This Data Center Helps Sustain a Fish Farm — And You Won’t Believe How

Data centers are what make the world go round. These facilities, containing endless rows of server racks, store a gargantuan chunk of the world’s data and information; it’s not surprising that the computer server manufacturing industry alone brings in a cool $14 billion in annual revenues.

At the same time, data centers are major energy consumers, with some large-scale centers using as much energy at peak usage as a small town. With all this energy comes untold amounts of waste heat, a massive resource that has largely gone untapped so far.

This is slowly changing, however. Recently, a Dutch company used waste heat from its data centers to heat residential homes. And now, the Cleveland, OH-based Foundry Project plans to build an underground data center whose heat will help warm a fish farm.

According to a June 11 ZDNet article, the waste heat generated by the Foundry Project’s 20,000-square-foot data center will maintain a temperature of 73.6 degrees Fahrenheit in its aquaculture facility designed to farm Mediterranean sea bass.

When completed, the fully sustainable Northcoast Fish Farm will produce 500,000 pounds of Mediterranean sea bass each year — about 5% of current U.S. imports of the fish. Foundry Project founders expect the data center and fish farm will be in full operation by mid-2016.

But when companies have seemingly endless options when it comes to choosing a data center, why choose the Foundry Project’s? For one, the site of the data center is located at the meeting point of three different 100 Gigabit fiber networks, giving it easy access to high-performance networks.

Both the fish farm and data center play an integral role in the Foundry Project’s overall mission, which is to create a complete, sustainable ecosystem within an urban setting. All fish waste from the Northcoast Fish Farm will be used to fertilize plants and crops at Northcoast Orchards, for example. The project also plans to construct a sheep farm, farmer’s market, live fish brokerage and an arts and tech incubator, ZDNet reports.

Homeowners Ready to Give Pools Green Make Over This Summer

The summer months are all about having fun in the sun — and of course, in the water. After all, there’s no better way to beat the heat of the long dog days of summer than to splash around in your backyard pool.

However, every homeowner who owns a pool knows the maintenance, time, and energy required in order to keep it running in tip-top shape. It’s no secret that swimming pools require a lot of water — obviously — and energy, both of which can be taxing to the environment.

While most homeowners dread their pool water turning green, Carvin DiGiovanni, vice president of technical and standards at the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, said today’s eco-conscious pool owners want green, energy efficient solutions.

“Nearly two-thirds of businesses say customers demand they offer more environmentally considerate solutions,” DiGiovanni wrote in an email. “Eighty-eight percent of consumers feel a responsibility to purchase environmentally responsible products.”

According to DiGiovanni, the primary concerns for most residential swimming pool owners is water and energy usage, as well as natural alternatives to chlorine. While energy efficient pool pumps have become the norm, written standards and codes are slowly being folded into law to ensure future pools, spas, and hot tubs are being built and designed with sustainability in mind.

While growing consumer concern regarding standard chemical treatments used to sanitize pool water have been mounting for some time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds strict standards regarding their usage.

“All chemicals used in pools must be EPA Registered Sanitizers, ensuring that no harm comes to the environment,” DiGiovanni explained. “There are strict state and local health codes that must be adhered to.”

In fact, pool chemical manufacturers recommend adjusting the pH level to 7.2-7.8 to prevent stains, scaling and algae growth. It’s also recommended to shock the pool per the label’s directions.

Despite these rigid guidelines, many homeowners are still leaning towards more natural approaches. In fact, an entire niche market of natural pools, which incorporate plants in a agriculture ecosystem used to keep the water clean, is steadily expanding.

Similarly, eco-friendly salt generator sanitizing systems lessen the environmental impact of harsh chemical cleaners by converting regular table salt into a mild form of chlorine which is then used to clean the pool without the sting or stench associated with commercial chlorine.

Oakland Pipe Repair Company Offers Discount to Veterans

Starting on Memorial Day, Evenflow Plumbing in Oakland, California, began offering military veterans a 10% discount on conventional and trenchless sewer pipe repair work.

Virtual Strategy Magazine reports that the 10% discount is good through June 30th. The reason for the discount is personal for Gary Dimodana, the owner of Evenflow Plumbing, who is a veteran himself.

“I served six years in the Navy where I learned my trade as a plumber and I come from a family of World War II heroes,” Dimodana said. He went on to explain how both his grandfathers served in the war in the Pacific Theater.

“My grandfather, Robert Bruce Wallace, was a captain in the Army Air Core. He flew A-20 and B-17s in the Pacific. He had 46 successful bombing missions,” he said. “My other grandfather served in the Marine Corps and was one of Carlson’s Marine Raiders in the Philippine Islands. [They] both served with distinction from 1942 to 1945.”

Dimodana’s company serves the entire East Bay of California and is known in pioneering the trenchless pipe repair method, which uses pre-existing pipes to guide the new pipes in rather than removing them entirely. The company provides a free consultation for residential customers as well as for people trying to earn a Private Sewer Lateral (PSL) Certificate, which is mandated by Oakland.

The PSL Ordinance, regulated by the East Bay MUD, requires all residential properties sold within the Oakland district to have their sewer laterals and pipes tested in order to gain the PSL Certificate. The ordinance is part of an effort to reduce the amount of clean water that enters the sewers, water which comes from cracked or broken sewer lines on private residential property.

Evenflow Plumbing also offers a free camera drain inspection service to help homeowners determine if old sewer lines need to be replaced in order to qualify for the PSL Certificate.

A relatively new method, trenchless pipe repair has been on the residential market for 10-15 years. It is popular with homeowners due to its gentle handling of properties. Conventional pipe repair methods often require digging large trenches in a property’s lawn in order to get to the pipes.

When the Flood Waters Rise, Cars Often Hit the Hardest By Water Damage

Over Memorial Day weekend, people living throughout northern Texas and Oklahoma faced some of the most severe, record-breaking flooding they had ever seen.

In Houston alone, more than 4,000 homes faced significant damage due to the floods — but it’s not just homes that were damaged by rising waters. According to findings from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, as many as 10,000 cars have been damaged or totaled due to these floods.

And there’s nothing stopping those who own one of these cars to sell them to someone else while neglecting to mention the vehicle’s water damage. As a result, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a warning advising consumers hoping to buy a new or used car to be on the lookout for water-damaged cars.

“Our hearts go out to flood victims as they work to clean up and rebuild,” Cooper said in a statement. “Even though the floods didn’t hit North Carolina, consumers here need to watch out for dishonest dealers who may try to trick them into buying flooded cars.”

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that flooding causes more than $3 billion in damage each year, making it the No. 1 natural disaster affecting the U.S. To prevent such losses, many car sellers with questionable moral compasses will put flooded vehicles through a rigorous cleaning process, making it tough to detect water damage until weeks later. However, it’s illegal in many states to sell a car without disclosing the fact that it has water damage.

“Thousands of cars have been flooded in Texas and Oklahoma, and it won’t be long before they pop up for sale across the country,” said Cooper. “Be on guard so you don’t get stuck with a flooded car.”

Vehicular water damage goes beyond having wet carpets. Because cars aren’t designed to be submerged underwater, flood waters can rust out its internal parts, including the car’s transmission.

To avoid buying a water-damaged vehicle, Cooper advised car buyers to always check the car’s title and to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic you trust before making the purchase. Ultimately, if you come across a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

North Carolina Dry Cleaning Business Caused 40 Years of Contamination in Neighborhood

A former dry cleaning site in Durham, NC is still posing a toxic contamination risk nearly 40 years after it shut down.

One-Hour Martinizing Cleaners was located at 1103 W. Club Blvd from 1963 to 1975, but it wasn’t until 1993 that subsurface contamination was discovered resulting from the chemicals used for dry cleaning.

Before the invention of the Martinizing process, which became popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, dry cleaners used flammable solvents, which had to be used far away from populated areas. The invention of Martinizing chemicals allowed dry cleaning to be done within one hour in town rather than being sent away to a separate dry cleaning plant.

But with the popularity of chemicals like PERC, also called PCE or tetrachloroethylene, and other dry cleaning solvents came pollution caused by the substance’s runoff.

And those chemicals have lingered in the soil. The 2,925-square-foot building where the dry cleaning business was housed had to be demolished in 2011 to prevent continued contamination of nearby soil and groundwater.

Hart & Hickman, which specializes in groundwater remediation services, sampled groundwater in April and found that the water still contains higher levels of PCE than recommended. This was 15 months after the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved of an EHC injection, which is used to decrease the amount of toxins found in groundwater.

Groundwater provides drinking water for about half of all Americans and makes up 95% of the country’s freshwater sources. But when it becomes contaminated with chemicals, like those used by dry cleaning businesses all over the country, then it can cause serious problems for those who are drinking that water.

Long-term exposure to PERC can cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys and even lead to cancer. These problems have likely affected those living in Durham’s Trinity Park neighborhood if they’ve been exposed to the chemical.

So far, Hart & Hickman has reported that the PERC in the monitoring wells nearby has decreased by somewhere between 86% and 98% through remediation efforts. However, two wells still have more than 2.5 mg/L of PERC, and even though levels haven’t increased, they are still higher than recommended.

Several units in the Trinity Park area no longer face contamination, but two residences on Dollar Avenue and the Triangle Family Church are still affected. Remediation efforts will be ongoing through next year and will include another EHC injection to reduce the amount of PERC in the soil.

So far more than $2.2 million has been spent on remediation for the area. Officials have met with the public in recent weeks to let them know about the remediation process.

The Top Cause of Injuries at Yellowstone National Park May Surprise You

In the wake of news that a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl was recently gored by a bison as she posed for a photo at Yellowstone National Park, much of the country is abuzz about the risks of being injured by wildlife while visiting the park.

However, these types of injuries are much rarer than you might think.

In fact, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, the chances of being mauled by a bear while visiting Yellowstone are a microscopic 1 in 2.1 million. When it comes to more docile creatures like bison, these odds shrink even lower. Only one or two bison-related incidents occur each year, if any.

The real cause behind most visitor injuries at Yellowstone? Slips, trips, and falls.

“The most common injuries in the park are typically from trips, slips and falls,” Traci Weaver, public affairs officer for Yellowstone, said.

In May, a 71-year-old man fell into the park’s Grand Canyon while trying to take a photo. Luckily, he only fell 25 feet before stopping himself on a precipice. Park rangers were able to rescue him as he braced himself on the side of the cliff.

“That was pretty incredible,” Weaver said. “If he’d have fallen just a little bit in either direction, it would have been fatal. He would have fallen over 150 feet.”

Slips, trips and falls like these aren’t just a common occurrence at Yellowstone. Every year, these injuries result in an astronomical 95 million lost days of work across the country.

Even rarer are the injuries and deaths that are caused by the park’s geysers and geothermal features. In the park’s entire history, only 20 people have died, the Casper Star-Tribune reports. As long as visitors stay on the marked boardwalks near these features and follow the park’s safety guidelines, they should be safe.

And while wildlife attacks are rare, it’s still wise to respect these animals’ boundaries. The park has launched numerous campaigns to educate its millions of visitors on staying safe around wildlife. Yellowstone park officials advise visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from the bison, elk and bighorn sheep that roam the park.

“We just hope people come here and safely enjoy the park,” Weaver said. “It’s always unfortunate when somebody gets injured while they’re out on vacation. We have our safety rules in place for a reason, and we just hope people adhere to them.”

Four Years After EF-5 Tornado, Joplin, MO, Sees Increase in New Home Constructions

Nearly four years after an EF-5 tornado left 158 dead, more than 900 injured, and thousands without homes, Joplin, MO, is seeing an increase in new home constructions as of the month of March, according to city building permits.

In March alone, the city issued 81 permits for all types of constructions. Twenty-six of those were for homes, for a total value of $2.5 million.

Individually, houses ranged in value anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000.

Since the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, which started Nov. 1, 2014, 93 permits for new homes have been issued. The average value for the homes, not including the value of the land, is $101,000.

The small city was devastated and saw severe damage to apartment buildings, businesses, schools, and St. John’s Medical Center. But the new constructions indicate that the city and its residents are bouncing back — 21 of those homes will be built in Joplin’s tornado zone.

According to surveys, more than 45% of Americans indicate a preference to live within specific school district boundaries. Some of those in Joplin who are working with a home builder may be choosing to return to areas where their children had grown up or attended school before the tornado.

Other areas to the south have also had a long road ahead recovering from natural disasters.

In Jackson County, MS, the new constructions for housing have been on the upswing in recent month as the coastal area still continues to rebound from Hurricane Katrina a decade later.

As for Joplin, there have been an average of 17 permits for new homes filed each month for the past two years, with 18 per month on average so far this fiscal year.

That growth means good things for the area’s economy, as more people spend money on furniture, appliances, garden equipment, and other home goods.

The total value of all permits for the fiscal year so far, which will end on Halloween, is just over $42 million.

Ninety-three total new home construction permits have been issued since Nov. 1, according to city records.

Solar Panel Developer Applies For Federal, Not State, Approval

A major energy firm is seeking federal rather than state approval of its 5-megawatt solar panel energy plant it plans to install close to Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that energy industry developer Coronal Development Services, LLC, based in Virginia and New York, is withdrawing its application from the Nebraska Power Review Board, instead hoping its application will be received and approved quicker by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Under the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, energy companies are allowed to obtain “self-certifications” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Doing so will enable Coronal to go forward with the project under federal, not state, supervision, which it hopes will speed up the process.

If approved, Coronal will build the first commercial solar energy installation in the state. There are currently more than 2,200 businesses in the United States that offer solar panel installation services.

Nelson Teague, an attorney withe Coronal, hopes a federal approval will enable construction to commence with a tentative completion deadline by the end of this year.

“Coronal Development Services, LLC has completed the self-certification process with many of our projects and are very familiar with it,” Teague said.

According to him, the process for federal approval is relatively basic. Coronal subsidiary company Holdrege Solar Center, LLC will certify the project as one that falls under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s jurisdiction. As an alternative energy facility, the project is potentially subject to federal regulations and special rates. If approved, the company can build the project without needing the approval of the Nebraska Power Review Board.

Tim Texel, the board’s executive director, is not surprised by Coronal’s decision. He claims it is “quite common” for alternative energy companies to apply for self-certification. All the Nebraska Power Review Board wants, he said, is a notification that the company is applying to the federal government.

However, the board will review the developer’s decision to withdraw on May 22nd.

U.S. Shale Boom Could Tip the Balance of Oil Industry Dominance

As crude oil prices have dropped by a stunning percentage since last June, the global oil industry has been in a continued state of crisis.

Traditionally, the oil industry has been dominated by the nations of the Middle East, with competition from the U.S. oil market never really comparing to the power of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). That might all change as the U.S. shale boom, driven by the rich shale oil fields found throughout Texas and North Dakota, continues to hit its stride that first started in 2008.

According to an April 23 New York Times article, industry experts are predicting that the U.S. might soon become the swing producer of oil that determines global oil prices, a position long held by OPEC.

American shale fields now account for nearly half of the world’s global oil supply, and shale has been proven to be much more versatile and adaptable to market fluctuations than any other production method. It’s not surprising, then, that shale oil and gas production is expected to grow to 13.6 trillion cubic feet by 2035, according to Energy Information Administration predictions.

The biggest proof of the U.S.’s new dominance of the global oil market is OPEC’s response to falling prices. The last time oil prices slumped in late 2008, OPEC was able to stabilize the market by cutting its production, which brought prices back up. During the recent downturn, OPEC has maintained its production.

“Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia think that couldn’t work again today?” Rene G. Ortiz, a former Ecuadorian oil minister who once served as OPEC’s secretary general, told the New York Times. “Because of the soaring U.S. production. Today’s OPEC is thinking about market fundamentals rather than manipulating the market because it doesn’t have the same power it once had.”

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for OPEC, however. According to, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia — undoubtedly the leading nation within OPEC — have developed highly efficient and resilient oil industries that will be able to withstand slumps in the market like the one currently taking place.

U.S Department of Agriculture Considers Regulations for American-Raised Organic Fish

Many people across the United States pick up organic fish and shellfish during their usual trip to the grocery store. However, what these shoppers may not realize is that this seafood isn’t American: due to current restrictions, these products are instead shipped from Canada, the European Union and other countries.

Now, the U.S. Agriculture Department has stated that it plans to propose standards for farmed organic aquaculture, a development that could move the country towards the sale of American-raised organic seafood. But critics have raised numerous questions about the plan, which range from the products’ ability to appeal to customers to the feasibility of creating an organic supply chain. With few answers in sight, it seems clear that shoppers will continue to wait for local organic fish for the foreseeable future.

Organic products are a popular choice for consumers and retailers because of their perceived health benefits and higher prices. For this reason, the northeastern grocery chain Wegmans already sells organic seafood imported from Norway and other countries, citing its ability to draw educated, higher income shoppers as a primary consideration. However, American-raised organic fish and shellfish has faced continual delays for the past 10 years, causing other retailers, like Whole Foods, to hesitate. By finally legalizing organic salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, mussels, oysters and clams, the Department of Agriculture could not only expand the nation’s seafood trade but also help the farmed fish industry compete against cheaper imports.

However, many critics say they are unsure if U.S. standards could be successful. For example, some experts in the farmed fish industry have commented that the requirements for fish feed may be too expensive for many operations, a fact that will raise prices for consumers as well.

Similarly, consumer and environmental groups have expressed concern over the impact the standards could have on fish, the ocean and more. Like the industry members, many are concerned about what these organic fish would eat: breeding organic fish and growing organic grains like soybeans and canola would be extremely costly, but seafood would need to be fed with these products in order to earn the organic label. Using sustainable wild-caught fish has been vetoed for this reason. Environmental groups are also worried that raising fish in ocean pens, called net pens, could allow fish to escape and contaminate wild species, or could even harm the organic fish themselves.

In response, several safeguards have been suggested: ocean-farmed fish would need to be strains of native species, net pens could not be placed on migratory routes, and producers would need to closely monitor water quality and the local ecosystem. However, this doesn’t solve the problem of food: as one Hawaiian fish farmer noted, organic supply chains don’t appear out of thin air.

For this reason, the process of bringing American-raised organic seafood to grocery stores is expected to take more than two years. Currently, the National Organic Standards Board is reviewing vaccines, vitamins and other substances a successful aquaculture will need. Supporters say that this lengthy process will help consumers feel more confident in choosing U.S. products in the long run. However, this may not be necessary: seafood reports from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other organizations show that nearly all groundfish caught in California, Oregon and Washington are now ranked either yellow, representing a good alternative, or green, meaning the best choice, by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. These wild fish would not be eligible for organic labeling, as this would be too difficult to monitor, but producers and consumers at least know they are healthy and affordable.