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A Publication of WTVP

A Secret No More
A winner of Peoria Magazines’ Best of Peoria competition in the category of “Best-Kept Secret,” PAWS Giving Independence is fueled by two passions: a love for dogs and the desire to help others. An all-volunteer operation, PGI works with local animal rescue shelters to train service and companion dogs for children and adults with disabilities, providing support to encourage independence. The service dogs are placed free of charge—for just $100, you can sponsor a dog for a whole year!

On October 15, 2016, Running with the Dogs will take place at Junction City Shopping Center in north Peoria. The event encourages participants to run or walk—with or without their dogs—to raise money for the nonprofit organization. To register for the 5K run or 3K walk, or to learn more about the organization, visit givingindependence.org or call (309) 839-2754.


A Record Year for Renewables

Renewable energy installations reached record heights in 2015—for the first time, renewables accounted for the majority of new energy-generating capacity added worldwide. Recent reports from the Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre and Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) offer a few key facts illustrating this trend:

Sources: Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, REN21; Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre


Energy Code 101

With the push for greater energy efficiency, the term “energy code” comes up often. In particular, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is considered essential in providing energy-efficiency guidelines in the U.S. and around the world.

What is the IECC?
The IECC is an international standard designed to help protect the environment, reduce energy consumption, and stabilize energy costs and supplies. It sets provisions for minimum energy efficiency for residential and commercial buildings, including those still under construction, and is updated every three years by the International Code Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining a single set of comprehensive national model construction codes. The most recent version is the 2015 IECC.

How is it implemented in Illinois?
Illinois law requires adoption of the most recent IECC by the January following its release; the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) oversees this implementation. To ensure input from stakeholders, the CDB created the Illinois Energy Code Advisory Council—consisting of professionals in the building trades, design professionals, code administrators and other experts—which reviews and accepts (or rejects) proposed amendments to the IECC adoption plan before making recommendations to the CDB.

Does the IECC achieve its intended goals?
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that energy cost savings for single and multifamily homes were more than 32 percent at the 2012 IECC baseline compared to the 2006 IECC baseline. Likewise, new commercial buildings built to 2015 IECC specifications are projected to result in an energy cost savings of 11.5 percent compared to those built by the 2012 IECC.

Sources: Responsible Energy Codes Alliance; Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity



Jobs in Renewables
The rise of renewable energy has brought with it a spike in jobs. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than eight million people worked in the renewable energy sector at the end of last year—more jobs than oil, gas and coal positions combined. Green energy employment grew five percent in 2015, even as jobs in the broader energy sector fell and low oil prices led to the elimination of 350,000 oil jobs worldwide. IRENA estimates that upwards of 24 million jobs will be available in the renewable energy sector by 2030.


The Coal-to-Solar Transition

The ongoing decline of fossil-fuel-based energy systems has led to a bleak outlook for workers in the coal and oil industries. But is all hope lost for them? Joshua M. Pearce of Harvard Business Review and Edward Louie of Oregon State University conducted research on the possibilities of workers moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy… and the results are promising.


Fast as the Wind

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) lists “wind turbine technician” as the nation’s fastest-growing position, with job growth expected to increase 108 percent by 2024. That’s more than twice as fast as the second fastest-growing position: occupational therapy assistants (43% growth). Rounding out the top five fastest-growing occupations were: physical therapist assistants (41%); physical therapist aides (39%); and home health aides (38%). Meanwhile, employment of solar panel installers is projected to grow by 24 percent—still a hefty increase.


 

Reusable Totes… Worth the Hype?
Most supermarkets today offer reusable tote bags for purchase, intended to help regular customers reduce plastic bag waste. Sounds great, right? The answer is… maybe. According to a recent article by Noah Dillon in The Atlantic, they may actually cause more environmental harm than their disposable counterparts.

That’s because far more resources are required to produce and distribute cotton tote bags than plastic ones—and with so many being produced for branding and promotional use, they’re often left underutilized, or thrown out prematurely. Though counterintuitive, conventional plastic bags actually have the smallest per-use environmental impact, according to a 2008 study by the UK Environment Agency—especially when those bags are reused a second time (such as for trash can liners).

To achieve the same carbon footprint ratio as a typical single-use plastic bag, reused once, the UKEA study states a paper bag would need to be used seven times; a recycled polypropylene tote would require 26 uses; and a cotton tote would require a whopping 327 uses to justify the carbon released in its production. Reusable tote bags are “green in principle,” suggests Dillon, “but not in the way people use them.”

So if you have reusable tote bags at home, by all means, use them—the environmental benefits grow with each instance of reuse. And if you use plastic bags, reuse them—and then recycle them. And as always, keep in mind: as with many well-intentioned practices, the devil’s in the details. iBi

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