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Working for Water creates 180 000 jobs

first_imgSouth Africa’s Working for Water programme, the largest public-funded project to eradicate invasive alien plants and improve water resources in the world, has created over 180 000 full-time jobs over the past two decades.Launching Weed-buster Awareness Month at Nooitgedacht Dam near Pretoria on Thursday, environment minister Edna Molewa said Working for Water, one of the government’s flagship programmes, was an innovation in mixing protection of the environment with job creation.“It is an example of integrating environmental conservation and poverty eradication objectives,” she said. “As the country celebrates 20 years of freedom and democracy, this gives us an opportunity to reflect on the success stories we have achieved in implementing programmes that make a difference in people’s lives while saving the environment.”Weed-buster Month is an annual campaign intended to raise awareness and increase public understanding of the problems caused by alien plants. The South African campaign is linked to invasive plant control initiatives in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, as well as to the broader Global Invasive Species Programme.Molewa said this year’s campaign would focus on clearing water weeds, specifically water hyacinth in the Nooitgedacht Dam and other water systems.“This year marks the centenary of biological control research and implementation in South Africa,” she said. “This milestone was showcased at an international symposium held in the Kruger National Park earlier this year.”Working for Water was first launched 19 years ago in the Western Cape by the late Kader Asmal. The weed-management programme uses bio-control, chemical and mechanical methods to destroy damaging invasive plants.Saving biodiversity, water and the economyInvasive alien species cause billions of rands of damage to South Africa’s economy every year, and are the single biggest threat to the country’s biodiversity. These are plants, animals and microbes introduced from other countries, which then out-compete and push out indigenous species.Invasive plants pose a direct threat not only to South Africa’s biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land. They intensify the impact of fires and floods and increase soil erosion. These plants can divert enormous amounts of water from more productive uses. More than this, invasive aquatic plants – such as the water hyacinth – affect agriculture, fisheries, transport, recreation and water supply.Of the estimated 9 000 plants introduced to this country, 198 are classified as invasive. These cover about 10% of the country, with the problem growing exponentially.Working for Water works local communities, to whom it provides jobs, and with national government departments such as environment, agriculture, and trade and industry. It also collaborates with provincial departments of agriculture, conservation and environment, research foundations and private companies.Since its launch in 1995, the programme has cleared more than 1-million hectares of invasive alien plants, all the while providing jobs and training to thousands of people from the most marginalised sectors of society. Of these, 52% are women.Scientists and field workers use a range of methods to control invasive alien plants. These include felling, removing or burning invading alien plants, or applying environmentally safe herbicides. Biological control uses species-specific insects and diseases from the alien plant’s country of origin.Working for Water currently runs over 300 projects in all nine of South Africa’s provinces. The programme is globally recognised as one of the most outstanding environmental conservation initiatives in Africa, and the world.SANews.gov.za and SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

African nations seeks ways to stop flow of refugees to South Africa

first_img10 November 2014A three-day Migration Dialogue conference was organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Tanzania from 7 November 2014, to respond to the ever-evolving and complex dynamics of migration flows from the Horn of Africa, through Kenya and Tanzania to South Africa.Some 24 senior representatives from the governments of Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Ethiopia, and from IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), met in Zanzibar to discuss the migration challenges facing the region and how to address them. The event was funded by Japan, as part of IOM’s Voluntary Return Assistance to Migrants in Tanzania project.International migratory movements in Africa have become more complex and mixed in recent years, with flows comprising asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants. The exodus of migrants from the Horn of Africa (mainly Ethiopia) to South Africa is a central issue.Each year, thousands of mainly young Ethiopians risk their lives in an attempt to reach South Africa, where they hope to establish better lives for themselves and their families. Migrants often sacrifice their life savings to pay smugglers amounts of up to $4 000 (about R45 000) to facilitate the journey.Human smuggling has become a thriving multi-billion dollar industry, which feeds off people’s desperation to improve their lives. Migrants are loaded into trucks by smugglers or left in “safe” houses in the jungle in Tanzania for days or weeks without food or water. Kenya and Tanzania are significant transit countries and many migrants are intercepted by the authorities en route.“Migrants are above all human beings and have the same human rights as anyone else. They should not be exposed to situations in which their lives are threatened. But the root causes of migration from the Horn to South Africa must be addressed by the governments concerned in order to come up with sustainable solutions to this migration crisis,” said Damien Thuriaux, IOM’s chief of mission in Tanzania.The meeting followed a 2010 regional conference on refugee protection and international migration, during which 13 African states met to discuss mixed movements and irregular migration from the East, Horn and Great Lakes sub-regions to Southern Africa.IOM’s Voluntary Return Assistance to Migrants in Tanzania project has returned over 220 detained Ethiopian migrants this year so far, and is planning to return a total of up to 800 by the end of the year. Since 2009, IOM Tanzania has helped over 2 500 Ethiopian detainees to return home.Source: APOlast_img read more

Proficiency Awards Round 2

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Equine Science PlacementJuanita MillerWest Holmes FFAEquine Science EntrepreneurshipAmanda MengGenoa Aera FFAEnvironmental Science and Natural Resource ManagementCollin BrinkmanFayetteville FFADiversified Livestock ProductionAdam BlumenscheinFairbanks FFADiversified HorticultureNathan StacklinRidgemont FFADiversified Crop Production PlacementMichael KleinWest Holmes FFADiversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship Ethan Stuckey Wynford FFADiversified Agricultural ProductionNole GerfenRidgemont FFADairy Production PlacementClair SchmitmeyerVersailles FFADairy Production EntrepreneurshipWilliam HughesWest Holmes FFABeef Production PlacementClinton LimingFelicity-Franklin FFAAgriscience Plant ResearchJacob DennisPettisville FFABeef Production EntrepreneurshipMegan UlrichNorth Central FFAAgriscience Research Integrated SystemsMariah CoxZane Trace FFAAgriscience Research Animal SystemsOlivia PflaumerZane Trace FFAAgricultural ServicesTaci WelchMarysville FFAAgricultural Sales PlacementSierra DrewesNew Bremen FFAAgricultural Sales EntrepreneurshipKatie BendicksonMiami East-MVCTC FFAAgricultural ProcessingNathan StewartEast Clinton FFAAgricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance PlacementLogan MillerSt. Marys FFAAgricultural Mechanics Repair and Maintenance EntrepreneurshipAaron HendrichEaton-MVCTC FFAAgricultural Mechanics Design and FabricationMaci KritesMiami East-MVCTC FFAAgricultural EducationKatelyn NiehausEaton-MVCTC FFAAgricultural CommunicationsKolt BuchenrothKenton-OHP FFAAccountingLindsay ShellBlanchester FFAlast_img read more

Is the Pretty Good House the Next Big Thing?

first_imgBut then I took a step back and asked the question, Whose Pretty Good House are we talking about here? Since I’m on the training, consulting, and design side of this business, my Pretty Good House would probably look different from the Pretty Good House of someone who’s in the trenches building custom homes. The disparity would be even greater between my Pretty Good Home and that of a production home builder.Since we’re talking about the Pretty Good House—not the Damn Good House—I’m going to take the view that even production builders should be able to achieve it…if they really want to and they work hard to do it. Because it’s voluntary, it should be better than the worst house allowed by law, i.e., the code-built house. With the code getting so much tougher in the 2012 and 2015 IECC versions, that latter objective gets harder and harder to do, but we have to start somewhere. That’s a pretty good startI’m sure I didn’t get everything related to those topics in there that should be there. I’ll post again about this topic and cover the items below that didn’t make it into this already-long article.In Part 2, I’ll cover:Pretty Good Water ConservationPretty Good VerificationPretty Good Homeowner PackagePretty Good PerformanceI’m sure I’ll have some clarifications and refinements based on the comments you’re going to leave me, too, so go ahead and start typing now. The essential elementsTo keep this simple, we need to start with the essentials. I’m a fan of performance goals because they allow the project team to figure out how best to meet the goals, but some of the items are best left as prescriptive (e.g., no atmospheric combustion inside).Pretty Good Design. The Pretty Good House must begin with design. This is where you have to start to make sure that the building envelope, water management systems, and mechanical systems get integrated properly. By the end of the design phase, everyone would know where all the ducts, wires, plumbing pipes, insulation, air barrier, and flashing details are going to go, what materials they’ll use, and when they’re getting done.Design review. All the critical team members review the plan and strive to minimize surprises once construction starts.Complete HVAC design. Before the foundation is built, the HVAC contractor knows what the heating and cooling loads are, which systems (including ventilation) are going in, and all of the distribution details.Projected Home Energy Rating. Along with the HVAC design, a HERS rater works up the preliminary HERS rating. I think the target should be 70 or lower for a Pretty Good House.Pretty Good Building Envelope and Weather Shell. In this part of the Pretty Good House, it’s going to be hard to improve upon the 2012 IECC, so I’d go with their insulation and air-sealing levels. The building envelope also must be complete and continuous, of course. The insulation and air barrier must be in contact with each other and use materials that will stay in contact with each other for the life of the assemblies (i.e.,no batt insulation in framed floors).Other envelope and shell goodies:Blower Door testing. 0.25 cfm per square foot of building envelope (or 3 air changes per hour, if you must) at 50 Pascals. Joe Lstiburek says this is a pretty good air leakage threshold for homes.Grade I insulation installation. No exceptions. It’s got to be done right. ENERGY STAR may have backed off of this a bit since I wrote about it earlier, but that doesn’t mean we should.Reduced thermal bridging. Foam board or rigid mineral wool on the outside, structural insulated panels, insulated concrete forms, double wall construction, Mooney Walls, or some other method that would produce a nice, uniform color when someone looks at the house with a thermal imaging camera.No big or medium holes in air barrier or insulation. The Blower Door test will catch the air barrier holes. Thermal imaging and third-party inspections will catch the insulation holes. Some places to watch out for are attic access holes, slab perimeters (must be insulated for CZ 3), and ceiling insulation above exterior walls.Pretty Good Water management. I like ENERGY STAR’s approach here. Create a checklist that the home builder is responsible for completing. The rater collects it, but the builder is the one who signs it and is responsible if something goes wrong.I’m thinking that the shift in the IECC from R-values to U-values, as Wes Riley pointed out in the second Pretty Good House article by Michael Maines, can lead to better ways to view the house. In fact, since size matters so much, let’s go even further and look at levels of performance based on the UA values, with a table showing the acceptable numbers for each climate zone. That would complete the transition from materials to assemblies to enclosures. I also like the Passive House approach regarding thermal bridging.Pretty Good Mechanical Systems. As I said above, each Pretty Good House would get complete HVAC design up front. I’d also want:> 1000 square feet per ton of air conditioning capacity. This is my rule of thumb, and I think it would be a nice way to make it easy to check. If it were my house, I’d want no less than 2000 sf/ton, but remember, this is the Pretty Good House, and that’s a pretty good benchmark.All distribution inside the envelope. No ducts in attics especially. Crawl spaces get encapsulated. With good design, doing this isn’t a problem.No atmospheric combustion. If it’s not electric (e.g., heat pump), it’s got to be sealed combustion. Period. You can’t call it a pretty good house otherwise. If you’re in a hot climate where sealed combustion heating equipment is too expensive, I’d say combustion equipment doesn’t make sense. Use a heat pump. They’re actually good for more climates than you might think, especially when combined with a hydronic coil for supplemental heat.Mechanical ventilation. Since the house is going to be tight, it must have a mechanical ventilation system. It will be able to meet the ASHRAE 62.2 requirements with a controller that allows the homeowner to dial it back when necessary. I love the Pretty Good House concept! The folks up in Maine who’ve been developing this idea in their monthly green building discussion group (Steve’s Garage) have struck a chord with a lot of us who design, build, or verify green homes. The growing complexity and expense of green building and energy programs has led to growing frustration. Wouldn’t it be great if we could list just a handful of measures that a home builder has to achieve to build a Pretty Good House?Especially since ENERGY STAR Version 3 started kicking in last year, I’ve been thinking about new ways to achieve good results, and the Pretty Good House idea is a great way to get this going. One way I’ve proposed to simplify HVAC requirements, for example, is with a new benchmark for sizing air conditioning systems. Also, even in the performance path for verification, the prescriptive requirements have become a burden. So where can we take this idea?center_img Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a RESNET-accredited energy consultant, trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard blog. What’s the question again?Even after just seeing the title of the first Pretty Good House article, I started thinking about what a Pretty Good House might look like. Since I’m in International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) Climate Zone 3, my thoughts naturally gravitated to elements that would work well in our mixed-humid climate. I began imagining lists of building envelope details, HVAC system specifications, distribution system requirements, mechanical ventilation, ceiling fans… RELATED ARTICLES The Pretty Good HouseThe Pretty Good House, Part 2Martin’s Pretty Good House ManifestoThe Pretty Good House: A Better Building Standard?Regional Variations on the ‘Pretty Good House’Is the Pretty Good House the Next Big Thing? Part 2Green Building for Beginnerslast_img read more

Calculating Cooling Loads

first_imgA few decades ago, residential air conditioning was very rare in colder areas of the U.S., and cooling load calculations were usually unnecessary. These days, however, new U.S. homes routinely include air conditioning equipment, even in Minnesota, so most U.S. builders are faced with the need to calculate cooling loads.In my last two blogs (“How to Perform a Heat-Loss Calculation,” Part 1 and Part 2), I discussed the principles behind heat-loss calculations used to size heating equipment. In this blog, I’ll discuss the principles behind cooling-load calculations used to size air-conditioning equipment.Although most building codes require load calculations for heating and cooling equipment installed in new homes, the requirement is widely ignored and rarely enforced. Most HVAC contractors never perform cooling load calculations; instead, they size air conditioners by rules of thumb.The age-old rule of thumb used by most contractors was one ton of cooling equipment for every 400 square feet of conditioned space. In a concession to recent improvements in insulation levels and window specifications, some HVAC contractors have adjusted their rule of thumb, and now size air conditions at one ton per 600 square feet.Because these rules of thumb almost always result in gross oversizing of cooling equipment, most energy experts have been battling rule-of-thumb sizing for years. However, rules of thumb have their place. Using a rule of thumb is not really the problem; the problem is that HVAC contractors are using a bad rule of thumb.At least two well-known energy consultants, Michael Blasnik and Allison Bailes, have proposed a new rule of thumb for sizing air conditioners in homes with insulation that meets minimum code requirements: namely, one ton of cooling per 1,000 square feet. According to Blasnik, “Sizing an air conditioner using tons per square foot actually works pretty well,… Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Start Free Trial Already a member? Log incenter_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Memberslast_img read more

Updated: Texas Schools Win Right To Track Students With Creepy, Invasive RFID Locators

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification adam popescu Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Tags:#education#privacy#security#surveillance Update: On Thursday, January 17, the Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals denied the Rutherford Institute’s appeal toprohibit the removal of 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez from John Jay Science & Engineering Academy in San Antonio’s Northside School District, pending the outcome of her case. Hernandez had refused to wear an RFID tracker on religious grounds. The device, implemented to students in a pilot program, monitored her whereabouts while on campus. Hernandez’ attorney, John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, called the ruling a “sad statement on our nation’s growing intolerance for dissent and for those whose religious beliefs may differ from the mainstream.” Hernandez has asked school officials to respect her beliefs, let her use her old ID badge (without the tracking device), and let her stay in school. How far are we willing to go to protect our children? Do we trample their rights in the hope of making them safer? In the wake of serious school violence and tragedy, many would probably say we can’t possibly go too far. But at a magnet school in San Antonio, Texas, the recently launched Student Locator Project is putting that idea to the test. It’s a year-long pilot program tracking the on-campus location of 4,200 middle and high school students – requiring them to wear SmartID card badges with embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking devices. The movements of the kids are being followed everywhere they go on school grounds, from the lunch room to the bathroom. Safer, Or Spied Upon?That’s right, San Antonio’s Northside School District – with 100,000 students total, the fourth-largest in the Lone Star State – is tracking students much the same way scientists follow endangered species. Or deliveries. Or sex offenders. This isn’t the first time tracking tags have been given to students, but unlike most earlier programs, this one is mandatory: It’s happening whether students – or their parents – are okay with it or not.And it’s all perfectly legal. A judge in Texas ruled on Tuesday that because students are on school property, the district has the right to enforce this rule. Caught in the middle is a 15-year-old sophomore named Andrea Hernandez, who was expelled for refusing to wear the badge. Her reasoning was deeply personal. She says it violates her religious beliefs.Hernandez, a devout Christian, viewed the badge as a mark of the beast, and her father filed suit. But U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia disagreed, calling the badge a “secular choice rather than a religious concern.” His ruling forces Hernandez to make a choice: She now has until the end of the current semester – January 18 – to provide written notice to the school as to whether she will wear the badge. (In a key concession, the district offered to let her wear a badge without the tracking chip, but she has so far refused.) Hernandez’s legal representation, the civil-liberties-focused Rutherford Institute, requested a temporary injunction to the district’s move while it prepares an appeal. Rutherford attorneys say that “the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”Safety? Or Cash?And they say the main motive for the tracking measure doesn’t even have anything to do with keeping students safe. Instead, it’s all about money. Improved school attendance rates increase funding. And that’s why the Rutherford Institute thinks the school is fighting so hard for this Big Brother program.“School officials hope that by expanding the program to the district’s 112 schools, they can secure up to $1.7 million in funding from the state government,” the Institute wrote on Tuesday.According to Texas law, school funds are distributed based on students being present – every day students miss class, their school loses money. The district claimed it lost $1.7 million a year due to truancy. In a recent NBC article, district spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said the school is not trying to spy on students. Instead, he characterized the program as an attempt to make sure offenders aren’t tardy and make it to homeroom when the morning bell rings.The district describes the program this way on it’s website: “Northside ISD is harnessing the power of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to make schools safer, know where our students are while at school, increase revenues, and provide a general purpose ‘smart’ ID card.”Fighting Back?“We’re in a really precarious state in this country when we’re debating a case like this,” says Hernandez’ attorney, John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “In a state institution, can they force you into complete compliance,” Whitehead asks. “I say No.”Right now the girl is in school, and not wearing the badge. “All she wants is a regular ID,” Whitehead says, adding that he hopes his legal challenges will be effective. “I think we have a shot,” he says.” The Supreme Court may hear it.”But stopping the project – or even making it voluntary – won’t be easy. “There’s a lot of money to be made off of these things,” Whitehead notes. In Texas, AT&T is behind the RFID chips in question. “They’re going to go nationwide because of corporate interest.”More Than A Religious IssueFor Hernandez, this is a religious issue. But it’s absurd that it has come to that. Tracking people like packages is about the most obvious violation of privacy as could be imagined, especially when the students aren’t even suspected of doing anything wrong. Just because they’re children doesn’t mean they lose all their rights. And besides, in the San Antonio test, even their parents don’t get to opt out for them.Beyond the egregious invasion of privacy, there are very real negative effects to this kind of over-the-top supervision. Matthew Tollin, a Harvard-trained attorney and the founder of wireLawyer, says it can stifle individuality and free expression. “Just think about the chilling effect this could have on a child’s creativity and learning if they feel like everywhere they move they are being watched,” Tollin said. “It’s a very real concern and very real invasion of privacy as protected by our Bill of Rights.”And it only gets worse if, as planned, the Student Locator Project gets expanded to the entire district – or further.Images courtesy of Shutterstock. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

World T20: Afghanistan stun table-toppers West Indies

first_imgSpirited Afghanistan upset former champions West Indies at the World Twenty20 with a thrilling six-run victory in their last Group 1 match on Sunday.Afghanistan’s four-pronged spin attack – led by 17-year-old legspinner Rashid Khan and experienced offspinner Mohammad Nabi who both returned identical figures of 2-26 – restricted the West Indies to 117-8 on a turning wicket after Najibullah Zadran’s 48 off 40 balls earlier anchored them to 123-7.Despite the defeat, West Indies topped Group 1 over England on a superior net run-rate as both teams finished on six points with one defeat and three victories.West Indies will take on either India or Australia in the second semifinal at Mumbai on Thursday. India and Australia meet later Sunday, with Australia winning the toss and choosing to bat.”Obviously very disappointed,” West Indies captain Darren Sammy said of Sunday’s defeat. “But there’s no doubt we’re not going to let this dampen our spirits. We just need to find a way to chase down those small totals. This was the only game we could afford to lose in terms of winning the cup.”Afghanistan lived up to its promise to at least win one match in the Super 10 stage after earlier putting up brave performances before losing to England, Sri Lanka and South Africa.”We knew we could defend the total after watching low scoring games here in Nagpur,”Afghanistan coach Inzamam-ul-Haq said. “Our spinners were fantastic today and the fielding was simply outstanding.”Needing 25 off the last two overs, Carlos Brathwaite smacked two sixes off Gulbadin Naib’s gentle medium pace but West Indies captain Darren Sammy holed out at extra cover in the same over.advertisementWith 10 required off the last six balls, Brathwaite missed Nabi’s first two deliveries before Zadran took a spectacular diving catch at deep mid wicket to stun the 2012 champions.In the absence of rested Chris Gayle, West Indies couldn’t get the sort of start it wanted as Evin Lewis was out for a duck in his debut T20.In form Andre Fletcher pulled his hamstring at the end of the sixth over and left the field in pain. That opened the door for Afghanistan to have a crack at the middle order.Marlon Samuels (5) was baffled by Khan’s vicious googly and was bowled off the back foot, and Dwayne Bravo (28) was trapped leg before wicket by Nabi. Denesh Ramdin was stumped by Khan’s sharp legspinner after the wicketkeeper-batsman made a pedestrian 18 off 24 balls while Andre Russell (7) was run out by a direct throw from wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad to reduce West Indies to 98-6 in the 18th over.Earlier, key batsmen Shahzad (24) and captain Asghar Stanikzai (16) fell early while trying expansive shots off Samuel Badree (3-14), who also clean bowled Usman Ghani off his fifth delivery.Samiullah Shenwari and Naib fell in the space of six runs and left their team reeling at 56-5 in an attempt to increase the scoring rate.Zadran and Nabi added 34 runs for the sixth wicket stand – going from 56-5 to 90-6 – before Nabi fell in the 17th over off a brilliant catch which was set up by Sammy. He stretched full length and palmed the ball into the safe hands of Samuels after intercepting Nabi’s hard drive at extra cover.Zadran held the innings together and took the total beyond 120 when he smashed two boundaries in Bravo’s last over of the innings with a switch-hit and a crisp drive through the coverslast_img read more