The U.S. government will for the first time prioritize the use of American-made, lower-carbon construction materials in federal procurement and federally funded projects, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced on Tuesday.
To realize this goal, the GSA has issued a request for information about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced “low-embodied-carbon” materials — or those that generate fewer carbon emissions during the process of constructing a building.
The move is part of the Biden administration’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative, which aims to stimulate markets for low-carbon products made in the U.S., according to the GSA.
As part of the development process for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) 3.0, AASHE is seeking public comment on a Procurement and Waste section slated for inclusion in the new version (projected release is currently fourth quarter of 2023). AASHE encourages feedback from stakeholders who may have relevant expertise or interest in participating. Public comment is open through Oct. 31.
This free virtual summit will bring together the stakeholders needed to solve the puzzle of sustainable refrigeration in supermarkets – including food retailers, manufacturers, service contractors, engineers, consultants, government agencies, policymakers, utilities, energy, and environmental stakeholders.
Hear the latest regulatory and industry trends and learn from leading food retailers, industry experts, and policymakers.
Water flows through a single cycle from air to surface water and groundwater, or from land to lakes and streams, evaporating and beginning its journey all over again. But environmental law and policy often overlook an entire arc of the cycle, regulating groundwater separately and increasing the potential for risks to public health and ecosystem degradation.
The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is beginning to change that. One important step forward is the inclusion of an annex devoted to groundwater. Annex 8 commits the Canadian and United States governments to coordinating groundwater science and management actions. The goal is to build the base of knowledge about the impact of groundwater on the Great Lakes, leading to specific policy and science actions.
More than 200 industry leaders have endorsed strategies from the Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) to decarbonize some of world’s hardest-to-abate, carbon-intensive industries in this decade.
New plans released at New York Climate Week for production of near-zero emissions materials — aluminum, ammonia, and steel — have won support from more than 60 companies, bringing to more than 200 the tally of endorsements for MPP’s published Sector Transition Strategies (STS) which also include aviation, shipping, and trucking.
Sustainability goals have already made reducing energy consumption a priority for the food industry. Now, soaring energy costs are adding economic urgency to that drive. How can vital energy savings be achieved?
I am a postdoctoral research fellow who studies ways to track Mars and Moon rovers. In mid-August 2022, NASA confirmed that the Mars rover Perseverance had spotted a piece of trash jettisoned during its landing, this time a tangled mess of netting. And this is not the first time scientists have found trash on Mars. That’s because there is a lot there.
Where does the debris come from?
Debris on Mars comes from three main sources: discarded hardware, inactive spacecraft and crashed spacecraft.
Every mission to the Martian surface requires a module that protects the spacecraft. This module includes a heat shield for when the craft passes through the planet’s atmosphere and a parachute and landing hardware so that it can land softly.
The craft discards pieces of the module as it descends, and these pieces can land in different locations on the planet’s surface – there may be a lower heat shield in one place and a parachute in another. When this debris crashes to the ground, it can break into smaller pieces, as happened during the Perseverance rover landing in 2021. These small pieces can then get blown around because of Martian winds.
A lot of small, windblown trash has been found over the years – like the netting material found recently. Earlier in the year, on June 13, 2022, Perseverance rover spotted a large, shiny thermal blanket wedged in some rocks 1.25 miles (2 km) from where the rover landed. Both Curiosity in 2012 and Opportunity in 2005 also came across debris from their landing vehicles.
Dead and crashed spacecraft
The nine inactive spacecraft on the surface of Mars make up the next type of debris. These craft are the Mars 3 lander, Mars 6 lander, Viking 1 lander, Viking 2 lander, the Sojourner rover, the formerly lost Beagle 2 lander, the Phoenix lander, the Spirit rover and the most recently deceased spacecraft, the Opportunity rover. Mostly intact, these might be better considered historical relics than trash.
Crashed spacecraft and their pieces are another significant source of trash. At least two spacecraft have crashed, and an additional four have lost contact before or just after landing. Safely descending to the planet’s surface is the hardest part of any Mars landing mission – and it doesn’t always end well.
When you add up the mass of all spacecraft that have ever been sent to Mars, you get about 22,000 pounds (9979 kilograms). Subtract the weight of the currently operational craft on the surface – 6,306 pounds (2,860 kilograms) – and you are left with 15,694 pounds (7,119 kilograms) of human debris on Mars.
Why does trash matter?
Today, the main concern scientists have about trash on Mars is the risk it poses to current and future missions. The Perseverance teams are documenting all debris they find and checking to see if any of it could contaminate the samples the rover is collecting. NASA engineers have also considered whether Perseverance could get tangled in debris from the landing but have concluded the risk is low.
The real reason debris on Mars is important is because of its place in history. The spacecraft and their pieces are the early milestones for human planetary exploration.