PSU waste sort reveals opportunities

Read the full story from Portland State University. You can also download the full report.

With the goal of providing recommendations for improving waste diversion and reduction efforts on campus, university staff sorted through 690 pounds of campus garbage to find out what portion of materials could have been diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting, or avoided altogether by using durable goods. Recommendations to lower the percentage of materials that could have been composted (35 percent) and recycled (13 percent) include increased collection and education, enhanced recycling infrastructure and signage, and replacing restroom paper towels with efficient air hand driers.

Food fight: White Castle vs biofuels

Read the full story at Smart Planet.

U.S. chain restaurants and a group of congressmen are launching an assault against biofuels on the grounds that fuel produced from crops like corn are pushing up food prices.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill this Thursday, the president of burger chain White Castle will join the owner of a Wendy’s franchise and other meat movers to demand the repeal of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS requires transportation fuels to contain a minimum complement of renewables. That includes ethanol which is produced from corn, a crop that has long fed the cattle that the food industry turns into burgers and steaks that groups like White Castle and Wendy’s sell.

DOE Publishes Notice of Final Rule for Microwave Oven Standby and Off Mode Standards

The Department of Energy (DOE) has published a Federal Register notice of final rule establishing amended energy conservation standards for microwave ovens in the standby and off modes. 78 FR 36316 (June 17, 2013).

  • Find more information on the rulemaking, including milestones, statutory authority, rulemaking documents, and any other related rulemakings.
  • All notices, public comments, public meeting transcripts, and supporting documents associated with this rulemaking are included in Docket No. EERE-2011-BT-STD-0048.
  • Find product information about current standards and test procedures; recent product updates; waivers, exceptions, and exemptions; the statutory authority; historical information; and contact information.

Database helps building owners, investors evaluate energy-efficient buildings

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

A new database of building features and energy use data helps building managers, owners, real estate investors and lenders evaluate the financial results of energy efficiency investment projects and identify high- and low-performing buildings.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Building Performance Database (BPD) is being developed by a team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Environmental Energy Technologies Division led by Staff Scientist Paul Mathew. Berkeley Lab is partnering with Building Energy Inc. (Portland, Ore.) for the software implementation. Building Energy Inc. specializes in software solutions to integrate disparate building energy use and characteristics data sets.

New type of nanosheet offers fast pollutant degradation

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Waste from textile and paint industries often contains organic dyes such as methylene blue as pollutants. Photocatalysis is an efficient means of reducing such pollution, and molybdenum trioxide (MoO3) catalyzes this degradation. Researchers from Bangalore, India, led by C. N. R. Rao now report no less than four methods to produce nanosheets made of very few layers of MoO3. This material is more efficient as a photocatalyst than bulk MoO3, they write in Chemistry—An Asian Journal.

Webinar: Understanding the Role of Behavioral Change in Implementing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects

Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:30-2 pm CDT
Register at

This webinar examines the pivotal role of behavioral change in implementing sustainability projects, specifically the development of renewable energy projects and energy efficiency efforts at federal facilities.  The webinar describes concrete steps to install large scale photovoltaic arrays, improved boiler efficiency, and procure energy efficient products.