Day: September 19, 2012

Researchers Turn Used Cooking Oil into Plastics

Read the full story at Earth911.

Soon the same cooking oil used to fry your child’s chicken nuggets could be used to replace your uncle’s hip.

That’s according to scientists at the Society for General Microbiology’s Autumn Conference late last month, who say that bioplastics derived from waste cooking oil could be not only be a viable, ecologically responsible way of producing medical grade plastics, but also a cheaper alternative in the long run.

Study may predict how climate change fosters Great Lakes dead zones

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Scientists are studying how extreme weather associated with climate change may produce more of the algae that creates dead zones in the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

Figuring it out may help them manage the threat algae poses with projected climate changes.

EPA Offering Sustainable Growth Assistance to Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today invited communities to apply for technical assistance to foster sustainable growth in their area. Communities that adopt sustainable growth strategies have been shown to expand economic opportunity and protect people’s health and the environment. EPA is offering assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program, which offers tools that can be applied in rural, suburban, and urban areas, including:

  • Smart growth and economic development to help communities get better financial results from public and private investments
  • Green street strategies for managing polluted stormwater
  • Land use strategies to protect water quality
  • Parking audits to make the best use of parking for existing and planned land uses
  • Bikeshare system planning to create alternative commuting options
  • Community design for aging populations to ensure residents can live at home as long as possible
  • Green building toolkit to overcome common barriers
  • Strategies to help small cities and rural areas develop in ways that retain unique community characteristics

Communities apply for assistance with one of the specific tools and, if selected, work with an EPA-supported team of experts on applying those tools during a two-day workshop. Along with the policies and practices highlighted in each tool, participants will learn more about smart growth development strategies.

EPA will select up to 44 communities through a competitive process for this latest round of assistance.  The selections will be made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.  This interagency collaboration coordinates federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.

Applications will be accepted between September 26 and October 26. EPA will host a webinar to discuss the program and the application process on September 21 from 1:00 to 2:30 Eastern time.

EPA is working to make all the Building Blocks tools available online so that communities can use them on their own.  The first online tool, the Walkability Workbook, can help communities determine how smart growth changes can be beneficial.

Since the Building Blocks program launched in 2010, EPA has received requests for assistance from more than 600 communities across the country and provided assistance to 140. For example, in the Chicago area, EPA worked with three suburbs to develop strategies communities can use to better link their land use strategies with local and regional water quality goals.

Companies that Invest in Sustainability Do Better Financially

Read the full post from Harvard Business Review.

It’s a common misperception that responsible or sustainable investments are all in the hug yourself, warm feeling, good intention category, the inevitable consequence of which is diminished investment return.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past decade, investor demand has increased transparency and communication, creating a large and growing pool of data on corporate sustainability. With this, objective decision-making can happen. Analysis of the data shows two important relationships:

Resource efficient companies — those that use less energy and water and create less waste in generating a unit of revenue — tend to produce higher investment returns than their less resource-efficient rivals.

Environmental Education Regional Grants — Solicitation Notice for 2012

Read the entire solicitation.

Purpose: The purpose of the Environmental Education (EE) Regional Grant Program is to increase public awareness and knowledge about environmental issues and provide the skills that participants in its funded projects need to make informed environmental decisions and take responsible actions toward the environment.

Application Deadline: Applications must be postmarked by November 21, 2012, 11:59 pm local time or submitted electronically via by November 21, 2012, 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) in order to be considered for funding. See Section IV(D) for more details about the deadline.

Number and Value of Awards: The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is approximately $2,160,000 nationwide. EPA expects to award one (1) grant per Region for an expected 10 grants nationwide; the award amount is approximately (but no more than) $216,000, subject to the availability of funds, the quality and quantity of applications received, and other applicable considerations.

Cost Sharing Requirement: Applicants must demonstrate how they will provide non-federal matching funds of at least 25% of the total cost of the project.

Start Date: Applications should plan for projects to start no earlier than February 18, 2013.

Background and Summary

Under this solicitation EPA is seeking grant proposals from eligible applicants to support environmental education projects that promote environmental stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques, as described in this notice, and that will serve as models that can be replicated in a variety of settings. Under this solicitation EPA expects to award environmental education grants from the 10 EPA Regional offices.

Grantees that receive awards under this solicitation must establish methods to document and report measurable results from grant projects. To ensure that grant proposals are competitive, applicants should carefully read Sections IV and V regarding how to structure a proposal and what criteria will be used to evaluate proposals. EPA receives a large number of grant applications under this program and can fund just a small percentage of those applications received.

Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal is for a project for which they (the applicant) have not been previously awarded a grant by EPA’s EE program; or the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, broadening or otherwise enhancing a project previously funded by EPA’s EE Grant Program in such a way that it could serve as a replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques.  In addition, EPA encourages applications for funding of projects that provide a variety and range of educational and environmental priorities, geographic areas, and audiences as compared to the pool of previously funded projects in each Region.  Go to the EPA website to see the list and descriptions of proposals previously funded by this program.

CarbonCure makes concrete go green ‘without compromise’

Read the full story at Financial Post.

Robert Niven can talk at length about the “green” benefits of his concrete-making technology. But if he can’t match or beat the price of traditional methods, he knows few producers will listen.

Walkabout: City to showcase climate action plan

Read the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Some people still deny climate change because there are always people who deny the tough stuff of science. Others don’t deny it but think people don’t cause it. The good news is that more people are deciding that, regardless, we can and should live smarter on the Earth. As of next spring, the city will showcase the climate action plan it initiated in 2006 with the Green Building Alliance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2023 — the sixth floor of the City-County Building.

Two teams of five interior architecture students at Chatham University tied in winning a competition to turn the sixth-floor lobby into Green Central, a hub of information about the city’s action-plan projects and resources to help residents develop their own.

The World’s First Bio-Façade Ready to Grow

Read the full story at Architecture Source.

Architecture that literally grows has grown as a green building concept, though it still generally sees sporadic moments in the sun but no real mainstream uptake.

The notion of bio-architecture, or growing structures or features of structures has always been a green building ideal. Like many other innovative concepts, however, it has never caught on the way many would hope.

In a recent spate of green building concept realizations, however, the world’s first ever bio-adaptive façade is set to become part of a building in Germany.

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