Thursday, April 8th, 2010
As millions of people around the world observed Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27, a cement plant tucked against the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia turned off the lighting array on its 400-foot pre-heater tower — and has no intention of turning them back on.
Before plant managers at the Roanoke Cement Company in Troutville, Virginia, made the decision to switch off the lights almost 100 lights were visible from up to 13 miles away along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, a road that traverses high on the wooded slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The pre-heater tower now has just two prominent red lights to alert small aircrafts flying in the area. “We knew we would make the neighbors happy if we’d just shut the lights off at night,” said Kevin Baird, Plant Manager for Roanoke Cement Company. Baird said he follows the guiding energy principle that “the easiest way to save power is to not use it.”
Monday, April 5th, 2010
MP2 Capital is a San Francisco firm that develops, finances and invests in distributed generation and small-scale utility solar projects throughout North America, selling the electricity produced by its projects to commercial, government and utility customers under power purchase agreements and feed-in tariffs.
Its latest project is a 445-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array in Winsted, Connecticut. MP2 Capital has entered into a power purchase agreement to sell all of the electricity generated to the Regional School District No. 7 for 20 years under a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.
The system, which sits atop multiple rooftops of the school district, was built by groSolar and is composed of 1,937 photovoltaic panels from Canadian Solar. It is expected to produce approximately 492,000 kilowatt hours of clean solar electricity and save the school district $26,000 in energy costs during the first year of operation. Over the term of the agreement, the system is expected to produce approximately 9,380,000 kilowatt-hours to offset the school’s energy use.
Brad Bauer, co-founder and managing director of MP2 Capital, talked with CleanTechies about the project. (more…)
Saturday, February 6th, 2010
Hallowell International in Bangor, Maine, is the manufacturer of the Acadia, a combined heating and cooling system that can be combined with solar or wind installations to take users off the grid. The system can be installed in new buildings or can be retrofitted when consumers are considering green upgrades.
CleanTechies has three questions for president and founder Duane Hallowell.
CleanTechies: Acadia uses something called “boosted compression” technology. Tell us about that.
Duane Hallowell: Since the 1950s, heat pumps, which operate by exchanging air for heating and cooling, have been the most popular and environmentally-friendly heating ventilation and cooling (HVAC) application. However, because they absorb heat from the outside air, they are inefficient in cold-weather climates, requiring additional, costly heating elements in order to work correctly.
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
Christmas Lights … scrooge or savior? (an annual refrain …) Do you love those displays of Christmas (or Hannukah or Kwanza or …) lights? Are you awed by those so impassioned that they string up 1000s of lights in awesome displays worthy of a city center?
I once did, pausing on cold winter nights, white clouds issuing from my mouth, enjoying being in the glow of beautiful displays. And, in a way, I was inspired that they would spend $1000s (or $10,000s) on displays and the electricity to power them so that others could enjoy the sight on those cold winter nights. But … no longer … not for awhile.
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The United States has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.
For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.
Monday, October 5th, 2009
Like many Americans who don’t realize that every time you flip the switch on a television or light, it results in the burning of coal or natural gas at a power plant, Britney Spears does not prioritize the use of energy in her life.
Why? A) She is crazy, B) Like so many others she doesn’t recognize that she personally is responsible for the pollution that is generated through her energy use, or C) All of the above.
If you answered A or C, shame on you. Similar to you or myself, without recognizing that she has a problem, it wouldn’t occur to Britney to change her behavior.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
For the fourth year in a row, Europe has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions, with CO2 output falling by 1.3 percent in 2008.
The recession appears to be the main factor in the emissions reduction, as factories were idled across the continent. But European Union Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the EU’s emissions trading scheme and development of renewable energy sources also is playing a part in the reduction.
“This is a timely message to the rest of the world in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate conference,” said Dimas.
Thursday, August 13th, 2009
One year after opening, and about two years after construction began, the Poh Ern Shih Temple (or Temple of Thanksgiving in English) is looking great. I’m dropping by to visit the temple and check out progress on this green Buddhist sanctuary.
The place is bustling with activity, and thankfully the first phase of construction has now been completed. On the day of my visit, several different religious study groups are in session upstairs, catering to the younger members of the Buddhist congregation. I locate Boon, the temple president, just before lunch and we sit down for a chat.
“The building performance has been great,” he tells me. “We’ve generated 15 megawatts of power from our first phase PV systems so far in the first year, and we’re going to install another set in our second phase of construction.”
Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Spurred by U.S. government regulations requiring improved lighting efficiency by 2012, researchers around the country are successfully turning the old, energy-burning incandescent bulb into a more efficient source of light. The New York Times reports that one company has already succeeding in producing incandescent bulbs that are 30 percent more efficient than older bulbs, which have changed little since the days of Thomas Edison and produce far more heat than light.