Day: September 21, 2012

What’s in a Label? Not Necessarily Sustainability

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Eco-certification programs are losing their impact because there are simply too many rival systems for consumers to keep track of, marketers say. “Once you have too many different logos and certifications hinting at the same thing, it waters down the method,” said Fleur Gadd of Big Picture UK.

The Trillion-Gallon Loophole: Lax Rules for Drillers that Inject Pollutants Into the Earth

Read the full story at ProPublica.

ProPublica analyzed records summarizing more than 220,000 well inspections conducted between late 2007 and late 2010, including more than 194,000 for Class 2 wells. We also reviewed federal audits of state oversight programs, interviewed dozens of experts and explored court documents, case files, and the evolution of underground disposal law over the past 30 years.

Our examination shows that, amid growing use of Class 2 wells, fundamental safeguards are sometimes being ignored or circumvented. State and federal regulators often do little to confirm what pollutants go into wells for drilling waste. They rely heavily on an honor system in which companies are supposed to report what they are pumping into the earth, whether their wells are structurally sound, and whether they have violated any rules.

Shingle Recycling Helps Green Roof Repair

Read the full story at Earth911.

The phrase “putting a roof over your head” is rarely taken literally but for homeowners, it can be quite relevant. After all, the right roofing system can save money on energy costs and protect a house from weather damage, while also reducing its environmental footprint.

Any change in season is a good time to evaluate a roof’s performance and repair needs. Making an assessment in late summer or early fall means there is time to tackle projects before the winter weather arrives, and optimal visibility thanks to more sunshine and longer days.

A shingled roof can last more than 20 years, but ensuring its longevity involves maintenance and repair. Keep in mind, spending a few hundred dollars to repair a roof can prolong its life and help avoid bigger repairs down the road. It’s also important to remember when replacing roofing shingles that the material is recyclable. Each year, millions of tons of recyclable shingles are removed in the U.S. and many are sent to landfills.

Here are some tips and tools for a successful and eco-minded roof repair.

The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World

Read the full story at Wired.

Take the subway to an otherwise undistinguished part of Third Avenue in Brooklyn. Knock on the door. Wait for some stylishly disheveled young man to open it and let you in. You’ve arrived at the BotCave—the place where 125 factory workers are creating the future of manufacturing.

The BotCave is home to MakerBot, a company that for nearly four years has been bringing affordable 3-D printers to the masses. But nothing MakerBot has ever built looks like the new printer these workers are currently constructing. The Replicator 2 isn’t a kit; it doesn’t require a weekend of wrestling with software that makes Linux look easy. Instead, it’s driven by a simple desktop application, and it will allow you to turn CAD files into physical things as easily as printing a photo. The entry-level Replicator 2, priced at $2,199, is for generating objects up to 11 by 6 inches in an ecofriendly material; the higher-end Replicator 2X, which costs $2,799, can produce only smaller items, up to 9 by 6 inches, but it has dual heads that let it print more sophisticated objects. With these two machines, MakerBot is putting down a multimillion-dollar wager that 3-D printing has hit its mainstream moment.

Winners of Hydrogen Student Design Contest Turn Urban Waste into Energy

Read the full story at The Energy Blog. Registration for the 2013 Hydrogen Student Design Contest is open until October 1, 2012.

How do you combine urban waste, hydrogen, and heat recovery into one power system?

A team of University of Maryland undergraduate and graduate engineering students designed a solution to this question as part of the Hydrogen Student Design Contest — a competition supported by the Energy Department to challenge university students to design hydrogen energy applications for real-world use. With a different theme every year, this year’s contest required teams to plan and design a combined heat, hydrogen, and power (CHHP) system (also known as a “tri-generation” system) for their university campus using local resources.

The Maryland team, which won for its tri-generation design, had to think creatively to overcome a challenge associated with its campus’s urban location. During the first phase of the contest — developing a feedstock analysis — the students realized their campus didn’t have enough waste to produce sufficient energy for the fuel cell system design. As an innovative solution, they opted to use waste from the nearby City of College Park in addition to their campus source to feed their CHHP design.

Why Lies Often Stick Better Than Truth

Read the full post in Chronicle of Higher Education’s The Percolater.

Vaccines cause autism. President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Somehow, many debunked ideas still have believers. New research explains why attempts to dissuade people may strengthen their belief.

SEDAC Energy Efficiency Workshops

Attend the latest workshop series geared toward facility managers, owners, users, designers, and engineers of commercial buildings, public K-12 schools, community colleges, universities, park districts, libraries, local governments, water and waste water treatment facilities.

Learn about various energy topics and the latest incentives available from DCEO and Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor, North Shore and Peoples Gas.

Free continental breakfast and lunch will be served at each workshop location.

Register at

Act Smart, Save Energy: How To Make Your Building More Energy Efficient
Target audience: Building owners, users, managers and stakeholders

  • October 2, 2012: 9:00AM to 1:00PM — Illini Center, Chicago, IL
  • October 11, 2012: 8:30AM to 12:30PM — Illinois Central College, Peoria, IL
  • October 30, 2012: 8:30AM to 12:30PM — University of Illinois Business Innovation Services, Naperville, IL

High Performance Design: Designing Buildings Beyond Code
Target audience: Architects and Engineers

  • October 10, 2012: 9:00AM to 1:00PM — Illini Center, Chicago, IL

Getting To Efficiency: Tips For Managing & Retrofitting Your Building
Target audience: Operators and Managers of existing buildings

  • October 25, 2012: 8:30AM to 12:15PM — SouthWestern Illinois College, Belleville, IL
  • November 1, 2012:  9:00AM to 1:00PM — Illini Center, Chicago, IL

GM Scraps Transformed into Coats for Homeless

Read the full story at Earth911.

When General Motors has leftover sound-absorbing materials from the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano, it doesn’t just recycle the material. Instead, GM donates the material to Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan.

Scott then turns the material into self-heated waterproof coats that can be converted into sleeping bags. These coats are then distributed to homeless individuals in Detroit and other cities.

Supermarket Waste: Where Does It Go?

Read the full story at Earth911.

At some point, you have probably found yourself in a grocery store wondering what happens to the overripe bananas or the holiday-themed sheet cakes that do not sell. All of those things can’t end up in the trash, can they?

In the past, that might have been the case. However, organic food waste recycling is an up-and-coming industry that provides supermarkets an alternative to sending their unusables to landfills.

Center for Ocean Solutions

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2012.

The Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) is located in Monterey, California, and
“works to solve the major problems facing the ocean.” COS was founded by
three partners with similar commitments: the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the Hopkins Marine Station of
Stanford University. On the homepage, visitors can browse through a Featured
News area and also look over video clips which explore topics like “Can
Coral Reefs Survive the 21st Century?” Moving on, the materials on the site
are divided into six sections, including Research Libraries, Publications,
and Videos & Podcasts. Scholars and marine scientists should look over the
Publications area to see a list of recent publications by COS researchers
and affiliates arranged by topic. Finally, the podcasts are quite good, and
they include discussions of dropping ocean oxygen levels and climate change
adaptation. [KMG]

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