Giving Low-Income Families Access to Clean Energy and Efficiency

Read the full story from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

In June, RMI—along with its partner organizations—launched eLab Leap in New York to identify the unmet needs and create solutions that empower and improve the lives of low-income communities and households in a clean energy future.

Forty diverse groups joined eLab Leap’s first meeting including low-income and consumer advocates, environmental groups, government entities, housing organizations, utilities, regulators, foundations, and financiers.

The meeting attendees created four initiatives to collaboratively implement and test solutions for low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities in New York. These initiatives are:

  • REVitalize: Fund a community-generated, clean energy plan that leverages New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding to bring economic and environmental justice to all members of the community.
  • Public Participation Initiative: Drive more effective engagement, participation, and communication between government agencies and stakeholders working on low-income issues in New York.
  • Community Energy Project: Conduct and implement holistic and complete energy efficiency, weatherization, and DER audits, retrofits and upgrades all at once, and at scale in a particular neighborhood, and develop a sustainable funding model.
  • Guide to Community-Owned, Local LMI Microgrids: Develop a guide to help communities interested in pursuing community-owned, local renewable energy infrastructure to understand the decisions they need to make and the actions they need to take to achieve their goals.

RMI and eLab Leap hope to scale successes from these initiatives across New York and, in the future, nationally.

While developing the framework for eLab Leap, RMI interviewed several key stakeholders in New York. A recurring and intriguing question was how entrepreneurs and others in the private sector can better serve LMI customers.

Comment on NAAEE’s draft guidelines for community engagement

The North American Association for Environmental Education and EE Capacity are in the process of developing a community engagement document  for the Guidelines for Excellence series. The draft document is available for download.

When completed, this new set of guidelines will focus on how environmental educators can work successfully in communities to protect the environment and promote community well-being and sustainability. These guidelines will also strive to help environmental educators and others create more inclusive working environments that support social equity, effective partnerships, and coalition building.

As with the previous Guidelines for Excellence publications, these guidelines will be developed through an iterative public participation process. Comments will be considered as the draft is being revised. Please submit your comments to Bora Simmons [] by Monday, November 16, 2015EE Capacity is supported by EPA through a cooperative agreement with Cornell University.

First Illinois City to Implement Curbside Organics Recycling Program

Read the full story in Waste360.

Highland Park will become the first Illinois city to offer curbside recycling of mixed organic waste when it rolls out its opt-in, three-bin system in April 2016.

The affluent Chicago suburb of about 9,000 residences is teaming with Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) to target food scraps during the yard waste season from April 1 to Dec. 15.

Perch lets you turn nearly any device with a camera into a smart home security system

Read the full story from The Next Web.

For home owners and renters alike, there are countless of gadgets that can help them remotely monitor their home through a smartphone. Perch, a new startup born out of the Samsung Accelerator program, wants to do away with useless hardware and let you turn a camera you may already own into a security monitor.

Instead of requiring customers to buy additional hardware, Perch lets you use any USB-based webcam, smartphone, laptop or tablet as the point of capture. The Perch app allows you to dictate the area of the screen you wish to monitor and send an alert when it notices unusual movements.

What Companies Can Learn From Social Scalers

Read the full story in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Many companies with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are striving to scale their contribution to solving the world’s social problems such as poverty, environmental concerns, health — the list goes on. In this article, we describe what these companies can learn from a special breed of social entrepreneur, whom we call “social scalers.”

Webinar: Assessment and Treatment of Contaminated Sediments

Thursday, October 29, 2015, 12:00 PM ET (9:00 AM PT)
Register at

Webinar Topics 

The Roles of Biology, Chemistry and Exposure in the Development of Resilient Remedies by Dr. Todd Bridges

Remediation of contaminated sediments is a widespread, complex, and expensive national problem. Uncertainties regarding contaminant exposure processes play a significant role in driving cleanup decisions, including the derivation of cleanup levels and the selection of remedial approaches. This research has focused on reducing these uncertainties by resolving the role of functional ecology (e.g., the animal behavior) in exposure. Laboratory research has combined the use of passive sampling, tissue analysis, and modeling to quantify the exposure processes that should enable more complete and accurate risk assessments and the design of more resilient remedies. Differences in exposure will be quantified among distinct animal groups (e.g., amphipods, polychaetes, bivalves, fish) in order to improve exposure models used in risk assessment, remedial design, and performance monitoring. In addition, this study is evaluating the relative performance of thin-layer sand caps and activated carbon amendments as a means of achieving resilience for in situ remedies challenged by ongoing sources of contamination. The results of this research will provide tools to evaluate, monitor, and guide active management of in situ remedies.

In Situ Treatment of Polychlorinated Biphenyl Impacted Sediments by Microbial Bioaugmentation by Dr. Kevin Sowers

The objective of this research is to develop and test the efficacy of a bioamended form of granulated activated carbon (GAC) to sequester PCBs from the food chain and concurrently dechlorinate and degrade PCBs in sediments at Department of Defense (DoD) sites. The innovative aspect of the technology is the application of anaerobic organohalide respiring and aerobic PCB degrading bacteria with selected activities to sediments with a GAC agglomerate (SediMiteTM) as a delivery system. The project goals are to (1) evaluate the efficacy of bioaugmentation for expediting degradation of highly chlorinated Aroclors in situ and (2) evaluate the efficacy of the delivery system for deploying biocatalysts into PCB-impacted sediments through a water column. In situ treatment by bioaugmentation has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact compared with dredging by minimizing the health risks associated with sediment disruption, reducing overall energy use and effectively negating the requirement for extensive waste management and habitat restoration. The results of an ESTCP-funded pilot study to demonstrate and validate this environmentally sustainable technology under simulated field conditions and at a PCB-impacted DoD field site will be the focus of this presentation.