March 2008

Monthly Archive

CEC Report: Biggest, Easiest CO2 Emissions Cuts…Green Buildings

Posted by on 30 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: climate change, energy, green building, research & reports

As I begin a very expensive green remodel project, its heartening to read this news:

Promoting the green design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings could cut North American greenhouse gas emissions that are fuelling climate change more deeply, quickly and cheaply than any other available measure, according to a new report issued by the trinational Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).

North America’s buildings cause the annual release of more than 2,200 megatons of CO2 into the atmosphere, about 35 percent of the continent’s total. The report says rapid market uptake of currently available and emerging advanced energy-saving technologies could result in over 1,700 fewer megatons of CO2 emissions in 2030, compared to projected emissions that year following a business-as-usual approach. A cut of that size would nearly equal the CO2 emitted by the entire US transportation sector in 2000.

Press release continues…

Read the full report: Green Building in North America: Opportunities and Challenges

Smart Appliances

Posted by on 30 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: green building

Electrolux Inspiro

Its a great time to be remodeling a kitchen with a growing range of ‘smart’ appliances like the new Inspiro oven from Electrolux. Less energy, easier cooking. Sounds like a great combination. Check out the video…

Biomimicry Gets Two Thumbs Up from Paul Saffo

Posted by on 29 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: biomimicry

Photo of futurist Paul Saffo
Paul Saffo is one of the world’s leading futurists so it’s great to see him talking up Biomimicry.

“And yet Saffo finds biomimicry — a term that describes biologically inspired design — just as interesting. For him, there’s symmetry between the architect who borrows from the working processes of the human body and nomadic workers who follow paths of least resistance to exploit their talents profitably, wherever those paths might take them.” More via Motley Fool…

Saffo said most famously Our tendency to overestimate the short-term impact of a new technology, while underestimating the long-term impact.” Too often our world view is based on early hype that doesn’t pan out, which means many technologies (think solar or low flush toilets) take longer to go mainstream because of early bad experiences. Saffo’s comments keep us attentive to what lies over the horizon. Well worth reading.

GreenPlumbers: The Future of Plumbing

Posted by on 27 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: cleantech, enablers, water

I sat in on a presentation by Steve Lehtonen at PG&E this week and learned about a terrific new initiative:

GreenPlumbers® was developed by the Master Plumbers’ and Mechanical Services Association of Australia. (MPMSAA). The enormously successful training and accreditation program is being introduced in the United States through an exclusive agreement between MPMSAA and the Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association of California.

The GreenPlumbers® Contractor Licensing Program is being introduced in the United States through an exclusive agreement between the Green Invest LTD of Australia and Onni, Inc. of the United States.

The Australian GreenPlumbers® program has revitalized the plumbing industry’s culture and image in Australia. Since its implementation in 2001, MPMSAA/GreenPlumbers® has accredited more than 5,000 plumbers throughout Australia. MPMSAA is in the process of adding new courses to the curriculum in 2008.

The program and the emerging technologies have been a major catalyst in helping to reduce water consumption levels by up to 50% from 1990 levels.

Steve Lehtonen’s presentation: GreenPlumbers: The Future of Plumbing

Getting into Hot Water

Posted by on 25 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: green building

Clickdiagram for larger version.

Work on our green remodel begins next week. There are 101..maybe 1001!…things to consider. Fortunately our local utility provider PG&E runs a regular series of workshops and events. Today’s focused on water. I met some interesting folks including the CEO of Metlund, makers of “Advanced Conservation Technologies: D’MAND Hot Water Systems”:

At the push of a button, the D’MAND® System circulates the ambient temperature water in the hot water pipes (water that is normally lost down the drain) back to the water heater. This occurs up to 80% faster than just letting the water run down the drain—the usual scenario. Depending on the plumbing layout, the route and time can vary. The Metlund D’MAND System moves the water so rapidly, that hot water arrives at the fixtures before the heat is lost through the pipe. Continued…

D’MAND looks like it would play very well with our planned hot water system which will combine rooftop solar thermal system,

an on-demand electric water heater,

and a large well insulated storage tank.

Many other interesting efficiency-related systems on display. I’ll blog more over the next few days.

Green-is-Chic Books – 70 Arriving this Summer!

Posted by on 24 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: books

Joel Makower turns his attention to ‘save the earth’ books and offers his trademarked wry commentary.

It will be interesting to watch the book unfold anew. A lot has changed — but in some ways not much has. People are still looking for answers — and simple ones are pretty compelling…

….Of course, Javna’s book will have to compete with all the others — a recent issue of the book industry bible, Publishers Weekly, listed no fewer than 70 green books coming out this spring and summer, many advocating easy ways to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. They include at least one derivative title — Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying as well as a spate of eco-fabulous titles: the Eco Chick Guide to Life; Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style; Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life; Green Is the New Black: How to Change the World with Style; and Gorgeously Green: 5 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.

Oh, right: and Green Living for Dummies.

With this abundance of green-is-chic books, will it be enough to merely “save the earth”? We’ll see.

Continue reading…

Have a favorite green book? Then share it with me…

Clean Energy Trends

Posted by on 19 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: energy, research & reports

The latest annual edition of Clean Energy Trends has just been published. Joel Makower and his colleagues at Clean Edge have once again identified key trends affecting clean-energy markets and produced their annual forecast, along with 2007’s investment trends.

The five trends we cover in this year’s Trends report cover electric cars (how all of the action seems to be from smaller players, not the major automotive companies); sustainable cities (the emergence of new, fossil-fuel, carbon-neutral cities – in the Middle East, of all places); wind (how the U.S. market is being driven by foreign companies); geothermal energy (it is experiencing a global renaissance, particularly as large, utility-scale projects); and shipping (the new push to create cleaner oceangoing transport, including putting sails on freighters).

Read on…

Hear the Change!

Posted by on 17 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: media, people

Every day…another doom and gloom report…you could be forgiven for thinking the problems facing humanity are insurmountable. What gives me hope is that so many smart folks from the hi-tech field are moving into the sustainability. Folks like old acquaintance Doug Kaye:

Check out Dougs Social Innovation Podcasting Channel, an initiative with the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Social Innovation Conversations’ mission is to expand the reach of important and valuable knowledge to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it by recording and sharing the spoken words of thought leaders in all sectors and disciplines and offering listeners a multi-stakeholder perspective on the world grand challenges and social issues.”

Join now – its free!


Posted by on 14 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: biomimicry, business

Ken Thompson, a former European IT Manager with Reuters, has mapped out a new organization model “bioteams” based, based on nature’s best designs:

In his book, Bioteams, Thompson offers a way to build exceptionally agile, high performing teams based on a thorough examination of the key communication principles that underpin nature’s most successful groups — from signal bursts of migrating flocks of geese, to the waggle dance of honeybees, to the pheromone trails laid down by ants. Based on nature’s communication patterns, he provides a complete set of practical techniques that have been proven with real teams in the field, whose stories are described in a comprehensive set of case studies in the book. According to Thompson, “Using the principles of bioteaming, command-and-control leadership gives way to connect-and-collaborate, where every member of an organizational team is a ‘leader.’ In nature and in bioteams, leaders don’t give commands, they transmit information, trusting the team members’ competencies and gaining accountability through transparency. True team leadership is about cooperation, not control. It’s about acting on opportunities, and letting others lead the leader when they know best about getting stuff done.”

Yesterday I participated in the quartely board meeting of the Biomimicry Institute and I’m pleased to report this book is just one of dozens of new initiatives based on nature’s billions of years of R&D.

Just Imagine – from CNN International

Posted by on 12 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: biomimicry, liveable cities, video

Check out a new series of short interview/documentaries from CNN International “Just Imagine”, especially the third in the series that centers Livable Cities and the role of biomimicry in solving some of our greatest challenges. More to follow!

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