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This category covers a broad range of aspects including transportation alternatives, parking, telecommuting, travel, green lodging, conference planning, indoor air quality, hybrids, office plants.
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Sustainability Ranks High for Atlanta's Historically Black Colleges and Universities

September 17, 2014
GreenWorksGov welcomes guest author Devin Hunter, an undergraduate student at Cal Poly Pomona.  Devin works as a student assistant for the Conference of Western Attorneys General and has helped conduct research for GWG and authored a previous guest blog about sustainable gardening. 
Earlier this month, GreenWorksGov reported on the greenest colleges according to Sierra magazine’s 2014 ranking. This week we are revisiting this opportunity to learn what our leading schools are doing that can inspire green teams at work and serve as a resource to them. Many of the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are taking part in the green initiative by designing and developing their own projects to help impact their schools. With projects ranging from designing buildings to becoming more energy sufficient to creating a number of sustainable food and recycling initiatives on campus, these colleges are really taking the lead on making our universities greener. 
The women at Spelman College in Atlanta, are among the front runners in their effort to achieve a green campus. In 2009, the University president Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum issued a statement saying, “Understanding our own environmental impact and seeking to reduce it is a choice that all of us can make every day.” As time has shown, the school has expanded and applied its creativity and ideals on their campus. The Laura Spelman building, which was built in 1918, is one of the school’s oldest structures on campus spanning 19,700 square feet and reaching three stories high. The school managed to transform the oldest building on campus into a LEED Gold energy-efficient green building thanks to many donations from esteemed alumnae, generous donors and sponsors. This initiative sparked many other projects on Spelman’s campus and has brought the school to the top of the green initiative for green campuses. In 2013, Spelman received the Tree Campus USA recognition which honored the school for “promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in spirit of conservation.” Truly an award fitting of their efforts and one that other schools should try emulate. 
There must be something in the water that makes schools in Atlanta, Georgia want to do their part to become a green campus. On April 22, 2014, the “Atlanta Voice” reviewed a survey taken by the Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University that revealed that most HBCU’s are leading in energy efficiency on their campuses and are making the green initiative a strong component of campus policies and student life. Once more, these schools are recognized for their efforts to make and keep their campuses more energy efficient and is a vision that should be shared with all of our country’s colleges and universities. 
Read more here.
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Single-use Plastic Bags in California--going...going...gone.

September 10, 2014
The big environmental news in California at the end of August (apart from the drought), came out of the Legislature with the passage of SB 270, a bill that bans single-use plastic bags.  When signed by the Governor, and it’s expected to be, California will be the first state in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags.  The effective start of the ban is July 2015 and it phases in over time to allow businesses to transition.  124 cities and counties with ordinances in effect prior to September 2014 are protected under a grandfathering clause. 
Sufficient support to pass this bill took years to build.  Opposed by the plastics industry and the American Progress Bag Alliance, the opponents argued that the bill would not reap the purported environmental benefits, would cost jobs, and would result in a windfall for grocery and convenience stores because of the new 10 cent per bag fee imposed on customers who do not bring sufficient bags with them to hold their purchases.
The bill’s authors, conversely, argued that, “California uses an estimated 14 billion single-use plastic bags a year. According to CalRecycle, less than five percent of single-use plastic bags are recycled. Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers costing California more than an estimated $25 million each year to collect and bury the plastic bag waste. By banning plastic bags on a statewide level, the amount of litter and plastic marine debris caused by plastic bags can be significantly reduced.”
“Plastic bags and plastic film together represent 2.2% of the waste stream, and every year California taxpayers spend $25 million disposing of the 19 billion plastic bags used annually. Although plastic represents a relatively small fraction of the overall waste stream in California, plastic waste is the predominate form of marine debris. Plastics are estimated to compose 60-80% of all marine debris and 90% of all floating debris."
Supporters of SB 270 include Californians Against Waste, the California Coastal Coalition, the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, the county of Santa Clara, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others.

Assuming the Governor signs the bill, California joins a growing list of countries that have adopted plastic bag bans or impose a levy on their use, such as Ireland, Bangladesh, China, and Rwanda, with many countries actively debating proposals. We’ll follow the implementation in California and efforts in other states and nations to institute similar provisions. 

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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Score a Touchdown With This Green Strategy

September 3, 2014
Earlier this year, GWG kicked off a series on the greening of professional sports.  In that column of April 16, 2014, we urged green teams to leverage our “near-universal fondness for one sport or another and generate more support for sustainability by taking every opportunity to publicize the greening of sports. If sustainable habits and practices are taking hold in our beloved sport, it’s a smart strategy to play this up with employees who might be more easily persuaded to be an active fan of green when “everybody’s doing it”, especially their favorite sport or team.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) serves as an official advisor to many leagues which have made a commitment to environmental action across their sport.  Virtually every major sport has teamed up with the NRDC to reduce their environmental impact—MLB,  NBA, NHL, USTA, NFL, MLS, NLL, and the NCAAA. NASCAR is the latest to sign on. We wrote about what the NBA and MLB are doing in basketball and baseball.  And just this past summer, we wrote about the World Cup and even had a journalist on the ground to report on how well FIFA lived up to its promise to host the greenest Cup ever.  With football kicking off, it’s time to check out the National Football League (NFL).
The NFL is working with the NRDC to review its environmental practices and collect information to track how the league teams are doing to conserve energy, improve recycling, manage waste, limit paper consumption, and conserve water.  The Philadelphia Eagles is one of the first teams to take sweeping action to become more environmentally responsible.  Electricity consumption at the team’s stadium has been cut in half since 2004 and the team is well on its way to fully powering the stadium with solar panels, wind turbines, and a generator using gas and bio-diesel.  Low-flow restroom facilities have cut water use in half. A third of game-day waste is diverted from landfills to recycling, composting, and food donation.  These and other efforts have saved the Eagles more than $3 million since 2005.
The Super Bowl is no exception.  The Super Bowl environmental program has five main initiatives: solid waste management, material reuse, food recovery, sports equipment and book donations, and greenhouse gas reduction.  One example--The NFL uses renewable energy credits (REC) to offset all energy used major Super Bowl venues. As part of the NFL's reforestation efforts, several thousand tree seedlings are planted each year in the Super Bowl host community. Through an innovative partnership with US Forest Service/USDA, the NFL tracks annually the environmental benefits of the trees it has planted.
Kick off your green season this fall with the NFL.  As the NRDC likes to say, “No matter what jersey your favorite team wears, there's one color that every sports fan can root for: green.”
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

The Coolest Schools and How Green Teams Can Benefit

August 20, 2014
For eight years, “Sierra”, the magazine of the Sierra Club, has published annual rankings of the greenest colleges and universities in the US.  The 2014 list is out.  Congratulations to the Top Ten coolest schools and to all 173 who participated in the extensive survey and evaluation.  GreenWorksGov has penned several columns inviting green teams to take advantage of the academic resources available in your communities to network with the environmental departments in local colleges and to learn about the terrific projects students have engaged in to green their campuses.  This is an opportune occasion to spotlight what is working and trending around the country. 
Here is just a smattering of what the Top Ten have accomplished:  Number One this year, the University of California at Irvine met its 20% energy reduction goal seven years early by installing a cogeneration facility and solar panels.  Its water recycling program saves over 200 million gallons a year.  At Dickinson College in Carlise, Pennsylvania students grow produce served in the cafeteria and the school builds to LEED Gold standards and harnesses rain run-off.  The University of Connecticut, last year’s Number One, earns kudos for its major water conservation efforts and an Environmental Literacy Workgroup that develops new classes, hosts forums, and fosters green careers. The Arbor Day Foundation named it a Tree Campus USA. The University of South Florida is all about energy, boasting the largest solar charging station for electric vehicles in the US and programs where students research fuel cell and solar technologies and work on developing smart grids.  Loyola University of Chicago students tend to a hundred acres of wilderness, the school offers five environmental degrees, hosts the largest geothermal facility in Chicago, and scores big points for its recycling and composting programs.
In addition to the wealth of information available from community colleges and universities, and good fortune for those working near any of those which qualified for Sierra’s rankings, green teams and administrative support units seeking student interns and part-timers to help implement sustainable business practices or raise awareness and interest in environmental issues need look no farther than to an environmental studies department or eco-student group.  And studies and surveys show that college graduates enter the workforce with an understanding of environmental issues and solutions and an expectation that their employer shares environmental protection values as well.  The signs are clear that employers who have incorporated those principles into their business practices have an edge in recruitment and retention of this new workforce. GWG wrote previously about this compelling trend.
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

What the Biggest Energy User in the US is Doing About It

August 6, 2014
In 2010, the combined Department of Defense (DoD) consumed 5 billion gallons of fuel and in 2013 spent $91 billion on fuel and electricity for the armed forces.  DoD is the nation’s largest single user of energy.  If you think about it, we taxpayers have a strong vested interest in what the Defense department does to conserve energy and reduce expenditures, apart from the primary mission of the military.  Actually, it isn’t apart from the mission at all.  DoD rightly considers energy as a mission-essential resource. 
In an earlier column, GreenWorksGov kicked off this series on DoD and energy strategies and provided some examples of how innovations in equipment are lightening the load and lighting the way. In April, DoD issued a sweeping “Energy Policy” that embodied basic principles in practice, but the directive provides a common framework to guide the DoD into the future.  The key strategies are to reduce the demand for energy, to expand and secure the supply of energy, and to build energy security into the future force.
Here’s what the Directive states:   “It is DoD policy to enhance military capability, improve energy security, and mitigate costs in its use and management of energy. To these ends, DoD will:
  • Improve energy performance of our weapons, installations, and military forces;
  • Diversify and expand energy supplies and sources, including renewable energy sources and alternative fuels;
  • Adapt core business processes – including requirements, acquisition, planning, programming, budgeting, and execution – to improve the DoD’s use and management of energy;
  • Analyze and mitigate risks related to our energy use; and
  • Promote innovation for our equipment as well as education and training for our personnel, valuing energy as a mission-essential resource.”
Improving energy performance includes installations, such as the Washington Navy Yard’s Visitor Center, which is a certified “net-zero” building.  Net-zero means the building produces as much or more energy than it consumes on an annual bases.  The visitor center energy innovations include the use of geothermal and micro-wind turbines, along with LED lighting and cellulose insulation.  Read more here about what the Naval District Washington (NDW) is doing to reduce energy consumption and expand the use of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources.
DoD intends that by implementing strategic energy policies it will achieve an improved military force and capacity while meeting 21st century energy challenges and national goals.  Green teams can take a lesson from DoD’s focus and alignment of objectives to its goals.  Top level support, clearly stated goals and measurable objectives, and visible efforts are crucial ingredients for success.

Stick with us, GWG will reconnoiter with the DoD in the near future again. 

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