Archive for the 'Small Business' 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.

Spotlight: Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute

Thursday, June 4th, 2009 by

Continuing our focus on Indiana P2 programs, the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), based at Purdue University, provides technical assistance, outreach, education, planning services and research to facilitate the adoption of pollution prevention/clean manufacturing strategies by Indiana manufacturing facilities.

CMTI offers assistance in all manufacturing sectors, but has special expertise in plastics (including fiber reinforced plastic), wood products, metal finishing, metal and plastic coatings, foundries and motor vehicle parts manufacturing.

CMTI co-founded (in 1996), and continues to manage, the Coating Applications Research Laboratory (CARL) on the Purdue campus. The lab allows manufacturers to test state-of-the-art coating and curing technologies under the guidance of CMTI engineers expert in their application. CMTI also offers ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS) services businesses and government entities. Training and energy efficiency assessments are also provided by CMTI.

Check out the CMTI web site for an archive of Technology Transfer/Pollution Prevention Case Studies. You can also browse the CMTI Clearinghouse Bibliography online.

Spotlight: Partners for Pollution Prevention

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 by

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2009 GLRPPR/Region 7 Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis, IN June 3-5. In honor of the host state for our conference, we’ll be featuring pollution prevention programs this week that call the great state of Indiana home. Today’s spotlight is on the Partners for Pollution Prevention (P4P2).

Organized by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in 1996, the purpose of P4P2 is to assist industry in sharing pollution prevention successes and to advise IDEM on pollution prevention policy and programs. The Partners represent industry, government, academia and environmental organizations interested in advancing pollution prevention in Indiana, as well as the financial and environmental benefits P2 projects can bring.

According to the program website, there are currently 55 Partners, many of which have received the Indiana Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The benefits of being a Partner include, among other things, exchanging information on P2 technologies and successes with your peers, being recognized statewide for your P2 efforts and potentially having your P2 projects promoted in IDEM publications.

If you are interested in applying for membership to P4P2, or would like more information, contact IDEM’s Office of Pollution Prevention & Technical Assistance at 800-988-7901 or 317-233-6662. Becoming a member involves committing to the Partners Pledge. New Partners are inducted at quarterly meetings, and Partners are required to complete the annual recertification to share P2 success stories and data.

Check out the Partners Activity page for copies of reports and presentations given at quarterly meetings.  Another major activity for the  Partners is the organization of the Annual Pollution Prevention Conference and Trade Show.

April 2009 Site of the Month: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The information on the site is meant to be applied to sites both with and without buildings, including, but not limited to:

  • Open spaces such as local, state and national parks, conservation easements and buffer zones and transportation rights-of-way.
  • Sites with buildings including industrial, retail and office parks, military complexes, airports, botanical gardens, streetscapes and plazas, residential and commercial developments and public and private campuses.

The Initiative site provides a copy of the report Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2008, which focuses on measuring how a site can protect, restore and regenerate ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits. This report contains over 50 draft prerequisites and credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.

Case studies, dates for upcoming presentations on sustainable sites, and information on the Initiative’s areas of focus (Why Sustainable Sites?; Hydrology; Soils; Vegetation; Materials; and Human Health & Well-being) are also provided.

PNEAC Offers Industrial Stormwater Permit Guide

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by

The Printers’ National Environmental Assistance Center (PNEAC) website now offers The Industrial Stormwater Permit Guide to assist businesses in complying with federal stormwater regulations.

PNEAC has developed an easy to use on-line tutorial about the Industrial Stormwater Permitting requirements. This program explains federal stormwater regulations for business (not just printers), and the options available for compliance. It also provides detailed guidance on which states have permitting authority and links to state and/or federal forms that industrial facilities must submit to be in compliance with the regulations.

The tool walks the user through the regulations in order for the user to determine whether they must obtain a Stormwater Permit or are exempt from permitting requirements, and then walks the user through the process of completing and submitting the “No Exposure Certification.” It is an easy to use tool utilizing a lesson format which also provides a visual guide for understanding compliant vs. non-compliant stormwater situations.

This new tool was modeled after the EPA Hazardous Waste Manifest Compliance Assistance tool that PNEAC previously developed. You can find the full compliment of compliance assistance tools at http://pneac.org/videotraining/.

Indiana suspends some grant programs.

Monday, January 12th, 2009 by

Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Like rest of nation, The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is trying to adjust to the current economic climate.

As all levels of government across the country grapple and adjust to
landmark budget reductions, IDEM is working to effectively manage grant and loan programs while safeguarding Hoosier tax dollars.

IDEM is temporarily suspending state-funded grant and loan programs for
business and local government recycling and pollution prevention projects. These loan and grant programs require local government and businesses to put up matching dollars, which may not be feasible at this time because of the economy. State grant and loan programs temporarily suspended include: Waste Tire grants, Recycling grants, Pollution
Prevention grants, Public Education Promotion grants, Household
Hazardous Waste grants, and Recycling Market and Development Program loans.

“Current programs and local recycling programs offered by local Solid Waste Management Districts should not be affected, and the public will still be able to find recycling services and information provided by IDEM and their local overnment,” said Thomas Easterly, IDEM
commissioner. “And the temporary change should have no adverse impact on
the numerous stewardship and pollution programs or federally-funded grant and loan programs IDEM facilitates.”

“IDEM is still continuing to provide free technical assistance on recycling efforts, and this base of knowledge is invaluable,” said Rick Bossingham, assistant commissioner for IDEM’s Office of Pollution
Prevention and Technical Assistance. “We strongly encourage businesses
and citizens to tap into this valuable state resource and wealth of information to identify and find alternative ways to conduct operations in a manner that is more efficient, yet environmentally-friendly.”

Additional information about IDEM and its programs can be found at www.idem.IN.gov.

About IDEM
IDEM (www.idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations
regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive
programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids
business and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.

Why Energy Monitoring is Critical to Reducing Business Energy Waste

Thursday, October 4th, 2007 by

Thanks to Martin Bromley for responding to my post about sharing energy efficiency information in honor of Energy Awareness Month by submitting the following article. Martin notes that although the article refers to “business” energy waste, the concepts discussed apply to other organizations such as government offices, colleges, schools, etc. Please note that reference to Martin’s software, Energy Lens, is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an endorsement by GLRPPR or WMRC.–JS

Why Energy Monitoring is Critical to Reducing Business Energy Waste
By Martin Bromley

Monitoring energy consumption is vitally important for businesses that want to cut their costs and environmental impact by saving energy. This article gives an introduction to energy monitoring, and explains why it is so important for business energy management.

“Energy monitoring”, or “monitoring and targeting”, is the process of analyzing energy-consumption data to find signs of waste (opportunities to target), and to track changes in energy consumption as time goes on and as energy-saving measures are implemented.

Energy monitoring goes hand in hand with energy management: the process of controlling and conserving energy consumption within an organization. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” has become a real cliché in the energy-management industry, but it does hold a lot of truth: energy monitoring brings measurement into the process of energy management, and makes it hugely more effective as a result.

Monitor energy consumption to see if you are improving:

Energy monitoring enables you to see if your energy efficiency is improving as time goes on. A big part of energy management is implementing energy-saving measures, and energy monitoring enables you assess how well your energy-saving measures are working.

For example, you might decide to try changing the power-management settings on staff computers, to reduce their energy consumption when they aren’t in use. By analyzing your energy-consumption data, you should be able to tell whether or not such a measure has helped to save energy, and you should be able to get an indication of how much energy it has saved. This helps you to decide whether an energy-saving measure is worth pursuing further, or whether it’s time to focus your energy-management attention elsewhere.

Energy monitoring will also enable you to prove the energy savings that you’ve achieved — if your hard work has hammered down energy consumption at your business, you’ll want to be able to prove it!

Monitor energy consumption to find energy waste:

Energy monitoring can also be a very effective way to find out when and where your business is wasting energy. Traditional weekly or monthly meter readings are little use for this, but the detail contained within modern energy-consumption data such as 15-minute or half-hourly data makes it easy to identify specific days and times when the business is routinely using energy unnecessarily.

For most businesses, the quickest way to make big energy savings is to ensure that equipment is switched off when it isn’t needed. You might think that this is easy: just make sure that people switch things off. However, it’s rarely that straightforward. If a light is left on it’s usually clear to see, but the energy consumption of other types of equipment is often much less obvious. Also, unless your building is very small, it can take a long time to check all the equipment that should be switched off. Things are further complicated by people working on after you’ve gone home, and by equipment that’s controlled by timers (you need to keep checking that the timers are set and working correctly).

If you have good quality energy data (such as 15-minute or half-hourly data), analyzing it once a week or once a month will make it easy to see how much energy is being used throughout each working day, and when the building is closed. You can check whether staff and timers are switching things off without having to patrol the building day and night, and, with a little detective work, you can usually figure out who or what is causing the energy wastage that you will inevitably find. A good understanding of your energy-consumption patterns will also help you to make informed decisions about where best to focus your energy-management attention, enabling you to hone in on the biggest, easiest energy savings first.

Getting started with energy monitoring:

If you are not already monitoring your energy consumption, you are almost certainly wasting energy that is costing your business, and costing the planet.

The good news is that it’s easy to get started with energy monitoring: once a week (or once a month) spend a little time analyzing your energy-consumption data from the previous week (or month). Look for signs of waste and take steps to ensure that such waste doesn’t happen again.

Wise investments into energy monitoring should pay for themselves many times over with the energy savings you’ll achieve by making your business more energy efficient. So why not get started today?!

About the author, and further resources:

Martin Bromley is a keen advocate of energy monitoring, and one of the main people behind Energy Lens: a software package that makes it easy to turn energy-consumption data into energy monitoring charts and tables that are invaluable for energy management.

If you are interested in saving energy at your organization, please do visit the Energy Lens website at http://www.energylens.com/ for more information and a freely downloadable trial of the Energy Lens software.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Martin_Bromley; reprinted with author’s permission.

Small Business Resources: MPCA's Small Business Environmental Assistance Program

Monday, June 11th, 2007 by

If you operate a small business in Minnesota, be sure to check out the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program web pages. Included are general information pages on air, water, waste and clean up issues, a link to the Environmental Guide for Small Businesses in Minnesota, information specific for various sectors (including auto body and auto repair, dry cleaning, halogenated solvent cleaning, automotive salvage yards, chromium electroplating and anodizing, fiberglass fabricators, and wood finishers), links to related EPA initiatives, and archived editions of two newsletters–Small Business Enterprise, a quarterly newsletter published by the SBEAP that covers pollution prevention, compliance and training, and The Cross Link, a newsletter geared specifically toward fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) products manufacturers.