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Tue Nov 19th, 2013 at 02:54:44 PM EST
Cambridge, MA has been debating a net zero energy and/or emissions standard (http://www.netzerocambridge.org) for new buildings over 25,000 square feet since the Spring of 2013, partially because of an ecodistrict plan with MIT and others on a large parcel in East Cambridge (a plan MIT refused to make net zero even though they are rumored to be building a net zero project with some of the same partners in Basel, Switzerland).
The City Manager (Cambridge has a city manager form of municipal government, along with proportionate representation so city politics get weird fast) has established a "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force to study the issue. Cambridge Community Development Department produced a fine overview of the state of the art in larger buildings for zero net emissions at (pdf alert) http://www.cambridgema.gov/~/media/Files/CDD/ZoningDevel/Amendments/2013/Connolly/zngamend_connolly_
As the national Ecodistrict Summit was in town recently, the Community Development Department and Sustainable Performance Institute (http://www.sustainable-performance.org) hosted experts from Integral Group (http://www.integralgroup.com/), a deep green engineering firm to present lessons from the more than 40 net zero buildings they've worked on.
Thu Oct 31st, 2013 at 03:47:41 PM EST
Here are my rough notes (slightly polished) from three recent events I attended at Tufts, MIT, and online. My comments are within [brackets].
Energizing Sustainable Cities: Findings from the Global Energy Assessment
with Arnulf Grubler, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and Yale University
Thursday, October 24, 2013
(a light lunch will be served - no RSVP, first-come first-served)
[university lectures are often a violation of the second law of thermodynamics, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" or TANSTAAFL by offering free lunches]
Tufts, Cabot 703, The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy
Book of the same title as the talk, Energizing Sustainable Cities
New report includes a chapter on urban energy assessments, chapter 18 (http://www.globalenergyassessment.org). No business as usual scenario.
3/4 of all final energy is urban
World rural population likely to peak at 3.5 billion and decline after 2020
Cities are 0.2- 2.7% of world landmass
96% Internet routers are urban
Small cities, less than 100,000 population, are where most people live and are not studied enough [neighborhood and village scale]
City dwellers have lower energy and carbon footprints
Lack urban energy and carbon accounting for embodied energy, import/export balance
Annex 1 [industrialized] cities are generally lower than average per capita energy use but cities in Annex 2 countries approach Annex 1 levels of consumption while paying a higher relative price.
Most of the urban energy flow is in embodied energy, goods and services
City density enables demand/supply management and calls for low waste/zero impact systems - density demands zero emissions or zero impact - high levels of pollution happening in high population density areas is not good
Vienna which has had municipal utilities and services for a hundred years. In first law analysis, it is 50% efficient and with second law analysis it is 83% exegetic, has the ability to do useful work. You can increase energy efficiency by a factor of five without violating physical laws. [Raiffeisen Bank building in Vienna, 21 stories, 20,000-square-metre building or 65,000 sq ft, PassivHaus standard]
Vast improvement possibilities but they require integration and management of the urban form and systemic change
The largest leverage from systemic change but requires overcoming fragmentation (zero emissions as an approachable goal, statistical quality control)
Focus on the midpoints: efficiency of end use in buildings, processes, vehicles, appliances; land use; urban form (transportation, housing)
Syncity simulations work on these midpoints [Synthetic city simulations scaling up to world (peace) games as MOOs]
Q: Cambridge is planning on becoming a zero net emissions city. Any suggestions?
Partner with similar scale cities in becoming a zero emissions city to discover useful commonalities
1 Bryant Place in NYC claims to be the most efficient building of 51 stories [http://www.durst.org/properties/one-bryant-park]
Biggest district heating grid in the world is ConEd in Manhattan
Zero emissions at point of consumption - electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen introduced on the model of town gas or natural gas infrastructure [natural gas/methane is not going away]
Exergy as optionality, the higher the exergy the more possibilities
Switzerland as a model of microgrids based on civil defense CT's microgrid program:
In developing world, concentrate first on squatter settlements bare minimum to bare maximum, solar swadeshi:
Thu Oct 24th, 2013 at 04:44:54 PM EST
The second largest utility in Germany, RWE, says, "...we will position ourselves as a project enabler and operator, and system integrator of renewables."
RWE is based in Essen, Germany and provides 50,000 MW of electricity generated from coal, oil, and gas-fired plants to 24 million customers throughout Europe.
"The guiding principle is `from volume to value' with technologies ranging from large-scale offshore wind and hydro to onshore wind or photovoltaic. But we will no longer pursue volume- or percentage- targets in renewables (x TWh/y % in 2025). We will rather leverage our skills set by taking a `capital light' approach. Based on funds sourced largely from third parties, we will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator and system integrator of renewables."
They are also one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe.
Mon Oct 21st, 2013 at 07:13:02 PM EST
I publish a weekly listing of Energy (and Other) Events at the colleges, universities, and in the community around Cambridge, MA (http://hubevents.blogspot.com) and have been doing it consistently since the end of January, 2010 (http://hubevents.blogspot.com/2010/01/events-january-25-2010.html). This is the second iteration of the idea as I published a similar listings service plus reviews and articles from February, 1995 to February, 1998, "A List of Environmental and Telecommunications Events and Issues" or "AList...." for short (http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AList.html) [The issues from April 1997 to February 1998 are available at http://world.std.com/~gmoke/AList.index.html but you have to click on the weekly issue heading first before you can read any of the articles.]
My original idea was to have a searchable calendar of all the public lecture information at all the colleges and universities around the Boston area, something like 70 of them, so that anyone could take the opportunity to gather in all the free learning they want. Imagine the resource for anyone from high school kids to retired people. I'd been availing myself of the privilege for a number of years already, meeting in small seminar rooms with distinguished experts and famous names that normally you'd only see on TV. And I even got to ask them questions. What a gift! As an experienced autodidact, I took notes at the events I went to, when something of actual note occurred, and thought that the next step would be to invite others to contribute their notes from the events they went to that I couldn't attend so that all that wealth of information could be captured, a community commonplace book.
Sun Sep 29th, 2013 at 05:49:05 PM EST
Recently, I've noticed there has been a shift from talking about mitigation to adaptation to resilience when dealing with climate change. From my perspective, this is not a bad development as resilience focuses on practical preparedness for immediate hazards. This can partition change into small increments that are readily understandable and remove the polarized politics of climate change from the discussion. If you're talking about measures to prevent system failure because of a weather emergency, it tends not to matter what your position is on greenhouse gases because everybody remembers the last hurricane, flood, or blizzard. In addition, resilience measures can also be adaptation and, even in some cases, mitigation strategies for climate change as well. At least, this is what I'm observing here in the Boston area and what I've heard out of post-Sandy New York and other areas.
This week I attended a discussion at the Boston Society of Architects about a new report, Building Resilience in Boston
pdf alert: http://www.greenribboncommission.org/downloads/Building_Resilience_in_Boston_SML.pdf)
Before the meeting, I spent some time scanning the document and found it to be superlative work, a great introduction to the concepts of urban design for resilience and emergency preparedness and, most especially, a fine literature search of the state of the art all around the world. If you want to begin the process in your own city or town, this document will give you plenty of useful ideas and show you where to get more. It is useful not only for cities like Boston, London, and New York but also towns like Chula Vista, CA and Keene, NH.
Another indication of growing seriousness on these issues I noticed is that the dangers from temperature extremes are entering the picture, especially since there has been a 2,300% increase in casualties from heat waves and 189% increase from cold snaps in the 2001 to 2010 decade (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/16/1224282/-World-Meteorological-Organization-Heatwave-Decade).
According to Christina Figueres of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, whom I also saw this week, there are over 300 cities around the world which are actively working on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in the face of climate change. So while international organizations are struggling to find actionable agreements and individual countries are fighting to avoid responsibility, municipalities around the world are taking practical steps.
Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 02:21:51 PM EST
There's a great exhibition at the Boston Society of Architects down by South Station called "Reprogramming the City" (http://bsaspace.org/exhibitions/reprogramming-the-city/). It is all about small but significant design tweaks for urban infrastructures, imaginative and enlivening, from all over the world. There are lamp-posts that include deployable umbrellas for shelter during rain and snow, bus stop walls that light up during the darkness of winter to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and billboards that become bamboo forests to clean the air or have small apartments attached to their back sides or that gather and store potable water.
My favorite is the Dutch Goedzak:
Meaning both "good bag" and "do-gooder" in Dutch, Goedzak is a bag for Amsterdam residents to use when packaging their trash for pickup, ideal for items that are still useable for others, and just in need of a new home.
Goedzak is, says Waarmakers [the designers], "a friendly way to offer products a second chance and stimulate sustainable behavior."
The exhibition closes on September 29, 2013 and, if you are in Boston, it's a fine way to stimulate your urban dreaming.
Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 03:07:42 PM EST
For the last few years, I've been publishing a weekly listing service on Energy (and Other) Events (http://hubevents.blogspot.com) that happen around Cambridge, MA in the colleges, universities, and the community. This week, I noticed that there is a lot of practical activity around energy and the churches. From now until Thanksgiving, there will be three energy upgrade parties at three different churches in three different neighborhoods of Boston and two "sustainable house of worship" workshops, one in the suburbs and one in the city.
The energy upgrade parties are organized by the Home Energy Efficiency Team or HEET (http://www.heetma.com/) which for years now has been teaching volunteers hands-on skills in lowering their energy bills and carbon emissions while making the building they're in more energy efficient.
The workshops are organized by Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light (http://www.mipandl.org) which has been helping houses of worship reduce energy costs through energy efficiency and a heating oil buying club through MA Energy Consumers Alliance. One of the workshops will be happening in conjunction with a HEET energy upgrade party.
I've always thought that this is how energy organizing should be done: practical efforts that increase end use efficiency, save people money while making them more comfortable in their own neighborhoods, and speed the transition to renewables. Solar barnraisings, energy upgrade work parties, we should be building our energy future now, as an act of protest against the status quo and a mechanism of liberation from it.
Power to the people, as an actual practice.
Tue Aug 20th, 2013 at 04:29:57 PM EST
This greenhouse at the former historic Fisherville Mill in South Grafton, Massachusetts, sits on the banks of a canal by the Blackstone River. It is cleaning stormwater runoff and water contaminated by #6 fuel oil, also known as Bunker C oil, which leaked from underground tanks. At the end of the process, 95% of the hydrocarbons are removed without the application of chemicals, using only ecological design.
The Blackstone River can rightfully claim to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the USA as in 1790, Samuel Slater built the first water-powered spinning mill in America for Moses Brown, a founder of Brown University, in Pawtucket, RI using the Blackstone River as a power source. By October 7, 1828, the Blackstone Canal from Providence, RI to Worcester, MA was completed and became the original industrial corridor of the United States. Some say the Blackstone was the hardest working river of 19th century America with its water powering factories all along its length.
Perhaps now it will become an example of 21st century American technology that uses ecological systems thinking to clean up the wastes industrial development has left in its wake.
Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 08:40:17 PM EST
I didn't want to read Jaron Lanier's Who Owns the Future? (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2013 ISBN 978-1-4516-5496-7) as I thought Lanier's writings as a virtual reality enthusiast back in the day were somewhat simplistic and naive and what I knew of his first book (I saw him speak on it a couple of years ago), You Are Not a Gadget, continued in that stream. However, I read an interview with Lanier in which he seemed to be approaching an idea about the unification of economics with information theory and thermodynamics, a subject that really interests me, so when I saw the book displayed in the library, I reluctantly picked it up and worked through it.
Lanier is still a simplistic and naive thinker in many ways but he also is addressing some serious issues, the future of the Internet economy and a secure middle class. His thoughts can serve as a jumping off point for deeper discussion, even if those jumps take us far away from Lanier's views and the neo-liberal canards he seems to have bought into.
Wed Jul 24th, 2013 at 10:53:05 PM EST
How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?
A clear PET plastic bottle can help disinfect water.
6 hours of sunlight's UV-radiation kills diarrhoea-causing pathogens in water making it safer to drink.
A clear bottle full of water and a little bleach can become a solar skylight, providing the equivalent of a 50w incandescent light to a windowless shack.
Cut the bottom off a clear plastic bottle to make a mini-greenhouse, a hot cap, to protect seedlings from frost.
Surround that bottle hot cap with a circle of other bottles full of water for solar heat storage to extend the growing season.
Here's a bottle inside a bottle inside a bottle to heat water in the innermost bottle
and a variation of this design using a clear bottle, a dark can full of water, and a set of reflectors.
They illustrate the essentials of solar thermal energy:
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
With that knowledge you can move, concentrate, and store energy.
This clear plastic water heater is much larger and more practical for household use. It is made almost entirely from recycled packaging waste.
You can make a window out of plastic bottles, too,
and a south-facing window is already a solar collector.
But that's another story.
previously published at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2013/07/sixpack-of-solar-bottles-how-many-solar.html
Tue Jul 16th, 2013 at 11:15:46 PM EST
The World Meteorological Organization recently released their Global Climate Report: Decade of Extremes (pdf alert: http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_1119_en.pdf and video at http://youtu.be/qSz7U0C0bsY) looking at general weather patterns decade by decade from 1881 to 2010.
"...it is worth noting the very large increase (more than 2 000 per cent) in the loss of life from heatwaves, particularly during the unprecedented extreme heat events that affected Europe in the summer of 2003 and the Russian Federation in the summer of 2010. On the other hand, there were fewer deaths due to storms and floods in 2001-2010 compared to 1991-2000, with decreases of 16 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively, thanks, in good part, to better early warning systems and increased preparedness."
2,300% increase in casualties from heatwaves
189% increase from cold snaps
in the 2001 to 2010 decade.
Sun Jul 7th, 2013 at 02:19:51 PM EST
On June 25, the world's largest solar ship, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar (http://www.planetsolar.org), was docked in Boston and hosted a symposium on water and climate change, "From the Alps to the Atlantic." This 35 meter by 23 meter catamaran is currently on the DeepWater expedition, harvesting data from the Gulf Stream after a maiden voyage around the world on the equator. From Boston she is bound for St John's, Newfoundland, Reykjavik, Iceland and finally Bergen, Norway. After the transatlantic DeepWater expedition, the PlanetSolar will work with the Waste Free Oceans Foundation (http://www.wastefreeoceans.eu) to clean up European waters. The research team from University of Geneva is headed by Professor Martin Beniston and consists of climatologists, physicists, and biologists.
The PlanetSolar has 512m2 of PV cells and the largest civilian mobile battery in the world providing 20 kW of electricity, 17kW for two 60kW electric motors, with 3 kW for life on board, for an average speed of 5 knots and a maximum speed of 14 knots. The PlanetSolar is a traveling experiment laboratory and sampling station working on water issues around the world with room for a crew of nine.
The symposium included talks on the global water cycle including river systems (http://www.globalrivers.org), glaciers and mountain water resources (http://www.acqwa.ch), ocean ecology, acidification, phytoplankton and zooplankton biology, and other issues.
Sat Jun 22nd, 2013 at 06:34:40 PM EST
The Restructuring Roundtable is a mostly monthly (it takes the summer months off) meeting of the energy sector in Boston that takes a morning to discuss energy issues in depth with the major players from all around NE. There is also much time allotted for networking. The slides from the presentations are available online within a day or two and the video of the presentations comes a little later. It is a great resource for anyone interested in these issues and the public is most definitely invited.
The Roundtable, for me, follows in the tradition of the NE-wide energy policy meetings the great Duane Day used to host at the Department of Energy starting back in the days before Reagan killed us.
The 6/14/13 Restructuring Roundtable was "ISO-NE's Generation Retirement Study & 2020 Resource Options for New England." You can see the agenda and look at the slides here:
The video should be available in a few weeks. ISO-NE manages the electricity market in New England and is thus the entity that is responsible for maintaining the flow of electrons from one utility to another when necessary.
Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 at 03:35:51 PM EST
Read about this study from BU (http://www.bu.edu/news/2011/05/13/boston-greenhouse-gas-audit/) about the amazing amount of methane leaks in Boston and wondered if there was a way to enable citizens to crowdsource such leaks and report them to the authorities and utilities. Of course, our noses can be effective natural gas detectors and Smell Something, Say Something is crowdsourcing methane leaks based on smell:
Yet, a cell phone methane sniffer would be useful and it looks like it is coming, along with a battery of environmental sensors for cell phones. The age of cell phone enabled citizens' monitoring will be here directly.
Sensordrone, a fully funded Kickstarter device, may be able to sense methane (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/453951341/sensordrone-the-6th-sense-of-your-smartphoneand-be) and, after I asked them to, the Smart Citizen Kit, a Kickstarter that is still looking for funding (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/acrobotic/the-smart-citizen-kit-crowdsourced-environmental-m), may be expanding to include methane sensing as well.
Another cell phone biosensor device is coming out of the University of Illinois:
Fri May 17th, 2013 at 09:15:03 PM EST
Simple solar principles
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
insulation keeps heat in
heat can be stored and moved
and any window that sees sunlight
Tue Apr 30th, 2013 at 11:19:10 PM EST
Last year, one of the vendors at NESEA's Building Energy conference (http://www.nesea.org/buildingenergy/) gave away a keychain fob, a little two LED hand crank light. This year, another vendor gave away three LED solar keychain lights. A few weeks later, I got another solar LED light as a giveaway from the MIT Energy Initiative.
A little searching found where these promotional gifts are available in bulk:
1.61 @ per 5000 solar keychain lights
1.32@ per 5000 hand crank keychain lights
I wonder what happens when these cheap sweatshop trinkets meet the necessary invention of the bottom billion and a third, billion and a half people who do not yet have access to reliable electricity.
Mon Feb 4th, 2013 at 11:57:39 PM EST
The failures of the environmental community have been
(a) giving up on a "no regrets" strategy that concentrates on all the things the majority can agree on whether or not they believe in "global warming"
(b) concentrating on legislative and regulatory action to the exclusion of grassroots empowerment through practical demonstrations of individual and community solutions
(c) not building a united front of organizations all pushing in the same direction at the same time and actually executing a common strategy long-term through a battery of complementary tactics short-term (the environmental community is notorious for not knowing the difference between strategy and tactics)
(d) motivating almost exclusively by fear and thereby building learned helplessness and despair rather than fostering individual and community competence
(e) focusing almost totally on a problem orientation rather than a solutions orientation
Tue Jan 29th, 2013 at 09:24:39 PM EST
"Energy Critical Elements"
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MIT, Building 6-120, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
Speaker: Robert Jaffe - Morningstar Professor of Science, Department of Physics
I will then turn to our recent report on "Energy Critical Elements: Securing Materials for Emerging Technologies", describing rare elements' roles in emerging technologies, constraints on availability, and government actions to avoid disruptive shortages.
Web site: http://student.mit.edu/searchiap/iap-9289af8f3b3c7818013b3d15ee340001.html
Open to: the general public
Sponsor(s): Physics IAP
For more information, contact: Denise Wahkor
Sat Jan 12th, 2013 at 05:51:00 PM EST
Reversing Global Warming while Meeting Human Needs: An Urgently Needed Land-Based Option
Friday, January 25, 2013
2:00 - 4:00 PM, ASEAN Auditorium
The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Reception to follow
RSVP at http://allansavory.eventbrite.com
Allan Savory, Rancher and Restoration Ecologist, Founder of the Savory Institute and originator of the Holistic Management approach to restoring grasslands, winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, and finalist in the Virgin Earth Challenge
Presented by CIERP's Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program with the Friedman School's Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program and Planet-TECH Associates
Free and open to the public. Convened by the Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Fletcher;
the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program of Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Planet-TECH Associates.
First in a Series of "Creating the Future We Want" Events.
While governments posture and dither, a pragmatic practitioner and intellectual entrepreneur, Allan Savory,has been developing and demonstrating a powerful technique that can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere immediately while reversing desertification and providing livelihoods and food for millions of people. His applied research based in Zimbabwe on the restoration of grasslands has now been replicated on millions of acres worldwide. The application of his methods has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon through an increase in plant growth and soil formation. This process begins immediately and involves no new technologies, only a shift to the Holistic Management practices for livestock that he has pioneered. Major organizations and institutions are now recognizing his work, but climate scientists and governments have yet to incorporate it into their analyses and policy prescriptions.
Mon Nov 26th, 2012 at 04:43:27 AM EST
November 6, 2012, the MIT Center for Civic Media and Department of Urban Planning had a conversation on "Peer to Peer Politics" with Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked World moderated by Aaron Naparstek, visiting scholar at MIT's DUSP, and featuring Harvard Law School's Yochai Benkler, Susan Crawford, and Lawrence Lessig. Video of the event online.
To my mind, the discussion was less about the electoral politics we usually associate with that word and more about how peer-to-peer [P2P] networks are already being used among diverse populations for civic activities and many other things. When Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, paraphrased Kevin Kelly by saying "The internet was built by love. It's a gift," (The Web Runs on Love, Not Greed), I thought of the idea and the story behind the title of the book You Can't Steal a Gift about jazz players Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton, and Nat King Cole by Gene Lees (Lincoln, NE: Univ of NE Press, 2001 ISBN 0-8032-8034-3):
Phil Woods: "I was in Birdland, stoned, as I often was in those days. Dizzy and Art Blakey kidnapped me. Took me home to Dizzy's and sat me down and said, 'What are you moaning about? Why don't you get your own band?'...
"I asked them if a white guy could make it, considering the music was a black invention. I was getting a lot of flak about stealing not only Bird's music but his wife and family as well [Woods was married to Chan, Charlie Parker's widow]... And Dizzy said, 'You can't steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it.'"
front-paged by afew
by marco - Nov 30
by Bjinse - Nov 24
by afew - Nov 28
by vbo - Nov 21
by marco - Nov 30
by afew - Nov 28
by Oui - Nov 23
by vbo - Nov 21
by gmoke - Nov 19
by Oui - Nov 19
by Oui - Nov 12
by afew - Nov 12
by Oui - Nov 8
by car05 - Nov 6