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  • Mark Wallace
    Social Media, Four Years Later…2
    Entry last edited March 2, 2012 by Mark WallaceElite Contributor in Blogs > Mark Wallace's - The UnCommon Denominator public
    Title:
    Social Media, Four Years Later…
    Entry:

    I used to post blogs all the time talking about social media, but it has been a long time since my last post.  When I began blogging on commonground, I was often asked why I was posting about social media in a community for environmental professionals where conversations were about things like phase I assessments, REC's, vapor intrusion, Sanborn maps, etc..   Then, I started to receive calls and meeting requests from many members to talk about the benefits of social media as a business development tool.    We have always remained eager to help members.  Most of those calls and meetings would end with a comment like “that all sounds really great, but how are we going to leverage that in our business” to which I would reply “it doesn't happen overnight, so …..”

    Now, you cannot dispute the fact that social media is part of our lives – like it or not.  Look around your office, your local Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, or your favorite restaurant and you will see the words Facebook or Twitter  everywhere.  The below excerpt is from a recent Altimeter Group Study on Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networks:

    “In 2011, we reached a milestone when over half of all US adults regularly used social networking sites.  That means the majority of American adults are not only familiar with social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and, Twitter, but also understand the value of being connected with the people in their lives”

    Now, fast forward to 2012, it is amazing how much more comfortable the environmental professional community has become with social media.   Some environmental consulting and engineering firms have now integrated social media strategies into their marketing plans, many have lifted bans on using Facebook at their offices, and many are now trying to figure out the best ways to leverage it.   Why, because 11% of all web traffic is on Facebook.   And if people are there, which they clearly are, then businesses must be too.

    This week, I received a handful of emails from Sean Dundon, Dianne Crocker, and a few other members about an upcoming Environmental Business Council Seminar on Social Media 101.  For those of you who are just learning about it, it might be beneficial to attend if you are interested. 

    It got me thinking – would it make sense for us to run a free commonground web seminar on how to generate value for your business through the use social media?  If yes, what are some of the questions you would like to see us cover?

    If we get enough interest and responses to my post, we can pull together a small panel of social media practitioners and experts from our industry to provide you with answers to your questions, case studies, and actionable takeaways to help you grow your business.   

    In closing, I would like to thank you - our members - for your interest, for trying new things, and for thinking we were only partially nuts to build a b2b community where EP’s could collaborate, help each other, and support our industry. 

    Keywords:
    environmental consultant, environmental consulting, commonground, Facebook, LinkedIn, Environmental Business Council, Social Media for Business
  • Lauren617
    Our new logo!95.0
    Entry last edited February 22, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    Our new logo!
    Entry:

    I'm so excited to share this with the community: commonground has a new logo!

    In case you missed my post a few weeks ago, commonground is about to get a makeover. As part of this process, we decided commonground need a new logo. Mike Kulka recently posted a great blog on logos. If you've considered updating your company's branding, definitely give it a read. 

     

    commonground communityWhy a new logo for cg? 

    1. We never actually used a graphic designer to create the one we have now.

    2. We got the feeling that our membership and core values as a community clashed a bit with our current theme, especially the weoples.  

    3. We wanted a logo that communicated our community's story. 

     

    So, without further adieu.... 

    More:

    commonground community

    Ta-da! 

    Here are the top three reasons I love it. 

    1. It's social. 

    2. It clearly conveys what commonground is all about.

    3. Instead of the doom & gloom our industry is often associated with, it is bright and almost cheerful. 

    We put a lot of thought into the process, including advice from our commonground executive commity.

    You can expect to start seeing the new logo in use on the site along with new, cleaner background art over the next few weeks. 

    What do you think? 

  • Lauren617
    What's happening with vapor intrusion?25.0
    Entry last edited February 17, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    What's happening with vapor intrusion?
    Entry:

    Over the last several years the industry has grappled with how to deal with vapor contamination on and around properties. Vapor intrusion—and then vapor encroachment—have increasingly played a role in Phase I ESAs as ASTM developed standards to guide screening for vapor conditions. 

    Regulations and standards that deal with what happens from screening, through analysis and finally the cleanup and closure of sites impacted by vapor contamination are currently under review.  Here is a quick review on what's been happening at ASTM, EPA and one state.

    More:

    Screening

    • ASTM E1527-05 may be revised to clarify the part vapors play in a Phase I ESA. The E1527 task group, with guidance from EPA, is likely to- in one way or another- acknowledge within the standard that a vapor plume should be recognized just as groundwater contamination or a spill on a site. To put it another way: the state of a contaminant doesn’t impact whether or not it should be considered a recognized environmental condition. This is likely to make the E2600 standard more critical to Phase I ESAs. 

    Analysis

    • New vapor intrusion guidance documents are being published on both state and federal levels.  In November, Massachusetts revised its VI guidance—which is now available as a 160-page interim final guidance. Meanwhile, EPA is accepting public comments through May 2012 as it prepares to edit its guidance for the first time since 2002. The agency plans to issue the final guidance in late 2012. 

    Cleanup

    • Cleanup programs are also likely to be impacted as agencies revise the effect vapors have on sites. Speculation has been swirling that EPA is considering changing the hazardous ranking system (HRS) under CERCLA to account for vapor pathways.  Such changes could add sites to the NPL that currently don’t reach a level of risk to qualify them for Superfund cleanup. Closed sites may be reopened and the ranking of sites already on the NPL is likely to be shaken-up.
       
    • For a state example, the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP) is undergoing revisions to help "strengthen and streamline the notification, assessment, cleanup and closure of VI sites" in light of its new guidance. I attended a meeting of the MCP’s VI workgroup last week which was very well attended. I was surprised to hear how many consultants are dealing with sites on which vapor intrusion is the only environmental issue holding up closer on the site.  

    Our member poll this week asks you how you think vapor encroachment should be dealt with during a Phase I ESA. Early results show that two-thirds of respondents think vapors should be considered as part of the Phase I. What do you think?

    What’s happening in your state? Are you seeing changes to your guidance? What impacts will these changes have on the industry? 

  • Lauren617
    A Red Carpet Run Demands a New Look...
    Entry last edited February 1, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    A Red Carpet Run Demands a New Look...
    Entry:

    It's award season: the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, the Super Bowl this weekend and the Oscars a few weeks after that. Whether you are more the type to tune into media day in Indianopolis or E!'s coverage of the best and worst dressed,  there is a common theme: a lot of thought goes into the impression being made by the stars of these shows. 

    Here in New England, people are buzzing about Rob Gronkowski's press conference yesterday, mostly because it seems like coach Bill definitely had a hand in his preperation. (Not that this is a huge surprise.) But, when it comes to big competitions like these, appearances are critical to psyching out the competition (in the case of the superbowl) or furthering the personal brand of prestige (in the case of the Oscars). 

    Well, commonground has something in common with the Great Gronk and Viola Davis this year. We learned a few weeks ago that we are being awarded the Environmental Business Journal's Industry Leadership Award! And, we are up for the SIIA CODiE Award in the coming weeks. Last year, we were finalists for the CODiE and lost to Salesforce.com. It was a tough blow--the CODiE is probably the most prestigious award for business software and digital content. But as they say "it is an honor just to be nominated" and "it was a heck of a season!"

    More:

    In preparation for our big honors, commonground is going to get a bit of a make over, too. Over the past few weeks, we have been working with graphic designers and online community experts to rework the look and flow on commonground. I realized how important this process is to our community when I got an email from one of our loyal members, MattFox, who told me he never saw the notes about our Holiday Hilarity contest. That's a problem! I thought it was everywhere, but Matt has put together his own little shortcuts for navigating around the site because the default homepage hasn't been cutting it for him and he never saw the links to the contest.

    This is all going to change. Here is what you can expect: 

    • A new top navigation that is more streamlined
    • Forum pages that cater to user types 
    • Custom homepages that list all of your posts, comments, network of your contacts, subscriptions and favorites on the site
    • A new logo--we are ditching the "weoples". This is a little sad, but Rob Barber put it best, "bald and pantless is no way to go through life." 
    • New background imagery
    • New homepage

    Over the years, commonground has outgrown the current theme and layout. We have so much more content, many more members and increased functionality on the site and the new commonground will make sure all of this is within better reach. There will also be much more focus on you, the community. 

    What improvements do you want to see? What is most important to you as we go through this process?

    I think the new navigation and theme on the site are sure to elevate the commonground brand and bring it to a place the better-reflects the quality of content and membership we have on the site.   Hopefully this will serve us as we head into the CODiE Award process!

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Oh, and go Pats!  

     

     

  • Lauren617
    ASTM E1527 Revisions- Last Week's Poll
    Entry last edited January 25, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    ASTM E1527 Revisions- Last Week's Poll
    Entry:

    Last week we resurrected the weekly poll to start gauging the community on business, political, regulatory and some just-for-fun topics. Our first questions was about the current revisions to the ASTM E1527-05 standard. Below are the results. 

    ASTM E1527While most of the community was aware that the standard was currently  being revised, it looks like there are a lot of questions about what could be changing. 

    Some of you may be asking: why is this standard being revised when EPA has already required it in a Federal rule? According to ASTM policy, standards must be updated or reapproved as-is by the members of the committee every 8 years or they sunset and become unusable. Since the task group had to go through the voting process anyway, they decided to make some clarifications that wouldn't impact EPA's requirement that the standard is "at least as stringent" as the AAI Rule. 

    I sit on the ASTM E50 committee and have tried to take part in as many of the task group meetings and calls that have been happening over the past few years as the E1527 task group debates what-if anything- should change. 

    Here is a list of the topics that have received the most attention and will likely change a big in 2012. 

    • Changes to the HREC and REC definition 
    • Clarification re: the file review requirement
    • Clarification re:  vapor enchroachment's relationship to E1527
    • Clarification that the requirements of E1527 are for those seeking LLPs or grants (directed at "users" of the standard--especially lenders)
    • New Table of Contents
    • Changes to the legal appendix
    • Fixing some "should" versus "shall" language throughout the standard
    • requirements on database providers to update records more frequently

    Did I miss any? Now this list is just what is being brought to the table, and I don't expect all of the components are going to change in the version of the standard that will go to ballot in the coming weeks. After the E50 committee sends out the ballot (I think we are shooting for sometime in late Feb or early Mar), the task group will have to deal with all of the negative comments to build consensus around the new standard. So, we will likely have a new version of E1527 in late spring or early summer. 

    If you want more details on the revisions, read Tina Huff's blog. She's also a task group member and has written some good stuff on the debates we've been having.

     

    Oh, and don't forget to weigh in on this week's poll on the homepage. It's a bound to start some debate!  

  • Lauren617
    2011 Year-in-Review
    Entry posted December 30, 2011 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    2011 Year-in-Review
    Entry:

    This was a fantastic year for commonground. We grew in both our membership numbers and activity and we thank all of your for your contributions! I get a little emotional when I think about how far we’ve come as a community—especially when I look back to 2007 when a few of us at EDR were huddled around a table discussing the crazy idea of  building a social networking site for our niche industry. We all wanted it to be a success, but there were always those nagging doubts about whether the industry was “ready” for it, or if professionals in our very competitive space would be open to helping fellow professionals. Almost five years later, commonground has become an indispensable resource to many and has made critical information accessible to anyone who is willing to ask (or in many cases, search). I believe that the collegial spirit within our community has improved communication and cooperation in the industry as a whole, and for that, we should all be very proud!

    As we head into 2012, here are the most-read discussions and blogs of the year.   
    (Note: “most-read” is defined as  the posts with the most logged-in member views.)

    More:

    Member discussions:

    1. The 4,000 Phase II posted by Tom Speight
    2. Agricultural property Phase Is posted by Scott
    3. EPA OIG Criticizes AAI Reports for Brownfield Grants posted by Larry Schnapf
    4. Hydrologically upgradient and downgradient posted by Kolaventi
    5. Continued Viability of Phase I ESA posted by readude

    Blogs:

    1. The $5,000 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment by Joe Derhake
    2. Social Media Lurkers- Are they the Most Important Community Members? and Social Media Lurkers Part 2 By Mark Wallace
    3. Off-site Recognized Environmental Conditions by Joe Derhake
    4. Get noticed by using Resume Keywords & The Importance of Being Involved in Industry Organizations by Lauren617
    5. De minimus conditions and HRECS: Clarification Coming by Tina Huff
     
    Did the community overlook something important? What do you see as the biggest trends and happening of 2011? 
     
    Oh, and it wouldn't be a year-end post without a teaser for 2012... We've got some exciting new things planned, including a face lift for the site, new features and functionality and improved organziation and navigation to help you get to the information you care most about more quickly. We'd love to know what improvements would help you! Please feel free to comment below. 
     
     
    Thanks again and a very Happy New Year to all of our members!! 
  • Lauren617
    Does the popularity contest ever end?25.0
    Entry last edited January 19, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    Does the popularity contest ever end?
    Entry:

    I don’t want to bring back any teenage angst or social anxiety issues that you spent years working out with your therapist, but as it turns out, no, the popularity contest never ends. Especially in a down economy, doing your job well isn’t always enough. Yep, I’m going to do it: you can’t just be good enough and smart enough, your clients, boss and coworkers have to like you, too. Luckily, though, your highschool-self can rest assured that the popularity contest has changed a bit and you will no longer be judged based on the merrits of designer jeans or the car you drive into the senior parking lot.

    enchantmentLast month I attended an event that featured Guy Kawasaki as a keynote speaker. I’ve heard Guy talk before but I was especially enamored by him after this event. He was there to talk about Enchantment, his new book which has been a best seller since it came out in March and is listed as one of Amazon’s best books of 2011. There is no rocket science to this book or Guy’s message, but both are incredibly powerful.  Here’s the once sentence summary: by enchanting people, you not only get them to do what you want them to do, you fill them with great delight at the same time.  

    Much of the book deals with enchanting people with your company and products, and I encourage you to read it for those reasons. For this quick post, though, I am going to focus on some tips he gives for being a more likable, enchanting person.

    • Smile. Not a fake smile, but a real smile that makes your eyes squint a bit is the first step in winning people over, even in business.
    • Default to “Yes”. When your boss asks you to do something when you’re busy, the natural thing to do is to explain why you cannot help. You probably have a totally legitimate reason and saying yes may even be irresponsible. However if you do this too often, you risk being labeled as an anti-team player. Here’s an alternative-  Boss: Can you help me with Project A? You: Yes, I can. Let me see my schedule. It looks like I can help with Project A, but I’ll have to let Clients B and C know that the work I’m doing for them will be a day or two late. Is that ok? Chances are your boss will probably find a solution that works for clients A, B and C and you won’t have to work till 11pm.
    • Find something to agree on. From time to time, you’ll probably have to work with someone you really do not like. This is challenging, but finding commonalities can help, even if it is something small and unrelated to work. Some examples:  your kids play soccer, you both grew up in the south, or you like the same TV show. This will humanize the person and make their flaws less central to how you perceive them.
    • Allow people to pay you back. Especially in professional services and consulting, we always want to do, do, do for our clients.  If the relationship is always a one-way street, the other person may feel indebted to you and guilty. This is straining. The same is true of your boss and your colleagues. If you try to do everything and never take help, you may get labeled as an over achiever or know-it-all; which are equally bad labels today as they were in high school. Allowing people to reciprocate a favor will help build your relationship.
    • Deliver bad news early. The project is over budget, late, or a complete flop. These are painful things to admit and you will be tempted to sweep news like this under the rug. But being upfront with your client or boss is much less bad than trying to cover things up, failing, and then having to admit to covering it up in addition to delivering bad news. You can often work out a solution by owning up to mistakes as soon as they’ve happened.
    • Suck it up. No matter what your role is at your company, being willing to do the dirty work shows you understand what your employees and colleagues are going through and are committed to the common mission.  This also extends to asking people to do things for you. If you wouldn’t miss Thanksgiving to complete a project, don’t ask your employees to.

    Easy, right? Yes. But the easiest things to do are the easiest to forget. How important do you think likability is to business success? What small things have you done to enchant people?

    Oh, and if you need a daily affirmation, Stuart Smalley has one for youSmile It's the Halloween edition. How timely? 

  • Lauren617
    September means it's time to hit the books!
    Entry posted September 7, 2011 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    September means it's time to hit the books!
    Entry:

    September is probably my favorite month of the year. Despite the waning daylight, school bus traffic and the thousands of college students who invade my neighborhood there is something about heading back to the office after Labor Day weekend that gives me an extra burst of energy and renewed commitment to my work.  Everyone's returning from vacations, school is starting and there are usually new work initiatives to focus on. The fall is also an ever-popular time of year for conferences, important meetings and training. In that spirit, we have a couple of new training opportunities coming to commonground.

    More:

    We are extremely excited that commonground University will be home to ASTM’s E2600 Online Training! For the last year we’ve hosted the only online version of the ASTM E1527 online course. Thanks to the popularity of that course, we will be offering training on the Standard Guide for Vapor Encroachment Screening on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions, hopefully starting in November. Anthony Buonicore, the taskgroup leader of E2600, will be facilitating this course, so you can be sure you’ll be learning from the best! We expect this to be a 2 week course and there will be lots of case studies and examples involved. I know there are many of you out there looking for training on this somewhat confusing and contentious topic. If you’re interested in taking the course, send us your information and we’ll make sure you are in the know as more details become available. We expect sell outs during the first few sessions. 

    Second, we are launching our free webinar series next month! We plan to have one free event a quarter on the issues that impact our industry the most. We’ll be starting out strong with our first event on October 6th.  Barnes & Thornburg will host this event to help you better understand ASTM E50’s latest standard, E2790 Standard Guide for Identifying and Complying With Continuing Obligations. Tim Haley, an attorney at B&T’s Indianapolis office and also one of the primary writers of the standard, will discuss the basics of the standard and answer questions about how the standard will impact the Phase I ESA market and your business.  This event is limited to 300 people and we already have filled about a third of the seats during pre-registration. If you’re interested, be sure to fill out this form. We’ll keep you posted on the details.  

    What are you studying up on this fall? I’m actually off to training this afternoon with several of my colleagues to learn about new software that I’m quite excited about! 

    Happy fall and happy learning...oh and if you have suggestions for future webinar topics, let me know! 

  • Lauren617
    Building a Strong Community
    Entry last edited August 31, 2011 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    Building a Strong Community
    Entry:

    Whether it be your neighborhood, your kids’ school or you workplace, there are several things we can all do to help build a strong community:

    • Respect other members;
    • Offer support to those who need it;
    • Share resources and knowledge;
    • And have a little bit of fun!
    We made each of these compontents a priority when we first strated commonground. As we matured, it became clear that we needed to step it up a notch. Here's how we are responding.
    More:

    We’re rolling out a mentorship program. Now, all members who are new to the industry have a place where they can connect with some of the brightest, most experienced environmental consultants in the field in a nurturing environment. Our mentors include several of our Executive Committee members as well our commonground University facilitators. In a field that values experience as highly as ours, it is vital that the next generation of professionals benefits from the knowledge of today’s leaders.

    For the first time, commonground has a structured giving program. I am personally very proud of this. By partnering with donorschoose.org, we will be supporting classrooms in high-poverty communities. Our giving is targeted towards improving science curriculums to help build the next generations of professionals as well acting as a lifeline to schools in cities and towns that have been particularly hard-hit by environmental contamination. We are donating $1 for every new member we add until mid-September as well as for every new LinkedIn group member, Twitter follower, and Facebook fan that connects with us. After just a few weeks, we’ve raised enough money to buy headphones for all of the computers at a Binghamton, NY school library. As many of you know, Binghamton has been impacted by VOC plumes stemming from its industrial past for the last decade. Finally, we’re doubling up our giving by sending 2% of all commonground University and Environmental Service Directory revenue to the cause.

    Here is todays’ take-away: when it comes to bolstering a community, it doesn’t take a lot of money or a lot of time. Helping a fellow member with an answer to a question may take you 2 minutes and save them several hours. For less than $200, we can help an entire school full of kids in a needy neighborhood learn next year.

    This blog is well timed, as many of us on the east coast are bracing for Hurricane Irene. I actually ran out this morning and picked up some cat food for my 81 year old neighbor who “adopted” the neighborhood stray last year. It only took me a minute, but was such a big relief to her—and Cato, as she’s been named.

    How else can we bolster our community? We are always looking for new ideas and like the two that we’ve acted on above, the best ideas are usually a community effort!

     

  • Lauren617
    The Importance of Being Involved in Industry Organizations14.0
    Entry last edited January 19, 2012 by Lauren617Elite Contributor in Blogs > Lauren Rosencranz's - Fresh in the Field public
    Title:
    The Importance of Being Involved in Industry Organizations
    Entry:

    While working your “day job” may already be taking up too much of your time, getting involved in industry organizations may be just the thing you need to advance your career. Here are my top five reasons why. 

    More:
    1. Networking: Especially in highly technical fields, getting out from behind your computer or notepad can be a challenge.  But meeting new people and talking big-picture about your industry is crucial to your professional advancement. Joining professional organization in your field gives you a chance to do just that. And best of all, most organizations have local chapters so you may not even have to travel very far to get involved.

    2. Learning to Lead: If it seems like you’re never going to get the management experience you’ve been craving at your company, why not give it a shot on a volunteer basis? Most organizations have boards with chair people, secretaries, treasurers and the like. Pursuing one of these roles will teach you new management skills and give you the confidence to assert yourself as a leader at your company. These titles are also great resume builders if you are looking to fill a void in your existing credentials.

    3. Promoting your Brand: I know that “personal brand” sounds cliché and like something that only Mariah Carey and Kim Kardashian should be worried about, but it really is important to your career too. Your skills, knowledge, hobbies, how your present yourself, the dedication you apply to your work all contribute to your personal brand. Putting yourself in front of your colleagues reminds them of what you stand for and will likely help you land your next job.

    4. Exposure to new ideas: Many companies have strong cultures that promote specific ideas and ideals. While we all see ourselves as free-thinkers, it is amazing how company culture can rub off on us.  This is especially true for new professionals or those of us who have been with the same company for many years. Talking with professionals who have different points-of-view than yours and listening to new methods of doing things can help expand your mind and improve on tasks you do every day. Plus, you’re more likely to stay ahead of “the next big thing”.
    5. Expanding your influence: Take knowledge and ideas from your niche and bring them to adjacent industries. Help people think about things in new ways.  While you may be just one of hundreds of people who understands a certain concept in your niche, there are plenty of groups that would find these ideas ground breaking and impactful. Educating others about what you do is a great way to feel passion about something you may have been doing for many years. Rediscovering that feeling can bring a spark to your career.

     So get out there! Influence others, learn new things, and have fun.

    What groups do you find most valuable to expanding your reach and knowledge?