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Archive for November, 2016

In the Air: November News

November 30th, 2016

Welcome to the second installment of a new, monthly blog series focused on the environmental, economic, and health effects of air pollution exposure. Think of this as an easy way to keep up to date on air quality news.

In this month’s issue, learn about vulnerable populations, how trees can cut air pollution, and the first EV shuttle bus fleet.

AIR QUALITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT


Study: Tree planting pays off for Minneapolis, other cities

A study conducted by The Nature Conservancy found that Minneapolis was among 16 North American cities where there is a return on investment for planting trees. They provide both a cooling effect and significant reductions in air pollution. Read MPR’s coverage »

Rise in global carbon emissions slows

The Scientific American reports, “While Americans used more oil and gas in 2015, the United States decreased emissions by 2.6 percent as the use of coal declined. Researchers expect to see a decrease in emissions of 1.7 percent in 2016.” Read the full story »

 

AIR QUALITY AND THE ECONOMY

School bus
First ever EV shuttle bus fleet launches

EV company Proterra and real estate company JLL are partnering to create an electric bus fleet in Chicago. The new fleet of 10 electric buses is more economical the first all-electric shuttle fleet to operate in the United States. Learn more »

Introducing Project Stove Swap  

Project Stove Swap provides financial incentives to residents, businesses, and organizations to replace old appliances with more efficient, less-polluting technologies. Read more about Project Stove Swap and how your organization can become more efficient »

A step toward producing cleaner air

Mathiowetz Construction in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota partnered with Project Green Fleet to retrofit one of their loaders.  Learn more about their commitment to cleaner air »

 

AIR QUALITY AND HEALTH


300M Children are breathing extremely toxic air, UNICEFF says

According to a UNICEFF report released this month, it is estimated that 300 million children around the world are breathing toxic air. Children are among the populations most vulnerable to air pollution’s health effects, and many of the affected live in areas “where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines by at least six times.”

Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults

While we know air pollution can impact vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly, a new study from the University of Louisville reports that fine particulate matter may be associated with blood vessel damage among young, healthy adults. Read the report »

Bill Droessler

POSTED BY:

Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

16 Reasons to Give this Season

November 16th, 2016

GTMD16GivingTuesday

Toward the end of every year, Environmental Initiative takes time to reflect and be thankful for our collaborative efforts. We’ve launched new projects, gathered business leaders, and informed serious policy decisions— but we cannot do what we do without you.

November 17 and 29, Give to the Max Day and Giving Tuesday, are two days of the year when individuals across the state make donations to the causes they care about. In 2016, our staff grew to 16 employees, so to celebrate we discussed 16 reasons to give to Environmental Initiative.

Here are our thoughts on the most important reasons to donate today:

The 16 Most Important Reasons to Give:

1. “No one can solve environmental problems alone, and we all have to help! We’re better together.” – Greg Bohrer, Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment Program

2. “I think our most exciting project right now is the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition. It’s an unprecedented venture, seeking a sustainable and renewable supply chain.” – Brian Columbus, Business Manager

3. “For those who believe in collaborative, inclusive, partnership-driven change, now is the time to support Minnesota’s best example of this behavior on environmental issues.” – Bill Droessler, Director, Air Program

4. “We’re an organization that truly works with people in mind. Our efforts have far-reaching health benefits for individuals living across the state.” – Rachel Dupree, Communications Associate

5. “We’re not a single issue nonprofit—we work to improve Minnesota’s air, land, water, public health, and energy practices. Your donation can mean a lot of different things.” – Emily Franklin, Communications Director

6. “Invest in innovation! We’re not afraid to try things that have never been done before.” – Ellen Gibson, Senior Director, Project and Programs

7. “Environmental Initiative is truly courageous in its approach. We are an organization of big thinkers and we deliver real results.” – Sam Hanson, Director, Sustainability

8. “Help us celebrate our 25 years of established and results-driven work with your support and partnership!” – Mike Harley, Executive Director

9. “Our policy programs are always changing, and your gift allows us to scope new projects and respond to community needs.” – Meleah Houseknecht, Director, Environmental Policy

10. “Now, more than ever, we need to work to find common ground to solve our state’s environmental problems.” – Erin Niehoff, Project and Administrative Assistant

11. “We’ll use your gift in the most responsible way possible for the greatest impact.” – Judd Larson, Chief Financial Officer

12. “We don’t say it because we’re “Minnesota nice,” but we’re the best at what we do. From consensus to execution, we are efficient, effective, and always striving to get better. I’m proud of the work we do and you should be too.” – Bjorn Olson, Senior Environmental Project Associate

13. “We don’t just pioneer projects, we also lift up the work of others. We seek out local environmental champions and honor them every year at the Environmental Initiative Awards.” – Andrea Robbins, Director, Designer and Engagement

14. “When you give to Environmental Initiative, it demonstrates that your values align with ours.” – Dani Schurter, Project Manager

15. “We bring people together that normally may not sit at the same table and work to build consensus, which is something the world needs more of these days.” – Sacha Seymour-Anderson, Director, Development

16. “In a time of division, Environmental Initiative cuts through disagreement, partisanship, and rhetoric to build lasting partnerships that lead to real, measurable environmental results.” – Mikey Weitekamp, Senior Project Manager

Mike Harley

POSTED BY:

Executive Director

Greg Bohrer Selected to Participate in the Minnesota Agricultural & Rural Leadership Program

November 14th, 2016

We are proud to share that Greg Bohrer, Senior Manager of Agriculture & Environment at Environmental Initiative was one of thirty individuals selected to participate in the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program. Two thirds of participants are agricultural producers and the other third are people involved in agribusiness or rural leadership positions.

GregAs a member of Class IX, Greg will participate in a dynamic two-year educational experience featuring several in-state seminars, a six-day national study seminar, and a 10- to 14-day international study seminar. The current cohort meets starting next week through April 2018.

“I am really looking forward to the program, said Greg Bohrer – Senior Manager, Agriculture and Environment, “This is a tremendous opportunity to get to know other emerging leaders in agriculture and rural Minnesota and to develop my own leadership skills and understanding of agricultural issues. I am excited to start diving into it and am grateful to have been selected.”

Program curriculum covers a range of topics including leadership development, rural industry and trade, natural resources, and diversity. The goal of the program is to help rural and agricultural leaders develop the necessary skills to maximize their impact across local, state, and international arenas.

Congratulations to Greg and to his fellow Minnesota Agricultural & Rural Leadership Program participants. Meet Class IX »

Ellen Gibson

POSTED BY:

Senior Director, Projects & Programs

Introducing Project Stove Swap

November 3rd, 2016

Since Clean Air Minnesota’s inception, members of the partnership have been thinking about and working on many strategies to improve Minnesota’s air quality. While wood smoke had been identified as a major source of pollutants, a significant funding source has not been available to start a project until this year with Minnesota Power. After consulting with air experts, securing funding, setting concrete goals, and hiring staff (me!), we’re excited to introduce Project Stove Swap.

PSS-HEADER-shortIn short, Project Stove Swap is a voluntary wood stove change-out program. The project provides financial incentives to residents and organizations to replace old appliances with new, more efficient, less-polluting technologies. Currently, Project Stove Swap is working in 17 Northeastern Minnesota counties. We’re excited to be expanding the scope of our clean air work (And I’m excited to be visiting 17 Northeastern Minnesota counties on a regular basis!) 

How Project Stove Swap Works

Residents and organizations that use older, non-EPA certified wood heaters as a primary or major heat source are eligible for a financial incentive to change out their appliance.

To start, participants can contact one of our pre-qualified vendors, to verify their eligibility, select a new appliance, and fill out an application. If approved, vendors will provide the Project Stove Swap incentive as a straight discount off of the total cost at the time of payment. Learn more about the application and change-out process »

Why Wood Smoke?

While the smell of wood smoke on a crisp November day may seem cozy and nostalgic, wood smoke is composed of gases, chemicals, and fine particles that can lead to a variety of serious health issues. The finest particles are so small that they can be absorbed by your lungs and enter your bloodstream, causing cardiac and respiratory complications. Learn more about your health and wood smoke »

While Minnesota is fortunate to have generally good air quality, negative health effects of air pollution are being observed at ever lower concentrations. Because of this, federal air quality standards are predicted to become stricter over time, putting Minnesota at risk of violating these standards.

Swapping out just one older wood stove for a new, more efficient model is the pollution reduction equivalent of removing over 700 cars from the road per year. In other words, it’s a cost effective way to proactively and voluntarily reduce air pollution, improve health outcomes, and avoid costly federal regulations. In addition, many of the heating appliances are made in Minnesota and all of the vendors are Minnesota-based so every dollar Project Stove Swap spends is pumped into the local economy.

We’re just getting Started

Project Stove Swap is just one of several efforts underway to help achieve Clean Air Minnesota’s goal of reducing man-made sources of fine particulate matter (soot) and ground level ozone precursor emissions (smog) by 10%.

Though we’re thrilled our clean air work is growing, we’re never really satisfied. While our efforts in Northeastern Minnesota will continue for at least the next year, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for ways to improve and expand the project.

Getting Involved

Want to get involved? Contact me at 612-334-3388 ext. 8109 to learn more about replacing your wood burning appliance, becoming a participating a vendor, or educating your community about wood smoke. Visit our frequently asked questions page for additional information.

Mikey Weitekamp

POSTED BY:

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative

Meet Antea Group: Member of the Month

November 1st, 2016

Antea Group is an international engineering and environmental consulting firm with USA headquarters in Minnesota. We work to reduce environmental footprints, mitigate safety risks, protect against engineering failures and minimize social impacts for our clients worldwide. Subscribing to a philosophy of Better Business, Better World®, we believe that doing the right thing environmentally and socially will improve competitive position and prosperity over the long-term.

As an environmental consulting firm, we are always looking for new ways to bring value to clients that positively impacts both their business performance and their environmental performance. A concept that has become increasingly important to our clients recently is the Circular Economy, a framework that departs from the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ manufacturing process and urges that businesses cycle materials and resources back into supply chains, effectively eliminating waste. Today, we are at the forefront of these discussions as a founding member of the Circular Economy 100, a global platform bringing together leading companies and emerging innovators to accelerate a sustainable path forward for industry.MemberoftheMonth

Another way we are helping clients make better decisions when it comes to sustainability is through our Accounting for Sustainability practice. We are often asked: How do I know which sustainability projects to invest in? Which sustainability efforts will create the greatest environmental, social and business benefits? To reduce this uncertainty, we’ve developed a process and set of tools that enable quantification and monetization of business benefits, both tangible and intangible, that accompany sustainability investments. Through business case development, cost/benefit analysis, predictive modeling, and metrics formulation, we can help demonstrate business impact for every dollar spent on sustainability. Check out this explainer video.

Antea Group has been a proud supporter of Environmental Initiative for over two decades. Through membership, board participation and sponsorship of the annual awards program, we demonstrate our excitement and appreciation for all of the great work that Environmental Initiative undertakes to develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems.

Alison Bryant

POSTED BY:

Antea Group
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