Suppot Navajo Adults with Developmental Disabilities


 

October 20, 2009 @ 11:55 am
Is the Smart Grid Possible?

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If you’re like me, you have seen the GE and IBM “Smart Grid” commercials and perhaps other promotions espousing the benefits of the smart grid. You probably agree that having a smart grid sounds like a fantastic idea, but you wonder how are we ever going to reach the smart grid utopia that is being promoted?

The existing power grid in the U.S. transmits and distributes electricity that traditionally has been produced by about 10,000 centralized generating plants that are inherently inefficient. They’re long-lived assets that cannot and are not replaced often due to costs and regulations. Thus, targeting the grid would seem to be a bountiful shortcut to energy efficiency gains and reduced consumption, but this is no small task either.

tranmission

According to the Department of Energy, there are over 157,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines but construction of and investment in new facilities has continually decreased while electricity demand has continually increased. Newly developed renewable resources often don’t match population and industrial density so there is a desperate need for new transmission capacity. However, local opposition and litigation regularly stalls new projects, costs outpace investment returns and permitting can take years. Distribution infrastructure is even more highly regulated and controlled by thousands of different state and local government and utility operators making coordinated investments and improvements difficult.

If the infrastructure is too costly and time-consuming to replace in short order then the bridge would seem to be enabling, add-on technologies that make what we’re stuck with more efficient. Currently, the grid is a jumble of one-way streets with crossing guards that forgot there walkie-talkies. It needs to be a network of two-way highways with automated systems connected by real-time dynamic communications. Right now, a utility often doesn’t know you lost power until you call them. Meanwhile, consumers lack information about peak and off-peak usage and details about their energy usage. The smart grid would derive much of its benefits from automation and the collaboration of market participants, but we have little proof of concept to go on. This video provides a good overview of the issues:

The primary theory of smart grid technology is that consumers will actively reduce electricity demand/drive energy efficiency. A new project/large-scale test by Xcel Energy will provide worthy insights as to whether a nationwide smart grid is an achievable goal.

In the process of turning Boulder, CO into “SmartGridCity,” the company has spent millions installing 200 miles of fiber optics communications cables, 16,000 “smart” meters. You can read more about it in the NY Times here.  

There are currently few, if any incentives for utilities and customers to better manage and reduce electricity consumption. Compounding the problem is that each state’s public utility commission (PUC) has their own ideas and authority so the evolution will happen in a piecemeal fashion. Aside from that, if you’re a capital intensive utility can you afford to sell less electricity? Many are saying “likely not,” by continuing to oppose the distributed generation model (consumers have their own generation sources; solar, wind, etc. and sell excess power back to the grid). The utilities need new revenue models and the consumers need transparent, dynamic pricing information along with their smart meters so that are engaged and motivated to make energy consumption decisions.

October 5, 2009 @ 11:37 am
Future Green Innovators Descend on D.C. Mall

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Later this week (Oct. 9th, see events), the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Solar Decathlon” educational competition and exhibition opens on the National Mall in D.C. Every year, applications are solicited around the world and 20 university-based teams are given $100,000 of start-up capital to “design, build and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. I was reminded of the event by an alumni bulletin from my alma mater, Penn State.

A multidisciplinary team of 17 students and faculty from the colleges of earth and mineral sciences, engineering, and arts and architecture has spent months developing their design and preparing the structure for judging in D.C. A previous Penn State entry in 2007 won fourth place and team members from this year’s entry, “Natural Fusion,” think they can do even better this year. “We came very close to third place (in 2007),” said team member Thomas Rauch. “We were in contention until the last day of the competition. That ending left a sour taste, so we are excited to participate again, and we feel that we have a real shot at first place this year.” They’ll have to withstand strong competition from other schools in the U.S. as well as students in Germany, Spain and Canada. Here’s a time lapse video of Penn State’s construction (with high energy soundtrack accompaniment.

As the name of the competition implies, the homes must be powered exclusively by the sun and they will be judged in 10 categories:

As you can see, to be successful, the homes must be attractive to live in, environmentally sound and energy efficient while still providing all the creature comforts of modern life. This might seem like a daunting task, but it is attainable – and these are college students –who are very creative. A 2007 team was unphased when they wanted to use a geothermal heat pump but wouldn’t be able to excavate the National Mall; they just designed their house with a rooftop pond! The combination of young innovators and more solar power portends a bright future.

Good luck to my fellow Penn Staters on the “Natural Fusion” team!

September 22, 2009 @ 11:13 am
Green Power from Piezoelectric Nanotechnology and Viral Batteries

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I don’t know about you but every time I charge a cell phone or use a laptop I wonder why we don’t have better batteries. It feels like a technological conspiracy that computer processing speed has doubled every 18 months for decades but battery life fails to do the same or come even close to that. If it had, we’d be flying around in battery-powered airplanes and maybe even sailing battery-powered cruise ships. Maybe the consumable nature of batteries prevents faster advances, but our existing batteries can be pretty inefficient, wasteful and often toxic.

I don’t expect the high seas to be filled with battery-powered ships anytime soon, but some very interesting developments are being made on a much smaller scale – the nanoscale in fact. This CNN article leads with the idea that you might be able to recharge your cell phone as long as you were walking. Nanoscale materials are very small; one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter and the scientists featured in the article are using structures that are 100 nanometers and smaller. These structures can be engineered with many interesting properties and performance characteristics such as efficient energy transfer.

The act of me typing this article right now is a release of energy stored inside my body but it is effectively wasted. Sound and heat are generated but the keyboard can’t harness the kinetic energy. In the future it may be able to. Zhong Lin “Z.L.” Wang and his team at Georgia Tech are utilizing the piezoelectric effect (“…the ability of certain materials to generate an electric potential when a stress is applied to them. For instance, if you compress a crystal, it temporarily changes shape, causing the ions inside the crystal to polarize and produce a voltage drop.” The electron flow then produces an energy output.) present in environmentally friendly zinc oxide nanowires to make solar cells and nanogenerators that can utilize energy from any mechanical movement. In the walking example, the body produces 67 watts of mechanical energy that can be converted into 11 watts of electrical energy. The smaller amounts of energy produced by blood flow, breathing, etc. could be used to power medical implants such as glucose meters for diabetics.

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August 25, 2009 @ 11:22 am
Otherwordly Solar Towers Promise Continuous Clean Energy

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As many people know, inherent inefficiency has been holding back solar from reaching its full potential for years. In recent years, major strides have been made to improve traditional solar and this is reflected by the hundreds of start-ups and public companies engaged in building solar panels or supporting other areas of the supply chain. However, at least one of those companies, EnviroMission, has taken a completely novel approach. Their solar tower design (the world’s first of this nature) promises massive amounts of reliable, efficient renewable power (50%+ capacity factor vs. only around 20% for traditional solar).

Based in Australia, the company’s first development was originally slated for Buronga in the southwest corner of New South Wales, but now they are concentrating on bringing the technology to market in America at two 5,500 acre sites in Arizona where land use applications were filed last month. According to the current designs and based on the results of a small solar chimney test plant that was built and operated in the 1980s in Spain, each of EnviroMission’s plants will generate 200MW (about 1/5 as much as a large coal plant). This amount of electricity can power about 200,000 households while annually preventing 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

But how does it work? Simple physics and brilliant engineering collaborate on the ingenious design. We all know that hot rises and as you can see in the graphic below (from EnviroMission’s website), the plant’s design maximizes this effect. It uses solar collectors (spread over several kilometers/a couple miles of diameter) to further heat the ambient air pulled into the system and the resulting continuous air flow is forced into and up the chimney past 32 pressure staged turbines that can each generate 6.25MW of electricity. The particular turbines for this application are most similar to the “Kaplan Turbines” used in hydro-electric power plants.

solar-tower-illustration

To hit you with more physics, the greater the velocity of the tower, the higher the column of air is and the stronger the updraft. So, the highest capacity plants of nature require the highest possible towers. EnviroMission’s original design utilized a tower over 3,000 feet tall (1000 meters). Also, since radiant heat from the sun is the energy source, the technology can easily produce energy on cloudy days, much like greenhouses are always hotter than the outdoor ambient air despite the weather conditions. Continue reading for timing and development plans and a fascinating video clip. Read More…

August 19, 2009 @ 1:37 pm
Dueling 6 Star Green Buildings in Melbourne

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The Council House 2 building (CH2) in Melbourne was anointed the greenest building in Australia when it became the first to receive 6 stars (in 2005) from Green Building Council Australia’s (GBCA) Green Star rating system. By my count, there are now 18 6 Star buildings in Australia. Impressively, 11% of Australia’s central business district commercial office buildings are Green Star certified which I would imagine compares very favorably to other countries – I’ll have to research it to find out for sure.

The scale has three rating levels; 4 Star, 5 Star and 6 Star, and points are obtained from 9 categories: Management, Indoor Environment Quality, Energy, Transport, Water, Materials, Land Use & Ecology, Emissions and Innovation. According to GBCA the 6 Star rating signifies “world leadership in environmental sustainability.” In meeting this standard, CH2 and Melbourne’s latest 6 Star entrant, the Melbourne Convention Centre (MCC) have some very impressive features.

CH2
ch2A 10-story city government office building opened in 2006, CH2 features photovoltaic cells, chilled ceilings, a co-generation plant and blackwater sewage recycling systems amongst other things. The whole project cost a shade over A$51 million, A$11.3 million of which went to sustainability features that are expected to have a 6 year payback from energy and resource cost savings.

  • Solar cells provide 60% of the building’s hot water supply
  • The chilled ceilings are part of an innovative cooling system that is much more efficient and more comfortable for building occupants than traditional airflow systems
  • The gas-fired co-gen plant will provide 40% of building’s electricity with much lower relative carbon emissions

Maybe the two most interesting features from my perspective are the “shower towers” that mimic ant-holes for cooling purposes while sprinkling water on passersby and the beautiful recycled timber shades pictured above that provide passive cooling to the sunny westside of the building while still letting in light if need be. Significantly more details about all of CH2’s innovations can be found here. Click “read more” and continue reading about the Melbourne Convention Centre.

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August 15, 2009 @ 1:35 pm
Geothermal Heat Pumps Save Energy and Suction Taxes

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Geothermal heat pumps (aka GeoExchange, earth-coupled, ground-source or water-source heat pumps) are a remarkable, yet simple green technology that has been around for about 60 years. Anyone that’s visited a cave to see stalactites/stalagmites or do some rugged camping will remember the constant temperature that is cooler in summer and warmer in winter than at the surface. The ground is an efficient insulator, and depending on latitude, underground temperatures range from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C) year-round despite seasonal extremes at the surface. Heat pumps are able to take advantage of these temperature gradients for heating and cooling purposes, but how?

There is a detailed explanation here, I will summarize. Traditional heat pumps transfer heat utilizing a refrigerant that is acted on by an exchange medium (air in a standard A/C unit or liquid in a geothermal heat pump). The refrigerant absorbs heat and is compressed into a high temperature, high pressure liquid for heating purposes or allowed to expand into a low temperature, low pressure gas for cooling purposes. In winter, heat pumps pull heat from the air to be circulated in the home and during summer they take heat from inside and push it into the air. Significant amounts of electricity are used in this process because temperature extremes need to be overcome and air is an inefficient heat transfer medium. On the other hand, the liquid water or antifreeze solution of geothermal heat pumps is 30% more efficient than air. In summer, heat is pulled from the building and deposited in the much cooler earth very efficiently. In winter, the constant, relatively warm temperature of the earth provides much more than heat than the air so much less compression (and therefore less energy consumption) is needed vs. a conventional system. 

ghp-illustration

In fact, according to U.S. Department of Energy studies, geothermal provides system efficiencies of 300-600% on the coldest winter nights while air-source systems can reach only 175-250%. Integrated systems can handle all of your heating, cooling and hot water needs year-round. The result is significant energy savings over your current costs of electricity, heating oil, etc. While installation of geothermal systems costs more upfront, these energy savings cover the additional costs over 5-10 years. 50,000 units are now installed annually in the U.S. alone. The benefits outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are listed below: Read More…

August 13, 2009 @ 9:07 am
Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF)

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With visitors from 41 countries/territories I realized I better add another internationally-focused post to my ongoing series. I have covered 8 countries (in addition to the USA) so far and for number 9 I’ll discuss this innovative development organization doing work in India. S3IDF was registereddelucia1 in Massachusetts in 2001 and staffed in India in 2002. Having traveled throughout India in 2005 (Delhi, Bombay and Agra), I can tell you that it is simultaneously one of the craziest, most chaotic, yet amazing places in the world. The people are very friendly and very smart and while the country has its challenges related to poverty, infrastructure and resource management, strong economic growth has created many opportunities for the ambitious, industrious population. Yet, large segments of the population have been left behind.

To provide the poorer, rural and urban dwellers with a lift, S3IDF has stepped in to provide an environmentally-friendly economic push. According to the website, the organization, considers itself “a ‘social merchant bank’ that helps small enterprises to provide modern energy and other infrastructural services to poor people in developing countries in ways that are financially sustainable and environmentally responsible. It covers the provision of services in electricity, water, sanitation, transport and telecommunications that are necessary for poverty alleviation.” In 2007, Russell de Lucia (CEO & Chairman) and the organization won the Clean Energy Award in the “NGOs and Initiatives” category for their provision of efficient lighting services to poor households, communities and small/medium enterprises (SMEs) in southern India. Over 30 projects were implemented and powered with clean energy. About 6,000 beneficiaries now have improved health and safety as well as increased income earning opportunities through extended work hours. The electricity is provided by photovoltaics that charge batteries, biogas or other renewable generation methods. Keep reading for information about there other projects.

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August 7, 2009 @ 10:37 am
Malaysia Focus Part 2: GTower – First Internationally Recognized Green Building

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gtower

Now leasing, GTower on Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) is the first Malaysian building to receive an international green certification. Singapore’s Building & Construction Authority has given it provisional status as a Green Mark Gold rated building. The building is a 30-story twin tower owned by Goldis Berhad (Goldis) and was built at an estimated cost of RM470 million ($134 million). It is a mixed-use development containing a 180-room 5-star hotel, 100,000 ft2 of general office space, another ~400,000 ft2 spread amongst 112 CEO duplex suites and numerous meeting rooms. Additionally, there is a private club, lobby bar/café, rooftop bar, other food & beverage outlets and a wellness floor with gym, yoga, spa and pool facilities.

The building is designed to maximize energy and water efficiency. According to Colin Ng, Head of Corporate Investment at Goldis, energy efficient building systems will cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60% (Source: The Green Channel). The IT infrastructure alone is expected to produce 30% energy savings. They installed 3Com’s Intelligent Building Solutions (3CiBS) products which combine state of the art hardware and software that optimize network capacity while reducing power consumption and carbon emissions.

After construction began, Goldis brought on a consultant to implement green features. This Architecture Malaysia article provides more details. Five areas were addressed with a multitude of technologies and installations: Read More…

July 30, 2009 @ 5:04 pm
More Green Buildings Appearing in China; Grand Hyatt Dalian

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China’s recent ascension to industrialized juggernaut hasn’t been without major environmental sacrifices. I’m sure many have heard the statistic that a new coal power plant needs to go on-line weekly just to keep up with the country’s energy demands. Another alarming fact; 90% of urban surface water is too polluted to be of any use. Luckily, the 2008 Olympics put Beijing on the world stage and instigated change. The government’s 5-year plans require significant energy efficiency improvements from new construction and there are hundreds of green building projects recently completed, underway or being planned. This slideshow from Treehugger features several, including the Zero Energy Media Wall from my recent lighting post as well as one of the Olympics building complexes (the athlete’s village). dalian

Now, I’ll focus on the Grand Hyatt development in Dalian. Dalian doesn’t get as much press as Shanghai, Beijing or some other Chinese cities but it’s a very fast growing, highly industrialized port city in the Northeast (16.5% GDP growth in 2008). It is also a government designated “open-city” which enables significant foreign investment. Interestingly, I first learned of the city because it is home to one of German anatomist Gunther von Hagens’ plastination centers where many of the “Bodies…The Exhibition” subjects are prepared (very intriguing exhibit if you haven’t seen it yet).

Anyhow, Goettsch Partners was hired by Hong Kong-based developer China Resources Land Limited to design the over 1 million ft2 Grand Hyatt tower. In addition to 377 hotel rooms, there will be 84 serviced apartments, three restaurants, ballrooms and meeting facilities, a spa and fitness center, and parking for 225 cars. The tower will be situated on the Yellow Sea next to Xinghai Square. Energy efficient and structural features were designed with geographical and meteorological considerations in mind. Glass curtain walls feature high-performance glazing with integrated horizontal sunshades along all southern exposures. The unique triangular shape of the building minimizes the structural impact of high winds on the Dalian coastline and these same winds are accelerated by the tower’s rounded corners and are harnessed to propel wind rotors. The vertical-axis turbines envisioned are very quiet, bird-safe and should supply electricity to the building year-round with limited maintenance. The scheduled completion date is 2011. See this World Architecture News article for more information.

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July 29, 2009 @ 9:49 am
First 100% Renewable Energy Powered Billboard in NYC

If you read my post on the history of lighting (Part 1 and Part 2) then you know about the energy efficiency benefits of LEDs as a light source. Ricoh, the office solutions company, created the first fully renewable energy powered billboard in New York’s Times Square to commemorate their 4th consecutive year being listed as one of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. The sign is currently being powered by solar panels and will eventually be flanked by small wind turbines, making the sign a mini generator. The LED flood lights use 50% less electricity than standard high intensity discharge lamps, while lasting over 25 times as long (50,000 hours vs. 1000-2000 hours)! By using renewable energy, the sign emits 18 fewer tons of CO2 annually compared to traditional billboards. For more information on the project and Ricoh’s other initiatives, click here. Also, special thanks go to my friend and reader Billy, for alerting me to the billboard.

ricoh-eco
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July 26, 2009 @ 6:16 pm
From BC to T.A.E. to LEDs, Part 2

After the magic lantern in Part 1, history’s lighting developers refocused their collective effort on lamps. In fact, I could go on and on about incremental lamp technologies but that would be boring so here’s a quick timeline with major developments:

  • Argand Lamp – First major new lamp technology in millennia, this 1780’s oil lamp used a hollow circular wick surrounded by a glass chimney (better combustion, brighter light, less smoke)
  • Betty Lamp – 1790, a metal variation of Greek/Roman pottery lamps with a wick support that directed the oil drip back into the reservoir, thus it was a “better lamp” and the Betty Lamp colloquialism was born
  • Electric Arc Light – 1800’s, electric candles whereby two parallel sticks of carbon were separated by an insulator whose slowly melting arch self fed the two carbons
  • Gas Lighting – 1800’s, lamps fueled by gas lines with valves to control the lighting circuits
  • Kerosene Lamp – 1853, this new fuel source was introduced in Germany and you have a cabin the woods somewhere you might even own a kerosene lamp or two today

After hundreds of theaters and who knows what else were burned down by gas lighting and other inferior technologies, Edison finally came along. He demonstrated his carbonized cotton filament based incandescent light bulb to the public on New Year’s Eve 1879. His bulbs were revolutionary, offering 16 candlepower, rated at 100 watts (only about 2 lumens per watt) and lasted for 100 hours. The stock price of Edison Electric Company quickly climbed, peaking at $3,500 per share! The simple lightbulb spawned a new industry; electric utilities, and there were 300 of these power stations by 1883.

During the 19th and 20th Century lots of incremental design improvements and updates to existing technologies with a particular emphasis on reduced wattage and energy savings came along. These designs utilized all manner of gases, filaments, etc. and are too numerous to mention – a helpful list is available from GE here. I promised to take us up to LEDs and the current marketplace so keep reading and enjoy the LED video!

cfl_bulb
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July 25, 2009 @ 1:01 pm
From BC to T.A.E. to LEDs, Part 1

pharos_lighthouseHuh? I’m referring to Before Christ/Before Common Era, Thomas Alva Edison and Light Emitting Diodes. Edison of course was the primary inventor and commercializer of incandescent light bulbs and LEDs are the new high tech in lighting. I thought it would be interesting to survey the history of lighting, compare the different products and highlight some interesting statistics along the way. Be sure to click the article title or “read more” link below to read the entire post and check back tomorrow for Part 2.

Artificial lighting has been with us since around 400,000 BC when fire was harnessed by Homo erectus (probably by accident at first, like many great discoveries…). Torches quickly became the first portable lamps, but holding a burning stick isn’t particularly safe or efficient. By 13,000 BC, prehistoric cave dwellers had begun fabricating lamps by carving rocks, shells and horns to insert fiber wicks fueled by animal and vegetable fats. Apparently, couch potato genes started expressing themselves after agriculture took the world by storm in 8,000 BC, because by 5,000 BC people said forget carving lamps – let’s use entire animals! So, oily birds and fish were threaded with wicks – the smell must have been wonderful and I’m not sure if they ate the resulting BBQ. Wealthy people of the Mediterranean and elsewhere quickly switched to less pungent fuels such as olive oil and sesame oil.

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July 22, 2009 @ 9:13 am
Mindboggling Statistics, Unprecedented Opportunity

Yesterday I came across a couple articles written by Global Strategic Management Institute (GSMI) that detailed and elaborated on the results of a comprehensive study of American building practices and energy usage done by PennEnvironment. The study was obviously done to promote Pennsylvania state government policy proposals on green building codes, etc. but the math is accurate and the numbers are staggering. As I touched on in my Norway post a couple days ago and I will continue to emphasize, buildings are intensive energy consumers – accounting for almost half of America’s energy usage and 40% of its carbon dioxide emissions.

Now, for the mindboggling stats courtesy of GSMI’s July 11th post – these assume energy usage status quo related to U.S. buildings:

  •  From 2010-2030, energy use would grow by 6.61 quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs), enough to power 86 million homes for 2 years (note: quadrillion is 15 zeros)
  • Emissions of carbon dioxide would increase by 323.95 million metric tons; essentially equivalent to building 80 coal-fired power plants in our collective backyard.

us_clouds 
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July 21, 2009 @ 9:14 am
U.S.’s Largest Residential Retrofit Program on Backburner

On Thursday yet another program fell victim to recent chaos in the New York Legislature. The measure sought to leverage $5 billion from private investments over five years to pay for energy-efficient renovations by creating a new homeowner financing program. Funds would go towards upgrading windows, insulation and building systems to reduce energy costs by 20%+. Based on projected homeowner savings, investors were to be guaranteed returns of about 7%. Essentially, investors would receive a portion of energy savings until the retrofit costs are repaid over a 10-year period. Stable, predictable returns like this are ideal for city and state pension funds and other institutional investors.

According to this Crain’s article, “The Residential Retrofit Investment Fund would be jumpstarted with $122 million from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort by ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Worker pay would be pegged at the prevailing wage in the different areas where work will be performed, and contractors would receive preferences for local hiring.”

ny_legislature

Despite bi-partisan Assembly support, The Independent Power Producers of New York are staunchly opposed and want that initial $122 million to be earmarked for self-serving energy projects such as a clean coal plant in Jamestown, NY. Republicans in the Senate were caught up by the fact that the Working Families Party (WFP) is such a major supporter of the plan. A spokesman for the WFP says the initiative remains a priority and will be pushed aggressively when the Senate returns. We shall see; I will keep you posted. Similar municipal programs have gotten off the ground in Babylon, NY and Berkeley, CA but this is the first statewide effort and could serve as a model for the rest of America. 

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July 19, 2009 @ 9:26 pm
Norway’s Boosts Green Building and Energy Research

Earlier this year, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy announced 8 new government funded research centres that will conduct concentrated research to solve specific energy challenges. As many of you probably know, Norway is a significant oil producer, so much like the UAE’s efforts to build green, these centres are a highly relevant green policy decision. Norway already generates 99% of its electricity from renewable hydropower, constructed the first industrial-scale carbon sequestration project (StatoilHydro’s Sleipner project) and pioneered simple green roofs hundreds of years ago – many homes in the countryside have a torvtak, literally “turf roof.”

sleipner

The 8 centres have attracted numerous academic and industrial partners and each will receive NOK 10-20 million ($1.6-3.1 million) per year for five years with an optional 3 year extension. The programs are centered on offshore wind energy, solar energy, energy efficiency, bioenergy, energy planning and design, and carbon capture and storage:

  • BIGCCS Centre – International CCS Research Centre
  • Centre for Environmental Design of Renewable Energy
  • Bioenergy Innovation Centre
  • Norwegian Centre for Offshore Wind Energy
  • Norwegian Research Centre for Offshore Wind Technology
  • The Norwegian Research Centre for Solar Cell Technology
  • Subsurface CO2 storage – Critical Elements and Superior Strategy
  • The Research Centre on Zero Emission Buildings

 The Research Council of Norway provides details here. I will focus on the Zero Emission Buildings centre (ZEB).

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July 14, 2009 @ 12:06 am
GreenBldgBlog.com is 130% Wind Powered

You may have noticed the Host Gator advertising banners on the site. I’m proud to display them because they’ve focused on reducing their environmental impact and I’m one of their many satisfied customers. The environmental efforts began with green renovations and more efficient servers and now all of their servers are 130% wind powered! Yes, you read that correctly. Host Gator has actually purchased renewable energy wind credits representing 130% of the electricity used to both power and cool every single one of their servers. The wind credits are generated in their home state of Texas and according to their website, the environmental benefit is equivalent to 1) Removing 444 cars from the road for a year, or 2) Powering 321 homes with clean energy for a year, or 3) Saving 5,654 barrels of oil, or 4) Protecting 551 acres of forest for a year.

hostgator_cartoon

Data centers are an incredibly energy intensive business and a significant contributor to the world’s carbon emissions.
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July 10, 2009 @ 4:18 pm
Solar Did You Knows

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Did you know that virtually any building can be a (albeit small) carbon-free solar power plant using currently available technology? By connecting to the grid, an individual home or commercial/industrial building can distribute excess energy from its solar panels. There is an enormous amount of unused solar energy hitting the Earth – maybe you’ve heard this statistic: each day, enough solar energy reaches Earth to meet U.S. energy needs for one year. The untapped potential of this energy is huge, but solar panels aren’t very efficient and were always very expensive to install until recently…
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July 8, 2009 @ 9:54 am
Wind Power Isn’t Just for Midwest…

Especially since Boone Pickens just dramatically scaled back and is revising his Texas wind farm plans. It’s true that the Midwestern states form the best corridor in the U.S. but this isn’t stopping New Yorkers like me from buying wind power. I was planning to do a carbon footprint post in the future and Con-Ed must have heard me thinking about it because they recently sent me my “wind power certificate.”

windcertificate_small

You see, through a new subsidiary called Con-Ed Solutions, they began offering customers the chance to buy wind generated electricity. They warned that the supply component of my bill would increase by ~10% but I saw that as a fair price to pay and was thus instigated to take efficiency measures. For little cost or no cost I have done the following:
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