Sustainable Feedstock Contracts

Read the full story on Biodiesel Magazine.

If you are a biodiesel producer, you already believe in sustainability. You already have your RFS pathway and are making the best biodiesel and highest profits possible. Sustainability is part of your DNA, but is it part of your feedstock contracts?

Distrust Your Data: Jacob Harris on Six Ways to Make Mistakes with Data

Read the full post on The Source.

Critique is always annoying when it’s expressed in indefinite terms. So, I’m going to do something I don’t normally like to do and pick a recent example of a data journalism story gone wrong. This is not to scold those who reported it—indeed, I’m well aware of how easy it is for me to make similar mistakes—but because a specific example provides an explicit illustration of how reporting on data can go wrong and what we can learn from it. And so, let’s begin by talking about porn. [LB note: You have been warned.]

Can jaw-dropping visuals change the climate conversation?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

In the wake of the White House’s climate blitz earlier this month, including the latest National Climate Assessment release, I find myself feeling strangely optimistic that America finally might be ready to prepare our homes, cities and public spaces for the impacts of climate change — particularly the effects of sea level rise.

Normally my optimism would be tempered by the sobering fact that Americans today still rank climate change and global warming dead last on the list of environmental priorities for the country.

But I am encouraged and inspired by the rise of what I’m calling resiliency catalysts. These are tools that broaden public awareness on climate change and drive implementation of adaptation strategies. At the cutting edge of this movement are powerful climate visualization tools that, on a higher level, show rather than tell the story of our future.

EPA Adds Clothes Dryers to Energy Star Program, Increasing Energy Efficiency of New Appliances

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the first-ever Energy Star label for clothes dryers. If all residential clothes dryers sold in the U.S. meet these new requirements, the utility cost savings will grow to more than $1.5 billion each year and more than 22 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented. Informed by extensive input from manufacturers, retailers, the U.S. Department of Energy and environmental groups, the new specifications will recognize a selection of highly efficient electric, gas, and compact dryers that will use approximately 20% less energy than what is required by the minimum efficiency standards effective in 2015. In 2013 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $30 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 38 million homes.

“The addition of clothes dryers expands the range of Energy Star products to include one of the most energy-intensive home appliance not yet covered by the program,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Working with industry on innovative approaches to address our changing climate, we are helping consumers select more energy efficient appliances, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.“

Over 80% of U.S. homes have a clothes dryer, and these appliances account for approximately six percent of residential electricity consumption. Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to have improved auto termination sensors, which help reduce energy use by more effectively ending the drying cycle once clothes are dry. Among the more efficient gas and electric dryers that will earn the Energy Star, consumers should expect to encounter a promising new technology.Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. By re-using most of the heat, it creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts leading heat out of the laundry room.

This new Energy Star specification also establishes optional “connected” criteria for residential clothes dryers. Energy Star dryers with connected functionality will offer consumers convenience and energy-savings features, such as an alert indicating there is a performance issue or feedback to consumers on the energy-efficiency of different cycle selections. These products will also be “smart grid” ready, meaning they will give consumers the option to connect their dryer with their local utility to save money on their energy bills, where those services are offered, and also facilitate broader electric power system efficiency.

To earn the Energy Star label, products must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. In addition, manufacturers of the products must participate in verification testing programs operated by recognized certification bodies.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold over the past 20 years. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned the Energy Star label.

Learn more:

Citizen science: Nerds for Nature tracks ecosystem recovery after Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire

Nerds for Nature is a San Francisco-based group of technologists and environmental professionals working to collaboratively build tools to understand, protect, and revive the natural world. One of their goals is to encourage people to use their smart phones as remote sensors to record ecosystem changes. Their pilot project is to document habitat change in the aftermath of the Morgan Fire on Mount Diablo.

From the web site:

On September 8, 2013, 3,111 acres around the summit of Mt. Diablo went up in flames. While the charred landcape can appear alarming, fire is actually a natural part of the mountain’s ecology, and many plants actually require fire to reproduce. We’re trying to monitor how the landscape is changing and recovering after the fire by taking pictures from fixed locations for 1 year after the fire.

Nerds for Nature encourages people to collect data to help researchers study how ecosystems recover from fire.

Green Works for Climate Resilience: A Community Guide to Climate Planning

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The intent of this guide is to provide communities with an overview of the kinds of nature-based approaches that can be used to respond to and prepare for the impacts of climate change, and provide descriptions and examples of the ways in which communities are already working to implement them, ranging from streamlining adaptation into existing zoning to the development of holistic, multi-sector adaptation plans. Nature-based approaches rely on enhancing, protecting, and restoring natural infrastructure, such as coastal wetlands, parks, and tree canopies, as well as features that mimic natural processes, such as rain gardens or green roofs that are used in low-impact development (LID).

Rational Design and Development of Safer Chemicals

Read the full post at the ACS Nexus Blog.

For many years chemists have designed chemicals and materials to have defined functions.  Most scientists feel comfortable with the challenge of designing a material to have a particular color, or flexibility, conductivity, durability, and so on.  Although advancements have been made to enable enhancements in many different chemical functions, it is still a struggle to design chemicals that are less toxic to humans and have minimal environmental impact.

MoDRN.jpgMolecular Design Research Network (MoDRN) is a recent initiative that will help scientists expand their molecular design “toolbox” by helping anticipate the potential toxicity of commercial chemicals.  MoDRN is developing as a collaboration between four universities – Baylor University, George Washington University, University of Washington and Yale University,  –  with the goals of advancing our understanding of chemical hazards and enabling rational design of safer chemicals in the future.

Eric Beckman: Integrating Green

Read the full post at the ACS Nexus Blog.

What will the next twenty years of green chemistry and engineering innovations hold? This is the question that Dr. Eric Beckman seeks to illuminate in his upcoming keynote address at the 18th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Beckman is a professor of engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, an accomplished researcher, entrepreneur, and a proponent of an integrated approach to sustainability education.

UCLA Prof. Develops Class Lab from ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Grant

Read the full post at the ACS Nexus Blog.

In fall 2012, Professor Neil Garg from University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) received a $50K grant from the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable (ACS GCIPR) Medicinal Chemistry team for his project, “Development of Green Nickel-Catalyzed Cross-Coupling Reactions.” This work was in response to the Roundtable’s call for research on alternatives to precious metals in catalyzed reactions; cross-coupling reactions are critical in industry, as they are one of the most used for assembling carbon-carbon and carbon-heteroatom bonds. Not only did Garg and his team achieve these conditions by replacing typically employed palladium catalysts with lower cost, more abundant nickel-based catalysts, they were able to do so in greener solvents (such as 2-Methyltetrahydrofuran (2-Me-THF), which can be derived from renewable feedstocks).

Data visualization: When it’s the wrong tool for the job

Read the full post at Tech Republic.

A picture’s worth a thousand words — as long as it’s the right image for the right audience. Learn best practices for when to use a data visualization and who to invite to those meetings.