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Archive for October, 2014

Shop for a Cause on November 4th

October 28th, 2014

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is nearly upon us – and with that comes the need to find a perfect gift or two. The Minnesota Environmental Fund has partnered with Ten Thousand Villages in Saint Paul agaiMEF_logo_webn this year so you can pick up that special gift for your host, hostess, family member or friend.

Join me on November 4th for the upcoming shopping event to benefit the Minnesota Environmental Fund at Ten Thousand Villages gift store. From 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, you can shop for a great cause: the Minnesota Environmental Fund. The more you shop, the more money is donated to support Minnesota’s environmental organizations!

  • For evening’s sales of $0-$300: 10% of sales will be donated
  • For sales of $301-$500: 15% of sales will be donated
  • For sales of $500+: 20% of sales will be donated

If you can’t make it on the 4th, pre-shop at Ten Thousand Villages. Staff will hold your items and run your credit card information during the event and items can be picked up when it’s convenient for you. I hope to see you there!

A note from Environmental Initiative: We’re one of more than twenty member organizations receiving support through Minnesota Environmental Fund. As the holiday season begins, we wanted to share this unique opportunity to support us and the Minnesota Environmental Fund through the purchase of sustainable, fair trade gifts.

Cordelia Pierson


Executive Director, Minnesota Environmental Fund

Federal Air Quality Standards: Is it Déjà Vu All Over Again?

October 21st, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to release its decision on new standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, by early December. This release has been rescheduled multiple times over many years. Heck, I’ve even written at least twice about these standards. As Yogi Berra said, this is like déjà vu all over again.

Initially, the Bush Administration tightened slightly the smog standard in March 2008. Lawsuits followed because that final standard was outside of the range and less stringent than the level recommended by the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson described this standard as “legally indefensible.” Fast-forward to this year and CASAC has again recommended more a stringent standard. The EPA has made its recommendation, which is currently being reviewed by all the appropriate agencies and the White House. By Court order, the final decision will be made public by December 1, 2014. And, regardless of where the standard is set more lawsuits are likely to follow. I am leaving out lots of interesting and juicy legal and procedural elements (well, interesting to me anyway), but you get the picture. (more…)

Bill Droessler


Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

Net Impact is coming to Minneapolis: What an opportunity we have! Perspectives from a “senior citizen.”

October 7th, 2014

Net Impact Conference LogoOne of my most exciting and interesting opportunities since I retired from Aveda last year has been to work with Net Impact planning their NI14 conference that will be held at the Convention Center from November 6 – 8.

Net Impact is an impressive organization – the leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to work for a sustainable and socially responsible future. At the heart of their community are over 50,000 student and professional leaders.

Their conferences are among the best I have attended – and in my lengthy career, which included a stint at The Conference Board, there have been many to compare.  I truly speak from experience!

The keys to the quality of their event include interesting and diverse contributors ranging from CEO’s of major global corporations to start-up social ventures; and highly interactive session formats that enable participants – 2700 expected and many of them students and young professionals – to engage and be heard as well as listen and learn.  And this gives everyone the chance to truly understand what young people are thinking and committed to.  For me, personally, the candid and thoughtful discussions at the conference are encouraging and exciting, and these carry over into interesting and engaging “no-host” dinners and other activities in the evenings.

The biggest challenge in a Net Impact conference is choosing from among the many interesting offerings – 130 +/- sessions plus an Expo.   It is akin to trying to drink from a fire hose.  To help participants sort priorities the conference is organized into 10 interest tracks and students are encouraged through discounts to attend in groups in order cover and share as much of the content as possible.  Those of us who attend alone just have to agonize over what to attend!

So, if you want to interact with the sustainability leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow in our own backyard, clear your busy calendars and prepare for 2 – 3 days of highly stimulating learning and sharing.

Our Twin Cities, Minnesota, and upper-mid west communities have much to offer the participants and much to learn from them.  Let us take advantage of a rare and valuable opportunity – I look forward to seeing you there to hearing others’ thoughts about this opportunity.

Chuck Bennett


Retired, Former Vice President of Earth & Community Care - Aveda Corporation

Member of the Month: Barr Engineering

October 1st, 2014

Barr Engineering Company is honored to be featured as Environmental Initiative’s member of the month. Reading the profiles of other featured members, it’s heartening to see how many companies and individuals, like us, have worked with Environmental Initiative since its early days and remain committed to its goals and objectives. That’s a key reason we’ve stay engaged with the organization for nearly two decades—for the opportunities it offers to work with a diverse group of members and address environmental issues we all care deeply about.

While Barr provides a range of engineering and environmental consulting services for clients nationwide, we’re well-known locally for helping clients preserve and improve water quality as well as develop best practices for water conservation and use. To us, sponsoring a water sustainability session in November as part of Environmental Initiative’s Business & Environment series just makes sense. Headquartered in Minnesota for nearly half a century, we can’t help but appreciate ideas and initiatives that make sense, like so many of Environmental Initiative’s efforts.Surley Brewing Construction Site

Because water isn’t our clients’ only concern, our projects with them run the gamut of sustainability issues—from alternative and renewable energy resources to ecological site restoration, from air quality compliance to brownfields redevelopment, which is the ultimate in recycling. We’ve helped clients win more than $22 million in brownfields grant funds to bring new life to former industrial sites, including the Surly destination brewery under construction in Minneapolis.

When we began collecting our thoughts for this piece, we were initially disconcerted by how they seemed to echo those expressed in the profiles of other members. Thinking about it, we realized these similarities reveal not so much our lack of imagination as our shared commitment to developing creative solutions to environmental problems through our work with Environmental Initiative.

We’re proud to support Environmental Initiative’s efforts to promote collaboration and interaction—but, more importantly, to be a catalyst for turning thoughts into actions and discussions into environmental solutions. We look forward to continuing our involvement and service.


A note from Environmental Initiative:
Mike Hansel is a Senior Chemical Engineer and Vice President at Barr Engineering as well as member of Environmental Initiative’s Board of Directors. Each month, we feature information about one of our members on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Seymour-Anderson anytime at 612-334-3388 ext. 101 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Mike Hansel


Vice President, Senior Chemical Engineer - Barr Engineering
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