Day: August 11, 2015

What motivates CEOs to solve the world’s big social and environmental problems?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

What turns a person into a sustainability crusader? Author and professor Steve Schein wanted to know, so he interviewed corporate sustainability executives – people who have dedicated their careers to doing business better – to find out what makes them tick.

The trends spawning the next wave of sustainable business models

Read the full story in The Guardian.

From the sharing economy to digitization, technological and cultural trends are changing the way we think about sustainability.

EPA Research Funding Aims to Improve Understanding of Climate Change Impacts on Indoor Air Quality

Harvard College is one of only nine institutions that will share nearly $8 million from the US Environmental Protection Agency to study how climate change affects indoor air quality and the resulting health effects.

The grant to Harvard will fund research looking at two cities in particular, Boston and Atlanta, to study global warmth’s effects on indoor air quality and health. The project is called “Assessing the Potential Impact of Global Warming on Indoor Air Quality and Human Health at Two US Cities: Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA” and the grant is for $999,948.

“This research will help us better understand the effects of climate change on indoor air quality,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Learning how air quality, climate, and energy interact in an indoor environment will help us design buildings that better protect people’s health.”

“The indoor air quality and health program at Harvard’s School of Public Health was initiated almost 40 years ago and was early in its understanding of the importance of the indoor environment,” said Petros Koutrakis, principal investigator and professor of environmental science. “Until then most of the air quality policies and research programs had focused on outdoor air. We are very excited about the opportunity to investigate the potential impact of climate change on the indoor environment where we spend over 85 percent of our time.”

Harvard researchers chose Boston and Atlanta in order to use indoor and outdoor air pollution data collected in two US cities with different climate conditions.

By understanding how climate impacts the quality of indoor air, this research can be used to help avoid the potential harm of climate change and support a healthy indoor environment. Americans spend the majority of their time indoors and the impacts from a variety of indoor environmental pollutants and sources of pollution, including radon, mold and moisture, secondhand smoke, indoor wood smoke, and environmental asthma triggers are well documented. The connection between climate change and indoor air quality, however, is not well understood. Poor indoor environmental quality creates health problems and climate change may worsen existing indoor environmental problems and introduce new ones.

Climate change has the potential to affect human health in indoor environments directly through a number of variables. Some of these include changes in temperature extremes, changes in infiltration and ventilation, changes in outdoor and indoor allergen levels, pesticide use, and extreme weather. These changes are especially significant for vulnerable populations including children, those with certain medical conditions, and older people.

Other institutions receiving funding under this grant program includes:

  • University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colo.
  • Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fl.
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ill.
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, Miss.
  • Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
  • Portland State University, Portland, Ore.
  • University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash.

To address climate change, on Aug. 4 President Obama and EPA announced the final Clean Power Plan. This rule sets aggressive but attainable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants across the US by 2030. More information on the Clean Power Plan is at:

More information on EPA’s indoor air research:

More information on EPA research grants:

Green Infrastructure: Lessons from Science and Practice

Download the document.

Green infrastructure is the use of trees, plants, and open space to help reduce floods and water pollution. Green infrastructure can provide many benefits for public health, local communities, and the environment. Across the US cities and towns are turning to green infrastructure to provide much-needed updates to aging storm water management systems. That is why understanding the strengths and limits of green infrastructure is relevant and timely, according to a new report released by scientists from Syracuse University, the Cary Institute, and the Harvard Forest, in partnership with the Science Policy Exchange.

How Can Cities Get Renters to Use Less Water?

Read the full story in CityLab.

California’s drought demands an answer, but as homeownership rates drop, the question has implications for the whole country.

The Evolution of Engineered Water Cleaning

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Reducing the need for cleaning and cleaning chemicals is the most effective way to lessen the impact of cleaning on the environment.

K-Cup killers? Hotel suppliers seek better single-serving coffee

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Much has been written about the many millions of partially used bars of soap and amenity bottles disposed of each year. Thanks to Clean the World and other nonprofits, a sizable amount of that waste is being repurposed.

But what about K-cups, those little single-serve beverage (mostly coffee) pods used in Keurig Green Mountain brewers? According to research by data firm NPD Group, 40 percent of Canadian homes have a single-serving coffee brewer. In the United States that number is closer to 30 percent.

An estimated 20 billion K-Cups will be consumed in 2015. Many of those will reach the landfill by way of a hotel guestroom, lobby or breakfast area.

With such a steady flow of waste to the landfill — not only the cups but their contents, filters and lids as well — what can a hotelier do to address it? One step is to explore alternatives to the non-recyclable polystyrene cups.

How Does a City Get to Zero Carbon Emissions?

Read the full story in Governing.

Even before Obama released his rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, dozens of cities pledged to become carbon-free. But how they will achieve that isn’t always known.

Tracing conflict minerals proves elusive — and expensive

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The clock for corporates looking to get a handle on supply chain conflict minerals is starting to tick much louder.

With just one year to go before stricter reporting is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, many companies are still struggling to trace their sources for metals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin, according to an analysis of reports submitted for the most recent reporting period.

CU-Boulder researchers use wastewater treatment to capture CO2 emissions and produce energy

Read the full post from the University of Colorado. The research was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Cleaning up municipal and industrial wastewater can be dirty business, but engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed an innovative wastewater treatment process that not only mitigates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but actively captures greenhouse gases as well.

The treatment method, known as Microbial Electrolytic Carbon Capture (MECC), purifies wastewater in an environmentally-friendly fashion by using an electrochemical reaction that absorbs more CO2 than it releases while creating renewable energy in the process.

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