Category: managing energy

July 12, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability

Google invests in residential solar projects

by Rich Wilson

For a few years now, clean energy and sustainable business practices have been driving large-scale efforts inside companies of all sizes. Whether the end goal was cheap energy, response to impending government regulation or even a little positive media exposure, evidence of the new green corporate landscape is everywhere. The green movement is gaining a substantial amount of momentum with little evidence of slowing down, due to large-scale implementation of energy efficiency projects. I recently stumbled on an article that discussed how Google has invested $280 million through a partnership with SolarCity, a California-based solar design and installation company. continue

May 31, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives, Travel & Leisure

Fun with gas prices

by Wyatt Taylor

With summer upon us, Americans are once again engaged in a grand old tradition: griping about high gas prices. Our pain at the pump has been acute for the last few months, and it doesn’t seem likely to get better any time soon. Over the holiday weekend, as gas prices spiked, I ran a little demand response program of my own – spending the long weekend in the comfort of my home instead of burning gas on a road trip. In times like these, our political leaders are quick to sell the public on convenient villains, from evil OPEC to those dastardly oil companies. Still, we all know that those who are the first to assign blame usually deserve a bit of it themselves. continue

April 13, 2011 • Sustainability

Go Big Red, er, Green!

by Sarah McKee

WKU Office of Sustainability

WKU is home, not only to my college years, but also to the Hilltoppers, the red towel and the big blob mascot known as Big Red.  Red is the most common color found on “the hill,” the term students and alumni lovingly use to refer to the steepest climb you’ll ever face at 7:30 in the morning.  Now, Western Kentucky University is adding another color to its palette: green! continue

March 30, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Energy's Lighter Side

Residential Demand Response is Gathering Momentum

by Chad Holder

Twiggy, the Water-Skiing Squirrel

Like a squirrel on water skis, technology never ceases to amaze me. The fact that I can program my DVR from my smart phone or track my pizza preparation online really brings out my inner geek. For my latest blog post, I decided to research the effect of technology on Demand Response (DR). From a discussion standpoint, DR has raised its redheaded stepchild status to Sustainability Servicesgolden child. As it happens, Demand Response is steadily moving from being a lucrative initiative for select companies to becoming an increasingly important cost-saving concept for residences. continue

March 22, 2011 • Perspectives

It’s a (energy) data-driven world …

by Sara Hoefkens

We live in a world that is increasingly data-rich. Each day, we use data, we generate data and we access countless different data sources and information. Most of these, we access via the web: online newspapers, bank accounts, travel arrangements, social networking, etc. But we also use data outside of the web, for instance through our gps system in the car. Imagining our lives without having access to various data sources has simply become very hard, not to say unthinkable.

And at the end of the day, it’s what we DO with these data that makes them so important and valuable. Simply said, it’s all about the VALUE we efficiently extract out of the information we have.

Some people take this motto very seriously and go as far as to apply it in their daily routine in order to obtain self-knowledge through numbers – which is called “self-tracking.” They use a computer, mobile phone, electronic gadget, or pen and paper to record work, sleep, exercise, diet, mood, or anything else…. continue

February 16, 2011 • Travel & Leisure

About sailing and energy management

by Sara Hoefkens

My favourite sport is sailing. They always say that when you go sailing for the first time, you either hate it or you love it. Well, I’ve definitely fallen into that last category. Since I set foot aboard a sailing yacht about 10 years ago, I must have sailed more than 80,000 nautical miles, including 9 transatlantic crossings, on big yachts, on dinghies, in the Caribbean, in the Med, on the North Sea, you name it. I’m seriously hooked!

And come to think of it, I must have been hooked on energy management without ever even realizing it since the day I took on sailing!

Now, what on earth does sailing have to do with energy management? Well, everything. Think about it. Sailing requires energy to make your yacht sail forward. This energy is delivered in the form of wind (and to some extent waves and current), gets transferred to your sailing yacht, and with the right on-board energy management programme (right choice of sails and surface, trim of sails, steering at the right wind angle, tacking, gibing, navigating charts… ) your yacht starts to sail! continue

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 19, 2011 • Energy Efficiency, Perspectives, Sustainability

If 2 is a party, but 3 is a crowd, what is 7 billion?!

by Sara Hoefkens

A new study by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB)  shows that in 2011 the entire world population will hit 7 billion people, assuming that 2.6 new babies are entering our world every second. Twelve  years ago we hit 6 billion people, and 24 years ago we hit  5 billion people. And … fasten your seat belts because the PRB predicts that the entire world population will double itself by 2050!

Reflecting on this enormous boom in world population, a team of experts has prophesied how this possibly could impact – for good or bad – Earth’s energy sources in the next 25 years. Providing sufficient energy to allow everyone to lead decent lives will be an enormous challenge whilst returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option. continue

January 17, 2011 • Energy Innovation, Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

Offensive Coordinators are Communists

by Ann Barczak

strategies in football...strategies in energy...

I never miss an opportunity to relate football to any subject.  As a manager with direct reports, I used to hold a “Monday Morning Quarterback” meeting each week.  We would review relevant topics such as “never let it come down to your kicker,” or “…to be successful with the Wildcat offense, you have to have the best backs…”  Football is one of those universal sports, that resonates with a variety of people.  Knowing the game has served me well in a male-dominated industry and even prepared me for motherhood -who knew that a  topiary could be used as a weapon?  “Don’t hit your brother – that’s roughing the passer!  Ten yards from the spot of the foul or you go to bed early!” 

I began my undergraduate studies in the heat of the fall in South Alabama as a co-ed at Auburn University. I spent four years at the loveliest village on the plains.  I walked the halls that once housed the likes of Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and John Heisman.   Auburn girls participate in sorority rush a few weeks before classes, but more importantly, we like to be settled on campus in time for the first home football game.   From that first game, until we breathe our last breath, we are officially Auburn Girls.  We know and love football.  We especially love our Tigers. continue

January 10, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Green Buildings, Perspectives

Living Green in Gotham

by Rich Wilson

Here is a simple question for everyone out there: Do you like money? Now, the response to such a question will be wide and probably very interesting, but I would suppose that the inner-capitalist in most of us would answer with a profound, “Of course I do.” Money buys the goods that keep our economy turning; when money is tight, it usually means conversations go from, “Nice weather today” to a glummer “bah humbug” type of response. Due to government policies of the 1980s, we witnessed a jolt to the U.S. economy, prompting a robust recovery and an infusion of capital through tax cuts, spurring the yuppie stereotype. Overall, most of us think of the 80s as the time when greed was the word de jour and the capital flowed, at least until the market crashed. We can go on and on about how cool money, taxes and the 1980s are, but I want to shift gears and transition to the ongoing developments at the Empire State Building. Don’t worry; we will still talk about money. continue

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