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This category covers a broad range of aspects including maintenance, renovations, landscaping, lighting, water usage, heating/AC, appliances and equipment, LEED certification, Information Technology, utility rebates.
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Be Prepared--At Work...and At Home

August 27, 2014
September is National Preparedness Month.  This is an important campaign to raise awareness and motivate action to be ready to deal with an emergency and recover from it, be it an accident, a natural disaster, a broken pipe, a pandemic, a power failure, a hazardous material incident, or an act of terrorism.  This year’s theme, “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare”, urges everyone to focus on activities to increase preparedness.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead agency for coordinating emergency preparedness and response. 
GreenWorksGov is returning to this timely issue, having previously written about the nexus between green teams and emergency response and business resumption planners.  In that column, published in 2011 as Hurricane Irene took the east coast by force, we noted the link between climate changes and violent storms, and dealing with the resulting public health threats of contaminated water and power outages.  The lessons of these past few years are clear—be prepared at home and at work.
Previously, we wrote about the value to small businesses, in particular, partnering with disaster recovery companies to ensure continuity of operations and quick resumption of business. This week we are featuring services available to homeowners, because when employees are facing utility outages, loss of water or emergency-related repairs in the home, their employers are facing a loss of productivity and service delivery that is impacting their operations. 
HomeServeUSA is one such company.  HomeServe offers a 24/7 hotline for repairs on plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems that fail—similar to roadside assistance for your home.  Homeowners can choose from a variety of emergency repair service plans to meet their needs. The service plans cover the cost of repairs and getting the repair done through local, licensed and approved contractors. HomeServe has partnerships with city governments and utilities that are sensitive to the devastating financial impact on customers of repairs and the potential, in emergencies, of substantial water losses and contamination risks.  HomeServe’s business partners encourage their customers to be prepared for these unplanned events and refer them to HomeServe as a value-added service.  It’s voluntary, but it’s a mighty good idea. More than 40 utility companies, water districts, towns and cities in the US have partnered with HomeServe to serve utility customer needs and the company has garnered a 98% satisfaction rating from customers surveyed after receiving service. 
HomeServe has demonstrated its commitment to environmental and social responsibility.  It is approved by the US Department of Energy “Energy Star” program to use the Energy Star Learn More mark that recognizes the company for its efforts to promote and educate homeowners on the benefits of energy efficiency and conservation.  The company has established HomeServe Cares, a hardship fund, to assist low-income families throughout the US, having successfully implemented its first hardship programs in concert with the cities of Birmingham, Alabama, and recently with Baltimore, Maryland.  For more information visit them at homeserveusa.com.
The planners for National Preparedness Month encourage everyone to join them in helping ensure we are better prepared to address emergencies at home and in our offices.  Green teams have an important role to raise awareness about how climate change is changing our weather patterns and storm systems, and increasing the likelihood of impacts that can disrupt business operations and home security.  The month of September and the many resources available to you from FEMA’s website provide an excellent opportunity to encourage staff to consider a protection plan for their home as well as improving emergency preparedness at the office.
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Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff

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The Coolest Schools and How Green Teams Can Benefit

August 20, 2014
For eight years, “Sierra”, the magazine of the Sierra Club, has published annual rankings of the greenest colleges and universities in the US.  The 2014 list is out.  Congratulations to the Top Ten coolest schools and to all 173 who participated in the extensive survey and evaluation.  GreenWorksGov has penned several columns inviting green teams to take advantage of the academic resources available in your communities to network with the environmental departments in local colleges and to learn about the terrific projects students have engaged in to green their campuses.  This is an opportune occasion to spotlight what is working and trending around the country. 
Here is just a smattering of what the Top Ten have accomplished:  Number One this year, the University of California at Irvine met its 20% energy reduction goal seven years early by installing a cogeneration facility and solar panels.  Its water recycling program saves over 200 million gallons a year.  At Dickinson College in Carlise, Pennsylvania students grow produce served in the cafeteria and the school builds to LEED Gold standards and harnesses rain run-off.  The University of Connecticut, last year’s Number One, earns kudos for its major water conservation efforts and an Environmental Literacy Workgroup that develops new classes, hosts forums, and fosters green careers. The Arbor Day Foundation named it a Tree Campus USA. The University of South Florida is all about energy, boasting the largest solar charging station for electric vehicles in the US and programs where students research fuel cell and solar technologies and work on developing smart grids.  Loyola University of Chicago students tend to a hundred acres of wilderness, the school offers five environmental degrees, hosts the largest geothermal facility in Chicago, and scores big points for its recycling and composting programs.
In addition to the wealth of information available from community colleges and universities, and good fortune for those working near any of those which qualified for Sierra’s rankings, green teams and administrative support units seeking student interns and part-timers to help implement sustainable business practices or raise awareness and interest in environmental issues need look no farther than to an environmental studies department or eco-student group.  And studies and surveys show that college graduates enter the workforce with an understanding of environmental issues and solutions and an expectation that their employer shares environmental protection values as well.  The signs are clear that employers who have incorporated those principles into their business practices have an edge in recruitment and retention of this new workforce. GWG wrote previously about this compelling trend.
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Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff

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What the Biggest Energy User in the US is Doing About It

August 6, 2014
In 2010, the combined Department of Defense (DoD) consumed 5 billion gallons of fuel and in 2013 spent $91 billion on fuel and electricity for the armed forces.  DoD is the nation’s largest single user of energy.  If you think about it, we taxpayers have a strong vested interest in what the Defense department does to conserve energy and reduce expenditures, apart from the primary mission of the military.  Actually, it isn’t apart from the mission at all.  DoD rightly considers energy as a mission-essential resource. 
In an earlier column, GreenWorksGov kicked off this series on DoD and energy strategies and provided some examples of how innovations in equipment are lightening the load and lighting the way. In April, DoD issued a sweeping “Energy Policy” that embodied basic principles in practice, but the directive provides a common framework to guide the DoD into the future.  The key strategies are to reduce the demand for energy, to expand and secure the supply of energy, and to build energy security into the future force.
Here’s what the Directive states:   “It is DoD policy to enhance military capability, improve energy security, and mitigate costs in its use and management of energy. To these ends, DoD will:
  • Improve energy performance of our weapons, installations, and military forces;
  • Diversify and expand energy supplies and sources, including renewable energy sources and alternative fuels;
  • Adapt core business processes – including requirements, acquisition, planning, programming, budgeting, and execution – to improve the DoD’s use and management of energy;
  • Analyze and mitigate risks related to our energy use; and
  • Promote innovation for our equipment as well as education and training for our personnel, valuing energy as a mission-essential resource.”
Improving energy performance includes installations, such as the Washington Navy Yard’s Visitor Center, which is a certified “net-zero” building.  Net-zero means the building produces as much or more energy than it consumes on an annual bases.  The visitor center energy innovations include the use of geothermal and micro-wind turbines, along with LED lighting and cellulose insulation.  Read more here about what the Naval District Washington (NDW) is doing to reduce energy consumption and expand the use of alternative fuels and renewable energy sources.
DoD intends that by implementing strategic energy policies it will achieve an improved military force and capacity while meeting 21st century energy challenges and national goals.  Green teams can take a lesson from DoD’s focus and alignment of objectives to its goals.  Top level support, clearly stated goals and measurable objectives, and visible efforts are crucial ingredients for success.

Stick with us, GWG will reconnoiter with the DoD in the near future again. 

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Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff

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What's In Your In-Box?

July 30, 2014

While idly browsing my in-box this past week trolling for topics to write about, it occurred to me that my in-box might be a good topic.  Sustainability officers and green teams enhance their expertise and can add to their tool kit of ideas and strategies by staying abreast of green efforts underway elsewhere.  I subscribe to a variety of bulletins and groups that publish news and information.  This week’s column is just a sampling of some of them, and there are many more organizations listed in our Resources section.  Most offer email subscriptions, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and other ways to stay connected.

Here’s what was in my mailbox in the past week or two.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG):  http://www.ewg.org/
The EWG issues frequent reports and news aimed to protect and promote healthier living and covers consumer products, energy, farming, water, and toxics.  GWG features EWG’s annual sunscreen guide among other issues.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE): http://aceee.org/blog 
ACEEE aims to act as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. One solid resource about energy, and there are many others. This is their blog link.
This is NASA’s news feed.  What can we say?  We’ve grown up with NASA and witnessed its evolution.  Today it researches and provides invaluable information about our planet and our universe from hundreds of satellites around the globe and is a key contributor to knowledge about climate change and weather systems and much more. 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  http://www.epa.gov/gogreen
The EPA has a number of blogs and reports you can subscribe to.  This is their monthly “News You Can Use” and delivers information you can apply in the office and at home.  There are always links to the vast resources of the EPA.  
The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI):  http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2014_07_31_Spark2014_26
The RMI is one of my favorite sources for all things energy.  GWG did a lengthy series this past year on Amory Lovins' book, “Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.”  RMI charts a course for a future beyond fossil fuels. 
The NWF is all about conservation and protecting our wildlife and natural resources.  They are a vital link to learning about the impact of climate change and other forces on wildlife and wild places and safeguarding them for future generations.
There are many, many great resources that come in the form of email bulletins, blogs, tweets, newsletters, and more.  These are just a few of the ones I receive and it is not possible to read them all, all the time.  Still, subscribe to a variety of governmental, non-profit, and private news and info sources and you’re sure to find something you can share with your co-workers and some good ideas to develop for your green programs. 
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Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Pollution Prevention, Administrative Stuff

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Catch Some Rays--Yes, Sir!!

July 16, 2014
In the course of many years in government service, one thing I’ve learned is that if you want to know where innovation and technology are working to solve problems, it’s a good idea to check out the Department of Defense and the branches of the military.  Need some encouragement that your green team is on the right path?  Looking for advances that will spur your green building solar panels?  Want some ammo to push for alternative energy fuels and vehicles to boost energy savings and conservation?  Look no farther—this week we start a series on the many, many projects that the branches of our armed services have undertaken. 
This week’s blog is but a brief introduction to future articles that will link you to some exciting efforts that are yielding results.  We know from our own experiences that sustainability programs need top level commitment and resources to ensure success.  The Department of Defense has made a strong commitment to address the implications of a changing global environment and secure an energy future that reduces demand and increases alternative and renewable supplies of energy. 
Think gear and equipment for starters.  This year’s annual Marine Corp event that invites industry to address capability gaps showcased boots, knee braces, and rucksacks that generate electricity and when combined produce impressive amounts of power and reduce battery load. 
The Navy, which has already tested bio-fuels for its fleet in 2012, plans for third-generation biofuels to comprise 50% of the fuel used by deploying ships and aircraft throughout the fleet in 2016 and by 2020 50% of all shore-based energy produced will be from alternative sources.  Energy factors will be mandatory considerations in all acquisitions for systems and buildings.  Navy families are being encouraged in energy conservation practices through incentives for conservation and awareness programs. 
Get a jump start on what’s to come from GreenWorksGov on the military’s impressive and aggressive efforts to transform the way the Department of Defense uses energy in military operations to meet 21st century challenges.  Read more here: http://energy.defense.gov/Reports/tabid/3018/Article/3507/operational-energy-strategy.aspx
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