October, 2013

Why Improving The Quality Of Our Cities Is An Environmental Issue

Why Improving The Quality Of Our Cities Is An Environmental Issue

It might appear that there is no real connection between urban life and the environmental awareness. However, if you look closely, you will find that every bit of improvement in the cities, issues like reducing crime, increasing the number of affordable housing, increasing jobs and businesses, finding alternate source of energy for motor vehicles and residences, and controlling traffic congestion, all have impact on the environment and global sustainability.

 

Environmental issues and sustainability do not always have to be related to issues like reducing energy consumption, or pollution. Although these are the most common environmental issues, improving the quality of our urban lives has also a profound effect on the environment and sustainability. The reason is, if we do not have a suitable place to work, play or enjoy our lives, we are not going to feel motivated to improve our planet.

 urban 6

To work towards building our cities beautiful, we need to make our cities safe, grow less dependency on fossils and automobiles that burn more fuel, use less energy, and use products that are environmentally friendly. People from all walks of life can contribute towards building our cities beautifully. For example, if we think about using less energy and protect nature by checking the emission from our vehicles regularly, it would be a great step towards building a sustainable environment. It also includes the way we dispose our waste, and how we add toxic and disturb our surroundings with adding chemicals and synthetic products.

 

The environmental protection issues have become one of the global issues today. Anything that we do in one part of the world today affects us all globally. The world does not confine us with political boundaries and there is no way to have a sustainable society without addressing the issues related to pollution in the cities, industries, energy consumption and preservation of the environment because it affects us all. Not only does it affect the city life, but also in the fields of agriculture, and preservation of natural resources.

 

Another major concern of the families that live in the cities is the pesticides used on gardens and grass. It is important that we minimize the exposure to these harmful chemicals, especially if we go to the parks and playgrounds with our children. There are signs beurban parking used in many places today, where the pesticides are sprayed in public places. It is not easy to keep the children away from the contaminated soil of the playground and parks. Ingesting these chemicals can become a major health issue with children. The other big concern with children today is the air pollution due to smog and other pollutants in the air.

 

In addition to increasing our awareness towards saving the environment, using environmentally friendly products can also contribute to significantly improve the quality of the cities.

 

There are many groups and environmental professionals networks being formed today to help Mother Nature recover, not only locally, but also globally, because there are no political boundaries when it comes to caring for our environment. We can all join forces and work towards making this world a better place for all of us.

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EPN Phase – 1 Site Assessment And The Report Process

EPN Phase – 1 Site Assessment And The Report Process

EPN – A brief introduction

Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) was founded in the northern Colorado in 2013 by a team of environmental professionals, who sensed a shift in the paradigm of the environmental industry. They also felt that it was right time to form a new environmental professional group to meet the requirements of the growing industry, which was rapidly evolving with the global changes and the latest growth in technology.

The team began with a noticeably diverse group of environmental professionals, who shared the same passion about the industry, including expert and highly experienced environmentalists as well as relatively younger and aspiring professionals. However, they all had the same goal in mind, and that was to build a platform for the environmental professionals who would build a successful and sustainable business.

One of the founder members of the team, Dr. Wayne Dorband, has been an environmentalist for over 35 years. He, as a young Ph. D professor sknox-waybur-update-2437159-htarted the environmental studies program at Augustana College, when this course of study was very rare among other institutions. Today, hundreds and thousands of students around the world graduate with environmental protection degree.

 

About the “EPN Phase 1 Interview”

In this video interview, Dr. Wayne Dorband  about various aspects of the phase -1 assessment process by answering several questions of Justin Lichter, one of  the principals of the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN). Through these questions, many important issues related to the phase 1 assessment become clear. Questions related to the ASTM standards and guidelines, how are they changed and many more. Many of these questions are very common among most property owners or even young environmentalists who are new to the industry. Through these questions, Dr. Dorband explains in clear terms, why would someone need a phase -1 assessment, what guidelines to follow, what to looking for before and during an inspection, and what goes on in the report after visiting a property and  making an assessment.

What is a phase 1 site assessment process?

The Phase -1 Environmental Site Assessment, which is also referred to as Phase -1 ESA, is a report given by an environmental assessors, which summarizes the condition in which the property and the surrounding area is in, based on his visit and inspection. It describes if the condition of the property, if there are any potential environmental hazards or risks associated with the identified property, and if it requires any further investigation or assessments to fully understand the potential risks.

 

Why is a phase 1 site assessment needed?

Phase 1 site assessment was traditionally contracted by banks or lending agencies when a lending or financing was involved. The purpose of the assessment was to protect the banks from being involved in any financial agreements with a piece of contaminated property, and they wanted to make sure that property in question was safe from environmental risks.

 

The purpose of phase 1 assessments

Today, phase 1 assessment is an essential part of any property transaction associated with industrial or commercial property. The purpose of the phase 1 assessment is to carry out a systematic consistent method which may identify any environmental conditions that the piece of property may be in or may affect any property under scrutiny.

 

The components of a phase 1 ESA

Record and review before the inspection:  By doing a researchon the property before the inspections, an environmentalist is actually be able to prepare himself to better manage his time and be more efficient during the inspection. An interview with the property owners or anyone involved with the property is also vital before the phase 1 inspection. Any kind of information including advertisement materials, a website, a brochure or catalog being used for the advertisement for the property might help to make the assessment.

EPN Phase 1Most of the records and documents are available from the property owners and clients and that is the first place an environmentalist should start gathering information from. Some governmental agencies and commercial entities who sell this information may also provide you with what you need. By reviewing the records of the past titles, an environmentalist will try to figure out what the property was being used for in the past. It also helps the environmentalist to figure out if the surrounding area was safe from contamination, if it was used by any agencies like fire department and so forth in the past. The timeline in which the property was built also plays an important role.

Site inspection:  When visiting a site, an assessor is looking for potential risks for the client. It is very important to use personal judgments while inspecting a site visually. There are several aspects of the building that the assessor may look. They are as follows:

 

REC –Recognized Environmental Condition

These are the elements that an environmentalist can see visually by visiting a site. Most of the elements are associated with the building materials that affect the site including the soils, ground water and surface water on the property and the surrounding or from the adjacent property.

 

Some of the major concerns are given below.

1. Asbestos: should it be a concern?EPN Inspection

If the property was built prior to the 1980s, it is more than likely to contain asbestos of some sort. It could be on any kinds of coating or surface such as walls, ceilings, siding or flooring. Asbestos could also be on thermal insulation such as pipes, boilers; and so on, anything that has to do with heat absorbing or insulating the house. Any masking materials such as caulking or any adhesive materials could also be potentially dangerous. Mostly, stuff that are exposed or could be exposed if there were any renovations done on the building, including roofing materials such as flashing or roofing materials themselves.  However, containing asbestos does not always make the property hazardous. The asbestos would only be dangerous if it was friable or brittle or breaking apart.

2. Lead: is lead a major hazard to environment?

Lead is not a major concern if the materials containing lead are not deteriorating. Most of the older buildings, built before the 1980s, used lead as a soldering material on pipes. So if the building has a lot of pipes especially pipes of drinking water or waiter fountains containing lead joints that would be a concern.  However, the major concern would be if there were any signs of peeling paints or broken pipes with lead. Any structure that is intact or concealed does not concern the assessor.

3.  Mold: is mold a concern for phase 1?

If a building has obvious signs of mildew buildup, it is possible signs of water damage, and should be investigated further.

 4. Should Electrical equipments major issue?

Overhauling 50-year-old generators

Old electrical equipments or any motor like equipments could be a concern if there are indications of oil leakage. PCBs were widely used in the dielectric and coolant fluids prior to 1980s, so if motor containing equipment such as a power generator, transformer or elevator has leakage, there could be potential risk of BCBs.

5. Can Redon be a problem?

Radon and any other radioactive material would be a great concern for environmentalists if the area where the property is located is in the radon alert zone. The government documents can help you to determine whether the property is in the danger area. The EPA database characterizes the potential danger areas of every county in the United States, so it is important to follow the EPA guidelines. Radon is only a problem if it is coming into the building from the soil below, therefore if a building is located in the radon risk area that has a basement; it is something to be mentioned in the phase 1 reports.

It requires knowledge and experience to become an expert assessor, to know which specific areas to look for and to find suspicious materials. The EPN is going to provide a checklist for environmentalists to go through, making sure that everything is covered.

 

ASTM Standards assessment

EPN Inspection

ASTM or the American Standard Testing Methods is an organization formed to create standards for different kinds of testing. In 1990, ASTM looked at the assessment process and they decided that there has to be a standardized process on a nationwide basis. Dr. Wayne Dorban, the founder of EPN was asked to be on the committee which put together the standards. The ASTM standards have changed the way the phase 1 assessments were done. They are a lot more precise and accurate and systematic process.

ASTM sets the guidelines which environmental professionals can use

The standards of the phase 1 testing were guidelines or recommended protocol for conducting a phase 1 testing by any environmental professional nationwide. These guidelines are very important for any environmentalists to follow because all the major entities and businesses, including the US Justice Departments agree that if a phase 1 was not done in compliance with these standard guidelines, it would not be acceptable. So being in compliance with the ASTM would meet both the requirements of lenders, government agencies and they would also meet the legal standards.

 

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A Consumer’s Guide To Saving Energy And Reducing Utility Bills

A Consumer’s Guide To Saving Energy And Reducing Utility Bills

Fall is in full swing and winter is right around the corner. Even though you might live in a part of the country where the winters are not too harsh, you will still need to take some precautions and get yourself ready for the winter.  The change in seasons need you to make changes to your house too, such as you might have to fix your heating systems, change filters on your ventilation or air-conditioning and replace any broken doors or windows before the winter begins.

Keeping your house warm in the winter can be expensive for you if you do not have an energy efficient heating system and a perfectly insulated home. This will also include energy efficient doors and windows, insulation of the house, and the heat pumps you have installed.

By following a few simple tips, you may be able to save a significant amount of money on your energy bills. Below are few tips to keep your energy costs low in the winter.

 

Check insulation around the house

Saving on energy on homes

Energy Efficient Homes

Insulation can be a very important factor in saving energy. If the insulation you have on your walls is too old, you are likely to waste more energy while trying to stay warm because most of your heat will escape through faulty insulation. For example, if you

do not have proper insulation on your attic, you could be losing over 20% of your heat through the attic, which could be saved by adding good insulation.

 

Seal your house

If your house is oldish, you might have leaks on your walls, doors or windows through which air might escape or get in. To increase the energy efficiency of your heating system you will have to seal all your open spaces around the house so that air from outside don’t get in. Residing your house, adding insulation around your doors and windows and replacing your old windows with the new energy efficient ones will serve both the purposes of looking great as well as saving you on energy bills.

 

Take advantage of natural heating

Sun is a great source of heat. So open up your curtains and let the sun heat your house for free. You may even leave the curtains open as you run off to work so that the sun will heat your rooms when you are gone.

 

Use an automatic thermostat

You can save plenty of money by using an automatic thermostat that adjusts itself according to the room temperature. The thermostat will adjust the heat when you are sleeping so that it doesn’t get too hot and you can rest easy.

 

Service your heating systems

Before the winter begins, it is best to have your heating systems checked by a professional. You might need a new energy efficient heating system or need to replace or fix your ventilation to make your heating systems more energy efficient. If your heating system is too old or if it has leaks you could be spending more than what you should on your heating bills. It is also a good idea to check whether your system is in good condition because you don’t need it to breakdown in the middle of dead winter.

Save on bills in Winter with EPN

Save on bills in Winter

From not remembering to turn off your lights when you leave the room to leaving the water running, there are so many ways we waste energy everyday in our homes. Saving energy every way we can will not only cut our utility bills down but also help us to have a positive impact on the environment. We can address

all the global issues little by little by increasing our awareness towards environmental safety. Our every step towards a green globe counts as we move towards a sustainable green lifestyle.

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Environmental Protection Awareness And Reducing Your Energy Costs

Environmental Protection Awareness And Reducing Your Energy Costs

Energy costs have been a big concern for many families especially for families with low income. People living on a low income budget are always trying to find ways to lower their utility bills and improve their energy efficiency. What people often don’t realize is that as they try to keep their energy costs down, they are also contributing to keep the environment clean by living a green lifestyle.

There are really simple ways to reduce your energy bills. Making a few changes around the house can really help you to reduce your energy bills. Below, are a few tips on saving your energy consumption.

1. Replace your high energy consuming appliances

You can save up to $200 monthly on energy bills simply by switching to energy smart appliances. The appliances that use most energy are the high wattage appliances such as your washer, dryer, electric heater, electric ovens, iron, electric water heater, microwave ovens, room heaters and so on. If you have old appliances in your house, just by replacing them with new energy saving appliances can do the trick. This also goes for the light bulbs. The new gas filled light bulbs can produce more light than the older high wattage bulbs but uses almost one third of the energy. They also tend to last longer than the normal bulbs. So if you replace three of your traditional light bulbs with the energy saving ones, you will be using only one third of the energy while getting the same amount of light from them.

 

2.Replace your old windows with energy efficient ones

If you have older wood windows in your house, by replacing them with modern energy efficient windows, you will be able to save a significant amount on your heating and cooling bills. Because of the high insulation qualities of these windows, they keep the air in your room unaffected by the outside weather, and so you stay cool in summer and warm in the winter. Many people replace their old windows for the looks without realizing that they are also saving on energy bills. The same goes with your siding and insulation on the walls. If you replace your old aluminum or steel siding on the outside walls with vinyl siding with added Tyvek house wrap insulation, you will keep your house better insulated and save on energy bills.

 

3. Installing motion sensors to turn lights on and off

If you have old motion sensors that turns on when you walk in you can use the same switches around your house. It will turn on and off by itself and save you on energy bills. This is especially useful when people come into the house with their hands full and are not able to turn the light switch on or off or if they forget to turn off the lights when they leave. The light switches stay a lot cleaner as well this way. Remembering to turn off all your appliances, lights, heat and air-conditioning of your house when you leave will also save on your utility bills.

 

4. Replacing electric meters with smart meters

The traditional meters need someone from the utility company to come and take reading. But with the smart meters, the data from your meter gets sent directly to the company with a data logging system. By analyzing the data from a smart meter you are able to figure out which time of the day you are using the most of your energy and so you will be able to determine when to and how you should change your energy consuming habits to save money on bills. The electric company usually charges you more money during the peak hours, so you should avoid using your heavy duty equipments during that time.

 

5. Changing the thermostat and heating and cooling systems with energy efficient ones

EPN Dead Sea

Environmental Protection Network

This might take some spending money but if you replace your old heating and cooling systems in your house with energy efficient ones, change the ventilation systems, replacing the ducts and change your thermostat, you will see a significant change in your energy bills. By installing a climate control thermostat in your house, you can save on your utility bills significantly. There are programmable thermostats available in the market that keeps the room temperature constant by adjusting the power of your heating or cooling systems.

Ok so there you go. Try some of the ideas given above and see how they work with your utility bills. You can also help Mother Nature by switching to Eco-friendly products. If we all do a little, together we can do a lot.

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Reusable Energy Sources -Environmental And Economic Issues

Reusable Energy Sources -Environmental And Economic Issues

The question of environmental management and conservation of energy has become one of the most talked about and relevant issues in today’s world. As we are becoming more and more aware that we consume resources and energy from the world as we live our lives. The energy resources that we use are not endless. As we live in this world consuming the resources from the earth, we are causing several imbalances in the nature. We are also leaving our footprints on this world which is having a negative effect on the environment and every environmentally conscious person would knows that we should keep our environment as safe as possible for us and for our future generations.

Finding reusable energy sources can be our first step towards conserving our environment. Using alternate sources for energy such as wind, sun and water, which are both clean and abundant in the nature, can reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere while saving the fossils fuels from beneath the earth. The fossils of the world took thousands of years to form, and as we burn them, they can cause serious damage to the environment by emitting the harmful gases. The increasing amount of carbon monoxide and other harmful gases in the atmosphere can give rise to other related issues such as global warming, destruction of the ozone layer, sea level rise as well as cause harmful acid rain. As we know that having more acid forming agents in the air can cause acid rain, which can severely damage the environment by killing the plants and animals in the nature.

windmill

windmill

There are already companies trying to produce energy from reusable sources. The Sun, for example, is an abundant source of energy. Using solar panels to produce energy or replacing the power plants run by coal or gas with wind powered turbines can also prove to be a cost effective way as well as safe and clean source of energy. Many developing countries of the world have adapted to the reusable sources of energy to address their energy crisis issues.

Another advantage of using reusable energy sources is that a country can improve their economic conditions by finding solutions for the energy shortages, especially among the developing countries. When a country doesn’t have to rely on imported source of energy or fuels, it can become self dependent and save a great amount of money on fuel imports. Many of the countries which have abundant sunlight and wind can increase production and create new jobs.

The economic conditions of a nation can depend a great deal on the technology it uses. Once it develops the right technology, it can employ more people to make the energy producing projects come to life. The new environmentally safe power generating plants can prove to be very cost effective in the long run, considering the high oil prices, health hazards, and money spent on imports for fuels.

solar panel

Solar Panel

The fact that reusable energy sources are lot cleaner than any other forms of energy could make it one of the prime choices of the people even thought the surcharges for the development of these projects may be high initially.

If we all do our share in preserving the nature and working together as a team, we are sure to make this world a better place for us and for our future generations to come.

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