Conservation projects on track to score $1 billion

April 13, 2022 by  
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The new America the Beautiful Challenge will help tribes, territories, states and NGOs apply for grants for  conservation  projects. The Biden administration plans to use the new $1 billion program to help reach its goal of conserving 30% of U.S. waters and lands by 2030. Over the next five years, an initial $440 million will fund the challenge. The  Biden  administration hopes that philanthropic and private donations will boost America the Beautiful to its $1 billion target. Related: Supreme Court ruling could derail Biden’s climate plans The program “will help mobilize new investments in locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration projects across the country, while making it easier for  communities  to access these resources,” Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement. Many types of terrain stand to gain. Coasts, rivers, forests, grasslands and  wetlands  are all eligible for the award money. Groups working on expanding outdoor access, helping animals navigate landscapes, and increasing resiliency to climate impacts such as drought and coastal flooding can also apply for funding. Private nonprofit the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will oversee America the Beautiful. Tribal and Indigenous-led projects have priority.  Ecosystem  restoration funds of $375 million came to the Interior Department through a bipartisan infrastructure law. The Forest Service is kicking in $35 million in grants for improving water quality and preventing invasive species. The Department of Defense’s $25 million will help preserve natural resources near military installations. Not everybody wants to conserve land, though. Several climate-denying and anti-fed groups are hosting a Stop 30×30 Summit later this month in  Nebraska . Some big-name Republicans will be there to rant against the initiative. If you go, don’t expect any decent vegan refreshments. But many who understand the program are happy. “Protecting 30% of America’s lands and  waters  by the end of the decade can only be accomplished through partnerships and knowledge on the ground in all 50 states,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, as reported by HuffPost. “This billion-dollar commitment shows the administration is on the right track to reaching 30×30.” Via HuffPost Lead image via Pexels

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The Marine Stewardship Council’s Angelina Skowronski on selling sustainability, the upside of being an extrovert

March 29, 2022 by  
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The commercial manager for the seafood industry nonprofit Marine Stewardship Council discusses the importance of independent, third-party certifications for consumer products.

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The Marine Stewardship Council’s Angelina Skowronski on selling sustainability, the upside of being an extrovert

The Marine Stewardship Council’s Angelina Skowronski on selling sustainability, the upside of being an extrovert

March 29, 2022 by  
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The commercial manager for the seafood industry nonprofit Marine Stewardship Council discusses the importance of independent, third-party certifications for consumer products.

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The Marine Stewardship Council’s Angelina Skowronski on selling sustainability, the upside of being an extrovert

Magic Johnson Park is the first off-leash dog park in South LA

February 18, 2022 by  
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The Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park in Los Angeles has already won six awards for its sustainable design. Now it’s moving onto its Phase 1B, becoming the first off-leash dog park in South L.A. The Magic Johnson Park was winner of the following awards in 2021: American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC-CA): Honor Award American Society of Civil Engineers — Los Angeles (ASCE): Sustainable Engineering Project of the Year American Society of Landscape Architects — Southern California Chapter: Quality of Life Award of Excellence, Honor Award for Parks and Recreation Los Angeles Business Council (LABC): Architectural Award for Civic Southern California Development Forum (SCDF): Honor Award in the Civic category United States Green Building Council — Los Angeles (USGBC-LA): Water, Equity and Environmental Justice, and Project of the Year   Related: LA’s Magic Johnson Park now features a stormwater recycling system “The continuing efforts of the renovation at Magic Johnson Park further transforms this park for the community, allowing for greater access to nature and advancing sustainability efforts as a model for urban parks ,” said Wendy Chan, MIG Senior Landscape Architect. “We hope the opening of Phase 1B brings more of the community out to enjoy its new amenities, especially during a time when access to the outdoors is as important as ever.” Now, the new park is being called the gold standard in sustainable park design. It offers a hub for the community and demonstrates how urban environments can be models of water conservation. The park surrounds a lake that has viewing stations with educational signs about wildlife, as well as a playground area, walking trails and many green planted spaces. This next phase of the park will include: .75 miles of walking trails, an off-leash dog park, California native habitat gardens, a natural outdoor amphitheater, a .25-mile fitness loop with exercise equipment and even a community lawn. Furthermore, the park diverts and captures stormwater runoff from the community’s 375-acre watershed. It is part of the overall Compton Creek Watershed. The stormwater is treated through natural bio-filtration via mitigated wetlands surrounding one of the park’s two lakes. Additionally, the treated water is stored in both lakes and reused for park irrigation. This park was designed to create a model for other parks to integrate water sustainability design while educating the public about water conservation. + AHBE | MIG Images via AHBE | MIG

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LIVDEN decorative tiles are made with recycled materials

January 7, 2022 by  
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Founders (and step-sisters) Georgie Smith and Hilary Gibbs began with a simple idea to expand options for interior design with decorative tiles to accent any space. They then embedded the idea of sustainability into the business plan and launched LIVDEN. The fresh and innovative patterns add a unique flair to walls and countertops with minimal environmental impact. Each tile is made using upcycled post-consumer materials. The duo identifies their core values as sustainability, originality and accessibility and the newest Fall 2021 Capsule Collection seems to embrace all three. Related: Eco Method Interiors marries environmental science and design The company designs two types of tiles. The PaperStone tiles are created from recycled paper and a non-petroleum resin comprised of 90% recycled melamine and 100% recycled phenolic saturated papers. According to the website, “PaperStone products are also certified recycled by the Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards.” Terrazzo, the second type of tile, contains 65% to 66% post-consumer recycled material.   In addition to a focus on material selection, the company is dedicated to pairing with green manufacturing partners in order to minimize resources and waste . “From the onset of LIVDEN, one of our highest priorities was fostering relationships with manufacturers that shared our commitment to and passion for the environment,” said LIVDEN. “We are fortunate to have partnered with like-minded, eco-conscious suppliers who innovative sustainable manufacturing methods and continually work to lessen their environmental impact.”  All materials and products are sourced and manufactured in the U.S. The company is headquartered in San Diego, California . Manufacturers are located in Washington and Florida. The company thinks it’s important to minimize transport emissions while creating domestic job opportunities saying, “Our manufacturing partners are domestically based, and we are incredibly proud to offer a made-in-the-USA product that’s fueled by American craftsmanship.”  At a local level, LIVDEN shows its commitment to the community through recycling all metals, glass and plastics that leaves the facility. It also organizes annual community service events and offers employees full benefits and livable wages.  + LIVDEN  Images via LIVDEN 

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LIVDEN decorative tiles are made with recycled materials

A billion-dollar solar investment is coming to Texas

November 17, 2021 by  
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Chem-Energy has announced a planned investment of $1 billion in a solar and battery plant project. Development will take place in Central Texas starting spring 2022. The petroleum products giant is among the many firms in the industry seeking to diversify as the world phases out fossil fuels. The firm will set up two facilities with a capacity to generate 400 MW/800 MWh of battery storage. Another facility with 600 MW of solar power will be built in Caldwell County, Texas . The first of the facilities will be built on 3,511 acres of land in Uhland, Texas, and start generating power in 2023. Exact dates have not been provided. Related: Renewables can power the world, according to new study The facilities will help generate clean energy and provide stability to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the general Texas grid. Robert Hayward, COO of Chem-Energy Corporation, said that the facilities are strategically located to serve the state. “Caldwell County is the perfect strategic choice for our flagship operations in Texas,” said Hayward. “With available land in a growing region, close proximity to Texas State University and a robust workforce pipeline, the Texas Innovation Corridor provides an ideal environment for our organization’s growth.” Construction is expected to offer employment opportunities for locals. According to the company, 400 permanent jobs will be created in the first year of operation. Officials have not given figures concerning temporary and indirect jobs. The project will also be home to America’s first standardized solar PV and battery storage training facility. Engineering firm Mortenson Construction will help realize these plans. For power storage, KORE Power will help provide high-density NMC batteries . Maintenance and back-office administration services will be handled by Invenergy Services. As Brad Heitland, business development executive for Mortenson Construction, said, “Chem-Energy’s innovative approach to solar energy will result in a facility design unlike anything seen before in the industry. Solar projects tend to be larger and more complex than other energy generators . I firmly believe that we will be setting a new standard for energy production both in the Texas Innovation Corridor and throughout the state.” Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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A billion-dollar solar investment is coming to Texas

Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

November 17, 2021 by  
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Indigenous  rock  art has survived tens of thousands of years. But global warming might be the death of it. As extreme weather events like fires, cyclones, floods and erosion intensify, rock art fades and disappears. A report at a recent symposium declared the damage is now irreversible. The symposium was held Tuesday at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia , spurred by a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the report, the global temperature is likely to rise above the 1.5 degrees Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. Expect more extreme, rock art-damaging weather. Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support Rock  art  sites are found around the world and consist of paintings, engravings, drawings, stencils, prints and carvings. They’re found inside caves and on boulders, on cliff walls and rocky overhangs. The imagery has lasting aesthetic and spiritual power and can provide insight into the lives of Indigenous groups around the world. Australia and Africa each have at least 100,000 rock art sites, some stretching back 28,000 years. India, China, Siberia, Mexico and France are just a few more of the places where rock art endures. Dr. Jillian Huntley, an archaeological scientist at Griffith University, studies Australasian rock art. Her focus stretches from Australia up into  Indonesia , with an emphasis on Sulawesi. Huntley has noticed that changing weather is making salt crystals expand and contract, causing rocks to collapse. Some of the world’s oldest paintings are threatened.  “Those temperature increases are felt at a rate three times the rest of the world,” Huntley said, as reported by The Guardian. “A 2.4C warming would be a 6C warming in the tropics, which would be absolutely catastrophic.” And there’s no time to wait. “Not net zero by 2050,” she said. “Net zero as soon as possible.” Natural disasters, weather and climate fluctuations are nothing new. But this time, human technology is rocketing the planet — including its  Indigenous  rock art — toward disaster. “Today, we’re in sort of a critical situation or critical juncture,” said Daryl Wesley, an archeologist at Flinders who has studied destruction wrought on rock art by one of Australia’s worst tropical cyclones. Via The Guardian , Getty Museum Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

The time to act for the built environment is now

September 29, 2021 by  
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World Green Building Council beefs up 2030 net zero challenge to industry to take account of embodied CO2 and lifecycle impacts of construction materials.

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The time to act for the built environment is now

OFS furniture is eco-driven from tree to delivery

September 17, 2021 by  
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Based out of Huntingburg, IN, with multiple showrooms around the country, furniture manufacturer OFS sets the bar high for sustainable production, protecting the environment and setting an example for other companies.  Not only has OFS earned WELL Platinum certification for its home office, but it takes its environmentally-conscious stance so seriously that it named its sustainability program. Called Common Grounds, in honor of the idea that finding common ground is the basis for meaningful change, the program focuses on greening every step of the business cycle. Related:  Heirloom Design provides furniture that may never see a landfill The process began in the 1950s with the foresight of OFS’ leaders at the time, Phyllis and Bob Menke. Upon noticing the effects of poor forest management in southern Indiana, they established the Indiana Nature Conservancy. This allowed them to acquire land damaged by over-foresting practices. Replanting and maintenance of the forest led to the current 7,100 acres held and monitored by OFS and the Menke family. The land is part of the American Tree Farm program and is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.  Jarod Brames, Director of Sustainability for OFS says, “By prioritizing sustainability initiatives, we’re investing in our future. Our company’s leadership has always taken responsibility for the planet, dating all the way back to our inception — well before many others started this focus. It’s something we continue to take very seriously.” OFS is also partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization dedicated to global reforestation. Through this association, OFS plants 60,000 trees annually, enough to counterbalance the company’s annual emissions over the lifespan of the  trees . The trees are planted in areas that are actively managed, which helps ensure increased survival rates and lost-tree replacements in a responsible way. The company also places an earth-friendly focus on packaging, using biodegradable foam that keeps furniture safe during shipping, yet reduces to 5% of its size once the unpacking is complete. To keep factory  waste  low, all excess wood chips are saved and stored to use for heat during the winter months. To further control the sustainable aspects of production and delivery, the OFS trucking company called Styline Logistics delivers all OFS furniture products. The company reports, “It has been part of the EPA’s Smartway program for over 17 years and utilizes bio-diesel in its operations.”  While OFS puts a notable emphasis on green production, it also provides a healthy work environment for employees with a central cafe that serves healthy  food  and a gathering space to build relationships.  Building on the belief that green products are the best option for consumers and the planet, OFS continues to meet the increasingly higher expectations within the industry. They achieve this by producing furniture with low emissions and relying on certified  natural materials  such as wood with FSC CoC certification, and BIFMA-level certified products, which is an industry-standard.  “At OFS, we’ve accomplished a lot when it comes to sustainability, but we also realize there’s so much more to do. Climate change is presenting some urgent challenges, and the pandemic has reinforced the importance of human health and well-being, especially in the built environment. As we look to the future, we’re aligning our efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, beginning with Human Health and Well-Being, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Life on Land. These are areas where we can use our experience and unique position as a family-owned company to make the largest impact for our customers, colleagues and communities,” Brames says. For transparency in regards to chemicals in its products, OFS provides Health Product Declarations for the top dozen products in its lineup. However, it admits they are early in the game and promises to continue on its quest to remove harmful chemicals as it becomes aware of them. In addition to chemical content, the team emphasizes long-lasting product design. It works towards ergonomic and durable furniture options that will be around for a long time.  Brames explains, “Our products are crafted to last. The quality materials we use allow our furniture to withstand years and years of use, while still looking and performing at its best. This keeps products out of landfills and reduces the amount of  wood  and other materials used.”  In addition to the WELL-certified buildings, multiple showrooms have earned LEED certification. An event center on-site, called Cool Springs, includes 600-acres dedicated to educating visitors about forest management, the importance of biodiversity and the lifecycle of OFS products, from forest to furniture.  “The act of planting a tree is powerful and symbolic. Trees grow slowly, so we like to think of it as a long-term investment in our future. We invite everyone who tours our Cool Springs retreat and hardwood forest to plant a tree and take part in helping our planet,” Brames finished. + OFS  Images via OFS

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A history of sustainable energy efforts at the White House

September 2, 2021 by  
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Global warming, carbon emissions and climate change have been hot topics for decades. All the while, the reigning U.S. administration has changed its tone with each election. As a result, the focus on renewable energy has waned and grown throughout the country and in the president’s own home. In fact, since the White House was first equipped with electricity, the use of  renewable energy  sources has seen an ebb and flow that matches the attitude of the commander in chief at the time.  The beginning of electricity at the White House September 1891 saw the introduction of electricity to the White House, although Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, President and First Lady at the time, feared electrocution and never touched the switches as a result. Related: Activists protest Biden’s compromised green infrastructure deal In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge saw the installment of the first electric refrigerator at the residence. Six years later, the Roosevelts installed air conditioning in the private quarters. Beginning in 1948, the White House saw an extensive renovation under the guidance of President Truman, which included upgrades to the electrical system. President Lyndon Johnson set an example of electricity conservation in the 1960s by consistently turning off lights when not in use, earning him the moniker “Light Bulb Johnson.” The first solar panels at the White House The year 1979 saw the first solar panel installation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels placed on the White House roof in response to a national energy crisis (a result of the Arab oil embargo). Although the technology of the time did little more than heat  water  for the cafeteria and laundry, Carter hoped it would set an example for the future of the country saying, “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil .” However, his intentions didn’t take hold, and the solar panels were removed during the Reagan administration while roofing work was being done. While cost may have been a factor in the decision not to reinstall the solar panels, Reagan’s policies made it clear he supports oil more than green energy. When the Clintons moved into office and the residence, they committed to “Greening the White House,” which included installing  energy-efficient  windows, light bulbs and a new HVAC system. The first solar power system on site Breaking the trend of Democrats leaning into renewable options and Republicans reversing them, George W. Bush was the first to install a solar system that provided electricity to the grounds. The 9-kilowatt system produced both current and hot water, which was used in part to warm the presidential pool. Another notable event in the history of the White House’s sustainability journey took place in 2008 when the iconic Portico lantern was upgraded to LEDs . The arrival of modern solar panels President Barack Obama, who was very vocal about prioritizing  environmental issues , oversaw the installation of solar panels, completed in 2014. He also installed a solar water heater in the residence.  “By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States,” said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. This newer technology was six times more effective than the solar equipment Carter installed, making a financial difference and not just a symbolic one. Those  solar panels  are still in use today.  The Trump administration not only did not put a priority on renewable resources but actively worked to roll back many of the environmental protections put in place before he took office. Solar panels make history For historical value, the solar panels installed during the Carter administration were kept in governmental storage until 1991, when half were installed above the cafeteria at Unity College in Maine . Here they provided hot water until the end of their useful life in 2005.  Today, other White House solar panels are on display at museums in the United States and China . Specifically, there are examples at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China.  There’s also one on display at the NRG Systems headquarters, as an example of early technology at a company that manufactures modern  wind  and solar technology solutions. With all eyes on the White House for guidance on where we’ll focus next in the current of renewable energy , it’s clear that it will be some time before we see universal agreement on how to approach the topic.  For more information on the history of the solar panels President Jimmy Carter installed, you can check out the 2010 documentary “A Road Not Taken,” which details their journey from 1979 to 1986. + Energy.gov  Via Thought Co. and Sullivan Solar Power   Images via Pexels 

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