Archive for the 'Minnesota' Category

University of Minnesota Institute on Environment’s Fall 2014 Frontiers in the Environment Series focusing on big questions

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 by

Read the full post from the University of Minnesota Institute on Environment.

This fall, the Institute on the Environment is refreshing our popular Frontiers in the Environment series. We’ll ask some Big Questions and host solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery.

Below is the schedule from the web site.

Frontiers in the Environment: Big Questions

Solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery.

Wednesdays, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST
IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul
Free and open to the public; no registration required
Join us online via UMConnect

September 24 — Can We Build a More Resilient Food Distribution System?

Matteo Convertino, IonE Resident Fellow and Assistant Professor, School of Public Health; and Craig Hedberg, Professor, School of Public Health

Despite being a global concern, food safety is addressed in a systematic way only in some developed countries. We need an integrated ‘”system science” approach to managing the global food system that considers multiple needs and constraints, as well as an efficient system for transporting food and rapidly detecting food contamination and adulterations. Matteo Convertino and Craig Hedberg will describe a project that’s using computer modeling to predict and deal with food-borne disease outbreaks worldwide based on food supply chain structures and epidemiological data.

October 1 — How can the University of Minnesota assist the energy transition?

Hari Osofsky, IonE Resident Fellow, Law School Professor and Energy Transition Lab Faculty Director; and Ellen Anderson, Energy Transition Lab Executive Director

Our energy system is transitioning in ways that create critical challenges. Evolving approaches to sources of energy, electricity and transportation, energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, climate change, and environmental and energy justice affect every community and region and every sector of the economy. We need to remove barriers to needed change at local, state, regional, national, and international levels, and identify a holistic strategy for moving forward. Energy Transition Lab faculty director, IonE resident fellow, and Law School professor Hari Osofsky, and Energy Transition Lab executive director Ellen Anderson see Minnesota and beyond as a living laboratory for finding innovative solutions. They will explore how the lab will collaborate with business, government, NGO, community leaders, and university-based experts to make progress on these challenges.

October 8 — How Might the Twin Cities Help Catalyze Needed Global Urban Innovations?

Patrick Hamilton, Ione Resident Fellow and Director, Science Museum of Minnesota’s Global Change Initiatives; Anne Hunt, Environmental Policy Director, City of Saint Paul; Peter Frosch, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Greater MSP; and Mike Greco, Lecturer, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

By 2050, more than 6 billion people will live in cities. The quality of life in these cities of the future — and, by extension, our planet — is being shaped by decisions we make today. Patrick Hamilton will engage panelists Anne Hunt, Peter Frosch, and Mike Greco in a lively discussion of how the Twin Cities — one of the healthiest, wealthiest, best educated, and most innovative, creative and connected urban centers in the world — might use its considerable academic, nonprofit and business acumen to shape initiatives that directly benefit its residents while also helping to advance creative urbanism everywhere.

October 15 — Should Society Put a Price Tag on Nature?

Steve Polasky, Ione Resident Fellow; Project Lead, Natural Capital Project; and Professor, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Natural environments such as grasslands, forests and wetlands provide ecosystem services —benefits such as clean air and water and eye-pleasing landscapes. We value these amenities in the abstract, yet rarely figure them into a budget or balance sheet when developing a shopping mall or planting a cornfield. Steve Polasky will moderate a discussion about whether society could or should place a monetary value on nature — and if so, how to incorporate that value into decisions about resource management, conservation and environmental regulation.

October 22 — What Does a Sustainable Clean Water Future for Minnesota Look Like?

Bonnie Keeler, Lead Scientist, Natural Capital Project; Deb Swackhamer, Program Director, Water Resources Center; and John Linc Stine, Commissioner, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Minnesota has a reputation as a land of abundant, high-quality lakes and rivers. But is our water clean enough? Addressing surface water quality problems is expensive and not without trade-offs, such as lost industry, agricultural production and development. Bonnie Keeler, Deb Swackhamer and John Linc Stine will share their visions of a sustainable clean water future for Minnesota.

October 29 — What Is the Role of the Environment in This Year’s Minnesota Elections?

David Gillette, Special Correspondent, Twin Cities Public Television; Amy Koch, Small Business Owner and Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader; and Mark Andrew, President, Greenmark

With all the statewide constitutional offices up for grabs — plus a federal senate seat — it’s a busy election year in Minnesota. Surveys show that while people care about the environment, they often don’t make it the top issue when voting. How important are environmental issues in this fall’s elections? How are environmental issues being framed? What impact might the election have on environmental policy in the state? And what can University of Minnesota faculty, staff and students do to help voters understand what’s at stake?

November 5 —  How Can We Make the Most of the Agriculture’s 21st Century Transformation?

Nicholas Jordan, IonE Resident Fellow and Professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and Carissa Schively Slotterback, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Agriculture is in the midst of a revolutionary transformation. Output is rapidly shifting from a few predominant crops and commodities to a wide array of new foods, feeds, bioproducts and biofuels. At the same time, emphasis is shifting from minimizing adverse impacts to capitalizing on the potential of agriculture to improve soil, water, biodiversity and climate. Nicholas Jordan and Carissa Schively Slotterback will describe emerging opportunities and explore how one initiative in southern Minnesota is bringing science, social science and humanities together to develop and test a process for helping rural communities make the most of the economic and environmental benefits of the new bioeconomy as it develops around them .

November 12 — How Can We Help Children Connect to the Natural World?

Cathy Jordan, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium

These days, kids spend more time staring at a computer monitor or playing with electronic games than they do interacting with nature. Cathy Jordan will address questions such as: What effect does this have on children’s well-being and, ultimately, the well-being of our planet? What are the benefits of connecting children to nature? What can urban planners, landscape architects, educators and parents do to foster engagement between children and the natural world?

November 29 — Environmentalists and Corporations Make Strange Bedfellows . . . Or Do They?

Steve Polasky, Ione Resident Fellow; Project Lead, Natural Capital Project; and Professor, College Of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences with [panelists to be named]

When we think of a group of environmentalists fighting to protect fragile habitat, we may imagine an angry mob outside the gates of a manufacturer, chanting and waving signs. Or circulating an online petition. Or maybe boycotting a product. But the times, they are a-changin.’ Modern-day environmentalists are taking seats in boardrooms and influencing business practices on a global scale. Steve Polasky and panelists will share insights, challenges and successes in this lively conversation about these 21st century partnerships.

Brewers For Clean Water

Monday, July 7th, 2014 by

With water being the main ingredient in beer, having clean water is crucial to the brewing process. Not only can the slightest of impurities throw off the flavor of the batch tremendously, but it can also become a health concern. Dozens of craft brewers, many of which rely on water from the Great Lakes, launched a campaign last year with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), advocating for the strengthening of water quality policies. Attempts to lower the regulations on water in recent years has not only put the beer industry in jeopardy, but also threatens public health for many other industries. Watch this video to hear from the participating breweries about the campaign.

The campaign also has created a Facebook page to keep supporters informed of all updates regarding the campaign. From hosting sustainability talks with the breweries to creating petitions to be sent to the EPA, those who wish to support the campaign will find everything they need to become a part of the cause.

For more information and a complete list of local breweries involved in the campaign, visit the NRDC website.

To learn more about sustainability in other food processing industries, please visit the GLRPPR Sector Resource for Food Processing.

Minnesota Freshwater Society Offers Opportunities for Residents Interested in Pollution Prevention

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by

This post was authored by Lauren Murphy, who joined the GLRPPR staff in March. Lauren is a junior in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Minnesota has always been a welcoming place for organizations advocating for pollution prevention. The Freshwater Society, a nonprofit organization established in 1968, is dedicated to promoting conservation, protection, and restoration of all freshwater resources, which plays a large role in pollution prevention of Minnesota waters.

Recently the Freshwater Society launched two projects aimed at taking action to restore Minnesota’s freshwater resources.

Master Water Stewards Program

The Freshwater Society and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District recently launched the Master Water Stewards program to certify and support community leaders to implement pollution prevention programs within the District. The program’s goals are to further educate the community, reduce pollutants from urban runoff, and allow more water to soak into the ground before running into storm sewer systems.

The MWS Program provides a 50-hour long program of courses and projects for residents of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District who would like to become volunteer community leaders for future pollution prevention projects.

Learn more about the program by watching this video.

If you are a resident of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and are interested in the program, visit the program’s web site for more information, a calendar of events, and for the application to join the 2014 class.

2014 State of Water Conference

The 2014 State of Water Conference will be held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, MN from May 1, 2014-May 2, 2014. It provides opportunities for individuals who are committed to improving and protecting water resources to network and connect with professionals from around the state, gain technical insights, and identify opportunities to become involved in water resource protection.

The conference will feature 70+ presenters, including Darby Nelson, author of the book For Love of Lakes, and Dr. Peter Sorenson, the head researcher at the new Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota, as well as a variety of breakout sessions offered throughout the two days. These workshops and breakout sessions will give attendees the latest information about water issues related to runoff pollution, local impacts, watersheds, aquatic habitat restoration, and aquatic invasive species. The full conference schedule can be found here:
http://freshwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/State-of-Water-brochure.pdf.

For more information and to register to attend the conference, visit http://www.conservationminnesota.org/state-of-water-conference/.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency publishes green chemistry case studies

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by

This post originally appeared on Environmental News Bits.

For the last several years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, through a U.S. EPA grant, has funded projects in the state that promote the use of green chemistry in industry and encourage the teaching of green chemistry and design principles in Minnesota’s colleges and universities. The case studies from these projects were recently published on the MPCA web site. Details of the project and links to the associated case studies are included below.

Green Chemistry and Design Demonstration Project

Background

Demonstration projects tested whether grants of around $50,000 can provide threshold funding to businesses to undertake green chemistry and design changes to their products, or to the components of products they deliver to customers or supply chains.

Grants co-funded basic chemistry research, moved research or development already in progress closer to completion, or adapted off-the-shelf green chemistry technology. Actual implementation of product changes through retooled production were the ideal end-result, but product design or redesign and testing with a commitment to carry the new design through to production sufficed.

Funds were awarded in the form of a grant to a company that controlled the design of a product or component and committed to a green chemistry and design improvement of such a product or component. Internal teams and external partnerships were vital and could include the company designing the product or component, their customer(s), their production supply chain, and either internal or third-party (external) technical resource providers such as consultants, graduate research students, labs or testing facilities, mentoring companies, or others.

Demonstration projects were designed to support the research and development side of the product design process. Grant funds could not be used for purchasing the equipment necessary to produce the newly designed or redesigned product. Equipment purchases could be made through state low-interest loan programs, either MPCA environmental loans or those available through other state agencies.

More information is available at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/topics/preventing-waste-and-pollution/p2-pollution-prevention/reducing-toxicity/green-chemistry-and-design/green-chemistry-and-design-demonstration-project.html.

Case Studies

Green Chemistry and Design College Curriculum Grant Projects

Background

The MPCA has been exploring the most effective means for state government to promote wider use of Green Chemistry and Design. The MPCA has pursued this exploration as part of its 22-year-old Pollution Prevention program, to arrive at both life-cycle environmental improvement and a more profitable and sustainable economy.

The MPCA is researching and evaluating a number of mechanisms for supporting broader use of Green Chemistry:

  • Grants to Minnesota companies in various sectors to pursue Green Chemistry, Engineering and Design improvements in products;
  • Improved multi-stakeholder networks to facilitate awareness and information exchange (including the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum, annual Minnesota Green Chemistry conferences, and the Environmental Initiative’s Chemicals Policy stakeholder process);
  • Integration of Green Chemistry information and best practices into existing State-funded assistance services;
  • Broadening markets for Green Chemistry and overall greener products through State purchasing, facilitation of greener private-sector supply chains, and use of existing or new tax incentives;
  • High-level State Green Chemistry initiatives and policy proposals;
  • Grants and networking to strengthen Green Chemistry education.

Learning from this exploration of potential state government programs supporting Green Chemistry will be reported to the Governor and Minnesota Legislature periodically to inform future policy decisions.

These grants supported the development of Green Chemistry and Design curricula at more post-secondary institutions in Minnesota and strengthen the Minnesota and national network of post-secondary faculty teaching aspects of Green Chemistry and Design. More information is available at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/topics/preventing-waste-and-pollution/p2-pollution-prevention/reducing-toxicity/green-chemistry-and-design/green-chemistry-and-design-college-curriculum-grant-projects.html.

Case Studies

 

Minnesota 2012-2013 Green Chemistry and Design College Curriculum Grant Projects

Monday, October 14th, 2013 by

Two grant projects, funded through MPCA’s Environmental Assistance Grant Program, supported the development of Green Chemistry and Design curricula at Northwestern Health Sciences University and a new laboratory experiment at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to teach introductory chemistry students about sustainable polymers.

Further information and links to previous case studies are available here.

Use of Formaldehyde and HBCD in Minnesota

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has completed a project with the Stratford Companies to work with the MPCA to assess the presence and use of formaldehyde and Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) in Minnesota’s composite and fabricated wood building and furnishing products by manufacturers, architects, engineers and contractors (the value chain). Links to summaries of the findings from these surveys are below. Copies of the final white papers are available by request to Mark Snyder.

More information on the ongoing project is available here.

Minnesota Puts Spotlight on Green Chemistry and Design

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 by

The GLRPPR Blog is pleased to welcome Phyllis Strong, Pollution Prevention Coordinator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). She’s written a guest post about MPCA’s green chemistry and design projects. If you’d like to contribute a post to the GLRPPR Blog, please contact Laura Barnes at l-barnes at illinois.edu.

Over the past four years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has worked on specific projects to promote green chemistry and design practices. These projects build on green design work we had done in the past. Green chemistry and design involves formulating or designing new products (or reformulating or redesigning existing ones) to reduce environmental, workplace, human health, and energy use impacts over the product’s entire life-cycle. Our goal is to promote its practice in the state and beyond.

We recently completed the following projects:

Demonstration Projects
Cortec, Ecolab, and Salo recently completed demonstration projects. Their case studies are posted here. Cortec developed two new metal primers. Ecolab developed five new hard surface cleaners and addressed their sustainable packaging. Salo investigated the use of styrene-free resin in its manufacture of bathing systems.

Curriculum Projects
University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of St. Catherine, and Winona State University completed curriculum development for undergraduate course work. They modified, created, and supplemented chemistry courses to include green chemistry and design principles. They developed and improved chemistry activities. They adapted engineering courses. Their case studies and a webcast are posted here.

Green chemistry curriculum development is currently underway at two universities. Northwestern Health Sciences University is developing a consistent program of chemistry laboratory lectures and experiments featuring an emphasis on green chemistry for undergraduate chemistry courses. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is developing an experiment that illustrates the synthesis of a block copolymer which incorporates at least one renewable monomer, is biodegradable in the environment, and has tangible characteristics students can explore. Progress on these projects will also be posted on our Green Chemistry Curriculum Project web page.

Composites project
Project activities focused on operational requirements and performance of a styrene free resin system for the Minnesota fiber reinforced plastics sector. We faced challenges as we completed the project. We shared these challenges as well as reasonable next steps. The case study and a webcast are posted here.

The following projects are currently in progress:

BPA in Thermal Paper project
The goals for the project are to:

  • determine how much BPA is contained in the thermal papers used by participating partners in the hospitality sector,
  • estimate how much BPA is contained in Minnesota’s recycled papers,
  • promote switching to paperless point-of sale systems, or as a second-choice option, to switch to BPA-free thermal papers or a non-thermal paper system, and
  • promote use of paperless systems or BPA-free or non-thermal papers to other Minnesota businesses

Formaldehyde in Building Products project
We will be conducting outreach to determine the extent of remaining uses in Minnesota.

NP and NPE in Detergents project
We are conducting outreach to determine the extent of remaining uses of nonylphenol (NP) or nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in detergents at commercial and institutional laundries.

Register for GLRPPR/EPA Region 5 Webinar

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by

Join the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) and U.S. EPA Region 5 for a webinar on May 12.  Space is limited. Reserve your webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/440261202.  After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The GLRPPR/EPA Webinar provides an opportunity to hear about P2 Programs in the region, ask questions and stay connected.

Agenda:

  1. Opening comments by Julie Guenther, Region 5 EPA
  2. Presentation by IL: a. GLRPPR – Bob Iverson; b. I-CORE – Mike Springman
  3. Presentation by MN – Phyllis Strong: a. P2 Grant work; b. Green Chemistry and Design program; c. P2 integration program
  4. Presentation by MI – Karen Edlin: a. Economy, Energy and Environment (E3); b. Michigan’s Sustainable Hospital Initiative; c. Advancing Green Chemistry
  5. Presentation by IN – Jennifer Schick

Title: GLRPPR/EPA Region 5 Forum
Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Time: 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM PDT  

System Requirements:

  • PC-based attendees–Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
  • Macintosh®-based attendees–Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer

Contact Bob Iverson, GLRPPR Executive Director, for further information or questions.

Our thanks to Donna Walden, Regional Coordinator at the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN), one of our sister P2Rx Centers, for assisting with the set up and administration of this webinar.

Program Director – Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Friday, October 8th, 2010 by

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) at the University of Minnesota is seeking a Program Director to provide technical outreach and program oversight. MnTAP is an outreach and assistance program helps Minnesota businesses develop and implement solutions that prevent pollution at the source, maximize efficient use of resources, and reduce energy use and cost. The director will be responsible for developing programs to meet business’ needs, pursing funding opportunities for program activities, collaborating with multiple in-state and national programs, managing staff, and providing technical assistance to businesses within one or two manufacturing sectors. Candidates must have a master’s degree or equivalent experience in a technical field; 8-10 years of experience in program development, budgeting, and project management; and excellent communication skills. To apply, visit employment.umn.edu, click “Search Postings,” and search for job posting #168670.

MnTAP Director Leaving After 25 Years

Friday, October 8th, 2010 by

After 25 years of leading the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)‘s efforts to assist Minnesota businesses and help improve the environment, MnTAP Director Cindy McComas is retiring at the end of the year. Cindy started at MnTAP a few months after the organization was founded and was named director shortly after joining the program. Upon her retirement, she is looking forward to pursuing new adventures, continuing to teach a pollution prevention course at the University of Minnesota, and spending more time with her family.

We offer Cindy our best wishes for her retirement, and hope she knows that many of her colleagues throughout the region will miss her!