Leading Colleges and Universities to Help Accelerate Clean Technology Deployment

Read the full story from Clean Energy Trust.

Second Nature, Clean Energy Trust and twelve higher education institutions in the Climate Leadership Network announced Campus Cleantech Pilots, a new partnership accelerating clean energy technology commercialization by using universities as testing and demonstration platforms for startup companies…

The campus advisors are all signatories in Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network and include:

  • Agnes Scott College, President Elizabeth Kiss
  • Ball State University, Interim President Terry King
  • California State University-Northridge, President Dianne Harrison
  • Central Community College, President Greg Smith
  • George Washington University, President Steven Knapp
  • Huston-Tillotson University, President Collette Pierce
  • New York University, President Andrew Hamilton
  • Portland State University, President Wim Wiewel
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, President William Destler
  • Spelman College, President Mary Campbell
  • University of Minnesota-Morris, Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson
  • Western Michigan University, President John Dunn

Incorporating Environmental Justice into all Regulatory Efforts

Read the full post from EPA.

Today marks an important moment in environmental justice history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its first-ever Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis (EJ Technical Guidance).  This guidance represents a significant step towards ensuring the impacts of EPA regulations on vulnerable populations are understood and considered in the decision-making process.

The EJ Technical Guidance improves our ability to perform some of the most important work we do. Better integrating environmental justice in EPA’s core regulatory function is essential to ensure that all Americans, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or income level, have access to clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. Technical guidance, reinforced by the meaningful involvement of the public and key stakeholders, helps to ensure that all communities are protected from pollution as the result of EPA rules.

Accelerating Sustainable Innovation in Higher Education through Energy, Waste and Water Initiatives

Thursday July 14, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM CDT
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave. (Ballroom), Chicago, IL 60603
More information and to register

Join us as we explore how Higher Education institutions can work together to:

  1. Set baselines and improve metrics
  2. Extend practices around efficiency
  3. Demonstrate aggregate impacts
  4. Set reduction commitments
  5. Investigate volume opportunities?

Audience: We are especially interested in extending this invitation to those new to these topics or those who don’t often get to meet with their peers to discuss these issues.

An appetite for change: Local solutions to cut food waste

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Two out of every five plates goes to waste; 40 percent of the U.S. annual food supply goes uneaten, according the Natural Resource Defense Council. To put a price tag on that, as a nation, we’re throwing out the equivalent of $162 billion each year, or roughly $1,500 a year lost on uneaten food for the average American family.

This food waste also incurs an environmental burden. About 25 percent of U.S. water supply goes to produce food that never gets eaten. In terms of air quality, this waste has a carbon footprint that matches the greenhouse gases from 33 million cars.

Certainly nothing is funny about those numbers, but as comedian John Oliver aptly put it, “At a time when the landscape of California is shriveling up like a pumpkin in front of a house with a lazy dad, it seems especially unwise that farmers are pumping water into food that ends up being used as a garnish for landfills.”

Why Leading Global Companies Are Using a New Food Waste Standard to Reduce Waste

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Food loss and waste costs businesses billions of dollars each year and it generates about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten.

This means if food waste was a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet behind China and the US.

While many companies have set food waste reduction targets, there hasn’t been a uniform way to measure where and how much food is lost across operations — some consider food that goes to compost as waste; some companies don’t.

A new international standard, launched today at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) Summit 2016, addresses this issue. According to its developers, including World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Consumer Goods Forum, the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard) will create a globally consistent framework for measuring and managing food waste.

Australia’s 7.5m tonnes of food waste: can ‘ugly food’ campaigns solve the problem?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

While government needs to address food waste issue, experts say customers also need to change their perceptions about what normal food looks like.

Big Data’s Role in the Waste and Recycling Industry

Read the full story at Waste360.

Big Data, the act of gathering and storing large amounts of information for analysis, has been present in industries like education, banking, government, retail and healthcare since the early 2000s. And now it’s making its way into the waste and recycling industry.

With Big Data, members of the waste and recycling industry can optimize their routes based on historical waste and recycling data collection, which helps reduce emissions by having less trucks on the road, increase the efficiency of collection operations and drive better operational performance.

Impeded Immunity? Reduced Tuberculosis Vaccine Response with Exposure to Environmental Chemicals

Read the full story in Environmental Health Perspectives.

There is some evidence that early-life exposures to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other persistent environmental chemicals can alter the developing immune system and may be associated with diminished effectiveness for certain vaccines.1,2 This could have serious implications for parts of the world where diseases that are preventable with vaccines remain a major public health threat.3 In this issue of EHP, researchers present new evidence that two persistent organic pollutants are associated with a lower antibody response to the tuberculosis vaccine, which could potentially lower resistance to infection.4

Public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns

Download the document.

This 2016 report estimates that 1.3 million lives and 43 million disability-adjusted life-years were lost in 2012 due to exposures to selected chemicals.

However, data are only available for a small number of chemical exposures and people are exposed to many more chemicals every day.

Unintentional poisonings are estimated to cause 193 000 deaths annually, with the major part being from preventable chemical exposures, however only 47% of countries have a poisons centre.

Addressing lead exposure would prevent 9.8% of intellectual disability, 4% of ischaemic heart disease and 4.6% of stroke in the population, yet many countries do not regulate lead paint.

This report provides examples of effective interventions to prevent death and disease caused by chemicals, and the economic benefits to be gained.

Alaska’s huge climate mystery — and its global consequences

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

In recent years, climate scientists have grown increasingly concerned about a carbon problem in the far north.

The fear is that with the higher latitudes of the planet warming extremely rapidly, that heat itself, and some of its consequences – such as raging wildfires in northern forests – could unleash a climate disaster. Perennially frozen northern soils, known as permafrost, contain enormous amounts of carbon because the slow and cold chemistry of the Arctic makes them the repository of thousands of years of frozen plant remains. Warming could cause this plant matter to break down, be decomposed by bacteria and emit ancient carbon to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.

And the amounts of carbon involved are enormous – one common estimate is that there’s more than twice as much carbon stored in northern permafrost as there is currently wafting about the planet’s atmosphere.

Now, though, a major and surprising new report from the U.S. Geological Survey would appear to undercut, significantly, this worry, at least for one key northern region: the U.S. state of Alaska. In the process, the document raises deep questions about what the true carbon consequences of Alaska’s ongoing warming will be – a mystery whose solution may also implicate still greater carbon stores across Arctic regions in Canada and Siberia.