2017 – New Bioways for Highways – Year Four

A three-year University of Illinois study of using grasses mowed along Illinois highways for energy has been funded for a large pilot implementation during 2017-18. The multi-disciplinary team estimated the state-wide practice could defray the cost of mowing and add more than $2 million in income for the funding agency — the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Leaving the Gray Behind

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Researchers with EPA’s Net Zero Program are working with the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas Unified School District 475, and other partners to demonstrate and assess green infrastructure technologies and performance at Fort Riley, an Army base in Kansas.

Product Design for the Circular Economy: Q and A with Sterilis

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Healthcare facilities in the US generate millions of pounds of medical waste every year. Most of that infectious material gets picked up by trucks, hauled away, and incinerated in a process that environmental groups say produces toxic emissions and ash residues. Enter Sterilis, a company based in Boxborough, Massachusetts, that makes a device for handling the waste safely onsite.

Their self-contained portable machine sterilizes waste for 30 minutes using steam and then grinds it into a confetti material. That step reduces the waste volume by 80%, according to the company. From there, the ground material can be safely transported and even recycled.

“We can take highly infectious waste that is handled with kid gloves and transform it into benign sterilized waste,” says Sterilis CEO Bob Winskowicz. He adds that the company wants to identify more secondary uses for that waste. “The circular economy is evolving for us and we’re very excited about it.”

This summer the Sterilis device won an Environmental Leader Award. One of the judges highlighted how the product addresses the enormous medical waste problem. “The ability to reduce the volume and danger earlier in the medical waste life-cycle impacts downstream handling issues and costs,” the judge commented.

We recently caught up with Winskowicz and Sterilis president and CFO Jeff Bell to learn about their process for designing and developing a sustainable device.

To Protect Vulnerable Populations, Plant More Trees

Read the full post from the Nature Conservancy.

If you want evidence of climate change’s devastating effects, just look at the news over the last few weeks. Phoenix, Arizona got so hot planes couldn’t land. Iran set a new record temperature of 54°C. Perhaps most frightening, a devastating heatwave continues to grip much of Europe, killing at least five people so far and causing droughts, wildfires and transit shutdowns—Italians have dubbed the weather event “Lucifer.”

One can argue there’s nothing new or remarkable about summer heatwaves, of course. But what isnew and remarkable is their frequency and intensity, and they’ll likely get worse if we don’t take steps to curb climate change. Cities will be particularly hard hit, as the urban heat island effect—caused by sparse vegetation and heat-absorbing surfaces like asphalt—can result in temperatures as much as 12°C higher than in less-developed areas nearby. While the heat island effect will remain consistent as the climate changes, the additive challenges of higher temperatures and paved cities will make many neighborhoods less livable.

And for certain neighborhoods within cities, the situation is even worse. The urban heat islands are most prevalent in lower income neighborhoods, where residents are also less likely to have air conditioning or easy access to public cooling centers. In our fast-heating cities, climate change is threatening those who are already most vulnerable.

New wastewater treatment system runs on algae

Read the full story in The Hawk Eye.

Columbus Junction could count itself among pioneering cities in the struggle to treat wastewater if the city council approves new technology that favors algae over bacteria.

How Houston Can Become More Resilient To Future Floods

Read the full story in Fast Company.

All coastal cities need to understand that water is going to be coming more frequently than ever, and design systems that absorb and store flood waters safely.

Architects Speak Out Against Trump’s Latest Executive Order

Read the full story in Fast Company.

One issue that the right and left agreed upon in the 2016 election? Infrastructure. The country’s roads, bridges, highways, hospitals, railways, and water systems need immediate attention. President Trump promised to spend $1 trillion to improve the situation; so far, no comprehensive plan has been released–but the president is implementing policy that will impact how these projects are designed and built. And according to environmentalists and architects, it might make infrastructure weaker, not stronger.