3bl logo

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

SSV West: Head in the Eco-Cloud

David Lewbin headshotWords by David Lewbin
Leadership & Transparency

Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) recently held their second Annual Water Summit titled SSV WEST (Water Energy Smart Technology) at Stanford University.  The event was jam packed with interesting panels and various Bay Area and California water luminaries from academia, business, and the public sector. Best of all, the EcoCloud project was unveiled.

Highlights included:
Buzz Thompson, Co-Director of the Wood Institute for the Environment at Stanford, challenging all in attendance, ”to envision the fundamental changes, the revolution required to sustainably meet the needs of future generations as well as to sustain the life support systems of the planet”.  Take a minute, close your eyes.  Envision.  Can you see it? Craig Criddle, a professor at Stanford working on wastewater, explaining the $ and water savings available if one designs systems to utilize wastewater.  At the current value of around $1.20 per 1,000 gallons, there is a market for wastewater due to the much higher premium charged for water treated to drinking quality. If appropriate suppliers and users can be connected, a market exists.  Wastewater contains within it two to three times the energy compared to the energy required to clean it.  It may soon make more sense to view wastewater as a potential energy resource rather than a disposal problem.

John Hogan, a NASA Ames environmental scientist whose work involves the development of sustainable systems for extended extraterrestrial human habitation, capturing my imagination as he drew the obvious parallels of considering the closed loop life support systems of an astronaut in their space suit or space craft and Earth’s own life support systems.  NASA, he explained, does extensive monitoring and measuring of the Earth’s life support systems, so we know a great deal about our impacts on this dynamic system.  The challenge that faces us as a species is how we choose to use that information, and how it in turn informs our choices and behavior going forward.

A real game changer was the inaugural public roll out of SSV’s “Eco Cloud”.   Best described on the SSV website, the Eco Cloud is, “a virtual space where business leaders and facility managers can work with technology innovators, researchers, and government agencies to make enterprises more sustainable and profitable.  Drawing on the latest social networking tools, participants can collaborate, learn, plan, and make valuable connections.

Just as “cloud computing” uses the distributed power of the Internet for more efficient data processing, EcoCloud™ harnesses the power of web-based social networking tools.  EcoCloud™ is intended to be a virtual industrial ecosystem that enables local leaders to work together to implement and share sustainable business practices, putting the principles of industrial ecology to work in Silicon Valley and beyond.

EcoCloud™ was launched in December 2010, and is still under development.   It will ultimately address all the major intersections of industry and environment, including water, materials, and energy. Currently, EcoCloud™ members are paying particular attention to the principles of integrated water management,  focusing on how to mitigate the impact of the urban water cycle on the environment.

I encourage you to check out SSV’s EcoCloud and imagine the potential of the coming networked innovation ecosystem storm brewing in them “thar” clouds!

David Lewbin headshotDavid Lewbin