Sunday, September 30, 2012

CU-Boulder Says Graywater System Could Save 800,000 Gallons a Year

Better late than never. It's good to see graywater systems gaining some traction on the Front Range in Colorado. We experience low humidity levels, and even though the mountains supply us with fresh water from the snowpack, the last decade or so the Front Range has seen more frequent bouts with drought. We cannot take water for granted here. But strict water laws disallow individuals from preventing the water they use from "going downstream". But it looks like the folks at the University of Colorado at Boulder might have a method to reuse water that is within water rights law.

One of the dormitories on campus is going to do a five-year pilot to collect graywater from showers and sinks, filter it, and then reuse the water in toilets. After the water is flushed it goes back into the system, treated, and then sent on it's way downstream. The folks downstream get the water they are owed just a little bit later. The university will study the dorm's graywater system and then report the findings. This will let us know if a system like this is viable within current water laws. Imagine this type of system in every residential and commercial building in the United States. Think of how much fresh water we could save?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

REA Dedicates Northern Colorado's First Solar Farm

Delicious. The first solar garden in Windsor, Colorado has popped up to feed the community with clean renewable power. Solar gardens are gaining steam across the country. These gardens are essentially a mini renewable power plant that people can buy into - people that are unable to purchase solar power on their own property for whatever reason, whether it be that they're renters, there are too many trees shading the property, or a homeowner just cannot afford the upfront capital outlay for a photovoltaic system that can meet their electricity needs. Solar gardens are just one piece of the proverbial renewable energy pie that this country must adopt on the road towards independence from fossil fuels. I'm happy to see that these are taking off in sunny Colorado and have been given a boost with the solar gardens law that Colorado passed in 2010.

University of Colorado to Receive $450,000 to Accelerate Solar Energy

Here's some excellent news for the University of Colorado. The U.S. Department of Energy has given a $450K grant to the university to help advance concentrated solar power technology. I think it's a pretty good idea for the government to invest in universities to help advance and reduce the cost of various technologies. This is an investment in our educational system, which is ultimately an investment in our communities. Plus, is there a better investment other than our schools? Students receive the enlightenment through discovery and the eventual innovation and subsequent intellectual property stays within the U.S. It's a win/win no?

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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