the Heron Pond Health & Wellness practice in Longmeadow, taking an integrative, mind-body approach to programs in chronic disease, weight loss, general wellness, and her specialty, Lyme disease . She mentioned Lyme disease as an ideal milieu for modalities such as meditation and massage, when conventional doctors typically treat it with antibiotics only.

“Any patient who has ongoing symptoms can benefit from the mind-body approach,” Hoadley said. “That’s because stress hormones increase the production of free radicals, which are molecules that contribute to inflammation in the body. Therefore, any medical condition that has an inflammatory component will benefit from stress-reduction techniques.”

This month, BusinessWest examines some of the factors driving the growth of complementary medicine in traditional settings — and what barriers to further growth still exist.

Growing Influence

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine estimates that more than half of all U.S. adults have sought treatment in non-traditional modalities, with the majority using them in conjunction with traditional medicine — lending support to the term ‘complementary.’

Cooley Dickinson’s growing program, Thompson said, first grew out of childbirth education, with expectant parents desiring more control over their own health decisions and, as a result, seeking innovative models for childbirth care. Thompson soon discovered that patients across the health care spectrum were becoming more open to non-traditional care, but were unsure how to ask for it.

In the past, she explained, patients who had received complementary care or were simply interested in it were reluctant to share that information with their regular doctor. “Today, I’m finding that people want to be a partner with their practitioner. It’s important for consumers to talk to their doctors, to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Too often, Dr. Harvey Lederman said, that page is being written by the wrong authors.

“We have a medical model in this country that’s increasingly driven by the pharmaceutical industry’s demand for profits, where most data is generated for the purpose of marketing instead of caring for patients,” said Lederman, who incorporates non-traditional herbal and nutritional treatments at Pioneer Valley Family Medicine in Northampton.

That pharmaceutical influence, he explained, poses a trap for doctors who want to stay abreast of the newest medical information but find that much of it is paid for by drug companies. He noted, for example, that 80% of medical research is now funded by such firms, when 30 years ago, 80% of it was paid for by academic medical institutions.

“Even the most prestigious journals present what they want me to read. So the more knowledgeable a physician is, the more influenced he is by the pharmaceutical industry.”

The good news, in Lederman’s opinion, is that consumers seem to be ahead of doctors when it comes to being open to treatment alternatives not promoted by major drug makers.

“Patients intuitively know what they want,” he said, noting that they’re increasingly using the computer to research alternatives to industry-backed pharmaceuticals.

“They see alternative treatments as an adjunct to conventional treatment, not something that will replace it.” That’s partly why vitamins and herbs are the fastest-growing segment of complementary health, he added, although modalities such as acupuncture and Reiki are gaining more acceptance as well.

“I tend to use certain nutrients and herbs in my practice, and I hook patients up with other treatments that might be helpful to them. You can’t be an expert on everything,” he said. “But the very fact that you’re receptive to alternative medicine, I think, makes you a draw for patients who don’t want their doctor to be closed-minded about all this.”

In the meantime, he hopes patients develop some skepticism about what they’re hearing from drug companies, and want to do their own research. “That’s certainly an appropriate reaction,” he said. “You can’t turn on the TV or read a magazine without being bombarded with new diseases that are only diseases because someone has a new drug to treat them.”

Looking for Alternatives

Where Lederman focuses on herbals and vitamins, Thompson said her program puts more emphasis on other modalities. She said people shouldn’t see alternative health as being in competition with traditional modes, but as another spoke in the wheel of healing.

“It has been huge,” she said. “People are just so thankful for what we’re doing here. Many people have been accessing complementary therapy outside the hospital, so they’re excited that we have it here.”

Thompson noted that some patients would rather not enter a hospital by choice, while others are more comfortable being treated there because they know the licensing and training guidelines will result in a high standard of care.

Hoadley admitted that many patients are surprised that massage and yoga can affect the body’s response to Lyme disease and other conditions, but said they’re increasingly open to the idea.

“A large number of people are turning to complementary therapies,” Hoadley said. “We’re seeing more patients seeking an integrative approach to their health.”

The mainstream medical community, it seems, is paying attention.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at[email protected]

Features
With Pampered Pet Sitting, Animals Don’t Have to Ruff It
Candy Laflam

Candy Laflam greets one of her canine clients.

Face it: family vacations are no picnic for the family dog or cat.

Even conscientious kennels offer little beyond some fresh air, regular meals, and maybe a little playtime: a safe place for Fido or Fluffy, but nothing resembling home.

That’s why Candy Laflam asks: what’s wrong with leaving the pets at home?

Five years ago, Laflam started Pampered Pet Sitting to address a growing desire among pet owners to minimize vacation stress on both them and their furry kids by letting their dogs, cats, and other animals stay at home, with regular visits by trained sitters replacing the hard floor and unfamiliar cage of a crowded kennel.

“Some animals do much better in a kennel, so I would never criticize a kennel,” said Laflam. “But certain dogs do well at home, too, so there’s a definite need for this service.

“A lot of people don’t have children, and their pets are their children,” she added, “so they go above and beyond for their ‘kids.’”

The number of pet parents looking to pamper their pooch or puss is growing, too. Since being inspired by a college marketing class to launch this entrepreneurial enterprise, Laflam has seen her business — now based in Easthampton — become the largest pet-sitting operation in Western Mass. And with more than 400 clients and between 20 and 30 sits per day, it’s still growing.

“This is becoming very popular, and it amazes the heck out of me that it’s grown to where it has,” she told BusinessWest. “This was supposed to be a part-time job while I got my degree. I was going to be an accountant or a bookkeeper. Talk about the opposite happening.”

Paws in Her Plans

Speaking of that degree … Laflam doesn’t exactly have it yet. While working as a kennel manager at a veterinarian boarding facility, and halfway to earning a Business degree at Holyoke Community College, she was inspired by a marketing class to look into a career, pet sitting, that she had been learning about.
“I came to a crossroads and had to make a decision: do I finish my degree or start a business?” she said. “And I went this route.”

So her degree-completion efforts went to the dogs — for now. Laflam said she wants to finish that degree someday, but her success as a sitter has proven her decision five years ago to be correct. “I’m kicking butt in the pet-sitting industry,” she said. “I have the biggest sitting company out there. I have five employees at this point and a humongous territory.”

That last part wasn’t on the original business plan, however. “A lot of people know about it now, but five years ago, it was tough,” she said — partly because she originally intended to limit her territory to the Hilltowns region; she lives in Goshen and works as the animal control officer for that town as well as Chesterfield. But response to her service was sluggish there.

Fortunately, other areas, particularly Northampton and its surrounding communities, proved much more fertile. (The large number of childless gay and lesbian couples who treat their animals like children doesn’t hurt, Laflam added.) She’s expanded her base to cover much of Western Mass. and moved from a solo business model to one with several employees.

Whether a family goes away for a week or just overnight, Laflam offers a customized care plan, charging by the visit and working out in advance the amenities, from feeding to medication to on-leash walks. She and her sitters will also bring in mail and newspapers, water plants, empty dehumidifiers, alternate lights, and perform other tasks to ease a family’s peace of mind. Some families even opt for a sitter to stay overnight.

“This is less stressful to both the parent and the pet,” said Laflam, adding that her goal is to become part of a client’s family for the rest of the pet’s life. “They can call me about anything — referrals to vets, behavioral advice, whatever; I just want to be in their lives. I don’t want them to use me once and never again. I want to be in it for the long haul.”

Clicks and Licks

Laflam points to the launch of Pet Sitters International in the early 1990s as a development that increased the profile of her chosen career. That organization (www.petsit.com) now boasts more than 7,600 members in all 50 states, most Canadian provinces, and several other countries. Laflam said her own Web site,www.pamperedpetsitting.com, has been a major factor in her success.

“The Web is my friend,” she said. “Just by having my site up and running, allowing people to research what pet sitting is, we’re educating people.”

While the pet-sitting industry doesn’t require accreditation — although national organizations like Pet Sitting International are working to change that — Laflam said she makes sure her employees have as much training and certification as is available. Her completion of the American Red Cross pet first-aid course and requirement that all her employees do the same is just one of her strict guidelines for those looking to become part of the team.

When someone applies for a job, she said, “I talk to them to make sure we can work well together and they have the mentality I do. Then they fill out an application with questions like, ‘what would you do if a dog got away, or an alarm goes off, or a dog is sick?’ You have to have some general knowledge. If that comes back OK, I interview them to see if they’d be a good fit with me.”

A new employee trains beside Laflam for several days before being set free for solo sits. In a job where people open up their homes to a relative stranger, background checks for new employees are also a must.

“I want to go above and beyond with my staff,” she said, “so people can trust our judgments, knowing we have expertise behind them.”

Customers get a different sort of grilling, in the form of six pages of paperwork detailing everything from what the pet eats to where the trash can is. And although the vast majority of animals pose no problems, Laflam said she has had to turn away three potential clients over the years.

“If we have a meeting and the dog shows any aggression, we won’t do it,” she said, “because, if the dog acts that way when the owners are there, how will it be when they’re away? Still, people are pretty aware of their dogs’ personalities.”

The Purrfect Job

Even with her steady growth and potential for more, Laflam doesn’t see herself in competition with other sitters; in fact, she founded the Western Mass Pet Sitters Network as a way to link similar businesses, referring customers to each other and generally growing the awareness of pet sitting as an alternative to kenneling.

Meanwhile, she’s considering the potential for franchising the business someday, with her growth already forcing Pampered Pet Sitting out of her home last year and into office space on Route 10 in Easthampton. “I definitely outgrew my office, but this location has opened a lot of doors for me.”

Pet sitting also keeps her away from home — often for a week or more at a time. Her husband, three dogs, five cats, two guinea pigs, and two rats might not be crazy about that, but she’s not complaining.

“This has been great. I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur; I’d always worked for others,” she said. “But being my own boss, I don’t think I’d do anything other than this. To be around furry creatures all day — I don’t think anyone has a better job than me.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at[email protected]

Features

“Going green” is more than just a catchy slogan or marketing campaign.

To truly “go green” is to comply with a series of state, federal, and international laws and directives. Whether complying with a local ordinance pertaining to recycling or a European Union directive restricting the use of heavy metals in electronics, there are many signposts that can lead a business down the road to green.

While most companies turn to their marketing departments or consultants when they decide to go green, many are finding that their next call should be to their attorney or compliance department. With the world becoming a much smaller place thanks to the Internet and other technological breakthroughs, and the global marketplace becoming more and more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses, many are finding that it is not only U.S. laws that they need to concern themselves with, but also international treaties and directives.

With the business of green becoming more and more lucrative, governments around the world have begun to catch up with this trend by passing laws and implementing directives aimed at protecting the environment. Compliance with these laws and directives may be as straightforward as not dumping waste into rivers and streams, or as complicated as which heavy metals may or may not be used in the production of electronic devices.

In the U.S., most federal laws dealing with the environment date back to the 1970s. The Clean Air Act was passed in its original form in 1970 and amended in 1977 and 1990, while the original Clean Water Act was enacted in 1948 and took its current form in 1972. Most Americans take these laws for granted but do not understand the impact they have had on our environment.

While public health is the primary goal of both these laws (clean air to breathe and water to drink), there is no doubt that each has had a major impact on our environment. Since the passage of the Clean Air Act, lead emissions have dropped 98%, while emissions from sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide have been reduced by 35% and 32%, respectively.

The standards set by and regulations created by the Clean Water Act have resulted in many local success stories, including the Connecticut River being named an American Heritage River and Boston Harbor being transformed from a virtual cesspool into a body of water where striped bass and herring thrive.

U.S. laws should not be the only concern of businesses that wish to go green. Today, companies looking to capture a larger share of the market must look across the Atlantic Ocean when contemplating compliance with environmental standards. The European Union has adopted the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE).

The RoHS restricts the use of six hazardous substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated diphenyl ether in the manufacturing of electrical and electronic equipment. The WEEE directive sets collection, recycling, and recovery standards for electrical goods.

While these directives may seem far removed from the ordinary course of most small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., if those businesses place goods into European markets, they are absolutely affected. Each European Union member country is scheduled to enact its own legislation using RoHS and WEEE as its guide, so U.S. businesses will have to be attuned to individual countries’ restrictions and regulations as well.

The trend toward going green makes it likely that more and more states will adopt laws which promote recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally friendly products and services. For example, the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection is currently developing a Greenhouse Gas Registry in cooperation with other states across the country. This registry will create a uniform system for tracking and reporting emissions of greenhouse gases.

In Connecticut, a state law passed in 2006 requires that all new buildings costing more than $5 million that are financed with state funds must be constructed and designed in conformance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards set forth by the United States Green Building Council. As a result, contractors who bid on public projects must adhere to the LEED standards.

California’s Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 prohibits the sale of liquid crystal displays (LCD) and cathode ray tubes (CRT) that contain the heavy metals prohibited under the European Union’s RoHS. Other states have similar bans on mercury and related heavy metals and are considering the adoption of laws similar to California’s.

These laws and initiatives are just a handful of the local, federal, and international laws and directives with which companies must comply when placing their products and services into the local, national, and international stream of commerce. Companies large and small have found that mere compliance with these regulations is less profitable than implementing a company-wide philosophy of “green.”

By committing to business plans that embrace environmental protection and sustainability, companies have found that the cost of compliance has decreased and new markets have opened. For example, Xerox has teamed with The Nature Conservancy to ensure that Xerox’s paper is produced from trees from responsibly managed forests. In addition, MTV and Wal-Mart have joined forces to form “Everyday Green,” which is designed to educate consumers as to how to introduce environmentally-friendly products into their everyday lives.

As more and more states adopt laws that promote protection and sustainability of the environment, businesses will be forced to ensure that their processes and products comply with these laws, or risk losing out on market share.

As a result, businesses that position themselves ahead of the ‘green’ wave will thrive in this new environmentally-friendly marketplace.

Meanwhile, those who don’t look upon existing laws and regulations as a sign of what is to come may find themselves constantly playing catch-up, and as a result, unable to take advantage of the new opportunities such laws present.

While these initiatives may sound costly and idealistic, all signs point to a time when they will become the norm. The question becomes, which businesses will embrace the changes and which will be dragged there kicking and screaming?

Dennis G. Egan, Jr. is an associate with the regional law firm Bacon & Wilson, P.C, specializing in business and corporate law;[email protected]; 413-781-0560.

Opinion
UMass System Needs Independent Campuses

The debate about governance at the University of Massachusetts, motivated by President Jack M. Wilson’s vision for “one university,” has paid scant attention to the history of state university systems. Across the nation are experiments that enable us to draw conclusions about the elements necessary to achieve the highest level of educational excellence.

Massachusetts has a less mature state university system than some other states. Undoubtedly because of the large number of outstanding private colleges and universities located here, Massachusetts created a state university system relatively recently, in 1991, several decades after such systems were created in places like California, New York, Texas, and Illinois.

The experience of those states demonstrates that systems need to give considerable independence to individual campuses to achieve the best results. The University of California is a case in point.

Arguably the best state system of higher education in the country, its 10 campuses are parts of a single university and substantially independent. By contrast, states in which a single individual serves as chancellor of the flagship campus and president of the system, like Michigan, tend to have single-university systems in which the other campuses are clearly subordinate branches.

The University of California has repeatedly given greater independence and authority to its campuses. The system began in a form that resembles Wilson’s vision; the entire university was governed from Berkeley — its medical campus in San Francisco, its agricultural experiment stations in Davis and Riverside, and the outpost, the Southern Division of the University of California, later known as UCLA.

In the early 1950s, Berkeley and UCLA assumed greater independence with the creation of chancellors for the two campuses. When Clark Kerr became president of the university in 1958, he worked to realize a vision of nine independent campuses, each distinctive and excellent. In the eight years in which he served as president, he gave more independence to existing campuses and created new ones to form the group of universities we know today.

Kerr recognized that the independence of the campuses was essential to both realizing excellence and shaping distinctive identity. Change in large organizations is inherently difficult; anything that reduces bureaucracy and levels of governance makes them more nimble in responding to problems and opportunities.

urthermore, university governance, by its very nature, is highly participatory; you cannot motivate and accomplish change without an immediate relationship with the faculty.

To build collaboration among campuses with strong leaders and distinctive identities, one needs to institutionalize regular communication at every organizational level. At the same time that the University of California gave authority to the chancellors, it created annual systemwide conferences of students and faculty to build stronger unity among the campuses. It built systemwide councils for chancellors, provosts, vice chancellors, and faculty senate leaders.

What, then, is the systemwide role? The system, in extensive consultation with the campuses, should develop policies for the entire university in matters such as intellectual property, tenure and promotion, construction financing, compensation, and benefits. It should build community among the campuses, lobby for them, and help them achieve excellence.

There are few more important questions than the future of public higher education in Massachusetts. The state lacks a master plan for higher education, and it needs one. Such a plan would better ensure educational opportunity for its students. Its development must be a highly public process, conducted by a body with broadly representative and respected membership.

Only in such a public conversation can we arrive at wise decisions and policies with the legitimacy to guide higher education for decades to come. –

Carol T. Christ, former executive vice chancellor of the University of California- Berkeley, is president of Smith College. This article first appeared in the Boston Globe.