Thursday, November 28, 2013

From our friends at The Climate Realty Project/Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, we wanted to send a quick note telling you what we're thankful for:
At Climate Reality, we're powering a social revolution for climate action. And that means fighting climate denial online and in the media every day, training Climate Reality Leaders to inspire communities everywhere to act, spreading the word about what's happening to the planet and how we solve it. And that's just the beginning. But none of it would be possible without you.
So today, we're inviting you to share thanks with your network too. So before you sit down to dinner this evening, go ahead and pass along the thanks with an e-card we designed especially for you.
We're glad to have you with us,

The Climate Reality Family

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sites from Jet Propulsion Labs/

We welcome Son back on Weds and his co-scientist on this project, George Leshkevich.  Listen live to us, 1-2p, EST, this Weds on WARL 1320 over-the-air or stream.
Global Climate Change from JPL

Observe the Vital Signs of the Planet

The agency's mission is to provide the scientific data needed to understand climate change and to evaluate the impact of efforts to control it.

EARTH IMAGES from the JPL Photojournal
NASA Spacecraft Shows Before/After of Typhoon Haiyan's Devastation

NASA Spacecraft Shows Before/After of Typhoon Haiyan's Devastation

On Nov. 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan tore across the central Philippines, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. Among the worst-hit areas is eastern Leyte island and the city of Tacloban, as seen in this image acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft.

NASA's Eyes on the Earth graphic

Explore Earth satellites in 3D

"Eyes on the Earth" is a 3-D visualization experience that lets users "fly along" with NASA's fleet of Earth science missions and observe climate data from a global perspective in an immersive, real-time environment.
Earth Observing Missions

Happy Thanksgiving and some ideas for the kids

Happy Thanksgiving from EdTrips! 

All of us at EdTrips would like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving! Because learning doesn't depend on a classroom, we'd like to share some free educational resources with you, to make this Thanksgiving even more meaningful with family-friendly activities:

Four Free Thanksgiving Activity Resources for Kids

Got the urge to take an impromtu field trip this weekend? There are options for great, family-friendly outings, whether you're interested in art or ecology. Bring family and friends on one of these affordable trips, and create memories that last a lifetime:

Five Post-Thanksgiving Field Trips

We hope you enjoy these resources. But most of all, we hope you have a safe and memorable holiday season!

Best wishes,
The Team at EdTrips

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Polish Environment Minister Sacked As Warsaw Climate Talks Continue

 The climate meetings have not been great.  China and India both refused to see lower carbon emission levels.  This change in Poland forbears possible further investment and dependence on fossil fuels.  Certainly the US needs to step up and show more leadership, including setting a carbon price on economic activity that comes with a heavy environmental price.

This country, the world needs to set a different playing field, using today's data and science, to encourage smart growth.

Marcin Korolec won't lose his title until next week, but activists are concerned his demotion will further reduce the momentum of ongoing UN negotiations.

Members of civil society pose for a photograph after walking out of the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. November 21, 2013. Photo: Luke Vargas/TRNS.

WARSAW, POLAND (TRNS) – For Talk Radio News Service, this is Luke Vargas, reporting from Warsaw Poland.
“We are not disrespecting the United Nations or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is the individual positions that the governments bring here that is holding up this process.”
That was Kumi Naidoo, the Executive Director of Greenpeace, as a large contingent of NGO participants at the ongoing U.N. climate talks in Warsaw walked out of the conference this afternoon.
The 800-person walkout prompted a statement from the chair of the talks, Poland’s Marcin Korolec, who said NGO’s mobilize negotiations to greater efforts and ambitions, and that NGO’s and the conference see eye-to-eye when it comes to climate priorities.
The NGO’s participating in today’s walkout passionately disagreed, with a joint statement from Oxfam, the World Wildlife Foundation, and 11 other groups criticizing the Polish government for plastering the logos of big polluting corporate interests over the venue and putting corporate interests of dirty energy industries over those of global citizens.
In another odd storyline generated by the Polish government, Prime Minister shook up his cabinet yesterday, sacking Korolec from his job as environmental minister, though he will continue to preside over these talks.
“Minister Korolec was certainly a bad minister, and he did deserve being exchanged,” said Iwo Łoś of Greenpeace Poland. “However, the moment in which the Prime Minister took this decision is a very very bad moment. So now firing him means that he get’s a weaker mandate to steer the [U.N. climate] process.”
It didn’t take long for Korolec’s replacement, Maciej Grabowski, to reveal there’s little reason to think he’ll be any more of a comfort to Poland’s environmental community.
In a speech after the announcement of his appointment, Grabowski, a former finance official, said he’s eager to set about maximizing the harvesting of Poland’s shale gas reserves.
Poland, meet fracking.

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Connect Through Hope" David Orr Part I

Electric Bus Fleet Brings Chinese Manufacturing To America

This, to us, is a fascinating story.  We love the global economy and scurry to keep track of all the moving financial pieces.  Here, we have a Chinese electric bus maker, backed by Warren Buffet, bringing manufacturing to the US.

Here's part of the story, the most relevant, positive element for us who focus on the business side of green:

"Those buses LA bought will be manufactured up the road in Lancaster, Calif., next year. Micheal Austin, vice president of BYD America, says it's a huge step for China's auto industry.
"We are the first Chinese vehicle company to come to the U.S. and build a manufacturing plant," says Austin...."
Two weeks ago we interviewed reps from Proterra, an electric bus maker who had just delivered three buses to Worcester, MA.  What surprised us, as we thought back to our conversation with Proterra, was to read here that BYD's buses can run up to 155 miles on a single charge (that is a long way to power a bus full of passengers), and fully charges in five hours.  That is a very good performance.
We'll follow up and contact BYD for a radio interview.  Here's the story:
Public transit vehicles may be the key to China's success in the U.S. auto market. Chinese company BYD, based in Shenzhen, is manufacturing electric buses. It's an appealing option for a place like California, where emission standards are strict.
At BYD's North American headquarters in Los Angeles, one of the 40-foot electric K9 buses sits on display. BYD Fleet Sales Manager James Holtz sits in the driver's seat and pushes the power button on the dashboard.
Unlike a grumbling diesel engine, this electric bus is quiet. Holtz walks out to the rear of the vehicle and opens the back hatch to reveal its electric components.
"Because it's non-internal combustion, you don't have the moving parts," says Holtz. "You don't have the belts, you don't have the soot, you don't have all the oil. It's a lot cleaner."
This bus can run up to 155 miles on a single charge. It's equipped with huge battery packs located inside the bus columns, behind the rear wheels and mounted on top of the bus.
"It takes about five hours to fully charge our bus from zero state of charge to 100 percent," says Holtz.
BYD already has buses running at Denver International Airport and Disneyworld in Orlando. Fla. Just last month, Los Angeles Metro purchased five buses and nearby Long Beach Transit bought 10.
"It offers opportunities to implement and evaluate a new technology," says Richard Hunt, general manager of Metro's Transit Capital Programs. "They call this the cutting edge or the bleeding edge and we want to be cutting, we don't want to be bleeding. So we're going to evaluate these vehicles very carefully."
Those buses LA bought will be manufactured up the road in Lancaster, Calif., next year. Micheal Austin, vice president of BYD America, says it's a huge step for China's auto industry.
"We are the first Chinese vehicle company to come to the U.S. and build a manufacturing plant," says Austin.
The company received $2 million in tax subsidies to build its North American headquarters in LA. But the California Labor Commissioner's office has now hit BYD with a $99,000 fine. The plant in Lancaster, which has yet to open, is under investigation for paying workers below minimum wage. However, Austin argues BYD has always complied with California labor laws.
"As the Chinese say, the tall trees get the most wind," he says. "Whether it's naysayers that say the technology is not mature or the battery technology is not ready, there is nothing that we can't overcome."
BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, started as a battery manufacturer for cellphones, then branched out to solar panels, LED lights and electric cars.
"It's a fascinating company because it's incredibly diverse," says Alan Ohnsman, an auto reporter at Bloomberg News.
"It's almost like a small-scale GE or some sort of large traditional conglomerate. It's in a lot of fields," he says. "But batteries are the core of what it does."
It was once the fastest growing automaker in China. Even Warren Buffett bought a 10 percent stake in the company.
"Their auto business has dropped off a bit and the excitement is not what it once was, but they were a rapid, rising company," says Ohnsman.
Company founder Wang Chuanfu is calling BYD's K9 bus fleet the "second takeoff," hoping electric transportation will boost falling profits from recent years.
"This is a new, emerging segment and they want to own it," says Ohnsman.
BYD is already considered the world's largest manufacturer of electric buses, which go for about $800,000. That's over double the cost of a traditional diesel bus. However, long-term savings on fuel and maintenance could go a long way. That's what BYD is hoping to prove in the coming months with trial runs across the U.S.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

Recording a show today with Mayor of Dubuque

And we thought we share some information with you on Mayor Buol, who will be our guests, and their amazing innovation in green and leadership in building a sustainable economic model.  We will update you on when this show will air.

In the meantime check here tomorrow for information on Wed's live show which will include an interview with the sustainability director at the University of Idaho (another great success story):

Here's the link:  Mayor's Bio:
Sustainable Dubuque Info:
Community Achievements:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Africa Training will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa

Would you consider joining The Climate Reality Project and get trained on being a climate leader?   We've posted material from The CRP previously, and think this is good timing on pushing education and recruitment into the global team working to reduce carbon and the impact on our quality of life while still growing a robust economy.

Their next training is, interestingly, in South Africa, but there's plenty of other choices to.  Let us know if you follow up on any training.  RN is always looking for great contributors to our many social media outlets, media partners and on the radio and TV side.  Get in touch if you are expert in any area of sustainability.

South Africa Training Climate Reality Project Leaders Leadership Corps

The Africa Training will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from March 12 to March 14, 2014. Applications must be submitted by February 7th, but will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Key points about the training:
  • Climate Reality Leadership Trainings are completely self-funded by attendees.  There is no fee to attend the training, and you will need to pay for your own travel and lodging. During the training, The Climate Reality Project will provide all training materials.
  • All trainings are in English. If English is not your primary language, you will be required to do your own personal translation of materials during and after the training.
  • Climate Leaders commit to a minimum of ten (10) activities with The Climate Reality Project, including presentations, press and other events within a year after attending a training, and will be required to sign an agreement prior to the training.
  • If accepted, you must attend all three (3) days of the training and may be required to participate in other activities prior to your arrival.
  • Completing the training means you will be a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and join our global network of Climate Reality Leaders.
  • To become a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, you must apply and be accepted to attend one of our trainings with our Chairman, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
    By law, Climate Reality cannot collect personally identifiable information from children under 13 years of age online. Those who are under 13 years of age who wish to apply for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training should not submit any personally identifying information about themselves on the application and should have their parent or legal guardian contact our team at

Friday, November 22, 2013

Battling Pollution, Beijing to Cut New Car Quota By 90,000

This is a very interesting way, for a city and country in environmental distress, to force change and abruptly, conclusively reduce traffic and air pollution.  Will we see this in other major cities around the world?  How will Mayor Bloomberg react and will he see this as a progressive way of reducing congestion and emissions in NYC?

Thanks to Ann Marie Fiske for this great story:

China’s capital will slash the number of license plates it gives out to new cars, as Beijing and other Chinese cities look for ways to curb pollution and congestion in the world’s largest car market.
The Beijing Daily, the mouthpiece of the municipal government of Beijing, said on Tuesday that the city will slash the quota of license plates that it gives out to 150,000 a year from 240,000 now, effective at the beginning of next year. By 2017, it said, officials will give out only 90,000 license plates to ordinary cars, while the rest will be reserved for clean fuel vehicles such as those powered by natural gas.
As of the end of October the city had 5.4 million motor vehicles. The Chinese capital introduced the lottery in 2011, hoping to ease the traffic congestion while managing air pollution.
Worries that Beijing’s leaders could further restrict license plates have led to a rush to Beijing car license lottery. Derek Hao, a 37-year old advertising industry executive, said he took part for 11 consecutive months before he was awarded a license plate in July. According to city officials, 18,400 plates were issued that month, while more than 1.5 million people applied.
“To increase the odds of winning, my parents, my wife and I took part in the lottery. We just needed a car. It didn’t matter who is the winner,” Mr. Hao said.
Beijing is only one of a number of cities – including the relatively wealthy markets of Shanghai and Guangzhou – to restrict car purchase for environmental and traffic reasons. The efforts have sparked worries by domestic car makers that sales could be hurt in a market that’s increasingly competitive and where foreign brands hold cachet.
Public pressure on air quality improvement has surged this year. The China Meteorological Administration said Friday that the 31 provincial-level regions on the mainland have reported 4.7 smoggy days on average so far this year, the highest number since 1961. Over the past weekend Beijing and much of the central China were again blanketed by severe smog, with visibility in some areas falling to 20 meters. The smog led to the closure of at least 16 highways leading to and from Beijing.
Vehicles are considered a major contributor to Beijing’s smoggy skies. Beijing city officials say auto emissions account for about a quarter of Beijing’s PM2.5—particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that is considered particularly hazardous to human health.
Beijing is also combating heavy traffic. The average speed of car traffic in China’s capital is short of 15 kilometers, or 9.3 miles, per hour, the speed of a gentle bike ride, data from UBS Securities show.
In August, Beijing’s city government said it aimed at eliminating one million highly polluted vehicles by 2017, and reduce auto emissions by 25% by that time compared with 2012 levels. The move followed a spate of severe air pollution in Beijing and other parts of China earlier in the year that made headlines domestically and abroad.
To boost the use of new energy cars Beijing will set up 100 natural gas station and 2,120 charging posts across the city this year, said Beijing Daily.
According to consulting firm IHS, as of the end of 2012 Beijing’s public transportation including metro subway lines only accounted for 40% of all motorized transport. Earlier this year Beijing’s city government said it aimed to extend the city’s metro lines to 1,000 kilometers by 2020.
“When the day comes, metro transportation will account for 60% of Beijing’s all motorized transport, similar to the current level in Seoul. At that time there might be no need to place limits on car purchases any longer,” said Lin Huaibin, an analyst at IHS.
– Rose Yu

Information on the drive we are doing this Sunday in RI and MA. Thank you for the help


Event Date & Time:
Sunday, November 24, 2013
8:00 Am to 12:00 Noon
Collection Locations:
Cardi’s Furniture: West Warwick- Rt. 2 -1681 Quaker Lane, West Warwick, RI 02893
Cardi’s Furniture: South Attleboro- 999 Newport Ave, South Attleboro, MA 02703
Cardi’s Furniture: Middletown – 1235 West Main Road, Middletown, RI 02842
Cardi’s Furniture: Swansea – 1 Furniture Way, Swansea, MA 02777
Cardi’s Furniture: Braintree – 180 Pearl Street, Braintree, MA 02184

Items Being Collected: (Exclusively)
· Bottled Water
· Canned Goods/ Dry Non-Perishable Foods
· Energy Bars (PowerBars, Cliff Bars, Luna Bars etc)
· Diapers

Items will be collected at the Cardi’s Furniture locations and brought to the Arpin Group Headquarters in West Warwick, RI to be loaded on to containers provided by CaroTrans. CaroTrans will then deliver the containers to the Philippines for distribution to those affected by the Typhoon Haiyan.

Only the items indicated above will be accepted, as this is the immediate request by contacts physically in the Philippines and based upon our ability to collect, package, & transport to the affected areas.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the Philippines affected by this disaster. We stand ready to assist, if needed, when activated by the appropriate authorities.

For more details or to make a monetary donation; visit the link below

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wind Turbine Blade Manufacturer Hiring at Whirlwind Rate - See more at:

Today, as we noted, we covered a great conference--promoting geothermal heating and cooling--at Clarke University in MA.  While there, we published this very positive story on jobs created in a different sector of clean energy--wind.

Also, please log onto to our main site in the next day or two to hear Part 1 of David Orr's fantastic talk to the overflowing crowd that assembled recently in Newport, RI for a renowned sustainable educational conference.   Here's the link:


The economies of Grand Forks, N.D., and Little Rock, Ark. are being swept up in a green bonanza.

LM Wind Power, a global manufacturer of blades for wind turbines, says it doubled its U.S. workforce to 700 in August - up from 350 in April. And it says the boom will continue: It expects to employ some 1,200 people in the U.S. next year - most of them based at its factories in North Dakota and Arkansas.

In a press release, the company credited the extension late last year of the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit with the growth of its workforce:

    "We are pleased to see that the market is improving again following a period of low activity due to uncertainty around the PTC," said LM Wind Power's Head of US Operations, Bill Burga Jr. "With the political framework in place, our customers are winning more business again and we are ready to serve their demand for highly efficient quality blades for the US market, adding hundreds of extra jobs. Now it is crucial that the politicians remain committed to securing a stable economic framework to enable continued industry growth and increased US employment."

By some estimates, the wind energy sector now employs about 80,000 Americans. And the decision by LM Wind Power to boost its American operations (it has factories in 14 locations all over the world) follows an encouraging trend that we told you about in August — as wind energy expands in the U.S., more of the production associated with that expansion is occurring right here in America.
- See more at:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We are covering an event tomorrow at Clarke University

Which we wanted to share some background with you.  Geothermal is one technology we do not understand well, and we've not covered the subject in a show.  We'll file a report from the conference and then hope to bring in expert guests from the meeting on future radio shows.

If you are an expert or have had some experience, good or bad with geothermal, please contact us.

ENEW Energy Initiative         Wells Fargo     
New England Geothermal Professional Association
 Invite You To:
Understanding Geothermal Heating & Cooling
(A workshop to learn about this clean energy resource that can provide terrific commercial, municipal, and residential building energy cost savings)
November 21, 2013
Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA
  • Is the growing cost of heating and cooling your building(s) a concern?
  • Have you heard about geothermal exchange heating and cooling, and want to know more?
  • Are you intrigued by the potential of 50% or more energy savings?
  • Have you been told that this doesn’t work well in New England or that geothermal systems often disappoint or that they are just too expensive? 
Overview: This 2 hour workshop covers the “Why, What, and How” of the most efficient and energy savings way to heat and cool a building. It addresses:
  • Retrofit and new construction, with a focus on commercial, institutional, and municipal use.
  • An overview of geothermal exchange heating and cooling, including key benefits such as 40 – 80% operating/energy savings and 30 – 50% maintenance savings
  • A comprehensive look at how the technology works, what types of systems are available, and the four keys to ensuring that the system will exceed your expectations. We will address and debunk many myths about geothermal exchange.
  • Selecting and working with a contractor, including planning, costs, financing, system design, customization, system installation, and post installation support.
  • Martin Orio –  Vice President, Water Energy Distributors, Hampstead, NH andPresident, New England Geothermal Professional Association
  • Edward Malloy – CEO, New England Renewable Energy Systems, Weymouth, MA
  • Eric Ross – Vice President, RENEW Energy Initiative and former Vice President, EarthSource Energy Solutions, Brookline, MA  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Will EVs bring down the electric grid?

This is a great question to raise and we thank Green for doing so.  We push hard for transformation to EV's, and believe, overall, it is the next great industrial revolution, but our transportation system will depend on a very robust, versatile smart grid.

Investments need to be made.  We don't want to triple electricity production by building more centralized plants, particular those fueled by coal.  Instead, those investments should be in new technology that will allow the grid to control usage and delivery where needed, micro-grids, storage systems and, of course, clean energy fields of solar and wind.  

This is a positive story that indicates even current production levels can handle the load.  But, we can do better.  The answer, now and in the future, should be a resounding "NO".

Published November 19, 2013

Will EVs bring down the electric grid?

Over the past few years, we've seen some of the world's largest automakers release their first mass-market electric vehicles (EVs). Models such as the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S are popular with consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and spend less at the pump. But the vehicles' rising popularity has raised concerns about the effect they might have on the electric grid, particularly during hot summer months.
Some expected that electric-vehicle drivers, upon returning home from work, would charge their cars during the evening hours -- a "rush-hour" time for the wires that carry energy, which strains the electric grid. They thought that the increased need for energy would overwhelm the electric system, possibly forcing utilities to fire up more dirty fossil fuel power plants and offsetting any potential environmental benefits of the gasoline-free car. Thankfully, this line of thinking is becoming an idea of the past.
How EVs affect the grid
A recent report from Pecan Street proves that electric vehicles have less of an impact on the electric grid than anticipated. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Pecan Street Research Institute has developed the most "connected" network of energy customers in an effort to help utilities, consumer electronic companies and automakers design and test new energy-related products and services. The data collected is used to understand exactly how new technologies affect the electricity system. In this instance, the team investigated how, exactly, a dense concentration of electric vehicles can affect the local electric grid.
A recent report from Pecan Street proves that electric vehicles have less of an impact on the electric grid than anticipated. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Pecan Street Research Institute has developed the most "connected" network of energy customers in an effort to help utilities, consumer electronic companies and automakers design and test new energy-related products and services. The data collected is used to understand exactly how new technologies affect the electricity system. In this instance, the team investigated how, exactly, a dense concentration of electric vehicles can affect the local electric grid.
Based on data collected from 31 Austin electric-vehicle owners, researchers found that drivers don't all plug in their vehicles simultaneously at 6 p.m., despite what many expected. Instead, electric vehicle charging is more spread out, peaking around 9 or 10 p.m. -- after the 3-7 p.m. "rush-hour" peak.
It is important to note that Pecan Street's report reflects behavior from a neighborhood with the highest concentration of electric vehicles in the U.S. Most U.S. electric utilities serve neighborhoods with far fewer electric-vehicle owners, supporting the view that EVs won't overwhelm the electric system.
Potential grid benefits
In fact, electric vehicles actually could provide a benefit to electric utilities -- especially in Texas. According to the report, most charging occurs at night, when West Texas wind is plentiful and electricity prices are at their lowest. Utilities benefit from selling inexpensive wind power to customers at night, and everyone benefits from replacing gasoline with cleaner electricity from the grid. Furthermore, if potential charging problems do occur, utilities can incentive customers to shift their energy use to take advantage of inexpensive wind power.
Pecan Street's study show that new green technologies, including electric vehicles, won't necessarily bring down the electric grid. More than anything, the report underscores the importance of a smart, flexible, resilient grid. Understanding exactly how much power is flowing in real time allows for more customer-facing, demand-side resources, such as rooftop solar panels. It also enables a greater use of modern, clean energy technologies. And it fosters the ability to foresee and correct problems that could result in power failures and brownouts. A smart grid is the key to unlocking a clean grid.
This article originally appeared on the Environmental Defense Fund blog.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Facebook runs on wind

Two very good elements from this story.  Facebook continues to expand, opening a new data center in Iowa, clearly creating new job, tax base, while doing so with a significant capitol investment in wind (using the tax credits while not owning the facility directly).

As you track th enew, green economy, and the many factors, some very new to our economy, you can feel good about a company balancing their enterprise growth without a carbon growth.  You then think, how often can this happen?  Is it unique to Facebook, Iowa, terrain, wind speeds or could other companies, perhaps using solar or other producers of clean energy, make concurrent investments?  

We'll push to get reps on from Facebook and the State to better explain how this deal came together (with the utility company, of course).

Good day, regardless, for Facebook, the utility, the State and our sustainable future.


Facebook announced yesterday that it’s been helping to develop an Iowa wind farm to cover the energy use of a new data center. The center’s scheduled to open in early 2015, and, Facebook says, “we expect it to be supplied by 100% renewable energy, as tracked by renewable energy certificates, from a new wind project in nearby Wellsburg, Iowa.”

What does that actually mean? Well, Facebook got involved with the development of a wind project while thinking of putting a data center in Iowa. But it’s not going to actually build or own or operate a wind farm. The company’s handed all that business — the business of actually creating and selling electricity — over to a local utility, MidAmerican Energy. Luckily for Facebook, it’s possible to own the feel-good, “green” part of a wind farm — the renewable energy certificates, which indicate that you’re making clean energy — without actually owning the wind farm.

Think of them as green brownie points. Facebook’s just bought itself a whole bunch. Which is fine! Utilities are way more qualified to build and operate a wind farm, and the project will, supposedly, more than cover the extra energy influx the data center’s going to demand.

What’s less headline-grabbing but just as important about this project is that, according to Facebook, the data center itself is also being designed to be ultra efficient. It’s nice if you infuse the grid with enough clean energy to cover your usage, but it’s even nicer if you never use as much electricity to begin with. Now if only Facebook didn’t encourage us all to stay on our energy-guzzling computers long into the night.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Green Building Construction Accelerates Globally through Economic Downturn

This is great news and not unique to construction (from what we have seen).  The new, growing green economy has some real strength and is accelerating in many areas (take a look at  some of our stories or listen to the shows at:

You will notice, too, that LEED and other efficient buildings have enjoyed very high lease occupancy rates. Major cities see side-by-side buildings with clear imbalances between some that are full, others not so much.  Combine that with the fact that the heavily leases efficient buildings and also costs their owners much less in operating expenses.  Makes for some pretty happy owners.

Some of this is driven by more stringent building codes, such as those we reported on in Dallas last week.

Send us any stories--if you find some--that reinforce or conflict with this article's findings:

  • Green building has become a long-term business opportunity with 51% percent of study firms planning more than 60 % of their work to be green by 2015, up from 28 percent of firms in 2012

  • The largest opportunity areas for green building globally are in new commercial construction and renovation of existing buildings

Around the world, the green building marketplace is accelerating, according to a new study being released by McGraw-Hill Construction in partnership with United Technologies today at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

The study indicates a shift in the global construction market, now viewing green as a business opportunity rather than a niche market. Overwhelmingly, firms report that their top reasons to do green work are client demand (35 percent) and market demand (33 percent)—two key business drivers of strategic planning. The next top reasons were also oriented toward the corporate bottom line—lower operating costs (30 percent) and branding advantage (30 percent). In contrast, the top reason in 2008 motivating the green building market was doing the right thing (42 percent) and market transformation (35 percent), followed by client and market demand.

"This research confirms that green building advances environmental stewardship while providing value to the market," said Geraud Darnis, president and CEO, United Technologies Climate, Controls & Security. "It also confirms that we now see more pull than push for green buildings."

In the next three years, the sectors with the largest opportunity for green building around the world include new construction and renovation projects. Sixty three percent of firms have green work planned in new commercial projects and 45 percent in new institutional projects by 2015, and 50 percent have plans for green renovation work. In the United Kingdom and Singapore, green renovation projects were planned by the greatest number of firms at 65 and 69 percent respectively. In Brazil and UAE, new projects pose the largest opportunity. In Brazil, 83 percent of firms are planning to work on new green commercial projects over the next three years, and in the UAE, 73 percent have new green institutional projects planned.

"It is notable that over the next three years, firms working in countries around the world have green work planned across all building types, incorporating both new construction and renovation," said Harvey M. Bernstein, vice president, Industry Insights and Alliances for McGraw-Hill Construction. "The existing building market is a ripe opportunity for green building, and we are seeing that play out in the market. It is clear that green is becoming an important part of the future landscape of the global construction marketplace, and firms will need to be prepared for that transition."

Green buildings are also expected to garner business benefits for building owners. For new green building projects, firms report median operating cost savings of 8 percent over one year and 15 percent over five years, as well as increased building values of 7 percent (according to design and construction firms) and higher asset valuation of 5 percent (according to building owners).

For green retrofits, operating savings are higher than for new buildings with operating costs reported to decrease by 9 percent over one year and 13 percent over five years. Asset valuation is also expected to increase, though at more moderate levels than for new green buildings—design and construction professionals expect 5 percent increased building value from green retrofits, and owners expect higher asset valuation of 4 percent. For green projects, payback on efforts is expected within 8 years for new projects and 7 years for retrofit/renovation work.
- See more at:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Ice Monitoring Technique Offers Insight into Great Lakes/Update/Part 2

(We ran this blog last week but want to give this update).

As promised, we interviewed one of the major scientists, Son Nghiem on our radio show today.  We only had time for a 30 minute segment.  Next week we'll finish the discussion with Son and George Leshkevich has promised to join him as well.

Listen live over-the-air and on the stream ( on WARL 1320.  Then, usually within 7 days, each show post and archives 24/7 on our main

Here's Dr. Nghiem's bio which recaps some of the great work he's done.  Today we touched on how the satellites, and their amazing advance technology, is pushing new frontiers of sustainability.  We'll finish that, and talk about much more, next week.

Dr. Son V. Nghiem received the Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In 1991, he joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist, the Science Applications Development Lead of the Radar Science and Engineering Section, and the JPL Hydrology Discipline Program Manager of the Hydrology Office in the Earth Science and Technology Directorate.  His research encompasses active and passive remote sensing, development of advanced satellite radars and radiometers, electromagnetic scattering and emission modeling, and earth sciences and applications from the tropics to polar regions. He holds a patent for his invention on high-resolution wind measurements with satellite data for offshore wind energy development. 

He has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles and 250 conference articles.  He received the 1999 Lew Allen Award for Excellence in recognition of his pioneering research in the areas of polarimetric scatterometry for Earth science remote sensing and contributions to future advanced satellite instrument concepts, the 2006 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for developing scientific applications of scatterometry in land, ice, and snow processes, the 2008 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his contributions to understanding the melt state of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, its significance in Earth science missions, and its implications in climate change, the 2010 NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his contributions in developing a new technology using NASA satellite scatterometer data to measure high-resolution global wind for off-shore wind energy development, and the2013 Edward Stones Award for outstanding research publication on the extreme melt across the Greenland ice sheet in 2012.  He was invited to present science results on Arctic change and impacts to the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House in 2012.  His research results have been reported worldwide by major news networks.

With winter weather fast approaching, we start to look at how the big chill will affects our economy. And for the Great Lakes, frozen ice is bound to affect shipping lanes and local fishing industries. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes Waterway, each year, millions of tons of cargo are moved onto the lakes, supplying the US and Canada with important commodities.

In addition to economic impacts, the lakes have a significant effect on the regional environment and ecological systems so the importance of analyzing and observing these frozen waters is crucial for the region.
Fortunately, two scientists from NASA and NOAA have developed a new space-based technique for monitoring the ice cover of the Great Lakes.
"In the dark, it's difficult to read a map that's right in front of you," said Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, one of the developers of the new technique. "Yet we now have a way to use satellite radars almost 500 miles [800 kilometers] out in space to see through clouds and darkness and map ice across the Great Lakes."
The new method, co-developed by Nghiem and his colleague George Leshkevich of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, gives a more accurate analysis of ice characteristics, such as whether the ice is dense or full of bubbles, whether it has melted and refrozen, and whether there is snow on top of the lake ice.
The method uses a special dictionary that translates binary digital data from satellite radar instruments on the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT-1/2, the European Space Agency's European Remote Sensing Satellite 2 (ERS-2), and Envisat to identify and map different types of ice over the Great Lakes. The researchers compiled the dictionary by pairing each observed ice type to a library of unique radar signatures that were measured on the lakes using a JPL-developed advanced radar aboard a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking ship.
Leshkevich said, "These maps will provide important information for environmental management, ice forecasting and modeling, off-shore wind farm development, operational icebreaking activities in support of winter navigation, and science research."
This ice classification will also provide insight as to how the Great Lakes are responding to, and leading, climate change in the upper Midwest.
Results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One other view of connecting the global warming dots

We've reported frequently on the work being done by The Climate Realty Project.  Here's their take on the devastation we are starting to see across the globe.  Send us your thoughts.

Our prism is the business side of green.  The economic impact, beyond the environmental damage, is all to too easy to see and understand:

Super Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8, the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan came ashore in the Philippines, killing more than 2,000 people, displacing 660,000 more, and impacting nearly 10 million throughout the islands.
Those who have been affected are now struggling to survive without access to power, food, shelter or clean drinking water. The storm is being described by disaster management experts as one of the most intense and strongest of its kind to make landfall.
"To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian Ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels ... to the hills of Central America that confront similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce ... And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now."
To underscore the urgency of the situation, Sano has chosen to fast until the UN makes real progress on a plan for action to solve the climate crisis.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible event. Some of our own Climate Reality Leaders are among those affected by the devastation, and I hope you'll join me in keeping them in your thoughts as we wait for more news.
Although the full extent to which climate change influenced Super Typhoon Haiyan has not yet been determined, the storm is another reminder of how climate change has already made extreme weather more extreme. This horrific example of dirty weather shows just how critical your work to put a market price on carbon and a political price on denial is.
There are other and equally important ways for us all to help right away. By joining the relief effort, you can help provide immediate assistance to those impacted by the typhoon and now living with its aftermath. Please contact the Philippine Red CrossTeam Rubicon, or UNICEF to donate and find out about other ways to help.