National Park Service opens the country’s first “Net Zero” visitors center

A 7,000 square foot visitors center in the Santa Monica Mountains – just north of Malibu, CA – can survive off the grid. It has a 94-kilowatt solar roof array to power highly energy-efficient LEDs installed throughout the center. This is the first visitor center from the National Park Service to be “net zero”.

The site also achieved a LEED Platinum Certification by using environmentally friendly materials, incorporating natural light, using light dimmers during daylight hours, and by re-purposing the existing structures. They were originally horse stables for King Gillete – the razor billionaire from yester-year – and his mansion still exists in the 588-acre park.

The project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – $9.5 million – along with matching funds from the California government and a local conservancy. All materials were made in America. The site will be managed by a joint public-private enterprise.

More on the park – King Gillete Ranch:

One of the most stunning locales in the Santa Monica Mountains, 588-acre King Gillette Ranch is located at the confluence of five major tributaries and offers a rare, unspoiled view of California’s rich archaeological cultural and historic resources. Its broad meadows and low ridgelines serve as a wildlife corridor. The ranch includes the 1928 mansion designed by Wallace Neff for razor magnate King C. Gillette…and includes hiking trails, beautiful grassy picnic areas, a pond and dormitory facilities for overnight educational camps.

 

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Environmentalist, and wealthy cofounder of Burt’s Bees, fights to create America’s next National Park

Burt’s Bees cofounder Roxanne Quimby wants to hand the government a new national park in northern Maine—election-year politics and residents’ NIMBYism be damned. Brian Kevin investigates the boldest conservation plan in decades.

Technically, this Idaho-shaped chunk of land, which contains a 30-mile stretch of the International Appalachian Trail, is known as the East Branch Sanctuary. But around Millinocket it’s simply referred to as “Quimby’s land.” The self-made millionaire owns it, along with 119,000 acres of other timber-company lands that she started buying up back in 2000, when Burt’s Bees was raking in about $23 million a year. Her plan was to give the property to the National Park Service, thereby galvanizing other donations that would eventually establish a 3.2-million-acre wilderness in the last great undeveloped region east of the Rockies.

But the campaign stalled out of the gate. Public land is a tough sell in northern Maine, where residents are accustomed to hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and cutting timber. Many didn’t cotton to the rhetoric of a wealthy environmentalist; others feared that the proposed park would spell the end of the region’s struggling paper mills.

But a dozen years and a few hundred Ban Roxanne bumper stickers later, Quimby is back with more practical ambitions. Last spring she announced plans for a dramatically reduced 74,000-acre Maine Woods National Park just east of Katahdin, carved entirely from her own property. And thanks to better diplomacy and a new emphasis on economic benefit, Quimby is beginning to win hearts and minds.

 

The uncut storyThe Fight to Create America’s Newest National Park

 

 

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Yellowstone – new government petascale supercomputer – to attack chaos theory in climate change

This month, on a barren Wyoming landscape dotted with gopher holes and hay bales, the federal government is assembling a supercomputer 10 years in the making, one of the fastest computers ever built and the largest ever devoted to the study of atmospheric science.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research’s supercomputer has been dubbed Yellowstone, after the nearby national park, but it could have been named Nerdvana. The machine will have 100 racks of servers and 72,000 core processors, so many parts that they must be delivered in the back of a 747. Yellowstone will be capable of performing 1.5 quadrillion calculations — a quadrillion is a 1 followed by 15 zeros — every second.

The sheer speed of Yellowstone is designed to burst through the limits of chaos theory — the difference, allegorically, between predicting the odds of blackjack after playing five hands versus playing a million. The machine is expected to give scientists a clearer image of the state of the planet, and its future, revolutionizing the study of climate change, extreme weather events, wildfires, air pollution and more.

 

learn moreL.A. Times – New Wyoming supercomputer expected to boost atmospheric science

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