December, 2018 – Volume 11, Issue 12
KPPC offices closed for the holidays
The next big thing in ‘Green’ packaging is hemp bioplastic
Three big sustainability issues facing every business, and how to respond
Federal investments in algae cultivation technologies paying big dividends
GreenBiz: Making up our minds, and minding our waste
GreenBiz 19 Conference
Plastics Recycling 2019
ENERGY STAR – Ask the Expert
ENERGY STAR – Learning Portfolio Manager Webinars
KPPC brings gardening into the office
KPPC has been an Advocate Member of the KY EXCEL program since its inaugural year in 2006. KY EXCEL is a free, voluntary program that encourages members to complete projects that improve the environment at home, within an organization, or in a community.
There are various levels of tiered membership for participants that include for non-regulatory members – Farm and Advocate, and regulated members – Partner, Leader and Master. Visit the KY EXCEL website to find out more about being a voluntary member.
In keeping with KPPC’s ongoing KY EXCEL Advocate membership, a sustainability project is identified annually that can improve the Center’s day-to-day operations and serve as a demonstration of the different ways to consider sustainable practices in the workplace for our clients.
KPPC selected hydroponic gardening for this year’s sustainability project. A hydroponic garden is a low-maintenance, cost-effective way to encourage and demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social sustainability.
Alex Beebe, a Speed School engineering co-op at KPPC, was assigned as the project lead for researching, designing, procuring, constructing and maintaining the hydroponic garden for the office space. “As a student co-op, it was an exciting opportunity to lead our 2018 Kentucky EXCEL project.” he said.
A deep water culture hydroponic system was selected. This was comprised of containers for the nutrient rich water, aeration equipment, a LED grow light, net pots and clay pebbles. KPPC staff donated some of the materials. The total cost of a four-container setup was around $200.
A selection of herbs were grown from seed in soil and then transferred to the hydro system as mature plants where they thrived, yielding multiple harvests of mint, basil, oregano, and chives.
Maintenance involved checking PH and nutrient levels on an every other week schedule that only required about ten minutes each time. Additionally, the herbs were harvested around the same time to prevent overgrowth and provide KPPC employees with a regular supply to use at home or share with others.
One of the project work objectives was to establish an online resource to assist others with bringing the benefits of this sustainability initiative into an office, classroom, home or any other appropriate indoor setting.
A hydroponic gardening web page has been created and is now available on the KPPC website. There is a frequently asked question (FAQ) styled layout of information about the project along with a promotional video, a slide presentation that can be used to share the story with others, along with additional resources including a Hydroponic Gardening Maintenance Guide.
“Initially, the project was to create a hydroponic garden for our own use within the office. As planning and construction occurred, we realized that this could serve as an example of an affordable, unique and time-conscious sustainability project for any workplace” said Alex Beebe. “Leading the hydroponic project gave me experience that engineering co-ops rarely receive such as video production, web page writing, graphic design and more. KPPC encourages utilizing creative projects to involve employees in a sustainable culture.”
Energy department recognizes Bullitt County Public Schools for progress towards energy goals
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized Better Buildings Challenge partner, Bullitt County Public Schools (BCPS), for the energy productivity advances made in its Mt. Washington Elementary School. Located in Shepherdsville, Kentucky and serving more than 13,000 students, the school district committed to improving its energy performance by 20% over a 10-year period across its two million square foot portfolio. The school district is well on its way to achieving this goal and has already reduced energy by 18% from a 2013 baseline.
Director of DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge Maria Vargas visited Mt. Washington Elementary School, the district’s Better Buildings Showcase Project, to congratulate the school on its significant energy savings achieved. The school was selected for a year-and-a-half long renovation that resulted in 32% annual energy savings and $28,000 annual costs savings. The school upgraded all interior and exterior lighting to LEDs and replaced the rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system with a new geothermal system. The renovation added nearly 13,000 square feet to the building for a new gym and library, and expanded classroom space. School officials say they recognize the positive impact these energy improvements have on the learning environment for students and staff.
The Bullitt County Public Schools District has engaged students and faculty in its commitment to energy management by implementing a district energy plan that encourages each person to take responsibility for using energy efficiently. The plan also includes guidelines on building operations and maintenance such as temperature controls, building resource management, lighting, space heaters, filters, holiday period procedures, new construction standards, and water conservation.
Better Buildings is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy designed to improve the lives of the American people by driving leadership in energy innovation. Through Better Buildings, DOE partners with leaders in the public and private sectors to make the nation’s homes, commercial buildings and industrial plants more energy efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices. Greater efficiency saves billions of dollars on energy bills, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates jobs. More than 900 organizations now partner with DOE in Better Buildings and have saved more than $3 billion in energy costs to date.
The Better Buildings Challenge is a network of leading businesses, manufacturers, cities, states, universities, and school districts that commit to improving the energy efficiency of their portfolio of buildings by at least 20% over 10 years and share their strategies and results.
Domtar wins 2018 AF&PA Sustainability Award for water
Recognized for Hawesville Water Conservation Project
Washington, D.C. – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recognized Domtar with a 2018 AF&PA Leadership in Sustainability Award for Water for their Hawesville Water Conservation Project. The award was presented at AF&PA’s annual meeting on Friday, Nov. 9 in Dallas, Texas.
“Domtar showed that a number of small, focused projects can add up to a big impact, namely slashing their Hawesville mill’s water intake by a third,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.
Domtar’s mill in Hawesville, Kentucky mill made 17 upgrades, repairs and process changes that conserved vital water resources for their operations and the mill’s surrounding ecosystem. These small, relatively inexpensive projects amounted to collective water savings of nearly 2,200 gallons per minute or 3.2 million gallons per day. The mill’s total water intake decreased 34 percent, contributing to cost savings to pump, treat and heat process water, boiler feed water and effluent.
“Thank you to AF&PA for recognizing our Hawesville Water Conservation Project,” said Domtar President and CEO John Williams. “Continuous improvement is one of Domtar’s focuses and we are proud of the advances we’ve made regarding our water use.”
Designed to recognize exemplary sustainability programs and initiatives in the paper and wood products manufacturing industry, AF&PA’s annual awards are given based on the merit of entries received across multiple categories.
Projects that support progress toward the Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals qualify for recognition in the “Leadership” category, which has five subcategories that correspond to the goals: Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Paper Recovery for Recycling, Safety, Sustainable Forest Management and Water. The “Innovation in Sustainability” award is reserved for projects that merit recognition for their contribution to sustainable business practices, not one of the goals specifically.
AF&PA’s 2018 Sustainability Report showed that the U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry has made significant, measurable progress toward achieving its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability goals.
City of Louisville receives national sustainability award from energy non-profit
The Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Government was recognized as the 2018 Green Leadership City, a distinction awarded by the Propane Education & Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit organization. The award recognizes the city for its adoption of clean, propane-powered mowers, among other environmentally-friendly programs that support the city’s highly-regarded sustainability plan.
Mayor Greg Fischer accepted a $5,000 donation from PERC at a celebration event at Sun Valley Park with city officials and Parks & Recreation Department employees, who operate the propane mowers regularly.
“The Green Leadership City Award highlights public agencies demonstrating a commitment to environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices, which the city of Louisville has shown by adding propane mowers to its municipal equipment fleet,” said Jeremy Wishart, director of off-road business development for PERC. “Louisville has set an incredible example for the rest of the region of what a municipality can accomplish when it decides that its environmental impact matters and takes necessary steps to reduce its carbon footprint.”
Earlier this year, Louisville added 11 propane mowers to its Metro Fleet Division, with plans to continue transitioning to propane equipment as the city’s 68 remaining gasoline mowers wear out. Compared to gasoline mowers, using propane reduces greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide (NOx), and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, which contributes to a healthier local environment.
According to the city, it will also cost approximately 25 percent less to operate a propane mower over the life of the unit because of the lower cost of propane.
“Propane mowers help us improve upon our long-term sustainability goals as a city while also being prudent with the taxpayer’s money,” said Greg Fischer, Louisville mayor. “Anytime we can make operational changes that improve the community’s quality of life while saving on costs is a win-win.”
The propane mowers are used by five departments that manage grass growth on city properties as well as vacant and abandoned private properties, including the Louisville Zoo, the Vacant Lots Division of Codes & Regulations, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and the Metro Facilities Division.
Because of their lower emissions profile, propane mowers allow city crews to continue mowing on Air Quality Alert Days, when mowing with both commercial and residential gasoline equipment is discouraged to avoid adding to ground-level pollution.
To learn more about propane mowers, visit propane.com/commercial-landscape.
KPPC offices closed for the holidays
The Shelby Campus offices of KPPC will be closed during the University of Louisville’s scheduled holiday break beginning on December 17, 2018. You can leave us a voice mail message at (502) 852-0965 or use “Contact KPPC” to send an email message.
The offices will open on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Have a safe and happy holiday!
The next big thing in ‘Green’ packaging is hemp bioplastic
Kevin Tubbs, founder of the Hemp Plastic Company, sees the world through bioplastic glasses. The Denver-based company specializes in flexible bioplastic packaging containers made from byproducts of nutritional hemp processing.
“We expect market dominance in bioplastic hemp,” Tubbs says. “Outside of cash crops like hemp hearts and CBD oil, there’s a lot of waste in hemp processing. So I started experimenting. Take the waste products and you can do one of two things with them: You can either make hempcrete — a building material — or hemp plastic.”
Tubbs said the choice was easy after 20 years making eco-friendly packaging. “We need plastic.”
Bioplastics, meaning any plastic that is plant based, biodegradable, or both, replaces fossil-based carbon in plastic with carbon from renewable sources such as corn or hemp. Tubbs, now manufacturing about a million pounds of hemp-based bioplastic a week, is confident that hemp bioplastic will overtake petroleum-based raw polymer in coming decades.
Thanks to a confluence of consumer demand for more sustainable goods, corporate initiatives and falling manufacturing costs, production of bioplastics is poised to take off. By 2020, bioplastics are predicted to control 5 percent of the plastics market, rising to 40 percent by 2030, according to Grand View Research.
Tubbs advises potential investors to think about raw material costs. “When the price of oil rises, watch the cost of bioplastic. Take a pound of raw polymer and compare it to a pound of hemp raw material: the hemp is cheaper. Every ounce of it I add to the other polymers it makes the polymer cheaper. Greener and cheaper.”
So why hemp? “What other biomaterial could you use?” Tubbs asks. “It has very unusual characteristics for a plant. It’s ridiculously strong, almost as strong as spider silk.”
Industrial hemp, a variety of cannabis that contains under 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound THC that gives marijuana its potency, works well as a raw material for bioplastics for some other reasons as well: It grows well in most soils with few chemical fertilizers or pesticides. It grows fast, furiously absorbing carbon from the atmosphere from germination to harvest. That carbon is then transformed into the high cellulose content needed for bioplastic manufacture, around 65 to 70 percent of hemp biomass.
Read the full article on the Green Entrepreneur website and find out more about the competitive advantage of hemp in sustainable packaging.
Three big sustainability issues facing every business, and how to respond
By Ross Guberman
As 2018 draws to a close, the increasingly loud conversation surrounding recycling, food waste, plastic pollution and zero waste is helping to reinvigorate people and businesses to work towards more sustainable solutions. Now we have the added urgency of the UN report finding that the world has just 12 years left to take action on climate change. The landscape is changing and business leaders understand that they have to be prepared. What should businesses do? Here are three of the biggest sustainability issues that businesses had to deal with in 2018, that will continue to impact their operations in 2019.
Impact of the China Import Ban
Across the country, waste and recycling costs are rising, and have been for some years now. A big reason for this is the continuing China import ban, which stops contaminated materials from entering the country. China was a big recipient of US recyclables. Now other countries are also starting to take steps to limit scrap imports. Until we can achieve cleaner, better separated recyclables, or find better alternatives for processing recycling, we will continue to face higher fees for waste removal and processing.
What businesses should do:
Contamination is the crucial metric to watch. Your business must reduce contamination to maintain the value of your recyclable materials. Conduct a comprehensive waste audit to understand what is actually ending up in the trash and recycling streams. Look at how your waste and recycling program is set up, how it’s communicated, and what vendors you’re using that support your sustainable waste efforts.The
Economics of Recycling
Even without the China import ban, the recycling market goes up and down depending on oil and commodity prices. If oil is cheap, “virgin” plastic is cheaper than recycled plastic. If the demand for recyclables drops, there will be a corresponding drop in the value of recyclables. Other factors that affect the economics of recycling include the number of recycling facilities across the country, the presence or absence of local government recycling programs, and the strength of the overall economy.
What businesses should do:
Avoid being beholden to these fluctuations by taking control of your costs. This means developing a sustainable waste and recycling program that works for your business with better materials management, improved purchasing decisions, and a focus on reduction and reuse strategies and other solutions. Disrupting your recycling program is not recommended because it does not solve any problems. Moving your recyclables to the trash will lead to increased waste costs, and more materials headed to landfill, which means a bigger carbon footprint. You will also loose all the investment in time and training involved in setting up your recycling program. Besides, the public, your consumers, staff and tenant demand recycling. Instead, move towards a zero waste mindset to close the loop. If you don’t purchase it or dispose of it, you save money.
Changing Regulatory Landscape
Worldwide, more and more regulations are coming down the pipeline to address everything from food waste to plastic use and greenhouse gas emissions. While requirements differ on city and state level, one thing is certain – businesses will be targeted. Governments that want to reduce their carbon footprint, cut waste and save money will look to businesses because they are the largest consumers of electricity and are large producers of waste and recyclables. With more local and national governments setting sustainability goals, you can expect voluntary and mandatory guidelines to affect businesses.
What businesses should do:
Our first advice is to be in compliance and avoid fines, which can balloon. Check your local regulations regularly as laws are updated constantly. And give yourself ample time to prepare before laws go into effect.
Beyond being in compliance, businesses should take the lead in areas that can really make an impact for them. For example, food service businesses can start saying no to single-use plastic straws starting with a simple but effective straws on request policy. Many businesses in the hospitality industry have already started to do this even though they may not be compelled to do so by law. They recognize the benefits this move has amidst the public outcry over plastic pollution. Showing leadership in sustainability will not only benefit your operations but earn you crucial support from customers and the public that could translate into benefits for years to come.
Finally, consider carbon footprint accounting. Even if you do not disclose the data, the insight it provides will give you a better idea of the environment in which your business is operating now, and how that might change and affect your future.
Federal investments in algae cultivation technologies paying big dividends
Algae-derived products and technologies are on the cusp of changing nearly everything. Algae will transform how we eat; will make the materials in your shoes more sustainable; provide fuel for vehicles and planes; recycle greenhouse gases and deliver many more products that have yet to be commercialized.
It sounds like a miracle. Far from it.
There is a reason that algae is poised to make an outsized impact on consumer markets, low-carbon energy and sustainable solutions to global challenges: forward-looking investments in advanced algal technology from the public sector.
While there’s no doubt that venture capital and strategic investments from major companies fuel much growth in the industry, it’s important to recognize the critical role that government funding has played (and still does play) in fueling this sector’s growth.
For decades, agencies like the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and others have been tasked by Congress to support the long-term innovations that will help build a more prosperous America.
The recent wave of investment in algae technologies began in 2007, when Congress and the George W. Bush Administration enacted bipartisan legislation that rekindled an interest in developing advanced biofuels from non-food crops such as algae.
It quickly became apparent that those technologies would have applications in food, animal nutrition and other markets that could be disrupted by the availability of a more sustainable, fast-growing, and nutrient-packed crop.
In the decade since, the federal government’s investments in algae research and commercialization have led to transformational technology advances; game-changing product innovations; and, by our estimate, over $1 billion in private investments in U.S.-based research and development, agriculture and manufacturing infrastructure, and jobs.
More recently, the formalization in 2017 of the Advanced Algal Systems sub-program under The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (DOE/BETO) has further stimulated R&D, and promoted the sharing of results with industry and the public.
Read the full article on the Biofuels Digest website to find out more about the technical and commercialization achievements the have come from federal investments in algae cultivation technologies.
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 Joel Makeover:
Making up our minds, and minding our waste
November 22, 2018
Adapted from GreenBuzz, a weekly newsletter published Mondays.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about waste. Maybe because we’re approaching Black Friday, a day given to shopping for shopping’s sake. (So named because it’s the day of the year when retailers begin to turn a profit — that is, begin being “in the black.”)
Perhaps because we’ve been focusing increasingly on the circular economy, as I wrote last week, when we announced a new event on the topic.
Or maybe it’s simply because stories on the topic seem to be cropping up more regularly on the pages of GreenBiz.
It’s certainly not a new topic for us. Indeed, solid waste and litter have been reliable topics for as long as I’ve reported on corporate sustainability. In the late 1980s, for example, McDonald’s made headlines — and raised eyebrows — when it partnered with the activist environmental group EDF to reduce litter and waste, which at the time was the company’s biggest reputational challenge. That led to of decades of waste-reduction and energy- and water-efficiency measures by the fast-food chain, among many others.
Over the past decade or so, zero-waste factories and facilities have become commonplace, especially in industries such as automotive. We receive so many press pitches about a new zero-waste factory or building that we no longer find them newsworthy. It’s just business as usual.
Why today’s bounty of news about trash? As I noted, the growth of the circular economy, which promises to end the concept of waste through continuous cycles of materials flows, has brought new attention to the decidedly unsexy issues of overconsumption, trash and landfills. The marine pollution caused largely by single-use plastics is another big reason, leading to dozens of corporate and municipal commitments to end it. Food waste is yet another longstanding issue that has gained currency (as we predicted in our 2015 State of Green Business report) as it addresses both global environmental and hunger crises).
And energy waste — in buildings, vehicles, electric grids, supply chains and cities — has been a concern going back decades, although energy’s connection to climate change has helped to amp up renewed interest in energy efficiency recently.
So, we find ourselves confronted with a steady drumbeat of reportage. Witness some of the stories we’ve published recently: about sustainable packaging and its salutary impact on food waste … about a new breed of startup looking to help companies find value in customer returns, warranty repairs and overproduction … about new software enabling companies to “waste nothing” … about policy or industry fixes to eliminating a quarter-trillion wasted plastic bottles a year … about new digital tools to accelerate energy efficiency and prevent food waste … about turning waste carbon gases into aviation fuel … about the potential for companies to support community programs that increase recycling.
All of those in just the past two months. Lots more where those came from, but you get the point.
I’ve long maintained that most corporate sustainability initiatives are actually efficiency measures cast in a green patina. But that’s no longer entirely the case. Increasingly, it’s not just about reducing waste to landfills. A growing number of initiatives aim to create new value from resources that formerly went into dumpsters, smokestacks or drainpipes — the emerging circular economy.
And that shifts the conversation dramatically, from “reducing waste: to “increasing value.” Indeed, the meme “waste into worth” seems to be popping up everywhere on the internet. Even human waste (“fecal sludge”) is a resource that can create energy, fertilizer and other things, according to recent research (an appropriate thought for Nov. 19, World Toilet Day).
Back to Black Friday and the orgy of consumption that follows through the holidays. Every year presents an opportunity to revisit the amount of waste created through all this shopping, wrapping and shipping — but that’s a bah-humbug conversation no one seems to want to have.
Indeed, the idea of consuming less rings hollow for most people, despite the promise a few years back of a “voluntary simplicity” movement aimed at promoting less-consumptive lifestyles. It never really caught on. We are looking to be seduced, it seems, and the marketing world is ready, willing and able to beguile us with its respective psychological pheromones. And so we’ll continue shopping, and wasting, for a long time.
That means it’s up to us — the producers and sellers of all this stuff — to find better ways to make peoples’ dreams come true. To give us the experiences we all want, the status we all seek and the satisfaction we all crave. And to make the joy of holiday giving — and receiving — a true blessing to the world and all that inhabit it.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences
- GreenBiz 19 Conference
The premier annual event for sustainable business leaders. Join more than 1,200 of the world’s brightest thinkers and most influential sustainability leaders for an unparalleled look into the pressing challenges, emerging trends and biggest opportunities in sustainable business today.
February 26-28, 2019 – Phoenix, AZ
Find out more about the GreenBiz 19 Conference and register today.
- Plastics Recycling 2019
Plastics Recycling 2019 is the focal point for the increasingly complex and international plastics recycling industry. The event, now in its 14th year, brings together plastics reclaimers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners, brokers, government officials and leading sustainability voices from around the globe to deepen connections and push the sector forward. Don’t miss out on the industry event of the year.
March 11-13, 2019 – National Harbor, MD
Find out more about why you should attend and how to register for this conference.
EPA ENERGY STAR webinars:
- Ask the Expert
Every other Wednesday at noon, we’ll hold Portfolio Manager “Ask the Expert.” It’s a live webinar that gives all users an opportunity to ask their questions directly to EPA experts in an open forum. Want to talk to a “real” person? Have a question about how Portfolio Manager calculates your score? Want to learn more about entering Green Power? Join us, and we’ll answer all your questions about ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager in this public forum.
December 19 at 12:00 p.m. EST
Portfolio Manager Series
- 201 – December 13 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 – December 18 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.
To view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.