Tag Archives: Energy Star

Friday Linkage 5/19/2017

At what point do we begin to point the finger for this entire Donald Trump mess at the people who enabled him.  Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s Morning Joe is partially to blame for giving Donald Trump a national platform for free in exchange for ratings in the early days of the campaign.  The entire Republican establishment is on notice for allowing this charlatan in orange to assume the Oval Office because they felt that it would be beneficial for their agenda.  Paul Ryan and the rest of his elected Republican cronies need to get in line and get behind the real investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection.

Furthermore, the American people need to demand that all of our elected representatives act as the Constitutionally mandated check to Trump’s deranged ambition.  I am sure of the fact that Donald Trump feels he has the ultimate authority regardless of law and will do anything to facilitate this delusion.

On to the links…

Under Trump, Inconvenient Data that was Previously Public is Being Sidelined—You don’t think that people like Scott Pruitt are loving this action.  This is an administration and a Republican party that is allergic to facts in general and almost violently reactive to anything that even hints at an opposing viewpoint.  It’s like your drunk Uncle Carl who yells about the “lamestream media” is in charge of the country.

Why Trump Will Make the Wrong Decision on Paris—I do not think this really needed a long explanation.  Donald Trump is an under informed reactionary decision maker who loathes anyone with more expertise or knowledge on a topic than himself thus he is prone to making bone headed decisions.  Furthermore, he surrounds himself with family and sycophants utterly dependent upon his wealth thus the toadies are always telling him how great he is doing.  Is it any wonder we are doomed?

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.—Color me surprised, but I am not.  Chlorpyrifos is nasty stuff, but Trump’s corporate allies wanted it allowed so it was made so under the guise of…profits and screw everything else.  Only profits matter now.

The EPA Asked the Public which Rules to Scrap and Got Chewed Out—People like clean air and water.  People like it when toxins are not prevalent in their food.  People like health.  It must have been a real surprise to Trump’s denizens of death that people prefer to keep regulations that prevent profit seeking companies from polluting.

The Surprising Story of the Decline of Electricity use in American Households—It all comes down to LED lighting based on back of the envelope calculations.  Those are the same LEDs that talking heads like Sarah Palin derided as some liberal conspiracy.  Granted, most of those talking heads are nitwits who supported Trump.  And you thought those pictures of your high school fashion choices were embarrassing.

Three Reasons to Believe in China’s Renewable Energy Boom—China is all in on renewable energy because the leadership of that country believes it is critical to their staying in power.

By 2020, Every Chinese Coal Plant will be More Efficient than Every US Coal Plant—However, a coal plant still produces a lot more pollution than a solar panel.

Terawatts of Solar Power are Within our Reach—Solar power will soon reach a tipping point where it is like a large snowball going downhill picking up speed and gaining in size.  The victims of its destructive path will be old line fossil fuels and maybe your drunk Uncle Carl who hates hippies, Volkswagens, and solar panels.

New US Residential Solar Capacity Additions Drop 17% In First Quarter—So goes California…as California is responsible for almost 50% of residential solar installations the golden state has an outsize impact on the aggregate numbers for the U.S.  Other states saw smaller declines and it may be due to major installers pursuing more profitable installations over heady growth figures.

Coal and Natural Gas Are Foes, Not Natural Allies—This is the real inconvenient truth for Trump and his coal cronies.  Natural gas and coal compete directly with each other so any policy that favors both fuels—relaxed emissions targets, etc.—also favors the fuel that directly replaces coal.

Trump Coal Obsession Largely Irrelevant To Electric Utility CEOs—Those darned market forces just get in the way of a good campaign speech.

Stanford Study says Fossil-Fueled Cars will Vanish in 8 years as ‘Big Oil’ Collapses—I doubt it will happen in eight years, but I think there is a time in my lifetime when my truck will be a classic because of its fuel choice.

You May Live Longer if You Bike to Work—Let us count all of the ways that bicycles rule.

New American Study Confirms: Physically Separated Bike Lanes are Crucial for Safety—Add this to the list of things that seem obvious but that someone felt a study was needed to confirm.  As someone who rides both types of bike lanes I can assure you that the protected and/or separated bike lanes are the better option for a cyclist.

Denver’s Bike-Friendly Plans Seem To Be Panning Out—People actually like biking to work and play.  It’s a proven fact.

Advertisements

Friday Linkage 7/26/2013

The heat of the last couple of weeks broke over the last couple of days and we have been treated to those perfect Iowa summer days: warm days and cool nights.  It is so nice to be able to open the windows and enjoy the cool fresh air.

On to the links…

Landmark ‘Ag Gag’ Lawsuit Fights Threat to Freedom of Speech—Watch this court case closely because the future of our ability to expose bad practices may be in danger.  Conversely, this may end up like the “McLibel” case where winning the case was not as important as the information that was exposed by the winning side.

Climate Change is Making Poison Ivy Grow Out of Control—If you thought rising seas and weird weather were bad, wait until you get a load of this.  Poison ivy, every hikers friend in the woods, is going gangbusters in the newly changed climate.  Great.

How Do We Use Electricity—If you asked people how they used electricity the answer would probably be “Flipping on a switch.”  That is the amount of thought that most of us put into our energy use on a daily basis.

Americans Continue to Use More Renewable Energy—This report from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has some really interesting charts about the sources of our electricity.

Cool Ways to Save this Season—Does anyone ever really think about how successful of a program Energy Star has been?  I never hear about it.  Here’s a nice little infographic from the folks at Energy Star:

Cool_Ways_to_Save_Infographic

Intermittency Of Renewables? … Not So Much—One of the major problems with renewable energy has been its intermittency.  That is to say, it does not produce power on a steady stream like a coal or nuclear plant.  As the amount of renewable power has increased, however, the intermittency has decreased.  Interesting.

How Twelve States Are Succeeding In Solar Energy Installation—Solar is kicking ass in several states as new and innovative programs are launched to get people access and take advantage of the dramatically lower costs.  In Iowa we are focused on wind energy over solar, but with the state producing over one quarter of its electricity from wind power I am not one to complain.  Much.  I still want solar panels on my roof.

The Community Solar Holy Grail—This idea just might be ticket to get me my solar power.  Interesting.

Zero Carbon Britain Possible by 2030—I see these studies a lot and the key component that is not ever factored in is political will.  The technology exists.  The tools for analysis exists.  The rationale exists.  But no politician is ever going to stand behind such an idea for more than five minutes.

Saudi Arabia to invest $109 billion to get 1/3 of its energy from renewables by 2032—Saudi Arabia has lots of empty land, sun, and money.  Seems like a perfect marriage of factors for a solar revolution.

U.S., Europe Launch Center for Smart Grids and Plug-in Vehicles—Speaking of intermittency.  As plug-in vehicles become more widespread the batteries in these vehicles represent a huge opportunity because taken as a whole they can help regulate the power grid.

Why A Nerve Eating Chemical, Cancer Causing is Still on the Market—This is what I hate about our regulatory regime.  Products that are harmful are allowed to be sold until the harm that they cause is considered so great the product is pulled.  Rather, the products should be proven safe before being allowed onto the market.

Staying Healthy May Mean Learning to Lover Our Microbiomes—There is so much that we do not understand about bacteria because we have spent the better part of the last century conducting all-out war on all bacteria.  The concept that some of these bacteria may be beneficial is gaining a lot of ground.

Nothing to See Here: Demoting the Uncertainty Principle—This article is one of those fun philosophical arguments that I miss so much now that I am no longer in college.  No one in the military-industrial complex has a discussion about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.  Schrodinger’s cat on the other hand…

Re-Imagining Rubber: PLUSfoam’s Flip Flop Recycling Revolution—This product from PLUSfoam is pretty sweet.  Unlike a lot of recycling, where the product is actually downcycled, the foam in these flip flops can easily be turned into new flip flops.  The trick with the Foreman grill is sweet.

Is It Really Greener?

On the way to Colorado for vacation, I stopped in Omaha with the family and stayed at an Element by Westin.  It was not hard to convince me to stay because I wanted to see what the Element was all about and we used Starwood Preferred Guest points for a free night’s stay.  My wife was easy to convince because she prefers to stay in a Westin whenever she travels because of the so-called Heavenly Beds.

Currently numbering 13, the Element sub-brand is positioned as the eco-friendly lodging option.  By itself, this is a unique branding attempt because I can think of no other hotel chain that has taken “eco” as a selling point.  Sure, every hotel puts up little signs about reusing towels or sheets and puts CFLs in the light fixtures but there has never been a ground up concept focused around being less harmful to the environment.

The Element in Omaha is a Silver Certified LEED hotel.  I can argue that a LEED certification can be “gamed” and that it only captures a building’s efficiency at construction as opposed to its ongoing efficiency, but constructing or retrofitting buildings to the standards of LEED is a step in the right direction.

In the room there are nice little touches that remind you that this hotel is trying to do something different.  In the shower, the little disposable bottles have been replaced by dispensers of body wash and shampoo.  In the kitchenette, a single use packet of Seventh Generation dish soap is provided for your use:

This seemed a little odd given the focus on reducing packaging waste.  Why not a reusable pump bottle?  Ceramic cups have replaced the foam or paper cups in most hotel rooms:

I could go into all of the components that Starwood says make an Element the eco-friendly choice—dual flush toilets, recycled or green building materials, low VOC finishes, Energy Star appliances in the kitchenettes, etc.  I think those are all well and good, but the central question remains: Regardless of the efforts made to reduce the footprint, isn’t a hotel still a huge black mark on the environment?

In the end, it is still a hotel and there is only so much that the concept can do to become truly green.

But, the keycard did tell me to get out and ride: