Green Building, Carbon Footprint, and Santa Explained

Santa and His Sleigh, Compressing Space and Time
Santa and His Sleigh, Compressing Space and Time

In the last week or two I came across a number of interesting energy-related resources, blogs, websites, and talks that I wanted to share.

  • I was happy to run across Barry Katz’s new blog, The Future Is Green, because Barry, a home builder, is where all home builders need to get in the next 5-10 years. He’s committed to building zero-net energy homes and remodels. His web site has examples of the some of the work he’s done so far.

    In fact, the homebuilding industry can do something that not even hybrid cars can do. It is entirely possible, using currently available technology and materials, to build homes that consume zero-net energy. And not only zero net energy, but energy positive enough to recharge our plug-in hybrids. Such houses exist already. If we can build one, we can build many. (From Barry’s post, What We Need Now.)

    Barry’s also writing a book on green remodels, which should be useful for people like me who live in a house that’s already been built.

  • Saul Griffith, of Makani Power, calculated his current carbon footprint, and then his “allocated” carbon footprint as a global citizen. In this talk at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference earlier this year, he walks through those numbers – which are both scary and heartening. His calculations suggest that we need to throttle our energy usage at about 15 terawatts (TW) for the entire earth. As he puts it:
  • My life today is 18 horsepower, my new life should be three horsepower

    I found the section on the energy available for us to use – the total solar flux, the tidal power of gravity, nuclear, and geothermal – extremely interesting (about 30:30 into the recording).

    There are only four sources of energy – sun (85,000 TW), gravity (tidal – 3.7 TW), geothermal (constant flux of 32 TW), nuclear. All photosynthesis is 90 TW, which is the major argument against biofuels.

  • Science Daily reports on some research by Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, regarding Santa Claus’s ability to “travel around the world in just one night on his reindeer-pulled sleigh and deliver toys to all the children.”
  • “He understands that space stretches, he understands that you can stretch time, compress space and therefore he can, in a sense, actually have six Santa months to deliver the presents,” Silverberg told Reuters.

I hope you enjoy these links – let me know your thoughts, especially about the Griffiths talk if you have a chance to listen to it on your iPod – or on your computer at work.

What’s My Car’s CO2 Footprint In Units of Newly Planted Trees?

Nurse log, spruce or fir, central Colorado, wi...
Image via Wikipedia

Did you ever wonder what reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1 million metric tons means in everyday terms? The EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator can help you understand just that.

It can be difficult to visualize what a “metric ton of carbon dioxide” really is. This calculator will translate rather difficult to understand statements into more commonplace terms, such as “is
equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of X number of cars annually.”

For example, one passenger car emits about 5.5 tons of CO2 in a year, and that’s equivalent to the CO2 produced through the energy use of about 1/2 a home in a year, or the CO2 sequestered by 141 tree seedlings grown for ten years. That’s a lot of trees!

If you’re interested in more in-depth calculations on how forests take up CO2, this paper (PDF) by J. Doyne Farmer, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute, discusses the Forest Guardians, now the Wild Earth Guardians, CO2 carbon offset calculation.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Drink Wine, Fly Through Denver

fruity grapes in one of the vineyards of Napa ...Image via Wikipedia

Here are a few tips to help reduce your carbon footprint:

  • If you are going to drink wine anyway, consider drinking one of Far Niente’s varietals. They’ve installed a 400kW solar PV system (PDF of SF Chronicle article) that results in a net-zero energy bill and offsets a large percentage of their CO2 emissions
  • When flying, which we know is one of the worst activities from a carbon standpoint, you can at least connect through Denver International, which just dedicated a 2MW solar system (PDF of Sharp Energy press release).
Enhanced by Zemanta