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Archive for July, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up – 7/19/13

July 19th, 2013

Minnesota is fortunate to have generally good air quality that has improved over the last decade for most pollutants. Our work on air quality issues continues despite this progress. This week’s wrap up has your latest on air quality – from strange, innovative solutions, to how to get air quality updates delivered directly to your phone.

  1. Smog has a new nemesis: Sidewalks with an appetite for dirty air (Take Part).
  2. U.S. Forest Service Study demonstrates how the urban forest can help reduce asthma attacks and emergency room visits (The Baltimore Sun).
  3. ‘Heat Dome’ covering two-thirds of the U.S. traps air pollution closer to the ground, threatening air quality (The Los Angeles Times)
  4. The Senate confirms Gina McCarthy as new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (The Washington Post).
  5. Get Minnesota’s air quality forecast delivered directly to your smartphone with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s ‘Minnesota Air App’ (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency).
Emily Franklin


Director of Communications

Upcoming Events: New Frontiers in Sustainability Reporting

July 11th, 2013

Today we bring you a blog post from the ISOS Group that originally appeared on Triple Pundit, a website for “highly conscious business leaders” with tons of great info and resources on emerging sustainability issues. Here, they provide an update on the latest iteration of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a common method used by companies around the world to measure and report their sustainability efforts to the public.

If you’re interested in learning more about sustainability reporting, you’re in luck! Next week, Net Impact Minneapolis has partnered with the ISOS Group to bring GRI training to the Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. The training will take place July 15 – 16, and more information on registration is here.

If the training isn’t for you, you can still hear from local sustainability practitioners about their work, their reporting experiences, and the challenges they face. The panel discussion will feature 3M’s Katrina Hendricks, Suzanne Hilker of Best Buy, and Jeff Hanratty from General Mills, and will be held in room 2-260Z at the Carlson School, on Monday, July 15, 4:00pm – 6:00pm. More info is here. Hope to see you there!


Key Changes in Global Reporting Initiative’s G4

Previous iterations of the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards have been all-inclusive, encouraging reporters to report widely on their environmental, social and governance issues.  Some critics of the G3.1 and G3 standards complained that they rewarded breadth over depth by categorizing reports into three levels (A, B and C) – with the “best grade” given to the reports with the biggest scope.


Georgia Rubenstein


Senior Manager, Sustainability Program

Bike Commuting at Quality Bicycle Products

July 10th, 2013

I laughed when I saw a comment about QBP’s Bike To Work breakfast on our Facebook page: “You mean you guys have to schedule bike to work days?” We pride ourselves on being a company made up of committed cyclists. In season, more than 30 percent of our employees will bike to work. In 2012, employees biked 370,000 miles. But not everyone comes to the company as a dedicated cycling commuter. Plus, many employees live a ways from QBP or would have to travel on unsafe routes. So in fact we do schedule monthly Bike To Work day breakfasts. We also do a lot more.

I think there are four, maybe five, essential elements that make our commuting program one of the best in the country:Bike commuters at Quality Bicycle Products

  • Dedicated budget
  • Dedicated labor
  • Mileage tracking
  • Infrastructure
  • Willingness to experiment
    and have fun!

QBP also pays for commuter credits earned on Greenlightride.com.  Every day that you ride, QBP employees can simply log on to Greenlightride.com and earn up to 3 dollars a day in commuter credits.  These credits can be used for anything in the QBP catalog.

Every summer we also use Greenlightride.com to run our company wide, Commuter Bike League.  This is a fun competition to see who can ride the most, during a set time.  It’s just one more way that we try to get more butts on bikes.

Building the necessary infrastructure for cycling also gets people to commute.  Here’s some of the things that we’ve done to build up our commuter program. Infrastructure includes:

  • Indoor bike parking
  • Showers, lockers and fluffy towels
  • Ongoing bike mechanic classes
  • Fully-stocked employee bike shop
  • Bike/helmet benefit with a deep discounts on all products
  • All of the above are essential for a successful commuting program.

Infrastructure, while absolutely critical to a successful commuting program, also needs to be matched with a budget for an ongoing advocacy program. At QBP that means funding a quarter time position with a budget.

The willingness to experiment and have fun can’t be overemphasized. On Bike To Work Days we provide each rider with a hearty meal from our on-site Spokes Café. Recently we also stationed folks at the entrances to Hyland Park (our neighbor) with morning coffee and treats. We appreciate all the riders and try to find ways to show it.

Commuting has kept me and my fellow QBP employee’s healthcare rates down. Heck, we even received a $100 refund credit recently.  I hope that other companies can learn from the successes of our commuting program.  A study done by HealthPartners has really shown the benefits our commuter program.

Alice Erickson


Commuter Advocacy Coordinator, Quality Bicycle Products

Project Green Fleet on Parade

July 3rd, 2013

Environmental Initiative was fortunate to be awarded $3 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds a few years ago from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of our partners in this grant was Utility Systems of America, a trucking company in Eveleth, MN. heavy-duty diesel truck

Through Project Green Fleet, Environmental Initiative worked with Utility Systems of America to replace a tractor that was operating with much lower emission standards than new trucks. (In other words, the tractor was not equipped with the latest pollution control technologies). The new Mack Titan heavy-duty diesel truck was so awesome it made a past Eveleth Fourth of July parade! We love it.

Technology replacements are one of several strategies approved by EPA to reduce diesel emissions. Replacing a diesel vehicle or piece of equipment makes sense when existing equipment still has at least three years of operating life left, or if was manufactured before more stringent emissions standards were established. Utility Systems of America had to provide 75% of the total cost to purchase new vehicle, with the grant covering the rest.

To learn more about the various emissions reductions strategies available or EPA funding, check out the recently released report to Congress on the highlights of Diesel Emission Reduction Act funding.

From all of us at Environmental Initiative, we wish you a very Happy July 4th!


Emily Franklin


Director of Communications
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