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This category covers a broad range of aspects including transportation alternatives, parking, telecommuting, travel, green lodging, conference planning, indoor air quality, hybrids, office plants.
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Mark Your Calendars for Earth Hour and Earth Day 2014

February 12, 2014
It’s not too soon to start planning some activities in the office to celebrate Earth Day on April 22.  The Earth Day Network has announced this year’s theme as the Green Cities Campaign, which will help cities and communities transition to a more sustainable future.  The focus will be on energy, transportation, and buildings.  Click on these cities to read about their plans for Earth Day:  Houston, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  Earth Day events are widely publicized, so you can look for upcoming events online, your newspaper, and other sources of news.
The Earth Day Network will engage in educational outreach to the public and offer toolkits to spur civic action.  Learn more here. Office green teams can benefit from the information available on the website and spread the word in newsletters and during green events.  Consider planning an event to draw attention to alternative forms of commuting to work than by automobile.  Organize a bike-to-work day, highlight ways employees can save energy at work, or invite the building manager to a lunch and learn session to discuss green building improvements completed or in the planning stages.

Mark your calendars for the 60th Earth Hour, coming up on March 29, a Saturday, between 8:30 and 9:30 pm  local time.  This event is commemorated around the world by hundreds of millions of people turning out their lights to show their visible support to protect our planet.  The World Wildlife Fund, a project  sponsor, has a page for how businesses can celebrate Earth Hour in the week preceding.  Green teams can promote the event by having a “conservation hour” and working with building managers to have all non-essential lights turned off for that hour.  Even better, seek a commitment to reducing exterior and interior lighting at night on an ongoing basis. 

Hat tip to President Lincoln on his birthday today.  Considered one of the most environmentally friendly Presidents--he established the Department of Agriculture, the National Academy of Sciences, and signed a bill which established protection of the Yosemite Valley, which paved the way to the National Park Service.  

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Conservation and RecyclingAdministrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Eco-Friendly Bars for Lawyers (Open to all, too!)

January 22, 2014
This week’s blog will be of special interest to lawyers and law office administrators, but there is a wealth of information and resources for green teams that apply to any office setting.  Regular readers know that GreenWorksGov shamelessly mines the best sustainability practices and trends across all sectors, public and private, to offer practical steps to a successful start-up program and resources to save time and money.  This week we’re highlighting what several state bar associations are doing to advance  sustainable business practices among their memberships.  We are also sharing links to time-saving tools and templates.  Our tour will take us to Arizona, Oregon, and Massachusetts. 
My home base is California, so before we take our leave let’s check out what the California State Bar offers. The Environmental Law Section of the California State Bar hosts the voluntary Eco-Pledge initiative. Members are encouraged to sign the pledge which means promising to adopt sustainable business practices, assigning responsibility to implement the policy, and educating employees about the policy.  Included are model sustainability office guidelines, a list of practices that are recommended for adoption.  The list is comprehensive and serves as a checklist for actions and to illustrate the scope of practices that conform to the pledge.
Oregon is our first stop, and the Oregon Bar Sustainable Future Section partnered with the Center for Earth Leadership and Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future(OLSF),  to develop a  dynamic program of educational events, online resources, business and community partnerships, and leadership recognition and awards.   The Sustainable Future Section won the American Bar Association Section of Energy, Environment, and Resources (ABA SEER) 2012 Best State or Local Program of the Year Award for its activities.  The Oregon State Bar was singled out as a model and inspiration for state and local bar associations across the country. Read more here.
To qualify as an Oregon State Bar Partner in Sustainability, a law firm submits an application that self-certifies it has adopted the criteria  of policies and procedures that qualify the firm to be a Partner.  The criteria is adjusted for law firm size.  The website is a treasure of links to valuable resources, including office practices and OLSF’s six tools for office settings, such as a model sustainability policy, green meeting best practices, and guidelines for building managers.  The Sustainable Future Section also has a page on the benefits and recognition from becoming an OSB Partner in Sustainability, sure to inspire other green teams on ways to acknowledge the commitment and achievements of leaders and partners in the green office program.  This tour barely scratches the surface of all that the Oregon State Bar Sustainable Future Section has undertaken to impact law office practices.  Well done!. 
It’s winter, so I’m bound for the Southwest and Arizona.  The charge of the State Bar of Arizona Task Force on Sustainability is two-fold:  1) to assist the Bar in greening its operations & facilities and 2) equip the Bar’s attorneys with knowledge and tools to promote environmentally sustainable practices.  According to Jennifer Mott, Chair, “The Task Force was fully ‘staffed’ and started its work this fall, so most projects are in the ‘assessment’ stage.  We’ve outlined a full state of topics to address.  Much work is behind the scenes i.e., networking, research, communication within the organization; basically laying the groundwork for the programs to come.  That being said, visible projects are underway.  The Task Force is incorporating sustainability into the State Bar of Arizona annual convention held in June 2014.  The Task Force is sponsoring two seminars, one on practical tips for greening the law office, the other on the use of tablets as a way to go paperless.  We’ve reached out to sustainability professionals beyond the legal field to include as presenters.  A plenary session will include two speakers on sustainability in the future of the practice of the law.  Additionally, the Task Force will set up a mock green law office, hold a cell phone recycling drive, and work with the venue and Bar to incorporate sustainable features into the event itself. “ Kudos to the task force and their initiative! There is a lot to look forward to from Arizona and GreenWorksGov will circle back later this year to report on all the progress being made.
Last stop, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bar Eco-Challenge is similar to California, and its website pages has a link to Green Guidelines for office management and landscape management.  More than 100 firms signed the voluntary pledge.

Gusty east coast winds are blowing me home.  Upcoming blogs—the next chapter of Reinventing Fire which is about how things are made—manufacturing and not-to-miss spring events. 

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Conservation and RecyclingAdministrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Green Trends for 2014

January 15, 2014
One of my objectives in writing GreenWorksGov is to bring news and information to busy readers, whose work on green office efforts is typically on a volunteer or part-time basis.  Last January, GreenWorksGov devoted a blog to green business trends for 2013 courtesy of GreenBiz.  For 2014, I headed back to Green Biz and along the way came across another resource that is worth taking the time to read—Looking Further with Ford—the motor company’s report on top ten trends for 2014.  Sustainability’s in the mix!
GreenBiz surveyed leading technology and environmental executives from a range of companies and the government sector to learn what they see as the trends shaping our world and future.  Smart buildings, zero net energy building, these themes emerged as important shifts in reducing energy consumption.  Read more here
The 2014 GreenBiz Forum is scheduled for February 18-20 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Early Bird registration ends Friday, January 15.   This annual event is an opportunity to hear from noted thought leaders and sustainability executives on environmental trends, challenges, and opportunities.  The program of speakers and experts on sustainability issues and solutions is impressive.  This looks to be a great networking opportunity.  This conference promises to kick-start or re-invigorate your green efforts. 
Courtesy of Triple Pundit, “a new-media company for highly conscious business leaders”, I learned about Ford Motor Company’s “Looking Further with Ford” report and the top trends shaping our world today. Ford sees “water” as the big sustainability issue.  Why?  Think droughts, floods, contaminated drinking water, and the fact water is 70% of the earth’s surface.  Ford thinks it’s time to focus on conserving and protecting this critical resource.  Read Ford’s full report here.  The section “Sustainability Blues” about water starts on page 40, but the rest of the report is well worth the time.  A short, condensed version is available from Triple Pundit here.     
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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

These College Courses are Tuition Free

January 8, 2014
I’ve always found it to be true that we learn something every day.  As long as I’ve worked to keep GreenWorksGov fresh and current with news, issues, trends, resources and ideas for helping green teams to be effective and successful, I have found something new every week to bring to your notice.
This week, I was particularly elated to learn about a free educational app from iTunes, iTunes U.  I was less elated when I mentioned to a friend about this fabulous resource of free courses and lectures on hundreds of subjects, but especially environmental sciences, and she said, “oh yes, that app’s been around awhile.”  Well, I’ve recovered and am back to happily sharing this with you, along with the news that the app is available in numerous languages besides English.  If you don’t have an iPhone or Apple device to use this app, you can download components of this open university app onto your Android and other operating systems. Another possible issue is that app is optimized for an iPhone 5 and iOS 7.  Here’s a short article to help you decide if you want to try to install 7 on an iPhone 4 or upgrade your phone to take full advantage.  
There are other free course online courses in environmental sciences, ecology, and related subjects.  One super site I found is Open Culture, which has 800 free courses from top universities and a strong selection of nearly two dozen environmentally-related courses.  Also, check out the offerings from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Yale’s open course program, OYC for free lectures and full courses.

Consider hosting a “green bag” lunch and learn for your employees and tune in to one of the free lectures from these courses.  Copy these links and others you find to your office Intranet and let employees know about their availability.  Most of us didn’t major in environmental sciences in college, but it’s never too late to go “back to school”. 

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Pollution Prevention, Buildings, Conservation and Recycling, Administrative Stuff

Pollution Prevention

Reinventing Fire--Part Four, Buildings

January 1, 2014
This week we continue our chapter-by-chapter review of Amory Lovins’ brilliant and visionary book, Reinventing Fire, in which he maps out the path to how the US economy can dramatically grow and need no oil, coal, or nuclear power by the year 2050.  Lovins’ vision is based on existing and emergent technologies and leading examples that demonstrate the viability of possible results from concerted action. In previous articles, GreenWorksGov  published an introductory overview to the book including links and information about the Rocky Mountain Institute,  and reviewed the chapters on fossil fuels and transportation.  Next up, buildings.
The buildings chapter focuses on how buildings are designed, built, and used and the energy needed to power the building, the equipment, and the services delivered to its occupants and visitors. Lovins is a prolific collector of data and sets up the chapter with a factual litany of attention-getting facts about buildings and the energy they use.  For starters, buildings consume 42% of US energy and 72% of all electricity.  Buildings are the biggest users of primary energy and natural gas, using more than Russia, Japan and twice that of India.  If the buildings in the US were a country, they’d be third behind the US and China in primary energy used.  Half of the energy is used by residential buildings; we have 115 million homes in the US and the average home is twice as large as in 1950, and stuffed with electronics and appliances we didn’t have then or couldn’t even imagine.  Consider this—even the appliances that are powered off but plugged in like that toaster or countertop microwave oven consume energy that requires eight power plants alone. 
Even so, the dominant energy users are 120 million non-residential buildings--offices, shops, hospitals,  schools, etc. The problem is not only to address making today’s buildings more energy efficient and those investments a benefit to the bottom line, but to plan for the 70% estimated increase in floor space we’ll require by 2050.  Lovins acknowledges the complexity of the challenge but firmly believes we can achieve a 38% reduction in energy consumption and save $1.4 trillion, a savings four-times that of the cost to capture it.  An encouraging example is Toyota’s corporate office in California that was designed to be energy efficient and uses 42% less energy than the state’s strict building codes allowed.  This was achieved by siting the office to leverage natural light, window glazing to ward off summer heat and reduce air conditioning needs, a cool roof and other smart features. Lovins makes the point that existing technologies when combined in integrative design to consider the whole building will achieve dramatic energy savings. 
Employee behavior is an important factor in cost savings, too.  One thousand attendees at an Interface conference were informed how to save energy, water and reduce waste.  The hotel property where the conference was held realized a 22% reduction in its energy usage in just six days.  Microsoft bases part of its annual bonus for data center managers on their energy efficiency improvements.  University of North Carolina at Asheville facilities managers turned their campus into one of the most energy-efficient in the system with no major capital investment.  The difference—giving them the tools and authority to spot and solve problems quickly, reducing maintenance and costly delays.  They were rewarded for their savings by being allowed to re-invest it into infrastructure improvements, a novel option to the traditional budget scenario—if you don’t use it, you lose it. 
Lovins devotes a section of the chapter to the changes that are needed to accelerate and optimize energy reductions. He believes that it requires nation attention and action. The commitment to upgrade US buildings is unlikely to be universal without substantive changes and harmonizing of a myriad of district building codes, adoption of incentivizing by utilities, and ensuring benefits flow to the investors—nearly half of US buildings are renter occupied.  Owners are reluctant to invest capital in energy saving improvements, which lower renter’s energy bills, unless the owners realize cost benefits, too. Finally, he has a message for educational institutions and trades schools—how building design is taught, done, and built needs to be overhauled. 

As with other chapters, Lovins includes side bars along the way to explain terminology and include examples.  At the end of each chapter is a summary of recommendations for key actors in the sector. These features make what might otherwise be a book suited more for engineers and scientists accessible to the average green reader.  This is important, because there is a substantive role for sustainability officers and green staffers in advocating for the direct and indirect benefits possible in making our buildings more energy efficient and in achieving the larger goal of an economy that uses little or no fossil fuels by 2050.  

    

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