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Pennsylvania's RentTheChicken.com earns more national buzz

A Freeport, Penn., couple has come up with a novel idea for egg-lovers: renting chickens. 

"It changes the mindset of people when they know where food comes from," said Jenn Tompkins, 38. "Pretty soon they'll have tomato plants and be turning the chicken manure into compost."

Since starting their home-based business in the summer of 2013, they have rented chickens, either directly or through affiliates, to about 200 customers in 12 U.S. states as well as Ontario and Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Interest has been spurred by a surge in U.S. egg prices, which rose a record 85 percent last month after an outbreak of bird flu led to the culling of millions of laying hens nationally, according to U.S. Labor Department data.

For about $400, depending on location, the service provides two laying hens for the four to six warm months of the year, plus a chicken coop and a guidebook.

The hens typically produce eight to 14 eggs a week, and at the end of the rental period customers have the option of buying the chickens or returning them.
Original source: Reuters
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PA company Rent the Chicken taps an undercooked market

This Commonwealth company taps the growing poultry leasing market. 

"When I answer the phone and I say, 'Rent The Chicken, this is Jenn,' they giggle and say, 'I would like to rent the chicken.' And then they giggle some more," Tompkins said.

But poultry leasing has turned out to be a serious investment as more people want fresh eggs from humanely raised hens, without the responsibilities of ownership. In two years, Pennsylvania-based Rent The Chicken has expanded to three other states, plus Toronto.

The growth is not an aberration. Coop rentals are booming nationwide as residents in cities, suburbs and the countryside flock to the anti-factory, locally sourced food movement. Some families also rent fowl as an educational experience for their children.

"As a society, we don't really like commitment," Tompkins said while visiting an affiliate in Mount Holly, New Jersey. "We don't want a contract on our cellphones; we don't want long-term commitment with our cable company. With chickens, they can live to seven or 10 years, and people are a bit scared of that."

Rentals remove that risk. Prices depend on the company, location and lease duration but start around $150 month. Most basic packages include two hens, a coop, feed and phone availability to answer questions. Birds can be returned early if things don't work out — and are available for adoption if things go well.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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York County 'Eagle Cam' provides plenty of avian drama for viewers

Viewers across the web are tuning in to watch these York County eagles.

The perilous mission of two bald eagles in York County to raise a family has people the world over glued to their computer and mobile device screens.

Since Jan. 14, the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Eagle Cam has garnered more than 1.6 million hits — and more than 1 million views this month alone.

"Those are crazy numbers," Lori Neely, the agency's social media director, said.

On LancasterOnline.com, the Eagle Cam had been viewed 340,000 times by early last week. With the eagles taking turns incubating two eggs in the large stick nest 75 feet up in an oak tree, the best high drama is yet to come.

Can the eggs avoid a fatal smothering of snow, freezing rain, a falling branch or a marauding hawk? Will they hatch? Will they avoid sibling rivalry and both get enough food to fly out of the nest in late May? It's central Pennsylvania's own avian soap opera and reality show.

Original source: The Morning Call
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Head to the Pennsylvania Farm Show, January 10-17

This annual Harrisburg event has something for everyone -- especially those who love tasty treats.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show, running Saturday to Jan. 17, is a nearly 100-year-old Keystone State tradition. It's the largest indoor agricultural expo in the nation, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.
The PA Preferred Culinary Connection is one of the most popular attractions at the Farm Show. On the live stage, chefs from top restaurants as well as a few celebrity chefs will demonstrate dishes, fitting a theme for the day and using Pennsylvania-produced ingredients. If you're there to watch, you'll get the opportunity to ask the chef questions, and get a copy of the recipe and sample the dish.

Samples are a big part of the draw of the stage's events. Samantha Snyder of the state Department of Agriculture says 10,000 samples are produced for visitors to enjoy over the duration of the event.

Original source: The Morning Call
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VIDEO: MSNBC showcases Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philly's top startups

MSNBC's Your Business highlights the story of Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philadelphia's most innovative -- and greenest -- startups. 

Check out the video here.

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.

Original source: The New York Times
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Chester County's Longwood Gardens gears up for $90 million upgrade

Chester County's Longwood Gardens -- home to one of America's top restrooms -- will benefit from a $90 million renovation.

The Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania will undergo a $90 million upgrade, it was announced on Thursday. The garden, which has been in continuous use since Pierre S. du Pont – Longwood’s founder — turned on the fountains in 1931, will be improved by Beyer Blinder BelleFluidity, and West 8.

The project includes replacing the infrastructure, adding technology for new water choreography and creating new spaces in the five-acre garden. The south wall of the garden’s wall-mounted fountains, which has been closed to the public for the last 20 years, will reopen as part of the renovation.

Groundbreaking is to begin in October and the fountain garden is to reopen in the spring of 2017.

Original source: The New York Times
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Study to look at impact of wind farms in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania General Assembly's nonpartisan research organization will author a report on the impact of wind farms on the state. Can this renewable energy source work for PA?

Legislators instructed the commission to cover certain basic details, including who owns wind turbines in Pennsylvania, how many there are, which agencies oversee them and how they are regulated.

The report also must include touchier subjects, like comparisons between wind and other energy sources — such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear — in terms of government subsidies and environmental impacts on wildlife and the landscape. It must address wind turbines’ effect on the electric grid and wind energy’s progress in relation to the state’s mandated minimum share of alternative energy in electricity sales.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Should we let the Susquehanna River run wild?

A story in the New York Times questions the damming of the mighty Susquehanna River.

The Susquehanna’s 27,000-square-mile watershed was once home to remarkable runs of migratory fishes — and none more so than the American shad, a type of herring. In 1827, one net hauled in was said to have contained an astounding 15 million shad and river herring. A commercial fishing operation on the river stationed a sentry on a hillside to watch for the moving bulge in the waters that signaled another huge school approaching. Shad were such a mainstay of regional diets that traveling fishmongers would blow horns and shout “shad-o” to announce the availability of this delicacy.

Despite efforts to create “ladders” and “elevators” for fish to travel past them, the dams have devastated shad migrations. The official goal remains the passage of two million shad beyond the fourth dam so they can reach suitable spawning grounds — a modest target, given the original run sizes. In 2014, exactly eight shad made it past the fourth dam. That’s an improvement over 2011, when none did...

With all this in mind, policy makers need to take the only responsible step and remove the dams. True, they produce valuable electricity that would be tough to replace. But there are alternatives. By our calculations, a solar park built on the drained floor of the empty Conowingo Reservoir could allow the river to run beside it and replace the 575 megawatts the dam generates. And low-head hydropower arrays — devices that pull energy from the river without impeding it — could add even more.

Original source: The New York Times
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Tesla gets the green light for five stores in PA

Tesla, the high-end manufacturer of electric cars, has gotten the go-ahead to open give stores in the Commonwealth.

If you Keystone Staters are looking for a more elegant, environmentally friendly way to transport cheesesteaks and Wawa hoagies, your time has nearly come. Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett signed a bill yesterday allowing Tesla to open up five "dealerships," which means you'll soon be able to buy yourself a Model S without jumping through all those traditional (and awful) hoops. Once you've visited a location to see Elon Musk's work in action, you order one online and wait. Simple as that. As the Associated Press points out, the law opens the door for any other electric car company to do the same, assuming it doesn't try to sell (or have a vested interest in selling) cars from other manufacturers. ?

Original source: Engadget
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Pushing BRT in bustling urban centers, including Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system has been a huge success -- but there is still a battle over its integration into Downtown.

Space is the biggest battle, says Weinstock, but the problem is largely illusory. In technical terms, any street 40-feet wide can handle BRT. Drivers and businesses often fear the loss of traffic lanes or parking and delivery areas, but traffic patterns and customers tend to find a way of rerouting themselves — as they did when New York repurposed hundreds of miles of city streets during the Bloomberg administration (albeit for bikes and pedestrians).

More often, says Weinstock, the challenge is political will masquerading as street space. "People like to say there's no space," she says. "It's more that there's not the political will to take the space that exists."

Take the case of the East Busway — a dedicated BRT highway in metro Pittsburgh. The busway has done loads of good for the city: it's stimulated hundreds of millions of dollars in development and contributed to the 38 percent of city commuters who reach downtown by bus. ITDP recently gave it a bronze BRT rating.

But the East Busway loses a lot of its impact when it enters mixed traffic downtown. Bus traffic is so bad within the city center, with riders crowding sidewalks, that businesses have urged local officials to eliminate buses from entering the downtown area at all. Weinstock say the problem could be avoided by running true BRT downtown, because the buses would be organized in an attractive and efficient way.

Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
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Robotic milking machines impact the dairy industry in PA

New robotic technology for milking cows has come to the United States, including Pennsylvania.

Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations...are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers, which feed and milk cow after cow without the help of a single farmhand.

Scores of the machines have popped up across New York’s dairy belt and in other states in recent years, changing age-old patterns of daily farm life and reinvigorating the allure of agriculture for a younger, tech-savvy — and manure-averse — generation...

The machines are not inexpensive, costing up to $250,000 (not including barn improvements) for a unit that includes a mechanical arm, teat-cleaning equipment, computerized displays, a milking apparatus and sensors to detect the position of the teats. Pioneered in Europe in the 1990s, they have only recently taken hold in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York.

Original source: The New York Times
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Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon shows up north of Easton

A huge, rare fish showed up on the banks of the Delaware River north of Easton.

A commission biologist confirmed Monday afternoon that the landowner found an Atlantic sturgeon, an endangered species that can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds. It’s by far the largest fish navigating the Delaware River and perhaps the most elusive.

This particular sturgeon was a male measuring about 6 feet 3 inches, according to Forks Township resident Marty Crozier, who discovered the carcass while doing maintenance on his dock Saturday. Crozier said he called the commission and led a field biologist to it Monday.

“I’ve been on this river for 50 years and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen something of that nature,” said the semi-retired Crozier, 60. “It was an experience. Let me put it that way.”

Greg Murphy, a fisheries biologist with the commission, said the commission should have more information on the sturgeon later this week. In addition to taking various measurements, the field biologist was expected to check to see if the fish was tagged as part of a research program aimed at tracking Atlantic sturgeon. If that’s the case, a wealth of information could be gleaned, he said.

Original source: Lehigh Valley Live
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Live-streaming Pittsburgh's bald eagles

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is now live streaming an eagles nest in Pittsburgh. 

Only 30 years ago, Pennsylvania had a mere three bald eagle nests left in the entire state. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests including this one near Pittsburgh. Click here to view a 20-minute documentary about bald eagle restoration in Pennsylvania and learn bald eagle fast facts, identification tips, nest viewing etiquette and more.

This camera provides a way for us to view the nest without stressing the birds. Federal mandates prohibit anyone from approaching within 660 feet of any bald eagle nest from January 15 until young eagles fledge. It is important to note that nature includes all creatures not just the eagles and eggs showcased through this camera. The Game Commission's mission is to manage Pennsylvania's wild birds, mammals and their habitats for current and future generations. Although we hope to watch three young eagles fledge from this nest, we advocate for all native wildlife and therefore will not take measures to prevent another animal (such as the raccoon that made an attempt at the eggs) from conducting its natural behavior. Despite predation and other nest failures, the bald eagle population is increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent each year.

Check out the livestream here.
Via ABC 27

PA's Trickling Springs Creamery provides vital ingredient in NYC's top Irish coffee

The Irish owners of New York's The Dead Rabbit searched far and wide for the perfect cream to top an Irish Coffee. They found what they were looking for in Pennsylvania.

"I think the cream we were using in Ireland had more oil content," said Jack McGarry, who, with his business partner Sean Muldoon, worked at the Merchant Hotel bar in Belfast before moving to New York and opening the Dead Rabbit last year. "But when we came here it wasn’t the same. We knew it for the first year we were open. It’s a problem we had from Day 1."

The solution to the tavern’s cream quandary presented itself in December at a Brooklyn dinner party where Mr. Muldoon met Patrick Watson, the proprietor of Stinky Bklyn, a cheese and charcuterie shop. Mr. Watson was primed for a cream conversation, as he had recently returned from a very dairy family vacation in Ireland.

"As I was having my Guinness, my two 14-year-old nephews are drinking a glass of milk," he recalled of the trip. "And they were freaking out, like we were freaking out about the Guinness. I figured, if a 14-year-old kid is freaking out, I’d better taste this milk. So the whole trip was about dairy."

Mr. Muldoon asked him if he could find a quality cream for the Irish coffee. So Mr. Watson sent his buyer, Katy McNulty, on a milk hunt. "We took eight or nine creams and whittled it down to five," he said.

Their favorite was from Trickling Springs Creamery in south central Pennsylvania. "It had a deeper color," Mr. Watson said. "It had this flavor and texture to it that was naturally sweet."

The bar owners agreed. "This cream is completely different," Mr. McGarry said. "It’s almost eggy."

Original source: The New York Times
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Quail eggs from PA make it onto state dinner menu

The state dinner menu in honor of President François Hollande of France will feature quail eggs from Pennsylvania alongside other domestic delicacies.

In a nod to French cuisine, the menu will meld all-American food with French flair, set against a backdrop of purple irises and the music of the Bronx-raised, Grammy-winning artist Mary J. Blige.

The meal will include quail eggs from Pennsylvania and American Osetra caviar from the president’s adopted home state of Illinois, as well as 12 kinds of potatoes.

Michelle Obama’s fingerprints are especially evident in the salad course, featuring a “winter garden salad” of what the White House called petite mixed radishes, merlot lettuce and baby carrots inspired by the first lady’s kitchen garden.

The main course will be a dry-aged rib eye of beef, brought in from a family farm in Colorado and topped with blue cheese from Vermont.

Original source: The New York Times
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PA Farm Show descends on Harrisburg

Half a million people -- and 6,000 animals -- are coming together to celebrate local food at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. (The event runs through January 11.)

There are 13,000 competitive exhibits, from nuts to Christmas trees, from chickens to cows, along with 300 commercial exhibitors, including many selling food products and crafts, and tradesmen touting their wares.
With the theme "Pennsylvania Farms: Growing for You," the 2014 show highlights agriculture's $67 billion impact on the state's economy.

There may not be as many farmers as once plowed the fields and milked the cows of Pennsylvania, but the number of farms actually grew by 5,000 from 2002 to 2007, according to the state Department of Agriculture. There are now 62,200 farms, and agriculture remains Pennsylvania's number-one industry.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Eagles on top of NFC East, clean energy

BusinessWeek writes about the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles and the team's innovative use of alternative energy and power distribution at its stadium, Lincoln Financial Field.
The stadium’s current power capacity pushes up to the limit for “customer-generators,” or small producers, in Pennsylvania. More solar panels would trigger different regulations, Smolenski said. In particular, the stadium could no longer participate in so-called net-metering, which allows small producers to sell power back into the grid. It would instead belong to a category of power producers that must participate in wholesale electricity markets, according to an NRG Energy spokesperson.
Original source: Business Week
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How Philadelphia sustainability pioneer Judy Wicks mixes food, fun and social activism

Christian Science Monitor profiles pioneering, sustainability-focused entrepreneur and restaurauter Judy Wicks.
In the early days of the White Dog Cafe, located in the downstairs of Wicks’ Victorian brownstone, she couldn’t afford to build a commercial kitchen or hire a chef. She cooked the restaurant’s meals in her own kitchen while she watched her young son and daughter, and customers tromped upstairs to use the family’s bathroom. Eventually the restaurant filled three row houses, a companion retail store filled two more, and her businesses were grossing $5 million annually.
Original source: Christian Science Monitor
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Philly's Greensgrow model for CSA's financial success

GreenSource profiles the highly successful Philadelphia-based nonprofit CSA Greensgrow.
Mary Seton Corboy didn't expect much help when in 1998 she found an acre of toxic brownfield in Kensington, a dodgy neighborhood in Philadelphia, to start her business. Yet she was able to acquire a $47,000 loan, and Greensgrow Farm was launched. Before the farm even opened, Corboy secured a handful of chef friends at Philadelphia restaurants as clients to buy her hydroponically grown lettuce and tomatoes. First year, the farm grossed $5,000; the next year, $50,000. Today, Greensgrow—a nonprofit organization—brings in receipts totaling over $1 million annually. 
Original source: Greensource
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Philadelphia No. 7, Pittsburgh No. 24 on 25 Most Pedestrian Oriented and Walkable Cities list.

List 25 puts Philadelphia at No. 7 and Pittsburgh at No. 24 on its Most Pedestrian Oriented and Walkable Citiest list.
With five of its neighborhoods ranking really high on walkability and biking scores, Philadelphia ranks among the top five most walkable large cities in the US. They have really good walk paths and with the number of restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the city, one can walk pass four shops in five minutes on average.
Original source: List 25
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Penn State introduces online masters program in renrewable energy

Clean Energy Authority reports on Penn State's announcement that it has introduced an online masters program in renewable energy.

Penn State opted to offer the masters degree as part of its growing World Campus, a collection of 90 online degrees provided through the school and aimed at attracting working students and students who live far from the physical campus in Pennsylvania. The online catalogue of courses gives students flexibility.

Original source: Clean Energy Authority
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Dickinson ranked No. 2 coolest school for sustainability

Dickinson College in Carlisle is no stranger to lists recognizing green initiatives among the nation's campuses, and the Sierra Club's most recent magazine ranked the school No. 2 on its top ten cool schools for sustainability.

Since 2008, Dickinson has bought enough wind power to offset all of its electrical needs. And since 2006, students have been collecting grease from local restaurants and turning it into biodiesel for the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, campus's vehicle fleet. If all goes according to plan, the school will achieve zero net emissions by 2020. Meanwhile, cafeterias serve student-grown produce, construction crews build to LEED Gold standards, and paper use has dropped by 60% over the past four years. Above, students install solar panels to power an irrigation pump at Dickinson's certified-organic College Farm.

Original source: Sierra Magazine
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Schuylkill River Trail among country's best for urban bike paths

USA Today's list of 12 best urban bike paths includes Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail.
Called the best bike path in Philly by Philadelphia Weekly, the 23-mile Schuylkill River Trail is a boon to commuters entering the city from Montgomery County, residents looking for a scenic shortcut through parts of downtown, and recreational cyclists making a weekend escape. The path winds unbroken, except for two short segments, all the way to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Original source: USA Today
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Pittsburgh's charming inclines give provide character as well as function

Metropolis writes about the unique features that define our cities' character, including the many inclines in and around Pittsburgh.
Across from downtown Pittsburgh, Mount Washington rises sharply to a plateau. It’s a formidable redoubt, this escarpment separating the riverbank below, once site of the waterfront factories and warehouses that helped make Pittsburgh prosperous, and the casual boulevard above, with its thriving bars and restaurants offering spectacular views back to the city.
Look carefully and notice two sets of cable cars negotiating this dramatic hillside. They service residents of the suburbs above going about their daily lives and are today among Pittsburgh’s most celebrated attractions. The Inclines miraculously survived from the industrial era, when the city could boast of more than a dozen such machines. Known as the Monongahela and the Duquesne, and dating from the 1870s, each consists of a double run of track and a contiguous cable, with one car ascending as its twin descends.
Original source: Metropolis
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Cleantech investment in Pennsylvania surpasses $45M for 2013

Thanks to a $35 million investment from Bill Gates and others in Pittsburgh's Aquion Energy, Pennsylvania cleantech companies raised more than $44 million in the second quarter, according to a press release posted to CNBC.
According to data in i3, Pennsylvania’s top deals and their investors were:
Aquion Energy, an Energy Storage company, raised $35,000,000 from Bill Gates (private investor), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Bright Capital, Gentry Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, and Advanced Technology Ventures

Zonoff, an Energy Efficiency company, raised $3,784,319 from Grotech Ventures, and Valhalla Partners

RedZone Robotics, a Water & Wastewater company, raised $3,249,345 from ABS Capital Partners, and FourWinds Capital Management

Liquid X Printed Materials, an Advanced Materials company, raised $1,370,000

Momentum Dynamics, a Transportation company, raised $1,005,000
Original source: CNBC (press release)
Read the full story here.

Taking a look under Pittsburgh's green and clean hood

While maintaining its small-city charm, Pittsburgh has achieved large-city greatness via many sustainability initiatives, reports Organic Gardening.
The civic move to sustainability is best seen at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which is centered on a Victorian glasshouse built in 1893 on 21⁄2 acres. The welcome center, completed in 2005, includes a café that sources organic and local whenever possible. The production greenhouses became the first greenhouses to achieve LEED certification and were certified at the platinum level in 2012. (LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification process for green construction.)
Original source: Organic Gardening
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Pocono Raceway leads pack in greening NASCAR

YahooSports carries a NASCAR.com report on Pocono Raceway's recent Green campaign, which is setting the bar high for other NASCAR tracks.
While the entire NASCAR industry has spent the past month showcasing and stepping up its commitment to the sport's Race to Green initiative, Pocono Raceway has been a factor for years -- an example of what's possible not only for other NASCAR facilities, but also for any sports franchise or facility.
From a one-of-a-kind, on-site solar farm to a goal of 100 percent sustainability to an E-waste recycling event, compost program and even a flock of sheep herding on property, Pocono Raceway has been first among sports facilities to NASCAR Green's checkered flag. 
Original source: NASCAR.com
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Taking a deep dive into Pittsburgh's sewers

The Atlantic Citie writes about a University of Pittsburgh Ph.D. candidate who co-authored research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology that aims to determine how much sewers leak.
They studied water samples from Pittsburgh’s Nine Mile Run, one of two urban streams that still exist within the city limits (before we used such streams to dump our refuse, then piped them up and built over them, most cities were covered in small streams: "If you look at any maps with all the buildings and political boundaries taken off," Divers says, "you can see where the streams should be").
The researchers were particularly looking for a kind of nitrogen that can come from sewer systems, industrial sources, lawn fertilizer or any fossil fuels burned into the atmosphere eventually creating deposits on the landscape (fascinating side note: scientists can estimate runoff from lawn fertilizers by looking at the housing stock and financial stability of neighborhoods).
Original source: Atlantic Cities
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Ivy League picks Pittsburgh as Rust Belt's valedictorian

Politic, the Yale Undergraduate Journal of Politics, tackles Rust Belt revivalism and picks Pittsburgh as its favorite son.
The city’s revival has been part organic and part good long-term planning. With regards to the latter, Clifford Levine, an attorney who specializes in governmental law and chairs the Public Affairs Group of Cohen & Grigsby, gives credit to public-private partnerships. “There is a long tradition of political and corporate collaboration, going back to 1945 when David Lawrence was elected mayor,” he told The Politic. At the time, Pittsburgh was considered one of the most polluted cities in America. A Catholic Democrat, Lawrence forged the now famous bipartisan alliance with Richard Mellon, a member of the WASP establishment and staunch Republican chairman of one of the largest banks in the country. Despite their political and religious differences, the partnership drove a postwar urban renewal.
Original source: Politic
Read the full story here.

Philadelphia Flower Show's attendance continues to soar

The Washington Post's Adrian Higgins visited the Flower Show, PHS's big annual event, and came away impressed. (Check out sister publication Flying Kite's pics from the shindig here.)

Historically, big-city flower shows are like big cities themselves: They either change or decline but cannot stay the same. By all appearances, the Philadelphia show is in the midst of healthy change: Attendance climbed from 235,000 in 2010 to 270,000 last year and is on track to exceed 300,000 this year. The number of competitive entries in a feature called the horticultural court — the horticourt — is about 11,000, and the entrants’ enthusiasm has been rewarded with a new $1 million setting for the competitions that includes a fabric roof and new show benches and display backdrops.

Original source: The Washington Post
Read the full story here.

Zagat: Philly Fair Trade top local coffee roaster in Philadelphia

Zagat ranks the top 11 local coffee roasters in Philadelphia.
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
Joe Cesa has been small-batch roasting in Philadelphia since before you were even drinking coffee. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it was way back in 2002 that he launched fair trade cafe Joe’s Coffee Bar on the corner of 11th and Walnut. A few years ago, he gave up the cafe location and went into roasting full time.
His Feltonville facility produces beans served at over a dozen cafes and restaurants, and are available to purchase in another dozen retail locations, including a prime spot at the Headhouse farmers’ market. Order your own online - you can choose from more than 20 different regions and roasts.
Original source: Zagat
Read the full story here.

Small batch bikes: A look at North Philadelphia custom bicycle maker's incredible world

North Philadelphia custom bicycle maker Bilenky Cycles Works is profiled in this video curated by A Continuous Lean.
Interestingly, the past few years have seen a resurgence in companies like Bilenky Cycles Works based on the same type of thinking from consumers: quality. There seems to be a critical mass of a certain type of consumer that is interested in quality and is willing to pay for it. Though, I have to admit, that the recent resurgence of small batch manufacturing has been mostly based on the same few categories of products like bicycles, small leather goods, jeans etc. I’m eager to see manufacturers take a leap and expand the circle to other types of products.
Original source: A Continuous Lean
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Pittsburgh's time of transition, magnified

The New York Times writes about the economic transformation in Pittsburgh and how another mega-corporation reduced its operations there while smaller technology and medical companies have risen up.
But in the course of reducing it reliance on industry and big corporations, Pittsburgh has become one of the more envied stories of urban revival in the Rust Belt. The proportion of Pittsburgh’s work force in manufacturing is now actually lower than the national average, according to Christopher Briem, a University of Pittsburgh professor. But so is its unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent.
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Penn State research validates Johns Hopkins study that measures Antarctic ozone hole's impact on oce

The Huffington Post reports on separate studies by climate scientists at Johns Hopkins University and Penn State University that indicate the Antarctic ozone hole is diminishing the Southern Ocean's ability to counter manmade climate change.
"The future of the circulation in the Southern Ocean, and the impact that it has on global climate change now seems to be very strongly tied to what happens to the westerly winds in the future," Meredith said.
The second study, by Pennsylvania State University researchers, is a small step toward answering that question, said Julie Arblaster, a climate scientist at Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, who called the analysis' use of wind speed and direction observations "sophisticated."
Original source: The Huffinton Post
Read the full story here.

Redevelopment on Pittsburgh's downtown waterfrot earns another win

Former Keystone Edge Innovation & Jobs News Editor Christine O'Toole writes in The New York Times about massive investment in Pittstburgh's downtown waterfront and the tremendous impact it has had on the city.
This month, the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority approved preliminary plans for an $80 million to $90 million investment in new roads, streets and utilities on a 178-acre former industrial site that is the biggest remaining waterfront property in the city. The developers will use a tool called tax increment financing, which earmarks a portion of a site’s future property taxes to build its infrastructure. Such financing, approved by both the authority and the City Council on a case-by-case basis, has galvanized redevelopment on Pittsburgh’s complex industrial sites.
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Lehigh Valley is among nation's regions most likely to adopt green transportation

ZDNet reports on a Pike Research study that rank Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton high on the list of metropolitan areas most likely to adopt alternative or green transportation like plug-in hybrids or electric cars.
Based on that criteria, Pike figures that sales of plug-in electric vehicles in the largest 102 cities in the United States will total 1.8 million from 2012 to 2020. 
Original source: ZDnet
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Penn State climatologist backs Pennsylvania bill to raise alternative energy standard

The New York Times writes about Penn State climatology professor and controversial climate change researcher Michael Mann and his support for two bills being introduced by Pennsylvania State Rep. Greg Vitale's that would raise the commonwealth's alternative energy standards.
Requiring greater use of renewable fuels would help bring Pennsylvania closer into line with neighbors like New Jersey and Delaware, which have higher requirements for use of renewables, said Bruce Burcat, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition.
Original source: The New York Times
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Inside the LEED Gold restoration at Pittsburgh's Market Square

The Sustainable Cities Collective features an interview with Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Art Ziegler and Pittsburgh-based evolveEA principal Marc Mondor that centers on restoration and LEED Gold status of three buildings at Pittsburgh's Market Square.
Art: A big mall would not have worked—he tried this in the past, with the Mellon Bank building and the Lazarus building, but the fact is that people who shop downtown like historic buildings, they like the scale and the variety of architecture, and the density of a historic district. It’s worked over and over again, and we see this everywhere—abroad the shopping areas are in historic neighborhoods and also in New York. The Market at Fifth project has set the pace for retail to flourish in the area, in Market Square and along Fifth Avenue and Wood Street.
Original source: Sustainable Cities Collective
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Bradford brings it: Lodge at Glendorn among America's Most Romantic Hotels

Travel + Leisure's list of America's Most Romantic Hotels includes the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, a 1929 structure with 50 fireplaces and resting on 1200 acres.
ooms in the Big House and a dozen cabins have original details such as built-in tie racks and the recipe for a martini painted on a kitchenette cabinet. Road signs in this area warn not of deer crossing but of bears. They’re hibernating for the winter, and you may choose to do so, too, by one of Glendorn’s 50 fireplaces; the staff will leave the makings for s’mores. But if you’re up for Dorn-ish sports, activities director Shane Appleby will provide heated goggles and lead a caravan of snowmobiles through the woods, or cut a hole in the ice on Skipper Lake and help you catch a bass, which can be cooked for your breakfast. Dinner features the kind of “fancy” cooking that the Dorns must have thought elegant, sometimes successful (velvety lobster bisque), sometimes overwrought. If your visit includes a Tuesday, you can venture into town for the weekly square dance. The locals bring covered dishes, and your $3 admission supports the Bradford Landmark Society.
Original source: Travel + Leisure 
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Study: Pittsburgh among few to see economic recovery

Reuters reports that Pittsburgh is joined by Knoxville and Dallas as major U.S. cities cited by a Brookings Institution study that have experienced economic recovery.
The Pittsburgh skyline partly tells the city's economic story, said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. A major bank just finished building one skyscraper and started construction on another.
"In my mind, it's already recovered. We employ more people in Pittsburgh than we ever have," he said.
Original source: Reuters
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Young Visionaries: United By Blue's organic apparel and accessories

Entrepeneur's Young Visionaries series pays a visit to Philadelphia's United By Blue, an organic apparel and accessories company with a heavy social mission.
His vision provides for the removal of one pound of garbage from the nation's waterways through the sale of each item on the site. Each cleanup involves thousands of volunteers and has resulted in the removal of many thousands of pounds of garbage.
Original source: Entrepreneur
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Considering fracking and nuclear side by side in Pennsylvania

Russia Today (RT) takes a look at the growth of fracking in the U.S. and Pennsylvania and potential impacts on its nuclear facilities, in particular the planned gas well near the Shippingport, Beaver County nuclear plant.
Environmental authorities approved plans to construct a shale gas well near the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport earlier this month. State rules require any such well to be more than 500 feet from the edge of plant territory, though data indicates that there are no fracking wells that close to nuclear power stations anywhere in the US.
Original source: Russia Today
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Pocono Biking: On the family bike trail in Jim Thorpe

A New York Times writer brings his family to Lehigh Gorge State Park in Jim Thorpe, and with the help of Pocono Biking, enjoys local landmnarks like Picture Rock and Mud Run Creek.
Within minutes of being dropped off with perhaps 20 other passengers, we were on the trail, the Lehigh River far below on our left, and a steep, wooded hill dotted with waterfalls to our right. The trail is wide and well maintained, a gravel surface under a canopy of trees, with mile markers to chart progress, picnic tables and signs noting points of interest and giving a bit of history.
Original source:  The New York Times
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Find foliage in Pittsburgh without leaving the city

Pittsburgh is among several cities highlighted by NBC News for its fine foliage that can be enjoyed within city limits.
Riverview Park, built in the early 1890s on one of the highest points in the county, “offers some fantastic views of the changing foliage, not only in the park, but beyond,” Sexauer said. When in the heavily wooded Frick Park, the city’s largest, “you don’t realize you are in an urban setting,” he added. A quick drive to Schenley Park provides panoramic vistas of the downtown and easy access to walking trails. In October, Gateway Clipper Fleet offers a number of journeys to “experience the beautiful colors of fall from the decks of our riverboat,” with food and entertainment, like half-day Fall Foliage Cruises ($50 for adults, $16 for children) and several nine hour cruises along the Ohio River. Venture Outdoors, a nonprofit, will sponsor its Fall Foliage Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage on Oct. 7—an easy 22-mile round-trip to "celebrate the peak of fall foliage as we bike the oldest section of the Great Allegheny Passage." Riders will travel to Confluence, “a charming valley village,” where they can eat packed lunches or choose from a list of bike-friendly restaurants ($15 for non-members).
Original source: NBC News
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Katherine Gajewski on greening gritty Philly

Grist interviews Philadelphia's sustainability director, Katherine Gajewski, who has injected youthful energy into the city's green directives.
We have experienced tremendous support, considering our [Greenworks Philadelphia] plan came out right before the recession hit. I expected more departments to say “We’re focused on our core functions and can’t take anything new on. This does not fit with our priorities.” I haven’t had anyone say, “No. I’m unwilling to do that.” Our mayor has been a leader on this and he’s made it clear that it’s important. But I think it’s also just been an exciting and logical extension of the work a lot of folks are already doing.
Original source: Grist
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Bike heaven: Pittsburgh as the new Portland

A writer for the Santa Barbara Independent spends a week in Pittsburgh and is amazed by the bicycling scene.
Portland and Pittsburgh are very different cities, but both are building exciting bicycle cultures. Pittsburgh is no Portland when it comes to cycling infrastructure, cutting-edge advocacy campaigns, or multitudes of bike-related events, but it has been called “one of the burgeoning bike scenes in North America” by Good Magazine.
Original source: Santa Barbara Independent
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SEPTA's regenerative braking technology saving estimated 10 percent

Early estimates place SEPTA's power savings at about 10 percent thanks to the regenerative braking system it activated in June, reports Wired.
Currently, trains running along the Market-Frankford line use the same kind of braking technology found in most hybrid cars, converting kinetic energy from braking into electricity and sending it along the third rail to a massive array of more than 4,000 30 Ah nickel cobalt aluminum batteries. Otherwise, that energy would’ve been wasted as heat. By recapturing and reusing that energy, SEPTA estimates it could save up to $190,000 a year in energy costs, not to mention decreasing wear and tear on its trains’ braking systems.
Original source: Wired
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They buy houses: Opportunity in Pittsburgh suburbs?

The Atlantic Cities checks into Penn Hills outside of Pittsburgh, where suburban home foreclosures and economic distress have created opportunities in the face of decline.
Helping suburban communities deal with blight and vacant properties is a mission of the University of Pittsburgh’s CONNECT program. Project coordinator Jay Rickabaugh and Associate Director Katherine Risko say the program is designed to help struggling municipalities such as Penn Hills take advantage of tools they don’t necessarily know they have: Code enforcement laws, for example, along with eager students at local universities who can help identify slum landlords and map out properties that need to be torn down urgently.
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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Cyclists roll into Pittsburgh to promote sustainable food systems

A 10-week, national bicycle tour by a Jewish group to promote sustianble food systems hits Pittsburgh this week.
During their time in Pittsburgh, the riders will volunteer with Bike Pittsburgh’s “Bike Fest,” donate freshly made soup with Rabbi Michael Werbow, tour the Biblical Botanical Gardens at Rodef Shalom Congregation with Rabbi Sharyn Henry, and spend time at the Jewish Community Center.
The community is invited to join the riders for these events Thursday, Aug. 9, as well as the barbecue dinner, sponsored by Grow and Behold Foods. Visit hazon.org/Pittsburgh for details.
Original source: The Jewish Chronicle
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Delaware Water Gap as the ultimate camping destination

The New York Times' "Campster" dives into the camping scene at Delaware Water Gap in Monroe County.
The Delaware Water Gap is a quiet, serene stretch of river surrounded by green forest. As you float down the river, bald eagles are hard to miss, politely living up to their stereotype by soaring majestically above the trees. You’ll travel around small islands, under old bridges and through a short stretch of whitewater at Walpack Bend. In shallow water, paddling is easy, and there are lots of opportunities to take a swim or catch some shade near the shore. Did I mention the bald eagles?
Original source: The New York Times
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A look inside Google's adaptive reuse of former Nabisco factory in Pittsburgh

Google's 45,000 square foot office in Pittsburgh is a shining example of adaptive reuse, reports Inhabitat.

Give the employees a 4-day live-in session to amass likes, dislikes and determine their “ideal” workspace, and mixed them all together... That’s how Google does it, at least. Like all Google offices, the adaptive-reuse project, which is seeking LEED Gold certification, features several playful touches, and it also does a good job referencing Pittsburgh's industrial history.

Original source: Inhabitat
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Amtrak's $151B plan would create 220mph, 37-minute trips from Philly to NY

Reuters reports on Amtrak's announcement of a $151 billion improvement plan that would slash travel time in the Northeast corridor, with trains traveling up to 220 mph.
Current travel times from New York to Philadelphia on Amtrak's sleek Acela trains are 1 hour, 15 minutes. Travel between New York and Washington currently takes 2 hours, 45 minutes and New York to Boston takes 3 hours, 41 minutes, according to Amtrak's website.
"The NEC (Northeast Corridor) region is America's economic powerhouse and is facing a severe crisis with an aging and congested multi-model transportation network that routinely operates at or near capacity in key segments," Amtrak's President Joe Boardman said in a statement.
Original source: Reuters
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Pittsburgh among best cities for millennials

Huffington Post writes about Moving.com's best cities for millenials list, and Pittsburgh comes in at No. 7.
Approximately 53 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 are either jobless or primarily working jobs that don’t require a college degree, according to an April study by Drexel University.
Pittsburgh has one of the largest public transportation systems in the U.S., serving over 200,000 riders per day as of 2011. Millennial residents can enjoy professional sports teams -- Pittsburgh is the hometown of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins -- as well as pursue higher education from one of dozens of schools in the area, including U. Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne and others. Pittsburgh also has been regarded as one of the best arts and culture destinations in the U.S. for a decade. According to Moving.com, millennials might enjoy a night out at South Side or Station Square districts for the best bars and clubs. 
Original source: Huffington Post
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Philly takes Toronto

Keystone Edge sister publication Yonge Street previews the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange's upcoming visit to Toronto with an interview with Steve Wray of the Greater Philadelphia Economy League.
One the focuses of the Economy League is what it means to be a world-class region and what it would take for Greater Philadelphia to attain status as a world-class region. As we select places to go, we look for regions that are world class or striving to be world class. Clearly Toronto has attained the status in the global community as a city and region on the rise, as a global financial capital and as an international city. We thought there were a lot of lessons we could bring back to Philadelphia from Toronto that would serve us well.
Original source: Yonge Street
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Pittsburgh's Mellon Square and Point State Park cited as triumphs of preservation and design

Yes, the High Line in New York is deeply impressive and everyone wants something similar in their own cities, but this Huffington Post writer points out that it's the holistic and unique nature of the project that made it work, like Pittsburgh's own Point State Park and Mellon Square Park.

Over in Pittsburgh, the 36-acre Point State Park, was for much of the 20th century dotted with warehouses and railroad tracks, and home to the city's two oldest structures: Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne. Following 20 years of design development overseen by landscape architect Ralph Griswold, this iconic waterfront park opened to the public in 1974, with Griswold dubbing his design "ultra modern."

Over the past decade, additional work has been done: a $32 million project in 2008 reopened the walkway over the Allegheny River and filled in the Fort Pitt Music Bastion to provide more lawn space.
Original source: Huffington Post
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Penn State-led Energy Innovation Hub has many actors in efficiency play

CNN pays a visit to Philadelphia's Energy Innovation Hub.

The research consortium, led by Pennsylvania State University and 21 other partners, is a sort of multidisciplinary think tank whose overall mission is to reduce energy consumption in regional commercial buildings by 20 percent at the end of the next eight years.
Original source: CNN
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PA's perfect stargazing spot: Cherry Springs Sate Park in Potter County

The Washington Post basks in the darkness of light pollution-less Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County.
At night, Cherry Springs is one of the darkest spots on the East Coast. Free of the light pollution that affects so much of the Eastern Seaboard, the park is an ideal site for stargazing.
Cherry Springs is popular with hard-core amateur astronomers, but it’s also open to starry-eyed know-nothings like Rob and me, who, when we look up at night, can identify airplanes and the moon. 

Original source: Washington Post
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Why did Gamesa scrap planned Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm?

International wind power giant Gamesa announced it is doing away with plans for the 60 megawatt Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm project in Somerset County, reports Revmodo.
As America becomes desperate for alternatives to rapidly dwindling oil and coal, it’s likely that disputes like this will become more common. They raise an interesting question about where our priorities should lie when working to develop the clean energy technology sector. Is the ability to power 18,000 Pennsylvania homes with wind energy a valid reason to risk the potential disruption of an endangered species’ habitat? Animals have adapted to environmental changes for millions of years, and bats have incredible natural sonar that allows them to detect tiny bugs in total darkness. Would something as massive as a wind turbine really give them that much trouble?
Original source: Revmodo
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Remember when Pittsburgh looked like this?

The Atlantic Cities runs a series of 1940s photos from the University of Pittsburgh's Smoke Central Lantern Slide Collection that show a smoky, sooty city devoted to coal.
In 1941, influenced by a similar policy introduced in St. Louis four years earlier, the city of Pittsburgh passed a law designed to reduce coal production in pursuit of cleaner air. Not willing to cripple such an important part of the local economy, it promised to clean the air by using treated local coal. The new policy ended up not being fully enacted until after World War II. 
Original source: The Atlantic Cities
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Erie urban magnet school among three to win national sustainability award

Earth Techling reports on Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie and the National Environmental Education Foundation's Sustainable Energy Award it recently won.
At Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, the process got underway after an environmental science class decided to carry out an energy audit for the whole school. The students consulted Energy Star, a program run jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, which gives practical advice on how to lower your energy use.
Original source: Earth Techling
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A closer look at the world's highest-scoring LEED building, with a Pittsburgh twist

Bayer MaterialScience, with regional HQ in Pittsburgh, has built the world's highest-scoring LEED building in India, reports Earth Techling.
he building achieved this distinction with high green marks in the areas of water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and innovation and design. It was built according to the principles of Bayer’s EcoCommercial Building Program, using green technologies and products from its global network of green building product developers, including a solar photovoltaic system that kicks out more energy than the building consumes on an annual basis, carbon free.
Original source: Earth Techling
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Would you sit in something made of recycled plastic, glass and sawdust?

Fast Company Co.Design writes about Hanover-based Emeco, the heralded innovative chair-maker that recently rolled out its Broom chair made from recycled plastic, glass and sawdust.
The Broom got its start back in 2001, when Starck conceived of a bucket chair with a curved aluminum seat and backrest embedded in a plastic frame, intended to add a more affordable version to Emeco’s existing catalog. But the costs of tooling and creating two molds--one for the plastic component, the other for the aluminum--led the company to mothball the idea. After partnering with Coke on the 111 chair, a revamp of the classic Navy made from recycled plastic bottles, the company set about finding another way to push the bounds of sustainability through the use of innovative materials. So Emeco’s director of product management, Magnus Breitling, began a quest for an eco-friendly substance made purely from waste, rather than from a food product such as corn. According to Metropolis, “It occurred to Breitling that using sawdust as a stiffening agent in combination with discarded offcuts of a suitable all-synthetic polymer would result in an almost entirely recycled product.”
Original source: Fast Company Co.Design
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Evive launches in Pittsburgh, raises $2M in seed funding to break water bottle habit

TechCrunch posts on Evive, which has launched with a splash thanks to its stainless steel reusable bottles meant for re-filling with water.
So, what’s cool about Evive is that they offer users double-walled stainless steel reusable bottles, which means no more plastic, and lower carbon footprints. In turn, their kiosks filter municipal water, offer unlimited re-filling and cleaning of those steel bottles by way of a patent-pending process that only takes a minute. And everything other than the bottles are free.
Original source: TechCrunch
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Penn State-Berks scores LEED-Gold status for Gaige Technology and Business Innovation building

World Interior Design Network posts about Penn State's LEED-Gold certification for the new Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building at Penn State-Berks.
The building has low flow water fixtures and two button flush system in the bathrooms, which bring about saving in water. The facility has motion sensor enabled water bottle filling stations. It has two 35,000-gallon underground tanks which bring about a saving of 92% in potable water consumption.
Original source: World Interior Design Network
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Pittsburgh among cities challenged by commitment to emissions reductions

The New York Times blogs about a recent case study focused on Allegheny County that highlights how hard it is for Pittsburgh and more than 1,000 other American cities to meet ambitious targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
At first glance, one would think that the county is on track. According to a study published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, total carbon dioxide emissions in Allegheny County declined by an average of 1 percent a year from 1970 to 2000. And the Pittsburgh region’s current carbon reduction goals are, conveniently, 1 percent per year through 2023.
The difficulty here is that over the same three decades, Allegheny County lost one-quarter of its population and the bulk of its energy-intensive steel industry; that’s what accounts for the overall decline in fossil fuel emissions. Per-capita emissions were actually unchanged.
Original source: The New York Times
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Lehigh Valley company collects used cooking oil from around the country, sells it around the globe

The Morning Call profiles Greenworks, a Lehigh Valley company that makes biofuel out of used cooking oil from 15,000 restaurants and institutions nationwide.

Greenworks, through its subsidiary the Association of Restaurant Owners for a Sustainable Earth, pays restaurants about 50 cents per gallon for their used cooking oil, refines it and sells the biofuel for a price that tracks diesel.

"It's something people don't think much about, but you have a lot of cooking oil coming through restaurants," said Robert Hiller, marketing and communications manager for Greenworks. "I've been in the food service business for 20 years now. I never knew this existed and it's really competitive out there."

It's not a small operation run out of someone's garage. Greenworks collects 40 million gallons of used cooking oil a year. It employs about 150 people, including 100 in the Lehigh Valley. It has processing plants in Allentown, Wind Gap, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The company also has an ownership stake in a plant in San Francisco.

Original source: The Morning Call
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Third-party environmental group recognizes PA for forest protection

Essential Public Radio reports that Pennsylvania was honored for the 14th year in a row for conserving the state's forests.

SmartWood, a third-party forest-management certification branch of the Rainforest Alliance, honored Pennsylvania for its sound management of 2.2 million acres of forests, including responsible management of drilling activities and protection of sensitive species.

Dan Devlin, director of the forestry bureau for the state Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, said the state is being recognized for balancing conservation and utilization.

“One of the things we do is try and ensure that we’re conserving the resources as best we can while still providing some values and uses to the citizens of the commonwealth,” he said.

Original source: Essential Public Radio
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PA is one of country's top states for green jobs

The Atlantic reports on a government study showing that Pennsylvania is the state with the fourth-highest number of green jobs, and about 3 percent of all jobs in the commonwealth can be considered green.

The report defines green jobs across five categories: production of energy from renewable sources; energy efficiency; pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse; natural resources conservation; and environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.

The majority of these green jobs (2.3 million) come from the private sector. The public sector employed about 860,000 people. The largest sector of employment was manufacturing, with more than 450,000 green jobs.

This squares with a July 2011 Brooking Institution study of clean economy jobs, which identified 2.7 million clean economy jobs across the United States. The report found that median wages for clean economy jobs are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages, and that a disproportionate share of clean economy jobs are staffed by workers with relatively little formal education. This has created a sizable group of "moderately well-paying green collar occupations," according to the report.

Original source: The Atlantic
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New device from Penn State would produce clean water and electricity

BBC News explains how scientists at Penn State have built a prototype device that would make electricity from wastewater while treating the water to make it usable.

(Lead researcher Bruce Logan) says the process could potentially be used anywhere, but could provide both clean water and power to communities in developing countries.

"The main application right now is in waste water treatment where you could effectively treat the water, but also gain some extra energy from waste heat.

"Instead of having a net drain, we have a net gain."

Original source: BBC News
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Fewer references to nature and animals in children's books, says study powered in part by Bloomsburg

A study of conducted by researchers at several universities, including Bloomsburg, shows the presence of nature has declined in children's picture books over time, USA Today reports.

Co-author Chris Podeschi of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania says: "This is just one sample of children's books, but it suggests there may be a move away from the natural world as the population is increasingly isolated from these settings. This could translate into less concern about the environment."

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, says this study and others suggest "a physical disassociation with the natural world. … Nature experience isn't a panacea, but it does help children and the rest of us on many levels of health and cognition. I believe that as parents learn more about the disconnect, they'll want to seek more of that experience for their children, including the joy and wonder that nature has traditionally contributed to children's literature."

Original source: USA Today
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Last details being finalized at upcoming biomass fuel plant near Erie

The Erie Times-News reports on the process of preparing a northwest PA plant that will convert switchgrass into biomass pellets.

For Calvin Ernst, construction of this so-called densification plant follows years of planting the resilient native grass, which can grow to 6 feet tall or more.

In recent years, his interest has grown into something bigger, a conviction that this might be the next big thing, a profitable crop that could serve as a source of energy, be grown in poor soil, and provide erosion control in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Chesapeake Bay region.

A number of tests validate the benefits of switch grass, which produces pellets that generate about 5 percent less energy than ones made from wood, but can produce twice as much energy per acre per year.

Original source: Erie Times-News
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Pennsylvania helping pay for wind farms being built across the commonwealth

EarthTechling spotlights several wind power projects funded partially with state money, including planned wind farms near Altoona, Johnstown and Somerset.

The Twin Ridges Wind Farm in Somerset County, being developed by New York City-based EverPower Wind Holdings, received a $12.7 million Renewable Energy Program construction grant. The grant is the largest ever awarded by the program, which has also provided grants to the 30-MW Patton Wind Farm in Cambria County and enXco’s 38-MW Chestnut Flats Wind Farm in Blair County. Once completed, Twin Ridges will generate 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s wind power.

The $238.8 million project is expected to generate an additional $226.2 million in private economic investment, and is expected to be operational by the end of 2012.

In addition to Twin Ridges, funded projects include a ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) array in Chester County, a solar thermal system for the Franklin County YMCA, two residential geothermal systems, and a high-performance building project in Bucks County, among others.

Original source: EarthTechling
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Criteria for socially responsible businesses spreading from PA nonprofit to state legislatures

The Star-Ledger explains that a growing number of businesses are volunteering for social responsibility standards from organizations like suburban Philadelphia-based B Lab, and some states are setting their own criteria.

Four companies in New Jersey currently participate in the B Lab program and voluntarily undergo assessments to preserve a happy and healthy marriage between their profits and their mission. The nonprofit claims its member companies earn $2.9 billion in revenue, represent 60 industries and save $2 million annually by making socially and environmentally responsible business decisions.

While no multinational conglomerates have gotten on the benefit corporation bandwagon yet, Seventh Generation, a Vermont-based natural household products manufacturer, is one of B Lab’s largest members and a founding company. The firm sells its cleaners and personal care items in major retailers like Stop & Shop, Target, Walmart and ShopRite.

New Jersey is one of seven states to grant benefit corporations some legal recognition and create its own methods for gauging how effectively they help the community.

Original source: The Star-Ledger
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What happens to the Farm Show butter sculpture? It turns into energy

StateImpact explains how the Pennsylvania Farm Show's famous butter sculpture faced a future of being dumped into a manure pit, converted to methane gas and generating electricity for a farm north of Harrisburg.

Turns out, butter becomes gas through the work of a methane digester. Glenn Cauffman, the manager of Penn State University's Farm Operations, said the butter will be dumped into a big heated tank where microorganisms will feast on it. "Those microorganisms can break those fat molecules apart into the less complex molecules," he explained. "Then further take that to produce a gas called methane, which burns readily in an engine, and can be converted into electricity."

As long as the farmer keeps the digester hot, the bacteria will do all the work. "Those organisms at a hundred degrees, are working hard," said Cauffman. "They’re trying to live. They’re trying to reproduce. They’re trying to eat food, be happy, make more bacterial."

Original source: StateImpact
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Montgomery County company makes robots that could make biodiesel on the ocean

InnovationNewsDaily reports on B.E.A.R. Oceanics, which is developing robotic biodiesel farms that would float on the water and use algae to generate fuel.

The biodiesel relies upon a sludgy mixture of six organisms, including the blue-green spirulina algae and Azolla water fern. Such a mixture has proved capable of not only doubling its mass every 92 minutes inside a lab at Rutgers University, but also growing in the harsher environment of a Pennsylvania greenhouse from late summer through winter and spring.
"The whole basis of this system is that you use indigenous biomass, so you don't have the problems of invasive species in the environment," (engineer Rudy) Behrens explained. "You certainly don't have the problems of using bioengineered organisms."

Then it's time for harvest. A mild electric current bursts the algae cells to release lipid oils that will eventually turn into biodiesel. The robotic farm ends up with something like hydrogenated vegetable oil floating on the surface, even as the remaining sludge gets recycled into growing more algae.

Original source: InnovationNewsDaily
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Chester County's Organic Mechanics makes money on dirt

Mark Highland and Organic Mechanics, operating in the tiny Chester County borough of Modena, are achieving success by shaking up the huge specialty soils market.

Founded in 2006, Organic Mechanics is now profitable and will pay off one of its first low-interest business loans this year. The seven-employee firm, which started with just one product, now sells nine different SKUs on the East Coast and in the Midwest at independent garden centers and Whole Foods Markets.

Instead of peat, Organic Mechanics' mixes contain compost, which Highland says requires less watering and is reusable for a second season, another green aspect attractive to serious gardeners.

Original source: Entrepreneur
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Another flurry of growth for state's wind industry

Seven wind farm projects in three years and five more under construction signal more growth for Pennsylvania's wind power sector, which ranks 16th in the country, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Since Pennsylvania's first utility-scale wind farm became operational in May 2000, when eight turbines started generating 10.4 megawatts of electricity in Garrett, Somerset County, the industry has burgeoned. The state has 16 utility-scale wind farms, with 433 tall turbines creating 735 megawatts of electricity that go into the electric utility grid.

That's enough electricity to power more than 220,000 homes a year, based on the American Wind Energy Association's estimate that each megawatt of wind-generated power can provide enough electricity for 225 to 300 typical American homes.

Original source: Pittsburgh-Tribune Review
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DC charging stations coming to PA Turnpike in 2013

Seventeen service plazas along the Pennsylvania Turnpike are slated to have EV charging stations for electric cars by summer, 2013, reports AutoBlog.

Each plaza will get one Level 2 charging stations and two DC fast chargers, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Kevin Sunday told Essential Public Radio. The first stations will be put in in the spring of 2012.

Florida's Car Charging Group was awarded a grant worth a million dollars from the PDEP to install the Chargepoint charging stations made by Coulomb Technologies that look similar to this. On top of the million, the Turnpike Commission will spend up to $500,000 to upgrade the electricity infrastructure at the plazas "to provide the charging stations with the necessary voltage.

Original source: AutoBlog
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Philly schools receive national green building award

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the city's school district was given a national award for green features like microfiber mops and green roofs.

Another showplace is (11th-grader Manny) Ortiz's school in Kensington, which opened two years ago on a weedy, trash- and tire-pocked lot. Compared to his former school, "this is bright, and there's more room," he said. "We're able to move from class to class without getting crushed in the halls."

He and special-ed teacher Joshua Kleiman gave a tour Thursday, pointing out green roofs whose native plants hold rainwater and spare the city's overloaded sewer system. Rain that falls on the gym is stored in two cisterns that provide the water used to flush the toilets.

The insulation is so tight the architects were able to place the performance spaces in the front of the building, across Front Street from the tracks of the El, whose trains pass with a dull roar.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Spotlight on small and sustainable York County farm

The Patriot-News features a York County farm that incorporates sustainable practices, such as pasture-raising animals and using them to till the soil.

Specifically designed moveable pens for the poultry and pigs are a crucial part of the operation. For example, mobile structures for the pigs are built to be the width of a vegetable row. The porkers till the soil as they voraciously root and forage for food, preparing the ground for the next crop. No Rototiller or tractor is used on the farm, unless you count the animals.

Another resource-saving system is the row of rain barrels lining each side of the hoop house where carrots, peas, lettuces, tomatoes and other vegetable crops grow. The barrels are connected to drip tape irrigation lines that automatically water the vegetable beds. Walden has plans to add a second tier of vegetables above those growing on the ground to maximize the use of space in the hoop house.

(Farmer Homer) Walden learned from other pioneers and their methods, including Joel Salatin and his well-known mobile poultry pens, but refined them with his own designs that he believes make them more efficient. He wants his systems to be easy for kids and older people, not just farmers in prime physical condition.

Original source: The Patriot-News
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A more sustainable refrigeration system in Montgomery County supermarket

Supermarket News reports on a new suburban Philadelphia grocery store featuring refrigerators that rarely leak and are easy to fix, making them better for the environment.

Joe and Mary Miller, owners of KTM Supermarkets -- the company that operates this ShopRite store and another a few miles away -- made sustainability a priority in everything from the products to be sourced to the construction of the store itself, which just opened in October.

The fact that the 67,000-plus-square-foot store was built from the ground up made it easier to put in all the systems the owners wanted from the very beginning, (operations director Jim) Madanci said.

Pennsylvania-based AMF Sales & Associates and Conyers, Ga.-based Hill Phoenix worked with KTM to design refrigerated cases that would present products well, but also would meet the Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill Gold standards for sustainable refrigeration.

Original source: Supermarket News
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Lehigh Valley electronics recycling plant recognized for sustainable practices

WFMZ reports that AERC/ComCycle, an electronics recycling facility in Allentown has been honored by the federal government for its environmentally responsible practices.

A certified recycler must show an independent third-party auditor that it meets specific standards to safely recycle electronics. Some of the standards include helping to reduce energy and natural resource consumption, greenhouse gases and hazardous waste.

Officials said the Allentown facility processes more than 600,000 pounds of electronics monthly, without using any landfill space.

AERC/ComCycle has five electronics processing facilities across the country and is one of the nation's largest electronics recyclers.

Original source: WFMZ
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PA conservation officers crack down on 'snagging' fish

Field & Stream reports that Pennsylvania conservation officers are cracking down on fishermen caught snagging -- catching fish by piercing their skin.

It was then that the officer reached into his truck's cup holder and pulled out a handful of homemade snags hooks. "I've collected these just in the last few days," he told us. "I'll have a lot more by the end of the weekend."

Just the possession of a snag hook on a PA steelhead river carries a nice fine. Get caught in the act and you're in serious trouble. The officer said that in two days the week prior (week days, mind you) he had issued 12 tickets. What I can't seem to figure out is how desperate someone must be to risk the penalties of snagging.

Original source: Field & Stream
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Monitoring PA's dirt and gravel roads to maintain pollution-free waterways

The Bay Journal spotlights a state-run program that maintains gravel and dirt roads as a way of keeping pollution out of local streams.

Worried about the deteriorating quality of Pennsylvania's streams, it didn't take long for Trout Unlimited to mobilize volunteers to drive thousands of miles around the state to identify sites affected by pollution and excessive water coming from Pennsylvania's dirt and gravel roads. At each location -- primarily drinking water reservoirs, high quality and exceptional-value coldwater fisheries and other priority watersheds -- volunteers conducted surveys based on specific criteria. The effort, which stretched over the summers of 1996-98, resulted in the identification and assessment of more than 900 sites statewide.

What began as a volunteer-driven Trout Unlimited initiative gained steam and support, culminating in 1997 when Pennsylvania enacted into law the Dirt and Gravel Road Maintenance Program. Administered by the State Conservation Commission, the program funds local projects that reduce stream pollution caused by runoff and sediment from the state's more than 20,000 miles of unpaved public roads.

Original source: Bay Journal
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Johnstown high school shoots for national environmental designation

The Daily American reports that Greater Johnstown High School is attempting to become Pennsylvania's first public school to achieve sustainability standards set by the National Wildlife Federation.

"This will be a model," said Kristin Sewak, executive director of Natural Biodiversity, a Moxham non-profit company that is providing technical assistance and project materials to the school district through the state Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education Grant Program.

A comprehensive audit will be conducted to determine where the high school stands in seven environmental areas: Energy, water, climate change, global dimensions, transportation, school grounds, consumption and waste and a Green Hour for students to spend time in the outdoors.

Natural Biodiversity has added an eighth standard: Sustainable agriculture, focusing on the foods used in the cafeteria.

Original source: Daily American
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Philadelphia mayor spreads message of sustainability to world leaders at U.N. panel at UPenn

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter recently detailed his city's environmental initiatives, including adding bicycle lanes and increasing recycling, for a United Nations-sponsored symposium, SmartPlanet reports."

This is not a fad. This is the new reality of where we are," Nutter said. "Sustainability is going to be here for a long, long period of time."
The best strategy? Institutionalize it. During the race for mayor of Philadelphia four years ago, the environmental movement began to grow to the point where it impacted the race, Nutter said.
"Ultimately, every candidate turned green," he said. "Every mayoral candidate had to have a position on a whole series of issues related to the environment and sustainability. It changed a lot of the dynamics of the race that year."

Original source: SmartPlanet
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HeatSeeker vehicle traverses Philadelphia area in search of energy-inefficient homes

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on home weatherization company and Philadelphia Navy Yard tenant Mark Group and its specialized vehicle that detects heat leaking from houses.

But in the United States, there are 80 million homes over 30 years old that are insufficiently insulated. Typically, Mark Group says, 43 percent of a residential utility bill goes to heating and cooling.

The HeatSeeker vehicle will operate during the fall and winter, when heating systems are operating. And the images are taken at night, so that solar heat does not interfere with the imagery.

In addition to the infrared camera mounted on its roof rack, the HeatSeeker contains a computer the size of a file cabinet, for taking guidance from global-positioning-system satellites to accurately link to an address to its images. The device is capable of taking 1,000 images an hour.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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State provides $1.4 million for biomass projects

Biomass Power and Thermal reports that Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Financing Authority has contributed $1.4 million to four alternative energy projects throughout the state.

"This is nothing new for Pennsylvania," says John Nikoloff, partner with Energy Resources Group Partners, a Pennsylvania-based consulting group. "The state has put out tens of millions of dollars for biomass projects in the last five, six years."
The latest round of funding comes from the Renewable Energy Program and the Alternative and Clean Energy (ACE) Program. ACE was launched in 2008 with a budget of $180 million for renewable projects not relating to solar, wind or geothermal. The program still retains about half of its budget and has awarded more than $21 million in grants and loans to biomass projects around Pennsylvania, Nikoloff says, adding that the funding is ongoing and not limited to once per year.
"Ever since the state set up the Alternative and Clean Energy Program, there has been an awful lot of ongoing support for biomass projects," he says.

Original source: Biomass Power and Thermal
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Neighbors reimagine vacant Philadelphia railway as city park above the streets

The Associated Press reports on a proposal that would transform an abandoned Philadelphia railroad bed into an elevated park.

"An asset like this will never be built again," said (John) Struble, a woodworker who has called Callowhill home since 1997. "There's too much potential to let it go away. When landscape architects see it, they get very excited -- it's a blank slate."

Walking on the viaduct, with its 360-degree views, it's easy to see why. The railway, already overtaken by small trees, flowering plants and tall grasses waving in the wind, resembles a meadow weaving among a series of huge old buildings -- some redeveloped, some vacant. The entrance to the viaduct is gated and locked but mattresses, liquor bottles and other detritus make it clear that people frequent or live along the rusting tracks.

"This is a neighborhood with no parks, no green space," Struble said. "The viaduct as a park would make it a much more welcoming, pleasant place to be."

Original source: Associated Press
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Sustainability gains prominence on Pittsburgh-area college campuses

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that regional colleges, including Chatham University, are embracing the idea of sustainability in the design of their campuses and curricula for students.

Nestled in a wooded Shadyside neighborhood surrounded by the mansions of deceased deans of industry, Chatham is building a new "green" campus at Eden Hall Farm in Richland. School officials boast it will be the nation's first "net-zero" energy campus, producing all the energy it consumes through a combination of geothermal and hydro-electric production, low-velocity wind turbines and other efforts.
A tour of the Eden Hall campus is one of several activities that the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education plans when it brings 2,500 members on Sunday to Pittsburgh for a three-day conference.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Electric vehicles can soon be charged up at five central PA Sheetz stations

The electric vehicle charging stations Sheetz plans to install at five Pennsylvania stores are the first of their kind at American gas stations, CSP reports.

Placing chargers near where people live and work is considered an important part of reducing the "range anxiety" that could otherwise slow the adoption of EVs. To ease fears of batteries sputtering mid-trip, 350Green has been working with partners across the country to meet the rising demand for convenient charging options.
"Sheetz has made their stores a destination as well as a convenient place to refuel. Making charging part of the convenience store experience shows you don't need to sacrifice anything to own a cleaner car," said Mariana Gerzanych, CEO of 350Green. "Expanding the charging infrastructure beyond homes and public garages through partnerships like this one is making electric vehicle ownership a realistic option for millions of people."

The installation of the Sheetz chargers will be completed by the end of this year. A DC fast charger (480V) can charge a Nissan Leaf to 80% in as little as 25 minutes.

Original source: CSP
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Central PA towns hope to become friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reports on a plan to connect several local towns on a walking and biking trail.

"This project evaluates the community from a standpoint of pedestrian and bicycle safety," Brian Auman, landscape architect for the community resource center said.

Auman said SEDA-COG has analyzed the entire city, focusing on major points of interest or destinations such as parks, schools, churches, post offices, libraries and the farmer's market to take into consideration where people live and how to safely connect them to these locations.

The big picture view is to ultimately connect the west end of Jersey Shore and give people access to a pathway that would take them from Wellsboro on a single trail to the city, according to Auman.

Original source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette
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Schuylkill County clothing maker keeps fabric-making sustainable, local

Textile World profiles FesslerUSA, a Coal Region clothing maker dedicated to domestic manufacturing and sustainable business practices.

FesslerUSA's ability to produce its own fabric is one aspect that sets it apart from other apparel manufacturers remaining in the United States. "We made a decision very early on to be different from everyone else by being vertical and having fabric production. That's been key to our success and our ability to get through the economic downturn," said (CEO) Walter Meck.
A custom software program drives the entire manufacturing process. The company does all of its design services, knitting, cutting, sewing, folding, packing and final processing in-house. Dyeing and finishing is done by a local dyer with whom the company has done business for more than 40 years.

Original source: Textile World
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Biomass energy company moving from Georgia to Montgomery County

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Renmatix, a Georgia company that makes fuel from wood and other plant material, is planning to move north to King of Prussia.

A more important incentive than money for relocating to the Philadelphia area was the workforce, said (CEO Mike) Hamilton, who lives near Wayne.
"We have a wealth of material-science talent and depth here in the region, which was attractive to us. We want to tap into that and attract a number of people to come and work with us," he said, citing the presence of DuPont Co., Dow Chemical, FMC Corp., and Arkema Inc.
Another attraction was Pennsylvania's hardwoods, which have the state in the running for Renmatix's first commercial plant, a $100 million facility whose location will likely be announced early next year, Hamilton said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Solar panel firm hires hundreds of green-collar workers in Bucks County

Voice of America features a suburban Philadelphia maker of solar panel materials that hired 450 people after receiving tax credits from the 2009 federal stimulus package.

It's at companies like AE Polysilicon where America's economic growth and clean energy goals come together. Economic stimulus grants created 450 jobs here, with more expected in the future.

Leo Tsuo, the company's development manager, says the whole community came out a winner.

"What we bring to this community, is we bring jobs - of all different levels," said Tsuo.  "We have manufacturing jobs, we have engineering jobs, we have business jobs and these are sustainable, high-paying jobs in an industry that is growing."

Original source: Voice of America
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Gypsy moth caterpillars commit suicide when infected with virus, Penn State researchers find

Penn State scientists have figured out how a virus drives gypsy moths into self-destructive behavior that kills moth caterpillars, NPR reports.

Normally, gypsy moth caterpillars feed on tree leaves at night when predators including birds and squirrels can't see them. Then during the day, the caterpillars climb down and hide in the tree bark or even under leaves on the ground.

But caterpillars abandon that sensible strategy when they're infected with a baculovirus, says Kelli Hoover, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University and the paper's lead author.

"As they get sick, they climb up to elevated positions and stay there and die," she says. What happens next is pretty gruesome. "The inside of the caterpillar gets pretty much converted to millions and millions of virus particles. Then there are other enzymes that cause the exoskeleton to melt. And that liquefies the caterpillar, and then it can rain virus down on the leaves below."

Original source: NPR
Read the original story here.

Biologists hike to remote Pennsylvania streams to learn where trout live

The New York Times reports on fishery biologists who temporarily electro-shock trout in Pennsylvania streams to inventory the fish so the waterways can be protected.

Participants make rigorous treks, often to remote, mountainous areas, and electro-fish headwater streams to temporarily immobilize trout so they can be captured, counted and measured before they are released.

While about 3,650 streams are currently managed for wild trout, scores of new prospects are now on the agency’s radar. The goal, according to a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Bill Worobec, is to ensure that they receive maximum protection before fish and their habitats are in danger of being destroyed.

“This project is extraordinarily proactive, which, in government, is rare,” said Mr. Worobec, who lives in north central Pennsylvania, a region that abounds both in trout and Marcellus shale. “We’re discovering we have substantially more wild trout waters than most people ever imagined and we don’t want to lose them through ignorance.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Nineteenth-century strains of wheat being ground into flour at Lebanon County mill

The Washington Post reports on the nine-year quest to grow heritage varieties of wheat for a south-central PA flour mill, the country's oldest continuously operating mill.

This summer, finally, a lush and picturesque 35 acres of wheat with multi-hued names such as White Wonder, Purple Straw and Red May has been thriving in Kutztown, Pa., at the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit organization that researches organic farming methods. And Annville Flouring Mill’s rollers have once again ground what might be the very same wheat they started with.

Last October, (mill owner Dave) Poorbaugh entrusted 500 pounds of seed to Jeff Moyer, the Rodale Institute’s farm director, for one down-and-dirty reason: soil. “They’ve been doing something every year to improve that soil since 1972,” Poorbaugh says. In this case, “improving” means going back in time. “We planted that wheat in soil that looks more like it did in the 1800s than the soil at most farms today.”

Original source: The Washington Post
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PNC unveils plans for latest green building, a 40-story skyscraper

Construction & Demolition Recycling reports on the PNC Financial Services Group's plans to build an eco-friendly, 40-story, $400 million skyscraper in Pittsburgh.

The Tower at PNC Plaza will feature a double glass facade to enhance energy efficiency by reducing cooling costs and allowing natural airflow to the building. Using advanced sensors and metering, a state-of-the-art, high efficiency heating and cooling system will deliver conditioned air to specific zones of the building, as needed. The building will be oriented to take advantage of sunlight in workspaces, reducing the need for artificial light during the day. The design team is also currently exploring fuel cells, solar panels, geothermal systems and other alternative power generation sources that will significantly reduce carbon emissions. The building's green rooftops will collect rainwater and channel it for use in other parts of the structure, as well as reduce the heat gain associated with traditional rooftops.

Original source: Construction & Demolition Recycling
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Near Maryland border, Sheppard Mansion serves unique take on locally sourced fare

The Washington Post visits Sheppard Mansion, a Hanover inn and restaurant that specializes in Pennsylvania Dutch-style fine dining composed of local ingredients.

The list of suppliers reads like a Pennsylvania map: pastured poultry, free-range eggs, Berkshire pork and several artisan cheeses from Rettland Farm in Gettysburg; dairy products from Apple Valley Creamery in East Berlin; honey and bourbon peaches from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg; fruit from Boyer Nurseries in Biglerville. Little's kitchen supplies baked goods and soups; Sheppard Mansion Farms provides beef.

Original source: The Washington Post
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City chickens: Pittsburgh shows off backyard coops

The Wall Street Journal visits Pittsburgh to learn about the growing number of city dwellers raising chickens in their backyards.

Coop tours are a sign that more city dwellers are becoming interested in urban farming and raising chickens, say city officials. Pittsburgh passed an ordinance requested by residents earlier this year that enables people to keep up to three chickens and two beehives on a 2,000-square-foot lot.

"There's a desire among residents to live more sustainably," said Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. But she said most residents wouldn't notice any change. "We don't see chicken coops overtaking any city lots any time soon."

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Pennsylvania location chosen as convenience store chain's first for LEED certification

The Royal Farms convenience store chain chose a location near York to be its first building with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Convenience Store News reports.

At its first LEED-certified store in Dover, Pa., 91 percent of the construction materials were recycled. Other changes that have been necessary to get the stores up to LEED standards include the addition of a vestibule; installing dual-flush toilets; offering on-site recycling; and restricting smoking within 25 feet of the stores' entrances, according to (Director of Construction and Facilities Cindy) Deken.

Going forward, Royal Farms is making the commitment that all of its new store builds will achieve LEED certification. In addition, the retailer said a number of its legacy sites are slated to be razed and rebuilt, and these locations will meet LEED standards as well.

Original source: Convenience Store News
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Bacteria and bugs enlisted in Lancaster County to keep cow manure out of water supply

abc27 reports on a Lancaster County dairy farm that is collecting animal waste and feeding it to insects and bacteria as a way to keep harmful runoff out of the Chesapeake Bay.

Kreider Farms has teamed with Bion Environmental Technologies for a pilot program to reduce the harmful nitrogen and phosphorous in cow manure. The waste is collected and fed to eager bugs and bacteria.

"The bacteria is oxygen starved and as it gets in there it's grabbing all the oxygen, but also grabbing the nitrogen and phosphorous as well," former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said.

The leftover waste can ultimately be burned and used for electricity or re-applied to fields as fertilizer, but the lion's share will not be flowing downstream, which is saving taxpayers money since they would be on the hook to clean it up.

Original source
: abc27
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PSU, Penn scientists find rising global temperatures fuel drastic increase in global sea levels

Popular Science reports that scientists, including researchers at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, found that the world's oceans have been rising faster than at any point in more than two millennia.

Sea level increase is one of the most threatening aspects of climate change. Increases in global average temperatures will cause ice sheets to melt, gradually increasing the average height of the oceans and inundating coastal areas across the globe.

Sea levels were stable from at least 100 BC to 950 AD, according to Benjamin Horton, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Pennsylvania who co-authored the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The levels rose a bit for the next 400 years, during a warm period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and then they were stable again throughout the Little Ice Age, which lasted until the late 1800s. Since the onset of the industrial age, sea levels have risen by more than 2 millimeters per year -- by far the steepest increase in the past 2,100 years.

"For the last 1,000 years, whenever temperature has changed, sea level has changed,
' Horton said in an interview. "It's a huge body of evidence to say that in the 21st century, with temperatures shown to be rising, that sea levels will rise. That’s a great worry that comes out of this study."

Original source: Popular Science
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Cook up a mouthwatering cheesesteak the Rodale way

Maria Rodale, CEO of Lehigh Valley publishing house Rodale Inc., shares her healthy, organic recipe for the region's take on the classic Philly cheesesteak.

The original cheesesteak, as served in the city of brotherly love, does NOT have sauce on it. But I grew up about an hour outside of Philly, where the height of cheesesteak-ness was found at the Brass Rail, which did have sauce. One of my favorite childhood moments was when we would all pile into the station wagon, get Brass Rail to go, and then head down to the Little Lehigh Parkway for a summer picnic. In fact, a Brass Rail steak sandwich was one of the last things my mother ate before she died (I bought it for her because I knew she would eat it). The Brass Rail sauce is a notoriously secret recipe in these parts, but I have deconstructed it and figured it out. So, I will share both my cheesesteak and sauce recipes with you.

Original source: Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
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West of Pittsburgh, the Farm possesses rustic, upscale decor all its own

The New York Times tours the Farm, a formerly dilapidated property outside of Pittsburgh that owners Esther and Brian Dormer have transformed into a uniquely designed rural retreat.

Her thought was to proceed impressionistically, asking questions and letting solutions evolve. Can you sit in this spot in the woods? What about this one? How do you make a path? A walking circle? Can the toolshed look better? Can it look like it belongs to the barn? Can I put party tents here? What about a bonfire? (Or “fire element,” in Ms. Dormer’s parlance.) Can trees go around it?
Meanwhile, (designer Lisa) Dagnal, who was raising three boys, and had always decorated her own home and her friends’ homes, decided to have an open house to show off her work: lacquered tables, refinished case goods and pale upholstered pieces. Ms. Dormer was invited by a friend of a friend and was attracted to Ms. Dagnal’s style, which reminded her of her own.

Original source: The New York Times
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Batteries on Philadelphia subway tracks will store electricity and save cash

The New York Times reports on Viridity Energy's plans to install batteries that will capture energy from trains stopped on a Philadelphia subway line.

Yet the batteries are fairly small. The whole installation stores only about 400 kilowatt-hours, which a house with central air conditioning could consume in a week or maybe less. But it can accept or discharge energy fast, at a rate of about 800 kilowatts -- enough to run about 800 window air conditioners going full blast.

For short periods the battery pack can handle 1.5 megawatts. That’s about half of the theoretical maximum that a train could put out while it was braking, according to Kevin Morelock, director of the project. (The other half would go on the third rail system.) The amount of electricity the batteries will capture during each deceleration is small, 2 to 4 kilowatt-hours.

The trick is that Septa has thousands of train stops a year, so the system will empty and refill quite frequently. They will hold less than a dollar’s worth of electricity in each cycle but should save $135,000 a year for the transit authority, (Viridity founder Audrey) Zibelman said. The energy savings should reach 1,500 to 1,600 megawatt-hours a year, she said, enough to run 1,000 suburban houses for a year.

Original source: The New York Times
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Solar energy will power TV and movie studio near Philadelphia

Green Chip Stocks reports on Sun Center Studios, a solar-powered TV and film lot set to open soon southwest of Philadelphia.

The site houses an $85 million studio stretching over 33 acres. On that 33 acres lie a 4-D movie theatre, five studios, seven soundstages, and a 370,00-square-foot high-tech museum.

The 216 kilowatt (kW) energy system ranks in the top one percent of solar projects funded by the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Rebate Program, and is the largest solar-related project in Delaware County, PA. 

Sun Center carefully designed their campus and sound stage to facilitate optimum efficiency, using the newest technology to obtain environmental sustainability. 

Original source: Green Chip Stocks
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New park in Lancaster reduces pollution in the Chesapeake Bay downstream

WITF reports on the opening of Sixth Ward Park and its eco-friendly porous basketball court.

Mayor Rick Gray helped unveil the first completed project -- the nearly one million dollar renovation of Sixth Ward Park expected to help reduce stormwater runoff. "Currently when it rains very heavy, the city of Lancaster ends up mixing a combination of stormwater and wastewater and dumping it, untreated, into the Conestoga River, which goes to the Susquehanna, which goes to the Chesapeake," he says. "Dilution is not the solution to pollution. We have to do more than that."

Original source: WITF
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Farmers pursuing sustainability can learn from traditional Amish farming methods, professor says

Utah State University's Hard News Cafe interviews Douglas Jackson-Smith, a sociology professor at the college, about his research on Amish farming methods in Pennsylvania.

There are four main goals of sustainable farming, he said -- the first one is the most obvious, to produce the necessary outputs such as food, fuel and fiber. The second goal is to sustain the quality of the natural environment.

"We pushed beyond environment, and we had two other goals," Jackson-Smith said. "One is the economic viability of farming and farmers -- that's a big issue that’s separate from those first two; and the fourth one is enhancing social welfare."

Original source: Hard News Cafe
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Looking for an Earth-friendly vacation spot? Try Pittsburgh

The Mother Nature Network highlights Pittsburgh as an eco-friendly tourist destination with ample organic eateries, pedi-cabs and parks.

A model of Rust Belt reinvention, Pittsburgh has become a progressive city with a surprisingly green consciousness. Organizations throughout the metro and the surrounding areas champion initiatives for cleaner air, conservation and better public transportation. And of course, Pitt has become a respectable mainstream tourist destination: It boasts spectator sports (including two recent championship-winning pro franchises), shopping, restaurants and art scenes that have all earned positive buzz from travelers and the media.

Original source: Mother Nature Network
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With Backyard Farmers, gardeners can grow produce at home with little fuss

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Al Benner and John Genovese started a business, Backyard Farmers, that allows people to grow food at home without getting their hands dirty.
Benner contends that his garden systems will yield not just healthier and far-superior-tasting vegetables than those found in the typical grocery store, but a return on investment in less than two years. That's based on a calculation that three beds, planted compactly via a method known as "French intensive," will produce about 1,155 pounds of produce a year.
That, multiplied by the average cost per pound of produce in the grocery store, translates to a savings of $2,552 on groceries in the first year, according to the company's website, www.backyardfarmers.com.
Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Site of suburban Philadelphia steel mill reborn as eco-friendly data center

Data Center Knowledge reports on Steel Orca, a soon-to-open server farm built at the home of an old steel mill and built to use the Delaware River's cooling power.
Steel ORCA Bucks County DC will provide turnkey data center solutions that include co-location, managed hosting and professional services. The project will be housed in a 700,000 square foot facility that will be built from the ground up, and include 300,000 square feet of  data center space, according to CEO David Crocker.
"This data center will be (one of) the largest, most ecologically considerate and efficient data centers on Earth," said Crocker. "We are developing disruptive technologies. We are able to fulfill our vision of building a data center that addresses concerns by many data center clients focused on mandates and incentives to reduce carbon footprint, yet provide optimal high-density and high-performance computing."
Original source: Data Center Knowledge
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Woman giving Philadelphia apartment building sustainable renovation, one unit at a time

Liz Solms, daughter of the late developer Stephen E. Solms, is gradually renovating each apartment in a Philadelphia building with environmentally friendly materials, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The now-refurbished seventh-floor apartment at Touraine, which will be available for rental this week, is, Solms said, "a trial-and-error unit for something that we want to get down to a science."

The renovation, which took four to six months from conception to completion, argues against the belief that Philadelphia renters won't settle for less than "stainless steel and granite," she said.

The tile in the bathroom, for example, is an American Olean product made of inorganic materials and recycled scrap -- even the leavings from the production process are reused.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Penn State scientist: Plenty can be done to address climate change

The Centre Daily Times reports on geologist Richard Alley, a Penn State professor who explored possible solutions to climate change for a special on PBS.

He goes bungee jumping down a glacial crevasse, gets close with a herd of cows in Pennsylvania and explores what he calls a "glorious" cave in New Zealand that’s home to glowworms. The energy efficient creatures make light to lure in their prey. Alley also tours places like a desert in the southwest United States where solar panels could create sustainable energy.

"The amount of energy that's available is absolutely incredible," Alley said. "It's all there. The question is how to use it."

To explore that, Alley and the film crew visit places already producing green energy, such as a solar power plant near Seville, Spain, and a geothermal generating station in New Zealand.

Original source: Centre Daily Times
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IKEA sets new standards for products' sustainability

GreenBiz.com reports that IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant with U.S. headquarters in the Philadelphia suburbs, will start rating its wares with a scorecard as part of its goal to sell more sustainable products.

By 2015, IKEA wants 90 percent of its sales of home items to be classified as "more sustainable," according to its scorecard. To get that mark, products have to have more sustainability aspects than previous versions or similar goods. The scorecard will be an internal tool for guiding product development and purchasing.

In addition, IKEA wants all of its home products to be recyclable or made with renewable or recycled materials. However, it doesn't have exact figures on where it is along that path.

"Today, we have little reliable data on the share of recycled and recyclable materials used for IKEA home furnishing products, but we know that the share of renewable materials remains fairly constant at around 70 percent as cotton and wood are our two most important raw materials," the report says.

Original source: GreenBiz.com
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Pennsylvania's future lies in its cities, mayors insist

Despite the challenges Pennsylvania cities face, they also have a promising future, the mayors of Lancaster, Lebanon and Reading said at a recent meeting covered by the Intelligencer Journal / Lancaster New Era.

The three Central Pennsylvania mayors, led by (Lancaster Mayor Rick) Gray, said the hollowing out that cities have experienced since the post-World War II baby boom is now shifting to the suburbs.

Younger people want to live where there are restaurants, night life and entertainment venues. Middle-age people with empty nests no longer want to keep up their home and half-acre lots. And even retirement centers are considering redevelopment projects in old city warehouses and factories, Gray maintained.

"The nuclear, 'Leave it to Beaver' family is no more," Gray pronounced, referring to changing demographics.

Original source: Intelligencer Journal / Lancaster New Era
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New business group wants King of Prussia to be known for more than shopping

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a new business improvement district in charge of reinventing King of Prussia as more than the home of a giant mall.

Not only does it have 28,395 residents, it has office and industrial parks, schools, churches, and a convention center that soon will include a casino slots parlor. In all, King of Prussia has 50,000 employees, making it the region's largest suburban employment complex, said Barry Seymour, executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

"But you don't have a perception of that," he said, largely because the uses are spread across the township without much definition.

A recognition of that, and a concern that being content with the status quo could one day doom this Montgomery County suburb that has more of a small-city feel, has triggered a re-imagining of King of Prussia - the town, that is.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Cleaning up creek in south-central PA could make Chesapeake Bay cleaner

Farm and Dairy reports on an effort to reduce the amount of pollution from farmers' fields that ends up in a creek that flows toward the Chesapeake Bay.

“If what we are trying to do works here, we believe it can work in tributaries throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Matt Royer, director of the Lower Susquehanna Initiative for Penn State’s Ag and Environment Center.

The Conewago, which marks the county line between Dauphin and Lancaster counties, is not victimized only by agricultural runoff. While there are about 270 farms in the watershed, the creek also receives storm water runoff from development.

Original source: Farm and Dairy
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PA Peanut Power: Planters hits highway in peanut-shaped truck fueled by biodiesel

The New York Times reports that a peanut-shaped truck built for Planters Peanuts, which was founded and headquartered in Wilkes-Barre for 36 years ending in 1961 and includes floorboards taken from a Lancaster barn, will tour the country, powered by peanut-based biodiesel.

The Nutmobile's unmodified diesel engine will run on up to 20 percent biodiesel fuel and return 10 to 15 miles per gallon, Mr. Riseborough said. Energy captured and converted by the wind turbine and solar panel drive an alternator that recharges batteries for the vehicle’s interior lighting and sound system.

"This form of advertising has really taken off," Joe Doyon, Turtle Transit's general manager, said in a telephone interview. "The advent of camera phones means that vehicles like the Nutmobile get photographed a lot."

Original source: New York Times
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Harrisburg-area unemployed can get work cleaning brownfields

CBS 21 reports that Harrisburg Area Community College will use federal grant money to train unemployed workers to clean central Pennsylvania brownfields.

And to be an Environmental Technician you need to be 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED and a valid drivers license.

And don't be thrown off by the term Environmental Technician. In order to get a job cleaning up brownfields, you basically have to have a passion for improving the environment and working outdoors.

Original source: CBS 21
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Penn freshman's soon-to-launch microfinance site among Inc.'s Coolest College Startups

PoverUP, a microfinance platform University of Pennsylvania student Charlie Javice started to pull people out of poverty in a sustainable way, has been chosen by Inc. as one of its Coolest College Start-ups.

PoverUP plans to launch its investment platform on April 13, 2011, which Javice is calling PoverUP Your World – 1st Annual Student Microfinance Day. The non-profit works with a diverse set of microfinance partners that will ultimately drive investments to more than 100 countries. PoverUP is also partnered with the London School of Economics Microfinance Society to tap into their networks and research.

Javice's goal for PoverUP, which draws its names from "getting up out of poverty," is to have satellite groups on 500 campuses within the next five years. Eventually, Javice plans to step out of a direct leadership role, since she believes the organization should be entirely student-run. "When students work together, we can really have an impact," she says.

Original source: Inc.
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Home builder debuts net-zero energy house near Pittsburgh

Builder S&A Homes built a house in suburban Pittsburgh that generates as much energy as it uses, SmartPlanet reports.

The test home, tucked away in the Cobblestone Estates development in Ohio Township in the Pittsburgh suburbs, is a logical extension of S&A’s E-Home, an efficient (but not net-zero) design it debuted in 2009.

The E-Home promised to cut monthly energy bills by $150, through ultra-efficient windows, fluorescent lighting, advanced HVAC systems, recycled materials and, of course, its inherent design.

The Lab Home takes that a step further, with a horizontal loop ground source heat pump system, 8-in. thick exterior walls filled with R-40 insulation and solar panels.

Original source: SmartPlanet
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International survey finds Pittsburgh most livable American city

The Daily Mail reports that a survey by the Economic Intelligence Unit, based in London, has declared Pittsburgh the best American city in which to live.

It may not have won the Super Bowl - but Pittsburgh has something even bigger to celebrate.

The former steel city has just been voted the best place to live in the U.S.

The Pennsylvania powerhouse even beat Honolulu in the annual survey of 'most liveable cities' from the respected Economist Intelligence Unit.

Original source: Daily Mail
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Braddock and its mayor symbolize hope and despair in blighted Rust Belt towns

The New York Times profiles John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, a small town that's become a national symbol of urban renewal, and explores how Braddock can be an example for other Rust Belt communities.

In contrast to urban planners caught up in political wrangling, budget constraints and bureaucratic shambling, Fetterman embraces a do-it-yourself aesthetic and a tendency to put up his own money to move things along. He has turned a 13-block town into a sampling of urban renewal trends: land-banking (replacing vacant buildings with green space, as in Cleveland); urban agriculture (Detroit); championing the creative class to bring new energy to old places (an approach popularized by Richard Florida); “greening” the economy as a path out of poverty (as Majora Carter has worked to do in the South Bronx); embracing depopulation (like nearby Pittsburgh).

Original source: The New York Times
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Berks County program collecting food scraps for use as compost

BCTV.org reports that the Berks County Solid Waste Authority has started a recycling program to convert leftover food into compost.

Cougle's Recycling Inc., Hamburg, has been contracted to collect the waste and truck it to the Rodale Institute, near Kutztown.

There it will be combined with leaves and yard waste, laid out in long piles called windrows, and converted into compost. Rodale will use the compost on the 500 acres it farms.

Original source: BCTV.org
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Vice President takes Amtrak to Philly to tout billions in high-speed rail investment

Vice President Joe Biden took the train to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, where he solicited support for President Obama's wish to invest $53 billion in enhanced rail service nationwide, The Washington Post reports.
The plan to spend billions more on a vast high-speed-rail network was cast by the administration as vital to keeping the United States competitive with world markets that already use the technology.

"Public infrastructure investment raises private-sector productivity," Vice President Biden said Tuesday, continuing a theme struck by the president in his State of the Union speech last month. "They literally are the veins and arteries of commerce."
Original source: The Washington Post
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During visit to Happy Valley, Obama urges tax incentives, energy efficiency

The New York Times reports on President Obama's recent visit to Penn State, during which he toured labs and gave a speech promoting government investment in infrastructure and clean energy.
“Innovation has also flourished because we, as a nation, have invested in the success of these individual entrepreneurs,” the president said. “In America, innovation isn’t just how we change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

Mr. Obama acknowledged that the tax credits he wants to provide would drain money from the Treasury. He received his largest applause when he reiterated his call for Congress to eliminate tax breaks for oil companies.
Original source: The New York Times
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Canadian company plans $800M clean-coal power plant in Schuylkill County

The Republican-Herald reports that EmberClear, based in Alberta, Canada, expects to build a massive clean-coal power plant near Pottsville, leading to 100 permanent jobs.

Experts believe the proposed technology at EmberClear's planned plant -- dubbed the Good Spring Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle, or Good Spring IGCC -- represents the future.

"This is certainly one of the ways forward for cleaner coal with higher efficiencies and definite ways of moving forward to replace some of the 30-year-old coal plants we have that are really showing their age," said Jonathan Matthews, an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University. "I would say that there is some room for competing technology, (but) IGCC is probably the frontrunner in many peoples' minds."

Original source: The Republican-Herald
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State College teacher one of a dozen from U.S. to conduct research in Antarctica

State College high school teacher Nell Herrmann will spend a month studying algae in Antarctica, along with 11 other American teachers, the Centre Daily Times reports.
In Antarctica, Herrmann will be working with a chemical ecologist based out of Palmer Station, on Anvers Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula.

On Monday, through a series of back and forth questions, Herrmann led students to figure out why she considered the study of algae and ocean acidification super interesting.

Fossil fuel pollution leads to more acidic water, which in turn means more algae die. And since algae is at the bottom of the food chain, the loss of it negatively impacts other animals.
Original source: Centre Daily Times
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Coal is still king in PA, but alternative energy, deregulation are changing the landscape

Coal provides more than half of Pennsylvania's electricity, but the growth of alternative power sources and deregulation of electric utilities is altering the energy landscape, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

At play in the energy debate is geography. On one side: the state's still-thriving coal towns, largely in the southwest. On the other: former industrial regions, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown, that after decades of job loss see fresh economic opportunity. At a former U.S. Steel site in Bucks County, for example, a wind-turbine manufacturer employs 265.

But deregulation of the electricity market makes the battle relevant to all Pennsylvanians. It has given them more choice over who supplies their electricity, and how much of it -- if any -- they want to come from alternative sources such as solar and wind power.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pittsburgh's sustainability coordinator moving on to Harrisburg conservation group

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Pittsburgh's first sustainability coordinator, Lindsay Baxter, is taking a job with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Over the past year, (Baxter) worked on a project to install 3,000 cost-efficient LED streetlights in business districts, and a project to retrofit the City-County Building with energy- and money-saving upgrades. She served on the city's Shade Tree Commission.

During her tenure, Baxter created a green guide for residents and businesses to lessen their impact on the environment and initiated a recycling drop-off program in the City Hall lobby. She addressed newly hired city employees at orientation meetings about the importance of conserving energy, said Joanna Doven, the mayor's spokeswoman.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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What Philly Has That Pittsburgh Wants

Pop City takes a look across the state at assets in Philly that Pittsburgh would love to make its own.

Making the most of Philadelphia's identity as the cradle of liberty is a single-subject museum that speaks to the city past and present.  The National Constitution Center opened its doors in 2003 and shines a light on the four-page document from every conceivable angle.

In a city fueled by immigrants, food is on everyone's lips.  Restauranteur Stephen Starr has leveraged that in recent years, opening a slew of stylish concept eateries in and around Center City.  Eating his lunch of late are chef-driven restaurant groups helmed by Iron Chef and James Beard Award winner Jose Garces and fellow Beard award recipient Marc Vetri.

Source: Pop City
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Farm Show Complex full of energy-saving additions

The Reading Eagle reports that this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show is taking place in a venue with new energy-saving features, from a wind turbine to aerators on faucets.

Over the past nine months, the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex has gone through a $3.6 million upgrade designed to save on energy and money.

All told, the upgrades are expected to save Pennsylvania more than $300,000 a year, said Patrick J. Kerwin, executive director.

Energy improvements will also save 1,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

Original source: Reading Eagle
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Penn State to build wind turbine and demonstrate how wind can power schools

Penn State plans to build a new wind turbine, conduct research on it and help Pennsylvania schools build their own turbines, the Centre Daily Times reports.

Penn State is part of a group of five states participating in the latest U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program. The university will not only be collecting data from the turbine it’s installing, but will be working with K-12 schools across the state that want to set up their own small-scale turbines to provide hands-on learning for students.

Original source: Centre Daily Times
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Pittsburgh group plans Haitian factory where recycled plastic bottles will be transformed into cloth

BusinessNewsDaily reports on Pittsburgh entrepreneurs who plan to build a factory in Haiti, where workers will make cloth out of recycled plastic.

A Pittsburgh-based group of entrepreneurs is trying to change that. Known as THREAD (The Haitian Redevelopment Directive), the organization is committed to building a factory that turns discarded plastic bottles into fabric for use in high- performance apparel. They hope the factory will be operational by year-end.

The Haitian factory, which plans to initially employ 10 to 15 workers and pay them a fair wage, would be able to supply the fabric to end users at a lower cost than companies located in other parts of the world, while providing jobs and a de facto sanitation system for Haiti’s people.

Original source: BusinessNewsDaily
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Water-supply regulation agency releases proposed regulations for natural gas drilling

The Delaware River Basin Commission released long-awaited proposals for rules to govern natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and other states, the Associated Press reports.

The Delaware River Basin Commission published the long-awaited regulations on its website. They govern a range of drilling activities, including water withdrawals, well pad siting and wastewater disposal, and require drilling companies to post a bond of $125,000 per well to cover the plugging and restoration of abandoned wells and the remediation of any pollution.

Original source: Associated Press
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PA legislator, voted out of office, pushing algae's potential to create fuel

State Rep. David Kessler got voted out of office last month, but is already working to bring algae-based fuel to Pennsylvania, WFMZ reports.
"We're talking about weaning ourselves off of foreign oil," Kessler said of his business venture, which is rooted in algae. "It's a blue green algae called TerraDerm."
In May, Kessler secured a $175,000 state grant to study the possibility of bringing that technology to Pennsylvania. Now, the results are in and positive.

According to the study, the initiative could bring more than 3,000 jobs to the state. It's also passed the first phase of testing for the military at the U.S. Air Force Labs in Ohio.
Original source: WFMZ
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B Lab co-founder explains measurement of businesses' environmental and social impact

SmartPlanet has an interview with former sneaker king Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, a Berwyn nonprofit that certifies businesses for environmental and social sustainability.

B Corporations are for sustainable business what LEED is for green buildings. In the case of a B Corporation, it’s not just about the building. It’s about the business as a whole -- how they treat their employees, how they’re engaged in their local community, how they treat their suppliers and how they are good stewards of the environment.

Original source: SmartPlanet
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West Chester University to get $4.7 million to expand geothermal energy system

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Energy will give West Chester University $4.7 million to heat more buildings with geothermal energy.

The university, which belongs to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, will use the grant to put three buildings on its geothermal system, which it says will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 4.7 million pounds per year.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Pittsburgh researchers to study green buildings' lifetime impact on environment

Academics, architects and engineers in Pittsburgh are developing a way to measure the impact green buildings have on their environment, from construction to demolition, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Increasingly, everyone from new home builders to major companies like PNC Bank have embraced the green credo of buildings that are not only energy efficient but use environmentally sustainable products.

But exactly what environmental impact those buildings have over the life of their existence from construction to operation to demolition and disposal is not fully understood.

A team of Pittsburgh engineers and architects, led by University of Pittsburgh engineering professor Melissa Bilec, will try to get at that very notion -- known as "life cycle assessment" or LCA -- with a $2 million grant recently won from the National Science Foundation.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA is No. 3 in U.S. for number of solar projects, says gov't survey

A recent government survey shows that Pennsylvania is one of the top states for generating solar power, EarthTechling reports.

The EPA highlighted new data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) latest open photovoltaic survey, which ranks Pennsylvania third nationally in the number of solar projects operating today and fourth in installed capacity. According to NREL, the state now has 2,434 projects that account for 38.5 megawatts of generating capacity–enough to power about 5,800 homes–second only to California and New Jersey.

Original source: EarthTechling
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Philly entrepreneur opens PA's first commercial charging station for electric vehicles

Norman P. Zarwin of Philadelphia is offering free electricity at his commercial charging station for electric vehicles, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Zarwin, cofounder of U-Go Stations Inc., reckons it is only a matter of time before EVs flock to his Liberty Service Station at 1600 S. Columbus Blvd. to plug in.

"Which comes first, the cars or the charging stations?" Zarwin asked. "There should be a wave of electric cars and trucks in the future."

Indeed, there is much buzz these days about electric vehicles. General Electric Co., which also plans to move into the vehicle-charging market, announced Thursday that it would buy 25,000 electric vehicles in the next five years to jump-start the market.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Manheim farm breaks ground on cutting-edge manure-processing plant

Kreider Farms broke ground on an innovative manure processing facility that will produce renewable energy, reports American Agriculturalist.

But Bion's first Pennsylvania project got underway this week with the groundbreaking of an innovative dairy nutrient management facility at Kreider Farms. The Lancaster County facility was lauded by state agriculture and environmental officials. The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority had previously approved Bion's $7.75 million low-interest loan financing for its phase one project.

The phase one project may also yield up to 60,000 carbon credits, estimates Rowland. And he adds, "This technology can be installed and paid for without subsidies."

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved the nutrient credit certification plan. Bion's investment is expected to be recovered via 130,000 nitrogen credits and 16,250 phosphorus credits. Verified nutrient credits will then be sold to offset the discharges of regulated nitrogen sources facing much higher remediation costs, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants in the Susquehanna River watershed.

Original source: American Agriculturalist
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Pittsburgh's sustainable renaissance based on regional thinking

The folks at Greentech Media take a look at Pittsburgh as part of its essay series on Networked Regions, which traces the city's rise  as a model for sustainable development.

"The way in which we focus our sustainable lives happens in regions," said Court Gould, Executive Director for Sustainable Pittsburgh. "That makes sense because many sustainability issues can be dealt with through regional approaches. So we all know the term ‘watershed,’ but when we think on a regional basis, there are air-sheds, commuter-sheds, supply chain-sheds, education-sheds, economic-sheds and housing-sheds. And typically we have not, in American governance, focused on the region as the organizing unit for trying to get things right."

Original source: Greentech Media
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Temple prof's appointment enables further sustainability research in insurance industry

James Hutchin, a clinical professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business, is spearheading a study on insurance companies' view of sustainability, reports Temple News.

Hutchin and a team of students from the school’s required capstone experience for MBAs, named the Enterprise Management Consulting Practice, or EMC, began the study in 2008 with funding from the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative.

The researchers were required to complete a global survey of insurance companies, executives and underwriters -- the people who calculate risk. From that survey, Hutchin and his team had to determine “how they viewed sustainability and how their views of sustainability affect the taking of risk and pricing of risk,” he said.

"What we found is, individuals seem to be ahead of their companies in terms of viewing sustainability as important in the insurance industry," Hutchin added.

Original source: Temple News
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East Stroudsburg University puts $118 million building to a student vote

East Stroudsburg University students are voting this week whether or not the school should move forward with plans for a $118 million building that would become a hub for student life and learning on campus, reports KDKA.

If approved the building would be finished in 2018. Although current students would be long gone by then, the school is encouraging them to approve the project.

The Stroudsburg Pocono Record reports the school is seeking student approval because students would be asked to kick in an extra $100 per year between 2018 and 2038. The rest of the cost would be covered by a state grant.

Original source: KDKA
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Can hand-cranked laptops catch on in Amish country?

Laptops that can operate off-the-grid are pondered in PA's Amish community, and Donald Krabyill of Elizabethtown College cites a demand for electronics there, reports The Atlantic.

For the Amish, the bigger issue relates to connecting to the outside world. "Not being on the grid continues to be universal in Amish life," explains professor David L. Weaver-Zercher, author of The Amish Way. "There is kind of a symbolic thing with the grid, that the wires themselves are physically connecting your house. That is a clear connection to worldly ways of doing things that we want to avoid."

But that doesn't mean there hasn't been demand for electronics. Back in 2008, a Lancaster man marketed a stripped down computer he called the Classic Word Processor to his brethren, noted Amish expert Donald Kraybill of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. It was "made specifically for the plain people by the plain people," a coded reference designed to appeal to decidedly agrarian people.

Original source: The Atlantic
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Exton firm tackles Campbell Soup solar project in Ohio

A subsidiary of Exton-based BNB Renewable Energy will finance, develop and own a $21.6 million solar facility for Campbell Soup Co., reports the Toledo Blade.

State officials said Campbell plans to sign a 20-year power-purchase agreement to buy all the energy produced through the proposed facility, which would generate about 50 megawatts a year. One megawatt can provide power to about 1,000 households.

Original source: Toledo Blade
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Philly firm among startups charging the super grid

Philadelphia's Viridity Energy is among the startups at the GreenBeat 2010 conference working on a clean, self-healing energy network known as a super grid, reports VentureBeat.

Viridity works with customers to figure out how to curtail energy use and rely on off-grid generation when prices are high. The company’s software also “sells” energy usage reductions, energy storage and local generation capabilities back to utilities in wholesale power markets. Viridity Energy recently announced a project with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transport Authority to recycle the energy created when trains and trolleys brake at a high-use substation in Philadelphia.

Original source: VentureBeat
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Precious 9/11 steel held dear in East Greenville

FoxNews reports on a 15-foot long, 6,000-pound piece of steel that survived the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and now awaits memorializing in the parking lot of the East Greenville American Legion.

Nine years after the buildings were destroyed, this steel will be the centerpiece of a local 9/11 memorial. Local residents are coming together to donate time and materials to build the memorial. Sean and John Kreuz are thrilled to donate what they say is a one thousand dollar job - providing a concrete cover for the walkway and other parts of the memorial.

Sean explains his motivation. "For 3000 people who just went to work one day--they just went to work and they ended up never coming home. This is our little piece of what we can do so that my kids can say we won’t forget what happened."

Original source: FoxNews
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Glaxo goes big with nation's largest rooftop solar array in York

Global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is building the largest rooftop solar project in the U.S.  at its York facility, reports Bloomberg.

The three-megawatt solar system will use 11,000 solar panels made by Suntech Power Holdings Co. and provide all of the electricity the building consumes during the year, London-based Glaxo said today in a statement.

Glaxo is trying to meet a goal of reducing electricity use 45 percent by 2015, and plans to start a second three-megawatt system at its U.S. headquarters in Pittsburgh by the end of next year, said Larry Brown, vice president of North America Supply at Glaxo’s consumer health care unit.

For the York installation, Glaxo expects to receive a $1 million grant from the state of Pennsylvania and $4.1 million in a federal tax grant, as well as generate renewable energy credits to help offset the system costs. It should pay for itself through lower power bills in five years, and the electricity is free after that, Brown said.  

Original source: Bloomberg
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Math course on environmental modeling leads to real-world solutions in Haverford Township

The Haverford Township Board of Commissioners recently recognized a pair of Bryan Mawr College students and their math professor for their work in helping the municipality get a $300,000 state grant to install a geothermal system.

"Thanks to Victor (Donnay) and his students’ assistance in obtaining this grant, the township will be able to reduce its carbon footprint; our investment will be paid off in about five years; and we will save over $2,000,000 in energy costs during the next 30 years," says Haverford Township Assistant Manager Tim Denny, who worked with Donnay and the students on the project.

(Katie) Link and (Yufang) Wang wrote the grant proposal as part of their summer research project applying mathematics to issues of sustainability.

This recognition is just the latest chapter in a collaboration that began last spring, when students from Donnay’s Mathematical Modeling in the Environment course joined with township officials to investigate environmentally friendly heating and cooling options for the soon-to-be built center.

Original source: Bryn Mawr Now
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Poconos habitat dedicated as National Wildlife Refuge

The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established by federal officials this week to protect habitat for more than 80 species of rare plants and animals, reports the Nature Conservancy.
Nearly two years ago, the boundary for the refuge was drawn to include up to 20,400 acres of land in Monroe and Northampton counties, which gave the US Fish and Wildlife Service authority to start purchasing conservation lands from willing sellers.
Earlier this month, Mary and Dominick Sorrenti of Sorrenti’s Cherry Valley Vineyards became the first, selling 185 acres to the Service. More than 100 of their 750 fellow landowners have expressed interest in adding to the refuge in the coming years, while other nearby lands have already been protected through county, municipal and conservancy programs.
Cherry Valley is only the third national wildlife refuge to be established in Pennsylvania, and the state’s first since 1972. The Sorrenti property, which includes the headwaters of Cherry Creek, will protect key wetland habitat.

Original source: The Nature Conservancy
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Pennsylvania No. 2 on solar jobs creation list

The National Solar Jobs Census ranks Pennsylvania, with 282 solar companies and 6,700 solar jobs, behind only national leader California in its survey, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

A large chunk of Pennsylvania’s calculation likely came from two southwestern Pennsylvania manufacturing projects--Solar Power Industries and Flabeg Corp.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which issues grants, loans and tax credits to projects meant to spur economic growth, Solar Power Industries promised to create 510 jobs on top of its existing 165 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Westmoreland County (inside the former Sony factory). Flabeg, which opened a 209,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Clinton Commerce Park last October, promised the DCED it would add another 300 jobs to its 85 existing positions.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Ruckno's Keystone Energy plans for 17-acre solar farm; Dallas School District on board

Luzerne-based Keystone Energy has plans to build a solar farm on 17 acres, and one of its first customers could be nearby Dallas School District, reports the Citizens Voice.

The solar farm is the latest project for the company, which installs solar panels and does retrofitting for energy efficiency. Commercial clients include Payne Printery in Dallas; InterMountain Medical Group in Kingston Township; George J. Hayden Electric in Hazleton; Grasshopper Lawns in Larksville; the office of Dr. Matthew Berger in Moosic; and Wendy's restaurant in Drums.

In addition, Keystone Energy has installed a 10-kilowatt solar panel system behind the Ruckno Construction buildings to provide its own energy.

"We are practicing what we are preaching," Keystone Energy President A.J. Bittner said.

Original source: Citizens Voice
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Helios Scientific to launch cellulosic ethanol project in Curwensville

Helios Scientific announced it will use cutting edge technology to convert cellulose from plants into affordable energy at a new facility in Curwensville, reports Gant Daily.

The site will be a demonstration facility, and will use one ton of materials a day to produce 30,000 gallons of ethanol a year. The materials used in this process will consist of (primarily) waste wood, switchgrass, and corn husks, to name a few.

As stated earlier, the site will not only produce ethanol, but will be used to demonstrate the technology to existing investors and the investment community. Helios expects this will lead to funding for the first of 10 commercial-scale facilities to be built in Pennsylvania, starting in Clearfield County in 2011.

Polite said Helios’ competitive advantage is the scientific know-how, or protocols, to convert existing technologies into the first economically viable cellulosic ethanol conversion process.

Original source: Gant Daily
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PA Nano Center announces $980,000 in research grants

The Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center is poised for its largest request for proposals that accelerate the commercialization of nano-materials research, reports Techburger.

There are two categories of funding: $30,000 grants for fast-track pre-commercialization projects and $200,000 for full commercialization projects.

The Center is a not-for-profit organization that has proven results in accelerating and supporting nanotechnology commercialization for new and enhanced products/processes critical to the U.S. economy and manufacturing base. To date, the Center has awarded more than $4 million to support the development of nanotechnology.

Original source: Techburger
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Scientists share natural gas industry concerns at Lycoming College

Scientists from various Pennsylvania institutions of higher education gathered last week to share their concerns about the environmental impact of natural gas drilling, reports the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

(Cornell University's Dr. Anthony) Ingraffia discussed the composition of water that returns to the well head after the hydrofracturing process. That water is very salty and contains metals and other materials, some of which are very toxic, he said.

Pennsylvanians need to determine the level of risk with which they are willing to live when it comes to those materials, he said.

He asked those in attendance if the rate of environmental accidents related to Marcellus drilling in the state--about 30 incidences out of about 1,900 wells drilled--is good enough.

Original source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette
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Pittsburgh mayor touts his city in Shanghai

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl talked about his city's turnaround as part of an international delegation in China to help Shanghai maintain its growth, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The mayor listed "three keys" to Pittsburgh's success: improving the skills of workers and investment in technology to keep historic industries competitive; investment in education and nonprofit support organizations like Innovation Works to encourage creativity and entrepreneurship; and investment in the arts, cultural assets and outdoor recreation financed by the 1 percent Regional Asset District tax to create a livable city "to attract and retain the best and brightest young people."

Looking ahead, and to some of the potential investors the city delegation hopes to attract during this trip, the mayor said development of Pittsburgh's energy resources will drive the city's future.

"Shanghai and Pittsburgh might appear at first to have little in common. But we do share a story of cities that in their own place and time have had an opportunity to reinvent themselves and in many ways to change the world," he said.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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State College couple's 'voyage of sustainability' hits Lake Michigan

Using an old canal boat running on solar power, a State College husband and wife are chronicling their year-long trek in a variety of North American waters for the Centre Daily Times.

We’re calling our trip a “voyage of sustainability,” because our boat is powered by the sun. But we’re also interested in other aspects of sustainable living. For example, we try to “eat locally” by shopping at farmer’s markets. In Manitowoc, Wis., we enjoyed the lively Saturday morning market with about 50 vendors, many of them Hmong immigrants. I filled my backpack to the groaning point with peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn and blueberries.

In Sheboygan, Wis., we had a delicious meal at Field to Fork, a restaurant that gets its ingredients from local farms. My breakfast sandwich featured eggs from “Yuppie Hill Farms,” topped with Big Ed’s cheese. And the small town of Algoma, Wis., is the site of an innovative project for small farmers--a community kitchen that’s certified for commercial food processing. One way to keep a small farm economically viable is to diversify, but if you want to make and sell processed products, such as jams, salsas or gourmet cheese, you can’t just use your home kitchen.

Original source: Centre Daily Times
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York will turn phosphorus in its wastewater into fertilizer

New sewage treatment technology put to use in York will reduce the amount of phosophorous released and turn its byproducts into environmentally friendly fertilizer, reports the Chesapeake Bay Journal.

The company, Ostara Nutrient Recovery technologies Inc., has pioneered a technology to turn the phosphorus removed from treated wastewater into seed-size white pellets, which will become additives in a fertilizer marketed as Crystal Green. The pellets will be mixed with fertilizer products and sold in garden stores, including several in Pennsylvania.

Ostara will charge the Pennsylvania city a $30,000 monthly fee for the technology. The company will then buy back the fertilizer, paying $100 a ton. Company and city officials estimate the arrangement will save the city about $90,000 a year.

Original source: Chesapeake Bay Journal
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Pitt, CMU make most of proximity

Major research universities aren't usually located across the street from one another, but in Pittsburgh, the city is able to double its pleasure thanks to the location of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The ascent by both institutions in various measures of academic standing may have been aided by synergies that developed in recent years between the two neighbors--Pitt a public campus with a sprawling medical complex, and CMU a private campus whose contributions in computer science, robotics and engineering stretch from the NASA space program to Hollywood back lots.

The latest indicator of that prominence was last month's release of rankings by Times Higher Education, a major London-based publication. Carnegie Mellon and Pitt placed among the world's top 100 universities, with CMU finishing 20th and Pitt placing 64th.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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A mingling of leaf-peeping and time travel

The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway is among those tourist railroads in the Northeast and New England that are increasingly busy thanks to awesome fall foliage, reports the New York Times.

Some lines tie into autumn’s splendor with pumpkin patches at stops along the way, offering cider and cookies to everyone, and pumpkins to the youngest riders. Others coordinate trains with local foliage festivals, like the Lehigh Gorge line in Jim Thorpe, Pa., which offers special two-and-a-half-hour Hometown High Bridge excursions on weekends in October.

“We were turning hundreds of people away a day,” so more trains were added last year, said Laura Kennedy, the director of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.

Original source: New York Times
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How Philadelphia's Navy Yard could lead the way in energy efficiency

Penn State vice president of research and graduate school dean Hank Foley talks about the $129 million grant his school earned to make the Philadelphia Navy Yard a national model for energy efficiency, reports Smart Planet.

We have four main tasks. The tasks will involve the retrofit. They’ll also involve the simulation and model building that can be used out in the field. We’ll be testing and implementing things that have already been developed, but bringing them together and doing the science around further development. We also have a task focused on policy. There have to be governmental policies that incentivize the use of some of these materials and technologies because they’ll be costly. They’ll be more costly than what we do right now. The last task is workforce development. We need to help builders doing construction, architects, (understand) how you do this stuff, how it’ll work, how you get the technology.

Original source: Smart Planet
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Small federal agency in PA hits brakes on Marcellus Shale drilling rush

The Delaware River Basin Commission, an obscure-but-potent federal agency has imposed a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling as it prepares regulations, reports the New York Times.

That makes the state-federal hybrid agency one of the first regulatory bodies to initiate a moratorium on drilling and marks the most skeptical approach yet to driller's claims that producing gas from shale is perfectly safe for human health and the environment.

DRBC executive director Carol Collier said Pennsylvania and New York regulators do not have strong authority to regulate water issues, and the commission can fill in the gaps to protect the Delaware watershed.

Original source: New York Times

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Ben Franklin Technology Partners announces new investments

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania announced investments in six companies totaling more than $480,000, reports the Morning Call.

HealthOneMed, Inc., Allentown, Lehigh County: $50,000 to complete a marketing plan for an automated pill dispensing system for patients that includes audible notification that it is time to take pills and telephone notification to caregivers when a pill is not taken on schedule.

Original source: Morning Call
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Energy institute in Wilkes-Barre with focus on natural gas drilling to be created with $1M grant

Wilkes University, King's College and the Earth Conservancy will jointly operate a local energy institute focused on natural gas drilling issues in the Marcellus Shale, reports the Times-Tribune.

Staff at the institute will research natural gas drilling's impact on the local community and environment and help with problem-solving for issues that arise. The institute also will enhance public outreach efforts to promote safe and environmentally responsible drilling, (U.S. Rep. Paul) Kanjorski, D-11, Nanticoke, said at a press conference Monday at Wilkes University.

The $1 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory is seed money for the project and "the first of what we hope of many, many millions of dollars over the next five years," Mr. Kanjorski said. Over time, the project could cost $50 million to $100 million, he said after the press conference.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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Penn State researchers work to reduce air and water pollutants by altering the diets of dairy cows

Penn State's professors of Dairy Science are studying sophisticated diets to reduce the harmful pollutants created by cow manure that are running off into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Washington Post reports.
The stakes are high. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed mandatory reductions in pollution from Pennsylvania and the five other states in the bay's watershed, each of which is in the midst of determining where the cuts will be made.

Agriculture is a prime target. It accounts for a large share of pollution, in the forms of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. Livestock manure is loaded with nitrogen, which is useful as fertilizer but is an environmental threat when it washes into waterways. Along with phosphorus, nitrogen fosters the growth of excess algae, eventually robbing the water of oxygen.
Original Source: The Washington Post
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PA's clean energy mix has created 1,400 jobs

With $20.5 million in state and federal investments for various clean energy projects, nearly 1,500 jobs have been created and 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity have been saved, reports the Earth Techling blog.

Among the array of projects highlighted by Rendell are turning wood- and paper-based waste into cleaner burning fuel cubes that can be used in place of coal; installing solar panels and energy efficiency programs at a mix of schools; constructing a a 15 MW, $65 million solar photovoltaic project which will be the largest solar electric generating facility in the eastern part of the United States; converting 20 tons per day of non-source separated waste plastic into 3,000 gallons per day of liquid fuel that will meet the American Standard Test Method standard for low sulfur fuel; and installation of an innovative energy storage system to maximize the recapture of existing regenerative braking capacity from trains.

Original source: Earth Techling
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Philly's B Lab and benefit corporations catch on in Houston

Philadelphia-based B Lab, which is spreading the benefit corporation gospel by certifying companies as socially and environmentally responsible, is gaining momentum in Texas, reports CultureMap.

Hardik Savalia, who works at a non-profit that was founded to address this dichotomy, tells CultureMap "the infrastructure is preventing these companies from succeeding. Fundamentally, as a business owner, your one duty is to maximize shareholder value. It makes it difficult to move on, sell your shares and maintain the social characteristics."

So nearly four years ago, his company, B Lab, was founded. B Lab is a non-profit that rates companies on 180 factors of do-gooded-ness, from transparency to employee benefits to sustainability, and expands their legal obligations (with the help of three global law firms) to include stakeholders. Significantly, its three founders did not have non-profit backgrounds.

Original source: CultureMap

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Clean Technology Resource Center established for PA small businesses

A Clean Technology Resource Center will provide business management assistance for small businesses throughout Pennsylvania who are developing new clean energy technology or use renewable energy sources, reports NorthCentralPA.com.

Services include evaluating market opportunities, developing business plans, sourcing material and securing financing, including funds available through Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

"Demand for clean technology is driving the growth of an emerging global industry sector," Christian Conroy, State Director of the Pennsylvania SBDC, said. "The Clean Technology Resource Center underscores the SBDC's commitment to help small firms compete by harnessing the enormous potential of technologies that will position Pennsylvania as a leader in technology development."

Original source: NorthCentralPa.com

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Wind turbine company searches for manufacturing site in Scranton

WindTamer Corp., based in Rochester, N.Y, began touring facilities in Scranton as they plan a move that could bring 400 jobs to the region over the next three years, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports.

"As we continue to evolve, we'd like to bring more of the key processes in house. Our thought is that we’d build those key components here," Schmitz said. "We think that Scranton is a very good next step for us."

The company has put nearly 50 different turbines in various locations across the Rochester area and sees small wind turbines, those that produce 100 kilowatts of power or less, as a viable niche for commercial, residential and agricultural growth.

Original Source: Times Leader

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Festival at Hartwood to spotlight green living

The Allegheny Green and Innovation Festival, a free event highlighting sustainable living and innovation in Allegheny County, will be held Saturday, reports the Valley News Dispatch.

"The Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival is an exciting new event that will celebrate our region's environmental and economic transformation," said Dan Onorato, county executive and Democratic candidate for governor. "Residents will have the opportunity to learn how to live a 'greener' lifestyle and see demonstrations of innovative technology developed right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Our region has become a leader in environmental stewardship, as well as green and innovative technology, as we're excited to celebrate this new economy."

The "zero-waste" event will feature earth-friendly food, "green living" demonstrations, entertainment and children's activities.  According to Onorato, residents will be able to learn simple steps to conserve energy and water in their homes and how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Original source: Valley News Dispatch

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Penn State-led research consortium wins $129M to develop energy innovation hub in Philly's Navy Yard

A research consortium led by Penn State received a highly competitive grant this week for up to $129 million to develop an "energy innovation hub" at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Foley, who will lead the Penn State research team also including researchers from Princeton, Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and other institutions, said the project will focus on creating more energy efficient buildings and training workers to both retrofit and do new construction in the efficient ways.

The grant, to be paid out over the next five years, is the largest in Penn State's history. It largely comes from the Department of Energy with $7 million from three other federal agencies.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Butter believe it: Philly's Black Gold Biofuels turns creamy sculpture into biodiesel

Using massive butter sculptures from the annual Pennsylvania farm show, the USDA partnered with Philadelphia's Black Gold Biofuels to repurpose the butter as biodiesel, the New York Times reports.
The impetus was an 800-pound sculpture of Benjamin Franklin  and the Liberty Bell. Each year the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in Harrisburg, commissions a masterpiece made out of butter. In 2007, the organizers solicited suggestions for what to do with the work after the farm show ended.

Dr. Haas submitted the idea of making biodiesel fuel out of it, and that is what was done. “It had never been reported in the scientific literature,” he said.

Original Source: The New York Times

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St. Mary's brewery works not to can bottling tradition

The 138 year-old, family-owned Straub Brewery needs customers to return thousands of empty cases so it can continue to sell 12- and 16-ounce returnable bottles, reports the Associated Press.

"It's not that we're totally into 'green,' but we think it's the right thing to do," said Dan Straub, great-grandson of company founder Peter Straub and the brewery's semiretired vice president. "Our philosophy is, 'Why recycle when you can reuse?'"

One other brewer--the nation's oldest, D.G. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville--still sells and gathers returnables. But it expects to phase them out by summer's end, leaving Straub as what experts believe is the last holdout in the U.S.

Original source: Associated Press
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Pocono Raceway's massive solar farm goes live

After five years of research and planning, Northeast PA's Pocono Raceway officially opened its 25-acre solar farm last week, making it the largest stadium solar facility in the world, CNN reports.

After research, track officials determined that a parking lot adjacent to the track would be the best placement for the panels.

The solar farm sprung into action this weekend with a visit by NASCAR's top racing circuit, the Sprint Cup Series, as well as the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA circuits.

Original Source: CNN

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Berks lawmaker hopes to turn algae into jetfuel with biofuel production facility

With the help of three corporate energy investors, state representative David Kessler is making a play to build an algae gasification plant on former coal mining lands, the Pottstown Mercury reports.
The idea is for the new plant to be located next to a coal-burning power plant. The carbon dioxide from that plant would be captured and instead of contributing to climate change, would be pumped into a series of enclosed 400-foot "raceways" where it would accelerate the growth of the algae, which is a champion carbon absorber.

The oxygen released by the algae would be captured and pumped back into the power plant to make its burning of coal cleaner and more efficient, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing the production of electricity by between 5 percent to 15 percent using the same amount of coal.
Original Source: Pottstown Mercury
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Penn State research team creates mass production method for biomimetic surfaces

Penn State researchers announced the creation of a mass production method for blowfly eyes, a chief ingredient in biomimetic surfaces, Science Centric reports.

'Bioreplication began about 2001 or 2002,' said Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Godfrey Binder Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics. 'All the techniques currently available are not conducive to mass replications. In many cases you can make as many replicas as you want, but you need an insect for each replication. This is not good for industrial purposes.'

Lakhtakia, working with Drew Patrick Pulsifer, graduate student in engineering science and mechanics; Carlo G. Pantano, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering and director of Penn State's Materials Research Institute; and Raul Jose Martin-Palma, professor of applied physics, Universidad Autonomia de Madrid, Spain, developed a method to create macroscale moulds or dies that retain nanoscale features.

Original Source: Science Centric

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PA NanoMaterials center awards $450,000 to five tech firms

Companies and researchers from across the state earned a total of $450,000 in funding form the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Recipients in the latest round of funding, which focused on commercializing nanotechnology applications for new energy solutions, included:

Crystalplex Corp.: Awarded $130,000 with a company match of $65,000 to develop its quantum dot light-emitting diode prototypes. The company is based in Pittsburgh.

Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Philadelphia launches speed dating for solar powered citizens

Already boasting some of the most favorable solar incentives in the country, Pennsylvania announced a partnership and group-rate discount program with One Block off the Grid, a for-profit solar company that helps interested buyers find an installer, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting.

Consider it matchmaking for the solar-inhibited--with a chance to save some money. But you'll have to hurry. There's an element of speed-dating involved.

The solar-inclined have three months to sign up for a 15 percent discount on a system and free educational advice through the latest phase of a program being rolled out across the country by One Block Off the Grid, a for-profit San Francisco broker. 

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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The Electric City looking to reduce usage as rates rise

As energy rates rise, Scranton is looking for ways to curb its electricity usage, conducting energy audits at city buildings and examining alternative fuel sources, the Times-Tribune reports.

Effective July 1, Glacial Energy Inc., which has locations in several states, began to provide energy to the city for $160,000 a year, replacing PPL Electric Utilities. The city expects to save $60,653 with Glacial Energy.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Energy of Dickson City also is conducting an audit of the city's infrastructure in a separate project funded by $718,500 in federal stimulus money.

Original Source: Times Tribune

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Central PA transit authorities study routes, fare systems to connect remote counties

Central Pa. transit authorities are looking to encourage more citizens to take the bus as they look for ways to make bus travel simpler through technology, from changing the fare system to adding additional routes, WFMZ reports.
The ultimate goal is a system of stops and connections spanning from Berks to Franklin County in central Pennsylvania.

The study, which is funded by a state grant, will examine technology that would make fares universal from bus system to bus system. It will also determine how much regionalization would cost and look at ways to pay for it.
Original Source: WFMZ
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Pennsylvania awards $18m for 24MW of solar projects

Pennsylvania's solar energy program awarded $18 million that will support 37 projects, installing 24 megawatts of generating capacity statewide, reports BrighterEnergy.
The funded solar projects are forecast to generate at least 26,600 megawatt-hours of electricity each year--enough for around 2,700 Pennsylvania homes.
The systems are expected to save $5.2 million a year in energy costs over the next 20 years.
Among the projects awarded funding, an $8.6 million solar photovoltaic array planned for a senior housing community in East Whiteland will receive a $2.7 million grant. The 1.8MW ground-mounted facility will generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year, saving $286,000 in energy costs each year.
Original source: Brighter Energy
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A shale gas boom brings change and stress to a quiet town

The New York Times takes a fairly balanced look at the impact of natural gas exploration in Marcellus Shale on Williamsport and surrounding counties.

Coal mining and timber harvesting ruled northern Appalachia for more than a century. Here, natural gas remains a bit foreign, an energy frontier. In some corners of the energy industry, tapping the shale gas has become every bit as enticing and adventurous as exploring in the Arctic and the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The gas rush has generated a frenzy in the region over the past two years. The desire to buy land and buy it fast, before the drilling begins, is every bit as strong to some in rural Pennsylvania as the housing bubble was in cities and suburbs across America. That bubble burst. Whether this one will remains part of the adventure.

Original source: New York Times
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New study offers tips for community farmers

A study of Farmers Markets finds that many small town farmers are traveling to urban areas to sell their wares, Salon.com reports.
According to the latest report by the USDA, the number of markets in the country tripled since the mid-1990s. They're being touted as the panacea for everything from the obesity epidemic to the exploitation of farmers by big-chain supermarkets. Locavores love them. Environmentalists adore them. Raw foodies can't do without them.
Linda Aleci, a historian and co-founder of the Local Economy Center at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, undertook a three-year study of the farmers' market in her city. Her findings suggested that the local farmers' market -- serving a poor, food-insecure community -- was suffering from the growth of markets in the Philadelphia metro region and in Lancaster County. Salon spoke to her to find out more.
Original Source: Salon.com
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State budget office employs online suggestion box

The Pennsylvania State budget office has received 855 ideas from ordinary citizens utilizing the office's online suggestion box, the York Daily Record is reporting.

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester, was one of five Democrats from the state House of Representatives who developed the project. He said state lawmakers might or might not take the suggestions submitted.

In fact, given the proximity to the June 30 deadline for a new state budget, it's likely that any suggestions would be adopted for next year's state budget rather than this one. Still, DePasquale said he and his colleagues figured any viable suggestions they glean from the site would make the project worth it.

"Every dime you can save, you should," DePasquale said.

Original Source: York Daily Record

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Smithfield commissions wind power study

The original landowner of Country Club of the Poconos is working with Middle Smithfield Township in Monroe County to conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of wind power, the Pocono Record is reporting.

GreenSky Technologies LLC, whose CEO is William "Dee" Rake, will evaluate potential wind turbine locations and might ultimately develop the project. Rake, an architect, is the original CCP property owner and a former longtime member of the Middle Smithfield Township Planning Commission.

Supervisors Chairman Scott Schaller says placement of a few wind generators along the higher elevations of CCP, also known as Big Ridge, could lower energy bills for township facilities and those of residents by 15 percent to 20 percent.

Original Source: Pocono Record

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South Hills lab makes tools to test carbon capture

Scientists have used technology at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park to improve the detection of carbon dioxide in underground storage, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Capturing carbon dioxide from pollution sources such as coal-fired power plants and factory smokestacks and storing it underground is seen as one way of reducing emissions that some scientists say are linked to global warming.

"We're leading the carbon capture and sequestration program for the whole federal government," said David Anna, a spokesman for the National Energy Technology Laboratory at South Park.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Foundations aid Pittsburgh YWCA's green roof

The YWCA is the latest building getting a green roof as part of a campaign by area charitable foundations to make downtown Pittsburgh more environmentally friendly, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

When its roof is completed, the YWCA will join the Highmark Building, Fifth Avenue Place and the Heinz 57 Center among Downtown buildings with green roofs, she said. The Allegheny County Office Building also is installing one.

Green roofs use plants to soak up rain and reduce runoff, cut heating and air conditioning costs, make the building quieter and improve air quality. Reducing runoff is especially important in Allegheny County because storm and sewage overflow is released into the rivers during hard rains.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Chesco firm to study Marcellus Shale wastewater treatment

Advanced GeoServices Corp., based in West Chester, received approval from the National Science Foundation to commercialize a treatment process developed at Lehigh University for water used in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, reports the Daily Times.

Matthew DeMarco, the project leader for Advanced GeoServices, said the technology the company is working on wouldn’t prevent a well blowout but it would address the water treatment concerns of environmentalists.

The new treatment technology was developed by Lehigh researchers Arup SenGupta and Sudipta Sarkar.

It treats flow-back wastewater generated by the hydro-fracturing process, often referred to as frac water, and the water generated during ongoing gas production activity.

Original source: Daily Times
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Pittsburgh under deconstruction: Transformazium

Greater Pittsburgh is fast becoming a hotbed for deconstruction, or selective dismantling and reuse of abandoned properties, reports Pop City.
"All reuse is a form of recycling, but not all recycling is reuse," says Brian Swearingen, the head of Construction Junction's deconstruction crew. "In deconstruction and reuse, we're taking that same material, but using it for the same purpose, or slightly altering it for another purpose.  When you do that, you're saving energy, because you have less transportation costs, less energy costs, and no re-manufacturing costs, which are high.  A good example is a metal table.  If you recycle that at a landfill, you have to put it on a truck, probably put it on a train, possibly put it on a ship, and send it maybe halfway around the world to make what is oftentimes a similar product."  
Original source: Pop City
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Pottstown pushes for infrastructure investment

A Pottstown citizen's group is pressing Harrisburg and Washington for infrastructure dollars that will improve quality of life for Pa.'s suburban residents and create jobs, reports the Pottstown Mercury
The meeting was called by the First Suburbs advocacy group that is pressing Harrisburg and Washington to start devoting attention, and tax dollars to the places this country's citizens have called home the longest.

Paravis--a vocal advocate for driving development dollars into Pottstown as a way of preserving the greenspace that surrounds it and a co-founder of the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee--was among the featured speakers Thursday.
Original Source: Pottstown Mercury
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Lavender festival blooms in southern PA

A couple near Gettysburg have created the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival, which begins on Friday and is expected to draw 3,000 visitors, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The Wajdas purchased Willow Pond Farm, just outside Gettysburg, in 1995. Although it began as an apple orchard, by the time the Wajdas came to it, the farm was 30 empty acres waiting to be filled. They chose to sow acres of fragrant lavender, more often identified with Provence, France, than Fairfield because of its versatility.

"What I'd like is to have every variety of lavender in the world," said Tom Wajda, 69. "We have 110 varieties now, and I'm guessing there are 500 varieties of lavender."

Original source: Baltimore Sun
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New bi-partisan state caucus will focus on jobs, economy

A new bi-partisan caucus will focus on creating and sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania and will focus on introducing legislation that will spur business and sustainable job growth.

State Sens. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery, and Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, will co-chair the bipartisan caucus, which they said would meet regularly to consider legislative solutions to attract and retain businesses, foster economic development and create family-sustaining jobs.

“We cannot sit idly by and continue to watch Pennsylvania jobs move out of state or out of the country,” Boscola said.“This jobs caucus will work to create an environment where businesses can thrive and flourish, and in turn expand their work force.”

Original Source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Philadelphia company attempts to bring solar leasing to PA

A Philadelphia-based company is attempting to take solar in a new direction, reducing initial costs through solar leasing, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The latest effort is by partners experienced in solar leasing. Middle Atlantic Solar Leasing L.P. is the creation of Gemstone Group Inc., a renewable-energy investment-banking firm in Wayne, and AFC First Financial Corp. in Allentown.

Homeowners and small businesses would be able to forgo the significant upfront costs associated with buying a solar-energy system--typically $20,000 to $30,000 for an average home--and instead make monthly payments of about $120 over the 15-year life of the standard lease.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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Pennsylvania College of Technology receives grant to expand green jobs training

Pennsylvania College of Technology received a grant this week to expand their weatherization and green jobs training, reports the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

The 2245 Reach Road location has been awarded $916,981 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, thanks to landing a national competitive grant the college applied for from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The grant is meant to expand the state's weatherization training programs and establish a new weatherization training center at Bucks County Community College in Newton.

Original Source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette

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Pittsburgh faced problems much like Detroit's and overcame them, leaders say

Collaboration and persistence were the themes shared by representatives from Pittsburgh who were in Detroit recently to share strategies for economic recovery, reports Crain's Detroit Business.

“Fundamentally we diversified our economy... (it was a process) driven by innovation with an underpinning of government, business, academic and personal leadership,” said Dennis Yablonsky, chief executive officer of regional group The Allegheny Conference.

“I want to reemphasize that this was a 30-year undertaking.”

Many of the problems Pittsburgh faced are echoed in Detroit. It was a one-industry town, built around the steel business. It had an aging core city and 10 counties in a major metro area competing for resources.

Original source: Crain's Detroit Business
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Human-powered 'Pedi-cabs' hit Philadelphia streets

Recumbent tricycle taxis hit the streets of Philadelphia this week for a three-month test period, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

After years of planning and waiting for legislative permission, Philadelphia's pedicabs finally hit the streets Saturday.

"Here's the green job sector of Philadelphia," said Sean Leahy, 22, freshly graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in environmental science. He was the first of four drivers who took passengers for their maiden voyages on the canopied Velo-Park pedicabs. He plans to do the work full time until September, when this summer's test season ends.

Original Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Northeast PA grocery chains extend gas promotions

Northeast PA grocery chains Price Chopper and Weis Markets have partnered with gas stations to offer customers fuel savings and have extended promotions due to increased demand, reports the Times Leader.

Some thought the promotion would end once gas prices dropped. Those prices have indeed dipped, more than $1 from where they were just two years ago, but the promotion is still going strong.

Though Price Chopper wasn’t the first grocer to provide the gas discount deal, it was the trendsetter in this market when it instituted the deal here on May 8, 2008. Since then, three other local stores have followed suit.

Original Source: Times-Leader

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Lehigh Valley plans for government greening

The Lehigh Valley unveiled plans this week for an administration building complete with rooftop gardens and solar panels. The effort would be the greenest municipal project in Lehigh Valley history, reports the Morning Call.
Supervisors got their first glimpse of the multimillion-dollar plans during a special meeting Tuesday with their architectural firm Kimmel Bogrette of Conshohocken, Montgomery County. Government offices would be housed in a 13,000-square-foot building with a garden rooftop. A breezeway would link it to a 7,000-square-foot public works building with a bank of solar panels on its roof.

The township hopes to break ground on the complex, which is expected to cost between $3.5 and $4.6 million, later this year. Once the project is completed, the existing structure would be razed.
Original Source: Morning Call
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Lessons for Bluegrass in Steel Town's story

Kentucky business and civic leaders traveled to Pittsburgh last month to study the region's transformation, reports Western PA native Shawn Bannon of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Our visitors learned how we picked ourselves up after the collapse of the steel trade in the early 1980s--how we built a stronger, diverse regional economy based on existing industries and innovation out of the academic and medical communities; how arts and culture drove downtown revitalization; how we cleaned up our skies, rivers and brownfields, and how we organized leadership to create a more welcoming business climate and improve our quality of life.

But what's not often so thoroughly examined is the deliberate effort that went into changing our region's image across the country and around the world once that transformation was in full swing.

Original source: Lexington Herald-Leader
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Walkable Community Project team does field study in Muncy

A committee aimed at improving pedestrian and bicycle safety did a field study this week on streetscapes with the help of PennDOT, reports the Muncy Luminary.
Brian Auman, Landscape Architect and Principal Planner for SEDA-Council of Governments planned a field visit with Christopher King, transportation planner with PennDot and Shawn Stille, a PennDot civil engineer to help assess the needs in the Main Street business district, the community gateway at Muncy Valley Hospital, and the truck access area to the Industrial Park area.

The group met at the Borough parking lot at 4 p.m. and proceeded to the corner of E.Water and Main Streets to observe the traffic patterns, determine curb and sidewalk street scape improvements and implement better lighting.

Original Source: Muncy Luminary

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Westinghouse headquarters spurs $500M worth of growth in Cranberry

Westinghouse's new nuclear headquarters has spurred $500 million worth of growth in Cranberry Township, Butler County, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Cranberry Promenade, a $30 million development of 218,658-square feet of space that will contain retail shops, including an Aldi grocery store, and 170,720 square feet of office space. A first phase will build about 70,000 square feet of space, with about 70 percent retail and 30 percent office, with a ground breaking planned for late summer or early fall. Plans for a second phase include office space in a campus-like setting, surrounded by a central park. Developer is Warner Pacific Properties of Sturgis, Mich.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review
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Pepsi grant eyed for downtown Wilkes-Barre

Wilkes-Barre's Downtown Residents Association is building support for a Pepsi Refresh Grant to put a new downtown plan into action, the Times Leader reports.

The Pepsi Co. is giving away millions of dollars to community projects, and the local group wants to finish in the top 10 of projects to have the funding to hold free cultural events on the River Common.

Besides the events, the Cultural Council identified several goals if it receives the Pepsi grant: to build a sense of community in neighborhoods, educate the public on the Susquehanna River, program a year-long season of events and positively influence people’s lives.

Original Source: Times Leader

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Meadville's Allegheny College to run solely on wind power

Meadville's Allegheny College will run solely on wind power come January, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The Meadville liberal arts college said yesterday that it signed an agreement with Constellation Energy to buy enough wind energy credits to supply 100 percent of its electricity needs during the next three years.

The college typically pays about $1.1 million a year for electricity, and the all-wind contract will tack on about 3 percent, or $25,000, said Dave McInally, the school's vice president for finance and planning.

"What we are buying are renewable energy certificates for wind power generated in the U.S.," McInally said. "It may not be those particular electrons coming here," he added, but the power the campus uses will be offset by wind power somewhere else.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Report shows Lehigh Valley economy is on the rise

The Lehigh Valley Purchasing Managers Survey, released this week, shows several signs of recovery for the region's economy, the Morning call reports.
The Lehigh Valley economy is on the road to recovery, with more companies hiring people than shedding workers for the first time since July 2008.

The news doesn't mean unemployed workers will suddenly find a vast number of jobs to choose from. But it does reverse the troubling trend of their ranks swelling while opportunities shrank. And for those working who feared they could be laid off, such a trend, in general, makes that less likely.
Original Source: Morning Call
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Feel the Power: Training Camp kicks off busy summer for Power of 32

A training camp kicks off busy summer for Power of 32, a regional visioning effort, reports Pop City.
Power of 32 is the largest regional visioning project ever attempted in our area. It was announced last year, and is a two-year process designed to involve every resident in "creating a shared vision for the region's best future."

State and county lines are often unnecessary roadblocks to cooperation, says Selena Schmidt, Power of 32's executive director.

"We all breathe same air, use the same water, drive the same highways, and we get our ideas from the same amazing group of 48 colleges and universities," Schmidt says. "The only thing we find at these artificial boundaries are problems, not solutions."
Original source: Pop City
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Kitchen Magic bringing jobs with move to Valley

Kitchen Magic, a kitchen remodel company that employs 125 local workers, is relocating from the just across the state line in the Phillipsburg, N.J. area to Nazareth, where it will add another 64 jobs at its new Lehigh Valley site in the next few years, according to the Morning Call.
When it outgrew its digs on Route 22 in Lopatcong Township, N.J., the company sought help in relocating. That help came from the state and locally from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Kitchen Magic's manufacturing shop and showroom are now operating in a former garment-sewing factory at 4243 Lonat Drive, near the intersection of Routes 22 and 191 in Lower Nazareth Township.
"The state of Pennsylvania was instrumental in being very business-friendly and rolling out the welcome mat for us," said Brett Bacho, president of the company. "It's worked out really well."
Original Source: Morning Call
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Virgin Green Fund to partner with King of Prussia water filtration firm

Quench, a King of Prussia water filtration company has partnered with the Virgin Green Fund to reduce plastic waste in offices, the New York Times reports.

Quench water systems are better for the environment because they do not require trucks to crisscross cities and deliver jugs, and they alleviate health concerns about drinking water that has been exposed to plastic for long periods, said Dan Kuzmak, its chief executive.

“We think water is the next oil, that it is the most underpriced asset on the face of the planet,” said Shai Weiss, a Virgin partner. Virgin Green Fund led a $13 million investment in the company.

Original Source: New York Times

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Tastycake moves to new South Philly digs

Tastycake has moved operations to a new, 350,000 sq. ft., LEED-certified facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard this week, FOX29 is reporting.

Company Vice President Autumn Bayles explained the building is one story which will make the flow much easier. 4.3-million cakes, pies, cookies, and donuts are made at the plant everyday.

A glass mezzanine was built above the baking area so tour groups can visit.

Bayles vows everything will taste the same even though everything is being made in a new facility. The company did a lot of testing and no one could tell a difference.

Original Source: FOX29

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Pittsburgh and Harrisburg-Carlisle feel the "most livable" love

Pittsburgh and Harrisburg-Carlisle rank No. 1 and No. 5, respectively, in top 10 "most livable" cities in rankings by Forbes.com, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Economically, cities were ranked both by their five-year income growth and current unemployment rate, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The stronger the income growth and the lower the unemployment, the higher each city ranked.

"Jobs don't mean everything, though," the article said. "A city is more livable if a family's income goes further. Using cost of living data from Moody's Economy.com, we ranked cities higher that had lower costs for everyday goods."
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Pennsylvania ranked among the highest job increases in the nation

In the month of March, PA recorded some of the highest employment increases in the nation, adding over 20,000 jobs, the Associated Press reports.
In its monthly look at state job trends, the Labor Department said Friday that Maryland led the country with a gain of 35,800 payroll jobs last month. Virginia and Pennsylvania also posted increases that topped 20,000 in the month.
By contrast, Michigan continued to have the nation's highest unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, and also led the country in job losses in March with a decline of 9,500. Nevada and Florida also posted sizable job losses and were among 17 states recording job losses during the month.
Nationally, the unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March while payrolls grew by 162,000, the biggest gain in three years.
Original Source: The Associated Press
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Alliance Sanitary Landfill's gas conservation pipeline is up and running

This week, Alliance Sanitary Landfill's gas conservation pipeline began pumping 5,300 cubic feet of gas per minute from decomposing garbage to PEI Power Corp.'s Archbald plant off Power Boulevard, generating enough electricity to power about 13,200 homes, the Scranton Times-Tribune reports.

"Its been working consistently for several weeks," said John Hambrose, Alliance spokesman. "It's a fantastic project, and it's a great environmental project."

Alliance expects the gas plant to operate at least 20 years after the last load of waste is put in the landfill and it is capped. "It provides tremendous energy," and offsets fossil fuel use, Mr. Hambrose said.

Original Source: Scranton Times-Tribune

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Liberty Property Trust awarded for sustainability efforts

This week, Maastricht University--a Netherlands-based university--released an international study which ranked Pennsylvania development firm Liberty Property Trust first among U.S. publicly-traded development firms in the area of successfully implementing environmental policy, the Triad Business Journal reports.
Liberty Property Trust is headquartered in Pennsylvania and controls about 3 million square feet of office, flex and industrial space in the Triad.

Liberty's Carolinas portfolio includes three LEED-certified buildings, including the Bull Ridge Distribution Center in Greensboro, which was one of the first speculative warehouse developments in the country to achieve LEED certification.

Marcellus Shale Policy Conference set at Duquesne

Developing an effective, comprehensive and consistent regulatory framework for the development of the Marcellus Shale formation will be the goal at the Marcellus Shale Policy Conference on May 3-4 at the Power Center at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, reports NorthCentralPA.com.

The objective of the Marcellus Shale Policy Conference is to convene well-informed members of oil & gas industry, environmental organizations, state and local government, science community, and other interested stakeholders, to engage in active discussion on the currently unresolved challenges imbedded in the development of the Marcellus Shale formation.  The Conference will not be just a series of presentations - it will be an open interactive dialog.

Original source: NorthCentralPA.com

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College connects courses, gas industry

Pennsylvania College of Technology has begun offering numerous programs that provide basic skills needed for employment in the Marcellus Shale region, reports the Sun-Gazette.

The process of forging a partnership with industry companies and contractors began about a year ago when a Penn College team, in partnership with the Penn State Cooperative Extension, launched the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center to act as a central resource for workforce training.

"We wanted to understand the industry because there wasn't a lot of history on it here locally," said Jeffrey F. Lorson, industrial technology specialist for the center.

Original source: Sun-Gazette

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Entrepreneurs changing the image of Appalachia

Pennsylvania’s Appalachian neighbors are overcoming longstanding stereotypes by becoming an emerging hotbed for high tech and alternative energy startups, reports Reuters.

Entrepreneurs like Craig Newbold, a software developer who grew up locally in the town of East Liverpool along the Ohio River between Youngstown and Pittsburgh, are betting on the area's future. Newbold returned home after retiring from an information technology career in Seattle to found software development firm Newbold Technologies in 2003, with the aim of creating local opportunities.

"To me, areas like this have a lot of diamonds in the rough," said Newbold, whose father made his living running a local filling station in the area once known as the ‘pottery capital of the world.' "People that want to live here have the aptitude and the ability, but need to be developed."

Original source: Reuters

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Wind power gains steam in Pennsylvania

The American Wind Energy Association says wind power came on strong in Pennsylvania in 2009, with the electricity generated by windmills more than doubling, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Last year, more than 387 megawatts of wind power capacity was built in the state, with five new wind farms coming online, according to the association. That increased the state's wind capacity to 748 megawatts. One megawatt of wind power generates enough electricity to power about 300 homes.

"The wind industry knows Pennsylvania wants wind, that we will work with the industry, because we want the jobs, and we want the clean energy," said John Hanger, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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HACC responds to region's needs

Demand and the ability to respond quickly with degree programs and on-site training has Harrisburg Area Community College adapting to a rapidly changing business world, reports the Patriot-News.

An associate degree in Green Technology is starting in the fall. Noncredit training in solar power is under way at Energy Systems and Installation in Jonestown.

HACC also is a partner in the Green Center of Central Pennsylvania, offering training in solar and wind energy and geothermal systems there and at the Midtown Campus in Harrisburg.

Original source: Patriot-News

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Union Township firm sky high over energy project

Commercial-scale solar integrator Energy Systems and Installation of Union Township signed a contract this week to build a 1-megawatt solar array in Schuylkill County, reports the Lebanon Daily News.

When it's completed, likely in late summer or early fall, the array will be the second largest in the state, behind a 3-megawatt system in Bucks County. The $5.5 million Sterman Masser project will cover 6 acres and provide about 40 percent of the plant's electricity needs, the equivalent of powering 95 homes.

Sterman Massar received a $1 million grant through the Commonwealth Finance Authority, part of a $650 million Energy Independence Fund that Gov. Ed Rendell signed in 2008, according to an ESI news release. Another $1.6 million came from a U.S. Treasury Grant, a program established as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year. The Masser family and PNC Bank are providing the remaining financing.

Original source: Lebanon Daily News

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How science could spark a second Green Revolution

Pennsylvania professor David Lynch believes a Green Revolution can offer real solutions to feeding a rapidly expanding world population in less-than-ideal conditions, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

In projects around the world, the professor of plant nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues are trying to develop crops whose root systems can resist drought and take up fertilizer from the soil more efficiently.

"The idea that we could fertilize and irrigate our way out of this problem was the first Green Revolution" led by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Norman Borlaug and others, Lynch says. The second Green Revolution is going to be how we get plants to grow productively with less water and artificial fertilizer, he says.

Original source: Christian Science Monitor
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NEPA’s new takes on energy

Interest in alternative energy and conservation is growing in Northeast PA, and job opportunities are following, reports the Times Leader.

Some forward-thinking Luzerne County residents embraced sustainable concepts years ago, and alternative energy is touching industries throughout the region.

Jim Abrams’ EthosGen is a major reason for that. Four years after the King’s College graduate founded the company, its offices have moved to the Twin Stacks Center in Dallas and expanded its collaborations to include engineering firms, local colleges and the military.

Original source: Times Leader
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ChargeCar hits the road running, let the conversion to electric begin

ChargeCar, a Carnegie Mellon University project, converts standard car engines to electric rechargables, reports Pop City.
Illah Nourbakhsh is standing in the high bay of the Planetary Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon, talking about the electric-powered Rav4 he's been driving for years.

"I'll be in my electric car, driving along at 65 mph, listening to NPR about how electric cars can't reach highway speeds," he laughs. "It's hilarious. The press just hasn't caught on to the fact that they've been reliable now for 10 years!"
Original source: Pop City
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Westmoreland groups to share $1.2M in stimulus funding

Federal stimulus funding distributed among more than two dozen Westmoreland County programs is expected to create 75 jobs, reports the Tribune-Review.

Two businesses will receive nearly 30 percent of the funding, with $230,000 going to the creation of (Westmoreland Community Action’s) County Demo Depot and $110,000 to Advanced Geo Solutions (Green Initiative) of Greensburg.

Westmoreland Community Action is starting a nonprofit material reuse business with Demo Depot. It seeks to reduce waste by recycling building materials such as windows, doors, sinks and lights. The federal money will help in the search for a warehouse and will pay for staff and equipment.

Original source: Tribune-Review
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With gas deal, Consol strives to turn coal green

Consol Energy announced a $3.5 billion deal on Monday to acquire 1.5 million acres of potential natural gas fields and 9,000 existing wells from Dominion Resources, with a third of the acreage coming in the Marcellus shale region, reports Forbes.
Most gassy deals of late have involved global oil and gas supermajors, like ExxonMobil buying XTO Energy, and BP and Total picking up assets from Chesapeake Energy and others. Consol, in contrast is a coal company. What does a dirty-fuel player like Consol want with a clean-burning fuel like natural gas?
Diversification, for starters. "Gas is a perfect hedge against draconian moves on coal in the short term," Consol Chief Executive J. Brett Harvey reportedly said Monday. Yet for Consol, the thrust into gas isn't so much to diversify its coal assets, but to complement them. Harvey says he has no intention of reducing Consol's coal output, rather the goal is in part to glean some green cred while figuring out ways to get more profit out of coal regions it has worked for decades. A long-term goal: determine the potential for using coalbeds like a sponge to soak up and sequester carbon dioxide.
Original source: Forbes
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3D glasses to be made in Shamokin; global demand will produce 100 jobs here

Shamokin’s D/E Associates could hire up to 100 people by year’s end thanks to a project that will eventually produce at least 1.5 million pairs of 3-D glasses monthly, reports the Daily Item.

The good economic news for a city that two years ago sought help from the state to reverse its growing debt comes through D/E's partnership with 3D Global Glasses LLC, a New Jersey-based company that next week will promote its new, 100-percent recyclable plastic glasses at the ShoWest trade show in Las Vegas.

"In the next six months, we should be very close to that 100 (employees) number," said George DeLellis, project manager and secretary-treasurer for D/E. "We have to capture the market and ride the wave as it's forming."

Original source: Daily Item
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Lehigh Valley juicemaker finds niche

Smart Juice, which sources organic ingredients around the globe, is successfully tapping one of the fastest growing segments of the multi-billion dollar organic foods market, reports the Morning Call.

Founded in 2007, Smart Juice is a not-from-concentrate organic beverage. Smart Juice's beverages are on the shelves at about 1,200 supermarkets across the nation, including Whole Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market in the Promenade Shops of Saucon Valley.

"We found the niche in the marketplace and we saw that so many juices are out there but none were very straightforward and healthy," said Metin Deniz, co-founder of the company.

Original source: The Morning Call
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Westinghouse at core of nuclear power trend toward smaller reactors

Westinghouse Electric is designing a small nuclear reactor the size of a bus that can be built in a factory, shipped to a power plant and generate up to one-quarter of the power of current nuclear reactors at one-tenth the cost, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune -Review.
Small modular reactors, as they're called, are being designed by several companies that could be installed as early as 2018, say experts. Being modular, they could gradually replace fossil-fuel power plants whose owners must cut emissions.

The simpler and smaller reactors--from 10 megawatts to 300 vs. today's 1,000 megawatts or more--would be ideal for markets here and abroad with limited power demand, power grids and money. One megawatt can power 800 homes.

"There may be hundreds, if not thousands, of these by the end of the century," said Paul Genoa, director of policy development at the Nuclear Energy Institute. "It should be cookie-cutter, once it gets going."
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Alternative energy time

Brian McNew and Chambersburg’s EarthNet Energy are making their move as alternative energy is creating more and more opportunities, reports the Patriot-News.

"Now the government is talking about coming on with an incentive program. We knew the movement was that way," McNew said. "We said we finally have the federal government on the right agenda, and the state government talking. We want to position ourselves to be a big factor. We might be pioneers, but let's go for it."

McNew and his partners were all Chambersburg businesspeople who recognized the region's proximity to Northeast markets.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Pittsburgh, Buncher set to develop Allegheny riverfront

Pittsburgh will partner with Buncher Real Estate to redevelop 80 acres along the city's Allegheny riverfront, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The city would combine parcels it owns--including the historic Produce Terminal on Smallman Street and the 22-acre former Tippins International site at 62nd Street--with industrial properties Buncher owns in Lawrenceville and the Strip District to create the redevelopment site.

The hope is to follow the city's 1990s success in using public-private partnerships to redevelop the former LTV site into the bustling SouthSide Works development.
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Energy management firm eCap Network moving to Pittsburgh's Hill District, hiring 15-20

A new green energy management consulting firm, eCap Network, is moving into the Hill District's One Hope Square and plans to employ 15-20 people in the next two years, including energy managers, engineers and technical consultants, reports Pop City.
"As a total package it's absolutely unique," says John Werling, president." We have the ability to understand alternative funding sources, whether grants or loans, or rebate programs through the state. We look at the total technology solutions and funding opportunities."
Original source: Pop City
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Penn State rakes in stimulus funds

Penn State University has raked in 192 grants worth $78 million to become the largest single recipient of stimulus money in Centre County, reports the Centre Daily Times.

At Penn State, ongoing research into plant cell walls could set the stage for new forms of home-grown energy in the future.

That project received a five-year $21 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s the largest federal stimulus research grant awarded a project at Penn State, but it’s far from the only one.

Original source: Centre Daily Times
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Changing the face of research and science: A nonprofit biotech incubator

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, a partnership between the Hepatitis B Foundation and Delaware Valley College, continues to grow less than four years since its inception, reports the Huffington Post.
Funded in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the more than $14 million Center is undergoing its third expansion in as many years. In fact, since it opened in 2006, the Center has grown from 63,000 square feet in one building to a total of 100,000 square feet in two buildings located on a 10-acre campus in Doylestown, a suburb of Philadelphia.
Original source: Huffington Post
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Marriage of transit, real estate development pressed

Allegheny County seeks private partners to develop a transit route from Pittsburgh's university neighborhood of Oakland, reports the Pittsburgh Triubne-Review.

"This is not simply a transit project, or just a real estate project, but a combination of the two," said Sanjeef Shah, southeastern and international director for Dulles, Va.-based Lea and Elliott, project consultant, at a meeting of 55 potential developers. "(Oakland) needs real estate development to meet demand, and transit development to make that real estate viable."

The city-county Transportation Action Partnership is seeking input from local industries on the feasibility of a Downtown-to-Oakland connector and Oakland transit connector. By offering companies the opportunity to develop parcels along the way and possibly giving them a portion of fares in exchange for designing, building and operating the system, officials hope to pay for a major transportation project without having to seek government money, Shah said.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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TCACC endorses Schuylkill Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center project

A Pottstown area brownfield site will be renovated into a state of the art environmental science center, according to a project plan submitted by the Montgomery County Community College Foundation and endorsed by the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, reports the Mercury News.
Tim Phelps, chamber president, announced the endorsement of the proposed center at a TCACC Membership Mixer hosted by the college on Jan. 26. Phelps presented the board’s letter of support to Dr. Karen A Stout, president, MCCC, and Kurt Zwikl, executive director, Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, for the project created through the partnership of the two organizations.
“The partnership between the college and the SRHA is the first known one of its kind--where a community college partners with a designated national heritage area to benefit the greater community,” said Stout.
Original source: Mercury News
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Wind turbine projects back on track in Cambria and Fayette Counties

Wind turbine projects using stimulus funds are back on track in Cambria and Fayette Counties, rehiring and adding jobs, reports the Uniontown Herald-Standard.

During a visit to the Gamesa Wind USA plant in Ebensburg, Gov. Edward Rendell announced $22.8 million in grants through the stimulus program that will not only put people to work at Gamesa, but also will create another 257 jobs at three large-scale wind farms.

Among the grants is a $10 million allocation to Iberdrola Renewables' South Chestnut wind project to install 23 two-megawatt turbines in Fayette County that will create 129 jobs. The project will use Gamesa turbines.
Original source: Uniontown Herald-Standard
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Developer wants to double size of Carbon solar park

Green Energy Capital Partners is looking to expand its plans to build a $120 million solar-energy park in Carbon County, making it the largest solar park east of the Mississippi, reports the Morning Call.

Green Energy announced the Nesquehoning project in August 2008 and initially leased 134 acres for Solar Park I from firetruck maker Kovatch Enterprises, which operates an adjacent industrial complex. That park was to generate power for 1,450 homes.

Months later, Green Energy signed a deal with Kovatch for a 120-acre reclaimed waste coal pile where Solar Park II would go. The combined 20-megawatt plant would have more than 100,000 solar panels. Groundbreaking is set for July and the first park could open in May of next year.

Original source: Morning Call
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FirstEnergy makes power play for Allegheny

Greensburg-based Allegheny Energy will be purchased by Ohio-based rival FirstEnergy in a deal valued at $4.7 billion that would create one of the largest utility companies in the country, reports Forbes.

Barclay's analyst Gregg Orrill says he believes the deal is "a good fit for the synergies of combining neighboring utilities, consolidating leverage to Midwest recovery, transmission expansion, and more efficient coal fleet."

Original source: Forbes
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Olyphant firm joins big-name companies offering Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling leases

Endless Mountain Energy LLC has created a joint venture with Pittsburgh-based gas exploration company EQT Corp to drill for natural gas, reports the Times-Tribune.

At the core of Endless Mountain Energy is Kaufman Engineering Inc., a firm with decades of experience in mining and quarry reclamation throughout the country, including the Seward Power Plant near Johnstown.

When Marcellus Shale began to generate excitement, firm officials felt they knew the region's geology better than natural gas exploration companies new to the scene.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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Lancaster's Turkey Hill milks turbines for wind energy

Southeastern Pennsylvania's first commercial wind project will comprise two 360-foot-high turbines atop Turkey Hill in Manor Township, reports Lancaster Online.

PPL and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority have entered into a lease agreement that is expected to have the turbines generating electricity this fall on the Frey Farm Landfill overlooking the Susquehanna River.

"This is a major step forward, and all systems are go for southeastern Pennsylvania's first commercial wind project," said James Warner, the authority's executive director.

All the juice is being purchased by Turkey Hill Dairy, located adjacent to the site. The wind power is expected to satisfy about 25 percent of the dairy's needs.

Original source: Lancaster Online
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Eleven degrees to be added at Lackawanna College

Lackawanna College in Scranton is expanding its two-year degree programs from 27 to 38, many of which will deal with natural gas drilling, reports the Times-Tribune.

"It's an opportunity for us, and for students," college President Raymond Angeli said. "It's based on what is happening here in Northeast Pennsylvania."

The school has been working to create a "niche" at each of the college's five centers - Scranton, New Milford, Hawley, Towanda and Hazleton, and officials have assessed what the area needs in terms of degrees and skill-sets, said Jill Murray, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs.

Original source: Times-Tribune

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Technology could make telecommuting more common

Sean Saffle and Brandy Heilman of Commuter Services of Pennsylvania discuss the growth and future of telecommuting in Central PA in this Patriot-News report.

Telecommuting is growing nationwide and is expected to rise sharply, experts say. Ted Schadler, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc., said a report done in March estimated that by 2016, 43 percent of all workers in the U.S. will telecommute at least some of the time.

Original source: Patriot-News
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Why I'm staying: In Pittsburgh, you can prosper and contribute to the community

Economic developer Michael Langley writes about why he’s staying to become an entrepreneur in downtown, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

For the past six years, I was paid to be our region's biggest cheerleader, aside from our elected officials, while serving as head of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. That post gave me a view of economics, politics, philanthropy and social challenges that most folks don't get a chance to examine up close.

What I saw was at times inspiring, at times depressing, often frustrating, but always interesting and hopeful. It is the hopeful and interesting part that I believe defines Pittsburgh more than anything else.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Brandywine Optics focuses on imaging-camera growth

John Fisher of Brandywine Optics, which focuses on hyperspectral imaging, is helping scientists analyze a variety of subjects like never before, reports the Delaware County Times.

A native of Norwood who was born at the Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Fisher studied at Pennsylvania State University to secure a degree in electrical engineering with a specialty in optics.

Having received a $100,000 tax credit, Fisher plans to sell that to translate into three jobs--a technician, an applications engineer and an engineering co-op from Villanova University.

Original source: Delaware County Times
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Local companies reach wind energy deal

Penobscot Mountain Wind of Clarks Summit and Electric City Wind Power Corp. have finalized a $10.8 million contract to develop wind energy projects, reports the Times-Tribune.

The agreement between Penobscot Mountain Wind LLC of Clarks Summit and Electric City Wind Power Corp., a group of about 15 local business leaders, calls for the manufacture and installation of 6 megawatts of multi-axis turbo system vertical wind power generation equipment. The minimum nameplate capacity of any given project will be 500 kilowatts, the agreement states. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts.

"Although we negotiated the right to have Electric City install projects for Penobscot below a megawatt in size, we're already well into discussions with counter parties for power purchase agreements where the requirements are two megawatts or greater," said Dr. Mark Puffenberger, also a manager partner in Penobscot.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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Dick's Sporting Goods opens expansive $150M corporate headquarters by Pgh airport

Dick's Sporting Goods will complete a move to a larger Pittsburgh facility by the end of February, reports Pop City.
The new Findlay complex is Dick's third corporate headquarters since moving from New York state into the Pittsburgh region about 15 years ago. Dick's now operates about 420 Dick's Sporting Goods stores in 40 states. The company also owns Golf Galaxy, Inc., with 91 stores in 31 states, e-commerce websites and catalog operations.

Dick's most recent former headquarters was about 200,000 square feet, says (architect Ed) Shriver. "They were completely filled, converting filing and copy rooms into offices. They knew they needed more space. Dick's growth over the last 10 years has been phenomenal. They decided to make this 2 million-square-foot masterplan to make sure they have enough room to keep growing."

Original source: Pop City
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Edinboro University gets grant for solar power

Edinboro University will receive a state grant for $474,000 for a 210-kilowatt solar array to be constructed on top of McComb Fieldhouse, reports the Meadville Tribune.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials said the Edinboro project, part of $9.5 million in federal economic stimulus funding to be spent on eight solar projects in Pennsylvania, will create 10 skilled labor jobs.
Original source: Meadville Tribune
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Penn College weatherization center considered primary national resource

Pennsylvania College of Technology's Weatherization Training Center has upgraded its and expanded in preparation for an influx of people seeking education and training, reports the Sun-Gazette.

(PA DCED secretary George) Cornelius' visit came during a time when Gov. Ed Rendell indicates that more than 1,000 state residents who are seeking to become weatherization installers, crew chiefs and auditors will receive training through an investment of $1.1 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

"It's federal stimulus, which goes through the department," Cornelius said. "There's $252.8 million available under the federal stimulus."

Original source: Sun-Gazette
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Report says rivers healthier

The Susquehanna and Conestoga rivers are getting cleaner, reports Lancaster Online
The report, an examination of the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended soil flowing down the Conestoga and Susquehanna rivers in 2008, was released Monday by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. The volume of nutrients and soil in the rivers is below long-term averages.

"The commission's findings do help validate the fact that the commonwealth's aggressive nutrient and sediment reduction efforts over the years are working, and supporting bay restoration efforts," said John Hines, deputy secretary for water management for the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Original source: Lancaster Online
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Solar cells, grapes prove to be good mix for vintners

Among the best pairings for a merlot, it turns out, is solar energy technology, as some PA wineries, like Hopewell Vineyards in Lower Oxford, can attest, reports the Pottstown Mercury.

Founded in 2002 by Karen and Anthony Mangus, the vineyard currently has 13 acres in production with eight varieties of wine grapes. Last year the vineyard produced 58 tons of grapes, which were sold to three Pennsylvania wineries for processing into wine.

From the beginning the Manguses' plan has been to establish the vines first, then eventually build their own winery at their Lower Oxford location. While the economy has slowed their timeline somewhat, state and federal incentives for alternative energy sources motivated them to go forward with installation of a new grid-tiered solar photovoltaic system.

Original source: Pottstown Mercury

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MOVE Pgh plans to revamp two- and four-wheel traffic

Pittsburgh's rivers and steep hills have posed headaches for traffic planners for years. Now a new city effort will request funds from the Center for Disease Control to create sustainable solutions, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We're trying to put (city transportation planning) ahead of the curve, trying to put ourselves in a better position when that next round of transportation funding comes out," said Planning Director Noor Ismail.

The city effort is called Move PGH, and the first step is a meeting in the mayor's office today for prospective members of a 13-member task force and a 29-member management committee, including city directors and officials from other transportation agencies. (Mayor)  Ravenstahl plans to ask them to help set the stage for the selection of a consultant, who will guide the $1.1 million process of analyzing and planning the city's transportation system.

State to invest $9.2M to support alternative energy projects that create jobs

Governor Ed Rendell announced close to $10 million in investments in alternative energy that will help create about 170 jobs, reports Gant Daily.
The $9.2 million in grants and loans the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved today, he added, will benefit seven projects throughout the state that are showing how alternative energy can conserve resources and cut expenses--two aspects that are critical to Pennsylvania’s long-term economic competitiveness.
The Commonwealth Financing Authority administers Pennsylvania's economic stimulus programs, including portions of the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund.

Original source: Gant Daily
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Bicyclists can park safely at new Pittsburgh commuter center

Secure indoor parking for 26 bikes has been added at downtown Pittsburgh's Century Building, encouraging two-wheeled commutes, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"We plan to offer annual leases of $100," said William Gatti of Trek Development Group, owner of the building. A $10 key fee also will be added.

The $85,000 project was the idea of Gatti and members of BikePgh, with help from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which supplied the land. Financial help came from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission which supplied a $65,000 grant. Trek added $20,000.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Philly aiming to improve energy efficiency

Energy efficiency and LEED standards have Philadelphia awash in green, and potential savings, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philadelphia spent over $48 million on electricity, heating oil, and natural gas in fiscal year 2008-09, one of the largest line items in the city's general budget.
Which explains why reducing municipal energy use--by 10 percent this year, and by 30 percent within five years--is one of the top goals on the Nutter administration's sweeping environmental agenda.
Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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In home businesses: Growth spurt

The U.S. Small Business Administration has found that modern technology is bringing more workers home, encouraging the growth of home-based businesses, reports the Patriot-News.

Consultants, telecommuters and freelancers can set up at home more easily than (Joan's Jewelry Box owner Joan) Rhodes and other in-home manufacturers, said John Perry, assistant professor of management at Penn State Harrisburg.

"You don't need manufacturing space," he said. "Her case is a little different because she needs equipment--more than just a phone and a computer."

Original source: Patriot-News
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Transit authorities turn to technology for efficiency, rider ease

Central PA transit authorities are using technology to improve rider experiences, operations and their bottom lines, reports the Central Penn Business Journal.

York's authority, rabbittransit, is spending $2 million for real-time passenger information signs, automatic voice recordings via phone calls to remind paratransit--or door-to-door service--riders of their pick-up times, GPS locators and Google Transit trip planning, said Richard Farr, the authority's executive director.

Avail Technologies Inc., based in State College, Centre County, is working on the COLT and rabbittransit projects. The company designs, installs and integrates smart- transportation technology for public transit systems in 13 states. COLT has been using Avail Technologies since 2002. Rabbittransit hired the firm two years ago.

Original source: Central Penn Business Journal
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Pittsburgh could save $1M with LED street lights

Searching for ways to balance its budget, the City of Pittsburgh could save $1 million by replacing its 40,000 street lights with LED fixtures, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"The University of Pittsburgh looked at what is the best product from cradle to grave approach on the environmental impact, and one of the first studies done on urban lighting," City Councilman William Peduto said. "The report clearly demonstrates with all the technology out there that LED has the best impact from an environmental point of view."

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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An Amish entrepreneur's old-fashioned approach

Despite his devout Amish beliefs, a young Lancaster County farmer has found a path to success by growing and selling nutrient dense foods, reports Business Week.

And making money is what Miller Farm is doing. "I can't meet all the demand," says Amos Miller. He relies on additional supplies of product from his brother, John, who "grows the produce that we ferment and process here," and from three other neighboring Amish and Mennonite farmers.

What distinguishes Miller Farm from others, such as celebrity farmer Joel Salatin's farm in Virginia, which has helped popularize nutrient-dense foods, is that Miller has gone national--and done it without modern conveniences. His main concessions to modern life are a generator for refrigeration to cool certain foods and a landline telephone (717-556-0672) to take orders from distributors and mail-order customers. He also relies on FedEx (FDX) for shipping orders to customers.

Original source: Business Week
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Rise of wind turbines is a boon for rope workers

Rope specialists are in demand for construction and maintenance of wind turbines in northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere, reports the New York Times

The jobs these days involve inspecting turbines, cleaning them and repairing them, which becomes necessary if a blade is struck by lightning or damaged by ice. The blades are made of fiberglass, and repair jobs may involve taking out the old fiberglass and putting in new material, which then needs to be sanded down for smoothness.

“I was just amazed to think you could actually make a business out of working on ropes,” said climber Chris Bley, who occasionally gets recruits from a Santa Cruz rock-climbing gym in which he invested.

Original source: New York Times
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Pa's largest solar farm proposed near Buck

One of the nation’s largest wind-energy marketers hopes to build a $20 million solar farm, what could be the state’s biggest, in southern Lancaster County, reports the Intelligencer Journal.

Rows of 20-foot-by-8-foot glass panels would generate about 6 megawatts, enough electricity to continuously power about 900 homes.

The electricity would be fed into the PJM Interconnection, a regional transmission organization serving parts of 13 states. The alternative energy could be purchased by utilities.

Original source: Intelligencer Journal

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Area firm, partner get $1.6M for solar ideas

Philadelphia’s Solar Strategies and Milldeburg’s Professional Building Systems teamed on a successful tax credit application for $1.6 million to re-equip the Snyder County facility to produce net zero-energy homes, reports the Daily Item.

Thousands of solar modular homes are expected to be produced within the company, and would generate more power than they consume over the course of the year. Such would be accomplished through the use of various energy conservation techniques and energy-producing technologies, such as smart metering, Energy Star appliances, and energy management systems.

Penn State University worked with both Solar Strategies and Professional Building Systems on the 2009 Solar Decathlon, Riley said, and the Center for Sustainability has been working with Solar Strategies since 2006 to help advance modular solar home technologies.

Original source: Daily Item

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USDA, Penn State invest in training new farmers

Researchers and educators in Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences have received grants of more than $1.3 million to help grow a new generation of farmers, reports Gant Daily.

The funding is part of more than $17 million in grants authorized in the 2008 federal farm bill under the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative designed to address the education, training and technical assistance needs of this next wave of farm operators.

While the lure of "custom farming"--raising unique animals, specialty crops or products for niche food markets--is as an upward trend appealing to many would-be farmers, both Penn State projects identify access to training, land and capital as the biggest barriers to entering the field.

Original source: Gant Daily
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New technology helps treat waste water in Marcellus Shale operations

A joint venture by BLX Inc. and CMW Environmental Inc. have partnered with a New Mexico company to implement technology to help solve the water issues associated with Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, reports the Leader Times.

The gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs 600 miles through Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, is a growing industry in Western Pennsylvania.

A new ruling in Pennsylvania that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2011, prohibits water used in the drilling of natural gas wells from being discharged into waterways unless it is first treated to remove the salts and minerals that are contained in the water that flows back to the surface.

Currently all of the waste water from the drilling process is trucked off-site to commercial and municipal sewer treatment plants at a high cost.

Original source: Leader Times
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Pennsylvania agriculture chief lauds farmers markets

Farmers markets boost growers' profits, says the acting secretary of the PA Department of Agriculture, reports the Daily Courier.

"The message is simply about the importance of agriculture to the economy," Russell Redding said in an interview before a luncheon with the group. "It's a business without walls. The same practices that apply to Main Street apply to agriculture."

As an example, Redding acknowledged the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council's work to promote agriculture through its efforts to start farmers markets in the county.

Original source: Daily Courier
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Obama tells PA residents job help is coming

President Obama was in the Lehigh Valley on Friday to talk about plans for economic help on the horizon for the region, reports The Washington Times.

Though the global economy has shifted largely from manufacturing to information technology, Mr. Obama said, Pennsylvania towns can still create new jobs by redeveloping their infrastructure to meet new demands and by pursuing jobs related to "green" technology.

The president also told the hundreds who assembled at Lehigh Carbon Community College that on Tuesday he will present Congress with a detailed plan on how to "jump start" hiring in the private sector.

Original source: The Washington Times
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Mine reclamation work gets national award

A mine reclamation project in Northeastern PA that led to the fastest-growing business park development in the state received the Office of Surface Mining's 2009 National Award for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, reports the Pittston Sunday Dispatch.

The park was developed by Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services. Sixteen industrial and flex buildings totaling more than 4.7 million square feet have been developed by Mericle in the park since 2006.

Mericle Senior Vice President Bryan McManus said it was a team effort that resulted in abandoned mine lands being put back into productive use. McManus praised DEP and site contractor Russell Postupack Culm Corporation for their willingness to cooperate with Mericle so that the end product resulted in sites that are feasible for new buildings. "It was a true partnership that led to the elimination of severe abandoned mine problems and the creation of excellent new sites for businesses," McManus said.

Original source: Pittston Sunday Dispatch
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Emerging market draws workers

Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale market is luring a number of engineers, technicians, laborers and office managers to news jobs in Pennsyvlania, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Natural gas prices are too low right now for any kind of major well production or related job surge, but companies of all varieties--drilling, water transfer, gas transport, land leasing, processing and so on--are establishing outposts here, anticipating the day that prices rise and the Marcellus play lives up to its promise.

The jobs created here are filled by a mix of locals and transplants -- an executive with Downtown-based EQT Corp. said many of the field crews were imported from other places, while Texas-based Range Resources estimated that four of every five workers in its regional work force come from southwestern Pennsylvania.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Stimulus funds to give East Pittsburgh public housing green upgrade

Sen. Arlen Specter has secured a $4.4 million federal grant to upgrade pubilc housing in East Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, to higher energy efficiency, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan visited the 94-unit development, Prospect Terrace, to announce the grant, which will pay for a geothermal water system that could cut energy costs as much as 50 percent.

"Prospect Terrace will be a model for green public housing," Mr. Donovan said. "These are smart investments that will save the taxpayer money over the long term."

The money comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus package approved by Congress and President Barack Obama this year, with $4 billion allocated for public housing nationwide, including $600 million in competitive grants for environmentally friendly projects.

Read the full story here.
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Carnegie Mellon converts gas-powered cars to electricity

Carnegie Mellon University's Project ChargeCar, led by the school's Robotics Institute, is called a holistic approach to automotive over-consumption, according to this Business Week report.

Researchers think that converting gas-powered cars to electrics with supercapacitors could spur the economy, too. ChargeCar just received a grant from Heinz (HNZ) in the "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to train local Pittsburgh-area mechanics in the craft. They think conversions will cost commuters around $8,000—much less than a brand new electric vehicle typically priced at some $50,000.

Original source: Business Week
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A solar investment

Ninety year-old company Alvah Bushnell is installing one of the largest rooftop solar panel systems in Philadelphia and the region, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When federal and state grants and rebates are factored in, along with depreciation tax credits, the cost of the system is $62,720, said David Richman, vice president of commercial project development for Eos Energy Solutions. The Philadelphia solar-energy company expects to have Alvah Bushnell plugged into the sun by the middle of January. A new roof is needed first. Cost: $132,000.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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State offers financing programs for entrepreneurs

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's deputy secretary for technology investment says there is state money available for clean, renewable and alternative energy projects and businesses, reports the Lebanon Daily News.

"You might have heard some rumors that state government is broke. Well, we actually have quite a bit of money for clean, renewable and alternative-energy projects and businesses," said John Sider, Deputy Secretary for Technology Investment at DCED.

Sider said a focus of the department is to find ways to finance innovation. The department provides seed money for early-stage technology companies and accelerating technology commercialization. It also provides assistance to entrepreneurs, such as management assistance.

Original source: Lebanon Daily News
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Coalition sees jobs in clean energy

Alternative energy is poised to be the next big thing in Pennsylvania, adding jobs here and nationwide, reports the Times Leader.

"We focus a lot on the products, but we don't necessarily focus on the manufacturing," said Jason Brady, who works for the Sierra Club and the alliance to increase its presence in Pennsylvania.

To do so, the alliance is calling for comprehensive climate-change and clean-energy legislation that would mandate 25 percent of energy come from renewable sources by 2025. Such a goal would create 850,000 jobs overall and 42,000 in Pennsylvania, according to the alliance's report.

Original source: Times Leader
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Penn College expands Weatherization Training Center

The Pennsylvania College of Technology has the capability to educate more people to install green technology thanks to its expanded Weatherization Training Center, reports the Sun-Gazette.

The site's location at 2245 Reach Road is one of the first such training facilities nationwide to expand its operations in response to a growing demand fueled by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act support, college officials said.

With the help of federal funds along with the training center's expansion, the capacity to educate more students in energy-saving technologies has increased during a time when there is an anticipated rise in demand for such technologies.

Original source: Sun-Gazette
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Federal funding will help Voith resume multi-million dollar project

More than $30 million in federal stimulus funds directed to Voith Hydro will help the company tackle several hydropower projects, reports the York Daily Record.

The money will be used toward seven hydropower projects to modernize hydropower infrastructure, increase efficiency and reduce environmental impacts at existing facilities.

Among the projects are an Alcoa Inc. project in Robbinsville, N.C., for which Voith is building two turbines.

Original source: York Daily Record
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North Side stable is perfect for business, CEO discovers

The CEO of The Sextant Group, Mark Valenti, hopes to restore the former Allegheny City Stables in Pittsburgh and double his local staff in that space for an estimated $2.5 million, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The 1896 building was originally home of the Allegheny City public works department -- in which Belgian horses were hoisted to the second floor. It is a city-designated historic structure but in wretched condition. The entire third floor is missing. An itinerant tore out the floor boards and burned them to stay warm. The roof is "pretty much non-existent," Mr. Valenti told the Historic Review Commission last week when he presented his plan.

"Our intention is to design a state-of-the-art intelligent building, a showplace to demonstrate to our clients what you can do," he said. Mr. Valenti said will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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PA biodiesel maker gets $1.6M state grant

The Commonwealth Financing Authority granted HERO BX $1.6 million, and the large biodiesel producer will use $3.3 million of its own funds to expand operations this year, reports Domestic Fuel.

The company says Pennsylvania is ideal for its future plans as HERO BX is working with Penn State researchers to pioneer the use of camelina: a more sustainable oilseed than soybeans that can grow in sub-optimum soils, doesn’t need water or fertilizer and produces seven times more oil than soybeans.

It also can be used in poultry feed. About 200,000 acres of old strip mines might be perfect for the weed feedstock.

Original source: Domestic Fuel
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Solar mirror plant opens near Pittsburgh International Airport

A German company called Flabeg GmbH, which makes parabolic mirrors to concentrate solar power, opened a $30 million plant close to Pittsburgh International Airport, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We believe that concentrated solar power will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. It will be one of the energy providers of the future," said Flabeg CEO Axel Bucholz during an open house at the plant in Findlay. The 228,000-square-foot solar mirror plant is the largest in the world, he said.

Officials of the company's American subsidiary, Flabeg Solar U.S. Corp., said they plan to produce solar mirrors by early next year, and are optimistic the solar power market will heat up in the next few years.

Original source: Tribune-Review
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As billions roll in, BPL Global ready for big smart grid energy business

BPL Global of Pittsburgh is positioned to work with utilities and other companies on helping the country develop a smarter energy infrastructure, reports Pop City.

BPLG was identified by 19 of the 100 grant recipients and will be working in the next two months to secure more contracts as the work gets underway, says Keith Schaefer, co-founder, president and CEO.

"BPL Global will play a pivotal role as one of the leaders transforming the way energy will be delivered," Schaefer says. "We believe that the DOE and others have concluded that we have a proven scalable software answer to manage the distribution of data."

Original source: Pop City
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Biking coal country's tracks

A first-person report on southwestern Pennsylvania's Great Allegheny Passage by Dan White for the New York Times notes that the recreational trail attracts nearly 15,000 people a year.

Word is getting out that the trail is a world-class biking destination. Linda Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of seven organizations that oversee the project, said 10,000 to 15,000 people rode a long-distance trip along it last year. The trail was built at the cost of $65 million after the rail tracks were abandoned in 1975.
Original source: New York Times
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Economic development strategy released for Delaware Valley

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission released its official comprehensive economic development strategy for Greater Philadelphia, reports the Times Herald.

Created in partnership with Select Greater Philadelphia and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the document was recently approved by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). This designation means that economic development projects in the region are eligible for EDA funding.

“There is a lot of collaboration among many organizations in economic development planning, and there is a collective vision that emerges when these efforts are viewed as a whole,” said DVRPC Executive Director, Barry Seymour. “DVRPC was proud to lead such a high-profile project in order to help Greater Philadelphia become more sustainable and economically competitive.”

Original source: Times Herald

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Energy leadership center sees no energy shortage

Andy Hannah, president of Plextronics, has organized Pittsburgh executives around the belief that the world's toughest energy issues aren't supply, but delivery, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The "stable energy environment" that the group seeks will have three characteristics: energy independence, stable energy pricing and a portfolio approach to meeting increasing energy needs.

Mr. Hannah acknowledged that the idea of abundant energy goes contrary to much of current discussion, which assumes a lack, or at least a pending lack, of resources. While not blind to increasing demand--he cited an estimate that in 40 years we will need three to four times as much energy as we do now--he also said that in his view, there is enough energy to meet the demand.
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Industry built from scratch

Coskata's new facility in Madison, Westmoreland County, is making ethanol from wood chips and is among those pushing the country's biofuel industry, reports the New York Times.

Coskata uses a plasma torch, which shoots 8,000-degree jets of air at twice the speed of sound, to blast wood chips into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Those gases are pumped into a tank of bacteria that feed on them and excrete ethanol. For each ton of pine chips, the pilot plant produces about 100 gallons of ethanol. Many people in the industry say they believe the economics should work at that yield.
Original source: New York Times
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Penn State’s Natural Fusion House

Penn State has relied heavily on local materials for its 620 square-foot entry for the 2009 Solar Decathlon, reports EcoHome Magzine.

Like its 2007 entry, Penn State relied heavily on local materials. The Pennsylvania-grown black locust decking requires no chemicals to resist weather and insects; interior flooring is white oak reclaimed from a barn being torn down near campus; and trusses were manufactured with pine from a local FSC-certified forest. The bed frame was outfitted with the trunk of a fallen tree, while the headboard was handcrafted using chalkboards and wood from deconstructed campus buildings.
Original source: EcoHome Magazine
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Buyer-vendor symposium to explore local markets

A regional buyer-vendor symposium next week in Wellsboro will explore the growing market for locally produced arts, crafts and food, reports the Sun-Gazette.

According to Jennifer L. Swain, executive director of the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance and Artisan Trail Coordinator, the event is designed for buyers and directors for gift shop, restaurant, lodging site owners, school districts, hospitals, and assisted living-nursing homes from the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier of New York; as well as producers such as artists, specialty food producers, and growers.
"There's a lot of work going on right now around the concept of buying and selling local artwork and local foods. One popular suggestion in the Northern Tier is the creation of a wholesale show that features regional artwork, specialty foods and produce," Swain said.

Original source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette
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City gets $14.1 million energy grant

A $14.1 million grant was announced by the U.S. Department of Energy to fund projects like energy-saving LED traffic lights, building upgrades and solar panel installations in Philadelphia, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The big-ticket item is nearly $5.8 million for grants and low-interest loans to help businesses and industries retrofit buildings to be more energy-efficient.

But the wow factor for many in the city's environmental community was the $700,000 earmarked for expanding citywide the incentive-based recycling program, run by the private company RecycleBank.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Art Works in Johnstown receives grant

Art Works, a communal art center in Johnstown that will house artist studios, classrooms and public space, received $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, reports the Daily American.

The money will allow the art center to begin the final phase of renovations. Art Works is housed in a 18,000-square-foot turn-of-the-century industrial building, which is being renovated using green technologies and practices. One "green" technology is a living roof, which will manage storm water runoff from the building, reduce heating and cooling loss and provide outdoor space for audiences and artists.

Original story: Daily American
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Flabeg Solar to employ 300 in Allegheny County

Flabeg Solar, a German manufacturer already established in Allegheny County, is readying a plant in Findlay Township to make solar mirrors for power stations, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The plant will employ 300 when operating at full strength.

The company is building a U.S. plant because it wants to be positioned when the solar energy market takes off again. "We expect the U.S. market to grow substantially in the next five years," he said.

Plants in the United States also cost less than plants in Europe, said president Jochen Meyer, so building one here will "improve our overall global cost position."

So far, the staff has grown from two to about 25, largely engineers. Over the next 18 months, the company will hire both skilled and unskilled manufacturing workers to fill out its work force.
Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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A shine replaces the rust in NW

The Northwest Gateway Project, a partnership between Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster General Health and EDC Finance Corp. that is transforming a former flooring plant site, will see its first phase dedicated in a ceremony on Friday, reports the Intelligencer Journal.
In the first phase, hundreds of buildings on the 47-acre industrial tract were demolished, and the land cleaned up. The property, which will be divided between F&M and Lancaster General, includes sports fields for the college, and may become the site of a new nursing school. A football stadium and baseball field are planned as well.
Nikoloff said the Lancaster General portion of the site could create hundreds of jobs and is projected to pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy.
Original source: Intelligencer Journal
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Changing Skyline: Proving green can be gorgeous

Philadelphia's new Hotel Palomar opens Oct. 15 and has set the standard for green luxury, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

While Philadelphia has been steadily compiling an inventory of green offices, schools, and homes, the Palomar will be the city's first hotel to qualify for the U.S. Green Building Council's coveted seal of approval. Palomar expects to receive a silver rating, and possibly gold, the council's second-highest. But getting to that level turned out to be more complicated than slapping organic paint on the walls and recycling the construction debris.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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D.C. trail project embarks on longest mile

The elusive goal of completing the Great Allegheny Passage has inched closer. Allegheny County opened an additional mile of the recreational trail connecting Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. and announced agreements with the owner of Sandcastle Waterpark for the remaining 2.5 miles, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A deal with Sandcastle has been elusive. The park's former owner, Kennywood Entertainment, for years refused to consider allowing the trail to pass through, claiming safety and liability fears.

Hopes rose a year ago when (Allegheny County executive Dan ) Onorato and Kennywood/Sandcastle President Peter J. McAneny said in a joint news release that they had made "significant progress" to accommodate the trail through Sandcastle property.

But Mr. McAneny stepped down a few months later, setting back the negotiations.

"They now have their new management structure in place. We've had some very positive conversations with the vice president who oversees water park operations throughout the country," said Mr. Onorato's spokesman, Kevin Evanto.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Pittsburgh Children's Museum wins prestigious award

Pittsburgh Children's Museum has won national honors for its community outreach, reports Pop City.

The award, given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, honors "outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions" to the community.

Beyond offering the children of the Pittsburgh region an amazing place to learn and explore, the museum also does extensive outreach and collaborative work within the community. And despite the economic downturn, the Museum has enjoyed a steady increase in attendance since opening their new facility in 2004. 

Original source: Pop City
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Penn sets its taste buds for local produce

Economic inclusion is the driver behind the University of Pennsylvania's plan to offer more local food for its cafeterias that fed 4,000 undergraduates, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to vice president Marie Witt, Penn is trying to buy more local produce for the same reason it calls West Philly Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and looks for Philadelphia contractors when the university builds an office.

"Economic inclusion," Witt calls it. "A big part of what we emphasize here is bringing our resources to leverage our purchasing power" to favor neighbors.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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CT&T to build electric cars in Pittsburgh, Philly

South Korean auto maker CT&T will build a new generation of small, rechargeable electric vehicles at a plant in the Pittsburgh region, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, or NEVs, are designed for urban use, reaching top speeds of 40 mph and can travel 80 miles on a single charge. Carnegie Mellon University developed technology for the vehicles and has built a garage to charge them.

"You are here to see the future," said Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon, kicking off a news conference that featured Gov. Ed Rendell's announcement of 200 new jobs coming to the Pittsburgh area when CT&T Co. establishes one of two production and distribution centers.

With it come up to 400 jobs for the state, half in Pittsburgh, half in the Philadelphia area. CT&T will establish facilities that will manufacture as well as market, sell and repair the cars in other areas of the country, beginning with Greenville, S.C., and Riverside County, Calif.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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G-20 summit declared $35 million success for Pittsburgh

Tourism and business experts have placed a value of $35 million on the impact of last week's G-20 economic summit, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

When numbers are finally tabulated, at least some of the economic gain would be offset by business relocation costs and losses from closing, as well as the city's estimated $16 million spent for public safety.

Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Congressman spills beans on area solar farm

U.S. Rep. Chris Carney announced some good news for a solar panel farm being planned for the Milton Industrial Park, although it wasn't yet meant to be released, reports the Daily Item.

Those involved in the proposal will appear before the Milton Borough Council on Oct. 14 to present details of the project, which has an additional benefit — protecting an endangered toad population that previously prevented land development on 40 acres of the industrial park.

The solar panel farm will be placed on the last major available portion of ground that the Milton Area Industrial Development Association owns.

Original source: Daily Item
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Commonwealth Energy Group secures $1.2M state loan for new manufacturing facility

Commonwealth Energy Group, an energy consulting firm in Dickson City, received a $1.2 million state loan to establish a $7.6 million production facility for energy efficient light fixtures that will create 240 jobs, reports the Times-Tribune.

The development occurs as the region's manufacturing sector suffers through a grinding downturn and signals progress on the "green" jobs front.

Commonwealth Energy formed in 2008 as an energy services company, developing projects to improve energy efficiency, and expanded into energy consulting.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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Pittsburgh? Yes, Pittsburgh

While some didn't initially take it seriously, Pittsburgh is an ideal choice to host the G-20 Global Economic Summit later this month, reports Forbes magazine.

Pittsburgh is, in other words, a big city with a small-city mindset. Or maybe it's a small city with big-city ideas. Either way, it is negotiating--sometimes precariously, sometimes with aplomb--a balance between these two spheres. As city councilman Bill Peduto says, "It is figuring out how to become global while staying local." Which is perhaps the greatest challenge in this age of rapid globalization and economic turmoil.

Original source: Forbes
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Despite falling prices, natural gas drillers flock to PA

Drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale has expanded rapidly despite plummeting prices of natural gas, reports the Times-Tribune.

A rig survey by petroleum consultants Baker Hughes shows the trend. The number of on-shore natural gas rigs at work in the United States last year peaked at more than 1,500. The number fell to 699 by last week. As national numbers were halved, Pennsylvania's rig count doubled, from 24 in December to 53 last week.

The productivity and potential of Marcellus Shale is enough to convince natural gas companies to spend money to open wells now and wait for prices to turn around and gathering pipelines to be installed, said Mark Davidson, editorial director of US Gas News, a trade publication.

Original source: Times-Tribune
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Stimulus funds go to ag energy projects in Lancaster County

Two Lancaster County farms and a commercial greenhouse will be able to convert manure and wood into electricity thanks to federal stimulus funds, reports the Intelligencer Journal.

The Lancaster County Conservation District will get $500,000 to fund an anaerobic digester on Meadow Valley Dairy in West Cocalico Township.

The digester will convert manure into electricity — enough to power 200 homes.

The conservation district also will get $474,502 for Esbenshade Greenhouses in Brickerville to install a combined heat and power system powered by biomass wood and possibly chicken litter.

Original source: Intelligencer Journal
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A new use for industrial sites: Industry

Philadelphia's economic development advocates are attempting to revive the city's manufacturing might by restoring underused industrial buildings, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Community Design Collaborative, a volunteer group that promotes revitalization of older, urban neighborhoods, is joining the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) on an 18-month initiative to improve job opportunities and restore underused industrial buildings and land to what they call "a competitive market standing."

Put more simply: "Let's focus on industrial for industrial for a little bit," said Elizabeth K. Miller, executive director of the collaborative.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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With recycling up 46 percent, there's talk of rewards

With a 46 percent increase in the most recent fiscal year, Philadelphia set a record for resident recycling, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

By recycling, Philadelphia residents saved the city $4.8 million last year in landfill costs. Each percentage-point increase in the diversion rate means a budget savings of $500,000, said Carlton Williams, deputy streets commissioner.

Combining residential and commercial recycling, the city's overall diversion rate is about 50 percent. This leaves Philadelphia a distant speck behind Germany, where the diversion rate can climb as high as 99 percent, said Paul Gilman of Covanta Energy, which operates energy-from-waste facilities in the United States.

Philadelphia's goal is a total diversion rate of 70 percent in 2015.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Brothers hoping LED business shines

Warminster's JKB Services has big hopes for its lighting company, including a manufacturing plant for LEDs, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

When the Blooms formed JKB six years ago, the company was doing primarily graphics and lighting work for Broadway and trade shows. Over the last two years or so, they have concentrated on building the LED side of the business, mostly by visiting towns and companies and introducing potential clients to the technology.

The effort has paid off. JKB now has standing to bid on the nearly 7,000 streetlighting units that 22 townships, most of them in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, are seeking grant money to finance. Contributing to this region's growing interest in converting to LEDs is the pending expiration of state-imposed electrical-rate caps at the end of next year.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Divide and conquer, by rail and trail

Bike riders on the Great Allegheny Passage connecting Cumberland, Maryland with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania cross the eastern continental divide, but they can avoid some of the exertion of pedaling to the 2,392-foot high point by boarding the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, reports the Washington Post.

The gentle grade of the former railroad, and the restoration of the tunnel through Big Savage Mountain, make biking through the mountains possible, with an added bonus. Traveling north or south, once riders pass the summit, " you won't even have to pedal," says train conductor John Jeppi.

The story reports an overnight trip covering 76 miles from Cumberland to Rockwood, Pennsylvania.

Original source: Washington Post
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Easton to get $1 million for 'green' fix-ups

One of Easton's most challenged neighborhoods is getting $1 million to rehabilitate houses through eco-friendly methods that reduce energy bills, reports the Express-Times.
''We need to fix up our houses in the West Ward,'' Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said at a news conference at the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership on Northampton Street. ''But we also need to fix them up in the right way, historically and environmentally.''
The $1 million is slated to come from nearly $500,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds, which help communities suffering from foreclosures, and $500,000 in expected funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Original source; Morning Call
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Grant powers Turkey Hill wind project

Southcentral Pennsylvania is set to launch its first commercial wind turbine project thanks to a $1.5 million federal stimulus fund grant awarded this week, reports the Intelligencer Journal.
Warner said ground should be broken in March on the $8.25 million project. Two 1.5 megawatt wind turbines, each about 370 feet high, could be spinning above the Susquehanna River and producing pollution-free electricity by next September.
In another month or so, the authority plans to hold a public meeting to provide details about the project to nearby residents. There will be photos taken from all directions showing what the top of Turkey Hill will look like with the turbines, Warner said.
Original source: Intelligencer Journal
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Peco to spend $650M on smart grid

Peco Energy will spend $650 million to convert its power-distribution system into a smart grid that can troubleshoot and fix problems and allow customers to better manage their power consumption, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

One of the plans is an application for $200 million in matching funds available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Peco filed Thursday with the Department of Energy.

The other is Peco's smart meter plan, which the Philadelphia-based electric-and-gas utility will file with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission a week from Friday.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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A fuel-belching NASCAR track has big plans for solar power

Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, which hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pennsylvania 500 last weekend, plans to construct the world's largest solar energy project at a sports facility.

About 40,000 photovoltaic panels are to be installed on 25 acres across the street from the racetrack on property that had been used as a parking lot for races. The solar farm is expected to generate three megawatts once it is completed, in spring 2010, making it Pennsylvania’s largest such facility, Igdalsky said. The project is expected to cost $15 million to $17 million but more than pay for itself over time.

A number of prominent sports sites use solar energy, including Taiwan’s National Stadium, which recently hosted the World Games; AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants; Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians; and the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in Bern, Switzerland.

Original source: New York Times
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Obama officials visit Philadelphia to applaud more city supermarkets

Top members of the Obama administration gathered last week to praise efforts to increase the number of supermarkets in underserved sections of Philadelphia, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The secretaries of agriculture and commerce, as well as other federal officials, toured the Parkside ShopRite store, which opened in 2007 on 52d Street near Parkside Avenue, and lauded it as an example of what community partnerships with government can accomplish.

Adolfo Carrion, the director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, praised the Parkside ShopRite and the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a state program that combines state and private money. He also noted the efforts of nonprofit organizations to build food markets across Pennsylvania.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Pittsburgh to host first solar cities conference

Offering a model to other cities in the Northeast and across the U.S., Pittsburgh will host the nation's first solar cities conference Oct. 15-16 at its David L. Lawrence Convention Center, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"I'm proud and excited that Pittsburgh is taking the lead in providing outreach and solar education to regional municipalities," said Mayor Ravenstahl. "The fact that the conference follows the G20 Summit offers yet another opportunity to showcase to the world our City's leadership in environmental and economic transformation."

The two-day conference will target cities with colder climates, with the goal of advancing the integration of solar technology in the northeastern U.S. While the target audience for the conference is major northeastern cities, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Hartford, Buffalo and Cleveland, it also includes municipal leaders from Allegheny County.
Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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Figuring out how to make Philly work better

Last week, local and national experts in sustainable and regional planning gathered at UPenn to discuss how to make Philadelphia a more vibrant, competitive and environmentally friendly city, reports PlanPhilly.

Key concepts include planning future job and residential growth along transit lines and in centralized locations--both in the city and the region--and the better use of the current infrastructure, including buildings and groups of buildings that may now be abandoned or under-utilized.

Original source: PlanPhilly
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Energy campus to generate ideas in Philadelphia

A building in the Philadelphia Navy Yard is being eyed by regional development officials for an idea-generating energy campus, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., the quasi-public city agency that is converting the former military base to private use, envisions the Navy station and its unique electrical infrastructure as a magnet for energy-related business.

According to the plan, the Navy Yard is already becoming an energy campus where businesses, academics and Navy engineers congregate and share knowledge about power systems. They hope that new commercial ventures - spin-offs from the Navy's research into alternative-energy sources or smart-grid technology - will emerge from such a creative environment.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Nesquehoning solar plant gets $5.5M state grant

Developers of a 10.6-megawatt solar energy plant near Nesquehoning, Carbon County, received a $5.5 million state grant last week, reports the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.

The ground-mounted facility in the Green Acres Industrial Park will be the largest solar energy plant in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation when the $78 million project is completed.

"Our solar park is going to be a state-of-the-art facility that will generate clean power, create jobs and serve as a training center for high-tech, high-wage energy jobs all over the region," said state Rep. Keith McCall, D-122, who presented the grant.

"The park is going to be up and running in a few months, and this grant funding will help defray the cost of construction."

Original Source: Hazleton Standard-Speaker

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Gas drilling expansion brings rail-related jobs to Carbondale

Railroad-related jobs are returning to Carbondale, Lackawanna County, thanks to the expansion of natural gas drilling in the region, reports the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Linde Corp., a regional utility and heavy construction contractor, recently agreed to lease 5.5 acres of former Delaware & Hudson Railroad property in the city, said Larry Malski, president of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority.

"The genesis of this was the natural gas industry," Mr. Malski said. "We've been trying to get something in Carbondale for quite a few years."

Original Source: Scranton Times-Tribune

Read the full story here.

Pocono rail plan seeks federal money

A list of railroad projects the state submitted to the federal government for a chunk of the $8 billion in high-speed rail stimulus funding includes the Lackawanna Cut-Off, part of a commuter rail plan that would link Andover, N.J., to East Stroudsburg, reports the Pocono Record.

The long-awaited commuter rail service would connect Scranton to Hoboken, N.J., in a 133-mile corridor through Monroe County.

The high-speed rail line has five proposed stops in Monroe County; Delaware Water Gap, East Stroudsburg, Analomink, Mount Pocono and Tobyhanna.

Pennsylvania's candidate project list for federal money is part of a pre-application process. Three other projects also made the list. Here is the state's complete list of candidate projects as it appeared in a press release from Rendell's office: Keystone East Corridor from Harrisburg to Philadelphia; Scranton to New York Rail Passenger Rail Service Program; Pittsburgh High-Speed Magnetic Levitation Project (this would be a Maglev, or magnetic levitation line from Pittsburgh International Airport to Monroeville/Greensburg); Keystone West Harrisburg to Pittsburgh High-Speed Rail Feasibility and Business Plan Study

Original Source: Pocono Record

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Pittsburgh's Cultural Trust has plenty to celebrate

Pittsburgh's Cultural Trust, founded years ago to revive downtown through new theaters, housing, and business development, has created a thriving performing arts district that has brought new audiences and residents  to a former red-light district, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"Twenty-five years ago, you wouldn't have spent a Friday or Saturday along the seedy Downtown corridors of Penn or Liberty avenues unless you were in the market for "adult" entertainment, 'marital aids,' paid companionship or porn. Today those same streets are the heart of the Cultural District, drawing 1.5 million patrons last year to the symphony, ballet, opera, theater, galleries and restaurants," wrote reporter Sally Kalson.

The Trust, the brainchild of H.J. Heinz II,  received major support from local foundations, including the Heinz Endowments.
Original Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read more here.

Study: York has space for 10 years of growth

York County has enough land to keep pace with economic development for at least 10 years, reports the York Dispatch.

Projections show a demand for 7.8 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space over a 10-year span, according to the study, conducted by the consulting firm Basile Bauman Prost Cole & Associates.

With about 5,246 acres appropriately zoned and available for those types development, the county can accommodate about 27 million square feet of development.


The study was formally adopted Wednesday into the county's comprehensive plan, which is used by the planning commission to help municipalities manage growth.

Original Source: York Dispatch
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PA seeks stimulus funds for storage tanks

Pennsylvania is seeking federal stimulus funds to plug leaks in underground storage tanks, an issue that costs the state up to $2 million a year, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The state is applying for $6.1 million to clean up 71 underground petroleum storage tanks in 40 counties that have been reported, or are suspected, to be leaking, Gov. Ed Rendell said Wednesday.

Since Pennsylvania began regulating underground storage tanks in 1989 there have been 14,700 known releases. Remediation has been completed for 11,500. The state gets money for cleanups from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund, which is supported by a tax on gasoline sold in the state.

Original Souce: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Cargas Systems set to move to green site at Lancaster Stockyards

Employee showers and bike racks are among many green features in store for the future $1.5-million-home of Cargas Systems at the former Lancaster Stockyards, reports the Lancaster Intelligencer.

Cargas Systems, a business software and consulting firm now on Granite Run Drive, would be the third firm to open at the city site.

CoreSource, an insurance claims processor on West King Street, and Benten BioServices, a vaccine research and development start-up, also will fill new buildings to be constructed there.

Groundbreaking for all three structures is set for the second half of this year, an associate of site developer Tim Harrison has said.

Original Souce: Lancaster Intelligencer
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Pedicabs Hit the Streets (and Hills) of Pittsburgh

A young entrepreneur has introduced Pittsburgh's first pedicab service. The three-wheeled contraptions, seven in all, debuted in the city's flatter neighborhoods this spring, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Kletter's inspiration for the human-powered transport was the rickshaws he patronized in travels throughout Asia. The 27-year-old Pittsburgh area native thinks the time is right for the new venture.

"We offer clean transportation, which aligns perfectly with Pittsburgh right now as one of the major green advocates in the country. We can also help the local community by acquainting people with the area and giving suggestions on restaurants, shops and nightlife," Kletter says.

Original Souce: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read more here.

Solar panels would make 15 acres in Perry Township an electric field

A Perry Township cornfield could become the site of the state's largest solar panel field, reports the Reading Eagle.

Early plans would place 18,000 to 20,000 solar panels on 14 to 15 acres off Route 61 near Houck Homes Inc.

The array could generate 4 megawatts easily, making it the most powerful solar panel field in the state, said Dean M. Arnold, solar project engineer for Solar Technology Solutions Inc., the Bern Township company working to develop the $24 million project.

Original Souce: Reading Eagle
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Money remains obstacle for Scranton-NYC railway

With environmental concerns out of the way, the Scranton-to-Hoboken passenger railroad project can focus on its next hurdle--money, reports the Republican Herald.

If the estimated $550 million project is to really get going, Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials will have to refine cost estimates, figure out what the states' and federal shares should be and commit to paying their shares.

Finding the money is key to convincing the Federal Transit Administration to rate the project. The FTA issues ratings of low, medium-low, medium, medium-high and high to designate whether a project deserves federal funding and the level it deserves. The criteria include whether a project makes travel easier or serves low-income households, reduces pollution, is cost-effective, boosts economic development and supports existing uses of land. The federal government typically contributes up to 50 percent to train projects, depending on their worthiness.

Original Souce: Republican Herald
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Economist names Pittsburgh most livable city in U.S.

In its recent ranking, The Economist ranked Pittsburgh as the most livable city in the U.S. and 29th worldwide. Vancouver, British Columbia grabbed the envied top spot this year, followed by Vienna, Melbourne and Toronto. While most North American cities fared well in  an international comparison, Pittsburgh's top scores came in indicators for stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

Read Pittsburgh Post-Gazette coverage here.

Whitaker Center to help produce IMAX film on Chesapeake Bay watershed

The Susquehanna Valley figures to have a starring role in a 3-D IMAX film that will inspire safeguarding of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, reports the Patriot-News. 

But its not just the Susquehanna River that will have a role in the $6 million film, which will feature the talents of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet oceanographer Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau.

Because the science-laced topic is so local, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is onboard as a producing partner of both the film and related educational efforts.

"Whitaker Center is very excited about being involved in a project of this size and scope," said CEO Michael L. Hanes. "It comes along at a time when we are looking at new ways of fulfilling our mission."

Original Souce: Patriot-News
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Philadelphia's Gardens of Delights

Urban green spaces and enormous botanical showcases in the suburbs make the Philadelphia area  a national leader among public gardens, reports the New York Times.

You might even say the city has a plethora of gardens. But plethora means “too many,” and there can never be a surfeit of gardens, can there? Especially not in spring and early summer, when a garden visit can chase away the spirit-dampening effects of a long gray winter.

Greater Philadelphia Gardens, a promotional group, lists 29 members. To narrow the field I picked four that charge no admission (Longwood charges $16 per adult), and one, Chanticleer, that costs just $5 for adults.

The selection, as it happened, provided a mix of history, terrain, setting and atmosphere — and a few unexpected encounters with wildlife.

Original Souce: The New York Times
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PA wants power companies to ground carbon dioxide emissions

State lawmakers among those who believe Pennsylvania's geology can store at least 100 years worth of the state's annual carbon dioxide emissions, reports the Express-Times.

Carbon capture and sequestration would take a stream of compressed carbon dioxide directly from electric utilities and pump it underground into depleted oil fields, shale formations and aquifers thousands of feet below ground. There, proponents hope, the gas will be permanently stored.

Pumping millions of pounds of pressurized gas more than 2,500 feet below ground is not easy.  Some environmental groups and power companies say carbon capture and storage is still decades away from being commercially feasible.

Original Souce: Express-Times
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Trash to treasure in Northeast PA

Northeast Pennsylvania art shop owner Ken Marquis's Landfillart Project turns hubcaps into art and creates awareness about environmental concerns, reports the Citizens Voice.

After seven months, Marquis has artists involved from every state and 44 countries throughout the world. But he says the project is only 40 percent complete. At its conclusion more than 1,000 artists will have completed the same project--turning a hubcap destined for the landfill into a piece of great art.

Marquis first asked local artist friends from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties to create art using one of the hubcaps. Each artist was given a primed hubcap--or a "metal canvas" as Marquis calls them--and they could do whatever they wanted with it. To Marquis' surprise and delight, none of them flinched when he gave them a hubcap as a canvas.

Read the full story here.

Lincoln's visit gives Gettysburg house hallowed place in American literature

The David Wills House in Gettysburg offered Abraham Lincoln a place to rest during one of the saddest moments of his presidency, and he took the time there to write the final draft of his--and perhaps this nation's greatest--moment of oratory, a distinction that makes the historic site worth a visit, says the Dallas News.

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address lasted only two minutes, and yet it has been called the "most enduring speech in American history."

Lincoln's stay in Gettysburg to deliver the speech was brief, too. He was in the south-central Pennsylvania town for less than 24 hours. And now, 146 years later, his Gettysburg address while visiting--the stately brick home of attorney David Wills at 8 Lincoln Square--is a museum.

Lincoln had dinner in the David Wills House. He penned revisions and wrote the final draft of his speech for Soldiers' National Cemetery while in the home's second-floor drawing room. And yes, Lincoln slept here, too.

Read the full article here.

Allegheny County will top first public building with a green roof

The Allegheny County Office Building in Downtown Pittsburgh will become the first public building in the county to sport a green rooftop, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports.
In addition, the planters in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse will be converted into rain gardens.

"These projects will save energy, reduce stormwater runoff and cut down on the amount of pollution reaching our rivers," [County Executive Dan] Onorato said in a statement. "These projects will also demonstrate that green infrastructure works, and we will use them to show residents and businesses how they can employ green roofs and rain gardens to benefit the environment, and be energy efficient as well."
Read the full story here.

Fast Company: UPenn among hot schools for environmental studies

The University of Pennsylvania's dual-degree program offering for an MBA and a Masters in Environmental studies, which can be completed in about three years, is among the hottest degrees in sustainability, reports Fast Company Magazine.

University officials say they "expect that this degree will allow students to use cutting edge management and financial techniques to close the gap between business and the environmental sciences." In addition, Wharton also offers an MBA concentration in Environmental and Risk Management, which focuses on how business impacts the environment, health and safety.

Read the full story here.

Allegheny College professor studies consumer attitudes about consumption

An Allegheny College professor makes a study of how Americans consume, and the Los Angeles Times turned to him for insight on a recent study of the effects of the current recession on the consumption habits of Americans.
Michael F. Maniates, an associate professor of political and environmental science at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., said scholarly research has consistently shown that most Americans think their countrymen over-consume, but don't think they do personally.

Significantly, Maniates said, Americans' ideas about what constitutes a high level of consumption have radically altered over time. Since the last decades of the 20th century, instead of just trying to keep up with the Joneses next door, many of us have been trying to match lifestyles with Wall Street hedge fund managers who summer in the Hamptons, or with the images of Hollywood opulence that relentlessly bombard us--or with "Sex and the City."

Original Source: Los Angeles Times
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Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville looks like neighborhood of the future

For a pleasant stroll on a sunny spring day, Pittsburgh's historic Lawrenceville neighborhood offers an example of a place that has a noteworthy future, the Financial Times reports.

"Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears. Oh! Hard Times, come again no more. While we all sup sorrow with the poor: There's a song that will linger forever in our ears."

More than a century after the Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster - perhaps the greatest American songwriter of the 19th century - wrote this, his words ring true.

Yet residents of Lawrenceville, the area where Foster was born and raised, are hoping that, in this recession, the hardest of times might pass them by.

Read the full article here.

Solar-powered trash crusher bellies up to Philly

Philadelphia unveiled one of its new solar-powered trash compactors they plan to install throughout Center City in the next few months, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Dubbed "Big Bellies," after the company that manufactures them, the cans compact trash using solar power. The city plans to replace 700 wire trash baskets with 500 solar litter compactors between now and July.

Philly is also poised to start offering pedestrian recycling for the first time. Recycling cans will be placed next to 210 of the compactors.

Read the full story here

Johnstown region finds new energy in the wind

Strictly carbonaceous not so long ago, the region around Johnstown is making an increasingly strong bid for renewable energy as the force for its future, the Tribune-Democrat reports.

Alternative energy sources accelerated by a push to move the nation past fossil fuels is gaining ground in the Cambria-Somerset region largely in response to the state's goal to get

20 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Progress is being made on a wide variety of fronts.

Wind energy continues to lead in alternative energy while solar is generating increased interest. Methane production from area landfills is boasting success and a Richland Township company is developing fuel cells technology.

Read the full article here.

Scenic Clarion seeks to share its vistas

Two rivers run through Clarion County along with Interstate 80. Add old growth Cook Forest to the region's landscape, and local business leaders want to focus more attention on tourism, the Courier-Express reports.
A small group gathered at the Clarion Holiday Inn Thursday to hear Dave Morris, director of the Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau; Larry McFadden, owner of the Top Hill Cabins in Cook Forest; Mike Vereb, general manager of The Foxburg Inn; and Meredith Hill, executive policy manager of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, speak about tourism in Clarion County.

Morris said visitors come to Clarion County for a number of reasons including the location of I-80, Clarion University, cabin rentals and special events like the Autumn Leaf Festival.

"The Clarion and Allegheny rivers are definite attributes," he said.
Read the full article here.

PA authors win gold medal for green homebuilding how-to

The independent publishing industry's Living Now Book Awards honor Kennett Square authors Avrim and Vicki Topel for their first-ever guide to building a sustainable home, World-Wire reports.

Independent Publisher, the voice of the Independent Publishing Industry, announced today that Green Beginnings: The Story of How We Built Our Green & Sustainable Home by husband and wife author team Avrim and Vicki Topel has won the Gold Medal for the Homebuilding Category of the 2008 First Annual Living Now Book Awards.

The Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor the year’s best books that help readers attain healthier, more fulfilling and productive lives. The global competition was open to authors and publishers throughout North America and overseas publishers who publish English-language books intended for the American market.

Read the full article here and see the complete list of winners here.

Dickinson honored for green practices

Dickinson College, which has adopted environmentally friendly practices and technologies while working to revitalize communities and reduce pollution, was the only college in the state to receive the 2009 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence, reports The Sentinel.

President William G. Durden's agreement in 2007 to participate in the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which commits the college to a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality.

Dickinson purchases 50 percent of its energy from wind power and is determined that all new construction and major renovations will be designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program's LEED Silver standards. For example, the latest additions to Dickinson College's new Rector Science Complex, Stuart and James halls, completed last fall, achieved LEED Gold status.

The college composts all of its food waste, which it uses to fertilize the soil at its farm.

Read the full story here.

PA-friendly biofuel in the works

Penn State-Harrisburg researchers are working on an alternative fuel source that could reduce the country's dependence on oil and is designed to grow in cold-weather states like Pennsyvlania, reports the Patriot-News.

The oil-rich jatropha plant is said to cost far less than soybeans and corn to produce biodiesel and can grow in marginal soil. An acre of the plant is capable of producing enough jatropha seeds to make 202 gallons of biodiesel fuel. The problem is this plant likes the hot, balmy temperatures of Costa Rica or India.

Enter a cold-tolerant gene, patented by Penn State Harrisburg assistant biology professor Sairam Rudrabhatla, and the technology that his research team developed.

Read the full story here.

Philadelphia cracks top five on Prevention's 25 Best Walking Cities list

Low speed limits and lots of schools earned Philadelphia the No. 4 spot among the 25 Best Walking Cities, reports Prevention magazine.

Top honors were awarded to San Francisco (#1), Boston (#2), New York City (#3), Philadelphia (#4), and Chicago (#5). New for 2009: A list of 15 “honorable mentions” for cities that are best for families, nature walks, fitness walkers, and walking commuters.

Metro areas were evaluated based on 19 criteria including population density per square mile, use of mass transit, crime rates, and square miles of local and state parks. Prevention, APMA, and Sperling’s Best Places also consulted with a panel of nationally recognized experts in the field of walking communities.

Read the full story here.

Earth-friendly technology abundant on Lebanon-area farms

Solar panels, wind turbines, and drip-sprinkler systems are part of South Londonberry Township's inaugural Earth Day farm tour on April 25, reports the Lebanon Daily News.

Township manager Thomas Ernharth said the tour was designed “to allow our residents to get a feel for and experience a working farm, as well as the role farms play in maintaining the rural character of our township.”

The tour will start at the Risser-Marvel Farm Market along Route 322, just east of Campbelltown, at 9 a.m., followed by the farm of Jim and Cindy Hess, 5641 Gingrich Road, and Carl Weidler’s dairy farm at 717 Lawn Road.

Read the full story here.

Three worthy rescuers come to the aid of Fort Pitt

On the heels of its 250th anniversary last year, Pittsburgh faced foreclosure this year on the historical Fort Pitt that gave the town its decisive bulwark against the turning tides of history in the French and Indian Wars. No longer, the Post-Gazette reports, as three local organizations have come to the rescue.

The timing was jarring. Pittsburgh just last year celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding with great fanfare. The Fort Pitt Museum, which in recent years has been upgraded, tells the story of that founding at the very site where it occurred during the epic French and Indian War.
Now, no sooner than the anniversary is over, the museum has been threatened with closure because of the state budget crunch.

Equally threatened is the Bushy Run Battlefield site in Westmoreland County, scene of an important battle in 1763 between Indians and British forces, who were on their way to relieve a siege at Fort Pitt.

Read the full article here.

PA conservation agency keeps eye on clean energy as former Hazleton mayor guides state policy

In focusing Pennsylvania's search for renewable energy, acting secretary for conservation and natural resources John Quigley has been burning a few extra calories of his own, the Republican Herald reports.

As the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, former Hazleton Mayor John Quigley needs energy.

"The 10-11-hour days are something north of 12. It's a lot more hectic and fast-paced," Quigley said Thursday while wrapping up his first week in the new job.

It takes energy to keep the pace in a department that seeks new sources of energy for Pennsylvania.

Read the full article here.

A rallying call rises for a famous beer to come home

Rolling Rock Beer, once the most famous brands in Western Pennsylvania, has wandered far from its home in Latrobe since being sold to Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, where its popularity has languished. Now as the brewed beverage market goes through a consolidation, there's a move afoot to bring the Rock back to Western PA, Trib LIVE Business reports.

Rolling Rock's potential sale comes three years after Anheuser-Busch paid $82 million -- to InBev -- for the then-Latrobe-brewed beer.

The buyer bought the brand, not the assets, selling the brewery to City Brewing Co. of La Crosse, Wis. City Brewing reopened the plant in June 2007, only to cease brewing beer for other companies five months later.

Locals say brewing of the beer should return to Latrobe. Rolling Rock first was brewed there in 1939.

Read the full article here.

New Technology may help with Ambler-area asbestos removal

Three municipalities in suburban Philadelphia may use a new technology, thermochemical conversion, to rid themselves of decades-old asbestos, reports the Ambler Gazette.

President of ARI Technologies Dale Timmons spoke to a nearly full house at Ambler Theater March 25 about the benefits of his company's technology and its application to the 60-plus acres that could be cleaned up in the municipalities.

The process involves using heat and chemicals on a rotary hearth to convert asbestos into volcanic minerals. The resulting material could then be used as a construction aggregate, which Timmons said "would have value."

Read the full story here.

Environmental sleuth seeks rare Indiana bat along transmission line route in Poconos

Pennsylvania Power & Light's plan for a new transmission line places an expert on the trail of a winged mammal whose flyways the company will need to protect, the Pocono Record reports.
Chris Sanders thinks bats are cute.

"They look like tiny dogs close up."

Sanders, an environmental scientist, works with the winged mammals every day. This month, Sanders will be in the Poconos as he prepares for an environmental survey along the proposed Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.
Read the full article here.

Easton's $2.1M riverfront project wins support from Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

The riverfront in Easton along Larry Holmes Drive will soon become a vibrant public space thanks to unanimous approval for $2.1 million in funding from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission for the project's first phase, reports the Express-Times.

The commission, meeting in Solebury Township, unanimously agreed Monday to let the city use the $2.1 million as the sole source of funding for the project's first phase, which includes narrowing Larry Holmes Drive and adding lighted walkways in Scott and Riverside parks.

"I'm very pleased," Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said after the commission's unanimous decision. "Our waterfront will become the gathering place it should be."

The project aims to slim down Larry Holmes Drive to slow traffic, making it easier for pedestrians to reach Scott and Riverside parks and ''creating a public space that is more accessible,'' said Frank McCartney, the commission's executive director.

Read the full story here.

Keystone programs bring jobs and business investment to Fayette County

KOZ, KIZ, and KISK could be the names of new bands still struggling to build an audience, but in Fayette County and other parts of Pennsylvania they are recognized as state economic assistance programs that really do help to drum up business, as the Herald Standard reports.

In the past decade, the Pennsylvania Keystone Opportunity Zone program has brought more than 550 new jobs to Fayette County and garnered more than $500 million in business investment.
Barry Seneri, Fay-Penn Economic Development Council economic development manager reported those statistics to the agency's board at its quarterly meeting Friday.

"We have 25 companies in the KOZ, most of which will go onto the tax rolls in 2013. That will mean an annual increase in tax revenues of about $400,000,'' Seneri said. Broken down, the county will get about $300,000, the school districts $89,000 and the municipalities the balance.

Read the full article here.

The better rooms at this hotel will be in the stable

Lancaster's Urban Place development promises to provide one of Pennsylvania's unique spots for travelers, Lancaster Online reports.

"It's got character. It's got class... There's not another hotel like this," said Randy Howat, vice president of Inns of Distinction, a management company that specializes in such historical properties as the Gettysburg Hotel and Independence Park in Philadelphia, and plans to run the Cork Factory Hotel.

The five buildings that make up the hotel date from the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s, Baldwin said, and are the oldest in the entire Urban Place complex.

Read the full article here.

Hybrid buses could pick up in Lackawanna County

Lackawanna County's transportation authority has announced plans to use $2.5 million in anticipated federal stimulus money to purchase up to four hybrid buses, reports the Scranton Times-Tribune.
As part of a commitment to the environment--and cutting costs--COLTS is looking to buy only hybrid buses, said executive director Bob Fiume. The hybrids would represent 10 percent of the authority's 31 buses. Other companies running the hybrid buses are reporting a 30 percent savings in fuel, he said.
COLTS also wants to use the funding for such equipment as a tracking system for buses and other technical support devices for managing the bus system.

Read the complete story here.


Pittsburgher's letter to Detroit offers insights about downsizing

John Craig, a Pittsburgher who knows the history of the region's adjustment after the collapse of heavy manufacturing, offers an insight to the people of Detroit with a column in the Washington Post.
When I think about the lessons the Steel City's 30-year economic transformation may hold for Detroit, another town built on an industry beaten by competition and confronting bankruptcy, I have to say that the first and hardest lesson for the Motor City is this: Fundamental change will be much longer in coming than you can imagine. You'll survive. The automakers, bailed out or not, will shrink and adapt to a new future and a new reality. The city will remake itself in whatever ways it can. But there'll be no "getting over" your past, only moving beyond it.
Read the full article here.

Landmark foundation rescues buildings with a legacy in Elizabeth

The private, non-profit Pittsburgh History & Landmark Foundation has been helping communities restore old buildings that have a special place in their communities. The Post-Gazette reports its latest project is in the town of Elizabeth.

In September 2007, the county launched Allegheny Together, a small-business revitalization program designed to encourage well-planned, well-designed, and geographically-focused investment in established urban commercial districts.

For the first year of the three-year program, the county hired PHLF and Town Center Associates to provide technical assistance to the pilot communities, of which Elizabeth Borough is one.
Among the services were complimentary architectural design services for facade renovations and information on applying for facade improvement grants and small business loans.

Read the full article here.

Plans to preserve pristine Spring Creek Canyon unveiled in Centre County

Hikers have long recognized the canyon as a unique place to get away from it all. Now professional planners are looking at ways to protect its special vistas and surroundings, the Centre Daily Times reports.
"I say just leave it, don't turn it into anything," said Rock Road resident Bob Selander, 81, a retired biology professor who's been walking the Canyon floor for two decades. "My physician tells me that's what keeps me alive - walking my damn dog."
Bill Moyer, of Ferguson Township, a retired engineer from Penn State's Applied Research Lab, was without a dog but seemed buoyed as well by the balmy weather as the sun slanted through skeletal trees one afternoon last week.
"This is a treasure--it's tucked away and it's urban, and it's rural," Moyer said. "To me, ownership doesn't make that much difference as long as it's protected."

Read the full article here.

Looking at worldwide slump, Atlantic Monthly notes success of Pittsburgh's economic change

In the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, explores How the Crash Will Reshape America. While examining at length major shifts likely to occur in many regions of the United States, the author, a former faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, notes the transition that Pittsburgh has made in the diversification of its manufacturing economy.
The great urbanist Jane Jacobs was among the first to identify cities' diverse economic and social structures as the true engines of growth. Although the specialization identified by Adam Smith creates powerful efficiency gains, Jacobs argued that the jostling of many different professions and different types of people, all in a dense environment, is an essential spur to innovation-to the creation of things that are truly new. And innovation, in the long run, is what keeps cities vital and relevant.
Read the full article here.

Pittsburgh landmarks foundation turns downtown eyesore into premium space

Rescuing a four-storey building before it crumbled, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation makes a distinctive addition to the restoration and reuse of real estate in and around Market Square, the city's well known and heavily trafficked space for noontime strolls and public gatherings, the Post-Gazette reports.

It wasn't that long ago that the building at 439 Market St., Downtown was in such a crumbling state that nearby property owners feared it could collapse at any moment.
But you wouldn't know it some four years later.

Thanks to the intervention of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, the four-story structure is being transformed into an architectural gem.

Read the full article here.

Controversial 'earmarks' help Northeast PA meet a variety of public obligations

More than $15 million in earmarked spending will make its way to northeastern Pennsylvania, and a list of the projects for which it's destined, published by the Times-Tribune, reflects a wide variety of efforts to assist local agencies and organizations in providing public services.

The projects range from $4.5 million to finish a Scranton flood project to hundreds of thousands for local hospitals to more than $180,000 for a college radio station in Wilkes-Barre.

They were announced in a news release issued jointly by U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey and U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjor- ski and in a separate news release by U.S. Rep. Chris Carney. The four members of Congress were responsible for obtaining the money.

Read the full article here.

Development plan for 32-mile Allegheny River trail under way

Allegheny County plans to complete a development plan for a 32-mile trail along the Allegheny River between Millvale and Harrison, and has hired McTish Kunkel and Associates to begin the mapping process for the proposed Allegheny Valley Trail, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We've established a coalition of boroughs, townships, trail groups and greenway advocates to build a continuous riverfront trail that will expand recreational and economic development opportunities," said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, who created the Allegheny Valley Community Trail Initiative last year to start work on the project.

The consultant will help plot the actual course by determining land ownership, identifying challenging terrain, studying potential usage, and evaluating trail linkages, said Mr. Onorato.

Read the complete article here.

PA instate regional airports explore links to Pittsburgh International

Having your own regional airport doesn't necessarily guarantee a connection to the nearest big city gateway to national and international flights. The town of Latrobe is trying to change that situation and find an airline that will fly its travelers to Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
"None of the 13 smaller, regional airports in the state serve Pittsburgh. That's just unbelievable to me," said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which operates Arnold Palmer Regional in Unity.

The only way in-state fliers can land at Pittsburgh International is by taking off from Philadelphia International Airport, he said.
Read the full story here.

ClearWater Conservancy blazes State College bike trail to Musser Gap

Bikers and hikers will soon have a greenway leading to one of Pennsylvania's beautiful wilderness places, Rothrock State Forest, the Centre Daily Times reports.
"Conservation is not just about protecting places; it's also about connecting people to those places," said ClearWater executive director Jennifer Shuey. "A really important part of what we do at ClearWater is making sure we can create that tie between the community and places we've set aside for their protection."

In 2006, ClearWater bought the 423-acre Musser Gap to preserve it from development, then turned it over to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Clear- Water conservation biologist Katie Ombalski said DCNR has plans to link trails in Musser Gap to ones in Rothrock.
Read the full article here.

Schuylkill County soccer coach recycles glass--and her career

Laura Baranko of McAdoo, Schuylkill County, formerly a court reporter and a soccer coach, has stumbled into a second career as co-owner and vice-president of LCL Industries Inc., a start-up glass-recycling plant--the only one of its kind in North America, reports the Reading Eagle.

The company partnered with the Krysteline Group Ltd., of Dorset, England, to employ a new technology called implosion, which purifies glass and blasts it into sand-like particles.

LCL signed on with Krysteline to build a $3.5 million plant West Brunswick Township, Schuylkill County, off Route 61 between Orwigsburg and Deer Lake. The plant is due to open in March.

"It's the next generation of recycling," Whettingsteel said. "This is the first of its kind in North America. There are several plants in Europe, but not this particular model."

Original Souce: Reading Eagle
Read the complete article

PA Wilds Resource Center launches new Web site

The PA Wilds Resource Center, which is devoted to sustainable tourism and its role in community revitalization, has launched a new Web site to strengthen its reach throughout 12 counties of North Central Pennsylvania, gantdaily.com reports.
Small business owners, entrepreneurs, outdoor and sportsmen's groups and other community leaders and residents interested in learning more about the Pennsylvania Wilds initiative or tourism development in the region now have a new online resource.

The Web site, called the PA Wilds Resource Center, is designed to help foster economic growth in the region and to help residents stay informed about the opportunities and successes of the PA Wilds initiative.
Read the full article here. And visit the PA Wilds Resource Center website here.

Braddock mayor reaches out to America with story of former steel community's hopes

John Fetterman faces the camera more often than most mayors of struggling mill towns, and, while he doesn't seek the attention, he's happy to talk about the imagination that goes into trying to spark a revival when the national media come calling, the Post-Gazette reports.
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman has become a bit of a national media (and faux media) darling.

He appeared on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" Wednesday night. He was featured in a New York Times article earlier this month about efforts to revitalize blighted and economically depressed Braddock and yesterday afternoon was on FoxNews' "Studio B w/Shepard Smith."

"I don't revel in that," Mr. Fetterman, 39, said yesterday via phone from New York. "It's just really an embarrassment of riches."
Read the full article here.

Southwest PA meets Southeast Asia with an assist over the Internet

A group of southwestern Pennsylvanians paid a visit to Vietnam this month, and new opportunities for the region to trade with one of the fastest growing nations in Southeast Asia dominated the itinerary. In what was definitely a demonstration that new media makes it much easier these days for West and East to meet, Roger Cranville, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance's senior vice president for global marketing, provided up to date reports on the progress of the mission through an e-diary posted online by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
The Asian Tigers - Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan - roared in the 1990s. Then, the Tigers' rapid economic growth and export-oriented industrialization seemed the norm.

But fast forward about 15 years to 2009. Nine years into the "Asian Century," economic times are very different. Today the focus has shifted from the original Tigers to other Asian economies that are experiencing economic transformation - even during a global economic downturn.
Read the first diary here, the second here, the third here, and the fourth here.

How advanced technology has become the strong force in the City of Steel

Technology has become an increasingly visible force in the growth of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and two recent articles in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examine the breadth and importance of the investment made in high technology to the present and future growth of western Pennsylvania. 

The $1 billion of research funding that funnels into the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University every year makes Western Pennsylvania "a player" in the technology arena.
"But that's not the be-all and end-all" of the region's technological might, said Marc Malandro, Pitt's head of technology management.

Read the full articles here and here.

City water department nets $2M to improve safety system

The Philadelphia Water Department received a $2 million grant, part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water-security initiative, to support improvements to a system used to detect and prevent terrorist attacks or other deliberate contamination, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

City Water Commissioner Bernard Brunwasser said the program would complement an early-warning system for the city's water supply. It alerts downstream water users on the Schuylkill and the Delaware River to any potential water-quality problems.

Implemented in 2005, the system has logged 100 "events," including a 100-million-gallon fly ash spill on the Delaware River in August 2005 and a cyanide discharge into Wissahickon Creek in June 2006. Flood warnings and sewage discharges were also logged.

Read the full story here.

Discovering the finer tastes of Pittsburgh in the district that once produced heavy metals

More than a hundred years ago, Pittsburgh's Strip District was the place to take a look at the furnaces of America's leading metal manufacturers. Today, the leading product it places in hot ovens is fine foods sold in the city's most concentrated center for wholesale and retail groceries--and a bevy of emporiums for local and visiting dinners who go there for meals that are mighty tasty. The Asbury Park (NJ) Press sent a reporter there to sample of the fare.

It's Saturday at Pittsburgh's historic Strip District, an area stuffed with mom-and-pop businesses, gourmet food stores and offbeat gift shops. The outdoor seating, international foods, homemade clothing and artifacts and even high-end, imported spices and cheeses lend this neighborhood an almost European feel.

"It's just a wonderful, gritty environment there's a sense of discovery," said Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip, a nonprofit group that promotes the area. "It's Pittsburgh's favorite neighborhood."

Read the full article here.

State DEP aids Slate Belt quarry development plan

The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a $1 million Growing Greener grant to Slate Hills Enterprises to fill a quarry and build on and around it, reports the Express-Times.

Slate Hills wants to fill a 5-acre quarry near the Washington Township boundary with 34 acres of surrounding slate spoils, leveling the entire 39 acres for development. The quarry and slate spoils are on commercial land along Route 512.

Slate Hills is a partnership between Gibraltar Homes owner Pete Iselo and Great American Real Eastate owner Ron DeCesare.

Read the full story here.

Limerick builder goes green with $500K single-family homes

Dewey Homes, a longtime suburban tract housing specialist, has constructed a model for sustainable single-family housing as it looks to build on the green success started in apartment complexes and institutional and commercial facilities, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.
In the realm of single-family housing development, green has been all but shunned by those builders who construct tract housing that fills vast swaths of the suburban landscape. The exceptions up to this point have been custom builders who construct a handful of projects at a time.
Dewey began investigating green building nearly three years ago. Company representatives visited homebuilders in Colorado, California and Oklahoma who were already incorporating green principles in their work. Out of its research, the developer decided to make a commitment toward more sustainable development with the hopes other high-production developers would follow and consumers would eventually become more comfortable with it, demand it and place a premium on it.
Read the full story here.

PA counts the benefits from federal stimulus package

The federal program to stimulate the U.S. economy contains some large numbers for the state of Pennsylvania--some 143,000 jobs according to the White House and $16 billion in direct spending according to Governor Ed Rendell, as detailed in separate stories by the Associated Press and the Philadelphia Business Journal.

From the AP: The White House estimates that Pennsylvania stands to gain 143,000 jobs from the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus bill pending in Congress. The estimates were released Thursday by the White House as more details aome out about the final legislation agreed to by the White House and Congress.

From the Business Journal: More than $16 billion would flow into Pennsylvania's economy over the next 18 months from the national economic stimulus agreement reached by House and Senate leaders, Gov. Ed Rendell reported Thursday night.

Read the full AP article here and the Business Journal article here.

SWPA Water Authority infrastructure calls for $9.8 million investment

In seeking funds from Pennsylvania’s H2O PA program, the Water Authority of Southwestern PA outlines plans to create a new recreation area while it strengthens a crumbling reservoir and repairs waterlines in Nemacolin and other communities that are more than 100 years old. The Observer-Reporter has the story.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority has applied for more than $9.8 million in state grant money to repair a dam and extend and replace water lines.

The authority submitted applications for the money under the state's H2O PA grant program, a new program created to fund critical water, dam and sewage projects.

Authority engineer Randy Krause informed the authority Thursday that the applications have been submitted. The grant program will cover 80 percent of the total costs of a dam project but only 662/3 percent of the cost of water line projects, he said.
Read the full article here.

Renewed optimism for biofuel proposal near Scranton

A developer wants to build a $250 million state-of-the-art ethanol plant that vaporizes wood chips and converts them into ethanol, diesel fuel or jet fuel, and he's eyeing up 50 acres bordering Scranton, reports the Times-Tribune.
The proposed Taylor plant would vaporize wood chips, creating a synthetic gas which would recombine into biofuel, Mr. Scheller said, churning out 25 to 50 million gallons a year.
The plant would also recycle the waste energy it produces and convert it to “green electricity.” Mr. Scheller even hopes to recapture the carbon dioxide the plant emits.
No plans have been submitted for the Taylor facility, but Mr. Scheller went before the planning commission last week to talk about his vision.
Read the full story here.

Sunshine brightens the energy plan for Pittsburgh

The world's most abundant source of energy--the sun--isn't just for the south and west anymore. With encouragement from the U.S. Department of Energy, Pittsburgh is exploring the skies overhead for fuel to light the city's future, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports.

As part of an initiative to find ways to use solar energy, Pittsburgh is planing to install a solar-powered hot water unit in a city firehouse. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced the plan at the Solar America Cities training workshop held at the IBEW training center on the city's South Side.

"Getting everybody at the table to learn about clean solar energy is the first big step toward developing a larger solar energy plan for Pittsburgh," Ravenstahl said. "Soon, a firehouse that runs hot water on solar energy will further represent our transformation as the black, gold, and green city, and show businesses and residents that solar is the sustainable way to go."

Read the full story here.

Coyotes need no escort to reach Pennsylvania

It's been suggested that humans first brought coyotes into Pennsylvania, but that's probably not true. Scientists have been looking for a better explanation, and the Post-Gazette has the story.

According to a recent report from a State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry research project, a collared eastern coyote was trapped on January 8 by William Fancher near East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, in northeast Pennsylvania. According to SUNY officials, this particular coyote traveled 150 miles from where it was trapped, tagged and released, near Oneonta, New York, in April, 2008.

"These types of long-distance movements demonstrate how eastern coyotes were able to rapidly colonize natural habitats throughout Pennsylvania during past decades," said Matthew Lovallo, Game Commission game mammal section supervisor.

Read the full story here.

Survey finds large companies offer secure places to work in Lehigh Valley

Overall the picture for employment inched upward in the Lehigh Valley as the 2008 recession gave a nasty punch in other regions of the United States. The Morning Call examines how workers fared in Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Trimmed payrolls at Mack Trucks and Air Products and Chemicals were offset by gains at other employers, especially the local hospital networks...

At year's end, the top 25 private employers had 53,619 workers in the two-county region, up slightly from the 53,107 in 2007. That means employers on the top-25 list account for about one of every five jobs in the Lehigh Valley, which all told has 282,600 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Read the full story here.

PA provides dough to build bagel bakery in Lebanon County

The Lebanon Rails Business Park will include a family-owned bakery.  Always Bagels will invest $21.5 million in the space of 68,000 square-feet and create 78 jobs, the Lebanon Daily News reports, and Pennsylvania will help to fund the development.

Always Bagels, based in the Long Island town of Bohemia, N.Y., is investing $21.5 million in the project, which will create 78 jobs within three years, according to an agreement the company reached with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Governor's Action Team.

"The state has extended a funding offer that the company can apply for," DCED spokesman Luke Webber said yesterday.

The $4,481,100 available for the project would come from a variety of funding sources, Webber said.

Read the full story here

PennDOT's Hometown Streets program passes another milestone in Mahanoy City

Like many Pennsylvania towns, Mahanoy City has been taking advantage of state funding programs that have been helping local governments put a bright, welcoming face on the downtown. Officials in the Schuylkill County borough were grateful to celebrate the progress last week, the Republican Herald reports.

"This has been a long time coming," Mahanoy City Borough Manager Jerry Teter said in the Teen Canteen prior to the ribbon cutting.

Teter said he picked up the first streetscape project check from PennDOT in 2005.

"It was a big project that involved a lot of planning and a lot of PennDOT work," Teter said.

"We did this project to inspire businesses to come back to the local area, and also to bring residents to the downtown," said James J. Rhoades Jr., borough engineer and president of Mahanoy Downtown Inc.

Read the full story here

Pittsburgh shows resilience in the makeover after its decline with steel manufacturing

The region that steel made went through its own depression two decades ago with the worldwide restructuring of that industry.  Now, at a time when much of America faces the severest economic downturn in the last 50 years, the Steel City has clearly bounced back, and the New York Times takes a look at a metropolitan region that appears to be doing better than many others.

"If people are looking for hope, it's here," said Sabina Deitrick, an urban studies expert at the University of Pittsburgh. "You can have a decent economy over a long period of restructuring."
Pittsburgh's transition has been proceeding for decades in fits and starts, benefiting some areas much more than others. A development plan begun in the 1980s successfully used the local universities to pour state funds into technology research.

Read the full story here.

Transit-focused, mixed-use development for Delaware Valley receives $1M boost

Plans for a former manufacturing site in Ambler call for its conversion to a mixed-use, transit-oriented condominium community, and an additional $1 million in Pennsylvania redevelopment assistance will move the project forward, according to The Reporter.
For much of the 20th century, asbestos had been manufactured at the Keasbey and Mattison facility, and it has deteriorated into an unattractive nuisance that poses a threat to the health and safety of the community, according to [State Sen. Stewart J.] Greenleaf.
The two proposed development projects, The Crossings at Ambler and Ambler Boiler House, will remediate both the severely asbestos contaminated Keasbey and Mattison manufacturing facility and the power station in Ambler.

Read the full story here.

World Green Energy Symposium set for Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre

An international conference on alternative energy, the World Green Energy Symposium and Exposition, is coming to the Wyoming Valley in September and is expected to draw business, academic and government leaders from around the world, reports the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.
The event will be staged at Wachovia Arena Sept. 13-15 and will showcase new, alternative, sustainable and innovative product development and green energy opportunities for businesses and consumers.
There will be a focus on current and new energy policies, and green technology options available and already succeeding, according to Daisy Gallagher, of Gallagher & Gallagher Worldwide – a Washington, D.C., public relations firm.
Read the full article here.

Online inaugural oasis invites Washington-bound travelers to stop in PA

Thousands of people will stream through Pennsylvania on the way to the Inauguration of 44th President of the United States Barack Obama on Jan. 20. And, if the crowded encounter in the nation's capitol inspires a deeper thirst for more leisurely exploration of American history, VisitPA, Pennsylvania's official tourism website, offers help to locate a suitable place to visit the heritage of the Commonwealth and its contributions to the American democracy, while coming and going to inaugural events.
Spend a few nights in the State of Independence, rich with Presidential history, unique experiences, and special deals!

We would like to encourage you to explore the destinations below to find ideal lodging for your Inaugural pilgrimage while allowing enough time to make your own history in the Commonwealth.
To examine the resources for inaugural travelers, go here.

10,000 Friends invite nominees for 2009 Commonwealth Awards

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to smart growth, wants to honor visionaries whose works create sustainable growth and workable solutions for the Commonwealth's economy and environment. The public is invited to nominate entries for the 2009 Commonwealth Awards to be presented in next June.
The 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Awards is a juried state-wide program to recognize businesses, nonprofits, elected officials, and citizens contributing to the economic and environmental health of the Commonwealth.
The awards pay tribute to visionaries - developers, builders, designers, community leaders, local officials, financiers, and others - who have invested in building a better future for Pennsylvania. These leaders put smart growth to work by envisioning, promoting, designing and building communities that improve life for residents, employers, employees, and visitors.
Read the full announcement here.

PA farmers gather around plans to keep energy costs down

The uses and cost of fuel for Pennsylvania farmers dominated the first-ever Energy on the Farm Forum held at the Lancaster Farm and Home Center last week. Lancaster Farming reports on the discussion.

The forum focused on ideas and trends related to energy on the farm and how farmers can possibly save money by becoming more energy efficient in their practices.

The unfortunate reality for many people is that even though everyone is getting a reprieve from high gas prices, which most experts believe is only temporary, the reality of surging energy prices will truly hit home to most Pennsylvanians when electric prices go up starting in 2010, when rate caps on generation come off.

Read the full article here.

Marcellus Shale reserves could meet U.S. natural gas needs for 14 years, PSU geoscientist says

While recession, regulation, and environmental impacts are having immediate effects on the drive to drill into the deep reserves of the Marcellus Shale, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the vision of what's below the surface is enormous.
Pennsylvania State University geoscientist Dr. Terry Engelder was upbeat last week in telling those attending the first Pennsylvania Natural Gas Summit in State College that there are 363 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Marcellus shale, enough to supply all of the nation's natural gas needs for 14 years.

That estimate, based on recent deep-well-production reports and better geologic data, is seven times larger than his earlier projections.
Read the full article here.

Northhampton CC students prepare to join green energy work force

Preparing Lehigh Valley students to work in a green labor force is becoming a part of the curriculum at Northampton Community College. The Express-Times reports on the latest course to be added to the college's curriculum.

Last month, the college won one of a dozen $15,000 grants from the Allentown-based private nonprofit Sustainable Energy Fund and PPL Electrical Utilities to build a 3-kilowatt array of solar panels on campus.

This is the third year of the Solar Scholars program, which started in 2005 with one Pennsylvania school and is up to 12 this year.

Read the full article here.

Bucks County CC halts tuition for unemployed workers

Bucks County Community College offers tuition relief to help unemployed workers adjust to lost jobs--the second time the college has offered such a program. Workers who have lost full-time jobs in the last year can complete up to 30 hours of course credits without tuition charges in regular classes offered between January 2009 and August 2010.
"It's designed to offer up windows of opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn't have the resources to do it," President James Linksz said.

The free tuition program is similar to the effort in 2002 and 2003 to help county residents who were displaced by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. During that initiative, approximately 300 county residents took at least one free course, Linksz said.
Read the full article here.

Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm turns to second stage

Gamesa, developer of one of the largest wind power farms planned for Pennsylvania, is finding a way to navigate the complexities of land use planning. The Tribune Democrat reports on a proposal to subdivide parcels so that the project can move forward.
In question is a portion of land belonging to Angel Trust, a division of the Cooney Bros. Coal Co. of Cresson, where nine of the turbines already have been constructed, said Doug Copeland of Philadelphia, senior project manager for Gamesa Energy USA.
Read the full article here.

PA ready to invest in business, energy, and infrastructure to help economy

Pennsylvania has a backup plan for giving the state's economy a pickup. It is prepared to make long-term investment in state infrastructure, the Morning Call reported Monday.
The state has more than $2.5 billion earmarked for various business, energy and infrastructure projects, which will help soften the blow of the global economic meltdown on Pennsylvania, a state official said this afternoon at a meeting of municipal and business representatives.
Read the full article here.

Ethanol plant preparing to bring biofuels production to Central PA

Central Pennsylvania will soon be the home of a major ethanol plant. The Clearfield County plant will have the capacity to produce 100 million gallons of the corn-derived fuel each year, the Centre Daily Times reports.
A year and a half ago, the idea of an ethanol plant in central Pennsylvania was a pie-in-the-sky proposal. Today, giant towers, tanks and silos are creating a new skyline overlooking Clearfield as the project comes down to Earth.
Read the full story here.

Real estate bargains come with affordable living in Harrisburg-Carlisle

While it's not too hard to find bargains in real estate these days, the Harrisburg-Carlisle region has been named the third most livable market for real estate bargains in the MSN's 2008 survey of 100 U.S. metropolitan areas.
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. And like other capital cities, it has a built-in buffer against economic storms with its large base of government employment.
It's a quiet city in the central part of the state, an hour and a half east of Philadelphia. Once economically depressed, Harrisburg's economy is now slowly shifting out of manufacturing and into logistics and distribution, life sciences and technology-support services.
Read the full report here.

Blueprint for a green county

Lancaster County officials are developing a "green infrastructure" plan that emphasizes preserving woods, waterways and open spaces as "vital to the health and well being of Lancastrians."
The 168-page "Greenscapes" plan envisions a partnership of county and local officials, along with the private sector, to create a network of natural areas and green spaces in rural, urban and suburban areas.
They would be connected by linear ribbons called greenways, usually along streams or ridges.
The plan sets a goal of buying, or preserving through easements, an average of 4,675 acres of open space annually over 20 years. That would total 146 square miles, or about 15 percent of the county's land area.
Read the full article here.

Morgan Family Foundation funds Penn State research in bio-energy

The Morgan Family Foundation has committed $270,000 over the next two years to fund research at the Biomass Energy Center in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Biomass energy refers to the use of organic materials to generate electricity, produce biofuel, or create products normally made through nonorganic methods. The Biomass Energy Center coordinates and facilitates bioenergy research. The foundation's gift supports a project that will partner Penn State with Dartmouth College, Iowa State University, and the environmental stewardship organization Sustainable Conservation.
Read the full article here.

H.J.Heinz continues to lead all companies in customer satisfaction

Although customer satisfaction has been declining for companies overall, H.J. Heinz Co. continues to get the highest marks for the good will of its customers.  

Heinz remains the top performer in customer evaluations of the quality of products in the latest survey for the American Customer Satisfaction Index. 

For a copy of the ACSI news release, go here.   For a look at the index and a video commentary, go here.  And for a look at individual company scores, including H. J. Heinz, go here.    

Lengthening list of renovations spells 'renaissance' in Downtown Scranton

Construction of new commercial and residential space, the refurbishing of the historic Central New Jersey Railroad Station, and investments in infrastructure and public transportation facilities are among projects inspiring optimism, reports the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal. 

For the full story, go here.    

New Web site prepares Western PA commuters for possible transit strike

As the threat of a transit strike looms in Western PA, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership provide useful tools for commuters at KeepPittsburghMoving.com.

At the site, commuters can find traffic updates, carpooling assistance, locations for parking, tips for bikers, as well as assistance with ACCESS transporation for the elderly and others.  Employers can also find useful information for enabling companies to adapt to disruptions in normal traffic patterns.
To access KeepPittsburghMoving.com, go here.

Noxen board approves wind-turbine plans

Noxen Supervisors approved plans for BP Alternative Energy to build 35 wind turbines in the township, reported the Scranton Times-Tribune Wednesday.
BP has thus far paid $87,500 in fees to Noxen for the project, and the township expects to receive another $50,000 within 30 days of the installation of the first wind turbine, according to the report. The company is seeking to build up to 87 turbines in Noxen, Eaton, Forkston and Mehoopany townships.
Read the full article here.

Bright idea could have brilliant future

Alternative energy tax credits are causing hundreds of home and business owners and local governments to price solar panels, small wind turbines and various other alternative energy systems since Gov. Ed Rendell signed a bill that, for solar equipment, would cut costs by 35 percent, according to a report in the Allentown Morning Call.
Read the full article here.

Farms have friends for the future in Lancaster County

Lancaster County has been a leader in Pennsylvania's farm preservation movement, bringing more than 1,000 farms under the protection of the Agriculture Preserve Board during the last 28 years. 

Now the county's active community of farmland protectors has its sights set on saving another 1,000 farms, reports the Lancaster New Era.

Read the full story here.

Newbury project gets $11M in brownfield funds

The Newbury project, a $240 million mixed-use development planned for 301 acres that contains a 100-acre brownfield site in a Pittsburgh suburb, will receive an $11 million loan through Pennsylvania’s PENNVEST’s Brownfields Projects program, reported the Pittsburgh Business Times.
The Newbury project belongs to EQA Landmark Communities, based in Pittsburgh’s Strip District neighborhood. The loan will allow Newbury to improve the water quality of Millers Run and Chartiers Creek nearby, the newspaper said.
Read the full article here.

Estimated gas yield from Marcellus shale goes up

Penn State geologist Terry Engelder said Monday the Marcellus shale region of the Appalachians could yield seven times as much natural gas as he earlier estimated, reported the Associated Press.
That means it could meet the nation's natural gas needs for at least 14 years.
Engelder now estimates 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be extracted from the 31-million-acre core area of the Marcellus region, which includes southern New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio, according to the report.
Read the full article here.

Time Magazine finds Pittsburgh's Main Street ready to ride out the bad weather from Wall Street

Time Magazine looks at the impact of Wall Street's fall torrents on the U.S. economy and finds a bright spot on one stretch of Main Street America - in Pittsburgh.

The weekly news magazine shares with its readers the story of how the Steel City has weathered its ups and downs and landed on its feet to face the coming recession. For the complete story go here.

Six PA AEP professional firms make "Hot List" of fastest growing

Six Pennsylvania companies were recognized on this year's Zweig White Hot Firms list of America's 200 fastest growing architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms at the publishing company's annual dinner.

Those recognized included: Nelson (Philadelphia), Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions (King of Prussia), Pennoni Associates (Philadelphia), Paul C. Rizzo Associates (Monroeville), Harman Group (King of Prussia), and Traffic Planning and Design (Pottstown).  To see the complete list, go here.

Traffic Planning and Design (Pottstown) also made the Civil Engineering News list of the top 50 CE firms for which to work, along with McCarthy Engineering Associates (West Lawn). TPD was also recognized on Inc. Magazine's 5,000 fastest growing private companies for the second year in a row.

Southwest PA highway project adds new link

The Mon-Fayette Expressway has opened an additional 8.2 miles of its eventual 70-mile length, marching inexorably up the Mon Valley, which was once lined with steel mills and now looks to the Mon-Fayette as its next yellow brick road. 

The project will extend a limited access highway from southwestern Pennsylvania's border with West Virginia through the Mon Valley into the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh and, it is hoped, stimulate development along America's once fabled estuary of steel production.

The newest stretch connects Uniontown with Brownsville in Fayette County, a further installment on the largest economic development project in the area since the 1950s. The Tribune-Review reports the story here.

PennVest loans $1M to clean up Armstrong County waterway

The rural town of Seminole will be borrowing $1 million from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority to install two miles of sewer lines and help to restore the water quality of Mahoning Creek in Armstrong County.

The investment will place 65 homes, whose raw sewage flows into the creek, on the township's system, reports the Kittanning Leader-Times. The project represents another important step for controlling waste water in the rural community.

For the full story, go here.

PA investments in clean energy creates PA's new "millionaires"

Governor Ed Rendell is making sure that state funds for renewable energy reach many promising projects throughout the state. The grants have gone above $1 million in many places, and Environment News Service highlights several of them. They amount to magnets for even larger private investments. The result is likely to be not only a cleaner Pennsylvania but also the addition of sustainable jobs throughout the state.

Go here for the full story.

PPL eyes Berks County for biomass energy plant

PPL Utilities has proposed building a biomass energy plant next to a wood-recycling center in Maidencreek Township in Berks County, reported the Reading Eagle on Tuesday.

The plant, which would be the first of its kind in Berks, would use recycled wood and yard scraps to fire turbines that generate electricity. A company spokesperson told the newspaper the plant would generate 6 megawatts of electricity a year--enough energy to power 4,800 homes. PPL has not made a final decision to build, and Maidencreek Township supervisors are expected to review the company's request on Nov. 11.
Read the full article here.

Pittsburgh hires new sustainability coordinator

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced last week the city has hired Lindsay Baxter as sustainability coordinator for the Office of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, reported the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Baxter, the city's first sustainability coordinator, will be responsible for implementing the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan recommendations and forming a green steering committee, according to the newspaper.
Read the full article here.

Solar power company to hire 1,500 by 2011

A company that manufactures solar cells last week announced plans to hire up to 1,500 employees in the Pittsburgh region by 2011, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Solar Power Industries Inc., a Rostraver company, said business is booming and it will lease 500,000 square feet of space in Sony Corp.'s plant in East Huntingdon. The newspaper also reported that German-owned Flabeg Corp. recently said it will eventually employ 300 at a $30 million plant to be built near Pittsburgh International Airport that will produce glass and mirror components for solar panels in large-scale solar power plants.
Read the full article here.

U.S. adds $2.6M to Wilkes-Barre gateway makeover

An old ice rink is coming down, a new one is going up, and Wilkes-Barre's gateway entrance is getting a $14-million makeover with an assist from Uncle Sam, who added $2.6 million to the project's allowance this week.

Located along one of the busiest streets leading into the city, the Coal Street entryway is a blighted spot that the renovation will replace with a recreational zone.  After it's completed, travelers into the city will see a professional hockey arena, a new home game space for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, as well as training facilities, offices, proshop, and place for the public to rent skates.

Around the arena a much larger recreational complex is being planned for baseball, softball, football, soccer, tennis, and Little League. 

To read the full story, go here.

Central PA biomass-to-energy project gets $150K state grant

Gov. Ed Rendell announced Monday a planned alternative-energy project near Shamokin in Central Pennsylvania will receive $150,000 from $12 million in state clean-energy investments, reported the Daily Item.

The grant recipient, IntelliWatt Renewable Energy LLC, will use the grant to develop a biomass-to-energy project at the Keystone Opportunity Zone in the SEEDCO Industrial Park, Coal Township, the paper said. The project, set to launch by late 2009, will create 25 jobs in the short term and eventually more than 200 jobs, according to IntelliWatt Executive VP Mark Nastasi.

To read the full story, click here.

Dubois examines extension of downtown revitalization

Once a lumber-milling and coal-mining town also known for its own brand of Budweiser, Dubois is preserving the best of its historic Downtown, according to a report in the DuBois Courier-Express. It's all part of building long-term value in a town that offers local entertainment, the Winkler Gallery, stage performances, and an annual arts festival for visitors to west-central Pennsylvania.  

From the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds, the newspaper reports that residents are upbeat about plans to extend the revitalization into other historic districts.

Read the full article here.

EPA gives CMU $900,000 to study reuse of brownfield sites

Carnegie Mellon will explore ways for municipal governments and small businesses to become more active partners in the cleanup and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites. Work funded by the Environmental Protection Agency will build upon CMU's pioneering research into the rehabilitation of abandoned land for redevelopment as commercial real estate and even residential housing.

Disbursed to the university's Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center and its Steinbrenner Institute, the grant money will be shared with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, a nonprofit organization, reports the Post-Gazette.

Read the full story here.

Spain's Basque region opens business center in Philadelphia

This week the Basque region of Spain, home to wind giant Gamesa, opened a business center on the 24th floor of 1835 Market St. in Philadelphia, reported Mike Armstrong on the blog Phillyinc.
The Basque government’s development arm, SPRI, is paying the lease on the 1,300-square-foot center, staffing the office, and subsidizing up to a half-dozen business tenants at a time for up to six months, according to Armstrong.
To read the full post, click here.

Highmark places green roof on blue insurance giant

Topping a roof terrace with plants, Highmark adds another green roof to Pittsburgh's Downtown business district and makes a well-positioned statement about the value of planting a natural environment on the top of office buildings, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

While pedestrians may have a hard time seeing the new green space, which is located three stories above the street, from windows in taller buildings around it as well as on the higher floors of Highmark's office tower, the planted surface will offer a pleasant view along with the value of energy conservation that makes these installations increasingly part of urban buildings.

To read the entire story, click here.

Philadelphia in top 10 greenest cities

Philadelphia is the eighth greenest city in the U.S., according to the SustainLane, a leading national survey that annually ranks the largest 50 U.S. cities in terms of their sustainability practices. Portland, Ore. topped the list.

Labeling Philadelphia a "city on the move" in its report, SustainLane cited Mayor Michael Nutter’s creation of a position for Director of Sustainability as one reason for the city’s spot in the top 10: "Nutter has promised to make his city the greenest in America. We've heard this triumphantly proclaimed from a number of mayors' podiums, but we're particularly excited to see what happens when an already top-ranked city unifies its green efforts under one roof."

SustainLane's annual city rankings are considered the most comprehensive evaluation of urban sustainability in the U.S., using 16 individual criteria including air and water quality, land use, green economy, and energy policy. Other countries are adopting SustainLane’s methodology, and its 2008 US City Rankings was featured at the first international green cities and communities conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Oct. 1.

Read the full article here.
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