How to protect nature on your home turf

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

If a company wants to act to improve its lands for nature, we want to encourage and enable it to do so, whatever the scope of its aspirations. We do this by working with it to design strong and appropriate projects and recognize its efforts. When we evaluate projects, we evaluate their impacts on nature, employees and community.

Is this sustainability’s man-on-the-moon moment?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Before Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, JFK had to say “go.”

Historians say the Apollo missions never might have happened had it not been for the success of the Soviet space program in launching Sputnik and sending the first human into space.

With pressure mounting on Kennedy to display America’s excellence in comparison to the Communist model, he announced in May 1961 that the U.S. would put an American on the moon by the end of the decade. It was then left to NASA to figure out how exactly they were going to do that.

We see this same shift — from why to how — happening today when it comes to private sector engagement in sustainability and CSR.

CEOs used to ask, “Why should I invest in sustainability? Where is the benefit in addressing social and environmental issues?”

Answering this question was an uphill battle for sustainability directors, who would spend a great deal of time and money to develop complex valuation models to determine the ROI from sustainability.

The results would be disappointing. We can identify hard savings figures for eco-efficiency projects, but more abstract value drivers such as brand loyalty and maintaining a license to operate always deliver fuzzy figures (despite what your ad agency might tell you).

And so corporate sustainability efforts remained lukewarm with a few leaders developing innovative approaches while the rest of the pack looked on.

Fast-forward to today and the business case has become much more clear, especially in the U.S.

10 climate change-fighting energy apps to tap

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

There seems to be an app for everything, whether you’re looking for a ride across town, finding a place to crash for the night or even hoping to advance renewable energy.

Energy is responsible for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels for electricity. A cornerstone of the Paris Agreement coming out of the U.N. COP21 climate talks was investing in renewable energy, such as solar and wind, alongside energy efficiency.

Want to be a part of expanding the renewables economy? Here are 10 nifty apps for businesses and consumers alike.

Congress Looks to Slash EPA Funding, Block Environmental Regulations

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

US Senate Republicans are looking to slash EPA funding and block some of the agency’s environmental regulations that aim to curb greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution from manufacturers and other industries.

In a spending bill released yesterday, the EPA and Interior Department programs would receive $32 billion for fiscal year 2017 — $1 billion shy of what President Obama requested in his budget.

The Senate move follows the US House’s $32 spending bill for the federal environmental programs, released late last month. The full House Appropriations Committee is slated to vote on the budget today, followed by the full Senate Appropriations Committees on Thursday.

The House and the Senate legislation would slash $64 million from last year’s levels and block funding for implementation of some of the Obama Administration’s controversial regulations including the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule. The funding cuts would make it more difficult for the EPA to enforce these rules — and it’s also a political statement by GOP lawmakers who oppose them.

How to use grey water in the garden

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

If you’ve ever watched your garden struggle through a summer drought, you know the pain of seeing everything from annuals to a treasured plant passed down from grandma wilt, shrivel and die.

But you don’t have to lose any of them to the relentless heat that leaves the dirt dry as dust.

Even if soaring summer temperatures and a lack of rain lead to outdoor watering restrictions or even an outright ban, there’s still a way you can legally quench the need of thirsty plants. It’s called grey water — water from kitchen or bathroom sinks, bathtubs or washing machines that some municipalities still confuse with wastewater — that you can safely capture and re-route to the landscape through manual or mechanical means. (And yes, there are some restrictions on this, depending on where you live, but we’ll cover that in more detail below.)

There are two basic ways to re-use grey water in the garden. One is the tried and true do-it-yourself method of collecting indoor water in buckets, bottles, pans, cans or anything that will hold water and carrying it to the garden. The other is to find a group that will work with you or teach you how to turn your current household plumbing into a sustainable system that can provide irrigation for your landscape.

Remember the Menhaden!

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

You may know menhaden by a different name — “pogies,” “bunker fatback” — or you may have never heard of them at all. Menhaden are small, bony, oily fish that many people will never encounter at the grocery store. Menhaden are also a keystone species in the Atlantic, and when they disappear, bad things start to happen: The ocean becomes murky, and algae blooms spread unchecked. Menhaden are filter feeders, the janitors of the Atlantic — they have always been around to clean up the mess.

And now they’re not.

Today’s jobs, tomorrow’s sustainability profession

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

I was excited to partner with GreenBiz on its 2016 State of the Profession Report. This year’s report finds salaries are up, budgets are up and headcount is up. All encouraging and good news.

Many years ago, I had made some weak attempts at a salary survey. GreenBiz’s data and report always has been so strong, that I have been referring jobseekers and sustainability professionals to this data for years. The partnership made good sense.

Included in the report was a review of Talent Show (this column) after contributing to GreenBiz for the past six years. I’ve observed CSOs evolve from elusive to increasingly mainstream, competencies evolve to include more volatility and ambiguity. I’ve also covered a good deal on the lifecycle of an employee from recruitment to retirement.

Environmental Protection: Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA

Download the document.

What GAO Found

As of May 23, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had implemented 174 of the 325 recommendations GAO made in fiscal years 2006 through 2015. EPA had not yet implemented the remaining 151 recommendations. The figure below shows the status of the 325 recommendations, which fall into six broad categories that relate to EPA programs and operations. These are: (1) management and operations; (2) water issues; (3) environmental contamination and cleanup; (4) toxics, chemical safety, and pesticides; (5) air quality, climate change, and energy efficiency; and (6) public health and environmental justice. Almost three-fourths of the recommendations fall into the first three categories and include actions to better manage grants, improve regulation of drinking water contaminants, and better manage hazardous waste cleanup. Most of the recommendations not yet implemented concern EPA management and operations and water issues. For example, regarding management and operations, EPA has not yet implemented GAO’s recommendation to improve procedures for processing congressional committee requests for scientific advice. Similarly, for water issues, EPA has not fully implemented GAO’s recommendations related to providing oversight guidance and working with states on water quality protection measures.

Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA, Fiscal Years 2006-2015, as of May 23, 2016

Status of GAO Recommendations to EPA, Fiscal Years 2006-2015, as of May 23, 2016

GAO has identified many benefits— programmatic and process improvements and financial benefits—based on EPA taking actions on these recommendations and related work. For example, in 2010, GAO found that EPA had not maintained attention to children’s health issues through agency strategies and priorities since 2000. GAO recommended that EPA’s strategic plan expressly articulate children-specific goals, objectives, and targets. EPA agreed, and on September 30, 2010, EPA submitted its fiscal year 2011-2015 strategic plan to Congress, which included children’s health and environmental justice as a cross-cutting strategy, and children-specific goals. In addition, GAO has identified financial benefits from implementation of its recommendations and related work. For example, in 2008, GAO identified an error in EPA’s calculation of reimbursable indirect costs for hazardous waste cleanup. EPA acknowledged the error and published revised indirect costs rates. As a result, GAO estimated in 2010 that EPA had recovered or would recover $42.2 million.

Why GAO Did This Study

EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. To accomplish this mission, EPA develops and enforces environmental regulations; awards grants; and studies environmental issues, among other things. GAO has conducted reviews focused on various aspects of EPA’s programs and operations. Through this work, GAO has made numerous recommendations to improve EPA’s performance and the efficiency and effectiveness of its programs and operations.

GAO continuously engages with executive branch agencies to ensure its recommendations are implemented. For example, GAO regularly follows up with agencies on its recommendations and posts their status online. Also, in 2015, GAO sent letters to the heads of key executive branch agencies, including EPA, identifying unimplemented recommendations that warrant priority attention.

This statement discusses (1) the status of EPA’s implementation of GAO recommendations for fiscal years 2006 through 2015 and how these recommendations relate to EPA programs and operations and (2) benefits realized by EPA based on GAO’s work, including through implementing GAO’s recommendations. It is based on GAO’s prior work from October 2005 through September 2015 and an analysis of recommendations GAO made to EPA during this period from data maintained in an internal database used to track the status of GAO recommendations.

Hard-Pressed Rust Belt Cities Go Green to Aid Urban Revival

Read the full story in Yale e360.

Gary, Indiana is joining Detroit and other fading U.S. industrial centers in an effort to turn abandoned neighborhoods and factory sites into gardens, parks, and forests. In addition to the environmental benefits, these greening initiatives may help catalyze an economic recovery.