Archive for the 'Green Building' Category

Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?

This post was co-written with Michael Davidson.

Image credit: UOPowerShift09Just in case our 5 years of swarming state capitals decked out in green hard hats, running campaigns calling for more jobs in clean energy, and vowing to only vote for candidates who support renewable energy companies hasn’t made it clear — youth really want more green jobs.

While young people have been some of the biggest advocates for green jobs, no one has really tried to answer the question of whether green jobs will be youth jobs? Will more green jobs mean more jobs for youth, or will young people miss out on the very green jobs we’ve worked so hard to create?

So far, the answer has been “we don’t know.” That’s because, despite all of the green jobs studies that have been done, none of them has really looked at the different kinds of people who actually get green jobs (one exception is for income and education level). This is especially true across different races, ethnicities, genders, and, yeah, ages. So, we set out to change that, writing the first study we know of to look at youth access to green jobs, and also the first written by youth. Continue reading ‘Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?’

Youth Forge Solutions Nationwide – All Are Welcome

At a youth climate meeting in Minnesota in January 2008, a neat idea emerged from discussion:

‘We need to start training young people, not just FOR green jobs, but TO CREATE green jobs. We should start in the Twin Cities this summer.’

Fast-forward three years, and over 250 young people have been trained over three years in Summer of Solutions programs around the country to create innovative and self-sustaining solutions around energy efficiency, green industry, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and smart transportation and design that advance job creation, social justice, and community empowerment. A network of over 70 youth leaders has coalesced to launch a national organization from nothing and develop 2011 Summer of Solutions programs that will support hundreds of youth in creating the clean energy economy in 15 cities nationwide. These programs have expanded rapidly in number, quality, and sustainability over the years without grant support, and with a major influx of funding and leadership in late 2010, we’re just hitting our stride.

As you read on, I’d encourage you to think of any young people (individuals or groups) who might be interested in a summer program based on community-based innovation in the clean energy economy. If so, please invite them to apply to any of our 15 programs nationwide by April 24th at

Continue reading ‘Youth Forge Solutions Nationwide – All Are Welcome’

Disasters and Resilience: Clean Energy Can Save Us

NASA – ISS over Hurricane Andrew

Kaifukuryoku (回 復力), is the Japanese word for resilience. For many in Japan, resilience has become a a way of life, a goal that has driven one of the most advanced efforts at planning for disasters in the world.

The word tsunami is also Japanese, originating in their long familiarity of living on the knife edge of disaster, wedged between volcanoes, fault-lines, typhoons, and the vastness of the Pacific ocean.

Yet, the three disasters Japan is grappling with today are showing the limits of resilience and industrial societies.

Buildings in Japan are subject to incredible standards for flexibility and strength, to survive the earthquakes that threaten cities. Mt. Fuji has incredible lava channels and barriers built to protect Tokyo from an eruption. Volcano, typhoon, and earthquake monitoring systems are linked to alarms that can be activated to warn citizens to seek shelter and/or higher ground.

These all saved lives.

Yet, now as Japan should be mobilizing all its resources to feed, house, and evacuate citizens who have been impacted by this terrible disaster, it is mobilizing to prevent a third and possibly worst disaster, a nuclear catastrophe.

Continue reading ‘Disasters and Resilience: Clean Energy Can Save Us’

Qatar 2022 – A Carbon Neutral World Cup?

At approximately 10:45 AM EST Thursday, FIFA (Soccer’s international governing body) announced Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. The announcement, which shocked people around the world, came minutes after Russia was announced as the World Cup 2018 host.

The announcement has not been without controversy. From questions about strong cultural differences and laws to the heat and overcrowding. Not to mention size issues – Qatar is a small nation of only 1.6 million people. Richard Spencer of The Times (UK) wrote about the cultural controversy surround Qatar, “I wonder if today’s decision might have come at just the wrong time.”

Continue reading ‘Qatar 2022 – A Carbon Neutral World Cup?’

Column: Building a green campus

Congratulations to Sam Rivers for getting his Op-Ed published in the Diamondback.  Sam is a new member of the University of Maryland Student group UMD for Clean Energy, and he stepped right in by writing a column to the student newspaper about the need for the massive East Campus redevelopment project to be an ambitious green development.  Back when I was Campaign Director of the group as a senior last spring, we organized a successful event that put pressure on the university to stipulate in its RFP (request for proposal) that sustainable development was a top priority, and had to be one for any prospective developer.  Some  members of  the group met with The Cordish Companies'(the selected developer) development director and their design team last month to discuss students demands for a cutting edge green development, and listen to what the design team was planning.

UMD for Clean Energy at the Cordish Companies Headquarters

Now with the developer’s first public forum set for tomorrow, the group is looking to generate student and community support for rebuilding downtown College Park into a sustainable community that others can look to.  Below is Sam’s column discussing East Campus and this forum. Continue reading ‘Column: Building a green campus’

Pushing UMD to Build Green

My opinion column on the University of Maryland and green building is out today.  If you want to read UMD’s impressive new GHG inventory, see here.

I want to congratulate the university and student activists for their recent major accomplishments on the sustainability front. The 2009 Campus Carbon Footprint Report of our campus emissions recently came out and found that in 2009, the carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 26,394 metric tons, a 10.5 percent reduction from 2005. This means that the university is on pace to meet its goal of a 15 percent reduction by 2012. Continue reading ‘Pushing UMD to Build Green’

Scott Adams’ green house of denial

Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert”, recently wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled: How I (Almost) Saved the Earth. As I type, it is making the rounds on social networks, emails, and probably being talked about around the water coolers that Adams portrays in his iconic comic strip. Why is the article so popular? Does it speak some truth that needed a voice? Does it introduce a concept that furthers the discussion on environmentalism? No. It strikes a chord because it tells people what they want to hear.
Cartoon from "How I (Almost) Saved the Earth

by Scott Adams

At first read, Adams’ piece seems to be just another cute reflection of an average Joe’s attempt to “go green.” But there’s more to it than that. A certain paragraph in the middle epitomises the sentiment that I consider to be the greatest threat to the climate (us) since the industrial revolution. (Yeah, I know. Stay with me.) Here it is:
“I prefer a more pragmatic definition of green. I think of it as living the life you want, with as much Earth-wise efficiency as your time and budget reasonably allow. Now back to our story.”
That, my friends, is what denial looks like.

This idea, and subsequently the entire article, is a case against activism. It serves as a reassuring pat-on-the-back for those who have a lingering notion that recycling and bicycling isn’t enough, but cannot bear to internalize the severity of the climate crisis.

A Beast Event for Greening East Campus

Photo: Charlie Deboyace, Diamondback

Cross-posted from: The Dernogalizer

Last night, UMD for Clean Energy held its major event of the semester, Making East Campus a Beast Campus, and it rocked!  I counted 70+ students, College Park civic activists, half the College Park City Council, the Mayor, and Vice President for Admin Affairs for the university, Ann Wylie.  At this event, we called for the university to make it’s upcoming $900 million East Campus development a model for universities across the country.

I personally got to speak about the need for the buildings to be carbon neutral.  It was great to get a discussion going between students, politicians, experts, and university administrators about the largest investment in our college town in several decades.  After the event, students, residents and members of the City Council talked to myself and other members of the group, fired up about making sure that our growth is truly green.  Below is the front page Diamondback article on the event.  We’ve already pushed into the blogs (#1, #2, #3), opinion section of our newspaper, created a new website page for how citizens can influence the development, and a video from UMD students explaining why we need to build green.  We even spread the event info via Twitter!  We’re expecting a big hit from Maryland’s Prince Georges Gazette this Thursday.  **Update** : Here it is

Continue reading ‘A Beast Event for Greening East Campus’

UMD for Clean Energy: Make East Campus a Beast Campus

We’ve already been asked several times where that title came from.  Consider us poetic.  Here at the University of Maryland, UMD for Clean Energy is organizing a major event on green development practices next Monday, April 5th.  Check out the background from our website on why we’re organizing.  Below is one of two blog hits we just received thanks to Rachel Hare, one of our members.  There’s also an op-ed I have out in our campus newspaper today about why we need to go all out on greening the East Campus development.  If you have friends in Maryland, let them know about this event!

Since developer Foulger-Pratt pulled out of plans for the University of Maryland’s East Campus Development project last fall, the entire endeavor has been thrown into uncertainty.  The university has reconsidered the project’s design, the timeline, and even toyed with the idea of postponing or abandoning the plan.  But among the growing uncertainty, there is something else: an opportunity.

The East Campus project presents an opportunity for the University of Maryland to become the benchmark for sustainable development in Maryland. Continue reading ‘UMD for Clean Energy: Make East Campus a Beast Campus’

Commonwealth Challenge: Will Massachusetts Lead the Next American Revolution?

Today Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced a $63 million investment to retrofit 4300 public housing units. The plan trumps Chicago’s $43 million project as the nation’s largest energy efficiency investment in public housing.

Mayor Menino’s announcement comes after Massachusetts finalized a three-year plan to triple utility investments in energy efficiency. Boston and the State of Massachusetts are moving toward a clean energy future. But will it be enough?

An emerging coalition of faith, business, environmental, and workforce development groups are joining The Leadership Campaign in challenging the Massachusetts State Legislature to double-down on recent clean energy and energy efficiency investments by creating a task force to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2020. The campaign – The Commonwealth Challenge, launched on March 4th – is not your typical political initiative.

Continue reading ‘Commonwealth Challenge: Will Massachusetts Lead the Next American Revolution?’

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