2015 Gulf of Mexico dead zone ‘above average’

Read the full story from NOAA.

Scientists have found this year’s Gulf of Mexico dead zone — an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is, at 6,474 square miles, above average in size and larger than forecast by NOAA in June. The larger than expected forecast was caused by heavy June rains throughout the Mississippi River watershed.

The measured size this year — an area about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined — is larger than the 5,052 square miles measured last year, indicating that nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed are continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf. The size is larger than the Gulf of Mexico / Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force (Hypoxia Task Force) target of 1,900 square miles.

Webinar: Energy Models 101 for Building Owners, Managers & Tenants: Strategies for Using Iterative Energy Models to Drive Project Savings

Tue, Sep 8, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8918651553020288002

This webinar shares strategies and resources building owners, managers, and tenants can use to transform the energy model from a one-time report provided at the end of design to an iterative tool used throughout the design process to drive energy savings. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) will highlight its Building Energy Modeling Guide for Building Owners, DOE will provide a brief primer on modeling, and BBC partner District of Columbia will share case studies demonstrating the value of getting to know your energy model.

New Advanced Refrigeration Technology Provides Clean Energy, Low Utility Bills for Supermarkets

Read the full story from U.S. DOE.

Traditional supermarket refrigeration systems found in most U.S. grocery stores require a substantial amount of energy to keep fruits and vegetables fresh year round. An average supermarket consumes nearly 2 million kilowatt hours per year, and refrigeration accounts for nearly half of that. They are also prone to significant refrigerant leakage—from two to four thousand pounds a year—emitting environmentally harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common of these gases are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are 4,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and leading refrigeration systems manufacturer Hillphoenix worked together to develop a supermarket refrigeration system that is more environmentally friendly, more energy efficient, and uses less electrical energy. The Second Nature® Advansor System, which hit the market in 2014, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 78% compared to existing systems and lowers energy consumption by 25%.

New DOE Report Estimates LED Savings in Common Lighting Applications

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its latest report in a series analyzing markets where LEDs compete with traditional lighting sources. The new report, Adoption of Light-Emitting Diodes in Common Lighting Applications, reveals a wealth of insights into promising pathways for SSL technology development, providing estimates of the energy saved in 2014 due to current levels of LED penetration in 10 lighting applications, as well as the potential energy savings if each of these applications had switched completely to the best available LED products. Annual source energy savings from LEDs in 2014 were approximately 143 tBtu (equivalent to a cost savings of about $1.4 billion), but would have approached 4,896 tBtu (saving $49 billion) if all applications had switched “overnight” to the best-available LEDs.


Development and Evaluation of a Sandia Cooler-based Refrigerator Condenser

Download the document.

This report describes the first design of a refrigerator condenser using the Sandia Cooler, i.e. air-bearing supported rotating heat-sink impeller. The project included baseline performance testing of a residential refrigerator, analysis, and design development of a Sandia Cooler condenser assembly including a spiral channel baseplate, and performance measurement and validation of this condenser system as incorporated into the residential refrigerator. Comparable performance was achieved in a 60% smaller volume package. The improved modeling parameters can now be used to guide more optimized designs and more accurately predict performance.

What’s Green Worth?

The effect on a property’s value is usually one of the first things to consider before a building is retrofitted with green features.  For example, building owners might want to know – how much more will my office building be worth if I add a new state-of-the-art LED lighting system? What if the building has a green certification?

Essentially, green building attributes can make for a more efficient, less financially-risky building.  Buildings that are considered safer investments typically sell more quickly and for higher prices than those that are not. A recent case study developed by the Institute for Market Transformation found that a commercial building in Wilmington, North Carolina, which implemented energy conservation measures, reduced nearly $11,000 in annual energy costs, increasing the building’s valuation by up to $275,000.  This type of increase is not limited to energy efficiency improvements, renewables can also be factored in. According to the research, buildings in California with solar panels can be valued at a premium as high as $5,911 per kilowatt of energy capacity.

However, appraisers are often not experienced in working with green buildings. When an appraiser is not versed in investigating the costs and benefits of green strategies, they might miss some of the benefits – such as reduced operational and environmental risks as well as the potential for increased marketability.

To address this concern, the Energy Department and the Appraisal Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve resources for appraisers who are involved with energy efficient buildings. The first of these resources, the Appraisal Practices Board (APB) Valuation Advisory #6: Valuation of Green Buildings: Background and Core Competency, was recently released by the Appraisal Foundation.

The APB Valuation Advisory provides appraisers with basic educational background on green or high-performance commercial and residential buildings. The report was developed by technical experts and industry leaders. Two upcoming resources will build on the foundation provided by this guide, which will provide methodological guidance for valuing residential and commercial buildings.

The Energy Department supported this work by providing subject matter experts and soliciting feedback from members of the Better Buildings Alliance. In addition, the Energy Department provides software tools, databases and education courses that appraisers can use to better evaluate green buildings.


DOE Seeking Information on Design and Construction of High-Performance Tenant Spaces

The Building Technologies Office has released a request for information seeking stakeholder input on the design and construction of tenant spaces that achieve high levels of energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The deadline for this request is September 30, 2015. The Energy Department will use input from this Federal Register notice to inform a study on the design and construction of energy efficient tenant spaces in commercial buildings. DOE is seeking information on a full suite of topics related to the design and construction of these energy efficient tenant spaces, including: design features, processes, and best practices, as well as policies, financial metrics, modeling approaches, and measurement and verification tools.

Using less energy to keep drinks cold

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Late yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed strong new standards that would reduce the energy consumed by beverage vending machines to keep drinks cold. The proposed standards would cut energy use by 25-65% relative to the least-efficient machines available now, and save money for schools, hospitals, hotels, and other businesses and institutions where beverage vending machines are used.

Where to donate your used stuff in Champaign-Urbana

There are many non-profit organizations in the Champaign-Urbana area that accept donations all year. If there are any I missed, let me know in the comments. This list was last updated July 27, 2022.

Note that the City of Champaign Public Works Department has a good list of alternatives on their Where Do I Recycle, Donate, or Dispose of It? page.

Non-profit organizations

Champaign County Humane Society
Accepts a variety of items for donation, including cleaning and office supplies. Check their wish list for specifics.

Champaign-Urbana Theater Company (CUTC)
Accepts limited donations of clothing and other items for use as costumes and props. Accepts latex paint if the can is at least 1/2 full. They will also accept lumber and other set construction materials if they are whole and in good condition (no scraps). Contact the costume manager (costumes@cutc.org) for clothing donations and the company’s executive director (manager@cutc.org) for all other items.

Crisis Nursery
Crisis Nursery works to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing 24-hour emergency care for children and support to strengthen families in crisis. See Items can be dropped off M-F 8-5. Check their wish list for current needs.. Contact: 217-337-2731

Empty Tomb

Empty Tomb will accept up to three bags or boxes of in-season clothes. Household items are also welcome. They will also pickup used furniture donations.

If you live in Champaign, Urbana, or Savoy, email info@emptytomb.org to make arrangements to pick up the following furniture items that are in good condition:

  • Queen Bed (Mattress, Box Spring & Frame; or just mattress)
  • Full Bed ((Mattress, Box Spring & Frame; or just mattress)
  • Twin Bed (Mattress, Box Spring & Frame; or just mattress)
  • Sofa/Couch
  • Kitchen Table & Chairs
  • Dresser/Chest of Drawers

Contact: info@emptytomb.org or (217) 356-2262 and leave a message.

Goodwill/Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Goodwill has locations in Champaign, Savoy (where the old Pages for All Ages book store used to be in the Savoy Plaza) and the LaBelle Boutique in Urbana. Donations are accepted Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to store closing and on Sunday from noon to store closing. Donations are tax-deductible. Before you go, check their list of acceptable and unacceptable donations.

Goodwill participates in Dell’s Reconnect electronics recycling program. Acceptable computer equipment includes:

  • desktop and laptop computers,
  • monitors (only flatscreen monitors and TVs in working condition — NO CRTs),
  • printers,
  • ink and toner cartridges,
  • keyboards,
  • mice,
  • speakers,
  • external hard drives,
  • power cords,
  • USB drives,
  • servers
  • computer software CDs.

The Recycle / Reuse Unwanted Electronics E-guide for Residents of Champaign County, Illinois has a list of other local businesses that accept unwanted electronics for reuse and recycling. Illinois banned the disposal of electronic items from landfills in 2012.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore
The main store address is 119 East University Avenue, Champaign. See their website for a list of acceptable items. Donations are accepted at the store Monday – Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm. To arrange a pick up for donations call (217) 355-6460. The ReStore is open Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm. Note that there may be a fee for pick up or delivery of items. Contact: 217-359-0507; restore@cuhabitat.org

The Idea Store
The Idea Store is a materials-for-the-arts and educational reuse store where you can donate a variety of items that would otherwise go to the landfill. Donations are tax deductible. Their donation list includes almost anything that might be used for craft projects and office/school supplies. Read more about the IDEA Store here or watch ISTC’s Fall 2020 sustainability seminar with co-founder Carol Jo Morgan.

Teachers, keep the Idea Store in mind if you need supplies for class projects or extra school supplies. You can often get a lot of material for a small price. Items are often sold by the pound. In the fall, they highlight items that appear on school supply lists. If you’re looking for a particular type of material, you can let them know and they’ll contact you if they receive anything that fits your needs. Contact: 217-352-7878; info@the-idea-store.org

Immigrant Services of Champaign-Urbana

Immigrant Services of Champaign-Urbana’s purpose is to extend a welcoming hand to immigrant families who are new to the community. They accept new or clean/laundered, gently-used household goods as well as baby and toddler items. Visit their website for more details. Contact: iscu2day@gmail.com; 217-800-5725.

Lions Club

The Champaign Lions Clubs collects used eyeglasses, sunglasses and hearing aids for the Lions International Program, which recycles glasses at 17 centers worldwide. Also accepted are cell phones, empty ink cartridges (not toner), and keys. Check their website for collection locations. Contact: 309-863-5335​

Local libraries

Most area libraries (including the University of Illinois) accept used books, CDs & DVDs. If you don’t see your library on the list below, contact them directly to inquire about making a donation.

Park district camps and preschools

Contact the Champaign or Urbana Park Districts to donate gently used books, educational items, school supplies, or craft supplies.

Preservation and Conservation Association (PACA)
PACA accepts architectural pieces (doors, windows, fixtures, etc.), furniture, storage items like filing cabinets, and even small home décor items. View their donation guidelines. The warehouse is at 44 E Washington St, Champaign, IL. Their warehouse hours are Tuesday 10-4, Wed. 10-7, Th & F 10-4 & Sat. 9-12. Contact: 217-359-7222; pacaexdir@gmail.com.

Salt & Light Ministries
Salt & Light accepts clothing, furniture (subject to approval), appliances, household items, shoes, children’s toys, linens (sheets, blankets, towels), books, electronics, DVDs, CDs, and jewelry. Donations are accepted at any time of day in their donation bins. You can also drop off Monday through Saturday, 9am-8pm. Contact: 217-355-5654

University YMCA Dump and Run
Each year as students leave campus in droves, lots of useful materials end up headed to the landfill. The University YMCA Dump & Run collects some of this material and then sells it a large community garage sale in the fall—just in time for students to move back into the campus area and need items for their dorm rooms or apartments.

They accept: furniture, dishes, glassware, pots & pans, small household appliances, computers, electronics, bicycles, office & school supplies, nearly-new clothing, books, toiletries, lawn & garden, artwork, vinyl & cds, musical instruments, sporting equipment & other household goods. They DO NOT collect televisions, paint, child/infant car seats, stoves, washers, dryers, non-working electronics & computer parts, sleeper sofas, mattresses, televisions, or large exercise equipment.