It’s summer, and as temperatures rise, many of us in the Great Lakes Region and beyond are yearning for something to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Thus it seems appropriate to highlight some resources related to one popular means to reduce urban heat islands and increase energy efficiency–the installation of green roofs.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The information on the site is meant to be applied to sites both with and without buildings, including, but not limited to:
- Open spaces such as local, state and national parks, conservation easements and buffer zones and transportation rights-of-way.
- Sites with buildings including industrial, retail and office parks, military complexes, airports, botanical gardens, streetscapes and plazas, residential and commercial developments and public and private campuses.
The Initiative site provides a copy of the report Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks – Draft 2008, which focuses on measuring how a site can protect, restore and regenerate ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits. This report contains over 50 draft prerequisites and credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.
Case studies, dates for upcoming presentations on sustainable sites, and information on the Initiative’s areas of focus (Why Sustainable Sites?; Hydrology; Soils; Vegetation; Materials; and Human Health & Well-being) are also provided.
Minnesota GreenStar is a green building standard and voluntary certification program for both existing and new homes that promotes healthy, durable, high performance homes. The architect, designer, builder or remodeler is provided green building training, registers the project, completes a checklist, designs the project, gets construction plans reviewed, and the project is built. Before, during and after construction, a third-party rater tests the home and verifies performance to MN GreenStar standards. Upon passing, the home receives Minnesota GreenStar certification at either a bronze, silver or gold level of achievement.
The program’s checklist and manual for both new and existing homes is available online. The web site also provides information on registering your project, including a registration fee schedule and the cost of training. Though not yet available, case studies will apparently be included on the site under “About GreenStar” in the future. In the meantime, check out the “Project Spotlight” section under “News & Media,” which currently features one gold and two bronze-level projects with photos from the sites. The gold-level project–Live Green, Live Smart’s Sustainable House–is Minnesota’s first remodeling project to achieve Minnesota GreenStar Gold Certification and the nation’s first home remodel to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The home achieved the highest level of efficient design in both programs.
The Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) has developed a Topic Hub on Sustainable School Design that addresses many areas, including: indoor air quality; energy consumption and options; construction materials; education materials; water use; waste management; transportation; community interaction; landscaping and the building envelope. It draws upon the myriad resources available to school administrators, school boards, and community planners with the hope that these tools will guide the design of more optimally sustainable schools. The Topic Hub deals with the big issues of construction and retrofitting, siting and commissioning, and actual design of new and remodeled schools. Pollution prevention opportunities and alternative technologies that include lighting, acoustics, air quality, and well-being needs for students and school staff for a healthy and safe learning environment, are presented. Case studies and a glossary of terms are also provided, as well as a “Curricula” section that focuses on teacher training, classroom curricula for grades K-12, college and graduate level programs, community outreach, student-led community projects, and administrator education related to sustainable development and building design.
GLRPPR has developed two new school-related Topic Hubs as part of the P2Rx Topic Hub project. Before any Topic Hub is published, topical experts review its narrative portions for accuracy and completeness.
“Energy Efficient Schools and Students” describes energy efficient practices and research available to schools and introduces resources that support changes in operations, maintenance, and behavior. Numerous ways exist to reduce escalating energy costs and this Topic Hub assembles guidelines and comprehensive energy programs, identifies educational efforts and case studies, and provides examples of best practices for schools.
“Sustainable School Design” addresses many areas, including: indoor air quality; energy consumption and options; construction materials; education materials; water use; waste management; transportation; community interaction; landscaping and the building envelope. It draws upon the myriad resources available to school administrators, school boards, and community planners with the hope that these tools will guide the design of more optimally sustainable schools. The Topic Hub deals with the big issues of construction and retrofitting, siting and commissioning, and actual design of new and remodeled schools. Pollution prevention opportunities and alternative technologies that include lighting, acoustics, air quality, and well-being needs for students and school staff for a healthy and safe learning environment, are presented.
If you’re interested in reading the narrative portions of these hubs and providing some voluntary feedback, please contact Joy Scrogum or Bob Iverson. We’re looking for 2-4 experts to evaluate each of these new hubs; one person may evaluate both hubs if they desire. If you are selected to review the hubs, we’ll contact you with a link to the information you’ll need to read and further instructions. Your name will be included in the “Acknowledgments” section of the final published Topic Hub as a “Technical Reviewer.” See the Acknowledgments section of the Pollution Prevention for Arts Education Topic Hub for an example.
Our greatest asset is the technical expertise of our members and their willingness to share their knowledge with colleagues throughout the region. We appreciate your input and look forward to working with those selected to review these new resources.
Don’t let the name fool you–this useful database includes information on state, local utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy. Established in 1995 (and originally named the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy), DSIRE is an ongoing project of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Power Technologies and managed by the North Carolina Solar Center. In addition to renewable energy incentives, DSIRE has recently expanded to include state and federal incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, purchases of energy efficient products or systems and construction of new energy efficient buildings. Even if you’re already familiar with DSIRE, be sure to check the site regularly, especially the “New/Updated Incentives” list to see what new opportunities are available, and to keep on top of changes to existing incentive programs.
The State Education Department (SED) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have announced new guidelines to encourage the use of energy efficient design when building and renovating schools. These voluntary guidelines, known as the “Collaborative for High Performance Schools” (NY-CHPS), were created through a joint effort of SED and NYSERDA. NY-CHPS will help schools develop and maintain learning environments that contribute to improved academic achievement while reducing operating costs and protecting and conserving our natural resources. Read the full NYSERDA press release here.
The guidelines are available online to download in PDF format.
Note that NYSERDA, in cooperation with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), will be hosting a Green Schools Summit on October 15, 2007 at Farmingdale State University of New York. Visit the summit web site to register and view the agenda. Sessions will cover the NY-CHPS, as well as reducing exposures to toxic substances/green cleaning, working with LIPA to green your school, alternative fuels and emission reduction efforts for school buses, and teacher/student energy and environmental initiatives from NYSERDA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Ok, so end-of-pipe recycling is not technically considered pollution prevention in the strictest sense of the term; it is often argued that only in-process recycling counts. But folks interested in P2 also tend to be interested in diverting waste from landfills, especially if that waste can be turned into an asset and put to further use, at the source or otherwise. Plus, many P2 professionals are becoming more and more interested in the concepts of product stewardship and extender producer responsibility, which include thinking about how to reuse and recycle materials once they’ve served their original purpose. Information on recycling and recycled-content products is also of interest in matters of environmentally preferable purchasing and green building. So, beneficial reuse is part of my personal sense of the intention of pollution prevention, and yes, I am going to talk about end-of-pipe recycling in this P2 blog. Gasp if you must, and direct all criticisms to me (Joy).
If you’re interested in beneficial reuse in general, and specifically in construction and demolition debris recycling, electronics recycling, and organic material recycling (composting, food donation, scraps for animal feed, etc.), check out WasteCap Wisconsin’s web site. They offer case studies, publications, training opportunities, and other resources on these issues. They also produce a monthly e-mail bulletin chock full of case studies, resources, news, information on recycling technologies, legislation, events, and profiles of member organizations. The June 2007 issue is available online, and archived issues are available all the way back to 2005. Information on signing up for the bulletin is available on the WasteCap Wisconsin home page.