Archive for the 'Air Quality' Category

Green Gestures: Thinking Outside the Gift Box

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by
Earth in hand

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I’ve seen many guides to green gifts, both generic and occasion-specific. But I realized recently that there are not many, if any, guides focused on green gestures. This is the phrase I use when thinking of gifts related to sustainability that do not involve giving a tangible item to the recipient. Instead, green gestures are more symbolic for the recipient or honoree, but they may indeed have tangible benefits for the environment or for society in general. Green gestures are good to keep in mind for the person who seemingly has everything, or for acquaintances or colleagues for whom you do not have a good sense of interests and preferences. Green gestures are also a good solution to expressing appreciation when ethical considerations can make giving or receiving tangible gifts undesirable or inappropriate. An example would be thanking an elected official for speaking at your event. Such gestures are often also used as memorials or to celebrate special occasions like a birth, a wedding, or a retirement. This list is by no means exhaustive (feel free to share your ideas in the “Comments” section of this post), and should not be construed as an endorsement of any of the items or organizations listed by GLRPPR or its host agency, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. This list is for informational purposes only, and is meant to help you start thinking outside the gift box.

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Overview of P2 GHG & Cost Savings Calculators

Friday, June 5th, 2009 by

It’s the final day of the GLRPPR/Region 7 Conference in Indianapolis, IN. On the agenda for this afternoon is a webinar presented by Natalie Hummel of the U.S. EPA providing an overview of two new measurement tools developed by U.S. EPA Headquarters. The GHG Calculator is designed to assist P2 managers, staff and grantees in calculating greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions from established conversion factors in the following categories:

  • Electricity Conservation (GHG reductions from electricity conversation or reduced use of energy)
  • Green Energy (GHG reductions from switching to greener or renewable energy sources)
  • Fuel Substitution (GHG reductions from reduced fuel use, substitution to greener fuels)
  • Greening Chemistry (GHG reductions from reduced use of GWP chemicals)
  • Water Conservation (GHG reductions from reduced water use)
  • Materials Management (GHG reductions from green manufacturing processes and waste management scenarios)
  • Cross Reference to other applicable tools (A reference table that provides end users an overview of applicable GHG tools and models)

The P2 Results Database, a web-based tool, designed to collect and quantify P2 progress related to air, water, waste and energy reductions from non-profits, local, state, and federal entities plays a significant role in demonstrating P2 benefits on a regional and national level. A critical part of the P2 Results Database is documenting cost savings that result from government, businesses and facilities implementing P2 activities. This database uses a P2 cost calculator to quantify cost savings based on established methodologies and sound research. Over the last several months, the Pollution Prevention Program worked to update and redesign the tool to enhance functionality and better document cost benefits over time. Today’s webinar will also provide an overview of the cost calculator tool.

If you were unable to attend this week’s conference and/or the webinar provided today, or if you would like to recommend the webinar to your colleagues, the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) will be providing a similar webinar on June 18, 2009. See the GLRPPR calendar entry for the WSPPN webinar for details and a link to the event registration page.

For more useful calculators and links to your regional module of the P2 Results Data System, see the GLRPPR P2 Measurement & Calculators Sector Resource.

IDEM issues "Clean Air Indiana" challenge as ozone season kicks off

Monday, May 18th, 2009 by

As national Air Quality Awareness Week comes to a close, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is revving up its annual ozone awareness campaign to encourage Hoosier businesses to review the impact their daily habits play on air quality.

The new “Clean Air Indiana” initiative challenges Hoosier businesses to take a pledge that they will reduce unhealthy air emissions, improve Indiana’s air quality, reduce business costs, help employees and earn them recognition.

To help businesses become more aware of the benefits of an effective clean air program, IDEM has launched a new Web site, www.idem.IN.gov/6249.htm, and prepared a tool kit fully stocked with resources. The Clean Air Indiana pledge specifically asks businesses to take actions that will result in reduced emissions from June 15-30, the time of summer that has historically high levels of ground-level ozone.

“We’ve spent the winter creating a program that can help businesses recognize the value of being good environmental stewards,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “Businesses may find that there are cost savings to be had just by implementing a simple change in the workplace to improve their commitment to the environment. In addition to a commitment to improving the quality of life for employees, an added bonus of an environmental improvement in the workplace is the commitment to the surrounding community.”

IDEM’s Clean Air Indiana campaign is an extension of last year’s Ozone Knockout campaign, which entailed staff visits to communities to help raise awareness of the effects of activities on air quality. At the close of the 2008 ozone season, air monitors in all parts of Indiana measured ozone levels under the United States Environmental Protection Agency threshold of 85 parts per billion (ppb) for the first time since the standard was established in 1997. This is a strong indicator that air quality in Indiana is permanently improving.

In addition to the new Clean Air Indiana initiative, IDEM provides other resources related to air quality. Indiana’s Smog Watch Web site is an informational tool IDEM created to share daily air quality forecasts, including information about ground-level ozone and particulate matter air quality forecasts, health information, and monitoring data for seven regions of the state. Smog Watch can be accessed at www.smogwatch.IN.gov.

Additionally, IDEM’s LEADS Web site, at www.idem.IN.gov/airfacts, offers access to near real-time data from air monitors statewide. Approximately 65 percent of Indiana’s air monitoring network is now available via this system. The complete IDEM LEADs network will be available electronically by December 2009.

“Air quality in Indiana has improved significantly in recent years as a result of regulations and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions,” said Commissioner Easterly. “Hoosiers have worked hard to attain cleaner air, and while we’ve come a long way, we still have more work to do. Through simple actions at home and work, Hoosiers can continue to make a positive difference.”

February 2009 Site of the Month: Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Sunday, February 1st, 2009 by

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established in 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization. The Center’s mission is to provide credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. Extensive information is available on the Center’s web site and organized into section on Global Warming Basics, Science & Impacts, Technology Solutions, and Economics. Information is also organized by policy level, including International, U.S. Federal, U.S. States & Regions and Business. The home page features links to hot topics, facts & figures, an overview of what’s new, and brief summaries of Pew Center initiatives. An e-mail newsletter and RSS feed are also available to help you keep up-to-date with new developments.

December 2008 Site of the Month: Consumer Reports Greener Choices

Monday, December 1st, 2008 by

It’s holiday time again, which means you’re probably going to buy at least one gift for someone, as well as items for celebrations and holiday meals. You may wish to consult Consumer Reports Greener Choices web site, which provides information to help choose more environmentally friendly products. Articles and “green ratings” are available for the following product categories: Appliances, Cars, Electronics, Food & Beverages, and Home & Garden.  Within these sections, you’ll find links to articles, information on conservation of resources (such as energy, water, fuel, etc.), resources for shopping greener, and information on recycling and disposal. The “Hot Topics & Solutions” section of the site includes the Eco-labels Center (which helps you interpret what product labels really mean), the Electronics Recycling Center, the Global Warming Solutions Center, and sections on Energy, Water, and Waste.

The “Toolkit” section includes calculators to help save energy, water, and money, as well as a Toxics Search tool to find out whether there’s a potential for exposure while using a particular product, and how that can affect your health. The “Community” section of the site includes links to Consumers Union campaigns, forums and resources for further information, as well as blogs on cars, food safety, green homes, and safety.

California Legislation on Green Chemistry and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 by

According to the California Office of the Governor web site, on September 30, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, “by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which builds on AB 32, California’s first-in-the-nation law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by adding the nation’s first law to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl…In order to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Californians need to rethink how we design our communities. SB 375 does this by providing emissions-reduction goals around which regions can plan-integrating disjointed planning activities and providing incentives for local governments and developers to follow new conscientiously-planned growth patterns.” The legislation directs the California Air Resources Board to develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035, and provides incentives for the creation of walkable, sustainable communities and the revitalization of existing communities. The Governor also signed SB 372, which “establishes the Strategic Growth Council and will appropriate $500,000 from Prop 84 to the Resources Agency to support the Council and its activities.” Read the full press release regarding this legislation here.

On September 29, the Governor also signed AB 1879 and SB 509 related to green chemistry. “AB 1879 establishes authority for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop regulations that create a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern and to create methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals. It also allows DTSC to take certain actions following an assessment that range from ‘no action’ to ‘restrictions or bans.’ The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel made up of experts to provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies, as well as ensuring implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation. Moreover, it expands the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of the heads of all California Environmental Protection Agency boards and departments, to oversee critical activities related to the implementation of the green chemistry program. SB 509 creates an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse, a web-based database, to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California every day.” A Green Chemistry Initiative has been established to develop policy options for implementing a green chemistry program. The initiative’s goal is to evaluate the health risks of chemicals and possible alternatives in a systematic way, rather than on a case-by-case basis. Read the full press release here.

September 2008 Site of the Month: US Business Council for Sustainable Development

Monday, September 1st, 2008 by

The United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) is a non-profit association of businesses whose purpose is to deliver highly focused, collaborative projects that help its members and partners demonstrate leadership in the United States on sustainable development and realize business value. US BCSD leverages member participation and partner support to serve five platforms of activity — By-product Synergy, Ecosystem Services, Value and Supply Chain, Energy and Climate Change, and Water Resource Management. In addition to information on each of these activity areas, the US BCSD web site includes member/partner profiles, information on joining the council, and a list of upcoming events.

P2 Go Bragh: Kiss Me, I Recycle

Saturday, March 15th, 2008 by

Cheers to the folks at Green Guardian for using the upcoming holiday to promote container recycling. GreenGuardian.com is a web site created to promote environmentally responsible purchasing and disposal choices among the citizens of Minnesota’s Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The site is sponsored by the region’s Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and is organized into sections geared specifically toward residents, businesses and children.

I receive their electronic Green Tips newsletter, and was pleased to see them taking the opportunity to tie St. Patrick’s Day to raising environmental awareness. The lead story in the latest newsletter was entitled “Kiss Me, I Recycle” and is an obvious play on the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” slogan you’re likely to see emblazoned on t-shirts, buttons and hats starting this weekend. (Incidentally, the SWMCB web site provides a handy “Kiss Me, I Recycle” St. Patrick’s Day button template for anyone interested in wearing green and simultaneously promoting green activities.) As eluded to in my previous post, there are likely to be lots of bottles and cans associated with St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and the SWMCB and MPCA are trying to ensure that folks consider recycling and are aware of how to properly recycle as well as what can be recycled. The “Kiss Me, I Recycle” story links to a helpful can and bottle recycling guide on GreenGuardian.com. The guide not only tells you what and how to recycle (which is strictly speaking, not pollution prevention since it’s an “end of the pipe” sort of activity) but also highlights the energy savings associated with recycling, as well as the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and water consumption that result from recycling containers as opposed to throwing them in the trash–all of which are important environmental benefits that are certainly complimentary to P2 activities.

This sort of campaign got me thinking about opportunities for similar outreach activities on college campuses. For example, I’ve heard that Mather House at Harvard University has a “green happy hour” for St. Patrick’s Day that involves the promotion of recycling, sustainability and waste reduction. I’m curious to know if other campuses have been involved in similar activities, perhaps on a wider scale. If you know of a “Green St. Patrick’s Day” event or promotion at a college or university, or if your organization, like SWMCB and MPCA, is tying environmental awareness campaigns to St. Patrick’s Day, please take a minute to share what you’ve done in the “Comments” section for this post.

Kiss Me, I Recycle

This week's photo post

Monday, February 18th, 2008 by

Boise Cascade Wallula Mill at dusk, originally uploaded by Scott Butner.

As long as my friends at GLRPPR have let me loose around here, I might as well have some fun….

Long before I became an engineer, I worked as a photographer. Recently, with the advent of digital, I have rediscovered photography. I do most of my shooting within 50 miles of Richland, WA.

Just because I like to think and communicate in pictures, I will try to post a weekly photo here, wherever possible one with an environmental theme to it. We’ll see how long this lasts.

This week’s photo is of the Boise Cascade Wallula mill, situated at the confluence of the Columbia and Walla Walla rivers in southeastern WA state. The mill produces a variety of paper products including office paper and label release paper.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with Ray Lam, who is environmental manager for the facility. Ray is a human dynamo, and has been bringing a great deal of energy to an industrial byproduct synergy effort here in the eastern half of the state.

SB

New GLRPPR Resources on Climate Change and Nanotechnology

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 by

Be sure to check out the recently added GLRPPR Sector Resources on Climate Change and Nanotechnology. As with any Sector Resource, these online compilations include links to online and hard copy documents, expert contact information, and also integrate relevant events, funding opportunities, Help Desk questions and answers and recent news stories. Currently, the Climate Change Sector Resource includes a section for statistical information; the Nanotechnology Sector Resource includes special sections for environmental health and safety information, as well as information on environmental remediation.

The Climate Change Sector Resource RSS Feed and the Nanotechnology Sector Resource RSS Feed are available for those who want to stay up to date on the latest information related to these topics.

If you have any comments or suggestions for these Sector Resources, contact Laura Barnes or Joy Scrogum.