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Nelson: Protest Saudi crude before picking on Alberta oil. For Calgary men who moan about women drivers, there’s good news — we’re doing our bit for those fair-minded lads running Saudi Arabia. Yes, over there in that glorious bastion of free speech and human rights, where stroppy lasses who get behind the wheel face a nice bit of righteous stoning, they’re doing a jig in the sand about their latest oil export numbers. Yep, Johnny and Jane Canuck are giving the House of Saud the old double thumbs up by importing more of their oil than ever before.

Not just that, but we’re also giving the finger to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who recently told the Queen that Nigeria was one of the most wondrously corrupt nations on the planet. Yep, we upped our imported barrels from that joyous regime as well in 2015. Of course, their innocent oil just sails across the Atlantic in big old tanker ships before docking at our eastern shores. I’m not making this up. Long may that continue. Dial down the rhetoric and look at the issue. The Energy Interstate Could Connect U.S. States With Clean, Sustainable Power Sources. One cold evening in February 2008, the gusty wind in West Texas dropped to a breeze. At the time, Texas generated more electricity from wind than almost any other state did. But that evening, the wind speed fell much lower than forecasts had predicted, just as the chill had residents cranking up their heat.

The people responsible for most of the state’s electrical system recognized that they risked a dangerous—or at least embarrassing—outage. Declaring an emergency, they switched off the power to several big industrial customers. After 90 minutes, backup generators kicked in, and the power was restored. A spokeswoman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas subsequently explained, “The wind died out. That happens.” Well, sure, some critics agreed—but that was just the problem with relying on it. Eight years on, the problem is getting bigger for the United States. That makes the question of reliability more urgent than ever. And so the search for a miracle continues. San Francisco PUC Built State-of-the-Art Sustainable Headquarters | The Planning Report. You are the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Your new headquarters, which opened in June of 2012, set a new standard for high-performance structures. Describe the building and how it came to be. Harlan Kelly: We are proud to be the owner of one of the greenest buildings in the nation. It is a LEED Platinum headquarters and embodies our core agency mission and values. We moved out of a place that we were leasing. Fortunately, we built it at a time when the construction cost was low. Elaborate on the energy, water, and HVAC technology that you’ve incorporated into this headquarters.

Harlan Kelly: It’s a Class A building with 13 stories, about 277,000 square feet, and about 900 employees. We have integrated solar arrays to generate about 227,000 kilowatts a year, which represents about 7 percent of the energy needs of the building. Harlan Kelly: I’ve been with the city for 32 years. The next project I worked on was Moscone West, our convention facility. How solar is turning American energy on its head. Colchester and Rutland, Vt. — At first glance, Baxter Street seems an unlikely place for an energy revolution. The street runs through an older, working-class neighborhood in Rutland, Vt., lined with one and two-story frame houses with postage-stamp front lawns and unpaved driveways. At No. 60, the clues border on subtle: a low-profile heat pump nestled against the side of the 110-year-old house and solar panels hugging the roof of a detached garage set well back from the street.

But it is here that Vermont's largest utility, Green Mountain Power, is collaborating with the Borkowski family to turn the power industry on its head. The property’s three-week energy makeover in March 2014 lowered energy bills for the Borkowskis from the start. This year, the electric bills for Sara and Mark Borkowski, their two young daughters, and a pair of indoor rabbits have run negative since April as they sell excess power back to the grid.

Green Mountain Power is fine with that. An ill wind blows for Denmark's green energy revolution. The Wind Eyes: Designing for Natural Ventilation in Multi-Family Buildings. Every year, more than one third of U.S. energy consumption goes to light, heat, and cool buildings. Energy costs are a burden to the individual as well as the nation. Mechanical cooling and ventilation relies on electricity; it takes three times the amount of a primary fuel like coal or natural gas to produce electricity. Across cultures and through human history, people shaped their houses and placed their windows to shield themselves from unwanted sun and heavy winds while capturing cooling breezes. As architects, planners, and developers respond to public interest in sustainable buildings, natural ventilation is once again emerging as a critical component in multi-family buildings.

As we discuss in our book, This House is Just Right: A Design Guide to Choosing a Home and Neighborhood, a comfortable home is designed to maintain natural lighting, good ventilation, and optimum temperature and humidity levels. An example of a double loaded corridor. An example of covered recesses. Even Dense Cities With Transit Have High Vehicular Carbon Emissions Due to Commuters, According to a New Report. With cities in the midst of a revival, there's reason to believe they can help Americans be more frequent users of sustainable transportation. Dense urban centers with robust public transit—à la New York City—make cars seem almost unnecessary.

Commuting to work with a greener alternative—the subway for instance, or the greenest alternative, walking—is often more convenient for those who live and work in a tight downtown. But new evidence shows that CO2 emissions from cars in urban hubs are still on the rise, and curbing them is more complicated than simply planning dense, livable downtowns. A trio of researchers from Boston University has developed a database that is useful for analyzing this very issue.

The data set, called DARTE, shows that 80 percent of CO2 emissions growth came from on-road vehicles in urban metros between 1980 and 2012. This information may not come as a complete surprise, as the number of Americans living in cities is on the upswing. Every City Needs Vancouver's Ban on Food Scraps.

Food rotting away in landfills is the second largest source of methane emissions produced by people.* In the U.S., landfills may account for more than 20 percent of anthropogenic methane, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That makes landfills a significant source of activity related to climate change, since the the greenhouse potential of methane is 21 times that of mere carbon dioxide or higher. Wasted food is also a waste of space.

Some 30 million tons of food waste wind up in U.S. landfills every year. Food scraps account for 18 percent of the waste stream, the second largest category of municipal waste in the nation, just after paper. The most popular national food craze is most definitely the farm-to-table-to-landfill movement. And, as this anthropomorphic pile of Canadian spaghetti leftovers will gladly tell you, it doesn't have to be this way. To kick off 2015, Vancouver has resolved to eliminate food scraps from its waste stream entirely. Which is to be expected. The Economist explains: What has gone wrong with Germany's energy policy. ON DECEMBER 3rd the German government announced plans to redouble its Energiewende, or “energy transition”, and accelerate progress so that the country can meet its goal of a 40% cut in greenhouse gases (from 1990 levels) by 2020. The same week, E.ON, a big German utility, announced its decision to split into two companies.

One will focus on traditional nuclear and fossil-fuel electricity generation, and the other on renewable energy, electricity distribution and “energy services” for cost- and climate-conscious customers. Both decisions have been seen as evidence that the Energiewende has failed. But what has gone wrong? The Energiewende has two main policy tools: generous support for renewable sources of energy, and an exit from nuclear power by 2022. The government supports renewables by promising those who install solar panels or finance windmills a fixed, above-market price for each kilowatt-hour of energy they feed into the grid. Solar plants causing birds to catch on fire in mid-flight.

IVANPAH DRY LAKE, Calif. — Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair. Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version. The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed.

Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group. The deaths are “alarming. It’s hard to say whether that’s the location or the technology,” said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. “There needs to be some caution.” U.S. U.S. Free exchange: Sun, wind and drain. Company West Virginia Chemical Spill Fined $11,000. AP Photo/Steve Helber A storage tank with the chemical designation MCHM, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, the chemical that leaked into the Elk River, is shown at Freedom Industries storage facility in Charleston, Va.

The verdict has been reached for Freedom Industries, the company behind the disastrous West Virginia chemical spill that left over 300,000 people without drinking water for ten days this January. The company will be fined $11,000 by the federal government for "improper storage and infrastructure violations", according to this AP report. Newsweek reported this amounts to $27 to each person affected. The chemical, known as 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude-MCHM for short, was released from an out-of-date tank into Elk River, exactly one mile from a treatment plant that distributes water to ten counties, including the capital city, Charleston. At the time of the spill, questions were rampant about the seemingly un-studied toxin.

The Toxic Landscape of Johannesburg’s Gold Mines | Raw File. 'Pressurised Water, Viscount Road, near Main Reef Road, Randfontein, Krugersdorp, Johannesburg, 2013.' High-powered water canons are started in preparation for reclamation of a mine dump. About 30 bars of pressure are needed to break up and turn the sand into slurry, which is then transported to the processing plant where any remaining gold content is extracted.

It will take around four years to reclaim the remaining four-and-half million tons of sand. Jason Larkin 'Neutralised AMD, Tweelopies Road, near Main Reef Road, Randfontein, Johannesburg, 2012.' This unlined pit located between the mine dumps is the receptor pit for neutralised acid mine drainage from mining operations nearby. 'Breaking Down the Dump, Krugersdorp, Johannesburg, 2013.' High pressured water is used to break down the mine dump and create an easily transportable slurry through a network of pipes to the central processing factory, where remaining gold content will be extracted. 'AMD, Robertville, Johannesburg, 2011.' Autos - Why do Americans not drive diesels?

In Europe, if a motorist wants to drive a small car that feels like a big one, there is a diesel for every occasion. A 1.6-litre turbodiesel delivers the torque surge of a much larger gasoline engine, yet with the fuel efficiency of a much smaller one. In the UK, diesel sales account for more than half of all cars sold, and even with a stat like that, Britain lags the rest of Europe, which has long preferred diesel to gas. Diesel used to be a dirty fuel and a dirty word, but recent technologies have addressed both problems, which is why the world outside the United States thinks of the choice between gasoline and diesel as a foregone conclusion. — Richard Aucock So why would more Americans not drive diesels? “But what do Britons know about our market?” In the UK of the 1980s, diesel drivers were outcasts.

This sheer lack of availability led to great variability in pricing. Given the need for low-sulphur refining, diesel would not necessarily become cheaper than premium in the US. California's Car Culture is Crashing its Carbon-Free Future - Todd Woody. The Golden State is going green in a big way, but needs to kick its auto addiction.

Reuters An annual report on California’s progress decarbonizing its economy is out today and, as usual, the news is largely good. The United States’s most populous state and the world’s eighth-largest economy has made huge investments in energy efficiency, green building and alternative sources of electricity and transportation. It’s paying off. And while the Flat Earth Society continues to dominate the climate-change debate in Washington, the West Coast political and business establishment is largely unified in facing an increasingly grim reality head-on. One of the best indicators of success in decarbonizing an economy is the volume of greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of gross domestic product.

Emissions per capita dropped 14 percent during that time even as the population continued to grow. The rest of the U.S. has not been nearly as successful.