When it comes to energy consumption, buildings are responsible for around 40 percent of our total energy requirements. The world’s energy needs continues to increase, fueled in part by ongoing development in countries like China, India and Africa. A combination of better policies, a stronger renewable portfolio and an earnest effort to improve efficiency in the built environment, will be key to combating our unsustainable energy demand. Fortunately, building technologies continue to advance, offering owners, facility managers, architects, engineers, system integrators and electrical contractors the opportunity to incorporate innovative, energy saving, wireless solutions into building retrofits, as well as new construction projects. One growing consortium of member companies, who have come together to form the EnOcean Alliance, are taking wireless technology to the next level by utilizing energy harvesting.
In January of this year, I joined EnOcean Alliance as their Business Development Director for North America. I became involved with the EnOcean Alliance while working as the Executive Director of GreenLink and am now supporting their efforts where I believe their technology is needed most. A recent article about future wireless communication networks provides a strong overview of the technology, discussing how EnOcean-enabled solutions harness the energy that is created from slight changes in motion, pressure, light, temperature and vibration.
There is one sure thing about people in prison…they have a lot of time on their hands. Unfortunately, in many people’s eyes, the prison system is broken and doesn’t do a good enough job of rehabilitating criminals. There are, however, innovative prison programs where inmates can contribute positively to society. Jole Rider, a UK based education organization is working to make positive changes by directly affecting the lives of children and their mission intricately involves the help of inmates. Jole Rider’s partner, HM Prison Services, is responsible for the refurbishment of bikes by inmates in prisons around the UK. Once the bikes are completed, Jole Rider packs the bikes into sea containers, a minimum of 333 in each one, and ships them to West Africa. So far, Jole Rider has sent over 6,500 bikes to Gambia where their partner organization pre-selects the beneficiary schools and also oversees the distribution of the bikes. The program, aptly named Bikes 4 Africa, enables children to get to school, which is critical to their future.
Global energy use is on the rise, fueled by things like economic expansion, development and population growth. Along with rising energy use comes an inevitable increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuels used to power growth and meet demand. Although the use of alternative forms of energy is on the rise, fossil fuels still supply roughly 90 percent of the world’s commercial energy. Energy consumption is already high in the developed world and the most rapid growth is occurring in developing countries, especially in places like China and India. Now a new region is getting recognized for its surprising increase in energy demand.
The Middle East has experienced a greater boom in its energy demand than any other region, according to GE reports. Energy use grew by around 80 percent in China and by comparison the countries of Oman, Qatar, Iran and Yemen each grew by over 90 percent. To clarify, none of the Middle Eastern countries consume nearly as much energy as either China or the U.S., but the Middle East’s rapid change is a key indicator in the world’s push to maximize efficiency and push for greater sustainability.
Have you ever wondered where all of the food that is leftover from an event or restaurant goes once it isn’t used? Unfortunately, most of it ends up in the trash, headed for a landfill. In Australia, one in ten people currently rely on help from welfare organizations, which means that every year, 2 million people in Australia depend on hunger relief. Over half of these people are children. Thankfully, there is an organization working to alleviate this problem by supporting communities to relieve food poverty. FareShare began in 2001 as the result of a shared vision between a broad group of individuals. Steven Kolt, who started “Melbourne City Harvest”, merged with a group called “One Umbrella”, which included six individuals who had also dedicated themselves to rescuing food. With funding from Jewish Aid Australia a full time manager was employed and the group set out to achieve their milestones, including lobbying for the first Australian Good Samaritan Law, purchasing a refrigerated van for food transport, and moving into purpose built kitchen.
Many homeowners are interested in utilizing renewable energy sources, including solar panels, but the costs are often prohibitive. Even with tax incentives, solar panels and wind turbines cannot always provide an acceptable return on investment. Some companies, however, have developed innovative business models aimed at solving this issue. SunRun, a United States based provider of residential solar electricity, is one such company. SunRun executes solar power purchase agreements, whereby a third party developer owns, operates and maintains the photovoltaic (PV) system and a host customer agrees to place the system on their roof or elsewhere on their property. That host customer purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period of time. This arrangement allows the customer to receive stable and lower cost electricity, while the services provider acquires valuable financial benefits, like tax credits.
Sustainability is often defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The focus of this article is on those “future generations” and how they might feel about nature when they grow up. Will the children who inherit the Earth, and the potential issues that might still remain unresolved, feel the innate desire to preserve it? Or is our connection to nature being lost?
This interesting and thought provoking concept was introduced to me by Kim Marshall McLean, a PhD classmate of mine at George Mason University and a NOAA Biologist. Kim is researching how exposure to the outdoors and the lessons learned in nature shape our understanding and even our intelligence. The sociological and environmental information gathered from this kind of research is far reaching and has implications for business as well. It is the hope that future leaders, especially those in business, will retain the close kinship with nature. But if our childrens’ ability to connect with the natural world is replaced by greater exposure to technology and less interactive learning environments and recreation, will future generations be able to adequately preserve the Earth that is left to them?
Consumers shopping in their local grocery stores are finding an ever expanding selection of “green” cleaning products, which is welcome by many looking for greener alternatives. But the choices are not all better and there could in fact be too much information out there, making it confusing for the consumer to know what to believe and which products to trust. This confusion has sparked demand for more transparency about ingredients and business practices. One company that is working hard to gain the trust of the eco-conscious consumer is Planet People, whose mission is to provide homeowners and professionals with high performance cleaning solutions that don’t harm the planet or the environment. Their goal is to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that make sense for people and our planet.
They got their start by responding to a cleaning challenge for mold and mildew by developing a patented solution, called Concrobium Mold Control, that eliminates and prevents mold without the use of bleach or harmful chemicals. Since that time, they have successfully launched two new product lines, Gloves Off and iQ. Their products serve both household and commercial markets, with many janitorial professionals and property managers using Planet People products, finding that building occupants are requesting the use of safe products that don’t negatively impact indoor air quality.
There are a million great reasons to travel. Seeing the world renews the spirit, refreshes the soul and teaches us about the way other people live. It provides us with perspective and is ultimately the best way for us to learn about who we are and how we are all connected.
As we fill our “bucket lists” with things we want to see before we die, we will increasingly experience first hand how our world is changing. From the disappearing glaciers at Glacier National Park to the rising waters around the Marshall Islands, the climate’s impact is becoming clear. These events, and our own relationship to their occurrence, beg the question: is tourism bad or good? Tourism is a double edged sword. Like technology, it is one factor identified as contributing to the environmental problem, but it could also be part of the solution. Let’s uncover the good and the bad about and the relationship tourism has with a more sustainable future.
Back in February of this year, we discussed California’s adoption of the first statewide green building codes, referred to as “CALGreen.” The news was refreshing and energizing, considering that some states still don’t even have a standard building code on the books.
Building codes are effectively a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects. As energy costs rise and as the environmental movement continues to develop momentum, more states and cities are adopting policies that encourage or require construction to be energy efficient.
The Institute for Market Transformation, a D.C.-based non-profit that promotes green building, issued a press release about a vote that meant historic gains for new homes and commercial buildings with respect to energy efficiency.
There was a common theme clearly woven throughout the discussions that took place in Washington DC at the recent Green Intelligence Forum…the future will most definitely include natural gas. Although solar, wind and biomass were all touched upon, natural gas seemed to steal the show. The low price of natural gas makes investments in cleaner, yet more expensive forms of energy like solar, wind and nuclear even more precarious.
The future of natural gas is more than just rhetoric, big oil companies are laying their bets on natural gas and they are playing to win. According to an article by Chris Mayer in the Daily Reckoning, Royal Dutch Shell said that by 2012 it expects more than half of its output will be natural gas, not oil. Royal Dutch Shell is not the only company making this kind of prediction.
Many homeowners around the world are interested in exploring opportunities for small scale wind, but a gap exists between education and action. There are many issues that have to be addressed before an individual decides to implement wind on their property, including questions about wind potential, federal and state incentives and environmental issues associated with wind.
The bottom line is that wind energy has to provide a tolerable return on investment in order for it to be utilized on a large scale, effectively replacing non-renewable sources. Wind Products, a company based in New York City is focused on improving the economics for small wind consumers. Their work will help to sustain and increase the growth of the distributed generation wind market, where wind energy currently accounts for the fastest growing segment.
Founded in 2007, Wind Products was formed to enable wind energy harvesting in cities and the company was awarded a $1 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant in 2008 to develop a turbine to meet that objective. The company has also developed Wind Analytics, a web based tool to help energy consumers understand wind resources on their property, making them better equipped to make good decisions about using wind turbines for on-site generation.
The amount of information available about eating organic can be overwhelming. What fruits and vegetables should be consumed organic only? Which foods are okay non-organic? The fact is that eating organic, particularly organic and locally sourced combined, is not only healthier, but tastes so much better. The same goes for chocolate. The use of cacao dates back to the Aztecs, who believed it to be a source of wisdom and energy.
For many reasons, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. Chocolate boosts the brain chemicals seratonin and endorphin, which both produce a euphoric feeling. The lipid anandamide, termed the “bliss receptor”, is also found in chocolate and activates the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which leads to feelings of well being. The phenols in chocolate are also known to help the immune system, reduce the risk of cancer and promote heart health. Raw chocolate has been shown to have 20 times the antioxidant power of red wine and it’s high in iron, copper and zinc. Considering all of these potential health benefits, isn’t it time that you considered trying organic chocolate? Do yourself a favor and try the handmade, organic deliciousness that is Benchic Chocolates.
There is no doubt that the culture of the working environment in America has changed considerably over the last few decades and especially in the last few years. Today, with a lingering recession, it is not unusual to find organizations where morale is low and job security is fleeting.
A disengaged workforce creates serious problems for any company. Strategies to avert this and make people feel included and aligned with the corporate mission is a top-of-the-mind topic in management today. Many young professionals are eager to join companies whose mission goes beyond profitability, where they feel they can make a real difference. Research has shown that employees working in companies that support or serve an environmental or social purpose are in fact more productive. Who doesn’t want a happier and more productive workforce?
ThinkEco has announced the start of their Eco Empowered Initiative featuring their new product, the modlet. They plan to enroll up to 100 organizations to participate in an innovative study to uncover hidden sources of electricity waste in offices. Through this initiative, organizations will be able to use the modlet device (short for “modern outlet”) and learn why and how to reduce power wasted in their offices.
Many don’t realize how much energy is consumed by appliances: in the residential sector it’s about 40% and is 26% of commercial energy use. With more, and smarter, appliances being utilized every day, this is the fastest growing energy load in both sectors and is expected to triple by 2030. Many of the appliances we use don’t necessarily need to be turned on at all times, yet even when not in use, they continue to draw power.
At the Northwest corner of Park Avenue and 53rd street in New York City, you will find a totally different yet refreshing kind of food cart. This unique “Organic Cart NYC” not only serves certified-organic food, but it is powered using free energy from the sun. This new twist on street food is a pilot project being undertaken by Alberto Gonzalez, owner of GustOrganics, the only certified organic restaurant and bar in NYC. The cart offers wholesome organic items like hummus, salads, spinach omelette, empanadas, goulash and serves super-purified spring water in bio-compostable cups.
These carts are truly green, with locally sourced food, environmentally friendly packaging and meals that are cooked using renewable resources. The best part is, that it is affordable. A 100% organic meal can be had for under $10, including tax. The cart is also equipped with an orange juice machine, so freshly squeezed juice is made to order. But don’t expect to find anything on this cart that comes in a plastic bottle. Alberto is adamant about his stance against plastic bottles, because they all-too-often end up in landfills.