Welcome day 1

February 15, 2018 by  
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GreenBiz Chairman and Executive Editor Joel Makower, President Pete May, and Conference Director Ellie Buechner welcome GreenBiz 18 participants to the conference.

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Welcome day 1

Trump wants to dramatically slash clean energy research by 72 percent

February 1, 2018 by  
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It comes as no surprise that Trump is all about pushing fossil fuels – or “beautiful clean coal,” as he calls it – but it still feels like a punch to the gut when you hear about his latest move. The President wants to slash funding from the Energy Department’s clean energy programs by a whopping 72 percent while cutting at least 230 jobs. After imposing a 30% tariff on solar panels made outside the US, it leaves little doubt about what Trump’s priorities are. The Washington Post got their hands on a budget draft coming out of the White House, which details Trump’s vision for the Energy Department (hint: it doesn’t include much clean energy). While it’s important to note that this is just a jumping-off point, and negotiations will likely ultimately raise funding and jobs from the proposal, it is a stark reminder that Trump’s White House is all about partisan politics and not what’s best for the planet ( or even the economy ). Related: Trump’s 30% solar tariffs could kill thousands of jobs and harm industry growth The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) currently has a budget of $2.04 billion. The White House is asking for $575.5 million, with a staff cut from 680 to 450 in 2019. “It shows that we’ve made no inroads in terms of convincing the administration of our value, and if anything, our value based on these numbers has dropped,” said an anonymous EERE employee to the Washington Post . “The administration is ceding jobs to China and our other global trade competitors. The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s research, development, and commercialization programs play a critical role in helping ensure America leads both in inventing and deploying innovative clean energy solutions that power our nation and increase our competitive edge in the global market,” said Bluegreen Alliance in a statement. Via The Washington Post Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 ) and Flickr

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Trump wants to dramatically slash clean energy research by 72 percent

US CO2 emissions declined during Trump’s first year as president

January 16, 2018 by  
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What were United States carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions like in 2017, the first year President Donald Trump was in office? Based on preliminary estimates, the Rhodium Group said US emissions declined by just below one percent , thanks to changes in the energy sector. Electrek crunched the numbers and found 94.7 percent of net new electricity capacity came from renewables . But emissions from buildings , industry, and transportation increased – and America has a ways to go to meet Paris Agreement goals. Nearly 80 percent of reduction in American energy-related CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2016 are thanks to the electric power sector, according to the Rhodium Group. They said in an article, “Improved efficiency of buildings and appliances has helped flatten electricity demand, and coal has lost market share to lower-carbon natural gas and zero-carbon renewables. That trend continued in 2017.” Related: A ‘giant leap backward for humankind’ as CO2 emissions rise after years of stability The group said coal lost ground to other power sources. Solar , wind , and hydropower generation growth displaced coal and natural gas. Between January and October generation from the two more-polluting fuels fell by 138 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) compared against the same period the year before – and renewable generation increased by 75 million kWh. But energy-related CO2 emissions increased in other sectors – “offsetting more than one-quarter of the gains made in electric power,” according to the Rhodium Group. Even though Trump yanked America out of the Paris Accord , many states and cities said they’d stay in and work towards the United States’ goals. The Rhodium Group said, “Recent climate and clean energy policy developments at the state and city-level policy developments could potentially accelerate last year’s pace of emission reductions, while recent federal regulatory changes could slow that progress.” They said America seems to be on track to reach the 2009 Copenhagen Accord goal of 17 percent reduction under 2005 levels by 2020, as long as the country keeps up the one percent energy-related CO2 emissions decline and there are no big changes in other emissions. The Paris Agreement pledge was 26 to 28 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2025. America is not on track to achieve that – the country would need an average annual reduction of 1.7 to two percent in energy-related CO2 emissions over the upcoming eight years. Via the Rhodium Group , Electrek , and Engadget Images via Depositphotos and Thomas Richter on Unsplash

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US CO2 emissions declined during Trump’s first year as president

Drinking water for 170 million Americans tainted by radiation

January 12, 2018 by  
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Up to 170 million Americans in all fifty states may be exposed to radiation-tainted drinking water . Using data from 50,000 public water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that more than 22,000 utilities reported the presence of radium in treated drinking water between 2010 and 2015. Although only a small number of these systems had radium levels that exceeded the legal limits put in place by the EPA in 1976, these guidelines are in need of an update to ensure the public is aware of potential risks — which should be minimized. Perhaps unsurprisingly, President Trump ‘s nominee to be the White House environmental czar, Kathleen Hartnett White, does not even believe in the science behind the EPA’s current, insufficient standard for radium monitoring. Although the amount of radiation in the drinking water is minimal, there is a risk to public health, particularly if standards and policy are not based on the latest science. “Most radioactive elements in tap water come from natural sources, but that doesn’t take away the need to protect people through stronger standards and better water treatment,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health. “Millions of Americans are drinking water with potentially harmful levels of radioactive elements, but the outdated federal standards mean many people don’t know about the risk they face when they turn on the tap.” In Texas, about 80 percent of the water tested contained detectable levels of two radium isotopes. While Trump nominee Kathleen Hartnett White was the Lone Star State’s top environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would alter the numbers to make it seem that tap water in Texas met federal standards. Related: “Raw water” craze draws concern from health professionals During an 2011 investigation, Hartnett White admitted that she did not believe in the science that supported the EPA guidelines. When asked by a reporter what would come if Harnett White was wrong and the EPA was right, she simply said that “it would be regrettable.” After Harnett White admitted to the United States Senate that Texas did indeed alter data, her nomination was rejected. Nonetheless, the Trump White House decided to renominate her in hopes that senators would let her negligence slide. “Putting someone in charge of CEQ who deliberately falsified data to get around federal regulations is outrageous, and the fact that her deception left people at serious risk of cancer is even more alarming,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s vice president of government affairs. “The Senate should reject this radioactive nominee.” Via EWG Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Drinking water for 170 million Americans tainted by radiation

Rundown 1970s A-frame cabin transformed into light-filled modern getaway

January 12, 2018 by  
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Proving that a little sweat and ingenuity makes for great design, this formerly outdated A-frame cabin in Big Bear, California underwent a major transformation at the hands of its owner. Courtney Poulos loved her 880-square-foot cabin – but not its 1970s look – so she gave the space a modern makeover the preserves its rustic charm. Reforming the 1973 wood cabin would not be an easy task, principally because of budget and time restraints. Working with $40,000 and five weeks time, the rehabilitation of the space was even more complicated thanks to the fact that all of the materials had to be hauled up the mountainside. Related: Renovated 1960s A-frame cabin proves that clever design triumphs over square footage With a little interior design help from Nicole Palczynski of Vein Design , Poulos began the project with a few key focus points to guide the design theme, “We wanted to create a handsome space full of butterscotch and whiskey undertones, dark woods, and light accents,” she remembers. Starting in the interior, the ceiling’s high wood beams were painted a dark ebony that made the other features such as the light wooden paneling on the walls and the hearth’s brick base stand out. The kitchen also has a new look thanks adding a fresh coat of paint to the existing solid wood cabinets. A fun, bohemian theme was used to update the bedrooms using patterned textiles and saturated colors. The renovation also focused on bringing as much natural light to the interior as possible. After the project was finished, Poulos was amazed at how much she could do on a limited budget, “You don’t necessarily need to limit your creativity to a conventional cabin design,” she says. “It was a treat to maintain the balance between the vintage architectural space and the modern finishes for a covetable end result.” + Courtney Poulos Via Dwell Images via Courtney Poulos

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Rundown 1970s A-frame cabin transformed into light-filled modern getaway

Trump to open the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to oil drilling

January 5, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration announced on Thursday that it will open nearly all United States coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. This order marks a significant break from bipartisan precedent, which placed at least some restrictions on where the fossil fuel industry could drill offshore. As part of this move, California ‘s waters will be open to drilling for the first time in decades – along with more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the East Coast. The move by the Trump Administration reverses an order implemented by the Obama Administration which blocked oil and gas drilling in 94 percent of the outer continental shelf, the American offshore territory between state coastal waters and the deep ocean . Such a reversal would mark a serious blow to former President Obama’s environmental legacy and could put coastal states at risk of an incident similar to that of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The expansion of oil and gas drilling has already met with bipartisan opposition. Republican Governor of Florida Rick Scott pushed back against the move, concerned on the effects that drilling might have on tourism. “I have asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” said Scott in a statement. “My top priority is to ensure that Florida ’s natural resources are protected.” Related: Scientists protest senator’s plan to open vital Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration Industry leaders have predictably applauded the move. “I think the default should be that all of our offshore areas should be available,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, according to the New York Times . “These are our lands. They’re taxpayer-owned and they should be made available.” If all profits from such drilling were directly distributed to taxpayers, perhaps Pyle’s position would resonate. Instead, offshore oil drilling under the current system involves socialized risk, with citizens paying the price when something goes wrong, and privatized gain, with industry profiting off of the public’s natural resources . Finalizing Trump’s plan could take up to a year and a half, during which time the order will be challenged in the courts and Congress . Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the fossil fuel industry takes advantage of these new opportunities in light of oil’s recent slump which has only recently ended and the major infrastructure investment required. All the while, the prospect of a future Democratic president reversing Trump’s order looms. Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos and The White House/Flickr

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Trump to open the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to oil drilling

Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first

January 3, 2018 by  
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Iceland has been making headlines lately – first by electing a 41-year-old environmentalist as prime minister , and now by becoming the world’s first country to legalize equal pay for men and women. Al Jazeera reports the tiny Nordic nation first introduced legislation last March to help close an existing wage gap, but the law did not come into effect until the first day of 2018. “The legislation is basically a mechanism that companies and organisations … evaluate every job that’s being done, and then they get a certification after they confirm the process if they are paying men and women equally,” Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a mechanism to ensure women and men are being paid equally”. She adds that existing legislation designed to close the wage gap had failed to do the job, although the World Economic Forum (WEF) has consistently rated Iceland as one of the world’s most progressive countries when it comes to gender equality. Related: Iceland elects 41-year-old environmentalist as prime minister This new law will require companies that have at least 25 employees to obtain certification proving that men and women receive the same pay for their jobs. Failure to comply will result in fines. “Women have been talking about this for decades, Aradottir Pind told Al Jazeera, “and I really feel that we have managed to raise awareness, and we have managed to get to the point that people realise that the legislation we have had in place is not working, and we need to do something more”. In a WEF post , Magnea Marinósdóttir and Rósa Erlingsdóttir with the Equality Unit of Iceland’s Ministry of Welfare says their fight for gender parity did not happen by accident: “What is the secret to Iceland’s success? What are the lessons learned? In short, it is that gender equality does not come about of its own accord. It requires the collective action and solidarity of women human rights defenders, political will, and tools such as legislation, gender budgeting and quotas.” The United States failed to make it into the top 10 of WEF’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Index , which includes Nicaragua in 6th place and the Philippines, led by “The Punisher” President Rodrigo Duterte, in 10th. Via Al Jazeera Images via DepositPhotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men in world first

Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

December 5, 2017 by  
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Patagonia won’t let President Donald Trump shrink Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments without a fight. After the president announced yesterday he aims to slash the monuments by around by two million acres, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said they’ll continue the fight to protect the land in court. Today, the company’s home page – instead of featuring photographs of adventurers exploring nature – is black, bearing the stark statement “The President stole your land.” Patagonia calls Trump’s move illegal, and says his decision marks “the largest elimination of protected land in American history.” Trump aims to reduce Bears Ears from 1.35 million acres to a mere 220,000 acres, and cut Grand Staircase-Escalante, which is nearly two million acres, in half. The area, which includes sacred Native American lands and archaeological sites, could be opened up to energy exploration and coal mining . Related: President Trump shrinks Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 2 million acres Patagonia points to overwhelming public support for public lands – there were more than 2.7 million public comments during the Department of the Interior’s 60-day period – and over 98 percent supported maintaining or even expanding national monuments. The company also says it’s a myth that America needs to open more public lands for oil and gas development. They quoted a 2017 statistic from The Wilderness Society: “90 percent of U.S. public lands are open to oil and gas leasing and development; only 10 percent are protected for recreation, conservation , and wildlife.” Meanwhile, the company pointed out the value of the outdoor recreation industry. According to Patagonia, relying on information from the 2017 Outdoor Industry Association Economic Report, the industry contributes 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in consumer spending every year, “far outpacing the jobs and spending generated by the oil and gas industry.” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard told CNN , “I’m going to sue him. It seems the only thing this administration understands is lawsuits. I think it’s a shame that only four percent of American lands are national parks . Costa Rica’s got 10 percent…We need more, not less. This government is evil and I’m not going to sit back and let evil win.” Patagonia has a take action page on their website allowing users to tweet to the administration telling them they can’t take these lands away. They also listed 15 organizations fighting for public lands that you can support. + Patagonia Images via Patagonia , Depositphotos , and IIP Photo Archive on Flickr

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Patagonia is suing the Trump Administration over Bears Ears: "The President Stole Your Land"

Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

December 1, 2017 by  
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The Trump Administration has signaled its intention to take a significantly tougher approach to trade with China, where most of the world’s solar panels are produced. This stance follows President Trump’s campaign promise to protect American jobs from being outsourced to another country. Due to increasing international competition in the solar industry, at least a dozen solar companies have closed factories in the United States . In response to Chinese domination of the global solar market, the United States had already raised tariffs on solar panels produced in China during the Obama Administration , prompting Chinese solar companies to relocate production to nearby Southeast Asian countries. Now, the Trump Administration may authorize tariffs on all solar panel imports into the United States, potentially raising costs to American consumers of solar power. China’s solar industry has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past decade. Though its contribution to the global solar industry was once relatively insignificant, China now produces more than two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. This economy of scale has enabled the global prices for solar panels to drop by ninety percent, positively contributing to the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The current conflict in which the Trump Administration seeks to escalate pits American consumers and solar installation companies, which have benefited from cheaper solar panels, and American solar panel producers, which seek to even the playing field with China’s solar industry. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 American manufacturers contend that Chinese solar panel production benefits unfairly from state subsidies and low-cost loans backed by government-run banks. These manufacturers “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of Phoenix-based First Solar, according to the New York Times . Interfering on behalf of American solar panel manufacturers is not without its risks. If the Trump Administration successfully implements a more expansive tariff system, which could happen as soon as January 2018, it raises the likelihood of retaliation from China and the potential for a broader trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Via the New York Times Images via The White House and Depositphotos

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Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

December 1, 2017 by  
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If you thought Microsoft’s awesome treehouse offices were the ultimate step in the tech giant’s efforts to make its employees a top priority, think again. The tech giant just announced that it will be razing its 500-acre Redmond campus in order to construct a sustainable Microsoft mini city, complete with 18 new buildings, a two-acre open plaza , retail space, jogging and walking trails, two soccer fields, a cricket field, and its own light rail station. According to the company, the expansive campus, which will be divided into “team neighborhoods”, will be focused on providing a “more open and less formal” working environment. Inside, the spaces will be filled with social hubs and light-filled offices, but the new layout will be primarily focused on providing plenty of outdoor and recreational space for the employees. Once complete, the campus will have 18 new buildings, offering workspace for the 47,000 employees that currently work on site, as well as extra room for an additional 8,000 people. The Redmond campus is already a Zero Waste Certified campus, but will be renovated with increased waste-reduction initiatives . Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air As part of the green transportation focus, all of the cars will be parked in an underground parking lot, so that above ground, the employees can travel by foot, bike or, eventually, by a light rail system scheduled for completion in 2023. As part of the green transportation focus, a new foot and bike bridge will be built over the WA-520 in order to connect both sides of its campus. This will connect with a planned Redmond Technology Transit Station where the Link Light Rail is expected to arrive in 2023. Microsoft president Brad Smith said the project will run approximately $150m, and expects the rebuild to create 2,500 construction and development jobs.”We are not only creating a world-class work environment to help retain and attract the best and brightest global talent, but also building a campus that our neighbors can enjoy, and that we can build in a fiscally smart way with low environmental impact,” explained Smith in the announcement. + Microsoft blog Via ZD Net Images via Microsoft

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Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

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