Sustainability

How Modular Construction is Keeping Waste Out of U.S. Landfills
February 2, 2016 07:23 AM - Mark Meyers, Triple Pundit

When we think about the overflow of our nation’s landfills, we probably picture limiting our food waste; recycling plastics, glass and paper; and keeping out potentially harmful hazardous waste. What we probably don’t consider is one of the largest sources of waste generation, construction and demolition (C&D) waste.  It is estimated that anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the national solid waste stream is building-related waste, with only 20 percent of C&D waste being recycled.

Iowa - first in primaries, first in wind power
January 31, 2016 08:25 AM - Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk, The Ecologist

As presidential contenders gather in Iowa for the beginning of the party selection season, they may have noticed a lot of wind turbines, writes Zachary Davies Boren. And if they have any sense, they will find only nice things to say about them. Wind supplies 30% of the state's power, more than any other US state, and Iowans are all for it. Ted Cruz, mind your words!

Today, there are 12 factories in Iowa that build wind-related parts and materials, and wind supports as many as 7,000 jobs. Furthermore, the steady long-term costs of wind power promise to keep Iowa's electricity prices stable for many years to come.

All eyes are on Iowa, the midwestern state set to kick-off the US presidential election next week with its folksy first-in-the-nation caucus.

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN
January 30, 2016 08:06 AM - United Nations News Centre

Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

“Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN
January 30, 2016 08:06 AM - United Nations News Centre

Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. 

“Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

Meat consumption and climate change linked by EU study
January 28, 2016 07:22 AM - Sarantis Michalopoulos, EurActiv

The overconsumption of meat will inevitably push global temperatures to dangerous levels, a recent study has warned, urging reluctant governments to take action.

The world's rapidly expanding population is posing a huge challenge to farmers. A reportpublished in November 2015 by Chatham House, and the Glasgow University Media Group, examined the interconnection between meat and dairy consumption with climate change.

Nearly one-third of the world's cultivated land is being used to grow animal feed. In the EU alone, 45% of wheat production is used for this purpose, with 30% of overall use met by imports.

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Why aren't the endangered western gray whales recovering from over hunting?
January 27, 2016 06:38 AM - Oregon State Universtity

The eastern gray whales that commonly appear along the West Coast of the United States seemingly have recovered from over-hunting with new protective guidelines established in the 1970s. Their counterparts across the ocean – western gray whales – have not fared as well.

Some scientists believe that a lack of prey may be a limiting factor in the recovery of western gray whales, which number fewer than 200 in their feeding area near Russia’s Sakhalin Island. For years, researchers were unable to assess the growth of whale prey in the region because of the remote location, inaccessible conditions of winter ice cover, and the rugged weather that prevented winter sampling.

However, researchers from Russia and the United States studied an inch-long crustacean, Ampelisca eschrichtii, an amphipod that is a favorite food of the western gray whale, in samples that were collected from the Sakhalin Shelf between late spring and early fall over six years between 2002 and 2013. The research team found enough information in the limited samples to assess the missing winter-life history of these amphipods and to document their great abundance and production.

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change
January 22, 2016 02:44 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.

Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

"That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

Does eating less meat lead to decreased Greenhouse Gas emissions?
January 19, 2016 10:06 AM - Universtiy of Edinburgh

Reduced meat consumption might not lower greenhouse gas emissions from a major beef producing region, research shows.

The finding may seem incongruous, as intensive agriculture is responsible for such a large proportion of global emissions.

According to research by University researchers, Scotland’s Rural College and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, reducing beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado could increase global greenhouse gas emissions.

 

To clean up ocean plastics focus on coasts, not the Great Pacific garbage patch
January 19, 2016 07:14 AM - Imperial College London via EurekAlert!

The most efficient way to clean up ocean plastics and avoid harming ecosystems is to place plastic collectors near coasts, according to a new study.

Plastic floating in the oceans is a widespread and increasing problem. Plastics including bags, bottle caps and plastic fibres from synthetic clothes wash out into the oceans from urban rivers, sewers and waste deposits.

How to make your new house a sustainable one
January 18, 2016 11:24 AM - Ewa Gromadzka

People might falsely believe that when they are building a house incorporating any sustainable solutions require additional costs and effort. It is actually the opposite. Some of the sustainable solutions require very little in any financing with comparison to the costs that need to be incurred anyways in a newly constructed building. Moreover, while an initial cost might be a bit higher as for purchasing, for example a sustainable heating system, there is a fast return on investment as utility bills are much lowers with sustainable heating than a standard one. It is possible to save around 30% on the use of energy and water in a sustainable house. That is a case with any other sustainable solution, when it pays off to invest in environment friendly solution in every case.
Below there is list of sustainable solutions that can be applied in every house.

  1. Heat recovery system for the ventilation, heating and cooling.
  2. The use of geothermal heat pump for heating the house, allows for great savings on heating costs.
  3. It is common to use only floor heating as a heating option in energy efficient houses (no radiators). 
  4. Use of low energy doors and windows (recommended triple glazed windows).

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