Monday, May 28, 2012

Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for the week of the annular eclipse


Just as I noted in Sustainability news from campuses on the campaign trail for Mother's Day Weekend 2012, I'm still running a week behind on this installment of the series. So, without any further ado, here are the sustainbility stories from public universities in Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin that I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Annular Eclipse edition) on Daily Kos except for the ones I already posted in Sustainability education news from campuses on the campaign trail, plus bonus stories from Kentucky, Indiana, and Nebraska that I saved for this edition.

General Sustainability

First, two stories from Portland State University about how the campus is promoting the sustainability initiatives of the city of Portland to the world.

Portland State University: Sustainable Business Oregon: Korean delegation turns to Portland for green city expertise
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Posted: May 18, 2012
A high-ranking delegation from the South Korean government was in Portland Thursday to sign a memorandum of understanding with Portland Mayor Sam Adams formalizing a partnership to work together on sustainable city development.

The Korean delegation is from the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction Agency, charged with building a new capital city 75 miles south of Seoul. The new city, Sejong, is aiming to be the greenest, most high tech and most desirable city in the world.

Or at least second in the world. Su-chang Cho, director of the agency's urban strategy division, joked with Mayor Adams that he'd be willing to concede first place to Portland.
Portland State University: Sustainable Business Oregon: Portland's EV leadership stars in global report
Author: Christina Williams, Sustainable Business Oregon
Posted: May 15, 2012
Portland is featured among 16 cities around the world in an information-sharing report that highlights the early leaders in the adoption and promotion of electric vehicles.

The report, EV City Casebook, was published by the Rocky Mountain Institute and is the result of research by the institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, The International Energy Agency and University of California, Davis.

"We wanted to create something that would start a conversation among cities," said Ben Holland, program manager for the EV program Project Get Ready, which is run by the Rocky Mountain institute. "With the economic and political climate, it's tough to push this kind of change at the federal level, but you really see work going on at the city level."

"Cities," Holland said, "can be a test bed."
Next, how the University of Texas is preparing for the state and planet's future.

University of Texas, Austin: 2012 Texas Water Summit to Explore Options for State’s Water Security
May 18, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas — The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) will hold the 2012 Texas Water Summit: Securing Water for Texas’ Future at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on May 20-21. This summit will explore the major challenges of ensuring future water resources including supply and demand, water science and conservation, surface and groundwater resources and developing new forms of water resources.

This event, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas System, will include keynote addresses by state Rep. Mark Strama and Robert Mace, deputy executive administrator of water science and conservation at the Texas Water Development Board, as well as presentations by prominent experts from Texas industry, academia and government.

In 2011 Texas experienced the worst single-year drought in the state’s history, generating direct economic losses that exceeded $10 billion. As Texas begins to outgrow its water supply infrastructure, there are significant political, economic, technological and scientific challenges that must be met to ensure the state is prepared for future population growth.
University of Texas, Austin: Climate Engineering Report Ranked Among Top Government Priorities by Copenhagen Consensus Center
May 17, 2012
AUSTIN, TX — The effect of global warming could potentially be ameliorated by engineering ways to reflect more sunlight back into space, according to a report by a professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

The report, by Professor J. Eric Bickel and Hudson Institute Fellow Lee Lane, was selected by a panel of international experts as one of 16 areas of research that governments and philanthropists should prioritize to respond to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The panel included four Nobel laureates in economics and was organized by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a Denmark-based think tank that brings together the world’s brightest minds every four years to analyze the costs and benefits of approaches to tackling major societal problems. This is the second time Bickel has been asked to participate in the Copenhagen Consensus process. This year the consensus solicited reports from more than 65 researchers from around the world about topics such as fighting malnourishment, education shortages, population growth and climate change.

Bickel and Lane’s report ranked first among the four papers solicited on climate change, and 12th overall on a priority list released this week by the Copenhagen Consensus.
Nebraska is also trying to prepare better for the state's future.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Rural Futures Institute aims to move beyond 'road kill' of past good ideas
Lincoln, Neb., May 10th, 2012
As the University of Nebraska’s new Rural Futures Institute begins to take shape, one of its chief advocates acknowledges that past higher-education efforts to save rural America have become “road kill.”

This time it’s different, though, said Ronnie Green, NU vice president for agriculture and natural resources. By way of illustrating that, he announced the institute has established a competitive grants program to offer seed money in two key areas -- research and engagement and teaching and engagement. Green said 5 to 10 grants for $70,000 to $150,000 would be given in the former category and 5 to 8 for $15,000 to $25,000 in the latter.

Green, making the announcement at the start of the second day of NU's first Rural Futures Conference May 9, encouraged conference attendees to be creative and innovative in proposing grant ideas.
Finally, a story at a more personal level, just in time for National Bike Month.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Campus Rec named a bicycle-friendly business
May 2012
The League of American Bicyclists has named UNL Campus Recreation a Silver Level Bicycle-Friendly Business. The league named 67 new Bicycle-Friendly Businesses in spring 2012. More than 400 businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies across the United States have received the award.

The honor will be celebrated during a Bike to Work Week ice cream social, 4:30 to 6 p.m., May 18 at the Jane Snyder Trails Center, 250 N. 21st St.

“UNL Campus Recreation is at the forefront of a movement to make American businesses more competitive, sustainable and attractive to the best and brightest employees,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “An investment in bicycling enhances employee health, increases sustainability and improves the bottom line.”
I might recycle this entry in a post about National Bike Month at the end of May.

Environment, including science

I present the following without comment, as there is that much heavy environmental research going on at these schools.

Oregon State University: Scientists document volcanic history of turbulent Sumatra region
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The early April earthquake of magnitude 8.6 that shook Sumatra was a grim reminder of the devastating earthquakes and tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people in 2004 and 2005.

Now a new study, funded by the National Science Foundation, shows that the residents of that region are at risk from yet another potentially deadly natural phenomenon – major volcanic eruptions.

Researchers from Oregon State University working with colleagues in Indonesia have documented six major volcanic eruptions in Sumatra over the past 35,000 years – most equaling or surpassing in explosive intensity the eruption of Washington’s Mount St. Helens in 1980.

Results of the research have just been published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: UNL research discovers metabolic adaptation to high altitudes
May 17th, 2012
Lincoln, Neb., — When mammals are cold, they can employ physical changes to stay warm -- such as intense shivering. Like any form of aerobic exercise, though, "shivering thermogenesis" is especially challenging at high altitudes because there is less oxygen in the thin mountain air. So how do high-altitude mammals maintain a constant body temperature in low-oxygen, extremely cold alpine environments?

In a publication this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from the lab of University of Nebraska-Lincoln evolutionary biologist Jay Storz, lead author Zachary Cheviron reports a discovery on how high-altitude deer mice have evolved to meet the combined challenges of hypoxia and cold exposure.

Cheviron, a former post-doctoral researcher in Storz's lab who recently became an assistant professor in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the discovery reveals how evolved changes in gene expression (changes in the rate at which genes are transcribed) modulate aspects of energy metabolism.
Oregon State University: How do hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead interact?
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Genetic differences between hatchery-raised salmon and steelhead and fish born in the wild have sparked controversy and raised questions about future policies, overshadowing ecological interactions that may ultimately be of greater importance.

How hatchery and wild fish deal with competition, predation, disease and ecosystem effects will dictate fish runs of the future, yet the science on salmon has lagged behind management decisions.

That may be changing. The professional journal Environmental Biology of Fishes is publishing a special edition this May called “Ecological Interactions of Hatchery and Wild Salmon” that provides some of the latest findings on the topic. Edited by David Noakes of Oregon State University, the journal will include results from 22 studies conducted by scientists around the world.

The papers were presented at a conference organized by the Wild Salmon Center in Portland.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: 2012 Water and Natural Resources Tour Examines Missouri River Flood
May 16, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. — This summer's University of Nebraska water and natural resources tour will spend three days visiting parts of Nebraska and Iowa that were most affected by last summer's record flooding on the Missouri River.

The tour is July 17-19, leaving from and returning to Hardin Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus at North 33rd and Holdrege streets.

"We'll not only look at residual damage, but just as significantly, restorative efforts since flood waters receded and what we have learned from the actual flood," said Steve Ress, tour co-organizer and communicator at UNL's Nebraska Water Center, part of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.

"The flood disrupted the lives of thousands and extended for more than three months, breaking through levees and flowing beyond vulnerable lowlands to destroy homes, businesses and highways," said tour host and co-organizer Mike Jess, a retired UNL lecturer.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Breeding and Growing Organic Wheat for Bread Topic of June 11 Field to Table Tour
May 14, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. — A June 11 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension field to table tour will give educators, nutritionists, health professionals, farmers and the public more information about breeding and growing organic wheat for bread quality and health.

The field to table tour at UNL's Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead will start at 10 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m.

Participants will start with a visit to UNL organic research fields to learn how wheat is bred, how wheat works in an organic farm rotation, cover crops used with wheat and promising experimental lines for organic production.
University of Wisconsin: UW plant breeders develop an even heart-healthier oat
May 16, 2012
University of Wisconsin-Madison plant breeders have developed a new oat variety that's significantly higher in the compound that makes this grain so cardio-friendly.

"The biggest thing that stands out about this new variety, BetaGene, is that it's both a high yielding variety and high in beta glucan. Beta glucan is a heart-healthy chemical that is exclusive to oats," says John Mochon, program manager of the Small Grains Breeding Program in the UW-Madison agronomy department.

BetaGene is 2 percent higher in beta glucan on average than other oat varieties on the market. That may not sound much, but it's huge from a nutrition standpoint. A 2 percent bump translates to a 20-percent boost in beta glucan levels in products made from the oat.
University of Kentucky: Oxford Handbook Offers an Earthly Look at Alien Intelligence
By Sarah Geegan
Published: May 16, 2012
Visionaries often ask us to look skyward for signs of alien intelligence. A new book, "The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Cognition," edited by Thomas Zentall of the University of Kentucky Department of Psychology and Edward Wasserman of the University of Iowa, suggests that we might more fruitfully explore and understand alien intelligence right here on Earth.

This 960-page volume, published in February by Oxford University Press, is a compendium of scientific research into the cognitive worlds of animals, a flourishing field of study that that was prompted by Charles Darwin’s provocative proposal that humans and animals bear striking resemblances to one another—if suitable comparative investigations are conducted.

In 45 chapters, authors from the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Russia, Japan and Australia share their latest research into the minds of animals—from invertebrates (ants, bees, crabs, spiders), to birds (pigeons, chickens, chickadees, corvids), to mammals (rats, dogs, dolphins), and to primates (monkeys, apes, humans).
In case you were wondering where the science fiction slant was in this post, look no farther.
Society, including culture and politics

Old news, but new to the original audience at Daily Kos. Besides, it kicks off the public health emphasis of this section and ties it back into the healthy diet items back in Environment.

Oregon Live: First Lady Michelle Obama to deliver commencement address at Oregon State University
By Nick Houtman, Oregon State University
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 9:23 AM Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 11:04 AM
CORVALLIS, Ore. – First Lady Michelle Obama, a national champion of promoting healthier communities and better childhood nutrition, will provide the commencement address at Oregon State University on Sunday, June 17.

OSU President Ed Ray extended the invitation to the First Lady to participate in Oregon State’s 143rd annual commencement ceremony.

“Mrs. Obama’s leadership to improve the health of our nation’s communities and reduce obesity among young people is outstanding,” Ray said. “And her efforts are very much in keeping with Oregon State’s overall mission. As a top-tier land grant university, we are focused on academic programs, research and outreach and engagement that promote healthy people, a healthy environment and a healthy economy.
University of Wisconsin: Unsafe at any speed: Even for driving pros, distractions increase crash risk
by Renee Meiller
May 15, 2012
The ringing cell phone you’re reaching to answer. The text message that demands a reply now. The GPS you’re trying to program as you’re frantically rushing to your destination.

They’re just a few activities—among many—that divert drivers’ attention from the road and escalate their risk of having an accident.

And, an accident can happen in an instant, says driver distraction researcher John Lee, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“Studies dating back to the 1960s found the maximum time the eye can be diverted from a driving task without significant adverse effect is 1.5 to 2 seconds,” he says. “Attention to the road deteriorates the longer a driver looks away.”
University of Kentucky: Annual Research Day Helps Move Diabetes from Laboratory to Clinical Care
By Ann Blackford
May 14, 2012
Some examples of current studies include:

  • Research into the causes of obesity and why obesity promotes diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
  • Research into the end-organ damage caused by diabetes, such as damage to the kidneys and the eyes.
  • A collaborative grant to UK, Ohio State, West Virginia and others to look at the treatment of obesity as means to lower cancer. Obesity is a driving force for both diabetes and cancer.
  • Research looking at the pancreas and the islet cells to better understand what causes them to make insulin, utilizing basic science to develop novel ways to trick the beta cells to make more insulin.
  • Research into novel therapeutic approaches to treat diabetes and obesity, ranging from lifestyle approaches (exercise, behavioral interventions) to therapeutics.
University of Oregon: Begin early: Researchers say water with meals may encourage wiser choices
May 14, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. — Water could change the way we eat.

That's the conclusion of new research by T. Bettina Cornwell of the University of Oregon and Anna R. McAlister of Michigan State University. Their findings appear online this week ahead of regular publication by the journal Appetite.

The paper featured separate studies. One involved a survey of 60 young U.S. adults (ages 19-23) about the role of food-and-drink pairings. The second involved experiments with 75 U.S. children (ages 3-5) to determine the role of drinks and vegetable consumption. The same preschoolers were tested on different days under differing scenarios involving drinks served with vegetables.

Older participants favored the combination of soda served with salty, calorie-dense foods rather than soda and vegetables. Preschoolers ate more raw vegetables, either carrots or red peppers, when accompanied with water rather than when accompanied by a sweetened beverage.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: 'Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory' wins book prize
May 14th, 2012
Lincoln, Neb., — "The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory" by James N. Leiker and Ramon Powers is this year's winner of the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Richard Edwards, director of the center, made the announcement this month at the center's annual fellows meeting.

The exodus of the Northern Cheyenne in 1878 and 1879, an attempt to flee from Indian Territory back to their Montana homeland, is an important event in American Indian history. It is equally important in the history of towns like Oberlin, Kan., where Cheyenne warriors killed more than 40 settlers. The Cheyenne, in turn, suffered losses through violent encounters with the U.S. Army. More than a century later, the story remains familiar because it has been told by historians, novelists and filmmakers.
Huffington Post: The War on Sex for Pleasure
Beth Burkstrand-Reid
Law professor, University of Nebraska
May 16, 2012
Sure, the recent barrage of legal attacks on women's reproductive rights signifies a war on women. Women's ability to control their reproductive lives -- and therefore their lives more generally -- has never been subjected to more legal interference than it has in the first months of this year.

But what we are missing is that the latest attacks on reproductive rights are not just missiles launched in the war on women. This is also a war on consenting adults' right to have sex for nothing but sheer pleasure.
University of Nebraska-Omaha: OLLAS Releases New Metro Area Latino Population Fact Sheet
May 9, 2012
A few of the report’s highlights:

• About a quarter of the combined Latino population in Iowa and Nebraska, or 77,508 Latinos, live in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area.

• The largest concentration of Latinos in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area, or 83.6 percent, is found in just three cities: Council Bluffs in Iowa, and Bellevue and Omaha in Nebraska.

• The Latino population living in the metro area grew by 93 percent between 2000 and 2010. In contrast, the non-Latino White population growth rate was only six percent while the Black population grew moderately at almost 14 percent during the same decade.

• The Latino population in Pottawattamie County grew at a slightly higher rate during the 2000-2010 decade, compared to the previous one. In contrast, Omaha’s Latino population grew at less than half the earlier decade’s rate.

• The median age of Whites in the metro area was almost twice as high as that of Latinos.

• In Nebraska more than 56 percent of the Latino population growth during the 10-year period was due to natural increase. In Iowa, however, less than half of the change, about 46 percent, was due to natural increase.

• By 2040, more than a quarter of the metro population will be Hispanic. In contrast, the White population will continue its decline and by 2040 will make up about 60 percent of the metro area population.

• 36 percent of the total Latino population will be eligible to vote in the 2012 elections.
University of Arkansas: USPS to Ban International Shipments Containing Lithium Batteries
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Effective May 16, the U.S. Postal Service will revise its "Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service," Domestic Mail Manual section 601.10.20 to codify that primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location.

However this prohibition does not apply to lithium batteries authorized under DMM 601.10.20 when mailed within the United States or its territories. International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union, and the U.S. Postal Service anticipates that on Jan. 1, 2013, customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally — including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location — when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.

Until such time that a less restrictive policy can be implemented consistent with international standards, and in accordance with UPU Convention, lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail.

University of Arkansas: U.S. Department of Energy Uses Software Developed by University of Arkansas Statistician
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has recently started using a piece of software developed by Giovanni Petris, a University of Arkansas professor of statistics, to forecast natural gas prices.

The Energy Information Administration is the statistical and analytical agency within the Department of Energy. The Energy Information Administration collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. In particular, the Energy Information Administration produces regular forecasts of energy production, consumption, and prices.

The software package developed by Petris is already used by businesses and in universities worldwide to analyze and forecast time series of varied nature. To get Energy Information Administration researchers up to speed with the fine nuances involved in the use of the software, Petris has been invited to the agency to give a workshop on his package in May.
I was finally able to get a good transition, this time to economy via a political decision about energy efficiency.

Economy, including technology

First, the intersection of technology and society.

University of Louisville: TV allows professors to reach millions with little-known history
by Janene Zaccone
May 16, 2012 01:56 PM
It isn’t often that university professors get to teach millions of people at once, but that’s what happened last semester for two University of Louisville professors.

Carol Mattingly, professor of English, and Daniel Krebs, assistant professor of history, were featured experts on separate episodes of the NBC TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” The show traces the family histories of celebrities, and its researchers and producers sought them for their expertise in little-known aspects of U.S. history.

Mattingly has researched extensively the writings of 19th century women and women’s groups. She helped actress Helen Hunt understand the importance of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in attaining the vote for women and in trying to improve the lives of 19th century women. According to the website “TV By the Numbers,” some 5.79 million people tuned in to watch the March 23 episode where Hunt learned that her great-grandmother, a WCTU leader in Maine, worked for women’s suffrage and for legislation to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the hope of improving the lives of women trapped in abusive marriages.
Krebs, a military historian who specializes in U.S. Revolutionary War prisoners of war, provided information about a Hessian regiment to actor Rob Lowe, who had just discovered that his five-time great-grandfather had fought in that unit and faced George Washington’s troops at the pivotal Battle of Trenton.
University of Nebraska Medical Center: Alumnus' HGTV appearance becomes an allied health recruiting tool
by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations
May 15, 2012
David Holt, program director of clinical perfusion education, missed seeing his former student on the show. But he heard about it. Not long after it aired, Holt got a phone call. The person on the line was calling to inquire about UNMC's perfusion program.

The guy had never heard of perfusion until just recently, he said, but it sounded like something he might be interested in as a career. And he knew UNMC was the place to go.

Holt always asks -- he knows no one grows up dreaming of becoming a perfusionist; outside of the medical community, you never hear about it. What made the guy become so interested in perfusion?

Well, he was watching his favorite show, when ...

"I heard about it on HGTV," the prospective applicant said.
University of Arkansas: Researcher Develops Personalized Search Engines
Expertise will contribute to movement to annotate the web
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With little more than basic information about Web users’ behavior – that is, the hyperlinks they click on daily and the content at those sites – Susan Gauch can build a better search engine. In information systems research, this work is known as “implicit” user profiling, meaning there are basic assumptions about user interest and intent based on the sites they frequent and the content they view.

Gauch, a professor of computer science and computer engineering at the University of Arkansas, has expertise in developing robust and personalized search engines, which she will contribute to the work of, a project started by Dan Whaley, the coder and entrepreneur who built the first Web-based travel reservation system. is trying to build a system of annotation for the Web. Based on a model of community peer-review, the system will be an open-source platform that will enable annotators to comment on individual sentences.

“Since the very beginning of the Web, there has been an issue of trust,” Gauch said, “because there has always been this ubiquitous ability for anyone to create and distribute information. What is trying to do is build confidence and trust about information obtained on the Web. Yes, it is a form of peer review, but it won’t be hierarchical or purely academic. Many details haven’t been worked out yet, but the peer-review component will be determined by the annotator’s reputation, which will be based on many demographic factors and will be constantly under review by other annotators.”
Next, straight economy, with an emphasis on energy efficiency.

University of Arkansas: APEI Team Wins 2012 Arkansas Small Business Award
Local company plans to grow, add 20 high tech jobs in coming year
Friday, May 18, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The four-member management team of Arkansas Power Electronics International has been named the 2012 Arkansas Small Business Person of the Year, in the team category, by the Small Business Administration. The APEI management team members are Alexander Lostetter, president and chief operating officer; Jared Hornberger, director of manufacturing; Sharmila Mounce, business operations manager; and Roberto Marcelo Schupbach, chief technology officer.

APEI's core business is to develop, manufacture and market state-of-the-art technology in high performance, high energy-efficiency power electronics systems. APEI's technology reduces energy losses of electrical power systems by more than 90 per cent and has the potential to save billions of dollars per year in wasted energy, when implemented on a mass scale.

APEI is recognized internationally in the development and marketing of state-of the-art technology in power electronics systems, electronic motor drives, and power electronics packaging. The company has filed for or been awarded more than two dozen patents on its high performance silicon carbide power module technology.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Nebraska economic indicator increases in April
May 18th, 2012
Lincoln, Neb., - The Leading Economic Indicator for Nebraska increased by 0.44 percent in April, reversing a decline during March. Taken together, changes in the indicator for April and March suggest the Nebraska economy will grow slowly during the fall.

The Leading Economic Indicator for Nebraska, produced by faculty and students in the Department of Economics and Bureau of Business Research in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration, is a composite of six components that predict future economic growth. They are single-family building permits, airline passenger counts, initial unemployment claims, manufacturing hours, the value of the U.S. dollar and business expectations gathered from the Survey of Nebraska Business.

"A sharp decline in initial unemployment claims made the largest contribution to the increase in the indicator," said UNL economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research. "This decline in layoffs indicates that businesses expect to need their workforce in the coming months to meet envisioned production and sales. This was confirmed in responses to the Survey of Nebraska Business, with businesses expecting to add employees over the next six months."
I told you, straight economy. Next, energy efficiency.

Purdue University: Purdue trustees begin to implement energy plan by approving infrastructure improvements
May 11, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University's Board of Trustees on Friday (May 11) approved a combined request to install a natural gas-fired 6.5 MW combustion turbine, also known as a combined heat and power (CHP) boiler; convert a boiler from coal to gas; and upgrade a steam distribution line on Jischke Drive.

This project stems directly from the Comprehensive Energy Master Plan (CEMP) created by Purdue Physical Facilities and consultant Burns & McDonnell that was presented to trustees earlier this week. On Thursday (May 10) the board's Physical Facilities Committee approved a project to install individual utility meters in all major campus buildings. The CEMP is designed to increase energy generation capacity while containing costs and emissions.

Trustees on Friday approved a project, also part of the energy plan, to begin planning a 5 million gallon thermal energy storage tank. In addition, the board also approved a contract to install new air handler systems in a chemistry building and adjust the budget for the student fitness and wellness center renovation.
Followed by sharing transportation.

University of Louisville: WeCar - Coming Soon to UofL
One less thing to bring to campus...your car.
May, 2012
WeCar by Enterprise and the University of Louisville are excited to introduce an exclusive car-sharing service starting in the Fall of 2012. The WeCar program is designed to allow students and faculty/staff the ability to reserve and rent a vehicle on-site for an hour, a day or overnight.

WeCar vehicles provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation solution and will be available 24/7. So leave your car at home in the fall, and make it one less thing to bring back with you.
This next story almost ended up in yesterday's compilation of space stories, but it had more general applications and it really belonged with the annular eclipse edition, so I kept it here.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: NSF award supports UNL physicist's nanoscale research
May 10th, 2012
Lincoln, Neb., - The key to making computers and other electronics smaller, faster and less expensive lies in overcoming the limitations of existing materials. University of Nebraska-Lincoln physicist Xia Hong said she believes her research on nanoscale materials will help break through current barriers.

Hong, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and a researcher in UNL's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, earned a five-year, $600,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program Award this spring from the National Science Foundation to continue her research. Also known as a CAREER award, it is NSF's most prestigious award for outstanding pre-tenure faculty to help them develop as teacher-scholars and researchers.

For decades, scientists have been squeezing more power out of today's silicon-based electronics, which are approaching the material's fundamental limits. To continue advancing, researchers are exploring existing materials for unique properties at the nano-level and fabricating new nanomaterials with multifunctional properties. Many materials exhibit unusual physical, chemical or biological properties at the nanoscale that are not found at the larger macro level.
And that's it for the previous week's stories. Stay tuned for at least two posts using material from Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Dragon docks with ISS edition) at Daily Kos. As I've written before, blogging about sustainability means never running out of material.

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