Brownfield Remediation Provides Local Opportunity

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Late this past fall, Cindy Quast, an environmental engineer with Stanley Consultants’ Iowa City Office, invited Blue Planet Green Living to visit a brownfield site. Quast, a 20-year veteran of environmental consulting, has been cleaning up brownfields for more than 10 years. Joe Hennager and I joined Quast at the western edge of Davenport, Iowa, for a quick course in Brownfields 101.

A chill wind cuts through my coat, and I instantly regret having left my gloves in the car. On the far side of the highway where we have parked, wetlands serve as a buffer zone for the Mississippi River. Eagles nest in the trees high above, soaring over the water to catch their food. A few feet from the busy highway on the near side, environmental engineer Cindy Quast is talking with two men. They stand at the bottom of a small hill that borders a long, private driveway.

One of the men, Wyatt McCain, is taking soil samples from the base of the hill. The other man, Daniel Cook, wears the uniform of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). We walk together to the far end of the driveway, where McCain begins sampling again. Quast and Cook take turns patiently explaining to us the work being done on the site and why it’s important.

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Donate Vehicle –> Help Charity –> Get Tax Deduction

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Hundreds of thousands of people donate their junkers — and even, good, used vehicles — each year to benefit their favorite charities. One company that helps make that possible is the Vehicle Donation Processing Center (VDPC), owned and operated by Harvard E. “Pete” Palmer, Jr. of Oakland, California, and his business partner, John R. Learned.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Palmer by phone from his California office. We asked him to tell what happens when consumers gift their vehicles through his program and to explain the advantages for all parties. In the process, we also learned some interesting facts about charitable tax deductions. — Publisher

PALMER: It would be lovely to say that everybody thinks about car donation as a tremendous way to help a charity of their choice, or charities in general. That may well be a part of everybody’s thinking, and certainly it is the big part of what we believe; but for most people, that’s the minority thing. For the great majority, they are looking for a one-time garbage-removal service. …

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Property Buyer, Beware! (Unless You Have an E.S.A.)

February 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Brownfields, CERCLA, Environment, Front Page, Regulations, U.S.

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Imagine that a local youth organization has construction plans for an unoccupied portion of the property they’ve owned for over fifty years. When the organization approaches the bank to refinance the property, instead of being granted funds to complete the construction, they discover that the soil and/or groundwater is potentially contaminated. Plans for their new activity center and playground are put on hold when they find themselves entangled in the costly activities of further investigation and potential remediation.

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Tax Incentives Boost Green ROI

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. He is also co-author, with Harold J. Rafson, of Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999). What follows is Part 2 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You’re known in Chicago for the largest rooftop solar installation in the city, on top of a brownfield redevelopment project. But people say solar technology has a long payback. Is solar economically viable?

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Tailgating for A Common Green Purpose

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Did you watch the Bears play the Packers yesterday from the warmth of your home? Or maybe you were among the frozen fans braving 7-degree weather to root for your favorite team on the shores of Lake Michigan. Blue Planet Green Living was there, too, tailgating in the parking lot of the Adler Planetarium near Soldier Field.

So, go ahead, ask. What does the Bears/Packers game — and tailgating, for that matter — have to do with green living? It’s a fair question.

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