Monday, December 21st, 2009
Authors Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, renowned city planners who brought the issue of suburban sprawl to the forefront of the national debate, have come together again with The Smart Growth Manual, which details the path to creating better, greener and environmentally-friendly communities.
CleanTechies caught up with Speck for three questions on better living through planning.
CleanTechies: When you hear the term smart growth, what does it mean to you?
Jeff Speck: It’s the opposite of sprawl. And sprawl is identified as growth that spreads out at low density, separates uses and relies on automotive transportation and has a concomitant disinvestment in city centers. So smart growth is the attempt to reverse those trends, or to continue the momentum that’s already been begun toward reversing those trends.
I have a specific message for CleanTechies: Sustainability is about systems. Unless we approach our footprint systematically, we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges. And I think almost all of the gizmo green solutions to climate change and post-peak oil challenges are nibbling around the edges without getting to the meat of the problem.
Friday, December 18th, 2009
How do you force a company that earns money by selling power to reduce its sales? This conflict of interests is what the state of California faced in the 1970s and the result was the formation of the California Public Utilities Corporation (CPUC) an agency that oversees the publicly owned utilities in the state and regulates the amount those utilities can charge. A major goal for the CPUC? Disincentivize the utilities from increasing sales.
Energy use across the United States has grown steadily both on a per capita basis and in total for the last 30 years. California is one of the few states that has been able to control its per-capita energy use over the last few decades. In fact, the per capita utility use curve in California has been almost completely flat since the late ‘70s which many find amazing considering the overwhelming increase in technology in our lives. The way California has done so is as startling as it is strange: beauracratic wisdom.
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
These are the green gifts your utility company doesn’t want you to know about and your girlfriend doesn’t want to receive but for less than $75 you can save yourself over $300 next year and every year thereafter.
While the holidays usually represent massive purchases of items destined for landfills and dark corners of attics and basements, there are several items you can purchase this holiday season that will pay for themselves many times over and put a smile on your face every month of the year. Whether you care about the environment, hate sending your hard earned money to the utility company or simply have better things to do with your money, these tips will help you put a smile on the recipients face every month of the year.
Friday, December 4th, 2009
I recently attended the West Coast Green conference in San Francisco and came out enthused and confused.
I was enthused about the progress the green building industry is making. That over 14,000 people from all over the country came to learn about the new innovations in green building is huge for an industry, which in many ways, is in its infancy.
I listened to speakers from all sides of the business, real estate experts, government officials, green building consultants, and contractors to list only a few. They all provided interesting insights on where the industry was and should be going and a bit about it how it was going to get there.
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
According to a new report [Fr] from ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency), 90,000 jobs have been created in green sectors in France between 2006 and 2008.
These jobs have been created mostly in the fields of energy conservation and the development of renewable energy.
Overall, the French green sectors now employ over 294,000 jobs (up from 204,000 jobs in 2006). The ADEME is optimistic that this trend will continue and believes an additional 200,000 jobs could be created by 2012.
The energy conservation and renewable energy sectors grew by 28 percent and represent a market worth €50 billion ($75 billion). They could grow to up to €90 billion ($135 billion) by 2012. (more…)
Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Sunday, November 29th, 2009
With the United States of America’s ever-mounting trade and budget deficits, unemployment above 10 percent (and, dependent on counting, un- and under-employment above 20 percent), looming peak oil and other resource (water, for example) limitations, environmental challenges, and ever-mounting climate chaos , America faces a very serious situation.
In fact, to one degree or another, these same intertwined challenges (with the exception of trade/budget deficits for some countries) are those face by societies and nations throughout the globe in our networked, systems-of-systems global community.
These serious challenges are a networked system-of-systems that interact and reinforce each other. As we strive to stop digging the holes deeper and climb our way out, we can seek to deal with these challenges in a stove-piped manner or address them with W6 solutions that have wins across multiple arenas:
Monday, November 23rd, 2009
It all sounds very grandiose and really too good to be true, but a number of Persian Gulf states, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar are hoping to be able to satisfy a good portion of their massive energy needs through alternative and renewable energy sources, instead of relying mostly on oil.
In a part of the world that experiences some of the hottest summer temperatures, averaging above 44 degrees Celsius during at least 4 months of the year; and whose energy growth use is growing by more than 10% per annum, these countries have their work cut out for them to be able to realize 70% of their total energy needs from alternative and renewable energy by the year 2030.
Friday, November 13th, 2009
As debate heats up around the proposals for clean energy legislation in Congress, one of the main points of contention is the amount of money it will cost. More specifically, everyone wants to know how the average American household will be impacted by the respective energy bills in the House (Waxman-Markey’s American Clean Energy and Security Act) and the Senate (Kerry-Boxer’s Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act). This article will investigate the change in energy prices one can expect from legislation that could be passed within the coming months, and try to sift through the wide discrepancy in figures that are being tossed around. Then some recommendations will be presented as to how energy usage can be reduced, to preempt any anticipated rises in cost.
Monday, November 2nd, 2009
I recently finished reading a book I strongly recommend to anyone interested in sustainable development and energy. It is packed with figures and findings that I believe will easily start discussions among CleanTechies.
The author, David JC MacKay, is Professor in the Department of Physics at Cambridge University and was recently appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change responsible for the Low Carbon Transition Plan.
One of the main findings of this book is that electrifying our cars and installing heat pumps in our buildings would enable us to cut significantly both our greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Both solutions are much more efficient than the current traditional ones and could benefit from massive electrification to answer all our energy needs.