Dwight D Eisenhower on Sustainability

“As we peer into society’s future, we–you and I, and our government–must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”

Dwight D Eisenhower’s Farewell Address January 17, 1961


HomeCamp 3 – hacking for smart homes, smart energy, and free beer

We had big plans for HomeCamp in 2010, but facts seem to have got in the way. What with Chris joining CurrentCost, and my wife and I having a second child- we didn’t have as much time to apply to the event as it deserved, or the community for that matter. Which is why I am very pleased to announce that we will be homecamping in London on December 13th from 4pm onwards.

We have some great presentations planned, from the likes of AMEE, and IBM.

That’s right. IBM in the home? Surely some mistake? Not so- Andy Piper will be coming along to tell us more about how hackers are using lightweight messaging technology from IBM in all sorts of sustainability/home hacking apps. Given I had my doubts IBM would really go after a pervasive, volume market, led by developers, I am really looking forward to this one…Dave Bartlett from IBM likes to say A Smarter Planet begins with A Smarter Building. Well, perhaps sustainability begins at home. Maybe Andy can tell us how a Smarter Planet begins with a Smarter Home.

But more importantly than great speakers is a nice venue to hang out, catch up on all things homecampy, and drink some beers. Extra special thanks to one of the stalwarts of the homecamp community- Mike Beardmore – for sorting out the venue.

So if you’re interested in home automation protocols and standards, demand response, energy management, the future of smart grids, the role of hackers and alpha geeks as leading indicators for emerging markets, and so on, then HomeCamp is the place to come – you can sign up here. We’d love to see you.


Energy efficient supercomputers from IBM!


Photo credit Argonne National Laboratory

Supercomputers are particularly fast computers (often made up of thousands of “off the shelf” computers) typically used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as climate research, molecular modelling, research into nuclear fusion, etc.

The Green 500 is a ranking of the most energy efficient supercomputers measured in Floating Point Operations per second/Watt (MFLOP/Watt). In the latest Supercomputing Green 500 List, a Q prototype of IBM’s next Blue Gene supercomputer came in at 1st place on the list.

What is most striking though is the margin by which the IBM solution took the first place. While many of the systems in the top 20 placings were achieving a respectable 400-600 MFLOPS/Watt and the 2nd placed HP solution came in at 958.35 MFLOPS/Watt. The winning IBM supercomputer however, attained a massive 1684.20 MFLOPS/Watt!

This is significant because larger computer clusters consume substantial amounts of electricity, both to power the cpu’s and also to cool the heat they generate. Efficiency gains in supercomputers mean lots of savings in the amount of energy (and therefore money) needed to run them.

What is most impressive, though is that since the Green lists started back in 2007, IBM CPU’s have topped every list! Kudos to them.


Friday Green Numbers round-up 11/05/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit XcBiker

Here are this week’s top 10 Green numbers – with a bonus one for good luck!

  1. On 21st September 2010 the price of electricity in Ireland turned negative for the first time since the market opened in 2007.

  2. Established in 1576, the French post office is the oldest mail delivery system in the world and one of the largest employers in France. Now, it’s going green. La Poste has made sustainability a major goal for the next several years, with its sights set on serious carbon output reduction. To make it happen, the organization is developing a fleet of electric vehicles adapted to the varying needs of urban, suburban and rural mail delivery. The goal? Have 10,000 of them in use by 2011.

  3. NRDC has been working in China for fifteen years on such issues as climate, energy efficiency, green buildings, clean energy, governance and law, health, and green supply chain issues. This China Environmental News Alert is a weekly compilation of news from around the world on China and the environment.

  4. Green public procurement, eco-labelling and producer responsibility were listed among possible policy options to reduce raw materials consumption in the manufacturing sector, amid growing pressure to decouple economic growth from rising natural resource use.

    Lifecycle thinking should be integrated at the very early stages of a product’s conception, the OECD argued at a global forum on sustainable materials management, held in Mechelen, Belgium, this week.

  5. The U.S. industry added just 395 megawatts of wind-powered electric generating capacity in the third quarter of 2010, making it the lowest quarter since 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

    The industry added only 700 megawatts in the second quarter of 2010.

    Year-to-date installations stood at 1,634 MW, down 72 percent versus 2009, and the lowest level since 2006. In 2010, wind projects in the U.S. are being installed at half the rate as in Europe, and a third of the rate as in China.

  6. US venture capital (VC) investment in cleantech companies in Q3 2010 fell to $575.6 million in 53 financing rounds, a 55% decrease in capital and a 22% decrease in deals compared to Q3 2009, according to an Ernst & Young LLP analysis based on data from Dow Jones VentureSource. These results come amidst a quarter of significant corporate engagement with the cleantech sector.

    “This quarter reflects the ongoing volatility in cleantech investment that we have observed over the past two years, depending on the presence of the very large transactions we see in cleantech,” said Jay Spencer, Ernst & Young LLP’s Americas Cleantech Director. ?”However, a number factors point to the continuing strength in the US cleantech sector, including growth in Energy Efficiency investments and corporate involvement throughout multiple industries ? from utilities to technology to consumer products.”

  7. Fantastic site with constantly updating statistics on things like World population, healthcare expenditure, forest loss, CO2 emissions, water consumed, energy etc.

  8. Chris Huhne, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary, today said that by 2015 up to 100,000 Green Deal workers could be employed in the effort to upgrade Britain?s homes. Currently around 27,000 work in the insulation industry. Legislation to start the process of establishing the Green Deal is due to be introduced into Parliament next month.

    The Green Deal is the Government?s new and radical way of making energy efficiency available to all, whether people own or rent their property. The work to upgrade the property will be paid back from the saving on energy bills.

  9. U.S. consumers looking to get Nissan’s all-electric Leaf will have to wait another year, after dealers sold this year’s entire shipment before the zippy sedan even hit showrooms, the Japanese automaker said Monday.

    Nissan dealers have collected more than 20,000 orders for the Leaf, and the bulk are wealthy “early adapters” on the West Coast of the United States, said Carlos Tavares, chair of Nissan’s management committee for the Americas.

  10. A New Zealand wine has become the first in the world to display the carbon footprint of each individual glass serving on its label ? laying bare to the shopper or drinker the full environmental impact of making and transporting it.

    Each bottle of Mobius Marlborough sauvignon blanc ? which takes its name from the highest peak of the range of hills above the town ? will display its carbon emissions for a typical 125ml glass.

  11. Trucks outsold cars by the highest margin in nearly five years in October, a small sign that the US economy may be starting to improve and a sure sign that the national IQ is not improving!

    These trucks aren’t the tractor-trailers that haul freight. They were vehicles such as pickups, SUVs, minivans and smaller SUVs, which made up 54 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales according to industry tracker J.D. Power and Associates, while cars made up 46 percent of the market. That’s the biggest margin of difference between the two categories since December 2005, when trucks accounted for 56 percent of sales.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Friday Green Numbers round-up 10/22/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit Lauren Manning

And here are this week’s Green Numbers – numbered this week for extra meta-goodness (!):

  1. i2O is a centralized water control method that directs the distribution and pressure of an entire water system. Sure, it sounds like Plumbing 2.0, but this is actually a good example of a disruptive technology.

    i2O systems (that?s i two oh, not i twenty, if that wasn?t clear) have been installed in dozens of UK cities and save an average of nearly 50,000 liters a day each, as the system rerouted and adjusted pressure around leakages and inefficient pipes. There will still be bursts, and bad sealing, and we?ll still be losing a lot of water, but anything we can shave off the estimated 32 billion cubic meters of water lost from cities each year (World Bank estimate) is worth it.

  2. Eurostar has decided to invest over one billion dollars for the acquisition of ten new green trains and for the refurbishment of their entire existing stock in order to create a fleet that operates with lowered carbon emissions and with greener systems as a whole. Eurostar is also doing this as a means of providing a low carbon alternative to flights connecting the countries Eurostar rails already service.

  3. Pollution from Chicago?s two coal plants has created up to $1 billion in health and related damages in the last 8 years, according to a report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC).

    The report uses data from the National Research Council that found that particulate matter, or soot, from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago created $127 million in health and related damages in 2005.

    Using that model, ELPC analyzed pollution emissions data and found that the two plants have created between $750 million and $1 billion in public health damages since 2002.

  4. if we capture our urine–like has been done in China (both recently and historically)–and use it as fertilizer instead of petro-chemicals we could be saving huge amounts of carbon emissions.
    In fact, the video purports (I say ‘purports’ because it’s not specified how the following figure is derived, though I have no immediate reason to doubt it) that we’d essentially offset half of all the world’s airline carbon emissions, if urine collection for fertilizer was done widely.

  5. Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by nearly 8% last year, the first time a fall has been reported in 20 years.

  6. General Electric today announced that it will invest over $400 million into four centers of excellence dedicated toward designing and manufacturing refrigeration products.

    A year ago, GE plunked $600 million into facilities for developing energy efficient washers and water heaters. Both efforts will lead to 1,300 jobs in the U.S., according to the company.

  7. Five years ago, the leaders of this sun-scorched, wind-swept nation made a bet: To reduce Portugal?s dependence on imported fossil fuels, they embarked on an array of ambitious renewable energy projects ? primarily harnessing the country?s wind and hydropower, but also its sunlight and ocean waves.

    Today, Lisbon?s trendy bars, Porto?s factories and the Algarve?s glamorous resorts are powered substantially by clean energy. Nearly 45 percent of the electricity in Portugal?s grid will come from renewable sources this year, up from 17 percent just five years ago.

  8. NEWSWEEK ranked the biggest publicly traded companies in developed and emerging world markets.

    This is a list of the top 100.

  9. From GE’s Imagination Daily reports are details of GE’s top 5 technologies for turning waste into energy. Everything from re-using industrial wastewater through to burning spent nuclear waste for energy!

  10. A new liability is coming onto the collective balance sheet of companies around the world: Carbon.In the context of increasing awareness of the business and societal risks of climate change, corporate carbon emissions (and the energy consumption that creates them) are becoming a crucial indicator of business performance. And a new type of software platform, enterprise carbon and energy management (ECEM), is emerging to enable companies to monitor, manage, and report corporate carbon emissions, as well as the energy consumption which is their principal source.

  11. Return to previous Arctic conditions is unlikely
    Record temperatures across Canadian Arctic and Greenland, a reduced summer sea ice cover, record snow cover decreases and links to some Northern Hemisphere weather support this conclusion

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Friday Green Numbers round-up 10/08/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit tiffa130

And here are this week’s Green Numbers:

  • “The Timberland Company (NYSE: TBL) believes it can help alleviate hunger, create jobs, protect wildlife and preserve the environment…all through the simple act of planting a tree. Make that five million trees – in five years.

    It’s a bold pledge in support of a bold vision. And although the notion is pretty simple – plant some trees, do some good in the world – Timberland’s global reforestation program recognizes that success doesn’t come quite as easily as that.

    “You can’t just throw a sapling in the ground and expect the world to change,” said Timberland President & CEO Jeff Swartz. “But done thoughtfully and strategically, with committed partners, planting trees really can lead to meaningful long-term solutions to a whole host of environmental, social and economic problems.” “

  • Plans to build three new factories to make thousands of giant offshore wind turbines that would create an estimated 60,000 jobs are set to become the latest casualty of the spending review, it has emerged.
    The previous government had pledged ?60m to upgrade ports, mainly in the north-east, to enable them to handle the next generation of giant turbines for installation off the UK coast.

    Siemens and General Electric have announced plans to invest ?180m in two new manufacturing facilities in the UK, but say this is conditional on the necessary work on nearby ports. Mitsubishi is also interested in building a third factory.

    But the Guardian has learned that the competition inviting ports to bid for the funds is likely to be scrapped

  • Still quite lightweight, Microsoft have finally, with their 2010 corporate citizenship report, produced a report following the GRI reporting guidelines.

    Hopefully this is the beginning of proper CR reporting from Microsoft.

  • According to a new SEC filing, Rhode Island startup GreenBytes Inc. added $3.5 million to the series A round they raised last year, led by Battery Ventures and initially consisted of $7.5 million.

    GreenBytes provides ?energy-efficient, inline deduplication storage appliances.? In plainer English, the company makes hardware and software that IT operations teams use to store and protect huge amounts of data, and to control how much energy they must use to do so. GreenBytes claims its technology can cut storage power consumption by 50%.

  • Major corporations can save millions of dollars with simple energy efficiency tweaks–if they know where to look. That’s where the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program can help. The three year-old program plays host to 51 MBA students that are sent to 47 corporations to dig up energy savings.

    This year’s group found $350 million in net operational cost savings at companies including Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald?s, Pepsi, Target, Verizon, and Xerox. So how did they do it?

  • Eurostar has today announced a planned ?700m investment in its rolling stock that will result in the rail operator running some of the greenest trains on the planet from 2014.

    The company revealed it is to buy 10 new trains and refurbish its existing 28-strong fleet as it looks to further build on its position as a low-carbon alternative to short haul flights.

    Engineering giant Siemens is set to be awarded the contract to manufacture the new electric e3202 trains, which it estimates will consume about 10 per cent less energy than existing models.

    The e3202 is an updated version of Siemens’ Velaro, the fastest high-speed train in the world, which over a distance of 100km consumes 0.33 litres of petrol equivalent per seat ? about the same as a can of cola ? and produces at least three times less CO2 per person-kilometre than a standard passenger flight.

  • Global environmental damage caused by human activity in 2008 represented a monetary value of $6.6 trillion, equivalent to 11% of global GDP, calculates a study released today by the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and UNEP Finance Initiative.

    Those global costs are 20% larger than the $5.4 trillion decline in the value of pension funds in developed countries caused by the global financial crisis in 2007/8.

  • IBM has been named systems integration partner for the $100 million smart grid initiative led by the EnergyAustralia consortium. IBM will lead the development of Australia?s first smart grid network, following the formal contract signing of the deal between EnergyAustralia and the Australian Government and work will commence immediately.

  • The worldwide installed base of smart electricity meters will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31.1 percent between 2009 and 2015 to reach 302.5 million at the end of the period.

    During the next five years, penetration rates for smart metering technology are projected to increase from around 15?20 percent today to nearly 50 percent in Europe and North America, while Asia-Pacific is projected to soar from less than 1 percent to 25 percent by 2015.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Symantec’s Sustainability Story: It’s The Power Consumption, Stupid.

symantec commitment

I was lucky enough recently to meet Jose Iglesias, the guy spearheading Symantec’s sustainability efforts. I wrote the interview up over on Monkchips, but much of the content belongs here too. I like Symantec’s clear focus on energy. While others are broadening their sustainability story, Symantec is doubling down on managing energy more effectively, with a plan to take its expertise in reducing IT power consumption and start applying it to broader Smart Grid demand response.

Symantec?s Green IT story is very much an enterprise play and arguably a solid sustainability product strategy could help to increase visibility for some of Symantec?s enterprise tools. Thus for example ? Symantec NetBackup PureDisk for storage deduplication could be used to cut the amount of storage and power. One challenge for Symantec is identifying and serving the new buyers in energy reduction. Most of the firm?s traditional practitioner purchasers are not tasked with reducing the energy footprint of the products they manage?.

?We sell to admins, but few get compensated on energy savings?

To which I would say? not yet.

Smart Grid as Game Changer

One major opportunity for Symantec to change the account management game there is to parlay its IT experience directly into related spaces such as Smart Grid security and asset management. I knew before the briefing that Symantec is having some early success in the Smart Grid market selling, for example, cryptography. Security is a major issue overhanging smart grid and remains a key selling point.

I am not a fan of FUD though it certainly works. But let?s get real. In Europe for example we?re getting all excited about the need for smart grid standards to prevent tampering with our energy supply. Yet Russia could turn off a gas tap and we?d be screwed within weeks, no smart grid required. Whichever way you look at it ? energy reduction is going to be very big business indeed. The tail is starting to wag the dog.

So Symantec has plenty of potential upside in Green IT near term, and smart grids longer term. If you’re interested in learning more about the company’s efforts and products in energy efficiency check out the Monkchips post, which also talk to the fact the firm needs to improve its sustainability reporting in order to have a stronger voice in the sustainability conversation. I know many of you are CSR reporting nuts…


Power Companies and Smart Grids: a Greenmonk link roundup

One of our prospects asked about relevant Greenmonk research? in her space- that is: utility company customer care and billing. So Tom compiled a few links and fired them over. It seems to me though that you might also find the roundup interesting. So here are some links showing you the kind of thing Greenmonk is thinking and researching about in terms of Smart Grids and how they will affect utility companies and their customers:


Grid Watch: smartgrids meet smartcomms

New Meter

We have pointed to the ongoing convergence of wireless communications and smart grids before, for example in this video about Tropos Networks and in Tom’s stump pitch on sustainability and mobility, but some news from this week throws the trend into stark relief.

Carbon Trust investments, the VC arm of a non-profit organisation working to lower the UK’s carbon emissions just announced it is to invest in a network management company called Arieso.

Why would Carbon Trust do that? After all, what does mobile network optimisation have to do with energy management? According to the newenergyworldnetwork story:

Rachael Nutter of CT Investment Partners said, ?Energy consumption in mobile phone base stations is a significant proportion of the opex of mobile operators, as high as 50 per cent in the most extreme cases.

That’s the thing about sustainability – it doesn’t need to be seen as a cost center… rather it can, and should be, part of optimisation activities. Lower carbon, lower energy, cheaper mobile roll-outs. What’s not to like?

If you’ve been following GreenMonk for a while you should know we’re wedded to bottom up sustainability approaches – “from the roots up” as we call it, which is one reason we’ve sponsored, and contributed to the awesome UK HomeCamp community, founded by Chris Dalby, who now works at UK smartmeter firm Current Cost. Seems things are moving along there too.

One of the key players attempting to drive home automation as an activity for “civilians” is ZigBee. It just started working with GreenPeak, which specialises in ultra low power mobile silicon chips, designed to be used in battery-free devices. [See a theme emerging? ;-)] No batteries isn’t just a lower carbon play though- it also means less heavy metals and toxic chemicals. What’s the news? GreenPeak is now Zigbee compliant.

Finally some smart grid news.

Swiss smart meter player just took $165m in new funding.

Could be smart timing.

The Climate Group, sponsored by GE, Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and others? just called on Barack Obama to adopt a goal of providing every household with real time information about their electricity use.

Meanwhile last week Microsoft hohm and Ford announced they are working together on home energy to Electric Vehicle management and integration, to help people that own these EVs charge them cost effectively. Its worth pointing to one of my favourite GreenMonk interviews in that light- we talk to Greg Frenette of Ford about EV smart grid convergence.

It really is time to run the first HomeCamp US!

Ironically enough, when I searched for a creativecommons attribution only shot of a smartmeter i found one from my colleague Michael Cot? in Austin. His utility called it a smartmeter, but unless he? has access to the data generated I don’t see how it deserves the name. But that’s a subject for a different blog, and indeed a line of Greenmonk research.

The really keen eyed among you may have noticed how many of the links above come from newnet news. No accident. I love the feed. Its like a shot of good news tequila every morning – something to warm your spirits.


On Open Data, Open Source, UK Libel Law and Evidence-based Sustainability

?When the facts change, I change my mind.? What do you do, sir?? – John Maynard Keynes

As is often the case, someone asks for a written answer to a question, but then fails to use the material. The great thing about blogs is that they make it very easy to make sure such content isn’t wasted. So here are some thoughts on the GreenMonk? mission and sustainability more broadly.

We set up Greenmonk with the explicit intention of lobbying for open data and open source for better environmental outcomes.

Too much of science today has been privatised, or else unhelpfully politicised. Private sector companies hide evidence that doesn’t suit their goals. The right to kill a piece of research is quite common. It happens in the industry analyst sector too- some IT vendors demand the right to kill research they disagree with before signing a contract with a firm. Needless to say RedMonk doesn’t sign up to these contracts.

As we have seen in East Anglia however climate scientists can also massage figures to suit models they’re putting forward. Its not just private firms that have an agenda.

But science should be about open shared peer review of the data, and associated theories. Without open, uncensored science we can’t solve the world’s pressing environmental problems.

In the UK, libel law is regularly abused to shut down dissenting voices. Its not just randy footballers that try and abuse the law. Pushing back against the status quo are organisations such as Sense About Science, which is backing the National Petition for Libel Law Reform.

I just want to make it clear – science needs to be open to peer review, whether privately or publicly funded. Organisations such as the IPCC needs to be about science first, and lobbying second.

So that’s science and open data. What about sharing the source code?

Makers and doers are often “hackers” working on shared problems with shared tools. Homecamp, for example, is a group of people working on home automation to reduce home energy footprints- some of the people in the community work in sustainability related firms such as CurrentCost and pachube but by no means all of them. We need to hack to experiment with this stuff- before it can be packaged and rolled out to the mainstream.

Tim O’Reilly talks about Alpha Geeks as leading edge indicators of the future. Generally they are open source oriented, because they like to get their hands dirty and make things.

The data needs to be open, the source code needs to be open, the barriers to entry need to be lowered – if we are to build a low emissions, low pollution future. Real science is an architecture of participation.

disclosure: Thomas Dolby cover link courtesy of wikipedia.