The 14-year battle to ban the chlorpyrifos pesticide

September 7, 2021 by  
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Environmental and labor groups have been pushing the EPA to ban the pesticide for over a decade.

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The 14-year battle to ban the chlorpyrifos pesticide

Biden’s Environmental Renaissance: 2021 and Beyond

August 2, 2021 by  
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Depending on the administration, environmental regulatory compliance can be a moving target. Compliance with environmental regulations is considered a baseline. But if you go above and beyond regulations, can that ultimately make life easier for you and your organization? Regardless of your role in environmental management, you probably tracked the regulatory rollbacks enacted during the Trump administration and wondered what changes will occur under the Biden administration. The answer is clear: The Biden administration appears to be calling for an environmental renaissance. Do you have the corporate backing and the regulatory mandate to develop strategies for not only achieving environmental compliance but also for setting environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and policies that go beyond compliance? This Insight Report examines: The United States’ new international policy on climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) specific actions to counteract regulatory rollbacks from the Trump administration. What this environmental renaissance means for companies.

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Biden’s Environmental Renaissance: 2021 and Beyond

Can circular cities boost biodiversity?

July 30, 2021 by  
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Aside from preserving the last remaining natural places, we need to create new ones — especially in cities.

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Can circular cities boost biodiversity?

A world of possibilities to weather the perfect storm

July 29, 2021 by  
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A world of possibilities to weather the perfect storm

Complaint alleges continued ‘war on science’ at the EPA

July 9, 2021 by  
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Several scientists working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have raised concerns over disregard for scientific data by the organization. Through Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), four EPA scientists have  filed a formal complaint  with the organization’s Office of the Inspector General requesting an investigation. The complaint states that high-level employees at the EPA regularly alter vital information or delete it entirely to give a sanitized impression of toxicity and pollution. The group has also written to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Environment asking lawmakers to investigate the trend. According to PEER, high-level EPA officials modify the language in reports to downplay the adverse effects of chemicals . Some of the words often omitted from reports include toxicity, neurotoxicity, mutagenic and carcinogenic, among others. Further, the complaint alleges that report conclusions are often altered to give a contrary impression to the scientific findings. Related: EPA finalizes rule to make efforts against climate change more difficult During former President Trump’s era, the EPA was also accused of altering scientific findings and exposing citizens to highly toxic substances. Some expected that this issue would improve with President Biden taking over. However, persistent problems are prompting whistleblowers to come out. “These alterations of risk assessments are not just artifacts of the Trump administration; they are continuing on a weekly basis,” said Kyla Bennett, science policy director at PEER and former EPA employee. The Toxic Substances Control Act mandates that the EPA evaluate the risk of existing chemicals and those to be imported. Failure by the agency to follow protocol and prevent the importation or distribution of toxic substances puts millions of Americans at risk. “The resulting Material Safety Data Sheets lack information vital to prevent harmful exposures, such as proper handling procedures, personal protection needed, accidental release measures, first aid, and firefighting measures,” said PEER. The four employees also say that managers at the agency have, in some instances, altered the levels of substances considered safe for consumption in reports. According to  The Hill , managers at the agency increased the recommended level of consumption for a certain chemical by 10,000 times. “All of these altered assessments need to be pulled back and corrected in order to protect both workers handling chemicals and the American public,” said Bennett. “EPA’s lack of accountability for scientific misconduct poses a direct danger to public health . Inside EPA, scientific integrity has become an oxymoron and a cure will require a complete overhaul.” Via Common Dreams Lead image via Pexels

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Complaint alleges continued ‘war on science’ at the EPA

New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

July 9, 2021 by  
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Some farmers are turning to carbon capture to make cash outside of traditional farming practices. A new Senate bill could help attract even more farmers to these programs. One farmer taking part in carbon capture programs is Kelly Garrett, a western Iowa farmer who runs a 7,000-acre farm. Traditionally, Garrett has farmed corn and soybeans, but he began incorporating carbon-sequestering processes for income last year. Since contacting Nori, a carbon-market broker, Garrett has earned $150,000 through carbon capture in his soil . Although Garrett’s farm was already ripe for carbon harvesting when he started, it’s difficult to estimate the actual amount of carbon stored.  Related: Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reach record high Quantifying the amount of carbon absorbed by farmers has been a big challenge since these programs began. After all, as a report by Grist explains, the carbon offset market “is built on the idea that money will persuade someone, somewhere, to remove  additional   carbon dioxid e from the air.” Critics argue that most carbon offset projects do not work and instead allow corporations to pay money to avoid taking responsibility for their pollution.  The first offset scheme started in 1989 when AES Corporation sought to build a carbon-neutral coal -fired power plant north of New London, Connecticut. The company paid about $2 million to small farmers to plant about 50 million trees that were supposed to absorb all CO2 emissions produced by the plant over 40 years. Although the project worked to some extent, most farmers ended up cutting the trees before the 40 years were up. To address the lack of regulation in carbon offset markets, the U.S. Senate passed a bill last month to get the federal government fully involved. The Growing Climate Solutions Act could help hold corporations responsible and provide farmers with the support needed to adopt practices they have been reluctant to try for years. However, this all depends on how the bill is enacted. Again, critics worry that this carbon offset process falls short of actually helping the environment. “The atmosphere might not be winning here,” said Lauren Gifford, a geographer at the University of Arizona who has studied carbon policy. “But these carbon offsets have provided a very fruitful funding source for conservation .” Via Grist Lead image via Pexels

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New bill regulating carbon offset market could attract farmers

A LEED Gold-targeted health education hub joins University of Washington campus

July 9, 2021 by  
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The University of Washington will soon welcome the brand-new Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, a modern and stunning facility that will serve as a major hub for the campus. The 300,000-square-foot building was designed by the Miller Hull Partnership to provide space for researchers, students and faculty to work and study together. In 2016, the University of Washington announced its Population Health Initiative. This program is designed to address population health around the world from multiple angles. The university hopes the Hans Rosling Center will bolster this initiative by facilitating education and research. Related: An urban farm tops a LEED Gold-targeted health education tower in Toronto Created thanks to a gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from citizens of Washington state, the Rosling Center will become the new home for the UW School of Public Health. The offices of the Population Health Initiative will be located here as well. On track for LEED Gold Certification, the building will have a 47,000-gallon cistern on-site that will provide over 300,000 gallons of water a year. Additionally, the building’s facade helps reduce the building’s carbon footprint and provides a foundation for a low-impact mechanical system in the future. The building includes working and learning spaces, conference rooms, instructional spaces, computing laboratories, collaborative group work areas and offices . There are also many common areas, including dining areas, kitchens, wellness rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms. The center is named after Hans Rosling, a Swedish physician involved in public health work. His work inspired Bill and Melinda Gates, who suggested his name for the building. “Where others saw statistics, Hans saw the chance to tell an incredible human story about our progress against poverty and disease. A data geek through and through, he used numbers to educate , to entertain, and to share his special brand of big-hearted, evidence-based optimism,” said Melinda, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. She added that the building is “a fitting tribute to an extraordinary man.” + Miller Hull Photography © Kevin Scott

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A LEED Gold-targeted health education hub joins University of Washington campus

Energy-efficient Wanaka Wedge House offers views of the Southern Alps

July 9, 2021 by  
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Three bedrooms and a view of the Southern Alps that pulls the eye endlessly into the horizon — that’s the defining essence of the Wanaka Wedge House, located on New Zealand’s South Island. Yet there is much more to this build than the expansive surrounding landscape. From the outside, the striking architecture highlights geometric elements in its triangular wedge shape and asymmetric windows. The exterior is clad in corrugated metal to match typical contemporary New Zealand architecture. All colors were planned in accordance to limits on albedo and hue. In contrast, the interior is wrapped in custom-milled, locally farmed eucalyptus on portions of the floors, walls and ceilings. Other walls are kept white to create a backdrop for the clients’ art collection. Related: A solar-ready holiday home disappears into a Czech forest The homeowners were highly involved in the details of the design, seeing it as a sanctuary from a lifestyle of international travel as accomplished musicians. Over a glass of local wine and dinner, the couple can take in the dramatic mountain views in the distance. Native grasses and plants directly outside the Wanaka Wedge House were chosen to restore the prior sheep farm into a natural landscape. Each material and system in the home was chosen with sustainability in mind. The architects at Actual Architecture relied on local craftspeople wherever possible. According to a press release, the “walls are comprised of a super insulated wood frame structure of LVL lumber to avoid the energy intensive importation of materials.” Ultra-efficient radiant flooring keeps the polished concrete warm in the winter, and the upper floor features radiant heat between the joists. Natural lighting and cross ventilation occurs with windows located across from each other, while the house fan pulls cool air from the courtyard below and allows it to escape at the high point of the wedge. Actual Architecture reported that the “thermal performance exceeds New Zealand standards for a single family house.” The Wanaka Wedge House is actually not an original design but rather a prototype meant to be adjusted for different needs and building sites (and is available for purchase). While the prototype design saved the owners money, it is modifiable enough to make the space feel uniquely their own. + Actual Architecture Images via Actual Architecture

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Energy-efficient Wanaka Wedge House offers views of the Southern Alps

Groundfridge uses insulation, not electricity, to stay cool

July 8, 2021 by  
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Designed by Studio Floris Schoonderbeek , the Groundfridge refrigerated cellar uses the soil’s natural insulation as a cooling system for sustainable food and wine storage. It serves as an alternative to common refrigerated cellars that suck energy and result in high utility bills. The Groundfridge requires no electricity, instead using natural insulation and a battery-powered ventilation system. A spherical structure is dug into the earth and covered with the excavated soil from the new location so that only the main opening is visible aboveground. The insulating capacity combines with the natural coldness of the ground, while the inhalation of cool air through the ventilation system makes for a constant cellar climate.  Related: This durable, recyclable cooler is made from bamboo, wool, steel and aluminum The interior section of the cellar is made of wood , while the covering layer of soil is about one meter thick. The battery-driven ventilator offers users the option of setting ventilation times throughout the day depending on specific temperature needs. The temperature inside the Groundfridge will match the temperature of the ground at one meter below, but it can also be affected by factors like soil type, groundwater levels, sunlight exposure, mound vegetation and the outside temperature. Using the ventilator at night will reduce the interior temperature as cold night air is accessed; the company recommends venting the device at least one full hour every 24 hours. For peak temperatures or areas with higher average temperatures, there is an additional active cooler (called the “Chiller”) that circulates and cools down the air inside the cellar, which can help keep the Groundfridge at a guaranteed and constant temperature for professional or food-grade use. The Chiller is an optional add-on to the original Groundfridge for an extra fee and can connect to solar panel charging. + Groundfridge Images via Groundfridge

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Groundfridge uses insulation, not electricity, to stay cool

A billion intertidal animals roasted in BC heat wave

July 8, 2021 by  
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The recent heatwave that swept the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada claimed many human casualties, including at least 486 sudden deaths in  British Columbia . But when the thermometer reached an unprecedented 121 degrees in Lytton, B.C., a less-heralded heat-related tragedy was happening on the coast as a billion sea creatures roasted to death. Christopher Harley noticed a putrid odor at Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver during the heatwave. The University of British Columbia marine ecologist followed his nose to find dead intertidal animals strewn across rocks on the beach. Harley and fellow researchers then checked on nearby coastal areas and discovered similar devastation. As  CBC  reports, the researchers saw “endless rows of mussels with dead meat attached inside the shell, along with other dead creatures like sea stars and barnacles.” Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life Mussels can endure short spurts of 100-degree  weather . But when the rocky shoreline reached 122 degrees, as measured by Harley and his team, the poor mussels were toast. Harley compared their situation to that of “a toddler left in a car on a hot day.” After all, it’s not like a mussel, starfish or anemone can stroll off somewhere to look for shade. “And on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, during the heat wave, it just got so hot that the mussels, there was nothing they could do,” Harley said. Harley estimates that more than a billion  animals  living on the shore of the Salish Sea perished in the heat dome event. He came up with this number by figuring out how many mussels would fit into a small area, then multiplying by the 7,000 kilometers of affected shoreline. People might not care much about mussels, but the bivalve mollusks are an essential part of the  ecosystem . Migratory birds and sea stars both eat them. Harley predicts that the mussels will recover in a couple of years, but sea stars and clams, which have much longer lifespans, will require more time to regenerate. Via Vancouver Sun , The Guardian , Common Dreams Lead image via Pixabay

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A billion intertidal animals roasted in BC heat wave

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