Category: Sustainability

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 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 10, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Perspectives

On the road with eco plastics

by Sarah McKee

Jeff Bridges as "The Dude"

My car (a ’99 Honda Accord with 175,000+ miles) has been paid off for several months now and with all the new entries in the market, I’m officially shopping for a new car.   (The Dude, Jeff Bridges, is quite convincing about the new Hyndai Sonata.)  Fellow WaterCooler blogger, Eric Bickel is also making me see fuel economy in a whole new way.  Now, the question is, do I go hybrid and put into practice a personal sustainability strategy? continue

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

June 28, 2011 • Sustainability

Turning waste into energy

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

June 27, 2011 • Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Natural Gas, Perspectives, Sustainability

Look who’s talking: Experts on the speaking circuit

by AmyHiggs

June has been a whirlwind of activity at Summit, and I’ve had trouble keeping up with everything going on. (Not that this is different than any other month, but I digress.) In the midst of all the standard nuttiness were some speaking gigs by Summit folks who are pretty well known as experts in their fields. continue

June 20, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

The power of the ocean

by Sara Hoefkens

Those of you who read one of my previous blog posts (“About Sailing and Energy Management”) will remember my adoration for ocean sailing. With all these years and miles of sailing, my respect and love for the ocean has grown very strong. That’s why I could not let the month pass by without remembering the annual “World Oceans Day,” celebrated on June 8.

World Oceans Day (WOD) is an opportunity every year to honor the ocean, celebrate the products the ocean provides and appreciate its own intrinsic value. WOD was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, and since then it has been coordinated internationally by The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network with greater success each year in participation and building awareness of how our lives depend on the ocean. It’s actually amazing to consider, but the ocean helps generate most of the oxygen we breathe, feeds us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines and last but not least, forms an inexhaustible source of renewable energy! 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

May 25, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Green Buildings

SEEing is believing: Utility shows off recent innovations

by Emily Tewell

Everyone has different learning styles; some people are very hands-on, including me. For instance, the in-store displays where someone is showing you how “this cleaning agent will be the last one you ever have to buy,” always have crowds of people swarming around. There are people who just want to hear their message, but many want to try it first-hand for themselves. What better way to put yourself out there? When it comes to having a product that you want to introduce to a broad spectrum of customers, so they not only hear about your offerings but experience them first hand, making customers active participants seems like the best idea. According to an article in the marketing magazine BtoB, this is exactly what Southern California Edison realized when they were looking for ways to show off their energy efficiency projects. continue

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