Day: August 12, 2013

Texas: turning substandard cotton into eco-friendly products

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Immature cotton due to Texas droughts is being turned into oil-spill wipes and decontaminants. But does this innovation mask the true environmental problems?

U.S. system for flagging hazardous chemicals is widely flawed

Read the full story at PlanetArk.

A 27-year-old U.S. program intended to warn the public of the presence of hazardous chemicals is flawed in many states due to scant oversight and lax reporting by plant owners, a Reuters examination finds.

Stained glass window captures solar energy

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

The Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, Saskatechewan, recently installed stained glass windows embedded with solar panels that will be connected to the local electrical grid.

How ‘water tech’ enables commercial scale water solutions

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The need for increased innovation and investment in the water industry is clear. However, there are challenges in commercializing innovative water technologies to address water scarcity and quality issues.

How Kroger turned food waste into warehouse-powering energy

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Every day, some 300 Ralphs and Food 4 Less grocery stores produce 150 tons of food waste. Until recently, all that food would get trucked to a distribution center in Compton, Calif., where it was combined and sent to a composter 100 miles away.

But now that food waste, which used to represent a cost in terms of both money and emissions, is providing cheap, clean energy for the distribution center.

How ASU aims to create sustainability leaders in business

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

For the last several years, Arizona State University has been on something of a sustainability binge. Slowly but steadily — and relatively quietly — it has amassed an impressive coterie of talent, some from traditional academic backgrounds, others from the practitioner world. In 2006 ASU became the first U.S. school to boast a School of Sustainability. ASU co-hosts (along with the University of Arkansas) The Sustainability Consortium, a group of companies, NGOs and others working to develop science-based tools to embed sustainability into consumer products.

And then there’s the Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of much of this activity. Created in 2004 by a large grant from Julie Ann Wrigley (widow of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley) and bolstered last year by an even larger grant from Rob and Melani Walton (Rob is the eldest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton), the Institute has created a head-spinning constellation of initiatives, programs, centers and events. [Disclosure: GreenBiz Group is partnering with both the Institute and The Sustainability Consortium for our 2014 GreenBiz Forum.]

iTree Calculates the Economic Worth of Urban Canopies Down to the Dollar

Read the full story in Governing.

With so many states and localities pruning money from parks and tree-planting programs to balance budgets, the free application from the U.S. Forest Service helps public officials put a monetary value on the benefits of growing them.

Phyto Kinetic: Green-Roofed Buses Add a Breath of Fresh Air to the Urban Jungle

Read the full post at Inhabitat.

How would you like to be transported to work in a moving garden? If Marc Granen has anything to do with it, you may be able to. The landscape artist, who we discovered through Urban Gardens, has developed a green roof for buses called Phyto Kinetic. Since green spaces are so valuable for human environments, and since cities just don’t have a lot of open space, Granen came up with the idea of using areas that already exist to create that green space, even if they are on four wheels. In a city like New York that has thousands of buses, adding the Phyto Kinetic system to each one would create over a 100,000 square meters of air-purifying green space in the city.

The Impact of Urban Farming in New York City

Read the full story from the Sustainable Cities Collective.

Urban farming has the potential to become a global green evolution, improving the economy, sustainability and health of our urban communities. From North Minneapolis and Milwaukee to Cairo and Montreal, urban farms and gardens are sprouting up as a solution to maximize the use of natural resources such as solar energy, advocating healthy lifestyles and even teaching job skills.

Three Strategies for Refueling Abandoned Gas Stations

Read the full post at ThisBigCity.

There’s a volatile mix of trends behind the steady evaporation of American gas stations—everything from market consolidation to tightening margins on retail sales. The forces at work are economically epic, structurally complex beasts beyond the remedy of any singular shift in market behavior or regulatory policy. In general, gas stations tend to play only a tangential role in broader discussions about the sustainability of automobile use and fossil fuels, but in terms of the sustainable city’s built environment and local land use decisions, gas stations couldn’t play a more central role. There are already local governments grappling with how to reclaim abandoned gas stations, many of which are identified by the EPA as petroleum brownfields that require costly and time-consuming remediation. To a developer, a gas station’s highly specialized site layout and environmental risks make for an undesirable and needlessly complicated investment. As a result, many sit along the street boarded up and in disrepair. Forgotten, they are striking, even artistic, in what they symbolize: an old way of life in decline, but a decline that presents a possibility for change in values, purpose, and use.

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