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Archive for July, 2014

Two Sides of the Energy Savings Coin: Technology and Behavior

July 29th, 2014

In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan (CPP); the proposed rule’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants 30% by 2030. If finalized, the CPP would be a landmark regulation, and the most significant step taken to date by the U.S. government to address climate change. The CPP outlines four main strategies that EPA believes can be the building blocks to achieving the reductions needed to meet the ambitious goal:

  • Make fossil fuel power plants more efficient
  • Use low-emitting power sources more
  • Use more zero and low emitting power sources
  • Use electricity more efficiently

The first three building blocks are technology switching strategies, and these are often our first and only thought when considering how to reduce our carbon impact, but strategies to reduce the amount of energy we use have an important role to play as well. A recent study by the Energy Savings Trust of the United Kingdom illustrates this point. The study found that people of Britain waste over $100 million a year by overfilling their kettles when making tea. The report: At Home with Water points out the water energy nexus — that savings from water conservation accrue not just from reduced supply costs, but from reduced energy costs as well. The other major point is that reducing the amount of energy we use is not just a technology problem; it includes a behavioral component as well.

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Nick Franco

POSTED BY:

Director, Sustainability Services - U.S. Energy Services, Inc.

Nominations Open: Recycling Association of Minnesota Awards

July 23rd, 2014

The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) is committed to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting, and purchasing practices using the most cost effective and environmentally sound methods available in Minnesota. We’re a nonprofit organization that provides educational forums and networking opportunities, creates unique recycling programs, and initiates dialogue among our diverse members.

I’m excited to announce that nominations are now open for the 2014 Recycling Association of Minnesota Awards. Our Board of Directors wants to recognize the environmental stewardship efforts of community groups, businesses, public entities, and individuals that benefit the communities in Minnesota through this awards program.

Individuals or recent programs contributing to the betterment of recycling or other resource conservation efforts in the state of Minnesota are eligible for RAM awards. Nominees do not need to be a member of RAM, but a RAM member must submit nominations using the award application. Nominations close on Friday, September 5, 2014 and awards will be given in the following categories: (more…)

Maggie Mattacola

POSTED BY:

Executive Director of Operations, Recycling Association of Minnesota

Staffing Changes at Environmental Initiative

July 16th, 2014

I have some big news to share with you about our program staffing. This post is a little lengthy, but I hope you will read all the way through for news about new staff, returning staff, and a staff departure.

Agriculture

Greg Bohrer has joined our staff as the Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program. Greg previously served as the Outreach Director for Senator Amy Klobuchar. We are happy to have him on board to lead the Responsible Crop Certificate project. Check out Greg’s recent blog post to learn a little bit more about him and be sure to say hello!

Clean Air
Our collaborative work on air quality over the past two years is paying off, as new project opportunities to reduce emissions have continued to emerge and the Clean Air Minnesota partnership evolves. Given all of these developments, I’m excited to announce that Bill Droessler has returned to Environmental Initiative this week as Senior Director, Strategic Project Planning. Bill will be entirely focused on fundraising for new projects and developing new projects with an emphasis on air quality initiatives as a start. The addition of Bill to our staff will provide additional capacity for us to get projects funded and off the ground to reduce emissions. Gena Gerard will continue to lead our air program and manage the Clean Air Minnesota partnership. Both Bill and Gena are excited about working together to make the largest impact on Minnesota’s air quality possible.

Sustainability
I am not so excited to let you know that Georgia Rubenstein has accepted a position in New York City as Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future and her last day with us will be July 15.  Forum for the Future is a UK-based nonprofit organization working globally with business and government to create a sustainable future. Their New York office opened in 2010.

I am grateful to Georgia for the six years that she has spent with Environmental Initiative. She will be sorely missed by our staff and partners. It was under her leadership that business sustainability came into its own as a new program area, and Georgia has embodied our mission and our values as much as anyone who has ever worked on our staff.

Georgia leaves our sustainability program in a strong position, and I look forward to building on her success working with Dani Schurter, Sacha Casillas, Judd Larson and the rest of our team.

If you have any questions about any of these changes, please feel free to contact me directly. We are sad to say farewell to Georgia, but are looking forward to pursuing many exciting opportunities with our new and current staff!

Mike Harley

POSTED BY:

Executive Director

Introducting Greg Bohrer – Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

July 14th, 2014

Hello everyone! I’m Greg Bohrer, the new Senior Manager for the Agriculture and Environment Program here at Environmental Initiative. I’m the lead on the Responsible Crop Certificate Program and other projects at the nexus of environment and agriculture.

I grew up in a farm family. My grandfather owned a feed store in rural Illinois, and one of my earliest memories is riding in my grandfather’s big truck to the local coop and watching the grain fill up the back of the truck with a golden wave. He also introduced me to the natural environment, taking me on long overnight canoe trips down the Rock River in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. From a young age, I appreciated the magic of watching a great blue heron take off and glide across the river, wing tips almost touching the water’s surface. Preserving that magic, and the natural environment that creates those moments of wonder, drives me in what I do.

At St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, I studied Environmental Studies and Political Science, focusing on how human interactions affect our natural environment and the policies that regulate that interface. I traveled to Australia to study their unique and delicate environments, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef and traveling extensively on the continent’s east coast.

Prior to landing at Environmental Initiative, I worked in the U.S. Senate with a focus on energy, environmental, and agricultural policy.  I worked on issues as diverse as the Farm Bill, invasive carp, climate change, and coal ash regulation. I learned a great deal about how self-interest drives public policy and how to harness that self-interest to create policies that benefit both the economy and the environment.

At Environmental Initiative, I look forward to using my talents to bring people together and create relationships and outcomes that will improve the sustainability of our agricultural system while giving farmers the flexibility they need to feed a growing world population. I’m excited to be part of the talented and passionate team at Environmental Initiative and I look forward to working for an organization will such a strong reputation for success, innovation, and action.

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

Minnesota Environmental Fund Announces Cordelia Pierson as New Executive Director

July 10th, 2014

As many of you know, Environmental Initiative is one of more than twenty local environmental nonprofit organizations that belong to the Minnesota Environmental Fund. We’ve been a member since 2004 and have directly benefited from Minnesota Environmental Fund’s efforts to provide education and a vital payroll giving choice to employees who wish to support environmental causes through workplace giving campaigns. It’s amazing what a few dollars per paycheck can do to help Environmental Initiative realize our mission.

I’m proud to announce  Cordelia Pierson has recently been named Minnesota Environmental Fund’s new executive director. She succeedsExecutive Director, Cordelia Pierson Ed Marek who led the organization for more than a decade. I had the opportunity to be directly involved in the hiring process for this extremely important position. I worked with a handful of other leaders from Minnesota Environmental Fund’s member organizations to support the search over the past several months. This experience was a strong reminder for me about the importance of Environmental Initiative’s involvement in the Minnesota Environmental Fund and with our fellow environmental organizations more broadly.

Cordelia brings more than twenty years of nonprofit and financial management experience to the organization as a former nonprofit executive director, board president, and program director. Most recently, Cordelia served as the executive director for the newly established, Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, where she led fundraising, organizational development, and riverfront land protection and revitalization efforts. I’m so impressed with Cordelia’s passion and dedication to Minnesota, to our special places, and our natural resources. She understands and greatly appreciates the importance of place and the need to build relationships with companies, organizations, and employees who are willing to invest financially to make our communities healthy and beautiful places to live.

I hope you will join me in welcoming Cordelia to the Minnesota Environmental Fund!

 

Mike Harley

POSTED BY:

Executive Director

Meet Our Members: Xcel Energy

July 1st, 2014

My company, Xcel Energy, is pleased to be a long-time partner of Environmental Initiative.  We’ve actually been involved since the very beginning, more than 20 years ago, when a new idea known then as the “Minnesota Environmental Initiative” was just beginning to find its place in the world. We’ve always known that our success as a company is directly related to the health of the communities we serve. These happen to be the same communities that Xcel Energy employees, like me, call home.

Xcel Energy, is a major U.S. electric and natural gas company based in Minneapolis. We operate in eight states and provide a comprehensive wind turnbineportfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers.  Our mission is to deliver clean, safe, reliable energy at a competitive price. We recognize that energy is fundamental to the quality of people’s lives and the economic health of our communities. Every employee knows that our customers rely on us around the clock, and we take that responsibility seriously.

We have a clean energy and emissions reduction strategy built around three components:  the increased use of renewable resources; energy saving programs for customers; and power plant fleet modernization initiatives.  Since 2005, Xcel Energy has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 19 percent and we are projected to achieve a 31 percent reduction by 2020, far exceeding our original goal of a 20 percent reduction by 2020.

We’re proud to have held the ranking of No. 1 provider of wind energy in the nation for 10 consecutive years now. The American Wind Energy Association also recognized Xcel Energy as the 2013 Utility of the Year for the second time in five years for our commitment to new wind energy acquisitions and progressive wind integration efforts. If you would like to learn more about Xcel Energy and its renewable energy and energy conservation programs, please explore us on-line at www.xcelenergy.com.

I appreciate that the company has allowed me the time and opportunity to serve on the Environmental Initiative Board of Directors, which I find to be very rewarding.  Environmental Initiative was founded around the belief that environmental progress is accomplished best through collaboration and partnerships, a belief that I very much share.

Terry Coss

POSTED BY:

Environmental Initiative Board of Directors
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