Meet the Staff – Alex Anderson

Alex Anderson – Sustainable Business Coordinator

Where are you from?: Tacoma, WA

What were you doing before you came to ECOSS?:
Before joining ECOSS in 2005, I attended the University of Washington and completed a degree in Communications.

What do you do day-to-day at work?: I work with local small and medium-sized businesses to help improve their stormwater management practices and reduce the amount of pollutants reaching our local waterways. For smaller businesses with limited resources, stormwater pollution prevention is a complicated, cumbersome and persistent responsibility. My role at ECOSS is to provide necessary education, materials and resources to help businesses take on this challenge.

What has been your favorite/most rewarding project to work on at ECOSS?:
So far my favorite work has been with the Port of Seattle and their tenants. It was fascinating to work with businesses dealing with stormwater issues on a much larger scale than I was accustomed to. I also was fortunate to make some new friends from the Port and also Aspect Consulting who were pivotal in my success with the program.

If you could change one thing about Seattle, what would it be?: The weather. I’ve spent the majority of my life in the Puget Sound and I still can’t adjust to the winters here. Oh, and the potholes too.

Favorite spot in South Park?: Lorreta’s. Tavern Burgers, nuff said.

What do you like to do outside the office?: I like to compose music and spend time with my wife.

Biggest goal for 2010?:
I’d like to work with Todd Hunsdorfer to further expand ECOSS’s stormwater-related services and reach out to new communities. Last year we got the opportunity to join forces with the ECOSS Multicultural Outreach Team to introduce our services to local East African and Vietnamese businesses. It was a highly rewarding experience, both working with underserved communities and collaborating with other ECOSS program staffs.

Meet the Staff – Todd Hunsdorfer

Todd Hunsdorfer – Sustainable Business Coordinator

Where are you from?:
I’m from the South Coast of Massachusetts, a small town called Marion.

What were you doing before you came to ECOSS?:
Before I started at ECOSS I was earning a Master’s Degree From Antioch University Seattle, and working as the volunteer coordinator for Seattle’s Green Festival.

What do you do day-to-day at work?: My daily work at ECOSS involves responding to phone calls from businesses about their stormwater management. I also spend a considerable amount of time reaching out to local businesses who have recently been visited by a regulatory agency. My role is to help these places get back into environmental compliance.

What has been your favorite/most rewarding project to work on at ECOSS?:
It has been really rewarding to work with other people who care as much about their jobs as I do.

If you could change one thing about Seattle, what would it be?: The temperature of the water. I can’t ever go swimming without having a heart attack!

Favorite spot in South Park?: The Softball field at the community center. I’ve been lucky enough to make some good memories out there with the South Park River Ratz.

What do you like to do outside the office?:
I spend a lot of time developing an emergency food relief program for Seattle food banks. It’s called South Park Fresh Starts. I grow vegetable plant starts for food bank clients, and distribute them with educational materials on producing hyper-local, nutritious food.

Biggest goal for 2010?:
I’m getting married in August!

Meet the Staff – Aldan Shank

Aldan Shank, Sustainable Business Coordinator

Where are you from?: I grew up in southern Mississippi and moved to Seattle from Memphis.

What were you doing before you came to ECOSS?: Before starting at ECOSS I was finishing up my sustainable business degree at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. I attended a liberal arts school in Mississippi for undergrad and worked in science research for a few years after that. I moved to Seattle to attend BGI because I wanted to work in the environmental field and liked the idea of blending business and sustainability.

What do you do day-to-day at work?: I work with small and medium sized local businesses. I try to be a resource for whatever environmental or sustainability needs they might have. Sometimes that means helping a business with lighting upgrades or water conservation. Other times it’s help with starting a compost program or finding financing options for capital upgrades. Sometimes businesses just want help figuring out how to be more “green” and save money. Whatever they need, I try to help by giving them time, information and assistance.

What has been your favorite/most rewarding project to work on at ECOSS?: I really enjoyed working with Fuel Coffee, a local cafe chain that wanted to improve their energy, water and solid waste systems. I worked with the owner and managers to come up with low- and no-cost changes to their operations, including starting commercial compost service and donating used coffee grounds to local gardening organizations. The best part was how the team at Fuel was totally onboard with adopting the proposed changes. The fact that they “got it” from the start made my work really easy and enjoyable.

If you could change one thing about Seattle, what would it be?:
You know, after 3 and a half years here, I don’t mind the rain and gloom so much, but every year around May I’m kind of ready for it to be done. The summers here are so beautiful and sometimes I wish they showed up a little earlier and stayed a little longer.

Favorite spot in South Park?: Inside: the ship’s hull at Loretta’s. Outside: the Ultimate field at the Community Center.

What do you like to do outside the office?:
I like riding my bike. I also started climbing last year and that has been an interesting and challenging new hobby, but I’m starting to really like it. I play Ultimate with a great team called Huckin’ Easy and at least once a season I try to do some sort of outdoor trip. Sometimes I pretend I’m a snowboarder, but I think I’m giving that up, especially since my girlfriend is a skier and she thinks that snowboarding is low brow. Whatevs.

Biggest goal for 2010?:
Well, I’ve got some big ones but probably shouldn’t list them all here. One goal for this year is to take a vacation out of the country. Not counting a few road trips to Vancouver, B.C., I haven’t been out of the country since I lived in Germany when I was 6 years old. I’m itching to see more of the world. Maybe Copenhagen… the bike scene out there is marvelous.

Stormwater Solutions?

On March 3rd, ECOSS‘s Executive Director Kevin joined Alex and me in Tacoma to be part of the Northwest Environmental Business Council‘s (NEBC) conference on Managing Stormwater in Washington.

Held at the Hotel Murano, the conference was well attended and designed to address the current issues in construction and industrial stormwater management.

The opening panel in the morning was a controversial one, but an interesting way to kick start the conference. The panel was comprised of Ken Johnson from Weyerhaeuser, Josh Baldi from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Van Collins from the Associated General Contractors, and Sue Joerger from the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. These stakeholders addressed the potential impacts of upcoming changes in stormwater regulation, representing a diverse spectrum of differing opinions on how to manage stormwater. Understanding the relationship between these parties made the tension in the room quite palpable.

The rest of the day was divided along two tracks, one for those interested in industrial stormwater and the other for people involved with the management of stormwater from construction sites.

There were several big take away points that I thought were important to address in this blog. Firstly, the copper and zinc benchmarks are going to be lowered drastically. Some of the numbers being thrown around were 14 ug/L and 63 ug/L respectively. This is a considerable change, which leads me to the second take away point addressed in the afternoon by Calvin Noling from StormwateRx . StomwateRx designs and installs industrial stormwater treatment and filtration systems, but during his presentation on pollution removal efficiency he declared that filtration systems alone will most likely not be sufficient to achieve the newly proposed copper and zinc benchmarks.

Finally, I wanted to address the overall content of the conference. Every single solution presented to manage stormwater was focused on dealing with water that had already been polluted. There was no discussion about prevention. All of the exhibitors were presenting highly engineered treatment devices, but there was no one there talking about how to keep stormwater from being polluted in the first place.

Americans have a habit of relying heavily on technological solutions to our problems. This alone is not the problem. However, what I am concerned about is we are talking exclusively about engineered technology as the solution to stormwater management. With drastically changing benchmarks, we are finding that technology alone cannot save us. We need to start thinking about stormwater in a more systemic way, relying less on technology to clean up our pollution and more on not polluting in the first place. Stormwater is as much an issue of source control and responsible purchasing as that of engineering and technological solutions.

-Todd Hunsdorfer

Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC)’s Pollution Prevention Roundtable in Portland/Vancouver

Last week Todd and I had the opportunity to attend PPRC’s Northwest Regional Roundtable in Vancouver, WA and Portland. We met some folks from the city of Gresham, OR and talked to them about their stormwater and GREAT Businesses programs on day one at the Water Resources Education Center. The presentations centered around carbon footprinting and all the issues of counting and trading carbon emissions; it was pretty enlightening for me, and all the different viewpoints and complications have definitely given me food for thought in the coming weeks. Day 2 was in Portland, at the EcoTrust building. Todd and I joined a small group headed by Alisa Kane from the city of Portland and took a tour; the building was amazing! It was the first historic renovation to be awarded a LEED Gold certification, and has an ecoroof (that might have been a little more fun if we were in Portland in June instead of January). We met Jennifer Hancox from LeanPath and talked about her company’s unique approach to reducing food source waste through software tracking; it was pretty cool and we made sure to give her contact information to Aldan, since some of the folks he works with on composting might be interested in their software. We toured the City of Portland’s fleet services department and learned about past projects from PPRC and OMEP combining lean manufacturing principles with “green manufacturing” principles. It was a great opportunity to network and to learn more about what individuals, organizations and agencies are doing across the Pacific Northwest to help combat and prevent pollution. And finally, a big thanks to PPRC for providing scholarships so Todd and I could take part!

Todd and Alisa at the EcoTrust Building

Todd and Alisa at the EcoTrust Building

-Audrey Chestnutt