US EPA finds the most energy efficient buildings in top 10 cities

Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its sixth annual list of the 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in 2013. The list demonstrates economic and environmental benefits achieved by facility owners and managers in America’s leading cities when they apply a proven approach to energy efficiency to their buildings.

2014 ten most endangered rivers

American Rivers yesterday announced its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers®, naming California's San Joaquin River the Most Endangered River in the country. Outdated water management and excessive diversions, compounded by the current drought, have put the San Joaquin River at a breaking point.

Coordinated chemistry yields green solutions for more efficient gas storage

Metal Organic Frameworks (commonly called MOFs) are intricate crystal structures that can store or separate individual elements in a highly efficient manner. MOFs are materials made by linking inorganic and organic units together with strong bonds formed through coordination chemistry. MOFs are not only leading the way in providing clean technology solutions, but are actively being explored by the energy, transportation, and pharmaceutical industries to deliver new applications (for energy storage).

City lights threaten rain forests by deterring bats

Fruit-eating bats play an important role in forest regeneration, collecting and spreading seeds far and wide. However, human development may be stymying bat-mediated dispersal. In a new study published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology, researchers found that fruit bats avoid feeding in light-polluted areas, which may significantly affect forest growth. Scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin (IZW), undertook the study in Costa Rica, and focused on Sowell's short-tailed bats (Carollia sowelli), a species found throughout Central America and Mexico. The findings of their study indicate that artificial lights may deter these bats from feeding on fruit and spreading seeds by 25 to 50 percent.

REI Commits to Solar Energy to Reduce Climate Impact

REI, the $2 billion national outdoor retailer, is committed to renewable energy. The company has 26 locations with solar power systems in eight states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia).

LED Bulb Challenge ending soon!

The most inefficient light bulbs may now be off the market, in response to new federal standards, but nearly 70% of light bulb sockets in the U.S. still contain an inefficient bulb. Retailers across the country are stepping up to help change that, as part of the Energy Star LED Bulb Challenge.

Latest species discovery: the littlest crayfish from down under

Hidden in one of Australia's most developed and fastest growing areas lives one of the world's smallest freshwater crayfish species. Robert B. McCormack the Team Leader for the Australian Crayfish Project described the new species belonging to the genus Gramastacus, after 8 years of research in the swamps and creeks of coastal New South Wales, Australia. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Why Are Scientists Genetically Modifying Trees?

The Lorax may speak for the trees, but even he might want to stop to listen to researchers' new plans to genetically alter trees. What may outwardly seem like disconcerting news just might change how paper is made for the better. The engineered trees would allow manufacturers to create paper significantly easier. Moreover, it's not just the paper industry that benefits from this change – the effects would be advantageous to the entire planet.

Desert absorption helps curtail CO2 levels

Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth's carbon budget – how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.

How the Zebra got its Stripes

Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. Evolutionary theories include a form of camouflage, a mechanism of heat management, and disrupting predatory attack by confusing carnivores. In order to better understand the black and white stripe evolution, a research team led by the University of California, Davis, has now examined this riddle systematically, and what they found is that biting flies, including horseflies and tsetse flies, play a major role as the evolutionary driver for zebra stripes. The team mapped the geographic distributions of the seven different species of zebras, horses and asses, and of their subspecies, noting the thickness, locations, and intensity of their stripes on several parts of their bodies. Their next step was to compare these animals' geographic ranges with different variables, including woodland areas, ranges of large predators, temperature, and the geographic distribution of glossinid (tsetse flies) and tabanid (horseflies) biting flies. They then examined where the striped animals and these variables overlapped.