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 25, 2009 @ 11:38 am
Serious Materials for Serious Energy Savings

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According to San Jose Mercury News, Serious Materials – a cleantech startup in Sunnyvale, CA, was funded to the tune of another $60 million this week, bringing its total raised amount to a whopping $120 million. Venture capitalists (VCs) have increasingly focused on cleantech investments, raising billions over the last few years to invest in the sector. Serious Materials is unique in that it has been around since 2002 and has five manufacturing plants producing tangible products and employs about 250-300 people. In previous years much of the VC funding was plowed into Web 2.0 platforms, tech/software startups and biotech R&D – intangible assets and human capital – rather than macro-driven companies with immediate profit potential.

SM_LOGOSerious Materials is developing and selling energy-saving windows, drywall and other products such as lighter-weight, environmentally friendly noise reduction coatings. The company says their products have “the potential to save billions of pounds of CO2 annually,” while offering fast payback periods for their customers. As a result, they don’t need to rely on tax credits or other policies to achieve success.

SeriousWindows

  • Up to 50% reduction in heating and cooling costs, enables users to recover additional cost within two years in many climates
  • Qualifies for $1,500 tax credit discussed in this post
  • Thin film technology in SeriousGlass provides transparency and infrared reflection to simultaneously block summer heat, retain winter warmth, eliminate UV rays and maximize natural light
  • Available in a wide variety of finishes for virtually any design consideration

EcoRock Drywall

  • Uses 80% less energy to produce than traditional gypsum drywall
  • Made of 80% recycled materials (including from steel and cement plants)
  • Fully reutilizable and safely disposable at end of life (ex: can be pH additive for soil or raw material for new EcoRock or other building materials)
  • The most mold-resistant (by 50%) and lowest emitting drywall (60% less dust)    

Other Products

  • QuietRock – commercial and residential soundproof drywall that is acoustically equivalent to eight sheets of standard drywall
  • ThermaRock – super insulating wall board that is 380-800% more insulating than standard gypsum
  • QuietHome Doors – soundproof doors; 2-1/4” model is THX-Certified
  • Quiet Windows – highest STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of any windows on the market and they are Energy Star rated as well
  • Coatings – ultra-low VOC coating compounds for computers, cars and other transportation applications

More information can be found on the company’s website.

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.

piezoeffect Read More…

September 17, 2009 @ 11:10 am
€100K Home with Zero Bills, CO2

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Casa 100k-1

In researching a topic for this Italy-focused post, I came across a Jetson Green article about Casa 100k, the flexible Italian housing solution to achieve affordability and sustainability in a stylish package. Conceived by Mario Cucinella Architects in Bologna, the less is more aesthetic results in a thoroughly modern integration of green building methods.

The prefabricated structure minimizes costs and waste and the individual homes have small footprints and are clustered together for efficiency and low environmental impact. With only 100m² (just over 1000ft2) to heat and cool the prototypical house could operate off-grid, drawing power from solar panels and small vertical axis wind turbines. Using passive solar thermal glass curtain walls and a geothermal heat pump HVAC system for example, makes the homes so efficient that they may even produce enough excess energy to sell back to the grid. Additionally, roof gardens provide insulation, greenery and environmental benefits and contribute to the home’s stormwater management system.

Since nobody wants a home identical to their neighbor’s, many of the internal and external building components can be modified. Interior walls can slide, be removed or bent to create unique floor plans. Meanwhile, the exteriors can be fitted with a variety of interchangeable components that match the overall design while creating variety through balconies, staircases, decks, etc.

Alas, Casa 100k is only a concept for now but the architects have exhibited in Italy and the U.S. – it is only a matter of time before this project and others like it get built.

Casa 100k-2

Photo Credits: Mario Cucinella Architects – Casa 100k

August 30, 2009 @ 12:43 pm
Conserving Water with the Flick of a Switch

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This week I received a clever, water saving product from one of my readers for review and testing purposes. The UZLOW valve is a simple attachment that can be added to any standard pipe/shower head to conserve water and save energy. It allows you to limit water flow when you don’t need it, thus reducing water usage and water heating needs.

uzlow1

If you think about it, much of the water dispensed during a shower is wasted because we stay out of the water when lathering, shampooing and shaving, etc. That is the principle behind UZLOW; it allows you to reduce the water flow without impacting the water temperature. When pushed back, the switch/handle is in low flow mode and when flipped forward the water flow returns to normal. Installing the valve was a breeze – my shower was fully operational in about 5 minutes. The valve arrives in 3 parts and you need just a wrench and some pipe tape to complete the installation. Easy to follow instructions (including pictures) walk you through the process step-by-step. Essentially you unscrew your showerhead, wrap the pipe threads in tape, screw on the valve body, insert the flow regulator, attach the switch, put some tape on the valve threads and screw on your showerhead.

uzlow-parts

I’ve taken a couple showers with the product now and it works as well as advertised. In my quick test to verify the 70% water flow reduction, I found that in regular flow position my shower head dispensed approximately 2 gallons of water per minute. Using the low flow setting, this volume was reduced to about 2/3 of a gallon per minute. This equates to a 67% flow reduction which is right in line with the claim (my test involved a simple bucket, no fancy scientific instruments). I would estimate that half your time in the shower could be in low flow mode so during a ten minute shower you could save almost 7 gallons of water per shower. Multiply that by the number of showers taken in your household and the water and $$$ savings add up quickly. Costing only $19.95 per valve or $15.95 per valve for 2 or more, the UZLOW pays for itself.

uzlow-installedPros

  • Easy, quick installation – 3 parts, a wrench, some pipe tape and 5 minutes
  • Significant water flow reduction = significant water and energy savings
  • Easy operation

Cons

  • Plastic switch/handle is somewhat flimsy so you have to be careful not to torque it during installation
  • Children and/or short adults could have difficulty reaching the switch/handle


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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 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…

August 6, 2009 @ 11:50 am
Malaysia Focus Part 1: New Green Building Index

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Malaysia is an engaging juxtaposition of the old and new. The Kuala Lumpur skyline is dotted with old mosques and mud brick buildings alongside a high tech monorail and newer skyscrapers like the Petronas Towers (briefly the tallest building in the world). Anyone who has walked around the city though, could tell you that Malaysia hasn’t been at the forefront of environmental policy. I say this because the streets are filled with motorcycles and scooters whose two-stroke engines belch noxious, polluting smoke (two-stroke engines are cheap but use fuel very inefficiently and require oil – the source of the black smoke – to be mixed in with the gasoline to lubricate the crankshaft).

A 2008 study however, showed the architectural/construction industry was more than ready to adopt green building practices on their own but they lacked information, knowledge and experience. To address these issues the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) and the Association for Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) collaborated to develop Malaysia’s Green Building Index (GBI) leveraging Singapore’s Green Mark as an example. Much like US LEED or other certification systems, GBI uses rating criteria to award point-scores that translate into Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified ratings. The scores are developed during the design stage and buildings can be certified one year after occupied and every 3 years they must be reassessed. The criteria are Energy Efficiency (EE), Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), Sustainable Site Planning & Management (SSPM), Material & Resources (MR), Water Efficiency (WE) and Innovation (I).

 
Points Allocation
Criteria
Residential
Non-Residential
EE
23
35
IEQ
11
21
SSPM
39
18
MR
9
11
WE
12
10
I
6
7
Total
100
102

The GBI was just introduced in January and Malaysian leadership has been very supportive. In May, Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said that future government buildings would incorporate the green building guidelines. It was announced in this article that at the end of July the government would be establishing a green technology council for high-level coordination among ministries, agencies and the private sector and key stakeholders for effective implementation of green technology policies. Keep reading about the government’s plans

The Pusat Tenaga Malaysia building houses the government’s Green Energy Office and is the first GBI rated building in Malaysia.

gbi-office

 

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July 31, 2009 @ 4:54 pm
Swedes Have Turning Torso and Human Heaters

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torso-zoom A few years back I was in Copenhagen over Thanksgiving weekend and took a day trip to Malmӧ, Sweden. I took the train through the Drogden Tunnel and across the Öresund Bridge which is the longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe (nearly 5 mi or 8 km). I set out primarily to see the Turning Torso, designed by Santiago Calatrava, one of my favorite architects. I also perused the Nordic contemporary art at Malmӧ Konstmuseum, saw the Malmöhus Castle and strolled around the beautiful Lilla Torg and other city squares and streets.

At 190 meters high (54 stories), the Turning Torso is the tallest building in Sweden, a landmark of sculptural architecture and a green building anchor of the eco-friendly Western Harbor redevelopment. This section of the city had become a dilapidated, contaminated and underutilized industrial park. City planners then commissioned Calatrava to design a statement building based on his Twisting Torso sculpture and the result is a marvel of engineering. A circular concrete shaft runs through the center of the building and houses the mechanical infrastructure. Attached to the shaft are segments of five floor plates that successively rotate to create the corkscrew effect. Meanwhile, the whole structure is supported by its artistic external steel frame. The bottom ten floors contain offices, the middle forty-two floors contain 147 apartments and the top two floors contain meeting spaces. My favorite feature is that because the top floor is a 90 degree turn from the bottom floor, the windows on the eastern side of the building actually tilt outward! You wouldn’t want to live there if you had a fear of heights…

torsoThe amazing design incorporates a number of green features. The building receives 100% of its power from locally renewable energy. The thick insulating walls and windows of the building envelope ensure efficient use of this energy. Environmentally friendly materials were used in construction and other installations enable residents to manage their environmental impact. For example, they can monitor and adjust their own heat and water consumption and use built in waste disposals to grind organic waste for composting or other uses. Additionally, the self contained community of the Western Harbor neighborhood and it’s proximity to central Malmö lessens the need for cars; a short walk away are the beach, green spaces, stores, services, restaurants, waterfront promenade and more. Continue reading for the enigmatic “human heater” portion of the post… Read More…

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 18, 2009 @ 4:38 pm
An Algae Powered Future?

corn_vs_algae

Should pool owners everywhere forego chlorine to promote algal growth and sell the by-product? Probably not, but this is an interesting concept I’m going to tell you about. First, you should know I’ve been very skeptical of “bio-fuels” because corn-based ethanol promotion has been such a terrible policy. Let me know count the ways:

  1. Extremely inefficient source of energy – 1 acre of corn yields just 250 gallons of ethanol and it takes 1.5 gallons of ethanol to equal the energy output from 1 gallon of gasoline
  2. Resource requirements – irrigated corn requires 785 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol and production uses 1-2 more gallons of water per gallon of fuel then petroleum refining. Additionally, it takes 140 gallons of fossil fuel to plant, grow and harvest just an acre of corn
  3. Unintended impact on food price inflation – historically, corn has been one of the cheapest foods to grow; as a result it is the primary animal feed crop and a reduction in supply increases prices throughout the food chain 

The first two negative effects result from the resource intensive nature of bio-fuel production. When producing a fossil fuel substitute is so inefficient that it strains valuable resources and creates such a large carbon footprint, how are we benefiting? A 2008 paper in Science Express analyzed greenhouse gas emissions resulting from land-use changes brought about by increased corn ethanol production and found emissions were 100% higher relative to gasoline. Most proponents of ethanol only talk about the fact that tailpipe emissions are reduced by 20% when using ethanol.

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July 17, 2009 @ 9:03 am
UAE’s Supergreen City

Given the popularity of my Supergreen Building post, I thought I would direct you to my featured article on Masdar City. Begin with the excerpt below, or click here. Also, stay tuned for a new featured article later this month.

masdar_sunlight_small

Even a region that has seemingly boundless supplies of oil, the Middle East, has put shovels to the sand for the world’s largest green construction project to date. The Central Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long recognized that the oil would eventually run out and they began diversifying their economy into real estate, tourism and other sectors over two decades ago. Located in the UAE’s Abu Dhabi emirate, Masdar City is the largest and most ambitious commitment yet to green the economy and the country. But, what is it? Continue reading…

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July 16, 2009 @ 10:28 am
Texcote Wins Prestigious Honor

I work with a company here in NYC as an independent sales representative for Texcote so I’m pleased to relay this news from last week. This leading manufacturer of specialty coatings for residential and commercial buildings, was named the “Top Green Coating Project” by the Journal of Architectural Coatings. From the press release, “The designation came as a result of applying Texcote’s energy efficient COOLWALL® coating system to the Lake Mary, FL, office building of Burke, Hogue, & Mills Associates Inc., an architectural firm that specializes in sustainable design. COOLWALL Textured Primer and COOLWALL SUPER-COTE were applied to the exterior of the facility and reduced the building’s energy demand by up to 21 percent. This helped Burke, Hogue, & Mills achieve LEED Silver status from the U.S. Green Building Council.”

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July 6, 2009 @ 10:32 am
Rhinebeck’s Supergreen Building
omega_small

Courtesy: Omega Institute

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) was conceived by the Omega Institute in 2005 as a living machine that could replace an aging septic system in Rhinebeck, NY. Opening this month, it was designed and built from scratch at a cost of $3.2 million to meet the highest sustainable architecture standards. OCSL will receive LEED Platinum certification and is expected to become the first U.S. building to receive the Living Building designation, meaning it has no negative environmental effects.

Since Omega’s primary mission is to offer holistic educational programs focused on wellness and personal growth, the building is not only a natural wastewater treatment system (the Eco Machine™) but also contains a laboratory and indoor and outdoor classrooms for eco-lectures. The Eco Machine™ is designed to treat over 5 million gallons of wastewater annually. The treatment process involves 5 steps:
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June 21, 2009 @ 2:35 pm
Introduction

I’m pleased to welcome you all to GreenBldgBlog.com. The idea for this blog has been gestating for a few months now and I’m happy to be giving birth to it today on this Summer Solstice ’09. According to ancient religions, “Midsummer is the time when the sun reaches the peak of its power, the earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful harvest. The Mother Goddess is viewed as heavily pregnant, and the God is at the apex of his manhood and is honored in his guise as the supreme sun.

greenery_small

Copyright © 2009 Nathan Kline.

Notably, we are currently witnessing the emergence of energy and environmental tipping points that will change the landscape of industry well into the foreseeable future. A good reference is the Resource Management Revolution of CSIS’s Seven Revolutions project. A few statistics from their commentary: 
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