Posts Tagged ‘community’

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Schools are ideal location for national solar push

August 31, 2008

I’m mixed on residential solar: I love to see grassroots movement to expand solar but I’m skeptical about the ROI for widespread adoption.  I’m a believer in local solar as a way to regionalize generation.  Municipal solar sites (including commercial and manufacturing) would have scale and facilities maintenance that can generate a meaningful ROI.

If the Federal Government is serious about energy independence, then our schools are the ideal place to start.   The US should pay 100% of the cost to install arrays at every school in the country and allow the individual schools to use the energy savings/revenue to offset their facilities costs.  Just supplying this one initiative would consume the output of multiple PV factories!  The demand created would be enough for a VC feeding frenzy in PV speculation.

Schools are tightly integrated into our communities, high visible, and mandated to educate.  Solar schools would have tremendous and immediate community impacts with both economic and the social activism benefits.

Let’s set a goal for our schools to become energy neutral (or better) in 3 years.  It would be a bold statement to a huge audience that we’re serious about energy independence.  Now that’s something that students everywhere could sing and dance about!

Solar powered high school?  Now that's something to dance and sing about!

Solar powered high school? Now that is something to dance and sing about!

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Microsoft + European Beachs = Social Environmentalism?

August 8, 2008

GreenMonk posted an interesting link to a Microsoft web site, EyeOnEarth, that tracks water conditions of European beaches.  Putting this information online is nice, but the social Web 2.0 aspect got my interest.  “this community-based approach makes it an exceedingly powerful tool and this has to be the first time we have seen grassroots activism, supported by central transparency, powered by Microsoft!”

Social Environmentalism - beach goers can report conditions

Social Environmentalism - beach goers can report conditions

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Pool Ponderings – costs are double

June 10, 2008

My oldest son (and I) got to play care taker for a neighbor’s pool over the last week. We had to keep adding more and more water just to keep up with evaporation (and a leak?). I suspect that we put more water in that pool than my household used in the same week! Our lawn proves that we’re very careful with water because 1) it’s expensive and 2) it’s a limited resource. I found it very hard to keep filling up that hole in their backyard every other day.

My family is a MAJOR pool user. We love pools, but we use the community pool. The community pool is awesome because 1) we don’t worry about the water or maintenance and 2) we love seeing other people in our community. One of the reasons that we care about saving limited resources is because we belong to a community. The pool both conserves resources and connects us socially – it is a type of social energy.

When our neighbors with pools don’t participate in the community at the pool they get less connected to the rest of us. They get comfortable wasting limited resources and paying high maintenance costs while unplugging from their community.

This is exactly the type of self-reinforcing pattern that our society will need to outgrow before we can become sustainable.

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Welcome to a brand new Earth Day

April 25, 2008

The overall media love that has become Earth Day is both overwhelming and comforting. Overwhelming from the blitz of green logos, magazine covers, and animated recycling symbols and comforting because people seem to be sincerely enthusiastic about it. Perhaps Earth Day is speeding towards Hallmark Holiday celebrity. Perhaps we’ve reached a tipping point now that a gallon of gas is more expensive than a Hallmark Earth Day card.

For these reasons and more, I’m choosing Earth Day 2008 to officially launch my TribalGrid blog. My interest in “social energy” and sustainability are stretching the scope of my EV blog and I don’t want pull a Venkman and cross the beams. I’m excited to be starting a new site to talk about something that resonates with my feeling of urgency about the environment. I find the passion that drove me to build the RAVolt has been growing and looking for ways to ignite the conservation spark in others.

Social energy focuses on community awareness of conservation, sustainability, and usage patterns. Hopefully this blog is helping emerge this concept and encouraging others to collaborate and extend it.