Each week, we’ll share some of our staff’s recommended local, national, and international stories. Check these articles out for news and context related to sustainability, human health, climate, environmental justice, and the economy!
Arup, an environmental consultant company for building, has started a long-term project to track carbon lifecycles in the built environment. They estimate that “as much as half of a building’s lifecycle CO2 emissions is attributable to embodied carbon before the building is operational." Arup plans to start collecting data from 1,300 projects in order to compile a database for green buildings and to track emissions and sustainability efforts over time. While it is important to reduce emissions while a building is being used, the construction of the building is just as important to carbon emissions.
Plastic Reduction from Amazon
Amazon shareholders voted in favor of a resolution to significantly reduce Amazon’s plastic waste. Oceana reported that Amazon generated 600 million pounds of plastic waste in 2020 alone. The shareholders hold around $387 billion of Amazon’s shares, and are not only calling for increased recycling, but the overall reduction in plastic in all sectors of the company. Companies around the world are also working towards using recycled plastics and reusable products at the behest of shareholders and the market.
Individuals around the US celebrated Juneteenth last week, which commemorates the fight to end slavery in America. Many Black communities are still plagued by discrimination as a result of environmental injustice. Environmental injustice refers to the impacts of climate change that disproportionately affect marginalized people. As we fight for a more sustainable future, it is important to uplift all communities alongside our own.
New Efficiency Standards for Furnaces
The Department of Energy will be proposing a new rule to increase the efficiency standards for residential furnaces from 92% to 95%. If the rule goes into effect, it could possibly save 373 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 5.1 million tons of methane over 30 years. It would also save homeowners around $60 a year on their utility bills. Though this rule is large step forward for the US, many countries around the world have significantly stronger rules for residential heating, including renewable-powered heating in Australia.
Presidential Praise for Pittsburgh
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Pittsburgh, specifically the Homewood neighborhood, in mid-June to praise their efforts for removing lead pipes and reducing the risk of lead poisoning. The White House set a goal to replace all lead pipes in 10 years, but Pittsburgh was able to replace their pipes in half that time while also introducing a new water treatment. Lead pipes are incredibly dangerous, but through fundraising and advocacy efforts, Pittsburgh is now a leader in lead removal from water sources.