Category: Case studies

Community science keeps pollution in check for the Hudson River

Read the full story at Shareable.

Here’s the problem: Beginning at Lake Tear of the Clouds, the Hudson River cascades and winds its way through a beautiful valley for 315 miles, running alongside New York City in its last stretch before joining the Atlantic Ocean. The Hudson Valley has long been a muse for artists, a popular retreat for city dwellers, and a sanctuary for its residents, while its southern neighbor —New York City— continues to be a bustling metropolis.

However, the popularity of this region surrounding the Hudson has heightened the need to monitor the quality of its water and combat contamination flowing through increasingly overtaxed sewage systems. Although the passage of the NYS Pure Waters Bond Act and Clean Water Act —and most recently the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017— have helped protect the River’s water, a lack of investment in maintenance and upgrades to sewer systems threaten the health of the river, its watershed, and the people who use it.

A Framework for Local Action on Climate Change

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While climate change affects us all, it hits families living paycheck to paycheck the hardest. In a world of growing inequities, it is not mere coincidence that the poorest among us not only live and work in areas most prone to flooding, heat waves, and other climate change effects but are also least resourced to prepare adequately for and withstand those impacts. Fortunately, city officials and community leaders across the country are taking steps to improve climate change resilience, along with addressing associated economic, racial, and social equity issues. Progress is most notable in the following cities, each of which is featured in this report: Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Berkeley, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; New Bedford, Massachusetts; New York City, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington, D.C.

Along with those examples, this report offers recommendations for mayors on designing and implementing strategies to build just and resilient cities and to create new economic opportunities for many of the people left behind by recent economic booms. The report findings reveal that climate change policies and preparedness strategies are most effective, and draw the most support from residents and community groups, if they are designed through inclusive processes and address the intersecting problems of racial, income, and environmental inequalities. In addition, climate solutions are the most successful when city leaders partner with community groups to set priorities and shape those solutions. By embracing strategies that support pathways to a just economy while reducing extreme weather, flooding, and other climate change risks, city officials can expand access to living wages and safe jobs, quality schools and affordable housing, and safe and sustainable neighborhoods.

52 Profiles on Agroecology: Main Street Project

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For more than a decade, Main Street Project has been working to create new possibilities for the growing numbers of rural Latino immigrants stranded in low-wage farming and food industry jobs with no benefits and no future. We tried developing training programs for specialized and advanced skills which, in theory, could help these workers leverage new job opportunities and increase their incomes. In practice, however, we discovered that our “modern” industrial food system was built largely on a foundation of low-wage labour, public subsidy and externalized environmental costs, and no amount of training was going to fundamentally change that. We didn’t just need a new approach, we needed a new system.

Anticipating and Preventing the Spread of Invasive Plants

Read the full case study in the Climate Resilience Toolkit.

Joshua Smith serves as Restoration Program Manager for the non-profit Watershed Research and Training Center. The Center is based in the once-booming timber town of Hayfork, California, and Smith coordinates many wildland stewardship efforts across the Klamath region. One of the biggest challenges he faces in his work is preventing the spread of invasive plants. “It’s one of the top ways we can protect the health of our forests and rivers,” says Smith.

In light of climate change, Smith recognizes that controlling invasive species is more important than ever. As conditions shift and seed-carrying wildlife move along corridors that link key habitat areas, aggressive invasive plants may become established in new areas first—keeping native plants from gaining footholds in newly suitable locations. Smith promotes addressing the existing threat of invasive species as an immediate no-regrets action people can take to support the resiliency of wildland ecosystems.

Better Soil, Better Climate

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The soil health management system an Ohio farmer practices increases crop productivity, reduces costs for fertilizer and pesticides, and sequesters carbon in the soil. Both locally and globally, he encourages other farmers to adopt his methods.

Precise Soil, Climate, and Weather Data Help Dairy Optimize Water Use

Read the full story in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

For irrigated crops, knowing when and how much water to apply has long been a matter of experience and guesswork. In a changing climate, new technology can reduce this uncertainty, enabling farmers to make every drop of water count.

Case Study: Bakery Implements Dry Ice Cleaning

Read the full story in Food Manufacturing.

A Texas bakery was seeking a solution to its cleaning problem. It previously was utilizing the traditional cleaning method of pressure washing and manual hand-washing. But those methods proved laborious and time-consuming, and produced too many negative side effects, including secondary wastewater. The bakery decided to implement a dry ice cleaning system into its plant, and the new system dramatically reduced the amount of people and time required to clean the equipment by hand. The bakery was able to recoup 24-30 hours per person, which can now be allocated to other cleaning and maintenance projects.

Webinar: The Power of Chemical Footprinting

June 6, 2017, 10am CDT
Register at https://www.chemicalfootprint.org/news/event/the-power-of-chemical-footprinting

Explore the value of calculating the chemical footprint for your company by hearing how one company took this on for the first time, from the Pure Strategies’ report, The Power of Chemical Footprinting.

Radio Flyer identified this is an improvement opportunity after taking the Chemical Footprint Project survey last year and the idea of measuring chemicals of concern resonated with the company’s approach and provided a common and easily understood metric to track progress in chemicals management.

Radio Flyer will share their experience and, along with their research partner, Pure Strategies, will provide tips and insight on how to get the most value and progress from this effort and the Chemical Footprint Project, to drive toward safer materials.

See also the Pure Strategies report on Radio Flyer’s transition to greater chemical transparency and safer products and supply chains. Free registration is required for download.

2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award Winner: Marathon Petroleum Corporation — Illinois Refining Division

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Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) has extensive refining, marketing, and transportation operations concentrated primarily in the Midwest, Northeast, East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Southeast regions of the United States. MPC is the third-largest refiner in the U.S. and the largest in the Midwest. The Robinson refinery, also known as the Illinois Refining Division (IRD), is located in Robinson, Illinois, has a crude oil refining capacity of approximately 231,000 barrels per calendar day and encompasses approximately 920 acres.

MPC improved the environmental impact of their operations by:

  • reducing solid waste by 2,038 tons;
  • conserving 3,000,000 gallons of water;
  • diverting 393 tons household hazardous waste from landfills;
  • eliminating 18,972 metric tons of carbon dioxide; and
  • restoring 247 acres of certified wildlife habitat.

Two new fact sheets from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

ISTC Case Study: Sustainability Certification Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP): GFX International
GFX Printing, located in Grayslake, IL, produces large format graphics printed on a variety of media. GFX earned initial SGP certification in 2010 and was re-certified in 2012 and 2014. Since attaining their certification, GFX has reduced waste to landfill by setting reduction goals and evaluating waste streams for further reduction and recycling. They also reduced emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), hazardous air pollutants (HAP), and carbon dioxide. From 2008-2013, they reduced their landfill waste by 42%, hazardous waste by 32.7%, VOC emissions by 35%, and HAP emissions by 100%.

Save 50% Energy by Replacing Linear Fluorescent Lamps with LED Lamps
Lighting is a crucial component of the manufacturing process. It impacts worker productivity, product quality, and facility appearance. Lighting also comprises a significant portion of a facility’s energy costs and is frequently overlooked by maintenance and purchasing personnel. Old lamps are often replaces with new identical lamps without consideration being given to energy efficiency or cost. Today, LED (light emitting diode) technology is changing that practice. Burgeoning LED products offer a variety of energy-efficient alternatives for industrial applications. ISTC has identified a simple, quick-fix solution to a very common scenario of upgrading linear fluorescent lighting.

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