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A Year Ago on Zero Resource – February 2011

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Worldwide Parking Rate Survey

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Colliers International published its 2011 “Global Central Business District Parking Rate Survey,” and the main verdict is that the cost of parking a car went up, in general, over the last year. However, the United States was an exception.

For the nerdy, the report lists average daily and monthly parking rates for a number of major cities. Did you know that in Tirana, Albania, the daily parking rate is equivalent to $6.18, but that in Oslo, Norway, the daily rate is $89.04? Or that in Bakersfield it is $8.00, but that San Francisco it is $26? Of the cities evaluated, San Francisco makes both the list of the top 50 most expensive daily rates and the 50 most expensive monthly rates.

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Microgrids – The Future of Electricity

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Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) visited the University of California, San Diego, to document the campus microgrid.

According to the video description:

At UCSD, the microgrid provides the ability to manage 42 megawatts of generating capacity, including a central cogeneration plant, an array of solar photovoltaic installations and a fuel cell that operates on natural gas reclaimed from a landfill site. The central microgrid control allows operators to manage the diverse portfolio of energy generation and storage resources on the campus to minimize costs. In addition, the campus can “island” from the larger grid to maintain power supply in an emergency, as in the case of the power blackout that struck parts of Southern California, Arizona and Mexico in September 2011.

If the video does not appear above, you can watch it online here.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR FRIDAY VIDEO SERIES.
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Snippets – Trade-Offs

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Today, a couple stories about trade-offs in the built environment.  Martin Holladay (the Energy Nerd) weighs the benefits and costs of deep energy residential retrofits and questions the value in terms of energy savings and cost of significant amounts of additional insulation rather than solar photovoltaics (via GreenBuildingAdvisor.com). Via NPR, a story about the trade-offs between having power lines above ground, where they are vulnerable to the elements, or underground. 

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Tour a Tiny House in Portland

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Finance blogger J.D. Roth posted a video of his friends giving him a tour of their tiny house (only 130 square feet!). You can check out more detailed info on all the nooks and crannies from the owner’s blog. You can also check out the website of the designers of the house, Portland Alternative Dwellings.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR FRIDAY VIDEO SERIES.
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Snippets – Waste Not Want Not

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Today, I want to share a few not-quite-so-recent stories related to waste that have been on my mind lately.
Via the New York Times, a food industry alliance is planning a three-year initiative to reduce the tremendous amount of food that Americans still throw in the garbage even as they grow somewhat more conscientious about recycling paper and yard trimmings. … A substantial portion of food is thrown away while still fully edible because of cosmetic blemishes or overstocking. … According to the most recent available statistics, more than 30 million tons of food was dumped in landfills in 2009, making food by far the most abundant material there by weight, the federal Environmental Protection Agency says.
From NPR comes a story about how all that wasted food contributes to climate change. A company called CleanMetrics gathered USDA’s estimates of food loss from retail and consumers for 2009. And when the company’s founder, Kumar Venkat, fed the data into his software he found that food waste is responsible for 135 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, or about 1.5 percent of all emissions ,,,  “If you compare beef to tomatoes, beef has a much higher footprint,” says Venkat. “So if you’re going to reduce waste, you need to prioritize.”
Via Bloomberg, a story about Bank of America selecting some its most decrepit, derelict homes in Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago and paying up to $7,500 to local agencies toward demolition costs. “There is way too much supply,” said Gus Frangos, president of the Cleveland-based Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp., which works with lenders, government officials and homeowners to salvage vacant homes. “The best thing we can do to stabilize the market is to get the garbage off.”
From the New York Times –  Across western North Dakota, hundreds of fires burn as companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field treat the gas as waste and simply burn it. … Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day. The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit.
And again from NPR, some insight into why cleaned wastewater stays dirty in our minds. … “It’s a very broad feature of human thinking,” Nemeroff explains. “Everywhere we look, you can see contagion thinking.” … The conclusion? “It is quite difficult to get the cognitive sewage out of the water, even after the real sewage is gone,” Nemeroff says.
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The GBA Glossary

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Usually, we post a definition of a term that we have heard a lot recently, or that is being used in several ways. Today, I am posting a resource for looking up terms related to green building, the Green Building Advisor Glossary.

The glossary is a simple list of terms and acronyms, organized alphabetically. So if you’ve been wondering about LSL, bake-outs, or PEX, among many other terms, it’s worth a little exploration.

THIS POST IS PART OF OUR DEFINITIONS SERIES ON “ECO-LINGO” AND TECHNICAL TERMS.