100 Grannies group works to ban plastic bags

Photo by Idiolector, Flickr.

A new environmental group has emerged in the Iowa City area: 100 Grannies.

This group of about 30 local grandmothers is currently working on reducing plastic bag waste. They are pushing local officials to ban plastic bags in Iowa City with the hope of then expanding the ban to all of Johnson County.

On Sunday, 100 Grannies will host a Ban the Bag event in downtown Iowa City. For the event, 100 Grannies are asking community members to bring their plastic bags. They will then tie these bags together to give a visual demonstration of how many bags are wasted. All the bags will then be recycled.

Read more from the Press-Citizen here.

UI students go door-to-door to make homes more energy efficient

Photo by Chewonki Semester School, Flickr.

A group of University of Iowa students are going door-to-door in Iowa City offering to help homeowners and businesses become more energy efficient.

This effort is part of the Our Power program through the Iowa City Summer of Solutions nonprofit group.

The students perform small repairs in the homes and businesses that will reduce energy use and save money.

Through this program, the students have helped more than 100 homeowners become more energy efficient.

Read more here.

UI’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center receives huge grant

Photo by summerrunner2009, Flickr.

The University of Iowa’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center received a five-year $7.9 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The grant will go towards the continued research of environmental health effects from rural and agricultural exposures.

In total, the funding will help support more than $500 million of research in many departments around the University of Iowa campus.

Read an article about the grant from the Press-Citizen here.

Johnson County group promotes youth cycling

Photo by ttcopley, Flickr

A group in Johnson County is working to promote youth cycling.

The Youth Off-Road Riders Cycling Club first organized in March. There are currently 11 members and three trainers.

The members have a wide range in experience. Some have completed RAGBRAI while others are just learning how to bike.

Among the groups goals are to “foster a responsible attitude toward the use of roadways, trails, and the wilderness”, and to promote cycling as a means of transportation.

Read more about the group from the Press-Citizen here.

Warm weather presents dilemma for corn farmers

Photo by brandoncripps, Flickr.

Iowa’s warm weather is tempting farmers to start planting corn early.

Conditions are ideal for planting right now, but many farmers worry that a freeze may still come. If corn is planted within the next couple of weeks, it would face a high risk of damage from a May freeze.

The incentive for planting early is that corn delivered in September receives a 50-cents per bushel premium over the corn delivered in October.

Read a Press-Citizen article about the farmers’ dilemma here.

Read about how the warm weather affects Iowa’s fruit farms here.

Read about what the warm weather means for Iowa’s pests here.

Fewer Iowans volunteer for roadside clean up

Photo by adamhgs, Flickr.

The number of people adopting Iowa’s roadsides has decreased, causing an increase in litter removal costs for the Department of Transportation.

Rural stretches of roadside in particular have seen a significant decline in volunteer numbers.

Over the past six years, the Department of Transportation has increased their litter removal costs by 53 percent, partially because of the decrease in volunteers.

Read the Press-Citizen’s article on this issue here. The article also contains information on how to adopt a highway.

2008 flood damage may cost UI music and art students

2008 floods in Iowa City. Photo by joewhitsitt, Flickr

Damage from the 2008 floods could be costing the University of Iowa prospective students.

The 2008 floods destroyed the Voxom School of Music, Hancher Auditorium, Clapp Recital Hall and the Art Building. The music and art students that normally would occupy these buildings are now occupying temporary locations around Iowa City.

Many of the temporary locations are not as attractive as the destroyed buildings, and do not help the university recruit aspiring music and art students.

The School of Music has seen a significant decline in undergraduates over the past four years.

Read more about this issue in the Press-Citizen’s article here.

Video: UI engineering student tries to become America’s Next Eco-Star

UI student Elliott Beenk hopes to become America’s Next Eco-Star. Students around the nation are submitting videos about why they should be America’s Next Eco-Star. SmartPower and the U.S. Department of Energy sponsor the contest, and the winner will receive a paid trip this summer to the Sustainable Futures Academy in Germany, and a fellowship with SmartPower.

Beenk is an Environmental Engineering graduate student. He hopes to eventually work with music festivals to help them become more sustainable.

Read the Press-Citizen’s article about Beenk and the contest here.

UI professor and CGRER co-director Jerry Schnoor speaks on climate change

Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa

CGRER co-director, and the voice of our On the Radio segments, Jerry Schnoor discussed climate change Sunday night at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Iowa City.

About 50 people attended the talk and heard Schnoor describe human’s impact on climate change and what people can do to lower this impact. His advice included supporting sustainable farming and encouraging tree planting.

Schnoor’s talk was one-of-seven presentations hosted by the church’s “Feeding the World and Feeding the Community” series.

Read the full article from the Press-Citizen here.

Wind turbine component manufacturer pledges money to UI for research

Photo by Caveman Chuck Coker, Flickr

The North American Ductile Iron Co. (Nadicom) is contributing $300,000 towards wind turbine component research at the University of Iowa.

Nadicom is currently building a foundry to develop wind turbine components in Iowa City. The facility is scheduled to open in 2013.

With this funding UI researchers hope to develop more effective and efficient ductile iron castings – a component of wind turbines.

UI mechanical and industrial engineering professor Christoph Beckermann will lead the research.

For more information on the research and Nadicom’s foundry, read the Press-Citizen’s article here.