Day: January 22, 2015

Net positive: ‘It’s the leading edge of sustainability, but we’ve not cracked it’

Read the full story in The Guardian.

“Net positive”, like so much management-speak, feels almost intentionally discombobulating. Be not confused, however. The clue is in the name. In a net-positive world, positive-minded managers run positive-oriented companies with an array of positive outcomes.

So what’s the basic premise? It’s similar to Google’s famous company mantra, “Don’t be evil”, only turned on its head. If net positivists have a guiding maxim, then “be positive” sums it up.

The aim of the net-positive movement is to encourage businesses to leave the world a better place than they find it, explains Sally Uren, chief executive of sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future. So if you use water in your business model, then leave the planet with more or better quality water than you take out. It’s the same with forests, energy, or whatever finite natural resource your company relies upon.

Top 10 web trends shaping the future of sustainable business

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Web 2.0, or the ability to share and manipulate information online through user collaboration, has had a disruptive effect on business. Customers now expect to participate in the corporate world, and place a greater value on transparency in return.

This new environment, termed “wikinomics” by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, is based on four principles: openness, peering, sharing and acting globally. Here are the top 10 ways that web 2.0 technologies and digital cultures will impact on business, driving them towards more sustainable behaviour during the next decade.

Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program 2015 Request for Proposals

Applications Due: February 3, 2015
Eligible Entities: state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions, non-profit 501(c) organizations

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is making available funding to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships for stormwater management, wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration, urban wildlife conservation, as well as outreach, education and stewardship. Eligible projects include increasing tree canopy, bio swales, permeable pavers, bio retention, green roofs, downspout disconnection, installation of native vegetation and other proven practices for water quality, habitats, and species.

More information: http://www.nfwf.org/fivestar/Pages/2015RFP.aspx#.VL_ySUfF8-I

Pharrell wants “literally all of humanity to harmonize” on climate change

Read the full story in Grist.

It’s hard to top the accomplishment of creating the greatest beat in the history of hip-hop, but goddammit, Pharrell is giving it a shot. The hip-hop mogul announced today at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos that he’s partnering with Al Gore to organize Live Earth: Road to Paris, a series of concerts that will take place across six continents over 24 hours on June 18. The goal? Getting one billion people to sign a petition stating that yes, they’d really like it if some semblance of constructive action were to take place at COP21.

Building Sponge City: Redesigning LA For Long-Term Drought

Rather than building aqueducts and sending rainwater to the ocean, the Arid Land Institute advocates building bioswales and using permeable pavement to catch and store rainwater for use by residents. NPR has the story from KQED.

EPA Launches Finance Center to Improve Community Water Infrastructure and Resiliency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center today to help communities across the country improve their wastewater, drinking water and stormwater systems, particularly through innovative financing and by building resilience to climate change. The center was announced as Vice President Biden and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy toured the construction site for a tunnel to reduce sewer overflows into the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. by 98 percent. The center is part of the White House Build America Investment Initiative – a government-wide effort to increase infrastructure investment and promote economic growth by creating opportunities for state and local governments and the private sector to collaborate, expand public-private partnerships, and increase the use of federal credit programs.

“Infrastructure is central to the President’s plan to build on the progress the U.S. economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all Americans,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By modernizing the nation’s infrastructure we can protect our drinking water sources and enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change by avoiding financial and water supply losses from leaking pipes and reducing pollution from sewer overflows and wastewater discharges.”

Key Points

  • EPA’s center will serve as a resource for communities, municipal utilities, and private entities as they seek to address water infrastructure needs with limited budgets.
  • EPA will help explore public-private partnerships and innovative financing solutions.
  • Aging and inadequate water infrastructure hinders the ability of communities to provide clean drinking water, manage wastewater, reduce flooding, and provide recreational waters that are safe to swim and fish in.
  • Impacts of climate change — including intense and frequent storms, drought, floods, sea-level rise and water quality changes — create challenges for communities as they prepare water infrastructure that can withstand these impacts.

By the Numbers

Audio

Administrator McCarthy discusses EPA’s new center:
http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/28ce3f2fe7f9df5285257dcf00577798!OpenDocument

Photos
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/sets/72157649907578489/

Details

The Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center will:

  • Explore innovative financial tools, public-private partnerships, and non-traditional finance concepts to better leverage federal funding programs. The Center will build on the highly successful State Revolving Fund and other programs of EPA and its federal partners.
  • Explore ways to increase financing of climate-resilient water infrastructure projects that integrate water efficiency, energy efficiency, water reuse and green infrastructure.
  • Support communities to develop sustainable sources of funding, particularly for stormwater activities.
  • Build upon existing work to support small community water systems to build technical, managerial and financial capacities through collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Closely coordinate with the EPA-supported Environmental Finance Centers and consult with the Agency’s Environmental Finance Advisory Board.

Water infrastructure includes the pipes, drains, and concrete that carry drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. It includes industrial wastewater pretreatment facilities; wastewater treatment plants; municipal separate storm sewer systems; decentralized, onsite and septic systems; public drinking water systems; and private wells. It also includes green infrastructure, which uses natural land cover to capture rain where it falls, allowing it to filter through the ground.

More Information

New conversion process turns biomass ‘waste’ into lucrative chemical products

Read the full story from Purdue University.

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets.

A team of researchers from Purdue University’s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.

Mahdi Abu-Omar, the R.B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Engineering and associate director of C3Bio, led the team.

Webinar: Corporate Sustainability and TRI: Exploring P2 Information for Facilities and Parent Companies

Date: Wednesday, February 4, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CST
Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/ register/312174544

Do you know which companies are taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint in the U.S.?

For the past two years, TRI’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Tool has been an excellent resource for learning what industrial facilities are doing to reduce toxic chemical pollution. Now, all the facility-level P2 and waste management data reported to EPA’s TRI Program is also available at the parent company level.

Join our next webinar to:

  • learn how the TRI P2 Tool can help you identify P2 successes and visually compare environmental performance at both the facility and corporate level
  • find out how to compare toxic chemical management and greenhouse gas emissions data at the corporate level
  • see what companies are doing to prevent the release of pollutants to the environment
  • get a live demonstration of the newly expanded TRI P2 Tool
  • see the latest industry- and chemical-level P2 trends featured in the 2013 TRI National Analysis report

Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2015

Read the full memorandum from Bergson & Campbell PC.

2015 will be a very interesting year. There are two overarching considerations that will make the year more difficult to predict than merely assuming most of this year’s issues will simply be extensions of past issues, with a few new initiatives sprinkled in. First, the new Republican majority in the Senate will change the dynamic between the Executive and Legislative branches. Second, the Obama Administration will begin its lame duck status as it enters the last two years of office. Corollary to the end of the Obama Administration is the jockeying for the 2016 Presidential election that also begins now. The Iowa Presidential caucus is, after all, only a little more than a year away. We can expect the year to be full of Congressional oversight hearings, candidate jockeying, and a focus on various “legacy issues” as those transitioning put effort into finishing or attaining objectives set out earlier in the Administration.

Most of the high profile fireworks, even in the chemical policy space, will not directly involve the regulation of chemicals and pesticides. High profile activities will center on climate change policies and initiatives, and attempts to hinder or foster them. At the same time, for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), we can expect serious consideration of legislative amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and continued attempts to revitalize the toxic chemicals program even without legislation, along with continued emphasis on various pesticide issues, such as pollinator protection, endangered species, worker protection standards, and endocrine testing requirements.

Green Chemistry Student Awards Deadline Approaching

Via the American Chemical Society.

Are you a student looking to be recognized for your efforts in green chemistry research? If so, there are two awards administered by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® to look into!

The ACS GCI Joseph Breen Memorial Fellowship Award sponsors young, international green chemistry scholars to participate in an international green chemistry technical meeting, conference or training program. The student is awarded up to $2,000, based on estimated travel fees. This “young” scholar is defined as undergraduate students, graduate students, post doctoral fellows, and above, but below the level of assistant professor and within the first seven years of a professional career. Applicants residing within the U.S. or abroad are eligible for this award. The applicant must demonstrate research or educational interest in green chemistry.

The Kenneth G. Hancock Memorial Award provides national recognition for outstanding student contributions to furthering the goals of green chemistry through research and/or studies. This includes but is not limited to the research, development, and implementation of fundamental and innovative chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use, and that have the potential to be utilized in achieving national pollution prevention goals.The recipient of the award receives $1000, plus travel and registration to the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference held in the Washington, D.C. area July, 2015.

The deadline for both awards is February 2, 2015.

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