Lessons In Green Building From Africa’s First LEED-Certified Hospital

Read the full story in Fast Company.

When Ghana commissioned a new hospital for its capital city Accra, the West African nation hoped to earn LEED certification, a prestigious rating of environmentally minded buildings. But “they believed there was very little hope for us to achieve it,” says Pat Bosch, design director of Perkins + Will’s Miami office and the project’s lead architect. Much of the infrastructure that supports green building in the U.S. and Canada, where LEED is most common, doesn’t exist in Ghana. But by rethinking the parameters of what a building should be, the architects were able to complete Africa’s first LEED for Health Care–certified hospital.

EPA Moves to Ban the Use of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Vapor Degreasing as the Second Major Regulatory Action Under Chemical Reform Law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban the use of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) due to health risks when used in vapor degreasing. The proposed rule was issued under section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in vapor degreasing. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

Comments on the proposed rule must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

Once finalized, this proposal along with EPA’s recent proposal to ban TCE in aerosol degreasers and spot removers in dry cleaning will help protect workers and consumers from cancer and other serious health risks that can result from exposure to TCE. EPA identified risks associated with these TCE uses in a 2014 assessment.

In late November, EPA announced the inclusion of TCE on the list of the first ten chemicals to be evaluated for risk under TSCA. That action will allow EPA to evaluate the other remaining uses of the chemical.

This bumble bee was everywhere. Now it’s on the endangered species list.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

For the first time in American history, a bumble bee species has been placed on the endangered species list. It probably won’t be the last.

The rusty patched bumble bee was so prevalent 20 years ago that pedestrians in Midwest cities fought to shoo them away. Now, even trained scientists and experienced bee watchers find it difficult to lay eyes on them. “I’ve never seen one, and I live here pretty close to where there have been populations documented,” said Tamara Smith, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist stationed in Minneapolis.

EPA honors Crystal Creamery for reducing waste from Modesto plant

Read the full story in the Modesto Bee.

Crystal Creamery received a national award Tuesday for how it handles the sludge left after making ice cream, yogurt and other dairy foods.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored the Modesto-based company for turning the waste into electricity and other byproducts. It presented the annual Food Recovery Challenge National Innovation Award, part of a federal effort to reduce food waste estimated at 37 million tons a year.

Green & Sustainable Chemistry Workshop for High School Teachers

The Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) in partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) will be offering a FREE three-day workshop (June 20–22, 2017) at the University of Minnesota to high school chemistry teachers on green and sustainable chemistry. The workshop will be hosted by CSP Investigator Professor Jane Wissinger (UMN Chemistry), Cassandra Knutson (MRSEC-RET, White Bear Lake High School), and Cassidy Javner (MRSEC-RET, Shakopee High School). Applicants from across the state of Minnesota are welcome.  Travel grants are available only for state of Minnesota teachers.

Participating teachers will receive instruction on the principles of green chemistry, industrial applications, and potential impacts to human health and the environment. Shared lesson plans will illustrate how green and sustainable practices apply to secondary chemistry classrooms with education standards in mind. Participants will gain hands-on experience with safer, cost-effective labs that minimize waste and are drop-in replacements for traditional secondary chemistry labs. Topics such as bioplastics, polymeric medical sutures and use of biomimicry will be explored demonstrating relevance to societal needs. Participants will partner with the workshop instructors and one another to develop or modify experiments for use in their classroom. Upon returning to their respective high schools during the 2017-2018 academic year, participants are committed to implement at least two green chemistry experiments that they explored or developed at the workshop in their classrooms.

Participating teachers will receive a $300.00 stipend and potentially the option to earn 2 graduate level credits from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Participants will also receive resources for lab implementation in their classrooms. Accommodations and parking at the University of Minnesota will be provided for traveling participants. Lunch will be provided each day to all participants.

If you are interested in applying for the June 20–22, 2017 workshop, please use fill out the Workshop Application Applications are due March 1st, 2017.

For questions contact Professor Jane Wissinger — jwiss@umn.edu.

Obama in scientific journal: ‘The trend toward clean energy is irreversible’

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

President Obama has long made a moral case for investing in clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, saying the United States and other countries must slash their emissions of greenhouse gases to stave off the worse effects of global warming.

But writing Monday in the journal Science, the president also makes an economic argument for a national policy that embraces renewable energy, rather than the renewed focus on fossil fuel production that his successor has promised.

EPA Gives $3.8M to Help 19 Communities Plan New Uses for Former Brownfield Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected 19 communities for approximately $3.8 million in funding to assist with planning for cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites as part of the Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) program. Each recipient will receive up to $200,000 to engage their community and conduct planning activities for brownfield site reuse.

The grants will help communities plan improvements such as housing, transportation options, recreation and open space, education and health facilities, social services, renewed infrastructure, increased commerce and employment opportunities.

“The Area-Wide Planning grant program is an innovation initiated by the Obama Administration to empower communities to transform economically and environmentally distressed areas, including communities impacted by manufacturing plant closures, into vibrant future destinations for business, jobs, housing and recreation,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “These grants provide the opportunity for communities to determine for themselves revitalization plans that best meet their vision and needs based on a rigorous analysis of market and infrastructure in a manner that benefits and does not displace long-term residents.”

Assistant Administrator Stanislaus announced the new AWP recipients for funding at a community event in Norfolk, Va.

EPA’S AWP program was modeled after New York State’s Brownfields Opportunity Area (BOA) Program, which was developed by communities – particularly lower income communities – to enable them to drive development that meets their needs without displacing them. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent. Data also shows that brownfields clean ups can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. Preliminary analysis involving 48 brownfields sites shows that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup.

This year’s selected recipients for funding are:

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, Bucksport, Maine
  • City of Providence, R.I.
  •  Isles, Inc., East Trenton, N.J.
  • City of Wilmington, Del.
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg, Pa.
  • City of Norfolk, Va.
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.
  • City of Middlesborough, Ky.
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston and North Charleston, S.C.
  • Near East Area Renewal, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, River Rouge, Mich.
  • Lorain County, Lorain, Ohio
  • Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
  • City of Burlington, Iowa
  • Resource Conservation and Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc., Postville, Iowa
  • City of Glenwood Springs, Colo.
  • City of Orem, Utah
  • Trust for Public Land, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • City of Grants Pass, Ore.

More information on the funding recipients: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

To apply for Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/