Webinar: Private Sector Financing Solutions for Nutrient Reductions

June 26, 2019 noon-1:30 pm CDT
Register here.

You are invited to attend a webinar co-hosted by EPA and USDA on innovative private-sector financing solutions for reducing nutrients. Our featured speakers will highlight strategies including environmental impact bonds, program-related investments, and performance-based strategies using public-private financing.

This is the second in a four-part webinar series featuring case studies of successful approaches from across the country for funding nutrient reductions. For more information on this webinar, please contact waterfinancecenter@epa.gov.

About the Water Finance Center
EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center is an information and assistance center, identifying water infrastructure financing approaches that help communities reach their public health and environmental goals.

There’s a looming waste crisis from Australia’s solar energy boom

Read the full story in the The Conversation.

As Australians seek to control rising energy costs and tackle the damaging impacts of climate change, rooftop solar has boomed.

To manage the variability of rooftop solar – broadly, the “no power at night” problem – we will also see a rapid increase in battery storage.

The question is: what will happen to these panels and batteries once they reach the end of their life?

If not addressed, ageing solar panels and batteries will create a mountain of hazardous waste for Australia over the coming decades.

Our research, published recently in the Journal of Cleaner Production, looked at the barriers to managing solar panel waste, and how to improve it.

Consumers Would Pay More for Sustainable Products Designed to Be Reused or Recycled, Survey Finds

Read the full story at Manufacturing.net.

More than half of consumers said they would pay more for sustainable products designed to be reused or recycled, according to results of a survey from Accenture.

Rochester Leaders Looking at Zero-Energy Ready Homes Program

Read the full story at KAAL-TV.

Environmentally friendly and sustainable homes are becoming all the rage, and the City of Rochester is taking notice.

For 40 years, Brian Wimmer has been building and remodeling homes.

For the past 14 years, he’s also helped families get into affordable homes as the construction manager for the Rochester Area Habitat for Humanity.

Climate Resilience: DOD Needs to Assess Risk and Provide Guidance on Use of Climate Projections in Installation Master Plans and Facilities Designs

Download the document.

Department of Defense (DOD) installations have not consistently assessed risks from extreme weather and climate change effects or consistently used projections to anticipate future climate conditions. For example, DOD’s 2018 preliminary assessment of extreme weather and climate effects at installations was based on the installations’ reported past experiences with extreme weather rather than an analysis of future vulnerabilities based on climate projections. Fifteen of the 23 installations GAO visited or contacted had considered some extreme weather and climate change effects in their plans as required by DOD guidance, but 8 had not. For example, Fort Irwin, California, worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve stormwater drainage after intense flash flooding caused significant damage to base infrastructure. By contrast, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, did not include such considerations in its plans, although it is located in an area subject to tropical storms and where further sea level rise is anticipated.

Flooding at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia

GAO also found that most of the installations had not used climate projections, because they lack guidance on how to incorporate projections into their master plans. Not assessing risks or using climate projections in installation planning may expose DOD facilities to greater-than-anticipated damage or degradation as a result of extreme weather or climate-related effects.

Eleven of the 23 installations we reviewed had designed one or more individual facilities projects to increase the resilience of the facilities to extreme weather and climate change effects. However, project designs generally did not consider climate projections, according to installation officials. These officials told us that DOD lacks guidance on how to use climate projections that involve multiple future scenarios and different time periods. Until DOD updates its facilities design standards to require installations to consider climate projections in project designs, identify authoritative sources for them to use, and provide guidance on how to use projections, installation project designers may continue to exclude consideration of climate projections from facilities project designs, potentially making investments that are planned without consideration of climate-related risks.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD manages a global real-estate portfolio with an almost $1.2 trillion estimated replacement value. Since 2010, DOD has identified climate change as a threat to its operations and installations. In January 2019, DOD stated that the effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to the department’s missions, operational plans, and installations. GAO was asked to assess DOD’s progress in developing a means to account for potentially damaging weather in its facilities project designs.

GAO examined the extent to which DOD has taken steps to incorporate resilience to extreme weather and climate change effects into (1) selected installation master plans and related planning documents, and (2) selected individual installation facilities projects.

GAO reviewed DOD documents related to increasing climate resilience, conducting installation master planning, and designing facilities projects. GAO visited or contacted a non-generalizable sample of 23 installations that had been associated with one or more climate vulnerabilities.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making eight recommendations, including that the military departments work together to update master planning criteria to require an assessment of extreme weather and climate change risks and to incorporate DOD guidance on the use of climate projections into facilities design standards. GAO also recommends that DOD issue guidance on incorporating climate projections into installation master planning and facilities project designs. DOD concurred with all eight of GAO’s recommendations.

An Assessment of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Chesapeake Bay, MD and Charleston Harbor, SC

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NOAA’s National Status and Trends (NS&T) Mussel Watch Program conducted regional pilot studies to assess the magnitude and distribution of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) in shellfish and sediment from different coastal zones.

In 2015, oyster and surficial sediment samples from study areas in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, and Charleston Harbor, South Carolina were assessed for CECs, such as pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs), current use pesticides, flame retardants, new industrial chemicals, stain resistant compounds, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Results indicated that CECs are being accumulated at various degrees in coastal resources and the environment.

Classes of CECs most frequently detected in oyster tissues and sediments from both study areas were the perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), the flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs), and current use pesticides. In the Chesapeake Bay, at least one PFC and PBDE flame retardant was detected in all sediment samples. In Chesapeake Bay sediment samples, PFCs and PBDEs were detected in 40% and 21%, respectively, of all measurements (considering both numbers of compounds and numbers of samples).

In contrast, alternative (non-brominated) flame retardants had the lowest frequency of detection of all CEC classes. The highest concentrations of CECs detected in Maryland oyster tissues were found to be associated with the pharmaceuticals prednisone (144,000 pg/g wet mass), hydrocortisone (47400 pg/g wet mass), and acetaminophen (23,300 pg/g wet mass). However, PPCPs were detected far less frequently than PBDEs and PFCs in Maryland tissue and sediment.

At least one CEC was detected at each South Carolina station for both sediment and oysters samples. In Charleston Harbor samples, CEC detection frequencies followed a similar overall pattern as in Chesapeake Bay. Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were the most frequently detected CECs, at 16.7% and 11.1% in sediments and oysters respectively.

The flame retardants (PBDEs) were also often detected in both sediments and oysters in South Carolina samples. The highest concentrations reported in Charleston Harbor sediments, however, were for current use pesticides, specifically the pyrethroid insecticides permethrin (6,890 ng/g dry mass) and cypermethrin (1,590 ng/g dry mass). Overall occurrence and distribution of some CEC chemicals appeared to be associated with land use categories in the watershed adjacent to the survey sites.

Although further study is required to confirm this association, in general, the number of reported concentrations at urban sites was elevated compared to the suburban sites in both study areas. The same relative numbers were observed between suburban and undeveloped (or Reference) sites.

Craft beautiful equations in Word with LaTeX

Read the full story in Nature.

Manufacturers are ditching equation editors in word-processing software in favour of the LaTeX typesetting language. Here’s how to get started.

Michigan Integrated Resource Plan Primer

Read the full story from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Planning is one of the most important exercises you can do to bring any vision or goal to life. That’s why 2016 Michigan energy law kickstarted a cycle of required long-term energy planning for utilities like Consumers and DTE called Integrated Resource Plans (IRP). These plans outline the role utilities will play in the state’s energy future and are approved or denied by the Michigan Public Service Commission. This blog will walk through what an integrated resource plan is, why these plans are so important, and what is required of utilities throughout the planning process. By better understanding the process and finding more opportunities to bring in the wants and concerns of the community, we can give customers more decision-making power in pursuit of safe, affordable, and reliable energy.

What it’s really like to wear a capsule wardrobe every single day

Read the full story at Fast Company.

A new crop of fashion brands are designing shape-shifting pieces that can be worn in many different ways. The idea? Clothing that you can wear every day—for years.

Every single piece of these sneakers is made from plants

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Instead of tossing these in the trash when you wear them through, drop them in your compost bin, where they’ll naturally decompose (yes, the soles too).