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Energy Codes for Ultra-Low-Energy Buildings: A Critical Pathway to Zero Net Energy Buildings

March 5, 2015 Comments off

Energy Codes for Ultra-Low-Energy Buildings: A Critical Pathway to Zero Net Energy Buildings (PDF)
Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

A zero net energy (ZNE) building is a home or commercial building that on average produces as much energy as it uses, achieved through energy efficiency and renewable technologies. Building energy codes can help us transition to ZNE construction for new residential and commercial buildings by 2030. We will need to expand the scope of codes to capture all building energy uses, address whole building systems instead of focusing on individual components, and shift our focus from building design to actual building energy use by adopting outcome-based codes. We should also ensure ZNE performance post-occupancy by considering the impact of building occupants and operators and by incorporating future-proofing measures. By addressing these areas, we can establish the foundation for ZNE by 2030 while providing energy savings and related benefits in the interim. Complementary policies, targeted research, market transformation, and the coordination of efforts and advocacy will help us achieve these goals.

U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report

March 5, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report
Source: PeopleForBikes

Topline results:

• Thirty-four percent of Americans ages 3+ rode a bicycle at least one day in the past year.
• Of those who rode a bicycle, 30% rode five days or fewer.
• Those who rode for transportation are much more likely to have done so to get to and from social, recreation, or leisure activities (70%) than to have commuted to and from work or school (46%).
• Forty-eight percent of adults in the U.S. don’t have access to an operational bicycle at home.
• Fifty-four percent of adults in the U.S. perceive bicycling as a convenient way to get from one place to another and 53% would like to ride more often. However, 52% worry about being hit by a car and 46% say they would be more likely to ride a bicycle if motor vehicles and bicycles were physically separated.

Categories: bicycling, PeopleForBikes

The Power of the Purse: The Contributions of Hispanics to America’s Spending Power and Tax Revenues in 2013

March 3, 2015 Comments off

The Power of the Purse: The Contributions of Hispanics to America’s Spending Power and Tax Revenues in 2013
Source: Partnership for a New American Economy

The Partnership for a New American Economy’s new report, “The Power of the Purse: The Contributions of Hispanics to America’s Spending Power and Tax Revenues in 2013,” highlights the important role that both native and foreign-born Hispanics play as consumers and taxpayers, as well as their contributions to Medicare and Social Security programs.

Key findings include:

  • Hispanic households, both native and foreign-born, account for a large portion of America’s overall spending power. In 2013, Hispanics had an estimated after-tax income of more than $605 billion. That figure is equivalent to almost one out of every 
10 dollars of disposable income held in the United States that year. Foreign-born Hispanic households made up a sizeable portion of that figure: We estimate their spending power totaled $287 billion that year.
  • The growing earnings of Hispanic households have made them major contributors to U.S. tax revenue. In 2013, Hispanic households contributed more than $190 billion to U.S. tax revenues as a whole, including almost $67 billion in state and local tax payments. Of this, foreign-born Hispanics contributed more than $86 billion in tax revenues nationwide. That included almost $32 billion in state and local taxes and more than $54 billion in taxes to the federal government.
  • In some states, Hispanics now account for a large percentage of spending power and tax revenues overall. In both Texas and California, Hispanic households had more than $100 billion in after-tax income in 2013, accounting for more than one of every five dollars available to spend in each state that year. In Arizona, a state with a rapidly growing Hispanic population, their earnings after taxes accounted for almost one-sixth of the spending power in the state. In Florida, Hispanics contributed more than one out of every six dollars in tax revenue paid by residents of the state.
  • Hispanics, and foreign-born Hispanics in particular, play an important role sustaining America’s Medicare and Social Security programs. In 2013, Hispanic households contributed more than $98 billion to Social Security and almost $23 billion to the Medicare’s core trust fund. Foreign-born Hispanics in particular contributed more than $46 billion to Social Security, while paying in more than $10 billion to the Medicare program. Past studies have indicated that in Medicare in particular, immigrants draw down far less than they put in to the trust fund each year, making such tax contributions particularly valuable.

Pedestrian Fatalities Remain High in 2014

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Pedestrian Fatalities Remain High in 2014
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

The number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways last year is expected to remain relatively unchanged from 2013 and approximately 15 percent higher than it was in 2009. Spotlight on Highway Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State is the first look at 2014 pedestrian fatality data. Released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the report stresses the need for continued vigilance as more Americans continue to choose walking as their preferred mode of transportation.

Using preliminary data provided by the 50 State Highway Safety Offices and the District of Columbia, Dr. Allan Williams, former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, compared the number of pedestrian fatalities from the first six months of 2013 and 2014. Although the preliminary data indicate a slight (2.8 percent) decrease, after factoring in expected undercounting, Williams estimates that 2,125 pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2014, essentially unchanged when compared with the 2,141 pedestrian fatalities during the same period in 2013.

15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti

March 2, 2015 Comments off

15 Minutes to Leave: Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti
Source: Amnesty International

Five years on from a devastating earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of people remain homeless as government policy failures, forced evictions and short-term solutions have failed many who lost everything in the disaster.

The new report, “15 Minutes to Leave” – Denial of the Right to Adequate Housing in Post-Quake Haiti, documents worrying cases of people being forcibly evicted from temporary, make-shift camps. The report also explores how the influx of development aid that came in the wake of the disaster failed to be transformed into long-term, secure housing solutions.

According to the latest data, 123 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) remain open in Haiti, housing 85,432 people. While the number of those in camps has reduced significantly since 2010, more than 22,000 households are still without adequate housing.

Conditions in many IDP camps are dire. A third of all those living in camps do not have access to a latrine. On average 82 people share one toilet.

Forced evictions from camps are a serious and ongoing problem. More than 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their shelters in makeshift camps since 2010. The vast majority were not offered any alternative locations where they could resettle, pushing them again into poverty and insecurity.

UK — Social scientists urge 10 per cent uplift in budget for science and innovation

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Social scientists urge 10 per cent uplift in budget for science and innovation
Source: Campaign for Social Science

The £4.7 billion annual budget for science and innovation should increase by at least 10 per cent in real terms over the next parliament, the Campaign for Social Science says in a report on the prospects for social science over the next decade.

The Business of People: The Significance of Social Science over the Next Decade also calls for a new senior Whitehall social science adviser, more investment in Big Data, social science advice for MPs and members of the devolved administrations and more explicit recognition for social science in government strategy.

It says additional funds for science and innovation should be earmarked for research that brings together the perspectives of the physical and life sciences with those from social science, the arts and humanities.

The report warns that UK growth and prosperity will falter without a better grasp of human behaviour and public attitudes, especially in the service sector of the economy. Failing to understand the socio-economic dimensions of innovation could jeopardise the potential of new technologies and advances in the life sciences, physics and engineering. The report gives the recent example of Ebola and infectious disease, which can only be combatted through understanding people and communities.

Great Gaps Persist in State Safety Nets, Interactive Policy Tool Shows

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Great Gaps Persist in State Safety Nets, Interactive Policy Tool Shows
Source: National Center for Children in Poverty

Today, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) launches an updated and enhanced edition of its 50-State Policy Tracker, a unique online tool for comparing safety net policies that are critical to the economic security of working families. The tool reveals striking variation among states, showing that state of residence has a major impact on whether low-income working parents succeed in making ends meet.

The Policy Tracker makes it easy for policymakers, journalists, social researchers, and advocates to quickly and accurately compare state policies and programs vital to the well-being of low-income families. It includes key state data for 10 important social programs:

  • Child care subsidies
  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Family and medical leave
  • Income tax policy
  • Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Minimum wage
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Unemployment insurance
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