Showtime Gets Real: Years of Living Dangerously

April 4th, 2014 by Hannah Malan No comments »

Years of Living Dangerously

On Sunday, April 13, Showtime will premiere a new documentary series that promises to bring climate change to life like we’ve never seen before.

In short, Years of Living Dangerously will chronicle how human activities impact global climate change, and in turn, how climate change impacts all of humanity. From deforestation to extreme droughts, superstorms to civil war, correspondents such as Harrison Ford and Matt Damon investigate the human stories behind a changing climate—demanding the truth and exposing the harsh realities that have come to bare.

Powered by a passionate team of executive producers—including James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub, and Arnold Schwarzenegger—the show deems climate change “the biggest story of our time” and reminds us that it’s not just about melting ice and polar bears: climate change is a people story.

With the recent release of a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current and future effects of climate change have never been clearer: human-caused warming is impacting lives and livelihoods.

We also know that poor and underrepresented populations will be hit hardest by these impacts, and Global Green continues to engage these communities in the fight against climate change through inclusive policy, green building for low-income housing, and resiliency initiatives in disaster-stricken neighborhoods.

After 20 years of working to implement and advance smart, scalable solutions to climate change, we applaud Showtime for sparking the conversation through this powerful medium.

Climate change is about people—and it’s time for people everywhere to step up and take action. Join us on Twitter and Facebook and support our work here.

Watch the first full episode free starting Monday, April 7 on yearsoflivingdangerously.com.

 

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Green Makeover Complete: Boston Latin School Serves as a Model for Schools Across the Country

March 28th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

Boston Latin School

Today at the Green Schools National Conference, Global Green USA and Pureology announced the completion of its comprehensive, student-led Green School Makeover at Boston Latin School. A panel of expert judges selected the winning school after six months of intensive outreach by educators, school districts and educational organizations, resulting in more than 450 submissions. Drawing on its green building expertise that spans more than a decade, Global Green USA provided Boston Latin School with a $75,000 grant to realize its student-created proposal of giving America’s first and oldest public school a sustainability-focused makeover.

Global Green’s Green School Makeover Competition, presented by Pureology, helps students and teachers upgrade their school to be healthier and more energy-efficient, engages students in behavior that curbs climate change, and ultimately saves schools thousands of dollars on energy costs which can be reallocated towards education. The initiative is designed to serve as a model for schools and communities across the U.S.

“The Boston Latin students are incredibly eco-conscious and committed to sustainability,” said Mary Luévano, Interim Executive Director of Global Green USA. “It inspires us to see them so engaged in greening their school environment.  If we all took responsibility for our corner of the world in the same way, we would be able to solve the most pressing issue facing our world today – curbing climate change.”

Boston Latin School, which counts four Harvard presidents and five signers of the Declaration of Independence as alumni, applied the grant to establish itself as a shining example for schools across the country by developing sustainable, student-conceptualized initiatives, including the following features:

1. Sage Vertical Wall: An indoor vertical growing wall located in the cafeteria.

BLS Sage Green Wall Collage.jpg

2. Freight Farm Hydroponic Growing Lab: Students will use the growing lab, made from a recycled shipping container, to grow leafy greens to be sold at local farmers markets. Students will learn about hydroponic growing, as well as the economics of our food system.

BLS Freight Farm

3. Elkay Water Bottle Filing Station: The new unit installed as part the Green School Makeover has already prevented nearly 3,000 single-use water bottles from going to a landfill.

BLS Elkay Water Filling Collage

4. Lucid Building Dashboard: The dashboard will monitor and display the school building’s energy use and water use. This will allow the students to see how much energy the building uses and to complete experiments aimed at lowering the electricity use through different building retrofits and/or behavioral changes.

BLS Lucid building dashboard

“Boston Latin is delighted with the features that Global Green brought to our school,” said Cate Arnold, Faculty Advisor Boston Latin School. “Students are learning the importance of sustainability, how to work with hydroponics, and will be able to track our energy performance throughout our school to target further energy reductions.”

Bike Share for All: The Global Green Model

March 27th, 2014 by Gina Goodhill Rosen No comments »

When we talk about our advocating for a bike share system, such as the planned bike share system in LA County, what do we mean? The concept is simple enough: Bike share is a shared system of public bicycles that allows people to rent a bike (for a fee) for a short trip, then return the bike to a different location. It’s a concept that has been deployed in over 500 cities across the world, and has been a successful way to get people out of their cars and into an alternative form of transportation.

For Global Green USA, this is a great motivator to launch a bike share system in Los Angeles; however, our vision for bike share goes further. We envision a successful bike share system as one that produces an environmental value, provides equitable access, and promotes a healthy and livable community.

Global Green USA Bike Share For All

Environment: Nearly half of all trips using any form of transportation in the United States are less than three miles, which makes bicycle transportation an ideal replacement for many of these short trips.  In fact, US cities with bike share programs report that one-quarter of bike share trips replace a vehicle trip.

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to replicate these results by creating a system that attracts local drivers, in addition to visitors and tourists. We are focused on local, targeted marketing and outreach to attract potential users, promote usage, and encourage bike ridership.

Equity: Transportation is the second largest household expenditure after housing and, for many low-income families, it constitutes a major burden in cost and time.  An ideal bike share system would provide a convenient and affordable form of transportation, without the cost of bike ownership and maintenance.  An annual membership to a bike share program typically costs between $70 and $100, compared to the national average cost of $8,946 per year to own and operate a car.

Unfortunately, most bike share systems around the country do not do a good job of attracting low-income riders.  For example, the median household income for users of Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare is $66,508; the median income of Miami Beach’s Deco Bike is $53,808.  This is far above what the average low-income household earns in Los Angeles County: $29,550-42,150 (depending on family size).

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to attract low-income riders through fair pricing, desirable locations, and easy connection to other forms of public transit. We are working to ensure that an LA County bike share system includes stations in low-income neighborhoods, alternative payment options for users without credit cards, and utilizes strong outreach efforts to communities that may be unfamiliar with the system.

Livable Cities: Bike share can be an integral part of transit-oriented development (TOD).  If designed correctly, bike share connects to other forms of public transportation, thereby creating an interlinked system that provides a complete alternative to cars. Bike shares can make a city’s businesses, amenities and services more accessible to both the residents and tourists.  Furthermore, bike shares encourage more bicycling and promote a healthy lifestyle by engaging users in an enjoyable, low-impact and active form of physical activity.  Global Green envisions a bike share system that is strategically integrated into city life to create healthy and vibrant communities, and give users the freedom to explore a city in a new way.

As we work on bike share, we’ll aim to ensure that bike share stations are thoughtfully integrated with other forms of current and planned public transit so that they create a first/last mile connection.  We are working with communities to gather feedback on the placement, design, and payment structure of stations to ensure that bike share is accepted and utilized.

Global Green’s vision for bike share takes the traditional model, but emphasizes a system that promotes clean, livable, and equitable communities. It is through this lens that we continue our efforts to bring bike share to Southern California.

Promoting Public Health Issues in Central Asia and Northern Caucasus

March 25th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

On March 25-28, Marina Abrams and Reinhard Gasser will represent Green Cross International at the 5th Annual Conference of Biological Safety Association for Central Asia and the Caucasus (BACAC) in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.

BACAC is a regional coordinator and biosafety/biosecurity knowledge distribution institution.  It promotes best practices and standards amongst its members and encourages dialogue on emerging public health issues. The conference will focus on problems of biorisk management at the workplace, global disease surveillance, bioethics and international guidelines.

Together with Kazakhstani collaborators, Marina Abrams will give a presentation about the joint project Regulating Infectious Medical Waste Management to Protect Public Health and Enhance Biosafety in Kazakhstan, implemented in 2011-2013 and sponsored by the Green Cross Switzerland and International Science and Technology Center.

 

Results Are In: Recyclable Boxes for Seafood Arrive Intact After 500-Mile Journey

March 19th, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

One of my favorite parts of working for Global Green USA is our on-the-ground focus. This means we not only research and develop ideas about what practices could be more efficient and environmentally friendly, but we actually put these theories to the test.

For our Recyclable Wholesale Packaging Program, we bring this pilot-based model to bear on a waste stream that is practically invisible to the average customer. The packaging used to ship food from farms, meat packers, and fishing wharves is nearly always unrecyclable—it is frequently wax-coated cardboard or polystyrene foam, neither of which can be recovered economically.

Interstate Box for NAFCOHowever, there are some corrugated boxes designed to be recyclable with regular cardboard (91% of which is recovered in the US, the most of any packaging stream). There is even a protocol for recyclability and repulpability which can be used to test water-resistant packaging and determine whether it can be baled and recycled with normal, uncoated corrugated cardboard. Now the only question remaining, and the question Global Green USA is working to answer, is this: Do the boxes that pass this protocol work for long-distance, ice-intensive shipping?

To find out, we reached out to a major grocer who expressed interest in eventually asking its suppliers to switch over to recyclable packaging for food shipments. For the grocer, this change could create a major increase in revenue: Post-consumer corrugated cardboard is a surprisingly valuable commodity, as long as it doesn’t have wax all over it. So, if recyclable boxes replaced the wax-coated ones, the grocer could sell its packaging waste instead of paying to send it to the landfill. If this change occurred nationwide, grocers and restaurants could save over $200 million.

To make sure the switch would work, the grocer asked Global Green to work with one of their key suppliers, NAFCO, to undertake a test of some recyclable corrugated boxes on their longest shipping route. Working with Coalition for Resource Recovery members Cascades Industrial Packaging and Interstate Container, we organized a donation of some recyclable boxes and shipped them over to NAFCO’s facility in Jessup, just outside Baltimore, Maryland.

Cascades and Global Green USA Staff Ice-Packing the boxesIn the early morning hours on a Saturday, staff from NAFCO, Cascades, and Global Green USA (that was me) packed the recyclable, water-resistant boxes with about 10 lbs. of ice per box. We got them stacked and wrapped up on the pallet, and put into the cooler. Later that day they would then begin their 4-day, 500-mile journey from Jessup to a grocery store in Boston. Every box used in the test was recyclable, replacing the standard unrecyclable polystyrene boxes.

A few days later, I convened with the folks from Cascades, Interstate Container, and a grocer representative at one of the grocer’s locations to see the results of the test. Here were the main performance concerns:

1) Will the box leak as some of the ice inevitably melts?
2) Will the box remain un-smashed, despite being filled with ice and stacked in a wet, bumpy truck for several days?
3) Will the box maintain a temperature low enough to keep most of the ice frozen until it arrives at the store?

NAFCO at dawn from outside

We walked into the cooler at the grocery store for the moment of truth—and we saw excellent results. The boxes were all intact, none were leaking, and they were still full of ice, even after their long journey. The grocer was very pleased with the results, and even took a few sample boxes with him to show to other seafood suppliers. Success!

Delivered Boxes - Intact and ice-filled (1)As for me, I’ll be leaving Boston in a few days to head back to sunny California and continue to spread the word about the recyclable boxes that can survive an arduous trip, save money, and ultimately replace nearly all of the unrecyclable packaging currently being used. I’ll also be working to coordinate the next recyclable box pilot in the series—from harvest and transport logistics to the final grocery delivery.

By testing recyclable boxes using a range of shipping routes, we can help build confidence among grocers and food suppliers in preparation for a wide-scale transition from unrecyclable to recyclable boxes. Stay tuned!

For field updates and news from Lily Kelly, follow her on Twitter @LilyKellyGG.

 

From the Field: Following Our Pre-Oscar Party Food Scraps

March 14th, 2014 by Lily Kelly No comments »

Pre-Oscar Party Food Waste Compost

Waking up in Hollywood after Global Green USA’s fabulous Pre-Oscar Party, I was ready to put my steel-toed boots right back on and light out for the desert at the crack of dawn. My mission: To see where Los Angeles composts its food scraps, including the food waste coming from our very own star-studded event.

When I arrived at American Organics’ Victorville, CA facility, I met up with Naka Soun and Pete Townsend, who showed me around their facility. American Organics takes in about 150 tons of organic material every day, about 20% of which is food waste.

American organics collageAmerican Organics is a subsidiary of our new Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) member Athens Services, a family-owned and locally based recycling and waste collection company, and the hauler who provided the composting service for the Pre-Oscar Party. Athens is one of very few LA-area haulers to provide commercial and residential organics and food waste collection and processing.

The facility combines food scraps with yard waste to create a soil mixture that’s usable—and highly beneficial—for landscape construction and farming. After being cleaned, ground, moistened, and turned periodically for 16-52 weeks to complete decomposition, the soil is finished and ready for sale.

Complete with the composted food scraps, this soil is an effective way to both keep food scraps out of landfills—reducing potent greenhouse gas emissions and the need for costly new landfills—and put valuable nutrients back into the earth. In keeping with the “closing-the-loop” spirit, Athens actually provides annual compost giveaways for their customers; every year they distribute hundreds of tons of organic compost free of charge.

Global Green USA is excited to have the opportunity to contribute to these composting efforts, and to highlight facilities like American Organics that make it possible to transform inedible food scraps into nutrient-rich soil ultimately used to grow more food. Closing the loop is what we’re all about!

Learn more about our zero-waste efforts at the 11th Annual Pre-Oscar Party here.
For field updates and news from Lily Kelly, follow her on Twitter @LilyKellyGG.

Pre-Oscar Green Carpet: How they Walk the Walk

March 13th, 2014 by Cat McIlwraith No comments »

On February 26, 2014 our 11th annual Pre-Oscar Party kicked off Oscar week. The green carpet was filled with voices advocating for Global Green’s mission and sharing their own solutions for helping to create a more sustainable, secure future.

 

Sebastian Copeland Quote

 

 

 

Michelle Branch Quote 2

 

 

 

Mary Luévano Quote 2.jpg

 

 

 

Matt Walsh Quote 2

 

 

 

Billy Zane Quote 2

 

 

 

Malin Akerman Quote

 

 

 

Dave Barthmuss Quote 2

 

 

 

Maggie Grace Quote

 

 

 

Joan Rivers Quote

 

 

 

Moby Quote

 

 

The Crystal Method Quote

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Gina Goodhill Rosen

March 11th, 2014 by Global Green USA No comments »

Gina Staff Spotlight

Sitting down with Gina Goodhill Rosen, Senior Policy & Legislative Associate. 

How would you describe your role at Global Green USA in five words?

Advance sustainability through policy initiatives.

What’s your biggest priority right now at Global Green?

A big focus for 2014 is to make the City of Los Angeles a leader in sustainability. Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States, and has the largest municipal utility (and one of the dirtiest) in the U.S. With that in mind, we’ve set out to make LA one of the greenest cities in the Country.

Accomplishing that feat in LA could have huge national implications, both because the City’s energy demand is massive (which means that increasing the percentage of clean energy would result in removing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions), and because the world watches Los Angeles: What we do here has the potential to be a model for the rest of the country. And with a new Mayor in office, we have a real opportunity to do something big.

Biggest accomplishment?

Three things:

  1. Helped adopt a new version of the building energy code (the IECC) used in almost 40 states that is 30% more energy efficient than the previous version of the code.
  2. Helped to implement a statewide program for energy efficiency that resulted in a $65.9 million investment in pilot programs for energy efficiency.
  3. Helped the City of Santa Monica secure over $2 million in funding to launch a bike share program.

What do you hope to have accomplished by 2015?

Two big things:

  1. To  help launch various bike share pilots in LA County, that will eventually be expanded into an interconnected system across the region.
  2. To secure a commitment from Mayor Garcetti and the LADWP to invest in clean energy. This means getting over 40% of our energy from clean renewable sources by 2020 (which must include local solar energy, such as a 600 megawatt feed-in-tariff); a quicker timeline to get off coal; a commitment that we won’t invest in any new natural gas; a bigger investment in energy efficiency; and more.

What’s your favorite/most unique thing about Global Green?

That we do both project work and policy work. So many groups do just one or the other, but I find it gives us a real advantage when talking to legislators to be able to let them know about the physical projects we are working on in their district—all of which result in cleaner air, more jobs, and dollars saved for their residents.

20 Facts for 20 Years: Our Work in New Orleans

March 11th, 2014 by Monica Rowand No comments »

In honor of Global Green USA’s 20th anniversary this year, we compiled 20 facts about the organization’s work in New Orleans:

History

1. Global Green’s New Orleans office was established in 2006 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the inadequate response of the U.S. Government. The organization made a commitment to sustainable building in the New Orleans region and is here to stay. Four years after Katrina, TIME magazine said, “No organization is doing more to green New Orleans than Global Green USA.”

Holy Cross Project

Holy Cross Project Community Development & Climate Action Center Rendering

Holy Cross Project Community Development & Climate Action Center Rendering

 

Pam Dashiell

Pam Dashiell, Community Activist

2. In the summer of 2006, Global Green hosted an international design competition chaired by actor and activist Brad Pitt for its green model village in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. The project was designed to include five LEED Platinum Homes, a Community Development and Climate Action Center and affordable apartments with rain gardens and shared outdoor space.

3. The Pam Dashiell Visitor Center, named in honor of the community activist who founded the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, is the first home completed, and has educated over 25,000 visitors since it opened in May 2008.

4. The average monthly Entergy bill (including electricity and gas) of Holy Cross Project homeowners is less than $30.

Green Schools

5. Global Green’s two Model Green Schools, Wilson Charter and L.B. Landry H.S., received LEED Gold and LEED Silver designations, respectively, thanks to technical assistance from Global Green. In addition, our four Green Seed Schools—A.P. Tureaud, MLK Charter, The International School and Gentilly Terrace—are each saving an average of $23,000 annually due to energy efficiency upgrades.

Gentilly Terrace green classroom

Gentilly Terrace green classroom

 

International Engagement

6. In October 2007, Global Green USA hosted the Green Cross International General Assembly in New Orleans to show the world the state of the city two years post-Katrina, bringing much international attention to the region. Green Cross Founder Mikhail Gorbachev and delegates from over 20 countries visited the Lower 9th Ward and other parts of the city, including a stop at The International School.

Policy and Initiatives

7. Global Green drafted Green Building and Green Schools Resolutions for the City Council, each of which was passed unanimously, in 2006 and 2008, respectively. The Green Building Resolution was elevated to a Green Building Ordinance in 2007, including such requirements as adoption of voluntary, New Orleans-based green standards for buildings.

8. Global Green assisted the City of New Orleans in becoming one of 25 Solar American Cities, securing a $200,000 Solar American City grant and technical assistance from the Department of Energy for the City.

9. Global Green was instrumental in creating and leading The Green Collaborative, a group of over 140 businesses, nonprofits, and other entities concerned with developing a green economy, and producing policy documents such as the Green Platform for New Orleans’ Mayor and Council in 2010 and a Declaration of Energy Dependence after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Residential Energy Efficiency

10. Build It Back Green, which ran from 2008 to 2011, reached over 20,000 New Orleans residents through community workshops and events, one-on-one green building technical consultations, and home energy assessments and weatherizations.

Building Performance Institute (BPI) training for veterans

Building Performance Institute (BPI) training for veterans

 

11. In 2011, the success of BIBG led to Global Green administering NOLA Wise, a residential energy efficiency and job training program funded through the Department of Energy. NOLA Wise put a total of 42 total contractors, veterans, and disadvantaged youth through Building Performance Institute (BPI) training and was the first entity to require BPI certification of its contractors.

12. NOLA Wise single-family retrofits are responsible for 763,170 kilowatt hours of annual household electricity savings and over 1 million dollars in revenue for local, small business contractors.

13. NOLA Wise merged with EnergySmart, the utility’s energy efficiency program in September, 2013, bringing together the Mayor’s energy efficiency program and the City Council’s energy efficiency program to provide a true one-stop shop for Orleans Parish residents.

Education and Outreach

NOLA WIse energy efficiency program outreach

NOLA WIse energy efficiency program outreach

14. Global Green’s New Orleans Green Building Resource Center was named “Best Recovery Resource” by the Neighborhood Partnership Network in 2010.

15. Also in 2010, Global Green installed Green Building information centers in the City’s Building Permits and Planning offices. These installations include flyers on green building methods and materials and are kept stocked by the Mayor’s Office of Coastal and Environmental Affairs.

16. In a six-year partnership with USGBC Louisiana and AIA New Orleans, the local office has hosted over 50 Sustainability Series events including presentations and discussions on green building and landscaping, water management, energy efficiency, energy tax credits, urban farming, and other issues of environmental concern.

17. In conjunction with EnergySmart, the NOLA Wise team has delivered 136 Energy Kits to Orleans Parish middle school students. The Energy Kit program teaches students about energy efficiency and helps to address efficiency at home by giving students CFLs, sink aerators, and a low-flow showerhead.

18. In 2013, Water Wise—a water efficiency and storm water management adjunct to NOLA Wise—was launched, providing education and referrals to homeowners and businesses about water resources. The success of the initial program led to the development of numerous partnerships and opportunities to reach into schools and communities.

Wetlands

Louisiana Wetlands Action Program (LWAP) collaborates with LSU on blue carbon documentary

Louisiana Wetlands Action Program (LWAP) collaborates with LSU on blue carbon documentary

 

19. Launched in 2010, Global Green’s Louisiana Wetland Action Program (LWAP) engages landowners, cumulatively owning 180,000 acres of coastal wetlands in Southeastern Louisiana, about opportunities for coastal restoration, with a focus on blue carbon, the CO2 sequestered in wetland soils and vegetation.

20. LWAP is collaborating with LSU scientists to determine the feasibility of blue carbon projects by monitoring black mangroves in Port Fourchon, and is working on a blue carbon documentary to be completed this year.

Follow @NOLAWise on Twitter for New Orleans updates and energy efficiency tips.
Follow #WetlandsWednesday on Twitter for wetlands news and project updates.

Water Wise: Outdoor Conservation, Storm Water Management, and Resource Directory

March 7th, 2014 by Jeff Supak No comments »

Water Wise Conservation header

OUTDOOR CONSERVATION

Of household water consumption, 30% is devoted to outdoor water use and as much as 50% is wasted because of poor watering methods. This can be addressed by upgrading watering and irrigation systems or by installing water catchments so that rainwater can be used to water yards and gardens.

The types of plants used also affects water use. Choose plants that are native to the area so as to minimize water use and maintenance efforts.

Irrigation

  • Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation systems and other watering methods.
  • Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best).
  • Set sprinklers to water only the lawn or garden – not the street, house, or sidewalk.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
  • Collect rain water and use it to water your garden.

Vegetation

  • Next time you add or replace any vegetation in your yard, choose a native plant that 
thrives with the area’s natural water cycles.
  • Keep shrubs, trees, and garden plants mulched to reduce evapotranspiration from soil surface and reduce pests and weeks. Pine straw mulch is best; avoid cypress mulch.

Miscellaneous

  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Cover your spa or pool to reduce evapotranspiration.
  • Never leave hoses or faucets running.


STORM WATER MANAGEMENT 


  • The average 64 inches of rainfall New Orleans gets each year is handled by an extensive storm water collection system that relies heavily on pumping.
  • Precipitation and run off transport pollutants into an already burdened pumping system and are the main source of water quality impairment. Implementing storm water management best management practices (BMPs) would enhance the Orleans Parish watershed and improve both water quality and resilience to flooding.
  • Including BMPs like rain barrels and bioswales in a home’s landscape helps to reduce run off volume and the amount of sediment and debris that makes its way into storm drains. Lessening this burden improves water conveyance, reduces pollutant loads, and helps to manage flooding.
  • See the Water Wise Partners Directory below for resources to help with the installation of BMPs at your home.

 

WATER WISE PARTNERS DIRECTORY
(Click directory below to enlarge)

Outdoor Water Wise Directory 2

 For more tips and local New Orleans sustainability news, follow @NOLAWise on Twitter!