The carbon footprint of the internet: Around 300 million tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to every person in the UK flying to America and back twice over.
Taking a cue from of America’s most popular television shows, “The Biggest Loser,” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring a national energy contest entitled “Working off the Waste with Energy Star” among 14 commercial buildings across the country.
The 14 contestants will compete to demonstrate the largest percentage-based energy use reduction over a 12-month period from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010. The winning building will be announced in October 2010 in a public ceremony featuring Bob Harper, one of the winners of “The Biggest Loser.” (more…)
The drive to extract and store CO2 from coal-fired power plants is gaining momentum, with the Obama administration backing the technology and the world’s first capture and sequestration project now operating in the U.S. Two questions loom: Will carbon capture and storage be affordable? And will it be safe?
On a placid bend of the Ohio River in West Virginia sit two coal-fired power plants. The Philip Sporn Plant boasts four boilers from the 1950s, surrounded by mountains of coal and a series of man-made lakes to contain the toxic residue of its coal-burning.
A faint haze emanates from its main smokestack, the only visible sign of the thousands of tons of acid-rain-forming sulfur dioxide, smog-forming nitrogen oxides, and climate-warming carbon dioxide it emits each day, a consequence of the plant’s complete lack of pollution-control technologies. The 1,100 megawatts of electricity it produces will never benefit from such controls, as they are too expensive to install on the multiple small boilers, according to the plant’s owner, American Electric Power.
How good or how bad is a product from a green carbon footprint point of view? Several well known corporations like Airbus, Levi Strauss & Co., 3M, DuPont, and Kraft Foods are volunteering to road test a full life cycle greenhouse gas analysis on a wide range of products from blue jeans to manufactured steel.
A life cycle analysis studies all the potential contributions to a carbon footprint and includes supplier, transportation, production and disposal. This concept is also related to environmental sustainability.
In a recent survey published by Eurostar (a rail line), travelers in the United Kingdom (UK) were asked to select factors that were important in choosing their holiday or short break destination. “Cost of getting there” was selected seven times more often than “Carbon footprint,” which ranked well below other factors as well, like “Going somewhere new.” This is not an uncommon experience. How we get to where we want to go is overwhelmed by other factors. Even this in mind the greening of travel continues.
Faced with global climate change, many around the globe, from governments to companies to individuals, have warmed to train travel.
Traveling by rail is on average three to 10 times less CO2-intensive compared to road or air transport, according to the UIC, a Paris-based international organization of the railway sector. (more…)
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.
Sustainability advocates long ago adopted the mantra “buy local” to limit the carbon footprint of the goods purchased. Distributed energy that’s closer to the end user through smaller solar and wind power, is having an impact on the energy sector. The next industry to become more geography-centric in purchasing will be transportation.
The automotive and petroleum industries in the United States are also relatively centralized as well. While the largest companies have U.S. central offices, the supply strings are often pulled from far away places. But as electric vehicles and biofuels ramp up, their influence with local consumers and partners will become more significant.
The best way to ensure that industrialized and developing nations fairly share the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to set national targets based on the number of wealthy people in each country, a new study suggests.
Reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from Princeton University recommended that the roughly 1 billion people whose affluent lifestyles make them high carbon emitters should determine how much CO2 each country is permitted to emit under any new climate treaty. Most of those 1 billion people live in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and other developed countries, but an increasing number of well-to-do people with a large carbon footprint will live in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and other developing nations. A climate treaty that focuses on levels of affluence in each country will help bridge a major negotiating divide between rich and poor countries, the study said.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has some suggestions on how we can save energy this summer, and reduce our emissions of Green House Gasses. The energy used in an average home costs more than $2,200 a year and contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than a typical car. Looking at the Energy Star ratings on home appliances, cooling equipment, computers and entertainment devices can, collectively, make a large difference.
Here are some tips from EPA to save energy and help protect the environment at home and at work: