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Lead and mercury exist in vast quantities throughout U.S. facilities. But for the most part, they are not in the form of dangerous lead-containing paints or mercury-containing thermometers. Instead, lead is an integral part of the cathode ray tubes (CRTs) of most televisions and computer monitors — helping protect users from the radiation produced by monitors. And mercury is contained in switch technology, fire sprinkler contacts and most florescent lamps.
Because mercury and lead are hazardous materials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed reclassifying lead- and mercury-containing equipment as universal waste, rather than keeping it subject to current hazardous waste regulations. With this proposal, the EPA hopes to discourage the flow of such materials into municipal landfills or incinerators — important news for today’s computer- and TV-rich schools and hospitals.
Many institutions already have begun programs for recycling monitors.
“We advertise our recycling program and work with a turnkey contractor who recaptures the resources from monitor screens and tubes,” says Steve Miscowski, manager of operations, administration and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
If CRTs are being considered for possible reuse, the proposal clarifies that EPA considers them to be “products” rather than “waste.” The EPA also has proposed lifting the waste designation from glass removed from CRTs, as long as the glass is sent for recycling and managed in accordance with the proposal’s simplified storage, labeling and transportation requirements.
EPA estimates that more than 250 million computers will be retired from use during the next five years. A typical computer monitor’s CRT may contain up to eight pounds of lead.
Visit the EPA’s Web site for more information on the proposal.
Hotels now can benchmark their energy performance against other hotels on a nationwide scale of 1-to-100 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) newest Energy Star® tool. The hotel industry spends almost $5 billion per year on energy, according to the EPA.
If hotels improved their energy efficiency by an average of 30 percent, the annual electricity bill savings would be nearly $1.5 billion and would limit carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 6 million metric tons.
Those in the hospitality sector that assisted with EPA’s tests of the new energy performance rating tool included Tharaldson Lodging, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, White Lodging, Meristar Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Corp., and Servidyne Systems.
By using the EPA’s Energy Star Web site hotels now will be able to analyze the energy performance of their buildings, set goals for improvements, and track their progress online using the EPA’s portfolio manager.
More than 800 office buildings and schools across the country already have earned the Energy Star label, and thousands have used EPA’s tool to benchmark their buildings. The program has helped save $5 billion on energy bills and reduced pollution equivalent to that of 10 million cars.
The recently released 1999 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy, enables managers to benchmark their facilities’ energy use with national averages. The graphs below show consumption by energy source and the end use of consumption. Data is compiled from a national sample survey of commercial buildings with more than 1,000 square feet. Visit www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cbecs for more detailed information.