Growing Impact Podcast

Growing Impact is a podcast by the Institute of Energy and Environment (IEE) that explores cutting-edge projects of researchers and scientists who are solving some of the world's most challenging energy and environmental issues. Each project has been funded through the IEE Seed Grant Program.

Growing Impact: Community-powered solar farming

In this episode:

Solar energy's surge, driven by cost efficiency and climate change urgency, is prompting a rapid transition to a renewable energy source with substantial land requirements. To inform just and sustainable rural land use with solar, a research team is working in rural communities to determine the potential for harmonious coexistence between solar and agriculture.

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Growing Impact: Climate, crops, and the Colorado River

The Colorado River supports more than a trillion dollars in economic activity and supplies water to an estimated 40 million people. The overuse of the Colorado River and an extensive climate change-driven drought have significantly decreased the volume of the fifth largest river in the U.S. A research team is exploring how climate change and agricultural adaptation will affect water availability in the Upper Colorado River Basin and what is important to communities that depend on the river.

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Growing Impact: Contrails and climate change

In this episode:

Contrails are the second largest contributor to aviation's impact on climate change after carbon dioxide emissions from fuel burn. A new interdisciplinary project looks to identify opportunities to mitigate the climate impacts of contrails as the number of people flying is anticipated to grow in the coming years.

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Growing Impact: Restoring Malawi's forests

In this episode:

Malawi is facing environmental challenges including deforestation, soil erosion, and unsustainable farming practices. While Malawi has pledged to restore degraded lands, it is not clear if any efforts are accomplishing what they intended. A research group is using Malawi as a case study to better inform policies and practices in forest landscape restoration.

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Growing Impact: Solar-powered water treatment

In this episode:

With rising energy costs and the worsening climate crisis, some wastewater treatment plants have started using solar energy. However, solar adoption at wastewater treatment plants is still relatively new, and there is little known about these facilities, including where they are, what drove them to choose solar, and if solar has been a success. A team of researchers looks to fill in those gaps with a new project.

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Growing Impact: Upcycling plastics with fungi

In this episode:

Plastic is everywhere. It's part of our homes, our clothing, our vehicles. It wraps our food, and it's part of virtually every technology. It really is an amazing, versatile, and affordable material. And a highly used plastic is plastic film—as in garbage bags, grocery bags, and plastic wrap. Generally, plastic film is a one-time use material. After that one use, it's usually thrown into a landfill, which comes to nearly 6 million tons every year. Enter our team of researchers who found inspiration from a Netflix documentary. That inspiration? The amazing fungus. Now the team is exploring if fungus could help us manage our plastic waste economically.

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Growing Impact: Season 4

In season four, Growing Impact is expanding: more team members from different disciplines and deeper conversations around the challenges their project is addressing, the inspiration that turned an idea into a project, and the solutions that may arise from these interdisciplinary researchers. Join us on September first for season four of Growing Impact. 

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Growing Impact: Flooding, addiction, and resilience

In this episode:

Substance use is similar to extreme weather due to climate change in multiple ways. Both have had impacts in rural towns and big cities. Both can affect any socio-economic class. Both are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and both can damage lives. Another connection is the influence of one on the other, specifically, how extreme weather, like flooding, can impact a community's ability to support those afflicted with substance use disorder.

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Growing Impact: Urban embodied carbon

In this episode:

Every material that makes up a building, be it steel, concrete, wood, or plastic, has a greenhouse gas emission associated with it. This is called embodied carbon, and calculating the amount of GHG for one building is achievable. However, calculating that amount for an entire city is still a challenge, but a team of researchers is working to make that calculation achievable.

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Growing Impact: Cities cooled by trees

In this episode:

As cities are built, a lot of vegetation is replaced with building materials such as concrete and brick. These materials absorb the sun's heat and then radiate it back into the atmosphere. This leads to urban heat islands where cities are much hotter than the surrounding areas. But trees offer shade and cooling, reducing the temperature in cities. So, what is stopping cities from planting more trees? That is what one research team is investigating.

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