BioCycle November 2007, Vol. 48, No. 11, p. 6
Comments Requested On Sustainable Sites Draft Report
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) is developing national, voluntary standards and guidelines for sustainable land development and management practices, as well as metrics to assess site performance and a rating system to recognize achievement. SSI is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and a diverse group of national stakeholder organizations. The U.S. Green Building Council, a major stakeholder in the initiative, has committed to incorporating these guidelines and standards into the future evolution of the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.
The initiative is in the process of developing the Standards and Guidelines for Sustainable Sites – a compilation of current research, technology and practices to provide technical guidance and performance benchmarks. The Preliminary Report on the Standards and Guidelines (http://www.sustainablesites.org/report.html) was released for public comment on November 1, 2007. The public comment period will be open until January 11, 2008. Notes the introduction to the report: “Landscapes provide valuable services such as climate regulation, clean air and water, and improved quality of life. However, conventional land practices often limit, rather than enhance, the ability of landscapes to provide these important services. The Sustainable Sites Initiative was founded to address this concern and investigate and define sustainability in land development and management practices.”
Chapter 3 of the report describes the role of soils, hydrology, vegetation and materials “in providing essential services to humankind and other organisms – ecosystem services.” This chapter also identifies current land practices that can degrade or prevent a site from providing ecosystem services. Chapter Four describes land practices that maximize benefits from soils, hydrology, vegetation, and materials and enhance human well-being. Goals are established in each section, along with strategies and potential tools to implement the practices. Names familiar to the BioCycle community have been involved in developing the draft of this report, including Nora Goldstein (BioCycle), Jean Schwab (USEPA Greenscapes Program) and Elaine Ingham (Soil Foodweb, Inc.).
The purpose of releasing the report at this time is to provide a snapshot of the first findings of the Initiative with the intention of collecting feedback from professionals and stakeholders to ensure that the SSI products are relevant to those who influence land practices. An online feedback form (http://www.sustainablesites.org/questionnaire.html) is available to submit comments on the preliminary report. Questions can be directed to email@example.com.
EPA Offers Recycling And Solid Waste Management Educational Series
The U.S. EPA hosts the Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) Web Academy, a lecture series where the public can learn directly from national experts about various aspects of waste management, in an effort to create more successful programs. The educational series has guest speaker lectures and discussions through a conference call, supplemented by online Power Point presentations. The RCC seeks to conserve natural resources and energy by reducing waste, reducing toxic chemicals in waste and encouraging reuse and recycling.
Nora Goldstein, Executive Editor of BioCycle, presented in October on the topic of Organics Management, providing a detailed examination of resource recovery in the U.S. and Canada. Other topics to be discussed in the series include (but are not limited to) Climate and Waste, Single vs. Dual Stream Collection, Construction and Demolition Recycling, Packaging and Recycling, Recycling in Schools/Curriculum and Using Incentives to Promote Recycling. The presentations are on the third Thursday of each month, are 1-1/2 hours long and start at 1:00 pm Eastern Time. For more information and to register (free of charge), visit: http://www.epa.gov/region1/RCCedu.
BioCycle West Coast Conference In 2008 To Describe Hamilton, Ontario Compost Site
The city of Hamilton, Ontario opened an in-vessel aerobic composting facility that processes 66,000 tons with a peak capacity of 99,000 tons per year of organics collected from 150,000 households. Part of a municipal goal to divert 65 percent from the landfill, this site will be described at the BioCycle West Coast Conference to take place in San Diego April 14-16, 2008. The highly automated facility loads feedstock into compost tunnels via a robot, is built to meet European regulations that require finished compost to be kept separate from incoming feedstock and has one of the largest biofilters constructed for a composting plant. The technology was developed by the Christiaens Group in the Netherlands and is currently in use at 30 facilities in Europe. See the announcement in this issue about the West Coast Conference agenda.
Vineyards In Australia Use Wine Sludge Compost As Fertilizer
Sludge from wine production in South Australia could be turned into compost to fertilize vineyards. The Flinders University Bioremediation unit, in conjunction with a Riverland compost company called Kaloranoo and local wineries, are investigating the feasibility of utilizing the unwanted sludge. Liquid waste from distillation during brandy making is also being studied. Several vineyards in the region have shown interest in sourcing good quality mulch and compost for their vines, to save water and improve soil quality. According to Dr. Richard Stewart, general manager of Flinders Bioremediation, the region has some of the largest wineries in Australia and the potential is enormous. Says Stewart: “If we are able to incorporate the grape marc being stockpiled or composted, in ten years’ time, it may be possible that all winery solid waste can be recycled. This scenario may be replicated across the whole industry in Australia and globally because winemaking processes and waste streams are fundamentally similar.”
West London Composting Becomes Europe’s Largest In-Vessel Site
West London Composting (WLC) – the United Kingdom’s largest in-vessel facility – is planning substantial expansion that when completed will be Europe’s largest facility. Currently, 50,000 tons of waste are accepted. The new site by the Composting Company Ltd. will have a second reception building and 16 additional high-tech vessels – each with a sealed roof system and biofilter for odor control. The 16 vessels will become “Barrier 1″ for processing newly shredded material only; waste must reach 60°C for two consecutive days prior to being moved to “Barrier 2.” There the process is repeated before material is transported to WLC’s maturation site. As reported in Autumn 2007 of Britain’s Composting News, Barrier 1 will be surrounded by native trees and shrubs providing the site “with an imaginative and picturesque landscape.”
Lack Of Toilets Has Impact On 2.6 Billion People
According to the World Health Organization, 40 percent of the globe – comprising 2.6 billion people – have no access to hygienic toilets. Instead they must use latrines, outhouses, buckets – or simply the bushes or rivers nearby. The World Toilet Summit, which was recently held in New Delhi, is an attempt to improve the problem by drawing attention to it and pushing for better sanitation technologies. Diarrhea kills 1.6 million children each year – more than malaria; pollution of drinking water with waste is a principal cause.
Worldwide Reports On Sustainable Agriculture
Published by the Centre for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture – LEISA magazine – regularly covers such issues as “Farming with Biodiversity,” “More Than Money – and other Economic Aspects,” “Transforming The Land,” and much more. More than 20 years ago, this Centre began writing about ways to improve productivity and income in an ecologically sound way – with safe and efficient use of inputs. It seeks to combine indigenous and scientific knowledge, as well as influence policy formulation to create an environment conducive for further development. “LEISA is a concept, an approach and a political message.” To subscribe, write to LEISA, PO Box 2067, 3800 CB Amersfoort, The Netherlands or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit: www.leisa.info.
Investigation Underway Of Five Energy Companies In Fight On Climate Change
Environmental reasons caused five energy companies to get subpoenas for their plans to build coal-fired power plants whose main emission, carbon dioxide, has been linked to global warming. The five companies – whose internal documents are sought in the fight on climate change – are AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynergy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy. “It is rare for a securities law to be used for an environmental purpose, in this case the fight against new coal-fired power plants,” writes The New York Times. With the subpoenas, New York State’s attorney general Andrew Cuomo sent letters asking whether investors received adequate details about the potential financial liabilities of carbon dioxide.
The letters stated that regulatory initiatives for CO2 emissions from power plants – such as state carbon controls, EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act, or federal global warming laws – would add a significant cost to carbon-intensive coal generation. Cuomo’s move is considered a new tactic in expanding the campaign against the 100 coal-fired power plants under consideration. Katherine Kennedy – special deputy attorney general in the environmental protection section who worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council for 19 years – said that power plants generated about 30 percent of carbon emissions in the U.S.
For five years, eco-oriented shareholder groups have been filing resolutions forcing the disclosure of more information in search of similar disclosures – including one with Peabody Energy.
The national anti-coal campaign is directed by a coalition of environmental groups, shareholders, activists, as well as officials in the Northeast and on the West Coast. “The concept here,” explains Cuomo, “is using the securities laws to investigate whether the economic risks of these plants are being disclosed – the economic risks which are dovetailing with the environmental concerns.”
California Agriculture Reports More Flavonoids In Organic Tomatoes
Tomatoes grown organically at the University of California Davis Long-Term Research on Agricultural Systems (LTRAS) had significantly higher levels of two important antioxidants. As reported in California Agriculture (Oct.-Dec., 2007), this is the first time a study has shown “well-qualified changes in tomato nutrients over a period of years in organic farming systems.” The lead author is Alyson Mitchell of the Department of Food Science at UC Davis.
Dried tomato samples were collected between 1994 and 2004 from LTRAS plots, a 100-year project that began in 1993 to compare organic, sustainable and conventional practices. The organic tomatoes had significantly higher (P < 0.05) levels of the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol; the 10-year mean levels were 79 percent and 97 percent higher, respectively, than those in conventionally grown tomatoes.
Fruits and vegetables are a primary source of flavonoids and other antioxidants in the diet. Epidemiological studies suggest that they may protect people who eat more produce against cardiovascular disease and, to a lesser extent, against cancer and age-related diseases such as dementia.
In this study, the levels of flavonoids increased over time in samples from organic treatments, whereas flavonoids did not vary significantly in conventional treatments. “This increase corresponds not only with increasing amounts of soil organic matter accumulating in the organic plots but also with reduced manure application rates once soils in the organic systems had reached equilibrium levels of organic matter,” Mitchell and coauthors wrote.
The authors theorized that over time, plants grown in organically managed soils – those treated with compost, manure and cover crops, rather than synthetic fertilizers – can devote more energy to producing flavonoids and may be less susceptible to pest pressures.
Crumb Rubber From Tires Filters Wastewater
Environmental engineering professor Yuefeng Xie of Penn State University has developed a method that uses crumb rubber to filter wastewater; the crumb rubber is produced by chopping and grinding waste tires to a desired size, cleaning the rubber and removing metal particles. It is currently used in highway pavement, playgrounds, compost bulking agents, energy recovery and artificial reefs.
Several of Xie’s studies showed that the crumb rubber filter is more cost-effective than conventional sand or anthracite filters. Because crumb rubber is compressible, porosity of the particles is decreased, and can be used at higher filter rates while performing similarly to other media. The media provide better effluent qualities and larger media allow longer filter runs at higher flow rates. This report appeared in Resource, published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.