SUSTAINABLE CITY NETWORK
VOLUME 6 JANUARY 2013
BANNING PLASTIC BAGS: DOES IT REALLY WORK? WASTE GLASS FINDS NEW LIFE ZERO-WASTE EVENT CLIMATE-CHANGE IMPACTS
BEST OF LE
VOLUME 6 JANUARY 2013
Waste Glass Finds New Life as Alternate Aggregate
L.A. County Ushers in Waste-to-Energy Conversion
How to Put On a Zero-Waste Event
Sustainability Planning in Newport News
High Strength Waste Helps Supercharge Sewer Gas
Public Health Officials Respond to Climate-Change Impacts
Best Practices for Sustainable Energy and Water Management
Infrastructure Costs: Comparing Sustainable vs. Conventional Solutions
cover story Banning Plastic Bags: Does it Really Work? California Municipalities Lead the Way
Fleet Management: Itâ€™s All About the Numbers
Sustainable City Network Magazine
The Best of Sustainable City Network is a quarterly magazine highlighting the most popular articles posted on sCityNetwork.com, an online trade publication that serves municipal professionals and elected officials in all 50 U.S. states and the provinces of Canada. The magazine is available in print or as a digital download at www.sCityNetwork.com/bestof. Periodicals postage paid at Dubuque, Iowa. The opinions expressed in the magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sustainable City Network, Inc. SUBSCRIPTIONS Contact 312.239.0835; email@example.com Balanced Information. Intelligent Solutions. For Municipal Professionals
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from the editor Welcome to Sustainable City Network Magazine – the Best of sCityNetwork.com! This quarterly magazine is a compilation of the most popular articles on our web site and in our weekly e-newsletter, the InBox, which is now delivered to more than 37,000 municipal professionals and elected officials across the U.S. and Canada. Sustainable City Network, Inc. produces advertiser-supported, non-partisan articles, webinars, trade shows and white papers that provide local governments with quality, organized and timely information about sustainability projects, plans and best practices. This magazine is another way we fulfill our mission.
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In our October issue, we reported on the significant uptick in activities related to climate-change adaptation and community resilience, brought on by a spring and summer of droughts, wildfires and other extreme weather events. Then came Hurricane Sandy – a wake-up call for many – which put an exclamation point on the call for action throughout the U.S. and around the world. In this issue, we see how public health officials are gearing up to protect and treat citizens affected by the impacts of climate change and extreme weather. We see how two communities in the Midwest are converting local waste into energy that powers public facilities. Waste-to-energy conversions in L.A. County, using waste glass as paving aggregate in Austin, and putting on a zero-waste event in Arizona are all examples of what municipalities are doing to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our cover story this month studies the controversial banning of single-use plastic bags in a number of West Coast communities. Interestingly, the bans have as much to do with the damage the bags cause to recycling equipment as they do with the environmental concerns.
OUR MISSION “To make U.S. cities more sustainable through quality and well-organized information.”
Other articles in this issue focus on management issues like planning, measuring, reporting and communicating sustainability initiatives. We hope these examples help you lead initiatives in your own community or organization. The articles in this magazine have been selected by our readers. We’ve packaged them together in this convenient magazine format, available in print or as a digital download at sCityNetwork.com/Bestof. We hope you find value inside.
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Waste Glass Finds New Life as Alternate Aggregate Austin Public Works Department Uses Glass Crusher to Make Artificial Sand and Gravel BY ADELAIDE CHEN
Keri Burchard-Juarez, Austin’s assistant director for engineering and capital project delivery, and Steven Penshorn, supervising engineer for quality and standards management, presented KERI BURCHARD-JUAR E z STEVEN PENSHORN their findings at the American Public Works Association’s recent International Public AUSTIN, Texas — Civil engineers in the city Works Congress and Exposition in Anaheim. of Austin’s public works department have been experimenting with viable uses for “Public works organizations have a great waste glass – as in the kind many assume ability to further eliminate the landfilling of gets recycled into new bottles. glass waste,” said Burchard-Juarez. “We have a lot of opportunity to use (glass as) For the most part, though, waste glass fails alternate aggregate, and to experiment with to meet the stringent criteria – clean and it in some low-impact applications.” sorted by color – that manufactures require for making new bottles and jars. While some The department has substituted ground glass cullet fetches as much as $60 per ton, glass cullet for aggregate in public works unsorted glass co-mingled with other waste projects, using a glass crushing machine to is virtually worthless to manufacturers of produce consistencies as coarse as pebbles new glass. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be or as fine as sand, Burchard-Juarez said. removed from the waste stream to serve a useful purpose as an aggregate substitute Austin’s public works department has opted in a variety of practical applications. for simpler applications, including landscape mulch for walking trails, drainage In Austin, where residents and businesses media for pervious pavements, backfill for a throw away 50,000 tons of glass annually, retaining wall, and bedding material under it’s no small issue. In one composite study, sidewalks and small-diameter water and glass by weight made up a quarter of the service lines. city’s waste going to the landfill – higher than the U.S. average of 12 to 15 percent. Penshorn said smaller projects with less That’s just one of the challenges the city challenging performance requirements, and faces with an ambitious plan to divert applications that allow the cullet to be used 90 percent of its waste from the landfill “as is” without having to process it more by 2040. 
than usual, provide opportunities that are much more viable and allow easy entry for public works organizations. For a new sidewalk, workers substituted fine-grained glass cullet for the two-inch sand cushion layer they normally used. “It was often as simple as arranging for our contractors to go out to the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) to pick up the material instead of going out to the quarry,” said Penshorn. For a vacant lot that had issues with drainage and standing water, public works created a hybrid grass and pervious pavement. Beneath the sod, they sandwiched re-purposed crushed concrete between layers of glass cullet. “We had a problem with it draining so well it’s hard to keep the grass alive,” he said. A chip seal project to resurface a parking lot proved to be more of a challenge. The glass cullet didn’t adhere properly to the pavement. “Certainly the glass doesn’t have the porosity of a natural aggregate,” said Penshorn. “Some have used it successfully as chip seal, but it requires this extra process.” The sugar coating left over from beverages needs to be rinsed off. Other advanced applications were considered but passed over, such as asphalt hot mix, or “glassphalt.” Not knowing the
performance history and how it would support heavy loads was just one factor discussed within the department. The logistics of shipping the material to a hot mix plant was another. They also learned that the residual glass would likely find its way into the next batch of hot mix for the plant’s customers. Public works agencies have experimented with glass cullet. Among those highlighted in the presentation were: City of Spokane, Wash.: Crews combined 1,500 tons of glass cullet with crushed rock. The resulting material was used to create bedding for the asphalt, a reconstruction project for Market Street spanning 1.25 miles.
“If you can just find one or two good uses of alternate aggregate in your department, you can really have an impact on the amount of glass that’s going to landfill in your community,” she said. Mixed glass cullet, worth $5 to $6 a ton, can compete in price with natural aggregate. Considering the material is readily available, it doesn’t need to be mined or extracted, or excessively transported, reducing its carbon footprint. But if left in a landfill, it will never biodegrade. “You can save money if you send less of that to a landfill,” said Burchard-Juarez.
Washington State Department of Transportation: More than 1,200 tons of glass cullet has been used as bedding for large stormwater pipes.
Texas has a pending bottle bill that would establish a refundable deposit for certain beverage containers. With a value placed on the containers, it would likely increase the number of glass bottles diverted from the landfill. The EPA estimates the nationwide recovery rate of glass from the waste stream is about one-third. The glass recycling industry is exploring ways to increase its recovery rate through technology such as optical scanners. But there will still be unmarketable mixed glass cullet that doesn’t reach recycling standards. And that means the alternative aggregate market could get bigger.
related youtube video: http://youtu.be/jmE5nvoa-ck
New York State Department of Transportation: Engineers used glass cullet to create a cost-effective filtration system for removing Total Suspended Solids from concrete slurry during hydro-demolition in 2005. But if a state agency doesn’t allow for glass cullet projects, public works departments should focus on projects that don’t rely on state funding, said Burchard-Juarez. “They may not be willing to use an alternate aggregate on a main highway system, but as a public works department, you may maintain a road within a park that you might be willing to take a chance and try something different.”
The Austin (Texas) Department of Public Works installs a new concrete sidewalk on top of a two-inch layer of fine grained glass made of waste diverted from its landfill. At $5 to $6 per ton, the re-purposed glass can compete in price with natural aggregate. (Photo credit: City of Austin)
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L.A. County Ushers in Waste-to-Energy Conversion Technologies Tested as Puente Hills Landfill Prepares to Close BY ADELAIDE CHEN
LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. – As America’s largest landfill prepares to shut down this year, Los Angeles County begins to write a new chapter in U.S. waste disposal history - ushering in the age of waste-to-energy conversion.
CR&R plans to break ground this year. The anaerobic digester would convert separated organic and green waste into biofuel. It would be located on a 52-acre site shared with an existing Materials Recovery Facility.
And they have lots of garbage to work with – about 8.7 million tons a year.
The biogas produced will be used to power the company’s fleet of trucks, said Relis. It is a cleaner alternative to diesel and there are no greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
Conversion technologies, which transform solid waste into useful products, are utilized abroad in Europe and Japan, but are relatively new in the U.S. There are many types of facilities, but four are preferred by L.A. County as an alternative to landfills – anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, gasification and a combination of pyrolysis and gasification.
Relis said 150 tons of material a day can fuel 70 front-end loaders and street sweepers. And the project is scalable.
“We feel these technologies are working throughout the world, and that they could be readily applied in the United States,” said Pat Proano, assistant deputy director of the L.A. County Department of Public Works Environmental Programs Division. He presented his findings to an audience at the American Public Works Association’s recent International Public Works Congress and Exposition in Anaheim. Through public-private partnerships, the county is willing to help companies get through the permitting process, secure grant funding from the state’s energy commission, and provide additional technical and financial assistance through consultants. Many waste management companies have been researching and developing conversion technology for years, and were looking for the right time to use it. One of the companies L.A. County is focused on is CR&R Incorporated in Southern California, currently near the end of its permitting process to build and operate an anaerobic digestion facility in nearby Riverside County. The California Energy Commission has awarded the project with a $4.5 million grant for the digestion facility, and $400,000 more to build a fueling station. 
“It’s kind of a home run from an environmental perspective,” said Paul Relis, CR&R senior vice president.
At commercial scale, it has capacity for 5,000 tons a day, he said. That’s about how much Puente Hills landfill received per day in 2011, according to the latest annual Countywide Integrated Waste Management Plan. But that’s still just a portion of the 28,000 tons L.A. County residents and businesses sent to landfills each day last year, according to the report. At the same time, a lot of organic waste is disposed. Heavily urbanized areas such as Los Angeles have difficulty permitting commercial composting facilities. There isn’t a lot of land for these large facilities, the permitting and requirements are more stringent, and there is a limited market for the compost product that is generated, according to Coby Skye, L.A. County Department of Public Works Environmental Services civil engineer. Relis said, “That’s still a frontier in California.” The state has mandated a 75 percent reduction in waste, by source reduction, recycling or composting by 2020. Finding a solution to organic waste is key to reaching that benchmark. But a critical hurdle was getting the support of the environmental organizations. “We feel that it has the support of the environmental community, which is important for permitting,” he said. Anaerobic digestion is more acceptable compared to thermal technologies, which the pubic commonly associates with
incinerators. L.A. County also has two other public-private partnerships with companies pursing thermal conversion technologies. Without approved Renewable Portfolio Standards credits, thermal conversion technologies aren’t financially feasible. The difference can be significant: More than $100 per ton without credits and $60 to $65 per ton with credits, according to Proano. One California municipal waste authority partnering with a Canadian firm saw their project stop in its tracks after the RPS credits, precertified by the state energy commission were rescinded. Environmental groups pressured the new governor to reverse the decision. “There is a perception that it is incineration,” said Susan Warner, Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority diversion manager. But the reality is these are heavily regulated facilities permitted by the local air board, she said. Plasma gasification uses a thermal process to vaporize solid waste at high heat in an oxygen-deprived chamber. Incineration uses oxygen. Gasification produces synthetic fuel gas that can be used to generate electricity or steam. And the remaining solid residue, or slag, can be used for construction aggregate.
The Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority in northern California is down to its last local landfill, and the other three are closed, said Susan Warner, diversion manager. The authority is responsible for five cities and unincorporated Monterey County, which produces a waste stream of 167,000 tons per year.
But what agencies such as Salinas Valley and L.A. County need today is direction from the state government on conversion technologies.
The proposal from Plasco Energy Group was one of nine that met the qualifications and criteria and offered the maximum amount of potential diversion from the landfill, said Warner.
“California is usually a leader and has been in the past receptive to innovative technologies,” said Warner. But it’s disappointing because this technology is already prevalent in other parts of the world, she said.
The waste authority plans to focus on environmental review of another vendor to move a steam autoclave project forward from a pilot project and develop it for regular use. The autoclave pilot project, located on a closed landfill, uses pressure to break down organic material into cellulose. The pulp can be then used for making paper products, such as packaging paper or cardboard waffles. The anticipated cost is relatively low at $39 per ton.
For Proano, he’s counting on the state to enact legislation. When Governor Jerry Brown came into office in 2011, L.A. County worked with public relations consultants to educate the new administration in Sacramento, Proano said.
The technology has been used to produce cellulose material from municipal solid waste in test runs in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Proano hopes the state agencies that regulate the permits, Cal Recycle, Cal EPA, the energy commission, the air resources board, will follow suit. The expectation is that these
For Warner, that includes definition on what types of conversion technology qualify for RPS credits.
“The next couple of years for us is huge,” he said. “Because we have direction from the governor that he will support legislation for conversion technologies.”
Janesville Produces a Profit Stream Janesville, WI is one of the first sites in the country producing a profit stream from electricity produced from biogas, in addition to making fuel for city vehicles. Unison Solutions Inc., based in Dubuque, Iowa, is proud to be part of the team at the Janesville WWTP. The unique technology provided to Janesville by Unison will allow them to grow their CNG vehicle fleet and fuel it directly from their biogas while still operating turbines for electricity production. This system will help Janesville reduce their overall energy costs and dependence on petroleum products. Learn more about it at www.unisonsolutions.com
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agencies can agree on a clear permitting pathway for conversion technologies. For now, landfilling is still the cheaper alternative compared to conversion technologies. But as local landfills become scarce, costs are anticipated to go up.
But even cities within the county, such as Santa Monica, have their own collection system and want to send their trash to a conversion technology facility instead of a landfill, even if they have to pay a little more, he said.
related youtube video: http://youtu.be/fNv3Tj8_Pmo
The county sanitation districts’ Wasteto-Rail system could transport trash in shipping containers to other parts of Southern California - specifically, the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County, which is also permitted to accept trash by truck. Construction is scheduled to be completed this year. But as those landfills have finite capacity, it’s conversion technology that has everyone excited. L.A. County has identified at least 20 possible local demonstration sites. Jails or hospitals can be considered for such projects, too. I
It’s to show that it works, said Proano. “A lot of people have reservations about the viability of the CTs,” he said.
Autoclave Testing Program Municipal solid waste travels on a conveyor into a rotating steam autoclave reaction vessel in a two-year testing program being conducted by the Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority in partnership with the USDA and Comprehensive Resources Recovery and Reuse (CR3), the company that developed the cellulose recovery system. Cellulose can be used for ethanol production, compost, paper pulp or anaerobic digester feedstock for methane production. (Photo credit: SVSWA)
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How to Put On a Zero-Waste Event Waste Management, Inc., Outlines Best Practices BY MICHAEL MANNING, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
What does it take to put on a net-zero-waste event? The short answer, according to Carl Niemann, is 100 percent buy-in from all participants. In other words, it’s all about educating event staff, vendors and spectators, while providing them with the tools they need to execute a zero-waste event. Niemann, manager of public sector solutions at Waste Management, Inc., said his company has developed a set of best practices based on projects that include the world’s most attended golf tournament. The 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open – one of the oldest and largest golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, hosted more than half a million spectators without using a single trash can. Known as the “Greatest and Greenest Show on Grass,” the 2012 event pumped more than $222 million into Arizona’s economy, according to an Arizona State University study. More than 97 percent of waste generated by the tournament was diverted from landfills, exceeding the 90 percent tournament goal. Eighty-two percent of tournament materials were recovered from the waste stream through recycling, composting, material reuse and charitable donations - far exceeding the goal of 70 percent. The Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale is an event that Waste Management and the PGA plan for the entire year prior to the event. Using British Standards 8901, which is basically a triple bottom line approach to events that defines the requirements to ensure an enduring and balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility, and social progress relating to events, and after two years of waste analysis, Waste Management brainstormed ways to reduce the amount of waste destined for a landfill and came up with ways to help reduce, divert and recover. “One of the tools that we used to help us achieve the 82 percent recovery rate and have a successful event was to self certify to the various standards of 8901, which is a sustainable event management system,” said Niemann in a presentation at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa. “Additionally we used the GRI Event Organizers Sector Supplement to rate our reports and analyze our data. We felt it was really important to use
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internationally recognized standards and procedures to make sure our methodologies and data presented was transparent and comprehensive,” he said. One of the most important aspects of Waste Management’s plan was open communication to all parties involved. After initial waste analysis of earlier events, Waste Management worked with vendors on ways to eliminate waste products that would later be impossible to divert from landfills, and suggested alternatives. Vendors were also asked to sign a Net Zero Waste Participation Agreement, which encouraged them to take responsibility for achieving the goals of the event. “We gave them a list of acceptable materials that could be brought on the course so that on the back end we could be sure to recycle or compost it. We also really made sure what materials not to bring,” Niemann said. “We wrote specific materials into a contract that every vendor who was going to be associated with the event signed. We wanted to create a sense of commitment that everyone … was on board with the goals.” All goals also were openly communicated to more than 500 volunteer recycling ambassadors who received pre-shift training on assisting spectators with proper segregation of waste materials on the course for collection in recycling or composting receptacles. Most importantly, the hosting parties ensured that all goals were prominently displayed prior to and during the event for all spectators to see. In order to make it as easy as possible for spectators to properly dispose of their waste in the proper bins, Waste Management provided more than 6,000 white and green bins, with matching bags that would assist in back-end transportation. Materials that could be composted were to be disposed of in white bins with clear bags that prominently displayed which materials were acceptable. Recyclable materials were to be disposed of in green bins with green bags. Once again, acceptable materials were displayed on the fronts of the bins. Further signage included 15 triangular 8-foot signs, 100 cardboard and plastic bin signs, and 100 back of house signs.
Half a Million People - Not a Single Trashcan The 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale – one of the oldest and largest golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, hosted more than half a million spectators without using a single trash can. (Photo credit: Waste Management, Inc.)
“Color coding not only helped the attendees know where to put their materials when they wanted to discard them. But it also helped coordinate the placement and movement of the materials from the course to the right dumpsters that were eventually taken offsite for processing,” said Niemann. “This consistency was one of the keys that helped us achieve the high diversion rates we accomplished.” In addition to color coordinating the waste bins and signage, the recycling ambassadors were scattered throughout the course to assist spectators with the separation and disposal of their waste. These volunteers were polled after the event and the majority responded that the training information was effective, and they felt their work as recycling ambassadors had a positive impact and contributed to the success of the program. Most volunteers rated their experience as “good” or “excellent,” and said they would volunteer again. All of these volunteers were also asked for suggestions as to how to improve the event. The Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale created 374 tons of waste that was processed, and besides the environmental benefits, there were economic benefits to a net-zero-waste event on which Waste Management capitalized. By processing the waste leaving an event, a host party can avoid the $30-$50 per ton expense for disposal, and create a new revenue stream of approximately $20-$50 in recyclable commodities, which would assist in covering the costs of the
materials that needed to be directed to landfills as well as cover the extra costs of organizing such an event. In addition to the idea of reducing, diverting and recovering solid waste, Waste Management led the charge at the Phoenix Open in suggesting that Arizona Public Services purchase renewable energy to power the entire tournament. The company’s 18th Hole Hospitality Tent was powered by solar energy, and the company brought in small sized, solar powered compactors for use on the course, and a full sized solar powered compactor for back-end handling of waste. Carl Niemann, P.E., is in his 22nd year with Waste Management, Inc., currently managing a team of professionals focused on meeting the solid waste management and sustainability needs of municipalities and educational institutions in the Midwest. His experience providing sustainable solutions in the solid waste industry includes a variety of leadership roles over the past two decades focused on sustainable customer solutions, environmental engineering and compliance, and operational excellence in solid waste collection, processing and disposal. Niemann holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign.
related youtube video: http://youtu.be/GvkQfs2wqHc
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Sustainable City Network Magazine
Fleet Management: It’s All About the Numbers Getting the Most Out of Your Fleet Requires Data, Data, Data BY ADELAIDE CHEN
Maher Hazine is responsible for a fleet of about 670 vehicles owned by the city of Peoria, Ariz. – everything from police cars, fire trucks and public transit buses, to dump trucks, garbage trucks and street sweepers, among others. MAHER HAzINE
While he relies on a team of mechanics, a fleet supervisor and a fleet manager, his secret weapon is actually math. The deputy public works utilities director, who came from the engineering side, earned his MBA in 2011, expanding his knowledge of financial analysis, including lifecycle costing for fleet management.
“When a solid waste truck goes down, especially when it’s full, you’ve got some major operational costs there because now you’ve got to get it towed to a landfill; you’ve got to empty that vehicle; and you’ve got to have it hauled back to you,” he said. “In the meantime, that operator has to come back and get another vehicle, assuming you have another spare on the line. And if you don’t, then the other routes are going to have to cover. And basically you’re shuffling and you have to work overtime.” The old approach is based on educated guesses and best practices, Hazine said, which usually involved calling a vendor or another city. The answer would be a certain number of miles, or in the case of a sweeper, number of hours. Then one would take that number and make adjustments, based on a number of variables. “This method is straightforward, and relatively easy to use. The problem with it is that it’s not very detailed. It doesn’t give you specifics for your experience,” said Hazine.
It’s a mathematical model that enables managers to get the most money out of a vehicle by considering all its costs over its lifetime, thereby replacing it before maintenance costs go up and reselling it before the value gets too low. The timing can be determined using software programs or an Excel spreadsheet.
K.M. Vigneau, a professional development strategist who creates educational programs for The National Association of Fleet Administrators, said NAFA created a Lifecycle Analysis tool that helps fleet managers do the number crunching.
Hazine shared his experience with an audience at the American Public Works Association’s recent International Public Works Congress and Exposition in Anaheim.
“It is different for every vehicle and it has to be tailored to your specific situation, for example, gas prices, maintenance costs, etc.,” she explained.
The approach is different from how the city of Peoria once made decisions about its fleet. At one point, the city extended the life of the entire fleet to 10 years.
The data collected has everything from fixed costs to operating expenses and incidentals. In a year-by-year comparison, Hazine said, the data can be plotted onto a graph to determine the optimum replacement point. Or the numbers can be examined in a table format. As the vehicle gets older, its annual costs begin to go down until it reaches a spot where costs begin to shift up.
“There was no analysis done,” he said. “Whether it was a solid waste truck or whether it was a police car, it was 10 years.” Such decisions can lead municipalities to spend more on costly repairs than on preventative maintenance. A poor functioning or undependable fleet impacts the delivery of service, Hazine said.
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“In lifecycle costing, you do not calculate out every vehicle,” he said. “Instead you should take an average of vehicles in the fleet based on type and use.”
To secure funding, the city has a replacement fund established. When a new vehicle comes in, money is set aside each month for its replacement.
“Whether you do that manually or use the greatest software programs out there…you’ve got to have detailed enough records,” said Hazine. “How good a model you have depends on the data, so if you’re going to start from anywhere, start by collecting the data.“
When the vehicle is ready for resale, its value can be maximized by finding the right auction house, Hazine said, or getting three quotes for trade-in. Or perhaps the vehicle can be transferred to another agency where it still can be useful in semi-retirement or as a backup.
Fleet managers, especially those with extensive experience, aren’t just going to listen to some model, Hazine said. So he suggests looking at the model as a tool, a kind of tool you don’t solely rely on, but one that backs up recommendations. “Basically it quantifies our intuition. A lot of fleet managers, especially those with a lot of experience, have that gut feeling.” But, Hazine said, gut feelings don’t fly anymore with most council members and city managers.
But one thing not to overlook is educating the vehicle operators, he said. “Your operators can either deteriorate the life of that vehicle or they can extend the life of that vehicle, depending on how they use it,” Hazine said. And, when you find a good operator – use them to train your other operators.
“They want to see numbers,” he said. And the model can be used to aid other important decision-making processes. When fleet managers are asked about the cheapest vehicle to buy, the initial price tag doesn’t really tell the whole story. A more expensive vehicle can cost less over its lifetime by requiring less maintenance, but data or numbers are needed to justify that recommendation. “If you need to purchase a police sedan, and you want the more expensive one, you have to have the data to support that, over the life of the vehicle, you’ll be spending less,” he said. The model can also help determine whether it’s cheaper to lease or buy. “For example, our mayor’s car.…We don’t buy our mayor’s car because, based on the mileage that he drives, we’re better off leasing it. And we trade it in every other year. It just works best for us and we’ve done the analysis on it,” he said.
Lifecycle of a Fleet
Knowing the best time to replace a vehicle can help with planning. Solid waste vehicles take six months to be delivered, so the city of Peoria orders its vehicles ahead of time, knowing lifecycle costs for an older vehicle can increase with down time.
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Sustainable City Network Magazine
Sustainability Planning in Newport News Virginia Community Incorporates Sustainability into Comprehensive Plan BY ADELAIDE CHEN
The sustainability division official became part of the city’s public works department on Oct. 1. “Some localities use consultants. Some use an interdepartmental approach, and that was our approach. We lean on the expertise of our various subject matter experts representing a variety of city departments,” said Jennifer Privette, sustainability coordinator.
Plant 100,000 trees. Replace conventional traffic lights with LEDs. Convert a fleet to run on alternative fuels. Attract clean tech jobs. Build more parks. Go paperless. Each initiative can be carried out separately, but local governments are finding it useful to approach them together through a broadly defined sustainability plan. Differing from climate action plans focused on reducing greenhouse gases and energy use, sustainability plans use a broader scope, and can incorporate land use practices such as increasing open space and affordable housing, according to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. The city of Newport News, Va. (population 193,000), has drafted a sustainability plan. Roadmap to Sustainability, describing the processes that the city utilized, was the theme of a presentation the city’s staff gave at the American Public Works Association‘s recent International Public Works Congress and Exposition in Anaheim. About 3,100 full-time employees work for the city, which has almost completely developed its 70-square miles of land. The themes that guide the city’s vision of sustainability are economic vitality, healthy communities and natural environment. “We’re in the infancy stage, but we’re very robust in what we’re looking to do,” said Reed Fowler, director of public works.
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When Privette started with the city in August 2010, her position created by stimulus funds, the committee had already been established for two years. The city council was one month shy of approving a set of strategic priorities, giving staff the direction they needed to move forward. The city manager “recognizes that making sustainability a lasting part of our city’s culture really depends on each and every one of us thinking and acting ‘green’ as we go about our daily lives,” said Privette. From installing LED traffic lights to implementing a ‘Buy Green’ policy and creating a community garden, the city’s commitment to practicing sound environmental stewardship while balancing the needs of people, profit, and planet has produced positive results. “However, while we were doing things, we needed to catalog them, identify them in some fashion,” said Privette, “and then moving forward, we needed to maintain a sustainable program.” A tool that helps the staff stay organized and on track is an Environmental Management System. Fowler recently led the Department of Public Works through the 18-month Environmental Management System training program to identify potential environmental impacts, evaluate their significance, and develop administrative, operational, or engineering controls to minimize the environmental risks. Marcus Leeper, EMS coordinator for public works, describes it as a set of management processes which help analyze, control and reduce environmental impacts. “We created an EMS team with all frontline personnel and looked at everything we were doing, everything that we touched,” he said.
The point is to integrate environmental management into day-to-day operations. Even a wash rack used for cleaning vehicles can be evaluated. The suggestions range from retrofitting the racks with grey water systems to minimizing dirty water from entering the storm drains and polluting the Chesapeake Bay. “You have frontline professionals looking at the scale of impact,” said Leeper. They came up with alternatives for recycling the water or hooking it up to a sanitary sewer. The improved operations can become standard operating procedures. The importance of each action is weighted using a point system, said Privette. And taken into account is how important the action is to the community and the leadership. When coming up with this “matrix” she turned to the city of Asheville, N. C. “A lot of localities have done that research for you,” she said. However, Privette advises there are key decisions that each locality should address early in the process: - Do you hire a consultant to draft the sustainability plan or do it in-house? - Is the city manager responsible for implementing the plan, or the department heads? - Is the document part of the city’s comprehensive master plan, or a separate entity? Local governments have flexibility in how they implement their sustainability plans. With the support of city leadership, committee members can meet during work hours, fitting sustainability planning into their regular responsibilities. “So one of the lessons learned is making sure we execute [our plan],” said Privette, “and making sure they stay engaged with the sustainability initiative outside of what their day job is.”
Responsibilities are assigned and given a time frame to complete. It’s important to have the performance measure established, as well as a baseline, to make sure the action is followed through, said Privette. For Newport News, the sustainability division, an arm of the public works department, is responsible for implementing the plan. Once approved, the sustainability plan will complement the city’s comprehensive plan, and be partially funded through the capital improvement program budget. Those projects could include conducting a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, developing a green building requirement for new and existing buildings, environmental and energy conservation retrofits or, for example, upgrading HVAC equipment and lighting targeted by energy audits. Other projects have received funding from grants: - A $17 million grant will fund an intermodal transportation center, taking an estimated 1 million cars off the road, from Newport News to Richmond, Va. - A $1.7 million grant has enabled the city to replace its lights with energy-saving LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs. A 73 percent reduction in the annual energy bill for traffic lights resulted from an upgrade from incandescent to LED. - A $127,000 grant will go towards converting city vehicles to alternative fuels. The draft sustainability plan is being reviewed by the city manager as well as a citizen committee for recommendations. Then it will go tentatively to city council in the fall. Once approved, Privette, Leeper and the committee will begin the hard work of seeing the actions are carried out.
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Banning Plastic Bags: Does it Really Work? California Municipalities Lead the Way BY ADELAIDE CHEN
ANAHEIM, Calif. – A California bill to ban single-use plastic bags died on the last day of legislative session (August 31) without coming to a vote. But that didn’t faze the 50 or so cities and counties in the state that had already passed local restrictions.
Santa Monica and Sunnyvale are among the latest cities to ban single-use carryout plastic bags, although their approaches are slightly different. Representatives from both cities and the consulting firm that advised them gave a presentation at the American Public Works Association's recent International Public Works Congress and Exposition in Anaheim. The two cities approached the issue in different ways, but accomplished the same goal. Santa Monica’s plastic bag ordinance, which went into effect in 2011, shared a common interest with locals and tourists in keeping the beaches and ocean litter-free. The neighboring city of Los Angeles, which approved a similar ordinance in May, is set to become the largest city in the nation restricting single use plastic bags. And in the county’s unincorporated areas, the ban is already in place. About 350 miles north, Sunnyvale’s Silicon Valley location is headquarters for Yahoo! and other tech companies. It’s also a forwardthinking city when it comes to trash. City administrators drafted a zero-waste policy, which the city council approved on Dec. 7.
The city also shares a border with San Jose, which passed an ordinance that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, the same day as the county’s mandate. The first phase of Sunnyvale’s ordinance followed on June 20, affecting grocery, drug, liquor and convenience stores in addition to all large stores 10,000 square feet or more, or generating more than $2 million a year. The second phase affects all remaining retailers, who have until this spring to comply.
A city’s financial reason for banning plastic bags
pass through. When garbage enters the trommels, the plastic bags clog the holes. This led to expensive down time and increased maintenance costs, said Bowers. The bags are also “escape artists,” he said, aerodynamic and blowing away at the transfer stations. “We literally had waste-deep snow drifts of plastic bags,” he said, when a newspaper photographer visited the transfer station to shoot pictures.
There’s a practical reason for Sunnyvale to restrict stores within the city’s boundaries from distributing plastic bags. The city owns a processing facility that sorts and transfers recyclables, including recovering them from garbage.
While post-consumer plastic bags are believed to be recyclable, Bowers said it’s difficult to do so because ”bags that have passed through the hands of consumers are contaminated with paper receipts, moisture, crumbs, food waste...”
One of the city's motivations for the ban is that the plastic bags were clogging the recycling machinery, said Mark Bowers, solid waste programs division manager for the Environmental Services Department. Specifically the trommels, a pair of 70-footlong rotating drums at the facility, have holes in the screens designed to sort material by allowing certain materials to
He also learned that grocery stores were collecting the bags by law, but tossing them. “Our surveys of the stores required by AB 2449 (a state law about to sunset) to provide bag recycling collections found that many of the smaller stores also could not market the collected bags,” he said. [ 17 ]
Sustainable City Network Magazine
75 million per year. Both cities estimate paper bags and reusable bags will replace the need for plastic bags, according to their Environmental Impact Reports. The plastic industry has not been absent in the process. Lobbyists and attorneys show up at the public meetings and aren’t hesitant to voice their opinions to city representatives. “They have me on speed dial,” said Josephine Miller of the city of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. In cities such as Portland, Maine, in the early stages of assembling an ordinance, plastics industry representatives attended a city subcommittee meeting on sustainability and energy, said Michael Bobinsky, director of public services.
Plastic Mess In a scene played out at recycling centers across the country, plastic bags clog disc screens at the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer (SMaRT) Station in Sunnyvale, Calif. Damage to the equipment was one of the motivations for the city banning certain retail stores from distributing single-use carryout plastic bags in 2012. (Photo credit: Rincon Consultants, Inc.)
“They just went straight into the dumpster behind the store and ended up in a garbage truck.” And Sunnyvale’s own processing facility does not recycle plastic bags. “Our recycling center is unable to market the relatively clean bags dropped off by residents, so we no longer accept bags,“ he said. The volume of plastic bags and plastic film that are recycled is low. In the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the statistic is about five percent. But Bowers said the recycled plastic is pre-consumer, such as shrink wrap on shipping pallets and manufacturing waste. He believes less than one percent of post-consumer bags are actually recycled nationwide.
Plastic industry - friend or foe? With about 50 municipalities in California restricting single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and other retailers, the nonprofit Environment California estimated about one-third of the state’s population would be impacted once the regulations all go into effect. Statewide estimates suggest 19 billion single-use carryout bags are used annually. Santa Monica estimated the city accounted for 26 million plastic bags per year, while Sunnyvale calculated more than [ 18 ]
“A few of them want to be part of the process,” he said, including serving on committees. “So on one hand I see that as a positive.” And they’re not the only industry that wants to be heard. “The retailers’ association of Portland, Maine, wants to be involved and do the right thing,” he said. On the other hand, municipalities have had negative experiences dealing with industry attorneys. The plastic industry’s Save the Plastic Bag Coalition has sued or tried to sue municipalities in California, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, Manhattan Beach, Carpinteria, and the counties of Los Angeles and Santa Clara. Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County negotiated a lawsuit settlement with the plastic’s coalition over its unincorporated areas. A scaled down version of the ordinance was passed instead. Now the county is considering reinstating part of the original regulation, which includes restaurant takeout bags. An hour’s drive north, a court decision is anticipated soon in a lawsuit by the California Restaurant Association against the city and county of San Francisco. Both Santa Monica and Sunnyvale exempt restaurants and food service establishment from the ordinance. In the case of Santa Monica, only takeout bags for the transportation of food is allowed. Both cities also worked with Matthew Maddox, a senior program manager for Rincon Consultants, to draft an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Although an EIR is not mandatory, Maddox said the two cities took conservative measures to prevent a lawsuit.
“For larger cities, basically cities with a population greater than 30,000, an EIR has been almost necessary because of the threat of a lawsuit from groups such as the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition,” he said. The city of Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, will prepare an EIR in order to extend its ordinance to all retailers and restaurants, not just grocery stores as it did in 2009. According to the Palo Alto Daily News, the EIR is required as part of a settlement with the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. The alternative to an EIR is a simpler document under the California Environmental Quality Act called a Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration, according to Maddox. Green Cities California, with 12 member cities, including Santa Monica, shared one Master Environmental Assessment, a comprehensive study on leading-edge research required with the EIR. Sharing the cost of the Master Environmental Assessment provided more money for other expenditures, said Josephine Miller, who enforces the plastic bag ordinance from her position as environmental analyst for the city of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
Budgeting for marketing, materials and reusable bags Hearing the criticisms from plastic industry representatives about taking away jobs, she invested in 26,000 reusable bags from the Green Vets LA program, which employs homeless and low-income vets to sew the navy blue cloth bags. “When we set out to purchase reusable bags we tried to source them locally, using sustainable materials, etc.," Miller said. "Our collaboration with Green Vets LA for the manufacture of the bags was a dream come true. Not only did we fulfill our objective for procuring the highest in quality and durability, but we contributed to the objectives of our Sustainable City Plan, a plan that includes goals for human dignity and economic development. That we met our objectives while fueling job training and rehabilitation of our veterans at the same time was unbelievable. “Ninety percent of those vets were homeless on the streets,” said Miller. “And they now have jobs.” The cloth bags, she added, had to be durable enough to last for 20 years. They were made out of scrap material from L.A.’s garment district. Other funds were saved by using local community members to model the reusable bags in marketing photos used on the sides of recycling trucks. The images were produced in-house, said Miller. Other municipalities have saved money by using her documents as templates.
In Sunnyvale, the city council appropriated $100,000, according to Mark Bowers, solid waste programs division manager for the Environmental Services Department. Nearly half was spent on the preparation of the EIR. The remaining was spent on several thousand reusable bags made in San Francisco from recycled fabric. The bags are distributed at promotional events. Stores affected by the ordinance received signage such as “Did you remember your bags” reminders. Bowers said he expects to have funds remaining should the city council decide to ban polystyrene next. Implementation, enforcement and changing consumer behavior. There are slightly different versions of the plastic bag ordinance depending on the municipality, but for the most part, the concept is the same. Grocery stores and retailers are prohibited from distributing plastic bags at the register. They are allowed to charge a dime for a paper bag with at least 40 percent post-consumer content. Or offer reusable bags for sale. "You would be surprised, but many grocery store owners favor the bag bans," said Bowers. "'I'm going to save $3,000 a month’,” he said quoting one grocer. The bigger obstacle lies in changing consumer behavior and expectations. “'What do mean you're not going to give me a free plastic bag’,” some customers say. And the checkers are on the front lines. "The checkers are really important people in this issue," said Bowers. “Tell them its Mark's fault,” he tells them. “Blame me.” Miller says when customers are mad at the checkers, they hand them her card. After going into effect, the ordinances often have a grace period before the municipality hands out fines. But there aren’t enough city staff allocated to enforcement. Calls and emails from the public provide tips as to which merchants are not in compliance. “So I’ll get a call from a community member,” said Miller, “and we’ll work it out (with store managers) within 24 hours.” Miller is Santa Monica’s only city staff who enforces the plastic bag ordinance for 1,875 retail outlets, in addition to the 2007 polystyrene ordinance, which affects restaurants. The city of Sunnyvale does not allocate staff to enforce its plastic bag ordinance, said Bowers. Out of about 125 retailers, most are food and beverage establishments, then large supermarkets and department or big box stores. [ 19 ]
Sustainable City Network Magazine
Part of the accountability mechanism requires the stores to report quarterly or biannually on the number of paper bags sold. Sunnyvale saw its first quarterly report in October. However, the number of plastic bags diverted from the landfill will be harder to estimate. One paper bag sold does not equal one plastic bag saved. One paper could substitute for one-and-a-half plastic, according to a study favoring the plastics industry, since it holds more items. Bowers estimates the ratio is closer to one paper to three plastic.
agencies and municipalities in the San Francisco Bay Area are regulated by the Municipal Regional Stormwater National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit System. They must reduce trash flowing into the storm sewer systems by 40 percent by 2014, 70 percent by 2017 and 100 percent by 2022. These type of credits give municipalities another legitimate reason to ban plastic bags, said Maddox.
Credits: other incentives for reducing plastic bags When taking measures to meet California's trash reduction goals, implementing a plastic bag ordinance can earn credits. About 75
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High Strength Waste Helps Supercharge Sewer Gas Wastewater Plants Add FOG to Boost Methane Production BY JULIANNE COUCH
Their stories shared common themes, explaining how much energy is consumed during water treatment, how both wastewater volume and regulatory expenses are likely LAURIE TWITCHELL BEN GROENEWEG to rise in the near future, and how some communities are addressing the problem. Treating wastewater is an essential public service for a healthy community. But pumping the wastewater where it needs to go, operating aerators and other aspects of water treatment all consume a great deal of electricity. The answer is not to stop treating the wastewater, of course, but to either reduce the amount of energy required and/or find ways to generate energy as a byproduct of the process itself. Ben Groeneweg and Laurie Twitchell explained the approaches two different communities are taking to tame their powerhungry wastewater treatment facilities. One of the latest tactics has municipalities scouring their cities for fats, oils and greases (FOG) to supercharge the production of methane used for power generation. An engineer, Groeneweg is program manager for Asset Management and Sustainability with the City of Ft. Wayne, Ind. Twitchell is an engineer with Fox Engineering Associates based in Ames, Iowa. They spoke at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.
Groeneweg said the Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) in Ft. Wayne averages 40 million gallons a day (MGD) though it could handle 60 or 70 MGD. Officials there are looking at a future design of 85 MGD, due to anticipated growth. Their goal is to keep the electrical usage of the treatment plant constant, in spite of that growth. The WPCP represents 58 percent of the city’s energy use, Groeneweg said. In determining where to save on the city’s energy bill, “We decided to start with the biggest chunk of the pie because that’s where the smallest change makes the biggest difference,” Groeneweg said. An energy audit in 2012 showed the WPCP used 57 percent of its energy in aeration. At the Ft. Wayne plant, several energyconsuming pumps add air to incoming wastewater. One improvement made in 1999 was to replace its less efficient coarse bubble aeration system with a fine bubble system. Other changes were necessary to prepare for upgrading the aeration system, including replacing the old centrifugal blower with a more efficient one. They also
rebuilt some existing blowers as part of the process. The blower upgrades save the city $33,000 to $45,000 per year by reducing energy consumption by four to six percent. One key element in the aeration of sewage is the use of microbes. These are placed in the aeration tanks because they “accelerate what happens in nature,” Groeneweg said. After about 14 days of feeding on waste, the microbes are “harvested off” and replaced. Currently, the Ft. Wayne WPCP is preparing to automate the process that determines when it is time to replace microbes, another improvement in plant efficiency. Now that the largest user of energy has been addressed, Groeneweg said, it’s time to think about energy generation. The byproduct of all those microbes digesting waste is methane gas. However, the Ft. Wayne plant doesn’t currently generate enough to justify building the facilities necessary to turn that methane into power. To get more methane gas, they need more hungry microbes. To feed those hungry microbes, they needed more waste. So Groeneweg and his team set out to identify and quantify sources of “high strength waste” in the community. What they need are fats, oils and greases (FOG), the sorts of things that are normally not welcome in a sewer system. Groeneweg said his team turned to local restaurants to measure how much grease trap waste might be available. They also looked at industrial waste and waste from cafeterias that feed a lot of people. [ 21 ]
Sustainable City Network Magazine
What they found was that many of the restaurants were improperly cleaning their grease traps, allowing FOG to enter the sewer system. That’s not good, for a variety of reasons. But when FOG is put directly into an anaerobic digester, it not only bypasses the sewer lines and aeration system, saving energy in the process, but it produces three to four times more energy in the digester system than other materials can generate, Groeneweg said. The city’s study determined that only about 14 percent of full service restaurants and 18 percent of fast food restaurants in Ft. Wayne properly cleaned their grease traps in 2011, so “this source has a tremendous potential for growth,” he said. Industrial FOG can come from various sources, Groeneweg said. Local dairies produce large amounts of whey which they often sell to hog farmers as a source of animal feed. Some of that can now go to the water treatment plant. Further, a local snack manufacturer turned out to be a good source of potato starch. Even de-icing fluid waste from the airport has energy potential because the glycol it contains is rich in energy.
Now that these high strength waste sources have been identified and a system for collecting it developed, the city is working on a preliminary design and cost estimate for a methane gas generating facility. The energy produced will be used to offset the extra power necessary to operate the plant as demand continues to grow. As is the case in Ft. Wayne, other wastewater treatment plants are responding to an EPA guideline that waste and wastewater treatment should make up about 30 to 60 percent of a city’s utility bills. Laurie Twitchell, of FOX Engineering, said her firm has worked with several communities in Iowa toward closing in on that goal. In addition, Twitchell said, EPA regulations are forthcoming about removing nutrients from wastewater, motivated by the increasing dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. There are 15,000 wastewater facilities in the United States, and the Davenport Waste Water Treatment Plant is the second largest in Iowa. Many plants use a similar treatment process, Twitchell said, called the conventional active sludge method, which has no requirement for nutrient removal. Twitchell explained that raw waste comes in, and “hopefully it doesn’t overflow into a
stream.” Then it goes through a series of treatment processes, including pumping and aeration. It is these two stages where the greatest energy use occurs. Many facilities burn off the biogas generated by anaerobic digestion, Twitchell said. “Others take the methane, and instead of flaring it into the atmosphere, they put it in a co-generation plant and use methane gas” to help power their plants. The Davenport plant began realizing energy savings in 1980 when it switched from diesel fuel to natural gas to run the plant’s equipment. Then in 1984, they shut down an incinerator that burned biosolids. That reduced their natural gas usage by 45 percent in the first year, saving $38,000 in energy costs. In 1990, the city installed two anaerobic digesters to reduce the operation of the zimpro oxidation system. They used digester gas to fuel boilers and installed one belt filter press. These and other improvements reduced natural gas usage at the plant by 50 percent in the first year and lowered the total energy bill by 23 percent in the first year, Twitchell said. Then in 1992, they shut down the zimpro system and went completely to anaerobic
A ten percent reduction could save millions!!! Treating wastewater is extremely energy intensive, making up 30-60% of a city’s energy bill when combined with energy used for drinking water treatment. Yet Davenport, Iowa, receives credit back from their power company from the power they generate at their wastewater facility! FOX Engineering teamed with the city in the mid-1990s to implement this unique energy saving project.
Contact us to discuss potential savings for your utility.
www.foxeng.com FOX Engineering specializes in environmental engineering and the design of water and wastewater facilities that are energy efficient and sustainable for generations to come. [ 22 ]
digestion, but as a result had to take waste to the landfill, which was a new expense. So in 1995 they built a compost facility, and now they can sell the waste product as a soil amendment, Twitchell said. Also in 1995, they added co-generation to the plant, in the form of two engines that burn biogas and produce electricity. “The total net energy use was the same, but the fact that they were using renewable energy meant they didn’t have to purchase it from the utility,” Twitchell said. She added that natural gas doesn’t meet the redundancy requirement for plant operations and that all generated electricity must be used internally. One more savings occurred when Davenport, like Ft. Wayne, converted from coarse bubble to fine bubble diffused aeration. That occurred in 2003 and allowed them to eliminate sixteen 75-horsepower mixers. “That was a huge savings, so that allowed them to sell power back and still get a credit,” Twitchell said. Also like in Ft. Wayne, Davenport found sources of waste from local industry to use as a source of methane.
Davenport Waste Water Treatment Plant The Davenport Waste Water Treatment Plant is the second largest wastewater facility in Iowa. Over the past 35 years, the plant has reduced its total energy costs from $900,000 per year to nearly zero through a mixture of energy efficiency improvements and converting biogas to power. (Photo credit: FOX Engineering)
In what Twitchell calls a 35-year success story, total energy costs at the Davenport plant have been reduced from $900,000 to a net credit in some years. Their total energy usage has been cut in half and their natural gas usage has been reduced by 95 percent. “Now they create renewable fuels that provide energy, and have a compost facility that recycles solids, rather than sending them to the landfill,” she said.
related youtube video: http://youtu.be/dbRQH7SNZ3o
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Sustainable City Network Magazine
Public Health Officials Respond to Climate-Change Impacts Adapting to Health Risks is the ‘Mission of the Day’ BY JULIANNE COUCH
effects of extreme temperatures and extreme weather events. For example, increased temperatures raise the risk of heat exposure. Images of children playing in the cooling KIM KNOWLTON LINDA BRUEMMER stream of a fire hydrant on a scorchWhile United Nations member states meet ing summer afternoon in cities like Chicago recently in Qatar on their elusive quest for a and St. Louis have long been common news global response to climate change, state fare. But the CDC says these sorts of heat and local public health departments in the waves will become more typical due to U.S. have been quietly preparing their climate change. That means public health response to climate change impacts at the officials need to look out for conditions ground level. ranging from heat rash to heat stroke presented in their clinics and emergency Whether in a coastal region faced with rooms. rising seas, an interior state suffering from increasing heat waves and wild fires, or the Prolonged heat exposure can worsen cardioFarm Belt bracing for more intense and vascular and respiratory conditions. Further, destructive droughts, vulnerable populaheat worsens ground-level ozone, aggravattions bear the worst hardships of climate ing asthma and chronic obstructive change. pulmonary disease, the CDC says. And That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Public Health Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Association of City and County Health Officials, and other organizations are building a framework for protecting community health and the environment in a warmer world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed likely health [ 24 ]
finally, heat waves send people to the thermostat to cool the air, thereby using more electricity, often generated by fossil fuels. For people without access to air conditioning or electric fans, exposure to heat can be life threatening, the CDC says. Even in places where hot weather is not a typical health threat, extreme weather events can be dangerous. For example, intense rainstorms that cause flooding in
turn lead to injuries while people try to move about in flood-damaged areas. Further, extreme weather events can cause disruptions in health care services, including mental health care. Getting to work and getting back home again, seemingly mundane tasks, can be severely disrupted after a major flood. The CDC anticipates a variety of other health effects from what it calls the “complex phenomenon” of climate change. Higher temperatures may result in longer growing seasons and high pollen production, meaning more people seeking treatment for allergies and asthma. These conditions are also more favorable for disease-spreading insects such as mosquitoes, midge flies and ticks. Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the oceans may lead to greater acidity, and create “adverse ecosystems in the world’s tropical oceans,” according to the CDC. “Fortunately, early action by city managers, health officials, and the federal government can reduce the impact of these problems on our health by preparing and responding to the effects of global warming. But we must start now,” said Kim Knowlton, a senior scientist in the public health program with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She said a recent meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) offered more than 100 sessions on the connection between climate change and health.
“There are more conversations every year among people who are on the front lines of the issues of extreme weather disasters. They are turning out to hear about the work that’s being done,” Knowlton said. Ironically, during last year’s meeting, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. “We were watching television at the conference, and people were saying ‘That’s my hospital, those are my people, I have to leave.’” Knowlton explained what it means to see climate change through a public health lens. “First, look at your community, ask who is most vulnerable and where they live,” she said. “Vulnerable” often means the elderly, who can have limited mobility. “Do some mapping and outreach and learn where to reach out when the next extreme weather event comes,” Knowlton suggested. Next, conduct surveillance of health events. “Get a handle on heat and air pollution illnesses, increase in mosquito activity, changing numbers of extreme heat days, and big shifts in big storm events that send flood waters into water ways,” she said. Next, think of the big picture issues such as infrastructure, health, communications, transportation, and energy. “Bring people
around the table to get them to talk through these scenarios. Talk about designing or redesigning communities and parks with climate changes in mind. Every place has limited budgets, but you can do quite a bit with even limited budgets.” Finally, focus on education, which Knowlton said is really just communication. It means “talking to each other about the connections between environmental change that is fueled by climate change and the ways we chose to get our energy. We have heat trapping gases, rising temperatures. We
want to avoid these effects and there is a lot we can do to prevent and avoid these effects.” These health risks come with costs, of course. NRDC scientists partnered with economists to investigate the health costs of six climate change-related events. These events were ozone smog pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, mosquito-borne infectious diseases, river flooding, and wildfires. According to the study, these events will worsen with climate change in ways likely to harm human health. Associated health costs: more than $14 billion, in 2008 dollars.
For example, in California, a 2006 heat wave lasting two weeks caused 655 deaths, 1,620 hospitalizations, and more than 16,000 excess emergency room visits. Its cost was estimated at nearly $5.4 billion. In 2009, flooding in North Dakota caused two deaths, 263 emergency room visits, and an estimated 3,000 outpatient visits. Estimated cost: nearly $20.4 million, according to the NRDC. Healthcare costs resulting from Hurricane Sandy are still being tallied. The CDC is helping with grant funding for what they call “climate ready states,” but Knowlton says only about a third of the states have a health element in their climate adaptation plans. In fact, some states have no climate adaptation plans at all, she said. “There is still a lot of under-preparedness.” However, she sees many locations working at a grassroots level to develop their own mitigations and adaption plans. In some cases, there might be apathy among the public or the public officials. “The local political climate does have an impact, but as our experience with weather and nature grows, politics will be put aside,” she said.
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One state entity aggressively developing a climate change plan that includes a health component is the Minnesota Department of Health. MDH has received funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the CDC. Linda Bruemmer directs the Division of Environmental Health for MDH. In a recent American Public Health Association (APHA) webinar, Bruemmer said the department began its planning by starting with its workforce. It conducted a survey regarding its staff’s “knowledge of climate change and its relationship to public health.” MDH wanted to know what staff knew about these issues and where they felt they needed additional education and training. Then MDH developed a plan to act upon what it learned from its staff.
researchers have noticed an increase in blacklegged tick survival in warm seasons. The third leg of the stool, increased humidity, has meant more time available for tick feeding each day. With this scenario, Bruemmer said, she and the MDH staff learned that even people not living in coastal areas, or in especially warm climates, need to think about climate adaptation. She uses that word intentionally. “Mitigation” is a politically charged word in Minnesota, she said, meaning that not everyone yet accepts that climate change is human caused or can be resolved through human action. That’s why the term adaptation is a more appropriate word for them to use. Using language people are comfortable with has resulted in willing collaborators from across the public-service spectrum.
From there, it developed six goals including identifying the public health impacts of climate change; identifying how it is already dealing with these impacts; determining which populations are at greatest risk; enhancing its preparedness; increasing its capacity to respond and adapt to the public health impacts of climate change; and finally, communicating and educating public health professionals, healthcare providers, state agency personnel, policymakers, vulnerable populations and the general public on the human health impacts of climate change. Minnesota is not a place one commonly associates with rising sea levels or scorching summer heat. However, Bruemmer said state officials are concerned about other climate-related issues including increases in tick-borne disease, especially in forested areas. With increased temperatures, ticks enjoy a longer growing and feeding season, coupled with lower mortality rates in winter. These conditions have encouraged new tick species and new disease agents to develop, she said. With increased precipitation, [ 26 ]
Knowlton of NRDC applauds the efforts of state and local health planners. “Being prepared for what happens now is fantastic, and then they can cope with longer and more frequent events. Maybe people’s bodies will adapt better to these changes over time, but for now there are more and more vulnerable people. Aging, obesity, and diabetes contribute to making people more vulnerable,” Knowlton said. “Economic disadvantage and poverty is another issue,” she added. “People in poor households have less access to health care, to housing if they are displaced, to transportation, to disparity in resumption of services. This problem is a big one, it affects lots of sectors. It is the mission of the day.”
related youtube video: http://youtu.be/RMVjpalPO74
Getting Used to It? Longer and more frequent severe weather events create intensifying risks to public health. Adapting our response to these escalating threats will require special planning and communication, health officials say. (Photo credit: NRDC)
Best Practices for Sustainable Energy and Water Management Institutions Set Good Examples for Green Builders Everywhere BY JULIANNE COUCH
Setting a good example is what governmental and religious institutions are expected to do, and two in Iowa did just that by showcasing just how efficient new buildings can be when following best practices in energy and water management. Developers of a government building in Des Moines and a skilled nursing facility for elderly nuns in Dubuque presented their case studies at a conference on Oct. 3. Scott Bowman, an engineer at KJWW Engineering Consultants, and Carey Nagel, an architect with BNIM Architects, told the story behind the new home of the Iowa Utilities Board and the Office of Consumer Advocate, a LEED-Platinum “net zero ready” building they believe serves as a blueprint for construction of other energy-efficient buildings. In a separate workshop at the fifth annual Growing Sustainable Communities Conference – Midwestern Region in Dubuque, Mark Hanson of Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc., introduced attendees to the Clare House, a 93,202 square foot infirmary designed to reduce operating costs for the Catholic Sisters of St. Francis while enhancing the care of their elderly and infirmed.
Iowa Utilities Board and Office of Consumer Advocate Office Building Dedicated in April 2011, the new building on the state capital complex in Des Moines houses more than 90 employees of the two agencies, replacing their former headquarters in what Bowman called “the worst building in Iowa.” The engineering and architecture firms came together with the building’s owners as an integrated team to “innovate, but to use established tools and technology to get extraordinary results,” according to Nagel. They wanted to develop a building process that was driven by energy efficiency but that could be replicated anywhere. Their “process for high performance” included the collaboration of an integrated team, and a post-occupancy measurement and verification plan. “This was about creating a process of simple ideas for any budget with any team,” Nagel said. Their “energy efficiency-driven vision” was to construct a building with a total Energy Utilization Index (EUI) of 28.0 kBTU per square foot, per year. Bowman explained that this number represented a 60 percent reduction from the code base EUI of 72.5 kBTU. After almost a year of operation, the building so far has operated at an average of 21.6 kBTU.
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The building lies on a former fill site, where there had been a coal mine long ago. An east/west orientation allows daylight into the core of the building. The interior is “austere,” with exposed steel and zinc cladding mixed with walnut panels and furnishing.
They hadn’t started out planning for LEED-platinum certification, but “the goal of creating a good indoor environment for workers prompted us to go all the way with certification,” which is pending, Bowman said. The building is 44,640 gross square feet, which is the measurement taken from outside the building walls. The construction cost of the building was $204 per GSF. As part of the integrated design process, stakeholders gathered to discuss their ideas, the most important of which included the envelope, orientation on the lot, incorporation of daylight, natural ventilation, owner vision, client education and plan organization. As for energy efficiency, the team realized they could use less energy in some situations, use energy more efficiently in others, and even make some of their own renewable energy on site. “How do you go for higher efficiency in a building?” Bowman asked. “Start by using less. Reduce load. Mechanical systems shouldn’t last more than 25 years because improvements will come along, but the envelope will never be easier to do than now.” But he added: “For photovoltaic, don’t buy anything until you are ready for it because technology gets better and costs go down” over time. This building’s roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels provide 13 percent of total energy needs while offsetting loads during peak demand. In conventional buildings, the largest piece of the energy pie goes for heating, followed by cooling, fans and pumps, lights, plug load and hot water. But in this new building, Bowman said, heating and cooling are much smaller pieces of the pie, while the plug load is the most significant portion. [ 28 ]
Bowman joked that he might be “drummed out of engineering” because he keeps “trying to eliminate things engineers like to build.” In this case, the team didn’t want occupants to rely entirely on automated temperature controls. They should be able to open windows – psychologically it makes people feel more comfortable if they have some control over their surroundings, he said. It is also a business issue, because if there is a ventilation failure, at least people can open windows and continue to function, even if in a less comfortable atmosphere. Lest people open windows and forget to shut them overnight, various controls prompt people to open windows when appropriate, while shutting off mechanical systems, and alerting occupants when they are left open at day’s end. Bowman explained the various policies that control heating and cooling. There is a mandate that heat cannot be used until the air temperature is cooler than 68, and cooling not until it is at least 76. There are also plug load policies. Occupants are not allowed to bring in power strips to plug in their own space heaters or small appliances. This rule got some push-back at first, but eventually occupants started to “have pride in the building and a connection to the outcome,” Bowman said. The agencies inhabit two wings in the building. The north wing houses the Iowa Utilities Board. The first level of the south wing includes the hearing room for the Utilities Board as well as large conference rooms shared by the two organizations. The second level includes open offices facing south, enclosed space to the north, and glazing on windows to mitigate heat gain and glare. It features daylight harvesting sunscreens with moveable louvers that can be adjusted seasonally. The exterior is made of cast concrete with banded windows, but as Nagel said, “the harvesting screens became the architecture.” Further, the precast concrete provides a good thermal envelope that prevents air infiltration. The building was constructed of 35 percent recycled material; 66 percent regionally extracted, harvested and fabricated material; and 96 percent of the wood was certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council as “responsibly harvested.” Finally, 89 percent of construction waste was recovered, and 100 percent of the annual rainfall is captured and filtered by six acres of restored prairie on an adjacent lot, which mitigates catastrophic flooding.
While team members were interested in innovation, they also wanted features that could be replicated in any building. All new buildings can be intelligently sited on their lots to take best advantage of daylight and landscaping. They can allow for natural ventilation while still employing a good thermal envelope. Energy use can be monitored in lighting, plug loads, mechanical equipment, general building loads and IT equipment. Monitoring ensures things are operating as intended, helps identify additional savings, and provides research and demonstration data. “These strategies are scalable for any building,” Nagel said.
Clare House Skilled Nursing Facility Clare House is an infirmary at the Mount St. Francis convent in Dubuque. It houses 75 full time residents and includes a full kitchen and dining area, a chapel, offices and service facilities. Hanson said the sisters, as members of the Franciscan tradition, live according to a set of values that includes reverence for all living things. That was the code that moved them toward energy efficient and sustainable choices in all their decisions. For their own reasons, Hanson said, the sisters decided not to seek LEED certification for the building. However, he said, the choices they made were consistent with LEED guidelines.
The project started with the architects and the sisters addressing several basic questions that Hanson said should start any construction or renovation project. Does the building meet your functional needs? Does it have the aesthetic appeal you want? Is the project highly sustainable or green? Should you certify green aspects of the project (i.e. third party review)? Do you want to meet conventional cost levels (first costs)? What delivery method will you specify: integrated project delivery or design-bid-build? How will performance be validated? Hanson believes green building can be done without spending more than with traditional building materials and methods. The Clare House project was delivered at $195 per square foot, which includes design and construction costs. The sisters moved into their space about a year ago. Hanson said the building is surrounded by water efficient landscaping and drought tolerant plants without permanent irrigation systems. The house is on a hill with little to no conventional grass or lawn. Instead it is mostly native prairie, which is excellent for dealing with drought and storm water. The facility uses minimal paved surfaces and those that are paved are light in color, Hanson said. A few trees that had to be cleared during construction were chipped into bark mulch, and a prairie restoration was planted over a geothermal well field. The geothermal system at Clare House consists of
The Cleveland Energy $aver Program, which is sponsored by the City of Cleveland, in cooperation with Cleveland Action to Support Housing (CASH) and the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN), offers Cleveland homeowners the opportunity to reduce their utility bills and increase the efficiency of their homes. It is a limited-time energy saving program that provides extremely low-cost energy assessments and discounts up to 40% on home improvements. Qualifying homeowners can finance deeply discounted improvements with special low interest improvement loans through CASH.
Start an Energy $aver program in your community. 216.672.3535 | http://www.clevelandenergysaver.com/ Like us on Facebook: Cleveland Energy $aver Program
“An unprecedented way for residents to improve the efficiency and safety of their homes.” – Martin Berry, Berry Insulation
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111 wells, 300 feet deep. Regionally manufactured windows provide comfort and views, and are glazed to control glare. The buildingâ€™s energy-efficiency is monitored, and the results are available to the sisters in an online portal. Hanson said the Clare House saves the convent about $186,000 a year in energy costs. The sisters are continuing to honor their Franciscan traditions by cleaning with green products and exploring options for generating more renewable energy. Hanson said the house is solar ready, and when the time is right they will install a system. Meanwhile, they have added a humidity system for the comfort of elderly sisters. Caregivers report that the positive changes in their environment seem to make a difference in the comfort and longevity of the sisters receiving skilled care at Clare House. I
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Net Zero Ready The new home of the Iowa Utilities Board and the Office of Consumer Advocate in Des Moines, Iowa, is a LEED-Platinum â€œnet zero readyâ€? building believed to serve as a blueprint for construction of other energy-efficient buildings. (Photo credit: BNIM Architects)
Infrastructure Costs: Comparing Sustainable vs. Conventional Solutions Rating System Helps Planners Weigh the Options BY MICHAEL MANNING, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Determining the most cost-effective approach to major infrastructure projects can be daunting in today’s changing world, particularly when considering the often complex long-term costs to society at large. Project managers who used to look no further than the immediate costs of labor and material are now being asked to take a much broader view, considering the full lifecycle costs of operations, maintenance, energy, water, and waste management – not to mention the seemingly abstract consequences of pollution, climate change and the depletion of natural resources. The calculations can be staggering, and today’s managers need something more than the back of a napkin to plot the most sustainable course. “Oftentimes when you are trying to compare conventional to sustainable design and construction, we have a difficult time defining the true costs of conventional projects,” said Larry Stevens, P.E. of HR Green, Inc. in
a workshop at the recent Growing Sustainable Communities Conference in Dubuque, Iowa.
managers compare the true costs and benefits of materials, processes and designs.
“There is often a negative impact to society when we make these improvements. In addition to the benefits, there may be drawbacks if we don’t think about the impacts to society or the environment. So it is really difficult to assess the effect in a monetary value,” Stevens said.
The Envision system is the product of a joint collaboration between the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and Harvard University. It provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental and economic benefits of all types and sizes of civil infrastructure projects. Envision evaluates, grades, and gives recognition to infrastructure projects that use transformational, collaborative approaches to assess the sustainability indicators over the course of the project’s life cycle. It can be used by infrastructure owners, design teams, community groups, environmental organizations, constructors, regulators, and policy makers.
Illustrating the problem, Stevens said studies show that in order for current consumption trends to continue through 2050, we would need 2.5 times the natural resources available on planet Earth. With the United States leading the way by consuming nine times the world average “biocapacity” available per person, according to the World Wildlife Fund, it’s clear the solution must come from within. “The state of mind is changing a lot, and more and more people are starting to get it when it comes to sustainability,” Stevens said. “We can’t stay on the current track of using the earth’s resources like we currently are. Right now, the U.S. is using resources like we have five planets to use. We are consuming resources at a far greater pace than the rest of the world. And that has to stop.” Stevens said new tools like the Envision Sustainability Rating System are now available to help infrastructure project
The non-profit ISI was founded in 2011 by three key civil infrastructure organizations — the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Like the LEED rating system for buildings, the Envision system assigns points for certain design and construction variables. While a conventional approach may be the most cost effective solution in the short term, oftentimes the true costs of a project are overlooked.
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For instance, if the problem is traffic congestion on a highway, the cheapest and quickest solution might be to add more lanes. That might also be the easiest solution to implement as there are currently processes in place for zoning and permitting that would quickly allow such a project to be pushed through approval and development. However, Stevens argued, this approach completely overlooks the true cost of the project. Adding lanes can separate commercial hubs, limit pedestrian and alternative forms of transportation, and cause issues with additional stormwater runoff. Stevens said the Envision system helps project managers consider five main aspects of a project’s costs and benefits: 1) Quality of life – Purpose, Community, Wellbeing 2) Leadership – Collaboration, Management, Planning 3) Resource Allocation – Materials, Energy, Water 4) Natural World – Siting, Land & Water, Biodiversity 5) Climate and Risk – Emissions, Resilience
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Within these five categories, the Envision system breaks a project down into 14 subcategories and 55 criteria. Using a three dimensional matrix, the tool can give a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of proposed solutions to help enable municipalities to weigh options and choose a solution that will have greater impact when it comes to stakeholder collaboration, range of sustainable performance and project life-cycle. By utilizing this approach,
ISI officials hope projects will no longer be valued by upfront costs and completion times alone, but by the greatest good for all involved. In August, Stevens and ISI executive director Bill Bertera presented a webinar on the Envision Sustainability Rating System, hosted by Sustainable City Network and sponsored by HR Green. A recording of that webinar is available at http://sCityNetwork.com/webinars.
Counting the Cost The diverse costs and benefits of infrastructure projects can be hard to calculate. The Envision Sustainability Rating System helps project managers consider the short-term costs of labor and materials as well as the long-term impacts on quality of life and the natural world in which we live. (Photo credit: HR Green, Inc.)
sustainable communities A CONFERENCE FOR MUNICIPAL AND BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS
save the date! 6TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Grand River Center | Port of Dubuque | Dubuque, Iowa PRESENTED & HOSTED BY:
Declare your success. Share your expertise. Sustainable City Network Magazine is introducing the Project Gallery. Submit your project by March 8th to be in the April issue! Project Gallery ads are $385 and include: - Project photo - 100 word description - Your logo - Your website address
Contact Cathy Brandt to learn more | 312-239-0836 | Cathy@sCityNetwork.com
Welcome to Sustainable City Network Magazine – the Best of sCityNetwork.com! This quarterly magazine is a compilation of the most popular ar...
Published on Jan 14, 2013
Welcome to Sustainable City Network Magazine – the Best of sCityNetwork.com! This quarterly magazine is a compilation of the most popular ar...