Day: September 3, 2014

World Water Week: we must replicate Stockholm’s water improvements

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a priority and business has a huge role to play. What took Stockholm three decades to achieve, could be done globally in half the time.

Facing Climate Change, Cities Embrace Resiliency

Read the full story in Governing.

Lacking substantial state or federal support, local governments throughout the country are using natural disasters as a way to get their infrastructure, personnel and budgets better prepared for the next.

New study reviews needs for research on health effects of fracking

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

A new paper by a working group of NIEHS grantees echoes prior recommendations for fracking research, but adds a novel twist with a call for community engagement, to frame the development of credible science as a foundation for evidence-based decision-making.

Led by Trevor Penning, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), the Inter-Environmental Health Sciences Core Center Working Group on Unconventional Natural Gas Drilling Operations issued its recommendations for research on fracking in a commentary published July 18 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Recent review articles related to fracking’s health and environmental impacts

M.L. Finkel, J. Hays (2013). “The implications of unconventional drilling for natural gas: a global public health concern.” Public Health 127(10), 889–893. DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2013.07.005.

Abstract: Unconventional drilling for natural gas by means of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is an important global public health issue. Given that no sound epidemiologic study has been done to assess the extent of exposure-related adverse health effects among populations living in areas where natural gas extraction is going on, it is imperative that research be conducted to quantify the potential risks to the environment and to human health not just in the short-term, but over a longer time period since many diseases (i.e., cancers) appear years after exposure. It should not be concluded that an absence of data implies that no harm is being done.

R. D. Vidic, S. L. Brantley, J. M. Vandenbossche, D. Yoxtheimer, J. D. Abad (2013). “Impact of Shale Gas Development on Regional Water Quality.” Science 340(6134), 826-835. DOI: 10.1126/science.1235009.

Abstract: Unconventional natural gas resources offer an opportunity to access a relatively clean fossil fuel that could potentially lead to energy independence for some countries. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing make the extraction of tightly bound natural gas from shale formations economically feasible. These technologies are not free from environmental risks, however, especially those related to regional water quality, such as gas migration, contaminant transport through induced and natural fractures, wastewater discharge, and accidental spills. We review the current understanding of environmental issues associated with unconventional gas extraction. Improved understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants of concern and increased long-term monitoring and data dissemination will help manage these water-quality risks today and in the future.

A new approach to determine cancer risk of chemicals

Read the full story in Environmental Factor.

A new study by NIEHS-funded researchers at Boston University (BU) and the NIEHS National Toxicology Program (NTP) has shown that computational models of short-term exposure to a chemical can predict long-term cancer risk. The study, led by computational biologist Stefano Monti, Ph.D., an associate professor at BU, is a step toward simpler and cheaper tests to screen chemicals for cancer risk.

New Request for Information (RFI) on Clean Energy Manufacturing Topic Areas

The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) seeks information on mid-Technology Readiness Level (TRL) research and development (R&D) needs, market challenges, supply chain challenges, and shared facility needs for clean energy manufacturing. This new Request for Information (RFI) is a follow-on to a recently completed RFI broadly covering advanced manufacturing. AMO would now like to know more about the challenges associated with advanced manufacturing technology which potentially could be overcome by pre-competitive collaboration as part of a Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The Technical Focus Areas for this RFI are:

  • Advanced Materials Manufacturing (AMM)
  • Advanced Sensing, Control, and Platforms for Manufacturing (ASCPM)
  • High-Efficiency Modular Chemical Processes (HEMCP)
  • High Value Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing (R2R)

The information provided as part of this RFI should assist AMO in understanding the cross-cutting and specific manufacturing challenges as well as the underlying motivation for the formation of a manufacturing innovation institute, consistent with the mission of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and AMO. This RFI opened on August 29, 2014 and will close on October 3, 2014.

Clean energy manufacturing can be broadly considered the making of products and product based value-added services with the potential to significantly enhance energy efficiency, reduce life-cycle energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and/or reduce negative environmental impacts. Advanced manufacturing can broadly be considered the making of products and/or product based value-added services for which technology is either critically enabling or providing a competitive advantage relative to existing approaches. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders.

A workshop to discuss the specific technical areas is scheduled for October 8-9, 2014. Further details for the workshop are forthcoming.

Cool Planet: can biochar fertilize soil and help fight climate change?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Although market information and long-term impacts remain unknown, a biofuel byproduct can store carbon and enhance soil quality – and its market is growing despite higher costs.

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings: a tale of two football stadiums

Read the full post in The Guardian.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. Two new stadiums, one in San Francisco and one in Minnesota, have taken radically different approaches to sustainability.

Recycling in the home: how to break down the barriers

Read the full post in the Guardian.

Despite good intentions, only half of plastic bottles in Britain and France are recycled. Creativity is needed to change habits.

ISTC 2014-2015 Sustainability Seminar Series

The ISTC Sustainability Seminar series continues this fall with the theme “Sustainability Planning: Vision and Value.” All seminars will be held at ISTC (1 E. Hazelwood Dr. in Champaign) in the SJW conference room. It is an opportunity to share information and discussion with peers in a relaxed, informal environment.  Please feel free to bring a lunch.  Seminars usually last about an hour and questions are welcome.  The seminars will be broadcast live and will also be recorded and archived on the ISTC website.

Upcoming Seminars

September 11, 2014  12 – 1 pm CDT at ISTC

Starting a Sustainability Program – Where to Begin
Debra Jacobson – Senior Operations Manager, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Overview of the scope of the presentation: This presentation is a real time, boots on the ground, organization and location specific guide. It is not a high level corporate sustainability program discussion. The presentation will address developing and implementing a system that addresses the People, Planet, Profit of a sustainability program, and it will focus on key elements of a sustainability management system (SMS) including:

  • Where to begin
  • Objectives, Scope and Limits
  • Expectations of your sustainability program
  • Metrics
  • Training & Communication
  • Celebrating Successes

This webinar will be broadcast live and also archived on our website for later viewing. If you cannot attend the event at ISTC, you may view the webinar live by registering at:

September  25, 2014  12 – 1 pm CDT at ISTC (via webinar from Chicago)

Facilitating Employee Engagement in Sustainability Initiatives
Erin Jones – Consultant with sr4 Partners LLC

Employee engagement in institutional sustainability programs holds multiple benefits to both the organization and the community. Increasing employee awareness and participation in sustainability efforts allows the individual to feel greater ownership; this often increases productivity, innovation, and efficiency. When more people become aware of such initiatives and have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of those initiatives a greater sense of ownership is developed allowing programs to be more successful, employee retention to increase, and overall reputation to improve. The concepts of project sponsorship, a network mindset and behavioral change will be discussed as a means by which to increase awareness and participation in sustainability efforts. Our intention is to provide insight into the pathway to engagement and ownership of these programs.

This webinar will be broadcast live and also archived on our website for later viewing. If you cannot attend the event at ISTC, you may view the webinar live by registering at:

Unusual renewables: bacon-powered motorbikes and cars run on chocolate

Read the full post in The Guardian.

From batteries powered by sweat to a 3D printed wind turbine – some wacky and wonderful innovations in renewable energy.

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