Day: May 14, 2013

Report: Composting Could Create Two Times as Many Jobs as Landfilling

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Composting is a major job creator, according to a new report released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC, in conjunction with International Compost Awareness Week. The report, based on a survey of Maryland composters, claims that 1,400 new full-time jobs could be supported for every million tons of yard trimmings and food scraps converted into compost that is used locally.

In Maryland, compostable items such as food scraps, grass clippings, wood chips and the like equal to about 780,000 tons each year, according to Composting those items, per the Pay Dirt: Composting in Maryland to Reduce Waste, Create Jobs, & Protect the Bay [pdf] report, would create twice as many jobs as sending waste to landfill, and four times the number of jobs as burning garbage.

The Net Positive Strategy: Where Environmental Stewardship Meets Business Innovation

Read the full story in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Kingfisher, one of Europe’s largest home improvement retailers, was the first business of its size to receive full certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). But, explains Nick Folland, formerly the company’s legal and corporate responsibility director, Kingfisher aspires to create a net positive impact on the environment by “putting more back in than we take out.” Now the group corporate affairs director for the Net Positive plan, Folland is leading the company’s groundbreaking collaborative effort.

Public-private partnerships turn waste into cash

In the most recent P2 Pathways column, author Natalie Hummel, US EPA, discusses how converting waste from one company into a feedstock stream for another can generate revenue while reducing virgin material and energy use.

Read past P2 Pathways columns at

Where the Wild Things Are (and How They’re Related)

Read the full post from the USGS Science Features Blog. To view demo videos and download the apps, visit

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the winners of the “App-lifying USGS Earth Science Data” Challenge. USGS invited developers, information scientists, biologists/ecologists, and scientific data visualization specialists to create applications for selected USGS datasets, presenting them in innovative and informative new ways. The Challenge was open January 9, 2013, to April 1, 2013. Entries spanned a cross-section of topics including taxonomic classification, conservation status of species, the range and distribution of animals, and one innovative app integrating social media with species occurrence records.

And the Winners Are…

The winner for Best Overall App is “TaxaViewer” by the rOpenSci group. TaxaViewer is a Web interface to a mashup of data from the USGS-sponsored interagency Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), the Phylotastic taxonomic Name service, the Global Invasive Species Database, Phylomatic, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. TaxaViewer allows the user to view species-specific taxonomic data, invasive status, phylogenetic relationships, and species occurrence records. TaxaViewer innovatively combines these datasets using the statistical package R that many scientists are already using for data analysis. Additionally, rOpenSci has made all of the source code available via Github. The combination of innovative use of data and technologies along with the applicability of the name resolution functionality made this the winning application.

The Popular Choice App award goes to the “Species Comparison Tool” by Kimberly Sparks of Raleigh, N.C., which allows users to explore the USGS Gap Analysis Program habitat distribution and/or range of two species concurrently. In addition, the application’s “swipe tool” provides the ability to make visual comparisons of the maps. The application also incorporates ITIS data and provides external links to NatureServe species information. Fun and easy to use, the Species Comparison Tool provides an intuitive way to determine where species might be located as well taxonomic status and life history characteristics. The sleek design and engaging quality of the swipe tool makes this an application that is useful for the public and scientists alike.

“These applications provide us and, more importantly, the public with easy-to-use tools for accessing and viewing taxonomic and biogeographic data,” said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director of Core Science Systems. “The innovative and thoughtful ideas represented in these applications are great examples of how complex data can be made more accessible.”

Winners were selected based on relevance to the USGS mission, innovation in design, and overall ease of use of the application. Utilizing the platform, the general public chose the winner of the Popular Choice App award. Both applications will be available for at least one year for viewing and use by the public.

NASCIO Catalog of US State Mobile Apps

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has developed a catalog of mobile apps developed by state governments for use on tablets and smartphones. Users can click on the interactive map to see what apps are offered by their state or territory. Apps are also searchable by a list of 20 different categories, including health and wellness, economic development, tax and payment information and education loans and grants.

Currently, the most of the apps are related to tourism, DMV, legislative, and benefits information. The site also includes a submission form for apps not currently included.

Car versus bike: road design to cut pollution

Read the full story at Environmental Research Web.

Cycling is no fun when you have an impatient queue of cars behind you, all waiting for an opportunity to pass. And driving is frustrating when you get stuck behind a bike. On some urban roads this kind of situation causes significant congestion and an associated increase in pollution. So what is the solution? A new study weighs up all the costs and benefits to help planners understand the impact of different kinds of road designs.

Sustainability ‘Highly Important’ to 42% of Supply Chains

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Less than half of executives say sustainability is highly important to their company’s supply chain, according to a PwC survey.

Of the 42 percent of respondents who rated sustainability as highly important, 87 percent named optimizing their carbon footprint as their top priority for green adherence in their supply chain, according to the PwC‘s 2013 global supply chain survey, Next-generation supply chains: Efficient, fast and tailored. An equal percentage said that it’s best to reach an agreement with their suppliers on adhering to the highest ethical standards.

A Wild New Way to Make Money Off of Urban Trees

Read the full story at Atlantic Cities.

Urban trees in the U.S. absorb 25.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and help lower energy costs by shading the asphalt and concrete jungle. The US Forest Service estimates all that carbon storage is worth $50.5 billion and growing by $2 billion a year, according to a new study from the agency.

That’s a lot of green. Just one problem—how do you profit from all that photosynthesis?

Kaiser, Metro Health bet big on sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainability is becoming a standard practice at companies across various industries here in the United States and around the world, and the health care sector is no different. As we saw at last month’s CleanMed Conference and Exposition in Boston, Mass., there is continued and growing interest in the intersection between sustainability and health care. A poll that surveyed top US and global representatives from hospitals and health care systems during the April conference shows that more than 87 percent of hospitals are incorporating sustainability into their decision-making process and operations.

Johnson & Johnson and Practice Greenhealth conducted the poll to better understand the changing role of sustainability in health care. And with more than 900 hospital administrators and other health care professionals attending the conference, what better place to tap into what they are thinking and planning for the future?

UC Davis Biochar Database

Biochar science is an continuously maturing field of study that is showing considerable growth and potential. Although there is a great deal of interest in biochar from researchers, growers, and other stakeholder groups, the field suffers from 1) lack of readily available information for end users to make informed decisions and 2) differing opinions on the gross effects of biochar when used as a soil amendment. To help mitigate these shortfalls, the UC Davis Biochar Database has been established to present an online resource of biochar physical and chemical characterization data. This database does not provide recommendations for biochar use nor does it endorse any specific product. The database exists only as resource, with the specific objectives to:

  1. provide an open-access tool for end users interested in biochar as a  soil amendment to examine and compare data for a variety of biochar feedstocks;
  2. provide a reliable resource for academics and researchers by distinguishing between peer reviewed and non peer reviewed data;
  3. provide a user friendly site for sharing biochar characterization data;
  4. provide a mechanism for biochar manufacturers to present the characterization data of their biochar products to potential end users.

Information collected from various peer and non-peer reviewed sources has been compiled to produce a substantial source of biochar data. Data has been compiled using categories from the International Biochar Initiative (IBI) biochar standards. Submissions to the database are welcomed and will be reviewed for approval prior to incorporation into the UC Davis Biochar Database. Biochar data is readily retrieved either graphically or as a downloaded file. Separation into peer and non peer reviewed data sets is also possible.