The persistent perils of climate change

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Shutdowns in the first months of the Coronavirus pandemic initially reduced greenhouse gases (GHG) by 17%. After nine months of phased reopening and shutdowns, CO2 has resumed its annual increase, erasing all but a scant percentage of earlier reductions.[1]

Global annual temperatures
How global temperatures have varied from the 20th century average.[1]

Over the next four decades, annual averages dipped below 13.9° C. Overall, the annual changes have revealed a predictable and troubling upward pattern, with no pandemic influence in 2020.

AftermathThe data that forms the graph underscores today’s climate change peril:

  • The five warmest years (and tallest red bars on that graph) have occurred in the most recent five years  and
  • Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005.

A timeline of 50 years of advances[3]

1965

Greenhouse effect identified

Scientists on the US President’s Science Advisory Committee documented their concerns about a “greenhouse effect”.

1970

Earth Day initiated

The event originated in the United States 50 years ago.Today, Earth Day is observed globally.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) founded

Three months after the first Earth Day, the EPA pursued an initial mission that focused on air and water pollution. By 2017, that mission had expanded to include global warming.[4]

1988

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed

The United Nations (UN) created  the IPCC to advise governments worldwide about scientific developments related to climate change. IPPC reports have become reference points in international climate negotiations, helping countries collaborate on the issues.

1992

Rio Earth Summit convenes

This event produced an agreement, the Climate Change Convention, that was adopted by 178 countries. It was a first significant step toward later global environmental treaties and carbon-reduction goals.

1997

Kyoto Protocol pledged

The treaty produced at the Kyoto, Japan conference was the first to mandate greenhouse gases (GHG) reduction by developed nations.The Kyoto Protocol was a pledge to reduce emissions by an average of 5% between 2008 and 2012. The US Senate never ratified the treaty.

2005

Global Day of Action observed

The first Global Day of Action occurred soon after UN climate talks in Montreal. The observance has continued every year.

2015

Paris Climate Accord agreed

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) brought forth the historic, future, and essential Paris Climate Agreement. Its goals were:

  • Limit the increase in global average temperature reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

  • Keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels

  • Pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).

  • Increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change

  • Make economic adjustments so low GHG emissions can occur during climate-resilient development.[5]

Setbacks in recent years

Before fully claiming the gains 21st-century regulations would achieve, the US saw many rules delayed or rescinded in recent years:

2017 — 2020

Revisions to the EPA mission

In the EPA’s revised mission, any mitigation of climate change would be significantly reduced. The agency took its climate change website offline, along with other websites providing climate and energy resources.

Rule and policy changes impacting climate change efforts[6]
  • Weakened fuel economy and GHG standards for passenger cars and light trucks.

  • Revoked California’s ability to set stricter tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government.

  • Withdrew the legal justification a rule that limited mercury emissions from coal power plants.

  • Allowed states to set their own carbon emissions limits for coal and gas-fired power plants

  • Formally withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement

  • Canceled a requirement for oil and gas companies to report methane emissions.

  • Eliminated methane emissions standards for oil and gas facilities.

  • Eased restrictions on release of volatile organic compounds.

  • Withdrew a rule limiting toxic emissions by major industrial polluters

  • Eased emissions regulation for new power plants

  • Overturned guidance for reducing emissions during power plant start-ups, shutdowns and malfunctions

  • Weakened a rule for reducing air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas.

  • Weakened state oversight of air pollution in national parks

  • Relaxed air pollution regulations for power plants that burn waste coal.

  • Repealed hydrofluorocarbon leakage rules which had applied to large refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

  • Directed agencies to stop calculating the social cost of carbon

  • Issued guidance that increased the allowable ozone pollution that upwind states can contribute to downwind states

  • Withdrew guidance directing federal agencies to include GHG emissions in environmental reviews.

  • Revoked an executive order that set a 10-year goal reducing GHG emissions by 40 percent.

  • Allowed states and the EPA more time for planning methane emissions reductions from existing landfills.

  • Withdrew a rule to reduce air pollution at sewage treatment plants.

  • Discarded most tightening of pollution standards for offshore oil and gas operations

  • Relaxed requirements for monitoring and repair of oil and gas facility leaks

Commitment to renewal and resiliency

A likely shift in federal policies would substantially renew commitments and resume work toward substantial climate improvements before 2035. These initiatives could avoid the release of  1.8 billion to 2.1 billion metric tons of GHG:[7]

Clean cars

Federal regulations and incentives would favor electric vehicles over the internal combustion engine. One of the first steps in that direction would restore the requirement to achieve 54.5 miles per gallon fuel economy by 2025.

Clean power

Carbon-free electric power is a substantial goal for 2035. Power plant regulations may also address the emission of nitrous oxide and other GHG.

Methane control

The global warming impact of methane is 86 times that of CO2. Better control of methane emissions from petroleum operations could bring rapid and substantial progress, mitigating the climate crisis.

Suppressed super pollutants

A GHG impact equal to that of 625,000 cars could be averted if the EPA were to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and restore regulations that have been rescinded.

Landfills less  gassy

Municipal waste landfills are the nation’s third-largest source of methane pollution.

Reinstated rules could cut greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2035—the equivalent of closing down a dozen coal-fired power plants.

The Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP)

ZCAP is policy framework for creating a carbon-neutral U.S. economy by 2050. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) designed the plan for transitioning away from carbon-based energy, and toward clean, renewable energy. While focusing on decarbonization, the plan includes strategies related to other powerful GHG, including methane.

By 2050, the additional cost of a clean-energy economy is expected to be no more than 0.4 percent of GDP. For that price, about 2.5 million jobs could be created per year while the U.S. becomes carbon neutral.

Even in tomorrow’s zero-carbon environment, resiliency will be needed to reduce the risk of climate-related disasters. ecoPreserve provides collaborative workshops and charrettes for developing risk-reduction policies and tools. Disaster resilience planning services are briefly described here, where you will also find a form to request further information. Thank you!

[1] Trust.org
[2] Climate.gov
[3] GlobalCitizen.org
[4] EPA.gov
[5] CNN.com
[6] NYTimes.com
[7] InsideClimateNews.org[b] EnviroDataGov.org

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AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.