Archive for the 'Local Government' Category

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 http://freshwaterfuture.org/ourissues/coal-tar-sealants/.

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 http://www.pca.state.mn.us/uu4yx6y.  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 https://storify.com/lbarnes/pah-pollution-from-coal-tar-sealants.

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 http://uiuc.libguides.com/profile/laura-l-barnes.

 

 

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 http://glc.org/projects/water-resources/water-mgmt/water-mgmt-webinars/.

Contacts

For more information on this project, please contact John Jackson, Project Manager, jjackson@web.ca, 519-744-7503; or  Christine Manninen, GLC Project Manager, manninen@glc.org, 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 http://www4.uwm.edu/shwec/index.cfm

Greening America’s Capitals: EPA Seeking Letters of Interest by September 23

Friday, September 13th, 2013 by

EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities is seeking letters of interest from state capital cities interested in receiving design assistance to create a clear and implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate smart growth strategies and green infrastructure systems. Letters of interest are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on September 23, 2013.  

Design assistance is provided through the Greening America’s Capitals program, administered by EPA. EPA conducts the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Fourteen state capitals plus the District of Columbia have received assistance from the Greening America’s Capitals program to date; up to 5 capital cities will be selected in 2013.

EPA is providing this design assistance to help state capitals create stronger neighborhoods that protect the environment. EPA will fund a team of designers to visit the successful applicants’ capital cities for up to three days to produce schematic designs and illustrations intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for a neighborhood. In the past, the EPA team has provided sustainable design techniques for streets, parks, waterfronts, and town squares. This assistance will help the selected state capitals envision ways to clean up and reuse vacant lands, provide more housing and transportation choices, reduce infrastructure and energy costs, and build civic pride in neighborhoods and the city as a whole. The design team and EPA, HUD, and DOT staff will also assist the city staff in developing specific implementation strategies.

State, Local, and Tribal Government Funding Opportunities

Monday, July 15th, 2013 by
Nearly $132 million of funding is available for state, local, and tribal governments from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Energy (DOE), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Corporation for National and Community Service that can be used to support climate and energy initiatives, including energy efficiency and sustainable planning. 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.
***HUD HOPE VI Main Street Grant Program – $500,000
Application Due: July 22, 2013
Eligible Entities: Local governments with a population of 50,000 or less, and with fewer than 100 physical public housing units
The purpose of the HOPE VI Main Street Program is to provide grants to small communities to assist in the renovation of a historic or traditional central business district or “Main Street” area by replacing unused commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. The objectives of the program are to: redevelop Main Street areas; preserve historic or traditional architecture or design features in Main Street areas; enhance economic development efforts in Main Street areas; and provide affordable housing in Main Street areas. HUD will require grantees to take specific energy-saving actions as part of HUD’s Strategic Plan.
For more information, visit the grant opportunity synopsis.
***DOE State Energy Program 2013 Competitive Awards – $5 million
Application Due: July 25, 2013
Eligible Entities: State Energy Office (SEO) or other agency responsible for administering the State Energy Program. States may work in collaboration with non-State entities including local governments.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s State Energy Program seeks applications to advance policies, programs, and market strategies that accelerate job creation and reduce energy bills while achieving energy and climate security for the nation. The funding opportunity’s areas of interest include: 1) Advancing Industrial Energy Efficiency; 2) Stimulating Energy Efficiency Action in States; 3) Driving Demand for Public Facility Retrofits; and 3) Clean-Energy Economic Opportunity Roadmaps.
For more information, visit the funding announcement.
***Corporation for National and Community Service’s Senior Corps: RSVP – $14.5 million
Letter of Intent to Apply: August 9, 2013
Application Due: September 10, 2013
Eligible Entities: Public agencies (including state and local agencies and other units of government), Indian Tribes, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and government-recognized veteran service organizations
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) RSVP Program one of the largest senior volunteer programs in the nation and offers a diverse range of volunteer activities that serve communities to create measurable impact, benefit volunteers through the service experience, and create community capacity. RSVP will focus grant making for fiscal year 2014 in six focus areas including environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, and disaster services. For example, grant activities may support increased citizen behavioral change leading to increased efficiency, renewable energy use, and ecosystem improvements. In this competition, CNCS intends to fund RSVP projects that support volunteers 55 years and older serving in a diverse range of activities that meet specific local and community needs. A letter of intent to apply is not required, but highly encouraged.
For more information, visit the grant opportunity synopsis.
***HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants – $109 million
Application Due: September 10, 2013
Eligible Entities: Public housing authorities, local governments, nonprofits, tribal entities, and for-profit developers that apply jointly with a public entity.
The Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants support the development of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans which, when implemented, will be expected to achieve the following three core goals: 1) Housing: Replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood; 2) People: Improve educational outcomes and intergenerational mobility for youth and supports delivered directly to youth and their families; and 3) Neighborhood: Create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community.
For more information, visit the funding announcement.
***EDA Economic Development Assistance Programs Federal Funding Opportunity – Total funding available TBD
Application Due: Varies by program year; next due date is September 13, 2013
Eligible Entities: State and local governments, federally recognized tribes, non-profits, institutions of higher education.
Under the Economic Development Assistance Programs (EDAP) Federal Funding Opportunity announcement, EDA will make construction, non-construction, and revolving loan fund investments under the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs. Grants made under these programs will leverage regional assets to support the implementation of regional economic development strategies designed to create jobs, leverage private capital, encourage economic development, and strengthen America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. EDA is soliciting applications from rural and urban communities to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions. EDA’s investment priorities include environmentally sustainable development and economically distressed and underserved communities.
For more information, visit the grant opportunity synopsis.
***FTA Bus Efficiency Enhancements Research and Demonstrations – $3 million
Application Due: September 20, 2013
Eligible Entities: State and local governmental entities; providers of public transportation; Departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Government; private or non-profit organizations; institutions of higher education; and technical and community colleges.
The FTA seeks to promote the development and demonstration of targeted energy efficiency-enhancing technologies, specifically enhanced Electrification of Accessories and improvements in Thermal Management of Bus Bodies, for buses utilized in public transportation. Teams must include key roles by individuals representing both (1) a public transportation agency and (2) a bus manufacturer or supplier of relevant systems or components.
For more information, visit the funding opportunity webpage.

Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools

Friday, November 16th, 2012 by

I have an article in the most recent issue of Library Hi Tech entitled “Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools.” In it, I provide an overview of green building technologies and practices and illustrate how public libraries can use them as tools to teach their communities about sustainability and foster behavior change.

The full citation for the article is: Barnes, Laura L. (2012). “Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools.” Library Hi Tech 30(3), 397-407. (Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/07378831211266546). I’ve also deposited a version of this article at http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34138 for those who don’t subscribe to the journal.

Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of green building technologies and practices and illustrate how public libraries can use them as tools to teach their communities about sustainability and foster behavior change.

Design/methodology/approach – Through literature searches, case studies analysis, and individual phone and e-mail interviews, the author identified ways that public libraries can use their buildings to demonstrate green technologies and practices and show their patrons how to apply them at home, at work, and in the community.

Findings – Education is a component of LEED certification. Many LEED certified libraries publicize a list of the green technologies used in their building projects. Some sponsor programs related to the green building and include permanent displays in the library to explain how the technology works. The Fayetteville Public Library went beyond these basic techniques to not only improve the sustainability of their operations but also become a community test bed for a renewable energy project.

Originality/value – This paper sheds light on how building projects can be used not only to educate the public about green technologies and practices, but also inspire others to begin using similar techniques at home, at work, and in the community.

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.