On the Radio: UI students help Iowa communities go green


Listen to this week’s radio segment here.  It features the work of some UI students in Burlington, Charles City, Decorah and Oskaloosa.

For the past two school years, second-year students at the UI School of Urban and Regional Planning have helped Iowa towns plan for a cleaner, healthier future. Continue reading

UNI hosts environmental forum for students


About 1,000 local high school students were on the University of Northern Iowa campus on Tuesday to attend “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community.”

There were 40 speakers at the 5-hour event that covered a wide range of environmental topics.

The WCF Courier reports:

More than 1,000 area high school students got a hands-on look at what it means to be green Tuesday.

About 40 presenters, educators and community members from across the state participated in “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community” Tuesday at the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Students arrived by bus from Peet and Holmes junior highs, and Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools for the five-hour event, presented by Cedar Valley Sustainability and Environmental Educators.

“It’s important to talk to young ones because they’re going to be responsible for what happens in the future,” said Leon Lindley with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

Diverse topics were covered in a learning environment meant to be radically different from traditional classrooms. Students participated in outdoor activities and lectures designed to create a better understanding of their global impact and sustainabilty. Continue reading

Muscatine company moves to improve air quality


Grain Processing Corp., a Muscatine-based firm that has not done much to help boost Eastern Iowa’s air quality, announced yesterday that it was going to change it’s tune.

They have pledged $100 million dollars over the next four years to improve air quality and reduce emissions.

The Muscatine Journal reports:

Grain Processing Corp. announced Tuesday it will spend $100 million over the next four years to substantially clear Muscatine’s air of sulfur dioxide and small particle emissions.

The company will build a $75 million, state-of-the-art dryer at the plant site along the Mississippi River and will spend $20 million to upgrade environmental control systems for its boilers. Continue reading

Chicago prepares for climate change


Photo by Gravitywave, Flickr

The New York Times is reporting that the Windy City is gearing up for a hotter, wetter climate.

Climate scientists found that current trends will eventually lead Chicago toward weather that is more commonly found down south.  The city is responding by repaving using pereable pavement, changing up the trees being planted and considering installing air conditions in all of its public schools.

Read part of the Times‘ coverage below:

The Windy City is preparing for a heat wave — a permanent one.

Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century.

So, Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.

“Cities adapt or they go away,” said Aaron N. Durnbaugh, deputy commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Environment. “Climate change is happening in both real and dramatic ways, but also in slow, pervasive ways. We can handle it, but we do need to acknowledge it. We are on a 50-year cycle, but we need to get going.” Continue reading

Study finds flame retardants in baby products


Photo by Kitt Walker, Flickr

Environmental Science & Technology recently published a study that found flame retardants in four out of five baby products, including nursing pillows, changing pads and car seats.

The academic journal, edited by University of Iowa Professor and CGRER co-founder Jerald Schnoor, did not identify the products tested by brand.  However, researchers tested 101 widely-used items and found that 80% of them contained flammable material. Continue reading

Ecolotree cleans up in Oregon


Photo by Joost J. Baker, Flickr

Lou Licht, a University of Iowa professor and founder of Ecolotree Inc., will be teaming up with the Port of Morrow industrial park in Boardman, Oregon to remove nitrates from the soil.

Licht’s company is based in Iowa and creates forests that are engineered to help clean landfills or chemical spill sites.  The Port of Morrow will be using Licht’s poplar trees to control the nitrogen in their East Beach Industrial Park.

To read more, check out the East Oregonian’s coverage here or read more below.  You can also listen to our radio podcast about Licht’s work here.

The Port of Morrow is embarking on an environmental project to test the effectiveness of trees for helping to remove nitrates from the soil. Continue reading