LED bulbs save substantial energy

LED bulbs save substantial energy:

The study results show that over the entire life of the bulb — from manufacturing to disposal — the energy used for incandescent bulbs is almost five times that used for compact fluorescents and LED lamps.

The energy used during the manufacturing phase of all lamps is insignificant — less than 2 percent of the total. Given that both compact fluorescents and LEDs use about 20 percent of the electricity needed to create the same amount of light as a standard incandescent, both lighting technologies put incandescents to shame.

I bought my first LED bulb last night. The 25 watt equivalent bulb consumes 6 watts of electricity, and is supposed to last up to 20 years. The 'warm white' light is definitely whiter than incandescent bulbs, but lacks the faint green cast of compact fluorescents.

Osmotic power

This idea is entirely new to me. Osmosis is being used to generate electricity in a pilot project in Norway:

Freshwater and saltwater are channeled into separate chambers, separated by an artificial membrane. The salt molecules in the seawater draw the freshwater through the membrane, causing the pressure on the seawater side to increase. This pressure is equivalent to a water column of 120 meters or, in other words, quite a significant waterfall. This pressure can be used in a turbine to make electricity.

Boreal forests provide major carbon sink

Climate Progress highlights the dramatic role of the Boreal Forests in the long-term sequestration of carbon:

The global boreal forest circles the northern portion of our globe, carefully edging along the southern arctic through Russia, Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska. A report out today by the Canadian Boreal Initiative and Boreal Songbird Initiative states that the boreal forest stores as much as 703 billion tons of carbon in its trees, peatlands, and soils – this amounts to nearly twice the storage capacity per unit area as tropical forests.

This is something we need to be aware of here in Canada:

Around 30% of Canada’s Boreal Forest has been designated for logging, and this number becomes much higher when including mining and oil and gas leases. A recent report by Global Forest Watch Canada (link 3) found that the oil extraction technique of strip-mining large underground deposits of bitumen (often called ‘tar sands’ due to its thick texture prior to being separated from clays and soils) has devastated a landscape in Alberta of 686 km2, holding up to 21 million tons of carbon.

Solar heating

SAB Magazine has a fantastic overview of various solar heating systems, from solar absorption chillers to solar furnaces, in its latest issue:

This time around the infrastructure is in place to support the growth of this promising industry. This momentum has created a new threshold of cost effectiveness, and a new design logic that supports making all new southerly-sloped roofs into free energy collectors.

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority

SAB Magazine has a nice write up of the LEED Gold centre for the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Follow the link for some gorgeous shots of the building:

The 1,600 sq.m office and conservation centre has cut the need for potable water by 70%, and passive heating, high-efficiency boilers, and heat recovery ventilators have reduced energy use by 42%. The building has become a destination to learn about LEED construction, and best practices in water conservation and on-site septic treatment.

I toured this building last fall and was taken with its beauty, and its water conscious design which captures rainwater from the roof and encircles the building with a stream of water leading to a constructed wetland.

Climate Day: Fill the Hill

Come out to Parliament Hill tomorrow for the International Day of Climate Action:

On October 24 – International Day of Climate Action – millions of us in virtually every country on earth will stand in solidarity for a sustainable future. Canada is responding with a movement that rustled in the grassroots, became a whisper on the wind, and has grown to a chant nationwide: FILL THE HILL!

This Saturday: 4000 events, 170 countries

This Saturday: 4000 events, 170 countries to send the message that we need to take action on climate change:

Dear friends,

For 20 years the world has managed to do very little about the greatest problem it's ever faced. In five days time, you can help change that--and if you step up you're going to have a lot of company!

It looks like the International Day of Climate Action this Saturday October 24th will be the single most widespread day of political action the planet has ever seen--we're closing in on 170 nations, and more than 4000 rallies and events.

There's almost certainly an event happening near you--if you're not sure what, this link will let you find out quickly and easily:


People in all those cities and towns all around the world will be saying the same thing: science tells us that we can't have more than 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere if we want a planet like the one we were born onto. That sounds complicated, but it isn't--350 is the bottom line for the earth.

Small scale, low cost solar

The Green Inc. Blog has an interesting profile of ToughStuff, a small start-up in Africa working on distributing personal solar panels for powering such things as cell phones and small lights:

For decades, governments and non-governmental organizations have been trying to bring electricity to the world’s poorest and most isolated regions through million-dollar donations and large-scale projects.

A small start-up company, headquartered in the Republic of Mauritius off the southeastern coast of Africa, is pursuing what it considers a different tack: a market-based approach, employing local villagers, selling rudimentary solar panels and focusing on small-scale, personal electricity use.

Yes We Can (Pass Climate Change Legislation)

John Kerry, Democratic senator of Massachusetts, and Lindsay Graham, Republican senator of South Carolina and staunch ally of John McCain, join forces in this op-ed contribution to the New York Times:

... we refuse to accept the argument that the United States cannot lead the world in addressing global climate change. We are also convinced that we have found both a framework for climate legislation to pass Congress and the blueprint for a clean-energy future that will revitalize our economy, protect current jobs and create new ones, safeguard our national security and reduce pollution.

Our partnership represents a fresh attempt to find consensus that adheres to our core principles and leads to both a climate change solution and energy independence. It begins now, not months from now — with a road to 60 votes in the Senate.

(Via Climate Progress.)

Energy efficiency a core strategy of the climate and clean energy bill

Good news from Climate Progress:

Energy efficiency alone could cheaply--and often profitably--provide two-thirds the necessary greenhouse gas reductions to reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050--a level based on the science-driven conclusion that the risks of dangerous climate impacts rise sharply as planetary warming exceeds 2°C from preindustrial levels. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454—which passed the House and is now pending in the Senate—recognizes and invests in the economic benefits of energy efficiency.

The bill would provide up to $65 billion in allowances from 2012 to 2020 for state and local government energy efficiency programs ... The state and local programs in ACES would create up to 137,000 jobs in 2015 from energy efficiency investments that year. It would save consumers up to $63 billion on their electricity bills from 2012-2020, while reducing enough greenhouse gas pollution during this period to equal taking 26.5 million cars off the road.

Building energy use in America

Steven Chu shares this useful chart breaking down the energy use of residential and commercial building in the US. Buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of the total energy used in the US every year. It is interesting to note that heating dominates residential buildings' energy use while lighting dominates commercial buildings' energy use.

(Via Jetson Green.)

SAB Awards 2009

The Sustainable Architecture and Building Magazine, or SAB Magazine for short, has posted some short profiles of their 2009 SAB Award winning green buildings on their website:

The SAB Awards recognize excellence in the design and execution of new and renovated Canadian buildings and interiors of all types based on criteria of sustainable design, architectural excellence and technical innovation. The jury of the 2009 SAB Canadian Green Building Awards has recognized six buildings from Quebec, Ontario and BC that point the way to the future of sustainable building in Canada.

The Solar Decathlon

Jetson Green has some beautiful photos of the 20 Solar Decathlon homes in Washington DC:

In a few hours, the U.S. Department of Energy will announce final results of the Solar Decathlon at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Solar Decathlon is a competition of 20 teams of college and university students to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

World Habitat Day

From Habitat for Humanity

Let's stand up on World Habitat Day and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere—in our communities, in our towns, in our country, in our world.

The United Nations has designated the first Monday each October as World Habitat Day.

This year on Oct. 5 in Washington, D.C. and around the world, please join Habitat for Humanity in support of this global observance as we come together and declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.

Multinational corporations push for action on climate change

Climate Progress reports on an open letter to the senate in which a group of multinational corporations, including Bumble Bee, Dell, DuPont, FPL, Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Nike, PG&E and Xanterra, urges the Senate to pass a bill this year that will cut GHG emissions and "jumpstart a clean energy economy". From the letter:

"We have reformed business practices in order to curb emissions. In our experience, these changes have not only been good for the climate, they’ve been good for business."

Very interesting.

Lewis Pugh swims the North Pole in a Speedo

In order to raise awareness about climate change Lewis Pugh swam one kilometre across the North Pole with no more protection than a Speedo and a pair of goggles. Keep in mind that the temperature of the salt water at the North Pole, -1.8 Celcius, is below the freezing point of fresh water. This means that his fingers start to freeze from the moment he enters the water.

The northwest passage

I never thought I would see this happen in my lifetime:

The  enterprising Arctic voyage of two German cargo carriers, the  Beluga Foresight and Beluga Fraternity, is nearing its end. The ships, departing Siberia, are poised to complete the last leg of a journey that began in Ulsan, South Korea, in late July as they take 3,500 tons of cargo to Rotterdam later this month. In doing so they will complete the first known commercial shipment from Asia to Europe via the Arctic —  a centuries-old dream of mariners, after nearly 500 years of dreaming about such a trade route.

(Via Dot Earth.)