The Case of the Missing Gas Mileage

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Contrary to common perception, the major automakers have produced large increases in fuel efficiency through better technology in recent decades. There’s just one catch: All those advances have barely increased the mileage per gallon that autos actually achieve on the road.

Sound perplexing? This situation is the result of a trend newly quantified by MIT economist Christopher Knittel: Because automobiles are bigger and more powerful than they were three decades ago, major innovations in fuel efficiency have only produced minor gains in gas mileage.

Delivering Energy Efficiency to Middle Income Single Family Households

Download the document from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The question posed in this report is: How can programs motivate middle income single family households to seek out more comprehensive energy upgrades, and empower them to do so? Research methods included interviews with more than 35 program administrators, policymakers, researchers, and other experts; case studies of programs, based on interviews with staff and a review of program materials and data; and analysis of relevant data sources and existing research on demographics, the financial status of Americans, and the characteristics of middle income American households.

Upper Mississippi River Essay Contest

Prairie Rivers Network and 1 Mississippi River are hosting an essay contest inspired by the Upper Mississippi River.  For details visit Please note that contestants must be current residents of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, or Wisconsin and at least 18 years old.

YouTube for Schools

Google recently announced YouTube for Schools, which gives you a way to access educational videos from inside your school network. YouTube for Schools gives schools the ability to access a broad set of educational videos on YouTube EDU and to select the specific videos that are accessible from within your school network.

See also YouTube’s Teachers Channel, which includes playlists of videos that are aligned with common core educational standards.

Gasification system turns coffee processing waste to energy

Read the full story at EcoSeed.

The University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center is developing a gasification power system to produce energy from coffee-processing plant waste.

Piloting at the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters with energy solutions company Wynntryst L.L.C. in Vermont, the center’s process uses waste stream – which includes coffee residues, plastic packaging, paper, cloth or burlap and plastic cups – to produce biogas.

UW-Waukesha Undergoing Energy Audit

Read the full story from the University of Wisconsin Waukesha.

In an effort to make the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha more energy efficient, an in-depth energy analysis of all campus facilities is underway by Honeywell. The audit, which began on Nov. 30, will take five to six months to complete, said Mike Riemer, building superintendent.

The purpose of this analysis is to identify opportunities for energy savings and infrastructure improvements in regards to lighting, mechanical, electrical, water, building envelope and other areas. Based upon a preliminary analysis, Honeywell has identified savings opportunities in excess of 20%.

Federal Funding Available for State, Local, and Tribal Governments

CNCS AmeriCorps State and National Indian Tribes Planning Grants – TBD

Application Due: January 18, 2012
Eligible Entities: Federally recognized Indian tribes.
The purpose of planning grants is to support the development of AmeriCorps programs that will engage AmeriCorps members in evidence-based interventions to solve community problems. The Corporation for National and Community Service will target AmeriCorps funding in six focus areas, one of which is Environmental Stewardship. Environmental Stewardship grants will provide direct services that contribute to increased energy and water efficiency, renewable energy use, or improving at-risk ecosystems, and support increased citizen behavioral change leading to increased efficiency, renewable energy use, and ecosystem improvements, particularly for economically disadvantaged households and economically disadvantaged communities.
DOI WaterSMART: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants for FY 2012 – $18 million
Application Due: January 19, 2012
Eligible Entities: States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, or other organizations with water or power delivery authority. Applicants must also be located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands.
The DOI WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Program establishes a framework to provide federal leadership and assistance on the efficient use of water, integrating water and energy policies to support the sustainable use of all natural resources, and coordinating the water conservation activities of various DOI bureaus and offices. DOI invites eligible entities to leverage their money and resources by cost sharing with the Bureau of Reclamation on projects that seek to conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency, benefit endangered and threatened species, facilitate water markets, or carry out other activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent any water-related crisis or conflict.
EPA Urban Waters Small Grants – $1.8 to $3.8 million
Application Due: January 23, 2012
Eligible Entities: States, local governments, territories, Indian tribes, and possessions of the United States; public and private universities and colleges; public or private nonprofit institutions; intertribal consortia; and interstate agencies.
The goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants is to fund research, studies, training, and demonstration projects that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities. In general, projects should promote a comprehensive understanding of local water quality issues; identify and support activities that address these issues at the local level; engage, educate, and empower communities surrounding the urban water body; and benefit surrounding communities, including those that have been adversely affected by the water pollution issues affecting the urban water body.
For more information, visit:
DOE Smart Grid Data Access Funding Opportunity – $8 million
Application Due: March 1, 2012
Eligible Entities: State and local governments, federally recognized tribes.
The U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory is seeking applications aimed at empowering consumers to better manage their electricity use by enabling access to electricity consumption data by customers and their authorized third parties, and providing or supporting the use of third-party tools and software products that use the available data to deliver a value-added service to the customer. Projects under this Funding Opportunity Announcement will be composed of two phases. Under Phase I, applicants will need to demonstrate the capability for electricity customers and or designated third parties to access their usage data and the functionality of their proposed tool or software product to provide this access. Phase II involves adoption of the tools and software products demonstrated in Phase I to an entire service territory, region, or community within the jurisdiction of the applicant or the utility partner of the applicant.
TFN’s Local Sustainability Matching Fund $750,000
Application Due: March 5, 2012
Eligible Entities: Partnerships between sustainability directors and local, place-based foundations. A sustainability director can include any person who leads a multi-department and community-wide urban sustainability initiative from within a local government or an Urban Sustainability Directors Network member from throughout North America.
In partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) has announced the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. TFN is a membership organization that helps grant makers across North America advance strategies to create fair, prosperous, and sustainable regions and communities.
The Matching Fund will provide matching investments from national foundations on a competitive basis to build partnerships between local sustainability directors and local place-based foundations to advance discrete sustainability initiatives. Partnership investments will be between $25,000 and $75,000, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local place-based foundations. The pool will support approximately nine to ten partnership projects in the first year for projects to be carried out over a twelve-month period, in most cases.
An information call for interested applicants will be held on January 24, 2012 at 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern. To register for the call, visit: For more information about the funding opportunity, visit:
USDA 2012 Hazardous Fuels Woody Biomass Utilization Grant $3 million
Application Due: March 31, 2012
Eligible Entities: State and local governments, federally recognized tribes, businesses, companies, corporations, school districts, communities, non-profit organizations, and special purpose districts.
The U.S. Forest Service requests proposals for wood energy projects that require engineering services. These projects will use woody biomass, such as material removed from forest restoration activities, wildfire hazardous fuel treatments, insect and disease mitigation, and/or forest management due to catastrophic weather events. The woody biomass shall be used in a bioenergy facility that uses commercially proven technologies to produce thermal, electrical, or liquid/gaseous bioenergy. The funds from grant program must be used to further the planning of such facilities by funding the engineering services necessary for final design and cost analysis.