Reconstructing Communities with Green Buildings
October 25, 2012 12:35 PM - Noelle Hirsch, Sierra Club Green Home
Green building is taking the construction industry by storm, and its benefits are perhaps best seen in disaster-related rebuilds. The pros of sustainable and energy-saving construction are easy for most to identify. Reducing energy consumption with efficient building materials, household appliances, and heating and cooling systems benefits the environment and saves the building owner money. Green buildings often last longer, too, meaning they won't require frequent updates and remodels. However, most people become initially concerned with green building startup costs. In this sense, disaster zones can be something of a blank slate for developers: When towns or cities need rebuilds, developers often have an easier time incentivizing home and business owners to construct with water and energy efficiency in mind.
Bringing Rain Gardens to Urban Areas
October 25, 2012 08:40 AM - Laura Laker, The Ecologist
Water management is a major issue in large urban areas, where after heavy rainfall, rooftops, streets and pavements act as funnels. This sends huge volumes of water very quickly into drainage systems, putting pressure on rivers and increasing the risk of flooding. In contrast, undeveloped land absorbs and utilises water, thus slowing its progress to rivers. It is this natural bioretention that our towns and cities must learn to mimic. Rain gardens do just that. In its most basic form a rain garden is a planted depression in the ground, providing porous and absorbent materials into which water can soak, with plants that can withstand occasional temporary flooding.
Air Conditioning Consumes One Third of Peak Electric Consumption in the Summer
October 23, 2012 08:24 AM - Editor, Science Daily
Air conditioning in homes may account for up to one third of electricity use during periods in the summer when the most energy is required in large cities, according to a study carried out by Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council -- CSIC). The research attempts to determine not only the amount of energy that is consumed, but also its environmental impact.
Will we need to pull carbon out of the atmosphere to save ourselves?
October 18, 2012 09:24 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
This year saw the Arctic sea ice extent fall to a new and shocking low, while the U.S. experienced it warmest month ever on record (July), beating even Dust Bowl temperatures. Meanwhile, a flood of new research has convincingly connected a rise in extreme weather events, especially droughts and heatwaves, to global climate change, and a recent report by the DARA Group and Climate Vulnerability Forum finds that climate change contributes to around 400,000 deaths a year and costs the world 1.6 percent of its GDP, or $1.2 trillion. All this and global temperatures have only risen about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) since the early Twentieth Century. Scientists predict that temperatures could rise between 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) to a staggering 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
10 Ways Abu Dhabi Leads The Arab Gulf's Green Revolution
October 18, 2012 09:04 AM - Laurie Balbo, Green Prophet
Abu Dhabi's stellar efforts to raise green performance across industry sectors position that Gulf state as regional leader in both conceiving sustainable solutions, and more critically, setting them in action. There are some more famous projects like the multi-million dollar zero-energy city Masdar. But this is just the tip of the bucket.
Sustainability Priorities For Global Companies
October 17, 2012 05:46 AM - Editor, Justmeans
Results from the fourth annual "BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2012," released today, outline the progress global business has made on 14 key sustainability challenges over the past 20 years, the areas where business is likely to make the most progress over the next 20 years, and key priorities for the year ahead—including human rights and climate. BSR and GlobeScan surveyed more than 500 business leaders drawn from BSR's global network of nearly 300 member companies. To examine the progress made in sustainability over the 20 years since BSR was founded, the survey asked executives to evaluate the past and likely future progress on 14 key sustainability challenges. Considering the next 20 years, respondents rated sustainability reporting, water, and responsible supply chains as the areas in which business will likely make the most progress. In contrast, respondents were least optimistic about future progress being made in public policy, governance, and employee treatment.
Watch Out Urbanites, Here Come the Carnivores
October 5, 2012 12:58 PM - Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Raccoons, skunks, possums and certain other animals have long been city dwellers, but now larger wild carnivores are moving into urban areas, according to a symposium presented today at EcoSummit 2012, an international conference held in Columbus, Ohio. Leading the way are coyotes, which have established a territory just five miles from Chicago O'Hare International Airport. They appear to be paving the way for other large mammalian carnivores. "Mountain lions are already living in the outskirts of Los Angeles, Denver, and other western cities," Stanley Gehrt, who led the research, told Discovery News. "Black bears are living in a variety of cities in the West and in the East. Wolves have yet to make a regular appearance, but they are getting closer. In Europe, there are urban brown bears that act much like raccoons over here."
Update - High Altitude Wind Energy Potential
September 26, 2012 05:35 AM - Dave Levitan, Yale Environment360
A host of start-up companies are exploring ways to harness the enormous amount of wind energy flowing around the earth, especially at high altitudes. But as these innovators are discovering, the engineering and regulatory challenges of what is known as airborne wind power are daunting. The wind turbines that increasingly dot the landscape peak at around 300 feet above ground, with the massive blades spinning a bit higher. The wind, however, does not peak at 300 feet. Winds are faster and more consistent the higher one climbs, maxing out in the jet streams at five miles and above.
Wildlife trade bans may be worsening trafficking of some species, argues paper
September 18, 2012 09:49 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM
While founded with good intentions, wildlife trade bans may in some cases be worsening the plight of some endangered species, argues a commentary published in the journal Tropical Conservation Science. Looking at three animals listed under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) — tigers, elephants and rhinos — Kirsten Conrad of AsiaCat argues that a moratorium on legal trade has exacerbated illegal trafficking by boosting prices and moving all commerce to the black market. She says the situation is worsened by poor law enforcement, ambiguous property rights, and demand rooted in "strong traditional affiliation".
Study Shows Workers at "Green" Companies are More Productive
September 11, 2012 09:52 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Apparently, environmentalism and economic growth really can go hand in hand. According to a new UCLA study, companies need not fear being hampered down by adopting green practices and standards. Workers in companies that do so are found to be 16 percent more productive than the average. The increased worker motivation stems from their appreciation for their workplace. This conclusion was obtains through a series of employee surveys at various companies. They found that green companies also had more advanced employee training than other companies, as well as greater interaction between coworkers.