STORMWATER TOOL INCLUDES CLIMATE CHANGE
The EPA has updated its Stormwater Management Model to
include the Climate Adjustment Tool, which will allow building
professionals to evaluate the performance of their water infrastructure while using the most up-to-date projections to stay
ahead of the climate change curve.
The updated tool allows users to add climate projections based
on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s existing
scenarios to assess the quality of water that will travel through
traditional infrastructure. It can also project the performance of
green building practices such as green roofs and rain gardens.
The tool is expected to be used to effectively model unique
combinations of traditional and green infrastructure practices so
that building professionals will be able to predict the success of
initiatives that manage stormwater and sewer overflows.
WIND POWER GROWS IN
The portion of electricity generated by
wind power in Texas increased to over
10% of total electricity use in 2014,
according to the Electric Reliability
Council of Texas, the grid operator that
covers most of the state. The amount
of wind energy being used increased
from 6.2% in 2009 to 10.6% in 2014
with over 36 million MWh produced.
The increase in renewable wind en-
ORANGE TREES IMPROVE ACOUSTIC INSULATION
ergy is due to new wind plants coming
online and grid expansions allowing
more wind power to flow through the
system and reach consumers. Also
noted as a benefit is the removal of
transmission constraints through a
state-directed transmission exchange
program, which allowed more produced energy to reach the
state’s densely populated urban centers. However, considering
that total electricity generated rose by 11.6% in the same time span
that wind production increased, the Lone Star State will need to
continue pushing clean energy sources to catch up to fossil fuels.
A new method for creating acoustic insulation uses fibers from
orange tree pruning, creating a product that provides 150% more
noise control than conventional gypsum boards. The researchers
from the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia and the Universitat de
Girona used polypropylene, a common plastic, in addition to the
orange tree fibers to develop the new insulation material.
Published in the Journal of Construction and Building Materials,
the research shows that the design provides an acoustic insulation
potential of about 29 dBA, while gypsum boards typically provide
around 27 dBA. The researchers note that by using a double solution material, one that incorporates two boards and an absorbent
wool in between, the improvement over gypsum could be as high
as 5 to 6 dBA, more than double the single layer design.
BIOFUELS THAT DON’T COMPETE WITH FOOD
Production of biofuels and animal feed from one crop has been
achieved thanks to a new method published in Biotechnology for
Biofuels. Called solid-state fermentation, biological materials such
as rice plants, yeast, and enzymes are formed into bales. As they
incubate, the sugars and starch create ethanol. The leftover bale
can then be used as high quality animal feed.
The zero-waste process can be completed on individual farms
rather than specialized facilities. Unlike biofuels sourced from
corn or sugarcane, this complementary animal food and biofuel
production will circumvent issues related to land-use competition.
Additionally, new research from the University of California,
Riverside has discovered a pretreatment method that could cut
the production cost of biofuels by 30% or more. The process could
eliminate around 90% of the enzymes needed to create the fuels,
meaning that the cost could drop from around $1 per gallon of
ethanol to 10 cents or even lower.