Friday, May 29, 2009
Speaking of LEED-Platinum certification, the North Carolina Botanical Garden's Education Center, opening later this year, has also been designed for LEED-Platinum certification, which only a dozen or so other buildings in the country have qualified for including three in North Carolina.
Check here to read the complete New York Times article:
Check here to see more information on the Education Center:
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Did you know NC has one of the highest rates of power consumption in the US? Or that the average American throws out 4 pounds of trash every day? Or that coffee is the second most heavily-traded and highly-traveled commodity in existence (after oil)?
You can learn facts like these and discover more about your personal ecological footprint by playing “Consumer Consequences.” This fun online game lets you input data about your lifestyle—like the foods you eat, your electricity bill, and how you get to work—and witness the corresponding effect on the world. With each question comes a new sustainability-related fact, and a new change in the digital environment. See the world stay green, or watch as coal plants and factories take over the horizon, landfills and highways fill the neighborhood, and pollution clogs the air—that is, if you’re living unsustainably!
In the end, a final calculation shows how many Earths it would take it would take to sustain the world’s population if everyone lived just like you. A graph further pinpoints areas to work on. I tried it: turns out I use up 1.7 Earths!
Can you beat my score? Or should we start heading to Mars?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Big change is about to hit the road. On Tuesday, May 19th, Obama announced new standards for fuel efficiency and emissions, which will start taking effect in 2012. The new rules will require all cars to get at least 39 mpg and trucks to get 30 mpg, which averages to 35.5 mpg (as compared to the current average of 25 mpg).
On the national end, these new standards will save the US almost 2 billion barrels of oil from 2012 through 2016. Also, the newly efficient vehicles will prevent 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted throughout their lifetimes, which is akin to taking 177 million cars off the road. Auto industries are happy too, because now they have a single nationwide standard that helps national security, air quality, and general public approval. Sure, this means new cars will cost more—an average of $1,300 per vehicle—but at current prices a consumer can make that money back in gas savings in about 3 years.
Obama couldn’t have said it better: “In the past, an agreement such as this would have been considered impossible. That is why this announcement is so important, for it represents not only a change in policy in Washington, but the harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.”
For more information on fuel economy, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
England native Rob Hopkins saw how oil dependency and the climate
crisis could be particularly devastating for the future’s well being.
That is why he and others began forming the Transition Initiative which
focuses on making communities resilient in a post-carbon world,
basically making them sustainable communities. In Hopkins’ book, The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, he offers
a change that communities could make to generate their own power, to
grow their own food, and more in order to prepare for what happens when
oil runs out. The Transition movement is gaining momentum here in the
U.S. with training conferences in Minnesota, California, Florida, and
Maine occurring throughout the summer.
Check out the flyer below for information on what a training conference
would consist of and go to the following website if you want more
information about the Transition Initiative in the U.S.
Monday, May 18, 2009
A recent online news blog entitled "GREEN FEES: College Students Demand To Pay Their Own Way To Renewables" has a list of universities with on & off campus green energy student fees. No surprise that UNC was included on that list! Here is the complete list, courtesy of Dave Burdick at The Huffington Post:
ON-CAMPUS AND OFF-CAMPUS PROJECTSRead the complete news blog here:
The Evergreen State College
Middle Tennessee State University
Tennessee Technological University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Auraria Campuses: University of Colorado at Denver, Metro State University and Community College of Denver
University of Oregon
University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
ON-CAMPUS PROJECTS ONLY
The College Of William and Mary
Northeastern Illinois University
Appalachian State University
Bemidji State University
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Read more about UNC's green energy student fee here:
Friday, May 15, 2009
If you said yes, you’re in luck! A new initiative on campus called Tar Heel Treasure has saved these and other used items from the annual end-of-semester trash heap and will soon sell them back to the community at yard sale prices. By collecting everything from futons to flip-flops, they have diverted a huge volume of perfectly usable items from the landfill.
Best of all, the proceeds will be donated to good places—the Eve Carson Memorial Fund and the UNC Children’s Hospital—so you can shop with the knowledge that you’re helping our environment and our community!
The sale starts this Saturday, May 16th at 7:30 AM and lasts until 3 PM (cash only). It will be located indoors on Municipal Drive off of MLK. For details and directions, please visit their website, http://tarheeltreasure.unc.edu.
Come see what treasures you can find!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Check them out and bid at:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
For more detailed information about the reclaimed water system, visit:
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The past month, North Carolina has been full of nature-related events! Environmental Education Week was April 12-18, then Earth Day on April 22, and finally Arbor Day on April 24. How did communities all over the state celebrate these events?
The NC Office of Environmental Education set up a website with event pictures from all across the state. Check 'em out at:
Monday, May 11, 2009
Well, it's true! And it just opened in San Diego, CA. According to the press release:
"Los Vecinos Apartments, a $17.6 million, 42-unit complex in Southwest Chula Vista, was designed and built to achieve LEED* Platinum certification for energy savings and efficiencies. The project features an extensive solar power system that will provide nearly 100 percent of the development’s electricity.Remember - "sustainability" means environmental, social, and economic prosperity. I would say this concept for affordable housing does pretty well on all fronts!
"Other design features include the heavy use of ceiling fans and natural ventilation instead of air conditioning. Tankless hot water heaters, Energy Star appliances and high-efficacy lighting fixtures will keep energy costs to a minimum. Landscaping and irrigation techniques and low-flow fixtures will minimize water use.
"Los Vecinos consists of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units on three floors as well as a 1,500-square-foot community center, where residents will have access to programs on health and wellness, finance and computer literacy and “going green.” Families earning between $16,600 and $58,800 will reside there."
You can read more about this project at the following sites:
Friday, May 8, 2009
“There’s no question that there is a threat. Quantifying that threat is always difficult. But that threat exists. And the real point is that, the heavy industrial development associated with landing the oil and gas product is simply incompatible with the existing uses of North Carolina’s coast. It’s incompatible with its parks, with its tourism, retirement and fishing industries—commercial and recreational both.”Watch the report or read the transcript at:
Too bad the conversation on "offshore energy" did not include offshore wind power - something North Carolina has in spades.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
If you don't live near Jordan Lake, lake litter may not seem like a big deal. However, Jordan Lake is an active reservoir that provides drinking water for thousands in the area - possibly even you.
Recently, the News & Observer published an article on the costs to clean up Jordan Lake. In response, Prof. Francis DiGiano, of UNC's Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, wrote a brief "Letter to the Editor" regarding the issue of pollution and water quality in Jordan Lake.
"Pollution of Jordan Lake is worthy of front-page coverage. However, you failed to distinguish between control of litter and nutrients from stormwater runoff.
"The two photos of trash on the shoreline imply runoff as the source. In my opinion, careless users of Jordan Lake account for a large share."
You can read the full letter here:
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance has some great steps to take that will dramatically reduce the volume of junk mail you receive in the mail. Check out their tips at:
Junk emails (a.k.a. SPAM) also has a direct impact on the environment by overburdening computer servers that use lots and lots of energy. Some good tips for limiting junk mail can be found at:
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
It's a quick read and might open your eyes to the value of life cycle assessments for the products you purchase. Read the full article at:
Monday, May 4, 2009