Memo To: New pedestrians, In re: Your skills

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Hi there! And welcome aboard. I haven’t seen you much on the train/bus/bike lane before – you must be one of the new people. I hope that’s not offensive. I mean, there are a lot of you, um, “refugees,” if you will, and it’s quite a change for all of us. While there are bound to be some hiccups along the way, I want you to know that I, for one, will endeavor to make your transition to your new life as a pedestrian as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
The first thing to remember about your new life is that you are likely very attached to your old way of living – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – but, because of this attachment, you are also likely to experience some culture shock; this is a natural part of the adaptation process. For starters, pedestrians are quite different culturally from car people. Like, you can actually bump into us on the street! Quite a bit different than running into or over us, I’m sure.
You will also come to notice that we have certain social norms, habits and customs that are quite distinct from your native land of freeways, traffic jams, road rage and parking lots. We probably seem like a curious tribe, what with our backpacks, books, bike helmets, ankle straps, monthly transit passes and sidewalk maneuvering techniques.
But with a little effort and a lot of patience, you too can fully assimilate into pedestrian culture. In time, I think you’ll find it’s a superior lifestyle. So in an effort to help speed and smooth the transition for you, I’ve drafted the following pointers and tips, designed to help you gain some basic skills; for those of you who are former pedestrians who “fell off the wagon,” so to speak, consider this a refresher course in “Pedestrian Skills 101.”

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Algae Based Biofuels in Plain English: Why it Matters, How it Works.

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 17 Comments

algae%20based%20biofuel.jpgAlgae based biofuels. You’ve probably heard the term tossed around, and have maybe even said it in a sentence or two yourself. But have you ever really understood what it means, what the implications are, and on a basic level, how it works and if it has even the slightest chance to be a viable large scale player in supplying for our fuel needs? For many of you, I’m imagining the answer is no. Even I, a green business consultant, was quite fuzzy about it all. Until today.
Today I came across a video put out by the folks at Valcent, which makes absolutely clear, and absolutely exciting, the what, how, and how much of algae based biofuels, and in particular how their method, via High Density Vertical Bioreactors, they will do it much better. Say what?
In plain English, with their Vertigro system, they change the plane of producing algael biofuels from horizontal to vertical, keeping the liquid medium it’s growing in constantly moving. And this matters why?

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Spain to Put 1 million Electric Cars on the Road

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Pluginelecvehicle.jpg Spain intends aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2014 as part of the Zapatero government’s plan to save energy and boost energy efficiency, minister of industry, business and tourism Miguel Sebastian said Tuesday.
The Plan, which Spain’s Council of Ministers are expected to approve August 1, will be enacted this year and carry on through 2011. Spain will save between 5.8 and 6.4 million tons of oil over the three-year period as a result, according to industry ministry estimates.
“The electric vehicle is the future and the engine of an industrial revolution,” Sebastian told members of the national industry commission. Higher oil prices and growing use and intensity of fossil fuel cost Spain some 17 billion euros last year, according to the minister.
Consisting of 31 measures and at an estimated cost of around 245 million euros, legislators are also looking to provide incentives that will increase use of public transportation, promote substitution of incandescent light bulbs with lower consumption bulbs, and provide mobile phone coverage in subways. Also among the measures being considered are reducing fuel exports 11% and reducing speed limits in cities, according to a Reuters news report.

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The Big Business of Compost

| Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 3 Comments

compost.jpgIf the word “compost” conjures up images of decaying food, bugs and the smell of rotting vegetables, keep reading. I used to be the same way, but I have come to embrace my green bin because not only is compost cool, it’s big business.

A couple weeks ago I got the chance to visit the Jepson Prairie Organics facility in Vacaville, CA. Jepson is a wholly owned subsidiary of Norcal Waste Systems, the company that contracts with the city of San Francisco and many other Bay Area communities to manage waste, recycling and compost pick-up programs. The facility processes all the food and green waste collected in San Francisco’s green bins. On the day I visited the processing facility, it was over 100 degrees and the air smelled faintly of peat.

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10 Words or Less: Why Do You Think We Should End Oil Dependence?

Shannon Arvizu | Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 3 Comments

pbpresized.jpg Project Better Place is offering you a chance to make your own minifesto that explains why we should kick the oil habit. The enterprising electric vehicle company has already invited several influential people in the field to post their own version, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check them out and add yours here.
The minifesto is part of a “creative challenge to inspire people to dig down and discover their core motivation for changing the direction of energy use on this planet,” writes Guryan Tighe of Better Place.
Green technology needs as many catch phrases and tag-lines as any other type of product, if not more. Such invitations to the public to contribute their own minifesto help to collectively build frames around green technology and generate greater resonance in the popular imagination.
So…what are your 10 words?

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Greenwashing – An Advertising Professional’s Insights

| Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 6 Comments

greess.jpgA recent commentary in Adweek on “Green Advertising” warns that if new regulations are implemented by the Federal Trade Commission on “Environmental Advertising” it would negatively affect innovation in the advertising industry.
The author of the story, Ronald Urbach, writes that the FTC’sdecision to update its standard rules on ‘green’ marketing one year ahead of schedule are welcomed by professionals in the advertising industry so long as they don’t cut back on the sector’s competitiveness.
Urbach, who is the co-chair of the advertising, marketing and promotions department of law firm Davis & Gilbert, went on to mention ‘product packaging’ claims specifically. He uggested that new regulation in that sector (which happens to be among the easiest for companies to address) would hurt companies’ ability to communicate with consumers about packaging innovation, and might even stifle innovation itself.

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ClimatePULSE: Green Beijing?

| Monday July 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgThis week we’ll take a quick look at one of the summer’s biggest events – the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Now less than two weeks away, the Olympics will bring approximately 10,500 athletes from over 200 nations to Beijing to compete in over 300 events (which take place at over 30 different venues). While the focus of the Games is, and should be, the athletic competition, it is interesting to consider the effects of such an event in terms of its impact on climate change.
The issue of climate change as it relates to the Olympic Games has been largely overshadowed by Beijing’s poor air quality. Understandably, Olympic organizers have had their hands full in an attempt to decrease local pollution and improve local air quality over the short-term, leaving little resources for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is unfortunate given the scale of GHG emissions associated with the Olympics.

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Closing the Efficiency Loop: Agilewaves and Crestron Partnership Integrates Resource Feedback and Control

| Monday July 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Agilewaves partners with Crestron Control Systems

Triple Pundit first looked at the Agilewaves Resource Monitor last month in my post Knowledge is Power – Conservation Through Information.

 To recap, the Resource Monitor works on the concept that efficiency is, as Agilewaves VP Collin Breakstone puts it, a resource. One that is available to us in abundance, right Crestron automation partners with Agilewaves Resource Monitorhere, right now, not merely a “sign of personal virtue” providing no basis for energy policy (we see the results of Mr. Cheney’s abysmal ideas on energy policy all around us). In our current energy economy, efficiency is as much a resource as a gallon of water, a barrel of oil, or a kilowatt of electricity.

The key to accessing the full potential of this resource is information. Research consistently shows that information feedback alone accounts for a nominal 10 to 15% reduction in energy consumption through behavioral change.

Resource monitor tracks all resource consumptionThe Resource Monitor provides that essential feedback link by providing real time information of residential or commercial building resource consumption. Users are able to set threshold limits in terms of dollars, gallons, kilowatts, or even carbon. The user monitors consumption using a touchscreen interface, secure web page, or phone. Once any thresholds are reached the Resource Monitor notifies the user via an email or text message alert. Based on the real time information and threshold alerts from the Resource Monitor users are able to identify modifications necessary to reduce resource consumption.

But how to take that 10 or 15% (or more) from feedback alone and drive it further? How to make even better use of that resource efficiency?

Agilewaves and Crestron are today announcing the answer to that question.

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Capturing All That Wasted Heat

| Sunday July 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

cooling%20tower.jpg Tremendous amounts of energy are being wasted everyday in the US. Thermal power electric utilities typically vent 2/3 of potential energy capture into the atmosphere via cooling towers while gasoline engines have an efficiency of only 15%. What’s worse is that the regulatory rate structures that govern how much utilities can charge discourages utilities from attempting to capture and use it, as does, of all things, the Clean Air Act.
So points out Thomas Blakeslee, founder of the (http://www.clrlight.org) Clearlight Foundation, in an excellent article published this past week in Renewable Energy World, who advocates adopting a holistic, “industrial ecology” approach to energy resource management, and aggressively minded programs to encourage use of combined heat & power (CHP), co-generation, waste heat generation systems and solar thermal collectors in industry, buildings and homes to remedy the situation.

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Chinese Take 50% Of All Cars Off Beijing Roads To Improve Air Quality For Olympics

| Saturday July 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments

chinese.jpgScientists will study this for years to come; China has ordered 50% of all cars off the roads off Beijing to make sure air quality is okay for the upcoming Olympics. The measures might be perhaps the world’s most measurable traffic pollution reduction effort ever. What’s more, they’ve launched an airquality forecast tool online.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint? Why Not Eat Less!

| Saturday July 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments

foodproc.jpgBelieve it or not but academic research published in the highly reputable Springer journal Human Ecology suggests Americans eat less to combat global warming.
The researchers have a straightforward but compelling case; around 19 percent of all energy used in the US is taken up for the production/supply of food. Around half of this energy expenditure could be eliminated and one way to achieve this is by cutting down on food. This is not too big a sacrifice to make, the researchers say; Americans on average consume 3,747 colories a day; that’s a staggering 1,200-1,500 calories over recommended levels anyway.
The scientists’ outrageous suggestion that their fellow Americans eat less is the first and foremost recommendation of the peer reviewed study, which was published in last week in the journal.
Another recommendation they made is that a return to traditional farming also is of vital importance if US consumers are serious about changing their consumption patterns in order to reduce their carbon footprint. David Pimentel, who headed up the Cornell research team, said that this is necessary because the energy which is used in the food industry is 50% derived from fossil energy fuel use.

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The Gato del Sol III: 2400 Miles on Determination and Sunlight

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The University of Kentucky goes 2400 miles in the Gato del Sol III - powered only by the sunA team of engineering students from the University of Kentucky, assisted by engineers and technicians from UPS, recently completed the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build, and race solar-powered cars cross-country.

The race started on July 13th, in Plano, Texas and ran 2400 miles to the finish line on July 22nd in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The team’s entry, Gato del Sol III, didn’t finish in “first” place, but with a determined team along with key support and consultation from UPS, finishing is an achievement in itself. This is the kind of race where winning is simply running the course.

In fact, the team had yet to even start a race, let alone finish (hence the “III”), as each team is required to put its entry through a grueling qualifying and technical inspection before being allowed to enter the race. 

Just making the 2400 miles “without anything breaking” is the real victory, according to Matt Hatfield, the team’s project director.

And make it they did.

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Climate Change & the Supply Chain: From Theory to Practice

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

amartyasen-shipra1.jpg Retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are going to have to collaborate and work more closely with their supply chain partners if their climate change mitigation strategies are to be translated into effective action and if they are to realize the competitive benefits inherent in them, according to new research results from McKinsey & Co.
While responses from the more than 2,000 global executives McKinsey surveyed identify the environment, climate change included, as a top concern, these high-level concerns aren’t flowing down and having much of an impact when it comes to purchasing and supply chain management decisions and actions: While nearly half said that climate change is a somewhat or very important issue to consider, fewer than one-quarter reported that their companies always or frequently take climate change into consideration.
“They may be missing an opportunity. Our analysis suggests that for consumer goods makers, high-tech players, and other manufacturers, between 40 and 60 percent of a company’s carbon footprint resides upstream in its supply chain – from raw materials, transport, and packaging to the energy consumed in manufacturing processes. For retailers, the figure can be 80 percent,” McKinsey’s Chris Brickman and Drew Ungerman wrote in the July 2008 issue ofThe McKinsey Quarterly.

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Beyond Chipotle – Organic Food Offerings Continue to Grow and Thrive

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Organic fast food appears to be a viable business option and is growing fast as demonstrated by the chain, Organic To Go’s expansion from the West to the East, this month announcing its 5th caf√© and a catering business to be active in Washington D.C. It is a public company with more than 34 cafes in Seattle, Los Angeles (including at the airport – frequent flyers take note!), San Diego and Washington. While basically a penny stock (OTGO.OB) their second-quarter revenue increased about 56% to $6million over same quarter last year, and in a soft economy none the less.
Those growth numbers are supported by a recent poll from the National Restaurant Association which found that 68% of adults 18-24 say they are willing to pay more for food that was grown or raised in an organic or environmentally friendly way, compared with 48% of adults 65 and older.

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UK Government Officially Okays Wave Power Technology

| Friday July 25th, 2008 | 1 Comment

6b11.jpgWave power generation is relatively new in the world. In Europe, a Scottish company operates a few large scale projects off the Portuguese coast since 2007 and the UK government has just okayed a different type of wave power project to be moored on its coastal waters. There’s little activity in the US as yet on the wave power scene. So what are the advantages and what are considered challenges?
The new British project provides a few answers to these questions. Wave power is clean energy with great potential. In the US alone, it’s estimated that wave energy resources amount to 2,100 terawatt hours annually, which is half the US’ electricity consumption.

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