Monthly Archives: April 2013
The University of Toledo will use the results of a new Green Office Survey to determine which campus offices are conserving energy, recycling and reducing waste. Results from the survey will be used to create tiers for their Green Office Certification program, which will offer incentives to become eco-friendly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the four winners of the Campus RainWorks Challenge, a new design challenge created to inspire the next generation of landscape architects, planners and engineers to develop innovative green infrastructure systems that reduce stormwater pollution and support sustainable communities. The University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., was named 2nd place winner for large institutions.
The Campus RainWorks Challenge engages students and faculty members at colleges and universities to apply green infrastructure principles and design, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the use of green infrastructure on campuses across the nation. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students, working with a faculty advisor, developed innovative green infrastructure designs for a site on their campus showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the campus community and the environment.
Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment and contributing to downstream flooding.
The University of Arizona team’s design plan centers on the redevelopment of a 70,000-square-foot parking lot located within a cluster of academic buildings. The design will replace the parking lot with a campus common area featuring two rings of retention basins to infiltrate stormwater runoff, five underground cisterns to harvest runoff and HVAC condensate from the adjacent buildings, and a translucent shade structure with an ephemeral water feature. Water collected in the underground cisterns is used to irrigate the landscape, reducing potable water use from 700,000 to 90,000 gallons/year.
The other challenge winners were the University of Florida, Gainesville (1st prize, large institution), the – Illinois Institute of Technology (1st prize, small institution), and the Missouri University of Science and Technology (2nd prize, small institution). Teams from Kansas State University, Columbia University, California State Polytechnic University, and University of Texas-Arlington were recognized as honorable mentions for their entries.
The challenge received submissions from 218 teams, which were reviewed by more than 30 expert judges from EPA, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Water Environment Federation, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Many of the submissions proposed transformative additions to the campus landscape that would reduce stormwater impacts while educating students about the movement of water through the urban environment. The winning teams were selected based on six criteria: analysis and planning; preservation or restoration of natural features; integrated water management; soil and vegetation management; value to campus; and likelihood of implementation.
Green infrastructure helps communities to maintain healthy waters, support sustainable communities, and provide multiple environmental benefits. Green infrastructure captures and filters pollutants by passing stormwater through soils and retaining it on site. Example of effective green infrastructure include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/campusrainworks
Throughout the 2012-13 academic year, EPA’s Green Power Partnership tracked the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power usage in the nation. The Green Power Challenge is open to all U.S. colleges, universities, and conferences. To join the Partnership, visit http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/join/index.htm.
On April 17, 2013, EPA concluded the Green Power Challenge and recognized a Champion Green Power Conference as well as the largest single green power users within each participating conference as 2012-13 EPA Green Power Challenge conference champions. The Champion Green Power Conference and individual conference champions are listed here. To be listed, a conference must have at least one Green Power Partner and an aggregate green power purchase of at least 10,000,000 kWh across the conference.
The Big 10 Conference was the Collective Conference Champion. The Ohio State University was individual champion. 23.5% of Ohio State’s power comes from green power sources.
Twenty-three colleges and universities in New England have joined an EPA effort to cut the amount of food that goes to waste. This doubles the participation of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2013, since eleven New England colleges and universities were already participating in the challenge. In 2011, these schools recovered a total of 4,538 tons of food.
The partnership, which was announced in honor of Earth Day, aims to reduce the 1.64 million tons of food wasted each year in the six New England states. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, encourages organizations to reduce, donate, and recycle as much of their excess food as possible, which saves money, feeds the needy, and helps protect the environment-the triple bottom line. By joining the Challenge, participating schools pledge to reduce food waste going to disposal on their campuses.
The colleges and universities who joined the program this year are:
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester
Lesley University, Cambridge
Salem State University, Salem
Westfield State University, Westfield
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Boston College, Chestnut Hill
Worcester State University, Worcester
Tufts University, Medford
Assumption College, Worcester
Wellesley College, Wellesley
Bentley University, Waltham
Johnson & Wales University, Providence
Roger Williams University, Bristol
University of Rhode Island, Kingston
University of Maine, Farmington
University of Maine, Orono
College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor
Lyndon State College in Lyndon
Johnson State College, Johnson
Vermont Technical College, Randolph
Plymouth State University, Plymouth
University of Connecticut, Storrs
Wesleyan University, Middletown
Sodexo, CompassUSA, Aramark dining hall operators also participate in the Food Recovery Challenge as dining hall contractors. The National Association of College and University Dining Services, who represents this food service industry, formally endorsed the Challenge as part of its sustainability mission. There is a growing recognition in the College and University Sector of the importance of sustainable food management.
The Food Recovery Network, a group of 19 colleges and universities that volunteer to recover surplus food from their campuses and donated to those in need, also formally endorsed EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. The Network was started at the University of Maryland in 2011 and in 2012 became a not-for-profit. The organization recovered more than 130,000 pounds of food in its first year of operation, and continues to promote the connection between wasted food on college campuses and opportunities to aid in local hunger relief. More than 14 percent of households in the U.S. were food insecure, in 2009, meaning they did not know where their next meal would come from.
Food waste generated by local institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities and restaurants is often actually safe, wholesome food that could feed millions of Americans, according to both the US Department of Agriculture and EPA. EPA is working with institutions and hunger-relief organizations to increase food donations. Composting food waste also leads to important environmental outcomes. Composted food waste creates a valuable soil product that can be used to enhance the quality of soils.
Diverting food waste from landfills also reduces the generation of harmful gases that contribute to climate change. When food is disposed of in a landfill, it decomposes rapidly and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. After paper, food waste comprises the greatest volume of waste going into our nation’s landfills. In 2010, 34 million tons of food waste was generated but only 3 percent of this waste stream was diverted to composting.
The Food Recovery Challenge is part of the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely-used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed.
- EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge/
- EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/smm/index.htm
Hundreds of three-speed bikes painted “Chicago blue” will hit the streets in June when the city debuts a bicycle-sharing rental program that originally was set to launch last summer, officials are expected to announce Thursday.
Operating under the name Divvy, which is intended to convey the idea of sharing bikes, the system will start out with about 75 solar-powered docking stations in the downtown and River North areas and expand within a year to 400 stations and about 4,000 bicycles covering much of the city, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 23, 2013 , v110 n17 p6907-6912) / by Lee Hannaha, Patrick R. Roehrdanz, Makihiko Ikegami, Anderson V. Shepard, M. Rebecca Shaw, Gary Tabord, Lu Zhie, Pablo A. Marquet and Robert J. Hijmans. Online at http://www.pnas.org/content/110/17/6907.full.pdf+html.
Abstract: Climate change is expected to impact ecosystems directly, such as through shifting climatic controls on species ranges, and indirectly, for example through changes in human land use that may result in habitat loss. Shifting patterns of agricultural production in response to climate change have received little attention as a potential impact pathway for ecosystems. Wine grape production provides a good test case for measuring indirect impacts mediated by changes in agriculture, because viticulture is sensitive to climate and is concentrated in Mediterranean climate regions that are global biodiversity hotspots. Here we demonstrate that, on a global scale, the impacts of climate change on viticultural suitability are substantial, leading to possible conservation conflicts in land use and freshwater ecosystems. Area suitable for viticulture decreases 25% to 73% in major wine producing regions by 2050 in the higher RCP 8.5 concentration pathway and 19% to 62% in the lower RCP 4.5. Climate change may cause establishment of vineyards at higher elevations that will increase impacts on upland ecosystems and may lead to conversion of natural vegetation as production shifts to higher latitudes in areas such as western North America. Attempts to maintain wine grape productivity and quality in the face of warming may be associated with increased water use for irrigation and to cool grapes through misting or sprinkling, creating potential for freshwater conservation impacts. Agricultural adaptation and conservation efforts are needed that anticipate these multiple possible indirect effects.
Read the full story in Atlantic Cities.
I awoke at dawn in my Times Square hotel, stepped into the bathroom, and with a shudder starting thinking of Jeremy Irons.
Not after looking in the mirror – far from it – but because the night before I’d heard him talk about the massive amount of plastic there is in the world, overflowing from landfills, spewing toxins in the air when burned, floating in massive flotillas in the oceans, stubbornly refusing to biodegrade. And there it was at my sink – the comb I’d requested, wrapped in plastic, the toothbrush, the razor. All handed to me, for good measure, in a plastic bag.
I went to make coffee, and the filter was plastic. The Styrofoam cups were also sheathed in plastic, as if that suggested they were fresh and clean, ready to be used for the first time and then tossed. I balled up all the plastic and stuffed it into my bag. Not that hauling it back to Brookline would make much difference. But I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out.
Irons, with his shoulder-length, salt-and-pepper hair and dark aviator glasses, was in town for a special screening of his documentary film Trashed, as part of the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference. The focus of the gathering was building, and for the most part retrofitting, sustainable cities. That included the ways that cities can better manage their enormous waste streams. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new initiative with 100 restaurants, from Chipotle to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill New York, to divert 20,000 tons of daily refuse from landfill to compost.
Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.
Wisconsin has not systematically looked for endocrine disruptors statewide. Research and regulation of them is poorly funded and loosely coordinated, according to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism review of records and interviews with government officials and environmental experts.
Agronomy, an open access international and cross-disciplinary scholarly journal on agronomy and agroecology, has published a special issue entitled Biochar as Option for Sustainable Resource Management. Five articles have been published to date. They are:
- Biochar Effect on Maize Yield and Soil Characteristics in Five Conservation Farming Sites in Zambia
- A Review of Biochar and Soil Nitrogen Dynamics
- Characterization and Mineralization Rates of Low Temperature Peanut Hull and Pine Chip Biochars
- Biochar Impacts on Soil Physical Properties and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Impact of Biochar on Organic Contaminants in Soil: A Tool for Mitigating Risk?
Visit the special issue page to access the above articles, as well as review the planned articles that have not yet been published.