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KY EXCEL now open for agriculture

Launched by the Department for Environmental Protection in 2006, KY EXCEL is a free, voluntary program open to any individual, organization, community or business that acts to improve Kentucky’s diverse and unique environment through environmental leadership. EXCEL members go above and beyond the state’s environmental requirements.

In the past year, the program has expanded to incorporate one of Kentucky’s largest sectors – agriculture.

KY EXCEL Farm is open to all individuals and entities that conduct production, agriculture, having land and farming crops or livestock, or is an advocacy group for farmers/agriculture. KY EXCEL Farm membership is renewed annually upon conducting at least one voluntary environmental project. The possibility for projects is extensive. kyexcel-farm-logo-jpg

Membership in KY EXCEL Farm is for one year and can be renewed each year. Begin by submitting an EXCEL Farm Application and a Project Proposal form, both of which are available on the Division of Compliance Assistance KY EXCEL Farm website. There you will also find resources such as EXCEL Farm project ideas, a Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act Planning Tool and a Green Resources Checklist.

Also featured are two Farm Spotlight stories – one on Capstone Farms [PDF] in Henry County, the first member of the KY EXCEL Farm program, and one on the Thompson Ag Exchange [PDF] on a Hardin County farm.

David Neville of Henry County is a producer of Angus and Angus Cross cattle, which is not unusual in this part of the Commonwealth. What is different about Neville and his beef-producing Capstone Farms is that he uses 52 Kiko/Savannah cross goats for browsing brush control. Goats eat woody materials, some of which are harmful to cattle. Spraying chemicals to control toxic plants is expensive and harmful to the environment.

Neville went organic with Capstone Farms, which comprises 258 acres of grassland, by accident. He did soil testing to see what the land needed for cattle. He thought about the environmental and financial costs of pesticides to use around fence rows and decided there must be a better way. That’s when he decided to try goats in his fields. After three years of using no pesticides, Neville’s farms have been certified organic.

Farmers can use best management practices, be environmental leaders and have profitable operations at the same time. Vincent Thompson knows this. He lives and works on the Hardin County farm that his parents have owned since 1973. The farm is 160 acres, of which 40 acres are leased out to grow corn and grain. It is also the location of Thompson’s farm business, Thompson Ag Exchange and the Beck’s Hybrids seed dealership. Thompson sells and delivers corn, soybean, rye, wheat and red clover seeds to area farmers.

Thompson, who is the current district supervisor and chairperson for the Hardin County Conservation District Board of Directors, raises 35 Charolois and Angus beef cattle, including 18 calves. The farm is also home to several breeds of goats, such as Boer, Lamancha, Sannen and Myotonic, or Tennessee Fainting goats.

During his time on the farm, Thompson has seen farming techniques improve and searched for more ways to produce better beef cattle and meat goats, while introducing environmentally friendly practices. His latest project is to install three alternative water sources or waterers for his livestock and fencing around the ponds, creeks and sinkholes. Thompson learned that making small changes in water management and accessibility for livestock will yield improved results in animal health.

When Thompson attended a farm best management practices seminar in Radcliff, he heard about KY EXCEL Farm. He joined the program and made installing waterers for his cattle and goats his program project.

The KY EXCEL Farm program

KY EXCEL Farm members receive one-on-one assistance in identifying activities that can increase profits while minimizing excess nutrient releases, conserving water resources, reducing energy consumption and more.

Being a KY EXCEL Farm member can increase the marketability of your farm and products or advocacy group. In addition to a wealth of information and assistance available, all members have the opportunity to use the EXCEL Farm logo on their promotional materials and website. If you are one of the first 25 farm members, you will receive a commemorative sign to display emphasizing your devotion to promoting sustainable farm practices. Additionally, all KY EXCEL members receive 50 percent off of environmental and compliance stewardship trainings. See what trainings are currently available here.

Find out more about becoming a KY EXCEL Farm member on the Division of Compliance Assistance KY EXCEL Farm website.

KPPC and KY EXCEL

The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center is an Inaugural Leader Member of KY EXCEL. KPPC was recognized at the 2017 KY EXCEL Member Celebration in January at the Locust Trace Agriculture Center in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the KY EXCEL program.

Are you actively engaged in environmental stewardship or are you looking to make that first step? KY EXCEL offers a home for individuals, businesses and organizations looking to make a contribution to improving Kentucky’s environment. Find out more about KY EXCEL and becoming a member on the Division of Compliance Assistance KY EXCEL website.

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Henry County schools recognized for energy efficiency

epa-energy_star_logo-jpgOn Feb. 23, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) recognized the Henry County School District for earning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification in all of the district’s five school buildings. Certificates signed by Governor Matt Bevin and Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely were presented to school officials during the Feb. 23 meeting of the Henry County Board of Education.

Henry County became the 18th school district in Kentucky to have 100 percent of its schools certified ENERGY STAR. Schools recognized during the board meeting were: Campbellsburg Elementary, Eastern Elementary, New Castle Elementary, Henry County Middle and Henry County High.

Management of building operations and energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling systems, LED lighting and participation of student energy teams are credited for the schools earning the ENERGY STAR label.

Henry County Schools Superintendent Tim Abrams reported a district-wide energy savings of $686,882 since the district joined the Kentucky School Boards Association School Energy Management Project (KSBA-SEMP) in 2010.

“Money saved by these initiatives are used to support teaching and learning in our schools, helping us to better meet our mission of ‘empowering leaders and life-long learners for an ever changing world,’” said Superintendent Abrams.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR performance scale helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

Eastern Elementary earned a near perfect ENERGY STAR score of 99 followed by Campbellsburg Elementary with a score of 97, Henry County Middle School’s score is 96; New Castle Elementary, 88 and an ENERGY STAR score of 76 at Henry County High School.

Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings.

View this and other articles on the Naturally Connected blog by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

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Eastern Kentucky University plans carbon neutrality by 2036

eku-logo-jpgEastern Kentucky University has completed a comprehensive Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to strategically and economically reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2036, in accordance with the Second Nature Climate Commitment.

The plan calls for the University to reach its goal via a variety of mitigation strategies, including:

• implementation of geothermal heating/cooling throughout campus;
• improvements in central plant and building efficiencies through Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC);
• greater efficiencies in steam and chilled water;
• energy efficiency guidelines for new buildings;
• the purchase of renewable energy credits and carbon offsets; and
• reduction in water consumption.

According to Sustainability Manager Patrick McKee, EKU’s plan is the “most aggressive” of any public university in the Commonwealth, yet cost efficient. The plan requires an initial investment that will be paid back over 15 years, with an additional savings of $5.2 million by 2036.

EKU “is seeking to work toward carbon neutrality with a reasonable, financially sound model that incorporates as many existing processes and facilities as possible,” said Barry Poynter, vice president for finance and administration. “In fact, when considering our key mitigation strategies, this plan makes sense for our University independent of the carbon savings.

“Our approach is sensitive to the current budget realities,” Poynter continued. “As noted in the plan, investments toward achieving carbon neutrality can have a relatively short payback period, and can continue earning and producing additional savings. I think this approach is an excellent example to set for our community as we commit to being even better stewards of our resources.”

In a “Letter from the President” that prefaces the plan, EKU President Michael Benson said that sustainability is “sometimes defined too narrowly or wrongly viewed through a lens of political partisanship. The truth is that rethinking and retraining to accommodate sustainable behaviors is more than just an environmental win; oftentimes, it simply makes good fiscal sense.

“Given the budgetary challenges we now face in public higher education, it is more important than ever that we meet our current resource needs without hindering the ability of future generations to do the same.”

One challenge at Eastern is aging buildings that are typically not energy efficient. The University is in the midst of the most ambitious campus revitalization initiative in its history, including new academic buildings, residence halls and other student-centered facilities, several set to open in 2017 and others within the next few years. The new structures are constructed with energy efficiency in mind; older buildings must be retrofitted to achieve similar results.

“We continue to push ourselves to make buildings more energy efficient and sustainable,” said Paul Gannoe, associate vice president for facilities services and capital planning. “HVAC renovations at Telford Hall (built in 1969), the use of insulated concrete forms on the new residence halls, and building automation improvements in dining and the new wellness center are a few examples of how we can build greener, more sustainable environments for our students. These improvements not only help us conserve energy, but they provide a more pleasant, comfortable environment for living and learning on campus.”

Read the full article on the Eastern Kentucky University website.

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Newsbits

 

KPPC’s Mark Toda to serve as judge at state conference

Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center Senior Sustainability Engineer Mark Toda will serve as a judge for the Kentucky Technology Student Association State Conference on April 24. The event is being held April 24-25 at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Toda and other professionals within the competition areas will judge middle and high school events during the conference.

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national organization of students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Open to students enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA’s membership includes more than 233,000 middle and high school students in approximately 2,000 schools spanning 49 states. TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Members learn through exciting competitive events, leadership opportunities and much more.

The diversity of activities makes TSA a positive experience for every student. From engineers to business managers, TSA alumni credit the organization with making a positive influence on their lives. The Kentucky Chapter of TSA (KYTSA) has seen a resurgence this year. It currently has over 300 more students affiliated with it than this time last year.

Visit the Kentucky Technology Student Association website to find out more about the 2017 State Conference.

 

Kentucky Water Week events planned

Kentucky has a long history of caring for and protecting its abundant natural resources and one of the most important of these is water. The Commonwealth boasts a network of lakes, streams and rivers that are a vital source of drinking water, as well as a source of recreation for its citizens.

In celebration of these abundant natural resources, and as an observance of the value of water to each of us in our everyday lives, Gov. Matt Bevin has pronounced the week of March 19-25 as Water Week [View the Proclamation PDF] in Kentucky.

“Kentucky is home to some of the most beautiful and most biologically diverse rivers in the country, and residents in our communities have an important and celebrated connection to rivers, lakes, streams and waterways,” Gov. Bevin said. “We are all stewards of the water quality upon which future generations depend.”

A series of events meant to show how water health and conservation impacts each of us in our daily lives will highlight Water Week. Kentuckians can get hands-on with projects to protect or improve Kentucky’s water resources or simply learn more about subjects such as conservation and stream health.

The following are some events open to the public:

• Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute (KWRRI) Annual Symposium (March 20)
• Rain Barrel Workshop, Campbell County Cooperative Extension (March 20)
• Project WET Educator Workshop: Getting to the Bottom of Stream Health (Lexington) (March 21)
• Project WET Educator Workshop: Getting to the Bottom of Stream Health (Hopkinsville) (March 22)
• Project WET Educator Workshop: Getting to the Bottom of the Stream Health (Stanton) (March 22)
• Rain Barrel Workshop: Kentucky State University (Frankfort) (March 22)
• Yamacraw River Cleanup (March 25)

View the interactive Water Week in Kentucky PDF document for more information. [PDF]

 

Ohio State University researchers using food waste for carbon black replacement

Egg shells and tomato peels are being turned into a replacement for the petroleum-based filler.

Researchers at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, have discovered that food waste can partially replace the petroleum-based filler that has been used in manufacturing tires for more than a century.

In tests, rubber made with the new fillers exceeds industrial standards for performance, which may ultimately open up new applications for rubber.

As Katrina Cornish, an Ohio research scholar and endowed chair in biomaterials at Ohio State, explains it, the technology has the potential to solve three problems: It makes the manufacture of rubber products more sustainable, reduces American dependence on foreign oil and keeps waste out of landfills.

Cornish has spent years cultivating new domestic rubber sources, including a rubber-producing dandelion. Now she has a patent-pending a method for turning eggshells and tomato peels into viable and locally sourced replacements for carbon black, a petroleum-based filler that American companies often purchase from overseas.

About 30 percent of a typical automobile tire is carbon black; it’s the reason tires appear black. It makes the rubber durable, and its cost varies with petroleum prices.

Carbon black is getting harder to come by, Cornish says.

“The tire industry is growing very quickly, and we don’t just need more natural rubber, we need more filler, too,” she explains. “The number of tires being produced worldwide is going up all the time, so countries are using all the carbon black they can make. There’s no longer a surplus, so we can’t just buy some from Russia to make up the difference like we used to.”

“At the same time,” she adds. “We need to have more sustainability.”

Read the full article on the Recycling Today website.

 

STEM Award nominations now open

Million Women Mentors Kentucky announce the 2017 MWM Stand Up for STEM Award [PDF] to recognize and elevate the work of incredible mentors, companies and organizations within Kentucky. Now is the time to identify the STEM mentors, both individuals and organizations, in your midst that deserve this distinguished honor.

The award will be presented at the 2017 Kentucky Association of Manufacturers Conference & Trade Show, “Manufacturing Makes our Future,” on May 31 at the Lexington Convention Center. A 3D printed trophy created by Stratasys and a MWM award certificate will be presented to the winner by Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton, honorary chair of MWM Kentucky.

For consideration, please submit a nomination form [PDF] and letter supporting your nominee by April 30.

Million Women Mentors supports the engagement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) mentors (male and female) to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to persist and succeed in STEM programs and careers.

 

See what’s new at ESRC

The Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) is a member of the Pollution Prevention ESRC-Logo120x120Resource 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. The primary service area for the ESRC is EPA Region 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.

Visit the ESRC website or call toll free (855) 531-3772 for more 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.

Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.

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Upcoming training, events and conferences

  • Kentucky High Performance Public Facilities Workshop
    Every Kentucky city and county is looking for new dollars. Did you ever think that some of those funds could be found in your utility bills? The Kentucky High Performance Public Facilities Workshop will showcase how public facilities can become more efficient and generate real savings in the community.
    March 22 – Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard, Kentucky
    Find out more about the agenda and how to register.
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Environmental Conference
    The most comprehensive environmental conference in the state! Find out about the latest information on Kentucky and federal environmental policies and regulations, as well as information on new environmental compliance mandates. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will provide this and more at their annual Kentucky Environmental Conference. You will leave this conference with a detailed, up-to-the-minute review of major environmental regulatory issues that may affect your facility. Register today to gain insights that will help your company improve its compliance practices and bottom line.
    March 28-29 – Lexington, Kentucky
    Find out more and register for this conference.

 

EPA webinars:

Portfolio Manager Series

  • 101 – March 28 at 1 p.m. EDT – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the new 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 – March 29 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 – March 30 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 these plus more training opportunities and to register.

View recorded ENERGY STAR webinars at any time.

  • 27th Annual Energy Storage Association Conference and Expo
    The conference is a global event in energy storage. Participate in an expanded conversation about storage and the transformation of the power sector, shape your business and build new connections. An impressive selection of keynote speakers and expert panelists is on the program, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper; Ivor Catto, CEO of Renewable Energy Systems; and Michael O’Sullivan, senior vice president of NextEra Energy Resources.
    April 18-20 – Denver, Colorado
    Conference and Expo information and registration are available online.
  • CxEnergy 2017 Conference and Expo
    The premier conference and exposition for building commissioning and energy management. This event offers technical sessions by industry experts, certification seminars and exams for CxA and EMP, relationship-building opportunities and exhibits of the latest technologies available.
    April 24-27 – Orlando, Florida
    Find out more about the CxEnergy 2017 Conference and Expo.
  • 2017 Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Conference and Trade Show
    KAM is focused on giving manufacturers practical, relevant information that can immediately be put into practice to see positive results right away. It is also committed to ensuring Kentucky has a manufacturing-friendly environment now and into the future.
    May 31 – June 1 – Lexington, Kentucky
    Conference and Trade Show information and registration are available online.

 

Ca.jpg-icon-SSPTo view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.
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