Day: August 7, 2014

U.S. Department of Energy Increases Access to Results of DOE-funded Scientific Research

The U.S. Department of Energy is introducing new measures to increase access to scholarly publications and digital data resulting from Department-funded research.

The Energy Department has launched the Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science – PAGES – a web-based portal that will provide free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles within 12 months of publication.

“Increasing access to the results of research funded by the Department of Energy will enable researchers and entrepreneurs to capitalize on our substantial research and development investments,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “These new policies set the stage for increased innovation, commercial opportunities, and accelerated scientific breakthroughs.”

As it grows in content, PAGES will include access to DOE-funded authors’ accepted manuscripts hosted primarily by the Energy Department’s National Labs and grantee institutions, in addition to the public access offerings of publishers. For publisher-hosted content, the Department is collaborating with the publisher consortium CHORUS — the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States.

PAGES contains an initial collection of accepted manuscripts and journal articles as a demonstration of its functionality and eventual expanded content. Additional metadata and links to articles and accepted manuscripts will be added as they are submitted, with anticipated growth of 20,000 to 30,000 articles and manuscripts annually.

The Energy Department’s Office of Science also has issued new requirements regarding management of digital research data by Office of Science-supported researchers. All proposals for research funding submitted to the Office of Science will be required to include a Data Management Plan that describes whether and how the digital research data generated in the course of the proposed research will be shared and preserved.

The new requirements regarding management of digital research data will appear in funding solicitations and invitations issued by the Office of Science beginning Oct. 1, 2014. A statement of the new requirements, including guidance on the development of a Data Management Plan, can be found on the Office of Science website. Other Energy Department research offices will implement data management plan requirements within the next year.

How Hyatt is fostering sustainability from the ground up

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

When Hyatt Thrive, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s global corporate responsibility platform, launched in June 2011, some thought the initiative was little more than a marketing gimmick.

Thrive aimed to “make communities places where Hyatt associates are proud to work, where guests want to visit, where neighbors want to live and where hotel owners want to invest.” But how would this lofty goal translate into concrete actions at a corporation that has more than 90,000 employees at 550-plus properties in 47 countries? Would the corporate mindset truly change?

Corporate responsibility and sustainability consulting firm BrownFlynn sat down with Gebhard Rainer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s executive vice president, chief financial officer and chairman of Hyatt’s Global Corporate Responsibility Council, to find the answer.

Coca-Cola crowdsources 8 ways to reinvent recycling

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

After an 11-week challenge in partnership with design and innovation platform OpenIDEO, the eight winning ideas for Coca-Cola Enterprises’ brief to encourage consumer recycling are as simple as an illustrative sticker and as complicated as a dedicated app.

It’s all in a bid to close the recycling gap, helping consumers develop habits and the inclination to recycle when the packaging materials are designed to be used again.

The agony and ecstasy of a life-cycle design mentality

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Make every decision with the future in mind. In essence, that’s the definition of sustainability. It means doing our part to ensure that our great-grandchildren — and their great-grandchildren — will have the resources they’ll need to maintain a high quality of life.

But for such a simple concept, sustainability requires considerable effort, far more than most people realize. Easy choices are propagated through advertising and media, helping consumers feel good about simple actions such as buying a hybrid SUV or using compostable cups at the coffee shop.

Such actions can offer advantages over traditional alternatives, but they’re just one piece of the sustainability puzzle. Hybrid vehicles do use less fuel per mile, but that benefit can be lost if you drive more because you have an efficient vehicle. Compostable cups are great, but only if they’re actually composted.

To truly understand the pros or cons of our decisions, we must weigh them against other options and measure impact over time. Making sustainable choices requires learning about products — where they come from, how they’re made and where they go when we’re done using them. We have to look holistically at the full life cycle.

Toledo’s poisoned water: Here’s what will make things worse

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Thankfully, the taps are back on in Toledo.

It’s a stunning situation: a major American city perched on the shores of one of the world’s biggest sources of fresh water deprived of clean drinking water due to pollution, failing infrastructure and climate change. All preventable issues.

After a three-day “no drink” ban on water from Lake Erie, folks in northwestern Ohio and nearby communities in Michigan can drink the water again. But it shines a bright national spotlight on the growing issue of Lake Erie’s water quality that has been vexing to Ohioans and Michiganders for some time. And folks in the Buckeye State have to recognize that Ohio unfortunately has moved down a road that could make the issue more frequent.

The sources of the algae bloom are multifaceted. They include an array of water pollution sources (see the suite of blogs posted by NRDC’s Midwest Program staff, including Karen Hobbs and Rob Moore). And it is clear that worsening climate change impacts will continue to exacerbate the issue: more violent storms flush ever-more fertilizer-laden runoff into the lake, while its shallow waters are warmed, making it more susceptible to the algae blooms at the heart of Toledo’s water woes.

Making the Best of New Energy Resources in the United States

Download the document.

Since around 2007, the country has been enjoying an “energy renaissance” thanks to its abundant stocks of shale oil and gas. The resurgence in oil and gas production is beginning to create discernible economic impacts and has changed the landscape for natural gas prices in the United States, boosting competitiveness. In order to reap the benefits fully, significant investment is needed. Federal and state governments capture some of the resource rents, but there are potential opportunities to increase taxation and use the revenues to support future well-being. Taxing natural resource rents with profit taxes can be less distortionary than other forms of taxation, though only one state uses this form of tax. Production of shale resources, like other forms of resource extraction, poses a number of challenges for the environment. Respecting demands on water resources requires adequate water rights are in place while state and federal regulators need to monitor the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing closely and strengthen regulations as needed. Natural gas is a potential “bridge fuel” towards a lower carbon economy, helping to reduce emissions by leading to a substitution away from coal. Flanking measures are desirable to counter natural gas hindering renewables and low prices stymieing innovation.

This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of United States (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/United States).

5 purposeful ways to tame ‘accidental’ data centers

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The best-laid plans for green office buildings are meaningless if the occupants ignore them. Remember the flap last August over how much power the Platinum LEED Bank of America tower in New York was using? Suffice it to say, way more than anticipated.

Few things can skew energy usage more insidiously than the energy for running and cooling random computer servers, storage arrays and network gear shoved into closets or conference rooms originally intended for other purposes. Unfortunately, outside of big Fortune 500 companies that can for data center gurus, this practice is apparently pretty common: the Natural Resources Defense Council figures that at least half of U.S. servers are unmanaged, accounting for between 30 percent and 50 percent of all the electricity being used in small and midsize offices.

“What Happened to Lake Erie?” comic provides back story on toxic algae bloom

Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche have published an online comic telling the story of algae blooms on Lake Erie through a partnership by Years of Living Dangerously and Symbolia Magazine.

20 Urban Food Forests from Around the World

Read the full story at Shareable.

The concept of a food forest has its roots in permaculture, a philosophy that advocates for managing agricultural landscapes in harmony with nature. The practice emphasizes perennial, low-maintenance crops that leverage natural nutrient inputs, drainage patterns and climate to achieve a self-sustaining, food-producing ecosystem. A food forest is quite literally a forest that produces food for people (and, most certainly, forest critters) to eat. Nut and fruit-producing trees and shrubs are planted with herbs, vines and ground flora that produce fruits, vegetables, and edible greens and roots. Urban communities are increasingly taking up the practice as a way to put underutilized city land to work and combine urban agriculture goals with goals for open space, recreation, and community development.

Shattering Myths to Help the Climate

Read the full post at The Upshot.

Each new climate-change study seems more pessimistic than the last. This May and June, for example, were the hottest ones on record for the planet. Storms and droughts occur with increasing frequency. Glaciers are rapidly retreating, portending rising seas that could eventually displace hundreds of millions of people.

Effective countermeasures now could actually ward off many of these threats at relatively modest cost. Yet despite a robust scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are at the root of the problem, legislation to curb them has gone nowhere in Congress. In response, President Obama has proposed stricter regulations on electric utilities, which some scientists warn may be too little, too late.

Why aren’t we demanding more forceful action? One reason may be the frequent incantation of a motley collection of myths, each one rooted in bad economics:

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