Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Carbon Pollution Decreases 10%

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its third year of greenhouse gas data detailing carbon pollution emissions and trends broken down by industrial sector, greenhouse gas, geographic region, and individual facility. The data, required to be collected annually by Congress, highlight a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions as more utilities switch to cleaner burning natural gas.

“EPA is supporting President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by providing the high-quality data necessary to help guide common-sense solutions to address climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Putting this data in the hands of the public increases transparency, supports accountability, and unlocks innovation.”

Greenhouse gases emitted through human activities such as transportation and power generation are the primary driver of recent climate change, which threatens the health and welfare of Americans—by increasing the likelihood of hotter, longer heat waves, fueling more frequent and intense extreme weather events, and worsening ground level ozone, an air pollutant that causes respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. 

EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects annual greenhouse gas information from over 8,000 facilities in the largest emitting industries, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills, and landfills. In addition, the program is receiving data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning. The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the United States. 

The 2012 data show that in the two years since reporting began, emissions from power plants have decreased 10 percent. This is due to a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation and a slight decrease in electricity production. Fossil-fuel fired power plants remain the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. With just under 1,600 facilities emitting over 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, these plants account for roughly 40 percent of total U.S. carbon pollution. 

The data are accessible through EPA’s online data publication tool, FLIGHT, which is available for both desktop and mobile devices. This year, with three years of data for most sources, FLIGHT has been updated with new features, including the ability to view trend graphs by sector and facility, and download charts and graphs for use in presentations and reports. The data are also published through EnviroFacts, which allows the public to download data for further analyses. 

Access EPA’s GHG Reporting Program Data and Data Publication Tool:

Source: EPA

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Energy Day Festival Hits Houston at Hermann Square

Expanded Electronic Recycling in Houston


The City of Houston has a more comprehensive electronics waste (e-waste) products program for residents.  Houstonians can now drop off e-waste to be recycled  free of charge at storage facilities participating in the GREENspot DROPoff Houston Program.  
Currently, there are over 30 locations throughout the city where residents can drop off e-waste, with the goal to add an additional 20 locations by the end of 2013.  For GREENspot locations, visit http://dropoff.houstontx.gov     
Here are some examples of everyday items that can now easily be recycled: Beta/DVD/VCR players, cables, computer mice and monitors, cords, hard drives, fax machines, keyboards, laptops, radios, stereo components, televisions and zip drives.  Note:  All personal information will be stripped before recycling.
Since September 2011, the City has partnered with CompuCycle to provide a permanent electronics recycling drop-off site at CompuCycle headquarters located at 7700 Kempwood Houston 77055, and monthly mobile e-waste collections on Saturdays at three City of Houston recycling sites. 
For more information about the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department (SWD) and its services, visit www.houstonsolidwaste.org, follow SWD on twitter at houstontrash or like SWD on facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/houstonsolidwaste.

Energy Day Festival
Saturday, October 19, 2103 at Hermann Square
The Third Annual Energy Day Festival is a free, family-friendly festival on Saturday, October 19,2013, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., at Hermann Square, 900 Smith, Houston 77002, directly in front ofHouston City Hall. This day-long festival celebrates and highlights the importance of energy in the daily lives of Houstonians. There will be energy exhibits, contests, food, live music, food and fun for all ages.
The Energy Day's mission is to highlight and demonstrate innovation in energy and to especially spark the interests of the next generation in energy-related careers. Through exciting and interactive formats, Energy Day will give children/young adults and their families an opportunity to learn about various forms of energy, scientific breakthroughs and state of the art technology through educational displays, demonstrations and presentations.  Additionally, there will be the chance to meet the experts and ask questions.
To learn more about the festival, visit http://energydayfestival.org/. For more information on City of Houston sustainability efforts, visit www.codegreenhouston.org/ andwww.greenhoustontx.gov/.   

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tips for Ventilating Your Kitchen

Cooking in the kitchen generates a lot of moisture and odors, and requires ventilation. While there are various ventilation strategies for a kitchen, the range hood is by far the most common. The range hood should be used to capture and exhaust combustion products and vent them directly outdoors. These range hoods should be sized correctly. For a typical range, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) recommend 100 cubic feet per minute (cfm). Larger fans may need to have make-up air provided, to prevent excessively depressurizing the home and potentially causing combustion equipment to backdraft. Choose a quiet or remote mounted fan so noise doesn't keep you from using the range hood every time you cook.

Air-sealing Opportunities

Despite good ventilation, moisture-laden air from the kitchen can still make it's way into wall and ceiling cavities. A kitchen remodeling project may present an opportunity to improve air-sealing. Electrical, plumbing, and ventilation penetrations should be sealed where they are accessible or in any walls that are opened. Depending on how they were constructed, soffits can be troublesome to air-seal, but if you are replacing cabinets, you may be able to access space that would otherwise be unreachable.


Flooring must not only have a good resistance to harm by water, but should also prevent water which does get on the floor from penetrating to the subfloor and space below.

Do not install carpet near water sources or in areas where there is a chronic moisture problem such as around sinks. To reduce the potential for microbial growth in the joints of hard surfaces or porous flooring installed near water sources, be sure to seal the entire surface.


Kitchen remodeling may present a good opportunity to replace old windows with new ENERGY STAR® windows. While costs do not always justify the change from purely an energy savings perspective, there may be other benefits of new windows. More efficient windows may be less prone to condensation and related mold growth. Painted window sashes and frames in homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint; this is a special concern because the friction of opening and closing windows can release lead dust into the home.

EPA General Recommendations

While remodeling or improving the energy efficiency of your home, steps should be taken to minimize pollution from sources inside the home. In addition, residents should be alert to signs of inadequate ventilation, such as stuffy air, moisture condensation on cold surfaces, or mold and mildew growth and use the remodeling project to correct underlying problems. While all of our general recommendations may not apply to your home, you should be aware of the issues, from radon and lead, to ventilation, and good work practices.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Census Reports States Married Couples with Children Account for Only 19.6% of All Households in U.S


According to a recent report by the Census, married couples with children account for only 19.6% of all households in the U.S.  The new figure represents a drop of 4.5 percentage points from 2000 when 24.1% of all households in the U.S. were married couples with children. The share of total households in 1970 was 40.3%.

As the share of households that include married couples with children decreased, one-person households and other household types rose. The share of one-person households increased from 17.1% in 1970 to 27.5% in 2012.

The dramatic decline in married households with children is due in part to delays in household formation. Researchers point out that Americans, on average, are waiting 5 years longer to get married when compared to 1970. Additionally, Americans are waiting longer to have children. The average age at first birth in 2006 was 25 compared to the average age at first birth age of 21 in 1970.

While delays in household formation place downward pressure on the demand for single-family homes, the increasing share of those living alone places an upward pressure on the demand for rental units. Trends in new multifamily construction suggest builders and developers may be taking delayed household formation into account. The share of multi-family homes built for rent increased from an historic low of 47% during the third quarter of 2005 to above 90% in 2013. Additionally, the size of units built for rent remains relatively small when compared to owner-occupied units. The median size of rental apartments was 1,081 square feet in 2012.

In fact, builder and developer sentiment about current conditions in the apartment and condominium market are at all time highs. In the second quarter of 2013, the Multifamily Production Index MPI increased nine points to 61. The (MPI) is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 so that any number over 50 indicates that more respondents report improving conditions than worsening conditions.

Although builders and developers appear to be well positioned to take advantage of the trends in household formation, it is important to recognize that delayed household formation does not mean these household are not eventually formed. Instead, many individuals will eventually marry and have children or form other household types.

Other household types (family and nonfamily) increased from 12.3% in 1970 to 23.9% in 2012. Other family households include one-parent families, about half of all respondents in 2012, with the remainder being families that include an unmarried householder and relative(s). The share of households that include couples without children has been remarkably stable, near 30%.