MINNESOTA'S ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING CENTERS
A public-private partnership is expanding four residential environmental learning centers (RELCs) that educate Minnesota school children about the environment. Kids visit the RELCs - each located in a different ecosystem ranging from prairie to north woods - for overnight or week-long stays. The RELCs are expanding with a $7.5 million challenge grant from the Blandin Foundation. The Minnesota legislature matched the grant, but both grants are contingent on Project EarthSense raising $10 million in private donations. The centers are part of the state's effort to develop an ecologically literate citizenry, a mandate of its 1990 Environmental Education Act. RELC designer Paul Anderson of Sirny Architects hopes that kids learn how the design of the RELCs reduces their impact on the environment. Orientation sessions and exhibits will explain what happens when kids flush toilets or switch on lights. - Architecture Minnesota, July/August 1995, by Adelheid Fischer, p. 34.
SKYSCRAPING WIND GENERATOR
Rural high ground is the usual home of windmills, but now a pioneering effort will take advantage of skyscraper height to reduce energy consumption. Engineers Battle McCarthy are retrofitting Brussels' Martini Tower with a rooftop wind generator. A bell tower-like structure will house a horizontally rotating turbine rather than the familiar propeller blades of wind farms. The new generator and changes to the 1960s-vintage building skin will reduce energy consumption to less than 50% of present use. The turbine will meet 20% of the building's energy requirements. - World Architecture, No. 36, p. 60.
STATES USE GREEN TAXES
A survey of state environmental tax provisions found that states have enacted more than 250 green tax measures. The Center for Global Change at the University of Maryland, College Park, conducted the survey. It identified widely used favorites - hazardous waste taxes and tax benefits to ease purchase of pollution-control equipment, for example - and innovative experiments such as Maine and Wisconsin measures to encourage sustainable forest management on private lands. States are using these provisions not only to boost economies, but also to make polluters pay for cleanup, promote new clean technologies, encourage businesses to go beyond minimum environmental requirements, or channel economic development toward sustainability. - The Amicus Journal, Summer 1995, p. 14, by J. Andrew Hoerner.
EARTH SMART COMMERCIAL
Portland (Oregon) General Electric's Earth Smart rebate program now includes commercial buildings, new or retrofitted. Buildings that qualify for PGE rebates will average 20 percent more energy efficiency than code requirements. Earth Smart Commercial focuses on lighting, adjustable speed drives on HVAC equipment, better-than-code building envelopes, chillers, and office equipment. But the utility company's program promotes more than just energy efficiency. The rebates also encourage participants to specify green building materials, use mass transit and bicycles, conserve water, and recycle or reuse construction debris. - Daily Journal of Commerce, July1995, p. 52.
Milliken Carpet's Earthwise Ennovations process cleans, textures, and restyles previously used modular carpeting for reuse. Carpeting "uglies out" long before significant signs of wear appear, and reusing it is more efficient than recycling. Earthwise Ennovations gives old carpet new colors, new patterns, and a new warranty at about half the cost of replacement floor covering. - Architectural Record, July 1995, p. 36.
MORE EPA RECYCLED CONTENT GUIDELINES
On May 1 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule adding 19more materials to its Comprehensive Guideline for Procurement of Products Containing Recovered Materials. The Guideline gives recycled content requirements for various materials purchased by the government or for projects receiving federal funding. A list of manufacturers and vendors who meet the guidelines is available by calling the RCRA Hotline (800.424.9346). - Environmental Building News, July/August 1995, p. 4.
GREEN PARADE OF HOMES
The 1995 Pambi Farm Estates Parade of Homes in Stow, Ohio is not just another house tour. This one includes homes with an array of environmentally sound features. Akron's Troike-Moore Construction Corporation has received honors at the last two Parades for building environmentally sound homes, reducing waste, and recycling. Troike-Moore and eight other builders at the 1995 Parade recycled scrap lumber to yield 24 tons of mulch. - Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, July 17, 1995, p. D1, by Bob Downing.
IAQ TESTING FOR CARPET
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) in Dalton, Georgia has an indoor-air-quality testing program for products made by member mills. The tests use environmental chamber technology developed by the EPA. CRI established benchmark measurements for four types of known irritants and certifies emission levels based on random batch testing four times a year. Carpets that pass the tests are labeled. - Architectural Record, July 1995, p. 37, Joan F. Blatterman.