Green Building

2015 Year in Review
December 31, 2015 07:10 AM - Mike Gaworecki, MONGABAY.COM

As 2015 comes to a close, Mongabay is looking back at the year that was. This year saw President Obama reject the Keystone pipeline as historic droughts and a vicious wildfire season wracked the western US and Canada. The world committed to climate action in Paris as Southeast Asia was choking on the worst Indonesian haze in years, Shell aborted its plans to drill in the Arctic for the “foreseeable” future, and ExxonMobil is being investigated for lying to the public about climate risks. Here, in no certain order, are the top 15 environmental stories of 2015.

Wind power on the rise in U.S.
December 22, 2015 07:22 AM - Jeff Brady, NPR

The U.S. wind power industry is celebrating after reaching a new milestone in November: 70 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.

"That's enough to power about 19 million homes," says Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Rapid plankton growth seen as indicator of carbon dioxide loading in oceans
November 27, 2015 08:04 AM - Arthur Hirsch, Johns Hopkins

A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean, a study led a by Johns Hopkins University scientist has found.

What these findings mean remains to be seen, as does whether the rapid growth in the tiny plankton's population is good or bad news for the planet.

Published today in the journal Science, the study details a tenfold increase in the abundance of single-cell coccolithophores between 1965 and 2010, and a particularly sharp spike since the late 1990s in the population of these pale-shelled floating phytoplankton.

Canada ranks #2 for most LEED buildings
July 28, 2015 01:24 PM - Roy L Hales, ECOreport

Though LEED is not the world’s only green building rating system, it is the most widely used and recognized. Thus it is no small thing that, for the second year in a row, Canada is #2 for LEED building in the World.

Aircraft may be lessening their carbon footprint, but what about airports?
June 22, 2015 08:47 AM - Timothy Spence, EurActiv

Today’s passenger aircraft are becoming ever more efficient, driven by regulations like the EU’s emissions trading scheme and airlines looking to squeeze profit out of every drop of fuel saved. Yet on the ground, airports operate in a different class. New findings from a European Union-funded research project show that commercial airports use as much energy as a small city, and up to one-fifth of that may be wasted.

Does the public trust what scientists say?
October 6, 2014 03:58 PM - Princeton University

If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit "warmer," according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm.

Connecting Productivity of Office Workers and Climate Change
September 29, 2014 09:57 AM - John Alker, The Ecologist

Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, a new report shows that green building design makes employees happier and more productive. There would seem to be no connection between the productivity of office workers and the great challenge of climate change. But a report published by the World Green Building Council suggests otherwise.

The Future of Vertical Farming
September 19, 2014 06:15 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

From big company agricultural farming, to communal farming or even personal agronomy, the business of growing crops for an expanding global population will be crucial in the near future. The two most important resources needed to run these farms are one, water, and two, land. But these resources often come at a premium, especially with growing populations and increased food demand. Farmers and researchers have already started leaning towards genetic engineering and industrial processing to help with their crop yields, but a new solution in agribusiness is emerging. Vertical farming.

Malaysia's 'Smart Villages' and other great ideas for sustainable development
September 18, 2014 06:15 AM - Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology via EurekAlert

As nations zero in on the UN's post-2015 global Sustainable Development Goals, innovations being successfully pioneered and demonstrated in Malaysia offer several proven tactical ideas for improving the world, says an influential international sustainable development networking organization. The UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), through its Malaysian chapter, cites ways in which the country is "rising to the challenge," including the construction of ingenious, self-sustaining "smart" villages -- each lifting about 100 families out of poverty and into affordable homes and employment. Meanwhile, guides for minimizing the carbon footprint of cities while promoting healthy lifestyles, and using science to extract new wealth from palm biomass waste are among other creative initiatives underway in Malaysia that help light a path for emerging economy countries.

Japan: 'solar islands' replace nuclear power
September 15, 2014 08:41 AM - Jon Major, The Ecologist

As Japan seeks to end reliance on nuclear power, one of the answers is floating 'solar islands', writes Jon Major. A 70MW solar island opened last year, and two additional plants have just been announced. Two companies in Japan recently announced they are to begin building two large solar power islands that will float on reservoirs.

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