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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Construction Begins at a Carbon-Capture Plant, but Will It Ever Be Completed?
A FutureGen project in Illinois aimed at capturing carbon dioxide from a rebuilt coal power plant is threatened by a lawsuit and a deadline. Source: MIT Technology Review, 9/15/14

Retail Horizons: Food shopping in a water-scarce world
The future of food is both exciting and precarious. While technological advances promise changes in what and how we eat, the basic inputs required to make food for humans, such as water and fertile soil, have changed very little. Of these, changes in water availability could have the most drastic impact on the types of foods available to tomorrow's consumer. Source: GreenBiz, 9/17/14

Scientists Use ACS Sci-Mind: Case Study to Examine Biopolymers Industry
The field of Biopolymers is growing rapidly and with that growth comes renewed debate on what exactly constitutes a biopolymer. In addition, in today's fast-paced chemical industry, it is crucial for a scientist to be able to quickly assess real industry issues and have hands-on experience to be able to solve real-world problems. Sci-Mind Biopolymers, launching this October, is bringing together experts from different backgrounds and opinions to help scientists, engineers and business professionals learn more about the latest developments in the field. Source: ACS Green Chemistry blog, 9/10/14

Are sustainability reports driving change or just 'losing the signal'?
The avalanche of corporate sustainability information makes it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff -- or the vitally important from the merely interesting, writes AMD's Tim Mohin. Source: The Guardian, 9/11/14

Personalising climate change through open data and apps
Government-released open data has generated a host of new climate-change related apps, the challenge is to make it clear and usable. Source: The Guardian, 9/11/14

Hospitals Stop Purchasing Furniture with Toxic Flame Retardants
Advocate Health Care, Beaumont Health System, Hackensack University Medical Center, and University Hospitals will stop purchasing furniture treated with toxic flame retardant chemicals. Source: Environmental Leader, 9/11/14

Stewardship 2014 Keynote Speaker challenges attendees to explore product stewardship on a broader level
Jennifer Nash, executive director of the Regulatory Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School, kicked off Stewardship 2014 by challenging attendees to consider what the phrase "product stewardship" truly means to them, both in theory and in practice. In her keynote address, Nash, who also serves as associate director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, urged product stewardship professionals gathered at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio to integrate stewardship more fully into their organizations and actions. Source: ISHN, 9/8/14

Why banning dangerous chemicals is not enough
To feed the world's chemical addiction, production has had to grow rapidly over the last 40 years. Are companies doing enough to make products and processes safer? Source: The Guardian, 9/16/14

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Your Company's Energy Data Is an Untapped Resource
Most companies are unprepared for the emerging revolution in predictive energy analytics. In fact, many readers' eyes will have already glazed over at the preceding sentence, with the natural initial reaction that energy-related data isn't relevant to their jobs. But what happens when every single light fixture in all of your company's facilities becomes a networked mini-computer with an array of sensors? Who at your company will be put in charge of turning buildings operations from a cost center to a revenue center? These examples are not hypothetical capabilities; these are now real options for companies. And yet few corporate managers are asking such questions, much less taking advantage. Source: Harvard Business Review, 9/12/14

Obama seeks faster phaseout of popular coolant in effort to curb greenhouse gases
The Obama administration is preparing to introduce major steps to phase out production of a popular chemical coolant used in refrigerators and air conditioners, citing growing evidence that the substance is contributing to the warming of the planet. Source: Washington Post, 9/16/14

How 3 biodiesel companies defy the odds in a challenging industry
In this P2 Impact article, Donna Walden from WSPPN and Kelsey McCutcheon a graduate student at UNR write about three biofuel companies on the west coast and how biodiesel is good for the environment and the economy. Source: GreenBiz, 9/16/14

How Tennant sought to flourish through innovation
Tennant exemplifies a new breed of business. It competes on environmental performance -- not just the "20 percent less energy and CO2 emissions by 2020" kind, but radical innovation that represents a breakthrough for both customers and investors. Source: GreenBiz, 9/15/14

SEDAC Energy Dashboard Program
Energy dashboards are systems that measure the total energy consumption of a building on a 15 minute to 1 hour interval. These measurements are processed and made available to building operators (and possibly to the public) to facilitate energy management efforts including finding operational or maintenance problems. SEDAC is working through DCEO's Illinois Energy Now Program to install energy dashboards at five public sector clients. The dashboard Program is focused on clients who have received or are in process of going through Retro-Commissioning or a Mini Retro-Commissioning. Source: SEDAC, 9/16/14

Registration Opens for Third Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge
Registration opened on September 2, 2014 for EPA's third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design challenge for college and university students. Student teams and faculty advisors are invited to submit design boards, a project narrative, and a letter of support describing a proposed green infrastructure project for a location on their campus. Registration ends October 3, 2014, and registrants must submit their entries by December 19, 2014. Source: U.S. EPA, 9/16/14

Friday, September 12, 2014
The 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index: Abbott to Woolworths
After an annual review, 46 companies were deleted from the 15-year-old Dow Jones Sustainability World index -- the three biggest (by free-float market capitalization) to be booted were Bank of America, General Electric and Schlumberger. Source: GreenBiz, 9/12/14

Are energy-efficient workplaces healthier? Just Google it
When people talk about the business case for energy-efficient buildings achieved through comprehensive measures like deep energy retrofits, what usually comes to mind first is lower energy bills. However, an increasing number of organizations are recognizing the value beyond energy cost savings that energy-efficient buildings provide. Source: GreenBiz, 9/12/14

No Proof EPA Pollution Prevention Program Works as Claimed: Report
The Environmental Protection Agency has no proof that a key pollution prevention program [Design for the Environment] has cut U.S. use of hazardous materials as claimed, the agency's inspector general said in a report. The agency also can't claim the EPA's pollution prevention program is cost effective because the program doesn't measure cost-effectiveness, the inspector general said in the report released Sept. 9. In response to the report, the EPA said it has removed cost-effectiveness claims from the website describing its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling Program. Source: Bloomberg BNA, 9/10/14

Coffee roaster abuzz with waste prevention strategy
In his article, Justin Lehrer from StopWaste Business Partnership shares how America's Best Coffee Roasting Company has been brewing a strategy to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency, realizing savings along the way. Source: GreenBiz, 9/12/14

Report: EPA Should Use Sustainability Tools, Embrace Collaboration
The EPA should incorporate sustainability tools in its decision making and collaborate with private-sector companies and non-government organizations, according to a report by the National Research Council. Source: Environmental Leader, 9/11/14

Retailers Make 'Minimal Progress' on Carbon Targets
Retailers such as Carrefour, Costco, Ikea, Tesco and Walmart should aim for more comprehensive carbon disclosures and collaborate to define meaningful GHG emissions reduction strategies for the industry, according to Verdantix. Source: Environmental Leader, 9/12/14

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Helping sugarcane growers reduce water waste
The Institute on the Environment's mission is to discover solutions to Earth's most pressing environmental challenges. Kate Brauman, lead scientist of the Global Water Initiative at IonE, is helping bring this mission to life. Her recent research looking at global irrigation patterns is now being used by Bonsucro, an organization working to use less water in the production of sugarcane around the world. IonE communications director Todd Reubold recently sat down with Brauman to hear the story. Source: University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, 8/27/14

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Cities prepare for warm climate without saying so
With climate change still a political minefield across the nation despite the strong scientific consensus that it's happening, some community leaders have hit upon a way of preparing for the potentially severe local consequences without triggering explosions of partisan warfare: Just change the subject. Source: Associated Press via the Contra Costa Times, 9/8/14

Post Toledo crisis, a different approach needed for Great Lakes [Commentary]
An old management cliche is that no one was ever fired for hiring IBM. But the tried and true route that once served corporate America also doesn't serve Great Lakes advocates. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 9/9/14

Does Responsible Consumption Benefit Companies More Than Consumers?
Fair trade coffee and hybrid cars don't solve our environmental and social ills. But they do shift responsibility for big problems to consumers, two researchers argue--leaving businesses and politicians a free pass. Source: Fast Company, 9/9/14

CO2 levels in atmosphere rising at dramatically faster rate, U.N. report warns
Levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record-shattering pace last year, a new report shows, a surge that surprised scientists and spurred fears of an accelerated warming of the planet in decades to come. Source: Washington Post, 9/9/14

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