Archive for the ‘Express 159’ Category

Water Dragon Heralds Turning Point

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Water Dragon Heralds Turning Point

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon – and a water dragon at that. According to those in the know, a water dragon personifies creativity at its best. In Chinese mythology, the appearance of a dragon marks a transition of power, or a turning point. So what can we expect for 2012? Maybe the mythical beast can turn on its  clean and green side. Energy, yes, as well as water. Two critical and connected resources which the world must manage more effectively for the sake of all. This issue looks at the troubles in the water for fish with the changing climate and China is cleaning up the air and atmosphere in a big way. We demonstrate once again our shine for solar and note its getting thinner and more efficient than ever. As 2012 is the year for London’s Olympics, they’ll be more sustainable than ever, while the European Investment Bank is also going green. More words from Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud on building better for living and the environment. Byron Bay is jumping on a new energy bandwagon, while New York shows that old buildings can also be energetically modified. The US is getting the message that it must get its climate/energy act together and awards are given out for sustainability innovations. Munich Re brings its extreme weather risks up to date and Singapore goes for green roofs for water management and energy efficiency. May it be a happy, healthy and hopeful year of the dragon. – Ken Hickson

Profile: Kevin McCloud

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Profile: Kevin McCloud

A strident supporter of sustainability, the Grand Designs presenter keenly encourages everyone to rethink the way they live: “It behoves us all – in fact, I think it’s an ethical prerogative – to minimise the use of highly processed materials, to recycle, to insulate and minimise the use of fossil fuels.”  He wants to reduce the level of CO2 generated by domestic dwellings, currently accounting for a staggering 27% of all man-made emissions in the UK. Now he’s putting his money where his mouth is as a developer.

Kevin McCloud is a one of a select number of experts assembled as sustainability ambassadors for this year’s London Olympics.

By Helen Brown in The Telegraph (8 December 2011):

“I love pebbledash” is not a sentence I expected to hear from Kevin McCloud. But, in Kevin’s Grand Design on Channel 4 – a bid to do for British housing what Jamie Oliver’s been doing for the British diet – we saw the presenter prowling around Swindon, soaking up the local architectural flavours to ensure that his new low-cost, low-carbon 42-home property development would blend into its commuter belt context. Acknowledging that his passion for the “sandcastle” qualities of pebbledash was unlikely to be shared by househunters, he took more design notes from a row of nearby railway workers’ terraces.

McCloud’s own Grand Design may have been more ordinary-looking than most of the high-concept projects he’s followed since the programme began back in 1999, but it was arguably more ambitious and certainly far more relevant to the average viewer. For while the (mostly wealthy) folk who slog and spend their way through the conversion of their fantasy ruined castle/beached oil tanker/acre of scenic bogland have only to please themselves and the planning authorities, McCloud was aiming to “put the happiness back into housing” for an integrated mix of private homeowners and social housing tenants. He was at pains to point out it was his own money he was risking and that, despite a decade of critiquing other people’s development dreams, he had never built anything himself.

The first episode of this two-part series took us back to the economic buoyancy of 2006, with an idealistic McCloud railing against Britain’s sprawl of identikit homes, which are the smallest in Europe, leak heat, lack a sense of place and force us to lead “very insular lives”. These homes are McCloud’s Turkey Twizzlers and he wants people to rise up against them. He planned to offer his own alternatives in three-bedroom, £160,000 eco-home portions.

Then came the recession: property prices went into meltdown and mortgages slipped beyond the reach of McCloud’s target market. Like so many of the Grand Designers over whom he’s furrowed his brow, he began to lose control of his vision. Having preached that “design is a process of resisting compromise”, he was forced to change sites, scale down, change architects, give the whole project over to social housing and aim to break even. At the end of episode one his utopian development had a slick of mud for a village green, builders shaking their heads over the “hempcrete” walls and neighbours who thought the place “looked like a barracks”. Those who follow property news will know that “The Triangle” has been finished, and to the satisfaction of at least some of those involved. But part one left McCloud looking as grey – and as full of hot air, cooled – as hempcrete.



By Paul Barfoot For BBC Lifestyle

Near-miss singing career

Beneath the dulcet tones of Mr McCloud’s rather seductive TV-presenter voice lurks a bellowing musicality that came close to guiding him down an all-together different professional pathway. After school, Kevin contemplated heading to Italian shores to train as an operatic baritone. Advised by his teachers and parents to net an academic degree first, he joined the ranks of Cambridge University’s intellectual elite to read history of art and architecture, and never returned to his tuneful aspiration. “It just sort of petered out. I don’t think I’d have got hugely far as a singer and I would have found it hard,” declared Kevin modestly. Opera’s loss was a grand gain for architectural design.

Glowing past

Prior to his TV fame, Kevin ran a lighting, product design and manufacturing business by the name of McCloud Lighting. Although the enterprise is currently shelved, its creative legacy can be found in the carved rococo-style ceiling of the Food Halls in London’s iconic shopping emporium Harrods, and the bespoke lighting solutions in such landmark buildings as Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, Edinburgh Castle and London’s Savoy and Dorchester hotels – all of which carry the McCloud Lighting hallmark.

Space invader dad

Kevin credits his compulsion for craftsmanship, functionality and slick engineering to his late rocket scientist father, Donald. “He was a brilliant man. He used to do electronics for rockets and test systems for guided weapons and missiles. Lots of Official Secrets Act stuff. In 1969, I remember he turfed us all out of bed at 3am and turned the TV on so we could watch the first lunar landing live. He was fanatical about the truth of science and its power to change the world, and one of the gentlest human beings I have ever met,” announced Kevin, who is as passionate about developing solutions to change the architectural landscape on Earth as his father was about masterminding technology to revolutionise Space.

Eco warrior

Kevin is a strident supporter of sustainability, and keenly encourages everyone to rethink the way they live: “It behoves us all – in fact, I think it’s an ethical prerogative – to minimise the use of highly processed materials, to recycle, to insulate and minimise the use of fossil fuels to keep our buildings warm.” In 2009, and in conjunction with such partners as the WWF (a charity for which he is a patron), Kevin launched the ‘Great British Refurb’ – a campaign calling for homeowners to proactively embrace energy- and cost-saving habits in order to reduce the level of CO2 generated by domestic dwellings (which currently accounts for a staggering 27 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide in the UK).

Carbon-friendly Kevin

Mr McCloud doesn’t just talk-the-talk when it comes to eco living. His personal commitments to reducing his own carbon footprint includes energising his home with a biomass woodchip boiler, using his orange Brompton foldaway pushbike for short journeys, driving a Saab fuelled by locally-produced bio-ethanol fuel and converting his Land Rover to run on vegetable oil.

New-build pioneer

Outside the realm of ‘Grand Designs’, Kevin’s time is consumed with running Hab (happiness, architecture, beauty) – a residential development company that he established in 2007, which is committed to creating dynamic and environmentally friendly communities. Hab’s first major commission is the much-publicised ‘Triangle’ project, a 42-house development on a former caravan park in the Wiltshire town of Swindon scheduled for completion in late 2010. Built to ‘Code 4 Sustainable Homes’ standards and bucking the trend for ring-fenced developments, the initiative will transform the landscape of the area and will set a new quality benchmark in new-build practices in Britain.

Haunting move

When Kevin moved into his current family home, an idyllic 16th-century farmhouse set in the Somerset countryside, he was pretty alarmed to discover that he had a supernatural squatter. “There was a very cold room in the house with a thick, heavy atmosphere. People staying above the room would hear a loud banging. There would be three huge knocks on the door but there’d be no one there. Someone was murdered in the house in the last century and we think that was the cause. It’s all sorted out now,” explained Kevin, who wasted no time in calling a man of the cloth to perform an exorcism and rid his pad of spooky shenanigans.

Motor mad McCloud

In 2008, Kevin indulged his love of cars and awe of V8 engines as a guest on Jeremy Clarkson’s flagship motoring show, ‘Top Gear’. Not only did he cause a stir by taking Jezza to task on his unsympathetic views on green issues, but Kevin also left a lasting impression partaking in the show’s celebrated ‘Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car’ segment (which involves famous folk doing a high-speed lap of the ‘Top Gear’ track in a bid to win a respectable time ranking on the leaderboard). Kevin clocked his lap in 1.45.9 minutes (just .1 of a second short of the reigning champion, singer Jay Kay of the funk-pop band Jamiroquai) and was as proud as punch with his second place victory (which goes unrivalled as of April 2010).

Words of wisdom

According to Kevin, good design is “trend-free, timeless, useable, durable and elegant”. The most important budget factor when building your own home is to “spend the money on the bones, the stuff that is going to be there for ever, not the frippery like kitchens and bathrooms which can be replaced. Think of the architecture, glazing and core materials”. And when it comes to interiors, he is keen to stress the importance sidestepping fashion and the pitfall of trying to replicate the pages of glossy style magazines. “What makes houses interesting are people’s biographies – their taste and who they are. I’m fed up walking into houses and seeing chandeliers inside plastic bags and a wall with black flock wallpaper on it. Are they trying to say: ‘I’m fashionable?’ Because next week they’ll be out of date. These things work in fast cycles,” commented McCloud.

Stuff and nonsense

As a child, little Kevin longed to be shorter and less self-conscious. As an adult, big Kevin claims he has “hair in all the wrong places”, but has learned to live by the motto: “You’re here, get on with it”. His favourite piece of architecture in the world is the rebuilt facade of the library at Ephesus in Turkey, and although highly unfashionable, he has a fancy for polished mahogany furniture and drinking Cinzano mixed with tonic water. Mr McCloud is not particularly materialistic, but if his house were ablaze, the one item he would salvage is his 1967 Hofner President Bass guitar (it’s highly collectable and he likes it a lot).


China Clearing the Air & Cutting Emissions

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

China Clearing the Air & Cutting Emissions

Beijing environmental authorities have started releasing more detailed air quality data that may better reflect how bad the Chinese capital’s air pollution is. But measurements from the first day were low compared with data US officials have been collecting for years. Meanwhile, seven provinces and cities in China are to set caps on their greenhouse gas emissions, the first time the Chinese government has called for these, having so far preferred softer “carbon intensity” targets.

Washington Post/Associated Press (21 January 2012):

Caving to public pressure, Beijing environmental authorities started releasing more detailed air quality data that may better reflect how bad the Chinese capital’s air pollution is. But one expert says measurements from the first day were low compared with data U.S. officials have been collecting for years.

The initial measurements were low on a day where you could see blue sky. After a week of smothering smog, the skies over the city were being cleared by a north wind.

The readings of PM2.5 — particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair — were being posted on Beijing’s environmental monitoring center’s website. Such small particulates can penetrate deep into the lungs, so measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

It is the first time Beijing has publicly revealed PM2.5 data and follows a clamor of calls by citizens on social networking sites tired of breathing in gray and yellow air. The U.S. Embassy measures PM2.5 from a device on its rooftop and releases the results, and some residents have even tested the air around their neighborhoods and posted the results online.

Beijing is releasing hourly readings of PM2.5 that are taken from one monitoring site about 4 miles (7 kilometers) west of Tiananmen Square, the monitoring center’s website said Saturday. It said the data was for research purposes and the public should only use it as a reference.

The reading at noon Saturday was 0.015 milligrams per cubic meter, which would be classed as “good” for a 24-hour exposure at that level, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. The U.S. Embassy reading taken from its site on the eastern edge of downtown Beijing said its noon reading was “moderate.” Its readings are posted on Twitter.

Steven Andrews, an environmental consultant who has studied Beijing’s pollution data since 2006, said he was “already a bit suspicious” of Beijing’s PM2.5 data. Within the 24-hour period to noon Saturday, Beijing reported seven hourly figures “at the very low level” of 0.003 milligrams per cubic meter.

“In all of 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Embassy reported values at or below that level only 18 times out of over 15,000 hourly values or about 0.1 percent of the time,” said Andrews. “PM2.5 concentrations vary by area so a direct comparison between sites isn’t possible, but the numbers being reported during some hours seem surpisingly low.”

The Beijing center had promised to release PM2.5 data by the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year on Monday. It has six sites that can test for PM2.5 and 27 that can test for the larger, coarser PM10 particles that are considered less hazardous. The center is expected to buy equipment and build more monitoring sites to enable PM2.5 testing.

Beijing wasn’t expected to include PM2.5 in its daily roundups of the air quality anytime soon. Those disclosures, for example “light” or “serious,” are based on the amount of PM10, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air.

Beijing interprets air quality using less stringent standards than the U.S. Embassy, so often when the government says pollution is “light,” the embassy terms it “hazardous.”

“There has been tremendous amounts of attention in the Chinese media — whichever newspaper you pick up, whichever radio station you listen to, channel you watch — they are all talking about PM2.5 and how levels are so high,” said Andrews.

“What has been so powerful is that people are skeptical, and I think rightly skeptical,” about the government’s descriptions of data, he said.


Michael Marshall in New Scientist (17 January 2012):

Seven provinces and cities in China are to set caps on their greenhouse gas emissions, following a directive from central government. It’s the first time the Chinese government has called for any absolute caps on emissions, having so far preferred softer “carbon intensity” targets.

The move is a first step towards establishing carbon trading markets in China and further evidence of the country’s commitment to tackling climate change, says Felix Preston of Chatham House, a foreign-policy think tank based in London.

On 13 January China’s National Development and Reform Commission asked the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen, and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong, to set “overall emissions control targets”.

The government hinted this move was coming last August, when it released a policy paper arguing that absolute caps were the only way to establish a working carbon market.

The new regional pilot projects are valuable steps towards a national carbon market, Preston says. For them to work, the cities and provinces will need to settle on stringent targets to keep the carbon price high, and collect reliable emissions data to ensure the targets are being met, he adds.

By allowing companies and institutions to trade emissions, carbon markets ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are cut in a cost-effective way. Europe has so far led the way in carbon markets after establishing its Emissions Trading Scheme in 2005. China would be a major new player.

A national Chinese carbon market would be a big step towards a global carbon market, says Preston, especially if the EU and Chinese markets could be linked.

Intensity cap

China has not yet set a national cap on its greenhouse gas emissions, citing the need to grow its economy. Instead it has set future limits on carbon intensity – the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of GDP. Setting targets in this way allows emissions to grow while requiring industries to become more productive over time for a given level of emissions.

The current five-year plan, covering 2011 to 2015, requires the country to reduce the carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP by 17 per cent by 2015.

Preston says these intensity targets are fine when a country’s economy is growing rapidly, as is the case with China. But a fixed national cap would be better once China’s emissions peak, which could happen in the 2020s or 2030s. “A cap offers less uncertainty than an intensity target,” he says. “Over time it will make sense to have a fixed cap.”


Sense of Smell & Sounds of Silence at Sea

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Sense of Smell & Sounds of Silence at Sea

Rising human CO2 emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous system of sea fishes with serious consequences for their survival, interfering with their ability to hear, smell, turn and evade predators. This from Professor Phillip Munday of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Australia’s James Cook University .

Eureka Alert (20 January 2012):

Carbon dioxide is ‘driving fish crazy’

Rising human carbon dioxide emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous system of sea fishes with serious consequences for their survival, an international scientific team has found.

Carbon dioxide concentrations predicted to occur in the ocean by the end of this century will interfere with fishes’ ability to hear, smell, turn and evade predators, says Professor Phillip Munday of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.

“For several years our team have been testing the performance of baby coral fishes in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2 – and it is now pretty clear that they sustain significant disruption to their central nervous system, which is likely to impair their chances of survival,” Prof. Munday says.

In their latest paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Prof. Munday and colleagues report world-first evidence that high CO2 levels in sea water disrupts a key brain receptor in fish, causing marked changes in their behaviour and sensory ability.

“We’ve found that elevated CO2 in the oceans can directly interfere with fish neurotransmitter functions, which poses a direct and previously unknown threat to sea life,” Prof. Munday says.

Prof. Munday and his colleagues began by studying how baby clown and damsel fishes performed alongside their predators in CO2-enriched water. They found that, while the predators were somewhat affected, the baby fish suffered much higher rates of attrition.

“Our early work showed that the sense of smell of baby fish was harmed by higher CO2 in the water – meaning they found it harder to locate a reef to settle on or detect the warning smell of a predator fish. But we suspected there was much more to it than the loss of ability to smell.”

The team then examined whether fishes’ sense of hearing – used to locate and home in on reefs at night, and avoid them during the day – was affected. “The answer is, yes it was. They were confused and no longer avoided reef sounds during the day. Being attracted to reefs during daylight would make them easy meat for predators.”

Other work showed the fish also tended to lose their natural instinct to turn left or right – an important factor in schooling behaviour which also makes them more vulnerable, as lone fish are easily eaten by predators.

“All this led us to suspect it wasn’t simply damage to their individual senses that was going on – but rather, that higher levels of carbon dioxide were affecting their whole central nervous system.”

The team’s latest research shows that high CO2 directly stimulates a receptor in the fish brain called GABA-A, leading to a reversal in its normal function and over-excitement of certain nerve signals.

While most animals with brains have GABA-A receptors, the team considers the effects of elevated CO2 are likely to be most felt by those living in water, as they have lower blood CO2 levels normally. The main impact is likely to be felt by some crustaceans and by most fishes, especially those which use a lot of oxygen.

Prof. Munday said that around 2.3 billion tonnes of human CO2 emissions dissolve into the world’s oceans every year, causing changes in the chemical environment of the water in which fish and other species live.

“We’ve now established it isn’t simply the acidification of the oceans that is causing disruption – as is the case with shellfish and plankton with chalky skeletons – but the actual dissolved CO2 itself is damaging the fishes’ nervous systems.”

The work shows that fish with high oxygen consumption are likely to be most affected, suggesting the effects of high CO2 may impair some species worse than others – possibly including important species targeted by the world’s fishing industries.

The team’s latest paper “Near-future CO2 levels alter fish behaviour by interfering with neurotransmitter function” by Göran E. Nilsson, Danielle L. Dixson, Paolo Domenici, Mark I. McCormick, Christina Sørensen, Sue-Ann Watson, and Philip L. Munday appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.


Super Thin Solar is Struggling In a Market Flush with Cheaper Panels

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Super Thin Solar is Struggling In a Market Flush with Cheaper Panels

US-headquartered Dow Chemical will start supplying roofing tiles this year incorporating flexible PV technology and Solar Frontier’s super thin-film PV panels are being incorporated in a 100 MW Californian project. Solar is finally taking off in Singapore, with Phoenix Solar making its mark and property developer CDL, utilising solar in award-winning projects. Pictured are two of the largest solar roofs in Singapore, at Changi Airport (left) and Tampines Grande (right).

Sara Ver-Bruggen n Plastic Electronics Magazine (12 January 2012):

Flexible photovoltaic (PV) modules are thin and light – and what they lack in efficiency is being offset against constraints inherent in conventional crystalline PV modules. Suppliers of second generation, flexible, thinfilm modules and emerging organic solar cells are targeting the opportunities.

Thin-film PV technology has been undermined in recent months by crystalline silicon PV. China’s investment in PV manufacturing has driven down the prices of silicon PV modules.

This, coupled with generous government subsidy schemes around the world, means the market for PV is 80% crystalline silicon. The trend has countered much of the impetus that was previously driving the thin-film PV industry. Cell efficiencies are much lower and modules themselves are more expensive than crystalline silicon.

The result is that the solar industry is re-evaluating alternative PV technologies. New technologies cannot compete on cost alone. As we are seeing with OLED lighting, the differentiating factors of a new technology have to be demonstrated to those markets that will value them.


A substantial proportion of the BIPV rooftop market cannot be met by mainstream, rigid and glass-encased PV modules, because many roofs are not able to support their load.

In 2012 US-headquartered Dow Chemical will start supplying roofing tiles – or shingles as they are called in the US – incorporating Global Solar’s flexible PV technology.

The solar shingles can be fixed onto roofs like conventional shingles and easily connected to turn the roof into a solar array. These products are not new, but previous PV tiles, using amorphous silicon laminates, have had limited success, partly because efficiencies were too low.

Commercial buildings, particularly industrial sheds, are ideal. The metal elements used to construct the walls and roofs can be laminated with PV films or coatings in the factory. The approach is potentially more cost-effective than buying and installing the PV module separately.

Other OPV companies are also exploring BIPV. Heliatek, in Dresden, Germany, says its modules will go into production in a roll-to-roll process on low-cost foils by mid-2012.

This article appears in full in Volume 4, issue 3 of +Plastic Electronics magazine.



By Andrew Burger in Clean Technica (18 January 2012):

Solar Frontier, a subsidiary of Japan’s Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, and France’s EDF Energies Nouvelles yesterday announced the largest deal to date in in the nascent market for thin-film CIGS (Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium) solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Solar Frontier is to supply up to 150-megawatts -peak (MWp) of its thin-film CIGS panels to enXco, EDF Energies Novelles’ project development group, which is building the 100+ MW Catalina Solar Project in Kern County, California, according to a company news release. Solar Frontier delivered an initial 26 MWp of its CIGS panels for the Catalina project in 4Q 2011.

To be built in two phases, the first 60 MW of capacity is due on-line by year-end 2012. When the anticipated second phase of construction is completed by June, 2013, the Catalina Solar Project will have a capacity of 100+ MW, enough to supply some 35,000 homes with clean, renewable energy, offsetting some 74,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.



Singapore’s leading developer, City Developments Limited, has once again raised the bar for green building with 7 & 9 Tampines Grande, an exceptional showcase of a sustainable green building – from design, to construction, maintenance, and use, winning the Sustainable Development Category in the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Awards 2011.

CDL envisioned 7 & 9 Tampines Grande as a cutting-edge, new generation green office, designed with environment sustainability in mind. The 27,880 square meters development, housed within two 8-storey office blocks, embraces the largest and most extensive use of solar innovations in a commercial property in Singapore, generating 203,000 kWh of clean energy, installed by Phoenix Solar.

For the first time in Singapore, an innovative solar air-conditioning system has been incorporated into a building that generates sufficient air-conditioning for the Atrium – an estimated volume of 2,500 cubic meters. It is also the first commercial project in Singapore to ingeniously use Building Integrated Photovoltaic Panels as part of the building’s façade, innovatively engineered for aesthetic treatment.

An effective twin-strategy of utilizing passive low energy architectural design and energyefficient eco features has led to significant overall energy savings amounting to 2.7 million kWh per year and an overall reduction in CO2 emission by approximately 1,400 tonnes per year for the entire building.

In 2008, Tampines Grande was awarded the Green Mark Platinum (the highest rating given to green buildings in Singapore) by the Building and Construction Authority – Singapore’s governing body for the built environment. In 2009, it also become the first completed development in Singapore to achieve the LEED Gold Certification under the Core & Shell Category, established by the United States Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.

As one of the solar test-bed projects under the Government’s Solar Capability Scheme, aimed at building up critical capabilities in Singapore’s solar eco-system, Tampines Grande has also helped to grow the industry’s green expertise and encouraged others to explore more sustainable technologies.

Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd Singapore was 1st runner-up in the ASEAN Energy Awards – Renewable Energy Competition (On-grid Category)

Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd installed the innovative 250kWp grid-tied system that generates clean energy at Changi Airport’s Budget Terminal becoming Southeast Asia’s first commercial airport with a solar PV power plant. The PV panels also contribute to a reduction in air conditioning load by shading the roof from direct sunshine.

Becoming Southeast Asia’s first commercial airport with a solar PV power plant–an innovative 250kWp grid-tied system that generates clean energy at Changi Airport’s Budget Terminal. The PV panels also contribute to a reduction in air-conditioning load by shading the roof from direct sunshine.

Source: and

Sustainable Energy for London Transport & European Investment Bank

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Sustainable Energy for London Transport & European Investment Bank

The London Olympics is a timely opportunity for companies to set in place a long-term strategy to change employee travel habits, says Trewin Restorick. An extra 2,000 Boris bikes and 4,000 docking points will be laid on, but will London’s transport gain long-term sustainable benefits? And is the European Investment Bank as green as it is expected to be? If it put its clout behind renewable energy and energy efficiency, it could help to reconcile energy security and the fight against climate change, says Manana Kochladze.

Trewin Restorick of Global Action Plan in the Guardian (17 January 2012):

The Olympics is a timely opportunity for companies to set in place a long-term strategy to change employee travel habits, says Trewin Restorick in Guardian Sustainable Business.

An extra 2,000 Boris bikes and 4,000 docking points will be laid on, but will London’s transport gain long-term sustainable benefits?

It is easier to get people to think about changing their behaviour when their normal routines are disrupted. Such a disruption is heading London’s way during the Olympics. It’s an opportunity that could be used to encourage employees to adopt more sustainable travel behaviours.

Research from Global Action Plan shows that this opportunity could be missed unless companies change from just considering the short-term implications of the games to a longer-term, more strategic view.

Over the 100 days of the London Olympics, an anticipated 5.3 million visitors are expected. On some of the busiest days this will create 855,000 games-related trips. There will be more than 100 miles of roads designated as the Olympic route network. Some of these roads will have lanes for accredited vehicles only, while other roads in the capital will be used for Olympic events.

Despite the best endeavours of planners, this level of activity is certain to disrupt travel for many Londoners. The question is: can the disruption be used to encourage more long-term sustainable travel behaviour?

The travel dilemma

Recent research by Global Action Plan with 138 organisations shows that cutting carbon emissions from travel is one of the biggest challenges they face. Our research discovered that almost 40% of respondents do not have a strategic approach to cutting travel costs and emissions. Companies’ data collection is patchy at best and, if it is collected, only one in five use it to encourage staff to change their behaviour. Significant barriers also exist, including lack of senior leadership, the expectations of line managers and inadequate technology. These barriers mean that, although policies may be in place, they are not being widely implemented.

Will the Olympics help overcome these barriers and provide the momentum for significant long-term change? The results from Sydney after the 2000 games suggest that they do have the potential for stimulating action: 24% of Sydney employees changed their working hours and 22% worked remotely during the games. Interestingly, 27% chose to take annual leave.

Transport for London is certainly doing as much as it can to help organisations cope. Extensive advice is already included on its website. Particular emphasis has been placed on deliveries, where guidance includes changing delivery times, consolidating orders, pre-emptive maintenance and co-ordinating deliveries with neighbouring firms. More than 4,000 new Barclays cycle-hire docking points will also be installed and 2,000 new bikes will be provided.

The moped solution

Case studies are publicly available from companies such as Sainsbury’s, who acknowledge that usual methods of supplying stores and delivering to customers may not be possible. Their solutions include “first-response mopeds” designed to get engineers to stores rapidly to deal with maintenance problems. The initiative has many potential benefits, including greater efficiency, lower carbon emissions and the ability to maximise store sales. If successful, Sainsbury’s will extend the idea to all its stores within the M25.

Our research suggests that other organisations in London are also starting to realise the potential implications of the games: 69% believe that they will cause significant or medium disruption.

The most popular solution being considered is to allow more flexible working: 65% of companies are assessing this idea but, rather worryingly, only a quarter of them are looking to ensure that IT systems can cope with this significant change. Other popular solutions include negotiating fewer client meetings, negotiating changes with suppliers and encouraging greater use of video conferencing.

But what about the legacy?

All of these solutions are good business planning designed to address the travel disruption that the games might cause. However, our research shows that most companies are not thinking about how they can use the change to embed long-term sustainable solutions.

Only 17% of companies in our survey indicated that they would use the games as an opportunity to change employee travel habits. This is a huge opportunity that could be missed and suggests that organisations need to start thinking.

Trewin Restorick is chief executive of Global Action Plan



Manana Kochladze writes about Greening the European Investment Bank (23 December 2011):

BRUSSELS – Over the past four years, the European Investment Bank – the European Union’s house bank – has loaned €48 billion ($62 billion) to energy projects around the world. Indeed, the EIB lends more to the energy sector than to any other, except transport (and its €72 billion total loan portfolio in 2010 made it a bigger lender than the World Bank).

Investment on this scale can help countries worldwide to make vital progress on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions at a time when political solutions based on international agreement remain elusive. Unfortunately, the EIB’s lending priorities and energy-investment portfolio are making the problem worse.

In 2007, the EIB adopted its first energy policy – “Clean Energy for Europe: A Reinforced EIB Contribution.” Since then, the Bank has significantly increased its lending for renewable energy, which totaled €13 billion in 2007-2010.

Yet, over the same period, the bank compromised this performance by lending €16 billion ($21 billion) for fossil-fuels projects, one-third of the institution’s total energy lending. Indeed, the EIB’s fossil-fuel lending grew from €2.8 billion in 2007 to €5 billion in 2010, including new coal units in Germany and Slovenia.

In new EU member states, the EIB has supported mostly high-carbon energy, which traps these countries in unsustainable energy systems. The EIB also loaned North Africa and Syria €1.6 billion for fossil fuels between 2007 and 2010, which constituted 30% of total lending to the region.

Make no mistake: these are long-term investments. The energy infrastructure constructed today will be used for at least another 40 years, thereby tying countries to carbon-dependent paths. In Slovenia, for example, if the government implements EU-wide climate targets, the new EIB-financed Sostanj lignite unit will consume most of that country’s CO2 emissions quota by 2050. Meanwhile, the EIB invests only 5% of its energy portfolio in energy-efficiency programs.

The EIB argues that fossil-fuel lending supports strategic projects that safeguard European energy security. That is partly true: EU members’ political interests do drive some of this lending, particularly investments in oil and gas import infrastructure. The EU’s goals therefore embody an inherent contradiction – energy security versus climate-change prevention – which makes it difficult for the EIB to clean up its energy portfolio.

Yet a closer look shows that  €6.7 billion of the €16 billion that the EIB loaned for fossil fuels went to coal, gas, and oil-fired plants, both inside and outside the EU – not to EU energy-security projects. These figures suggest that the EIB may simply find dirty energy projects more familiar, easier to access, and more profitable.

But the EIB, which is both an investment bank and the EU’s public bank, is uniquely placed to lead markets, and should not merely be following them. As a public bank, its financial operations are guaranteed by European taxpayers’ money, and its capital is immense. Moreover, it benefits from the information and know-how of EU institutions.

If the EIB were to put its clout behind renewable energy and energy efficiency, it could help to reconcile energy security and the fight against climate change. And Europe could lead that fight if it fully exploited its renewable and energy-efficiency potential. The EU would then have little need to rely on dirty-energy imports from politically unstable parts of the world.

The EIB must act more courageously to clean up its energy-lending portfolio. Coal investments must be stopped immediately, and a plan to phase out all fossil-fuel lending should be prepared and implemented as soon as possible. The capital from fossil-fuel investments could be redirected towards green projects instead.

For regions such as Central and Eastern Europe, where the EIB argues that it is more difficult to find investment opportunities, the bank must develop targeted instruments and technical assistance that supports small-scale renewable-energy projects. It must also encourage governments to build flexible power grids.

Weaning Europe from its addiction to fossil fuels will not be easy. But if the EU’s house bank will not accept the challenge, it is difficult to imagine who will.

Manana Kochladze is a campaigner at CEE Bankwatch Network, an NGO that monitors international financial institutions active in Central and Eastern Europe. She is the winner of the 2004 Goldman Environmental Prize.


Global Airline Industry Chief: “Sustainability is our licence to grow”

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Global Airline Industry Chief: “Sustainability is our licence to grow”

Something we can expect to see a lot of this year: Airlines talking up their green credentials. From chicken fat to algae, carriers are busy looking for new ways to fuel their planes and reduce their emissions. Several airlines have already claimed “world-first” initiatives using jet bio fuel and Qantas has announced its intention to operate Australia’s first biofuel flight. British Airways will be getting jet fuel from its waste-to-energy  plant in East London by 2014.

In 2010, British Airways announced that it will start producing jet fuel from landfill waste to reach its target of 50 percent reduced emissions by 2050. The airline is partnering with biofuels company Solena to construct a waste-to-energy fuel plant in East London that will turn 500,000 tonnes of organic waste into 16 million gallons of jet fuel per year.

Jane E. Fraser in Sydney Morning Herald (22 January 2012):

Eco talk … airlines are under immense pressure to become greener.

Could fast food chains be the answer to airlines’ carbon emissions dilemmas?

IF THERE’S something we can expect to see a lot of this year, it is airlines talking up their green credentials. From chicken fat to algae, carriers are busy looking for new ways to fuel their planes and reduce their emissions.

Several airlines have already claimed “world-first” initiatives such as the first commercial biofuel flight, the first scheduled biofuel flight and the longest distance biofuel flight, and Qantas has announced its intention to operate Australia’s first biofuel flight early this year.

Airlines are very keen to be seen to be making these efforts, hence the amount of marketing hype accompanying each development, but there are also commercial imperatives driving them.

The global aviation industry produces only 2 per cent of the world’s man-made carbon emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but airlines are nevertheless under immense pressure to become greener.

The IATA has declared work on biofuels to be a major priority for the industry in the year ahead, with the association’s chief executive, Tony Tyler, saying it is “one of aviation’s great challenges” to reduce its carbon emissions.

“Sustainability is our licence to grow,” Tyler says.

The problem with biofuels and other green initiatives is that they can be expensive and their supply can be inconsistent.

Until the world goes into large-scale biofuel production and distribution, biofuel flights might remain in the same category as electric cars: a nice idea but not all that practical.

The executive chairman of the CAPA Centre for Aviation, Peter Harbison, says the greening of aviation is a complicated issue involving a combination of alternative fuels, new engine technology and practical measures such as efficient flying patterns.

“You add all those things together and you’re talking about growth [in aviation] without an increase in emissions,” Harbison says.

“The airlines are doing a tremendous amount; the things that get overlooked are things like load factors.

“Airlines used to regularly fly at 70 per cent full … now, when it’s more like 90 per cent, you’ve suddenly got a massive increase in efficiency.”

Harbison says while airlines are undoubtedly very good at marketing their green initiatives, their efforts are genuine.

“The airlines really don’t have any choice … oils are not going to last forever and then there’s the environmental side,” he says.

“It’s a hard call at the moment, when things are tough and they have short-term issues and competition, to focus on a long-term issue such as fuel but they really need to be doing it.”

Harbison says while airlines are doing their bit and manufacturers are making steady improvements to aircraft engine efficiency, governments need to come to the party to facilitate practical measures such as more efficient air traffic control.

“Governments are very good at putting taxes on private industry but doing little themselves,” he says.

On the positive side, aviation and other methods of transport could actually provide a use for the grease that comes out of the deep fryers at your favourite fast food chain.

A leading provider of biofuels, Dynamic Fuels in the US, says both animal fats and “yellow grease”, predominantly vegetable-based oil, can be turned into a clean fuel that replaces the need for petroleum.

Among the list of sources from which the company says it can create renewable, synthetic fuel are poultry fat, beef fat, soybean oil, oil from the jatropha plant and oil cultivated from algae.

Dynamic Fuels says it can even use fat recovered from wash water that has been used in the process of beef rendering.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced that it is working on a world-first “low carbon aviation fuel” derived from waste gases in industrial steel production.

The gases can be captured, fermented and chemically converted to jet fuel rather than being burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

The carrier says the fuel, which has half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative, has the potential to be rolled out for worldwide commercial use.

Virgin Atlantic aims to be using the new fuel on selected routes in two to three years’ time and says the cost will be comparable to conventional jet fuel.

Falling into line

Among the many ideas put forward for greener aviation is aircraft flying in formation to improve aerodynamics. A report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in Britain says long-haul aircraft flying in a V-shaped formation could yield fuel savings of up to 12 per cent and cut nitrogen oxide emissions (a major issue, along with carbon emissions) by a quarter.

The report suggests future planes could be autonomous, controlled by computers rather than pilots. Remote sensing equipment and infrared cameras would allow the aircraft to “autonomously position” itself to “make the maximum use of the vortexes from the aircraft ahead of them”.



How to Escape the Concrete Jungle: Carbon Negative Cement?

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

How to Escape the Concrete Jungle:  Carbon Negative Cement?

The Portland cement industry acknowledges that it is responsible for 5% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, more than aviation. UK-based Novacem is developing a cement that is, it claims, carbon negative. And an exciting new product from Lafarge, one of the world’s largest cement makers,  is Aether, which has 25-30% fewer CO2 emissions and can be made in existing plants with the same raw materials but needs less energy.

By Paul Miles in Financial Times  (20 January 2012):

Can the development of carbon-negative cement clean up the heavily polluting construction industry?

The town of Concrete in Skagit County, Washington, was named in 1909 when Washington Portland Cement and Superior Portland Cement were its most influential companies

In the early 1900s, inventor Thomas Edison had a flash of inspiration: concrete homes, cast in one piece. Concrete bathtubs and beds would be integral to the design. Occupants could even play concrete pianos. Unsurprisingly, such homes weren’t as successful as Edison’s light bulbs. Few were made – pouring concrete into a mould the size of a house proved tricky – but some still stand in New Jersey.

Concrete is made from cement mixed with water, sand and aggregate, such as gravel. The cement that had become popular in Edison’s day – Portland cement – was invented in England in 1824 and named after rock from the Isle of Portland that it resembled. Edison owned one of the first cement works in the US and needed customers. Concrete homes would require tonnes of the material. As for marketing, the Edison Portland Cement Company published a book, The Romance of Cement.

Our affair endured. Portland cement and concrete paved the way for America’s growth, for its dams and skyscrapers, and today is one of the most commonly used building materials worldwide. Strong, long-lasting, cheap (about 15 cents per kg) and … everywhere.

According to Cembureau, the body that represents the industry in Europe, more than 3bn tonnes of Portland cement were manufactured in 2010. That’s enough for 30bn tonnes of concrete, or about 4 tonnes per person. By 2050, worldwide production is estimated to reach 4.4bn tonnes.

This causes concern for some in the construction industry. “Whole mountains are being ground down to get the raw ingredients of cement,” says Rob McLeod, a designer of Passivhaus Homes (which need no or few fossil fuels to heat or cool). “Using one tonne of [Portland] cement results in nearly one tonne of CO2 being released into the atmosphere,” he says.

The Portland cement industry acknowledges that it is responsible for 5 per cent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, 3 percentage points more than aviation (although aviation also produces other greenhouse gases and, at altitude, they are three times as damaging). “Portland cement requires that limestone be heated to 1,450 centigrade,” says Paul Tennis of the Portland Cement Association, which represents the industry in the US. “About 60 per cent of [CO2] emissions are due to the chemical reaction that occurs when limestone – calcium carbonate – is burnt.” Heating the kiln to such a high temperature – with fossil fuels – accounts for most of the remaining 40 per cent.

The most obvious way to reduce emissions is to use less of the stuff. Passivhaus is constructing homes with little or no concrete by building them on wooden pilings with small concrete foundations (or used tyres and rocks), rather than the conventional slabs that require 40 tonnes of concrete for a typical semi-detached house.

Reducing consumption is not a strategy that the cement industry is willing to consider. Its first line of attack is to improve fuel efficiency. Lafarge, one of the world’s largest cement companies, makes 150m tonnes of cement annually. It claims to have reduced CO2 emissions by 20 per cent over 20 years: from 774kg per tonne in 1990 to 606kg per tonne in 2010.

“We’ve refurbished old plants to make them more efficient and use less fossil fuel by burning alternatives, like old tyres, and biomass, such as rice husks,” says Vincent Mages, vice-president of climate change initiatives at Lafarge.

Portland cement can also be blended with waste (Mages prefers to call it “byproducts”) from other industries – fly ash from coal-fired power stations and blast-furnace slag from the iron industry. They contain minerals that, in the presence of an activator such as a small amount of Portland cement, form a “hydraulic cement” (one that can harden underwater).

“Through blending, [CO2] emissions from cement can be reduced by 40 per cent [compared to ordinary Portland cement]; a waste product is diverted from landfill and more mining is avoided,” says Mages. But there’s only so far you can go in reducing emissions when the chemical reaction that creates cement produces CO2.

A more exciting new product from Lafarge is Aether, which has 25-30 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than ordinary Portland cement. It can be made in existing plants with the same raw materials but, crucially, needs less energy. Aether is just one of “a handful” of alternatives that emit less CO2 than Portland cement, says Dr Martin Schneider of the European Cement Research Academy (ECRA). One alternative cement that “excites” him is Celitement, claimed to emit 50 per cent less CO2 than ordinary Portland cement in its manufacture.

Developing “alternative cements” is of increasing interest (ECRA held its first conference on the topic in May 2011). After all, only a quirk of history led to the use of Portland cement. Other cements suitable for mortar have been around for millennia. They may not suit all of today’s construction: Roman concrete, used to make the Pantheon, would have needed a year or more to fully harden.

With the growth of a low-carbon building industry, an alternative class of cements, called geopolymers, may soon be widely found in buildings and pavements. Australian company Zeobond has been developing E-Crete ready-mix concrete. It is made with a geopolymer cement that, claims chief executive Peter Duxson, emits up to 80 per cent less CO2 than ordinary Portland cement in its manufacture.

Zeobond started making geopolymer paving slabs in 2008. Now a library in Melbourne has been specified solely in E-Crete for its walls and pavement. The company produces 3,000 tonnes a year of E-Crete (the average Portland cement plant produces 1m tonnes of cement annually, enough for up to 10m tonnes of concrete) but “economies of scale hinder growth”. It’s a perennial problem with materials that haven’t stood the test of time. “No one wants to be the first to build with them,” says Duxson. “If you were going to build a 100-storey building tomorrow, I’d recommend you use ordinary concrete in the support columns but for the walls and driveway, let’s use a substitute with a better emissions profile.”

One product seems to trump the lot. UK-based Novacem is developing a cement that is, it claims, carbon negative. Based on magnesium silicates rather than calcium carbonate, Novacem claims it absorbs 30kg-100kg of CO2 per tonne. A pilot plant is currently producing 4-5 tonnes of the cement annually. Lafarge has invested £1m. By 2015 Novacem hopes to be making 25,000 tonnes. Raw materials are abundant at 20 tonnes worldwide, says chief executive Stuart Evans, and Novacem cement could be manufactured in existing plants with a retrofit. “It would ‘just’ need the equivalent of a heart and lung transplant.”

Perhaps Novacem will breathe new life into the heavily polluting cement industry and transform it into one that tackles the problem of CO2 emissions. Some experts are yet to be won over. It’s still very early days in the concrete jungle.


Build like an Egyptian

Are some of the building blocks of the Egyptian pyramids concrete rather than hewn rock? It’s a controversial theory but one that is gaining ground. Nuclear magnetic resonance studies by the University of Warwick appear to show that rock from Senefru’s Bent Pyramid is, in fact, man-made. “The ancient Egyptians knew how to make cement from local minerals and used it to bind together stones, forming a crude concrete,” says Dr John Hanna, who co-authored a 2011 paper in Materials Letters.

This ancient Egyptian cement was made from aluminosilicates and alkaline solution, says Hanna. “It was the forerunner of the modern geopolymer cements that are being developed today.”

Professor Joseph Davidovits, of the non-profit Geopolymer Institute in France, was one of the first to propose that Egyptians knew how to make cement and thus concrete. He coined the word geopolymer in the 1970s. These cements – not based on limestone – are fire and chemical-resistant.

Niche products for use in the home are being developed and some are commercially available such as a new chemical and stain-resistant grouting from BASF called PCI Geofug.


Could Rossi’s Cold Fusion Produce Cheap & Clean Energy?

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Could Rossi’s Cold Fusion Produce Cheap & Clean Energy?

Australia is showing sceptical interest in the work of Italian inventor Andrea Rossi, who claims his E-cat machine can take a small amount of energy and drive a reaction between atoms of hydrogen and nickel which can, through an unknown process, produce a large amount of energy, far exceeding the initial energy input. Cold fusion, or a low-energy nuclear reaction, is the seemingly impossible process by which a light element and a heavy element are fused, releasing vast amounts of energy at room temperature.

Nicky Phillips, Philip Chan in Sydney Morning Herald (13 January 2012):

An Italian inventor claims to have developed a machine that can produce large amounts of energy. If verified, entrepreneur Dick Smith is ready to award the group $200,000.

ALL going well, the world’s energy crisis may be solved in the auditorium of the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club.

A community group will gather to discuss the work of an Italian inventor who claims to have developed a machine that can produce large amounts of energy from almost nothing.

The Byron New Energy Charitable Trust, founded by a local retiree, Sol Millin, is hoping to convince prospective investors of the technology’s merit. The mastermind behind the invention, physicist Andrea Rossi, will appear via Skype.

The entrepreneur Dick Smith has sent a consulting aerospace engineer, Ian Bryce, who has a science background, to assess the machine on his behalf.

If Mr Bryce, who as a member of the Australian Skeptics has experience testing the scientific veracity of all sorts of weird and wacky things, gives the technology the thumbs-up, Dick Smith will give the group $200,000.

Dr Rossi, who works for the US based Leonardo Corporation, claims his E-cat machine can take a small amount of energy and drive a reaction between atoms of hydrogen and nickel which can, through an unknown process, produce a large amount of energy, far exceeding the initial energy input.

Cold fusion, or a low-energy nuclear reaction, is the seemingly impossible process by which a light element and a heavy element are fused, releasing vast amounts of energy at room temperature.

If the process works, not only can it produce energy, but it can be done without the heat required by nuclear fusion, a process harnessed by the sun, and without the dangerous radiation produced by nuclear fission.

So far, Mr Rossi’s invention has been greeted with much cynicism by the scientific community.

Mr Bryce is sceptical too, but says the machine has the support of six physicists, including two Swedish professors.

”I’ll need to see some more evidence before committing the money,” he said.

Mr Millin, who first heard about the E-cat last year, believes a healthy dose of scepticism is a good thing.

Nevertheless, he is convinced the machine is the single device that could save the world.

”[It is] far more efficient than coal. It’s absolutely clean, no radiation and no bad waste,” he said.


Italian inventor Andrea Rossi has revealed that the first E-Cat Fusion factory will be located in Florida, USA. Plans are also underway to put up another factory in Massachusetts. As this develops, the plan to start production of the Rossi energy catalyzer device this autumn is going as scheduled. It is expected that the sales of the Low energy Nuclear Reaction technology powered E-Cat will commence in the US by winter of this year.

Although his company, Leonardo Corporation, is interested to have hedge funds investors, Rossi made it clear that he only welcomes them if they are will to invest a small percentage investment.  The inventor also elaborated that they are not so much interested in family investors since the E-Cat Fusion business is still quite risky. He also revealed that they plan to go public eventually.

A picture of the 10 kW Rossi energy catalyzer for home use is now emerging. In this radio interview done by Sterling D. Allan from PESN and conducted on the Australian radio show Smart Scarecrow, Rossi described the E-Cat as having the size of a portable computer. There will be no H2 canisters to be utilized in the energy catalyzer device because it can be recharged using the so called energy sticks.  Its reactor is designed to store and recycle the H2 hence it will only need picograms of H2.

The E-Cat Fusion home units will be able to run in self-sustain mode.  Rossi revealed that they were able to detect 512 keV 180 deg Gammas . In another development, he also said that the first 1 MW Rossi Plant manufactured is now in modification and that 12 additional 1 MW Rossi plants are currently in production. This latest news about the E-Cat is the first confirmation that the energy catalyzer device factory in Florida will be operational by autumn of this year.

The impact of Andrea Rossi’s e-cat fusion to the environment is often pointed out in the news. This low energy nuclear reaction technology can produce unlimited energy that is not only unbelievably cheap but clean as well. In fact, it could even help stop global warming. It is interesting to note that the device does not use radioactive materials. Thus, it does not leave radioactive waste and most importantly prevents environmental damage. It can be easily considered as a dream technology of many people who are concerned about the environment.

Wind and solar power are currently the two clean technologies that are popularly used today. However, these green alternatives are still not at par with the cost and efficiency of traditional fossil and nuclear power. If Rossi’s e-cat fusion proves valid and many people embrace its potential uses, the first commercially successful LENR device could be a genuine contender replacing fossil and nuclear in terms of energy production. Wind and solar power could merge with the Italian inventor’s energy catalyzer and utilize its unlimited energy. For sure, many people could become very excited if the technology makes a successful entry onto the scene. If this was the case, skeptics would stop all the bickering.

If the e-cat fusion penetrates the conventional and scientific community, it could strengthen the advocacy of environmental awareness. National and international debates surrounding the pros and cons of e-cat to the environment would take place. Of course, it is not going to be smooth and easy. Government policies might be affected with the entrance of a new technology that could solve the world’s energy concerns. There are many things that remain unknown when it comes to this device. If the e-cat proves that it really works, it might even lead to political revolts and environmental uprising.


Energy Efficient Empire State Building Cuts $4.4 Million off Annual Power Bill

Posted by admin on January 23, 2012
Posted under Express 159

Energy Efficient Empire State Building Cuts $4.4 Million off Annual Power Bill

Clean technology may have been a political hot potato in 2011, but energy efficiency is becoming downright cool. A major overhaul at the iconic Empire State Building helped raise its profile as that project  alone –  which included replacing 6,500 windows, adding insulation, upgrading lighting, and installing a digital wireless monitoring system – is powering a 38% annual energy reduction and US$4.4 million in annual savings.

By Joel Makower in Green Biz (19 January 2012):

Clean technology may have been a political hot potato in 2011, but energy efficiency is becoming downright cool.

A major overhaul at the iconic Empire State Building helped raise the profile of energy efficiency. That project — which included replacing 6,500 windows, adding insulation, upgrading lighting, and installing a digital wireless monitoring system — is powering a 38 percent annual energy reduction and $4.4 million in annual savings.

Publicity surrounding the project — from the likes of Presidents Clinton and Obama, not to mention major flogging by the companies and nonprofits involved with the $13 million project — amounts to a towering achievement for energy efficiency, which has remained in the background, an unheralded hero, for years.

The Empire State Building wasn’t the only aging star getting an energy makeover. Sixty-odd blocks downtown, the 104-year-old New York Stock Exchange building replaced more than 7,000 square feet of windows with super-insulating SeriousGlass. The windows were designed to increase the thermal performance by almost 60 percent and reduce solar heat gain by 40 percent compared to the original glass. Clearly, there’s a bull market for saving energy.

Such initiatives are destined to grow, thanks in part to federal government efforts to promote building efficiency, along with other initiatives by US cities and states. But the impacts are limited to date.

It’s not just buildings. The federal government issued the first-ever efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and proposed new standards for passenger vehicles. The truck standard will reduce fuel use by up to 23 percent, depending on truck type, while the passenger vehicle standard should bring average new vehicle fuel economy to just under 50 miles per gallon by 2025. The feds also introduced new efficiency standards for appliances like residential refrigerators and air conditioners and furnaces.

The big question is whether consumers will join in. To date, individuals haven’t found much appetite for efficiency measures, short of turning off switches or swapping out a few light bulbs — if that.

But that’s changing. Cool technologies are starting to make home energy efficiency more compelling, such as a smart thermostat from Nest Labs, created by one of the designers of Apple’s iPod. Smartphone apps from companies as varied as ecobee and General Electric allow for near-real-time information about home energy use.

Facebook joined forces with Opower and the Natural Resources Defense Council to allow members to benchmark their home energy use against a national database of millions of homes, as well as with their friends. Best Buy announced plans to start carrying home energy management tools, and Pike Research predicted that worldwide users of home energy management systems will reach 63 million by 2020, up from just over 1 million in 2011.

Clearly, we are only at the beginning of a new era of energy efficiency, as continuous innovations in techno-wizardry make our homes, vehicles, office buildings, appliances, and devices increasingly efficient. The ability for anyone to get real-time, detailed information about their energy use portends a new democratization of energy among consumers. The question, of course, is whether all of this intelligence will actually smarten, and change, individual habits.