Day: July 26, 2011

DOE and ASHRAE Sign Agreement to Improve Building Energy Standards

The U.S. Department of Energy and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) today announced a new agreement to develop achievable and cost effective standards, jointly promote educational programs, and support one another’s products and services. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) underscores the commitment between DOE and ASHRAE to improve building energy standards that reduce energy costs and carbon pollution nationwide. These concerted efforts help home and business owners save money on their annual utility bills, enhance our nation’s energy security by reducing fossil fuel use, and strengthen America’s position as a leader in energy-efficient building construction.

Under the MOU, which updates the organizations’ 2007 agreement, DOE and ASHRAE agree to strengthen their mutual support for the development of ASHRAE standards and to promote the international adoption of these standards. The agreement also calls for the following:

  • Increase research collaboration to promote the transfer of new technologies to building owners and managers
  • Ensure the compatibility of building energy software
  • Support education for building designers
  • Implement counter-terrorism design features in buildings
  • Minimize the impact of energy use on the environment

Many of the goals set forth in the MOU support the international energy efficiency standard called Standard 90.1, which sets the bar for energy efficiency in commercial buildings. ASHRAE will provide self-directed online learning opportunities and hands on training programs on-site at buildings that meet or exceed Standard 90.1. ASHRAE and DOE will also work to develop an update to Standard 90.1 for release in 2013 that improves energy efficiency of commercial buildings by 50% compared with the 2004 standard. The accelerated development and distribution of advanced energy design guidance, such as 50% Advanced Energy Design Guides, will also be a key component of the collaboration.

The agreement was signed at ASHRAE’s 2011 Annual Conference in Montreal, Quebec on June 25, 2011. The agreement will specifically support the following ASHRAE standards:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ASHRAE/Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Standard 90.1, Energy Efficient Design of New Buildings Except Low Rise Residential Buildings
  • ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.2, Energy Efficient Design of Low-Rise Residential Buildings
  • ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality In Commercial, Institutional, Industrial and High-rise Residential Buildings
  • ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2, Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings
  • ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 100, Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings
  • ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 135, BACnet® – A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks
  • ANSI/ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings
  • Proposed ASHRAE/NEMA Standard 201, Facility Smart Grid Information Model

Webinar: Engaging Hospital Leaders to Advance Sustainability: Connecting the Dots on Climate Change

Date: Thursday, August 4, 2011 11:45 AM – 1:30 PM EDT
Register at

Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital  will share their recent experience of engaging hospital leaders to advance their sustainability program. Alex Jaccaci, Associate VP of Organizational Improvement and Planning, will share how the process of engaging leaders in discussions of climate change provided a catalyst to increase leader commitment and organizational action. The presentation will include an overview of issues related to climate change and implications for hospitals. Alex presented at the last NH hospital meeting and I wanted to bring his presentation to all New England hospitals and hospitals Nationally so EPA New England will be hosting this webinar.

Solar Panels Also Keep Buildings Cool

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Those solar panels on top of your roof aren’t just providing clean power, they also are cooling your house or workplace, according to a team of researchers led by Jan Kleissl, a professor of environmental engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

How Would You Make Our Food System More Awesome?

Read the full post at Good.

Our current food system is decidedly not awesome: it subsidizes food that makes us sick and makes it difficult to get ahold of anything fresh. But a micro-grant foundation, called Awesome Food, that launched last week is trying to make it better. Starting next month, it intends to give out $1,000 per month to “further food awesomeness in the universe.” If you get your application in by August 5, you could be the winner of the first round of money.

With ‘data furnaces,’ warm your home with a server

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

Heating buildings is energy intensive.

Running computer servers that power the Internet is also energy intensive.

For the former, we spend money to get rid of the cool.

For the latter, we spend money to get rid of the heat.

In a world where everything is connected, can we close the loop?

A group of Microsoft researchers published a paper (.pdf) this week suggesting that servers be deployed to homes and office buildings and used as a primary heat source, instead of the traditional set up where equipment is installed to cool the servers at the same time that more equipment is used to warm the building in the cold seasons.

9 case studies in community sustainability strategy

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has just released a joint report with sustainability policy ideas for municipal planners and others focused on shaping energy, water and resource management plans for cities, counties and communities across the United States.

The report, “Breaking New Ground,” contains data from a survey of 2,100 local governments that was conducted by ICMA, the Center for Urban Innovation, Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and the Alliance for Innovation. The report was released by the IBM Center for The Business of Government. Here are some high level findings:

  • 4 in 5 governments run some sort of recycling program
  • 82 percent are focused on transportation improvements
  • 81 percent have programs centered on reducing building energy use, although only 36 percent are focused on changing habits and policies to support that; only 25 percent are exploring renewable energy generation

Biodegradable Products Damage Environment, Too

Read the full story at Discovery News.

Before you buy something that’s biodegradable, take a look at how your community deals with trash.


  • Buying biodegradable products can ease your conscience, but they don’t necessarily do much for the Earth.
  • Biodegradable products can do more harm than good for the environment if they end up in landfills.
  • One of the best ways to reduce your impact on the Earth is to use less and throw less away.
Full citation for the research article: James W. Levis  and Morton A. Barlaz (2011). “Is Biodegradability a Desirable Attribute for Discarded Solid Waste? Perspectives from a National Landfill Greenhouse Gas Inventory Model.” Environmental Science & Technology 45 (13),  5470–5476.DOI: 10.1021/es200721s
Abstract: There is increasing interest in the use of biodegradable materials because they are believed to be “greener”. In a landfill, these materials degrade anaerobically to form methane and carbon dioxide. The fraction of the methane that is collected can be utilized as an energy source and the fraction of the biogenic carbon that does not decompose is stored in the landfill. A landfill life-cycle model was developed to represent the behavior of MSW components and new materials disposed in a landfill representative of the U.S. average with respect to gas collection and utilization over a range of environmental conditions (i.e., arid, moderate wet, and bioreactor). The behavior of materials that biodegrade at relatively fast (food waste), medium (biodegradable polymer) and slow (newsprint and office paper) rates was studied. Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyoctanoate) (PHBO) was selected as illustrative for an emerging biodegradable polymer. Global warming potentials (GWP) of 26, 720, −1000, 990, and 1300 kg CO2e wet Mg–1 were estimated for MSW, food waste, newsprint, office paper, and PHBO, respectively in a national average landfill. In a state-of-the-art landfill with gas collection and electricity generation, GWP’s of −250, 330, −1400, −96, and −420 kg CO2e wet Mg–1 were estimated for MSW, food waste, newsprint, office paper and PHBO, respectively. Additional simulations showed that for a hypothetical material, a slower biodegradation rate and a lower extent of biodegradation improve the environmental performance of a material in a landfill representative of national average conditions.

EPA OnCampus ecoAmbassdor Program

Working with school representatives and fellow students, OnCampus ecoAmbassadors implement projects from EPA programs to help green their campuses, promote environmental awareness and carry out the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

OnCampus ecoAmbassadors choose to implement one environmental activity from a menu of options, such as increasing energy efficiency on campus, reducing water use, and implementing a composting program. Students are encouraged to recruit help from friends and organization on campus. There’s no limit to the number of projects students can complete!

ecoAmbassadors are equipped with EPA materials and a Facebook community to engage members of their campus and students across the country. Upon completion of each activity and sponsor endorsement, each student will receive a certificate of completion from the EPA and the school will receive sustainability leaves to track progress.  Schools that complete activities of higher difficulty will be awarded more leaves.   Students from schools that complete multiple activities within a school year will have the opportunity to visit the EPA at both the regional and national level.  During these spring semester visits, students will meet with program staff and leadership.

To take part in the OnCampus ecoAmbassador Program you must be a college student attending any two or four year institution, undergraduate or graduate.OnCampus ecoAmbassadors are not official EPA interns.  Check with your school to see if you can receive credit for completion of projects.

A comprehensive list of activities will be available on this site shortly. The OnCampus ecoAmbassador Program will officially open on Thursday, September 1.

For more information about OnCampus ecoAmbassadors program, check out our brochure or contact

Department of Energy Announces Funding for Nationwide Student-Focused Clean Energy Business Competitions

As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support and empower the next generation of American clean energy entrepreneurs, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $2 million in available funding for the National University Clean Energy Business Challenge. This nationwide initiative will create a network of regional student-focused clean energy business creation competitions whose winners will compete for a National Grand Prize at a completion held at the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. in early summer 2012. The funding will support  up to six regional competitions  that will inspire, mentor, and train students from across the country to develop successful business plans  to create a new generation of American clean energy companies. These regional competitions will take place before May 1, 2012. This national initiative will enable student participants to gain the skills required to build new businesses and transform promising innovative energy technologies from U.S. universities and national laboratories into innovative new energy products that will to solve our nation’s energy challenges, spur business creation, create American jobs, and boost American competitiveness.

“Fostering innovation at America’s universities and producing our nation’s next generation of clean energy entrepreneurs is vital to ensuring our nation’s competiveness in the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” said Secretary Chu. “This investment will train a new generation of scientific and technical leaders and support the Administration’s continued effort to ensure that America has the workforce we need to secure our energy future, create jobs here at home, and win the future.”

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will consider applications that propose annual U.S. university-based business creation competitions for student entrepreneurs with business ideas in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Student teams that participate in the competitions will work with experienced mentors from the energy industry and start up community, along with university and national lab-based researchers, to develop creative business plans for transforming ground-breaking energy technologies into high impact market solutions. The FOA has been posted to FedConnect and is available under the reference number “DE-FOA-0000570.” Applications are due on August 22, 2011.  Selections are expected to be made before the end of September 2011.

This initiative, facilitated by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), aims to increase the number and quality of start-up businesses created with university-based energy technologies and to promote a new generation of energy entrepreneurs. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

From Idea to Implementation: Driving Energy Conservation On the Small College Campus

From Idea to Implementation: Driving Energy Conservation On the Small College Campus summarizes outcomes and lessons learned from an initiative to help small colleges assess their energy usage and institute policies, capital improvements, and programs to improve conservation and efficiency. Emphasizes the need for strong leadership.

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