May, 2018 – Volume 11, Issue 5
The state of Tennessee’s circular economy
Blockchain and energy efficiency
Ecosia search engine and Trees for the Future announce partnership to plant trees
Smithfield Foods improves its brand with a robust sustainability program
ESRC: Enhancing business operations through sustainability recorded webinars
GreenBiz: What will happen to solar panels after their useful lives are over?
A Practical Look at Green Buildings for Contractors
The Indiana Recycling Coalition’s 2018 Annual Conference and Trade Show
EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager Training Series @ Spalding University
Resources for Future Generations Conference
2018 KY EXCEL Open House
Sustainable Materials Management: A Compliment or a Barrier to Recycling?
ENERGY STAR webinars
Sustainable Spirits Summit fosters increased white oak growth
By Staff of the Division of Compliance Assistance.
Each year, the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Compliance Assistance (DCA) partners with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to host an event that allows industry members to discuss issues and share their efforts of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
“Last year’s (Sustainable Spirits) summit was the largest to date with over 60 people attending,” said Robyn Whitted, the KY EXCEL program coordinator and pollution prevention specialist who plans the event each year. “It provides a round table for discussion of ideas and what specific distilleries and breweries are doing that others may not be.”
The Angel’s Envy distillery introduced an idea at the 2017 summit from their social media campaign that is not only good publicity for their distillery, but also benefits the environment.
“They are doing this really neat idea called “Toast the Trees” that really got the other distillers excited,” said Whitted. “For every picture or post on social media referencing their product during September, Angel’s Envy plants one white oak tree.”
According to their website, Angel’s Envy distillery has planted 24,032 white oak trees since 2014 due to their social media plan. The trees are planted by employees through a partnership with Green Forests Works and the Arbor Day Foundation. The team is steadily working to reclaim land previously given over to strip mining in Kentucky through innovative thinking that tackled both marketing and a heavy issue for the bourbon industry.
Currently, about 6.6 million barrels of bourbon are aging in Kentucky. Bourbon can only be aged in charred, new white oak barrels so the white oak found in Kentucky is in high demand to the distillery industry. White oak also is an important tree for many Kentucky ecosystems, as it acts as both a food source and a home for many species.
Unfortunately, it is a slow-growing tree so any effort to make white oak more sustainable is a good thing for both the Commonwealth and distilleries.
Spirit industries face unique environmental challenges. By providing a place for conversation, questions and idea sharing, master distillers and industry representatives are able to compare notes, brainstorm solutions and share best management practices for the overall health of Kentucky’s ecosystem.
“The summits go over so well, we are expanding,” said Whitted. “Individual workshops and a website redo are only some of what we can hopefully build on.”
This spring, DCA will begin to hold separate workshops specifically targeted at distilleries, craft brewers and hopefully wineries.
“We have a lot of things planned and it is really exciting,” said Whitted. “Through the summit we have seen more engagement within the community and our department and that is a really good thing.”
Angel’s Envy will be hosting the next summit on Oct. 23, 2018. Contact Robyn Whitted with the Division of Compliance Assitance (DCA) for more information and how to register for this summit.
UofL’s Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development to be renamed the Envirome Institute
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 17, 2018) – The University of Louisville Board of Trustees today approved a name change of an existing institute that will contribute to expanding the university’s scope in evaluating the influence of the environment on health and wellness.
The board okayed the changing of the name of the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development (KIESD), created in 1992, to the Envirome Institute. Like KIESD, the institute will support research and applied scholarship, teaching and educational outreach activities, but with greater emphasis on community engagement and health.
Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., professor and the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine in the UofL School of Medicine, is tapped to lead the institute, which will have a more focused emphasis on the health effects of the environment, not as separate domains but as an integrated whole. An envirome is the total set of environmental factors, both present and past that affect the state and disease susceptibility of individuals.
“Over the past decade, new expertise in the area of environmental health research has emerged,” Bhatnagar said. “To fully meet the needs of our state and nation in environmental health, it is critical for UofL to expand the scope of the KIESD and to recruit new leading scholars with broad backgrounds in health sciences, environmental research and community engagement.”
The board also approved the creation of the Center for Healthy Air, Water, and Soil (CHAWS), a part of the Envirome Institute. CHAWS will support outreach activities to promote collaborations and interactions with the community for information exchange, partnership in scientific studies, dissemination of environmental information to the community and consultation by the community on issues relevant to the environment and health.
Energy storage, wind, and solar companies are recruiting coal miners for their work ethics and high-tech skills
By Jim Marston, EDF Energy Exchange
When a California battery company officially moved its headquarters and manufacturing to Kentucky coal country last week, generous state tax subsidies certainly played a role – but so did something often lost in the debate about coal.
Struggling coal mining towns offer an abundance of highly trained workers, many of whom are eager for new opportunities and stable jobs. Mine work today requires mechanical and technical skills that are transferable to new industries, a fact that companies inside and outside the energy sector are beginning to discover in America’s tightening labor market.
Needed: 875 Kentuckians with machinery and robotics skills
Let’s hear it from EnerBlu, the Los Angeles-area energy storage company that plans to invest $400 million in eastern Kentucky and may eventually hire 875 people in Pikeville, the heart of Appalachia coal country.
The region offers a “workforce with strong understanding of Direct Current power, complex machinery and robotics operations in production environments,” EnerBlu noted in a recent blog post. And because Pikeville is rooted in the challenging coal industry, the company wrote, it has a population with a strong work ethic, loyalty and tenacity – all qualities employers look for.
Wind company looks to coal workers for grit and endurance
Strong worker attributes help explain why a wind turbine manufacturer and service company is offering free wind technician training courses to laid-off coal workers and other job seekers in a fossil-rich part of Wyoming.
Goldwind Americas, a Chinese company, is expecting to provide up to 850 large wind turbines in the state and needs technicians to maintain them. It’s a tough job, and coal miners who are used to challenging work environments may have just what it takes.
It may also explain why companies such as CSX and LockHeed Martin have hired former coal workers after they completed a mere 60 days of retraining.
From coal fields to solar rooftops and coding
Dan Conant, the young founder of Solar Holler in West Virginia partnered with a non-profit to train people in coal field communities for new careers in an unexpected business: rooftop solar installation.
So far, at least 30 people under the age of 25 have gone through the program. Many are the sons and daughters of coal workers who are looking for new opportunities in a growth industry, Conant said. Sollar Holler has also trained several former coal workers who, with freshly minted technician skills, can now find openings in West Virginia’s budding solar industry or anywhere in the United States.
Back in Pikeville, meanwhile, a start-up software and development company called BitSource has already hired nine former coal workers who had to show an interest in process, be logical thinkers and able to spend hours in front of a computer. Some of the miners BitSource hired had spent 20 years in the mine; now they code.
The state of Tennessee’s circular economy
A recent survey by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices of over 300 industries in Tennessee reveals a truly missed opportunity. That opportunity is more than likely being missed across the entire United States.
The Tennessee survey revealed that 41 percent of industries surveyed have their materials recycled outside of the state. Forty-six percent would like assistance finding recycling options for their materials, and 63 percent would be willing to collaborate to create a network of industries to pursue solutions in the recycling and reuse or repurposing of their discarded material.
While networking platforms exist, such as the recently launched Tennessee Materials Marketplace and the Tennessee Recycling Coalition, the opportunity that is still being missed is this: Over 8,000 Tennesseans go to work every day to create products out of paper, plastics, cardboard and glass. The recovery rate of those materials is still far outstripped by the domestic demand for them.
The circular economy is not new and innovative, but has been with us for some time. The staple products of paper, plastic, cardboard and glass have been the real drivers in the recycling economy. There exists the opportunity to maximize the recycling of those staple materials, infuse the economy, employ people, expand the tax base and help the environment all at once.
Currently, the China recyclables market represents over 25 percent of U.S. recycled paper exports and anywhere from 20 to 33 percent of recycled plastics, depending on the type of plastic. That represents a nearly $6 billion export market for the recycling sector that historically operates on razor-thin margins. The recent China ban on 24 recycled commodities has been lifted somewhat by the Chinese government, easing the accepted percentage of contamination. However, the requirements in place even now by China are causing a worldwide disruption in the overall commodities market.
What if companies in Tennessee and throughout the Southeast easily could absorb those materials?
The Southeast Recycling Development Council, along with state agencies such as the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, have been mapping the industrial and economic landscape of the Southeast for the last several years, revealing companies that are often lacking material input from the local recycling infrastructure. Most of those companies use common post-consumer material that the average person isn’t aware of.
Blockchain and Energy Efficiency
By Ethan Rogers, Program Director, Industry, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Blockchain technology could transform energy efficiency (and the world as we know it), but lately it’s been getting a bad rap. Many recent news reports have focused on how much energy is being used (and wasted by some accounts) to make Bitcoins. But Bitcoin is not the only use of blockchain and most of them are not energy intensive. Blockchain is a software technology that can enable many things, including the secure communication of important information such as financial, commodity, shipping, and energy transactions (for a quick tutorial, check out this PCMag video). Bitcoin is just one of many uses of blockchain to ensure the security of transactions.
In fact, there are at least as many ways to structure blockchain as there are to send a text, and most of them do not require very much energy. When built into the security of a network that is connected to the appropriate data sources, blockchain can enable the tracking of energy generated by renewable energy technologies, reporting of cost savings from energy efficiency investments, or trading pollution-mitigation credits.
What is interesting to me as a researcher is whether blockchain can improve the valuing of energy efficiency. It has always been very difficult to properly value distributed energy resources (DERs) like energy savings because much of the value accrues to a grid system or a community, not just the DER owner. It is also technologically challenging to determine and communicate that value. Can blockchain be used to exchange negawatt hours (energy savings) of power in the same way the Brooklyn Microgrid pilot project is using it to exchange kilowatt hours of renewable energy? In this Brooklyn project, neighbors can purchase power generated by their neighbors’ solar panels. Blockchain enables this peer-to-peer, or more precisely, neighbor-to-neighbor exchange.
The challenge with energy efficiency is the need to document the counterfactual (what did not happen), and that requires a baseline. If a baseline can be determined in an automated way using information and communication technologies like those we’ve discussed in prior research, could negawatt hours be encrypted and shared using blockchain? If so, would it help us address our market’s failure to properly value energy savings? Would it lower the transaction costs for energy market participants to buy and sell megawatt hours?
Conceivably, blockchain could also enable us to link co-benefits, such as increased reliability or environmental benefits to energy efficiency and other resources. It could enable markets to value these benefits based on the time and location of their delivery.
Ecosia search engine and Trees for the Future announce partnership to plant trees
Trees for the Future (TREES) and Ecosia join forces to plant trees to combat climate change, revitalize degraded lands and improve livelihoods. TREES fully supports Ecosia in its ambitious journey to plant one billion trees by 2020. Ecosia has committed to fund a new Forest Garden site in the Kaffrine region of Senegal and plant 1.2 Million trees over a 46 month period. An estimated 300 farming families will benefit from this project.
Ecosia is the search engine that plants trees with its ad revenue. They are committed to donating at least 80 percent of its sponsored links income to tree planting projects around the world. Ecosia looks to support poor agricultural communities by planting trees. There trees can prevent erosion, create a stable microclimate for other crops, restore the water systems or provide new means of income.
What’s the CO2 impact of an Ecosia search?
If the Internet were a country it would rank #3 in the world in terms of electricity consumption, according to a recent Greenpeace report. Servers used to run the web need a lot of power. Ecosia believes that energy should be produced by renewable sources, and that it is the responsibility of companies to make sure their operations do not harm the planet.
That’s why in 2017, Ecosia decided to build their our own solar energy plant to ensure that Ecosia servers will always be run on 100% renewable energy. The 531kWp plant is now up and running, delivering clean energy to the grid and replacing electricity derived from fossil fuels.
Each search with Ecosia actually removes approximately 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. On average, it takes around 50 searches to finance the planting of a new tree. An average tree planted by Ecosia will remove around 50 kg of CO2 from the air during its lifetime. This means that, if Ecosia were as big as Google, 15% of all global CO2 emissions could be absorbed.
Smithfield Foods Improves its Brand with a Robust Sustainability Program
Posted by Steve Banker
In 2015, Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world, got terrible publicity when a spy drone flew over farms operated by one of their subsidiaries and took pictures of lagoons filled with pig feces and urine. Sustainability initiatives provide a way for global brands to improve their brand reputation and reduce risks of further damage to the brand.
Smithfield has certainly upped their sustainability game. Last week, on May 8th, the company released its 17th sustainability report. As a supply chain practitioner, I found that section the most interesting. This section highlights the company’s ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its progress toward meeting its 2020 environmental targets which include a commitment to reducing GHG emissions 25 percent by 2025 throughout its entire supply chain.
Sustainability: Progress was Made
The report provides detailed information about Smithfield’s environmental progress and initiatives. Progress was made. Normalized greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water use, and solid waste all went down (improved) from 2014 to 2017. Normalized energy use increased, which is partly attributable to their production of more ready-to-eat foods, which require greater energy use at their production plants but use less energy when customers prepare the food.
Smithfield also reported significant reductions in water usage and sending much less waste to landfills. But the focus of this article will be on the GHG initiative.
The Importance of a Life-cycle Analysis
To reach their GHG goals, the company did a life-cycle analysis to understand the company’s carbon impacts across a supply chain spanning from upstream grain farms to consumer’s kitchens. To really understand the full impact of a supply chain’s emissions, life-cycle analyses are necessary. They are not easy or inexpensive. In Smithfield’s case they worked with the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NorthStar) to help them collect the data, use the right tools, and contribute analytical expertise to the analysis. The result was an estimate of emissions from the growing (including fertilizer production and use) and processing of corn used to feed the hogs. That same model estimated the potential GHG impact of all farms that supply hogs to Smithfield facilities and then tracked the impacts of transportation and energy use associated with primary processing.
Smithfield’s environmental efforts extend throughout its supply chain. This includes the farms that grow feed grain for its hogs, the farming operations that raise the animals, the processing facilities, and finally the transportation network that delivers finished products to retail stores and restaurants. The company works within its supply chain to ensure that the products provided to consumers are high quality and produced in a responsible manner.
See What’s New at ESRC
The Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx™), a national network of regional information centers. The objective of the ESRC is to provide technical environmental sustainability information and training to industrial service providers in EPA Regions 3 & 4. Region 3 includes Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, D.C., Delaware and Maryland. Region 4 includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. ESRC resources and staff are available to users in industry, consulting and universities. Please visit the ESRC website or call toll free (855) 531-3772 for more information. The ESRC is administered by the Kentucky Pollution
Enhancing Business Operations through Sustainability – ESRC Webinar Training Series
The Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) delivered a training series of webinars intended to enhance business operations through applied sustainability strategies.
This four-part recorded webinar series provides insight on making the business case for environmental sustainability, identifying the building blocks of a systematic approach for success and provides examples and resources to help turn actions into outcomes.
Benefits of viewing the recorded webinars
– Identify low-cost/no-cost opportunities to stimulate business success through sustainability.
– Enhance environmental performance.
– Build an organizational culture that embraces and succeeds through sustainability.
– Observe real-world examples of implementation.
– Obtain tools and resources to assist sustainability efforts.
– Learn about technical assistance available.
Recordings for all four of webinars are now available with closed captioning and related information
GreenBiz – Sustainability news and resources
GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business. Since 1991, GreenBiz has chronicled and been a catalyst for thought leadership in aligning environmental responsibility with profitable business practices.
Currently on the GreenBiz website by Nate Berg:
What will happen to solar panels after their useful lives are over?
Solar power is having its hockey stick moment. Since the early 2000s, the amount of solar panels being installed worldwide has been growing exponentially, and it’s expected to continue to do so for decades. By the end of 2015, an estimated 222 gigawatts worth of solar energy had been installed worldwide. According to a recent report (PDF) from the International Renewable Energy Agency, that number could reach 4,500 GW by 2050.
But the solar panels generating that power don’t last forever. The industry standard life span is about 25 to 30 years, and that means that some panels installed at the early end of the current boom aren’t long from being retired. And each passing year, more will be pulled from service — glass and metal photovoltaic modules that soon will start adding up to millions, and then tens of millions of metric tons of material.
“It’s not too far off that those are going to be coming off line, and we’re going to have a waste management issue,” said Garvin Heath, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a solar power expert. “It’s fair to say that it’s starting to become more widely recognized as an issue that we’re going to need to start working on pretty soon.”
The solution many are looking to is recycling. But the ability to handle the coming flow of PV modules is not yet sufficient. “There’s some infrastructure,” Heath said. “I wouldn’t say it’s especially well established at this point.”
Part of the problem is that solar panels are complicated to recycle. They’re made of many materials, some hazardous, and assembled with adhesives and sealants that make breaking them apart challenging.
“The longevity of these panels, the way they’re put together and how they make them make it inherently difficult to, to use a term, de-manufacture,” said Mark Robards, director of special projects for ECS Refining, one of the largest electronics recyclers in the U.S. The panels are torn apart mechanically and broken down with acids to separate out the crystalline silicon, the semiconducting material used by most photovoltaic manufacturers. Heat systems are used to burn up the adhesives that bind them to their armatures, and acidic hydro-metallurgical systems are used to separate precious metals.
Robards said nearly 75 percent of the material that gets separated out is glass, which is easy to recycle into new products but also has a very low resale value. Not only that, but what’s available to recycle is something of a moving target. As solar panel technology improves, manufacturers are slowly finding ways around using components that would have value to recyclers, such as copper and silver.
“So the underlying commodity value of these things keeps going down,” Robards said. The less value a recycler can extract, the less incentive there is to recycle.
Despite the challenges, ECS has been ramping up its photovoltaic recycling capacity. “It’s a semi-decent growth area these next few years but exploding about 2020 and beyond,” Robards said, anticipating the millions of metric tons of panels expected to come offline.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences
- A Practical Look at Green Buildings for Contractors
This webinar will provide an overview of what a green building is, different ways that contractors and their trades can get involved, and the key areas that fall under the contractor’s responsibility when executing a LEED project. The target audience includes contractors and their trades who are working on green building projects or who would like to be more involved in green buildings.
June 1 at 12:15 p.m. EDT
Find out more about this webinar and how to register.
- The Indiana Recycling Coalition’s 2018 Annual Conference and Trade Show
The IRC’s annual conference will be held June 11-13, 2018 at the Marriott East Hotel in Indianapolis! You will have the opportunity to learn about the latest developments and innovations in waste reduction, reuse, composting and recycling; network with professionals in the industry, new partners, and old friends; and share your ideas and products with those in attendance.
June 11-13 – Indianapolis, IN
Find out more about the conference and how to register.
- EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager Training Series @ Spalding University
Essential to the procurement of an Energy Star certification is the ability to effectively utilize the EPA’s Portfolio Manager utility. In this three part series, participants will learn everything from the basics of entering building and energy data into the software, to the more advanced functions of setting goals and targets for their energy improvements. Technical experts will be on-site to assist with questions after each of the webinars are completed.
June 11 – Portfolio Manager 101
June 29 – Portfolio Manager 201
July 20 – Portfolio Manager 301
Find out more and register for these ENERGY STAR workshops.
- Resources for Future Generations Conference
Human existence and progress is based on a sustainable supply of energy, minerals and water. In order to provide resources, we must understand the complexity of the Earth. Equally important is the need to develop and utilize these resources in better and cleaner ways that minimize impacts. Success will require a consensus on how we work together. The Resources for Future Generations conference (RFG2018) takes its theme from a new IUGS initiative of the same name designed to mobilize geoscientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders to explore resource and related sustainability issues.
June 16-21 – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Register for this conference.
- 2018 KY EXCEL Open House
As a community, KY EXCEL, Kentucky’s environmental leadership program, is a great a venue for business, farms, communities, non-profits, households and individuals receive statewide recognition and provide a pathway for environmental stewardship opportunities and networking. KY EXCEL is throwing open our doors and inviting everyone to meet our members, learn how to join and discover the benefits of being a member.
June 21 – Frankfort, KY
Register for this open house event.
- Sustainable Materials Management: A Compliment or a Barrier to Recycling?
According to the EPA, “Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles,” but is the program a compliment or a barrier to recycling? The Association of Plastic Recyclers present a webinar that will share about the basic principles of SMM and why recycling should remain a crucial element in its adoption.
June 26 at 1 p.m. EDT
Register for this webinar.
EPA ENERGY STAR webinars:
- Engaging Commercial Tenants and Occupants in Energy Efficiency
The people who work in your office building, retail store, warehouse, or other commercial building can make or break your efficiency strategy – after all, they often consume most of the energy. How do you engage your tenants and occupants to start saving energy? Learn innovative strategies and proven approaches to effectively drive savings in tenant spaces and get occupants energized about efficiency.
June 6 at 1 p.m. EDT
- ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
During this session, attendees will learn how to use EPA tools and resources to help meet requirements for green building rating systems such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Green Globes system, IREM Certified Sustainable Properties, and BOMA BEST.
June 14 at 1 p.m. EDT
- Preparing for EPA’s ENERGY STAR metric updates
In August 2018, EPA will update the models that power 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores with new data, based on the latest Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Join this interactive session to hear about EPA’s methodology and schedule for updating 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores, discuss considerations for building owners and managers, and learn what to expect when new metrics are released.
June 20 at 1 p.m. EDT
- Success Stories on Hosting Energy Efficiency Competitions
Join us to hear from two ENERGY STAR partners that have ran successful internal energy efficiency competitions. Learn about Boeing’s internal Battle of the Buildings competition, how they’ve expanded upon EPA’s competition resources, and their strategies for engaging occupants. In addition, Government Properties Income Trust will share their approach and results of an internal competition modeled after the ENERGY STAR BOOTCAMP program, and types of recognition given to winning teams.
June 27 at 1 p.m. EDT
Portfolio Manager Series
- 101 – June 5 at 1 p.m. EST – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the Portfolio Manager; add a property and enter details about it; enter energy and water consumption data; share properties; generate performance reports to assess progress; and respond to data requests.
- 201 – June 12 at 1 p.m. EDT – Learn more advanced functionalities such as: managing and tracking changes to your property uses over time; using spreadsheet templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; generating and using custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
- 301 – June 19 at 1 p.m. EDT – Learn about some advanced features, including: using spreadsheet upload templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; creating custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
View recorded ENERGY STAR webinars at any time.
To view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.