Announced 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”