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Using the same technology that allows hybrid cars to recycle braking energy, Max Donelan invented a gadget that produces power from the human knee – capable of producing 2.5 watts of electricity per leg. The unit is not too practical at the moment, but the technology and potential is sound. Currently the knee power generator weighs in at 3.5 lbs and it looks very awkward to have strapped on. Although 2.5 watts doesn’t seem like too much it is enough to power 5 mobile phones free of charge or resource.
The thought of generating my own power through my own caloric fuel output is intriguing. With the rising costs of energy, creative ways of generating power cheaply is exactly what we need. It would appear that the days of inexpensive power are over so a little energy scavenging coupled with energy efficiency is as good a plan as any. Hardship drives innovation and the growing global energy crisis is spawning brilliant ideas into usable products and systems.
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Build it well, and smart, and they will come.
That’s a big part of the lesson from Seabrook, Washington, where a young developer named Casey Roloff has brought his New Urbanist approach to the state’s northern coastline. For decades, coastal development has failed in this part of the state, with nothing more than seedy resorts and strip malls to show for it. Meantime, the area’s logging and fishing industries have been on the steep decline for a while, with the unemployment rate currently at 7 percent.
Roloff’s plan was simple: construct quality buildings with good design, including porches and gabled roofs; make the streets walkable and bikable within a compact downtown area; create trails and easy ocean access; throw in a boutique hotel and organic community garden. Just the kind of place most people want to live in, and vacation in. While not perfect by any stretch – all development has costs, in Seabrook’s case the threat of gentrification and environmental impacts on water and sewer systems among them – the shift to an amenity-based economy, with construction jobs, tourism and a commitment to conservation, is a wave Roloff’s intent to ride all the way to bank. And at 36, he’s got plenty of time for surfing.
Agriculture is a prominent topic in the current policy and market discussions regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Crop practices and livestock management are scrutinized for energy intensity and GHG emissions and mitigation potential. Biofuels policies are criticized as a threat to food supplies. Food, the practices providing it, and the countryside from which it comes, continue to gain attention in the ongoing debate concerning economic and environmental sustainability. In this debate, a fundamental question is, “who drives decisions on the farm?” An obvious answer is, “Farmers do”.Click to continue reading »
A study released last week by Point Carbon, a European consultancy and analyst service in global power and carbon markets, estimates that the world carbon market could be worth $3.1 trillion dollars by 2020.
The estimate assumes that the United States adopts a cap and trade mechanism similar to the plan introduced in the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act and that the EU has in place a 25% emissions reduction target.
Given the scenario laid out in Point Carbon’s analysis, 67% of this market is held within the United States. The European Union, with the only cap-and-trade system already in place, will control the second largest share of the future carbon market.
This projection represents a trading volume of 38 billion tones of carbon equivalent (Gt CO2e) per year by 2020.
As well as the U.S and EU, the study estimates there are also cap-and-trade carbon markets operating in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Turkey.Click to continue reading »
The European environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has announced plans to achieve lower energy consumption by legislating what actually makes a green product. The initiative will be entitled the Sustainability Package and the new rules can be used to organize green procurement.Click to continue reading »
As I’ve remarked on numerous times in the past (links here), Johnson Controls remains one of the great unsung leaders in efficiency – having been making buildings more efficient since long before it became trendy.
Now, they’ve taken their expertise to their own operations with a complete gutting and renovation of their corporate headquarters with LEED platinum as the goal. (story here, requires sub). If succesful, the project would be the first multi-building LEED platinum facility in the world, and as far as I know, the first Fortune 500 headquarters to achieve any LEED rating (please correct me if I’m wrong on that).
The buildings will be powered by a combination of solar, geothermal and wind (no word on what percentage) and will feature everything from rainwater retention to personal energy settings in every office. However, it’s unlikely that its suburban location will result in many changes in employee commute patterns. Still, it’s a project worth watching and, likely, a model for all large corporations to learn from.
In a previous post (link), I covered how BIM (Building Information Modeling) was changing the Architectural, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry, and also provided insights on the market drivers that green technology vendors in this space should be aware of, to leverage BIM for growth. In this column I will cover some insights on growth strategies for the federal buildings sector, as well as general growth strategy insights from key thought leaders in the market.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not just the adoption of new technology, but also incorporates new collaborative workflow. There is more emphasis on collaborative design and planning in the beginning phases of a project, so that costs and risks in later stages like construction and operations (where most of the costs are incurred) may be managed and contained. Green tech vendors should be involved in these early planning stages, so that a realistic assessment of cost savings and improved environmental performance are identified. Also, they can add value to the optimization process (conducting ‚Äòwhat if’ scenarios), which may lead to additional savings and benefits that may not have been readily apparent.
You can get a reduction on your busfare in Scotland if you hand over your cooking oil to a recycling plant making biofuels. Stagecoach, Scotland’s largest transport company, booked so much success with this green scheme in the past six months, it’s now embarking on a drive to become completely carbon neutral by the end of this year.Click to continue reading »
In February the House passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act, or H.R. 5351, which would repeal the $18 billion in tax breaks for multinational oil companies. The bill would create tax breaks for producers of renewable energy, fuel, and electricity. The bill needs Senate approval.
During a speech while the House debated the bill, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said, “We’re wrapped around the axle of oil because of these tax subsidies. It’s time to change course. We’re ready to launch a rocket of clean-energy innovation in this country, but opponents of these clean-energy investments are putting a hold on the countdown. We’re about two seconds away from having a burst of economic growth in this county. If they allow these tax breaks to expire, it’ll strangle the birth of new industries.”
At this week’s GreenWest Expo (www.greenwestexpo.com), city representatives and industry players were on hand to discuss how each can mutually benefit each other. In this short video segment, four specific strategies are proposed to increase clean technology and green building development in urban centers.
For the last two days Australian business representatives, government and the non-profit sector have convened at the 9th annual National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development. The theme for this year’s forum was ‚ÄòRe-Calibrating the Risk from Climate Change: an urgent business task.’ Throughout the each day, invitees have participated in a range of workshops, covering topics such as the implementation of the Australian Emissions Trading Scheme to exploring ‚Äòsociocracy’ as a new method of governance.
One of the most interesting topics discussed at the conference related to social responsibility. At the opening presentation, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced funding for a key project that will assist businesses to operate in line with standards of corporate social resposibility. According to The Australian newspaper, the project is essentially
“aimed at helping business develop more of a social conscience.”Click to continue reading »
England’s Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock unveiled the UK government’s plans for the next two years for tackling climate change, stressing a local approach. She spoke at a conference about preparing for climate change organized by the Guardian newspaper. The UK government is one to watch because it has made impressive progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and is on track to achieve almost double its Kyoto target.Click to continue reading »
While there is a movement to avoid printing printing emails, and attachments can be read in PDF, resumes, photos and legal documents are often items that still require printing.
HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) continues to push the envelope with an announcement yesterday to reinforce their position as “a leader in environmental sustainability for the imaging and printing market.”
To underline HP’s longstanding commitment to eco-efficiency and to address the growing demand of consumers, SMBs and the enterprise for more changes, HP is announcing three initiatives to “green” the world, and most notably, they are introducing a deskjet printer, the HPD2545 made of up to 85% of recycled plastic gleaned from their “closed loop recycling program.”
On Wednesday the Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors voted 15–1 to charge companies 4.4 cents per ton of carbon emitted. Set to go into effect on July 1st for the nine Bay Area counties, the carbon tax will be the first of it’s kind in the country.
Proponents admit that such a modest fee probably won’t create huge inflows of cash for local governments or force emitters to make significant reduction in emissions, but it “sends the right message”.Click to continue reading »
The terms ‚Äòcleantech’ or ‚Äògreen technologies’ have been applied to a wide array of processes, technologies, and services. Within this overall market space, there exist a number of specific target market segments such as transportation, energy development, and manufacturing, as examples. The buildings & facilities segment is a large target market segment for green technologies, given the size and projected growth around the world and opportunity to leverage a disruptive new technology & collaborative process called “Building Information Modeling”, or BIM.
The building & facility industry is undergoing radical change today, as owners are demanding more project visibility, improved risk management (scheduling & costs); and increased use of technologies that will allow for less waste, more efficient energy consumption, and ultimately lower costs over the lifecycle of the facility (from design and construction to operations).
What is Building Information Modeling (“BIM”)