energy

EMPOWERED: No power plant required!

EMPOWERED: No power plant required!

Trailer for “Empowered: Power from the People” from Shira Golding Evergreen on Vimeo.

Sure, you’d love to power at least part of your home on renewable energy, but the local infrastructure isn’t there yet: no nearby wind farm, no solar or geothermal installers. And, besides, it really isn’t that windy where you live.

That’s the kind of mindset that fossil fuels have given us: we really can’t go out and drill our own oil and gas, or mine our own coal, so we’ve assumed largely that energy is something that others have to provide for us. But part of the beauty of renewables is their availability: we all get some sun, wind, or geothermal heat, and with a little elbow grease, we can harvest that energy – no power company or massive centralized plant needed.

Green tech finds: the very unsexy edition

Green tech finds: the very unsexy edition

What do scooters, bike helmets, and building retrofits have in common? None of them are particularly cool, but they’re all here in this week’s green tech finds.

Green tech finds: the energy from the sea edition

Green tech finds: the energy from the sea edition

Electricity from lobsters? Kelp as a model for renewable energy generation? Yep, we’ve got those stories, and more, in this week’s green tech finds.

Wearing used coffee pods: Single-use coffee machines are convenient, but you end up with all of those used pods you have to throw away, right? Designer Rachel Rodwell saw potential in those pods, and her Podtex concept uses them as materials for clothing and jewelry. See how she transforms them in the video above. (via Do the Green Thing)

Sometimes NIMBY is good: ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA

Sometimes NIMBY is good: ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA

“Not in my backyard” – it’s an attitude environmentalists frequently encounter when proposed renewable energy installations move closer to becoming real ones. The Cape Wind project, for instance, has encountered stiff resistance from wealthy part-time residents of Cape Cop who, while supporting renewable energy in general, don’t want their view spoiled. That’s a fairly easy example of the NIMBY attitude to dismiss, as are those involving resistance to most wind projects.

But what if a coal or nuclear plant was planned for nearby? Would you want to be “downstream” from either of those? Would the label NIMBY seem fair for those who protested such development? If you think so, you may want to check out ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA, which premieres on January 23rd at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Weekly Kickstarter Picks, 8/15/11

Weekly Kickstarter Picks, 8/15/11

We’re starting off the week with our second batch of donation-worthy Kickstarter projects. What’s this all about, you ask? Well, it seems like everyone is pitching their idea to Kickstarter. We think that’s great, but with great power comes great responsibility, and while the 23-person Kickstarter team does their best to filter out the winning projects from the thousands and thousands of proposals they receive, there are still literally tens of thousands of new projects that launch each week. That’s a lot of ways to spend your hard-earned five bucks. Too many ways, actually. How can one person sort through it all? Relax, we’ll do it all for you, starting right now with this week’s Kickstarter Picks.

Poop-powered lighting planned for Arizona dog park

Poop-powered lighting planned for Arizona dog park

Last Fall, we took a quick look at the Park Spark Project, a public art and energy generation project in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that converted dog poop in the energy for park lights. Turns out we weren’t the only ones to take notice of this technology: former Gilbert, Arizona city councilwoman Linda Abbott also saw it, and started pushing for similar poop-powered lighting at the city’s renowned Cosmo Dog Park.

Earth week activism: students protest coal fired power in their underwear

Earth week activism: students protest coal fired power in their underwear

College kids running around campus in various states of undress… doesn’t sound that unusual, huh? If you see such a thing this week, though, it may be an activism event. PACT Underwear, a company that makes its products from organic cotton, and donates 10% of its sales to a variety of environmental non-profits, has released its “Beyond Coal” line of underwear… and students are protesting coal power on campus in the fashionable undergarments… and nothing else.

Kibera slums community turns trash into cooking fuel

Kibera slums community turns trash into cooking fuel

Extreme poverty, opens sewers, and lots and lots of trash: all are a part of normal conditions in Kenya’s Kibera. One of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera’s lack of sanitation services (or almost any government services) makes it a hotbed for disease. But an organization based within the community, Ushiriki Wa Safi, has implemented a concept that can help with at least one aspect of the unhealthy environment: using the massive piles of trash as fuel for community cookers for residents.

Bidder 70

Bidder 70

In 2008 a young environmental activist named Tim DeChristopher bid on 13 parcels of land quietly put up for auction by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the waning days of the Bush Administration. This land was part of a larger offering by the BLM of federal public land in an attempt to open it up to oil and gas exploration. The majority of the land was near national parks in southern Utah.

Harvesting human body heat in Sweden

Harvesting human body heat in Sweden

Ever noticed how warm it gets when you’re in a closed-in space with a lot of people? Yeah, could be anxiety from claustrophobia… but, more likely, you’re noticing how much heat our bodies give off in the course of normal events. It turns out that heat can be harvested with century-old technology… and create significant energy savings.

Green tech finds (1/27/11)

Green tech finds (1/27/11)

Electric scooters, drainwater heat recovery, and 313 mph… this week’s green tech finds.

80% by 2035: Hard to think of any bigger news this week than President Obama’s call for massive investment in clean energy technology… with a goal of 80% of the US’ energy coming from “clean” sources by 2035. SustainableBusiness.com has some reactions to the POTUS’ declaration of a “Sputnik moment.”
Green foundry jobs come to Michigan: The small town of Eaton Rapids will be home to a new foundry that will produce castings for wind turbines. (via MLive)

Waste heat recovery from a crematorium: green or ghoulish?

Waste heat recovery from a crematorium: green or ghoulish?

Waste heat recovery isn’t nearly as sexy as solar panels or wind turbines… but it’s a concept already proving its worth, with a lot of room for growth. It’s also an idea that might strike most of us as pretty non-controversial; however, when the waste heat is coming from a crematorium, battle lines appear.

Vimeo of the Week: Small World Energy

Vimeo of the Week: Small World Energy

Small World Energy from Niles Heckman on Vimeo.

Niles Heckman‘s Small World Energy is a wonderful little film telling the story of energy. Starting with the worst types of energy and finishing with the cleanest types of energy, his film shows what appears to be aerial views of these things. In actuality, it is a combo “of hand painting, photo collage, morphing, and texture projections.” He wrote of the film:

Being extremely passionate about clean energy and a sustainable future for the planet, I felt obligated to do my version of a public service announcement. The concept was to start dirty and end clean. Beginning by showing the most destructive forms of energy (deforestation, coal, oil, shale) in addition to some of their side effects and then transition to systems that are cleaner but still have major downsides associated (nuclear, bio fuels, hydro) and conclude with renewables (geothermal, tidal, solar, and wind) which have very minimal negative side effects and impact on our ecosystem.

Green tech finds (12/9/10)

Green tech finds (12/9/10)

Fuel cells, iPhone apps, and chicken coops… this week’s green tech finds.

The fuel cell that does… everything: Think fuel cells are just for energy? Think again… researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver, are working on a microbial fuel cell that desalinates and cleans wastewater… in addition to producing electricity. (via Cleantechnica)
Border checkpoint to feature Living Machine: The US General Services Administration has approved a Living Machine wastewater treatment system for the border crossing point at Otay Mesa, California. That’s an artist’s rendering above… (via Water and Waste Water)

US colleges compete in Campus Conservation Nationals

US colleges compete in Campus Conservation Nationals

Thought football was the main competition going on between colleges and universities this fall? Well, it will get the lion’s share of the attention… but we’re smack dab in the middle of another intercollegiate competitive event that could make a difference for the planet: the Campus Conservation Nationals.

White House not the only public property slated for solar panels

White House not the only public property slated for solar panels

Last week’s announcement that the White House would install solar panels and hot water systems the first residence grabbed a lot of attention in the mainstream media and green blogosphere… especially after Presidential staffers rejected a gift of one of the solar panels from the Carter presidency in September.

British biogas plant producing energy from sewage

British biogas plant producing energy from sewage

As you can see in the picture above, the landscape of Didcot, Oxfordshire is dominated by cooling towers for coal and oil-fed power stations. Not the cleanest of energy sources, but, as of today, Didcot is contributing to greener energy generation in Great Britain as the home of the country’s first biomethane station that produces gas from sewage.

College students spend summer building a passive DIY freezer

College students spend summer building a passive DIY freezer

How’d you spend your summers during college? Working a crappy job? Taking more classes? Laying around in front of the TV at your parents’ house? In Burlington, Vermont, a group of students undertook an internship under the tutelage of physics teacher Tom Tailer to eliminate the the electricity use of refrigerating and freezing food by building a passive freezer “out of mostly local, recycled or reused products.”

Green tech finds (8/12/10)

Green tech finds (8/12/10)

The greenest cell phone companies, solar Marines, and DIY LED Facebook notification… your green tech finds for the week.

Smart energy cities: The NRDC’s Smarter Cities project has published a list of 22 US cities taking the lead on more sustainable energy use and production. (via GreenTech Pastures)
LED Facebook notification: OK, this is only marginally green, but Instructables has a project up for a DIY Facebook notification device that uses LED lights.

Mississippi universities eye energy savings to close budget gap

Mississippi universities eye energy savings to close budget gap

State university systems are trying just about everything possible to make ends meet these days… from raising tuition and fees to selling bottled water. Mississippi’s College Board would like to avoid socking it to students, so in order to make up for a 20% drop in state appropriations, the board is taking a look at energy savings.

Green tech finds (6/17/10)

Green tech finds (6/17/10)

From low-tech lawn mowing to high-speed rail, we’ve got your run-down of some of the cool green tech stories from the week.

Industrial-strength rainwater harvesting: Seattle-area healthcare laundry service Sterile Surgical Systems has cut their massive water footprint significantly with a combination of rainwater harvesting and water treatment and recycling. (via Seattle Times)
Low-tech trike mower: PrintCollection uncovered a 1984 patent for a pedal-powered lawn mower… perhaps it’s time to bring this one into production (via Buck’s Weird News Blog)

Gulf oil spill clean-up: how you can help

Gulf oil spill clean-up: how you can help

With the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig now potentially leaking 25,000 barrels of oil a day, and a projected clean-up cost of $5 billion, the thought that you may be able to help with this environmental and economic disaster may seem far-fetched. Yet numerous non-profits have mobilized in the face of this emergency, and they need your help. Some of the things you can do to support clean-up efforts:

Volunteer: Many groups are enlisting volunteers to contribute to clean-up efforts. If you’d like to lend a hand directly, you can sign up with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, The Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and Mobile Baykeeper. Obviously, these are just a few of the organizations looking for volunteers… several Facebook groups, and at least one website, have sprung up to coordinate these efforts.

Clash of the titans: James Cameron vs. the dam

Clash of the titans: James Cameron vs. the dam

Is blockbuster producer/director and self-proclaimed “king of the world” James Cameron powerful enough to take out a dam single-handed? Well, no… but the creator of AVATAR has apparently been moved by his own film’s exploration of “the destruction of the natural world by expanding industrial interests, and the consequent impact to Indigenous populations.” Since February, Cameron has become passionate about stopping the building of the Belo Monte dam in Brazil, and has joined with indigenous leaders and activists to protest the opening of the bidding process for the project (set to begin on April 20th).

What's powering your lawn care service?

What's powering your lawn care service?

Many environmentalists would argue (passionately) that “greening” your lawn means tearing it out, and replacing it with native plants or a vegetable garden. They’re generally right: by and large, lawns are water-hoggin’ monocultures that require relatively hefty amounts of energy to sustain.

If you’re not quite ready to dig up the grass, though, and you pay someone to maintain your lawn for you (or your landlord does), you can take a step towards a greener lawn by hiring a company that doesn’t use traditional gas-powered mowers.

Earth Hour: 5 landmarks that will go dark on Saturday

Earth Hour: 5 landmarks that will go dark on Saturday

On Saturday, March 27th, at 8:30 local time, the lights will go out in millions of homes, businesses, and schools in celebration of Earth Hour 2010. Started in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour is now a global event organized by WWF in which people show their support for environmental action by turning off the lights for one hour. This year, 120 countries and territories will take part in this show of solidarity (up from 88 last year).