Use EPA’s Safer Choice label to make better purchasing decisions

saferchoice_rgbFinding products that are safer for you, your employees, your family, and the environment should be easy. That’s why EPA developed the new Safer Choice label. Products with the Safer Choice label help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance.

More than 2,000 products currently qualify to carry the Safer Choice label. You can find products for your home at retail stores, as well as products to use in facilities like schools, hotels, offices, and sports venues.

Participation in the Safer Choice program is voluntary. Companies that make products carrying the Safer Choice label have invested heavily in research and reformulation to ensure that their products meet the Safer Choice Standard. These companies are leaders in safer products and sustainability.

Products have to meet stringent criteria in order to earn the Safer Choice label. In addition to product ingredients, the program also considers product performance, pH, packaging and more to ensure that products with the label are safer for you and your family. Once a product meets the Safer Choice Standard, EPA conducts annual audits to ensure that they continue to do so.

You can search for products that meet the Safer Choice Standard here. If you’re a manufacturer who wants learn more about qualifying for the program and applying for certification, EPA has more information here.

Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools

I have an article in the most recent issue of Library Hi Tech entitled “Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools.” In it, I provide an overview of green building technologies and practices and illustrate how public libraries can use them as tools to teach their communities about sustainability and foster behavior change.

The full citation for the article is: Barnes, Laura L. (2012). “Green Buildings as Sustainability Education Tools.” Library Hi Tech 30(3), 397-407. (Online at I’ve also deposited a version of this article at for those who don’t subscribe to the journal.

Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of green building technologies and practices and illustrate how public libraries can use them as tools to teach their communities about sustainability and foster behavior change.

Design/methodology/approach – Through literature searches, case studies analysis, and individual phone and e-mail interviews, the author identified ways that public libraries can use their buildings to demonstrate green technologies and practices and show their patrons how to apply them at home, at work, and in the community.

Findings – Education is a component of LEED certification. Many LEED certified libraries publicize a list of the green technologies used in their building projects. Some sponsor programs related to the green building and include permanent displays in the library to explain how the technology works. The Fayetteville Public Library went beyond these basic techniques to not only improve the sustainability of their operations but also become a community test bed for a renewable energy project.

Originality/value – This paper sheds light on how building projects can be used not only to educate the public about green technologies and practices, but also inspire others to begin using similar techniques at home, at work, and in the community.

USGBC Digital Resource Catalog

The following is a guest post by Anne Less, Knowledge Center Specialist for the U.S. Green Building Council. For more information about the UGBC’s Knowledge Center, as well as to search their catalog (available on Library Thing), visit

In order to serve the ever-growing professional development needs of the green building community, over the past year, the USGBC Knowledge Exchange team has collected and cataloged over 400 free digital resources that relate to green building.  The USGBC Resource Catalog includes a wide variety of resources on green building topics, including energy efficiency, materials, affordable housing, best practices, business cases, etc.  This collection, which is limited to free, educational, non-promotional resources, aims to inspire a commitment to lifelong learning and sustainable building practices and behaviors.

The USGBC Resource Catalog can be found at

Content suggestions are always welcome!  To recommend an item for the Resource Catalog, please email

April 2009 Site of the Month: The Sustainable Sites Initiative

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.

2008 Schaeffer Environmental Award Recognizes Marilyn Jones

[Post author: Wayne Duke]

Printing Industries of America is pleased to announce that Marilyn Jones, President and Owner of Consolidated Printing Company in Chicago, Illinois, is the recipient of the 2008 William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award. Established in 1990 and named for environmental pioneer and researcher Dr. William Schaeffer (1922-2003), the Schaeffer Award honors an individual who has made significant contributions towards environmentally sound practices in the printing industry. Dr. Schaeffer was widely known and respected for his ongoing environmental advocacy and leadership for the graphic communications industry.

Since the company’s beginning in 1973, Ms. Jones has taken steps to ensure that Consolidated Printing maintains its profitability while complying with local, state, and federal statutes and regulations; protecting employee health and well being; and operating as a good citizen of the community. The company mission is “to provide high quality printing services with a zero impact on the environment.”

Recognizing that printing is among the top ten most toxic industries in the U.S., Ms. Jones has focused her career on actively pursuing the elimination of toxic chemicals in the printing process. Consolidated Printing uses an all-natural process without toxic chemicals that are harmful to workers, the community, or air, land and water. In early years, common household products were substituted for harmful chemicals-cooking oil as a roller lubricant, vinegar as a neutralizer, and fabric softener as a wetting agent. Ms. Jones works with suppliers to eliminate harmful substances in chemicals and offers her shop as a willing beta test site for products that could potentially be safer for the environment. Today, Consolidated Printing uses an all-vegetable process, including inks, pigments and solutions, and the company is petroleum and carcinogen free.

In recognition of Consolidated Printing’s accomplishments and level of environmental sustainability, Ms. Jones has received awards from the Illinois EPA, three Illinois Governors, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and the Chicago Department of the Environment. In addition, Consolidated Printing has been asked to open a second location to provide the printing services at the Business Service Center for the Green Exchange, a retail and office facility that will house some 100 businesses, all of them environmentally and socially responsible. The first of its kind in the U.S., the Green Exchange building is a four-story, 272,000 square-foot former factory being converted according to LEED Platinum standards and incorporating a wide array of green building features and benefits.

Throughout her 35 years as a printer, Ms. Jones has used her own resources and initiative to ensure that others learn of the many ways a firm can print responsibly, honoring the environment as well as the health and well-being of the persons who produce printed product. She was involved in the development of the Great Printers Project, the first team in the nation seeking to create a business environment conducive to pollution prevention for the entire printing industry. Consolidated Printing became the first printing company in Illinois to achieve Great Printer status in 1997. The company then produced a film with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and Ms. Jones and other Consolidated Printing employees traveled the state with IEPA representatives to raise awareness of the Project among printers. Hoping to establish an “effective and easy to understand program for complying with OSHA regulations,” the Consolidated Printing staff also participated in a national OSHA project for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Working with several printing companies, Consolidated Printing formulated teaching materials to be utilized by printing companies across America in the National Pilot Project.

Ms. Jones works continuously to spread the word about sustainability and green in the printing industry. Outreach efforts include speaking engagements; educational and environmental committee involvement; exhibiting at a variety of facilities and events; participation on panels, blogs, You Tube and internet radio shows. Environmental sustainability in the printing industry has also been taught by Ms. Jones during weekly tours of Consolidated Printing for clients, printers, suppliers, associations, and radio and television crews, which have resulted in recent segments on Chicago’s WLS Channel 7, NBC Channel 5, and Good Morning America. She makes herself accessible to all who wish to learn of her pioneering practices.

The William D. Shaeffer Environmental Award is presented annually at the National Environmental Health and Safety (NEHS) Conference. This year’s NEHS Conference will be held March 16-18 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Back to School: GLRPPR’s Energy Efficient Schools and Students Topic Hub


It’s that time of year again. As students go back to school to focus on the three Rs, school districts and technical assistance providers may want to focus on the two Es (energy efficiency). The Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) has developed a Topic Hub on Energy Efficient Schools and Students that 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. A “Curricula” section identifies energy related instructional materials and standards-linked K-12 curricula for classrooms.

New resources are continuously added to the Hub’s “Complete List of Links.” If you would like to suggest links for the hub or have other comments, please contact Joy Scrogum.

See the main Topic Hub menu on the GLRPPR web site for other Hubs maintained by GLRPPR and other Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) centers.

July 2008 Site of the Month: Minnesota GreenStar

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, MN GreenStar Logobuilder 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.

Check Out GLRPPR’s Sustainable School Design Topic Hub

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.

New resources are continuously added to the Hub’s “Complete List of Links.” If you would like to suggest links for the hub or have other comments, please contact Joy Scrogum.

See the main Topic Hub menu on the GLRPPR web site for other Hubs maintained by GLRPPR and other Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) centers.

P2 Go Bragh: Emerald Isle

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For those of us of Irish descent (and those who pretend to be Irish, if just for today), I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time considering environmental initiatives in Ireland. Here are a few examples of green activities on the Emerald Isle:

  • Wind Power: According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, “wind energy provides electricity to the equivalent of 40 million European citizens, and wind farms in Ireland supply enough clean green power to support over 146,000 users.” Their web site provides an interactive map of existing wind farms in Ireland (as of April 2007). A recent post on the Green Tech Blog (“Ireland: Where Wind Power is King” by Michael Kanellos) discusses the great potential for further wind farm development on the island, both on and offshore.
  • Cultivate Living and Learning Centre: The Cultivate Centre in Dublin serves as a hub for environmental activities and ideas. Their web site provides a green map of Dublin; environmental workshop listing; a directory of schools, businesses and other organizations in Ireland that are teaching or training and have principles of sustainability rooted in their mission and strategies; information on energy issues and climate change; and a host of other resources. The themes addressed in their educational programs include green building, permaculture and organic gardening, renewable energy, energy conservation, and rethinking urban design and planning.
  • Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP): This program of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency encourages Irish business and industry to produce goods and services in more environmentally friendly ways. That agency defines “Cleaner Greener Production” as “the application of integrated preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment, for example: (1) Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes (2) Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal (3) Services: encouraging and supporting the development of higher environmental performance in the service sector, by incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.”

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