Iowa’s energy efficient homes on the rise

Photo by CERTs

Iowa is among the nation’s leaders in creating energy efficient homes. According to the EPA, there was a 21 percent increase in homes built to Energy Star standards from 2009 to 2010.

Often, the energy efficient measures taken to reach Energy Star guidelines include effective insulation, high-performance windows, tight seals and efficient heating and cooling systems.

Iowa was among sixteen states that had over 25 percent of its homes reach Energy Star certification in 2010. The other states were Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

Iowa mountain lion sighting confirmed

Photo by CaliforniaDFG, Flickr

Mountain lions in Iowa? The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed that a photograph taken in Clinton County last week is of a mountain lion.

The DNR hopes that this mountain lion sighting wont cause a panic. Mountain lion attacks are rare; between 1991 and 2003 there was on average 5.6 attacks in North America per year, and ten total resultant deaths during those 13 years. Also, it is believed that the mountain lion is just passing through the state, and could possibly already have left Iowa.

However, the DNR does offer advice for dealing with a mountain lion attack:

  • DON’T RUN! Running will stimulate certain animals to chase you (like a dog that wants to bite you, especially if you run).
  • Stand tall, look big, puff up, lift your coat over your shoulders.
  • Take control of the situation. Scream loudly, throw objects.
  • Gather children in close and slowly back away keeping your eye of the animal.
  • If attacked, fight back vigorously with sharp objects and poke the eyes of the animal.


Google to purchase solar panels for 3,000 homes

Photo by Earthworm, Flickr.

Google released a statement yesterday announcing that they would attribute $75 million to build solar panels on residential buildings.

Read more from the Associated Press below:

Google wants to buy solar panels for your house.

The search giant announced yesterday that it will provide $75 million to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the country. Google will own the panels, and get paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce. Continue reading

Iowa winter forecasts predict cold and snowy weather

Photo by iowa_spirit_walker, Flickr

Like the snow? Then you will be pleased by the latest winter predictions for Iowa. Current forecasts show that this winter could yield lower than average temperatures, and greater than average snowfall. If this occurs, it will be Iowa’s fifth straight winter of high-snowfall, and its fourth straight winter of below-average temperatures.

However, the Des Moines Register points out that these long-range forecasts are often incorrect:

Those who don’t like those odds might take comfort in the fact that the National Weather Service, which readily admits its long-term forecasts are statistically dicey, often misses the mark with the winter forecasts that are published each fall.

For example, the weather service predicted a significant chance of warmer than usual temperatures for each of the last five winters. The reality: All but one of those winters were much colder than the 30-year average. Forecasters generally gave us a 50-50 chance of more snow in those five years. That part proved correct. Snowfall amounts have generally been up since 2006.

More news out of ISU on lowering hog odor

Photo by NDSU Ag Comm

There is more good news about reducing pig farm odor. Just the other day we released a radio segment on efforts to reduce hog odor. Now a team at Iowa State University has created new technology that tracks weather patterns and odor emissions, and uses the data to only activate odor mitigation when necessary. This is referred to as Impact-Based Odor Control. Continue reading

Environmental Experts Speak: UI’s Keri Hornbuckle discusses PCBs and other toxins

Keri Hornbuckle is a professor in the University of Iowa’s Department of  Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is also a member of the Center For Global & Regional Environmental Research. Much of Hornbuckle’s research involves measuring and studying toxins in the environment. She recently discussed some of her current projects with Iowa Environmental Focus.

Hornbuckle began by giving an overview of her work:

“My work is part of the Iowa Super Fund Research Program, which focuses on PCBs – in particular, airborne PCBs or potentially airborne PCBs. Continue reading

On the Radio: Taking the odor out of pig farms

Photo by Danny Akright, Flickr

Listen to this week’s radio piece here or read the transcript below.  It discusses a new odor-reducing technology designed to help pig farms stay healthy and productive.

As any Iowan knows, the terms “hog farm” and “odorless” don’t often go together, but new waste management technology hopes to change that perception. Continue reading