Webinar – Guide for Brewers: Energy and Environment Project Implementation

Apr 7, 2021, 10 am CDT
Register here.

Prior to the pandemic, the craft brewing industry contributed nearly $83 billion to the US economy and supported more than 580,000 jobs. During this time, Pennsylvania ranked 5th in the number of craft breweries in the United States, and 2nd in economic impacts by state.

Join PennTAP on National Beer Day for a webinar on how a craft brewer and small business owner can recover money and reduce operation costs through energy efficiency projects and best practices. The speakers will be sharing project ideas and resources uncovered while working in the field, which have reduced energy consumption, expanded production, and minimized waste and emissions. Also joining the webinar will be guest speaker Matteo Rachocki, CEO of Voodoo Brewery, who will share his experiences and lessons learned.

Webinar: Sustainable Solutions for Craft Beverage Producers: Energy Treasure Hunt for Microbreweries

Apr 27, 2021, noon CDT
Register here.

Join EPA’s Region 1 Pollution Prevention Program, EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Program & the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ Pollution Prevention Program for a free three-part webinar series on Sustainable Solutions for Craft Beverage Producers.

The first webinar will feature Energy Treasure Hunts for Microbreweries. Danny Macri and Emily Bolger from ENERGY STAR will give an Overview of the Energy Treasure Hunt Process and provide insights into using the ENERGY STAR Treasure Map for Microbreweries which is an opportunity for brewers to uncover opportunities to save.

Scott Lawson, Director of Brewing Operations at Lawson’s Finest, will then demonstrate How to Conduct an Energy Treasure Hunt in a Brewery and show how to maximize efforts in reducing energy costs. Energy costs can be 5-10% of cost of goods sold in breweries. As the brewing industry continues to grow, start questioning why things are the way they are and how to reduce the bottom line.

Upcoming Sustainable Solutions for Craft Beverage Producers Webinars

  • Innovative Solutions: Solar Hot Water and CO2 Recovery Systems – May
  • How to Cultivate a Culture of Sustainability at Your Facility – June

Webinar: Greening Your Bottom Line–Reduce Operating Costs in Food and Beverage Businesses

Apr 16, 2021, noon CDT
Register here.

In this interactive webinar, UMass Lowell, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production will explore the following questions and challenges during this time of COVID-19.

  • How can we more efficiently and effectively use cleaning and disinfecting products?
  • How can we reduce our energy and water use and costs while maintaining food product safety?
  • How can we generate less waste and/or better manage our waste?
  • What are other businesses doing and what results have they seen?
  • What resources are available to explore opportunities to improve business operations and processes?


  • Madeline Snow, Project Manager, UMass Lowell, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production

Iowa legislators consider land banks to address blighted properties

Read the full story at The Center Square.

Iowa communities would be able to use a new redevelopment tool – land banks – to revitalize abandoned or dilapidated real estate if a bill in the House of Representatives passes.

The House Ways and Means Committee discussed SF 100 on March 18.

Under the bill any municipality could create a land bank and appoint a board of directors possessing the ability to hire staff. The public would be able to review the inventory of land the bank manages and maintains. A land bank would bring together public sector and private sector citizens to find ways to repurpose and redevelop properties “without a lot of upfront economic value,” Norris said.

How to make sure Biden’s infrastructure plan can hold up to climate change – and save money

In the Netherlands, some flood control systems are designed to adapt to future climate change. Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

by Jeremy Bricker (University of Michigan)

The Biden administration is proposing a massive infrastructure plan to replace the nation’s crumbling bridges, roads and other critical structures. But to make those investments pay off, the U.S. will need designs that can endure the changing climate.

Most U.S. infrastructure is designed to stand for decades, including through what engineers expect to be rare storms and floods.

However, extreme storms that were considered rare a few decades years ago are already becoming more common. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was the Houston area’s third “500-year flood” in three years, and it was followed by two more major flooding events.

Building infrastructure today that will be strong enough to manage the extreme scenarios the nation might see a century from now can be expensive. But what if infrastructure were instead designed to meet shorter-term needs and also be easily adapted later for the future climate?

I’m a hydraulic and coastal engineer who has been working on infrastructure design in the Netherlands, where dams and storm surge barriers are being designed to be adaptable. The methods there hold lessons for the U.S. as it prepares for a wave of new construction.

The problem with building for 100-year floods

Bridges in the U.S. are typically designed to allow the unimpeded passage of floods that have a 1-in-100 chance of happening each year. Similarly, a dam spillway might be built to handle a 10,000-year flood, and stormwater drains for two-year rainfall events.

These “return periods” are traditionally calculated using a method based on historical statistics that assume the climate doesn’t change much.

Water is released from the dam
During Hurricane Harvey’s extreme rainfall, water was released from Houston’s Barker Reservoir to protect its dam and upstream neighborhoods. Downstream neighborhoods flooded as a result. Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a warming climate with more extreme rainfall, worsening droughts and rising sea levels, these historical statistics can underestimate the intensity of future floods. That puts critical infrastructure, homes and lives in danger.

Putting adaptive design to work

The Dutch are masters of flood control. When about a third of a country sits below sea level, it becomes a necessity. U.S. engineers have been turning to them for advice in recent years as understanding of climate change and its impact on storms and sea level rise increases.

The Netherlands’ innovative designs, like the giant gates of the Maeslant flood defense, are getting noticed, but equally important is how the Dutch use adaptive designs to prepare for the future and keep costs under control.

The Maeslantkering protects The Hague, Rotterdam and other cities from high tides from the North Sea.

To see adaptive design at work, look at the renovation underway of the Afsluitdijk, a 20-mile-long dam that protects Amsterdam’s port from storm surges on the North Sea.

When the dam was completed in 1932, it drained river water to the sea by gravity at low tide. However, sea level rise, combined with the need to keep the water level in Amsterdam’s port low to protect the city, are making drainage by gravity alone increasingly ineffective.

To update the dam, the Dutch have built pump stations for draining water into the North Sea. Importantly, the new design reserves enough land to expand the existing pump stations or build new ones when future storms and sea level rise make it necessary.

Aerial view of the dam
The sluice gates in the center of the image allow water to pass through the Afsluitdijk between the IJsselmeer and the North Sea. The lock to the left of the sluice gates raises and lowers boats. Marcus van Leeuwen/Flickr, CC BY-SA

Lessons as the U.S. plans new coastal protections

Several U.S. cities, including Houston, New York and Boston, are now considering hurricane defense systems, and the future protection they will actually need to prevent flooding is unknown at this point.

By using adaptive design, they could include room for expanding those defenses as the climate changes.

That might mean building earthen dams and levees wide enough to allow for raising them when necessary, and reserving land for widening and heightening of coastal dunes that form part of the system and for adding pump infrastructure.

Crucially, movable storm surge barriers, which typically make up a short section of a barrier system, offer protection only from sporadic hurricanes and not from long-term sea level rise. The movable barriers may eventually need to be replaced with a dam, shipping lock and drainage pumps – that, too, can be planned for.

Map of South Boston showing flood risk
This map of Boston shows future flood risks if no protective measures are taken. City of Boston

By starting with an adaptive design, the U.S. can save billions of dollars compared with having to build new systems decades down the road. The recent renovations of California’s Folsom Dam, built in 1955, illustrate that cost. A new spillway completed in 2018 cost $900 million – with inflation, that’s about the original cost of the entire dam.

Adapting for Mississippi River flooding

When Dutch engineers plan new levees, storm surge barriers and river locks, they consider what are known as the Delta Scenarios – four possible futures for flood risk and sea level rise, ranging from moderate to extreme global warming. These scenarios create a framework for adaptive design.

For example, a complex of locks on the Meuse River, used to raise and lower ships and barges as they travel up- or downstream, needs to be replaced or rehabilitated. A new lock complex must have enough sluice gates, which can be closed or opened to allow high water through after storms, so the water doesn’t flood surrounding farms and cities. The accompanying weir – the low dam that raises the river’s level – must be high enough to retain enough water for ship operations during times of drought.

Building a tall weir with many sluice gates, and raising riverbank levees to match, would allow the lock complex to manage future climate scenarios, but that would be expensive. With adaptive design, the complex can instead be built to be easily modified later to meet changing climate needs. That includes reserving space for additional sluice gates, and designing gates that can be made taller by welding on additional components as needed.

On the Mississippi River and its tributaries, many of the old lock complexes that raise and lower the barges carrying agricultural products and industrial materials are now undergoing replacement. Using similar adaptive design techniques would be a cost-efficient way to face an uncertain future.

Jeremy Bricker, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Webinar: The Human Side of Sustainability

April 20, 2021, noon-1 pm CDT
Register here.

Loyola University Chicago, in partnership with its Quinlan School of Business and School of Environmental Sustainability, presents a discussion of the impact of sustainability on people and communities, and the measures business can take. Speakers from supply chain, workforce development, and food insecurity will discuss training the workforce of tomorrow and the role of business in addressing sustainability opportunities in their communities.


  • Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group


  • Çerağ Pinçe, Assistant Professor, Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago
  • Kevin Stevens, Dean, Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago
  • John Caltagirone, Educator & Advisor, Supply & Value Chain Strategy, Quinlan School of Business, Loyola University Chicago
  • Kim Peterson, Director, Environmental & Sustainability Development, Morton Salt

Funding Campus Sustainability through a Green Fee—Estimating Students’ Willingness to Pay

González-Ramírez J, Cheng H, Arral S. (2021). “Funding Campus Sustainability through a Green Fee—Estimating Students’ Willingness to Pay.” Sustainability. 13(5), 2528. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052528

Abstract: Many higher education institutions promote sustainability by instilling environmental awareness within college students, the innovators of the future. As higher education institutions face budgetary constraints to achieve greener campuses, green fees have emerged as an alternative method for universities to encourage student participation and overall campus sustainability. A green fee is a mandatory student fee that funds sustainability projects on campus and is typically managed by a group of students and faculty. We are the first to assess students’ support for a mandatory green using a single dichotomous choice, contingent valuation question and estimating the willingness to pay to fund campus sustainability using a discrete choice model. Using results from a survey at a private college in New York City, we found more support for $5 and $10 green fee values. Using both parametric and non-parametric estimation methods, we found that mean and median willingness-to-pay values were between $13 and $15 and between $10 and $18, respectively. We suggest implementing a green fee between $10 and $13 following the lower values of the non-parametric median willingness to pay (WTP) range estimates that do not rely on distributional assumptions. We hope that other academic institutions follow our research steps to assess the support for a green fee and to suggest a green fee value for their institutions

Carnation dairy facility first to achieve Alliance for Water Stewardship certification in US

Read the full story at Dairy Reporter.

Nestlé USA has announced its Carnation facility in Modesto, California is the first dairy-processing facility in the US to earn certification under the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standard.

Using urban forestry to fight for environmental justice

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Trees — and urban trees in particular — provide enormous benefits. For starters, they’re responsible for producing oxygen and removing CO2 and other pollutants from the air. Urban forests in the U.S. remove an estimated 75,000 tons of air pollution per year. They reduce the impact of falling rain and encourage that water to soak into the ground, reducing flooding and erosion as well as preventing pollution from entering waterways. And the shade they provide isn’t just good for picnics; trees absorb heat and release water vapor that cools the surrounding air. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that trees reduce the energy consumption needed to cool homes in the U.S. by more than 7 percent.

To find out just how much one tree can do, you can even estimate the value of the benefits of a specific tree near you using a calculator developed by a collaboration of tree experts and nonprofits.

The trouble is that these benefits are not equitably distributed. “Nationally, there’s a trend for trees to follow wealth,” said Leslie Berckes, director of programs for Trees Forever, a nonprofit environmental group that works with communities across Iowa and Illinois to plant and care for trees. She said wealthier communities tend to have more trees for a variety of reasons, including racist housing practices. “Redlining left a lot of scars on communities, one of those being less green space, less tree cover,” Berckes said.

Lego bricks are terrible for the environment. These wooden alternatives biodegrade

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Japanese company Mokulock has created toy blocks that have a familiar shape but an entirely new ethos. Similar to Legos, they’re small and rectangular, with eight small cylinders on top of each block so they can easily interlock with others. But rather than the kaleidoscopic colors that Lego is famous for, these bricks come in just a few earthy shades.