Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

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What would it take to eliminate imported oil?

November 8, 2008

I was talking with my neighbor about potential increases in gas tax and her initial reaction was a strong “oh no!  That would be horrible for the economy.”  I pointed out that we’re importing 70% of our oil (ref: T. Boone Pickens & Hot, Flat & Crowded) and that means huge amounts of our currency is leaving the US and going to hostile countries.  I was impressed with how much that single point resonated with her.  Just that one item and her attitude completely changed into maybe gas taxes that discouraged use and kept $$ in the US would be a good thing for the economy.

So I started thinking about what life with 80% less* gas would look like for typical American consumers.  We would have to:

  • Work from home 4 days a week (1 vs 5 = 80% saved)
  • Carpool with 4 other people (1 vs 5 = 80% saved)
  • Go shopping twice a month instead of twice a week (2 vs 8 = 75% saved)
  • Car pool 5 kids per car to soccer games / scout trips / etc (3 cars instead of 15 = 66% saved)
  • Kids ride the school bus (fuzzier math, 1 bus = 30 cars but 20% efficient is 1/30/20% = 1/6 = 83% saved)
  • Bike or walk to coffee shop
  • Combine 10 shopping trips into a single trip
  • Drive or train for vacation instead of fly
  • Take a train instead of fly for next business trip
  • Use public transit to attend sports events

So of these changes could be made pretty easy if we slowed down our lifestyle, but telecommuting 80% would be a major change!  One benefit, less traffic!

* I picked 80% gas because some users cannot reduce this radically (like farming) so everyone else has to make up the difference!  80% or a 1/5 is also handy for math.

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Green Office meets Dilbert (+ interesting tidbits on HVAC design)

August 16, 2008

The fact that Scott Adam’s Dilbert is making fun of office greening is a major milestone!  It signal that business are starting to adjust (see note below).  It’s interesting that the justification is business legitimate sounding “to reduce expenses” instead of Pointy Haired green washing.

Personally, my office has both a causal dress code (engineers can/do wear shorts, black socks optional) and very cold air conditioning.

Note: My experience with office HVAC is that most systems are simply NOT setup to save energy by raising the temperature because they have to run a single massive chiller anyway.  My building is only 3 years old, but these “pre-energy cost spike” design dinosaurs are ubiquitous.  Adding a small “pony” chiller to handle most of the load could make a HUGE (really, HUGE) savings.

Building owners generally do not care about energy waste in their properties because the costs are PASSED THROUGH to the tenants.  The tenants could object, but they have very little awareness of their choice or influence.  This is exactly the type of broken anti-virtuous cycle that requires government / utility company intervention to fix!

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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.