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Land, Waste and Emergency Management Innovations

Year 2002 Innovations Pilots

OSWER Innovation Projects
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Pilot Years

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2007 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

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Assisting Small Businesses in Voluntary Pollution Prevention Efforts: Facility Decontamination in the Wood Preserving Industry
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 360K)

Sponsors: EPA Region 7, EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery - Fiscal Year: 2002

Overview: U.S. EPA Region 7 developed an equipment-cleaning methodology for wood-preserving facilities to assist in the conversion from PCP and CCA to less toxic chemicals. Standard operating procedures were prepared for performing a simple, cost-effective cleaning of the wood-treatment facility's process equipment. By facilitating the conversion to other preservatives, the project enabled facilities to eliminate disposal of hazardous wastes at an RCRA permitted facility since the wastes generated following conversion were non hazardous. This project provided the wood-treatment industry with innovative methods to clean their facilities properly, at minimal expense.

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Biomass Energy Conversion Study
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 280K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 7 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: Biomass Energy Conversion (BECON) Facility, Iowa Energy Center, Iowa State University

Overview: The Iowa Energy Center's Biomass Energy Conversion (BECON) Facility, in partnership with U.S. EPA Region 7, investigated the feasibility of establishing new, bio-based plastic-manufacturing processes. BECON represents a multi-million dollar investment by the Iowa Energy Center to produce value-added products from farm crops and wastes and transferring that knowledge to industry. The project obtained the expertise necessary to delineate processes, develop cost estimates for equipment, define operational-control strategies, and estimate operating costs for project-scale equipment. Most plastics are produced by petroleum. These processes produce significant quantities of toxic or hazardous byproducts. To the extent that these plastics can be displaced by products made from cleaner, biological sources, the wastes associated with current plastic production can be minimized. Additionally, municipal solid-waste streams contain significant amounts of paper, food wastes, scrap wood, yard wastes, etc. (biological materials). These waste streams are potential feedstocks for creating plastics. By diverting biological wastes from the municipal solid-waste stream, these materials become valuable products with productive reuse.

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Building Deconstruction and Reuse
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 217K)

Sponsors: EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, EPA Region 4 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: University of Florida Center for Construction and Environment; Gainesville Regional Utilities; City of Gainesville, Florida

Overview: The University of Florida Center for Construction and Environment in partnership with the EPA Office of Solid Waste, EPA Region 4, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), the City of Gainesville, and other partners conducted an innovative research, demonstration, and education project, deconstructing a typical wood-framed house in Gainesville, Florida, and designing and reconstructing its constituent materials into new neighborhood-building projects. EPA estimated that 136 million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) waste is generated in this country per year, of which 92% is from renovation and demolition. The proposed project is particularly unique in its simultaneous focus on the front and back ends of the building process. Deconstruction and design for reuse are innovative principles in need of broader demonstration so that they may be adopted by mainstream America. Partnering with a community and a municipal utility, such as GRU, increases incentives and opportunities to spread the message of the energy value of reuse to its customers. The project expected to recover 60% of the house's materials, resulting in the elimination of 27 tons of C&D waste that otherwise would have gone to a landfill.

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Developing a Policy to Facilitate the Use of Drum Top Crushing Devices for Fluorescent Lamps
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 217K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 3 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: Drum Top Crushing (DTC) device manufacturers; Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers; the States of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia

Overview: U.S. EPA Region 3, in partnership with the States in Region 3, drum top crushing (DTC) device manufacturers, and the Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers, collected data on mercury and other emissions from the use of DTC devices to develop a national policy on the use of DTC devices. The use of DTC devices for managing fluorescent lamps has been subject to inconsistent regulatory determinations, in part because there isn't a clear national strategy for controlling emissions from these devices. A clear policy directed at protecting human health and the environment should help reduce mercury emissions. The educational component of this project helped minimize human-health effects from exposure to mercury due to improper handling and disposal of fluorescent lamps.

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eCommerce Packaging and Shipping Design
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 631K)

Sponsor: EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partner: McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC

Overview: The Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC worked with various partners to eliminate waste in eCommerce product packaging. The growth of eCommerce has provided many societal benefits, however, the eCommerce revolution also has contributed to an increase in paper and plastic packaging materials in municipal solid-waste systems each year. The project consisted of two phases: 1) development of a progressive design framework for eCommerce packaging; and 2) execution of a Design Challenge (PDF) (1 pg, 27K) to solicit innovative designs that met the framework outlined in phase one. The project sought to transform the current packaging system and was accomplished through the combined expertise, ingenuity, and commitment of all actors involved in the package-delivery system. By establishing a new design framework for shipping packages, the project led to reductions in waste and greenhouse gas. It developed areas of collaboration between industry, the federal government, and advocacy organizations.

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Effectiveness of Cell Phone Reuse, Refurbishment, and Recycling Programs
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 281K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 2 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partner: INFORM Inc.

Overview: INFORM Inc., in partnership with EPA Region 2, examined the effectiveness of selected cell phone donation and take-back programs and determined how their value was recaptured and how collected phones were ultimately managed at the end of life. Using these data, the project assessed the environmental benefits of these programs. The research led to increasing both the quantity and effectiveness of successful donation and take-back programs as a means of diverting cell phones from landfills and incinerators and possibly encouraging environmentally preferable product redesign. The project was designed to be a first step towards forging the link between product design and end-of-life management.

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Entering Institutional Controls into One-Call Systems
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 434K)

Sponsor: EPA Office of Emergency and Remedial Response - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: EPA Region 5, EPA Region 3, State of Wisconsin, State of Pennsylvania

Overview: The Office of Emergency and Remedial Response—in partnership with EPA Region 3, EPA Region 5, the State of Wisconsin, and the State of Pennsylvania—tested the viability of including sites with institutional controls into state one-call systems. The project conducted focused research on the entry of institutionally controlled sites into one-call systems, tested one-call systems variations, and explored various methods of receiving, managing, and responding to location requests in the state one-call systems of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The project developed information that helped to prevent excavation, grading, well drilling, and other future site activities from contacting contaminated soil, groundwater, or cleanup-related components, thereby reducing risks to the health and safety of site excavators, the public, and government personnel. The project also assisted revitalization efforts by making information needed for property transactions more readily available.

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Innovative Multi-Media Environmental Curriculum Project
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 628K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 6 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: Oklahoma City, University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Corporate Commission, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Oklahoma City

Overview: The University of Oklahoma at Norman, in partnership with EPA Region 6, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and other state agencies and organizations, developed a laboratory program/curriculum for comprehensively identifying, assessing, and remediating multiple brownfields sites in the Oklahoma City empowerment zone, instead of through a typical site-by-site approach. The project provided the structure for integrating the regulatory responsibilities of various programs to address the specialized needs of this section of Oklahoma City. By coming together to oversee the creation of this curriculum, all of these programs were committed to coordinating data and requirements. It created a model for similar coalitions of governmental, academic, community, and private-sector representatives to join in the resolution of environmental problems plaguing old industrial areas everywhere.

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Integrated Tribal Environmental Management Center
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 6MB)

Sponsor: EPA Region 7 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partner: Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation

Overview: The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, in partnership with EPA Region 7, expedited the development of an Integrated Tribal Environmental Management Center. The Center brings together many different environmental-management disciplines, with an emphasis on waste minimization, recycling, energy recovery, and water quality. It established a comprehensive program that includes education, materials management, economic/business-opportunity development, and land stewardship. The project demonstrated the feasibility of melding solid-waste management, recycling, water-quality protection, and entrepreneurship on a Native American Reservation. It created a model for environmental management that is directly transferable to other rural, agricultural, and tribal populations.

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Project Highlights
  • Piloted the green transit approach, which led to the development of national transit sustainability standards
  • Adopted sustainability practices in BART’s facility planning, construction and operations
  • Piloted parking garage energy lighting power reduction system to cut energy use by 25 percent (955,190 kWh/yr)
  • Created 530 bicycle parking spaces
  • Diverted approximately 6,450 tons of waste from landfills and avoided $645,000 in disposal costs
  • Saved 876,000 gallons of potable water by recycling at BART vehicle washing facilities

Sustainable Transit Leadership
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 280K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 9 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partner: Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Challenge: Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is one of the largest light rail transit agencies in the United States, consisting of 104 miles of track and owns and operates 43 stations and a variety of other facilities (e.g., parking garages, maintenance facilities). Each year, BART spends roughly $1 billion on new construction, renovations and maintenance, which could be reduced with the implementation of sustainability practices. Green highway and building initiatives were well underway in California, but little had been done toward sustainable transit beyond establishing standard recycling programs when this project started in 2002.

Opportunity: To expand the scope of sustainable transit, green practices needed to be identified and implemented by transit authorities on a local and national scale. To further promote green transit practices, sustainable design guidelines also needed to be developed. Creating and promoting green building and greenhouse gas reduction plans for transit stations and facilities can help reduce waste, conserve energy, reduce criteria pollutants, develop public recycling areas, incorporate recycled-content building materials, and expand public transit ridership.

Approach: An initial review of current BART Facilities Standards documents led to the development of BART’s Sustainable Design Guidelines based on a wide range of existing measures, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System and U.S. General Services Administration Green Building Guidelines. The pilot developed, implemented and documented short and long-term sustainable transit design, procurement, and construction practices through six specific objectives. Additionally, BART and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) worked together to develop sustainability guidelines that are broadly applicable across the transit sector and organized a National Working Group for Sustainability in Transit.

Project Updates: The Sustainable Transit Practices Compendium and Transit Sustainability Guidelines are already being used by numerous transit agencies. In March 2011, a new Sustainable Transit Standard was recently approved by APTA and online case studies are being added. Project partners have developed detailed guidance and transit-specific case studies and presented collective results through APTA, EPA, and leading sustainability conferences and webinars. BART is also documenting three transit sustainability case studies at major station renovation sites. EPA Region 9’s sustainability work has expanded to include high speed rail and is currently partnering with the Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the California High-Speed Rail Authority to ensure the 800-mile California high-speed rail system project incorporates sustainable practices.

Additional Information:

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Testing the Viability of Converting Wood Pallet Waste-to-Flooring
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 629K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 4 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention, North Carolina State University (NCSU), U.S. Forest Service, Land-of-Sky Regional Council

Overview: The North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention, North Carolina State University (NCSU), U.S. Forest Service, Land-of-Sky Regional Council, and EPA Region 4 tested the feasibility of converting wood pallets at the end of their useful life into value-added flooring products. Pallet manufacturing uses the largest amount of hardwoods of any industry in the country. The cost of disposing a standard pallet is between $.50 and $1.25, plus transportation and handling. However, when the pallet is recycled, it can be turned into finished material with a value of $4-5 per square foot. The funds supported the actual start-up of the new pallet flooring product line by providing technical expertise, developing partnerships with retail building suppliers, and monitoring the supply chain and customer feedback. The funds also were used for public education and information dissemination via case studies, Web publishing, and professional journal articles to assist in project replication in other regions. Benefits included conserving valuable public landfill capacity, reducing methane gas releases from pallet-wood decomposition in the landfill, and reducing demand for hardwoods from regional forests and thus achieving more carbon-dioxide sequestration.

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University Food Waste Composting
Summary and Results (PDF) (2 pp, 624K)

Sponsor: EPA Region 8 - Fiscal Year: 2002

Partners: The University of Colorado at Boulder, City of Boulder Office of Environmental Affairs

Overview: The University of Colorado, in partnership with the City of Boulder's Office of Environmental Affairs, and the U.S. EPA, addressed the waste-diversion challenge faced by university housing and other food generators by determining the cost-effectiveness and practicality of on-site, in-vessel composting technology. The total annual food waste from the University of Colorado Department of Housing's eight commercial kitchens is approximately 650 tons, which represent about 32% of Housing's total waste stream. The project tested a composting technology that reclaimed nutrients that would have been cast away as trash. The City of Boulder was interested in testing the in-vessel composting technology as a potential component to its planned municipal composting operation. The project had great potential to lead to a large-scale municipal food-collection program that could set a precedent for other urban food-waste-diversion programs

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