Sunday, January 30, 2011

Colorado State Republican Wants Renewable Energy Mandates Scaled Back

A couple of members of the Colorado State legislature want to scale back some of the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act signed into law in 2010. I wrote a piece on the signing here. This law was developed and supported by a broad coalition including Xcel Energy, Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and environmental groups. This type of robust coalition is rare these days in this political climate. One of the state legislator's main reasons for wanting to scale back this law is "cost". The cost is of course an economic one. Changing over to renewable energies or to lower-emitting fossil fuels like natural gas is going to cost us all more money than if we were to just stay with coal. However, there will be other costs (that will eventually cost more money) to our health, to our environment, and to our society if we stay the course with coal-burning power plants. We must continue to move forward with our energy policies and any attempt to pull us back is short-sighted thinking.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Degrees in Sustainability: Risky or Worth It?

Even before reading this great article I'd have to say that a sustainability degree is about as noble as a science, engineering, or liberal arts degree (ahem, a shout out to all my English lit. sisters and brothers). As well, I think that type of degree is full of fiscal and common sense. I would hire a person in a second who has spent numerous semesters analyzing the economic, social, and environmental impacts of our daily actions. It doesn't matter what kind of business or organization you own or work for, there are sound methods for making that entity more sustainable and in turn more profitable. Sustainability makes sense in the short term and in the long run, and our society would be better off if there were more generations that were being educated in this manner. So, if you're reading this then I give two thumbs way up to a sustainability degree. Totally worth it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

MIT Charged Up about Its Energy Efficiency

The folks at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are showing the world how smart they really are by taking advantage of one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money - energy efficiency. As we've revealed before here on Denver Sun Sponge, the quickest ROI isn't gained by installing solar panels, or adding solar thermal or a wind turbine, but is gained by implementing energy efficiency upgrades to a residential or commercial building. From this article in the Boston Herald, MIT hopes to reduce it's electricity use by 15% in three years, which, according to their projections, would help them save a cool $50 million in energy costs. Wow, $50 million sure could by a lot of physics textbooks.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

RETool: Opportunities in the New Energy Economy

The next RETool class at the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Colorado starts on January 28th. I took this class last year and was impressed at the quality of education and instructors. Here's the line-up:
  • Friday, January 28 - Renewable Electric Power
  • Friday, February 18 - Understanding Smart Grids
  • Friday, March 18 - Renewable Transportation Energy
  • Friday, April 22 - The Promise of Energy Efficiency
This is a great way to enhance your energy industry knowledge and meet some really interesting people. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Online Solar Map Provides Data on 800,000 Colorado Buildings

This solar map from the Governor's Energy Office and the Denver Regional Council of Governments is unbelievable. If you live in the Denver metro area all you have to do is find your structure on a Google satellite map and it provides the potential kilowatt hours that could be generated from having a solar PV system installed on the roof of your residential or commercial building. The solar map also provides the estimated electric bill savings, the size of a PV array in kilowatts, and a form to fill out to have an installer (PV or solar thermal) contact you. This interactive map with the above data points is truly a way to generate interest in distributed generation solar PV and solar thermal. This is a cool tool. Please check it out when you get a chance. Read more about the solar map in this Daily Camera article.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

CU-Boulder Appoints First Director of Campus Sustainability

The University of Colorado is moving in a sustainable direction with the recent hire of Moe Tabrizi, Director of Campus Sustainability. Mr. Tabrizi is going to need all the support he can get with the university's ambitious sustainability goals. Just look at how ambitious these goals are:

“…reducing energy consumption by 20 percent, water consumption by 10 percent, petroleum use by 25 percent, and paper use by 20 percent, all by 2012.”

Those are nice and aggressive goals for a campus. Hopefully these are contagious to the rest of the community and surrounding cities. It seems like the Campus Sustainability Office is going to place an emphasis on communicating the progress to the campus and the surrounding community. Communicating all efforts will go a long way towards increased adoption of sustainable behavior. Congrats to CU - Boulder and to Mr. Tabrizi!

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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