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New Tool Maps Buildings’ Energy Efficiency

Read the full story from Voice of America.

Architects, engineers and building managers will soon be able to quickly collect data about building interiors that once took weeks to measure and process. A backpack-mounted device, developed by a group of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, will require just one pass through the building to create not only a 3D model but gather other valuable information related to the building’s energy efficiency.

Study unearths impacts of our growing carbon emissions — and it’s not pretty

Read the full story at Mashable.

Scientists have directly confirmed what they have long assumed to be true: Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, are trapping heat from escaping back into space and are thereby causing global warming.

The observations of what is known as radiative forcing were made over the course of 11 years between 2000 and 2010 from two locations in North America, in Oklahoma and the North Slope of Alaska. Highly specialized instruments in both locations were used to measure thermal infrared energy fluctuations and analyze the source of such changes.

The study, published Wednesday in the advance online edition of the journal Nature, explores the Earth’s energy account balance. It found that over time, the planet is running a surplus of energy at the surface, causing global air and ocean temperatures to increase with a wide variety of mostly negative impacts.

Related Video

These graphs show carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at two locations on the Earth’s surface. The first graph shows C02 radiative forcing measurements obtained at a research facility in Oklahoma. As the atmospheric concentration of C02 (blue) increased from 2000 to the end of 2010, so did surface radiative forcing due to C02 (orange), and both quantities have upward trends. This means the Earth absorbed more energy from solar radiation than it emitted as heat back to space. The seasonal fluctuations are caused by plant-based photosynthetic activity. The second graph shows similar upward trends at a research facility on the North Slope of Alaska. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #6

Sustainability Sit-Downs #6 is out. This week’s video features M. Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College, discussing higher education’s role in making a sustainability society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.

EPA Delves Deeper into Corporate Sustainability Data

Read the full post on the ACS Nexus Blog.

For more than two decades, EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program has required industrial facilities to disclose both their environmental releases and the measures they’ve taken to keep toxic chemicals out of our air, water, and land.  It was only recently, however, that the TRI Program began promoting this treasure trove of pollution prevention (P2) data as a resource for identifying demonstrably-effective green practices.

More than 10,000 source reduction activities are reported to TRI each year, but can we tell which ones actually reduce releases? A rigorous statistical analysis of all TRI data shows that the average effect is highest for the reporting categories that include raw material (e.g., feedstock chemical) substitution and switches to aqueous cleaners from solvents. And a separate analysis of the pharmaceutical sector indicates that green chemistry practices contributed to dramatic reductions in the early-to-mid 2000s.

But more meaningful insights lie ahead. Beginning with reports due July 1 of this year, facilities will have the opportunity to report the estimated annual reduction associated with each newly implemented P2 activity. This information will shed new light on which types of practices (including six new green chemistry categories added in 2012) are having the biggest impact on companies’ environmental footprints. As always, facilities that implemented green chemistry will also be encouraged to highlight their successes by submitting a more detailed narrative in the optional P2 section of the form (see video).

New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Videos #5

This week’s video features Katharine Jacobs, Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions and former Assistant Director in the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. She will discuss challenges and solutions for higher education in promoting a sustainable society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.

Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #4

Sustainability Sit-Downs #4 is out. This week’s video features Tim Carter, President of Second Nature, discussing higher education’s role in making a sustainability society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday.