Day: May 15, 2014

The 10 Most Resilient Cities In The World

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If humanity is going to survive and thrive in the future, it’s going to need strong cities. Two-thirds of people are set to live in urban areas by 2050 (according to U.N. estimates), putting great pressure on city planners to cope.

How well are they doing so far? A new report scores 50 cities both for their “vulnerability” (for example, to climate change) and their “adaptive capacity” (their ability to react), producing an overall “resilience” ranking. And, in fact, the news for North America isn’t bad–as long as you believe the rankings. The top three cities are Canadian (Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary), and six of the top 10 are from the U.S. (led by Chicago and Pittsburgh in fourth and fifth places, respectively).

Turning shrimp shells into plastic

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Harvard researchers have found a way to isolate fully degradable plastic from shrimp shells. To demonstrate how hardy yet pliable their new bioplastic is, they molded it into a series of chess pieces; and then to show how it can encourage plant growth after it breaks down, they grew some peas in it…

The work was published in Macromolecular Materials & Engineering in March.

Ames Lab creates multifunctional nanoparticles for cheaper, cleaner biofuel

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has created a faster, cleaner biofuel refining technology that not only combines processes, it uses widely available materials to reduce costs.

Ames Laboratory scientists have developed a nanoparticle that is able to perform two processing functions at once for the production of green diesel, an alternative fuel created from the hydrogenation of oils from renewable feedstocks like algae.

The method is a departure from the established process of producing biodiesel, which is accomplished by reacting fats and oils with alcohols…

The paper has been published in Catalysis: Supported iron nanoparticles for the hydrodeoxygenation of microalgal oil to green diesel

Capturing Carbon in Calgary

Read the full story in Algae Industry Magazine.

A team of six University of Calgary researchers has been awarded funding for their project, “Cost Effective Biotechnology for Carbon Capture and Re-Use”, based on the concept of using algal biotechnology to capture and reuse carbon from gasses emitted from burning fossil fuels.

U.S. Open Data Action Plan

Download the document.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has articulated a vision of the U.S. Government managing information as a national asset and opening up its data, where possible, as a public good to advance government efficiency, improve accountability, and fuel private sector innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth. Putting government data online and making it easy to find and use—while continuing to rigorously protect privacy—can help American families find the right health care provider, identify the college that provides the best value for their money, keep their families safe by knowing which products have been recalled, and much more.

On June 18, 2013, President Obama and other G7 leaders endorsed the Open Data Charter. The Open Data Charter sets out five strategic principles:

  • Open Data by Default – foster expectations that government data be published openly while continuing to safeguard privacy;
  • Quality and Quantity – release quality, timely and well-described open data;
  • Useable by All – release as much data in as many open formats as possible;
  • Releasing Data for Improved Governance – share expertise and be transparent about data collection, standards and publishing processes; and
  • Releasing Data for Innovation – consult with users and empower future generations of innovators.

The U.S. Government continues to make significant progress ensuring government data is more available and useable to the public. Government data is structured information that is created, collected, processed, disseminated, or disposed of by or for the Federal government. Examples of progress include:

Building upon these efforts, and as set forth in the Open Data Charter, the U.S. Government is releasing this U.S. Open Data Action Plan which outlines new commitments as well as plans for enhancements and releases of certain data assets across the categories set forth by the Charter.

How Minneapolis Plans to Have Zero Waste

Read the full story in Governing.

Imagine a city without garbage.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Minneapolis officials are taking early steps toward joining ­Seattle and San Francisco in becoming “zero waste” cities where just about every scrap of trash is recycled.

A public hearing to ban hard-to-recycle foam takeout containers is scheduled for Monday and City Hall is drafting a plan to pick up food scraps and other organic items from every home by next year, something several metro-area cities already do. And Mayor Betsy Hodges has hired the city’s first-ever zero-waste coordinator.

Vermont: After intense lobbying, toxic chemicals bill barely passes out of Senate

Read the full story at Vtdigger.org.

The Vermont Legislature on Friday gave final approval to a bill to regulate toxic chemicals found in children’s products.

The Senate voted 26-3 to concur with the scaled-back House version of S.239, a bill allowing the health department to regulate toxic chemicals in products marketed to children ages 12 and under.

Behind Ford’s sustainable design vision

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

At first glance, Ford’s heavy-duty F-150 pickup truck and its compact C-Max Solar Energi concept car couldn’t appear more different.

Parked outside an automotive and industrial design event held last week in San Francisco, a flaming red 2015 F-150 – which is set to hit the market later this year – looks somewhat out of place in The City, as if it is just stopping through on its way to a big construction job in the Central Valley.

Inside the event, nestled into a corner next to a stage featuring a panel discussion that includes Ford’s director of strategic design, Freeman Thomas, the baby-blue solar-electric concept car looks much more at home.

After all, San Francisco has among the most electric vehicles of any city in the U.S., along with a growing EV charging infrastructure.

But according to Thomas, both vehicles perfectly embody Ford’s vision for sustainable automotive design.

How HP is closing the loop on cartridge recycling

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

When HP boss Meg Whitman stated last September that “business as usual is not an option for anyone”, it seemed to signal the IT giant’s willingness to join the sustainability trend that has dominated the technology sector in recent months. With the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook all winning plaudits for their high profile commitments to decarbonisation and greener supply chains, it looked as if the IT hardware veteran was keen to get in on the act.

But Bruno Zago, sustainability manager at HP UK, is keen to emphasise that the company has a long heritage when it comes to environmental leadership. He cites founder David Packard, who back in 1957 declared “HP exists to create value for shareholders but also to create value for society”, as evidence that the company was a pioneer of green business thinking. And he insists that despite the industry changing beyond all recognition since then, HP remains true to its original goal. “Our customers expect us to be leaders in this arena but also to use technology, software and our people to solve these problems,” Zago says.

The latest example of this commitment is HP’s cartridge recycling program, Planet Partners, which since its inception in 1991 has taken back and reprocessed 566 million ink and toner cartridges worldwide, extending to over 50 countries and covering 90 percent of cartridges sold. Zago says that thanks to the program no part of an original HP cartridge is sent to landfill — everything that comes back is fully recycled or goes to thermal recovery.