Category: Air


Determination and Applications of Environmental Costs at Different Sized Airports – Aircraft Noise and Engine Emissions

With the increasing trend of charging for externalities and the aim of encouraging the sustainable development of the air transport industry, there is a need to evaluate the social costs of these undesirable side effects, mainly aircraft noise and engine emissions, for different airports. The aircraft noise and engine emissions social costs are calculated in monetary terms for five different sized airports, ranging from hub airports to small regional airports. The number of residences within different levels of airport noise contours and the aircraft noise classifications are the main determinants for accessing aircraft noise social costs. The environmental impacts of aircraft engine emissions include both aircraft landing and take-off and 30-minute cruise. The social costs of aircraft emissions vary by engine type and aircraft category, depending on the damage caused by different engine pollutants on the human health, vegetation, materials, aquatic ecosystem and climate. The results indicate that the relationship appears to be curvilinear between environmental costs and the traffic volume of an airport. The results and methodology of environmental cost calculation could be applied to the proposed European wide harmonised noise charges as well as the social cost benefit analysis of airports.

Key words aircraft noise and engine emissions - airport operations - environmental costs

by Cherie Lu 1 and Peter Morrell 2
(1) Department of Aviation and Maritime Management, Chang June Christian University, 396 Chang Jung Rd. Sec. 1, Kway Jen, Tainan, 711, Taiwan
(2) Air Transport Group, College of Engineering, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 OAL, United Kingdom

Transportation via SpringerLink www.springerlink.com
ISSN: 0049-4488 (Paper) 1572-9435 (Online); DOI: 10.1007/s11116-005-2300-y
Volume 33, Number 1; January 2006; pages 45-61


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SWACO to sell pollution credits to city of Columbus

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), Grove City, Ohio, is planning to sell its available Sulfur Dioxide credits earned from its waste-to-energy facility to pay debts it owes to the city of Columbus. The credits have been sold to Morgan Stanley Capital Group, Inc. According to a press release issued by SWACO, the pollution credits were instituted as a part of the 1990 Clean Air Act to help prevent acid rain and encourage emission reduction among power plant owners. With the sale of credits, the city of Columbus will receive more than $10 million; however, SWACO will still owe more than $19 million for the facility, which was demolished in March 2005.

Waste Age http://wasteage.com

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Run a 4-wheeler at cost of running a scooter

If you own a car and are worried over spiralling rise in auto fuel, there is a way out. You can get out of those mounting fuel hike blues and bring down your fuel costs.

Now, you have an option to run a four-wheeler at the cost of running a scooter. This has been made possible by Maruti’s recently introduced five-seater Omni LPG.

In fact, Maruti Udyog Limited is the country’s first auto manufacturer, which offers authorised factory-fitted LPG kit — certified for quality and safety — in passenger car segment by launching Omni LPG. Hindustan Motors has also recently come out with an LPG version of Ambassador.


Environmental and Resource Economics: December 2005 Issue TOC

Editorial: Professor David W. Pearce pages 443-444
by Kerry Turner and Ian Bateman
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-4083-1

Declining Discount Rates: The Long and the Short of it pages 445-493
by Ben Groom, Cameron Hepburn, Phoebe Koundouri, and David Pearce
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-4681-y

Distribution Dynamics of CO2 Emissions pages 495-508
by Phu Nguyen Van
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-7687-6

Households’ Willingness to Pay for Water Service Attributes pages 509-531
by David Hensher, Nina Shore, and Kenneth Train
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-7686-7

Stochastic Dominance Analysis of Soil and Water Conservation in Subsistence Crop Production in the Eastern Ethiopian Highlands: The Case of the Hunde-Lafto Area pages 533-550
by Wagayehu Bekele
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-0069-2

Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Agriculture in the EU: A Spatial Assessment of Sources and Abatement Costs pages 551-583
by Stéphane De Cara, Martin Houzé, and Pierre-Alain Jayet
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-0071-8

Environmental and Resource Economics via SpringerLink www.springerlink.com
ISSN: 0924-6460 (Paper) 1573-1502 (Online)
Volume 32, Number 4; December 2005
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-4090-2

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04:16:00 am, Categories: General, Air, Contaminated Properties, Perc, TCE, 355 words   English (US)

Who Needs PCE?

Perchloroethylene (PCE) in dry cleaning is a poster child for the cause of finding alternatives to toxic chemicals in commerce, in today’s market-driven environment. As a society, if we can’t summon the collective will to solve the problem of implementing lower-risk fabric care products in place of PCE, we’re going to have real problems dealing with other widespread substances with health concerns, such as brominated fire retardants, phthalates or bisphenol-A.

Most stakeholders in the PCE “game” don’t really need it. People who use dry cleaning don’t “need” PCE; what they really need is convenient and affordable fabric care. Clothing manufacturers don’t “need” PCE, they need fabric care products that clean without damaging clothes. Dry cleaners “need” PCE, because many of them cannot afford the retrofits to use PCE alternatives and are afraid that customers, unwilling to risk their clothes on an “unproven” cleaning method, may start going to competitors.

Do chemical manufacturers “need” PCE? Available information suggests that current demand for PCE is around 300 million pounds per year, and is manufactured domestically in three facilities in the U.S. Government statistics report that approximately half of that used for dry cleaning, though a solvents industry statistic estimates that 12 percent is used for dry cleaning. A limited survey suggests that the cost for PCE is around one dollar per pound (or around ten dollars per gallon). Sources are here, here and here. The total annual value of PCE delivered to the dry cleaning industry (something less than $300 million?) would appear to be a small fraction of the total value of deliveries of all petrochemicals ($20.3 billion in 2002). This doesn’t include what users have to pay for emissions controls and waste management – but those aren’t things the chemical manufacturers have to worry about in determining the price for PCE. The point here is that chemical manufacturers might be able to manage without the PCE for dry cleaning market. The real challenges and costs are in helping dry cleaners convert from PCE.

posted by JLowe
FOR FULL POST GO TO: Impact Analysis: Adventures in Environmental Health

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Biofuels could give breathing space to carmakers

The European motor industry has been trying for years to wriggle out of a promise to examine ways to improve fuel efficiency to about 65 miles per gallon by 2012, warning that the engine advances needed would add thousands of pounds to the cost of a new car.

Now it appears to have succeeded in persuading the European Commission to shift at least some of the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on to the oil industry – a move that could push up fuel prices instead.

The provisional agreement of the Commission, through a top-level negotiating group known as CARS 21, will see oil companies told to increase the use of biofuels made from plants, in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“You get much higher reduction from biofuels than you would ever get from cars because of the effect on the existing cars already on the roads,” said one senior Commission official. “But the oil industry is making a lot of difficulties.”

Transport emissions are a vital element in Europe’s strategy for greenhouse gas reductions, as they make up about 30 per cent of the overall production of carbon dioxide. Biofuels are carbon-neutral because plants absorb carbon before being converted into fuel and releasing it again, and ordinary cars can run with up to 10 per cent biofuels mixed with petrol.

However, the oil industry believes the move could add significantly to the price of petrol and diesel, as biofuels are 60-70 euro cents a litre more expensive at present.

This will come down as mass production involving plants such as sunflowers or rapeseed gets under way, but it is not clear by how much.

The move is being fought by the oil majors, which argue that Günter Verheugen, enterprise and industry commissioner, is breaching his pledge to carry out cost/benefit studies before bringing in more red tape.

The battle is likely to be a long one. While the Commission is committed to the principle of sharing the cost of lowering carbon emissions between the troubled car industry and the highly profitable oil industry, it will not decide the split until after studies due in the spring.

The carmakers’ relief might be short-lived. The European Parliament will have to sign up to the deal too, and the environmental lobby is likely to increase pressure on MEPs if it sees the shift as an attempt by the motor industry to avoid expensive technical improvements.

The green movement is certain to be angered by the likelihood that the motor industry will miss its 2008 target for carbon reduction, the only formal goal currently in place. Manufacturers had signed up to a voluntary agreement to reduce carbon emissions to 140 grams per kilometre, a 25 per cent drop from 1995 levels, and it regularly warned that failure to reach the goal could lead to compulsory regulation of the fuel economy.

By James Mackintosh
The Financial Times http://news.ft.com

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10:47:25 pm, Categories: Air, Academic Study/Journal Article, Contingent Valuation, Surveys,.., 307 words   English (US)

Stated choice valuations of traffic related noise

This paper reports a novel application of the stated choice method to the valuation of road traffic noise. The innovative context used is that of choice between apartments with different levels of traffic noise, view, sunlight and cost with which respondents would be familiar. Stated choice models were developed on both perceived and objective measures of traffic noise, with the former statistically superior, and an extensive econometric analysis has been conducted to assess the nature and extent of householders’ heterogeneity of preferences for noise. This found that random taste variation is appreciable but also identified considerable systematic variation in valuations according to income level, household composition and exposure to noise. Self-selectivity is apparent, whereby those with higher marginal values of noise tend to live in quieter apartments. Sign and reference effects were apparent in the relationship between ratings and objective noise measures, presumably reflecting the non-linear nature of the latter. However, there was no strong support for sign, size or reference effects in the valuations of perceived noise levels.

Keywords: Stated choice; Environmental externality; Value of traffic noise; Computer aided personal interview; Discrete choice models; Mixed logit; Heterogeneity of preferences

Elisabete Arsenio 1, Abigail L. Bristow 2 and Mark Wardman 3
1. LNEC, Department of Transportation, Av. do Brasil 101, 1700-066 Lisbon, Portugal; Tel.: +44 113 233 5349; fax: +44 113 233 5334
2. Transport Studies Group, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK
3. Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 11, Issue 1; January 2006; pages 15-31

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20:08:42, Categories: Air, Government Report, Europe, Companies, 201 words   English (EU)

Emissions trading: Companies want longer-term certainty and predictability

The European Commission has released first highlights of a recent stakeholder consultation on the EU emissions trading scheme, which attracted over 300 responses. One of the main findings is that companies across sectors demand longer-term certainty and predictability about the scheme and in particular the allocation of emission allowances. The more certainty and lead-time they have, the easier it will be for them to invest in the right technologies for the future. The results of the consultation are feeding into an ongoing review of the emissions trading scheme. The scheme aims to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial and power plants.

The results show that the scheme is already influencing companies’ investment decisions. For half of the companies that responded, the scheme is one of the key issues when taking long-term decisions. Moreover, about half of the companies claim that the scheme has a strong or medium impact on decisions to develop innovative technology.

A paper with the highlights of the survey is available at:
European Commission Environment http://europa.eu.int

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12:00:01 am, Categories: General, Air, Energy, Companies, Academic Study/Journal Article, Massachusetts, 327 words   English (US)

Value of sustainability: perspectives of a chemical manufacturing site

The chemical, polymer and petrochemical process industries, which play a vital role in manufacturing and distributing various products for the global marketplace, have experienced significant economic and regulatory pressures in recent years. The cost of raw materials has steadily increased while selling prices and profit margins have eroded due to increased global competition. This has resulted in a need to implement new cost reduction measures such as decreased energy usage. At the same time, the chemical industry is working to minimize environmental discharges and manufacture ‘green’ products via ‘sustainable’ industrial processes. Sustainability is a critical issue for the chemical industry. Solutia and other chemical companies have been attempting to enhance the short and long term sustainability of their operations. This chapter presents an account of sustainability related activities at Solutia’s (and Monsanto prior to 1997) Indian Orchard (IO), MA, site. The Monsanto pledge is described along with examples of the impacts on IO’s operations, employees and community. Descriptions of Solutia’s metrics for environmental (i.e., eco-efficiency) and quality (i.e., asset effectiveness management) performance are presented. Two examples from actual operations at the IO site are provided together with some thoughts on their value and applicability towards enhancing sustainability. While the first example focuses on recovering and recycling raw materials (thus lowering the demand for fresh resources), the second example focuses on the benefits of adopting a “global” perspective to solving process challenges. Finally, current efforts at the site (including a plant wide energy utility assessment and thermodynamic footprint analysis) and some gaps in current sustainability practice are briefly described

by Gautham Parthasarathy, Roy Hart, Ed Jamro and Leland Miner all with Performance Products, Solutia Inc, 730 Worcester Street, Springfield, MA 01151, USA

Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy via SpringerLink www.springerlink.com
Publisher: Springer-Verlag GmbH
ISSN: 1618-954X (Paper) 1618-9558 (Online);
DOI: 10.1007/s10098-005-0278-y
Volume 7, Number 3; November 2005, pages: 219 - 229


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Battle Lines Set as New York Acts to Cut Emissions

New York is adopting California's ambitious new regulations aimed at cutting automotive emissions of global warming gases, touching off a battle over rules that would sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions while forcing the auto industry to make vehicles more energy efficient over the next decade.

The rules, passed this month by a unanimous vote of the State Environmental Board, are expected to be adopted across the Northeast and the West Coast. But the auto industry has already moved to block the rules in New York State, and plans to battle them in every other state that follows suit.

Environmentalists say the regulations will not lead to the extinction of any class of vehicle, but simply pressure the industry to sell more of the fuel-saving technologies they have already developed, including hybrid systems that use a combination of electricity and gasoline. And that, they say, will curtail one of the main contributors to global warming.

The standards are the most ambitious environmental regulations for automobiles since federal fuel economy regulations were enacted in the 1970's. They will be phased in starting with 2009 models and require a roughly 30 percent reduction in automotive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the 2016 models.

The new rules will also effectively require an improvement in fuel economy on the order of 40 percent for vehicles sold in the state.

New Yorkers will certainly notice the regulations should they survive the court challenges. The state estimates that the rules will increase the cost of a new car or truck by more than $1,000 when fully phased in, an amount it expects car owners to recoup over time through savings at the pump. Vehicles will need to comply with the new standards to be registered in the state.

An analysis by the State Department of Environmental Conservation said it would take one to five years for drivers of cars, smaller sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks to make up for the higher initial cost of their more fuel-efficient vehicles, assuming a gas price of $2 a gallon. For drivers of heavier S.U.V.'s and pickups, it would take one to three years.

But automakers estimate that the regulation will add about $3,000 to the cost of new cars and trucks and be hard to make up over time. To comply, they say, they will have to restrict sales of their vehicles with the poorest mileage, or redesign them to add new technologies, or to be more aerodynamic and lighter in weight.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Europe's pollution trade scheme faces tough times

Business is booming in Europe's new market for trading pollution credits but doubts remain about the scheme's long-term ability to punch its weight in the fight against global warming.

Europe's ground-breaking emissions trading scheme, launched in January to curb industry's carbon dioxide output and bring the bloc into line with Kyoto Protocol targets to cut heat-trapping gases, has survived a tough start to emerge as a new commodity market potentially worth billions of euros a year.

But challenges lie ahead: industry and energy consumers grumble about the costs of complying with the scheme, and the need to impose tougher CO2 limits in the future could strain the system even further.

"The scheme is an astounding achievement in policy terms," said Paul Ekins, head of the environment group at the independent Policy Studies Institute in London.

"But what happens in the future is still very unclear. Businesses have already said that this is making life very difficult for them," he said.

The future role of emissions trading will be high on the agenda at United Nations climate change talks, which start next week in Montreal, Canada.

The willingness of the United States and China, the world's top polluters, to embrace trading after 2012, when the first phase of Kyoto ends, could be crucial.

The United States, which has shunned the U.N.-backed Protocol, is backing the use of clean technology to tackle climate change, rather than market approaches like emissions trading.

Pockets of voluntary trading, not backed by enforced CO2 caps, have emerged in the United States and Japan but participation is limited.


Critics say Europe's scheme fails to give industry the long-term price signals needed to plan big investments in emissions-reducing technology.

"CO2 trading is very short-term, it has no effect on investment in technology or research and development," said Dieter Helm, Fellow in Economics at the University of Oxford.

European companies also say the cost of complying with the CO2 caps puts them at a disadvantage compared to foreign rivals who do not have to meet targets.

The caps should become even tougher in phase two of the scheme (2008-12), when the market must start delivering against Kyoto targets.

Under Kyoto, Europe is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Some European countries are a long way off target.

The European Commission took a hardline on CO2 caps for phase one, throwing back proposals which it deemed too lenient.

But its authority was shaken by a court ruling this month that Brussels must re-consider British government proposals to soften CO2 targets imposed on its industry.


Consumers say the scheme has already forced up bills as utilities companies have passed on the cost of complying.

Energy bills, already at record levels on the back of soaring oil prices, could go higher still if utilities are hit with stricter CO2 limits, analysts say.

"This is a real political issue. It is a potential threat to the integrity of the scheme," said Ekins.

In Montreal, delegates from around 190 countries are supposed to agree to start talks on taking the Kyoto Protocol forward beyond 2012. Some say the negotiations may last 5 years.

Criticism of Europe's emissions market has not stopped a sharp rise in trading volume since January. Dealers say allowances covering about a million tonnes often get traded in a day.

The market could be worth about 4 billion euros this year alone, according to research by Amsterdam-based consultants Prospex.

Power companies -- the worst polluter covered by the scheme -- are among the biggest traders as they switch in and out of positions in line with shifts in fuel costs. Investment banks have also entered the fray, boosting liquidity further.

"Volumes are rising," said Andrei Marcu, president and chief executive of the International Emissions Trading Association.

"The market approach to tackling climate change is certainly working -- it is changing the way companies do business."

At the same time, a parallel market for Kyoto credits earned by rich countries investing in climate-friendly projects in developing countries like China and India has also emerged.

Reuters via Yahoo News UK and Ireland http://uk.news.yahoo.com

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12:42:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Companies, Transportation, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 112 words   English (US)

Toyota's cumulative hybrid sales top 500,000 units

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) , the world's second-biggest auto maker, said on Friday cumulative sales of its hybrid vehicles reached 513,000 units worldwide at the end of last month.

Japan's top auto maker, which became the world's first to offer a gasoline-electric hybrid in 1997, has been leading the industry in promoting the fuel-efficient cars, aiming to sell 1 million units annually in the years shortly after 2010.

Demand has surged especially after Toyota introduced the remodelled Prius sedan powered by a second-generation hybrid system, which improved fuel economy and performance.

Reuters via Yahoo Finance http://yahoo.reuters.com

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Oil firm loses pollution suit: Jury awards $120 million to Blue Island residents

A Cook County jury has awarded $120.1 million to Blue Island residents and former high school students on whose behalf a lawsuit was filed 10 years ago against the Clark Oil refinery, claiming its pollutants created a nuisance and health problems.

The verdict, handed down Monday, awards compensatory and punitive damages to some 6,000 residents who lived near the refinery from 1993 until it closed in January 2001.

The jury also awarded $100,000 to about 1,200 former students and staff from nearby Eisenhower High School affected by pollutants discharged from the plant in 1994. The discharge caused four dozen students to go to the hospital complaining of dizziness and breathing discomfort.

Monday's verdict stemmed from the suit filed initially by attorneys for Priscilla Rosolowski, an Eisenhower student, and more than two dozen other students and nearby residents. They claimed the release in October 1994 of nearly 10 tons of airborne grit after a power failure at the refinery temporarily affected their health.

The lawsuit evolved into a class-action suit involving three classes of plaintiffs: the Eisenhower students and faculty; parents of students affected by the 1994 incident; and the 6,000 households in an area between Kedzie and Hoyne Avenues from 119th to 135th Street. The latter contended the plant interfered with their rights to use and enjoy their property from October 1993 until it closed.

In the case of the parents, who were suing to recover costs they claimed to have incurred for their children's medical care, the jury ruled in favor of Premcor, Pohl said. Premcor argued it had adequately reimbursed the parents at the time of the incident.

The refinery had a long history of environmental troubles. Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan sued Premcor last year seeking to force it to clean up soil and groundwater contaminants remaining on the site. That suit listed 64 incidents between 1992 and 2001 in which the refinery leaked gasoline, oil or dye into the ground.

By Stanley Ziemba and Tonya Maxwell

Chicago Tribune www.chicagotribune.com

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Affordable Housing Goes 'Green'

It's an inside-out apartment house: The boiler is on the top floor, the insulation is outside the concrete walls, and the garden's going to be on the roof.

On New York's Lower East Side, this brick apartment house — still under construction — is one of a number of environmentally conscious and energy-efficient building projects.

It's also one of the more tangible manifestations of a trend taking off in cities across the country: the merging of affordable housing and "green" building. City officials and others are recognizing that energy-efficient buildings, while they may cost a bit more to build, are far more affordable than traditional housing in the truest sense of the word. They cost less to operate and live in, and they provide tenants with a healthier atmosphere that can save on healthcare costs.

This fall, when reviewing certain grant proposals, New York City will start giving developers who want to build affordable housing "extra points" if builders pledge to incorporate green building principles. At the same time, Chicago is offering housing developers and apartment-building owners incentives if they build "green roofs," which are essentially roof gardens that help both insulate buildings better and improve overall air quality. And in Los Angeles, city officials have incorporated green standards into parts of the city's building code.

In the past year, the Enterprise Foundation, a leading provider of capital and expertise for the development of affordable housing, has helped start 77 green developments in 21 states, which will create more than 4,300 environmentally efficient homes for low-income families.

"If you just take the 4,300 homes in the pipeline right now, each year we will have $1.5 million of energy savings in those homes, more than 5,000 tons of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions per year, and 30 million gallons of reduced water use a year," says Bart Harvey, CEO of the Enterprise Foundation.

by Alexandra Marks

FOR FULL STORY GO TO: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1122/p03s03-ussc.html
Christian Science Monitor www.csmonitor.com

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Economic Benefit from Lifelong Methadone Treatment

A new study conducted by researchers at RTI International estimates that methadone treatment for heroin users generates seven times more economic benefits than previously thought.

The study, which appears in the November issue of Health Economics, is the first to present lifetime estimates of the costs and benefits associated with drug use and its treatment. The research was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

While previous studies have examined the benefits and costs of drug treatment, they have typically focused on a single treatment episode, implicitly treating drug abuse as an acute problem that can be cured in one episode.

When viewed as a chronic condition, research on heroin users shows that the benefits of treatment and the societal savings are even more significant.

To reach that goal, the RTI research team which included Zarkin, Laura Dunlap and Katherine Hicks, designed an innovative simulation model to represent the progression of individuals from 18 to 60 years of age with respect to their heroin use, treatment for heroin use, criminal behavior, employment and health care use.

Results of the study showed that increasing heroin users’ access to treatment significantly increases societal benefits and costs. By receiving effective treatment, people’s propensity to use drugs is changed, which in turn increases their employment opportunities and lessens their likelihood to commit future crimes and seek health care.

The research suggests that treatment for heroin users yields $38 in economic benefits for each dollar spent on treatment, which is seven times greater than previous studies.

“Lifetime models give a much more accurate picture of both the costs and benefits of treating chronic conditions,” Zarkin said. “Our results further strengthen the case for the value of drug abuse treatment.”

Newswise www.newswise.com

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Philippines toughening air pollution standards

The Philippines is revising its air quality standards to put it on par with most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, adopting stricter controls to clean its air and bring down health costs, the environment ministry said on Tuesday.

Manila's skies are among the most polluted in the world, surpassed only by Mexico City, Shanghai and New Delhi, the
World Health Organization (WHO) said this week, citing diesel emissions from public transport vehicles as a major part of the problem.

"The air in Metro Manila is still dirty but significantly improving," Ramon Paje, an undersecretary at the environment department, told reporters. "But we hope to meet the national standard by 2010."

Since 2000, a year after a clean air law was passed, the country has been using Euro 1 standards as a benchmark to gauge the cleanliness of the air in the sprawling capital of 12 million and four surrounding provinces.

"We're slowly moving to the Euro 2 standard and will probably hit the highest level at Euro 4 by 2010," Cesar Siador, head of air quality management at the environment department, told Reuters.

Siador said the department had been in close consultation with other government agencies and the private sector to revise the air pollution standards, matching the benchmarks used in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

For instance, permitted emissions from motorcycles will be lowered to 4,500 parts per million (ppm) from 7,800 ppm by next year and cut further to 3,000 ppm by 2007.

For vehicles using unleaded gasoline, the carbon monoxide level was being reduced to 3.5 percent and hydrocardon content to 600 ppm, based on Euro 1 standards.

The environment department was also seeking assistance from the United States to acquire a radar system for Manila's streets to catch smoke-belching vehicles, a method deemed more effective than the current practice of roadside arrests.

Siador said car manufacturers would be encouraged to start selling engines that pass the stringent Euro 2 to Euro 4 levels by 2006 as part of efforts to reduce emissions.

Paje said 70 to 80 percent of air pollution in the Philippines was caused by vehicle emissions. The remaining 20 to 30 percent was caused by factories, construction work and burning of garbage.

Citing studies by the health department, Paje said there was a direct relationship between the rise of respiratory diseases in Manila and the poor quality of air, making transport workers more vulnerable to respiratory diseases such as asthma and sinusitis.

"About 65 percent of drugs purchased by the health department every year were for treatment for respiratory diseases," he said, adding a
World Bank study in 2004 showed health costs from air pollution had reached about $400 million per year.

Reuters via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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With Plant, TI Goes for the Green

Paul Westbrook did an excellent job in building his energy-efficient home of 2,700 square feet.

His reward: He helped persuade his employer Texas Instruments Inc. to use a similar approach in designing a plant with 1.1 million square feet.

By the end of March, TI will be ready to move into its plant at the corner of Alma and Renner roads in Richardson, with the satisfaction of knowing that it did just about everything it could to make the plant use less water and energy and to be nicer to the planet.

TI broke ground on the Richardson fabrication plant a year ago Friday. The RFAB, as it's come to be know, will manufacture wafers used in making semiconductors.

Long before construction began, TI officials had spent considerable time looking at ways to cut the project's lifetime expenses, not the initial expense of building the facility.

"As in about any construction project, 'first cost' is usually king," Mr. Westbrook said recently, sitting in one of the many construction trailers at the site.

"But with these fab plants, over the life of the facility, utility costs can actually add up to exceed the first costs. We set out to go do something about that," said Mr. Westbrook, TI's sustainable development manager for semiconductor manufacturing.

The plant's smarter design is expected to reduce utility costs by 20 percent and cut water usage by 35 percent. Construction costs per square foot ran about a third less than for a comparable TI facility built in the 1990s.

The 92-acre complex includes a number of common features to reduce the environmental impact. It has a pond for irrigation. Solar panels help heat water. Energy-saving lighting abounds.

But the design uses countless little touches that, in the aggregate, will also save a lot of energy and water and will often make the buildings more pleasant for employees.

Ledges outside the administration building shade the windows, and light ledges inside the building will protect workers closest to the windows and bounce sunlight far into the interior for others.

Little turbines in bathroom drains will power the electric eyes that turn sink faucets on and off. Special urinals stay odor-free without flushing, saving a gallon of water on every usage. A windmill will aerate the pond by pumping in air bubbles.

It adds up to considerable savings -- important for any facility, and crucial in a $3 billion site that TI expects to use for many years. It also makes it likely that the TI facility will win a coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council has developed a points system to measure the many ways that a building project can incorporate smart ideas into its design, from erosion control during construction, to use of recycled materials, to features to reduce energy costs and water usage after it goes into use.

TI is shooting for a "silver" designation for the manufacturing plant and a "gold" designation for the three-story administration building.

Only a handful of Texas buildings have earned LEED certification. SMU is hoping to get a gold LEED certification for its new engineering building, which is under construction.

For Mr. Westbrook and others working on the design, the most important part was to get higher-ups to buy into the concept of a top-to-bottom design that looked at every feasible way to be environmentally friendly.

A big catalyst was a 2003 visit by three TI vice presidents to Mr. Westbrook's home in Fairview.

The house, built in 1996, has a heat-pump system that has its pipes buried in the ground; solar panels to heat water; recycled plastic in its carpets and decking; and rainwater tanks for irrigation.

But what impressed them most were his utility bills -- $69 a month on average, with the highest ever only about $100.

The biggest savings came in water and energy usage, a big issue for such a large plant and for the fab tools, which typically use 2 to 3 million gallons of water a day.

A certain portion of the water brought into the plant is rejected because it has too many impurities to manufacture wafers, but it's fine as a coolant.

Pablo Ruiz, a TI facilities mechanical engineer who worked on the water system's design, said the new plant will use that water in cooling towers.

"Even in the hottest part of the year, we think we'll be able to supply the majority of the water to cooling tower from the [rejected water], and not require any water from the city," he said.

Water-saving ideas like that didn't really count to improve TI's LEED score, Mr. Westbrook said, "but holy cow, they reduced our water usage by about a third."

TI was able to reduce the amount of air inside the plant that was sent outside, and thereby reduced the amount of hot or cold air outside that had to be cleaned and conditioned to the 70 to 72 degrees and 45 percent humidity required inside the plant.

Roofs use a white reflective coating to reduce heat. Mr. Westbrook said he measured the roof at a nearby TI facility at 140 degrees on a hot July day; the comparable reading on the new plant was 118 degrees.

To improve the environment, exterior lights will point down, and parking lots will have a cooler reflective surface rather than the usual gray concrete or black asphalt, which heat up the area. TI will plant wildflowers or drought-resistant plants in much of the green areas.

Like TI, SMU began the design of its J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building with an eye toward LEED certification. Engineering school dean Geoffrey Orsak said the impetus wasn't the environmental movement.

"It's actually a pretty simple story," Mr. Orsak said. "We're engineers, and engineers have a philosophy on good design. It was just so philosophically aligned with everything we believe in -- good, smart design and construction practices."

The green-building features will add perhaps 2 or 3 percent to the $16 million price tag, but SMU may see energy savings of 20 percent to 30 percent, with its more human-friendly design expected to increase performance and reduce sickness, Mr. Orsak said.

By Terry Maxon,
FOR FULL STORY GO TO: http://www.dallasnews.com
The Dallas Morning News www.dallasnews.com

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The impact of a stimulus to energy efficiency on the economy and the environment: A regional computable general equilibrium analysis

Sustainable development is a key objective of UK national and regional policies. Improvements in resource productivity have been suggested as both a measure of progress towards sustainable development and as a means of achieving sustainability. Making ‘more with less’ intuitively seems to be good for the environment, and this is the presumption of current UK policy. However, in a system-wide context, improvements in energy efficiency lower the cost of energy in efficiency units and may even stimulate the consumption and production of energy measured in physical units, and increase pollution. Simulations of a computable general equilibrium model of Scotland suggest that an across the board stimulus to energy efficiency there would actually stimulate energy production and consumption and lead to a deterioration in environmental indicators. The implication is that policies directed at stimulating energy efficiency are not, in themselves, sufficient to secure environmental improvements: this may require the use of complementary energy policies designed to moderate incentives to increased energy consumption.

Keywords: Resource productivity; Energy efficiency; Regional computable general equilibrium; Environmental indicators

by Nick D. Hanley 1, Peter G. McGregor 2, J. Kim Swales 2, and Karen Turner 3
1. Department of Economics, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; Tel.: +44 141 548 3966; fax: +44 141 548 4445
2. Fraser of Allander Institute, CPPR and Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, Sir William Duncan Building, 130 Rottenrow, Glasgow G4 0GE, UK
3. Fraser of Allander Institute and Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, Sir William Duncan Building, 130 Rottenrow, Glasgow G4 0GE, UK

Renewable Energy via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 31, Issue 2; February 2006, pages 161-171
Marine Energy

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Cost-effectiveness of renewable electricity policies

Karen Palmer and Dallas Burtraw analyze policies to promote renewable sources of electricity. A portfolio standard (RPS) raises electricity prices and primarily reduces gas-fired generation. A knee of the cost curve exists between 15% and 20% goals for 2020 in our central case, and higher natural gas prices lower the cost of greater reliance on renewables. A renewable energy production tax credit lowers electricity price at the expense of taxpayers, which limits its effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions, and it is less cost-effective at increasing renewables than a portfolio standard. Neither policy is as cost-effective as a cap-and-trade policy for achieving carbon emission reductions.

Keywords: Renewable energy; Electricity; Renewable portfolio standard; Carbon dioxide
JEL classification: Q42; Q48; Q54

by Karen Palmer and Dallas Burtraw; Resources for the Future, 1616 P Street, NW Washington, DC 20036, USA; Tel.: +1 202 328 5106; fax: +1 202 939 3460.

Energy Economics via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 27, Issue 6; November 2005; pages 873-894

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Closing the youth access gap: The projected health benefits and cost savings of a national policy to raise the legal smoking age to 21 in the United States

Current youth access laws, even if strictly enforced, do not prevent teenagers from obtaining cigarettes through social sources. To reduce the number of legal buyers a typical teenager routinely encounters, and to lessen ambiguity for vendors determining if a teen is of legal purchasing age, legislation raising the minimum legal purchase age (MLPA) for cigarettes to 21 has been discussed in several states. To estimate how a national law raising the smoking age to 21 would impact smoking prevalence, net costs (in terms of compliance enforcement, ID checking, and medical care) and health benefits (in terms of life years and QALYs) to the population over time, a dynamic computer simulation model was developed using publicly available secondary data. The model simulations were carried out for several scenarios assuming varying impacts of the policy change on smoking initiation probability over a 50-year period. One scenario assumes that smoking initiation probabilities for individuals under 21 shift by 3 years so a 18-year old in the simulation, for example, is as likely to initiate smoking as an 15-year old in the status quo. Under this assumption, raising the smoking age would reduce smoking prevalence for adults (age 18+) from the status quo level of 22.1–15.4% after 50 years. Prevalence would drop from 20 to 6.6% for 14–17-year olds, from 26.9 to 12.2% for 18–20-year olds, and from 21.8 to 15.5% for the 21+ group. The policy would produce a net cumulative savings to society of US$ 212 billion (driven by reduced medical costs), and the accumulation of nearly 13 million additional QALYs over the period.

Keywords: Adolescent smoking; Prevention; Tobacco-sales laws; Youth access laws; Smoking uptake; Enforcement; Policies; System dynamics

by Sajjad Ahmad; Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146-0630, USA; Tel.: +1 305 284 3457; fax: +1 305 284 3492.

Health Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 75, Issue 1; December 2005, pages 74-84

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Least cost SO2 emission minimization for a petroleum refinery by optimum use of source reduction, tail gas treatment and flue gas desulphurization

With the growing awareness on the necessity to preserve the environment, pollution standards are turning more stringent and minimization of waste at the source has become the first choice option rather than the end-of-pipe treatment. The objective of the present research is to identify the optimum combination of source reduction (SR), tail gas treatment (TGT) and flue gas desulphurization (FGD) to minimize the total cost of overall SO2 emission from a petroleum refinery to various desired limits. It has been found that for the typical refinery considered, the TGT is the lowest cost option than either SR or FGD; however, only a maximum of ~12.5% reduction is achievable through the TGT. After full utilization of TGT, for the next range of SO2 emission reductions from ~12.5% to ~64%, the SR is more economical than FGD. For a still stringent SO2 emission limit, i.e. SO2 emission reduction higher than ~64%, the full utilization of the TGT and the optimum use of SR and FGD are the best options.

Keywords Air pollution - Environment - Petroleum refinery - Sulphur dioxide emission control - Source reduction - Flue gas desulphurization - Tail gas treatment

by A. K. Dikshit 1, Amit Dutta 2, and S. Ray 3
(1) Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, 400076, India; Phone: +91-22-25767862, Fax: +91-22-25764650
(2) Department of Civil Engineering, Bengal Engineering College, Howrah, 711103, India
(3) Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, 721302, India

Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy via SprinkerLink www.springerlink.com
Publisher: Springer-Verlag GmbH
ISSN: 1618-954X (Paper) 1618-9558 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s10098-004-0265-8
Volume 7, Number 3; November 2005; pages 182 - 189

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Green buildings can save green: Lower operating costs offset higher construction expenses

A trip to the men's room at Liberty Property Trust Inc.'s newly remodeled office building provides a noticeable clue as to how the building earned the "green" label for structures built to conserve resources and reduce environmental impacts.

The urinals don't flush.

"It's an easy way to reduce your water usage," explains John DiVall, Liberty's vice president for the Milwaukee area, during a tour of the building, at 245 S. Executive Drive.

Instead of water, the urinals use biodegradable filters to keep the restrooms from smelling like Madison's State St. on the morning after Halloween. They're among dozens of features - including recycled construction materials, a greater use of natural light, and grassy patches in the parking lot to reduce storm water runoff - that help Liberty rank among the nation's largest owners of green buildings, a movement that's breaking into the mainstream from its environmental fringe roots.

A green building typically costs 2% to 3% more than one built with conventional construction, said Bill Hankowsky, chairman and chief executive officer of Liberty, which owns office and industrial buildings in southeastern Wisconsin totaling 1.8 million square feet.

But green buildings are cheaper to operate because they save money on energy and water costs, said Hankowsky, whose company, based in Malvern, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, operates 63 million square feet of commercial space throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

Along with saving money, Liberty uses green features to attract tenants.

"In a little bit of a soft market, it'll help us differentiate our products," DiVall said.

That's especially important on Executive Drive, which features several office buildings developed in the '70s and early '80s. Some are finding it harder to compete with newer buildings in Brookfield and other Waukesha County communities. DiVall estimated the current office vacancy rate on Executive Drive at 20%, compared with around 14% for the entire Milwaukee area.

The "greening of the White House" created $300,000 in annual savings, according to the council, and led to similar projects at other federal government facilities.

LEED-certified buildings in Wisconsin include the Dorothy K. Vallier Environmental Learning Center at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Bayside; Harley-Davidson Inc.'s Willie G. Davidson Product Development Center expansion, Wauwatosa; Johnson Controls Inc.'s Brengel Technology Center, Milwaukee; Johnson Diversey Inc.'s headquarters, Sturtevant; Affiliated Engineers Inc.'s corporate headquarters, Madison; and construction firm Boldt Co.'s Wisconsin River Valley office, Stevens Point.

Liberty remodeled its Executive Drive building after the largest tenant, CNA Insurance Co., relocated last year. That left the 60,000-square-foot building, built in 1982, with a 45,000-square-foot vacancy.

Despite the big gap, Liberty added space, converting a first-floor parking garage into offices, and boosting the building's size to 72,000 square feet. The project included converting a dark, cramped entry way into a bright, spacious lobby, DiVall said.

Liberty also decided to go green. As a result, the $1.7 million remodeling tab is about 3% to 3.5% higher than originally estimated.

The green touches include chopping down some crab apple trees, which were blocking natural light from the building's windows. In the spirit of conservation, the trees were run through chippers and the mulch used for the building's landscaping.

Another outdoor feature was the $10,000 replacement of water sprayers with an underground drip irrigation system, which waters grass, shrubs and trees at their roots. Traditional sprayers use a lot more water, DiVall said, because so much is lost through evaporation.

"That wasn't cheap," DiVall admits. "I was hemming and hawing."
Saving water, money

But the drip system, combined with the urinals and new toilets that use less water, will cut the building's annual water use by around 40%, or roughly 500,000 gallons, he said.

The renovations, which will be finished by January, relied heavily on recycled materials, including brick from the old exterior façade that was rebuilt into a lobby wall. Ceiling tiles were removed, shredded and provided to a vendor that will recycle the materials into new ceiling tiles, and old bathroom fixtures were donated to a local non-profit group.

Some features didn't add costs, but required additional planning for Liberty, its general contractor, Berghammer Construction Corp., Butler, and its architect, Stephen Perry Smith Architects Inc., Menomonee Falls.

Parking spaces close to the building's entrances are reserved for people driving gas-sipping hybrid cars; a portion of the building's electricity is being supplied by wind power, and special consideration is given to buying materials, such as Wisconsin cherry wood, from local and regional suppliers in order to save energy on shipping.

Meanwhile, Liberty in October began developing another green building, a $5.5 million, 29,300-square-foot area office for the Department of Defense. It's being built at Liberty at Park Place, a Milwaukee business park east of U.S. Highway 45 and north of W. Good Hope Road. The costs of that project will be about 2% higher because of green practices, DiVall said.

Outside of Wisconsin, Liberty has 11 other green buildings, Hankowsky said, including the 57-story Comcast Center, which will be Philadelphia's tallest skyscraper when completed in 2007. Hankowsky and DiVall said the green projects contribute to the bottom line for Liberty, a publicly traded real estate investment trust.

"We're not just doing it to be good guys," DiVall said.

FOR FULL STORY GO TO: http://www.jsonline.com/bym/news/nov05/371764.asp
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel www.jsonline.com

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Resource and Energy Economics November 2005 Issue Table of Contents

When to drill? Trigger prices for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pages 273-286
by Jon M. Conrad and Koji Kotani

The social net benefit of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been a contentious policy issue since 1998. This paper applies real option theory to the issue and asks “What price for crude oil would justify the investment in field development and the loss of an amenity (wilderness) dividend?” Trigger prices are identified for two stochastic processes; when crude oil prices evolve according to geometric Brownian motion (GBM) and when crude oil prices are mean-reverting (M-R).

Waste, recycling, and “Design for Environment”: Roles for markets and policy instruments, pages 287-305
by Paul Calcott and Margaret Walls

Households sometimes have two recycling options. Curbside recycling collections are convenient, but do not provide payment. Alternatively, payment might be available from ‘reverse vending machines’ or drop-off centers, but some transaction costs would be incurred. Paul Calcott and Margaret Walls examine policies to encourage efficient product design and recycling in a setting with these two recycling options plus the option of putting recyclables in the trash. The authors find value in having two parallel recycling options. Constrained optimal outcomes can be attained by combining a ‘deposit–refund’ with a modest disposal fee. Furthermore, producers should not be permitted to keep deposits, that are not claimed by consumers.

Deregulation in an energy market and its impact on R and D for low-carbon energy technology, pages 306-320
by Minoru Nakada

This paper analyzes the impact of deregulation in an energy market on R and D activities for new energy technology when climate policy is implemented. A model of growth with vertical innovation is modified by including an oligopolistic energy supply sector for demonstrating to what extent deregulation in the energy supply sector will affect R and D activities for low-carbon energy technology, provided that carbon taxation is implemented. The analysis shows that, when the elasticity of substitution between input factors is less than unity, deregulation will drive energy R and D activities and reduce CO2 accumulation if the energy market is highly concentrated in the beginning.

What motivates membership in non-renewable resource cartels?: The case of OPEC, pages 321-342
by Charles F. Mason and Stephen Polasky

In this paper, Charles F. Mason and Stephen Polasky analyze the question of membership in a non-renewable resource cartel, with specific application to OPEC. One would expect the benefits of cartel membership to be positively related to the size of remaining reserves, while domestic petroleum consumption should be negatively related to membership if countries care about consumer interests. Theirr econometric analysis indicates that larger reserves and lower consumption are positively associated with OPEC membership. On the other hand, membership does not appear to be systematically related to countries’ religious makeup. Their regressions correctly predict membership for the vast majority of oil-producing countries.

Does uncertainty justify intensity emission caps?, pages 343-353
by Philippe Quirion

Environmental policies often set “relative” or “intensity” emission caps, i.e. emission limits proportional to the polluting firm's output. One of the arguments put forth in favour of relative caps is based on the uncertainty on business-as-usual output: if the firm's production level is higher than expected, so will be business-as-usual emissions, hence reaching a given level of emissions will be more costly than expected. As a consequence, it is argued, a higher emission level should be allowed if the production level is more important than expected. Philippe Quirion assesses this argument with a stochastic analytical model featuring two random variables: the business-as-usual emission level, proportional to output, and the slope of the marginal abatement cost curve. The author compares the relative cap to an absolute cap and to a price instrument, in terms of welfare impact. It turns out that in most plausible cases, either a price instrument or an absolute cap yields a higher expected welfare than a relative cap. Quantitatively, the difference in expected welfare is typically very small between the absolute and the relative cap but may be significant between the relative cap and the price instrument.

Resource and Energy Economics via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 27, Issue 4, Pages 273-356 (November 2005)

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08:33:28 pm, Categories: Air, Legal, U.K., Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 344 words   English (US)

Businessman is fined after two deaths from bug

A SOUTHPORT businessman was ordered to pay £10,000 after he installed a contaminated humidifier that killed two people, a court heard.

Kevin Kempen, 49, of Curzon Road, Southport, escaped manslaughter charges but was found guilty of two health and safety breaches after a humidifier he fitted at Cardiff's Copthorne Hotel was found to be riddled with Legionnaires' disease.

Guests Philip Roberts and Linda Johnson, both from South Wales, died from the Benidorm strain of the disease after dining at the hotel during the festive period of 1999-2000. Two more visitors also became ill.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how the £32,000 equipment, incorrectly installed in a buffet unit, sprayed food in a fine mist intended to keep it fresh but instead infected the hotel dining room with the disease.

Kempen, managing director of Skelmersdale-based firm Link Unit (Engineers), admitted failure to educate himself on the procedures for avoiding Legion-naires' disease and was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £2,500 prosecution costs.

Kempen and two of his employees, Mark Perry, 39, contracts and site manager, and Frederick Jones, 56, a self-employed contractor, were cleared of manslaughter charges during a trial in May of this year when the prosecution withdrew their case.

Justice Christopher Pitchford said: "The seriousness of this case was the absence of any reasonable steps to be aware of the risk of Legionnaires' disease..

"The equipment was perfectly safe if properly installed. But the installers never spelled out the risks."

He also fined the Copthorne Hotel £40,000 and ordered it to pay £15,000 in prosecution costs. The hotel's freelance health and safety consultant, Christopher Purslow, admitted one health and safety offence and was fined £4,000.

Speaking after the case, Philip Robert's widow, Irene, said, "I am not satisfied with the out-come of the court case and would like to ask for a public inquiry into the way the Out-break Team and in particular, the Environmental Health Department, acted over the out-break of Legionnaires' disease at the Copthorne Hotel."

icSeftonandWestlanc http://icseftonandwestlancs.icnetwork.co.uk/icsouthport

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08:37:01 pm, Categories: Air, Academic Study/Journal Article, Contingent Valuation, Surveys,.., 264 words   English (US)

Detecting Starting Point Bias in Dichotomous-Choice Contingent Valuation Surveys

Marcella Veronesi, Anna Alberini, and Joseph C. Cooper examine starting point bias in CV surveys with dichotomous choice payment questions and follow-ups, and double-bounded models of the WTP responses. The authors wish to investigate (1) the seriousness of the biases for the location and scale parameters of WTP in the presence of starting point bias; (2) whether or not these biases depend on the distribution of WTP and on the bids used; and (3) how well a commonly used diagnostic for starting point bias—a test of the null that bid set dummies entered in the right-hand side of the WTP model are jointly equal to zero—performs under various circumstances. Because starting point bias cannot be separately identified in any reliable manner from biases caused by model specification, they use simulation approaches to address this issue. Our Monte Carlo simulations suggest that the effect of ignoring starting point bias is complex and depends on the true distribution of WTP. Bid set dummies tend to soak up misspecifications in the distribution assumed by the researcher for the latent WTP, rather than capturing the presence of starting point bias. Their power in detecting starting point bias is low.

JEL Classification: Q51
Keywords: Anchoring, Dichotomous choice contingent valuation, Starting point bias, Double-bounded models, Estimation bias

By Marcella Veronesi 1, Anna Alberini 2, and Joseph C. Cooper 3

1. University of Maryland, 2200 Symons Hall, College Park, USA
Phone: +1 301 455 9373, Fax: +1 301 314 9091
2. University of Maryland and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei
3. Economic Research Service

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) www.feem.it
Working Paper 119.05 Series: SIEV

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Hybrid Cabs Debut in New York

Hybrid taxis that get double the gas mileage of traditional cabs and generate far less pollution have begun rolling in small numbers on New York's streets.

Delighted environmentalists, city officials and the chairman of Ford Motor Co. posed with the owner of the first hybrid cabs atop a Manhattan auto showroom Thursday to belatedly celebrate last week's quiet debut of the vehicles.

For now, there are only six of the bright yellow Ford Escapes in the city's vast taxi fleet, but owner Gene Freidman said he planned to have 18 on the street by Thanksgiving.

The small SUVs run on a combination of gas and electricity and generally emit no exhaust when they are moving slower than 25 mph. They drive the same as regular cabs and never have to be recharged, but passengers will notice some differences.

The Escape has less leg room and a narrower back seat bench than the big Ford Crown Victorias that make up the bulk of the city's fleet. Some cabbies may also balk at the lack of a security barrier between the front and back seats. There wasn't enough room, officials said, to include the partitions.

Drivers, however, might be willing to risk lessened security in exchange for lower fuel costs.

Cabbie Gennadiy Abramov, who was on hand for Thursday's rollout, said he has saved an average of $20 per shift since he started driving a hybrid.

Over time, those savings could mean thousands of extra dollars per year for cabbies, most of whom pay for gas out of their own pockets.

Whether or not the vehicles proliferate, however, may depend most on whether the owners of the city's cab fleets can find some long-run financial benefit to justify their extra cost.

Freidman, who operates a fleet of about 650 cabs, said he only got interested after the city offered a chance to buy new taxi medallions for alternative-fuel vehicles at a deep discount.

Under the deal, Freidman and two business partners purchased 18 of the licenses at a savings of about $170,000 each — more than enough to offset the extra $5,000 to $6,000 cost of buying a hybrid.
On the Net: New York Taxi and Limousine Commission: http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/home/home.shtml

Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, U.S., Academic Study/Journal Article, Regulatory Analysis, 739 words   English (US)

Research: In environmental policy, we get what we pay for

As with most things in life, cheaper doesn't mean better---and that's especially true when setting environmental cleanup policy.

New research from the University of Michigan shows that the trend toward market-based incentives to control pollution lowers the costs of pollution abatement for businesses, but may not achieve environmental goals. In some cases, said U-M researcher Gloria Helfand, market incentives actually make pollution problems worse.

"The Case for Markets Versus Standards for Pollution Policy," co-authored by Helfand, an associate professor of environmental economics at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment, and Peter Berck of the University of California at Berkeley, will appear later this month in the Natural Resource Journal. Examples of market-based incentive are pollution taxes, subsidies for abatement and marketable emissions permits. The other approach is to set standards, which simply sets a cap that cannot be exceeded. This is also called the command and control approach.

Market-based incentives have become more popular as a cost-effective way to cut pollution over inflexible environmental standards or pollution caps, but until now little analysis has been done on existing data to determine the effectiveness of the market approach, Helfand said. Businesses like them because they're less expensive and more flexible.

The findings, Helfand said, should serve as a warning to policy makers against assuming that market based incentives are the best solution. Rather, she said, market incentives should be chosen as policy on a case-by-case basis, because sometimes setting standards will better achieve environmental goals.

Researchers found that market-based incentives work well in areas with localized pollution where it doesn't matter who does the polluting. For instance, if the goal is to lower air pollution in a small area, it doesn't matter which polluter abates as long as the overall emissions are reduced. However, if the issue is about dumping in a river, then the pollution source does matter because some areas of the river could become much more damaged by heavy polluting than others.

"As long as you limit pollution it doesn't matter who cleans it up," Helfand said. "The big advantage in that situation is that it encourages more pollution reduction from sources where it's cheap to clean up, and it cuts slack for sources when it's very expensive to reduce pollution."

One example is the 1990 acid rain program, which combined a market-based approach with an overall emission cap of 50 percent. Companies who achieved cleanup inexpensively could sell so-called emission allowances to those who found cleanup cost prohibitive.

However, problems could arise if companies in one area---say the Midwest, which contributes to the Northeastern states' acid rain problem---found cleanup too expensive and snapped up all the pollution allowances.

Contrast that with an across-the-board cap, with companies required to reduce emissions a certain percentage. In this case, concentrating damages on one place is much less likely to happen.

"Market approaches may not work well when it matters who cleans up," she said. Helfand stressed that this did not happen in the acid rain program, but it could in other similar approaches.

Another problem with market-based incentives is that they only work with sufficient monitoring equipment in place and often that's difficult, she said. For market-based approaches, total emissions need to be measured; for pollution standards, in contrast, only occasional monitoring of the flows of emissions may be necessary. The difference between continuous monitoring and occasional monitoring may be costly.

This is problematic in developing countries, she said. In these situations, standards on emissions may be more enforceable than market approaches. Or, take the Kyoto Treaty with its potential for the trading of carbon dioxide allowances. Our ability to measure reductions in emissions, or "carbon sinks" that absorb greenhouse gases is still in its infancy. Standards that specify emissions rates or mandate use of a technology may be easier to enforce and lead to more certainty in emissions reductions than market approaches when measuring emissions is uncertain.

In situations where it doesn't matter environmentally who emits pollution, and where monitoring emissions is effective, market-based approaches can be very effective in reducing the costs of pollution abatement, she said. Because market-based approaches may not guarantee that environmental goals can be met, though, regulators should decide carefully whether their use is appropriate on a case-by-case basis, the study concludes.

Press Release from University of Michigan via EurekAlert www.eurekalert.org

Contact: Laura Bailey; 734-647-7087; University of Michigan

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Non-Environmental, U.S., Savings, Costs and Benefits, 402 words   English (US)

Staples Newsletter: Color Laser Printers: A Wise Investment

It's not surprising to learn that color can add a greater impact to business communications. But did you know that printing brochures, presentations, newsletters, multimedia transparencies, and other key documents in color can improve reading comprehension by 75 percent, and increase readership by 40 percent? 1

If you don't already have a color inkjet printer, in other words, then you should go out and buy one, right? Not necessarily.

Color laser printers can be a smart investment for anyone who frequently prints in color, especially if a lot of that printing is outsourced to the local copy center.

It costs approximately $114 in toner to print 6,000 pages on a color laser printer. Printing the same number of pages on a color inkjet costs between $1200 and $4500. 2 What's more, color laser printers reduce the toner costs of printing in black–and–white to less than a penny per page. 3

Some color laser printers cost between $1000 and $2000. Even if you buy a higher–priced color laser printer, it will save you money over time if you do a lot of color printing.

Color laser printers fuse ink onto a page and produce smudge–proof documents. Color inkjets spray tiny droplets onto a page that can streak or smudge before drying.

Because they produce smudge–proof prints, some color laser printers allow for double–sided printing. Double–sided printing makes presentations look more professional — and saves money on paper.

Color laser printers have more powerful processors than their color inkjet counterparts. This means that they can process jobs more quickly, and in most cases print more pages per minute. It also means that they can also be networked in an office.

Color laser printers are generally more durable than inkjet printers. They can print as many as 60,000 or even 85,000 pages per month without suffering wear. The monthly duty cycle of inkjet printers typically tops out at around 10,000 or 12,000 pages. This difference is especially notable considering this piece of advice from C/Net: "To avoid breakdowns, buy a printer with a monthly duty cycle approximately four times the number of pages you think you'll actually

1 Pantone Institute Retail Systems. April 17, 2000.
2 According to "Color Laser Printers" by Cyber Ink Design. ®2001.
3 According to Lexmark Co, 2002.
4 C/Net, "What to Look for in Printers". ®1995–2002.

By Mark Toft
Staples www.staples.com

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December Issue of Ecological Economics: Table of Contents with Abstracts

Environmental responsibility and environmental thievery: A reply to Xenarios
Pages 453-455
by J. Ballet, D. Bazin and D. Touahri

Evaluating the Hirsch Hypothesis: A response
Pages 456-458
by Kjell Arne Brekke, Richard B. Howarth and Karine Nyborg

Crop biodiversity, risk management and the implications of agricultural assistance
Pages 459-466
by Salvatore Di Falco and Charles Perrings

This paper presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the impact of financial assistance to farms on crop biodiversity in an uncertain setting. The findings reveal that risk aversion is an important driving force for crop biodiversity conservation. Risk-averse farmers can hedge against the uncertainty they face by allocating land to different crop species. However, policies intended to stabilize revenues by supporting particular species may alter this link by delinking crop biodiversity from the management of revenues risk.

Using GIS-based ecological–economic modeling to evaluate policies affecting agricultural watersheds
Pages 467-484
by Christopher L. Lant, Steven E. Kraft, Jeffrey Beaulieu, David Bennett, Timothy Loftus and John Nicklow

This paper has three purposes. The first is to conceptualize agricultural watersheds as complex adaptive human ecosystems that co-produce agricultural goods and ecosystem services. The second is to demonstrate a generalizable framework for the spatial modeling of ecosystem service production in watersheds based on this conceptualization. The third is to examine the policy implications of the analysis conducted using this spatial decision support system (SDSS).

Analyses using the SDSS show that restrictions on soil loss to the “tolerance level” (T) cause average farm income to decline by only 4%, a reduction that is nearly eliminated if the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is available to farmers as an income-generating alternative. The spatially variable response of farmers to soil loss restrictions and the CRP creates a complex pattern of winners and losers and a markedly different land use pattern and crop mix than occurs without these programs. The land use pattern associated with T restrictions and the CRP yields about 64% lower erosion rates and 43% lower sediment yields than the pattern without T restrictions or CRP. These and other results from the SDSS analysis point out that ecosystem service-based subsidies, such as CRP, improve the joint production of farm income, soil conservation and water quality in agricultural watersheds. These subsidies could perhaps receive greater funding by shifting agricultural subsidies from income supports tied to yield and price as well as other crop-based programs. In this way, public expenditures on agriculture would produce a valuable public benefit in the form of load reductions in a TMDL context, and an augmentation of ecosystem services now in decline in many agricultural watersheds. Further methodological developments now underway using evolutionary algorithms can find near-optimal solutions for farms over time and for landscape patterns over whole watersheds.

The edges of conflict and consensus: a case for creativity in regional forest policy in Southwest Finland
Pages 485-498
by Juha Hiedanpää

In this paper I articulate and describe how societal systems can be meaningfully integrated into development and environmental policy planning. I contrast two cases, the planning and implementation of the Natura 2000 reserve network and the Regional Forest Programme of Southwest Finland and discuss the elements that make the former process conflictual and the latter consensual. An analogy between ecosystem health and institutional health connects the vocabulary used in this paper with the vocabulary of environmental sciences and management. I describe the constituents of institutional health and discuss their importance in affording groups and individuals with power to resist, liabilities to resilience and capacity to adapt. I conclude by presenting a case for reform in development and environmental planning.

Urban form and the ecological footprint of commuting. The case of Barcelona
Pages 499-514
by Ivan Muñiz and Anna Galindo

One of the most controversial ideas in the debate on urban sustainability is that urban sprawl causes problems of ecological stress. This widespread assumption has been tested by measuring the ecological footprint left by commuters in the 163 municipalities of the Barcelona Metropolitan Region (BMR). This paper explores the determinants of the ecological footprint of commuting municipal variability by using the following regressors: population density, accessibility, average household income, and job ratio. The results confirm that urban form appears as the main determinant of ecological footprint variation among the municipalities of BMR.

Evaluating environmental programs: The perspective of modern evaluation research
Pages 515-526
by Manuel Frondel and Christoph M. Schmidt

Naturally, before funding an environmental program on a large scale, decision makers would like to know whether or not a program will be successful in terms of, first, ecological efficacy and, second, economic efficiency. With particular focus on methodological issues regarding the evaluation of environmental programs, this paper provides an introductory and didactic survey of experimental and observational approaches to the evaluation of the ecological efficacy, as suggested by modern evaluation research. While the evaluation of environmental programs on the basis of these approaches is standard in the US, this course outlined by other applied fields, such as labor and health economics, is obviously rather unusual in Germany and other EU countries. We would like to emphasize that, whenever possible, one should consider conducting an experimental study: In an ideal experiment with a randomized assignment into treatment and control groups, the simple difference in mean outcomes across both groups would yield an unbiased estimate of the true program effect. When controlled experiments are not a viable option, observational approaches might succeed. In any case, environmental regulators and utilities have to work more closely together with researchers already at the stage of designing the interventions.

Environmental pressure group strength and air pollution: An empirical analysis
Pages 527-538
by Seth Binder and Eric Neumayer

There is an established theoretical and empirical case-study literature arguing that environmental pressure groups have a real impact on pollution levels. Our original contribution to this literature is to provide the first systematic quantitative test of the strength of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) on air pollution levels. We find that ENGO strength exerts a statistically significant impact on sulfur dioxide, smoke and heavy particulates concentration levels in a cross-country time-series regression analysis. This result holds true both for ordinary least squares and random-effects estimation. It is robust to controlling for the potential endogeneity of ENGO strength with the help of instrumental variables. The effect is also substantively important. Strengthening ENGOs represents an important strategy by which aid donors, foundations, international organizations and other stakeholders can try to achieve lower pollution levels around the world.

Ranking versus scale rating in conjoint analysis: Evaluating landscapes in mountainous regions in southeastern Spain
Pages 539-550
by Samir Sayadi, M. Carmen Gonzalez Roa and Javier Calatrava Requena

In order to evaluate the landscape and its agrarian components in the low mountainous region of the Alpujarras in Southeastern Spain, Conjoint Analysis (CA) was used, and both alternative ranking and rating approaches were considered as a way of assessing preferences. Data was obtained from a preference test carried out with a sample survey of 165 visitors to the area.

Three main real landscape components were considered for this analysis as follows: type of vegetation layer, density of rural building and level of incline. Several levels were also considered for each component: abandoned fields, dry farming, irrigation farming and virgin lands were included for the vegetation layer; and three levels (low, intermediate and intense) were considered for the level of incline and rural building.

Finally, conclusions were drawn concerning both the preferences for landscapes and the comparative analysis of the results when using either the ranking or scale rating approach. From these conclusions, some strategies have been suggested to maintain the highest valued landscape in the area, within the scope of a sustainable rural development process.

How to compare companies on relevant dimensions of sustainability
Pages 551-563
by Damjan Krajnc and Peter Glavič

Dozens of frameworks of sustainability assessment that focus on the performance of companies have been suggested by now. They propose using numerous sustainability indicators, which are generally measured in very different units. While it is important to assess sustainability with several indicators, it may sometimes be difficult to make comparisons among companies based on a large number of performance measurements.

This paper presents a model for designing a composite sustainable development index that depicts performance of companies along all the three dimensions of sustainability—economic, environmental, and societal. In the first part of the paper, the procedure of calculating the index that would enable comparisons of companies in specific sector regarding sustainability performance is presented. However, the emphasis of the paper is on the second part, where the effectiveness of the proposed model is illustrated with a case study in which two companies from specific sector are compared regarding their sustainability performance.

Environmental tax reform and the double dividend: A meta-analytical performance assessment
Pages 564-583
by Roberto Patuelli, Peter Nijkamp and Eric Pels

In this paper, we offer a meta-analytical synthesis of recent (simulation) studies on environmental tax reform (ETR). The studies considered here look at both environmental effects (e.g., reduction in CO2 emission) and economic effects (e.g., employment gains) consequent upon such a tax reform. The existing statistical results from the literature mainly suggest that the tax type, the recycling policy, and the economic model used in the simulations significantly influence the chance that a ‘double dividend’ effect can be obtained. These empirical results are, however, not entirely conclusive regarding the question of which combination of policies and models will lead to a higher double dividend. This issue is investigated in our study by a quantitative meta-analytic approach. Our meta-analytic statistical experiment demonstrates that the total effect of a tax-and-recycle policy has a significant influence on the economic variables (second dividend), when employment is used. It is also shown that different definitions of the double dividend contribute in determining the success of ETR, in particular since the effects on GDP are less clear than for employment. These findings should be taken into consideration when deploying an ETR in a policy context, in order to prevent a situation where ETR is rejected or accepted solely due to characteristics of one simulation study rather than through a wide set of results from different studies.

Greenhouse gas abatement policies and the value of carbon sinks: Do grazing and cropping systems have different destinies?
Pages 584-598
by Felicity Flugge and Steven Schilizzi

This paper presents a case study in which the effects of agri-environmental policy on two Mediterranean-type farming systems, grazing dominant and cropping dominant, are contrasted. Two greenhouse gas abatement policies are examined; an emissions taxation policy and an emissions restrictions policy. The study seeks to determine firstly, how the policy impacts on the farming systems, and from that, how the nature of the farming systems impact on the effectiveness of the policy. It is shown that relative costs of abatement are higher for the grazing-dominant farming system. However, in the absence of technological change to aid abatement, the cost of substitution from high emitting enterprises, such as livestock, to low emitting enterprises, such as crop production, will determine the cost of abatement. For both farming systems the restriction policy is found to be more effective and economically efficient than the taxation policy. The analysis found that crediting trees as carbon sinks can significantly reduce the costs of abatement. At predicted emissions permit prices, trees would be adopted by both farming systems to offset farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The World Bank's ‘genuine savings’ measure and sustainability
Pages 599-609
J.Ram Pillarisetti

In order to consider the depletion of natural capital in national income accounting, the World Bank has developed a composite indicator known as ‘genuine savings’ incorporating several environmental indicators. This paper examines the conceptual and empirical characteristics and policy implications of the measure. Analysis shows that the measure is conceptually and empirically imperfect. The policy implications based on this measure are erroneous. The paper suggests that a global approach is needed to appropriately address sustainability issues and to incorporate natural capital in national accounting.

Book review: The wealth of nature: How mainstream economics has failed the environment
Pages 610-611
by Patricia E. (Ellie) Perkins

Ecological Economics via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 55, Issue 4, Pages 453-620 (1 December 2005) 18 articles

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Value of sustainability: perspectives of a chemical manufacturing site

The chemical, polymer and petrochemical process industries, which play a vital role in manufacturing and distributing various products for the global marketplace, have experienced significant economic and regulatory pressures in recent years. The cost of raw materials has steadily increased while selling prices and profit margins have eroded due to increased global competition. This has resulted in a need to implement new cost reduction measures such as decreased energy usage. At the same time, the chemical industry is working to minimize environmental discharges and manufacture lsquogreenrsquo products via lsquosustainablersquo industrial processes. Sustainability is a critical issue for the chemical industry. Solutia and other chemical companies have been attempting to enhance the short and long term sustainability of their operations. This chapter presents an account of sustainability related activities at Solutiarsquos (and Monsanto prior to 1997) Indian Orchard (IO), MA, site. The Monsanto pledge is described along with examples of the impacts on IOrsquos operations, employees and community. Descriptions of Solutiarsquos metrics for environmental (i.e., eco-efficiency) and quality (i.e., asset effectiveness management) performance are presented. Two examples from actual operations at the IO site are provided together with some thoughts on their value and applicability towards enhancing sustainability. While the first example focuses on recovering and recycling raw materials (thus lowering the demand for fresh resources), the second example focuses on the benefits of adopting a ldquoglobalrdquo perspective to solving process challenges. Finally, current efforts at the site (including a plant wide energy utility assessment and thermodynamic footprint analysis) and some gaps in current sustainability practice are briefly described.

by Gautham Parthasarathy, Roy Hart, Ed Jamro and Leland Miner
All of Performance Products, Solutia Inc, 730 Worcester Street, Springfield, MA 01151, USA

Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy via SpringerLink www.springerlink.com
Publisher: Springer-Verlag GmbH
ISSN: 1618-954X (Paper) 1618-9558 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s10098-005-0278-y
Issue: Online First

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Livermore voters offered chance to become solar leader

Here in the sunny suburbs east of San Francisco, voters are being offered a chance to make their city a national leader in solar power at a time of growing anxiety over soaring energy prices and global warming.

A measure on Livermore's Nov. 8 ballot would allow housing developer Pardee Homes to build what it claims will be the country's largest completely solar community, with 2,450 new homes equipped to harvest the sun's energy.

"This is an incredible opportunity to create a model community with the most energy-efficient homes we can provide," said Carlene Matchniff, a vice president for the developer. "It sets a high standard for green building."

But there's a catch: Livermore voters must agree to allow construction on hundreds of acres of protected open space and absorb more than two square miles of picturesque grassland within city limits.

Opponents, including environmental groups and the majority of the City Council, are fighting the measure they claim will swallow open space, encourage sprawl, destroy habitat and clog traffic on one of Northern California's most congested freeways.

"The bottom line is they want to build 2,450 homes outside the city on sensitive lands," said David Reid of the Greenbelt Alliance. "All the solar panels in the world don't make that environmentally friendly."

Los Angeles-based Pardee Homes has been waging an expensive campaign to persuade Livermore's 44,000 registered voters to approve Measure D, which it sponsored.

Pardee officials expect to spend about $3 million on a campaign that includes television and radio ads. Opponents, by contrast, expect to spend about $150,000.

The election is being closely watched to see if a developer can use the ballot box to change land-use regulations and bypass the traditional planning process as well as the city council.

Residents in nearby Antioch, Brentwood and Pittsburg vote Tuesday on similar developer-sponsored measures expanding city limits to add housing, but those measures have wider community support.

This former ranching town about 45 miles east of San Francisco has become one of the Bay Area's outer suburbs. Situated along Interstate 580, the city of 75,000 residents is also home to a burgeoning wine industry and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, known for nuclear weapons and energy research.

Measure D would incorporate 1,400 acres of ranchland where residents have fought off developers for more than three decades. Five years ago, voters approved an open-space initiative that restricted development in that area and others.

To entice voters, Pardee offered to build a 130-acre sports park, preserve 750 acres as open space and provide land and funding for a badly needed high school. About 450 acres would be set aside for the new homes backers say will help ease the region's housing shortage.

"It's probably the best project Livermore's seen in decades, if ever," said Councilmember Lorraine Dietrich. "It adds amenities to the community at no expense to the taxpayer, and it enriches the balance of housing choices available."

Pardee, a division of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate, has vowed to make the Livermore Trails community a national example for sustainable living. Every new home would have rooftop solar panels that could lower electricity bills 50 to 60 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Homeowners would be credited with excess energy they generate.

Officials from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the California Energy Commission support the solar project because it would help promote energy efficiency. But Mayor Marshall Kamena and the City Council's "slow-growth" majority oppose the plan.

Opponents say the measure could open the 14,000-acre North Livermore area to more development and destroy endangered species habitat, including a flowering plant called the palmate-bracted bird's beak.

Critics accuse Pardee of trying to buy off voters with perks and they're skeptical about the company's solar promises because the ballot measure doesn't provide many specifics.

"The project is classic sprawl," said Mike Daley, conservation director for the Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay chapter. "They are going to create so much pollution and devastation in the North Livermore Valley that no environmental group is supporting it."

By Terence Chea

SignonSanDiego.com (by the Union Tribune) www.signonsandiego.com

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06:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, New York State, Companies, Northeast, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 498 words   English (US)

Vermont may sue to stop tire burn: Hearings in N.Y. begin Wednesday

If New York environmental officials choose to disregard Vermont's opposition to plans by International Paper Co. to burn up to 72 tons of shredded tires at its Ticonderoga, N.Y., paper mill for a two-week test, Vermont will likely take the matter to court.

Gov. James Douglas and his administration, in cooperation with the Vermont Attorney General's Office, are prepared to exercise every legal avenue at their disposal, the governor's press secretary said last week.

"Gov. Douglas has asked the Agency of Administration to include a substantial appropriation in the fiscal year 2006 budget act for the sole purpose of pursuing our legal options in opposition to the potentially toxic tire burn," Jason Gibbs said. "The Attorney General's Office is looking into all of our options."

International Paper hopes to burn shredded tires to generate electricity for its manufacturing plant.

The potential legal action is a continuation of Vermont's two-year battle to thwart the company's plan to conduct a two-week test burn. The threat comes as New York environmental regulators anticipate hearing from hundreds of Vermonters opposed to the burn at the first public hearing on Wednesday. New York-based experts, citizens and environmental regulators will also testify.


Assigned talking points

Wadsworth said representatives from both politicians' offices will testify Wednesday. In addition, officials from the union representing most of the plant's 700 workers will testify, as will some of the mill's employees.

They will be armed with talking points supplied by the company in a memo. "Speakers … please use the following information to develop a statement in your own words," the memo said.

Among the points they are being asked to make:

# The project is highly important to the Ticonderoga Mill.
# The environmental benefit to the public and the economic importance of this project to International Paper and to the stability of the region make good arguments for proceeding.
# Millions of used tires accumulating in every state are a serious health and safety threat.

The Vermont opponents have talking points of their own, and they, too, will be delivering a consistent message.

For the plant, that review is crucial. International Paper hopes to replace up to 10 percent of its current fuel mix — which is largely No. 6 fuel oil — with shredded tires, a move that could shave as much as $4 million a year off its energy costs. Wadsworth said the company is committed to being environmentally friendly, but is not willing to consider spending millions on pollution control equipment until after the two-week test.

But the review is viewed as crucial for Vermonters living across the lake as well.

"I don't think they can ignore the view of the governor of Vermont and of hundreds of vocal Vermont citizens," said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. "It's not a done deal yet. We are going to do everything we can to reduce threats to public health."

By Darren Allen
The Barre Montpeler Times Argus www.timesargus.com

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05:40:20 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, Companies, Midwest, Savings, Costs and Benefits, 768 words   English (US)

Industry tackles energy costs: High prices bring a new focus for manufacturers

When Mercury Marine Inc. plant managers were told they would be held accountable for energy costs, it did more than send them running to put on sweaters and dial down office thermostats.

The Fond du Lac company is an energy-intensive machine that consumes $13 million a year of natural gas and electricity. Mercury learned that its operations managers were unaware of their energy costs because the utility bills were routinely paid by the corporate office.

"No one really understood how much their particular plant was spending on utilities. The accounts payable department paid the energy bills, and no one else thought twice about it," said Jerry Eaton, company central facilities manager.

Not anymore. Utility costs are now part of each Mercury plant's operating goals, just like productivity and material costs. To help keep track, the company installed power meters so that managers in every building know the natural gas and electricity usage.

"They can measure, track and see whether energy reduction plans are working," Eaton said.

Industry uses one-third of the energy consumed in the United States, and even more when product transportation is factored in, according to a new report from the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington, D.C., trade group.

Energy experts predict that global pressures on oil and gas markets will ensure that high prices will be with us for some time. The need to plug energy leaks in manufacturing plants is more compelling than ever, the report notes.

"About 30% of the savings can be achieved without capital investment, using only procedural and behavioral changes," the report says.

Mercury plugged a giant energy leak when it installed a centralized air compressor system that saves the company about $541,000 a year on electricity. The system cost $1.8 million but will pay for itself in about three years.

Factories use compressed air to run power tools, among other things. Mercury's compressor moves air throughout the company's 200-acre campus via a network of underground pipes.

"It was designed as a utility," Eaton said. "We have put compressed air into the utility category, just behind natural gas, electricity, water and sewer."

The Ocean Spray cranberry factory in Wisconsin Rapids tapped into methane gas from a nearby landfill to reduce its monthly natural gas bill by about 25%, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The plant's main boilers are now powered by methane delivered through a mile-long pipeline from the Onyx Cranberry Creek landfill. Ocean Spray buys methane from the landfill at a rate that's less than the cost of natural gas.

The methane doesn't burn quite as efficiently, but it still does the job, said Robert Mullennix, Ocean Spray's environmental, health and safety manager.

That methane would have been wasted had it not been sent to the cranberry factory. The arrangement reduces greenhouse emissions from the landfill by nearly 7,000 tons a year - the equivalent of planting 15,000 trees or removing carbon monoxide emissions from 12,000 cars.

"And we are saving enough natural gas to heat 800 homes in Wisconsin," Mullennix said.

Obstacles to efficiency

Freedom Plastics Inc. turned to Wisconsin's temperate climate to save buckets of money on utility bills. By installing heat exchangers, the Janesville company now uses outside air to cool plastic as it's being processed.

"We used to run old chillers that were very inefficient," said Rick Hoffman, plant engineer. "Now, once the outside air temperature drops below 60 degrees, we can shut off our current chiller and let Wisconsin cool our process."

At the company's plant in Fort Pierce, Fla., ice is used to cool the building and plastic. The ice is made at night, when utility rates are lower, and is used during the day.

Freedom Plastics has taken many other steps to cut its utility bills, including replacing energy-hungry electric motors with more efficient units and buying equipment that detects energy leaks in buildings.

"Most of these things have a one-year payback or less," Hoffman said. "And not only have we seen huge energy savings, we have solved other problems," such as airflow in buildings.


Hudapack is reducing its natural gas bill by changing the burners on heat-treating furnaces.

"It's a $50,000 project even for a small furnace, and it takes the furnace out of commission for three or four weeks," Huss said. "But it reduces our natural gas usage in these furnaces by about 25%," which results in a fairly quick payback.

Metal casting, food processing, pulp and plastics are Wisconsin industries that would benefit the most from energy savings, said John Nicol, Focus on Energy industrial program manager.



The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal www.jsonline.com

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Legal, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, 210 words   English (US)

Firefighters win suit over mold at work: Metro weighs whether to appeal decision awarding $76,000

Two firefighters and their wives were awarded $76,000 by a judge after claiming that mold in a West End fire station made them sick.

Chris Berry, who retired with a disability pension, and Roy Johnson, who still works for the department, claimed that they were sick because of mold growing rampant at the hall. Metro had argued that the men's illnesses were because of pre-existing conditions and not caused by the relatively low levels of mold.


Winning a mold case is not unusual, an outside legal expert said.

"But it is very hard, depending on the facts, to show that a particular illness was caused by mold as opposed to some genetic precondition or some other environmental factor," Vanderbilt Law School Professor John Goldberg said.

In this case, the plaintiffs argued that their underlying medical conditions were exacerbated because of the mold.

In 2001 a jury awarded a Texas woman $32 million after she sued her insurance company to cover water and mold damage in her 22-room house.

Also that year, a Florida jury ordered the builders of a county courthouse said to be infested with mold to pay $14.2 million.

The Tennessean www.tennessean.com

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A fresh look at the benefits and costs of the US acid rain program

The US Acid Rain Program (Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments) has achieved substantial reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from power plants in the United States. We compare new estimates of the benefits and costs of Title IV to those made in 1990. Important changes in our understanding of and ability to quantify the benefits of Title IV have occurred. Benefits to human health now take a much higher profile because the contribution of SO2 and NOx emissions to the formation of fine particulate (PM2.5) is substantial, and evidence of the harmful human health effects of PM2.5 has emerged in the last 15 years. New estimates of the health benefits of PM2.5 reductions are the largest category of quantified health and environmental benefits and total over US$100 billion annually for 2010 when the program is expected to be fully implemented. Although important uncertainties exist in any specific estimate of the benefits, even if the estimates were calculated using more limiting assumptions and interpretations of the literature they would still substantially exceed the costs. Estimates of annualized costs for 2010 are about US$3 billion, which is less than half of what was estimated in 1990. Research since 1990 also suggests that environmental problems associated with acid deposition and nitrogen deposition are more challenging to resolve than originally thought and will require larger reductions in emissions to reverse. The greater than expected benefits to human health, the greater vulnerability of natural resources and ecosystems, and the lower than expected costs all point to the conclusion that further reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions from power plants beyond those currently required by Title IV are warranted.

Keywords: Acid rain; Air pollution; Cost-benefit analysis; Program assessment

by Lauraine G. Chestnut and David M. Mill; Stratus Consulting Inc., P.O. Box 4059, Boulder, CO 80306-4059, USA; Tel.: +1 303 381 8000; fax: +1 303 381 8200.

Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier ScienceDirect www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 77, Issue 3; November 2005; pages 252-266

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Forecasting environmental equity: Air quality responses to road user charging in Leeds, UK

Sustainable development requires that the goals of economic development, environmental protection and social justice are considered collectively when formulating development strategies. In the context of planning sustainable transport systems, trade-offs between the economy and the environment, and between the economy and social justice have received considerable attention. In contrast, much less attention has been paid to environmental equity, the trade-off between environmental and social justice goals, a significant omission given the growing attention to environmental justice by policy makers in the EU and elsewhere. In many countries, considerable effort has been made to develop clean transport systems by using, for example, technical, economic and planning instruments. However, little effort has been made to understand the distributive and environmental justice implications of these measures. This paper investigates the relationship between urban air quality (as NO2) and social deprivation for the city of Leeds, UK. Through application of a series of linked dynamic models of traffic simulation and assignment, vehicle emission, and pollutant dispersion, the environmental equity implications of a series of urban transport strategies, including road user cordon and distance-based charging, road network development, and emission control are assessed. Results indicate a significant degree of environmental inequity exists in Leeds. Analysis of the transport strategies indicates that this inequity will be reduced through natural fleet renewal, and, perhaps contrary to expectations, road user charging is also capable of promoting environmental equity. The environmental equity response is, however, sensitive to road pricing scheme design.

Keywords: Air quality; Environmental equity; Environmental justice; Transport planning; Road pricing

by Gordon Mitchell, The Institute for Transport Studies and the School of Geography, The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; Tel.: +44 113 343 6721; fax: +44 113 343 3308.

Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 77, Issue 3; November 2005; pages 212-226

08:56:00 am, Categories: General, Air, Water, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, China, Contamination Cost, 573 words   English (US)

China choked by pollution but signs emerge it is addressing the issue

China, the factory of the world, is being slowly choked by the pollution brought on by its unrelenting economic transformation and the government is starting to realise it needs to do something about it.

Environmentalists describe the situation as extremely serious, but they say a window of opportunity still exists to reverse a worsening trend.

"The government is not just sitting idle but it is also clear they are not doing enough to cope with the current crisis," said Greenpeace China spokesman Szeping Lo.

"There are reasons to be worried. It's all about whether the central government has the political will and executive power to implement its policies."

Parts of the Chinese apparatus acknowledge the problems that exist, although many provincial and local level governments continue to turn a blind eye to the environmental costs of development.

According to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), acid rain fell more often and on more cities last year, affecting 298 urban areas -- more than half of all the cities monitored.

Most of China's large waterways -- including its seven biggest rivers and 25 out of its 27 major lakes -- were polluted, some seriously, it said.

Urban pollution is another fast-growing problem, as statistics show only one third of the sewage and about 57 percent of the garbage generated in cities is being treated.

Coal is the worst culprit. It is used to fire 80 percent of China's power stations which fuel the economic drive, but such a heavy polluting resource is damaging the environment and harming its people.

The World Bank estimates 400,000 people in China die each year from air pollution-related illnesses, mainly lung and heart diseases. It says direct damage costs China an annual 8-12 percent of its 1.4 trillion dollars GDP.

The capital Beijing is one of the worst affected cities and is regularly engulfed in a thick gritty haze.

The conditions forced experts last week to warn the pea-soup smog could cause headaches and dizziness and even breathing difficulties and asthma attacks -- all this just three years before it hosts the Olympics.

But after years of blind economic development, China is gradually waking up to the environmental costs, and is trying to do something about it as pressure builds from its citizens.

"China's urbanization process is now at a crucial juncture," admits Yang Weimin, director of the Development and Planning Department under the National Development and Reform Commission (NPRC), the country's top policy regulator.

"If the process continues in an unsustainable manner, it would result in serious consequences," he was cited as saying recently by Xinhua news agency.

Authorities are currently focusing efforts on developing clean energy by using wind and solar sources to generate power.

China's need for clean, non-fossil fuel based energy is also expected to make it the largest constructor of nuclear power plants in the coming decades.

Greenpeace's Szeping applauded the steps but urged still more.

"Right now we are facing a very serious situation and the government needs to take this opportunity," he said.

"It needs to invest hugely into the reneweable energy sector. There is still far too much being invested in coal. The picture now is bad enough, we can't afford to wait another 10 years to realise this."

China's citizens are also growing more environmentally aware with an official survey last month of four million people in 31 provinces and regions showing water and air quality were key concerns.

Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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House approves bill to restrict land seizures

The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to restrict the seizure of private property for private development by denying local governments federal economic development funds for two years if they take such a step.

The "Private Property Protection Act of 2005" would bar the federal government, states and localities from using their power of eminent domain to seize property for private economic development projects such as shopping centers or condominiums.

The bill, passed by a 376-38 vote, is part of a backlash against a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to enshrine economic development as a public use for the taking of private property under the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment.

The court ruled 5-4 that New London, Connecticut, could take Susette Kelo's waterfront home and 14 other properties to make way for a hotel and condominium project that would create jobs and boost tax revenues.

Property rights advocates and many lawmakers say it gave local governments the right to transfer any home in the United States to a wealthy developer who promises to upgrade the property.

"I don't believe in giving private properties to someone else for private use to make money off of it," said Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill.


The measure gives landowners whose property is taken for a private project the right to sue for damages in a state or federal court for seven years following the condemnation.

A state, city or other locality found by a court to have authorized a condemnation for private economic development would be denied federal economic development funds for two years.

Many urban redevelopment projects are driven in part by billions of dollars in federal funds such as Community Development Block Grants, along with tax-exempt bonds issued by local governmental authorities.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, said the right to sue for seven years would cast a cloud of uncertainty over many urban redevelopment projects that would make it hard for them to secure municipal bond financing.

He offered an amendment that would instead give owners greater ability to halt condemnations before they took place.

But it was soundly defeated along with other proposals to narrow the bill's scope. The bill's sponsor, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, labeled them "gutting amendments."

The House did vote to exclude from the bill redevelopment of sites that are federally designated as having environmental contamination problems.

The U.S. Senate is considering similar legislation.

City officials said the House measure was too broad and would make it extremely difficult for some older communities to pursue redevelopment.

Hartford Connecticut Mayor Eddie Perez, speaking on behalf of the National League of Cities, said it would "create a chilling effect on the use of eminent domain for a variety of public purposes not specifically mentioned in this legislation including schools, public safety facilities, and affordable housing."

By David Lawder
Reuters www.reuters.com

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The Political Economy of Mercury Regulation

This paper looks at the costs and benefits of two approaches to controlling mercury emissions from power plants to be considered by the Bush administration. The first approach , the command-and-control option, was to establish uniform emission rates across existing utilities, and more restrictive emission rates for new utilities. The second approach, “cap-and-trade” approach was to establish less restrictive emissions standards for new and existing sources, and to also establish a cap on mercury emissions while allowing emissions trading in order to reduce the cost of achieving the goal. The paper concludes with an examination of the role of politics and economics in the determination of environmental policy.

Since there was no serious analysis of the costs and benefits of either option in the Bush’s EPA preliminary proposal, the authors conducted their own analysis. Under their analysis without the mercury regulation, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions form power plants would still be subject to another rule offered by the Bush administration. (Gayer and Hahn 2005).

What the authors find is that the command-and control option appears to be very expensive relative to the cap-and trade option. In 2004 dollars, the command-and-control option is about $15 billion more expensive. Second, the benefits from reducing mercury emissions from power plants are about an order of magnitude less than the costs of the cap-and-trade program. (Gayer and Hahn 2005). Benefits are about $100 million and the costs of the cap-and-trade program are about $4 billion.

The benefit numbers are based on a series of calculations that link emissions from power plants to changes in IQ. The strategy for estimating benefits was to use either an estimate of the central tendency or the upper bound for uncertain assumptions. While their benefit estimate is biased upward, in no cases did the quantifiable benefits exceed the quantifiable costs. (Gayer and Hahn 2005).

The EPA eventually adopted the cap-and-trade approach, with a few changes. First reducing the level of reductions required in the first phase of the program. Second, the second valve provision was removed, which hedged against any unexpected increases in the price of mercury reductions. (Gayer and Hahn 2005).

After adopting the proposal, the EPA did a cost-benefit analysis, and they arrived at the same conclusion as the authors- the benefits of the regulation are not likely to justify the costs.

Gayer and Hahn (2005) conclude noting how politics and misinformation can alter policy decisions. They cite a New York Times article which over-estimated the number of babies born each year might be exposed to unsafe levels of mercury, when a study by the Center for Disease Control say it is less.

The authors draw three points: First, there are conservative assumptions regarding risk. Second, the numbers used in the media were wrong and substantially overestimated the risk, but taken as the truth. Third, no one in political debates seems to care much about the core problem which economists focus on, whether the economic benefits of the proposed action were likely to justify the costs.

by Ted Gayer and Robert Hahn
Summarized by Conor Molloy

AEI-Brooking Joint Center www.aei.brookings.org

Publication 05-10; July, 2005

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Engineering economic analysis of biomass IGCC with carbon capture and storage

Integration of biomass energy technologies with carbon capture and sequestration could yield useful energy products and negative net atmospheric carbon emissions. James S. Rhodes and David W. Keith survey the methods of integrating biomass technologies with carbon dioxide capture, and model an IGCC electric power system in detail. Their engineering process model, based on analysis and operational results of the Battelle/Future Energy Resources Corporation gasifier technology, integrates gasification, syngas conditioning, and carbon capture with a combined cycle gas turbine to generate electricity with negative net carbon emissions. Our baseline system has a net generation of 123 MWe, 28% thermal efficiency, 44% carbon capture efficiency, and specific capital cost of 1,730 $ kWe−1. Economic analysis suggests this technology could be roughly cost competitive with more conventional methods of achieving deep reductions in CO2 emissions from electric power. The potential to generate negative emissions could provide cost-effective emissions offsets for sources where direct mitigation is expected to be difficult, and will be increasingly important as mitigation targets become more stringent.

Keywords: Biomass; Gasification; IGCC; Carbon capture; Carbon mitigation

by James S. Rhodes 1, and David W. Keith 2
1. Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
1. bDepartment of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Department of Economics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4

Biomass and Bioenergy via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 29, Issue 6; December 2005; pages 440-450

08:00:00 am, Categories: General, Air, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 505 words   English (US)

CECO Environmental Reports 26% Increase in Third Quarter Revenues and 25% Increase in Profit

CECO Environmental Corp. (Nasdaq: CECE - News), a leading provider of air pollution control and industrial ventilation systems today announced third quarter results for the period ended September 30, 2005.

Revenues for the third quarter ended September 30, 2005 were $23.4 million as compared to $18.6 million for the same period in 2004, an increase of 26%. Sales increases from our fabrication activities as well as higher revenues from equipment sales were the primary reason for this improvement.

Gross profit for the third quarter was $4.5 million (19.3%) as compared to $3.5 million (19.0%) for the same period last year, an increase of 28%.

Operating income for the third quarter of 2005 was $1.3 million as compared to $736,000 for the same period last year, an increase of 71%.

Other expense was $273,000 for the third quarter of 2005 compared to other income of $19,000 for the same period last year. Other expense for the third quarter of 2005 included a non-cash charge of $293,000 for a fair market value adjustment in connection with the prior issuance of stock warrants.

Pre-tax income for the third quarter was $390,000 as compared to pre-tax income of $86,000 for the same period in 2004. Net income for the third quarter of 2005 was $355,000 or $.04 per basic share and $.03 per diluted share as compared to net income of $285,000 or $.03 per basic and diluted share for the same period in 2004.

This increase in net income for the quarter and decrease in the net loss for the nine months ended September 30, 2005 was the result of improved operating results and adjustment of the effective tax rate offset by the non- cash expense for valuation of warrants.

The backlog as of September 30, 2005 increased by 7% to $22.2 million as compared to $20.7 million at December 31, 2004.

President Rick Blum stated, "Our sales continue to grow with each successive quarter of 2005 and our constant level of bookings throughout the first nine months of 2005 has allowed us to maintain a consistent backlog in excess of $20 million. With margins holding fairly constant we believe that our improved performance will continue in the future."

Chairman and CEO, Phillip DeZwirek commented, "The increase in our operating income for the second successive quarter overcomes the substantial and irregular loss of the first quarter of 2005 and provides ongoing evidence that we are positioned to continue producing improved financial results. With our typically strong fourth quarter we are optimistic that 2005 will be a significant improvement over the prior year."


CECO Environmental Corp. is North America's largest independent air pollution control company. Through its six subsidiaries -- Busch, CECOaire, CECO Filters, CECO Abatement Systems, kbd/Technic and Kirk & Blum - CECO provides a wide spectrum of air quality services and products including: industrial air filters, environmental maintenance, monitoring and management services, and air quality improvements systems. CECO is a full-service provider to the steel, military, aluminum, automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, chemical, cement, metalworking, glass, foundry and virtually all-industrial process industries.

For more information on CECO Environmental visit the company's website at http://www.cecoenviro.com/.

Contact: Phillip DeZwirek, CECO Environmental Corp., , 1-800-606-CECO

PRNewswire-FirstCall via Yahoo Finance http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews

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Cleaner Air: Affordable Cost, Priceless Benefits

One of the Bush administration's standard arguments for a go-slow, go-light approach to limiting air pollution by utilities is that it's just too expensive to do the right thing. In particular, the administration and its congressional allies have opposed mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main culprits in creating dirty air, and according to virtually all scientists, a major "greenhouse gas" contributor to potentially catastrophic climate changes.

That's why the administration's big air pollution proposal for utilities, the so-called Clear Skies initiative, omits carbon dioxide from the list of regulated emissions. The major competing bipartisan proposal for utilities, legislation sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), which includes a cap on carbon, will, argues the administration, boost electricity prices and generally burden the economy, while Clear Skies will produce more modest environmental gains with much lower costs.

But just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-anticipated official cost and benefit estimates of the rival air pollution bills, and though administration officials tried to spin the data as demonstrating the superiority of Clear Skies, the actual numbers show otherwise, especially if you look at the long-term projections.

According to EPA, the Clear Skies proposal would cost utilities $2.9 billion annually in 2010, but $6.2 billion annually by 2020. The Carper-Chafee proposal would cost $10.5 billion annually in 2010, but $9.5 billion annually by 2020. So the cost differential steadily narrows over time. In no small part, that's because EPA pegged the cost to utilities of a carbon dioxide cap at $1 per ton through 2015, and $2 per ton in 2020, much lower than earlier administration claims.

On the benefit side -- limited in this analysis to health improvements from cleaner air, not the climate change implications -- EPA's estimates shows a much bigger differential. The Carper-Chafee bill would achieve annual health improvements of up to $128 billion in 2010, $137 billion in 2015, and $161 billion in 2020. This compares with health benefits attributable to Clear Skies of $79 billion annually in 2010, $106 billion in 2015 and $140 billion in 2020. So, to sum it up, for $8 billion in annual higher utility costs initially, the Carper-Chafee plan produces $49 billion in higher annual health benefits, and down the road, for $3.3 billion in higher annual utility costs, it produces $21 billion in higher annual health benefits.

And that's before you even get to the climate change implications of capping carbon; the economic implications of spurring technological innovation in utility improvements; and the national security and foreign policy value of getting the United States back into a leadership position on global environmental and energy policy challenges.

Indeed, EPA's analysis suggests that the current laws governing utility emissions may be more effective than the Clear Skies proposal. The goal of Congress should be to improve on, not confirm, the status quo, in this or any other area.

After reviewing EPA's cost-benefit analysis of a carbon cap, and the much broader benefits beyond health improvements, Sen. Carper commented: "If we can do that and do it cheaply, what are we waiting for?"

That's exactly the right question. Aside from the shrinking ranks of conservative ideologues who deny climate change is occurring or deny there's anything affordable we can do about it, there's a massive and growing consensus that the United States must sooner or later get moving on greenhouse gas emissions, if only because we will soon begin losing the competition for new energy technologies. The longer we wait to get serious about this challenge, the more expensive it will become to meet it, and in the meantime, millions of Americans will suffer from avoidable health conditions attributable to dirty air.

Even the administration's own number-crunchers are beginning to accept that the cost of doing the right thing isn't much higher than delaying the inevitable. As Tom Carper says: What are we waiting for?

Democratic Leadership Council www.dlc.org

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Journal of Environmental Economics and Management: November, 2005 ; Table of Contents and Abstracts

Environmental regulation with technology adoption, learning and strategic behavior
pages 447-467
by Nori Tarui and Stephen Polasky

Nori Tarui and Stephen Polasky analyze a model of environmental regulation with learning about environmental damages and endogenous choice of emissions abatement technology by a polluting firm. The authors compare environmental policy under discretion, in which policy is updated upon learning new information, versus under rules, in which policy is not updated. When investment in abatement technology is made prior to the resolution of uncertainty, neither discretion nor rules with either taxes or standards achieve an efficient solution except in special cases. When there is little uncertainty, rules are superior to discretion because discretionary policy gives the firm an incentive to distort investment in order to influence future regulation. However, when uncertainty is large, discretion is superior to rules because it allows regulation to incorporate new information. Taxes are superior to standards under discretion regardless of the relative slopes of marginal costs and marginal damages for the case of quadratic abatement costs and damages.

Adjustment costs from environmental change
pages 468-495
by David L. Kelly, Charles D. Kolstad and Glenn T. Mitchell

The paper is concerned with the case whereby the distribution of a firm's productivity shocks changes without the knowledge of the firm. Over time the firm learns about the nature and extent of the change in the distribution of the shock and adjusts, incurring adjustment costs in the process. The long-run loss in profits (±) due to the shift in the distribution we term the equilibrium response. The transitory loss in profits, incurred while the firm is learning about the distribution shift, is termed the adjustment cost. The theory is then applied to the problem of measuring adjustment costs in the face of imperfectly observed climate change in agriculture. The empirical part of the paper involves estimating a restricted profit function for agricultural land in a five-state region of the Midwest US as a function of prices, land characteristics, actual weather realizations and expected weather. We then simulate the effect of an unobserved climate shock, where learning about the climate shock is by observing the weather and updating prior knowledge using Bayes Rule. David L. Kelly, Charles D. Kolstad and Glenn T. Mitchell find adjustment costs to climate change are 1.4% of annual land rents.

Do new health conditions support mortality–air pollution effects? • pages 496-518
by Mary F. Evans and V. Kerry Smith

Epidemiological research underlying US air quality regulations documents significant associations between measures of fine particles and premature mortality. Recent studies examine potential mechanistic pathways, related to heart and lung functioning, that may contribute to the observed deaths. Results from Mary F. Evans and V. Kerry Smith support these pathophysiological analyses. The authors examine whether the onset of serious health conditions, consistent with disease pathways, is related to current and long-term exposure to particulate matter and ozone. Associations between air pollution and alternative indicators of health status are also evaluated. The 1996 wave of the Health and Retirement Study is used with a two-step estimator acknowledging limitations in our ability to measure individual exposures. The findings suggest significant current and long-term effects of particulates on new cases of heart attacks and angina, reinforcing the disease pathways identified in epidemiological studies. Long-term air pollution exposure is also a determinant of recently diagnosed chronic lung conditions and reports of shortness of breath.

Regulator reputation, enforcement, and environmental compliance
pages 519-540
by Jay P. Shimshack and Michael B. Ward

This paper explores empirically the impact of enforcement efforts on environmental compliance, focusing on the role of regulator reputation spillover effects. Jay P. Shimshack and Michael B. Ward find that, on the margin, the impact of a fine for water pollutant violations is about a two-thirds reduction in the statewide violation rate in the year following a fine. This large result obtains through the regulator's enhanced reputation; the deterrence impact on other plants in a state is almost as strong as the impact on the sanctioned plant. Focusing only on the response of the sanctioned plant, as in previous studies, may therefore seriously underestimate the efficacy of fines and other sanctions. This paper also examines the relative effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement instruments. Non-monetary sanctions contribute no detected impact on compliance, and the marginal fine induces substantially greater compliance than the marginal inspection.

Market responses to hurricanes
pages 541-561
by Daniel G. Hallstrom and V. Kerry Smith

This paper uses one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the US, Andrew in 1992, to define a quasi-random experiment that permits estimation of the responses of housing values to information about new hurricanes. Lee County, Florida did not experience damage from Andrew. The storm was a “near-miss.” We hypothesize that Andrew conveyed risk information to homeowners in the county. A difference-in-differences (DND) framework identifies the effect of this information on property values in areas likely to experience significant storm damage. The DND findings indicate at least a 19 percent decline in property values.

Clearing the air: The costs and consequences of higher CAFE standards and increased gasoline taxes
pages 562-582
by David Austin and Terry Dinan

Concerns about energy security and climate change have sparked legislators’ interest in reducing gasoline consumption by increasing corporate average fuel-economy (CAFE) standards. Using an empirically rich simulation model and cost estimates for anticipated fuel-economy technologies, David Austin and Terry Dinan estimate annual costs of reducing long-run gasoline consumption by 10% via a 3.8 miles per gallon increase in the standards, and the potential cost savings from allowing manufacturers to buy and sell fuel-economy credits. Maximum gasoline savings would be realized only after all existing vehicles were replaced, or 14 years in their model. A gasoline tax would produce greater immediate savings by encouraging people to drive less, and eventually to choose more-fuel-efficient vehicles. The authors demonstrate the advantage of a tax by comparing the cost of the higher CAFE standards over the first 14 years against the cost of a gasoline tax that would save the same amount of gasoline over that time.

Do voluntary international environmental agreements work?
pages 583-597
by Espen Bratberg, Sigve Tjøtta and Torgeir Øines

Espen Bratberg, Sigve Tjøtta and Torgeir Øines consider the effects of international environmental agreements using the 1988 Sofia Protocol on the reduction of nitrogen oxides. Panel data on 23 European countries for the period 1985–96 is used to evaluate the impact on emissions by dividing countries into participants and non-participants: that is, those that did and those that did not ratify the Sofia Protocol. Using a difference in difference estimator and controlling for country-specific variables, the authors find that signing the treaty had a significant positive impact on emission reduction. The estimated yearly reduction in emissions is approximately 2.1% greater than it would have been without the Sofia Protocol.

Incentives for wetland creation
pages 598-616
by Anne-Sophie Crépin

When information about soil quality is complete, wetland creation with a take-it-or-leave-it contract, which specifies wetland size and transfer, yields higher social benefits than if a uniform contract, which offers a payment proportional to the wetland size, had been used. This result points to a paradox because uniform contracts have been used a lot in practice.

This article concentrates on the presence of asymmetric information about soil quality as a possible explanation for this paradox. It shows that the choice of instrument for wetland creation has welfare implications. Different contracts typically yield quite different social welfare surpluses and distribution between interest groups. It is not obvious, which of four contracts studied dominates when a farm characteristic affecting costs is unknown to the social planner. The probability distribution of the characteristic, the size of the excess burden, the elasticity of costs and benefits to wetland size and the cost of acquiring missing information influence the outcome.

Static modeling of dynamic recreation behavior: Implications for prediction and welfare estimation
pages 617-636
by Kenneth A. Baerenklau and Bill Provencher

This paper examines the consequences of using a static model of recreation trip-taking behavior when the underlying decision problem is dynamic. Specifically Kenneth A. Baerenklau and Bill Provencher examine the implications for trip forecasting and welfare estimation using a panel dataset of Lake Michigan salmon anglers for the 1996 and 1997 fishing seasons. The authors derive and estimate both a structural dynamic model using Bellman's equation, and a reduced-form static model with trip probability expressions mimicking those of the dynamic model. They illustrate an inherent identification problem in the reduced-form model that creates biased welfare estimates, and discuss the general implications of this for the interpretation of preference parameters in static models. Baerenklau and Provencher then use both models to simulate trip taking behavior and show that although their in-sample trip forecasts are similar, their welfare estimates and out-of-sample forecasts are quite different.

Improving the prevention of environmental risks with convertible bonds
pages 637-657
by André Schmitt and Sandrine Spaeter

This paper considers a limited liability firm that needs external funds in order to invest in an activity that presents an environmental risk for the Society. When the firm's risk-reducing activities cannot be observed by the lenders, André Schmitt and Sandrine Spaeter show that the issue of convertible bonds can create incentives to improve prevention. Convertible bonds allow the holder to exchange his bonds for a fixed number of the firm's shares. The use of such hybrid securities could either complement or be an alternative to the American CERCLA legislation about lender extended liability. The authors define an optimal convertible bond contract that induces unchanged economic profits for the bank, more prevention and higher expected net revenues for the firm and a higher expected social welfare than with standard debt. Their results hold true both with and without extended liability.

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 50, Issue 3, Pages 447-658 (November 2005)

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Report on the Environmental Benefits and Costs of Green Roof Technology for the City of Toronto

Toronto has been at the forefront of organized green roof activity over the last several years. In early 1990’s volunteers under the Rooftop Garden Resource Group (RGRG) started to promote green roof development in the city. This has been taken over by Toronto-based Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a not for profit organization, which carries out world-wide education on green roofs.

The City of Toronto has been an active participant in studying wider use of green roofs as a sustainable alternative to meet many of the urban environmental challenges. In the past few years the City has shown leadership in promoting green roofs. In order to inform its actions,
the City in partnership with OCE-ETech and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, engaged a team of Ryerson researchers to develop further understanding of: the types of available green roof technology, the measurable benefits of green roofs to the city’s environment, potential monetary savings to the municipality through use of green roofs, and
minimum thresholds of green roofs that could be used for part of any incentives or programs.

The findings of the work are presented in the following sections of the report:

Section 1, about the study, provides historical background related to this work;

Section 2, survey of research related to green roofs, provides the findings of the literature review on benefits of green roofs;

Section 3, survey of types of green roofs and their standards, provides
information on the different green roof technologies currently available and the performance standards pertaining to green roofs;

Section 4, green roof benefits and costs for the City of Toronto, provides the details of the quantification of benefits of city-wide implementation of green roofs.

The report ends with a summary and recommendation, in Section 5, which
provides the recommendations, the minimum thresholds and guidance for further work.

Of the many benefits of green roofs reported in the study, the ones that had the most quantifiable monetary value based on currently available research data are: benefit from stormwater flow reduction including impact on combined sewer overflow (CSO), improvement in air quality, reduction in direct energy use, and reduction in urban heat island effect.

The literature review indicated other benefits that could not be quantified in this report. These benefits included: aesthetic improvement of urban landscape, increase in property values, benefits resulting from green roofs used as amenity spaces, use of green roof for food
production, and increased biodiversity. Further work is needed to quantify these benefits.

The benefits on a city-wide basis were calculated based on the assumption that 100% of available green roof area be used. The available green roof area included flat roofs on buildings with more than 350 sq. m. of roof area, and assuming at least 75% of the roof area would be greened. The total available green roof area city-wide was determined to be 5,000
hectares (50 million sq. m.).

The benefits were determined as initial cost saving related to capital costs or an amount of annually recurring cost saving. These are shown in the following charts and table.

Initial Savings
Air Quality,-------------------------------$0,-----------0%
Building Energy,------------------$68,700,000,----------22%
Urban Heat Island,----------------$79,800,000,----------25%
Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO),----$46,600,000,----------15%

Annual Savings
Urban Heat Island,----------------$12,320,000,----------33%
Building Energy,------------------$21,560,000,----------58%
Air Quality,-----------------------$2,500,000,-----------7%
Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO),-------$750,000,-----------2%

Category of benefit Initial cost saving Annual cost saving

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)-----$46,600,000------$750,000
Air Quality------------------------$2,500,000
Building Energy-------------------$68,700,000---$21,560,000
Urban Heat Island-----------------$79,800,000---$12,320,000


The report also presents the minimum considerations for the type of green roof to achieve the stated benefits. The key considerations include that: the roof system be of the type known as an extensive roof system, that it cover a significant portion of the roof, have a maximum runoff coefficient of 50%, and have at least a 150 mm. depth where structural loads permit.
Green roofs with less depth could be used on roofs where structural loading does not permit the 150 mm. depth.

The benefits quantified in this report show that there is a case for development of public programs and the promotion of green roofs. The City of Toronto may wish to use this information to embark on consideration of programs that will give further impetus to the construction of green roofs.

Green roof technology is an emerging technology and many questions need further exploration. Although this study has made several advances in predicting benefits of green roofs, and it has provided information for the City of Toronto to move further on programs and policies pertaining to green roofs, there are several areas that will require further work.
Questions remain to be answered regarding the uncertainty of the benefits, impact of less than 100% green roof coverage, impact of building specific constraints, the quantification of program costs leading to a complete cost benefit analysis, quantification of other social benefits and consideration of the effect of alternative technologies that may be able to perform one or more of the functions of a green roof. These questions are important and will need to be considered in further studies. Some of these will be explored in the continuing work by the Ryerson team. In the meantime, policy decisions regarding green roofs will need to consider the potential impact of these questions

City of Toronto Green Roof Project www.toronto.ca/greenroofs

Prepared For City of Toronto and Ontario Centres of Excellence –
Earth and Environmental Technologies (OCE-ETech)
Prepared By
Ryerson University

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"China to debut fuel tax at a proper time"

It has been quite evident that the domestic product oil is sold at a price lower than the purchasing price of international crude oil since the beginning of this year, which involves the interests of all sectors in the society, said Zhao Xiaoping, director of the pricing department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing on Friday. China will reform its oil pricing mechanism by making the prices of its processed oil more flexible to reflect the oil supply, demand and price fluctuation in both domestic and overseas markets, according to the International Finance News on October 31.

On October 28, the NDRC convened a symposium here discussing the price reform of energy and resources, and the reform of product oil and the readjustment of resource taxes became hot topics at the seminar.

At the present, China sets the price of processed oil in reference to the average price of oil products in the Singapore, Rotterdam and New York markets. However, as the government only adjusts the price of oil products when the international price changes enough, the final price is late for at least about one month.

Speaking of the reform of the processed oil products, Zhao Xiaoping said, in the processed oil pricing mechanism, the calculation methods for the final pricing will be improved and the external price references for product oils will be readjusted so as to flexibly reflect supply, demand and price conditions on domestic and foreign markets and to help crack down on domestic oil speculation.

Zhao Xiaoping added, to solve the problem of product oil supply, the distribution of benefits among the oil industry should be adjusted through financial and taxation means while pushing ahead the pricing reform, and the extra income obtained by oil enterprises in price hikes will be modulated. In addition, the price interlocking mechanism of oil and its related industries will be established, and oil subsidies will be given to weak industries and mass groups.

Zhao Xiaoping also pointed out that there exist play-up and speculation factors for the present oil price in international market. So the pricing mechanism should be used to avoid the shift of the abnormal fluctuation on international market price to the home market. Otherwise, the changes of international oil price will exert more impact on the stable operation of the home market.

"Energy and resource taxation policy will be readjusted to improve their taxation standards so as to guarantee the reasonable earnings of the state as the resource owner and avoid the excessive shift of social income to some enterprises'', said Ma Kai, Chairman of the NDRC.

Finance and taxation policy is one of the important supporting measures for the resource price reform. Ma Kai said, a research will be made on changing the resource taxation tax from quantity-based levy to price-based taxation, or levy according to the resource quantity owned. Levy standards, involving environmental protection taxes, will be raised to make resource prices reflect the resource damages and the cost of environment treatment.

Ma Kai disclosed that the state will choose an appropriate time to put forward an oil tax policy in order to boost oil saving and embody the principle of "the more oil consumed, the more taxes'' At the same time, taxation policy will be used to rationally control exports of resource products.

Five reforms concerning China's resource prices

1. Push forward water price reform in an all-round way. The levy scope for water resources will be enlarged and levy standards raised. The water pricing system will be farmer-oriented and the water price for agricultural purpose will be gradually raised and sewage treatment fees levied in an all-round way.
2. Actively carry forward the electricity price reform. Gradually establish a market-oriented system by which electricity generation and sales prices will be decided through market competition and electricity transmission and distribution prices fixed by the government.
3. Improve the pricing mechanism for petroleum and natural gas.
4. Realize overall market-driven pricing of coal.
5. Improve land price-fixing mechanism. All areas in the country will have unified standards for lowest price of contractual land leasing, and illegal lowering of land prices to attract investments will be banned.

People's Daily Online http://english.people.com.cn

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07:28:00 am, Categories: Air, Companies, Lead, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, China, Contamination Cost, 428 words   English (US)

Stricter environment laws hit China lead smelters

China's stricter environmental regulations are delaying construction of a 80,000-tonne-per-year lead plant in Henan, but are encouraging small lead producers in Yunnan to merge their operations, industry officials said on Monday.

Privately held Dongfang Gold and Lead Co. would start building its new lead plant by late December this year, having delayed construction by more than a year, an official said.

The construction was originally planned to have begun in July 2004.

"They have been doing the environmental assessment for the project," the official said, referring to the environmental authority of the Henan provincial government in south-central China.

Dongfang also operates another 60,000-tonne-per-year lead plant, which has smelting and refining capacity.

Emissions from Dongfang's 60,000-ton lead plant exceeded levels set by the government when the plant ran trials in April 2004, a report posted on the web site of the State Environmental Protection Administration said.

The official said Dongfang had already spent more than 10 million yuan to upgrade the 60,000-ton plant in Jiaozuo city and it now met requirements of the provincial environmental authority. He added that emission violation would not affect the approval for its new lead plant.


Lead, used in car batteries, cable covers and solder for pipes and plumbing, rose 1.7 percent in value so far this month to $961 a ton on Monday for delivery on the three months of the benchmark London Metal Exchange.

China is a major lead supplier in the world but its exports are falling due to strong domestic demand.

In September its refined lead exports fell to 21,962 tons, down 37 percent from August and 51 percent from July of 2005.

Small lead producers in Gejiu city in China's southwestern Yunnan province struggle to pay big bucks to upgrade their smelters as the local environmental authority monitor their emissions closely.

Three small lead producers in the city have merged to become Zhen Xing Lead Co. in face of the stricter regulations, that require stronger financing ability. Zhen Xing has capacity of 60,000 tons refined lead a year.

"The environmental authority monitors smelters' emissions 24 hours a day," said a senior executive for Zhen Xing, which is the largest lead producer in Gejiu city.

More than 20 lead smelters, including Zhen Xing, are operating in Gejiu with combined smelting capacity at about 200,000 tons a year.

"Others will have to do the same," the executive said, referring to mergers.

China produced 1.7 million tons of refined lead in the first nine months this year, up 24.5 percent from a year ago.

Reuters via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, Texas, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 827 words   English (US)

Builders of energy-efficient homes have new reasons to tout value

Builders of energy-efficient homes are wise to promote and market the value of energy efficiency features to consumers, because, as energy costs climb, new home buyers are increasingly looking for houses with superior energy efficiency. These homes typically offer significant payback in lower utility costs, greater comfort for homeowners, less maintenance and increased resale value down the road.

Energy Star-qualified homes are independently verified to be at least 30 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 1993 national Model Energy Code, or 15 percent more efficient than the state energy code -- whichever is more rigorous. Savings are based on heating, cooling and hot water energy use and are typically achieved through a combination of:

* Building envelope upgrades.
* High-performance windows.
* Controlled air infiltration.
* Upgraded heating and air conditioning systems.
* Sealed and properly insulated duct systems.
* Upgraded water-heating equipment.

Home builders should take the opportunity to educate potential buyers on how these features contribute to improved home quality and overall comfort, as well as lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.

Several areas impact energy efficiency:

* Cooling and heating. Appropriate sized cooling and heating equipment provide both comfort and savings. Manufacturers assign ratings to this equipment to meet industry standards for performance and efficiency. For example, furnaces with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of at least 80 percent, and central air-conditioning units with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of at least 13, are recommended.

When properly programmed, electronic thermostats can save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually and are recommended to regulate indoor climate. Builders may also remind homeowners

to change filters regularly: fiberglass filters -- monthly; pleated filters up to three months.

* Attic insulation. Energy-efficient homes usually have optimum insulation in the attic. Thermal insulation is assigned an R-value based on its ability to resist heat transfer -- the higher the number, the greater the material's ability to keep homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. A rating of R-30 in the attic and R-15 inside the exterior walls is recommended.
* Attic ventilation. Without proper ventilation, intense solar radiation can drive attic roof temperatures to 140 degrees and above, making cooling systems work harder than necessary because the ductwork located in attics absorbs some of this heat and transfers it to the conditioned space. The best choice for attic ventilation is a continuous ridge vent coupled with soffits. The continuous ridge vent, located at the highest point of the attic space, allows the hottest air to escape and also vents the roof between the rafters.
* Air ducts. A typical home loses 20 to 30 percent of the air that flows through its ventilation system. The culprit is leaky ductwork. Properly sealed and insulated ducts and joints, especially those routed through attics where temperatures may vary widely from the home's living spaces, optimize a system's efficiency. An insulation value of R-6 is recommended for ductwork.
* Windows. Double-glazed or double-paned windows offer homeowners twice the insulation of single-paned models. A transparent low-emissive (low-e) coating on the glass also helps to reduce heat transfer.

In Houston's cooling-dominated climate, it's important to select east-, west- and south-facing windows with low solar heat gain coefficients that block solar heat. A properly designed roof overhang for south-facing windows is important to avoid overheating in the summer. At the very least, Energy Star-rated windows or their equivalents should be used.

* Weatherization and infiltration. Sealing air leaks blocks up to 10 percent of a home's heated or cooled air from leaking out. Weatherstripping and caulking blocks both heat and humidity from invading air- conditioned space during hot weather and keeps heated air from escaping during the cold weather.
* Water. Low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets that can save hundreds of gallons of water each year -- keeping water bills under control. New instant hot-water heaters also are growing in popularity. These systems eliminate holding tanks by instantly heating water as it travels through the pipes.
* Appliances. Appliances carrying the Energy Star label are worth the investment. This program, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the best guide to selecting major appliances that use less energy and cost less to operate than similar models in the same category. They incorporate advanced technologies that require 10-50 percent less energy and water than standard models.
* Lighting. Lighting usually accounts for about 7 percent of a home's total energy usage. Many energy-efficient homes include dimmer switches and motion-detector sensors on household lights that will extend bulb life and save energy. Home builders should also inform home buyers about the energy savings potential of compact fluorescent light bulbs that use approximately 1/4 as much electricity as incandescent bulbs. And, fluorescent bulbs can last up to nine years longer.

Many industry observers project that energy costs will continue to increase. Builders are in a unique position to identify and inform buyers about the energy efficiency features included in their new home offerings.

Bill Clayton energy expert with Reliant Energy www.reliant.com/saveenergy
Houston Business Journal www.bizjournals.com/houston


Cool(er) Roofs

Tar Beach, those black tarred rooftops where regular New Yorkers got their summer tans, is celebrated in song, in movies like “On The Waterfront” and in a well-known quilt and children’s book by Faith Ringgold. But if they evoke the same kind of nostalgia as stoop ball and stick ball, those roofs turn out to be bad for the environment.

The asphalt and concrete trap sunlight and heat and contribute to what scientists call the “urban heat island” effect that makes the city as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the suburbs. The difference in temperature translates into some $100 million in additional energy costs per year.

That is why a movement is growing to replace New York City’s iconic rooftops with something cooler, literally.

A cool roof, or “white roof” -- as simple as a basic coating of light-colored water sealant – is the roof of the future in New York, says Laurie Kerr, an architect in the Office of Sustainable Design, the eco- conscious division of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction. “The city controls maybe one in ten buildings in terms of square footage. Over the next 20 years, all of those buildings should have cool roofs.”

But others are pushing an alternative -- a “grreen roof,” in effect a rooftop garden, with plants (even trees) atop a layer of soil.

Common in Europe, and growing more popular in American cities out West, green roofs remain a challenge in New York.

“Roof tops are an enormous wasted resource,” says Leslie Hoffman, executive director of EarthPledge, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that has helped build green roofs atop eight local buildings, including the Rheingold Gardens building in Bushwick, a 250-unit senior housing facility. Her organization’s efforts are paralleled by Sustainable South Bronx, the Hunts Point non-profit that recently opened a demonstration green roof project atop the American Banknote Building. In an interview with WNYC at the time of the installation, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion said the borough was home to at least nine green roof installations. “We can’t force anybody" to install green roofs, Carrion said, "but we are certainly creating incentives by saying we will be very supportive of your project."

Expanding that support to the rest of the city could take some time. Green roofs, while attractive to look at and useful when it comes to minimizing both heat and water runoff, are roughly five times as expensive as the typical roof installation.

Cool roofs demand less of an investment from private property owners and less paperwork for city contractors. With the recent signing of a new law mandating that all major city- funded construction and renovation projects meet energy conservation standards laid out by the U.S. Green Building Council, Kerr from the Office of Sustainable Design expects most projects to go with the easier white roof method.

The Case For Green Roofs

Green roof advocates, meanwhile, are working hard to boost the economic case for green roofs in the hopes of convincing city leaders to set up incentives for builders and property owners.

“The problem is the reflective roofs don’t deliver one twentieth the benefits of a green roof,” says Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a Canadian advocacy group.

Peck points to green roof’s ability to limit storm water runoff, something the city needs to do in order to bring its sewage system in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The largest green roof on record, a 10.4 acre installation at Ford Motor Company’s Rouge River truck factory, is expected to cut that facility’s storm water runoff -- and the resulting sewer bill -- in half. If New York City were to take a cue from Portland and some European cities and charge building owners for the amount of storm water they send into local sewers, the return on investment issue would quickly balance out.

Peck also points to green roofs’ ability to filter pollutants and to remove carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. Like their counterparts in urban forestry, green roof promoters are hoping to come up with models that put a dollar figure on such services.

Should those dollar figures become available, however, they might not be enough to convince individual building owners to make the switch, says Stuart Gaffin, a scientist at the Center for Climate System Research at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences. Earlier this year, Gaffin served as host of a graduate seminar on green roofs. In their attempt to put together a model on the environmental benefits of green roof installation, however, they found most of the benefits appearing at the societal level, as opposed to the individual property owner.

“You try to get the economic benefits to the owner and you run out of things pretty quickly,” says Gaffin. “There aren’t a lot of direct cost-benefit effects.”

Gaffin says he has deals with two local schools -- one public, one private -- to install and monitor green roofs. With these plots, he hopes to build up local data which can then be used to convince the city council to offer additional incentives for green roof owners.

Gaffin and his students are joined in their effort by Diana Balmori, the architectural designer of the city’s largest green roof, atop the Silvercup Studios facility in Long Island City. Built with the help of Earth Pledge and the New York Power Authority, the installation is the first of what Balmori expects to be two major installations in that neighborhood. Balmori plans to use rainwater data from both installations to push city leaders to follow in the footsteps of their Seattle and Chicago counterparts and add green roofs to the evolving “green building” concept.

“It would be really great if New York grew some industries around this, but it hasn’t reached the critical mass to make it affordable enough for the majority of the population,” Balmori says. “With just some minimum incentives, that turnaround could happen. All we need is that relatively small push.”

Gotham Gazette, winner of the Online Journalism Award for general excellence, is a nationally recognized web site about New York City.

Help them keep offering this service. To make a tax deductible contribution, please write a check to Citizens Union Foundation (with "For Gotham Gazette" on the memo line) and mail to: Gotham Gazette c/o Citizens Union Foundation; 299 Broadway, Suite 700; New York, New York 10007 or go to http://www.gothamgazette.com/donate.php

By Sam Williams
Gotham Gazette www.gothamgazette.com
Editor Jonathan Mandell

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Selling green buildings with people power

The choice of building design can lead to boosted worker productivity and even higher test scores in children, according to building technology experts.

In studies, so-called green or high-performance buildings have shown to have positive effects on people, compared to traditional buildings, all while saving money on energy, according to experts who spoke on a panel at the Clean Tech Venture Forum conference on Wednesday.

Green buildings incorporate technologies, materials and designs to improve such things as air quality and lighting for inhabitants. They also use so-called clean technologies, such as computer operated climate control systems, to cut down on the energy and natural resources required to operate the physical structure.

Better health of building occupants, among other benefits, is prompting more designers from all industries and government agencies to construct green buildings, panel members said. Sixty percent of U.S. property owners involved in construction used energy-efficient designs in the past year, according to construction consulting firm PinnacleOne.

Toyota Motor Sales campus in Torrance, Calif., for example, has one of the largest commercial solar panel systems in North America and conserves 11 million gallons of drinking water. Bank of America, meanwhile, is constructing a 54-story skyscraper as its headquarters in midtown Manhattan using a state-of-the-art ventilation system, floor-to-ceiling windows, and waterless urinals.

Green or energy-efficient buildings dovetail with the notion of sustainable business, where corporations seek to minimize the environmental impact of doing business. But some designers and architects are using a purely economic argument to justify the higher building costs of green buildings, namely office worker productivity.

"I believe the smoking gun of green buildings and the reason you're going to see more of them…is productivity," said S. Richard Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the Green Building Council. He said office worker productivity on average increases two to 16 percent in green buildings.

"Most CFOs (chief financial officers) in the U.S. will not buy that--they think it's absurd--but it's playing out in many industries," Fedrizzi said, adding that $8 billion was spent on green buildings last year.

Liberty Property Trust is one company that has bought into the economic value of productive people. The $6 billion real estate investment trust will only build "green" office buildings from now on, said company Senior Vice President John Gattuso.

Liberty Property Trust will do that by seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a rating system which awards points based on criteria such as water efficiency, materials used, the indoor environmental quality and the design.

The company is marketing its green building projects by showing that an environment with good air and light increases worker productivity, Gattuso said. Eighty-five percent of a building's ongoing costs are the people inside it, he noted.

"We're seeing at the top-end companies focused on how buildings, which are 15 percent of the cost, can be leveraged to get more out of the other 85 percent, which is the human resources," Gattuso said.

Not using modern building technologies, such as computer-controlled systems that maximize daylight, energy use, and improve air quality, is the equivalent of an obsolete product--like building a 1985 car today, he added.


The beneficial effects on people of green construction and design apply to all sorts of buildings, panelists said.

Citing research commissioned by the Green Building Council, Fedrizzi said that children in green schools have 20 percent better test scores, and patients at hospitals using green technologies are discharged two and a half days earlier than patients at traditional hospitals. Retail store owners have found that consumers linger longer and spend more money in green buildings as well, he added

Up-front building costs are typically slightly higher for green buildings, on the order of two percent, said Greg Kats, a principal at clean energy consulting firm Capital E. But the payback can be demonstrated over time, panelists said.

For example, the energy-efficient measures of LEED-certified buildings result in lower heating, cooling and electricity costs. Energy efficiency can improve by 30 percent, while emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases are 45 to 50 percent lower, Kats said, citing his company's research.

Other benefits of high-performance buildings include higher resale value and lower operating costs, panel members said.

Fedrizzi conceded that more data linking health and productivity of green buildings is needed

"I can't say that the science is absolutely there, but it is definitely moving in that direction," he said.

Kats noted that there have already been a number of studies on productivity and buildings.

Carnegie Mellon University has created a cost benefit tool called Building Investment Decision Support (BIDS), which provides a method for measuring costs, including productivity. Consulting company Heschong Mahone Group has done studies of the impact of daylight and ventilation on worker productivity and student performance.

Liberty Property Trust faces skepticism from financiers when it figures office worker productivity into its cost analyses, Gattuso said. But a conservative calculation that incorporates a three percent increase in worker productivity--which totals only 10 or 15 minutes per day--translated into saving nine dollars per square foot per year, he said.

"That's extremely compelling. This is an argument and sales pitch that is increasingly being backed up with data," Gattuso said.

Despite the benefits, there is still not a great deal of familiarity with the LEED certification system in the industry, according to PinnacleOne, which found that less than a third of building owners plan to use the LEED certification system in the coming year.

Also, a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month called into question the efficacy of the LEED certification system, which is done by the Green Building Council, in making buildings energy efficient.

Kats said that companies such as the New York Times, Reuters and Bank of America are choosing to make their corporate headquarters green buildings for more than just energy savings or worker productivity. In some countries, corporations need to consider the amount of carbon their buildings create in order to comply with regulations, he noted.

Green buildings can also improve a company's image. "It says something about who you are when you want a high-quality building," Kats said. "It shows you care about employees and the larger social issues."

ZD Net http://news.zdnet.com

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03:00:00 am, Categories: Air, Health, Government Report, U.K., Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 112 words   English (US)

Drinks trade challenges assessment of cash losses

Concerns about the impact of a partial smoking ban on the pubs industry have been rejected by the government in an official assessment of the costs and benefits of the measure which came under fire yesterday from business and an influential Labour peer.

The regulatory impact analysis of the proposed partial ban, issued alongside the bill by the Department of Health yesterday, appears to show a net annual gain of £1.3bn to £1.9bn from the measure. But critics said the analysis was deeply flawed.

By Jean Eaglesham


Financial Times http://news.ft.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: General, Air, Legal, Government Report, U.S., Mercury, Regulatory Analysis, 397 words   English (US)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Clear Skies and Legislative and Regulatory Analyses Released

Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today announced the results of the most detailed, comprehensive analysis of air ever conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The legislative and regulatory analyses compared several cap-and-trade approaches aimed at reducing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

"This additional information answers any remaining questions," said
Johnson. "This is an apples-to-apples comparison that shows Clear Skies
legislation is the clear choice for cleaner air and healthier lives."

Clear Skies will significantly expand the Clean Air Act's most
innovative and successful program to cut power plant pollution of sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen oxides and, for the first time, mercury by an
unprecedented 70 percent in two phases. These cuts in pollution will
provide substantial health benefits by imposing a mandatory
multi-pollutant cap on emissions from more than 1300 power plants
nationwide, reducing pollution by as much as 9 million tons annually at
full implementation. The country will achieve this by spending more
than $44 billion in large part to install, operate and maintain
pollution abatement technology on both old and new power plants.

Clear Skies cap and trade approach will give states the most powerful,
efficient and proven tool available for meeting new, tough, health-based
air quality standards for fine particles and ozone. Most counties will
be able to meet the new standards without having to take any new local
measures beyond the Clear Skies power plant reductions. The
market-based trading approach will substantially cut the overall cost of
compliance that is passed on to consumers and shareholders.

Earlier today, Johnson briefed congressional members on EPA's analysis.
The study incorporated the latest computer models and assumptions to
create a side-by-side comparison of President Bush's Clear Skies
legislation to several alternatives introduced on Capitol Hill.

The legislative and regulatory analyses project potential costs and
benefits for public health, air quality, and the power sector for the
years 2010, 2015, and 2020.
The legislative and regulatory proposals analyzed:

1. Clean Air Planning Act (Carper, S.843 in 108th)
2. Clean Power Act (Jeffords, S.150 in 109th)
3. Clear Skies Act of 2005 (Inhofe, S.131 in 109th)
4. Clear Skies Act of 2003 (Bush Administration proposed bill, S.485
in 108th)
5. Clear Skies Manager's Mark (of S.131)
6. Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR), Clean Air Visibility Rule (CAVR)

The analyses and supporting documentation may be found online at:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) www.epa.gov

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Asthma-reducing program worth cost: study

Home-based efforts to reduce the amount of allergy triggers in the homes of children with asthma not only work well but also appear to be worthwhile in terms of costs and savings, new findings show.

"Our previous study demonstrated that an intervention designed to reduce the exposure of asthmatic inner-city children to environmental irritants and allergens at home succeeded in reducing asthma symptoms," study author Dr. Meyer Kattan told Reuters Health.

"The current study shows that a reduction in morbidity can be achieved with this home-based environmental intervention in a cost-effective manner," added Kattan, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Asthma is known to be particularly common among children living in the inner city, and is thought to be partially due to various environmental factors such as exposure to cockroach antigen and other indoor allergy-producing substances and irritants.

Findings from the previously published Inner-City Asthma Study showed that a home-based intervention was successful in reducing the levels of such irritants and allergens.

That intervention used trained environmental counselors to teach families to use pillow covers that are impermeable to dust mites, air purifiers to get rid of tobacco smoke or mold, and other ways to reduce exposure to various asthma triggers. The study participants were more than 900 children, aged 6 to 11, with moderate-to-severe asthma from seven urban locations, nationwide.

The current study was conducted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the initiative.

The intervention cost $1,469 per family, but it reduced the study participants' annual number of unscheduled visits to the clinic by 19 percent and reduced the number of asthma inhalers used each year by 13 percent, Kattan and colleagues report.

This reduction in the use of asthma services was "sufficient to offset approximately one third of the intervention costs," they write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

During the two-year study period, including one year of follow-up, children in the study group had nearly 40 more symptom-free days -- at a cost of about $28 per day -- than did children in a comparison group.

Whether the intervention is cost-effective, i.e. worth its cost to the payer, depends on how much the payer values symptom-free days, the report suggests.

According to Kattan, the current findings "support current international asthma guidelines stating that attention to exposures in the home environment is an integral part of asthma management."

In light of the findings, Kattan recommends that "environmental interventions should be considered as an important part of public health programs for asthma management of children in inner-cities."

"This economic analysis can be useful for prioritizing decisions regarding asthma care in this underserved population," the researcher added.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, online October 11, 2005
via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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Some State Buildings Take on Green Hue: A number of high-profile government and commercial buildings in West Virginia have just that distinction.

The buildings you pass by every day may be ordinary, or they may be designed "green," with user health and comfort, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship in mind.

A number of high-profile government and commercial buildings in West Virginia have just that distinction. Three are in the pipeline for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The walls of windows overlooking the Ohio River on the new 80,000-square-foot federal Bureau of the Public Debt headquarters in Parkersburg aren't just for looks -- they're part of green design.

The building, phase I of which was occupied last fall, was intended to be certified green from the beginning, according to Building Services Specialist Karen Weaver.

"We flood the interior with natural light, which means we don't have to turn on that many light fixtures during the day," Weaver said. "You see the outside from almost any location that you're in. It's light and friendly and makes a really good work environment."

The building's sophisticated HVAC system saves energy and, at the same time, uses High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration for better indoor air quality, she said.

Materials were chosen based on their life-cycle properties. Carpet tiles have 70 percent recycled content and can be recycled by the manufacturer when they're replaced, Weaver said. Terrazzo flooring in the high-traffic lobby should last 30 years or more, and the metal panel-and-brick facade requires little upkeep.

As a designer, Weaver found the market offers a wide range of appealing and affordable green options for both interiors and exteriors.

"Even the bigger office furnishing manufacturers are offering recycle programs and fabrics made of recycled content," she said. "I was able to pick things that I liked and were cost efficient."

There are good reasons for the government to build according to LEED standards, said Weaver.

"Most if not all of the things that we do to be LEED-certified will save us money in the long run," she said.

Also, "if we can step forward as the government and say it's possible to do this and keep the cost down and use recycled products ... for me as a designer that's one of the more exciting things."

Building owner Government Properties Trust will seek 27 points toward standard LEED certification when the 100,000-square-foot second phase is complete next spring, Weaver said.

Department of Environmental Protection, Charleston

One year ago this month, the 500-plus employees of the state Department of Environmental Protection moved for the first time in the department's 12-year history under one roof.

The long-hoped-for building took three years to plan and build and, in the end, came to 180,000 square feet on three floors. If all goes well, it will receive awards for its green components by the end of the year.

"We thought we ought to set the gold standard for the green thing, being environmental protection and all," said DEP Chief of Administration and Building Manager B.F. "Cap" Smith.

An early step in the process was to recycle as much demolition material as possible.

"We recycled 97 percent of all the material that was in the building that we took down," Smith said. That was the former Kanawha Cinemas movie theater.

"The concrete went one place, the steel went another place, but we insisted that the contractor recycle as much as they could."

Beyond that, the project focused mainly on energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality, Smith said.

"This building cost a little over $21 million, and we spent $6 million of that on the HVAC system," Smith said.

The sophisticated system contributes to energy efficiency 35 percent better than the combined energy use in the department's previously occupied buildings, Smith said.

It also greatly improved indoor air quality.

"The building I was in for 10 years was a rehabilitated warehouse, and we just breathed each other's germs through the HVAC all winter. We were sick all the time," he said. "The air changes in this building five times an hour."

Because design began before the green intention entered the process, some basic green principles were not incorporated in the building. Less than half of the building's offices have windows, for example, leaving many occupants without natural light and increasing electricity use. Other technologies were left out due to budget constraints, Smith said.

But interior design choices were more consistently green.

"There's not anything in this building that doesn't have a green label: carpet, paint, flooring, none of it has any VOC, or volatile organic compound, emissions," Smith said. "Even the janitorial service has to use green-labeled cleaning materials."

He thinks the added expense of green design is worthwhile.

"You're going to find it's probably going to cost you an extra 2 to 4 percent on the building," he said. "In my opinion, over time, you'll get your money back," he added.

"We have a 25-year mortgage and, the way the energy costs, I'm sure over 25 years we'll save at least $10 million."

Smith is aiming at about 30 points toward standard LEED certification. He expects the building to receive both LEED and federal Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR certification by the end of the year.

Institute for Scientific Research, Fairmont


by Pam Kasey


The State Journal (West Virginia) www.statejournal.com

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Acid Rain Program Maintains Air Pollution Cuts, EPA Reports

In its 10 years the Acid Rain Program has significantly reduced acid deposition in the United States by cutting sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plants, according to the program's annual report. The newly released Acid Rain Program 2004 Progress Report describes the environmental advances and public health, technology, and market-based improvements accomplished by the program. Widely acknowledged as one of the most successful environmental programs in U.S. history, the program serves as a model for a new generation of air pollution control programs, such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which will further reduce air pollution over the next decade.

"Skeptics of innovative market-based solutions need only look at the
phenomenal results achieved by the Acid Rain Program," said EPA
Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By harnessing the power of the
markets, President Bush's Clear Skies legislation will create permanent,
substantial reductions in soot, smog and mercury pollution, and help
ensure that energy costs remain stable and affordable."

In 2004, electric power generation sources reduced their annual SO2
emissions by about 34 percent - a decrease of over 5 million tons when
compared to 1990 levels. Compared to 1980 levels, SO2 emissions from
power plants have dropped by 7 million tons, or more than 40 percent.
NOx emissions were down by about 3 million tons since 1990 and had
decreased to nearly half the level anticipated without the Acid Rain
Program. Other NOx regulations that also affect power plants, such as
the NOx Budget Trading Program in the eastern United States, also
contributed to this reduction.

The key environmental driver for the Acid Rain Program is a mandatory
8.95 million ton cap on SO2 emissions. The Program allows sources to
buy and sell "allowances" (statutory authorizations to emit SO2). By
reducing emissions early, sources can save (or bank) allowances and use
them to cover excess emissions in years when the energy demand is
higher. Thus, annual fluctuations in SO2 emissions are expected, but
the total amount of emissions over the course of the program is fixed
and will not increase. In addition, a source's emissions may not exceed
National Ambient Air Quality Standards at any time.

Overall compliance with the Acid Rain Program has been consistently high -- nearly 100 percent. In 2004, only four units out of the 3,391 electricity-generating units did not hold enough allowances to cover their emissions. These sources were assessed an automatic penalty of $2,963 per ton for each of the 465 tons of SO2 emitted in excess of
allowances, totaling a fine of $1.4 million. In addition, 465 allowances were taken from sources' accounts to ensure that there would be no net increase in emissions.

These emission reductions have led to significant cuts in acid
deposition. There have been reductions in sulfate deposition by about
36 percent in some regions of the United States and improvements in
environmental indicators such as fewer acidic lakes. In 2004, sulfur
dioxide and sulfate concentration levels in atmospheric deposition (key
indicators of acid rain) continued to be approximately 30 percent less
than pre-Acid Rain Program levels. Levels were cut by even greater
amounts, approximately 50 percent, in certain areas. The emission
reductions to date have resulted in reduced formation of fine particles,
improved air quality, and ecosystem protection.

A new analysis in the Journal of Environmental Management estimates the
value of the program's human health and environmental benefits in the
year 2010 to be $122 billion annually. Most of these benefits result
from the prevention of health-related impacts, such as premature deaths
and illnesses and workdays missed due to illness, but they also include
improved visibility in parks and other recreational and ecosystem

The Acid Rain Program has provided the most complete and accurate
emissions data ever developed under a federal air pollution control
program, and it made that data available and accessible for agencies,
researchers, affected sources, and the public by using comprehensive
electronic data reporting and Web-based tools. The program is
recognized as a leader in delivering e-government, automating
administrative processes, reducing paper use, and providing online
systems for doing business with EPA. The program has resulted in nearly
100 percent compliance through rigorous emissions monitoring and
allowance tracking, and an automatic, easily-understood penalty system
for noncompliance.

The progress report details all of this information and includes
emission data, SO2 allowance information for electric power plants, and
monitored acid deposition levels across the United States. The report
is available online at:

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LEED Is Broken; Let's Fix It Opinion in Grist Magazine by Auden Schendler and Randy Udall

In the last five years, something exciting has happened in the green-building world. Conferences on the topic used to be love-ins, featuring hippies in beads and Birkenstocks, with friends of Dennis Weaver pitching tire houses. Okay, it wasn't really that bad ... but close. Recently, however, the U.S. Green Building Council1 has given the field a professional sheen, and helped it blossom. The USGBC attracted 8,000 people to its Portland conference last summer. Many were wearing suits, and the whiff of serious money was in the air. The head of China's construction administration -- which will be responsible for much of the construction the world will see in the coming decade -- was there, and got a standing ovation. There were also product suppliers, architects, consultants, builders, engineers, academics, doctors, and scientists -- the conferences have become a runaway train of enthusiasm for green buildings.

Much of the excitement results from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), USGBC's flagship program to rate a building's environmental performance. Prior to LEED, "green building" was all in the eye of the claimant: you could, for example, ban smoking and call your restaurant green. Why not? There was no standard, so any claim was as plausible as the next. LEED changed that, tapping a pent-up demand for reliable information with a rigorous rating system and a checklist for going green.

Interest in green building is timely. The impacts of assembling, heating, cooling, and electrifying buildings are rising rapidly. Buildings consume one-quarter of the global wood harvest, one-sixth of its fresh water, and two-fifths of material and energy flows.2 In the U.S., buildings account for 65 percent of electricity consumption and 36 percent of primary energy use; operating a typical American house produces 26,000 pounds of greenhouse gases each year, enough to fill the Goodyear blimp.3 Since most Americans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors,4 there is growing concern about indoor environmental quality, a contributor to the childhood asthma pandemic and other health problems. In a provocative essay, Ed Mazria recently noted that buildings are "the most long-lived physical artifacts society produces." Since energy use in buildings is responsible for nearly half of the nation's greenhouse-gas emissions, Mazria believes architects are primarily responsible for resolving the climate challenge.5

There are nearly 100 million buildings in the U.S.6 Almost all of them are on life support, like patients in intensive care. Recognizing that the conventional approach to construction is brain dead, more than 20,000 design professionals have trained to become "LEED accredited." Overnight, LEED has become a dominant brand, like Nike in athletic shoes or Dell in personal computers.

When LEED was launched, the hope was that it would transform the design and construction of commercial buildings. But today, for many reasons, LEED is fast becoming its own worst enemy. The program's early bloom is fading. Green building has a robust future, but LEED may not.

Within the green building orbit, everyone worth their low-VOC paint has heard about LEED, but the early results have been sorely disappointing. Since 1995, the Energy Star program, for example, has been embraced by office-equipment and home-appliance manufacturers. It has been so widely adopted that it has, effectively, flipped the market for computers, monitors, printers, copiers, clothes washers, and dishwashers. Over 360,000 of the nation's new homes have earned the Energy Star label, saving homeowners an estimated $200 million and eliminating approximately 4 billion pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions. This sort of market transformation is what LEED aspires to.

Since 2000, however, LEED has certified fewer than 300 buildings, with 2,184 projects registered but not certified. Manufactured goods aren't buildings, obviously, so here's a more telling comparison: while LEED was ploddingly certifying a few dozen projects each year, the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America program helped production builders design and erect more than 20,000 new homes. Although interest in green building seems to be exploding -- with some municipalities, states, and corporations adopting LEED as a standard -- the reality is that LEED is deeply troubled. There is great interest, but there are few certified buildings. If LEED doesn't change, it will collapse of its own weight, with more and more potential users saying "No thanks," as some colleges, and many builders, already have.7


Problem No. 1: LEED Costs Too Much

An avalanche of reports insist that green building -- and LEED certification in particular -- doesn't cost more than conventional building. These reports are wrong. The second you start a green building project, it costs more than conventional construction. But the word on the street still seems to be that LEED is cheap, and green building pays for itself. Last summer, for example, a report compared the costs of LEED and non-LEED buildings and found "no statistically significant difference."12 It is true that other factors have more influence on building cost than whether one chooses to pursue LEED. But the fact remains that LEED certification costs extra.

Too many consultants, think tanks, and architects are pitching this "no-pain, no pain" line to sell their services. Some of the studies they cite are reminiscent of the Bush Administration's "sound-science," "Healthy Forests," and "Clear Skies" initiatives. For example, a well-publicized study done for the U.S. General Services Administration (which requires LEED certification for its new buildings) failed to account for the costs associated with commissioning, which is a LEED prerequisite. That's like getting a new car price quote without the engine. (This study also didn't account for the cost of obtaining three other expensive credits, discounted because they were already required by the GSA.) In the real world, LEED certification typically adds 1 percent to 5 percent to the budget. A nonprofit group in our valley recently figured their added costs at $50,000 to certify a 10,000-square-foot building.

The myth that going green costs nothing is damaging to clients who discover the reality deep in the process. Instead of using fuzzy math to show that green building doesn't add costs, let's acknowledge that these buildings cost more and are worth it. There are many reasons for added expense. First, green building is a deviation from business as usual. When you ask a builder to modify his tried-and-true, or ask an architect to design past code, you are mounting an expedition into a thorny new landscape, requiring extra meetings, added design time, and inevitably, the mistakes and backtracking that come from doing something new.13 To plow through this tangle you need a sharp machete, a fat wallet, and a calm acceptance of brain damage. The fiscal injuries one suffers on the cutting edge are sometimes called "soft" costs, perhaps to suggest you should eat them.

Green design substitutes intelligence and ingenuity for energy. But brainpower isn't free; we routinely pay $125 to $200 an hour for it. LEED pancakes additional costs on the consultant fees. First, properly commissioning a new building to make sure its mechanical systems are performing as designed, a LEED requirement, costs on the order of $25,000 ... for a small building. Granted, commissioning should be part of business as usual, but it is not. Second, to get LEED's energy points you have to computer model your building's performance. For something under 20,000 square feet, $15,000 would be a steal. Next, there's a LEED registration and certification cost of $2,250 plus USGBC membership of $1,200, the latter not required but politically expedient. Adding the sophisticated energy management controls you may need can be $5,000 or more.

Next, you've got to gather and collate the information you'll need to prove your case to the USGBC. Having done this twice, we've begun to think it would be easier to prepare a Supreme Court brief.14 If you outsource the documentation, only a saint or a fool would do it for less than $20,000. So you're already in the hole $68,450 for a small building. Then, near the project end, when you realize you are a few credits short of a full LEED load, come the unanticipated expenses of upgrading the air handlers or eliminating HCFCs from the chillers or purchasing green power from your local utility. At the conclusion of Aspen Skiing Company's most recent LEED odyssey, we were hemorrhaging cash. Our V.P. of real estate development was frustrated to the point of sarcasm: "I spent extra to bring in certified wood but it was certified by the wrong agency so I didn't get credits for it. We thought our energy modeling would give us the points we needed, but that didn't work out either, so we spent a lot of money to not get Gold, but it was the right thing to do."15

The danger is that LEED certification will cannibalize funds that otherwise could be used to improve the building. At today's price point, developers face a choice: pursue LEED -- or purchase a photovoltaic system, daylighting, or efficiency upgrades. Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, which recently built a new facility on the campus of Stanford University, said, "We decided we would rather take money required for LEED certification and spend it on other sustainability features." Field was uncertain what that cost would have been but called it "substantial," saying, "investing in LEED certification would have meant that we wouldn't have been able to invest in heat rejecting windows."16 If a global ecologist doesn't find value in LEED, will Donald Trump?

Milwaukee's new Urban Ecology Center is one of the greenest buildings in the upper Midwest. Certified? No, "because it could have added as much as $75,000 to the cost, just for the paperwork," says Executive Director Ken Leinbach.17

In "The Cost of Green: A Closer Look at State of California Sustainable Building Claims,"18 the authors note that "Our literature review indicates many developers in the industry are leery of the costs of adopting the LEED standard." Erik Roberts, one of the developers interviewed for the report, says, "People are starting to think that it's enough to use the U.S. Green Building Council guidance strictly as that because the certification is too expensive and time consuming." Roberts built the first LEED-registered office project in San Francisco, but never bothered to finish the application process. It is not good for the USGBC when a LEED-built structure doesn't get certified because it's too expensive. This must change, and we discuss some possible solutions to this problem at the end of section four.

Problem No. 2: Point Mongering & LEED Brain

"I'm sick of the hype. I'm sick of meetings where you spend endless hours debating a LEED point instead of focusing on good design."
-- respondent to the Green Building Alliance Survey19

Point mongering is what happens when the design team becomes obsessively focused on getting credits, regardless of whether they add environmental value. Why does this happen? Because there is prestige in getting a high LEED rating; it can make your reputation as a green company. Since LEED certification is costly and time consuming, gaming a final few credits can be worth its weight in LEED Gold.


A perfect example of LEED brain comes from Boulder, Colo., where a recreation center received one point for installing an electric vehicle recharging station. Only problem: there are about six electric vehicles in Boulder that could be charged at that site, and the charging station gets used less than once a year.20

The dirty little secret is that you can certify a building without doing much at all (other than mountains of paperwork) to make it green. Consider our Sundeck restaurant. It was one of the first LEED buildings constructed, but other than commissioning (which was required) it's essentially built to code, with a few modest upgrades.

In Animal Farm, George Orwell notes that "some animals are more equal than others." In LEED, though, all credits are equal, even though some credits have greater environmental benefits than others. Because you only need 26 points (of 69 possible), we've heard LEED consultants remark that you can "certify a building without getting any energy points." Maybe so, but why bother? A respondent to the Green Building Alliance Survey said it best: "In a recent building, we received one point for spending an extra $1.3 million for a heat-recovery system that will save about $500,000 in energy costs per year. We also got one point for installing a $395 bicycle rack. This must be corrected." While this is an extreme case, it points to a real problem. Why install new HVAC equipment for a few extra points when you could get the same points by changing the color of your shingles at no cost? Machiavellian? Sure, but builders are businesspeople, and financial pressures are real.

In truth, LEED is based less on scientific analysis than on committee consensus. In hindsight, some of the USGBC's early programming decisions seem arbitrary. Grounding LEED more deeply in science would help address point inequality issues, a topic discussed in more detail by Stein and Reiss. One solution is to make more critical credits mandatory, the way commissioning currently is. That way, credit mongering would be played with the cheap cards like low-VOC paints or sealants, not the face cards like energy and water conservation and sustainably harvested wood.

To its credit, LEED encourages energy upgrades by making 10 points available for increased energy performance. The problem is, getting the energy credits is tough. You have to do extensive computer modeling, which adds cost, time, and confusion. For these reasons, at the Sundeck, we blew off the modeling. But energy efficiency is arguably the most critical aspect of green building. The USGBC could make at least four energy credits mandatory, thus requiring LEED buildings to be 30 percent better than code. Wouldn't this make LEED certification still harder to obtain? Perhaps, but LEED is difficult not so much due to its requirements, but rather due to its bureaucratic process. Fix that, and we'll see an increase in LEED buildings, even with more stringent standards.

The next section describes some of the problems associated with modeling. E Source's Jay Stein points out that "Modeling is prohibitively expensive for smaller buildings because so much of the work involved doesn't vary with building size. Perhaps what's needed are prescriptive measures for smaller buildings, leaving the complex and expensive modeling work for larger ones."21

Problem No. 3: Energy Modeling Is Fiendishly Complicated

No Credit for Butchering the Energy Hog

Sometimes getting LEED points is too easy, other times too hard or simply impossible. At the Clubhouse we couldn't get credit for two innovative efficiency solutions because LEED excludes electrical plug loads from its analysis. We spent enormous time and effort to install a variable speed drive in the kitchen hood vent after our modeling suggested it would otherwise be an energy hog. The VSD will save lots of money and tens of thousands of pounds of greenhouse gases. The garage, meanwhile, was designed to house electric golf carts, whose batteries emit explosive hydrogen gas. Instead of inefficiently venting heated air 24-7, we installed multiple, redundant hydrogen sensors creating radical energy savings while safely venting the garage. It was a green design coup. But since neither the garage nor the kitchen hood ventilation systems were "regulated loads," we got no credit for our innovative work, because we'd already used up all four of LEED's innovation credits.24


Problem No. 4: Crippling Bureaucracy


Problem No 5: Overblown Claims of Green Building Benefits Are Misleading29

Since the 1994 publication of Joe Romm's and Bill Browning's "Greening the Building and the Bottom Line," our industry has been rife with endlessly repeated claims of worker productivity, reduced personnel churn rates, and lower absenteeism.30 (You know the argument: energy bills are a few percent of operating costs. Your big expense is labor. So if green building improves worker productivity or reduces absenteeism, those benefits will dwarf the energy savings.) It's not that these studies aren't seminal, or that the claims aren't true. The point is that they are difficult to quantify and vary according to building type. Different sorts of developers will value them, or not, depending on their perspective and investment horizon. Furthermore, these benefits don't impact first costs, and they don't help builders meet budget, two real-world barriers that often severely hamper green building.

A synopsis of Greg Kats' widely cited study "The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Buildings"31 notes that "Many of the financial benefits estimated in this report are general financial benefits, rather than benefits that accrue to a specific building tenant or owner. While a government entity should care about the benefits its buildings may have for society, a private commercial entity may not. Private-sector building owners, for example, are less likely to care about health and environmental impacts, and hence might perceive significantly lower financial benefits."

In short, societal gains don't profit builders on a budget, unless that builder happens to be Gandhi.32 It's time to throttle back our touting of worker productivity to justify green building. Yes, kids and postal workers do better in daylit spaces, but it's better to note than to bloviate about these benefits.33

A Clumsy Tool?

Many things stand in the way of green building -- ignorance, stupidity, sloth, institutional inertia, a dearth of experienced architects and mechanical engineers, first-cost concerns, and short-term profit motives, to mention a few. To its credit, LEED has helped demolish some of these barriers. In the final analysis, however, LEED is just a tool. The most useful tools -- think of a carpenter's speed square or chalk box -- are designed to be easy to use, while improving accuracy and productivity.



1. U.S. Green Building Council website.
2. Roodman, D.M. and N. Lenssen. 1995. "A Building Revolution: How Ecology and Health Concerns are Transforming Construction," Worldwatch Paper 124. Washington, DC. Worldwatch Institute. p. 5.
3. Statistics available at http://www.usgbc.org/Docs/Resources/5. The blimp calculation is based on average household emissions of 26,000 pounds, estimated in "Cool Citizens," Rocky Mountain Institute. The Goodyear blimp's volume is 202,000 cubic feet, equivalent to about 23,000 pounds of CO2. (Calculation: Udall.)
4. According to the American Lung Association.
5. Mazria, E. 2003. "It's the Architecture, Stupid!" [PDF], Solar Today, May/June, pp. 48-51.
6. In 2002, there were more than 76 million residential buildings and more than 5 million commercial buildings according to the U.S. Department of Energy. By 2010 another 38 million are expected to be built.

12. L. F. Matthiessen and P. Moris. 2004. "Costing Green: A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budgeting Methodology" www.dladamson.com/images/pdf_files/costinggreen.pdf [PDF]. Published by Davis Langedon Adamson.
13. For details on these sorts of mistakes, see Schendler, A. 2001. "The Rough Road to Sustainability in Aspen: How Failure Can be the Next Great Tool in Sustainable Business." Elsevier Science, Inc. Corporate Environmental Strategy, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 293-299.
14. Documentation usually consists of a stack of three ring binders, filled with product cut sheets, spec sheets, photos, affidavits, testimonials, etc. ASC's last submission was a foot tall and weighed 20 pounds, submitted in duplicate.
15. Personal communication with ASC V.P. of Real Estate Development Don Schuster, March 2005.
16. Muto, S. 2004. "Building Owners Forgo Being Certifiably 'Green.'" Real Estate Journal: The Wall Street Journal Guide to Property. April 14.
17. Blume, Ed. 2005. "Urban Eco Center Taps Nature's Bounty," Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Winter.
18. Greenspirit Strategies, Ltd. 2004. "The Cost of Green: A Closer Look at State of California Sustainable Building Claims." Accessed March 2005.
19. Green Building Alliance. 2004. "LEED-NC, The First Five Years: Report on the Greater Pittsburgh region's experience using Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for New Construction" [PDF]. p. 4.
20. Stein, J. and R. Reiss. 2004. [10] p.7.
21. Personal communication, April 1, 2005.
22. Discussions between our engineer and the LEED engineer later revealed that we should have received six energy credits. Since two more points wouldn't get us Gold, and since we were never awarded them even after this discussion, we dropped the issue.
23. The difference between a shy and an outgoing engineer? The outgoing engineer will look at your shoes when conversing at a cocktail party.
24. At an adjacent, non-LEED building, we ran into a similar ventilation issue. According to ASHRAE, garages should be vented at 1.5 cubic feet per square foot per minute. This means using fans to vent air you just paid to heat. Our engineer found an ASHRAE paper that updated ventilation rates based on cleaner cars (the old rates were based on '65 Mustangs.) That cut the ventilation rate in half. Then he specified CO monitors, which brought the ventilation rate down even further, saving both fan and heating energy. In LEED, however, this elegant solution would not be eligible for energy credits.
25. Mclennan, J. and P. Rumsey. 2004. "Green Edge: It's Time To Give Credit Where (Energy) Credit Is Due," Environmental Building News. May. Mclennan and Rumsey: "The USGBC can move decisively and quickly to utilize this new energy standard and help architects and designers get credit where credit is due."
26. We could have submitted the new form for credit, along with a $500 resubmittal fee. But since we had already thrown a lot of money at LEED and weren't going to get Gold anyway, my bosses weren't keen to pay more money for a credit we clearly should have received.
27. Green Building Alliance, 2004. [18] p. 35-36.
28. The point-mongering solution would have been simple: create a space for an employee in a non-perimeter space -- perhaps locate a sales kiosk in the middle of the building, solely to capture the credit. But even we're not that cynical.
29. This final problem predates LEED and thus isn't really LEED's fault. It is, however, a major impediment to green building, and since both LEED and USGBC enable its continuance, we've included this discussion here.
30. J. Romm and Browning, W.D. 1994. "Greening the Building and the Bottom Line" [PDF]. Rocky Mountain Institute, Accessed February 2005. Vivian Loftness at Carnegie Mellon University has also published research on this topic.
31. Kats, G. 2003. "The Costs and Financial Benefits of Green Building" www.usgbc.org/Docs/news/news477.pdf [PDF]. Prepared by Capital E for the California Sustainble Building Task Force. Summary in The Pittsburgh Papers: Best of Greenbuild 2003. BuildingGreen, Inc. p. 7. Accessed February 2005.
32. It's particularly not a win-win for speculative builders who don't intend to own their projects, and thus won't benefit from energy savings.
33. For the same reason, at Aspen Skiing Company we justify lighting retrofits based solely on energy savings -- ignoring the eventual labor savings from longer bulb-replacement cycles.
34. For example, the Pittsburgh Green Building Alliance report [PDF] cited above. Also see the American Forest and Paper Association's "The Impact of LEED 2.1 on Wood Markets" [PDF].
35. Personal communication, March 24, 2004.
36. Stein, J. and R. Reiss. 2004. "LEED Scores Early Successes but Faces Big Challenges." E Source. Paper ER-04-03 Tech. March. p. 1. That and other resources are available for purchase from Platts.
37. Personal communication, March 24, 2004.
38. LEED is most often discussed as a certification program, but it really seeks to be a "label." One very successful labeling program in recent years has been Energy Star, which has worked in part because its objectives are achievable; the program is collaborative. If the label or imprimatur is LEED's value, it makes sense for the USGBC to nitpick applications, since each new certification, in a sense, deflates the value of those coming before. But the best labeling programs see themselves as change agents. Looking ahead, will anyone give a fig about, say, the 3,228th building to receive LEED certification? Sooner or later, this won't even merit press attention. LEED's overarching goal should be to transform the entire market, not certify or label individual buildings. Think of the label as a means to an end, not the end itself.
39. Stein, J. and R. Reiss. 2004. [10] p.1

- - - - - - - - - -
By Auden Schendler and Randy Udall

Auden Schendler, a LEED-accredited professional, is director of environmental affairs at Aspen Skiing Company. Aspen Skiing Company has won more than 25 awards for pioneering sustainable business practices in the ski industry, including green construction, climate protection, energy efficiency, ISO 14001 certification, sustainability reporting, employee-supported environmental philanthropy, use of biodiesel in snowcats, wind power purchases, environmental education, and political activism. He can be emailed at
Randy Udall directs the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Aspen, Colo. CORE promotes renewable energy and energy efficiency in partnership with two local utilities. In 1998, CORE started the nation's first "solar production incentive" program, and in 2000, the world's first renewable-energy mitigation program, which has raised more than $3 million. The group's efforts will keep more than one billion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere over the next 20 years. He can be emailed at

Grist Magazine www.grist.org

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BIG DEAL: Coal, neither clean nor cheap

THE relentless rise of petroleum prices in the world market has spurred the development and adoption of alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, biomass, geother­mal power and biofuels. Unfortunately, high oil prices have also made expanding the use of another fossil fuel—coal—seem to make economic sense. Does it?

“There is no such thing as cheap coal just as there is no such thing as clean coal,” said Red Constantino of Greenpeace Southeast Asia at a recent interview. “Coal damages human lives, the economy and contributes to climate change, the greatest threat facing mankind today.”

Greenpeace is calling on the government to stop the expansion of coal in the country, Constantino added. “Instead we should harvest our abundant clean renewable energy sources.”

What sort of damage does coal inflict on people’s lives, and how much? For the answers to these questions, Greenpeace called our attention to the plight of residents of several municipalities in Quezon province.

Last week townsfolk of several Quezon municipalities including Agdangan, Padre Burgos and Pagbilao gathered outside a coal-fired power plant in the eastern Luzon province built and operated by the US-based Mirant Corp. On a hill where the smokestack of the 735-megawatt Mirant facility casts an ominous shadow they conducted a ceremony to seek justice and put an end to their suffering, which they blamed on the coal-fired power plant.

At the same rites Greenpeace released the findings of a new research, which detected evidence that the Pagbilao coal plant emits hazardous substances such as mercury, arsenic and lead. Titled “Bringing Calamities to Communities: Coal-fired Power Plants and Mirant,” the Greenpeace research also indicated that the external cost—the total damage to human lives, health, livelihood, crops, environment and carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change—of all coal power plants in the Philippines amounts to P141 billion ($2.5 billion or Eu2.1 billion) a year.

The external cost of Mirant’s Pagbilao coal plant alone reaches up to P27 billion ($480 million or Eu400 million) annually, the second highest in the country, Greenpeace said.

In contrast, wind energy, which is so abundant in the Philippines, exhibited the lowest external cost at 0.16 cen­tavos a kilowatt-hour produced. Ilocos Norte already has several windmills that generate electricity for that northern Luzon province.

At the Pagbilao rites, residents and civil society groups marched to the coal plant and delivered a 10-foot cross at the gate in a symbolic request to the American company to take back the burden its coal plant has placed on the people of Quezon and the massive external costs Filipino taxpayers have to shoulder.

“We beseech you to stop this oppression and stop the expansion of this coal plant,” said Fr. Raul Enriquez, chair of Kaakbay, a civil society coalition in Quezon.

“We want accountability from Mirant and the government,” the priest said. “They must show responsibility for the suffering of our people. Only if there’s truth, justice and accountability can there be genuine hope for our country.”

Greenpeace said the government has closed its eyes to the damage caused by coal-fired plants and is even allowing the expansion of such facilities in the country. This policy, the environmental group said, would further “slap onto Filipinos up to P38.7 billion [$690 million or Eu587 million] of projected annual external costs.”

Mirant alone is set to expand the generating capacity—and, therefore, the consumption of coal—of its Pagbilao plant by 300 MW.

Greenpeace is as an “independent campaigning organization that uses nonviolent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.” For more information, visit www.greenpeace.org.ph.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) mandates the privatization of the state-owned National Power Corp. In order to purportedly expedite this process, the national government has already absorbed P200 million of Napocor’s debts to help clean the firm’s books for privatization.

Still Napocor has taken out some $100-million worth of IOUs, about P5.6 billion at the current exchange rate—with an interest rate about 100 basis points over the current rates for Philippine borrowings. So huge were its borrowings Napocor raised the gross international reserves of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas almost single-handedly.

The problem is that we taxpayers would have to foot the bill that Napocor has been running up. Thanks to the borrowings incurred by this and other state entities, the national debt continues to balloon, wrecking havoc on the economy and any chance it might have at recovery.

So far this year the Arroyo administration has contracted P130-billion worth of foreign loans to pay for maturing debts, including those incurred by Napocor. Locally, it is borrowing P350 billion more. Ultimately, we taxpayers have pay for this P500-billlion mess, which has bloated the government’s budgetary deficit. This is where a large share of the expanded value-added tax that the government starts collecting next month will go.

Many economists and financial experts are convinced that the single biggest step the country can take to haul itself out of its debt trap is to privatize Napocor power plants, not next year or three years down the line but ASAP.

by Dan Mariano
Manila Times www.manilatimes.net

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Partial analysis of the environmental costs generated by hotels in Hong Kong

This paper investigates the environmental costs attributable to the various activities involved in operating a hotel such as energy usage, water consumption, and solid waste disposal. A control cost approach and a pro-rated model were used in environmental costing. A holistic analysis of the environmental costs was then made. It was found that, in the early 1990s, the environmental costs incurred in controlling air pollution was higher than for other types of pollution. However, the situation changed during the late 1990s as the government invested more in building large-scale sewage treatment systems and landfills. At present, the environmental costs attributable to water protection and solid waste management have been larger than the environmental costs of air pollution. This implies that hotel operators should place a greater focus on mitigating the pressure on the environment from the consumption of water and disposal of solid waste. Also based on the methodologies, recommendations on environmental accounting on three levels are made.

Keywords: Environmental cost; Environmental accounting; Depreciation; Report

by Wilco W. Chan; School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong; Tel.: +852 2766 6347; Fax: +852 2362 9362.

International Journal of Hospitality Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 24, Issue 4; December 2005; pages 517-531

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Environmental abuse costs RP P141 B yearly

The external costs or the damages to human lives and the environment due to the operation of coal plants was reportedly bleeding Filipinos by P141 billion a year, an environmental group revealed.

Red Constantino, Southeast Asia's regional energy campaigner of the environmentalist group, Greenpeace, said the government should stop the expansions of coal plants in the country, one of which was planned in the Soccsksargen area, before it would cause further damages to the environment and the lives of local residents.

"There is no such thing as cheap coal, just as there's no such thing as clean coal. Coal damages human lives, the economy and contributes to climate change, the gravest threat facing mankind today. Instead we should harvest our abundant clean renewable energy sources," Constantino said in a statement emailed to MindaNews.

In a new research on coal plants released by Greenpeace earlier this week, the multibillion external costs out of the operations of the coal plants have been actually hounding Filipino taxpayers.

The research, entitled "Bringing Calamities to Communities: Coal-fired power plants and Mirant," cited that the external costs of Mirant Corporation's Pagbilao coal plant alone reached up to P27 billion annually.

A study on the operations of some coal plants in the country showed that they emit hazardous substances such as mercury, arsenic and lead.

In contrast, it cited that wind energy, considered abundant in the Philippines, showed the lowest external cost at 0.16 centavos per kilowatt hour produced.

It warned that the expansion of coal plants may cost the country's coffer another P38.7 billion in external costs.

Citing the external cost study conducted by the European Commission (EC) in 2003 on different types of power generation, the Greenpeace study cited that coal-fired power plants registered the highest external cost.

"External costs arise when the social or economic activities of, say, a power station, have an impact on a set of people and when that impact is not fully accounted, or compensated for, by the power plant," Greenpeace explained. Thus, it said, a power station that would generate sulfur dioxide or mercury emissions, causing damages to human health, "imposes an external cost".

"Environmental costs are thus externalized because, although they are real costs to members of society, the owner of the power station is not taking them into account when making decisions related to his economic activities," the study said.

It added that the EC study has considered the climate change impacts, human mortality (i.e. reduction in life expectancy, cancers), human morbidity (i.e. respiratory hospital admissions, restricted activity days, congestive heart failure), its impacts on building materials (i.e. aging of galvanized steel, paint), crops (i.e. changes in yields caused by nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, trioxide and acid deposition), amenity losses due to noise or spoliation of aesthetics, and the impacts of acid and nitrogen deposition on ecosystems.

In June, the Department of Energy (DoE) announced that it has awarded four additional contracts to three companies. One of them operates in Mindanao, the Bonanza Energy Resources Inc., which was awarded a contract for eight blocks of coal areas in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani.

DOE had also awarded coal operating contracts to MG Mining and Energy Corp. for some areas in South Cotabato. DOE officials said they pushed for the development of the coal resources in three provinces to establish a supply base for the coal needs of the proposed 150-200 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat that is expected to become operational by 2008.

Constantino said the government should prioritize the development of the renewable energy sources saying they offer energy security, jobs and real environmental protection. The Greenpeace has also called on government to generate 10 percent of the country's energy supply from the sun, wind and modern biomass by 2010.

It said that a study conducted by the United States' National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that the Philippine wind energy resource potential of around 76,000 MW can supply over seven times the current power demand of the country.

By Allen V. Estabillo
MindaNews www.mindanews.com

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Motor Industry Sustainability Report

The Society For Motor Manufacturers And Traders has published the motor industry's sixth annual sustainability report. Towards Sustainability 2005 highlights progress towards economic goals, as well as improvements made in environmental performance.

Economic highlights include overall turnover which rose from £46 billion to £47 billion in 2004. Manufacturers produced 1.86 million vehicles and buyers registered 2.95 million new models. The value of UK automotive exports was boosted to £22.5 billion, with £955 million spent on business research and development.

The report shows progress in environmental performance - less energy is now being used to produce each vehicle. Since 2001, the figure has almost halved at production sites, from 4.3 to 2.5 MWh. In addition, the industry is improving productivity and creating less waste for landfill. In 2004, 70% less waste was produced per vehicle than in 2001.

For new cars, carbon dioxide emissions continue to fall. In 2004, the average new car emitted 171.4g/km, a decline from 189.9g/km in 1997. The proportion of models sold with a CO2 figure lower than 140g/km is also rising, up to 15.5% of the total 2004 market compared with 2003. Fuel consumption figures are also improving, up from an average of 34.5 in 1998 to 37.9mpg in 2004.

"We were proud to be the first industry to publish a sustainability report and are committed to reporting annually," said SMMT Chief Executive Christopher Macgowan. "As well as making real progress towards sustainable mobility, it is important that we are absolutely transparent about where we are succeeding and where improvements have to be made."

The full report can be downloaded from www.smmt.co.uk.


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01:58:16 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Latin America, Savings, 420 words   English (US)

Argentina angling to join biofuels race

Armed with 12 tonnes of soybeans, a young Argentine engineer named Edmundo Defferrari can produce enough fuel in one day to fill the tanks of five soy trucks.

Backed by local seed company Don Mario, Defferrari developed a biodiesel plant prototype in Chacabuco, Buenos Aires province, at a cost of 450,000 pesos ($152, 000).

The engineer's goal is to sell similar plants to farmers who are anxious to lower their fuel costs or even achieve self-sufficiency in the face of soaring oil prices.

"The farm sector consumes 76 percent of diesel in Argentina and farming is done throughout the nation. So we have an enormous logistical advantage because we consume fuel in the same place where we could produce it," Defferrari said.

"This would reduce not only freight costs but also pollution," he added.

The cost of this biodiesel is 70 centavos per liter (about 95 U.S. cents per gallon), roughly half of what conventional diesel costs at the pump.

Analysts say biodiesel is the renewable fuel with the most promise in Argentina, the world's top exporter of soyoil and sunflower seed oil.

Biodiesel is made with vegetable oils -- such as soy, sunseed, rapeseed or palm oil -- and animal fats, and it can be used purely or blended with conventional diesel.

As the world's No.2 corn exporter, Argentina is also well-positioned to develop ethanol, an alternative to gasoline that is made with corn or sugar cane. Neighboring Brazil is the world's top ethanol producer and exporter.

"With ethanol production, everything adds value to corn because when the starch is extracted and converted into ethanol, leftover proteins remain as a concentrate that can be used for animal feed," said Gustavo Vergagni, an analyst with V&A Desarrollos Empresarios consultancy.


With 12 tonnes of soybeans, the small plant in Chacabuco -- some 145 miles west of Buenos Aires -- produces about 1,400 liters (364 gallons) of biodiesel and 10.2 tonnes of expellers, which are used for animal feed.

Bionerg, the company created by Defferrari and Don Mario, is focused for now on addressing farmers' needs. But it does not rule out producing biodiesel on a larger scale as the international context for biofuels improves.

Analysts say measures being taken worldwide that require the blending of fossil fuels with biofuels will ensure rising demand in coming years.

In the European Union, for example, all fuels must contain a minimum of 5.75 percent of biofuels by the year 2010.


By Karina Grazina
Reuters via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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Bridge to Link Sicily with Europe: The world's longest suspension bridge is set for 2012

When Silvio Berlusconi was running for prime minister of Italy in 2001 he announced that he was going to build a bridge linking the island of Sicily to the European Continent. People believed him and he was elected. And now, after some years, his dream could come true in 2012.

Legislators and private enterprises are joining forces to build the longest suspension bridge in the world. The preliminary project is 3,300 meters long with a 60-meter span.

The bridge will be composed of three box sections -- two lateral ones for the roadway deck and a central one for the railway tracks. The deck's roadway section has three 3.75-meter wide lanes in each direction (two driving lanes and one emergency lane). The railway section has two tracks and two lateral pedestrian sidewalks.

The height of the two towers was set at 382.60 meters to allow for a navigation clearance with a minimum height of 65 meters -- in the presence of maximum load conditions -- and a 600-meter width; the height of the deck's anchoring on the Sicilian side was lowered by 11 meters, which will have a beneficial impact on the environment.

This project will mean 20.3 kilometers of road links and 19.8 kilometers of railways links will connect the bridge with already existing stations. In this way, the new bridge will connect the mainland roads of the Salermo-Reggio Calabria highway and Naples-Reggio Calabria high speed railway line.

On the island side, the Messina-Palermo and Messina-Catania highways, as well as the Messina railway station, will be built by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana. The project will not be finished before 2012 and it's designed to work for at least 200 years, even if an eventual 7.1 Richter earthquake hits the Italian coast.

Environmental Impact

On June 2003, the Ministry of the Environment's Special Committee for Environmental Impact Assessment approved the project. Comparing the two methods to cross the stretch (bridge or ferry), it found the bridge solution to be the best one for the following reasons: drastic reduction in exhaust gas emissions; important time savings in crossing the Strait (time savings for railway passengers are an average of two hours and for cars and trucks approximately one hour); large reduction in urban area congestion; higher degree of socioeconomic integration of urban areas along the Strait; positive effects on the economy and employment.

During the six years the project will take to be completed, there will be an increase in employment by about 40,000 people.

Costs and Financial Plan

The project was first set at 4.8 billion euros, but after some negotiations it could be finally set at 4.6 billion euros. Besides, there will be an amount of 130 million euros for environmental compensation.

The financial plan includes no government contribution. Just 2.5 billion euros will be injected progressively during the construction period and the remaining 60 percent will be financed by many different loans from international financial markets.

In this way, the average tolls will be a little higher than in other places. The planned tariff will be between 5 euros (for motorcycles) and 80 euros (for full buses).

The results obtained from the cost/benefit analysis demonstrate the feasibility of the financial plan, guaranteeing shareholders an adequate return, without any contribution from the state.

Others Long Span Bridges Around the World

Although this will be the longest bridge in the world, and the only one including a railway line, there are some others already built working in perfect conditions. Akashi Kaikyo, in Japan, covers the route between Kobe and Naruto, was built in 1998 and is 1,991 meters long.

The famous Golden Gate Bridge is the seventh longest in the world, measuring 1,280 meters; built in 1937, it spans San Francisco Bay. The Hadong Namhae Bridge, set in South Korean locality of Pusan is 404 meters long and was built in 1973.

Bridge Facts

Length of the central span: 3,300 m.
Length of each side span: 183 m.
Lanes for each direction : one fast, one normal, one emergency.
Railway sections: two tracks.
Service sections: two independent lanes for service vehicles and pedestrians.
Navigation channel: 65 m in the central zone; 50 m in remaining zones.
Maximum traffic capacity: 3,000 vehicles/hour - 200 trains/day.

OHMY News International Technology http://english.ohmynews.com

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Legal, Companies, South, Regulatory Analysis, 165 words   English (US)

Electricity surcharge nixed by SCC: Appalachian Power Co. was told it can't charge customers for a cost not yet incurred.

The State Corporation Commission has determined that state law does not allow Appalachian Power Co. to recover costs that have not yet occurred.

The utility wanted the increase to pay for efforts to reduce air pollution from power plants that supply Virginia but are located in other states. The company also had hoped to recoup future costs for lines and equipment to add reliability to the system that delivers electricity to its 500,000 Virginia customers.

In total, the request was for $62.1 million. The SCC eliminated $48.6 million of that.

Appalachian's strategy was to raise prices on an interim basis by imposing a surcharge on customers' bills.

The request would have increased the cost of electricity 9.2 percent. All Virginia customers -- residential, commercial and industrial -- would have paid more.

A household that consumes 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, typical for an average residence, would have paid $5.31 more, or $63.18 a month.

By Lois Caliri

The Roanoke Times www.roanoke.com

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12:38:00 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Companies, 470 words   English (US)

PJM EIS Creates First Environmental Certificates for Electric Generation: 'GATS' Supports States' Emissions, Fuel Requirements

The nation's largest multi- state generation attributes tracking system has produced its first certificates for electricity generated from renewable resources. The certificates enable states to monitor compliance with green power requirements.

The system is called the Generation Attributes Tracking System (GATS). It tracks environmental and emissions attributes for electric generation in the PJM Interconnection region, which includes 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Data from the GATS show that electric suppliers meet states' requirements. Some states require a percentage of the electricity sold to be produced from renewable resources. Some require sellers of electricity to tell buyers what fuels were used to generate electricity or what emissions were created.

The GATS certificates help renewable generators obtain additional value for their renewable resources. The certificates for each megawatt-hour of renewable electricity can be sold to energy suppliers who must comply with state renewable portfolio standards. This revenue, which is on top of energy sales revenue, allows generators to capture the additional value of renewable generation.

The GATS provides state regulatory commissions, other state agencies and market participants with a single, regional, integrated system to document and track generation attributes. GATS also allows sellers of "green power" to document their power sources for consumers.

"Developing renewable energy is important for New Jersey to improve the environment and decrease reliance on fossil fuels," said Jeanne M. Fox, president, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. "Our renewable portfolio standards are designed specifically to foster the growth of renewable energy. GATS makes implementation of the standards possible."

"Developing and launching the GATS has been a win for everyone," said Kenneth W. Laughlin PJM EIS president. "It allows states to implement energy policy and it allows energy sellers to meet the state's requirements. It allows renewable generators to monetize the environmental value of their production."

Data in the GATS include megawatt-hours produced, emissions data, fuel source, location, state program qualification and ownership of attributes for each megawatt-hour tracked. A certificate is created for each megawatt-hour of electricity, which is then used to track the renewable attributes for possible purchase by system users.

Participation in the GATS is by paid subscription.

The PJM Interconnection region includes 51 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

PJM Environmental Information Services, Inc. (PJM EIS) owns and administers the Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS). PJM EIS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PJM Technologies, Inc. PJM EIS was formed to provide environmental and emissions attributes reporting and tracking services to its subscribers in support of renewable portfolio standards and other information disclosure requirements that may be implemented by government agencies. Visit PJM EIS at http://www.pjm-eis.com.

PRNewswire http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews

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Eco-friendly school design costs more, but reduces energy bills

With its picturesque cupola and windowed, limestone-colored roof, Rashkis Elementary School sure looks pretty from the outside.

But pretty doesn't matter so much to the people who run it.

They like what it does - or more accurately, doesn't do. Rashkis is one of the most environmentally friendly schools in the state.

Rashkis, which opened in 2003, is one of two Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools designed for high performance - meaning that virtually everything on the building is designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

A high school scheduled to open in 2007 will expand upon the features, possibly making it the most environmentally friendly school in the state.

"The lower the impact on the environment, the better job we're doing," said Steve Scroggs, the school district's assistant superintendent for support services. "We're out there exploring almost every possible avenue."

While Chapel Hill-Carrboro undoubtedly is ahead of the game - having opened its first high-performance school, Smith Middle, in 2001 - districts across the state and nation are catching on.

Durham's Creekside Elementary School, which opened in January, has enormous windows that allow sun to light the building instead of bulbs. Orange County's new middle school, slated to open next August, will have daylighting and solar panels, similar to Smith Middle.

But what's unique about Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Scroggs said, is the school board's policy - adopted in 2000 - requiring district officials to include every possible green feature in new schools.

Among other things, they must reduce the use of water, conserve natural resources, limit excessive noise and provide high-efficiency lighting, heating and cooling.

Other schools, including Durant Middle School in Wake County, have one or two of the features, such as daylighting. But few have as many as Smith, Rashkis or the new high school will have.

Much of the reason is cost.

Scroggs estimated that the new high school's features added an extra $1 million to the project. At Smith, daylighting added $158,098.

But, Scroggs said, using less energy saves money in the long run.

"Are they saving money? Absolutely. There is absolutely no question about that," he said.

Officials estimate that Smith saves the district about $76,000 a year in energy costs. It consumes more than 50,000 fewer British thermal units per year than each of the three other middle schools in the district.


The Herald-Sun of Durham www.herald-sun.com via Myrtle Beach Online www.myrtlebeachonline.com

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An assessment of governmental wind power programmes in Sweden—using a systems approach

The purpose of this paper is to assess the effects, the cost efficiency, and the goal achievement of policy instruments aimed for the development and deployment of wind power in Sweden during the period 1975 to 2000. The paper presents an empirical example of a socio-technical system-based approach for impact assessment, in which changes in the wind power system are described and analysed with respect to technology development, cost development and actors’ involvement. The results show that the policy instruments were not designed to have a broad, system-oriented perspective but targeted and included restricted technology concepts—i.e. large, two-bladed turbines—and limited involvement of actors. The assessment shows that early inflexible steering of technology and market development, together with a lack of comprehensive, long-term strategy, lack of continuity in policy interventions and weak combinations of policy programmes and measures have contributed to a very limited wind power development in Sweden. A rough cost efficiency analysis reveals that Sweden has much less wind power installed in relation to expenditures on various support than Germany and Spain. The Swedish policy instruments did, however, achieve the Government's goals to increase wind energy production.

Keywords: Policy instruments; Wind power; Assessment

by K. Åstrand 1 and L. Neij 2
1. Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund University, Gerdag. 13, 223 62 Lund, Sweden; Tel.: +46-46-222-86-45; fax: +46-46-222-86-44
2. International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University, P.O. Box 196, 221 00 Lund, Sweden

Energy Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 34, Issue 3, February 2006, pages 277-296
Renewable Energy Policies in the European Union special issue

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Transportation, California, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 511 words   English (US)

Port to cut smog by buying old trucks, extending hours

Port of Oakland officials hope to dramatically reduce air pollution by helping truckers buy vehicles with cleaner diesel engines and by opening the port's gates in the evening and wee hours of the morning,

In September, officials at the nation's fourth busiest port launched a $2 million program to get as many as 80 older-model trucks off the road.

Truckers who haul goods in and out of the port are eligible for up to $25,000 each to replace trucks from 1986 or earlier with new or used trucks no older than the 1999 model year. A 2005 model big rig can cost as much as $125,000, but used trucks that are four or five years old are substantially cheaper, ranging in cost from $25,000 to $45,000.

A few weeks earlier, the port extended the closing time at one of its busiest terminals from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. The three-month experiment is geared to reducing traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution on streets around the port and on Interstate 880, by allowing truckers handling exports to do business during off hours.

Port officials contend reducing truck traffic is essential to slashing the level of emissions from their facility. They are especially targeting particulate matter coming from diesel engines, and nitrogen oxide, a mixture of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide that is a major contributor to photochemical smog.

Both diesel particulates and nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory irritation and ailments, including asthma and lung cancer. In addition, nitrogen dioxide - best known for producing the yellowish-brown color of smog - is harmful to vegetation and reduces visibility.

The efforts come just as a draft of a study has been released by the California Air Resources Board revealing that pollution emitted by activity in and around the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach significantly elevate the risk of cancer in people living within 15 miles of the facilities.

A 2002 study by The Pacific Institute found diesel particulate levels to be much higher in the West Oakland neighborhood surrounding the port than in other parts of Alameda County.

Tim Leong, the Port of Oakland's environmental scientist and manager of its truck replacement project, said the Oakland program is a "win-win" for the port, truckers and the surrounding community.

"It's cost effective for us to assist truckers in getting these older vehicles off the road," he said, noting the resulting improvement in air quality. The port will cover up to 72 percent of a truck's purchase price, so if a vehicle costs $25,000, truckers will not get the full amount.

Leong said replacing a vehicle from the early 1980s that is driven 40,000 miles a year with a 2001 model will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 55 percent and diesel particulates by up to 90 percent, compared to emissions from the older truck.

Those seeking incentives beyond the societal benefit of cleaner air could count much-improved gas mileage and lower maintenance costs as major advantages, Leong said.

by David Goll



East Bay Business Times www.bizjournals.com/eastbay

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It’s an airtight case: New green building is very energy efficient

The new building at 228 E. Third St. was open to visitors earlier this month. People sat in the unfinished ground floor on stacks of foam insulation and heard architect Chris Benedict and mechanical systems designer Henry Gifford explain how their building uses 85 percent less energy to heat than a building with ordinary construction, all for the same price.

As The Villager reported over a year ago, Mary Spink, executive director of the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Assocition, is developing 228 E. Third St. and three other buildings with Benedict and Gifford as low-income housing. These buildings will rent to tenants making less than 50 percent of median income. For Spink, the logic behind an energy-efficient, “green” building is practical. “We have an affordability clause for 99 years,” she says. “If you’re going to do that, you have to save some money.”

The building at 228 E. Third St. is now virtually complete. Benedict is waiting for the Department of Buildings to issue a temporary certificate of occupancy, which is needed to allow tenants to move in. Benedict and Gifford estimate the building will use 15 percent of the energy of an average new building for heat and hot water, and 50 percent less electricity for the common areas.

They have achieved these savings using standard, off-the-shelf construction products. Outside, Benedict designed the facade with a layer of insulation inserted between the brick exterior and the concrete block of the structure. This design prevents heat loss, and the insulation allows any water to drain out, preventing water damage.

Inside, the apartments are airtight, individually ventilated, and individually temperature-controlled. Benedict tests each apartment for air leaks. Any leaks are identified and sealed.

The boiler, designed by Gifford, is similar to a system he installed for Spink at 535 E. Fifth St. There, in a building with no other “green” features, the boiler uses 23 percent of the energy of a standard building. Gifford measured the boiler on the coldest day of the year. It was running at precisely 100 percent capacity, and the tenants were comfortable. A standard boiler, he says, would run at a maximum of 20 percent to 30 percent capacity.

A small boiler means the boiler room can go on the roof, eliminating the need to excavate basement space for it. Airsealing the apartments also creates a firestop and soundproofs the apartments.

By Anthony Weiss



The Villager www.thevillager.com
Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

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Windfall? No, but Savings Ahead: The soaring costs of coal- and gas-fired power plants will allow wind-energy customers to pocket other benefits of their investment.

Tom DeMoulin was not expecting a bargain when he began buying his electricity from wind farms in the late 1990s. In fact, the community college instructor paid an extra $5 a month to his local utility to strike a blow against the coal- and gas-fired power plants that spew pollution across the Southwest.

But starting next month, DeMoulin's conscience-driven decision will save him money. Because of skyrocketing natural gas and coal prices, Colorado's 29,000 wind-energy customers for the first time will pay less than Xcel Energy's 1.3 million customers who use conventionally generated power.

After the savings was announced Wednesday, Xcel signed up as many customers for its Windsource program in one day as it normally does in two months. The surge in interest is the latest example of rising energy costs making wind power increasingly attractive to consumers.

In Edmond, Okla., wind-power users now pay less than other customers. The wind program in Austin, Texas, known as GreenChoice, will cost less than conventional power beginning in January. Makers of wind turbines report being sold out until 2008.

"It's a pretty momentous occasion for those of us in the renewable energy business," said Dan Lieberman of the Center for Resource Solutions in San Francisco, referring to the Colorado situation. "It's been the lean years, but now it's the fat years."

The price of natural gas tripled in the last three years, even before hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed prices even higher. The price of coal, the other fossil fuel used to generate electricity, has also shot up. Many energy experts see prices remaining high, and say the new savings to wind customers suggest a fundamental shift.

"Is it possibly a tipping point? Absolutely," said Ryan H. Wiser, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "We have a circumstance where wind-power generation looks pretty competitive."

There are still many obstacles to wind power. Because wind farms need vast open space, they are often situated far from the areas that consume their power, with long-distance transmission driving up costs. In addition, they do not generate power continuously.

"We're not going to see 100% wind for two reasons," said Severin Borenstein, director of the UC Energy Institute in Berkeley. "There are limited areas where you can install wind economically. And the wind doesn't blow all the time."

Still, he said, the recent run-ups in natural gas prices are a big factor. "That has really changed the economics," Borenstein said.

Wiser said he had conducted a study of 12 major utilities showing that wind was increasingly being added to the generation mix.

The changes in Colorado and Austin, home to the two largest green power programs in the nation, are especially significant, analysts say.

The two utilities are among the few that pass savings from green power on to their customers. Most utilities charge customers who use environmentally friendly power the same base rate they charge those who use gas- or coal-fueled electricity, plus a premium, Lieberman said.

Wind power's cost-effectiveness varies by region. Xcel Energy's Minnesota wind program, for example, is still more expensive than its conventional program, because much of its electricity is generated by nuclear power, which has not seen price hikes comparable to those of natural gas and coal.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power allows residential customers to purchase a maximum of 20% of their power from environmentally friendly sources, which also include solar energy. Because the DWP's conventionally generated electricity relies on hydroelectric and nuclear sources, along with coal and gas, it remains less expensive than green power, spokeswoman Kim Hughes said.

The DWP gets 5% of its electricity from environmentally friendly sources and plans to boost that to 20% by 2010. Private California utilities must meet that goal by 2017, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is contemplating raising the percentage. Hughes said that was why green power would make more economic sense in the future.

"As you see lots of different utilities moving to renewables, I think that will spur innovation that will bring the cost down," Hughes said.

Advocates say the cost stability of wind power, compared with the fluctuations of coal and gas, is one of its best attributes.

In Austin, the utility offers its wind customers a guaranteed rate for 10 years, and 400 businesses have taken that deal, including a branch of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Advanced Micro Devices, which signed up two weeks ago. "We thought it was a really good business decision," said Lee Reznicek, the company's environmental health and safety manager. The move is projected to save $4 million over 10 years, Reznicek said, adding that the company is happy to help the environment as well.

In Colorado, 45% of Xcel's power comes from coal-fired plants and 48% from natural gas. Socked with high fuel costs, the utility will raise rates by $116 million for its conventional customers starting in November. That's what will enable Windsource customers to save an average of $10 per month.

By Nicholas Riccardi


Los Angeles Times www.latimes.com

12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, Northeast, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 579 words   English (US)

Easy Being green

A “green house” benefits the environment — and pads your pocketbook with extra green, says builder John Harris.

“When you really want to go green building or fixing up a home, there’s a lot you can do,” he says. “Most of these products save you money in the long run.”

To prove his point, he rattles off examples of simple energy-efficient items such as programmable thermostats that automatically adjust your home’s temperature while you are away. Ceiling fans, extra insulation and double-pane windows are other affordable products that can be retrofitted into existing homes.

Harris and his wife Debbie have taken environmental health and energy savings to the next level, designing and constructing their house with the latest in green technology and materials. Debbie also worked clutter-clearing extras into the house shelves, benches, closets and drawers that utilize every nook and cranny for organizing a busy lifestyle.

The home is one of 18 custom-built, fully furnished and landscaped models in Broad Creek, a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood owned by the Norfolk Housing & Redevelopment Authority in Norfolk, Va. House prices range from $170,000 to $500,000.

From foundation to insulation to illumination, the Harris house shows you how green products make life comfortable.

Some of those choices cannot be readily seen. For instance, there’s an instant hot water unit tucked away in the attic. Instead of a conventional hot water storage tank, the tankless Bosch unit is shaped and sized like an oversized gift box. It’s small enough to fit in a linen closet, garage corner or anywhere you want to put it, as long as it can be vented for gas hookup. The unit costs $1,500 or less, depending whether you have gas or not, but will save you $250 to $500 a year for a family of four, says Harris.

“I’ve seen these units in Lowe’s for $400, so they are really coming down in price,” he says of other models on the market.

“It’s an endless supply of hot water; you can run it 24 hours a day.”
The attic in the Harris house is also where you see sprayed-in foam — an improved version of that foam-in-the-can kind — that seals gaps everywhere it’s applied, including around electrical outlets and light switches.

“The house is sealed tight for drafts,” he says. “If you want a breeze, you open the windows.”

Rafters and the undersides of roofing material in the attic are spray painted with E-Barrier, a reflective coating that reduces heat buildup in that storage space. The paint, made by Sherwin Williams, costs $40 a gallon and covers about 400 square feet.

Other energy-efficient features in the house — framed with 2-by-6 studs instead of the typical 2-by-4s to allow for more wall insulation — include R19 batt-type insulation instead of the standard R13 value, windows that withstand stronger winds and ductwork wrapped in thicker insulation. There are also recycled woods, high-efficiency appliances, extra air return vents and 9-foot ceilings for improved air circulation and a UV light kit in the downstairs heat system to kill off bacteria and mold.

Harris says using many of these products in new construction increases the overall cost about 10 to 15 percent.

But, it’s not just about saving money he says. It’s also about giving our children a healthy and viable future.

“I’ve got a 5-year-old and I respect what we need to do for them,” he says

The Rutland Herald.com www.rutlandherald.com


EU clean air strategy

In Short:

In September 2005, the Commission presented a strategy to reduce air pollution in Europe targetting five main pollutants. The key new elements of the strategy is to extend clean air laws into new sectors - including agriculture and transport - that were not covered before. The strategy is expected to cost the 25-nation bloc some €7.1 billion every year, down from the €12 billion initially proposed by Environment Commissioner Dimas. But the health benefits alone will be fivefold, he said.

Latest & next steps:
* A revision of the National Emissions Ceilings Directive is to be submitted to bring it in line with new objectives of the strategy
* Before end 2005: Commission to table 'Euro 5' proposal to cut pollution from all new cars and vans
* 2006: Parliament and Council to examine Ambient Air Quality directive
* 2006: Commission expected to table air quality law applicable to trucks and buses (called 'Euro 6')
* 2010: 'Euro 5' standards expected to come into force
* 2020: Target date for attaining the overall strategy's objectives


The 'Thematic Strategy on air pollution', was due for adoption by the College of Commissioners in July but was postponed due to pressure from commissioners who argued that Europe's economic woes need to be tackled ahead of environmental concerns (EurActiv, 5 July 2005).

Following a July orientation debate in the College of Commissioners, Dimas was given permission to present his air pollution and other environmental strategies before the end of 2005 (EurActiv, 22 July 2005).

There are seven 'thematic strategies' due to be adopted under the Commission's 6th environmental action programme of 2002 (see EurActiv LinksDossier).


The level of ambition of a proposed strategy to cut air pollution has had to be lowered after harsh internal negotiations with pro-business colleagues, Environment Commissioner Dimas said as he presented his plan on 21 September.

The cost of the strategy is now estimated at 7.1 billion euros per annum until 2020, a significant decrease from the 11.6 billion initially envisaged before the summer when the plan was postponed by the College of Commissioners.

"It is a compromise," Dimas admitted as he presented the strategy in Brussels on Wednesday (21 September). "We had to further decrease our level of ambition," he said, adding that he "tried very hard to bring the benefits to the fore in the discussion" with colleagues.

According to estimates from Dimas's environment directorate, the strategy would help reduce the number of deaths caused by air pollution from ultra fine dust particles and ozone "from 370,000 a year in 2000 to 230,000 in 2020". The related health benefits [fewer premature deaths, less sickness, fewer hospital admissions, improved labour productivity etc.] would be "worth at least €42 billion per year". This is five times as much as the costs, Dimas underlined.

Pollution reduction targets had to be scaled down compared to the original plan proposed by Dimas. Targets for reducing average concentrations of ultra fine dust particles - also known as or PM 2.5 - in ambient air were brought down to 75% instead of 80%. For ozone, concentrations would need to be reduced by only 60% instead of the 80% initially foreseen, Dimas indicated.

EurActiv www.euractiv.com

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08:44:41 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, West, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 103 words   English (US)

Truck stops new way for big rigs to plug in reduces pollution

As early as next summer, a truck stop off Interstate 82 will become one of just three statewide with a power system designed to save fuel and cut down on air pollution.

Under a state Department of Ecology program, truckers will be able to tap into special electric outlets that can power their microwave ovens, refrigerators and televisions for about $1 an hour.

That's far less than the $3 per hour in diesel fuel it costs to keep a truck idling, Ecology spokesman Glenn Kuper said.

Full Story at http://www.yakima-herald.com/page/dis/293945462631095
by Pat Muir, 837-6111, muir@yakimaherald.com">pmuir@yakimaherald.com
Yakima Herald-Republic www.yakima-herald.com

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Landfill gas may fuel county buses: Methane produced by rotting garbage would be used in place of expensive natural gas

Sonoma County is pressing forward with plans to fuel its fleet of passenger buses with gas produced at the landfill, a program that transit officials are calling the first of its kind in the world.

Landfill gas is used to power refuse collection trucks in Los Angeles County, but state and federal transit agencies said they are unaware of any municipality outside of Sonoma County using landfill gas for passenger buses.

"If we pursue this to the point where the entire fleet is fueled by landfill gas, we would be the only one in the world, as far as I'm aware," said Ken Wells, the county's integrated waste manager.

Since 1993, the county has operated a system at the central landfill on Mecham Road that vacuums methane gas created by rotting garbage through pipes inserted into the landfill.

The gas is then used to power generators that create electricity. For years, the county has sold that electricity to PG&E and other customers.

But that system, which generates enough electricity to power the town of Windsor, is running at full capacity and cannot expand without spending millions of additional dollars, Wells said.

A proposal before the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 25 would spend $600,000 on a filtration system that would remove unwanted chemicals from the methane, producing a product little different from market-quality natural gas, officials said.

If approved, buses powered by compressed natural gas from the landfill are expected to be on the road this spring.

With natural gas prices increasing between 50 and 70 percent in the past year, county officials say that powering a test group of six of the county's 41 natural gas buses could save $200,000 a year.

The county had budgeted about $600,000 for natural gas costs this year, but the recent price spikes are expected to drive the actual cost up to $850,000, said Bryan Albee, the county's Transit Systems Manager.

Comparatively, the county paid about $200,000 to operate 24 natural gas buses in 2000.

The Press Democrat www1.pressdemocrat.com (Santa Rosa, CA)

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08:10:49 am, Categories: Air, 1047 words   English (US)

Cost effectiveness of complementary treatments in the United Kingdom: systematic review

2005;331:880-881 (15 October), doi:10.1136/bmj.38625.575903.79
by Peter H Canter, research fellow; Joanna Thompson Coon, research fellow; and Edzard Ernst, director of complementary medicine all of Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter EX2 4NT; correspondence to eter.canter@pms.ac.uk">peter.canter@pms.ac.uk


Cost effectiveness data form a crucial part of the debate surrounding the integration of complementary treatments into the NHS. To the authors knowledge, studies of the cost effectiveness of complementary therapies in the United Kingdom have not previously been reviewed.

Methods and results

Peter H Canter, Joanna Thompson Coon, and Edzard Ernst systematically searched seven electronic databases and included all prospective controlled studies, done in the UK before April 2005, of the cost effectiveness of complementary treatments (see bmj.com). The authors excluded cost minimisation studies because complementary treatments are insufficiently tested in the NHS to warrant the assumption that they are as effective as conventional treatments. Five studies, all randomised, were included, one of acupuncture for chronic headache and four of spinal manipulation for different types of spinal pain (table).

Cost effectiveness studies done in the United Kingdom before April 2005 of complementary treatments, excluding cost minimisation studies

Acupuncture was an effective addition to usual care for chronic headache.1 Total mean costs, omitting the cost of prescription drugs in the year long study, were higher with additional acupuncture (£403; $710; {euro}590) than for usual care (£217). Cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) for acupuncture in addition to usual care was estimated as £9,180.

The study by Meade et al compared individualised chiropractic spinal manipulation with Maitland mobilisation or manipulation provided by NHS outpatient clinics for back pain.2 Oswestry scores favoured chiropractic at six and 12 months and at two and three years. Direct costs of providing chiropractic and hospital based treatments in the year-long intervention were £165 and £111 per patient, respectively. More chiropractic patients subsequently sought further, uncosted, treatment for back pain.

Burton et al compared private individualised osteopathic spinal manipulation with chemonucleolysis for lumbar disc herniation.3 Both groups improved and health outcomes did not differ after a year. Annual savings per patient with manipulation, based on direct intervention costs and costs of treating therapeutic failure, were estimated as £300. Chemonucleolysis is a relatively expensive procedure, usually used when other conservative treatments have failed.

What is already known on this topic

The cost effectiveness of using complementary treatments in the United Kingdom has been the subject of much speculation and controversy

Rigorous cost effectiveness studies are needed

What this study adds

Cost effectiveness studies show that spinal manipulation and acupuncture represent an additional cost to usual care in the United Kingdom; estimates of cost per quality adjusted life year compare favourably with other treatments approved for use in the NHS, but it is not certain that the benefits are clinically relevant

Additional spinal manipulation in a primary care based osteopathy clinic was more effective than usual care alone for subacute spinal pain at two months but not at six months.4 Mean healthcare costs attributed to spinal pain for the six month trial were £129 for osteopathy and £64 for usual care. The authors estimated the cost as £3560 per QALY for osteopathy, but this was subject to a high random error.

The UK back pain exercise and manipulation trial compared Roland Morris disability scores after spinal manipulation, exercise classes, or manipulation followed by exercise in addition to care for chronic back pain by general practitioners.5 Exercise was superior to primary care at three months but not after a year. Manipulation and manipulation followed by exercise were significantly better than primary care at three and 12 months. Effect sizes were small to moderate. The mean incremental treatment cost relative to general practitioner care was £195 for manipulation, £140 for exercise, and £125 for combined treatment. The authors estimated the cost per QALY relative to general practitioner care as £3800 for combined treatment and £4800 for manipulation. Exercise alone was more expensive and achieved less than combined treatment.


Complementary treatments represent an additional healthcare cost in four out of the five rigorous cost effectiveness studies conducted in the UK. These studies are confined to acupuncture and spinal manipulation. Estimates of cost per QALY from three studies compare favourably with other treatments approved for use in the NHS, but for spinal manipulation the health benefits were small to moderate and are of questionable clinical significance. Measurement of costs was incomplete in all studies and omitted follow-on costs. Standard modelling methods were not used. Absence of blinding and sham control treatments may have increased non-specific treatment effects. Estimates of cost effectiveness may be less favourable in situations for which the complementary treatment is offered routinely rather than in the novel situation of a clinical trial.


1. Wonderling D, Vickers AJ, Grieve R, McCarney R. Cost effectiveness analysis of a randomised trial of acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care. BMJ 2004;328: 747.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
2. Meade TW, Dyer S, Browne W, Frank AO. Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain: results from extended follow up. BMJ 1995;311: 349-51.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
3. Burton AK, Tillotson KM, Cleary J. Single-blind randomised controlled trial of chemonucleolysis and manipulation in the treatment of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation. Eur Spine J 2000;9: 202-7.[CrossRef][ISI][Medline]
4. Williams NH, Edwards RT, Linck P, Muntz R, Hibbs R, Wilkinson C, et al. Cost-utility analysis of osteopathy in primary care: results from a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Fam Pract 2004;21: 643-50.[Abstract/Free Full Text]
5. UK BEAM Trial Team. United Kingdom back pain exercise and manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial: cost effectiveness of physical treatments for back pain in primary care. BMJ 2004;329: 1381.[Abstract/Free Full Text]

Related Articles

Complementary medicine in the UK seems cost effective; BMJ 2005 331: 0.

Keep politics out of it; Fiona Godlee; BMJ 2005 331: 0.

Complementary therapies and the NHS; Trevor Thompson and Gene Feder; BMJ 2005 331: 856-857.

United Kingdom back pain exercise and manipulation (UK BEAM) randomised trial: cost effectiveness of physical treatments for back pain in primary care; UK BEAM Trial Team; BMJ 2004 329: 1381.

Cost effectiveness analysis of a randomised trial of acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care; David Wonderling, Andrew J Vickers, Richard Grieve, and Rob McCarney; BMJ 2004 328: 747.

Randomised comparison of chiropractic and hospital outpatient management for low back pain: results from extended follow up; T W Meade, Sandra Dyer, Wendy Browne, and A O Frank; BMJ 1995 311: 349-351.

BMJ Journal http://bmj.bmjjournals.com

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Women's group helps convince VA hospital to stop incineration: Hospital looking at alternatives for dealing with waste

Paula Martinez had to close the windows in her North Boise apartment every Friday because of an unidentified, annoying smell. Her son Tyler would wake up the next morning with severe headaches.

Martinez learned in August that the smell was caused by an incinerator burning medical waste a few blocks away at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Now, thanks in part to her efforts and those of a small corps of Boise women, VA officials have stopped burning medical waste at its incinerator and are near a decision on whether to shut it down for good.

The incinerator meets state standards and has all the necessary permits.

But Women's Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based women's group that fights pollution, contends the incinerator turns the waste into gases containing arsenic, mercury, cadmium and cancer-causing chemicals it says threaten public health.

Maria Gonzales Mabbutt, the group's Boise coordinator, led a petition campaign that prompted VA officials to end incineration in Boise temporarily and possibly for good. VA officials had refused to meet with the women or even discuss the issue earlier this year, Mabbutt said.

But a VA official said an internal committee was already examining alternatives to incinerating gowns, bandages and other materials that came in contact with body fluids in the hospital that serves Idaho veterans.

"When their interest came to us it accelerated our process, no doubt,'' said James Sola, VA Medical Center associate director.

Martinez circulated petitions at work because she is convinced the pollution from the incinerator caused her 13-year-old son Tyler's headaches. When she learned the hospital had decided to end incineration, even temporarily, she was pleased.

"That is very satisfying," said Martinez.

The VA's Sola said they share many of the concerns of their neighbors.

"Hey, we live here, too," he said. "This is a health care facility after all."

No burning has taken place since Aug. 26, Sola said. But Mabbutt learned only recently that the hospital had quit.

The waste is now sent to a commercial incinerator in Elmore County. Eventually, the hospital may send it to less-polluting commercial incinerators out of state, Sola said, just as is done with medical waste from St. Luke's Regional Medical Center and Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. Both hospitals were fined for their incinerator operations in the early 1990s before giving them up.

St. Luke's quit incinerating 10 to 15 years ago, said Catie Holm, a hospital spokeswoman. Constantly changing regulations and concern from neighbors led to the change. Today, shipping to a commercial incinerator in Utah costs St. Luke's about $120,000 to $130,000 annually.

Saint Al's quit incinerating medical waste in 1992, said Dave Ensunsa, a Saint Al's spokesman. The hospital was looking at a $1.5 million upgrade with changing regulations, and shipping the waste to Utah was "more cost-efficient," Ensunsa said.

Mercy Medical Center in Nampa and West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell also have quit incinerating waste, and instead ship it elsewhere.

At the VA Medical Center, Sola expects the shift to be cost-efficient, but he won't know until they bid it out whether it will be more expensive or less. The VA hasn't made a decision, Sola said, though he is confident it will eventually end incineration for good.

by Rocky Barker



The Idaho Statesman www.idahostatesman.com


Cancer victim leads fight on pollution

A California assemblywoman who suspects pollution contributed to the cancer she was diagnosed with last year announced plans Wednesday to seek an air cleanup bond that could cost the state from $2 billion and $5 billion.

The announcement by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, followed a hearing in which lawmakers heard nearly three hours of testimony linking air pollution from California's ports, trucks and other shipping sources to deaths, childhood illnesses and even poor fetal development.

The state Air Resources Board released a study earlier this month that found diesel emissions from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are increasing cancer risks miles inland, creating a potential risk of 50 additional cancer cases per million people within 15 miles of the facilities.

There are about 2 million residents in that area, and the greater Los Angeles area has the nation's dirtiest air.


Associated Press via Monterey Herald www.montereyherald.com

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12:15:12 pm, Categories: Air, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, China, Contamination Cost, 488 words   English (US)

Hong Kong, the invisible harbor

Tony Wong, an executive at Ho Wai Printing & Publishing in Hong Kong, says he used to enjoy clear days when he could sit in his office in Chai Wan on the island's eastern tip and see across the harbor to Kowloon.

"It's extremely hard to see clear blue sky now" because of an increase in air pollution over the last decade, said Wong, who some days has difficulty breathing.

As China's economy booms, pollution from factories in neighboring Guangdong Province is drifting across to Hong Kong, mixing with the emissions of a growing number of cars and driving smog levels to records.

The bad air is repelling foreign executives and costing companies more than $90 million a year in medical costs and lost productivity, according to research by CLSA.

"Hong Kong is going backward in terms of pollution," said Anthony Hedley, chairman of the department of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong. "The government has been noninterventionist to the point of being really negligent."

Public outrage this week prompted Chief Executive Donald Tsang to describe the issue as a "grave concern." He has promised tougher vehicle emission limits and increased cooperation with the Guangdong government, including the establishment of an air quality index for the Pearl River Delta.

The Hong Kong government is spending an estimated 399.6 million Hong Kong dollars, or $51.5 million, in the year ending March on enforcement of air pollution controls.

China, with seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities, has spent 280 billion yuan, or $34.6 billion, in the past five years to counter air pollution, according to the government's 10th Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection.

Regional headquarters and offices set up by foreign companies in Hong Kong named pollution as one of the top three issues they want to bring to the government's attention, according to a Census and Statistics Department report last month. An American Chamber of Commerce survey last year showed that the quality of natural environment is one of the most unfavorable factors affecting member companies' continued investment in Hong Kong.

On average Hong Kong experiences low visibility every five days, according to a CLSA report in April. Good air-quality days fell to 35 percent last year compared with 45 percent in 2001, it said. Singapore is by far the cleanest city in Asia in terms of air quality, while Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei enjoy better air than Hong Kong, the report said. Hong Kong's air is worse than New York City's, according to the local research group Civic Exchange.

Hong Kong's ability to attract overseas talent is suffering as a result of the pollution. Jens-Erik Olsen, chairman of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, said that each year at least two or three people declined offers to work in the Hong Kong offices of member companies because of pollution.

By Hanny Wan


Bloomberg News via International Herald Tribune www.iht.com

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05:24:32 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Green Buildings, Government Report, 2774 words   English (US)


Governor Edward G. Rendell today awarded 97 grants totaling $488,830 to help small businesses enhance energy efficiency or promote pollution prevention.

“Pennsylvania is making investments in small business to help our firms improve their energy efficiency and enhance their competitiveness,” Governor Rendell said. “Energy-efficient technologies help businesses save on utility bills, and pollution prevention cuts operating expenses by reducing regulatory burdens.

“As energy prices continue to rise, we are looking at options to conserve and to be more efficient. We are not waiting for the federal government. We’re doing things differently and supporting innovative programs that can help reduce pollution and our reliance on foreign oil,” Governor Rendell said.

The grants, awarded under the Small Business Advantage Grant Program, provide a 50 percent match of up to $7,500 for equipment or processes to reduce energy consumption and promote pollution prevention while increasing profitability. Governor Rendell launched the program in July 2004. More than $1 million has been awarded to more than 200 businesses across the state.

Pennsylvania also is home to one of the nation’s most progressive alternative energy portfolio standards, ensuring that in 15 years, 18 percent of all energy generated comes from clean, efficient sources. Pennsylvania is one of two states with a portfolio standard that includes energy efficiency. Benefits include $10 billion in increased output for Pennsylvania, $3 billion in additional earnings and between 3,500 and 4,000 news jobs for residents over the next 20 years.

Read more!

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11:00:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Pennsylvania, Companies, 519 words   English (US)

Press Release: Green Mountain Energy Company Introduces New Renewable Energy Product in Pennsylvania: Company Creates Innovative Opportunity for Consumers to Continue Supporting Renewable Energy

Green Mountain Energy Company announced today the introduction of a new renewable energy product for Pennsylvania customers. The new product will give Pennsylvania customers the opportunity to support the development and growth of renewable energy at reduced costs to what they are paying today.

The product will help avoid a portion of a home's carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution, a step in the right direction to preserving the environment for future generations. The new product launch coincides with the decision by Green Mountain Energy Company to no longer provide electric generation service to approximately 30,000 residential and commercial customers in Pennsylvania.

"We think this is a tremendous win-win situation for our current customers in Pennsylvania," said Paul Thomas, CEO and president of Green Mountain Energy Company. "Current regulatory and market conditions have led to this evolution of our Pennsylvania business. By discontinuing electric generation service and providing this renewable energy option, our customers will see a lower electricity bill and will be able to continue their support of renewable energy growth and the building of new renewable facilities across the nation."

Thomas continued, "Our Pennsylvania customers were among the first supporters of renewable energy in the nation. We want to reward that loyalty."

The new product from Green Mountain Energy Company will sell for just $9.95 a month (or $99.95 for an annual subscription). Through the purchase of this new product, Green Mountain Energy Company ensures that 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month is generated from 100 percent wind resources and delivered to the national power grid. By purchasing this new product for a year, a customer can help avoid more than 8,000 pounds of CO2 pollution -- equivalent to not driving a car more than 9,000 miles.

Customers will be notified via letter beginning next week of the new product offering. Additionally, the letter will detail steps current Green Mountain Energy Company customers in Pennsylvania need to take in regards to their electric generation service. This transition will not result in an interruption in electricity service for Green Mountain Energy Company's Pennsylvania customers. Customers may select another provider or their service will automatically return to their local utility.

For more than eight years, Green Mountain Energy Company has been active in developing competitive markets across the U.S. Green Mountain Energy Company began selling cleaner electricity to customers in Pennsylvania in September 1998.

"Consumer demand for cleaner, renewable electricity products is growing rapidly across the country. As the leading retail provider of cleaner electricity products, we will continue to support the development of markets for cleaner, renewable energy with innovative products and services that reflect customer needs," Thomas concluded.

About Green Mountain Energy Company

Founded in 1997 to change the way power is made, Green Mountain Energy Company (www.greenmountain.com) offers residential, business, institutional and governmental customers the choice to support cleaner electricity generated from sources such as wind, solar, water, geothermal, biomass and natural gas. The company is based in Austin, Texas.

Contact: Green Mountain Energy Company, Austin
Andy Prince, 512-691-6316 or 512-289-4728 (cell),

Source: Green Mountain Energy Company Press Release via Yahoo Business

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Hydrogen Energy: Chances and Risks for the Environment (HyCARE)

Since its successful first workshop in December 2004, the Hydrogen Energy: Chances and Risks for the Environment (HyCARE) initiative has been formally installed as an open communication platform for Earth System Science and Energy Research scientists and stakeholders from the private and government sectors to discuss and assess the potential environmental issues associated with the possible widespread use of hydrogen energy in the future. HyCARE is sponsored by the ACCENT European Network of Excellence and seeks to broaden its foundation by inviting participation from other countries and international agencies that are interested in hydrogen energy as one possible option to mitigate air pollution and climate change. Its main objectives are to collect and synthesize available knowledge on potential environmental issues concerning hydrogen production, storage, transport, and use, and to identify knowledge gaps that limit our ability to predict the consequences of wide-spread hydrogen use on air pollution and climate change and possible other issues.

The second HyCARE symposium will be hosted by IIASA in Laxenburg, Austria, and it shall be organized around the following themes:

# Atmospheric chemistry, the global budget of hydrogen and its past and possible future trends
# Pathways into a hydrogen economy and their possible consequences for greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions
# Atmospheric chemistry-climate interactions in relation to potential future emission changes in a hydrogen economy
# Costs and benefits of hydrogen energy in relation to alternative energy scenarios

Each session will have one keynote presentation and a limited number of focus presentations. Two extended poster sessions and a structured discussion will augment the oral sessions and provide a lot of opportunity for information exchange. Extended abstracts are requested from each oral or poster presentation for publication in a proceedings volume.

Contact: Dr. Martin Schultz,
Dates: 19 December 2005 - 21 December 2005
Location: Laxenburg, Austria

Fuel Cell Today www.fuelcelltoday.com

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Non-Environmental, Education, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 748 words   English (US)

Schools convert to keyless system

More than 100 universities across the nation are starting to implement a "hotel-style" electronic key system for rooms in their residential dormitories. With this system, students use their ID card, instead of the traditional mechanical key, to "swipe" into their rooms. At some universities, students have to enter a four-digit PIN number as well for added security.

The University of Pennsylvania has been piloting this system in one section of Gregory College House since 2002, but has no immediate plans to expand the program.

"The pilot seems to be going quite well. It brings more positive than negative," Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

Many larger universities have been using the system for the past few years.

The University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles are currently using more than 6,000 electronic locks for their residential housing, according to Terri Pearson, education market specialist at Onity, Inc. Onity produces electronic locks, including the ones being used on campus.

Nevertheless, as with any new project, the cost of switching over to a new system would be significant.

Rush estimates that it would cost about $3 million to switch over to electronic locks.

"The costs would certainly be a huge expenditure, and that's why we're not jumping into it," Rush said. "We want to make sure it's the right thing for this environment, and we want to make sure we have the best product and the best company."

Mechanical locks can range in price from $125 to $275, while electronic locks cost around $350. However officials say that the long-term savings from using these locks outweigh the initial costs.

At Penn, the cost of changing a lock is about $80. Housing and Conference Services spokeswoman Dana Matkevich estimates that about 300 keys are not returned at the end of each year. Yet Matkevich said that after reviewing the initial piloting of the program in Gregory, "there would be no cost-benefit of using the swipe-card system. The cost of using the swipe-card program as opposed to the brass key is almost equivalent."

Princeton University has been piloting a program similar to Penn's in two of its dormitories for the past five years.

"The philosophy here is one ID card has [multiple] technologies on it," said David Olsen, an electrical engineer for Princeton's Facilities Engineering, adding that student ID cards are already used at the library, dining halls, banks and now dorm rooms.

Olsen estimates that Princeton may start using the electronic locks and keys for all its college housing within the next two years.

At Loyola Marymount University in California, the electronic-lock system has been in place for over five years in over 3,500 residential dormitories and other buildings.

John Beckwith, director of Campus Business Services at Loyola Marymount, said that the locks were installed to help housing services with key management.

"It was a nightmare for them to issue all these metal keys. ... They were constantly having to deal with [students losing their keys], and now it's much better," Beckwith said.

Rather than making a new key and changing locks each time a key is lost, students obtain a new card which has an encrypted code to grant them access to their dorm room.

Beckwith said that the locks also offer added security. A tracking system within each lock can record more than 1,100 past transactions.

"We're saving some energy, but we're also gaining tracking. Now we know exactly who's been through a door," Beckwith said.

Whether or not Penn decides to use the electronic-lock system remains to be determined.

Rush said that the University's goal "has always been to secure the perimeters of all the buildings" via security guards and other measures.

"This would be icing on the cake. ... I don't think it's something that if we didn't do it people shouldn't feel less safe. It would be an improvement, it would be convenient, [but] without it will people be less safe? No."

Regardless, many current users are pleased with the technology.

"I love it. I think it's really convenient. ... It's just easier than dealing with keys, since I'm already coming into the building with my PennCard to swipe," said Leslie Delauter, director of College Houses and Academic Services and a senior fellow in Gregory College House. "I feel really good about the fact that if anyone is going to come into my apartment ... that's all captured."

by Qiu Yi Zheng
The Daily Vidette www.dailyvidette.com (University of Illinois)

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Auto industry, environmentalists clash over emissions

Auto industry representatives disagreed with environmentalists, physicians and a prominent Maine car dealer Thursday over the costs, benefits and legality of proposed pollution standards for new vehicles sold in Maine.

The Board of Environmental Protection held a public hearing on a plan to have Maine join California and five other states requiring new cars and trucks sold in the state to release 30 percent less greenhouse gas pollution by 2016.

If approved, it would effectively force car manufacturers to make vehicles that burn less gasoline and create less carbon dioxide.

Dickson Pike, an attorney representing the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, predicted the standards would increase the average price of a vehicle by at least $3,000 and drive Maine car buyers to New Hampshire, which does not have the standards.

Pike said the proposed rules won’t accomplish anything because climate change is a global issue and reducing pollution in one rural state won’t make a big difference. Consumers who want cleaner, more efficient cars can already buy them, he said.

"We believe the choices should continue to be made by the consumers, not the government," he said.

But supporters of the proposal accused the auto industry of trying to avoid rules now the same way they fought against seat belts, air bags and catalytic converters.

Cleaner vehicles sold in 2016 will cost an extra $1,000 at most, but they will also burn 30 percent less gasoline, said Lynn Cayting of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Dr. Jacob Garretson, a physician in Camden, said the rules would help people who suffer from asthma and other conditions.

Adam Lee, president of Lee Auto Malls, spoke in favor of the rules and said the industry has the technology, but not the will.

"I think the American car companies need to try a little harder," he said. "However, I don’t think they will until the states force them to do so. They haven’t in the past."

The Board of Environmental Protection is expected to vote on the proposal later this year.

Seacoast Business www.seacoastonline.com

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Limited Growth Ahead for Environmental & Waste Management Industry, Says Standard & Poor's: Minimal Impact Seen From Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Rising costs, slower volume and increased competition have combined to slow growth among companies in the solid waste management, water supply and treatment, air pollution, and environmental remediation sectors, and prospects for growth remain limited into 2006, said Standard & Poor's in its semi-annual survey on the environmental services industry, published today. These and other findings are available in the report, Environmental & Waste Management Industry Survey, published twice yearly by Standard & Poor's, a leading provider of independent investment research, ratings and indices.

Although Standard & Poor's believes that solid waste revenue growth should gradually pick up during 2006, volume has remained soft in many regions, and the level of sustained economic growth remains uncertain, especially in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Despite a significant amount of debris from the storms, S&P does not expect the cleanup efforts to add much to earnings for the major haulers - namely Waste Management and Allied Waste Industries - as disrupted collection services, flooded landfills and soaring fuel costs will likely offset additional volume growth.

"These disasters will likely have a minimal, or even a negative, impact on the bottom line," said Stewart Scharf, analyst with Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services. "And faced with so many other issues like higher costs, slower volume and increased competitive pricing, companies are turning inward to improve profitability."

In the solid waste management segment, Standard & Poor's believes companies will continue to seek price hikes and surcharges to offset higher fuel costs, while investing in fleet upgrades and worker safety programs. As a result, the segment is likely to report modest revenue growth in 2005 and into 2006. With many municipalities experiencing budget shortfalls, S&P expects more privatization and a focus by state and local governments on improving recycling rates. And with solid waste volume growth expected to continue to slow, the pricing divide is likely to increase between less competitive, rapidly expanding regional markets and more sluggish, competitive markets.

Standard & Poor's anticipates continued growth for water utilities based on customer base expansion and rate hikes. Water is a commodity that is in great demand, and aging systems need to be upgraded. In turn, municipalities are looking to publicly-traded water utilities for assistance in owning or operating their systems; these publicly-traded utilities can better operate and upgrade the water infrastructure systems and seek rate hikes from state commissions to cover the capital improvement costs. The EPA recently projected that $277 billion would be needed over the next 20 years to upgrade and maintain U.S. water infrastructure systems. S&P expects further consolidation in the industry.

The failure to pass dramatic emissions legislation in 2005 likely means only limited growth for providers of air pollution control equipment. However, more stringent regulations for both industrial and vehicle emissions, and the recent passage of a new energy bill, should improve air quality levels. Emissions controls are being required for trucks and other vehicles over the next few years, while a rise in hybrids should continue to reduce fuel consumption and air pollution.

Any growth in environmental remediation is likely to remain extremely limited unless substantial changes are made to the Superfund program (formally known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Contamination and Liability Act).

To view a video clip of Standard & Poor's equity analyst Stewart Scharf discussing the sector, please point your Web browser to mms://wmd31sea.activate.net/sandp/windows/sptv-survey-01.wmv (viewing the video clip requires Real Player capability).

Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys provide a broad and fundamental overview of each industry's structure, its recent performance, and an analysis of trends that will influence it in the future. Each Survey is organized into the following sections: Current Environment, Industry Profile/Industry Trends, How the Industry Operates, Key Industry Ratios and Statistics, How to Analyze a Company, Industry References, Comparative Company Analysis, and a Glossary of terms used in that industry. Both text and data are provided, as are references to additional sources of industry information. Two surveys on each industry are published each year.

Readers can purchase Standard & Poor's Industry Surveys three ways:

Online for immediate download at http://sandp.ecnext.com, by telephone at 800-221-5277, or via e-mail order sent to Members of the media can request a copy from the communications contact listed at the end of this release.

The analyst quoted above is a Standard & Poor's equity analyst. He has no affiliation with any company he covers, nor any ownership interest in any company he covers.

The equity research reports and recommendations provided by Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services are prepared separately from any other analytic activity of Standard & Poor's. In this regard, Standard & Poor's Equity Research Services has no access to non-public information received by other units of Standard & Poor's. Standard & Poor's does not trade for its own account.

About Standard & Poor's (from S&P Press Release)

Standard & Poor's is the world's foremost provider of independent credit ratings, indices, risk evaluation, investment research, data and valuations. With approximately 6,700 employees located in 21 countries and markets, Standard & Poor's is an essential part of the world's financial infrastructure and has played a leading role for more than 140 years in providing investors with the independent benchmarks they need to feel more confident about their investment and financial decisions. For more information, visit www.standardandpoors.com.

Source: Standard & Poor's Press Release via Yahoo Finance http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews

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$1 million in spending separates impacts of small vs. large marina

What impact would a proposed harbor expansion project have on the local economy?

Grand Marais city councilors heard some “guestimates” during last Wednesday’s regular meeting when James Skurla of the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School research bureau gave a presentation of the findings of a recent study.

The bureau, he said, was retained by the state Department of Natural Resources to do the study as part of the information-gathering process for the city as its administrators consider improving the harbor and marina.

Council voted in August to ask the DNR to begin designing a maximum 10-acre safe harbor marina facility in the southwest section of the existing harbor. However, it is expected that the design plans will be sent back and forth between the city and the DNR a number of times before a satisfactory compromise is decided on. Currently, the city maintains only a 22-slip marina in the Rec Park; a 10-acre marina could accommodate about 200 slips.

Skurla said the main purpose of the study was to determine what additional spending would occur as a result of the expansion. Researchers looked at three marina scenarios — small (75 slips), medium (165 slips) and large (250 slips) — to come up with their figures, and calculated the numbers to include the entire county, not just the city of Grand Marais, Skurla said.

Under the small scenario, it is estimated that visitors would spend $353,192 annually in Cook County; $777,022 would be spent by visitors if the medium-sized marina were built; and $1,177,307 under the large scenario. The study also looked at other economic effects of a marina, such as added spending that would be done by businesses to support the marina and/or its users, and spending by people employed by the marina.
Those numbers show a “total effect” of $441,470 for a small marina; $971,233 for a medium marina; and an impact of $1,471,565 for a large marina.

Skurla conceded that there were many areas in the study that were not “an exact science,” and pointed out that it was not a cost-benefit analysis, meaning that any losses or costs incurred by running the operation were not factored in.

Yet, he said the researchers were confident with the accuracy of most of the data used, including such things as number of days in the boating season, sizes of boats likely to use the marina, and wages paid to employees. In most cases, Skurla said, the researchers were conservative in their calculations.

Following the presentation and question-and-answer session, Mayor Mark Sandbo summed up the study by saying it was a guestimate that presents “only a snapshot, not the whole picture. This (projected spending) may happen, and it may not.”

The entire economic impact study is available at city hall, or may be viewed at www.d.umn.edu/sbe/departments/bber/

by Bill Neil
Cook County News Herald www.grandmarais-mn.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, U.S., Savings, 654 words   English (US)

EPA and Department of Energy Kick-Off Campaign to Save Energy

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman today kicked off the annual "Energy Star Change a Light, Change the World Campaign" and urged Americans to change a light in their home to a more energy-efficient one as an important step to save energy and protect our environment.

President Bush called on the American people to do their part by conserving fuels and ensuring that the areas hit hardest by Katrina and Rita have the energy supplies they need for relief and restoration efforts. The president also directed the federal government to take the lead in conserving energy.

If every U.S. household replaces just one incandescent light bulb at home with one that earned the Energy Star label, the country will save $600 million in energy bills, save enough energy to light 7 million homes, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1 million cars.

DOE and EPA launch the annual "Energy Star Change a Light, Change the World Campaign" and declare Oct. 5, as "Energy Star Change a Light Day." Americans are encouraged to take an on-line pledge to replace one incandescent bulb or fixture in their home with one that has earned the Energy Star label. The pledge can be found at: http://www.energystar.gov/changealight

"On Monday, I announced a nationwide effort to highlight easy things every American can do to help save energy. Changing a regular light bulb to an Energy Star bulb is a great first step," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said. "Today, the technology driving Energy Star lighting is better than ever. The costs of these products are decreasing while the selection and availability of these products is expanding. We estimate that if every household changed just one bulb to an Energy Star light bulb, families across the country could save about $3 billion over the lifetime of the bulbs."

Lighting accounts for nearly 20 percent of electricity costs, with the average home containing more than 30 light fixtures. Energy Star qualified bulbs and fixtures help reduce household energy costs because they use one-third the energy of traditional lighting, and last up to 10 times longer. Consumers can save up to $25 in utility costs over the lifetime of one bulb. Replacing the most frequently used lights at home will yield the most savings.

"Americans should realize how such a small step can help preserve our energy resources and environment," said Stephen L. Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency administrator. "We are delighted to work with partners in offering consumers common-sense energy efficiency solutions that lower energy bills while handing the next generation a better environment."

The Energy Star Change a Light, Change the World Campaign is one of the first major activities of the Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency announced in July. This multi-agency effort of HUD, DOE and EPA seeks to help households save 10 percent or more on home energy bills over the next 10 years.

The federal effort announced today is coupled with the efforts of more than half the nation's governors who will be declaring Oct. 5 as Energy Star Change a Light day. EPA and DOE have been joined by the governors of Delaware, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan.

About Energy Star
Energy Star is a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. More than 7,000 organizations have become Energy Star partners and are committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes and businesses. For more information about Energy Star, visit: http://www.energystar.gov or call toll-free 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

Contact: John Millett, or Enesta Jones,

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA Energy Star www.energystar.gov

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Enviro.BLR.com Foresees Major Air Emission Reductions: Why Environmental Managers Should CAIR

Environmental managers in 28 states will soon be forced to drastically reduce their pollutant emissions under EPA's new Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). According to the editors at Enviro.BLR.com, "Making State Environmental Compliance Easier," CAIR will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO(2)) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States; when fully implemented, SO(2) and NOx emissions will be reduced by approximately 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively, from 2003 levels.

Plan Now - Cap or Trade Air Emissions?

"If you think you are one of the targeted facilities, now is the time to begin considering your compliance strategy," says Tim Fagan, air editor at Business and Legal Reports, Inc. "While states currently have flexibility in determining which emission sources are affected and what control measures will be adopted to meet CAIR targets, it is very likely that most states will opt for a cap and trade program, forcing sources to make a decision: install controls or buy emissions allowances."

In preparing this rule, EPA evaluated each state to determine if its emissions significantly contributed to the fine particular matter (PM-2.5) and/or ozone nonattainment of a downwind state. The results revealed that SO(2) and NOx emissions from 23 states and the District of Columbia contribute to unhealthy levels of PM-2.5 in downwind states. In addition, NOx emissions in 25 eastern states and D.C. contribute to unhealthy ozone levels in other downwind states.

The compliance experts at BLR have developed a white paper to help environmental managers determine if their facilities will be affected by CAIR. Why Should You CAIR? How the Clean Air Interstate Rule Affects Your Operations explains this major new clean air rule in practical, useful detail. It shows the phased reductions for SO(2) and NOx emissions and analyzes the costs and benefits. The paper also explains why the Bush administration's preferred Clear Skies legislation may still play a role in your compliance efforts.

Download the white paper at http://www.blr.com/80502500/PRS53

Business and Legal Reports, Inc. www.blr.com
Why Should You CAIR? How the Clean Air Interstate Rule Affects Your Operations

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Boiler Modifications Cut Mercury Emissions 70 Percent Or More, Research Team Finds

Researchers at Lehigh University's Energy Research Center (ERC) have developed and successfully tested a cost-effective technique for reducing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

In full-scale tests at three power plants, says lead investigator Carlos E. Romero, the Lehigh system reduced flue-gas emissions of mercury by as much as 70 percent or more with modest impact on plant performance and fuel cost.

The reductions were achieved, says Romero, by modifying the physical conditions of power-plant boilers, including flue gas temperature, the size of the coal particles that are burned, the size and unburned carbon level of the fly ash, and the fly ash residence time. These modifications promote the in-flight capture of mercury, Romero said.

The ERC researchers reported their findings in an article titled "Modification of boiler operating conditions for mercury emissions reductions in coal-fired utility boilers," which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Fuel.

Mercury enters the atmosphere as a gas and can remain airborne several years before it precipitates with rain and falls into bodies of water, where it is ingested by fish. Because mercury is a neurotoxin, people who consume large quantities of fish can develop brain and nervous ailments. Forty-four states have mercury advisories.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest single-known source of mercury emissions in the U.S. Estimates of total mercury emissions from coal-fired plants range from 40 to 52 tons.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last March issued its first-ever regulations restricting the emission of mercury from coal-fired power plants. The order mandates reductions of 23 percent by 2010 and 69 percent by 2018. Four states - Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and Wisconsin - issued their own restrictions before the March 15 action by the EPA.

The changes in boiler operating conditions, said Romero, prevent mercury from being emitted at the stack and promote its oxidation in the flue gas and adsorption into the fly ash instead. Oxidized mercury is easily captured by scrubbers, filters and other boiler pollution-control equipment.

The ERC team used computer software to model boiler operating conditions and alterations and then collaborated with Western Kentucky University on the field tests. Analysis of stack emissions showed that the new technology achieved a 50- to 75-percent reduction of total mercury in the flue gas with minimal to modest impact on unit thermal performance and fuel cost. This was achieved at units burning bituminous coals.

Only about one-third of mercury is captured by coal-burning power plant boilers that are not equipped with special mercury-control devices, Romero said.

Romero estimated that the new ERC technology could save a 250-megawatt power unit as much as $2 million a year in mercury-control costs. The savings could be achieved, he said, by applying the ERC method solely or in combination with a more expensive technology called activated carbon injection, which would be used by coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The resulting hybrid method, says Romero, would greatly reduce the approximately 250 pounds per hour of activated carbon that a 250-MW boiler needs to inject to curb mercury emissions.

The new ERC technology was developed by Romero, ERC director Edward Levy, ERC associate director Nenad Sarunac, ERC research scientist Harun Bilirgen, and Ying Li, who recently received an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Lehigh.

The breakthrough follows years of work by ERC researchers in optimizing boiler operations to control emissions of NOx, CO, particulates and other pollutants.

For their mercury-emission research, the ERC group received a total of $1.2 million in funding from a consortium of utility companies, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance and the U.S. Department of Energy.

It is expensive to check for levels of mercury emissions, says Romero, because mercury levels are measured in parts per billion, while NOx levels are measured in parts per million.

The ERC tests were performed at a power plant in Alexandria, Virginia, and at two units of a power plant in Massachusetts. The ERC and Western Kentucky University will conduct tests next year at an additional unit firing Powder River Basin sub-bituminous coals.

Romero discussed his group's findings at the 2004 Pittsburgh Coal Conference in Osaka, Japan, where he gave a paper titled "Impact of Boiler Operating Conditions on Mercury Emission in Coal-Fired Utility Boilers."

He has given half a dozen presentations on his group's findings so far this year, including an address at the ICAC (Institute of Clean Air Companies) Clean Air Technologies and Strategies Conference in Baltimore in March.

Science Daily www.sciencedaily.com

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10:57:51 pm, Categories: Air, Non-Environmental, Academic Study/Journal Article, 276 words   English (US)

The Economics of Workaholism: We Should Not Have Worked on This Paper by

A large literature examines the addictive properties of such behaviors as smoking, drinking alcohol and eating. We argue that for some people addictive behavior may apply to a much more central aspect of economic life: working. Workaholism is subject to the same concerns about the individual as other addictions, is more likely to be a problem of higher-income individuals, and can, under conditions of jointness in the workplace or the household, generate negative spillovers onto individuals around the workaholic. Using the Retirement History Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Daniel S. Hamermesh and Joel Slemrod find evidence that is consistent with the idea that high-income, highly educated people suffer from workaholism with regard to retiring, in that they are more likely to postpone earlier plans for retirement. The evidence and theory suggest that the negative effects of workaholism can be addressed with a more progressive income tax system than would be appropriate in the absence of this behavior.

Some workaholics find it as difficult to cut back their hours as shopaholics do to trim their spending, even though their behavior can damage health and home life.

Workaholics believe they make rational decisions about the time they put in but may misjudge costs and benefits, say the authors. Workaholism, the economists say, is acquired early in a career and shows up as more hours.

Workaholics skew the money-for-effort equation. Some even delay retirement.

''Both of us certainly struggle with this,'' said Slemrod. ``In my business, it's a badge of honor to say you're too busy.''

by Daniel S. Hamermesh and Joel Slemrod
REPEC http://ideas.repec.org

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Manufacturer calls its green building smart business

With winter coming on, heating fuel prices skyrocketing and concern growing about likely increases in electricity costs, many business leaders in northern New England are worried.

Jan and Dave Blittersdorf are much less so.

Together they run NRG Systems, a company that makes towers and testing equipment for potential wind power sites. Jan Blittersdorf says her company's customers prospect for wind the way others prospect for oil.

Cutting-edge wind testing technology aside, the most noticeable thing that sets NRG Systems apart is the sleek new headquarters it moved into last year on a rural hillside.

When the Blittersdorfs decided it was time to move out of their cramped quarters in an industrial building across the road, they decided not just to preach the gospel of renewable energy and sustainability, but to live it.

"We knew we didn't want to be in another standard sheet-metal building," said Jan Blittersdorf, NRG's president and CEO.

About $800,000 of the $7.8 million they spent to open the company's new headquarters last year went to features designed to lower the building's energy usage, generate most of the energy the new building does use, and make for a healthier environment for employees.

The company's energy-conscious ethic is immediately apparent to anyone arriving in front of the 46,000-square-foot building. There are the 12 solar panels that shift from east to west as the sun moves across the sky. There's the extensive use of glass windows designed to bring natural light and warmth from the sun into the building. There's the prevalence of Toyota Prius cars in the parking lot _ one company benefit is up to $1,000 a year to each employee toward things like a home solar water-heating system or hybrid car.

As planning began for the new building, the Blittersdorfs and Waitsfield architect Bill MacLay, well known as someone with decades of experience in developing green buildings, challenged one another to come up with ways the company could operate more efficiently and in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Dave Blittersdorf, who became the company's chief technology officer when Jan stepped up to become CEO, told MacLay he wanted to keep the plant's electricity usage below 7,000 kilowatt-hours a month. The company would save a lot of money if it could stay in Green Mountain Power's commercial customer class, rather than jumping to its industrial class, Blittersdorf said.

Aside from the solar panels on the grounds and on the roof, the company installed a wind turbine, with the result that NRG often is sending electricity to the grid, rather than taking it. Its power demand usually is about a third of the goal set by Blittersdorf.

For his part, MacLay made a number of suggestions for features inside the building to make it better for the external environment and to give it a better internal environment. Earth- and human-friendly materials were used throughout, with the aim of avoiding the volatile organic compounds often given off by new carpeting, paints, stains and adhesives.

The floors are concrete stained in southwestern colors, punctuated by whimsical and often humorous paintings depicting the company's history and that of wind power. The kitchen off the common area where employees gather and eat has cabinets fronted in alder wood and backed with board made from pressed wheat. The toilets are "dual-flushing" with water usage geared to what needs to be flushed. The restroom floors are tiles made from recycled auto glass.

The result is that the NRG headquarters is one of four manufacturing plants in the world to be given gold-level certification by the green-building group LEED _ Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The Blittersdorfs _ he's 48 and she's 46 _ met at the University of Vermont, where Dave was majoring in electrical engineering and Jan was studying nursing and human development _ a blend of psychology and sociology. The way human beings like NRG employees fit into their work environment clearly was a key consideration when the Blittersdorfs were planning their new building.

"It's a beautiful space. It's an esthetically wonderful place to come to work," said Margarete Griffiths, part of an international sales force that has made exports 70 percent of NRG's business.

Two home-sized boilers that burn wood pellets made from waste lumber provide all the heat the building needs. A highly efficient ventilation system keeps the air inside as fresh as it is outside. The air quality boosts employees' health and productivity. "I didn't have a cold or a sinus infection all last winter," Griffiths said.

The Blittersdorfs didn't want to rely on traditional air conditioning compressors to cool indoor air in the summer, so they installed radiant cooling in the floors that is connected with two miles of piping in a grid underneath a pond on the grounds. The pond also collects the site's stormwater runoff.

The art on the floor, the three-story fireplace at the center of the building, natural woodwork, lush greenery provided by abundant plants and all the natural light all add to the building interior's beauty. Special lights interspersed throughout tell employees when they can and when they shouldn't open the windows _ more fresh air, but without hurting the ventilation system's efficiency.

Dave Blittersdorf said the extra efficiency and renewable energy measures made good business sense when the company opened its new headquarters. With current energy prices, that has become even more true.

"We have essentially prepaid our energy bill by relying on renewable energy," he said, adding that, "we won't have to worry about rising energy costs in the future. We spent more money to build our facility green, but we see it as a long-term investment that will more than pay for itself in terms of productivity gains in energy and operating cost savings."

And it makes good marketing sense for a company trying to sell its wares into a burgeoning renewable energy market, he added. "We're walking the talk."

On the Net: NRG Systems: http://www.nrgsystems.com

WCAX Channel 3 Burlington Vermont www.wcax.com

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Fuel rules costly and complex

If you're in the business of selling or handling fuel, or your firm operates a fleet of trucks or heavy equipment, your life is about to change.

"Things are going to change, and change dramatically," said Tom Chapple, a senior state environmental official.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for on-road use kick in next July. The 2006 rule applies only to on-road use, but in 2010 it will be extended to off-road construction equipment and marine diesel.

Eventually stationary diesel engines, used in small power plants, will be included.

The new fuel will not only cost more but will bring requirements for separate storage with dedicated tank and fuel handling systems.

There will also be a complex set of new EPA tracking and reporting requirements. "We're going to need 50 new accountants to keep track of all this," groaned one fuel distributor who attended a Sept. 16 briefing on the new rules by EPA and state officials.

The meeting, held in Anchorage, was sponsored by the state chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association, a professional group.

The new rules have been long in coming. They are aimed at reducing cancer-causing particulates, or soot, in diesel exhaust. New truck engines, beginning with 2007 models, will be required to have pollution-contol equipment to reduce particulates, but the catalysts used to accomplish that goal cannot tolerate sulfur.

To keep sulfur out of the fuel stream, EPA is requiring that refineries produce 80 percent of their diesel with a sulfur content of no more than 15 parts per million as of July 2006. Refineries will be able to produce some diesel with 500 ppm sulfur, but no more than 20 percent of their output.

Much of the diesel in Alaska, and the jet fuel used as "Arctic grade" diesel for winter use, has far higher sulfur levels, as much as 3,000 ppm. EPA rules requiring 500 ppm diesel have been in effect in the Lower 48 states for several years, but Alaska has had a special exemption.

There will be no exemption for Alaska from the new 15-ppm rule because it primarily applies to engines, not the fuel.

Requirements to have to fuel available and in segregated storage to insure its purity will apply in parts of Alaska connected by the road system. The state is recommending that these rules be delayed until 2010 for rural Alaska, according to Ron King, the Department of Environmental Conservation official in charge of the program.

That would coincide with extension of the rule to off-road and marine uses so rural Alaska can make the changeover all at once, King said.

EPA officials at the Sept. 16 briefing acknowledged the new rules are imposing large costs on the nation's refineries, fuel distributors and transporters. But the benefits to health far outweigh the costs.

"On a national level, the cost of the program will be $7.5 billion for refineries, $1 billion for fuel distributors and $250 million for retail sellers of fuel," said Paul Machiele, an official in EPA's fuel regulatory program.

"The cost/benefit analysis shows a $60 billion benefit, however, in avoided health expenditures and premature deaths," he said.

DEC's Chapple said that, in the past, the state has attempted to exempt Alaska from costly requirements like this, but the EPA's new evidence of the connection between diesel particulates and cancer has now become overwhelming.

EPA has identified diesel exhaust from heavy trucks and buses in major U.S. cities as a major source of urban air pollution and a health risk. In Alaska, the DEC has just launched a study of potential adverse health effects of diesel exhaust in rural villages, Chapple said.

By Tim Bradner

Alaska Journal of Commerce www.alaskajournal.com

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Maybe you've been reading about green building methods and materials and thinking that living the eco-friendly lifestyle is a great idea -- if you're made of money.

Think again.

On Friday, Sunset magazine opens the doors to its latest Idea Houses, a side-by-side pair showcasing all manner of recycled or sustainable building materials that demonstrate how mainstream manufacturers are jumping on the green bandwagon.

One of the houses is fully furnished and decorated with contemporary flair. The other is a demonstration house that has cutaways to show such normally hidden features as formaldehyde-free insulation, radiant roof barriers and the various engineered wood products used in construction.

The two-story structures in a new east Menlo Park subdivision are called ``zero-energy'' houses because they produce as much energy as they consume. If that sounds like something out of Tomorrowland, it's not. Every item in each house -- from the tankless, on-demand water heaters to the solar roof tiles to the satellite-linked automatic sprinkler system -- is readily available in today's marketplace.

``The technology has improved so much and the prices are coming way down,'' says Sean Misskelley, project manager for Clarum Homes, the Palo Alto-based builder of the project. ``It's finally practical to incorporate all this great stuff in production construction. These are not custom homes.''

The six-acre development eventually will have 47 zero-energy houses and a park, Misskelley says. Twenty of the houses will be sold in a lottery to qualified Menlo Park residents as ``affordable'' -- $375,000 or less, Misskelley says. The project is expected to be completed early next year.

Sunset estimates that building green typically adds about 6 percent to the initial cost of a house. But figure in the long-term savings on energy -- not to mention the less-tangible benefits, such as better air quality -- and being eco-savvy starts to make cents as well as sense.

Oh, and did we mention that the houses are beautiful?

Designer Pamela Pennington of Palo Alto has worked with the Sunset design team to prove that going green can be elegant, from the warm chestnut-toned hues of the bamboo strand flooring to the rich colors of the recycled glass tiles to the imaginative kitchen cabinet doors that have reed-like thatch encased in recycled polyester resin.

``Oh, and isn't this fun?'' says Pennington, pointing to the recycled-ceramic tile floor in an upstairs bathroom that looks like lush, green grass. The manufacturer uses a non-chemical photo process to get the look.

Other floor treatments in both houses include a low-pile, industrial-looking carpeting made from recycled soda bottles. In the demonstration house, there are even more ideas for going green on the floor: old-fashioned linoleum in updated colors, plus natural wool, sisal and sea grass carpeting.

Walls get the green treatment, too, with contemporary tones rendered in low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints throughout.

``It used to be that the range of colors in low VOC paints was pretty limited,'' Pennington says. ``But now, for example, all of the Kelly Moore paints are available in low VOC.'' She chose a sophisticated palette that includes punches of pistachio, cayenne and slate blue.

In the kitchens, countertops are clad in a smooth, seamless material made of quartz crystals, with backsplash details of iridescent recycled glass tiles. Cabinets are made of wheatboard with knobs fashioned of cast aluminum and recycled glass. The demonstration house has many other samples of green kitchen materials. Appliances are all energy-efficient models.

The houses also show off the latest in stylish -- yes, stylish -- fluorescent lighting in many rooms. This is particularly noteworthy, since new state building codes that go into effect today mandate that new construction must have 50 percent of its light output from fluorescent fixtures.

``But look how cool these can-style lights are in the kitchen ceiling,'' says Peter O. Whiteley, Sunset's senior home writer and jack-of-all-trades on the Idea Houses. ``And they've made these fixtures so you can't take out the fluorescent bulb and replace it with a regular incandescent bulb.''

All of the rooms are equipped with programmable switches that automatically turn off lights when sensors indicate no one is in the room.

Outdoors, the small gardens are landscaped with water-wise plants accented with blue and green mulch made of tumbled recycled glass and tumbled pieces of terra cotta. One garden has a composting station, a worm bin, recycled rubber mulch and a small fountain powered by a solar panel. The other has interlocking pavers used to build raised beds and walkways.

``The pavers are permeable so water trickles down through them to keep the water on site and out of the storm sewer,'' says Whiteley, who also points out the small patch of fake lawn that looks amazingly real and a path of round pods built out of synthetic lumber.

Two houses, plenty of ideas. Which is exactly the point, Misskelley says.

``We're hoping that people visiting these houses will find green ideas they can incorporate in their own homes and lifestyles for not much more money than non-green materials and methods.''

By Holly Hayes, , (408) 920-5374.
San Jose Mercury News www.mercurynews.com

City borrows 'green building' from campus

ahar Armaghani knew waterless urinals would be a hard sell in new locker rooms for the University of Florida baseball team.

But the UF project manager pointed to urinals already installed in eco-friendly Rinker Hall to show they don't smell bad and save 40,000 gallons of water per urinal, per year. They're among the features of so-called green building that UF is incorporating in new construction.

"The payback is there and it's really benefiting the university," said Armaghani, who is responsible for UF's green building program.

The university has more than a dozen buildings with green features, including Rinker Hall, home to the School of Building Construction. Now a university professor is helping export the practice off campus in the proposed development at city Parking Lot 10.

Green building means environmentally and socially beneficial features ranging from energy-efficient materials to locating buildings near public transportation, said Charles Kibert, director of UF's Powell Center for Construction and Environment and an advisor on the Lot 10 project.

"It's all part of a bigger picture," he said.

Lot 10's developers have committed to green building in the proposal for the 12-story residential and commercial project. Orienting the building to maximize the daylight that shines inside, installing energy efficient appliances and landscaping the property with drought-resistant plants are among possible green features mentioned in the proposal.

"It costs money to do it," said Barney Danzansky, president of the company developing the project. "But if it's better for the planet, better for the environment and better for the people that live there, it's a better project."

Kibert said incorporating green features can boost the cost of a project 7 percent or more. The city of Gainesville offers incentives to help offset those initial costs, such as hastening approval of green buildings to eight days and reducing permit fees by half.

But developers on just 13 buildings have gone through the program since it started in 2003, said Doug Murdock, city building official.

"I thought a lot more would take advantage of the incentives," he said.

While initial costs can scare away developers, the features pay for themselves in the long term in reduced energy costs, Kibert said. There are also benefits that are harder to quantify, he said, such as a positive public image for the developer and healthier and happier residents and employees.

"The paybacks really are staggering," he said.

Rinker Hall acts both as a headquarters for education efforts in green building and a showcase for how those efforts actually work. Opened in 2003, the building's siting allows for natural light in 98 percent of offices and classrooms, Armaghani said.

The building also has features that save energy and water such as the no-flush urinals, which use chemical cartridges that cost $34 apiece and get replaced every three months. Rinker is 37 percent more efficient in its use of water and energy than older, similar buildings on campus, she said.

Green features have also been incorporated in the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera, the renovated Library West and the new baseball locker rooms. Armaghani recited a laundry list of new buildings being developed that will continue in the trend.

"Basically all of our buildings coming up are going to be green buildings," she said.

by Nathan Crabbe, 352-338-3176,
Gainesville Sun www.gainesville.com

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Environmental Externalities in the Presence of Network Effects: Adoption of Low Emission Technologies in the Automobile Market

The paper considers a market currently dominated by a dirty technology that imposes significant environmental costs. A clean technology, with zero environmental costs, is introduced after the maturity of the dirty technology’s network. Adoption of the clean technology is not possible due to the network benefits in favour of the dirty technology. The paper considers two types of policy intervention to correct for the environmental externality. First, we find that the tax necessary to induce adoption of the clean technology is very high implying that a tax equal to the marginal environmental damage would not resolve the externality problem in many cases. Second, if tax revenues are earmarked towards subsidizing the clean technology, the tax is lower than in the previous case and can be set equal to the marginal external damage.

Key words automobile market - environmental externalities - fuel cell technology - network effects

by Eftichios S. Sartzetakis 1 and Panagiotis Tsigaris 2
(1) Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Macedonia, 156 Egnatia Str., Thessaloniki, 54006, Greece
(2) Department of Economics, Thompson Rivers University, Box 3010, 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, BC, V2C 5N3, Canada

Journal of Regulatory Economics via SpringerLink www.springerlink.com
Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
ISSN: 0922-680X (Paper) 1573-0468 (Online); DOI:10.1007/s11149-005-3961-3
Volume 28, Number 3; November, 2005; pages: 309 - 326

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Non-Environmental, Europe, Academic Study/Journal Article, 239 words   English (US)

Partner + Children = Happiness? The Effects of Partnerships and Fertility on Well-Being

Economic and rational-choice theories suggest that individuals form unions or have children because these decisions increase their subjective well-being or "happiness." Hans-Peter Kohler, Jere R. Behrman, and Axel Skytthe investigate this relation using within-MZ (identical) twin pair estimates to control for unobserved factors, such as optimistic preferences, that may simultaneously affect happiness, partnerships, and fertility. Their findings, based on Danish twins aged 25-45 and 50-70 years old, include the following. (1) Currently being in a partnership has large positive effects on happiness. (2) A first child substantially increases well-being, in analyses without controls for partnerships, and males enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness gain from a first-born son than from a first-born daughter; however, only females enjoy a happiness gain from the first-born child with controls for partnerships. (3) Additional children beyond the first child have a negative effect on subjective well-being for females, while there is no effect for males. (4) Ever having had children does not significantly affect the subjective well-being of males or females aged 50-70 years.

by Hans-Peter Kohler 1, Jere R. Behrman 2, Axel Skytthe 3
1 Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, 272 McNeil Building Philadelphia, PA 19104-6298
2 Economics Department, McNeil 160, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
3 Research Scientist, Institute of Public Health and Danish Center for Demographic Research, SDU-Odense, Sdr. Boulevard 23A, Odense C, Denmark

Population and Development Review via Blackwell Synergy www.blackwell-synergy.com
Volume 31 Issue 3 Page 407 - September 2005

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 1122 words   English (US)

Aspen, Annapolis, Major Paper Company Commit to Clean Energy and Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - IBM Reduces CO2 Emissions by More Than 1 Million Tons, Saving $115 Million

The cities of Aspen and Annapolis, along with NorskeCanada (TSX:NS), a leading paper producer, have reached agreements with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Center for Energy & Climate Solutions (CECS) committing to significant actions that will reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. WWF and CECS also announced that IBM (NYSE:IBM), a participant in their Climate Savers program, has surpassed its reduction target and avoided more than 1.28 million tons of CO2 emissions since the 1998 base year of its Climate Savers goal, saving $115 million in reduced energy costs. These efforts are part of the growing trend of businesses, states and local communities taking direct action to address the challenge posed to nature and people by global warming.

IBM and the cities of Aspen and Annapolis will receive awards from WWF for their leadership at an awards dinner on October 3, the eve of a WWF business summit on climate. Participants at this meeting will include business leaders from Nike, Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, several electric power companies including Florida Power & Light, along with the mayors of Annapolis and Aspen.

The City of Aspen's public utility has also joined WWF's PowerSwitch! program, an initiative that challenges power companies and public utilities to support mandatory CO2 limits and commits them to providing consumers with clean energy. Aspen has pledged to buy at least 45 percent of the community's power from environmentally-friendly energy sources (including wind and low-impact small hydro) by 2020, one of the largest proportions among U.S. cities.

"Aspen recognizes it stands to experience the impacts of global warming first-hand. Significant climate change will have disastrous effects on our economy and way of life. Do we want to tell our grandchildren we did nothing to protect their future? If other communities will join us in switching to renewable energy sources, we will make a difference," said Aspen's Mayor Helen Klanderud.

The City of Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, has joined Power Switch! committing to purchase 20 percent of the energy used by the city from renewable sources and increasing efficiency of city operations 15 percent by 2020. The mayor will convene a task force of public and private leaders to develop a plan for implementing these new commitments. The city currently requires that all new local government construction and renovations meet rigorous energy efficiency standards. It has added hybrid vehicles to its fleet and is installing an energy saving green roof on the new addition to the police station.

"As a low lying city with 19 miles of shoreline, we are very concerned about global warming and a rise in sea level. The good news is that if we act now, we can protect our communities and the environment. Reducing emissions doesn't just combat climate change; it makes the air we breathe cleaner," said Mayor Ellen Moyer of Annapolis.

Having already achieved an estimated 20 percent reduction in global CO2 emissions through energy conservation efforts from 1990 to 1997, IBM further reduced the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the company's annual energy use by the equivalent of an average of 5.7 percent from 1998 to 2004, exceeding its Climate Savers commitment of a 4 percent average annual reduction. This achievement is the result of energy conservation efforts and the use of renewable energy sources alone, and does not reflect additional CO2 emissions savings from consolidations and restructuring. Savings from IBM's efforts since 1998 equal taking 51,600 midsize cars that travel 10,000 miles per year off the road. Energy was conserved through simple efforts as well as more complex initiatives. Examples of the projects implemented ranged from installing motion detectors in bathrooms and copier rooms and changing temperature set points in office areas to rebalancing heating and cooling systems and rebuilding and resizing high purity water pumping systems in semiconductor manufacturing lines. IBM also updated its former headquarters building in New York State to meet ENERGY STAR® Building criteria; its new headquarters building in Zurich-Alstetten, Switzerland received the "Minergie" label for building energy efficiency; and the company has relied primarily on renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass in the U.K.

"While some assume that cutting CO2 emissions costs businesses money, we have found just the opposite. Addressing climate change makes business sense," said Wayne Balta, Vice President for Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, IBM. "We have saved more than one hundred million dollars since 1998 by conserving energy. When you consider the significant environmental benefits also achieved, cutting emissions is a win-win proposition."

By 2010, WWF Climate Savers companies will collectively reduce carbon pollution by some 9 million tons annually, approximately the amount generated by 2 million cars or 800,000 houses each year.

Paper maker NorskeCanada joined Climate Savers today pledging to reduce its CO2 emissions 70 percent below its 1990 levels by the year 2010, one of the most significant reductions committed to by a public company. The world's largest directory paper producer, NorskeCanada also makes mechanical printing papers used in catalogues, magazines, ad inserts and daily newspapers. Having already significantly reduced CO2 emissions, the company has committed to cut them even further through lower energy consumption, fuel switching from fossil fuels to biomass, better equipment efficiency, and monthly tracking of CO2 emissions.

"Saving energy and combating climate change go hand and hand. We know that by making smart choices about fuel use, we lower greenhouse gas emissions, increase air quality and reduce operating costs. In the last two years alone we cut our fossil fuel use by 36 percent, the equivalent of 600,000 barrels of oil per year, saving us millions in energy costs," said Lyn Brown, Vice President for Corporate Affairs & Social Responsibility, NorskeCanada. "WWF's Climate Savers program will help us to stay focused on future climate impacts as we make day-to-day operating decisions."

"The debate over whether global warming is happening is over. These companies get the message and are taking action, benefiting people and nature. I applaud these leaders for working with World Wildlife Fund to be part of the solution," said Hans Verolme, director of the WWF US Climate Change Program. "These companies have already increased efficiency by leaps and bounds. Conserving energy and shifting to clean energy has never been easier. America is producing enough renewable energy to power New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. We cannot wait for Washington."

"These efforts by companies and cities send a strong signal that addressing climate change is not only doable, but smart. There are billions of dollars in energy savings out there for the taking." said Dr. Joseph Romm, director of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, former Acting Assistant Energy Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and author of Cool Companies: How the Best Businesses Boost Profits and Productivity By Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Contact: Kerry Zobor, , 202-778-9509
World Wildlife Fund www.wwf.org

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09:18:46 pm, Categories: Air, Health, Latin America, Academic Study/Journal Article, Particulates, 246 words   English (US)

A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Retrofitting Diesel Vehicles with Particulate Filters in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area

In the Mexico City metropolitan area, poor air quality is a public health concern. Diesel vehicles contribute significantly to the emissions that are most harmful to health. Harmful diesel emissions can be reduced by retrofitting vehicles with one of several technologies, including diesel particulate filters. We quantified the social costs and benefits, including health benefits, of retrofitting diesel vehicles in Mexico City with catalyzed diesel particulate filters, actively regenerating diesel particulate filters, or diesel oxidation catalysts, either immediately or in 2010, when capital costs are expected to be lower. Retrofit with either type of diesel particulate filter or an oxidation catalyst is expected to provide net benefits to society beginning immediately and in 2010. At current prices, retrofit with an oxidation catalyst provides greatest net benefits. However, as capital costs decrease, retrofit with diesel particulate filters is expected to provide greater net benefits. In both scenarios, retrofit of older, dirtier vehicles that circulate only within the city provides greatest benefits, and retrofit with oxidation catalysts provides greater health benefits per dollar spent than retrofit with particulate filters. Uncertainty about the magnitude of net benefits of a retrofit program is significant. Results are most sensitive to values used to calculate benefits, such as the concentration-response coefficient, intake fraction (a measure of exposure), and the monetary value of health benefits.

by Gretchen Stevens, Andrew Wilson, and James K. Hammitt Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
Risk Analysis via Blackwell-Synergy www.blackwell-synergy.com
September 2005

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10:46:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, Pennsylvania, Companies, Savings, 1538 words   English (US)

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Leads With Innovative Solution to Help Address PA Energy Needs; Reduces Dependence on Foreign Supplies: Nation's First Waste-Coal-to-Diesel Plant -- Set to Be Built in Pennsylvania -- Will Produce Cheaper, Cleaner Fuel; State Creates Consortium to Purchase 40 Million Gallons of Fuel; DoD Official Joins Governor

Governor Edward G. Rendell today said Pennsylvania is taking a frontrunner position in addressing the country's dependence on foreign oil by supporting the nation's first-ever waste-coal-to- diesel plant and creating a fuel consortium that will purchase nearly all of the cheaper, cleaner diesel fuel that will be produced at the Schuylkill County facility.

"Every day we see the necessity for a national policy to address America's energy needs," Governor Rendell said. "We only have to look at rising fuel prices to feel the impact. Working with the private sector, Pennsylvania is going to build its own energy and keep the money it now spends on foreign energy to make investments here.

"Three years ago, I said we were going to do things differently in Pennsylvania. We were going to lead, not follow. Today we are delivering on that commitment with an innovative energy solution that will mean cleaner, cheaper diesel fuel, more than 1,600 jobs and the use of acres of waste coal that now threaten our environment," the Governor added.

"We are going to be part of changing how America produces its fuel. We are going to ensure Pennsylvania has a long-term supply of clean, secure and affordable energy. Not only will Pennsylvania be the first state to build such a plant, we also will be the first state to use its purchasing power to lead a consortium to purchase some 40 million gallons of this Pennsylvania produced fuel."

The Governor announced the creation of a fuel consortium that will purchase nearly the full output of cheaper, cleaner diesel fuel to be produced by the nation's first-ever waste-coal-to-diesel plant planned for Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County. The plant, which is being built by Waste Management and Processors Inc. (WMPI) of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, will use waste coal to produce as much as 40 million gallons of clean-burning diesel annually.

Pennsylvanians now spend some $30 billion per year on imported energy fuels. However, using and developing home-grown energy sources and supplies has a multiplier effect in local and regional economies that can yield significant economic benefits.

"I am determined to start bringing our independence back as a country," Governor Rendell said. "We are going to keep our own energy dollars and put our own citizens to work by supporting innovative ideas. The market is ripe for investments in major energy projects that stabilize prices, promote domestic employment and economic development, and improve the environment -- all while reducing our dependence on foreign energy imports."

"What Governor Rendell is doing to support this project is simply unprecedented in this country," WMPI President John Rich said. "He is creating hundreds of high-quality, high-paying jobs while taking an extremely meaningful step toward reducing our dependence upon foreign oil. No other state in this country can make that claim."

Construction of the Mahanoy plant will create as many as 1,000 jobs. Operating the plant will produce another 600 permanent high-paying positions. The company expects to break ground and start construction as early as spring of 2006.

At the Governor's direction, the state has worked with potential partners to ensure a long-term, viable market for this innovative project and others like it. The buyers' consortium is led by the commonwealth and private sector businesses that include Worley & Obetz Inc. and Keystone Alliance, a fuel purchase group for the trucking industry. Nearly all of the plant's output, which can be refined for use as diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil, is locked up in principle in purchasing agreements.

Recently, representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) met with Governor Rendell and WMPI to discuss their interest in these fuels and the production facilities, which are much less vulnerable to attack or supply disruption. The U.S. Department of Defense has taken strong interest in Governor Rendell's initiative, and Dr. William Harrison, senior advisor of DoD's Clean Fuels Initiative in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, joined the Governor for the announcement in Harrisburg.

"Construction of this plant will transform the way America produces its own fuel," Governor Rendell said. "For too long, OPEC and energy imports have ruled and threatened us. In Pennsylvania we are beginning to do something about that.

"The pioneering work of this buyers' consortium will send a powerful message to the investment community that there are customers out there ready and willing to make long-term purchase commitments in exchange for a secure supply of affordable energy," Governor Rendell added. "This will provide the economic driver we need to encourage more of these plants to come on line."

The innovation of the Mahanoy plant and Governor Rendell's leadership in creating the buyers' consortium were featured in Barron's, one of the nation's premier financial weekly magazines just last week. The state's leadership also was highlighted by Bloomberg in a national business story Wednesday.

The plant will be the first of its kind in the country and will use an energy source that otherwise would be a threat to the environment. Waste coal contributes to the problem of acid mine drainage, which is the leading water pollution problem in the commonwealth, and represents a public health hazard. Fires that ignite waste coal contribute to poorer air quality. Rural communities and small coal mining towns are plagued by scarred lands.

Fuel prices continue to reach new highs, making investments in new technology imperative and alternative fuels more competitive. The price of diesel produced by the Mahanoy plant will be well below current market costs since the waste coal fuel source is essentially free, and the commonwealth will lock in the supply for some 10 years, the Governor explained.

Aside from being cheaper, the plant's diesel will be cleaner. The fuel will burn with no sulfur emissions -- a contributor to acid rain and global climate change -- and burn with a high level of energy efficiency, making it more economical for drivers. The plant will use state-of-the-art control technology in its manufacturing process to control air emissions.

In addition, the waste heat from making the liquid fuels will be used to generate 41 megawatts of low-cost electric power that will be fed into the grid, a concept known as polygeneration. The waste heat is enough to power more than 40,000 homes.

Pennsylvania has offered significant financial incentives to make energy manufacturing a cornerstone of the state's economic future, including $47 million in tax credits for the development of this project. The U.S. Department of Energy has committed another $100 million in grants, and the recently passed federal energy plan singles out this project for a federal loan guarantee.

This is all part of Governor Rendell's effort to promote advanced energy projects. He has made sure the policies and financial tools are in place to promote the industry. The Governor's success and leadership in building a clean energy future was recognized recently by former President Bill Clinton at the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative, an international summit.

Pennsylvania is now home to one of the nation's most progressive alternative energy portfolio standards, ensuring that in 15 years, 18 percent of all energy generated comes from clean, efficient sources. Pennsylvania is one of only two states with a portfolio standard that includes energy efficiency. Benefits include $10 billion in increased output for Pennsylvania, $3 billion in additional earnings and between 3,500 and 4,000 news jobs for residents over the next 20 years.

Governor Rendell's Growing Greener II initiative provides significant resources to build on the success of other energy initiatives, including up to $10 million annually for the newly revitalized Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority. PEDA has available up to $1 billion to provide financing to help build clean power and fuel plants.

In June, PEDA awarded its first $10 million to finance 17 clean energy projects that promote applied energy research, provide financial incentives for the deployment of clean, alternative energy projects and encourage investment in Pennsylvania's energy sector. These projects will create as many as 1,786 permanent and construction jobs in the commonwealth. In addition, the research projects, if successful, could net as many as 327 full- time jobs.

The Governor is actively promoting the development of a new manufacturing sector that focuses on advanced and renewable energy systems, energy efficiency and conservation, and clean advanced energy businesses, and encouraging companies that are located elsewhere to consider establishing manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution centers in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest grant program funds projects that build markets for advanced and renewable energy technologies that use biomass, wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, landfill methane, energy efficiency, coal- bed methane and waste coal. The program has awarded $10 million and leveraged another $26.7 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003.

Governor Rendell also signed an executive order, "Energy Management and Conservation in the Commonwealth," that ensures maximum efficiency in energy management and conservation in state facilities through the implementation of a centralized energy strategy. This measure will decrease energy consumption and energy costs and promote a cleaner environment.

More recently, Governor Rendell announced a plan to replace some 25 percent of the state's vehicle fleet with hybrids by 2011.

For more information on these energy initiatives, visit the state's Web site at http://www.state.pa.us, Keyword: "DEP Alternative Energy."

CONTACT: Kate Philips, 717-783-1116, or Susan Woods, 717-787-1323
Source: Press Release from Pennsylvania Office of the Governor via
Yahoo Business PR News http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, U.S., Savings, 291 words   English (US)

EPA Raises the Bar for New Homes to Earn Energy Star Label

Builders of new homes in the United States will have to significantly increase the energy efficiency of their homes to meet new Energy Star requirements released today. Over the next 20 years, EPA estimates that this increase in energy efficiency for Energy Star qualified homes will save homeowners more than $2 billion in utility bills, while eliminating more than 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify under the revised Energy Star specifications, new homes must have higher levels of insulation inspected for proper installation; complete framing and air barrier assemblies that enable insulation to perform at its full rated value; windows that meet or exceed Energy Star requirements; high-efficiency and properly sized heating and cooling equipment appropriate to the climate; and more energy-efficient water heating, lighting and appliances. The new specifications build upon many recent energy code changes and results from the nation's leading energy efficiency research program for new homes, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Building America program. The revised specifications are being released in the fall of 2005, and will initially take effect July 1, 2006.

Energy Star is a voluntary program, managed by the EPA with assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Star label can be found on new homes, appliances, electronics, office equipment, lighting, heating and cooling systems, and buildings. Currently there are more than 2,500 home builders who have constructed more than 400,000 Energy Star qualified homes, including close to 10 percent of the new housing starts in 2004. For more information about Energy Star, visit: http://www.energystar.gov

Contact: John Millett, 202-564-4355 /
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program www.energystar.gov

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Upstate, Transportation, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 269 words   English (US)

New buses to cut costs, pollution, NFTA says: 30 hybrid vehicles expected next year

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is out to cut fuel costs and emissions by adding 30 hybrid buses to its Metro Bus fleet.

Diesel engines on the 40-foot, 38-passenger buses will generate electricity, while a highly efficient electric motor will drive the wheels. The electric motors kick in during acceleration and recharge during braking.

In addition to reducing engine emissions by more than 50 percent, the hybrid vehicles also are expected to use at least 25 percent less diesel fuel than a traditional bus.

The NFTA executive board Monday unanimously approved a $16.1 million contract with Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., for the 30 buses, which are expected to start rolling on the authority's routes in Erie and Niagara counties late next year. The agreement also authorizes the NFTA to order up to 150 more hybrid vehicles over five years.

"This will reduce our fuel costs, but it's also the socially responsible thing to do," Commissioner Henry Sloma said. "We're big fuel users, and we should do what can to cut our consumption through this new technology."

The hybrid buses are expected to get 5.3 miles per gallon of No. 2 diesel fuel, compared with 4.6 miles per gallon for the current buses. When the 30 high-tech buses join the fleet, fuel costs are forecast to drop by more than $100,000 annually.

The "low floor" buses, which reduce entry-step climbing for passengers, also will feature automatic stop announcements, video surveillance cameras, cushioned seats, improved driver seating and an automatic passenger-counting system.

The new buses will replace Metro Buses that have been in service since early 1994.

The Buffalo News www.buffalonews.com

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The hidden costs of biofuels

Are biofuels all they're cracked up to be? (Image:iStockphoto)
Concerns that the health and environmental impacts of biofuels haven't been properly examined have arisen following a recent Australian government report and a pledge to promote their use.

The Report of the Biofuels Taskforce to the Prime Minister released last week found that the government's own targets on producing biofuels, namely ethanol and biodiesel, aren't being met.

And the Australian government has promised to do more to reach its target of producing 350 megalitres of biofuels a year by 2010.

But not everyone agrees that biofuels are the hoped-for magic bullet as an alternative to fossil fuels.

One of them, environmental engineer and pollution expert Dr Robert Niven of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, says his research shows ethanol may increase groundwater contamination and photochemical smog.

"It's sort of entered the mythology," he says of the claimed benefits of ethanol, admitting his findings about air pollution, published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews this year, came as a surprise.

The ethanol debate

Ethanol, which is distilled from sugar or grains, can be used on its own or added to petrol to increase combustion efficiency and cut back emissions.

Niven says the report glosses over the environmental consequences of ethanol.

He says ethanol can increase corrosion of underground petrol storage tanks, leading to increased leakage.

And once a leak has occurred the ethanol prevents biodegradation of the petroleum because the microbes that normally attack the petrol go for the ethanol instead.

"These effects work against the ability of the natural environment to restore itself," he says.

Niven also says ethanol produces higher volatile emissions through evaporation and more nitrogen oxide emissions compared with fossil fuels.

Together these produce photochemical smog, or ground level ozone, the cause of the "brown haze" that sometimes shrouds Australia's most populous city Sydney.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

CSIRO Low Emissions Transport leader Dr David Lamb says ethanol may help society "escape from the tyranny of oil", but its benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), are small in the scheme of things.

"We measure the CO2 used in fertilising the crop, plus transportation, plus machinery, plus when you burn it in the car," says.

"We add that up and offset it against the CO2 absorbed by the sugar cane when it's growing and the answer is it's a little bit favourable."

And while he says he hasn't seen anything to suggest ethanol increases particulates in exhaust more tests are needed.

He says every litre of fossil fuel burnt puts 2.3 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere, which translates to an average of 4.3 tonnes of CO2 for every car in the world, every year.


Some research suggests ethanol may contribute to photochemical smog

The government's target for biofuel production, which adds up to 0.1% of the fuel used in transportation in Australia each year, is a mere drop in the ocean and would make a negligible difference in terms of health or environment, he says.

"If you're getting a marginal improvement in one tenth of one per cent of the oil ... you'd certainly not be able to measure it in terms of population health," he says.

"And let's not kid ourselves that this is going to solve the global warming problem."


Biodiesel, a green replacement for diesel, is produced by converting the triglycerides in products like tallow and cooking oils into highly oxygenated compounds.

Dr Len Humphreys is the chief executive officer of the Australian Biodiesel Group, which has the country's largest biodiesel plant. The plant produces biodiesel from animal fat from abattoirs and used cooking oil from local food outlets.

Located on the Central Coast in New South Wales, it can producing 44 million litres of biodiesel a year, Humphreys says, and the company is building a second, bigger plant, in Queensland.

Humphreys says biodiesel is clean-burning, gentle on engines and releases less polyaromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene, than diesel.

Niven agrees, saying biodiesel is "less of a problem" than ethanol.

Humphreys also says the report is inclusive about the health implications of biofuels. But he says it's "commonsense" that reducing particulate emissions will entail health benefits.

Market protectionism?

Lamb says the major stumbling blocks to the introduction of ethanol are the big oil companies, who want to protect their markets.

But the corporate affairs manager of Caltex, Richard Beattie, says the company is already Australia's biggest biofuels marketer and is planning to expand biofuels production to help the government achieve its goals.

He says it's consumers, not oil companies, who need to be convinced that ethanol won't wreck their cars.

"The only significant problem with ethanol is consumer confidence in the product," he says.

According to the report, these concerns are unfounded, as long as you've got a new car and don't put in too much ethanol.

"The taskforce concludes that almost all post-1986 vehicles can operate satisfactorily on E10 [10% ethanol]," it says.

The future of biofuels will be on the agenda this week at a meeting between the government and Australian oil company heads.

Judy Skatssoon
ABC Science Online (Australia) www.abc.net.au

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City jumps aboard the 'green' building train

As more and more builders, suppliers and governments adopt sustainable practices, the City of Ottawa has recently followed suit, offering businesses increased incentives to go green.

The city's corporate services and economic development committee approved last week the development of a green building policy. This plan will require new buildings and large-scale renovations to be designed, delivered and operated in a more sustainable manner.

"Clearly we need to do everything we can to build buildings and maintain buildings in a much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly way than we have in the past," says Paul Koch, chair of the city's environmental advisory committee. "The EAC has been trying to raise the profile of these issues because when people start thinking in that direction, then they start acting in that direction."

As a part of this new policy, staff will also be applying the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Canada rating system to the city's new building and renovations.

LEED Canada has four levels – certified, silver, gold and platinum – to demonstrate improved fiscal, social and environmental management. City staff say Ottawa will pursue the Silver LEED rating.

The financial implications mean the city will require an additional investment of five per cent of total construction costs for new projects in order to take advantage of the operating cost savings associated with sustainable building practices.

Staff say this initial investment up front generally yields a savings of more than 10 times the expenditure and the initial costs should decrease once the design and construction communities gain more experience with sustainable building. Energy savings can often amount to 25 per cent a year.

Mr. Koch says one of the challenges of moving towards more sustainable building is the initial cost outlay.

"When people do the life-cycle cost analysis, sometimes they're not willing or able to make the upfront investment and they don't do the 'right' thing," he says. "But ultimately there's a penalty to be paid because the energy costs are much higher than they need to be."

Mr. Koch says he is encouraged by the growing number of green projects within the city, but other Canadian cities and many European countries have surpassed Ottawa in terms of developing green policies.

"There are some good people here starting to do a lot of good work," he says, referring to the number of green condominium and commercial ventures in the city, including The Currents condo project on Wellington Street by Windmill Developments. "But I don't think the city government has been taking the leadership role and that's why we've been pushing for this policy to increase the level of education about green practices. If you don't know about these things, then you're not going to do anything about them."

Mr. Koch says the decision to develop a city-wide strategy to promote and install green roofs in Ottawa is also encouraging.

Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes is also a strong proponent of this project and she says as energy costs continue to rise, the city has to adopt more of these strategies.

"Green roofs are a great idea and we're not trying to build it for esthetic purposes, it's a system of planting that allows for a much cooler roof," she says. "These systems are a way to keep energy costs down year round and the city is going to have to help people build these roofs."

At the committee meeting, Coun. Holmes asked for a report to be prepared by city staff that will provide incentives for companies and builders who are interested in incorporating green roofs.

"I hope that we see the city come out with a reduction in taxes for the first couple of years or a reduction in building permit fees," she says. "At least some kind of incentive to help all of us with our air quality and reducing energy costs."

Coun. Holmes says the actual implementation of an incentive strategy probably won't be presented to city council until sometime in the spring. Full council is expected to ratify the green building policy at its Sept. 28 meeting.

Ottawa Business Journal www.ottawabusinessjournal.com

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07:01:00 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, U.S., U.K., Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, China, 797 words   English (US)

U.K. Favors `Clean' Fossil Fuel Over Nuclear Power, Morley Says

The U.K., Europe's third-largest power market, should turn to technologies that remove carbon dioxide from fossil fuels rather than nuclear generation, Environment Minister Elliot Morley said.

Nuclear reactors cost as much as 2 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) to build, Morley said. So-called ``clean'' coal and gas, being developed by BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, may be a cheaper way of reducing emissions blamed for global warming.

``You do have to look at costs and benefits,'' Morley, 53, said in an interview in London. ``Nuclear plants are expensive and if you're looking at the energy mix, then at the moment I think you'll probably get more value from investment in clean coal.''

Aging nuclear and coal-fired stations that generate 40 percent of Britain's power will be closed in the next decade, and the government has to decide how to replace them. Prime Minister Tony Blair said April 28 the government has no plans to build a new generation of nuclear plants and is encouraging alternative sources of carbon-free electricity to curb greenhouse gases.

Morley's department will publish a review of energy policy by year-end that may include tax breaks for companies developing so- called carbon capture and storage technologies including BP, Europe's biggest oil company, and Royal Dutch Shell, the second- biggest. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said in March he would ``examine the potential'' for incentives.

``Nuclear may have a role down the line,'' Morley said in the interview Sept. 7. ``Modern nuclear plants are much less complex than older ones, but the problems with nuclear energy are not really resolved yet.''

Low Emissions

Carbon capture technology uses chemical reactions with steam, oxygen, and carbon monoxide at extreme heat to separate carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal or gas, producing a power source with few or no carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide is responsible for pushing up the earth's temperature, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

BP, Royal Dutch and ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, are jointly developing a $600 million project in the North Sea to separate methane natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen would fuel a carbon-free power plant operated by Scottish & Southern Energy Plc in Northeast Scotland, BP spokesman David Nichols said in an interview.

The U.S. government and nine companies, including American Electric Power Co. and BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, are jointly building a $870 million clean-coal plant. The location has yet to be decided.

Kyoto Targets

The technology may help U.K. efforts to cut carbon emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2010 and to 40 percent by 2050, targets that go beyond international commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Britain's carbon emissions have risen in the past three years.

In a 2003 consultative paper, the government set a target of raising the share of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro electricity to 10 percent of total supply by 2010 and to 20 percent by 2020.

Eighteen of Britain's 23 nuclear reactors, some of them as old as 60 years, are due to be taken out of service by 2015. The government report said concerns about the cost of building new plants and safely storing nuclear waste make replacing them an ``unattractive'' option.

At stake are potential contracts for companies including General Electric, Munich-based Siemens AG, Areva SA of France and British Nuclear Fuels Plc's Westinghouse unit, which build the reactors, and Essen, Germany-based RWE AG and Dusseldorf-based E.ON AG, which operate the plants.

Government Aid?

Setting-up costs for nuclear reactors are three times those of gas-fired plants, so government guarantees would be needed to persuade utilities to put up money that may take decades to recover, according to nuclear policy analysts including Malcolm Gristom at Chatham House, a London-based research group.

Blair has refused to rule out the possibility that some new nuclear plants will be needed to meet energy requirements in the U.K., which uses 340,000 gigawatt hours a year, the third highest in Europe after Germany and France.

Companies such as E.On say nuclear energy is no more expensive than alternatives, providing costs aren't driven up by excessive regulation.

``We think there's actually quite a strong case to argue for nuclear power from an economic point of view,'' said Simon Skillings, head of head of strategy and regulation at E.On U.K., a unit of Europe's largest publicly traded utility.

Demand for clean-coal plants may increase in countries such as India and China, both reliant on coal to fuel their surging economic growth.

China is now the world's largest energy user after the U.S. On Sept. 5, the European Union agreed to give the nation a coal- fired plant that emits small amounts of carbon dioxide so Chinese engineers can copy it when they build their own power stations.

by Alexander Hanrath,

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PNC embraces new shade of green

A pale blue light glows from behind the large windows of PNC Bank's newest branch in the Pittsburgh Mills shopping area, setting the brick, steel and glass building apart from a nearby department store and fast-food restaurants.

But inside, it's all green. The countertops are made of pressed paper and neutral floors are made from sawdust and linseed oil. And that coarse gray rug at the entry? That's hog's hair.

The design is all part of a "green building" prototype the company uses to build new branches that are more environmentally friendly. PNC is building 90 new branches over the next three years, all based on the green building concept. And other retailers are quickly following suit.

Rick Fedrizzi, the president and CEO of the US Green Building Council, said PNC has become a leader in green building.

"What's really important is that it sends a message to PNC bank customers that their organization is walking the talk," Fedrizzi said. "There's a number (of businesses) that go out there and start waving the green flag" but PNC is really doing it.

Gary Saulson, PNC's real estate director, said he's been contacted by many companies, and even some competitors, looking for advice on building more environmentally friendly buildings. Officials from PNC also sit on a USGBC committee of retailers -- include Starbucks, Gap and Aveda -- who discuss the benefits and issues associated with going green.

"We don't do anything that doesn't have a payback," Saulson said. The new buildings are 43 percent more energy efficient than older branches, unique floor coverings and paint inside require little maintenance, and the toilets require less water, he said.

Even the cost of building the green branches has come down. Now, with more manufacturers making environmentally friendly products, PNC saves about $100,000 when it builds a green building as opposed to using traditional construction products and techniques, Saulson said. Each new branch, ranging in size from about 3,200 to 3,600 square feet, will cost about $1.4 million.

There are 273 buildings in the country that have been certified green by the U.S. Green Building Council, and another 2,164 are seeking certification. The largest green building is Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Established in 1993, the council promotes a system to rate a building's environmental and energy efficiencies as a voluntary national standard.

"There is so much valuable information out there that I think it would be embarrassing for anyone to build a building and not consider to build the building green," Fedrizzi said.

Seattle-based Starbucks uses sustainable wood products, energy-efficient lighting and reduced-flow water fixtures in all its stores, company spokeswoman Sonja Gould said.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart opened the first of two stores aimed at testing the effectiveness and possible cost savings of green building. The 206,000-square-foot building in Texas features a 120-foot tall wind turbine that will produce about 5 percent of the store's energy and a rainwater harvesting pond designed to provide 95 percent of the water needed for irrigation.

Target and other stores are incorporating low-maintenance, rooftop gardens on some locations to reduce energy costs.

The trend isn't just limited to retailers, either. Haverford College, located outside of Philadelphia, will open a new $30 million, 100,000-square-foot athletic center next month that has solar collectors, recycled water and all-natural finishes.

"One goal was to make it a beautiful architectural statement," college President Tom Tritton said. "The other was to be responsible stewards of the environment."

For the branch manager at PNC's newest location, though, the best benefit of green building is that she gets to enjoy the results of it each day. Seema Batra said customers have been coming in already, commenting on how beautiful the bank is.

"When you enter, the natural light strikes you," Batra said, "and that's what people notice."

By The Associated Press
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review

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Buildings are greener on all sides

A look at some of the area's green buildings, the efforts behind them and the rewards they've brought.

Will County Forest Preserve headquarters, Joliet

On a sunny day, the 46 solar panels attached to the Will County Forest Preserve District office can produce enough electricity to power the building's computers and telephone system, said spokesman Bruce Hodgdon.

The district staff moved into its new office in October 2003. It cost about $5.2 million to build, including architecture and construction, as well as the furniture and computers for the district's 35 full-time employees, Hodgdon said.

"I believe we save $1,000 a month on electricity," Hodgdon said. "The other things are really hard to quantify. We have faucets that turn on and off automatically. We have lights that turn on in a room when you step in and turn off when you leave. It's hard to quantify as to how much those save, but common sense tells you when a light is not burning in an empty room, it saves money."

Other green-building features include recycled plastic countertops and bathroom partitions, recycled bathroom tile and rubber flooring made from old tires.

The district used natural landscaping with native prairie plants around the building, which don't have to be watered or fertilized.

Lyman Woods interpretive center, Downers Grove

One of the more unusual features of this building is its green roof. It's a flat roof planted with prairie plants, including asters, grasses, and columbines, that trap rainwater and reduce the need for stormwater detention, said Alice Eastman, manager of natural resources and interpretive services for the Downers Grove Park District.

"We had to do a little extra engineering to make sure whatever goes up on the roof isn't going to come through," she said.

The interpretive center, which opened in June 2003, also used recycled materials in its construction, she said.

"Not all of the building's ceilings are finished," she said. "Only one has drywall. The other ones are open to the supports in an effort to reduce the materials that went into the building."

The multipurpose room, which faces south, uses natural light and has windows that open to the outside to allow for fresh air and circulation.

"The placement of the building on the property was a green choice," she said. "We have 155 acres, but this northern part of the park is where there used to be 38 home sites, so there was already an old house on the site of the building and already a driveway and already access to water and sewer and electric."

This is the first green building the Downers Grove district has completed, she said. That means officials are still waiting to see how much money it will save them. The green roof alone cost $50,000, she said.

"We had to do a lot of guessing on budgets — how much electricity is going to cost us, how much water is going to cost us — and we had to base it on a building of similar footage," she said. "So far, the actual cost has been lower than our guesses."

Villa Park police station, Villa Park

Better stormwater management was the driving force behind the green roof on Villa Park's new police station, which was completed in October 2004, said Village Manager Bob Niemann.

The two-story station cost about $4.3 million. The village built it on a 1.5-acre lot next to its old police station, which was renovated for the village's public works and engineering staff.

"One of the things we considered was, by putting a green roof on the building, it reduced the amount of water retention we had to provide," Niemann said. "Then, quite frankly, there was some grant money available for this, so we were able to capitalize on that, also."

In addition to the green roof, which is sown with drought-resistant prairie plants, the station, which is about 20,000 square feet, is made of recycled construction materials and landscaped with more native plants, Niemann said.

"It's all natural, native plantings around the building, so there's no need for watering in a typical year," he said. "This year might be the exception.

Even though the green-construction features increased the building's cost, the grants the village got offset those extra expenses, Niemann said.

"Down the road, there's roofing costs and other maintenance costs we should be able to eliminate," he said. "We should be able to realize cost savings as the building gets older."

The village's experience with this building will probably influence future public buildings, he said.

"I think in the future we're going to see more and more of it," he said. "It's the stormwater detention thing that's the big hangup in a lot of buildings. When you're putting a decent-sized building on a smaller-sized lot, you have to be creative."

Calamos Financial building, Naperville

The new Calamos Financial building, at Interstate 88 and Route 59 on the Naperville-Warrenville border, is waiting for certification by the U.S. Green Building Council as a green building.

The 300 employees who work there moved into the six-story building in July, said Dan Slack, president of Calamos Real Estate.

The building has floor-to-ceiling windows and glass-fronted private offices to let in as much natural light as possible, Slacksaid. The floors that have workers' cubicles are also designed to allow the sunlight to stream in.

"There's more natural light, and people respond to that," he said. "The productivity goes up, they feel better and they come to work more."

The natural light also allows for indirect light fixtures in workspaces, which Slacksaid are easier on computer users' eyes.

"Everyone, not just the executives, gets the benefit of natural light," he said.

The building also uses displaced ventilation. There is a space under the floor, and the air comes up through round diffusers. People can control the temperatures in their own workspaces, Slack said.

The carpet is installed in squares, so replacing a stained or worn portion means replacing only that square.

Office partitions can be rearranged to accommodate changing numbers of employees.

To him, green design principles make an office that employees like to work in.

"At the end of the day, we feel good design sells, and with good design comes all these environmental credits," he said.

Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook

The high school, which opened in 2004, serves about 3,400 students and cost about $97 million, including land and furnishings, said Russ Fletcher, the Valley View School District's school/community relations specialist.

"That one has turned out even better than many of us envisioned when we started hearing about it in 2001," said Fletcher, who was the head of the referendum committee when the high school and other building projects were proposed.

"I had some personal concerns about the dollar amounts we were going to be investing in these buildings, but I was confident we would be able to show that these facilities and the features we were bringing to the community were worthwhile investments, and the support from all aspects of the community has been extremely positive," Fletcher said.

The school is constructed from recycled building materials and designed so classrooms get lots of natural sunlight, he said.

"Studies have shown that students learn better in environments that are provided with natural sunlight, so that was a major priority in the design of the building," he said.

The building also has a condensate recovery system that recovers the water used in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for recycling.

"That feature alone is estimated to save about 300,000 gallons of water annually," Fletcher said.

There are automated systems that control lighting and climate to minimize the energy used when the building is empty, and the parking lot has bioswales, which filter rainwater runoff through rocks and natural vegetation.

The athletic fields are watered with groundwater drawn from a well, rather than municipal water, he said.

District officials don't know what kind of cost savings they may see from the new high school, but Fletcher said their experience is starting to influence other building projects.

The school district is building a K-8 campus in Romeoville, which will be two separate school buildings on the same property. In addition to using natural sunlight and other green-building features, the two schools will share a central kitchen, which wouldn't have been possible if they didn't share the same parcel.

"We feel this kind of design will save our taxpayers about $1 million in construction, equipment and cost efficiencies," Fletcher said. "We're able to use our common space more efficiently because of land being shared between two buildings."

By Meg Dedolph
The Plainfield Sun www.suburbanchicagonews.com

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LA Weekly: Clear and Present Danger: Solving Smog: Our suggestions for ways out of this mess

Los Angeles air is filthy. Each day, some 1,650 tons a day of pollution that causes ozone are emitted, as well as 293 tons per day of particulate matter and 60 tons of sulfur oxides, which form particles downwind. After the federal government canceled the federal one-hour ozone standard earlier this year — which the area was to have met in 2010 — and replaced it with an eight-hour standard that must be met in 2021, the South Coast Air Quality Management District can no longer show exactly what will be needed to clean up the area’s air.

It will, however, clearly require lawmakers and regulators to make some bold moves. Key among them will be providing adequate funding for air-pollution control programs and reversing the sprawl that creates auto dependence. New environmental-analysis tools point clearly in this direction, but government must begin using them now to justify bold actions. New technology will be needed too, like hydrogen-powered cars, but it will be slow in coming and is unlikely to clean the air anytime soon.

Here are some bold solutions to the region’s air-pollution health crisis. They are based on discussions with leaders in air-pollution control and culled from historical documents and various plans and studies by AQMD, the California Air Resources Board, federal EPA and environmental groups like the Sierra Club. Many of the pollution-reduction figures for these solutions are rough, particularly those concerning sprawl. Yet they show what could be accomplished through new approaches. The total emission reductions here may add up to more pollution than is emitted, showing the untapped potential of creative approaches.


Clean House: William Burke, chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and Barry Wallerstein, AQMD executive officer, promised clean air and environmental justice when they took over the agency in 1997. Eight years later, the toxicity of the air in Los Angeles is increasing, and progress on ozone has virtually ceased. The district no longer even has a plan showing how it can meet updated federal health standards. The California Air Resources Board has lost focus too, since the departure of its chairman, Alan Lloyd, a Gray Davis appointee. The board is moving slowly to adopt needed regulations. The first thing needed now is for the Legislature to reorganize the AQMD and ARB, expanding their mandate and bringing in new leadership willing to take the strong steps and advocate for the bold changes really needed to achieve environmental justice and healthful air. The Legislature reorganized air-quality programs in the late 1980s and the rejuvenation brought a decade of steady progress, after a period of stagnation earlier in the ’80s. Stagnation has set in once again. So it’s time for lawmakers to shake things up. New people, new ideas, new forms of regional governance, new legal powers and more resources are desperately needed.

Benefit to Air: Jump-starting the region’s air cleanup could avoid 41 tons of pollutants a day by speeding adoption of stalled rules.

Bring Back the 1984 Olympics Traffic Controls: When Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Olympics, city and AQMD officials kept smog down for athletes by increasing carpools, keeping trucks off the road at rush hour and providing more public transit. AQMD tried to pursue these strategies on a permanent basis in the late 1980s and early 1990s under new authority that the Legislature granted in 1987 over so-called “indirect sources” of air pollution, such as shopping centers, office buildings and warehouses that are magnets for cars and trucks. AQMD, for instance, wanted shopping malls, concert and sports venues, and office-building owners to provide free shuttle buses and incentives to patrons to carpool. When businesses complained, the Legislature removed AQMD’s authority to regulate indirect sources. Given the air-pollution health emergency, it’s time for lawmakers to give that power back. Already, extended port hours initiated earlier this year promise to ease congestion-related pollution by spreading out truck traffic. With indirect source authority, AQMD could bring further improvements by requiring warehousing centers to operate at non-peak traffic hours and shopping malls, stadiums, office complexes, and concert halls to do their part too. The Olympics program cut ozone by 12 percent, according to the federal EPA.

Benefit to Air: Translating 1984’s gains into today’s more congested freeways, would bring conservative savings of 198 tons a day.


Funding the AQMD: The South Coast Air Quality Management District regulates more businesses than ever, yet its budget and staff levels have been in decline for years. This year, the agency will operate on a budget of $105 million with a staff of 768, down from $108 million last year and a staff of 773. The problem is that as emissions decline from factories, the agency’s emissions-fee revenues decline, undermining its ability to adopt and enforce the ever widening net of regulations and programs needed to finish the job of cleaning Southern California’s air. One solution is to broaden the agency’s base of fees through a modest property-tax add-on throughout the region it serves. With some 5 million structures throughout the region, an assessment amounting to less than a dollar a month for the average property owner would provide plenty of money for the AQMD general fund. The Legislature would have to act to make it happen. More funding for AQMD likely would eliminate untold excess emissions. If non-compliance at businesses policed by the AQMD is just one-fifth as bad as at gas stations, which emit some 10 tons per day of illegal emissions, a substantial amount of pollution would be eliminated once the money began to flow and more inspectors were hired.

Benefit to Air: It appears that enforcing current laws could spare our skies and lungs as much as 80 tons a day.

Funding Cleanup of the Freight Industry: The cost of fully cleaning up the diesel soot and nitrogen-oxide emissions from the trains, trucks, ships and other heavy vehicles and equipment needed to keep cheap imports flowing is unknown. The Port of Los Angeles estimates that just to keep emissions related to its facilities from growing will cost some $16 billion. Then there is the Port of Long Beach. The Southern California Association of Governments projects that $26 billion of new highways, rail lines and other transportation facilities will be needed to accommodate growth at the region’s ports. Next year, the Legislature should pass a bill by Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) to charge a fee on each container shipped through the port. With a $30 fee per container it would raise almost $400 million a year, adding just pennies to the price of the imported goods. Truckers who haul containers could clean up their trucks with the money. Exploited by big retailers as independent contractors who make about $8 an hour, they cannot afford new rigs themselves. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should vigorously back this bill, which was blocked by shippers and the governor this year. In addition, SCAG is right in calling for any new transportation facilities for shippers to be paid off by tolls. L.A. Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Juanita Millender-McDonald, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, should galvanize a California effort to win more federal money for transportation improvements and other measures that can clean up shipping. Half the goods shipped through here go to the rest of the nation, yet the federal government will pay less than 25 percent of what’s needed to keep the freight rolling, according to SCAG. Regional leaders should seek to reduce port pollution, rather than simply maintain pollution at today’s levels. If pollution from the Port of Long Beach — where emissions are unknown since administrators have never bothered to calculate them — are similar to those from the Port of Los Angeles, there is substantial cleanup potential.

Benefit to Air: A crackdown to reduce port pollution by 20 percent could eliminate 30 tons a day. A 40 percent crackdown would double that amount.

Funding Retirement of High-Polluting Old Vehicles: Old cars not built to meet today’s tight automotive-emissions standards and often not properly maintained could be repaired to eliminate 51 tons per day of smog-forming emissions by 2010, according to the Air Resources Board. However, most people drive old cars because they cannot afford a new one. The problem could be solved by having drivers of sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks mitigate their added emissions by paying to fix and even replace old vehicles driven by the poor. Half of the region’s vehicles are sport utilities and trucks and while today’s models must meet the same emissions standards as smaller cars, they use twice the gasoline. More oil pumping through refineries and gasoline pumping through nozzles means higher emissions because of the proliferation of SUVs and their high-and-mighty owners. The Legislature could act to place a pollution surcharge on the registration for SUVs. A surcharge of $100 for new SUVs, declining as they age, would bring in a substantial amount of money to clean up and replace the old vehicles, and wouldn’t be onerous for SUV owners. After all, they have taken a $100 increase in their monthly gasoline bill in stride. What’s another $8-and-change a month?

Benefit to air: This would reduce pollution by the equivalent of a small Third World nation, or 236 tons a day.

Funding Hydrogen Highways: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hydrogen-highways program represents the best long-term path to the zero-emissions vehicles Los Angeles needs to clean its air, reduce its contribution to global warming and dramatically reduce its dependence on fossil fuels as long as the hydrogen is made with renewable energy. However, the way the program is set up, the hydrogen mostly will be made of heavily subsidized fossil fuels that impose massive health costs on the region. The Legislature could level the playing field by placing a nickel-a-gallon tax on gasoline. The money could be used to fund development of solar- and wind-powered hydrogen production facilities and offset tax incentives for motorists to purchase hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicles. If the economics of the program work as planned, the tax would raise almost $800 million a year, enough to fuel and place about a million hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road before 2020, cutting smog-forming emissions by some 30 tons a day from projected levels for that year, and cutting petroleum usage by up to about 7 percent. This would give the program a good start and eventually make hydrogen cars dominant, eliminating an addtional 306 tons of smog-forming emissions.

Benefit to Air: This could cut air pollution from today’s level by more than 20 percent, eliminating 336 tons a day.


Cleaner Factories: Southern California industries, from refineries to factories, still have not installed all of the pollution-control equipment that they should. AQMD has catalogued pollution controls that Southern California businesses can install, from refineries to farms, which could cut smog-forming emissions by at least 39 tons a day from today’s air-pollution levels if necessary rules were adopted and fully enforced. However, the schedule for adopting many of these rules has lagged. Even some that were first proposed in the late 1990s have only been adopted this year or have yet to be adopted.

Benefit to Air: By AQMD’s own estimate, 39 tons a day, but expect even more.

Tighten Emissions Trading: AQMD says it can eliminate three tons a day of smog-forming emissions from major power plants, refineries and factories by 2010 by tightening its emissions-trading program. However, the district has made tightening the standards a contingency measure in its cleanup plan. The district should not wait in an area where air pollution constitutes a public-health emergency. Every ton counts.

Benefit to Air: AQMD estimates it would cut three tons a day. But they have every reason to be underestimating this one.

Tighter State and Federal Standards: The Los Angeles area needs the California Air Resources Board to set tighter standards for diesel vehicles, construction equipment, diesel fuel, consumer products like aerosol cans and cleaning fluids, and other sources of pollution. Doing so could reduce smog-forming emissions by 122 tons per day by 2010. The federal EPA could set tight standards for locomotives and work more diligently to clean up ships and airplanes to achieve additional reductions.

Benefit to Air: At least 122 tons a day would be cut, and more if EPA acts.

Require Advanced Technology: AQMD could revise its rules to require that new electricity-production facilities run on solar energy or wind power where feasible. The state already is requiring utilities to purchase renewable power on behalf of their customers, and wind power is now often less expensive than power from burning natural gas. Meanwhile, in the summer, natural-gas plants run hard here in the region. In addition, the Legislature could require green buildings that use recycled materials, energy-efficient heat pumps powered by rooftop solar panels for heating and cooling, and other features to reduce emissions from factories making construction materials and power plants making electricity. There are many advanced technologies that could be employed to reduce smog-forming emissions by converting the region to renewable energy.

Benefit to Air: Figure 62 tons could be spared through innovative planning.


Eliminate Automotive Subsidies: The Federal Highway Administration estimates the social costs of driving — pollution, noise, crashes and congestion — at 18 cents a mile. Others estimate such costs may be twice as high. The state Legislature, counties and cities should move to eliminate the free ride for motorists in a nonregressive manner. Options include fees levied for vehicle miles traveled, with reduced fees for poor people or those who are responsible and choose hybrids and other extremely low-emission vehicles, collected through the annual auto-registration process. Free parking should be eliminated in the suburbs and in office parks. Fees should be imposed for driving into downtown areas at rush hour, as is now the case in London and other cities. The money should be used to fund public transit and redevelopment with low-income housing along transit lines.

Benefit to Air: Depending on how imaginative we want to be, this could spur millions to sell their cars and avoid emitting 49 tons a day of pollution per million cars taken off the road, based on today’s emissions levels.

Create a Regional Planning and Management Agency with Real Power: Greater Los Angeles has more people than 47 states, yet in many respects it’s governed like a series of small towns. Air-quality leaders should push the Legislature to create a regional planning and management agency similar to the Greater Vancouver Regional District that can enforce an integrated approach to environmental management.

Benefit to Air: Expect a huge reduction of as much as 98 tons a day once this agency wrests power from small-time thinkers serving as county supervisors and city council members and eliminates the equivalent of 2 million cars a day from the roads.

Rezone for Density: As painful as it may seem to historical preservationists, local governments along transit lines and in key downtown areas identified in regional plans should modify zoning laws to allow single-family home owners to build multi-unit housing structures on their properties. As long as population growth continues, sprawl will continue unless alternative locations are opened to housing development. Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia have done this and while they have lost many a Victorian house, they have gained cleaner air and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods with affordable housing, and they are much closer to developing a sustainable economy that does not require as much petroleum.

Benefit to Air: It might not be the prettiest cure, but it could reap reductions of 98 tons a day as the housing market tightens.

Create More Agricultural Preserves and Green Zones: The state Legislature, county boards of supervisors and major cities should designate farm preserves and champion bond measures to purchase and preserve as green zones the land surrounding the metropolitan area to eliminate places for sprawling development.

Benefit to Air: Minimal at first, unless additional steps are taken to keep people from driving to these sanctuaries of urban beauty.

Reform Property Taxes and Development Fees: A split-rate property tax that raises the tax on land and lowers the tax on structures could encourage density. Right now, property tax is levied mainly on the value of structures, while it is the underlying value of the land that increases real-estate prices. Lowering the tax on the improvements would encourage construction of more units per acre. This would result in a lower property-tax rate per unit and lower rents. Increasing the tax on land would increase taxes for those who use more land per housing unit. Also, developers should pay fees for the cost of the air pollution their projects generate, based on factors including location, density and mix of uses. Smart high-density developers would pay lower fees while traditional housing-tract developers would pay more.

Benefit to Air: Smart development could eliminate the need for 5 million new cars as Southern California gains some 6 million new people, preventing 245 tons of pollution in the future, based on auto emissions at today’s levels. Autos will become cleaner, so this is no doubt an overestimate.

De-pave L.A.: The region should use the money raised through such new fees targeting developers and motorists to de-pave Greater Los Angeles. That’s right, rip up pavement now devoted to the auto to create new spaces and accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists and public-transit ways. Such an approach should be gradual, but ultimately will make living in dense areas more desirable, which will further diminish sprawl, auto-dependence and pollution.

Benefit to Air: Coupled with renewable hydrogen-fueled cars for occasional use, this could cut air pollution from today’s levels by almost a third, or 481 tons a day, once people give up trying to find a parking spot. Additional emissions from making and selling gasoline would be eliminated too.


Ecological Footprint and Gross Progress Indicator: Little of what’s recommended here will happen unless local politicians see the light, and that will require new analytical tools for the development of environmental, land-use and transportation policy. Whether a new regional planning agency with teeth is created or not, existing cities and agencies that deal with land use, transportation and other key decisions that affect air quality should make use of new analysis tools, developed by Redefining Progress, such as the gross progress indicator and ecological footprint index. Traditional cost-benefit and environmental-impact analysis have fallen short, part of the reason why air quality remains poor today. The GPI will redress their inadequacies by subtracting from the gross economic product of a region the cost of air pollution-related illness, loss of time and productivity because of traffic congestion, loss of farmland, global warming, consumption of nonrenewable resources and other impacts. It provides a more accurate yardstick of economic well-being. Likewise, the Ecological Footprint index could show policymakers how their decisions either move the region toward or away from long-term sustainability.

Benefit to Air: Making politicians aware of planning tools could provide the foundation for carrying out these anti-sprawl measures and their tremendous pollution savings.

Improving Public Participation: Facilitating broader and more effective public involvement in environmental management cannot be underestimated. With the help of the government of Canada, EnVision Tools Sustainability Inc. in Vancouver has created an innovative computer-based public-engagement process for regional planning that can determine the preferences of up to 100,000 people in a calendar year. People sit at computers in a “decision center” and make choices from a menu about what type of metropolitan area they would like to see in the future. The complicated computer model provides feedback on the likely consequences of their choices, including how they will affect such things as future air pollution, traffic congestion, taxes, proximity of services and energy use. On the basis of such feedback, many people in cities where it has been used, including Vancouver, come to prefer urban development to suburban development. The model — based on Sim City — is known as MetroQUEST, and it peers 40 years into an area’s future.

Benefit to Air: Building a city that actually works and is responsive to people could cut pollution to acceptable levels.

L.A. Weekly www.laweekly.com

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Little Difference Found in Schizophrenia Drugs

A landmark government-financed study that compared drugs used to treat schizophrenia has confirmed what many psychiatrists long suspected: newer drugs that are highly promoted and widely prescribed offer few - if any - benefits over older medicines that sell for a fraction of the cost.

The study, which looked at four new-generation drugs, called atypical antipsychotics, and one older drug, found that all five blunted the symptoms of schizophrenia, a disabling disorder that affects three million Americans. But almost three-quarters of the patients who participated stopped taking the drugs they were on because of discomfort or specific side effects.

One of the newer drugs, Zyprexa, from Eli Lilly, helped more patients control symptoms for significantly longer than the other drugs. But Zyprexa also had a higher risk of serious side effects - like weight gain - that increase the risk of diabetes.

The study, released yesterday and to be published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, was widely anticipated because it is by far the largest, most rigorous head-to-head trial of the newer antipsychotics conducted without significant drug industry financing. The new drugs account for $10 billion in annual sales and 90 percent of the national market for antipsychotics.

The findings may not significantly alter the prescribing patterns of doctors in private practice, who often do not have to worry about cost, psychiatrists said. But they are likely to have an enormous effect on state Medicaid programs, many short on funds in part because of the high cost of schizophrenia drugs.

Several states, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Maine, have limited access to newer drugs, which cost 3 times to 10 times more than the older drugs. "The new study presents an opportunity but also a risk," said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a policy research group based in Dallas, which estimates that Medicaid programs spend at least $3 billion a year on antipsychotics, more than for any other drug class.

"The opportunity is to lower the cost of these drugs," Dr. Goodman said. "The risk is that state Medicaid programs use this excuse to entirely deny some patients access to more effective and more expensive drugs which work for those patients."

The government study set out to judge each drug by how long patients and their doctors continued the therapy, a criterion rarely used in studies by drug makers but crucial in real-world practice. People with schizophrenia struggle with delusional thoughts, private voices, blunted emotions and other symptoms, and most try multiple drugs in trying to avoid severe side effects.

The researchers, led by psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, then at the University of North Carolina and now at Columbia University, recruited 1,493 people with the disorder and assigned them to receive one of five drugs: Risperdal, from Johnson & Johnson; Seroquel from AstraZeneca; Geodon from Pfizer; Zyprexa; and an older drug,perphenazine.

After 18 months, the researchers found, 64 percent of the patients taking Zyprexa had stopped, and at least 74 percent had quit each of the other medications. The most common reasons were that the drug was not effective, the patient could not tolerate taking it, side effects like sleepiness and weight gain or neurological symptoms like stiffness or tremors.

Doctors' concerns about neurological side effects in particular have sped the switch to newer schizophrenia drugs over the last decade. Studies have shown that these medications carry a lower risk than the older drugs of tardive dyskinesia, a disorder that causes tics, lip-smacking and other involuntary movements.

But the study found that at more modest doses, the older drug, perphenazine, while just as effective, was not significantly more likely to cause neurological symptoms. Dr. Lieberman said that there was no reason to believe that modest doses of other older drugs, like Haldol, would perform differently.

The patients on Zyprexa were less likely to be hospitalized because their condition worsened than those taking the other drugs, the study found. But these patients also gained the most weight, adding an average of two pounds a month while on the drug, and their lipid levels increased more than those of people on the other drugs. Weight gain and elevated lipids are risk factors for diabetes.

In the doses used in the study, a month's supply of perphenazine costs about $60, compared with $520 for Zyprexa, $450 for Seroquel, $250 for Risperdal and $290 for Geodon, according to Drugstore.com.

"Probably the biggest surprise of all was that the older medication produced about as good an effect as the newer medications, three of them anyway, and did not produce neurological side effects at greater rates than any of the other drugs," said Dr. Lieberman in an interview.

Dr. Robert Baker, who directs the neuroscience group at Eli Lilly, said that he was pleased with the findings. He said the weight gain and other side effects of Zyprexa were "very consistent with what we've seen in our studies" and that the company tells doctors about these symptoms.

"I think what we can conclude from this study is that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for schizophrenia," Dr. Baker said.

Spokesmen for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca said that the study supported their drugs and the importance of tailoring treatment to individual patients. "The efficacy results for Risperdal did not demonstrate the full efficacy of Risperdal because many patients in the trial received doses that were too low," Dr. Ramy Mahmoud, of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the unit of Johnson & Johnson that makes Risperdal, said in an e-mail message.

One thing that all agreed on was that the current state of schizophrenia treatment leaves a lot to be desired, and that the field longs for new and different drugs.

"The message is the glass is half full," Dr. Lieberman said. "The drugs work but they are not satisfactory to many patients, and three-quarters of the people in our study voted with their feet and discontinued the drugs."

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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India's Market Overview: Green Buildings from Industry Canada


* India's construction industry is growing at 9.2 percent / year (World average 5.5 percent) and contributes to 10 percent of GDP

* Estimated potential worth of green building market is US$4,000 million by 2010
o US$400 million for LEED buildings

* Building sector is the third largest consumer of energy

* Energy consumption is expected to grow at rate of 4.3 percent (exceeds 1.3 percent population growth rate)

* Green buildings have the potential to save 30-40 percent energy

* Urban Building Construction worth Rs. 5,000 Crores / year

o Large potential for green building (7-12 percent)

+ Rs. 510 Crores in 2005
+ Rs. 585 Crores in 2006
+ Rs. 730 Crores in 2007

* Products commercially available:

o Fly-ash cement and blocks
o Recycled aluminium and steel
o Low VOC paints
o Recycled tires
o High efficiency chillers
o Building controls
o Green roofs
o Recycled wood
o Recycled tiles

* 3 buildings have achieved the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard

o CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (Hyderabad) Platinum Status
o ITC Green Centre (Gurgaon) Platinum Status
o Grundfos Pumps India Pvt Limited (Chennai) Gold Status

* 7 additional buildings

o North Delhi Power Ltd (New Delhi)
o Wipro Technologies (Gurgaon)
o Indian Machine tools Manufacturers Association - IMTMA (Bangalore)
o CII -Naoroji centre of Excellence (Mumbai)
o NEG Micon India Pvt Ltd (Chennai)
o Technopolis (Kolkatta)
o Olympia Technology Park (Chennai)

* Confederation of Indian Industry - Godrej Green Business Centre Building

o Located in Hyderabad
o Center of excellence for clean energy, environment and climate change
o Sustainable site features
o Water efficiency
o Optimum energy efficiency
o Improved indoor air quality
o Focus on materials and resources

Key Players

Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)
* Create awareness of green buildings
* Train LEED professionals
* Promote LEED and adapt to India
* Facilitate construction of green buildings
* Develop 50 Green Products by 2004

Environmental Legislation

1986 Environment Protection Act
* Rules established in 1986 & 1994
* Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) sets standards under the Act

Financing Sources and Incentives

Export Development Canada (EDC) www.edc.ca
* Provides financing and insurance support for the export of Canadian goods and services
World Bank www.worldbank.org/
Asian Development Bank www.adb.org

Financial Institutions supporting CDM Projects:
* Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation
* Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. www.iredaltd.com
* Industrial Credit & Investment Corporation of India www.icicibank.com
* State Bank of India www.statebankofindia.com

Opportunities for Canadian Firms

Untapped opportunities:
* Composting toilets
* Waterless urinals
* Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) adhesives & sealants
* CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) certified carpets
* FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood
* High albedo roof paints
* BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics)
* CTI (Cooling Tower Institute) certified cooling towers
* Living machines

Events / Exhibits

Green Building Congress; September 14-17, 2005; Delhi www.greenbusinesscentre.com
Interbuild India; October 6-8, 2005; Delhi; www.interbuild-india.com
Inter Build; November 1-4, 2005; Bangalore
Hope 2005 World Summit on Environment; November 3-5, 2005; Delhi
Constru India; November 9-11, 2005; Mumbai
Inside Outside Mega Show; November 17-20, 2005; Mumbai; www.iomegashow.com
EXCON; November 30 - December 4, 2005; Bangalore
Builders World; December 12-14, 2005; Delhi
Municipalika 2006; January 2006; Mumbai; www.goodgovernance.com

Industry Canada http://strategis.ic.gc.ca

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Computer Software/Database, 677 words   English (US)

Melding 60 Projects, 4 Priorities, 1 Company

Technology drives just about every product and service that credit-reporting company Equifax Inc. offers its customers. To compile its credit reports, the company collects detailed financial information on millions of people, resulting in mountains of data it must analyze, organize, and store. It's no wonder Equifax spends about a quarter of its $1.3 billion in annual revenue on IT.

So, when Robert Webb joined the company last October as chief technology officer, he needed to move fast to learn about Equifax's 60 to 70 IT projects--and whether the IT investments were aligned with the company's business priorities, fit into the overarching architecture, and could be leveraged across the business.

CTO Webb wanted a quick way to assess IT projects

With so much at stake, Webb's key focus has been to optimize the $50 million earmarked for IT projects. To do that, Equifax is relying on technology itself to help prioritize, track, and optimize the investments.

Before Webb's arrival, former CTO Owen Flynn, who's now the company's group executive of marketing services, had begun testing in one Equifax division a program- and project-tracking tool that's part of the Mercury IT Governance Center software suite from Mercury Interactive Corp. But soon after Webb arrived, he decided to "kick up to high gear" a companywide, global implementation of what Equifax has now dubbed Investment Navigator. Within 60 days, the system was rolled out across the company. "I needed to understand quickly if we were working on the right things and leveraging our investments," and the software helps do that, Webb says.

Information pertaining to all projects is entered into Investment Navigator. Project managers update the system daily using a Web-based dashboard. "With a single touch of a button, I can understand all 60 projects," as well as their progress and problems, Webb says.

The software helps managers prioritize projects based on their business value and risk, Webb says. They're rated on common criteria, like payback and whether they fit into Equifax's IT architecture and can be leveraged across the company. The cost-benefit analysis uses metrics such as return on investment, net present value, and internal rate of return. Webb uses the system weekly to review the IT project portfolio. This assists in increasing project life-cycle efficiency, improving the success rate, and reducing execution time, he says.

All IT projects also must be linked to at least one of four corporate priorities: information security and strengthening the company's infrastructure; simplification; accelerating strategic systems; and growth and product innovation.

Webb isn't the only one who uses the tool to keep tabs on IT investments and projects. Other technology and business leaders in the company rely on it to coordinate decision-making. Webb holds quarterly IT priority meetings with the CFO, CEO, and key business execs across the company to review projects and proposals. The system "helps us take ideas and translate them into quantifiable projects," he says.

Projects that are expected to have high impact on business growth are given high priority and put on an accelerated schedule. One such project is developing identity-theft services, including alerting consumers when Equifax systems detect changes in their credit habits, such as suddenly racking up a lot of bills or late payments. In Equifax's marketing-services business, the company moved up on its priority list a supercomputer, grid-computing project that helps credit-card companies, which are Equifax clients, solicit the best-qualified consumers for new services. Data crunching that had taken two days in the past now takes only hours, Webb says.

The company also is using Investment Navigator to kill projects that don't fit Equifax's priorities. For instance, it found that the company was using too many business-intelligence tools. "Having six different BI tools isn't very intelligent," Webb says. Projects that don't fit a company priority are redirected or shelved, he says. So far, Investment Navigator has helped Equifax repurpose $2 million in technology spending.

For 2006, Webb says he's looking to expand Investment Navigator's use beyond tech projects to also include all business projects.

By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee
Information Week via Business Intelligence Pipeline www.bizintelligencepipeline.com

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Council ponders tax break for firm

OPUS Northwest is working with Overland Park to bring 750 new jobs to the city with the aid of tax incentives worth an estimated $16 million over 10 years.

The company is seeking a 50 percent property-tax break for 10 years to help finance construction of a new building that would allow an unnamed national financial-services company to expand.

OPUS would construct and own the building for the financial-services firm, which already employs about 150 in Overland Park.

David Harrison, vice president of real estate development for OPUS Northwest, declined to discuss details of the project, including the name of the financial-services company and where the building would be constructed.

“We’re still in a confidential, sensitive stage right now. I can’t say anything yet,” said Harrison, who manages OPUS Northwest’s Kansas City office.

A sketchy outline of the project as well as the cost of the tax incentives were contained in city documents made public Friday afternoon.

The City Council’s finance committee is scheduled to take up the issue Wednesday.

Tracey Osborne, president of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, also declined to comment, saying that any details about the project would be revealed Wednesday.

OPUS Northwest is one of five regional companies within the OPUS Group, a Minneapolis-based firm. The company specializes in office, industrial, institutional, retail, multifamily and government development.

The company already is developing a 110-acre office park in Olathe southeast of Kansas 10 and Ridgeview Road.

The first building of that project is scheduled to begin early next year.

Traditionally conservative about tax breaks, Overland Park for the second time in fewer than six months is faced with deciding whether it wants to award incentives for economic development.

Since 1990, Overland Park has given tax breaks only four times for economic development.

The city gave tax breaks to Sprint Corp., Black & Veatch and Universal Underwriters Group. Last April, the city gave $3.2 million in tax breaks to a West Coast pharmaceutical company that plans to bring as many as 850 jobs to the city as part of a new mail-order operations center.

Councilman Terry Goodman, who serves on the finance committee, said he hadn’t decided whether he would support the latest request for assistance. He also would not comment on the specifics of the proposed expansion.

“It does seem like we’re getting a rash of requests,” Goodman said. “I do think we will have to decide whether we want to be as reluctant as we have in the past about giving abatements or do we want a more liberal policy.”

The OPUS proposal comes just after Applebee’s announced it was going to move its corporate headquarters from Overland Park to neighboring Lenexa.

Goodman said that Applebee’s departure would not be a sufficient reason for him to award a new package of tax incentives. He said every project should be decided on its own.

A cost-benefit study prepared for the project indicated it could receive about $10.6 million in tax incentives from the state and about $5.3 million in local property-tax breaks. The study also projects an economic impact of $322 million over 10 years, most of which would come from new state corporate and personal income taxes.

Kansas City Star www.kansascity.com

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09:09:38 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Asia, Academic Study/Journal Article, Contamination Cost, Sulfur, SO2, 174 words   English (US)

The shadow price of substitutable sulfur in the US electric power plant: A distance function approach

Given restrictions on sulfur dioxide emissions, a feasible long-run response could involve either an investment in improving boiler fuel-efficiency or a shift to a production process that is effective in removing sulfur dioxide. To allow for the possibility of substitution between sulfur and productive capital, we measure the shadow price of sulfur dioxide as the opportunity cost of lowering sulfur emissions in terms of forgone capital. The input distance function is estimated with data from 51 coal-fired US power units operating between 1977 and 1986. The indirect Morishima elasticities of substitution indicate that the substitutability of capital for sulfur is relatively high. The overall weighted average estimate of the shadow price of sulfur is −0.076 dollars per pound in constant 1976 dollars.

Keywords: Shadow sulfur price; Input distance function; Indirect Morishima elasticity of substitution; Porter hypothesis; Marginal abatement cost; Internal/external trading

by Myunghun Lee; Department of International Trade, Inha University, 253 Yonghyun-dong, Nam-gu, Incheon 402-751, South Korea; Tel.: +82 32 860 7805; fax: +82 32 876 9328.

Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 77, Issue 2, October 2005, Pages 104-110

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International trade and air pollution: Estimating the economic costs of air emissions from waterborne commerce vessels in the United States

Although there is a burgeoning literature on the effects of international trade on the environment, relatively little work has been done on where trade most directly effects the environment: the transportation sector. This article shows how international trade is affecting air pollution emissions in the United States' shipping sector. Recent work has shown that cargo ships have been long overlooked regarding their contribution to air pollution. Indeed, ship emissions have recently been deemed “the last unregulated source of traditional air pollutants.” Air pollution from ships has a number of significant local, national, and global environmental effects. Building on past studies, Kevin P. Gallagher examines the economic costs of this increasing and unregulated form of environmental damage. The author finds that total emissions from ships are largely increasing due to the increase in foreign commerce (or international trade). The economic costs of SO2 pollution range from $697 million to $3.9 billion during the period examined, or $77 to $435 million on an annual basis. The bulk of the cost is from foreign commerce, where the annual costs average to $42 to $241 million. For NOx emissions the costs are $3.7 billion over the entire period or $412 million per year. Because foreign trade is driving the growth in US shipping, we also estimate the effect of the Uruguay Round on emissions. Separating out the effects of global trade agreements reveals that the trade agreement-led emissions amounted to $96 to $542 million for SO2 between 1993 and 2001, or $10 to $60 million per year. For NOx they were $745 million for the whole period or $82 million per year. Without adequate policy responses, the author predicts that these trends and costs will continue into the future.

Keywords: Trade and environment; Shipping; Air pollution; United States

by Kevin P. Gallagher, Department of International Relations, Boston University, 156 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA; Tel.: +1 617 353 9348; fax: +1 617 353 9290.
Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 77, Issue 2 , October 2005, Pages 99-103

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Energy Prices Pump Green Building

Post-Katrina energy prices are highlighting the benefits of building green office buildings. In Chicago, for example, Hines is about to finish an 820,000 sq. ft. office tower at One South Dearborn St. — and it’s expected to become one of Illinois’ most environmentally advanced properties under a new government pilot program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Core and Shell (LEED-CS). This will be Hines’ second LEED-certified building. The first was Atlanta’s 1180 Peachtree Lane, a 50-story skyscraper that Houston-based Hines recently completed.

What does LEED-certified mean? Under Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) guidelines, it demands that projects adhere to a host of requirements including materials and locations in close proximity to mass transit that limit the number of tenants driving to and from a building. Energy and water efficiencies also are stressed, including less fluorescent lighting and waterless urinals.

In One Dearborn’s case, the property will be 30% more energy efficient than normal office towers. Some of the green features will include 40-foot-tall sugar maple trees that will be irrigated with condensation collected from the building’s mechanical systems. Ultraviolet lights in the HVAC system will improve indoor air quality by reducing airborne contaminants including molds, bacteria and viruses. These lights also improve the mechanical efficiency of the equipment and eliminate the need to use harmful cleaning chemicals.

Law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood will lease more than 500,000 sq. ft. of office space within the building. The law firm now leases space at Bank One Plaza, which is located across the street from One South Dearborn. According to Hines, the building is 81% pre-leased. That strong rent roll is important given Chicago’s steep office vacancy at mid-year. Grubb & Ellis reports that Chicago’s CBD office vacancy for Class A space stood at 19.1% at mid-year, which was well above the national average of 15.6%.

There are many other advantages to building so-called “green” buildings. Landlords can trim their energy costs through devices such as solar panels. According to the USGBC, the Education Headquarters Building in Sacramento, Calif., saved taxpayers $500,000 in 2003 through reduced energy costs. That property, like many others in the state, is a LEED-certified, green building. So far, roughly 1,700 commercial properties have qualified for LEED certification. Another 1,800 have applied for certification.

“We look for recycled steel in new construction projects, along with the use of materials that have helped the local economy,” says Taryn Holowka spokesperson for USGBC. The benefit of such materials is two-fold — less gasoline is used to transport them across the country while local businesses can profit from the sale.

Building to LEED specifications may be good for the environment, but it also can cost more to construct. Holowka estimates that it costs up to 7% more for a developer to build a green building. She admits that local factors such as the cost of land, materials and labor are the greatest single variable.

National Real Estate Investor http://nreionline.com

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03:02:37 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Asia, Transportation, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 344 words   English (US)

Toyota plans all-hybrid line as fuel costs rise

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s second-largest automaker, said all its vehicles will eventually be run by hybrid gasoline-electric motors, as record fuel prices curb demand for conventional automobiles.

"In the future, the cars you see from Toyota will be 100% hybrid," executive vice president Kazuo Okamoto told reporters in Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday, without giving a time frame.

Japan’s biggest carmaker is aiming to make as many as 400,000 gasoline-electric vehicles in 2006, including Prius cars, Camry sedans, Highlander SUVs and Coaster buses, 60% more than 2005’s target, president Katsuaki Watanabe said at an investor conference in New York on Monday.

Toyota has sold 425,000 gasoline-electric cars since 1997 and is trying to profit from its lead over General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in the technology. Watanabe said he aims to cut production costs and halve the $5,000 price premium on such vehicles, without giving details.

"Toyota has been the leader of the pack in environmental technology, and they will probably continue to be," said Norihito Kanai, an analyst at Meiji Dresdner Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. "Many of its rivals were at first not so aggressive in hybrids, but now we see everyone joining."

A Prius hybrid has a base price of about $21,000. The cost of components makes hybrids $3,000 to $5,000 more expensive than gasoline-engine autos.

Watanabe told investors he couldn’t give a time frame for halving the price premium. The Nihon Keizai newspaper reported on its Web site Tuesday that he gave a target of 2010.

Fujio Cho, Watanabe’s predecessor, previously targeted sales of 300,000 hybrids worldwide by the end of 2005, and last year he pushed back the date to 2006. Toyota’s U.S. sales chief, Jim Press, said a shortage of batteries and other parts probably would contribute to the shortfall. The company plans to sell 240,000 to 250,000 hybrids this year and 1 million a year by 2010.

Global sales of vehicles could drop this year, as the price of gasoline surged to more than $3 a gallon Sept. 2, according to AAA.

American International Dealers Association/Detroit Free Press www.aiada.org

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President to inaugurate Green Building Congress

The Confederation of Indian Industry announced on Wednesday that Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, President of India, would be addressing the Green Building Congress 2005 on September 15, 2005. The plan to organize the Green Building Congress 2005 from September 14 - 17, 2005 in New Delhi is to sensitize the industry about he benefits of going green. India is well poised for a major growth in the Green Building sector. According to CII, the country has the potential to become a world leader on Green Buildings in the near future. Alongside the challenges that they pose, tremendous opportunities would emerge in the form of employment, new businesses etc and would go a long way in contributing to the sustainable growth of the country.

With the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) working on indigenizing the LEED rating and expected to be launched by end of 2005, Green Buildings in India is poised for a major growth. This, coupled with favourable policies of the government would provide the right impetus for advancing the Green Building movement in India.

The building sector is growing at a rapid pace and is the third largest consumer of energy, after industry and agriculture. Environmentally benign technologies and practices in this sector can address sustainability issues and contribute to conservation of national resources, besides saving on operating costs.

World over, the focus is on constructing "Green Buildings", which addresses environmentally sustainable issues in a holistic manner. Therefore, there is a tremendous potential for construction of Green Buildings in India. The overall potential for green buildings in India is estimated to be Rs18bn from the year 2010 onwards. This could open up a plethora of opportunities for several stakeholders like construction industry, architects, material and equipment manufacturers. Going for Green Buildings have tremendous benefits, both tangible and intangible.

Green Buildings offer a range of benefits like 30% to 40% reduction in operation cost, green corporate image, Health and safety of building occupants, Enhance occupant comfort, improve productivity of occupants, imbibe best operational practices from day one and incorporate latest techniques and technologies.

The major objectives of this programme would be to create awareness on green building concepts, promote business opportunities and networking, showcase Green Building products and Technologies and to facilitate Market Transformation.

India Infoline www.indiainfoline.com

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03:04:38 pm, Categories: Air, Nitrogen/Nitrates, Ozone, Texas, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 1271 words   English (US)

City satisfied with pollution reduction goals, bill rejected

With the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s push for cleaner air by 2007, Williamson and Travis counties passed a bill effective Sept. 1 regulating vehicle emissions, while San Marcos officials voted against the bill, favoring their own environmental programs.

Recent regulations of air pollution in the Central Texas area are the product of the Early Action Compact, initiated in June 2002. This program, approved by the EPA, encourages communities to voluntarily participate in reducing air pollution. Regions throughout Texas have taken the EPA’s challenge to reduce air pollution by 2007. Williamson and Travis counties, among others, passed vehicle emission regulations as a preventative measure. Counties that don’t comply with the EPA standards risk losing federal funds for highway development and may receive fines.

Because the EAC allows for voluntary action by counties, bills introduced to individual counties are subject to vote.

EAC regulations state that a bill can pass only when the county’s largest city approves it, and in Hays County, San Marcos is the largest city. When the San Marcos City Council voted against the Inspections and Maintenance of Vehicles Bill, which includes emissions tests, it applied to all of Hays County as well.

Nearby, Travis and Williamson county officials approved the bill and introduced the new vehicle emissions tests on Sept 1. The tests, which are taken during regular safety inspections, are required only for 1981 to 2003 vehicle editions. Newer vehicles from 2004 to 2005 have built-in computers that detect the amount of emissions and will alert the driver when there is a problem.

Cars built before 1981 are registered as antiques and are assumed to be on the road for less time, giving less opportunity to pollute the air.

The new addition to safety inspections will cost consumers about $15 extra, and businesses providing inspections will need to buy the required equipment. For the automotive industry, the equipment necessary to conduct emissions testing costs between $20,000 and $30,000.

“I believe (emissions tests) should be done just for the fact that it would protect our environment, and the ozone layer is already thin,” said Tony Ramos, psychology senior.

Jimmy Mitchell, owner of 4-M Automotive in San Marcos, said he knows that eventually, the emissions tests will be a required part of safety inspections in San Marcos, and whether or not to continue to offer inspections will be a tough decision due to the large investment.

“If the EPA comes in to force the county into compliance, businesses can be fined or have their inspection licenses suspended,” Mitchell said. “However, it could be another four or five years before tests are implemented (here).”

San Marcos joined the EAC in January 2004. Although City Council voted down vehicle emissions testing, the city has since been proposing various programs and regulations to meet the local community’s pollution reduction goals. Vehicle emissions and pollution regulations are guided by the city’s own Clean Air Action Plan, which is tailored to their local needs.

Stephanie Garcia, assistant to the San Marcos city manager, has been overseeing various environmental programs for the community since the city’s entrance into the EAC.

“We don’t want the EPA to come in and mandate changes so we are trying to be proactive,” Garcia said.

Recent strategies in the Clean Air Action Plan include prohibiting large trucks and 18-wheelers from idling more than five minutes unless the vehicle is using a refrigerator storage unit for food, and requiring gas stations to maintain vapor controls on gasoline storage tanks using a vapor balance system.

With cooperation from Texas State, San Marcos has also been utilizing cleaner alternative fuel sources for the city’s work vehicles. The city and the university have built a propane fueling station at Bobcat Stadium where persons with propane compatible vehicles can access this cleaner fuel. The city anticipates that these programs will effectively reduce air pollution levels without implementing the vehicle emissions tests.

Garcia said San Marcos City Council members were hesitant about passing the bill for emissions tests because of its potential to negatively impact low-income families.

“If people can’t afford the higher costs for inspections or don’t have enough money to bring their cars up to code, then they can’t use their cars to go to work and we don’t want that to happen,” Garcia said.

For working students supporting themselves, making the needed repairs to their vehicles to pass an emissions test can be a hardship.

For Angela Slockett, an Austin resident and anthropology junior, commuting from Austin to Texas State four days a week costs about $40 in gas and adds general wear and tear to her car.

“My car is old, and I know it will not pass the new emissions test,” Slockett said. “Even though it will cost a lot of money to fix, I think it is worth the extra money to help the Austin community.”

Some students living in San Marcos had reservations about the need to enforce emissions tests in Hays county. Amanda Castillo, psychology sophomore, said that because of recent rises in gas prices she thought requiring emissions testing would be unnecessary because people are driving less.

“I think this town was made for walking and people carpool,” said Lori Kinser, undecided freshman.

In favor of taking measures to protect the environment, Courtnie Ledet, psychology sophomore, said that because Texas State is a campus with large amounts of outdoor walking required, emissions testing would be a positive move to reducing air pollution.

Council members partly doubted the effectiveness of the bill because so much air pollution comes from vehicles traveling through the city on the interstate. It is difficult to determine how much pollution comes from local citizens or just people passing by.

On a much larger scale, cities with multiple freeways, such as Houston and Dallas suffer the affects of air pollution from both local drivers and from people just driving through the city.

In those cities, air pollution already exceeds the limits set by the EPA, and they have been implementing emissions tests during safety inspections since 2002. Though the Austin region has grown significantly, the levels of air pollution are not currently considered excessive.

Bill Gill, director of Air Quality at the Capitol Area Planning Council, said that without participation from Hays County, the region could potentially fall short of their emissions reductions goal.

“Kyle, Buda and San Marcos — many of those people commute to Austin,” Gill said. “In Central Texas, vehicle emissions are a major contributor in polluting the air.”

Nationwide, the EPA routinely tests the air for excessive pollution and determines whether a region is considered to be of either attainment or non-attainment status. Attainment status means the amount of air pollution meets the EPA standards, while nonattainment means the amount of air pollution exceeds the standards.

Recent reports from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Association warn that cities such as Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi are nearing the nonattainment status, whereas Houston and Dallas have already reached a severe non-attainment status.

When the EPA tests for air pollution they measure the presence of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from gases emitted from vehicles. These gases contribute to Ground Level Ozone, a type of ozone layer made up of gases harmful to the environment and to humans. These elements in the air can worsen many types of existing respiratory health problems. Additionally, scientists and professors have been researching how air pollution might contribute to the negative affects that global warming has on nature and weather patterns.

by Lindsay Mathews
The University Star Texas State University San Marcos www.universitystar.com

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Senate Votes on EPA Mercury Emission Rules

Senators are challenging the Bush administration over its approach to reducing power plant emissions of mercury, a toxic metal that poses serious threats of neurological damage to newborn and young children.

The White House insists its market-based approach to curtailing mercury pollution is effective and founded on sound science, and warned that the president will veto any legislation that would overturn rules on mercury emissions finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency last March.

The Senate votes Tuesday on a measure that would repeal those rules, and the outcome is uncertain. At least three Republicans have said they will join Democrats in moving to strike down the regulations and force the administration to come up with stronger measures to combat the health hazard.

A victory for opponents of the rules could be short-lived: The GOP-dominated House could ignore the Senate action, and the presidential veto threat looms if the House were to go along.

The debate highlights two very different approach to environmental protection. The administration rules, backed by the utility industry, would set a nationwide cap on mercury emissions and put a ceiling on allowable pollution for each state. But individual plants, through a cap-and-trade system, can avoid cleanups by buying pollution credits from plants that are under allowable levels.

The utility industry says this method was successful in reducing acid rain in the 1990s.

But opponents say the rules are too weak and would prolong a health risk that leaves newborns vulnerable to birth defects and mental retardation.

The EPA rules, said Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., violate the Clean Air Act. "The rule is plainly illegal. It is unwise. And it is definitely unhealthy for Americans living downwind of coal-fired power plants, especially mothers and their soon-to-be-born children."

Mercury pollutants work their way up the food chain after being absorbed by fish.

The sponsors of the resolution, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, turned to a little-used 1996 law that allows Congress to challenge agency rules with a guaranteed floor vote. The law has been successfully invoked only once, when Congress in 2001 repealed Clinton administration workplace ergonomics regulations.

By repealing the EPA rules, the Senate would compel the agency to rewrite the rules. The revisions would be in line with Clean Air Act standards requiring the use of the best available technology to reduce mercury emissions.

Leahy said the Clean Air Act would start reductions in 2008. They would achieve up to 90 percent reductions far sooner than the EPA rules that, according to Leahy, don't begin to cut emissions until 2018 and will not reach the goal of 70 percent reductions until 2030.

But supporters of the EPA rules said repealing the administration approach could have a devastating impact on the economy, forcing power plants to abandon coal for natural gas and driving up natural gas prices. They contended it would cost $358 billion to achieve the 90 percent reduction in three years, as opposed to a cost of $2 billion under the administration plan.

"It just can't be justified from a cost-benefit point of view," said Sen. George Voinovich (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio.

The EPA approach "combines significant reductions in emissions with protection for energy security and consumers," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. "But these senators now seek to disrupt the program."
The resolution is S.J.Res. 20.
On the Net:
Congress: http://thomas.loc.gov/
Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/

Associated Press via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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The FAIR model: A tool to analyse environmental and costs implications of regimes of future commitments

This article describes the policy decision-support tool, FAIR, to assess the environmental and abatement costs implications of international regimes for differentiation of future commitments. The model links long-term climate targets and global reduction objectives with regional emission allowances and abatement costs, accounting for the Kyoto Mechanisms used. FAIR consists of three sub-models: a simple climate model, an emission-allocation model and a cost model. The article also analyses ten different rule-based emission allocation schemes for two long-term concentration stabilisation targets for greenhouse gases. This analysis shows that evaluating regimes requires not only an assessment of the initial allocation, but also of the distribution of abatement costs and the impacts from emissions trading. The Multi-Stage approach (with a gradual increase of Parties adopting emission intensity or reductions targets) and the Triptych approach (with sectoral targets for all Parties) seem to provide the best prospects for most of the Parties when compared to the other allocation schemes analysed.

by Michel G. J. den Elzen and Paul L. Lucas Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP at RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands, ,

Environmental Modeling and Assessment via SpringerLink
Publisher: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
ISSN: 1420-2026 (Paper) 1573-2967 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s10666-005-4647-z
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2005, pages: 115 - 134

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09:06:29 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Health, Transportation, California, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 384 words   English (US)

Bike Notes: Riding a bike may save more than gas

By Rick Riley

May all displaced or harmed in the Gulf Coast disaster receive comfort and aid.

Gasoline prices have risen dramatically. You've grumbled about it and threatened to do something rash. Some people consider commuting by bicycle to cut their transportation costs. I don't think it's a matter as simple as hopping on a bike and saving money. Here's my cost/benefit analysis:

There are fixed and recurring costs of owning and operating your car. Your costs include insurance, registration, maintenance, repair, and the cost of the vehicle. If you want to save by riding a bike, consider only the cost of fuel as we'll assume you'll keep the car.

At 25 mpg your gas costs 13 cents per mile at $3.25 per gallon. That's 770 miles of biking to save $100 in gas. If you already have a good bicycle you can start saving now. Understand, however, that there are additional maintenance and repair costs that normally occur with bike riding.

If you buy a bike for commuting with the intention of saving gas money you will enjoy a lot of riding before you realize any savings. If you want to spend $100 or less on a disposable bike, you might get the bike to pay for itself before something goes wrong. Consider at least an entry level road-worthy bike. They generally cost over $300 and are a lasting value if treated properly. Expect to also buy a helmet, gloves, spare tube, bike tool, small pump, and patch kit. At the 13 cents a mile rate we're using, you'll need to ride 35 miles a week for three years to have your gas money pay for $700 worth of bike, gear, and maintenance.

Consider the cost of pollution and wasteful use of resources. The bicycle is a very affordable alternative to the car as bicycle riding creates few and small burdens on our environment and utilizes fairly minimal resources.

Overall, self-reporting of one's health, change in body composition (fat loss), stress reduction, gains in many measures of health, and increases in energy, strength, and stamina.

My bottom line is that the benefits so greatly outweigh the costs that even an irrational decision to ride a bike will be amply rewarded. You might end up saving more than money.

By Rick Riley
Mendocino Beacon www.mendocinobeacon.com

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11:23:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Green Buildings, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 1042 words   English (US)

A down-to-earth way to heat schools: Geothermal systems use the Earth's natural temperature as a furnace and air conditioner.

Geothermal systems make Rockbridge schools energy efficient.

In Rockbridge County, the schools are cool. In the winter they'll be warm. And keeping them that way is going to cost the county a fraction of what it used to.

Three elementary schools are using a new kind of heating and cooling system that literally uses the Earth as an air conditioner and a furnace.

Known as geothermal heating and cooling system, it takes advantage of the natural temperature of the planet once you get below the frost line. While the surface temperature changes with the seasons - below zero in the winter, to possibly over 100 in the summer - dig a little and it stabilizes.

"Once you get below that [first few feet] it stays very constant," said Bob Tracy, chairman of the geosciences department at Virginia Tech. "You don't have to go down very far."

A geothermal system can take advantage of that constant temperature, drawing heat from the Earth in the winter, and dumping heat into it in the summer. That can save thousands in energy costs every year.

In 2001, Bill Clements, then facilities director for Rockbridge schools, was overseeing the renovation and expansion of Fairfield Elementary School. It included installing a new heating and cooling system.

Clements had read about geothermal systems in trade magazines, then attended a seminar where John Garland, president of Spectrum Design, an engineering and architecture firm in Roanoke, spoke on the benefits of geothermal heat pumps in schools.

He was interested, and got county officials interested as well. They began talking to the folks at Spectrum, and eventually took a tour of schools in Chesapeake and Johnson City, Tenn., where they could see geothermal in action.

They liked what they saw.

"The more I talked and learned," Clements said, "the more I was convinced it was a good way to go."

The original architecture firm handling the renovation had recommended simply replacing the existing boiler and cooling tower, but the county was sold on geothermal. It spent about $815,000 for the labor and equipment.

"It was just a little bit more than $100,000 more than a conventional system would be," Clements said. And some of that was offset by savings in other areas. For example, the money planned for the new boiler and mechanical room - things recommended by the project's original architect, according to Garland - could be used toward the cost of digging the 100 300-foot wells.

"When you go to geothermal," he said, "You don't need the boiler and you don't need the cooling tower."

More importantly than the short-term finances, though, the county would also save in the long run by reducing energy costs dramatically - on the order of tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Clements expected it would take a while to recoup the investment. "We were hoping for a four- or five-year turnaround on it," he said. Instead, "We recouped it in about three years."

And the savings continue: "We doubled the size of that building," he said, referring to the school. "We went from 30,000 to about 60,000 square feet." But, he said, they're using the same amount of energy as when it was half that size.

It's all about "life cycle costs," according to Garland - the long-term price you pay, as opposed to just the initial cost. "It makes sense to spend more up front if it's going to reduce utility costs by more than that amount," he said.

So when the county saw the results of the Fairfield Elementary "experiment," officials decided to use geothermal systems in every school that's scheduled for renovation, according to Garland.

So this year, Effinger and Natural Bridge elementary schools are sporting new geothermal systems. (Mountain View Elementary was also renovated, but the geology wasn't suitable for a geothermal system.)

The county expect a return on those investments in the next few years. Further, Clements said, the system is environmentally friendly.

"You don't have pollution in that you're not burning any fuel, and you don't have a chance for pollution because you're not storing any fuel," he said. "It's what they call a green system."

Clements has since retired from full-time work for the school system, but said he sees the decision to invest in geothermal paying off, especially recently.

"The higher fossil fuels get," he said, "the better our system looks."

How it works

Outside, the temperature can range from below zero to over 100 degrees. In the center of the Earth, it's about 6,000 to 7,000 degrees.

But from about 5 to 500 feet underground, the temperature is consistent - between 52 and 56 degrees, year round.

A geothermal system takes advantage of that.

Water-filled pipes are placed in the Earth; in Fairfield Elementary's case, about 100 of them, each in a 300-foot-deep hole.

In the winter, those pipes take warmth from the Earth and bring it to a heat exchanger where it's used to warm the building. In the summer, the same pipes take heat from the building and "dump" it into the Earth.

"A heat pump is either extracting the heat from, or putting heat into the system," explained Spectrum Design president John Garland.

But unlike a traditional heat pump that draws heat and cooling from the air, a geothermal system uses a "water-source" heat pump. Its source is always about 54 degrees - warm in the winter, cool in the summer - which makes it much more efficient.

Home front

Geothermal systems aren't just for public buildings. Homeowners can have them too, and they don't even have to dig 300-foot well holes.

You would need about 1,000 linear feet of cooling pipes to heat and cool a 3,000-square-foot home, according to John Garland, president of Spectrum Design.

But instead of three or four 300-foot-deep holes, a homeowner could have trenches dug just 5 or 10 feet below ground, "kind of like a septic field," said Bob Tracy, chairman of Virginia Tech's department of geosciences.

"There's a big upfront cost of installing this compared to a normal heat pump system," Tracy said, "but it reduces the running cost so much that payback is only a few years."

In fact, according to Garland, although you might spend $12,000 to $15,000 to outfit a 3,000-square-foot house, you would probably recoup that in four to five years just in energy savings.

The Roanoke Times www.roanoke.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Academic Study/Journal Article, Transportation, Regulatory Analysis, 202 words   English (US)

Vehicle Choices, Miles Driven, and Pollution Policies

Mobile sources contribute large percentages of each pollutant, but technology is not yet available to measure and tax emissions from each vehicle. Ye Feng, Don Fullerton and Li Gan build a behavioral model of household choices about vehicles and miles traveled. The ideal-but-unavailable emissions tax would encourage drivers to abate emissions through many behaviors, some of which involve market transactions that can be observed for feasible market incentives (such as a gas tax, subsidy to new cars, or tax by vehicle type). Their model can calculate behavioral effects of each such price and thus calculate car choices, miles, and emissions. A nested logit structure is used to model discrete choices among different vehicle bundles. The authors also consider continuous choices of miles driven and the age of each vehicle. They propose a consistent estimation method for both discrete and continuous demands in one step, to capture the interactive effects of simultaneous decisions. Results are compared with those of the traditional sequential estimation procedure.

JEL Classifications: D12, H23, Q58

by Ye Feng, Don Fullerton and Li Gan
National Bureau of Economic Research NBER www.NBER.org via
Social Science Research Network www.ssrn.com
Working Paper No. W11553 August 2005

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America's Top 10 Green Schools

The early-American school kids swaddled with scarves to within a breath of suffocating as they hiked to the little red school house didn't know that their classrooms suffered from faulty insulation and bad air. But that's because no one thought much about the coal fire's smoke, the oil lantern's lung-clogging potential, the dank air's capacity to promote mildew and molds, or the contaminated water from the well.

That was then: before "green" and "sustainable" were "invented." And now? Looking at such nods to urban ecology as Manhattan's green-roofed Calhoun school, we see a sample of the neighborhood classrooms' new sustainability and a sign that we know—and do better—now. Or at least some of us do, like the state of Washington, which last spring took the lead in insisting that all school and public buildings go green, i.e. adopt LEED standards as rated by the U.S. Green Building Council.

To be sure, the sustainability experts can list and act on everything from toxic cleaning products to off-gassing materials; from pesticides and bad air that exacerbate asthma within to PCBs from old caulk without. And yet, the Green Schools Initiative, a multi-school effort to make schools healthier and more ecologically sustainable, found that the classrooms in half of America's ll5,000 schools suffer from poor indoor environments. And even the school's surroundings can be hazardous: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this July showed that pesticide spraying near schools has made children acutely ill, causing vomiting, wheezing and conjunctivitis. And, as others assuredly know, the indoor air and clean-up chemicals can do the same.

The Criteria

Herein, then, searching for better schools with better environments, we looked to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, as well as a number of our own insights and impressions, to come up with criteria by which we measured our green school picks:

1 - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building standards:

a) Sustainable Siting—site selection, alternative transportation, stormwater management, urban redevelopment
b) Water Efficiency—water efficient landscaping, water use reduction, innovative waste water use
c) Energy & Atmosphere—CFC reductions, renewable energy, reduced energy consumption, green power, reducing ozone
d) Materials and Resources—building and resource reuse, local materials, recycled content, certified wood
e) Indoor Environmental Quality—indoor air quality, CO2, ventilation, low-volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, thermal comfort, daylighting
f) Innovation in Design

2 - Healthy School Lunches: Does the school serve organic and/or locally-grown food for school lunches?
3 - School-wide Green Initiatives: Does the school have a recycling program, carpool incentives, or any other initiatives that show that the school is taking action to be pro-environment?
4 - Green Education: Is there an environmental curriculum?
5 - School Procurement Policies: Does the school use recycled paper, organic cotton for sports uniforms, low-energy computers or other green products?
6 - Contaminants:

a) Does it use integrated pest management (non-toxic methods to deprive bugs of food, water and entry) to avoid exposing children to dangerous pesticides?
b) Does it have wooden playground equipment treated with arsenic?
c) Does it use "green" cleaning materials, such as cleansers that do not release hazardous chemicals
d) Has the school checked for lead paint problems or high lead levels in water?

7 - School Green Spaces:

a) Does the school have green spaces or gardens that students are part of, and do the students participate in greening their school?
b) Does its landscaping including native plants (which also reduce the need for pesticides)?

Citing The Schools

While no school scored straight A's in all these criteria, we found ten that covered the field beyond our early expectations. Still, green schools can't rest on their laurels and solving some problems can lead to others. Spanking new schools in the outburbs may, unfortunately, preclude walking, shuttling students on long bus rides to distant buildings. "Because of transit access, even the oldest, most decrepit school in New York City probably has a smaller ecological footprint than the 'greenest' new school in the suburbs," says environmental economist Charles Komanoff of Komanoff Energy Associates (KEA), a New York energy consulting firm.

Happily, as green schools grow in number, they have begun to offer the proof in the pudding (or in the organic oatmeal) that with improved ventilation, better thermal control and enhanced natural lighting, students do better when tested academically.

The following then are our picks and prizes:

l. Two-handed Round of Clapping for Clackamas

The award-winning Clackamas High School in Oregon managed to earn a silver LEED citation for its 265,000-square foot green building on a 4l-acre site in Oregon's kingdom of green. Linking architectural intentions to Amory Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute, which deals with complex, energy-efficient systems, Boora Architects secured a 44 percent reduction in energy consumption. By encouraging the students to join in creating full-scale mockups of buildings to test daylighting and ventilation through convection along with both sustainable energy and long-life materials, they added to the pedagogy and durability alike. A landscaped courtyard at the building's entrance and surroundings lined with trees, benches plus a gas barbecue pit—kept both bug-free and healthy with integrated pest management—made the indoor-outdoor space amiable. The architects' ultimate goal: a Bauhaus-inspired green building that "literally runs itself," says Heinz Rudolf, lead architect. Add to that other ecological enhancements from daylit classrooms, to long-life expectancy brick and concrete slabs acting as thermal masses to reduce heating costs—and their intent to last l00 years for a green centennial seems less than chimerical.

2. Bronzed School Bells for Ringing in New Ways

From solar panels on the roof, to soft-to-the-foot rubberized tot lots made from recycled tires; from skylights and light shelves in the classroom to sophisticated air-circulating systems, the new Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center in a dense Somerville, Massachusetts, neighborhood has secured a better, brighter future for its pre-Kindergarten to first graders. Orchestrated by architect Douglas Sacra, AIA, LEED AP of Cambridge's school-oriented HMFH Architects, Inc., the eco-labor included digging up and disposing of ll,l60 tons of PCB-, mercury- and lead-contaminated soil on the grounds. Add to that a (clean) laundry list for reducing water, light and energy use and the building succeeds in attaining 41 percent less energy use than code. With airy classrooms and walls lined with vivid tiles, the cheery design is as uplifting as the complex's greening. A grant from the state's Massachusetts Technology Collaborative funded the purchase of photovoltaic cells that create electricity from the sun which goes directly to the school's power supply. Add pleasant grounds and efficient systems, and this could be the ship that launched a thousand brighter kids.

3."Aloha" for Whole Earth Holism

Some l64-years-old and getting greener, the Punahou School in Honolulu has inspired eco-change at the Case Middle School. Arup Engineering, LEED consultants for the job, improved their ecological approach by joining with an administration committed enough to complete a project ranging from light dimming sensors to saving kitchen scraps. Charged with erecting the largest private school in the US—some nine buildings on a 75-acre campus—Punahou's educators sought to personalize the process by providing easy access to its meandering landscape. With extensive views to the ocean and the city, the school embraces the environment, framing space to allow more intimate meetings between students and teachers. An ice plant works during off-peak consumption hours to produce ice that will chill the air during the day. Coupled with solar energy from photovoltaic cells on the rooftop, the system reduced the school's energy cost by over 40 percent. Inside, student lockers are made of recycled milk cartons, with flooring of recycled rubber. Outside, the school's irrigation system uses captured rain water from the rooftop plus an existing artesian spring. Large monkey pod trees were relocated and buildings were laid out to skirt the roots of old banyan trees. Delving into the native Hawaiian plants, students and the science department maintain a pesticide-free nursery on site, providing both classroom pedagogy and an historic re-blooming for the community that receives the plants.

4. Blue Ribbon for Secure, Salmon-Safe Surroundings

Raising salmon hatchlings for release in the campus stream is one way Sakai Intermediate's students find their place in the world. From the moment the five-year old school rolls its fifth and sixth graders to campus in buses retrofitted with particulate collectors to capture asthma-inducing small particles from exhaust, the building and teaching staff demonstrate that "the medium is the message." Students gather data on the local birds, test groundwater and study nearby wetlands, which were protected by the architects who used a swale and limited impervious surfaces to prevent silting up the stream. Recycled materials with low-VOC finishes and oversize ducts that reduce mold-growth keep the indoor air fresh without relying on energy-intensive air-conditioning system. Finally, to preserve the area's natural resources, an integrated pest management program eliminated the use of pesticides, helping the school remain "salmon-friendly."

5. Five-star Primer on Elementary Excellence

Going beyond the ABCs of learning to advance the state of sustainable design, the new 800-student Third Creek Elementary School in the growing community of Statesville, North Carolina, strives on two fronts: It lets its students loose to learn from the natural world and heightens the green-ness of its interior space. Moseley Architects of Virginia and North Carolina, acting with Bryna Dunn, director of environmental research and planning, earned a LEED gold certification for this three-year old K-5 school. Builders enhanced the greening with a reflective metal roof, waterless urinals, automatic shut-off faucets, extra insulation and low-E glazing. Native and adaptive plants were set in a pesticide-free, water-efficient landscape that requires no irrigation system. Healthy school lunches are complemented by an exterior where corn grows in the fields and butterflies drop by for a visit.

6. Double Gold Star for Cityside Global Village Venture

Hands at work and minds in thought mix in the multi-faceted ll0-year-old Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. Here, students alternate shop learning with classroom ABCs and incorporate the hands-on studies into the efficient use and re-cycling of materials. Eschewing the sight blight and cookie-cutter architecture of conventional class buildings, the independent school dug deep to fit new needs on a tight site in an eco-minded environment. Solar panels atop green roofs that insulate and reduce runoff add to the energy efficiency, while the school has commissioned windmills to provide power and heighten the use of natural energy. Green cleaners are essential to its ecological interior and recycling was de rigueur in the design by Dwight Long for Pfau Architecture of San Francisco. Large windows and airy interior walkways create what the San Francisco Chronicle called an "intricate collision of classrooms and clearings [that] makes everything come alive." Even school lunches live, it seems, with a vegetarian option, and Lick-Wilmerding was the nation's first high school to have a compost program for lunch remains. An underground energy-saving shop space insulated by the earth and sustainable materials like natural linoleum flooring and recycled carpet tiles fulfills headmaster Al Adams' aspirations to continue the progressive school's vintage green tradition on its city block.

7. Good Will Towards Green Citation

The Goodwillie Environmental School in Ada, Michigan, lives up to its name in this multi-award winning building. Designed for the Forest Hills School district, the LEED-certified project included students in studying its environmental impact during the building's creation. Under project architect Jim vander Molen and the firm's director of sustainability Jeff Remtema, the design was laid out to nestle between the woods and a restored pesticide-free prairie, allowing every class to open up to the outdoors. Windows covering the entire South wall can be opened for ventilation while the dimmer lights and the heating system use the back wall and the floor of the building, respectively, as a thermal masses teaching 5th and 6th graders "the efficient use of resources," says Remtema. So does the overall design-with-nature: no A/C, doors that open to porches, a heating system powered by a geothermal heat loop and simplicity in the layout. Add natural ventilation, recycling and low- or no-VOC interior finishes—and the all-embracing effort inspired parents to vote for bond issues to build three more with the same high standards.

8. Gold Binocular for Clear Vision

The Clearview Elementary School in Hanover, Pennsylvania, got the LEED gold for bringing out the basics—air and light or, in USGBC's terms—"features ... to enhance the learning environment through increased daylighting ...and better ventilation." Under architects L. Robert Kimball and Associates and John Boecker, director of High Performance Green Design, the project succeeded on many fronts. Low-VOC paints, sealers, coatings and adhesives were used throughout the building while indigenous plants outside reduce the need for water and pesticides. From daylight design with photocell dimming, to CO2 sensors in classrooms, to underfloor air distribution, to 39 percent water consumption reductions and 20 percent recycled materials (65 percent made locally), to passive solar strategies, this state of the art structure got points—and more points—for performance. Outside, the lack of school buses eliminates the all-too-hazardous fumes from idling.

9. Green Measuring Tape for Tying Toddlers to Old-timers

Green go the generations in this ecologically astute, multi-age mix of Head Start and high school, kindergarten and seniors at the all-encompassing John M. Langston High School Continuation and Langston-Brown Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. The LEED-certified silver design by William Brown of BeeryRio offers a veritable punch list of green procedures from solar shading to electric vehicle re-charging. Clerestory windows illuminate the rooms, and green awareness—from reclaiming roof-top rain waters, to permeable soil that drains into a bio-filtration area, plus built-in cabinetry made of formaldehyde-free strawboard, low-VOC paints, carpets and adhesives—kept high standards in indoor environmental quality and efficiency. In the end, the unique design process involved nightly meetings and talks with the Arlington County neighbors, users and civic associations, elevated the community's communication and created a handsome, multi-generational, green site.

10. As-Grows-the-Willow-Grows-the-Child Citation

Learning from the building is a primary part of the teaching process for youngsters in the kindergarten-through-fifth grade Willow School, a private school on a 34-acre former farm in Gladstone, New Jersey. Aiming to preserve the historic and ecological aspects of the place—from making a clean building to offering occasional organic cooking classes in the school's farmhouse—was part of the project. Waterless urinals, metered faucets and low-flow toilet fixtures add to a punch list to please the toughest LEEDs-point puncher, as did low-E glazing on wood windows made from pickle-barrels, natural linoleum and cork flooring and re-used materials throughout. Even the food scraps are composted. Nitty-gritty is the adjective for a design that collects rainwater from the roof in underground storage, treats it with UV light, uses it to flush toilets and pumps it into constructed wastewater wetlands with native plantings and fine root systems that help digest the effluent, returning the water through a sand filter to an aquifer. All of which won Princeton, New Jersey, architects Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects (FMG) a LEED gold rating. "The building block is the classroom," says FMG associate Heidi Fichtenbaum, but the indoor-outdoor connection is essential. Because the firm created a design that connects to the landscape, "it enables the building to interlock with the outdoor learning experience," she observes.

Runners Up

The number of schools across the country making environmental improvements is growing. While we don't have room to recognize them all, we want to clang our flatware to better lunch programs and better buildings. Innovative green buildings open up new educational horizons to students and teachers alike, while serving as examples to other school districts. Runners up for high performance buildings include:

• The Calhoun School, New York, NY, for its abundant daylighting, water-conserving faucets and toilets and a green roof that reduces storm water runoff, attracts bird and insect life and provides space for organic herbs and vegetables for the school lunches,

• The Dalles Middle School, The Dalles, OR, which stores ground water for cooling, uses wind-turbine ventilation and has substantially reduced energy-consumption

• Island Wood School, Bainbridge Island, WA, a low-impact building designed with composting toilets, a garden used to grow organic produce and a "living machine" greenhouse that treats waste water.

Serving organic and local foods is vital in setting kids' eating patterns early on, and particularly important for providing proper nutrition for their developing bodies and growing brains. Runners up for serving sustainable food and providing a healthy diet include:

• The Calhoun School, New York, NY, for an Eat Right Now lunch program which offers children organic and local vegetables, eliminates frozen and canned foods and gives kids a chance to learn from Chef Bobo, a former teacher at the French Culinary Institute

• Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, Berkeley, CA, for their Edible Schoolyard program where students grow, harvest and prepare organic food while learning about botany, biology and the environment.

• Ross School, East Hampton, NY for their Café which places top priority on serving local and organic foods (processed and stored for year-round consumption), uses no disposable items, composts all food waste, donates leftovers to a local rescue program and applies green means to clean.

• The Children's Storefront School, Harlem, New York, NY, for their Slow Food Harvest Time program which provides children (many from low-income families) with cooking classes that weave in nutrition, math, geography and writing and treat their budding students with an herb and produce garden, farmer's market tours and lessons from local chefs.


"It's not enough to be doing less harm," Heidi Fichtenbaum at FMG says. "We have to be doing something that benefits our world so they [the students] don't see this separation between the natural and built environment." That's advice that more and more schools are trying to inculcate in their students as they expand such green oases. "We have to go back to seeing ourselves as part of that environment," she observes.

"Green building is taking off right now," Bryna Dunn of Moseley agrees, adding "People realize that this makes sense for so many reasons. It's healthy, it's smart, it's a responsible use of tax dollars [and] it raises test scores."

by Jane Holtz Kay, www.janeholtzkay.com
The Green Guide www.thegreenguide.com

Green Guide 109, July/August 2005

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Car-Share Company Earns Nod for Reducing Impact of Own Employees' Commute

Flexcar, a pioneer of car-sharing programs in the U.S., has been designated as one of the "Best Workplaces for Commuters" by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation.

Best Workplaces for Commuters, a partnership program designed to cut traffic congestion and traffic-related air pollution, recognizes employers that provide environmentally friendly commuter benefits to employees. Offering these commuter benefits identifies Flexcar as an organization committed to reducing pollution, commuting costs, traffic congestion, and employee stress caused by single-occupant vehicle commuting.

According to Margo Oge, EPA director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, the effects of incentive programs like Best Workplaces for Commuters can be dramatic. "If just half of all U.S. employees were covered under these commuter benefits," said Oge, "traffic and air pollution could be cut by the equivalent of taking 15 million cars off the road every year, saving American workers about $12 billion in fuel costs. That's both cleaner air and real savings for families."

The designation is a logical fit for Flexcar, a program that directly supports non-vehicle commute options. Via the Internet, Flexcar members can instantly reserve any of hundreds of low emission vehicles, including gas/electric hybrids, pickup trucks and minivans located throughout five major metro areas, including Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Washington, D.C., area.

Members reserve the vehicles for hourly use with Flexcar covering the cost of the car, gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance. Most of these vehicles are located in dense urban areas and business centers. For commuters, it means they have access to a car at the office without driving to the office.

"We know that it takes a lot to get a commuter out of their car and into a different commuting option," said Lance Ayrault, Flexcar's CEO. "That's why we not only offer commuter benefits to our own employees, but work with employers and transit agencies across the country to offer Flexcar to their employees. We've found that when a car at the office is an option, interest in alternative commute options goes up."

GreenBiz.com via Earthvision www.earthvision.net

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Green cars fuel blue skies

The Washington, DC-based non-profit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) continues to lobby and educate automobile consumers to buy "green." Through a combination of research, speaking engagements, its annual evaluation of vehicles in every class sold and its online "Green Book," ACEEE strives to put ecology in front of the minds of buyers, policy makers, regulators, automakers and the aftermarket.

Vehicles are analyzed on the basis of the council's "Green Score," a singular measure that incorporates unhealthy tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption and the emissions of gases that cause global warming. Scores for the top ranking automobiles for every vehicle class can be found on ACEEE's website at www.GreenerCars.com.

Lean and green

For the first time, the Ford Escape SUV made the list. "For years, we've been advising buyers that greener models are available to them no matter what type of vehicle they're shopping for. Today, with a bona fide gas-powered SUV [Ford Escape] on our Greenest Vehicles list, this advice rings truer than ever," noted principal vehicle analyst James Kliesch, a research associate at ACEEE.

According to ACEEE, the consideration to buy and drive green encompasses economic, environmental and health issues. American families' vehicles emit more pollution from their cars than that from electricity and heating fuel use, waste disposal and other household activities. In particular, automobile pollution presents more risk than similar amounts of pollution from large sources such as power plants, as vehicle emissions are quite literally "in your face" where we live, work, shop and play.

Automobile pollution not only harms our health in the present and long-term, but also contributes to global warming, and will potentially bring greater problems in years to come. A key watchword of environmentalism is the concept of "sustainability." An action is sustainable if it serves our needs today without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. ACEEE contends that the large amount of energy consumed and the resulting pollution produced by cars and trucks is the biggest reason our transportation system is not sustainable.

Global warning and climate disruption are fueled by CO2 emissions. America is the world's largest emitter of CO2, and U.S. emissions continue to rise steadily. According to ACEEE, it will take decades before China and other rapidly growing economies reach our levels of CO2 pollution emitted per capita. ACEEE notes that American cars and light trucks alone account for more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than the total nationwide emissions of all but four other countries in the world. Buying more fuel-efficient cars and light trucks is one of the single biggest steps consumers can take to reduce global warming.

"This year's Green Book shows more clearly than ever how the choices we make in buying cars and trucks determine our reliance on Middle East oil and our planet's climatic future," noted Bill Prindle, ACEEE's policy director. "If new car and light truck buyers chose the most efficient vehicles in each size class, we would slash the 2005 fleet's gasoline use by 27 percent, reducing gasoline purchases by $6.1 billion and saving the average buyer $360 a year. Furthermore, we would cut greenhouse gas emissions accordingly. Even omitting hybrid vehicles, those numbers still add up to 19 percent, $4.1 billion, and $245 a year, respectively."

Even the cleanest and most-efficient vehicle on the market today still pollutes the air and otherwise damages the environment. A number of air pollutants are associated with automobiles. Fine airborne particulate matter (PM) causes lung trouble — shortness of breath, worsening of respiratory diseases and heart conditions, lung damage and cancer. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) aggravate respiratory problems, both directly and indirectly, by forming PM and smog. NOx also causes acid rain and damages aquatic environments. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) also irritates the lungs and contributes to forming PM as well as acid rain. Hydrocarbons (HC) are volatile organic compounds that cause smog and are toxic and carcinogenic. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that impairs the flow of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body.

The decision to become a greener and cleaner nation requires collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders. Policy makers and regulators can continue to ratchet up and enforce environmentally friendlier standards, healthier energy choices and cleaner sources.

For instance, factoring the health-related costs resulting from petroleum based fuels into the retail price paid would accelerate the transition to alternatives technologies and support infrastructure improvements, such as hybrid or hydrogen vehicles. ACEEE comments that these health costs do exist and are paid for; however, they're paid by society at large, not solely by the providers and buyers of the gasoline or diesel products that caused them.

Automakers can produce and market more environmentally friendly vehicles in every class and lead the transition proactively, rather than simply following mandates reluctantly, says the council. Some automakers do, as evidenced in the lists, encourage more efficient technologies, prepare to service cleaner vehicles and position themselves in the public's eye as the shop of the future to trust and turn to.

Making motor vehicles cleaner and more efficient is an important step toward sustainable green transportation. ACEEE notes that while a large part of this task is up to automakers, consumers also can make decisions that will point us all in the right direction.

Top ranked hybrids from ACEEE’s “greenest” vehicles of 2005

MAZDA 3 — 41

(Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)
By Bob Chabot
Aftermarket Business www.aftermarketbusiness.com

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County seeks environmentally-friendly status for new administration building

Mohave County is going green.

County officials decided to pursue green building certification for the new $20 million county administration building through its contractor Opus West.

"The developer we selected is noted for building and designing buildings that meet" green building requirements, said county Office of Management and Budget manager Gene Hepler.

"They lead you that way, and we as a county decided to do it," he said.

The green building certification process takes about a year.

Examples of things the county is doing to obtain the certification include:

€ No hydrochlorofluorocarbons in the cooling system.
€ Use of building materials that won't deplete the ozone layer.
€ Installation of a carbon dioxide monitoring system.
€ High-level ventilation control.
€ Waterless urinals.
€ Ultra-low-flow water fixtures.
€ An "energy star" white reflective roof.
€ Bicycle storage and changing rooms.
€ Occupancy sensors in the building.
€ Low light pollution fixtures in the parking lot.
€ Thicker glass with ultraviolet light protection.
€ Insulation beyond code requirements.

The county is also building a shaded bus stop on U.S. Route 66 next to the building and will use recycled water for desert plants outside the building.

Examples of desert-friendly landscaping Opus West will plant on site include desert willow and honey locust trees.

The county received a $20,000 grant that will be used toward the cost of the light sensors. The county will contribute $30,000 to the cost. The sensors are projected to save the county $5,530 a year in energy costs.

In addition, glass design and placement, extra insulation and using recycled water is projected to save the county close to $14,000 a year.

"We want to bring environmentally friendly companies (into the county)," Hepler said. "We want to be a role model."

A "green" county administration building will help attract these types of companies, officials hope.

Opus West has been a US Green Building Council member since 2000 and currently has the largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) registered project in the state, a 300,000-square-foot building and parking structure in Phoenix for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Opus West's devotion to environmental quality extends to putting on-site construction waste into separate recycling containers for paper, glass, metal, gypsum board, plastics, etc.

Opus West produced one of only 19 2.0 gold certified projects in the U.S., the American Honda Motor Co. Northwest facility in Gresham, Ore.

Other things the county is working on at the 60-acre site include building a 1.5-mile hiking/walking trail in the hills behind the new building. The county plans to use volunteers, DUI prisoners and probationers on the project, which should be finished within a couple months.

From the building and parking area color scheme to the shaded bus stop and tree and shrub areas, the new county administration building will fit right in with the red-and-brown mesas nearby.

Thanks to environmental planning, the complex will also be "green."

By Caleb Soptelean,
News=Herald www.havasunews.com

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03:43:09 pm, Categories: Air, Texas, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 1741 words   English (US)

Kinder, costlier car checks start on Thursday: Exhaust checks will add $16 to inspections in Travis, Williamson counties

Nothing in the storied history of Central Texas environmentalism quite matches what will arrive Thursday.

Never have so many people — in this case, the owners of most of the cars and trucks in Central Texas — contributed so materially to a conservation and clean-up effort. And never has an environmental campaign here been so far-reaching.

Not everyone swims in the environmentally sensitive Barton Springs or lives around east Travis County's controversial landfills.

But everyone breathes the air.

As such, most everyone in Travis and Williamson counties will have to start coughing up an extra $16 every year to make sure their automobiles aren't unreasonably befouling the region's already dirty air.

Emissions tests will be required every year for vehicles between 2 and 24 years old. They will bump the cost of an inspection from $12.50 to $28.50. They could add 15 minutes to the process. And they will require mechanics and other proctors to buy nearly $20,000 worth of equipment to stay in the inspection business.

Roughly 12 percent of the vehicles are expected to fail the first round of tests. Fixing those vehicles, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, costs an average of $480.

Owners must make every reasonable effort to fix their cars, though state officials will evaluate individual vehicles if owners consider repair costs unreasonably high. The state also will waive the requirement for owners who drive a polluting car or truck less than 5,000 miles a year and who spend at least $100 trying to fix the emissions problem.

Central Texas officials also have set up an aid program to help lower-income drivers pay for the required repairs.

Drivers who don't get an emissions test after this month won't get an inspection sticker. Drivers without up-to-date inspection stickers, of course, get traffic tickets.

"It's aggravating, and it's going to hurt some people," Williamson County Judge John Doerfler said. But Doerfler also noted the harsh punishments that could face Central Texas if it falls out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.

"I think it'll cost us less money to go this route and stay in attainment," he said, "than for everything to fall to pieces."

Culprit is ozone

Right now, Central Texas air is polluted enough to violate the Clean Air Act. The main culprit is ozone, which is produced when chemicals from vehicles, power plants, factories and certain businesses cook in summer's sunny heat.

The pollution problem is largely unrelated to the ozone layer, a shell in the earth's upper atmosphere that repels harmful ultraviolet rays. At ground level, ozone punishes lungs that breathe it, potentially triggering asthma attacks and exacerbating other breathing problems.

The Clean Air Act allows the federal government to impose strict pollution controls on residents, governments and businesses in what are called nonattainment areas. Regions that don't show progress risk losing federal highway dollars.

The Austin area avoided that declaration by adopting a federally approved strategy known as an Early Action Compact. In the works for more than four years, the strategy allowed local officials to pick their poison — or, depending on the point of view, their antidote — rather than wait for federal regulators to declare air quality violations and mandate changes.

The agreement among Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell counties, as well as Austin and several other cities, commits governments and their partners to numerous steps designed to improve Central Texas' air quality by 2007.

As part of the agreement, officials in Travis and Williamson counties accepted the emissions testing — a common requirement in nonattainment areas such as Dallas and Houston. Vehicles registered in either county must be tested for emissions, unless owners show they store it and drive it elsewhere.

Hays County drivers dodged emissions tests when the San Marcos City Council refused to adopt that part of the Early Action Compact (legally, the requirement has to be adopted by a county and its largest city).

Susan Narvaiz voted against the requirement as a council member. She was elected mayor later last year.

Narvaiz said officials felt the requirement would strain the pocketbooks of residents. And she openly doubted that the testing program is worth its cost to drivers, given the amount of pollution that blows into Central Texas from Houston, Mexico and other areas.

"There are outside factors that have still not been dealt with," Narvaiz said. She added that the council adopted other measures in the Early Action Compact, saying, "We did show that we want to be good partners. We understand the importance of clean air."

But Travis County air quality project manager Scheleen Walker said cars and trucks are responsible for more than half of Central Texas' air pollution.

Walker also hopes the assistance program, which will provide up to $600 to fix a polluting vehicle or $1,000 to replace one, will lessen the initiative's impact on the poor.

Income limits for the program vary. An individual making less than $19,140 would qualify, as would a family of four making less than $38,700.

Walker said the emissions testing is not out of line with other parts of the Early Action Compact, such as limits on idling trucks, pollution reductions at some area power plants or efforts by businesses to encourage car pools and telecommuting. The inspections are just more obvious than other measures.

Area leaders "set out very clearly from the beginning to try to require emissions reductions fairly, from all sectors of the economy that were contributing to the problem," Walker said. "We all think we came up with a plan that pretty much met that fair-share concept."

Stations get ready

Emissions testing has already cost Bill Vogt nearly $20,000. On Thursday, before a scrum of TV, radio and newspaper reporters, it put another $250 on his tab.

Vogt owns Friendly Car Care, a shop on Burnet Road that, among other things, inspects cars and trucks. DPS and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — which with local officials have waged a months-long campaign to educate drivers and cushion their coming sticker shock — picked Friendly as the place they would demonstrate how the tests work.

So Vogt pulled his 1997 Chevy Silverado up to the computer that cost him about $18,000. He plugged in a cord allowing his truck to tell the computer whether all of its emission- control gizmos were working (cars made before 1996 will actually have their tailpipe emissions tested). And, as it had a few days before when Vogt ran the test to know what to expect, his own computer told him his truck had flunked.

Vogt thinks it will cost about $250 to get his truck up to emissions standards.

He said he thinks the emissions testing is a good program, taking polluting vehicles off the road and getting others fixed.

But he added, "I have to be like the public, sometimes, and be a little bit of a skeptic. Are autos really the cause of our air pollution?"

Most drivers won't have to balance clean air and personal finance for at least another four days. Inspectors began doing so months ago.

State officials said more than two-thirds of the inspection stations in Travis and Williamson counties committed from the outset to providing emissions tests. That's a much higher rate than the state has seen in Dallas and Houston, officials said, but it still means nearly 100 stations are getting out of the inspection business.

One is Bill Dye Automotive, a shop that's been on South Congress Avenue for nearly 90 years. Bill Dye, the grandson of the founder, said his father began doing safety inspections for a dollar apiece a half-century ago. Now, Dye said, he doesn't think he can afford the equipment.

But if he goes out, it will be in a flurry of business. Dye said he typically does about 50 inspections each month.

But so far in August, he said, about 200 drivers have come in — many of them simply hoping to get new stickers before the tests start flagging polluting vehicles.

Dye, who's 65, said the posted state signs declaring inspection services have always been a good source of free advertising. But starting next month, shops that provide emissions inspections will affix a yellow check mark to their signs.

Dye won't have that check mark, and he worries that business will drop off as customers look for mechanics who can inspect and fix their cars in one stop.

"It's going to hurt, for sure," Dye said. "I think I've got the best customers in the world, and I really don't want to lose any of them."

A couple of miles away, at Pit Stop Auto Repair on South Lamar Boulevard, the computer is already up and running.

Owner Richey Cmerek figures it will take at least a couple of years to recover the money he spent to offer the service. But he also expects the investment to pay off, both for his own business and the region's economy.

"A lot of cars are going to fail. In the beginning, it's going to be a lot of work," Cmerek said. "Hopefully, everybody will understand what's going on."

Nuts and bolts of emissions tests

Which years of vehicles will be tested?
Model years 1981 through 2003 (gasoline-powered only)
Cost of inspection and emissions test?
$28.50 (Previous cost was $12.50.)
How long does it take?
About 15 minutes longer than current inspection time.

How are vehicles tested?

1996 and newer vehicles: On-Board Diagnostic II test
1. Inspector enters vehicle's make, model, VIN, mileage, engine/fuel system, etc.
2. Vehicle's on-board computer is connected to the inspection emissions analyzer through the vehicle's on-board diagnostic port. 'Check engine light' is checked.
3. Engine is started and is allowed to idle for about 20 seconds.
4. The emissions analyzer reads the vehicle's on-board diagnostic codes.
5. Based on the readings, the analyzer determines whether the vehicle passed or failed inspection.

1981-1995 vehicles: Two-Speed Idle test
1. Inspector enters vehicle's make, model, VIN, mileage, engine/fuel system, etc.
2. Engine RPMs are monitored by the emissions analyzer.
3. Emissions sensor is inserted into vehicle's exhaust pipe.
4. To get the catalytic converter into functioning heat range, the engine is allowed to idle.
5. Engine's RPMs are held at two predetermined ranges for test.
6. Last five seconds of sensor readings are analyzed to determine whether vehicle passed or failed inspection.

What do you do if you don't pass?

•After the vehicle is repaired, return to the same station for a free retest within 15 days.
•Waivers available if qualified: 424-2222.
•Low-income family assistance: 267-0301 in Travis County or (800) 978-1766 in Williamson County.
•For more information: www.airchecktexas.com; (800) 493-5486

By Stephen Scheibal, 445-3819

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Valley's greenest campus: Low pressure street lamps on the University of California, Merced campus are designed to be energy efficient and reduce light pollution

The country's first new research university of the 21st Century is also likely the greenest.

Planners of the University of California, Merced, campus say it was built and will operate around the concept of sustainable development -- an eco-friendly idea that growth can be maintained without depleting finite resources.

From a 1.9 million-gallon storage tank for chilled water to a 700-foot tunnel that pipes utilities, the campus is on the cutting edge of an international green building movement.

Ceramic-coated windows that take in light, but block out heat, shaded arcades, and the placement of buildings and pathways to catch wind off of Lake Yosemite, are a few important features in a region with long, scorching summers.

Light fixtures that project toward the ground to prevent "light pollution" and retention ponds that purify runoff water are a few more samples of what makes UC Merced green.

"It isn't all apparent," said Vice Chancellor for Administration Lindsay Desrochers while giving a tour of mechanics of the campus earlier this week.

UC Merced's lofty environmental goals were the topic of the July cover story in Engineering News-Record, a building news magazine with a readership of more than 270,000 people.

They were also highlighted in an April story that ran in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper with a readership of 400,000.

Energy and water conservation are built into the design of the campus and its infrastructure, setting a new standard for green colleges, said Desrochers.

Computers in a central station constantly monitor consumption of electricity, water and gas in every building on campus.

"For students who want to study energy, the buildings can serve as a living laboratory," said Karl Brown, deputy director of the UC system's California Institute for Energy Efficiency and a consultant to UC Merced. "One of the benefits is it is going to be an educational tool for the students."

The campus is projected to use 20 to 30 percent less water than a typical college campus and 30 percent less electricity than standards set by the state of California for public buildings .

Additionally, 75 percent of the leftover wood, steel and other materials used to build the campus was sent back to manufacturers or recycled.

Much of the building material itself is recycled to begin with, including carpets and ceiling tiles.

The campus isn't equipped to collect solar energy, but there are plans for "co-generation" in the future. Space is being set aside solar panels or fuel cell equipment.

Taking the LEED

The University of California's 10th campus aims to attain silver status through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system.

LEED certification is a voluntary point-based system for green building projects.

Max Zahniser, with the Green Building Council, said the scale of UC Merced's application is probably the largest.

Instead of submitting just one building at a time, Merced's application hopes to certify every major building at the university.

The three basic levels of certification -- silver, gold and platinum -- emphasize water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Towering savings

The almost 2 million-gallon water tower that pumps chilled water to air-conditioning units around the campus is a key component to the university's energy savings plan.

By running water chillers at night, when electricity rates are cheaper, the campus can cut 25 percent of its peak energy demand, said Brown.

Over time, that will result in big cost savings and cut down on the consumption of fossil fuels burned to generate electricity.

"This is exactly the kind of thing that will require less power plants in California," said Ric Notini, UC Merced's environmental and permitting manager. "The amount of money that the university is going to save in operational costs over the next 20 years will be huge. We're talking tens of millions of dollars."

John Lund Kriken, a design partner with the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, said the university's planning team chose to keep the water tower and central utility plant as prominent landmarks on campus.

Placing them near the Science and Engineering building will help remind people about energy consumption, he said.

"They won't be put underground or in a corner somewhere," said Kriken. "It's how a campus can teach about sustainability by its very design."

Kriken, a master plan architect for the campus, said relocating the campus closer to the lake on a former golf course because of environmental concerns was a good move.

He said moving closer to the county park placed the university closer to the community. It also allowed him to develop a plan to orient the campus' pathway system at an angle that can be cooled by the lake's breeze.

"While there's more interest in green design today, this is a very unique opportunity to think of it over such a large scale," Kriken said.

"It will be a very special campus."

By David Chircop, 385-2453,

Mered Sun-Star www.mercedsun-star.com

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01:47:17 pm, Categories: Air, Companies, South, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, Sulfur, SO2, 892 words   English (US)

Mill to cut emissions, odor: International Paper plan to reduce pollutants by '07 approved

Georgetown residents could be breathing easier by 2007 when International Paper Co. starts a new air-pollution-control device that also will cut the plant's traditional burnt-cabbage scent.

The aroma reduction is a side benefit of a $10 million project to reduce hazardous air pollution, though it is difficult to describe the results of the change.

"This will improve the odor," said J. Robert Brown, an air quality permit officer with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The new equipment will reduce odor by destroying some of the organic compounds that are released into the air.

"Some of those are what you can smell at very low levels," Brown said.

But he said odor perception is so subjective he could not gauge the effect on the community.

Neither could mill officials.

"How this project will translate to people's perception of odor is unknown at this time," mill spokeswoman Stephanie Mangini said.

Another reason the odor is hard to gauge is that it is affected by wind speed and direction, air humidity and other atmospheric conditions that can cause differing effects in area neighborhoods, Brown said.

Susan Libes, a chemistry professor at Coastal Carolina University, also could not quantify the changes in the odor output without knowing more about specific concentrations of chemicals at given times.

"Your nose detects smells when they rise above some threshold concentration," Libes said. "If the concentrations are initially really high, they could be reduced by a large percentage, say 99 percent, but the remaining 1 percent could still be a concentration above the odor detection threshold and thus still be problematic."

But International Paper officials think the results of the new equipment will be pleasing to the community.

"For us it's a positive thing, and I think for the communty it's going to be a positive thing as well," Mangini said.

Some residents have said in recent years that the paper mill's odor is scaring away development, but a former Georgetown County Economic Development Board chairman doesn't think that is the case.

"I have never heard that come up as an issue," said Jeff Kinard, who led the board for eight years, until two years ago.

For the past two years, Kinard has served on the Georgetown County Planning Commission, and he has seen no evidence there that the odor affects economic or residential growth.

New residential developments are coming "one right after the other," Kinard said. One of those is Copper Station, a project with thousands of homes that will be in the path of the prevailing winds that blow by the plant, he said.

One resident who hopes for a significant change is Idella McQueen, who has lived on Emanuel Street in the shadow of the mill for 53 years.

"It is terrible at times, especially if the wind is bringing it over this way," McQueen said.

Even so, it's not as bad as in the past. She said the odor has improved "100 percent" compared to when the plant was first built. At that time, she lived in the Pleasant Hill community almost 30 miles from Georgetown, where residents regularly smelled the mill. The scent seldom wafts that far nowadays, she said.

The 68-year-old mill, the county's second largest private employer and its largest taxpayer, must cut air pollutants by 2007 as part of new federal regulations.

Hazardous air pollutants as a single category will be reduced 18 percent. Volatile organic compounds, which include those that produce odors, will be cut 14 percent. Sulfur compounds will be cut 29 percent and methanol will be reduced 22 percent.

These are significant reductions, Brown said.

The permit also was extensively reviewed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and approved, Brown said.

The permit, awarded July 28, was given under a special alternative pollution reduction program.

The program allows applicants to use a different method than the one prescribed by the EPA if the company can show that its own plan is as effective.

The mill worked on the plans for the project for two years and is the first in the state to qualify under the alternative compliance program.

The permit allows the plant flexibility in how to comply with the new pollution regulations, said Allyson Bristow, the mill's environmental manager.

The process, which involves building a new incinerator to burn more of the pollutants, costs less than some methods, Bristow said.

It also allows the plant greater efficiency in energy use and waste reduction, he said.

International Paper is capturing the pollutants in a different part of the papermaking process than the recommended method.

Bristow said the effort will result in better environmental protection at a lower cost to the mill, which increases job security.

Paper mill facts

About the Georgetown Mill of International Paper

Built | 1937 as the largest paper mill in the world, to make linerboard for corrugated boxes
Reconfigured | 1982 to make uncoated white paper and pulp
Volume | Makes 632,000 tons a year; still one of the largest paper mills
Vitals | Georgetown County's second- largest private employer with 700 workers, and the largest taxpayer at about $3.6 million last year

Pollutant cuts
Reduction percentages of emissions from certain pollutants at the International Paper Co. Georgetown Mill

Hazardous air pollutants | 18 percent
Volatile organic compounds | 14 percent
Sulfur compounds | 29 percent
Methanol | 22 percent

Source: Department of Health and Environmental Control and International Paper.

By Zane Wilson, 520-0397,
The Sun News www.myrtlebeachonline.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, U.S., Regulatory Analysis, Research Institute/NonProf, 213 words   English (US)

Statement By Eric Haxthausen Of Environmental Defense On Bush Administration's Fuel Economy Proposal

“Although structural reform is an interesting idea that deserves consideration, the new proposal from the Bush Administration on CAFE fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks is almost embarrassingly inadequate in terms their impacts on U.S. oil consumption. And in the midst of record-breaking crude oil and gasoline prices, continuing weakness of fuel standards will do little to help American drivers at the pump. We can and should do much better. A cost-benefit analysis by Environmental Defense indicates that even under very conservative assumptions, the government should increase SUV and other light truck standards by at least 0.7 to 1 mpg each year, which could save more than 1.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2020, about as much as currently imported from Saudi Arabia

“With US cars and light trucks accounting for 20% of US greenhouse gas emissions, roughly the equivalent to Japan’s total emissions, the continuing weakness of fuel economy standards also fails to address the growing threat of climate change.”

Source: Press Release from Environmental Defense

Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 400,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems.

Environmental Defense www.environmentaldefense.org

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03:50:17 pm, Categories: Air, Health, Green Buildings, Companies, 780 words   English (US)

New AQS Report Knocks Down Economic Stumbling Blocks to Green Building

A new report from Air Quality Sciences, entitled "If You Build It Green, They Will Come," provides convincing evidence that building green is not as cost prohibitive as critics claim.

"Although sustainable (green) building is catching on across the US, questions about higher first costs and lower return on investment remain a stumbling block for many developers, designers, building owners and facility managers," said Anthony G. Worthan, MPH, AQS president and chief operating officer.

"The bottom line is first costs associated with green building are significantly lower (0 to 3%) than previously reported (10% to 25%). Clearly, green building is affordable. The economic outlook gets even better if improvements in people's comfort and productivity are taken into account and green building goals are incorporated as early as possible into the design process," he said.

Based on a review of major economic studies of buildings designed and constructed to meet LEED Green Building Rating System™ requirements, this report addresses the issues most on the minds of those who may have an interest in developing, designing and constructing green buildings, but up to this point have been hesitant.

In addition to concerns about higher first costs and lower returns on investment, the report also takes a look at building commissioning and building flush out, two important strategies for creating healthy indoor environments.

"Many view building commissioning as an optional step that has no economic benefit. If planned and implemented properly, commissioning is an effective way to verify that the planning, design, construction and operation of the building are achieving set goals," Mr. Worthan said.

The studies reviewed found that depending on the size of the project, commissioning costs may range from 0.3% to 4.0% of construction costs. Energy savings (up to 10%) can more than make up for these costs. Commissioning also can realize savings by significantly reducing or even eliminating costly change orders, reducing requests for cost information, ensuring proper system/component selection, improving building systems performance and reducing call backs, the report said.

Flushing out a building with 100% outdoor air for a period of time prior to a building being occupied is an effective way to remove indoor air contaminants, such as volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, particulates and fungi to name a few examples. While the ideal is to continually flush out a building during construction, it may not be practical for some projects. In these cases, a sound green building practice is to reduce the flush out time to two weeks at the end of the project, the report said.

"The energy costs associated with a two-week flush-out period using 100 percent outside air vary based on building size and ventilation method, but usually run about $0.13 per square foot," said Mr. Worthan.

Other cost-effective strategies noted in the report include:

* Selecting and using low-emitting materials, such as those certified by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, which can minimize the need and potentially shorten the time needed for flushing out the building
* Sampling and analysis of indoor air as a part of the commissioning process to confirm low levels of indoor contaminants, which often can be done for less than the energy costs of flushing out the building

"Taking these steps not only results in savings, but being able to compress the construction schedule at the very end of a project can be invaluable added benefit, especially when time is tight and the owner or tenants are anxious to occupy the new or renovated facility," he said.

With the green building trend gaining momentum, those who still have questions or doubt its economic value will benefit from reading this report. It also can help those who are committed to green building make convincing arguments by reducing their time to research these important issues. The report features a bibliography of the studies reviewed.

"If You Build It Green, They Will Come," is available free of charge from the Aerias-AQS IAQ Resource Center website, under Premium Content.

Air Quality Sciences, Inc. is a fully integrated indoor air quality (IAQ) company that provides solutions to create healthy indoor environments and avoid potentially dangerous indoor pollution. As the only IAQ firm with internal labs that are both ISO 9001:2000 registered and AIHA EMLAP accredited, AQS sets the standard for effective diagnoses and solutions. AQS also is a test laboratory for both the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute and the Blue Angel Labeling programs, which provide independent, third party certification for low-emitting products used indoors. To learn more about AQS, Blue Angel and GREENGUARD, visit www.aqs.com, www.blauer-engel.de or www.greenguard.org, respectively. To learn more about indoor air quality, visit Aerias-AQS IAQ Resource Center at www.aerias.org.

Air Quality Sciences www.aqs.com

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Scheduling slow-moving barges on the Upper Mississippi River has the potential to reduce congestion at locks, enhance homeland security and protect sensitive wildlife habitat, according to a university study funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Significantly, researchers also found that barge traffic levels are presently too low to justify even the minimal investment required to implement a scheduling system – a finding that undercuts the central argument behind the Corps drive to convince Congress to spend billions of dollars to build bigger locks on the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The study, entitled “Management Systems for Inland Waterway Traffic Control,” was conducted by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Funded in large part by the Corps, other study sponsors included the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Geological Survey. The study determined that while scheduling barges was feasible and potentially beneficial, the Upper Mississippi River lacks enough barge traffic to justify the implementation of a traffic management system. In fact, current barge traffic levels are so low that the locks just sit idle a majority of the time while tows spend less than one percent of their time waiting for lock processing.

When it returns from its August recess, the U.S. Senate is slated to take up a proposal to authorize spending up to $2.4 billion to build bigger new locks on the Illinois Waterway and the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. The House of Representatives has already approved the plan. Bigger locks are supposed to speed transport by cutting congestion of barges at the current, smaller locks.

“If traffic levels do not justify the modest step of scheduling traffic at the locks, why in the world would the Corps recommend and the Congress consider spending billions to build bigger locks to accommodate non-existent barges?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The Upper Mississippi plan is like saying that the way to manage automobile traffic is to build bigger and wider roads before investing in a single traffic light.”

One of the researchers involved in the study is Dr. Don Sweeney, a former Corps economist and now a professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. In 2000, Dr. Sweeney blew the whistle on manipulation of the cost-benefit analyses by Corps officers in a failed attempt to justify the project. Dr. Sweeney’s concerns were confirmed by a Department of the Army investigation and later validated by three National Academies of Science reviews. Dr. Sweeney had advocated that the Corps explore non-construction and small-scale alternatives before committing to a high-dollar lock expansion project.

“Even though the Corps helped pay for it, the agency certainly does not want to publicize yet another study showing that its management of the nation’s waterways is primitive, inefficient and self-serving,” Ruch added.

Read the study summary
View the entire two-volume report
Contact: Chas Offutt (202) 265-7337

Environmental Media Services www.ems.org

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Settlement over toxic ash buried in Jacksonville

Residents who claimed they were exposed to toxic ash produced by municipal trash incinerators and buried in predominantly black neighborhoods have reached a $75 million settlement with the city of Jacksonville, officials said.

The city also agreed to expedite portions of a plan to replace contaminated soil at four ash sites.

The settlement still requires the City Council's approval.

As part of the settlement, some residents from the most polluted sites will be relocated, said Wayne Alford, an attorney involved in the case.

According to the settlement, the city must pay $25 million by the end of the year, and the city's former insurance companies would contribute the rest of the money.

Cindy Laquidara, the city's chief deputy general counsel, said the city settled because "it makes economic sense. It's a reasonable decision for the city."

Several factors, such as whether they were exposed to the ash as an adult or a child, would determine how much each of the roughly 4,500 residents who joined the class-action lawsuit receive from the settlement, Alford said.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in 2003, claimed residents were exposed to lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxins in the ash produced by incinerators the city operated from the 1910s to the 1960s.

It also sought damages for civil rights violations because the ash dumps and incinerators were in predominantly black neighborhoods.

ABC Action News www.abcactionnews.com

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05:03:27 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Academic Study/Journal Article, Regulatory Analysis, 146 words   English (US)

Promoting Geothermal Energy: Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis

When compared to fossil fuel energy sources such as coal and natural gas, geothermal emerges as one of the least polluting forms of energy, producing virtually zero air emissions. Geothermal offers a baseload source of reliable power that compares favorably with fossil fuel power sources. But unless legislative changes are enacted, geothermal energy will continue to be produced at only a fraction of its potential.

by Alyssa Kagel and Karl Gawell

The Electricity Journal via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 18, Issue 7 , August-September 2005, Pages 90-99

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Health, Australia, New Zealand, 627 words   English (US)

Project could boost bottom line for business 'blues': Depression study boosts bottom line: A national study will demonstrate how Australian employers can save up to $1 Billion lost every year by assisting employees with untreated depression.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in Australia with one in five Australians suffering a major depression episode during their life time spelling a miserable time for a large group of people.

The truly sad fact is that half of people that have depression never seek any form of help or treatment for the condition, yet treatments are effective in over 70% of cases.

Untreated depression takes a big bite out of the economy, costing an average of almost $10,000 a year for every untreated employee due to absenteeism and work under-productivity.

World Bank consultant Professor Harvey Whiteford, is directing the WORC (Work Outcomes Research and Cost-Benefit) Project collaboration between Harvard University, University of Queensland and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research. Professor Whiteford said while many employers have known for years the obvious cost of depression on their workforce through absenteeism, the hidden costs of 'presenteeism' is on a far bigger scale.

"Absenteeism is actually the smaller part of the problem" Professor Whiteford said. "Whereas absenteeism costs around $1.2B per year for the economy, 'presenteeism' or work cut-back costs almost double that at $2.3Billion."

"We're talking about employees with untreated depression that can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, and causes that employee to function at around 40% of their capability while they are at work." Professor Whiteford said "the potential to investigate cost-effective interventions was enormous."

"The WORC Project surveys employees, and helps those with depression access treatment, and determines the financial return on investment from the employers' perspective," Professor Whiteford said. "We want to proactively help people to access treatment, but employers also need to know that the cost of screening and treatment are more than offset by increased productivity, expressed in dollar terms"

"It might be impossible to measure an individual's happiness against a budget line, but we are looking for economic indicators in other ways, such as decreased absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced Work Cover costs, decreased staff turnover, and those incalculable benefits of improved morale."

"For those participating employers, we calculate treatment and intervention will recoup around $338 for every employee per year; that's each employee, not just those with depression. This is a big carrot for employers, just as the personal, familial and social benefits of lifting the clouds of depression is for the people who actually experience it."

The WORC Project, the first time a study of this type and size in Australia, has surveyed 80,000 employees across Australia. Employees who have symptoms of depression and who are not currently seeking treatment are linked in with psychologists and General Practitioners or other specialists. Early results indicate that 65% of employees with depression symptoms have not sought help in the last year.

The WORC Project had already attracted the attention of large national employers who had projected the benefits for their workplace and have signed on as project participants.

Professor Whiteford said. "Some competitive organizations have been trying to address this issue within their own workforce for years, and recognize the benefits of being part of a national collaboration."

"The most proactive participants seemed to have been those organizations that recognized the economy-based drive for health and wellness we've seen to most effect in the United States."

"Depression is an economic issue. If you treat it, there's economic benefits on a number of levels. There's a cost to not treating depression."

The project is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Queensland Health, beyondblue: the national depression initiative, and the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund.

[media contact]: Michael Hilton, Research Australia
Project Director, The WORC Project
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR)
The Park - Centre for Mental Health,
Treatment, Research and Education
Locked Bag 500
Richlands, QLD, 4077, Australia.
Ph: +61 (0)7-3271-8666; Fax: +61(0)7-3271-8698; Mobile (0402) 319 477

Eurekalert www.eurekalert.org

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Making a case for green buildings

Building green is both socially responsible and good for the bottom line, according to developers who recently spoke at the "Developing Green" conference sponsored by the Urban Land Institute.

The two-day conference, chaired by Kenneth W. Hubbard, executive vice president of Hines in New York City, was held Washington, D.C. The event drew 300 attendees from the building industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Green Building Council and public officials nationwide.

David Gottfried, founder of the U.S. Green Building Council, described his personal transformation from "greed to green" while attending a 1992 meeting of the American Institute of Architects on sustainable development.

Soon after, he abandoned what he described as the "greed is good" approach applied to real estate development and formed the U.S. Green Building Council in 1993.

Gottfried said the council's model for environmentally conscious development practices is used in more than 12 countries today. "Globally, we are waking up. We have an opportunity to change the course of history and that can be profitable."

Although the initial costs of green building can be higher than more traditional forms of development, Gottfried said, "Ultimately, there will be a return on investment." For instance, he noted, green buildings can command higher rents and cut operating costs from one-third to one-half. He advised the audience to "prepare for the day when you can't get a loan without a green check list. It's coming."

Some cities, including New York, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, now require green buildings, said Gregory Kats, principal of Capital E in Washington, D.C., who made the case for the value of building green.

Kats said his company studied two years ago 40 green buildings that showed green features added a cost of $3 to $4 a square foot, or about 2 percent above normal construction costs. However, he said, energy costs fall by one-third with a green building.

Green construction elements include water and energy efficiency, healthful paints and glues, all natural, undyed carpet made from 100 percent wool, recycled wood and building products.

The greatest cost savings are gained with energy efficiency. In addition to the financial benefits of green buildings, Kats cited a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council that evaluated productivity and health benefits of green buildings and found a 7 percent increase in productivity of workers in green buildings.

"The most important aspect of green buildings is caring about our employees," he said.

The benefits of green buildings were highlighted by Michael Pawlukiewicz, director, environmental and policy education for the Urban Land Institute.

He referred to a study by the Real Estate Round Table that showed several major corporations, such as J.C. Penney, which saved $30 million a year on energy costs, and PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, which realized a 15 percent increase in productivity in its green buildings.

Dan Winters, principal of Evolution Partners in Washington, D.C., said that while there are no direct benefits provided by capital markets for green projects, there are hidden benefits in that the market translates green construction features into economic benefits. He said there is an initiative under way by a consortium of financial firms to translate "green" into an underwriting bonus by modifying the underwriting standards and providing a credit for green construction.

Speakers at the conference all stressed the importance of an integrated approach from the start of a project and made it clear that there is monetary value in building green. Several best practices for building green were cited, including:

1) Work with a certified leadership in energy and environmental design architect;
2) Start with an integrated approach;
3) Understand how and where to use solar energy; and
4) Pick a location that has existing infrastructure, and which is close to public transportation.

"The No. 1 lesson to take away is that you need high density where infrastructure exists," said Jonathan Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Companies L.L.C. in Katonah. "If we are going to get people to live in dense communities, we have to make them really great places."

Rose's company is working on more than $1 billion of green development throughout the nation. He stressed the importance of integrated design. "When you integrate architectural, mechanical and structural function as one, that is how you get green buildings that are cheaper," he said.

According to Rose, green buildings "particularly on brownfield and other infill sites" is critical to help save the country's declining ecosystem.

"We are in the midst of dramatic climate change which affects us in many ways," Rose said. "The entire ecosystem is being threatened and this is a human-created problem."

Rose said in addition to being environmentally responsible, successful green construction projects mix uses, incomes and housing types; and they pay attention to the quality of the life and work they provide.

Steve Peck, founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities in Toronto, said one key element in green construction is the use of green roofs, which is the use of a roof to help manage the environment of the building. This building practice, which is common in Europe, needs to be imported to this country because these roofs offer an opportunity for financial and social benefits, he said.

Westchester County Business Journal www.westchestercountybusinessjournal.com

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Monetization of health damages from road noise with implications for monetizing health impacts in life cycle assessment

There are decision situations where environmental impacts need to be compared with other costs or benefits that by their nature are expressed in terms of money. Supporting these decisions may require the expression of environmental impacts in monetary units. Using the example of health impacts from road noise we apply five different monetization approaches and quantify the monetary values of one year of sleep disturbance (CHF 2500–16 000) and interference with communication (1500–10 000). In Life Cycle Assessment many health endpoints need to be evaluated at the same time. Therefore, we illustrate here the transferability problem between health impacts measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and monetized health impacts, using the example of health impacts due to 1000 truck kilometres. It is concluded that available monetization methods need careful adaptation for their use to monetize environmental health impacts, that the DALY accounting system may support the systematic monetization and the selection of relevant health endpoints, and that it may well be justified for LCA purposes to perform some novel primary willingness to pay studies.

Keywords: Noise impacts; Life cycle impact assessment; External costs; Disability adjusted life years; Willingness to pay

by Patrick Hofstetter a and Ruedi Müller-Wenk b

a Büro für Analyse & Ökologie (BAO), Zelghalde 15, 8046 Zürich, Switzerland; Tel.: +41 43 288 53 63
b Institut für Wirtschaft und Ökologie (IWÖ), University of St. Gall, Tigerbergstrasse 2, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland

Journal of Cleaner Production via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 13, Issues 13-14 , November-December 2005, Pages 1235-1245
Life Cycle Assessment


Economy-Wide Estimates of the Implications of Climate Change: Human Health

Francesco Bosello,Roberto Roson Ca'Foscari, and Richard S.J. Tol study the economic impacts of climate-change-induced change in human health, viz. cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, diarrhoea, malaria, dengue fever and schistosomiasis. Changes in morbidity and mortality are interpreted as changes in labour productivity and demand for health care, and used to shock the GTAP-E computable general equilibrium model, calibrated for the year 2050. GDP, welfare and investment fall (rise) in regions with net negative (positive) health impacts. Prices, production, and terms of trade show a mixed pattern. Direct cost estimates, common in climate change impact studies, underestimate the true welfare losses.

By Francesco Bosello Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Roberto Roson Ca'Foscari University of Venice and International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Richard S.J. Tol Hamburg University,
Contact Info: Francesco Bosello, Campo S. Maria Formosa, Venice, Italy
Phone: +39 0412711459, Fax: +39 0412711461

JEL Classification: C68, D58, Q25
Keywords: Impacts of climate change, Human health, Computable general equilibrium

Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) www.feem.it
Discussion Paper 97.05

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Adoption of Clean Leather-Tanning Technologies in Mexico

In many developing countries, a host of financial, institutional, and political factors hamstring conventional environmental regulation. Given these constraints, a promising strategy for controlling pollution is to promote the voluntary adoption of clean technologies. Although this strategy has received considerable attention in policy circles, empirical research on the adoption of clean technologies in developing countries is limited. This paper presents historical background and original survey data on the adoption of five clean tanning technologies by a sample of 137 leather tanneries in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, a city where tanneries have serious environmental impacts and conventional environmental regulation has repeatedly failed to mitigate the problem. The analysis suggest that rather than top-down public-sector pressure and technical assistance, the key factor driving the adoption of clean tanning technologies in León is the bottom-up dissemination of information about the cost and quality benefits of the technologies.

JEL Classification: Q53, Q55, Q56, 013, 033
Keywords: clean technology, leather tanning, developing country, Mexico

by Allen Blackman
Resources For the Future www.rff.org
August 2005 Discussion Paper 05-38

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Jury awards $2 million in Pigeon River lawsuit

After a five-day trial and more than five hours of deliberations on Wednesday, a Cocke County Circuit Court jury found in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Blue Ridge Paper Products, but awarded a relatively small amount of damages.

The six-man, six-woman jury heard closing arguments from the attorneys and received legal instructions from Judge Rex Henry Ogle on Tuesday and began their deliberations at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

Its verdict was returned about 3:30 p.m. Jurors found in favor of Denton resident Beth Freeman and 302 other property owners along the Pigeon River in Cocke County, but awarded just $2 million in compensatory damages against Blue Ridge. No punitive damages were awarded.

The plaintiffs had sought about $22.5 million—representing about $74,000 for each property owner—along with an unspecified amount of punitive damages. Instead, the jury awarded a total of $2 million and no punitive damages.

That works out to just more than $6,500 per plaintiff, and that figure will likely be significantly reduced when attorneys’ fees and other legal costs are subtracted.

At issue in the five-day trial, which began last Wednesday, is pollution from Blue Ridge’s pulp and paper mill in Canton, North Carolina. Blue Ridge purchased the mill from Champion International Corporation in 1999.

The plaintiffs contended that, despite improvements in the color and odor of the company’s discharge into the Pigeon, Blue Ridge continues to dump tons of toxic substances into the river each year.

The color and odor of the Pigeon were both called into question during the trial, and the plaintiffs alleged that Blue Ridge discharges toxic amounts of a list of substances—including aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, iron, manganese, nickel, and zinc—into the river.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys Gordon Ball and Tom Scott also argued that the value of the land along the river in Cocke County below the Blue Ridge plant has been diminished and made virtually useless as a result of the company’s pollution.

In contrast, Blue Ridge’s attorneys Kyle Carpenter and Bob Vance argued that there have been significant improvements in the water quality of the Pigeon River in the past five years—the period which was the focus of the lawsuit—and pointed to a greatly reduced color of its wastewater and the virtual elimination of odor in the Tennessee portion of the river. They also contended that none of the substances cited by the plaintiffs are discharged in any significant amount from the Canton mill.

In support of that position, the company took note of the number of whitewater rafting companies operating along the river and told jurors that the number of rafters has increased from 20,000 rafters in 1995 to 118,000 in 2004.

By its verdict, the jury found that Blue Ridge was creating a nuisance—legally defined as an unreasonable use of the river which detracts from the downstream residents’ use and enjoyment of the river.

Jurors agreed that $2 million was just compensation for the plaintiffs’ damages.

Wednesday’s verdict can be viewed in two ways. The verdict can be seen to favor Blue Ridge because the amount of damages awarded was less than ten percent of the original amount sought by the plaintiffs. And sources say the most recent settlement proposal between the two parties was considerably more than the final decision.

On the other hand, the jury did find that the Blue Ridge mill’s discharges are pollution which is depriving downstream residents of their use and enjoyment of the Pigeon River.

Blue Ridge now has the option of appealing the verdict to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

By Gilbert Soesbee
The Newport Plain Talk via Cocke County Online www.cocke.xtn.net

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Secondhand Smoke Costs U.S. Economy $10 Billion Annually, According to New Study by Society of Actuaries

Secondhand smoke imposes significant costs on nonsmokers and society, according to a recent Society of Actuaries (SOA) study that concluded the annual cost of excess medical care, mortality and morbidity from secondhand smoke exposure in the U.S. is approximately $10 billion. This includes approximately $5 billion in direct medical costs and approximately $5 billion in indirect costs, such as lost wages, reduced services and costs associated with disabilities per year.

The study is one of the first to explore the economic effects of secondhand smoke exposure for a variety of medical conditions in which it has shown to increase the incidence of illness. The many conditions examined include, but are not limited to, lung cancer, asthma, and chronic pulmonary and coronary artery diseases. This research was developed by the SOA in partnership with the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

The study determined both the direct and indirect costs associated with a specific medical condition.

Estimated Direct Medical Cost of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke per Year for the U.S. Population, Based on Present Values

Lung cancer - $191m
Cervical cancer - $14m
Asthma - $773m
Otitis media (Ear infection) - $53m
Chronic pulmonary disease - $1,215m
Coronary heart disease - $2,452m
Low birth weight - $284m
Total - $4,982m

Estimated Economic Value of Lost Wages, Fringe Benefits, and Services per Year for the U.S. Population Excluding Infants, Based on Present Values

Lung cancer - $469m
Cervical cancer - $110m
Asthma (disability only) - $161m
Chronic pulmonary disease - $886m
Coronary heart disease - $2752m
Low birth weight - $174m
Sudden infant death syndrome - $131m

Total - $4,683m

By relating where secondhand exposure happens -- either at home, work or in both locations -- to the level of increase in incidence, the research team determined the number of additional medical cases in the U.S. related to secondhand smoke exposure.

"We wanted to understand the difference in cost that would occur if exposure to environmental tobacco smoke were simply eliminated," said Donald Behan, Fellow of the SOA and lead researcher for the project. "While the health effects of secondhand smoke are reduced in comparison to active smoking, the number of people exposed is so large that the costs are substantial. As our research shows, even though exposure to secondhand smoke has been greatly reduced over the last 15 years, it remains a public health concern with an economic impact in the U.S. of many billions of dollars per year."

These findings were gathered by reviewing more than 200 published studies or reports that date back as far as 1964 on the health effects of environmental tobacco smoke. While many of the studies document a health risk associated with secondhand smoke exposure, few have attempted to quantify an economic consequence of the risk.

"Actuaries are adept at measuring risks and their implications and this unique study will lead to a better understanding of the financial impact of secondhand smoke exposure," said Tim Harris, Fellow of the SOA and chairman of the project's oversight committee.

For more information, visit the SOA website.

The Society of Actuaries is an educational, research and professional organization dedicated to serving the public and its 18,000 members. The SOA's vision is for actuaries -- business professionals who analyze the financial consequence of risk -- to be recognized as the leading professionals in the modeling and management of financial risk and contingent events. The SOA's mission is to advance actuarial knowledge and to enhance the ability of actuaries to provide expert advice and relevant solutions for financial, business and societal problems involving uncertain future events. To learn more, visit the Society of Actuaries http://www.soa.org

Medical News Today www.medicalnewstoday.com

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Should Fuel Taxes Be Scrapped in Favor of Per-Mile Charges?

This paper discusses the appropriate balance between traditional gasoline taxes and charging by the mile, focusing mainly on economic efficiency considerations. We begin with a brief discussion of the five major passenger vehicle externalities of concern - local pollution, greenhouse warming, oil dependency, traffic congestion, and traffic accidents - summarizing evidence on the dollar value of the externalities for passenger vehicles in the United States. We then discuss how much fuel taxation might be justified to account for these externalities, as well as how much taxation might be appropriate on fiscal grounds, assuming per-mile charges are unavailable. Finally, we discuss to what extent fuel taxation should be replaced with per-mile charges.

JEL Classification: H21, H23, R48
Keywords: gasoline tax, mileage tax, motor vehicle externalities, fiscal interactions
by Ian W.H. Parry
August 2005 Discussion Paper 05-36
Resources For the Future www.rff.org

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05:38:06 am, Categories: Air, Legal, Government Report, Companies, Ozone, Texas, Contamination Cost, 617 words   English (US)

Cosmed Group, Inc. Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million for Clean Air Act Violations

Dallas County and three other densely-populated urban areas in the United States will benefit from clean air projects valued at $1 million as part of an agreement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached with Cosmed Group, Inc., resolving the first nationwide
settlement of a Clean Air Act enforcement action for violations of the
"Maximum Achievable Control Technology" standards for ethylene oxide
emissions from sterilization facilities. The company will also pay a
$500,000 penalty.

"EPA is using the effective enforcement tools provided by the Clean Air Act to protect human health and the environment while ensuring a level playing field for industry," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "I am pleased that EPA was able to bring additional clean air benefits to the Dallas/Fort Worth area through this action."

Cosmed is a national contract sterilization company with alleged violations at six facilities including one in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Clean Air Act violations alleged at the Grand Prairie plant include
failure to conduct initial performance testing of sterilization chamber
vent control equipment for four sterilization chambers, failure to
demonstrate continuous compliance with operating limits, and failure to
submit written report of deviation.

Cosmed will spend $182,000 to convert approximately 32 gasoline
powered Dallas County school bus engines to cleaner-burning propane.
The conversion is expected to eliminate 34.3 tons of oxides of nitrogen,
among other pollutants, during the first three years following the

The EPA claims that between about 1998 and 2003 Cosmed failed to install pollution control equipment in a timely manner, failed to measure its ethylene oxide emissions, and failed to submit required reports to EPA for facilities in Baltimore, Md., Grand Prairie, Texas, San Diego, Calif., Coventry, R.I., South Plainfield, N.J., and Waukegan, Ill.

Other clean air projects benefiting communities near Cosmed facilities in Camden, N.J., Lake County, Ill., and San Diego, Calif., will reduce pollution from diesel vehicles and equipment through the use of advanced pollution controls and cleaner diesel fuel.

All the projects will deliver important public health benefits to large populations in these mostly urban neighborhoods, which typically bear a disproportionate environmental burden. Together, the projects will eliminate approximately 235 tons of air pollution, including toxic air pollutants that pose serious health concerns.

The Consent Decree, lodged today at the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, requires Cosmed to complete environmental audits at all eight of its current and former facilities and establish an environmental management system that will help ensure the company fully complies with environmental regulations into the future.

Ethylene oxide is a probable human carcinogen, and may cause serious reproductive harm, irritate the lungs, and damage the liver and kidneys. In addition, as a volatile organic compound, ethylene oxide also contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone.

Ozone can irritate people's respiratory systems, causing coughing and throat irritation. Exposure to ground level ozone can also aggravate asthma and damage lung cells, and may cause permanent lung damage. These effects can be more pronounced in children and people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

Federal ethylene oxide standards apply to large facilities that use the chemical in sterilization or fumigation processes. At one time, Cosmed operated about one-third of all sterilization facilities regulated by the ethylene oxide standards. Cosmed's operations involved sterilizing products for the food and medical industries. Early this year Cosmed sold five facilities representing its medical products sterilization operations.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. More information about the settlement is available at www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/.

For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) www.epa.gov http://yosemite.epa.gov/r6/press.nsf/name/Cosmed

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Free tire disposal is at an end: It costs more than $80,000 to finance the annual collection

Mid-Missouri residents will now be charged a fee to dispose of their used tires at annual tire collections.

Previously, residents were permitted to dump old tires at no charge. Starting this fall, people will have to pay $1 to throw out tires measuring less than 16 inches and $5 for truck tires and other tires larger than standard size.

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District, which Boone County is a part of, decided that it can no longer finance the more than $80,000 it costs to complete each collection cycle

District Coordinator Matt Harline said his office has limited funding to accomplish its responsibilities, which include issuing grants to cities and counties, paying overhead fees, increasing waste management education and carrying out tire collections.

“We were using so much of our money on these tire collections that we needed a new strategy,” he said. “The other thing is, people who have to get rid of their tires should have to pay for their removal.”

It takes about a year and a half for the Solid Waste Management District to administer a public scrap-tire collection in each of its eight counties: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage. At the Boone County collection held in October 2004, 81.75 tons of tires — the equivalent of 8,175 passenger tires — were collected at a cost of more than $11,000 to the district and no cost to local residents.

Since 1991, it has been illegal to discard tires in Missouri landfills for sanitation and safety reasons. Dan Fester, scrap-tire unit chief at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said various hazards can result from the improper disposal of waste tires.

In the first place, he said, “waste tires are a wonderful habitat for disease-carrying vectors, including the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.”

Second, there’s always a risk that tires will catch fire. “They’re a horrible source of pollution when they burn, causing health problems and contamination,” he said. “Third, there is the aesthetic problem, which directly or indirectly affects tourism.”

Starting in 1997, the district began having collection events to encourage tire disposal. Fester said Mid-Missouri is one of the few districts in the state that hold public collections.

Following each collection, the tires are hauled to Alternative Fuel Source, an energy company that grinds up the tires to be used for fuel. Forty collections and $400,000 later, the district decided to begin charging residents, partly because tire retailers were taking advantage of the system by charging customers the permitted $2 per tire and dumping the tires at collections for free.

The district’s new tire disposal cost will not apply to non-profit organizations. And all businesses will be prohibited from disposing of their waste tires at the collections. They will be responsible for disposing of their tires themselves.

People are permitted to have no more than 25 scrap tires on their property at any given time. Harline said that farmers tend to collect tires because they are useful to hold down tarps for silage, build fences and lessen stream bank erosion.

“You can only make so many rope swings,” he said.

The next district collection will be held Oct. 29, at the Boone County Fairgrounds. The district will come to individual properties to collect tires if an individual has more than 50 to dispose of.

The Columbian Missourian www.columbiamissourian.com

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09:24:22 pm, Categories: Air, Academic Study/Journal Article, Preservation/Open Space, Midwest, 141 words   English (US)

Gracing the Land of Elvis and Beale Street: Historic Designation and Property Values in Memphis

N. Edward Coulson* and Michael L. Lahr analyze appreciation rates across comparable designated and undesignated neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee. Using appreciation rates potentially nullifies the objection to using assessed values in such an analysis while also mitigating some of the bias inherent in the differences between otherwise similar designated and undesignated neighborhoods. Nonetheless, in accord with the previous studies, after controlling for numerous housing characteristics, the authors find that properties in neighborhoods designated historical by the Memphis Landmarks Commission had appreciation rates above those in other similar neighborhoods. They also find that new properties benefit as much, perhaps even more, than older properties from being in a historic district.

by N. Edward Coulson and Michael L. Lahr
Real Estate Economics via Blackwell Synergy www.blackwell-synergy.com
Volume 33 Issue 3 Page 487 - September 2005

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Conservation in Practice: Economics and Land-Use Change in Prioritizing Private Land Conservation

Incentive-based strategies such as conservation easements and short-term management agreements are popular tools for conserving biodiversity on private lands. Billions of dollars are spent by government and private conservation organizations to support land conservation. Although much of conservation biology focuses on reserve design, these methods are often ineffective at optimizing the protection of biological benefits for conservation programs. A review of the recent literature on protected-area planning by David Newburn, Sarah Reed, Peter Berck, and Adina Merenlender identifies some of the reasons why. The authors analyzed the site-selection process according to three important components: biological benefits, land costs, and likelihood of land-use change. They compared our benefit-loss-cost targeting approach with more conventional strategies that omit or inadequately address either land costs or likelihood of land-use change. Their proposed strategy aims to minimize the expected loss in biological benefit due to future land-use conversion while considering the full or partial costs of land acquisition. The implicit positive correlation between the likelihood of land-use conversion and cost of land protection means high-vulnerability sites with suitable land quality are typically more expensive than low-vulnerability sites with poor land quality. Therefore, land-use change and land costs need to be addressed jointly to improve spatial targeting strategies for land conservation. This approach can be extended effectively to land trusts and other institutions implementing conservation programs.

Economía y Cambio en el Uso de Suelo en la Priorización de la Conservación de Tierras Privadas

Resumen: Las estrategias basadas en incentivos, como los derechos de conservación y los acuerdos de manejo a corto plazo, son herramientas populares para conservar la biodiversidad en tierras privadas. Las organizaciones conservacionistas gubernamentales y privadas gastan billones de dólares para financiar la conservación. Aunque la mayor parte de la biología de la conservación se centra en el diseño de reservas, estos métodos a menudo no son efectivos para la óptima protección de los beneficios biológicos de los programas de conservación. Nuestra revisión de la literatura reciente sobre planificación de áreas protegidas identifica algunas de las razones de lo anterior. Analizamos los procesos de selección de sitios en función de tres componentes importantes: beneficios biológicos, costo de las tierras y la probabilidad de cambio en el uso de suelo. Comparamos nuestro enfoque en el beneficio-pérdida-costo con métodos más tradicionales que omiten, o abordan inadecuadamente, el costo de las tierras y/o la probabilidad de cambio en el uso de suelo. La estrategia que proponemos trata de minimizar la pérdida esperada del beneficio biológico debido a la conversión del uso de suelo en el futuro al tiempo que considera los costos parciales o totales de la adquisición de tierras. La correlación positiva implícita entre la probabilidad de conversión en el uso de suelo y el costo de la protección de tierras significa que los stios altamente vulnerables con tierras de buena calidad típicamente son mas caros que los sitios de baja vulnerabilidad con tierras de baja calidad. Por lo tanto, se requiere que el cambio en el uso del suelo y el costo de las tierras sean atendidos conjuntamente para mejorar las estrategias para la conservación de tierras. Este método se puede extender con efectividad a consorcios y otras instituciones que llevan a cabo programas de conservación.

by David Newburn, Sarah Reed, Peter Berck, and Adina Merenlender
Conservation Biology via Blackwell-Synergy www.blackwell-synergy.com
September 2005

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Peru to set satellites to spy on mine pollution

Peru is planning to introduce satellite surveillance of mining operations to keep tabs on environmental damange in the wake of a wave of protests against the country''s most lucrative industry, a senior Energy and Mines Ministry official said on Tuesday.

"The state is worried. In an effort to promote transparency and for mining to be accepted, there will be satellite surveillance of mines, funds to guarantee environmental protection will be created and an inventory of damage will be created," Mining Director General Cesar Rodriguez told Reuters in an interview.

Peru''s is the world''s third-ranked copper and zinc producer and sixth in gold, but according to official data, 18 of Peru''s 25 regions have registered a high degree of contamination -- a subject that has sparked a wave of protests.

"In 2006 we will begin tests of satellite surveillance with sensors. At the moment we go (to conduct tests) twice a year and the miners know when, and locals tell us they pretty things up for the visit and then go back to polluting again," Rodriguez said.

Mining companies say they comply with strict environmental standards and seek the approval of local communities for their projects.

The sensors will be installed in strategic mine areas and will record acidity, arsenic, mercury and the temperature of waste water that mines dispose of in rivers, Rodriguez said.

The $150,000 control station will be funded by the ministry and the sensors, costing $2,000 each for acidity control and $10,000 each for arsenic detection, will be paid for by companies.

In the latest protest against mining in Peru, one man was killed at the start of August in clashes with police over the Rio Blanco copper site owned by Britain''s Monterrico Metals Plc, expected to be Peru''s No. 2 copper mine.

Monterrico says the project will lift Peru''s output of the red metal by a quarter. But locals say it endangers water supplies for a wide swathe of farmland where more than a quarter of Peru''s coffee is grown.

Projects owned by Yanacocha, Latin America''s biggest gold mine controlled by Newmont Mining Corp and its partner Compania de Minas Buenaventura, as well as BHP Billiton''s Tintaya mine have also been attacked by protesters.

Rodriguez said a list of damages had highlighted the need for at least $200 million and perhaps even $500 million to be spent on environmental repair. "We are seeking $60 million from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank," he said.

By Eduardo Orozco
Editing by Christian Wiessner; RM: telf: +511 221 2130

Reuters via Invertia www.invertia.com

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Mitigation of the heat island effect in urban New Jersey

Implementation of urban heat island (UHI) mitigation strategies such as increased vegetative cover and higher-albedo surface materials can reduce the impacts of biophysical hazards in cities, including heat stress related to elevated temperatures, air pollution and associated public health effects. Such strategies also can lower the demand for air-conditioning-related energy production. Since local impacts of global climate change may be intensified in areas with UHIs, mitigation strategies could play an increasingly important role as individuals and communities adapt to climate change. We use CITYgreen, a GIS-based modeling application, to estimate the potential benefits of urban vegetation and reflective roofs as UHI mitigation strategies for case study sites in and around Newark and Camden, New Jersey.

The analysis showed that urban vegetation can reduce health hazards associated with the UHI effect by removing pollutants from the air. Less affluent, inner-city neighborhoods are the ones in which the hazard potential of the UHI effect is shown to be greatest. However, these neighborhoods have less available open space for tree planting and therefore a lower maximum potential benefit. As the climate warms, these neighborhoods may face greater consequences due to interactions between the UHI effect and global climate change. Results also show that urban vegetation is an effective and economically efficient way to reduce energy consumption and costs at the sites.

Keywords: Urban heat island; Mitigation; New Jersey

Further reading
G.M. Heisler, Energy saving with trees, Journal of Arboriculture 12 (1986) (5), pp. 113–125.P. Kinney, D. Shindell and E. Chae, Climate change and public health: Impact assessment for the NYC metropolitan region. In: C. Rosenzweig and W.D. Solecki, Editors, Climate Change and a Global City: An Assessment of the Metropolitan East Coast Region, Columbia Earth Institute, New York (2001).

By William D. Solecki a, Cynthia Rosenzweig b, Lily Parshall b, Greg Pope c, Maria Clark c, Jennifer Cox a and Mary Wiencke d

a Department of Geography, Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA
b Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia Earth Institute, USA
c Montclair State University, USA
d Barnard College, USA

Global Environmental Change via Elsevier ScienceDirect www.sciencedirect.com
Part B: Environmental Hazards
Volume 6, Issue 1 , 2005, Pages 39-49

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The impact of energy externalities on the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency measures applied to dwellings

European Union and UK energy policy recognise the potential contribution the domestic housing sector can make in reducing energy consumption. In the UK, improvements to existing dwellings are likely to play a critical role in realising such potential. The need to consider both the value and uncertainty of external environmental and social costs in developing effective policy is also made explicit.

This analysis investigates the impact of such values and uncertainties on the relative performance of a range of insulation measures applied retrospectively to an existing residential dwelling.

Results from a case study suggest that large variations in capital cost, energy saving potential and the value of externalities have a significant impact on the relative cost effectiveness of these measures. However, in general, current investment decision-making based on normal market energy prices and today's climate is likely to deliver solutions that remain effective under significant levels of uncertainty.

Keywords: Climate change; Energy efficiency; Residential dwellings; Energy externalities

By M.R. Gaterell, Department of Architecture, The Martin Centre, University of Cambridge, 6 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2ED, UK and
Scott Wilson & Kirkpatrick Ltd., 16 Priestgate, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE1 1JA, UK.

Energy and Buildings via Elsevier ScienceDirect www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 37, Issue 10 , October 2005, Pages 1017-1027

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: General, Air, Energy, Contaminated Properties, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 340 words   English (US)

Report: Novozymes Leads Specialty Chemicals Sector in Eco-Performance

Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Inc. has released a new report on the specialty chemicals industry. The report ranks 24 companies on key non-traditional issues, such as social and environmental management, and assesses a wide spectrum of key industry drivers.

The leaders in this sector are at the forefront of integrating sustainability risks and opportunities. The report highlights a variety of investment risks related to sustainability issues, most notably energy price volatility and conservation measures, product toxicity and liability, land contamination as well as regulations in Europe indicating possible phase outs and restrictions. Innovest research has also found a number of profit opportunities exist in the sector in the area of clean technology. The market for clean tech reached almost $2 billion in 2004, and Innovest tracks which companies are translating this into an opportunity such as sector leader, Novozymes, whose net profit rose by 9.2% in this year to $140 million.

On the subject of regulatory challenges to the industry, Marc Brammer, research director at Innovest and lead author of the report, states, "There is significant potential for a sea-change in the market for chemicals as knowledge about toxicity expands under the new EU REACH Directive and similar efforts elsewhere. There is little toxicity data available on many currently commercialized chemicals." He adds, "In addition, customers are increasingly seeking out alternatives to toxic products and raw ingredients. The ability to meet customer's needs for non-toxic/low toxicity products will be an increasingly important differentiator going forwards."

Co-author and senior analyst Heather Langsner sees product liability as a key industry driver, "News of tort law related to product liability can result in sudden stock drops and damage to corporate reputation. BOC, DuPont, and Dow are recent examples. Certain chemicals carry molecular signature that allows them to be traced back to certain manufacturing processes and thereby narrowed down to a few companies. This represents the potential for future liability as scientific information and public awareness about toxicity and human health improves."

GreenBiz.com via Earthvision www.earthvision.net

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China choked by pollution but signs emerge it is addressing the issue

China, the factory of the world, is being slowly choked by the pollution brought on by its unrelenting economic transformation and the government is starting to realise it needs to do something about it.

Environmentalists describe the situation as extremely serious, but they say a window of opportunity still exists to reverse a worsening trend.

"The government is not just sitting idle but it is also clear they are not doing enough to cope with the current crisis," said Greenpeace China spokesman Szeping Lo.

"There are reasons to be worried. It's all about whether the central government has the political will and executive power to implement its policies."

Parts of the Chinese apparatus acknowledge the problems that exist, although many provincial and local level governments continue to turn a blind eye to the environmental costs of development.

According to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), acid rain fell more often and on more cities last year, affecting 298 urban areas -- more than half of all the cities monitored.

Most of China's large waterways -- including its seven biggest rivers and 25 out of its 27 major lakes -- were polluted, some seriously, it said.

Urban pollution is another fast-growing problem, as statistics show only one third of the sewage and about 57 percent of the garbage generated in cities is being treated.

Coal is the worst culprit. It is used to fire 80 percent of China's power stations which fuel the economic drive, but such a heavy polluting resource is damaging the environment and harming its people.

The World Bank estimates 400,000 people in China die each year from air pollution-related illnesses, mainly lung and heart diseases. It says direct damage costs China an annual 8-12 percent of its 1.4 trillion dollars GDP.

The capital Beijing is one of the worst affected cities and is regularly engulfed in a thick gritty haze.

The conditions forced experts last week to warn the pea-soup smog could cause headaches and dizziness and even breathing difficulties and asthma attacks -- all this just three years before it hosts the Olympics.

But after years of blind economic development, China is gradually waking up to the environmental costs, and is trying to do something about it as pressure builds from its citizens.

"China's urbanization process is now at a crucial juncture," admits Yang Weimin, director of the Development and Planning Department under the National Development and Reform Commission (NPRC), the country's top policy regulator.

"If the process continues in an unsustainable manner, it would result in serious consequences," he was cited as saying recently by Xinhua news agency.

Authorities are currently focusing efforts on developing clean energy by using wind and solar sources to generate power.

China's need for clean, non-fossil fuel based energy is also expected to make it the largest constructor of nuclear power plants in the coming decades.

Greenpeace's Szeping applauded the steps but urged still more.

"Right now we are facing a very serious situation and the government needs to take this opportunity," he said.

"It needs to invest hugely into the reneweable energy sector. There is still far too much being invested in coal. The picture now is bad enough, we can't afford to wait another 10 years to realise this."

China's citizens are also growing more environmentally aware with an official survey last month of four million people in 31 provinces and regions showing water and air quality were key concerns.

An overwhelming 98 percent were in favour of levying special taxes to help boost environmental protection and nearly three-quarters said legislation must be tightened to make sure environment protection laws are obeyed.

The results will be used by the government in the drafting of its next national five-year plan on environmental policies.

Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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10:17:00 am, Categories: Air, Legal, Asia, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, 293 words   English (US)

Indonesia says eight out of 10 firms responsible for haze are Malaysian

Malaysian companies which own Indonesian plantations were mainly to blame for the choking haze which blanketed parts of Malaysia last week, an Indonesian official warned.

The clouds of smoke and dust from the hundreds of fires still blazing in Indonesia's Sumatra island forced a state of emergency to be declared in two Malaysian coastal towns, but the measure was lifted as rain and shifting winds brought a reprieve Saturday.

Forecasters have warned however that a shift in the winds could bring the pollution right back to peninsular Malaysia.

"We have identified that eight of the ten plantation firms who have conducted illegal land-clearing activities (using fire) are from Malaysia," forestry ministry spokesman Masyud told AFP.

The ministry was examining the backgrounds of the companies which will be submitted to police, he said, adding that their officials could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty of illegal land-clearing.

Indonesian forestry minister Malam Sambat Kaban is due to hold talks with Malaysian environment minister Adenan Satem on Tuesday in Jakarta, he said.

"One of the topics to be discussed tomorrow is Malaysia's participation in the cloud-seeding process, planned for August 22, to halt the blazes in Riau, North Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces," he said.

Malaysia on Monday deployed 125 firefighters, equipped with heavy-duty pumps and all-terrain vehicles, to battle the blazes. The same team fought fires in Indonesia during the 1997-98 haze which blighted parts of Southeast Asia.

That crisis cost the region an estimated 9.0 billion dollars in damages by disrupting air travel and other business activities.

Australia also announced Monday it would send a dozen bush firefighting experts to Indonesia after it requested assistance.

AFP via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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A Risk-Based Approach to Health Impact Assessment for Input-Output Analysis, Part 2: Case Study of Insulation

Goal, Scope and Background: In the first part of this paper, Yurika Nishioka1, Jonathan Levy2, Gregory A. Norris3, Deborah Bennett4 and John Spengler developed a methodology to incorporate exposure and risk concepts into life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). They argued that both risk assessment and LCIA are needed to consider the impacts of increasing insulation for single-family homes in the US from current practice to the levels recommended by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Codes. In this analysis, they apply theiur model to the insulation case study and evaluate the benefits and costs of increased insulation for new housing.

Results and Discussion: The central estimate of impacts from the complete insulation manufacturing supply chain is approximately 14 premature deaths, 400 asthma attacks, and 7000 restricted activity days nationwide for one year of increased fiberglass output. Of the health impacts associated with increased insulation manufacturing, 83% is attributable to the supply chain emissions from the mineral wool industry, which is mostly associated with the direct primary PM2.5 emissions from the industry (98%). Reduced energy consumption leads to 1.2 premature deaths, 33 asthma attacks, and 600 restricted activity days avoided per year, indicating a public health “payback period” on the order of 11 years. Over 90% of these benefits were associated with direct emissions from power plants and residential combustion sources. In total, the net present value of economic benefits over a 50-year period for a single-year cohort of new homes is $190 million with a 5% discount rate, with 49 fewer premature deaths in this period.

Conclusion, Recommendation and Outlook: The authors developed and applied a risk-based model to quantify the public health costs and benefits of increased insulation in new single-family homes in the US, demonstrating positive net economic and public health benefits within the lifetimes of the homes. More broadly, we demonstrated that it is feasible to incorporate exposure and risk concepts into I-O LCA, relying on regression-based intake fractions followed by more refined dispersion modeling. The refinement step is recommended especially if primary PM2.5 is an important source of exposure and if stack heights are relatively low. Where secondary PM2.5 is more important, use of regression-based intake fractions would be sufficient for a reasonable risk approximation. Uncertainties in our risk-based model should be carefully considered; nevertheless, our study can help decision-makers evaluate the costs and benefits of demand-side management policy options from a combined public health and life cycle perspective.

Keywords: air pollution - cost-benefit analysis - input-output analysis - intake fraction - public health - risk analysis - life cycle impact assessment - fiberglass insulation

by Yurika Nishioka1, Jonathan Levy2, Gregory A. Norris3, Deborah Bennett4 and John Spengler5
(1) Dr. Yurika Nishioka Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Landmark Center West-4 P.O. Box 15677 Boston, MA 02215 USA,
(2) Dr. Jonathan I. Levy Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Landmark Center West-4 P.O.Box 15677 Boston, MA 02215, USA,
(3) Gregory A. Norris, PhD Sylvatica/Harvard School of Public Health Univ. of New Hampshire 147 Bauneg Hill Road, Suite 200 North Berwick, ME 03906 USA,
(4) Dr. Deborah H. Bennett Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Landmark Center West-4 P.O.Box 15677 Boston, MA 02215 USA,
(5) Dr. John D. Spengler Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health Landmark Center West-4 P.O.Box 15677 Boston, MA 02215, USA,

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment via Springerlink
Publisher: Ecomed Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
ISSN: 0948-3349 (Paper) 1614-7502 (Online)
DOI: 10.1065/lca2004.10.186.2
Volume 10, Number 4; July 2005; pages: 255 - 262

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Volume 10 Number 4 of The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment is now available on the SpringerLink web site at http://springerlink.metapress.com.

This issue contains:

A Peer-Review Perspective: Experiences with Authors p. 231
David Hunkeler

Comment on ’The Critical Review Process According to ISO 14040-43: An Analysis of the Standards and Experiences Gained in their Application’ by Walter Klöpffer, Int J LCA 10 (2) 98-102 (2005) p. 232
Kerstin Lichtenvort

Comments on Workshop Report on the Economic and Environmental Impacts of Biobased Production by Amy E. Landis and Thomas L. Theis [Int J LCA 10 (3) 226-227 (2005)] p. 233
Alvin L. Young

L’Analyse du Cycle de Vie d’un produit ou d’un service. Applications et mise en pratique p. 234
Almut Heinrich

Site-dependent Life-Cycle Impact Assessment in Sweden (5 pp) p. 235
Göran Finnveden, Måns Nilsson

A Consistent Framework for Assessing the Impacts from Resource Use - A focus on resource functionality (8 pp) p. 240
Mary Stewart, Bo Pedersen Weidema

Representing Statistical Distributions for Uncertain Parameters in LCA. Relationships between mathematical forms, their representation in EcoSpold, and their representation in CMLCA (7 pp) p. 248
Reinout Heijungs, Rolf Frischknecht

A Risk-Based Approach to Health Impact Assessment for Input-Output Analysis, Part 2: Case Study of Insulation (8 pp) p. 255
Yurika Nishioka, Jonathan Levy, Gregory A. Norris, Deborah Bennett, John Spengler

Environmental Assessment of Two Waste Incineration Strategies for Central Norway (10 pp) p. 263
Håvard Bergsdal, Anders H. Strømman, Edgar G. Hertwich

Comparative LCAs for Curbside Recycling Versus Either Landfilling or Incineration with Energy Recovery (12 pp) p. 273
Jeffrey Morris

Life Cycle Assessment of Water Production Technologies - Part 1: Life Cycle Assessment of Different Commercial Desalination Technologies (MSF, MED, RO) (9 pp) p. 285
R. Gemma Raluy, Luis Serra, Javier Uche

Life Cycle Inventory Information of the United States Electricity System (11/17 pp) p. 294
Seungdo Kim, Bruce Dale

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment via Springerlink http://springerlink.metapress.com

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Comparative LCAs for Curbside Recycling Versus Either Landfilling or Incineration with Energy Recovery

This article describes two projects conducted recently by Sound Resource Management (SRMG) – one for the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (SLO IWMA) and the other for the Washington State Department of Ecology (WA Ecology). For both projects Dr. Jeffrey Morris used life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with collection and management of municipal solid waste. Both projects compared environmental burdens from curbside collection for recycling, processing, and market shipment of recyclable materials picked up from households and/or businesses against environmental burdens from curbside collection and disposal of mixed solid waste.


The SLO IWMA project compared curbside recycling for households and businesses against curbside collection of mixed refuse for deposition in a landfill where landfill gas is collected and used for energy generation. The WA Ecology project compared residential curbside recycling in three regions of Washington State against the collection and deposition of those same materials in landfills where landfill gas is collected and flared. In the fourth Washington region (the urban east encompassing Spokane) the WA Ecology project compared curbside recycling against collection and deposition in a wasteto- energy (WTE) combustion facility used to generate electricity for sale on the regional energy grid. During the time period covered by the SLO study, households and businesses used either one or two containers, depending on the collection company, to separate and set out materials for recycling in San Luis Obispo County. During the time of the WA study households used either two or three containers for the residential curbside recycling programs surveyed for that study. Typically participants in collection programs requiring separation of materials into more than one container used one of the containers to separate at least glass bottles and jars from other recyclable materials. For the WA Ecology project SRMG used life cycle inventory (LCI) techniques to estimate atmospheric emissions of ten pollutants, waterborne emissions of seventeen pollutants, and emissions of industrial solid waste, as well as total energy consumption, associated with curbside recycling and disposal methods for managing municipal solid waste.

Emissions estimates came from the Decision Support Tool (DST) developed for assessing the cost and environmental burdens of integrated solid waste management strategies by North Carolina State University (NCSU) in conjunction with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)1. RTI used the DST to estimate environmental emissions during the life cycle of products. RTI provided those estimates to SRMG for analysis in the WA Ecology project. For the SLO IWMA project SRMG also used LCI techniques and data from the Municipal Solid Waste Life- Cycle Database (Database), prepared by RTI with the support of US EPA during DST model development, to estimate environmental emissions from solid waste management practices. Once the authors developed the LCI data for each project, SRMG then prepared a life cycle environmental impacts assessment of the environmental burdens associated with these emissions using the Environmental Problems approach discussed in the methodology section of this article. Finally, for the WA study they also developed estimates of the economic costs of certain environmental impacts in order to assess whether recycling was cost effective from a societal point of view.


Recycling of newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, tin-plated steel cans, plastic bottles, and other conventionally recoverable materials found in household and business municipal solid wastes consumes less energy and imposes lower environmental burdens than disposal of solid waste materials via landfilling or incineration, even after accounting for energy that may be recovered from waste materials at either type disposal facility. This result holds for a variety of environmental impacts, including global warming, acidification, eutrophication, disability adjusted life year (DALY) losses from emission of criteria air pollutants, human toxicity and ecological toxicity. The basic reason for this conclusion is that energy conservation and pollution prevention engendered by using recycled rather than virgin materials as feedstocks for manufacturing new products tends to be an order of magnitude greater than the additional energy and environmental burdens imposed by curbside collection trucks, recycled material processing facilities, and transportation of processed recyclables to end-use markets. Furthermore, the energy grid offsets and associated reductions in environmental burdens yielded by generation of energy from landfill gas or from waste combustion are substantially smaller then the upstream energy and pollution offsets attained by manufacturing products with processed recyclables, even after accounting for energy usage and pollutant emissions during collection, processing and transportation to end-use markets for recycled materials. The analysis that leads to this conclusion included a direct comparison of the collection for recycling versus collection for disposal of the same quantity and composition of materials handled through existing curbside recycling programs in Washington State. This comparison provides a better approximation to marginal energy usage and environmental burdens of recycling versus disposal for recyclable materials in solid waste than does a comparison of the energy and environmental impacts of recycling versus management methods for handling typical mixed refuse, where that refuse includes organics and non-recyclables in addition to whatever recyclable materials may remain in the garbage.

Finally, the analysis also suggests that, under reasonable assumptions regarding the economic cost of impacts from pollutant emissions, the societal benefits of recycling outweigh its costs.

Keywords: combustion; emissions valuation; energy conservation; incineration; landfill; LCA; LCI; lifecycle; pollutant valuation; recycling; pollution prevention; resource conservation; waste-to-energy

by Dr. Jeffrey Morris, , Economist Sound Resource Management - Seattle 3436B 34th Avenue West Seattle, WA 98199-1608 USA
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Publisher: Ecomed Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
ISSN: 0948-3349 (Paper) 1614-7502 (Online)
DOI: 10.1065/lca2004.09.180.10
Volume 10, Number 4; July 2005; pages: 273 - 284


Experimental Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 Mpg

Politicians and automakers say a car that can both reduce greenhouse gases and free America from its reliance on foreign oil is years or even decades away. Ron Gremban says such a car is parked in his garage.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg.

They have support not only from environmentalists but also from conservative foreign policy hawks who insist Americans fuel terrorism through their gas guzzling.

And while the technology has existed for three decades, automakers are beginning to take notice, too.

So far, DaimlerChrysler AG is the only company that has committed to building its own plug-in hybrids, quietly pledging to make up to 40 vans for U.S. companies. But Toyota Motor Corp. officials who initially frowned on people altering their cars now say they may be able to learn from them.

"They're like the hot rodders of yesterday who did everything to soup up their cars. It was all about horsepower and bling-bling, lots of chrome and accessories," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman. "Maybe the hot rodders of tomorrow are the people who want to get in there and see what they can do about increasing fuel economy."

The extra batteries let Gremban drive for 20 miles with a 50-50 mix of gas and electricity. Even after the car runs out of power from the batteries and switches to the standard hybrid mode, it gets the typical Prius fuel efficiency of around 45 mpg. As long as Gremban doesn't drive too far in a day, he says, he gets 80 mpg.

"The value of plug-in hybrids is they can dramatically reduce gasoline usage for the first few miles every day," Gremban said. "The average for people's usage of a car is somewhere around 30 to 40 miles per day. During that kind of driving, the plug-in hybrid can make a dramatic difference."

Backers of plug-in hybrids acknowledge that the electricity to boost their cars generally comes from fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases, but they say that process still produces far less pollution than oil. They also note that electricity could be generated cleanly from solar power.

Gremban rigged his car to promote the nonprofit CalCars Initiative, a San Francisco Bay area-based volunteer effort that argues automakers could mass produce plug-in hybrids at a reasonable price.

But Toyota and other car companies say they are worried about the cost, convenience and safety of plug-in hybrids — and note that consumers haven't embraced all-electric cars because of the inconvenience of recharging them like giant cell phones.

Automakers have spent millions of dollars telling motorists that hybrids don't need to be plugged in, and don't want to confuse the message.

Nonetheless, plug-in hybrids are starting to get the backing of prominent hawks like former CIA director James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, President Reagan's undersecretary of defense. They have joined Set America Free, a group that wants the government to spend $12 billion over four years on plug-in hybrids, alternative fuels and other measures to reduce foreign oil dependence.

Gaffney, who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, said Americans would embrace plug-ins if they understood arguments from him and others who say gasoline contributes to oil-rich Middle Eastern governments that support terrorism.

"The more we are consuming oil that either comes from places that are bent on our destruction or helping those who are ... the more we are enabling those who are trying to kill us," Gaffney said.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said plug-in hybrids are ideal for companies with fleets of vehicles that can be recharged at a central location at night. He declined to name the companies buying the vehicles and said he did not know the vehicles' mileage or cost, or when they would be available.

Others are modifying hybrids, too.

Monrovia-based Energy CS has converted two Priuses to get up to 230 mpg by using powerful lithium ion batteries. It is forming a new company, EDrive Systems, that will convert hybrids to plug-ins for about $12,000 starting next year, company vice president Greg Hanssen said.

University of California, Davis engineering professor Andy Frank built a plug-in hybrid from the ground up in 1972 and has since built seven others, one of which gets up to 250 mpg. They were converted from non-hybrids, including a Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Suburban.

Frank has spent $150,000 to $250,000 in research costs on each car, but believes automakers could mass-produce them by adding just $6,000 to each vehicle's price tag.

Instead, Frank said, automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.

"They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff," Frank said. "They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially."

Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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A Roof Garden? It's Much More Than That

As temperatures soared over 90 degrees and New York City broke records for electricity use at the end of July, landscapers were installing a "green" roof at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens, where parts of the HBO series "The Sopranos" are filmed.

Above Tony Soprano's head will be New York City's largest green roof, a thin layer of plants covering 35,000 square feet in a design that aims to reduce air pollution, control heating and cooling costs, and absorb storm water runoff.

Proponents of the project, which has been two years in the making, are hoping to use data collected from it to convince commercial property owners and developers that not only are green roofs good for the environment, they can benefit the bottom line.

The highly visible location near the large Silvercup Studios' sign will be its own best advertisement. A matrix of 1,500 planters will have 20 different species of plants intended to show off their red, yellow and green colors, visible from the Queensboro Bridge when in full bloom.

Not to be confused with a roof garden, however, a green roof is less of an aesthetic amenity than it is a workhorse. The carefully selected plants and soil - engineered to weigh only a fifth as much as typical dirt - help clean the air and absorb rain that would otherwise become storm-water runoff. And when many of them are clustered together, green roofs can reduce the urban heat island effect (densely populated cities tend to be hotter than surrounding areas because of the heat-trapping properties of tall buildings, asphalt and concrete).

Less well established are the benefits of green roofs to property owners and developers. It is known that they can reduce a building's heating and cooling costs, and extend the life of the roof, but the question is, Do the long-term benefits justify the initial cost?

"We are looking to demonstrate to the government, the public and most of all private business that green technologies are an economic benefit," said Stuart Suna, co-owner of Silvercup Studios. "What exactly that benefit is will be determined by this green-roof demonstration project."

The Silvercup project originated with a study undertaken by Diana Balmori of Balmori Associates, a landscape design firm.

Ms. Balmori's interest in the submarket of green-roof design led to a comprehensive assessment of New York City's flat-roof buildings. What she discovered is that Long Island City has 667 acres of empty flat-roof surfaces suitable for vegetation, an area more than three-quarters the size of Central Park. Given the available flat roofs, the air pollution generated from the area's heavy industry and traffic, and a nearby power plant that produces 25 percent of the city's electricity, Long Island City turned out to be the perfect green-roof laboratory.

Ms. Balmori took her idea to build a demonstration green roof to the Long Island City Business Development Corporation, the neighborhood's business improvement district; Mr. Suna is a member of the group. They secured a grant from Clean Air Communities, an organization devoted to reducing air pollution and energy consumption in the city's low-income neighborhoods.

The $500,000 grant is paying for the green-roof design by Balmori Associates, and the installation by Greener by Design, a landscaping company based in New York that specializes in green roofs. Ms. Balmori estimates the outlay will be about $10 a square foot, not including the structural engineering costs paid for by Silvercup Studios, or the yearlong study to be undertaken by the Earth Pledge Foundation, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization based in New York.

Leslie Hoffman, executive director of Earth Pledge, said that once the green roof was established, her organization would measure energy savings as a result of reduced temperature fluctuations in and around the building. The study will also measure the amount of storm-water retention, which alleviates pressure on the city's overtaxed wastewater system.

A study conducted in Chicago, for instance, demonstrated that a green roof absorbed nearly half the water that was captured elsewhere in a conventional roof rain barrel during a downpour.

Richard Heller, president and chief executive of Greener by Design, said energy savings from green roofs would fluctuate depending on the building type, but the greatest savings would be achieved in low-rise flat-roof buildings. The same Chicago study, conducted in 2003, showed that green-roof temperatures were 19 percent to 31 percent cooler during peak daytime hours in July compared with a conventional roof.

Despite the existing data, Ms. Hoffman and many other green-roof proponents agree that appealing to the enlightened self-interest of property owners and developers is not enough. Getting local government involved is critical to reducing the cost of green-roof installation and achieving economies of scale through mass production. With current technology, green roofs typically cost $8 to $10 a square foot, whereas a regular roof costs about $4 to $6 a square foot.

"Isolated green roofs are expensive insulation," Ms. Hoffman said. "But when you have a whole community of green roofs, it changes the microclimate of the area and reduces demand for energy. Think about one sidewalk in front of a building. That doesn't make a transportation path. But if everyone has one in front of their property, you have a way to walk around the city. Only a citywide effort can achieve that."

To that end, proponents in New York have been lobbying City Hall to offer incentives to developers and property owners. While green-roof incentives are still in the "nice idea" phase at City Hall in New York, Chicago has been a proponent of green roofs since Mayor Richard M. Daley installed the country's first municipal green roof on top of City Hall in 2001. Chicago now has both requirements and incentives in place for private businesses to follow the city's lead.

As a result, Sadhu Johnston, Chicago's commissioner of the environment, said there were approximately two million square feet of green roofs already built or in various stages of construction in Chicago. Currently, New York City has approximately 60,000 square feet of green roofs built or under construction.

Two years ago, Chicago began offering a density bonus in the central business district in exchange for green-roof installation. The city uses a complex formula to calculate the bonus, but at least 50 percent of the roof must be covered with vegetation before the bonus starts to apply. More significantly, of the estimated 150 green-roof projects currently in development, only 12 are taking advantage of the city's incentives. The rest are being built because the city requires that new developments that benefit from city financing must install a green roof.

"It's a combination of incentives and requirements," Mr. Johnston said. McDonald's built a flagship restaurant in downtown Chicago and installed a highly visible, 3,150-square-foot, bi-level green roof. Target and Apple Computer have also installed green roofs on their stores in Chicago.

While studies in Chicago and other cities in Canada and Europe have demonstrated the environmental benefits of green roofs, green roof proponents know they need hard numbers to convince New York's developers of the economic benefits.

"We want to bridge the gap between theory and reality," said Glenn Goldstein, program director for Clean Air Communities. "Having definitive data that informs developers and other real estate people how a green roof could perform for them is critical."

The New York Times www.nytimes.com


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10:50:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Upstate, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Regulatory Analysis, Savings, 149 words   English (US)

Paper mill revises permit request

International Paper has submitted to the state a revised permit request for test-burning tires for fuel at its mill in Ticonderoga.

Company spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth said the changes from its February request are procedural.

She said state environmental officials are expected to review the new application followed by a draft permit.

But before the mill can run the two-week test burn of 72 tons per day of tire-derived fuel -- essentially shredded tires -- the proposal still faces at least 10 more weeks of public and environmental compliance scrutiny.

The company estimates that adding tire-derived fuel to the boiler system would save about $1.5 million per year at the mill in the eastern Adirondacks.

But environmental groups and political leaders downwind in Vermont said the potential harm to their air quality outweighs the cost benefit.

The Associated Press via Capital News 9 www.capitalnews9.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Government Report, U.S., Regulatory Analysis, Contamination Cost, Savings, 427 words   English (US)

28 states told to cut pollution: Bush administration and EPA want to slow downwind pollutants from power plants in Michigan and elsewhere.

The Bush administration told 28 states including Michigan on Monday it plans to order specific pollution cuts from their power plants if state officials don't have their own plan by fall of next year for making the air cleaner for people downwind.

A new program the Environmental Protection Agency announced in March requires states in the East, South and Midwest, plus the District of Columbia, to reduce power plant pollutants that form smog and soot and drift downwind.

The states have until September 2006 to submit plans for achieving the pollution reductions.

If they miss that deadline, the EPA said Monday it would write the plans for them.

North Carolina and two advocacy groups, Environmental Defense and the Southern Environmental Law Center, sued EPA, saying the state can't meet federal air quality standards if upwind states don't clean up their pollution.

Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, said the agency's enforcement proposal would go a long way toward cleaning up the nation's air while ensuring that North Carolina can meet federal standards on time.

But EPA's enforcement would only go so far. In North Carolina, for example, the agency says it will only step in to curb soot but not smog. The agency says its analyses show that upwind states don't contribute to smog in North Carolina.

"EPA just strengthened its hand to make sure states implement clean air rules on time and on target, but it failed to take the extra steps to fully address the pollution blowing into North Carolina," said Michael Shore, a senior air policy analyst for Environmental Defense.

Under the March regulations, by 2015, nitrogen oxide pollution in the 28 states will have to be reduced by 1.9 million tons annually, or 61 percent below 2003 levels.

Sulfur dioxide pollution must drop by 5.4 million tons, a 57 percent reduction.

EPA says electric utility customers can expect their monthly electric bills to eventually rise by up to $1 to pay the projected $4 billion annual costs to meet the new standards.

But it estimates the financial benefits of preventing breathing ailments by cutting nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide are at least 20 times greater. Both chemical compounds contribute to the formation of tiny airborne particles, while nitrogen oxides also lead to smog.

Other states affected by the new regulations are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

By John Heilprin
Associated Press

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08:01:47 am, Categories: Air, Water, Energy, U.S., Oil/Gasoline/Benzene, Particulates, Midwest, Sulfur, SO2, 1030 words   English (US)

Activists voice optimism for Sunoco refinery's $200M improvement plan: Activists say Sunoco Inc.'s plans for $200 million in improvements at its East Toledo-Oregon refinery are long overdue.

Cautiously optimistic.

One might think the upcoming $200 million modernization of the century-old Sunoco Inc. refinery along the East Toledo-Oregon border would generate more calm in Rachael Belz, even though she leads Ohio Citizen Action's campaign for fewer emissions from that plant.

After all, Sunoco is making plans to install $100 million in additional pollution controls at that refinery alone, as part of an agreement the company hammered out with the government in June to settle federal Clean Air Act violations dating to 1998 at its four refineries.

The company is putting another $100 million into retrofitting the Toledo refinery so that it can meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements for producing lower-sulfur gasoline next year.

The investment is separate from the new pollution controls, Olivia Summons, Sunoco spokesman, said.

But the strongest words Ms. Belz can bring herself to say are those two: Cautiously optimistic.

She reiterates them several times, to drive home the emphasis about her anxiety.

"What I'm cautiously optimistic about is that this settlement will lead us to be able to resolve all these issues," Ms. Belz said.

The refinery has been the target of ongoing complaints about noxious odors and fumes that the environmental group has logged.

"We're looking to wrap up issues the settlement does not address, namely how neighbors will get information before the changes occur," she said.

That could take nearly five years.

The government has given Sunoco until Dec. 31, 2009, which has inflamed activists.

In a joint, five-page letter submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice on July 22, Ohio Citizen Action, the Eastside-Oregon Environmental Group, the National Refinery Reform Campaign in San Francisco, and the Environmental Integrity Project in Washington said the public deserves a more aggressive timetable.

"The U.S. EPA started their refinery initiative in 1998," the groups said in response to the proposed settlement, one of the largest ever negotiated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA.

"Sunoco chose to ignore the initiative and seven years have passed. In that time, Sunoco's Oregon refinery has continued to batter the local community with toxic pollution while financially benefiting from delaying its compliance with Clean Air Act requirements," the statement said. "As a result, Sunoco should be held to stricter requirements and be forced to move up the time frame they have been given to implement these changes."

The Justice Department and the U.S. EPA are reviewing those and other comments, submitted in response to a deal announced June 16 in which the government agencies said they had negotiated some $700 million in pollution controls at 14 refineries in six states.

Sunoco and two San Antonio companies, Valero and Tesoro, were named in that agreement.

The agencies said the pollution-control equipment for Sunoco's four refineries will cost the company $285 million, although the company said it expects to do the work for $10 million less.

Sunoco's other three refineries are in Tulsa, Okla., Marcus Hook, Pa., and near Philadelphia.

More than a third of the companywide investment in new pollution controls - $100 million - will be spent on improving the Toledo-area refinery, Ms. Summons said.

Under the agreement, Sunoco promised substantial changes to its four refineries in order to reduce its companywide emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by 78 percent.

Ms. Summons said the pollution controls at the Toledo refinery will include a scrubber system, a sulfur recovery unit, and a catalytic cracker designed to curb sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Sulfur dioxide, a common refinery by-product, can cause a number of breathing problems, including a burning sensation in the nose and throat.

Overexposure to it can be life-threatening, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scientists have identified sulfur dioxide as one of the principal causes of acid rain - a form of chemical precipitation that damages forests, streams, and lakes.

Nitrogen oxide is a major component of smog.

East Toledo and Oregon residents have attributed anything from nausea and headaches to various cancers on dust, soot, and other emissions from Sunoco's refinery, which sits in the hub of a residential area that includes 57,000 people within a three-mile radius.

To date, the complaints have been largely anecdotal.

A class-action lawsuit that a Detroit law firm, Macuga & Liddle, filed against the refinery in 2004 has not been heard.

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a CDC sister agency, last year said that a limited study it performed during the late fall and early winter of 2003 and 2004 did not find plant emissions that directly imperiled the public health at that time of year.

Officials involved with that study acknowledged that effects of refinery pollution can be more acute during the summer.

They also cited concerns about sulfur-dioxide levels from the plant, explaining that anyone with asthma who lives within a half-mile of the plant could be subject to more coughing, shortness of breath, and other signs of respiratory distress.

With the additional $100 million for the low-sulfur gasoline equipment, Sunoco is making an investment that signals a long-term commitment to the area, Ms. Summons said.

"It allows us to expand, and it's good for jobs," she said.

The refinery, which employs about 450 workers, has a long history of air-pollution violations.

In 2004, Sunoco agreed to pay a $475,000 fine to settle Ohio EPA violations for sulfur dioxide emissions that occurred over an eight-year period. The Ohio attorney general's office claimed that Sunoco exceeded sulfur dioxide limits on more than 200 days since 1996.

That lawsuit was filed after the state alleged Sunoco had violated a 1995 order to curb emissions. In 1995, Sunoco agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and achieve air pollution reductions the state EPA had sought since 1988.

Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokesman, said there have been no violations since last year's settlement.

"They've paid the fine. Right now, they're in good standing with us," Ms. Pierce said.

Despite her anxiety, Ms. Belz recognized the latest development as a step forward.

"It's a good sign they're making this investment," Ms. Belz said. "The message Sunoco's sending is that the plant's important to them. This investment is exactly what the plant and the community need."

Tom Henry, , 419-724-6079.

The Toledo Blade www.toledoblade.com

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08:00:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Companies, Hazardous Waste, Waste & Recycling, California, Savings, 585 words   English (US)

Press Release: Micrel Achieves Major Environmental, Energy and Cost Reduction Goals: Company's 'Green' Initiative Results in Significant Energy, Cost Savings and $300K Rebate

Micrel, Inc. (Nasdaq: MCRL - News), an industry leader in IC analog, high bandwidth and Ethernet solutions, today announced that it has achieved several major environmental, energy and cost reduction milestones. By successfully installing and deploying a new Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) abatement system, the Company was able to cut annual fab energy costs by a significant 25 percent. The milestones are the result of the Company's ISO14001:1996 certification and 'Green' initiatives which strive for on-going reductions in emissions in addition to on-going energy savings which may reach 30 percent on an annual basis. Additionally, by working closely with PG&E representatives and various local agencies, including the City of San Jose, Micrel was able to qualify for, and receive, a rebate of $300,000.00.

"All fabs have a variety of process material waste and by-products that must be disposed of in the most environmentally responsible manner possible. However, this can end up costing a semiconductor company a great deal of money in terms of energy costs," noted Guy Gandenberger, vice president of wafer fab and foundry operations, Micrel. "By working closely with PG&E, the City of San Jose and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District during the qualification, installation, test and permit processes, we were able to qualify for a substantial rebate from PG&E, cut our long term energy costs by at least 25 percent and continue to dispose of waste using the most environmentally sound techniques available."

"We are pleased to see corporations like Micrel attain these environmentally sound goals," noted Alan Richter, manager, account services, PG&E. "This accomplishment paves the way for other Corporations, showing them how PG&E's programs support the on-going pursuit of environmentally sound business practices. In addition, Micrel's 'green' leadership shows companies how these efforts can result in significant, long-term cost savings as well as substantial financial reimbursements through our various rebate programs."

Micrel's San Jose California-based wafer fabrication facility has been certified to ISO14001:1996, the International Environmental Management System Standard. The goal of the environmental management system is to ensure regulatory compliance and to reduce environmental impact through waste reduction and recycling. Micrel continues to focus on continuously improving its quality, safety and environmental practices. As a result, the Company continues to significantly reduce water and energy consumption, saving significant operating funds as well as preserving the environment. To ensure compliance with the European directive on the restriction of use of hazardous substances (ROHS) and other similar regulations, Micrel is committed to providing customers lead-free products. As a result, the vast majority of Micrel products may be ordered in lead-free versions. More information about Micrel's Environmental Management System and lead-free products can be found on the Micrel website at: www.micrel.com.

About Micrel, Inc.

Micrel Inc., is a leading global manufacturer of IC solutions for the worldwide analog, Ethernet and high bandwidth markets. The Company's products include advanced mixed-signal, analog and power semiconductors; high performance communication, clock management, Ethernet switch and physical layer transceiver ICs. Company customers include leading manufacturers of enterprise, consumer, industrial, mobile, telecommunications, automotive, and computer products. Corporation headquarters and state-of-the-art wafer fabrication facilities located in San Jose, CA with regional sales and support offices and advanced technology design centers situated throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. In addition, the Company maintains an extensive network of distributors and reps worldwide. Web: http://www.micrel.com .

Source: Press Release from Micrel Inc. via PRNewswire-FirstCall/ via
Yahoo Business News http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews

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Zoning, TDRs, and the Density of Development

Many communities on the urban fringe are implementing a range of policies to preserve farmland and open space, cluster residential development, and guide development to areas with existing infrastructure. These efforts are an attempt to control overall growth and the concomitant loss in open space and also to counter a trend toward the so-called large lot development that often takes place in these areas. Planners have argued that policies to manage density are the most important local policy focus for urban areas in the coming years. It is possible that large lot development and sprawl are themselves the result of government policy. Most local governments use zoning to establish minimum acreage requirements for each residential dwelling unit; in ex-urban localities, these limits are often quite high. Developers might build a subdivision with average lot sizes greater than the minimum but they cannot by law go below it. Some researchers have argued, however, that the spatial patterns of development are simply the natural result of household preferences and market forces. In this paper, we address the question of whether zoning limits are the primary cause of lowdensity, sprawling development or whether market forces tend to dictate this outcome. If zoning limits account for low-density development in at least some cases, how would development patterns be different if there had been no such rules? We begin by constructing a simple model of the developer decision about the density of new development. The subdivision is the unit of observation, and developers must weigh both demand and cost considerations in choosing density, in addition to complying with zoning restrictions that vary across parcels. We apply the model using parcel-level data from a region where zoning rules vary but are exogenous to the period under study. Calvert County, Maryland, near Washington, DC, is an historically rural county that has experienced rapid growth in recent years. The county has a transferable development rights (TDRs) program that has led to a great deal of variability in the intensity of development across properties. We are able to not only examine the extent to which zoning has contributed to large lot development but also to determine the economic forces that underlie density decisions. Finally, we are able to forecast how density would have been different in the absence of zoning rules by estimating a Tobit equation that is censored for the observations constrained by zoning.

JEL Classification: R14, R15, R52
Keywords: housing density, zoning, transferable development rights

by Virginia D. McConnell, Margaret A. Walls, and Elizabeth A. Kopits
Resources For the Future www.rff.org
July 2005 Discussion Paper 05-32

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

IT'S RESPONSIBLE TO reduce, reuse and recycle, and many Hoosier companies are finding innovative solutions for a sustainable future. Often it's as easy as changing a process, reducing waste, donating or selling excess materials or discovering novel reuses for them.

Businesses and organizations that reduce their environmental impact are honored annually by the Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence. Each has successfully addressed some of the state's most critical environmental issues: emission reduction, revegetation, waste reduction, recycling, reuse and pollution prevention.

The successes below are among the most recent winners. For a complete list of honorees, visit the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Web site at www.in.gov/idem/topics.

Tons of recycling in Madison. Madison Precision Products went from recycling nothing three years ago to recycling 183 tons in 2004. The company's recycling program began in 2001 as a result of a management review. Prior to this, MPP was sending refuse to the landfill at a rate of 17 tons per month. In a short two years' time, Madison Precision Products was recycling nearly half of total garbage output in 2003. ''It's easy to see why we have quickly become the 'model' in the community regarding recycling," says Dennis Welch, manager of the recycling and environmental program at Madison.

"Our executive team realizes that recycling is not something that will benefit us immediately," explains Welch, "but rather, is something that we do for our children and our grandchildren."

In addition to reducing waste, MPP has reduced paper use by almost 14 percent since 2001, and also donates all ink and toner cartridges to Southwestern Elementary School.

Recycling pays off. For MPP, recycling saved more than $11,000 last year. Half of the savings are donated to charity and the other half goes back to MPP employees, according to Welch. "We use this as an incentive to increase awareness of and cooperation for our recycling program.

Waste reduced 80 percent in Crawfordsville. Nucor Steel operates two continuous pickle lines, in which steel coils are unwound and passed through three hydrochloric-acid baths. This process removes oxide scales from the strip, and at the end of the line the strip is rinsed to remove residual acid and then recoiled. Previous practice involved neutralizing the contaminated rinse with lime and filtering the solids formed in the process. Both the liquid and solid hazardous wastes were then sent off site for disposal.

A new acid rinse water evaporator was introduced at the plant to eliminate much of the waste and reclaim water for reuse on site. The lime-neutralized solution held in storage tanks is now fed to an evaporator to concentrate the contaminants and recover water of a quality that can be used as process water.

"These measures were taken primarily to reduce the cost involved in waste treatment and disposal," according to Mark Washer, environmental engineer at Nucor. "The recovered water amounts to roughly 10 million gallons per year, conserving a natural resource. The amount of waste generated for disposal was reduced by more than 80 percent, which has resulted in savings in disposal of approximately $2 million per year."

Eliminating ammonia in Michigan City. Criterion Catalysts & Technologies in Michigan City eliminated, the use of 23,000 pounds of aqueous ammonia from the manufacturing process for alumina powder in 2003. "Prior to this project, 19 percent aqueous ammonia had been used to adjust pH during our filtration process in order to improve contaminant removal," says Michael Burke, plant manager of Criterion Catalysts & Technologies. "The project team was able to develop and implement changes to the manufacturing process that enabled achieving contaminant removal without the requirement to adjust process pH with ammonia."

Eliminating the need for ammonia during the powder manufacturing process eliminates the need for on-site storage of the harmful chemical. "Risk of employee and community exposure due to an ammonia spill is thereby reduced. Besides these environmental and health advantages, powder manufacturing cost savings were also realized," Burke points out.

Less sludge produced in Fort Wayne. At Fort Wayne Anodizing, the acid baths used to create aluminum-oxide coating generate a sludge byproduct that collects in the bottom. When the sludge level renders the baths ineffective, they are drained, leaving the sludge and acid solutions as hazardous waste to be neutralized and shipped off to the city's wastewater-treatment facility.

A reformulation of chemicals created changes in the various acids, producing less sludge during the process. The change extends the life of the acid baths and allows Fort Wayne Anodizing to use the acids more than seven times longer than the old formula.

Before the process started, Fort Wayne Anodizing was a largequantity generator in regard to waste production. Since the project has been implemented, the company was reclassified as a small-quantity generator.

With a 75 percent reduction in costs for hazardous waste removal, the new process also reduces employee exposure to the hazards of handling the acids, and reduces the potential for overexposure and accidental spillage.

Reducing emissions in Greencastle. Buzzi Unicem USA (formerly Lone Star Industries Inc.) manufactures cement by mining limestone and processing the raw materials in a kiln. The Greencastle plant converted its wet process to a semi-dry kiln system, the first of its kind in the United States. This conversion allows the raw materials to be heated prior to entering the kiln, thus reducing energy and increasing production.

"The inherent engineering design has resulted in emissions reductions without the addition of costly emission controls," says Craig Chrispell, alternate fuels manager of Buzzi Unicem USA.

"Production from the kiln was increased from 720,000 tons to 1.34 million tons per year, and in the process, achieved significant reductions in emissions," Chrispell says. In fact, during the past four years SO 2 emissions were reduced by an average of 89 percent and NOx by 38 percent among other emission reductions.

Less lead in Evansville. Uniseal Inc. custom designs and manufactures sealants, adhesives, closed cell sponge rubber (nitrile vinyl), thermoplastics, structural reinforcements and telecommunications closures. During the summer of 2003, Uniseal chose to reformulate its nitrile vinyl rubber and a couple structural adhesive products in an effort to meet new automotive requirements. The nitrile vinyl rubber previously contained approximately 0.075 percent lead compound. "The primary goal was to eliminate hazardous lead compounds from these materials," says Angela Casbon-Scheller, environmental and safety director at Uniseal. "The elimination of lead is a benefit, not only to the customer and the Uniseal employees who handled the material," explains CasbonScheller, "but it also eliminates transportation and handling of the hazard, which diminishes the risk of an accidental release to the environment. This innovative project successfully reformulated processes without substituting another hazardous material and without sacrificing productivity or product quality."

Continuing improvement in Kokomo. Delphi Electronics & Safety, a division of Delphi Corp., is a major supplier of automotive electronics and home to more than 3,000 employees at its Kokomo site. In November 1998, the company implemented an environmental management system (EMS).

These programs resulted in various environmental benefits, including reduced volatile organic compound and hazardous air pollutant emissions; reduced solid and hazardous waste generation and disposal; improved spill prevention controls; and reduced water, natural gas and electricity consumption.

Delphi takes its efforts outside company walls. For the past five years, Delphi has also supported the Wildcat Creek Guardians, a local Creek conservation club, in annual cleanup activities. And for the past six years, the company has collaborated with the Howard County Solid Waste Management District to offer semiannual household hazardous waste collection days for employees. Since the program's inception, more than 100 tons of household hazardous waste has been collected for proper disposal.

A white roof in Columbus. As part of NTN Driveshaft's environmental management system, an energy conservation committee was developed and put into action. Significant projects included air leak surveys, waste reduction, hazardous materials reduction and energy conservation.

HVAC controls were automated to achieve optimal results and the most efficient operation, with an average $63,000 annual cost savings. Additionally, NTN's black roof was replaced with a white one, resulting in significant energy savings. With the former roof, the surface temperature averaged 168.5 degrees in the summer, while the white roof resulted in an average of only 109 degrees. This project created an annual electrical savings of 15 percent, or approximately $540,000.

Hazardous materials usage was also reduced at NTN. "Sulfuric acid use was reduced by 10 percent, and we started recycling acid waste for pH adjustment," says Bill Miller, environmental manager. "This project reduced our hazardous waste of sulfuric acid by 100 percent."

Germinating seeds in Lafayette. Eli Lilly & Co.'s Tippecanoe Laboratories Wildlife Habitat Team helped Mintonye Elementary School in a two-year seed germination and growing project. "As a research- driven company, Lilly is committed to continuous learning," says Vince Kochert of Lilly Tippecanoe Labs. "The planting project was a way for us to put that commitment into action."

Thirteen teachers participated in the project involving 275 students. "Not only did the students learn about seed germination and plant growth,'' explains Kochert, "they learned the harmful impact small amounts of contaminates can have on the environment."

The curricula challenged students to understand the factors that impact the entire plant-germination cycle. The students learned control techniques for germination, root development, transplanting, measuring stem and leaf growth, and water and light requirements.

Earth Month in Princeton. Evolving a single-day commemoration into a month-long, community-wide celebration, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana is leading the way in Princeton. TMMI sponsored Earth Aware Camp at YMCA Camp Carson in Gibson County, where all third-grade students were invited to attend and learn about recycling, life beneath the surface of the Ohio River and other topics related to the environment.

"The premise of the program is to raise environmental awareness among Gibson County students, some of whom will be future customers and team members," says R.J. Reynolds, vice president of administration and manufacturing planning at TMMI.

Toyota also sponsors team member volunteer activity and events, as well as a philanthropic Butterfly Retreat. "We see Earth Aware Camp and programs like it as investments in the future, and that fits naturally with Toyota's philosophy of thinking long term."

Indiana Business Magazine www.indianabusiness.com

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Putting brakes on jalopies?

Jakarta is again pondering restricting the number of older cars in the city. It is also mulling the banning of motorcycles from main thoroughfares. Traffic congestion and the environment top the list of concerns in both cases.

While the city's efforts to free Jakarta from its daily traffic jams should be commended, the two measures under consideration smack of a piecemeal solution. One is reminded of the three-in-one policy, whose success in reducing traffic congestion is debatable, to say the least.

The idea of restricting older cars in Jakarta is not new. It was first mooted in the 1970s and has been on and off the agenda of successive governors since then. It was almost made law two years ago when it managed to slip into a transportation bylaw for the first time. The bylaw was dropped at the eleventh hour on the grounds that the city would lose vehicle tax revenues amounting to Rp 2.2 trillion (US$225 million), about 20 percent of Jakarta's annual budget back then.

Now the topic is back on the agenda again and the argument this time around is that Jakarta has too many vehicles. The city now has two million cars and 4.5 million motorcycles plying its 7,500-kilometer-long road network. With the number of cars growing by seven percent a year and motorbikes by 15 percent a year, or 35,000 new units a month, Jakarta's roads simply cannot cope as their length only increases by one percent a year. This armada of 6.5 million motorized vehicles is simply too much for Jakarta's road network to support. So, the reason behind the proposed policy seems credible, but the policy itself, if implemented, will be highly controversial.

First, there is the problem of defining what an older car is. Second, restricting the number of older cars in the city would be a discriminatory policy that favors the rich.

What distinguishes one car with another in terms of pollution is not its age, but rather its roadworthiness. This includes its emissions level. Hence, vintage cars, which are usually maintained in top condition by their owners, do not pollute the environment. There are less discriminatory policies the city could ponder on. In the United Kingdom and many other places, car owners have to obtain roadworthiness certificates as soon as their cars are three years old. The cost of obtaining such a certificate becomes more expensive as the car gets older as maintenance costs increase. Sooner or later, it will become cheaper for the motorist to buy a new car than to maintain the older car.

Jakarta's policies often give rise to frustration. The three-in-one-policy has made it more difficult for motorists to travel through the city. Yet, it has done little to ease traffic congestion.

The proposed prohibition on motorcycles is equally discriminatory. If we talk about numbers and space, it would be more logical to restrict cars on Jakarta's narrower streets, which are, in fact, more suited to motorcycles. Hence, it is clear that the Jakarta administration has an topsy-turvy way of looking at things.

If the controversial policy is implemented, what about those people who rely on the speed of their motorcycles to get their work done, like couriers, postmen, motorcycle taxi drivers, etc? Or those who have switched to motorcycles instead of taking their cars because of the congested roads? Should they start driving their cars again, thus further clogging our already congested roads?

Some have said that motorcyclists lack discipline. But this is a different issue. Road behavior involves law enforcement, as good policing would increase discipline among bikers. At the present time, only a few undisciplined motorists get ticketed when the police are around, while everyone else continues to get off scot-free. The question is, how come the same drivers behave differently when they are in countries with a more disciplined system, like Singapore or Malaysia?

The number of motorcycles has shot up partly because Jakarta lacks an efficient and comfortable public transportation system. Those who need to avoid traffic congestion have no option other than jump on a motorcycle. Even ministers do so occasionally.

The root of the problem in Jakarta is the lack of a mass rapid transportation system. Such a system is a must for any city with more than ten million people. It is a crying shame that proper planning has not been carried out for this before now. But until such time as those in power take action, Jakartans will, as usual, have to pay the price for a consistent lack of proper planning down the years in the nation's capital.

This means that Jakartans will continue to have to watch as Rp 41 billion per day goes up in smoke as a result of wasted time, ineffective fuel use and health problems, according to a December 2004 study.

The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.com

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Monetization of health damages from road noise with implications for monetizing health impacts in life cycle assessment

There are decision situations where environmental impacts need to be compared with other costs or benefits that by their nature are expressed in terms of money. Supporting these decisions may require the expression of environmental impacts in monetary units. Using the example of health impacts from road noise we apply five different monetization approaches and quantify the monetary values of one year of sleep disturbance (CHF 2500–16 000) and interference with communication (1500–10 000). In Life Cycle Assessment many health endpoints need to be evaluated at the same time. Therefore, we illustrate here the transferability problem between health impacts measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and monetized health impacts, using the example of health impacts due to 1000 truck kilometres. It is concluded that available monetization methods need careful adaptation for their use to monetize environmental health impacts, that the DALY accounting system may support the systematic monetization and the selection of relevant health endpoints, and that it may well be justified for LCA purposes to perform some novel primary willingness to pay studies.

Keywords: Noise impacts; Life cycle impact assessment; External costs; Disability adjusted life years; Willingness to pay

by Patrick Hofstetter (Büro für Analyse & Ökologie (BAO), Zelghalde 15, 8046 Zürich, Switzerland Tel.: +41 43 288 53 63) and Ruedi Müller-Wenk (Institut für Wirtschaft und Ökologie (IWÖ), University of St. Gall, Tigerbergstrasse 2, 9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland)

Journal of Cleaner Production via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 13, Issues 13-14, November-December 2005, Pages 1235-1245

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News briefs from California's Central Coast: ConocoPhillips agreed to pay $900,000 in fines for air pollution spewed from its Nipomo Mesa refinery

ConocoPhillips agreed to pay $900,000 in fines for air pollution spewed from its Nipomo Mesa refinery.

County air pollution control investigators said the refinery emitted more than 33 tons of excess particulate matter from the plant's petroleum coke refinement facility during a four-month period ending in August 2004.

Most of the settlement will pay for pollution control programs to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The pollution was traced to a facility that processes petroleum coke, a refining byproduct that is similar to coal, the plant's environmental manager Jim Anderson said.

County investigators said the refining process remained within its pollution limits, but a large fan in the facility was corroding and rust particles caused the violation.

Anderson said he is confident the problem is fixed.

The Associated Press via www.signonsandiego.com

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Car fumes driving us to early grave

Pollution from cars may be prematurely killing as many as 2000 Australians each year and causing another 2000 asthma attacks.

The residents most at risk from car fumes live in the Sydney suburbs of Lane Cove, Leichhardt, Concorde, Bankstown, Fairfield, Marrickville, Campbelltown and Blacktown, a new study reveals.

It says about 4500 people are thought to be treated in hospital each year as a result of car-related pollution, while the Federal Government estimates the health impact costs at least $2.7 billion a year.

The study - the first of its kind by the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics - found that in 2000 air pollution from cars caused between 900 and 2000 early deaths, and was responsible for as many as 4500 cases of cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases and bronchitis.

"Similarly, motor vehicle-related air pollution is estimated to have contributed to between 700 and 2050 asthma attacks in Australia," it says.

Children may be more vulnerable than adults because they inhale more air for their body weight. As well, they may spend more time outdoors and their growing organs may be more susceptible to damage. Several studies have demonstrated a higher prevalence of chronic cough among children living close to main roads.

The study says sulfur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide levels have been dramatically reduced in Australia and other developed countries in recent years but air particles remain a serious health threat. Particles can cause breathing problems, exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma and, depending on the nature of the particles, can be carcinogenic, the study says.

"Emission control technology and changes in fuel standards have reduced motor vehicle air

pollution emissions," it says. "But emissions of fine particles and volatile organic compounds [released from burning fuel] from road vehicles remain the main concern for transport-related health risks."

The study warns that even though Australian cities have low pollution levels, particularly in comparison with Los Angles or Athens, there is still a potential health risk.

"Recent research has implicated ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter - all pollutants formed from vehicle exhausts - as contributing factors to asthma-related hospital admissions and mortality," the study says.

The bureau's study, which analyses the results of previous international studies on pollution, says that while scientists have long known that pollution worsens the suffering of asthmatics, more recent science suggests it may actually cause asthma.

Andrew Tonkin, the National Heart Foundation's chief medical officer, said: "It's fair to say health professionals tend to ignore this area but the public is very concerned. This [report] really substantiates the drive for cleaner vehicles and improved city planning and I applaud the transport department for looking at this."

Sydney researchers revealed this week that they had detected a link between higher pollution levels and reduced birthweight in babies in the metropolitan area, suggesting the noxious effects of traffic fumes may cross the placenta to the developing foetus.

Guy Marks, the head of epidemiology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, said it was difficult to quantify to what degree pollution contributed to overall rates of asthma and other lung conditions.

Laboratory experiments in which people were subjected to pollutants could sometimes establish levels at which they caused obvious changes to body functions. However, it was harder to know how people might respond to long-term, lower levels of exposure, and to separate any effects from others such as diet.

By Alexandra Smith and Julie Robotham

Sidney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au

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Energy Bill Raises Fears About Pollution, Fraud: Critics Point to Perks for Industry

Last month's Supreme Court decision expanding the power of local governments to seize private homes sparked a bipartisan backlash in Congress. The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring "grave disapproval," and some of Capitol Hill's staunchest liberals and conservatives agreed to push for stricter limits on eminent-domain powers.

But that rarely seen consensus on property rights quickly melted away in the fine print of the energy bill that Congress passed yesterday. The bill gave the federal government new eminent-domain powers to clear paths for power lines -- a long-standing demand of the nation's electric utilities. The utilities said they were being thwarted by not-in-my-back-yard opposition, so the politicians came to their rescue.

The provision was just one example of how the energy bill, touted as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil or moderate gasoline prices, has been turned into a piñata of perks for energy industries.

"Every industry gets their own little program," said Myron Ebell of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute. "There's pork in there for everybody."

The bill exempts oil and gas industries from some clean-water laws, streamlines permits for oil wells and power lines on public lands, and helps the hydropower industry appeal environmental restrictions. One obscure provision would repeal a Depression-era law that has prevented consolidation of public utilities, potentially transforming the nation's electricity markets.

It also includes an estimated $85 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks for most forms of energy -- including oil and gas, "clean coal," ethanol, electricity, and solar and wind power. The nuclear industry got subsidies for research, waste reprocessing, construction, operation and even decommission. The petroleum industry got new incentives to drill in the Gulf of Mexico -- as if $60-a-barrel oil wasn't enough of an incentive. The already-subsidized ethanol industry got a federal mandate that will nearly double its output by 2012 -- as well as new subsidies to develop ethanol from other sources.

The final bill dropped most of the controversial amendments that blocked passage of earlier versions, including authorizing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, relieving the petroleum industry of liability for the gasoline additive known as MBTE and exempting some communities from clean-air standards. Eco-friendly measures to tighten fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles and take a stand against global warming were deleted as well. What's left, said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), is "a smorgasbord."

For example, it exempts oil and gas companies from Safe Drinking Water Act requirements when they inject fluids -- including some carcinogens -- into the earth at high pressure, a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Betty Anthony, director for exploration and production at the American Petroleum Institute, said states already regulate the process, but residents of Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia and other states have complained that it has polluted groundwater in their communities.

Meanwhile, the measure will streamline Bureau of Land Management drilling permits -- even though the Bush administration already has granted a record number of permits on BLM land. Lawmakers also authorized seismic blasting in sensitive marine areas to gauge offshore oil reserves -- despite a moratorium on drilling in many of those areas. And the bill will exempt petroleum well pads from storm-water regulations under the Clean Water Act. Anthony said the provision makes sense because the wells are already exempt, but critics question why the oil and gas industry, which has seen record profits in recent months, should be exempt from any aspect of environmental law.

"This bill will allow America's most profitable companies to pollute our water supplies," said David Alberswerth of the Wilderness Society. "They're the kings of Capitol Hill."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also managed to insert at least $500 million in subsidies over a 10-year period -- with the option to double the amount -- for research into deep-water oil and gas drilling, a grant that many lawmakers expect to go to the Texas Energy Center in DeLay's home town of Sugar Land. The bill also includes royalty relief for deep-water drilling projects, a strategy that helped jump-start production in the Gulf during the 1990s.

"If you don't provide the relief, nothing will happen," said John Felmy, the American Petroleum Institute's chief economist. "The start-up costs are just too massive."

The bill's most far-reaching provision may be the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, which has blocked the owners of utilities from owning other companies and has prevented mergers in the electricity industry. Utility officials and other proponents of repeal say it will attract capital, helping utilities build transmission lines and generating plants that will prevent blackouts.

Consumer advocates warn that the repeal will trigger a flurry of mergers and acquisitions by banks, oil firms and even foreign countries, leading to increased rates and Enron-style frauds. Supporters point out that the electricity industry will still be regulated by a slew of state and federal agencies. But both sides agree the obscure provision will transform the industry, thrusting as much as $1 trillion in utility assets into the global marketplace.

"This will be one of the biggest economic changes in the country in 70 years," said Lynn Hargis of the liberal consumer group Public Citizen.

The bill's biggest winner was probably the nuclear industry, which received billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks covering almost every facet of operations. There were subsidies for research into new reactor designs, "fusion energy," small-particle accelerators and reprocessing nuclear waste, which would reverse current U.S. policy. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.) even inserted a $250,000 provision for research into using radiation to refine oil.

The bill also included $2 billion for "risk insurance" in case new nuclear plants run into construction and licensing delays. And nuclear utilities will be eligible for taxpayer-backed loan guarantees of as much as 80 percent the cost of their plants.

There has not been a new U.S. nuclear plant in decades, but the industry's supporters say that jump-starting construction will help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. John Kane of the Nuclear Energy Institute said the federal subsidies for his industry are "simply an effort to get over that first hurdle."

The bill passed the Senate, 74 to 26. All Maryland and Virginia senators voted for the bill yesterday, except Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.). In the House on Thursday, the majority of area representatives approved the bill, which passed 275 to 156 . Voting against it were Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

During the debate over the bill's numerous subsidies, taxpayer groups questioned why thriving energy companies need federal aid to produce energy. But the bill's defenders say it is not realistic to expect newer and cleaner technologies to succeed their own. "They need a jump-start," said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute.

Sometimes, they need more than one push. In the 1990s, then-Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska) helped persuade Congress to spend $117 million on an "clean coal" plant in Healy, Alaska, but the factory was quickly mothballed. A potential buyer recently declared it "fatally flawed by faulty design and unproven experimental technology." Now Murkowski's daughter, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), has helped secure an additional $80 million in loan guarantees to convert the "clean coal" plant into something that works.

By Michael Grunwald and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com page A1

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Redlands to be home to plant that turns sludge into compost

REDLANDS City leaders are moving forward on a proposed composting facility that would recycle the sludge that gets flushed down city sewers as nutrient-rich compost instead of discarding it into a landfill or hauling it off to another facility.

The $25 million facility would be built and operated by companies American Bio Tech and the Haskell Co. (ABT-Haskell), but the city would get free recycling of biosolids in exchange for leasing 6 to 8 acres of property east of the California Street landfill and south of the Nevada Street water reclamation facility.

The City Council unanimously approved the idea at its July 19 meeting , and asked staff to come back with a formal agreement for them to sign.

Company representatives say that, when completed, the operation could be the most innovate and environmentally friendly composting facility in the nation.

"This is probably going to end up as a model for the LA basin," Chief of Water Resources Doug Headrick said earlier this week.

As proposed, the facility would be able to process 150,000 tons of organic waste annually, including all of the 5,000 to 6,000 tons of biosolids produced by Redlands. Biosolids the material obtained from treated wastewater accounts for about 4 percent to 5 percent of the city's waste.

City officials say the facility, which uses innovative "air-scrubbing" technology to seal off offensive odors, will act as a buffer to the water reclamation facility and the landfill and will not cause problems with warehouses that could be built nearby.

Mayor Susan Peppler said she was relieved to learn that the closest homes are 1.5 miles away from the facility.

"It would seem to be the best use of that property simply because there had to be a buffer between the wastewater treatment plant and any other structures that will be built in that area," Peppler said. "It certainly makes more sense than continuing to dump the green waste in open fields and incur ongoing and every-increasing expenses related to discarding it."

The system will work by pumping wastewater into the fully enclosed compost facility, which will separate out sludge and mix it with carbon-based materials like sawdust in one of 16 27-foot cube-shaped cells. Machines shoot oxygen through the mass in "negative and positive lances" to compost the material like an "aerobic biological fire." At the end of the day, the company will take the bottom foot of finished compost and add more to the top.

"It's always, first in, first out," said Haskell Co. Director of Project Development Phil Ackley.

The city bought the 25.5 acres south of the water reclamation facility for $2.5 million in July 2004, when they realized a buffer was needed to separate it from future developments. At that rate, 6 to 8 acres cost $588,000 to $784,000.

In exchange for a $1 annual lease of that land, the city estimates it will get $200,000 to 300,000 in free composting each year.

For ABT-Haskell, the $25 million capital costs will take about 20 years to recover, according to American Bio Tech President John Laurenson Jr. The company's main profits will come from contracts with neighboring communities, who will pay anywhere from $40 to $70 for each ton processed. The sale of the compost is less significant.

The capital investment represents a change in the direction of the waste disposal industry, which often trucks waste to spread on the desert floor or in areas like Kern County. This venture, Laurenson said, will not depend on unpredictable variables like increases in gas prices and will be more environmentally friendly than dumping into the ocean a controversial tactic used in the past by other southland communities.

"I like that we're taking a regional perspective to solving that kind of problem," said Council Member Jon Harrison. "I think that's more and more what all of us are having to do."

Company representatives say that, regionally, the composting system will reduce traffic and air pollution from traffic by processing waste locally. Traffic studies show the facility will draw less traffic than the warehouse facility that it was otherwise zoned for.

Compared with other alternatives like landfills, land application or large open-air windows the composting facility also reduces the amount of land needed from about 60 acres to six and the time from four months to 21 days.

The changes in the industry came in the late 1980s, when the state assembly began requiring cities to divert 50 percent of their recyclables from landfills by 2000. A pending bill could increase that number to 75 percent by 2015.

"Our industry had essentially come to an end because, as long as you were allowed to spread it around, there was no need for (composting) because it was cheaper," said Laurenson. "The whole economic picture changed."

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, after dealing with controversial open pile composting, also began requiring composting operations to reduce smelly air emissions by 80 percent.

"Eighty percent does not address air quality issues," said Laurenson. "We strive for 100 percent."

Their "air scrubbing system" aims to control odor by using a heat exchanger, a biofilter, a sulfuric acid trap, a base trap and an oxidation treatment train.

At the first of its two facilities, the company was able to operate successfully for 17 years within 400 yards of homes, with less sophisticated odor control systems, they say.

City staff say the facility will work well with the landfill and the water reclamation facility, which produces non-potable water for industrial and commercial uses.

"Here we have designed a loop that begins to look like the development of an eco-park," said Solid Waste Manager Gary Van Dorst.

The company even hopes to harness the warmth and energy naturally produced by the composting process.

"I've always dreamt about using that as a source to heat a greenhouse," Laurenson said.

That vision fits in with ideas from the Municipal Utilities Department to create a demonstration garden for citrus heritage in the area, Headrick said.

The greenhouse will be part of a tour that science students could someday take to learn about the composting process and environmentally-friendly systems in their town.

Next January is the earliest construction could start, Laurenson said. It would take about 12 months to complete.

Headrick and Dorst hope to bring a formal development agreement back to the council within the next few months.

Harrison said the council will be looking at the agreement closely to make sure it is fair for the city and the company.

Redlands Daily Facts www.redlandsdailyfacts.com

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Perceived Risk and Citizen Preferences for Governmental Management of Routine Hazards

Risk perceptions are important to the policy process because they inform individuals' preferences for government management of hazards that affect personal safety, public health, or ecological conditions. Studies of risk in the policy process have often focused on explicating the determinants of risk perceptions for highly salient, high consequence hazards (e.g., nuclear energy). We argue that it is useful to also study more routinely experienced hazards; doing so shows the relevance of risk perceptions in individuals' daily lives. Our investigation focuses on the impact perceived risk has on citizens' preferences over hazard management policies (as distinct from identifying risk perception determinants per se). We use a recursive structural equation model to analyze public opinion data measuring attitudes in three distinct issue domains: air pollution, crime, and hazardous waste storage and disposal. We find that citizens utilize perceived risk rationally: greater perceived risk generally produces support for more proactive government to manage potential hazards. This perceived risk-policy response relationship generally holds even though the policy options respondents were asked to consider entailed nontrivial costs to the public. The exception seems to be when individuals know less about the substantive issue domain.

by Brian J. Gerber and Grant W. Neeley
The Policy Studies Journal via Blackwell-Synergy www.blackwell-synergy.com
Volume 33 Issue 3 Page 395 - August 2005

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12:22:11 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, Government Report, West, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 1691 words   English (US)

Washington Sustainable Schools Program (WSSP) Pilot Phase

In April 2005, the Governor of Washington signed historic legislation to require sustainable standards for all new schools receiving state funds based on the findings of a pilot program at five state schools. This article discusses the findings of the program and details some of the methods used.

In April 2005, the Governor of Washington, Christine Gregoire, signed historic legislation to require sustainable standards for all new schools receiving state funds. The legislation and supporting funding are the outcome of earlier research and planning.

In the fall of 2004, five Washington School Districts undertook a fast-paced, multi-disciplinary research project to evaluate the cost, environmental, and other impacts of implementing the newly developed Washington Sustainable Schools Program (WSSP) Protocol for High Performance School Facilities. The primary goal of the pilot was to provide meaningful, Washington-specific data to the State Legislature that would inform their decision about statewide implementation of these green building strategies in public K-12 schools.

The project itself was an outcome of hearings the Washington State Legislature held in 2003 to learn more about sustainability in schools following our earlier legislative proposal to require all schools receiving state funds to attain a LEED silver rating of the U.S. Green Building Council. The resulting legislative initiative, now known as the Washington Sustainable Schools Pilot Program (WSSP), provided $1.5 million funding to develop and test sustainable strategies tailored to K-12 public school construction in Washington State.

The WSSP Protocol

Since the pilot was essentially field testing the Draft WSSP Protocol, it's important to understand just what the Protocol is. The basis for the WSSP Protocol was a set of criteria created by a joint committee established by the Washington Chapter of the Council for Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). The broad based committee included architects, engineers, school facility planners, and state education facilities. BetterBricks provided process facilitation and technical expertise to the committee.

The Protocol Committee reviewed a number of green building rating systems and determined it would work from California’s High Performance Schools criteria to come up with a "benchmarking tool that enables… all {Washington} schools, regardless of size or other variables, to achieve and measure sustainability." The result is a Protocol that addresses multiple aspects of high performance buildings in areas of site planning, water efficiency, materials, energy efficiency, and indoor environmental quality. In addition, there is an “Extra Credit” category, which provides opportunity to earn points for sustainable achievements not specifically addressed by the Protocol.

The Pilot Projects

Of the $1.5 million provided under the WSSP legislation, $1.25 million was designated to field test sustainable strategies and the Protocol in five Washington State public K-12 schools. Candidate schools were recruited in the summer of 2004 from all 296 school districts in the State, generating 24 proposals from 20 school districts across the State.

Narrowing the selection to only five projects proved very challenging, since many teams offered valuable data and perspectives. The final selections were driven by the importance of ensuring diversity in the construction type (new/renovation), climatic conditions, and district’s population density (urban, suburban, rural) along with meeting the technical goals of the project. The five pilot school districts were: Bethel, Northshore, Olympia, Spokane, and Tacoma.

The Pilot Project Results

In reviewing the results of the pilot projects, it is important to consider their limitations. These projects were short-term design studies, not evaluations of installed, functioning systems. A comprehensive approach would begin with early planning and continue through design, construction, commissioning, and occupancy. Results are specific to the pilot schools. In addition, the pilot projects took place during different stages of design. Schools earlier in the design phase had less detail upon which to base cost estimates. Despite these constraints, the pilot projects offer data never previously available in Washington. For those particularly interested in energy efficiency, there were some interesting results.

Bethel School District studied the energy use of different HVAC systems by comparing actual energy use at two existing, similar elementary schools with similar hydronic heat pump systems. The older school is equipped with a gas-fired boiler and closed loop cooling tower while the second uses a shallow horizontal ground-source heat exchange. The team concluded that the construction costs for the two systems were similar and that the ground-coupled system would provide 30-year life cycle savings of $2.45 per sq. ft.

Bethel also studied the impact of incorporating energy-efficient lighting, heating, cooling, building envelope, and controls at a third, similar school now under construction. The energy savings predicted for the new school as designed is 30%.

The Northshore School District pilot study evaluated sustainable, high performance school design strategies for the 425 student Cottage Lake Elementary Phase II. The team was able to estimate the cost savings associated with using an integrated design process by comparing Phase II with the earlier, conventionally-designed Phase I, completed in 2000. This study demonstrated a $32,000 (9%) savings in construction costs, annual energy and maintenance cost savings of $12,500, and an estimated 30 year life cycle cost savings for operations of $356,000 from features including integrating a natural, passive ventilation system using operable windows, louvered wall cabinets, thermal chimneys (also functioning as light shafts) and assist fans to reduce total net energy use and improve indoor air quality.

In addition, Northshore modeled the use of daylight responsive lighting controls coupled with indirect/direct pendant fluorescent fixtures for use in the classrooms and library. The team calculated that the controls have an initial cost premium of $1,200 per classroom with an annual energy savings of $500 per year. The 30 year life cycle cost would be saving $32,000.

The Olympia School District pilot study evaluated multiple high performance school design strategies for the 798 student, 100K sq.ft. Washington Middle School renovation and addition. The study compared radiant floor hydronic heating combined with heat-recovery ventilators to fin-tube hydronic heaters with built-in ventilators. They found that the initial cost of a radiant system, combined with classroom heat recovery ventilators, is comparable to the fin-tube system. Further, the study demonstrated a 7% (or $3,500) annual energy cost savings, an 83% reduction in maintenance costs, and a calculated 30 year life cycle savings of $196,000 for the radiant floor compared to a baseline hydronic system.

Olympia also evaluated displacement ventilation relative to the use of a conventional 20 ton air conditioning system to serve the library, presentation area, and other areas where natural ventilation was not possible. They concluded that displacement ventilation provides a high level of indoor air quality and is a cost effective solution for facilities that are not in session during the warmer summer months.

Olympia also estimated a 5% annual maintenance savings and a 5% energy savings through the use of an integrated Energy Management System.

The Spokane School District pilot study evaluated multiple high performance school design strategies for the new 550 student, K-5 Lincoln Heights Elementary School. First, they evaluated several HVAC systems and selected a geothermal heat pump system with indirect gas-fired ventilation air units. The team demonstrated that the geothermal heat pump system will yield a 23% energy cost savings (approximately $4,670 per year) over a baseline 4-pipe fan coil system. However, the high cost for the vertical installation at this site means that there is a 30-year life cycle cost premium for the geo-exchange system, calculated to be approximately $32,000. The additional filtration levels, improved building pressure control, and reduced maintenance and annual energy costs were enough to convince the Owner and design team to pursue this system.

Spokane also evaluated the initial and life cycle cost of a displacement ventilation system. The team compared the alternative to a conventional 4-pipe fan-coil system with a gas-fired boiler and cooling tower. Here, the displacement ventilation system entailed a $30,000 (3%) cost premium. The modeled energy savings of the displacement ventilation system was 9% or approximately $3,000 per year, yielding a 10 year simple payback. The estimated 30-year life cycle cost savings of the displacement ventilation system was estimated at $53,000.

Spokane also evaluated the use of daylighting strategies with lighting controls in conjunction with an integrated design element to reduce the energy cost of the overall design. For this project, the lighting controls cost an additional $30,400 and would reduce the building’s annual energy budget by 3%.

The Tacoma School District evaluated several sustainable strategies for the historic renovation of Lincoln High School in Tacoma. Energy strategies studied included replacing historic windows, adding attic insulation, and the use of daylight responsive electric lighting controls.

However, due to the historic nature of the building and other conditions of the existing structure, none of the retrofit measures proved cost-effective.

Other High-Performance Indicators

As mentioned above, in addition to energy, the Protocol addresses site, water, materials, and indoor environmental quality, as well as other innovations in policy and process. Here’s just a sample of the pilot project results in these areas:

Site: Spokane demonstrated that bio-retention, rain gardens, soil amendments, and other technologies to promote onsite infiltration and treatment of stormwater are cost effective strategies available to school districts. However, permitting process may take longer than for a conventional design, at least for the near term.

Water: The use of water-efficient fixtures for toilets, urinals and other indoor plumbing fixtures is expected to reduce life cycle costs by 32% at Washington Middle School in Olympia. Two projects studied the costs and benefits of using harvest rainwater for toilet flushing, which yields significant savings in potable water, but is economically viable only under limited conditions.

Next Steps

The studies conducted under this Pilot Program clearly demonstrated that many of the strategies covered by the Protocol offer the opportunity for both initial and life cycle costs savings and improvements to the quality of the learning environment. In addition, a survey of pilot project teams on the usefulness of the Protocol and its documents provided excellent feedback for finalizing the Protocol.

The Washington State Legislature passed legislation that requires K-12 schools to build to a LEED Silver Standard or meet the WSSP protocol. Funding of $6.5 million was also approved to help initiate statewide implementation. Funding is capped per school type with a limit of $250,000 per elementary school, $350,000 per middle school and $500,000 per high school.

More information on the pilot studies, the WSSP Protocol, and a planning workbook for High Performance School Facilities are available online.

BetterBricks May 2005 via Earth Vision www.earthvision.net

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Some cities are finding money does grow on trees

Cities are starting to treat trees less as decoration and more like public utilities now that they can calculate how much money trees save by cutting air pollution, storm runoff and energy costs.

Charlotte, Cincinnati and Salem, Ore., are among a growing number of cities that have adopted or toughened ordinances that protect trees, require them as part of development or provide incentives for homeowners to plant them. The efforts reflect growing recognition that trees can be as crucial to urban and suburban living as sewers, roads and water-treatment plants. (Related story: Barren cities turn over new leaf)

"Tree cover not only produces beauty but services that the city has to go out and buy otherwise," says Gary Moll, vice president of the Urban Forest Center at American Forests, a non-profit conservation group in Washington, D.C. "It's a whole lot cheaper than building concrete infrastructure."

Tree cover has plummeted since the mid-1980s in all 25 metropolitan areas American Forests studied with satellite and aerial imagery.

The "green infrastructure" strategy springs from imaging software that allows cities to quantify the financial benefits trees bring because they:

• Clean air by filtering pollutants and producing oxygen. A 35% decline in the Charlotte metropolitan area's tree cover from 1984 to 2003 led to a similar reduction in the amount of carbon monoxide, ozone and other pollutants that trees removed from the air, American Forests research says

• Reduce the need for huge storm-water systems that prevent rain from washing oil, auto coolant, pesticides and other chemicals into rivers and lakes. Cities in 10 counties in the Atlanta area had to spend $2 billion on storm-water facilities to handle runoff caused by the loss of trees over more than two decades, the analysis shows. Salem asks developers to plant trees in parking lots; the city hopes to increase its tree canopy from 18% to 25%.

• Lower energy costs by providing shade and cooling the air. Cincinnati encourages homeowners to protect trees on and near their properties.

"You can tell them these two trees each can save you $55 a year" in air-conditioning bills, says Dave Gamstetter, natural resource manager for the Cincinnati Park Board. "That's the key - the pocketbook."

By Haya El Nasser
USA TODAY www.usatoday.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Water, Energy, Climate Change, Green Roofs, Midwest, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 446 words   English (US)

UWSP campus roof goes green

Environmentalists in the area are excited about a new eco-friendly rooftop on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus.

The new "green roof" atop the Albertson Learning Resources Center, the first of its kind in the area, cost UWSP nearly $100,000. But school officials say green will be great for the aesthetic and environmental appeal of the center.

"It's good for the environment, it's good for energy conservation, and it's a good instructional resource for several of our programs here at the university," said Larry Beck, director of facilities services at UWSP. "I would hope next year that you won't see the outlines of the 2-by-4 trays. It will just be a mosaic of color."

Installed in June, the system of hearty, shallow-rooted and drought-resistant plants covering the 6,000-square-foot east roof of the center probably won't reach its full size until 2007. But even now, the aesthetic and environmental appeal of the roof are apparent.

"I'm on the fourth floor of the library," said Jennie Lane, program director of UWSP's Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program. "I was going down the stairwell, and I saw it. It was just striking to me, that nice green vision versus the plain roof."

The system has two primary environmental benefits, Beck said. Because the four inches of rooftop soil absorb water that would otherwise be swept, along with any pollutants, into storm sewers and then into local bodies of water, the system keeps storm water cleaner, he said. In addition, green roofs can actually cool buildings because they don't absorb as much heat as other rooftop surfaces.

A regular roof with a black surface can heat up to about 180 degrees, and even a cooler white-topped roof can reach temperatures of 140 degrees, said Sandy McCullough, vice president of GreenGrid, the Chicago-based company that installed UWSP's system.

But green roofs generally don't get much warmer than about 80 degrees, McCullough said. Particularly in larger urban areas - Chicago and Milwaukee have used green roofing systems - that means less energy has to be used to cool buildings during the summer.

"Cities are a whole lot warmer than the surrounding areas because of the heat absorption characteristic of heat and pavement," McCullough said. "If you put enough green roofs on city buildings, it will ultimately lower the temperature."

And although Stevens Point isn't a big urban center, the same thing can happen on a smaller scale here, Beck said.

"It's had a noticeable impact to the second floor of the library," he said. "(Employees) feel it's much cooler already."

Tentative plans are in the works for a matching green roof on the center's west side, Beck said.

Wausau Daily Herald www.wausaudailyherald.com

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Book Excerpt from The Globalist: China and the Comfortable Road to Ruin by Clyde Prestowitz

Globalization is undoubtedly doing great things for Asia — especially for China and India. But according to Clyde Prestowitz — author of “Three Billion New Capitalists” — economic prosperity is coming at the cost of pollution, water shortages and disease. In this Globalist Bookshelf selection, he argues that these costs could very well negate Asia’s hard-won success.

Hong Kong has always been one of my favorite cities. I like to ride the tram to Victoria Peak for the spectacular view across the harbor to Kowloon. At least I used to do this.

China’s environmental agency calculates that living in Chinese cities does more damage to a person’s lungs than smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

These days, the view is obscured by a cloud of smog that drifts in from factories in China's neighboring Guangdong province.

In 2004, Hong Kong had 79 days over 100 (very high) on the air pollution index. Yet, Hong Kong is one of the less polluted cities in China.

Rapid economic growth has cut forest cover in northern and central China by more than half since 1985 — and the country's deserts are growing by several hundred thousand square miles annually.

Growing pains

Government efforts to replant trees are proving too little, too late. The Gobi Desert, which is moving closer at a rate of two miles per year, is now less than 200 miles from Beijing.

Sometimes, in the summer, the sandstorms in Beijing make you wonder if you mistakenly got off the plane in Saudi Arabia.

Too much, too soon

But particulate levels in Beijing's air do not come only from the Gobi. China's auto population of ten million is growing by nearly two million a year — and it could easily double every three or four years.

The question of whether the world can sustain Chinese and Indian modernization along the lines of the U.S. consumer model is one of critical importance.

Given China's huge population, a U.S. rate of vehicle ownership would mean 600 million Chinese cars on the road — more than the total number of cars in the world in 2005.

China is already the world's second largest greenhouse gas emitter. It could easily top U.S. emissions if its rate of vehicle ownership gets anywhere near the U.S. level.

As some observers have noted, "If China attempts to replicate the U.S.-style consumer economy, it will become clear that the U.S. economic model is not environmentally sustainable."

Two bad habits

The important point is that it would not only be unsustainable for China, it would also be unsustainable for the rest of the world.

Cars and smokestacks are just two of the factors that have made China the home of the world's worst environmental problems.

Living dangerously

Two-thirds of Chinese cities have air quality below World Health Organization standards — and 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China, including Beijing.

As in China, the loss of half of India’s forest cover has resulted in flooding, loss of water retention, erosion of topsoil and further pollution of drinking water.

China's environmental agency calculates that living in Chinese cities does more damage to a person's lungs than smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

The water in five of China's largest rivers is dangerous to touch. But if you live downstream, you don't have to worry about touching it, because the rivers dry up before they get there.

Beijing, for instance, is in real danger of simply running out of clean water. Longtime China analyst Jasper Becker says that 600 million people drink water contaminated with human and animal waste.

The plight of the people

The country's environmental situation is likely to get worse in the next two decades, as 300 million more Chinese are expected to join the 200 million who have already migrated from the countryside to cities.

By 2020, the environmental agency estimates that 500,000 people will die prematurely every year from bronchitis and similar illnesses, while many farmers in central China will have to abandon their land to the rapidly advancing deserts.

Moreover, environmental problems could cut as much as 10% from China's GDP.

Desperate measures

India's water problems may be even worse than China's. "Pump smashing" — one farmer destroying another's irrigation pump — is becoming a major hazard in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Given China’s huge population, a U.S. rate of vehicle ownership would mean 600 million Chinese cars on the road — more than the total number of cars in the world in 2005.

Even worse, angry farmers may destroy the electric company for taking precious water to generate electricity.

By 2025, India will have another 400 million people. Three-fourths of the population of about 1.5 billion people will be living in areas with less than 264,000 gallons of water per person per year — the amount considered essential to sustain economic development.

Here, as elsewhere, water is both a cause and an effect of a larger environmental disaster. As in China, the loss of half of India's forest cover has resulted in flooding, loss of water retention, erosion of topsoil and further pollution of drinking water.

Deadly resources

Up to 70% of people who contract serious illnesses in India do so as the result of contact with polluted water.

India's air pollution is nearly as bad as China's. According to the Center for Science and Environment, deaths due to air pollution in 33 Indian cities for which air quality measures are available rose 30% in just four years, from 2000 to 2004.

Critical questions

As in China, coal is the dominant fuel, and India is the world's third-largest producer after China and the United States. The combination of coal and untreated industrial smoke creates hazardous air pollution problems.

Sometimes, in the summer, the sandstorms in Beijing make you wonder if you mistakenly got off the plane in Saudi Arabia.

It also means that Indian greenhouse gas emissions are rising rapidly toward the Chinese and U.S. levels.

Because India has one of the highest levels of carbon intensity per dollar of GDP, its emissions could go even higher.

All of this begs the question of whether the world can sustain Chinese and Indian modernization along the lines of the U.S. consumer model. It is a question of critical importance for both of these countries — and the world.

Adapted from the book, "Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East" by Clyde Prestowitz. Copyright © 2005. BasicBooks, a member of the Perseus Books Group (www.perseusbooks.com).

By Clyde Prestowitz via The Globalist www.theglobalist.com

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New Bay Area oil refinery rule sets U.S. pollution precedent

After fighting for two decades over a highly visible pollution source, oil refiners, air regulators and environmentalists welcomed a historic new rule adopted Wednesday to cut refinery flare pollution.

Meeting in San Francisco, the Bay Area's air quality board approved the rule, requiring five refineries to develop emission-reduction plans for flares.

It is the first rule in the nation to limit flares, which are designed as safety devices to burn off gases during emergency pressure buildups and other unusual events. But for years, community activists have argued that the fiery, smoky flaring events are too easily triggered by refineries looking to cut costs.

``We've debated this for 20 years. The rule is long overdue,'' said Mark Ross, a Martinez city councilman on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board. ``Open flares are good for the Olympics, but not for communities.''

The vote to approve was 15-1.

Chris Daly, a San Francisco supervisor, said he supported the rule but voted ``no'' only because he thought the study on rule options was not thorough enough.

Many past public discussions on the flares were rancorous.

In contrast, speakers from different camps Wednesday said the rule was a compromise that will serve as a national model.

``This is the first and only rule of its kind in the country to comprehensively address flares,'' said Greg Karras, senior scientist at Communities for a Better Environment, a statewide group based in Oakland. ``We want a stronger rule, but this air board should be commended for having the courage to adopt this.''

Refinery operators can live with the rule, even if they believe flare pollution estimates have been overblown, said Joe Sparano, president of the Western States Petroleum Association.

``We believe we can safely implement the rule,'' he said.

Karras and other environmentalists said the rule should set strict flare-emission limits for sulfur, a lung irritant.

But air board members said they didn't want to delay the rule adoption, as would happen if they waited for a new study to consider sulfur limits.

Board members said they would consider sulfur limits later.

Jack Broadbent, the air district's chief executive officer, said the rule protects industrial neighbors by requiring each refinery to plan equipment and operational changes to minimize gas sent to flares.

``The idea is to prevent pollution rather than burn it,'' Broadbent said.

The Bay Area refineries are owned by Chevron, Shell, Tesoro, ConocoPhillips and Valero.

The rule will cost the petroleum industry at least $1.4 million and as much as $10.6 million annually per refinery, air district consultants estimated in a study.

Those annual costs amount to a range of between 0.2 percent and 2 percent of the net incomes of the plants, the consultants said.

Refiners have until November 2006 to submit the pollution reduction plans.

San Jose Mercury News www.MercuryNews.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, U.S., Companies, Green Roofs, Costs and Benefits, 2097 words   English (US)

Green Selling Tip: Understanding the Benefits of Going Green

There are lots of reasons for building and operating Green facilities, none necessarily better than others. The second part of this article continues its examination of these reasons, providing short explanations of the benefits. Even if many of these items are already familiar, this list may provide some new insights and help you convince your next clients to pursue an even deeper shade of green.

Increased property value

With any income-generating (rental) property, reducing operating cost can boost the property value. This occurs because the lower operating costs increase the building's net operating income (NOI). According to the publication Benefits Guide: A Design Professional's Guide to High Performance Building Benefits, published by the New Buildings Institute, increasing the NOI of a building increases the building's appraised value by ten times the annual cost savings-a capitalization rate (cap rate) of 10%. For example, a 75,000 ft2 (7,000 m2) office building that saves $0.50/ft2 ($5/m2) per year in operating costs ($37,500 per year), will see the value of the building increase by $375,000. A higher building value (appraisal) can increase the loan amount available from lending institutions.

More rapid lease-out

Green buildings-whether office space or high-rise residential property-often lease out more quickly than conventional buildings, and often with higher rental prices! Reasons for this include media exposure about environmental and health features, marketing materials that tout the low operating costs or enhanced comfort, and word-of-mouth comments about the look and feel of such buildings. Developer Joe Van Belleghem of BuildGreen Developments, Inc., in Victoria, British Columbia, credits green features for the rapid lease-out of his Vancouver Island Technology Park during a period of downtime in the high-tech sector. Minimizing the number of months for which lease space remains unoccupied reduces carrying costs and increases profits.

More rapid sales of homes and condominiums

Green homes and condominiums often sell more quickly than their conventional counterparts. Developers Tom Hoyt of McStain Enterprises, Inc., of Boulder, Colorado, and Dennis Wilde of Gerding/Edlen Development Company of Portland, Oregon, report far more rapid sales of green buildings. Faster sales mean lower carrying costs and lower interest on swing loans, both of which increase bottom-line profits.

Easier employee recruiting Recruiting quality employees can be a challenge for any employer, whether a private company, government agency, hospital, or school. The quality of the space in which prospective employees will be working, including such features as daylighting, views to the outdoors, and indoor air quality, can have a significant impact.

Reduced employee turnover

Green, healthy, comfortable buildings are more pleasant to work in, and employers with such buildings are likely to experience less employee turnover. With the high cost of employee recruiting and training, this benefit can offer significant economic value. In Michigan, the firm Deloitte & Touche estimates the cost of recruiting and training employees to be $12,000 for a nonprofessional worker and $35,000 for a professional employee. The Families and Work Institute estimates that replacing a nonmanagerial worker costs about 75% of his or her annual salary, with the figure closer to 150% for a manager. At the PNC Firstside facility in downtown Pittsburgh, employee retention was a major factor in the requirement that at least 90% of employees have views to the outdoors. Retention of military personnel in the U.S. Navy has been a major impetus for greening Naval housing.

Reduced liability risk

Lawsuits over mold in buildings and sick-building syndrome are increasingly common. Green buildings that have been designed with state-of-the-art knowledge about building science and moisture control pose a much lower risk of lawsuits related to these problems. It will surprise many building owners to learn that problems related to mold are increasingly being excluded from insurance coverage, and it is certainly within the realm of possibility that mortgage holders and commercial real-estate lenders will begin requiring some sort of quality-control certification relating to mold and durability.

Staying ahead of regulations

Many of the most expensive lawsuits faced by companies today (for example, lawsuits over asbestos and PCBs) could have been avoided if companies had been more proactive in avoiding practices that might later be banned. The same goes for building owners. Planning now for future stormwater control regulations, or bans of HCFC refrigerants, certain flame retardants, or other potential health or environmental hazards could save significant costs down the road. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute book Green Development, "it is almost always more expensive to comply with regulations after the fact."

Positive public image

The positive public image that can be realized through a commitment to healthy, environmentally responsible buildings can be tremendously beneficial. The development Dewees Island (see EBN Vol. 6, No. 2) garnered highly valuable press due to the project's leading-edge environmental policies-so much so that building lots almost sold themselves, even as their costs increased. Stanley Selengut's Maho Bay eco-resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands has realized millions of dollars' worth of free publicity through articles in the popular press about the facility's green features. Ford Motor Company's revitalization of its Rouge Plant was covered in dozens of national magazines, including five pages in Time magazine, due to the green features; purchasing that coverage would have cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

New business opportunities

Specializing in green development and in green building design and construction has proven to be lucrative for many of the pioneers. As word has spread about the success of these buildings, new opportunities have fallen into the laps of many green building experts. Though difficult to measure, these benefits can be substantial.

Improved health

By virtue of the materials used, moisture-control detailing, pollution- and contamination-rejection strategies, and ventilation strategies, green buildings are healthier buildings. Americans spend 85-95% of their time indoors, so the quality of the indoor environment is extremely important. Indeed, in many building sectors, ensuring healthy living and working spaces is likely to become the single most important driving force for a transition to green building.

Enhanced comfort

Measures that reduce drafts, minimize floor-to-ceiling temperature stratification, and control noise improve comfort in buildings. With houses in particular, a well-insulated, tight building envelope not only reduces energy consumption but also increases comfort-and the latter is just as important to many homeowners. In commercial and institutional buildings, the controllability of individual workspaces-a feature in many green buildings-addresses the fact that different people have different needs when it comes to temperature, ventilation, and light levels. Individuals often benefit psychologically just from knowing that they have this control over their workspace environment.

Reduced absenteeism

Keeping workers healthier-for example, through control of contaminants and displacement ventilation strategies (as achieved when raised access floors are used for conditioned air supply)-can significantly reduce work lost to illness. In the oft-cited Lockheed-Martin Building 157, absenteeism dropped 15% (see EBN Vol. 14, No. 3). William Fisk, P.E., head of the Indoor Environment Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has demonstrated that improved ventilation systems would reduce respiratory illness by 9-20%, yielding a savings in the U.S. of $6-$14 billion per year (see EBN Vol. 13, No. 10).

Improved worker productivity

The economic benefits of boosting productivity are tremendous, with salaries and benefits costing on average $318 per ft2 per year in a U.S. office building-compared with $50 for technology, $16 for the mortgage or lease, $2.35 for energy, and $1 for churn ($3,420, $540, $170, $25 and $11 per m2, respectively). Just a 1% increase in productivity, for example, will more than offset the total energy costs in the average building. Studies by Carnegie Mellon University have shown productivity increases in green buildings ranging from 0.4% to 18%. As more companies come to appreciate the value of productivity improvements, this is likely to become an increasingly important driver of green building. For more on productivity benefits, see EBN Vol. 13, No. 10.

Improved learning

In schools, such green features as daylighting, noise control, and views to the outdoors are being shown to increase rates of learning. A landmark 1999 study by the Heschong Mahone Group (HMG) found that daylighting in the Capistrano, California, school district increased the rate of learning by 20-26% (see EBN Vol. 8, No. 9). More recent studies by the same group in a different school system found a positive correlation between views to the outdoors and learning rates. Awareness of these benefits will influence school boards in their decision-making about school building design.

Faster recovery from illness

Views to the outdoors and connections to nature have been shown to promote more rapid healing in hospitals, while displacement ventilation can dramatically reduce the spread of illness through airborne viruses and bacteria-an increasing problem in many hospitals. Green building features such as these are increasingly being viewed as strategies for reducing healthcare costs. The nation's largest healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, which plans to build more than two dozen hospitals in the next decade, is committed to a comprehensive green building agenda.

Increased retail sales

A 1999 HMG study of 108 big-box stores in California found that daylighting increased sales by 40% (see EBN Vol. 8, No. 9). A more recent HMG study of another retailer's 74 stores in California found a 1-6% increase in sales that was correlated with daylighting. While less dramatic than the earlier study, the new study showed the increased sales benefit of the daylighting to be worth at least 19 times as much to the company as the energy savings provided by that daylighting. As this sort of information trickles down to the management of retail chains, daylighting and other green building strategies are likely to become the norm.MUNITY BENEFITS

Reduced demand on municipal services

Many green buildings have lower water demands and produce less wastewater than conventional buildings, thus reducing demand on municipal services. In areas where droughts are frequent or where municipal water utilities are already pushed to capacity, this benefit of green building can be significant. With Oakes Hall at the Vermont Law School (see EBN Vol. 9, No. 5), a moratorium on new hook-ups to the town's wastewater treatment plant drove a very aggressive water conservation agenda, which included composting toilets in the building. Even when capacity is not a problem, the use of energy and chemicals in sewage treatment plants is proportional to treatment volume, so reducing sewage volumes is environmentally attractive.

Reduced erosion and stormwater runoff

Some of the most localized environmental impacts of buildings are the erosion that occurs during construction and the increase in stormwater runoff that results from added impervious surface. Site management, landscaping, and other features of green building can dramatically reduce both of these problems. By incorporating green roofs (see EBN Vol. 10, No. 11), rooftop rainwater harvesting systems (see EBN Vol. 6, No. 5), porous pavement (see EBN Vol. 13, No. 9), and other practices to provide for on-site stormwater infiltration (see EBN Vol. 3, No. 5), the environmental impacts of stormwater runoff can be significantly reduced.

Reduced automobile use, traffic congestion, and sprawl

Green building should look beyond the individual building to how well that building is integrated into the community and the regional highway infrastructure; a high priority should be to lessen dependence on automobiles. Clustering buildings, mixing residential and commercial uses, linking buildings by pathways, building near light-rail and bus routes, and providing facilities and incentives to encourage commuting by means other than private automobiles can all help to reduce automobile use and traffic congestion. Reduced traffic congestion in an area improves the quality of life, boosts productivity (because people spend less time in traffic), and reduces air pollution. Such changes can also keep people healthier by enabling them to get more exercise (see EBN Vol. 13, No. 2).

Creating "community"

Development patterns that have been common during the last half of the 20th century have contributed to a loss of community in many areas. Green development, when implemented on a community scale, can help to reverse these trends and return to people-focused neighborhoods in which residents interact with their neighbors. Safety increases with more "eyes on the streets" and dependence on automobiles decreases. These ideas are among the key principles of New Urbanism or neo-traditional development-design and planning ideas advanced by the Congress for the New Urbanism. While not all New Urbanist development is as green as it could be, green building and new Urbanism should go hand-in-hand.

Support of local agriculture

A key feature of green development is the preservation of open space-both for ecosystem benefits (see below) and to protect farmland. Some of the most exciting green developments that have been created over the past few decades, such as Village Homes in Davis, California, Prairie Crossings north of Chicago, and numerous cohousing projects, incorporate sustainable agriculture as a key component of the development. Often, houses are located on steeper topography so that the flatter land best suited for agriculture can remain in productive use.

Destination Green The Ashking Group www.imakenews.com/theashkingroup

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02:31:23 pm, Categories: General, Air, Energy, Health, Asia, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, Savings, 631 words   English (US)

Trains save energy, ease pollution

As an employee of an electronics shop in Glodok, West Jakarta, Wati, 23, counts on the city train to be able to reach her office every day from her house in Citayam, West Java.

"Every day, I and hundreds of people living in my area take the train to office. We don't mind if we have to stand up along the trip as long as we reach our work place on time," she told The Jakarta Post.

Wati said that it takes less than an hour to reach the Kota train station from the Citayam station by train, compared to over four hours by bus.

"You know the traffic jams nowadays. I'd be so stressed and tired by the time I reached my work place. We simply couldn't go to work if there was no train," she said.

Wati is one of hundreds of thousands of train commuters in Depok, Bekasi, and Tangerang as well as Bogor whose livelihoods depend on the city train.

According state railway company PT KAI around 500,000 passengers use city trains every day.

Train researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Taufik Hidayat said that trains as a means of mass transportation should be developed to answer, at least partially, problems including the country's increasing energy consumption, traffic congestion, and pollution, as an alternative to simply building more toll roads.

"Not only faster, but trains are also more economical in terms of energy used. Train with eight carriages can take around 1,600 passengers and only consumes three liters of fuel per kilometer. Compared to buses, which can only take 40 people, or cars with three or four passengers, trains consume much less fuel," he told The Jakarta Post.

Taufik, who is also the executive director of Indonesia Railway Watch (IRW), said that according to a recent survey trains consume an average of 1,995 British Thermal Units per passenger per mile, or around 58 percent of the fuel consumption of busses which stood at 3,415 British Thermal Units.

Currently, it is estimated that vehicles consume around 80 percent of the country's total fuel.

Taufik said that since almost all trains operating in the Greater Jakarta area were electric, they produced very little pollution.

"According to a survey on transportation in Sweden, pollution costs of road transportation reached US$16 billion a year while trains have an annual pollution cost of US$60 million," he said.

Jakarta is the third most polluted city in the world with its 6.5 million vehicles, mostly private cars.

Motor vehicles are the main contributors to air pollution in the city, accounting for about 70 percent of pollutants, including carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

Every day, at least 138 new cars on average enter the city streets, putting further burdens on already overcrowded roads, most of which are community streets and lanes. Not to mention the 600,000 drivers who commute from suburban areas, like Bekasi and Tangerang.

The latest study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) shows that the economic loss caused by the congestion now amounts to Rp 5.5 trillion annually.

To overcome the congestion, the city administration plans to build seven new toll roads worth Rp 23 trillion (US$2.4 billion) connecting busy areas in the capital. But transportation experts believe they could cause even greater congestion, saying that the new toll roads would simply allow more vehicles to enter the city.

Taufik said that trains were just one of the solutions to congestion.

"It is time that the government upgrades and rebuilds trains to attract more people to use them. Remember, KAI's total assets are only valued at Rp 3 trillion. With Rp 23 trillion (the cost of the proposed toll roads), the government could make KAI eight times bigger and better than it is now," he said.

by Abdul Khalik
The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.com

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01:00:00 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Companies, California, Savings, 553 words   English (US)

Foothill-De Anza Celebrates Solar Power and Energy Efficiency Improvements: District Will Save More than $800,000 Annually, Help Preserve Environment

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District today announced it has completed the installation of more than 780 kilowatts of solar electric and energy-efficient cogeneration projects at both Foothill and De Anza colleges, including a moving solar-paneled parking structure that tracks the sun as it generates power. Along with prior improvements to lighting, air conditioning and energy management systems, the installations will reduce the district's electricity purchases by 46 percent -- more than 11 million kilowatt-hours annually -- and save the district about $800,000 a year.

The projects, which are funded in part from the energy savings they create, reduce the district's operating costs while lowering demand for power from the local utility, which in turn benefits the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The district's reduction in purchased power from the local utility translates to avoided local carbon dioxide emissions of more than 14 million pounds per year, equivalent to planting more than 2,000 acres of trees.

The improvements were highlighted this morning at De Anza College in Cupertino at an event held under one of the district's two new solar-paneled parking structures. Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees President Edward A. Hay, Chancellor Martha J. Kanter, representatives from both colleges, including a recent graduate, an official of Chevron Energy Solutions and others spoke at the event.

The Kirsch Center, the Science Center and the Student and Community Services Center at De Anza College are constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System(TM) standards for high-performance, sustainable buildings. The Science Center opened in fall 2004, and the Kirsch Center and Student and Community Services Center will open for the upcoming fall quarter.

The projects were designed, engineered and constructed by Chevron Energy Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX - News) that provides energy efficiency, conservation and renewable power projects for public institutions throughout the United States.

The latest improvements at the colleges included eight 60-kilowatt Capstone micro turbines (four at each campus) that produce electricity plus heat recovery systems that heat each campus pool efficiently, and PowerLight solar photovoltaic-paneled parking structures that provide shade and together generate 301 kilowatts of electricity. In total, the cogeneration and solar systems can produce enough electricity to power more than 700 homes.

The $5.1 million total cost of the cogeneration and solar projects was offset by $2 million in rebates from the state of California. The remainder is being paid from the energy savings resulting from the new equipment and Measure E construction bond funds.

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District enrolls more than 40,000 students each quarter and serves the communities of Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and portions of San Jose. For more information, visit the district's Web site at www.fhda.edu and the colleges' Web sites at www.foothill.edu and www.deanza.edu.

Chevron Energy Solutions partners with government and education institutions and businesses to improve facilities, increase efficiency, reduce energy consumption and costs, and ensure reliable, high quality power for critical operations. Its projects are funded by the energy savings they generate -- saving taxpayer dollars -- and reduce air emissions, extend fuel supplies and enhance indoor environments. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.chevronenergy.com.

Source: Press Release from Chevron Energy Solutions via PRNewswire-FirstCall via Yahoo Business http://biz.yahoo.com

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US scientists protest UN's Saudi health compensation policy

US scientists have protested at the failure of the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) to compensate Saudi Arabia for health damages incurred as a result of the 1991 Gulf War.

A survey by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) in Baltimore, Maryland, found that increased health risks resulting from the war would lead to two million excess hospital visits by exposed Saudis to the year 2030, a JHSPH statement said Wednesday.

It said the survey, conducted in conjunction with researchers from Lancaster, New York, and Saudi Arabia also projected six million excess visits to hospital outpatient departments and 23 million excess visits to primary care health centers.

"Almost 1,400 premature deaths" could also be linked to the increased health risks.

The scientists "expressed their disappointment with the June 30 decision of the UNCC not to award funds to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to compensate for health damages" incurred by its population during the war, said the statement, a copy of which was received here.

It said the UNCC had provided funding for the research and the scientists had presented results of their assessment to the commission last September, which showed that "exposure to war-related air pollution and trauma had a significant impact on the health" of Saudis.

The UNCC handles payouts by Iraq, funded by the country's oil revenues. It examines claims and manages compensation payments to individuals, companies or governments following the 1990 to 1991 invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War.

AFP via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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Colleges building more environmentally friendly buildings

Spurred on by student input and future savings, more colleges are keeping the environment in mind when they build new facilities, experts say.

In Ohio, each residential house in a new complex at Case Western Reserve University has a kiosk that will display statistics on the building's energy use. Oberlin College has a wireless monitoring system in four residence halls and plans to expand the system.

The U.S. Green Buildings Council is receiving more certification applications from colleges, spokeswoman Taryn Holowka said. The council has certified 231 buildings nationwide since it began the voluntary process five years ago and another 1,900 are seeking certification, she said.

The University of Cincinnati, Oberlin and the Art Academy of Cincinnati are pursuing certification. Case Western and Cleveland State University both said they are waiting until their projects are finished before they start the process.

Rising energy costs is one reason behind the going green trend but some colleges said students are spurring changes.

Students at John Carroll University suggested using low-energy windows and recycled steel in the $66 million science building.

"Universities have a special place in that they are pillars in the community and should set the example for what is possible," said Kristen Swords, a John Carroll graduate who helped with the suggestions for the building. "When you have a university taking the lead, the surrounding community is more likely to follow suit."

Energy consumption will be monitored in Case Western's $126 million, seven-dorm complex and broken down into per house and per occupant data when its completed in the fall. The data also will be available on the Internet.

"We wanted to make the buildings a teaching instrument and help students to learn and live an environmentally appropriate lifestyle," said Gene Matthews, Case Western's director of facilities services.

Edward Hull, president of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International, said building environmentally friendly buildings can cost schools money initially but saves money in the end.

Cleveland State officials said the school will save about $300,000 in energy costs with a geothermal heating and cooling system in the new $14 million administrative center and graduate studies buildings, which are expected to be completed next year.

The savings will be spread over 20 years, said Edward Schmittgen, director of capital planning and university architect. The system is costing Cleveland State $200,000 to install.

Some universities are making a larger commitment to environmentally friendly buildings. All new facilities and renovations at Emory University in Atlanta and Duke University in Durham, N.C., must be certified.

"In the end, it's not just about the savings," says Hull, who is also Duke's director of housing. "We are doing it because it's the right thing to do."
On the Net: U.S. Green Buildings Council: http://www.usgbc.org/

Ohio News Network www.onnnews.com

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New school in Ashland will be energy efficient

When Ashland High School students enter their new building next January, they'll be learning in an environment that is healthier, allows them to be more productive and dramatically decreases the school's energy costs.

Solar panels, huge windows and skylights maximizing use of natural light, carpets and paint that are mold-resistant and emit fewer harmful vapors, improved stormwater management, and better air circulation are some of the innovative features builders are using as they construct the school.

It's all part of a growing trend known as "green" building, construction that is better for the environment and people's health. The green trend has extended to many sites including Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, the William Stanley Elementary School in Waltham and the Alternatives Unlimited project at a Northbridge cotton mill.

"It makes a lot of sense doing it naturally. You're saving the environment and saving a lot of energy," said Kevin Johnson, supervisor of school buildings and grounds in Ashland.

Massachusetts is one of about a half-dozen states strongly pushing the green building ethic, said Rob Pratt, director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's Renewable Energy Trust.

Building green adds 2 percent to 4 percent to construction costs, but saves money in the long run by lowering energy bills, Pratt said. And with more and more buildings going green, Pratt said he expects that in about five years initial costs will be the same as in buildings without the green improvements.

"The life cycle costs are wonderful," Pratt said. "You pay for the additional premiums in the early years of the school, and it just keeps providing benefits."

State officials have provided towns like Ashland an additional 2 percent reimbursement in school building costs when they use green design, and are now targeting affordable housing as the next frontier for the environmentally friendly mode of construction.

Massachusetts will use $209 million in incentives to encourage developers to build about 1,000 green units, half of them affordable, under a program announced this month by MassHousing, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Enterprise Foundation of Maryland.

"I think it's a great idea," said Karen Weiner, director of special projects at the Citizens Housing and Planning Association. "Obviously, the more we can do to make housing affordable and also protect the environment, it's a win-win for everyone."

The incentives for developers include $125 million in mortgage financing, $75 million in private equity and $9 million in grants and loans. They're open to builders throughout the state, but program officials expect the green apartment buildings will be built primarily east of Interstate 495.

MassHousing has begun outreach to pique developers' interest in the incentives.

"We're going to make it as easy as possible for them," said Eric Gedstad, the agency's spokesman.

About 5 percent to 10 percent of new apartments and homes are being built with green design principles, but that number should increase in coming years, Pratt said.

Building green entails a lot more than slapping a few solar panels on the roof. Many green builders apply for the voluntary LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which involves energy efficiency, recycling, use of non-toxic paints and upholstery, bicycle racks and siting near public transportation, Pratt said.

All new federal buildings and many new Boston structures are applying for LEED status, he said. Statewide, the number of LEED applications increased from 87 in November 2003 to 183 a year later, he said. And Massachusetts has 18 green schools already built or under construction.

The green and LEED-certified buildings improve health and
productivity of their occupants by combining materials that are low in volatile organic compounds with HVAC systems that adjust air circulation based on the number of people in a room, green building advocates said.

"These are really nice places to be. When you have good ventilation, people don't get sleepy and tired after lunch," Pratt said. Studies have shown that "students actually do better on tests in green schools," he added.

Employers discovered several years ago that productivity increased in buildings designed with green principles, said architect Joseph da Silva, who designed the new Ashland High School.

"By creating productive environments, you can increase productivity 10, 20 percent, and that became the driving force behind doing green buildings," he said.

There are several examples of green building in MetroWest. A renovation and expansion at the Blackstone Valley Tech school will allow the district to reduce annual energy costs by $160,000 while exceeding the state's energy code requirements by more than 40 percent, said Kim Cullinane, a project manager at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which gave Blackstone design and construction funding.

In Northbridge, Alternatives Unlimited Inc., a nonprofit, is retrofitting the Whitin Cotton Mill with solar panels, geothermal wells and hydro-electric generators in a project expected to reduce the company's electric bills by 60 percent.

And in Ashland, construction on the new high school is in full swing. Johnson, the building and grounds supervisor, toured the school construction site with a reporter last week to display some of the school's many "green" features.

The site will have a stormwater system that collects water and lets it seep back into the ground. Walking trails and wetlands are also on the property, Johnson said.

But the most noticeable green aspect is the windows. The building
has three skylights in the cafeteria, main hallway and the library, as well as large windows throughout the building and an extra row of windows at the top of the school, all designed to bring in more sunlight. Lights in the school will automatically dim and brighten to adjust to the amount of daylight flooding in through windows, Johnson said.

The school will be 27 percent more efficient than required under building codes and is expected to save $77,000 in annual energy costs. Because the school will meet high efficiency standards, Ashland received nearly $400,000 in rebates from utility companies for infrastructure costs, da Silva said.

In case anyone is skeptical about the energy savings at the new Ashland High School, the building will have a kiosk that allows the public to monitor its energy use, Johnson said. The station will also help kids learn about energy efficiency.

"They plan on using it as a teaching tool," Johnson said.

Jon Brodkin, 508-626-4424,

Daily News Tribune www.dailynewstribune.com

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02:10:12 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Transportation, Indiana, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 913 words   English (US)

Incentives Take Aim at Rising Fuel Costs

Place a delivery order from Pizza Express, and the pizza may arrive in a vehicle that resembles the unholy offspring of a golf cart and a Toyota Echo.

A combination of soaring gasoline prices, state grants and environmental idealism have whet appetites among businesses for "alternative fuel vehicles" such as this battery-powered Global Electric Motorcars model.

A $3,996 grant from the Lieutenant Governor's Office paid for about one-third the cost of the Pizza Express vehicle, manufactured by a DaimlerChrysler subsidiary.

"Industries such as ours should be pioneers in the electric vehicle frontier," said Gabe Connell, franchisee of the Pizza Express restaurants near IUPUI and in Broad Ripple.

As gas prices continue to rise, more businesses are contemplating options for environmentally friendly vehicles, driving up interest in electric vehicles as well as those burning soy diesel and the 15- percent ethanol/85 percent gasoline mixture known as E85.

State officials want to spur additional interest in hopes of avoiding federal air pollution sanctions that could force big cities such as Indianapolis to implement vehicle emissions testing.

The Lieutenant Governor's Office plans to shell out at least $180,000 in grants in the 2006 fiscal year that began July 1 to help businesses and public agencies use AFVs, said Vicki Duncan Gardner, press secretary for Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.

If demand is strong enough, the state may have access to another $320,000 in mostly federal money to give out, officials said.

Gasoline priced above $2 a gallon "makes more of a case for renewable fuels, in addition to the environmental benefits," Gardner said.

The bulk of the $134,492 in grants issued in the first half of 2005 went to municipal agencies and school districts for the use of ethanol and soy diesel fuels. They're less polluting than straight gas or diesel and, sometimes, less expensive.

Warsaw gas station Freedom Express recently listed E85 for $1.69 a gallon vs. $2.28 for regular gas.

Indiana's only other station selling E85, Jiffy Mini-Marts in Terre Haute, has reported a similar price spread for the E85 blend.

Ethanol is made from corn and other grain products. State officials hope its production here could be a boon to the state economy. At least three new ethanol plants are in the works, thanks partly to a new state tax incentive for ethanol production.

Many vehicles manufactured since the late 1990s, particular by Ford and General Motors, have fuel systems beefed up to bum the otherwise corrosive E85.

Pizza Express and some other businesses are going a different route, choosing to forgo petroleum-based fuels and buying electric cars that cost only pennies per mile to operate.

Pizza Express' GEM electric car pollutes less than an oven making 40 pizzas-the quantity the vehicle can carry-though one could argue that the coal-fired power plant that generated the electricity spewed some extra particles to charge the car.

The GEM can silently roll up to 30 miles on a single charge. The street-legal vehicle starts at around $7,500. The fourseat version with windows and other goodies goes for nearly twice that.

"There's heightened interest recently, with gas prices going where they are," said Bill Robertson, CEO of Bill Robertson Motors, a Greencastle Chrysler dealer who has sold GEM cars for about three years to customers from Indianapolis to Austin, Texas.

Among buyers is Estridge Cos., which uses several to shuttle prospective home owners around its Centennial community in Westfield. The University of Texas and the Indianapolis Colts also have placed orders.

"It has to be for the right application," Robertson added.

Indeed- Stomp the accelerator of Pizza Express' 1,100-pound GEM and the fastest it will go on level streets is 25 miles an hour. The upside is that the car can be plugged in when not in use to top off the conventional, marine deep-cycle batteries. The brakes also work as a generator when applied.

"It's good for short, nearby deliveries," Connell said.

He confessed that his lone GEM car doesn't significantly reduce his expenses, however. But its egg shape and comicbook-like graphics scheme have been a marketing dynamo. When his crew trailers the car to festivals, it's an instant conversation starter.

Connell said he hopes technology advances enough to give the vehicle more car-like attributes. Driving the lightweight car with 12-inch tires in the snow would be a headache. The GEM has no heater or airconditioner, either.

"Hopefully, the technology comes on board that we'll have a fleet of these," Connell added.

For now, at least, the largest use of alternative fuels in the area involves cleanerburning fossil fuels. Citizens Gas & Coke Utility has more than 125 service vans and other vehicles using compressed natural gas. In early July, CNG cost $1.35 for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline that cost $2.16.

"It right now enjoys a relative price advantage," said Citizens spokesman Dan Considine.

He said other savings are measured in reduced maintenance expenses, such as longer oil change intervals upwards of 10,000 miles.

Many of the state's grants are going to school districts and highway departments to help pay for soy diesel fuel. With soy diesel sometimes 10 to 15 cents above a gallon of ordinary diesel, recipients often use the grants to help offset the price difference.

Recent recipients include a Jasper business that intends to convert four pickup trucks to run on propane, and a Terre Haute apartment complex that wants to buy a GEM to carry prospective renters to look at apartments.

The Central Indiana Clean Cities Alliance estimates more than 1,578 AFVs are in use in central Indiana, up from 856 in 2002.

Indianapolis Business Journal www.ibj.com

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Food study reveals hidden £9bn costs of transport

Food "miles" have risen dramatically over the past 10 years, are still rising, and have a significant impact on climate change, traffic congestion, accidents and pollution, according to a report published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) yesterday.

Food miles increased by 15% in the 10 years to 2002. The average distance we now drive to shop for food each year is 898 miles, compared with 747 miles a decade ago. Food transport accounts for 25% of all the miles driven by heavy goods vehicles on our roads. The use of HGVs to transport food has doubled since 1974.

The dramatic increase has resulted in a rise in the amount of CO2 emitted by food transport: 19m tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted in 2002 in the course of getting our food to us, a 12% increase on 1992, the report says. Airfreight, the most polluting form of food transport, is growing fastest.

The report also attempts to put a cost on the social and environmental impacts of food miles. Taking into account the time lost to traffic congestion, wear on the roads, ill health caused by air and noise pollution and accidents caused by food transport, its authors suggest the cost of food miles is £9bn a year to the UK. This is greater than the total contribution of the agricultrual sector to GDP (£6.4bn) and half the total value of the food and drink manufacturing sector (£19.8bn).

Researchers identified the factors driving the rise in food miles as increased global trade, concentration of power in the hands of supermarkets with centralised systems of distribution, greater car use to shop (particularly in urban areas), and a rise in packaging and processing.

The study shows that the concept of food miles is more complicated than just the distance food travels. What sort of transport is used and how food is grown make a difference.

Local sourcing helps as long as transport for local food is efficient. Organic food reduces environmental damage, but does not deliver a "net environmental benefit" when flown in from abroad. In simple energy terms, out-of-season British tomatoes needing artificial light and heat produce more emissions than those trucked from Spain.

Launching the report in London, the food and farming minister, Lord Bach, said the government would work with the industry to achieve a 20% reduction in the environmental and social costs of food transport by 2012.

He added that the report offered clear pointers to consumers: "Internet buying and home delivery can reduce road congestion and vehicle kilometres. Organic and seasonally available food can reduce environmental impacts, but these can be offset by the way they are transported to the consumer's home."

Tim Lang, who coined the phrase food miles in 1992 as part of the Safe campaign for more sustainable food, and is now professor of food policy at London's City University, said: "This report confirms that our so-called efficient food supply system is grossly wasteful. If the government doesn't take action to tackle this, all its proposals on climate change will be so much nonsense."

The Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said it was concerned about the focus on food miles in the government's strategy for sustainable food.

"As food miles eat into profit, companies have already created an extremely fuel-efficient supply chain, and will therefore find it difficult to make further reductions," it said.

Andrew Opie, the policy director of the British Retail Consortium, which represents leading supermarkets, said: "A sustainable policy on this issue is one that balances the demands of consumers for a broad range of all-year-round, high quality, affordable foods with any impact this may have on the environment through transport."

by Felicity Lawrence
The Guardian Unlimited http://www.guardian.co.uk

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A Place in the Sun: Is Maryland’s Solar-Power Future Shining Bright Or Partly Cloudy?

There’s just no question about it: Tom Yuhas’ electric meter is at a dead standstill. None of the dials is moving, even after several minutes of close observation. A dead standstill.

Standing there watching this, a satisfied, knowing grin emerges on Yuhas’ face. For this seemingly dead electric meter is not a cause for alarm or consternation. Rather, it represents a small victory, both a personal one and one for something far beyond the personal.

For even late in the afternoon on a June Sunday, when the sun is already far in the west and beginning to sink in the sky, there is still enough radiant light striking the flat black panels on the roof of the Pasadena home Yuhas shares with his wife, Frances, to supply their home with all the electricity it needs. At that moment there’s no need for an additional single kilowatt of electricity from Baltimore Gas and Electric and its coal, oil, or nuclear energy suppliers. The solar electric panels are doing it all.

“This solar system follows with what I and my wife believe,” says Yuhas, a former electrical engineer. “To use the sun that we all have every day and produce electricity that we can convert to use for whatever our needs may be.”

A similar but even more satisfying moment occurred in late April when Maryland energy officials and state and local elected representatives gathered at the Yuhas’ home to publicly celebrate the installation of these solar panels. Only a single reporter from a local community paper showed up to what had been arranged as a media event, but the poor turnout couldn’t dampen the excitement and enthusiasm for all involved when they went to the rear of the house and observed the electric meter spinning backward. Not only were the solar panels supplying enough electricity to meet the needs of the house, they were generating excess electric capacity that was being fed back into the BGE transmission lines for use elsewhere.

As Yuhas recalls, when one of the state delegates saw the meter going backward, he turned to a BGE representative and quipped, “Well, that’s money out of your pocket.”

Considering a new wave of public concern about dwindling oil and natural-gas reserves at home and abroad and the environmental impact of coal and nuclear waste, the future of solar power in Maryland should be looking bright. After all, not only are the solar panels on the Yuhas’ roof a local source of inexhaustible energy with zero air emissions, but the panels themselves were manufactured by BP Solar at its plant in Frederick, installed by Aurora Energy of Annapolis, and paid for with some financial assistance from the state government.

Publicly prominent solar installations are also in the works. The Maryland Science Center has a solar electric system due to be up and running by year’s end. Word is that local developer Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse intends to include a solar electric system on a community center planned for East Baltimore. On June 1, BP Solar donated $100,000 worth of solar panels to the Earth and Space Science Laboratory of the Frederick County Public Schools.

But are we really at the dawn of a new solar era? Or, like the Yuhas’ electric meter, is the state’s solar policy standing still or possibly even moving backward?

Certainly there are some exciting indicators of growth. Maryland solar companies report being busier than ever. The state has a new solar grant program to help underwrite homeowner systems such as the Yuhas’. For the first time, state law requires its electric utility companies to provide a growing percentage of their power from renewable resources, including solar. Rhetorically, everyone from the corporate sector to state lawmakers seems to be on board with solar as a legitimate part of the state’s energy future.

In practice, however, entrenched interests and mind-sets continue to limit and even thwart solar energy’s potential role in Maryland. While traditional fossil-fuel sources of electricity receive huge subsidies from the state and federal government, support for solar remains largely symbolic. A June 2003 statement from BGE, for example, showed that the utility relied on coal for over 52 percent of its electricity generation, more than 41 percent came from nuclear, another 3 percent from oil, and 0.0 percent from solar. These numbers portray an energy system trapped in the coal mines of the Appalachians and, as President George W. Bush’s recent celebratory visit to the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Southern Maryland indicates, possibly headed toward an expanded nuclear future.

These signs of both the sun shining and the sun barely rising on Maryland’s solar future can partly be read through the flat black panels on the Yuhas’ roof.

The Yuhas’ solar electric system is brand new, but their house has a history with solar power. During the 1970s, a previous era of Middle East unrest stimulated anxieties about the oil supply, sending the government and consumers looking for cheaper and more easily accessible power sources. When previous owners of the Yuhas’ house installed a solar water-heating system in the early ’80s, they did so at a time when they could take advantage of a federal tax credit for the purchase of solar systems, enacted by Congress in 1978, as well as various state and county programs designed to encourage solar power.

“We had a lot of incentives for solar,” says Peter Lowenthal, a former solar contractor and currently executive director of the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association. “We had an Anne Arundel County tax credit, we had a beautiful Harford County program. Then we worked hard and got the Maryland state tax credit, which was 15 percent of the price of the system with a $1,000 cap on it.”

But this first wave of solar enthusiasm subsided. During the 1980s, oil prices dropped from their ’70s peaks and stabilized; memories of blocks-long lines for gasoline faded and even natural-gas prices fell. When the previous owners of the Yuhas’ house had the roof redone in the late ’90s, the solar hot-water system was removed and never replaced. President Ronald Reagan dismantled the solar hot-water system installed by his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, on the White House roof; Congress allowed the federal solar tax credit to expire in 1985. State and local incentive programs also fell by the wayside.

But with the recent deregulation of utility companies, a sharp rise in energy prices, and growing concerns over greenhouse gases, solar is making a comeback. And the systems themselves have benefited from years of subsequent research and development. During solar’s first heyday, the focus was primarily on systems that harnessed the heat of the sun’s rays to warm living spaces or heat water. A new generation of more efficient solar electric systems turns sunlight directly into current. The light strikes the photovoltaic panels, which contain arrays of silicon chips. The photons of sunlight stimulate electrons in the material of the chips, generating movement by chains of electrons—electricity. The electricity then travels through an inverter, which translates the direct current (DC) from the solar panels into alternating current (AC) for use in the nearest wall outlet.

The 20 solar electric panels on the Yuhas’ roof have the capacity to produce 3.2 kilowatts of electricity—enough to provide an estimated 30 percent of their house’s annual needs. “There’s no moving parts and no real maintenance,” Yuhas says. “The only activity we have is to occasionally watch the meter spin backward.”

So if it’s so simple and so efficient, why doesn’t everyone have a solar electric system on the roof? In a word, money. The Yuhas’ solar panels cost $30,000. Even with a $3,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration’s solar program, the savings from the system could take up to 20 years to make up the costs. (Solar advocates point out that investment in solar also enhances home value.)

“Some people use their money to buy a Lexus because that makes them happy,” Yuhas says. “We spent our money on what makes us happy.”

For now, the expense confines the happiness that comes from solar electric systems to affluent homeowners. Little surprise, then, that much of the solar business in Maryland today is largely being conducted in well-to-do, environmentally conscious communities like Annapolis, Takoma Park, and Columbia.

But the Yuhas’ investment in solar energy provides more than an individual benefit. Despite any loss in revenue for BGE and its parent corporation, Constellation Energy, the electricity generated by the Yuhas’ panels actually frees up BGE’s electricity for other uses during “peak” hours—the time during a summer afternoon, say, when the system is under the most strain from air conditioning and when electric plants are serving up the most expensive electric watts. If solar systems’ like the Yuhas’ proliferated throughout the state, it could result in greater flexibility for BGE and savings for its customers.

The communal savings from air pollution also are considerable. According to the BP Solar Calculator, a system like the Yuhas’ in a Baltimore-area ZIP code would eliminate the annual release of more than three and a half tons of carbon dioxide, 41 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and over 17 pounds of nitrogen oxide, greenhouse gases that contribute to acid rain, smog, particulate pollution, and global warming. The benefit to air quality, BP Solar calculates, is “equivalent to planting one acre of trees.”

Just around the bend from the Yuhas’ home sits Constellation’s Brandon Shores coal-fired electric plant. While achieving substantial reductions in its pollutant output over the past decade, in 2003 Brandon Shores still emitted more than 8 million tons of carbon dioxide, 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and more than 13,000 tons of nitrogen oxide.

A nonprofit group called Clear the Air issued a report, “Dirty Air, Dirty Power,” in June 2004 that calculated the casualty count from power-plant pollution. Using a methodology accepted by all sides, its count for the toll from Maryland plants was 687 premature deaths, 1,014 nonfatal heart attacks, and 17,325 asthma attacks each year.

The economic and environmental community benefits have inspired lawmakers at the national level to boost solar. There is a solar tax credit contained in the national energy bill now in conference committee in Congress. The Senate version proposes a 30 percent credit, while the House version features a 15 percent credit. Even if a tax credit of 15 percent emerges in the final bill, it would mean thousands of dollars saved by a typical homeowner installing a solar system.

Yet Maryland’s solar program lags badly behind other states. California has the biggest, most aggressive solar initiative underway: With Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support, a bill is moving through the legislature that would finance a million solar electric roofs. But even neighboring jurisdictions such as Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., have much more advanced solar programs than Maryland does.

The debate over Maryland’s solar program has been conducted quietly and mostly without public attention, and with all sides claiming to be