5 Recommendations When Building an Energy-Efficient House

June 12, 2019 by  
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5 Recommendations When Building an Energy-Efficient House

How Much Wind Energy Does Your City Need?

June 6, 2019 by  
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The world’s first floating wind farm is generating electricity off … The post How Much Wind Energy Does Your City Need? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How Much Wind Energy Does Your City Need?

Glenwood Springs, Colorado set to run on 100 percent renewable energy

May 30, 2019 by  
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Like many cities around the world, Glenwood Springs, Colorado has set a goal to run on renewable energy . But instead of picking a date a year or two ahead, they’re going renewable now. As of June 1, Glenwood Springs is the seventh U.S. city to run on 100 percent renewable electricity. “Many cities and towns across the country have set aggressive targets, and we are doing our part now — our future is now,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes told the Post Independent . Related: India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment In April, the Glenwood Springs City Council resolved to move entirely to wind power supplied by Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). They’ve since modified this commitment to include seven percent hydroelectric renewable power. Signing a contract is not usually a public event, however, the city decided to celebrate the move to renewable energy by signing the contract at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, a theme park perched atop Iron Mountain with an elevation of more than 7,000 feet. Since Glenwood Caverns is a city electric customer, it will be the one of the country’s first amusement parks to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. “Protecting the environment and natural resources has been our primary goal since we gave our first cave tour in May 1999,” Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owner Steve Beckley told the Post Independent. “Sustainable tourism is an important issue these days and this move is a huge step in the right direction for Glenwood Springs as a whole.” To celebrate the signing, the park gave free gondola rides to visitors and the first 50 attendees received free LED light bulbs. The city will save money with the new contract, dropping the per-megawatt hour cost from $51 to $46 and saving Glenwood Springs a half million dollars per year. However, the city will be constructing a new electrical substation that will cost approximately $2.5 million. The other six cities that are already running on 100 percent renewable energy are Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont, Georgetown, Texas, Greensburg, Kansas, Rock Port, Missouri and Kodiak Island, Alaska. Via The Hill Image via inkknife_2000

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Glenwood Springs, Colorado set to run on 100 percent renewable energy

A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed

May 30, 2019 by  
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Solar and wind are renewable yet variable resources. New research shows that using them for the energy transition is not only possible, it’s also affordable.

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A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed

New research shows that neglect of nuclear threatens low-carbon transition

May 30, 2019 by  
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Failing to invest in the future of nuclear power will make global transition to green power ‘much harder’, experts warn.

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New research shows that neglect of nuclear threatens low-carbon transition

Your favorite playlist has a carbon footprint

May 24, 2019 by  
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You would think streaming music is more eco-friendly than CDs, tapes and records, right? Afterall, there’s no waste. A new study by the Universities of Glasglow and Oslo calculated the carbon footprint associated with downloading and streaming music and the answer is surprising. According to data from 2015 and 2016, music streaming accounted for 200 to 350 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions . The study used data records from the Recording Industry Association of America. First, researchers took the total number of streamed and downloaded songs and multiplied it by the amount of electricity it takes to download 1 gigabyte of data. Each gigabyte is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to light one light bulb for an hour. Next researchers investigated what kind of fuel sources are typically fueling music streaming sites— such as coal or renewable energy — and averaged the carbon dioxide emitted. Related: Music festivals and events can set the stage for sustainability The totals do not reflect the carbon footprint of data storage and processing centers, nor the electricity it takes to power your cellphone or steaming device, so the comprehensive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is actually much higher than the study initially indicates. Music streaming giant, Spotify, did not respond to The Rolling Stone journalist’s request for comment, but they did publish a sustainability report in 2017, which promised to work toward carbon neutrality. By 2018, the new sustainability report indicated that they had closed almost all of their data centers and reduced their carbon footprint by 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide . In actuality, Spotify shifted to using Google Cloud services, which means that now Google data centers are responsible for the emissions, not that emissions have necessarily been cut. Streaming competitors Apple and Amazon have recently invested in renewable energy options for their centers. Data centers in general are responsible for 2 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the airline industry. Music lovers who want to be more sustainable should buy full albums rather than streaming individual songs, especially if you plan to hit that repeat button a lot. According to their calculations, streaming 27 songs uses more energy than manufacturing the disc. For those of you who can’t imagine hopping in a time machine and buying a CD again, the authors suggest that downloading songs for offline listening could reduce the associated energy consumption. Via Rolling Stone Image via PhotoMIX-Company

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Your favorite playlist has a carbon footprint

Prada announces a ban on fur

May 24, 2019 by  
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Prada has announced that it will finally ban the use of all fur in future fashion lines. The major fashion company joins a growing list of designers who have been successfully pressured by animal rights advocates to ban fur from their products. Starting in 2020, the company will no longer introduce items with fur, but those currently in circulation will still be available for purchase. Prada’s decision comes as interest in ethical and sustainable fashion mounts among consumers. “The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy — reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States — is an extension of that engagement,” head of Prada Miuccia Prada said in a statement . “Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products.” Related: Burberry vows to stop burning unsold clothes and using real fur With this major victory, animal rights groups now plan to focus their attention on urging Prada, as well as other companies, to ban exotic skins, such as alligator and snakeskin items, from future lines. PETA has already purchased enough stock in the fashion company to suggest shareholder resolutions that would allow a vote on the use of exotic skins. Prada has experimented with fur alternatives, including using materials from teddy bear manufacturer Steiff; however, environmentalists also argue that many fur alternatives utilize microplastics , which do not biodegrade and wreak havoc on waterways and marine ecosystems. Via EcoWatch Images via Shutterstock

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Prada announces a ban on fur

How to Cut Your Summer Energy Bills

May 22, 2019 by  
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Do you dread opening your summer electric bills? If you’re … The post How to Cut Your Summer Energy Bills appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Green batteries? Renewable energy storage will cost nature

May 20, 2019 by  
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Our quest to save the world by achieving 100 percent renewable energy will unfortunately also be devastating for the environment . An increase in renewable energy means an increase in the need for batteries to power electric cars and store energy from solar panels and wind turbines. However, batteries are made from unsustainably and unethically sourced metals. A new report , released by the University of Technology in Sydney, estimates that the surge in battery production will increase the demand for metals four times above what is currently available in the earth’s existing mines and reserves. The researchers calculated how the demand for “green batteries” will rise if countries meet their Paris Agreement commitments and transition to 100 percent renewable energy and transportation by 2050. Their findings indicate that the demand will exceed the amount of cobalt that is currently available and will consume 86 percent of the earth’s lithium. What metals are needed? Phones, solar panels, wind turbines and the batteries they use to store energy all use a variety of metals. In addition to lithium, batteries use cobalt, manganese and nickel. Solar panels are made from tellurium, gallium, silver and indium. Other renewable devices also use copper and aluminum. Related: Renewable energy surpasses coal for the first time in U.S. history The impact of metal mining Metal mining is largely unsustainable and there is currently no plan for ensuring a clean transition to renewable energy that reforms the mining industry. The following metals are especially problematic and in high demand: Cobalt 60 percent of all cobalt is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the mining process causes large scale heavy metal contamination of the air, water and soil. Moreover, the cobalt industry has widely documented human rights abuses, including employing children and forcing workers to mine in highly dangerous circumstances. After extraction in rural areas of the DRC, the raw metal travels to the capitol for processing and is typically transported to China, which refines 40 percent of all cobalt. Chinese companies then sell the refined cobalt to places such as Vietnam, where batteries are produced and then sold all over the world. In addition to the atrocious impacts at the mining site, the entire industry has a massive carbon footprint . Innovators are desperately trying to design a cobalt-free battery. Elon Musk even tweeted a commitment to discovering a new way to produce batteries, hoping to distance Tesla from the environmental and human rights issues tied to the cobalt industry. Such battery technology is not a likely possibility in the near future and the demand for renewable energy will cause a spike in the need to rely on the existing cobalt market at the expense of nature and thousands of lives. Lithium Lithium is largely extracted from South American countries such as Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The mines have contaminated drinking water reserves and cause conflict with local communities. Leaders from 33 indigenous groups sued mine operators over their right to clean water, however, they are up against a powerful industry that charges everything from our TV remotes to our beloved cellphones. Copper A new technology promises a more environmentally friendly strategy for extracting copper from the ground. It involves injecting an acid solution into the land while leaving the surface relatively undisturbed. However, the technology may still contaminate land and ground water. In Alaska , an indigenous group has been fighting a proposed copper mine on the site of a world’s most highly productive sockeye salmon fishery. Despite the importance of this ecosystem , the indigenous leaders have an uphill battle against powerful corporations, rising demand and limited copper reserves. Solutions: The greening of batteries Despite the negative impact of battery materials, experts still argue that the transition to renewable energy is worth it. Energy professor, Charles Barnhart of Western Washington University, told the media: “I want to be clear that when we talk about environmental impacts, we’re not trying to decide between ‘lesser evils,’” the destructive legacy of fossil fuels is incomparable. Although metal mining may never be clean, there are a few ways to improve the problem: Demand transparency from battery and electronics companies If mining operations and electronics companies know that consumers are paying attention to their supply chains, human rights practices and environmental impacts they are more likely to do the right thing. Respect rights of indigenous communities The sovereignty and voices of dissent from local communities must be recognized and supported both legally and financially in places from the DRC to Alaska. Increase energy efficiency The world’s transition to renewable energy seems to be the path forward, however people can still reduce their need for electricity in their every day lives. For example, homes built to make the most of natural light use less electricity during the daytime. Recycle batteries The lithium and cobalt recycling industry will be worth $23 billion by 2025 and will rise with increasing demand. Major companies like Tesla, Apple and Amazon are developing battery recycling programs for their products. Related: A growing number of states are aiming for clean energy Tips on how to recycle your batteries: Single-Use Batteries Identify a collection program or event in your area by calling your town hall or using Earth911’s Recycling Search program. Store batteries in plastic or cardboard containers and cover the ends with tape to prevent energy drain. Rechargeable batteries Identify a collection program. Many home and office supply stores have recycled battery dropboxes. Remove the battery from your electronics and cover the ends with clear tape. Via Earther Images via Shutterstock

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Green batteries? Renewable energy storage will cost nature

Architects transform a residential building into a lush, green oasis in the heart of So Paulo

May 20, 2019 by  
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Although São Paulo is known as a bustling metropolis, a local architectural firm, Lucia Manzano Arquitetura , is doing its part to add more green to the concrete and glass cityscape. The Lorena is a residential building in the heart of the city that is designed to integrate architecture and landscape. It infuses an abundance of vegetation throughout from its ground floor garden, which was planted with native shrubs and trees to attract local fauna, to the massive balconies covered in hanging greenery, and of course, a lush green roof. Sitting in the middle of São Paulo, the 28,000-square-foot Lorena building holds court in a quiet area, standing out significantly from its concrete neighbors thanks to the massive amount of vegetation that hangs from each of its outdoor terraces and rooftop gardens . According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a strong relationship between landscape and architecture. To do so, the building was covered in layers of vibrant plants. Related: Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution The concrete building is four stories, comprised of several 5,543-square-foot duplex units. The common areas, the ground floor and the rooftop were conceived as private gardens for the residents. On the ground floor, the landscaping includes  native vegetation , such as local species from the Atlantic Forest as well as fruit and native trees, chosen to attract local birds and insects. This space also has an extended splash pool to create a soothing oasis where the residents can relax. At the top of the building, residents can also enjoy a beautiful green roof . Equipped with large trees, shrubs and flowers, there are also plenty of lounge chairs to take in the stunning views of the city. When they are not strolling along the pool or taking in the rooftop vistas, residents have their own private escape at home. Each duplex has four bedrooms, each with its own private balcony that pulls double-duty as flowerbeds. The living space in each unit opens up to a balcony, merging the interior with the exterior. As well as creating the sense of being surrounded by a garden , the abundance of plant life also provides the residences with plenty of privacy. + Lucia Manzano Arquitetura  Via Archdaily Photography by Evelyn Müller via Lucia Manzano Arquitetura

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