VIDEO: Urban farmers face water issues

Watch the video from Great Lakes Echo.

Urban farmers in Flint, Mich., have run into a problem – finding water for their crops. The challenge stems from zoning laws, unwilling neighbors and chemicals.

Filmed and produced by Michigan State University’s  School of Journalism and by the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media.

Learn about toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing

Via ToxMap.

Hydraulic fracturing (also called hydrofracking or fracking) is a process in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart rock in order to release oil and natural gas.

The US EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program requires facilities in certain industries that manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals. Hydraulic fracturing is currently not a TRI-covered industry and so is not represented in TOXMAP.

EPA scientists are conducting a study of hydraulic fracturing to better understand any potential impacts on drinking water and groundwater. Congress has released a report on hydraulic fracturing (PDF, 156 KB) that lists 29 toxic chemicals used in fracturing (see Table 3 of this report). Visit the Toxmap Blog for additional information on specific chemicals used in fracking.

‘I Endorse Re-Gifting’: Gift Recycling Gets a Green Re-Frame

Via The Daily Good.

One childhood Christmas, a relative gifted me a cat-themed journal; it was inscribed to somebody else. At the time, I was super interested in both cats and journaling, and if the gift’s original recipient was less so, I should have been glad that the item had finally found its rightful owner. But the re-gifting was a secret shame neither party could acknowledge to the other. When I stepped away from the tree, someone carefully tore out the offending page.

Re-gifting has since received a boost from the eco-conscious consumerism movement—your white elephant is now perfect for the person interested in journals, cats, and the environment. But passing a gift along to another remains a social faux pas—better to awkwardly exclaim “I love it!” before trashing it. Now, gift-givers can attempt to soften the blow with a new suite of sharable tools designed to show solidarity with re-gifters. Just download Brain Pickings’ free, sharable “I Endorse Regifting” icons; print, stamp or stencil them onto wrapping paper or gift cards; then, gift away, with the expectation that your recipient may do the same.

Making re-gifting socially acceptable helps extend the shelf life of consumer items before they hit the landfill. But it’s not enough to destigmatize previously-owned presents—we need to re-gift smarter, too. To ensure you’re gifting used things to people who really want them, consider distributing them through a website like Freecycle or Craigslist, or arranging a clothing swap to help friends pick and choose what fits them best. And for times you’ve been saddled with a real dud, up-gift it by painting, embroidering or otherwise re-crafting the gift into something even better.


Announcing Better Buildings, Better Plants

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program recently changed its name to the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). Along with this name change, AMO is now pursuing a revitalized mission as the lead government office working to identify, explore, develop, demonstrate, and deploy new, energy-efficient processes and materials technologies that will help U.S. manufacturers secure a competitive advantage in the global economy. Collectively, AMO’s technologies and suite of technology deployment resources create opportunities for U.S. manufacturers to realize bankable results in productivity and energy savings while also reducing carbon emissions.

In addition to the name change, AMO has formally transitioned its Save Energy Now LEADER initiative to the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, which is part of the broader Better Buildings Challenge announced last week by President Obama. The Better Buildings Challenge is designed to support job creation by catalyzing private-sector investment in commercial building and industrial facility energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20% more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion. In all, 60 public, private, and nonprofit organizations are participating in the Better Buildings Challenge, representing 1.6 billion square feet of facility space and $2 billion of financial commitments. Nine industrial firms, representing more than 300 manufacturing plants, are part of the inaugural class of Better Buildings, Better Plants Challenge Partners. For more information, visit the Better Buildings Challenge website.

The 100-plus companies that previously participated in Save Energy Now LEADER will now be known as Better Buildings, Better Plants Program Partners and will maintain their ambitious 10-year, 25% energy intensity improvement targets. For more information on this transition, or if you are interested in becoming a Program Partner, see the revised AMO website.

If you have any questions about the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program, or if you require additional information, please contact AMO at

CMU Facilities Management wins ‘Green Cleaning Grand Award’

Read the full story from Central Michigan University.

Green is always gold, especially when it comes to saving the environment. Central Michigan University is a leader among institutions of higher learning by being designated a nationally recognized leader in green cleaning initiatives.
The university has received the “Grand Award” in the College/University category of the 2011 Green Cleaning Award for Schools and Universities, sponsored by American School & University magazine, The Green Cleaning Network, and Health Schools Campaign. The award recognizes educational institutions that have exemplary green-cleaning programs and practices among custodial staff. The university received an honorable mention award in 2010.

DACC to share in $19.4 million grant over three years

Read the full story in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

Danville Area Community College will share in a three-year, $19.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Initiative and the Illinois Green Energy Network.

The funding will be distributed among 17 IGEN hub colleges that will work cooperatively to develop certificate and degree programs for green economy workforce training.

DACC will receive $416,404 over the three-year period to develop a hybrid wind energy technician program in partnership with Highland Community College in northwestern Illinois.