Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

October is Children’s Health Month

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by

EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment requires that they continue to pay special attention to the vulnerabilities of children, and especially to children living in disadvantaged communities. Children are more affected by pollution than adults for many reasons. They are smaller, their organ systems are still developing, and their play and learning behaviors expose them to additional environmental threats.

In October and throughout the year, EPA will work with parents, teachers, and health providers to promote healthy environments where children live, learn and play.

There are events planned throughout children’s health month to promote healthy environments for children. There is also a wealth of information to explain and promote the reduction and elimination of harmful exposures in terms that are easy to understand. To learn more children’s environmental health, visit The Office of Children’s Health Protection website.

More on CH Month can be found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/chm-home.htm.

P2 Pathways is now P2 Impact

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 by

P2 ImpactAs part of Pollution Prevention Week 2013, the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) announces that it has changed the name of its popular GreenBiz Column to P2 Impact. The name change reflects a content refocus towards a mainstream business audience. The column gives insights into greening of business processes, operation or technologies; and case studies and best business practices with respect to P2 and sustainability.

Our first author for the newly branded column is Richard Yoder, PE, SFP. Rick is the founder of the Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center (P2RIC), which operates from the Nebraska Business Development Center and serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. His article discusses a national survey that identifies the sectors, jobs and counties reporting higher rates of pro-environmental activities. See greenbiz.com/business/engage/enterprise-blogs/p2-pathways.

This year’s P2 Week theme is P2 at the Crossroads. P2 Week is the time when businesses, environmental groups and citizens can join forces for a common cause. By sharing information about pollution prevention (P2), businesses become more competitive, realize cost savings, and improve the environment.

Report demonstrates over $1.1 billion in economic benefits from P2 in Region 5

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 by

A Cornerstone of Environmental Sustainability: Pollution Prevention Results from 2007 to 2009 presents available information on the achievements of state and local P2 programs for the calendar years 2007 to 2009. The Report was produced by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) based upon the results shared by 90 pollution prevention (P2) programs in the United States.

The Report shows that nationally there were almost $6.6 billion in economic benefits and more than 7 billion pounds of pollution minimized or eliminated during the three year period.  7 billion pounds of waste is equivalent to the amount of waste generated by 350 thousand households, the approximate size of Columbus, Ohio.

In the Great Lakes states served by U.S. EPA Region 5, companies realized more than $1.1  billion in savings and 1.2 billion pounds of pollution minimized or eliminated.

This study affirms that pollution prevention results in conservation of valuable resources and significant waste reductions, as well cost savings that were four times greater than the funds used to support the various P2 programs.

The Report is a product of the P2 Results Task Force, whose membership includes representatives from State P2 programs, EPA Headquarters and Regions, Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange Centers (P2Rx), as well as NPPR. The Task Force has developed a National Pollution Prevention Results Data System, (the System). The System aggregates data that is collected, managed, and synthesized by state and local P2 programs, non-profits, companies, and other organizations.

The Report documents additional benefits of P2 activities, including: approximately 16 billion gallons of water conserved; almost 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of reduced energy usage; more than 33 billion pounds of greenhouse gases (GHG) no longer being released into the atmosphere.

NPPR will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, February 21 at 2 ET to provide an overview of the report. Register for the webinar at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2030884086456328960.

To view the Report, go to http://www.p2.org/wp-content/uploads/p2-results-2007-9-final.pdf.

To submit your results or view results by region, visit http://www.p2rx.org/measurement/index.cfm.

EPA Opens Registration for Campus RainWorks Design Challenge Competition

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 by

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened registration for student teams from colleges and universities across the country to participate in its new design competition, the Campus RainWorks Challenge, through which teams will compete to develop innovative approaches to stormwater management. This first annual competition, will help raise awareness of green design and planning approaches at colleges and universities, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers in green infrastructure principles and design. Stormwater is a major cause of harmful water pollution in urban areas in the U.S., impacting tens of thousands of miles of rivers, streams, and coastal shorelines, as well as hundreds of thousands of acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds.

Student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design plans for a proposed green infrastructure project for their campus. Registration for the Campus RainWorks Challenge is open from September 4 through October 5, and entries must be submitted by December 14, 2012 for consideration. Winning entries will be selected by EPA and announced in April 2013. Winning teams will earn a cash prize of $1,500 – $2,500, as well as $8,000 – $11,000 in funds for their faculty advisor to conduct research on green infrastructure. In 2013, EPA plans to expand Campus RainWorks by inviting students to design and complete a demonstration project assessing innovative green infrastructure approaches on their campus.

EPA is encouraging the use of green infrastructure as a solution to help manage stormwater runoff. Green Infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater runoff at its source and provide other community benefits. Green infrastructure is increasingly being used to supplement or substitute for single-purpose “gray” infrastructure investments such as pipes, and ponds. The Campus RainWorks Challenge will help encourage the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses to manage stormwater discharges.

More information on the Campus RainWorks Challenge:
http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/crw_challenge.cfm

New Research Pushes Back on the Rebound Discussion

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 by

The benefits of energy efficiency policies have been questioned by various media organizations and think tanks due to a phenomenon called the “Rebound Effect”, also known as Jevon’s Paradox.  The Rebound Effect is the idea that consumers and businesses have incentives to spend the money saved from energy efficient strategies on the same or other energy consuming products or services, paradoxically increasing energy use because of energy savings.  According to The Breakthrough Institute (BTI), macroeconomic Rebound Effect accounts for 30%-50% or more energy consumption and sometimes even greater than 100% (known as “backfire”) of the original amount of energy consumption saved.  Rebound raises questions about the impact that energy efficiency policies have on the total energy use in all industries.  If true, it has serious ramifications to the work being conducted to mitigate global GHG emissions and to the efforts of the Pollution Prevention (P2) community.

Last year several articles volleyed the value of Rebound – most notably The Rocky Mountain Institute, Joe Romm and others at Climate Progress in a response to the report by the The Breakthrough Institute.  This year, a report conducted by Shakeb Afsah, Kendyl Salcito and Chris Wielga at co2scorecard.org stirred the discussion once again, followed by an article on Grist.  The discussion provides the P2 community with a more nuanced understanding of the potential savings of source reduction recommendations and provides evidence to support efficiency strategies.

P2 professionals ought to consider a trip down the Rebound rabbit hole for several reasons.  First, the P2 community stays credible by staying engaged.  If one drills through the contentious nature of the Rebound blog posts, it’s clear that the arguments are not about whether Rebound occurs, but at what level.  At its core, that makes the Rebound discussion one about measurement – how large are the gains claimed by those working in resources efficiency?  It’s fair to consider Rebound as a loss much like friction modifies the ideal laws of motion.  And it’s fair to expect the P2 community to be interested in whether the Rebound loss is trivial or sizable.  Even a brief look at the academic literature listed below makes it clear that efficiency measurements based on expected savings will likely fail to accurately report actual resource consumption rates.  Measurements that forecast savings without considering Rebound are a little like projecting savings with a Simple Payback calculation – it’s ok as a first approximation, but it’s not considered a complete calculation – Simple Payback often ignores cash flows received after the payback period and typically does not recognize the time value of money.

The second reason for P2 professionals to notice the Rebound discussion is that it highlights the critical importance of considering social and behavioral science and that a focus through technology blinders is limiting.  The Rebound premise recognizes that waste comes not only from technological change, but also from the actions, decisions, and behaviors of individuals and organizations. The P2 professional who wants to stay active in a world focused on the sustainability challenge will need to be proficient in both technical change and behavioral change.

Lastly, P2 policymakers should recognize the relationship of Rebound information with the mandates of the 1990 P2 Act (PPA).  Congress told the EPA Administrator in the PPA to use grants “…to promote the use of source reduction techniques by businesses.”  Among other things, it says, grant funded programs should “[t]arget assistance to businesses for whom lack of information is an impediment to source reduction.”  Certainly the information about whether and how much Rebound can impact resource consumption is information which can impede ultimate source reduction success.

More potential discussion topics surrounding Rebound exist for technical assistance providers, program managers, and policy makers than this author has time to cover in one post. Some of the bright young economists at UNO College of Business Administration (CBA) have posited interesting research to add to the mix.  I hope you’ll look a little bit further into Rebound, as it seems to be an annual topic of interest which generates significant give-and-take.

Bibliography of Papers on Rebound

Ahmad, Mobin-ud-Din, Hugh Turral, Llyas Masih, Mark Giordano and Zubair Masood. 2007. Water Saving Technologies: Myths and Realities Revealed in Pakistan’s Rice-Wheat Systems. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute.

Alcott, Blake. 2005. Jevons’ paradox. Ecological Economics. 54: 9-21.

Birol, Fatih and Jan Horst Keppler. 2000. Prices, technology development and the rebound effect. 2000. Energy Policy. 28: 457-469.

Gomez-Baggethun, Erik, Rudolf de Groot, Pedro L. Lomas and Carlos Montes. 2010. The history of ecosystem services    in economic theory and practice: From early notions to markets and payment schemes. Ecological Economics. 69: 1209-1218.

Hertwich, Edgar G. Consumption and the Rebound Effect. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 9: 85-98.

Huffaker, Ray and Norman Whittlesey. 2003. A Theoretical Analysis of Economic Incentive Policies Encouraging Agricultural Water Conservation. Water Resources Development. 19: 37-53.

Llop, Maria. 2007. Economic impact of alternative water policy scenarios in the Spanish production system: An input-output analysis. Ecological Economics. 68: 288-294.

Lorentz, Andre and Julia Sophie Woersdorfer. 2009. ‘Energy-efficient household appliances and the rebound effect – A model on the demand for washing machines’. Working paper.

Madlener, Reinhard and Blake Alcott. 2009. Energy rebound and economic growth: A review of the main issues and research needs. Energy. 34: 370-376.

Negri, Donald H. and Douglas H. Brooks. 1990. Determinants of Irrigation Technology Choice. Western Journal of Agricultural Economics. 15: 213-223.

Peterson, Jeffrey, M. and Ya Ding. 2005. Economic Adjustments to Groundwater Depletion in the High Plains: Do Water-Saving Irrigation Systems Save Water? American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 87: 147-159.

Pfeiffer, Lisa and C.-.Y Cynthia Lin. 2010. Does Efficient Irrigation Technology Lead to Reduced Groundwater Extraction?: Empirical Evidence. Working Paper.

Polimeni, John M. and Raluca Iorgulescu Polimeni. 2006. Jevons’ Paradox and the myth of technological liberation. Ecological Complexity. 3: 344-353.

Roy, Joyashree. 2000. The rebound effect: some empirical evidence from India. 28: 433-438.

Ruzzenenti, F. and R. Basosi. 2008. The role of the power/efficiency misconception in the rebound effect’s size debate: Does efficiency actually lead to a power enhancement? Energy Policy. 36: 3626-3632.

Saunders, Harry D. 1992. The Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate and Neoclassical Growth. The Energy Journal. 13: 130-148.

Sorrell, Steve and John Dimitropoulos. 2008. The rebound effect: Microeconomic definitions, limitations and extensions. Ecological Economics. 65: 636-649.

Sorrell, Steve, John Dimitropoulos and Matt Sommerville. 2009. Empirical estimates of the direct rebound effect: A review. Energy Policy. 37: 1356-1371.

Thomas, Brinda A.  Estimating the U.S. Economy-wide Rebound Effect.  Carnegie Mellon University, 2011

Ward, Frank A. and Manuel Pulido-Velazquez. 2008. Water conservation in irrigation can increase water use. PNAS. 105: 18215-18220.

Non-Shopping Music

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by

The last day of October this year was designated as the birthdate of the 7 billionth person on earth. Many like to point to the growing population as a stressor on the well being of the planet. It’s a rising source of stress, sure, but rising even faster is the global growth of the consumer class.

You’ve also no doubt seen that the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, has expanded to include increasing chunks of time on Thursday. Not to mention the transactions on Cyber Monday.

When it comes to buying, why waste it on one special day?

This year is the 20th year of Buy Nothing Day – a day to celebrate the choice not to over-consume. Interestingly, BND was begun by Adbusters.org, the same folks who had a hand in initiating Occupy Wall Street. You can Tweet about mashing the two with #OCCUPYXMAS

Or, you could simply take the day as holiday, enjoying some music to put you in the mood for not shopping.

Last year I put together a list of tunes that cover consumerism and our insatiable need to accumulate more stuff. I found half again as many songs this year as last. Almost all of the songs are available for a free listen by searching YouTube. I’d be interested in hearing if there are some you think I missed or if you think shouldn’t be on the list. Leave a comment – let everyone know your favorite & why.

And – should you happen to think of it – offer a business model for what to do with a curated list of such tunes. Perhaps there’s some edutainment potential?

2010 list:
Backyard Tire Fire – “Food For Thought” http://vimeo.com/3232290
Billy Bragg – “The Busy Girl Buys Beauty”
Brother Tree – “We Bought It”
Tracy Chapman – “Mountains of Things”
Chumbawamba – “Buy Nothing Day”
The Clash- “Lost In the Supermarket”
Janis Joplin – “Mercedes Benz”
The Kinks – “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”
Yo Yo Ma & Alison Kraus – “Simple Gifts” multiple covers available – also byJewel, Aaron Copeland
Tom Waits – “Step Right Up”
Gillian Welch – “Everything is Free”
Neil Young – “Piece of Crap”

2011 list:
Fugazi – “Merchandise”
Furnaceface – “How Happy Do You Want To Be?”
Bobby Gaylor – “Stop Buying Me Crap for Christmas”
The Go! Team – “Buy Nothing Day”
The Jam – “Shopping”
Billy Joel – “No Man’s Land”
Johnny Boy – “You are the Generation that Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve”
Tom Lehrer – “A Christmas Carol”
Madonna – “Material Girl”
Numbers – “We Like Having These Things”
Reverend Billy & The Church of Stop Shopping – “Stop Shopping”
Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band – “Christmas at Kmart”
Talking Heads – “Nothing But Flowers”
They Might Be Giants – “Grocery Bag”
Shania Twain – “Ka-Ching”
System Of A Down – “Chic ‘n’ Stu”

Plenty of songs to choose from. If there’s not a playlist in there for you somewhere, then… well, maybe some shopping therapy is what you need.

We need your input on GLRPPR's future direction

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by

The pollution prevention world has undergone dramatic changes in staff, funding, technology, and program objectives since the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) was established in the 1990s. GLRPPR needs to change to keep pace with the rest of the P2 community. As the GLRPPR Steering Committee, EPA’s Regional Pollution Prevention coordinator, and GLRPPR staff continue this process, we need your help.

Please take a moment to complete the questionnaire at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLZPFN5. GLRPPR is your organization and we need your feedback to plan for the future.

Kulkarni Appointed Illinois Sustainable Technology Center Director

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 by

Manohar KulkarniDr. Manohar R. Kulkarni, P.E., has been appointed director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign effective May 1. Kulkarni has been chair and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of North Dakota since 2004.

Kulkarni earned his doctorate at the University of Missouri, Columbia, his master’s at the University of Iowa and his bachelor’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, all in mechanical engineering. He served as professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, from 1993 to 2004. While there he established and directed the Energy Management Center at SIUC. Prior to that, he worked as a senior research engineer at Johnson Controls, Inc., Milwaukee, for seven years while serving as an adjunct associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Kulkarni has presented and published widely. His research interests include thermal system analysis, energy management, energy optimal control of thermal systems, energy efficient technology transfer, thermal analysis of materials and transient thermography.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Kulkarni will be joining us to lead ISTC and help us identify new opportunities for the Center’s work to promote sustainability for Illinois,” said Institute Director Dr. William W. Shilts. “His energy, engineering and academic experience are an excellent fit for ISTC and for the Institute and they will be invaluable.”

“I see great opportunities for ISTC to help the State of Illinois move forward with sustainable economic development and I’m eager to take on the challenges,” Kulkarni said.  “I am also happy to be returning to Illinois and look forward to settling into the community.”

The ISTC promotes sustainability and increased economic viability by providing technical assistance, conducting and sponsoring research, and disseminating information on environmental issues. Begun in 1985, ISTC programs include sustainable business practice assistance, an electronic waste initiative, development of energy resources from wastes, research on emerging contaminants and innovative river sediment management. ISTC is a recognized regional and national leader in manufacturing technology diffusion, environmental research and innovative information resources.

The Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois is the home of the Illinois State Scientific Surveys: Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. It was established by statute July 1, 2008 and builds on the Surveys’ reputations for basic and applied research and service.  The Institute gives Illinois citizens, businesses and decision-makers objective, timely, cutting-edge science and solutions necessary to manage the State’s resources, environment and economy wisely.

Happy World Water Day

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 by

Want to learn more about World Water Day? Visit these resources.

World Water Day
The international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. Explore World Water Day events on the calendar or add your own.

This World Water Day, a Salute to the Unsung Heroes of Clean Water
Post on the National Geographic Green Guide blog about mussels and their importance as natural water filters.

World Water Day 2010 Highlights Solutions and Calls for Action to Improve Water Quality Worldwide
Investment in safe water will have high returns in ensuring a healthy ecosystem and human society, says a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) during the global World Water Day celebrations in Nairobi.

Interested in improving your water footprint? Here are some resources to help.

5 cheap ways to save 1,000 gallons of water
Mother Nature Network offers five ideas that cost next to nothing and can each save 1,000 gallons a year.

The H2O Conserve Water Calculator
An interactive tool designed to help you figure out how much water you use, how you use it and how you can use less.

Water — Use It Wisely
Site includes a list of 100+ ways to conserve water and links to other water conservation resources.

Business.gov > Water Conservation
Offers suggestions and resources for businesses interested in improving their water footprints.

Water Conservation
This 2008 article by GreenBiz offers solutions and resources for companies who want to minimize their water use.

Environmental Stewardship Program Members Share 10 Ways to Reduce Costs to Weather Economic Storm

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by

Members of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM’s) Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) have made monumental achievements in reducing their environmental impacts while lowering manufacturing costs. To usher in the new year, the members have generated a list of the top 10 ways businesses can save money while minimizing environmental impacts within their manufacturing operations.

  1. Substitute returnable packaging containers for cardboard with repeat customers and internally between operations, reducing the amount and costs associated with solid waste disposal. 
  2. Replace solvent-based paint systems with water-borne paint or powder coating systems, eliminating emissions of volatile organic compounds. 
  3. Identify and repair process steam and compressed air leaks to reduce energy use and lower energy costs. 
  4. Conduct a life-cycle analysis for raw materials and replace high life-cycle cost items with lower environmental impact products.
  5. Share savings reaped from environmental goals with employees and associates to further stimulate, generate, and encourage more ideas and excitement towards environmental initiatives.  
  6. Absorb labor costs for recycling by using all employees for very short periods of time rather than using full-time workers solely for recycling activities.
  7. Turn off lighting when not in use and install energy efficient lighting technology, like motion sensors, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), and light emitting-diodes (LED).
  8. Recycle all materials, including scrap, waste, and extra materials left over from processing. 
  9. Ensure your organization has the right level of permit which often can change as you make your operations more environmentally-friendly. 
  10. Take advantage of IDEM’s free Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessments to identify alternative chemicals and improve operational efficiency.  

 “As an ESP member, our facility has recognized cost savings with the programs we have implemented,” said Darrell Hart of Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems.  “Our employees are taking recycling programs home as well as asking for more programs to implement within the facility.”

 To become an ESP member, a business must maintain an exemplary compliance record, certify that it has adopted and implemented an approved environmental management system, and commit to specific measures for continued improvement in its environmental performance.

 Many of the environmental improvement initiatives also contribute to significant cost savings within the facility.  Members qualify for expedited permit review, flexibility in permitting, reduced reporting frequencies, and coordination of compliance inspections in exchange for going above and beyond environmental requirements. To maintain membership, companies must report on their environmental initiatives every year and reapply for ESP membership every three years.

 “Any improved process that can reduce the bottom line while at the same time reducing any impact on the environment is worth considering,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “If they don’t know where to start, I would highly encourage business owners to take advantage of IDEM’s free Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessment.”

Additional information can be found by visiting www.idem.IN.gov/prevention/esp.