Day: January 10, 2012

The Case of the Missing Gas Mileage

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Contrary to common perception, the major automakers have produced large increases in fuel efficiency through better technology in recent decades. There’s just one catch: All those advances have barely increased the mileage per gallon that autos actually achieve on the road.

Sound perplexing? This situation is the result of a trend newly quantified by MIT economist Christopher Knittel: Because automobiles are bigger and more powerful than they were three decades ago, major innovations in fuel efficiency have only produced minor gains in gas mileage.

Delivering Energy Efficiency to Middle Income Single Family Households

Download the document from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The question posed in this report is: How can programs motivate middle income single family households to seek out more comprehensive energy upgrades, and empower them to do so? Research methods included interviews with more than 35 program administrators, policymakers, researchers, and other experts; case studies of programs, based on interviews with staff and a review of program materials and data; and analysis of relevant data sources and existing research on demographics, the financial status of Americans, and the characteristics of middle income American households.

Upper Mississippi River Essay Contest

Prairie Rivers Network and 1 Mississippi River are hosting an essay contest inspired by the Upper Mississippi River.  For details visit Please note that contestants must be current residents of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, or Wisconsin and at least 18 years old.

YouTube for Schools

Google recently announced YouTube for Schools, which gives you a way to access educational videos from inside your school network. YouTube for Schools gives schools the ability to access a broad set of educational videos on YouTube EDU and to select the specific videos that are accessible from within your school network.

See also YouTube’s Teachers Channel, which includes playlists of videos that are aligned with common core educational standards.

Gasification system turns coffee processing waste to energy

Read the full story at EcoSeed.

The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center is developing a gasification power system to produce energy from coffee-processing plant waste.

Piloting at the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters with energy solutions company Wynntryst L.L.C. in Vermont, the center’s process uses waste stream – which includes coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth or burlap and plastic cups – to produce biogas.

UW-Waukesha Undergoing Energy Audit

Read the full story from the University of Wisconsin Waukesha.

In an effort to make the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha more energy efficient, an in-depth energy analysis of all campus facilities is underway by Honeywell. The audit, which began on Nov. 30, will take five to six months to complete, said Mike Riemer, building superintendent.

The purpose of this analysis is to identify opportunities for energy savings and infrastructure improvements in regards to lighting, mechanical, electrical, water, building envelope and other areas. Based upon a preliminary analysis, Honeywell has identified savings opportunities in excess of 20%.

Federal Funding Available for State, Local, and Tribal Governments

CNCS AmeriCorps State and National Indian Tribes Planning Grants – TBD

Application Due: January 18, 2012
Eligible Entities: Federally recognized Indian tribes.
The purpose of planning grants is to support the development of AmeriCorps programs that will engage AmeriCorps members in evidence-based interventions to solve community problems. The Corporation for National and Community Service will target AmeriCorps funding in six focus areas, one of which is Environmental Stewardship. Environmental Stewardship grants will provide direct services that contribute to increased energy and water efficiency, renewable energy use, or improving at-risk ecosystems, and support increased citizen behavioral change leading to increased efficiency, renewable energy use, and ecosystem improvements, particularly for economically disadvantaged households and economically disadvantaged communities.
DOI WaterSMART: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants for FY 2012 – $18 million
Application Due: January 19, 2012
Eligible Entities: States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, or other organizations with water or power delivery authority. Applicants must also be located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands.
The DOI WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Program establishes a framework to provide federal leadership and assistance on the efficient use of water, integrating water and energy policies to support the sustainable use of all natural resources, and coordinating the water conservation activities of various DOI bureaus and offices. DOI invites eligible entities to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with the Bureau of Reclamation on projects that seek to conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, or carry out other activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.
EPA Urban Waters Small Grants – $1.8 to $3.8 million
Application Due: January 23, 2012
Eligible Entities: States, local governments, territories, Indian tribes, and possessions of the United States; public and private universities and colleges; public or private nonprofit institutions; intertribal consortia; and interstate agencies.
The goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants is to fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities. In general, projects should promote a comprehensive understanding of local water quality issues; identify and support activities that address these issues at the local level; engage, educate, and empower communities surrounding the urban water body; and benefit surrounding communities, including those that have been adversely affected by the water pollution issues affecting the urban water body.
For more information, visit:
DOE Smart Grid Data Access Funding Opportunity – $8 million
Application Due: March 1, 2012
Eligible Entities: State and local governments, federally recognized tribes.
The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory is seeking applications aimed at empowering consumers to better manage their electricity use by enabling access to electricity consumption data by customers and their authorized third parties, and providing or supporting the use of third-party tools and software products that use the available data to deliver a value-added service to the customer. Projects under this Funding Opportunity Announcement will be composed of two phases. Under Phase I, applicants will need to demonstrate the capability for electricity customers and or designated third parties to access their usage data and the functionality of their proposed tool or software product to provide this access. Phase II involves adoption of the tools and software products demonstrated in Phase I to an entire service territory, region, or community within the jurisdiction of the applicant or the utility partner of the applicant.
TFN’s Local Sustainability Matching Fund $750,000
Application Due: March 5, 2012
Eligible Entities: Partnerships between sustainability directors and local, place-based foundations. A sustainability director can include any person who leads a multi-department and community-wide urban sustainability initiative from within a local government or an Urban Sustainability Directors Network member from throughout North America.
In partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) has announced the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. TFN is a membership organization that helps grant makers across North America advance strategies to create fair, prosperous, and sustainable regions and communities.
The Matching Fund will provide matching investments from national foundations on a competitive basis to build partnerships between local sustainability directors and local place-based foundations to advance discrete sustainability initiatives. Partnership investments will be between $25,000 and $75,000, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local place-based foundations. The pool will support approximately nine to ten partnership projects in the first year for projects to be carried out over a twelve-month period, in most cases.
An information call for interested applicants will be held on January 24, 2012 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern. To register for the call, visit: For more information about the funding opportunity, visit:
USDA 2012 Hazardous Fuels Woody Biomass Utilization Grant $3 million
Application Due: March 31, 2012
Eligible Entities: State and local governments, federally recognized tribes, businesses, companies, corporations, school districts, communities, non-profit organizations, and special purpose districts.
The U.S. Forest Service requests proposals for wood energy projects that require engineering services. These projects will use woody biomass, such as material removed from forest restoration activities, wildfire hazardous fuel treatments, insect and disease mitigation, and/or forest management due to catastrophic weather events. The woody biomass shall be used in a bioenergy facility that uses commercially proven technologies to produce thermal, electrical, or liquid/gaseous bioenergy. The funds from grant program must be used to further the planning of such facilities by funding the engineering services necessary for final design and cost analysis.

The Results Are In: 2011 Game Day Challenge Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the winners of the 2011 Game Day Challenge, a competition among U.S. colleges and universities with the goal of lowering waste generated at college football games and increasing participation in and awareness of waste reduction programs. As part of the challenge, more than 75 schools across the nation designed a waste reduction plan for one 2011 regular season home football game, measured their results and submitted them to EPA.

“Reducing, reusing, and recycling moves our nation towards an environmentally and economically greener, sustainable tomorrow,” says Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “These schools and fans have taken the lead through the Game Day Challenge, and now they are ready and equipped with tools and resources to continue to reduce waste across all campus activities and beyond.”

The winners of the 2011 Game Day Challenge are:

  • Waste Minimization Champion (Least amount of waste generated per attendee) – Central Connecticut State University
  • Diversion Rate Champion (Highest combined recycling and composting rate) – University of California, Davis
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Champion (Greatest greenhouse gas reductions from diverting waste) – University of Virginia
  • Recycling Champion (Highest recycling rate) – University of Virginia
  • Organics Reduction Champion (Highest organics reduction rate) – Marist College

This past fall, 78 participating colleges and universities including 2.7 million fans diverted more than 500,000 pounds of waste from football games, prevented nearly 810 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to the annual emissions from 159 passenger vehicles.

The participating colleges and universities including the fans took one step further to green the gridiron and help build awareness around the importance of recycling, reducing, and reusing. In 2010, Americans kept 85 million tons of waste out of landfills by recycling and composting, boosting the U.S. recycling rate to 34 percent. Out of the 165 million tons of waste that went into landfills, food scraps made up 20 percent. Food is the single largest waste stream that ends up in landfills. To address food waste, EPA’s Food Waste Challenge under the Sustainable Materials Management program encourages schools to donate surplus and wholesome fresh food from sporting venues and cafeterias, instead of throwing it away.

There are many other opportunities to reduce waste and save energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment. The competition was sponsored by EPA’s WasteWise program, a voluntary program through which organizations eliminate costly municipal solid waste and select industrial wastes, benefiting their bottom line and the environment.

Greening Work Styles: Analysis of Energy Behavior Programs in the Workplace

Download the publication from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

This report focuses on energy behavior programs in the workplace, which aim to reduce building energy use through change in employees’ attitudes and behaviors. The report reviews five energy behavior projects across the U.S. and Canada. Energy savings of the studied energy behavior projects are from 4% (savings from a stand-alone behavior program) to nearly 75% (savings from a comprehensive project in which a behavior program is a component).

The report also identifies four intervention strategies shared by the reviewed energy behavior projects: (1) setting the tone with strong support from upper management and good program branding; (2) building a team consisting of a stakeholder-oriented program committee and peer champions selected from building occupants; (3) employing communication tools including e-mail, Web sites, prompts, posters and public meetings; and (4) deploying key engagement techniques such as feedback, benign peer pressure, competition, rewards, and reference to appropriate social norms.

The report suggests that the energy research community and energy efficiency professionals should work together to develop an improved evaluation framework to better document, study, and evaluate energy behavior programs. The integration of energy behavior programs into relevant building energy efficiency initiatives would help promote the development and deployment of advanced technologies in a more conservation-conscious environment. Moreover, government at every level should consider leading by example by implementing their own energy behavior programs, which would help promote a culture of energy saving in their workplaces and beyond.

State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2009

Download the document from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions vary significantly across States, whether considered on an absolute or per capita basis. The overall size of a State, of course, determines much of the absolute level of a State’s emissions. Available fuels, types of businesses, climate, and population density also play a role in overall and per capita emissions. It should be noted that each State’s energy system reflects circumstances specific to that State. For example, some States are located near abundant hydroelectric supplies, while others contain abundant coal resources. This paper presents a basic analysis of the factors that contribute to a State’s carbon dioxide profile. This analysis neither attempts to assess the effect of State policies on absolute emissions levels or on changes over time, nor does it intend to imply that certain policies would be appropriate for a particular State.

It is also important to recognize that the State-level emissions data presented in this paper count emissions based on the location where fossil fuels are used. To the extent that fuels are used in one State to generate electricity that is consumed in another State, emissions are attributed to the former rather than the latter. An analysis that attributed “responsibility” for emissions with consumption rather than production of electricity, which is beyond the scope of the present paper, would yield different results.