Or, you could tear it down

When developers were designing a new amusement park in Tokyo, they were sensitive to its environmental impact on the neighbors. So they made sure to keep everything - especially the roller coaster - within local specifications. After all, their investment cost $141 million, and they didn't want to risk it by running afoul of the law. Well, the place has been open a month and already there's trouble. It seems no one factored in the shrieking of riders on the 80 m.p.h. roller coaster, which operates until 10 p.m. Now, hundreds of neighbors are demanding remediation - perhaps a wall to deflect the noise away from them, or sound-proof windows for their residences.

We're just not into it

When local elections were held last week in Spain, balloting in the town of Torremontalbo was over in 68 minutes. Pretty impressive, huh? Yes, until you consider that Torremontalbo set the national record in 1995, the last previous election: 6 minutes. But then it has only 18 registered voters.

A 'zero-energy' house sells in Arizona

An Arizona home expected to serve all energy needs with net-zero energy bills at the end of one year sold last week for $386,000.

Tucson's Zero Energy Home (ZEH) is part of a national demonstration program funded by the US Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Tucson Electric Power has agreed to run the home's meter backward and credit homeowners when the home's renewable-energy systems put power back into the grid.

The buyers, Jose and Marcy Reyes, were interested in current technologies to preserve resources. The ZEH's features include: solar space and water heating, energy-saving fluorescent lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and windows that minimize heat gain during the summer. The house took eight months to construct.

Who leads, who trails in high-school graduation rates

Federal estimates that 11 percent of high school students fail to graduate may be far too low, a new study suggests. Commissioned by the advocacy group Business Roundtable, the study compared the number of diplomas awarded in each state and in Washington D.C. with the population of 18-year-olds, concluding that as many as 30 percent are dropouts. The states with the five highest and lowest graduation rates, from the study:

1. Vermont 92.1%
2. Connecticut 87.6
3. Nebraska 85.9
4. Minnesota 85.3
5. North Dakota 85.1
47. Louisiana, Tennessee (tie) 62.5
48. Mississippi 60.4
49. South Carolina 60.1
50. Georgia 58.5
51. Arizona 55.8 - PR Newswire

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