The clock is ticking. If you haven’t filed your 2011 taxes yet, you still have time to take advantages of some home energy tax credits that you may have made during the year. But, come April 15th, Many of the incentives set forth by federal and state government will no longer assist you with your taxes as many expired with the change of the calendar.
According to ENERGY STAR, if you’ve made any of the following improvements to your primary residence during 2011, you’re eligible take advantage of the Federal Tax breaks offered on your 2011 returns:
Biomass Stoves: These stoves, which use biomass fuels to heat your home and hot water, are eligible for a $300 tax credit, as long as they carry a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75 percent….Read Full Article
Teaching renewable energy at community colleges is nothing new, according to Carolyn Teich, senior program associate from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Such courses have actually been in community college curricula for about 30 years.
But there is also a wave of new courses designed for people who want to live more sustainably. For example, Kirkwood Community College — which primarily offers classes on its Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, campuses — launched a Go Green initiative this past fall in its Continuing Education department.
A team looks at trends in the market to develop new programs for the school, says Kim Johnson, the associate vice president of continuing education programming. Part of her job is to work with that team.
Programs are planned a year in advance, she says. About a year ago, the Kirkwood team discussed the increased emphasis on “green” — especially green jobs — because of the Obama administration’s support of renewable energy technology in the Stimulus package. She also felt the community had an increased interest in sustainability and saving money….Read Full Article
In the first part of our conversation with Francis Thicke, Ph.D., candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in the 2010 election, we discussed the use of perennial crops as biofuels, using a process called pyrolysis. In this part of our discussion, Thicke talks about increasing biodiversity and farm-based power generation.
Thicke and his wife are organic dairy farmers who live near Fairfield, Iowa. Thicke is a respected agricultural scientist, who has testified twice before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C….
THICKE: I would like to see wind energy development become more targeted toward systems that profit farmers, landowners, and rural communities. Currently, we have quite a few large wind farms in Iowa. One study shows we now have the capacity to produce about 15% of our electrical energy needs with wind in Iowa. It is very good that we have developed so much wind power capacity, but we should look at how ownership of wind energy production is structured, and who profits from it….
Cattails are among nature’s most primitive species. They were here when dinosaurs ruled. They kept baby Moses from floating down the Nile to a premature death. They’re ubiquitous, found in ditches the world over. Grown in clean water, they’re edible. Grown in wastewater, they remove pollutants from the sewage so it can be safely returned to the natural water cycle. In the process, cattails absorb the atmosphere’s increasingly abundant carbon dioxide to fuel photosynthesis, producing sugars and starches that can be converted easily, cleanly, and cheaply into alcohol used for biofuel.
Biofuels solve the same problems that petroleum fuel creates. Plants use the carbon dioxide they remove from the environment to grow. Harvested and converted to alcohol, they return that same energy when used as fuel. This is why corn has garnered a lot of attention as a source of biofuel. But corn-for-ethanol is problematic. Land devoted to growing fuel is land that can’t be devoted to growing food. And, unless it’s grown organically, corn is fertilized with materials that pollute our groundwater and contribute to global warming. Gas-powered tractors harvest it; gas-powered vehicles truck it to market. All this for a fuel source that yields – depending on which study you consult — 75 to 200 gallons per acre? There’s got to be a better way…Read Full Article
Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. He is also co-author, with Harold J. Rafson, of Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999). What follows is Part 2 of a four-part interview.
BPGL: You’re known in Chicago for the largest rooftop solar installation in the city, on top of a brownfield redevelopment project. But people say solar technology has a long payback. Is solar economically viable?Read Full Article