News

California and UC Berkeley win $335,000 in U.S. EPA grants to help students and businesses use green technology to design safer consumer products

Posted: September 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $335,000 to the University of California Berkeley and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for projects to help businesses and manufacturers reduce hazardous chemicals in consumer products and to train a new generation of engineers, chemists, and product designers to use green chemistry for safer products.

“UC Berkeley and DTSC are exploring innovative tools and technologies to make consumer products safer and more environmentally friendly,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By promoting green chemistry during product design, companies can reduce costs, increase market opportunities and operate more sustainably.”

UC Berkeley’s Center for Green Chemistry received a $230,915 pollution prevention grant to create “Greener Solutions: an Interdisciplinary Safer Design Partnership,” providing student training in green chemistry and helping businesses reduce their use of hazardous chemicals. UC Berkeley will develop a for-credit course to teach 25 students per year in using green chemistry techniques to solve real-world business problems. Students will apply their green training to help five companies find ways to reduce hazardous chemicals and products in their supply chains. UC Berkeley will share innovations from these projects through training materials and pollution prevention case studies.
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EPA Announces Grant Opportunities to Reduce Diesel Emissions at Ports

Posted: September 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA announced the availability of up to $5 million in grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.

“Communities surrounding ports often face serious air quality and other environmental challenges, “ said Janet McCabe,  Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “By working with fleet owners to replace or update older equipment with cleaner technologies, we can find collaborative solutions that foster both economic growth and improve public health.”

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM).  These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, and other respiratory ailments.  Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions.  Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports will produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area.

This is the second grant competition to focus on reducing emissions at ports under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Under this competition, EPA anticipates awarding between two and five assistance agreements. Applicants may request up to $2 million in funding toward eligible projects. Port authorities, governmental or quasi-governmental public agencies that operate ports, and state and local governments with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality are eligible to apply. Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible applicants.  Projects may include drayage trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and cargo handling equipment at marine or inland water ports.  Funding is limited to projects at ports located in areas of poor air quality, as determined by the Administrator.  The list of eligible areas for this RFP can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/documents/fy14-ports-county-area-list.pdf.

All proposals must be received by December 11, 2014. For more information and to access the Request for Proposals and other documents, please visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.


D.E.A. to Allow Return of Unused Pills to Pharmacies

Posted: September 16, 2014
Source: The New York Times, Health
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

Concerned by rising rates of prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Monday that it would permit consumers to return unused prescription medications like opioid painkillers to pharmacies.

The move is intended to help reduce stockpiles of unneeded medicines in homes, which are often pilfered by teenagers. Under the new regulation, patients and their relatives will also be allowed to mail unused prescription drugs to an authorized collector using packages to be made available at pharmacies and other locations, like libraries and senior centers.

The new regulation, which will go into effect in a month, covers drugs designated as controlled substances. Those include opioid painkillers like OxyContin, stimulants like Adderall and depressants like Ativan.

Until now, these drugs could not legally be returned to pharmacies. The Controlled Substances Act allowed patients only to dispose of the drugs themselves or to surrender them to law enforcement.

“This is big news and long overdue,” said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s baffling that it’s so easy to get a prescription for opioids and yet so difficult to dispose of these drugs safely.”

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Symposium: Assessing and Managing Toxic Risk from Alternative VOC Compound

What:      Symposium: Assessing and Managing Toxic Risk from Alternative VOC Compound

Where:      SCAQMD Headquarters in Diamond Bar, California

When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Link for more details.

In the ongoing effort to meet more stringent federal ozone standards, the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Head, California continues to seek VOC emissions reductions from stationary and area sources in the South Coast Air Basin.

One strategy to achieve this goal is to continue to lower limits on the VOC content of coatings, solvents, adhesives, sealants, lubricants, inks and other VOC containing products. Manufacturers have responded by reformulating their products to meet new VOC limits, in many cases using alternative compounds that have been exempted from the definition of VOC. These exemptions are based primarily on evidence that the compound does not significantly contribute to ozone formation, but may also consider other factors such as toxicity and climate impacts.

Recently, the SCAQMD has been faced with a variety of issues regarding the potential toxic risk posed by compounds proposed for exemption, or otherwise anticipated to have increased use, when proposed rules are analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). These issues include aspects of both risk assessment and risk management.

This symposium will include presentations from experts from the regulatory, industrial, academic, and environmental communities exploring these critical issues from different perspectives. The objective is to provide SCAQMD with expert advice and potential future direction regarding the analysis and mitigation of potential toxic risks associated with alternative VOC compounds. Please use the following link to sign up for the mailing list for this symposium (please note, the webpage does not display properly in Internet Explorer version 9 or earlier): 
http://www.aqmd.gov/home/regulations/compliance/vocs/optintoxsymp


Pollution Prevention – The Clear Choice of Environmental Sustainability

2014 P2 Week Poster-2

Pollution Prevention Week begins the third Monday in September each year. The week is an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and government to emphasize and highlight their pollution prevention and sustainability activities and achievements, expand current pollution prevention efforts, and commit to new actions.

Pollution Prevention Week is the time when businesses, environmental groups and citizens can join forces for a common cause. By sharing information about pollution prevention (P2), businesses can become more competitive, businesses and government can realize cost savings, and environmental quality can be enhanced.

NPPR prepared a toolkit to assist organizations in their planning and communication for Pollution Prevention Week. This toolkit contains ideas for social media messages, links to websites with information about safe chemicals, sample press releases, recipes for home cleaning and alternative yard care. Here are the themes for each day of the week:

  • Day 1 – P2 and Clean Air
  • Day 2 – P2 Results
  • Day 3 – EPA and green house gases
  • Day 4 – Energy Efficiency and Renewables
  • Day 5 – Climate Change

Download the P2 Week Toolkit.


NV Energy Leading the EV Charge

Posted: September 8, 2014
Source: Energy Manager Today.com author: Karen Henry

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has released a report showing that NV Energy is a leader in the Southwest and the nation in promoting clean electric vehicle transportation.

Through its Shared Investment Program, NV Energy has facilitated the installation of nearly half the public electric vehicle charging stations in the state. Since 2009, the utility has offered a special electric vehicle billing rate that encourages people to charge their cars late at night, when demand is at its lowest and power plants typically are underutilized.

Customers in Northern Nevada, for example, who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am, pay 6.3 cents per kWh compared to the normal residential rate of 10.2 cents. In Southern Nevada, where electricity use spikes during the hot summer months, EV drivers who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am pay about 7 cents per kWh in summer and about 5 cents in winter compared to normal residential rates of 12 cents.

According to the report, “NV Energy: Leading the Way on Electric Vehicles,” electric vehicles are the cleanest transportation option in Nevada. About 66 percent of Nevada’s electricity was produced by natural gas in 2013. The remaining electricity generation comes from coal and renewable energy. Legislation passed in 2013 puts the utility on a path to retire 550 MW of coal-fired electricity generation in 2014 and another 250 MW by 2017, making Nevada a leader in the Southwest in moving away from coal and toward more renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas.

NV Energy developed its Shared Investment Program to improve range confidence and provided $500,000 to help fund new electric vehicle charging stations around the state. During 2013, the utility partnered with private and public sector entities to set up 133 individual charging ports at more than 47 locations statewide.

Employers who provide charging to their employees were also eligible to participate in the program. NV Energy offered partners up to $7,000 off the cost of a dual port charger, about half the cost.

The report comes as good news to NV Energy, which saw its energy-efficiency programs decline in 2013.


Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Announces 2014 Fourth Quarter Training Schedule

Posted: August 22, 2014
Source: Body Shop Business.com

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has announced its latest courses and training sites for the fourth quarter 2014, with the suite of courses available from Oct. 6 through Dec. 15.

Participants will learn through a combination of classroom, digital and hands-on settings at the various metropolitan Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes training centers. Training is designed for and available to shop owners, managers, painters and technicians, all of whom can also choose to advance their business-building, production excellence and/or paint application techniques as needed.

The following hands-on, paint and processes application-based courses will be offered during the fourth quarter:

• AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System
• Color Adjustment and Blending
• Painter Certification

Additional shop management and business-building courses will also be offered:

• Improving Performance with KPIs
• Achieving Service Excellence
• Estimating Solutions for Profit

“All of our courses this year reflect the Sherwin-Williams philosophy of lean operations,” says Rod Habel, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes director of training operations. “We’re always seeking to introduce concepts that support sustainable practices, increase productivity and minimize or even eliminate waste – all factors that are necessary to the success of a collision center.”

The upcoming curriculum has a strong emphasis on the company’s AWX Performance Plus waterborne coatings technology. According to Sherwin-Williams, the system provides excellent color match, quick flash times between coats and requires minimal time in, or even eliminates, the baking cycle. Other classes focusing on painting excellence, including hands-on application techniques, include its ULTRA 7000, Dimensions and ATX refinish systems, as well as its Genesis fleet refinishing systems.


More information:View training schedule


Grain Harvest Fact Sheet

Posted: August 19, 2014
Source: Earth Policy Release

With grain providing much of the calories that sustain humanity, the status of the world grain harvest is a good indicator of the adequacy of the food supply.

More than 2 billion tons of grain are produced each year worldwide, nearly half of it in just three countries: China, the United States, and India.

Corn, wheat, and rice account for most of the world’s grain harvest. Whereas rice and most wheat are consumed directly as food, corn is largely used for livestock and poultry feed, and for industrial purposes.

Global grain consumption has exceeded production in 8 of the last 14 years, leading to a drawdown in reserves.

Population growth is the oldest source of increasing grain demand. In recent years, the annual growth in grain use has doubled, largely a result of increased use for fuel ethanol and livestock and poultry feed.

In 2013, the United States harvested more than 400 million tons of grain. Of this, 129 million tons (30 percent) went to ethanol distilleries.
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Recycling old car batteries into solar cells: Environmental twofer could recycle lead batteries to make solar cells

Date: August 18, 2014
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at MIT recycles materials from discarded car batteries — a potential source of lead pollution — into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

The system is described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others. It is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” says Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. But by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades.

Amazingly, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.
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Hawaii Green Business Awards

Hawaii_State_SealThe state of Hawaii honored 13 businesses and nine events for their outstanding and innovative clean energy efforts at the 2014 Hawaii Green Business Awards held July 11, 2014 in Honolulu. The awards were presented by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and hosted by the Hawaii State Energy Office of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), Department of Health and The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. The annual awards program recognizes achievements by Hawaii businesses and entities in the area of energy efficiency.

The honorees of the 2014 Hawaii Green Business Awards are:

  • Aqua BambooWaikiki Hotel
  • Aqua Kauai Beach Resort
  • Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
  • Hawaii Island Retreat
  • Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club
  • Outrigger Reef on The Beach
  • The Equus Hotel
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
  • Wyndham at Waikiki Beach Walk
  • Blue Hawaii Lifestyles
  • Honeywell Smart Grid Solution
  • MonkeyPod Kitchen at Ko’olina
  • The Limtiaco Consulting Group

The Hawaii Green Business Awards also honored nine green events held in 2014:

  • Build and Buy Green Conference at Hawaii Convention Center and University of Hawaii Cancer Center Sullivan Center 2013 & 2014
  • TEDx “Disruptive Leadership” & “Cultivating Community”
  • Hawaii Innovation Workshop by travel2change
  • Hawaii Sustainability in Higher Education Summit
  • Green Apple Day of Service – USGBC Hawaii
  • Kamehameha Schools’ Sustainability Council Retreat #2-KYA
  • KYA Holiday Party 2013
  • ILFI Water Petal Event-KYA
  • Loco Kine Valentine by Sweetbreads

Click here for the State of Hawaii press release and a description of the awardees and their energy efficiency accomplishments.