Friday, May 28th, 2010
After watching the video below from an old professor from college, I found myself with the sudden urge to blog on the topic of money,cash flow, and sustainability.
The video demonstrates how people feel about cash and the different types of cash. Needless to say, an interesting topic for everyone because we all have it and usually want more of it. But how does cash relate to sustainability and the decisions that are affecting our planet, our lives and our species.
My hypothesis: Feelings of cash correlate directly with assumptions of sustainability investments. (more…)
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
The widespread adoption of energy efficient light bulbs, fans, refrigerators, air conditioners, and irrigation pumps can overcome India’s electricity shortage by 2013 and significantly reduce the country’s rapidly growing carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new report. The study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said such simple energy efficiency measures could add $608 billion to India’s gross domestic product by 2020 because they would eliminate the chronic energy shortages that frequently force businesses and factories to reduce production. (more…)
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Currently winding its way through the legislative hoops of Capitol Hill is HOME STAR, a highly touted piece of legislation by President Obama. The program is perhaps the most important piece of legislation, outside of the Recovery Act and will provide for direct energy efficiency incentives for homeowners.
HOME STAR’S potential benefit to homeowners is simple: money. There are two proposed tracks: Silver and Gold. Under the Silver Star track ($3,000 cap/homeowner), homeowners will be eligible for rebates from individual energy efficiency measures such as replacing air conditioning units, water heaters or adding insulation. (more…)
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
What a difference the pond makes.
The E.U. passed strict energy efficiency regulations last week, requiring all new buildings constructed in Europe after 2020 to be virtually carbon-neutral. The goal, according to Reuters, is to reduce the 36% of GHG emissions attributable to Europe’s building stock:
“With buildings accounting for 36 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gases, improving their energy efficiency is also crucial for meeting the EU’s climate change goals,” said Turmes.
Contrast this approach to a recent veto by Wisconsin’s governor of a bill aimed at making a percentage of public buildings green. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported:
Monday, May 24th, 2010
Another Bad Week, Or a Really Good One? Good news grows as slow as a tree, but bad news spills as fast as a broken oil main. That seems to be the lesson from this week as BP, the U.S. government and an armada of ships and volunteers tried but mostly failed to contain the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Though BP had some success at slowing the spigot, oil is pooling in the wetlands of the Mississippi Delta and resides at unmeasured quantities in the deeps. There it has joined the Loop Current with a probable next stop in Florida.
Meanwhile, 1,500 miles north, an equally momentous event drew little attention: an agreement to curtail or end logging on 72 million acres of Canada’s boreal forest, an area roughly the size of France. An unlikely consortium of logging companies and Greenpeace agreed to halt the chainsaws altogether for three years in an area as big as Montana, and to develop a sustainable-forestry program for the remainder. The accord might be the forerunner to permanent protection for an area that encompasses two-thirds of Canada’s logging concessions. (more…)
Friday, May 21st, 2010
President Obama chose the White House Rose Garden as the spot to sign an executive order establishing the first-ever vehicle emissions standards for big rigs and other heavy trucks beginning in the 2014 model year. The emissions directive also calls on the automotive industry to promote development of plug-in hybrids electric cars and other vehicles that utilize biofuels and natural gas.
“The disaster in the Gulf only underscores that even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies,” the president said.
It was exactly one year ago that Mr. Obama, flanked by car company CEOs, announced the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks that took into account greenhouse gas emissions as a factor. Hailed as a revolutionary step by environmentalists, that move ordered a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency by 2016, totaling a 35.5 miles per gallon average for both cars and light trucks. Friday’s directive ordered federal agencies to begin development of even more stringent standards for 2017 and beyond. (more…)
Friday, May 21st, 2010
The practice of “commissioning,” in which an engineer monitors the efficiency of a building from its design through its initial operation, just may be the most effective strategy for reducing long-term energy usage, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. So why is it so seldom used?
In a different world, it could be a reality television show — “Buildings On Trial,” with a street-savvy engineer going into skyscrapers, factories, offices and other commercial buildings to find the dumb mistakes that make them waste energy and produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s global warming emissions.
And in almost every case, even new buildings proudly displaying a LEED “green building” plaque by the front door, the engineer would come back out with a list of energy hog culprits: Here’s the ventilation system fan installed backwards, so it blows full force into another fan blowing in the right direction. Here’s the control system set up so heating and cooling systems both work at once, like driving with your feet on the brakes and the accelerator at the same time. Here are the stuck dampers that prevent the building from drawing on outside air when the temperature is right.
Friday, May 21st, 2010
It’s likely that you’ve heard of EnergyStar and seen the recent headlines about US Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency efforts to ensure that appliances are as energy efficient as the blue EnergyStar label indicates. It’s less likely that you’ve heard of a parallel DOE effort to ensure that minimum energy conservation standards are being met.
Because mandatory efficiency standards apply to the manufacture of appliances and therefore are less noticeable to the consumer, standards don’t often make the six o’clock news. However, DOE is actively taking on the enforcement of standards as shown by the recent headlines on the website of the DOE General Counsel:
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
With more than 16,000 retail locations around the world, Starbucks continues to innovate and evolve the customer experience with a new store design approach inspired by Starbucks Shared Planet, their commitment to ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement. With each new or renovated store, Starbucks strives to reflect the character of the surrounding neighborhood, allowing customers to feel at home when visiting “their” store and giving them opportunities for discovery at our other locations around the world.
For the last 15 years, the Starbucks coffeehouse at 72 Spring Street in New York City has been a gathering place for local patrons and international visitors alike. The renovated location draws upon the area’s commercial and retail history as well as its vibrant arts and cultural renaissance over the past several decades. The Spring Street store blends the aesthetics of a turn-of-the-century dry goods warehouse with the original iconic mercantile-inspired Starbucks location at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. (more…)
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
The next wave of California legislation aimed at reducing the state’s energy consumption and meeting mandates for reduced greenhouse gas emissions is set to wash ashore in January 2011 when Assembly Bill 1103 goes into effect. Its approach has commercial building owners, facility managers and real estate brokers throughout the state scrambling to understand the new law and begin collecting the data necessary to get a high-performance energy rating and keep their properties competitive.
Unlike California’s stringent Title 24 building energy efficiency codes that regulate standards for commercial construction and renovations, AB 1103 comes into play when a building is sold, leased in whole or refinanced. Along with the usual financial and transaction disclosures, it requires that building owners provide 12 months of energy-use information, or energy benchmarking, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager.
AB 1103 is one of the ways the state legislature is working to help achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions mandated by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, also known as AB 32. Commercial buildings account for more than 35 percent of electricity consumption in California and are significant contributors to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)