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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
The Power of Sustainability-First Design
For many companies, social responsibility seems to come as an afterthought. But if product developers are onboard, it can become the core of a business. Source: The Atlantic, 5/12/15

2015 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Awards Open for Nominations!
Have you used green chemistry to make an impact in your business, community, or school? You may be eligible for a 2015 Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award if you have designed or implemented an innovative project. Project examples include replacing or reducing a hazardous substance, reducing resource use, enhancing recyclability, or designing a safer chemical product or process. Nominations are due by July 17, 2015. Source: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, 5/12/15

Tenant Star: New national branding label for energy efficiency in commercial spaces
Tenant Star, a multi-year effort envisioned by the Real Estate Roundtable's Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) was signed into law by President Obama recently. It is a significant win for the real estate industry as part of the Energy Efficiency Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). Tenant Star is a voluntary, cost free program to encourage energy efficiency in leased commercial spaces, which can account for 50 percent or more of a building's total energy usage. Designed to spur implementation of cost effective energy efficiency investments and best practices in commercial office spaces, Tenant Star will address a multi-billion dollar energy efficiency opportunity. Source: NRDC Switchboard blog, 4/30/15

NHL seeks sustainability on ice
Think about a typical ice rink and all the energy and resources it requires. There is the need for lighting, restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, heating, cooling and obviously the ice. The NHL has been working to reduce its environmental impact. Many of the same efforts can also be implemented at your local rink. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 5/12/15

The role of collaboration in implementing sustainability solutions
Solutions to sustainability challenges are often best arrived at through collective approaches. But how do networks and events facilitate? Source: The Guardian, 5/12/15

Monday, May 11, 2015
Study: Environmental exposure to hormones used in animal agriculture greater than expected
Research by an Indiana University environmental scientist and colleagues at universities in Iowa and Washington finds that potentially harmful growth-promoting hormones used in beef production are expected to persist in the environment at higher concentrations and for longer durations than previously thought. Source: Indiana University, 5/8/15

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Living with it: Climate change effort shifts
Minnesotans have taken a variety of steps that deal with climate change. But, as in each of these instances, those steps often deal less with reducing carbon emissions than with adapting to change that already has arrived in Minnesota. Source: Minnesota Public Radio, 2/2/15

Conference to Address Threats of E-waste, Toxic Chemicals
Over the next two weeks, 1,500 representatives from 180 countries will seek ways to reduce risks from hazardous chemicals and waste through the sustainable management of these potentially life-threatening substances. Source: Voice of America, 5/4/15

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Feds to require climate change plans for states seeking disaster relief
A new Federal Emergency Management Agency policy requiring states to address climate change before they can become eligible for grant funding is drawing fire from congressional Republicans. Source: The Hill, 5/5/15

Free e-waste recycling too good to be true?
Since Level 3 Recycle opened in Brooklyn two months ago, company owner Chris Fede has spread the word about his firm's free e-waste recycling. While many recyclers charge to handle electronics, others don't even take the items, because doing so costs too much. Is providing free recycling of electronic waste even a sustainable practice? Fede hopes so. If many other companies cannot recycle electronics for free, it's hard for some people to see how Level 3 Recycle can. Source: Waste Dive, 5/4/15

Friday, May 1, 2015
Hotels Embrace Sustainability to Lure Guests and Cut Costs
Hotels have three reasons to pay attention to conservation, according to Steve Jennings, lead consultant for hotels and resorts in the United States at Deloitte: corporate sustainability; better expense management; and consumer interest. Source: New York Times, 4/27/15

University of IL: New campus recycling bins aim to bring waste awareness
In an effort to make campus more eco-friendly and closer to a zero-waste initiative, 20 new recycling bins with standardized signage were installed on the Quad this month, making 30 total recycling/landfill stations. The project was completed by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). According to the project's leader Bart Bartels, technical assistance engineer at ISTC, the center makes recommendations and completes projects aiming to reduce waste emissions on campus. This zero-waste initiative is part of the goal of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), the University's mission to make campus carbon neutral by 2050. Source: The Daily Illini, 4/30/15

A sustainable gem: The sixth Naturally Illinois Expo
This article provides an overview of the Prairie Research Institute's Naturally Illinois Expo, and includes quotes from ISTC's Bart Bartels, Beth Meschewski, and Nancy Holm. It also provides information about the Expo being a zero waste event. Source: The Daily Illini, 4/16/15

Is the UN underestimating US e-scrap activity?
A United Nations-backed study on global e-scrap generation and recovery suggests the U.S. recycling rate for end-of-life electronics and appliances sits at about 15 percent. An analysis of the method used to arrive at that figure, however, raises questions about its accuracy. Billed as "the first comprehensive assessment" of e-scrap volumes throughout the world, the United Nations University-authored Global E-Waste Monitor 2014 estimates 7.8 million tons of end-of-life electronics and appliances entered the U.S. waste stream in 2014. Of that total, the study states, 1.1. millions tons were recovered, resulting in a recovery rate just under 15 percent. Media coverage in the study's wake has painted the U.S and China as the top "dumping" countries in the world. In announcing the release of the study, the United Nations University (UNU) largely echoed that reading of the data, noting "just two countries -- the U.S. and China -- discarded nearly one-third of the world's e-waste in 2014."A closer look at the data reveals while electronics and appliances were included in the study's estimate of U.S. generation of discarded material, only electronics were counted toward the recovery total. In other words, the study used one material classification for the numerator in determining the U.S. recovery rate and a starkly different one for the denominator. The result is a recovery rate that may significantly understate the country's e-scrap activity. Source: Resource Recycling, 4/30/15

Can salt water quench our growing thirst?
An increasingly water-stressed world takes a fresh look at desalination. Source: GreenBiz, 4/28/15

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