It offers some of the nation's most lucrative incentives to reuse blighted land, but some developers and affordable housing advocates say New York's landmark brownfields cleanup legislation is becoming better known so far as a source of bureaucratic headaches and legal confusion.
As of last week, 278 applications have been received for the Brownfields Cleanup Program, including 25 on Long Island, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Of those, 193 have been approved to enter the process and 21 projects were deemed ineligible.
The state has so far issued three "certificates of completion" to cleaned sites, including one in Queens, entitling them to be reimbursed for a share of their building costs.
"Extremely slow start"
DEC officials have characterized those numbers as "significant progress." But with 450,000 potential sites, 6,800 of them on Long Island, others are calling the pace disappointing. The cleanup program was signed into law in October 2003.
New York's brownfields program is targeted at idled, abandoned or underutilized industrial sites and service stations that are unattractive to investors because of contamination or the perception of it. It offers developers liability protections and flexible cleanup standards based on how the land is to be used, along with three types of tax credits that range up to 22 percent of the cost of the new development.
But attorneys and consultants complained of cumbersome review procedures that include as many as seven public comment periods and costly, unpredictable delays because of limited state agency staff, which makes banks leery about extending loans.
For investors weighing whether they can profit from a brownfields project, it's become clear that "hard" costs of cleanup are only part of the expense, said Great Neck environmental attorney Suzanne Avena: They also need to budget for research, oversight, expediting and legal fees, permit work and "delays, delays, delays," she said. And with heightened recent concern about the health risks of toxic soil vapors, "there's a lot more data being requested than we might have expected."
KeySpan, which had filed 25 applications to include cleanups of some of its old manufactured gas plants and other New York facilities in the brownfields program, withdrew those applications last year, citing uncertainty about how it would affect the utility's ability to pursue damages from other polluters. It has said it may seek to re-enter the program later.
In Smithtown, an application by Cherokee Arker Kings Park Llc to clean up part of the old state psychiatric hospital facility in Kings Park under the brownfields program was approved by the state in May 2005. But the agreement has never been signed by Cherokee, which withdrew its mixed-use redevelopment proposal amid vociferous resident opposition and later filed suit to force the state to go through with the sale.
Rockville Center wrangle
In Rockville Centre, developers proposing an $85-million, 230-condominium complex on the former Darby drug warehouse site have been accepted into the brownfields program to clean up perchloroethene under the land. The developers won a smart-growth award, but residents have united to oppose their proposal, which is pending before the planning board.
Critics say the brownfields cleanup program's tax credits, so appetizing to developers, threaten to be so costly to the state that it has forced the DEC to narrow eligibility criteria, which some fear will hurt smaller projects in economically marginal areas.
"The state is soon going to be hemorrhaging dollars to pay for uncapped tax credits with absolutely no relationship to need - zero," said Jodi Kass, co-director of the nonprofit New Partners for Community Revitalization, which builds affordable housing on brownfields sites and fought hard for this law. She just learned a pending application in New Cassel is likely to be turned down.
Sarah Lansdale, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, said last week that some brownfields redevelopment is simply bypassing the state incentive program because it's not worth the trouble, and other developers are still choosing to skip all the headaches and build on "greenfields" or never-developed land.
"Time is money"
"Time is money - it's these delays which add to the expense of redeveloping ..." Lansdale said. "The market is still not working perfectly."
BY ELIZABETH MOORE
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
This collection of specially commissioned papers pays tribute to Karl-Gustaf Löfgren’s significant and diverse contribution to theoretical and empirical research within the field of environmental and resource economics over the past two decades.
A number of distinguished scholars examine a broad range of topics including sustainability, risk and uncertainty, demand theory and issues related to public goods. The book also contains analyses of more specific resource problems concerning fisheries, forestry management, wildlife and pollution.
Contributors: T. Aronsson, K. Backlund, B.M. Balk, P. Berck, O. Bergland, R. Brännlund, R. Färe, I.M. Favada, A. Fisher, H. Folmer, S. Grosskopf, C. Håkansson, W.M. Hanemann, G. Heal, H.P. Hess, L. Hultkrantz, P.-O. Johansson, B. Kriström, J. Kuuluvainen, C.-Z. Li, M. Lindmark, K.-G. Mäler, U. Narain, K.H. Pham Do, T. Puu, R. Ready, E. Romstad, J.F. Shogren, T. Sjögren, T. Stamland, J. Uusivuori, M.L. Weitzman, M. Wikström
Edited by Thomas Aronsson, Professor of Economics, Roger Axelsson, Associate Professor of Economics and Runar Brännlund, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Umeå University, Sweden
368 pages hardback $145.00/$116.00
ISBN 13 978 1 84542 649 1
Edward Elgar Publishing www.e-elgar.co.uk
As part of a recently published book edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon, and James E. Moore II, this chapter presents a cost-benefit analysis of scanning 100 percent of incoming seaborne cargo containers at U.S. ports.
Currently, approximately 5 percent of containers arriving at U.S. seaports are inspected, first by scanning with an x-ray or gamma ray device, followed by hand inspection in some cases. Congress is currently debating proposals to require that all incoming cargo containers be scanned.
This analysis considers three strategies for 100 percent scanning: the application of currently available technology, the application of technology with a faster rate of scanning, and the application of faster and more accurate technology that reduces the number of physical inspections that are required. The cost analysis includes equipment acquisition, operations and maintenance, and freight delays. The benefit of a policy is the avoidance of a terrorist attack of a certain magnitude, measured in terms of total economic damage.
The authors find that 100 percent scanning of inbound containers is not feasible with current technology because of the space and personnel requirements associated with the scanning and hand inspection stations. As technology and processes are improved, reducing the requirements for physical inspections, these policies appear to be cost effective when the consequences of a terrorist attack via a container approach $10 billion.
By Susan E. Martonosi, David S. Ortiz and Henry H. Willis
INSURANCE products linked to climate change may be introduced in Australia.
Bruce Thomas, a sustainability expert with reinsurer Swiss Re, told The Age he expected Australia to follow other countries where insurance had taken account of the effects of global warming.
"There are certain amounts of warming that are already built into the global climate system," Mr Thomas said. "The in-built increases in temperature as a result of CO 2 emissions that have already occurred mean that even if we do something dramatic starting today, or even next year, we will still see warming, and therefore likely climate change, during the first half of the 21st century."
Swiss Re joined Westpac, Insurance Australia Group, Origin Energy, BP, Visy and the Australian Conservation Foundation last month in a statement attempting to raise the corporate profile of carbon awareness.
But Mr Thomas said business interest in climate change was not soft or altruistic. Trends in environmental economics, including trading of carbon credits, offered opportunities for the financial services industry to create products and price the new risks.
Insurance companies buy risks — for example, the risk that a house may burn down or a car may be stolen — from people and companies. When a large number of policies representing a basket of risks has accumulated, reinsurers buy the bundle and sell it back to a market, usually as bonds. This disperses the risk of one company collapsing, protecting consumers.
Mr Thomas said markets had struggled to price carbon emissions, but consensus was growing. Swiss Re last year joined the Chicago Climate Exchange, where it trades greenhouse gas emissions.
"Boards and directors of management of companies will look at ways of gaining either an advantage or looking at ways they can deal with it at a price," Mr Thomas said. "If carbon has a price of zero, then in some ways (emission awareness) is just a feel-good type of thing.
"But if carbon has a price, someone responsible for emissions of 1000 tonnes a year can look at mitigation strategies."
ACF's sustainability program manager Erwin Jackson said pricing risks had caused ructions among business, environmentalists and governments for decades.
He said there was no clear, long-term framework to give industries the confidence to invest large sums to reduce emissions.
"If you're a company that wants to build a gas-fired power station, for example, you can't justify it to your board because you don't know what the price of carbon is going to be in the future," he said.
"If you're a bank wanting to assess the carbon liabilities of a company that you are going to invest in, you can't properly assess the risks associated with future climate policy."
The price of emitted carbon has troubled economists seeking to develop a a carbon trading market. Mr Jackson said economic literature on the subject had arrived at a mid-range price of about $50 a tonne of carbon, but some estimates put the price as high as $600 a tonne.
By Marc Moncrief
The Age www.theage.com.au (Australia)
Multi-objective optimization of net energy, external costs of environment pollutant-emissions, and cost of using cassava-based fuel ethanol as an alternative automotive fuel in Guangxi has been conducted based on its holistic life cycle, from feedstock production to fuel combustion. A new indicator, cost of net energy (CNE), linking net energy-yield, external cost of environment pollutant-emissions, and production cost (the lower the CNE reading, the better the total performance) of ethanol–gasoline blends, is proposed for carrying out multi-objective optimization. On the life-cycle basis, CNE of ethanol–gasoline blends is found to obtain its lowest value, i.e. 0.119 RMB/MJ, when processing fuel during the ethanol conversion stage was natural gas and the ratio of ethanol blended with gasoline was 5%. From the standpoint of the CNE indicator, the most viable implement form of cassava-based fuel ethanol should be used as one of oxygenate additives. The recommended processing fuel during ethanol conversion stage should be natural gas.
Keywords: Energy; Environment; Cost; Life cycle multi-objective optimization; Cassava-based ethanol; Guangxi; China
by Zhiyuan Hu 1, Piqiang Tan 1, and Gengqiang Pu 2
1. Automotive School, Tongji University, 4800 Caoan Road, Shanghai 201804, PR China; Tel./fax: +86 21 69589981
2. School of Mechanical and Power Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 1954 Huashan Road, Shanghai 200030, PR China
Applied Energy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 83, Issue 8; August 2006; pages 819-840
Using a hedonic pricing model, this paper investigates the responsiveness of residential property values in a well-defined inner-city neighborhood of Kenosha, Wisconsin, to the presence of two small former industrial sites contaminated by various environmental pollutants, or brownfields, and a local neighborhood park, or greenspace. Using readily available data on sales and assessments for residential property in close proximity to the brownfields and the greenspace, we estimate well-behaved and statistically significant property value gradients with respect to the park, the environmental amenity, and the brownfields, the environmental disamenities. These functions are then used to estimate the possible impact that brownfield remediation may have on total property value. We estimate that remediation and redevelopment of the brownfields into greenspaces would increase property values for the 890 neighborhood residences between $2.40 and $7.01 million. These results suggest that small brownfields have a measurable impact on property values and that readily accessible data can be used to help local policymakers make decisions on remediation issues.
Keywords Brownfields - Greenspace - residential property values - Hedonic pricing
by Dennis A. Kaufman and Norman R. Cloutier; University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI, USA; and
The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics via SpringerLink www.SpringerLink.com
ISSN: 0895-5638 (Paper) 1573-045X (Online)
Volume 33, Number 1; August, 2006; pages 19-30
The result presented in this paper shows that the Volvo plant can decrease its electricity use by 44% by making the use of electricity more efficient and converting from oil and electricity to district heating for hot tap-water, space heating and cooling. The increased demand of district heating makes investing in a new planned CHP and cooperation between the Volvo plant and the local energy utility production cost fall by 46% at current unit electricity price and by 64% when calculating with a European unit electricity price and investment in an optimised CHP system instead of the planned plant. The study furthermore shows that the global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon-dioxide will be reduced by 350% a year if the two energy-supply measures are taken and the electricity unit prices are at a European level.
Keywords: CHP; Co-operation; Deregulated electricity market; District heating; Electricity price; Emission trading
by Louise Trygg, Alemayehu Gebremedhin and Björn G. Karlsson; Division of Energy Systems, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Linköping Institute of Technology, S-581 83 Linköping, Sweden; Tel.: +46 13 281000; fax: +46 13 281788.
Applied Energy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 83, Issue 8; August 2006, pages 801-818
Ever since President Bush's State of the Union vow to break America's addiction to oil, interest in the corn-based fuel ethanol has soared.
A giant grain company just hired a top oil executive to be its new chief executive officer, the IRS is giving tax breaks for the installation of ethanol pumps, and even Wall Street investment banks are getting into the game.
But don't write off gasoline yet. For the foreseeable future, ethanol is most likely to remain only a blending agent, mixed into gasoline to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil only modestly.
Numerous hurdles stand in the way before consumers can choose between ethanol and gasoline, chief among them creating a distribution system from scratch.
More than 200,000 miles of oil, gasoline and natural-gas pipelines snake across the continental United States. But because ethanol absorbs water from gasoline and oil and can become contaminated, few pipeline operators are eager to push it through their vast networks.
To compete with gasoline, ethanol producers would have to build a parallel national pipeline network.
"To build a brand-new system like that would be an extreme challenge, and not just from a financial standpoint," said Raymond Paul, spokesman for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.
Today, most major oil pipelines originate along the Gulf Coast, where drilling is concentrated and where the bulk of the nation's oil imports arrive.
By contrast, ethanol production is concentrated in the Midwest, far from the big consumer markets on the East and West Coasts. Most of the ethanol produced today moves in tank trucks or on railcars, in what the ethanol industry calls a "virtual" pipeline that costs more than moving gasoline through pipelines.
The costs of creating a parallel distribution system would be staggering. Paul estimates that a continuing expansion of the oil-pipeline system currently costs about $1 million per mile.
That is not to say that ethanol cannot help America kick its oil habit.
Virtually any car on the road today can run on gasoline containing up to 10 percent ethanol. Most oil companies already blend a good bit of ethanol into their product. Shell USA estimates that 30 percent of the gasoline it sold last year contained ethanol, and late last year that figure climbed above 40 percent.
But there is a long way to go before ethanol can challenge gasoline.
Today, fewer than 650 fuel stations sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. That is a minuscule number considering that roughly five million flex-fuel vehicles are on U.S. roads today - cars, pickups and SUVs that can run on either gasoline or ethanol. Most are powered by gasoline, as are the other 195 million cars on America's roads.
Enter next-generation ethanol.
Next-generation ethanol technologies could allow ethanol to be made from corn, sugarcane, naturally growing prairie grasses, and virtually any kind of plant or plant waste. Backers see potential for 100 billion gallons of unconventional ethanol.
Cellulosic ethanol, or biomass, involves biologically produced enzymes that can break down virtually any plant fiber into a final ethanol product. The drawback has been the inability to produce those enzymes cheaply on a massive scale.
Two companies - Genentech Inc. of San Francisco, Calif., and Iogen Corp. in the Canadian capital
Iogen announced on May 1 that Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs & Co. had given it a vote of confidence by taking a $27 million minority stake in the company.
But this boomlet could bust.
Cambridge Energy Research Associates warns that by 2010, there could be so much new oil coming to market that prices could drop sharply. That could rob ethanol of its urgency.
by Kevin G. Hall
FOR FULL STORY GO TO
The Philadelphia Inquirer www.philly.com
In this paper Steven A. Gabriel, José A. Faria, and Glenn E. Moglen apply a multiobjective optimization model of Smart Growth to land development. The term Smart Growth is meant to describe development strategies—that do not promote urban sprawl. However, the term is somewhat open to interpretation. The multiobjective aspects arise when considering the conflicting interests of the various stakeholders involved in land development decisions: the government planner, the environmentalist, the conservationist, and the land developer. The authors present a formulation—employing linear and convex quadratic objective functions subject to polyhedral and binary constraints for the stakeholders. The resulting optimization problems are convex, quadratic mixed integer programs that are NP-complete. They report numerical results with this model for Montgomery County, Maryland, and present them using a geographic information system (GIS).
Keywords: Multiple objective programming; Integer programming; Quadratic programming; Smart Growth; Large Scale Optimization; Geographic Information System; Land use planning
by Steven A. Gabriel 1 2, José A. Faria 1, and Glenn E. Moglen 1
1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland, 1143 Martin Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Tel.: +1 301 405 3242; fax: +1 301 405 2585
2. Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Socio-Economic Planning Sciences via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 40, Issue 3; September 2006; pages 212-248
After purchasing 520 acres of land adjacent to the existing, capped landfill at 1481 Pueblo Road, McPherson County must now decide in the long term whether the county will continue to transfer its trash out of the county or to take the steps needed to use the recently purchased land for expansion of a Subtitle D Municipal Solid Waste Landfill.
Bill Ridge, general manager of the McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility (M.A.S.W.U.), and John Hawk, operations manager for M.A.S.W.U., presented an application for a conditional use permit (CUP) to establish a Subtitle D landfill on the 520 acres adjacent to the existing landfill at the monthly meeting of the McPherson County Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals held Monday evening at the Bank of America, fifth floor.
After capping and closing most of the existing landfill six years ago (which was privately owned until M.A.S.W.U. took over ownership and management in 1991), McPherson County solid waste has been transferred out of county to either the City of Salina Landfill or to the Reno County Landfill. Only a small area of the old landfill remains open for construction and demolition materials. McPherson County currently transfers an average amount of 85 tons of solid waste per day.
“We have seen a continuing growth in the amount of trash we generate in McPherson County,” said Hawk, who predicted that disposal costs at out-of-county facilities will continue to increase and that fuel costs will influence higher trucking costs, making transfer of solid waste to out-of--county landfills more expensive in the future. Reno County's tipping costs have increased from $22 per ton to $25 per ton in six years. Hawk said Salina city commissioners considered raising tipping fees this past year.
“Last year (disposal costs) we had total costs that were close to about $700,000 we paid Reno County and the City of Salina Landfills. We projected those costs over the next five years....You can see, even conservatively, those costs head up to close to $900,000 close to a million dollars per year to give to those counties or the City of Salina over the next five years...and that is every single year,” said Hawk.
Hawk anticipated trucking costs will increase from a cost of about $200,000 per year to $300,000 per year over a five-year period because of fuel costs.
Hawk said another reason for the county to develop its own landfill is so that in the future McPherson County can control its own destiny, both to ensure that there is always a guaranteed location for McPherson County to dispose of its solid waste and to ensure that the solid waste is managed and disposed of safely.
Ridge stated that the initial expansion and establishment of a Subtitle D Landfill should cost $4 million, with $1 million of that cost to be paid for relocation of a stream along the property. M.A.S.W.U. is currently working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a plan for relocating the stream south to meander near the property boundary at Pueblo Road, dependent upon approval of the CUP application.
Several concerned citizens expressed worries about their property values decreasing as a result of expanding the landfill. These citizens also expressed concerns about increased blowing debris, possible contamination of water supplies to their residences, and increased traffic on the county roads which provide access to their residences.
By KERRI SNELL
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
Mcpherson Sentinel www.mcphersonsentinel.com
Leave it to a prospective MBA student to thoroughly analyze the costs and benefits of going to graduate school. Before Steinar Knutsen made the decision to go after a business degree, he whipped up a spreadsheet to evaluate how long it would take for the investment to pay off. Harder to weigh, though, were some of the choices he and his wife, Liz, would have to make before he launched into two years of all-consuming study in August 2000.
First, the dollars and cents that Steinar cranked into his spreadsheet: Two years of tuition at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, totaled $74,000. A scholarship and financial aid halved that amount, but the cost of books added another $1,400 each year. And housing expenses up north would be 50% higher than they had been paying in North Carolina. Then there was the opportunity cost: Two full years of Steinar's salary, totaling nearly $90,000, would be gone forever--not to mention the $2,700 his employer would have kicked in to his 401(k) account.
But Steinar figured that his earnings with an MBA would be at least 75% greater than what he earned at his old job training salespeople. He calculated that those higher earnings would pay off the investment within three to five years. After that, the numbers would all be in the black.
Some costs, however, weren't so easily quantified: The Knutsens had to consider whether Liz could find a job that would pay enough to support both of them. Luckily, she had little trouble landing a good job as a media buyer for an insurance company in Cleveland. And her health benefits cover them both.
Plotting the payoff. Even a law degree doesn't always economically justify the heavy debt load a student takes on, according to Sandy Baum, who chairs the economics department at Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A study she did for the Nellie Mae Foundation showed that students who borrow for graduate studies, especially those in expensive professional programs such as law or medicine, are likely to have unusually high debt burdens--an average of $45,700 when you combine graduate and undergraduate loans. High monthly debt payments after graduation are not always offset by comparably high salaries.
For example, PhD candidates in low-paying fields, such as most of the humanities, understand from the beginning that they can't count on a big earnings boost to pay off their degree.
By Elizabeth Razzi
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
Kiplinger Magazine via Yahoo Business http://biz.yahoo.com/kiplinger
Growing electricity demands within the next century imply an expansion in the current power plant fleet. The achievement of the above, coupled with the need for significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a challenging task. Cleaner, more efficient fossil fuel based power plant designs, combined with CO2 capture technologies constitute an attractive option to meet this challenge in the near to medium term. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants have the lowest carbon dioxide emissions among coal power plants. When combined with a CO2 physical absorption system, substantial GHG emissions reductions can be attained. Depending on the degree of capture, the emissions can match or become less than those of natural gas fired combined cycle (NGCC) power plants.
This paper is a technical and economic comparison of the performance of five plant designs in the 500 MW output range: IGCC without CO2 capture, IGCC with 80% capture, IGCC with CO2 emissions equal to those of a NGCC, IGCC with CO2 and H2S co-capture, and NGCC without capture. ASPEN Plus™ models of the above plants were developed and the following plant performance results are discussed: net power output, efficiency, plant ancillary energy requirements and overall CO2 emissions. Economic evaluations for all cases are presented, including the cost methodology and economic basis. The capital investment, cost of electricity and carbon dioxide mitigation costs for all plants are detailed and compared.
The simulation results show that the economics favour higher capture levels in new IGCC plants. The CO2 mitigation costs corresponding to IGCC plants with 80% capture are slightly lower than those corresponding to IGCC plants with equal emissions to those of NGCC plants (28 vs. 30 US$/tonne CO2 avoided). The capital cost difference (per kW of net installed capacity) between the above plants is 7%, while the CO2 emissions of the former are almost half those of the latter. IGCC plants with CO2 and H2S co-capture have substantial technoeconomic advantages over IGCC plants that capture CO2 and H2S separately. Based on a 577 MW IGCC, the power output decreases only to 552 MW for the co-capture case, whereas it drops to 488 MW when CO2 and H2S are captured separately. The incremental capital cost of co-capture plants is 6%, and their electricity production cost increase is less than half a cent, with respect to an IGCC without capture. The CO2 mitigation cost of co-capture plants is at least four times lower than their separate CO2 and H2S capture counterparts.
Keywords: IGCC; CO2 capture; CO2 emissions reduction; CO2/H2S co-capture
by Guillermo Ordorica-Garcia 1, Peter Douglas 1, Eric Croiset 1, and Ligang Zheng 2
1. Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave. West, Waterloo, Ont., Canada N2L 3G1; Tel.: +1 519 888 4567x6472; fax: +1 519 746 4979
2. CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Natural Resources Canada, 1 Haanel Rd., Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1A 1M1
Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16; September 2006; pages 2250-2259
Bio-fuels are important because they replace petroleum fuels. There are many benefits for the environment, economy and consumers in using bio-fuels. Bio-oil can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels to generate heat, power and/or chemicals. Upgrading of bio-oil to a transportation fuel is technically feasible, but needs further development. Bio-fuels are made from biomass through thermochemical processes such as pyrolysis, gasification, liquefaction and supercritical fluid extraction or biochemical. Biochemical conversion of biomass is completed through alcoholic fermentation to produce liquid fuels and anaerobic digestion or fermentation, resulting in biogas. In wood derived pyrolysis oil, specific oxygenated compounds are present in relatively large amounts. Basically, the recovery of pure compounds from the complex bio-oil is technically feasible but probably economically unattractive because of the high costs for recovery of the chemical and its low concentration in the oil.
Keywords: Biomass; Bio-conversion; Bio-fuel; Bio-oil; Biogas; Chemicals; Ethanol; Bio-diesel
M.F. Demirbas 1 and Mustafa Balat 2
1. P. K. 216, 61035 Trabzon, Turkey; Tel.: +90 462 230 7831; fax: +90 462 248 8508
2. Polatoglu ap Kat 6, Besikduzu, Trabzon, Turkey
Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16 , September 2006, Pages 2371-2381
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has developed an online Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator, which enables meat and food processors to calculate the potential economic impact of food-borne illnesses. Processors can examine the impact of different assumptions on cost estimates and risk rankings, and change these assumptions to reflect any specific information about disease incidence, medical costs, productivity losses, or disutility. By changing the number of cases, processors can calculate the costs of food-borne illness for a particular state or region, or for a particular food-borne illness outbreak. The ERS estimates of the costs of illness and premature death for a number of food-borne illnesses have been used in regulatory cost-benefit and impact analyses. Like all cost estimates, the ERS estimates include assumptions about disease incidence, outcome severity, and the level of medical, productivity, and disutility costs. Changes to any of these assumptions could change the cost estimates and, as a result, change the way policymakers rank risks, prioritize spending, and formulate food safety policies. The Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator provides information on the assumptions behind food-borne illness cost estimates—and gives processors the opportunity to make assumptions and calculate cost estimates.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service www.ers.usda.gov
Tupelo Mississippi would save millions of dollars by moving several miles of railroad tracks outside its busiest areas, according to the feasibility phase of a three-year study to relocate the tracks.
That phase, which started in August and ended last week, was to determine whether the benefits of moving the tracks would outweigh its costs.
The conclusion: They would. Moving the tracks would save Tupelo more than $800 million by 2030 just by eliminating the need to stop traffic for each train. Gas consumption, worker salaries and other factors helped determine that figure, said Wayne Parrish, the study's planning manager at the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
"And that's just the cost of the delay to the waiting public," he said. "If you figure out the other benefits for relocation, then your cost-benefit projection looks real good."
The results of the entire feasibility report will be made available to the public soon.
City leaders for years have called for a solution to mounting train traffic through Tupelo, where Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern tracks cross several downtown intersections.
BNSF runs an average of 26 trains a day through the city; KCS runs about six. Many come during Tupelo's peak traffic hours, stalling vehicles for blocks.
The first phase's findings mean the $2.2 million study will move to the next step. Had the phase found the project unfeasible, the study would have ended there.
by Emily Le Coz
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
The Northeast Missippi Daily Journal www.djournal.com
The environment and industry ministers are against the Finance Ministry's plan to impose a green tax on businesses because they believe it will do little to improve the country's environment.
State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday he had never been consulted over the environmental tax.
Rachmat said he was of the opinion the tax had nothing to do with efforts to preserve the environment. Calling the tax an "internal matter" of the Finance Ministry, Rachmat told the Post his office would continue protecting the environment under the 1997 law.
Sri Hudyastuti, an environment ministry expert in green economics, said if the tax was to work, the Finance Ministry would have to prove the money collected through the tax would go to sustainable management programs. The ministry would also have to establish an independent body in charge of monitoring the tax's management, she said.
Announced last week under the proposed amendments to the Regional Taxes and Charges Law, the levy would be imposed by regencies and municipalities on manufacturing companies with annual sales of more than Rp 300 million (about US$33,000). It would be levied at a maximum rate of 0.5 percent of firms' total production costs.
The Finance Ministry said revenues produced by the tax would be used to fund local environmental programs and would fund the building and maintenance of waste treatment facilities.
Bandung University of Technology professor of environmental economics Surna T. Djajadiningrat said the plan was "impractical" because the country had no accountable tax agency to ensure the tax's effectiveness.
by Arie Rukmantara
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.com
On a quiet, dead-end road that runs along the rim of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, there is a gaping, though little-known, city embarrassment.
In 1996, a landslide on the east side of El Cerrito's Wildcat Drive tore away a large chunk of the roadway. The remaining lane of roadway was stabilized with heavy steel beams, and there is enough room for cars and delivery trucks to squeak by.
However, the city of El Cerrito has no intention of repairing the slide-damaged road or shoring up the hillside, City Manager Scott Hanin said, because the public has been rather reserved on the matter.
There are only about five homes beyond the collapsed roadway and next to no traffic. In addition, Hanin said, it's simply too expensive to fix.
"We did a cost benefit analysis two years ago, and it just didn't make sense," he said. "The estimate was $1 (million) or $2 million, and we're looking at $10 (million) to $20 million in necessary road repairs citywide. It's not that I'm unsympathetic, but we just don't have enough money to fix everything."
by John Geluardi
CONTRA COSTA TIMES www.contracostatimes.com
When a building is subject for refurbishment, there is a golden opportunity to change its behavior as an energy system. This paper shows the importance of careful investigations of the processes, the climate shield and the heating systems already present in the building before measures are implemented in reality. A case study is presented dealing with a carpentry factory. The building is poorly insulated according to standards today, and initially it was assumed that a better thermal shield would be of vital importance in order to reach optimal conditions. Instead, it is shown that the main problem is the ordinary heating system. This uses steam from a wood chips boiler and the wood chips come from the manufacturing processes. These wood chips are, therefore, a very cheap fuel. The boiler had, during decades of use, slowly degraded into a poor state. Hence, aero-tempers using expensive electricity have been installed to remedy the situation. These use not only expensive kWh but also very expensive kW due to the electricity tariff. It is shown that electricity for heating purposes must be abandoned and further, that this could be achieved at a surprisingly small cost. By stopping a large waste of steam, it was possible to find resources, in the form of unspent money, for further mending the existing heating system. Not only economy but also environmental hazards in the form of CO2 emissions urges us to abandon electricity and instead use heat from cheap biomass fired boilers. Such equipment saves environment at the same time it saves money.
Keywords: Industry; Buildings; Steam; Electricity; Processes; Optimisation
by Stig-Inge Gustafsson; Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Division Energy Systems, SE581 83 Linköping, Sweden; Tel.: +46 13 281156; fax: +46 13 281788.
Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16; September 2006; pages 2223-2239
"I want to be able to say proudly that as builders, we're environmentalists," says developer John Wesley Miller.
Southern Arizona may be the sunshine capital of the country, but when it comes to electricity, that doesn't mean much. However, the Arizona Corporation Commission wants to significantly increase the production of "renewable" energy like solar power--a move which could cost utility customers substantially.
For a decade, the commission has required the state's electricity providers to produce a tiny fraction of their power from renewable resources such as solar, wind or landfill gas. While the target for last year was only 1 percent of total energy sold, with 60 percent of that coming from solar facilities, none of Arizona's utility companies could achieve the goal. Tucson Electric Power came closest, meeting about two-thirds of the target.
Despite the shortfall, the commission in March radically raised the standards. Listing advantages such as future reliability, as well as price comparisons with other fuel sources, the ACC voted to slowly increase the renewable energy requirement to 15 percent by 2025.
TEP has already invested more than $32 million on developing renewable energy, including burning methane gas from the Los Reales landfill at its coal-fired plant on South Palo Verde Road. It has also installed one of the world's largest "solar" farms, a 44-acre facility in Springerville, Ariz.
Even though the Corporation Commission permits utility companies to collect a small environmental energy surcharge from their customers, TEP has still lost in excess of $7 million in the renewable-electricity business.
To meet its recently expanded goals, the commission will allow TEP to increase the monthly surcharge, suggesting a household figure of $1.05, or triple the current allowance. Given the ACC renewable energy mandate, Salkowski says the company believes the figure will have to be even higher than that.
How these additional funds will be spent by the utility remains under discussion, but Salkowski points out the commission is placing great emphasis on "distributed generation." This category of energy production can include a number of renewable sources, but is often associated with solar collectors located at a customer's home.
The ACC has mandated that within six years, 30 percent of its new energy standard must be met by this type of electricity, with half being supplied from residential locations. Presently, however, TEP produces only a minuscule amount of power from residential "distributed generation."
The utility has two programs in place to encourage this type of energy. One of them is GreenWatts, a fund into which TEP customers can voluntarily pay to invest in renewable sources of power. With approximately 1,500 participants, TEP has received more than $310,000 in "green" revenue.
The utility's other program is SunShare, which helps people buy solar equipment and pays for any excess energy they provide to the company. Despite the financial incentives, less than 200 households have taken advantage of this program.
Valerie Rauluk, a solar consultant and member of the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission, criticizes TEP for its shortcomings with "distributed generation." She believes the company must do much more to encourage individual participation.
"To date, TEP has been more interested in building large (renewable energy) facilities on its own property," Rauluk says. "Arizona Public Service (of Phoenix) has set a customer rebate level that made more sense. It was $4 a watt compared to $2.70 for TEP. Plus, it was easier to participate in the APS program, so they had no problem getting customers."
Salkowski disputes those figures, pointing out that both have been lowered recently, and that program participants largely chose the equipment purchase subsidy, not the electrical rebate. He also emphasizes that, on a percentage basis, TEP has more solar customers involved than APS.
By DAVE DEVINE
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
Tucson Weekly www.tucsonweekly.com
Twenty-four percent (24%) of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) shareholders supported the Free Enterprise Action Fund's shareholder proposal concerning the bank's lobbying priorities at JPM's annual general meeting on May 16.
Following the vote, JPM Chairman William Harrison agreed to engage in dialogue with the Free Enterprise Action Fund regarding the company's pursuit of greenhouse gas regulations.
Tom Borelli, a portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund (http://www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com) and Deneen Moore, an individual investor in the FEAF, pressed JPM's chairman to justify the company's lobbying priorities. In 2005, JPM voluntarily agreed to take a leadership position in lobbying for greenhouse gas regulations even though the company has no expertise in the scientific, economic, legal and public policy aspects of climate change. Meanwhile the company is paying outside lawyers over $500 million annually to manage lawsuits that the company feels are without merit. The FEAF's shareholder proposal on Lobbying Priorities asked the company to justify its decision to lobbying for greenhouse gas regulations rather than for litigation reform.
Source: Free Enterprise Action Fund Press Release http://freeenterpriseactionfund.com/release051806.htm
Free Enterprise Action Fund http://freeenterpriseactionfund.com/release051806.htm
Squeezed by rising energy costs and inspired by Hull's two wind turbines, communities south of Boston are looking to the wind to power their schools, municipal buildings, and waste-water treatment plants.
At least half a dozen area towns -- eager to take advantage of the 15 mile-per-hour winds that routinely sweep the coastline -- are, after years of discussion, finally making tangible progress following in Hull's footsteps. They are constructing towers to measure wind, taking votes at Town Meeting to encourage wind energy, and talking to developers about the costs and benefits of the technology at a time of rising gas and electric prices. Several are being helped by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which supports community wind projects.
''I think a lot of people have seen what Hull has done and they see [wind power] in the news, and they say every time I go down to the high school my hat gets blown off," said Brian Kuhn, chairman of the Plymouth Energy Committee.
Public awareness of the technology is at a high point. Not only has Hull's second turbine just come online (joining one that has been spinning on the tip of Hull's peninsula since 2001), but the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 windmill along the Southeast Expressway looms in commuters' peripheral vision. So, too, does the Massachusetts Maritime Academy windmill in Bourne. Add to that the ongoing debate over the 130-turbine Cape Wind project.
Several area towns are testing wind flow -- the first step in turbine construction process -- to decide whether the investment, $2.5 million to $3 million for a 1.5-megawatt windmill, makes sense.
The city of Quincy expects to install wind-monitoring equipment at the police station on Sea Street and at Quarry Hills by the end of the month. Kingston has been monitoring wind direction and speed at its waste-water treatment plant for nine months. The Renewable Energy Committee in Scituate recently received a building permit to install a wind-monitoring tower at its sewage-treatment plant.
At Plymouth's special Town Meeting this Saturday, voters will decide whether to authorize the town to lease land near the waste-water treatment plant, where the Plymouth Energy Committee sees potential for four 2-megawatt turbines. Last week, Wareham voters passed a bylaw to allow windmills to be constructed. Jim Collins, superintendent of the Wareham school district, said the School Committee is working to draft a request for proposals for wind energy at the high school and middle school.
Marshfield's Department of Public Works is beginning to study the feasibility and economics of a windmill at its sewage-treatment plant. Mattapoisett set up a monitoring tower in January.
The Southeastern Massachusetts project closest to completion, according to Warren Leon, director of Mass. Tech Collaborative's Renewable Energy Trust, is a plan for two 1.65-megawatt turbines in Orleans, which could be up by fall.
Interest in wind power comes at a crucial time. Independent System Operator of New England, a nonprofit organization that manages the region's power grid, recently warned that overreliance on natural gas will keep energy prices high, and encouraged the state to diversify its power sources.
Hull seems determined to stay at the front of the pack and is working on a proposal for four additional off-shore windmills. Because that town owns its power grid, the process of building windmills has been easier. Hull's light department was able to buy the turbines and connect them directly to the town's grid, with clear benefits to residents.
Hull's 660-kilowatt turbine, or ''the little guy," was installed in 2001 and has produced over 6 million kilowattt-hours of energy, saving the town an average of $185,000 a year, according to John MacLeod, operations manager of the town's light department. The new 1.8-megawatt machine, installed at the town's landfill this spring, is projected to save half a million dollars each year.
By Carolyn Y. Johnson
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
The Boston Globe www.boston.com
This paper presents a practical and realistic LCC methodology for the LCC-effective optimum design of steel bridges considering the time effect of bridge reliability under environmental stressors such as corrosion and heavy truck traffic. The LCC functions considered in the LCC optimization consist of initial cost, expected life-cycle maintenance cost and expected life-cycle rehabilitation costs including repair/replacement costs, loss of contents or fatality and injury losses, road user costs, and indirect socio-economic losses. For the assessment of the life-cycle rehabilitation costs, the annual probability of failure which depends upon the prior and updated load and resistance histories should be accounted for. For the purpose, the Nowak live load model and a corrosion propagation model considering corrosion initiation, corrosion rate, and repainting effect are adopted in this study. The LCC methodology proposed in the paper is applied to the optimum design problem of an actual steel box girder bridge with three continuous spans, and various sensitivity analyses are performed to investigate the effects of various design parameters and conditions on the LCC-effectiveness. From the numerical investigation, it may be positively expected that the proposed methodology can be effectively utilized for the LCC-effective optimum design of steel bridges.
Keywords: Life-cycle cost; Indirect cost model; Steel bridge; Optimization; Time-variant reliability; Corrosion model
by Kwang-Min Lee 1, Hyo-Nam Cho 2, and Cheol-Jun Cha 3
1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hanyang University, An-San 425-791, Republic of Korea; Tel.: +82 31 400 4027; fax: +82 31 406 5660
2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering Science, Hanyang University, An-San 425-791, Republic of Korea
3. Korea Infrastructure Safety and Technology Corporation, Daehwa-Dong, Koyang-Si, Kyounggi-Do, Republic of Korea
Engineering Structures via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 28, Issue 9; July 2006; pages 1252-1265
This paper is concerned with the link between urban quality improvements and economic activity. A key question is whether improvements in the urban environment which might be achieved, for instance, through pedestrianisation, will affect business location choices - for example, are office or retail businesses particularly keen to locate in more pleasant urban places? The paper outlines the current state of development of the literature with respect to the influence of urban quality on economic activity, and proposes a framework for forecasting economic impacts based on three communities of reference: customers, employees, and the businesses themselves. The results from original modelling of a case study area in Manchester, England are reported and suggest that the positive uplifts that may be expected from environmental improvement programmes may well be on a scale which is significant. The research is obviously important for the urban regeneration and renaissance agendas which posit attractive and well-designed environments as a way to create the right conditions for promoting economic growth.
Keywords: Town centre regeneration; Urban quality; Economic impact; Pedestrianization; Land use/transport interaction models
by Tim Whitehead 1, David Simmonds 2 and John Preston 3
1. Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, 11 Bevington Road, Oxford, England, OX2 6NB, UK
2. David Simmonds Consultancy, Suite 23, Millers Yard, Mill Lane, Cambridge, England, CB2 1RQ, UK
3. Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, 11 Bevington Road, Oxford, England, OX2 6NB, UK
Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 80, Issue 1; July, 2006; pages 1-12
Consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) can be higher for items that are objectively worse than others when it is difficult to evaluate them comparatively on the relevant dimensions. However, it is unclear how the ease of evaluation affects WTP. In order to investigate the antecedents of WTP, we showed participants an underfilled and an overfilled cup containing the same amount of ice cream or orange juice. We asked them to state their WTP and to report how much they liked the servings (Experiment 1) and how large they judged them to be (Experiment 2). When participants could not evaluate the two cups comparatively, they regarded the overfilled one as fuller and they were willing to pay more for it. This replicates previous work. We also found that, regardless of mode of presentation and cup filling, the desirability of the servings and their perceived size both determined the WTP. However, they did so only when these judgements were made explicitly. This suggests that the influence of product features on WTP depends on their being made salient and that this can be done by asking consumers about them.
Keywords: Evaluability; Preference reversals; WTP
JEL classification codes: D81
Psychological classification codes: 2340; 3920
by Nick Sevdalis 1 and Nigel Harvey 2
1. Department of Surgical Oncology and Technology, Imperial College London, 10th floor, QEQM, St. Mary’s Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY, UK; Tel.: +44 020 7886 6567; fax: +44 020 7886 1810
2. Department of Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Journal of Economic Psychology via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 27, Issue 3; June 2006; pages 377-385
In conjunction with ecological performance, a definition to sustainable economic development was proposed, and a novel triangle method was designed to evaluate economic development sustainability, based on the interrelationships among economic development, resource–energy consumption, and environment pollution. As a case study, the triangle method was applied to assess the sustainability status and long-term trends of China's economic development. The results show that economic development in 2000 represents a relatively weak state of sustainability, and that most of the 31 political regions in Mainland China reflect sustainability positions ranging from weakly unsustainable to weakly sustainable. The China's economic development between 1980 and 1991 reveals a rather weak sustainability trend, while that from 1991 to 2000 demonstrates a relatively strong sustainable trend. China's unremitting efforts in environmental protection over the last two decades would be responsible for these status and trends. The triangle method, as an intuitive platform for illustrating sustainability status and trends in economic development, seems to hold promise as an analytical management tool given its simplicity, ease of use, and flexibility.
Keywords: Triangle model; Economic development; Sustainability; Ecological performance; Quantitative evaluation; China
by Fu-Liu Xu 1, Shan-Shan Zhao 1, Richard W. Dawson 2, Jun-Yi Hao 1, Ying Zhang 1 and Shu Tao 1
1. College of Environmental Sciences, MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Process, Peking University, Beijing 100871, PR China; Fax: +86 10 62751938
2. University of Colorado, International College Beijing, Beijing 100083, PR China
Ecological Modelling via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 195, Issues 3-4; 15 June 2006; pages 327-337
Ecological Economics; Volume 57, Issue 4; pages 545-732 (June 2006)
Social and private total Hicksian incomes of multiple use forests in Spain
by Pablo Campos and Alejandro Caparrós
The present national accounting system for forests measures only the commercial flows of the production account and the consumption of durable goods produced by human intervention, and focuses particularly on final output, while ignoring any intermediate output not arising from harvested agricultural crops. Environmental goods and services, whether for public consumption or for the landowner's private use (owner's self-consumption), are ignored in conventional measurements of the net domestic product of forests. This paper presents and applies a forest accounting methodology that overcomes these limitations and allows for homogeneous aggregation of commercial and environmental values (using exchange values, and not welfare measurements, for the latter). We have applied the accounting system proposed here to two major types of multiple-use forest of the Iberian peninsula: Mediterranean forest (Monfragüe cork oak dehesa) and conifer forest (Scottish pine in the Guadarrama mountain range). Our results show that non-commercial incomes are relatively more important in the pine forest under consideration, both in private and in social terms. Cork oak forest is notably more profitable in private terms than pine forest, however. Conventional national accounting measures only 24% and 77% of social total income in Guadarrama Scottish forest and Monfragüe cork oak dehesa, respectively.
Conservation of endangered species: Can incentives work for private landowners?
by Christian Langpap
It has been argued that the traditional regulatory approach of the Endangered Species Act, based on land-use restrictions, has failed to protect endangered species on private land. In response, there has been a call for the use of incentives to complement this regulatory approach. This paper examines the potential of incentives programs to elicit conservation-oriented management choices from landowners. Data obtained from a survey of non-industrial private forest owners in Or. and Washington is used to examine the effectiveness of various incentives. The results indicate that incentives, in particular compensation and assurances, can be effective in increasing the conservation effort provided by landowners. The results also suggest that conservation policy for private lands could be improved by relying on a combination of incentives, including financial incentives and assurances, rather than exclusively on the threat of regulation.
Does ‘better’ discounting lead to ‘worse’ outcomes in long-run decisions? The dilemma of hyperbolic discounting
by Ralph Winkler
The shortcomings of conventional discounting, especially in the context of long-run environmental problems, have been extensively discussed in the literature. Recently, hyperbolic discounting, i. e. discounting at declining instead of constant discount rates, has attracted a lot of interest among both scientists and politicians. Although there are compelling arguments for employing hyperbolic discounting, there are also pitfalls, which have to be pointed out. In this paper I show that the problem of time-inconsistency, an inherent characteristics of hyperbolic discounting, leads to a potential clash between economic efficiency and intergenerational equity. As an example, I refer to the weak progress in the controlling of greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol. As the problem of time-inconsistency cannot be solved on economic grounds alone, there is a need for an intergenerational moral commitment.
Protest beliefs in contingent valuation: Explaining their motivation
by Jürgen Meyerhoff and Ulf Liebe
The definition and treatment of protest responses in contingent valuation (CV) can have a significant influence on the estimated values of the good in question if these responses are censored. In order to understand how protest responses are motivated, in a CV about forest biodiversity in Germany we used an item battery to identify respondents' protest beliefs. The items were measured for all respondents, irrespective of their willingness to pay (WTP) in principle. Then, a scale based on these beliefs is taken as a dependent variable of regression analyses. In addition to environmental concern we used norms, the warm glow of giving and dilemma concern as further explanatory variables. The latter focuses on cooperation problems in protecting the environment. Our results show that protest beliefs are significantly influenced by the explanatory factors. Furthermore, the protest beliefs themselves have a significant effect on the decision to be WTP as well as on the amount of money stated by those who are WTP. The censoring of protest responses may therefore be indefensible.
China's ecological rehabilitation: Unprecedented efforts, dramatic impacts, and requisite policies
by Jintao Xu, Runsheng Yin, Zhou Li and Can Liu
China has undertaken two of the world's largest ecological rehabilitation projects—the Natural Forest Protection Program and the Sloping Land Conversion Program. This paper presents our historic perspective on the two projects, reports their preliminary impacts, and discusses the challenges in carrying them out, including the “top–down” administration, lack of interagency cooperation and long-term planning, and neglect of appropriate technical practices and market-based approaches. We argue that if properly implemented, these projects can contribute to China and the world in combating the pressing environmental problems of soil erosion, flooding, and desertification as well as climate change and loss of biodiversity. To implement the projects properly, however, major policy and technical changes must be made.
Towards sustainable consumption: Economic modelling of mobility and heating for Austria
by Daniela Kletzan, Angela Köppl, Kurt Kratena, Stefan Schleicher and Michael Wüger
The paper focuses on economic modelling and empirical analysis of sustainable structures in private consumption and strives to extend conventional economic consumption models. The model analysis of sustainable consumption in the areas heating and transport for Austria attempts to depart from traditional measurement of consumption in national accounts and economic consumption models. The focus of the analysis is laid on consumer services derived from a combination of stocks (e.g. building stock, transport systems) and flows (mainly energy). This approach intends to illustrate that a concentration on flows in consumption models lacks important aspects of sustainable consumption.
The economic analysis of sustainable consumption patterns aims to highlight the effects related to the substitution of flows by stocks in the consumption areas transport and heating (e.g. improvements in thermal quality of buildings, more energy efficient transport systems). Relevant too, in this respect, is the role that can be played by technological innovation (improvements in energy efficiency of stocks, the potential for specific incentives to promote new technologies). Two essential factors are crucial in the context of sustainable consumption: the demand shifts concerning the consumer services desired and the composition of the stock–flow mix necessary for the service provision.
Incorporating stakeholder preferences for land conservation: Weights and measures in spatial MCA
by Michael P. Strager and Randall S. Rosenberger
Spatial multicriteria models may provide an equitable and efficient means for incorporating people's preferences in social decisions. However, in order for these tools to be effective, they should include criteria that are locally relevant and measurable in a spatial framework. This paper integrates measures of stakeholder preferences with GIS data in a spatial multicriteria framework for identifying high-priority areas for land conservation. Individual participants' preference weights were measured using the Analytical Hierarchy Process. Individual preferences were aggregated into groups representing outside experts and local stakeholders. Aggregate preferences differed across groups, illustrating an affinity for local knowledge of stakeholders vs. universal broader issues by outside experts. The mapping of priority areas for conservation was relatively unaffected by the weights, mostly due to the lack of spatial measures for locally relevant criteria.
Development and application of a multi-attribute sustainability function for Dutch dairy farming systems
by K.J. van Calker, P.B.M. Berentsen, C. Romero, G.W.J. Giesen and R.B.M. Huirne
Sustainability in dairy farming is determined by using aspects (economic, social and ecological). Per aspect a number of measurable attributes is selected. Difficulty for determining the sustainability of farming systems is the combination of the different attribute measures into a sustainability function, which measures the overall sustainability. Furthermore, stakeholder groups often evaluate sustainability different and should be consulted to determine sustainability. In this research, the multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT) is used to develop an overall sustainability function for Dutch dairy farming systems. This approach consists of four steps: (1) determination of attribute utility functions, (2) assessing attribute weights to determine utility functions per aspect, (3) assessing aspect weights to determine the overall sustainability function per stakeholder group and (4) determination of the overall sustainability function for society by aggregating preferences of stakeholders and experts using a goal programming approach. Depending on the possibility for objective evaluation of each aspect, either experts or stakeholders were consulted to determine attribute utility functions and the utility functions of the particular aspect. In this study, experts determined (attribute) utility functions for economic and ecological sustainability. Stakeholders (producers, consumers, industrial producers and policy makers) determined their own utility function for external social sustainability and their own aspect weights. The developed overall sustainability function is applied to different Dutch dairy farming systems represented by four experimental farms. MAUT proves to be a suitable method to determine an overall sustainability function. Sustainability rankings for the dairy farming systems appear to be relatively insensitive to changes in attribute and aspect weights. Based on these results, it is concluded that the developed sustainability function based on stakeholder and expert perceptions can be used with reasonable confidence to determine the sustainability of different dairy farming systems.
On the economics of sustainability
by Jeffrey Wagner
The purpose of this paper is to work toward reconciliation of the neoclassical consumer choice axiom that “more is better” and the ecological concern that “more is not sustainable.” The key is to divide the desired “more” into its rival and nonrival components, for it is the consumption of rival goods (such as plastic) that strains the ecosystem. In contrast, the consumption of nonrival goods (such as bird-watching) leaves little to no footprint. While sustainability can be enhanced through changing preferences, a menu of taxes, subsidies and/or vouchers can also motivate greater nonrival consumption—and therefore sustainability—without reducing consumer welfare.
Valuing ancient forest ecosystems: An analysis of backcountry hiking in Jasper National Park
by Jeffrey E. Englin, Jered M. McDonald and Klaus Moeltner
This study examines backcountry visitors' preferences for truly ancient forest ecosystems. We find that visitors consider ancient forests a distinctly different ecosystem than mature, but younger forests dominated by the same tree types, and that the recreational value of forests continues to grow for several hundred years following a crown fire. By employing a random coefficients model of utility the analysis is able to provide measures of the variability in preferences for forest ecosystems across the population of users. The model also shows that site choice probabilities and welfare effects associated with ancient woodlands are sensitive to the mix of dominating tree types, and exhibit substantial fluctuation over trails.
Virtual land use and agricultural trade: Estimating environmental and socio-economic impacts pages 679-697
by Laura Würtenberger, Thomas Koellner and Claudia R. Binder
Liberalization has caused an increase in the global trade of goods and services. In particular, the value and physical volume of agricultural goods traded have largely increased. As the environmental and social consequences of trade are complex, they are rarely included in the national and international agricultural policies. One reason is that there is a lack of concepts and methods for assessing the environmental and social impacts of trade policies. In this paper we develop a method for quantifying and assessing the land use hidden in the export and import of agricultural goods for the case of Switzerland. For our analysis we focus on arable crops. The first methodological step of our research illustrates the spatial relationship of Switzerland with countries all over the world through the import and export of land use for arable crops. The second step links this spatial dimension with a qualitative assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of agricultural land use. We applied the method to the case of wheat cultivation within Switzerland and import to Switzerland. The major problem we were confronted with was the availability of data, which had both to be reliable and available for the countries wheat is imported from. The results show that the calculation of land use is credible. In spite of the problems related with data availability, the assessment results for each indicator are in agreement with the current situation in the respective countries. In addition, the aggregation seems to accurately reflect the countries’ agricultural polices. The developed method is used to estimate the overall environmental and socio-economic impacts of an increase in wheat imports to Switzerland. We argue that this method could be applied for anticipating potential impacts of trade agreements. Still, further research is required for fine-tuning of the utility functions, including a weighting procedure in the aggregation procedure. For practical applications important aspects like water shortage should enlarge our limited set of indicators. In addition the average impact on a country level was assessed. To refine that, different agricultural systems ranging from intensive to extensive to organic should be considered. Beyond our scope was to analyze impacts due to other life cycle stages than the agricultural production. For informed decision, however, information on the whole life cycle of agricultural products is required.
The influence of conversion of forest types on carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services in the South Central United States
by Brent Sohngen and Sandra Brown
This paper develops a forestland management model for the three states in the South Central United States (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi). Forest type and land-use shares are estimated to be a function of economic and physical variables. The results suggest that while historically pine plantations in this region have been established largely on old agricultural land, in the future pine plantations are likely to occur on converted hardwood-forest lands. This shift in the supply of land for plantations could have large effects on above-ground carbon storage and other ecosystem services. Subsidies of approximately $12–27 per ha per year would maintain the area of hardwood forests and reduce carbon emissions from the above-ground and product pool carbon stocks over the next 30 years. Across the several scenarios considered, results suggest that maintaining hardwoods could be an efficient carbon sequestration alternative.
Social dilemmas and public range management in Nevada
by G. Cornelis van Kooten, Roy Thomsen, Thomas G. Hobby and Alison J. Eagle
Increasing tension in the Nevada ranch community may have had a negative impact on social capital. Social capital is important because it facilitates cooperation in resolving social dilemmas related to public range management. In this paper, we use a survey of public grazing permit holders in Nevada to investigate factors that affect ranchers' relationships with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Results indicate that, contrary to expectations, economic factors such as income and ranch size have little or no effect on relationships in the Nevada ranch community — on ranchers' disagreements with public land managers and the deterioration in rancher-land agency relations. Rather, these relationships appear to be affected to a greater extent by our measures of social capital, personal characteristics and experience with wildfire. Indeed, disagreements with the public agencies were mainly affected by gender (males tended to have more disagreements), lack of trust, and disputes concerning responses to wildfire (which increased the chance of disagreement). Not surprisingly, disagreement resulted in a deterioration of relationships that could be offset by higher levels of social capital, particularly trust and positive attitudes towards the future of ranching and the community (as measured by responses to a variety of attitudinal questions). We conclude that, while there remain opportunities to build on existing social capital in the community (horizontal relations), ranchers and the public agencies need to work on building vertical relations, thereby increasing trust. This could potentially help in the resolution of social dilemmas related to range management.
Call for Papers
Ecological Economics via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 57, Issue 4; pages 545-732 (June 2006)
This study investigates the resource availability, energetic efficiency, and economic feasibility of converting edible and inedible beef tallow into biodiesel, a substitute diesel fuel.
A resource assessment of edible and inedible beef tallow generation in the United States was performed for the period of 1997–2001. At that time, an average of more than 1.8 Mt (4 billion pounds) of edible and inedible tallow were generated each year in the 11 largest commercial cattle slaughtering states, which would equate to more than 2.08 GL (551 million gallons) of biodiesel (not, vert, similar1% of the total US distillate consumption).
Tallow is a by-product of our meat production and processing system, which complicates its energy and economic analysis. Although tallow is available in significant quantities at relatively low cost, it is not intentionally produced as a feedstock for biodiesel. Because of this uncertainty, energetic (energy ratio) and economic (production cost per gallon) feasibilities were estimated for three different system boundaries: (1) conversion of tallow by a continuous-flow transesterification process only with co-product (glycerin) credit, (2) rendering plant operations plus tallow transesterification, and (3) growth and maintenance of the beef animal from conception through rendering and transesterification. Energy ratios varied from 17.29 to 0.81 within the three system boundaries based on various assignments of the co-product energy credit for glycerin.
Cost-sensitivity analyses were performed to determine the effect of feedstock cost and by-product (glycerin) credit on biodiesel cost. Feedstock cost had the greatest impact, while by-product credit effect was minimal. Cost of production ranged from $0.22 to $0.63 L−1 ($0.82–$2.38 gallon−1) produced.
Keywords: Biodiesel; Tallow; Energy ratio; Direct and embodied energies; Transesterification; Co-product credits; Economics
by Richard G. Nelson 1 and Mark D. Schrock 2
1. Kansas State University, 133 Ward Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-2508, USA; Tel.: +1 785 532 6026; fax: +1 785 532 6952
2. Kansas State University, 129 Seaton Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA
Biomass and Bioenergy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 30, Issue 6; June 2006; pages 584-591
The Trinity Building is one of thousands of contaminated industrial sites in Cleveland. Here's a rough estimate of what the city expects to pay to get the 5½acre site ready for development."
Other preliminary work: $33,459
Cleanup: Asbestos abatement, regulated substances removal, demolition, underground tank removal, soil remediation, groundwater treatment, environmental professional fees
Total cleanup: About $2.5 million
TOTAL COSTS: About $2.8 million
TOTAL TIME: About two years
EXPECTED TO BE READY: Fall 2006
Another site: West 106th Street and Madison Avenue, the home of the now-demolished Midland Steel factory. Furio has the 27-acre property under purchase agreement. By this time next year, Furio said he would like to have the site bought and cleaned.
" The city received a $750,000 Clean Ohio grant that will be used for site remediation and reduction of its overall costs.
Source: City of Cleveland's Clean Ohio Assistance Fund application via
The Cleveland Plain Dealer via Cleveland.com www.cleveland.com
Sean Makasi Flynn PhD is the author of, amongst other books, the excellent Economics for Dummies. From it, I've noted some common mistakes that we make with money, even those of us who are normally financially savvy.
1. We let things that happened in the past affect our future behaviour
I'm not (necessarily) talking about investing, this applies to shopping and probably lots of other things as well. Let's say you go to Pizza Hut at lunch time and take advantage of their all-you-can-eat buffet. I think it costs about £6. How much should you eat? Should you stuff your face till you feel sick?
The answer is that you should eat exactly the amount that makes you feel happy. It doesn't matter if you paid £6 or £60, as how much it cost you is now irrelevant. As an economist would say, the price paid is in the past, so you should now maximise your future happiness. After you've paid, you weigh up the potential costs and benefits of your future options. Do I eat too much and feel awful, or do I eat till I'm comfortably sated? Besides, how grim is it to see someone finish their plate "because they feel they have to"?
2. We mistake a small percentage for a small pound amount
Let's say that, rather than buying a DVD player for £100 from a local shop, you decide to make a 10% saving and buy it for £90 by driving for � an hour to an out-of-town department store.
You then decide to buy a 50-inch HDTV and think about whether to buy it locally for £3,000, or to drive out to that same department store to buy it for £2,990. You get out your calculator and find that you're saving less than 1%. You decide to buy the TV from the local shop.
As Professor Flynn says, this is "colossally inconsistent and irrational". You were willing to drive for half an hour to save £10 for one thing, but not for another. The cost - a longer drive - and the benefit - saving yourself £10 - is identical for each. The percentage saving isn't relevant. So do you or don't you want to save that £10?
3. We mistake average gains & costs for future gains & costs
Let's say a council builds three bridges at an average cost of £10m each. A study shows that the economic benefits total £36m per year, or £12m per bridge. On this basis, the council decides to build another.
However, by relying on average figures for other bridges, they've missed the point. If they'd hired an engineer to estimate the cost, they'd have found a fourth bridge will cost £15m, because the river is much wider at the fourth site. Meanwhile, an economist does a survey to show that a fourth bridge won't add more than £8m per year to the local economy.
By Neil Faulkner
The Motley Fool UK
Motley Fool on Yahoo Finance U.K. http://uk.biz.yahoo.com
After Hurricane Katrina blew down the floodwalls that guarded New Orleans and drowned the city last August, all the national outrage over the tragedy was directed at the hapless FEMA and its director Michael Brown. But FEMA didn't build the floodwalls that failed -- the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did. And the New Orleans floodwalls weren't the first Corps project to go bad, nor will they be the last, argues Washington Post staff writer Michael Grunwald , author of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise , in his Sunday Outlook article, Par for the Corps. Is there a solution to the problems with the Corps and U.S. flood control? Grunwald was online Monday, May 15, at noon ET to discuss his article, Par for the Corps , ( Post, May 14, 2006 ).
The transcript follows.
Michael Grunwald: Thanks for playing, everyone. The Post has destroyed a lot of forests to print my eyes-glazing Corps articles over the last six years, so it's nice to see that at least someone's reading. I thought Katrina would create a nation of Corps obsessives, but apparently not. It's just us.
Arlington, Va.: I've been reading for years that the Corps' cost-benefit analysis was extremely biased toward completing a project. The general public doesn't seem to know much about this issue. What will it take for real change occur. Do we need a president who will make this a priority?
Michael Grunwald: In 2000, when I wrote a series of unbelievably long and boring stories about the Corps, the main point was that the Corps routinely cooked the books of its cost-benefit analyses to justify environmentally destructive boondoggles. And you're right: even when the Corps does its analysis honestly, the odds are often tilted towards construction. For example, the Corps is supposed to recommend a project if the predicted economic benefits to private interests (even just one private interest!) exceed the predicted costs to taxpayers. So most of the economic benefits that supposedly justified the Missouri project in the lede--the one the Corps official called "swine"--went to a few large landowners behind the proposed levee. In New Orleans after Hurricane Betsy, it turned out to be much better for the cost-benefit-analysis to build levees around undeveloped wetlands--therefore increasing the value of those wetlands by promoting development--than it would have been to protect the populated areas of the city. The rest is very sad history.
New Orleans, La.: The suggestion from some engineers and environmentalists that "Category 5" barrier islands and a restored wetlands would give more protection than levees seems to have been lost in all the levee angst. Has the Corps of Engineers considered this?
Michael Grunwald: I don't know of anyone who thinks that restoring wetlands and barrier islands alone will protect New Orleans. Much of the city is below sea level; it needs levees. But the Corps has put together a $14 billion plan to restore some of those wetlands and islands, which serve as hurricane speed bumps, reducing storm surges. The plan is off to a very slow start.
Leesburg, Va.: On the off chance the McCain/Feingold bill were to pass, how much of a difference would you expect it to make and what do you think it's chances of passage will be?
Michael Grunwald: The McCain/Feingold bill would require independent peer reviews of large Corps projects, and would require the Corps to prioritize its projects. The devil is always in the details, but I don't think I'll get fired if I point out that independent review probably makes sense for an agency that's gotten it so spectacularly wrong so often, and that America's water resources policy has suffered from a complete lack of prioritization. That said, I would be stunned if Congress passed even those modest reforms.
Arlington, Va: I recently heard that the Corps is using the best economic models available and do review their projects, including independent reviews. If that's true, then why do you continue to berate them?
Michael Grunwald: That sounds like the kind of logic I often hear from the Corps: They're already doing their own independent reviews!
They wouldn't really be independent then, would they?
Arlington, Va.: To follow-up, the problem with OMB is that they have repeatedly slashed funding for the Corps to such an extent - with no real rationale for the cuts- the agency can hardly meet its current financial obligations. OMB continues to the present day to punish the Corps for past wrongs. The result? Reforms installed over the past few years are masked by newly highlighted inefficiencies.
Michael Grunwald: No rationale? I don't know about that. How about ecologically destructive, economically ludicrous projects justified by manipulated cost-benefit analyses? Those may be past wrongs, but the Corps is continuing to pour money into those projects. Or, as some like to call them, "current financial obligations."
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
The Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com
The U.S. Green Building Council, Turner Construction Company, the nation's leading general builder, and Haverford College, today announced the program for "Investing in the Future: Building Green Schools," the first of a three-part conference series, which is the result of a commitment made at the Clinton Global Initiative Inaugural Meeting in 2005. The daylong conference will be held at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa., on May 17.
The conference will focus on the economic rationale for green schools, in both the K-12 and higher education sectors, providing an in-depth analysis of costs and benefits, case studies, and a discussion of applied standards and tools to encourage innovative ways to create cost-effective, high performance, energy efficient schools.
"Of all the buildings that should be green, schools may be the most important," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair, USGBC. "Students need fresh air, day light and a healthy indoor environment in order to learn. USGBC's LEED« program for buildings will ensure that our children spend their days in safe, healthy buildings that increase their productivity and well-being."
Keynoter Greg Kats, principal of Capital-E, a strategic consulting and advisory firm for sustainable solutions, will address the real-life cost issues of building green schools
Charles Eley, vice president, Architectural Energy Corporation; executive director, Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
Richard Hodge from Kieran Timberlake Associates, which is the architecture firm representing Sidwell Friends School in Maryland, the first middle school in the country to apply for the prestigious platinum LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council
"Turner Construction Company is committed to green building, as demonstrated by its completion of over 158 green projects valued at $10.8 billion and totaling more than 41.7 million square feet," said Thomas C. Leppert, chairman and CEO of The Turner Corporation. "A significant portion of these projects are schools and universities which are in the vanguard of creating healthier learning environments. To encourage more educational institutions to join in this effort, we are cosponsoring a conference that focuses on the economics of green building."
The two panel discussions, "Standards for Building Green" and "Applying the Tools for Building Green," will include leaders in the field of sustainable building design in the education industry. The panelists will offer their expertise on the return on investment (ROI) of green schools, along with case histories to support these findings.
Following the conference, there will be a tour of Haverford's new 100,000-square-foot Douglas B. Gardner '83 Integrated Athletic Center, the first green building on the college campus, which recently was LEED Gold certified.
There is no charge for attendance, but registration is mandatory.
About U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council is the nation's leading coalition of corporations, builders, universities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations working together to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. Since its founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 6,000 member companies and organizations; a 60-person professional staff; a broad portfolio of LEED programs and services; the industry's popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo; and a network of more than 60 local chapters, affiliates and organizing groups. For more information visit: http://www.usgbc.org.
Turner is the leading general builder in the U.S., ranking first or second in the major segments of the building construction field. During 2005, Turner completed $7.4 billion of construction, including $1.5 billion in education projects. Turner is the only builder offering clients a network of 46 offices across the U.S. Founded in 1902, the firm was acquired in 1999 by HOCHTIEF AG, one of the world's leading international construction companies. For more information, visit Turner's website at www.turnerconstruction.com.
U.S. Green Building Council www.usgbc.org
A flood of bad projects Opinion By Michael Grunwald
This $203 million plan to build the world's largest flood-control pump in the Mississippi Delta is a pet project of Mississippi Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott. It could drain as many as 200,000 acres of wetlands in an effort to reduce flooding on heavily subsidized soybean farms. An Environmental Protection Agency study concluded that it would cost far less to buy out the farms.
In 2000, when I was writing a 50,000-word Washington Post series about dysfunction at the Army Corps of Engineers, I highlighted a $65 million flood-control project in Missouri as Exhibit A. Corps documents showed that the project would drain more acres of wetlands than all U.S. developers do in a typical year, but wouldn't stop flooding in the town it was meant to protect. FEMA's director called it "a crazy idea." The Fish and Wildlife Service's regional director called it "absolutely ridiculous."
Six years later, the project hasn't changed - except for its cost, which has soared to $112 million. Larry Prather, chief of legislative management for the Corps, privately described it in a 2002 e-mail as an "economic dud with huge environmental consequences." Another Corps official called it "a bad project. Period." But the Corps still wants to build it.
"Who can take this seriously?" Prather asked in his e-mail. That's a good question to ask about the entire civil works program of the Corps.
It came up occasionally in 2000, when Pentagon investigators, the Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Sciences were documenting the agency's ecologically disastrous, economically dubious, politically inspired water projects.
Then the Corps failed to protect New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, despite spending more in Louisiana than in any other state.
Last month, the Corps commander acknowledged that his agency's "design failure" led to the floodwall collapses that drowned New Orleans. So why isn't everyone asking questions about the Corps and its patrons in Congress?
KATRINA'S OTHER SCANDAL
Somehow, America has concluded that the scandal of Katrina was the government's response to the disaster, not the government's contribution to the disaster.
The Corps has eluded the public's outrage - even though a useless Corps shipping canal intensified Katrina's surge, even though poorly designed Corps floodwalls collapsed just a few feet from an unnecessary $750 million Corps navigation, even though the Corps had promoted development in dangerously low-lying New Orleans floodplain and had helped destroy the vast marshes that once provided the city's natural flood protection.
CONGRESS PULLS THE REINS
All modern presidents have tried to rein in the Corps, but Congress has jealously protected it. In 2000, after I wrote about a secret "Program Growth Initiative" that Corps generals had devised to try to boost their budget, the Clinton administration was so embarrassed by the reaction of its assistant Army secretary for civil works - "Oh my God. My God. I have no idea what you're talking about" - that it announced a modest plan to reaffirm the Pentagon's authority over the Corps.
A week later, after a ferocious backlash from congressional leaders, the plan was meekly withdrawn.
The Corps is allowed to endorse projects whenever it calculates that the economic benefits to private interests - even one private interest - would exceed the costs to taxpayers. And without executive-branch oversight, the Corps has traditionally inflated benefits, low-balled costs, and otherwise justified projects that keep its employees busy and its congressional patrons happy.
The Corps predicted its Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway would cost about $300 million and float 28 million tons of cargo in its first year; the actual totals were $2 billion and 1.4 million tons. And that was before the Program Growth Initiative ordered Corps analysts to "get creative" with economic studies.
LOUISIANA WASTE CONTINUES
And the outlet was only the most destructive of the pork projects the Corps has been building in Louisiana when it should have been upgrading levees and pursuing its plan to restore the state's coastal wetlands.
In 2000, I described how the Corps had spent $2 billion wrestling the wild Red River into a slack-water barge channel that wasn't being used by any barges; four of its dams had been named for Louisiana members of Congress, and the entire channel had been named for former Democratic Louisiana senator J. Bennett Johnston.
The Corps was also spending $750 million to build a lock supposedly needed to accommodate increasing barge traffic on the New Orleans Industrial Canal - though barge traffic was steadily decreasing. The Corps spent $1.9 billion in Louisiana in the five years before Katrina, but that didn't keep New Orleans dry.
Ever since Katrina, independent engineers have been pointing out grave problems with the Corps levee designs, and criticizing the agency for building on unstable soils. In congressional testimony last month, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the commander of the Corps, finally acknowledged "design flaws." But his damning admission got nowhere near as much attention as former FEMA director Michael Brown's e-mail about being a "fashion god."
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., are pushing a Corps reform bill that would require independent reviews of large projects, but they aren't getting much traction. By contrast, 81 senators have urged swift passage of a bill approving $12 billion in new Corps projects.
And the Louisiana delegation has tried to use Katrina to pour billions into unrelated Corps pork, including a port-deepening project that even the Corps concluded would return just 30 cents on every taxpayer dollar.
Meanwhile, the Corps is rebuilding its New Orleans levees to mere Category 3 levels.
Maybe Americans will get angry after the next disaster.
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
The Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com
In a 2005 HICSA edition article 'Hotel Values - Scaling the Peak' Siddharth Thaker of HVS International analysed the performance of the hotel industry in India and the impact on hotel values of a strongly improved performance of the industry starting 2002-03. Since the feasibility of new hotel development is determined by the relationship between replacement costs and existing values for hotels, he also attempted to explain the rationale underlying the investment decision for hotel developments.
A year has just gone by and hotels continue to scale new heights in performance and profitability. Riding on the rising curve of the trend cycle, with no substantial change in the supply scenario, hotels across key markets have delivered better yields through consistent occupancies and higher rates. In this article, the author takes a look at the impact on hotel values during a time when the industry is expected to deliver results that would qualify as the best performance in a decade. Based on the hotel value per room and the associated cost benefit ratio, he has once again ranked key cities across India. The rankings may be used as a measurement index and should enable investors to choose the city of development.
The valuation methodology is based upon actual operating data from a representative sample of four-star, five-star and five-star deluxe hotels in eight important hotel markets in India. The data is then aggregated to produce a proforma performance for a typical 200-room hotel in each city. Based on our day-to-day experience of real-life hotel financing structures, which arise from knowledge gained during the various assignments undertaken each year, we have determined appropriate valuation parameters for each market, including loan-to-value ratios, relevant interest rates and equity return expectations. These market specific valuation/capitalisation parameters are applied to net income for a typical hotel in each city.
As illustrated in Table 1, a majority of markets in India have shown robust growth in occupancies over the last two years. With increased demand and limited availability of quality accommodation the average rates in these markets have grown by 50.5%, the exceptions being Bangalore and Kolkata where the rates have appreciated by 132.0% and 9.0%, respectively. For 2005-06, the year-on-year occupancy growths have been marginal and some markets such as Bangalore have seen a negative growth.
For 2005-06, occupancy growth has been strongest for Kolkata (7.50%) followed by Hyderabad (4.40%) and Goa (4.20%). The average occupancy for Mumbai was up by 1.60% from 72.4% to 74.0%, while the Chennai market registered a growth of 1.3% for 2005-06. The occupancy growth for Delhi was positive inspite of the addition of a 323-unit Shangri-La hotel, which entered mid financial year. The average occupancy for Bangalore market fell by 1.8% while Jaipur witnessed a modest growth of 1.8% in its occupancy.
As reflected in Table 3, the highest year-on-year appreciation in hotel value was witnessed by Bangalore where value has appreciated by 72.1% followed by Hyderabad (38.5%) and Chennai (38.0%). The average rate performance of Bangalore continues to be impressive and the enhanced revenue performance has translated into stronger profitability. Hyderabad and Chennai have traditionally been low-paying markets; however, in the last few years these cities have seen a change in their customer profile and market segment mix. Proactive sales and pricing strategy in anticipation of change in demand has enabled the two cities to better rate performance and this has translated into better profitability and higher valuations.
The two leisure destinations of Goa and Jaipur have seen hotel values appreciate by 21.6% and 21.0%, respectively. In our previous edition we had mentioned that Goa is a market with immense potential for new hotel development and the operating performance along with the derived values justify our claim. Jaipur is a key destination of the golden triangle circuit and is the gateway into the famous Rajasthan travel circuit. The growth in domestic travel within India and higher inflow of international tourist has benefited the market. Jaipur has also witnessed robust demand for quality accommodation from the gems, jewellery and handicraft industries based there and this has further enhanced its performance translating into improved valuations.
Replacement Cost Vs Hotel Value
The cost to benefit ratio is the value of the hotel divided by its replacement cost. A hotel project is considered feasible when its market value upon completion is higher than its replacement cost, and the cost benefit ratio must exceed 1.0. In our earlier article we analysed the associated cost benefit ratios for hotels and provided our comments on how the relationship between a hotel's market value and its replacement cost is important to hotel investors. In this edition we have once again analysed the replacement cost of a 200-room five-star hotel in each of the eight cities for 2005-06. Replacement cost has been estimated as the cost of developing a 200-room hotel (including land cost), having facilities that are currently being offered by most five-star hotels of international standard. We then compare the hotel values in each city during the corresponding period to derive the cost to benefit ratios.
As is evident from the above analysis, in 2004-05, most cities, with the exception of Kolkata and Goa, had a cost benefit ratio greater than 1.0. Based on our analysis of historic trends, forecast growth rates and associated cost benefit ratios for each market in 2004-05, we expected that Bangalore will see the maximum development projects followed by Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
While we have seen impressive growth in the hotel values for all markets across the board there has been a sharp decline in the cost benefit ratios for future developments in these markets. The cost benefit ratio has in fact depreciated for all markets and for 2005-06 six out of the eight markets have a cost benefit ratio of less than 1. The sharp depreciation can be attributed to the associated land values in these markets. Land values over the last one year have appreciated by an average of 53.7% with the highest appreciation in Bangalore (80.0%) followed by Hyderabad (70.0%) and Chennai (65.0%). The feasibility of a hotel as derived through project IRRs are highly sensitive to the replacement cost component and the cost of land acquisition will render most projects unfeasible, at least in the short term horizon.
The high replacement cost further limits the market positioning for new builds. The project costs will force most developers to position their hotels at the luxury end of the market and they will compete for the same business at similar price points. When the demand-supply imbalance situation improves, which will improve once the planned supply is phased in, only those hotels that are planned and conceptualized to cater to the ideal business mix will be able to sustain themselves. This enhanced competition will make it difficult for hotels to achieve their fair share in market penetration thereby creating a downward rate spiral. We all agree that at some point in time macro economic factors and industry dynamics will present an optimum demand-supply balance and rates will be rationalized. Post rationalization, the rate adjustment factor will be comparatively higher for hotels with luxury orientation and this will impact the profitability of hotels thereby eroding value.
What India needs today is development of hotel projects across multiple price points catering to different segments of travel to sustain a flatter, but more stable, growth trajectory over a long term period. To make this possible there needs to either be a rationalization in existing capital values of land or a revision in existing land usage and development norms. In India things are easier said than done and if wishes were horses everyone would ride them, till such time its boom time for existing hotels and land owners and hotel values are likely to touch dizzying heights….so fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride to 'Cloud 9'!
Siddharth Thaker, Consulting and Valuation Analyst joined HVS International, New Delhi in August 2004. Formerly, he worked as Revenue Manager with Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts at UAE, Tashkent and Kuwait. Prior to Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts, he worked with the Taj Group of hotels for two years. He has conducted feasibility and market studies and performed hotel valuations for major hotel chains and clients.
Siddharth holds a MMS degree with specialization in advanced financial management and a Bachelors degree in economics and financial accounting from Bombay University.
By Siddharth Thaker
Hospitality NetHVS International www.hvsinternational.com
372 Willis Ave., Mineola, NY 11501; Phone: (516) 248-8828; Fax: 516 742-3059
In April 2005, a consultant presented a study at a local chamber of commerce breakfast that predicted dire consequences if the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base closed: $406 million in economic impact to the state and the loss of 12,696 jobs.
That report, by Philadelphia's Econsult Corp., was based on information from the base about its annual spending on payroll, construction, services, materials and supplies.
But a funny thing happened the day the report was released. Base officials, contacted by the media about the Econsult report and its findings, discovered the study was based on faulty spending assumptions. Base officials quickly updated the numbers they'd provided Econsult, and the economic research firm re-ran its report.
The result: The base's economic impact was actually $378 million and 10,724 total jobs.
Economic impact reports are, at best, guesses; they're based on things we know but contain estimates about things that are almost impossible to know.
“Those are guesses,” said Richard Bernstein, professor of economics and finance at Temple University. But, he noted, “This is standard regional analysis.”
When the base closes, leaving behind an enclave of 2,800 to 5,000 mostly part-time reservists — and an as yet unknown redevelopment on whatever portion of the base the military turns over to civilian authorities — its economic impact will change.
How dramatically it will change depends.
“I'm not sure,” Horsham manager Mike McGee said. “If the whole thing is turned into a park, then the economic impact to the region would be (negative). But if it's turned into a business park, then ... its (economic impact) would probably be significantly higher.”
Of inputs and multipliers
Econsult's study was based not on the number of people the base employs but on what the base spends every year on wages, materials, construction and services. That total, once corrected by the base, was nailed down at $224.9 million a year.
“Those were the main inputs into the economic impact model,” said Michael Mariano, an associate and project manager at Econsult.
The next step is trickier: Econsult, like most economists who perform economic analyses, purchased a set of “multipliers” from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Those multipliers, provided in a 38-column-by-492-row matrix, are based most heavily on region — in this case the Philadelphia suburbs — but also factor in the type of spending in question.
“The multiplier is based on the industries in which the spending is occurring,” Mariano said.
Multipliers are an attempt to estimate statistically the “trickle-down” effect of every dollar spent. In other words, when the base spends a dollar on construction, some of that dollar goes to the construction contractor, some goes to its suppliers and some goes to its employees. Each, in turn, spends its cut of that dollar on business services or food, housing and clothing.
Different types of spending — payroll, construction, office supplies — come with different multipliers, Mariano explained.
The multiplier used for Willow Grove was 1.68.
“Basically, what the multiplier tells us is that for every dollar in direct spending, the region or state would see an additional 68 cents in additional spending,” Mariano said.
From there, the economic impact analysis was simple: Econsult took the $224.9 million the base spends in a year times the 1.68 multiplier and arrived at $378 million. A similar method was used to derive the total number of jobs dependant on that spending.
So, if one wants to determine the economic impact of some sort of future development at the base, one would just take an estimate of annual spending there times 1.68, right? Not so fast, Mariano said. Because the multiplier is significantly affected by the type and mix of industries in which spending is occurring, tiny changes in that mix can change the multiplier.
So, how reliable are economic impact reports? And what do they tell us about what's going to happen in the future?
Economists say the type of report Econsult prepared for the Willow Grove base is pretty standard. But there's no way to tell how accurate it is.
“Those things are sometimes one size fits all,” Bernstein said. “It depends on what you replace it with.”
The mistake many economic impact reports make is using a multiplier that is too high, said Jim Diffley, managing director of regional services at Global Insight, an Eddystone economic research company. That does not appear to have happened with Econsult's study, Diffley said.
An economic impact report on a closing military base is really just the first step in a cost-benefit analysis of whether the region is better off with the base and its spending, or with some other type of use, economists say.
“What the region loses if the base closes is this infusion of federal dollars into the area,” Diffley said. But, “when it's converted to another use, that's also a gain for the region.”
It's the “what will that other use be” question that's key at the moment. If the airstrip remains, but the amount of money the government spends on payrolls and in other areas falls, “where's the economic benefit in that?” McGee asked.
On the other hand, if significant portions of the base are turned into office and light industrial parks, well, take a look at the Pennsylvania Business Campus in Horsham by way of example, McGee said: “Gee whiz, there's a whole heck of a lot of jobs over there.”
An honest cost-benefit analysis of the impact of a closing base prompts many questions: Are some uses better than others? Is it better, from an economic standpoint, to have office parks than a military base?
It depends on the type of base, Bernstein said. In the case of a Philadelphia Naval Shipyard or Frankford Arsenal, both of which employed significant numbers of civilians, a closure hit hard, he said. That's not the case with Willow Grove, which employs about 760 civilians, compared to 1,570 full-time active duty military and 4,755 part-time reservists.
In this case, private-sector jobs probably have a higher economic impact, Bernstein said, because “they're more likely to keep the money here” than military jobs.
The ultimate goal of economic development officials is to craft a use that will generate lots of high-paying jobs. Auto plants are the gold standard, Diffley said, because they employ locals, pay good wages and attract suppliers who also employ locals and pay high wages.
But along the continuum from best to worst use run any number of possibilities, including corporate offices and biotech research and development companies.
“In a sense, there are better uses,” Diffley said.
The likelihood of drawing economically attractive uses to Willow Grove is good given its location, Bernstein said.
“This is prime real estate in a prime location,” Bernstein says.
Horsham and its land reuse authority have not yet studied the economic impact of potential future base uses because they're still waiting to find out how much land will become available for redevelopment. Once that input into the economic impact equation becomes clear, redevelopment officials can begin weighing the effects, positive and negative, of different uses.
By JOHN WILEN, The Intelligencer
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
A 9-month monitored field study of the performance of automated roller shades and daylighting controls was conducted in a 401 m2 unoccupied, furnished daylighting mockup. The mockup mimicked the southwest corner of a new 110 km2 commercial building in New York, New York, where The New York Times will be the major tenant. This paper focuses on evaluating the performance of two daylighting control systems installed in separate areas of an open plan office with 1.2-m high workstation partitions: (1) Area A had 0–10 V dimmable ballasts with an open-loop proportional control system and an automated shade controlled to reduce window glare and increase daylight, and (2) Area B had digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) ballasts with a closed-loop integral reset control system and an automated shade controlled to block direct sun. Daylighting control system performance and lighting energy use were monitored. The daylighting control systems demonstrated very reliable performance after they were commissioned properly. Work plane illuminance levels were maintained above 90% of the maximum fluorescent illuminance level for 99.9 ± 0.5% and 97.9 ± 6.1% of the day on average over the monitored period, respectively, in Areas A and B. Daily lighting energy use savings were significant in both Areas over the equinox-to-equinox period compared to a non-daylit reference case. At 3.35 m from the window, 30% average savings were achieved with a sidelit west-facing condition in Area A while 50–60% were achieved with a bilateral daylit south-facing condition in Area B. At 4.57–9.14 m from the window, 5–10% and 25–40% savings were achieved in Areas A and B, respectively. Average savings for the 7-m deep dimming zone were 20–23% and 52–59% for Areas A and B, respectively, depending on the lighting schedule. The large savings and good reliability can be attributed to the automatic management of the interior shades. The DALI-based system exhibited faulty behavior that remains unexplained, but operational errors are expected to be resolved as DALI products reach full maturity. The building owner received very competitive bids ($30–75 US/DALI ballast) and was able to justify use of the daylighting control system based on operational cost savings and increased amenity. Additional energy savings due to reduced solar and lighting heat gains were not quantified but will add to the total operational cost savings.
Keywords: Building energy-efficiency; Daylighting; Lighting control systems; Automated shading
by E.S. Lee and S.E. Selkowitz; Building Technologies Program, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mailstop 90-3111, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA; Tel.: +1 510 486 4997; fax: +1 510 486 4089.
Energy and Buildings via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 38, Issue 7 , July 2006, Pages 914-929
Special Issue on Daylighting Buildings
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When Bill Gates invested $84 million in a California company focusing on ethanol bio-refineries, he set the bar for higher level investment in Green technology.
As global economies such as China and India continue to experience fast paced growth and rapid industrialization, environmental impacts are now directly being linked to the financial bottom line. Environmental damage and the costs to repairs can negate growth in terms of cost if they are not managed.
World Bank Chief Scientist Robert Watson recently announced, "It's quite clear we have a number of technologies but the private sector has walked away." He furthered, "The problem is to induce investment. We are coming to see a growing interest in Green solutions."
Top level companies such as Intel and Nokia will be speaking out this summer at an event sponsored by Ethical Corporation, on their own strategies for going Green. According to Intel Corporation's last Global Citizenship Report, the company "Recycled 63% of chemical waste generated worldwide," and "reduced 19% absolute PFC emissions from 2003 levels -- remain on track to meet 2010 goal."
On a global level, Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin stated that, "Already, China's world-leading solar industry provides water heating for 35 million buildings, and India's pioneering use of rainwater harvesting brings clean water to tens of thousands of homes. China and India are positioned to leapfrog today's industrial powers and become world leaders in sustainable energy and agriculture within a decade." A study released by the Institute noted that for both countries, "Coal combustion may provide as much as two-thirds of the 2,000+ recognized tons of annual anthropogenic emissions of mercury to the atmosphere."
Speaking about the Green tech wave in the U.S., Dr. Michael Huddy, President and CEO of International Barrier Technology, Inc. (TSX-V: IBH);(OTC BB: IBTGF) draws attention to the importance of giving the public what they want. Huddy says, "Corporate eco-friendly status in the United States has become extremely important. The mood of the public here is that people are very keen on not having materials in their home that could potentially cause health problems. Simply the perception that a building product might contain hazardous materials is enough for the public to request it not be used in the construction of their home. On the contrary, the designation of 'green' or 'ecofriendly' is enough for people to request a product in and of itself."
Huddy says Blazeguard®, "is a composite product involving a structural substrate panel that is coated with our proprietary Pyrotite(TM) coating which will impart fire resistance. The coating is a Green product and we know this because all of the component parts mixed together to make this coating are inert, inorganic, non-hazardous materials."
In terms of future 'Green ambitions,' Dr. Huddy says that as a company, "we are going through the process of finding an appropriate, sanctioned agency to classify and list Blazeguard as a Green building product. We are also attempting to find ways where a builder can get design points (LEED points) for utilizing Blazeguard in their buildings. We want to be able to provide benefit to the builder not only from the inherent advantages of strength and fire performance provided by Blazeguard, but also from the credit given for utilizing environmentally friendly products as well."
Green technology innovation appears to be a growing occurrence, as we see top level executives diversifying their portfolios with renewable energy ventures. As the opportunity to access a wider array of Green smart products increases, the market will reflect the change in consumer patterns and a greener focus could become further entrenched in the marketplace.
Behavioural models derived from on-going field studies can provide the basis for predicting personal action taken to adjust lighting levels, remedy direct glare, and save energy in response to physical conditions. Enabling these behavioural models in advanced lighting simulation programs, such as DAYSIM and the Lightswitch Wizard, allows for a more realistic estimate of lighting use under dynamic conditions. The current downside of these approaches is that the whole building energy impact of manual changes in blind settings and lighting use, including its effect on heating and cooling requirements, is not considered. A sub-hourly occupancy-based control model (SHOCC), which enables advanced behavioural models within whole building energy simulation, is presented. The considered behavioural models are the Lightswitch2002 algorithms for manual and automated light and blind control, while the investigated whole building energy simulation program is ESP-r.
The enhanced functionality is demonstrated through annual energy simulations aiming at quantifying the total energy impact of manual control over lights and window blinds. Results show that building occupants that actively seek daylighting rather than systematically relying on artificial lighting can reduce overall primary energy expenditure by more than 40%, when compared to occupants who rely on constant artificial lighting. This underlines the importance of defining suitable reference cases for benchmarking the performance of automated lighting controls. Results also show that, depending on the proportion of buildings occupants that actively seek out daylighting, reduced lighting use through automated control may not always produce anticipated savings in primary energy for indoor climate control. In some cases, reduced lighting use is shown to even increase primary energy expenditure for indoor climate control, trimming down initial primary energy savings in lighting alone. This reveals the superiority of integrated design approaches over simpler daylighting guidelines or rules of thumb.
Keywords: Energy simulation; Daylighting; Lighting controls; User behavioural models
by Denis Bourgeois 1, Christoph Reinhart 1 and Iain Macdonald 2
1. Institute for Research in Construction, National Research Council of Canada, 1200 Montreal Road, Building M-24, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1A 0R6
2. Energy Systems Research Unit, University of Strathclyde, James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
Energy and Buildings via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 38, Issue 7; July 2006; pages 814-823
Special Issue on Daylighting Buildings
Fish hatchery programs commonly are used to enhance depleted fish populations. While these programs are highly valued by the public, most likely due to their nonrestrictive approach to restoring a fishery, the effectiveness of these programs has been often questioned. This study investigates economic and ecological effectiveness of the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River (AR) striped bass stocking program from 1981 to1996 as a case study.
Keywords: Striped bass; Stock enhancement; Benefit cost ratio; Fisheries management; Fish hatcheries
by Wesley S. Patrick 1, Okmyung Bin 2, Kurt A. Schwabe 3 and Peter W. Schuhmann 4
1. Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA; Tel.: +252 328 2945; fax :+252 328 4178
2. Department of Economics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
3. Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
4. Department of Economics and Finance, UNC-Wilmington, Wilmington, NC 28403, USA
Marine Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 30, Issue 4; July 2006; pages 299-307
This paper presents a synthesis of evidence from studies that have evaluated the impacts of economic deregulation on transport safety. Most of these studies refer to aviation or road transport. Very few studies deal with deregulation of rail transport. There are no studies of maritime transport, which has never been regulated the same way as other modes of transport. The review includes studies that have attempted to quantify the impacts of transport deregulation on transport safety. Each study contains one or more estimates of the effect on transport safety of deregulation. Summary estimates of effect have been derived from the individual estimates of effect by means of meta-analysis. Airline deregulation, which has only been evaluated in the United States, does not appear to influence the safety of air travel. Deregulation of road transport has been evaluated in several countries. The summary estimate of effect indicates that no statistically significant changes in road safety have occurred as a result of deregulation. Deregulation of rail transport has only been evaluated in Great Britain and the United States. The experience so far suggests that deregulation of railways is associated with improved rail safety. This association does, however, not necessarily imply a causal relationship.
Keywords: Deregulation; Transport safety; Evaluation; Meta-analysis
by Rune Elvik, Institute of Transport Economics, P.O. Box 6110 Etterstad, N-0602 Oslo; Tel.: +47 22 573800; fax: +47 22 570290.
Accident Analysis & Prevention via Elsevier Sciece Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 38, Issue 4; July 2006, pages 678-686
When it comes to home improvement, many people equate "environmental" with "expensive" -- green or eco-friendly renovations are better left to the well-off who can afford solar panels, low-flush toilets and energy-efficient appliances.
While some green improvements undoubtedly are costly, there are small steps you can take to make a home more environmentally friendly without breaking the bank.
The Environmental Home Center in Seattle is among the many businesses trying to change the perception that green means costly.
"It's still flooring, it's still paint, it's still carpet," said Lisa DiMartino, vice president for marketing. But, "it's regular stuff with additional value."
Take the Paperstone composite countertops. They look like regular countertops but are made of 100-percent recycled paper and water-based resin.
The Environmental Home Center has been growing steadily since it opened in 1992. For the past five years, the business has boasted growth of 20 to 30 percent a year and showed moderate growth even after a fire in 2004 destroyed the business' warehouse and showroom and resulted in a relocation, DiMartino said.
The Environmental Home Center -- or EHC, as regulars call it -- offers products similar to big-box home-improvement stores, including bathtubs, toilets, tile, kitchen counters and wood floors. But at EHC, these items are recycled, reclaimed, nontoxic or sustainable, among other environmental considerations.
Even just five years ago, diehard environmentalists made up most of the customers buying reclaimed wood floors and recycled glass tiles, DiMartino said.
But today, buying green has become more mainstream. And as a result, products are increasingly well-made.
A free flier titled, "How we can help you go 'green' ... without busting your budget" starts off newcomers here. A chart details the costs of green material for building a 2,800-square-foot house, comparing prices with conventional material.
For example, painting 10,000 square feet of walls costs $1,530 for 60 gallons of solvent-free American Pride paint, compared to $2,057 for 60 gallons of Sherwin-Williams Superpaint, according to the company's analysis.
Many green-material costs, like decking, wood flooring and some carpets, are comparable or even more affordable than conventional materials, although other items, such as a dual-flush toilet that includes a 0.8-gallon half-flush, are costlier than a standard toilet.
Wool carpets are more expensive than synthetic carpets, too, but wool carpets tend to last longer and don't contain toxic glues, DiMartino said.
Cork flooring has become popular as a warm, insulating option to wood floors and is made from cork left over from wine-cork production, DiMartino said. Cork planks start at $5.99 per square foot.
Customers also like the Paperstone composite countertops, at $30 to $65 per square foot.
Even those who aren't redoing their homes can find items like a 26-inch recycled copper mirror ($450) or an affordable wool and plant fiber blend area rug (a 4-foot by 6-foot Colin Campbell & Sons area rug is $89.95).
"It doesn't have to be expensive," she said. "You can make your house healthier with healthier paint."
BY NICOLE TSONG
Northwest Indiana Times www.nwitimes.com
Cost Benefit News covers legal, academic, and regulatory developments pertaining to the valuation of environmental amenities and disamenities, such as clean air, trees, parks, congestion, and noise. We apprise the reader about ways in which costs and benefits are measured, and the results of empirical studies. We hope that this information will allow public and private organizations to comprehend the risks and benefits of various actions, help disputants to resolve conflicts equitably and efficiently, and improve the quality of public policies. We will only discuss issues related to the empirical quantification of private and social costs and benefits and damages, and summarize information from daily newspapers, academic journals, legal publications, court decisions, professional newsletters commissioned studies, and on-line services. This newsletter is dedicated to the principal that all policies place values upon life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that more information, explicit specification of assumptions, and rigorous analysis can help our society to better meet these ends. This site will increasingly serve, in conjunction with others, as a valuation database. We will include a wide range of studies, including non-environmental reports, because omission of a factor effectively values it at zero, and biases decisions.