Archive | April, 2014

Solar Video Series for Local Governments

Since December 2011, MARC has received two Rooftop Solar Challenge awards from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) SunShot Initiative. The goal of the Rooftop Solar Challenge is to make solar power more affordable and widespread by reducing soft costs such as permitting, zoning and regulatory barriers. During the first award cycle, MARC worked with local governments within the Kansas City region. Now, in the second grant cycle, MARC is leading a team of 10 regional planning councils to spread our solar best management practices to more jurisdictions, both in the Kansas City region and across the country.

Our team’s consultant, Meister Consultants Group (MCG), recently put out a series of video lessons as part of the Solar Outreach Partnership, also part of the SunShot Initiative. These 10–15 minute videos explain basic solar concepts and barriers to solar deployment, and provide local governments with strategies and resources to help overcome those barriers. Specific topics covered include local solar ordinances, solar financing options and installing solar on municipal facilities.

This video series is based on a report by the DOE, “Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments,” which is available, along with other resources, at solaroutreach.org.

 

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Celebrate National Air Quality Awareness Week!

You already know that the AirQ program gets excited about our region’s air quality, but we aren’t the only ones! This year, National Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) is April 28 to May 2, and there are several ways you can participate.

  • Join us for story time. During AQAW, branches of the Mid-Continent Public Library will read our new children’s book, “Wingin’ it: Quinton’s Clean Air-Venture” during story times (contact your branch for specific dates and times). You can also request a copy for your organization’s lobby or waiting area, or read it online at our new air quality education website, AirQKC.org.

  • Send Quinton a question. Quinton has learned to tweet, and is taking over our Twitter feed during AQAW! Send him a question or let him know how you help our air using #AirQKC. Be sure to follow all week for AirQ tips from our winged friend.
  • Take action every day. Check out our list of every-day actions to take care of our air. With more than 50 ideas, we hope everyone can find a way to help our air be cleaner tomorrow!
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Trees are worth celebrating!

iTreeWhatDoTreesDoThis year, the national celebration of Arbor Day is today, April 25 and we think that’s a great reason to tout the benefits of trees. In fact, MARC has an entire webpage dedicated to just that! (Kansas also celebrates today, and Missouri celebrated Arbor Day on April 4.)

The benefits of trees span several aspects of helping our environment, including improving air quality and stormwater management, conserving energy, and removing and storing carbon. An increase in tree cover by just 10 percent would remove 1 million additional tons of air pollution per year.

What do trees do for you? Leave a comment, or connect with us on social media to let us know!

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The birth of an icon

chasingarrowsMost people wouldn’t consider 44 to be a milestone number for celebrations, but we think a shout-out is appropriate to recognize the creation of the symbol that today is associated with everything pertaining to recycling, recyclable and recycled products.

In celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970, the Container Corporation of America sponsored a design contest. Art and design students at colleges and high schools throughout the United States were asked to design a symbol that represented the recycling of paper. The design was to appear on the company’s recycled paperboard products.

The contest winner was Gary Anderson, then a senior at the University of Southern California. Anderson’s concept for the symbol was inspired by a mathematician’s discovery that a strip of paper twisted once and joined at the ends formed a continuous single-edged, one-sided surface: a Möbius strip. The recycling symbol is comprised of three “chasing arrows” that join in a continuous loop, just like the Möbius strip. The three arrows also have significance, each representing a step in the recycling process: collection, manufacturing and purchasing.

The recycling symbol has remained unchanged since 1970, though you find variations to indicate whether an item is recyclable or is made from recycled content.  Its simplicity and concise message have made it a widely recognizable icon.

If you see a recycling symbol and would like more information about what it means, give us a call at 816-474-TEAM. If you want to find out if an item bearing the chasing arrows symbol can be recycled locally, visit RecycleSpot.org.

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Donation is always in fashion

Clothing-SwapYou’re faced with the same dilemma every spring and fall: what to do with extra clothes, clothes that don’t fit, or clothes that are too damaged to wear. So many people in the world need clothing — and so many landfills don’t — so why not donate your unwanted clothes?

Options for donation

Donating clothes has never been easier. There are thrift stores and clothing donation bins throughout the community, and friends and relatives who might appreciate the hand-me-downs. Charities will often accept your gently worn clothing, too. If you’re donating to a charity, always contact the organization first to find out donation requirements. You may even qualify for a tax deduction.

Wardrobe malfunction?

What about clothes that are ripped, stained or faded? Go ahead and donate them, too! Major thrift operations contract with textile reclamation companies that accept damaged clothing and clothing that won’t sell in stores.

Wearable clothing is sold in different countries throughout the world where it’s in demand. Unwearable clothing can take a couple of different routes. Cotton and other biodegradable materials are often recycled into wiping cloths. They can also be shredded into “shoddy” fibers, blended with other selected fibers, and turned into recycled yarn. Synthetic materials such as polyester are turned into new filament fiber used to make new polyester fabrics.

Clothing Swap

Participate in a clothing swap to exchange your closet clean-outs for clothing you will wear. You can join an existing group, such as Kansas City Pop-Up Clothing Swap, or set up one of your own among friends (see list above).

For more information on donating clothing, visit RecycleSpot.org.

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Celebrate Earth Day in Kansas City

Earth-Love

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22, but several events in the Kansas City region are scheduled between now and June. From puppet shows to river clean-ups, we hope you can find a way to show some love for our environment this year.

Visit MARC’s Earth Day website for more information.

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Ozone season is underway!

air_quality_indexWe had a long, persistent winter, but the days are finally getting longer and temperatures are starting to rise. However, warmer temperatures bring the chance for more ozone pollution. That’s why the period from April 1 to Oct. 31 is known as “ozone season.”

Ozone pollution, also known as smog, is formed when emissions from man-made sources react in heat and sunlight. Ozone is harmful for everyone; it can cause coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. But for children or people with breathing or heart problems, it can be dangerous.

So how do you know when ozone pollution may be a problem?

Check the SkyCast! The SkyCast is the daily, regional air quality forecast issued by the MARC Air Quality Program. You’ll see “Ozone Alerts” when our air is forecast to be poor. There are many ways you can get updates:

The most important thing to remember about ozone pollution is that you can help reduce it. Throughout ozone season we’ll post tips for helping our air, so be sure to check back for information on the small steps you can take to reduce pollution.

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How Much Does a Typical American Family Throw Out in a Week?

Glad-Waste-In-Focus-FamilyDo you know how much of your weekly household waste could be diverted from the landfill? The Glad Products Company recently took a closer look at eight diverse U.S. families as part of a public service campaign on household waste awareness, and the visual is rather eye-opening.

In a photographic study titled “Waste in Focus,” photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio interviewed each of the families and sorted one week’s worth of household trash and recycling. The photos feature each family surrounded by items destined for the landfill or the recycling or compost bin.

The families, each with four members, live in Atlanta, New York City, Phoenix and San Francisco and are of different backgrounds and ethnicities. While this was not an exercise to compare the families to one another, there are a few interesting takeaways from the project:

  • The average amount of waste generated was 36.3 pounds for the week. Of that, 55 percent was destined for the landfill and 45 percent was a combination of recyclables and compostables.
  • The New York City families generated less waste; averaging 25 pounds for the week.
  • The San Francisco families averaged a 91 percent recycling rate. This is not surprising since San Francisco residents are required to separate their food waste for compost pickup rather than put it into trash destined for landfill.

Find out more about the project, view the photos and read each family’s story by visiting WasteinFocus. The site, in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, also includes a quiz and tips that can help you and your family reduce waste at home.

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The 2013 MARC Annual Review is available online

2013AnnualRev_cvrMARC is pleased to announce that its 2013 Annual Review is now available online. The report summarizes a broad range of activities that MARC and its many committees and partners have worked on over the past year.

As a metropolitan planning organization, MARC helps the region anticipate and adapt to change as we work on a broad agenda that includes healthy people and families, efficient transportation systems, more effective local governments, a strong and competitive regional economy, safe and prepared communities, and a healthy environment.

In 2013, we celebrated the completion of several multi-year projects funded by grants from the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development. Working with partners across the metro, we’ve made investments that bring us closer to our vision of a region that is more vibrant, connected and green. The 2013 Annual Review highlights the connections that strengthen our region.

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KCMO installs solar panels on city buildings and in the City Market

KCMO-solar-array-City-Market-webThe city of Kansas City, Mo., is partnering with KCP&L and Brightergy, a local solar energy company, to install solar panels at 45 city locations. In total, 61 25-kilowatt (kW) systems will be installed, for a total of 1.5 megawatts of solar power. Police, fire department and community center buildings are among those getting the solar panels.

The City Market received four solar panels on the south-facing roof peak of the Arabia Steamboat Museum building (see photo).

The systems were designed by Solar Design Studio for KCP&L and will be leased to the city. Panel installation by Mark One Electric was completed in March, and the system will be fully operational by late spring. All of the installations are slated to be completed by the end of June.

In addition to the solar energy that will soon partially power the City Market’s east bank of buildings, the market has taken other measures to reduce its environmental impact. For instance, the market has a compost and recycling program that annually diverts almost 400 tons of food waste, cardboard and other materials from area landfills.

Read more

 

 

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