I just finished transferring my site over to Squarespace. I'm hoping to start posting to my blog again now that this is up and running.
I'm very excited about this proposal for a Building Performance Simulation & Analysis group on Stack Exchange. It looks like it could be an awesome resource for building energy modellers. Check out these inspiring write-ups by Clayton Miller and Jamie Bull for more information, go join the site, and start voting!
Check out this awesome thermostat from one of the inventors of the iPod. It programs itself automatically by tracking how the occupants of the house set their thermostat, when they go to sleep and when they are away.
Many of us here stir and strive in the spirit of applied hope. We work to make the world better, not from some airy theoretical hope, but in the pragmatic and grounded conviction that starting with hope and acting out of hope can cultivate a different kind of world worth being hopeful about, reinforcing itself in a virtuous spiral. Applied hope is not about some vague, far-off future but is expressed and created moment by moment through our choices.
Hope, said Frances Moore Lappé, “is a stance, not an assessment.” But applied hope is not mere glandular optimism. The optimist treats the future as fate, not choice, and thus fails to take responsibility for making the world we want. Applied hope is a deliberate choice of heart and head. The optimist, says David Orr, has his feet up on the desk and a satisfied smirk knowing the deck is stacked. The person living in hope has her sleeves rolled up and is fighting hard to change or beat the odds. Optimism can easily mask cowardice. Applied hope requires fearlessness.
Interesting quote in this article on the strength of Germany’s economy and it’s manufacturing sector:
Germany’s economy is running rings around America’s. “What we have here is stakeholder capitalism, not shareholder capitalism”.
For several years now, the good news in the U.S. has come from local governments that are choosing not to wait for federal legislation to take the necessary action. In a three-year nationwide survey, the American Institute of Architects found that 138 cities that are home to more than 50,000 inhabitants had developed green building programs. This represents more than 53 million Americans in total, or about 17 percent of the country! The West coast leads the trend, with 56 cities that have implemented green building programs, but the East coast is rapidly catching up, with a 76 percent increase in the number of such cities since 2007.
The latest issue of Canadian Facilities Management and Design (October 2010, sadly unavailable online) has an interesting article on elevator dispatch technology. The idea is that when someone approaches the elevator bank, they enter in the floor they want to go to on a console rather than a simple up/down button. The console then tells them which elevator to get on. The dispatch system optimizes travel by grouping people who want to go to similar locations, reducing the number of trips and waiting time. Because the elevator system operates more effectively and efficiently it can save over 30% on energy and get people where they want to go in less time. Cool, eh.
Support Habitat for Humanity on Monday, October 4 - Designated by the UN as World Habitat Day:
Oct. 4, 2010, in recognition of World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity will raise awareness of the need for improved shelter and highlight Habitat’s priorities: the worldwide connection between human health and housing, and, in the United States, neighborhood revitalization. These themes echo the United Nations’ chosen theme for 2010 for events in the host city of Shanghai, China and the rest of the world: “Better City, Better Life.”
Worldchanging shares a hopeful message about the Amazon rainforest:
“Market forces and Brazil’s political will are converging in an unprecedented opportunity to end deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon with 80 percent of the forest still standing,” said Daniel Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center and lead author of the study. Since 2005, Brazil has reduced the rate of deforestation by 64 percent. According to the study, an investment of $6.5 to $18 billion in several areas from 2010 to 2020 can help Brazil end deforestation.
Wired has a nice article on the history of Tesla, the new electric car company that demonstrated what might be possible by making it’s dashing Roadster:
The auto industry began to take notice of the little startup with the big ideas. In January 2007, GM unveiled a prototype electric vehicle called the Chevrolet Volt. In an interview with Newsweek, Bob Lutz, then GM’s vice chair, said, “If some Silicon Valley startup can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it’s unfeasible.” That same year, Daimler unveiled plans to develop an electric version of its Smart car. Suddenly, the major carmakers were moving into electrics so fast that Tesla risked being left behind by the wave it had generated.
California regulators have licensed what is for the moment the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, a 1,000-megawatt complex called the Blythe Solar Power Project to be built in the Mojave Desert.
September 20-26, 2010 will be an action-filled week globally as it marks World Green Building Week. Countries around the world will hold events in major cities with the aim of raising the profile of green building.
Saving energy isn’t as hard as we think it is folks. Craig Henderson just made a trip in a light, aerodynamic car that looks fairly ordinary at 119.1 miles per gallon! The key innovation is the light weight of the car which is partly made out of carbon fibre. The kicker is that this car was completed in 1984. See also http://www.100mpgplus.com.
Joe Romm has an excellent hopeful post on strategies to reduce global warming emissions in the absence of action from the entangled senate.
An intriguing air-conditioning process that dries incoming hot, humid air using a desiccant and then cools the air using evaporative cooling is being refined by NREL:
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process with the potential of using 50 percent to 90 percent less energy than today’s top-of-the-line units. It uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before in the centuries-old science of removing heat from the air.
“The idea is to revolutionize cooling, while removing millions of metric tons of carbon from the air,” NREL mechanical engineer Eric Kozubal, co-inventor of the Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner (DEVap), said.
“We’d been working with membranes, evaporative coolers and desiccants. We saw an opportunity to combine them into a single device for a product with unique capabilities.”
A beautiful and haunting video about the ravaging of the ocean by humankind, followed by a hopeful lesson from the incredible success of marine reserves in New Zealand:
I love this new concept from the Rocky Mountain Institute. They also have a video called Fuel without Fear that drives home a powerful point: how do we move to a new energy economy that doesn’t terrify us with it’s potential for damage.