Day: April 27, 2016

The 5 toughest challenges tomorrow’s cities face

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

From New York to Shanghai, cities across the globe are swelling, compounding social and environmental sustainability challenges.

Meanwhile, cities are on the frontlines of the climate change fight — although they generate 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, city dwellers have smaller carbon footprints than national averages, according to the International Institute for Environment and Development.

In addition to climate change concerns, cities face challenges with communicating urgent but less visible sustainability problems to stakeholders, modernizing water and transportation infrastructure, improving urban design and feeding growing populations.

National Green Building Standard Approved for Use

Read the full story from Environmental Leader.

The latest version of the ICC/ASHRAE 700-2015 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) has been approved for use by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The residential construction standard provides a pathway by which builders and developers may seek third-party green building certification of their new homes, developments and remodeling projects. Many cities and states offer incentives, such as rebates and additional density allowances, to builders and developers whose projects are NGBS-certified.

Earth Day Planted Seeds for Action on Climate. Is a Carbon Tax a Good Idea?

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

During the Earth Day festivities, President Obama once again reiterated the United States’ commitment to reducing carbon emissions. But he went beyond his initial pledges of cutting such emissions by 28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels and to 80 percent by 2050 from the same baseline. How to achieve that?

Obviously, the aim is t0 burn cleaner fuels — whether they be wind and solar and other sustainable sources, or by dusting off fossil fuels. Just to how to encourage that, though, is up for debate. Cap-and-trade programs whereby companies trade credits with one another is a free market mechanism. But it has had so-so success in Europe, if you can call it that. Then there’s the carbon tax, which has the word “tax” tied to it but which may be the fairest way to quantify carbon releases.

Coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat — Potential concerns for human health and aquatic life

Mahler, B.J., Woodside, M.D., and VanMetre, P.C., 2016, Coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat—Potential concerns for human health and aquatic life. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3017, 6 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20163017.

Sealcoat is the black, viscous liquid sprayed or painted on many asphalt parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds to protect and enhance the appearance of the underlying asphalt. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), academic institutions, and State and local agencies have identified coal-tar-based pavement sealcoat as a major source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination in urban and suburban areas and a potential concern for human health and aquatic life.

Human Health Concerns—As coal-tar-based sealcoat ages, it wears into small particles with high levels of PAHs that can be tracked into homes and incorporated into house dust. For people who live adjacent to coal-tar-sealcoated pavement, ingestion of PAH-contaminated house dust and soil results in an elevated potential cancer risk, particularly for young children. Exposure to PAHs, especially early in childhood, has been linked by health professionals to an increased risk of lung, skin, bladder, and respiratory cancers.

Aquatic Life Concerns—Runoff from coal-tar-sealcoated pavement, even runoff collected more than 3 months after sealcoat application, is acutely toxic to fathead minnows and  water fleas, two species commonly used to assess toxicity to aquatic life. Exposure to even highly diluted runoff from coal-tar-sealcoated pavement can cause DNA damage and impair DNA repair. These findings demonstrate that  coal-tar-sealcoat runoff can remain a risk to aquatic life for months after application.

Court holds fate of Obama’s climate legacy

Read the full story in The Hill.

President Obama’s signature climate change initiative is about to face its biggest challenge yet.

Time is running out on Obama’s second term in the White House, and the president could leave office next January with his Clean Power Plan stuck in legal limbo.

This Gorgeous, Sustainable “Leather” Is Made From Pineapple Waste

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Your future handbag will be made from fruit—not cow or petroleum.

Designing for older concrete could cut carbon emissions

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

The manufacture of cement and concrete releases carbon dioxide totalling more than 7% of the world’s annual anthropogenic emissions. With that in mind, scientists have trialled less greenhouse-gas intensive ways to make the materials. Now a team from the University of California, Berkeley, US, has examined how changing the design of concrete structures can reduce the amount of cement required.

Green Purchasing Next Step in Green Cleaning

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Typically, when people hear about the professional cleaning industry adopting green and sustainable initiatives, they think the industry is selecting and using green-certified cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment. While this is true, it is actually only one part of the “greening” of the professional cleaning industry—at least as it applies to the larger cleaning contractors in the United States.

Treasure in the Trash: A Look Inside 30 Years of NYC Garbage

Read the full story and view the pictures at Waste360.

Located on the second floor of a garbage truck depot in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City is Treasure in the Trash, a local gem created by retired NYC sanitation worker Nelson Molina. Treasure in the Trash is a gallery of NYC garbage collectibles, which includes typewriters, photographs, furniture, household items, action figures, stained glass from a church built in 1895, a Star of David made from steel from the World Trade Center and more.

State of the Air 2016

For 17 years, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from official air quality monitors to compile the State of the Air report. The more you learn about the air you breathe, the more you can protect your health and take steps to make our air cleaner and healthier.

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