San Francisco and Oakland rank among the top 10 most walkable big cities in the country.  Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is working hard to cut its carbon emissions.  BART and MUNI management are both in transition.

LBNL Open House on Saturday 10/2

Image credit: LBNL website

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, located up in the hills overlooking Berkeley, California, is hosting an open house on Saturday, October 2.

Ever wonder how biofuels are produced, cool roofs and smart windows reduce energy use, the Internet was created, or supernovas are discovered? Families, community members, and others who want to learn the answers to these and other scientific questions are invited to attend Berkeley Lab’s Open House.

Visitors can talk directly with scientists conducting cutting-edge research, check out a cosmic ray detector, sequence DNA, create and measure their own seismic waves, build a motor at the Family Adventure Zone, or take a tour of the Advanced Light Source, one of the world’s brightest sources of ultraviolet and soft x-ray beams, among numerous other activities. Performances, displays, demonstrations, lectures, tours and food vendors will also be featured.

It is important to note that registration is required for everyone interested in attending. There are two sessions, morning and afternoon. More details are available here.

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The House of the Future?


In Berkeley, we are fortunate to have such events as Science at the Theater, where Lawrence Berkeley National Lab researchers give talks on their work at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The lectures are free and get a pretty sizeable audience. The lectures are recorded and put on YouTube.

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(The video can also be watched here – the technical stuff starts at about 10 minutes in.)

On May 10, 2010, I was in the audience as LBNL folks talked about their vision of the house of the future:

Learn what it will take to create tomorrow’s net-zero energy home as scientists reveal the secrets of cool roofs, smart windows, and computer-driven energy control systems.

The net-zero energy home
Scientists are working to make tomorrow’s homes more than just energy efficient — they want them to be zero energy. Iain Walker, a scientist in the Lab’s Energy Performance of Buildings Group, will discuss what it takes to develop net-zero energy houses that generate as much energy as they use through highly aggressive energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy generation.

Talking back to the grid
Imagine programming your house to use less energy if the electricity grid is full or price are high. Mary Ann Piette, deputy director of Berkeley Lab’s building technology department and director of the Lab’s Demand Response Research Center, will discuss how new technologies are enabling buildings to listen to the grid and automatically change their thermostat settings or lighting loads, among other demands, in response to fluctuating electricity prices.

The networked (and energy efficient) house
In the future, your home’s lights, climate control devices, computers, windows, and appliances could be controlled via a sophisticated digital network. If it’s plugged in, it’ll be connected. Bruce Nordman, an energy scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Energy End-Use Forecasting group, will discuss how he and other scientists are working to ensure these networks help homeowners save energy.

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner also spoke at the beginning, about energy in buildings and RECO programs.

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Upcoming Bay Area Events

A few (free!) events that I thought would be of interest to Zero Resource readers. If you know of other events you think folks might be interested in, let me know at anna AT zeroresource DOT com.

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September 22, 2010

CPUC Thought Leaders event – Dr. Peter Fox-Penner, The Brattle Group

10:30 am – 12:00 pm @ the CPUC Auditorium, 505 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco

The Brattle Group provides consulting and expert testimony in economics, finance, and regulation to corporations, law firms, and governments around the world.    Mr. Fox-Penner is recognized as an international authority on energy and environmental policies and electric regulatory planning and competition issues. He will discuss his vision for electric utilities as described in his new book, Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities. This will include business models that reflect the new roles and abilities required of utilities adopting Smart Grid technology: balancing and dispatch of energy across a changing grid and management of advanced end-use technologies for energy consumption. According to Dr. Fox-Penner, adopting and adapting to these changes will be one of the primary challenges the industry will face for the next 20 years.

More information and links to register here.

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October 1-2, 2010

The Philomathia Foundation Symposium at Berkeley: Pathways to a Sustainable Energy Future

9:00 am – 5:00 pm both days @ Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley

Can we emulate the ability of green plants to harness solar energy? Can we create intelligent materials, buildings, and even entire communities that generate their own energy? Can we put a price on greenhouse gases in order to reduce emissions? Can the technology used to produce an inexpensive anti-malaria drug also extract fuel from agricultural waste?

Hear world-renowned experts in solar energy, synthetic biology, climate science, urban design, and other critical areas discuss the best courses of action to achieve a sustainable energy future.

More info and links to register here.

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October 11, 2010

Science at the Theater – Cool Cities, Cool Planet, featuring Art Rosenfeld

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm @ Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Berkeley

How can white roofs cool your building, your city…and our planet? What’s the role of the other carbon – black carbon – in global warming?

More information here.

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Lots of Bay Area News

U.S. Representative and  House Appropriator Mike Honda secured funding to the tune of $2 million towards extension of the BART system to Silicon Valley as part of the FY 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill. What is the “BART to Silicon Valley” project? It’s an extension of the existing BART system to Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara starting from the future Warm Springs station in Fremont (along the eastern side of the South Bay).

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Google Energy has signed its first contract, a 20-year wind power contract in Iowa. Google will sell the electricity on the spot market and retire the associated renewable energy credits (RECs) – via TechCrunch.

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More people are freaking out about smart meters, but this time not in the Central Valley…

The Fairfax Town Council gave the nod to the creation of an ordinance that, if passed, would try to prevent PG&E from installing smart meters in Fairfax –  via the Marin Independent Journal.

The Marin Association of Realtors has issued a statement calling for a moratorium on its SmartMeter program due to concerns in three areas: concerns about overcharging, concerns about health effects from the radio waves, and concerns about PG&E imposing meters on folks that don’t want them – via the Marin Independent Journal.

The Marin Independent Journal also reports that the Marin supervisors have sent a letter to Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), asking the CPUC to suspend PG&E’s SmartMeter rollout until a commission has reviewed the funtion of the meters and until the health implications of the electronic emissions from the wireless devices has been addressed…

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The Department of Energy announced yesterday that $122 million has been awarded to a team of scientists from California (including Lawrence Berkley National Lab) to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will be focused on converting sunlight into liquid fuel.

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