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Trees: Good for the Planet, Good for Your Health – August 14, 2014

First-of-its-kind study quantifies urban trees’ benefits to public health

Trees planted in metropolitan areas can feel like little more than ornamentation, an artsy effort to enliven the urban jungles of concrete and asphalt. But it turns out that city trees have real, quantifiable health benefits that exceed expectations. According to a new study by the US Forest Service, some 850 human deaths and 670,000 incidences of serious respiratory illness are avoided each year within the United States thanks to our towering, green friends.

photo of a city skyline, a tree-filled park dominating the backgroundPhoto by Mathew Knott, FlickrNew York City’s Central Park. According to the study, the value of a tree… more

by: Hanna Morris

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Environmental Advocacy 3.0 – August 11, 2014

Today’s up-and-coming green advocates are redefining what environmentalism means to them

The initial years following college graduation are daunting, a time when the fuzzy, warm mirage of an imagined future morphs into a harsh, though still unclear, present reality. For some new graduates, trading skinny jeans and picket signs for a sleek pantsuit and briefcase is what “growing up” means. Even the most idealistic sometimes abandon their aspiring life of activism – a conscious decision to sacrifice personal financial gain for the greater good – during this post-academic transition. Yet as I look at my peers, I see many people who remain committed to progressive change. So what, exactly, is motivating today’s graduates to continue on with environmental activism? I interviewed a… more

by: Hanna Morris

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California Schools Struggle to Take Advantage of Clean Energy Funding Windfall – August 5, 2014

Proposition 39 remains more of a promise than a proven success

Rows of smartly-placed solar panels, a green bounty of veggies and herbs planted next to sleek buildings wired with highly efficient lighting systems — to an unknowing visitor of the San Mateo County Community College district, California Clean Energy Jobs Act (aka Proposition 39) has fulfilled its intended purpose in splendid fashion.  “Our district was prepared, we already had the resources and support,” facilities manager Karen D. Powell says. “Other districts were not like us.”

photonamePhoto courtesy of California Solar Schools A solar installation at Mt Diablo High School in Concord, CA. For many school districts,
however, energy efficiency is a luxury when… more

by: Hanna Morris

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From Personalized Climate to Trash Trackers, Researchers Explore Radical Redesign of Cities – July 10, 2014

MIT's Senseable Cities Lab advocates using social media to build “open source,” sustainable urban spaces

Imagine a room “smart” enough to know just how hot or cold you’re feeling throughout the day. Better yet, imagine that this room is capable of regulating the bubble of air around you to the perfect temperature for maximum comfort. No more sweaty summer days or icy winter mornings at the office. It’s almost like a dream come true, right?

Santa Rita MountainsPhoto by Giulia Bruno/MIT The lab's "Local Warming" technology made its debut at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy last month. Beams of infrared radiation from units in the ceiling follow each person in the room, creating personal climates.

MIT’s Senseable… more

by: Hanna Morris

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Planning a Day at the Beach? Check the Water Quality First – June 25, 2014

Ten percent of America’s beach waters fail to meet EPA’s new safety standards, says NRDC report

Towel, check! Sunscreen, check! Flip flops, check! Water quality testing kit, check? According to a report released today, summer getaways to the sandy shoreline may be more damaging to personal health than good.

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s 24th annual beach report, Testing the Waters, has found that 10 percent of all water quality samples collected last year contained bacteria levels that failed to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s new benchmark for swimmer safety. Samples were collected from nearly 3,500 US coastal and Great Lakes beaches. The findings confirm that serious water pollution persists at many American shores.

A busy beach scenePhoto by courtesy… more

by: Hanna Morris

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