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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

Greening the Holidays Starts...Now!

November 26, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.  One of the coolest ideas to come along for the holiday season (and a good excuse to stay home from crazy shopping this Friday) is Small Business Saturday on November 29.  American Express gets a lot of credit for initiating it in 2010 to encourage people to patronize their locally owned and operated small businesses.  It has grown into a movement and each year, has grown, well, bigger!
Check out the site for links to businesses in your area and look for signs and ads promoting the opportunity to spend some “green” in your neighborhood.  This past week, an article in USA Today by Rhonda Abrams offers ten reasons to support shopping local.  One reason is that of $100 spent in a local business, $68 stays in the local community supporting schools, police, roads, jobs, and other improvements.  Contrast that with a big box branch store at $43 and virtually no dollars added to the tax base from shopping online, which incurs shipping miles and added energy expended.  And according to Sustainable Connections, “Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.”
It’s that time of year again, when GreenWorksGov gives you an early Christmas present—your guide to green holiday shopping.  This year, we’re linking you to some of our favorite sources for gift ideas and eco-friendly shopping tips and a couple new ones. 
As in past years, we really like Greenopia.  This link takes you to Greenopia Los Angeles, but just scroll down to the bottom and click on a city or the “all cities” link and you’re bound to find USA and Canada shopping options in a town near you.  You’ll discover links and info about green electronics, clothing and jewelry, food and beverages, toys, bath and beauty, home and garden, vehicles, and more. 
Green America’s Responsible Shopper’s Guide is another super resource with listings for dozens of products and categories.  Green America also has a list this year of Ten Ways to Green Your Holidays.
Updated this year is a Green Electronics Shopping guide completed by the Alliance to Save Energy for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Noah Horowitz’s NRDC blog, Switchboard, publishes the guide. The article points out three things we all can do to enjoy our new electronic gifts and conserve energy, too.  First, buy energy efficient (EPEAT or Energy Star ™ rated) electronics, set them to turn off or use the minimum amount of power when not in use, and recycle old and broken electronics responsibly.  The NRDC has a variety of shopper’s guides to products, such as food storage containers, poultry, bathroom tissue, laptops and TVs.
A continuing recommendation from 2013 is Greenopia’s Research Director Doug Mazeffa’s book, “Learning to Shop Sustainably: The Consumer Guide to Environmental Impact Assessment and the Green Marketplace.”
Please share these ideas with your employees in your office newsletters and Intranets.  GreenWorksGov wishes all its readers around the world a peaceful, and joyous Christmas and holiday season. 
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Partners in Sustainability--Just a Click Away

October 29, 2014
Last week, GWG explored some recent news and developments in the environmental world that can be applied by a green team to help raise awareness of a need, add documented justification to support a proposal, or incorporated into an existing project to boost its environmental impact and/or benefit to the bottom line.  This week, we explore what some leading groups and institutions are doing and the resources available from their websites that are accessible to all of us.  Lucky, indeed, are those entities and the public agencies and private sector operations located in proximity to each other that they can actively collaborate on projects of mutual interest and benefit. 
Our first stop on our swing through the continental U.S. takes us to Michigan where the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has dedicated twenty years “to promote business practices that demonstrate environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and social responsibility.” It’s a diverse group of large industries to small businesses who learn, exchange information, and progress together on the path to sustainability.  Earlier this month, the Forum held a conference on Climate Resiliency to facilitate an understanding of the vulnerabilities in that region in the event of severe weather and other climate events and presented an initiative to build a framework for how businesses and organizations in West Michigan can start to improve their resilience.  The program was a joint venture with Michigan State University and the Rand Corporation, among others.  The principles and goals set forth in the initiative are generally applicable and progress on this initiative bears watching. 
Next, we stop at the League of Cities in Kentucky which is playing a lead role in theKentucky Sustainability Institute, a partnership between the NewCities Institute, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet- Division of Compliance Assistance, to promote the “greening” of the Bluegrass State through education and resources.  The Institute has published a tool kit that is loaded with information, suggested steps, and examples from across the U.S. to help offices establish sustainability policies and programs.  This is a great resource and aid to any green team seeking ideas about what to include and consider for their organization.
Our last stop this week takes us to North Carolina State University, which has a robust campus sustainability program to ignite any program.  Also, NC State is but one of hundreds of universities and colleges across the US and around the world that are excellent resources to their communities and are often engaged in research and programs involving regional and national sustainability efforts.  NC State’s “Change Your State” web page offers numerous suggestions to encourage students to adopt practices and habits that are pro-environment.  Green teams can apply these in their own organizations, too.  GWG has often written about the value of educational institutions and potential opportunities for office green teams to participate in events and activities that benefit both the work environment and the larger community. 

The message this week—we share the earth and its resources together.  And only by helping each other and working together will we solve the challenges we face. 

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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Knowing Your Environment

October 22, 2014
There are at least two reasons why green teams and sustainability officers should follow the news, local, state, national and global—about climate change and environmental issues.  The first is because information is power and knowledge can be applied to demonstrating the impact of practical actions on lowering both the bottom line and the office’s carbon footprint.
The second reason is that issues, events, and political or governmental action will affect us all, directly or indirectly, and it is increasingly important to be prepared to adapt, to be resilient, and ideally to be in a position to be a productive partner on solutions to the challenges we face together at work, at home, in our communities and beyond our borders.
Ideally, every member of a green team will stay abreast of news and developments on the green front.  But as a practical matter, there is so much information to be had that it’s impossible for any one person to know it all.  Consider divvying up the info gathering among your team members by topic or area.
There’s a wealth of online news sources and you can find a good start under GWG’s Resources tab.  Here are a couple examples from my info download this past week—EcoWatch posted a news report on a movement in Florida to split the state in two because proponents in the south of the state, namely the mayor and city council of South Miami, believe there has been insufficient action from the power base in the north to address rising sea levels and flooding. This is a tip off to businesses and agencies in low-lying coastal areas to ask themselves how prepared they are for unanticipated power outages, flooding, and weather events that could interrupt the conduct of operations.  GWG has written in the past on the topic of resiliency and the value that informed green teams can provide to emergency planners and facilities managers.
Along those lines, the EPA this week released an abstract on the connection between sustainability and resilience.  The summary, by co-author Alan Hecht, highlights the new thinking and actions underway by leaders in government, educational institutions, business and industry that are redefining the “resilience” of a community or an enterprise from simply bouncing back to “the capacity for a system to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change and uncertainty.”  Click here to read the full report published in “Solutions”, an online journal.

Next week’s column will highlight examples of sustainability leaders, projects, and opportunities that will inspire your office green team and are valuable resources for ideas and information.  In many instances, there are local environmental groups, institutions, and community organizations that welcome collaborative partnerships and participation in volunteer projects.  So even if your office green program is but a fledgling enterprise, newsletters and bulletin boards can inform interested and supportive employees about the numerous ways they can become involved in advancing sustainability goals. 

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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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Pollution Prevention, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

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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