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Category Archives: Sustainability

Sustainability Brief Overview of Solar Utilization Network

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship: Solar Utilization Network (IGERT-SUN)

The IGERT-SUN program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The faculty includes: Willem (Wim) Vermaas, DSc, Program Director; Cesar I. Torres, PhD; Jenefer Husman, PhD; David Guston, PhD; and, Ana Moore, PhD. A key goal of the program is to enlist PhD students from a wide range of disciplines to examine how to advance solar energy science and usage, focusing on three approaches: photovoltaics, solar thermal, and photosynthesis driven bioenergy. IGERT-SUN is designed to seek transitioning our current fossil-fuel based economy to these various forms of solar energy. The variety of participants includes students pursuing doctorates in Engineering, Biochemistry, Environmental Engineering, and Sustainability Engineering; one member is identified as “Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology” doctoral student.

The IGERT-SUN project highlights video on Vimeo demonstrates the faculty’s and the students’ vigor in pursuit of advancing these alternate energy resources. Miles Brungage, a student in the program, described how he appreciates the opportunity to work with colleagues of different studies but working a similar goal, sustainability. And Joseph Laureanti highlighted how this program offers him the opportunity to connect with people within alternative energies fields, and glean from them real purpose in the program. In some abstracts, I read a program focus on attracting “underrepresented groups, particularly Hispanics and Native American” candidates to the program. Although an admirable goal, if carried to excess, the achievement of that goal may result in reducing the diversity of the participants, or even narrowing the breadth of knowledge the program sought to nurture.

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Posted by on October 5, 2014 in Class Writing, Sustainability

 

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Sustainability Essay

In our Introduction to Sustainability coursework, I have identified four areas for me to change: water usage, fossil fuel usage, red-meat consumption, and pesticide usage.

Last year, I purchased a new home with low-flow shower heads, low-flow toilets, new water-efficient appliances, xeriscaped yard, and no pool. My previous home used approximately 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of water per month. My new home reduced water usage to less than 4,000 gallons per month. I plan to continue to pursue reductions in my water use with methods described in Infographic 17.7 (Karr, p. 308).

From the new home, my commute increased from 40 miles to 80 miles round-trip. As described in our textbook, the “extra carbon causes problems such as global climate change, acidification of oceans, and alternations of communities worldwide” (Karr, p. 121). To reduce my impact, I telecommute one day per week. I did consider an electric vehicle. However, Mitchell Ng points out “alternative energy vehicles are cost-inefficient when compared to fossil-fuel based ones” (Ng, p. 56). Instead, on restricted income, I am pursuing the purchase of an Elio; it will triple my fuel economy from 18 MPG to an estimated 65 MPG (Resource Week, p. 159).

Graham Hill also pointed out “eating a mere hamburger a day can increase my risk of dying by a third” (Hill, 0:40). In our textbook, Karr explained, “Replacing some red meat with fish, poultry, or non-meat sources of protein decreased risk [of dying] by 7%–19%” (Karr, p. 368). I am very health, but by reducing my red meat intake and increasing the vegetables and fruits, my good health can be extended even further.

My home has frequent visits from desert wildlife and insects. Rather than using chemical pesticides, I believe I can use some organic pesticides to remove or restrict them, but with less environmental impact than chemicals. Using Karr’s recommended resource, SafeLawns.org (Karr, p. 327), I can help reduce impact on our water supply and deter those creatures from entering my home.

Works Cited:

Karr, Susan, et al. (2014) Scientific American Environmental Science for a Changing World Extended. 1st Ed. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.

Ng, Mitchel. (2011). Short and long-term cost efficiency analysis of fossil fuel versus alternative energy vehicles. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 3(2), 45-56. Retrieved from http://jbsq.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Dec_2011_4.pdf.

Hill, Graham. (2010, February). Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/graham_hill_weekday_vegetarian/.

Resource Week. (2014, March 23). Elio Motors Inc. Displays Enclosed 3-Wheeled Vehicle At Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition Legislative Breakfast. 159.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Class Writing, Sustainability