Supreme Court votes to uphold Virginia’s ban on uranium mining

June 19, 2019 by  
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The Supreme Court disappointed the Trump administration and an eager mining corporation by voting to keep the country’s largest uranium deposit underground. On June 17, the court voted six to three to uphold Virginia’s uranium mining ban in a move that re-confirms the sovereignty of states to determine the future of their natural resources and the protection of their environments. The uranium deposit in question is worth an estimated $6 billion and is situated on a private estate in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Uranium is an essential ingredient for nuclear energy and contributes to about 20 percent of the country’s electricity production. Uranium is also an essential ingredient in nuclear weapons; therefore, control over its sources is critically important to the government and military. Related: Demand for sand — the largest mining industry no one talks about Despite pressure from the federal government and legal challenges from Virginia Uranium, Inc., the state of Virginia passed a ban on uranium mining due to environmental and health concerns associated with its extraction. “This is a big win for the health and safety of Virginians and our environment,” Attorney General for Virginia Mark Herring said of the Supreme Court ruling. “We are well within our rights as a state to decide that a risky, potentially dangerous activity like uranium mining is not for us.” Uranium is a radioactive material, and the environmental concerns related to its extraction include contaminated water, soil and disrupted landscapes that cause major erosion and landslides. Virginia Uranium, Inc. argued that the state is confiscating a nationally important resource. The corporation said it is disappointed with the ruling and plans to mount a new challenge after its argument that the federal-level Atomic Energy Act of 1954 governs nuclear energy development and supersedes any state ban proved unsuccessful in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Neil Gorsch, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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Supreme Court votes to uphold Virginia’s ban on uranium mining

Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics

June 19, 2019 by  
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In anticipation of the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, French architectural firm Jakob + MacFarlane has set its sights on reinventing a large, post-industrial facility into an innovative beacon for carbon-neutral design. Located directly adjacent to the planned site for the Olympics in Quartier Pleyel, the existing building is a towering relic of Saint-Denis’ industrial past that now lies at the intersection of major metropolitan projects. The zero-carbon, adaptive reuse proposal, dubbed Odyssee Pleyel, is one of the winning proposals in Reinventing Cities , a competition created by C40 Cities that asked architects to sustainably transform vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. Spanning an area of over 15,000 square feet and rising to a height of nearly 79 feet, the Hall de décuvage Pleyel was previously used to remove electric transformer windings. Rather than tear down the building, Jakob + MacFarlane suggests retrofitting the structure into a carbon-neutral landmark for the city, as it is prominently located on the perimeter of the 2024 Olympics site. In addition to renovating the existing structure, the architects suggest adding a modular wood construction structure and renewable energy systems to ensure energy self-sufficiency. Related: Eiffel Tower site to become a pedestrian-friendly garden “Reflecting the historical industrial heritage of Saint-Denis, the Odyssee Pleyel project showcases thought-leadership in the global clean energy transition in a quest to become a carbon-neutral development,” the architects said. “The Odyssee Pleyel bears witness to the human, technological and cultural achievements of this area. The Energy Plug building is an excellent example of reinventing a former industrial site into a reflexive building of the future.” Topped with hybrid photovoltaic and thermal solar cells, the Odyssee Pleyel would also tap into rainwater collection and reuse to minimize resource demands. Excavated soil from the Grand Paris Express — the Pleyel district is to host one of 72 stations for the 2023 transport project — would be reused and integrated into the Odyssee Pleyel construction site. Most importantly, the zero-carbon building would encourage ecological innovation and awareness by hosting workshops, clean energy start-ups and educational programs on topics of sustainability. + Jakob + MacFarlane Images via Jakob + MacFarlane

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Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics

At maturity, green gamification takes on a new challenge

June 29, 2012 by  
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With its integration intro every aspect of business, how can gamification's efforts to boost sustainability rise to even greater heights?

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At maturity, green gamification takes on a new challenge

Lessons from Ecologic Brands: How to make sustainability sexy

June 29, 2012 by  
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Sustainable products have an image problem: They tend to look sensible, not sexy. Here's how Ecologic Brands helped give Seventh Generation's liquid laundry detergent more shelf appeal.

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Lessons from Ecologic Brands: How to make sustainability sexy

The good, the bad and the ugly about harvesting energy from landfills

October 4, 2011 by  
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Rajeev Kumar: harvesting energy from landfills Harvesting energy from landfills Call it one of the hazards of rapid urban growth, mega-cities of the world are facing a new challenge of disposing massive wastes. According to an estimate, over 2.1 billion tons of municipal waste is produced all over the world annually. The most common method of disposing this waste has been through the development of organized landfills. Experience has shown that these landfills end up producing harmful gases, particularly methane and carbon dioxide in large amounts. However, researchers have successfully shown that the gases emanating from vast landfills could be trapped for creative purposes like generation of electricity, bio-fuels, and fertilizers. Still, there are various pros and cons associated with the practice of harvesting energy from landfills. Here we have discussed all such issues in detail. Good Waste to Energy: Waste materials of a landfill can be used to produce electricity for domestic consumption. In fact, data from the International Energy Agency shows that many countries have started to harvest energy from municipal and industrial wastes that were earlier dumped in large landfills. Presently, over 400 terawatt of electricity all over the world, is produced this way. Landfills contain large amount of organic wastes like discarded food scraps, paper, textiles and yard trimmings. They produce large amount of green house gases like methane and CO2. The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) says that landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United State, amounting to 17 percent of total methane emissions. With the development of new technologies, it has now become possible to use such large amount of methane to produce clean electricity. This is done by burning the methane for producing electricity. Water and less potent CO2 is produced as the byproduct. This process doesn’t require any extra fossil fuels for burning methane as this gas is itself highly inflammable. Apart from electricity, new technologies have shown that cellulosic ethanol can also be derived from the landfills. It is organically produced because of the degradation of cellulose found in grass trimmings, fallen tree branches and corn stalks etc. This bio-fuel produces more energy and emits less greenhouse gases as compared to other bio-fuels produced today. Bad Burning landfill methane for energy is a bad Idea: While the amount of global waste is increasing, a fool-proof method for harvesting energy from them is still alluding scientists and policy makers. Experience at some places, has shown that the existing technology could cause more harm than good. The reason for this is that a large amount of gas actually leaks into the environment which not only contributes to global warming but also causes some health hazards. As, methane is 75 percent more powerful greenhouse gas in the first 20-years of its existence than the CO2. Most of the landfills are sealed from the top to help prevent the leakage of gases. However, these gases find different routes to escape. For example: Landfill experiment in Ontario has shown that the potential damage by leaked gases could be far more than the useful production of about 5000 MW of electricity from them. Also, it has been found that existing technology succeeds in treating only about 20-25 percent of the total waste. Worst Landfill Gas and awful affects of landfills: Apart from methane, the land fills also produce other gases with heavy odor – that not only affect the environment but are substantial health hazards. While about 50 percent of the gases produced in a landfill is methane, 40 percent of CO2 and some other harmful gases like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particulate matters are produced. The sulfur dioxide causes acid rain, particulate matters cause respiratory problems and fatigue among people living in proximity to these landfills. Also, the nitrogen oxides cause local ozone and smog formation. The heavy odor of these gases may also cause headache and nausea among people. These gases can travel through the soil and sometimes enter nearby buildings, putting them to significant fire risks as methane is highly inflammable. However, harvesting energy from the gases organically produced in landfills, is still the most effective way of reducing some of the hazards discussed above. And, on a positive note, many new initiatives have been taken up to this effect in many cities in recent times.

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The good, the bad and the ugly about harvesting energy from landfills

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