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Tidewater Current





Original Content & Curated News Featuring Sustainable Endeavors in Coastal Virginia & Beyond.

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Staghorn Coral Nursery. Image: NOAA

Force Blue: Weapons of Reef Construction:

Transferring skills from military dive training, retired warriors are responding to a different kind of planetary threat: the loss critical ocean habitat.  Force Blue is a non-profit organized by veterans to rebuild coral reefs. In their new mission, the group is not just helping to heal critical marine ecosystems; the program also therapeutically serves to support vets as they deal with issues related to military service and make the often difficult transition to civilian life.   

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Toyota Support Energy ObserverToyota Corporation supports the Energy Observer Expedition | Image: Toyota Europe

Changing the Current to Power the Future:

Repurposed from the Formule Tag, a former world record racing catamaran, the Energy Observer has been converted into a floating laboratory to trial and demonstrate climate friendly propulsion. With a vision to build a hydrogen future, Toyota France has dived into to support a pioneering mission to showcase the potential of the substance: A round-the-world hydrogen powered journey in a state-of-the-art self-fueling vessel that captures the power in nature without harming it.

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Virginia Governor Takes Climate Action

Touted as a "Clean Energy Initiative," Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order on Tuesday, May 16 to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Referring to climate change, the Governor notes that, "as the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. ... Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean energy future." Executive Directive 11 calls for the promulgation of a regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Boards's consideration that will control carbon dioxide emissions from the main source, electric utilities, by December 31, 2017. Continue Reading


Watts on your Rooftop: Map Program Measures PV Potential

Google's online platform, "Project Sunroof," provides highly detailed solar info on 60 million rooftops in all 50 states. The program covering about half of all U.S. households includes much of the Hampton Roads metro area. The project was developed partly in response to the company's own commitment to clean energy, Google's world-wide operations are on track to be powered entirely by renewables this year. The main driver of the endeavor was an overwhelming volume of search engine queries.

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1st Major Wind Farm in the Southeast is Operating
NC Facility is Generating Power Consumed in Virginia

Virginia’s neighbor to the south is a clean energy leader, claiming the number two spot, behind California, for installed solar capacity.  And now North Carolina has realized another renewable milestone as home to the first "major" wind farm in the southeast.

104 turbines reaching about 500 feet skyward at the blade tip are distributed upon 22,000 acres spanning numerous low lying Pasquotank and Perquimans County farms.  The facility began full commercial production in early February.  The power injected into the local grid is produced for Amazon data centers, including one in Northern Virginia, and compares to the energy needed to supply about 61,000 homes.

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John Collamore of the Colonia Seaport Foundation with Model of the Luna

Charting a Course for Sustainable Transport:  Luna Project Aims to bring Sail Freight to the Chesapeake Bay

The Colonial Seaport Foundation, based out of Deltaville, Virginia is undertaking a massive reconstruction project. With the hull of a 1976 gaff topsail ketch, they are recreating a colonial era Bermuda sloop painstakingly pieced together from parts salvaged from destroyed vessels. Measuring 76 feet in length with 50 feet on deck, the vessel will be used for educational outreach and, in keeping with its historical objective, cargo transport.

President of the Colonial Seaport Foundation, John Collamore, exhibiting a model of the of the Luna.

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Avoiding a Collision Course - Local & Global Action

With numerous humpback whale strandings in the Chesapeake Bay region over recent winters, locals are concerned. To mitigate potential impacts that naval operations in and around the Chesapeake Bay region could have on migrating species, the Navy initiated a local 3 year study to establish a baseline of behavioral patterns for humpback whales in training and vessel transit areas. Whale ship strikes are unfortunately not just a local concern, they are an international problem. When you look at a map of the volume of ship traffic, its easy to see why. As an ecological dilemma of global proportions, the United Nations is now considering how to protect whale species in their habitat which often overlaps with economically important trade routes.

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Basket Stars rest on a Bubblegum Coral in Norfolk Canyon

Large Offshore Protected Area for Deep-Sea Corals Codified

Through a scrupulous process that involved multiple meetings and input from all stakeholders, a final rule designating The Frank R. Lautenberg Deep Sea Coral Protection Area was issued by NOAA in the Federal Register on December 14, 2016 and became effective on January 13, 2017. The affected areas lie about 100 miles off the coast stretching from Rhode Island to Virginia and includes known coral havens and those that are highly favorable coral locations, like deepwater canyons and slopes along the outer continental shelf. In total, the coral zone encompasses more than 38,000 square miles of federal waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast, an area approximately the size of the state of Virginia.

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The FutureHAUS bedroom has a multimedia canopy bed screen that can project everything from TV and Internet to ambient lighting and user-responsive sleep scenes.

The Future of Smart, Sustainable Housing: Virginia Tech's FutureHaus Design Platform will be Featured at the 2018 International Solar Decathlon in Dubai

Fine tuning prefabricated construction, an innovative building system pioneered at Virginia Tech dubbed FutureHaus features cartridge style plug and play modular components. “Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS research isn’t just some cool, futuristic concept,” commented project leader Joseph Wheeler, professor of architecture and co-director of the Center for Design Research.  “We’re proving that it’s a practical, easy-to-implement model for efficient design and building that could revolutionize the construction industry and make housing more accessible to people of all walks of life, everywhere.”

The prototype FutureHAUS bedroom has a multimedia canopy bed screen that can project everything from TV and Internet to ambient lighting and user-responsive sleep scenes. Image: Virginia Tech

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ReefLab_TilesReef Design Lab tiles have been installed in two Chesapeake Bay tributaries to study recruitment of native flora and fauna. Image: World Harbour Project

VIMS Participates in International Harbour Initiative

With major metro areas built around ports across the globe, coastal cities share common concerns. The World Harbour Project (WHP) was formed by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science to foster collaboration between scientists on shared issues relating to the blue urban environment, including water quality and loss of biodiversity. Scientist Rochelle Seitz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has joined the WHP's global network of scientists investigating how to enhance the built marine environment and bring back native biodiversity lost to urbanization. Researchers representing more than a dozen institutions are involved in the Bivalve Restoration Project.

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AIA - National Resilience Initiative

Designing a Coastal Future in the Face of Sea Level Rise

Though it may be small, the Hampton University Architecture Department shows big promise in the resiliency arena.  According to Associate Professor, Mason Andrews, HU is now offering a certification in Sea Level Rise Adaptation with courses starting in January 2017.  She also notes that HU was recently selected as “one of six architecture schools to head regional efforts” for the AIA Foundation’s National Resilience Initiative. Even more impressive is the $120 million HUD award made to the Commonwealth, largely earmarked for a design strategy hatched by HU architecture students collaborating with Mujde Erten-Unal 's engineering counterparts from Old Dominion University.  Andrews has another ambitious plan in mind: Continue Reading.

The Governor of Virginia, Secretary of the Navy & Dominion CEO sign an energy initiative agreemnt on a ceremonial solar panel at Ocean Naval Air Station

Solar Projects Soar

High School rooftops, military installations and an electric cooperative in Virginia are supporting solar. Read more about recent ground-breaking initiatives, including the 21 MW solar farm planned at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. Read Post.

Image: Oceana Naval Air Station on August 2, 2016 - The Governor of Virginia, Secretary of the Navy & Dominion CEO sign a renewable energy initiative agreement on a ceremonial solar panel. Photo: U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Yarborough

CORRT Grow Oyster ReefsCopying Nature:  Biomimicry in Oyster Reef Restoration

Nonprofit and government agencies led by the Army Corps of Engineers have mobilized oyster restoration efforts. There’s just one problem. There is a shortage of natural shell to rebuild reefs. According to Jim Wesson of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, “the price of shell has tripled over the last five years.” With high demand for shell for oyster aquaculture and limited supply available, the VMRC recommends the use of artificial substrate for sanctuary reefs which are not harvested.  A new and unique reef material developed by an award winning Charlottesville architect and entrepreneur, looks to be a promising product to help fill the void.

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The Climate Cure: Balancing Earth's Carbon Equilibrium by Transforming a Climate Liability into a Commodity

World leaders agreed in Paris December 2015 to constrain global greenhouse emissions. During the landmark UN event, 195 countries committed to take steps that will slow the climate warming trend and limit the global thermostat from inching 2 degrees Celsius above historic averages.

By engineering high tech as well as down to earth strategies, entrepreneurs aim to cash in on the carbon conundrum. A host of pioneering carbon offsetting initiatives are discussed including carbon trading, regenerative agriculture and biomass fixing, as well as drawing down ambient CO2 as a feedstock for products including fuel.

Bay-Saver Bags similar to the Gulf-Saver Bags pictured here were planted along the Maryland shoreline as a carbon offset. Read more about developing carbon assets through biomass storage.

Please House Point

Place Making, Habitat Preservation & Sustainable Design on the Lynnhaven River

With Accreditation & Acclaim, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Establishes a High Profile Presence in Tidewater

To achieve net zero impact on the environment, the Brock Center produces its own energy and water while many of the facility amenities were salvaged. In addition to going above and beyond in the office design, the entire Pleasure House Point site is undergoing ecological enhancement. Read More.


Virginia Benefits from Down to Earth Applications of Space Agency Research

Monitoring earth systems from the vantage of space provides critical weather, land use, and environmental data. With some data sets covering decades, important trends can be identified to inform land users and policy makers. In the Commonwealth, work is underway on innovative projects that will have benefits extending from the shore to the mountains. Existing remotely sensed data is being used to support the wine industry while innovative microsatellite networks are in development to improve hurricane forecasting along the the coast.

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Plastic Pollution

National Microbead Ban Signed by the President! Read More.

Fashion Sends an SOS for the Ocean - Apparel fabricated from plastic debris recovered from the sea is rolling into the marketplace. In a campaign championed by Virginia Beach native and pop icon Pharrell Williams, the artist is spotlighting the plight caused by pollution and an innovative solution. Through his contribution, he hopes to garner support and catalyze action. Read Post.







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