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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ei Leadership Recognized for Contributions to Atlanta's Economy & Environment

Michael Halicki & Tim Trefzer at
the LAI Fall Meeting
At the October 4 Metro Atlanta Chamber 2017 E3 Awards, Ei Strategic Ally Park Pride and Sustainable Facilities Initiative Chair Tim Trefzer were recognized for their exceptional contributions to Atlanta's economy and the environment. 

According to the Chamber website:
The Atlanta E3 Awards recognizes companies, organizations, and individuals working to conserve metro Atlanta’s natural resources, develop clean technologies to enhance our economy and environment, support sustainable projects and initiatives, and collaborate on solutions through university connections, marketing, and education.
Elemental Impact (Ei) applauds Park Pride and Tim on their impressive recognition with their respective E3 Awards.

Trident Award
Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Sustainability Director Tim Trefzer was the E3 2017 Trident Award recipient. An award designated for an individual, versus an organization, the Trident Award recognizes visionary leaders advancing sustainability in Atlanta.

With his stellar sustainability track record, Tim is more than worthy of the prestigious award. Under Tim's leadership, the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) - the fourth largest conference center in the nation - earned Silver LEED Silver certification in 2014; the GWCC is the world's largest LEED-certified conference center!

As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta set a high standard for sporting event sustainability practices. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." Tim took the helm for achieving the lofty goal.

Tim accepting the E3 Trident Award
photo courtesy of the E3 Awards
SUCCESS: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in impressive green footprints before, during and after the games. The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, gives an overview of event sustainability stats; the May 2013 Final Four Sustainability Report is the official in-depth report.


Post-event, Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four Sustainability RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

For the past two years, Tim consulted with the College Football Playoff and the Super Bowl leadership on establishing sustainability standards at their prestigious sporting events. In addition, Tim is the sustainability liaison for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and the 2019 Super Bowl host committees. The events are hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, located on the GWCCA campus.

Tim & Jack at a Super Bowl Event
Validating Tim's significant contributions to sporting event sustainability, National Football League Director of Environmental Programs Jack Groh honored Tim, along with two other icons, in his 2017 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Leadership Award acceptance speech:
"There are too many people to thank everyone by name but I need to mention a few. I have been blessed to work with the “three musketeers” of sports sustainability for several years. David Crawford of the Vancouver Olympics, Nate Gassmann of PepsiCo, and Tim Trefzer of the World Congress Center in Atlanta. Three of the smartest and hardest working people in the sports sustainability movement.
My original partner, Ed Augustine, along with Scott Jenkins, David Crawford, and I represent the “old guard.” There are new folks like Erik Distler, Nate Gassmann, and Tim Trefzer who form a new generation of leaders to carry on the work and build the future of this movement."

In August 2017 Tim joined the Elemental Impact Leadership Team as the new Sustainable Facilities Chair (SFI). The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team!, includes an overview of Tim's professional achievements, along with accolades from the outgoing Co-Chairs; the Ei SFI - GWCCA page lists impressive sustainability accomplishments at the GWCCA campus under Tim's direction.

Community Strong Award
Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki accepted the E3 Community Strong award on behalf of the Proctor Creek North Avenue Study (PNA Study) The Community Strong Award recognizes a nonprofit or university program that promotes collaboration and community involvement in making metro Atlanta more sustainable.

Micahel accepting the E3
Community Strong Award
photo courtesy of the E3 Awards
Completed in 2010, the PNA Study is a forward-thinking visionary plan for Atlanta’s Westside that addresses a lack of greenspace and the need for stormwater solutions, both long-time challenges for the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods. The vision is a series of interconnected parks that address stormwater management and the value of neighborhood public parks.

In his acceptance talk, Michael emphasized the tremendous teamwork culminating in the plan's ongoing success with current accomplishments and future park development.

The PNA Study is unique in three distinctive areas:
  1. Community-driven, the PNA Study is multi-faceted; local challenges beyond park development including community revitalization, job creation, stormwater management, and public health are addressed.
  2. Local technical experts were generous with their contributions. Eberly & Associates provided hydrology expertise and Perkins + Will produced many of the maps included in the plan.
  3. A long-term endeavor, the PNA Study has a persistent impact over time. The projects completed in 2010 continue to provide community benefit while future projects build upon the collective impact.
The IMPACT Blog article, The Power of Parks, chronicles the history of parks, the intrinsic value parks bring to the community & the environment, and the Trust for Public Land's ParkScore ranking system. In addition, the article gives an overview of Park Pride's empowering contributions to Atlanta and Dekalb County parks and the communities as a whole.

Beyond their respective 2017 E3 Awards, Tim and Michael were nominated for membership in Lambda Alpha International, a prominent land economics honorary with local and global impact. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

Tim and Michael join Ei Founder Holly Elmore and Ei Advisory Council Member Wayne King, Sr. with ERTHProducts as active LAI Atlanta Chapter members.

Congratulations to Tim Trefzer and Park Pride | Michael Halicki on the Metro Atlanta Chamber's recognition of your valuable contributions to Atlanta's environment and economy. Ei is honored to partner with you all on many of your important projects.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Power of Parks

Beginning in Britain around 1760 and ending between 1820 and 1840, the first Industrial Revolution was responsible for global shifts in population class structure, lifestyle, and urbanization. Factories located within cities required a strong workforce and rural residents responded with urban relocation. Public parks emerged as a way to enhance urban life with recreational outlets and natural beauty.

Victoria Park, London
photo courtesy of LondonTown.com
London's Victoria Park ignited the movement of communities investing in public parks. Feeling disconnected from nature, over 30,000 London residents petitioned Queen Victoria in 1840 to create a public park open to the entire population, regardless of class. Victoria Park was also known as the "People's Park" due to the number of political meetings hosted at the park,

In 1859 Central Park in New York City, co-designed by renowned landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, opened as America's first purpose-built park. Olmsted used the term "landscape architect" in the Central Park submission; it was the first time the now prominent profession was mentioned.

Parks are recognized as the lifeblood of a city's sense of community. Beyond their original recreational purposes, urban public parks are a valuable metropolitan asset and a strong indicator of a city's vitality.

The Value of Parks
Parks play a dynamic, valuable role in a city's infrastructure. Per the City Parks Alliance, leveraging the power of parks, urban public parks provide tremendous value to a city:

Restored wetlands @ Toronto's
Corktown Commons
photo courtesy LAI Toronto LEW
  • Economic value - Parks support public health, the economy, the environment, education, and community cohesion. Parks are critical to workforce development, particularly green career tracks. Parks make our cities sustainable, livable, and vibrant. In addition, parks produce measurable health, environmental, and community savings.
  • Public health value -  Parks help lower stress, improve physical and emotional health, reduce hyperactivity, and build stronger immune systems. With abundant foliage, public parks "clean" the air through the photosynthesis process within trees and other plants.
  • Environmental value - Parks with natural landscapes are vital to preserving regional ecosystems amid growing cities. By absorbing carbon dioxide and pollutants fueling climate change, parks and green infrastructure offset the warming effects on cities, making them cooler. Strategically planned urban green spaces transport and store stormwater runoff within the park or safely into waterways. Otherwise, the runoff could overpower sewer systems causing costly flood damage and environmental pollution.
  • Community value - Parks control urban sprawl and reduce crime, creating safer communities. Green revitalization in a distressed area is often a beacon of change for the entire community. New or refurbished signature parks in city centers or redeveloping communities can promote social health, generate jobs, and spur economic growth. 

Park Rankings
The Trust for Public Land issues the annual ParkScore based on a 100-points system with three categories: acreage, facilities & investment, and access. Within acreage, parks earn points based on median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Facilities and investment points are earned based on spending per resident and amenities. For access, points are based on the percentage of the population within a ten-minute walk (1/2 mile) of a public park.

Chicago's Lakefront Trail, an urban park
Only the top three ranked cities received a greater than 80 Parkscore: 1> Minneapolis (87.5), 2> St. Paul (82.5), and 3> San Francisco (80.0).

With 51 points, Atlanta ties with Dallas for #50 in the ParkScore 2017 rankings. Atlanta boasts 4,991 acres of parkland, serving 91 people per acre. With an average of 3.1 acres per park, Atlanta parkland is 6% of the city's total land. Annually, Atlanta spends $134.46 per resident on parks.

Park Pride
Grant Park, Atlanta
Summer Shade Festival
photo courtesy Michael Halicki
Founded in 1989, Park Pride is the only nonprofit organization working with communities all over Atlanta and Dekalb County to improve their parks. Under the helm of Executive Director Michael Halicki, Park Pride adopted a new strategic plan in 2016 focused on deepening impact in the communities and parks served. The 2016 Impact Report shares the strategic plan components and successes.

The Power of Parks: Park Pride helps neighborhood groups make the best use of greenspaces that contribute to the overall health and well-being of Atlanta. Per the website:
Park Pride Philosophy: Park Pride believes in the Power of Parks. Great parks have the power to increase our quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our cities. They are places for members of the community to gather, play, relax, and lose themselves in nature, encouraging mental and physical health. Great parks promote community engagement, safety, and revitalization. They spur economic development and benefit tourism. Great parks make our citizens happy, our communities strong and our cities sustainable.
Park Pride Mission: To engage communities to activate the power of parks.
Park Pride Vision: We envision a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.
Through the Friends of the Park program, Park Pride empowers local groups to build and maintain a strong network of neighborhood parks via a wide range of services and programs:

Friends of the Park meeting
at Standing Peachtree Park
photo courtesy of Park Pride
  • Park Visioning Program - professional assistance to communities for neighborhood parks master plan development.
  • Grant Programs - matching grant programs offer multiple options for communities to create and fund their ideal greenspace.
  • Fiscal Partners Program - easier access to funding for park projects.
  • Organized Volunteer Workdays - access to a team of volunteers to help with park projects.
  • Monthly Park Meetings - community gatherings designed around education, networking, and support related to improving parks and the park system.
  • Workshops - opportunity to attend workshops that serve the community and parks.
  • Park Tool Shed - free service that provides basic landscaping tools and equipment to more efficiently equip volunteers for park projects.
  • Park Play Library - rental recreational equipment packages for all kinds of activities.
In February 2017, Park Pride received a $60,000 Home Depot Foundation grant in partnership with the Atlanta Botanical Garden (ABG) for the “Pollinators in Parks” pilot initiative; the pilot purpose is to increase the presence and impact of pollinator gardens in five Atlanta Parks. 

Winter Pollinator Garden Sign
ABG Pollinator Garden Coordinator Melina Lozano Durán explains “Pollinator gardens are not only necessary to help natural ecosystems and their plant and animal communities to thrive within cities, but they also nurture our connection to nature.”

The five "Pollinators Parks" pilot locations are Blue Heron Nature Preserve (Buckhead), Four Corners Park (South Atlanta), Gilliam Park (East Atlanta), Grove Park (West Atlanta) and Welch Street Park (Southwest Atlanta). 

Lambda Alpha International Meeting
Michael accepted his nomination to Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a prominent land economics honorary, and joins Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore as an active Atlanta Chapter member. At Holly's invitation, Michael presented at the LAI Atlanta Chapter fall meeting in mid-October hosted by Piedmont Park Conservancy.

Michael introducing
Stephen in the background
In addition to a nice welcome to Atlanta's most visited park, Piedmont Park Conservancy President Mark Banta educated on the park's intriguing history.

As the meeting keynote speaker, Michael presented on Engaging Communities to Activate the Power of Parks. Instead of a formal PPT presentation, Michael used the 2016 Impact Report as his visual tool. The LAI Blog post, Fall LAI Atlanta Chapter Meeting, includes the meeting notes by LAI Board Secretary Bill de St. Aubin, Sizemoregroup CEO.

During his presentation, Michael invited Cox Conserves Hero Finalist Stephen Causby to speak on his impressive neighborhood park success. At the helm of a grassroots effort to transform a vacant neighborhood lot into the Mattie Freeland Park, Stephen oversaw the park development, managed cleanups, executed programming, wrote grants, and solicited community support. The park transformed the neighborhood into a community. Park Pride nominated Stephen for the Cox Conserves Hero awards.

The Ei FB album, Lambda Alpha International, is a pictorial recap of the fall meeting.

As Industrial Revolutions continue to evolve from water & steam (first) to electric power for mass production (second) to technology to automate manufacturing (third) to the current digital era, the Power of Parks gains strength and importance with each evolution. The Power of Parks is well beyond the immediate tangible benefits of recreation and within the intangible, yet measurable, benefits of economic, public health, environmental and community value.

____________________________________________

About Lambda Alpha International:
Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. LAI Chapters provide a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

In December 2013 Ei Founder Holly Elmore was inducted into membership and serves on the LAI Atlanta Chapter Board. In addition, Holly serves on the LAI Global Public Relations and Communications Committee.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ei Welcomes New Strategic Allies

In July 2017 Elemental Impact announced a new primary focus: Soil Healthregenerating the foundation of life. The Recycling Refinement platform was moved to the Mission Accomplished website section and new Ei leadership was announced.

The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announces the new Ei primary focus; the Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team! article passes the baton from Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann to new SFCI Chair Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer.

To support new directions within Soil Health, Ei welcomes Kiss the Ground, One More Generation and Park Pride to the Ei Strategic Ally Program.

Kiss the Ground
Founded in 2013 by Ryland Engelhart and Finian Makepeace, Kiss the Ground (KTG) is a California-based non-profit focused on supporting farmers build healthy soil everywhere.

In August 2015 KTG released The Soil Story, a four-minute video that explains the Earth's carbon cycles in an easy-to-understand format; soil is the hero for regaining carbon cycle balance. The ZWA Blog article, Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance, showcases The Soil Story within the carbon dialogue.

Ei served on The Compost Story Launch Team for the impressive May 2017 release in conjunction with the International Compost Awareness Week. As The Soil Story sequel, The Compost Story explains why compost is a regenerative solution for depleted lands.

Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World  by Josh Tickell is scheduled for a mid-November 2017 release. A full-length documentary film based on the book and narrated by Woody Harrelson is slated for a 2018 release. Per the KTG website:
Kiss the Ground (2018) is a feature-length documentary exposing the lives of scientists, farmers, ranchers, activists and policymakers on the front-lines of the battle to save the world’s soils – and our species. Experience the hope, passion, and commitment inspired by a solution at once complex, and yet so simple; a solution long overlooked because no one thought to look right under our feet. Directed by award-winning filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell of Big Picture Ranch.
At the January 2018 U.S. Composting Council Conference hosted in Atlanta, Finian presents on the Ei-hosted panel, Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils, moderated by Ei Founder Holly Elmore.

With a strong foundation in-place, Ei is excited to explore future collaborations with KTG.

One More Generation
In 2009 8-year old Carter and 7-year-old Olivia Ries founded One More Generation (OMG), an Atlanta-based non-profit with a profound global impact. The OMG mission is to ensure the children of tomorrow have the opportunity to walk alongside each of our living species of today.

Though initially an animal conservation non-profit, OMG quickly understood the dramatic impact plastic pollution has on animal welfare. Thus, OMG launched the Plastic Awareness Coalition on February 22, 2011, Carter's 10th birthday.

World-renowned for their work on plastic pollution education and animal conservation, OMG shares their important message through a variety of vehicles:

Olivia & Carter @ CPF Gala
(CPF – John Amis)
  • Awards - Carter & Olivia were the 2014 Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) Young Superheroes for the Earth Award; there are many other awards.
  • Prominent blogs - Olivia writes for The Huff Post and the National Geographic Education Blog.
  • Local media - OMG is featured in a plethora of local, regional, and national media.
  • Speaking engagements - TEDxYouth May 2016 talk and many more.
  • Personal appearances - OMG President Jim Ries (Carter & Olivia's father) often dresses up in a 500-bags costume for public appearances; the costume is made with the average number of bags used by a person annually.
The One Less Straw Campaign educates on the travesty caused by the 500 million plastic straws used by Americans each DAY; the campaign aligns with Ei's focus on the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination, targeted at microplastic pollution in our soils.

With a vast hospitality, foodservice, and corporate network, Ei will promote the One Less Straw Campaign to established connections. 

Park Pride
Founded in 1989, Park Pride (PP) is the only nonprofit organization working with communities all over Atlanta to improve their parks. Under the helm of Executive Director Michael Halicki, PP adopted a new strategic plan in 2016 focussed on deepening impact in the communities and parks served. The 2016 Impact Report shares the strategic plan components and successes.

The Power of Parks: PP helps neighborhood groups make the best use of greenspaces that contribute to the overall health and well-being of Atlanta. Per the website:
Park Pride PhilosophyPark Pride believes in the Power of Parks. Great parks have the power to increase our quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our cities. They are places for members of the community to gather, play, relax, and lose themselves in nature, encouraging mental and physical health. Great parks promote community engagement, safety, and revitalization. They spur economic development and benefit tourism. Great parks make our citizens happy, our communities strong and our cities sustainable.
Park Pride MissionTo engage communities to activate the power of parks.
Park Pride VisionWe envision a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.
Michael & Tim Trefer @
Fall LAI meeing
Ei is excited to partner with PP and the City of Atlanta on park projects where compost is used for simple, effective erosion control and stormwater management systems at area public parks.

Michael accepted his nomination to Lambda Alpha International (LAI), a prominent land economics honorary, and joins Holly as an active Atlanta Chapter member. At Holly's invitation, Michael presented at LAI Atlanta Chapter fall meeting in mid-October hosted by Piedmont Park Conservancy. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

Building off established relationships, Ei is excited to partner with the new Strategic Allies on empowering programs focused on soil regeneration.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

CUBA: rich in spirit, history & restoration

In January 2017 Elemental Impact Founder Holly Elmore visited Cuba on a family vacation cruise with three ports of call: Santiago de Cuba, Havana and Cienfuegos. As Americans, the visit was through the People-to-People Visa program with required Authentic Cuban Experience Tours at each city. The tours were well orchestrated, educational and led by delightful Cubans benefiting from the emerging tourism industry.

Santiago de Cuba shoreline
Santiago de Cuba was the perfect inaugural port as the education spanned the days of Jamaican pirate invasions to African slavery to the first action in the Cuban Revolution. The stage was set to appreciate the tours in other Cuban cities.

The cruise itinerary included two phenomenal days in Havana, filled with comprehensive tours of Old Havana and beyond. With the port literally across the street from Plaza de San Francisco, a walking tour of four of the five Old Havana Plazas was a perfect introduction to the grand, elder city.

Cubans earn tourist funds
with a creative entrepreneurial spirit. 
Though fun and educational, the government-run tours herded tourists through the Old Havana Streets causing crowded conditions. In the tourist zone, the Cuban entrepreneurial spirit was evident and inspiring. Rather than begging for money, the enterprising Cubans used their talents to earn tourist dollars (or CUCs). Talent ran the gamut from superb musicians, excellent mimes, dogs in clever outfits to eclectic individuals dressed in character with over-sized cigars. Amazing for-pay photo opportunities were abundant!

The Cuban government is committed to authentic restoration of the once elegant Old Havana buildings that fell into complete disrepair over the past 50+ years. When practical a building is restored with similar materials & style as its original design. Examples of the impressive Old Havana building restoration were prominent within the tour.

A vibrant urban garden replaces the ruins
of a dilapidated building.
When the interior structure is beyond repair, the facade is repaired to original standards. Yet the interior is built out for a modern business, often a restaurant or hotel. If the entire building is beyond repair, the ruins are removed and the space is re-purposed into a park or other public area.

Per the July 2015 Tourism, Historic Preservation and Urban Renewal: The Case Study of Old Havana published on the Urban Sustainability Laboratory Blog:
Habaguanex, a Cuban corporation that works with the historical and cultural product in Havana, was created to take over all publicly owned businesses in the region, partnered with The Office of the City Historian to redevelop Old Havana. Habaguanex invested in hotels and restaurants in Old Havana and redirected the profits generated from the investments towards historic preservation in the municipality. Sites like the central plazas (Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza San Francisco), and places with the potential for tourism like Earnest Hemingway’s old residence have been restored, in addition to the ongoing restoration of aging buildings in order to maintain Havana’s architectural heritage.
Habaguanex investments led to an increase in tourist related business and employment for local residents. ... Political reforms in 2010 allowed for specific openings to the private economy, and residents who own businesses in Old Havana often work in the tourism trade and make substantially more than those who are employed by the state.
Built in the early 1600's as a mansion,
the Hotel Santa Isabel Old Havana opened
in 1997 following a major building restoration.
In 1994 the Cuban Council of State created the Habaguanex in response to the famous 1993 Old Havana building collapse witnessed by a British journalist. The same evening another building collapsed along the Havana Malecón (officially Avenida de Maceo), a five-mile walkway along the city's waterfront. The Independent October 1993 article Architecture: Walls came tumbling down: Jonathan Glancey, our man in Havana, finds one of the most beautiful cities in the world crumbling under a US trade embargo documents the building collapse along with related commentary.

A typical street corner in a non-tourist
section of Old Havana shows a city
in disrepair, yet rich in life and spirit.
In the Human Settlement Development, The Central Role of Cities in our Environment's Future Constraints and Possibilities, Volume 1University of Chicago and Centennial Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, USA Saskia Sassen documents the Habaguanex launched with a mere $20,000 in state financing. As one of the few Cuban entities that retains most of its profits for program projects, the Habaguanex may form joint ventures with foreign capitalists for historic preservation within Old Havana.

Additionally, the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHCH) assesses hotels, stores, museums, and restaurants a 1 percent tax, 60 percent of which goes to the OHCH restoration program and 40 percent to social work. According to the February 2017 Cuba Sets The Example For Historic Preservation article by Anne Surchin:
The revenue tax for OHCH not only funds the restoration work but also the salaries of a staff of 200 including a team of architects, sociologists, historians, environmentalists, geographers, civil engineers, and supporting specialists such as cartographers, computer technicians, archivists, and transit and traffic engineers. The office is 90 percent female. OHCH also runs four restoration schools providing training in 12 different trades for students between the age of 18 and 25. Graduates of this program receive certificates as restorers in a specialty trade. There are 13,000 restorers working for OHCH today.
A dilapidated building is under renovation
within the Old Havana restoration program.
Even with the restoration commitment, there are dilapidated neighborhoods filled with memories of Havana's pre-Castro grandeur; families live within the near ruins. The scenario is astonishing yet the folks are cheerful and seem content with their lifestyle.

With a basic understanding of Old Havana's layout from the walking tour, Holly spent her "free" afternoon exploring beyond the tourist zone. It was stupendous to stumble upon prior mansions and grand buildings in unbelievable disrepair. 

Throughout Old Havana marble staircases
within elder buildings are reminders
of pre-Castro grandeur
Doorways, stairs & windows are entryways into the unknown where memories often remain within their untold stories. Old Havana was filled with an array of eclectic entryways, often in disarray, that whispered of another era where opulence was common place.

Another common sight within the Old Havana neighborhoods was thriving plant life whose roots were grounded within buildings, whether ruins or restored. The vibrant plants echoed the resilient Cuban spirit. Despite obvious hardship, the neighborhood was filled with an optimism woven within daily life.

A classic, working car awaits
its faithful owner at a popular
tourist brewery.
 
Classic 1950 American cars are one of Cuba's trademarks. Though the cars are meticulously maintained, most engine parts, or the entire engine, are other than American-made due to the trade embargo. Thanks to the Cuban entrepreneurial spirit, the cars are vehicles to funnel tourism dollars to support families.

Once out of the tourist zones, there are plenty of older cars in good working order yet rust, instead of shiny wax, define their character.

One of Havana's street dogs takes an early
afternoon nap in the Plaza de Armas.
Old Havana is filled with a strong feline and canine population who calls the streets home. Filled with the resilient Cuban spirit, the cats & dogs are friendly and loved by fellow human residents within their territory. It was heartwarming to witness a neighborhood man reach down to pet a street cat as he continued his daily routine.

The final port-of-call was the delightful city of Cienfuegos. Nestled on the Caribbean Coast, the rich artist culture permeates the city and enriches the experience. It was interesting to note Cienfuegos appeared free of the dilapidated neighborhoods prevalent in Havana. The city seemed grounded and centered with a more moderate lifestyle during the pre-Castro times.

A stunning morning view welcomed
the cruise ship to Cienfuegos.
The Holly Elmore Images FB album, 2017 Cuba Cruise, documents the profound Cuban experience in a comprehensive fashion with photos segregated into topic segments.

As an island originally colonized by the Spaniards after Christopher Columbus's discovery in October 1492, Cuba is a country who arises from dominant foreign rule. In Santiago de Cuba, El Morro - formerly Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca -  is a fortress built in 1638 at the Santiago Bay entrance to protect the city from pirates; the fort remains a prominent reminder of necessity to protect from foreign invasion.

Though the current economic state was driven from within, Cuban tenacity of spirit will sustain the fundamental restoration necessary to restore its rich heritage. A work-in-progress, Cuba is indeed rich in spirit, history and restoration.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sustainability: an economic driver

Over the past decade sustainability moved from "the right thing to do" to an economic driver. Beyond cost-savings from efficient use of resources, sustainable best practices are often the basis for revenue generation. 

From the personal consumer to major sporting events, customers demand sustainable best practices ranging from energy consumption, packaging choices, cleaning supplies used, and material reuse | recycling. It is common practice for major sporting events to include a sustainability section in the host city RFP (request for proposal) package.

As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta set a high standard for sporting event sustainability practices. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer took the helm for achieving the lofty goal.

SUCCESS: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in impressive green footprints before, during and after the games. The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, gives an overview of event sustainability stats; the May 2013 Final Four Sustainability Report is the official in-depth report.

Post event, Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four Sustainability RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

Continuing Atlanta's sustainability leadership role, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) is slated to open in mid-2017 as the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certified professional stadium in the world. MBS will serve as the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and Atlanta United FC of the Major League Soccer (MLS).

At the invitation of Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore, MBS General Manager Scott Jenkins gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting.

In his opening slide, Scott states: MBS will be the Heart of Atlanta and home to the biggest championships in the United States. Validating the statement, the MBS secured the following sport championships PRIOR to opening:
Unique Operable Roof
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
  • 2018 College Football National Championship
  • 2019 Super Bowl
  • 2019, 2022, 2025 College Football Playoffs
  • 2020 NCAA Men's Final Four
  • Annual SEC Championships
  • Annual Chick-fil-A Bowl
  • Annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game
Scott proceeded to explain many of the unique stadium features including the retractable roof, an innovative mechanized curtaining system for the stadium’s mid and upper bowls, and connected upper level walkways throughout the stadium circumference. In addition, MBS is committed to using local contractors and exceeded their Minority | Female Business Enterprise (MFBE) 30% goal; currently, the stadium construction MFBE is 36%.

MBS field rendering
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
Working closely with Levy Restaurants, the stadium's concessionaire, MBS is crafting new industry standards for event facility food and beverage service. For example, most non-alcoholic beverages are self-serve with unlimited refills to reduce register transaction time. Additionally, MBS will serve quality, locally sourced (when practical) food at a reasonable price. 

Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank made a bold sustainability statement by recruiting and hiring Scott three years prior to the stadium opening. In February 2014 Scott left his nearly eight-year tenure as Seattle Mariners Vice-President Ballpark Operations to join AMB Sports & Entertainment Group as the MBS General Manager. Scott was specifically recruited for his unwavering sustainability commitment; under Scott's reign, the Seattle Mariners ballpark achieved zero waste!

The MBS sustainability profile is staggering:
MBS parking lot solar panels
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
  • first NFL | MLS stadium to reach LEED Platinum.
  • first sports facility to achieve alternative LEED water credits; water-efficient fixtures that in aggregate use an estimated 47% less water than baseline standards.
  • first sports facility to pursue several v4 LEED credit strategies including the Materials & Resources category.
  • stadium will save 29% in energy usage versus a typical design.
  • rainwater collection system in an 1,100,000-gallons storm vault and a 680,000-gallons cistern; the water is earmarked for cooling tower make-up water and landscape irrigation.
  • electric car charges available at adjacent parking lots for up to 48 simultaneous charges.
  • 4000 PV solar power panels generate 1.6 million kilowatt hours per year of renewable energy, enough to power 160 Atlanta homes.
  • edible landscape (apples & blueberries) incorporated into the stadium landscape.
  • ample alternative transportation, including public transit, accessible pedestrian paths, and a bicycle network.
Recently, AMB Sports & Entertainment released the SUSTAINABILITY at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium five-minute video featuring Scott and the stadium team. The video is an excellent visual recount of the sustainability-in-progress at the stadium.

Throughout his presentation, Scott emphasized the economics grounding the MBS sustainability commitment.

In addition to his MBS responsibilities, Scott serves as the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) Chair. Per the GSA website:
The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play. We do so by inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace energy and water efficiency; renewable energy; sustainable food; responsible procurement; socially responsible practices; and other environmentally preferable actions.
The Ei Entourage
(pictured as listed at left)
As Scott is a close Ei friend, a strong Ei entourage attended the LAI meeting to show their support: LAI member Wayne King (U.S. Composting Council | ERTHProducts), Boyd Leake (City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability), Jim Harrell (Renaissance Technology) and Tim Trefzer (GWCC).

Following his formal presentation, Scott answered the plethora of pertinent questions from the LAI audience. It was a powerful meeting and inspiring to learn the intricacies of the next
architectural icon.

Scott's PPT presentation is available on the Ei Lambda Alpha International page.

When bottom-line benefits are derived from cost-savings and revenue generation, sustainability is an economic driver where the business, the community-at-large, and the environment WIN!

________________________

About Lambda Alpha International:
Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. A LAI Chapter provides a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

In December 2013 Ei Founder Holly Elmore was inducted into membership and serves on the LAI Atlanta Chapter Board. In addition, Holly serves on the LAI Global Public Relations and Communications Committee.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Seventh Birthday Ei!!!

On February 5, 2010 Elemental Impact (Ei) incorporated as a Georgia non-profit corporation and embarked on an incredible journey. Whew, the first seven years were action-packed while the Ei Team lived the tagline: Sustainability in ACTION

Background:
Ei was formed as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launched in 2009 by the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) within the Georgia Restaurant Association. Over the years, Ei's work evolved well beyond zero waste initiatives.

At the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Ei Founder Holly Elmore gave a Ei Year in Review presentation, an overview of Ei's amazing 7th year. The following is a recap of Ei's evolution from the opening slide:
2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the ZWZ were sold to the National Restaurant Association catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis.The ZWA Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.
2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - in 2013 the three-platforms approach for Ei initiatives | pilots emerged from a metamorphosis stage. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduces three Ei platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement (RR) and Water Use | Toxicity
2014: Year of Foundations | Evolutions - in 2014 the platforms were grounded with initiative launches and supporting taglines. The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2014: A Year of Evolution, provides a summary of the platform foundations. 
2015: Year of ACTION - in 2015 Ei lived up to its tagline: Sustainability in ACTION! The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2015: A Year of ACTION, summarizes the empowering year.
2016: Year of Recognition - in 2016 Ei's important work was recognized in published industry case studies and Ei-hosted national conference panels. In addition, the Ei Blogs' readership significantly increased and Holly was recognized as a respected environmental journalist.
Written as a synopsis of the 2016 Annual Ei Partner Meeting, The IMPACT Blog article, Ei 2016: A Year of RECOGNITION, gives an in-depth overview of recent accomplishments, completions and recognition. 

The Ei Team is comprised of Industry Experts and Industry Pioneers. Experts educate, advise and support the Pioneers; the Pioneers craft new standard operating practices within their operations that make good business and environmental sense. Once tested and proven effective, the Pioneers share the evolved practices with their industry colleagues. Ei’s work is complete and the Team moves into a new industry frontier.

Since 2010 the Ei Team served as a leader in pioneering frontiers with a myriad of completed projects | programs. The Mission Accomplished page lists Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished!

New Frontiers:
Ready for new frontiers, two new RR platform focus areas - Carbon Sequestration and Macro Cost of Micro Contamination - were introduced in Year Seven to complement existing RR areas:
Ei Partner Rick Lombardo
introducing Macro Cost
of Micro Contamination

In 2015 the SMAT - Sustainable Materials ACTION Team, an Ei task force - formed to support RR initiatives. SMAT members include Ei Industry Experts as well as local and federal government associates.

A college campus cooling tower
Under the Water Use | Toxicity platform, the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative gained strong traction in 2016. Via an Ei introduction, Ei Partners Renaissance Technology | Filters Plus are in the midst of an Atlanta Airport RFP (request for proposal) for toxic chemical-free cooling tower maintenance; the RFP process serves as the formal WCTI technology assessment process for the 2018 FY Budget, beginning July 1, 2017. 

If installed, the Atlanta Airport is staged to save an estimated 7 - 10 million gallons of water annually. The intent is for the Atlanta Airport to serve as a Lead Pioneer in the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative along with formal City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability support. 

Since 2011, the Atlanta Airport served as the SFCI - Airport Pilot.

The ZWA Blog article, Proactive Approach + Simple Solutions = BIG Toxic Chemical-Laden Water Savings, announces the Ei Cooling Tower Blowdown Initiative and gives an overview of the technology.

At the Podium:
During Year Seven, Ei's industry expertise was recognized in a series of diverse speaking engagements, ranging from colleges | universities to national conferences to an industry webinar.

Holly speaking @ Ga Tech
The March 2016 GA Tech Engineers for a Sustainable Future: Sustainability of the Spirit 60-minute session w/ Q&A was empowering. The IMPACT Blog article, Sustainability of the Spirit, recaps the inspirational session; in June an Ei cousin blog, Sustainability of the Spirit, launched to incorporate heart-based perspectives into Ei's important work.

In addition, Holly gave a 60-minute lecture to the GA Tech Supply Chain Modeling class and served on the Innovative Practices in Corporate Environmental Sustainability panel at the Emory University Planet, People, Profits: A Conference on Business and the Environment. The ZWA Blog article, The Zero Waste Journey: Supply | Value Chain, WE Consciousness & Power of Consumer Demand are Integral to Success, is an overview of Holly's supply chain lecture along with in-depth copy on discussed concepts.

As the Official NZWBC Media Partner for the third consecutive year, Ei hosted two powerful conference panels: Food Waste Composting: Challenges, Lessons Learned & Successes and the above referenced Macro Cost of Micro Contamination. The ZWA Blog article, A "Tuned In" Industry Catches a Vibrant Zero Waste Beat, chronicles the conference. 

In addition, Holly joined Ei Strategic Ally Susan Collins, Container Recycling Institute president, as co-hosts for the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) | U.S. Green Building Council Recycling: The Business Case webinar. The ZWA Blog article, Recycling: The Business Case, is a webinar overview and serves as the second article in the A Recycling or Contamination Crisis? series.

Case Studies:
Industry recognition continued with publication of prominent case studies. In time for the Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Ei Partner NatureWorks (NW) published global case studies on the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journey Pilots. The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies, showcases the two case studies: RayDay Embraces Path to Waste Reduction and Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success.

The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, supports the NW case studies with event details.

Prepared by Ei on behalf of W.R.A.P. - Wrap Recycling Action Program, the Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls chronicles the Charlotte plastic film recycling programs pioneered within the SFCI - Shopping Mall Pilot

Ei's leadership role in commercial plastic film recycling is chronicled on the Plastic Film Recycling website page. The ZWA Blog article, Comparative Case Study: Plastic Film Recycling at Two Simon Malls, announces the case study publication.

The Fingertip Press:
When she publishes a blog article, Holly writes a Facebook post beginning with “PREVIEW: Hot off the Fingertip Press an article …” Thus, the Fingertip Press evolved into Holly’s nomenclature for her published articles, documents and other written communication.

In addition to writing the Ei website copy, the Fingertip Press publishes the two Ei blogs:

  • 118,200 pageviews
  • 121 published articles
  • Average 980 pageviews per article
  • Most popular article: Ei New Mission Statement (12/12) 2,845 views
The ZWA Blog article, Ei Blogs: respected media & valuable industry resources, celebrates strong readership, acknowledges teamwork necessary to build the solid foundation, and details interesting reader analytics.

With a fresh look, the Ei site was relaunched in April. Along with updated graphics, the navigation was reorganized to reflect completed projects and new endeavors.

The homepage simply communicates the Ei site's three main focus areas utilizing Holly's photographs as background images. For the first section, the Ei mantra takes center stage:


For an overview of the new site, visit the IMPACT Blog article, Ei: New Website, New Era!.

In October two prominent industry trade associations - the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) - published front-cover zero waste articles in their October hard copy magazines.

For the ISM cover article, Full Circle, Supply management can play a key role in the circular economy, working with suppliers to eliminate waste and drive financial value, Holly served as an industry resource for the author. As a "thank you" the article ended with a prominent quote by Holly.

The NWPCA Pallet Central September | October issue cover article, Zero Waste Makes Good Business & Environmental Sense, was published by the Fingertip Press on behalf of the USZWBC. With three industry magazine-published articles, a new website page Ei-Published Articles was created.

For details on the national trade association articles, visit the ZWA Blog article, Zero waste moves from "best" to standard operating practices.

In 2016 Holly's Fingertip Press moved from respected media to recognized journalist with the following invitation:
In early November the U.S. State Department invited Ei to join the invitation-only COP22 preview press conference call. Journalists from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times were among the respected, mainstream media on the call.
The IMPACT Blog article, Ei: Respected Journalism, chronicles 2016 events validating the Fingertip Press as a respected industry journalist.

In June, Holly launched www.hollyelmore.com as home to the Fingertip Press as well as Holly Elmore Images and At Your Service (for contracts that may not fall within Ei's non-profit status). Ei documentation is a prominent site feature within the site.

The Ei FB Albums include comprehensive albums documenting conferences, meetings and events. Within albums, images are organized in chronological sections and each photo has a unique description along with individuals identified when practical. Albums contain an overview description along with links to related Ei Blog articles.

In addition several albums document an Ei industry focus. For example, the Ei Plastic Film Recycling album is a comprehensive 150+ photo album chronicling Ei's pioneering work in commercial plastic film recycling from the first action steps in 2011.

With over 175 albums, the Ei FB albums are a valuable industry resource.

Photos are available for download from the FB albums and are often used in industry-related presentations and published studies. Ei requests a donation for photo use, especially for media placement.

Lambda Alpha International
In 2013 Holly was inducted into Lambda Alpha International (LAI), the Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. A LAI Chapter provides a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its designated purposes.

Twice per year chapters sponsor "Weekend Experiences" giving members an opportunity to meet and learn about land economic issues in cities throughout the world. Open to LAI members and their guests, the Land Economics Weekends (LEW) address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city. As an active LAI member, Holly attended the 2016 Spring LEW in Memphis and Fall LEW in Toronto. 

Toronto  Ismaili Centre in evening
In Toronto Holly represented the LAI Atlanta Chapter at the LAI Board & Executive
Meetings. Holly serves on the LAI International Public Relations & Communications Executive Committee and was recently invited to serve on the Atlanta LAI Chapter Board. 

The IMPACT Blog article, Memphis: an amazing city redefining itself, chronicles the Memphis LEW while the Toronto: crafting a livable city amidst staggering population shifts and growth article is a Toronto LEW overview. Each article articulates unique challenges, lessons learned and successes as the respective cities redefine themselves amidst shifting economic, demographic and urban design parameters.

Indeed, Year Seven was a magical year for Ei with the plethora of recognition and honors. ... and the Ei Team soars into Year Eight prepared to forge new frontiers with tremendous impact in newfound dimensions!