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Energy Policy Group Targets Biomass

The Drax Power Station in England, the country's largest. The plant has converted four of its six boilers from coal to wood and imports wood pellets from the U.S. Southeast. Photo by Ian Britton / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Flickr A push for wood-burning power plants has eased in the U.S., but the use of wood pellets to produce electricity is flourishing elsewhere and remains a serious environmental threat, an energy policy advocacy group warns. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Mary S. Booth said the use of forest biomass as a replacement for coal is increasing the…

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PHIUS Conference Set for December

The Joslin Hill Passive House in Waitsfield, Vermont, was named the best single family home in last year's design competition. It was designed by Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Architects in Portland, Maine. Photo by Irvin Serrano. The annual conference will take place this year in Arlington, Virginia, with two days of pre-conference programming on December 4 and 5, the core conference on December 6 and 7, and a tour of Passive House projects on December 8. The conference brings together a variety of high-performance building professionals to focus on building science, construction detailing, mechanical systems, and case studies of…

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Embodied Carbon Emissions in Buildings

Phil and Chris, hosts of the Green Architects’ Lounge Podcast, define and discuss embodied carbon in buildings, and make an impassioned case for understanding why this is absolutely the most urgent issue we face in the design and construction industry today—even ahead of zero-energy building—as we work together to combat a fast-approaching climate crisis. Listen to the podcast https://cdn.simplecast.com/audio/244dd9/244dd98f-d8ab-4943-9b47-4fb0f1713e30/dfff632a-3e39-4bea-9f57-1c11892dfe95/gal_102_master2_tc.mp3 Embodied carbon is carbon that is emitted in the production of materials, and the building industry is responsible for 40% of global annual emissions. Buildings are the problem and the solution, and understanding the immediate impacts of embodied carbon is absolutely…

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What’s the Environmentally Friendliest Way to Shop?

Is cyber-shopping terrible for the environment?  Some say yes, with all those trucks heading out into suburbia to deliver your latest gadget, fashion garment, or book. But online retailers insist it is the greener delivery route—much better than you driving to the store. So, who is right? And are there even better ways? This really does matter for. Online shopping makes up one in seven retail purchases worldwide. Its value in 2019 will be a staggering $3.5 trillion, a figure that is rising by more than a fifth every year. How much of the total carbon footprint of what you…

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Heading Off Ice Dams Before They Form

Long icicles hanging from the eaves make for great ski country advertising, but ice dams that form along the lower edges of a roof may lead to damage as melting water backs up and has no place to go but inside the house. Writing from the Boston, Massachusetts, area, Kevin says in a Q&A post that he is aware of the danger and is looking for ways to eliminate that threat when he puts a new roof on his house. Although the roof has been shaded until recently, the removal of some nearby trees means the two-story house will be…

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Lung Disease Strikes Engineered Stone Fabricators

Cutting engineered stone under a jet of water reduces airborne silica, a serious health risk for unprotected fabricators. Photo by Scott Gibson. Fabricators in four western states who work with engineered stone to make kitchen and bath countertops are showing increased cases of a potentially fatal illness linked to job site exposure to silica. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 workers in four western states were diagnosed with silicosis in a two-year period, including two fatalities. Most of them worked with engineered stone. Engineered stone—sold under brand names such as Caesarstone and Silestone—is…

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