VEC at the Forefront with Special Green Projects
VEC stays current with new and emerging trends and technologies in the Green Economy with special projects designed to pursue systemic solutions to environmental and economic challenges. Recent and ongoing projects include:
- Environmental Career Panel Discussions
- VEC & VT DEC Urban Soils Study
- Vermont Green Careers website
- Preliminary Evaluation of a Solar Array at the Elizabeth Mine Site
- Increasing Petroleum Cleanup Rates for Vermont Contractors
- Landmark study – Vermont’s Environmental Sector: Identifying Green Workforce Training Needs and Opportunities
- A Video Guide to Green Up Your Business
- Brownfields Program Review
- Landmark Guide for Farmers on Renewable Energy Options
- Vermont Technical College Food-Waste-to-Energy Biodigester
Environmental Career Panel Discussions
In order to achieve the educational outreach component of our mission, VEC collectively wanted to initiate an effort to offer Vermont universities and colleges the opportunity to host environmental career panel discussions. The panels will be comprised of VEC members with diverse professional backgrounds within Vermont’s environmental sector. The panels will provide students with a better understanding of the different opportunities in the environmental field regardless of degree focus and learn firsthand how the career paths of prominent environmental professionals in Vermont have evolved. The panels will also give students advice on how best to market themselves to potential employers and will allow students an opportunity to ask questions. The first VEC panel discussion will be hosted by UVM on March 15. For more information please contact Kurt Muller (802) 229-4600. Read the VEC career panels press release announcement.
VEC & VT DEC Urban Soils Study
Development projects located in downtowns and village centers frequently require the excavation and offsite disposal of soils for foundations and footers, parking garages, stormwater control measures, grading, and other reasons. Excavated soils frequently contain low levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (“PAHs”), arsenic, and lead. The source of these PAHs and metals is often is due to area-wide atmospheric deposition of exhaust products from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons including wood, oil, coal, gasoline, and garbage. As a result, PAHs and select metals are often found in soils associated with downtowns or village centers at concentrations that exceed the current Vermont soil screening values. Therefore, under existing Vermont environmental rules, these soils are legally considered a “solid waste,” and are almost always required to be shipped for disposal at a certified landfill (i.e. Coventry). The shipping costs, district fees, and disposal charges for these soils is expensive and add thousands or even millions of dollars to project costs that are often financed with Vermont and federal tax dollars, including Tax Increment Financing, state and federal grants and loans, and other public sources of funds. In some cases the soil management expense only makes a project cost prohibitive.
VEC recognized this issue and formed the Urban Soils Work Group, which since 2014 has been actively working with DEC to change the Vermont rules in a manner that could significantly reduce these costs, while maintaining the protection of human health and the environment. Kurt Muller P.E., a Senior Project Engineer with The Johnson Company and VEC Board Member since 2013, worked diligently with attorneys, State legislators, and DEC to draft legislation which was signed into law by Governor Shumlin in 2015. This legislation requires DEC to promulgate rules by July 1, 2016 which will allow the following alternatives to effectively manage urban soils:
1. Relocation of equally or less contaminated soil to a “receiving site” where it will be permanently isolated under a clean protective barrier;
2. Establish representative, state-wide soil background concentrations for PAHs, arsenic, and lead that will be used as comparison screening values and dictate the need for corrective action;
3. Allow for the use of PAH, arsenic, and lead impacted soils as alternative daily cover in Vermont’s only certified landfill; and
4. Allow categorically certified disposal facilities (those that currently accept inert waste such as asphalt, concrete, catch basin grit, stumps, etc.) to apply for a permit to also accept soils impacted by PAHs, arsenic, and lead.
The VEC Urban Soil Work Group intends to continue to provide input and review services to DEC throughout this rule making process to ensure pragmatic yet equally protective rules are established.
Vermont Green Careers Website
The Vermont Green Careers website was developed to assist users in finding information about identifying and beginning a green career in the Green Mountain State. The Vermont Department of Labor contracted with the Vermont Environmental Consortium to develop the Green Careers Website. The website is one aspect of a larger Vermont Business Sector Analysis project conducted by the Vermont Department of Labor and Vermont Technical College. The project was created to develop strategies and tactics to align the state’s workforce education and training resources with the needs of employers. It addresses the Vermont’s Next Generation Commission’s finding that one of the most significant barriers to business development in Vermont is a lack of skilled workforce. (The full Commission’s findings can be found here: Next Generation Report (PDF)
Preliminary Evaluation of a Solar Array at the Elizabeth Mine Site
Encore Redevelopment (Encore) is pleased to provide this preliminary evaluation of the financial and technical feasibility of installing a solar photovoltaic array at the Elizabeth Mine Superfund Site in Strafford, Vermont. This effort was supported by previous work conducted by Rahul Khakurel, Master of Engineering Management (M.E.M.) candidate, Dartmouth College.
View the Elizabeth Mine Report
Increasing Petroleum Cleanup Rates for Vermont Contractors
Vermont’s reimbursement rates to contractors that clean up petroleum pollution were well below prevailing regional rates. VEC conducted a survey of 88 labs and chemical & engineering firms. VEC then submitted its recommendations to the Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation, whereupon rates increased approximately 35%, benefiting C&E firms statewide and keeping Vermont’s C&E sector competitive.
View the Final Report
A Video Guide to Green Up Your Business
The Green Makeover – A Video Guide to Greening Up Your Business: Join Johnson Woolen Mills owner Stacy Manosh and special guest stars for a fun look at a real, point-by-point environmental assessment and retrofit process. Along the way, you’ll meet other business people who have installed new technologies and found some surprising ways to reduce environmental impact – all while improving their bottom line.
This 35-minute video features appearances by Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Willem Lange, and Rusty DeWees as well as original music by Jon Gailmor. It’s fun, informative, and it’s guaranteed to benefit all Vermont business owners and managers! View the video here.
VEC has coordinated a multi-stakeholder team to design improvements to Vermont’s brownfields program to encourage more brownfields remediation and redevelopment. Group members included environmental scientists and lawyers, regional planners, and developers.
The VEC group’s white paper resulted in statute that created a formal Brownfields Program Advisory committee to consider its specific recommendation. The committee’s November, 2007 report to the legislature endorsed almost all of the VEC group’s recommendations, promising significant reform to Vermont’s brownfields program and the redevelopment of more of the state’s estimated 3,000 polluted and under-used properties. View VEC Brownfields White Paper.
Landmark Guide for Farmers on Renewable Energy Options
VEC created the first-ever comprehensive guide to renewable energy options for farmers for the Agency of Agriculture. With input from 24 experts in renewable technology and feedstocks, this landmark publication was given to 1,200 farmers, all state legislators and federal delegations, and is now available to the public.
After a Statehouse reception and extensive media coverage (AP, WCAX, etc.) the book generated a flood of requests.