Marko Spiegel, founder of Conservation Technology International, Inc. gave a presentation at the Chicago Center for Green Technology last night. Though I had heard of the One-Watt-House I hadn't yet seen him give the presentation, which was impressive: thorough, substantiated, and notably free of the usual ga-ga green hokum. The One-Watt-House is based on the German Passivhaus which uses a super-insulated envolope that, when finished, needs only one watt per square foot of energy to heat. The key point that Spiegel emphasizes is that the One-Watt-House starts with the premise that the most sustainable way to build homes is to build them so that they don't need to be heated or cooled by elaborate systems.
Fifty members and friends of the Illinois Solar Energy Association met on Saturday at the River Forest home of Paul Coffey, who has lovingly restored the former River Forest Women's Club. Designed by William Drummond, who worked with both Wright and Burnham, the home's radiant-heated floor was delightfully warm and the high windows let in the light as we listened to Paul and Wally Szczesny of Home Patron describe the Evacuated Tube solar thermal system. Combined with the geothermal system and a backup boiler, the hybrid system has reduced water and space heating costs from $1250 per month to $350 a month -- for a 6,000 square foot house. Also present was Dirk Dypol from Elgin's Advanced Geothermal, who cleared up the mysteries of geothermal heating systems.
The New York Times on attempts to assuage carbon guilt through buying carbon-offset credits:
"Yet another perverse effect, say critics, is that some types of carbon offset initiatives may actually slow the changes aimed at coping with global warming by prolonging consumers' dependence on oil, coal and gas, and encouraging them to take more short-haul flights and drive bigger cars then they would otherwise have done. Climate Care, for example, has linked up with Land Rover, a maker of sport utility vehicles, to help the company offset its own emissions. As part of a promotional program, Climate Care also helps purchasers of new Land Rovers offset their first 45,000 miles of driving."
The New York Times ran an article on the small house movement, with examples of tiny houses, most of them prefabbed, that people are buying to use as second homes. Some people like them so much that they are staying in them long-term.
Since December, when the first rumors began flying, the alternative energy community has been all atwitter about CitizenRE (pronounced like "citizenry" with the emphasis on the last syllable). Those who have asked for hard evidence of real financing behind this enormously ambitious solar PV undertaking have been countered by quasi-religious email postings and perky blog lurkers demanding that we stop with the negative vibes. Finally, Renewable Energy Access has published a thorough and thoughtful summary of the information that is currently available.
"The flood of criticism and bad press from industry leaders and bloggers since December of last year has put the company on the defensive; yet not much information has been released to quell concerns. Gregg said that a press release with the names of team leaders, investors and the plant location will be available in March. That information was supposed to be available in January, but the month passed with no word from Citizenre.
Four Citizenre Regional Sales Directors have cut ties with the company in the last two weeks because of doubts about the business model and frustration over the lack of information from executives. These so-called "Independent Direct Sellers" did not "resign," because they technically did not work for Citizenre.
One of those former-Regional Sales Directors, Richard George, has publicly spoken out against the company. He authored a report highlighting the many internal doubts, which was recently leaked by an anonymous source to the blog site www.linkit.com. George said that his concerns were ignored.
'[Executives] have been creating a culture of fear so that anyone who asks questions gets attacked for being negative or not having faith...and essentially they're creating almost a cult-like atmosphere within the company,' said George."
Fast Company (Issue 108) helps us fathom the power of compact fluorescent light bulbs (see "swirl" bulb on the left with incandescent bulb on right):
"What that means is that if every one of 110 million American households bought just one [compact flourescent] bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads. That's the law of large numbers--a small action, multiplied by 110 million."
Indigenous Energy is a Chicago-based company providing procurement of biofuels for company fleets and retail outlets. Hat tip to Michelle of Seven Generations Ahead for sending us info and the link. We're going to add them to our "Alternative Energy Businesses" category and watch for them in the news.
"Please share this information, especially with your legislators.
The American Solar Energy Society released a significant report this week, "Tackling Climate Change in the U.S. – Potential Emissions Reductions from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 2030," that addresses human-caused climate change solutions through energy efficiency and renewable energy using current off-the-shelf technologies. This report brings a practical solution to an 'inconvenient truth.'
This report provides a roadmap to a sustainable energy economy and hope for mitigating climate change now. The more people know about this roadmap and influence their policy makers toward the practical solutions provided therein, the more likely immediate measures will be deployed."