Day: October 30, 2013

Weatherization Saves Families Energy and Money

Happy National Weatherization Day! To celebrate, here’s a post from Energy.Gov.

This Wednesday, communities throughout the nation will celebrate National Weatherization Day, which recognizes an industry of weatherization service providers, state and local agencies, and researchers dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of homes throughout the nation. It is also a day to recognize the many families in need who are now benefitting from lower energy bills.

Through the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Energy Department provides funding to states, territories, and tribal governments to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. These governments fund a network of local community action agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide weatherization services for those in need using leading technologies and testing protocols. In addition, the Weatherization Assistance Program supports the development of innovative, new installation methods and professional development tools, such as high-quality, technical certifications for weatherization professionals. The recently released Standard Work Specifications, which describe key elements of quality upgrades, are a great example of a recent innovation.

Since the Weatherization Assistance Program’s inception in 1976, more than 7 million homes have received energy efficiency improvements, such as heating and cooling upgrades, the addition of insulation, weatherstripping to doors and windows, and much more. In an effort to stimulate job growth and help families affected by the economic recession, the Weatherization Assistance Program received an unprecedented $5 billion in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, contributing to the weatherization of more than 1 million homes in three and a half years and the training and employment of countless weatherization professionals during that period. These households are now seeing $250-$480 annually in energy savings.

In the spirit of National Weatherization Day and the beginning of our own Weatherization Week, here are a few basic energy-saving tips:

  • Add insulation to reduce energy demand: Properly installed insulation reduces heating and cooling costs by cutting heat losses and gains through a home’s building envelope. Learn more about adding insulation to an existing home.
  • Seal your home with caulking or weatherstripping: Air sealing is one of the most cost-effective ways to lower your energy bill while improving your home’s comfort. Caulking and weatherstripping are two air-sealing techniques that provide a quick return on investment. Learn more about air sealing your home.
  • Install and set a programmable thermostat: You can save as much as 1 percent on your heating bill for every degree you set your thermostat back over an eight-hour period. Resetting your thermostat while you are asleep or away from home can help you save big without sacrificing comfort. Learn more about thermostats.

For more ways to save energy and money at home, visit EnergySaver.gov. Also, check out EERE’s blog and Facebook page throughout the week for more stories on how weatherization is transforming our economy and improving the lives of Americans.

Tribal Pollution Prevention (Tribal P2) Announces Enhanced Tools for Tribal Environmental Professionals

TP2 logoThe national Tribal Pollution Prevention Network (Tribal P2) is proud to announce the launch of the newly renovated TribalP2.org website.   The website provides resources, current funding opportunities and events, and collaborative connection assistance in 19 different topic areas – from Solid Waste to Green Casinos to Climate Change.

One goal of the Network is to facilitate collaboration among peers, mentors, and experts in topics related to pollution prevention. To that end, the new website features an interactive member map  that provides contact information for Network members across the nation.  Many of the Network’s members have agreed to be collaborators – which means they are willing to share their expertise with you.

Visit the site to learn about pollution prevention (P2) opportunities and identify peers with expertise to share.  Join the Network listserv to receive information on regularly scheduled webinars, news, announcements and funding opportunities pertaining to timely and relevant P2 topics.

“…it all looks great!  I really like the way you set up the website […] it should be very beneficial for all the Tribes needing help on difficult issues.” Donna Marie Noel, Energy Project Manager Water Resources Department, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

“…the listings are formatted in a user friendly way for communication and searching. It is a great tool!” Stan Belone, Environmental Engineer Air Quality Program, Environmental Protection & Natural Resources, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

The Tribal P2 Network was formed in December 2003 from an EPA grant issued as a result of tribal requests for more specific tribal communication about Pollution Prevention (P2) efforts directly relating to tribes. Tribal P2 consists of environmental professionals from tribal entities, local, state and federal agencies, academia, and not-for-profit organizations around the nation. The major objective of Tribal P2 is to share information and identify solutions to address environmental issues affecting the tribal nations using pollution prevention methodologies. Membership in the Network now stands at over 250 individual participants, with over 90 Tribes participating.

Illinois Organizations Honored for Achievements in Environmental Protection

Twenty-seven Illinois companies and organizations were honored yesterday for their significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future, and improving the economy. The Governor’s Sustainability Awards were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Peoria. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Governors awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts. This year 27 organizations received Governor’s Awards and 14 received honorable mention awards.

To further acknowledge organizations whose environmental efforts are worth noting, a new Honorable Mention category was included this year. Fourteen companies were selected for efforts that also embody the spirit of sustainability.

“In working for a greener tomorrow, these businesses and organizations not only preserve our resources, protect our environment, reduce their costs and increase their competitiveness, they also help develop more sustainable technologies and become our greatest allies in the diffusion of new ideas and new attitudes about how business is done in Illinois,” said ISTC Interim Director David Thomas.

The 2013 award winners are listed below.

2013 Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners

  • AbbVie – North Chicago
  • Aptar Cary Campus – Cary
  • Caterpillar Inc., Technical Center – Mossville
  • Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District – Urbana
  • Chem Processing – Rockford
  • City of Joliet – Joliet
  • ComEd – Oakbrook Terrace
  • Eaton’s Cooper B-Line – Highland
  • Elmhurst Park District – Elmhurst
  • Forest Preserve District of DuPage County – Wheaton
  • Hilton Chicago – Chicago
  • J.L. Clark – Rockford
  • Jefferson Middle School – Champaign
  • The Label Printers LP – Aurora
  • Lewis and Clark Community College – Godfrey
  • McDonald’s Corporation – Oak Brook
  • Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus – Chicago
  • Multifilm Packaging – Elgin
  • Niles Township School District 219, with special mention to Beyond Green Partners – Skokie
  • Quaker Foods North America, Bridgeview – Bridgeview
  • Quaker Foods North America, Danville – Danville
  • United Airlines – Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Chicago – Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Champaign
  • Village of Arlington Heights – Arlington Heights
  • Village of Bolingbrook – Bolingbrook
  • Village of Downers Grove – Downers Grove

2013 Honorable Mention Governor’s Sustainability Awards

  • Argonne National Laboratory – Argonne
  • CCI Manufacturing IL Corporation – Lemont
  • Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. – Rosemont
  • City of Evanston – Evanston
  • Clarke – Roselle
  • Clover Technologies Group – Hoffman Estates
  • Ecology Action Center – Normal
  • First Busey Corporation – Champaign
  • Illinois Department of Military Affairs – Springfield
  • Illinois Department of Transportation – Springfield
  • Illinois Green Business Association – Champaign
  • Lawrence Foods – Elk Grove Village
  • Portapure, LLC – Chicago
  • Will County – Joliet

Information on the Governor’s Sustainability Awards program, lists of previous winners, and information on technical assistance are available from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, phone 217/333-8940, http://www.istc.illinois.edu/

The Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 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 in 2008 and builds on the Surveys’ reputations for basic and applied research and service. The Institute provides objective, cutting-edge research and solutions to allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure sustainable economic development, enduring environmental quality, and cultural resource preservation for Illinois and beyond.

AP Exclusive: Calif. recycling law lacks oversight

Read the full story in the Ventura County Star.

Seeking to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags cluttering California’s beaches and landfills, the state Legislature in 2006 passed a law requiring grocery stores and other large retailers to give consumers an easy way of returning used bags.

Stores handing out plastic bags to customers were directed to collect used bags for recycling and make reusable bags available for purchase.

Seven years later, recycling bins continue to sit outside California stores. But the agency in charge of the recycling program can’t say how many bags are being recycled or whether the program has affected the demand, factors that could help state lawmakers in weighing proposals to ban the product.

See also the National Conference of State Legislatures June 2013 study entitled “State Plastic and Paper Bag Legislation: Fees, Taxes and Bans; Recycling and Reuse.”

EPA Announces Funding for Students’ Innovative Green Technologies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the 2013 recipients of EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Phase I grants. Forty teams of graduate and undergraduate students from across the country are each receiving a $15,000 grant for research proposals that develop solutions to real-world environmental challenges.

“The P3 program offers a unique opportunity for students to develop and showcase innovative designs for environmental solutions,” said Lek Kadeli, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “As we enter the 10th year of the program, the ingenuity and passion of the students continue to provide solutions that protect health and the environment while spurring economic development.”

This year’s P3 Phase I teams come from 34 universities in 26 states. Their projects cover a variety of environmental and health topics, such as the creation of additives that allow for eco-friendly degradation of mulch, a sustainable water treatment facility for communities with arsenic in their groundwater, mobile phone apps for citizen scientists to monitor the health of habitats and streams, and biodegradable food packaging.

Some past P3 winners have gone on to start their own businesses. In 2004, an award-winning P3 team from Oberlin College launched Lucid Design, Inc., a company that designs and sells real-time energy management systems. Lucid’s clients range from Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and universities to K-12 schools. With 26 employees, the company averages $1.5 million in annual revenue helping clients change their behavior to reduce energy consumption.

Each team will use the award to develop their projects throughout the academic year. In the spring, they will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Sustainable Design Expo. While at the Expo, teams will share their designs and compete for EPA’s P3 Award and a Phase II grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their projects. Team projects are judged by a panel of environmental experts. In the past, P3 Phase II teams have gone on to create small businesses, which are helping to further America’s green economy.

CCSE to push industrial combined heat and power

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced this week it will dole out $2.2 million over four years to the San Diego-based California Center for Sustainable Energy to direct the Pacific regional Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnership, one of seven regional partnerships.

College and university sustainability roundup

Chatham Student Learns Sustainability With Hands On Immersive Experience
Last summer, Ann Payne, Master of Sustainability ’14, immersed herself in a self-crafted adventure of active participation and learning from professionals and stakeholders in three pillars of sustainability: economics, environment and people/societies.

New app to navigate climate change
Researchers from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute, Dr Wade Hadwen and Dr Samantha Capon have created a mobile phone app which provides critical information for anticipating how climate change may impact on coastal Australia.

SustainableUMD Spotlight: The Public Health Garden
Just recently, construction began on the research rain garden, a project of Dr. Allen P. Davis, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. After working through an extensive approval process with the Maryland Department of the Environment, production has begun and will be completed by the end of October. The research rain garden will take in stormwater runoff from the parking lot on the south side of the School of Public Health, LaPlata Beach, and the surrounding buildings and landscapes, filter it though three-tiers of gardens, and store the cleaned water in an underground cistern at the bottom of the hill. As stormwater enters and exits the rain garden, it will be measured for pollution levels to monitor the effectiveness of the filtering process. The tiered gardens will be planted with Maryland native plants grown on campus from locally-collected seed.

UC makes breakthrough in green-planted roof research
The University of Canterbury (UC) has discovered green-planted roofs do not need to be irrigated in winter or summer to thrive. UC natural resources engineering researchers Dr Aisling O’Sullivan and Dr Tonny de Vries are investigating the benefits of green roofs for the New Zealand built-environment.