There’s no denying that transportation fuel systems could become more sustainable, but how?
In June 2013, BSR held a four-part series discussion to help companies understanding the greatest sustainability impacts of transportation fuel systems, and what can be done to make them more efficient.
The discussion included 185 representatives from fleet operators, vehicle manufacturers, and energy producers and providers. You can read the full discussion here.
The main points were:
- Efficiency should be the first “fuel” of choice as it works as it also conserves physical supplies and avoids environmental impacts.
- Significant technological development is needed across all fuel types.
- We must set an effective price on carbon and prioritize other policies to encourage more sustainable fuel use.
- Increasing collaboration throughout the supply change can help connect the actions and investments of fuel production upstream.
Read more about the discussion at Greenbiz.com.
Energy efficiency is a great opportunity for businesses to save on costs, and energy management can help find those opportunities.
Energy Manager Today lined out some tips and steps to take when managing and maximizing energy cost savings.
- Understand your building’s functional, energy, and cost baselines.
- Rate your buildings.
- Perform focused energy audits.
- Develop and prioritize Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs).
- Identify incentive programs and funding sources.
- Project implementation and management.
- Perform measurement and verification.
- Keep track and continue to measure performance of equipment and systems.
Read more on how to implement these tips at Energy Manager Today.
A year ago, researchers at UCLA had begun developing a promising transparent solar cell that generates solar power through windows. One year later, and the researchers have nearly doubled the efficiency of the original solar cells.
The results of the study were published in the Energy & Environmental Science Journal, and reports that “taking two layers of transparent solar cell ‘tuned’ to slightly different frequencies of near-infrared light” allows for the cells to capture solar energy.
By laminating two layers of the PV material, the teams were able to boost the solar cells’ efficiency to 7.3 percent, a rise from the only 4 percent last year.
“The breakthrough offers the possibility of photovoltaic smartphone and tablet screens, though at 7.3 percent efficiency, you’d probably have to leave your phone in the sun for a few days to charge it fully.”
Although there is still work to be done, solar windows did just have a major breakthrough.
There’s plenty of buzz about energy these days. But what are some of the innovations that stand out?
Government studies predict that the U.S. energy intensity will continue to decline about 2 percent every year through 2040. While efficiency in a broad term is accelerating, the steep drop in energy usage will be in automobiles.
“At the same time, efficient use of electricity – which is used three-fourths in buildings, one-fourth in industry – is finally starting to pull out its decades-long doldrums.”
Renewables are booming worldwide with solar systems and wind turbines being installed all around the world. Wind power added 45 GW of global capacity last year, and solar PVS added about 32 GW.
“These and other no-hydro renewables are continuing to win a quarter-trillion dollars’ private investment per year globally. It’s the core of the global market and increasingly central to the United States’ energy landscape.”
The means of producing electricity have shifted from slow, gigantic projects to scalable, mass-produced manufactured products. This shift from centralized to distributed generators could be the future of energy and how it powers our homes and businesses.
“Distributed renewables save money, avoid price volatility and fuel insecurities, and prevent carbon emissions. But their unique strategic and marketing advantage is that if properly deployed in a largely distributed system, they can enable a resilient grid architecture that makes big cascading blackouts improbable by design.”
Source: Rocky Mountain Institute Solutions Journal
Businesses aren’t the only ones taking advantage of energy efficiency. In fact, more schools are retrofitting to increase efficiency and save on costs.
Energy efficient schools create many benefits that go beyond energy and financial savings. In fact, benefits can include improved air quality, increased interest in how the school conserves energy and water, and accelerated social change.
The nation’s first “net-zero” school, Richardsville Elementary in Kentucky is a great example of energy efficiency with its net annual consumption and carbon footprint amount of zero. The school used natural and efficient lighting, installed geothermal heating and cooling, and had solar panels on the school rooftop.
Most schools can get on the road to energy efficiency with a variety of solutions including a lighting retrofit, window replacements, and updated HVAC systems.
“By conserving energy in our schools and bringing students into the process, we improve the health of future generations, cut schools’ utility bills, reduce stress on the electric grid and, who knows, inspire a new generation of environmentally aware scientists.”
Source: Environmental Defense Fund
By Gaylen Davenport
Building energy efficiency is improving, and building owners and managers are seeing a difference in the retrofit process. However, the results can be inaccurate and inconsistent, especially when compared across an entire portfolio.
So what can be improved? The tools.
A new effort by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is looking to create tablet-based software that can build energy models as auditors go through a building. The concept of “remote” energy audits has taken hold as a new way to provide energy consumption information without the cost of a walk-through audit.
The reports could include geographical information, utility data, and basic building characteristics to evaluate the energy efficiency of a building and make recommendations without ever setting foot inside.
The problem with a tool like this is that remote energy modeling collects just a few pieces of information, that wouldn’t come close to a comprehensive audit.
But there is a middle ground: using mobile devices and powerful software to create complex energy models during the auditing process.
Read more about what NREL is developing.
By Gaylen Davenport
Researchers found that the New York Times building is seeing some impressive gains in efficiency since new benchmarking laws have been in place.
Last year, New York City required its commercial buildings to disclose their energy consumption. The benchmarking plan saw many surprises including finding newer LEED buildings ranked behind much older buildings when it came to energy efficiency.
Take for instance the New York Times building, which is seeing more impressive gains in efficiency. Constructed in 2007, the building includes a dimmable lighting system, an automated roller shade system for windows, and an underfloor air distribution system. Plus it gets about 40 percent of its energy from natural gas.
After comparing the NY Times building with a standard building efficiency code, researchers found that the NY Times Building “reduced annual electricity by 24 percent, cut heating energy use by more than 50 percent, and reduced peak electric demand by 25 percent.”
The findings showed that standard efficiency measures can have a substantial impact on the energy performance of a building. “As New York City’s recent energy benchmarking report showed, even much older buildings with proper retrofits can outperform new buildings with a prominent environmental rating.
Read more about the study at Green Tech Media.
By Gaylen Davenport
LED isn’t just lighting up homes and businesses, it’s lighting up landmarks as well. The San Francisco Bridge was retrofitted with LED lights to improve energy efficiency and for a special light display. The lights won’t need to be replaced during the two-year planned run of the light display.
The sale of green products increased significantly last year, and most analysts say growth is still to come. In fact, Philips North America says their green products sales increased to 45 percent of total sales in 2012, and have a goal to grow that number to 50 percent by 2015.
Here’s a video of the bridge with its new LED lights.
By Gaylen Davenport
By Gaylen Davenport
Based in Overland Park, Sprint has become the first telecommunications company to join the Better Buildings Program, a federal program to help commercial and industrial buildings become at least 20 percent more efficient over the next decade.
The Better Buildings Challenge began in 2011 after the U.S. Department of Energy found that the U.S. spends about $200 billion to power commercial buildings – and another $200 billion to power industrial facilities.
Sprint has secured five percent of its total energy use from renewable energy – including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydrogen fuel cells. The company is seeking to reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent by 2017.
“As the first telecommunications company to join the program, Sprint looks forward to learning from the other program participants and contributing its own best practices,” Ralph Reid, vice president of corporate responsibility for Sprint, said in a statement.
Source: Kansas City Business Journal