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Monday, January 20, 2020

Atlanta: sustainability is a strong economic driver

Atlanta is home to one of the densest (if not the densest) district of LEED-certified event space in the world and is the greenest convention, sports, and entertainment destination in the world.

The list of downtown Atlanta LEED-certified facilities is impressive: Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA - world’s largest LEED-certified-convention center), Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS - first professional sports stadium in the world to achieve LEED-Platinum certification), State Farm Arena (SFA - world’s first National Basketball Association/National Hockey League arena to earn LEED certification), as well as the College Football Hall of Fame (LEED Silver), the World of Coca-Cola (LEED Gold), and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (LEED Silver).

Upon re-certification in 2019, the SFA achieved LEED-Gold certification, augmenting the impressive downtown Atlanta convention, sports, and entertainment campus.

LEED - Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design - is a green-building-certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices within the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) umbrella. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different certification levels. For a pre-existing building, LEED certification is often a multi-year endeavor.

Setting event-sustainability standards
In 2009, the GWCCA was the first Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) Founding Participant. GWCCA hosted the acclaimed ZWZ-launch-press conference that led to a prime-time CNN story as well as a New York Times front-page article. The ZWZ were the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost.

Post-press conference, the GWCCA hosted a Meeting Planners International-conference luncheon for 1200 guests with a locally sourced menu. During the luncheon program, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore announced that 100% of the food associated with the luncheon was either consumed, donated or collected for off-site compost. Though not substantiated, the luncheon was the first large conference event to make the groundbreaking, profound statement.

Thus, in 2009 the GWCCA set zero-waste standards for food donation and commercial collection of food waste for compost at conference events.

Additionally, Atlanta was a driving force in sustainability rising to a key RFP (request-for-proposal) component for large event-site selection. 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." GWCCA 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!

GWCCA, a global leader in sustainability
On October 28, 2014, the GWCCA announced the 3.9 million-square-foot conference center was awarded LEED-Silver certification by the USGBC. The announcement thrust Atlanta into the national | global sustainability spotlight as home to the world's largest LEED-certified convention center AND the 14th largest LEED-certified building.

Tim with the GWCCA executive
team and the LEED Gold plaque 
In July 2017 GWCCA-managed Savannah International Trade and Convention Center earned LEED-Gold certification, making it the first convention center in the State of Georgia to achieve LEED-Gold status. 

Re-certifying two years early, on November 28, 2017, the GWCCA was awarded LEED-Gold certification, the second-highest level in the rating system. In the re-certification, the GWCC was thirteen points higher than the 2014 application and five points higher than the minimum requirement. The majority of the additional points related to the energy-saving performance contract referenced below. In Tim's words:
“Improving our performance from LEED Silver to Gold reflects our commitment to having better buildings, being better neighbors, and hosting better events. It’s a testament to our leadership’s vision to anchor the greenest convention, sports, and entertainment destination in the world.” 
In 2018 the GWCCA was awarded Georgia Green Award for Building Performance from the USGBC Georgia.

As an industry leader in sustainability, the GWCCA 220-acre downtown campus boasts an impressive list of accomplishments:
  • GWCCA diverted 15.9+ million pounds of material from landfills since 2010. 
  • GWCCA reduced water consumption by 41% since 2009 through the installation of new irrigation, restroom fixtures, and chillers. 
  • GWCCA is approximately 28% more energy efficient than similar buildings. 
  • GWCCA uses janitorial paper and cleaning products that meet sustainability criteria, including recycled content materials and|or reduced harmful chemicals. (86% of the products meet the criteria) 
    GWCCA honey-bee apiary
  • GWCCA’s 1,900-solar panel canopy located in the marshaling yard produces enough energy to power 89 Georgia homes annually. 
  • GWCCA finished construction in April 2017 of a $28 million energy-saving performance contract that exceeded guaranteed savings of 39% on utilities in the first two years at 43% and 44% compared to a 2013 baseline. The contract earned the majority of the additional thirteen LEED certification points in the 2017 re-certification.
  • GWCCA team members donated 59 pints of blood in 2019 to the American Red Cross in support of those impacted by Hurricane Michael in South Georgia. Additionally, more than 500 books were donated to local elementary-school students.
  • GWCCA harvested 100 pounds of honey in November 2019 from the three honey-bee hives located on the campus. It was the first honey harvest.
As the backbone of Atlanta's thriving convention, sports, and entertainment-downtown campus, the GWCCA welcomed 4.1 million visitors, had an economic impact of $1.92 billion, and supported 19,675 jobs in 2019. Continuing to expand, the GWCCA opened a new 100,000 square-foot-exhibit hall (“B/C Hall”) in January 2020. The new exhibit hall connects Buildings B and C and provides more than 1.1 million-square feet of contiguous exhibition space.

With the Georgia Dome deconstructed, the GWCCA intends to break ground in April 2020 on the new Signia Hilton on a portion of the former stadium site.

Most sustainable Super Bowl ever
On February 3, 2019, Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl for the third time; each Atlanta-hosted game served as a sustainability milestone for the Super Bowl.

2019 Super Bowl Green Team
Photo credit: GWCCA
It is a high honor to host the Super Bowl. With the honor comes responsibilities and rewards. During the 2019 event, Atlanta welcomed 500,000 guests to Super Bowl Live and the Super Bowl Experience with a $185 million-economic impact. With 87% of the Super Bowl hosted on the Championship Campus (the GWCCA plus SFA), more than 41,000 unique wireless devises connected to the GWCCA WIFI.

As documented in the Sport Sustainability Journal article, NFL Green returns to its spiritual home for Super Bowl LIII, Director, National Football League Environmental Program Jack Groh initiated the first Super Bowl-recycling project during the 1994 game hosted at the Georgia Dome. At the second game hosted at the Georgia Dome in 2000, Jack established the first Super Kids-Super Sharing project where local school children donate unwanted, yet usable, sports equipment and other items. The project in turn donates the items to children in lower-income neighborhoods.

At the 2019 Super Bowl hosted at the MBS, Jack inaugurated the Recycle and Win program. As they scour the stadium during the game, Green Team members award fans who are seen recycling with a Super Bowl hat. Photos are taken to share in social media. Thus, recycling is made fun with rewards!

The golden-shovel ceremony
L to R: Tim, Lee Hendrickson & Jack
photo courtesy of Front Office Sports
As the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee's Sustainability Committee Chair, Tim worked closely with Jack to ensure the 2019 Super Bowl was the most sustainable ever. Beyond the impressive water and energy-savings at the LEED Platinum-certified MBS, Tim focused on material recovery, food recovery, renewal energy, and ancillary programs prior to game day.

With excellent participation by event managers, an impressive 43+ tons of event materials were recovered and donated to local non-profits. Materials included carpet, décor, office supplies, furniture, signage, clothing and other items. 

Events held at the GWCCA contributed the largest volume of materials. NFL House also contributed a significant amount, donating three-box-truck loads of material, much of it lumber. The Salvation Army was a critical partner in collecting and distributing the material.

Food recovery was a top priority, especially with the established local network. Below are the results of the well orchestrated program:
Packaged Super Bowl food awaiting
Second Helping's collection
Photo courtesy of Atlanta Intown
  • Atlanta Community Food Bank - 54,719 pounds (mostly beverages)
  • Second Helpings - 17,044 pounds (mostly prepared food)
  • GoodR – 44,386 pounds food/22,435 pounds beverages
The combined total of 138,584 pounds was distributed to more than 80 agencies in 21 counties. Food recovered from Super Bowl events provided more than 51,000 meals.

At the MBS, Tim and his team worked with stadium staff and contractors to increase the diversion rates from their typical 20% to 54.11% at the game. Super Bowl 2019 results set stadium records with the following stats:
  • 3.69 tons of food donated – most Second Helpings has recovered in a single trip.
  • 7.95 tons of pallets recycled – most in a week.
  • 1.87 tons of glass recycled – most from a single event.
  • 10.5 tons of cardboard recycled – most in a week.
In addition, 2.39 tons of aluminum was recycled as part of the stadium’s Recycle for Good campaign. Proceeds from the aluminum sales were donated to Habitat for Humanity for local home construction.

The host committee partnered with Verizon and Trees Atlanta for thirteen urban-forestry projects within the greater Atlanta area. Projects included planting hundreds of neighborhood trees, creating community gardens and pollinator gardens, and expanding the 7.1-acre Food Forest, now the largest in the country.

Hosted at Zoo Atlanta, the E-Waste Recycling Rally was open to the public and the most successful in Super Bowl history. With over 400 participants, 42,446 pounds (87 pallets) of electronic waste was collected and responsibly recycled. Verizon covered the event costs. The Verizon/NFL Super Bowl LIII Recycling Rally at Zoo Atlanta 2019 video gives an excellent event recap.

Donation sorting at
Super Kids - Super Sharing
Photo credit: GWWCA
At the 20th annual Super Kids-Super Sharing, over 100 local schools participated. Students donated 40,000 books, pieces of sports equipment, school supplies and games that were distributed to local students in need. 

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, Verizon provided an $18,000 grant to the Ron Clark Academy for a program to create healthy relationships and prevent bullying and violence. Additionally, Verizon funded the planting of 20,000 trees in the Sandhills Wildlife Management area. The Super Kids Super Sharing Event- Super Bowl LIII video showcases the impressive event.

Anheuser-Bush provided renewable energy credits to offset the energy usage at Super Bowl facilities.

According to the January 2019 Environment News Service article, 2019 Super Bowl Most Sustainable Ever, the 2019 Super Bowl was staged to surpass prior games as the most sustainable ever. Under Jack's and Tim's leadership, the 2019 Super Bowl was indeed the most sustainable ever.

GreenBuild walks the zero-waste talk
While 2019 opened with the Super Bowl, the year closed with Atlanta hosting the GreenBuild International Conference and Expo (GreenBuild) at the GWCCA.

Tim with CleanRiver Recycling
Solutions CEO Bruce Buchan
GreenBuild is the biggest annual event for green-building professionals worldwide to learn and source cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience, sustainability, and quality of life in our buildings, cities, and communities. A USGBC event, GreenBuild aligns with the USGBC mission of market transformation through its LEED green-building program.

Beginning with the first conference in 2002, GreenBuild strives to set the highest sustainability-industry standards for hosting a prominent national conference with a global reach. As required in the GreenBuild RFP, Tim worked closely with the event staff on following protocol to achieve the USGB's TRUE Zero Waste Certification.

The RiA Magazine article, GreenBuild walks the zero-waste talk, showcases the stellar zero-waste and sustainability practices executed at the conference; the Ei FB album, 2020 GreenBuild Conference, gives a pictorial recap of Holly's GreenBuild visit hosted by Tim.

2020 & beyond
In early April 2020, the NCAA® Men’s Final Four® returns to Atlanta. As with the Super Bowl, the Men's Final Four has strong sustainability roots in Atlanta from the 2013 "greenest games ever" previously mentioned. 

As the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee Sustainability Committee Chair, Tim will ensure the 2020 Men's Final Four-sustainability accomplishments significantly surpass the 2013 successes. One goal is to achieve Council for Responsible Sport Certification, a measurement of event social and environmental impact.

The GWCCA's role in Atlanta's sustainability leadership is confirmed by Tim:
As one of the strongest economic engines for Atlanta and the state of Georgia for decades, the GWCCA continues to serve as a catalyst for growth and leadership in downtown Atlanta and beyond. With environmental impact and social responsibility at the forefront of event-planning decisions, the GWCCA maintains its global industry-leadership position by setting a strong example of community stewardship via building construction, facility operations and local impact.
Within an 18-month period, Atlanta hosted or will host three premier national events - 2019 SuperBowl, 2019 GreenBuild, and 2020 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®. Each event requires in-depth sustainability commitments and rewards the host city with impressive economic benefits. Integral to the event execution are programs that expand benefits to local under-served communities and environmental habitats. 

Atlanta's stellar sustainability commitment is one of the city's strongest economic drivers.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ei 2019: A Year of Empowerment

On February 5, 2010, Elemental Impact (Ei) incorporated as a Georgia non-profit corporation and embarked on an incredible journey. Since inception, Ei lived the tagline Sustainability in ACTION!

Whew, the first ten years were action-packed while the Ei Team initiated and completed the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement (RR) and segued into the Era of Regeneration.

Working with a powerful team of Ei Pioneers and Ei Industry Experts, Ei evolved into a respected national non-profit known for introducing sustainable best practices within a range of industries.

Beginning with the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), Ei initiatives epitomized the following mantra:

Ei is a creator, an incubator. 
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done. 
Ei brings the possible out of impossible. 
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

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

The following is a recap of Ei's evolution:

2012: Year of Accomplishments | Completions - in late 2012 the ZWZ were sold to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) catapulting Ei into a major metamorphosis. The Zero Waste in ACTION Blog article, The NRA Acquires ZWZ, announces the monumental acquisition.

2013: Year of Transitions | Introductions - as Ei flowed within the metamorphosis stage, the three-platforms approach emerged. The IMPACT Blog, Ei Emerges Strong from Metamorphosis, introduced the three platforms: Product Stewardship, Recycling Refinement (RR) and Water Use | Toxicity. The IMPACT Magazine article, Another Year, Another Annual Ei Partner Meeting, recaps the formation of the new pilots and initiatives within the three platforms.

2014: Year of Foundations | Evolution - 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 Magazine 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 Magazines' following significantly increased and Ei was recognized as a respected journalist. The IMPACT Magazine article, Ei 2016: A Year of RECOGNITION, gives an in-depth overview of accomplishments, completions, and recognition.

Ei Team at the Ei Exploration
of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger
2017: Year of Shifting Gears - in 2017 Ei announced Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, was a prime focus, replacing the prominent RR work. In addition, Ei Leadership experienced a changing of the guard and Ei welcomed new Strategic Allies. The IMPACT Magazine article, Happy 8th Birthday, Ei!, recaps the exciting year as Ei segued from the Era of RR to the Era of Regeneration.

2018: Year of Regeneration - in 2018 Ei welcomed new partnerships, participated in global events, revitalized the Ei site, and embarked on Ei Explorations. It was an action-packed year as Ei lived the new tagline Regeneration in ACTION! The IMPACT Magazine article, Happy 9th Birthday, Ei!, chronicles the action-packed year.

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.

Mission Accomplished - website relaunch
As a welcome to the Ei Era of Regeneration, the Ei site relaunched with a refreshed design featuring Ei Founder Holly Elmore's photography images. An updated navigation  reflects the current focus on the Soil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, Water Use | Toxicity, and Product Stewardship platforms.

Refreshed Ei site design featuring
Holly's photography
Ei endeavors considered complete via a sale, term expiration or simply mission accomplished are thoroughly documented in the Mission Accomplished section. Documentation of the important Ei Era of RR work is chronicled in the Mission Accomplished 46-page section within the following categories:
Ei Magazine articles related to each page's topic are listed on a sidebar. For meetings, tours, and conference presentations, the respective PPT presentations are available for download. Additionally, the Ei Milestones page is a monthly detail of prominent activities from the ZWZ launch to the current month, along with links to relevant website pages, magazine articles and other pertinent information.

The Mission Accomplished website section continues as a valuable industry resource. In many meetings throughout the year, Holly sent out Mission Accomplished web-page links as part of her follow-up action points.

ZWZ Ten-Year Anniversary
Ten years ago on February 10, 2009, the ZWZ launched at the acclaimed press conference hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) and led by Stanley Meiburg, then Acting Regional Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. The ZWZ propelled Atlanta into the global spotlight as THE forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost.

ZWZ Chair Laura Turner Seydel at the
Two-Yr Anniversary Press Conference
The national media loved the ZWZ! Within months of the launch-press conference the ZWZ were featured in a CNN Story, City Aims for Zero Waste. The story was featured on CNN's home page and aired during prime-time viewing in national and global markets. In the fall, the New York Times published the Nudging Recycling from Less Waste to None front-page article featuring the ZWZ.

At the 2009 GRACE - GRA Crystal of Excellence - Awards, Holly received the Innovator of the Year Award for the ZWZ formation and successes.

In February 2010, Ei was formed as the new home for the ZWZ. The Ei Speaking Engagement page details the plethora of conferences and other speaking engagements featuring the ZWZ along with accompanying PPT presentations.

At the ZWZ Two-Year Anniversary Press Conference, the NRA announced a national collaboration between the Ei | ZWZ and the NRA Conserve Program. In late September 2012, the NRA acquired the ZWZ program with intentions to expand the program nationally within the state-restaurant-association network. It was exciting news as the program could evolve and increase its impact within the depth of the NRA's educational, training and policy resources.

The RiA Magazine article, ZWZ Ten-Year Anniversary, chronicles the ZWZ launch, successes, and sale to the NRA.

Three-Step Straw Initiative
As plastic-straw-usage reduction gains high-profile media attention, Ei partnered with Ei Strategic Ally One More Generation (OMG) | One Less Straw (OLS) for the Three-Step Straw Initiative (TSSI) pre-launch. Beyond plastic-straw-usage reduction, TSSI addresses the straw content and end-of-life destination; the TSSI aligns with Ei Era of Regeneration Soil Health and Water Use | Toxicity platforms.

The TSSI includes the following steps:
• Step 1- REDUCE straw usage
• Step 2 – SHIFT to paper straws
• Step 3 – COMPOST used straws

OMG will encourage OLS participants to further decrease their straw-usage impact by joining the TSSI and shifting from plastic to paper straws. If there is food-waste collection for compost available, OLS participants are encouraged to engage in post-consumer food-waste collection. Thus, the paper straws contribute to local, quality compost versus another material filling up the landfills or worse the waterways.

GPS paper straw in
a margarita 
Ei-recruited participants are required to take the OLS pledge as their first TSSI step.

With perfect timing, Green Planet Straws joined the Ei Partner program to support the TSSI shift from plastic to paper straws. OLS participants proved that serving straws only upon request reduces overall straw consumption by 70 – 75%. Thus, the shift to paper straws is essentially cost-neutral as the usage reduction compensates for the higher paper-straw cost.

The TSSI is a perfect avenue for former ZWZ participants to take their sustainability commitment to the next level. For ZWZ participants, Step 3 – COMPOST is already in place. Thus, cost-neutral Steps 1 & 2 are an easy-to-implement endeavor.

The RiA Magazine article, Three Steps to Straw Integrity, substantiates the microplastic-pollution crisis and introduces the TSSI.

Founding TSSI Participants, Levy Restaurants - GWCCA and Levy Restaurants - State Farm Arena worked with Imperial Dade on carrying GPS paper straws and placed their first order in the late fall. With GPS straws available via Imperial Dade, Ei intends to embark on a TSSI campaign in early 2020 targeting ZWZ Participants and other foodservice-industry friends.

The TSSI is Ei's first steps in addressing micro and nanoplastics in our waterways, oceans, soils, and the human-food chain. TSSI Partner GPS is the financial catalyst for Ei’s important work.

Micro and nanoplastics in the soils
In less than seventy years, humans managed to infiltrate the Earth with microplastics and nanoplastics from discarded single-use and durable products in literally every nook and cranny. Recent research documented microplastics and nanoplastics in sites ranging from the arctic-snow caps to the depths of the oceans and everywhere in between.

Remnants from holiday decor
fragments into microplastics
With research validating microplastics in our waterways, oceans, drinking water, and atmosphere, it is reasonable to assume microplastics, and most likely nanoplastics, are prevalent in the Earth's soils. Yet to date there is minimal discussion let alone research on the impact of plastics on the soil ecosystem along with plant roots and fiber.

Over the summer Holly met with soil-research scientists at several prominent university departments of agriculture. At the meetings Holly garnered interest in exploring research projects on the impact of micro and nanoplastics in the soil ecosystem. Holly suggested two potential areas of research:
  1. Nanoplastic impact on the soil ecosystem including the various microbial communities, the plethora of soil life, and the potential segue into plant fiber.
  2. Potential use of fungus that feeds off of plastic to "clean-up" the plastic pollution in the soils. 
Concern: plastics often contain additives; when plastic is consumed (broken down into its elements) by the fungus, additives are in a "freed" state and may prove poisonous to soil life. Remember a fully synthetic polymer contains no molecules found in nature. Thus, there is concern plastics broken down to their elemental state may actually be more harmful due to additives.

Tradd & Ei Supporter Kathy
Kellogg Johnson @ the Exploration
Ei maintains a close relationship with renowned fungi scientist Tradd Cotter, Mushroom Mountain owner, and intends to bring Cotter into the research loop at the appropriate time. In October 2018, Ei hosted the empowering Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger, where Tradd welcomed the impressive group to Mushroom Mountain for a fascinating education session and facility tour.

Seeds for research related to plastic in the soils were planted during the Ei Exploration.

The October 2019 RiA article, Plastics: a double-edged sword, articulates plastics-history |development and includes prominent research documenting how every nook & cranny of the Earth is infiltrated with micro and nanoplastics.

Healthy-food school programs
During the final Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger session at the Clemson organic-student farm, Feed & Seed Chair Mary Hipp shared on the amazing healthy-food school programs at Spartanburg County Schools District 6 (SCSD6) as well as down the road 20+ miles at Greenville County Schools.

SCSD6 The Farm @ Cragmoor
Inspired, Holly traveled to Greenville | Spartanburg in May 2019 to meet the masterminds behind the healthy-food school programs and tour their respective operations. Mary was generous with her time, connections, and spirit as she hosted Holly for two-consecutive days of meetings and tours. Subsequently, Holly and Mary visited SCSD6's Farm @ Cragmoor to witness its transformation from the planning to operational stages.

In August, Mary introduced Holly to South Carolina Department of Education Director, Office of Health & Nutrition Ron Jones in Columbia. The two-hour meeting was inspiring and filled with synergies for future, important work.

The below RiA Magazine articles document the schools visits:
An absolutely delicious, healthy
lunch at Greenville County Schools
Ei intends to make appropriate introductions for potential grants to take the superior programs to next dimensions.

College-student mentoring
Throughout the year, several universities and organizations requested Holly to share her recycling-refinement and beyond expertise with student groups. 

Clemson clock tower
Via an introduction by Ei Environmental Advisor Laura Turner Seydel, Elise Kirby with Shepherd Center invited Holly to visit the facility to learn the current status of the recycling and sustainability practices. 

The second step was meeting with group of Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech) students whose class project was formulating an action plan to improve Shepherd's environmental footprint. As the semester closed, the students prepared an impressive PPT presentation for Shepherd management detailing their research along with solid recommendations.

Professor Christophe Darnault, Ph, D. at Clemson University requested Holly'd support for two student Biosystems-Engineering Capstone-Design Projects. The project topics aligned with Holly's expertise and connections: 
  • Site and Operations Redesign of Composting Facility for the City of Columbia
  • Utilization of Biosludge: Soil Fertilization & Energy Production
HONOR: at Christophe's invitation, Holly traveled to Clemson in early December to judge the Biosystems-Engineering Capstone-Design Projects Final Presentations.

Spelman Director of Facilities Art Frazier orchestrated a meeting with his intern and an environmental student group to discuss and strategize on campus-zero-waste initiatives. One of the meeting-action points is a 2020 visit to Kennesaw State University (KSU) Dining Services. At KSU, Gold-LEED Certified The Commons dining hall adheres to impressive zero-food and reduced-plastics practices and welcomes tours of their stellar facilities.

Ei Connects
Throughout 2019, Holly orchestrated Ei Connects meetings and tours. On February 26, 2019, CompostNow Co-Founder David Paull hosted Ei Founding Chair Scott Seydel and Holly on a tour of their impressive windrow food-waste-composting operations at the King of Crops Farm. 

Holly & David @ King of Crops
Photo credit: Scott Seydel
Scott and Holly use CompostNow’s residential food-waste collections services at their respective homes. It was nice to see the food waste’s destination. 

On May 9, 2019 Ei orchestrated sustainability tours of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) and Georgia World Congress Center Authority for Pattie Baker, alias “Sustainable Pattie.” The tours were research for Pattie’s recently announced Sustainability-in-Action bicycle tours in partnership with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta. The RiA Magazine article, Sustainability in ACTION garners a new life, at the speed of bike, gives an overview of the tours.

in June, Ei orchestrated introductions for long-time comrade in sustainability at Georgia Tech to KSU Hickory Grove Farm and KSU Dining Services. Synergies abounded during the tour and meeting between Georgia Tech and KSU. 

While Ga Tech excels in its waste & recycling program as well as grounds-maintenance practices, KSU is an industry hero in sustainable dining. The RiA Magazine article, Success is not static: evolution is required to create and sustain regeneration, gives an overview of the empowering tour and meeting.

A section of the Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes pictorial recaps of each of the above tours and meeting.
A Recycling Icon Retires
On October 31, 2019 Zero-Waste Icon Cindy Jackson retired from Georgia Tech as the Director of Waste & Recycling. Under Cindy's 22-year leadership, Ga Tech never succumbed to single-stream and the award-wining recycling program operated as a profit center.

The AMAZING Cindy Jackson
Photo credit: Scott Lutocka
From inception, Ei worked closely with Cindy over the years on various projects related to zero-waste practices and beyond. When Ei requested a tour of Ga Tech's award-winning recycling program, Cindy always answered "YES, of course!"

Cindy attended Annual Ei Partner Meetings and participated in other Atlanta-based activities, such as the 2015 Atlanta Ei Partner Tours.

In industry circles, Cindy is known as "The AMAZING Cindy Jackson" after Holly coined the term when Cindy arrived late to her first Ei Partner Meeting. Accurate, the name became the way to address Cindy!

In addition to Ga Tech VP Facilities Maintenance Chuck Rhode, Holly presented at Cindy's Retirement Celebration on October 25, 2019. Holly's presentation showcased why Cindy is indeed "The AMAZING Cindy Jackson!" and is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

The RiA Magazine article, The Legacy of the AMAZING Cindy Jackson, gives an overview of Cindy’s literally amazing professional accomplishments and ends with the October 25 retirement celebration. The Ei FB album, Cindy Jackson Retires, gives a pictorial recap of GA Tech | Ei interactions as well as images from the retirement celebration.

Lambda Alpha International
On May 1, 2019 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) hosted the Rio Piedras Professional Advisory Delegation (PAD) in partnership with the Fideicomiso para el Desarrollo de Río Piedras (FDRP).

Iglesia de La Milagrosa
within Rio Piedras
Around 50 LAI delegates attended the PAD to learn about Rio Piedras' history, challenges, impressive community assets and current revitalization plan. The PAD concluded with recommendations for revitalization-plan refinements and implementation-action points.

As a member of the LAI Global Executive Committee, Holly attended the educational and empowering day.

The RiA Magazine article, Rio Piedras: revitalizing beyond their wildest dreams, gives a synopsis of the PAD and Rio Piedras.; the Ei FB album, Rio Piedras Professional Advisory Delegation, is a pictorial recap of the walking tours and the formal PAD session.

In early November, the Austin LAI Chapter hosted the Fall 2019 Land Economics Weekend (LEW) with grand success. Over 100 attendees traveled from around the globe for the impressive two days of tours culminating with an Awards Banquet. Holly attended the pre-LEW business meetings and enjoyed the LEW festivities.

Each LEW day began with a presentation on Austin's economic landscape addressing historical contributions to current successes | challenges. Additionally, work-in-progress to harness the explosive growth with healthy outcomes was addressed and discussed.

During the day, the LEW Group visited prominent sites showcasing Austin's economic, social-conscious, and natural drivers. It was an invigorating visit to Austin. 

Downtown Austin view from
the Shoal Creek Trail
The IMPACT Magazine article, Austin: growth through redevelopment, gives an overview of the LEW activities; the Ei FB album, Austin Land Economics Weekend, is a pictorial recount of LEW activities through Holly's lens.

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.

Twice per year LAI 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 LEWs address wider international, national and regional issues and include project tours within the host city.

Gifts from the Heart
Deluxe HJ Treat Bag contents
Photo credit: Howard Connell
As 2019 unfolded into the holiday season, Holly kept a decades-long tradition of gifting sweet and savory treats prepared from the heart. The Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bag (HJ Treats) tradition dates back to 1985 when Holly still resided in the corporate world.

While cooking and baking, Holly infuses the HJ Treats with sacred-heart love. The energy infused within the 2019 HJ Treat Bags mirrored the below closing paragraphs in the previously mentioned Plastics: a double-edged sword article:
"Plastics gifted humanity with an evolution of manufacturing, farming and information technology. Life on planet Earth is much more comfortable and abundant from the benefit of these innovations.
Yet plastic pollution and its devastating ramifications threaten humanity's ability to continue as the Earth's dominant species. The seemingly magical gift of plastic came with a double-edged sword filled with the potential to destroy life as it is currently known on Earth. Negligent human action is responsible for a majority of the plastic pollution choking the Earth's life force.
It is time to shift perspectives from human-focused to life-focused and let the Earth show us how to heal the damage inflicted. Answers will come to those who live and take action from the heart."
Though the HJ Treat Bag gifting for 2019 is complete, the Divine inspiration to "live and take action from the heart" has eternal life.

The IMPACT Magazine article, Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bags: Inspiration to live from the Heart, gives the HJ Treats history along with contents for the 2019 bags.

2020: Year of Impact
With the Ei Year of Empowerment complete, 2020 is staged for the Year of IMPACT!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bags: Inspiration to live from the Heart

As the year unfolded into the holiday season, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore
kept a decades-long tradition of gifting sweet and savory treats prepared from the heart.

Beginning in the mid-80's while still working in the corporate arena, Holly embarked on hosting Tin Parties where friends were invited to her home on the first Sunday in December. At the festive gathering, friends were gifted a tin filled with home-baked sweets and treated to a buffet of savory dishes accompanied with beer and wine. The impetus was to gift a simple treat made from the heart, without the expectation of a return gift.

Olive-oil cakes fresh
out of the oven
Once Holly opened Executive Catering & Events (EC&E) in 1988 the Tin Parties were hosted at EC&E's offices, followed by Holly's restaurants, and eventually at prominent Atlanta-event facilities. Under the EC&E reign, the Tin Parties grew to over 500 guests and served as an opportunity for clients to taste their holiday-menu items.

The Tin Party buffet included over 200 pounds of protein (mahogany chicken, tequila-lime chicken, spiced Georgia-peach chicken & grilled flank steak marinated in a rosemary-mustard sauce), a 40-pound sea bass, six gallons of three different dips, a pasta station, starch items (stuffed baked new potatoes & wild-mushroom-risotto cakes), plenty of cheeses and cheese spreads, and 1,000 pieces of desserts. A DJ donated his talents for each Tin Party and there was an open beer and wine bar.

Four hundred tins filled with six-homemade treats awaited their recipients. Tins featuring a mini-pumpkin loaf, rum ball, small Holly's famous chocolate-chip cookie, and three additional delectables rotating each year. The tin design was the basis for the party's theme and sometimes Holly's outfit.

Prepped gravlax, ready to cure
An ingenious marketing vehicle, the Tin Parties nurtured in-depth client loyalty. Long before the internet, clients who changed professional positions mailed (via the U.S. Postal Service!) handwritten notes with updated contact information along with a reminder to keep them on the Tin Party-invitation list.

Though the Tin Parties cost well over $10,000 (in 1990's dollars and wholesale costs), the return on investment was always achieved within three months post event. Loyal customers often brought their friends who in turn segued into returning clients themselves.

Once EC&E's fifteen-year tenure was complete, Holly took a break from the holiday tradition.

Oops, when the first Tin Party invitation was printed with an annual number, the number was one-year ahead of reality. Thus, the final EC&E Tin Party in 2002 was actually the 19th event, yet the invite stated the 20th annual party.

Finale Tin Party image
To clear the record, Holly's godson David Fortuna suggested she host a finale Tin Party. On December 6, 2009, Holly's Tin Party Finale was held at dear friends Anna and Raymond Hsu's Silk Restaurant in Midtown.

The Zero Waste Zones launched earlier in the year by the Green Foodservice Alliance, an organization Holly formed within the Georgia Restaurant Association. Thus, the guest list was a cross-section of loyal EC&E friends and customers as well new colleagues instrumental to the February 2010 Ei formation. Rather than a tin, each attendee received a sweet-treat packet in a recyclable #1 plastic (PET) container.

Sweet 'n savory bags on tables
@ the 2015 Annual Partner Meeting
At Ei meetings Holly was known for coming with sweet-treat packets to "sweeten" the meeting outcome. In 2013, Ei Partner Joe Salpietra with Grease Lock Filters firmly stated he would only attend the Annual Ei Partner Meeting if Holly prepared sweet treats. Thus, beginning with the 2013 Annual Ei Partner meeting, Holly prepared sweet n' savory bags for each attending partner. A renewed Tin Party tradition emerged as the Ei Partner bags.

In June 2017 Ei declared the Era of Recycling Refinement "Mission Accomplished" and announced the Era of Regeneration launch. As they pertained to recycling-refinement issues, work, and accomplishments, Annual Partner Meetings were put on hold indefinitely.

Branded labels
As the 2017 holiday season neared, Holly branded her treat bags Holly Jolly Sweet 'n Savory Treat Bags (HJ Treat Bags), complete with a logo and labels. The Tin Party re-emerged in the format of HJ Treat Bags where Holly traveled around the city (or country!) to gift the treats in scheduled meetings.

While cooking and baking, Holly infuses the HJ Treats with sacred-heart love. Archangel Michael and his team oversee the entire process from ingredient purchases, treat preparation, bag-paraphernalia purchases, the HJ Treat Bags-delivery schedule, bag assembly, and deliveries. It is a tedious, time-consuming process that requires Divine intervention to accomplish in the physical dimension.

Thanksgiving week is dedicated to prep work, though some items are made in the summer with fresh produce; December is earmarked for bag assembly and gifting. In 2019 twice as many bags were gifted as in the prior two years with an exponential increase in "living in the heart" inspiration shared.

The energy infused within the 2019 HJ Treat Bags mirrored the below closing paragraphs in the Regeneration in ACTION Magazine October 2019 article, Plastics: a double-edged sword:
Plastics gifted humanity with an evolution of manufacturing, farming and information technology. Life on planet Earth is much more comfortable and abundant from the benefit of these innovations. 
Yet plastic pollution and its devastating ramifications threaten humanity's ability to continue as the Earth's dominant species. The seemingly magical gift of plastic came with a double-edged sword filled with the potential to destroy life as it is currently known on Earth. Negligent human action is responsible for a majority of the plastic pollution choking the Earth's life force.
It is time to shift perspectives from human-focused to life-focused and let the Earth show us how to heal the damage inflicted. Answers will come to those who live and take action from the heart.
Over 100 2019 HJ Treat Bags, including 14 ultra-deluxe, 17 deluxe, 15 standard on steroids, 29 standard and 25 cookie packets, were gifted to Holly's | Ei's friends with inspiration to live and take action from the heart. In general, Holly spent an hour to two hours with each recipient to catch-up and share the Divine intention within the gift.

Ultra-deluxe HJ Treat Bag
photo credit: Howard Connell
A standard HJ Treat Bag included a cookie packet (oatmeal bar with cranberry, port syrup, triple ginger sparkler cookie (ground, fresh and crystallized ginger), and molasses, ginger & cardamon cookie), sugar and spice pecans, house-made brandy, salted caramel sauce, and a mini pumpkin loaf (Holly started baking the loaves in 1981).

For the deluxe bags an array of the following items were included: housemade gravlax with mustard-dill sauce, balsamic-fig jam, garlic confit, Holly's house salt (fennel & sea salt), lemon curd, mint pesto, toasted pecan, sage & orange pesto finished with truffle oil, Kahlua fudge bites and mini cakes (chocolate mousse cake, ginger-pound cake and olive-oil cake.)

Though the HJ Treat Bag gifting for 2019 is complete, the Divine inspiration to "live and take action from the heart" has eternal life.