The Politics of Going Green
Global Green Initiatives
National Green Initiatives
Pennsylvania Green Initiatives
Lancaster Green Initiatives
The Politics of Going Green
“Commit yourself to do whatever it is you can contribute in order to create a healthy and sustainable future - the world needs you desperately. Find that in yourself and make a commitment - that is what will change the world.”
Joyce Atkins is a Lancaster county resident who is very passionate about leaving green footprints. She gardens, uses energy efficient light bulbs, keeps her heat low, composts and is an advocate for going green.
Joyce attends numerous community meetings and works hard towards creating change. She is very spirited about creating a better environment and hopes to inspire others with her knowledge and experience living green.
Joyce understands change does not just happen and one must be proactive. She helped canvas for the Obama campaign and is responsible for getting numerous people to sign up to vote.
While one person can make a difference, it takes several to make change. There is a lot more to going green than saving energy and walking places. This case study will explore the politics of going green, what initiatives are currently in place and where the movement is headed on a global, national, state, and local level.
The Green Movement
"The common enemy of humanity is man.
In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up
with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming,
water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these
dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through
changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome.
The real enemy then, is humanity itself."
~Club of Rome
Joyce Atkins started going green before it was “popular”. As a child, her family did not have much money so being resourceful was a way of life. Turning lights off, reusing bags, and walking places are not new concepts.
While older generations have been helping the environment for years, it was just recently brought to generation X and Y’s attention.
Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, seemed to spark a “green” movement in America. While there have always been government agencies and non-profit organizations trying to protect the earth, they are just now gaining recognition and media attention.
People are starting to realize how important the earth and environment really are and if something drastic is not done, the planet’s resources will run out. It is more important than ever to help the environment by “going green”.
Every little contribution counts and there are many ways to get involved on a global, national, state and local level. Joyce stresses being informed and getting involved may be the best way for a greener, healthier environment.
“All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it's here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.”
~President Barrack Obama
Today, more than 50% of the world’s populations live in cities. By 2025, this figure will reach 60%. While New York and Tokyo were the only cities with more than 10 million inhabitants in 1950, today there are more than 20 mega cities, most of them in the southern hemisphere.
This ongoing urbanization causes social dislocation and ecological problems.
Towns and cities are consuming roughly 80% of global resources and generate the bulk of the world’s CO2 emissions. They are one of the main sources of our planet’s ecological crisis. It is more important than ever that countries and groups work together for the common goal of saving the environment and mother earth.
Global Greens is the international network of green parties and political movements. They were founded in 2001 at the First Global Greens Congress in Canberra, Australia. In 2008, they met at the Second Global Greens Congress, in São Paulo, Brazil.
They work to promote the Global Green Charter among the Green Parties of the world, as well as groups and society at-large stimulate.
They also facilitate action on matters of global consequences and hope to deepen communication among Green Parties and Federations. The Global Greens hope to bring each country and group together for one common goal.
The Green Belt Movement
The mission of the Green Belt Movement International is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace. Through its holistic approach to development, the Green Belt Movement addresses the underlying social, political, and economic causes of poverty and environmental degradation at the grassroots level.
Its empowerment seminars help people make critical linkages between the environment, governance, and their quality of life.
Participants develop a deep desire to better their own lives and communities. As they gain economic security, they are willing to protect shared resources such as forests, public parks, and rivers.
The GBM started by addressing a serious problem with a simple solution: getting communities to plant trees as a symbol of their commitment. Today, this approach is taking root worldwide.
How to Get Involved on a Global Level
Being aware and informed is one of the best ways to get involved on a global level. Realizing the problem is a global issue and not just an American situation will help people understand the importance of it. Planting a tree, conserving water and reusing bags are all ways to do your part, which in turn will help the global movement. Joining an organization like the GBM or Global Greens is another great way to get involved and show your support.
"So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity."
Joyce Atkins was involved in the 2008 presidential elections helping the Obama team canvas and campaign. She feels strongly about Obama’s plan and believes he has worked hard towards making the country greener.
The Environmental Protection Agency is working towards education, research, and enforcing regulations. The EPA is responsible for part of Obama’s initiatives called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act put $80 billion towards clean energy investments. The auto industry is working towards doing its part for a greener environment. Programs and incentives are being offered for consumers to help reduce the use of gas and emissions.
There are numerous ways to get involved on a National level like being involved with Earth Day and writing to agencies showing your concern. It is very important to be informed and it is not impossible or out of reach to be involved on a national level.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed on February 17, 2009. The Recovery Act will help technological advances in science and health and to invest in environmental protection and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits.
Under the act, $80 billion will go towards clean energy investments.
The act includes spending $11 billion on a moving renewable energy from rural areas where is it produced to cities where is it used. Green job training programs will receive $600 million and $4.5 billion will go towards making federal buildings greener and reducing energy costs. All of these improvements will create jobs and a greener United States.
Environmental Protection Agency
"I am honored by the confidence and faith President Obama and the Senate have reposed in me to lead the EPA in confronting the environmental challenges currently before us. As Administrator, I will ensure EPA's efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency. By keeping faith with these values and unleashing innovative, forward-thinking approaches - we can further protect neighborhoods and communities throughout the country."
-- Administrator Lisa Jackson
The Environmental Protection Agency leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.
The EPA is managing over $7 billion in projects and programs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They will offer resources to help other agencies go green and administer environmental laws that will govern Recovery activities.
Auto Industry – Model Year 2011
The government is also working towards making all vehicles more fuel-efficient by having car companies improve standards by the Model Year 2011. This will help the United States not rely on foreign oil and instead use other resources closer to home.
Driving a fuel-efficient vehicle is another way Joyce helps the environment. She owns a Toyota Prius and walks or takes public transportation when she can. Hybrid cars have really helped make an impact on the environment over the past few years.
Hybrids are vehicles that combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor as the power source. Most hybrids receive an mpg of 40 while regular compact cars receive around 35 mpg. The better gas mileage reduces CO2 emissions, which in turn creates a greener environment.
The government is also coming up with programs to get large “gas-guzzling” vehicles off the road. This summer’s CARS program, car allowance rebate system, proved to be quite successful with nearly 700,000 fuel-efficient vehicles sold. The incentive the government is offering is not only helping stimulate the economy, but also helping the environment.
U.S. Green Building Council
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 c3 non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 78 local affiliates, more than 20,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 100,000 LEED Accredited Professionals.
USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to soar to $60 billion by 2010. The USGBC lead a diverse team of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students.
Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption, 13% water consumption and 15% of gross domestic product per year, making green building a source of significant economic and environmental opportunity.
Greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy, and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs. Having green buildings will not only help the environment, but it will also create jobs and stimulate the American economy.
Leadership in Energy and Environment Design
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.
LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Many buildings today are striving to meet LEED standards which will greatly help the environment and human health.
How to Get Involved on a National Level
"Approximately 72 percent of the waste currently being landfilled or
incinerated consists of materials that could be put to higher and better use
through recycling or composting. Most of this material is office paper,
cardboard, non-recyclable paper, and food waste."
-Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
There are many ways one can get involved on a national level. Joyce encourages everyone that can vote, to vote. Vote in the national election every four years and do your research on each candidate. You can write letters to congressmen and express your concern for the environment. EPA employees can answer questions about what the government is doing for the environment. To Identify EPA employees by name and location call (202) 272-0167. Lastly, get involved with Earth Day. Every year on April 22nd Earth Day is celebrated around the United States. The government is urging people to commit to action, share what they’re doing, and get involved. More information about Earth day can be found on the website.
“Pennsylvania is leading the national drive toward energy independence. We are leveraging our purchasing power and targeting our resources to encourage the development of renewable energy technology across the commonwealth. By investing in this rapidly advancing field, we are protecting our environment and creating new economic opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.”
~Governor Ed Rendell
Department of Environmental Protection
The mission of the DEP is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. They will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.
The agency works towards creating cleaner air, land, water and energy through education and prevention.
Under the DEP, many government programs are in place to create a greener Pennsylvania. One of them includes Pennsylvania’s Energy Independence, which is working towards protecting consumers, growing the economy and strengthening national security.
Pennsylvania is investing $665.9 million to help with the development of alternative and renewable energy sources. The $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund and the nearly $16 million Alternative Fuels Investment Fund include $237.5 million specifically targeted toward helping consumers conserve electricity and manage higher energy prices. $428.4 million will go towards the development of alternative energy resources and create skilled jobs for Pennsylvania’s men and women.
Governor’s Green Government Council
Another green movement going on in Pennsylvania is the Governor’s Green Government Council. The mission of the Governor's Green Government Council is to help state agencies lead the Commonwealth towards a goal of zero emissions to air, land, and water by having all employees routinely consider the environmental effects of their policies, practices, and daily actions at all levels of decision making.
This is encouraging the movement of green buildings and working towards a cleaner Pennsylvania.
One of those buildings that are working towards going green is the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. It is upgrading its facilities to be more environmentally friendly. A series of self-supporting 'green' upgrades to make the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center more energy efficient will save more than $300,000 each year.
The upgrades are funded by the annual savings they create which include installing energy efficient lighting, a solar-powered hot water heating system, as well as water-conserving faucets and fixtures. Heating and air-conditioning systems will also be replaced to help the complex save money and energy.
In addition to conserving electricity and water, the upgrades will also reduce the facility's carbon dioxide emissions by 1,650 metric tons annually; roughly the equivalent of taking 300 cars off Pennsylvania's roads each year. The energy savings are part of a 15-year, $3.6 million contract recently awarded to Pepco Energy Service after a competitive bid process. Pepco will be paid by the annual savings realized from the project. The project is expected to be completed by April 2010.
Pennsylvania Resource Council, Inc.
The Pennsylvania Resources Council was established in 1939. It is one of the Commonwealth's oldest citizen action environmental organizations. The council is recognized as a state and national leader in waste reduction and recycling. The PRC also focuses on litter and visual blight prevention, watershed awareness, and composting.
The strength of PRC's programs is derived from its continuing efforts to bring people, businesses, and government together to prevent and solve environmental problems. PRC has offices in Pittsburgh at the CCI Center and in eastern Pennsylvania at the Environmental Living Demonstration Center in Ridley Creek State Park, Delaware County.
The offer workshops in backyard composting, rain barrels, vermicomposting, health and environment, and controlling invasive plants. One of their main focuses is litter prevention. The council offers community outreach programs to try and inform Pennsylvania residents about the prevention and effects of littering.
How to Get Involved in Pennsylvania
The Department of Environmental Protection puts out an e-notice to those who wish to sign up to receive emails on topics they care about. Being aware of updates and changes will help PA citizens become better informed. The DEP website works very hard towards informing the public of what is going on and by reading the DEP Daily Update and viewing the Activities and Events Schedule, the public can become involved with decisions being made for Pennsylvania’s environment.
Being informed and voting in local elections is the best way for change to begin. Reading newspapers and online articles will help you make the decision for the best candidate and writing letters to your local congressmen is another great way to get involved and show you care. Many organizations such as 4-H and the Pennsylvania Resource Council offer workshops which will inform you on green practices. Looking outside of your local area may help you find interesting workshops and seminars. Many communities are helping their citizens “go green” and save money.
Lancaster County Green Initiatives
"To forever preserve the beautiful farmland
and productive soils of Lancaster County
and its rich agricultural heritage; and
to create a healthy environment for the
long-term sustainability of the
agricultural economy and farming as
a way of life."
Lancaster County is largely agricultural and has been workings towards going green for years. The Amish of Lancaster County are a constant reminder of how we should be helping the earth and their dedication and efforts to their religion have always been eco-friendly. There are government agencies in the county working towards a greener Lancaster.
With two places of higher education in the county, it is moving towards new and innovative buildings and advanced sustainability. Green roof tops are just one addition to Lancaster along with the numerous farmer’s markets and buy fresh, buy local stands. People in the community work towards stimulating the local economy and enjoy the Amish’s way of organic gardening.
The Lancaster County Planning Commission
The Lancaster County Planning Commission is the only agency that comprehensively addresses county-wide planning issues. The Commission combines county policies with federal and state planning responsibilities to support the application of county-wide plans for the future. The agency protects the health, safety, and welfare of Lancaster County residents.
It provides leadership in the management of growth and change in the county; and balances the desire to preserve the uniqueness of Lancaster County with the need to change the economy, ecology, and built environment. The agency makes sure all homes in are built on eco friendly property and consider the environment when planning new developments and homes.
The Planning Commission is also involved in the green roof project. In 2008, Lancaster County received a $479 thousand PA Department of Environmental Protection Energy Harvest Grant to green 79,000 square feet of roof in Lancaster County’s urban areas. Energy Harvest Grant program is intended to provide a stimulus for proven technologies that reduce our energy use, improves our environment, supports economic development and enhances our quality of life.
Goals of the Roof Greening Project include energy conservation, reduced storm water runoff, urban cooling and local job creation. The Green Roof project is a unique way the Lancaster County Planning Commission is in involved in going green.
Lancaster County Parks and Recreation
The Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to improving the well-being of County residents by providing facilities and programs that encourage participation in outdoor activities and foster personal action for the conservation of natural resources. The department works with the public to educate and inform.
There are a total of six parks and two trails in which the Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation over-see. By being involved with the Parks and Recreation department, Lancaster citizens can get a real feel of nature and truly see how their efforts to go green are helping the environment.
Lancaster County Campuses Go Green
Millersville University and Franklin and Marshall College are two schools in Lancaster County. Both places of higher education are making efforts to go green. Millersville University has its first “green” building on campus. The building, called Stayer Hall, needs the requirements of LEED. Stayer Hall is home to the education department and current teaching students are learning green practices of tomorrow.
The building has numerous windows to provide natural lighting and all the windows are operable to allow for temperature control. The lights in the building are all on sensors to reduce use. The floor is made from recyclable materials and can be easily buffed down if damaged. The building is the first of its kind for Millersville, but the University hopes to make many of its other building more environmentally friendly in the future.
Millersville is also making efforts towards recycling. They are committed to following the spirit of PA Act 101, which mandates an effective recycling program.
Last year, Millersville University recycled over 300 tons of paper, plastic and metal materials. In doing so, the University saved over $20,000 in deferred land filling fees. Additional revenues were realized from sales to reprocessors.
The recycling not only avoids additional global warming and air pollution, but it serves as a reminder to the students of the interconnectiveness of personal behavior to the welfare of us all.
Franklin and Marshall College is doing their part to save the environment. It is their mission to foster a deep interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability and environmental stewardship concepts and topics and to nurture innovative and creative leadership strategies. It is their hope to broaden an appreciation of the natural world and enrich student’s knowledge on the environment and sustainable living.
They have a sustainability house where students learn how to live a green life style. There is an organic garden and numerous opportunities for students to become involved in learning how to be more eco-friendly.
It is very important places of higher education are going green.
These institutions set the standards for the rest of the community and help younger generations understand why sustainability is very important. Lancaster County is fortunate to have two state of the art universities to help encourage the green movement.
How to Get Involved in Lancaster County
There are tons of ways to get involved in your own community. Attending a seminar or speech at Millersville University or Franklin and Marshall College could increase your knowledge on living green and show new and innovative ways to save the environment.
One of the best things you can do for the environment and the community is to buy fresh and buy local.
Seek out businesses that support local agriculture and products and purchase your items there. Central Market in Lancaster City has numerous businesses that support the local economy.
Attending local meetings and voting is another great way to show support for the environment. For more information on community meetings and town hall hearings, visit the Lancaster County website.
"Only after the last tree has been cut down…the last river has been
poisoned…the last fish caught, only then will you find that money cannot be
- Cree Indian Prophesy