Cambridge, MA has been debating a net zero energy and/or emissions standard ( http://www.netzerocambridge.org ) for new buildings over 25,000 square feet since the Spring of 2013, partially because of an ecodistrict plan with MIT and others on a large parcel in East Cambridge (a plan MIT refused to make net zero even though they are rumored to be building a net zero project with some of the same partners in Basel, Switzerland).
The City Manager (Cambridge has a city manager form of municipal government, along with proportionate representation so city politics get weird fast) has established a "Getting to Net Zero" Task Force to study the issue. Cambridge Community Development Department produced a fine overview of the state of the art in larger buildings for zero net emissions at (pdf alert) http://www.cambridgema.gov/~/m...
As the national Ecodistrict Summit was in town recently, the Community Development Department and Sustainable Performance Institute ( http://www.sustainable-perform... ) hosted experts from Integral Group ( http://www.integralgroup.com/ ), a deep green engineering firm to present lessons from the more than 40 net zero buildings they've worked on.
How Many Solar Devices Can You Make from a Plastic Bottle?
A clear PET plastic bottle can help disinfect water.
6 hours of sunlight's UV-radiation kills diarrhoea-causing pathogens in water making it safer to drink.
A clear bottle full of water and a little bleach can become a solar skylight, providing the equivalent of a 50w incandescent light to a windowless shack.
Cut the bottom off a clear plastic bottle to make a mini-greenhouse, a hot cap, to protect seedlings from frost.
Surround that bottle hot cap with a circle of other bottles full of water for solar heat storage to extend the growing season.
Here's a bottle inside a bottle inside a bottle to heat water in the innermost bottle
and a variation of this design using a clear bottle, a dark can full of water, and a set of reflectors.
They illustrate the essentials of solar thermal energy:
dark gets hot
clear keeps the wind out
With that knowledge you can move, concentrate, and store energy.
This clear plastic water heater is much larger and more practical for household use. It is made almost entirely from recycled packaging waste.
You can make a window out of plastic bottles, too,
and a south-facing window is already a solar collector.
On June 25, the world's largest solar ship, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar (http://www.planetsolar.org), was docked in Boston and hosted a symposium on water and climate change, "From the Alps to the Atlantic." This 35 meter by 23 meter catamaran is currently on the DeepWater expedition, harvesting data from the Gulf Stream after a maiden voyage around the world on the equator. From Boston she is bound for St John's, Newfoundland, Reykjavik, Iceland and finally Bergen, Norway. After the transatlantic DeepWater expedition, the PlanetSolar will work with the Waste Free Oceans Foundation (http://www.wastefreeoceans.eu) to clean up European waters. The research team from University of Geneva is headed by Professor Martin Beniston and consists of climatologists, physicists, and biologists.
The PlanetSolar has 512m2 of PV cells and the largest civilian mobile battery in the world providing 20 kW of electricity, 17kW for two 60kW electric motors, with 3 kW for life on board, for an average speed of 5 knots and a maximum speed of 14 knots. The PlanetSolar is a traveling experiment laboratory and sampling station working on water issues around the world with room for a crew of nine.
The symposium included talks on the global water cycle including river systems (http://www.globalrivers.org), glaciers and mountain water resources (http://www.acqwa.ch), ocean ecology, acidification, phytoplankton and zooplankton biology, and other issues.
(We are so far from zero emissions that nothing short of a revolutionary paradigm shift will bring it about. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
The Restructuring Roundtable is a mostly monthly (it takes the summer months off) meeting of the energy sector in Boston that takes a morning to discuss energy issues in depth with the major players from all around NE. There is also much time allotted for networking. The slides from the presentations are available online within a day or two and the video of the presentations comes a little later. It is a great resource for anyone interested in these issues and the public is most definitely invited.
The Roundtable, for me, follows in the tradition of the NE-wide energy policy meetings the great Duane Day used to host at the Department of Energy starting back in the days before Reagan killed us.
The 6/14/13 Restructuring Roundtable was "ISO-NE's Generation Retirement Study & 2020 Resource Options for New England." You can see the agenda and look at the slides here:
http://www.raabassociates.org/... The video should be available in a few weeks. ISO-NE manages the electricity market in New England and is thus the entity that is responsible for maintaining the flow of electrons from one utility to another when necessary.
A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City.
The combination of the jobs and economic focus of Occupy with the climate change and energy transition ideas of 350.org along with the disaster recovery systems of Recovers.org is a model that can build resilience and preparedness quickly if continued. Add Solar IS Civil Defense, set the Maker Culture loose, and it just might shade over into Solar Swadeshi, Gandhian economics, a non-violent and restorative open source peer-to-peer economic system where we plan for 100% success for all humanity, to paraphrase R Buckminster Fuller.
You can now estimate with great detail the solar electric potential of any roof in Cambridge, MA by just typing in an address on a webpage, the Cambridge Solar Tool
(http://cambridgema.gov/solar). For instance, the double triple decker in which I live has six apartments and a total roof area of 2,781 square feet. 1,136 of those sq ft have high PV (photovoltaic) potential. This could support an 18kW solar electric system providing 22,945 kWh per year, enough to power about a third of the electricity used by those six apartments, if each apartment uses the rough US average of around 11,000 kWh per year (my own annual electric use is around 1,600 kWh/yr).
The estimated savings per year for such a PV system are $9,081. The total cost is $101,720. With the Federal tax credit of $30,516 and a MA state tax credit of $1,000, the final cost to the owner would be $70,204. In addition, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) of 27¢/kWh could produce $6,212 per year (at least that's my reading of the MA SREC program, but I could be wrong). Such an investment would pay for itself in about 8 years with a return on investment (ROI) of 12.93%, a better return than gold (10.19%) or the stock market (Dow Jones average: 5.50%). The solar electricity would replace other fuels that now spew 12 tons per year of carbon into the atmosphere.
If the owner did not want to put any money down, they could opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), buying electricity from a third party which owns, installs, maintains, insures, and monitors a PV system on the roof of our double triple decker at a long term, generally 20 years, fixed and lower cost than what is paid now for power.
(and knowing is half the battle. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Solar IS Civil Defense - what we are all supposed to have on hand in case of emergency - flashlight, cell phone, radio, extra set of batteries - can be powered by a few square inches of solar electric panel. Add a hand crank or bicycle generator and you have a reliable source of survival level electricity, day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.
This is also entry level electrical power for the 1.5 billion people around the world who do not yet have access to electricity. Civil defense at home and economic development abroad can be combined in a "buy one, give one" program like the Bogolight (http://www.bogolight.com) which is a solar LED light and AA battery charger.
(I think the idea is right that these can be testbeds for new (or better) ways of living together, among other critical experiments. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
This idea may be moot after all the forced evictions of the Occupations from public spaces but I thought I'd share it anyway.
I've visited the Occupations in Wall Street, Boston, and Providence, RI. Every time I go to one of them, I try to connect with somebody about making the Occupation green with, as yet, little success. In New York, I saw the greywater treatment system Mobile Research Labs set up and talked to a couple of people about using some simple solar techniques. In Boston, I've tried to connect the winterization team with the student Energy Clubs at some of the local colleges and universities and alerted my own network of solar enthusiasts to Occupy Boston's efforts. I've also tried to do the same by contacting OWS's Sustainability Group. In Providence, I talked with the only occupier I saw up and around early on a Sunday morning. He was picking up trash around the park and was disappointed that the group hadn't organized themselves enough to do recycling. I gave him my card and my elevator pitch for a green occupation and he said he'd pass it on.
I look at the Occupations and see economic refugee camps and a possible test-bed for emergency response and sustainable economic development around the world. Some may say that's crazy but the links are there if you look.
Solar water disinfection
http://www.sodis.ch/index_EN A two liter plastic bottle can be made into a water treatment system simply by filling it with contaminated water and exposing it to the sun. Sodis is an organization that promotes this technology around the world.
The disinfection process can be speeded by turning aluminized mylar snack food bags inside out and making them into reflectors as two young students in Belo Horizonte, Brazil discovered: http://calais.phase2technology...
In 2002, during a long electrical shortage, at Uberaba, São Paulo, Brasil, Mr Alfredo Moser discovered a way to gather sun light in the house through plastic bottles hanging from the roof. First shown at the Globo Reporter in the 25th May 2007.
Alfredo Moser was pressed by a scarce electricity substitution and found out that he could light his house with a bottle of water filled with water and a protection cap made of camera film.
The bottle is just refracting sunlight very effectively and produces an equivalent light power compared to a 50/60W lamp. In a rainy day, even without much light and direct sun, one still have some light. Scientist have now visited Moser and are looking into ways to take this concept to maximize its potential.
"Any window that sees direct sunlight is a solar collector. You can learn how to use that free energy to make your home more comfortable and secure. Caulk and seal the window against drafts. Install storm windows on the exterior, interior, or both. Cover the window at night with an insulating curtain to prevent conduction, convection, and radiative heat loss. A valence above the window will stop night-time drafts and reduce condensation. A sunny window can double as a greenhouse for starting seedlings or growing house plants. Expand the solar space below, above, or beside the window with a windowbox solar air or water heater. You can even design a living system to provide fresh vegetables and fish year round while producing space heat, cleaning the air, and reducing waste. A south-facing window is already a solar collector. Learn how to use it."
(Germany on its way to a better, brighter future. What about U S ? - promoted by eli_beckerman)
A couple of years ago, Dr William Moomaw of Tufts mentioned a regional scale experiment with an all-renewable grid in Germany. I've been curious about that project since then. Today, I did a little googling and found a seven-minute youtube called "Fully renewable: biogas + wind + solar"
Dr Jurgen Schmid at the University of Kassel, Department of Efficient Energy Conversion is the spokesperson from this December 2007 video. The system described is wind with pumped hydro storage and grid scale solar with methane from biomass (corn biofuels). When the sun isn't out in the South, the wind may be blowing in the North. When there's too much wind, it can be used to pump water into reservoirs that will provide hydroelectricity days or weeks later. When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, biomass can be burned or converted to methane. They say Germany can have a 100% renewable grid by 2050. Dr Schmid, along with John Sievers, Stefan Faulstich, Mathias Puchta, Ingo Stadler, is the co-author of "Long-term perspectives for balancing fluctuating renewable energy sources" (pdf alert: http://desire.iwes.fraunhofer.... details the steps necessary to get to a fully renewable grid.
A lot of modern junk - plastic bottles, cups, refills, rubber slippers, pens etc can be reused in many creative ways to make joyous learning aids. Children could make more than a dozen delightful pumps using all kinds of odd stuff. For instance, push two film cans on the ends of a 15 cm piece of old bicycle tube to make an air pump. The opening/closing valves are made using bits of sticky tape. This high quality pump can easily inflate a balloon! Or else make a scintillating sprinkler within a minute. Poke a broom stick in the middle of a plastic straw. Make two half cuts 2 cm away from the centre. Bend the arms and secure them in place with some tape to make a triangle. Twirl this triangle in water to make a most delightful centrifuge or sprinkler.
Arvind Gupta has been building science teaching toys from trash materials since 1978 and for the Children's Science Centre at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune University, Pune 411007 Maharashtra India since October 2003.
Every year I start my garden early by using solar cloches made from 2 liter plastic bottles. These three cloches were planted with seed in the last week of March and first week of April, respectively, with tomato and basil, cucumber and dill, and zucchini in planting Zone 6A, eastern Massachusetts.
The ring of bottles are filled with water to store solar heat during the day and the central bottle has its bottom cut out and pressed into the soil to protect the growing seeds.
You know it is time to make the switch to solar when you're using solar steam generators to extract oil! From Oil and Gas Journal:
The world's first commercial thermal enhanced oil recovery project that uses solar steam generators went on line Feb. 24 at Berry Petroleum Co.'s heavy oil 21Z lease in McKittrick, Calif.
...GlassPoint built the solar unit in less than 6 weeks and estimates that its facililty on the 21Z lease will supply during the day about an average 1 million btu/hr of solar heat and replace 25-80% of the steam generated by gas-fired boilers on the lease.
The challenge: solar is used for heat and electricity; oil is used for transportation.
My friend, Tom Blue Newell, Uncle Scam, Deacon Blue, Nostrildamus, a Harvard Square busker and street performer ( http://www.unclescam.org ), stopped by this morning. He's thinking about a new show, especially since he expects to be recuperating from an operation this season. He wants a "Rascal," a motorized wheelchair with solar power that might also serve as a puppet in his show. He already uses an amp for his performances and has a battery system mounted on his cargo trike. He even has a little bit of solar. He envisions a solar awning to charge the batteries that can run the wheelchair and power his audio and other equipment, too. He also needs a place to keep it in Harvard Square. He'd like something in the works within two weeks and a usable machine within two months.
On 12/7/10 Zhengrong Shi, the founder and CEO of Suntech, one of the largest PV manufacturers in the world spoke at MIT, which has about 45 faculty now involved in solar research. The event was a joint presentation of the MIT China Energy and Environment Research Group, MIT Energy Initiative, and MIT Energy Club.
(Hopefully George will follow up this post with an update! - promoted by eli_beckerman)
I went walking down by Magazine Beach today
and picked up
a clear plastic cup with clear cover
a black plastic cup cover
a white plastic cup cover
a smaller plastic cup, crushed
a broken white styrofoam "clamshell" container
a brown plastic tray for cookies or something like that
a white plastic spoon, dirty
and an orange straw
(love the simple transformative (well, transforming the growing season, anyway) action! - promoted by eli_beckerman)
I've been using my recycled solar cloches for years to start my garden early. This year, here in Planting Zone 6A, I started planting a few days ago with tomatoes and basil in one solar cloche, zucchini in another, roquette and broccoli in a simple single cloche, and spinach in the space between them. It was a great early Spring day as I planted the seeds and I was happy to spend an hour in the garden. I'll be happier when I see the seeds become seedlings and happier still, a couple of months down the road, when I get to taste my fresh vegetables.
Next week, I plan to plant more spinach and sugarsnap peas.
(gmoke has a long list of first-rate diaries at DailyKos. We're pleased to see he's carried his non-partisan crusade to our humble abode, and look forward to more. - promoted by michael horan)
I've been publishing different versions of "Mr Franklin's Folks" for nearly a decade. It's about groups of people going to some of the over 4,600 farmers' markets that happen every week across the USA from Memorial Day to Halloween or Thanksgiving to demonstrate the fact that Solar IS Civil Defense, among other things. "Mr Franklin's Folks" is the first posting at my solar archive, Solarray, and I took a table to advertise the concept at the first YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas.
"Mr Franklin's Folks" is a demonstration of practical energy actions that remain practical whatever your politics. I don't know but it might be time for the Franklin Folk to invite the Tea Party people to a weatherization barnraising.
Green Mass Group is an online forum for Green thought and collective action in Massachusetts. It is a community forum for justice, sustainability, democracy and health in the Commonwealth and beyond.
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism."
--Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 29, 1938. Message to congress.