this past summer, the U.S. wind industry overtook germany as the foremost producer of wind energy, cruising “past the 20,000 MW installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken two decades (the 10,000-MW mark was reached in 2006). that’s “enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes and eliminating the burning of
30.4 million short tons of coal (enough to fill two 1,000-mile-long coal trains),
91 million barrels of oil per year, or
560 Bcf of natural gas (about 9% of the natural gas used for electricity generation).”
other cool highlights from the year end wrap-up:
at least 50 new wind-related manufacturing facilities creating over 9,000 new jobs in the first three quarters of ‘08 (not including the jobs created by wind farm construction)
creation of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, a collaboration of 20 wind & environmental organizations on, “research, mapping, mitigation and public education on best practices in balancing habitat protection and wind farm siting.”
"When residents of Harvard, Massachusetts were hit with an ice storm that left many without power for a full four days, one innovative neighbor successfully used his Prius as a generator:
John Sweeney…ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.
“When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius…These inverters are available for about $100 many places online,” he wrote.
“Dell is integrating air-filled cushion technology and renewable materials including molded pulp cushions and 100 percent recycled High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) thermal-formed cushions. Milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles are typical materials that comprise the HDPE recycled waste stream. Over the next year, Dell estimates that it will integrate nearly two million recycled milk jugs into cushions protecting its Studio Hybrid system. An estimated 33 million recycled milk jugs will be integrated into desktop and laptop packaging in 2009.”—
there’s a lot of good stuff in this new initiative from dell. shareholders will be glad to hear of the $8M+ savings & hippieflavers are sure to applaud the elimination of 20MM pounds of packaging material over the next four years. while this is being framed as an environmental measure that helps stocks prices, it’s most importantly an issue of increased efficiency. “green living” isn’t just about using sustainable materials, but using all materials more wisely. boxes made of 90% post-consumer waste are great unless you’re using too much material to begin with. step back from your systems and consider how you can holistically maximize your resources. make less into more.
"Ethanol’s numbers were put to the test against "solar-photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, nuclear, and coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology." The energy types were rated on their ability to power "new-technology vehicles" (plug-ins, flex-fuel ICEs and fuel cell vehicles). Ethanol lost. Big."
i hope this seals the deal that ethanol is not the solution everyone hopedthought decided it would be. the report, as far as i can tell, doesn’t even include the harvest impact (the financial & environmental cost of acquiring energy sources including soil quality) which, i imagine, would only knock ethanol down a couple more notches.
"The company recently completed construction of three sites in California, including the 493.7 kilowatt (kW) solar power system at the Sam’s Club in La Habra, California, as well as systems at Wal-Mart Super Centers in Palm Springs (605.9 kW) and Beaumont (675.2 kW)."
let’s hope this works & catches on quickly. with these two behemoths on board the solar bandwagon, technologies & accessibility are sure to get better with the increased investment that comes from profitable projects like these.
“The greenest brick is the one that’s already in the wall.”—
Steve Mouzon, the architect who founded Original Green, which draws attention to “the inherent greenness of older, traditional American homes.”
also from grist: “Before the thermostat age, he likes to say, which lets us command internal temperature and climate with a press of a button, ‘the things we built had to be green, otherwise you simply couldn’t live there.’ In hot climates, homes had to naturally cool themselves. In cold climates, they had to trap the heat. And this happened by design, with architectural elements that these days may seem like decoration, but once had form that came from function.”
"Instruction would be based on intensive farming on small plots, a heavy dependence on physical labour, ecological sustainability and meeting local market demands, including the food needs of ethnic and immigrant communities."
i like the way they phrase their goal: “to create a successful high-performance building [by applying] the integrated design approach and the integrated team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases.”
what is it - in our buildings, in our lives, in our minds - that sits idly by when it could be producing good for us? leisure is a good thing, but it’s not the only thing.
doublebikematch is world bicycle relief's “online social appeal” for bikes to be sent to africa: “Right now our goal is to raise $13,400 before 12pm CST on Friday, Dec 19th. That's 100 bicycles (200 when you add the DOUBLEbikeMATCH). Any amount helps – $10 can make a difference and $134 buys a new bike.”
for you & me, bikes are nice. we like them. some of us prefer them for transportation because of the environmental & health benefits of riding versus driving or taking the bus.
yet for so many, bikes are a need. they are the only way to work, school, food or water. biking is not a hobby, it’s a necessity. it is, a in a word, access. they don’t have the infrastructure of developing nations so even when hospitals, jobs & schools are created, the success of such institutions (and thereby additional projects) is limited to those in walking distance. the impact is tangible: During a commuting day of 10 miles traveled, a bicycle saves 3 hours (Walking = 2.5 miles per hour; Bicycling = 10 miles per hour), three hours to restore their livelihood!
“KONE the Finish elevator company, will release a range of elevator offerings during 2009 which will reduce energy consumption by 30%, compared to its current volume models, with a target of 50% energy consumption cutback in its elevator offering by the year 2010.
'Buildings account for approximately 40% of the world’s energy needs and elevators can account for up to 10% of a building’s energy consumption,' says Jussi Oijala, SVP, KONE Technology. 'Based on this, we see great potential to further reduce the impact of buildings on the environment by offering innovative and energy-efficient solutions to the market.'”
now this is what i’m talking about. the greatest, most effectual innovations in the way we use energy will come from those who pay attention to where we already use energy & helping us use it better without us even really noticing. now, that’s not to say i think we should expect that we not change our behavior; indeed, that’s foundational to living better. i mean that innovation will enable us to do what we’re already doing and more without affecting the quality of the accomplishment. furthermore, more efficient elevators, roads, and buildings (in a word, infrastructure) benefit those who do not actively choose to live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle as well as those who do. effectively, there is no difference in the way one uses such technology.
"A just-completed geothermal project in Kenya could be a sign of things to come in Africa. The plan added 35 megawatts to an existing facility to total 48 MW of steamy, low-carb power.
Called Olkaria III, the site is expected to bring not only a badly needed source of reliable electricity, but to reduce imported oil by 120,000 tons and reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 tons per year.
We’ll be hearing alot more about African geothermal, especially in the highly active Rift Valley region. In fact, a new project called the African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) has identified 4,000 megawatts of natural geothermal capacity there.”