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Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to our health.

This is especially true for kids and adults with asthma.

On days with poor air quality, people with asthma and other respiratory conditions can take care of themselves better by limiting outdoor air exposure and limited exertion.

So why not help communities keep their citizen informed? Like, say, by flying brightly colored indicator flags over schools and municipal buildings.

Sort of like how beaches post “Rough Surf” warning flags to advise swimmers of  dangerous conditions.

That’s where the EPA is going with their School Flag Program. This initiative is designed to help children, parents, school personnel and the community be aware of daily air quality conditions using brightly colored flags.

Each day, a flag is raised in front of participating schools that signals the level of air pollution for that day. By comparing the colored flags to the Air Quality Index (AQI), members of the school and the surrounding community can tell what the daily air quality is, and adjust their activities to reduce their exposure to air pollution. Green indicates good air quality, yellow is moderate, orange means unhealthy for sensitive groups (like children and those with asthma), and red signals unhealthy air for everyone.

But let me ask you…would your town go for it?

Could your public officials and business community stand the sight of a daily reminder of whether the air in your town is safe to breathe?

Especially if you lived in a town near an incineration plant or chemical refinery?

Your officials might well care, and care deeply, but feel limited in their ability to do anything about it.

Pardon the pun, but my cynical Jersey-native nose says this program doesn’t pass the smell test.

I wonder how many NJ schools participate in this program?

I hope I’m wrong and learn that this program is being well-received and helping communities work for better, clearer, safer air everyday.

I’ll update once I hear back from the EPA coordinator.

Learn more: EPA School Flag Program

Another reason I Love NY.

Decrease energy consumption. Save money. Create jobs.

Works for me.

Via SustainableBusiness.com

NY State to Reduce Energy Consumption 20% by 2016

The state of New York will invest $800 million in government buildings to reduce energy consumption 20% by 2016.

To finance the projects, the New York Power Authority will issue debt, which will retrofit state buildings ($450 million) and local government, schools and public hospitals ($350 million).

Retrofits will not only decrease energy demand, but will create thousands of green jobs, keep money circulating in the local economy, and free up resources for essential services.

NJ’s Franklin Township public officials are grappling with a proposed 20-megawatt solar-power “farm” on nearly 100 acres of privately held property currently zoned as farmland.

New Jersey’s Farmland Assessment Act grants property owners lower tax assessments for farming or otherwise productively using their land.  The law allows for up to 10 acres to be covered with solar panels.

Since this proposal is for 10 times that limit, the owner would necessarily relinquish the farmland assessment to get into a new kind of farming.

Is this a good move for the township?

What are the risks and benefits of losing 100 acres of open space relative to this project’s clean energy generation potential?

Will the land owner be permitted to build this project?

Via NJ.com:

‘Solar Farm’ Proposal Called ‘Biggest Project’ Franklin Township Has Ever Seen

Franklin Claims Jurisdiction on Evaluating den Hollander’s Solar Project

Stay tuned for the discussions this project will raise around land use, renewable energy, and private property rights in NJ, the Crowded State.

Public hearings are scheduled for late March.