SEC chair spars with senators over climate rules

Read the full story at The Hill.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler faced a grilling on Capitol Hill on Thursday, with the agency head defending the SEC’s approach to issues including climate disclosure and cryptocurrency regulation.

The SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rules — which it released in March — would require publicly traded companies to calculate and publish the risks that climate change poses to their operations and what they are doing to address it.

Republicans have criticized the rules as onerous, arguing they are an example of the SEC conducting policy beyond its mandate. Gensler joined two other Democratic commissioners in voting for the proposed rules in March, while the SEC’s lone Republican commissioner, Hester Peirce, voted no.

Patagonia’s billionaire owner gives away company to fight climate crisis

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Setting a new example in environmental corporate leadership, the billionaire owner of Patagonia is giving the entire company away to fight the Earth’s climate devastation, he announced on Wednesday.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who turned his passion for rock climbing into one of the world’s most successful sportswear brands, is giving the entire company to a uniquely structured trust and non-profit, designed to pump all of the company’s profits into saving the planet.

Green Energy Jobs in the US: What Are They, and Where Are They?

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Does the growth of renewable energy benefit US workers, and which workers stand to benefit the most? Until now, evidence on green energy jobs has been limited due to measurement issues. We use data on nearly all jobs posted online in the US, as collected by Burning Glass Technology, and we create a new measure of green jobs, defined here as solar and wind jobs. We use job titles and task requirements to define green jobs.

We find that both solar and wind job postings have more than tripled since 2010, with solar jobs seeing especially strong growth that precedes the growth of new installed solar capacity. In 2019, we identify approximately 52,500 solar job openings and 13,500 wind job openings. Solar jobs are mostly (33%) in sales occupations, and in the utilities industry (16%). Wind jobs are most represented among installation and maintenance occupations (37%), and in the manufacturing industry (29%). Green jobs are created in occupations that are about 21% higher paying than average. The pay premium is even higher for jobs with a low educational requirement.

Finally, green jobs tend to locate in counties with high shares of employment in fossil fuel extraction. Overall, our results suggest that the growth of renewable energy leads to the creation of relatively high paying jobs, which are more often than not located in areas that stand to lose from a decline in fossil fuel extraction jobs.

Ceres launches initiative to showcase water risks

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Ceres has launched the Valuing Water Finance Initiative, a way for 72 corporate water users and polluters to consider water as a financial risk and to better protect water systems. 

Shell’s new plan to bolster sustainable aviation fuel

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Sustainable aviation fuel is one potential path airline’s can travel to mitigate aviation’s impact on the climate crisis. Shell is hoping to lead the charge for cleaner business travel.

Subsurface Characterization, Monitoring, and Modeling of a Geothermal Exchange Borefield for the Campus Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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This report presents the outcome of research in geothermal energy, specifically geothermal exchange, conducted by geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineers at the Illinois State Geological Survey and Illinois Water Resources Center in partnership with engineering faculty and students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (U of I), who are members of the newly-formed Illinois Geothermal Coalition. This effort brought together a multi-disciplinary and multiorganizational team of scientists and engineers who are focused on advancing the application of geothermal energy technologies for district heating and cooling systems that allow energy end users to meet net carbon neutrality, renewable energy, and grid resilience goals.

The research specifically supported the design and operation of a shallow geothermal exchange system for the U of I and its private partners at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) that just recently came online in April 2021. As academic campuses aggressively pursue renewable and sustainable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprints and enhance operational resiliency, geothermal energy has increasingly garnered more interest and is considered an uninterruptible source of heating and cooling, offering greater dependability in supplying a constant energy load with the least impact on the energy grid. Geothermal energy is very attractive because of its long-term environmental and economic benefits, especially since heating, cooling, and dehumidification systems in buildings are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) and are estimated to consume more than 40% of the nation’s electricity.

At the U of I, the administration and students are pursuing an aggressive strategy to obtain a sustainable campus environment and become carbon neutral by eliminating or offsetting GHG emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050. At the CIF, the goal is to exceed the per-building metrics proposed in the 2020 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) by connecting the geothermal exchange system with radiant heating and cooling as part of an energy-efficient design that is expected to save ~2,839 million Btu (MMBtu) of energy per year and reduce GHG emissions by >70% compared to similarsized buildings. Nearly 65% of that energy load (~135 tons of heating and cooling capacity) will be supplied by the geothermal exchange system.

Unlike in western regions of the U.S. where hot fluids and steam in volcanic rocks are used to generate electricity or for direct heating, in the Midwest region geothermal energy systems typically use thermal exchange technologies that take advantage of the thermal energy stored in the Earth’s subsurface (typically within the upper 100–150 m [~330–500 ft]). Using geothermal heat pumps, refrigerant fluid or water is circulated through boreholes allowing heat to be absorbed or released to the ground (e.g., Lund 2002). The geothermal exchange system takes advantage of the constant ground temperature throughout the year below depths of ~10 m (~33 feet). The ground temperature below this depth is not impacted by seasonal changes in atmospheric conditions, and thus ground-based heating and cooling systems run more efficiently. Furthermore, geographic areas such as the U.S. Midwest region have a consistently variable climate (e.g., cold winters and hot summers), which can maximize the benefits offered by utilizing the natural thermal energy from the ground.

KC Water hosts tour at future biosolids facility site

Read the full story at Northeast News.

The Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant, located near I-435 and Front Street, is transforming into one of the most critical water infrastructure projects in the Kansas City area, the Blue River Biosolids Facility.

Rotterdam uses smart tech to ‘save city from drowning’

Read the full story at Corporate Knights.

About four-fifths of the Dutch port is below sea level, but a blue-green roofing grid and other smart city technology might help keep Rotterdam flood proof.

Energy efficiency, carbon reduction grow smart manufacturing market

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Through active initiatives to increase energy conservation and reduce carbon emissions, the smart manufacturing market is expected to reach $620 billion by 2026, according to TrendForce.

Automation, remote operations, simulation operations, and a focus on emerging markets will all drive the growth of smart manufacturing. An increase in low-carbon machinery, more sustainable packaging, and circular manufacturing will also contribute to the growth, according to the TrendForce research.

The Danish art of decarbonizing energy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

What can we learn from Denmark about deep decarbonization?