NEBC News & Conversation
 
Hellos and Goodbyes. [Lise Wineland, Executive Director, 7/13/16]. I am honored to be a part of NEBC as the organization heads into its third decade of providing knowledge and connections to companies that protect, restore and sustain the natural and build environment. Being a careful steward of the earth's resources has always been a personal and professional pursuit of mine, so it is incredibly gratifying to engage in this work on a daily basis. Yet, after several months of working with NEBC, I have come to realize that what makes this organization truly unique are the people.

I feel especially fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with several individuals who are retiring after giving so much energy, talent and time to this region. NEBC was pleased to have Tom Eckman address our Oregon Energy Forum last month; I have never learned so much in an hour. And, I was also fortunate to meet Margie Harris of the Energy Trust of Oregon, who to my mind possesses rock star status. Finally, there is my dear friend Robert Grott, who ended his ten year term leading NEBC last month. I am proud to follow Robert and David Welch before him.

I am thrilled by the opportunities that the future holds as we continue the efforts of these friends and head into the next decade. 


Please allow me to introduce myself. [Lise Wineland, Executive Director, 5/10/16]. I am Lise Wineland, NEBC’s new Executive Director. As many of you are aware, Robert Grott, who led NEBC for ten years, has decided it is time for him to focus on other ventures. I feel incredibly humbled and privileged to follow Robert and serve in the role of Executive Director. After learning only a fraction of the ways that this man has positively influenced the community of the Pacific Northwest, I am keenly aware of how significant this role can be. I intend to honor the good things that have been produced by Robert, the NEBC staff, Board of Directors and membership by continuing to provide quality events and sources of information. 

My background should prove to be an effective foundation for such success. As an attorney for a county government outside of Washington, DC, I worked on a myriad of relevant matters including brownfields, stormwater management, waste and site remediation, to name a few, and with various stakeholders including executive and legislation branches, agencies and the community. Also pertinent to this position with NEBC, I practiced commercial real estate for a number of years and was fortunate to interact with and serve the needs of all types of businesses. Most recently, I have worked in the area of building efficiencies, striving to improve building systems which lower operating expenses and accordingly increase the marketability and value of a building.

Reinforced with this experience and the skills of the wonderful people of NEBC, I am thrilled to work for the good of the organization and the Northwest community as NEBC heads into its third decade. I look forward to meeting each of you and collaborating to serve companies that protect, restore and sustain the natural and built environment.


Our Work is Still Just Beginning. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 5/10/16]. I recall conversations from ten years ago that questioned the future of the traditional pollution prevention and cleanup sectors of the environmental industry. Once regulatory compliance had become routine, and old oil tanks and contamination dug up, where would the future lie from a business perspective? From where I sit today, my response is: Don’t worry, there is no work shortage in sight.

For example, after 16 years, the Portland Harbor Superfund Site is only now approaching a final cleanup plan; in Washington, the fall in oil prices means that MTCA cleanup funding has been slashed; and Portland is suddenly waking up to the fact that the EPA and DEQ only track a small sub-set of air toxics. Meanwhile, cleanup and emission levels for tracked pollutants are being continually ratcheted down – look at copper levels in stormwater, and new concerns over vapor intrusion. And then there are the emerging “contaminants of concern,” such as flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, nanomaterials, and microplastics. Oh, and if we don’t prevent or mitigate climate change, there will be plenty of adaptation work ahead – on both the infrastructure and natural resources fronts.

Another dimension of the conversation is Sustainability. Ten years ago it stopped being a suspect term, and became a suspected business opportunity for consultants. Whether or not that opportunity materialized in a significant way, sustainability has changed the conversation. A sustainability business mission requires that a company not only meet environmental regulations, but that it goes “beyond regulation” in its approach to the environment. Environmental responsibility becomes another dimension on which to strive for excellence.

In short, our environmental challenges, and the business opportunities for NEBC members, are growing rather than receding. Of course they are continually changing, but that’s the nature of our industry. And stepping up to meet these challenges each day are the thousands of employees working at our 250 member companies. To you I say: Thank you for doing this important, difficult, and righteous work.


Opening Remarks at Oregon's Energy Future Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 4/13/16]. This is the 10th clean energy conference that NEBC has hosted for the state of Oregon. When I think of all the changes we have experienced over the past decade, it seems like a long wild road indeed. In its first year, 2007, the conference had just two tracks: renewable energy and biofuels. In fact, in a study NEBC conducted for the state that year, counted 19 biofuels projects across Oregon in some level of planning. Back then we were navigating a rising tide of interest in project development and new business interest – fueled to a large extent by Oregon’s aggressive incentive program BETC – a bold action to drive bold change.  In addition to biofuels, wind, solar, biomass, wave, and small hydro all saw a surge in interest. In the third year of the conference, we made the unusual move to include energy efficiency along with renewables under the same tent. Despite different markets and different players, we believed that the two groups should be talking to each other and that a convergence between renewables and efficiency was inevitable.

I don’t need to tell those of you in the room that there have been some speed bumps on the road to the future. The biofuels industry went over a cliff due to a dramatic increase in commodity prices. The loss of the BETC program, uncertainty around Federal incentives, and the closing of the California market brought Oregon’s local renewables industry crashing down. And more recently, abundant natural gas has, as they say, changed everything. I’ll go so far as to say that Oregon's clean energy industry, after having reached a peak around 2010, hit bottom last year.

Now, I dare say we are in a time of resurgence, with the extension of Federal incentives, EPA’s Clean Power Plan creating new conversations around efficiency & renewables, movements towards Energy Imbalance Markets and realignment of west coast transmission operations potentially opening up the market for renewables, and now we have Senate Bill 1547 – The Clean Electricity Plan that just passed the Oregon legislature. A policy move that should both increase and also speed up our utility partners’ appetite for renewables. Meanwhile, vehicle electrification is moving forward, and local airlines are helping biojet fuel to take off.

So what’s the lesson here? On the ground level – in the business world where “timing is everything”-- when it’s your company, and your job on the line – 10 years is a very long time indeed. And believe me, I’ve seen many companies and individuals lose out during the decline, and many clean energy jobs leaving the state for more attractive markets. There is a lot of pain as well as reward that can be experienced by those leading the way.

But placed in a broader context of society and economics, 10 years is just a blip. Ten year cycles, those up and down curves on graph, turn into a trend over time. And the trend is unmistakable, and I believe, unstoppable, fed as it is by both the realities of climate change and the limits to the earth’s resources – and the ever-growing awareness that we have to do better in order to protect the quality of the future.

We’ve also come to realize that this is not a sprint. Nor is this a marathon. It is a relay race. A multi-decade, multi-generational relay race. And in that spirit, I want to let you know that this 10th conference is also my last as head of NEBC. I will be stepping down next month and will be turning the reins over to my successor to lead NEBC into its 21st year. I want to conclude by saying that I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to partner with all of you all during this sometimes grand, sometimes painful, but always important journey towards building a clean energy future.

Opening Remarks at the Managing Stormwater in Washington Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, [3/12/16] In my opening remarks to our 9th annual conference on March 9, I made the following observations about stormwater pollution and how our response to it is a reflection of our progress as a society. To me, this perspective applies to other types of pollution management as well.  
“Stormwater is special stuff. On one hand I call it the universal solvent that sweeps the results of our human activities into our water bodies – not only from industrial facilities and construction sites, but from homes, shopping malls, and roadways; and from our farms and forest activities.

Another feature of stormwater is that it is contemporaneous. For the most part it, is not about legacy pollution buried for years underground. Rather, stormwater pollution tends to reflect our current activities: dirt dug up at constructions sites, zinc leaching from roofs and fences, from the tires of trucks in our parking lots, oil dripping from our cars, logs stacked up at mill sites, and toxics washed from the air by the rain.

And it is this contemporaneous nature of stormwater-born pollution that also makes it easier to address – if not to remove what has already reached our water bodies, then at least to stop things from getting worse. And that can be achieved relatively quickly compared to other types of pollution – and that also gives us fewer excuses.

It is my belief that whether you eat fish, or simply respect the existence of fish and whales, or just acknowledge the balance between the needs of commerce and the needs of the environment, stormwater management is a reflection of our progress as an industrialized civilization. In short, stormwater management is society’s mirror. For me, the purpose of this conference is to make us all look better in that mirror.”


Robert Grott Honored as a DJC 2016 Newsmaker.  [Lisa Meddin, Marketing & Communications Manager, 3/7/16] At the DJC 2016 Newsmakers Luncheon on March 3, the Daily Journal of Commerce honored Robert for his ten years of service as NEBC’s Executive Director. During his tenure NEBC’s membership has doubled, we’ve expanded our conference portfolio to include clean energy, contaminated land, and stormwater in Oregon and Washington, and successfully collaborated with regional organizations to change policy while supporting best practices.

When interviewed for the Award, Grott mused on some of the changes he’s seen in the past decade, noting that, “One thing we’ve kept consistent is our belief that interpersonal connections are so fundamental to what we do. There are a lot of ways you can do technical content these days and we’ve decided to stick with our core strength, which is bringing people together.”

The Newsmakers awards recognizes individuals, private companies, public agencies and organizations that had an impact on, or played a significant role in, the region’s built environment during the year, along with those expected to have an impact in the coming year. [more]



Keeping Up With Technology. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 2/11/16] When people ask me about the changes I’ve seen at NEBC over the past 10 years, one thing that stands out – in addition to major growth in membership, services, and programming – is technology. When I started in 2006 we were still sending out event notices by broadcast FAX and the website was a rudimentary platform for posting static information. Some recent changes reflect our continued efforts to stay current in this respect. One is the adoption of a new platform for our Jobs Board. If you aren’t familiar with it, this is a free service for NEBC members to post job openings, and it attracts hundreds of visitors each month. Larger companies can direct applicants to their own Applicant Tracking System (ATS). For smaller companies, the ApplicantPool web-based platform serves as your ATS, greatly easing the task of managing job applications. Check it out at www.nebcjobs.org

Also on the web front, over the past year the main NEBC website and all of the stand-alone conference websites have become “responsive,” meaning that the content rearranges itself when viewed on a small screen (i.e., tablet or smart phone). Sure everyone is doing it – but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Then there are the many behind-the-scenes changes like upgrades to our in-house database, a new credit card processing service, and a more robust web hosting service, that are invisible to outsiders but help us to serve members better and more cost-effectively. One of our internal mandates is use your dues contributions as efficiently as possible; to that end, technology is our friend.


 
NEBC's 20th Year Will be a Big One! [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 1/11/16] April will mark NEBC’s 20th anniversary as a regional organization, and 2016 is already set to be the busiest year in our history. We are either presenting or co-presenting seven full conferences, twenty luncheons (Seattle, Portland, Boise), after-hours chapter mixers, a golf tournament, and more than twenty forum events for the various brownfields, energy, water tech, and Young Environmental Professionals interest groups.

On the conference front, this will be the second year for Oregon’s “Managing Stormwater” conference (June 21) – which is moving to a larger venue following last year’s highly successful inaugural event. Meanwhile, welcome to the “Northwest Remediation Conference” (October 4) – the new name for Washington’s “Re-Using Contaminated Land” conference that reflects its new focus on the technical aspects of property cleanup. And speaking of cleanup, NEBC is once again partnering with Business Oregon to help produce its biennial Oregon Brownfields Conference (May 16-17)

Of course, events aren’t the only thing we do. We also work on regulatory and legislative issues of particular concern to our members. In addition, we work on an ongoing basis with local and state economic development organizations, plus other trade associations, to represent the environmental and energy industries – creating exposure for our members and doing our share to help build a strong economy. 

Although I will be transitioning out of my Executive Director role by mid-year, you can be assured that there will be no interruption in our drive to deliver value to our members. Thank you, and here’s to a great 2016.


NEBC Executive Director Robert Grott to Step Down in 2016. [Mike Nesteroff, NEBC Board President,12/14/15] Robert Grott has announced his intention to step down in 2016 after a decade leading the organization. Robert told the Board of Directors at their quarterly meeting on December 9th: “I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with NEBC’s incredible membership and staff, but after ten years of devotion to the organization, it’s time for me to direct my energy towards personal pursuits. I am gratified to be able to leave NEBC in great shape and in capable hands."

The NEBC Board of Directors is creating a hiring committee and engaging a consultant to assist with finding qualified candidates. Board President Mike Nesteroff said: “Robert is leaving some extremely large shoes to fill, but during his tenure he has turned NEBC into a major player in the Northwest environmental field by creating and managing several marquee environmental conferences, including the most recent Northwest Environmental Conference attended by more than 550 people.”

During the hiring process, Robert will remain fully involved in the planning and organization of the upcoming 2016 conferences, including Managing Stormwater in Washington Stormwater, March 9 in Tacoma; Oregon’s Energy Future, April 13 in Portland; Oregon Brownfields Conference, May 16-17, Bend; Managing Stormwater in Oregon, June 21, Portland; Re-Using Contaminated Land, October 4, Seattle; Washington’s Energy Future, November 1, Seattle; and the Northwest Environmental Conference, December 6-7, Portland.


Opening Remarks to Washington's Energy Future Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 11/16/15]. The clean energy industry is facing a juxtaposition of forces that have people, including me, scratching their heads. Gasoline prices are the lowest in years, while at the same time, natural gas is inexpensive and a long-term supply is assured. So, what’s the problem? Happy days are here again, right? Then the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s 7th Power Plan essentially says that conservation will handle all new load growth, along with demand response, after which natural gas can kick in, along with a smattering of wind and solar. So, we’ve got that nailed, right?

Unless, of course, you are in the renewable energy business. For that sector, Northwest market conditions are dismal. The utilities have essentially met their renewable portfolio standards with large wind projects, the Federal investment tax credit for renewables is all but gone, and California has effectively closed its border to out-of-state renewables. But on the bright side, Pacific Power is making plans to join the California ISO, which could re-open the California market for Northwest power.

But taking a step back, why are we still fixated on renewable energy anyway? Maybe it’s that climate thing. Maybe happy days aren’t here again. Maybe that’s the reason that renewable energy still matters. Maybe that’s why we need to compare the value of energy efficiency against something other than the cost of running a natural gas turbine.

Finally, seven years after the failed Waxman-Markey bill, we have EPA’s regulation 111(d) which calls upon the states to create Clean Power Plans. At first we thought this could be game changing, but frankly, basic compliance will be very easy for Washington, so it will only shake things up if the hydro power states of Washington & Oregon link up with the coal power producing states to their east to create a joint plan. That will be a very interesting process to watch.

So, where is all of this leading? Frankly, I don’t know. But I do know that today and beyond, our collective job is to find a path forward. A path that supports the economy today, while at the same time provides for the future of the state, and of the planet. And for us here today, a path that builds and supports a robust clean energy industry in Washington.


Embracing Risk, Innovation, and Disruption. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 10/12/15]. The following is an excerpt of remarks I recently made to kick off an ITRC training program in Seattle. They highlight the challenge of going from the nice sounding terms of “adopting best science” and “reducing barriers to implementation” to actually achieving on-the-ground policy change.

What I want to talk about today is innovation and the challenges we are facing in seeing it adopted. NEBC members are driven by innovation. Why? Because they are competing. And what is the basis for the competition? It is on who can meet their clients’ needs for solutions that are better, faster, and lower cost. Like other aspects of our economy, better faster cheaper has become the new normal. These clients aren’t doing this out of perversity, their own customers and investors are demanding it.

And how does the private sector then view environmental agencies? Frankly, as barriers to innovation: slow to recognize new science-based approaches and technologies, reluctant to accept research and field learnings from other jurisdictions, and preferring to have our clients spend their money on up-front studies rather than in-the-ground adaptive learning. Fundamentally, agencies are seen as adverse to risk. And innovation almost always involves some risk.

Now certainly if you see that your mission as not allowing any contaminants left anywhere, ever, then there is no reason to allow for risk. But if regulators are truly a partner with the private sector as members of a complex industrialized society, then we have to figure this out in the middle. I’m not advocating the free-wheeling innovation climate of the tech sector, but we don’t have to emulate the pace of FDA’s new drug approval process either. We can’t afford to.

Let me go a step further and talk about a less benign aspect of innovation. That is called disruption. Disruption is when innovation upends the applecart, when it makes current ways of doing things obsolete – or at least undermines the status quo. Disruptive innovation doesn’t leave space for gradual incremental innovation. So herein lies the problem and the challenge: institutions don’t want to be disrupted. If environmental policies are supposed to be science based, accepting new science forces policies to be updated, and that is understandably a pain. And if it took five years to adopt the former policy – that is disruptive.

So what is the alternative? I contend that policies have to be more adaptive. Cleanup rules need to structure in some level of risk and experimentation. And it’s fine to put the risk burden on the site owner. Just let innovative and creative cleanup professionals try new things – or even let them try things that are old elsewhere but new to this state. Trust me on this: our forks are engineers, and engineers are a conservative bunch, not prone to trying things that they are not confident in.

Innovation and overcoming barriers to adoption is what we need from our agency partners, and creating an innovation culture requires work at all levels of an organization. Thus, our collective challenge is to turn openness into adoption. Let’s turn “openness to ideas” to “openness to trying them out.” Let’s embrace risk, and yes, acceptance of disruption and upsetting the apple cart on a regular basis. And let’s get environmental cleanup moving forward much faster than it has in the past.



Introducing the Oregon Water Tech Innovators (OWTI). [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 9/10/15]. OWTI is a new special interest group whose purpose is to advance Oregon’s position as a leader in the water technology sector. It is open to all interested parties, including those working in private businesses, government, academia, and economic development. NEBC and Oregon BEST are hosting the group, in partnership with Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the Portland Development Commission. 

Our primary objectives are to (1) support the business development interests of those in the water sector (aka, NEBC members), (2) support water technology research and development efforts among Oregon’s academic institutions, and (3) to link the business and academic sectors to foster targeted research and follow-on technology commercialization. OWTI is taking an inclusive “one water” approach, embracing all aspects of the water cycle – including water supply, treatment, end-use, wastewater, re-use, and stormwater management – where technology and improved management practices can make a contribution in addressing our growing water challenge.

OWTI’s next group meeting with be on October 27 in Corvallis (Info Here). To learn more about the group and to join the OWTI listserv, go to the OWTI Web Page


Oregon Legislature Delivers Wins for Brownfields Redevelopment. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 8/11/15] In July, Governor Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 2734 which authorizes the creation of land banks to facilitate brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. In addition, the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, administered by Business Oregon, was replenished with $7 million in new funding. NEBC initiated the process that grew into to a coalition of more than 40 public, private, and non-profit organizations working towards legislation supportive of brownfields redevelopment. While Metro coordinated and staffed the coalition’s work, a number of NEBC members provided critical legal and technical knowledge to inform the process and then to help draft a set of bills that were brought before the legislature. Special thanks to Ater Wynne LLP (Doug MacCourt), GEI Consultants, Inc. (Marc Chartier), Maul Foster & Alongi (Seth Otto), Port of Portland (Lise Glancy), Sussman Shank LLP (Patrick Rowe), and Tonkon Torp LLP (David Rabbino).

The coalition was remarkable in its methodical and long-term approach, recognizing that this is a multi-year effort that may include regulatory changes as well as future legislative initiatives such as tax credits and tax abatements. In addition, some of the ideas on the table do not require legislation, and can be implemented on a city or regional level. To stay informed about the coalition’s activities, be sure you are a member of NEBC’s [BrownfieldsOR] email listserv. To sign up, send a note with your request to info@nebc.org


Human Contact - A Core NEBC Value. [Robert Grott, Executive Director. 6/10/15]  Each year in May, the NEBC Board holds a full day strategic planning session. This year, while exploring our special role in the crowded world of associations, a comment jumped out at me: “We believe in human contact.” In other words, NEBC is about relationships, about building interpersonal connections – and preferably face-to-face ones. All of our events have a networking component, whether at the beginning of a luncheon, during the long breaks and reception built into each of our conferences, or at our mixers where I like to joke that: “we dispense with the speaker and get down to business.”

Of course, given our focus on education, content delivery is extremely important to us. And we do struggle with the fact that many of our members are not within convenient reach of our physical events. But whenever we explore producing webinars as a possible solution, we are held off by the lack of a networking component. And although NEBC has entered the social media world, we have no illusions about it replacing the value of a hand shake. It’s not about being old fashioned, it’s about a belief in how business always has, and still does, get done.

P.S. Join us at our popular summer mixers where beer, wine, and hors d’ouevres join networking on the menu – July 15 in Seattle [info], and September 17 in Portland.


Opening Remarks to Oregon’s Energy Future Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director. 5/12/15] Historically, policies supporting efficiency and renewables have been driven by multiple overlapping motivations – ranging from reducing costs, reducing pollution, energy security, the threat of peak oil, concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, and just plain common sense. But now we’re in a curious position…especially in Oregon.

For one thing, the nationwide shift from coal to natural gas is proceeding at a remarkably rapid pace, mostly driven by the lower cost of gas and the increasing cost of pollution controls. This shift is greening the country’s electricity, and by itself contributing substantially to a drop in CO2 emissions. On the other hand, the abundance of inexpensive natural gas is reducing the cost of producing electricity – and thus the economic competitiveness of renewables.

But renewables are still going strong across the U.S., with a record amount predicted to be installed this year…but not in Oregon. Not too long ago, Oregon was a nation-wide leader in renewable energy projects. Now we’re hardly on the map. Large project incentives are mostly gone, utility renewable portfolio standards have been met, and many of those still developing renewable projects are working in other states. Yes, Oregon is still ranked as a leader in energy efficiency, but how long will that last as inexpensive natural gas erodes the cost effectiveness calculations that incentives are based on?

So, today, Oregon’s clean energy industry is at a low point. But I believe that this is only temporary. I truly believe that a revival is in the cards, stimulated – as it needs to be – by policy initiatives. When it comes to mitigating climate change, the drumbeats for urgent action are growing louder. And some form of carbon pricing is likely. Furthermore, utility RPS requirements could be expanded, state level incentives could return, and the EPA’s initiative for controlling power plant emissions, 111(d) could provide a driver for a whole new policy framework for the state. We don’t know when or how, but as I said before: In the long run, clean energy just makes common sense…and it makes good business sense.


 
Opening Remarks to the Managing Stormwater in Washington Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 4/9/15]. Let me start this stormwater conference by comparing the stormwater challenge with the climate change / CO2 challenge, or more precisely, by looking at the differences. Once you get past the question of whether CO2 buildup is human-caused, a central challenge of reducing CO2 output is the geographical scope of the problem. CO2 is a world-wide issue, the airshed is global and mobile, cause and effect can be radically dispersed – meaning that the impacts of CO2 buildup may be felt on the other side of the continent or across the ocean. So people in Washington ask why they should make big sacrifices when the CO2 issue is diffused and global, and our contribution only amounts to a literal drop in the ocean.

Stormwater is different. We own stormwater. It is local. It sweeps the pollution off of OUR industrial and construction sites, off of OUR roads and parking lots. It then flows into OUR streams and rivers, and into OUR bays and sounds. And being local, we can make a difference. We have to. And no it’s not easy. Point sources are the easy part. It’s easy to point to an industrial outfall or a muddy construction site and assign blame. Harder by far is confronting the runoff from our urban environment, farms, and logging sites. And it seems that the more we do, the more that science tells us we NEED to do. It seems that we are continually adding new substances to our list of concerns, while at the same time ratcheting down the limits of what is deemed safe.

Yes it’s a headache, yes it’s expensive. But that’s the price we pay for living in a region that values both commerce and nature, a region that embraces both urban landscapes and a healthy environment. [This year's conference was another exceptional event, attracting 450 attendees and 40 exhibit boots. Join us next year.]



Introducing The NEBC Risk Management Center. [Lisa Meddin, Marketing & Communications Manager, 3/3/15]. We are excited to offer members the NEBC Risk Management Center, a comprehensive insurance risk management, workplace safety, and compliance platform designed by safety professionals to allow you to reduce risk and enable employee safety. 


The Risk Management Center, powered by Succeed Management Solutions, is easy to set-up, accessible anywhere and anytime, and provides a cost-effective risk management and safety center for your entire organization across all departments and locations.

Each application helps with a specific aspect of risk management, including tracking certificates of insurance, incident reporting, safety data sheet management, personnel management, and other efforts to reduce risk. Together, these applications make up the Risk Management Center. Learn more by viewing the Risk Management Center web page .

 



Moving Into 2015 With More Members, More Programming, More Staff. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 2/10/15]. NEBC is turning 19 soon and is stronger than ever. As the year gets into full swing, it’s exciting to note that the organization is reaching new milestones in membership, programming, and staff.

 

- Membership has reached a new high at 256 companies and organizations – as evidenced by the pages added to the 2015 Service & Product Resource Guide.

- In the coming year, we will be producing a record six major conferences including a new one: Managing Stormwater in Oregon. After seven years of staging a highly successful stormwater conference in Tacoma, we are responding to popular demand and holding a parallel event in Portland on May 21. Having two conferences will enable us to better address the regulatory programs in each state. But more importantly, it will make it easier for Oregon’s regulated parties to attend this important educational event.

 

- The NEBC staff is growing to six, with the addition of Susan Baumgardner in the Portland office. She will be supporting the conferences by working with sponsors and exhibitors, and we welcome her added enthusiasm as we strive to best serve our stakeholders.

 

As always, we truly value the support of our members, and always welcome your input.

 



Leadership & Legacy – NEBC Names New Board President, Two Founders Retire. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 1/14/15]. I want to welcome NEBC’s new Board President, Mike Nesteroff of Lane Powell PC, whose term began at the start of this year. Mike has been on the Board since 2009 and replaces outgoing President Scott Woerman of Landau Associates who served in that role for five years. NEBC’s Board largely works in the background but plays a key role in guiding the organization. On behalf of the staff and the rest of the Board, I want to thank Scott for his important leadership contributions to NEBC.

2015 marks NEBC’s 19th anniversary as a regional organization, when three older statewide organizations came together to form one stronger one. We are also marking the retirement of two of NEBC’s founding members. Jerry Mattox and Jerry Smedes – known to some as the “two Jerrys” – were both part of the Washington Environmental Industry Association (WEIA) before it merged into NEBC, and have been active on the Chapter level ever since. J. Smedes also served as our lobbyist in Olympia as part of the Smedes & Associates team, while J. Mattox published the Environmental Services Directory for Washington State. We wish them well as they take on new endeavors – with appreciation and as a reminder of the legacy of service that NEBC is built on. 

 



Opening Remarks to the Northwest Environmental Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 12/10/14]. There is one aspect of the agenda that I want to point to that is in its own way reflective of long term trends in our business environment. That is the track dedicated to Sustainable Business, and by that we mean the topic of sustainability addressed from a hard-nosed business perspective. This is only the third year that sustainability topics have had their own track, and each year the level of the content is becoming more sophisticated. 

 

We don’t have a sustainability track because we’re trying to be contemporary or up on the latest fads. On the contrary, we have been slow to pick up this banner – and we are doing so because we’ve been hearing from our business attendees that, for many of them, sustainability is merging with environmental compliance as core elements of their job duties. And it also has become accepted knowledge that sustainable business practices can lead to operating efficiencies, reduced waste, reduced costs, higher profits, and enhanced standing with both customers and investors. But that’s not why I’m bringing this up.

It’s been over 40 years since the passage of the clean air act and the clean water act – cornerstones of our framework for environmental protection and cleanup. And we’ve come a long, long way. For the majority of industries and other businesses, the desire to comply with rules and regulations has become the norm, and point sources of pollution are no longer the driving issue they once were.

 

Instead, I see us coming to a point where voluntary practices and market-driven incentives become increasingly important, and perhaps even take the foreground. I’m not saying that regulations and enforcement will go away any time in the foreseeable future, but what I am saying is that the sustainability mission might take the baton, and move environmental responsibility to the next level.

Especially in our highly politicized and litigious world where passing any sort of new laws or regulations has become exceedingly difficult and complicated, market competition as to who can be the “best actor” may hold the key to moving from “have-to-do” to “want-to-do.” In the end, I can envision a point where we move from concerns about creating a level regulatory playing field – as if regulations are by necessity an economic drag – to finding ways to support winners in a new competitive playing field. In short, sustainability will take off where regulation ends.



Opening Remarks to the WA Future Energy Conference. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 11/12/14]. 

My wife and I do a lot of hiking, and being a gadget person she has a nifty hand-held GPS unit. And if we are hiking on an established trail, it shows the path we need to take, where we are on the path, how fast we are moving, and how much farther to our goal. I was thinking about how that same set of metrics applies to the work of addressing climate change – and the role of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation in that effort.

I think we generally have a good sense of the path, in terms of what direction we need to be headed in, what the terrain may look like, and the geographical features and landmarks to expect along the way. But if we look at where we are along the path, how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go, it gets a bit disconcerting. Although the clean energy team has been hiking for what seems like a very long time, and has some major and impressive accomplishments to be proud of -- our climate GPS shows that we’ve barely left the parking lot. And the topo map shows that the slope is just going to keep getting steeper.

Over the past decade many of us focused on the economics of clean energy, and how with some basic incentives we could stimulate an active marketplace not only in our cornerstone area of efficiency, but renewable energy and cleaner vehicles as well. Energy security was also a major theme then. But we ran into trouble on the way to the future. Economic incentives have dwindled. and then there was the sudden surge in the supply of inexpensive natural gas, which, as they say, changed everything.

In other words, the market hasn’t taken over yet – especially when we expect clean energy to compete on a playing field that does not adequately factor in the societal cost of carbon. So we still need supportive policies. If not on the federal level, then on the state level, and if not on the state level, then on the city and county level. So this conference has two goals: one to bring you up-do-date on the practical aspects of the clean energy industry. The other is to help stimulate and invigorate a policy discussion about the direction that our state, and our society, will be taking. And I don’t mean some time off in the future. The questions that challenge us are here, and today. Thank you for being part of this process.

 



Strength Through Partnerships. [Lisa Meddin, Marketing & Communications Manager, 10/8/14]

One of NEBC’s goals is to “promote the health of the industry and the environment as a whole.” One way we do this is through our Reciprocal Partner Program, in which we partner with other organizations to promote each other’s events. These two-way partnerships connect NEBC in new ways with potential members, resources, and industry leaders while exposing new audiences to NEBC, our events and our members.

For example, NEBC and Drive Oregon are reciprocal partners - we promote Drive Oregon’s EV Roadmap conference and Drive Oregon promotes the Oregon and Washington Future Energy Conferences. As an EV Roadmap partner, NEBC’s logo is on the conference website and in the program, the Service & Product Resource Guide is available for attendees, and we get a free registration. In return, we promote EV Roadmap to our members and community through our Industry Events web page, the Environmental Events email, and social media. As an Oregon and Washington Energy Conference partner, Drive Oregon gets similar benefits in return for promoting the conferences to their members and community.

In 2014 we enjoyed reciprocal partnerships with organizations such as the Northwest Association of Environmental Professionals, Oregon BEST, and the Washington Clean Technology Association. We always welcome new partners, so if you belong to, or know of an organization that you think might be a good partner, contact lisa@nebc.org.

 



Building Support for Brownfield Redevelopment in Oregon. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 9/11/14]

NEBC is a core member of a coalition established this year to promote state and local programs that would facilitate redevelopment of brownfields. Representatives from about 30 organizations, agencies, and local governments have been working to develop a package of initiatives, some of which need action by the Oregon legislature, and some of which can be implemented on a local level. A list of programs from across the country has been evaluated to determine which concepts would be the most impactful, appropriate, and politically feasible for Oregon. The current objective is to have a legislative approach ready for the 2015 session. The first priority is refunding of the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund administered by Business Oregon. Other concepts that may be put forward include tax credits, tax abatements, and land banks. But unlike most coalitions, this one has a long-term horizon that extends beyond the next one, two, or three legislative sessions. In addition, some of the ideas on the table do not require legislation, and can be implemented on a city or regional level. Of course, brownfield cleanup has long been a core NEBC sector, and Individual members have been providing highly valuable technical research and input into the coalition’s work. To stay informed about the coalition’s progress, be sure you are a member of NEBC’s [BrownfieldsOR] email listserv. To sign up, send a note with your request to info@nebc.org

 



Oregon Stormwater Conference Added to NEBC Lineup. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 8/14/14]

StormCon, the national stormwater management conference, made its first visit to Oregon this August. It’s about time. Oregon and Washington have long been national leaders in stormwater regulation and innovative control technologies. In fact, a number of local companies (NEBC members of course) are exporting approaches and technologies to other states. Meanwhile, NEBC’s “Managing Stormwater in the Northwest” conference in Tacoma has seen steady growth over its seven years. That conference has been held in Washington partly because the state’s regulatory regime has been a step ahead of Oregon’s. Now Oregon has caught up. Recent tightening of the state’s stormwater regulations, with their tougher effluent standards, has brought a new level of intensity to the issue.

Therefore, in consultation with a number of our stormwater-focused members, we have decided that the time has come to split the regional stormwater conference into two events in 2015. “Managing Stormwater in Washington” will once again be held in Tacoma on March 11. This will be followed by “Managing Stormwater in Oregon” in Portland on May 21. Holding two conferences will enable us to better address the regulatory programs in each state. But more importantly, it will make it easier for Oregon’s regulated parties (industries, construction firms, municipalities) to attend this important educational event. So far, potential sponsors and exhibitors are responding positively to the new conference. Mark your calendar now, and stay tuned for more information.




NEBC Past and Future. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 7/10/14]

Each year, the NEBC Board of Directors meets for a full-day strategic planning session. At 18 years old, the organization is mature, healthy, and strong. That gives us the luxury to think longer-term – towards the future and the inevitable changes that we will be facing. Thinking back to NEBC’s founding in 1996 (as a roll-up of four state-level organizations), environmental services was still emerging as an industry, systematic environmental management was a new concept for businesses, renewable energy projects were just beginning to appear, and sustainability wasn’t yet a business term. And of course, communications were very different. NEBC sent event notices out by FAX, email was still a new tool, and our first website didn’t appear until 1998.

Since then, our industry sectors have matured, the economy has gone through several recessions, what was new is now mainstream, and NEBC as an organization has grown significantly in both size and breadth of services. But looking ahead, NEBC’s toughest challenges may relate more to changing behavior and technology use among our members, rather than industry sector or regulatory changes (which are perhaps easier to adjust to). We hear that: “People are busier and have less time to go to events;” “Social media is supplanting face-to-face networking;” “People can get any information they want at any time they want it;” “Email is dying as a mass-communications tool.”

Not surprisingly, these are the same challenges facing every member organization. But at NEBC, we don’t see these changes as threats, and our response hasn’t changed over our 18 years: strive to deliver the best content and services we can, while creatively adapting to the changing world around us. It’s certainly not easy, and your ideas on how we can best do that are always welcome.




Remarks to the Environmental Bankers Association Mtg in Seattle. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 6/11/14]

I was invited to make some welcoming remarks to the EBA meeting held this year in Seattle on June 9-10. Below is a condensed excerpt.
 

…While this region can’t compare to some other areas of the country in terms of environmental challenges, we do have our share of old mills and mines, legacy manufacturing sites…and yes old gas stations and dry cleaners. And being on the water, we have our industrial superfund sites – the Duwamish River in Seattle and the Portland Harbor site in Oregon.

At the same time, there is a growing demand to redevelop environmentally challenged properties. With our strict zoning, it is difficult to find green land to build on. The resulting shortage of industrial land, coupled by peoples’ growing desire to live and work in the urban cores, is creating a push for in-fill development. And this re-development often means working with contaminated land.

 

We also understand that the perspective of the financial partners in a development deal are extraordinarily important. Which is why your being here is important. Because, to tell you something you already know: increased knowledge and understanding reduces perceived risk. The more you understand a problem, and how to put boundaries around it, how to scale it, and then manage it, the more you can narrow the risk band, and be able to reduce uncertainty, and thus the size of the cost contingency you have to load onto a project, or an asset.

 

For example, I know of environmental engineering firms that went into the property development business because, by understanding contamination and the cleanup process, they realized that they are able to reduce the perceived risk of a brownfield property – and move in where others feared to tread.

 

So by immersing yourselves in these technical and somewhat arcane issues, I see this group as facilitating economic progress, rather than standing in the way. So, thank you for joining us here in Seattle, and thank you for your partnership in advancing responsible economic development and good environmental practices.



Which Side Are We On? [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 5/12/14]

It seems that some people are puzzled by the fact that NEBC, which hosts the region’s signature clean energy events (the Oregon and Washington Future Energy Conferences), is also hosting a workshop on the export of oil, coal, and natural gas (Energy Export Permitting in the Northwest – June 16, Sea-Tac Airport). Rather than contradictory, the apparent dichotomy between these events is actually consistent with NEBC’s mission to provide a forum for complex conversations. NEBC is a highly diverse organization, and is at heart a technical one. The world in which our members operate tends to be governed by science and regulations. In fact, we have a long history of helping to ensure that the regulations that guide our day-to-day lives are science-based.

Therefore, when it comes to highly contentious and politicized issues, we avoid engaging in a positional debate, but rather try to understand the underlying facts and issues – as complex and murky, and sometimes uncomfortable, as they may be. We may have strong personal beliefs, but we try to leave them at the coat rack in our effort to understand the world around us and the many layered implications of our actions. We also understand that, to be effective in creating change, we need to understand how the current system works, and the ground rules for influencing decisions within our regulatory systems. Sometimes the path is technical, and sometimes the path is political. But even when following a political strategy, it helps to have facts on your side. 




Communications Strategies - New and Old. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 4/07/14]

As you can tell from the social media icons on the NEBC News section of our home page, we are on LinkedIn with a company page, a fast growing NEBC group of close to 600 members, and a YEP (Young Environmental Professionals) group of more than 300 members. In addition, we are very active on Twitter (@nebcorg), with a growing following. These social media platforms enable us to communicate to our community of members in new ways, and give members another way to communicate with each other. Social media makes our mainstay of email - and our seven active listservs - seem decidedly "old school." And that's quite a change in a short time. In fact, when I started at NEBC eight years ago, we were still sending out event announcements by Fax!

We are also building strong partnerships with other web and media outlets. An example is our partnership with Conduit (www.Conduitnw.com), a website and forum for the energy efficiency sector. In addition, we are growing our relationships with traditional news media, including the Portland Business Journal, the Seattle Business Journal, the Seattle DJC, and the Portland DJC. All of this adds up to a web of dynamic connections, creating a stronger internal network and expanding NEBC’s and our members’ presence throughout the Northwest.



NEBC's Stormwater Conference Reaches New Heights. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 3/12/14]

The 2014 Managing Stormwater in the Northwest conference, held in Tacoma on March 5th, was the seventh and largest of these annual events, attracting over 450 attendees and 40 exhibitors. This year, the agenda was expanded to include distinct tracks for industrial, commercial, and municipal permit topics, and we saw a greater diversity of attendees than ever before. This expansion was accompanied by a growth in the sophistication of the material covered, as we had more room for “advanced” topics.

The two keynote speakers provided good context for our collective challenge. Opening keynote Marc Daily, Deputy Director of the Puget Sound Partnership, reminded us of the central role stormwater plays in the health of Puget Sound and other water bodies, and how cleaning up the Sound is a massive and long-term, but necessary undertaking. Lunch keynote, George Harris, President of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, told a provocative story of how NWMTA has worked to successfully reduce the incidence of copper in its members’ stormwater, while also spearheading the elimination of copper-based hull paints – and still couldn’t avoid lawsuits by environmental groups.

 

Outside of the plenaries and breakout sessions, the education continued in the conversations with the exhibitors and among the attendees. The energy level was high, new connections were made, resources identified, and business was incubated. Which means that, in the end, this conference exemplified what NEBC is all about.



NEBC and Politics. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 2/10/14]
A core part of NEBC’s mission is to support its industry sectors, which for a trade association typically means taking legislative stands. But the broad diversity of our membership makes this a complex task – and one that our Board of Directors has spent a good deal of time discussing over the years. So I want to explain how we make decisions as to where we engage. First of all, NEBC has an open membership policy. All organizations working in, or supportive of, our industry sectors are welcome to join. There is clearly no political filter, and members’ politics and economic interests cover a wide spectrum (and, as I am regularly reminded, our attorneys and consultants work on all sides of any issue). For example, some members benefit from stricter regulations, while others struggle against the increased burden. Some support renewable energy and biofuels mandates, while others are concerned about their own operating costs going up.

 

When it comes to legislative issues, NEBC has a paid lobbyist in Olympia, and in Oregon we team with other organizations to get our positions heard. But before we take a public stand on an issue, either on our own or as part of a coalition, the matter is brought before the Board of Directors for approval. Given the large time investment required for political activity, the following guidelines have been articulated to help decide where we engage: (1) the issue is directly relevant to our members, (2) we have a distinct message to contribute and our voice can make a difference, and (3) members in one industry sector are not adversely impacted by progress in another.
 

As a result, NEBC ends up playing a leadership role on issues such as contamination cleanup and brownfields redevelopment, while taking a back seat on more contentious issues such as climate change legislation. But even where we are not taking an advocacy position, we still have a role to play as a facilitator and contributor to the discussion. An example is the workshop we are planning on “Energy Export Permitting in the Northwest” in partnership with the Air & Waste Management Association (June 16, Sea-Tac Airport). Our purpose here is to explore the technical environmental and legal aspects of coal and oil transport and export – hopefully to enable a discussion where information informs positions, rather than the other way around. 

 

So although NEBC could have a louder political voice if we had a narrower membership, we find that our broad membership – and our role as a discussion hub – provides us with other ways to lead.

 



Busy Year on Tap for NEBC. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 1/12/14]

2014 is already set to be the busiest year in NEBC’s history. We are either presenting or co-presenting six full conferences, a one-day technical workshop, twenty luncheons (Seattle, Portland, Boise), four after-hours chapter mixers, a golf tournament, and more than twenty forum events for the various brownfields, energy, and Young Environmental Professionals groups.


And, of course, events aren’t the only thing we do. We also work on regulatory and legislative issues of particular concern to our members. This year that includes brownfields and energy issues in Oregon, and model clean-up protocols in Washington. Finally, we work on an ongoing basis with local and state economic development organizations, plus other trade associations, to represent the environmental and energy industries – creating exposure for our members and doing our share to help build a strong economy.
 

People are continually amazed to learn that we do as much as we do with a staff of only five. How do we do it? Not only do we have a great team, but we work hard, and work smart – we’re always looking for ways to be more efficient and to build on our experiences. But, as much as anything, we feel privileged to be working for an organization with an important mission and such an impressive membership base. And we’re honored to interact each day with a great group of top-notch professionals. Thank you, and here’s to a great 2014.


 

 
Wow, What a Conference! [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 12/12/13]
The Northwest Environmental Conference (Dec. 10-11) celebrated its 25th year with a spirit of renewal and optimism. After years spent struggling through the recession, many sectors of the economy are on the upswing – and with them the fortunes of NEBC member companies.

 

This year’s attendance was well over 500, and the trade show’s 74 booths completely sold out. (Exhibitors have already begun reserving their slots for next year, so act early to ensure you are not left out!) The upbeat energy was palpable as companies are building towards the future: investing in new equipment, and yes, beginning to hire more employees. Of course not all sectors are out of the woods. Federal spending remains under a cloud, and state and local government spending will be slow to recover. But at least we’re facing a question of timing…not of direction.

 

This “rising tide” is mirrored by NEBC’s membership numbers. After several years of a relatively high turnover and flat growth, NEBC membership has reached a new high of 255 companies and other supporting organizations. The staff is upbeat as well. We have a solid team in place and are geared up for a busy 2014, highlighted by six major conferences.

 

I began my opening remarks at NWEC with: “Times are good…Do you know how many years I’ve been waiting to say that?” And I concluded with this wish for all of us: ”I hope that this is the start of not only a good year, but of a great year. But also a year of taking on the true challenge ahead of us: the challenge of building a robust economy while at the same time protecting the environment. And not only protecting it, but also sustaining it for future generations to come.





Moving Clean Energy Forward. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 11/01/13]
The Washington Future Energy Conference on October 30th was an impressive event, with over 325 high-caliber attendees, truly in-depth and thought-provoking sessions, and great networking. In my opening remarks, I discussed what I believe it will take to reach our clean energy goals. In short, it comes down to market demand spurred by a cycle that involves three major nodes: government policy, motivated buyers, and technology advances. Read my full remarks here, and for a good overview recap: read here.



Standing on the Shoulders of Sponsors. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 10/7/13]
It's pretty routine: go to any conference and there is someone like me up at the podium beginning the day by "thanking the sponsors for making this event possible." Well, they and I are not exaggerating. Our goal at NEBC is to enable as many people as possible to attend our educational events, and I calculate that, without sponsors, the registration rates at our conferences would have to at least double - and that would certainly cut attendance and hurt our efforts to bring the industry together. So when I say "thank you," I really mean it. 


That said, let's look at it from the other side. We see sponsorship as an opportunity for the sponsoring company or organization. Event sponsorship is a tried-and-true marketing tool for building brand awareness and demonstrating a company's market leadership, as well as its support for the industry (and NEBC). So when someone from the office calls you to offer a sponsorship slot, they are offering an opportunity. Sure it's sales, but it's sales for a worthwhile purpose and for mutual benefit.

We commonly hear that: "We'd like to sponsor, but it's not in our budget for this year." So to help you out, we've produced a 2014 Sponsorship Schedule that lists our major conferences for next year, along with the sponsorship rates. Download it here and plan us into your budget. And did I already say "thank you"?



Membership ROI – Part II. It’s About the Opportunity [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 9/10/13]

Yes NEBC does do market outreach on your behalf, for example by distributing thousands of our Resource Guides each year, and pulling visitors to the Solutions Locator portion of our website. But the members who get the most out of NEBC get out, step up, and participate. All of our events share the common goal of bringing people together. In fact, gathering people in the same room is what I call “our approach to economic development” – as anyone who’s been around for a while understands that that’s how business gets done. At NEBC, we are very conscious about making space for the networking side of business development. But you have to show up to take advantage of the opportunity. And the power of showing up and networking goes beyond the luncheons, classrooms, and trade shows. For example, committees offer members a prime opportunity to interact with their peers on a more in-depth level. Our surveys show that the members who attend events and other face-to-face activities value their membership more highly. That’s no surprise. They use it. If you’re not sure how, give me a call.



Membership ROIPart I. It's Not About the Discounts. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 8/12/13]
Prospective members often ask themselves (and us) whether the dollar value of the benefits they will receive is greater than the amount of their dues. This is a legitimate question, and I can expound on the value proposition at length, but what I want to address here is the additional comment of: “why join, when I can attend all of the events as a non-member and just pay higher registration fees that still add up to less than my dues.” My response is that event fees pay for the event, and some organizational overhead, but not nearly enough to run the organization. Membership dues are what fund the core organization. And without members, there would be no staff to plan the events, which means no events for non-members to take advantage of: no education, no networking, no business development opportunities. Plus no regulatory and legislative advocacy on behalf of the industry, and no information center. So, in short, becoming a member means paying your fair share of NEBC’s true costs. Simple as that.



NEBC Welcomes Newest Staff Member. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 7/22/13]
Lisa Meddin has joined NEBC as our Marketing & Communications Manager. Lisa’s focus is on membership development, event marketing, and member and industry communications. Her experience includes serving as the Environmental Education Program Manager for the James City Service Authority in Williamsburg, VA, where she developed and managed award winning water conservation and watershed protection programs; acting as Executive Director of Junior Achievement of Savannah, GA; and managing marketing and communications for several small businesses. She also holds a certificate in Social Media Marketing Strategy and is a published writer. Rain or shine, Lisa enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with good friends and her intrepid poodle, Beamer.



Legislation & Brownfields – Win Some, Lose Some. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 7/10/13]

A win in Washington State. For the past three years, NEBC has been working with the environmental committees in both the House and Senate to achieve significant policy changes in the state Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). This year’s SB 5296 prioritizes the use of MTCA funds to achieve a greater emphasis on site cleanups and stormwater projects, and to promote brownfields cleanups, especially in waterfront areas. It also protects the cleanup funds from being diverted to the general fund or other uses not related to the original purpose of the law. This is a strong win for those supporting brownfields redevelopment. NEBC’s Washington lobbyist, Smedes & Associates, played an instrumental role in crafting the legislation and helping it survive a very contentious process to ultimate passage. NEBC also joined with others to see that the temporary 20% B&O tax surcharge for service companies was not extended past its June 30 expiration date. More details on the MTCA legislation here.

A loss in Oregon. The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is a revolving loan fund created in 1997 and administered by the Oregon Business Development Department. Over the years, it has been an important source of technical assistance and low-interest loans for returning contaminated properties to productive use. The fund is now essentially depleted, yet its recapitalization was not included in the Governor’s budget. NEBC joined with several legislators and a number of governmental entities and associations to put forward HB 3030 which would provide new funding for this great example of a cost-effective economic leveraging tool. Despite general support, the bill ultimately died in the last days of the session. We’ll try again in 2014.



Re-Using Contaminated Land - Conference Reflections. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 6/10/13]

The Re-Using Contaminated Land conference, held in Tacoma on June 6, brought together 200 people who are engaged in some aspect of environmental cleanup and/or property development. The educational component was excellent, showcasing the depth of knowledge among our members. And during breaks, the talking and networking in the exhibit area was non-stop as new connections were made and old ones reinforced. After the 2010 Washington Brownfields Redevelopment Conference, we put the gathering “on hold” as the collapse of the real estate market ended most activity in this sector. But now the market is returning, buildable property is in demand, and contaminated sites are being consideration once again. The tide is rising, and NEBC got “back in the game” with this conference. Based on the great feedback we received, it will return next year.

 

NEBC members are characterized by their passion for getting things done. And I could tell by talking with those at the conference how rewarding it feels to see a neglected, and possibly hazzardous, property cleaned up and put back into productive use. Frankly, it is an honor for NEBC as an organization (and the staff personally) to support the people who are doing this “good work.” And it goes both ways. As one attendee said in appreciation of the conference: “I don’t know where we would be without NEBC.” That’s called partnership.

 



Welcome to the New NEBC Website! [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 5/11/13]
It's been a long time coming, and took a lot of work, but we're excited to introduce NEBC's revamped website. The old information is still here, but more accessible and easier to use. Then we have a set of new features for you to take advantage of, including:

  • NEBC News, Member News,  Industry News, Industry Events: Stay up-do-date and post your own news using the "submit" button on each page. It's easy to upload photos as well.

  • Project Center (under the "Jobs" tab): Post and review projects, subcontractor, and teaming opportunities.
     
  • Jobs Center: Post job openings through the NEBC EmployerPages portal; or review resumes posted here by job seekers.

  • The Solutions Provider locator page now has a more robust search function that covers both the member's paragraph description and the solutions categories listed for the company. 

Hopefully, you will also appreciate the enhanced NEBC Events calendar, and other improvements over the old site. This is a work-in-progress, and feedback is always appreciated. And certainly let me know you notice any glitches or inaccuracies - with all the different Web browsers out there, getting everything to look right is quite a challenge!


Member Benefits You Should Know About. [Robert Grott, Executive Director, 4/16/13]
We’re always looking for ways to add value to our members. If you see an interesting  service, send me a note.

Discounted  Hotel Rates. As a brand new service, NEBC  has arranged with Corporate Hotel Network to offer discounted hotel rates to  NEBC members for both business and personal travel. You will find savings off of  the published rates for most properties, with even greater savings at those  hotels that offer special discounts for system users (indicated by the cartoon  character Sean). Simply use NEBC’s special portal www.employeetravelspecials.com/nebc.aspx  and sign in with your email address.  

Note that if your company has a corporate travel program, keep using that for your business travel and use this site for your personal travel. If you work for a company without its own program, this service is great for both business and personal use. Also, you can be comfortable that your email address will not be sold or used for other purposes. Spread the word about this service to your co-workers!

ApplicantPool Hiring Tool. This service has been around for a while and is attracting an increasing number of visitors. Not only can an employer post job openings, but the service provides a simple-to-use, web-based hiring system to manage and track job openings and employment applications, while increasing your applicant pool. The basic service is free for NEBC members. Features include a company branded landing page, job-specific screening questions, an application tracking system, access to a suite of optional assessment tools, and full customization options. The system also publishes jobs to a variety of free job boards, and is optimized for search engine discovery. ApplicantPool can be a stand-alone tool or a portal to your in-house applicant tracking system. To explore or start, go to www.nebcjobs.org and click on the Employers tab to get a login.

Put  Your Computer Recyclables to Good Use. Oregon Non-Profit, StRUT picks up pallet loads of tech recyclables at no charge,  including computers and parts, monitors, printers, copiers, etc. Then students  refurbish them to donate to Oregon Schools. Teachers learn software development and  hardware management skills by refurbishing your donated equipment. The computers  then go back into Oregon's K-12 school system, and what cannot be refurbished is  recycled to keep out of our landfills. Contact Marty Willie, StRUT  Program Coordinator at 619-888-7762 or martywillie@strut.org