Smith+Gardner Blog

Joan Smyth

Closed Landfill Becomes International Dark Sky Park


A closed landfill and home of Energy Xchange, which uses landfill gas for greenhouses and artist’s studios, now has a new designation.  The site was recently named the Blue Ridge Observatory and Star Park, which is the first dark sky park certified by the International Dark Sky Association in the Southeastern U.S.  Future plans for the site, located 6 miles west of Spruce Pine, North Carolina,  include an observatory with a 34-inch telescope which will be open to the public.  More information can be found at:


photo courtesy of Maryland Community College


Joan Smyth

Renewable Energy in Georgia

S+G would like to congratulate our client Phoenix Solar on completion of the largest continuous solar plant East of the Mississippi. The construction video below is quite impressive.



Joan Smyth

Landfill Gas In the News

Matt Lamb

Revisions to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule Increase Reporting Requirements for Landfills

EPA recently made amendments to 40 CFR Part 98, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. These changes may have major implications on emissions calculations and reporting across all sectors, including municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills (Subpart HH) and industrial landfills (Subpart TT). A pre-publication copy of the amendments was made public on November 15, 2013, and may be downloaded from the following link, along with fact sheets and additional information:

This final rule is effective on January 1, 2014.

The most significant change impacts the likelihood of pollutant emissions to exceed reporting thresholds. A total of 23 global warming potential (GWP) values (100-year time horizon) have been revised in Table A-1 to Subpart A of the Rule. These values are used to convert calculated GHG emissions to carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) values, which are then compared to the reporting threshold of 25,000 CO2e. The most notable change affecting Subparts HH and TT is to the GWP for methane, which is increased from 21 to 25. The impact is felt by landfills that were previously below the reporting threshold.  Under the old GWP of 21, landfills that generated 1,190 metric tonnes of methane would not be required to report.  Now, with the new methane GWP of 25, landfills generating 1,000 metric tonnes of methane would be subject to the reporting rule.

In response to comments, landfills and other facilities that were beneath the reporting threshold for reporting year 2012 but now exceed the reporting threshold due only to the increase in GWP are not required to report 2013 emissions. For landfills specifically, the following conditions are in place for this exemption to apply:

1. No waste was accepted on or after January 1, 2013;
2. The landfill generated less than 1,190 tonnes of methane in 2013; and
3. The landfill was not required to report in any reporting year prior to 2013.

Landfills not meeting the above exemption that are newly subject to reporting as a result of the changes to GWP values are required to begin collecting data on January 1, 2014 for the 2014 reporting year. These reporters are required to submit their first reports, covering the 2014 reporting year, by March 31, 2015.

Additional changes are made to several factors used in calculating GHG emissions, including Degradable Organic Carbon (DOC) and density of methane. Data collection frequency requirements have also been relaxed from weekly to monthly for methane and other parameters.

For additional information, please feel free to contact me at or at (919) 828-0577.


Joan Smyth

Smith Gardner Gives Back to the Community

On October 19th, Smith Gardner participated in our first Creative Food Drive which supports the Food Bank for Central and Eastern North Carolina and Housing for New Hope.  During this event a total of 13,366 pounds of food was used in the sculptures, and from this 11,256 meals can be provided to our community.  The Creative part of the food drive is that each team must build something with the food that is donated.  See how creative Smith Gardner got:

building 13


Our construction included the Bodie Island Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge, the ocean, a boat and the Wright Flyer zooming past the lighthouse!  Under the leadership of Madeline German, P.G., our team raised almost 1000 food items.  We had several practice sessions to refine our building technique since the time limit for building was 90 minutes.  For our effort we won the People’s Choice Award!



Stacey Smith

Impacts of Oil and Gas Industry in North Carolina Evaluated by Funding Study Group

In an effort to identify potential sources of funding to address impacts from anticipated oil and gas exploration and recovery, the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) issued the final report of the Funding Levels and Potential Funding Sources Study Group.  The study, sanctioned under Section 2.(j) of Session Law 2012-143 was prepared by the MEC in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the DOT, the NC League of Municipalities, and the NC Association of County Commissioners.

Impacts addressed in the report include repair of roads damaged by heavy truck and equipment; and remediation and reclamation of drilling sites abandoned by responsible parties, among other issues as determined by the MEC.  Costs borne by DENR and DOT to administer environmental and overweight vehicle permits are presented.  Costs to remediate environmental impacts (e.g., groundwater and surface water) are not included in this study.  Evaluated cost recovery and financial assurance mechanisms include permit and impact fees charged to the permittee/project owner, taxes, and bonds.  State and local costs projected in this report are limited to the 14 North Carolina counties located in the Triassic Basin.

Excise and severance taxes and bonding measures implemented by other States with active oil and gas extraction industries were considered, as were industry costs for activities such as well abandonment.  Bonding is recommended for activities such as geophysical exploration, well plugging/abandonment, and site reclamation (i.e., haul roads, pits, pads, and stockpiles).

Regarding damages to water supply, personal property, and marketable surface resources (e.g., timber, cropland), the report findings are limited to the study group determination that “some level of protection for affected land owners… shall be addressed in lease negotiations.”

The report, along with legislative proposals, is due for submittal to the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy and the Environmental Review Commission by October 1, 2013.  The report and commission activities can be viewed at the following web address:


Stacey Smith

Proposed Changes to North Carolina Toxic Air Pollutant Rules

A hearing is scheduled for September 19, 2013 at 3:00pm to discuss proposed changes to North Carolina air toxics contained in Session Law 2012-91, signed into law June 28, 2012.  Proposed changes include exemption from state air toxics rules for major sources of air pollution subject to federal Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) or area sources subject to General Achievable Control Technology (GACT) rules.  For instance, MSW landfills subject to 40 CFR Part 63 Subparts AAAA or ZZZZ, or Part 60 Subpart JJJJ may not be required to determine ambient air levels of toxic pollutants from landfill or flare emissions.

Additional proposed changes include:

Exemption of certain natural gas and propane fired combustion sources and certain emergency generators;

  • Clarification of the term “actual rate of emissions”;
  • Removal of the term “unadulterated wood”;
  • Repeal of air toxics rules for wastewater treatment systems at pulp and paper mills; and
  • Relaxation of toxic emission rates requiring a permit and acceptable ambient air levels (AAL) for arsenic and asbestos.

The hearing will be held in the Training Room (Room 1210) in the Green Square office building, 217 West Jones St., Raleigh.

More information may on the public hearing may be downloaded here.


Stacey Smith

Detailed Cost Estimates for PACA Financial Assurance Put On Hold

It has been announced by NCDENR that the policy of requiring a detailed cost estimate with the Potential Assessment and Corrective Action (PACA) Financial Assurance  of $2M has been put on hold for FY 2013 – 14.  At this time, landfills will still be required to have $2M in PACA financial assurance; however, a detailed cost summary will not be required.  During this fiscal year, the Division of Waste Management will be evaluating various assumptions, components and other aspects PACA to develop acceptable demonstration methods and guidance for the regulated community.

Please e-mail Joan Smyth at for more information.


Stacey Smith

S+G Becomes Charter Member of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure

Smith Gardner, Inc. (S+G) is pleased to announce it has become a charter member of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), whose goal it is to change the way infrastructure is conceived of, designed, constructed and operated to better meet the challenges of our resource-constrained world. Taking a more visible stance regarding sustainability is a natural step for the firm, which has for the past decade been instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing consulting services for numerous landfill-gas-to-energy and landfill gas collection projects throughout the southeastern United States. Charter membership in ISI is a milestone indicating the completion of many behind the scenes moves to equip the firm to incorporate sustainability principles into its core services and to add new sustainability-driven services, such as expanded composting consulting services and enabling owners to achieve project recognition through the Envision rating system, as explained later in this article.

Sustainability is not a separate service line for S+G, it is the pathway to providing better value to our clients through expanding the conceptual space within which we provide our core services. We will be able to achieve greater value over the life of a project or facility by applying longer planning horizons and multi-disciplinary approaches. Our clients may not even realize that innovative solutions to their problems have grown out of the multidisciplinary studies our professionals engage in.

The firm’s involvement with ISI is spearheaded by Thomas Maier, who has earned the Envision™ sustainability professional (ENV SP) credential recognizing his demonstrated ability to apply sustainability principles to infrastructure projects, and to use the recently debuted Envision™ sustainable infrastructure rating system. Mr. Maier was also a member of the first graduating class of ISI Verifiers who are qualified to rate projects on the basis of documentation submitted by the design team. The Envision™ rating system raises the bar on infrastructure performance by recognizing efforts that restore ecosystems as well as evaluating infrastructure throughout its full lifecycle from planning through decommissioning. Through his work with the Economics Committee of ISI, Mr. Maier is working with economists and engineers to develop an enhancement to the Envision™ rating system that enables the monetary equivalent of environmental and cultural benefits to be rationally quantified, thus providing an economic driver for projects to achieve higher levels of sustainable performance. Mr. Maier has also earned the designation of LEED AP BD+C from the Green Building Certification Institute, recognizing his proficiency in applying the LEED rating system to building design and construction.

Jorge Montezuma is leading the firm’s expanding composting services line, which includes consulting and design services for food waste collection and composting, vermicomposting, and agricultural byproduct composting. Mr. Montezuma has recently been elected the Secretary of the North Carolina Composting Council.

Smith Gardner, Inc. is pleased to offer sustainability-driven services to our current and future clients. Please contact Tom (, Jorge ( or any of our other professionals to discuss how we can provide solutions for your waste management needs.


Stacey Smith

10-Year Landfill Permit Rule Comments Due

On January 2, 2013, the North Carolina Register published proposed rule changes to 15 NCAC 13B.0206, Option to apply for issuance of 10-year permit for sanitary landfill or transfer station (NC Register Volume 27, Issue 13, Page 1272).  The proposed changes provide an option of extending the permitting terms for the design, construction, and operating phase of a sanitary landfill from five years to ten years.  However, the ten year permit holder will be subject to a five year design phase review.  The proposed rule change is as follows:

(a) An applicant for a sanitary landfill or transfer station permit subject to Section .0400, .0500 or .1600 of these Rules may apply for a permit for a design, construction and operation phase of five years or a design, construction and operation phase of ten years. A permit for a ten-year phase of construction and operation of a sanitary landfill shall meet the five-year phase requirements contained in Section .0500 and .1600, applied in two five-year increments.

(b) A permit issued for a designed phase of ten years shall be subject to review within five years of the issuance date, as provided in Rule .0201(g). Permit modifications issued for a ten-year phase of construction or operation of a sanitary landfill or transfer station shall be made in accordance with rules in effect at the time of review and include an updated operations plan for the facility, revisions to the closure and post-closure plans and costs, and updates to the environmental monitoring plans.

As stated in the published rules, “the Division of Waste Management seeks to change rules related to the duration of sanitary landfill or transfer station permits to comply with recent changes in state law. The current rule and statutory requirements are based on five-year permit durations. The proposed rule change is necessary to comply with new state laws and is in the public interest because it provides the regulated community with opportunities for cost savings and greater permit length flexibility.”

This proposed rule was one of the regulatory reform recommendations developed during the 2012 short session that focused on reducing the permitting burden on regulated entities.   Furthermore, Senate Bill 810-Regulatory Reform Act of 2012 (S.L. 2012-187) directed the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to track the processing time for permits issued by the One-Stop, Express Permit, and Certification Review programs.  In addition to evaluating these permitting processes, DENR must complete a comprehensive review of  each of their permit, license, and approval programs; identify which program should be subject to a similar permit process tracking system; and report their findings from this review to the Environmental Review Commission before January 15, 2013.

Parties interested in submitting written objections to the agency regarding the proposed changes should contact:


Ellen Lorscheider

DENR-Division of Waste Management

Solid Waste Section

1646 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-1646


The comment period ends on March 4, 2013.