The clean air from COVID-19 shutdowns made solar panels more productive

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Clearer skies make for more sun on panels, which starts a virtuous cycle: less pollution to block the panels in the future. When COVID-19 forced Delhi into lockdown, residents reported a surprising benefit: blue skies and cleaner air. People in the world’s most polluted city said they could breathe better and reported using their inhalers less. The drop in air pollution provided another perk, as well: solar panels were able to produce more power. Read Full Story

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This is the unseen factor pushing the COVID-19 death count even higher

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15% of global COVID-19 deaths could be linked to air pollution exposure. Even before the spread of COVID-19, scientists had declared we were in the midst of an air pollution pandemic , with bad air responsible for 8.8 million premature deaths every year. Now, researchers better understand how these two crises are converging. Across the world, more than 1.1 million people have died of COVID-19, and 15% of those deaths, researchers estimate, could be attributed to long-term air pollution exposure. Read Full Story

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Ready to invest in a high-quality air purifier? Dyson’s eliminate 99.97% of air particles

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These multi-tasking air purifiers are approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America—and also heat, cool, and humidify your space. Nothing makes poor air quality more apparent than smog, orange skies, smoke, and a haze that you can barely see through. And although devastating destruction and visible pollution are obvious signs of poor air quality, oftentimes unsafe air is much less visible. That’s why investing in an air purifier is a logical, proactive step to take to protect you and yours from the harmful effects of gas and particulate pollution that can make its way into your home. As it stands, 91% of the population lives in places where the air quality fall below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines. Read Full Story

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At this new net-zero energy McDonald’s, on-site solar provides 100% of the power

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By 2030, emissions from McDonald’s restaurants and offices will need to drop 36%, compared to 2015, to meet the company’s science-based targets. This new restaurant now open at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is one step toward that goal. At a new McDonald’s restaurant that just opened at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida (with COVID-19 protection measures in place), solar panels covering the roof—and solar glass panels throughout the building—are designed to generate enough energy that the restaurant can run on 100% renewable power. Read Full Story

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The most polluted parts of the U.S. are more at risk for coronavirus deaths

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So far, someone who has lived in a county with only a microgram more air pollution per cubic meter is 15% more likely to die than someone in a county with cleaner air. If you’ve spent a long time living in an area with high rates of air pollution and you’re infected with the new coronavirus, you may be at greater risk of dying. There could be a link between long-term exposure to high levels of PM 2.5 pollution—the tiny particles of soot that come from sources like car engines and coal gas power plants—and higher death rates from COVID-19. Read Full Story

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We’re at a climate turning point. COVID-19 recovery plans could tip the scales

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What sort of future do we want? The pandemic recovery plans lawmakers are creating now will decide. It’s 2030. You live in a 15-minute city and bike to work on a network of bike paths; most of the vehicles that are still on the road, from delivery trucks to school buses, are electric, running on wind and solar power from a revamped power grid. Formerly redlined neighborhoods have been planted with trees, equipped with electric carsharing, and covered in solar panels. When you want to take a quick trip to another city, you ride on an electric high-speed train. Read Full Story

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The case for a national climate bank

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A national climate bank could spur private investment in clean energy and create millions of jobs—paving the way for a low-carbon future post-COVID-19. On a block in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a row of small houses are each topped with solar panels. The homeowners might not have normally considered solar or been able to afford it, but they’re part of a program that helps lower-income households access solar power and efficiency upgrades. They now save hundreds of dollars each year on energy bills. Read Full Story

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How Tommy Hilfiger is working toward a more sustainable and inclusive fashion industry

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From a massive solar roof to new equity programs to washing denim with lasers instead of water. On the roof of Tommy Hilfiger’s European distribution center—located in the Dutch town of Venlo—are 48,000 solar panels, just one of the latest steps the fashion brand has taken to be more sustainable. CEO Martijn Hagman announced the completion of the solar panel roof at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Tuesday, saying the company believes it’s “one of the most powerful solar roofs in the world at this moment.” Read Full Story

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This calculator tells you how much your remote work is reducing your company’s emissions

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Ending your daily commute might lower your footprint—but not always. When businesses and schools shut down in Los Angeles a year ago for the pandemic, the city’s smoggy skies cleared and rush hour traffic disappeared . Pollution also shrank in other cities . It seemed like a sign of how much climate emissions and air pollution could drop if companies decided to let more employees work from home permanently. Read Full Story

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This game-changing solar company recycles old panels into new ones

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The first wave of solar panels is reaching the end of their useful lives. Now they can become new solar panels instead of trash. The global surge in solar power is helping quickly lower the cost of solar panels and shrink energy’s carbon footprint, with around 70,000 solar panels being installed every hour by 2018, and an estimated 1.47 million solar panels in place by that year in the U.S. alone. But it also means that we’ll face an enormous pile of e-waste when those panels eventually wear out. Read Full Story

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We need trees to fight pollution in cities—but which trees we use matters a lot

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Placing trees between roads and pedestrians can make life way healthier, but some trees perform their task better than others. Though having a lot of greenery indoors may not significantly remove pollutants from the air of your home (though the plants do look nice), green infrastructure does have a large impact. Some outdoor vegetation does directly remove pollutants from the air, but even on the scale of an entire city, this effect is pretty negligible. Instead, what greenery can do in a specific area or on a specific street, though, is form a physical barrier between traffic emissions and pedestrians walking around, which does protect from the health effects of air pollution. It’s not that just having trees somewhere in a city helps to make the air less polluted; it’s more about having the right kinds of trees in the right places. Read Full Story

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