Day: August 31, 2015

How Are U.N. Climate Talks Like A Middle School? Cliques Rule

Read the full story at NPR.

It seems to be part of human nature to want to belong to a group. People constantly form groups, in all kinds of situations, and high-stakes negotiations on climate change are no exception.

Ever heard of the Umbrella Group? Or the Like-Minded Developing Countries? How about the Group of 77? (Here’s a hint — it doesn’t actually have 77 countries.)

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week to resume negotiations on a new global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions — it’s part of the runup to a major summit in Paris later this year. And the countries negotiate in groups, some of which are a little puzzling.

The Life and Death of the American Lawn

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

Grasses—green, neatly trimmed, symbols of civic virtue—shaped the national landscape. They have now outlived their purpose.

Webinar: Emerging Contaminants in the Environment: Extending Knowledge and Mitigation Strategies

Thu, Sep 24, 2015 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
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Presented by Wei Zheng – Senior Research Scientist, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Prairie Research Institute and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The widespread occurrence in watersheds of emerging contaminants, including pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) and steroid hormones, has been recognized as a critical environmental issue. Effluents from sewage treatment plants (STPs) and reuse of wastewater from concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs) have been identified to be the major sources discharging these emerging contaminants into the surrounding water bodies. Using these contaminated waters for agricultural irrigation may introduce wastewater-related emerging contaminants to soil and food products. Especially in arid and semi-arid regions, reclaimed wastewater is currently becoming an important source to supplement increasingly scarce fresh water sources for landscape irrigation.

In this presentation, we will introduce and discuss our several completed and ongoing projects associated with emerging contaminants funded by USDA, Illinois Hazardous Research Funds, and UI Extension Initiatives Grants. In these projects, we developed isotopic dilution methods for simultaneous analysis of trace levels of emerging contaminants in a variety of environmental samples. With the developed methods, we identified and quantified the occurrence of PPCP and hormone contaminants in STP effluent and CAFO wastewater, monitored their occurrence in receiving watersheds and surrounding fields, and investigated their degradation and transport processes in water-soil systems. In addition, the potential uptake and accumulation of emerging contaminants by plants irrigated with contaminated water were further evaluated. Several pollution prevention strategies and water treatment techniques associated with emerging contaminants were developed and illustrated, including a medicine take-back program, an on-site oil-sequester treatment approach, and an artificial riverbank filtration technology. These interdisciplinary works increase public knowledge about emerging contaminants, as well as expand our research and outreach capacity by partnering with Extension personnel.

Webinar: Using the Green Technologies & Practices (GTP) research to guide your P2 efforts

Thu, Sep 24, 2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT
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Please join us for a webinar that provides insights to where green technologies and practices have been adopted – and which industries and occupations led the implementation.

People and organizations choose many paths to green. Some do it “because it’s the right thing to do,” some because “it makes business sense.” While few may acknowledge it, many are influenced to adopt a green technology or practice (GTP) because others in their personal and business circles do.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what parts of the country, sectors of the economy, or occupations have a higher proportion of GTP adoption? Presumably we could better target our own efforts to sell a green widget or service if we knew where the green hotspots lie, then build atop the social networks and community attitudes indicated by higher GTP adoption.

Fortunately, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) developed a survey of American businesses about Green Jobs. The BLS used its Green Technologies and Practices (GTP) survey to measure adoption of goods and services that can reduce the negative impact on the environment.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Business Administration pursued additional data review atop the results published by the BLS, thanks to a BLS process for working with outside researchers. That additional review tied the GTP survey results data to other datasets in an attempt to discover identifiable county level attributes that are correlated with high GTP adoption in our region, i.e., counties in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, and South Dakota. This webinar will provide insights from that additional review.

Ohio Healthier Hospitals: A Collection of Energy Case Studies

Published by Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, Ohio Healthier Hospitals: A Collection of Energy Case Studies showcases successful efforts by Cleveland Clinic, Highland District Hospital, ProMedica, and University Hospitals to implement energy reduction initiatives that increased air quality, improved patient health, and reduced operating expenses.

UK firm makes biodegradable construction glove

Read the full story in Construction Week.

UK-headquartered Globus has launched what it claims is the world’s first fully biodegradable, synthetic work glove.

The Showa 4552’s liner and sponge nitrate feature the manufacturer’s Eco Best Technology (EBT), and have been designed to protect workers from hand injuries.

How She Leads: Kathleen Shaver, Cisco

Read the full interview at GreenBiz.

Kathleen Shaver started her undergraduate degree with the idea of working on Capitol Hill.

She has the public policy credentials to prove it, including a master’s degree in environmental health science from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies from American University.

“When I came out of school in the late ’80s, sustainability was just emerging as a concept,” she told GreenBiz. “It was pollution prevention and environmental compliance. I came up through the public health community, started out working in law firms, and I really kind of realized that I liked what I did more than what lawyers did.”

Since that time, Shaver has held roles in both the private and public sector, including director-level positions at AlliedSignal, Honeywell and Mattel, where she was instrumental in shaping the toymaker’s deforestation strategy. Two years ago, Shaver made the jump to Cisco as director of supply chain sustainability, risk management, compliance and security. Not a small job, yet she’s also taken on another important new role, as chairwoman of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition.

GreenBiz spoke with Shaver about making the leap to high tech, the two mentors who helped shape her thinking and why she’s excited about influencing Cisco employees who don’t have sustainability in their title. The discussion was edited for length and clarity.

Solar Storage When the Sun Goes Down

Read the full story from ASME.

That star at the center of our solar system, in addition to being the source of all life on the planet, may also be our best hope for clean, safe, and abundant energy. If we could just get the technology right it could power all our needs for the next five billion years or so. The only problem is that pesky shadow it casts on half the planet, called night; that and the clouds that dull its shine.

In short, the sun’s intermittency is holding us back. Systems using photovoltaic cells with lithium ion batteries or photosynthesis with hydrogen are inefficient and imperfect, unable to provide the uninterrupted power that modern life demands.

Now researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington may have solved that problem, at least at a small scale. Their solution essentially combines a redox flow battery, which uses a liquid electrolyte, and a solar cell. “Under light, the electrons will be stored inside the material, like in a rechargeable battery,” says Fuqiang Liu, a professor in the department of materials science and engineering at the university. “Then, when you switch to dark, those electrons will be released spontaneously.” This instant and efficient “electron storage reversibility” is the key to a seamless solar powered future.

EPA app targets mobile algae forecasting

Read the full post at Great Lakes Echo.

It might not be as addictive as Candy Crush, but a new EPA app could have big implications for water management and the people who drink, swim or fish within the Great Lakes.

The yet-unnamed app will detect blooms of cyanobacteria – a photosynthetic microbe often mistaken for algae and responsible for water quality headaches that particularly affect Lake Erie supplies.

How cities can beat the heat

Read the full story in Nature.

Rising temperatures are threatening urban areas, but efforts to cool them may not work as planned.

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