China: Ready to Fight Pollution

china-pollution

Ozone, water vapor, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide (CO2) are a group of gases called greenhouse gases. Their primary function is to make the earth habitable. Although CO2 has always been the most abundant greenhouse gas, it has become too plentiful in the earth’s atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, contributing to an accelerated rate of climate change. The rise of China in the 20th and 21st centuries has further expedited the rate of climate change due to its vastly increased carbon pollution. In recent years, however, China has embraced a hard line green initiative, taking aggressive measures to substantially reduce carbon emissions.

What Are Carbon Emissions?

Carbon emissions is the term used to denote the carbon dioxide that is emitted in the process of burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are ancient energy sources that were once organic life forms, dinosaurs for example, that have undergone millions of years of treatment by geological forces. Fossil fuels have a very high energy density because they are carbon based, having had eons to compact and sequester carbon that is in the earth. When fossil fuel is burned, it releases its previously sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, where it mixed with oxygen, and forms CO2. Carbon Emissions have come under fire from green advocacy groups due to their role in climate change.

Carbon Pollution and Climate Change

Carbon pollution is pegged by green groups and scientists alike as one of the primary causes of the accelerated warming of global temperatures that have been grabbing headlines for the past several years. CO2 is a vital gas for the habitability of planet earth. It is necessary for plant respiration. Plants intake CO2 and output oxygen, which humans rely on. However, because of carbon pollution, there is substantially more CO2 in the atmosphere than ever before. This is exacerbated by deforestation, which means there are fewer plants to convert CO2 to oxygen.

A characteristic of CO2 is that it absorbs heat. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, more heat is absorbed by the sun rather than deflected back into space. Heat that is absorbed by CO2 is emitted to earth, which creates a rise in overall global temperatures.

China’s Carbon Emission Reduction Initiatives

China experienced economic growth during the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries on par with the Industrial Revolution in the West. As a result, China’s consumption of fossil fuels, and thus its carbon emissions, has increased dramatically. In fact, China has become the largest producer of carbon emissions in the world, accounting for over 20%.

Having said that, China is far from the largest producer of carbon pollution on a per capita basis. China has reduced its carbon emissions per unit GDP by more than any other major economy in the past 20 years. China is committed to becoming the world’s most green economy. Moreover, China is perhaps the most invested major country in green, alternative energy. Over the past 20 years, China invested vast amounts of money in the development of green, alternative energy sources, including solar, hydroelectric, clean nuclear and wind.

China’s 12th Five-Year Plan

China enacted a 5-year plan in 2011 to meet several green energy reduction targets by 2015 compared to 2010 levels. It aims to increase the percent of green, non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 11.4 %, to reduce carbon pollution per GDP by 17 %, and to energy per unit GDP by 16 %. China is lauded by green groups for these aggressive benchmarks. This plan includes improved statistical accounting systems for carbon emissions, an increase in hydroelectric and solar power and a 4-fold increase in clean nuclear energy.


William Stevens is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to technology. In this article, he describes international efforts for lowering pollution and aims to encourage further study with an Online Master in Diplomacy and International Relations.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Smart Building Industry: Ready to Launch

smart-building

With the introduction of “smart grid” technology, much of the attention has been focused on how new products will help households become more energy efficient. And while consumer-based smart technologies are great tools to help the everyday person reduce their carbon footprint, it is even more impactful when used by industries on a large scale. The building industry is one that is now adopting technologies that allow them to be far more energy efficient, without any additional efforts, with the use of wireless connected devices. The result is (appropriately) being called a “smart building”.

Now, a new report from ON World indicates that there will be 100 million smart building wireless sensor devices in place by 2019 – an 1100% increase from 2011. Two of the main applications for wireless sensor networks is with a building’s lighting fixtures and heating/cooling controls, which combined are one of a building’s biggest expenses and sources of unnecessary energy consumption. In a smart building, lights and temperature controls would be connected to a wireless network and could either be controlled remotely via a computer or a mobile device, or completely autonomously, turning on or off when someone enters an office or needs to use a particular device.

But in order for these controls to be worthwhile from the perspective of energy consumption, they must use less power to operate and execute their actions than what would otherwise be consumed from leaving devices on standby, which is becoming a challenge, but one that many manufacturers are tackling head on with controls that are smaller and more energy efficient than ever before. Some are even so small they can be powered by a simple coin cell battery.

However, smart buildings still have their detractors. There are many myths about smart buildings that people hear and believe, without necessarily knowing all of the facts. Leo O’Loughlin of Jones Lang LaSalle debunked some of the most common smart building myths, showing that smart building technology is:

  • Not more expensive
  • Not only about energy
  • Not necessarily only used in ‘green’ or new buildings
  • Not able to be used without a municipal smart grid.

You can see the full breakdown at the following link: Top 10 Smart Building Myths—Busted

Regardless of what is being said about smart buildings now, by the end of the decade we will all be familiar with them and, with it, living in a much more energy efficient society.


This article is published in partnership with energycontrolsonline.co.uk, providing Trend Controls from Energy Controls Online.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

3 Green Technologies That Will Blow Your Mind

green-tech

Green technology is pioneering the way we live, finding solutions that help us cut our carbon emissions, reduce our waste, and protect our planet. Forecasters predict we’ll see a green technology explosion similar to the information technology boom that dominated headlines over the last two decades. It’s impossible to predict where green technology will take us, but the following innovations hint at the way the sustainable trend could change everything.

1. Green Concrete Cuts Carbon Emissions

concrete

Photo by Rick

Concrete is the third-largest source of manmade carbon dioxide on the planet, so finding a greener building solution is critical. Thankfully, British firm Novacem has created a concrete substitute which offers the same durability as traditional concrete with some serious green credentials.

Made from non-carbonate magnesium oxides and not the carbon-emitting limestone used in traditional concrete, this eco-friendly manufacturing innovation absorbs 50 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every ton Novacem creates. Compare this to the 800 kilos of carbon dioxide emitted by every ton of traditional concrete. It also gets extra green points for being recyclable.

The new sustainable material has similar production costs to traditional concrete, so it should prove a winner once it hits the market. But sadly, Novacem has faced financial challenges getting its product to the masses, culminating with its insolvency in 2012. With a mystery Australian firm purchasing the technology though, the future for this innovative concrete looks bright.

2. Eco-Friendly Bamboo Laptops Reduces E-Waste

bamboo laptop

E-waste might account for just two percent of America’s trash, but it represents 70 percent of all toxic waste. Laptops, desktop computers, and other electronics contain high amounts of lead and other chemicals which release toxins into the air. These can damage the body’s nervous systems, kidneys, and blood.

Most of us wouldn’t even think of giving up our gadgets, so it’s exciting to see firms like ASUS creating greener products. It turned heads with its new U-series bamboo laptops at the 2013 CeBIT expo. ASUS has crafted the laptops’ frames and trackpads from natural bamboo, the fastest growing plant on the planet. Bamboo is also biodegradable, so these components will break down at the end of each computer’s life.

ASUS hasn’t forgotten about the features that please tech-heads though. These green laptops are powered by Intel’s Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, so users can enjoy fast performance whether they’re creating spreadsheets or surfing the web. Expect to see them in stores in August 2013.

3. Underwater Kites Generate Power

Swedish firm Minesto has created underwater kites which it believes can turn the power of the tides into green electricity. The kites, which are fixed to the ocean floor, fly through the tidal stream. Water flows through a turbine attached to the back of each kite to generate renewable electricity.

In June 2013, Minesto developed a simulator to mimic the movements of its underwater kites. This tool will help the firm predict and optimize power production. It’s a vital step towards Minesto’s goal of generating enough green energy to power small cities.

With eco-friendly inventions like these on the horizon, the future of green technology and the planet is looking bright.


Joe Fortunato is a freelance writer from Tampa, Florida. He enjoy fishing, streaming his Baltimore Orioles on CenturyLink DSL, and running his own digital media agency. You can find Joe on Twitter at @joey_fort.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

6 Green Building Materials of the Future

green-building-materials

Think of the future. What comes to mind? Flying cars perhaps? What about robots? Most people would probably go to the extreme and think of these two things. But, why don’t we take a look at some green building materials of the future? These 6 materials are seeing increasing usage in the building industry, so their entrance into mainstream home construction might not be so far away from our present time after all.

SensiTile

You wake up in the middle of the night. On your way to the kitchen, you hit your knee on table, but not before you ran into three walls. Well, what if you had tiles that lit up when you walked? With SensiTile, this is possible. You can also have these installed on your ceilings and bathroom.

Recycled Steel

The most basic and fundamental aspect of building a house is the frame. Forget all the trees it takes for this, if we used recycled steel we’d have not only a stronger frame, but it’d only take about six scrapped cars to make this happen. Don’t think this is a house the size of a dime either. We’re talking a 2,000-square-foot home! Save a tree or 40 and go with recycled steel if building a new home.

Straw Bales

Instead of burning the by-product of grains, we can use those straws to build. The California Straw Building Association said if straw bales are kept dry, they can last for thousands of years. It also works great with stucco giving it incredible insulation.

Bamboo

By far, bamboo is probably the unexpected top green building materials. Growing at a rate of 60 to 100 cm per day, this sustainable and easily replenished resource becomes a much more appealing building block than trees, not to mention that it’s earthquake and cyclone-resistant. Bamboo is found in all types of climates and terrains, making it a potentially universal product (in fact, it grows so quickly in some environments that it’s even sometimes considered an invasive species). There’s a clear indicator that this versatile material is already on its way to the top: It’s already being used as furniture, bamboo shades for windows, medicine, and musical instruments to name a few.

Richlite

Made of 70 percent recycled paper, treating it with resin, and then baking it makes Richlite extremely easy to produce. If you’re thinking the phrase “made of paper” must indicate a weak building material, then think again. Richlite is almost impossible to distinguish from wood. Replace any surface with this and do both yourself and the environment a major favor.

Self-Fixing Concrete

We’ve taken a look at a few different building materials within your household, but let’s take a look at a material that could potentially not only save people money, but also large corporations with multiple buildings and even the government with things like bridges and sidewalks. Self-fixing concrete works with the sunlight, as the protective coating fixes the cracks before they get too large to handle.

The days of “step on the crack and break your mom’s back” are long gone. Just envision a future where our self-fixing concrete coating is inexpensive (and wait even better!) won’t freeze in cold temperatures. Saving us billions and eco-friendly? All aboard!

These are just a few of the eco-friendly building materials we can see in the near future. Which others do have caught your eye?

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

The 10 Greenest Cities on Earth

green-cities-future

Do you have a hankering to go someplace green? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Check out ten of the greenest cities in the world. All of these cities have implemented some wonderfully green initiatives and boast some awesome attractions that make them superb green getaways.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Photo by Silver Smith

This beautiful city in the northwestern region of the US boasts some fantastic views of the mountains, but it is also tops the list for being a green city with its “gray to green” initiative. Designed to restore natural vegetation, remove invasive plants and expand the city’s green public places and with 10,000 acres of park land and clear waterways for fish migration, Portland is truly a city of green. It is also one of the most conducive cities in the US for cyclists and a great place to find eco roofs, with one of the only habitat-focused eco roofs in the country.

Finding things to do in and around Portland is not difficult. Check out its many parks, especially the Rose Garden or Azalea Gardens, depending on the time of year you arrive. Forest Park is great any time of the year, with over 70 miles of trails amidst stunning scenery and a wealth of wildlife.

 

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Photo by Mike Chernucha

This city has no reason not to be green. Built over a vast resource of underground hot springs, the city has harvested this heat to create the largest geo-thermal system in the world. Not only does this intricate geo-thermal system provide heat to 95% of all city buildings, but also, it is used to produce electricity. Reykjavik has implemented further green measures in order to ensure the cleanest air possible and maintain its status as one of the world’s greenest cities.

Visitors to Reykjavik will want to take in some of the area’s volcanoes for an amazing glimpse into the power of nature or take a whale watching trip to sneak a peek at some magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Of course, biking and hiking are great Icelandic pastimes, and Reykjavik offers beautiful bike trails and relaxing parks.

 

 

Curitiba, Brazil

Brazil

Image credit: 350.org

Prepare to be inspired by this amazing green city. When the mayor first proposed transforming downtown streets into a walk-only zone, local merchants protested. But after a 30-day trial, the merchants begged for more streets to be closed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of those walk-only streets are lined by gardens that are tended to by Brazil’s many street children.

Recycling is a major initiative in Curitiba. Those in the poorest areas are encouraged to recycle through incentives that allow them to trade trash for locally grown produce. At recycling centers former alcoholics and recent immigrants sort the garbage. The extensive green park areas means that each inhabitant has approximately 550 square feet of green space to enjoy. The mayor’s successful transformation of the city is due to his priority of people and public transportation, a priority that has made Curitiba a city with one of the most effective and efficient transportation systems in the world.

While most people come to Curitiba to learn from its conservation methods, there are plenty of other sites to see, including the Santa Felicidade, a beautiful, old, Italian district filled with great eating and historic sites. The botanical gardens are also a must-see Curitiba attraction. A couple of green places in which to lodge include the Curitiba San Juan Royal Hotel and the Curitiba Eco-Hostel.

 

Malmo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Photo by Matthew Rees

This city has really turned the green on. In fact, the mayor of Malmo reports that by 2015 the entire fleet of city vehicles will run solely on biogas, electricity and hydrogen. By 2013, the entire city, not just the government sections, will be powered 100% by local renewable energy. Take the biogas, for example. This is being produced from the collection of food waste among the city’s inhabitants. A rundown housing district has been completely renovated with more than 22,000 square feet of green roof space.

Want to see Malmo? Using the efficient public transportation system is one way to get around, but you might want to join the city’s bicycle traffic. More than 40% of work and school commuters choose this method. While visiting, be sure to check out the many organic restaurants and enjoy some of the best fair-trade shopping to be found! A must-do is to check out the “slice of Swedish hospitality” program through which you can spend an evening enjoying food and conversation in a Swedish home.

 

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, Germany

Photo by Martin Brooks

Hamburg has been blessed with a lot of natural beauty, its beautiful beaches on the banks of the Elbe arguably among the most beautiful areas. The city has preserved that natural beauty by preserving nearly half of the city’s incorporated area in nature reserves, parks, green spaces and woodlands. As beautiful as the city is, it has its share of urban decay, with a combination of rundown neighborhoods, an old shipyard, garbage dumps and even old bomb shelters. Hamburg became the European Green Capital in 2011, due in part to its incredible future vision: the plan to cap two miles of inner city freeway with a beautiful area of parks, garden plots, trails and woods.

If you plan to visit Hamburg, you will want to see the “Train of Ideas” that was created and sent through Europe before returning to Hamburg. Each car on the train offers green ideas for cities and residents. Touring the port and the historic warehouse areas are top priorities for visitors, and you might want to find a place to sleep at one of the eco-friendly hotels such as the Park Hyatt Hamburg or the Okotel Hamburg.

 

London, United Kingdom

London, England

Photo by Dominik Gubi

London may be a bit newer to the green city trend, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t making great strides. With programs to reduce emissions produced by the public transportation system; place caps on the ages of taxis and other vehicles; green the roofs and walls of public spaces and boost recycling efforts, London is on track to become one of the world’s eco-city leaders.

There is certainly no lack of places to visit or things to do in London. One fun place for the eco-conscious is Mudchute, a remarkable farmland in the midst of the city. See animals and enjoy farm-fresh, organic produce and other farm products. Walking tours are great options that will allow you to learn more about Charles Dicken’s, Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings and see some of the city’s well-known parks such as Regents Park, Green Park and Kensington Gardens.

Many of London’s other famous attractions are becoming more eco-friendly, giving the green tourist many more choices for exploration. If you are staying in London, you will definitely want to check out the short stay London Serviced Apartments. These apartments are a great way to enjoy the privacy of your own pad with the convenience of room service. What could be better? Serviced Apartments give you the option of cooking your own meals with your finds from Mudchute or other London markets in addition to dining at local establishments.

 

Vancouver, Canada

vancouver

Photo by Stephen Rees

This city has big goals for the year 2020. In its “Greenest City” initiative, Vancouver’s leaders have lined out a host of projects to help the city become a much more eco-friendly city in just a few short years. Public improvements are many, including the shared-bike program and greening areas, but there are also specific goals in place to help individuals and businesses become greener as well. Year-specific goals and evaluations are the guiding force to keeping the city on track.

Vancouver is truly a beautiful place with much to see. Deciding which of those sites to take in is a visitor’s biggest problem. The Vancouver Lookout is a favorite as are the Minter Gardens, Stanley Par and Hell’s Gate Airtram. While you are in the area, consider supporting green efforts by staying at the Fairmont Waterfront. With complimentary electric car charging and other eco-friendly innovations, it is a green sleep worth checking out!

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo by Keith Braithwaite

This city has a humble goal: to be the first capital city to become C02 neutral by the year 2025. It is well on its way, having cleaned up the harbor, added green areas and improved biking areas so that in 2010, 35% of the workforce used bikes to commute to work. The city hopes that number grows to 50% by the year 2015. Copenhagen’s biggest share of C02 reduction will come from dealing with the city’s heating energy.

The city recommends swimming in its clean harbor waters and biking through the extensive bike trail system as the top “green” ways to enjoy the capital. Of course, Copenhagen has plenty of other activities to enjoy, and the Hotel Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers tops the list of green places to stay, even making available electric cars for rental.

 

Bogota, Columbia

Bogota, Columbia

Photo by Ian Barbour

A city laid out on a high plateau in the Andes Mountains, Bogota boasts a population of 7.3 million people and a green index higher than most other cities in South America. Its stringent green spaces policies and more recent green taxi initiative help it keep its CO2 levels under control.

 

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia

Photo by Nigel Paine

From rooftop honey to community gardens, Melbourne is truly a green city at heart. Its cohousing options are pretty astounding too. Of course the city has other plans in place, such as storm water harvesting, green roofs and walls and a “cool roof” plan. All of these share the common goal of aiding Melbourne in achieving a net zero emissions rate by the year 2020.

If you travel to Melbourne, you will definitely want to check out the rooftop activities, which include concerts, restaurant offerings and more. The Royal Botanic Gardens are great, and a stay at the Alto Hotel on Borke should be a high priority.


Chris Turberville-Tully, who writes for ESA Serviced Apartments, is an avid support of green initiatives including eco-friendly transportation, green roofs and implementing self-sufficient energy sources. Connect with Chris on Google+.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

range-rover-hybrid

Need more proof that hybrid technology is the solid foundation for the future of automobiles? Following announcements from other luxury car brands like Ferrari and Porsche that they’re unveiling new electric models, Land Rover seems poised to have its hybrid Range Rover SUV on roads next year.

The prototype cars have been doing well so far in the Silk Trail 2013 expedition, a 5,226-mile convoy going through Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The Range Rovers, seven of them total, started in Solihull, UK and have reached the halfway point of their trek to Mumbai, India. So far Land Rover is said to be impressed with how the Range Rovers have responded to the deserts of central Asia on the epic journey.

Land Rover had previously stated they wanted to see how the Range Rovers did on the Silk Trail before they sign off on producing the vehicle for the public. The trail they’re on now is punishing, with the cars going through a number of weather elements (temperatures have ranged from moderate to extremely hot) plus other hazards like asphalt surfaces riddled with potholes, mud tracks and dusty gravel trails that alternate between hard as gravel and smooth as sand.

Throughout the trip, trackers have been monitoring the wear and tear on the cars. So far, the Range Rovers have demonstrated extremely high reliability and between them all have only endured a cracked windscreen and four punctures.

Getting down to the nitty gritty details of the car, Land Rover is proud to have built the SUV with added features other hybrids typically can’t accommodate, like the ability to carry a spare wheel and tire. Its 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel engine and 47 horsepower electric motor, what’s perhaps most impressive about these models is their ability to churn out excellent fuel economy even while heavily laden.  Part of the Silk Trail mission takes the vehicles through waterlogged mud tracks of the Kalmykiya grasslands in Russia. While impassable for other vehicles, these have still be recording 40 miles per gallon on roads through Russia and Uzbekistan.

There are still 29 days to go before the Range Rovers reach Mumbai, and standing before them are deserts and lowlands of Kyrgyzstan and China, plus the cold air of the Himalaya mountain range.

By the time they reach the end of the road, if Land Rover decides to proceed with production, consumers of the luxury SUVs will know they’re getting a vehicle that can stand up to anything its up against, on the road and off it.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Green Buses Get Green Roofs

green-bus-roof

Green roofs are one of the latest trends in sustainable building, and for good reason: they substantially improve energy efficiency (they can reduce heat loss by 34% in the winter lower heat gain in the summer by 84%), and also clean the air through photosynthesis, by absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen.

So it only seems natural that someone would take the green roof concept beyond the buildings, and now a landscape artist from Spain has done just that. The “Phytokinetic” bus, designed by Marc Grañén, puts the type of green roof you’d expect to see on a building on top of a city’s public transportation. As the bus drives around the city, the green roof absorbs CO2, produces oxygen, and also increases the efficiency of the bus’ travels by reducing the amount of air conditioning that has to be used to keep its patrons cool on hot days.

And though you may suspect that the additional weight of the plants and soil would make the bus less efficient, Grañén compensated for that by replacing traditional plant soil with hydroponic foam, and a coating that doesn’t hold water.

So how do the plants stay watered? Fast Company explains:

The garden is watered using condensation drawn from the bus’s air conditioning conduits, which are sandwiched between the ceiling and the plant bed. A stainless steel mesh anchors the foliage so there’s no risk of it spilling over the sides of the bus or onto its front windshield should the driver makes a sharp turn or hit the brakes.

What do you think about this new environmental twist for a city’s public transportation – are the perceived benefits worth the investment?

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, if for no other reason than it wakes people up to the realization that even a small change can have a big impact. The amount of oxygen being produced by a few green roofs on buses isn’t going to have a world-changing impact, but it will certainly make people stop and think about their carbon emissions, and how they can effect small changes in their life to better the environment.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Boston: The Energy Efficiency Rockstar

boston-streetlight

It seems every other week there are reports about how we as a nation are failing the environment. Between pollution and climate change, the way human beings regard nature is disappointing. However, there is a bright spot for a more optimistic future. Renewable energy continues to be a guiding force in major industries. Cities across the country continually adapt to better, more environmentally-friendly standards and are improving their use of energy. Among 34 major cities, Boston ranks as the top one in America for energy-efficiency.

According to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Boston is the leader in sustainable initiatives. Using a scorecard by the organization, the Massachusetts capital ranks 76.75 out of 100 points, the highest of any other city in the nation. Boston boasts a large amount of energy and environmental services, including transportation, renewable energy, and taking action on climate change. Alternative energy has proven to boost economies, creating thousands of jobs. Out of around 12,550, solar power is the biggest segment, accounting for almost 60 percent of workers. It is committed to a sustainable future with investments in these areas and more.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is passionate about environmentally friendly innovations. His commitment to greater sustainability is reflected in the programs he supports and goals he wants to achieve. In 2009, he created Renew Boston, an initiative that involves a network of providers in alternative and efficient energy who coordinate efforts to achieve big goals. For example, they aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. They also want to lower usage of electricity by 200 megawatts by 2017. “I always believed that mayors have a responsibility to push the envelope on reducing greenhouse gas emissions”, he said. “That’s why I created aggressive greenhouse gas emissions goals.” An ambitious man, Menino is also offering incentives to homeowners who make energy-saving upgrades. A home can get $3,000 in subsidies for improving insulation.

Boston and the state of Massachusetts continue to set the bar with goals and programs for improved energy-efficiency and independence. With bike-share systems, LED street lights, initiatives to reduce waste, and conserving wetlands, this city leads the way. They are definitely ideas to get inspired by and work to make a reality. With several industries making upgrades and plans to become more environmentally friendly and cutting down waste, it improves the quality of life for it citizens. Health issues are reduced and people lead happier, less stressful lives. Massachusetts has a great reputation for quality healthcare and a good standard of living. Becoming more energy efficient is also a smart move for business. Adapting to greener policies and goals shows a company or brand stays informed of current ideas and innovations. It reflects a broader shift towards standards better suited for the environment. It not only reduces energy and waste, but cuts down future costs, saving people money when they invest in solar panels or LED lights.

Boston is number one and is showing other cities how it’s done.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Ferrari’s Hybrid Effort

ferrari-hybrid

One of the biggest surprises this year has been the arrival of the LaFerrari – a fantastic car but most notably one with hybrid technology. In short, a Ferrari hybrid is a long way from a Toyota Prius.

The Ferrari LaFerrari is one of the most interesting and dynamic changes in the supercar area in a long time and consumers have taken to it. The $1.34m car is completely sold out and it’s not even on the road yet. However, for Ferrari this is a statement of things to come.

 

The Trickledown Effect

Anybody who knows anything about technology understands that such innovations often start with the most exclusive and high end models and in time follow down to the rest of the line. Higher paying consumers tend to be less price sensitive when it comes to paying out and trying new technologies. So, though it’s exclusive now, don’t be surprised to see most Ferraris incorporating the mild hybrid technology in the near future – especially as it becomes cheaper to produce.

Ferrari has a soft spot for hybrids as was seen most evidently by Ferrari chairman Luco di Montezemolo’s statement a couple of weeks ago. On Bloomberg, the head of the sports car company said he, “”believe in the electrics cars, but strongly believes in hybrids.” As a statement of future intent that’s quite a notable one.

 

A Tool for Performance and the Environment

The most notable thing about the technologies use in hybrids is that it’s now not merely a tool for greener motoring but also one for increased performance. The hybrid engine increases fuel performance and lowers emissions but also aids engine power as the 963bhp block in the car showcases. It’s a higher powered motor than any current Ferraris for sale and one that’s greatly impressed.

There may be some purists who will argue against the use of such technology. Pragmatists won’t. The emergence of stricter emissions regulations means these technologies are a logical way forward. In addition, they also add outright power too.

 

Other Performance Manufacturers Gone Hybrid

Of course, Ferrari is not the first sports car manufacturer to create a high powered hybrid; both McClaren and Porsche have already done so. Porsche has even gone as far as create a fully electric version of its Boxster – the Boxster E. However, as seen from Montezemolo’s statement, this is not an option for Ferrari.

Porsche Boxster E

Porsche Boxster E

The flipside of the electric statement is that Ferrari produces around 7,000 cars a year – if these were all electric and produced no emissions, it would be barely noticeable as regards an environmental difference. In addition, the strong statements regarding electric cars would suggest no real interest in the area either ways.

So, the future for Ferrari is like it is for most supercar manufacturers and car makers in general. It means more hybrid technology at a lower price and at a benefit to both green types and those who love increased performance. It can’t be bad, can it?


Charlotte Appel has written about a whole host of different areas and is a lover of new technology. She has a love of cooking, the outdoors and travel.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Does Solar = Growth for Africa?

africa-solar

Solar energy – African economies’ secret weapon. This was the headline of an article published in CNN earlier this year. It reinforced the recent global consensus on Africa that this region which receives generous quantities of sunlight throughout the year has become a haven for renewable energy for countries with high energy requirements.

Mr. Garai Makokoro, director of the Energy Technology Institute in Zimbawe told Africa Renewal, “African countries must think outside the box. The sun is free and inexhaustible. Solar technology — photovoltaic panels — converts the sun’s radiation directly into electricity with no pollution or damage to the environment. The panels can generate enough power to run stoves, pump water, light clinics and power televisions. Africa has one of the best climates for this type of energy.”

Africa today stands in a position where it should and must ride the wave of need for renewable energy. Energy was earlier viewed in a different perspective, more as an auxiliary instrument for developing financial stability of a country, but never as a direct agent or facilitator of economic growth. Things have changed today. Energy has become an absolute necessity for economic growth and social development.

Under such circumstances Africa stands to emerge as a superpower of energy hub with its colossal solar energy production potential.

A difficult climb

Despite receiving sunshine almost 325 days a year, most parts of the continent still lie in darkness. The International Energy Agency figures reveal that even today 59% of the population in Africa has no access to electricity of which 80% are living in the rural areas.

With the national grid expansion demand completely outstripping the supply, Africans have constantly faced a huge energy shortage. Rural electrification is an issue the continent has struggled with for too long. Kerosene, charcoal and firewood have been used as popular light sources despite their dangerous nature. Africa, however, has now realized the immense energy resource it has in the form of solar power and is working toward solar panel powered growth and development.

South Africa: The Leading Energy Investment Nation

South Africa is leading the pack in bringing about rapid economic development in the continent. The last year saw South Africa registering the world’s highest growth in renewable energy investment, according to the U.N Environment Program (UNEP). The figures went up from a few hundred million dollars to $5.7 billion in a year. South Africa is unambiguously the world’s fastest growing renewable energy market today.

Large scale investments have been pouring in. Google, which has spent more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects in the United States and Europe, has now invested $12 million into the Jasper Power Project in South Africa, a 96-MW solar photovoltaic plant in Northern Cape.

South African Deputy President KgalemaMothlane in his address at the South African Green Energy Youth Summit in Cape Town earlier this year had said, “South Africa with its vast renewable energy resources has the potential to become one of the world’s fastest growing economic hubs.”

With the investments trickling into the large –scale solar power projects, one surely sees light at the end of the tunnel and hopes South Africa along with other African nations shall solve the dire energy poverty faced in rural Africa. With sunset the lives of most rural Africans are rendered unproductive, and they are enveloped in darkness which does not allow them to carry out or complete any important economic tasks. This scenario is expected to change soon.

Ambitious Energy Investment Projects in other parts of Africa

Many African nations are transforming the continent by tapping the abundance of solar energy, nature has gifted them with. Not only are they trying to provide appropriate and affordable energy for rural electrification within the continent, but are also attracting foreign investment in the projects to boost the African economy.

  • Africa’s biggest solar PV plant was launched in Mauritiana in April this year, a 15-MW facility that is designed to account for 10% of the country’s energy capacity. Morocco began the first phase of the construction of a 160-MW concentrated solar power technology plant near Ouarzazate. This is a part of the country’s efforts to produce 2,000 MW of solar energy by 2020.
  • The ambitious $400 million and 155-MW Nzema project has also been announced by the British company Blue Energy in Ghana which is to begin next year.

Moving toward a solar lit future

The Economist had regrettably labeled Africa “the hopeless continent” at the turn of the new millennium. From then till today a big change has taken place and Africa has progressed immensely. Six of the 10 most rapidly developing countries in the world are from Africa. Many of them are emerging as economic powerhouses and to keep up with the pace of the development, massive energy requirements will be generated. Moving toward renewable solar energy does not simply allow it to meet its internal energy needs but also makes it an energy hub for the nations of the world who are looking for alternative inexhaustible sources of energy. Solar Power is Africa’s card to a sunnier future.


Penny Olmos is associated with Holloway Houston, Inc. a leading industrial lifting equipment manufacturing company. She is a writer for Holloway Houston, Inc. and loves to write on wire rope. Her writing is backed by knowledge gained by her many years of experience partnering with clients to build their business through development and implementation of track-proven Internet marketing strategies.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Nissan Announces Self Driving Cars by 2020

nissan-self-driving

Nissan has been putting a lot of effort into developing green car technology, aiming to become a leader in the green vehicle market. The Leaf, their zero-emission vehicle, is the world’s best-selling all-electric car, and it is one of the most fuel-efficient cars, as well. In addition to hybrid and electric vehicles, the Japanese car maker has been working on autonomous vehicle technology. The autonomous car concept was made popular by Google, which has already completed hundreds of thousands of miles of road tests with its self-driving car, that can now be legally operated on public roads in California, Nevada and Florida. Google is probably ahead of its main competitors, including Nissan, BMW, Audi and Volvo, as far as how advanced their driver-less car technology is, but Nissan is looking to catch up with the computer software giant and plans to introduce a driver-less car on its own by 2020.

The company with headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, wants to implement highly sophisticated equipment in their vehicles that will help prevent accidents and improve traffic safety. In addition, they want to make cars more intelligent in order to reduce traffic jams, which will result in reduced air pollution. The driverless car Nissan intends to create won’t have to stop-and-go as often as conventional cars do, which will make for a better and smoother traffic flow in cities where traffic congestion is a huge problem.

In an effort to show off their autonomous vehicle concept, Nissan organized an event in Los Angeles this past week, called Nissan 360, where they demonstrated what the prototype is capable of. They have decided to test their autonomous drive technology on the all-electric Leaf, which drove at a former military base in Irvine, performing a series of maneuvers, such as merging into traffic, weaving around a series of barrels, driving along a figure-of-eight course, as well as slowing down and stopping at a stop sign. Although during the demonstration, there was a person sitting behind the wheel at all times, the car moved totally independently, and the driver had to be present in case some of the electronic systems failed.

However, no matter how perfectly the self-driving Leaf prototype was performing various maneuvers and overcoming certain types of obstacles during the simulation, Nissan still has a lot of work to do to make a car that will be able to do the same things on public roads, where it will have to share the road with other vehicles and pay attention to pedestrians. In the real world, the car would have to deal with all sorts of unexpected situations and it will have to be able to adapt to changing road and weather conditions, avoid collisions, crossing intersections, and so on.

As Maarten Sierhuis, the project’s co-director stated himself: “We need to be able to drive any intersection anywhere and at any time to be fully autonomous.” That is the biggest challenge Nissan has to overcome, aside from the legal issues, as some sort of legislative that will regulate the use of autonomous cars is yet to be put into effect.


Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “safe driving” specialist. He is a writer for DMV.com, which is a collaborative community designed to help ease the stress and annoyance of “dealing with the DMV”.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

5 Amazing Carbon Footprint Monitoring Apps

Apps - Tile Icons on Smart Phone

Exercising, sleeping, cooking, job-hunting… there’s an app for everything nowadays and energy efficiency is no exception. As utility bills creep ever higher and we’re increasingly bombarded with environmental messages, savvy app developers have jumped in to make the whole process of saving the planet a little easier and, in some cases, pretty fun too. Here are five apps to measure and reduce your carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint

(iPhone, iPod touch and iPad: $0.99)

Carbon Footprint is an application for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows you to track fuel usage for multiple cars. As soon as you have collected data from a few fill ups, statistics will be calculated for you. The statistics that are generated are:

  • Miles per gallon
  • Dollars per gallon
  • Dollars per mile
  • Dollars per day
  • Miles per day
  • Gallons per day
  • Projected Carbon Dioxide emissions per year
  • Percent difference from average American CO2 emission (based on government statistic of an average of 500 gallons of gasoline per American per year)
  • Total carbon emissions to date

As well as being able to generate statistics for all time, the user is also able to see statistics over a specific date range as specifiable in the statistics window. In addition to numbers, the user is also able to tap on any statistic and see it plotted in a chart over time. In this chart view you can see the “Per Fill Up” statistic in RED which is the stat from each tank to the next, and also the “Running Average” for each statistic in BLUE. As for data entry, the user simply has to press the “Edit” button in the “Entries” view, and use the convenient picker-based entry fields to enter the date of the fill up, price paid per gallon, number of gallons, current odometer reading and whether or not the tank was completely filled.

Download Carbon Footprint at iTunes.

 

Zero Carbon

(iPhone, iPod touch and iPad: Free)

Zero Carbon is a global Carbon Footprinting application, going much further than their counterparts in the App Store. It not only lets you know the greenhouse gas emissions that affect the climate and the result of your daily habits of life and work, but it also gives you simple tips to reduce your emissions. You can share your results and future environmental commitments with your Friends in Facebook, better inform yourself on the Carbon Footprint and the goals of how to take care of the planet. It even enables you to support emission reduction projects that will reduce the total impact of your activities. The application contains the following functions:

  • A Personal Carbon Footprint Calculator
  • A list of tasks that may be completed to reduce your carbon emissions
  • A connector for Facebook that lets you share your results with your friends
  • Information about yourself with world averages
  • Q & A with information everyone should know
  • An offset tool that enables you to reduce your carbon emissions financially supporting the development of certified projects to reduce carbon emissions throughout the world
  • You can create a user account for personal offset or give a gift of “avoided carbon tons” to reduce the emissions of another person

Download Zero Carbon at iTunes.

 

CarbonTrack

(iPhone, iPod touch and iPad: Free)

The specially designed CarbonTrack app is designed to give you a rough idea of the CO2 emissions caused by some of your key daily business activities – travel, electricity usage and waste – and their associated environmental impact. With CarbonTrack you can:

  • Measure the environmental effects of a typical business journey – and compare it with different modes of transport
  • Calculate the potential electricity savings from switching off different types of office equipment
  • Measure the environmental effects of different types of business waste

While the data provided in CarbonTrack is for demonstration purposes only, it is intended to give you an idea of how easy it is to measure and monetize greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts across your entire internal operations and supply chain using the SAP Carbon Impact on-demand solution.

Download Carbon Track at iTunes.

 

Ecorio

(Android: Free)

Ecorio utilizes the GPS system on the phone to track your carbon footprint as you travel. It calculates what kind of impact you make on the move, gives you what kind of footprint you’re making right then, and what kind of footprint you may make annually if your habits stay consistent. Once you see what your footprint looks like, the application then gives you ideas for taking action through reducing heavy impact travel, inspiring you to try greener options or by purchasing carbon offsets through Google Checkout. You simply click on the field “What if I…” and by selecting an option, you can see by how much you’re able to reduce your footprint right then.

Ecorio can even follow your driving habits through GPS and can let you know how efficiently you’re driving. Say you aren’t driving all that efficiently, and would rather skip it all together. Ecorio can recommend public transportation options via Google Transit. Or, it can hook you up with Zimride to find you folks to carpool with.

The app is also interactive — you can share tips and tricks with other users. Find out what other Ecorio users have recently done to reduce and share what actions you’ve taken.

Download Ecorio at Android Tapp.

My Planet

(Android: Free)

My Planet lets you see how your day-to-day choices you make impact your little slice of the planet. First, personalize your world and make it your own. Then we’ll quiz you to figure out how clean and green you are. Your answers will subtly impact the world you’ve created.

  • Earn badges
  • Get helpful tips
  • Share your achievements on Facebook
  • Answer 10 initial questions, and then 1 per day
  • See how your actions continue to shape the world

Saving the planet might be your top priority, but protecting your mobile device against malware and other malicious files should be close to the top of your priority list, too. Too many apps running in the background can slow down performance—not to mention introduce vulnerabilities that leave your device open for attack. Protect your device with mobile security software so you can carry on with saving the planet with confidence.

Download My Planet at Google Play.

 


Sarah Hendricks who is a security expert on protecting users and businesses from hackers and data leakage. Users in the office, at home, or working remotely are all subject to attack. Sarah has teamed up with mobile antivirus software leader NQ.com mobile security to keep mobile devices protected nation wide!

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

In Focus: Obama’s PV Installation

obama-pv-white-house

President Obama’s decision to install American-made solar panels on the first family’s residence was heralded as groundbreaking by many environmentalists. One reason it was so celebrated was because it marked the end of a long, uphill battle for many activist groups. After several years of petitions by many prominent enviro-activist groups, and after a failed White House promise to install solar panels in 2011, Obama’s announcement marked the end of a long road for many involved. However, a second reason it was so celebrated was because it marked the White House’s inclusion into America’s booming solar power industry.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” said then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu in 2010. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

According to figures from GTM research, a photovoltaic (PV) system was being installed on a residential unit every 80 minutes in 2006. By the time Steven Chu made his speech in 2010, a PV system was being installed every 20 minutes. When President Obama officially declared that solar panels were being installed this Thursday, a PV system was being installed every 4 minutes.

“Today, President Obama’s rhetoric of the past several years finally matches reality,” Sungevity’s co-founder Danny Kennedy said Thursday. “I applaud the president for his actions but my praise is much more resounding for the hundreds of thousands of American households whose example he has followed.”

Solar power generates enough electricity to power over 1.3 million homes, according to a study by the Solar Energy Industries Association. Admittedly, America’s 30 utility-scale solar power plants are generating most of its 8,500 megawatts of solar electricity capacity. However, the addition of residential PV systems helps the industry by driving consumer demand. Indeed, the solar power industry also employs more than 120,000 people – many of whom are part of the booming manufacturing and installation business that is currently sweeping America.

If the solar power industry keeps growing at its current rate, American may very well be installing a PV system every 80 seconds by 2016. At such a fast rate, the US may be welcoming its 1 millionth residential solar installation by the end of that year. This puts it at a much greater position than any other alternative energy source in America. It seems, then, almost fitting that the first alternative energy source to power the White House was neither wind energy nor biofuel, but solar energy. With any luck, such a rapidly developing industry will help Obama reach his goal of having 20 percent of the federal government’s energy come from alternative energy sources by 2020.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal

Solar Comes to the White House

white-house

In another step showing its commitment to environmental policies, this week the Obama Administration announced that solar panels were being installed on the roof of the White House. A White House official said:

“The retrofit will include the installation of energy-saving equipment, such as updated building controls and variable speed fans, as well as solar generation. The project will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy-efficiency upgrades”

The installation is great news for environmentalists and the solar industry alike, albeit long overdue. It was in October 2010 when Steven Chu, then Energy Secretary of the United States, announced the White House would be affixed with solar panels, and encouraged Americans to do the same with their homes or buildings. At that time, Chu stated that the White House solar panels would save the building approximately $2,300 per year in energy costs. While not a substantial amount, given the size of the building, the addition of renewable energy sources clearly has an impact.

And of course, the Obama Administration didn’t opt for the least expensive solar panels – according to the White House’s official statement, the panels and installation crew were both American.

The new solar panel installation also sends a clear message about retrofitting: even old buildings can (and should) support solar panels.

The funny thing is, the White House was actually equipped with solar panels during Jimmy Carter’s presidency in 1979, but they were later removed by Reagan in ’86.

The solar panels aren’t the first eco friendly initiative the Obama have led since taking residence in the White House. The First Lady planted a chemical-free (but not quite organic) vegetable garden on the grounds, and there is also now an official White House bee hive that last year produced 175 pounds of honey.

Hopefully there will be more environmental retrofits coming to the White House before the end of Obama’s presidency.

Original Article on Greener.Ideal