Tag Archives: Green Technology

Planting the Seeds of Intent for Sustainable Smart Cities

City of Tampa in full bloom.

In the late 1990s, Americans dreamed of a fully automated smart house. They smiled at the idea of turning lights on and off with a universal remote or voice command, they chuckled at the thought of a house regulating its own temperature, and their mouths watered at the notion of a house making breakfast.

Now in 2014, having actually built many things that were only dreams at the end of the century, visionaries are broadening their ambitions from smart homes to smart cities.

“What is a ‘smart city’?” you might be wondering. “What can it do now, and what might it be able to do in the future?” Excellent questions. Here are three examples of smart city technology that existtoday, and some thoughts about where they might go.

1. Smart Grids

According to energy.gov, the growth in peak energy usage has exceeded the growth in transmission capability by 25 percent every year since 1982. Given this staggering statistic, is it any wonder that over the past forty years America has endured five enormous blackouts (three of which happened within the last nine years)?

Until recently, utility companies tried to combat this problem by expanding (not improving) the current grid. This is no longer a viable option. However, smart grid technologies are part of the solution.

Currently, the most wide-spread form of smart grid technology is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI replaces the traditional electric meter with a smart meter that gives both the homeowner and the utility information about power usage in real-time.

This information helps homeowners regulate their energy usage and demonstrates the value of energy-saving appliances. In the event of a power outage or other problem, smart meters also help utility companies pinpoint the issue, allowing them to resolve it more quickly while keeping the problem from spreading.

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8 Things You Didn’t Know About Electric Cars

Tesla Model SAdvocates of the gasoline engine point to the high costs, low speeds and the unproven track record of the electric car as its caveats. However, the facts are clear: electric cars are drastically falling in price, are competing with ordinary driver vehicles for speed, entail far less maintenance and are proving even more reliable than cars using petrol. Bet you didn’t know these astounding facts.

1. Electric Cars Aren’t New Kids on the Block

In fact, electric cars have been around for more than 170 years. Robert Anderson of Scotland is credited with creating the first electric carriage in 1832. Electric cars have, of course, progressed significantly since then, as the technology has improved by leaps and bounds. You now have the option of controlling many of car’s functions from your smartphone. So if it’s cold outside, use your smartphone to start up your car and save yourself some freezing discomfort. Some of the best cell phones of 2013 now have the technology to seamlessly interact with your smart car.

2. Once Upon a Time, Electric Cars Were More Popular than Petrol Cars

Before the twentieth century, there were more electric cars on the road than gas-powered ones. Until the Model T was invented and petrol became readily available, that is. In 1897, all New York City taxis were electric-powered, built by Electric Carriage and Wagon Company in Chicago.

3. Ironically, Electricity Made Petrol More PopularKarma at speed in the fog

At first, petrol cars were less popular because they had to be hand cranked. When the electric starter was installed, it made starting petrol engines easier. So, electricity is what bolstered gasoline engines into popularity.

4. Electric Cars Need Almost No Maintenance

Other than replacing windshield wipers and buying tires, there is virtually no maintenance in owning an electric car. Even the brakes last longer due to the design of electric cars. The Mars Rovers have worked continually for over seven years with no mechanical issues at all.

5. Electric Cars are Speed Demons!

In 1899, the world speed record on land was made by an electric car from Belgium called La Janais Contante. It made history at 68 mph (109 km/h). Today, the world’s fastest electric car reaches speeds of 305 km/h and accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds.

6. Electric Cars are More Available, Less Costly All the Time

In 2009, a consumer paid £21,334 for an electric car. Today that price has fallen to £10,990. By 2015, consumers are expected to pay a mere £6,500. Not only are the prices falling, but more vehicles are becoming available. Almost every major auto manufacturer in the world is expected to offer an electric vehicle within two years. Thirteen models are currently available, with 18 to come. The Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are just a few of the currently available electric cars to choose from.

7. Charging An Electric Car is Easy

Many consumers fear that charging the car will be difficult, expensive, time-consuming or impossible. However, charging electric cars is cheaper than buying petrol at today’s prices and most owners charge their cars overnight and lose no time at all out of their busy schedules. In fact, as your smartphone charges, so can your car! Increasingly, petrol stations are offering fueling stations for electric cars to meet customer demands.

8. Electric Cars are More Efficient With Less Pollutants

Eighty percent of the energy in an electric car goes toward powering the vehicle, while only 14-26 percent of the energy used by a petrol car does so. Additionally, electric cars introduce no pollutants, while petrol vehicles produce nitrous oxide, particulates and many other air pollutants.

Clearly, there is much we can learn about electric cars. Are you in the market?

 

Image via Flickr by Al Abut

Image via Flickr by Fisker Auto

4 Green Technologies That Are Actually Selling

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 1.25.51 PM

People are becoming increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint. However, just because we are concerned about this as a society does not mean that all green technologies are selling as well as they should be. In fact, too many of them have gone by the wayside. Luckily, there are still green technologies that are actually selling.

Hybrid Cars

The price of hybrid cars keeps coming down, and the demand keeps going up. As the price comes down, more people can afford them. When buying new cars, one of the biggest things families look at is the gas mileage. The next thing they look at is the overall price of the car. So, if they can get a car that is relatively inexpensive but will give them great gas mileage, they are going to jump on it. This is the biggest reason that these vehicles are selling extremely well.

Cleaning Supplies

Have you walked down the cleaning supplies aisle at the grocery store lately? Take a look around; you’ll see that there’s a lot of “green” products. That’s because these things sell like crazy. No one wants to clean their home with harsh chemicals. Instead, they want to get things clean, but do it as environmentally friendly as possible. Companies that create cleaning products have noticed this and now make green cleaning products that fly off the shelves.

Home Solar Panels

As the solar panel technology is getting smaller and more easily available for home use, it’s also becoming more popular. People are buying solar panels to put on their roofs to power their homes. Some use these to supplement their power, while others bring in so much from their solar panels that they are able to sell back to the power company in their town. In addition, many new homes come pre-installed with solar panels. This is a technology that is becoming almost as common as high-speed Internet in homes – it’s not quite there yet, but give it a few years.

Windmill Farms

One of the biggest sellers for cities and states is the wind technology. In fact, many areas are setting up windmill farms. These expanses of land literally have windmills set up on them, and that’s it. They harvest the power of the wind and use it to produce power. That power takes the place of more traditional power creation methods, lowering the carbon footprint of the city. Plus, many cities that do this are able to sell the excess power they create to other cities or even other states. In addition to larger entities doing this, some individuals are able to set up windmills on their own land. Sometimes the land is rented to larger organizations for the power creation.

There are a lot of green technologies out there. Some have come and gone without much stir in the community. Other technologies have yet to be tested on a larger scale. What are your thoughts on the green tech industry? Do you see potential for economic growth and job creation through these endeavors?

I Can See Clearly Now… Not!?

I am not old enough to remember, but I have heard plenty of stories from older folks about how a literal cloud of smog once hung over downtown Los Angeles. On a perfect sunny morning, you could see only the lower floors of buildings, no real skyline. This is hard to imagine now, as air quality has improved SO much over the past three decades that downtown L.A. can now join the ranks of other major American cities with its own signature views.

2010-09-20-Jan.51948.jpgPhoto: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library

2010-09-20-DowntownLosAngelesJanuary2010.jpgDowntown Los Angeles; January 2010

California has always been a leader in environmental legislation, perhaps to a fault. Many in the oil and automotive industries have accused the state’s lawmakers of trying to "legislate technology" by mandating virtually impossible reductions in carbon emissions spewing from the tailpipes of our

autos. Funny how after all the complaining, they managed to do so, to the point that literally one 1959 Cadillac, like the ones Elvis used to drive, makes more emissions than 100 of the new Cadillac CTS models that are commonly seen around Los Angeles.

The results of this technology improvement are obvious on most mornings. I can see clearly now, as the Johnny Nash song goes, the skyline of L.A. is very visible on a bright sun-shiney day. As the old cars are scrapped and the age of our national fleet is modernized, the improvement in the air we breathe continues. Being able to actually see this only adds to the proof of concept: sometimes "legislating technology" can actually work.


Port of Los Angeles Air Quality Report Card 2005-2009

At the same time, there is a contingent of intelligencia led by former Secretary of State George Schultz, who claim that the new laws are fostering the birth of the green economy and should be upheld. Makes sense to me — and the large venture capital firms who already have hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars invested in alternative fuels and renewable energy development plays.

Please contact your legislator no matter where you live to reaffirm your support of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as A.B. 32 — and your opposition to the sentiment that gave life to Proposition 23, the move to suspend A.B. 32. As we know, many states follow California’s lead on things environmental, so if Prop 23 is successful, shock waves will be sent throughout the country.

A lot of folks will be watching closely on November 2nd. Please support A.B. 32 and "just say no" to Prop 23.

 

Thanks for reading, as always, comments please….

It’s not just about green products anymore

 “Green Technology” is a term that we hear more and more in today’s global world. We see everything from solar powered cars and computers to green roofs and buildings. Each of these new green technologies and innovations that have become products have been put on the market with the purpose of providing consumers with alternatives to the archaic energy-sucking products of the past. 

This all sounds really great right? One problem.

 

Most of these products still require oil or gas powered factories to create them. So despite the fact that these products reduce energy consumption when used by consumers, the reality is that the production of these products in fact is just as bad as those archaic technologies.

 

Some companies however are making an effort to green their factories to match the mission and goals of their products. The Sharp Corporation, a Japanese consumer/information product and electronic component manufacturer and developer is one of these companies making an effort. From fiscal 2001 and onward, the Sharp Corporation introduced unique, quantified environmental performance criteria to assess and approve a plant for certification. These plants must achieve scores of 70 / 100 to be considered Green Factories (GF). 

 

The 10 concepts in the GF Guidelines are as follows:

Minimize reduction of greenhouse gases

Minimize energy consumption

Minimize discharge of waste

Minimize resource consumption

Minimize risk of environmental pollution and accidents

Minimize environmental burden on the atmosphere, water and soil

Endeavor to preserve nature both on and off site

Encourage harmony with the local community

Foster high environmental awareness among employees

Disclose information on the environment

 

The Sharp Corporation has in fact been so successful in their green factory endeavors that they have earned the title of Super Green Factory (SGF) in some of their plants, which requires a score of 90 / 100 based on the GF concepts.

 

Another company who is on the green factory train is Honda who has set many goals in motion in order to green their factories. Currently thirteen of Honda’s fourteen North American manufacturing plants have earned third-party ISO 14001 certification for environmental management systems. As a result of their success, according to their website, Honda “has set a new target to achieve "nearly zero" landfill waste (less than 1% waste to landfill) at all its North American plants by FY2012”.

 

Lastly, let us not forget Toyota who is currently one of the leaders in green awareness with its products and its factories. For the past 15 years Toyota has been working hard to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions and has succeeded in cutting these emissions in Japan from 2.12 million tons to 1.78 million tons annually. Toyota is now moving forward with their goal of cutting down emissions per unit worldwide 20% from 2001 levels by 2010. Not only are they reducing their factory emissions, but their CO2 emissions per car are reportedly down 15% since 2002! 

 

These three companies, to name a few, show us that is not only important to continue to promote green technology in the form of consumer products, but that it is also important for companies not to forget about the means in which these green products are produced. By making an effort as Toyota, Honda and Sharp have been, global emissions from factories can see a dramatic reduction.

Time for a change, and I see Green

This past winter, in Bay City Michigan, a 92 year old, WW2 veteran died in his home. Now this wouldn’t be big news except for the fact that he froze to death. It had been snowing terribly and he couldn’t get to the mail or where ever it was he needed to send his payment to his electric company. The bill with the cash was found on his kitchen table. The electric company put a block on his electrical usage since he was behind. The worker stated that he knocked on the door, but no one had answered.

In this country, this should have never happened. When I was in school years ago, I remember my teacher speaking about history and how we did not allow Monopolies. This is my question. What happened? This poor man had no choice in what he paid for his electric, and had no other option. Is this not in it’s very definition a Monopoly? How could our government allow this to happen? A monopoly in services that are vital to human life should never be permitted to be shut down. This is an unethical and immoral practice. To not have an option to who we have service, we are at the whim of our electrical companies demands.

It is time to bring this case, as well as I am quite sure others. I have heard of families burning to death due to candle because of no electricity. Carbon Monoxide poisoning from improper ventilation. Write your Senators and demand a green source of electricity. Whether it be solar panels for those most in need for their lives, or wind companies that can take the load, and compete with the existing Electrical company. This service, that is absolutely vital to life, should not be held in a monopoly where it can and is abusing it’s customers. The technology is there, and is being used in a lot of major cities. End this monopoly and get involved demanding a better and cleaner way..

Together, I do believe that we can bring the electric company to it’s knees in demanding to have a choice. It would produce more jobs, less stress on the current system, and bring a cleaner world into our view. Goodluck! Be the change you wish to see in the world. Send a letter demanding change.  Together, we can do it!  Yes, we can! 

Building Bridges Network

My name is Bernard Wesley.  I am the Chair of Building Bridges Network.  Building Bridges Network is a registered 501c3 organization. 

Building Bridges Network has three major programs namely, education, water and sanitation and rural electrification.

First, Building Bridges Network seeks to develop substandard schools in rural Africa.  In rural Africa, some schools are built with tree limbs an lack walls and a proper roof.  Building Bridges Network is on track to provide these schools with four (4) walls and a roof.  In addition, we will provide school furniture namely, blackboard, desks and chairs.

Second, Building Bridges Network seeks to provide clean water in area where this is a luxury.  This will be done by digging wells.  Building Bridges Network is always open to ideas and better technology that can get the job done.  Sanitation includes the building proper toilet facilities, educating locals about maintaining clean environment to prevent diseases.

Third, Building Bridges Network seeks to provide electricity with the use of solar panel, low-cost hydro and wind turbines to schools and health clinics.  At this time our focus is on solar panels.  The villages in rural Africa do not have electricity.  This makes it hard for the children who are in schools (with a building) difficult to study.  By providing electricity in the school, this will enable them to study after dark in a central location. 
Most clinics in rural Africa do not have electricity.  This creates problems like still births; drugs do not reach their shelf life as they lack the proper environment, unsterilized equipment and so on.  Some of these clinics can be powered by 600 watts system.  This is very small but creates a huge difference.

I am looking for donors in these areas who want to make a difference.  The only caveat is that significant donors will be asked to come to whatever part in Africa their donation was sent to or used.  Building Bridges Network operates on a stringent accountability and transparency platform.

Our website is at www.buildnbridges.org.

Thanks to you all for participating in this blog.

Bernard.

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