Archive for the ‘carbon footprint’ Category


Could government green buying simulate the economy?

November 21, 2008

The Daily Kos (and other places too) recommended the government replace it’s mamoth fleet of ICE cars with Chevy Volts instead of dumping a huge bailout in their laps.  That would 1) stimulate the demand for US hybrids, 2) support the automaker with legitimate revenue, and 3) improve the government fleet’s MPG.

I’ve an advocate of this approach to promoting green tech (see my earlier post about School Solar) because it allows markets to develop.  Unfortunately, the companies most likely to have solutions are not equipped to navigate the bureaucracy need to do business with the government.  For example, Texas has funds to install solar at school but the money goes unspent because solar installers are not on school bid lists!

Here are 10 programs that would generate more tax revenue (to pay off ill conceived bailouts) and/or simulate critical US technology sectors:

  1. carbon tax (gas is cheap now, let’s act before people forget about high prices)
  2. convert trucks to natural gas (ala T Boone Pickens)
  3. energy neutral for schools and military bases in 5 years
  4. require national time-of-use billing by utilities including tax-by-time-of-use
  5. national passenger rail on dedicated tracks – free up freight lines for freight and make passenger trains faster
  6. nuclear plant design standardization & construction
  7. implement LED lighting in all government buildings (not those toxic CFLs!)
  8. legislate tele-commuting / commuting carbon footprint reduction
  9. enable cities to implement pay for car entry policies
  10. eliminate corn ethanol as a fuel

Mssing Icon? Maybe just another metaphor?

August 4, 2008

This week’s A.Word.A.Day is about metaphores.  Wordsmith Anu Garg said that the metaphor “carbon footprint” immediately displaced “energy hog” when it was coined because it was a better metaphor.  An green icon would be nice, but maybe a handful of better metaphor would work just as well.

Anyone want to help build a green metaphor list?

Carbon Footprint, Greenwashing, …


Ritual Foot Binding? Not painful…

May 13, 2008

…when compared to reducing your carbon footprint. It’s not surprising that a typical American has much much larger carbon footprint than anyone else in the world.

My take on the MIT News Office report compiled by David Chandler may surprise you. I think that our larger foot print will be the secret to US leadership in Clean Tech. While the rest of the world struggles to find new sources of energy, the US consumer already has an untapped power windfall: conservation. Americans could “create” enough power to run most other companies by reducing our energy consumption by 20%.

Do you think that’s not valid math? Get used to it because it’s real. The simplest way for the US to create more energy is to simply use less of what we currently waste on a daily basis. The power industry term for that is “nega-watts” (negative watts) and there is already a market for them.


In Hot Water? Gas or Electric?

April 29, 2008

Over lunch with a friend asked my opinion on installing a gas or electric tankless water heater. I have a gas tankless and LOVE it. In the past I’d always recommend getting a gas model. Gas is historically cheap and has a lower carbon footprint for heating. This is because electricity for heat generation looses efficiency when we make it mechanically from heat, transport it over wires, and then convert it back to heat. Gas converts directly into heat with high efficiency.

However, a new day is dawning in which the price of carbon-based fuels will continue to climb due to limited supply. Like gas, the cost of electricity will also climb because it’s generated primarily from carbon-based fuels. Unlike gas, we can’t store electricity so our future costs will be controlled by demand-based spot pricing. We will soon be in a market where it makes a dramatic difference when you use electricity not just how much you use.

For my friend, his off-peak shower (as per the grid, not his personal experience) will be much less expensive than his during peak shower. In this new utility model, he’ll have a degree of control about how much he pays for hot water. Even if prices go way up, he still have a way to economize based on time of day.

Since we can store gas, there is no need for demand pricing. My friend’s showers get more and more expensive as prices rise and he has no recourse except cold showers.

I suspect that we’re all in for a cold shower before all this settles down. Until then, buy electric.