March 2011 – From the Source Newsletter
Message From the Director
Update on State-Wide Water Plan
Sustainability Leader Metcam Reports record revenues
Meet the Green Chamber
Clean Air Campaign brings less traffic and cleaner air
Making Atlanta a top 10 City in Sustainability
Just Ask Chuck – What is a MRF?
Message From the Director
From the Source // March 2011
A belated Happy New Year to all! It seems like only yesterday we were putting the wraps on 2010, celebrating another year of success for the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia. Today, we find ourselves having survived January’s “snowmageddon” and the seemingly endless series of winter storm advisories that warn of the “wintry mix” that brings Atlanta traffic to a careening halt.
This New Year brings with it a new administration for Georgia. We welcome Governor Nathan Deal and all the freshman legislators to the State Capitol and look forward to their leadership in meeting the many formidable challenges we face, including the state budget crisis that continues to loom as the largest in many decades. We also welcome Commissioner Mark Williams to the helm of the Department of Natural Resources, along with several new members of the Board of Natural Resources, and look forward to their leadership in championing our work in resource conservation and environmental stewardship for all Georgia.
With this issue of our e-newsletter, we launch the Sustainability Division’s new and improved website. We hope you visit it soon and take some time to browse through it. It has a much-needed new look and feel and lots of new content.
Included in the new content is our latest biennial report. Under our statutory charter, we’re required to report regularly on the division’s operations and activities. Our Biennial Report: FY2007 – FY2010 details the progress we’ve made in focusing our goals and programs over the past few years and the results we’ve attained in helping Georgia businesses conserve resources and save money. We presented this report to the Office of Planning and Budget late last summer for their consideration during budget deliberations. We will also present it to the Sustainability Committee of the Board of Natural Resources at their February meeting.
For those who followed the demise of EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track, the federal program on which the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia was loosely modeled, we share exciting news this month – the launch of the Stewardship Action Council (SAC). Our division is an Alliance Member of this new national organization that seeks to bring together industry, academia, the investment community, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to collaborate on sustainability. SAC’s goals align closely with our Partnership’s – creating a learning network, and encouraging and recognizing improved environmental performance – and it’s tiered structure welcomes organizations at all levels and sizes. We encourage our Partners to explore participation at www.stewardshipaction.org.
That’s all for now. Thanks for all you do to advance sustainability in Georgia. If there’s anything we can do to help, please let us know.
Update on State-Wide Water Plan
From the Source // March 2011
The Georgia State-Wide Water Plan was mandated by the 2004 Comprehensive State-wide Water Management Planning Act, and was adopted by the General Assembly in 2008. The State Water Plan created ten regional water planning councils, and requires the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to provide technical assistance to these regional councils in preparing water plans.
Since 2009, the state's ten regional water planning councils have been formulating the plans for their respective regions. This process included multiple meetings of the individual regional water councils including training and guidance provided by EPD staff, information on the current and expected future state of Georgia’s water resources, and tools available for developing these plans. Initial draft regional water plans were submitted to EPD at the end of January 2011. Over the next few months, EPD will review these draft regional water plans and invite the public to comment on them. The regional water councils will incorporate the EPD and public comments into a revised draft of the document. These final drafts of the regional water plans will be submitted to the EPD by the end of June 2011.
The links below contain a summary of each individual water region’s council activities, key water issues, and further information on the water region such as water usage, council members, and an annotated map of their respective regions.
Altamaha Regional Council
Coastal Georgia Regional Council
Coosa-North Georgia Regional Council
Lower Flint Regional Council
Middle Chattahoochee Regional Council
Middle Ocmulgee Regional Council
Savannah-Upper Ogeechee Regional Council
Suwannee-Satilla Regional Council
Upper Flint Regional Council
Upper Oconee Regional Council
More comprehensive information can be found on the Georgia Comprehensive State-Wide Water Plan website.
Metcam Records Record Profits
Alpharetta Georgia // February 2011
“Record revenues for 2010…16% growth in annual sales over 2009” – these aren’t reports you hear from many businesses lately. Thanks to its outstanding leadership and commitment to quality and sustainable manufacturing, Gold Level Partner Metcam, Inc. is demonstrating that sustainability is good business.
A mid-sized manufacturing firm founded in 1989 in Alpharetta, Georgia, Metcam specializes in advanced metalworking technology for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) representing a wide variety of industries including telecommunications, electronics and HVAC. Metcam’s advanced metalworking capabilities include laser cutting, punching, forming, hardware insertion, welding (including robotics), powder painting, silkscreen and assembly.
Mission and Growth
In October 2010, Bruce Hagenau, President of Metcam, released the company’s New Mission Statement – Highest Quality Products, Delivered On-Time. A new logo was also revealed that emphasizes the importance of Metcam’s lean/green manufacturing program. In January 2011, Metcam announced record revenues for 2010, representing a 16% growth in annual sales over 2009. It would seem that the new mission is working!
“Diversifying our customer base has allowed Metcam to avoid many of the negative effects from the economic downturn that impacted so many manufacturing organizations,” stated Hagenau.
Metcam’s Sustainable Business Practices
Energy Conservation - Metcam’s 2010 electricity use was reduced by 15% (340,000 kWh) as a result of the replacement of over one hundred metal halide lamps with T8 fluorescent lights in 2009.
Solid Waste Reduction – The amount of solid waste Metcam sent to landfills in 2010 decreased by 19%. This reduction resulted primarily from paper and cardboard recycling, and from diverting damaged wooden pallets to a nearby wood mulcher.
Mentoring – Metcam mentors other companies through its involvement with the Green Manufacturer Network, an affiliate of its trade group, the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA). Metcam participates on the advisory council for the group and is helping to develop a webinar program for sustainability topics in 2011. Metcam was also invited to speak on the company’s experiences with sustainable manufacturing at the Department of Commerce’s “SMART” Companies Work Together event in February and at the Georgia Environmental Conference in August.
Metcam hopes Georgia companies will consider the following reasons for implementing sustainable practices:
• To help alleviate the effects of rising energy and natural resources costs
• Your customers may recognize and reward your environmental stewardship
• You can set your company apart from your competition
• Sustainability is now a globally-accepted best business practice.
Metcam believes that their sustainability program has contributed to their business success in the following ways:
• Minimized negative environmental impacts
• Conserved energy and natural resources
• Created a safer environment for our employees, community and consumers
• Reduced unnecessary expenses
For Metcam, quality goes hand in hand with sustainability. This commitment was recognized last year when they received the 2010 Tyco Fire & Safety’s Supplier Excellence Award. The company competed with thousands of other Tyco suppliers for the award, and was the only sheet metal fabricator recognized.
“Nominees for the award included suppliers who had provided excellent service, helped with cost For Metcam, quality goes hand in hand with sustainability. This commitment was recognized last year when they received the 2010 Tyco Fire & Safety’s Supplier Excellence Award. The company competed with thousands of other Tyco suppliers for the award, and was the only sheet metal fabricator recognized.
“Nominees for the award included suppliers who had provided excellent service, helped with cost reductions, delivered quality products and were just willing to go the extra mile,” explains Tyco's Senior Manager, Kathy Chiera.
Metcam’s total quality performance for the year shows the benefit of continuous improvement initiatives, resulting in a part rejection rate less than 4000 parts per million.reductions, delivered quality products and were just willing to go the extra mile,” explains Tyco's Senior Manager, Kathy Chiera.
Metcam’s total quality performance for the year shows the benefit of continuous improvement initiatives, resulting in a part rejection rate less than 4000 parts per million.
Metcam is a Charter member of the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, recently approved at the Gold Level of the program. For more information about Metcam, visit their website, www.metcam.com.
Meet the Green Chamber
Champion level member since 2008
Atlanta Georgia // February 2011
Ofra Tessler and Galit Levin had a vision. If chambers of commerce helped businesses in other ways, why couldn’t a green chamber help businesses on the road to sustainability? Feeling confident there were others with similar convictions in the southeast, they launched the Green Chamber of the South in 2008.
As for the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, both thought there was clear synergy from the start. "We thought then and still do, that the Partnership’s mission complements our own (and vice versa) and hope that together we will be able create a business environment where sustainability practices are the norm in Georgia," Ofra commented.
When asked about the top benefits for the Green Chamber of the South's members in relation to the chamber being a Champion level member of the Partnership, Galit’s answer was quick and straightforward . " As a chamber, we provide education, networking and leadership opportunities, but we must partner with other organizations to bring tools, free guidance and implementation assistance to our members." Hence, the Partnership is a perfect fit.
In a relationship as strong and reciprocal as the one between the Partnership and the Green Chamber, it wasn't so easy for Ofra or Galit to identify the "most rewarding part of the Green Chamber's involvement with the Partnership." Ofra, after some thought, offered that "getting closer to our common goal, working together to create a more sustainable Georgia is very rewarding." And, how could it not be, right?
Finally, we all wanted to know what the Green Chamber's ultimate dream for the work done in conjunction with the Partnership might be. The answer was to work more closely together. Both Ofra and Galit chimed in, "to hold joint events, educational seminars and work together on activities where our missions overlap. We would like to take an active role in promoting the Partnership and giving a stage to its activities."
In a world challenged to be collaborative, the Green Chamber of the South clearly sees working side-by-side with the Partnership as a way to achieve both organizations' goals.
For more information about the chamber, especially if you're a member of the Partnership, but not yet a member of the Green Chamber of the South, please visit www.greencs.org. Likewise, if you're a member of the Green Chamber but haven't made the commitment to be an active part of the Partnership for Sustainable Georgia, you have a lot of support from fellow chamber members to help you jump in. Visit www.gasustainability.org/documents/pp_home.html to learn more about what's expected and how to apply.
Clean Air Campaign
Atlanta // February 2011
The Clean Air Campaign (CAC) is a non-profit organization that works with Georgia employers, commuters and schools to encourage actions that result in less traffic congestion and better air quality. To accomplish these goals, The Clean Air Campaign and its partners assist more than 1,600 employers with designing and implementing commute options programs; offer targeted incentives and special resources to commuters and employers; and work with schools to protect children from harmful air pollution.
Each day, these efforts help keep 700 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe and eliminate 1.4 million miles of vehicle travel from the roads. With sustainability at the core of The Clean Air Campaign’s mission, the organization is committed to decreasing its own impact on the environment.
The Clean Air Campaign established a green team called “SAGE” (Sustainable Actions for a Greener Environment), which is comprised of members from every department who meet monthly to organize office sustainability efforts. Although they operate in an office environment, with guidance from SAGE, CAC has taken significant steps to make the office more environmentally friendly, from eliminating personal waste baskets to starting an in-house recycling center that collects nine different materials. They have also made efforts to bring their office building management along in the process. Other initiatives include their new environmental policy adopted by management; educational signage throughout the office; printing on recycled paper; and distributing a green tip e-newsletter. These efforts are coupled with other community-based efforts, like a Chattahoochee River clean-up, and collecting needed items each month for a featured non-profit or local cause. The Sustainability Division has also helped the Clean Air Campaign by performing a lighting audit and assisted them with developing an energy-savings program based on lighting retrofits.
To motivate staff members to take part in The Clean Air Campaign’s internal efforts to go green, SAGE held a month-long Office Olympics event. Teams came up with fun names and competed in different challenges. The winning team received a breakfast celebration at the restaurant of their choice.
Chief among The Clean Air Campaign’s accomplishments toward sustainability is the one activity Georgians have come to expect of an organization whose mission is about less traffic and cleaner air: getting 80 percent of the organization’s full-time staff to regularly clean commute to work by carpooling, riding transit, bicycling, walking or teleworking. Through these efforts, employees help keep about 7,000 pounds of pollution out of the air during a typical month.
As a Bronze Partner of the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, The Clean Air Campaign remains focused on positively impacting Georgia’s environment and helping other organizations do the same. To receive consulting services for commute options from The Clean Air Campaign at no cost, visit CleanAirCampaign.org or call 1-877-CLEANAIR.
City of Atlanta Sustainability Initiative
Atlanta Georgia // February 2011
The City of Atlanta’s Division of Sustainability has been focused on instituting sustainability practices into Atlanta city government since it’s inception in 2008. The Division of Sustainability is working with Mayor Kasim Reed and departments across city government to embed sustainable practices into all city programs and policies. They have also been early adopters of national initiatives designed to promote more sustainable municipal practices such as the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and the recently announced ICLEI STAR Beta Communities program. In partnership with Sustainable Atlanta, a non-profit that serves as a catalyst and facilitator for sustainable progress in Atlanta, the City has expanded its scope of sustainability programs to include community-wide initiatives around climate change, energy, and water conservation.
We are proud to recognize the City of Atlanta as a Partner in our Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia (PSG) since June 2004. Please click on the following link to read more about the City of Atlanta’s Sustainability Initiatives.
Just ask Chuck – What is a MRF?
From the Source // February 2011
Years ago garbage trucks collecting in densely populated cities would empty their rather small loads at a warehouse (called a Transfer Station) rather than make a long drive to a rural dump. The trash was then loaded into very large open top trucks destined for the dump. One day a smart observer noticed that a lot of the “garbage” could be sold (e.g., aluminum cans) if it was picked out of the trash.
Thus was born the first MRF—a Materials Recovery Facility—where “pickers” stood along side a wide conveyor belt covered with garbage and removed old newspapers, corrugated cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, and glass. Stuff left on the conveyor belt went to the dump. These were “dirty MRFs.”
About 30-35 years ago some cities began collecting commingled recyclables at the curbside separately from the garbage. The trucks (sans garbage) were emptied at a facility where pickers hand-sorted them from fast-moving conveyor belts. These became known as “clean MRFs,” or Materials Recycling Facilities. However, working conditions were often unpleasant—hot, stinky, repetitive, boring—and the pay was lousy. Enter the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which set requirements for the pickers’ environment that substantially increased overhead costs for owners of the clean MRFs. At the same time the companies buying the materials required that they not be contaminated with “out-throws”—no tin cans in the bales of corrugated cardboard, no glass in the baled newsprint, no polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bottles in with the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
As the volume of incoming materials has increased, some hand sorting has been replaced by increasingly sophisticated material handling equipment. Cross-belt magnets remove ferrous items, disc screens separate newspaper and corrugated, rotating trommel screens let small contaminants fall out. Today, automated optical sorting of plastics utilizes near-infrared spectrometers that sort by different types of polymers as well as color. However, many people are still needed to remove large contaminants from the material streams.
Watch the Athens-Clark County, GA MRF in operation in this 4-1/2 minute video narrated by Suki Jannsen.
What are your materials recovery questions? Email me at email@example.com, and your question may become my next Just Ask Chuck column!
Sustainable Office Toolkit
Request Technical Assistance
Learn more about the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia