Day: May 20, 2013

Please Participate in an IBI Public Survey to Collect Information on Global Biochar Projects

As part of our ongoing efforts to identify trends and other critical information on worldwide biochar deployment, IBI is launching a public survey to gather data on biochar project activity. We are asking for your participation in this survey to make the data and information gathered as complete as possible. We are conducting this survey to collect data on biochar projects being carried out by universities, non-profits, commercial enterprises, community-based organizations, and other entities. This survey is a follow-up to the 2010 survey on developing country biochar projects that IBI and Cornell University led on behalf of The World Bank.

We will use the data collected in this survey to highlight the worldwide breadth of biochar projects—to look at trends in geography, feedstocks, technology, financing, project stages, and utilization. The data will be shared with the global biochar community in aggregated form that will allow us all to continue to share the benefits of and need for sustainable biochar deployment at all scales in order to enhance the world’s critical soil resource and to mitigate climate change.  We will not release any personal or confidential information or identify specific individuals or organizations in the survey results (other than project website, location, etc.) nor will we share the specifics of financial or economic data connected to any project.

The survey is divided into three (3) short sections of roughly 10 questions each. Section 1 collects contact and basic project information, section 2 collects biochar production and application information, and section 3 collects economic data. This survey should take about 15 – 20 minutes to complete.

Please help us increase information on worldwide biochar activity by participating in this survey by June 3, 2013.

‘Biochar’ company may bring plant to Kane Co.

Read the full story in the Daily Herald.

The burgeoning biochar industry may soon find footing in Kane County as a Michigan-based energy company made an early pitch Thursday to build a local production plant.

Fred Jones of Cogen Designs introduced members of the county board’s energy and environmental committee to the workings of the technology. The idea involves turning municipal waste into biochar, an alternative to coal for fuel purposes. The would-be plant would route municipal waste in trucks to the facility. The plant would charge a tipping fee to receive the waste, just like local landfills.

Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Launches First Interactive, Online Lighting Design Resource for Homes

Read the full story from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has launched the first interactive website to help homeowners, contractors and builders choose the right light bulbs, fixtures and controls to maximize energy savings, calculate lighting costs and achieve lighting effects to meet a wide range of needs in their homes. It also shows how to design safe, healthy lighting for aging adults.

The site, Lighting Patterns for Homes, helps homeowners and others navigate the increasing number of lighting options in today’s marketplace and allows them to see how various options will actually look by viewing photo-realistic illustrations created by 3-D modeling software.

Conn. Passes First-in-Nation Mattress Recycling Law

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Connecticut has passed the nation’s first-ever extended producer responsibility (EPR) bill for mattresses that supporters say will save local governments about $1.3 million and increase recycling opportunities for businesses. The law will require mattress manufacturers to finance and manage a mattress collection and recycling program.

The bill will now go to Gov. Dannel Malloy to sign into law.

New Tool: Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health (MATCH)

The Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health (MATCH) is a publicly accessible, online tool for researchers that offers centralized access to metadata ‐ standardized contextual information ‐ about thousands of government-held datasets related to health, the environment, and climate-science. MATCH is one of a growing number of tools, driven by open data, that are being made available by the Obama Administration as fuel for innovation, ideas, and insights ‐ in this case, at the important intersection of climate and human health.

Facing Climate Change: Stories from the Pacific Northwest

Facing Climate Change is a documentary project that tells the story of global change through local people. This new video series is from the Pacific Northwest, and features stories about oyster farmers confronting ocean acidification, coastal Tribes planning for sea level rise, potato farmers adjusting to reduced snowpack, and plateau Tribes concerned about habitat loss.

New Data Tool Illustrates Global- to Community-Scale Energy Trends

As part of the Energy Data Initiative, the Energy Department, its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Planetary Skin Institute released a new open tool to better visualize energy data and make this information more available and useful for state and local governments, private industry, and other energy researchers. The Free Energy Data platform (FRED) builds on the broader Energy Data Initiative—making energy usage and generation data more transparent, while accelerating the transition to a clean energy future. Open energy data and analytics can play a pivotal role in developing cost-effective, long-term energy solutions that save money and help protect the environment. Based on data from the Energy Information Administration, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Solar Energy Industries Association, FRED offers a common format for diverse inputs and allows users to adjust their focus from global to city-level scales.
FRED also allows users to enter their own data and compare their performance with other jurisdictions and institutions, or track performance over time. Data can also be viewed in graphical formats showing present and past energy demand by fuel and sector; this data can be compared across jurisdictions as well as through flow diagrams that visualize how multiple sectors use different energy sources.

EPA Adaptation Webcast Files Now Available

Presentations, audio recordings, and transcripts of the first two webcasts in EPA’s three-part webcast series on climate change adaptation for state and local governments are now available on EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Webcasts page. The first webcast, held on March 21, 2013, focused on the challenge of achieving community buy-in for adaptation projects. The second webcast, held on April 17, 2013, addressed the challenge of planning for climate change in the face of uncertainty. Files for the third webcast (held on May 1, 2013), which focused on securing funding for adaptation work, will be available soon.

Invasive Species: “Away-Field Advantage” Weaker Than Ecologists Thought

Read the full story from the Smithsonian Institution.

For decades, ecologists have assumed the worst invasive species—such as brown tree snakes and kudzu—have an “away-field advantage.” They succeed because they do better in their new territories than they do at home. A new study led by the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center reveals that this fundamental assumption is not nearly as common as people might think.

The away-field advantage hypothesis hinges on this idea: Successful invaders do better in a new place because the environment is more hospitable to them. They escape their natural enemies, use novel weapons on unsuspecting natives and generally outcompete natives on their own turf by disrupting the balance of nature in their new ecosystems.

“They’ve been presumed to be good citizens at home and bad citizens away,” said ecologist John Parker, lead author of the paper published in the May issue of the journal Ecology. But when researchers investigated it on a large scale, they discovered the assumption was not true for all, or even most, of the species they looked at.

Low-Grade Cotton Offers More Ecologically-Friendly Way to Clean Oil Spills

Read the full story from Texas Tech University.

When it comes to cleaning up the next massive crude oil spill, one of the best and most eco-friendly solutions for the job may be low-grade cotton from West Texas.

Seshadri Ramkumar, lead author of the study and manager of the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), said he and his colleagues found that low-micronaire cotton – one of the lowest-quality types of cotton – is most effective at picking up oil. A pound of the low-micronaire cotton can pick up more than 30 pounds of crude oil, and its natural waxiness helps to repel water.

The new study includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed raw cotton’s use in crude oil spills, and was published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.