Southern California environment news and trends

With new work toward energy efficiency in buildings, a reminder of the energy problem that never goes away

With the LEED gold-certified Santa Monica Public Library as its backdrop, Environment California released a new energy efficiency report called "Building a Better America." In it, the group argues the best place to start saving energy is probably the house or office you're sitting in.

The building sector consumes more energy than any other sector of the economy, including transportation and industry. The buildings where we live and work account for about 40 percent of our total energy consumption and nearly three quarters of our electricity use. This level of energy use costs the United States approximately $400 billion every year.

EC says that by following recommendations it lays out in a two-dozen page report, California will cut its greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by "11 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030." 

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US designates prime solar development areas across the West

Solar panels

Brightsource

It was announced today that the U.S. Interior Department, in conjunction with the Department of Energy, is set to publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement identifying 17 public zones across six western states for “utility scale” solar development. According to the Associate Press, the areas were chosen for having both the highest power-generating potential and fewest environmental impacts by way of the two-year report.

“This is a really big milestone in terms of environmentally sensitive and responsible solar development,” said Helen O'Shea of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Having a roadmap for development and conservation and striking the right balance between the two is going to be critical for protecting our western landscapes as we build our clean energy economy.”

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Heat-related deaths expected to soar in U.S.

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Image: Cimexus/Flickr

According to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council, climate change could lead to as many 150,000 more Americans dying from heat-related causes by the end of the century.

As reported by Think Progress, the study, entitled “Killer Summer Heat,” looks at the projected numbers across 40 American cities, and it’s not pretty. With Louisville, KY (19,000 deaths) and Detroit, MI (18,000 deaths) leading the pack, Los Angeles clocks in at 1,200 projected heat-related deaths by the year 2099.

"This is a wake-up call. Climate change has a number of real life-and-death consequences. One of which is that as carbon pollution continues to grow, climate change is only going to increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of lives lost," said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC's climate and clean air program in a press release. "To prevent the health impacts of climate change from getting even worse, we need to establish a comprehensive program to reduce heat-trapping pollution from all sources, by building on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposals to limit carbon pollution from new power plants and cars."

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Season’s eatings: Find local, fresh food with new app

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Abdullah Pope/AFP/Getty Images

In the produce-rich state of California, it’s easy to get spoiled by the vast variety of fresh food available at local farmers markets and grocery stores. But with food knowledge becoming more of a commodity in Los Angeles, there are still plenty of us who have no idea when tomatoes are in season or where to find the freshest kale in town. Thanks to a new iPhone app ‘Eat Local,’ finding fresh, local food near you — as well as a host of healthy eating information — is available at the touch of a screen.

As reported by Treehugger, the functional, easy to navigate app allows users to find local farmers markets, and see what exactly is in season in the chosen region at any given time. Perusing the California page, each month of the year is broken in half, detailing what exactly is in season early in the month as opposed to later in the month. There are harvest calendars for northern and southern California and over 100 healthy recipes.

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Always more work, and more reports, on energy efficiency in California buildings

mollyali/Flickr

The Santa Monica Public Library is a LEED-Gold certified building. And it's 6 years old.

With the LEED-gold certified Santa Monica Public Library as its backdrop, Environment California today released a new energy efficiency report called "Building a Better America." In it, the group argues the best place to start saving energy is probably the house or office you're sitting in.

The building sector consumes more energy than any other sector of the economy, including transportation and industry. The buildings where we live and work account for about 40 percent of our total energy consumption and nearly three quarters of our electricity use. This level of energy use costs the United States approximately $400 billion every year.

EC says that, by following recommendations it lays out in a 2-dozen page report, California will cut its greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by "11 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030." 

Read More...