Day: July 1, 2013

A Song of Our Warming Planet

Read the full post and watch the video at Ensia.

When faced with the challenge of sharing the latest climate change discoveries, scientists often rely on data graphics and technical illustrations. University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford came up with a completely different approach. He’s using his cello to communicate the latest climate science through music.

July 2013 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives now available

The July 2013 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives is now available. Feature articles include:

Science Selections




Children’s Health





Webinar: Estimating Environmental Footprints Using SEFA (Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Analysis)

Aug. 22, 2013, 1-3 pm CDT
Register at

The process of cleaning up a hazardous waste site uses energy, water and other natural or materials resources and consequently creates an environmental footprint of its own. In 2012, the EPA released the “Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint” which presents green remediation metrics associated with contaminated site cleanup and a process to quantify those metrics in order to achieve a greener cleanup. In conjunction with the Methodology, the EPA developed a set of analytical workbooks known as “SEFA” (Spreadsheets for Environmental Footprint Analysis), which can be used to quantify the environmental footprint of a site cleanup. This 2-hour internet seminar will provide an overview of the SEFA tool, demonstrate how to use the tool and provide case studies on sites where the tool has been used. Opportunities will be provided throughout the seminar for participants to submit questions and observations regarding the SEFA tool.

Prior to attending this webinar, participants are strongly requested to: (1) watch the EPA’s Methodology for Understanding and Reducing a Project’s Environmental Footprint Internet seminar available at, and (2) download and review the SEFA Workbooks and SEFA Tutorial which are available at

Webinar: Renewable Energy Projects on Federal Lands: A Practical Guide and Examples

Aug 8, 2013 1-3 pm CDT
Register at

This webinar will present a practical guide developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program (DOE/FEMP) to help navigate the complexities of developing large renewable energy projects at Federal Facilities and attracting the necessary private capital to complete them. The guide is available for download from the DOE FEMP website.

In addition, two specific areas will be discussed in which renewable energy was sited on Federal sites with historic contamination:

  • The Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR), a property historically used for military training activities, has renewable energy projects — wind, solar and geothermal — installed and in development by multiple organizations within the Department of Defense, the U.S Coast Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The MMR site participated in the first EPA-NREL RE-Powering Feasibility Studies in 2009 and is among the first feasibility study sites to move forward with a renewable energy development project. For more information on that solar study, go to the RE-Powering Feasibility Study webpage or access the report directly.
  • At the DOE Pantex site near Amarillo, Texas, an 11.5 MW wind energy farm is being developed to generate approximately 45 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, meeting more than 60% of the installation’s annual energy needs.

Webinar: Green & Sustainable Remediation

July 23, 2013, 2:00 PM – 4:15 PM, EDT
Register at

The ultimate goal of remediation systems is to protect human health and the environment from contaminants. Historically, remedies have been implemented without consideration of green or sustainable concepts in order to meet this goal. This includes the potential for transferring impacts to other media. For instance, many remedial decisions do not assess greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy usage, or community engagement factors prior to the investigation or remedy implementation. Considering these factors throughout the investigation and remedy implementation process may lessen negative effects of the overall cleanup impact while the remediation remains protective of human health and the environment. The consideration of these factors is Green and Sustainable Remediation (GSR) – the site-specific employment of products, processes, technologies, and procedures that mitigate contaminant risk to receptors while making decisions that are cognizant of balancing community goals, economic impacts, and net environmental effects.

Many state and federal agencies are just beginning to assess and apply green and sustainable remediation into their regulatory programs. This training provides background on GSR concepts, a scalable and flexible framework and metrics, tools and resources to conduct GSR evaluations on remedial projects. The training is based on the ITRC’s Technical & Regulatory Guidance Document: Green and Sustainable Remediation: A Practical Framework (GSR-2, 2011) as well as ITRC’s Overview Document, Green and Sustainable Remediation: State of the Science and Practice (GSR-1, 2011).

Beyond basic GSR principles and definitions, participants will learn the potential benefits of incorporating GSR into their projects; when and how to incorporate GSR within a project’s life cycle; and how to perform a GSR evaluation using appropriate tools. In addition, a variety of case studies will demonstrate the application of GSR and the results. The training course provides an important primer for both organizations initiating GSR programs as well as those organizations seeking to incorporate GSR considerations into existing regulatory guidance.

World Bank Calls for Europe and Central Asia to move from ‘Brown’ to ‘Green’ Growth

Read the full press release from the World Bank.

The economic costs and social impacts of climate change threaten the prosperity of the Europe and Central Asia region.  But well-designed climate action can bring numerous benefits, while also being cost-effective. A set of three World Bank reports launched today in Brussels with the European Commission focus on the ‘here and now’ of policies to fight climate change..

The three new reports identify the local and immediate benefits of climate action.  They identify what countries in Europe and Central Asia should be doing, and how they can best do it:

  • Growing Green: the Economic Benefits of Climate Action identifies energy efficiency, cleaner energy, and natural resource management as the main components of a growth-friendly climate action strategy, and shows that the biggest gains will come from improving energy efficiency.
  • Energy Efficiency: Lessons Learned from Success Stories analyzes the policies of countries in the European Union that have improved energy efficiency the most – Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden in the west, and Lithuania, Poland, and Romania in Central Europe.  The report shows that the quickest gains are in industry, while residential energy efficiency improvements tend to be more difficult.
  • Balancing Act: Cutting Energy Subsidies While Protecting Affordability proposes that with well-designed energy tariffs and social protection policies, the fiscal and environmental benefits of eliminating energy subsidies do not have to come at the expense of increased poverty and hardship. It shows that reducing consumption subsidies is possible and the welfare gains can be sizeable.

U of Delaware’s pollution-fighting algae

Read the full story in Algae Industry Magazine.

New research at the University of Delaware has identified a hardy algae species showing promise in both reducing power plant pollution and making biofuel. The microscopic algae Heterosigma akashiwo grows rapidly on a gas mixture that has the same carbon dioxide and nitric oxide content as emissions released from a power plant.

Inside the emerging role of corporate energy managers

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

In the run-up to this year’s VERGE series of events that kicked off in Boston in May and continue in Paris on June 26-27, we worked with Groom Energy to launch our VERGE Energy Management research program. (To participate in our quarterly energy management research, click here.)

What we found is that, much like the emergence of sustainability executives, there has been a steady increase in companies dedicating a full-time resource to focus on corporate energy management. These sustainability and energy management roles complement and reinforce each other’s mission. However, while the ancillary benefit of a corporate energy management program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary motivation for these energy managers is to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

Upcoming Climate and Energy Webcasts for State and Local Governments

EPA Webcasts

July 16, 2:30-3:45 (EDT) – Green Infrastructure: Achieving Stormwater Management, Neighborhood Stabilization, and Complete Streets Using Formula Funds
Experts from EPA, HUD, and DOT and the city of Indianapolis will discuss ways communities can use green infrastructure to manage stormwater, help revitalize neighborhoods, and create complete streets, and how federal formula funds can be used to finance green infrastructure. This webinar is one in a series of three webinars sponsored by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

July 24, 2:00-3:00 (EDT) – Our Built and Natural Environments
Current patterns of land use, building, and travel behavior have affected the environment in many ways. EPA’s Smart Growth Program invites you to participate in a webinar that examines how we could reduce those impacts as our nation’s population grows. The webinar will provide an overview of EPA’s recent report, Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality. Dr. Melissa Kramer, the report’s author, and John Frece, director of EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities, will discuss how development affects human health and the environment and land use and transportation strategies that yield better environmental results.


Multiple Dates and Times – Portfolio Manager 101
ENERGY STAR will introduce and demonstrate the core functionality of EPA’s new ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. Attendees will learn how to: navigate the new Portfolio Manager; add a property and enter details about it; enter energy and water consumption data; share properties; generate performance reports to assess progress; and respond to data requests. Webcasts available on July 15 at noon and 3 PM, July 17 at noon and 3 PM; July 22 at 2 PM; July 24 at 2 PM; July 25 at 2 PM; July 30 at 2 PM; and July 31 at 2 PM.

July 24 & 31, 1:00-2:00 PM – Introducing the New Portfolio Manager: For Service Providers and Implementers of Utility and Government Benchmarking Programs
Service providers and implementers of utility and government benchmarking programs are invited to a webinar introducing the new ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This session will provide an overview of EPA’s recently upgraded benchmarking tool and review tactics to deploy the new Portfolio Manager in building energy efficiency programs and benchmarking services. In particular, attendees will:
– Learn about enhancements made to the New Portfolio Manager including a user-friendly interface, streamlined functionality, and enhanced reporting capabilities, and
– Review new Portfolio Manager training and communication resources that are available from EPA.

DOE & NREL Webcasts

July 9, 2:00-3:00 PM (EDT) – Shared Solar Programs: Opportunities & Challenges
Sponsored by DOE and NREL, this webinar provides and overview of issues related to shared solar, the critical elements of a program to make it successful, and examples of locations that have implemented a shared solar or community-based solar program.

July 10, 2:00-3:00 PM (EDT) – Innovation and Success in Solar Financing
This DOE webcast will highlight recent developments in solar project financing and customer acquisition models. It will also outline recent developments in third-party solar financing, community shared solar, bulk purchasing, and Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN)/feed-in-tariff programs.

July 24, 2:00-3:00 PM (EDT) –  Innovation and Success in Solar Planning and Zoning
This DOE webcast will highlight successful initiatives to implement zoning codes conducive to developing solar and update building codes to accommodate solar planning and development. The discussion will include: a brief explanation of where solar fits into planning and zoning  processes; best practices in planning and zoning for solar; highlights from a number of recent initiatives to facilitate solar energy deployment through changes in local planning and zoning requirements.

July 31, 11:00 Am-12:30 PM (MDT) – Tribal Renewable Energy Series: Conducting Transmission Feasibility and System Impact Studies
The development of more renewable energy resources raises challenges and opportunities for the electric grid relating to upgrades and potential new construction. This DOE webcast addresses the components needed to analyze and assess the impacts, costs, and benefits of transmission line upgrades and additions.