Day: March 24, 2016

Can low-income housing be energy efficient and affordable?

Read the full post at Ensia.

Residents of low-income housing need energy efficiency more than others, but are less likely to be able to afford it. How to escape the Catch-22?

Sustainable Development Primer for Higher Education Presidents, Chancellors, Trustees and Senior Leaders

This new primer describes the sustainability related, crucial roles and tasks for presidents, trustees and senior leadership and explains how sustainability is a robust national trend in higher education. The primer is from the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), a network of associations committed to advancing sustainability within the entire system of higher education.

New tool for smarter investments in forest restoration

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

Forests are a vital resource, contributing a variety of benefits essential to human well-being — protecting our freshwater supply, storing carbon, providing critical habitat to threatened species.

As the world prepares to celebrate the annual International Day of Forests on March 21, organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature continue to raise awareness of the many benefits forests provide and the importance of making continued investments in restoring these precious ecosystems.

Over the past year, members of IonE’s Natural Capital Project team have collaborated with IUCN to inform and support the organization’s mission to restore millions of hectares of degraded landscapes and forests globally. A key component of these efforts is using innovative decision-support tools that make knowledge about restoring specific forests accessible and useful to a wider audience.

As part of these efforts, NatCap scientist Peter Hawthorne has led the development of the Restoration Opportunity Optimization Tool, a new open-source ecosystem services software program well-suited for forest landscape restoration planning. Hawthorne developed the tool with staff from IUCN’s Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, with additional support provided by NatCap ecosystem services analyst Jesse Gourevitch, lead scientist Bonnie Keeler and Minnesota-based Software for Good.

What we’re doing to the Earth has no parallel in 66 million years, scientists say

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

If you dig deep enough into the Earth’s climate change archives, you hear about the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. And then you get scared.

This is a time period, about 56 million years ago, when something mysterious happened — there are many ideas as to what — that suddenly caused concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to spike, far higher than they are right now. The planet proceeded to warm rapidly, at least in geologic terms, and major die-offs of some marine organisms followed due to strong acidification of the oceans.

The cause of the PETM has been widely debated. Some think it was an explosion of carbon from thawing Arctic permafrost. Some think there was a huge release of subsea methane that somehow made its way to the atmosphere — and that the series of events might have been kickstarted by major volcanic eruptions.

In any case, the result was a hothouse world from pole to pole, some 5 degrees Celsius warmer overall. But now, new research suggests, even the drama of the PETM falls short of our current period, in at least one key respect: We’re putting carbon into the atmosphere at an even faster rate than happened back then.

Such is the result of a new study in Nature Geoscience, led by Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and colleagues from the University of Bristol in the UK and the University of California-Riverside.

About the 2015 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Award Winners

Many of the 2015 Food Recovery Challenge regional award winners shared details and quotes about their wasted food prevention and diversion activities and about their awards with the EPA. Visit to learn more about these successful projects.

Ford Shares Environmental Management Best Practices with Suppliers

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Ford has expanded an environmental reporting tool for its suppliers that the automaker says will help them save money and shrink their environmental impact.

The program, which highlights Ford’s best practices for reducing energy use and carbon emissions as well as improving water management, is called Partnership for A Cleaner Environment, or PACE. Ford launched it today at the G7 Alliance Forum on Resource Efficiency workshop in Washington, DC.

Water transfers do little to help shortages

Read the full story at Environmental Research Web.

Water transfers between river basins in the US are largely driven by human water demand, and do little to ease climate-driven water shortages, scientists in the US have found.

NYC Hospitals Join Challenge to Reduce Water Use

Read the full story from the Sustainable City Network.

New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced that three of New York City’s hospitals have joined the New York City Water Challenge to Hospitals. Each hospital will work to reduce their campus-wide monthly average water consumption by 5 percent and thereby save approximately 2.2 million gallons of water per month. Participating hospitals include: NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem. The participants represent a mix of public and private hospitals that provide inpatient care, teaching and research services. The lessons learned from the New York City Water Challenge to Hospitals will be utilized by DEP to develop a best practices guide for water management in all area hospitals.

Turning Americans’ Bad Food-Waste Habit Into Renewable Energy

Read the full story from Governing.

Americans funnel 40 percent of it into the trash, and it’s the single biggest material in landfills. Food, about $640 worth per household per year, is simply thrown away by Americans who, according to a survey by the American Chemistry Council, don’t care how it impacts the environment.

But governments do. As food decomposes, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. To curb it, more and more cities are looking for ideas on how to divert food waste from landfills. They’re also testing out new ways to convert leftovers and other organic materials into biogas, a renewable energy that cities can use to run municipal fleets and produce electricity.

On Burning Ground: The Human Cost Of India’s Push to Produce More Coal

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

These are economic boom times in India. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is presiding over 7-percent annual growth, fueled by the coal that generates most of the country’s electricity and powers heavy industries like steel and motor manufacturing that dominate Jharkhand, one of India’s industrial heartlands. To keep the growth going, Modi last year called for the state-owned company Coal India, whose subsidiaries include Bharat Coking Coal, to double its production by 2020.

Many fear the climatic consequences of India’s drive for coal-powered growth. Other major coal mining nations like the United States and China are cutting back on burning the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. But India, the world’s third largest coal producer and fourth largest greenhouse-gas emitter, stood out as a climate bad guy at the United Nations’ climate talks in Paris in December. It has set itself on an energy growth path that will increase emissions by an estimated 60 percent by 2030.

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