As we look towards the expanding green economy, we have to evaluate what it is going to take to not only transition to a more efficient, cleaner and smarter society, but more importantly how to prepare ourselves to compete and grow financially. Countries from around the world have already begun positioning themselves to capitalize on what some are calling the new industrial revolution by investing billions into sustainable and green technologies, services and products. But when you take a moment and look at this exciting future, ask yourself, “Who will be the ones that will truly prosper from the potential at hand?" The answer is simple: the educated workforce.
Here at ReNewable Now Education we showcase, promote and help connect those who are making a difference in education with the rest of the world. Every week you’ll become inspired as we discover people from around the world and even your very own community who are leading the way in helping educate an Eco-smart workforce
As students, teachers, administrators and staff prepare to head back to school, national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful plans to ignite a passion for recycling in schools across the nation with the launch of its 6th Annual Keep America Beautiful Recycle-Bowl.
Through participation in Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day, the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States, Keep America Beautiful is helping communities spotlight recycling on a local level by educating students and community members on how and what to recycle, while providing an array of resources to improve recycling in America.
"Keep America Beautiful is determined to end littering, improve recycling and reduce waste, and beautify America's communities," said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. "Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day are key fall initiatives to educate, motivate and activate individuals and entire communities to better understand what to place in recycling bins and the many environmental, economic and social benefits of recycling."
Recycle-Bowl, Keep America Beautiful's national K-12 school-based recycling competition, begins on Oct. 17 and culminates on America Recycles Day, Nov. 15. Registration for the fun and engaging four-week in-school competition is open to teachers, school administrators, school facility managers, PTA/PTO and other parent groups and local recycling advocates. Recycle-Bowl registration will remain open until Oct. 11, one week before the start of the competition. Nearly 700,000 students and teachers from more than 1,265 schools across the nation competed in the 2015 Recycle-Bowl.
New this year, Keep America Beautiful is equipped to help participating schools customize the competition in their area. The intent of this hyper-localized approach is to support a community or regional school district to use Recycle-Bowl as a platform to host and promote their own local recycling competitions with students leading the way as the next generation of community stewards.
Recyclables recovered during the 2015 Recycle-Bowl competition totaled 3.9 million pounds across 46 U.S. states, with Egg Harbor City Community School, Egg Harbor, New Jersey, crowned as the 2015 champion. Whether a school has an existing recycling program or is looking to launch one, Recycle-Bowl is an excellent way for teachers, students and facility managers to engage their entire school community in recycling.
AMERICA RECYCLES DAY: NOV. 15, 2016
America Recycles Day, a Keep America Beautiful national initiative, takes place on and in the weeks leading into Nov. 15. Registration is open for businesses, community organizations, government entities, individuals and others planning to host an America Recycles Day-themed event. For recycling educators, the program provides an opportunity to improve recycling by reminding individuals what can be recycled.
Event organizers can access valuable resources to plan, promote and host an event on the America Recycles Day website where there are guides for hosting events, activity ideas, downloadable posters and banners, media outreach tools, sample proclamations and more. Events can be scheduled at any time during the fall leading into the official America Recycles Day celebration, Nov. 15. Learn more at http://www.AmericaRecyclesDay.org.
TAKE THE #BERECYCLED PLEDGE
This year, Keep America Beautiful is encouraging people to #BeRecycled in every aspect of their life. Available online at http://AmericaRecyclesDay.org and via paper pledges at events across the country, the #BeRecycled Pledge is a promise to actively choose to live a recycled lifestyle by committing to "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle." in all aspects of daily life:
Recycling at home, work/school and on-the-go;
Buying products made with recycled content; and
Educating and encouraging friends, family and neighbors to take the #BeRecycled Pledge.
"Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day provide the encouragement and resources to help make recycling a common practice, every day of the year," said Pulley. "We encourage all community and environmentally-minded people, schools, business and organizations to participate in Recycle-Bowl and America Recycles Day and to take the #BeRecycled Pledge in a collective national effort to improve recycling in America."
Bees' ability to forage decreases
as air pollution increases
Air pollutants interact with and break down plant-emitted scent molecules, which insect pollinators use to locate needed food, according to a team of researchers led by Penn State. The pollution-modified plant odors can confuse bees and, as a result, bees' foraging time increases and pollination efficiency decreases. This happens because the chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules' life spans and the distances they travel.
While foraging for food, insects detect floral scent molecules in the air. Wind currents can carry these molecules up to thousands of feet from their original source to where bees have their hives.
"Many insects have nests that are up to 3,000 feet away from their food source, which means that scents need to travel long distances before insects can detect them," said Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, Penn State. "Each insect has a detection threshold for certain kinds of scents and they find food by moving from areas of low concentrations of scents to areas of high concentrations."
Plant-emitted hydrocarbons break down through chemical interactions with certain air pollutants such as ozone. This breakdown process results in the creation of more air pollutants, including hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which further increase the breakdown rate of plant odors.
The researchers sought to understand how these chemical interactions, which start with the presence of air pollutants, would impact bees' ability to find food. They first estimated the changes in concentrations of flower scents as a result of air turbulence and chemical interactions using a computer simulation, which allowed them to track the concentration and movement of multiple plumes of scents from different flower beds over time. Then, the researchers ran 90,000 simulations representing various bees' foraging and movement patterns amid differing scent levels modified by air pollution and diluted by wind speeds.
The team reported in the current issue of Atmospheric Environment that, as air pollution increases, hydrocarbons' lifetime and travel distance decreases. For example, at 60 parts per billion ozone levels, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a 'moderate' level, the researchers found that enough chemical changes took place to thoroughly confuse bees and hinder their ability to identify the plumes of floral scents they needed to locate food.
The scent molecule alpha-pinene, which survives nearly 40 hours in an ozone-free environment, survived fewer than 10 hours when ozone rose to 60 parts per billion and only 1 hour when ozone was at 120 parts per billion. Another molecule, beta-myrcene, which travels more than 3,000 feet in an ozone-free, windy environment, traveled an average of 1,500 feet when ozone was 60 parts per billion and, when ozone rose to 120 parts per billion, most traveled fewer than 1,000 feet.
The changes in air chemistry impacted the number of bees able to detect food sources in a given time frame. In an ozone-free environment, it took 10 minutes for 20 percent of foragers to find the scent molecule beta-caryophyllene. When ozone rose to only 20 parts per billion, it took 180 minutes for the same amount of bees to find the scent. The team found similar results for the six different scent molecules they analyzed.
"We found that when we confused the bees' environment by modifying the gases present in the atmosphere, they spent more time foraging and would bring back less food, which would affect their colonies," said Fuentes. "It's similar to being asked to get a cup of coffee at the nearest cafeteria while you are blindfolded. It will be hard to locate the coffee shop without using visual cues. The same could happen to insect pollinators while foraging for food in polluted air masses."
Because the concentration of scents changes drastically in air polluted environments, this could impact important interactions between plants and insects.
"There are two types of pollinators, generalists and specialists," said Fuentes. "Generalists can detect a mixture of scents, while specialists can only detect one type of scent. This means that as certain scents decrease their travel distance and life span, specialists and generalists may both have trouble finding food."
Declines in the pollination of wild plants may lead to increases in the population of plants that do not rely on pollinators, and pollinator declines would lead to decreases in crop yields, Fuentes noted.
These findings highlight that air pollution is one of many factors influencing the decline of the bee population.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, managed honeybee populations in the U.S. have declined between 25 and 45 percent per year since 2010, including a 44 percent decline from 2015 to 2016.
Story Source: From materials provided by Penn State.
Building the Sustainable Orphanage:
Maison L’Arc-en-Ciel, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
In 1996, AIDS was the leading cause of death in Haiti, with over 300,000 people infected with the virus, 180,000 of whom were children. HIV/AIDS was a guaranteed death sentence, with no available antiretroviral medication and a widespread lack of education about the disease and how it is transmitted, leading to the total ostracization of those afflicted with it. This resulted in thousands of homeless, sick children and families, who had nowhere to turn for assistance in all of Port-au-Prince.
Canadian accountant, Danielle Reid Pénette, and her Haitian-born husband, Robert, recognized that these stigmatized children had no services or assistance available to them, and founded Maison L’Arc-en-Ciel in order to provide shelter, medical and psychological care, and a strong family environment for the children infected/affected by this terrible disease. The shelter has housed, cared for, and provided education and countless other services to several dozen children continuously since its inception in 1996.
Now the goal is to make it sustainable. The Honey for Haiti Project, founded by Providence College students in June 2015, was inspired by Danielle’s fight against HIV/AIDS in Haiti, and especially by her focus on the well-being of the children, which has not wavered since she began her work in Haiti. Every decision made, regardless of how it may impact the financial situation of the orphanage, is first carefully audited to insure that it is in the best interest of the children. This, in addition to Danielle’s push for becoming a self-sustainable organization, was the reason the Honey for Haiti team was created; to assist in this venture as well as develop a strong connection and friendship with the children and staff at Maison L’Arc-en-Ciel.
Today, the main goal of Maison L’Arc-en-Ciel is to become more self-sustainable in order to gain the ability to take in more children as well as insure the long-termsurvival of the orphanage. By converting from diesel to solar power, we will save the orphanage a substantial amount in gas costs in addition to reducing their overall carbon emissions. The implementation of strategic agriculture development, an apiculture project, and composting initiatives will allow the orphanage to reduce its extrinsic food costs, as well as developing an income that can be applied to the operating costs of the organization, and eventually will allow the expansion of the physical orphanage building to take in more children. Raising livestock, including chickens, goats, and cows, for the purpose of selling meat and animal products to a network of local grocers, will also increase the income generated by our project. By developing each section of the project in a way that maximizes the reduction of the use of natural resources such as water, animal feed, and fossil fuels, we are beginning to build a real, feasible example of the sustainable orphanage. After doing so, we will be able to replicate the project at other orphanages in Haiti and across the world.
This past weekend, RNN had the pleasure of covering the 8th Annual Laurentia Bio-Region Summit at the historical Omni Mount Washington Resort and SPA nestled in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. This event is where the creative process of sustainable education and practices begins to take form in a "Think Tank" like environment among some of the leaders in the environmental and clean energy sector of our society. This eclectic mix of speakers and presenters was incredibly diverse, including fields such as: academia, architecture, business, government, and communication professionals all brainstorming in a combination of improvisational thought, combined with problem solving initiatives, and proven success stories. The theme of this year's summit was “ENERGY,” and there is no question that there was plenty of energy in this event, and we are happy to say it was all natural.
RNN will begin to release the filming of the event in segments over a three week period where it will be available for on demand viewing and sharing. We want to acknowledge the hard work of the entire Upper Northeast Regional Committee, New Hampshire Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, John F. Pietroniro and Ken Filarski and all the folks that put this event together on a volunteer basis. Great job!
Rising carbon dioxide emissions pose 'intoxication' threat to world's ocean fish
UNSW Australia researchers have found that carbon dioxide concentrations in seawater could reach levels high enough to make fish "intoxicated" and disoriented many decades earlier than previously thought, with serious implications for the world's fisheries. The UNSW study, published in the journal Nature, is the first global analysis of the impact of rising carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels on natural variations in carbon dioxide concentrations in the world's oceans.
"Our results were staggering and have massive implications for global fisheries and marine ecosystems across the planet," says lead author, Dr Ben McNeil, of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre.
"High concentrations of carbon dioxide cause fish to become intoxicated -- a phenomenon known as hypercapnia. Essentially, the fish become lost at sea. The carbon dioxide affects their brains and they lose their sense of direction and ability to find their way home. They don't even know where their predators are.
"We've shown that if atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution continues to rise, fish and other marine creatures in CO2 hotpots in the Southern, Pacific and North Atlantic oceans will experience episodes of hypercapnia by the middle of this century -- much sooner than had been predicted, and with more damaging effects than thought.
"By 2100, creatures in up to half the world's surface oceans are expected to be affected by hypercapnia."
The study is by Dr McNeil and Dr Tristan Sasse of the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics.
Ocean hypercapnia is predicted to occur when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exceed 650 parts per million.
The UNSW scientists utilised a global database of seawater carbon dioxide concentrations collected during the past 30 years as part of a variety of oceanographic programs.
"We then devised a numerical method to work out the natural monthly peaks and troughs in carbon dioxide concentrations during the year across the surface of the world's oceans, based on these observations," says Dr Sasse.
"This allowed us to predict for the first time that these natural oscillations will be amplified by up to tenfold in some regions of the ocean by the end of the century, if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise."
To help accelerate this important area of research, the UNSW scientists have also offered prizes to other researchers who can improve on their results.
"Predicting the onset of hypercapnia is difficult, due to a lack of global ocean measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations," says Dr McNeil.
"We are challenging other scientists with innovative predictive approaches to download the dataset we used, employ their own numerical methods and share their final predictions, to see if they can beat our approach."
Global Learning Is Needed To Save Carbon Capture and Storage From Being Abandoned
Photo credit: CCS: a 2 degree solution
Carbon capture and storage, which is considered by many experts as the only realistic way to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in an affordable way, has fallen out of favour with private and public sector funders. Corporations and governments worldwide, including most recently the UK, are abandoning the same technology they championed just a few years ago.
In a commentary published today (11 January) in the inaugural issue of the journal Nature Energy, a University of Cambridge researcher argues that now is not the time for governments to drop carbon capture and storage (CCS). Like many new technologies, it is only possible to learn what works and what doesn't by building and testing demonstration projects at scale, and that by giving up on CCS instead of working together to develop a global 'portfolio' of projects, countries are turning their backs on a key part of a low-carbon future.
CCS works by separating the carbon dioxide emitted by coal and gas power plants, transporting it and then storing it underground so that the CO2 cannot escape into the atmosphere. Critically, CCS can also be used in industrial processes, such as chemical, steel or cement plants, and is often the only feasible way of reducing emissions at these facilities. While renewable forms of energy, such as solar or wind, are important to reducing emissions, until there are dramatic advances in battery technology, CCS will be essential to deliver flexible power and to build green industrial clusters.
"If we're serious about meeting aggressive national or global emissions targets, the only way to do it affordably is with CCS," said Dr David Reiner of Cambridge Judge Business School, the paper's author. "But since 2008, we've seen a decline in interest in CCS, which has essentially been in lock step with our declining interest in doing anything serious about climate change."
Just days before last year's UN climate summit in Paris, the UK government cancelled a four-year, £1 billion competition to support large-scale CCS demonstration projects. And since the financial crisis of 2008, projects in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and elsewhere have been cancelled, although the first few large-scale integrated projects have recently begun operation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that without CCS, the costs associated with slowing global warming will double.
According to Reiner, there are several reasons that CCS seems to have fallen out of favour with both private and public sector funders. The first is cost - a single CCS demonstration plant costs in the range of $1 billion. Unlike solar or wind, which can be demonstrated at a much smaller scale, CCS can only be demonstrated at a large scale, driven by the size of commercial-scale power plants and the need to characterise the geological formations which will store the CO2.
"Scaling up any new technology is difficult, but it's that much harder if you're working in billion-dollar chunks," said Reiner. "At 10 or even 100 million dollars, you will be able to find ways to fund the research & development. But being really serious about demonstrating CCS and making it work means allocating very large sums at a time when national budgets are still under stress after the global financial crisis."
Another reason is commercial pressures and timescales. "The nature of demonstration is that you work out the kinks - you find out what works and what doesn't, and you learn from it," said Reiner. "It's what's done in science or in research and development all the time: you expect that nine of ten ideas won't work, that nine of ten oil wells you drill won't turn up anything, that nine of ten new drug candidates will fail. Whereas firms can make ample returns on a major oil discovery or a blockbuster drug to make up for the many failures along the way, that is clearly not the case for CCS, so the answer is almost certainly government funding or mandates.
"The scale of CCS and the fact that it's at the demonstration rather than the research and development phase also means that you don't get to play around with the technology as such - you're essentially at the stage where, to use a gambling analogy, you're putting all your money on red 32 or black 29. And when a certain approach turns out to be more expensive than expected, it's easy for nay-sayers to dismiss the whole technology, rather than to consider how to learn from that failure and move forward."
There is also the issue that before 2008 countries thought they would each be developing their own portfolios of projects and so they focused inward, rather than working together to develop a global portfolio of large-scale CCS demonstrations. In the rush to fund CCS projects between 2005 and 2009, countries assembled projects independently, and now only a handful of those projects remain.
According to Reiner, building a global portfolio, where countries learn from each other's projects, will assist in learning through diversity and replication, 'de-risking' the technology and determining whether it ever emerges from the demonstration phase.
"If we're not going to get CCS to happen, it's hard to imagine getting the dramatic emissions reductions we need to limit global warming to two degrees - or three degrees, for that matter," he said. "However, there's an inherent tension in developing CCS - it is not a single technology, but a whole suite and if there are six CCS paths we can go down, it's almost impossible to know sitting where we are now which is the right path. Somewhat ironically, we have to be willing to invest in these high-cost gambles or we will never be able to deliver an affordable, low-carbon energy system."
Story Source: by University of Cambridge.
Hydro, Going Strong at the Birthplace of
America's Industrial Revolution
Rhode Island Girl Scouts Learning About Clean Energy While Being Creative
It was back in 1793 with the completion of Slater Mill that America credits as the place and the year of the birth of the country's industrial revolution. All the machines that were used for producing the textiles that came from it were powered by an enclosed waterwheel that was contained within the mill itself. That waterwheel was powered by the Blackstone River, a river that has become known as "America's Hardest Working River."
A lot has changed over the last two centuries- Slater Mill is no longer earning its keep by producing textiles, but rather by becoming a leading tourist attraction, and the waterwheel is no longer powering the mill, but has become a main attraction.
But one thing hasn't changed, and that is the fact that the Blackstone River is still "America's Hardest Working River" and is still producing power today. Our friends at People's Power & Light spent a fantastic day of showcasing what kind of clean energy the Blackstone is creating, and that's hydro. Along the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, RI sits very inconspicuously a hydro-electric plant that is producing 1.35-megawatts of electricity.
The plant, which was formally managed by Charles Rosenfield, who was also a principal, is now owned by Gravity Renewables who acquired it back in April 2014. Representing Gravity Renewables and presenting that day was an old friend of ours Omay Elphick, Omay has been in the clean energy sector for a number of years having first began in solar energy sector some years back. One thing that we really liked that Omay did was help bring things into perspective. So many times, people just don’t know how to equate the actual significance of the electricity being created in a clean energy project. Omay made it very simple, he described, "basically 1.35-megawatts is roughly creating enough electricity power 600 homes." Omay also provided a first hand look at the facility by providing a guided tour to the facility.
We were very impressed to see Priscilla De La Cruz, and her team from PPL engaging local youths thru the Rhode Island Girl Scouts. The young girls where there to show off their artistic prowess while at the same time engaging in the learning and the discovery of clean energy first hand. If there is only one thing that may have been missed from the day’s event, it may have been some of those fantastic Girl Scout cookies. Our salute to all the folks at PPL for their hospitality that day.
2015 Teacher of The Year Award Ceremony
RIC Sustainability Coord., Jim Murphy, Ross McCurdy, and Peter Arpin
It was a fantastic Labor Day weekend for ReNewable Now’s Summer Time Celebration that experienced a capacity crowd of sustainability enthusiasts that came from all over the U.S., and we even had some guests from as far as China! Everyone was there that day to not only celebrate, but to also recognize ReNewable Now’s 2015 Teacher of The Year, Ross McCurdy,for his efforts in inspiring others when it comes to sustainability. On hand to present Ross the award was Rhode Island College’s Sustainability Coordinator, Jim Murphy, and ReNewable Now’s Peter Arpin.
The day also celebrated eco-conscious living by presenting a panel of speakers that each shared their experience and tips of how they are moving towards becoming more sustainable within their home and their daily life. The panel included Julian Dash of Clean Energy Directors who spoke on financing opportunities for homes upgrading to renewables. Joe Lemoine from Lemoine Construction spoke about his installation of a wood burning boiler and what he experienced through the process and what he has saved. Peter Arpin, ReNewable Now’s gracious host, dedicated his home for the celebration as a living example that reflects the upgrades made through renewables. Peter spoke about how he started and what he has saved, and where he is eventually taken his sustainable vision to for his home. The final speaker was entrepreneur/attorney, Robert Healey, Jr., who spoke about his entrance into sustainability back in the 70s & 80s before it was mainstream and how he has developed an organic wine business that reflects the values of eco-smart agriculture. Robert also was nice enough to conduct a wine tasting of his fantastic organic wine from Spain, Lobetia.
We also can’t forget about all the fantastic locally grown, organic food and grass fed meat, it was a HUGE hit. From corn picked just two hours before the event, all the way to barbecued burgers. The crowd enjoyed it and ReNewable Now was happy to have had everyone as ourguests.
"ReNewable Now's 2015 Teacher of The Year"
Ross McCurdy with EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy
On Saturday, September 5th, ReNewable Now will be awarding their 2015 Teacher of The Year Award. This annual award recognizes the achievements and the dedication made by all teachers and once a year selects one that has stood out in advancing the awareness of sustainability in both the classroom and the community.
This year’s recipient is Rhode Island Science Professor Ross McCurdy of Ponaganset High School. McCurdy has numerous achievements when it comes to inspiring others with the potential of alternative energy. In the classroom he excites students by combining hydrogen fuel cells and recycled cooking oil with Rock & Roll music. In the community, McCurdy takes personal initiatives by showcasing that alternative fuels work just as effectively as traditional fossil fuels. In March 2013, he flew a Cessna 182 from Rhode Island to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on a blend of 50/50 biofuel.
Most recently, McCurdy was recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality with the 2014-2015 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.
Ross McCurdy’s achievements, along with many others have not gone unrecognized by ReNewable Now. RN sees education as the cornerstone to moving our society towards a more sustainable future and teachers are paramount in getting all of us there. Presenting the award that day will be Rhode Island College Sustainability Coordinator, Jim Murphy, and ReNewable Now’s Peter Arpin. Jim had this to say about Ross, “Rhode Island College alumnus Ross McCurdy exemplifies the best qualities of the graduates from our Feinstein School of Education and Human Development. He is passionate about his area of expertise — environmental science — and finds innovative ways to instill that same passion in the next generation of Rhode Islanders.”
The award ceremony will be happening as part of ReNewable Now's 2015 Barbecue Celebration that will be taking place at the home of Peter Arpin located at 14 Beach Park Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island. This event is free and open to the public while tickets last. To reserve your ticket visit www.renewablenow.biz. Activities begin at 11:30 and include the following:
11:30 Grilling Begins & Official Welcome
11:40 Julian Dash
“Know Your Options For Renewable Energy”
12:00 Joe Lemoine
“Converting To A Wood Boiler”
12:30 Peter Arpin
“How I Began Making My Home Sustainable”
(Includes live tour)
1:30 ReNewable Now Teacher Of The Year Presentation
The USA’s leading solar research laboratory has unveiled a new $59 million center at the University of California dedicated to the study of solar energy and the production of solar fuels.
The Solar Energy Research Centre (SERC) was officially opened after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The center was named Chu Hall, after Steven Chu, former Director of Berkeley Lab and the U.S. Energy Secretary who spearheaded President Obama’s Sunshot Initiative.
“Steve’s commitment to ground-breaking science is really one of the reasons we’re naming this building after him,” said Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos. “We felt that his service to our lab, and to the country as Energy Secretary, could best be acknowledged by today’s naming.”
The three-story, 44,000-square-foot SERC building will house laboratories and offices of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), the nation’s largest research program dedicated developing low-cost artificial solar-fuel generation technology.
“JCAP’s current mission is to demonstrate a scalable, sustainable device that can generate fuels from sunlight and air at least 10 times more efficiently than plants,” says Berkeley Lab’s JCAP head, Frances Houle.
Previously, the 100 JCAP research staff was spread across leased space on the UC California campus. The joint venture between California Institute of Technology and Berkeley Lab scientists was renewed for five years with a $75 million grant from the DOE.
Chu Hall will also provide space for the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute (Kavli ENSI), a research program investigating the basic science of how to capture and channel energy using nanotechnology.
“We believe the opening of this building will provide a significant boost to solar fuels research,” said Alivisatos. “It puts our researchers, from various disciplines, together in a single space, close to UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab colleagues studying similar challenges.”
Designed with an emphasis on innovation, the SERC building features specialized low-vibration rooms and state-of-the-art, modular laboratories that can be adapted to new discoveries in solar technology.
Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s efforts have seen the organization recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. Berkeley Lab employs approximately 3,232 scientists, engineers and support staff and overall economic impact of the facility on the US economy is estimated at $1.6 billion a year.
Rhode Island College
Celebrates Arbor Day in A Big Way!
For most of us when we hear MIT we thinkMassachusetts and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but there's another MIT that is making a mark and it isn't in Massachusetts.
In what could be a classic example of academia-industry collaboration, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal University and Tata Power Solar, India’s largest integrated solar player, unveiled the University’s first prototype solar car ready for exploring commercial viability in Bangalore on April 22, 2015. The solar car called SERVe (Solar Electric Road Vehicle) was designed by 27 students who made up the SolarMobil team. Work on the four-wheeled prototype started in 2011. It weighs 590 Kgs and is a two-seater solar car which can reach up to 60 kmph with a cruising speed of 30Kmph.
Designed keeping in mind the mobility and commercial viability, the solar panels have been custom-made to fit the car’s curved surface enhancing the aerodynamics and performance of the vehicle. The highly efficient customized panels weigh just 35kgs and provide up to 960 watts power and weigh less than half of the conventional panels. The car also houses a Direct Solar Drive, powered by solar panels, to maintain the cruising speed and is supplemented by extra power from its high-end energy storage system.
About the project Dr P. Giridhar Kini, Associate Director IL&P, Manipal Institute of Technology said, “We are extremely happy to see how our students have shown their passion for green energy through SERVe. The industry-academia collaboration is the key to foster innovation among the student community. Hence, working with corporates like Tata Power Solar helped our students get technical support and knowledge transfer. The team looks forward to working with more companies for future projects to continue to nurture student-level innovation”.
Ashish Khanna, ED and CEO, Tata Power Solar had this to say: “We are pleased to be part this innovative project driven by a talented student-team. This project epitomizes Tata Power Solar belief that fostering innovation is key for the proliferation of solar power. We not only encourage innovation within our organization but also facilitate university participation for this cause, since they can play an important role in driving innovation in partnership with the industry. The solar car is one of many ventures which we have supported, and we firmly believe India’s students will act as a key contributor in the progress of our solar industry”.
The core members of the student design team SolarMobil, include: Anudeep Reddy, Jeet Bannerjee, Siva Bhushan Reddy, Anjan Kumar, Varun Gupta, Rohan Sahdev, Madhav Lakhotia, Samay Goenka, P. Sulekh, Akshat Singh, Amol Grover and Nikhil Gumidelli.
Rhode Island College
Celebrates Arbor Day in A Big Way!
Last week was such a great week with the 45 Year Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day, the celebration is truly a vehicle for global empowerment for positive change that all nations can agree upon. As we at ReNewable Now reflect on what it truly means for us it is definitely our future and future generations. That couldn’t have been better displayed then how Rhode Island College ended their week-long celebration of Earth Day by an outstanding Arbor Day tree planting by the RIC Cooperative Preschool children.
It was a chilly and windy spring morning on RIC’s campus last Friday but that didn’t stop the excitement of Arbor Day that was attended by a long list of dignitaries that included U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Rhode Island Director of DEM, Janet Coit, North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi and Dr. Nancy Carriuolo, Rhode Island College President. All on hand to not just support Arbor Day but to talk about the importance of the environment to all and to recognize the young children who would be handling the ceremonial planting of two maple trees at the RIC Bee Education Center.
Also on hand that day was Peter Arpin who helped to broadcast the event live for ReNewable Now. Peter was joined by RIC’s Sustainability Coordinator Jim Murphy as his co-host where they were met by Mary Baker, a RIC associate professor of anthropology who help to break the news of RIC’s new undergraduate degree programs in Environmental Studies and in Global Studies.
We would also like to note that the live broadcast was co-produced by Rhode Island College students who participated in ReNewable Now’s educational outreach program that provides real life experience back to our partners.
Last month the Arpin Group was awarded the 2015 Clean Energy Future Award for their achievements in corporate sustainability. That evening Peter Arpin, who is also host of ReNewable Now’s Business Side of Green was on hand to conduct some interviews with what we feel are some very special people.
He caught up with National Grid Rhode Island President, Timothy F. Horan who shared his thought on the importance of these awards, he also spoke to us about the future of energy purchasing collaboration among the states in New England.
In attendance from Rhode Island Commerce Corporation was Hannah Morini who spoke to us about award winners that actually were helped by their office and what the projects consisted of.
And finally Peter was apple to speak to some future visionaries when it comes to a cleaner future two student from North Kingstown High School in Rhode Island, Drew Lombardi, and Ian Brown. They both described what their role was in helping their school becoming recognized in this year's award ceremonies.
U.S. Veterans Trainingand Certification
For Solar Installation Army
Educating a new workforce from our armed services veterans is not only smart, it's our responsibility.
U.S. military veterans are being urged to join the ranks of America's solar army by signing up to a new Energy Department solar job training pilot program.
The initiative has been designed to help members transition from active service into new careers as installation specialists, electricians and sales consultants.
The program is part of the DoE's SunShot Solar Instructor Training Network, which aims to add 50,000 photovoltaic installers, building inspectors and other solar workers to the industry by 2020.
Three military bases have answered the call through a SkillsBridge initiative, which offers no-cost training for serving personnel during their final six months of duty.
Trainees will be drilled in the sizing and installation of solar power systems and developing other related solar skills.
“As more homes and businesses across America choose solar power for their electricity needs, the solar industry is growing rapidly, and demand for highly skilled solar workers is on the rise,” said Minh Le, director, SunShot Initiative.
“This new solar energy job training program will help our motivated, highly skilled service men and women gain the training they need to transition into leaders of our nation’s growing clean energy economy.”
With solar employment in the USA soaring 86 per cent since November 2010 and a standing workforce of 174,000, the U.S. solar industry is seen as a perfect fit for veterans; 17,000 of which are already employed by American solar companies.
Competitive pay for installers averages from US$20 to US$24 per hour – and Energy Department projections suggest solar could add up to 36,000 jobs by the end of the year.
According to Minh Le, solar hires more veterans than any other sector in America, an arrangement that benefits both companies and employees.
“America’s military veterans have the leadership qualities and talent we need to move the clean energy economy forward. Nonetheless, when the time comes to leave the service, transitioning to any new career presents a challenge for many service members.”
Five major solar firms including SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE) have agreed to interview graduates of the veteran training program, smoothing the transition for qualified trainees into secure employment.
Perovskite Layer Boosts Solar Cell Efficiency
Cheap silicon solar cells layered with perovskite by Stanford University researchers have demonstrated a significant sunlight conversion efficiency improvement; increasing from 11.4 percent to 17 percent (50%).
The researchers originally set out to find a way to make solar panels that are more efficient and lower cost with materials that would be easy to integrate into the processes of existing solar cell factories.
They explored the idea of tandem device made of low-grade silicon and another inexpensive photovoltaic material – and perovskite appears to be a winner. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral composed of calcium titanate. It is inexpensive and easy to produce in a laboratory environment.
Silicon solar cells absorb photons of visible and infrared light and perovskite cells harvest only the visible part of the solar spectrum where the photons have more energy.
“With tandem solar cells, you don’t need a billion-dollar capital expenditure to build a new factory. Instead, you can start with a silicon module and add a layer of perovskite at relatively low cost,” said Stanford graduate student Colin Bailie, co-lead author of a related study published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
One of the challenges in creating a viable perovskite-silicon tandem was a lack of transparency. The cells needed to be constructed using a transparent electrode on the top so that sunlight could penetrate the perovskite layer and be absorbed by the silicon below – something that had never been done before. This was achieved by using a sheet of plastic with silver nanowires and a tool that utilises pressure to transfer the nanowires onto the perovskite cell.
The technology is some way off from prime time.
“Silicon is a rock,” he said. “You can heat it to about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, shine light on it for 25 years, and nothing will happen. But if you expose perovskite to water or light, it likely will degrade. We have a ways to go to show that perovskite solar cells are stable enough to last 25 years,” said study co-author Michael McGehee, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford.
” My vision is that some day we’ll be able to get low-cost tandems that are 25 percent efficient. That’s what companies are excited about. In five to 10 years, we could even reach 30 percent efficiency.”
Keynote Speaker, Akiima Price takes a moment to speak with Peter Arpin
As sustainability becomes a growing part of the educational DNA of schools, colleges, and universities around the globe, the importance of community outreach and engagement becomes an integral part of the institution's mission. At Rhode Island College, they are always reaching out to the community as well as hosting events. This not only allows their students to participate, but also brings together the community, leaders, and innovators, resulting in positive growth and change. And we saw a great example of that back in September, when Rhode Island College showcased their ribbon cutting ceremony that brought community together with the private sector in order to create a beautiful new art center named Alex and Ani Hall.
In November, Rhode Island College hosted a number of events, and ReNewable Now was very fortunate to be on location for their 2014 Sustainable School Summit that was organized in cooperation with the Aperion Institute. The day saw a number of workshops having to do with everything from Environmental Literacy/Sustainability Education to Green/Healthy Building. Also present were dignitaries and leaders who make it their mission to see sustainability on every level become more of the fabric of our daily lives.
The event's keynote speaker was Akiima Price who for the past 20 years has worked with numerous environmental organizations throughout the United States. These include the The New York Restoration Project and the North American Association for Environmental Education, where they create and implement innovative programs that build bridges into low-income communities. She is currently working through Cornell University helping run the EECapacity Project, the national environmental education training program of the EPA. Akiima's presentation is not only inspirational, but is also fun to watch as she recounts her personal experience growing up with nature and how she found her passion for sustainability. We hope you take the time to watch and enjoy.
Panasonic HIT Solar Cells
And Batteries Power Car To Victory
A team from Tokai University in Japan has won the Carrera Solar Atacama 2014 in a car powered by Panasonic’s HIT solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.
South America’s biggest solar car race runs over 1,400-kilometres; from the desert to the Andes. Tokai University’s solar car team covered the distance in 15 hours and 20 minutes.
The Panasonic HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer) solar cells used in the team’s car are composed of a monocrystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra thin amorphous silicon layers. HIT solar cells can maintain higher efficiency than a conventional crystalline silicon solar cell under extreme heat and offer a smaller footprint.
The rechargeable lithium-ion batteries Panasonic provided are known as 18650’s (18 mm in diameter x 65 mm in length), a format also used in Tesla vehicles.
Panasonic also supported the team as a sponsor last year, when the students finished runner-up in the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2013 in Australia.
Tokai University has been participating in solar car races for 22 years and have won five international titles. This year was the first time the team had participated in the Atacama Solar Race.
” It was a tough course over the Andes, with a maximum elevation difference of over 3,400 meters, but we were able to conquer the challenge thanks to the high performance of Panasonic’s HIT solar cells and lithium-ion batteries, and the teamwork of the students,” said Professor Hideki Kimura of Tokai University, the team’s advisor.
Carrera Solar Atacama 2014 was sponsored by a number of companies, including SunEdison. This year’s race passed through the cities of Iquique, Antofagasta, Calama, San Pedro de Atacama, Toconao, Tocopilla and Pozo Almonte. The Atacama desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world.
A Very Special Salute!
We want to take a moment to recognize an outstanding young woman who is beginning here college career, and is also an Associate Producer to ReNewable Now and that is Azzurra Catucci. Having been with ReNewable Now for almost a year, I have had a chance to work with her personally and get a sense of how professional and well informed she is. Sometimes we assume that the younger generation has other interests on their mind and that sustainability and the environment are not much of a concern, but Azzurra has actually shown me how well aware they are to what is happening around them, and that they aren't sitting still and doing nothing about it.
Azzurra produced and covered a number of great events, from the
"Rally for Climate Resilience," all the way to covering the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Solar Farm from The Sisters of St. Mary's Abbey, which happened to be one of my favorites.
Azzurra had many great accomplishments in her high school career, she graduated as a member of the National Honor Society from St. Mary Academy Bay View, where she held numerous leadership positions in student council, Model Legislature and Kids to Kids. She was accepted at a number of universities and colleges across the United States and ultimately chose Elon University in North Carolina where she has been selected as a Communications Fellow. Azzurra intends to double major in Cinema and Environmental Studies and minor in Italian. Not one to waste any opportunity, Azzurra is making the most of her time while attending Elon, where she will continue to work as an Associate Producer for ReNewable Now.
We are excited to see Azzurra continuing to educate herself when it comes to the environment and sustainability, and we are looking forward to getting her reports from North Carolina, and maybe even some stories from the Elon campus itself on their efforts when it comes to sustainability.
Good luck, Azzurra.
- Peter Arpin
SCIENCE IN THE SUMMER
LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CONDUCT ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH ALONGSIDE SCIENTISTS
Fifty high school students from Los Angeles County schools have been awarded an Ignite LA Student Science Award, a fellowship program sponsored by the LA-based Durfee Foundation, in partnership with Earthwatch.
Earthwatch is an international environmental organization whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.
The winning 50 students were selected from a highly competitive pool of 230 creative high school students from Los Angeles County who might not self-identify as science-tracked, but who are well rounded and excel in the arts and humanities.
The program aims to ignite curiosity and interest in STEAM education through participation in a scientific field research expedition this summer. Participation in this experience encourages students to think differently about what science looks like as a career (i.e. not just a chemist in a lab coat) and empower the notion that STEAM careers are attainable, accessible and alluring.
SCIENCE IN THE SUMMER
This summer, 50 Ignite LA Student Science Awards recipients will travel to one of five different locations across the United States to help conduct hands-on scientific field research:
• Schoodic Education and Research Center, Acadia National Park, Maine • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, Maryland • Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Austwell, Texas • Eglin Air Force Base (formerly Choctawhatchee National Forest), Florida • Sagehen Creek Research Station (near Lake Tahoe), California and Nevada
Each expedition provides students the opportunity to work alongside world-class scientists, collect scientific data, exercise the scientific process, and explore a unique natural environment with a diverse group of peers.
In addition to the cohort of 50 students, the Ignite program will also send 10 high school science teachers from schools in Los Angeles County on a teacher expedition to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Manitoba, Canada. The program recognizes the importance for teachers to get out of the classroom to engage in field work and collegial exchange around best practices in science education.
Over the 22 year partnership, Earthwatch and the Durfee Foundation have provided over 1,000 high school students with this exciting and impactful educational opportunity.
A 2010 evaluation of the Ignite LA Student Science Awards showed that 78% of prior participants reported becoming more interested in science outside of the classroom, and more than 50% went on to major in science, and an additional 32% reported pursuing science courses in college.
In the words of one student:
“The Ignite program entirely changed my life. It completely inspired me to become a scientist and without any exaggeration just made me excited to be alive. I am now majoring in molecular and cellular biology and am not at all intimidated by anything I encounter in the classroom or lab.”
PARTICIPATING LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOLS
In total, 230 students from 52 schools across Los Angeles County applied for the LA Student Science Awards, with the 50 awarded students representing 35 schools, including:
• Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High School • Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School • Animo Leadership Charter High School • Bell High School • Benjamin Franklin High School • California Academy of Mathematics and Science • Cerritos High School • Crescenta Valley High School • Culver City High School • Diego Rivera Learning Complex - Green Design • Eagle Rock High School • Fairfax High School • Granada Hills Charter High School • Grover Cleveland High School Humanities Magnet • Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy • John Muir High School • Long Beach Polytechnic High School • Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies • Louisville High School • Marshall Fundamental High School • Mira Costa High School • Narbonne High School • North Hollywood High School • Oscar de la Hoya Animo Charter High School • Pacific Palisades Charter High School • Palos Verdes High School • Paramount High School • Santa Monica High School • Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies-Artlab • South Gate High School • Sylmar Biotech Health Academy • Synergy Quantum Academy • Vaughn International Studies Academy • West High School • Whittier High School
Paul Smith’s College and Cornell University Unite for the Environment
Paul Smiths, NY – Nestled in the forests of the Adirondacks, Paul Smith’s College is known for setting the bar in environmentally-focused education. On April 21, Paul Smith’s announced the launch of its newest project to enhance sustainability as a campus-wide initiative, a joint effort with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“This collaborative project will enable our students at Paul Smith’s College to connect what they learn in the classroom with real world applications,” explains Brett McLeod, Associate Professor and Program Director.
The Adirondack Center for Working Landscapes (ACWL) is a multi-phase project that will link policy, education and practice through healthy land, healthy food and healthy communities. The program will connect people with the landscapes to promote positive environmentalism that establishes harmony between humans and the earth. As a joint effort with Cornell Cooperative Extension, the ACWL will invest in educational outreach and reframe environmental issues with a practical approach.
“Cornell has a reputation for its strengths in agriculture, and Paul Smith’s College has been the leader in forestry, tourism and natural resource management for nearly 70 years,” explains John W. Mills, PhD., President of Paul Smith’s College. “The ACWL partnership will enable the play-off of these strengths.”
The ACWL is the integration of education and economic reality —beyond sustainable agriculture and forestry—to related sectors such as agro-tourism, nutrition, lost arts, traditional skills, food systems and environmental education.
“Because humans are the chiefs of the ecological system, we have the environmental responsibility to integrate people with landscapes in a harmonious union,” says Mills. “This is essential for preserving our landscapes while fostering eco-tourism, agriculture and community development.”
On April 21, the announcement of the ACWL took place at the opportunity symposium, Forest, Farm & Fork, at Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC): 8023 Rt. 30, Paul Smiths, NY, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The announcement was made by U.S. Representative Bill Owens, followed by a discussion on the 2014 Farm Bill. Farmers and associated business owners were provided the opportunity to learn how to attain grants for their North Country businesses from the recently passed Farm Bill and other private and New York State sources.
“We at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Franklin County are extremely pleased to be a founding partner of the ACWL. Our educational mission as the outreach arm of the land grant institution of Cornell and tied to USDA makes our programs in agriculture and natural resources, nutrition and youth development an excellent fit with those of Paul Smith’s College and the VIC,” says Rick LeVitre, Executive Director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Valparaiso University's Solar Powered Furnace
Students at Valparaiso University's James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility have constructed a solar powered furnace capable of reaching temperatures of over 1,650 degrees Celsius.
A 6m x 6m sun-tracking heliostat is situated outside of the furnace building and directs the light toward the concentrator; which is composed of 306 curved mirrors. Between the heliostat and the concentrator are a set of louvres that regulate the amount of light available to the concentrator.
The concentrator and a magnifying glass focus the light on a solar thermal reactor. The temperatures attained inside the reactor allow for a wide range of chemical reactions and associated research; including converting water into hydrogen fuel and splitting compounds such as zinc oxide without any resulting waste.
According to a report on The Atlantic, one of the team's major goals is to produce magnesium with 90 percent less fossil fuel energy and 93 percent less carbon emissions. Magnesium can play an important role in making vehicles lighter - it's around 35 percent lighter than aluminium; however traditional processes are energy and carbon intensive.
The team have been awarded a$2.3 million Department of Energy grant to develop their "green magnesium" process.
The construction of the oven system and associated building was a lengthy project. Two teams of dozens of students commenced work on the facility in 2000.
According to the University, only four research facilities in the U.S. have a solar furnace and Valpo is the only undergraduate institute in the USA possessing one.
The generosity of James S. Markiewicz, who graduated from Valparaiso University in 1972, along with funding from the United States Department of Energy made the construction of the Solar Energy Research Facility possible.
The James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility is now fully operational.
University Of Michigan
Develops Coloured Solar Cells
University of Michigan (U-M) scientists have invented a transparent, coloured solar cell that could turn windows, shades and billboards into solar energy collectors. The U-M team designed a palm-sized coloured solar cell decorated like the American flag - complete with stars and stripes.
"We think we can make solar panels more beautiful - any colour a designer wants. And we can vastly deploy these panels, even indoors."
The team believes it has created a world-first in photovoltaics, and is working hard on improving the efficiency of its coloured cell.
Traditional black solar panels are able to absorb light from the entire visible spectrum, returning efficiency levels of around 25 percent. Other transparent and coloured solar technology like dye-sensitised cells, whereby organic solar material is sprayed or printed onto glass, offer returns of around 10 percent.
U-M’s coloured solar cell contains no dyes or internal structures. The cell contains a layer of amorphous silicon engineered to absorb certain wavelengths of light but to reflect others, meaning the viewer sees reflected blue light while red light is being captured and converted to energy, or vice versa.
To create the different colours seen in the American flag solar panel, they varied the thickness of the semiconductor layer of amorphous silicon in the cells. The blue regions are six nanometres thick while the red is 31 (the team also made green, but that colour isn't in the flag).
An advantage of this approach means the solar panel does not change colour when seen from different angles; a sign, according to Guo, the device is capturing the same amount of sunlight regardless of its position in the sky. It also designs and colour schemes can be “locked in” to each panel.
"Solar energy is essentially inexhaustible, and it's the only energy source that can sustain us long-term," Guo said. "We have to figure out how to use as much of it as we can."
Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: BOTSWANA Wins National Outdoor Book Award
The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award program. They have recently recognized Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana, by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet, as the winner in the Children’s Category.
NOBA is a non-profit, educational program, sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University. The purpose of the awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing.
Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Botswana is the first book in the new adventure series about globetrotting, twin brother adventurers. While on this amazing journey, they discover Africa’s Big Five—elephants, rhinos, Cape buffalos, leopards and lions—only to discover that the most dangerous predator in the African bush is not the king of the beasts, but man himself.
When curious teen brothers, Gannon and Wyatt, arrive in Botswana for an African safari, they find themselves tangled up in much more than a family vacation. After receiving word that a poacher has shot and wounded a lioness, the brave brothers set off into the wild in the hopes of saving the mother and her cubs before the poacher finishes the job.
Using the first-hand adventures of her twin boys, mom and author Patti Wheeler and co-author Keith Hemstreet developed the fictional adventure series in the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook. The book series currently includes Botswana (June 2013), Great Bear Rainforest (Oct 2013) and Egypt (Jan 2014). The exciting fantasies, loosely based on the boys’ actual encounters, are filled with exotic settings, high stakes adventure, and the magic of nature. Meanwhile, the authors have artfully illustrated the value of education, persistence, and teamwork when pursuing goals or overcoming a challenge. The stories are supported by broadcast quality videos, photos, and Educator’s Resource Guides, all available on the Gannon & Wyatt website. YOUTH EXPLORATION SOCIETY
Patti and Keith, along with Gannon and Wyatt, are also co-founders of the Youth Exploration Society, a literacy non-profit that promotes a deeper understanding of world geography, cultures and the environment. Furthermore, the Travels with Gannon & Wyatt team has launched a one-for-one campaign. For every book sold, they will donate a book to a child. Their goal is to donate 10,000 books across the United States.
PATTI WHEELER began traveling at a young age and has nurtured the spirit of adventure in her family ever since. For years, it has been her goal to create children’s books that instill the spirit of exploration in young people. Travels with Gannon & Wyatt is the realization of her dream. Patti lives in Aspen, Colorado with her husband and sons.
KEITH HEMSTREET is a writer, producer, and cofounder of the Youth Exploration Society. He attended Florida State University and completed his graduate studies at Appalachian State University. Keith lives in Aspen, Colorado with his wife and three daughters.
For more information about their new book series, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt, visit www.gannonandwyatt.com
Board Approves Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
The Texas A&M System Board of Regents has approved the creation of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) within the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
“The Island University is excited to have the first center of its kind in the nation dedicated to advancing sportfish management, science, and conservation,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “The new Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation will position the University as a national and international leader in addressing issues related to sportfish.”
Recreational saltwater fishing in Texas generates more than $981 million dollars in retail sales each year with more than 750,000 saltwater anglers supporting an annual economic impact of $1.7 billion dollars.
“We will contribute the expertise and the leadership needed to help ensure that the state’s multi-billion dollar recreational fisheries continue to thrive for future generations,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of the HRI. “The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation will provide a robust base of scientific knowledge to assure that the best decisions are made in managing fisheries and marine environments.”
Dr. Greg Stunz, Director of the CSSC and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health at the HRI, says that both inshore and offshore, we face many challenges in maintaining healthy sportfish populations. These threats include a changing environment that is seeing diminished freshwater inflows to estuaries; habitat loss due to coastal development; and increasing pressure from commercial fisheries.
“The Center will address the most critical issues and problems affecting sport fisheries today,” said Stunz. “Our team is ready to take on the challenges facing the recreational fishing industry along the Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico.”
In November 2012, the Coastal Conservation Association-Texas (CCA-Texas) pledged $500,000 to support the CSSC. CCA Texas is a leader in restoring the fisheries for spotted sea trout and red drum, advocating for freshwater inflows to Texas estuaries, habitat restoration, and education.
In addition, the CSSC will provide hands-on research opportunities for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi graduate and undergraduate students. It will also be a hub for marine research for the Texas A&M University System and other scientists interested in marine fisheries investigations.
Education Through Sustainable Storefront Design Competition in Chinatown
What better way to enhance a students education than through creative competition PLUS a cash reward! And maybe even all the Chinese food one can eat, well maybe just some Chinese food and a big fortune cookie.
Boston Architectural College students revealed sustainable storefront design concepts, still under development, at the Asian American Civic Association to mark the beginning of an innovative design competition in Chinatown. The teams’ inspiring, creative design concepts are precisely what this competition sought to highlight. On behalf of six small business owners, students are exploring building materials options, evaluating energy impacts and day lighting, thinking about overall design and signage, while keeping an eye on historic preservation.
Chinatown leaders who participated in the event spoke about the need to preserve and strengthen the strong cultural identity of the community and rich streetscape experience in the neighborhood’s business district. The student teams are committed to developing designs that reflect that cultural identity while improving the energy performance and competitive position of participating businesses.
Project partners, the Asian American Civic Association, Boston Architectural College, and Boston Redevelopment Authority celebrated the public private partnership and substantive opportunity for students to work closely with Chinatown business owners. And everyone applauded Chinatown for leading the charge on a new, innovative sustainability effort with city-wide implications. The design competition is supported by a grant from the Barr Foundation.
We look forward to watching these teams as their storefront renovation designs coalesce. A jury composed of Chinatown community leaders and design professionals will pick a winner in January. The winning business will receive $18,000 to help implement their design. The winning design team will receive a $2,000 award.
Since this articel has been written a winner was announced. China Pearl was announced the winner of the Sustainable Storefronts Design Competition in January 2012. The restaurant has started their renovation project in June 2012.
Boom in Green MBA Programs Help Students Get Sustainably Smart
The times of environmental programs being seen as niche offering at colleges are getting further and further away.
Net Impact's report is centered around extensive profiles of all 106 MBA programs, developed with input from the more than 2,500 students that are part of the Net Impact network. The report chronicles the rise of corporate social responsibility themes in MBA curricula, as more and more students go to business school to learn how to do well by doing good.
The profiles look at MBA programs and their social and environmental curricula, student activities, career services, alumni and administrative support. The 2011 edition include an additional 29 schools not covered in last year's report.
In the Sierra Club's Sierra magazine, the environmental group looks beyond green MBA programs to gauge how well schools are walking the walk, compiling information on their energy use, food options, class offerings, purchasing policies, waste handling and more.
The University of Washington takes the No. 1 spot on the strength of its environmental-focused department and programs as well as the fact that 90 percent of its energy is from hydropower.
The top 20 are:
University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
Green Mountain College (Poultney, Vt.)
University of California, San Diego (San Diego, Calif.)
Warren Wilson College (Asheville, N.C.)
Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, Calif.)
University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, Calif.)
University of California, Davis (Davis, Calif.)
Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.)
University of New Hampshire (Durham, N.H.)
Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.)
Colby College (Waterville, Maine)
Western Washington University (Bellingham, Wash.)
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, Calif.)
University of Connecticut (Storrs, Conn.)
Clark University (Worcester, Mass.)
Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.)
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine)
University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
Education for Sustainable Development
“This century may well be one of relearning on a grand scale across society…necessitating a metamorphosis of many of our current education and learning constructs” (Williams, 2004:4).
It was early 2001, and the publisher of the Schumacher Briefings and I were having a chat in his office about the title of the new education Briefing. I had just made a bid for ‘Sustainable Education’. His reply was along the lines: ‘surely, you mean “education for sustainable development”, or “education for sustainability” don’t you? Are you implying “education that lasts?” - it doesn’t make a lot of sense’.
‘No’, I said, ‘I don’t want to call it education ‘for’ anything, and yes, ‘Sustainable Education’ is exactly the title I want’. The reason I went for this title, is that I wanted it to provoke a little cognitive dissonance and the question: ‘what does that mean?’. I wanted people to move from ‘how do we educate for sustainable development’ towards deeper attention to education itself: its paradigms, policies, purposes and practices (these are linked of course) and its adequacy for the age we find ourselves in. In the Briefing, I define sustainable education as:
“a change of educational culture, one which develops and embodies the theory and practice of sustainability in a way which is critically aware. It is therefore a transformative paradigm which values, sustains and realises human potential in relation to the need to attain and sustain social, economic and ecological well being, recognising that they must be part of the same dynamic” (Sterling, 2001:22).
I came to this position through some 30 years of working in environmental and sustainability education – increasingly realising that sustainability logically necessitates a deep learning response in educational thinking and practice as it does in myriad other human activities, whether economics and business, design and construction, agriculture and energy, trade and aid, health and so on. Ever since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) education has been identified in international conferences, reports and agreements as key to addressing environment and development issues. Yet, over three decades later, most education still makes little or no reference to these issues. At the same time, sustainability issues are becoming ever more critical. It seems education is a slow learner! In fact, I would argue that formal education largely remains part of the problem of unsustainability. I acknowledge and greatly welcome the much higher profile that ‘education for sustainable development’ (ESD) has achieved in the last couple of years or so – bolstered significantly by the UN Decade of ESD – but this apparent progress may mask the deeper challenge, not least as ‘ESD’ hides an uncomfortable tension between accommodating and radical transformist approaches.
We need to recognise the underlying factors and ideas which still make most educational practice a servant of the past, and– importantly – articulate a persuasive and practicable alternative. As regards the first challenge, I would point to the continuing influence of reductionism, objectivism, materialism and dualism allied to an uncritical and growth-oriented consumerist culture. These ideas might not be consciously recognised by most practising educators, but they are no less powerful. They are part of the subterranean geology of education, invisible but reflected in the educational landscape above the surface: single disciplines, separate departments, abstract and bounded knowledge, belief in value-free knowing, privileging of cognitive/intellectual knowing over affective and practical knowing, transmissive pedagogy, analysis over synthesis, and so on.
As regards the second challenge, I argue that we need an educational culture and practice adequate and appropriate to the volatile, densely interconnected, and dangerously vulnerable world that we have created. Instead of educational thinking and practice that tacitly assumes that the future is some kind of linear extension of the past, we need what I call an anticipative education, recognising the new conditions and discontinuities which face present generations, let alone future ones: the massive challenges of global warming, species extinction, economic vulnerability, social fragmentation and migration, endemic poverty, the end of cheap energy, and more positively, the rise of localism, participative democracy, green purchasing, ethical business, and efforts to achieve a low carbon economy. The heart of such an education is an ecological orientation. Other descriptors which help capture this sense are ‘holistic’, ‘systemic’ and ‘participative’; they indicate a redesigned educational paradigm that is in essence relational, engaged, ethically oriented, and locally and globally relevant.
Mary Catherine Bateson suggests:
“Our machines, our value systems, our educational systems will all have to be informed by (the) switch, from the machine age when we tried to design schools to be like factories, to an ecological age, when we want to design schools, families and social institutions in terms of maintaining the quality of life, not just for our species, but for the whole planet” (Bateson, 1997:84).
Hence, the concept of ‘sustainable education’, a term which suggests not just a simple ‘add-on’ of sustainability concepts to some parts of the curriculum, but a cultural shift in the way we see education and learning. Rather than a piecemeal, bolt-on, fragmentary response which leaves the mainstream otherwise untouched, it implies systemic change in thinking and practice, informed by what can be called more ecological thinking and values – essentially a new paradigm emerging around the poles of holism, systemic thinking, sustainability and complexity. This offers the possibility of education that is appropriate and responsive to the new systemic conditions of uncertainty and complexity that are reflected in the headlines everyday; one that nurtures the increasingly important qualities of adaptability, creativity, self-reliance, hope and resilience in learners.
In writing the 2001 Briefing Sustainable Education, I tried to indicate why we need to critique the narrow instrumentalism and managerialism that has affected so much educational thinking and practice. I outlined the possibility of a unifying theory of education and learning which integrates the best of past liberal education practice with the newer emphases on transformative learning, capacity building, creativity and adaptive management that are considered part of the new sustainability agenda, and suggested steps to help achieve constructive change at all levels.
Sustainable education implies four descriptors: educational policy and practice which is sustaining, tenable, healthy and durable.
Sustaining: it helps sustain people, communities and ecosystems;
Tenable: it is ethically defensible, working with integrity, justice, respect and inclusiveness;
Healthy:it is itself a viable system, embodying and nurturing healthy relationships and emergence at different system levels;
Durable:it works well enough in practice to be able to keep doing it.
There is nothing particularly mysterious about this. In the nineties imposition of managerial and economist values on education, evidenced in the whole panoply of endless testing, inspection, precise learning outcomes, performance indicators, marketisation and so on, and in the disillusion and mounting stress levels that accompanied this drive, we were in danger of losing our sense of authentic education, of caring, of community, of engagement, of empowerment and meaningful purpose. Consequently, an ecological view implies putting relationship back into education and learning - seeking synergy and coherence between all aspects of education: ethos, curriculum, pedagogy, management, procurement and resource use, architecture and community links. The emphasis is on such values as respect, trust, participation, community, ownership, justice, participative democracy, openness, sufficiency, conservation, critical reflection, emergence and a sense of meaning: an education which is sustaining of people, livelihoods and ecologies.
Unfortunately, the term ‘sustainable education’, with a few welcome exceptions, has often been bundled in by writers as synonymous with ‘sustainability education’, ‘education for sustainability’ and ‘ESD’. These terms represent worthy developments but do not necessarily connote the need for deep change in educational values, assumptions and practices. In response to the crisis of unsustainability, most educators – and increasingly, politicians - will ask ‘what learning needs to take place amongst students?’. This is a perfectly valid and important question, but it begs a prior and deeper question: what changes, and what learning needs to take place amongst policymakers, amongst senior management, amongst teachers, lecturers, support staff, amongst parents, amongst employers, etc., so that education itself can be more transformative and appropriate to our times?
The first question stays within what learning theorists call first order change, that is, more of the same: change which doesn’t affect the system as a whole. But what if the system itself needs changing? This invokes at least second order change which involves a re-examination of assumptions - towards a shift of consciousness, a changed intelligence which is both connective and collective. This is a deeper and systemic learning response, which needs to happen in three areas: personal, organisational and the community (social learning beyond formal education). The most resistant area is change in the institution and organisation but this is being squeezed by growing awareness of individuals at one level; and evident shifts in social values and behaviours at the level of community and public debate.
Envisioning this change and taking realisable, practicable steps in our own working contexts is key. In essence, what we all are engaged in here is a critically important second order ‘learning about learning’ process; one which will directly affect the chances of a more sustainable future for all. As a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report points out (2002), just as we have learnt to live unsustainably, we now need to learn how to live sustainably. Such learning for respons-ibility requires educational systems, institutions and educators to develop response-ability – that is, the competence and will to address the considerable challenge and opportunity that sustainability presents. This is the context for any meaningful discussion about the role of education in the 21st century.