Sewage lagoons remove most – but not all – pharmaceuticals

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Rural sewage treatment lagoons remove most, but not all, of the pharmaceutical and personal care product and hormone contaminants from wastewater, suggests a new study lead by Wei Zheng, a senior research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and an adjunct faculty member in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences at Illinois.

Corrected link: Upcoming ISTC seminar — Ecotoxicology of Antimicrobial Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in Illinois Rivers and Streams

My recent post on upcoming ISTC seminars contained an incorrect link. Register for the March 14, 2013 webinar, “Ecotoxicology of Antimicrobial Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in Illinois Rivers and Streams”, at I’ve corrected the original post as well.

EPA Contaminated by Conflict of Interest

Read the full story from PBS Newshour.

In September 2010, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency came to a startling conclusion: Even a small amount of a chemical compound commonly found in tap water may cause cancer.

The compound, hexavalent chromium, gained infamy in the Oscar-winning film Erin Brockovich, based on the David-vs.-Goliath legal duel between desert dwellers in Hinkley, Calif., and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The film ends in Hollywood fashion, with the corporate polluter paying $333 million to people suffering from illnesses.

But in real life, the drama continues. More than 70 million Americans drink traces of chromium every day, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization.

States with a green thumb

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

In 2012, green buildings sprouted up across Illinois like wild flowers (let’s say violets, since we’re talking about the Land of Lincoln.)

In fact, last year the state certified 156 LEED projects, representing 25 million square feet of real estate. In total, the state now has more than 700 LEED certified projects, representing more than 140 million square feet of real estate. That’s the equivalent of 30 Willis Towers.

The state’s leadership in green building – from the state house to city halls – has helped propel Illinois into the 5th spot on USGBC’s Top 10 LEED states – coming only behind DC, Virginia, Colorado and Massachusetts. Our annual ranking considered states based on the amount of 2012 LEED-certified space per capita.

Leading by example: Obama administration releases federal agency strategic sustainability performance plans

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

Continuing the Obama Administration’s commitment to lead by example and cut waste, pollution, and costs in Federal operations, Federal agencies today released their 2012 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans. President Obama signed Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance in October 2009, setting aggressive targets for reducing waste and pollution in Federal operations by 2020.  The Sustainability Plans build on three years of progress under the Executive Order and provide an overview of how agencies are saving taxpayer dollars, reducing carbon emissions, cutting waste, and saving energy.

This year, agency Sustainability Plans for the first time ever include Climate Change Adaptation Plans, outlining initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of Federal programs, assets, and investments to the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise or more frequent or severe extreme weather. Agency adaptation plans highlight actions to plan for and address these impacts in their programs and operations, and protect taxpayer investments.

The adaptation plans, which the President called for in his 2009 Executive Order, will be available for 60 days of public comment and will be updated by agencies as needed.  The agency adaptation plans build on the Administration’s commitment to promoting climate change preparedness and resilience, including through launching the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force in 2009 to coordinate measures across the Federal Government and support local and regional adaptation efforts.

Ameren customers: Flip the Switch on T12s

T12 fluorescent lamps will be phased out of production due to new federal energy standards. Switch out those T12 fixtures with high-performance T8 or T5 lamps and an electronic ballast – you could see savings of 33% or more on your electric bills each year!

Through May 31, 2013, completed T12 retrofit projects will receive a 5% incentive bonus.  Get started on your project today and take advantage of these great incentives, including:

  • T12 to high-performance T8: $0.25/watt reduced + 5% bonus
  • T12 to T5 new fixture: $0.25/watt reduced + 5% bonus

For more information, visit

ARRA-Funded Energy-Efficiency Program Seeds Private-Sector Financing

Read the full story in Sustainable Communities E-News.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided billions of dollars in financing to homeowners, businesses, and local governments to invest in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy technology through the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. The influx of available capital into the residential energy-efficiency market was intended to remove the barriers to efficiency upgrades, including the upfront costs of retrofitting a home. The intent was also to foster long-term growth in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy technology through a scaled response supported by the private sector.

With most ARRA funds for energy-efficiency improvements expended, private financing and a trained workforce are fueling greater market penetration and providing promising signs for the future of the industry. Leaders from the California Rural Home Mortgage Finance Authority Homebuyers Fund (CHF) recently announced the continuation of the CHF Residential Energy Retrofit Program (formerly known as the Moderate Income Sustainable Technology Program) through a unique partnership that engages private investment, an investor-owned utility, and the public sector. Originally funded with $29 million in ARRA funds administered through the California Energy Commission in 2010, the latest version of the program is made possible through $20 million in loans from Sacramento-based Five Star Bank.

Earn-A-Bike Aims to Get the University of Louisville Cycling

Read the full story in Sustainable Communities E-News.

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky now have the opportunity to cycle to class or work as a result of an innovative program designed to reduce vehicle trips to campus and encourage healthy transportation options. Launched in fall 2012, the Earn-A-Bike program, which provides participants with a voucher to be used toward the purchase of a bicycle or cycling-related equipment, is part of a larger movement toward sustainability at the university.

Funding available for installation energy demonstrations

The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), supports the demonstration of technologies that address priority DoD installation energy requirements.  The demonstrations are intended to generate supporting cost and performance data needed for validation of the technology.  The goal is to accelerate the deployment of innovative energy technologies and to enable promising technologies to receive end-user acceptance and be fielded and commercialized more rapidly.

ESTCP is seeking proposals for demonstrations of energy technologies on DoD installations as candidates for funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.  The solicitation requests pre-proposals via Calls for Proposals to DoD organizations and Non-DoD Federal organizations and via a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Private Sector organizations.

ESTCP requests pre-proposals for the following topics:

  1. Smart and Secure Military Installation Energy Management; and
  2. Advanced Building Energy Management and Control.

The due date for all pre-proposals is Thursday, March 28, 2013.  More information about the solicitation, including instructions and deadlines, is available on the SERDP and ESTCP website at

WEBINAR for the ESTCP INSTALLATION ENERGY SOLICITATION – February 19: ESTCP Director Dr. Jeffrey Marqusee will conduct an online seminar “ESTCP Installation Energy Funding Opportunities” on February 19, 2013, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  This “how to play” briefing will offer valuable information for those interested in new ESTCP funding opportunities related to energy topics.  During the online seminar, participants may ask questions about the funding process, the current ESTCP solicitation, and the proposal submission process.  Pre-registration for this webinar is required.  To register, visit

If you have difficulty registering, please contact Jon Bunger at or 571-372-6565.