As I was listening to the radio this morning, I heard a story about Bay Area company ZETA Communities…
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As Population, Consumption Rise, Builder Goes Small
The planet may not feel any different today, but there are now 7 billion people on it, according to the United Nations.
That number will continue to rise, of course, and global incomes are likely to rise as well. That means more cars and computers, and bigger homes: the kinds of things Americans take for granted. It’s that rise in consumption that has population experts worried…
In an industrial park outside of Sacramento, Calif., there’s a factory inside what looks like an old airplane hangar.
Zeta Communities builds modular homes here. Project manager Scott Wade says they’re not like “stick-built” homes — “stick-built meaning they build it one piece at a time,” Wade says, “whereas we build it an assembly at a time.”
In cities, modules can be stacked to make a new generation of efficient buildings. At Zeta headquarters, architect Taeka Takagi rolls out a blueprints with one of Zeta’s prototypes.
“It is a micro studio,” she says. “The units are under 300 square feet.”
You can read or listen to the entire story on the NPR website.
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You can also watch videos of a unit being built in the ZETA factory and a unit being installed on our website here.
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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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Dan Kammen, who leads the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley, was just appointed by the World Bank to be its first Clean-Energy Czar.
The New York Times Green Inc. blog posted an interview with him today:
Q – One of the chief criticisms of the World Bank is that, even as it has increased funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries to $3.3 billion annually, it continues to provide significant funding for carbon-intensive projects like coal-fired power plants. Do you see a need for the bank to maintain financing for those projects?
A – This is really at the heart of the tension between traditional development — meaning more energy, more access, irrespective of environmental damage — and the emerging environmental mandate that we’ve got to cut our greenhouse gas emissions so dramatically. So you get cases like the very controversial $3.5 billion investment in coal in South Africa, and at the same time, how to build the emerging economies around solar, biofuels, wind, etc.
You can read the entire interview on the New York Times website.
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UPDATE: There is also an interview with Dan Kammen posted on Grist:
Q – The climate bill process fell apart in Congress this year and it seems like the U.N. process isn’t headed for a big treaty either. How can things actually get done?
A – There’s no simple answer to that. When we look back at the Montreal Protocol and CFCs, people thought that process looked impossible until a few companies and countries realized that cleaning circuit boards without CFCs might actually save them money and be more effective. A couple successes turned a story that looked like it was going to be a failure into one that we all look back now and say, “Oh, that was easy by comparison.”
I’m not sure exactly how many successes we need to tip the balance so that a big treaty is possible, but no group is better positioned than the World Bank to facilitate them.
You can read the entire interview at Grist.org.
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