Photo credit Unhindered by Talent
Here is this Friday’s Green Numbers round-up:
Photo credit jurvetson
One of the topics which I responded to on the recent IBM Eco Jam was “IT’s Central Role In Managing Energy & Carbon”.
This topic was raised by another analyst (again IBM has asked me not to mention participants by name but if the analyst in question sees this and wants me to name him/her, I have no problem so doing) when s/he posted the following:
Forrester’s research on energy & carbon management systems predicts that IT organizations will take on a central role in choosing, owning, and operating these systems. The challenge of managing energy & carbon emissions will increasingly be information-related, and it’s enterprise IT organizations that have the expertise to install and operate software systems of record across the entire company. Just like systems for managing customers (CRM), money, materials (ERP), and employees, carbon & energy management systems will collect, integrate, analyze, and report on the newest set of assets/liabilities that will be used by internal and external stakeholders to judge corporate performance.
Now, I have no issues whatsoever with IT organisations having a role in choosing Energy Management systems. IT’s function would involve installing and supporting the software so naturally they’d have a say in its purchase. They’d also have a role in crafting requirements documents and reviewing responses but “owning and operating” these systems? I don’t think so.
I realise part of this has to do with empire building ambitions by IT but really, since when was energy management a core competence of IT?
I absolutely realise that sustainability is all about information and data, and certainly IT has a role in ensuring that this information is always available but asking IT to own and operate energy management systems is, frankly, ludicrous. You might as well ask IT to own and operate the financial management systems.
So if not IT, who then should run these systems? I foresee the rise of a new role – the Energy manager, in companies. The Energy manager will likely report to the CFO, the COO or the CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer). The energy manager’s role will be to minimise the company’s energy (& probably water) footprint and to report savings in monetary, kWh and tons CO2.
With the increasing regulatory landscape around carbon emissions (i.e. the Carbon Reduction Commitment in the UK), carbon measurement and reporting will become mandatory for most companies. In that environment having someone specialised in energy management, responsible for this function will start to seem like a very good idea.
Photo credit Tom Raftery
I participated in last week’s IBM Global Eco Jam.
As you can see from above, the event generated 2080 posts from a total of 3987 logins.
I mentioned previously that the quality of the participants in the jam was really impressive, but what were attendees most interested in talking about during the jam?
The screenshot above is a tag cloud of the themes discussed during the jam. And while it gives some idea of the relative importance of topics explored during the jam, I decided to see if I could dig a little deeper into the numbers.
Doing a View Source of this page tells me the pixel size of each of the terms – see below:
12px – air
12px – business_case
12px – city
12px – collaboration_tools
12px – cooling
12px – electricity
12px – energy_savings
12px – improve_energy efficient efficiency
12px – public_transportation
12px – reporting
12px – software
18px – business_processes
18px – carbon_footprint
18px – climate_change
18px – efficient
18px – energy_management
18px – energy_usage
18px – goals
18px – incentives
18px – mobility
18px – smart_grid
18px – solar
18px – working_home
22px – buildings
22px – cities
22px – data_centers
22px – energy_consumption
22px – energy_efficiency
22px – green
22px – power
22px – reduce_energy
22px – supply_chain
22px – sustainability
22px – water
22px – workplace
Unfortunately they only seem to fall into three sizes – 12px, 18px and 22px – so not hugely granular, still it is something.
Clicking on the tags to see the posts doesn’t give an immediate indication of why some are larger than others unfortunately. All of the 22px tags contain 10 posts but so do the 18px and the 12px! Nor does it appear to refer to the number of replies to posts.
It is equally unclear how the tags were arrived at in the first place, apart from this explanation on the site – “A special text-mining tool has identified themes across all of the discussions in Global Eco-efficiency Jam. The theme cloud below illustrates major concepts based on frequency of word use”.
When creating a new post, or replying to previous posts there was no option to tag your responses.
35 posts were identified as being “Hot Ideas” – no idea how or why they were identified as such. It appears to have been a manual process. The hot ideas which generated the most responses (those with >30 replies) were, in decreasing order:
Getting Around – Mobility Services? – 79 replies
Cultural barriers to online collaboration – 58 replies
Greening Your Business Processes for Innovation – 47 replies
Green IT & Cloud Computing – 39 replies
Citizen engagement – 33 replies
Real world customer examples – 32 replies
IT’s Central Role In Managing Energy & Carbon – 32 replies
Integration to improve energy and eco-efficiency – 31 replies
Some of the Hot Ideas had as few as two responses, so the Hot Ideas designation doesn’t appear to come from response number!
Still, despite the lack of transparency around the process, it was an incredibly worthwhile event. I ended up contributing 45 posts (2% of the posts!) which received 46 responses. I learned loads and would definitely participate if IBM decide to hold another (hint, hint!).
Photo credit Tom Raftery
I published this post on the IBM Global Eco Jam last week and it generated some interesting feedback so I thought I’d re-publish it here too to solicit your thoughts –
I was at the NewNet CleanTech Investors Summit in London last November.
At this event a poll was taken asking which CleanTech issues were perceived as being most important/having the most potential by the investment community – the answers were Energy Efficiency and Energy Storage.
I have seen several posts here on efficiency but none on energy storage so I said I’d start one.
What are the most interesting energy storage solutions people are seeing emerging.
I’ll kick off –
The two most interesting I have seen are
1. Thermal storage using heavily insulated bricks (!) for domestic energy storage (resistive heating) and
2. Metal air batteries – zinc air batteries are scheduled to come to market later this year. Zinc is abundant, cheap, non-toxic, non-explosive and readily recyclable. Zinc air batteries have an energy density about two to three times that of lithium ion batteries.
With that energy density and price point, it should be possible to build utility scale storage (allowing renewables to store excess energy when the wind is blowing strongly, and sell it when the wind drops or demand increases, for example).
Are there any other options people are seeing (and let’s leave pumped hydro out of this discussion – it is old tech, expensive and has significant environmental impacts).
One of the respondents pointed me to news out of Stanford in December that Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly produce ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in from everyday paper!
What other interesting forms of energy storage have you come across?
I participated in the recent IBM Global Eco Jam and there were some fantastic discussions there.
One of the discussions surprised me though – people were still talking about unplugging mobile phone chargers as if that was a significant problem. It is not. On the contrary, it is a dangerous distraction.
Watch the video above. Seriously, do. I’ll wait.
The mobile phone chargers I tested all consumed 0.1W or less of electricity when left plugged in and not charging a phone. That is minute.
Sure, I get that if you add up all the millions of mobile phone chargers across the country, all those millions of 0.1W adds up to a significant load. I get that. I do.
However, if you change one 50W halogen bulb for a 3.6W LED alternative that is the equivalent of unplugging over 460 mobile phone chargers. And that’s just from changing one bulb. How many bulbs do you have in your house? How many houses are there across the country containing how many bulbs?
Or forget light bulbs. What about the electricity draw of other devices in your house when they are plugged in but not operating (this is called standby power!)?
Well, my microwave consumes 3.5W when plugged in and not in use (that’s 35 mobile phone chargers worth), my printer draws 5.9W when on and not actually printing (59 mobile phone chargers worth), my Nintendo Wii draws a whopping 9.5W when on and not in use (95 mobile phone chargers worth), even cradles for cordless home phones can be consuming eight times more electricity than mobile phone chargers!
Mobile phone chargers, for some reason, seem to have been picked up by people as the bad boys when it comes to standby power. That is a dangerous fallacy. Why dangerous? People who are trying to do the right thing are ensuring that they unplug their mobile phone chargers, potentially unaware that their microwave/printer/games console is consuming orders of magnitude more power than the phone charger.
Don’t get me wrong, sure you shouldn’t leave your phone charger plugged in, but it is likely that there are far larger standby draws in your home or office you should be aware of. Educate yourself. Find out which of your devices draws the most power
How do you know which devices consume the most power? Find a little plug-in electricity meter to measure the power draw of your appliances, they are quite cheap and easy to find online – check here, here and here, for example. In some cases your local utility company may even supply them.
One of the things I do is to plug multiple devices into a power strip with a switch, this way I can quickly kill their power draw by flipping a single switch.
But stop talking about unplugging mobile phone chargers – by themselves they are a minuscule draw. Unplug everything.
Today is the final day of IBM’s Global Eco-efficiency Jam (it finishes at 6pm CET today) and it has been awesome.
There have been hundreds of discussions on all manner of Eco-related topics – everything from LEED certification, to Green software engineering, to Energy Efficiency certificates to Smart cities and collaboration.
People have been asking questions like:
If environmental reporting and efficiency actions becomes the norm, what kinds of incentives and rebates are available to help improve the time to value and return on investments?
Currently this question has had 8 replies.
The question with the most replies (right now) is –
Would you use a mobility car service – like the bicycle rental scheme in Paris but with a small, probably electric vehicle – rather than public transportation or a taxi?
and so far it has had 78 responses!
Often answers to questions directly contradict one another – such as the following answers to the mobility question above:
Yes, I would. But more for fun or visiting a city. Visiting clients on e-bike wearing business dress is difficult
When Montreal introduced its version of V?lib, called Bixi, most people anticipated tourists would be the prime users. But looking around the city on a nice summer day, most the bikes are used by men and women in business suits, going from one building to the next. For short rides of 2-4 km, you needn’t even break a sweat.
These kind of contradictory answers are inevitable when the participants come from over 100 countries reflecting their country’s culture and infrastructure.
Other discussions were more straightforward
Looking beyond basic power policies on the operating system, do you have any form of PC power management operating on your PC at home or at work?
There is plenty of discussion on water as well with people discussing the merits of water metering, water harvesting and town/city water policies.
While I am contributing a bit to the discussions (I have added 39 posts and had 37 replies so far), I am learning a huge amount and coming into contact with participants I might never otherwise have met.
IBM should make this a regular event, no question.
[Disclosure] IBM asked me not to use the names of Jam participants in any blog posts I make here because IBM hadn’t sought their permission so I removed the names from the image above and didn’t credit people quoted above. If I have used your content and you are happy to have me credit you, let me know in the comments or by email ([email protected]) and I’m more than happy to do so.
Will Apple move into home energy management, and if they do, can they make it sexy and front-of-mind for everyone?
I made this point in a reply to a post earlier on the IBM Global Eco Jam and I thought it could well do with being fleshed out to a full post here to see what others think.
In case you were hiding under a rock yesterday, to tremendous fanfare and hype, Apple launched their latest device, the iPad.
The extremely desirable tablet-like iPad is aimed squarely at the home user market, what with its base price of $499, its beautiful form-factor and its concentration on music, video, games, etc.
While you probably did hear about the iPad, you may not be aware that Apple has lodged a patent application for a Home Energy Management system, joining Google’s PowerMeter and Microsoft’s Hohm.
Apple’s application talks of using powerline communications to control appliances’ energy consumption around the house.
Unlike Google and Microsoft though, Apple have an amazing track record of making sexy devices/applications. If there is anyone who can make home energy management sexy, it would be Apple software running on the iPad.
Let’s hope they make it so – what are the chances?
Well, the IBM Global Eco Jam has been underway nearly 24 hours at this point – how is it going?
It has been incredibly active, I have to say. You can see from the screenshot I took earlier this morning that the number of posts was 987 at that point – I just checked now and the number has gone up to 1037! These are across many themes ranging, as you can see in the tag cloud above, from solar panels, through to energy efficiency and buildings.
I have been involved in some terrific discussions on KPI’s, the merits of aisle containment in data centers, the red herring that is phone charger unplugging and reasonably heated discussion on the place of IT in energy management in organisations!
What has really impressed me is the level of expertise of all the participants (except those arguing with me about the role of IT in Energy management 😉 ) and the amount of time people are dedicating to it. Many of the participants have contributed north of 10 posts.
This really is an international gathering of incredible energy mavens, selflessly collaborating (and simultaneously learning) for everyone’s mutual benefit.
It is amazing to be allowed to be part of such an event.
Btw, if you want to take part and your organization’s name is not listed, request an invitation by sending an e-mail to [email protected] with “RSVP” in the subject line.
Photo credit justmakeit
The IBM Global Eco Efficiency Jam kicks off this afternoon (January 27th) at 9am EST (14:00 GMT, 15:00 here in CEST) and continues right on through until Friday afternoon.
According to the IBM site the Jam is
a web-based event which will provide an unrivalled opportunity for thousands of public and private sector sustainability leaders, from medium to large organizations around the world, to pool their knowledge and experiences through a series of focused discussions and exchanges of best practices with each other, with practitioners and influencers and with acknowledged subject matter experts.
The objective of this jam is to enable senior representatives from organizations of all sizes to cooperatively determine the best actions that can be taken to meet our goals for a sustainable future for our organizations, our customers, our suppliers, our stakeholders and society at large
There are almost 1000 companies from 45 countries around the world (ranging from Argentia to Brazil to Finland to Hungary to India to Malaysia to Peru to Slovakia to UK to USA to Vietnam) signed up to participate. Typically in IBM Jams several reps from each company participate. The types of roles who have signed up for this Jam include: CIO, Chief Sustainability Officer, COO, Facilities Manager, CFO, Manufacturing Operations, Environmental Affairs, Fleet Manager, Real estate and site operations, IT manager, data center manager, and city planner.
More than 250 subject matter experts from IBM, Green Sigma Coalition partners, industry analysts, energy & environment experts, and leading edge companies are taking part. Some of the non-IBM experts who have signed up to share their expertise are: