Archive for the 'Local Government' Category

Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar Oct. 13: Waste Reduction with SCARCE

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 by

Join the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Thursday, October 13 for a Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar, “Waste Reduction with SCARCE.” The webinar will be broadcast from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Central, and will be recorded and posted to the Challenge web site for later viewing. Register online at

School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE), is an environmental education and assistance organization based in DuPage County, IL. Kay McKeen, SCARCE Founder and Executive Director, and Erin Kennedy, Environmental Educator and LEED GA, will discuss resources and guidance available from SCARCE to help your school or district achieve food waste reduction and diversion goals.

Coordinated by ISTC with funding from US EPA Region 5, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary pledge program for schools to improve the sustainability of their food service operations. By registering, participants are accepting the challenge to reduce and prevent food waste in their facilities. The Challenge involves suggested activities that range in complexity and commitment, to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget and available community resources. Participants are not required to complete activities, but with each activity that is completed successfully, they earn points and can be recognized as having achieved different levels of accomplishment. Learn more, and register your school or district, at


Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar, Sept. 30, Features Innovative School Projects

Saturday, September 24th, 2016 by

Join us on Friday, September 30, 2016 for a Green Lunchroom Challenge Webinar, “School Gardening and Composting at Salem High School (MA).” The webinar will be broadcast from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Central, and will be recorded and posted to the Challenge web site for later viewing. Register online at

Learn about innovative on-site gardening and composting efforts at Salem High School (Salem, MA). These projects not only provide fresh produce for school meals, but also engaging experiential learning opportunities for students. Our presenters will be Graeme Marcoux, Salem High School science teacher, and Deborah Jeffers, Food Services Director. This school not only has traditional garden plots, but also grows produce in a modified, climate controlled shipping container from Freight Farms. This atypical approach to on-site gardening allows the school to generate more fresh produce than they would with their traditional plots alone, and can allow growing during any season. This CBS Boston feature on the school’s efforts provides more information, and may help you formulate questions you’d like to ask during the webinar:

Coordinated by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) with funding from US EPA Region 5, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary pledge program for schools to improve the sustainability of their food service operations. By registering, participants are accepting the challenge to reduce and prevent food waste in their facilities. The Challenge involves suggested activities that range in complexity and commitment, to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget and available community resources. Participants are not required to complete activities, but with each activity that is completed successfully, they earn points and can be recognized as having achieved different levels of accomplishment. Learn more, and register your school or district, at

Green Lunchroom Challenge Logo

Green Lunchroom Challenge to Assist IL Schools with Food Waste Prevention, Reduction

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 by

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, food production represents 10 percent of the total US energy budget, uses 50 percent of US land, and accounts for 80 percent of the freshwater we consume–yet, 40 percent of food in the US goes uneaten. And in 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children. Food waste is clearly both a tremendous problem and opportunity for improving the sustainability of our society. Reducing food waste in schools not only helps to ensure those precious expended resources are providing nutrition as intended, but also provides the opportunity to set important examples of conservation and systems thinking among our impressionable youth, which will hopefully stay with them as they become our next generation of leaders.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is therefore pleased to announce an exciting new project that addresses this important societal and environmental challenge. In order to identify sources of food waste in K-12 schools and facilitate its prevention and reduction, ISTC, in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), UI Extension, and Beyond Green Partners, Inc., is launching the Green Lunchroom Challenge this fall. Funded by US EPA Region 5, the program is open for participation from K-12 schools throughout the state. Marketing of the program will however, be targeted toward underserved regions of southern Illinois, including Pulaski, Alexander, Marion, White, and Fayette counties. According to data from the ISBE, over 70 percent of K-12 students in those counties are eligible for assistance through the National School Lunch Program. By preventing and reducing food waste in these areas particularly, and throughout the state, it is hoped the Challenge will not only achieve environmental benefits, but also stretch federal and state assistance and resources through increased efficiency.

Elementary school students in cafeteria

Photo: USDA Blog

Similar to the successful Illinois Green Office Challenge, the Green Lunchroom Challenge is a voluntary, “friendly competition,” in which participating schools will choose among a variety of suggested activities to improve the sustainability of their food service. These activities will range in complexity and commitment to allow participants to best suit their situation, budget, and available community resources. Examples might include, but not be limited to, composting of food scraps, use of creative entree names and careful relative placement of food choices to reduce waste of fruit and vegetables, donation of unused food to local food banks or shelters, etc. In addition to operationally related activities, schools may also choose to integrate food waste prevention and reduction into curricula, helping students learn about food security and hunger, composting, the circular economy, and stewardship. Resources and guidance will be available on the project web site and from ISTC technical assistance staff for each recommended activity, and participants will earn points for every activity they complete. Relative progress will be displayed on an online leaderboard. On Earth Day 2016, the participating public K-12 school with the most points will be declared the winner for the year and will receive public recognition and a prize (to be determined) to foster continuous improvement.

A kickoff workshop will be held in September 2015 (date and location to be announced) to introduce the Challenge; identify (in part through feedback from school and district representatives in attendance) key sources of food waste in schools, as well as barriers to its prevention; to raise awareness among potential participants of existing relevant toolkits and programs; and to provide comprehensive training on analysis and modification of menus, food procurement and inventory, lunchroom procedures, etc. Note that a school does not need to participate in the workshop to participate in the Challenge, and schools may register throughout the Challenge period (Sept. 1, 2015- April 1, 2016). While the competition is only open to K-12 schools in Illinois, ISTC hopes that other states and organizations beyond schools will be able to use resources developed for the Challenge to guide food waste reduction and prevention in their operations and regions.

Interested parties may contact Joy Scrogum with questions or to request addition to the mailing list for more information on the workshop and activities as it becomes available. The project web site will be available soon, and potential participants will be able to sign up to receive further information there as well. (The URL for the program web site will be posted in the comments of this post as soon as it is live.)

cafeteria tray

Photo by Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon

This post was originally published on the ISTC Blog, July 7, 2015.

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

MPCA and Freshwater Future collaborate to spread the word about reducing PAH contamination from coal tar sealcoat

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 by

This post was co-authored by Al Innes of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Cheryl Kallio of Freshwater Future. If you’d like your sustainability project featured on the GLRPPR Blog, contact Laura Barnes.

Freshwater Future, a non-profit based in west Michigan, has been “spreading” the word about reducing PAH contamination from coal tar sealcoat across the Great Lakes.  The hundreds of citizens and community-based organizations in Freshwater Future’s network learned about coal tar PAH issues over the summer, and now universities, contractors, and local governments are making commitments to move from coal tar to safer alternatives.

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are chemicals which can cause cancer in humans and be toxic to aquatic life, and new studies are connecting them to developmental disabilities in children.  Vehicle emissions and wood smoke are other sources of PAH pollution, but coal tar sealcoat, which is around 5% PAHs by weight, is a readily-reduced source.  Applied properly, the asphalt-based sealcoats available today are equivalent in performance and cost to coal tar, at 1/1000th the amount of PAHs.  Zero-PAH alternatives are available, as well.

In response to Freshwater Future’s outreach to date, 14 Michigan cities and townships have passed resolutions not to use coal tar on city property or to encourage residents to do the same. Their location along the Great Lakes and in the watershed is important, since studies conducted in Toronto and elsewhere show coal tar PAHs being carried to lakeshore sediments by runoff from paved surfaces.

Many of the contractors committing not to apply coal tar are located near the western Michigan cities taking action, so Freshwater Future and partners can help connect property owners in those areas to the committed contractors to help grow the market for safer alternatives.

In addition, two universities in Ontario, two in Michigan, and two in Illinois have pledged not to use coal tar on their paved surfaces.  The University of Michigan had previously ended its use.

Since the project began, over 8,000 individuals and organizations have been educated, 52 property owners and providers have voluntarily taken action, and pledged contractors interviewed have eliminated 93,500 gallons of coal tar sealcoat over 2 application seasons.  The midpoint estimate of the resulting PAH reductions is 39 tons.  Partners will gather voluntary reduction data for 2014 in November and December and submit final reports to the project’s funder, EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The wave of local bans and supplier/contractor commitments in Minnesota led to a statewide ban which took effect in 2014.

The Great Lakes protection and pollution prevention networks can continue coal tar PAH reduction by educating their contacts and clientele: businesses, shopping centers, schools, universities, places of worship, local governments, homeowner associations, citizens – really, anyone owning or maintaining asphalt pavement.  Information and tools for this outreach are available through the Freshwater Future web site, at

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will continue to accept reduction commitments from contractors, suppliers, universities, and other property owners in Great Lakes states (except in Minnesota where the statewide ban is in place) and Ontario.  MPCA staff will post these commitments and government actions in the Basin at  MPCA and partners encourage prevention and protection professionals to actively promote sign-ups by providers, and their hiring by pavement owners.

A compilation of project deliverables to date and links to information about the health and environmental issues associated with PAH pollution are available at

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:

New LibGuides available: Focus on resilient cities, environmental law

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by

GLRPPR staff have recently converted the Printing — Flexography and Printing — Lithography topic hubs to LibGuides. GLRPPR staff have been working for several years to migrate the topic hub content into LibGuides to integrate social features and multimedia, as well as improve the ability to update links and other information. We will have the Sustainable Schools and P2 in Art Education topic hubs converted by the end of August, which will complete the process.

Jessica Tieman, a graduate student at the University of Illinois’ Graduate School of Library and Information Science, has developed a guide to Illinois environmental law, with a focus on pollution prevention and sustainability. The guide was originally a class project for LIS 525 — Government Information. She graciously allowed us to republish it in the University of Illinois’ LibGuides community so that it can be continuously updated. The serves as a reference aid for Illinois statutory law relating to environmental and pollution regulations, sustainability initiatives, and energy efficiency standards. Commercial groups are encouraged to use the guide to meet state requirements. Although the guide focuses on Illinois environmental law, it also includes more general compliance assistance and federal law resources.

The librarians at the Prairie Research Institute Library have developed a new guide to assist communities with becoming more resilient in the face of a changing climate and other threats. The guide includes information on:

  • strategies for identifying and responding to many barriers to resilient communities, including climate change, natural disasters, landscape and ecosystem, and infrastructure;
  • funding sources;
  • agencies and organizations that can assist;
  • current research at the University of Illinois; and
  • case studies.

For a more general discussion of LibGuides, see my 2013 P2 Week post on the topic. For a complete list of LibGuides that I’ve developed, see



Improving Water Management in the Great Lakes Basin

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by

A team led by the Great Lakes Commission is working with communities in the United States and Canada to identify and test the ecological and financial rationales for pursuing water conservation and green infrastructure practices, and pilot how this information can drive better water management throughout the Great Lakes region.

In order to be effective in the Great Lakes Region, the project team believes that water conservation must include strategies that impact municipal supply, stormwater, and wastewater, which involve engaging a different set of stakeholders than traditional water conservation programs.

The team will pilot this approach in six communities (three in the U.S., and three in Ontario). Participating communities include:

  • The Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario;
  • The City of Waterloo, Ontario;
  • The City of Guelph, Ontario;
  • The Township of Lyons, Michigan;
  • The Township of Commerce, Michigan; and
  • Southwest Oakland County, Michigan.

These communities extract water from a variety of ground and surface water sources and face challenges that are common throughout the basin. These  include the overuse of groundwater supplies, stream impacts from water withdrawal and discharge, and impacts related to stormwater runoff

A detailed impact and infrastructure assessment will be conducted in each of the six pilot communities. This will include:

  • Developing a set of management actions for each community that will reduce environmental impacts and decrease costs;
  • Tracking the rate at which the pilot communities implement the recommended actions and calculating the environmental and financial impacts; and
  • Creating and testing a series of knowledge transfer strategies that will help communities teach other communities.

The team will transfer the tools created in the pilots to communities throughout the basin. New communities of practice will be created around the most promising techniques that have ecological importance and basinwide applicability.

The project team has already facilitated a webinar entitled “Extreme Makeover: How Six Model Municipalities Are Greening Their Water Management Program and Their Bottom Line.” The archived webinar and presentation slides are available at


For more information on this project, please contact John Jackson, Project Manager,, 519-744-7503; or  Christine Manninen, GLC Project Manager,, 734-971-9135.

Funding opportunities for State, Local, and Tribal Governments

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 by
Nearly $10 million of funding and technical assistance is available for state, local, and tribal governments from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Forest Service, Wells Fargo and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and Georgetown University that can be used to support climate and energy initiatives, including sustainable communities, community forests, and energy efficiency. For full eligibility and application details, please visit the links provided below.
In addition, please visit the calendar of 2013 EPA grant opportunities that may be of particular interest to communities.
Bureau of Indian Affairs 2013 Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Grant Program – $600,000
Application Due: November 29, 2013
Eligible Entities: Federally Recognized Tribes and inter-tribal organizations
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has made available competitive grants for tribal adaptation, training, and tribal travel support to participate in technical training, workshops, forums, and cooperatives. Grants in the following categories will be considered for funding: Category I) Design a series of tribal workshops to support tribal leaders/climate change coordinators/planners to gain the skills needed to guide a tribal government level climate adaptation plan; Category II) Development of tribal government climate adaptation plans, vulnerability assessments, or data analysis that supports multiple tribes. Category III) Travel support to attend technical workshops or to participate in cooperative climate change adaptation efforts.
For more information, visit the request for proposals.
Corporation for National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps State and National Grants – Total funding available TBD
Notice of Intent Due: December 11, 2013
Application Due: January 8, 2014
Eligible Entities: Government entities within states or territories; Tribes; public or private nonprofit organizations; institutions of higher education; labor organizations; partnerships and consortia
The AmeriCorps State and National Grants provide funding to engage AmeriCorps members in service interventions strengthen communities. Focus areas for the grants include: Disaster Services, Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Veterans and Military Families. Grants may be used to provide support for direct services that contribute to increased energy and water efficiency, renewable energy use, or improving at-risk ecosystems.
For more information, visit the AmeriCorps Grants webpage.
Wells Fargo and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Environmental Solutions for Communities
Grants Program – Grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 each
Application Due: December 16, 2013
Eligible Entities: State, tribal, and local governments; educational institutions; and non-profit 501(c) organizations
Wells Fargo and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation seek to promote sustainable communities through Environmental Solutions for Communities by supporting highly-visible projects that link economic development and community well-being to the stewardship and health of the environment. Funding priorities include ‘greening’ traditional infrastructure and public projects such as storm water management and flood control, urban forestry, and education and training of community leaders on sustainable practices.
For more information, visit the request for proposals.
National Endowment for the Arts FY 2014 Our Town Initiative – Grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 each
Application Due: January 13, 2014
Eligible Entities: All applications must involve two primary partners: a local government entity and a nonprofit organization. Local governments include counties, parishes, cities, towns, villages, or federally recognized tribal governments. Local arts agencies or other departments, agencies, or entities within an eligible local government may submit the application on behalf of that local government.
The National Endowment for the Arts will provide a limited number of grants, ranging from $25,000 to $200,000, for creative placemaking projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The Our Town initiative will invest in creative and innovative projects in which communities, together with their arts and design organizations and artists, seek to improve their quality of life, foster stronger community identity and a sense of place, and revitalize economic development.
For more information, visit the grant opportunity webpage.
The Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Program – $4 million
Application Due: January 15, 2014
Eligible Entities: Local governments, federally recognized tribes and Alaskan Native Corporations, and non-profits who are eligible to hold title to land for conservation purposes.
The Community Forest Program is a grant program that authorizes the Forest Service to provide financial assistance to establish community forests that provide continuing and accessible community benefits. Community forests provide many benefits such as protection of habitat, water quality, and other environmental benefits, and they can provide economic benefits through timber resources. Community Forests have also long been sites for environmental and cultural education.
For more information, visit the opportunity synopsis.
Georgetown University Energy Prize –$5 million
Letters of Intent Due: February 2014
Eligible Entities: For this competition, a “community” is defined geographically by the limits of a municipality – a town, city, or county that has corporate status and local government. All small to medium municipalities in the U.S.A. with populations between 5,000 and 250,000 are eligible to apply.
The Georgetown University Energy Prize is a competition in which communities will be challenged to work together with their local governments and utilities in order to develop and begin implementing plans for innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual reductions in the per capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities. Participating communities will be asked to develop a long-term energy efficiency plan and to demonstrate initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. Participating communities will benefit from access to various resources and the winning community will receive $5 million, which will help to support their continuing community-based energy efficiency efforts. Interested communities are encouraged to submit a non-binding letter of intent as soon as possible.
For more information, visit the energy prize website.

Avoid hazards of coal tar asphalt sealcoats

Friday, September 20th, 2013 by

Most of us are familiar with the odor and deep black appearance of freshly sealcoated asphalt. Sealcoats are used to improve the appearance and prolong the life of driveways and parking lots.Some sealcoat products contain coal tar, a byproduct of coke manufacturing, which is a health and environmental hazard. A new series of fact sheets produced by the UW-Extension Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center discusses the toxicity, health and environmental hazards of coal tar and suggests ways to reduce risk.

Topics covered by the fact sheets include:

Following the lead of Dane County and the State of Washington, Minnesota recently enacted a ban on the sale and use of coal tar-based asphalt sealcoats that will take effect in January 2014, bringing the entire state in line with bans already in place in 28 Minnesota counties.

To learn more about UW-Extension’s work to enhance Wisconsin’s environment and economy, visit the Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center on the web at