BioCycle November 2008, Vol. 49, No. 11, p. 6
NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR LANDSCAPE SUSTAINABILITY AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) – an interdisciplinary partnership working to foster a positive transformation in land development and management practices – has released the report, “Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks Draft 2008,” for public comment. The report represents over 24 months and 4,000 volunteer hours dedicated to developing clear criteria for sustainable landscape practices in the areas of hydrology, soil, materials, human health and well being, and vegetation. The U.S. Green Building Council, a major stakeholder in the Initiative, anticipates incorporating the benchmarks into future versions of the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. SSI is a partnership between ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden.
The draft provides more than 50 prerequisites and credit options that cover everything from initial site selection design to construction and maintenance. Previous efforts to address sustainable practices in the design and construction industry mostly focused on buildings. The lack of focus on sustainable landscapes has left major economic, political and environmental issues unsolved. For example, the report notes, “At a time when water usage in the United States is up 209 percent since 1950, irrigation of unsustainable landscapes accounts for more than a third of residential water use – more than 7 billion gallons per day nationwide.” The report offers new, powerful tools to address this and other important problems.
“Whether the site is a transportation corridor, shopping mall, park, large subdivision or a single home, landscapes hold the unique potential to create a net improvement to the sustainability of the area,” says Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “This new report finally creates a way to measure and recognize those efforts.”
The Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks Draft 2008 is available for free download at www.sustainablesites.org/report. Public review and comment is essential to the successful development of these guidelines and performance-based benchmarks. The public comment period will close January 20, 2009.
GREEN JOBS REPORT SHOWS INCREASE IN RECYCLING-RELATED EMPLOYMENT
The North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance’s (DPPEA) Recycling Business Assistance Center released a study showing continual growth in the state’s recycling industry. The state currently has 14,490 private sector recycling-related jobs, an increase of 13.4 percent since 2003.
North Carolina recycling businesses currently support an annual payroll of $376,890,000; 45 percent of the businesses surveyed report that they anticipate creating more recycling jobs over the next two years. No single recycled commodity dominates the market, but rather recycling businesses target a wide variety for collection, processing and utilization in manufacturing. For more information on DPPEA and the full report, visit www.p2pays.org.
CLIMATE FRIENDLY FUEL IN UNITED KINGDOM TRIAL
A six-month trial was recently announced with the installation of London, England’s first biogas refueling station to demonstrate the use of liquid biomethane fuel in commercial vehicles. The biomethane will be made from landfill gas. The trial is a collaboration between the Camden Council, site of the fueling station, Gasrec, commercial producer of the fuel, Veolia Environmental Services, UK’s largest waste management company, and Iveco, commercial vehicle manufacturer.
The fueling station is installed at Camden Council’s York Way depot, and will be used to fuel a commercial street cleaning vehicle for its 60-mile/day route. If successful, the council may fuel vehicles from its own fleet on biomethane. The trial demonstrates the suitability of compressed biomethane for back-to-base fleet operations, and allows for the evaluation of a scalable project for biomethane fuel.
CODIGESTER GREENHOUSE GAS PROTOCOLS
The California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) is developing the Co-Digestion Protocol – its first organic waste diversion project protocol. The California Registry is a private nonprofit organization, originally formed by the State of California, which develops standardized protocols for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction projects. Because this is the Registry’s first foray into the organic waste diversion sector, it was hosting a public meeting in mid-November for all interested stakeholders to discuss development of the protocol. “The Co-Digestion Protocol will provide an accurate GHG accounting methodology for GHG reduction projects that co-digest (alongside manure waste) organic waste streams that otherwise would have gone to anaerobic treatment/disposal systems such as solid waste landfills, anaerobic lagoons, and wastewater treatment facilities,” notes a CCAR announcement of the meeting. “Codigestion projects will prevent the release of methane to the atmosphere by capturing and combusting methane gas. This kick-off meeting will also provide an opportunity for discussion of other possible project activities related to organic waste diversion since the baseline calculation methodology for co-digestion activities will likely be relevant to other project activities in the organic waste diversion sector.” Stakeholders targeted include dairy and agricultural industries; wastewater and waste management industries; waste diversion and environmental advocacy organizations; project developers; academia; and local, state, and federal agencies. BioCycle will report on outcomes of the meeting in an upcoming issue. To contact CCAR, visit www.climateregistry.org.
NEW EPA REQUIREMENTS TO CONTROL MANURE, WASTEWATER FROM CAFOS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its revised rules for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) at the end of October. EPA estimates the CAFO regulations will prevent 56 million pounds of phosphorus, 110 million pounds of nitrogen and 2 billion pounds of sediment from entering streams, lakes and other waters annually. This is the first time EPA has required a nutrient management plan (NMP) for manure to be submitted as part of a CAFO’s Clean Water Act permit application. Previous rules required a CAFO operator to use an NMP for controlling manure. The new regulation builds on that by requiring the NMP to be submitted with the permit application. The plan will be reviewed by the permitting authority and conditions based on it will be incorporated as enforceable terms of the permit. The proposed NMP and permit will be available for public review and comment before going final. These regulations will become effective 14 days after being published in the Federal Register.
The regulation also requires that an owner or operator of a CAFO that actually discharges to streams, lakes, and other waters must apply for a permit under the Clean Water Act. If a farmer designs, constructs, operates and maintains their facility such that a discharge will occur, a permit is needed. EPA is also providing an opportunity for CAFO operators who do not discharge or propose to discharge to show their commitment to pollution prevention by obtaining certification as zero dischargers. In addition, the final rule includes technical clarifications regarding water quality-based effluent limitations and use of best management practices to meet zero discharge requirements, as well as affirms the 2003 rule requirement for reducing fecal coliform through the use of best conventional technology. The rule deadline for newly defined facilities to apply for permits is February 27, 2009. For information on the concentrated animal feeding operation rule go to: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/caforule.
WHOA! COAL INDUSTRY CLAIMS RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPPLY INADEQUATE
Sometimes, the press releases we receive make us scratch our heads at the amount of corporate PR spinning that goes on these days. This one from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a partnership of companies involved in producing electricity from coal, is a doozy. It discusses a new report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation titled “The Electric Industry Concerns on the Reliability Impacts of Climate Change Initiatives.” Notes Joe Lucas, ACCCE’s vice president of communications: “What this study correctly suggests is that reducing the use of coal-fired power plants as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could significantly reduce the reliability of North America’s electricity supply system. To protect reliability and increase energy independence, we need to invest in technology that will allow us to continue using our most abundant energy resources.” The study claims that the current transmission infrastructure is ill-equipped to deliver ample power from renewable energy sources to demand centers. Adds Lucas: “Renewable solutions such as wind, solar and hydro-electricity will be an integral part of our energy supply going forward. However, most renewable resources will be used to complement base-load fuel resources like coal, not as a substitute.”
CAMPUS DINING HALLS ELIMINATE TRAYS, AIM FOR ZERO WASTE
ARAMARK Higher Education conducted a study of 186,000 meals at 25 universities that eliminated trays from dining services, estimating that there was a 25 to 30 percent reduction in food waste per person. ARAMARK estimates that 50 to 60 percent of its 500 campus partners will go trayless in the next school year. In a complementary study, over 92,000 students, faculty and staff were surveyed from 300 institutions, and 79 percent said they would support trayless dining. Besides avoided food waste, there are significant water and energy savings by eliminating trays.
Examples of recent adopters include Oberlin College in Ohio and Portland State University (PSU) in Oregon. PSU, in partnership with ARAMARK, recently announced plans for its Ondine Hall cafeteria to become a zero waste facility. It composts all food waste and napkins, diverting 41.8 tons last year. It also recycles used cooking oil, which an Oregon biodiesel producer will convert to fuel. All cans, glass, plastic containers and cardboard are recycled, and a new system is being set up to recycle plastic wrap and film. Bulk containers are used for condiments as well.
“By adhering to these zero waste practices, we can further reduce and ultimately eliminate all trash at the PSU dining hall,” says Laura Weiss, ARAMARK’s Regional Sustainability Manager. “It will take some time to fully divert all waste from the landfill, but given how much trash we’re already diverting, we are well on our way to achieving the goal of zero waste in the future.”
GLOBAL WARMING RISKS OUTWEIGH FINANCIAL CRISIS
An item in the Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s (EESI) October newsletter discusses comments by Sir Nicholas Stern, former British Treasury economist and author of the 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, about global risks from climate change versus the current financial crisis. “The risk consequences of ignoring climate change will be very much bigger than the consequences of ignoring risks in the financial system,” including a loss of up to one-fifth of world Gross Domestic Product and “extreme” conflict.
Drawing an analogy between the current financial crisis and the potential effects of climate change, Stern noted, “One thing we should have learned from this experience of the financial crisis is if we ignore risk building in the system, that risk will get much more difficult to manage than if we recognize it and tackle it early.” These statements came at a climate and carbon conference in Hong Kong, where Stern suggested that governmental efforts to stimulate the national economies can simultaneously focus on promoting the development of climate-friendly industries and green technologies. EESI’s monthly newsletter can be accessed at www.eesi.org.
INCENTIVE-BASED RECYCLING SPREADS ACROSS U.S.
RecycleBank, an incentive-based recycling program headquartered in New York City, announced a strategic expansion across the U.S. States where it anticipates launching programs include Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Kansas, New Mexico and Tennessee. RecycleBank’s approach is to boost recycling participation rates by rewarding residents with points for every pound recycled (see “Encouraging Sustainable Recycling Behavior Through Financial Incentives,” December 2007). Residents’ recycling carts are equipped with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, read by the recycling truck when the cart is weighed. The weight of recyclables translates to points, which residents redeem online or via a toll-free number for groceries, healthcare products, movies, etc. On average, households receive $200 to $300/year in reward value.
PEAT MOSS ALTERNATIVE FROM ANAEROBIC DIGESTION BY-PRODUCT
Microgy, Inc., a subsidiary of Environmental Power Corporation, recently entered into a strategic partnership with Organix, Inc. to produce a peat alternative using solids recovered from selected Microgy anaerobic digestion facilities. Organix, based in Walla Walla, Washington, uses a patent pending FibeRite system to convert digested dairy manure solids into a peat moss substitute called RePeet.
A typical large-scale Microgy Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) facility is expected to produce 40,000 to 70,000 cubic yards/year of RePeet from digested materials.