Category: Sustainability

February 23, 2012 • Current Events, Sustainability

Don’t Throw That Cell Phone Away in the EU

by Rose Shaver

A new law updating the 2003 Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) was recently passed by the European Parliament to curb the dumping electronic goods such as mobile phones, computers and TV sets in landfills. According to EU officials, only about 33% of e-waste is disposed of properly and is often exported illegally to poorly-equipped developing countries, where e-waste recyclers are regularly exposed to health hazards. continue

February 2, 2012 • Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Green Buildings, Sustainability

Here comes $4 billion in energy efficiency projects

by Jackie Cobb

Recently, President Obama announced a $4 billion effort to improve the energy efficiency of both government and private-sector buildings here in the U.S. The investment of $4 billion, to be spent on energy-efficiency projects over the next two years, intends to “save billions in energy costs, promote energy independence and, according to independent estimates, create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.” continue

January 31, 2012 • Sustainability

New wave of investor pressure

by Jackie Cobb

In my last blog post, I talked about The Economist detailing a forecast for the energy industry in 2012. Well, it just so happens that the same “World in 2012” issue calls out the importance of water scarcity when it comes to business disclosure and investor scrutiny. continue

October 19, 2011 • Current Events, Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability

Driving past windmills on the way to the Windy City

by Roger Durham

My wife and I were on our way to Chicago for a long weekend. We were taking in the sites, wondering if we should stop in Lafayette on the way back to see Purdue University’s campus when we came around a bend in I-65 and saw something completely disorienting. Actually, the disorientation was not immediate.

“Look,” my wife said, “there are some windmills over there, giant windmills.” We made this trip to Chicago a

Close Encounters

couple of years earlier and didn’t see any windmills. It was like they had just appeared overnight. They were pretty cool looking, for the first couple of miles. But those few windmills become dozens and those dozens became hundreds. They were spinning slowly, majestically and some of them were very close to the interstate. continue

October 11, 2011 • Current Events, Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Sustainability

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8….. Light!

by Hannah Miller

The Fibonacci Spiral

Someone recently said the words “Fibonacci” and “solar panels” to me, and my ears immediately pricked up. I’ve always been intrigued by the Fibonacci sequence and my first thought was of the PBS show Square One and its segment, MathNet, where I first learned about it.

But this decade’s reference to Fibonacci isn’t fiction. A seventh grader from New York named Aidan recently won the 2011 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History for his work identifying how the Fibonacci sequence can help increase electricity output of solar panels. continue

August 17, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Happy “low carbon” summer holidays!

by Sara Hoefkens

About two weeks ago, as I was sipping from a cocktail on a white-pebbled beach in a Greek bay with crystal blue clear water, I started thinking about the enormous amount of energy that is used every year in making people’s summer holidays happen. Holidays account for a surprising amount of the energy we use each year, with flights, driving, hotel stays and added extras like boat trips all contributing to our carbon footprint. continue

August 12, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Perspectives, Sustainability

Charge it up! Battery power of the future

by AmyHiggs

When I was but a wee tot, I really, really wanted a pink, battery-powered Barbie car. I coveted. Oh, yes. My parents, however, had sense enough not to shell out $400 for a piece of plastic that zipped along at 0.2 miles an hour and that I likely would have plowed into the family dog as soon as I took the wheel. I had to settle for a “manual” toy car that I powered myself through a hole in the floorboard — a la “The Flintstones.” I probably got going faster in that thing than I would have in the Barbie-mobile. I definitely got more exercise!

I hadn’t thought about those childhood toys in years, until I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air back in June. The host talked to the senior editor for Popular Science magazine, Seth Fletcher, about his new book, “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy.” Fletcher believes that “advanced lithium batteries could hold the key to an environmentally sustainable, oil-independent future.” Read more here. continue

August 8, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability

The Summer of Policy – Fuel Economy Standards

by Eric Bickel

The third and final part of the “Summer of Policy” series takes a look at the new fuel economy standards goal released on July 29th from the Obama administration. This is the lightest of the three in terms of content, so it’s sort of like dessert. However, there’s more math involved in this one (so the dessert metaphor kind of breaks down). continue

August 5, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Energy Generation, Natural Gas, Sustainability

The Summer of Policy – Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards

by Eric Bickel

Welcome back to the “Summer of Policy” series! In the first post we discussed CSAPR, and its potential impact on you and me. This time around, we’ll talk about ONGAP…and…its potential impact on you and me. continue

August 3, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Generation, Natural Gas, Sustainability

The Summer of Policy – Cross-State Air Pollution Ruling

by Eric Bickel

Summer 2011 is quickly becoming known as the Summer of Policy Initiatives (trademark: me) as the EPA have recently rolled out two emissions-related policies, while President Obama has just announced a brand new set of fuel economy standards.

Although these policies initially seem straightforward, the toughest part is establishing their indirect impact. Their direct effect on the energy world is usually apparent (as we will see), while the knock-on effects are generally more difficult to predict (as we will also see). So here is a step-by-step guide to the changing world of energy policy, covering these three current and relevant policies (in separate posts, for the sake of both your and my sanity):

  • Cross-State Air Pollution Ruling (CSAPR)
  • Oil and Natural Gas Air Pollution Standards (ONGAP)
  • The Obama Administration Fuel Economy Standards (FES) continue

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