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The Economic Case for Wind and Solar Energy in Africa

To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030. While hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that wind and solar can be economically and environmentally competitive options and can contribute significantly to the rising demand.

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Results from experiments and computational modeling studies that definitively identify the "active site" of a catalyst commonly used for making methanol from CO2 will guide the design of improved catalysts for transforming this pollutant to useful chemicals.

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A new Berkeley Lab-led study provides detailed 3-D views of space dust in the Milky Way, which could help us understand the properties of this dust and how it affects views of distant objects.

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A physicist has created a new system that will let scientists control the energy and rotation of plasma in real time in a doughnut-shaped machine known as a tokamak.

Towards Super-Efficient, Ultra-Thin Silicon Solar Cells

Researchers from Ames Laboratory used supercomputers at NERSC to evaluate a novel approach for creating more energy-efficient ultra-thin crystalline silicon solar cells by optimizing nanophotonic light trapping.

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UPTON, NY--Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot. By exploring the details of this delicate energy balance, a group of scientists from the U.

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Rare Earth Recycling

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Three SLAC Employees Awarded Lab's Highest Honor

At a March 7 ceremony, three employees of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were awarded the lab's highest honor ­- the SLAC Director's Award.

Dan Sinars Represents Sandia in First Energy Leadership Class

Dan Sinars, a senior manager in Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed power center, which built and operates the Z facility, is the sole representative from a nuclear weapons lab in a new Department of Energy leadership program that recently visited Sandia.

ORNL, HTS International Corporation to Collaborate on Manufacturing Research

HTS International Corporation and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an agreement to explore potential collaborations in advanced manufacturing research.

Jefferson Lab Director Honored with Energy Secretary Award

Hugh Montgomery, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), was awarded The Secretary's Distinguished Service Award by the Secretary of Energy earlier this year.

New Projects to Make Geothermal Energy More Economically Attractive

Geothermal energy, a clean, renewable source of energy produced by the heat of the earth, provides about 6 percent of California's total power. That number could be much higher if associated costs were lower. Now scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have launched two California Energy Commission-funded projects aimed at making geothermal energy more cost-effective to deploy and operate.

Southern Research Project Advances Novel CO2 Utilization Strategy

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy has awarded Southern Research nearly $800,000 for a project that targets a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method of producing some of the most important chemicals used in manufacturing.

Harker School Wins 2017 SLAC Regional Science Bowl Competition

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Francis Alexander Named Deputy Director of Brookhaven Lab's Computational Science Initiative

Alexander brings extensive management and leadership experience in computational science research to the position.

Kalinin, Paranthaman Elected Materials Research Society Fellows

Two researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sergei Kalinin and Mariappan Parans Paranthaman, have been elected fellows of the Materials Research Society.


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Modeling the "Flicker" of Gluons in Subatomic Smashups

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Rare Nickel Atom Has "Doubly Magic" Structure

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Microbial Activity in the Subsurface Contributes to Greenhouse Gas Fluxes

Natural carbon dioxide production from deep subsurface soils contributes significantly to emissions, even in a semiarid floodplain.

Stretching a Metal Into an Insulator

Straining a thin film controllably allows tuning of the materials' magnetic, electronic, and catalytic properties, essential for new energy and electronic devices.

How Moisture Affects the Way Soil Microbes Breathe

Study models soil-pore features that hold or release carbon dioxide.

ARM Data Is for the Birds

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The Future of Coastal Flooding

Better storm surge prediction capabilities could help reduce the impacts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes.

Estimating Global Energy Use for Water-Related Processes

Scientists find that water-related energy consumption is increasing across the globe, with pronounced differences across regions and sectors.


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Growing Demand for Climate-Proof Financial Products among Universities

Article ID: 619056

Released: 2014-06-16 13:00:00

Source Newsroom: Humboldt State University

In a move that reflects a growing demand among universities to make socially responsible, sustainable investment choices, Humboldt State University’s charitable foundation has already adopted a the policy to strictly limit its holdings in companies directly or indirectly involved in fossil fuels. Now, through its “Humboldt Investment Pledge,” The HSU Advancement Foundation is urging other universities to do more to clean up their investments.

The HSU Advancement Foundation’s Board unanimously adopted a new “Social and Environmentally Responsible Offset and Mitigation Policy” and took the Humboldt Investment Pledge at its most recent meeting on April 25.

For over a decade, Humboldt State’s Advancement Foundation has operated without any direct investments in fossil fuel-related industries, making it a leader in the more recent fossil fuel divestment movement.

Despite its socially responsible investment record, HSU’s Advancement Foundation Board adopted the stricter policy following extensive meetings with students and other parties who were intent on seeing the Foundation do even better.

The policy also builds on the university’s campus-wide commitment to sustainability. Its inclusion of a pledge was inspired by the university’s Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, which was created by HSU students almost three decades ago and is now used at nearly 100 universities worldwide.

“We could have recommended the status quo, continuing our investment practices that are already more socially responsible than most other institutions. But that isn’t enough for this Board, our students, or our community,” said Duncan Robins, a Board member on the Finance Committee who helped lead the development of the new policy and pledge. “We want to prove that it is possible, even for a relatively small endowment like ours, to do even better,” Robins said. “We won’t be perfect, but we will try to set a positive example for others to follow.”

The policy lays out a ten-point pledge with broad goals that will guide future investment activity. The policy reads:

The Humboldt State University Advancement Foundation will:

1. Define Socially or Environmentally Concerning Sectors (“Concerning Sectors”) in a broad, bold way so as to include:

a. Energy - extraction, distribution, refining and marketing (i.e. Oil, natural gas, coal and related/supporting industries);

b. Utilities - electricity generation (i.e. Utilities utilizing carbon-based fuels);

c. Aerospace/Defense, Alcohol, Tobacco, Gaming and Casino industries.

Revisit definition and revise as appropriate over time.

2. Continue to abstain from any direct investment in Concerning Sectors.

3. Monitor and report on the value of indirect investments in Concerning Sectors.

4. Make reasonable attempts to reduce the size of indirect investments in Concerning Sectors provided any divestments are consistent with the Foundation's fiduciary requirements.

5. Define Socially or environmentally Responsible (“SER”) organizations, projects or assets initially as ones which:

a. Are environmentally friendly (i.e. reduce the levels of atmospheric C02) or;

b. Improve the health and well-being of our community members.

Revisit definition and revise as appropriate over time.

6. Actively seek offsetting investment opportunities in SER organizations, projects or assets.

7. Invest directly in SER organizations, projects or assets provided that:

a. Investments meet the Foundation’s fiduciary requirements and policies.

b. Investments support the stated HSU mission, vision and values.

8. Monitor and report on the value of direct investments in SER assets and active investments in SER organizations or projects.

9. Monitor and report on the value of obvious indirect investments in SER organizations, projects or assets.

10. Create a SEROP Fund (with appropriate policies) and actively seek donations of funds and assets that could be used to support Humboldt’s SEROP Pledge.

Robins said the student voices and energy on the issue were vital. A student group first approached the Board about divesting from fossil fuels last fall, and since that time has continued to meet with the Board’s Finance Committee to work on details. The Board was inspired by their understanding of the issues and commitment to making a difference.

As discussions with the students and other parties progressed, a policy emerged that focused on much more than a small number of oil companies. It became a policy to discourage investment in all companies either directly or indirectly involved with extracting and using fossil fuel, and one aimed at challenging the Foundation to take more proactive steps going forward. In a stroke, the Foundation is now concerned with the social impact of many more companies in its mutual fund portfolios – nearly 10 percent as opposed to less than 1 percent under a more typical measure of social responsibility.

“The policy provides a great framework to make investment decisions and it’s a huge step forward from what I've seen of previous socially responsible investment policies,” said Eric Recchia ('13, Economics), an HSU alumnus involved in the effort. “This creates both the framework and the internal motivation for the foundation to take further action and start making a difference."

While students did not see immediate action on everything they had wanted—such as dedicating a percentage of the Foundation’s investments to green funds, or including prisons as industry investments to avoid—Board members and Executive Director Craig Wruck said that all those ideas, and many others, could be explored now that the new investment policy was in place.

“We needed the framework of this broader policy first in order to allow us to do the detailed work,” Wruck said. “It was tempting to add specific actions, to set new ambitious timelines, and decide on certain types of investments at the same time. But we need to do this right. We are committed to leading the way on this, but where there are tradeoffs such as possibly reducing the amount of scholarship dollars available, we have to really spend time thinking it through.”

Ultimately, the policy with the Humboldt Investment Pledge was something that Board members said they were proud to adopt, and they did so unanimously. The Board’s Finance Committee will now utilize the framework to make adjustments and changes to its investment strategy, and to make further recommendations to the full Board.

Humboldt State University has a longstanding commitment to environmental and social responsibility. The Princeton Review regularly lists HSU as a top “green college,” and the university’s Graduation Pledge has been adopted by campuses worldwide. HSU houses one of the nation’s oldest eco-demonstration houses, students pay an extra fee for campus energy projects, and classes throughout the curriculum feature topics related to sustainability. The university also recently banned the use of plastic shopping bags and the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. More information is at http://www.humboldt.edu/green.