Day: September 2, 2014

Accounting for the Expanding Carbon Shadow From Coal-Burning Plants

Read the full post at Dot Earth.

Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine, and Robert Socolow of Princeton (best known for his work dividing the climate challenge into carbon “wedges”) have written “Commitment accounting of CO2 emissions,” a valuable new paper in Environmental Research Letters showing the value of shifting from tracking annual emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants to weighing the full amount of carbon dioxide that such plants, burning coal or gas, could emit during their time in service.

EPA staff policy assessment recommends reduction in ozone standard from 75 ppb to 60-70 ppb

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

The staff of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has released the final version of the policy assessment (PA) for the review of the ozone (O3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Among the staff recommendations are to further reduce the primary ozone standard from the current 75 ppb (parts per billion) to a revised level within the range of 70 ppb to 60 ppb—and preferably below 70 ppb.

New Database Tracks Ecological Health Impacts of Dams on World’s Rivers

Via Yale Environment360.

A newly launched online database illustrates the impacts of nearly 6,000 dams on the world’s 50 major river basins, ranking their ecological health according to indicators of river fragmentation, water quality, and biodiversity. The “State of the World’s Rivers” project was developed by the advocacy organization International Rivers and created using Google Earth. Users can compare the health of individual river basins, see the locations of existing and planned dams, and explore 10 of the most significant river basins in more depth. For example, as this map of China’s Yangtze basin shows, at least 374 dams already exist in the basin, and at least another 167 are under construction or planned to be built. The ecological health of the region is showing signs of collapse, the database entry says: A 2014 study found that fish species in the Yangtze drastically decreased from 143 to 17 over the course of one year, due to overfishing and dam construction. The 6,000 dams represented in the database are a small percentage of the more than 50,000 large dams that impact the world’s rivers, the organization notes.

Illinois Water Resources Center Annual Small Grants: Student Research Awards 2015 Call for Proposals

Due: Friday, October 31, 2014

The Illinois Water Resources Center (IWRC) requests proposals to fund promising graduate and undergraduate student research projects addressing Illinois water resources. We are particularly interested in projects that seek solutions for or provide novel identification of pressing water concerns in Illinois. PI’s can request up to $10,000. Project duration is March 1, 2015February 28, 2016.

For more information visit:


Lisa Merrifield

SEE Action Webinar – Community Based Social Marketing

Thursday, September 25, 2014 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM CDT
Register at

This webinar will describe community-based social marketing as a behavior-based approach for developing energy-efficiency programs. The webinar will begin with an overview of the five steps involved in developing and delivering a community-based social marketing program including methods for prioritizing and selecting target behaviors, identifying barriers and benefits, leveraging behavior change tools, pilot testing, and evaluation. Each presentation will also cover case studies of scalable programs that have successfully applied the community-based social marketing model or its components to promote energy-efficiency and conservation behaviors.

SEE Action Webinar – Energy Efficiency Measure Cost Studies

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM CDT
Register at

In this webinar, leading experts will explain the importance of measure cost studies, review the current “state of the science” of measure cost development and estimation, and explore opportunities for future collaboration and advancement of measure cost research.   Presenters will provide an overview of the regulatory and program planning applications of measure cost data, explain the limitations of ad hoc sources of such data, and provide examples of successful development of ex ante measure costs from recent work in California and the Northeast.  Panelists will also provide lessons learned and recommendations for increasing the value of measure cost studies moving forward.

13 companies sowing solutions for food resilience

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Could Big Data offer the most fertile solution for countering systemic food waste and frightening future scarcity scenarios?

Last month Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and dozens of other companies started sowing the seeds for a crop of powerful applications and information resources enabled by the convergence of sensors, sophisticated imagery and powerful analytics — and inspired by the federal Climate Data Initiative.

Their focus: “food resilience” innovations that help agricultural businesses, farmers and food distributors more quickly understand the potential impacts of floods, rising sea levels, heat waves and droughts, downpours and other extreme weather on crop yields, transportation systems, storage and other supply-chain processes.

Are students getting the sustainability skills they need?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Today, Net Impact publishes its ninth annual survey of social and environmental graduate school programs, called “Business As UNusual” (download). The title notwithstanding, it reveals that such programs have become woven into the fabric of many college and university curricula — that teaching sustainability is, indeed, business as usual on campuses these days.

That doesn’t necessarily mean these programs are equipping today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges.

Bond Financing Distributed Water systems: How to Make Better Use of Our Most Liquid Market for Financing Water infrastructure

Download the document. Requires free registration.

Across the country, communities are experiencing more extreme hydrology. In some places, this takes the form of deepening drought that necessitates stronger commitments to conservation. In others, it takes the form of more frequent flooding that overwhelms water infrastructure, sending raw sewage into urban rivers or even into city streets. Some places are experiencing both intensifying drought and flood.

As a growing number of water planners across the country are recognizing, these challenges cannot be solved solely by building new reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants. Given current financial and ecological constraints, utilities will have to embrace a new form of infrastructure if they intend to provide reliable, reasonably priced water services.

Measuring & Mitigating Water Revenue Variability: Understanding How Pricing Can Advance Conservation Without Undermining Utilities’ Revenue Goals

Download the document. Requires registration to download.

As water utilities across North America undertake capital campaigns to finance the replacement and expansion of their systems, the need for confident revenue projections grows. Yet many water utilities are subject to factors that can affect revenue variability, including volatile weather patterns and a growing imperative to conserve scarce water resources. As a result, it is more important than ever to anticipate how changing water use patterns and rates drive revenue risk.

Despite being essential service providers, water utilities experience unavoidable variability in their revenue stream. This revenue variability is driven by many factors: changing population, varying customer demands, unpredictable weather patterns, and even rate structures. While it is unrealistic to expect utilities to eradicate revenue variability, utilities can understand its root causes and incorporate it into their overall resource and finance planning.

This report examines real financial and water use data from three North American water utilities to demonstrate how rate structures can mitigate or intensify revenue variability. It also introduces alternative financial and pricing strategies that can assist water utilities in stabilizing revenue without compromising the commitment to water conservation.

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