Day: May 25, 2012

Energy Department Announces First Product to Meet the Commercial Rooftop Air Conditioner Challenge

As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to help American families and businesses save money on their energy bills, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge. Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem—are participating in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance. The companies have until April 1, 2013 to submit a product for independent evaluation according to the specification. When built to meet the specification, these units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50% over current standards. Nationwide, if all 10 to 20 ton RTUs met the specification, businesses would save over $1 billion each year in energy costs, helping American companies better compete on a global scale.

Manufacturers nationwide have a strong motivation to produce highly energy-efficient air conditioning units for commercial buildings. Members in DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Alliances (CBEA), such as Target, Walmart, and other participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in equipment that meets the new energy efficiency specification at an affordable price. The Department of Energy is evaluating potential demonstration sites for high performing products that meet the RTU Challenge. In addition, the Department is also developing analytical tools that enable businesses to more accurately estimate the energy and cost savings of using high performance RTUs in their facilities.

The RTU Challenge, aimed at spurring the market introduction of cost-effective, high-performance commercial rooftop unit air conditioners, was announced in January 2011. The specification that underpins the RTU Challenge was developed by DOE technical experts and informed by industry partners.

The final participant list was announced by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, at the Energy Department’s first CBEA Efficiency Forum, a public stakeholder engagement event hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. In addition to today’s announcements, the forum also featured a series of information exchanges on other energy efficiency initiatives that are underway. A full meeting report will be available on the CBEA Web page in the coming weeks. CBEA is comprised of building owners, managers, and operators that collaborate with the Energy Department and with each other to develop and deploy best practices, key decision-making tools, and advanced technologies for significant energy savings.


The majority of the world’s population drinks from rivers and streams that have received discharges from upstream users. In most of the industrialized developed world, there are treated wastewater discharges that become a source of drinking water supply for downstream users. It is nothing new. We’ve been doing it for centuries. What is new is that today’s technology makes it cleaner and safer. Water reuse is the key to a sustainable future.

Learn more about the Downstream Research Study and watch the video here.

Expanding the Shareable Economy to the Neighbors’ Dirty Laundry

Read the full story at GOOD.

French laundromats, attention! The peer-to-peer community is coming for you. A new online project called La Machine du Voisin (French for “the neighbor’s machine”) aims to eliminate trips to that dreaded destination, where hours are wasted waiting around under bad lighting. But the alternative proposed—while creative—is definitely not for everyone.

Much like other sharing platforms that have turned parked cars, stowed power tools, and temporarily vacant bedrooms into valuable commodities that can be rented out for cash, La Machine du Voisin transforms a home’s washing machine and dryer. Like an online marketplace for laundry, machine owners put a price per wash on a washer-dryer cycle—the going rate is between 3 and 5 Euros. Those with dirty clothes who lack their own laundry machines can search for one nearby with the best rate.

EPA Guides Marinas on Best Ways to Prevent Water Pollution

With Memorial Day and summer approaching, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recommending that New York State marinas take steps to prevent the pollution of local waterways. At the Albany Yacht Club this morning, EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck highlighted the best environmental practices for reducing pollution from boat washing and other maintenance activities that can degrade water quality. These practices are captured in an easy-to-read manual created by the EPA with assistance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It has been provided to over 500 marina operators throughout New York State and provides recommendations on ways marina owners and operators can reduce pollution through more efficient use of materials, energy and land.

“Marina operators play important roles in protecting the health of our coastal waters and beaches,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The products used in boat maintenance often contain chemicals that can cause serious damage to the marine environment. The EPA is working with the marina industry to ensure that marina operators are aware of the best practices for reducing pollution and make every effort to prevent pollution from occurring.”

Cleaning products and toxic chemicals used in boat maintenance can pollute waterways when they are washed into the water when it rains. The effect of runoff from a single boat or marina on a water body may seem insignificant, but when multiplied, it can degrade water quality. Because marinas are located at the water’s edge, the water is affected by maintenance practices and pollution that flows into the water from surrounding areas.

Earlier this year, the EPA entered into legal agreements with three Westchester County marinas for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The marinas had each failed to renew their stormwater permits and failed to conduct annual monitoring associated with stormwater discharges, which is required under the permits. The Huguenot Yacht Club of New Rochelle, the Beach Point Club of Mamaroneck and the American Yacht Club of Rye each agreed to pay penalties ranging from $8,500 to $9,900 to settle these violations.

Key recommendations for preventing water pollution from boat operations and maintenance:

  • Regularly inspect above-ground fuel storage tanks and associated piping for leaks, and ensure that these tanks have secondary containment areas to certain spills.
  • Store spill containment and control materials in a clearly marked and easily accessible location attached or adjacent to the fuel dock.  Keep oil absorbent pads and pillows available at the fuel dock for staff and customers to mop up drips and small spills.
  • Avoid underwater boat bottom cleaning or hull scraping to remove antifouling paint from boat hulls.
  • Make every attempt to collect wash water, treat it and either dispose of it at a sewage treatment plant or recycle it.
  • Perform as much boat repair and maintenance as practicable inside work buildings.  Where an inside workspace is not available, perform abrasive blasting and sanding with spray booths or tarp enclosures.
  • Use cleaning products that are less toxic and contain lower concentrations of volatile organic compounds, ozone depleting chemicals and toxic materials.  Always clean with water and a coarse cloth first.
  • Permanently seal floor drains in maintenance areas with concrete if they do not connect to a sewer or holding tank.  Sweep or vacuum floors often and immediately before floor washing.
  • Use propylene glycol antifreeze (usually pink), which is less toxic than ethylene glycol (usually green) to winterize all systems except “closed” or freshwater cooling systems.
  • Minimize impervious areas on the marina site by paving only where absolutely necessary.  Plant a vegetated filter strip or buffer between impervious areas and the marina basin.

EPA Region 2’s Best Management Practices for Marinas are available at:

Train Wagon Transformed into Clever Street Library in Curitiba, Brazil

Read the full post at Treehugger.

Urban interventions to turn old structures into useful facilities for society (read: phone boots converted into book shelves) might seem like a recent trend, but it has been happening for decades. It is our increasing awareness about the finiteness of materials and the need to avoid waste that make us look at these with interest.

They are, nonetheless, great, and when the goal of the recovery process is to use such structures for cultural activities they’re even better.

Located in downtown Curitiba, Brazil since 1973, this recycled train wagon I bumped into while visiting the city a few weeks ago has served different functions over the years. It was first a children care unit to relieve parents when they were shopping or working around, and in the second half of the 1980s it became a tourist information point.

Around 1989 it was recovered as a cultural space, but only in 2010 was it revitalized once more to become what it is today: the Bondinho da Leitura, an open library that offers free books to residents.

EPA Recognizes Ohio Student’s Environmental Project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized a Powell, Ohio, high school student’s extraordinary efforts to divert thousands of pounds of electronic waste from landfills with the 2011 regional President’s Environmental Youth Award. EPA presented Sachin Rudraraju with the award on May 22 at the Solid Waste Agency of Central Ohio annual awards recognition event in Columbus.

The President’s Environmental Youth Awards program is an annual contest sponsored by EPA to honor creative environmental projects developed and implemented by K-12 students. One outstanding project from each region is selected for national recognition.

Sachin founded the Community Recycling Campaign to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of electronic waste, provide alternative solutions to costly computer recycling programs and offer a service to make recycling easier. CRC volunteers refurbish salvageable computers and electronics and donate them to local charities, keeping electronic waste out of landfills.

President’s Environmental Youth Award Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have participated in the program. The winning regional project was chosen from entries submitted by students in EPA Region 5’s six states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

More information about the President’s Environmental Youth Awards is available on EPA’s website:

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