Universities push to slash energy use: Summer Study speaker describes how

Read the full story from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Across the United States, the push for net-zero energy buildings is gaining momentum. Because this trend holds great promise for deep energy savings, next month’s Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings will devote an entire panel — with 30 presentations — to the topic.

As part of the “Zero Energy – Moving Beyond 1%” Panel 10, speakers will explore cutting-edge efforts to build homes, affordable housing, schools, and communities that use as little energy as possible by incorporating efficiency measures and renewable power generation. College campuses are showing leadership in this area, and to further their impact ACEEE launched the Shrink Your Dorm Print campaign last summer to help students save energy.

To learn more about campus efforts, I reached out to Otto Van Geet, one of our Summer Study speakers. He’s principal engineer in the Integrated Applications Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which has tools to help universities develop and implement their energy-reduction plans. He’s also lead author of the paper, “Zero Energy University Campuses: A 2018 Progress Update on Reaching Campus Energy Goals.” In our conversation, excerpted below, Van Geet gives highlights of the paper that he will present at Summer Study.

Michigan declares state of emergency for Parchment PFAS contamination

Read the full story at MLive.

A state of emergency has been declared by state of Michigan officials in response to high levels of PFAS discovered in the city of Parchment’s municipal water source.

3M knew about the dangers of PFOA and PFOS decades ago, internal documents show

Read the full story in The Intercept. This story in Part 17 in their ongoing Toxic Teflon series, which started in 2015.

News that the Environmental Protection Agency pressured the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to suppress a study showing PFAS chemicals to be even more dangerous than previously thought drew outrage this spring. The EPA pressure delayed the study’s publication for several months, and a similar dynamic seems to have been in play this July in Michigan, where Robert Delaney, a state scientist who tried to raise alarms about the chemicals six years ago, was largely ignored. Delaney, who delivered a report to his superiors about high levels of the chemicals in fish and the dangers they presented to people, has been heralded as prophetic. And both delays are being lamented as missed opportunities for getting critical information to the public.

But the dangers presented by these industrial chemicals have been known for decades, not just a few months or years. A lawsuit filed by Minnesota against 3M, the company that first developed and sold PFOS and PFOA, the two best-known PFAS compounds, has revealed that the company knew that these chemicals were accumulating in people’s blood for more than 40 years. 3M researchers documented the chemicals in fish, just as the Michigan scientist did, but they did so back in the 1970s. That same decade, 3M scientists realized that the compounds they produced were toxic. The company even had evidence back then of the compounds’ effects on the immune system, studies of which are just now driving the lower levels put forward by the ATSDR, as well as several states and the European Union.

PFAS: Putting the genie back in the bottle

Read the full story at WasteDive.

As the EPA moves to curb the detrimental effects of PFAS, remediation is likely to become one of the most significant environmental management issues in the coming years.

Hotel guests’ perception of best green practices: A content analysis of online reviews

Sungpo Yi, Xu Li, and Tun-Min (Catherine) Jai (2016). “Hotel guests’ perception of best green practices: A content analysis of online reviews.” Tourism and Hospitality Research
18(2), 191-202. https://doi.org/10.1177/1467358416637251

Abstract: The primary purpose of this study is to investigate guests’ perception of green hotels through a content analysis of online hotel reviews. A total of 7370 comments were collected, and 737 green comments were analyzed based on TripAdvisor’s top 10 green hotels. Our results indicate that the majority of hotel green practices are perceived as positive. Hotel guests consider some green practices, such as a reflective roofing system, a storm water management system, and guest training, as sincere efforts by hotels to be green and they complement them. However, some hotel guests assert that hotels may just be using green practices as a marketing tool or to gain financial benefits. Some green practices, such as temperature control, low water pressure, and degradable utensils, are actually not positively perceived. Therefore, our results suggest to hotel operators how they should implement being a sincere green hotel and how green practices should be approached to build environmental friendly branding strategies.

How battery systems can integrate renewable energy in smart grids

Read the full story at Youris.com.

By 2030, 32% of the energy consumed in the EU must be generated from renewable sources, such as water, wind and sun. To achieve this, it doesn’t suffice to increase the number of wind turbines and solar cells. Extended and adapted transport and distribution grids are also necessary.

Perovskite Challenges Silicon’s Dominance in Solar Power

Read the full story from the Daily Beast.

You might mistake perovskite researchers for audiophiles the way they’ve been collecting records.

The crystalline compound has the photovoltaic industry abuzz thanks to its relatively low cost, no-fuss production, and rapid development.

Hardly a week goes by without reports of a perovskite (pronounced p’raf-skite) solar cell approach toppling another efficiency record. In the past month or so records have been set with a tandem cell7-cell mini moduleinverted cell and the largest, most efficient flexible film-type cell. No solar technology has ever advanced this quickly.

UK theme parks to offer half-price entry in exchange for used plastic bottles

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Visitors to some of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions are to be offered half-price entry in exchange for used plastic drinks bottles, as part of a trial starting on Wednesday which gives instant incentives for recycling.

In a tie-up between theme park operator Merlin and drinks giant Coca-Cola, a series of so-called “reverse vending machines” will be installed outside the entrances of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland.

Yum Brands Restaurants Saved 1.3 Billion Gallons of Water Last Year

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, says its restaurants saved an estimated 1.3 billion gallons of water last year. According to the company’s 2017 Global Citizenship & Sustainability Report published today, this water efficiency was achieved through smart building practices.

The report says that the company implemented 40,000 energy and water-savings technologies in 2017. More than a third of their new restaurants currently meet Yum! Brands’ green building guidelines for water consumption.

New Toxics Release Inventory Data Available

On July 31, EPA published preliminary Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data about chemical releases, waste management and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2017 at more than 20,000 federal and industrial facilities across the country.

The 2017 data are available in two ways:

  • by downloading data files that can be opened using Excel or another spreadsheet application; and
  • by going to EPA’s Envirofacts website and searching for a specific location, industry sector, or facility.

You can use these preliminary data to identify how many TRI facilities operate in a certain geographic area and where they are located, as well as what chemicals facilities are managing and in what quantities.

The preliminary dataset homepage has all the information you need.

While the preliminary data have not yet been through the complete TRI data quality process, the software facilities used to submit these data includes many automated quality checks that help prevent facilities from making common mistakes. EPA is now conducting additional quality checks on the preliminary data.

Planned Dataset Updates

EPA will be updating the dataset several times as we receive additional information from facilities. Here’s what you can expect during the summer and fall:

  • July 31, 2018: 2017 preliminary dataset available in data files and Envirofacts TRI searches.
  • August: Dataset updated several times.
  • mid-September: Dataset updated; TRI Explorer and TRI P2 Search Tool now have 2017 data.
  • October: Complete 2017 dataset available.