Archive for the 'Climate Change' Category

EPA launches new greenhouse gas inventory tools for local and tribal governments

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 by

EPA is pleased to announce that it has launched two free, interactive spreadsheet tools to help local governments and tribes across the United States evaluate their greenhouse gas emissions.

Both tools calculate greenhouse gas emissions for many sectors, including residential, commercial, transportation, and waste and water management. Each tool consists of two separate parts: one for community-wide inventories, the other for inventories of local or tribal government operations only.

These tools were designed to make calculating emissions flexible and easy: they are pre-programmed with default data, or the user may enter community-specific information.

Who should use these inventory tools?

The tool is designed for governments interested in compiling a relatively quick and simple GHG inventory. Local, tribal, and regional governments interested in developing emissions estimates should visit the Develop a Greenhouse Gas Inventory page for suggested approaches, key steps, case studies, and resources to determine if this simplified approach is appropriate for them and learn about other options.

What can you do with the results?

  • Create an emissions baseline
  • Track emissions trends
  • Assess the relative contributions of emissions sources
  • Communicate with stakeholders
  • Partner with other municipalities to create a regional inventory
  • Develop mitigation strategies and policies
  • Measure progress toward meeting GHG reduction goals

Climate Solutions University Now Accepting Applications for 2016

Friday, June 12th, 2015 by

Climate Solutions University has helped more than 30 communities create adaptation plans that are ready for implementation. Your region is a good fit for the program if you need to tackle the following challenges:

  • Social equity and the impact of climate change on vulnerable citizens
  • A regional approach to planning that integrates urban and rural linkages
  • Threats to watersheds, forest, and economic resources using an ecosystem services model

Who should apply to Climate Solutions University?

  • Community leaders of local government agencies
  • Watershed organizations and resource conservation districts
  • Nonprofits
  • Civic organizations

Participants foster positive, sustainable connections between people, economic, and ecosystem health! This is done through market solutions based in solid research. Visit Climate Solutions University or contact Recruitment Coordinator Josh Dye via email or at 612-481-8059 to get started.

Climate Action Champions: Request for Applications

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 by

From the solicitation:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to advancing the Administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

In recognition of the importance of the dual policy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience, the DOE­ – in close collaboration with other Federal agencies – is launching an initiative to identify and showcase U.S. local and tribal governments that have proven to be climate leaders through pursuing opportunities to advance both of these goals in their communities. In particular, the initiative will select 10-15 U.S. local governments and tribal governments – or regional collaborations or consortia thereof – that demonstrate a strong and ongoing commitment to implementing strategies that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience, with a particular emphasis on strategies that further both goals. The DOE-led effort will provide a platform for other Federal agencies to participate in, and give leverage to, the activities of communities that are selected for this initiative.

The DOE initiative is being led as a combined effort through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Office of Indian Energy, and the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

From a story about the Initiative in The Hill:

The federal government will not award any funds as part of the initiative…

The Energy Department will administer the competition, but agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Interior Department will provide specific assistance to the communities…

Specifically, participating communities will get climate data and tools from various federal agencies to help write projections and make planning decisions.

They’ll also be able to participate in a federally organized peer group of communities fighting climate change and have access to Energy Department programs on deploying solar power locally.

For more information:

Call for submissions: Michigan Journal of Sustainability Special Edition on Climate Adaptation in the United States

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by

The Michigan Journal of Sustainability is seeking high-quality work for inclusion in a special edition of our online, open-access, peer-reviewed Journal focused on strategies being taken, research underway, or promising practices to help different sectors and scales of society prepare for and build resilience to climate change. This Journal emphasizes the translation of academic sustainability research into formats that are useful and usable to practitioners and policy makers. As such, we invite abstracts that bridge the science-policy divide as it pertains to helping society adapt to existing and projected future impacts from disasters, climate variability, and long-term climate change. This special edition of our Journal is slated for release online in early 2015.

For this special edition, the Michigan Journal of Sustainability will accept timely, innovative, and informative articles translating scholarly research on efforts to prepare society and social-ecological systems more broadly, for climate change. Due to the crosscutting nature of the climate adaptation field, we strongly encourage articles that explore multi-disciplinary collaborations and articles that attempt to bridge sectoral or disciplinary divides.

Manuscripts for consideration in this special issue are due November 3, 2014 and should be submitted online at http://sustainability.umich.edu/webforms/mjs-submission.

View the complete call for papers at http://sustainability.umich.edu/mjs/submissions/.

Calculating Scope 3 Emissions: One University’s Experience

Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by

Today’s post is by guest author Mary Whitney, University Sustainability Coordinator for Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. It was originally offered as a response to an inquiry on GRNSCH-L, a mailing list for college and university sustainability professionals, about how to compile data for Scope 3 emissions for faculty and staff commuting distances and frequency. You can contact Mary at MWhitney At chatham.edu.

Accounting for Scope 3 requires a lot of figuring out what are your institutional  “indicators” that can give you a sound figure, even if it is imperfect. I always try to build in assumptions that would result in over-estimating carbon burden.

Over the last 5 years I’ve refined our commuting report and would be glad to share what we’ve developed. I still have to figure out how to account for Prius vs. Hummer issues yet though, so I’d be glad of advice on that!

When we’ve compared it to surveys, it is MORE reliable. We used to have to set up the survey, then all the reminders trying to get enough responses, etc. It was a real pain and took too much time, and it wasn’t even very accurate. Then we switched to having people put in their miles when they filled out the parking permit form, but it was wildly inaccurate – people were  just guessing.

Here’s what we have worked out since:

In order to park a car on campus you have to have a permit, and so we get a list of all permit holders from the transportation office. I have the make/model and the zipcode for each person. I correlate that with a report from HR that tells me if they’re faculty or staff, 12-month or 9-month, full or part time, and another from the registrar with students full or part time.

We then assume that full time is every day, 5 days a week. This is often NOT the case, but this way we won’t undercount trips. Part-time is considered to be 3 days a week, although again, it is often less. This assumes you’re here for a MWF schedule, even though many people are only doing T/TH. I can’t tell, but again, the assumption is that it’s more trips, not less. Faculty and students are counted for 36 weeks, staff work 49.

In cases where someone is part-time but attends every day, I would undercount, but so far I haven’t found many. It would be technically possible, I suppose, to cross-tab that with more registrar data, but that would be too burdensome, and I’ve made the decision not to do that. I figure that that possibility will be evened out by the person that is counted as full-time but does one marathon day of classes, 9-9pm. So afar I’ve found one of each of those extremes, so it seems a fair way to calculate.

Then I use a site that lets me set a radius from a zipcode. I saved a list of all zipcodes in various radii from the campus. We do every mile up to 25 miles, then jump to 30, then up to 50. I calculated them at www.freemaptools.com/find-zip-codes-inside-radius.htm.

We tested the zipcode radius with many people’s real mileage, and it was surprisingly (and happily) very close!  As a way to get a good number without putting a mileage recorder on their car, it works well. We always include the summer campers, using registration data from the camp. I assume that kids living over 50 miles are actually staying with Grandma nearby, calculated at 5 miles away, and we assume that anyone living less than 1/2 mile is driving, although in reality most of the people that live that close walk to camp each day, as we discovered! Again, overestimating so we don’t underestimate.

Then I have a spreadsheet calculate the whole mess. For example, Zipcode 11111 is 6 miles away, Jane Doe lives in 11111 , works full-time as staff on a 12-month contract. 6×2 for each day, x5 days a week, x 49 weeks = 2940 miles per year. Believe it or not, it is actually simple once you get the basic spreadsheet set up. The zipcode distances auto-populate, and so does a code for FT, PT, etc.

I do a similar thing with students and faculty who do not have parking permits, with the assumption that they are taking the bus, unless they are on the bike commuter list that get the tax credit.

If someone is getting dropped off by car and never has a permit, I cannot account for that, but they are at least captured somewhat in the bus calculations. There are also people who I KNOW walk to campus every day, but I calculate them as at least bus commuters, figuring it helps even out and reduce undercounting carbon impact. Not perfect, but everyone gets counted somewhere a little.

 

New Harvard Business School Working Paper on incentivizing behavior change to reduce carbon emissions

Monday, May 6th, 2013 by

In a working paper from Harvard Business School entitled “Pay for Environmental Performance: The Effect of Incentive Provision on Carbon Emissions”, researchers Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, Shelley Xin Li, and George Serafeim analyzed the incentive structures of climate change management for a sample of large, predominantly multinational organizations, then characterized and assessed the effectiveness of different types of incentive schemes that corporations have adopted to encourage employees to reduce carbon emissions. Some of their key findings include:

  • Monetary incentives are associated with higher carbon emissions.
  • Non-monetary incentives are associated with lower carbon emissions.
  • When employees perceive their action as socially positive, the adoption of non-monetary incentives might be more effective than monetary incentives in reducing carbon emissions.
  • For tasks involving socially positive behavior, monetary incentives are not effective and actually detrimental unless they are provided to people for whom such tasks constitute part of their formal job responsibility.

EPA Webcast: Resource Conservation and Recovery Strategies for GHG Reductions – Nov. 15, 2:30-4:00 PM (EST)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 by

U.S. EPA Local Climate and Energy Program Webcast
Resource Conservation and Recovery Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Reductions
November 15, 2:30-4:00 PM (EST)

The extraction, production, use, and disposal of goods and materials are responsible for an estimated 42 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This webcast will demonstrate how local governments can work with residents, private companies, and other groups to cost-effectively reduce these emissions through resource conservation and recovery strategies that reduce waste generation and divert waste from landfills. Join us to hear how Alameda County, California, and Kansas City, Missouri, are successfully implementing innovative resource conservation and recovery strategies to reduce GHG emissions, waste disposal costs, and related energy use. Also learn about EPA tools and resources available to help you design and implement resource conservation and recovery programs that are right for your community.

10 Webcasts for Climate and Energy Staff: measure climate change health impacts, access sustainability tech help, and more

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 by

EPA Webcasts

October 4, 3:00-4:00 PM (EDT) – Free Technical Assistance Available through EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program

EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program provides short-term, targeted technical assistance to help communities implement smart growth development approaches, such as creating a green streets strategy, linking land use to water quality, or conducting a parking audit. Participants will learn about the types of assistance available from EPA and its four grantees, and how to apply. This webinar is being held in response to requests for a repeat of the webinar that was held on Sept. 21; the content will be essentially the same.

October 11, 2:00-3:30 PM (EDT) – Estimating the Health Impacts of Climate Change and Clean Energy Programs

State and local climate change and clean energy policies can improve air quality, reduce negative impacts on human health, and save lives. This webinar will cover three EPA tools that state and local governments can use to estimate and communicate the health and related economic benefits of actions that reduce air emissions:

Audience: Recommended for state and local air quality, energy, public health, sustainability, and transportation planning staff.

October 11, 1:00-2:30 PM (EDT) – Solar Energy for Water and Wastewater Utilities: Step-by-Step Project Implementation and Funding Approaches
EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management hosts this webinar on helping water utilities understand how they can use solar energy to increase their energy efficiency. The first part of this webinar will detail the process of implementing solar energy projects at water or wastewater utilities, the various types of solar technologies available, and where they can be used most appropriately. The webinar will also highlight innovative funding approaches, including those with no up-front capital requirements, that result in long-term energy cost savings and stability. Finally, this webinar will present the case study of a successful solar installation at a small wastewater utility in Grafton, Massachusetts.

ENERGY STAR Webcasts

ENERGY STAR offers free online training to help you improve the energy performance of your organization. To register for any of these trainings or to see other upcoming ENERGY STAR trainings, visit the ENERGY STAR Trainings page.

October 3, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – Top Communication Strategies to Build Support for Your Energy Program

This month’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition webinar will explore how ENERGY STAR partners are building top-down and bottom-up support for energy initiatives through effective communications. Key strategies include sharing energy goals and data; bringing together internal teams to exchange expertise and lessons learned; communicating through reports, creative materials, and events; and engaging occupants to take an active role and interest in saving energy through competitions and other initiatives.

October 16, 12:00-1:00 PM (EDT) – Beyond the Basics of Benchmarking: Advanced Features of Portfolio Manager

So you’ve benchmarked your building, now what? This session builds on the Basics of Benchmarking, highlighting more features you can use in EPA’s Portfolio Manager to help you understand your building’s energy performance, set goals, and share and report data.

In this session you will learn about:

  • Strategies for keeping your data up-to-date and accurate;
  • Metrics to use to assess your building’s energy performance; and
  • How to use Portfolio Manager to demonstrate energy efficiency improvements with the goal setting, reporting, and sharing features.

Additionally, there will be time during the session to get your specific questions answered.

October 18, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – How to Apply for ENERGY STAR Certification

You’ve benchmarked your building in EPA’s Portfolio Manager, you’ve worked hard to improve its energy efficiency to get the building’s score up to a 75, and now you want to get EPA recognition for this accomplishment. The ENERGY STAR Certification will distinguish your building as a superior energy performer.

October 24, 2:00-3:00 PM (EDT) – How to Launch an ENERGY STAR Energy Efficiency Competition

Time and time again, leading ENERGY STAR partners have found that a spirit of healthy competition and the opportunity for recognition are among the best drivers for participation in organization- or community-wide energy management. Any organization can run a competition, including trade associations, commercial businesses, manufacturing companies, local and state governments, schools, congregations, and more. Join ENERGY STAR for this hour-long presentation to learn about (1) the many benefits of energy efficiency competitions; (2) the basic steps you can take to plan and launch an energy efficiency competition; (3) common barriers and possible solutions; and (4) the resources made available by ENERGY STAR that can help you in this process, including the ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy Efficiency Competitions.

October 30, 2:00-3:15 PM (EDT) – Financing Energy Efficient Upgrades with ENERGY STAR

Learn how public sector organizations are improving energy efficiency with innovative solutions to financial barriers. Attendees will learn about financing projects in the public and private sectors, the basics of performance contracting, and how EPA’s tools and resources can help you make the decision to improve your facilities now or later.

NALGEP (National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals)

October 3, 2:00-3:15 PM (EDT) – EPA’s Brownfields Area-wide Pilot Program: Lessons Learned and New Funding Opportunity

EPA’s Brownfields Area-wide Pilot Program is helping 23 pilot communities respond to local brownfields challenges, particularly where multiple brownfield sites are in close proximity; connected by infrastructure; and limit the overall economic, environmental, and social prosperity of their surroundings. The webinar, sponsored by NALGEP and the Brownfield Communities Network, will discuss lessons learned from the program, share pilot examples, and preview plans for the upcoming RFP for the next round of pilot grants.

ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy)

October 11, 4:00-5:00 PM (EDT) – Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) and Home Energy Retrofit Programs

The ACEEE webinar will be co-hosted by staff from the One Change Foundation, who will be on hand to discuss details of their High Five philosophy for mounting CBSM campaigns in support of home energy retrofits. High Five is one of the approaches discussed in the recent ACEEE white paper,Reaching the “High-Hanging Fruit” through Behavior Change: How Community-Based Social Marketing Puts Energy Savings within Reach. This white paper, the first in a forthcoming series on social and behavioral insights and their application for energy efficiency programs, will be available for download on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

From the State and Local Archives

Climate Change Adaptation for State and Local Governments

This three-part series is one of the most popular series we’ve ever hosted. You can listen to all of it online, in addition to the dozens of other webcasts we have archived on our website.

  • Part One: Climate Impacts and Risk Communication
  • Part Two: Adaptation Planning and Implementation
  • Part Three: Federal Resources and Support for Climate Change Adaptation

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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PPRC Releases Climate Change Topic Hub

Monday, July 26th, 2010 by

pprclogo

The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) recently released the Climate Change Topic Hub™, a peer-reviewed, information-packed online resource geared toward small- to medium-sized businesses and industrial sectors that offers an extensive list of pollution prevention opportunities involving process modification, material substitution, and new technology.

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