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Archive for October, 2011

27
Oct

Cm. Mendelson Tree Bill Briefing on November 4th!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:44:12 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network

Invitation & Background:

On November 4th join the DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees and other interested environmentalists for a special briefing featuring Councilmember Phil Mendelson. This event will take place at the John A. Wilson Building, offices of our Council and Mayor, in Room 120.

RSVP for this event here.

The DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees, Sierra Club and many others have worked hard over the years to stop the decline of the District’s tree canopy. In the 1950’s DC had a tree canopy that covered approximately 45%. Today the canopy is 35% and continues to decline.  See Casey Trees Urban Forestry Brief.

In 2002 the District passed the “Urban Forestry Preservation Act of 2002.” This act protected trees of a certain size and should have resulted in significantly more trees being planted the last eight years. Most environmental organizations feel that this law was never adequately implemented, and additionally, with the creation of the District Departmet of the Environment (DDOE) and other changes, is already outdated and needs fixing.

The DC Environmental Network believes that trees should be a central component of the District’s new Sustainable DC plan. Trees have many benefits including combatting greenhouse gases, cleaning our air, providing oxygen, cooling our streets, conserving energy, saving water and preventing water pollution. Trees also provide food, protect children from ultra-violet rays that can cause skin cancer and can even bring communities together. We saw this in 2002 when hundreds of District residents and organizations testified in support of trees at the biggest hearing on an environmental issue of the last decade.

The good news is the District has extremely dedicated organizations like Casey Trees working to reverse the decline of the tree canopy. In fact, in recent years, Casey Trees convinced the District government to adopt a goal of 40% tree cover by 2035.

Councilmember Mendelson, who has championed protection of trees over the years, recently introduced legislation, the “Urban Forestry Administration Act of 2011” to start fixing the District’s broken and minimally implemented tree regulations. Mendelson’s bill increases necessary protections for smaller trees to help them reach the state of development that gives District residents the most benefits from tree cover. Mendelson’s bill also transfers the Urban Forestry Administration to the District Department of the Environment.

The environmental community has lots of ideas on how we might fix our dated tree bill. See Casey Trees Recommended Modifications. Introduction of this new legislation and our discussions with Councilmember Mendelson and others are important steps to finally having tree protections that make sense.

RSVP for this event here!

All are welcome.

22
Oct

Strategies to Promote Recycling & Reduce Pollution

Sat Oct 22, 2011 at 07:11:06 PM EST

By Paul Walker, Director, Security and Sustainability, Global Green USA

Global Green USA and the DC Environmental Network hosted a roundtable discussion on the recycling of bottles, cans, plastics, and packaging with Susan Collins, director of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) in Culver City, California, on October 18, 2011.  Susan was in Washington DC to speak at the 6th annual “Trash Summit” the following day organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation regarding efforts to limit trash pollution in the Potomac River Watershed.

Susan described four models of recycling: (1) refillable glass and plastic containers such as used for beer and other drinks in Germany; (2) container deposits which provide financial incentives for consumers to return their bottles and cans; (3) secondary and transport packaging; and (4) actual voluntary recycling including curbside “blue bin” programs.

She explained that the carbon footprint of these liquid containers comes mainly from production of their primary packaging – glass and plastic bottles and aluminum cans – and their need for refrigeration.  She also explained that 29.5% of our yearly waste in the US comes from such packaging.

Recycling rates (2009) vary tremendously in the US from a high of 95.7% for car batteries to a low of 21% for plastic containers.  Tires, for example, remain at 35.3%.  In most cases, these rates could be considerably higher if recycling initiatives were more widely promoted and written into law.

The ten US states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont – which currently have deposit laws which place a five-, ten-, or fifteen-cent deposit on various beverage containers now account for 50% or more of the recycled containers in the whole country.  This points to the remarkable effectiveness of deposit laws, commonly called “bottle bills.”  An eleventh state, Delaware, recently repealed its deposit law which had very limited coverage.  Six of the deposit-law states have recently expanded their systems to cover more beverage containers, including bottled water, sports drinks, liquor, wine, and even milk.  And two deposit-law states – Iowa and Maine – recently defeated repeal efforts.  Massachusetts is currently seeking to expand its 40-year-old law.

Internationally there are about 40 extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs and 45 container deposit laws.  New laws have recently been enacted in Australia, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Turks & Caicos, and the US (Guam and Hawaii).  Susan particularly praised strong recycling efforts in Germany and Canada.

Typically, deposit-law states recycle 75-90% of the covered containers, greatly limiting trash pollution, saving valuable landfill space, reducing carbon emissions, and producing additional state revenue.  The 40 states without deposit laws, even those with strong public education and curbside recycling programs, produce recycling rates of 20-40%.  More statistics on these programs can be found from a Global Green USA study, the “BEAR (Businesses and Environmentalists Allied for Recycling) Report, at http://www.thecorr.org/Bear.pdf.

More information can also be found at www.bottlebill.org and www.container-recycling.org.

21
Oct

October 25th: Climate in a Sustainable DC

Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 09:34:30 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Natural Systems & Climate Adaptation in Mayor Gray’s Sustainability Plan

On October 25th at Noon, please join the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the DC Environmental Network (DCEN), and other climate experts for an informal brown bag discussion about the ways that DC can be a “climate-smart” city that utilizes natural systems to build resilience to climate change, providing benefits for both people and wildlife. Ideas generated at this discussion will be submitted to the DC government as part of its effort to develop a sustainability plan for the City.

  • DATE& TIME: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM
  • PLACE: National Wildlife Federation, 901 E Street NW, Suite 400
  • RSVP for this Discussion Here!

Please come prepared to share your ideas for local policies, ordinances, and demonstration projects, as well as ideas for implementing your suggestions (e.g., Who would need to be involved to make this idea work? How could revenue be generated to implement the project?). Here are some things to think about to get the wheels turning:

*What deliverate steps can the DC government take to build resilience to climate change and improve the city’s adaptive capacity in ways that support human and ecological systems?

*How can more open space provide recreation benefits and support wildlife?

*How can climate change vulnerability data be used to enhance land use planning and accomodate shifts in wetlands coverage? What kinds of tools could the city develop to enhance decision-making in these areas?

*What are other cities doing, and how can DC learn from them?

*How can transportation projects support species migration?

*How can vacant lots be used to support local wildlife and make the city more “climate ready?”

*How can the city use LID (low impact development) strategies for stormwater management to reduce property damage and protect wildlife?

You may work on climate change every day, but are you thinking about how your neighborhood could be better suited to cope with the impacts of climate change? Here’s your chance to put your skills to use in your own city.

A representative from the DC Department of Environment will also be on hand to answer questions.

RSVP for this Discussion Here!

For more information, please contact Kara Reeve at (202) 797-6653 or at reevek@nwf.org .

All are welcome!

18
Oct

Accountability & Process in DC’s Sustainability Plan

Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 01:22:45 PM EST

by Chris Weiss Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Dear District of Columbia Environmental Leader:

I am writing to invite you to participate in our upcoming discussion, this Thursday, October 20th, at 8:00 am, on how we can help Mayor Gray design a Sustainable DC plan that we can implement and ultimately be proud of. You have been in the trenches advocating to green the District and understand the challenges we all face to protect the environmental health of everyone in DC and ultimately on the entire planet. That is why I need your help to formulate a plan that will really work.

The District of Columbia government has done a good job so far of reaching out to District residents and the environmental community for ideas and a vision for a sustainable District of Columbia. If you look on the Sustainable DC website you will find an excellent list of existing and new policy initiatives. What you won’t find is a clear road map on how we can actually make that vision a reality.

Our discussion this Thursday will look at how we might create a road map to success using a framework based on accountability, transparency and good governance.

The truth is it has been a struggle over the last decade to properly implement sustainability initiatives. Most of the environmental initiatives that we have all worked hard on have had limited success and many lacked the true comittment of decision makers and sometimes even the broader community necessary for implementation. This time we have to get it right and the only way we can make sure this new plan works is for all of us to work together to help the Mayor put a structure in place that is strong enough to be carried on through future administrations.

I hope you will consider coming to this discussion. If you cannot make it we will be having additional meetings to continue this process over the next six months. Sign- Up here to participate!

Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Accountability & Process in DC’s Sustainability Plan

On October 20th at 8:00 AM please join this DC Environmental Network (DCEN) discussion to help figure out ways to structure the process to ensure performance over time of Mayor Gray’s new Sustainable DC plan. Let’s make ourselves and the District accountable for implementing a bold and aggressive vision for a Sustainable DC. RSVP Here!

Background:

Performance and process and the District’s sustainability plan “If done right” should be our theme to creating and implementing the District’s new sustainability initiative. The interests of the District, over time, will be best served by a sustainability plan that maximizes results by taking a look at the way we can create the process that will insure performance and accountability in the ways the Sustainable DC plan is implemented.

From a process perspective we will have a discussion to develop recommendations to develop guidelines that might:

– Make it common practice to assess environmental, economic and social performance as compared

to baselines;

– Ensure that the management and accountability structures and systems and the resources to support them are in place;

– Find a way to assess sustainability risk and opportunity for each policy and practice put in place;

– Not only look at what we produce but how;

– Leverage partnerships with business, nonprofits and academic institutions; and

– Engage stakeholders from those who live and work in the District, local and federal government agencies and employees, nonprofits, labor unions and visitors.

This presentation will be moderated by Patty Rose (Greenspace, NCR, Inc.) and Chris Weiss (DC Environmental Network).

Details:

  • Thursday, October 20th, 8:00am until 10:00am
  • Global Green USA, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor (near Farragut North & McPherson Square metro stations)
  • Sign- Up here to participate!
  • Call-In Number: (775) 269-3893, when prompted enter 399602#

All are welcome to attend!

14
Oct

Nation-wide Efforts to Maximize Container & Package Reuse

Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 11:20:35 AM EST

By Paul Walker, Director of Security & Sustainability, Global Green USA

Invitation & Background:

Join Global Green USA and the DC Environmental Network on October 18th @ 4:00 for an informative briefing on the many efforts nation-wide to maximize container and package reuse. Our panel of experts will be headlined by Susan Collins, Executive Director of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI).

RSVP for this event here!

Susan Collins:

Susan has spent 20 years advising over 80 municipalities on municipal solid waste and recycling programs and sustainability issues. She recently completed an extensive international research project comparing the financial, operational and policy aspects of container deposit and packaging systems in California, Germany and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. She spent nine years on the board of the California Resource Recovery Association, has a B.S. in manufacturing engineering from Boston University and an M.B.A. from UCLA.

Container Recycling Institute Vision & Mission Statement:

CRI’s very own vision statement states: “CRI is the model organization instrumental in bringing about a rapid increase in recycling for a world where no material is wasted, and the environment is protected. We succeed because companies and people collaborate to create a strong, sustainable domestic economy.”

CRI’s mission is to make North America a global model for the collection and quality recycling of packaging materials. We do this by:

  • Producing authoritative research and reporting and education on policies and practices that empower communities to reduce waste (and related emissions) and increase recovery, reuse, and high-end/closed loop recycling of beverage containers, packaging and printed paper.
  • Creating and maintaining a database of information on container and packaging generation, disposal, recovery and recycling in the United States and abroad.
  • Studying container and packaging reuse and recycling options and legislation, including deposit systems, and their environmental and economic impacts. These include state, national and international programs and policies.
  • Educating on recycling options for local, state and national government agencies and elected officials, for citizen groups, the print and broadcast media, community groups and public and elected officials considering a deposit system to recycle or reuse containers and packaging.
  • Creating and sponsoring national networks for mutual progress (for customers and stakeholders).

Global Green and the DC Environmental Network, among many other District based organizations, are looking to bring the District into the next century with cutting-edge, effective strategies to increase recycling of the ever-increasing amounts of containers and packaging that is being generated by our consumption driven society.

This will be the first of many sessions, open to all, to help the District and surrounding jurisdictions come up with the right plan. We will also discuss how to implement any new strategies that the local environmental community evolves into Mayor Gray’s new Sustainable DC initiative.

RSVP for this event here!

All are welcome!

14
Oct

DC’s New “Urban Forestry Administration Act of 2011”

Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 11:08:33 AM EST

By Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network

Invitation & Background:

Join the DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees and other interested environmentalists for a special briefing featuring Councilmember Phil Mendelson. This event will take place at the John A. Wilson Building, offices of our Council and Mayor, in Room 120.

RSVP for this event here.

The DC Environmental Network, Casey Trees, Sierra Club and many others have worked hard over the years to stop the decline of the District’s tree canopy. In the 1950’s DC had a tree canopy that covered approximately 45%. Today the canopy is 35% and continues to decline.  See Casey Trees Urban Forestry Brief.

In 2002 the District passed the “Urban Forestry Preservation Act of 2002.” This act protected trees of a certain size and should have resulted in significantly more trees being planted the last eight years. Most environmental organizations feel that this law was never adequately implemented, and additionally, with the creation of the District Departmet of the Environment (DDOE) and other changes, is already outdated and needs fixing.

The good news is the District has extremely dedicated organizations like Casey Trees working to reverse the decline of the tree canopy. In fact, in recent years, Casey Trees convinced the District government to adopt a goal of 40% tree cover by 2035.

Councilmember Mendelson, who has championed protection of trees over the years, recently introduced legislation, the “Urban Forestry Administration Act of 2011” to start fixing the District’s broken and minimally implemented tree regulations. Mendelson’s bill increases necessary protections for smaller trees to help them reach the state of development that gives District residents the most benefits from tree cover. Mendelson’s bill also transfers the Urban Forestry Administration to the District Department of the Environment.

The environmental community has lots of ideas on how we might fix our dated tree bill. See Casey Trees Recommended Modifications. Introduction of this new legislation and our discussions with Councilmember Mendelson and others are important steps to finally having tree protections that make sense.

RSVP for this event here!

All are welcome.

12
Oct

Accountability & Mayor Gray’s Sustainable DC!

Wed Oct 12, 2011 at 03:12:46 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

On October 20th at 8:00 AM please join this DC Environmental Network (DCEN) discussion to help figure out ways to structure the process to ensure performance over time of Mayor Gray’s new Sustainable DC plan. Let’s make ourselves and the District accountable for implementing a bold and aggressive vision for a Sustainable DC. RSVP Here!

Background:

Performance and process and the District’s sustainability plan “If done right” should be our theme to creating and implementing the District’s new sustainability initiative. The interests of the District, over time, will be best served by a sustainability plan that maximizes results by taking a look at the way we can create the process that will insure performance and accountability in the ways the Sustainable DC plan is implemented.

From a process perspective we will have a discussion to develop recommendations to develop guidelines that might:

– Make it common practice to assess environmental, economic and social performance as compared to baselines;

– Ensure that the management and accountability structures and systems and the resources to support them are in place;

– Find a way to assess sustainability risk and opportunity for each policy and practice put in place;

– Not only look at what we produce but how;

– Leverage partnerships with business, nonprofits and academic institutions; and

– Engage stakeholders from those who live and work in the District, local and federal government agencies and employees, nonprofits, labor unions and visitors.

This presentation will be moderated by Patty Rose (Greenspace, NCR, Inc.) and Chris Weiss (DC Environmental Network).

Details:

  • Thursday, October 20th, 8:00am until 10:00am
  • Global Green USA, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor (near Farragut North & Mcpherson Square metro stations)
  • Sign- Up here to participate!
  • Call-In Number: (775) 269-3893, when prompted enter 399602#

All are welcome to attend!

11
Oct

Serbia/US Report: US Coalition & Network Building

Tue Oct 11, 2011 at 06:35:56 PM EST

by Noah Fishman, Program Officer, Institute for Sustainable Communities

The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) works with citizen advocates and community groups worldwide to give them the tools and skills they need to achieve change.  Since 2006, through a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), we have provided grants and training to nonprofit organizations in Serbia, including environmental groups, to build their capacity as advocates for their causesIn past years, ISC grantees have organized grassroots campaigns to clean up the illegal waste dumps that literally litter the Serbian landscape.  But although citizens turn out to volunteer at these one-day events, our grantees still struggle to find a way to improve the systemic issues that contribute to the existence of these dumps in the first place.  ISC is now supporting a coalition of Serbian nonprofits called the Green Initiative who want to change this.

Green Initiative is a newly formed network of 22 citizen’s organizations of whose activities in the following 16 months will be oriented towards improvement of the waste management system.

The network consists of the following organizations:

  1. Balkan Community Initiative Fund (BCIF)
  2. Young Researchers of Serbia (YRS)
  3. European Movement in Serbia (EMINS)
  4. Group 484
  5. IDC Serbia
  6. Center for development of Social entrepreneurship (CDSE)
  7. YUROM Center Nis
  8. Center of Modern Skills (CMS)
  9. Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE)
  10. Network of local environmental organizations called the Green List of Serbia

Twelve representatives of the Green Initiative travelled to Vermont and Washington, DC as part of ISC’s Advocacy Fellows Program.  Participants explored best practices, models and lessons learned related to waste management policy and practice meeting with a variety of stakeholders, advocates and practitioners.

The groups’ first meeting in Washington, DC was a dynamic panel discussion at the DC Environmental Network.  The discussion focused on how to build effective networks and coalitions to advance environmental issues and included organizations and individuals with a wide range of experience such as: Global Green USA, Friends of the Earth, DCEN, DC Jobs with Justice and more.  The group gained valuable insights into the challenges, lessons learned and best practices in coalition building from leaders in this field which will help them as they work to further develop and sustain their own national level environmental network.  In addition, Serbian participants had a chance to share their experiences and discuss possibilities for ongoing dialogue and partnership between US and Serbian organizations.

The DC Environmental Network was very pleased to host this important discussion and hopes to support the work of the Institute for Sustainable Communities in the future as well as continue to connect and share experiences with the Serbian organizations and activists that visited us here in Washington, DC.