Month: April 2012

Businesses on Green St. get help in living up to their name

Read the full story in the Daily Illini.

In an effort to encourage Green Street businesses to “go green,” Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE, held the second annual “Go Green on Green Street” last Friday.

Thirty booths and interactive activities such as bozo buckets, fishing and a scavenger hunt were setup along the street to educate students about environmental sustainability. Each booth offered prizes and an interactive opportunity for students to learn about the various aspects of going green.

The event addressed issues such as energy efficiency, green business, pollution prevention, recycling among many others.

Retired engineers help small businesses operate more sustainably

Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press.

The Retired Engineer Technical Assistance Program is a quietly effective effort to let retired engineers help small businesses in Michigan operate more sustainably.

RETAP leverages the skills of about 50 retired engineers to provide pollution prevention assessments to small businesses. These RETAP assessments are free, voluntary, confidential and objective.

So far, RETAP volunteers have assessed about 1,400 businesses, identifying on average more than $40,000 in cost savings per assessment.

Pollution Prevention Institute to Help NY Companies Use Green Technologies

Read the news release.

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at Rochester Institute of Technology today launched its Green Initiative to provide a sustainable road map for New York businesses, state Department of Environment Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and NYSP2I Director Anahita Williamson announced. The Green Initiative programs will propel nascent green technologies and products to the next step in commercialization and provide expertise in developing more sustainable manufacturing supply chains.

The Green Initiative will foster a new era of manufacturing competitiveness by creating opportunities for innovation, environmental stewardship and production efficiency. The effort is divided into two components, the Green Technology Accelerator Center, or GTAC, and the Sustainable Supply Chain and Technology Program. Both components of the two-year program were developed to increase the availability of green jobs and generate additional revenue for New York state businesses.

Coalition forms for extended producer responsibility

Read the full story from Plastics News.

An alliance of more than 30 public interest groups and other supporting organizations have formed a new coalition to push for public policy changes that would make manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling the products and packaging they produce — a concept known as extended producer responsibility.

“We want to bring recycling into the 21st century,” said the groups in announcing the formation of the CRADLE² coalition April 19.

The initial organizations that make up CRADLE² include the Product Policy Institute and eight public-interest organizations that have helped pass EPR legislation in the U.S.: the Sierra Club of California, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the Texas Campaign for the Environment, Clean Water Action in Massachusetts, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Clean Water Action in Rhode Island, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and Zero Waste in Washington.

How Corporate America Might Just Save Recycling

Read the full post at Forbes Green Tech.

Earlier in the week, this blog looked at some of the ways in which the U.S. recycling system has become dysfunctional. Today, we look at what might happen if recycling started to really work in this country, and turn to a potential solution–one that is being promoted by some of the very companies responsible for creating the country’s packaging waste.

Called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), this legislation would essentially set requirements for companies to collect and recycle a certain percentage of the packaging waste they generate, but would leave how they go about doing it up to the companies themselves. Companies like it because it gives them some control, and environmentalists like that it could drastically improve U.S. recycling rates (while rates are decently high for paper and aluminum, for other materials–particularly plastic–they are low, and overall only 33 percent of municipal solid waste is diverted from landfills).  A recent report from the Blue-Green Alliance found that increasing recycling rates in the United States to 75 percent for all municipal solid waste would create 1.5 million jobs. For consumers, who, at the end of the day, are the ones that actually pay for recycling, EPR promises a more effective, efficient system, one that delivers better value for taxpayer dollars. While the cost of EPR would be built into the cost of consumer products, the legislation would eliminate the fee consumers currently pay for city- or county-provided recycling.

Energy Department Launches Online Tool to Help Consumers Save Money on Energy Bills

As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to help American families and businesses reduce their energy costs, the Energy Department has launched the Utility Data Access Map tool, an interactive Web platform that enables electric utilities across the country to show customers, in a simple way, the data they can access on their electricity use. Currently, DOE has received responses from more than 500 participating utilities.

Many consumers don’t have enough data or are not aware of the data they can access to make informed decisions about energy efficiency measures they could take to save money. Among those who do have access to their data, some lack the ability to share it with service providers who might help them identify energy savings opportunities and verify savings once improvements have been made.

The Utility Data Access Map tool provides “crowd-sourced” maps in user-friendly formats based on information gathered from electricity providers nationwide. It highlights local access to electricity data and allows consumers to compare their electricity data access to others in their state and across the country. The data access maps display different features of consumer electricity data including the time period and timeliness of data—informing consumers, for example, whether their utility supplies same-day electricity use information—and the extent to which the data can be shared. By helping consumers better understand their energy use and providing new ways to compare which local utilities are adopting “smart grid” technologies, this effort underscores the Administration’s commitment to increasing home energy efficiency and helping families and businesses save money on their energy bills.

The Utility Data Access Map can be found on the Energy Department’s OpenEI website, an open, collaborative system managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that enables widespread sharing of energy information, including data, tools, models, and other digital resources.

The Energy Department is currently soliciting responses from local utilities across the nation to provide data for the Utility Data Access Map tool. Local utilities are encouraged to respond to the survey by May 11, 2012, and may continue to update their responses through September.

The Utility Data Access Map is part of a broader collaboration between DOE and electric utilities to provide greater consumer access to energy use data. This effort includes the recent launch of the industry-led Green Button initiative, designed to provide households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online “Green Button.” DOE’s OpenEI website complements the data access maps by providing links to the Green Button website and consumer tips for visitors to learn how they can maximize energy savings based on the information access currently offered by their electricity company. Visitors are invited to offer general feedback about issues related to their energy data access and energy efficiency.

A New App Helps You Buy Less — and Give Generously

Read the full post at GOOD.

Yeah, yeah, there’s an app for everything. But rarely does an app encourage you to buy less.

“We want to encourage people to live within or below their means,” explains Micah Davis. He’s a software designer at OvenBits studio in Dallas. They work with lots of nonprofits and, he explains, “we get more requests to help than we can handle…so we said, ‘let’s create a whole platform that can be used to help nonprofits.’”

Instead is that platform, now in beta testing. Davis hopes it helps to change your behavior for the better, and in the process, build a healthy microphilanthropy habit.

Apply Now for the 2012 Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award

The Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award is given annually to an outstanding middle or high school teacher who successfully integrates environmental education into their curriculum and engages students in interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges. The award recognizes an educator who can serve as an inspiration and model for others.

The 2012 Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award will go to a high school teacher, which includes grades 9-12. Because middle and high school teachers may face different challenges in their teaching on the environment, the award alternates between middle and high school teachers each year.

The Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award winner will receive $5,000 and two merit winners will receive $750 each.

Read about past Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award winners.

Nominations for the Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award are due June 8, 2012. Nominate yourself or a teacher you know today.

Data Journalism Handbook

The Data Journalism Handbook is a free, open source reference book for anyone interested in the emerging field of data journalism. If you’re wondering what data journalism is, I suggest taking a look at the book’s introduction. This looks like a useful resources for anyone who is interested in using data to tell compelling stories.

Two Climate Change Education Webinars Next Week

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) invite you to participate in two webinars that will be hosted by the CAMEL (Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, E-Learning) project early next week – one on Monday and another on Tuesday. These webinars will introduce you to resources for teaching about climate change science and solutions that are located on the CAMEL web portal (

Both webinars will feature a faculty member discussing their teaching module or exercise and how to use it in your teaching. The modules to be discussed are designed for undergraduate students, primarily at an introductory level.

You can find and watch a collection of past webinars at

Upcoming CAMEL Webinars

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Climate Change
Monday, 4/30 (3pm-4pm ET) – Octaviana Trujillo, Northern Arizona University and Teresa Newberry, TOCC
Click here to register

NASA Time Machine Visualization (click here to see module)
Tuesday, 5/1 (3pm-4pm ET) – Dave Hassenzahl, Chatham University
Click here to register

To explore the other CAMEL webinars scheduled through late May, visit

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