News

NEE Joins SWCA Environmental Consultants

April 29, 2016

NEE Joins SWCA Environmental Consultants

New England Environmental, Inc. has been acquired by SWCA Environmental Consultants, one of the country’s leading environmental compliance firms. Founded in 1981, SWCA focuses on planning, natural and cultural resource management, permitting, regulatory compliance, and water resources services for environmental projects throughout the United States and its territories.

This strategic alignment allows both SWCA and NEE to tap into broader expertise and resources, and better serve clients in New England and beyond. Together, we offer 35+ years of experience collaborating with public and private clients. 

NEE founders Michael (Mickey) J. Marcus and Julie Marcus will lead the SWCA Amherst office as Director of Business Development and Office Director, respectively. NEE will operate as a division of SWCA and maintain its current office and staff.

With the acquisition of NEE, SWCA has 31 offices across the United States and provides a full spectrum of environmental services focused on planning, natural and cultural resource management, permitting, regulatory compliance, water resources, and climate change consulting.

For more information about SWCA, visit www.swca.com. 

Final 4(d) rule for the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB)

January 24, 2016

Final 4(d) rule for the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB)

The long awaited Final 4(d) rule for the Northern Long-Eared Bat (NLEB) was published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Federal Register on January 14, 2016.   This new rule helps to clarify some of the requirements for habitat modification (tree-cutting), but it also leaves open questions regarding landowner and developer responsibilities and requirements to meet these rules for obtaining State and Federal Permits.  A general question and answer summary sheet has been provided by USFWS. https://www.fws.gov/Midwest/endangered/mammals/nleb/FAQsFinal4dRuleNLEB.html

In summary, the new rules put a greater emphasis on the protection of hibernacula and maternity roost nest trees. There is less broad protection of forest clearing activities or “incidental” take of bats, but a strong suggestion that projects continue to conduct site specific bat surveys.   USFWS will recognize project developers who make “reasonable efforts to determine whether there are known maternity roost trees or hibernacula on their property or project area….”   They encourage project developers to “ document your attempt to find the information and move forward with your project”.   

USFWS does not require private landowners to conduct bat surveys; however, they suggest that “surveys can reduce uncertainties and facilitate project planning”.  Based on the 2015 interim rule and the 2016 final rule clarifications, NEE believes that project developers should continue to conduct  bat surveys to meet due project diligence requirements so that there are no delays in the issuance of state permits, or the issuance of the EPA construction general permit for site construction.  A link to the USFWS website is provided here for more information about bats, their range, and habitat protection efforts. 

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/mammals/nleb/

To reserve your 2016 bat survey dates, or for more information about NEE bat acoustic monitoring and ecological services,  please contact Dr. Steve Johnson sjohnson@neeinc.com

Colleen Puzas Joins NEE as Associate Wetland Scientist

August 13, 2015

Colleen Puzas Joins NEE as Associate Wetland Scientist

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) is pleased to announce that Colleen Puzas has joined the company as an Associate Wetland Scientist. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Colleen holds an OSHA 40 hour HAZWOPER certification and is working towards her Wetland Professional in Training (WPIT). Colleen has experience in environmental permitting, wetland & ecological surveys, wetland mitigation, erosion and sedimentation control compliance, and monitoring of storm water systems.

Colleen can be reached at our Amherst, MA office at cpuzas@neeinc.com or at 413-256-0202.

NEE Welcomes MassCEC Energy Intern Anthony Damiano

August 13, 2015

NEE Welcomes MassCEC Energy Intern Anthony Damiano

Anthony Damiano has joined NEE through an internship program funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Anthony work is primarily focused site selection, permitting and inspection of NEE's many renewable energy projects.

NEE Welcomes Becky Barber

August 13, 2015

NEE Welcomes Becky Barber

Becky Barber has joined NEE as Office Manager. Becky comes to NEE with many years of Office Administration experience.  Becky replaces Brenda Schultz, who held this position for many years before her retirement in June.

Jeff Dawson joins NEE as Ecological Designer

August 13, 2015

Jeff Dawson joins NEE as Ecological Designer

New England Environmental, Inc. is pleased to announce that Jeffrey Dawson has joined the company as an Ecological Designer in the Landscape Architecture and Ecological Design department.  He received a MS in Ecological Design from The Conway School and a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic. 

Jeffrey can be reached at our Amherst, MA office at 413-256-0202 or at jdawson@neeinc.com.

Lori Johnson Publishes Research

August 12, 2015

Lori Johnson Publishes Research

Lori Johnson, Rare Species and GIS Specialist, recently co-authored Detecting long-term population trends for an elusive reptile species in the Journal of Wildlife Management. CLick here to read the abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.921/abstract

MassDEP issues New Underground Storage Tank (UST) Rules

February 16, 2015

MassDEP issues New Underground Storage Tank (UST) Rules

NEE attended the MassDEP UST Tank Program Workshop last month that rolled out the new 310 CMR 80.00 regulations.  These regulations address the design, construction, installation, registration, operation, maintenance and inspection of UST systems for virgin petroleum and hazardous chemicals.  With these regulations, the environmental aspects of the previous Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS) code (527 CMR 9.00) pertaining to USTs have been transitioned to the new MassDEP 310 CMR 80.00 regulations.   Commercial UST owners have many compliance dates to be wary of, the most significant being the requirement that all single-walled steel tanks must be removed by August 17, 2017.  Currently there are an estimated 9,700 USTs at about 4,500 commercial/industrial facilities in the Commonwealth.  Note that owners of farm or residential USTs with a capacity of less than 1,100 gallons are exempt from most requirements within the new UST regulations.  An overview of the new regulations is available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/toxics/ust/ust-fs15.pdf

Please contact Jack Jemsek, Ph.D., LSP with any UST related questions jjemsek@neeinc.com

Department of the Army General Permits for Massachusetts

February 16, 2015

Department of the Army General Permits for Massachusetts

The New England District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued General Permits for activities in Massachusetts subject to Corps jurisdiction effective February 4, 2015.  The General Permits are issued in accordance with Corps regulations at 33 CFR 320-332 [see 33 CFR 325.5(c)(1)].  The General Permits are intended to streamline Federal and state regulatory programs under the Clean Water Act.  The General Permits do not result in significant changes to how activities in waters of the U.S. are regulated compared to the previous General Permit, however, eligible work is organized into more activity-specific categories.

The new General Permits is available at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Portals/74/docs/regulatory/StateGeneralPermits/MAGPsFeb42015.pdf

Please feel free to contact Matt Nowak with any questions mnowak@neeinc.com

MassDEP issues Greener Cleanups Guidance

February 16, 2015

MassDEP issues Greener Cleanups Guidance

Traditional approaches to remediating a site have not necessarily considered the impact the cleanup actions may have on the environment through increased energy use, associated detrimental air emissions, adverse effects on natural resources and the generation of wastes.  NEE’s Assessment and Remediation Group is committed to practicing Greener Cleanup strategies, which are ideally achieved using risk-based approaches that minimize the environmental footprint of the cleanup solution.   Limiting significant risk to human health, safety, public welfare and the environment for the foreseeable future remains paramount for any historical contamination in Massachusetts.  However, early consideration of the environmental footprint of a cleanup can help lead to sustainable reuse or redevelopment of an impacted site, and will typically result in the most cost-effective cleanup alternative.  The MassDEP guidelines are available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/cleanup/laws/14-150.pdf.

Please contact Jack Jemsek, Ph.D., LSP with any MCP related questions jjemsek@neeinc.com

Revisions to MassDEP’s Wetlands, Waterways, and Water Quality Certification Regulations

February 16, 2015

Revisions to MassDEP’s Wetlands, Waterways, and Water Quality Certification Regulations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has promulgated wetlands and waterways regulatory revisions effective October 24, 2014.  The changes to the Wetland, Waterways (Chapter 91) and 401 Water Quality Certificate regulations are intended to save applicants, commissions, and MassDEP time and resources while maintaining fundamental environmental protections.  Changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Certain minor activities related to highway safety operation and maintenance work and utility work proposed solely in the buffer zone of wetland resource areas are now considered exempt. [310 CMR 10.02(2)(b)]
  • The construction of new access roadways, or the repair and replacement of an existing access roadways needed to transport equipment to renewable energy project sites may be permitted as a limited project.[310 CMR 10.53(3)(t) and 310 CMR 10.24(7)(c)(7)]
  • Stormwater management systems designed, constructed, and installed after November 18, 1996, the effective date of the Stormwater Policy, do not create jurisdictional resource areas or Buffer Zones.[310 CMR 10.02(2)(c)]
  • Regulation changes allow project proponents to file combined applications and allow MassDEP to issue combined permits under Chapter 91 and the 401 Water Quality Certification regulations.[310 CMR 9.11 and 314 CMR 9.05(1)]
  • Ecological restoration projects whose primary purpose is to restore or otherwise improve the natural capacity of a resource area to protect and sustain the interest identified in the Wetland Protection Act, when such interests have been degraded or destroyed by anthropogenic influences, may undergo a streamlined permittingprocess for qualifying projects.

Additional information is available at the MassDEP website at:  http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/

Please feel free to contact Matt Nowak with any questions mnowak@neeinc.com

Snow Management and Stormwater BMP Maintenance

February 16, 2015

Snow Management and Stormwater BMP Maintenance

With significant snow cover and frozen soil conditions, active construction sites must be proactive in snow management and stormwater BMP maintenance.  A rain storm combined with the spring thaw could pose real threats to projects currently under construction.  The infiltration of rain and melted snow can be reduced dramatically if the soil below is frozen, producing runoff that causes erosion, contamination of surface waters, and flooding.  Poor snow/ice management and removal can lead to severe erosion and sediment transport off site resulting in potential resource area impacts.    

  • Recommendations to help avoid erosion issues during the winter:
  • Remove any snow piles adjacent to perimeter control and sensitive areas, thus reducing the volume of runoff that could overwhelm BMP’s 
  • Store snow in locations of low flow and where soil is stable  
  • Removed snow from temporary or permanent BMP’s such as swales & basins
  • Remove accumulated ice from swales, ditches, culverts, etc., to prevent flooding, erosion and adjacent damage
  • Stage a supply of straw bales, straw wattles, silt fence and erosion control blankets, wood grinding, and mulch in vulnerable locations prior to the forecasted rain for rapid deployment
  • Limit or prohibit machines from working adjacent to vulnerable areas prior to rain    
  • Warn personnel in advance of weather events that corrective actions may be necessary
  • Always document snow management measures, BMP maintenance and any corrective action

Please contact Ryan Joyce for more information rjoyce@neeinc.com

Kevin McCaffery, PE joins NEE

December 9, 2014

Kevin McCaffery, PE joins NEE

New England Environmental, Inc. is pleased to announce that Kevin A. McCaffery, PE has joined the company as a Civil Engineer in the Natural Resource Department.  He received a MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine and a BS in Environmental Science from SUNY-Plattsburgh.  He has been working as a consulting engineer for over 10 years for both public and private clients.

He specializes in surface water analysis and design, with extensive experience in stormwater management, river hydraulics and restoration, watershed planning, dams, and hydroelectric facilities.  Kevin is a licensed engineer in most of the New England states plus New York, he will be supporting NEE’s engineering needs and working to build their capabilities in this sector.

GPS (Goat Positioning System)

December 9, 2014

GPS (Goat Positioning System)

NEE professional wetland scientist Bruce Griffin gets some help from a friendly goat in GPS locating a new shed at Tomten Farm and Sanctuary in Bolton, MA.

Andrew Bohne to Speak at ASLA Annual Meeting

October 30, 2014

Andrew Bohne to Speak at ASLA Annual Meeting

Andrew Bohne, ASLA, LEED AP,  to Speak at ASLA Annual Meeting November 24, Denver Colorado.  "A Critical Look at Retrofitting Suburbia"

Andrew Bohne is a Vice President at New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) and has over fifteen years of experience working at multi-disciplinary Landscape Architecture firms, directing, managing, and supporting a variety of project types and scales throughout the country. At NEE, his work focuses on sustainability as it relates to natural resources and stormwater management in urban and suburban cores. Mr. Bohne has worked on numerous projects with Urban Designers, Planners, Architects and Landscape Architects, looking at how green infrastructure can be incorporated into projects at all levels ranging from conceptual design to final installation. Recently, Mr. Bohne has been working in multiple communities with Urban Designers and Planners on the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Project aimed at flood recovery and resiliency. His work has included analyzing and designing solutions to help communities become flood resilient, often recommending that areas with less sustainable development patterns be retrofitted to take on more urban forms while utilizing green infrastructure. Mr. Bohne is a frequent speaker about the negative impact development patterns have had on our natural ecosystem, and the range of effective green infrastructure solutions that can help reverse this trend.

http://ww5.aievolution.com/asl1401/index.cfm?do=ev.viewEv&ev=1373

NEE’s Recent SCUBA Projects

May 16, 2014

NEE’s Recent SCUBA Projects

NEE aquatic biologists have recently worked on numerous projects that required multiple days of SCUBA diving. Projects in VT, MA, and CT involved surveying for and relocating rare freshwater mussels, and a project on Martha’s Vineyard, involved relocating marine shellfish from under a bridge construction area and assessing nearby eelgrass beds.

Last year our biologists found and relocated over 1,300 individuals from six species of state-protected freshwater mussels, including Tidewater Mucket (Leptodea ochracea), Yellow Lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa), Pocketbook (Lampsilis ovata), Fluted-shell (Lasmigona costata), Giant Floater (Pyganodon grandis), and Cylindrical Papershell (Anodontoides ferussacianus). This last species had not previously been recorded in the section of river we surveyed. Each mussel was marked with a numbered identification tag, allowing us to follow the progress of the relocated mussels over time.

Meanwhile, on Martha’s Vineyard NEE biologists moved over 4000 marine shellfish, predominantly bay scallops (Argopecten irradians). Because most of this work was done in an area with strong tidal currents, our divers had to time each dive to coincide with slack tides and work as efficiently as possible. In addition to bay scallops, the divers moved a wide variety of marine organisms, including quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), slipper shell (Crepidula fornicata), jingle shell (Anomiidae), and cockle shell (Cardiidae).

To assess the potential impacts to nearby eelgrass beds and collect baseline data on pre-construction conditions, our biologists conducted a quantitative survey of the potential impact area. Submersible quadrats were arranged in a random sample of the area, and individual plants stem counted to calculate plant densities.

MA DEP 2014 MCP Final Amendment- “Unofficial Version”

May 16, 2014

MA DEP 2014 MCP Final Amendment- “Unofficial Version”

The long awaited 2014 MCP Final Amendments have been released. Though most provisions do not take effect until June 20, 2014, parts of the regulation went into effect on April 25, 2014.  The “Unofficial Version" is available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/cleanup/regulations/site-cleanup-regulations-and-standards.html#6

Please contact Jack Jemsek with a MCP related questions jjemsek@neeinc.com

Court Rules In Favor of MassWildlife

May 16, 2014

Court Rules In Favor of MassWildlife

After eight years, a petition challenging the authority of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) to protect areas deemed as “Priority Habitat” for State-listed plant and animal species ended in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on February 18th, 2014. This case called into question whether the process for regulating rare species habitat is supported by the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). The court ruled in favor of MassWildlife, acknowledging its legal authority to designate priority habitat and protect species listed as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern.

Since 1990, MESA authorizes MassWildlife to protect rare species (Endangered, Threatened, and Species of Special Concern) and their habitats to the greatest extent possible by prohibiting human interference or “Take” of these species and their habitat. Take is defined as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, hound, kill, trap, capture, collect, process, disrupt the nesting, breeding, feeding or migratory activity” of animals, and to “collect, pick, kill, transplant, cut or process” plants.

The MESA statute authorizes the Division to designate "Significant Habitat" for Endangered and Threatened species, where most types of development would not allowed, and to “adopt any regulations necessary” to implement MESA. Because of the strict regulations associated with the protection of significant habitat and because MassWildlife needed a way to protect Special Concern species, it developed priority habitat as a secondary habitat designation to regulate impacts to habitat of all State-listed species. The petitioners asserted that priority habitat designations exceed the authority granted to MassWildlife, and that landowners do not receive the same protections granted to those whose property has been designated as significant habitat. These protections include advance written notice that the land is being considered for significant habitat designation, public hearings prior to any designation decisions, habitat designations must be recorded in the registry of deeds, and landowners may file an action to the Superior Court to determine if compensation is required.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that priority habitat regulations do not offer landowners these protections, but went on to state that overall the regulations impose less severe burdens on priority habitat landowners compared to significant habitat, and that MESA gives MassWildlife the authority to formulate “priority habitat concepts as a means of implementing MESA’s prohibition on takes”.  According to the court findings, priority habitat regulations allow MassWildlife to “preempt otherwise irreparable harm to habitats” and “serve to implement the existing statutory provision prohibiting takes of State-listed species, which is critical to the operation of MESA as a whole”. The current regulations enable MassWildlife to review all development projects within priority habitat on a case-by-case basis and, as a result, landowners may be required to avoid or mitigate for the take of State-listed species or their habitat.

NEE continues to offer landowners and developers guidance during the MESA filing process. NEE’s Rare Species and Wildlife Biologists provide our clients with the expertise and experience needed to fulfill all permitting, monitoring, and other requirements for projects involving state-listed species in Massachusetts. If you have a project that may impact Priority Habitat or rare species, feel free to contact Steve Johnson (413-658-2010) to see how NEE can help you.

http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/education-events/masswildlife-news/masswildlife-news-march-2014.pdf

NEE Welcomes Dr. Steve Johnson, Senior Ecologist

June 11, 2013

NEE Welcomes Dr. Steve Johnson, Senior Ecologist

New England Environmental, Inc. is pleased to announce that Steve Johnson, Ph.D. has joined the company as a Senior Ecologist in the Natural Resource Department. He will be working with our Wildlife and Rare Species Division.  He received a Ph.D. in Biology from the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and he has been working in the environmental consulting industry for the past 20 years.  He specializes in rare species throughout the Northeast and has worked with a wide variety of taxa, including mussels, birds, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, and plants.  He has been responsible for preparing and carrying out rare survey protocols, preparing permits, conducting field research, GIS data collection and mapping, wildlife habitat evaluations, and report preparation.  Dr. Johnson is also an experienced SCUBA diver and has been completing freshwater mussel surveys throughout New England.

Steve can be reached at our Amherst, MA Office at 413-658-2010 or at sjohnson@neeinc.com.

Grassland Bird Surveys and Habitat Management Plans

June 11, 2013

Grassland Bird Surveys and Habitat Management Plans
Grassland Bird Surveys and Habitat Management Plans

Photo Credit: Scott Surner

NEE is currently conducting grassland bird surveys at project sites in Massachusetts for  both state-listed species and other grassland species that are in general decline throughout the region.  These species include Grasshopper Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark, Upland Sandpiper, and Bobolink.  As open areas of grassland habitat continue to decline, so do these species.  Grassland species often require up to 25 acres of open grassland or more, and due to habitat loss these areas are now limited primarily to landfills, pastureland, and airports.  NEE is working with our clients to implement management plans that avoid and minimize impacts to these birds during the breeding season.  For projects where work cannot be done outside the breeding season, NEE is locating nests and providing contractors with a plan to avoid the nest and area immediately surround the nest site so that fledglings and parent birds survive.  NEE is also working with land managers to implement mowing regimes and habitat management plans that avoid impacts during the nesting period and still achieve property management goals.  

Rock snot - Help stop contamination of our rivers

June 11, 2013

Rock snot - Help stop contamination of our rivers

Didymo (Rock Snot)

Rock Snot (Didymo) found has been found in Massachusetts for the first time.  This species of freshwater algae has been confirmed in the Green River in Berkshire County.   This algae affects stream and aquatic habitat, and is unpleasant for recreational uses. It forms a thick layer on stream beds and chokes out aquatic benthic insects. It is very easily spread by water, or on waders, clothing, or by boat.   It has been found in the Connecticut River near Pittsburg, NH and near Bloomfield Vermont in 2007, and in several NY rivers in 2007.   
For a copy of the full press release go to http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2013/didymo-discovery.html
 

Dr. Jack Jemsek, Vice President Site Assessment & Remediation

January 29, 2013

Dr. Jack Jemsek, Vice President Site Assessment & Remediation

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) of Amherst, MA is pleased to announce that Dr. Jack Jemsek has joined the company as a Vice President of the Site Assessment & Remediation Group.

Jack is a Massachusetts Licensed Site Professional (LSP), a Connecticut Licensed Environmental Professional (LEP), a Professional Geologist in New Hampshire and a Certified Geologist in Maine.  He has B.S. in Earth Science from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in Marine Geology and Geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography.

Jack has over 24 years of experience conducting environmental assessments, remedial investigations, hydrogeologic studies and environmental permitting.  He has been responsible for overseeing technical and regulatory aspects of environmental projects and project teams, directing and managing site investigations and risk characterizations, and designing and evaluating remedial actions for petroleum-contaminated, hazardous waste disposal and Brownfield sites throughout New England.  He has developed and/or applied groundwater flow, heat and mass transfer, natural attenuation and risk assessment models to enhance project results.  In addition to assessment and cleanup projects, Jack has also conducted hydrogeologic investigations and feasibility studies for water resource development/protection and wastewater disposal projects.

NEE is a full-service environmental consulting firm with nearly three decades of extensive in-house expertise in environmental assessment, restoration, and management.  Jack joins fellow NEE LSP Valerie Miller, and 30 other professional staff in the Amherst Office.

Jack can be reached at our Amherst Office, 413-256-0202 or at jjemsek@neeinc.com.

GreenSource Profiles NEE’s LEED Platinum Office

March 6, 2012

GreenSource, the Magazine of Sustainable Design, has selected NEE’s LEED Platinum office from their Platinum Profiles.

Christin McDonough, Certified Wildlife Biologist

March 5, 2012

Christin McDonough, Certified Wildlife Biologist

NEE, Inc. is pleased to announce that Christin McDonough has received her certification as a Certified Wildlife Biologist, a prestigious credential offered through The Wildlife Society. Christin has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of Rhode Island, respectively. Christin has over a decade of professional experience working with rare reptiles and amphibians in New England and has worked with several Massachusetts rare species including black rat snakes, eastern box turtles, blue-spotted salamanders, marbled salamanders, Blanding’s turtles, wood turtles, and eastern spadefoot toads. Christin's specialties include monitoring rare amphibians and reptiles of Massachusetts using multiple methodologies, along with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping. She conducts vernal pool surveys and wildlife habitat evaluations in compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (WPA), and rare species assessments in compliance with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA).

Christin can be reached at 413-256-0202 x 123 or cmcdonough@neeinc.com

Joel Harris, Asbestos Project Designer

March 4, 2012

NEE is pleased to announce that Joel Harris has achieved certification as a Massachusetts Asbestos Project Designer. The certification was issued by the MA Dept. of Labor Standards.  Mr. Harris is now licensed in MA to design asbestos abatement projects, produce technical specifications and manage the bidding process and contractor selection. 

Joel is a Project Manager in NEE’s Amherst, MA office in the environmental division. Mr. Harris is also a MA licensed Asbestos Inspector and Project Monitor and has ten years of experience conducting asbestos inspections and providing asbestos project monitoring services including asbestos abatement oversight and final air clearance.

Joel Harris can be reached at 413-256-0202 X 133 jharris@neeinc.com

EPA Issues Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Sites

March 3, 2012

New permit includes more protections for waterways, shaped by important public and stakeholder feedback

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a new permit, in accordance with the Clean Water Act, intended to provide streamlined permitting to thousands of construction operators, while protecting our nation's waterways from discharges of polluted stormwater from construction sites. Stormwater discharges from construction sites can contain harmful pollutants, such as nutrients, that contaminate waters, increase drinking water treatment costs, and damage aquatic ecosystems. The new permit was shaped by important input from the public and stakeholders to ensure that it provides important protections for waterways, while also providing flexibility to operators.

The 2012 construction general permit (CGP) is required under the Clean Water Act and replaces the existing 2008 CGP, which expired on February 15, 2012. The new permit includes a number of enhanced protections for surface waters, including provisions to protect impaired and sensitive waters. Under the Clean Water Act, national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits are typically issued for a five-year period, after which time EPA generally issues revised permits based on updated information and requirements. NPDES permits control water pollution by including limits on the amount of pollutants that can be discharged into waterways by specific sources. The permit also provides new flexibilities for operators. For example, it allows for emergency projects (e.g., restoration following a flood or other natural disaster) to begin immediately without permit authorization from EPA, while still retaining full authority for EPA to ensure that the project proceeds in an environmentally responsible manner once it has commenced. The permit also enables operators of already permitted projects flexibility where compliance with a new permit requirement is economically impracticable.  

The 2012 CGP updates include steps intended to limit erosion, minimize pollution sources, provide natural buffers or their equivalent around surface waters, and further restrict discharges to areas impaired by previous pollution discharge.

Many of the permit requirements implement new effluent limitations guidelines and new source performance standards for the construction and development industry that became effective on February 1, 2010, which include pollution control techniques to decrease erosion and sediment pollution.

The permit will be effective in areas where EPA is the permitting authority: Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and most U.S. territories and in Indian country lands.

More information on the construction general permit: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/cgp.cfm and http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/cgp2012_finalpermit.pdf

NEE Provides Permits and Restoration Plans for 1.7 MW Solar Project

March 2, 2012

Construction is underway in Orange, MA on a 1.7 MW PV project in a former gravel pit. NEE provided environmental permitting for wetlands, and rare species, and developed the required environmental restoration plans.   Wetlands surrounded the site on three sides, and the Riverfront Area associated with a perennial stream extended along the entire edge of the property.   After identifying all environmental issues, including a resolution with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and completion of a habitat restoration plan, NEE staff was able to secure an Order of Conditions from the Orange Conservation Commission permitting the work.  This was accomplished within financing and tax credit deadlines, enabling construction to begin before the end of 2011.  NEE restoration experts are building the habitat restoration areas.

NEE Consults on 2.3 MW Solar Array Project

March 1, 2012

NEE provided environmental consulting services on New England’s largest solar facility to date.  The 2.3 MW WMECo Indian Orchard (Springfield, MA) facility came on-line after a 4 month construction period.  The site is a 12 acre brownfield parcel which was formerly the site of a metal foundry, and surrounded by a residential neighborhood.  Electricity generated from this facility is expected to power up to 500 homes. NEE Professional Wetland Scientists conducted a site assessment of the abandoned industrial site on Goodwin Street in Indian Orchard and found no wetland plant communities, hydric soils, or evidence of wetland hydrology on the site. Other site research revealed no rare species or other protected environmental resources in the area, allowing the project to continue on a fast-track construction schedule.

New England Environmental Earns LEED Platinum Rating From U.S. Green Building Council

July 1, 2011

Amherst, MA - New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) announced today that its headquarters located at 15 Research Drive has received the highest rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The building was designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst, MA and constructed by Arrowwood Construction, also of Amherst.

NEE is only the fifth building in Massachusetts to receive a LEED NC (New Construction) Platinum rating. Over 23,000 buildings have been registered with USGBC since 2000; roughly 7800 have received some level of certification. There are 245 LEED NC Platinum buildings in the United States.

"NEE's Platinum certification is an expression of NEE's overall commitment to environmental responsibility" said Michael Marcus, President. "This beautiful building is also incredibly comfortable and energy efficient. We are delighted with the level of interest our building has generated and pleased to have given over 500 tours in the first year alone."

LEED measures building design and performance in five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

Sustainable Sites

  • Site selected has no environmentally sensitive areas
  • Construction activity pollution plan implemented
  • On two bus routes (Old Belchertown Road)
  • Comprehensive transportation management plan provides incentives to carpool, bus, bike or walk
  • Bike rack and shower
  • Low impact development (LID) stormwater management system
  • Porous asphalt
  • Grass pavers for parking spaces
  • Rain garden, bio-retention basin; bio-swale, and wet detention basin
  • Zero increase in the volume of stormwater runoff
  • Stormwater quality renovation with wetland vegetation
  • Maximization of open space
  • Native Massachusetts landscape plants
  • Solar reflective roof shingles used to reduce heat-island effect
  • Outdoor lighting with timers, and no off property light pollution

Water Efficiency

  • Water saving devices include: waterless urinals; dual flush toilets; low volume faucets
  • No artificial irrigation

Energy & Atmosphere

  • South side roof of building is covered with photovoltaic system (PV). Pole mounted PV array in parking area. Total PV is 39,000kw,generating enough electricity to power most of our electric, heating and cooling needs
  • 62.8% more energy efficient than the base case building design
  • Walls are 12" thick (2x6 and 2x4 with a 2" gap) filled with 12" cellulose insulation (recycled material)
  • Ceilings have 24" of cellulose insulation
  • No CFC-based refrigerant management
  • All lighting has occupancy sensors and key locations are self dimming
  • High efficiency mini-split heating/cooling with individual office controls
  • Increased ventilation
  • High efficiency, double paned, operable windows, argon-filled glass
  • Electric car charger power by solar array (to be installed in 2012)
  • All of NEE's energy purchases are offset by REC's (renewable energy certificates)

Materials & Resources

  • Recyclables storage and collection
  • 82% of construction waste was diverted from landfill
  • 18% combined recycled content value of total materials, including steel, sheetrock, concrete and flooring
  • 44% locally manufactured or extracted materials (by value)
  • 5% rapidly renewable materials (by value)
  • Much of the wood in the building is FSC certified

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Smoke-free interior and exterior
  • Ventilated at a rate 30% over what is required
  • Indoor Air Quality Plan designed and implemented
  • Low-emitting materials (adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpets, composite wood products, etc)
  • 90% of office spaces have day-lighting and outside views
  • Individual offices have individual thermostats

Operations &Maintenance

  • Non-toxic cleaning products
  • Low maintenance landscaping
  • Reusable dishes, drinkware and flatware
  • Continuous feed cloth towels in rest rooms
  • Single stream recycling

NEE Staff Provide Expert Testimony in Successful Federal Wetland Trial

May 4, 2011

NEE Staff Provide Expert Testimony in Successful Federal Wetland Trial

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) has been working on behalf of the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Justice for the past nine years, evaluating Federal wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act for this landmark case. Michael Marcus, NEE Principal and Professional Wetland Scientist, provided expert testimony under the "Rapanos" rulings on the "nexus test" of wetlands and tributaries. NEE's Associate Wildlife Biologist, Christin McDonough, was a fact witness in providing testimony on the "plurality test" of wetlands and waterways. A jury found that 46.1 acres of wetlands and other waters of the United States were filled in order to construct cranberry bogs, and associated structures. A fact sheet of this case may be found here.

 

NEE’s Andrew Bohne, Registered Landscape Architect

May 3, 2011

NEE’s Andrew Bohne, Registered Landscape Architect

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE), a full service environmental consulting company based in Amherst, MA, is pleased to announce that Andrew Bohne has passed his licensure and certification exams and is now a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Andrew has served NEE as an ecological designer/ planner for the last 5 years, is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP 2009), and has cumulative experience of over 12 years at multi-disciplinary landscape architecture firms across the United States. His employment experience has provided him with a variety of active roles in project support and project management while diversifying his portfolio. Andrew is currently the project manager of NEE's Ecological Design & Planning Group, and is involved in many aspects of the projects, from the initial site assessment through design and implementation of project solutions. Please feel free to contact Andrew at abohne@neeinc.com for information on sustainable and ecological design services.

Joel Harris, Asbestos Inspector, Joins NEE

May 2, 2011

Joel Harris, Asbestos Inspector, Joins NEE

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) is pleased to announce that Joel Harris has joined the Amherst, MA office as a Project Manager in the environmental division. Joel has a B.S. in Environmental Science from Oregon State University, with a concentration in environmental chemistry. Mr. Harris is a certified Massachusetts Asbestos Inspector, Project Monitor and PCM Air Sample Analyst registered with the AIHA. With over 18 years of environmental consulting experience managing and directing contaminated site projects, Mr. Harris conducts Phase I & II environmental site assessments and facilitates site compliance and reporting requirements (Phase III & V) in accordance with the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP).

Mr. Harris has supervised and brought to closure both assessment and remediation projects in accordance with the MCP. These projects are primarily for commercial and industrial facilities and address petroleum, metals, and solvent contamination of soil and groundwater. Mr. Harris has experience with the interaction of industrial groundwater contamination and residential drinking water wells, and works with residential clients who experience releases of oil or hazardous materials.

Joel can be reached at our Amherst Office (413) 256-0202 ext. 133, or at jharris@neeinc.com.

NEE Offsets 100% of our Electrical Use

February 2, 2011

New England Environmental, Inc. (NEE) has partnered with Renewable Choice to support the generating of renewable energyand offset the impact of 100 % of the electricity we use. By purchasing renewable energy credits, we are committed to take responsibility for the emissions generated from our electricity use. We still purchase our electricity from WMECO, but by paying a little extra we are also purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to ensure that clean, wind energy is being generated and put back on the national power grid. Renewable Choice is a leading provider of renewable energy and carbon offsets for companies, as well as individuals. Renewable Choice partners with renewable energy producers like those who produce wind power. By purchasing renewable energy, we are committed to:

  • Helping reduce our dependency on fossil fuels
  • Promoting cleaner air
  • Fighting global climate change

To take care of its remaining electricity use, NEE buys renewable energy credits (RECs) from Renewable Choice.

Did you know?

  • According to the EPA, conventional energy production from fossil fuels is theleading cause of industrial air pollution
  • The U.S. holds less than 5% of the world's population but produces nearly 25% of global carbon emissions*
  • Electricity accounts for 39% of all CO2 emissions**

Renewable energy credits ensure that the amount of electricity that Lundberg Family Farms uses is replaced on the power grid by wind power from projects across the country. RECs help renewable energy facilities by making them more financially viable, thereby incentivizing development.

Reducing Our Environmental Footprint

We have partnered with Renewable Choice to reduce our environmental impact and educate our valuable employees on the choices that are available for both businesses and individuals. This decision is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility. By purchasing RECs, our commitment has an environmental impact that is similar to:

  • Planting 440 mature trees or
  • Not driving 108,078 miles in an average passenger car
  • Not consuming 5459 gallons of gasoline

Join our Commitment

In addition to our corporate-wide commitment, we want to share information on how youcan also support renewable energy at home. Renewable Choice has Home Wind PowerPlans that offer ways for individuals and families to support clean energy. Find out more by going to the Renewable Choice website.

Scientific American, September 2006
** US Department of Energy, 2007 Buildings Energy Data Book

NEE Joins the EPA Clean Power Partnership

February 1, 2011

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. The Partnership currently has hundreds of Partner organizations voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.

NEE Welcomes Sean Werle, Ph.D.

November 5, 2010

NEE Welcomes Sean Werle, Ph.D.

New England Environmental, Inc. is pleased to announce that Sean Werle, Ph. D. has joined our staff as an Aquatic Biologist. Dr. Werle has been working in the environmental consulting industry since 1997, mainly on freshwater mussels and other aquatic invertebrates. He received his B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Rhode Island in 1995, his M.Sc. in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2000, and his Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in 2004, also from UMass, Amherst. Dr, Werle is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. Since 2000, Dr. Werle has been primarily involved in developing and implementing freshwater mussel protection plans for Massachusetts Department of Transportation bridge projects. An experienced SCUBA diver (PADI rescue diver rated), he has logged more than 1500 dives, most in the technically challenging Connecticut River. He currently also serves as the curator of non-insect invertebrates for the Natural History Collections at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and as a Conservation Commissioner for the town of Montague, MA. For more information please contact Sean swerle@neeinc.com.

NEE Leads in Renewable Energy Site Selection

November 3, 2010

NEE has emerged as a regional leader in the energy industry in site assessment, environmental permitting, and permit compliance. As energy costs continue to rise, energy producers are exploring the development of new solar, wind, and hydroelectric projects. Solar and wind projects are among the fastest growing energy markets today, and NEE is working on many of these projects in the Northeast. During the past year, NEE has conducted site reviews on over 20 sites, which has lead to the development of several large utility grade solar projects. NEE provided environmental assessment and permitting for the 1.8 MW solar project Pittsfield, MA, which is presently the largest solar project in New England.

NEE is also presently working on the environmental assessment for what will be one of the northeast region's largest inland wind farms.

NEE continues to provide a full range of environmental and regulatory services for the energy and water resource industry in environmental compliance and regulatory support for projects throughout the U.S.

White Nose Syndrome

November 2, 2010

White Nose Syndrome

Over the last few years, bat populations have plummeted in the Northeastern United States, due to a puzzling condition called White Nose Syndrome (WNS). WNS is a fungal growth that appears as a white fluff, often seen on the face or sometimes seen on the wings and body of bats. Because bats are extremely social and some species hibernate communally in caves here in the northeast, WNS is spreading at an alarming rate from bat to bat, and from cave to cave, primarily during hibernation inside caves. WNS was first documented near Albany, New York in 2006 and now has been documented in 11 states; it has expanded as far south as Tennessee and as far north as Ontario, Canada, causing mortality rates up to 95% at infected locations. One published article (see below for link) from the state of New Hampshire reported bat population numbers were down 66% since last year, and northern long-eared bats are gone from NH.

Bats infected with WNS experience an increased energy constraint during hibernation, which causes them to quickly burn through their fat reserves, resulting in mortality. What's worse is biologists have discovered this fungus is able to linger in a cave and infect new bats or returning bats later on. Scientists are puzzled about the causes of WNS; however they fear that the geographic spread of WNS was caused by humans transporting the fungus on their caving clothing and gear. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has recently implemented careful protocols for cavers to follow to disinfect their gear between cave sites. Since fungal spores can attach to human skin, clothing or equipment, humans are advised to avoid caving activities.

Since bats consume enormous quantities of insects, their ecological importance is fairly significant. The endangered Indiana bat, for example, can eat up to half its body weight in flying insects each night. The loss of such huge quantities of local populations may lead to increased pests and agricultural problems down the line. Even though there currently are no known human health implications associated with WNS, the ecological implications of these bat declines are far-reaching.

So what's being done about this? One group of researchers have recently (2009) tried using portable heaters to help hibernating bats suffering from WNS to preserve energy and fight starvation. Biologists are formulating treatments for infected bats; however, we do not know the success of this treatment yet. Genetics research is being conducted to test the surviving bats for genetic differences.

For the latest information on WNS and the threat it poses to northeastern bat populations, visit:

How can you help? If you have bats in your barn or house or other buildings, please try to leave them there, say biologists. Put up a bat house near your roof, atleast 15-20 feet off the ground, facing south to keep it nice and warm, and hope for summer residents! Also, stay out of caves and mines, year round. The fungus can be picked up on clothing and gear, and transported to other sites. For more information, please contact Christin McDonough.

NEE Donates to Linking Landscapes

November 1, 2010

NEE Donates to Linking Landscapes

In 2010, NEE donated 4000 linear feet of silt fence to Linking Landscapes, a joint program of MassDOT and Natural Heritage and Endangered Species. 

This long-term program gets no state funding.  The goals of this program are to minimize the impact of the existing roadway network on wildlife, identify roadkill hotspots for upgrades (i.e., larger culverts, etc.), improve habitat connectivity, and save thousands of animals (especially reptiles and amphibians, many of which are rare and endangered). For more information, please contact Christin McDonough.