Category Archives: Energy Efficiency

What Value Should We Place on Our Future?

Courtesy of the Old Marlovian
Courtesy of the Old Marlovian

By: Alexandra Czastkiewicz

October 2013

The social cost of carbon might not be a conversation that comes up at the dinner table, but realize it or not the implications of global climate change are far reaching and daunting. How important is the fate of the future generation? When your children grow up, what kind of world do you want them to experience? Putting a numeric value on the future is difficult, but it must be done if we are to change the direction of our energy future, and introduce cleaner energy technologies that produce less harmful pollution and emissions.

Coal is perceived as a more economic energy source then many renewable technologies. The Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences recently published an article about the implications of modernizing our electricity systems. The US government needs an official cost estimate associated with the production of CO2 from fossil fuels. According to report, without counting pollution and carbon emissions, coal, on average, costs 3.0 cents/kWh versus wind energy (8.0 cents/kWh) or photovoltaics (13.3 cents/kWh) (Johnson et al. 2013). The government is now trying to take into account the environmental costs of using fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. This includes adding a cost of potential damages caused by the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. These potential and already realized costs include damages and deaths incurred from drought, floods, heat waves, hurricanes and other natural phenomenon that have been exacerbated given human induced climate change. Additionally, the social cost of carbon has serious public safety and health implications. Increased pollution has led to increases in asthma, water contamination, and rises in climate sensitive diseases. Every day our health and wellbeing are being compromised and if we do not change our current energy practices, and it will only continue to worsen for our futures. Continue reading What Value Should We Place on Our Future?

A profile of Freiburg, Germany

A good short profile of the city of Freiburg, Germany, and their many sustainability initiatives. Freiburg is a little more than double Boulder’s size — both in population and area, so it has a similar average population density. It’s also a university town with a strong tech sector locally. The whole city was re-built post WWII, but they chose to build it along the same lines as the old city, with a dense core, and well defined boundaries. Today about half of daily trips are done by foot or on bike, with another 20% on public transit. They have a local energy efficiency finance program, on top of the national one administered by KfW, and higher building efficiency standards than Germany as a whole. Half their electricity comes from combined heat and power facilities that also provide district heating and hot water. It seems like they’d be a good model city to compare Boulder to, and learn from.

Passive Passion a short film about Germany’s Passivhaus Building Energy Efficiency Standard

A beautifully finished Passivhaus building in Dresden, Germany.  With all the PV on the roof, this is almost certainly a net positive energy building.
A beautifully finished Passivhaus building in Dresden, Germany. With all the PV and solar-thermal on the roof, this is almost certainly a net positive energy building.

Passive Passion is a good 20 minute long film introduction to the German Passivhaus energy efficiency standard, which reduces building energy use by 80-95% (depending on what existing code you compare it to).  It looks at the roots of the design standard in Germany, and gives a few examples from the tens of thousands of Passivhaus certified buildings in Europe, including single family homes, row houses, apartment buildings, public low income housing, and office buildings.  They talk about what makes the standard work: airtight building envelopes, super insulation, no thermal bridging, heat recovering ventilation.  The film also looks at a few builders and designers in the US trying to popularize the cost effective implementation of these methods. It’s clearly possible.  The examples are out there today.  We just have to decide to do it!  If we’re going to get to carbon zero, someday our buildings will all have to function something like this.

The film can be viewed online thanks to the enlightened self interest of Four Seven Five, a high performance building components supplier in New York.

A Clean Electricity Vision for Long Island – Supplying 100% of Long Island’s Electricity Needs with Renewable Power

“Could Long Island meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies which are available today?” Prompted by the imminent expiration of Long Island Power Authority’s fossil fuel power purchase agreements in 2013, Renewable Energy Long Island and other member organizations of the Long Island Clean Energy Roundtable posed this question.

To obtain an answer, an analysis was performed by Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm that specializes in assessment of the implications of electricity industry planning, regulation, and restructuring, with funding by the Long Island Community Foundation and the Rauch Foundation.

Synapse Energy Economics’ study report, “A Long Island Clean Electricity Vision – Supplying 100% of Long Island’s Electricity Needs from Renewable Power,” concluded that by the end of this decade, LIPA could meet 100% of its residential electricity needs using clean, renewable sources, and by 2030 “all of Long Island’s electricity could be carbon emission free, and 100% from renewable sources.”

Continue reading A Clean Electricity Vision for Long Island – Supplying 100% of Long Island’s Electricity Needs with Renewable Power

Tokyo Taxi Fleet’s Successful Test-Run of Electric Vehicles

Submitted by amyguinan on September 21, 2010 – 5:56pm

Israeli energy company, Better Place, has successfully launced a test-run of an electric taxi-fleet in Tokyo, Japan.  The taxis pull up to the garage, and in 52 seconds have a new, recharged battery installed to the bottom of the car — less time than it takes to fill a tank of gasoline. There are 60,000 taxis in Tokyo – the largest fleet of any urban center in the world – collectively, they guzzle more than $600 million in gas a year.  With the success of the July launch, other nations including Isreal, China and Denmark are eyeing the possibilities of electric vehicles – and are considering similar test fleets.  Electric vehicles will soon be coming to American showrooms, also.

http://www.energybiz.com/article/10/09/seeds-revolution-electric-transport-triumphs-tokyo