January 26, 2012 • Perspectives
by Allie Heiniger
"I've got to go, Julie. We've got cows." from the movie Twister
Tornadoes have long held the public captive with their ability to destroy all things in their path (I know for
a fact that any energy consultant worth a dime has memorized at least one line from Twister). So I can’t say that I was altogether surprised to hear that tornadoes have the highest energy density of any storm in nature. Despite many claims of harnessing the energy of a tornado (I’m looking at you, Pecos Bill), Mother Nature’s fury has had a mind of its own. That is until Louis Michaud came around.
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
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
June 28, 2011 • Sustainability
by Katie Schultz
Recently, I passed a Waste Management truck with the following message advertised on its side: “The waste we collect helps power over one million homes.” I hastily scribbled a note to myself as a reminder to research Waste Management and find out exactly how they are involved in energy management. continue
As we look to the future of our energy landscape, signals increasingly seem to point to a dynamic reworking of the face of energy. Here are just a few indicators warning of markets primed to shake up conventional wisdom.
Politicians and lobbyists are increasingly focusing on energy management and energy sustainability policies. Perhaps the prominence energy played in President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address is the best indicator of the impact energy is set to have on our political, social, and economic futures.
President Obama’s energy thesis: “Instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”
Signs had been pointing toward much of this investment going toward nuclear power. That is until the recent tsunami caused a potential nuclear plant meltdown threat in Japan. Now, voices are being raised on both sides of the debate: continue
I’m a huge movie fan and there are many reasons why this time of year is one of my favorites: the Oscars, the anticipation of the upcoming year’s movies and the reviews from the Sundance Film Festival. This year I’ve been on such a movie high that I’ve already decided on next year’s vacation — a trip to Sundance to see its glory all for myself!
Although I have a whole year to plan my trip to Utah (the next festival is in January 2012), it was raining today and there’s no better time to plan a vacation than on a rainy afternoon. I’ve officially begun my research. As I checked out the various venues and my lodging options, I learned that the 2011 Sundance Film Festival utilized renewable energy credits to offset the electricity use for the fifth consecutive year. continue
In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama called for the elimination of government subsidies to oil companies, concluding, “instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” The administration estimates that cutting such subsidies will save about $4 billion a year. Considering a recent government report showed the feds wasted more than $125 billion in “improper payments” in 2010, that $4 billion isn’t exactly going to send budget-hawk hearts aflutter. Still, the President’s plan presents some interesting questions: how much do we spend in energy subsidies? What energy sources are the most subsidized? Are the subsidies worth the cost? continue
Pretty much all you have to do to get a marketing person’s attention is call something an “infographic.” It brings the marketers running like Pavlov’s dinner bell. I admit to being a sucker for them, and in our energy management space, we suffer no shortage of creative people trying to visually demonstrate something related to energy benchmarking, greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency projects. Since the first cave drawings were etched by our forefathers, mankind has searched for increasingly compelling ways to share information in a visual context. Infographics are the latest evolutionary step. continue
January 14, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability
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
Kermit knows sustainability.
Kermit the Frog may not have been thinking about renewable energy when he sang, “It’s not that easy being green.” But he could have been. The further we move along the spectrum of energy sustainability, the more true those words seem to be. A post by Drew Voros, appearing in MercuryNews.com, is one of the more recent examples of the complexity surrounding alternative energy sources. As Voros reports, the Altamont Pass and surrounding hills in California, which stand between the San Francisco Bay area and the Central Valley region, have become the stage for an ironic battle between opposing environmental concerns. continue
A favorite show of mine years ago was “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” At the beginning of every show, an eccentric thief would steal a priceless treasure and go on the run. You never knew where in the world you’d find them at the end of the show – maybe France, maybe Argentina. Maybe Egypt, if you were lucky. These days, if you look for what’s going on in the world of renewable energy, you’ll find yourself in much the same situation: You never know where in the world you’ll end up.
You could, for example, end up in Philadelphia continue