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Sustainability : In the News

94 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All

U-M solar car wins 4th straight title

Looks like U-M's solar car team is like the Yankees of sun-powered competitors. Since 1990 they've raked up a nine wins at the 2012 American Solar Challenge, four in the last four years.


"The Ann Arbor-based university's car Quantum won the eight-day solar vehicle competition on Saturday. The 1,650-mile event started July 14 in Rochester, N.Y., and ended in St. Paul, Minn.

Michigan's Quantum crossed the finish line about 2:30 p.m. CDT, with cars from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and Principia College in Elsah, Ill., coming in second and third. There were 18 teams in all."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor is a finalist for national Green Cities award

If you're an avid reader of Waste & Recycling News (all 12 of you) you might have noticed that The Deuce made it into the Top 3 mid-sized Green Cities for its residential recycling program. Cool beans. Now, if we could only show as much dedication to commercial recycling, which accounts for 50+% of waste.


Nearly 100 municipalities across North America — a record — entered the contest, according to a press release from the city. Ann Arbor is among Anaheim, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., as one of three medium-sized city finalists.

The Green City Award recognizes communities that have shown exceptional leadership in successfully communicating and promoting their residential recycling programs.

Read the rest here.
Read Waste & Recycling News here.

How green is your Ann Arbor home?

Green building gets some high profile attention from the Freep as a local insulation demonstration draws crowds and Matt Grocoff's greener-than-thou homestead produces excess electricity. Both stories are guaranteed to make you feel sustainably inadequate.


"Imagine a home so green and energy-efficient that it produces enough electricity that you can skip paying a utility bill.

In fact, the power company pays you for the excess electricity that your house generates. Matthew Grocoff imagined it and made it happen at his 111-year-old west-side Ann Arbor home."

Read all about the wonder of insulation in the Behind The Drywall article here (with photo essay).

Read all about the Grocoff home here (with photo essay).

U-M researchers seek to make buildings smarter, more energy efficient

Buildings are cited as accounting for 72% of electrical consumption in the U.S.. Seems like a pretty good place to start looking for conservation strategies.


"A team of computer, environmental and computer scientists; architects; and natural resources specialists starts work this fall at the Ann Arbor school.

Their 2-year project seeks ways to sharply cut the carbon footprint of the power demands that buildings place on the electrical grid."

Read the rest here.

U-M Solar Car movie premiere tonight at Michigan Theater

We've written about U-M's solar car team before. Now, you can watch their efforts on the glorious silver screen. Tonight at 7 p.m. the documentary, Racing With The Sun, will be screening at the Michigan Theater. Members of the Solar Car Team will be on hand to answer questions afterward. Best of all, it's free!


"Students from disciplines across campus put their heart and soul into the October 2011 race that included a smoldering brush fire and wind-shearing road trains. Quantum placed third behind teams from Japan and The Netherlands. It wasn’t the first-place finish they were hoping for, but no other U.S. team has had back-to-back top-three World Solar Challenge finishes."

Read the rest here.

U-M students' waste-to-energy startup looking to raise $2M

A quartet of University of Michigan students came up with an idea for a bioreactor that could use methane to heat water. After winning several business plan competitions, the founders of ReGenerate are finally being asked to turn their concept into a real-world technology.


"Having proven adept at winning business plan competitions, it's time for waste-to-energy company ReGenerate Solutions LLC to win some actual customers. The Ann Arbor-based startup, founded by four University of Michigan students, is in the midst of raising a seed round of up to $2 million to move it from proof-of-concept stage to commercialization."

Read the rest of the story here.

Downtown geothermal project: Harbinger of greener things to come?

Even with its big upfront costs, more and more businesses and municipalities are seeing the economic and sustainable virtues of going geothermal. Could the system currently being installed in the Marketplace Building signal a shift in downtown building practices?


"The geothermal system at the Marketplace Building starts underground in a lot north of Argiero's Restaurant, running under the brick pavement of Detroit Street to reach the building.

Aspects like crossing a public right-of-way with the underground pipes, liability and ongoing maintenance of the pipes under roadways concerned city staff as they researched and finalized the agreements, Harshe said.

The Downtown Development Authority, which funded part of the effort through its Energy Program, also played a role.

“I’m intrigued about its potential to make downtown even more of a sustainable center,” said Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA."

Read the rest of the story here.

In Ann Arbor, the bride wore green

Here's another thing for bridezillas to worry about: whether their wedding is green enough. All kidding aside, if sustainable funerals are possible, why not weddings? An Ann Arbor couple proves it can done.


"It was in August 2010, the Ann Arbor couple (Engel and Dyer) were married in a “green” outdoor wedding ceremony and reception near the Huron River fit to pay homage to their shared love of the planet and the outdoors.

The trend toward green weddings certainly isn’t new, but researchers say it has evolved to allow lovers to incorporate their personal preferences and still afford their marriage."

read the rest of the story here.

Can The Big House go solar?

Ann Arbor's Ecology Center, along with 3,000 petitioners, are trying to convince U-M to turn the largest sports stadium in North America into the largest sustainable sports stadium in the world.


"In 2009, University of Michigan students completed a feasibility assessment of a stadium solar project, estimating that an installation could divert 776 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Ecology Center's campaign is asking University officials to move beyond feasibility assessments by engaging with Michigan's solar manufacturers and developing a project to offset some of the stadium's electricity use and feed it back into the grid during times when the stadium isn't used."

Read the rest of the story here.

Forbes ranks Ann Arbor CEO Ann Marie Sastry in "Top 12 Women of Cleantech"

Clean tech is all the rage in start-up culture and Ann Arbor is making its mark. Or rather, Ann Marie Sastry, president and CEO of Sakti3, is. Forbes just ranked her amongst the "Top 12 Women of Cleantech." Nice timing to go along with the company's recent plans for expansion.


"Men invented, engineered, invested in, and presided over the technologies and companies that made oil, coal, and natural gas the dominant fuels of our time. And now men appear to be running the show at most of the firms pushing renewables, efficiency, clean cars, and the smart grid. (The Wall Street Journal's recent list of the top ten cleantech enterprises, for instance, is essentially a men's club.)

Look a little closer, though, and you see that women are gradually, quietly permeating clean-energy industries. Some are engineering new technologies. Some are climbing the ranks in big companies. Some are investing tens of millions in start-ups, or founding their own. Women are still a small minority in this sector, to be sure, but there's good reason to believe that they will play ever greater and more influential roles in the fast-evolving cleantech sector than they ever have in fossil fuels."

Read more here.

Is clean-burning coal possible? U-M to find out

Clean tech may not yet be an economic force of nature, but it is clearly the way of the future. To wit, U-M, along with seven other universities, has landed a grant to look into how to achieve clean burning coal.


"The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday that it has awarded two grants to the University of Michigan to underwrite $1.2 million in research on the use of coal-based fuels in clean-burning advanced turbines."

Read more here.

Ann Arbor's oldest sibling comes for a visit

It's a week-long visit from our older, wiser urban sibling. Germany's Tübingen looks, listens, and presents its ideas about urban development and sustainability.


"Today Tübingen is Ann Arbor’s most committed sister city. Student exchanges happen regularly year and talented artists from Ann Arbor occasionally have opportunities to take their talents to Tübingen, or vice-versa, for showcases.

The purpose of this visit is for the Tübingen delegation to study sustainable development in urban settings like Ann Arbor and Detroit and to compare it to what they see in Germany. The delegation’s five-day itinerary, running from Sunday to Thursday, is packed with activities."

Read the rest of the story here.

Google Adwords to turn its downtown offices green

Solar panels, a garden to supply its cafe, and zipcars for employee use are the first arrows in Google's sustainable quiver, as the Internet giant teams with landlord, McKinley, to make its Ann Arbor office greener.


"At the five-story McKinley Towne Centre where Google operates its main Michigan office, a large array of rooftop solar panels are turning sunlight into clean energy. Work has begun to create an outdoor green space on another portion of the building's roof. And two vehicles from the car-sharing service Zipcar can be found in the parking lot, making it easier for employees to walk, bike or take the bus to work without having to worry about needing a car later in the day.

Greenhouse veggies coming

Google also plans to transform part of the building's basement into a greenhouse. The vegetables grown there will be used by Google's chef for meals served in the company's café."

Read the rest of the story here.

U-M scientists say: sunlight + batteries = energy

Scientists at U-M have made a discovery that could possibly convert sunlight into electricity at costs far below those for today's photovoltaic cells. They envision an "optical battery" of sorts.


"The breakthrough – unveiled Friday in a scientific paper in the Journal of Applied Physics – shows that if light is intense enough, it can, when traveling through nonconductive material, generate voltage from magnetic effects 100 million times stronger than earlier expected. Such magnetic effects produce a strong electric field that can be harnessed for electric power production, Dr. Rand and Mr. Fisher say.

“This could lead to a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation,” Rand said in a statement. “In solar cells, the light goes into a material, gets absorbed and creates heat. Here, we expect to have a very low heat load. Instead of the light being absorbed, energy is stored in the magnetic moment."

Read the rest of the story here.

U-M Solar Car team hoping to cross Australian finish line first

No solar car building team in America has won the World Solar Challenge since the race's 1987 debut. U-M's Quantum --the U's 11th car-- is out to reclaim the trophy 24 years later.


"Only two things matter when building a race car powered by the sun: maximizing efficiency and minimizing weight. Everything else is secondary when the goal is crossing a continent using just enough energy to power a hair dryer.

All the top teams in the esoteric sport of solar racing embrace this “less is more” ethos to a degree that would please Colin Chapman. But the University of Michigan, arguably America’s best team, has taken it to fanatical levels in a relentless drive to win the World Solar Challenge in October.

The biennial sprint across Australia is the oldest and most prestigious race of its kind, the Daytona 500 or Monaco Grand Prix of solar racing."

Read the rest of the story here.

94 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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