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!
Solar Development in Pittsburgh
In late June, US Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited a production facility in Leetsdale, which is located outside of Pittsburgh. Once a steel factory, the building has been repurposed as a factory for producing solar energy parts. BCI Steel and NEXTracker, who are both sponsoring the factory, are investing in the production of “trackers that help solar panels to stay aimed at the sun.” This development is a part of Biden’s infrastructure bill to help modernize the US’s energy production, create sustainable jobs, and to promote “Made in America” products.
Protections for Farm Workers
Workers across the country are at risk of severe health crises and even death as summers get hotter, and they are pushed to work longer. The state of Oregon instituted a new rule to protect farm workers by requiring employers to provide breaks, to set up water stations, and to educate employees about heat acclimation and the prevention of heat-based illnesses. This has been met with backlash from both employers and employees due to the nature of farm-based work. Agricultural workers are at a significantly higher risk than other industries from the effects of climate change. As the world heats up, we need to protect people who work outside from the dangerous effects of heat.
Regenerative Design Mindset
Building, Design, and Construction sat down with leaders in the sustainable building industry to discuss what a regenerative design mindset is and how we can all achieve it. Peter Duckworth-Pilkington encourages architects to ditch the “business as usual” mindset and to instead make choices to focus on regenerative design to combat climate change. Katie Sosnowchik reminds us that zero-impact is not always the goal, whereas regenerative design’s goal is to have a building with a positive impact (in terms of benefits, not carbon emissions). Lewis Morgante discusses individual benefits that are possible when using a regenerative design mindset. Using local resources and knowledge, buildings can individually combat climate change and can use “context-specific strategies.” Check out the article for more advice from other design leaders.
Plastic Reduction in California
A new bill passed in California this past week will require a 25% reduction of single-use plastics over the next ten years. While this is considered one of the strongest plastic reduction policies in the US, it has been criticized for not including stronger language and phasing out polystyrene foam. The bill also includes mandates for recycling and compostable packaging and food ware. This is just the beginning of policies that California is trying to pass, and many other states are following suit with similar bills.