Daily Archives: April 13, 2012

Lush Walls Rise to Fight a Blanket of Pollution

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Eco-sculptures are the latest indication that Mexico City has become a leader in environmental efforts for the developing world.


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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Climate change, Urban agriculture


Food scraps-to-energy startup snags funding from Al Gore, First Solar chief

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Global investment in clean energy isn’t exactly breaking records this year. But investors still appear to be willing to pour money into waste-to-energy companies like Harvest Power.

The Waltham, Mass.-based startup announced Thursday it raised $110 million from several high-profile investors, including Generation Investment Management, the fund co-founded by Al Gore; and Kleiner Perkins. The series C round of financing was led by True North Venture Partners, a new investment firm launched by First Solar interim CEO Michael Ahearn.

Harvest Power builds plants that process organic materials like food scraps and yard trimmings and converts them into biogas, soil and natural fertilizer products. The company, which was founded in 2008, designs and builds two types of anaerobic digestion systems to produce biogas, which can be burned for power or further processed into compressed natural gas fuel.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Green business, Waste to energy


Sustainability consultants find plenty of demand

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

As environmental responsibility becomes increasingly important to businesses, a new field is emerging to help guide them through the process.
A report by consulting firm Green Research reveals an influx of new sustainability consultants worldwide – 40 percent of whom entered the industry less than three years ago.
The growth is led by a large number of small firms. The research shows more than 60 percent of sustainability consultants work for a firm with fewer than 10 employees, or on their own.
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Green business, Publications


Webinar series for printers on environmental sustainability

Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:00pm – Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:50pm

Gather your staff, order lunch, and then join us for the first in a series of three May noon Webinars. These Webinars are designed to help you confirm their regulatory status and identify ways you can save money through sustainable practices. Webinars are presented in partnership with the trade association and funded in part by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There is no charge for these trainings, but participants do need to pre-register by going to the links(s) below.

Register for one or all three Webinars by clicking on the date:

In partnership with the Printing Industries of America and the Kansas SBEAP, these 50-minute sessions are designed to help printers answer the following questions:

  • How can I make my practices more sustainable, reduce emissions, and save money?
  • When is it legal for me to evaporate my waste solvents or inks?
  • What is the right way to handle used solvent rags?
  • Is there a compliance assistance checklist?
  • What is the Sustainable Green Printers Partnership?
  • How do I track my solvent emissions to determine if I need an air permit?
  • What type of air emissions record keeping should I be maintaining?
  • How can I learn more about free, confidential site visits offered by SBEAP?

Once registered you will receive an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the Webinar.


Energy Department Announces $2.5 Million to Advance Technologies for Clean-Burning, Efficient Biomass Cookstoves

The Energy Department today announced up to $2.5 million available this year for applied research to advance clean biomass cookstove technologies for use in developing countries. The funding will support the development of innovative cookstove designs that allow users to burn wood or crop residues more efficiently and with less smoke than open fires and traditional stoves, helping to save lives and improve livelihoods. The Department of Energy, along with other federal agencies, is a founding partner of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership to advance cookstove technologies that improve indoor air quality, reduce carbon emissions, and deliver important benefits for people’s health and the economies of developing nations around the world.

“Although significant progress has already been achieved in designing cookstoves with reduced emissions and increased efficiency, many challenges remain to develop high performing technologies that are also affordable, durable, easy-to-use, and meet international indoor air quality guidelines,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The funding opportunity announced today will help address these challenges, accelerating the widespread adoption of clean cooking technologies and developing a global market that builds on DOE investments in clean energy innovations.”

The World Health Organization cites indoor smoke from cooking and heating as one of the top 10 threats to public health in poor, developing countries, contributing to nearly two million deaths each year. Clean cookstoves with reduced emissions and increased energy efficiency will help prevent some of these deaths caused by exposure to indoor smoke. Energy-efficient cookstoves also reduce fuel use, slow deforestation, and reduce the time families have to spend collecting fuel, which enable other livelihood-enhancing activities, like generating income, caring for family members’ health, and attending school.

The Department encourages organizations including small businesses, non-profits, universities, and national laboratories, to submit proposals for applied research and development (R&D) grants to develop clean and efficient cookstoves. To help ensure the technologies developed will be usable and adopted, the R&D work will be based on assessments of user needs and prototypes will be tested in the laboratory and in the field. The Department is also interested in supporting the development of a software tool that integrates research findings to help stove designers and manufacturers improve a wide range of cookstoves.

The Energy Department will make up to $2.5 million available in fiscal year 2012 for this funding opportunity. The Department has made an additional request to Congress for $2.5 million in fiscal year 2013 to support clean cookstove technologies. For more information and application requirements for the Funding Opportunity Announcement, please visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

For more information on DOE’s biomass cookstoves efforts, see the Summary Report and Energy Blog.


EPA Proposes Rule to Require Electronic Reporting for Chemical Information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed rule to require electronic reporting for certain information submitted to the agency under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).The action is an important milestone in the agency’s effort to increase transparency and public access to chemical information in order to help Americans protect their health and environment. Electronic reporting will increase the speed with which EPA can make information publicly available, increase accuracy, and provide the public with quick and easier access to chemical information.

“Administrator Lisa P. Jackson is committed to strengthening EPA’s chemicals management program and increasing the public’s access to chemical information,” said Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The agency is also committed to reducing reporting burdens and paper-based reporting in favor of electronic reporting. These measures will streamline the reporting process and reduce the administrative costs.”

Today’s proposed rule would require electronic reporting rather than paper-based reporting for various TSCA actions including submission of information relating to chemical testing, health and safety studies, and other information. When final, EPA will only accept data, reports, and other information submitted through EPA’s Central Data Exchange, a centralized portal that enables streamlined, electronic submission of data via the Internet. The agency will be soliciting comments on this proposed rule for 60 days.

Over the coming months, the agency will offer a number of opportunities for potential users to become familiar with the new requirements. These opportunities will include an initial webinar to introduce the web-based electronic reporting tool, follow-up webinars and testing of specific applications, and opportunities for submitters and others to provide feedback to the agency on their experiences using the tool before its release.


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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Regulation


Energy Department Webinar April 19: Implementing a New Energy-Efficient Lighting Specification

The Energy Department will present a live webinar titled CBEA High-Efficiency Troffer Lighting Specification on Thursday, April 19, from 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. If designed and installed properly, high-efficiency troffers—rectangular overhead fixtures used in commercial buildings—that meet a voluntary specification announced in February can achieve energy savings of 15% to 45% compared with traditional fluorescent troffers, and up to 75% if integrated with dimming, occupant, or daylight controls.

The Energy Department worked with members of the Commercial Building Energy Alliances (CBEA), including the General Services Administration (GSA), Target, Cushman & Wakefield Inc., The Cleveland Clinic, HealthSouth Corp., CBRE, The Home Depot, and several other organizations to release the CBEA High-Efficiency Troffer Lighting Specification version 3.0. The voluntary specification sets performance requirements for high-efficiency LED and fluorescent troffer products in 2′x4′, 2′x2′, and 1′x4′ configurations.

During the webinar, experts Jeff McCullough and Michael Myer of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will describe the design, performance and technical aspects of the voluntary specification. Kevin Powell of GSA, who served as the CBEA Chairperson for this project, will discuss opportunities for high-efficiency troffers in GSA facilities and will provide an update on troffer lighting demonstration projects underway at GSA. The presentation targets stakeholders interested in high-efficiency lighting products, including building owners, building operators, CBEA members, manufacturers, and federal, state, and local government employees.

The webinar will feature a one-hour presentation and a 30-minute question and answer session with participants. Participants can email questions in advance to

Register to attend the webinar.


Which Plants Will Survive Droughts, Climate Change?

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

New research by UCLA life scientists could lead to predictions of which plant species will escape extinction from climate change.

Droughts are worsening around the world, posing a great challenge to plants in all ecosystems, said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and senior author of the research. Scientists have debated for more than a century how to predict which species are most vulnerable.

Sack and two members of his laboratory have made a fundamental discovery that resolves this debate and allows for the prediction of how diverse plant species and vegetation types worldwide will tolerate drought, which is critical given the threats posed by climate change, he said.

The research is currently available in the online edition of Ecology Letters, and will be published in an upcoming print edition.


Green Homes Use 80 Percent Less Energy

Read the full story in Environmental Protection.

Clever, inexpensive design can cut the energy used in new homes by up to 80 percent, says a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researcher. QUT science and engineering researcher Wendy Miller, from the Science and Engineering Faculty, has completed a PhD on sustainable housing, tracking the development of homes at The Ecovillage in Currumbin, and is monitoring the design, construction and liveability of various environmentally-friendly houses in South East Queensland and Townsville.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Green building


A launch pad for green and clean entrepreneurs

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Have an idea for a cleantech or green business? Carrie Norton would like to talk with you.

Over the past half decade or so, the number of aspiring entrepreneurs with some green or clean technology or idea seems to have skyrocketed. They come from everywhere: freshly minted MBAs, seasoned corporate refuges, do-it-yourselfers who have built a greener mousetrap, app makers, moonlighting engineers, freelancing designers, Mom-and-Pop outfits, and more. We receive their PR pitches regularly at GreenBiz; I hear about them from colleagues, friends, friends of friends, and veritable strangers who, by design or circumstance, find their way to my e-mail address.

The vast majority of these enterprises are destined to fail, not necessarily because their ideas aren’t worthy, but because of flawed execution: insufficient market research, inadequate business skills, an overzealous business plan (“Every new mom will want one!”), no defensible intellectual property, a lack of strategic partners — and, of course, insufficient capital. Roughly speaking, the 80-20 rule applies: 80% of the ideas will never get off the ground; of the 20% that do, only 20% will achieve any level of success. Do the math and it works out to a 96% failure rate.

Norton aims to improve those odds.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Green business


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