Snippets – Software and Online Tools

dividing-line2Announced in late 2012, the Center for the Built Environment has developed a web-based thermal comfort tool, which is now available for use: http://cbe.berkeley.edu/comforttool/. From the email announcement, “this free online tool is useful for performing and visualizing comfort calculations according to ASHRAE Standard 55-2010. The tool has been validated against the official ASHRAE Thermal Comfort tool.”

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There is now a free, open source plugin for Grasshopper called Ladybug that “allows you to import and analyze EnergyPlus weather data (epw) in Grasshopper and draw diagrams like sun-path, wind-rose, radiation-rose,” can “run radiation analysis, shadow studies, and view analysis,” and then show the results inside Grasshopper, according to the announcement in early 2013. The tool was developed by a graduate student from the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Map of Extreme Weather in 2012

2012 was a year of extreme weather events, with record heat waves, significant drought across the Southern and Western States, and major wildfires. A map posted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) allows users to watch the events on the national map over the course of the year.

The map also allows user to look at a summary of extreme weather events at the state level.

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According to the NRDC, in 2012 California experienced:

  • Record-breaking heat in 15 counties
  • Record-breaking snow in 5 counties
  • Record-breaking precipitation in 18 counties
  • 102 large wildfires

The website lets users see the specific records set (for example, the records for monthly highest maximum temperature below) and the previous record.

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For those (like me) who like to know the source of the data, the map was based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’s National Climatic Data Center.

Oh, Kansas

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I live in California. Even more specifically, I live in the Bay Area, which has generally embraced both that sustainability is a pretty good long term goal and that public money can be used pretty effectively to address and promote that goal.

At the other end of the sustainability spectrum is a recent story about Kansas.

The Kansas legislature’s Committee on Energy and Environment is proposing House Bill No. 2366, which would ban all state and municipal funds for anything related to “sustainable development” [via Bloomberg]. In the bill, sustainable development is defined as

development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.”

The full text of the bill (only 2 pages long) is worth reading:

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You can also read it online here (PDF).

As noted by the somewhat snarky Bloomberg article, “… House Bill No. 2366 shouldn’t affect the wind industry, because Kansas already doesn’t support wind development with public funds.”

Oh, Kansas.

Peter Gleick – The Future of Water

This is a recording of the keynote speech from the “Resources Roundtable 2013: The Future of Urban Water,” an event hosted by the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative.

Peter Gleick is the President and Co-founder of the Pacific Institute, based in Oakland, CA. His speech was titled “An Audacious Vision for Water in the City of the Future.”

He also periodically writes a column on water issues for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Solara & Los Vecinos: Net Zero Energy Affordable Housing

Solara and Los Vecinos are affordable housing projects that were designed with the goal of net zero energy performance with a very small increase in the incremental cost per unit. The projects also have a number of other “green” features.

More information on Solara and a link to a case study is on the Global Green website here. Information on Los Vecinos and a link to a case study is here.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR FRIDAY VIDEO SERIES.

Spend San Francisco’s Transportation Dollars

If you were the budget czar for San Francisco, how would you allocate the city’s transportation dollars? Now, you can try your hand at making it all work online here. You can submit your final budget proposal, and it will be used to help develop the San Francisco Transportation Plan.

Check out the details here.

Snippets

A stackable solar home wins the 2012 Solar Decathlon Europe. [Earthtechling.com]

A squabble between BART and the Port of Oakland blocks Clipper card for AirBART. [San Francisco Chronicle]

An increasing number of folks are making the business case for walkable retail. [Retail Law Advisor]

Photo: One of the stations from the bike sharing program in Washington, D.C., by Anna LaRue

The Hestia Project

Steve Gurney, an ecologist at Arizona State University, has put together a software package that illustrates where fossil fuels are being burned in a city down to the individual building and street level.

You can find more information about The Hestia Project here.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR FRIDAY VIDEO SERIES.

Snippets

Weather extremes are damaging parts of the U.S. infrastructure [NY Times]

The United States ranks 9th out of 12 of the world’s largest economies on energy efficiency but feels the least guilty [BuildingGreen.com]

Demolition began at the West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library – when completed, it will be a zero net energy building [Berkeleyside]

The Feds say the PACE retrofit program is still too risky [BuildingGreen.com]

Photo: A blooming artichoke in Berkeley, CA, by Anna LaRue