Day: March 20, 2013

With a Big If, Science Panel Finds Deep Cuts Possible in Auto Emissions and Oil Use

Read the full story in the New York Times.

A panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences has concluded that deep cuts in oil use and emissions of greenhouse gases from cars and light trucks are possible in the United States by 2050, but only with a mix of diverse and intensified research and policies far stronger than those pursued so far by the Obama administration.

Reusable Textiles Greener Than Disposables

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Reusable shop towels, food service napkins and healthcare isolation gowns have a lower impact on the environment and performed better than disposal products in lifecycle assessments, according to research presented at TRSA’s Leadership & Legislative Conference.

The “cradle to grave” performance of the reusable items was superior to disposals in head-to-head comparisons involving acidification, eutrophication, ozone depletion, fossil fuel depletion and smog creation, according to the life cycle study conducted by engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent.

Schools Cite Health as a Top Reason for Going Green

Read the full story in GreenSource.

The connection between sustainable school buildings and student performance can be difficult to quantify—but the idea that children learn more readily when they can see, hear, and breathe clearly isn’t exactly controversial. This year, a full 89 percent of K–12 school respondents in a recent market survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction listed enhanced health and well-being among the most important reasons to build, retrofit, and operate greener schools. That number is up from 61 percent in 2007 and puts health nearly on par with operational cost savings among primary- and secondary-school officials.

Say Yes to Green Cleaning—as Long as It Is Effective Cleaning

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Green cleaning has been one of the most significant developments to hit the professional cleaning industry in years. However, even longtime advocates of environmentally responsible cleaning products and systems acknowledge that all cleaning — whether green or not — must be effective in order to meet the ultimate goal of protecting human health.

Why Healthcare Leaders Cannot Afford to Ignore “Greening” Anymore

Read the full story in Becker’s Hospital Review.

Healthcare organizations utilize 11 percent of all U.S. energy, and hospitals and health systems spend roughly $8 billion every year on energy. In addition, energy costs have risen 56 percent between 2003 and 2008, according to the Healthier Hospitals Initiative. Energy is often considered to be low-hanging fruit within a hospital’s financial plan, but healthcare leaders can longer afford to ignore “greening” their facilities.

Cool strategies for cooling buildings

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory credit ancient architecture and developing world cooling strategies for their outside-the-box thinking that led to an air cooler that just might revolutionize air conditioning. NREL’s Desiccant Enhanced Evaporative, or DEVAP, system won an R&D 100 Award this year.

The State of Green Business: Sustainability goes app crazy

Read the full story from GreenBiz.

As data increasingly spews from everything — buildings, vehicles, transit systems, cash registers and potentially every light fixture, switch, plug and machine — there’s a growing opportunity to capture it and make it useful for consumers and professionals. Some of it is making its way into apps.

App, of course, is short for “application software.” As anyone with a smartphone, tablet or PC knows, apps come in a vast assortment of flavors: utilities, games, social networking, shopping, productivity, communications, remote monitoring and more. Lots more.

The growth of apps mirrors some of sustainability’s other technology trends — the sharing economy, the smart grid, machine-to-machine communications. All are about data. Big Data: unprecedented and unfathomable volumes of 1s and 0s traversing our world, informing our (and our machines’) decisions about how to achieve the most with the least while addressing everyone’s needs. Energy, water, waste, toxics, carbon — the future of all of these things is linked in large part to how, and how well, we can measure, track, monitor and optimize their flows. And that’s all about data, and the apps that make it useful.

In a world where the perception of clean technology is that it largely “failed” — witness the bankrupt startups and lost investments and (in the U.S., at least) the toxic political conversation that emerged about clean tech during 2012 — apps may be its saving grace. Many of the most promising startups in clean tech focus on devices and apps that enable individuals, households, businesses and cities to use data to improve their energy and environmental footprint.

Why architects must lead on sustainable design

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainability leader Hunter Lovins once called the building industry “dynamically conservative — it works hard to stay in the same place.”

But old habits cannot fully address new challenges. According to, fossil fuel corporations currently have in their reserves five times the amount of carbon that, if burned too quickly, may raise atmospheric temperatures to a catastrophic level where Hurricane Sandy-scale storms could become the norm. Quicker, deeper progress is imperative.

Architecture is an essential arena for sustainable innovation. Buildings represent about half the annual energy and emissions in the U.S. and three-quarters of its electricity. With the built environment growing — the U.S. building stock increases by about 3 billion square feet every year — architects have a historic opportunity to transform its impact for the better.

Cleaning Up: How One Utah School is Greening It’s Cleaning

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

This spring, the National Building Museum is debuting the first-ever museum exhibition dedicated to the greening of American schools. Featuring over 40 exemplary projects from new construction to rehabs to modular classrooms, the exhibition surveys the extraordinary breadth of green school design in the United States through sample building materials, photographs, video, and green products. It explores the multiple facets of green schools, from their architectural form and physical systems, to the impact the buildings have on the health and well-being of the children and adults who occupy them. Green Schools remains on view through January 5, 2014. Plan your visit at In connection with the Green Schools exhibition, National Building Museum curator Sarah Leavitt is interviewing the individuals – from staff, to teachers, to students – who are making schools greener.

Jeff Hawkins is the director of custodial services for the Provo City School District in Provo, Utah. He spoke with Green Schools co-curator Sarah Leavitt about his award-winning work at Dixon Middle School for which he and his team recently received the Best Cleaning Industry Environmental Program Award.

Kavita Shukla keeps produce fresh with Fenugreen FreshPaper

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Ask a gardener what to grow to get the biggest bang for your gardening buck, and you’ll probably be told to grow herbs. They cost very little to grow but can be expensive at the store. The $2.99 bunch of oregano that’s bought for two teaspoons of the fresh herb needed in a recipe will often go bad before you need to use it again.
Kavita Shukla, inventor of Fenugreen FreshPaper, has created a way to keep that oregano, as well as many other fruits and vegetables, fresh two to four times longer with a totally organic product.
FreshPaper is a 5 x 5 inch sheet of paper infused with organic spices. When the paper is near fresh fruits and vegetables, it inhibits bacterial and fungal growth, preserving produce and limiting food waste.