Day: October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat? The Frightening Threats to Bats

Read the full story from the USGS.

Each year on Halloween, as children dress up and go door to door looking for treats and excitement, bats—the very animal we associate with the celebration—are in serious trouble and we need to “treat” them with the respect they deserve.

Iconic Halloween animals that reinforce the spookiness of the holiday, bats have long suffered a bad reputation. They’ve been accused of harboring unkind spirits, making nests in piles of ratty hair, and are, of course, often associated with witches, warlocks, and Halloween. Few other mammals seem to “spook” us with so many misunderstandings. But bats, because of their incredible echolocation abilities, rarely fly into or touch people.  Far from being merely an unsavory nuisance, they serve amazing and essential ecological roles in our country.

Unfortunately for insect-eating bats, white-nose syndrome (WNS), a fatal fungal growth in the wings and muzzles of hibernating bats, has killed over 5 million bats since 2006, and may well lead to the extinction of certain bat species. In addition, bats are susceptible to being killed or injured by wind turbines.

Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool

Using the scoring methodology of the 2013 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the downloadable Self-Scoring Tool gives you the ability to score the energy efficiency efforts of your community and compare it against its peers. By answering a series of questions, you’ll obtain a numerical score indicative of your community’s progress toward enacting and implementing sound energy programs and policies. In addition to the score, the tool also allows for analysis of the score through:

  • A comparison to other communities’ scores to put numerical scores in perspective and introduce your community to innovative energy practices that have been implemented and successful in other communities
  • A customized assessment indicating where your community is doing well when it comes to energy efficiency, where your community can improve, and specific metrics for your community to target for improvement
  • Aggregation of scores by policy type to provide a flexible framework through which communities in different stages of energy policy implementation can view their progress

And who can use this tool, you might wonder? Anyone interested in knowing how energy efficient their community is—from the local policymaker to the informed citizen.

Land Use Law Center’s 12th Annual Land Use & Sustainable Development Conference

The Land Use Law Center’s annual Land Use & Sustainable Development Conference is a significant educational event in the region, with more than 200 attorneys, business professionals, and local leaders learning about national, regional, and local challenges and innovations. This year’s theme: Leading Communities toward a Resilient Future

Join us on December 6th at the NYS Judicial Institute at Pace Law School in White Plains to discuss the challenges communities in the New York Metropolitan area face because of natural disasters, a changing climate, new demographics and technologies, and inequitable living conditions. Leaders are emerging who are creating new strategies for community resiliency in the face of economic, social, and environmental change. They are Leading Communities toward a Resilient Future. We invite you to attend to learn about the flexible tools, models, and policies that strengthen communities to build equitable, sustainable, and economically prosperous places for people. CLE and CM credits available. Early-bird Pricing Closes Nov. 6th!

CONFERENCE KEYNOTES

 Opening Keynote

Majora Carter

Urban Revitalization Strategist, Majora Carter Group LLC

Majora Carter is an internationally renowned urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster.  She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems.

Her long list of awards and honorary degrees include accolades from groups as diverse as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, Goldman Sachs, as well as a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship.  Her 2006 TED talk was one of the first 6 videos to launch their groundbreaking website.

 

Lunch Keynote

Stephen Hardy, AICP LEED AP

Chief Community Builder, Mind Mixer

As a practitioner Stephen Hardy has managed a host of complex community planning projects. In Greensburg, Kansas, Stephen helped the City plan for recovery after a catastrophic EF-5 tornado wiped out most of the community’s structures. In 2008, the Greensburg Comprehensive Master Plan—for which Stephen was the lead planner—received international recognition with the prestigious Sustainable Cities Award from Financial Times and the Urban Land Institute, and in 2009 was recognized by the APA with the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan. He also has experience staffing on Capitol Hill, working at the Conservation Fund, and pioneering a community planning practice at BNIM, all of which he brought to his current role with MindMixer as Chief Community Builder.

Stephen’s areas of expertise include Sustainable comprehensive planning, disaster recovery, whole-systems integrated planning, high level facilitation, public engagement, the integration of design and planning, and project management. His experience and his passion for community building make him a strong advocate for better communication leading to community transformation.

CONFERENCE SESSIONS

  • Planning Ethics in a Changing Environment
  • Hot Topics of Land Use: The Rare Variance, Effective Comprehensive Planning, Ethics and Case Law Update
  • From Vision to Implementation: Making Our Main Streets Complete Streets
  • Rebuilding a Resilient Community
  • Controlling the Local Impacts of Hydrofracking
  • Here Comes the Sun: Barriers and Opportunities in Solar Power
  • Tensions and Opportunities in Urban Revitalization Efforts
  • Overcoming Barriers to Cultivating Urban Agriculture
  • Filling the Gaps with Form Based Codes and Other Zoning Techniques
  • Respecting, Regulating, or Rejecting the Right to Rebuild Post Sandy
  • Getting Ahead of the Storm – Understanding and Implementing Green Infrastructure

Apple looks to outfit devices with solar power converters

Read the full story at CNET.

Apple is looking at eliminating the middleman in solar power charging by outfitting devices with their own converters.

Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application dubbed “Power management systems for accepting adapter and solar power in electronic devices,” envisions a power management system that can direct solar power to a laptop or other device without the need for an external converter.

E-Waste Landfill Bans Aren’t Working

Read the full story at Earth911.

While 20 states, plus New York City, currently have landfill or incineration bans on electronics, research suggests these bans may not be as effective as legislators originally hoped.

The overall e-waste recycling rate remains dismally low. Only 25 percent of consumer electronics are recovered for recycling in the U.S., according to the most recent EPA data available (downloadable as a PDF).

EU Crack Down on Illegal E-waste Trade: Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) Project Launches

The launch of the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project was announced today by project co-ordinator, Interpol (International Criminal Police Organisation). The project will provide a set of recommendations to the European Commission and law enforcement authorities that will assist them in countering the illegal trade of WEEE ( Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), also known as ‘e-waste’ within and from Europe. Funded by the European Union’s Framework Program 7, this 2 year security research project brings together a group of experts skilled in the fields of e-waste analysis, crime analysis, supply chain security, and database management.

Only around 3 million tons of the estimated total of 8 million tons in WEEE was officially collected, treated, and reported to authorities across Europe in 2010. E-waste contains materials such as gold, copper, and palladium which makes it very valuable on the black market; attracting not just illegal single operators but serious organised crime groups.

However e-waste also contains hazardous substances such as mercury and cadmium. Therefore illegal e-waste handling, often in poorer countries, leads to huge health issues and environmental pollution.  At the same time, European Union Member States are losing a vast amount of rare earth metals and other important minerals due to increasing illicit activities, poor compliance rates, and limited enforcement activities in eWaste.

These issues call for increased attention and enhanced enforcement in the context of WEEE trade, transport, and treatment. The CWIT consortium is composed of partners that have a great deal of expertise on the WEEE area, crime analysis and the management of large databases, it comprises  Interpol, WEEE Forum aisbl, United Nations University (UNU), Zanasi & Partners (Z&P), Compliance and Risks (C2P), Cross-Border Research Association (CBRA) and United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

CWIT will help its two main target groups, WEEE related industries, and governmental policy & enforcement actors, to enhance capabilities to seriously reduce illicit activities around WEEE in the future. the outputs of the CWIT-project will comprise a set of recommendations related to the European legal and policy framework, taking account of the objectives and constraints of all key government and business stakeholders; as well as future research directions to undertake and new technologies to develop in order to minimize illicit activities and related problems.

To find out more, please click here.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Scores Another “Emerald City” Point With New Green Infrastructure Initiatives

Read the full post from NRDC Switchboard.

When many people think about Pittsburgh, the first thing that comes to mind is the city’s historical association with industry – especially steel.  These days, however, you may be more likely to see a green roof or a rain garden in Pittsburgh than a steel mill.  That’s because this city of three rivers is expanding its efforts to use green infrastructure techniques to reduce water pollution and revitalize its communities.

Today, we’re happy to report that Pittsburgh has achieved an additional point on our “Emerald City” rating system, detailed in NRDC’s most recent update of its report Rooftops to RiversLast updated in 2011, Rooftops to Rivers highlights cities that are using green infrastructure to solve their stormwater pollution and sewer overflow problems.  Today’s update reveals that in just the past two years, cities across the country have made significant progress in implementing their green infrastructure programs.

 

Job opening: Professor of Design for Sustainability, Savannah College of Art and Design

SCAD seeks highly motivated professionals eager to drive the development of the next generation of sustainable designers. The professor will encourage the development of a strong interdisciplinary design community across SCAD locations and collaborate with related academic disciplines and the local community.

Design for sustainability at SCAD infuses social science methodologies into design disciplines. Through in-depth analysis of environmental, social and economic factors, students learn to create innovative design solutions to individual, local and global challenges. Help students prepare for careers in this cutting-edge and socially responsible field as a full-time professor teaching undergraduate and graduate level classes. A successful candidate must have a proven record of applying sustainable principles and methodologies to generate creative solutions.

For more information and application instructions, please use the following link: https://scadjobs.scad.edu/postings/4866

EPA Recognizes WaterSense Partners of the Year for their Efforts in Promoting Water Efficiency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing its 2013 WaterSense Partners of the Year, including two partners who received the first-ever WaterSense Sustained Excellence awards in recognition of their continuous high level of support. The Partner of the Year awards program recognizes the commitment of WaterSense partners in promoting water efficiency to the American public. The award winners’ efforts, along with those of more than 2,700 other WaterSense partners, have helped Americans save 487 billion gallons of water and $8.9 billion in water and energy bills.

“All of our WaterSense partners have taken steps to reduce our nation’s water use, but several stood out in 2012 for their commitment to the WaterSense program and collaborative efforts to promote WaterSense-labeled products, new homes and outreach and educational programs,” said EPA’s acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner. “We are pleased to honor these organizations which have consistently supported our mission to protect the future of our nation’s water supply.”

The following partners were formally recognized for their water-saving efforts during the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., at a special awards ceremony cosponsored by the Alliance for Water Efficiency and Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Sustained Excellence Award Winners

Kohler Co., a three-time WaterSense Manufacturer Partner of the Year and two-time Excellence Award winner, continued to drive demand for WaterSense-labeled products in 2012. Kohler crisscrossed the country to promote its WaterSense-labeled products at industry shows in Orlando, Chicago and San Francisco and even made a stop at Home Depot’s 2012 Earth Day Celebration in New York City’s Times Square to demonstrate the flushing power of its WaterSense-labeled toilets.

Lowes, Inc., a three-time WaterSense Retailer Partner of the Year and 2011 Excellence Award winner, helped Americans become more water-efficient in 2012 by increasing its online inventory of WaterSense-labeled products, promoting bilingual WaterSense marketing materials, and developing a smartphone application to help employees find WaterSense-labeled product rebates for customers.

Partners of the Year

Promotional Partner of the Year: Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Public Utilities Department piloted a commercial program to educate restaurant owners on the benefits of WaterSense-labeled products and celebrated Fix a Leak Week 2012 by holding workshops and installing WaterSense-labeled fixtures in a community building that reduced its water use by 50 percent.

Large Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Delta Faucet Company conducted a coast-to-coast collaborative effort with a variety of WaterSense partners and stakeholders during Fix a Leak Week 2012. Delta installed its WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures in 1,900 housing units in nine cities across the country, resulting in more than 7 million gallons in estimated annual water savings.

Small Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Niagara Conservation Corp. partnered with local utilities and plumbers to develop Niagara Green City, a program promoting water- and energy-efficient products, and assembled plumbing kits with WaterSense-labeled products for local utilities to distribute throughout their communities.

Retailer Partner of the Year: The Home Depot was recognized by EPA for the second consecutive year for its efforts to promote WaterSense in all of its U.S. stores, as well as online. The Home Depot’s “Eco Options” website, featuring WaterSense-labeled products and water savings calculators, garnered more than 2.5 million hits in 2012.

Builder Partner of the Year: KB Home, now a three-time WaterSense Builder Partner of the Year, continued to break new ground in 2012 with the construction of WaterSense-labeled new homes across the country. KB Home continued to raise the bar by building its first ZeroHouse 2.0 model in the Washington, D.C., area to also earn the WaterSense label.

Professional Certifying Organization Partner of Year: The Irrigation Association(IA) received its first WaterSense Partner of Year award in the professional certifying organization category forencouraging irrigators to become certified through its WaterSense-labeled programs, introducing WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers to thousands of industry stakeholders, and assisting WaterSense in continued work toward labeling soil moisture-based control technologies.

Irrigation Partner of Year: John Taylor, the president of Taylor Irrigation Service, Inc., in Houston, Texas, and a certified irrigation auditor, overhauled his company’s business model in 2012 to focus on promoting water-smart landscaping and efficient irrigation practices, including WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers.

Six Excellence Awards were also given at the conference to partners for their outstanding contributions in specific program areas:

  • City of Boulder (Colo.) Department of Public Works/Utilities for Excellence in Promoting WaterSense-labeled Products
  • Colorado Springs (Colo.) Utilities for Excellence in Strategic Collaboration
  • Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, and Town of Sharon, Mass., for Excellence in Education and Outreach
  • Sonoma-Marin (Calif.) Saving Water Partnership for Excellence in Promoting WaterSense and Water-Efficient Irrigation Practices
  • Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver(Colo.) for Excellence in Construction of Affordable WaterSense-labeled New Homes

Learn more about the 2013 Sustained Excellence Award winners, WaterSense Partners of the Year, and Excellence Award winners at www.epa.gov/watersense.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

New study suggests coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate change

Read the full story from NOAA.

Coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate warming, improving their chance of surviving through the end of this century, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study funded by NOAA and conducted by the agency’s scientists and its academic partners. Results further suggest corals have already adapted to part of the warming that has occurred.