climate change

Blogs Prime Article Designing for the Future

U.S. Cities Are Fighting the Heat-Island Effect

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in ACEEE

The dark, heat-absorbing and impermeable surfaces common to big cities cause a variety of health and environmental problems, including elevated temperatures, lower air quality, and difficulty in managing storm water runoff. The heat island effect, as this phenomenon is called, is part of urban living, but a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) finds that some American cities are rolling out a variety of tactics to fight it.

Backers of New Carbon Rule See Many Benefits

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in carbon emissions

New carbon pollution limits for existing power plants announced by the Environmental Protection Agency have lobbyists warning of economic disaster, but a five-year-old alliance of nine Eastern states has already shown it could provide a major environmental and economic boost.

Tracking Our Company’s Carbon Footprint

Posted on March 02,2015 by jabrams in carbon dioxide

South Mountain Company is a 39-year-old employee-owned company offering integrated architecture, engineering, building, and renewable energy services. We like to measure how we’re doing in as many ways as possible. Like other businesses, we have a collection of metrics for financial tracking: profit and loss, budget projections and actuals, job costing of each project, value of our several funds (pension, equity, and reserves), and more.

Resilience as a Driver of Change

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

Readers of this column have heard me argue in the past that resilience can be a motivation for taking actions that will not only make us and our families safer, but also help to mitigate climate change. Let me lay out that basic argument again.

Taking Action on Climate Change

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in carbon dioxide

In my previous blog I described the international effort to understand climate change. The United Nations’ IPCC is leading the charge, and efforts like the Kyoto Treaty have grown out of that background work. But are we getting closer to solving the problem?

Earth Day 2014 and Climate Change

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

With Earth Day having been this week, I’ve been musing about the state of our environment and where we’re heading.

Wood Buildings Make a Happy Planet

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in carbon dioxide emissions

Harvesting more wood for use in bridges and buildings and using less steel and concrete would sharply reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and lower carbon dioxide emissions, a study led by Yale University has found. By increasing the amount of wood that’s harvested annually from 20% of sustainable growth to 34% of sustainable growth, carbon emissions could be reduced by between 14% and 31%, scientists from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the University of Washington’s College of the Environment said.

Toronto Hosts Energy Conference in April

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in All-Energy

Two hundred exhibitors and as many as 2,500 renewable energy professionals are expected at the All-Energy Canada Exhibition & Conference in Toronto on April 9 and 10, organizers said. The Toronto conference is one of three All-Energy conferences this year. Others are scheduled in Australia and Scotland.

Key West Adopts a Green Building Requirement

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in climate change

Key West, Florida, has toughened residential building requirements with a new provision making green certification mandatory. In 1993, the city adopted the Building Permit Allocation System Ordinance that limited development, and in November the City Commission updated the ordinance green building provisions.

Can Solar Power Solve the Coal Problem?

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in climate change

I recently read a New York Times article on the coal problem. In the future, the article notes, we won’t be able to burn coal at our current rate, so there is an obvious need to make a transition to alternative sources of energy. According to the Times article, the most likely replacement for coal is solar energy.

The United Nations Addresses Resilient Design

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

Wrapping up an intense month of travel, I’m just back from New York City, where I spoke last Friday at the UN World Habitat Day conference, “Resilient Design for Sustainable Urbanism.” The event was cosponsored by the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanism, AIA New York, and the NJIT Center for Resilient Design.

A Contest for Helping the Planet

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in climate change

Log on and help save the planet. That, at least, is the basic idea behind EarthHack, an online contest in which anyone can suggest how to use existing technologies in slightly different ways to reduce global carbon emissions and move toward more sustainable energy sources. EarthHack can be found Marblar, what Earthhack organizers call a "global crowdsourcing platform," a means of gathering ideas from a large group of people online.

U.S. Colleges Take ‘Climate-Neutral’ Pledge

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in carbon neutrality

A growing number of college and university presidents are climbing aboard the Presidents' Climate Commitment and steering their institutions toward carbon-neutral operation.

Half of All Americans Worry About Climate Change

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in climate change

A chilly winter and spring have apparently affected the way some Americans think about global climate change, according to a study by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. In a paper called “Climate Change in the American Mind”, researchers report that 63% of all Americans are convinced that global climate change is taking place. But that number is 7 percentage points lower than it was just last fall, probably due to a cold winter and an unusually cold March.

The Science of Global Warming Is Older Than Quantum Mechanics

Posted on March 02,2015 by ab3 in climate change

I'm new to global warming. I didn't hear about it until 1983. Even thirty years ago, the science behind the greenhouse effect and global warming was well known. French Physicist and mathematician Joseph Fourier is generally credited with being the first to hypothesize that the earth is warmed by its atmosphere and even that we humans can change the climate. That goes all the way back to 1827.

What I’m Hoping for in the New Year

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in bicycle

With snow gently falling as the holiday season winds down, I find myself reflecting on the New Year and what we might hope for. World peace of course, and solving the poverty conundrum would be great. But what about energy and the environment? Here are some thoughts:

Insulation to Keep Us Warm — Not Warm the Planet

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

I’ve been pretty vocal about a big problem with some of our most common insulation materials: that they are made using blowing agents that are highly potent greenhouse gases. All extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foams (SPF) are made with HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) blowing agents that have global warming potentials (GWPs) many hundreds of times greater than that of carbon dioxide. (My apologies for contaminating this column with so many acronyms!)

Insulation: good news, bad news

Alaskan Glaciers Are Rapidly Melting

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in Alaska

I recently returned from a two-week family vacation trip to Alaska. This was my first trip to Alaska; of course, two weeks is a very brief time to visit such a vast state. We were able to spend some time in Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Anchorage, and Seward. We also spent several days fishing along the Salcha River and at Lower Paradise Lake on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Connection Between Obesity and Climate Change

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in climate change

Positive feedback loops that reinforce global warming are scary. Here’s an example of such a feedback loop: warmer temperatures melt Arctic sea ice earlier in the spring and reduce the size of the summer ice pack. Since the dark ocean has less reflectance than ice, a smaller ice pack means that more solar radiation is absorbed by the ocean every summer, further warming the planet.

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