UH Offers Earth Day Events, Expertise

City of Houston Earth Day Community Forum: The University of Houston will host the city's component of the National Conversation on Climate Action, at which everyday folks and local government officials will discuss the environment, from 7 to 9 p.m., Wednesday at the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library. Learn more at www.uh.edu/af/greenUH/nationalconversationemailer.pdf.

UH Earth Day Carnival: The University of Houston will host its Earth Day Carnival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 22. There will be games, food, electric car rides, vegetable planting in our new garden and a balloon launch. For more details and a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.uh.edu/af/greenUH/earthday09.htm. For media parking or accommodations, contact Mike Emery at 713-743-8186.

Talk about a photo opportunity: One "green" retreat under construction on campus already has been claimed by students as a solid study spot. The meditation garden and Japanese koi pond, sandwiched between the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and the Cullen College of Engineering, is almost complete. For more information, contact Marisa Ramirez at 713-743-8152 or mrcannon@uh.edu.

Check out our blooming building: The only sloped "green" roof in the city is on our campus - and it's awash in color this spring. The Burdette Keeland Jr. Design Exploration Center supports the production of prototypes for the UH Green Building Components Design program, which is funded with $1 million from the Houston Endowment and the Meadows Foundation. The building garnered a certificate of recognition from Keep Houston Beautiful and received the 2008 Texas Architects Honor Award for design. For more information, contact Marisa Ramirez at 713-743-8152 or mrcannon@uh.edu.

Reaching out across the world: Earth Day naturally brings to mind ideas of a greener, more natural and organic planet. One professor at UH believes that, although Earth Day advocacy groups have good intentions, a greater perspective is needed. As organic lifestyles begin to popularize in the United States, professor Thomas DeGregori believes genetically modified crops are a better solution to feeding the world's hungry and poverty-stricken and a way to encompass the true meaning of Earth Day. To learn more, contact DeGregori at 713-743-3838 or trdegreg@uh.edu.

Rebuilding and securing coastal cities:As residents of the damaged Texas coast continue to rebuild their homes and lives after the ravages of Hurricane Ike and prepare for the 2009 hurricane season, concerns remain over beach erosion, the relative sea-level rise and seaside development. To find out more about the vulnerability of coastal communities and the ability to maintain the coast's natural appearance, contact Bill Dupre at 713-743-3425 or wdupre@uh.edu.

Making our mark on the marshes:Amid the global competition for water, the planet's wetlands are in what seems to be a losing battle. What once were rich, abundant breeding grounds for plant and animal life are slowly disappearing as rivers and streams dry up and as humans develop the land. UH's Steven Pennings has spent years in the trenches of the wetlands on all three of America's coasts, and he's not afraid to get his hands dirty - or his feet wet. To find out more about the use and conservation of wetlands, contact Pennings at 713-743-2989 or spennings@uh.edu.

Reducing diesel combustion emissions: Diesel fuel burns much more efficiently than gasoline, so the development of effective technologies for reducing emissions of diesel combustion pollutants nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate soot offers great promise for reducing energy consumption and, in turn, the production of carbon dioxide, which has been linked to climate change.For more about clean diesel technologies, contact Mike Harold, principal investigator of UH's Texas Diesel Testing and Research Center, at 713-743-4322 or mharold@uh.edu.

Harnessing solar energy: Researchers at the UH Center for Advanced Materials are looking to the sun for alternative-energy answers. Recent developments in inexpensive solar devices could drive down the cost of electricity and bring power to millions of homes across the country. To learn more about how solar energy will create a pathway to energy efficiency, contact Alex Freundlich at 713-743-3621 or afreundlich@uh.edu.

Getting solar power by way of the moon: In the search for alternative energy sources, a growing number of researchers, including those at UH's Institute for Space Systems Operations, are looking to the moon. By 2050, a planet Earth with 10 billion people would require about 20 terawatts of power - or about three to five times the amount of commercial power currently produced. The moon receives more than 13,000 terawatts of solar power, and just a fraction of that could satisfy all of Earth's power needs. The team at UH's ISSO want to do just that - and they've got plenty to say about what it'll take to "beam" it down. Contact Dave Criswell at 713-743-9135 or dcriswell@uh.edu.

Doing more to conserve drinking water: As potable water becomes scarce in parts of the world, scientists are working on technologies to save Earth's limited supply of the incredibly valuable resource. Hanadi Rifai and Dennis Clifford can explain how water filtration and recycling techniques can address the growing global water shortage. Contact Rifai at 713-743-4271 or rifai@uh.edu,and contact Clifford at 713-743-4266 or daclifford@uh.edu.

Fighting it out in the courts: As local, national and global communities enact new environmental safeguards and take violators to task, one thing's destined to happen: They'll end up battling it out in court. UH's Center for Environment, Energy and Natural Resources at the University of Houston is the first law program in the country to link energy issues with impacts on environment and natural resources, and Victor B. Flatt, director of the center and a nationally recognized expert in environmental legal and policy matters, can speak to what's happening in the judicial system today and what's to come. Contact Flatt at 713-743-2155 or vflatt@uh.edu.

For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.

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