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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Green roofs are no easy feat, but the list of viable plants is growing
The typical black-membrane urban roof cooks in the sun, reaching 120 degrees or more. Rain, when it comes, flows directly off the roof and contributes to the considerable environmental harm of storm water runoff. The green roof, by contrast, cools the roof and the building beneath it (reducing energy costs) and traps and filters rainwater. It costs more to build than a conventional roof but lasts much longer, because it isn't corroded so much by the elements. Given the extremes of a roof environment -- thin soil, wind, drought, high heat in summer and frigid conditions in winter -- the number of suitable plants is a fraction of what you might grow on the ground. Source: Washington Post, 9/1/15

Monday, September 21, 2015
Beyond Sprawl: A New Vision of The Solar Suburbs of the Future
The concept of the "solar suburb" includes a solar panel on every roof, an electric vehicle in every garage, ultra-efficient home batteries to store excess energy, and the easy transfer of electricity among house, car, and grid. But will the technological pieces fall in place to make this dream a reality? Source: Yale Environment360, 9/21/15

More in C-U answering call of 'duty'
Local cities make sure residents have opportunities to recycle. Urbana provides recycling for all of its residents through a municipal program. Champaign requires all waste haulers to provide recycling for all residents. Bart Bartels, a technical assistance engineer at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, discusses some of the efforts made by the University of Illinois to increase awareness of recycling efforts on campus. Source: Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, 9/20/15

Saturday, September 19, 2015
Administration Announces New "Smart Cities" Initiative to Help Communities Tackle Local Challenges and Improve City Services
The Obama Administration has announced a new "Smart Cities" Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of this Administration's overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions. Over the past six years, the Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and filling open technology jobs to bolstering community policing. Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build "Smart Cities" -- communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents -- by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy. Source: The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 9/14/15

Friday, September 18, 2015
Making pharmaceuticals that degrade before they can contaminate drinking water
In recent years, researchers have realized that many products, including pharmaceuticals, have ended up where they're not supposed to be -- in our drinking water. But now scientists have developed a way to make drugs that break down into harmless compounds before they contaminate our taps. Their report appears in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology. Source: American Chemical Society, 9/9/15

Thursday, September 17, 2015
For an environmentally friendly supply chain, what we buy matters
The challenge for individual hospitals and health systems is that the environmental attributes of products are often not apparent within some purchasing processes. However, market-wide progress is being made through several initiatives that bring together hospital sustainability and purchasing managers, GPOs, and medical product and service providers. Source: Modern Healthcare, 9/1/15

EPA Proposes New Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its proposed Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule. If finalized, it will create an entirely new subpart in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations to regulate hazardous waste pharmaceuticals (HWPs) that are generated by healthcare facilities as well as those HWPs managed by pharmaceutical reverse distributors. Healthcare facilities that are small quantity generators (SQGs) or large quantity generators (LQGs) and all pharmaceutical reverse distributors--regardless of the quantity of HWPs generated per month--will be required to manage HWPs under the new Subpart P of 40 CFR Part 266. Source: JD Supra Business Advisor, 9/4/15

EPA Issues Final Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) on HBCD
EPA is issuing a final Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for two chemical substances collectively referred to as "HBCD" under the Toxic Substances Control Act. HBCD is bioaccumulative, environmentally persistent, and toxic.

HBCD is considered a hazard to the environment because of its toxicity to aquatic organisms and a hazard to human health because of its reproductive toxicity and potential neurodevelopmental toxicity. People may be exposed to HBCD in the workplace and from consumer products and dust in the home and workplace, as well as its presence in the environment. The final rule requires notification to EPA 90 days prior to U.S. manufacture, import, or processing of HBCD in consumer textiles (except for use in motor vehicles). The final rule also requires notification to EPA 90 days prior to U.S. import or processing of HBCD in textile articles. The required Significant New Use Notice will provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the potential risks of resuming the use, and to place limits on future use, if necessary. Source: U.S. EPA, 9/17/15

United States Establishes First Food Waste Reduction Goal
Two government agencies have established the United States first-ever food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. Source: Waste360, 9/16/15

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