Tower Hill Botanic Garden

This submission reflects this organization's contribution to the climate effort, representative of their current actions and commitments as well as the ways in which they intend to step up and collaborate with others.

Tower Hill Botanic Garden's Climate Action Contribution

Climate Action Commitments

Current Climate Actions Tower Hill Botanic Garden Is Taking:

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Commit to Community Education and Communication

Commit to offering education opportunities that are designed for staff, adults, and children, and feature information on clean energy, stewardship, individual/household climate actions, climate advocacy, and any other applicable subjects. The importance of building environmental literacy in changing habits and perceptions is profound, and organizations and institutions trusted to convene the community are among the most impactful educators.

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Commit to Understand and Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Understanding your GHG emissions is the first step to making measurable reductions in those emissions. The EPA provides an overview report and CoolClimate Network provides a simple tool for “low emitters” to better understand sources of emissions, as well as how to use that information to set reduction targets. For this commitment, it is as simple as committing to complete a greenhouse gas inventory for your business or oganization, but in the future your inventory can be used to make a commitment to set a specific goal, such as “reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2025.

New Climate Actions Tower Hill Botanic Garden Commits To Take:

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Commit to Becoming an Environmentally Responsible Cultural Institution

In adopting a leadership role as an environmentally responsible cultural institution, and institution would commit to pursuing some or all of the following:

  • Measure and make public its environmental impacts; set goals for continuous improvement; and evaluate progress and effectiveness.
  • Develop a plan and timeframe for becoming climate neutral, and eventually climate positive.
  • Demonstrate leadership by exceeding existing environmental codes, regulations, and professional standards as appropriate, e.g. setting energy efficiency goals that would be higher than what existing regulations require.
  • Review investments and set a timeframe for investing in a socially responsible portfolio that excludes fossil fuel companies.
  • Identify risks resulting from climate change, and take steps to anticipate and mitigate risks and damage for itself and, in collaboration, on behalf of the community.
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Commit to Energy Conservation and Resiliency in Collections

The long-held practice of creating object exhibition and storage climate conditions of 70० +/-2० and 50% +/- 5% principle is no longer considered best practice. Instead, curators and conservators are determining appropriate conditions based on the conservation needs and history of the object and its materials, and by applying scientifically-proven concepts of materials’ conservation needs and thresholds, and the safe energy savings of night-time and seasonal drift to care for the objects while saving significantly on energy use.

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Commit to Reducing Materials Consumption and Waste

Institutions can significantly reduce the impact of materials use through life-cycle planning, choosing low-impact materials, and developing convenient, clear, waste-management approaches. Begin by conducting materials or waste audits for regular activities such as exhibit construction, special events, office operations, food service areas, and gift shops. Then, by piloting new practices in specific departments or single events or time periods, you can develop tools and procedures that significantly reduce waste through simple practices. Associated with this commitment, institutions could:

  • Commit to Zero Waste (90% diversion from landfil)
    • Recommended Targets:
      • Divert 60/75/85% institutional waste from landfil by 2020/2025/2030
      • Reach zero waste to landfill by 2030
      • Set construction waste diversion targets by project
  • Commit to Eliminating Single-Use Consumer Plastics
    • Recommended Targets:
      • Eliminate single use water bottles on site by 2020
      • Institute a plastic bag ban on site by 2020
      • Eliminate single use beverage bottles on site by 2022
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Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions

Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.

Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.

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Commit to Reduce Climate Impacts of Packaging and Reducing Waste

There are many ways to reduce the climate impact of packaging including reducing materials (i.e., “source reduction”); replacing virgin materials with post-consumer recycled content; replacing traditional plastics made from fossil fuels with biopolymers; re-designing packaging to be more compact and therefore efficient for transport and storage; using biodegradable packing materials; and recycling at end of the packaging’s life to name just a few practices.

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Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy

While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.

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Commit to Building Climate Resilience in your Community

By committing to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, companies and institutions can secure their operations and supply chains and conserve natural resources that are stressed due to climate change. While there is much a business can do within their community, primary among these options is reducing water usage. Organizations can commit to increase their own water security through a range of actions, including installing water-saving devices, capturing rainwater for onsite uses, and recycling grey water. Or just commit to get engaged with your community in resilience planning.

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Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation

Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.

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Commit to Increase Your Use of Renewable Power

Increasing your percentage of renewable energy sources is a key component of reducing overall GHG emissions. Installing onsite renewable generation, like solar panels, is a good long-term strategy if possible. But renewable energy can also be procured through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), renewable power purchasing agreements (PPAs), and in some locations from retail electricity providers or local utilities that offers a high percentage of renewable power. Also consider becoming an EPA Green Power Partner.

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Commit to Completing a Resilience Assessment in Partnership with your Community

The Resilience Assessment is a key process to understand current strengths and vulnerabilities of the campus and community. This should be completed through research, in person forums, or other processes to engage your stakeholders in this assessment.

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Commit to Designing and Hosting a Cross-Sectoral Forum at your Institution

Commit to holding a public campus and community forum or workshop on shared climate action plan goal setting and/or resilience assessments. These forums will compare baseline targets and align the strengths of the respective sectors to drive solutions. This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.

Examples: University Climate Change Coalition; Community Resilience Building

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Commit to the Natrual and Working Lands Challenge

The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to life and critical for reducing the impacts of climate change on our communities. These systems are also under threat from human activity and climate change. Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks. Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.

The U.S. Climate Alliance States commit to taking actions that will reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands and urban greenspace, and integrating these pathways into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Natural and Working Lands Challenge calls on other states, cities, nations, tribes, businesses and others to make the same commitment within their organizations. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards this challenge, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.

Areas For Collaboration

We are interested in collaborating on the following:

Efficient Buildings
  • Supporting building thermal decarbonization and electrification

Electric Vehicles
  • Promoting increased charging infrastructure

Local Collaboration
  • Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level

Natural Lands
  • Encouraging states to adopt incentive programs for forest management, tree cover expansion, and soil health
  • Promoting science-based targets for GHG emissions and removals in agricultural supply chains

Utility Sector
  • Aggregating demand for renewable energy with other actors
  • Supporting states, cities, and utilities in decarbonizing their energy supply

Organization details

The Worcester County Horticultural Society (Tower Hill Botanic Garden), the third oldest active horticultural society in the United States, is a non-profit educational organization formed for the purpose of advancing the science and encouraging and improving the practice of horticulture. Tower Hill’s history began in the fall of 1840. During the annual cattle show of the Worcester Agricultural Society, 24 professionals, merchants and public officials staged a fruit and flower display, which was received with rave reviews. The success of the fruit and flower show inspired the original 24 men to create the Worcester County Horticultural Society in 1842.

The continued success of the Society created a demand for a building to house offices, a library and exhibitions. In 1851, the Society’s first headquarters was built in downtown Worcester and weekly summer shows highlighted the produce and gardens of this thriving agricultural community. The crops were so robust and varied that in 1855 one exhibitor alone showed more than 200 varieties of pears! The Society continued to grow and by 1867, the annual exhibition had to be moved. By 1928, the Society had outgrown its Front Street property, so land was purchased to build a new headquarters, Horticultural Hall, at 30 Elm Street in Worcester. During the 1940s, as agriculture shifted and the large 19th and early 20th century country estate gardeners that had supported exhibitions dwindled, the exhibitions themselves decreased. In 1983 the Society turned its sights toward cultivating gardens. In 1986, the Society set its focus on creating a botanic garden at Tower Hill Farm in Boylston. The Society set to work with Environmental Planning and Design of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to produce a 50-year Master Plan for the garden, which would guide its development in the years to come.

Today, Tower Hill Botanic Garden features a four-season display of the finest plants for cultivation in New England. Carefully planned gardens and collections of ornamental, edible and native plants, plus trails that enhance the natural features of this beautiful 171-acre property and a robust program and event schedule make Tower Hill a must-see destination.

MISSION
In 2014 the Society adopted a new mission and now commits itself to: Inspire the use and appreciation of horticulture to improve lives, enrich communities and strengthen commitment to the natural world.

CORE VALUES
Learning
We educate ourselves and our communities through our gardens, our programs and our collaborations.

Stewardship
We honor what has been entrusted to us as we meet the challenges – and opportunities – of the future.

Sustainability
We seek to connect people and plants for the benefit of the planet.

Inclusivity
We welcome everyone to share in the joys of gardening and understand why plants matter in our lives.

Joy
We delight in the inherent beauty of plants, gardens and our natural world.

Excellence
We strive for excellence in everything we do.

VISION
Growing a Better Future with People and Plants.
Our vision for the next five years builds on Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s unique vantage point atop Tower Hill in Central New England. We will grow our gardens and programs to connect with new audiences and deepen our relationship with those who know us.

Our gardens will become a must-see destination drawing visitors from near and far. We will strive to become a collection of people and plants that can make a difference beyond our boundaries. We will work with others to develop and disseminate plant-based solutions to societal issues. Finally, we will lead some of those efforts to build a better world with plants and people.
Sector
Cultural Institution
Location
Boylston, MA
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