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The Sustainable Coog: Your monthly source for green strides with red pride

UH Researchers Report Hybrid Catalyst to Split Water

Researchers from the University of Houston and the California Institute of Technology have reported an inexpensive hybrid catalyst capable of splitting water to produce hydrogen, suitable for large-scale commercialization.

Hydrogen is considered a desirable source of clean energy, in the form of fuel cells to power electric motors or burned in internal combustion engines, along with a number of industrial uses.

But finding a practical, inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to produce large amounts of hydrogen gas - especially by splitting water into its component parts - has been a challenge. Most hydrogen is currently produced through steam methane reforming and coal gasification; those methods raise the fuel's carbon footprint despite the fact that it burns cleanly.

Researchers said this new catalyst has the potential to dramatically lower the amount of energy required to produce hydrogen from water while generating a high current density, a measure of hydrogen production. Lower energy requirements means the hydrogen could be produced at a lower cost.

Sustainability in the news

Mayor Turner, Climate Mayors Launch Large-Scale Renewable Energy Initiative
Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and fellow Climate Mayors in announcing plans to issue a Request for Information (RFI) for competitive pricing of large-scale renewable energy projects. The RFI will compile the energy demand data across participating U.S. cities and ask renewable energy developers for price estimates for projects that would meet their collective energy demand.

Environmentally Friendly Polymers Bring Spotlight To Cullen College Professor
Megan Robertson, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, was honored in May with the 2018 Sparks-Thomas Award from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society for her research into identifying vegetable oil and fatty acid-based materials that could replace petrochemical products as the basic ingredients in the manufacturing of elastomers (Think tires and rubber bands, for example). The goal is to develop new, superior materials that maintain all the benefits of today's products while also being kinder to the environment, as well as to uncover new, advantageous properties.

New Leadership At The EPA Could Impact Houston
As Scott Pruitt steps down from the Environmental Protection Agency, attention now turns to the future of the agency and its policies. What does Pruitt's departure mean for EPA rules that impact Houston most? Click the above link to hear Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talk with Tracy Hester, who teaches environmental law at the University of Houston Law Center, and Brandon Rottinghaus, co-host of Houston Public Media's Party Politics podcast, and political science professor at the University of Houston.

What's The Business Case For Plastic Bags?
In the battle over plastic shopping bags in Texas, the bags are winning. Last month, the Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's ban on such bags. As a result, the city of Austin earlier this week said it would no longer enforce its ban. Business groups supported the ruling. University of Houston economist Steve Craig explains why plastic sacks are the go-to bags for retailers.

   Food for Thought

Wasted Food Means Wasted Water

There's nothing good about wasting food. Besides the fact that there are more than seven billion other people on the planet who could eat it, consider all the water needed to grow and produce that food. Everything we eat has a water footprint. The same is true for the rotten lettuce, the long-forgotten eggs and the half-eaten steak grabbed from the back of the fridge and thrown in the garbage. When we waste food, it's like we're dumping huge amounts of water - or more precisely, "virtual water" - into the garbage. In the United States an estimated 40 percent of all food is lost or wasted annually. The average person in America wastes 26,500 gallons of water per year by tossing just six common food items in the trash: lettuce, almonds, apples, tomatoes, eggs and beef.

 

Taste It, Don't Waste It: Dandelions

There's a lot to love about a dandelion. They are enduring, a fact you can attest to if you've ever tried to rid your lawn of them. They are intrepid, popping up in any available crack in the sidewalk, undaunted by streams of soles stomping by. And, in the opinion of more than a few, dandelions are beautiful. The Victorian era National Dandelion Society in Japan developed over 200 varieties to admire. And, as I will outline below, they are darned tasty. Dandelions grow so extensively and have done so for so long that no one is sure where they originated, but the flowers are evident in many cultures. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelions are used as a diuretic and liver tonic. Romans savored their bitter leaves. Settlers enjoyed them as one of the first spring "crops" available after hard, cold winters. For ages savvy eaters have enjoyed every bit of the plant, from root to petal, as a culinary delight and medicine, both. And you can, too.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SAVE THE DATE:

Green Film Series: STRAWS
Date: Wednesday, July 18
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Rice University Cinema
Flea By Night
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Discovery Green

Urban Harvest Fall Vegetable Class
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Location: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Gulf Coast: LEED Platinum Evening
Date: Wednesday, July 25
Time: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location:3200 Southwest Fwy #900 Houston, TX 77027

Yoga in the Park
Date: Saturday, July 28
Time: 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
Location: Hermann Park

GET OUTSIDE

Arboretum at Night: Frogs
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location: Houston Arboretum

Nature Heritage Society Hill Hike
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Bessie Swindle Community Center 11880 Scott St Houston, TX 77047
Bird Banding at GCBO
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Location: Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Fish with a Ranger
Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 8:30 a.m to 10 a.m.
Location: Lake Livingston State Park
Moths of Trinity River - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Date: Wednsday, July 25
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Red Cross Building at 2700 Southwest Freeway

Farmers Markets
Rice University Farmers Market
Date: Every Tuesday
Time: 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Location: 5600 Greenbriar Dr.
Houston, TX 77005
City Hall Farmers Market
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 11 a.m to 1:30 p.m.
Location: City Hall
901 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002
Central City Co-Op Farmers Market
Date: Every Wednesday
Time: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: 2515 Waugh Dr.
Houston, TX 77006
Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market
Date: Every Saturday
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Location: 3000 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77098
Memorial Villages Market
Date: Every Saturday
Time: 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Location: 10840 Beinhorn Road
Houston, TX 77024
The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan's Mill
Date: Every Saturday
Time: 8 a.m. to noon
Location: 7 Switchbud Pl.
The Woodlands, TX 77380

For more information on ongoing Farmers Markets or new, upcoming ones, check out the sites below:

Campus Community Garden

Learn more about our Campus Community Garden and our mission.

Read our blog.

Email us to schedule a time to volunteer.
Like us on Facebook for weekly garden updates!

Scholarships & Opportunities

Brighter Blooms Nursery Scholarship
As you plan your next community-service project (or describe the contribution you made to your last project), we invite you to apply for the Brighter Blooms Nursery Scholarship. Who can apply? Students who are currently enrolled in a high school (public, private or home school), technical school or college in the United States. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (or equivalent score on other grading scales). Students with an expressed interest in community service, horticulture, landscape design or related field.

MyLEDLightingGuide Scholarship
MyLEDLightingGuide's scholarship goal is to provide guidance for business, engineering, and environmental science students. We offer this opportunity for all of those students who relate to the goal of MyLEDLightingGuide. The winning student will be awarded a $1000 scholarship for their efforts, which can then be used for tuition, books, or living expenses.

Green Jobs

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