Speak Up to Keep Your Sustainability Program Funding!

Via an e-mail from the NWF’s Campus Ecology program.

We are writing to ask for your help in reauthorizing the University Sustainability Program (USP) at the Department of Education.  It is part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which is set to expire this coming August. This is the only federal sustainability education funding program in existence, and it is imperative that we keep it alive.

How you can help:
Endorsement is rather quick and easy to manage (no need to adapt letters or secure e-signatures).  If you are willing to support this initiative, simply e-mail Jim Elder (Elder@FundEE.org), letting him know that he may add your president or CEO’s name, title and campus/organization name to the letter by May 30, or as soon as possible thereafter.  Background on the USP:Part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which is set to expire in August 2013, the USP is the only federal sustainability education funding program.  It has already generated over $4 million in grants for sustainability projects as part of the FY2010 Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education appropriation.

Why there is hope:
USP’s original House sponsor, Representative Earl Blumenauer, has agreed to make a push for funding the USP as part of the FY14 federal budget.  Hearings are currently being held in Congress on the bill, according to Jim Elder, and Blumenauer says it is important get our position on record. Although the USP is vulnerable to being dropped out of the new reauthorization bill, there is reason for hope, if we act now and persist in the coming years.

Tools for action:
Jim Elder has drafted two letters of support– one for a FY14 appropriation and one for reauthorization and will kindly organize the outreach to appropriate lawmaker through the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, collecting and forwarding the sign-on letter to Senators Harkin and Moran and Representatives Kingston and Rosa DeLauro on Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Committee of the House and Senate as well as to Senators Alexander and Harkin and Representatives Kline and Miller on, respectively, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committees.

We all worked hard to pass the USP five years ago. A time will come when we have a good shot at getting it more fully funded, Jim reminds us, and reauthorization is certainly easier than authorizing a new bill from scratch.

Kickstarting: A Desktop Mill For Carving Your Own Circuit Boards

Read the full story at Fast Co.Design.

3-D printing seems limitless. You dream it, you build it. But mostly, 3-D printing is only good for making inert plastic shapes. What if you want to build whole, blinking, glowing, communicating gadgets?

The Othermill, by Otherfab, is a desktop mill that wants to do for circuit boards what the MakerBot has done for physical objects. Namely, the mill could enable you to create highly accurate, totally custom electronic guts to fit inside the unique spaces of bespoke gadgetry.

Sustainable purchasing gets its own umbrella organization

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Literally dozens of organizations provide eco-guidance related to buying green products. What makes the Sustainable Purchasing Council (SPC) unique is its mission to help purchasing managers consider this process more holistically.

SPC, which launches officially at a July meeting in Washington, D.C., didn’t set out to create its own rating system. Rather, it borrows a page from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building framework by using existing certifications and guidance to inform a systemic approach to institutional and corporate sustainable purchasing practices. GreenBiz senior writer Heather Clancy spoke with the council’s executive director, Jason Pearson, about the council’s initial priorities.

Carbon sequestration technique produces supergreen hydrogen fuel

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean acidification.

The team demonstrated, at a laboratory scale, a system that uses the acidity normally produced in saline water electrolysis to accelerate silicate mineral dissolution while producing hydrogen fuel and other gases. The resulting electrolyte solution was shown to be significantly elevated in hydroxide concentration that in turn proved strongly absorptive and retentive of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Further, the researchers suggest that the carbonate and bicarbonate produced in the process could be used to mitigate ongoing ocean acidification, similar to how an Alka Seltzer neutralizes excess acid in the stomach.

“We not only found a way to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing valuable H2, we also suggest that we can help save marine ecosystems with this new technique,” says Greg Rau, an LLNL visiting scientist, senior scientist at University of California, Santa Cruz and lead author of a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Webinar: Effective & Affordable Community-Based Social Marketing Strategies to Increase Recycling & Reduce Waste on Campus

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CDT
Register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/282277609

Research shows that the most effective marketing initiatives aimed at changing behavior are carried out at the community level and involve direct contact with people. Marketing experts will walk through the steps involved in community-based social marketing (CBSM), discuss why this approach is particularly effective in changing behavior on college campuses, and share some real-world examples.


  • Jay Kassirer- President of President of Ottawa-based Cullbridge Marketing and Communications
  • Shannon Leblanc – Sustainability coordinator for Energy Management and Sustainable Operations at the University of Alberta.
  • Emily Dietrich- Sustainability Coordinator for the Office of Sustainability at the University of Alberta

Is Waste-Free Packaging on the Horizon?

Read the full story from Earth911.

Each year, we throw away over 70 million tons of packaging waste, which takes up a significant chunk of landfill space. Package designer Aaron Mickelson decided to tackle this problem for his masters thesis project at the Pratt Institute and came up with what he calls The Disappearing Package.

Reuse Design Challenge: Transform a Phone Book

Read the full story at Earth911.

The Challenge

We reached out to five of our favorite DIY/Craft bloggers and tasked them with a challenge: Create something new out of an old phone book.

Where You Come In:

Take a look at the inspiring and beautifully functional projects we received and cast your vote for your favorite entry at the end of the story. Voting will close Friday, May 31.

We’ll follow up and publish a full tutorial of the project that receives the most votes and recognize the winning blogger on Earth911.