ARPA-E (the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy) has launched a new interactive project map that allows users to identify ARPA-E funded projects based on a project location and project type. You can play with the map here.
There are a number of projects in the Bay Area in the following areas, among others:
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.
Image Credit: Google Green Blog
According to the Google Green Blog, a recently completed project to update the Geothermal Map of North America by SMU Geothemal Laboratory (supported by Google.org), estimates that the technical potential of geothermal energy exceeds 2,980,295 megawatts. More details can be found on the blog here.
Google has also worked to develop this information as a layer in Google Earth. The file can be downloaded from a link towards the bottom of this page. The map shows Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Potential from depths from 3km to 6.5km and excludes protected lands such as National Parks.
An important note: I am not in any way endorsing EGS. Messing with the Earth at big scales makes me nervous, since we have so little information on the potential impact of our actions. I live in earthquake territory. Also, I read this alarming article in the New York Times a couple years ago. An excerpt:
All seemed to be going well — until Dec. 8, 2006, when the project [in Basel, Switzerland] set off an earthquake, shaking and damaging buildings and terrifying many…
As early as this week, though, an American start-up company, AltaRock Energy, will begin using nearly the same method to drill deep into ground laced with fault lines in an area two hours’ drive north of San Francisco.
…For geothermal energy to be used more widely, engineers need to find a way to draw on the heat at deeper levels percolating in the earth’s core.
Some geothermal advocates believe the method used in Basel, and to be tried in California, could be that breakthrough. But because large earthquakes tend to originate at great depths, breaking rock that far down carries more serious risk, seismologists say. Seismologists have long known that human activities can trigger quakes, but they say the science is not developed enough to say for certain what will or will not set off a major temblor.
It is well worth reading the entire article. And it is well worth remembering that just because it is called “clean” energy does not mean that there are no potential hazards associated with the energy production and use.
image: Wikimedia Commons
Many products these days make claims on their labels that place them somewhere on the nebulous spectrum of “green”. These endorsements range from “all natural”, to “environmentally friendly”, “biodegradable”, or “eco” just to name a few.
But what do these labels really mean? “Environmentally friendly” compared to what? “Biodegradable” how, and under what conditions?
The fact is, many manufacturers in recent years have taken note of strong consumer appetite for safer products and have responded– but not always with meaningful changes. Products and services that gratuitously toss around vague environmental claims have come to be known as “greenwashing“.
For example, many product labels feature environmental seals – little pictoral “stamps” with a tagline; while there are some legitimate third party verification seals that attest to a products’ safety, environmental performance and/or the manufacturing process, some may be nothing more than ornament. Other examples of deceptive advertising practices may include misleading claims, or overstatement of environmental benefits of a product during its manufacture, use or disposal.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first adopted its “Green Guide” in 1998 to help provide a baseline of clarity for both consumers and the manufacturers making environmental claims about their products; the revisions that are in the works now will be the first since 1998.
The new revisions will be based on research done by the FTC to gauge consumer understanding of various “green” labeling terms and practices. However, the FTC stops short of providing legal definitions to terms and the guidelines will still be voluntary and self-implemented by manufacturers.
Listen to the KQED Forum “An End to Greenwashing” that provides a discussion of the new FTC guidelines, here
Visit the Good Guide, a group that helps you find “healthy, green, ethical products according to scientific ratings”
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Early this month the U.S. EPA launched its 2011 National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings“. 245 buildings from across the country will be battling it out “head to head” to see how much each can reduce energy consumption by a given deadline.
The buildings represent a mix of buildings including 26 different commercial building types and a range of building ages up to 100+. The Competitors will be using EPA’s online tracking tool Energy Star Portfolio Manager to keep track of results.
With the building sector contributing near 20 percent of the country’s energy use and emissions according to the EPA, this competition will help raise awareness and provide practical case studies for a variety of real-world situations.
the competition site even features a tweet stream to follow along with participants’ progress.
The top scoring buildings move on to the finals in July, with an overall winner announced in November.
image: Wikimedia Commons
Reconnecting America has just released its 2011 report on transit projects in the United States.
The report, titled “Transit Space Race 2011: A Catalog and Analysis of Planned and Proposed Transit Projects in the US“, is a compendium of transit planning across the country. Due to the fluid and changeable nature of transit planning, the report comprises a “snapshot in time” during a survey period of late 2010.
The result is a window into transit demand in communities nationwide, and most notably the huge gap between the volume of competitors and the number of available transit infrastructure dollars from the federal New Starts program.
Download the report here
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Image from: WRI EarthTrends
World Resources Institute has a useful and interesting service called EarthTrends Delivered. By signing up for this free service you can explore dozens of data charts and maps online and receive email digests of new data as it is produced by WRI in any of the following:
-Greenhouse Gas Emission Sources and Trends
-U.S. Climate Policy
-Energy and Electricity
-Adapting to Climate Change Impacts
Upon signing up you also get a dashboard to manage your subscriptions, save data, and share data via facebook, email or tweet.
“We need to separate data from information from advice from advocacy.”
— Peter Morris
So, yes, I have to out myself as one of the truly nerdy…
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Image credit: ASHRAE
From the ASHRAE website:
To promote energy efficiency, ASHRAE and the US Department of Energy are making Standard 90.1-2007 (I-P Edition) available for free download.
Standard 90.1 has been a benchmark for commercial building energy codes for over 35 years. It is an indispensable reference for engineers and other professionals involved in the design of buildings and building systems. The 2007 edition serves as the basis of many building codes.
You can download the free pdf document here.
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For those that like to know what acronyms mean, ASHRAE stands for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Their motto is now “Advancing HVAC&R to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.” A cool bunch of very nerdy engineers – you can find out more about the organization here.
I would also like to add that ASHRAE is very generous with their support of students interested in buildings and energy.
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photo: Wikimedia Commons
While attending the two-day “Pathways to a Clean Energy Future” symposium put on by the Philomathia Foundation and U.C. Berkeley last week, I made a note to look up a recent initiative called the “Gigaton Throwdown” that was mentioned by Professor and Senior Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas Fellow Dan Kammen, during his talk.
The Gigaton Throwdown Initiative is essentially a collaboration of a diverse group of academics and business/investment professionals, that spent 18 months looking at what it would take to bring nine clean energy technologies up to a gigaton threshold of power generation (one billion metric tons) by the year 2020. The nine technologies include biofuels, building efficiency, concentrated solar power, construction materials, geothermal, nuclear, plug-in hybrid cars, solar pv and wind. The technologies were selected for the capacity-building study because they already have a market presence and are able to attract investors.
The aim of this exercise, according to the Gigaton Throwdown website, is “to educate and inspire investors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policy makers to “think big” and understand what it would take to scale up clean energy massively over the next 10 years.” And really, in the face of the daunting challenges for the future of energy industries and policy, who can’t use the inspiration?
The GTI issued a report documenting the findings of their process. Key points center around the critical need for a cross-collaborative policy and investment framework to assist in the transition to a cleaner energy future.
Read the full report here.
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A few weeks ago, Dan Kammen, who leads the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley, was appointed by the World Bank to be its first Clean-Energy Czar. At the time, we pointed readers to a couple interviews, which you can read here.
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