Category: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

February 8, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives, Sustainability

The Hits Just Keep Coming for Cap and Trade

by Rich Wilson

If you are keeping up with the developments in Congress around “Cap and Trade” and the newest incarnation moving through the House, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, then you can picture the face-off this appears to be. Essentially, you have two sides, which are bickering on points that would benefit from a little round-table discussion. What we need here is a little peace, love and understanding.

First, we have the Cap and Trade folks who want to insert regulation, which will hold large greenhouse-gas emitters responsible for polluting. In a nutshell, the process would work like this: A company is told they can produce a certain amount of pollutants (Cap), and depending if the company over-pollutes or under-pollutes, they can purchase or sell credits (Trade) to ensure compliance under the proposed system. Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast, because this produced a firestorm of critics and lobbying efforts to denounce even the thought of a Cap and Trade system. Opposition runs the gamut from paranoid (the government is trying to control everything) to financial (the excess costs a company would incur would be passed to the end customer, which would spiral Americans into a desolate country of glorified panhandlers.) continue

January 28, 2011 • Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

On the “Elegance” of Nuclear Energy

by Wyatt Taylor

It appears I started something with my last post on nuclear power, as my colleagues Dominic Barbato and Kevin Cowart have added posts on nuclear power in the last couple of weeks. I’d like to return the favor by elaborating on something Dominic wrote.

Dominic commented on the “scientific elegance of harnessing the power of the atom.” Indeed, the scientific concept of nuclear energy is remarkably simple and efficient, which makes it all the more amazing that this source of energy has gone undeveloped in this country for more than 30 years. continue

January 27, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Perspectives, Sustainability

Sustainability = Brand Management.

by Kent Evans

I truly enjoyed this MIT Sloan Review article regarding sustainability and innovation. Not only was it well-researched and written, but I particularly warmed up to one of its key findings: the primary driver for enhancing a company’s sustainability position is how it affects their brand. Music to a marketer’s ears.

Getting a clear definition of “brand management” can be tricky. Depending on who you ask, you get different answers. Branding giants like Interbrand have claimed to be able to put an economic value on a company’s brand. Business valuations have upheld that “brand equity” can drive significantly higher earnings multiples, elevating an organization’s financial value. Brand value is real, but it can be hard to succinctly define. Its meaning will likely evolve over time like “corporate communication” has in light of Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices. For our purposes here, let’s say that brand management is any activity that  affects someone’s opinion of a product or organization. So, in essence, it’s perception management.

(I can hear the brand management purists groaning now…) continue

January 14, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability

GO Green!

by Katie Schultz


Recently, I got together with a few friends for a game night. As we discussed which game we wanted to start with, we began to talk about how Monopoly gets a bad reputation for occasions like these. The game starts off fun enough, but then it drags on into eternity and three hours later all you have to show for it (if you’re lucky) is a handful of fake money and a few plastic houses. I guess we all felt sorry for ol’ Monopoly—not to mention we were curious to see if we could actually finish the game without quitting. The decision was made.

There are literally hundreds of versions of Monopoly, but the style du jour was Earthopoly. This environmentally friendly game uses ink that is soy-based and each of the game pieces comes directly from nature or is fully recyclable (a corn kernel, a bean, a shell, a rock, a piece of a bamboo shoot, and a wooden triangle). Even the dice are wooden! continue

January 3, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation

Whither the Nuclear Power Revolution?

by Wyatt Taylor

nuclear power plant

I’ve been reading articles about the coming nuclear power “renaissance” or “revolution” for years now, but America’s energy future never seems to arrive.

For a while there, it appeared the economic and political climates had aligned in favor of nuclear expansion for the first time in decades. The industry had worked hard to rebrand nuclear energy as a clean energy, focusing on the fact that it produces no greenhouse gas emissions and is more efficient and dependable than wind and solar. Such efforts caught the attention of politicians anxious to transform America’s carbon-heavy energy diet into a more climate-friendly, “green” energy future.

In 2008, presidential nominees from both major parties spoke favorably of including nuclear power as a part of the country’s sustainability strategy. The Obama administration proposed an additional $37 billion in federal loan guarantees for the construction of new reactors. About 30 new reactors were making their way through the application process, with four already under construction.

Then along came the Great Recession. continue

December 7, 2010 • Perspectives

UK Energy Costs – Now and In the Future

by Noreen Guy

The early onslaught of winter in the UK prompted a major escalation in prices for gas and power. Compared to just a month ago, day-ahead gas increased by 37%, first quarter gas for 2011 increased by 14%, and summer gas for 2011 increased by 11%. As usual, power moved in similar fashion continue

December 1, 2010 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability

Honey, Where Is My Cap And Trade?

by Rich Wilson

Ahhh, bipartisanship. The inner workings of our beloved government can strike feelings of frustration, confusion and an overall sense of general disorder in the typical layman. Many would associate the shift in power and control in Congress with the sometimes violent childhood game of Red Rover. The verbal swipes between parties seem even more similar to “clotheslining” the kid down the street. Well, at least to me.

Take the friendly topic of “cap and trade,” which began innocently enough as a program to curb pollutants. The overall goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large producers by 17% by 2020. Sounds great, right? Well supporters of a cap-and-trade system believe it will be positive both economically continue

November 17, 2010 • Energy Generation, Sustainability

Strange farming and sustainablity, what’s not to love?

by Rich Wilson

More and more people are beginning to focus on the practice of sustainability and the impact we have on the overall environment. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a discussion about Biodynamic Farming. Now most of us have heard of organic farming, but the practice of Biodynamic Farming goes way beyond the norm. Let me walk you through this.

From the Sustainable Table:
March 21st involves one more notable item – a cow horn packed with dung. Otherwise known as Preparation 500 to Biodynamic farmers worldwide, manure–filled cows’ horns are buried on the autumnal equinox and carefully unearthed exactly six months later on the spring equinox, the first day of spring. The manure is removed and stirred with water in a process called “dynamization”, which creates a vortex that cosmic energy can be funneled into. The homemade brew is then sprayed upon the fields to stimulate the soil, promote root activity and contribute to good bacteria growth. continue

November 9, 2010 • Energy Efficiency, Green Buildings, Sustainability

Energy efficiency, smart buildings & city-wide collaboration

by Hannah Miller

Next time you visit the Windy City, you may walk into a building that not only knows to dim the lights when people aren’t around, but also knows when the city as a whole is using too much power and the AC should be turned down – and then gets paid for it.

It has become clear that companies large and small alike can’t afford not to know their energy consumption, spend or greenhouse gas emissions. And once they know it, they can’t afford to leave it unmanaged, following the whim of the weather or the market. Energy management is a fact not only of corporate life, but also of city life. Recently New York City installed real-time wireless water meters in 834,000 homes in the city to better know and track the water usage in the city. ComEd in Chicago hosted a competition for some of Chicago’s suburbs to see which neighborhood could reduce their power consumption by the greatest amount, with 34.9 million kilowatt hours saved throughout the yearlong competition across nine areas in the city. continue

November 4, 2010 • Emerging Technology

Size matters not.

by Dominic Barbato

“Size matters not…look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?”

For all you Star Wars fans out there (and for those of you who are not, shame on you!), Yoda’s wise words seem to fit this blog entry nicely. Recently, I read an article in the June 2010 issue of FastCompany titled “Supertiny Power Plants”, which highlighted some potential uses for piezoelectric materials.

Pizza, what?! I know, right? I was lost too, but the it’s pretty simple really. “Piezo” is a Greek word meaning to press or squeeze. Simply stated, piezeoelectric materials are able to generate an electric current in response to an applied mechanical strain (such as pressing or squeezing). You may remember from your high school physics class that electromagnetic induction (i.e., the production of a voltage) occurs when conductive material moves within a magnetic field. The generation turbines at a power plant apply this principle on a grand scale by rapidly spinning very large coils of wire inside even larger magnets. The rotation of the wire within the magnetic field creates an electric current which is then transferred over power lines for use at your home. continue

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