- New Plywood Will Clean the Air Instead of Polluting It
- Green Jobs Grew California’s Economy Most, Study Shows
- NRDC Corrects 10 Common Misconceptions about California Cap-and-Trade (With Puppies!)
- Igloo Turns Sewage into Cold Cash
Posted: 11 Jan 2011 04:00 AM PST
Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research are hot on the trail of a new mineral-based formula that would enable plywood walls, cabinets, and other building elements to “eat” their own formaldehyde emissions. The breakthrough could help bring an end to indoor air quality issues, such as the health problems that beset survivors of Hurricane Katrina, who were housed in new trailer homes filled with fume-emitting composite wood products.
Formaldehyde and Composite Wood Products
Plywood, particle board and many other composite wood products pop up in everything from children’s toys to furniture, cabinetry and home building supplies. Without adequate ventilation these composite products can pollute indoor air and pose a serious health risk, due to the widespread use of formaldehyde-based resins and glues. New federal legislation has imposed tough formaldehyde emissions standards that must be met by January 1, 2013.
Pollution-Eating Composite Wood Products
The Fraunhofer researchers focused their efforts on zeolites, a group of porous minerals in the clay family. Zeolites have good adsorption qualities (technically speaking, adsorption is to adhere to a surface, in contrast to absorb, which refers to the dissolving of a fluid) and are commonly used in water purification systems and laundry detergents. The researchers, however, were dissatisfied with the adsorption efficiency of naturally occurring zeolites, and developed a synthetic variety.
A Kinder, Gentler Plywood
In addition to reducing formaldehyde emissions from wood products, the modified zeolites could potentially be used to reduce other kinds of pollutants commonly found in indoor air. If the research can be successfully commercialized, it would join a growing list of safer, more healthful wood adhesive alternatives including soy-based adhesives that can be used to make agricultural products such as edible feed barrels, in addition to domestic uses.
Image: Plywood toy by kaktuslampan on flickr.com.
Posted: 10 Jan 2011 05:01 PM PST
(That is a spread of 23% better than the average growth at that time).
Green jobs were the only jobs growing faster than 13%. What that means is that the rest of the economy was doing much worse than 13% growth, in order for that to be the average, together with 23% growth in green jobs.
What’s more, both in good times and in bad, it was green jobs that were the driver of growth. Even as the recession started – when there was a slight drop in total jobs of 1% between 2007 and 2008 – green jobs still grew 5% in that time, or 6% better performance.
Whether it is 23% better in good times or 6% better than the average, that is an astounding difference, and it sends a clear message to anyone able to read data. When the economy picks up, it will clearly be the green job engine driving it. If the economy remains slow, the green energy sector is the only positive spark.
Among green jobs, most were in these four areas:
In energy generation, solar provided 66% of the sector, growing 63%, but employment grew in every form of green energy in the state, from wind, and geothermal to ocean energy. Industrial production to support green energy grew, as well as the related consulting services needed.
Energy efficiency grew fastest in new tech green lighting products manufacturing start-ups and machinery to make them more efficient, gaining faster, relatively, than efficiency consulting jobs, while both expanded.
Among water technologies, developing cleanup technologies grew 68%, and conservation jobs grew 3.5 times. (Water is also an energy issue for California, because we use 20% of our energy just moving water around the state)
Environmental consulting brings 70% of the jobs in environmental services, and that has increased since 1995. Environmental safety and remediation jobs grew faster (now 10%) than jobs in pollution monitoring and controls.
But the biggest individual jump in all green jobs came in green transportation, which grew a startling 152%, and of that percentage; alternative fuel transport grew from a 40% share to a 48% share.
Taken all together, it is now green jobs that grow California’s economy, with 6% and 23% more growth than the economy as a whole. And California has the eighth largest economy in the world.
Look at these numbers and tell me how it is that California’s green energy legislation has been a “a job-killing agenda” that is bad for business in the state. The evidence simply does not back up such claims. Quite the opposite.
Posted: 10 Jan 2011 02:13 PM PST
(This is actually a guest post, as forwarded to me by the NRDC: I’ll just provide all the necessary illustrations. It is by Kristin Eberhard, the Legal Director of Western Energy and Climate Projects at the NRDC. We’ve written here (so many times!) about the virtues of cap and trade, so perhaps one more will finally get it through why it really is a good idea. Maybe cute puppy pictures will help, following the example of David Roberts of Grist, who thinks cap and trade is just too wonky for us to stay focused otherwise!)
In the aftermath of the California Air Resources Board's historic vote to adopt the nation's first-of-its kind program to cap global warming pollution across California's economy, understandably there are questions about what the program will accomplish and how it will get us there. Below, I will attempt to clear up 10 common misconceptions about the program:
Q2: Why is California going it alone?
Q3: How can California do anything to address a global problem?
Q4: But in the meantime isn't this going to kill jobs and hurt California's already struggling economy?
Q5: Isn't cap-and-trade a big boondoggle for Chevron? Why don't we just regulate them instead?
Q6: Isn't cap-and-trade a big boondoggle for Goldman Sachs? How can we protect carbon markets from manipulation and fraud?
Q7: Why not give regulated entities more time to prepare?
Q8: Is California giving away all the carbon allowances for free?
Q9: Can utilities use auction revenue to subsidize electricity rates and mute the carbon price signal?
Q10: Why don't we "cap and dividend" and use auction revenue to give everyone in California a check?
(What she said! Susan Kraemer)
Posted: 10 Jan 2011 10:00 AM PST
A company called Wastewater Compliance Systems is marketing a new sewage treatment device shaped like an igloo that could help save budget-challenged rural communities millions of dollars in treatment costs. The relatively inexpensive device, which was developed at the University of Utah, helps to extend the lifespan and efficiency of the open sewage lagoons that are still used in many areas.
Slow Paced Sewage Treatment
Modern sewage treatment plants are extremely expensive, highly mechanized, energy-gobbling affairs with precisely controlled environments that maximize the efficiency and speed of bacteria to break down sewage. Because of the cost, many small communities still rely on a more primitive method: open lagoons or ponds that hold sewage for a relatively long period of time, while the bacteria go to work more or less at their own pace.
A Low Cost Sewage Treatment Solution
In communities where discharge regulations are tightening and populations are growing, these lagoons are nearing the end of their usefulness. The solution offered by Wastewater Compliance is to dramatically increase the surface area of a lagoon at a relatively modest cost, which provides more room to accommodate more bacteria. The trick is to submerge groups of igloo-shaped structures in the lagoon.
The Poo-Gloo Igloo Shaped Sewage Treater
Each device, nicknamed the Poo-Gloo (marketed as the Bio-Dome), contains three additional domes nesting within in it. When submerged in a lagoon, it takes up 28 square feet but creates 2,800 square feet of surface upon which bacteria can grow. A ring of tubes at the base sends air bubbles up through the middle of each Bio-Dome, which helps to create an optimal environment for bacteria while limiting algae growth. So far, pilot testing has shown treatment rates comparable to mechanized processes.
Whither the Poo-Gloo
The company is optimistic that uses for the Bio-Dome go beyond municipal sewage treatment. Industrial or agricultural discharges are a possibility, or the devices could also be used at golf courses and other recreation areas. In that case, the energy efficient device also may have some potential in Re-Powering America’s Land, a program designed to reclaim brownfields and other classified sites for alternative energy and green jobs.
Image: Igloo by Nagyman on flickr.com.
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