Webinar: Can energy use data reduce electricity costs and environmental impacts?

December 9, 2015 — noon-1 pm
To watch the seminar live, connect to https://umn.webex.com/umn/onstage/g.php?d=749731945&t=a. Connection instructions are available here.

Alexandra Klass, IonE Resident Fellow and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Law School; and Elizabeth Wilson, IonE Resident Fellow and Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

As state and local governments and electricity users attempt to improve the efficiency of their buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and realize the promises of improved demand-side management of energy resources, the need for electricity and other energy-related data becomes ever more pressing. Yet current law allows companies to keep a significant amount of energy use data confidential. In this talk we will draw lessons from the more sophisticated legal frameworks governing health care, education and environmental emissions data that balance public policy needs for data evaluation with privacy interests. A review of the law in these fields shows that the privacy and confidentiality interests in energy consumption data may be overstated and, in any event, can be adequately addressed in most instances by aggregating the data, using historic rather than current data, or developing contracts and other agreements to ensure security where access to individualized data is needed.

Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?

Read the full opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times.

In a very dry state, turning to the sea as a source of water for drinking, bathing and irrigation has its attractions. Desalination is drought-proof — the ocean is one pond we can’t empty so quickly. It’s more expensive, but the cost is relatively stable, and as technology makes the process more efficient, those costs have been trending downward.

But Californians should be leery about desalination as anything more than a backup plan that might be appropriate for a few spots up and down the coast. And that’s not just because the process involves sucking up some fish larvae, and spitting out brine (which is quickly diluted) or even because it’s an electricity hog. (The California State Water Project is the single biggest user of electricity in the state because of the energy needed to move water from one place to another — especially over the Tehachapi Mountains to Southern California, but desalination, gallon for gallon, uses far more power.)

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award

Letters of intent due: January 26, 2016; January 28, 2017; January 27,  2018
Applications due: February 26, 2016; February 28, 2017; February 27, 2018, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.
Read the full solicitation.

The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award is intended to identify the most talented Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) who intend to make a long-term commitment to research in the Environmental Health Sciences and assist them in launching an innovative research program focused on the understanding of environmental exposure effects on people’s health.


Could Carbon-Labeling Products Help the Environment?

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Wouldn’t it be great to have carbon footprint labels right on the products we buy? That way, we could use our dollars to tell big corporations that we actually care about climate change. Unfortunately, according to a new experiment, adding so-called “carbon reduction labels” may not have any impact on what we buy—unless the labels are designed just right.



Bees Bred With Some Special Genes Are Killing It

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

While the sight of a body missing one or more legs may cause most people to shudder, nothing makes Dan O’Hanlon happier—especially when the body belongs to a varroa mite. The tiny bloodsucking parasite has been terrorizing his beehives in West Virginia—and many others across the country—for decades. So when he finds the sticky board he’s placed inside his hives littered with the amputees, it’s proof the experiment he’s been participating in is working.

O’Hanlon is the leader of the Heartland Honey Breeders Cooperative, a group of queen-honeybee breeders from eight states stretching from Michigan to Tennessee. The co-op has teamed up with scientists to breed bees that are able to fight off mites—a good idea since the parasites are developing resistance to pesticides.


When to Use Native Plants in Erosion Control Projects

Read the full story at Forester Daily News.

Julie Etra’s approach to the erosion control work her company does is simple to describe. It isn’t always easy to accomplish, though.

“You shouldn’t know we were ever there. [The work is] so good that it matches what was there before,” explains Etra.

Making a newly established section of ground match an existing part of a property or roadside takes skill and knowledge. Etra has both, and enthusiasm for her work. In the last couple of years she has branched into designing and evaluating erosion control projects through her company, Western Botanical Services, in Reno, NV.

7 ways to convince your state to make the most of the Clean Power Plan

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Now that the final Clean Power Plan has been released and posted in the Federal Register, it’s time to get to work. By including energy efficiency in their compliance plans, states can reduce emissions and compliance costs while boosting local economies and reducing household utility bills. Many states are already benefiting from energy efficiency policies and programs, while others are just getting started. Regardless of the past, it is now up to people in states to ensure that their state officials plan for a future where these benefits can be achieved. Here are some ideas for how to get involved.