Archive for April, 2015

International Noise Awareness Day

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Today is International Noise Awareness Day (INAD). INAD is a global campaign aiming to raise awareness of noise on the welfare and health of people. Noise affects people in many ways, but only deafness and annoyance receive actual interest from the general public. People all over the world are called upon to take part via various actions on this occasion: open days on hearing from acousticians, lectures in public health departments, universities and schools, panels of experts, noise level measuring actions, and readings.

In that spirit, the Center for Hearing and Communication offers this Recipe for a Quiet Day:

Recipe for a Quiet Day

Take these few, simple steps to preserve the peace and quiet in your life.

  • Pay attention to the noises you make and respect your neighbor’s right to peace and quiet.
  • Turn down the volume two notches on your radios and personal stereo systems with headphones.
  • Turn down the volume one notch on your television.
  • Do NOT honk your horn, except in the case of imminent danger; Do NOT tip cab drivers who honk their horns illegally.
  • Avoid noisy sports events, restaurants, rock concerts and nightclubs unless you use hearing protection.
  • Replace noisy activities with quiet ones such as taking a walk, visits to libraries and museums.
  • Ask your health club instructor to lower the music.
  • Ask the movie theater manager to turn down the volume.
  • Wear adequate hearing protection if you must be in a noisy environment (the subway, mowing the lawn)
  • Turn off the television during dinner and have a quiet conversation instead.
  • Get a free hearing screening.
  • Attend a town meeting to review (or develop) a local, enforceable noise ordinance.
  • Spread the word about the danger of noise.

And remember… observe one minute of no noise from 2:15 – 2:16 pm (regardless of location/time zone). – See more here.

Here are two things I recommend: (1) Take this Online hearing test, and (2) Tell your kids to turn down their iPhones!

Have a quiet day.

Recap on EBC Program on Energy and Environmental Affairs

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

by Stephen Barrett, LEED AP

SecretaryBeatonIMG_5408

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion organized by the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC) with Matthew Beaton, the new Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs under Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.  While the Baker Administration took the reins in early January and Secretary Beaton has been on-board since day one, this panel was one of his first public appearances as he has been busy building his team and getting them up to speed.  Some in the clean energy and environmental industries had been concerned that the Baker Administration would roll back clean energy policies and environmental protections, though Beaton emphasized that the Administration was entering office with an open mind and no actions would be considered during an initial three month freeze period on any new regulations or programs.  Renewable energy advocates were happy to hear the Secretary’s announcement at the PV America Conference the previous day that the Administration would continue the Patrick Administration’s commitment of 1600 MW of solar by 2020.  Beaton was asked by the panel about another Patrick Administration proposal – the Clean Energy Standard – which would incentivize the purchase of Canadian hydropower in Massachusetts in an effort to achieve the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.  With the proposed program out for public comment, Beaton only said that he would wait to review public comment, but that he would focus on cost-effective solutions.  The high cost of electricity in Massachusetts due to constrained supplies of natural gas elicited a lot of interest.  While everyone seems to agree that high energy costs are a burden on the economy and that increasing natural gas supply in some manner is the best short-term solution, how to deliver new supply (e.g., new or enhanced pipelines, more Liquid Natural Gas [LNG] deliveries by sea) and how much to deliver given the region’s current over-dependence on natural gas is of much debate.  Beaton did not offer a plan for avoiding price spikes next winter but said it would be a focus of his agenda in the coming months.  All in all, the evening was a welcomed introduction to the new Secretary and the start of a productive dialogue with the environmental and energy business community.

On being a women-owned business…

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Mary Ellen Eagan

we-can-do-it

Over the past several months, as we’ve negotiated and finalized the internal sale of HMMH, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what it means (or might mean) to be a women-owned business (I’ve also spent a lot of time learning all the designations and abbreviations: WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, etc. For simplicity, let’s just go with WBE). On a surface level, there should be no difference – after all, I’ve been president for more than 10 years, and Diana has been COO for two. And yet, I think it will make a difference for HMMH and for me.  Here’s why.

First, many people already assume we are a WBE – but now, we can even better serve our clients by helping them meet W/DBE contract goals.  I just spent the day at the City of Chicago Department of Aviation’s W/M/DBE workshop, and was stunned to learn that the CDA achieved a 39% W/M/DBE goal last year.  We hear from firms all the time that it’s hard to find “quality” DBE firms – I’m confident that our 34-year history of excellence will help in some small way to change that perception.

Second, it has forced me to think about what it means for men at HMMH – I’ve thought a lot about the trust and confidence displayed by the men who sold their stake in the company to Diana and me, but even more about the future of current and emerging male leaders within our firm who are also significant owners and contributors.  We may be unique among WBE firms to have so many talented men in leadership positions – I think that makes our firm rich.

Finally, it has brought back some of my inner feminist.  I was recently encouraged by a close friend (an enlightened male) to read Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, an examination of how women’s lives have, and have not, changed over the past forty years.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have been born when I was and how grateful I am to have been able to make the choices I’ve made (I am a contemporary of the author).  If my mother had not been an unsatisfied “housewife” at the height of the Gloria-Steinem-bra-burning-days, she might not have been the Tiger Mother who insisted I study something (anything) other than teaching or nursing in college.  I hated engineering (and my grades proved it – HMMH would never hire me today!), yet somehow I never lost the sense that I needed to forge my own path.  If I’d been a little older, many of those paths would have been closed to me (as it was, I have my share of horror stories – like the time the professor told my entire class to ‘Let the Lady Engineer show us how to do it’); if I’d been a little younger, it might not have been so important for me to prove myself (I look at my niece – who’s about to graduate from WPI as a biomedical engineer – and suspect gender is not an issue for her, except that the boys can’t keep up).  The challenge that remains – for women and men alike these days – is that of making choices.  We can do anything, but we can’t do everything.  When folks ask me how I ‘do it all’ (and by that, I assume they mean CEO, parent, wife, friend, volunteer), my stock answer is that I don’t do any of it well (and by that, I mean that I’ve had to accept the fact that I’m not perfect at anything).  But I get a lot done.

This quote from Wonder Women sums it up for me:

“Women should seek empowerment in their lives, but not control. They should be empowered to use their bodies as they desire; empowered to make the choices they prefer; empowered to seek happiness wherever they may find it. But control, like that ephemeral “all” again, is an illusion. Because in the end, the only thing you can really control is your thighs. And they just don’t matter that much.”

Amen, sister.