Month: March 2013

New from the GAO: Energy efficiency, wind energy

Energy Efficiency: Better Coordination among Federal Programs Needed to Allocate Testing Resources. GAO-13-135, March 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-135
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653429.pdf

Wind Energy: Additional Actions Could Help Ensure Effective Use of Federal Financial Support. GAO-13-136, March 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-136
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652958.pdf

Manufactured Homes: State-Based Replacement Programs May Provide Benefits, but Energy Savings Do Not Fully Offset Costs. GAO-13-373, March 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-373
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653410.pdf

Can Fungi Replace Plastics? Maybe, Say Researchers

Read the full story from Union College.

Fungi, with the exception of shitake and certain other mushrooms, tend to be something we associate with moldy bread or dank-smelling mildew. But they really deserve more respect. Fungi have fantastic capabilities and can be grown, under certain circumstances, in almost any shape and be totally biodegradable. And, if this weren’t enough, they might have the potential to replace plastics one day. The secret is in the mycelia.

Trees Used to Create Recyclable, Efficient Solar Cell

Read the full story from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Solar cells are just like leaves, capturing the sunlight and turning it into energy. It’s fitting that they can now be made partially from trees.

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. Just as importantly, by fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.

The technology is published in the journal Scientific Reports, the latest open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

Dream Team: Why Why building an all-star green team should be part of your business strategy

Read the full story at Sustainable Industries.

The concept of teamwork may seem like a very small issue in the shadow of a larger business sustainability pursuit. However, sustainability teams and the expanded definitions of teamwork are proving to be far more powerful than most business leaders might have originally thought.

To most people working in a traditional business setting, teamwork means working well with coworkers on a defined task or project. However, today’s high-performance team activities are expanding stakeholder cooperation and communication through the entire value chain. Discussed in some detail in the article, Making Star Teams Out of Star Players, the author provides insights from leading business sustainability organizations. The post focuses on best practices on identifying and developing next generation skills.

ISTC now accepting applications for 2013 Illinois Governor ‘s Sustainability Awards

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is now accepting applications for the 2013 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards.

The deadline for applications is May 31, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.  Applications will only be accepted electronically.  Details and application information can be found on our website.

The award ceremony will be held this fall in Peoria, and once again ISTC will also host the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact Awards Program in conjunction with the Governor’s Sustainability Awards program.

For more information, contact:

Debra Jacobson, Regional Operations Manager
Email Address:  djacobso@illinois.edu
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center
Prairie Research Institute
University of Illinois
1010 Jorie Boulevard, Suite 338
Oak Brook, IL  60523
630-472-5019

DEQ seeks nominations for 2013 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards

The DEQ has opened nominations for the fifth annual Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards.

The Governor’s Awards recognize advances that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacturing, or use. The awards acknowledge efforts to design, implement, and promote safer and more sustainable chemicals, processes, and products.

Awards are open to individuals, groups, and organizations, both non-profit and for profit. The program was established by the Michigan Green Chemistry Roundtable to celebrate innovations using green chemistry in Michigan. Thirteen winners have been presented with an award in the first four years of the program.

Entries must be sent no later than July 19. The awards will be presented at the 2013 Michigan Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference: “Designing a Sustainable Michigan,” which is scheduled October 23-24 at Grand Valley State University.

To find a one page guidance document and a copy of the nomination packet, or more information on the Michigan Green Chemistry Program, visit the DEQ Web site at www.michigan.gov/greenchemistry, or call the DEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 800‑662-9278.

Engaging as Partners: Introducing Utilities to the Energy Efficiency Needs of Multifamily Buildings and Their Owners

Download the document.

CNT Energy and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) examine the factors that contribute to effective energy efficiency program design for multifamily buildings.  The report provides an introduction for utilities and other energy efficiency program administrators to the multifamily housing sector, the market for energy efficiency within it, and the interests and concerns of sector stakeholders as related to energy efficiency. It outlines nine strategies that can help utilities design and implement energy efficiency programs that will attract multifamily building owners and achieve deep energy savings. It also provides examples of successful programs funded by utility-customers that demonstrate how effective energy efficiency program design benefits building owners, tenants, and utilities.  Long-term benefits to multifamily building owners include direct savings on utility bills, reduced maintenance costs, and decreased tenant turnover.

 

3 policies the sustainable business community should support

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and environmental policy are essential, but not complete solutions by themselves.

We also need laws, oversight and guidelines to help shape our economy and planet to one that is just and sustainable.

With all businesses following the same rules, the competitive floor can be set at a level that protects the environment and ensures a quality and quantity of jobs consistent with human dignity. Individual business owners can make a big difference by advocating for policies that spur innovation that builds on such a platform.

Here are three pro-sustainable business policy items the American Sustainable Business Council is working on in conjunction with many other organizations.

The best tools for using healthier materials in your products

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

This article is the first in a three-part series exploring the challenges manufacturers face to design healthier products and the resources available to help them avoid chemicals of concern. Each post will focus one of the three phases in the Cradle to Cradle framework: inventory, assessment and optimization.