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Daily Archives: October 9, 2013

This Brick Stores More Carbon Than It Takes To Make It

Read the full story at FastCo.Exist.

The “carbon buster” is made of recycled wood and sequestered incinerator fumes. They aren’t pretty, but you can build a house with it.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Green building

 

Three publications from US Army Engineer Research and Development Center on sampling of soils with metallic residues

Report No: ERDC TR-13-10
Title: Cost and Performance Report of Incremental Sampling Methodology for Soil Containing Metallic Residues (http://acwc.sdp.sirsi.net/client/search/asset/1030100)

Abstract: Objectives of this project were to demonstrate improved data quality for metal constituents in surface soils on military training ranges and to develop a methodology that would result in the same or lower cost. The demonstration was conducted at two inactive small-arms ranges at Fort Eustis, VA, and Kimama Training Site (TS), ID, and at one active small-arms range at Fort Wainwright, AK. The samples included 63 Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) and 50 conventional grab from Fort Wainwright, 18 ISM and 30 grab from Kimama TS, and 27 ISM and 33 grab from Fort Eustis. The variability in metal concentrations as measured with replicate samples and evaluated using percent relative standard deviation (RSD) were less than 10% for all metals using ISM. In contrasts, RSDs were often greater than 50% for conventional replicate grab samples. Calculated mean ISM metal concentrations were statistically greater than the mean for conventional grab samples.

Report No: ERDC TR-13-9
Title: Demonstration of Incremental Sampling Methodology for Soil Containing Metallic Residues (http://acwc.sdp.sirsi.net/client/search/asset/1030080)

Abstract: Objectives of this project were to demonstrate improved data quality for metal constituents in surface soils on military training ranges and to develop a methodology that would result in the same or lower cost. The demonstration was conducted at two inactive small-arms ranges at Fort Eustis, VA, and Kimama Training Site (TS), ID, and at one active small-arms range at Fort Wainwright, AK. The samples included 63 Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) and 50 conventional grab from Fort Wainwright, 18 ISM and 30 grab from Kimama TS, and 27 ISM and 33 grab from Fort Eustis. The variability in metal concentrations as measured with replicate samples and evaluated using percent relative standard deviation (RSD) were less than 10% for all metals using ISM. In contrasts, RSDs were often greater than 50% for conventional replicate grab samples. Calculated mean ISM metal concentrations were statistically greater than the mean for conventional grab samples.

Report no: ERDC TR-13-5
Incremental Sampling Methodology (ISM) for Metallic Residues (http://acwc.sdp.sirsi.net/client/search/asset/1029240)

Abstract: Heterogeneous distribution of metallic residues in surface soils creates unique challenges for collecting soil samples that provide representative and reproducible results. In particular, soils containing metal fragments at military training ranges, such as small-arms ranges, are especially problematic to analyze owing to their large compositional and distributional (i.e., spatial) heterogeneities. The recognition of the heterogeneous nature of energetic residues in surface soils at military training ranges resulted in significant changes to the field sampling and sample processing procedures for energetics as described in United States Environmental Protection Agency (USPEA) SW-846 Method 8330B. The incremental sampling methodology (ISM) of Method 8330B for energetics was modified to develop a similar approach for metals. The approach has been successfully implemented to analyze surface soils with metallic residues at several active and inactive military training ranges. In most cases, ISM produced results more representative and reproducible than results from conventional grab (i.e., discrete) sampling and analysis procedures for surface soils collected from small-arms ranges containing metallic residues.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Chemistry, Metals, Publications

 

Farmers’ markets aren’t enough: doing the right thing is still too expensive

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Everyone loves a farmers’ market. It’s pleasing to wander among the stalls, chat with farmers, sip coffee and mingle with like-minded, ecologically-aware, health-conscious folk who buy local, sustainable and organic and foods. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s this: Bill Keener, who owns a family farm in Sequatchie, Tennessee, and has thousands of pounds of raw milk cheese to sell, can’t make money selling it at the farmers’ market. By the time he pays someone to cut a big wheel of cheese into family-sized wedges, transports the cheese to the market in Chattanooga, about 35 miles away, and staffs a stall for four hours, he’s barely covered the costs of producing his batches of Cumberland, Coppinger and Dancing Fern cheeses. That’s true even though his cheese, which is lovingly made by a French-trained cheesemaker, costs as much as $15 a pound – a lot more than Kraft’s.

Five years since getting into the cheese business, Keener is undeterred, using earnings from his beef and lamb sales to subsidize his creamery.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Agriculture

 

Environmental activism – power without accountability?

Read the full story from The Guardian.

Activists’ emotive soundbites tend to win the PR war over companies’ technical jargon. But while activism is valuable, it’s not always accountable, writes Joseph Zammit-Lucia.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Nonprofit organizations

 

Farmers embrace Big Data to reduce pollution

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

So-called Big Data — the collection and use of gigantic data sets — is much in the news these days. Often, the subject comes up in relation to personal privacy, as with the collection of personal emails and other data by the National Security Agency, or by businesses capturing records of our online activities to improve their ability to get us to buy whatever they are selling.

But Big Data is also a huge deal for the food system and for farmers. As a recent article in the Southeast Farm Press explained, the collection, analysis and use of data is changing how farmers grow our food. This is creating huge opportunities to improve efficiency and generate sustainability benefits, and it’s relieving farmers “of much of the day-to-day guesswork associated with farming.”

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Agriculture

 

Chicago’s Investment in Cleaner, Greener Water

Read the full post at NRDC Switchboard.

Climate change is bringing major changes to our cities right now. Those impacts have been readily visible in Chicago where low levels in Lake Michigan and massive, violent rain storms have twice been complicit in the reversal (or re-reversal) of the Chicago River this year.

Think about it! Twice this year, the waterway coursing through one of the world’s most recognizable skylines ran backwards. It is not the first time this has happened. It certainly won’t be the last—in fact; we can expect it to happen more frequently as we struggle to deal the impacts of climate change on the aging, and often failing, water infrastructure on which this town is built.

Which leads me to a heartening announcement out of Chicago’s City Hall today. Mayor Emanuel announced a dedicated fund of $50 million to be spent over the next five years on green infrastructure—the use of natural or permeable surfaces to capture, collect, hold and filter stormwater, instead of dumping it into the overstressed sewer system. I have not seen the specifics of the new plan yet, but we are BIG believers in green infrastructure at NRDC as a valuable tool to quickly address some of the climate impacts we are already seeing—and doing so in an extremely cost-effective manner.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Local government, Water

 

MPCA water quality report for Mississippi River-Twin Cities shows need for improvement

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has released a water quality monitoring and assessment report for the Mississippi River-Twin Cities Watershed that shows poor water quality throughout much of the watershed. Due to the density of industry, housing and roads, lakes and streams in the watershed are showing signs of stress, such as high levels of bacteria and nutrients, eroding stream banks, and loss of sensitive aquatic species.

The Mississippi River-Twin Cities Watershed encompasses a large portion of the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The watershed is home to more than 1.8 million people across 99 cities, more than 500 species of wildlife and fish, and numerous kinds of aquatic invertebrates.

Highlights of the report:

  • Based on water clarity and levels of algae present, 84 lakes assessed support aquatic recreation, such as swimming and boating, while 87 assessed do not.
  • Fifty-one lakes were found to have fish with high levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and/or PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate). Because of this, fish consumption advisories are recommended for lakes across the watershed.
  • Eight previously impaired lakes have been restored, and are considered healthy.
  • Based on monitoring the amounts and types of fish and bugs found in streams, two streams assessed support aquatic life, while 21 assessed do not.
  • Due to high levels of bacteria, only one stream assessed supports aquatic recreation, while 17 assessed do not.

According to Glenn Skuta, MPCA water monitoring manager, work is already underway to address these issues. “State agencies, watershed management organizations, cities, and local citizens have been working to address these problems to improve and protect the beauty and recreational enjoyment of our lakes and streams in the watershed,” Skuta said. “Dozens of targeted cleanup plans have been completed or are in development to reduce pollution.”

Skuta added that citizens can also help reduce water pollution by cleaning up pet waste, making sure septic systems are up to date, reducing the use of deicers, planting rain gardens or using rain barrels, minimizing application of lawn fertilizers, and cleaning up grass clippings and leaves from paved areas.

In 2010 the MPCA undertook an intensive monitoring effort of the watershed’s surface waters in collaboration with local partners. Nearly 50 stream stations were sampled for fish and aquatic bugs. In 2012, a holistic approach was taken to assess these and other data for a large number of the watershed’s creeks and larger lakes to see whether they are supporting aquatic life, recreation and fish consumption. During this process, 180 lakes and 46 stream reaches were able to be assessed, but not all water bodies monitored were assessed due to insufficient data and modified channel condition.

To view the monitoring and assessment report, visit the MPCA’s Mississippi River-Twin Cities Watershed webpage. This report is one of about 80 being developed over the next decade by the MPCA for all of Minnesota’s major watersheds.

With dollars provided by the Clean Water Fund (from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment), the MPCA conducts and oversees a variety of surface water monitoring activities that support its mission of helping Minnesotans protect the environment. To be successful in preventing and addressing problems, accurate information is needed about the status of Minnesota’s waters, potential and actual threats, options for addressing the threats, and how effective management actions have been. The MPCA’s monitoring efforts are focused on providing that critical information.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Publications, Water

 

Webinar: Promoting Sustainable Landscapes

Tuesday, Nov. 12 2pm-3pm Eastern
Register at http://www.aashe.org/events/webinars/2013-promoting-sustainable-landscapes

Co-hosted by AASHE and the Arbor Day Foundation, this webinar explores the benefits of sustainable campus landscapes and how to build long-lasting support for them by publicizing initiatives, educating and engaging others, and earning recognition locally and nationally. As pointed out in a recent guide about promoting sustainable campus landscapes (published by AASHE in partnership with Arbor Day Foundation), “ultimately, long-term support from administrators, faculty, staff, students and the community will be essential to the implementation and maintenance of sustainable campus landscapes for generations to come.” Representatives at two different institutions will answer questions from the moderator and audience about strategies for successfully engaging others in sustainable landscape efforts, effectively communicating the importance of outdoor spaces, building broad awareness, and other ideas for ensuring support from the campus as well as surrounding community.

Presenters include:

  • Heather Spaulding, Sustainability Leadership & Outreach, Portland State University
  • Mary Sweeney, Program Manager, Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA Project
  • Matthew James, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, South Dakota State University
 

Employing lean principles for safety and sustainability

Read the full story in Metal Finishing.

According to Alison Cook, end user marketing manager UK, Ireland & Benelux at KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL, applying ‘lean’ principles can help companies improve health & safety at work, promote wellness among employees and boost productivity – critical components of a sustainable business.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Lean manufacturing

 

AASHE Seeks Nominations for New Board Members

AASHE is seeking ambassadors who will assist the organization in achieving its mission to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. Responsibilities include staying informed about AASHE’s mission, policies, and programs, as well as about developments in sustainability, higher education, and nonprofit governance; participating in fundraising and serving on board committees, volunteering for assignments, and working collaboratively with staff; and participating actively in the board’s annual evaluation and strategic planning efforts. This year, the call for nominations has been rescheduled for two very important reasons: 1) to allow the AASHE community’s voice at the AASHE 2013 Conference & Expo in Nashville to provide input and dialogue during the nomination process and 2) to provide time for potential governance changes in AASHE’s bylaws that define the selection of new board members. Nominations will be accepted over the next 30 days.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Colleges and universities

 
 
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