As an organization founded on collaboration between the region’s research universities, the Research Triangle Foundation is always looking for new opportunities to engage our academic partners. One of the projects in this vein involves a group of landscape architecture students from North Carolina State University. This week, we had the chance to hear presentations from them on the potential for planting and amenities around a new pedestrian bridge in southern RTP.
Tag Archives: environment@rtp
e-Waste is a growing problem – one significant issue is that it is often taken to other nations for handling and improper or unsafe disposal.
Given the scale of the e-waste challenge, the United States has turned to an initiative called “Solving the E-Waste Problem” or StEP, manged by the United Nations University (UNU), which provides a forum for science-based solutions to international policy problems. In May of this year, EPA, a founding member of StEP, announced a five year, $2.5 million grant to help finance the creation of the first-ever comprehensive inventory of the country’s e-waste output. The project will “help authorities track shipments of North American electronic waste and provide support to nations in both Africa and Asia coping with e-waste imports …”
Adding to efforts locally, as of January 1st of this year, the disposal of computer equipment and televisions (among many other things) in a landfill or incinerator is prohibited by North Carolina state law. While this might be a new concept to some, for the last eight years, Environment@rtp has been offering a way for RTP employees to dispose of their residential e-waste. Twice a year, the committee provides a free and convenient opportunity for employees to drop of their household electronic waste and have it properly disposed of, through recycling and/or reuse. And for the last five years, the committee has partnered with Kramden Institute, Inc. which collects, refurbishes, and donates PCs to less advantaged students in North Carolina.
Environment@rtp will host its fifteenth Electronics Recycling Day on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 for RTP employees to drop off unneeded household electronics for donation and/or recycling. Read more »
Let’s say you’re taking a drive through RTP, as people often do, to get the lay of the land. What stands out the most along the way? If you said ‘trees’, you wouldn’t be alone. The Research Triangle Park is frequently characterized by its extensive landscaping and vegetation. And if you look a little closer, you’ll also find an abundance of flowers, lakes, streams, and wildlife. From time to time, it’s nice to take a step back and appreciate the rich natural landscape of RTP.
Natural systems have been an integral part of RTP’s development since the beginning. Land management regulations have always kept portions of our research campuses wooded, while topography and drainage have guided the way sites were laid out. And for many years, RTP has had so much land available that its pastoral character was practically a given. But as undeveloped property became scarcer, it was time to be more intentional and strategic with how we relate to the environment.
Phew! It’s Friday. And what a week! A week filled with excitement and energy in and around the RTP and the Triangle. Bear with me as I recap… I promise, I have an important point.
- Entrepreneurs. As many of you know, we started the week with a bang as The Blackstone Charitable Foundation committed $3.6 million in 2011 to support a dense network of entrepreneurial support in this region.
- Electronics. The RTP community through wind rain and sun came out in force to recycle old electronics and donate reusable computers to Kramden Institute, Inc., a 501(c)(3)not-for-profit charitable institution to refurbish. Kramden then empowers hardworking, less-advantaged students in the community by giving them home computers, allowing them to bridge the digital divide and advance their achievement.
- Elevators. Elevator pitches that is – during a 2-minute lightening round from some of the most promising start-ups and some serial entrepreneurs at the CED Venture Conference. First, can I just say the coffee at the beautiful and expansive Raleigh Convention Center rocks! And second, we’ve got some serious rock-stars in this area. Michael Capps at Epic Games. You crushed it. Ben Weinberger at Digitalsmiths. Just to name a few.
- Expansions. I told you. It was a busy week! RTI International held a grand opening event for their gorgeous, new 127,000 square-foot LEED Silver Building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) on its main campus in the Park. And we celebrated with nearly 300 Biogen Idec employees and partners from the RTP and from around the region and broke ground for an 180,000-square-foot LEED office building, expanding their presence in the Park. Read more »
257 tons. Since the first Electronics Recycling Day held in RTP almost five years ago, the Environment@rtp committee has collected roughly 7,825 donations of used electronic equipment such as computers, stereos, cell phones, VCRs, and TVs from RTP employees, amounting to 257 tons of recyclable material being donated or diverted from landfill disposal.
As a tech enthusiast, I’m an early adopter of the latest and greatest gadget. It’s silly, but there’s a whole walk-in closet at my home with outdated electronics and yes, a couple of tube TVs. As a result, the question of what to do with outdated electronics has come up in our spring cleaning conversation, and no doubt the disposal of old electronic equipment has become a global issue. Throwing these items in the trash is not a solution – there is a North Carolina law banning the disposal of televisions and computers that began this year.
Spring is upon us! For those of you who haven’t had a chance to get outside in recent months, now is a great time to re-discover RTP’s trail system.
Here at RTP Headquarters, I’m fortunate enough to have one of the Park’s 16 interconnected trails running right outside my door. In fact that’s actually the case for most people working in RTP. Our trail network is now extensive enough that nearly every road in the Park has a path running alongside it. Talk about convenience! If you’re in need of some good exercise at lunchtime or after work, look no further. If you’re in the mood for a casual nature walk, we’ve got that covered too.
One of RTP’s most outstanding features is, of course, its rich natural setting. Getting out on the trails is the best way to experience that first-hand. I, for one, have been taking advantage of them more and more as the weather warms up.
Keep an eye out for some of the Park’s bluebird boxes the next time you go for a walk or jog. There are also boxes that shelter wood ducks and other bird species. And did you know that RTP has a tree identification trail along Davis Dr near Kit Creek Rd? The trails offer frequent detours away from the roads to follow a hillside, weave among trees, or lead you past a lake. With 16.6 miles of trail built to date, there’s no shortage of great natural scenery.
During 2011, expect to see several new trail segments in RTP. There are three currently in design or under review. These segments will extend the existing trails, and even start to offer connections to routes outside the Park.
Are you ready to hit the trail? You can plan out your route with this map.
If you’d like more information on recreation and wildlife in RTP, head over to Environment@rtp.
Nissan’s slogan is “SHIFT the way you move,” and yesterday, that’s exactly what RTP was trying to do. On March 3rd, The Research Triangle Park was the very first North Carolina stop on the Nissan LEAF™ drive electric tour. SmartCommute@rtp and Environment@rtp hosted this exclusive event in an effort to create awareness about more sustainable commuting options for Park employees. The tour stop offered Park employees an opportunity to be some of the first people in the state to test drive the 100% electric vehicle.
For those of you haven’t heard, the new Nissan LEAF™ is the first mass-produced, 100% electric, no gas, no tailpipe vehicle. All you have to do is plug it in, charge up its battery, and it’s ready to go! An electric vehicle like this allows commuters an opportunity to save money on fuel charges and reduce emissions without having to sacrifice any of the comforts of a traditional car.
During my test drive, I was really impressed with the handling and pick-up this vehicle has. It’s a real car, despite the fact that it’s practically silent. It has some fun and amazing features, including a photovoltaic solar panel, a sophisticated navigation system, and even an iPhone app (which I was disappointed to discover, does not allow you to remotely drive your LEAF™ like a cartoon super hero).
With the rising price of gas and the ever present concern for our environment that many RTP employees have, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of these driving through the Park in the next few years. Take a look at the video of Cris Mulder, Director of Marketing for the Research Triangle Foundation, during her test drive!
If you missed the event at RTP yesterday, the drive electric tour continues this weekend at the State Farmer’s Market. You can register for a test drive at https://www.drivenissanleaf.com/Event/EventDetails.aspx?eid=32.
Environment@rtp, a committee of the RTP Owners & Tenants Association, is hosting its eleventh Electronics Recycling Day today (for RTP employees ONLY) to drop off unneeded household electronics for donation and/or recycling. Additionally, employees may drop off mercury containing thermometers and thermostats. Since the first event was held almost five years ago, the Environment@rtp committee has collected donations of used electronic equipment such as computers, stereos, cell phones, VCRs, and TVs, from roughly 6,725 RTP employees, amounting to 220 tons of recyclable material being donated or diverted from landfill disposal.
Additionally, computers that meet specifications will be repaired and refurbished by the Kramden Institute, Inc. (www.kramden.org) and donated to less advantaged students in North Carolina.
Who: RTP employees (of companies located within the official boundaries of The Research Triangle Park)
When: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 from 7am – 6pm
Where: Nortel’s Gateway Facility in RTP
4001 E. Chapel Hill Nelson Hwy. (Hwy. 54)
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti and Deputy Director Sheila Holman from the Division of Air Quality of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources will take the Challenge – the SmartCommute Challenge. During this year’s kick-off event “Curb Your Congestion” on April 15th at 9:00a.m., Secretary Conti and Deputy Director Holman will give remarks on the importance of using alternative modes of transit in relation to the growth of the Triangle, the state of transportation in the Triangle and how the SmartCommute Challenge is a great way change commuting habits and improve the Triangle’s air quality.
The 2010 SmartCommute Challenge, an annual non-profit public service campaign aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in the Triangle, encourages commuters who work or live in Durham, Orange or Wake counties to pledge to ride the bus, carpool, join a vanpool, telework, bike or walk to work at least once between April 15 and May 15.
“Events like the SmartCommute Challenge can increase the number of people on those buses, on bikes or in vanpools and take even more cars off the road,” says Secretary Conti.
AAA of the Carolinas recently reported that the cost of driving in North Carolina is on the rise. The average cost of driving a sedan is up to $9,098 from $8399 in 2008 which is an increase to 61 cents a mile. With the economy still recovering, Triangle residents can mitigate the price hike by finding different ways to commute. Choosing sustainable transportation can save a driver up to $25/day for a 40-mile commute to and from work.
This year’s kick-off event is a transportation and air quality press conference and fair featuring:
- Bicycle safety checks provided by REI staff,
- Triangle Segway Obstacle and Demo Course,
- Melon Bicycles with folding bike test drives,
- Alternate fuel vehicles displays provided by Triangle Alternate Fuel,
- Triangle Transit bus display to demonstrate how to use the bike rack and riding the bus,
- A chance to meet the Triangle’s air quality mascots, Clair and CAM, the Clean Air Maniac
- Sponsor and partner organization display tables with information and give-aways.
“With gas prices at their highest in months, many commuters are still looking for ways to save in this economy,” said David King, general manager of Triangle Transit, a member of the GoTriangle family of services and partner of the SmartCommute Challenge. “The SmartCommute Challenge gives Triangle commuters a chance to look at how they currently get to work and assess where they can make environmentally-friendly and budget-friendly changes.”
“Curb Your Congestion” the SmartCommute Challenge and Air Quality Awareness kick-off will be April 15th at 9:00a.m. at the Research Triangle Park Headquarters, 12 Davis Drive in RTP.
Yesterday, the Research Triangle Foundation and the Environment@RTP committee hosted a Solid Waste Management Vendor Fair at the RTP Headquarters (which also conveniently happens to be my place of work). Around noon, I ventured across the lobby with some of my colleagues to people watch and check out the smells of pizza wafting through our offices.
What started as a quick lunchtime excursion turned into an educational networking event – in addition to the free pizza and nifty giveaways at the exhibitor tables, Scott Mouw, the North Carolina State Recycling Director, presented a thought-provoking talk on the waste-related challenges currently facing North Carolina.
The numbers are quite staggering. Did you know the United States generates approximately 230 million tons of “trash” annually – about 4.6 pounds per person per day. Together, Durham and Wake counties contribute over 1.5 million tons of this amount. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills.
According to Mr. Mouw, the mega drivers of waste problems are peak oil, global competition, and climate change. Spawning from these impacts, waste generates a huge hit on our economy as well as on the environment – Mouw expects a 20% cost of the country’s GDP will be spent on waste management over the next few years.
We’re not the only ones feeling the economic and environmental effects of waste piling up in our landfills. China now consumes about half the world’s cement, over 30% of its steel, and more than 20% of its aluminum. At the RTP event yesterday, Mouw alluded to a “circular economy” concept China and the World Health Organization are exploring to battle the country’s environmental issues. The circular economy approach focuses on the life-cycle of economy and environmental interactions, with the idea that waste from one product becomes the input of another. This is something China and other countries must get serious about in order to sustain their incredible growth and manage heavy economic costs.
Solid waste-management costs for selected cities worldwide.
When Mr. Mouw started talking about our state’s economic development potential in the waste management industry, my ears perked up. I had no idea North Carolina will soon be home to the largest PET bottle recycling facility in the United States. A company called Clear Path Recycling plans to build a facility in Fayetteville to recycle over 280 million lbs. annually of PET bottles – or about 5 million bottles – starting in 1st quarter of 2010. In addition to creating quality jobs for the citizens of North Carolina, recycling this amount of bottles annually will save over 1 million cubic yards of landfill space.
After I left the Vendor Fair and recycled my Coke Zero, I sat down to talk with my colleagues about best practices in blogging and ways we can cover events of this sort throughout RTP. If waste-management can generate seven paragraphs of text, just imagine what we have in store for this blog!
Now, don’t forget to subscribe to that little RSS feed in the upper right corner before taking out the week’s recycling.