Which State is the Most Energy-Efficient? Which is the Worst? New Report Tells All

Citizens Business Bank Arena Breaks Ground As First US Professional Hockey Arena to Make Ice Using Recycled Water

What Sad Statistic Do More than 20 Percent of American Children Share?

Upcycle Your Bottles, It's The Crafty Thing To Do

Chipotle and Slow Food USA Launch New Partnership Supporting School Gardens

Green Seal Celebrates 25 Years

nature conserve

Which State is the Most Energy-Efficient?
Which is the Worst? New Report Tells All

Governors and lawmakers in state capitals across the nation continue to take major steps to lower energy costs, reduce pollution, and save consumers money by increasing their states’ energy efficiency, according to the findings of the 8th edition of the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Available online at http://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard, the report found that in 2014 Massachusetts (#1) continues to edge out California (#2) as the most energy-efficient state in the nation for the fourth year in a row. Following these states in the top 10 are: Rhode Island (marking the state’s first time in top five), Oregon, and Vermont (all tied for #3); Connecticut (#6); New York (#7); Washington (#8); Maryland (#9); and Minnesota (#10).

Other key State Energy Efficiency Scorecard findings include the following:

* Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Wisconsin are the four most improved energy-efficiency states for 2014. Arkansas pushed forward with strong utility programs. The state’s budgets for electric efficiency programs increased 30% between 2012 and 2013, while electricity savings more than tripled. The District of Columbia and Wisconsin also saw upticks in energy savings. Kentucky took notable steps to adopt a more efficient commercial building energy code.

* From dead last and up, the five states most in need of improvement on energy efficiency in 2014 are North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Alaska.

* Overall, states are ramping up their commitments to energy efficiency. Savings from electricity efficiency programs in 2013 totaled approximately 24.4 million megawatt-hours (MWh), a 7 percent increase over 2011 savings reported last year by ACEEE. Gas savings for 2013 were reported at 276 million therms (MMTherms), a 19 percent increase over the 2011 savings reported in the previous ACEEE State Scorecard.

* A total of 23 states fell in the energy efficiency rankings in 2014. Indiana dropped the furthest, by 13 spots, due in part to state legislators’ decision to eliminate the state’s long-term energy savings goals. Legislators in Ohio made a similar decision to freeze and substantially weaken the state’s energy efficiency resource standard (EERS), contributing to the state’s fall of 7 spots down the rankings.  Despite these policy setbacks, utilities in both states have indicated they will continue running efficiency programs, albeit at levels below what would have been required by the standards.

* ACEEE found that states that enforce and adequately fund an EERS drive investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets include Arizona, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Maggie Molina, director of ACEEE’s Utilities, State, and Local Policy program, said: “More and more governors and state lawmakers understand that they have a choice: Do nothing as costly energy is wasted or take action by creating incentives to waste less energy. Smart energy efficiency choices maintain the same comfort, convenience, and quality of life that consumers want and expect. Energy efficiency is also good for business. State action on energy efficiency improves bottom lines, drives investment across all sectors of the economy, creates jobs, and offsets the environmental harms created by the energy production system.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said: “We have treated efficiency as our first fuel because saving energy, managing costs, and reducing environmental impacts while building a stronger cleantech economy helps fulfill our responsibility to future generations to leave a stronger Commonwealth than we found.”

JD Lowery, director of the Arkansas Energy Office, a division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said: “Much of Arkansas’ improvement must be attributed to the ongoing leadership of our Arkansas Public Service Commissioners, our utility partners, and our citizens. Through innovative programs, both businesses and households in Arkansas have discovered the economic benefits of investing in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is no longer this unknown thing. We’re creating jobs while saving Arkansans money. Everybody wins.”

Other key findings include the following:

* Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs in 2013 reached $6.3 billion. Adding that to natural gas program budgets of $1.4 billion, total efficiency program budgets were estimated to be more than $7.7 billion in 2013.

* The leading states in utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies were Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont. With long records of success, all three continued to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies. Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island earned maximum points in this category.

* The leading state in building energy codes and compliance was California. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have officially adopted the latest standards for both residential and commercial buildings.

* California and New York led the way in energy-efficient transportation policies. California’s requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have led it to identify several strategies for smart growth, while New York is one of the few states in the nation to have a concrete vehicle-miles-traveled reduction target.

* Other states have also made recent progress in energy efficiency. Nevada scored additional points for its building codes and compliance measures. Delaware passed a significant energy efficiency bill in early July, laying the groundwork for customer-funded energy efficiency programs. This policy shift did not result in an improved score this year, but it will likely garner additional points in future editions of the State Scorecard as programs are implemented and regulations are finalized.

* The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have taken steps to improve energy efficiency in new construction by adopting building energy codes, but have generally not made investments in efficiency in other sectors. This is the first year these territories have been included in the State Scorecard.

ACEEE State Policy Research Analyst Annie Gilleo, lead author of the 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, said:  “The State Scorecard provides an annual benchmark of the progress of state energy efficiency policies and programs. It encourages states to continue strengthening their efficiency commitments in order to promote economic growth, secure environmental benefits, and increase their communities’ resilience in the face of the uncertain cost and supply of the energy resources on which they depend. The State Scorecard offers a toolkit that policymakers can use to increase energy savings in their state.”

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit http://aceee.org.


Citizens Business Bank Arena Breaks Ground
As First US Professional Hockey Arena
to Make Ice Using Recycled Water

Citizens Business Bank Arena officials have announced a ground-breaking water conservation project to be implemented for the Ontario Reign’s 2014-2015 ECHL hockey season. On October 1, 2014 Citizens Business Bank Arena, a City of Ontario owned facility and an AEG Facilities operated arena, became the first professional hockey arena in the United States to make ice using recycled water.  The project is a partnership between Citizens Business Bank Arena, the City of Ontario and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, which is providing the recycled water.  Combined with the savings from a recent project to operate Citizens Business Bank Arena’s cooling towers using recycled water, both projects together could save an estimated 5 million gallons of potable water each year.

Citizens Business Bank Arena’s innovative use of recycled water has been applauded by leaders in the environmental movement. "Water scarcity is going to rival sea level rise as one of the consequences of global climate change. In California this is already very apparent, with 58% of the state experiencing extreme drought.” said Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D. and Senior Scientist, with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Co-Founder of the Green Sports Alliance.  “Besides the local water saving benefits that Citizens Business Bank Arena will achieve by recycling water to make ice, literally millions of gallons annually, the market and cultural visibility of the arena will inspire businesses and fans throughout the region to conserve water as well."

Water conservation is a high priority for Citizens Business Bank Arena, which has taken several measures to cut its annual water consumption by 48% since 2009. Projects including installing low-flow faucets, switching to waterless urinals, and implementing water-saving irrigation practices have driven these major reductions. Citizens Business Bank Arena also has a strong history of using recycled water, which has been used for irrigation since 2008 and currently comprises 60% of its annual water consumption. “Since opening, we’ve aggressively pursued opportunities to conserve water and use recycled water where we can,” says Richard Vartigian, Director of Operations at Citizens Business Bank Arena. “Kelly White, Facilities Engineer Supervisor, and I try to push the boundaries of what’s possible and it’s been incredible to watch the idea of creating professional hockey ice from recycled water become a reality at our facility.”

Beyond water conservation, Citizens Business Bank Arena has implemented many initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment and actively participates in AEG 1EARTH, AEG’s corporate environmental sustainability program. Through the AEG 1EARTH program, Citizens Business Bank Arena tracks monthly “Ecometrics” to monitor energy and water usage, waste diversion, and responsible purchasing, and works to continuously improve in all categories.  For more information visit: CBBankArena.com.


What Sad Statistic Do More Than 20 Percent
of American Children Share?

While most Americans will worry about eating too much this holiday season, 16 million of our country’s children live in households that struggle to afford food, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We hear about ‘food insecurity’ quite a bit, especially after the 2008-09 economic crash, but I think most people don’t have a clear picture of what that means,” says Lois Brandt, a former Peace Corps volunteer and author of “Maddi’s Fridge,” (www.MaddisFridge.com), a children’s picture book that asks the question: what do you do if your best friend’s family doesn’t have enough food?

“Food insecurity means an empty refrigerator. Food insecurity means soda instead of milk. Food insecurity means a child coming to school hungry and unable to focus. Poverty may not look exactly the same in our country as it does in a war-torn region or a developing country, but it is affecting our children and their futures. Sometimes, working parents have to choose between rent and food, medicine and food, or gas and food.

Brandt suggests four things you can do to help prevent childhood hunger.

•  Support non-profit organizations like Feeding America
www.FeedingAmerica.org). Previously known as Second Harvest, Feeding America is a national network of food banks that feeds more that 37 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. It’s the nation’s leading organization for countering hunger and educating the public about this crisis.
“Public awareness is important,” Brandt says. “Many people simply do not know that we’re surrounded every day by hungry children.”
•  Talk to your children about childhood hunger and how they can help.  “When I was a child I opened my best friend’s refrigerator to get a snack and was shocked to see it held almost nothing,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do.”

As an adult, Brandt says she’s amazed by the number of people who share with her their own stories of childhood food insecurity.

“Rather than sheltering your children from this sad fact of American life, talking to them about it can help nurture their compassion and empathy,” she says. “And there’s plenty they can do to help, from making posters to raise awareness, to organizing a food drive at school.”
Taking action teaches children that they do have the power and ability to change the world for the better. 
•  Don’t make childhood hunger a political issue. Of course, childhood hunger doesn’t exist in a vacuum; issues like welfare, minimum wage, income inequality and access to health care – all of which are heavily politicized – surround the problem. Whatever your take on these topics, realize that no matter the decisions a parent has made in his or her lifetime, children are innocent and have no control of their family’s circumstances.
•  Volunteer with your family at a shelter or food pantry during the busy holiday season. While serving or cooking food for a holiday-themed meal at a shelter during Thanksgiving or Christmas does not solve the larger problem, it will affect every person whose life you touch that day. Your efforts and kind words can become a fond, lifelong memory for a child, or remind adults that others care and they’re not alone.

Volunteering also has personal benefits, not the least of which is knowing that, despite whatever problems you’re facing, you were able to help someone else.


Upcycle Your Bottles, It's The Crafty Thing To Do

The cold fronts are coming in, which means you have plenty of time to get crafty and the folks at Drinking In America suggest doing it with alcohol. As you probably know, after a number of family get-togethers or holiday parties, a collection of bottles begins to grow. How about this crafty idea:  upcycle your booze bottles?

Learn how to turn your Jack Daniel’s into a soap dispenser or your minis into a string of Christmas lights. Keep the goods for yourself or bring them as your swap gift.

Bottle of Jack Soap Dispenser
1. Buy a bottle of Jack
2. Invite friends over
3. Drink the bottle of Jack (with friends)
4. Buy liquid soap (make sure it has a fancy pump to impress your friends)
5. Pour the soap into the bottle and add the pump


Mini Booze Patio Lights
All you need is an assortment of booze bottles, a string of white lights, and some floral tape.
Where do you get these little bottles? Ask friends to start saving them from airplane travel. Ask the flight attendant to save any empty bottles from the flight.  Can be used to decorate a Christmas tree too?)

You’ll need:

  • A string of white holiday lights

  • A collection of small booze bottles

  • Floral tape

  • Scissors

1. Begin by removing the top from each bottle and throwing it away. Next, begin wrapping floral tape around the mouth of the bottle several times. Floral tape sticks upon itself so wrap it tightly.


2. After a few times around, place a light into the mouth of the bottle. Have the floral tape go up and over the wire to the other side, creating a little loop. Go around this a few times to make it sturdy, and end by wrapping the floral tape around the mouth of the bottle a few more times to secure. Use the photos below for reference.

3. Continue adding on a booze bottle on to each light.

Chipotle and Slow Food USA Launch New Partnership Supporting School Gardens

Chipotle Mexican Grill earlier this month announced a partnership with Slow Food USA to create or support approximately 100 schools gardens in 10 metropolitan areas across the country. Through hands-on discovery and an innovative school curriculum, the organizations hope to cultivate a generation of kids who care more about where food comes from and how it is prepared.

“With this new partnership, we want to give children access to a hands-on learning experience at their schools, to teach them how food is grown, and the importance of cooking and healthy eating,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle.

With the help of nearly $500,000 from Chipotle, the two organizations will work together to build or support 100 school gardens in 10 metropolitan areas across the country, including Austin, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Long Island/northern New Jersey, Louisville, Miami, Orange County, Phoenix and San Diego. Local Slow Food USA chapters will provide a host of services to support each program including a customized curriculum, funding, labor, and other resources to match the needs of the individual schools and/or districts, while also offering in-depth technical assistance. Chipotle will provide funding through micro grants, in-restaurant fundraisers and hands-on support.

Chipotle has been a long time supporter of educational gardens, and by focusing its efforts on the Slow Food USA School National Garden Program, the company can significantly expand its involvement in this area. In the past, both Chipotle and Slow Food USA have supported school gardens, Chipotle having contributed more than $1 million to support approximately 50 school, community and educational garden programs across the country in 2013, and Slow Food USA having started and/or maintained 313 school gardens nationwide, engaging more than 21,000 children in growing, preparing and sharing fresh food.

"This partnership will dramatically increase the impact that our National School Garden Program will have by extending our reach deeper into communities and offering greater access to gardens and food education to children across the country," said Richard McCarthy, executive director of Slow Food USA. "Chipotle is a company that is working to change fast food from the inside out, and we're thrilled to be working with them to take our Garden Program to the next level."

Both Slow Food USA and Chipotle share a belief in making better food widely available. Slow Food USA is committed to good, clean and fair food for all, and Chipotle is changing the way people think about and eat fast food by using ingredients that are raised with respect for the land, the animals and the farmers. Separately, each organization has made significant strides in their respective areas, and together, they will work to improve the food culture in schools across the U.S.

For more information about this new partnership, please visit Chipotle.com or SlowfoodUSA.org.

Green Seal Celebrates 25 Years

Green Seal President and CEO Arthur Weissman, Green Seal Chair Gary Petersen and co-hosts Rachelle Carson-Begley and Bill Nye, The Science Guy®, gather on the “green carpet” at a gala event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Green Seal.

Green Seal, the nation’s first independent nonprofit certifier for sustainable products and services celebrated 25 years of environmental leadership at a gala event on October 8th in Washington, D.C. The event also honored the 400 companies that have achieved product or service certification in a broad range of industries since Green Seal’s founding.

Green Seal was created to help purchasers readily and confidently identify environmentally-preferable products and services – proven through a rigorous and transparent review process. Since 1989, Green Seal has provided certification to companies in numerous industries as part of its mission to create a more sustainable world.

At the celebration in recognition of its quarter-century anniversary, Green Seal honored some of the pioneering companies who have maintained Green Seal-certified products and services for a decade or more. Honorees included Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. – for 20 years of continuous Green Seal-certified fine papers, Andersen Corporation, A.V. Olsson Trading Company, Inc., and Trane for their 15 years, and 29 other companies for their more than ten years with Green Seal certifications.

Green Seal also recognized three organizations as Outstanding Partners that have been vital in advancing the organization’s mission:

  • The Building Wellness Institute

  • The Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition

  • Healthy Schools Network

For more info:  http://www.greenseal.org