September, 2020 – Volume 13, Issue 9
Creating Partnerships to Advance Sustainable Packaging
The 44th Annual Governor’s Conference on Energy & the Environment
Innovative Technologies Part 2
Minimizing Water Use in Mechanical/HVAC Systems
Tracking GHG Emissions in Portfolio Manager
Streamline Portfolio Manager Data Entry with Web Services
ENERGY STAR – Portfolio Manager Webinars
The 2020 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) awards
The 2020 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) awards, presented by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR), celebrate the successes of innovators in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainability.
The winner of the P2 Ambassador Award is Mark Rossi.
Mark S. Rossi, PhD, was one of the first employees of the pioneering Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute, where he authored studies and policy recommendations that helped shape the way pollution prevention has been pursued in the United States. His achievements since leaving TURI are considerable. He is one of the creators of the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP), getting manufacturers and retailers to benchmark their progress in chemicals management performance, focusing on reducing potentially hazardous chemicals. The CFP is now used by investors as well as companies. He is the founder of BizNGO, a collaborative of businesses, NGOs, and governments working on safer chemicals and sustainable materials. In addition to popularizing the idea of collaboration for these purposes, BizNGO has given the world such products as the Chemical Alternatives Assessment Protocol and the Plastics Scorecard. Mark may however become best known for his work as co-creator of the GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals, an easy-to-use tool for comparing chemicals for their environmental health and safety, which is now used worldwide by both governments and businesses to identify safer alternatives. https://www.greenscreenchemicals.org/learn/full-greenscreen-method. Customers and investors can now know who is using the screen properly because Mark has led the creation of a product certification program, GreenScreen Certified™.
“Mark’s remarkably positive personality and strong vision are infectious. He projects confidence in the idea that we can do this – we can stop poisoning ourselves. It’s entirely doable”.
Mark is currently Executive Director of Clean Production Action (CPA), an organization that sees its role as translating “the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies NGOs, governments and businesses need to advance green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.
Additional award categories presented included P2 Champion, Multimedia Award, P2 Project, Student of the Year, P2 Educator, and P2 Volunteer along with honorable mentions for each.
UofL students invent new test for water pollution
A team of University of Louisville undergraduate students has invented a new tool for monitoring E.coli bacteria in water sources that could be more efficient and cost effective.
The students, led by junior applied geography (environmental analysis track) major and Grawemeyer Scholar Sam Kessler, invented the tool during a service project with Metropolitan Sewer District, Bernheim Forest and The Nature Conservancy. They volunteered to help monitor, clean up and restore streams in Louisville, including testing them for E.coli bacteria, which is found in biological waste and can sometimes cause disease.
But, the team would have to consistently travel to each site — 10 sites across three different watersheds — at least five times per month to keep pace with the minimum testing required by the Environmental Protection Agency and Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection.
“With our class schedules, going to each of those sites multiple times per month wasn’t going to work for very long,” Kessler said. “We were traveling to some of these sites four times per week in between classes – Beargrass Creek, Bernheim Forest and all over. We needed something more efficient.”
To solve that problem, Kessler said, they invented a now patent-pending tool made from PVC pipe containing a special type of sediment material in mesh bags that can be left in the stream and read just once per month. Kessler believes their tool could dramatically improve the time and cost efficiency of testing.
“This is set-and-forget. You can leave it in the stream or river all month and test once instead of making at least five different trips,” he said. “And, because it’s in the stream all month instead of the isolated tests we currently do, you get more insightful results from a cumulative sample. This research could significantly improve the way we sample water for E.coli.”
Current testing only measures the levels of E.coli at the time of the test, not the days in between tests, Kessler said. For example, if a test on Monday shows no E.coli, the tester would have no way of knowing the stream was polluted the next day. Because the students’ tool can be left in the water all month, he said the result is a more comprehensive, cumulative sample.
“Understanding what makes safe, clean waterways is complex,” said Erin Wagoner, Environmental Partnerships Liaison for Louisville MSD. “From all the ways that land draining to a stream is used, to the chemical composition of the water in the stream, making these connections to improve the health of our waterways is a challenge. Creating a plan and developing a tool to make this process more efficient removes barriers to diagnosing the problems we are all trying to solve.”
While the tool has been tested only with E.coli so far, Kessler sees other potential applications. For example, he is interested in investigating whether it could be used to screen for SARS-CoV-2 by placing the device in wastewater.
“During COVID-19 specifically, limiting the amount of time human personnel are testing in the field is a smart thing to do,” Kessler said. “Maybe this could help.”
Fort Knox Middle High School addition earns LEED Gold Certification
Fort Knox Middle High School has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its recent 52,000-square-foot addition, which was designed by Woolpert. It is the most recent Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school to be certified as LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Woolpert Vice President and Federal Design Practice Leader Doug Brown said the $21 million addition to the Fort Knox, Ky., school earned LEED Gold status by meeting stringent USGBC guidelines on energy efficiency, green building materials and resources, sustainability, environmental quality and innovation. Brown credited DoDEA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for making sustainability a priority.
“There is definitely a push throughout DoD to create sustainable buildings and to set the appropriate tone and prototype for the future,” said Brown, who also served as a U.S. Air Force (USAF) civil engineer officer for eight years. “DoDEA schools not only provide the healthiest environment for students, but the individual school itself acts as a teaching tool—illustrating environmental leadership and stewardship within a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning environment.”
Woolpert Sustainable Design Expert Nadja Turek said the school was designed to be student-centered, participatory and experientially oriented. She cited how exposed features within the Fort Knox design convey the function and application of architecture and engineering systems, and how visibly maximizing natural light, harvesting and managing rainwater, and incorporating recycled materials demonstrate the effectiveness of environmental design.
“As the owner of the school, DoDEA sets the agenda and dictates the importance of building a 21st-century green school,” said Turek, a civil engineer and former USAF captain. “For Fort Knox, the USACE Louisville District followed the DoDEA model of having an open learning environment with individual studios and adaptable areas with operable partitions. They deserve credit along with DoDEA for this achievement because they continually reinforce green building standards and LEED certification as integral to the design process.”
Solar panels are starting to die, leaving behind toxic trash
Solar panels are an increasingly important source of renewable power that will play an essential role in fighting climate change. They are also complex pieces of technology that become big, bulky sheets of electronic waste at the end of their lives—and right now, most of the world doesn’t have a plan for dealing with that.
But we’ll need to develop one soon, because the solar e-waste glut is coming. By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually. While the latter number is a small fraction of the total e-waste humanity produces each year, standard electronics recycling methods don’t cut it for solar panels. Recovering the most valuable materials from one, including silver and silicon, requires bespoke recycling solutions. And if we fail to develop those solutions along with policies that support their widespread adoption, we already know what will happen.
“If we don’t mandate recycling, many of the modules will go to landfill,” said Arizona State University solar researcher Meng Tao, who recently authored a review paper on recycling silicon solar panels, which comprise 95 percent of the solar market.
Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight to electricity. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling also creates new environmental hazards.
Most solar manufacturers claim their panels will last for about 25 years, and the world didn’t start deploying solar widely until the early 2000s. As a result, a fairly small number of panels are being decommissioned today. PV Cycle, a nonprofit dedicated to solar panel take-back and recycling, collects several thousand tons of solar e-waste across the European Union each year, according to director Jan Clyncke. That figure includes solar panels that have reached the end of their life but also those that were decommissioned early because they were damaged during a storm, had some sort of manufacturing defect, or got replaced with a newer, more efficient model.
James B. Beam Institute prioritizes environmental stewardship in UK study of water sustainability
Water is essential to bourbon. Fresh, clean water is what allows the starch in the grains to reach their full potential. As a result, many distilleries were built near natural water sources. Kentucky has plentiful, naturally filtered limestone water in many parts of the state, and stewarding those watersheds is a key priority for the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at the University of Kentucky.
UK scientists are partnering with Beam Suntory to study water sustainability. This includes research at the James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont and Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto. Investing ahead of demand, Beam Suntory was expanding and committed to ensure that the foundation of their product – water – was the best it could be for use in their products, and for the surrounding community.
Lindell Ormsbee is a faculty member in the UK Department of Civil Engineering and the director of the Kentucky Water Resources Institute, housed in the office of the UK Vice President for Research. He’s been involved with the research from the start.
“The bourbon industry mixes their grains with water to produce mash. They also use it in various other parts of the distillation process, and at the end, they typically use water to cut or dilute the alcohol from their barrels to a specific proof. Some of that’s stipulated, based on law and other types of criteria,” Ormsbee said. “They need very clean water, not only from just a health perspective, but they also need to have water that’s not going to impact the taste and odor of their product.”
While the collaborative research between Beam Suntory and the Beam Institute looks at issues with specific distilleries, it also looks at how its operations as well as outside activities impact the local watershed and how to ensure it is properly cared for.
“I think more and more in our society we’re demanding that our products have a sustainable element to them, and so we’re working with the Kentucky bourbon industry to find ways that we can sustain the industry and that we can sustain our natural resources,” said Amanda Gumbert, water quality extension specialist for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “They know it’s an integral element to the work that they do, and they look for ways to be more sustainable.”
Navigating the delicate relationship between distilleries and the surrounding community is important so that everyone can become good environmental stewards. Jason Nally serves as the environmental champion at Maker’s Mark. He believes the environment and water sustainability are important throughout all Beam Suntory’s brands.
“We are trying to make sure we use each drop of water respectfully, and that as rain falls onto our property, the vegetation and soil it encounters is in the best condition possible,” Nally said. “Our partnership with UK grants us access to water scientists, forestry, agronomy, agriculture and horticulture experts. Reaching out to subject matter experts makes us even more confident that we are making the best decisions for our property and this watershed at all times.”
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 Mike Mareen:
The open source movement takes on climate data
As GreenBiz co-founder and Executive Editor Joel Makower wrote earlier this week, many companies are moving to disclose “climate risk,” although far fewer are moving to actually minimize it. And as those tasked with preparing those reports can attest, the process of gathering the data for them is frustrating and complex, especially as the level of detail desired and required by investors becomes deeper.
That pain point was the inspiration for a new climate data project launched this week that will be spearheaded by the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit host organization for thousands of the most influential open source software and data initiatives in the world such as GitHub. The foundation is central to the evolution of the Linux software that runs in the back offices of most major financial services firms.
There are four powerful founding members for the new group, the LF Climate Finance Foundation (LFCF): Insurance and asset management company Allianz, cloud software giants Amazon and Microsoft, and data intelligence powerhouse S&P Global. The foundation’s “planning team” includes World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ceres and the Sustainability Account Standards Board (SASB).
The group’s intention is to collaborate on an open source project called the OS-Climate platform, which will include economic and physical risk scenarios that investors, regulators, companies, financial analysts and others can use for their analysis.
The idea is to create a “public service utility” where certain types of climate data can be accessed easily, then combined with other, more proprietary information that someone might be using for risk analysis, according to Truman Semans, CEO of OS-Climate, who was instrumental in getting the effort off the ground. “There are a whole lot of initiatives out there that address pieces of the puzzle, but no unified platform to allow those to interoperate,” he told me.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming Webinar Training and Events
- Creating Partnerships to Advance Sustainable Packaging
In this webcast, Sun Chemical will share how partnering across the supply chain can help lead to sustainable innovations and drive wider adoption throughout the industry, creating climate solutions while helping to achieve corporate sustainability goals.
October 6, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Register for this online session.
- The 44th Annual Governor’s Conference on Energy & the Environment
This year’s event focuses on the interplay of energy and environmental issues within economic development. Attendees will hear about a wide variety of topics, including economic development opportunities within sustainable agriculture, Kentucky’s business outlook, brownfield redevelopment potential, renewable energy procurement, energy affordability, environmental justice, and regulatory and policy updates from EEC leadership.
October 13, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. EDT
Find out more and register for this two-day online event.
- BOC Level I Training – Kentucky Online Series
BOC online training includes live, instructor-led lecture and project work (7.4 CEUs) in building systems operation and maintenance. Each course in the series is completed in consecutive two-day online training sessions. To graduate from the series, participants must pass a test at the end of each training session and complete five assigned projects, both of which are to be submitted online.
October 13, 2020 through February 9, 2021
Register for this valuable 8 week training series.
EPA ENERGY STAR webinars:
- Innovative Technologies Part 2
Hear about the experiences from two ENERGY STAR partners. Vornado will share how they have piloted technologies such as induction unit valves. Yardi will discuss how they have achieved cost savings and maximized performance using artificial intelligence (AI) to manage sophisticated building controls.
October 8, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT
- Minimizing Water Use in Mechanical/HVAC Systems
Facilities with extensive heating and cooling requirements can still be water-efficient. Optimizing your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system efficiency will help save your facility water, energy, and money. EPA’s WaterSense program will teach you how to reduce water waste in cooling towers and steam boilers, optimize chilled water systems, and address equipment that uses single-pass cooling water.
October 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EDT
- Tracking GHG Emissions in Portfolio Manager
This webinar will provide a closer look at tracking and reporting your GHG emissions using the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool. This is a repeat of the GHG emissions webinar that was held in May 2020.
October 15, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT
- Streamline Portfolio Manager Data Entry with Web Services
In this webinar, you will learn how providers in the marketplace are helping their customers to benchmark in Portfolio Manager using web services – and how you can take advantage of these offerings.
October 28, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. EDT
Portfolio Manager Series
- 101 – October 7, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EDT – 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 – October 21, 2020 at 1:00 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 – October 27, 2020 at 1:00 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.