Articles from the BSC Library NC Sustainability Connection Articles

  • EPA EXPLORES MORE ROBUST TOOLS FOR SCREENING CHEMICAL TOXICITY

    October 2, 2014

    Photo: EPA/screen capture This week, leaders in field of green chemistry gathered in RTP to discuss ways to use newly available data sets to move towards a greener economy. The summit, hosted by the EPA, brought together regulators, academic researchers and industry scientists to review the data emerging from the EPA's new Toxicity Forecaster (ToxCast) and discuss the impact new screening techniques will have on the future of chemical safety regulation. Until recently, screening chemicals for potential toxicity was costly and time consuming. Only chemicals used as food additives, drugs or pesticides and a few other special circumstances required rigorous… Read More

  • STATE ANNOUNCES $1M IN GRANTS FOR WATER RESOURCE PROJECTS

    October 1, 2014

    Photo: Gerry Dincher/creative commons From the challenges of water management for the textile industry to Ducks Unlimited conserving over 100,000 acres of wetlands, water resources play an important role in community well-being. That's why it's important news, reported over at the Voter Update, that the state is granting nearly $1m to water resources projects.  Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday announced nearly $1 million in grants for 10 projects in North Carolina towns and counties to restore streams, reduce erosion and study future water supplies. The N.C. Division of Water Resources awarded $966,177 for the Water Resources Development Project Grant Program with… Read More

  • OLD, POLLUTED DYE FACTORY BECOMES ECO-INDUSTRIAL PARK

    September 25, 2014

    Photo: ReVenture Park/video screenshot Across the Southeast, manufacturing sites with industrial infrastructure capable of enormous productive potential sit unused and idol. These sites are the garbage piles that manufacturing left behind when corporations moved their operations overseas, to places with less stringent labour and environmental regulations. But Tom McKittrick, founder and President of Forsite Development, doesn’t believe in trash. With the help of a number of partners, Forsite Development took an abandoned, badly polluted, textile-dye manufacturing plant near Mount Holly and turned it into an eco-industrial park that has already become a hub for green-color jobs. In August, McKittrick unveiled… Read More

  • USDA TO INVEST $55 MILLION IN NC SOLAR

    September 22, 2014

    Photo: O2 Energies/screenshot Renewable energy is growing fast in North Carolina. Just last week, Duke Energy announced a $500 million investment in new solar capacity. And on Thursday of last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Franklin County solar farm to announce $68 million of support from the USDA for 540 new energy effieciency and renewable energy projects. Importantly, for NC, both Time Warner Cable and WRAL are reporting that $55 million of that money will go to North Carolina projects in the form of grants and loan guarantees.  Here's more from the USDA's own announcement on the initiative: In North… Read More

  • RALEIGH TO HOST SOUTHEAST ALTERNATIVE FUELS CONFERENCE

    September 18, 2014

    Photo: Southeast Alternative Fuels Conference Transportation is a central issue for anyone interested in advancing sustainability and tackling the looming problem of climate change. Billed as the largest gathering of its kind this year East of the Mississippi, the Southeast Alternative Fuels Conference, organized by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (formerly the NC Solar Center), will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center from the 22-24th of October. Featuring 400 attendees, over 50 exhibitors, 100 speakers and 20 ride and drive vehicles, this looks set to be an important event for sustainable transportation advocates.  Keynote speakers will include U.S. Department of… Read More

  • DUKE ENERGY TO SPEND $500 MILLION ON MORE SOLAR POWER

    September 17, 2014

    Photo: David Goehring/Creative Commons Duke Energy, the country's largest electricity company, announced this week that it was expanding its investment in solar power by $500 million, increasing its solar generation capacity by 278 megawatts. The move is being driven, say executives, by North Carolina's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards which require that 6% of Duke's retail electricity sales be generated from renewable sources by 2015. Rob Caldwell. Duke Energy's vice president of renewable generation development, told Fox Business: "That's why we're doing this, for renewable portfolio standard requirements," This latest announcement means that Duke Energy has made good on its previous RFP for… Read More

  • FARM AID COMES TO RALEIGH

    September 10, 2014

    Photo: © Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc, courtesy of Farm Aid Willie Nelson and Farm Aid are on the road again, this year in Raleigh’s backyard at Walnut Creek Amphitheater, on Saturday, September 13. It’s been almost 30 years since the original concert in Champaign, Illinois, where Nelson and more than 50 artists performed to raise awareness about family farms struggling to keep their land while combating a devastating economy and the rising threat of factory farms. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $45 million to promote the livelihoods of family farmers, provide resources and counseling to farms in crisis,… Read More

  • EASTERN BAND OF CHEROKEE SEEKS CLEAN ENERGY FUNDING

    September 4, 2014

    Photo: R Walker/creative commons The Eastern Band of Cherokee recently opened up a native plant nursery, growing their own supply of native plants to assist their conservation work. The tribe has also installed solar trees and solar hot water to help reduce its energy footprint. Now Triangle Business Journal reports that, with the help of the NC Clean Energy Technology Center located on NC State's Centennial Campus, the tribe is applying for  $4-$7 million in Federal grant money which will be used to fund clean energy and energy efficiency projects.  If the application is successful, the money will come from… Read More

  • UNC PEMBROKE PROMOTING GREENER TRANSPORTATION

    September 3, 2014

    Photo: Eneas De Troya/creative commons Whether it's UNC reducing its energy use per square foot by 20%, NC State slashing water and energy consumption, or a coalition of universities promoting next generation semiconductors, North Carolina's university system is already making waves when it comes to sustainability. Now the Robesonian reports that UNC Pembroke is being recognized for its sustainable transportation efforts, which have included car sharing, bike share schemes, transportation shuttles and, now, some newly installed electric vehicle chargers. As the Robesonian also reports, these achievements—and more—were celebrated at the recent Appalachian Energy Summit in Boone on Appalachian State University’s campus.… Read More

  • FUTURE “MEGALOPOLIS” COULD STRETCH FROM RALEIGH TO ATLANTA, SAY NCSU RESEARCHERS

    August 25, 2014

    A team of NC State researchers believes we could see a seamless corridor of urban development between Atlanta and Raleigh. 

  • 600 CLEAN ENERGY LEADERS TO GATHER IN CHARLOTTE

    August 21, 2014

    The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's Making Energy Work conference will this year be held on October 1-2 in Charlotte, NC. Bringing together 600 state, regional and national clean energy providers, advocates and decision-makers, the theme for the conference this year is billed as "Securing the Future". Given recent reports that the solar industry is once again facing a shortage of panels due to increased demand, and with on-going debates over the future of energy supply, there is probably no better topic for timely discussion. NCSEA director Ivan Urlaub explained the motivation behind choosing this topic: “This is a critical time for the… Read More

  • A NEW COMMUNITY MODEL BRINGS TOGETHER ELDERS AND YOUNG FARMERS

    August 19, 2014

    Green Building Pioneer Gets Back to Work Redesigning Retirement Giles Blunden has spent a lifetime developing sustainable models of human community. Blunden is a visionary architect and community builder, well known for his pioneering work in solar homes, green building and cohousing. His designs have received multiple awards and national recognition. Now Blunden wants to put his talents to work once again, this time to build a community which provides elders with a more dignified, stimulating way of living out their retirement, and young aspiring farmers with land to call their own. Blunden calls this integration of a sustainable farm… Read More

  • Zoe B Organics offers baby toys that are better for babies and the planet

    August 10, 2014

    New parents can now get plastic-free toys from Wiston-Salem based Zoë b Organics

  • NORTH CAROLINA CELEBRATES REACHING 100 GREEN TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

    August 10, 2014

    Eco-minded tourists now have one hundred green-travel destinations to choose from in NC.

  • SIERRA NEVADA’S NEW SOLAR-POWERED BREWERY IN MILLS RIVER, NC

    July 30, 2014

    North Carolina is not short of green-minded breweries. Sierra Nevada's new facility in Mills River is making serious amounts of solar energy. 

  • TRIBE OPENS NATIVE PLANT NURSERY

    July 28, 2014

    Naturally occurring rhodoendron garden on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Photo: discutant/Creative Commons From Ducks Unlimited preserving over 100,000 acres of wildfowl habitat to the Audubon Society teaming up with local landowners to protect migratory birds, our region has seen significant efforts in recent years to preserve and improve biodiversity.  Cherokee One Feather reports that The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has just marked an important milestone in its environmental efforts, opening a state-of-the-art greenhouse to be used as a native plant nursery. The facility will provide plants for the tribe's frontline conservation and environmental rehabilitation work, plants which previously… Read More

  • DUCKS UNLIMITED ACHIEVES 100,000 ACRE CONSERVATION GOAL IN NC

    July 24, 2014

    Photo: Gerry Dincher/creative commons The Audubon Society aren't the only group partnering with local landowners to preserve important wildlife habitat. Ducks Unlimited, the hunting and conservation charity dedicated to preserving wildflowl habitat, recently surpassed a goal of conserving or restoring over 100,000 acres of land in North Carolina. (Nationally, the group has protected over 13 million acres.) Of the 100,000 acres in NC, approximately 19,000 were preserved through conservation easements or land acquisitions, while 87,000 acres of wetland habitat have been restored to their natural state.  While opinions on hunting can be divisive among environmentalists and animal rights activists, the… Read More

  • HOG WASTE POWER PROTECTS WATER & PROVIDES CLEAN ENERGY TOO

    July 23, 2014

    A large-scale, conventional hog waste lagoon on a farm in North Carolina. Photo: Waterkeepers Alliance/creative commons Hog waste has long been a source of trouble for North Carolina, but now it's becoming a source of energy. Late last month, Storms Hog Farms cut the ribbon on its Storms Hog Power facility in Bladenboro, NC, which uses anaerobic digestion to convert hog waste into a source of renewable energy. The Storm Hog Power facility is the sixth such facility in North Carolina, and the largest one to date. Each day, the farm collects the manure from 30,000 hogs and places it into… Read More

  • COULD FALCONRY PROVIDE CHEMICAL-FREE BIRD CONTROL TO NC FARMERS?

    July 18, 2014

    Photo: tiarescot/CC-by-2.0 The North Carolina Falconers Guild will offer a falconry apprentice workshop on August 23rd at the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in Raleigh. Participants will learn about the laws governing ownership of raptors and will get an introduction to how to care for and train birds of prey. The workshop can serve as the first step towards obtaining a falconry license, however participants will still need to complete a two year apprenticeship with an experienced falconer before they can have their own bird. Falconry is often considered a time-consuming hobby, but in California, Oregon and Washington state,… Read More

  • DURHAM’S 100% LOCAL, SUSTAINABLE, IN-SEASON FLORIST

    July 14, 2014

    Photo: Pine State Flowers For all of the growth in NC's local food movement recently, there's been less attention on other, non-edible agricultural products like fresh cut flowers. There are, of course, flowers available at many farmers' markets, but the florist section of most supermarkets—even supermarkets with an active local food program—tend to be shipped in from all over the world.  That's where Pine State Flowers hopes to find its niche. Selling only fresh, local, seasonal and sustainably grown flowers, this flower shop and small flower farm is looking to provide Durham residents with an alternative to the year-round offerings… Read More

  • APPLE BUILDING 17.5MW SOLAR FARM IN CLAREMONT, NC

    July 9, 2014

    Photo: Apple/video screen capture Apple's massive solar farm in Maiden, NC, has already helped put North Carolina toward the top of the State rankings for new solar installations. Now the Hickory Record reports that the company is building another solar farm, this time in Claremont. According to the Recorder, this will be the third large-scale solar array owned by Apple in Catawba County alone: This would be the company’s third solar farm in Catawba County. One is located on the company’s campus in Maiden. And paperwork filed in 2013 with the N.C. Utilities Commission by SunPower Corporations Systems transferred to… Read More

  • COOPERATIVE GROCERY STORE TO OPEN IN DURHAM

    July 7, 2014

    Image: Durham Co-op Market Durham’s already thriving food scene will soon add a grocery co-op, with shelves stocked full of locally grown and produced goods. When the Durham Co-op Market (formerly known as Durham Central Market) opens its doors in early 2015, it will be the realization of a dream that began more than half a decade ago. Thanks to the work of the Board of Directors, over 1000 community owners and a partnership with Self-Help Ventures, the market was able to sign a long-term lease on a property near the Chapel Hill Street exit of the Durham Freeway last… Read More

  • SCIENTISTS MAPPING NC SEA FLOOR FOR WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

    July 2, 2014

    Photo: Slaunger/creative commons North Carolina is experiencing a significant surge in utility-scale solar power development but, so far, wind energy development has lagged behind in the state. Offshore wind, however, may be a game changer. Stronger, more consistent winds—combined with a greatly reduced visible impact compatred to onshore wind—has meant that offshore wind development has become a favorite for policy makers in many parts of the world. The UK, for example, increased its wind energy capacity 80% between 2012 and 2013, moving from 1,858MW of installed capacity to over 3,321MW in just one year. Now the N&O reports that scientists are… Read More

  • CAN NC’S STRAWBERRY INDUSTRY PROTECT SOIL HEALTH?

    June 30, 2014

    Photo: huangjiahui/creative commons When local farming pioneer John Vollmer passed away recently, he was remembered not just for championing organic agriculture. Having been an agricultural chemical seller for many years, Vollmer was at least as influential in encouraging conventional growers to reconsider the role of soil health on their farms. It seems likely that Vollmer would approve of a study being conducted by NC State University researchers Amanda McWhirt, Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Gina Fernandez, Hannah Burrack and Yasmin Cardoza. The study explores ways that all NC strawberry growers can help maintain soil health, reduce chemical use, and become more economically sustainable… Read More

  • DUKE ENERGY APPROVES SEVERAL HUGE SOLAR FARMS

    June 27, 2014

    Photo: Shezamm/creative commons Two major announcements from Duke Energy suggest that the advance of utility-scale solar power in North Carolina appears to be picking up speed. Firstly, Duke Energy Renewables announced it would build 3 large-scale solar farms in Eastern NC, totalling 52MW of installed capacity. As Charlotte Business Journal reports, this deal was made possible by a 20-year power purchase agreement with American University, George Washingon University, and George Washington University Hospital and, as such, the location of the project is crucial:  The eastern North Carolina location is key for the project. The three institutions were determined to buy… Read More

  • NEW RESEARCH TOOL EMPOWERS SUSTAINABILITY PROFESSIONALS WITH QUALITY DATA

    June 23, 2014

    Photo: G-Bit/screen capture When the day comes to start incorporating plant-based, paint-on solar panels into green building designs, many cutting-edge green building professionals may first hear about it on g-bit, a new online service designed to help professionals in the green building, clean energy and corporate sustainability sectors to keep track of the latest relevant research and trends. It is hard to predict the tipping point when a technology transforms from a costly mistake to a wise investment. Many too well-intentioned green business projects end up bankrupt because decision-makers paid more attention to hype than to reliable data. For example,… Read More

  • NORTH CAROLINA POLL FINDS BROAD SUPPORT FOR CLEAN ENERGY

    June 20, 2014

    Photo: Activ Solar/creative commons Media discussion of climate change and the future of clean energy is often deeply politicized. Yet the Carlotte Observer reports on a new poll of NC residents which shows broad, bi-partisan support for renewable energy, as well as a majority specifically supporting tax breaks and other government incentives for clean energy expansion. Among the polls findings: Six in 10 NC residents support tax breaks and other incentives for solar energy 86% of Democrats, 84% of independents and 77% of Republicans saying NC should seek more alternative energy sources Nine in 10 NC residents support lifting restrictions… Read More

  • HIGH POINT COMPANY TURNS WASTE PLASTIC INTO DIESEL FUEL

    June 18, 2014

    From old computers through scrapped cars to post-consumer carpets, an awful lot of plastic-based waste ends up in landfill because it is too difficult, or too expensive, to recycle. Clean Blue Technologies, a High Point based technology start up is hoping to change all that, turning waste plastics into commercial grade diesel fuel, syngas and carbon black. Founder John Blair explains more on the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter website:  Clean Blue works with the less desirable and unable-to-be-reused higher numbered plastics, which typically wind up in landfills. Larger companies already contract with municipalities to take the more popular recyclable plastics;… Read More

  • REMEMBERING JOHN VOLLMER: A CHAMPION FOR THE SOIL

    June 13, 2014

    Photo: Brandon Yow/Whole Foods One of North Carolina’s great farmers returned to the soil last week after John Vollmer died of cancer. Farmer John and his late-wife Betty navigated a difficult time in North Carolina’s agricultural history, and played a major role in figuring out a post-tobacco future for North Carolina’s family farmers. He was the third generation to earn his livelihood cultivating his family’s property in Bunn, NC, and thanks to John and Betty’s hard-work and ingenuity, the Vollmer Farm will stay in the family, with their son Russ taking over leadership. Living Through Turbulent Times After growing up… Read More

  • ONLINE SUSTAINABLE GROCERY SERVICE LAUNCHES IN DURHAM

    June 10, 2014

    Photo: Relay Foods/screen capture Western North Carolina is not the only place with a strong local food scene. The Triangle area has also become known for its farmers' markets, farm tours and farm-to-table restaurants and cafes. Now a new grocery service aims to build on that culture, offering online grocery shopping with a strong focus on local, organic and sustainably produced goods.  Originally launched in Charlottesville, Virginia, Relay Foods now serves five regional markets including Richmond, Baltimore and Washington DC. Zach Buckner, CEO and Founder of Relay Foods, told Charlottesville Newsplex that the decision to come to Durham was based on… Read More

  • NC AQUARIUMS SELL WIND POWER TO VISITORS

    June 6, 2014

    Photo: DebMomof3/creative commons Fort Fisher Aquarium already does a lot to advance the cause of sustainability, educating the public on sustainable seafood, promoting biodiversity and conducting research into marine life too. Now the aquarium is offering visitors the chance to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to offset their own electricity use, and they'll be helping to lighten the footprint of the aquarium too: Each purchased REC provides an environmental benefit and represents one megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wind power. The wind power is generated and delivered to the national power grid. Purchasing the RECs offers direct support for renewable energy… Read More

  • ALLIANCE PROMOTES SUSTAINABLE USE OF NC’S WILD HERBS AND NATURAL PRODUCTS

    June 4, 2014

    Photo: NC Natural Products Association The mountains of North Carolina are rich with biodiversity, including many plants with valuable medicinal properties. Though resourceful residents have made use of these herbs for centuries, these plants are now becoming an important part of the economy in the mountainous region of the state, thanks to recent efforts by the Natural Products Alliance of North Carolina. The North Carolina Natural Products Association (NCNPA) has worked for over a decade to establish North Carolina as a key global supplier of premium-quality raw materials and plant-based value added products. These projects gained momentum in 2011 when… Read More

  • ASHEVILLE COMPANY PROPOSES 12 MASSIVE SOLAR FARMS

    May 29, 2014

    Photo: Shezamm/creative commons Large-scale solar power has been taking off in North Carolina, with Duke Energy's recent RFP for 300MW of new solar quickly getting over subscribed. Still, "large-scale" is a relative term. Many of the solar farms being built in North Carolina are somewhere in the 1 to 10 MW range right now—with Apple's Catawba County 20MW installation being an outlier. But the Charlotte Observer reports that Asheville-based Innovative Solar Systems is looking to leverage economies of scale, filing applications for 12 solar farms of between 25 and 80 megawatts, mostly located in Eastern North Carolina: Farms of that size… Read More

  • START-UP TO MARKET GLEANED, LOCAL FOOD IN YEAR-ROUND, READY-TO-EAT FORM

    May 28, 2014

    Photo: Seal the Seasons Would North Carolinians consume more local produce throughout the year if it were inexpensive, and already in processed, “ready-to-use” form, available for purchase in grocery store freezer sections? Daniella Uslan is looking to find out with an innovative business model she developed entitled Seal the Seasons. What began as a concept to reduce food waste and make local produce more affordable for low-income populations has gained momentum and become a way to improve profits for farmers and make it easier for schools, hospitals, and restaurants to incorporate more local food in their menus, throughout the year.… Read More

  • NC CYCLISTS ORGANIZE FOR SAFER STREETS

    May 22, 2014

    Photo: Bike Durham For a long time, biking in North America has been primarily seen as a hobby and/or a sport, not a serious mode of transportation. Yet a growing number of cyclists and sustainable transport advocates are pushing to make biking a part of everyday life. Sometimes it means pushing for better bike infrastructure. Sometimes it means supporting new pedal-powered vehicles like the Durham-made ELF. And sometimes it just means making sure that motorists are aware of bikes, and bikes are aware of motorists..  On Wednesday, May 21st, cyclists in 9 communities across North Carolina—including RTP, Asheville, Boone, Gastonia,… Read More

  • CAN CHARLOTTE CHARITY CREATE “AMERICA’S MOST SUSTAINABLE URBAN CORE”?

    May 21, 2014

    Photo: James Willeamor/creative commons It's hard to save what you don't measure. But one North Carolina non-profit is hoping to use that insight to turn North Carolina’s biggest city into the most sustainable urban core in the United States. Envision Charlotte has set itself an important goal—to utilize Charlotte's Uptown to develop first-of-their kind programs in energy, water, waste and air to conserve resources and reduce operating costs. But what does the whole integrated approach of building a Smart City entail? And what does that mean for Charlotte's competitiveness as a region? One aspect of Envision Charlotte’s efforts include social-norming energy… Read More

  • GREENSBORO TEXTILE COMPANY RESCUES MILLIONS OF BOTTLES FROM LANDFILL

    May 12, 2014

    Image: REPREVE Greensboro-based Unifi is helping to green America’s textile industry. At the company’s REPREVE Recycling Center in Yadkinville, materials that otherwise might have ended up in a landfill are spun into high quality polyester and nylon yarn. Millions of used plastic bottles arrive at the factory each year to be washed and broken down into polymer chips. Unifi and its partners in the textile industry use these chips in the production of synthetic fibers. Recycling scrap fibers Unifi is also working with other textile manufacturers to recycle scrap fibers and yarns. In garment manufacturing, 8-15% of fabric typically ends… Read More

  • WELLS FARGO INVESTS $100M IN NC SOLAR PROJECTS

    May 8, 2014

    Photo: Strata Solar/video screen capture In another sign of significant growth in utility-scale solar across NC, Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar has just announced that it has completed construction of 9 new utility-scale solar plants using $100m in tax equity financing from Wells Fargo. The 9 projects are located in Bladen, Chatham, Columbus, Franklin County, Lenoir, Nash, Person, Vance and Wayne, and together will provide enough power for over 5,000 households.  According to Strata Solar CEO Marcus Wilhelm, the benefits reach way beyond the environmental: "We are very proud of our ability to invest and build in North Carolina's rural communities.  These… Read More

  • HOW MUCH MONEY CAN NC HOMEOWNERS SAVE BY GOING SOLAR?

    May 7, 2014

    Image: NC Solar Center Utility-scale solar may be taking off in North Carolina but, so far, distributed residential installations are nowhere near as commonplace as in other parts of the country due, in part, to less favorable economic incentives. There are, however, several incentive programs available to Duke Energy customers, and choosing which one best fits each household can be a challenge. The North Carolina Solar Center—a public service center in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University—has now published a report to help North Carolinians understand the costs and savings associated with installing solar panels on private residences. The guide walks readers… Read More

  • LOCAL FOOD SALES SURGING IN WESTERN NC

    May 5, 2014

    Photo: anoldent/creative commons From city farmers cooperating with developers in Raleigh to an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina is not short of people working to make local food the norm, not the exception. Nowhere is that more apparent, however, than Western North Carolina, where new figures from the USDA's Census of Agriculture show direct sales alone growing 69% between 2007 and 2012. As the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) points out, these figures are note worthy because they are bucking trends seen elsewhere:  "The success in Western North Carolina is particularly impressive when compared to the rest of… Read More

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