The wintry months ahead can be especially demanding on the insulating properties of a building enclosure. Moisture from rain or snow can compromise the effectiveness of insulating materials, while frigid temperatures can exploit vulnerabilities like thermal bridges. All of these factors increase the risk of thermal inefficiency, which can hike energy expenses and cause temperature variability.
Plant and building managers may find one solution in using insulated metal panels for the building envelope. A sophisticated building product, insulated metal is composed of a combination of materials that contribute to enhanced thermal resistance and improved sustainability. Insulated metal panels can be helpful in the overall operation of a building, making it more efficient and thereby using less energy. Read the rest of this entry »
Research by the nonprofit BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) and consulting firm GlobeScan suggests that sustainability efforts are not becoming well-integrated across corporate enterprises. In fact, Chris Coulter, GlobeScan co-CEO, has gone so far as to assert that “sustainability is stalled at most companies.”
The BSR research points to lack of engagement with the corporate finance function as a key contributor to the problem. Clinton Moloney, managing director of the Sustainable Business Solutions (SBS) practice at professional-services firm PwC, believes better engagement with the company CFO (chief financial officer) could help a lot in moving things along.
“The best CFOs are all about trying to enable the strategies for the business,” he told Green & Clean Journal in an interview. An effective corporate sustainability officer (CSO) will help the CFO “understand where sustainability can help amplify the overall strategy.” Moloney stressed that “the role of the sustainability professional has to be not just advocating that it’s the right thing to do, but to learn the language of the finance organization and help them interpret the sustainability challenges through the lens of the business.” Read the rest of this entry »
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending a reduction in the minimum amount of biofuel that must be blended into transportation fuel, according to an EPA document leaked last month.
A revised Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate would reduce the level of corn ethanol from 14.4 billion gallons a year to an amount between 12.36 billion and 13.18 billion gallons, the document states. The total renewable volume obligations (RVO) for biofuel would drop to 15.21 billion gallons, a reduction of nearly 3 billion gallons.
The agency’s apparent call for reducing the RVO seems to be a response to Big Oil’s argument that the U.S. fuel chain cannot absorb more ethanol.
Having been forced to cede 10 percent of their gasoline revenues to biofuel suppliers, oil companies are not only doing all they can to keep that number from going up as scheduled over the next eight years, but they are actually trying to roll the number back. Read the rest of this entry »
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is designed to help coal plants and other installations reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by isolating the CO2 before it goes up the smokestack, pressurizing it, then injecting it into the ground. It’s an unproven technology on a large scale, expensive, and as some analysts say, necessary to help coal-fired power plants comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stringent rules on carbon emissions.
Further fueling the debate on CCS is research that shows the process CCS could cause earthquakes.
With more than 50,000 active oil wells and 18 refineries, California is an enormous producer of oil.
As such, it generates an enormous amount of carbon emissions; the production and use of petroleum-based fuels are responsible for about half of the state’s carbon emissions.
To reduce its carbon footprint, California has enacted many environmental laws and regulations in recent years, including AB32 and other cap-and-trade measures. Consequently, oil companies in the Golden State are looking for ways to decrease their emissions. Read the rest of this entry »
Several states, including California, Mississippi, and Illinois have stepped up their efforts to become more energy efficient, according to the seventh annual edition of the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The latest report shows several states boosting their rankings as a result of increased committments and new programs dedicated to improving energy performance across many private and public sectors.
The State Scorecard shows that the top 10 states for energy efficiency are: Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Maryland, and Illinois. Massachusetts retains the top spot for the third year in a row based on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act. In California, requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have led it to identify several strategies for smart growth, keeping the state in a top position at No. 2. Connecticut is also closing the gap due to passage of a major energy bill in 2013, and Illinois is making its first appearance in the top 10 this year, reaping the benefits of increased energy savings called for in the state’s energy efficiency resource standard. Read the rest of this entry »
Experiences during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy demonstrate that combined heat and power technology (CHP) can help communities and businesses to function with greater resiliency during extreme weather. So said a recent joint report from the United States Departments of Energy (DOE) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The report says that, during Sandy, CHP “enabled a number of critical infrastructure and other facilities to continue their operations when the electric grid went down.” In fact, the authors asserted that CHP’s “value as an alternative source of power and thermal energy (heating and cooling) during emergencies” has been demonstrated repeatedly. The federal agencies released their report to provide guidance for developing and configuring CHP installations for resiliency planning efforts. Read the rest of this entry »
When it comes to cellulosic biofuels, 2013 just might be the year “they said it couldn’t be done.” The technology, infrastructure, and know-how needed to develop biofuel from non-food crops and agricultural residues has been lagging expectations.
Problems ranging from process optimization to supply chain issues have plagued numerous efforts to bring the technology out of the lab and into commercial scale production. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reduced the original 2013 target in the Renewable Fuel Standard from 1 billion gallons to a mere 6 million.
Trash stuffed in recycling bins is actually being recycled, according to a group of MIT researchers who have been tagging and tracking certain recyclables since 2009. Discarded electronics and household hazardous waste is also making it to recycling centers, though its journey can be surprisingly long.
Though refuse collection and processing companies keep records of their operations, no one seemed to have any idea of the route taken by trash from garbage bin to its final destination, according to researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab.
The team dubbed its project “Trash Track” and told the CNET website that it was “designed to monitor trash from start to finish.” The team, led by Carlo Ratti, director of SENSEable City Lab, would “electronically tag different pieces of waste to trace their voyage through the disposal systems.” Read the rest of this entry »
A new pollution control technology developed in Asia for coal-fired power plants will soon be tested in Wisconsin. The process, which uses no water, is designed to significantly reduce pollution that typically spews from the smokestacks of such utility plants.
Construction began a few weeks ago on the upgraded emission control system at the 321-megawatt Weston 3 coal-fired power plant operated by the Wisconsin Public Service Corp (WPS). The project is a joint venture of the utility and a private New Jersey-based company called Hamon Research-Cottrell, a division of the Hamon Corp.
The three-year project, expected to cost $375 million, employs what’s billed as a break-through system that uses regenerative activated coke technology, or ReACT. Read the rest of this entry »