Energy Efficiency Best Practices Workbook for Local Governments

An energy efficiency “best practices” workbook is now available for any community wanting to reduce its energy use, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions. The California Local Energy Efficiency Program (CALeep), funded by the California PUC, published the workbook to address barriers to community-level energy efficiency initiatives and to recognize the
important role local governments can have in meeting state energy efficiency and environmental goals.

The workbook describes a basic five-step process—initiate, plan, organize, implement, assess—that communities can follow to increase their level of energy efficiency, whether starting from scratch or building on existing energy efficiency activities.

The CALeep Workbook is available at

Communicating Research to Public Audiences

Read the full solicitation.

Communicating Research to Public Audiences is a component of the Informal Science Education program (ISE) in the Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education. ISE projects provide rich and stimulating contexts and experiences for individuals of all ages, interests, and backgrounds to increase their appreciation for, and understanding of, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in out-of-school settings. Requests for up to $75,000 will be considered to support projects that communicate to public audiences the process and results of current research that is being supported by any NSF directorate through informal science education activities, such as media presentations, exhibits, or youth-based activities. The purpose of these efforts is to disseminate research results, research in progress, or research methods.

Future Energy Source Could Be Rooted In Fast-Growing Trees

Read the full story in Environmental Protection magazine.

Research on a tree that can reach 90 feet in six years and be grown as a row crop on fallow farmland could lead to a major replacement for fossil fuels.

Purdue University researchers said on Aug. 23 they are using genetic tools in an effort to design trees that readily and inexpensively can yield the substances needed to produce alternative transportation fuel. The scientists are focused on a compound in cell walls called lignin that contributes to plants’ structural strength, but which hinders extraction of cellulose. Cellulose is the sugar-containing component needed to make the alternative fuel ethanol.

Study: Wildfires Unleash Sequestered Mercury In Wetlands

Read the full story in Environmental Protection magazine.

Wildfires are waking a dangerous sleeping giant in the most northern wetlands of North America — mercury, researchers said on Aug. 21.

Released into the atmosphere most prodigiously with the launching of the industrial age, the toxic element falls back onto Earth, and accumulates particularly in North American wetlands. A Michigan State University (MSU) researcher — working closely with the U.S. Geological Survey — finds wildfires, growing more frequent and intense, are unleashing this sequestered mercury at levels up to 15 times greater than originally calculated.

The full citation for the article is:

Turetsky, Merritt R.; Harden, Jennifer W.; Friedli, Hans R.; Flannigan, Mike; Payne, Nicholas; Crock, James; Radke, Lawrence. “Wildfires threaten mercury stocks in northern soils.” Geophysical Research Letters 33(16), L16403.

Deep-fried fuel alternative studied at ISU

Read the full story in the Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph.

NORMAL — A team of students and faculty sees great potential in the 5,000 gallons of used fryer oil generated each year by food service operations at Illinois State University. For the two research assistants and their professors, the question is this: Can fryer oil and other waste oil be converted to biodiesel to be used in campus vehicles?

UIUC Biodiesel Initiative

The UIUC Biodiesel Initiative is a new student project hoping to convert all of the university’s waste vegetable oil to biodiesel for use by the campus vehicle fleet. The team hopes to begin construction of the biodiesel reactor by this October and achieve full production (250 gal per week) by the end of the year. For more information, visit

UIUC Selected for 2007 Solar Decathlon

The University of Illinois has been selected as one of 20 colleges and universities to participate in the 2007 Solar Decathlon. The project challenges student and faculty teams to design and contruct a functional, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable house powered only by the sun.

In the fall of 2007, after planning and building for fifteen months, teams will come together in Washington D.C., to create the solar village. For more information, visit

Public Doesn't Understand Global Warming

Read the full story at

Recently, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a focus group about global warming to see where people are at in their understanding of this complex and challenging problem. The results? Let’s just say they were disconcerting, to say the least, says Dr. Suzuki.

Corporate Environmentalism – Stop Seeing Green as a Burden

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It is time to seize the opportunities of environmental leadership, says WWF’s UK chief executive, Robert Napier.

Co-operative Group Shows the Way to Manage Climate Change

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The Co-operative Group says it is the first major retailer in the UK to switch all its outlets to green electricity.