Archive | January, 2014

Zoo’s penguin exhibit built with animals and environment in mind

Helzberg-Penguins-Blog-Post-PhotoThe Kansas City Zoo buzzed with activity when it opened the new Helzberg Penguin Plaza in October. The new facility was designed with both penguins and the environment in mind. Greenability Magazine organized a tour of the facility in January, sharing information about how the zoo made sustainable decisions when building this regional amenity.

For the penguins’ comfort, the lights in the exhibit are automated to mimic the schedule of the Southern Hemisphere. To conserve energy, the lights in the employee area turn off automatically when not in use. The air and exhaust systems turn off automatically when the doors to the outside open. Additionally, 64 solar panels were installed on the roof to offset some of the energy used in the building.

To save water, the 100,000-gallon tank is filtered instead of drained. Used water is routed to holding basins that filter, sanitize and then return clean water to the exhibit. The system processes water at a rate of 945 gallons per minute, completing a full cycle in about half an hour!

The Helzberg Penguin Plaza is also a LEED-certified building. The exhibit was constructed with 20 percent recycled material, and 75 percent of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill.

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Time for a fresh (air) start

2014 in clouds
Now that we’ve rung in the New Year with all its hope and possibilities, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to make a fresh start — and help air quality. Try incorporating these air-friendly actions with your new goals:

  • Walk or bike to run errands. Reducing the number of trips you make in your car prevents harmful emissions from entering our air and saves money on fuel and maintenance. Plus, the extra exercise will help you feel better and improve your health. Take a friend, neighbor or family member along for a great conversation.
  • Save money in small ways. Easy steps include not idling your vehicle on cold mornings, adjusting your thermostat and turning down your hot water heater. Save that money for things you really want to do.
  • Eat healthy. You can plan now for your own garden in the spring or join a co-op that provides locally grown food. Don’t forget to evaluate your diet: try to eat foods that require less energy to produce and less transportation to get to your table.
  • Build your network. A simple way to meet new people is to carpool or ride transit for your commute. Travelling with a co-worker can build a stronger relationship, and riding the bus can help you find new contacts from other businesses.
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Major League Baseball scores big with recycling

Baseball fans have probably heard of the Gold Glove Award, given annually to the top fielder at each position in each league. Did you know that Major League Baseball (MLB) also gives an annual award for the top recycler in each division? The San Francisco Giants have taken the Green Glove Award for six years in a row. In 2013 the Giants kept more than 86 percent of the total waste generated at AT&T Park from going to the landfill.

The top teams in each division and league were also recognized, along with two wild card teams from each league. The teams recognized include:

American League National League
League Champion Seattle Mariners San Francisco Giants
East Division Champion Boston Red Sox Miami Marlins
Central Division Champion Minnesota Twins Pittsburgh Pirates
West Division Champion Seattle Mariners San Francisco Giants
Wild Card 1 Oakland Athletics San Diego Padres
Wild Card 2 Cleveland Indians Milwaukee Brewers

The award is based on self-reporting from each club. Major League Baseball started awarding teams in 2006 in alliance with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Even though the Kansas City Royals didn’t make the Green Glove list this year, they took significant sustainable steps during the 2012 All-Star game, as reported in NRDC’s Game Changer report. For example, the Royals partnered with Kansas City Power & Light to install 120 solar panels — the largest in-stadium solar array in any MLB facility. They reduced paper waste by creating an electronic media guide and using digital ticketing. And also in 2012, Kauffman Stadium improved the efficiency of the famous Kauffman fountains through a partnership with Grundfos, based in Olathe, Kan.

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Leave it to the leaves

What do trees do for you? Online advertising art.A recent article published by ZMEScience describes the usefulness of trees  as a solution to urban pollution. Beyond the aesthetic beauty that tree-lined streets provide, researchers are finding that trees remove air pollutants caused by car exhaust, road dust and dust particulates from the air we breathe.

Researchers at Lancaster University in England measured particulates both inside and outside of homes on an urban street with no trees. They then lined the street with silver birch trees, re-measured the particulate levels, and discovered the quantity of polluting particulates was reduced by 50 percent.

Locally, the 2013 iTree report showed that along with reducing particulate matter, trees in the Kansas City region remove about 1 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and reduce residential energy costs.

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New “LoNo” program promotes clean air, reduced energy use

bus iconOur MARC Transportation Matters bloggers wrote a great summary about the Jan. 9 announcement of the Federal Transit Administration’s new Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo).

This quote from U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx sums up why we’re excited to see this new program:

“The LoNo program will make a real difference in people’s lives by helping them get to work or school while letting them breathe clean air. We are proud to initiate a new program that reflects a commitment to reducing our nation’s dependence on oil while developing more sustainable sources of energy here at home.”

Click over to Transportation Matters for more information!

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Proud to recycle

proudtorecyclegraphicWhen the MARC Solid Waste Management District conducted a survey in 2012, we learned that 67 percent of area residents are recycling more. But how do we feel about it? The Environmental Industry Associations published survey data in November 2013 which suggests Americans are filled with pride when they fill their recycling bins.

Major findings of the online survey include:

  • An overwhelming majority of Americans feel a sense of pride when they recycle and a sense of guilt when they toss a recyclable item in the trash.
  • Americans are split on what they will do with a recyclable item if a recycling bin is not nearby. Nearly three out of five people say they will keep the item until they can recycle it, but just over half also admit they will throw an item away if they can’t find a bin.
  • Most Americans — 74 percent — will make an extra effort to recycle items outside of their homes. More than half report that they are successful in recycling at work, but fewer than one in four people are successful when traveling,  shopping or walking along city streets, or when dining out (see graphic at right).

You can find detailed survey results through the Environmental Industry Associations website, or view the complete survey methodology here (PDF).

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