Southwind Garners Clean Air Award at Wichita Energy Conference

The 2010 Wichita Regional Energy & Sustainability Conference, January 22-23, was filled with presentations covering everything from rain-barrels for home use and updates on the Kansas legislative session to Wichita’s Eco-Partnership with Wuxi, China.  The first of the two days focused on corporate, state and municipal issues while Saturday was designed for consumers.

Friday’s lunch included presentation of the Conference 2010 Clean Air Awards.  Winners were selected by the Metro Air Quality Improvement Task Force and were presented by John Mitchell, Director, Division of Environment, Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  The awards recognized corporations, governments, organizations and individuals who have taken steps to help reduce air pollution and emissions in the urban area.  The winner in the organization category was the Sierra Club Southwind Group for its 20 years of work with community advisory groups (Oxy-Chem and Coastal Refining), participation in various governmental policy groups (Kansas Energy and Environmental Policy Group, Wichita Area Metropolitan Organization Pathways Plan, and the Wichita Air Quality Improvement Task Force), and educational efforts (Step-It-Up 2007 and Cool Cities campaigns) which have led to air quality improvements.  Other awardees included the City of Wichita for its Central Rail Corridor project, SedgwickCounty for the Intrust Bank Arena project, Boeing Defense Space and Security for earning ISO 14001 Certification, Hawker Beechcraft for ongoing conservation efforts, Scholfield Honda for launching its own brand of re-refined oil and Wink Hartman for the Hartman Arena project.

Joint session speakers for the Conference included Andy Karsner, Former Asst. Sec., U.S. Department of Energy; Thomas Wright, KS Corporation Commission; George Mongell of U.S. Green Building Council; Senator Carolyn McGinn; Representative Jim Ward; and, Simran Sethi, Associate Professor KU and Environmental Journalist.  Themes for break-out sessions included sustainable building practices, energy efficiency, green jobs, air pollution and emission reduction, economics of sustainability and alternative energy strategies.  Break-out session presenters included Stephanie Cole presenting a session on the Blue-Green Alliance, William Wentz speaking on Greenhouse Gas Inventories, and Richard Mabion presenting on Diversity for Energy and Environmental Action.

Southwind was a Green Sponsor and Exhibitor for the Conference and members had the opportunity to meet and greet participants, as well as, to attend many of the sessions.  Booth workers promoted the Northern Flyer Alliance and gathered numerous signatures on a petition asking Wichita to secure Union Station for future rail use.  While overall attendance for the Conference was low, the opportunity to interact with the wide variety of participants was valuable for Southwind.

NOTE:  Attached photos:

006:  Tom Kneil and Ellie Skokan receive the Clean Air Award from John Mitchell, Director of Environment, KDHE

001:  Ellie Skokan, Stuart Bolt and Elizabeth Bishop tabling at Energy Conference

011:  Clean Air Award

016:  Sierra Club Southwind Exhibit at Energy Conference

By Ellie Skokan

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