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Green News Roundup

What’s been happening in the world of green? Check out our picks for the best stories of the week.

 

 

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Green News Roundup

Every week is green week for mother earth. Here are our favorite stories for the week:

 

 

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Eco-Profile: Alex Otto

Alex Otto
Creative Partnerships and Innovation
NBCUniversal, Universal City, CA

Going green starts with small steps, like recycling, but, an avid greenie lives a lifestyle that involves all aspects of the different ways we can make a difference.

See Alex Otto. She is the Manager at NBCUniversal’s Creative Partnerships and Innovation.  Her job involves creating custom content for advertisers.  Around Green Week and Earth Week, that involves making spots that emphasize the green aspects of partner corporations.

Currently Alex is working on spots with a client to help showcase some of energy efficient and waste reduction practices that their company is implementing.

Most recently Alex helped work on the animated tips that aired last Green Week across the networks of NBCUniversal. “Those animated tips were really a lot of fun to do,” says Otto, “because so much of what we do is live action with talent.”

Alex tries to incorporate her creativity even after she leaves the office by cooking. “I’m primarily vegan,” Alex revealed. “And just by the choice of not eating meat I feel like I’m making a huge impact.”

Alex is big on the notion of leading by example.

“Whenever I have friends over I only cook them vegan food,” she says. “I like showing them there’s all these really great things you can make.”

Alex tries her best to shop for organic and local foods, and says that her choices are broadening. Part of this rise in choice stems from her location in sunny southern California.  “I’m lucky because a lot of food is grown close to where I live,” says Otto. Despite that fact, she still aims to lessen her impact by walking to local food shops instead of driving.

“A lot of this stuff is really innate to me, and once it becomes habit you don’t even think of it anymore,” she says. Especially when it comes to water conservation. “I grew up in northern California, where we had a water shortage, so I was always instructed to try and conserve water as much as possible.”

For Alex, these small steps both at work and at home are something she hopes more people will try to incorporate into their daily routine, and something she is constantly looking for ways she can incorporate more, no matter how small they may seem.

by Frederick Awich

Also, watch this video that Alex worked on:

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Eco-Profile: Candace Rodatz Barnes

Candace Rodatz Barnes
Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility
Universal Orlando, Orlando, FL

At Universal Orlando, there’s something in the air, on the ground, and on the rides.  No one can say exactly what it is, but it smells and feels fresher, cleaner, and even more sustainable.

Candace Rodatz-Barnes probably can explain this best.  In her position, she oversees NBCUniversal’s green initiatives at Universal Orlando.  It sounds like a lot to handle, but sustainability is second nature to Candace.

“I’ve always been passionate about conservation, wildlife and saving our natural resources, since I was a young child,” she explains. “Having the opportunity to coordinate our green initiatives for the company has been a lot of fun for me, and something I care a lot about.”

Candace emphasized that she is not alone in her efforts. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of motivated and talented people who all share the same talent and commitment,” says Rodates-Barnes.

She spoke in particular about the Universal Orlando Green Council, which meets regularly to discuss the different ways that each department is working to reduce their footprint and incorporate sustainability into their business practices.

The action doesn’t end at the roundtable, though. Each year, Universal Orlando launches a program that focuses on one key area of sustainability which each department looks to improve upon. “One year we did fuels, one year we did energy, one year we did water, and then we build our awareness campaigns around that,” Candace explains.

Bringing the team and the Orlando community into the equation is one method Candace employs to strengthen the green movement and keep upward momentum.

“I look for ways to get into the community, whether it’s a recycling drive, collecting something for charity, or doing a landscaping event,” she says. “Every year we do various programs, and we have support from local causes out there that are relevant to green.”

Candace has a way of integrating her passion for sustainability and conservation seamlessly with her other initiatives and areas of expertise. “We care a lot about education initiatives, too,” she says, “so that’s what we like to tie into our green initiative—to educate people on how we can make an impact.”

Tying into her role with Government Affairs, Candace says that she and the team at Universal Orlando “are always looking for ways that we can improve our operations to be more efficient and reduce our overall carbon footprint, while doing what is right for our business and the environment.”

That’s why Candace was at the Florida Energy Summit recently.  The summit is like the Comic Con for Floridian energy conservationists. “Here, they’re talking about chances for businesses, local government and other organizations to come together and see where the state of Florida wants to go in terms of saving energy,” she says.

Candace thrives on gaining knowledge and then working as part of a team to keep creating change, noting, “we have a lot of motivated and talented individuals, and I’m really proud of that.”

 

by Frederick Awich

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Eco-Profile: Denise Wise

Denise Wise
International IT, P.A. to Kevin Holian (SVP of Int’l IT)
NBCUniversal, London, England

Across the pond, in the country that gave us Harry Potter, NBCUniversal has a wonderful team dedicated to the causes of sustainability.

Denise Wise is an integral part of this team. She keeps her ear to the ground and her hands on the many green projects, big and small, that NBCUniversal is working on in the United Kingdom.

She’s particularly excited about the new office building at Central St. Giles that she and her coworkers will be moving into next spring. “The building is new [so] it will be very energy efficient,” she says. Many of the green initiatives she had put into practice at the current office building, Prospect House, will carry over to Central St. Giles.

“We did a big push over the last few years, collaborating with the landlords to put sprinkler taps in the bathrooms, which saves lots of water, as well as alterations to the boiler to save on heating,” she says. These eco-friendly changes resulted in a green award to Jones Lang LaSalle, the building owner, and NBCUniversal from their landlord.

When she’s not busy greening things, Denise is also… a wizard?

“The Eco leaders were known as Green Wizards,” says Denise. “The first year I got this green witch’s hat, and I was wearing it all week, just to raise awareness for Green Week.”

She’s hung up the hat and retired the title, but she and her team still conduct magical feats around the office every now and then.  One of these is the Mystery Desk Drop.

Denise explains: “A team will roam the floors out of office hours checking to see who has powered off their monitor/PC overnight, and those that have will be rewarded with a chocolate on their desk.” The response to this program has been noteworthy. “There was definitely a marked improvement the second time, people were more aware.”

Another member on Denise’s team, Sylvio Di Carlo, has come up with a way to help make powering down even easier. The office has implemented power strips to help reduce the vampire energy caused by electronics that are powered down but not unplugged from the outlet.

Denise also organizes the volunteering for all of NBCUniversal’s London-based employees, and assembles events which she and the rest of the NBCUniversal London team can help improve the environment and the community.

“I’ve built it up over the last four or five years, so I’ve got a lot of people on board now,” she says.

Denise recycling Nespresso pods

One of these is the FareShare Food Drop, which is a collection of foods like pasta, coffee, cereal, and tinned meats at the office.  The second is the FareShare Depot Days, for which employees will re-pack food at the depot and then jump on a van to distribute it to hostels in the city. Additionally, there is the Wetlands Wildfowl Trust where employees spend the day helping beautify the grounds.

Denise also has organized the Green Swap and Drop, an event that has run every six months for the past four years.

“This event doesn’t cost anything.  People just bring in their unwanted clothes, bric-a-brac (jewelry and trinkets), books, CDs, and DVDs.  The staff can come to the room and pick up anything they fancy, leave their stuff there, and that’s why it’s called a Swap and Drop.”

The surplus that always results at the end of the event is donated to a number of relevant charities, including the YMCA, The Passage (a homeless shelter), and Dress for Success.

“It makes a difference to my working week to be involved,” says Denise.  “It’s good to be able to give back to the community in a fun way.”

Denise is also working on some things of her own at home. “I would like to collect rainwater in a barrel for my garden, build a perch for robins to roost in the winter, providing them food and shelter, and maybe even keep bees, which are great for cross pollinating and greening in London.”

by Frederick Awich

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Turning Crafts into Compost

How one year, a lot of hard work and enthusiastic employees have helped NBCUniversal become a littler greener.

Roughly 28 tons of waste has been diverted from the landfill over the past year at Universal City, thanks in large part to a group that hasn’t even turned six years old.

As part of NBCUniversal’s cross company sustainability initiative, Green is Universal, the Universal Studios Child Care Center, managed by Bright Horizons, has embarked on a reduce, reuse and recycle program, which coupled with an offsite composting operation, has resulted in the recycling or reuse of 90% of its waste.

Throughout the year, the administration, teachers and children have been reducing what they throw away, reusing what they can and separating the food and other compostable products like arts and craft paper from other waste once they are finished. Containers and packaging are finding new life as elements of the play and learning are invented for what was once trash. Real cups, plates, bowls and flatware are used where possible instead of disposable items creating more waste.

Administrative Director Carolyn Sanders said, “Going ‘green’ is a natural concept for children to grasp – they are naturally curious, want to help and love the outdoors. With their appreciation for how things grow and where things come from, introducing the practice of composting and recycling to reduce waste by using the motto ‘If it was once a plant, it belongs in this bin,’ was something the teachers could do easily. We have a lot of passion around this topic, so with Administration’s support, both the teachers and children embraced it immediately.”

The waste vendor Crown Disposal, already serving comprehensive food waste diversion program across Universal City, facilitates the composting part of the process along with Max Liles, whose son attends the childcare center. Liles, the Director of Environmental Affairs as part of NBCUniversal’s Environmental Health & Safety department said, “It was sort of a eureka moment when I realized that with a few adjustments, the center’s waste could meet the composting criteria. And then when I met with the center to introduce the idea and saw all the other sustainable practices they’d already implemented, I knew we were onto something substantial.”

All this effort and awareness then comes full circle when everyone sees how the certified compost returns and helps nourish and grow the plants that are all around the center.

Photographed by Moses Sparks. Scraping food to be composted is a daily part of the routine at the NBCUniversal Universal City childcare center

Photographed by Moses Sparks. NBCUniversal's childcare center recycles

Photographed by Moses Sparks. The children use the certified compost from their food and paper waste to feed the plants.

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Eco-Profile: Stephen Murray

Stephen Murray
Senior Director, Sales Marketing
iVillage, New York, NY

Sometimes, you get a feeling and you have to follow it.

That’s the story of Stephen Murray.

“I’ve always been personally interested in sustainability, with an eye on recycling and turning everything off when it’s not in use,” says Murray. And his interests led him to work at iVillage. “Green is Universal was one of the reasons I was attracted to working with NBCUniversal.”

A primary component of Stephen’s job as the Senior Director of Sales Marketing at iVillage is working with advertisers to help them reach consumers and spread the message about their products, and especially their green products during the company’s Green Weeks in November and April. Recently, Stephen and iVillage worked on a digital project with Frito-Lay.

“Frito-Lay sponsored our Earth Week themed issue, which gave women simple, easy steps they could take to ‘go green’ in their own lives,” says Murray. “We also had our iVoices—women from our community who cover topics that matter to them—create video reports on how they go green—from using recycled materials to make crafts with kids to getting the entire family to recycle.” Stepehen also worked with the Frito-Lay team to create a sponsorship package for the iShop Green Mobile App, which helps users find eco-friendly products and stores in their area.

Stephen’s passion for green runs deep. He points out that although Frito-Lay does not view itself as offering “super eco-friendly product[s],” the company has taken measures to cut down on consumption, go all-natural, and source locally for its products.

Even in the office Stephen is constantly thinking about ways to be a little greener. “I recycle everything, collect all the paper to print on both sides, turn off the lights and computers—and encourage my team to do the same,” Stephen said.  “People know me as the ‘green guy’ in the department, which is one label I’m totally comfortable with.”

Outside of work, though, Stephen has an eco-project all his own. He’s currently building a country home in upstate New York out of shipping containers. “It’s been a fascinating project,” says Murray. “The cool thing is it’s different even from modular homes because you’re actually upcycling existing materials.” Murray picked out the four shipping containers that would make up his home in New Jersey, and in just a year and a half the home, which sits on six acres in the Catskills, is nearly finished. The interior is just as “green” as the exterior, too.

“The idea was to make a house that uses very little energy,” says Murray. The house has radiant floor heating, which is more efficient than electric or coal, and the house is positioned against the sun’s path is for optimum solar gain. In addition, Murray has chosen floors that are made of a composite recycled wood material, and has utilized a spray foam insulation, which, although not totally organic, is more eco-friendly than most.

Look out for his upcoming blog on iVillage for more details about his home, as well as the film about the home he plans to pitch to various media outlets.

by Frederick Awich

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Eco-Profile: Jose A. Morales

Jose A. Morales
VP of Content / News Director
Telemundo 47 / Nueva York, Fort Lee, NJ

For Jose Morales, information is king. As the News Director at Telemundo 47 / Nueva York, he is kept busy by the hustle and bustle of the news circuit and constantly seeks out  innovative ways to get the most timely and relevant information to his viewers.

Enter the Consejo del Día widget.  This tool, located on the Telemundo 47 Web site, sits alongside the news and offers green tips to readers.

“We were trying to build a community for our green fans as well as provide useful information for our entire audience, which has been a great success online, ” says Morales.

The success of the Consejo del Día widget, which is also featured here on the Green is Universal Web site, is probably good news to Jose, who spearheaded the project.

Jose was the green content lead for the NBC Owned stations group when Green is Universal launched in 2007, and moved to his current position at Telemundo a few months afterward. He carried his knowledge of the program over with him, though.  “I was leading the local Web sites for the Telemundo group, and that’s how it came about, the whole idea of ‘let’s come up with a widget’.”

The tips featured in the widget are written with the collaboration of the National Resources Defense Council. The NRDC has a Spanish version called La Onda Verde, and Jose, upon learning about it, proactively reached out to them and created a working partnership where they exchange content to help expand the green messaging to an even wider audience.

In addition to Consejo del Día, Jose has striven to offer even more environmental content to his audience since taking the News Director position.  “My meteorologist has her own green segment which is produced regularly,” Jose remarked,  “and even extends online.”

Jose also reaches out to other news directors within the Telemundo station group to help inspire more environmental content across the stations.  “We always come up with green projects during our Green and Earth Weeks in November and April, so I am trying to make this part of our ongoing production year-round, ” says Morales.

And, when he’s not managing the news for the station, Jose advocates the green projects at Telemundo 47.  These include the recycling of batteries, PCs and computer monitors, fluorescent light bulbs, paper, cans, and bottles.

by Frederick Awich

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Show Us Your Mug!

Show Us Your Mug and enter the Show Us Your Mug Sweepstakes on our facebook page for a chance to win daily prizes – signed Green is Universal mugs from Jimmy Fallon, Jim Cramer, Maria Bartoromo, Chris Matthews, Suze Orman and the G4 hosts– and a grand prize trip to Universal Studios Hollywood for 4!

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Mugs Save Trees

It’s Green Week here at NBCUniversal and we’re inviting our fans to take the pledge to use a reusable mug all week. Our message this year is “You don’t have to do a lot, to do a lot.” Which is true. Collectively, if we make one small change, like using a reusable mug all year, we could save 9 million trees.

We’ve got lots of rewards and incentives, which you can find out more about on the Mugs Save Trees page of our site, but we wanted to share this amazing illustration about the life-cycle of a paper cup. It seems that it takes a bunch of energy and natural resources to create a paper cup that we don’t often consider when we toss it after a single use. Check it out. Hopefully it inspires you to incorporate this small change into your lifestyle and to take the pledge now!

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