Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Breaking News from Environment Virginia Conference...

Day Two of Environment Virginia Symposium

Hello all!
Betty here is a bit exhausted from a full day of talks and presentations, so this download will be brief...

I'm excited to say that this years' attendance (my first) broke a record of 800 attendees from industry, non-profit, higher ed, and government entities joining together to look at the most pressing environmental issues in Virginia!

The last talk given by George Washington University Professor Scott Sklar was most inspirational and encouraging to me (I have 3 pages crammed full of notes). He laid out a renewable energy future that is overwhelmingly "doable" and he has 24 peer-reviewed studies to back it up! Good to hear that with renewables and energy efficiency we don't need to pursue a nuclear future (Japan and Germany aren't). He had COPIOUS examples of success stories and passed around some cool PV products like a legal size PV panel - think a large bronze shiney sticker - that you can adhere to windows or awnings to generate solar power. He said soon there will be solar generating paint!

He talked a lot about the COST-EFFECTIVENESS of using efficiency technology and sustainability measures. YES! That's what Betty and LEAP have been telling businesses through the Better Business Challenge.

I'll go ahead and start with the end of today's conference then... I just returned from the Governer's Environmental Excellence Awards Ceremony and Banquet. Drum roll please... The GOLD Medal Winners are:

Defense Supply Center in Richmond
Hopewell Generation Facility
Radford University
Volvo Trucks North America, NRV Plant in Dublin

These businesses have been doing things like installing plant-based filtration systems, 40% increase in recycling, installation of a magnetic bearing chiller that saved Radford $20,000 in the first 2 and half months of operation and Volvo's low to no cost initiatives that saved them $33,000 per month (turning of the loading dock lights at night and resetting temps by five degrees!).

There were Silver and Bronze and Honorable Mentions to boot, which I will link and or announce sometime when I haven't been in talks for 12 hours!

Towards Top Highlights and Takeaways for you from Betty's Perspective:

1- City of Dallas' Laura Fiffick share their amazing Sustainabilty Success story... biggest lesson they shared was the importance of TALKING TO EVERYONE when implementing sustainability. From "Top to Shop"!

I really enjoyed Laura Greenleaf's presentation about the ill effects on both humans, animals, and night-sky lovers of light pollution. I'm ready to start a Lights Out Campaign in Charlottesville! Who's in?!

A map of night lighting in the United States looked like some sort of map of fireworks. Did you know that we spend 2 billion a year in America on lighting NOTHING which amounts to 15 million tons of Co2 emissions.

Now I know you are saying right now that there is a security and safety issue here. Well studies are inconclusive on this. Check into "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design"

And Betty's never been about an all or nothing, divisive approach, but about SMART choices. Wasted lighting is simply bad lighting. Technology now allows for focused light and providing light exactly where you need it. Not to mention motion sensing light.

AND get this: the American Medical Association in 2009 found Light Pollution is a public health issue due to increased tumor production and suppressed melatonin production and depression, not to mention the numerous effects on animals and habitat. Did you know that trees that are exposed to too much light (under street lamps for example) can have delayed dormancy and therefore subject to cold injury when winter arrives and they aren't ready for it?

3- I finally heard Rose Brown's talk on how she went a whole year and produced virtually NO garbage and she's still doing it! So inspiring.

4-I heard from a variety of effective local programs that help keep pollutants out of our water and secure this most precious resource. I learned about some cool models/programs like the River Star program going on throughout Virginia that I hope to possibly duplicate Betty-style here in Charlottesville!

All in all a fabulous day of learning and dialogue and idea-generating.

Off to the GREEN land of nod,

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