Re: Office Behavior re Energy & Water
2010-12-14 14:38:17 UTC
Last year we did a big energy use reduction campaign for our employees. Everyone in the building works for an environmental assistance and regulatory agency, so were highly motivated. We don't own the building so we made a deal with our landlord that he would do what he could to improve the building envelope and we would work on employee actions to reduce energy use and we would split the money saved. We focused on 3 main behaviors; turning off our monitors, closing the blinds and turning off stuff when not in use such as lights above the desks, rechargers, and the like. We are not allowed to have space heaters or individual coffee pots at our desk for safety reasons but we ultimately wanted to get rid of all the personal 'dorm' fridges around the building. We knew that would be controversial so we did not start there.
In good CBSM fashion, we surveyed the staff about barriers to the behaviors we wanted. It was mostly 'I forget'. We did find that some of the blinds didn't work and sometimes the cords weren't long enough etc. People also thought that if their computer was off the monitor must be too. I can send you the survey and results if you are interested.
Once armed with data we used commitment, prompts, periodic updates and the personal touch to get people to do our focus behaviors. Our IT folks put a pop-up window on all the computers when people log out to remind them to turn off their monitor. There were signs on the floors to remind people to turn stuff off. We had to change it up though, because people got habituated to the reminders. We sent out occasional updates with the amount of energy we were saving and had an on-line commitment form people could use.
After less than a year we had saved over $9,000. We used part of the proceeds to purchase new, energy efficient fridges for the break rooms and then warned people they would be required to get rid of the personal fridges by June 30th. It was not as big a fight as we anticipated and we allowed some for storage of medical supplies.
As it gets cold here, we will need to reinvigorate our campaign and we will be going for some additional actions like removing bulbs by the windows and turning on the lights later etc.
If you have any questions please contact me,
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Re: Green Procurement Language in Municipal Code
2009-07-15 11:39:24 UTC
Hi Anne Marie,
The state of Minnesota has specs it uses as do many of the cities/townships in the state. You can find out more at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/oea/epp/criteria.cfm
There are aslo links there to federal standards which might be useful. Good luck!
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Re: Encouraging People to use Native Plants in their Gardens
2009-06-04 09:37:32 UTC
The state of Minnesota has been encouraging the use of native plants in back yard landscaping and public landscaping for about 15 years now. As with any new idea it was hard going at first but picked up speed with public acceptance. Now native plant nurseries can't keep them in stock. I have included a link to the Department of Natural Resources site which is full of very practical information.
My own experience with my gardens is that as with any type of gardening you need to do a little research to figure out what will work in your specific growing conditions.
Even a small plot will attract very different bugs, birds, and small animals than a typical urban/suburban landscape.
Once established true native plants will do very well and crowd out weeds and do well in dry conditions but native gardens take water and weeding at first.
People here are quite used to native gardens now but in the beginning you need to have "cues of caring". That is, you need to let people know that this is a intentional garden not a patch of weeds. So signs, small fences or edgings, plant identification signs or educational pieces let people know what you are doing.
This goes back to weeding. When a community group planted native gardens around our local library about 12 years ago, we made sure there were no dandelions in sight. People may not have known what a Spiderwort lily was but they sure know what a dandelion looks like, any weeds and people are put off.
If you can get public entities to use native plants you can really make some headway. Our city, county , state parks departments use native plants and have become great advocates. They have also learned practical lessons that they pass on. Out Department of Transportation for example, uses native plants along highways and right-of-ways.
Here is the link: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/gardens/nativeplants/index.html
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