Microgrids, They’re Kind of a Big Deal

Thursday, July 17, 2014 14:17

 

For locals participating in the Pecan Street Demonstration in Austin’s suburban town of Mueller, TX, residential carbon footprint data is about as available as square footage. Their home utility consumption is monitored by the Pecan Street Research Institute at The University of Texas-Austin as part of the institute’s efforts to understand how individuals can lower their collective carbon impact and use energy more efficiently. This new technology, known as a smart grid system, has proven to be much more efficient than the traditional electrical grid used throughout the US. However, smart grids and the smart meters used to track energy usage of individual homes have come under fire for their ‘invasiveness’ as people have vocalized concerns about the lack of privacy that could accompany this advanced monitoring system. Fortunately for the anti-smart meter crowd, there are other ways to make a community more energy efficient.

Microgrid Read the rest of this entry »

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    The Dirty Little Secret of The Electronic Era

    Friday, July 11, 2014 12:30

    Laptops, phones, mp3 players and other electronic gadgets have become staple commodities in today’s technological era.  Our need for new and improved electronic equipment that becomes obsolete in two or three years has spawned the fastest growing waste stream: e-waste.

     

    rsz_1dlsee_image_by_rayi_christian_w

     

    The Problem:

    In 2012 the world purchased 238.5 million televisions, 444.4 million computers and tablets and a staggering 1.75 billion cellphones. Back in 2008, Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council, estimated that in the USA alone we throw out 48 million computers and 100  every year. In fact, according to Sustainable Electronics Recycling International, the average US cellphone has a 22 month lifecycle. All these discarded electronics add up to 5-7million tons of ewaste every year from the USA alone. The volume of this electronic waste is expected to increase by 33% by 2020.

    What happens to all this obsolete technology? Read the rest of this entry »

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      LED Takes the Lead in Power Tools

      Thursday, July 10, 2014 10:02
      Posted in category Green Buildings

      1-Drill

      For decades we’ve been holding the key to efficient lighting technology in the palm of our hands. Universally acknowledged as the most sustainable choice in the crowded light bulb aisle, LED lights have been embedded in your television remote control for the past 50 years. Since 1962, when GE’s Nick Holonyak, Jr. invented the first visible-spectrum light emitting diode, that little red indicator light on your TV remote has been an LED bulb.

      While LED has been slower to catch on in the home and business illumination market due to its relatively high price point, its integration into the realm of power tools has been swift and impactful. Early on, these tiny diodes were recognized as the perfect replacement to fluorescent bulbs as indicator lights, due to a longer lifetime and smaller size. Now, LEDs’ crucial lack of heat is being put to better and wider uses in even the most arduous of work environments. Read the rest of this entry »

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        Convincing Homeowners of the Importance of an Energy Audit

        Tuesday, July 8, 2014 13:23

        Home Energy Audit

        Even though one of the biggest complaints from homeowners is high energy costs, convincing them of the value of a home energy audit can still be a challenge. The audit is quick and painless, typically involving the use of infrared cameras and blower doors, and the findings in regards to the home’s energy efficiency can be addressed to drastically reduce electric bills. Pinpointing the problem is really the most reliable, efficient way to cut excess spending on utilities.

        What is a home energy audit, anyway?

        Read the rest of this entry »

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          The World Cup of Renewable Energy

          Thursday, July 3, 2014 13:28

           

          Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in a room without tv access (like me), you’ve probably seen one, or several world cup games in recent days. FIFA has been everywhere lately, and not just for soccer (..or football). One hot button topic surrounding the 2014 World Cup games are the measures that planners and developers have gone through to reduce the environmental impact of the games. Of the 12 stadiums being used for the games, 10 have applied for LEED certification, a recognition that indicates a high level of sustainable awareness. While the ultimate goal of the organizers is to have some sort of green energy integrated in all of the stadiums, as of now only four of the stadiums utilize solar energy in their design. To put numbers into perspective, the installation at Estadio Mineirão produces enough energy to power about 1,200 households, while the Solar PV system at Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha will generate enough energy to supply almost 2,000 households per day which is a great step towards creating a more sustainable society.

          Brazil has very obviously dedicated much thought and planning to their renewable energy projects, but what about some of the other countries participating in the World Cup? Read the rest of this entry »

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            The Case for CFLs [Infographic]

            Tuesday, June 24, 2014 9:30

            With the cost of energy increasing at a steady rate, and the promise of record breaking summer heat looming in the near future, the time has come for consumers to think of effective and innovative ways to save money on their utility bills.

            The most reliable way to reduce excess spending on energy is to get an energy audit performed on your home. If you’re thinking about getting an energy audit, it is important to ensure that the person auditing your home has received their BPI certification and is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of home energy auditing. In some cases, homeowners can get a free energy audit by contacting their utilities company. Summer can be a hectic time and booking a home energy audit may not be at the top of your to-do list. So until you can schedule an audit, check out this simple suggestion for cutting back on your cost of utilities.

            Bright Idea

            One small change that can have a massive impact is switching the bulbs in your house to energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs. In addition to saving money on home energy bills, CFLs are also better for the environment than standard incandescent bulbs as they pull less electricity from power grids and in turn require less output, and pollution from power plants.

            Since their market introduction in the mid 80s, CFLs have been a widely debated topic in the lighting and home improvement fields as consumers voiced concerns about installing CFLs in their homes and offices as the bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury. Bulb manufacturers took notice and responded to the criticisms and concerns through a well developed series of technological improvements, and safe recycling methods. CFLs have come a long way since their introduction, and the future of this energy efficient lighting source is looking bright.

            Check out this infographic to see why using CFLs in your home or office is a great money saver and a giant step towards becoming more energy efficient.

            DIY Energy Efficiency

            For a full list of energy saving tips, click here.

             

             

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              What the New EPA Rule Means

              Friday, June 13, 2014 16:58
              Posted in category Renewables

              Coal_power_plant_Datteln_2_Crop1 Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30% by 2030. While this regulation received heavy support from both environmental groups and industry professionals, this plan would have definite effects on several states, some more negative than others.

              Bad News, kids

              As would be expected, the coal industry and its supporters are in opposition of the proposal. Coal mining states like West Virginia have wasted no time in voicing their opinion. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R. W.Va) sent a letter to President Obama implying that the current proposal would be “catastrophic” and urging the President to abandon the proposal. The proposal has also caused a stir in Senate offices across the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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                Combating Carbon through the Clean Power Plan

                Tuesday, June 3, 2014 18:16
                Posted in category Clean Energy News, Renewables

                Shatura_Steam_Power_PlantWith the direction and executive authority of President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released the Clean Power Plan, which cuts the carbon pollution from existing power plants that create 38% of the nation’s total carbon emissions. The plan is meant to cut carbon emission from the power sector nationwide by 30% below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year. The proposal is meant to protect public health and fight climate change, moving the nation towards a cleaner environment. The EPA, in its press release, proposes that this new plan will ‘sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs’. Read the rest of this entry »

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                  The Rising Relevance of the LEED AP Accreditation

                  Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:54
                  Posted in category Green Buildings

                  greenbuildingImagine if the products employed in every day construction were manufactured with renewable resources, alleviating the need to use virgin materials. This is one of the objectives of LEED, among others, including improving indoor environmental quality and creating innovations that reduce inefficiencies in water and other resource consumption. With all the changes occurring in the environmental landscape, and the rise in value of green building, the LEED AP accreditation is becoming increasingly authoritative.

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                    Tags: leed, leed ap

                    2 Degrees Celsius – A Keystone Pipeline Op-Ed

                    Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:54
                    Posted in category Clean Energy News

                    Pipes_for_keystone_pipeline_in_2009While scientists recognized the fear of climate change long ago, much of the populace refuses to make out the warning signs clearly presented. With land and ocean temperatures rising, surface temperatures drastically rising, and an increase in atmospheric C02, the consequences of global warming are becoming unstoppable. In his first inaugural speech, President Obama stated he would, “roll back the specter of a warming planet.” As the President’s first year ended, little change was made; he supported an expansion in oil and gas drilling while investing in developing “clean coal.”

                    At the start of the second Obama term, the President vowed to respond to the threat of climate change. Our country is about to face this year’s most delicate environment situation: the Keystone XL pipeline. Read the rest of this entry »

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