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Archive for October, 2016

In the Air: October News

October 31st, 2016

Welcome to a new blog series!

Every month, we’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest in air quality news. Think of this as your one-stop shop for air news, with special focus on the environmental, economic, and health effects of air pollution exposure.

In this month’s issue, learn about local air quality heroes, how clean air legislation affects the way we see the world, and how science is advancing around air pollution and health.

Air Quality and the Environment


Alternate Reality: U.S. Cities without The Clean Air Act

In a weird, alternate reality, you can see two versions of major U.S. skylines: one with The Clean Air Act, and one without. The results? The Statue of Liberty would be “submerged in a sea of smog” without the legislation. See the eerie photos for yourself »


Mathiowetz Construction Invests in Cleaner Air

A construction company in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota took the steps to invest in clean air with Project Green Fleet. Pollution reductions from their diesel equipment upgrades are equal to removing 2,200 cars from the road each year in Minnesota. Read about their accomplishments »

 

Air Quality and the Economy


Judge Approves VW’s $14.7 Billion Settlement Over Emissions Scandal

Earlier this month, a federal judge approved the “largest civil settlement in automaker history” with Volkswagen in regard to their vehicle emissions. The process of compensating U.S. car-owners is beginning now. NPR covers this historic settlement »


Clean Car Standards Continue to Save Americans Money, Reduce Air Pollution

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, consumers will save an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars in gas money over the life of the current federal Clean Car Standards. In doing so, we’ll eliminate 6 billion metric tons of air pollution. Read more about how consumers benefit from the Clean Car Standards »

 

Air Quality and Health


In New Ozone Alert, A Warning of Harm to Plants and to People

Midwest scientists continue to discover the negative effects air pollution can have on the environment and our bodies. As the world warms, ground-level ozone is causing plants to “turn brown and sickly,” and is having negative health outcomes in people as well. Ozone is both a naturally occurring and human-created gas, but on the ground level, it can be highly toxic. Learn more »


Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Diabetes, Say Researchers

A new study suggests air pollution exposure in a place of residence can increase the risk of developing insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic state. As science advances, we discover more about how air pollution affects us, and federal air regulations can become more stringent as a result. Read the study »

Bill Droessler

POSTED BY:

Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

Partnership to Watch: Ceres, WWF, and the AgWater Challenge

October 28th, 2016

Food companies face a range of social and environmental challenges. Global freshwater supplies are increasingly at risk for scarcity and pollution. Consumers are also demanding more information, transparency, and sustainability from companies who produce our food.

Environmental Initiative is working to address these challenges and trends through Field Stewards – an innovative program that provides financial incentives to farmers who implement best practices to protect water quality. But, we aren’t the only ones who are using the power of partnership to achieve better environmental and business results.

The AgWater Challenge

Ceres and WWF launched the AgWater Challenge, a collaborative initiative to advance water stewardship and sustainable food sourcing solutions in the food and beverage sector. This sector alone uses more than 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, largely for growing the food we eat. The AgWater Challenge aims to inspire the world’s most influential food and beverage companies to:

  • Reduce the water impacts associated with key agricultural commodities (like corn and soy)
  • Implement locally-relevant strategies to mitigate water quality concerns and water scarcity risks in agricultural sourcing areas
  • Support and incentivize farmers and other agricultural producers to strengthen water stewardship

Minnesota Companies Recognized

Minnesota-based General Mills and Hormel, along with five other companies representing $123 billion in net annual revenue, are currently being recognized for their participation in the challenge.

AgWater Challenge

Hormel is a multi-national manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, specializing in processing and marketing pork and turkey. The Austin, MN-based company has committed to develop a sustainable agriculture policy, assess water quality and water quantity challenges in priority sourcing areas, and establish time-bound goals aimed at improving water quality in high water risk regions. Learn more about Hormel’s commitment here.

General Mills was recognized for their ongoing efforts across all five stewardship activities.

Congratulations to Ceres, WWF, Hormel, General Mills and all of the AgWater Challenge partners. It’s inspiring to see collaboration in action for our shared water resources.

Greg Bohrer

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

Three Tips for Successful Sustainability Storytelling

October 20th, 2016

When it comes to sustainability, there is a lot to communicate. And you’re dealing with multiple audiences. And those audiences have different needs. And the stories and information are often complex or loaded with acronyms and jargon.

If you’re charged with communicating your business or organization’s sustainability efforts, how do you make sure your stories reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time? How do you make sure your stories are compelling and engaging?

Last week we spent some time unpacking these questions and getting to the heart of what makes great stories at our Business & Environment session, Sustainability Storytelling: Going Beyond the Report.

Here are the three things I took away:


Visuals Matter

Our first speaker, Arlene Birt with Background Stories, kicked off the session talking about what makes a good sustainability story and how visuals can help your messages stick. Did you know a whopping sixty-five percent of the population are visual learners? The right visuals can help communicate context, convey emotion, and make complex data sets more easily digestible. Check out Arlene’s presentation or her TEDx talk on visualizing sustainability.

Measure in Dinosaurs

Mel Meegan, Director of Marketing at Peace Coffee spent some time during the session sharing some of Peace Coffee’s success stories. Did you know Peace Coffee delivers their coffee by bike and their bike couriers haul the weight equivalent of five dinosaurs per year? That is crazy! Measuring in dinosaurs might not be your metric, but it’s a great example of how you can make numbers immediately relatable to your audiences. View Mel’s presentation »

Use Your Barriers and Your FailuresBES2.2016

Kate Lilja Lohnes with Lilja Communications facilitated a storytelling workshop during the final hour of the session. She also spoke about how to use barriers to your advantage. It can be easy to gloss over the “what went wrong” parts of a story to get right to the great outcome. But, that old cliché of failure being our greatest teacher is true. Let your audiences know where you tried, failed, and then tried again. This is the interesting stuff!

Missed the session? You can check out all of the presentations on our website.

Emily Franklin

POSTED BY:

Director of Communications

Meet Andersen Corporation: Member of the Month

October 11th, 2016

YellowstoneOct15

Paintbrush: employee dormitory located near Old Faithful – first LEED Platinum building in the National Park Service.

At Andersen, our values define us – they speak to our past and guide our future. They are the foundation of what makes us Andersen. Our value of Corporate Citizenship ensures we continue our longstanding commitment to leadership in environmental stewardship and to make a positive impact in the communities in which we live and work. It is the reason we’ve supported Environmental Initiative for over two decades.

It is also the reason we have partnered with Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone captured our attention nearly a decade ago with their quest to become the greenest national park and Andersen joined that effort, sharing our expertise in energy efficiency and providing in-kind windows and doors for key projects in the park.  It has been a remarkable journey and a wonderful way to live one of our key values. Andersen’s involvement during the past several years, as well future green building plans within the park, is detailed here.

Or, see firsthand and hear from our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jay Lund about the steps we are taking to reduce our environmental footprint and increase our positive impact across our value chain as he speaks from Yellowstone National Park – Preserving the View: 2015 Corporate Sustainability Report.

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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. 8108 to learn more about this membership benefit.

Annie Perkins

POSTED BY:

Sustainability Analyst at Andersen Corporation

Meet Maddie Norgaard

October 11th, 2016

Environmental Initiative has always been an organization deeply rooted in partnerships that work collaboratively to strategize around complex environmental problems. It’s one reason why we convened the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition (MNSGC), a business led effort focusing on the advancement of the circular economy.

To better shape MNSGC actions, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE) and other member organizations are working with a graduate student to research practical, circular economy applications. Her research will influence the direction and project goals and how MNSGC will function within the Midwest.

So, without further delay… Meet Maddie Norgaard! Maddie

Maddie is a first-year student pursing a Master of science, technology, and environmental policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Maddie currently holds a B.A. in environmental studies from the College of Saint Benedict.

In summer 2016, Maddie participated in Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy in Chicago where she was inspired by lessons in circular economy, industrial ecology and systems thinking. She is eager to explore these concepts further and help MNSGC discover opportunities for collective action.

Her work will help coalition partners advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability through the circular economy. Maddie will be working closely with Environmental Initiative as well as member organizations to conduct her research. We’re excited to have her, and we’re eager to get started! Learn more about Maddie »

Rachel Dupree

POSTED BY:

Communications Associate

Well Being and a Sustainable Future

October 10th, 2016

In the vast world of sustainability, the role of industry to change our future is becoming increasingly important. Though there are many ways to chart this course, designing and procuring sustainable buildings is a viable path toward corporate sustainability.

Additionally, better building designs can have major co-benefits in terms of staff retention, job performance, productivity, creativity, and the general health and well-being of individuals.

To shed light on the connection of buildings, health, and the environment, Interface and partners are hosting Well Being and a Sustainable Future, an evening event focused on these topics. Bill Browning and Paul Hawken will be speaking about the impacts of human health, the carbon equation, and environmental restoration.

This event is free, but registration is required. Learn more and register »

EVENT DETAILS

Thursday, November 3, 2016
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Pantages Theater
710 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

Directions and Registration »

We hope you will join us for this session and learn the connections between our environment and human health with Interface, Pulse Products, Fluid Interiors, MSR, and CBRE.

Mike Harley

POSTED BY:

Executive Director

Introducing the Clean Air Assistance Project

October 5th, 2016

Surprise! We launched a new project! Well, sort of…

Previously known as our Area Source Emission Reduction project, the Clean Air Assistance Project is an effort to connect businesses with grants and technical resources to voluntarily reduce air pollution.

Current resources are available through the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the University of Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP), and Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MnOSHA). Environmental Initiative has provided “customer service” to businesses interested in leveraging these resources to voluntarily reduce their emissions. Our services ranged from business engagement and recruitment, grant application assistance, and overall project coordination between funders, vendors, and grantees. We’re still doing this work, but we felt that is was time for us to put our money where our mouth is.

With that, we are excited to announce that Environmental Initiative has additional funding to complement existing programs. Funds are available to businesses of all sizes, locations, and across industry sectors. You name it—auto shops in Alexandria, degreasers in Duluth, printers in Pipestone, and everything in between—they’re all eligible to participate.

Exciting, right? We thought so, too. That’s why we renamed this project to reflect the expansion. We’re hoping to raise additional funds to increases our impact, expand outreach to additional geographical areas and businesses, and further reduce air pollution across the state.

Environmental Initiative is leading the Clean Air Assistance Project, which operates under the umbrella of Clean Air Minnesota, a coalition of diverse partners working toward a common goal of 10% statewide emission reductions.

Through existing grant programs and Environmental Initiative outreach, the combined efforts of Clean Air Minnesota partners have eliminated more than 25 tons of the ozone-forming emissions known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

At the same time, these programs invested over $800,000 in businesses that embraced cutting-edge technologies as well as materials that position them on the forefront of innovative sustainability. Take a minute to watch this video from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about businesses who’ve upgraded equipment or processes for cleaner air:

We’re proud to offer resources that promote sustainable and tangible solutions to our environmental, economic, and public health challenges.

Email me or call 612-334-3388 ext. 8113 to find out more about the financial resources available now and how to get started reducing emissions at your business.

Bjorn Olson

POSTED BY:

Senior Environmental Project Associate
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