Southeast Green - Business depends on the environment and the environment depends on business

Zero Waste in ACTION

an Elemental Impact on-line magazine
  1. Beyond Sustainability: Regenerative Solutions
    Over the past decade, sustainability moved from a buzz word to a movement to a culture within leading communities, universities and businesses. Significant strides were made in zero waste practices, renewable energy technology, and reduced carbon | water footprints. Yet the glaciers continue to melt, the ocean acidification levels are increasing, and desertification is escalating.

    A Pending Crisis
    Abandoned farmstead in
    American Dust Bowl, Oklahoma
    photo courtesy of 
    According to a senior United Nations official, there are only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues at current levels. In a Scientific American article, Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, states,"We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming."

    A dangerous dilemma is brewing with an increasing global population and a diminishing ability to produce food.

    In addition, plankton is perishing at alarming rates due to ocean acidification and warmer water temperatures. Marine plant life (phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton) photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars for energy - generates the vast majority of atmospheric oxygen.

    The December 2015 Science Daily Failing phytoplankton, failing oxygen: Global warming disaster could suffocate life on planet Earth article states:
    "About two-thirds of the planet's total atmospheric oxygen is produced by ocean phytoplankton -- and therefore cessation would result in the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale. This would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans."
    Is sustainability enough to stave off the building crisis of the diminishing food and oxygen supply?

    In 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation pioneered the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) program; the 100RC is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

    Resilient Atlanta
    Strategy Launch
    photo courtesy of City of Atlanta
    The City of Atlanta was named a 100RC member in 2016. Subsequently, the Office of Sustainability evolved into the Office of Resilience. As a cosmopolitan city with the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters in the nation, Atlanta is challenged with an overtaxed transportation network. 

    A lack of affordable transportation options segues into challenges with food access for the city's underserved population. Understanding the imperative role food access plays in a resilient city, the Director of Urban Agriculture position supports urban food production, assist with brownfield redevelopment, and help community members seeking to establish and sustain community gardens, farmers markets, and food hubs.

    Is resilience enough to stave off the encroaching food and oxygen crisis?

    Regenerative Solutions
    To avoid a doom and gloom perspective, it is important to simplify the scenario and discover regenerative solutions. Beyond sustainability and resilience, regeneration focuses on rebuilding and restoring nature's perfect system.

    Kiss the Ground's empowering four-minute video, The Soil Story, states the problem and the solution are a matter of balance. Simply: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and ocean pools. To restore balance, excess carbon must transfer to the fossil, biosphere and/or soil pools. The ZWA Blog article, Carbon Crisis: simply a matter of balance, explains the carbon cycles and the current out-of-balance scenario.

    The Soil Story introduces regenerative agriculture | landscape practices as a solution for restoring the soil ecosystem. Healthy, alive soil nurtures plants with strong, deep root systems; the plants "pump" carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil. In addition, healthy plants grown in alive soil produce abundant, nutritious food.

    Once the atmospheric carbon reduces to a certain threshold, the oceans will release carbon into the atmosphere, reversing ocean acidification. Thus, marine plant life once again thrives, generating ample oxygen into the atmosphere.

    Thus, soil regeneration addresses the food and oxygen components of the pending crisis.

    In The Compost Story video, the sequel to The Soil Story, compost is introduced as a key ingredient in the soil regeneration recipe.

    Kiss the Ground, the book
    On the surface, the Industrial Revolution introduction of fossil fuel burning seems the main culprit in the out-of-balance carbon scenario. Yet a deeper dive, reveals a web of intertwined human activities set the foundation for the pending crisis.

    In the recently released Kiss the Ground (KTG), how the food you eat can reverse climate change, heal your body and ultimately save the world book by Josh Tickell, the well-searched chapters dive deep into the destruction of the Earth's soils. 

    Before industrial agriculture equipment was introduced to commercial farming, the soils were tilled with hand tools (shovels, hoes, picks, etc.) or with draft-animal-powered equipment. Simply, tilling is turning over and breaking up the soil. By its intent, tilling destroys the soil infrastructure built and maintained by mycorrhizal fungi network and results in degraded, unhealthy soil. 

    Without the soil infrastructure designed to hold moisture and nurture roots, plants lack the necessary nutrients to produce abundant, healthy crop yields. Plant immune systems weaken often resulting in disease and insect infiltration. 

    Thus, the introduction of synthetic fertilizers along with the "cides" - herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides. The KTG "Nazis and Nitrogen" chapter chronicles the development of common agrochemical practices from Nazi chemical warfare. It is chilling to realize the chemical compounds designed to kill humans are the foundation of the products routinely used in food production.

    In an effort to separate native American Indians from their lifeblood, the U.S. government embarked on a massive buffalo massacre operation in the 1800's. Effective, the estimated 20 - 30 million buffalo population that once dominated North America was reduced to just over 1,000 by 1889. 

    Buffalo (bison) herd grazing
    photo courtesy of American Expedition
    Tragic on many levels, the buffalo massacre was the first step in the desertification of once lush American prairies. As discussed in the KTG "The Buffalo Bank Account" chapter, the buffalo grazing patterns were integral to prairie grassland health. Manure is nature's fertilizer and nutrition for the soil's prolific life forms. 

    Another strong contributor to prairie desertification was the introduction of monocrop farms where the same crop is grown year after year on the same soil with no plant species rotation. Fallow fields left barren with no crop cover contribute to the deterioration of soil health. Vibrant soil ecosystems thrive on diversity and ensure the top soils are covered with a variety of plants.

    Initiated in the 1930's, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) is a wholly own government corporation managed by the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As presented in KTG, the FCIC requires farmers to grow corn, soybeans, wheat and|or cotton from GMO seeds and employ agrochemical practices to qualify for the insurance program. Though they may not agree with the practices, many farmers are not willing to leave the FCIC safety net. Thus, the FCIC contributes to the death of the nation's soil. 

    Soil Regeneration Success
    The KTG "Bismark or Bust" chapter introduces Gabe Brown of Brown's Ranch, regenerative landscaping for a sustainable future. At his 5,000-acre farm networked with owned and leased land, Gabe and his son Paul use regenerative agriculture practices with amazing results. Since 1993 Brown's Ranch is a no-till farm and uses a diverse crop strategy with cover and companion crops. An ever-evolving grazing strategy rests and rejuvenates the soil.

    Gabe & Paul Brown
    showcasing their healthy soil
    photo courtesy of Brown's Ranch
    No GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or glyphosate are used on the farm. The Browns eliminated synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides use and only employ a minimum amount of herbicides.

    Beyond restoring the soil, the farm produces abundant, healthy food, makes a solid profit, and provides a higher quality of life for the Browns. The "Bismark or Bust" chapter is an inspiring chapter filled with hope of what can be done.

    Once a solution for the pending food | oxygen crisis is established, Josh shifts gears to creating a viable market for food produced with regenerative farming practices. Engaging the power of consumer demand, readers are encouraged to purchase healthy food that regenerates their health while restoring carbon cycle balance. Simple supply | demand economics will build strong markets for regenerative agriculture products.

    In the final chapter, "The Regenerative Revolution," a wide array of examples for practical personal action is provided to participate in the Regenerative Revolution.

    KTG is a must-read book for those concerned about the future of humanity and earthly life as we know it. The book is an easy, engaging read with personal anecdotes that build a connection with Josh. With its well-orchestrated media launch, KTG is a powerful catalyst to ignite the Regenerative Revolution.

    Ei Soil Health Focus
    In July Elemental Impact (Ei) announced Soil Health, regenerating life's foundation, is the primary ongoing focus. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are: 

    With prominent corporate and government connections, Ei intends to promote the use of regenerative landscape practices on corporate complexes, college | university campuses, highway medians | shoulders, airport land surrounding runways, parks, and other available urban lands. Collectively, the regenerative landscaped areas are destined to serve as urban carbon sinks and aid in restoring the carbon cycle balance.

    The GWCC Team with the
    Hickory Grove Farm management
    On July 31 Ei Founder Holly Elmore hosted the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC ) team on an empowering Kennesaw State University (KSU) Hickory Grove Farm tour to learn about regenerative agriculture practices. Since the tour, GWCC Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer worked with Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use food produced in the employee dining facility.

    Hickory Grove Farm Manager Michael Blackwall & KSU Professor Jorge Perez educated on regenerative agriculture practices along with crop choice advice; Steve shared his extensive horticulture expertise, especially pertaining to plant | tree identification on the farm's old growth forest areas.

    The ZWA Blog article, The Power of Tours, features the July Hickory Grove Farm tour; farm tour photos are included in the Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality.

    A seven-page, multiple-article feature, An Icon in Sustainability and Hickory Grove Farm: Regenerative Agriculture Revives Soils & Local Ecosystems, in the Southern Farm & Garden fall issue gives an overview of KSU's stellar sustainability commitment at the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability & Hospitality, The Commons (KSU’s Gold LEED certified dining hall), and Hickory Grove Farm. Holly provided the photographs and copy for the publication feature.

    In September Kiss the Ground joined the Ei Strategic Ally program. With abundant synergies, Kiss the Ground Co-Founder Finian Makepeace is the lead panelist on the Ei-Hosted panel Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils at the January 2018 U.S. Composting Council Conference. The ZWA Blog article, Atlanta Hosts U.S. Composting Council Conference, includes an overview of the prominent panel.

    The time is NOW to move beyond sustainability | resilience and embrace regenerative solutions that return the carbon cycles to a healthy, balanced state. The food and oxygen crisis is real and grounded in solid scientific research. To survive, wildlife (including humans) must eat and breath oxygen - starvation and slow suffocation are painful deaths!

    Regenerative solutions are simple and align with nature's perfect systems. It is time for humans to stop attempts to "outsmart Mother Nature" and relax into a symbiotic relationship with the planet.
  2. Atlanta Hosts U.S. Composting Council Conference
    On January 22 - 25, 2018 Atlanta hosts the 26th Annual U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Conference & Tradeshow at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. As a pioneer in the commercial collection of collection for compost via the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch, Atlanta is an ideal host for the empowering conference. 

    The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, a Founding ZWZ Participant, boasts an embedded sustainability culture, including their food waste collection for compost program.

    In a formal statement, the City of Atlanta, Mayor's Office of Resilience Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake welcomes the conference to Atlanta:
    “The City of Atlanta and the Mayor’s Office of Resilience welcome the USCC Conference to Atlanta for the first time in January 2018. Composting is a critical part of the City’s strategy to address food residuals and yard trimmings, the need for soil amendments for local urban farms, and to combat climate change.”
    Mercedes-Benz Stadium
    With a special focus on sports/events organics recycling and green infrastructure, the 2018 conference theme is GAME ON! Building Sustainable Communities. In alignment with the theme, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager and Green Sports Alliance Chair, Scott Jenkins is the conference opening plenary speaker.

    Three years prior to the MBS summer 2017 opening, Atlanta Falcons owner AMB Sports + Entertainment brought Scott to Atlanta to ensure the stadium was designed and built to impeccable sustainability standards. SUCCESS: MBS is on target to achieve LEED Platinum certification!!!

    Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Scott brought Seattle's Safeco Field to zero waste in his role as Vice-President Ballpark Operations. A food waste collection for compost program, complete with compostable food & beverage packaging, was integral to the ballpark's success.

    During the pre-conference activities, MBS tours are offered in the morning and afternoon.

    In addition to the MBS tours, the Sustainability in Action: Atlanta's Green Infrastructure bus tour showcases Atlanta's diverse application of green infrastructure techniques. A sampling of tour stops include:
    • Atlanta City Hall Green Roof - built as a pilot program in 2003, the City of Atlanta green roof is the first municipal green roof in the Southeast. The intention was to raise awareness and demonstrate how green roofs may enhance Atlanta’s urban landscape.
    • Ponce City Market - opened in 2015, Ponce City Market is located in the historic Sears, Roebuck and Co. warehouse & store, which operated from 1927 - 1987. With local and national retail anchors, restaurants, a food hall, offices, and residential units, the 2.1 million-square-foot building on 16 acres is one of the largest by volume multi-use complexes in the Southeast U.S. 
    • Southface Energy Institute - the Southface headquarters building uses sustainable technologies to reduce energy, water, and waste, including its rooftop garden and an invessel composting system.
    Atlanta-based Elemental Impact (Ei) is a conference media partner. In addition Ei Founder Holly Elmore moderates the Ei-hosted Compost's Empowering Role in Sustainable Soils panel discussion:
    Soil is the foundation of life. Healthy, vibrant soil eco-systems are the building blocks for healthy communities with effective stormwater management programs, solid erosion control systems, and nutritious urban food production. … and compost feeds the soil eco-systems!
    Learn from industry experts about compost’s empowering role in carbon sequestration | climate change, soil management systems grounded in solid economics, and green urban infrastructure.
    The prominent panelists and their respective topics are:
    • The Compost Story – Finian Makepeace, Kiss the Ground Co-Founder
    • Soil Life: beyond dirt! – Kathy Kellogg Johnson, Kellogg Garden Products, Director of Sustainability & Chairman of the Board
    • Soils Strategies for the Urban Environment – Wayne King, Sr., ERTH Products CEO
    • Building Green: Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Approach – Cory Rayburn, City of Atlanta Watershed Manager
    Joe Lamp'l of Growing a Greener
    World with Kathy @ Laura's luncheon
    Environmental activist Laura Turner Seydel, Captain Planet Foundation Chair, is the conference closing keynote speaker. In August, Laura hosted a powerful Sustainable Soils luncheon at the EcoManor, her Atlanta LEED-certified home. Though the program format was discussion-based, Kathy Kellogg Johnson gave an informal presentation. The important role compost plays in sustainable soils was intertwined throughout the luncheon discussion. Future plans include reconvening the powerful, diverse group on a regular basis within the auspice of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic.

    Beyond Atlanta's strong influence, the stellar conference program has a wide range of presentation topics related to the compost manufacturing industry. A sampling of topics includes: Commerical Organics Diversion Program Development, Cultivating Community Composting, Composting Process Improvements, Collecting Organics at Events & Venues, Compost Quality Updates, Minimizing Contamination in Organics Collection, Improving the Bottomline, and much more.

    In addition to the popular tours, pre-conference activities include a plethora of half and full-day workshops led by respected industry experts. The conference tradeshow exhibitors are ready for on-the-spot education. Post-conference, Dekalb County Landfill & Compost Facility hosts the annual Equipment Show and Demonstrations.

    Plan to join the nation's largest gathering of compost industry professionals at the 2018 GAME ON! Building Sustainable Communities USCC Conference & Tradeshow.

    Conference REGISTRATION in open! Westin Peachtree Hotel rooms are available, yet the conference block is limited. See you in Atlanta this January!
  3. Collaboration + Culture = Sustainability Success
    On October 24 Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech) hosted the first annual Facilities Sustainability Forum to an enthusiastic audience from the university and beyond.

    Within his welcoming remarks, Ga Tech Vice-President Facilities Management Chuck Rhodes educated on Ga Tech's strong sustainability commitment and impressive accomplishments. Most importantly, Chuck expressed his support for Ga Tech's continued sustainability leadership by building on existing programs and introducing new endeavors.

    Elemental Impact
    Following Chuck, Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore presented as the forum featured speaker. Within her opening remarks, Holly shared the long-term, powerful Ga Tech | Ei relationship dating back to the Zero Waste Zones launched in 2009. Ga Tech Associate Director, Office of Solid Waste Management & Recycling Cindy Jackson attends the Annual Ei Partner Meetings and joined the 2014 Atlanta Ei Partner Tours.

    In industry circles, Holly refers to Cindy as the AMAZING Cindy Jackson!

    There are many layers to the AMAZING aspect of Cindy Jackson, each indicative of Ga Tech's profound sustainability commitment and award-winning accomplishments. Thus, in essence, the reference is to the AMAZING Ga Tech facilities department management.

    Clean, student-separated
    As a recycling industry pioneer, Ga Tech received early national awards: American Forest & Paper Association 2008 University Recycling Award and the National Recycling Coalition 2008 Best Overall Recycling, Outstanding College or University Program Award.

    Most importantly from a recycling perspective, the Ga Tech Solid Waste & Recycling Department never succumbed to single-stream recycling. During her presentation, Holly explained single-stream recycling increases "diversion rates" yet decreases actual recycling due to contaminated material streams. Diversion rates most often refer to the first stop after collection versus the material's final destination.

    Supported by in-depth research, industry reports state single-stream recycling generally results in 25%+  of collected material destined for the landfill | incinerator due to contamination. 

    Under Cindy's oversight, Ga Tech boasts incredibly clean, source-separated streams; clean material equates to valuable material sold in local markets as manufacturing raw material. Ga Tech students take their recycling seriously and source-separate items in accordance with the clear bin signage.

    In addition to Ga Tech's program, Holly shared other sustainability successes within the Southeast:
    Throughout her presentation, Holly emphasized two keys to successful sustainability programs: 1> collaboration within the organization, the community and with purveyors and 2> a sustainability culture driven by top management. The themes were reinforced throughout the forum program.

    In her closing remarks, Holly shared Ei's new primary focus is Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life. Recycling Refinement expertise gained over the years is available via HEC Zero Waste Consulting.

    Ga Tech Building Services
    GA Tech renewblel cleaning in action
    photo courtesy of Ga Tech
    Following Holly, Ga Tech Associate Director, Building Services Tommy Little educated on their impressive, award-winning renewable cleaning practices. Renewable cleaning is beyond green cleaning and the safest, healthiest way to maintain indoor environments.

    Over the years, Ga Tech was recognized by The National Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, Green Cleaning Award for American Schools & Universities, Princeton Review, and The National Wildlife Federation for their renewable green cleaning. In addition, Ga Tech achieved independent certification under the Green Seal GS-42 Green Cleaning Standard.

    At the foundation of Ga Tech's renewable cleaning program is the GenEon cleaning system supported by SouthEast Link, a local custodial supply company dedicated to renewable cleaning programs and systems. 

    Tommy during a cleaning demo
    for President Peterson & Cabinet
    photo courtesy of Ga Tech
    After a two-year evaluation, Ga Tech transitioned cleaning and disinfecting | sanitizing solutions to GenEon Technologies ECA products. ECA (electrical chemical activation) combines salted water with an electrical charge. By varying the mineral catalysts, the GenEon system produces three distinct products: sanitizer | disinfectant | deodorizer, glass & general purpose cleaner, and heavy-duty cleaner | degreaser.

    ECA cleaning products are generated on-site, Thus, transportation carbon footprints and cleaning supply packaging associated with mainstream janitorial systems are reduced. Supply inventory is drastically reduced and chemical-related injuries are eliminated.

    Tommy and his team performed extensive, detailed testing on the ECA system effectiveness, at visual and microbial levels. The results were impressive!
    Over nine years, Ga Tech reduced their on-campus cleaning chemicals by 90.7%! 
    Beyond the tremendous cost-savings experienced with the ECA cleaning program, according to Tommy, "Best of all ...MY STAFF LOVES IT!!" Why does the Ga Tech building services staff love the program? Here a few reasons:
    • The cleaners work as well or better than prior cleaners.
    • Solutions do not dry out hands or cause respiratory problems.
    • Sanitizers | disinfectants actually eliminate odors.
    • The system portability - solutions may be made anywhere on campus.
    Kudos to Tommy for taking the time and energy to implement a cleaning system that makes Ga Tech a healthier campus and improves the bottom line!

    Solid Waste Management & Recycling
    Ga Tech Recycling Logo
    The AMAZING Cindy Jackson presented on Turning Trash into a Resource. To set the stage for her empowering presentation, Cindy shared the department's mission:
    • Encourage and expand recycling opportunities.
    • Develop waste diversion and reuse programs.
    • Promote efforts to decrease the amount of waste produced on campus. 
    • Encourage an environmentally conscious campus community. 
    As established in Holly's session, a culture committed to sustainability driven by top management is key to program success. GA Tech President G.P. Bud Peterson endorses the recycling program with the following statement:
    “We in the Carnegie building joined the AWARE program in 2009. It is a simple and effective waste minimization initiative that enables Georgia Tech to use our resources more efficiently. I support the campus-wide implementation of this program and encourage your active participation.”
    The AWARE Program (Actively Working to Achieve Resource Efficiency) is an innovative waste minimization program implemented in ten campus buildings.

    Tom, Tim & Tiny
    In the AWARE buildings, each workstation is equipped with three interconnected waste | recycling receptacles. Custodians do not service these containers. It is each employee's responsibility to empty his or her containers into larger bins located within the building. To maintain a sense of humor, the bins are named Tom (big blue bin for paper only), Toni (side blue bin for aluminum & plastic), and Teeny (small side black bin for trash).

    With top management support, Cindy uses clever, consistent communication to the students, administration and campus guests. The public relations | marketing plan consists of an active Ga Tech Recycling website page, program promotional tables at campus events, the Recycling Buzz, because we care monthly newsletter, and clear, consistent recycling signage.

    Ga Tech Game Day Recycling celebrates ten years of success! Below are some 10-year program highlights:
    • 3 million football fans attended Ga Tech games.
    • 1,300+ volunteers supported the Game Day Recycling program.
    • 198+ tons of collected material.
    • 30% game day trash diversion achieved.
    Student move-in and out are biannual events with tremendous opportunity for material recovery, including cardboard, clothing, non-perishable food, household items, and clothing. The Ga Tech recycling team harnesses the opportunity with an organized system including designated areas for the various materials.

    A second theme established in Holly's session is collaboration is key for success. In 1998 Cindy founded the first annual Earth Day as a vehicle to educate students, faculty, and administration staff on recycling and other sustainability endeavors. Earth Day serves as a vehicle to develop community participation, especially among the students and alumni. Recently, the Student Alumni Association presented Campus Recycling with more than $20,000 through its Gift to Tech program. 

    Recycling alcove in the
    Klaus Building
    As a class project, students designed and painted cool decor in the Klaus Advanced Computing Building recycling alcoves. The designs ranged from educational (Ecosystems - Ecodangers) to whimsical, clever (The Lorax by Dr. Seuss) to communicate the importance of recycling valuable materials.

    Always striving to improve Ga Tech recycling, Cindy ended her presentation with an announcement of a composting pilot underway for building restroom paper towels.

    Landscape Services
    Klaus Building
    photo courtesy of Ga Tech
    In his How Tree Campus USA Program Accelerated Environmental Stewardship at Georgia Tech presentation, Ga Tech Associate Director, Landscape Services Hyacinth Ide continued with another forum theme: Ga Tech award-winning programs! 

    In addition to the prestigious Tree Campus USA designation, Ga Tech Landscape Services received awards | recognition from the following organizations: GIS Tree Inventory, Professional Grounds Management Society, Georgia Urban Forest Council, Campus Arboretum, and Bee Campus USA.

    The Landscape Services Department is charged with the maintenance of both the landscape and hardscape, including the 12,000 trees on campus. Department Mission: 
    Enable Georgia Tech to achieve its goal of environmental sustainability by maintaining an integrated, ecologically-based landscape and open space system that serves as a beautiful, attractive and safe campus environment where students, faculty, staff, and visitors can enjoy, live, work and study in comfort.
    Located on 426 acres, Ga Tech consists of  312.5 landscaped acres, 110 building acres, and 3.5 naturalized acres. 

    In 2004, Ga Tech established The Campus Landscape Master Plan. Updated in 2006 and 2010, the Landscape Master Plan Objectives are:
    • To increase campus tree canopy to a minimum of 55%.
    • To increase campus woodland coverage to 22%.
    • To use predominately native plants or ecologically appropriate to this region for planting.
    • To increase biodiversity in the plant population.
    • To reduce stormwater discharge into the Atlanta sewer system.
    In recognition of their excellent plan, Ga Tech’s 2009 Tree Care Plan is used as a sample within the Tree Campus USA application procedures. Within the Tree Campus USA criteria, an annual budget of $3 per student must be dedicated to campus trees. With 27,000 students, Ga Tech's requirement is $81,000; Ga Tech's current expenditure is $642,320.

    2014 Ga Tech Campus
    Tree Care Plan
    photo courtesy of Ga Tech
    On December 15, 2015, Ga Tech was recognized as the second university in the nation certified by the Bee Campus USA program. Supporting the certification, the GIS Tree Inventory identified campus pollinator species and issued a guide for future plantings.

    In alignment with the Ga Tech recycling culture, the landscape department reuses cut trees where practical, grinds unusable debris into wood chips and composts campus leaves for maintenance and planting programs.

    The Tree Campus Advisory Committee, required within the Tree Campus USA criteria, continues the forum themes of collaboration is key for success and the importance of campus culture. Bringing together university faculty from various departments, engaged students, and campus staff together, the committee fosters collaboration and instills a campus tree-oriented culture.

    Panel Discussion
    The forum concluded with an interactive panel discussion moderated by Ga Tech Campus Recycling Coordinator Maria Linderoth. Panelists included Associate Director, GA Tech Facilities Management Gary Jelin, Co-Chair, Facilities Sustainability Committee | Ga Tech Facilities Management Registered Architect II Maria Del Mar Celallos, Ga Tech Energy Manager Ben Mason and Holly. 

    Gary is the lead on the Ga Tech Living Building design with strong support by Maria and his internal and external teams; the Living Building Challenge is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. With the launch around the corner, the Living Building design was the predominant panel topic. 

    Ga Tech Living Building
    design rendering
    photo courtesy of Ga Tech
    According to the International Future Living Institute site, living buildings give more than they take, creating a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them. The Living Building Challenge includes seven performance areas called petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health + Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Certification is based on actual performance over twelve consecutive months.

    On November 2, the Ga Tech Living Building was launched in a ceremony where attendees spread seed packets on the ground. With the delicate design balance between living building criteria and functionality | practicality complete, the Miller Hull Partnership and Lord Aeck Sargent passed the baton to Skanska for the construction phase.

    Within the panel discussion, the two common themes throughout the presentations were intertwined into dialogue: 1> collaboration is key to success and 2> culture is imperative for long-term, sustainable impact. 

    Forum presenters were given a treasured gift: a slice of a Ga Tech branch with Buzz drawn on the wood. Ga Tech landscape associate Jean-Sebastian Camiul donated his exceptional talent for the gifts.

    Congratulations to the Facilities Sustainability Committee for hosting a stellar forum!

    The Forum PPT presentations are available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

    Ga Tech has the ingredients for incredible sustainability leadership: top management support, program diversity across university department boundaries, established award-winning programs, a commitment to student & community health, an unwavering enthusiasm by department management, and most importantly: a culture steeped with collaborative spirit!
  4. TRUE: setting standards for a zero waste economy

    Third-party certifications play a valuable role in evaluating products, services, and industry practices. Independent review | testing ensures the product manufacturer | facility proclamations are valid and follow industry standards. In addition, third-party certification is instrumental in setting standards and protocol within evolving industries.

    In response to industry requests for zero waste standardization and third-party validation, the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) launched the Zero Waste Facility Certification (ZWFC) in March 2013. As the first zero waste certification program in the nation, the ZWFC established protocol and defined parameters for zero waste claims.

    The USZWBC Board signing
    USGBC documents
    photo compliments UZWBC
    In October 2016 the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) acquired the USZWBC to integrate the ZWFC into the global Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) community that drives sustainability across all sectors.

    Established in 2008, the GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the USGBC’s LEED green building rating systems. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green business practices, which fosters global competitiveness and enhances environmental performance and human health benefits.

    The ZWFC joined a family of prominent certifications administered by the GBCI: the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL building standard, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), Parksmart, EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiency) and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector. 

    A true integration, USZWBC Founder & Executive Director Stephanie Barger joined the USGBC executive team as Director, Market Transformation & Development. The USZWBC staff are GBIC team members who facilitate zero waste certification. The majority of the USZWBC Board members serve on the GBIC Zero Waste Advisory Council.

    TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency)
    On September 7, 2017, the GBCI unveiled TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency), the new brand identity for its zero waste rating system. TRUE helps businesses and facilities define, pursue and achieve their zero waste goals through project certification and professional credentialing.

    With the TRUE announcement, the USZWBC is completely integrated within the GBCI family of certifications.

    Consistent with GBCI certifications, TRUE is built on a point system within a variety of categories. Baseline qualifications are established before a facility may apply for zero waste certification. Of the 81 available points across 15 categories, the applicant must meet a minimum of 31 points for the first level, Certified (followed by Silver, Gold & Platinum levels).

    According to Stephanie, “Our goal is to help develop a zero waste economy for all that delivers financial, environmental and social benefits. The TRUE team is working with organizations across industries to help set benchmarks, track performance, educate employees and deliver innovative solutions that move them closer to zero waste.

    Currently, there are 88 TRUE-certified facilities around the world. Microsoft, Tesla, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Nature’s Path, Earth Friendly Products, Raytheon, Cintas and Northrop Grumman, among others, have facilities certified under the program.

    Beyond Landfill Diversion
    A TRUE certification applicant must achieve 12 consecutive months of an average of  90% or greater diversion from landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment. Diverted materials are reduced, reused, recycled, composted and/or recovered for productive use in nature or the economy.

    TRUE Advisory Council
    Member Scott Lutocka on a
    source-separated plastic film bale.
    For the TRUE certification, 90% or greater diversion is merely a baseline for the program with a maximum of 5 available points for facilities with 100% diversion; only one point is earned for an applicant with 90 - 94.9% diversion.

    Though it does not specifically prohibit single-stream recycling, the TRUE certification program inherently requires source-separated materials recycling. Facilities are required to track the collected materials’ final destination, rather than use the hauler’s first drop-off. Supported by in-depth research, industry reports state single-stream recycling in general results in 25%+  of collected material destined for the landfill | incinerator due to contamination. 

    Within the Redesign, Reduce, Recycle and Zero Waste Reporting categories, a minimum of 7 points relate to a solid, well-documented source-separated materials program that promotes highest good material use and local end markets.

    Culture is Key
    Intertwined within the TRUE certification points is creating a zero waste culture established by top management and communicated to employees on a regular basis. The Leadership category offers six points including a formal zero waste goals announcement, upper management monthly review of diversion reports, rewarding those who make outstanding contributions to waste reduction, and more.

    Earth Friendly Product
    Zero Waste Employee Bulletin Board
    Consistent communication to employees on zero waste policies, activities, and successes earns a point. Another point is available for at least one employee job description that includes zero waste-specific responsibilities. 

    Human resources departments are integral to a rich zero waste culture. Points are earned by including zero waste within the employee hiring process as well as established training programs.

    The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste CULTURE, a necessary ingredient for long-term ZW program success, discusses the imperative role culture plays in developing sustainable zero waste practices.

    A Zero Waste Value Chain
    The TRUE certification requires rethinking the resource lifecycle. According to the website:
    TRUE is a whole systems approach aimed at changing how materials flow through society, resulting in no waste. TRUE encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.
    TRUE promotes processes that consider the entire lifecycle of products used within a facility. With TRUE, your facility can demonstrate to the world what you’re doing to minimize your waste output.
    Reusable stacked packaging boxes
    photo courtesy of Subaru
    Within the Zero Waste Purchasing category, a total of 9 points are available that impact the facilities' relationship with their supply chain. In addition to an in-place Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) guideline or policy, points are available for using the power of consumer demand to work with suppliers on eliminating, reducing and/or reusing transport packaging. Supplier zero waste practices impact the intangible waste inherent within delivered products.

    Use of durable, reusable products, such as beverage cups, plates, and flatware, instead of single-use products earn a point.

    Additionally, manufacturers receive points for selling and shipping products in a waste-free manner, where the packaging is recyclable or even better, reusable.

    A Holographic Viewpoint
    By using a systems approach to materials flow, the TRUE zero waste certification is holographic in nature. The program is not bound by the facility's physical structure; it addresses the facility's value chain, the community as a whole, and the environment.

    Holly receives zero award; with
    then USZWBC Founder & President
    Pursuing the TRUE certification may seem overwhelming with the multitude of point categories impacting the organization’s entire spectrum of administration, management & operations. Holly Elmore Consulting (HEC) simplifies the certification process into a manageable, time-lined roadmap supported by specific action points via a series of available consulting packages.

    The HEC Zero Waste Consulting packages begin with a Zero Waste Certification Review: 
    A simple package for facilities choosing to pursue TRUE Zero Waste Certification. The package includes a facility review via a pre-visit conference call and an on-site visit. A certification checklist summary is provided of completed points with recommended steps for achieving certification.
    As Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder & CEO, Holly is a respected zero waste industry expert with a long list of accolades, including the acclaimed Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) 2009 launch. The ZWZ were the nation's forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for composting and were sold to the National Restaurant Association in 2012.

    In July 2017, Ei announced the primary organization focus shifted to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life, and the Ei Recycling Refinement platform was moved to the Mission Accomplished website section. Thus, Ei zero waste | food waste | source-separated materials recycling expertise is available via HEC Zero Waste Consulting.

    Companies initiate zero programs for a variety of reasons: economic benefits, customer demand, product differentiation, it is “the right thing to do,” to name a few. The U.S. Green Building Council’s TRUE zero waste rating system ensures integrity is established and maintained via written corporate policies, material management practices, procurement procedures, and effective communication tools. TRUE sets industry standards and establishes integrity within the pathway to a zero waste economy.
  5. Changing of the Guard: Welcome Tim Trefzer to the Ei Leadership Team!
    With the July 2017 Soil Health platform announcement, Elemental Impact (Ei) evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, with the Water Use | Toxicity and Product Stewardship platforms remaining in strong supporting roles. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announced the Ei Soil Health platform.

    Tim during the KSU
    Hickory Grove Farm Tour
    In alignment with the new Ei focus, Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joins the Ei Leadership Team as the new Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Chair.

    Instrumental in the Soil Health platform development, Tim participated in the 2017 Ei Farm Tours documented in the ZWA Blog article, The Power of Tours. Inspired by the tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants GWCCA Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCCA Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility. 

    SFCI History
    The GWCCA hosted the acclaimed 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch press conference, beginning the long-time, powerful Ei | GWCCA relationship. In December 2010, Tim joined the GWCCA as the first sustainability director and took the complex's sustainability to new dimensions. The ZWA Blog post, GWCC Hits Recycling Stride, is an overview of Tim’s immediate impact on the GWCCA recycling practices.

    Tim presenting at the 2016
    Annual Ei Partner Meeting
    photo courtesy of Scott Seydel
    Within the state-owned GWCCA umbrella is the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), the fourth-largest convention center in the nation and the world's largest LEED Certified convention center. In addition to the GWCC, the GWCCA manages Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta and the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Through the 2017 Falcons season, the Georgia Dome was one of the GWCCA's hallmark facilities.

    The Georgia Dome accepted the invitation to serve as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot in spring 2012. As a founding ZWZ Participant, the Georgia Dome was well-acquainted with zero waste practices with impressive practices in-place: 
    • Compostable packaging – Levy Restaurants (GWCCA foodservice contractor) used compostable foodservice items where practical (about 85% of items) when food was served in single-use packaging. Polystyrene foodservice items were eliminated from use in the facility.
    • China service in suites – Levy Restaurants used reusable plates, flatware, napkins, serving platters and beverage cups & glasses in the suites and at catered events.
    • Condiment pump stations – Concession condiments were dispensed in self-service, refillable pump containers. Pump stations eliminated individual condiment packets, a common contaminant in recycling and food waste streams.
    • Tailgate recycling – A tailgate recycling program was initiated during the 2012 season with the support of the Atlanta Falcons Recycling Partner.

    Tim @ a SMAT Dinner with
    Ken Fraser
    In 2014 the SFCI announced its stated prime focus was post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) supported the Georgia Dome post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection to a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility. 

    With the November 2017 decommissioning of the Georgia Dome, the GWCCA stepped forward as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot. The SFCI - GA Dome page showcases the accomplishments during its 2012 - 2016 tenure as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot.

    The ZWA Blog article, What Can Be Done!, announces the SFCI - GWCCA Pilot along with an impressive list of sustainability accomplishments under Tim's leadership.

    Sporting Event Expertise
    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.

    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!

    Tim & Jack Groh at a Super Bowl
    Urban Forestry Event
    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.

    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."
    Changing of the Guard
    Founding SFCI Co-Chairs Scott Seydel and Doug Kunnemann of NatureWorks lead the SFCI through grand successes within the Recycling Refinement and Post-Consumer Food Waste focus areas. With the shift to a Soil Health focus, Scott and Doug pass the SFCI leadership baton to Tim with strong accolades.

    From Scott
    It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome our friend Tim Trefzer of the Georgia World Congress Center as the new SFCI Chair. I was honored to serve as SFCI Co-Chair with Doug Kunnemann and work with the SFCI Team, including Tim, on Recycling Refinement and post-consumer food waste projects. During our tenure, the SFCI experienced impressive achievements within compostable packaging, post-consumer collection of food, and source-separated materials recycling programs and pilots.

    With Ei's shift in focus to Soil Health, I pass the baton to the next generation of leaders to continue Ei's stellar track record. I am most impressed with Tim's professionalism, expertise and sincere commitment to creating a sustainable world. Though I pass the baton, Tim may count on me for unwavering support and advice.

    From Doug:
    Doug & Tim @ a SFCI meeting
    I am excited to announce Tim Trefzer of the Georgia World Congress Center is the new SFCI Chair! It was a pleasure to work with Ei Founder Holly Elmore and serve as Co-Chair with Scott Seydel. Our thanks to Holly’s leadership during our SFCI tenure. 

    With Tim as SFCI Chair – “there are no limits!” Tim – congratulations to you! We wish you great success!

    With the SFCI leadership baton passed to Tim Trefzer, Ei is staged to soar in renewed directions within a solid foundation built by the founding regime!
  6. What Can Be Done!
    In 2010 Elemental Impact (Ei) was formed as the home for the Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ), a program launched in 2009 within the Georgia Restaurant Association umbrella. The ZWZ epitomized the Ei 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.
    ZWZ Participants were true pioneers as the nation's forerunner in the commercial collection of food waste for compost. With the tremendous media coverage - a CNN story and New York Times front-page article - the pioneers were recognized as heroes!

    When the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ in 2012, the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) emerged as Ei's central Recycling Refinement focus through 2016. 

    Under the ZWZ, best-operating practices were established for back-of-the-house food waste generated in commercial kitchens. The SFCI addressed front-of-the-house food waste, recycling, and trash collection where the consumer source-separated material.

    SMAT members at a pre-season
    Falcons game
    In 2014, Ei announced post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill was the prime SFCI focus. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) formed to support post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, and a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility. In addition to the SFCI, SMAT supported the EPA Scaling Up Compost in Charlotte, NC Grant.

    By 2016 numerous sporting event facilities, venues, outdoor festivals, and other food-related businesses achieved zero waste, including post-consumer food waste. Thus, Ei's post-consumer food waste-related work was complete.

    In addition to post-consumer food waste, the SFCI Pilots were active in the Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template, plastic film recycling pilots. and milk jug recycling programs.

    Ei Soil Health Platform

    With the July 2017 Soil Health platform announcement, Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Health, with the Water Use | Toxicity and Product Stewardship platforms remaining in strong supporting roles. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announced the Ei Soil Health platform. 

    In alignment with the new Ei focus, Georgia World Congress Center Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined the Ei Leadership Team as the new SFCI Chair.

    Tim on a farm tour
    Instrumental in the Soil Health platform development, Tim participated in the 2017 Ei Farm Tours documented in the ZWA Blog article, The Power of ToursInspired by the tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants GWCC Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility. 


    With the November 2017 decommissioning of the Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) stepped forward as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot. Within the state-owned GWCCA umbrella is the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), the fourth-largest convention center in the nation and the world's largest LEED Certified convention center. In addition to the GWCC, the GWCCA manages Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta and the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center.

    The SFCI - Georgia Dome page showcases the accomplishments during its 2012 - 2016 tenure as the SFCI Event Venue Pilot.

    As host for the 2009 acclaimed ZWZ launch press conference, the GWCCA is a committed sustainability leader with an impressive list of accomplishments:

    • GWCC earned LEED Silver in 2014 making it the world's largest LEED certified convention center and is actively working towards LEED Gold (anticipated Fall 2017).
    • GWCCA-managed Savannah International Trade and Convention Center earned LEED Gold in July 2017, making it the first convention center in the State of Georgia to achieve Gold LEED status.
    • GWCCA diverted more than 14 million pounds of material from landfills since 2008; the GWCC received the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge 2016 Waste Diversion Award.
      Atlanta Better Building Challenge
      2016 Waste Diversion Award
      photo courtesy of the GWCCA
    • GWCC reduced water consumption by 41% since 2008 through the installation of new irrigation, restroom fixtures, and chillers.
    • GWCC 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)
    • GWCC’s 1,900-solar panel canopy located in the marshaling yard produces enough energy to power 89 Georgia homes annually.
    • GWCCA employees donated 1730 lbs. of clothing, recycled 152 lbs. of batteries and electronics, and donated nearly 500 meals worth of food to the Atlanta Community Food Bank during the 2016 holiday season.

    Customized lighting installed
    via the performance contract
    photo courtesy of the GWCCA
    In 2015 the GWCC entered into a $28 million energy-savings performance contract to upgrade old, outdated equipment with a collaborative financing plan. The GWCC performance contract is the largest stand-alone project in Georgia and the largest in the country for public assembly venues.

    GWCC equipment upgrades cut energy consumption by at least 39%, saving in excess of $2.5 million in the first year alone. During the October 2015 through April 2017 construction period, GWCC achieved the following impressive stats:
    • $1,827,241 of energy costs saved.
    • 17,810,772 kWh of electricity saved (enough to power 1,781 homes in Georgia).
    • 13,704,856 gallons of water saved (the amount of water in more than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools).
    • 18,481 therms of natural gas saved (average annual usage of 26 Georgia homes).
    • 578,277 pounds of construction waste recycled (the equivalent weight of 18,504,864 empty soda cans).
    Event Venue Challenges
    Event venues face unique challenges when embarking on energy-savings, zero waste, and other sustainability programs. The following details several of the challenges:

    Typical booth at a trade show
    • Event contracts – Facility sales departments often book events years in advance; by event time, contract provisions may not complement facility sustainability practices. Common practice includes one waste haul per exhibit hall within the contract price; thus, there is no financial incentive to reduce event waste.
    • Third party contractors - Most conferences contract with a local event management company for equipment rental along with delivery, set-up, and tear-down. Event team communication of sustainability practices often does not reach the subcontractors; thus, specified tasks do not happen.
    • Move-out timing - Contracts include a tight post-event timeline for the staff to clear out the exhibit hall. Due to the time-sensitive urgency, the staff focuses on "clearing out" in the fastest manner possible; often recyclable material ends up in the waste container, versus separated for recycling.
    • Government-owned facilities – Many conference centers are owned by local and state governments with bidding processes required for service and equipment contracts. 
    • Event day driven – By their nature conference centers experience high-level activity followed by slow or dormant time.
    With the plethora of event venue challenges, the GWCC successes to date are impressive. 

    What Can Be Done

    Years ago, the GWCC stepped forward as an industry pioneer with a commitment to bring the possible out of impossible. As the SFCI Event Venue Pilot, the GWCC continues to showcase the power of What Can Be Done
  7. The Power of Tours
    Tour group shot @ a
    Charlotte MRF
    Throughout Elemental Impact's (Ei) eight-year history, tours played an integral role in educating the Ei Team on current scenarios and creative solutions to challenging situations.

    In the early Zero Waste Zones days, tours centered around MRFs (material recovery facilities), recycling centers, manufacturers where recyclable items are raw materials, and generators with successful source-separated material systems in place. As Ei work segued to Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Pilots, tours focused on large generators where the consumer is responsible for material disposal. 

    As the SFCI-Airport Pilot, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, hosted the SFCI Team on International Terminal tours during construction and post-opening. The ZWA Blog article, SFCI Team Tours New ATL Airport Int'l Concourse, chronicles the during construction tour; the SFCI Atlanta Airport Pilot: ACTION Resumes article showcases the post-opening tour.

    Tim with post-game collected
    food waste & packaging 
    At the SFCI-Event Venue Pilot, the Georgia Dome hosted several Falcons games tours to understand post-consumer food waste and packaging generated by the concessionaire and disposed of by the fans. The ZWA Blog article, Winning Recycling Seasons: Team Work Required!, provides a recap of the 2013 game day recycling tour with the Mercedes Benz Stadium architects.

    The Ei Tours website page details the many Ei-hosted tours, segregated by Farm, Industry, Partner, and SFCI Tours. Each tour is supported by a blog article and Ei FB album.

    In July 2017, Ei shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and Post-Consumer Food Waste to Soil Health, regenerating the foundation of life. The ZWA Blog article, Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life, announces the new platform and showcases the powerful foundation built within the Recycling Refinement platform and Post-Consumer Food waste focus area.

    In preparation for the official Soil Health platform announcement, Ei embarked on a Farm Tour series in early 2017 with Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer. Ei Farm Tours are focused on farms following regenerative agricultural practices, with a strong emphasis on rebuilding healthy soils. In addition, Tim stepped into his new Ei Leadership role as the SFCI Chair.

    David educates Tim on the food
    waste composting windrows
    First on the tour agenda was the February tour of the King of Crops Farm, located 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta. King of Pops, a popular hand-crafted popsicle company, purchased the farm to source locally grown organic ingredients nurtured within regenerative agriculture practices. Farm Manager Russell Hondered treated the group to a thorough farm tour including a narrative on its history as a well-established nursery. Remnants from the past are evident throughout the land adding character to the farm.

    In addition to farming, King of Crops is a state-permitted food waste compost site. Commercial and residential food waste hauler Compost Wheels delivers their material to the farm. Compost Wheels CEO David Paull joined the tour and educated on the farm food waste composting practices.

    Hickory Grove Farm entrance
    Next on the agenda was a Kennesaw State University (KSU) Hickory Grove Farm tour. Kim Charick with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (Southeast Region) joined Tim and Ei Founder Holly Elmore. Farm Operations Manager Michael Blackwell and KSU Professor Jorge Perez gave a thorough farm tour, along with details on the land history.

    In 2013 the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) leased the 26-acre tract of land to KSU for farm use. Formally, the site was the GDOT cement mixing site for nearby I-75 construction. Though not toxic, the soil was severely compacted and devoid of necessary minerals to sustain a healthy soil ecosystem. In addition, storm water flowed off the property, rather than hydrate the "dead soil."

    Natural farm retention pond
    With patience, tenacity and a strategic plan, the KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality restored the land through regenerative agriculture practices. Simple, effective storm water management techniques retain water on the property, including a vibrant natural retention pond. Soil restoration is a partnership with the land; continued nurturing through compost use, crop rotation and other regenerative applications are necessary to maintain and improve soil health.

    In addition to serving as a laboratory for the Leven School and other departments, the farm supplies produce for The Commons, KSU's Gold LEED Certified dining hall. The farm's happy hens often supply 100% of the dining service's egg demand!

    Student farm worker with
    the happy hens
    Within the farm operations is the state-of-the-art Hydroponic Lab where tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are grown year round. Student volunteers stamp out soil blocks for seed planting in the Propagation Lab. Once germinated, the seedling soil blocks are planted in the High Tunnel and tended through harvest. By using soil blocks, the use of small plastic containers to grow saplings is eliminated.

    Inspired by the farm tours, Tim teamed with Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Matt Roach and GWCC Grounds Operation Manager Steve Ware to identify an on-campus mini-farm area. The intent is to use regenerative agriculture practices at the on-campus mini-farm to produce food for the employee dining facility. 

    In late July, Ei hosted the GWCC Team at Hickory Grove Farm where Michael & Jorge educated on regenerative agriculture practices along with crop choice advice; Steve shared his extensive horticulture expertise, especially pertaining to plant | tree identification in the farm's old growth forest areas.

    Tour group shot within one of
    the American Chesnut sprouts.
    In the farm's old growth forest, there are two healthy shoots from former magnificent American Chestnuts killed by the chestnut blight. It is estimated 3 - 4 billion American Chestnuts were killed by the blight in the first half of the 20th century. Though healthy in appearance, the shoots remain vulnerable to the blight.

    The GWCC team departed in high spirits, thrilled with on-campus farming opportunities and new friends at a fellow state-owned Institute.

    For a pictorial recount of the Hickory Grove Farm tours, visit the Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality. The Ei FB album, Ei Connects, includes a section on the King of Crops Farm Tour.

    Beyond their educational value, tours build strong bonds among industry colleagues and inspire new, innovative projects. Ei is excited to embark on a Farm Tour series filled with new discoveries, inspiration, and empowerment within the Soil Health platform.

    The potential GWCC on-campus mini-farm is a prime example of The Power of Tours! 
  8. Building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time
    In late July, Elemental Impact (Ei) hosted U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger on a whirlwind Atlanta zero waste-focused visit. For three days, Stephanie met with Atlanta's sustainability leadership to educate on the USGBC Zero Waste Certification (ZWC) and their commitment to building a Zero Waste Economy.

    Stephane presenting at the 2016
    Annual Ei Partner Meeting
    As the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) Founder & Executive Director, Stephanie and Ei Founder Holly Elmore forged a strong, long-term partnership, with Ei serving as the USZWBC and National Zero Waste Business Conference (NZWBC) media partner. The partnership expanded beyond media relations via Ei-hosted NZWBC industry panels, Stephanie presenting at Annual Ei Partner Meetings, and much more.

    On October 5, 2016, the USZWBC joined forces with the USGBC. The prominent USZWBC Zero Waste Facility Certification was integrated into the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), a USGBC organization that drives sustainability across all sectors. The ZWA Blog article, USGBC Empowers Zero Waste Industry: USGBC & USZWBC join forces, announces the powerful union.

    Stephanie with keynote presenter
    Laura Turner Seydel @ 2014 NZWBC
    With USZWBC | USGBC | GBCI integration nearing completion, Stephanie steps into her new role transforming markets to embrace zero waste practices and building a Zero Waste Economy. The whirlwind Atlanta visit was designed to reconnect with Atlanta sustainability leadership and educate the Georgia USGBC community on the ZWC.

    Atlanta hosted the stellar 2014 NZWBC. Thus, Stephanie is well acquainted with Atlanta's zero waste leaders in the private sector, non-profit realm, and local, state and federal government. It makes good sense to build off the powerful foundation and establish Atlanta as a USGBC zero waste community pillar city.

    The meeting marathon began with a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company enthusiastic to understand zero waste in concept and practice. Customer demand for manufacturing sustainability, including zero waste, was the impetus for taking first steps. One of the parting comments was a common Ei zero waste phrase, 
    Take Baby Steps, lots & lots of baby steps!
    The Epsten Group 
    In the afternoon, The Epsten Group hosted Stephanie for a two-hour education session beginning with general zero waste information and finishing with a ZWC overview. Intertwined within Stephanie's presentation, Holly educated on Recycling Refinement, moving beyond landfill diversion, using the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Pilots as prominent examples. It was empowering to showcase Atlanta's pioneers and leadership status. Holly's PPT presentation is available for download on the Ei Speaking Engagements page.

    The day finished with a light dinner at an eclectic restaurant nestled in Cabbagetown, a neighborhood originally built for the nearby cotton mill workers. Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer joined Stephanie and Holly for a fun, relaxed catch-up. 

    Under Tim's leadership, the GWCC achieved LEED Silver Certification and is the world's largest LEED Certified conference center. In 2009, the GWCC hosted the prominent Zero Waste Zones' launch press conference, culminating in a CNN Story and a front-page New York Times article. The GWCC is an early zero waste pioneer and hero!

    Rubicon condiment station in
    employee break area
    On the second day, Rubicon hosted Stephanie and Holly for a breakfast meeting in their amazing new offices. As a founding USZWBC member, Rubicon was interested in a leadership role within the USGBC zero waste community. In addition, Rubicon VP Investor Relations Elizabeth Montoya shared the impressive new high tech, app-oriented Rubicon service designed to maximize material collections, enhance route efficiency, and report community observations, such as pot holes in roadways. 

    It was a pleasure to witness zero waste practices in action within Rubicon's offices. In the employee break area, beverage condiments are dispersed in individual servings, creating no packaging waste. Honey & blue agave are available in bulk, recyclable packaging. Landfill and recycling bins use Ei Strategic Ally Recycle Across America's standard labeling. ... and Rubicon contracts with close Ei pal Compost Wheels for commercial food waste collection!

    Meredith. Laurene & Stephanie
    with AJC ZW sign in Cox lobby.
    Next on the meeting agenda was a visit to Cox Enterprises (Cox), a long-time Rubicon client. Cox Recycling & Waste Diversion Manager Meredith Brown gave an overview of zero waste initiatives in-place and planned. In addition, Meredith inquired on the leadership opportunities within the USGBC zero waste community. Owned by Cox, the Atlanta Journal & Constitution is the nation's first zero waste-certified newspaper.

    Afternoon meetings included visits at Ernst & Young and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Airport), the busiest airport in the world. Airport Senior Sustainability Leader Liza Milagro updated on the concessionaire contract compostable packaging provision implementation. In 2011, Ei worked closely with the Airport on the contract provision and issued the Compostable Packaging Info Packet on behalf of the Airport. The Atlanta Airport Compostable Foodservice Ware Packet page details the ground-breaking contract provision.

    The day ended with a casual, yet powerful, meeting with Mercedes Benz Stadium (MBS) General Manager Scott Jenkins. Only weeks into his new position, Scott delivered his first presentation as MBS General Manager at the 2014 NZWBC. During the design and construction phase, Scott ensured the stadium was built for zero waste success. In a few short weeks, the stadium is slated to host its first game! In his role as the Green Sports Council Chair, Scott and Stephanie strategized on complementary programs in place and how the two organizations may work together. 

    USGBC-GA meeting
    On the final day, USGBC-GA Director Shelby Buso hosted a meeting to educate the Georgia community on the ZWC. Meeting participants were eager to learn about the USGBC zero waste commitment and share their zero waste challenges, lessons learned, and successes. The City of Atlanta, Office of Resilience Senior Policy Advisor Boyd Leake stayed after the morning meeting to meet privately with Stephanie and Holly. The conversation topic centered on Atlanta serving as a USGBC zero waste pillar city.

    Shelby joined Stephanie and Holly for a mid-morning meeting with Tim at his GWCC offices. Tim gave an awesome update on the Georgia Dome decommissioning, GWCC remodeling, and Olympic Centennial Park redesign. Under the GWCC umbrella, the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is in the LEED Certification application process.

    Shelby, Paula & Stephanie
    after a fun, inspiring lunch
    A fun, productive lunch with Ted's Montana Grill Purchasing & Sustainability Manager Paula Owens was the perfect final meeting on Stephanie's whirlwind Atlanta visit. After meeting Paula at an Annual Ei Partner Meeting, Stephanie invited Paula to present on a food waste-focused plenary panel at the 2016 NZWBC in Austin.

    The Ei FB Album, USGBC Zero Waste Certification and Education, includes a pictorial recap of Stephanie's Atlanta visit.

    Similar to creating a successful facility zero waste program, a Zero Waste Economy requires a methodical process filled with a multitude of consecutive, small steps. Essential to success is a template where businesses, the local community, and the environment benefit. 

    USGBC Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger's July Atlanta visit was a strong step in building a Zero Waste Economy, one step, one city at a time!
  9. Soil Health: regenerating the foundation of life!
    In 2017 Elemental Impact (Ei) shifted gears within the spiral of humanity's environmental impact. Ei evolved from a focus on Recycling Refinement and food waste collection for compost to Soil Healthregenerating the foundation of life. 

    Founding ZWZ Participant
    Chef Ahmad Nourzad
    of Affairs to Remember
    Early steps within the Soil Health journey began with the 2009 Zero Waste Zones (ZWZ) launch; the ZWZ were the nation's forerunner in the collection of commercial food waste for compost. Inaugural ZWZ years were dedicated to raising awareness of food waste compost within the foodservice industry and establishing new sustainable standard operating practices. Founding ZWZ Participants perfected back-of-the-house food waste collection practices and shared their successes with industry colleagues.

    The National Resources Defense Council's 2012 Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill issue paper publication alerted mainstream media to the food waste crisis. Numerous powerful organizations formed within the foodservice and retail industries to directly address the crisis and affect change. 

    Thus, the established operating practices combined with national food waste awareness earmarked successful completion of Ei's role. In late 2012 the National Restaurant Association purchased the ZWZ; the ZWA Blog article, National Restaurant Association Acquires Zero Waste Zones, announces the monumental milestone in Ei history.

    SMAT members collecting food
    waste after a Falcon's game.
    In 2014 the Sustainable Food Court Initiative announced its stated prime focus was post-consumer food waste collection for compost or a state-permitted destination other than landfill. The Sustainable Materials ACTION Team (SMAT) supported the SFCI - Georgia Dome Pilot post-consumer food waste projects, ranging from compostable packaging education, post-game food waste collection, and a post-consumer food waste compost pilot at a state-permitted composting facility.

    By 2016 numerous sporting event facilities, venues, outdoor festivals and other food-related businesses achieved zero waste, including post-consumer food waste. Thus, Ei's post-consumer food waste-related work was complete.

    Steam rising from windrows at a
    permitted food waste composting site.
    Limited state-permitted food waste composting facilities (or other technologies) are a significant obstacle to mainstream source-separated food waste collection, at the consumer and commercial levels. Using simple economic principles, a stronger demand for food waste compost will drive an increase in capacity, from the opening of new sites to an expansion of existing facilities. By shifting focus to increasing compost demand, Ei embarks on new industry frontiers within the Soil Health platform.

    Initial work relates to the education of depleted soils' direct relationship with the carbon crisis, out-of-balance carbon cycles, contaminated waterways, excessive water usage, erosion control, storm water management, and production of nutritious food. In addition, Ei addresses the micro plastic pollution within the soils, similar to the plastic smog prolific in the oceans. The inaugural Soil Health focus areas are: 
    As validated in Kiss the Ground's empowering four-minute video, The Soil Story, the carbon problem and the solution are a matter of balance.

    Earth Carbon Pools
    image courtesy of The Soil Story
    Simply: there is too much carbon in the atmosphere and ocean pools. To restore balance, excess carbon must transfer to the fossil, biosphere, and/or soil pools. The Carbon Crisis article referenced above features The Soil Story along with an explanation of the carbon pools and the out-of-balance scenario.

    In May 2017 Kiss the Ground released The Compost Story, a sequel to The Soil Story, to an enthusiastic national audience. Ei joined the prominent video launch team and participates in an executive committee focused on developing educational tools. Kiss the Ground intends to develop soil | compost educational materials targeted at three prime sectors: 1> municipalities, 2> schools and 3> businesses. 

    U.S. Green Building Council Global Zero Waste Director Stephanie Barger and Ei Founder Holly Elmore took leadership roles in the business sector.

    Plastic mulch used on a small
    farm's blackberry field
    Integral to Kiss the Ground's mission is how regenerative agriculture rebuilds our soils and sequesters atmospheric carbon into the soils. Compost use is integral to regenerative agriculture. Within the Macro Cost of Micro Contamination platform, the Ei Team will initially focus on two main areas:
    1. Contaminant-free food waste stream delivered to commercial, farm and community garden compost operations. BPI Certified Compostable food and beverage serviceware is a must for single-use packaging to prevent fragmented plastic contamination within the finished compost.
    2. Widespread use of plastic mulch and other plastics in conventional farming and agriculture. Plastics fragment into tiny pieces yet does not decompose, causing micro plastic contamination in the soils used to grow food.
    Ei Farm Tours are focused on farms following regenerative agricultural practices, with a strong focus on rebuilding health soils. Kennesaw State University's Hickory Grove Farm is an excellent example of a bountiful farm whose regenerative practices brought "dead" soil back to life.

    Hickory Grove Farm pond formed
     naturally via simple a simple
    storm water management system
    By employing simple storm water management practices, a farm pond naturally formed complete with a pair of mallard ducks, ample frogs, and abundant foliage and insects. Pond water is used in the Hydroponic Lab to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers for The Commons, the KSU Gold LEED Certified dining hall.

    The Holly Elmore Images FB album, KSU Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality, is a pictorial recap of a recent Hickory Grove Farm tour.

    Soil Health brings Ei back to core roots on many levels, including alignment with the Ei 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.
    American Culinary Federation - ATL
    President Michael Diehl with then
    GA Dept of AG Commissioner Tommy
    Irvin at a 2008 GFA event.
    In her years as the Green Foodservice Alliance (GFA) Founder & Executive Director, Holly was a leader in the local, sustainable | farm to table movement. Holly worked closely with the Georgia Department of Agriculture team on launching the first Georgia Grown food show in 2008. Introductions to Atlanta's culinary community were integral to the Georgia Grown food show success. The GFA Advisory Council consisted of prominent Atlanta leadership, including Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black in his prior Georgia Agribusiness Council President role.

    Ei was formed in 2010 as the new home for the ZWZ, which was launched as a GFA program. Within the Soil Health platform, Holly may build off her strong sustainable agriculture foundation cultivated within the powerful GFA Producers Task Force.

    Soil Health brings a vibrancy to Ei's important work along with renewed and new industry relationships. The spiral of humanity's environmental impact is perpetual; Ei is honored to bring past expertise to new light within Soil Health programs under development.
  10. Green Streets: grass roots social enterprise
    Repost of a January 2015 article due to blog technical challenges.

    Green Streets film cover
    Green Streets - a Citizen Film documentary by Sophie Constantinou - follows 29 year old entrepreneur Tyrone Mullins and his friends as they turn trash into cash in the distressed San Francisco housing projects where they live. Through trial and error, they learn to haul 150,000 gallons of waste per month, creating desperately needed jobs, and establishing recycling where all previous efforts had failed.

    With five years of success and a solid business in-place, Green Streets serves as a catalyst for similar programs in urban landscapes. Citizen Film holds work-in-progress Green Streets screenings in the Bay Area on a near-weekly basis, at events ranging from closed-door strategy meetings to public screenings | discussions attended by hundreds.

    Green Streets employees
    sorting @ an apt. complex.
    The frequent screenings to influential public housing, conservation and workforce development stakeholders broadens awareness of Green Streets' powerful impact within under served neighborhoods and the city as a whole. 

    Post-screening discussions often result in improved waste management operations. Green Streets is a work-in-progress where setbacks become opportunities to aspire to greater achievements.

    More than a business, more than a documentary, Green Streets is a social enterprise with a mission to provide a business service, a social service and an environmental service: a triple bottom line. Within the social service mission, Green Streets is an example of how grass roots enterprises are the catalyst for urban revitalization; under-served populations evolve into well-served, thriving communities.

    Green Streets on
    the streets
    Beyond the screening recognition, Tyrone received the following awards and recognition for Green Streets: an Ashoka Emerging Innovator Award, a fellowship from Stanford University's Project Remade, and a "Champions of Change" Award from the White House.These mainstream high honors validate Green Streets as a prominent leader and recognize the societal implications.

    What is social enterprise?  According to the Green Streets FAQ page: A social enterprise operates like a business, but manages its operations in pursuit of human and / or environmental wellbeing. Per Wikipedia: 
    A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.

    Green Streets presents social enterprise as the connecting path between the Vicious Cycle - Trauma, Unemployment & Waste - and the Virtuous Cycle - Ownership, Community Restoration & Recycling. The path is two-way or holographic, depending upon perspective.

    AMBFF President Penny McPhee
    w/ Sophie @ screening
    Thanks to the generosity and vision of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation (AMBFF) Green Streets came to Atlanta for a series of screenings, organized discussions, tours and meetings. 

    The Wednesday January 14, 2015 Green Streets Atlanta screening was presented by the AMBFF Film Series and set the stage for a powerful week in Atlanta. The ZWA Blog article, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta!, announces the Atlanta screening and visit.

    According to their site, the AMBFF Film Series uses the power of documentary film to address a wide range of societal issues. The Foundation recognizes the documentary medium can concurrently spark imagination, illuminate a subject, challenge conventional thinking, entertain and engage audiences, create awareness and inspire action. 

    SUCCESS: The Wednesday Green Streets screening was a complete sell-out with standing room only for late arrivals. After introductions by John Bare, AMBFF vice-president for programs, the audience was enthralled with the 45-minute screening on Green Streets' history, creation, challenges and successes.

    Following the screening, Sophie moderated a panel of urban innovators and entrepreneurs from Green Streets and Atlanta consisting of the following individuals:
    Panel after screening
    • David Mauroff - director of social enterprise at Urban Strategies where he supports the growth and development of Green Streets. In addition, David provides public safety and resident support services assistance to the McCormack Baron portfolio (owner of housing project apartments.)
    • Rohit Malhotra - founder & executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta; Rohit's background includes social entrepreneurship, digital communications and community organizing.
    • Meaghan Shannon-Vlkovic - vice-president & market leader for Enterprise Community Partner's Sourtheast. Meaghan's responsibilities include strategic planning and capacity building assistance for preservation, new production and transit-oriented development opportunities to affordable housing and community development.
    • Tyrone Mullins - co-founder of Green Streets. 
    Randolph sharing his
    experiences on the panel.
    Midway through the discussion, Tyrone called Randolph Lee, fellow Green Streets team member, from the audience to join the panel and provide his perspective and experience.

    Elemental Impact (Ei) was honored to co-present the Atlanta January 14 screening along with Green Streets, Urban Strategies, Citizen Film and the Fledgling Fund.

    The following day the Center for Civic Innovation hosted the Sustainable Thinking: How Green Leads to Good Jobs & Revitalized Neighborhoods roundtable discussion. Ei Founder Holly Elmore was among the community leaders from the various Atlanta sectors to participate in the roundtable. Participants represented global corporations, local | national non-profits, local government, private enterprise, schools and clergy.  

    After an eight-minute Green Streets film and participant introductions, David moderated and Sophie filmed the vibrant discussions.

    Tyrone on the screen; Sophie
    standing in reverence.
    The conversation centered on unique challenges facing urban entrepreneurs; innovative partnerships and business practices are key to creating healthy, prosperous working environments. For instance, Tyrone mentioned the importance of mental health services to Green Streets success. Through therapy employees understand trigger points, heal wounds from emotional | physical trauma and grow as workers and individuals. 

    Two staffing agencies who employ ex-convicts, veterans and severely under-employed individuals shared valuable insights on how to segue challenges into successful long-term employment opportunities. In addition, Re-Entry Coalition executive director Bob Jackson was active in roundtable discussions and lunch afterwards.

    Ei Partner Novelis, the world's largest aluminum recycler and manufacturer of rolled aluminum, was a strong roundtable participant. Parting conversation included a potential Green Streets screening at Novelis' Atlanta global headquarters. Synergies abound: 
    • Novelis is the Atlanta Falcons Recycling Partner. 
    • Arthur Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons.
    • Green Streets team with
      Novelis associates
    • The Georgia Dome, home of the Falcons, is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI) Event Venue Pilot.
    • Ei works closely with Scott Jenkins, New Falcons Stadium general manager and Green Sports Alliance Chair.
    • AMBFF recently committed $15 million to the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund to assist the neighborhoods near the New Falcons Stadium become safer, healthier and more prosperous.
    • Ei's Source-Separated Materials Recycling Template Pilot is anchored at the Georgia Dome with tremendous common ground to partner with an Atlanta Green Streets.
    • Many new connections were made among the local roundtable participants with commitments to meet in the next weeks to continue the conversation.
    Thursday evening the Atlanta University Center Consortium - the largest contiguous consortium of African American private institutions of higher education in the nation - hosted a Green Streets screening at Clark Atlanta University. The enthusiastic crowd was eager to present questions to David, Tyrone and Randolph in the post-screening panel discussion.

    Friday morning began with the final Atlanta screening at the Fulton Leadership Academy (FLA) - where young men soar to greater heights. It was an inspirational visit for Tyrone, Randolph and the students; lifelong education was a key message in the post-screening discussions. 

    Green Streets team with
    Scott Jenkins @ GA Dome
    With fortitude, leadership and achievement as core values, the FLA is committed to a rigorous academic environment that empowers young men in grades 6-12 to become productive civic leaders. Within the offered curriculum, there is a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and a thematic approach that integrates experiences with aviation and aeronautics.

    After "soaring" with the young men, the Green Streets team met with Scott Jenkins for an overview of the New Falcons Stadium construction and operations.

    WOW: the Georgia Dome marquees were lit up with the following two messages:
    • Welcome Green Streets!
    • Happy Birthday Tyrone!
    Thank you to Scott and the Georgia Dome staff for going the extra yards with the marquee messages. The marquees expressed appreciation at a level not possible with words.

    Tyrone with his Happy Birthday sign
    What an honor for Tyrone to spend his 30th birthday in Atlanta sharing Green Streets with our grand city. The odds were against Tyrone making it to this life milestone; not only did he survive, Tyrone is THRIVING as a prominent contributor to necessary social consciousness shifts. 

    The inaugural Atlanta Green Streets visit planted fertile seeds for future visits to build empowering social enterprise grass roots programs. Discussions segued into food waste composting at created community gardens in distressed neighborhoods. 

    The Ei FB album, Green Streets Comes to Atlanta, gives a pictorial recap of the empowering visit.

    Atlanta is ripe for social enterprise to build a stable path from a Vicious Cycle to a Virtuous Cycle in our diverse communities... and remember prosperous social sectors have their own Vicious Cycles to transform. 

    Thank you Green Streets for your vision, fortitude, leadership and commitment to sharing. Thank you to The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation for bringing Green Streets to Atlanta!

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