Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cleantech News from CleanTechnica

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3 Cleantech Champions For Senate: Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 07:42 PM PST

 
I wish we had time to write up endorsements for each race in the US. But, of course, that would have been impossible and impractical, especially given our focus on cleantech. However, before all is said and done, I wanted to make sure to get three endorsements for Senate published here on CleanTechnica. These three endorsements are for some of the most cleantech-awesome politicians I’m aware of, the type of people I wish would fill Congress someday.

Longer pieces on each of these candidates can be read via the links on the subheadings below. For CleanTechnica, I’m just excerpting specific points related to our focus.

Chris Murphy (Connecticut): Top Candidate For Senate

Chris Murphy is about as green as it gets, if I’m not illiterate or confused. He states:

  • “Renewable energy is the next big global industry, and we must work now to ensure those jobs stay in the U.S.”
  • "I support a national standard to drive development of renewable power technologies like wind, solar, fuel cells, and alternative fuels – a policy Connecticut and dozens of other states have already passed on their own."
  • "Northeastern states like Connecticut have already done important work on their own to limit greenhouse gas emissions, but they need a reliable partner at the federal level to help drive investments in clean, renewable technologies. Embracing new, alternative sources of energy not only means goods things for our air and our ecosystems, it means jobs: cutting-edge jobs in the high-tech manufacturing fields that our state has always excelled in."
  • "I've also fought hard for landmark climate change legislation that will drive private sector investment in the clean energy systems of the future."
  • "In Congress, I've also been a leader in the fight against global warming. The facts are clear, and those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of man-made climate change are not only failing to protect our environment, they're waging a war on science itself."
  • "Decades from now, I know that our environment will be viewed as one of the defining questions of our time. At the moment of crisis, were we willing to confront the challenges facing our natural world? Were we willing to protect the lands that provide our drinking water and grow our food? Were we willing to keep the air we breathe healthy and clean? We were able to enact the policies necessary unshackle us from the yoke of polluting, dirty energy? Or did we yield to the skeptics and the naysayers when their voices grew loudest and shrillest?"

If you live in Connecticut, vote for Chris Murphy and get your friends and family members to do the same! Seriously.

Again, for more on Chris’ take on other matters, check out the links above.

Sherrod Brown (Ohio) Deserves Your Vote

Sherrod Brown is another true cleantech champion, as I think the points below will show. Again, these are just a handful of key quotes from the links above:

  • “Sherrod has long recognized that a smart energy policy is also smart jobs policy and that Ohio is leading the nation. According to a report released by the Council of State Governments, Ohio led the country in the number of clean energy jobs created by the Recovery Act during the first reporting period.”
  • “Sherrod is a leading voice in Congress for policies [that] help manufacturers retool and expand their operations into clean energy production. He has consistently fought for tax credits to help Ohio's manufacturers, which have created hundreds of jobs in Ohio, more than almost any other state.”
  • “Sherrod also introduced legislation that would create a revolving loan fund to help auto suppliers and other small and mid-sized manufacturers improve their long-term competitiveness and retool for the clean energy economy. This legislation, known as the IMPACT Act, has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers as well as thousands of small and medium businesses who recognize the opportunities of a clean energy economy. An estimated 52,000 jobs could be created in Ohio under Brown's bill.”

Notably, Sherrod is the first Democrat The Columbus Dispatch has endorsed for Senate in 30 years!

Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts): A Kick-Ass Option For A Better Senate

Here are a few key quotes from top Massachusetts Senate contender Elizabeth Warren, followed by an infographic on the differences between Scott Brown and her:

  • "Right now, renewable energy competes with old energies that get lots of special breaks from Washington. We know that we can generate power with alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. We also know that we can make energy usage far more efficient. If we commit ourselves to clean energy and energy efficiency now, in the long run we can reduce price swings and lower our overall costs."
  • “Washington is going in the wrong direction.  It hands out massive tax breaks to energy companies that are among the most profitable corporations in the world, while people in Massachusetts and across the country pay the price…. The choice before us is simple. Will we continue to subsidize the dirty fossil fuels of the past, or will we transition to 21st century clean, renewable energy?”
  • “As long as we subsidize dirty sources like oil, gas, and coal, we threaten the air we breathe and the water we drink. In Massachusetts, 1 in 10 people have asthma. Pollution is a serious public health challenge – and our children’s well-being is at risk…. So long as we rely on oil and gas, we also threaten our national security. Reliance on oil and gas puts us at the mercy of OPEC. We are more likely to prop up foreign dictators or become entangled in wars that are about our energy needs rather than our long-term, strategic interests. And when we do wage war, we put our servicemen and women at risk: about 80% of convoys in Afghanistan are associated with fuel delivery, and there were 1,100 attacks on these convoys in 2010 alone.”
  • “Carbon-heavy fuels also intensify the risks of climate change. The science is unmistakable: Earth’s climate is changing and human activities are contributing to climate change. Climate change endangers our health and national security, it threatens agricultural production and the availability of clean water, and it risks floods and droughts.”
  • “Investing in clean energy technology is investing in our health, our environmental security, our national security, and our economic security.”

Warren looks like an obvious choice for Senate. And for the reasons above and many, many more, she has good odds of winning). Help get the word out and help get her elected by sharing this post or the pages linked above… or by campaigning for her in other ways.

 

I hope this post is useful to some of you. Feel free to chime in with thoughts, endorsements, or links of your own.

For endorsements and views on the presidential race, check out:


Election 2012: Who Wins On Energy Issues?

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 06:17 PM PST

 
Following up on my own examination of Obama’s and Romney’s stances on clean energy and other cleantech, as well as NRDC’s comparison of Obama and Romney on energy issues, here’s a good guest post from a friend of the site (originally published on Examiner.com):

The Presidential candidates’ views on energy issues differ dramatically.

President Obama has made crystal clear his priorities vis-a-vis the direction the United States should take on powering itself during the next four years, and far beyond. He was first to use the term “all of the above,” and he has applied it comprehensively.

Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor, has taken up the “all of the above” expression, only he uses it in a narrower and more immediate sense. His campaign favors fossil energy, making use of popular slogans like “Drill, baby, drill.” He envisions energy independence for North America (which includes production from vast oil resources belonging to Canada) by 2020 if we follow this prescription.

That goal eight years from now is about as far as Romney will go in terms of the future. His horizon is finite, as is his commitment to reversing climate change. Giving a minimal nod to renewable resources, he undermines his words by ignoring the financial fast track for renewables and steering investment money toward fossil fuel expansion and new nuclear development.

Obama has operated under (as President), and campaigns on, a strategy that stresses the importance of calling out all ways possible to supply American energy needs in the future. Let’s start with conventional resources:

  • Extensive use of natural gas and fracking technology to retrieve it.
  • Continued oil development, including first steps toward Arctic drilling and fast-tracking half of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
  • “Clean coal” (a misnomer).
  • Existing nuclear, and already permitted development.

He has also made clear in no uncertain terms that renewable energy, embraced and ambitiously pursued by most other nations of the world, is the wave of our future. Middle Eastern and North African oil companies are already putting Obama’s course into action.

Obama believes that we must have an orderly transition from one to the other. He has already put his words into action in many ways:

  • Opening up extensive federal lands in six western states for solar.
  • Supporting both onshore and offshore wind technologies.
  • Increasing low-pollution uses of biomass.
  • Piloting and encouraging development of other resources such as wave, tidal, and geothermal, and
  • using land-based hydropower, both conventional and run-of-river.

He has also admired hybrid power projects like the new 300-MW solar-wind plant in the West.

The energy issue reveals important differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates and their platforms. Romney‘s emphasizes exploitation of old, environmentally unsound, and limited fuel resources. His attitude toward funding embraces more financial breaks and continued subsidies for the petroleum industry. His affection for renewables is a recent concession and as such, still skin-deep. He looks no farther than two presidential terms.

Obama‘s plan, ambitious but believable, takes us as far as mid-century, and sometimes beyond. He continues on the path he has cut over the past four years. His measured reaction to Hurricane Sandy bears out the depth of his planning and capability to react in emergencies. He proposes financially viable solutions:

  • Photovoltaic solar energy, which now costs less than fossil and nuclear and has already met half of German energy needs.
  • Wind technology, proven both onshore and offshore and continuing to economize.
  • Ocean energy (wave and tidal), which has advanced so quickly that Scotland proposes to achieve 50% energy independence from ocean and wind within the next three years.
  • Biomass, a resource reuse strategy, which has developed enough to attract considerable investor interest.
  • Geothermal, proven for decades in California and embraced in Iceland’s energy-independent economy, which is now involved in transmission-sharing with the United Kingdom via 1,000-mile undersea cables.

Romney’s campaign relies on “love for America”–in energy terms, love for the past and the already mega-profitable. By contrast, Obama’s carefully considered long-range plans stand for hope, progress, and ultimately a better, less fearful world.


Where Does Your Recycled Phone End Up?

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 05:15 PM PST

 
Technology develops at a rapid rate and we are constantly updating the devices that we use, but what happens to the old version of our new tech toys? When you buy a new phone, does your old version lay forgotten in a drawer?

It's time to do something about the cell phone graveyard you are hoarding and get to recycling!

In the US alone, more than 130 million cell phones are retired each year. And, in 2003, less than 1% of these phones were actually recycled! (Statistics taken from USGS cell phone fact sheet.) These statistics don't look great for the environment, but there’s moment to increase that number significantly.

Assuming you are one of the green few who have been recycling your cell phones, have you ever wondered just what happens to your recycled phone?

Most companies now offer a 'take-back' program whereby they will take your old phone and recycle it for you, sometimes offering you a cash rebate. When your phone arrives with a take-back facility, a decision will be made as to the usability of your phone. If the phone is still workable, it will be refurbished and then resold or sent to a charity.

A prime example of the type of charity that accepts cell phones is Verizon's HopeLine program. The program donates phones with 3,000 free minutes to victims of domestic violence.

Refurbished phones are also resold in countries like Africa, where newer devices aren't as readily available.

If your phone really has gone to cell phone heaven, fear not! It can still be disposed of responsibly! The phone will be broken down and any usable parts will be sold. Any parts that can't be used will be sent to a smelter to be melted down. The liquids are then separated in order to be reconstituted. This process does produce some greenhouse gases but the smelting process produces environmental and monetary costs that are far lower than other mining processes. Typically, 1 ton of gold ore contains just .18 ounces of gold, but 1 ton of cell phone circuitry contains 40 times that amount.


 
When recycling your phone, it's imperative that you are aware of where the company you choose will send your phone. Some recycling facilities in China and Africa have been found to dismantle devices without correct environmental protection, or even protection for their workers, and have even disposed of waste in open fires.

To prevent this, aim to recycle your cell phone through companies that don't export non-working phones to developing countries, like Best Buy. Best Buy puts a lot of emphasis on environmental compliance and requires all of its partners, including third-party partners, to submit documentation stating their environmental compliance.

The rate at which technology is developing is something we can all be grateful for, but if we continue to dispose of our old tech devices incorrectly we will end up paying for it.

Sure, stay connected with 4g phones, but make sure you are recycling your old phones correctly to keep your tech clean!

Image: cell phone recycling image via Shutterstock


How We Screw Ourselves

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 12:27 PM PST

 

Screw via Shutterstock

It's very popular to complain about the government, to complain about politicians. However, when do we take responsibility for our role in the matter? Furthermore, criticizing government or politicians across the board is absurd — it's like criticizing food across the board, saying it is all bad for you.

All Food is Not Bad for You, and All Politicians Are Not Corrupt

As someone not obsessed with politics, but who follows it moderately (trying to do my civic duty), I can tell you that there are a lot of good politicians out there. There are a lot of people in the field of politics who are in the field because they want to help the world, or at least their country.

I don't think that's most politicians, but I'll get back to that point in a moment — for now, let's take a look at where you would be if it weren't for government or good politicians….

  • Would you have clean air and clean water (some of the cleanest in the world)? Chances are slim. Corporations would do what they please, pollute where they please, and let you die young without a thought. (See this and this.)
  • Would you be educated and have a relatively high standard of living? Unlikely. The U.S. is where it is today largely because of its high-quality education systems, especially made possible because of the basic education our governments provide. 
I'm not saying that hasn't been degrading, especially relative to the rest of the world — see this and this. And I'm not saying the U.S. has the best education system or standard of living. But it's still up there.
  • Think about the wide variety of foods you have available, the wide variety of goods, the wide variety of leisure activities — those things don't come from a failing government.

But…

The U.S. is far from perfect. We've got serious problems with:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Overwork
  • Poverty
  • A growing wealth divide
  • Pollution
  • Traffic
  • Deforestation
  • Lack of peace

Societal Problems Are Your Problems

You can put some of those problems on individuals if you are so inclined, but most (if not all) of those issues are issues that affect all of us, and all but the last (in my opinion) are the clear result of societal failures.

We are responsible for the policies our government sets, and what we allow corporations to do in the name of profit.

We are responsible for who is in office making the laws and regulations that guide our country.

Our Fault

The causes of the problems above are not just mistakes and are not simply “natural.” The causes are largely (if not in all cases) because corporate interests have more influence than societal interests.

And why is that?

Because society is not paying attention and/or working to ensure the government accounts for society's interests. (And, remember, society is you.)

It's actually quite simple. Some corporations, some products, have negative effects on your health and wellness. Government should step in and make sure the costs of those effects are internalized by the corporations and the price of the goods are thus more reflective of their true costs. That way, society wouldn't over-purchase things that have high indirect costs.

Collected fees should also be used to mitigate the negative effects as much as possible.

However… for the most part, we aren't paying attention to the issues. Corporations are able to invest a bit of their money into corrupt politicians who act on their behalf. Since many of us aren't paying attention (and sharing information — real information, not propaganda), a few 30-second commercials and substance-less pep rallies get corrupt or confused politicians elected into office.

Solution?

The solution certainly isn't to kill government. That just gives such corporations more power.

It certainly isn't to be cynical and leave politics for other people. Again, that just puts us in a worse position.

The best solutions, to start, are:

  • Know who you vote for and what they actually do in office.
  • Inform others who might not know what’s going on.
  • Know what issues really need addressed and how to best address them, according to the best research and science out there.

Do Your Bit

Do your bit this election. Inform yourself before voting, go vote, and get others to do so as well!

Reposted from ZacharyShahan.com


Obama Endorsement Follow-Up

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 11:41 AM PST

 
I think that, based on the evidence presented yesterday, if you’re voting for president based on energy or environmental matters, Obama’s the clear option. But if you like to base your vote on matters beyond this realm, you might find the facts below to be a convincing case for reelecting Obama. The facts and links to more info concern the economy, jobs, health care (or Obamacare), equal rights, and more. Some of them are also notes regarding matters I expounded on yesterday.

Obama Facts: 12 Facts About Obama's Record

The Obama campaign just passed along the 12 facts below about Obama. As someone who follows politics quite closely, I think it was a good list to put together. As just noted, there are numerous other cleantech, climate, and other environmental topics Obama has scored big points on, but if you have a ‘broader’ view, these are probably some important matter for you, too:

Who should you be voting for?


Cracks In America’s Nuclear Safety Exposed By Super Storm Sandy

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 04:15 AM PST

 
While the frankenstorm Sandy left devastation throughout many of the large urban areas of the Northeast, including New York City, it could have been much worse. It didn’t trigger an emergency at any of the many nuclear power plants located in the area.

nuclear power plants us

While damage done to the transit system and other infrastructure is temporarily debilitating, it can be recovered from. If there is a disaster similar to Fukushima in the area, which is something that is very possible, it could have devastating and far-reaching effects.

Watchdog groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have been continually warning that many of America’s nuclear facilities are very vulnerable to a wide variety of possible catastrophic events; including natural disasters, terrorism, and cyber-attack. Many of these groups have been arguing that current federal regulations are completely inadequate to deal with all of these possible disaster scenarios.

As an example, The Guardian notes: “A 2011 study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory warns that a massive solar storm could knock out electricity in some areas for weeks, overwhelming the capacity of many nuclear plants to keep their critical cooling systems operational.”

Even with this knowledge, though, nuclear power plants are not currently required to guard against the effects of these solar storms.

As noted by the director of UCS’s nuclear safety project, David Lochbaum, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses plants based simply on what has occurred in the recent past, with no real assessment of future risks.

And recent past events are in no way a measure of the worst that can happen, which is something that should be considered when dealing with something as dangerous as nuclear power. Case in point: Fukushima.

“The Daichi plant was located behind a seawall that was high enough to protect against the kind of flooding that Japan had seen previously. But nobody had considered the possibility that a monster tsunami could breach the wall.”

The power plant’s 13 backup generators all broke down within an hour of the earthquake after being flooded by the unpredicted tsunami. Because of this, the absolutely critical cooling system failed completely.

“Is it prudent public policy to operate facilities of such immense hazard on such tenuous assumptions?” Lochbaum asks. Saying that, Hurricane Sandy is further proof that it is necessary to develop solutions to America’s ineffective regulatory system now, not after a disaster occurs.


 
As Lochbaum notes, “the risks of nuclear power generation are magnified by the fact that the plants are always located near a river, lake or ocean. That is because producing nuclear power creates a lot of heat, which needs to be dissipated by huge volumes of water. These cooling systems are all that prevents the plutonium in reactor cores from going critical and melting down, much like what happened at Fukushima.”

By being located in these areas, though, they are very vulnerable to storm surge, flooding, and sea level rise.

“One facility was put in a state of ‘high alert’ during Sandy due to high-water levels in its water intake structure. The Oyster Creek Generating Station on Barnegat Bay – 40 miles north of Atlantic City, and the oldest nuclear facility in the nation – was shut down last week for refueling.”

Even when a plant is not actively making electricity it still requires it in order to keep the old fuel cool. Truly decommissioning a plant takes a long time because of this, especially in plants that use fuel containing plutonium. “So, 300 employees stayed at Oyster Creek, Monday night, to ensure that the imperiled cooling system continued to function.”

To give an even more compelling example: “Thirty-four reactors, fully a third of those in the US, are sited along rivers with dams upstream. A report released last March by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggests that many of these plants were not designed to withstand the massive floods that catastrophic dam collapse would unleash.”

“According to the NRC’s own calculations … the odds of the dam near the Oconee plant [operated by Duke Energy in South Carolina] failing at some point over the next 22 years are far higher than were the odds of an earthquake-induced tsunami causing a meltdown at the Fukushima plant.”

This should sound truly alarming to anyone that would rather not see a repeat of Fukushima, or worse.

But incredibly, this information was blacked out in the NRC’s public report. The only reason that it is even known is because it was leaked by the study’s lead author, Richard H Perkins. He is quoted as saying that his work was censored because it revealed that:

“The NRC has been in possession of relevant, notable, and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it.”

Another section of the report was also redacted because it revealed that the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska could be completely overwhelmed by the failure of the Oahe or Fort Randall dams, experiencing water levels much higher than the plant’s flood protection walls.

The NRC has been widely accused by its critics of withholding critical information, but also, and perhaps worse, of not even enforcing the regulations that are already in place.

Lochbaum continues: “I’m most concerned about the NRC’s practice of allowing unsafe reactors to operate. UCS’s Nuclear Power Information Tracker shows 47 reactors that NRC knows to violate fire protection regulations and 27 reactors with seismic protection known to be less than the seismic hazards they face. These pre-existing vulnerabilities mean that the American public is protected more by luck than by skill.”

With monster storms like Sandy expected to become much more common in the coming years, something really needs to be done to ensure the ability of these power plants to safely endure storms. Or they should simply be shut down.

Source: The Guardian
Image Credits: PR


Internet By Bike Rolls Through Bangladeshi Villages

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 04:05 AM PST

 
Internet access to gain information and contact loved ones is rolling through Bangladesh one bicycle at a time.

Info Ladies bike into villages with Internet connected laptops, allowing local women to Skype with loved ones and look up information. The project was created in 2008 by D.Net, a development group, and other community organizations. D.Net recruits women who are usually undergraduates from middle class rural families and trains them for three months in computer, Internet, printer, and camera usage.

After training, D.Net arranges loans for the Info Ladies to buy bicycles and equipment for their rolling Internet caf├ęs. The Info Ladies then charge about $2.40 for an hour of Skype time.
 

 
The Info Ladies don’t just sling Internet services, but also informational sessions for teenage girls about HIV, contraception, and menstrual hygiene. They also discuss the proper use of fertilizers and insecticides with farmers, help villagers write complaints to authorities about problems with government services, and check blood pressure and blood sugar levels. And for an additional fee of 12 cents, the Info Ladies have been known to help fill out college applications.

Today, there are about 60 Info Ladies working around Bangladesh. D. Net’s Executive Director Ananya Raihan is aiming to have 15,000 women trained as Info Ladies by 2016.

Those 15,000 Info Ladies would have a huge impact on getting the 147 million Bangladeshi Internet access. Currently, only about 5 million people have Internet access in the country.

D.Net modeled Info Ladies from the 2004 project Mobile Ladies that sent rural women into villages with working mobile phones. That project had played a role in helping more than 92 million Bangladeshis get cellphone access.

Source: Yahoo News
Image:  Bangladesh digital rendering via Shutterstock


Wind Costs Continued To Fall In Past Four Years: Report

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 04:00 AM PST

 
Maintenance and capital costs for wind energy have continued to drop in recent years, according to a recent report.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes that, for onshore wind projects, operation and maintenance (O&M) costs have declined dramatically from €30,906 per megawatt (MW) in 2008 to €19,200/MW in 2012, a decrease of just over 11% a year, or a total of 38% for the period as a whole.

“O&M services have become an increasingly important revenue stream for manufacturers as the installed base of turbines has grown, and particularly during the industry's current slowdown,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance notes. “Turbine manufacturers have been competing hard for service contracts, resulting in keener pricing.”

Meanwhile, survey participants believe O&M wind turbine costs will continue to stay steady until 2015, helping to make wind energy a more affordable energy investment choice.

"Wind power has done much to improve its competitiveness against gas-fired and coal-fired generation in recent years, via lower-cost, more technically advanced turbines, and more sophisticated siting and management of wind farms," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich.

"This new O&M Price Index shows that servicing wind farms at the operating stage is also becoming much more cost-efficient," he said.

For those who do not know, O&M costs include unscheduled and scheduled maintenance, and replacing component parts (gear boxes, turbine blades, and generators). These are very important in order to make sure wind farms run effectively and efficiently.
 

 
Bloomberg's O&M price report consisted of data covering 104 undisclosed and disclosed O&M contracts from the Americas and Europe, contracts which involved 38 of the top wind developers.

Some other interesting statistics from the first of two yearly O&M reports include:

  • Average length of an operations and maintenance contract has increased by almost 2.5 years, from 4.5 years in 2008 to 6.9 years in 2012, citing manufacturers' willingness to go for more long-term contracts.
  • The United States showed the most competitive O&M pricing, while the United Kingdom and Eastern European countries had the highest costs. Narrower local supply chains in both the UK and in Eastern Europe and higher wage costs were likely factors in contributing towards the UK and Eastern Europe's less competitive costs.

As renewable energy sectors continue to mature, reports like this one will continue to give a firm gage on how these emerging industries are maturing. By looking over the numbers, the wind industry looks like it is blowing in the right direction.

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance


Philips Reveal World’s Smartest LED Light Bulb

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 03:41 AM PST

 
Philips has revealed the world’s first Web-enabled LED home light system available directly to the consumer via Apple stores (exclusively).

The Philips hue kit includes three LED bulbs that will fit into any standard light fixture and a bridge that connects to existing wireless routers.

Consumers will be able to control the hue from any iOS or Android smart phone after downloading the hue app, allowing them to gain extra security, personal lighting experiences, and manage daily lighting schedules.

Philips hue, the Smartest LED Web-enabled lighting system

"Philips hue is a game changer in lighting," said Bruno Biasiotta, CEO and President of Philips Lighting North America. "Just as our experiences with phones, televisions and movies have evolved, thanks to hue, we'll never look at or interact with lighting in the same way again. At Philips, we continue to redefine the art of the possible with LED technology, and hue pushes the boundaries even more, not just in offering great light quality, but in how lighting can be digitized and integrated with our world to further simplify and enhance our lives."

Philips hue can:

  • Eliminate the guesswork in what bulb to buy, offering tunable white light, from cool to warm based on personal preference
  • Achieve a color rendering index of over 90 in the white range, closely mimicking the color qualities of an incandescent
  • Provide more than 16 million colors to customize the lighting in each room
  • Be set as a gentle wake up light or help one go to sleep
  • Relive personal experiences by mimicking the colors in photos by simply dragging and dropping within the app
  • Turn on/turn off lights when not at home
  • Save light settings and easily recall them from a smart device
  • Manage up to 50 hue bulbs from one device and allow each bulb to be controlled individually
  • Reduce energy consumption with 8.5 watt bulbs that are 80% more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs

Source: Forum Media


The Climate Group Calls For An ‘American Clean Revolution’ To Avert Catastrophic Effects Of Climate Change and Kick-Start US Economy

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 03:32 AM PST

 
We still have time… possibly. But we need to move our asses. And the quicker we move our asses, the less catastrophe the world will have to face from climate change and the instability, economic crises, natural disasters, and other problems it will create. Thanks to The Climate Group for starting a new push to address climate change while boosting the economy! Here’s more on that:



The Climate Group Calls for an 'American Clean Revolution' to Avert Catastrophic Effects of Climate Change and Kick-Start US Economy (via Green Building Elements)

The Climate Group called today for an "American Clean Revolution", a massive scale-up of investment in cleantech and renewable energy, as a way to future-proof America's infrastructure, avert catastrophic extreme weather events resulting from climate change, and boost the US economy. In a report…




China To Build Walkable, Environmentally Sensitive “Great City”

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 03:18 AM PST

 
Forget about following the yellow brick road — more like yellow brick bike or walking path. China is now scheduled to begin construction on Chengdu Tianfu District Great City, a model city of “high-density urban living and sustainable development,” says Adrian Smith, director of the design process.

Chengdu Great City, artistic representation © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Great City is aiming to house 30,000 families, or about 80,000 people in a 1.3 square-kilometer area outside of Chengdu, China. This Great City is earning its moniker by shooting to achieve 48% less energy use; 56% less water usage; 60% less carbon dioxide generation; and 89% less landfill waste compared to developments of similar size and population, according to Planetizen.

In order to make these green benchmarks feasible, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture have designed the city to be entirely walkable (no mention of EV charging stations), getting from any one location to another in Great City within 15 minutes. Great City will be connected to mass transit for transport to surrounding areas.

But what about green energy sources? (Looks like Masdar City could beat out Great City for world’s most sustainable urban center.)
 

 
Great City is planned to sit on a 3 square-kilometer plot outside of Chengdu. Of that 3 square kilometers, about 320 acres will be for urban purposes and 480 acres will be “buffer landscape,” according to E-Architect. The “natural topography — including valleys and bodies of water — will be integrated into the city itself. Within the city, 15 percent of the land will be devoted to parks and landscaped space, while 60 percent will be parcelized for construction. The remaining 25 percent will be devoted to infrastructure, roads and pedestrian streets.”

In the city limits, residents will have access to commercial, residential, office and manufacturing centers, as well as a medical campus.

The project is estimated to take eight years to complete and will be developed by Beijing Vanton Real Estate Co., Ltd.

Image: Courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture


New LEED Platinum Green Prefab Homes With An Affordable Price Tag Unveiled By Living Homes

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 03:10 AM PST

 
The green modern prefab company Living Homes has been becoming more and more competitive with custom-built home companies. Its new product line has prices as low as $145 per square foot. When you consider that the homes will likely be certified LEED platinum, that’s actually rather impressive.

20121103-222745.jpg

Its new “CK” homes are a breakthrough product line for them. This will be the first time that you can get a modern two story home that possesses a comprehensive environmental program for less money than it would cost to build a conventional home in many large US cities.

20121103-222756.jpg

Here’s an overview of some of the home’s environmental features:

  • Zero Energy: Energy efficient lighting and appliances, smart heating/AC control system to reduce power usage.
  • Zero Carbon/Waste: Recycled materials & Cradle to Cradle inspired materials. Carbon off-set included in purchase price to counter energy used to create the home.
  • Zero Water: Low flow water fixtures. Grey water ready system.
  • Zero Emissions: No VOC paint. Formaldehyde-free millwork.
  • Zero Ignorance: Real time feedback on energy usage



 
With such a comprehensive environmental package, and an affordable price, the prefab homes could certainly find a place in the ‘green’ homes market of today.

Source: TreeHugger
Image Credits: Living Homes


One-Minute Bio-Oil From Algae?

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 03:06 AM PST

 
Researchers at the University of Michigan have been experimenting with cooking green marine micro-algae and found that one minute is all it took to get 65% of their source material transformed into biocrude. They also used a wet algae, rather than having to dry it in the manner that is used in the more conventional process.

Microalgenkwekerij1.jpg

Their wet algae sample was placed in a steel tube and then inserted into extremely hot sand for one minute. After this very brief placement, the algae’s temperature was about 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Before using this sort of flash cooking method, the researchers were using cooking times of ten minutes or more. The benefit of having to cook the source material for only one minute is obvious for saving time, but doing so seemed contradictory to the previous thinking. The shorter cooking temperature might actually be more in sync with the algae’s potential to be transformed into bio-oil, because it produces fewer unnecessary chemical reactions.

Another potential benefit is that smaller bio-reactors could be all that is required, which means lower construction costs.
 

 
While these kinds of results are very impressive, they currently exist in lab conditions, not in large-scale, viable commercial facilities. So, though an area the size of New Mexico dedicated to producing algae for bio-oil is a tantalizing notion because of the potential for replacing petroleum, there are still many hurdles to clear and kinks to work out. One day, it might be possible to create huge volumes of plant-based oils for vehicle fuel. Anyone who follows energy issues knows if that should come to any fruition it would be helpful to the domestic economy and perhaps even international relations.

If the Pentagon is the number one consumer of energy in the world, offsetting the consumption of foreign oil with home-grown algal oil would be a great boon.

 Image Credit: JanB46, Wiki Commons


The Elections You Aren’t Paying Attention To Are The Important Ones

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 02:30 AM PST

 
OK, I’m not going to lie, the presidential election is important, but congressional and state elections may be equally or more important (I’d say “more important” with no hesitation).

The sad thing is, we are so uninvolved and ill-informed in “smaller elections” that we often get what we are given rather than what we would most benefit from.

The hilarious (and by hilarious, I mean hilariously sad) thing about the nonstop attacks on how much Obama has or hasn’t done for the economy in the past 4 years is that much more hasn’t been achieved than was possible simply because we’ve had the most grid-locked Congress in recent history (if not all of US history), with the grid lock being led by obstructionist GOP congresspeople who made it their top priority to make Obama unsuccessful and a one-term president (seriously, this was stated by GOP leadership in 2012). This has even meant harming the country and holding it hostage on numerous occasions. (Nonetheless, we’re still in a much better economic position than we were in when Obama took office.)

A semi-informed citizen might say that Democrats had majorities in the House and Senate for two years, but the fact of the matter is that Republicans in congress used the filibuster a record-shattering number of times in those two years in order to make a majority nearly useless (as well as engaging in other obstructionist tactics).


 
Anyway, to the topic of cleantech, in particular: GOP members of congress have been so opposed to societal progress on cleantech that one is at a complete loss when trying to understand the lack of morals that could lead them to so unabashedly forsake the type of progressive, forward-thinking leadership that made the US a true world leader. They have focused countless hours on dead-end cleantech witch hunts, bills opposed to solar and wind energy (notably, energy options that actually have the support of their Republican constituents in most cases), bills opposed to electric vehicles and mass transit, and bills opposed to energy efficiency (which should, again, be a shoe-in).

Meanwhile, they have fought vehemently to retain subsidies for some of the richest companies and industries in the world, subsidies that support the reckless extraction and burning of coal and oil that cost us trillions of dollars a year.

The fact that cleantech support creates several times more jobs than fossil fuel support should make voters just that much more fed up with Republicans in Congress.

Quite simply, I think that if you are voting for a Republican congressperson this election, you have not well evaluated what they actually support and oppose.

(Btw, if you are at all unclear as to why Republicans in congress are so supportive of the fossil fuel industry, perhaps take a stroll through this Open Secrets page, especially noting #8 and #40 on the list, and where the vast majority of fossil fuel political spending goes.)

That Said, Be Very Clear that I Didn’t Say All Republicans Are Horrible

As I noted above multiple times, millions of Republican voters support clean energy governmental support, and also oppose continued fossil fuel support.

Additionally, many cleantech-leading states are run by Republicans. And the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association was formerly a leading state Republican.

In fact, there is absolutely no ideological reason why Republicans should be opposed to clean tech, and there are several reasons why they should support it — solar is a clear way for people to be more self-reliant; solar, wind, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles are clear solutions that could lead our nation to energy independence; conservation of the water, air, and climate resources we rely on for a healthy and long life seem like they should have the full support of ‘conservatives’; cutting our debt with cleantech and climate change initiatives that would (by any independent evaluation) result in jobs and net income to the country also seems like an obvious thing to support.

But, basically, the end message is that you need to look into the people running for election in your district, and the other matters on your ballot, in order to know who and what is really worthy of your support… and you’ve got about one day left to do so.

Reposted from ZacharyShahan.com


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