Insights from greenhouse gas research

Scholars at leading universities are studying, quantifying, and predicting the impact of climate change. They are also publishing fresh ideas for limiting and mediating that impact.


Transition to renewable energy recommended

Research project at the University of Michigan

Coal Power Plant

In the United States, 28% of greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions are the result of generating electricity from fossil fuels. Solar and wind could generate much of that energy, but utility companies have determined renewables to be costly and inefficient.

Those companies are correct. The problem is not inefficient solar panels or slow wind turbines. In fact, renewable energy sources can produce more power than what is needed. Energy storage costs are the problem. On exceptionally sunny or windy days, excess power is wasted. The cost remains high.

If taxes were collected on carbon dioxide, investment in energy storage solutions might look better on utility company balance sheets. Solar and wind could replace fossil fuels.

The University of Michigan research considered the impact of adding up to 20 gigawatts of wind and 40 gigawatts of solar capacity after levying carbon dioxide taxes of up to $200 per ton. That could achieve a 72% carbon dioxide reduction in California. For Texas, better storage could bring a 57% emissions reduction. The research found that on a national scale, the shift to renewable energy could yield a 90% reduction in power plant GhG emissions.

A recent article at the University of Michigan News describes the project and its findings.


Unexpected  methane leaks found at petroleum rigs

Research team led by Princeton University

The study measured methane leakage at eight North Sea petroleum installations. Previously reported leakage, 0.13% of production, had appeared low. The researchers found an additional 0.19% occurred during normal operations. That is the equivalent impact of an additional 330,000 cars on the road.

Learn more about the survey results and their impact at Princeton.edu.


New project to predict effects of stratospheric particle release

Research at Harvard University

Solar Geoengineering

Solar geoengineering would change the stratosphere to reduce sunlight at lower altitudes and on the Earth’s surface. the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) Project will investigate critical issues about that strategy to counter the effects of greenhouse gases:

What would happen if particulates were scattered in the stratosphere?

If enough sunlight were reflected into space, would that reduce the catastrophic results of climate change?

What are the risks and uncertainties of solar geoengineering?

Solar geoengineering was first proposed in the 1950’s. Proponents then reasoned that particles released in the stratosphere could reflect sunlight back into space. Before SCoPEx, the benefits had not been quantified and associated risks had not been researched. Ozone layer effects were not considered. There had been no consideration of possible disruption to the stratosphere.

The SCoPEx project will measure how a small quantity of particulate matter interacts with the upper atmosphere. A high-altitude balloon will hoist an instrument package aloft. The particulates will be released at an altitude of approximately 12 miles. Onboard instruments will measure aerosol density, atmospheric chemistry, and light scattering. Wind measurements will provide data that may give insight into ways that stratospheric turbulence is generated.

Visit the Harvard Solar Geoengineering Research Program website

Benefits and risks of solar geoengineering are discussed here: SEAS.Harvard.edu

Dig Deeper articles survey the recent reporting about climate change, smart technologies, and workplace wellness.

Here, we share highlights and source links. Do you have a topic or article for a future edition? Please leave a note on this website’s Contact page.

Alexa Stone
LEED AP, Sustainable Facility Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional - - Alexa has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development. Her strategic planning work has served local, state, and federal government, higher education, and private industry. Alexa founded ecoPreserve in 2009 as a team of 3 and has grown the company to over a dozen of the brightest sustainability and project management professionals in the industry.
Alexa Stone

@ecopreserve

We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
https://t.co/DpdVXaSnU6 #RESILIENCY This Workplace Wellness Minute video describes List N of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). - 1 month ago
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Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.