I recently was looking through rentscore.com at different apartment complexes in the area for my brother who is moving in to town. I was surprised as I looked through listings and different reviews how many of the apartment complexes claim to be making efforts to go green. Several advertised their low-energy lighting, insulation, and even solar panels and alternative sources of energy. I wonder if this will become more of a “greenwashing” advertising trend, or if the complexes are actually coming around! BOMA reports that nearly 40% of the electricity and natural gas consumed in the US come from commercial buildings and apartment complexes. Seems like a good place to start!
Utah has once again produced the worst air quality in the nation. Most Utahns have grown accustomed to the winter phenomenon - when cold air gets trapped in the valleys, and can’t escape because of the warmer air above, trapping inside the pollution. For one who is not originally from Utah, this is always a surprise when it happens in the winter. Coming from Southern California, I thought that I was the one that knew all about air pollution, but I have never quite seen anything like this.
The Washington Post even chronicles the effects of the inversion on many of Utah’s residents. I consider myself quite healthy, but on these inversion where we can barely see the mountains, I don’t like to be out too long, or my eyes start burning and my head starts throbbing. The situation for the elderly who suffer from athsma and cardiac ailment is much worse - this type of pollution can be life-threatening.
Perhaps the most disturbing about the entire situation is the cavalier attitude that many of Utah residents have towards the environment. Much of the “drill baby drill” crowd calls Utah home, and it’s sad to see these same folks literally living in and breathing their own filth. In a state where large cars abound, coal power is cheap and abundant, and ideas of change and green-tech are met with a scoff, it’s hard to see it getting better any time soon.
Do you love the inversion as much as I do? Leave me a comment!
Who’d have thought it would be a crime to collect the water running off of your own roof?
Well, in Utah it’s a crime. That’s what a Salt Lake based auto dealership found out last year when as part of their “go green” initiative, they began harvesting rainwater for their irrigation onsite. Rainwater collection systems have become more popular in recent years as concerns over climate change and drought have risen in the national debate. So what’s the big deal about collecting and storing your own rainwater? In arid states, such as Nevada and Utah, all water technically belongs to the state, and harvesting this water for any “beneficial use” requires that one purchase water shares, which are becoming increasingly more pricy, especially in areas that are experiencing high population growth.
Recently, Utah State Senator Scott Jenkins sponsored Utah Bill 128, which would allow residents to capture and store up to 2500 gallons of rainwater for irrigation or personal use. It’s a good start. It requires significantly less energy for a household to collect its own rainwater and pressurize it for irrigation than for a water authority to capture, pressurize, sanitize, and deliver the same water for people to water their lawns with. In a state such as Utah, where the public has access to unlimited irrigation water much of the time at a low, fixed cost, I think it’s time for the environmentally minded to have the freedom to give rainwater collection a go. Let’s hope the bill passes as the State Legislature reconvenes.
Visit this site for more information on rainwater collection and use.
Tesla is a brand name that will hopefully become synonymous with Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini in the minds of all peel-out happy teenage boys. Elon Musk, the successful founder of Paypal, is also hoping that Tesla Motors will continue to become more profitable and grow as a company. The launch of the Roadster, an EV sports coupe, has shown that there is demand for quality EV vehicles, regardless of price in the case of the Roadster. The newest venture and future sights are set on a family sedan, the Model S.
The Model S is looking to compete with the forthcoming onslaught of EV’s bound to hit the market in the next year or two. Tesla is claiming some high speculative (and unconfirmed) specs for the vehicle, the most notable being a 300 mile traveling distance per battery charge. Seating 5 adults and 2 children, boasting a 5.6 second 0-60 acceleration and a quick 45 minute rapid charge, this could be the future for family commuting. The biggest draw back at this point is the proposed price of $49,900, which critics are claiming is still far too low of an estimate considering the battery would have to be much larger, more expensive and efficient to be able to reach the 300 mile mark. In a New Yorker article today, Tad Friend sat down and had an interview with CEO Elon Musk and discussed the upcoming Model S among other things. Critics from Ford and Chevy argue that the proposed electric motor would require a $40,000, 2,000 pound Lithium-Ion battery. Yet, at the same moment, GM was unable to put an EV on the road (remember the EV1) successfully and everybody said that electric cars were only for tree huggers and hippies until Tesla introduced the Roadster. It will be exciting to see how this all unravels- whether ANY manufacture can produce an EV with a 300 mile charge capacity for under $50,000.
My earliest thoughts years back when I saw the Mini Cooper for the first time were “That car would be destroyed instantly in an accident”. Since that time, things have changed economically and culturally here in the US. For one, having the worlds largest SUV with the biggest engine possible is no longer appealing but not economically feasible with gas prices high and a sagging economy. As a result we have seen a huge increase in demand for fuel efficient hybrids and even better, PHEV’s and EV’s. Boy have things sure changed…
As for specs, the Mini E is packed to the brim with electronic goodness. It has a 150 kW electric motor, which equates to 207 horse power. Like all EV’s, it is powered by a high capacity Lithium-Ion battery pack that can be charged from home. With a full charge and regenerative braking, the car can travel about 156 miles. BMW really wanted to get the Mini E out on the market as soon as possible and and ran into some issues. They have been running a pilot program since June, and have been able to iron out most of the bugs. For one, the 220 volt recharge cable included with the car was not UL certified and therefore couldn’t be used. That meant that testers of the vehicle would have to wait a full 23 hours for the battery to be completely charged (if completely depleted). As of now though it is looking like a successful soft launch of BMW’s first EV. Read more impressions and details on BMWBLOG.
For those who are not familiar with the site, SickOfOil.com focuses on reducing our carbon footprint through reduction in use of fossil fuels, greater use of alternative energies and simple technologies that are more efficient and help conserve energy. I have wanted to start a running series for several weeks now that focuses on the most recent press releases and information on all the upcoming Electric Vehicles (EV’s) and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV’s). Kicking it off, we will take a look at the Nissan LEAF- Japans latest threat to the Chevy and Ford as they are scrambling to produce energy efficient hybrids and EV’s.
On August 2, 2009, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, officially unveiled the Nissan LEAF, a 5 seater compact EV. The proposed specs state that the vehicle will include a 24kWh Lithium-Ion battery with a max output of 90kW. In terms of kilowatt Hour (kWh) to horsepower (hp) conversion, the LEAF has 107 horses under the hood. Nissan is claimed that the top speed is 90mph and that it would have a nominal battery charge range of 100 miles. Charging the vehicle at home on a 200 volt circuit should last 8 hours according to Nissan, and as short as 30 minutes at planned municipal charging stations. Charging stations alone is the biggest issue now with PHEV’s and EV’s. Its great to have vehicles that can travel 100 on a single charge, but what happens if you need to charge and aren’t at home? Thats the biggest issue on the minds of all auto manufactures as they are trying to plan a serious future infrastructure so that once the PHEV’s and EV’s hit the streets, they will be able to be refueled.
On the positive side, executives at Nissan are hinting that the LEAF will have a sub $30,000 price tag. Thats big news to those wishing to get into a EV but are short on cash. Also take into fact that there will certainly be tax credits and possible price negotiations rolling out in the future to incentivize consumers to cross over to the future of commuting. Look for the LEAF around 2012 (if we are lucky). More as it unravels. Check out Nissans official concept site HERE.
Dearborn, Michigan- Today Ford brought to light their “smart” energy plans for future hybrid and electric cars. Essentially the technology allows consumers to program their plug-in hybrids (PHEV’s) and EV’s when the best time is and for how long to charge. This would allow consumers to ease the electrical grid during peak hours and instead recharge their batteries when costs are lower and overall consumption is lower. The technology will use the vehicles in dash touch navigation screen to set specifics on when, for how long and at what rate to charge. The vehicles computer will then interact with the owners wireless power grid (which is not yet available in all areas) to communicate with the power company and determine when to charge the batteries. This is big news for those who are concerned about the operating costs of PHEV’s and EV’s, as the operating costs will be minimized through the use of intelligent technology. Now the only issue at hand is getting the cars to the market at an affordable rate with batteries that can compete with gasoline engine MPG ratios!
See the full press release HERE.
In my mind, some words just don’t go together well together- Diet Soda, Low-Fat Ice Cream, Organic Cigarettes, “clean coal”… the list can go on forever. However, when I heard about a race track that would be installing a 3.0 MW Solar Panel Farm, I was interested to see how a racetrack that burns heaps of fossil fuels could be “green”.
Pocono Raceway of Pennsylvania, is planning on installing the largest sports event based solar arrays in the world. The solar farm will be built on approximately 25 acres and should consist of roughly 40,000 solar panels. EnXco and Evolution Energies will partner up for the project that is planned to be finished by Spring of 2010. The 3.0 MW of electricity generated will more than offset the racetrack’s power consumptions and when the energy is not being used by the stadium, it will be plugged right back into the power grid. This is estimated to power around 1,000 homes and reduce the tracks and homes carbon footprint by 5,100 tons annually.
“Pocono Raceway’s solar energy project is the biggest renewable energy stadium project in the world by more than two times,” said Dr. Mike Lynch, Managing Director of Green Innovation at NASCAR. He later went on to say “It’s going to be an awesome achievement, setting a high bar for all facilities throughout sports.” This is great news for local residents and sports fans, but what will the long term effects be of the installation? Will we now begin to see solar panel farms on all stadiums, Walmart’s and Amusement parks? As much as we would like to see such things happen, the price per watt will have to drop in order for demand to increase.
Read the official press release at http://www.poconoraceway.com/NEWS-2009_07_31a.asp
BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Michigan - Residents of Michigan will feel “charged up” with General Motors announcement to invest $43 million to manufacture lithium-ion battery packs in the state for the upcoming Chevrolet Volt and other future extended range electric-hybrid vehicles. The announcement is big news for Michigan’s struggling economy, which is sitting at a startling 15.2% unemployment rate. The plan is also important for the US economy, as it shows GM’s commitment to design, manufacture and sell vehicles state side. This is just days after the very public “230″ mpg marketing campaign was rolled out. Could this mean the triumphant return of GM?
Those who have been following the downfall, bail out and surprisingly fast bankruptcy of GM will know that GM needs to release the “next big thing” and is showing us that they are serious about electric vehicles. In Gm’s official press release, Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO said “Developing and producing advanced batteries is a key step in GM’s journey to become the leader in electric vehicles.” Later on he also stated, “This state-of-the-art battery manufacturing site reinforces our commitment to achieve that goal and to deliver clean, fuel-efficient vehicles to our customers.” Hopefully there will be enough demand for the Volt and GM can emerge stronger than ever before.