Day: December 16, 2011

Eco-Hero Awards

Are you a Young Eco-Hero? Do you know a Young Eco-Hero?
Want the world to know what you’ve done?

The application deadline is now January, 15 2012.

Have you been working to preserve the world around you? Have you been teaching others how to protect the environment? Have you been doing an environmental research project? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are a Young Eco-Hero. All Eco-Heroes serve as role models, showing others that each individual is important and can make a difference.

Action For Nature is proud to honor the work of young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who have done creative environmental projects. The winners of AFN’s International Young Eco-Hero Awards program receive a cash prize and a special certificate, as well as public recognition on our Web site and elsewhere.

Our judges are experts in environmental science, biology and environmental health. They select our Young Eco-Heroes from applicants from around the world. They are looking for young people to follow in their footsteps.

We are proud of all of our winners, and of all the applicants from around the world.

This is a great chance for you to share your environmental activism and creative work. We look forward to again supporting young people from all around the world working to save our planet. Please read the guidelines to see if you are eligible to apply to become a Young Eco-Hero. If you or someone you know is eligible fill out the 2012 Eco-Hero Awards Application.

Webinar: 2012 grant opportunities through Sustain Our Great Lakes

Please join us for a webinar on January 11, 2012 to learn about the 2012 grant funding opportunities to be offered through Sustain Our Great Lakes

On January 3, 2012, Sustain Our Great Lakes will invite applications for competitive funding through its Stewardship Grants Program and its Community Grants Program.  The Requests for Proposals will be available on January 3 at  Funding priority for both programs will be given to on-the-ground restoration projects that improve the quality and connectivity of stream, wetland and coastal habitats in the Great Lakes basin.  Pre-proposals will be due on February 15, 2012.  

Webinar participants will learn about funding priorities and the application process, see examples of past projects, receive tips for submitting competitive proposals, and have the opportunity to ask questions.  The webinar will begin at 11 AM Eastern Time/10 AM Central Time and last for approximately 1 hour.

Webinar participants can register at:

Please contact Todd Hogrefe, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, at 612-564-7286 or for more information.

Battery runs on paper, releases water as byproduct

Read the full story at Smart Planet.

Our batteries are full of toxic chemicals and then pollute our environment when we trash them. Clearly, they can be improved.

That’s why a new battery demonstrated by Sony at the Eco-Products conference in Tokyo is so exciting: It runs on shredded paper or cardboard and it’s only “waste” product is water.

Coca-Cola taps biotech firms to scale PlantBottle production

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Beverage giant The Coca-Cola Co. has tapped three biotechnology companies to aid with the commercialization of its plant-based packaging, PlantBottle.

The deals with Virent, Gevo and Avantium were made after Coca-Cola studied the approaches of more than 30 different potential partners, said Rick Frazier, vice president of commercial product supply, Coca-Cola. The new multi-million-dollar relationships center on exploiting the full potential of PlantBottle, a packaging approach that currently replaces up to 30 percent of the PET in bottles with plant-based materials. The goal is to extend PlantBottle so that 100 percent of the materials are plant-based, Frazier said.

A New Genre of Tires: Call ‘em “Sweet” and “Green”

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Motorists may be driving on the world’s first “green” tires within the next few years, as partnerships between tire companies and biotechnology firms make it possible to produce key raw materials for tires from sugar rather than petroleum or rubber trees. Those new bio-based tires — already available as prototypes— are the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Nitrogen from Humans Pollutes Remote Lakes for More than a Century

Read the full story from the University of Washington.

Nitrogen derived from human activities has polluted lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere for more than a century and the fingerprint of these changes is evident even in remote lakes located thousands of miles from the nearest city, industrial area or farm.

Full citation to the research article: Gordon W. Holtgrieve, Daniel E. Schindler, William O. Hobbs, Peter R. Leavitt, Eric J. Ward, Lynda Bunting, Guangjie Chen, Bruce P. Finney, Irene Gregory-Eaves, Sofia Holmgren, Mark J. Lisac, Peter J. Lisi, Koren Nydick, Lauren A. Rogers, Jasmine E. Saros, Daniel T. Selbie, Mark D. Shapley, Patrick B. Walsh, Alexander P. Wolfe (2011). ” A Coherent Signature of Anthropogenic Nitrogen Deposition to Remote Watersheds of the Northern Hemisphere.” Science 334(6062), 1545-1548. DOI: 10.1126/science.1212267.

Abstract: Humans have more than doubled the amount of reactive nitrogen (Nr) added to the biosphere, yet most of what is known about its accumulation and ecological effects is derived from studies of heavily populated regions. Nitrogen (N) stable isotope ratios (15N:14N) in dated sediments from 25 remote Northern Hemisphere lakes show a coherent signal of an isotopically distinct source of N to ecosystems beginning in 1895 ± 10 years (±1 standard deviation). Initial shifts in N isotope composition recorded in lake sediments coincide with anthropogenic CO2 emissions but accelerate with widespread industrial Nr production during the past half century. Although current atmospheric Nr deposition rates in remote regions are relatively low, anthropogenic N has probably influenced watershed N budgets across the Northern Hemisphere for over a century.

Acid Rain Poses a Previously Unrecognized Threat to Great Lakes Sugar Maples

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

The number of sugar maples in Upper Great Lakes forests is likely to decline in coming decades, according to University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues, due to a previously unrecognized threat from a familiar enemy: acid rain.

Full citation for the research article: Patterson, S. L., Zak, D. R., Burton, A. J., Talhelm, A. F. and Pregitzer, K. S. (2011), Simulated N deposition negatively impacts sugar maple regeneration in a northern hardwood ecosystem. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2011.02090.x.


1. During the next century, atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition is projected to more than double, potentially leading to a decline in plant diversity as well as a change in plant community composition and structure.

2.  In a decade-long field experiment, simulated atmospheric N deposition has slowed litter decay, resulting in an accumulation of forest floor (i.e. Oi & Oe horizons). We reasoned that a greater forest floor mass under simulated N deposition would impose a physical barrier to sugar maple Acer saccharum seedling establishment, thereby reducing seedling populations of an ecologically and economically important tree species.

3.  To test this idea, we first quantified sugar maple seedling abundance in replicate northern hardwood forest stands receiving ambient atmospheric N (7–12 kg N ha−1 year−1) and experimental atmospheric N deposition, simulating future amounts in eastern North America (ambient plus 30 kg NO3 N ha−1 year−1). Then, we experimentally manipulated forest floor mass under ambient and simulated N deposition treatments. Finally, we transplanted first-year established seedlings into areas receiving ambient and simulated N deposition and quantified their mortality after 1 year.

4.  First-year seedling abundance did not differ under ambient and simulated N deposition; however, there were greater abundances of second- and third-to-fifth-year seedlings under ambient N deposition (P < 0·001). In all cases, experimental manipulation to increase forest floor mass, equivalent to that under simulated N deposition, resulted in significantly (= 0·001) fewer established individuals, regardless of whether the greater forest floor mass occurred under ambient or simulated N deposition. Finally, fewer 1-year-old transplanted seedlings survived when grown under simulated N, albeit that result was not statistically significant.

5.Synthesis and applications. The slowing of decay and the accumulation of forest floor under anthropogenic N deposition can negatively impact seedling survival and potentially alter stand development and structural diversity. As atmospheric N deposition increases globally, it becomes necessary to understand the mechanisms that lead to population changes for ecologically important tree species. The responses we document should be considered in simulations of future of forest’dynamics, as atmospheric N deposition continues to increase, specifically when sugar maple life-history traits are included to simulate regeneration, structural diversity and stand development.

Two useful guides from Sustainable Industries

Sustainable Industries has published two very useful guides. The first, the Sustainable Energy Guide, aims to address energy use in facilities and transportation. Topics include establishing a baseline, reducing energy use, and using renewables and offsets.

The second, the 2011 Green Office Guide, is an annual publication which focuses on the basics. Learn strategies for creating a Green Team, a Sustainability Plan, and tools for tracking your progress. Find out how to audit your current office operations, set goals and measure success. Also learn how “green leases” can help your company save money. Finally, ensure your purchasing decisions have a minimal impact on the environment and human health, while promoting social justice.

Both of these resources are included in the Green Libraries, Green Building, and Green Business LibGuides I developed earlier this fall.

Grow Responsibly

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

Instead of benchmarking sustainability initiatives against the competition, they [companies] need to measure progress against what is possible. Companies need to reframe the discussion more broadly around opportunity, innovation, and growth. Why make sustainability only about “doing good?” Why not make sustainability about innovation? And why stop there? Why not tackle the single-largest environmental concern today – land use?

DOE Technical Assistance Program December Webcasts Schedule

DOE’s Technical Assistance Program (TAP) will be presenting two webcasts in December focusing on the Portfolio Manager Initiative, which helps communities maximize the benefits of benchmarking energy use.

Portfolio Manager webcasts are an integral part of the Portfolio Manager Initiative, which has supported benchmarking efforts for approximately 100 communities that received funding through DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. December is the final month of the Initiative. The Portfolio Manager Initiative webcasts are open to participants from all communities.

You can find the complete webcast schedule for this month below. For the complete Technical Assistance Program webcast archive, including past Portfolio Manager Initiative webcasts, please visit the Solution Center webcasts page.

Title: Strategies for Successful Energy Management
Date: Monday, December 19, 2011
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST
Description: This webcast will discuss ways to improve the energy performance of your buildings, covering topics including best practices in operations and maintenance, cost-effective changes to equipment and systems, and effective energy management team contributions, roles and responsibilities to optimize energy efficiency. Participants will gain knowledge of energy conservation strategies, get tips to improve communication with building occupants, and will learn to recognize the wide variety of energy-efficiency opportunities that are available at their properties. Representatives from Manchester, New Hampshire, will present on their benchmarking and energy management experience.

Title:Advanced Topics for the Portfolio Manager Initiative: Energy Disclosure Policy Implementation
Date: Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Time: 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. EST
Description: This webinar session will present emerging challenges and strategies for implementation of commercial rating and disclosure policies. Presenters will discuss strategies to leverage and build partnerships with existing associations and networks to educate building owners. The webinar will also cover implementation steps such as engaging with utilities to proactively address data access problems for historic energy consumption data and ways to make public and transactional disclosure mechanisms perform well. Representatives from the Cities of New York and San Francisco will present their benchmarking policy experience. The City of New York’s speaker will discuss what lead to successful implementation of the benchmarking and disclosure requirements in PlaNYC’s Greener Greater Buildings Plan. The City of San Francisco’s speaker will present on how they built strong stakeholder support for the Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance, passed in February 2011.