Ford stumps for more urban EV charging infrastructure

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Ford said Wednesday it is working with a bevy of cities to bolster the infrastructure needed to enable electric vehicle charging in various metropolitan areas.

Top Five: Ways To Celebrate Earth Day with Your Kids

Read the full post from ChambanaMoms. com.

We all know that our fine community is pretty darn green. In 2007 Champaign-Urbana ranked in CountryHome magazine’s top 10 for the most green cities in America. Urbana’s residential curbside recycling program, U-CYCLE, began in 1986 and was one of the first citywide recycling programs offered in the state of Illinois. We like to bike (sign up for Bike to Work (and school) Day on May 3!) , and we have one of the top small city mass transit systems in the country.

But there’s always more to be done! Teaching our children to be good stewards of the Earth is a good place to start. Friday is Earth Day (as is every April 22). Even if you don’t attend an “official” Earth Day celebration (there are a few on our calendar), here are other ways you can celebrate — on that day or any other day!

The Model Region of Güssing – an Example of the Austrian Grassroots Strategy for Energy Independence

Read the full story from the Worldwatch Institute.

Today, Austria is one of only four European countries that derive more than 30% of their total energy consumption from renewable energy sources excluding nuclear energy which is not considered a renewable energy source. In a 1978 referendum, the Austrian people rejected the construction of nuclear plants in our country, and a few weeks later the parliament unanimously passed a law prohibiting the use of nuclear power for the production of electricity. Instead, measures to promote energy efficiency have been at the top of the agenda for decades. Austria enjoys the world’s highest per-capita share of so called “Passive Houses” – low-energy homes and buildings that require less than 10% of the energy needed for the average U.S. home.

The Enthusiasm Gap: How to Improve Energy Efficiency

Read the full story from the Worldwatch Institute.

International climate and energy policies, including the EU’s 20-20-20 agenda, often contain three key elements: reducing carbon dioxide emissions, investing in renewable energy sources, and improving energy efficiency. But while some progress has been achieved in the first two categories, efforts to improve efficiency have fallen far short. Why?

U.K. Neighborhood Records Its Electricity Use on the Street

Read the full post at GOOD.

A little feedback can go a long way. In Brighton, in the United Kingdom, a group of residents living on Tidy Street are recording their daily electricity use on a giant infographic painted on the street outside their homes.

Rare Earth Elements in National Defense: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Via the RFF Library Blog.

Congressional Research Service

Some Members of Congress have expressed concern over U.S. acquisition of rare earth elements that are used in various components of defense weapon systems. Rare earths are a collection of 17 elements on the periodic table, including a series of 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements, yttrium and scandium, which have similar properties. These elements are referred to as “rare” because while they are relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and economic extraction and processing is both difficult and costly…

A series of events and press reports over the last few months have highlighted the rare earth “crisis,” as some refer to it. Policymakers are concerned with the nearly total U.S. dependence on China for rare earth elements, including oxides, phosphors, metals, alloys, and magnets, and its implications for U.S. national security….

Yet the “crisis” for many policymakers is not that China has cut its rare earth exports and appears to be restricting the world’s access to rare earths, but that the United States has lost its domestic capacity to produce strategic and critical materials. The Department of Defense (DOD) is examining whether there is a supply chain vulnerability issue. DOD estimates that the United States uses about 5% of the world’s production of rare earths for defense purposes. Congress awaits the release of the overdue assessment by DOD of the rare earth supply chain.

There are important questions with only partial answers at the present time. Given congressional interests in rare earths, Congress may use its oversight role to seek more complete answers to the following important questions:

  • Is there a rare earth material vulnerability that will impact national security?
  • Are there substitutes for rare earths that are economic, efficient, and available?
  • What short-term and long-term options might DOD consider in response to a lack of domestic production and China’s continued dominance in this area?

In addition to requiring DOD to assess rare earth supply chain vulnerability issues, Congress may want to consider alternatives including:

  • development of a domestic rare earths stockpile;
  • government investment in rare earths production, including various aspects of its supply chain; and
  • partnering with foreign allies to diversify rare earth sources and decrease dependence on China.

Congress may encourage DOD to develop a collaborative, long-term, well-thought-out strategy designed to identify any material weaknesses and vulnerabilities associated with rare earths and to protect the long-term national security interests of the United States.

Green Environments Essential for Human Health, Research Shows

Read the full story at Science Daily.

Research shows that a walk in the park is more than just a nice way to spend an afternoon. It’s an essential component for good health, according to University of Illinois environment and behavior researcher Frances “Ming” Kuo.

New Pollutants: Flame Retardants Detected in Peregrine Falcon Eggs

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Flame retardants are chemical compounds added to fabrics and plastics to keep them from burning easily, but these can be toxic. Now a team of researchers from Spain and Canada has detected some of these emerging pollutants for the first time in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs in both countries.

How to Make the CFO a Buyer for Sustainability Solutions

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Most of the suppliers of IT-for-sustainability (ITfS) solutions that we work with have one path to finding a buyer in their customer organizations: through the IT organization. Whether giants, such as SAP and HP, or newcomers, such as Hara and ENXSuite, vendors of energy management, carbon reporting and other ITfS products are typically starting their sales motion with customers’ traditional buyers of software sytems: IT.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We have long maintained that IT organizations and the CIOs that lead them will increasingly be the owner and operator of environmental systems of record, just as it is for financial, HR and customer data systems, among others. But, ITfS suppliers will want to develop multiple pathways into customer organizations. For most, decision-making around sustainability processes and technologies is diffuse, spread across IT, facilities, operations and CSR. Finding the buyer for sustainability is oft times the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Let’s add another potential customer pathway into the mix: finance organizations and the CFO. In their role as custodian of corporate risk management and of reporting corporate results, CFOs will increasingly be drawn into the realm of sustainability.

Latest Verdiem Software Helps Apple Users Take a Bite Out of Energy Use

Read the full story at GreenerComputing.

Increasing use of Apple computers and laptops has led Verdiem to include support for Macs in the latest version of its flagship power management software.

Verdiem’s Surveyor 5.5 software, which is aimed at helping companies and organizations control energy use among networked computers, now works with computers running Mac OSX 10.5 or 10.6.