Webinar: The State of Green Business 2013

February 12. 2013, 12-1 PM CSTRegister at http://info.greenbiz.com/state-green-business-webcast-01.html

Join Joel Makower, the report’s principal author, in conversation with Trucost CEO Richard Mattison on the day of the report’s publication, for a lively discussion on how, and how well, business is doing from a sustainability perspective.

Among the topics:

  • How and why companies are looking to measure their natural capital impacts
  • The growing convergence of sustainability with risk and resilience
  • The top-reported key performance indicators
  • Which company impacts are changing, and why

Energy Efficiency, Geothermal Heat Pumps and “Negawatts”

Read the full story in Renewable Energy World.

A recent study by Ceres — Practicing Risk-Aware Electricity Regulation: What Every State Regulator Needs to Know — concluded that the least cost and least risk for future energy resources is energy efficiency. Indeed, the lowest cost unit of energy is one that is not used.

Food Scrap Pilot Program in Madison County

Via the Illinois Recycling Association’s Material Matters Newsletter.

Instead of throwing away their food scraps from breakfast and lunch, East Alton District #13 students are participating in a Food Scrap Pilot Program.  The food scraps are collected and composted to become food for plants. This Food Scrap Pilot Program is sponsored by the Madison County Green Schools Program and takes place in the East Alton Middle School, Eastwood Elementary School and Washington Early Childhood Center, all in East Alton, IL.

All three East Alton schools currently use single stream recycling.  For the pilot program, the students empty their food waste into a compostable bag that is the lining of a 65-gallon rolling tote.  The full totes are taken outside the buildings and picked up three times a week by Always Green Recycling (AGR).  AGR transports the totes to St. Louis Compost, Belleville, IL where the scraps become plant food (compost) in 180 days.

“We are very honored and excited to be selected for Madison County Food Scrap Pilot Program,” stated East Alton District #13 Superintendent, Mr. Virgil Moore.  “With the addition of food composting to our already established single-stream recycling program, the East Alton School District will come very close to achieving zero waste.  These programs allow our District to realize a significant reduction in operating costs while, at the same time, teaching our students to be responsible citizens.”

The program kicked-off on America Recycles Day.  After only one and one-half months into the program, over 6.48 tons of food waste has been diverted from the landfill.  The program is a partnership between the Madison County Green Schools Program, Madison County Health Department, Always Green Recycling and St. Louis Composting.

Phase I of Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options Project Started in East Central Illinois

Local county and municipal governments and area health agencies regularly receive inquiries from residents about how to dispose of household hazardous waste (HHW).  Historically, HHW collection options available to east central Illinois residents have been inadequate.

In December, the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission received grant support from the Lumpkin Family Foundation and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center to begin the first phase of a 3-phase project which seeks to improve HHW collection options in a 7-county area of east central Illinois (Champaign, Vermilion, Douglas, Edgar, Coles, Cumberland, and Clark Counties).

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) subsidizes the operation of four HHW collection facilities, all situated in northern Illinois.  After a three-year hiatus due to lack of state funding, during 2012, IEPA resumed a limited schedule of downstate HHW one-day collections. Local government jurisdictions or agencies requesting a HHW one-day collection are placed on a prioritized waiting list, with the amount of local funds provided for the one-day collection as one IEPA selection criterion.  Local funds to IEPA for a one-day collection are provided from landfill ‘tipping fees’ in those counties with a landfill, and funding options for the majority of downstate counties with no landfill is extremely limited.

Phase I of the project will start in January 2013 and is expected to take 6 months to complete.  Phase I includes data collection, and developing an inventory of potential alternatives for convenient HHW collection options. Phases 2 and 3 of the project will focus on selected HHW options for implementation and will include further outreach and collaboration.  One hope for the outcome of the project is that it can be used as a model in other Illinois counties.

For more information, contact Susan Monte at smonte@ccrpc.org.

Boom in Mining Rare Earths Poses Mounting Toxic Risks

Read the full story at Yale360.

The mining of rare earth metals, used in everything from smart phones to wind turbines, has long been dominated by China. But as mining of these key elements spreads to countries like Malaysia and Brazil, scientists warn of the dangers of the toxic and radioactive waste generated by the mines and processing plants.

Mercury’s Silent Toll On the World’s Wildlife

Read the full story at Yale 360.

Scientists are only beginning to understand the impacts of mercury contamination on birds, fish, and other wildlife populations. But what they are finding is alarming — even low levels can cause harm, and chronic exposure has unexpected and troubling effects.

Google Science Fair 2013

Google Science Fair is an online science competition, open to students between the ages of 13 and 18 from around the world, working alone or in teams.

Students sign up for the Science Fair with their Google account. Then they’ll carry out a test or experiment on their chosen subject, entering all the information on their project site. All submissions are due by 30 April 2013. After the first round of judging, we’ll announce 90 regional finalists, whose work will then be reviewed even more closely by a panel of judges. The top 15 students will be invited to our finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA, where they’ll present their work to a panel of scientists, tech innovators and Nobel Laureates.

Science writing: how do you make complex issues accessible and readable?

Read the full interview at Our Daily Read.

As London’s Royal Society prepared to award its annual book prize, we asked five top writers to debate what makes good science writing in a technically minded age.

Illinois study shows perennial biofuels give off less nitrogen

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Perennial crops like the tallgrass miscanthus can be turned into ethanol like corn, but give off less nitrogen into the atmosphere, according to a University of Illinois study.

Limiting nitrogen is important because it can produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that furthers global warming. And nitrate can contaminate drinking sources and leach into lakes where it contributes to lethal dead zones for fish life.

In Energy Taxes, Tools to Help Tackle Climate Change

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Americans may have grown more aware of the potential risks of climate change, but they are no more willing to bear the costs of trying to solve the problem.