Lights Out for Halogens in Europe

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Image source: The Guardian

A new light display is illuminating Europe – one that is more energy efficient. As of today, no new retail orders will be possible for directional halogen bulbs in EU countries and therefore the last halogens left in stores will not be replaced with new stock.  Halogen bulbs can waste up to 10 times more energy that LEDs and the first targets of the halogen bulb ban, which will go into full effect in 2018, are GU10 spotlights and PAR30 floodlights.

Which? magazine last month advised its readers to switch to LEDs, which can cut lighting electricity bills by up to 90%, according to the cool products efficiency campaign.

“With bulb purchase costs included, British homes on the average tariff will pay £126 per socket over a 10-year period for halogen lights, compared to £16 for LEDs,” said Jack Hunter, a coolproducts spokesman.

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The Greenest Island in the World?

The smallest and most isolated of the Canary Islands, El Hierro, has a way of combining hydro and wind power that may allow it, one day, to get all its energy from renewable sources. PHOTO: BBC

The smallest and most isolated of the Canary Islands, El Hierro, has a way of combining hydro and wind power that may allow it, one day, to get all its energy from renewable sources. PHOTO: BBC

The question is not about who has the densest forests or flora resources showing up high estimates in green. It is one of keeping up a sustained model of efficient use of alternative and natural sources of energy. And on that front, El Hierro seems like it’s well on its way to self-sufficiency on the energy front.

For more than 30 years, El Hierro has been dreaming of becoming self-sufficient. And this year it took a big step forward. At the end of June its new hydro-wind facility, Gorona del Viento, came fully on stream and in July and August it provided roughly half of the island’s energy needs.That means the island’s 10,000 inhabitants are suddenly less reliant on supplies of diesel arriving over unpredictable seas from Tenerife, 200km away. In July, Gorona del Viento saved 300 tonnes of fossil fuels, but that is predicted to rise to 500 tonnes per month before long – the equivalent of saving 40,000 barrels of oil and 19,000 tonnes of emitted CO2 per year.

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A Statement in Energy Saving

A passive house, a project from Parsons the New School for Design in 2011, is so well insulated that it needs little or no energy for heating and cooling. PHOTO: MATT MCCLAIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST/ GETTY

A passive house, a project from Parsons the New School for Design in 2011, is so well insulated that it needs little or no energy for heating and cooling. PHOTO: MATT MCCLAIN FOR THE WASHINGTON POST/ GETTY

Energy efficiency is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to combat climate change, clean the air we breathe, improve the competitiveness of our businesses and reduce energy costs for consumers. And Habitat for Humanity may be onto something with its new range of “passive” homes that aggressively save energy.

The passive standard is buoyed by efforts to fight climate change, because buildings account for 40 percent of total U.S. energy use and 10 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. In September, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed it as one way to help the Big Apple meet its goal of slashing emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050

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A Clean Breath of Life

In addition to eliminating 94% of the smoke and 91% of the carbon dioxide emitted by open fires, the HomeStove can save households as much as $8 to $10 per week just on fuel, the company says. the HomeStove can save households as much as $8 to $10 per week just on fuel. PHOTO: Biolite

In addition to eliminating 94% of the smoke and 91% of the carbon dioxide emitted by open fires, the HomeStove can save households as much as $8 to $10 per week just on fuel. PHOTO: Biolite

According to the WHO, 4.3 million people die prematurely every year from illnesses attributable to household air emissions from cooking with solid fuels, which kill more people every year than malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined. Women and children, who spend the most time near open flames in developing countries, are most at risk. And the gravity of the dangers of indoor air pollution pushed  product developers Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar to maximize the use of the off-the-grid stove they were initially designing for campers.

“We’d seen that by blowing air in a particular place in a wood fire, you can really improve combustion and turn a rudimentary fuel into a super hot, controllable, clean combustion process,” Cedar tells Mashable. “We were fascinated by this idea that you could take waste product and turn it into a useful energy source.”

“The question was: How do you do that without batteries, which still tie you back to the grid?” he says.

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The Prize for Energy Storage

Jay Whitacre is the latest recipient of the prestigious $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors remarkable mid-career inventors who have also demonstrated a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). PHOTO: LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM

Jay Whitacre is the latest recipient of the prestigious $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors mid-career inventors who have also demonstrated a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). PHOTO: LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM

The Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI™) Batteries are based on a simple idea: in order to meet the challenges of the world’s growing energy needs and increase the use of renewable power, we need large-scale energy storage systems that are high performance, safe, sustainable and cost-effective. Jay Whitacre set out to solve this problem and discovered a simple and elegant solution that is a twist on a 200 year-old technology: saltwater batteries. Using abundant, nontoxic materials and modern low cost manufacturing techniques, the AHI batteries are now ready to take on the global energy storage challenge. And have also won Whitacre the prestigious $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.

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“Holy Crab,” Bulbman

For most of August Xandari has been operating at full capacity. Since this past weekend the hotel has had fewer guests as families prepare for the new school year in Europe and the United States. In a way, it’s a relief, not only for me and my unrestrained desire to sing when I’m alone, but also for the auditory senses of the guests. I no longer bump into hikers during my treks along the waterfall trails and I avoid the embarrassment of having to “justify” my discordant singing. All in all, at least for a few days, no one has to put up with my singing…except maybe for an unexpected creature I found at “river view 2.”

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Will Greece Look to the Sun God?

Greenpeace activists spread a banner pointing at a Greek oil-fired power plant under construction in Rhodes, to reveal one of the most unacknowledged causes of the Greek crisis; the country’’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Yes, the Greek people are going through difficult times. There are scenes of pensioners queuing at cash machines to withdraw part of their monthly pensions. And there is also a significant need for reform. Even the International Monetary Fund is going back on its word, prompting the country to look at what best it can do. The space of energy would be a good place to start with, given that the country has under-utilized its natural and most abundant asset.

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What’s in the Buffalo Air?

Wind turbines rise along the shores of Lake Erie on land that used to be home to Bethlehem Steel. PHOTO: Brendan Bannon for The New York Times

Wind turbines rise along the shores of Lake Erie on land that used to be home to Bethlehem Steel. PHOTO: Brendan Bannon for The New York Times

Along a bend in the Buffalo River here, an enormous steel and concrete structure is rising, soon to house one of the country’s largest solar panel factories. Just to the south, in the rotting guts of the old Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna, where a dozen wind turbines already harness the energy blowing off Lake Erie, workers are preparing to install a big new solar array. And in Lockport, to the north, Yahoo recently expanded a data and customer service center, attracted by the region’s cheap, clean power generated by Niagara Falls.

After decades of providing the punch line in jokes about snowstorms, also-ran sports teams and urban decline, the Queen City of the Lakes is suddenly experiencing something new: an economic turnaround, helped by the unlikely sector of renewable energy.

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Eco-friendly Home of the Future

Fitted out with a photo voltaic (solar panel) roof system and high-tech wall panels, the Solcer house collects and stores thermal and electrical energy

Fitted out with a photo voltaic (solar panel) roof system and high-tech wall panels, the Solcer house collects and stores thermal and electrical energy

Introducing the house of the future – which generates more energy than it consumes. The walls of The Solcer house, which was designed and constructed by the Welsh School of Architecture, collect and store thermal and electrical energy. Located at Stormy Down, near Bridgend, the building also has a photo voltaic (solar panel) roof system and has been funded through the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) programme funded by Wales European Funding Office (WEFO).

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When Ideas Take Flight

A team of Indian students won the fourth edition of the Airbus Fly Your Ideas global competition organised in partnership with UNESCO to encourage innovators . PHOTO: Airbus

A team of Indian students won the fourth edition of the Airbus Fly Your Ideas global competition organised in partnership with UNESCO to encourage innovators . PHOTO: Airbus

A few weeks ago, Hamburg hosted the fourth edition of the Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition. The city is where the most popular single isle A320 family aircraft are finalised, where A380 cabin interiors are fitted and where the revolutionary A350XWB sections are manufactured. Organised in partnership with UNESCO to encourage the next generation of innovators, the competition saw 518 multi-disciplinary ideas, representing 3,700 students from over 100 countries – all to better the future of flight. And a team of four Indian students and their “good vibes” took home the top prize money of €30,000 (£21,500). And here’s the best bit: the winners physically met only on the day of the finals.

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Where Does This Light Come From?

Energy from solar, biomass and hydrogen is coming together for the first time in India to light up a tribal hamlet. PHOTO: The Telegraph

Energy from solar, biomass and hydrogen is coming together for the first time in India to light up a tribal hamlet. PHOTO: The Telegraph

When India’s Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, he made headlines. He continued to be in the news when he decided to use the prize money to set up a university town in India. Today, Santiniketan and its Visva-Bharati University can stake claim to their unique set of trailblazers of alumni; Nobel winning economist Amartya Sen and ace Indian auteur Satyajit Ray are among them. While the light of education draws thousands to the gates of the university town, its hinterland remains in darkness. But in education that leads to innovation we trust and there seems to be a glimmer of a sustainable solution on the horizon.

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Documentaries : Black Out by Eva Weber, children searching for the light

Short electricity cuts punctuate the day here in Kerala. As if to remind us, for a few seconds in our daily life, that the electricity fairy can play hard to get. Generators always kick in in an instant though, and that is it. Elsewhere, in Guinea for instance, generators are not there to save the day. 

Only about a fifth of Guinea’s people have access to electricity. With few families able to afford generators, school children have had to get creative to find a place to read, do their homework and study for exams. So every day during exam season, as the sun sets over Conakry, hundreds of children begin a nightly pilgrimage to the  G’bessia International Airport, to petrol stations and parks in wealthier areas of the city, searching for light.

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Carbon Emissions Series: Scope 3 for Hospitality

If someone asks you to measure your property’s scope 3 emissions, you should tell them that it’s basically impossible. Because it is. That’s the gist of this post. But before we despair over the endless range of scope 3 emissions for a hotel property, let’s toss in the GHG Protocol’s definition:

Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity, electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.

How far does your supply chain reach? The vast scope, depth, and complexity of hotels' supply chains and customer interactions make scope 3 measurement a daunting task.

Carbon Emissions Series: Scope 2 for Hospitality

In our continuing discussion about the types of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we have now come to scope 2 and how it relates to the hospitality industry. Much of the research at the Cornell Hotel School focuses on lowering electricity usage, which directly correlates with scope 2 emissions. Let’s start off with a definition.

Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.

One of the biggest sources of scope 2 emissions is the coal-fired power plant, which emits CO2, NOx, SOx, and a number of heavy metals. Although it is extremely inefficient, coal remains a major source of electricity in the United States.

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Carbon Emissions Series: Why Hospitality?

In the past two months, I’ve hammered through interview after interview for internships this summer, and sustainable hospitality is a subject that seems to always surface. Along with the standard boiler-plate questions, I noticed that one topic in particular would often be asked about my interest in hospitality: why target sustainability in this industry? Why not sustainability elsewhere? And is the Cornell Hotel School the best place to explore it? I must admit that I didn’t answer the question too well the first few times, but I’ve taken a step back to truly think about my answer.

The hospitality industry's reach is near endless. It is indirectly involved with the GHG emissions of six of the eight major contributors above: transportation, agriculture, commercial services, land use, waste, and power.

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Schneider Electric: Saving Energy across Multiple Cultures

Last week in my Facilities Management course at the Cornell Hotel School, Al Nels, Global Account Manager for Marriott from Schneider Electric, presented in class as a guest speaker. His presentation explored the energy-saving capabilities of various systems developed by Schneider Electric, as well as simple tips that hotels often overlook. Among the many insights Nels shared, one in particular stood out to me: the cultural divide between American and European hotel guests—and the steps that Schneider is taking in order to save energy in both areas of the world.

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Digging Your Own Well

We often talk about ‘imagination’ as if it’s a fixture of the human mind. Human beings, as common sense would have it, are inherently able to imagine what is different; we bring what is distant near only by thinking it so. In the middle of a blistering New England winter, for instance, we might picture ourselves on a sandy beach in Florida; in the mess of rapid and haphazard “development,” we might imagine pristine, virgin land.

But imagination—like all of our most transcendent capacities—exists not invariably, of course, but in degrees, in flux, in varying quantities and qualities, and sometimes—that is, in some minds—hardly at all. I was reminded of this last week following the death of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Il, which caused me to reflect upon (and imagine) the lives and minds that comprise a nation with only one permitted text upon which to project its fantasies—the doctrine of North Korean socialism.

And yet this extreme example serves only as a limiting case, one which indicates a more universal difficulty. We’re all always limited in our imaginings. We block their course, sometimes deliberately, but also sometimes mechanically, and often blindly. This is what makes routine possible, and what makes even our most arbitrary and destructive habits seem perfectly natural. We cling to what is readily available, forgetting the partial nature of our given sphere. While imagination brings what’s distant near, habit forgets the possibility of distance (and difference) at all.

Cultivating one’s imagination is a privilege, one which we ought to covet and guard with jealousy. I was granted this privilege this past summer, when I was able to stay in Kumily, Kerala for two months—Kumily, a place so unlike any of the other places I call home in custom and in ambience, in ethic and in landscape. I wrote previously about how the hills and depths of the Periyar moved me, and about how Raxa Collective’s work with the Forest Department and the Development Committees humbled and inspired me. But in that post I neglected to mention one of the more memorable moments of my stay at Cardamom County, one which broadened the horizons of my imagination even more than the occasional monkey-encounter or motorcycle ride through Tamil Nadu. Continue reading

Sustainable Operations in Kumily

Sustainable tourism and operations are what initially drew me in to coming to Kerala, India at the Cardamom County. Water conservation is a central issue facing the world today. Coming from Canada, which is said to store up to 20% of the world’s fresh water, the idea of not having water to drink is a strange one. Of all the water on our planet, 97.5 per cent is sea water and three-quarters of the remaining 2.5 per cent is locked in polar ice caps. The tiny bit left over is drinkable. Natural rainwater harvesting is a common practice throughout much of the Thekkady area and Kerala in general. Pots and larger storage vessels like the one pictured below are often used by the locals to hold rainwater that is abundant during the monsoon season from June to August.

It is considered fairly clean for use in washing clothing, dishes, and people themselves. The bottled water, however, in the form of individually packaged Aquafina bottles poses an issue. Fortunately Pepsico and Aquafina do use UV treatment, reverse osmosis, ozonisation, carbon filtration, and sand filtration to treat their water and has a protocol of giving back more water than is taken in a program called “Positive Water Balance”. Pepsico India saved 836 units more water than it consumed in 2009, which is an uplifting thing to hear about.

On-site organic farming results in a great number of useful plants and herbs which can be made into oils, creams, and pastes which are central to the Ayurvedic Centre run by certified ayurveda practitioner Dr. Vinu. Among the more interesting herbal remedies is from the serpentine root or rauvoifia tetraphylla which provides an antidote for snakebites.

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