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Nearly all food and agricultural waste in the U.S. enters landfills, making it the largest contributor of material entering these sites. Biological pre-treatment of large organic molecules by fermentative organisms lowers the high organic carbon load in waste, lowers wastewater treatment costs, and can produce bioenergy to partially offset costs. Conceivably, microbes that grow best above 80°C, or so-called ‘hyperthermophiles’, could be used to consolidate wastewater heat treatment and organic remediation in a single step to decrease costs while producing H2 as an energy product.

Dual-use systems are still novel, and to a degree experimental. What agricultural activities are most compatible with dual-use is not well understood, nor is whether the new incentive will be sufficient to spur significant adoption of dual-use cropping systems. UMass has important roles in the development and adoption of dual-use systems. First, UMass Extension will serve as a clearinghouse of information and an educational resource for the agricultural and solar energy communities regarding the new technology and new incentive program.

The Building Energy Extension Program conveys current energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building science information to stakeholders including those in the building trades, design professionals, state government agencies, and building owners and occupants through workshops, web publication, and consulting. Applied research in building energy systems and is conducted to respond to perceived stakeholder need.

Little research is available regarding energy use and sourcing decisions among lower-income households, particularly with respect to the efficacy of various behavioral interventions (e.g., providing social norms information; financial vs. social incentives). There is a similar lack of research that examines the barriers to and facilitators of lower-income households adopting small-scale renewable energy technologies (e.g., rooftop solar).

Sustainable design and construction techniques for the United States housing sector are the most economically-effective strategies for preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating future energy security. More than 90-percent of the housing built in the Northeast is constructed from wood harvested from forests in New England. In the United States, 55-percent of timber production goes into the production of buildings.

Here, we propose to use a model grass species, Brachypodium distachyon, to initiate discoveries that can help realize the potential of plant-based renewable energy sources. With the research proposed, we will be discovering the extent of natural variation in traits relevant to biofuel production and identifying candidate loci controlling these variable traits. Our use of natural diversity to identify phenotypes that lead to greater fuel efficiency, and to ultimately identify genes underlying desirable feedstock traits, will aid in the development of optimal plant feedstocks for biofuel.

UMass Clean Energy Extension is coordinating with DOER and the State Geologist Stephen Mabee and Five College Professor Michael Rhodes, Department of Geosciences, to conduct geological explorations to identify potential near surface bedrock for direct geothermal heating in Massachusetts.

The Clean Energy Extension has reached out to MassDEP and received its public database of over 7000 boiler and turbines permitted across its four state regions.  The extension will use this database to develop a GIS depiction and analysis of the boilers to target businesses and institutions for CHP, renewable thermal, and district energy opportunities.

Project Goals: (1) To motivate the use and development of data center facilities, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to support the IT and knowledge economies, by quantifying the energy savings from using newer data center technologies that are emerging. (2) To suggest simple ways to improve the energy-efficiency hosting servers on campuses or in office settings, either by improving the efficiency of existing server closets or using a prototype of a free air cooling system. 

Massachusetts has over 1,000 growers producing greenhouse crops in 12 million square feet of protected growing space (2002 Census of Agriculture). Most of Massachusetts’ greenhouses are heated with either fuel oil or liquid propane. While there are no firm figures available, we estimate that total use of fossil fuels for greenhouse heat is equivalent to nearly 1 million gallons of fuel oil, with emissions in the range of 22 million pounds of CO2 annually.

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