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What will California’s water resources look like at the end of the century?

Published on 24 Nov 2014 Posted in Community

A great deal of research on climate change over the last decade has focused on changes to the hydrologic cycle—the continuous process by which water is circulated throughout the earth and the atmosphere—which naturally impacts water supply. These changes—earlier spring snowmelt, increased evaporation from higher temperatures, and more frequent and intense droughts—are obvious. And the changes are alarming. Water suppliers and large water users simply cannot afford to ignore climate change as they plan for the future.

Many water suppliers have begun to consider how climate will affect their water supplies, whether it is from a lake or river, stored behind a dam, or drawn from underground aquifers. Not as much attention has been paid to the other side of the equation: What will climate change do to water consumption?

Most people familiar with the state of climate change expect that a warmer climate will drive up water demand for landscapes and the inevitable evaporative cooling. Yet there has been little research on this subject and even less practical guidance for water planners and managers.

Two recent research projects have contributed to this emerging field of study, to better predict how climate change will affect future water demand. In 2012, the Pacific Institute developed a planning tool focused on the state of California that forecasts water use out to the year 2100. A year later, in 2013, the Water Research Foundation published a nationwide study, “Changes in Water Use under Regional Climate Change Scenarios.”

Both of these groundbreaking studies demonstrated how climate change can help predict future urban water use. USGBC worked closely with climate scientists to translate the output from their models into information on water demand for use by water managers. Work focused mostly on how temperatures are causing an increase in evaporation and water lost to the atmosphere by plants. In California, as in much of the West, more than half of publicly supplied water is used outdoors. Some of this is used for washing cars or sidewalks, or for filling pools and spas, but most is for landscape irrigation.


Sustainability at McDonald’s through LEED volume

Published on 25 Nov 2014 Posted in Industry

LEED certification

The McDonald’s Corporation is involved in an ongoing LEED volume initiative that pushes the company to build 25 green McDonald’s restaurants between 2013 and 2016. Ric owns two of these in Cary, and he is probably the only owner-operator to claim that distinction.

The first LEED certified McDonald’s in Cary was the Kildaire Farm Road location, renovated in 2009. The area’s most recent LEED restaurant, which opened in 2013 on Walnut Street in the Crossroads area, has taken sustainability several steps further.

Charging station

One of the first things you will see when you walk up to the restaurant is the free electric car charging station adjacent to the building.  McDonald’s is the only Cary restaurant offering this free service.

Solar power

When the former building at Crossroads was torn down and the new construction began, one of the first things built was the solar array in the parking lot.  A  large solar canopy covering 12 parking spaces and holding 132 photovoltaic panels. These panels generate 39.7 Kilowatts per day, roughly 10% of the restaurant’s daily power usage. The restaurant converts the power from solar direct current to usable alternating current in-house, where it can be used immediately.

The initial solar investment will make a return on the initial investment in about four years and, after that time, the power he generates will continue to save the restaurant money on their energy costs.

The panels have a life expectancy of 50-75 years with solid efficiency through the first 35. If the building were to be replaced (like the last one) the panels would remain.

Natural light

In addition to solar panels, the restaurant also contains solar tubes to light the interior. There are three tubes in the dining room, one in each restroom, and one in the crew room. These greatly reduce the need for electric light in the store’s interior, further reducing electric costs.

LED lighting

The restaurant is lit with 100% Cree’s LED lighting. Although the initial investment to switch all lighting to LED bulbs is more expensive, these bulbs use much less power and last for years. This cuts down on energy usage, replacement costs, and the labor used to change the bulbs.

Energy efficient

All the appliances within the store are Energy Star rated, which means that they save on energy usage and have a longer usage life.

Reduced resources consumption

The restaurant’s landscaping is done completely with drought tolerant native plants that are not irrigated, thus saving on water. All plumbing fixtures reduce water consumption by 30% including toilets, timers on sinks, and urinals. The fryers in the store are Low Oil Volume and use 30-40% less oil. The used oil is sold to an outside company that recycles it into biodiesel fuel.

Good business sense

Obtaining the Gold LEED certification was icing on the cake for this LEED Volume McDonald’s. To Ric Richards, it was not only the right thing to do—it just made good business sense. By putting in all of these sustainable practices, he is able to see cost savings of 24% on his energy bill.

How does he know this? He can compare energy costs of this 7000 square foot 24-hour establishment with his non-LEED certified 24-hour restaurants. This restaurant uses 651,490 kWh, while other traditional restaurants of the same size use 862,026 kWh.

Going green is good for the environment and the wallet. It just makes sense.


How resilience and sustainability are shaping concrete solutions

Published on 3 Dec 2014 Written by Kevin P. Mlutkowski Posted in Industry

Globally, so many communities face multidimensional threats, hazards, and disasters. And, as social and economic loss from these impacts continues to increase, development with a renewed focus on sustainability and resilience can offer opportunities for mitigating the financial, environmental, and community impacts from these events. Communities continue to advocate for increased sustainability and resilience, and the American Concrete Institute (ACI)—working with nearly 20,000 members, chapters, and partners around the world—is developing and disseminating the resources needed to improve the sustainable and resilient properties of our communities.

Responding to seismic activity, climate change, and other extreme events, encourages reflection alongside the expansion of state-of-the-art knowledge. The ACI membership is leading the concrete industry with development of this knowledge through a robust concrete sustainability technical committee focused on developing and reporting on concrete materials, construction, design, social issues, and certification. ACI has another technical committee focused on the structural integrity and resilience of concrete structures—working to identify collapse-resisting mechanisms, including proposed methods to increase functional and disaster-resilient design of structural components and systems.

During ACI’s seventh annual Concrete Sustainability Forum, held just weeks ago in Washington, D.C., the Institute provided an update on the evolving landscape of concrete sustainability and structural resilience. Examples of new sustainable and innovative concrete technologies from around the globe were highlighted, including CarbonCure’s efforts to sequester carbon dioxide, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable Pavements program, and more.  Thanks to thorough collaboration, communities around the world are becoming more sustainable and resilient.


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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.