SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought Friday, lifting emergency orders that had forced residents to stop running sprinklers as often and encouraged them to rip out thirsty lawns during the state’s driest four-year period on record.
The drought strained native fish that migrate up rivers and forced farmers in the nation’s leading agricultural state to rely heavily on groundwater, with some tearing out orchards. It also dried up wells, forcing hundreds of families in rural areas to drink bottled water and bathe from buckets.
Brown declared the drought emergency in 2014, and officials later ordered mandatory conservation for the first time in state history. Regulators last year relaxed the rules after a rainfall was close to normal.
But monster storms this winter erased nearly all signs of drought, blanketing the Sierra Nevada with deep snow, California’s key water source, and boosting reservoirs.
“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” (2)
Much of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions involves fairly complicated and advanced technologies. Whether it’s solar panels, batteries, flywheels, or fuel cells, these technologies have typically required public support to bring them to scale at a reasonable price, along with significant regulatory or legal reforms to accommodate these new ways of doing old things, […]
To recommend policies to boost this capital market financing for energy retrofits, UC Berkeley and UCLA Law are today releasing a new report “Powering the Savings:How California Can Tap the Energy Efficiency Potential in Existing Commercial Buildings.” The report is the 17th in the two law schools’ Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, generously supported by Bank of America since 2009.
The report describes ways that California could unlock more private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, particularly in commercial buildings. This financing will flow if there’s a predictable, long-term, measured and verified amount of savings that can be directly traced to energy efficiency measures. New software and methodologies can now more accurately perform this task. They establish a building’s energy performance baseline, calibrating for a variety of factors, such as weather, building use, and occupancy changes. That calibrated or “dynamic” baseline can then form the basis for calculating the energy savings that occur due specifically to efficiency improvements.
But the state currently lacks a uniform, state-sanctioned methodology and technology standard, so utilities are reluctant to base efficiency incentives or programs without regulatory approval to use these new methods. The report therefore recommends that energy regulators encourage utilities to develop aggressive projects based on these emerging metering technologies that can ultimately inform a standard measurement process and catalyze “pay-for-performance” energy efficiency financing, with utilities able to procure energy efficiency savings just like they were a traditional generation resource. […]
A California woman, for one, who wants to ease the drought, put disabled vets to work, and make some money
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bloomberg.com
>” […] The shade balls of Los Angeles are 4 inches in diameter, hollow, polyethylene orbs […] The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has now dumped 96 million balls into local reservoirs to reduce evaporation and block sunlight from encouraging algae growth and toxic chemical reactions. The balls are coated with a chemical that blocks ultraviolet light and helps the spheres last as long as 25 years. Las Virgenes, north of L.A., now uses shade balls, too. […]
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has encouraged the nation’s water managers in recent years to find ways to cover or contain their resources, to prevent sunlight from reacting with chlorine and possibly creating carcinogens, says Ed Osann, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The shade balls shouldn’t pose a pollution problem in themselves, he says, since “everything that comes in contact with drinking water has to be a certified material.” Chase says the balls are designed not to degrade.
The shade balls are a novel way to protect drinking water, and Californians’ latest attempt to adjust to their four-year drought. […]”<
Imagine Manhattan under 300 feet of water, not from a flood or rising sea level, but from the 2.1 trillion gallons of water lost from leaky pipes every year. That is nearly 6 billion gallons a day! The majority of leaks are a result of old infrastructure, pressure changes in the water mains, and small household leaks.
>”[…] Infrastructure leaks
About 14-18% of water treated in the United States is wasted through aging and damaged infrastructure, as well as faulty meters. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the US a “D” grade for water infrastructure. Let’s take a look at a few cities around the US.
Chicago wastes about 22 billion gallons of treated water a year, enough to serve 700,000 individual needs for a whole year.The state of California loses about 228 billion gallons a year, which is more than the city of LA uses in a year. On average the state loses 49 gallons a day for every service connection, and Sacramento loses a whopping 135 gallons per connection.In 2013 San Francisco experienced over 100 water main breaks and New York averages over 400 a year.Houston lost 22 billion gallons of water in 2013, 15% of its total water supplyAccording to the EPA we lose about 34 billion gallons of drinking water a day in the United States, about 1/6 of public water systems supply.
Household water waste
Average household leaks can add up to over 10,000 gallons of water a year, enough water to wash 270 loads of laundry. Nationally, household water waste totals over a trillion gallons – or the equivalent of 11 million households’ yearly usage. The most common types of leaks at the household level are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaky showerheads. 10% of US homes waste over 90 gallons a day just from these small fixtures. Here are some quick facts:
- Faucets: 1 drip/second adds up to over 3,000 gallons a year (you can take 180 showers with that water!)
- a showerhead leaking at 10 drips/minute wastes over 500 gallons a year (that’s 60 loads of dishes)
- Old inefficient toilets can water up to 13,000 gallons a year
- Irrigation leaks just the size of a dime will waste nearly 6,300 gallons a month
[…] Fixing easy leaks can save about 10% on your monthly water bill. Replacing that old toilet with a new efficient toilet could save you upwards of $2,400 over the toilet’s lifetime. […]”<
Continuing a trend that reflects the disrepair and shows no sign of slowing, the price of residential water service in 30 major U.S. cities rose faster than the cost of nearly every other household staple last year …
>” […] The economics of water — particularly the cost of treatment, pumping, and new infrastructure, as well as the retail price for consumers — gained renewed prominence as California and Texas, America’s two most populous states, face historic droughts and water managers seek to rein in water consumption, with price increases as one tool in their arsenal.
The average monthly cost of water for a family of four using 100 gallons per person per day climbed 6 percent, according to data collected from the utilities. It is the smallest year-to-year change in the six-year history of the Circle of Blue survey but comparable to past years. The median increase this year was 4.5 percent. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index rose just 1.8 percent in the 12 months ending in March, not including the volatile food and energy sectors. Including food and energy, prices fell by 0.1 percent.
For families using 150 gallons and 50 gallons per person per day, average water prices rose 6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.
The survey results reflect broad trends in the municipal water industry that nearly every U.S. utility must grapple with, according to Andrew Ward, a director of U.S. public finance for Fitch Ratings, a credit agency.
Distribution pipes, which can branch for thousands of miles beneath a single city, have aged beyond their shelf life and crack open daily. Some assessments peg the national cost of repairing and replacing old pipes at more than $US 1 trillion over the next two decades. In addition, new treatment technologies are needed to meet Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act requirements, and cities must continue to pay down existing debts. At the same time, conservation measures have proven successful. Utilities are selling less water, but they still need big chunks of revenue to cover the substantial cost of building and maintaining a water system. All together, these and other factors amount to a persistent upward pressure on water rates. […]
>” […] Instead of water, each of the two plants will use two powerful air-cooled “Harriet” gas turbines and one air-cooled steam turbine developed by GE. “The technology uses the same cooling principle as the radiator in your car,” Harris says. “You blow in the air and it cools the medium flowing in closed loops around the turbines.”
The power plants, which are expected to open next year, will be using a so-called combined cycle design (see image below) and produce power in two steps. First, the two gas turbines (in the center with exhaust stacks) extract energy from burning natural gas and use it to spin electricity generators. But they also produce waste heat.
The system sends the waste heat to a boiler filled with water, which produces steam that drives a steam turbine to extract more energy and generate more power.
But that’s easier said than done. The steam inside the steamturbine moves in a closed loop and needs to be cooled down back to water so it could be heated up again in the boiler. “Normally, we cool this steam with water, which evaporates and cools down in huge mechanical cooling towers,” says GE engineer Thomas Dreisbach. “A lot of the cooling water escapes in those huge white clouds you sometimes see rising from towers next to power plants.” The Exelon design is using a row of powerful fans and air condensers (rear right) to do the trick and save water.
Similar to the steam turbines, GE’s Harriet gas turbines also use air to chill a closed loop filled with the coolant glycol and reduce the temperature inside the turbine. The combined efficiency of the plant will approach 61 percent, which in the power-generation industry is like running a sub 4-minute mile. […]”<
AeroFarms, a leading commercial grower for vertical farming and controlled agriculture, together with property management firm RBH Group, a slew of investment partners along with the City of Newark and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced the intent to redevelop a former industrial site in Newark’s Ironbound district into a state-of-the art 69,000 square foot indoor vertical farm.
>” […] Currently under construction, the first phases will open in the second half of 2015, creating approximately 78 jobs in a local community with an unemployment rate that is twice the national average. Additionally, AeroFarms has partnered with the Ironbound Community Corporation to create a recruiting and job training program targeting local residents.
The building is located on a 3-acre industrial site in the center of the Ironbound community in Newark, NJ. It is adjacent to elevated truck Route 1 and 9, a freight rail right of way, and to other industrial businesses along Rome and Christie Streets.
When completed, AeroFarms will have the capacity to grow up to 2 million pounds per year of baby leafy greens and herbs in an environmentally controlled, safe, and sanitary facility. It will provide healthy foods to the local community as well as to other markets. AeroFarms is a model for successful, sustainable farming offering 75 times more productivity per square foot annually than a traditional field farm while using no pesticides and consuming over 95% less water. […]”<
The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet. It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water. Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient.
Healthy Green Materials
The Living Building Challenge requires projects to avoid as many of the chemicals and substances that are found on the Red List as possible. These substances have been recognized by government agencies, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency, the European Union Commission, and the State of California, as potentially harmful to human or animal life on Earth. Not all of the substances can be avoided, though, due to the lack of availability of materials that do not contain them.
The Bullitt Center team avoided over 360 known chemicals on this list. Some were easy to avoid, as alternatives were readily available. The team also worked with suppliers to create products that met their requirements, changing the way the products were made and making them available to others.
Most plumbing valves, even those made of brass and bronze, contain up to 7% lead. Lead free valves, with an allowable lead content of only 0.25%, were used in both the potable and non-potable water systems, including fire sprinklers.Phthalates are commonly used in PVC and other plastic products. A high-performance water barrier company performed 6 months of research to develop a product that did not contain phthalates, just for the Bullitt Center project. The new product has now replaced the original version going forward. Dioxins are a by-product of the manufacture, combustion, and disposal of products containing chlorine, most notably PVC products. Couplings for no-hub ductile iron pipe are commonly made with neoprene, which contains chlorine. The team worked with the manufacturer to special order couplings made of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber. The electrician was able to find electrical wire not coated in PVC that met code standards. The fiberglass insulation in the project is held together by a plant-based polymer, not the usual one that contains formaldehyde.
The Bullitt Center is a wood-framed structure. Because of its location and the importance of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest, the project team decided this was the best choice for the project. 100% of the lumber in the building has been harvested from anForest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified source. The project was also recognized as the only commercial project to receive the Forest Stewardship Council Project Certification, in recognition of responsible forest products use throughout the building.
Perhaps the greatest story about green materials and the Bullitt Center involves the curtain wall (window) system. Due to the high performance needs of the project, only one product could be used, and it was only manufactured in Europe. A Washington company partnered with the European manufacturer to gain the knowledge to manufacture and install the system in the US. The Washington company flew their employees over to find out how to make and install the system, and a licensing agreement was reached. Now this high performance system is available in the US for future projects to use.