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A Healthy Environment for Ideas

2010 November 5

By Rachel Bassler

When I was little, every student in my class was given a sapling to plant for Earth Day. I planted mine in my back yard, and it took root. It’s been 15 years now, and it’s healthy, strong, and growing.

A big idea starts the same way: you plant the seed, nurture it, and give it room to grow. I recently got a look at some ideas that could become giants during the Innovations WorkGroup (IWG) meeting in Seattle.

The IWG meets to select innovative projects in land management that will receive funding through EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. To date, more than 85 projects have been funded, which have dealt with innovative approaches to home deconstruction, energy production through methane capture, and brownfields reuse.

I got a good look at some of the ideas at the meeting. One of the most interesting looked at the problem of Alaskan open dump contamination in the face of climate change-induced permafrost reductions. With no permafrost, hundreds of dumps are directly contaminating vital drinking water sources. This project will create new, green jobs for villagers to monitor contaminants.

Another project involved the City of Charleston, South Carolina which is currently faced with the challenge of revitalizing a blighted downtown area without demolishing underutilized or abandoned buildings. The project will test the viability of creating a vertical farm from an abandoned parking lot (which pioneers an approach to building a green roof by capturing rain water to use as feed for a nearby farm) and an energy management system. The project also promotes green building technologies and will reduce landfill waste.

In the end, 11 projects were selected for funding. These projects won’t revolutionize environmental protection all by themselves, but by demonstrating success on a small scale, they have the potential to start something big. It will be exciting to see what these ideas grow into, and I’m glad I was there when the seed was planted.

About the author: Rachel Bassler is a Management and Program Assistant in the STEP program, in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. She has been with EPA over a year and is working toward her Master’s at George Washington University in Washington, DC .

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. Richard Kanak permalink
    November 5, 2010

    This article creates a warm fuzzy for the EPA.
    thank you

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Are Any Ideas Healthy Environment in My Country ?

    Do you know eruptions impacts my Volcano of Merapi ? Hundreds of Martyr was die, there are crash ecological and failure in transportation and infrastructures. Almost people, here, just seeing by personifications, mythological, or something regrets to anything. Government doesn’t ideas, just evacuate. People panics everywhere, but no ideas. Are any ideas healthy environment in my country?

  3. Mr.Takaphan Jaruhungsin permalink
    November 7, 2010

    Dear sir, EPA president.

    Environment regardless of any community in the world.
    Is clean and safe, has very much%.
    Measure from 0 up to 100 good health will closely
    Project tranquility is gradually to a long-term project.
    Do not rush rush. Are inadequate to fund about financial difficulty.
    Use it to pay expenses associated with the mouth people, employment.

    Best wishes

    Mr.Takaphan Jaruhungsin
    7 November 2010

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 7, 2010

    These are the kind of ideas it will take to improve the climate change situation. It will also take vehicles powered by hydrogen and/or electric powered engines. Powerplants that use transparent photovoltaic cells instead of diesel or coal, carbon banking and similar processes. I am encouraged that California voters beat back a major effort by out of state corporate interests to kill the state’s pioneering climate change act AB32. AB32 will promote the kinds of projects covered in the article and others and put us on the road to the new green economy. Maybe this is the reason why out of state oil interests thought so hard against AB32: a new green economy to replace the 19th and 20th century dirty economy would reduced oil and coal corporate profits. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Timonie Hood permalink
    November 8, 2010

    I participated on the Innovations Workgroup this year, and it was really exciting to learn about game-changing innovations from across the nation.

    Read more about past and current innovations pilots at:

    Thanks Rachel!

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