Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

September 24, 2021 by  
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In 2021, electricity production by hydropower plants across the U.S. will reduce by 14% compared to 2020 levels. This is due to the extreme drought conditions affecting western states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) that the drought will significantly affect water levels, causing some rivers to dry. States such as California and those in the Pacific Northwest, which are major contributors to U.S. hydroelectric power, have faced “extreme and exceptional” drought conditions in 2021. The Columbia River, the country’s fourth-largest river by volume, contributes immensely to hydropower generation. Its watershed runs through four states, including Washington , Idaho, Montana and Oregon. In 2020, the hydropower generated in these states was 136 billion kWh, accounting for 54% of all hydropower generated in the U.S. Related: Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) has provided data showing that reservoir storages in Washington and Montana are at or above average. Even so, reservoir storage in Oregon measured just 17%. Historically, reservoir capacity in the state averages 47%. Another drought -affected state, Idaho, reported a reservoir capacity of 34%, compared to its historical average of 51%. The low water levels in reservoirs threaten power generation. And the situation may get worse as droughts continue. After record-breaking heatwaves hit major areas of the Columbia River Basin, officials issued drought warnings in several counties across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The critical role played by these states in hydropower generation has been under continuous threat in the past decade. While California alone accounts for about 13% of the U.S. hydroelectric power generation, plants in California only contributed 7% in 2020. With the state experiencing widespread drought, it is expected that the power generated this year will be even lower than last year. In August, the second-largest reservoir in California at Lake Oroville hit an all-time low of 35% capacity, forcing a temporary closure of the Edward Hyatt Power Plant. This was the first time the plant went offline since 1967. This year, the state’s power generation has fallen on the lower end of its 10-year range. Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

September 22, 2021 by  
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Activists in  New York  are trying to shame rich countries into keeping an expensive promise to the Global South. A new version of a digital “climate clock” displayed in Union Square shows a climate-action timeline along with an amount rich countries still owe. These richer countries promised to invest $100 billion annually in a global  green energy  fund to help developing nations. According to one photo taken of the digital clock, those countries are wondering about the whereabouts of the other roughly $90.5 billion promised this year. Related: NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming The climate clock forms part of the backdrop in which the United Nations General Assembly began its meeting in New York on Monday. The U.N. recently labeled the sorry state of our climate as a “code red for humanity.” According to the clock, we have about seven years and 300 days to slash emissions before facing the worst climate  emergency . “The new IPCC report sent a clear, unequivocal message: we are in a  climate  emergency, and without drastic corrective action on track for climate catastrophe,” said Laura Berry, Climate Clock research and advocacy director, in a statement, as reported by Common Dreams. The original climate clock was unveiled last September. Organizers of the display aren’t impressed by the progress made since then. They’re especially irate that the U.S. has failed to honor its  financial  obligations. “ Africa  needs countries like the U.S.—that are the greatest contributors to the problem—to also contribute the most to helping solve it,” said Climate Clock global ambassador Jerome Ringo. “The United States is only 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must contribute our fair share to the Green Climate Fund.” A lot of individuals and organizations are pessimistic about whether the richer countries will step up. Oxfam International estimated that “wealthy nations are expected to fall up to $75 billion short of fulfilling their longstanding pledge to mobilize $100 billion each year from 2020 to 2025 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change and reduce their  emissions .” Via Common Dreams Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

Off-grid design helps rebuild school structures lost in fire

September 22, 2021 by  
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Frederick Fisher & Partners recently completed a project at the Ojai Valley School’s Upper Campus in Ojai,  California , replacing structures previously lost to the Thomas Fire in 2017. Situated on a 195-acre site in Ventura County, the new and permanent buildings span 37,000 square feet to include the Aramon Science and Technology Center, the Grace Hobson Smith House dormitory and the Littlefield Student Commons dining and library complex. Related: A LEED Gold-targeted health education hub joins University of Washington campus The school had a head start even before the  wildfire  struck, as it had already been in contact with Frederick Fisher & Partners in 2015 to develop a master plan for future growth. Because of this, they were able to begin work quickly in June of 2018. “OVS showed great resilience in transforming the tragedy of the Thomas Fire into a reimagination of the Upper Campus,” said Frederick Fisher, founding partner and design principle of the project. “We reset from our previous planning with the OVS community and seized this rare ‘blank canvas’ opportunity to create a functionally and aesthetically unified state-of-the-art learning, living, and gathering village interwoven with the extraordinary landscape.” Built to support the school’s growing science and technology curriculum, the single-story Aramont Science and Technology Center contains a range of classrooms, labs and spaces for  science , technology and the arts both indoors and outdoors. At two stories, the Littlefield Student Commons is made up of a dining hall,  library  and student center with space for events and a library on the top floor. The new Grace Hobson Smith House dormitory was completed to house resident and faculty apartments surrounding a community courtyard. To achieve  LEED Gold  status, the design integrates passive cooling with photoelectric power generation and lithium-ion battery energy storage. Altogether, the system will eliminate substantial CO2 emissions while allowing the campus to work off-grid during normal operations.  + Frederick Fisher & Partners Images courtesy of Logan Hall for Ojai Valley School

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Off-grid design helps rebuild school structures lost in fire

These shipping container tiny homes provide for the unhoused

September 22, 2021 by  
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The pandemic showed us all how close anyone can come to having nothing. Many people are much closer to losing everything than they even want to know. Monarch Village, created by Studio 804, offers a shelter solution to meet the needs of unhoused people and families. Everyone deserves a clean, safe place to live. And when someone is transitioning between permanent living situations, temporary housing like Monarch Village can be a real lifesaver. Studio 804 worked through the pandemic to build 12 clean and comfortable housing units. These units provide the privacy and safety people need to live well. Related: LEED Gold apartments provide supportive housing in Los Angeles These private housing units are different from the large, open-style housing that shelters traditionally provide. Each unit is a tiny home that shares a covered patio area. The units are built around a community vegetable garden and a spot that will soon become a butterfly garden. There’s also a large public space just north of the garden . Monarch Village’s main building houses a cafeteria where meals are served to the entire shelter population. The food is prepared and served with a farm-to-plate concept. Each tiny home has enough space to sleep four people in two separate sleeping areas. There’s also a full bathroom and kitchenette in each unit, and one is fully ADA accessible. Students of Studio 804 built the furniture and cabinetry for each home. Studio 804, a not-for-profit corporation, offers hands-on design and build experience for students. Graduate students from the University of Kansas Department of Architecture join the program to further their studies and learn more about the innovative building solutions that can create a better future. Students here work on all aspects of design and construction over a nine-month academic year. Built to meet USGBC LEED Platinum sustainable design standards, Monarch Village is Studio 804’s latest completed project. Used shipping containers form the structure of the tiny homes, repurposed materials are used throughout the project and passive strategies address heating and ventilation concerns. + Studio 804 Images courtesy of Studio 804

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These shipping container tiny homes provide for the unhoused

20 livestock firms emit more greenhouse gas than Britain, France or Germany

September 8, 2021 by  
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What produces 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide? The animal agriculture sector. According to a new report by animal campaigners, 20 livestock companies contribute more emissions than Britain, France or Germany. And  governments  subsidize them to do so. About 2,500 banks, pension funds and investment firms financed global meat and dairy companies to the tune of $478 billion between 2015 and 2020, according to the  Meat Atlas . And the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts meat production will rise by another 40 million tons a year by 2029. China, Brazil, the United States and some European Union members produce the most  meat . But lower-income developing countries are trying to get their piece of the shepherd’s pie. Poultry is growing especially fast, with experts predicting that it will account for 41% of all meat protein globally by 2030. Related: Air pollution from US meat production causes 16,000 deaths annually Food and agriculture campaigner Stanka Becheva, who works with Friends of the Earth, said, “we need to begin reducing the number of food animals on the planet and incentivise different consumption models,” as reported in The Guardian. Meat industry regulations need to be beefed up, too, “to make sure companies are paying for the harms they have created throughout the supply chain and to minimise further damage.” Banks and investors financing large, intensive projects to produce more animal  protein  also pose a problem. Paolo Patruno, deputy secretary general of the European Association for the Meat Processing Industry, minimized having such a meaty role in emissions. “We don’t believe that any food sector is more or less  sustainable  than another. But there are more or less sustainable ways to produce plant or animal foods and we are committed to making animal protein production more sustainable,” Patruno said, according to The Guardian. “We also know that average GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in the EU from livestock is half that of the global average. The global average is about 14% and the EU average is 7%.” Meanwhile, the National Farmers’ Union in England and  Wales  is going for net-zero emissions by 2040. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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20 livestock firms emit more greenhouse gas than Britain, France or Germany

Hurricane Ida brings floods to Northeast U.S.

September 7, 2021 by  
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New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut residents have faced flooding due to Hurricane Ida. Although miles away from Louisiana, where the hurricane first landed, the Northeast received heavy storms as the hurricane moved inland. At least 44 people were confirmed dead by Thursday following heavy flooding from record-breaking storms. In New York, the hurricane unleashed torrential rainfall that caused flash floods . Streets turned into rivers, sweeping away cars and other items along the way. Many flights were also grounded, including 370 canceled flights at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty Airport. Related: Louisiana dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida As New York City mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Friday, “This is a new world” that requires “entirely different responses.” Many residents in the Northeast were left in the dark after the floods interrupted power supplies. In New York City, at least 13 people were confirmed dead from the floods; this is in addition to three more confirmed deaths in Westchester County. In New Jersey , Governor Phil Murphy confirmed the death of at least 23 people. The situation was so dire that President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for New York and New Jersey, ordering federal assistance to reinforce local efforts. Hurricane Ida first landed in Louisiana , where it claimed lives and destroyed property. The storms resulting from Ida led to an hourly rainfall record of 3.15 inches in Manhattan, breaking the previous record set two weeks earlier. According to weather officials in New York, the heavy floods are not a result of total daily rainfall but high-volume rainfall in a short span. While commenting on the matter, Kathy Hochul, New York’s newly inaugurated governor, said that climate change is a situation that we will have to deal with for a while. “Because of climate change , unfortunately, this is something we’re going to have to deal with great regularity,” said Hochul. Via CNN and Reuters Images via Pixabay

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Hurricane Ida brings floods to Northeast U.S.

Balancing resilient energy and clean energy

August 27, 2021 by  
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With extreme weather becoming the norm across the United States, communities and companies are in need of clean backup power that can be deployed today. 

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Balancing resilient energy and clean energy

Manufacturers make PFAS-free food packaging recipe available to all

August 27, 2021 by  
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Manufacturers Zume and Solenis want to encourage others to eliminate the PFAS from food packaging.

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Manufacturers make PFAS-free food packaging recipe available to all

The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

August 23, 2021 by  
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Magic lies outside  is the theme of the annual International Garden Festival, which aims to “bring us hope, to exalt creativity and to add colour to this world that is struggling to overcome this global pandemic and to come out of several months of confinement.” Now in its 22nd year, the 2021 edition at Reford Gardens in Quebec , Canada features five new installations, submitted from Canada, the United States, France and Sweden. These additions extend the current gardens, creating an outdoor museum of art. Related: Casa CBC incorporates greenery at every level   Choose Your Own Adventure Balmori Associates from New York present this work, inspired by the effects of global warming . The fight against climate change, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, drove the team to rethink the human/nature connection.  This contemplation is represented in simple lines of  plants  crisscrossing with hard materials. The message simplifies our relationship with the soil, water, air, plants and animals. Choose Your Own Adventure sets out to encourage visitors to feel the hot ground underfoot, smell the moisture or dryness in the air and hear the crunch of gravel as they walk. Hässja Architect Emil Bäckström from Stockholm, Sweden presents Hässja, a traditional hay-drying technique that offers shelter and a connection to nature. Each of the three structures is made up of millions of pieces of straw, transforming a once-living grass into a cozy and protected space for contemplating the resurgent need to intermingle human needs with those of nature. A press release explains the installation by saying, “The covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. It has exposed a disconnection from nature, agriculture and the importance of biodiversity . All around the globe, a regained interest in traditional, sustainable ways of inhabiting the earth is emerging.” Miroirs Acoustiques Presented by landscape architects Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi from Montreal (Quebec) Canada , Miroirs Acoustiques gives visitors the chance to experience sound in a newly presented way. Inspired by sound mirrors used across the coast of Great Britain during WWI to detect approaching enemy aircraft, the installation allows sounds to bounce and focus, amplifying them via two parabolic reflectors ( recycled  aluminum antennas) planted in the ground. Open Space A team of architectural interns for Quebec, Canada (Gabriel Lemelin, Francis Gaignard, Sandrine Gaulin) delivers an open space in the outdoors . The premise is a completely unboxed house, loaded with endless possibilities. It not only provides an open space but a way for the mind to openly roam with new consideration for the doors, staircases, windows and walls around us every day. Porte-bonheur David Bonnard, DE-HMONP architect, Laura Giuliani, landscaper, and Amélie Viale, visual artist, represent Lyon, Villefranche-sur-Saône and Lissieu, France with Porte-bonheur, an installation about reopening the doors firmly shut during the pandemic lockdowns. “Porte Bonheur is a rite of passage between reality and potentiality. The installation invites visitors to dare to throw open the door, cross thresholds, go outside and explore their surroundings with all the wonder of a small child.” The Reford Gardens will be open daily from May 29 to October 3, 2021, in addition to being accessible to members in the low season. + Jardins de Métis Images via JC Lemay, Martin Bond, Nancy Guignard and Antoine Proulx

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The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

Unprecedented rainfall hits snowy summit in Greenland

August 23, 2021 by  
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On Greenland’s highest summit, snow is the norm. But on the weekend of August 14-15, it rained. A lot. Seven billion tons of water hit the ice sheet for the heaviest  rainfall  since researchers started keeping records in 1950. This means that Greenland is  heating  way, way too fast, according to senior research scientist Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center “What is going on is not simply a warm decade or two in a wandering climate pattern,” Scambos told CNN. “This is unprecedented.” Related: Greenland’s ice melt enough to cover Florida in water Over the weekend, temperatures at the  Greenland  summit climbed above freezing for the third time in the last 10 years. This resulted in an ice mass loss seven times higher than the daily mid-August average. “Increasing  weather  events including melting, high winds, and now rain, over the last 10 years have occurred outside the range of what is considered normal,” said Jennifer Mercer, program officer for the Office of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation, as reported by CNN. “And these seem to be occurring more and more.” And July wasn’t any better. Last month, in a single day, the Greenland  ice sheet  lost more than 8.5 billion tons of surface mass. That’s the third instance in the past decade deemed “extreme melting” by scientists. The culprit? You guessed it. Climate change. According to a recently published study in the journal  The Cryosphere , since the mid-1990s, our planet has lost 28 trillion tons of ice. Much of that came from the Greenland ice sheet and other parts of the  Arctic . The recent deluge will alter the properties of Greenland’s snow. The ice crust it will leave behind will eventually be buried in  snow , but will form a barrier preventing water from melting downward. Instead, there will be runoff at higher elevations. “We are crossing thresholds not seen in millennia, and frankly this is not going to change until we adjust what we’re doing to the  air ,” Scambos told CNN. Via CNN Lead image via Pixabay

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Unprecedented rainfall hits snowy summit in Greenland

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