Google’s water use is soaring in The Dalles, records show, with two more data centers to come

Read the full story from the Oregonian.

Google’s water use in The Dalles has nearly tripled in the past five years, and the company’s data centers now consume more than a quarter of all the water used in the city.

That’s according to records released this week after the city settled a lawsuit against The Oregonian/OregonLive and agreed to hand over data on Google’s water consumption. The company’s water use is poised to continue soaring in the years ahead, as Google has plans for two more data centers along the Columbia River.

Vinyl Institute launches PVC recycling grant program

Read the full story in Recycling Today.

The Washington-based Vinyl Institute (VI), a U.S. trade association representing manufacturers of vinyl, has announced the formation of the Viability program. VI says this is a first-of-its-kind, industrywide recycling grant program aimed at accelerating postconsumer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) recycling in the country.   

According to a news release from VI, the grant program will make available up to $1 million in funds each year for the next three years from four PVC resin manufacturers in the U.S.: Formosa Plastics, based in New Jersey, and OxyShintech and Westlake, all based in Houston. 

EPA seeks input on decarbonizing construction materials and products

On January 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first opportunities for public input on new programs focused on lower carbon construction materials made possible by a $350 million investment from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The Agency will hold three public webinars and will accept written feedback on establishing new grant and technical assistance programs, and a carbon labeling program for construction materials with substantially lower levels of embodied greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA’s new programs will provide grants, technical assistance, and tools to help states and Tribal Nations, manufacturers, institutional buyers, real estate developers, builders, and others measure, report, and substantially lower the levels of embodied carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production, use, and disposal of construction materials and products. These new programs, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, will build upon EPA’s work in the ENERGY STAR Industrial Program and the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program, among others, to protect human health and the planet.

EPA will hold three public engagement webinars to solicit feedback from experts and stakeholders, including institutional buyers, developers, builders, manufacturers, and representatives from states, Tribal Nations, non-profit organizations, trade associations, and others.

  • March 2, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Construction Materials Prioritization and Environmental Data Improvement – This webinar will ask for feedback on how to prioritize construction materials and products and how to improve data on embodied greenhouse gas emissions through measurement, standardization, transparency and reporting criteria. Register here.
  • March 22, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Grants and Technical Assistance for Environmental Product Declarations – This webinar will ask for feedback on new grant and technical assistance programs to help businesses calculate and report the greenhouse gas emissions data for construction materials and products through Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Register here.
  • April 19, 2023, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EST: Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Labeling – This webinar will ask for feedback on how EPA could develop a carbon labeling program for construction materials and products with substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions. Register here.

In addition, EPA will issue a Request for Information to solicit written comments on the design of these new programs. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, comments on any of the questions outlined should be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2022-0924 on Regulations.gov by May 1, 2023. The Agency also published an interim determination under Inflation Reduction Act Sections 60503 and 60506 that was provided in December 2022 to the Department of Transportation and the General Services Administration on their Inflation Reduction Act funded procurement of construction materials and products with substantially lower embodied greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA will use the public input received during the webinars and in writing to guide the development and implementation of its programs.

These actions support President Biden’s Buy Clean Initiative, which leverages the Federal Government’s power as the largest purchaser in the world to advance low-carbon construction materials across its procurement and funded infrastructure projects.

Learn more about these new programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Background

In August 2022, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act into law, creating the largest investment to combat the climate crisis in U.S. history. The Inflation Reduction Act will bolster U.S. energy security, help families save money on energy costs and prescription drugs, reduce the deficit, and create good-paying jobs. EPA received $41.5 billion in appropriations to develop and support 24 new and existing programs that monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, protect health and advance environmental justice.

How a nonprofit is keeping unused building materials out of landfills

Read the full story from UpNorthLive.

A northern Michigan nonprofit is changing the way houses are being built.

Instead of unwanted or unused building materials being packed up and sent to a landfill, Bay Area Recycling for Charities is using them to help rebuild homes for those in need.

The use of e-waste in concrete

Read the full story at AZOBuild.

Staggering amounts of waste are produced by industrial and domestic activity. Utilizing waste to produce value-added products is a central focus of research, and waste streams are being increasingly utilized in building materials. This article will explore the potential use of e-waste in concrete.

2022 Funding Opportunity Announcement for Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools

Applications due: Apr 21, 2023
View the full funding opportunity.

The Office of State and Community Energy Programs is issuing this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) titled Energy Improvements at Public K-12 School Facilities – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) – Renew America’s Schools.

The activities to be funded under this FOA support BIL section 40541 and the broader government-wide approach to support projects that enable replicable and scalable impacts, create innovative, sustaining partnerships, leverage funding and economies of scale, focus on disadvantaged communities, improve student, teacher, and occupant health, enrich learning and growth, assist schools that serve as community assets (e.g., neighborhood cooling centers or disaster recovery shelters), and are crafted thoughtfully within the context of public school facilities (e.g., procurement restraints, construction windows, etc.).

Topic Area 1 – High-Impact Energy Efficiency and Health Improvements

Proposals contemplated under this topic area will include energy improvements that result in direct reduction to school energy costs, increase energy efficiency, and lead to improvements in teacher and student health, including indoor air quality. Energy cost savings may be realized by reduced loads and/or by demand flexibility and demand response approaches.

Topic Area 2 – Innovative Energy Technology Packages

Proposals contemplated under this topic include innovative energy technology packages. Applicants may include any improvement, repair, or renovation to a school that incorporates two or more of the following energy improvements:

  • Energy efficiency measures
  • Installation of renewable energy technologies
  • Alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds
  • Purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school

DOE expects to make a total of approximately $80,000,000 of federal funding available for new awards under this FOA, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. DOE anticipates making approximately 20-100 awards under this FOA. DOE may issue one, multiple, or no awards. Individual awards may vary between $500,000 and $15,000,000.

Riddle solved: Why was Roman concrete so durable?

Read the full story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An unexpected ancient manufacturing strategy may hold the key to designing concrete that lasts for millennia.

Insulation only provides short-term reduction in household gas consumption

Read the full story from the University of Cambridge.

Insulating the lofts and cavity walls of existing UK housing stock only reduces gas consumption for the first year or two, with all energy savings vanishing by the fourth year after a retrofit, according to research from policy experts at the University of Cambridge.

The latest study is the first to track in detail household gas use across England and Wales for at least five years both before and after insulation installation.

Embodied carbon draws increased attention from the building sector

Read the full story from the New Buildings Institute.

Embodied carbon, or the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with building materials from extraction through end-of-life and disposal/reuse, makes up more than 11% of global emissions. Embodied carbon emissions are not part of the energy efficiency regulated by the energy code. However, there has been a wave of embodied carbon actions at the local, state, and federal levels—most recently an allocation of many billions of dollars in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 for federal procurement and industry support of low-carbon building products.

With light being shone on the lifecycle impacts of building products, consumers—including government purchasers—are requesting manufacturers to share product information and deliver low-embodied carbon solutions. Procurement policies (also known as “Buy Clean” policies) are springing up across the county. Momentum is building for embodied carbon policies and initiatives that will make low-embodied carbon products one of the fastest growing markets of the next decade.

Leaky air ducts can undermine heat-pump performance. Aeroseal has a fix

Read the full story at Canary Media.

After decades of steady growth, a tech that seals air ducts from the inside out may be poised to take off, thanks to new heat-pump and efficiency incentives.