Just because we’re all trying to stay warm right now doesn’t mean that some techies aren’t thinking about cold – or at least cool. From climate-friendly freezers to arguments for space heating, we’ve got what’s cool – and what’s cold.
Dead leaves? Grass clippings? Fruit and vegetable peels? Sure, you could compost them, or you could turn them into robot fuel or solar cells. Plus, a gadget for harvesting the power you generate while walking, and an app for showing off your gas and carbon savings from driving a plug-in vehicle.
Remember when threats of a global government were symbolized by black helicopters and implied by the phrase “New World Order.” They’re so 20th century, it turns out: these days, the phrase “Agenda 21″ and compact fluorescent light bulbs are the new signs of “They’re coming to get you.”
Agenda 21 – it does sound a little spooky. You might think of it as a plan for world domination cooked up by a cabal of wealthy evildoers in a dark backroom. In truth, it’s much more innocuous: Agenda 21 is the title of a non-binding plan released at the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development in Rio. No secrets or backrooms here: Agenda 21 even has its own UN website.
Can good design save the world? Well, maybe the Great Lakes, anyway. That, plus community-based solar, clothing recycling, and more: your green tech finds for the week.
The DIY bike seat: Ever wanted a second seat on your bicycle, without investing in a tandem? Or just carrying space without a trailer? Israeli designer Yael Livneh has you covered with his concept made from a used plastic milk crate. He’s entered the concept in Designboom’s Seoul Cycle Design competition. (via Unconsumption and @dothegreenthing)
Occupy the sun: We generally think of solar power as something that individual home and building owners do, but Francesca Rheannon at CSRWire takes a look at community-based efforts to adopt solar technology.
Underground skyscrapers, smart windows and more problems with natural gas drilling: Your green tech finds for the week.
Charge your car with your phone: Well, not exactly, but a new app developed by IBM and Swiss utility EKZ allows for better management of when your electric vehicle is charged and what sources of energy are used to charge it. Find out more in the video above. (via @greeneconpost)
The grain silo hotel: While not as green as it could be (because the structures used were built for the project), Silo Stay, a nine-unit New Zealand hotel built from grain silos…
Teenagers build a really fast hybrid, GM’s got an all-electric vehicle in the works, and Nissan has a concept for charging a car in ten minutes: your green tech finds for the week.
Another EV1? Let’s hope not. Chevy plans to start selling the Spark EV (above) in limited US markets in…
Skiing down a Danish incinerator, seaweed for biofuels, and a solar unit that can save the lives of mothers in the developing world… your green tech finds for the week. The solar suitcase: Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic takes a look at the WE CARE Solar Suitcase, a compact solar power unit designed specifically for…
A couple of weeks ago, I looked at New York City’s efforts to provide disadvantaged youth with green job skills through its MillionTreesNYC initiative. On the other side of the country, a non-profit organization is also helping young people develop the skills they’ll need to take advantage of green job opportunities… by sending them out into their neighborhoods to help residents save energy, water, and money.
“What gets measured gets managed” is an old business maxim that San Francisco’s city government is taking to heart in terms of commercial building energy use. On Friday, Mayor Ed Lee signed the Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance into law. The legislation that would require regular energy performance audits, and publication of the data, for existing buildings in the city.
Plug in a wind turbine, get solar power at night, and charge your phone with water… this week’s green tech finds.
- Landfill gas power comes to Detroit: Waste Management of Michigan has announced plans to build two plants that convert landfill gas into electricity in the Detroit metropolitan area. Expected output: 24.8 megawatts.
- The solar panel that works in the dark: Full-spectrum solar panels aren’t new… but, up until now, they’ve been incredibly expensive. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may have hit the sweet spot… (via Cleantechnica and Greenwala)
Pyramid power, flying yachts, and solar soup… your green tech finds for the week.
Rent a Volt: St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-a-Car now offers the Chevy Volt for rental at its Ontario, California branch.
The case for building efficiency: Energy efficiency measures aren’t as sexy as solar panels, but Heather Clancy shows how they’re paying off… which makes the Obama administration’s Better Building Initiative a smart move in today’s political climate.
Heard the news? Incandescent light bulbs will be banned come 2012. The government will force you to buy mercury-laden CFLs or expensive LED bulbs… so better start stockpiling the light bulbs now!
You may have run across this rhetoric, especially now that California has chosen to implement upcoming federal standards a year early (they started on January 1). You may be tempted to pick up a case or two of incandescents. But if you dig just a bit deeper, you’ll find that much of the rhetoric surrounding these new regulations is just that…
Repeat after me: there is no light bulb ban on the horizon.
Critics from both right and left have pounced on President Obama’s Oval Office address last night as lacking in substance, and even purpose. But David Roberts at Grist noted that weatherization, an important element of any energy and climate plan, was one of the specifics Obama did mention as means of lessening the country’s reliance on fossil fuels (and also lessening the potential for disasters like the Gulf oil spill).
What’s the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States? Vehicles and energy production receive a lot of attention, but the building sector is actually the biggest contributor to climate change… and 17% of total US emissions come from commercial buildings.
To highlight those facts, and promote building efficiency, the Department of Energy and EPA’s ENERGY STAR program launched the National Building Competition yesterday, which pits fourteen commercial buildings against each other in “a coast-to-coast contest … to save energy and fight climate change.”
Your Earth Week green tech finds…
- Droid your dry cleaner: The National Organization for Women (NOW) has released an Android and web app (iPhone coming soon) for finding dry cleaners in your area that don’t use perchloroethylene (or “perc”).
- Puma’s new bag-box: The shoe company teamed up with design firm Fuseproject to create a the new “clever little bag” that requires much less cardboard than a traditional shoe box, and creates a much smaller manufacturing footprint. Look for it in 2011; find out more about it in the video above. (via Fast Company)
Many critics of environmentalism accuse greenies of “wanting to take us back to the 19th century.” Residents of Quinhagak, Alaska, appear to be OK with that idea… or going back even further … at least in terms of their housing stock.
Turns out that many of the homes in this small village on the Bering Sea are in bad shape: recent engineering reports showed “…that a sample-test of 55 houses built in the 1970s showed that many were ‘unsafe for occupancy’ because of such problems as rotting beams and moldy walls.” These same houses are also really expensive to heat in the winter — a homeowner may use as much as 750 gallons of heating oil a year. Village leaders decided something had to be done, and commissioned the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks to design a plan for a house that would meet the needs of Quinhagak residents… without costing an arm and a leg.
To help states develop strategies that will improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings and reduce costs and emissions, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices today announced that six states have been selected to participate in the Policy Academy on State Building Efficiency Retrofit Programs.
The California Energy Commission Thursday unanimously adopted the world’s highest TV energy efficiency standards. The standards will make new TVs 30 to 50 percent more efficient and represent the first regulation of energy efficiency by a state government.
Did you know that last Friday (October 30) was National Weatherization Day? Me neither, but the US Department of Energy marked the occasion with the launch of a new website: Energy Empowers. The site is chock full of media telling stories about how simple home upgrades to insulation, windows, and heating systems are saving consumers money on their energy bills, and providing jobs in local communities hard hit by the economic downturn.
Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s topic is climate change. As such, today’s finds will all relate to technology aimed at addressing this threat… enjoy!
A no-brainer: Engineers have found one simple approach to addressing the release of methane into the atmosphere: seal natural gas well leaks.
Sketching up energy management: Buildings are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The open-source tool Open Studio can now be plugged into Google’s SketchUp (a 3D modeling tool) to account for energy usage in the building design process. (via CNET Green Tech)
Can the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid really deliver 230 mpg? Can you power your DVD player with your exercise bike? Answers to these questions and more in this week’s green tech finds…
- Powering up with your bicycle: Exercise bikes aren’t just good for keeping fit; many people are figuring out innovative ways to harness that power and create electricity.
- A showcase green home in Silicon Valley: Eco-entrepreneur Marc Porat has turned his 1936 English Tudor Revival home into a carbon-neutral showcase of green tech.
Solar panels are certainly sexier than insulation, and new LEED-certified buildings look better on the front page than aging houses. Are aesthetics the main reason that newer technologies and practices get all the attention, while retrofits and efficiency upgrades are relegated to the sidelines of most conversations about a clean energy future?
Could you use an extra $475 a year? According to the US Department of Energy, that’s the amount the average American family could save on energy bills by implementing long-term energy efficiency changes in their home. You don’t have to start with big purchases, though: all of us can cut our energy usage (and utility bills) with some common-sense practices.
THE LAZY ENVIRONMENTALIST, hosted by Josh Dorfman, screens Tuesdays at 9PM on Sundance Channel.
It’s been “interesting” to witness the varying degrees of interest on the part of my immediate family members to my Lazy Environmentalist endeavors. I mean, I’m pretty sure my Mom has read my books, but I can’t say the same for my dad or my brother. And while it’s pretty simple to sign up for a subscription to Sirius Radio, no one in my family ever did so during the two years I hosted my radio show on that network. But things changed as soon as I made the Lazy Environmentalist TV pilot. “Josh” was no longer just “off doing some weird-eco-save-the-planet-thing even though he has an MBA and could be cashing in by now.” To the contrary, suddenly everyone wanted to watch what the Lazy Environmentalist was up to. And not just once either; they wanted to watch it over and over again, share it with guests on holidays and with pretty much whoever else visited my folks’ house for any reason whatsoever be it to deliver the mail or even exterminate bugs.
Welcome to the best green refrigerators of 2008! Within this post you will discover the last two refrigerators in the top ten list. 2) Maytag MFI2569VEM [www.maytag.com] – Full Depth French Door Refrigerator Everyone knows Maytag, a company that has been making home appliances since the dawn of electricity. This refrigerator uses 30% less energy…