The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has issued a Call for Action in support of the Biogas Production Incentive Act, Senate Bill S.306 and House Bill HR.1158. This legislation would enact a financial subsidy in the form of a production tax credit (PTC) or investment tax credit (ITC) for biogas derived from landfill gas and anaerobic digester installations that is placed into the natural gas market. This tax benefit is similar to benefits that already exist for electrical projects utilizing waste-derived biogas. A link on the SWANA website (see Action Center/Support Biogas Incentives) provides a template for contacting House and Senate representatives (www.swana.org).
Biogas Industry Coalition Update
At BioCycle’s recent Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling Conference (October 19-21 in Minneapolis), an evening session was held to discuss formation of a Biogas Industry Coalition. Close to 50 people attended the session; there was great interest in forming a group to advocate for biogas production via anaerobic digestion. One immediate action requested was for BioCycle to provide a summary of federal legislation related to renewable energy and climate change that could impact the future of biogas production and markets for biogas. “The best time to add or modify language in bills is when they are in committee,” said Jack Werner of The Stella Group, a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies in Washington, D.C. “Once a bill is passed out of committee and goes to the House or Senate floor, it is difficult to make changes.”
BioCycle has created a Google Group to provide information on the suite of legislative initiatives currently before committees in the House and Senate, as well as continue the dialogue on formation of an anaerobic digester (AD) biogas coalition (go to www.biocycle.net/ ADbiogas.html). Bills to track and suggested modifications to specific sections are included in a document on the Google Group page. These bills include: S. 306/H.R. 1158 — Biogas Production Incentive Act of 2009; S. 1733 — Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009 (Senate climate bill); H.R. 2454 — American Clean Energy and Security Act (House climate bill that already passed); S.1462 — American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, Sec. 133 and Sec. 610; and H.R. 2846 — American Energy Act.
Sustainable Landscape Rating System Released
In early November, the Sustainable Sites Initiative released the nation’s first rating system for the design, construction and maintenance of sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. A partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Initiative’s rating system represents four years of work by dozens of the country’s leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals, as well as public input from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations to create this essential missing link in green design. “While carbon-neutral performance remains the holy grail for green buildings, sustainable landscapes move beyond a do-no-harm approach,” says Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “Landscapes sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats and ultimately give back through significant economic, social and environmental benefits never fully measured until now.”
The rating system works on a 250-point scale, with levels of achievement for obtaining 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of available points, recognized with one through four stars, respectively. The rating system contains 15 prerequisites and 51 credits that cover all stages of the site development process, from site selection to landscape maintenance. These credits can apply to projects ranging from corporate campuses, transportation corridors, public parks and single-family residences. The rating system is part of two new reports issued from the Initiative, “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” and “Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009,” both available for download at www.sustainablesites.org.
To test the rating system, the Sustainable Sites Initiative also opened a call for pilot projects. Any type of designed landscape is eligible, as long as the project size is at least 2,000 square feet. The call will remain open until February 15, 2010; the initiative will work with and oversee the projects during the two-year process. More information about the pilot projects is available at www.sustainablesites.org/pilot. Feedback will be used to revise the rating system and inform the technical reference manual.
Sally Brown Named Soil Science Fellow
At the recent annual meeting of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), Dr. Sally Brown of the University of Washington (UW) — and BioCycle columnist and Editorial Board member — was recognized as an SSSA Fellow. Members of the Society nominate worthy colleagues based on their professional achievements and meritorious service, according to an announcement of the 2009 Fellows. “Only .3 percent of the Society’s active and emeritus members may be elected Fellow.” Brown is a Research Associate Professor in the School of Forest Resources, College of the Environment at UW. Her program specializes in benefits and risks associated with land application of residuals. She is a member of the National Academy of Science (NAS) Standing Committee on Soil Science and was a member of the NAS Committee on the Bioavailability of Contaminants in Soils and Sediments.
Pipeline Quality Biomethane Analysis
The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) completed the final report for a project initiated in August 2007 to develop a guidance document for pipeline quality biomethane from anaerobic digestion of manure and farm effluent from dairy operations. “Pipeline Quality Biomethane: North American Guidance Document for Introduction of Dairy Waste Derived Biomethane into Existing Natural Gas Networks,” includes three separate Task Reports. The Task 1 Report provides background information on biogas production, sampling methods for testing dairy biogas, and reviews digester designs. The Task 2 Report is the culmination of GTI’s Laboratory Testing and Analysis Program that focused on parameters typical of natural gas and potential constituents of concern in raw biogas and biomethane. The test matrix included over 300 chemical species as well as six biological assays to address potential concerns about possible contaminants. The objective of Task 2 was to verify that the sampled biomethane could meet general natural gas tariff requirements and provide supportive information regarding constituents outside of gas quality parameters covered in an American Gas Association guidance (Report No. 4A). Testing at two sites showed that biomethane from dairy waste can meet typical tariff and contract constituent considerations with utilization of appropriate clean up technologies.
The Task 3 Report is the Guidance Document, which provides reference and recommendations for consideration of biomethane from dairy waste digestion for introduction with natural gas in existing gas pipeline networks in North America. The document addresses general interchange of biomethane, verification testing and suggests tolerance limits. “Through the total work of this project executed by GTI, it is concluded and demonstrated that dairy waste based biomethane of high quality may be produced within typical natural gas tariff and contract constituent values.” The Final Report can be downloaded from GTI’s website: www.gastechnology.org.
The October issue of BioCycle incorrectly stated that Green Roof Solutions supplied growing media for the newly installed green roof at the U.S. Postal Service building in Manhattan. Turner Construction provided this information, but Joe DiNorscia points out that it was actually rooflite® growing media, provided by his company Skyland USA, LLC. Adding Food Waste To Existing Composting Facilities A new report, “Best Management Practices for Incorporating Food Residuals Into Existing Yard Waste Composting Operations,” was produced by the U.S. Composting Council under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III. The guide has a checklist of considerations and covers possible sources of food waste, and how to negotiate contracts, hauling logistics, etc. Another section covers operational considerations that should be addressed before food waste arrives at the site, including an overview of the physical characteristics of several feedstocks, such as compostable products. It also looks at compost recipes, a suggested daily process, and how to avoid/remedy odor problems. Case studies of two composting facilities that have successfully added food waste to a yard trimmings site — Barnes Nursery in Ohio, and Earthtenders in New Hampshire — are included. To download the report, go to www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/pdf/FR2YW_ BMP.pdf.
Composting In Cape Town
The city of Cape Town, South Africa has expanded its commitment to diverting green waste from landfill to composting. Soil & More Reliance (SMR), a subsidiary of Eosta (an international distributor of organic fresh fruits and vegetables) signed a contract with Cape Town worth about $9.4 million (70 million Rand) to recover about 95 percent of the city’s green waste for composting. SMR started working with Cape Town in 2007 when it was contracted to chip green waste on three sites; now SMR will be chipping green waste at 12 sites in and around Cape Town, with a total estimated quantity of 120,300 cubic yards/month over the next three years. The landfill diversion qualifies as an emissions reduction project according to guidelines under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program Underway
On August 31st, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the first matching payment had been made by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide financial assistance for the establishment, harvest, storage and transport of biomass feedstocks for energy production. FSA will provide matching payments to qualified producers who sell materials to qualified biomass conversion facilities. Show Me Energy Cooperative of Missouri was the first to qualify for the match. Show Me Energy makes fuel pellets from agricultural and forestry waste products, which are sold for heat and power applications. The cooperative has the potential to expand to producing cellulosic biofuels in the future. It has over 500 biomass suppliers providing a variety of feedstocks, including switchgrass, sawdust, wood chips and corn stover.
Swedish Food Labels List CO2 Emissions
As part of an experiment, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with the production of food are appearing on food labels in Sweden, according to a New York Times article. A 2005 study by Sweden’s national environmental agency sparked the initiative by demonstrating that 25 percent of the national per capita emissions (two metric tons/year) was attributable to eating. Research shows that emissions depend on several factors, including the type of soil used to grow the food.
Max, Sweden’s largest national burger chain, hired a consultant to measure its environmental footprint, and has placed emissions calculations next to each item on its menu. A Max hamburger has 1.7 kilograms of CO2 emissions, whereas the chicken sandwich has only 0.4 kilograms. Lantmannen, the country’s largest farming group, placed the labels on some categories of food in grocery stores, such as chicken, oatmeal, barley and pasta. Scientists at Lantmannen analyzed the lifecycle of 20 products, including emissions from fertilizer, fuel for harvesting, packaging and transport, to come up with the labels.
KRAV, Scandanavia’s organic certification program, will start requiring farmers to convert to low-emissions techniques next year if they want to continue using the certification, which will exclude most organic greenhouse tomatoes. As part of this, KRAV will require greenhouses to be heated with biofuels; dairy farms will have to source a minimum of 70 percent local food for herds.
Calculating GHG Emissions From Biosolids
The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) recently released BEAM — the Biosolids Emissions Assessment Model — to calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from various biosolids management scenarios. The model, developed by SYLVIS Environmental, consists of a 12 unit process calculator modules and an aggregating spreadsheet that calculates net GHG emissions based on the values determined within each applicable model. The start and end points for BEAM are from solids thickening at the wastewater treatment plant through to biosolids/end use disposal. Only commonly used technologies were included in the process train segment: storage; solids conditioning/thickening; aerobic and anaerobic digestion; dewatering; thermal drying; alkaline stabilization; composting; landfilling; combustion; land application; and transportation. Nine Canadian jurisdictions provided technical data from their biosolids programs; these data were used to develop and validate BEAM.
The modeling showed that net GHG neutrality or carbon offsets can be obtained through land application/surface cover due to less methane and N2O emissions and carbon sequestration. Biosolids transportation distances generally have little impact on GHG emissions from biosolids management. An incineration scenario (based on data from a city that incinerates) had the greatest net GHG emissions (19,608 Mg CO2e/year). Vancouver, British Columbia, which digests the solids and utilizes the gas for electricity production, followed by transport to mine sites for land application, had the lowest net GHG emissions (-1,868 Mg CO2e/year). To download the report and BEAM calculator, visit www.ccme.ca/ourwork/waste.html.