You’ve heard “my body is a temple,” but how about “my house is a body?”
The wall, as the CU team of engineers and architects proposes, would use channels of advanced polymers to naturally heat or cool homes similar to how the human body regulates its temperature.
“What we are envisioning is actually having a wall that has a vascular network inside,” said Kurt Maute, an associate professor with CU’s aerospace engineering sciences department.
The team of engineers assigned think that the living wall could have commercial applications in 20 years.
NRDC just named 22 “Smarter Cities” nationwide. Check out the research methodology on their site. You can also see where Boulder qualified for certain of their criteria.
To assess the efforts to limit municipal demand of energy and provide clean energy, Smarter Cities surveyed city governments about the city’s aggregate kilowatt hour consumption, top three fuel sources, whether it had completed a greenhouse gas inventory, energy conservation programs (including targets for reduced consumption) and processes to measure energy conservation. The Smarter Cities team sought advice from experts both in and outside of NRDC to develop its plan. “It was important to establish a clear and reasonable description of the factor by which the Smarter Cities team would compare cities’ performance—a description that was researchable, meaning there was comprehensive, pertinent and reliable data to collect,” says Brandi Colander, an NRDC attorney with NRDC’s Air and Energy programs and a Smarter Cities project advisor.
Well, there’s not a much more boring phrase than “franchise agreement” out there, but now would be a good time to educate yourself on Boulder’s Xcel franchise agreement options (and those laid out by the City Council) and what’s going on, because a lot of energy and tax dollars are in the mix and that affects everyone — for the next 20 years. On Tuesday, City Council will decide whether or not to put the franchise agreement renewal on the ballot this year, but not before they hear a lot from the president of Xcel in Colorado: Read more
President Barack Obama has recently announced a federal loan guarantee to Abound Solar, a Loveland-based company that has a manufacturing facility in Longmont.
The company, which employs 360 people in Colorado and manufactures thin film solar panels, will nearly double its employee base in the state, Abound Solar spokesman Mark Chen said.
He said it’s not yet clear exactly how the new jobs will break down between Abound Solar’s Longmont production facility, its headquarters in Loveland and its research lab in Fort Collins.
But he said Longmont would most likely be the biggest beneficiary since the bulk of production is done in the city. The company will be able to add two production lines to the one it already has in Longmont as a result of the loan guarantee, Chen said.
The White House said the project marks the first time this new manufacturing technology for Cadmium-Telluride panels will be deployed commercially anywhere in the world.
It will produce photovoltaic panels using an innovative process in which thin films of Cadmium-Telluride are deposited onto the glass panels, according to the White House. The technology reduces overall product costs.
Abound Solar is a member of PV Cycle, an organization dedicated to creating “truly sustainable energy solutions that take into consideration the environmental impacts of all stages of the product life cycle, from raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling.”
Learn more about the Abound Solar expansion in Longmont and the federal loan guarantee at the Camera.
In a city where there are tons of renters, it’s tough to motivate people to spend money on saving energy. That’s part of why the University of Colorado’s Environmental Center is helping students living off campus chip away at their energy bills by visiting their homes to show them how:
Hosted by CU’s Environmental Center, Student and Community Outreach for Renter Efficiency — or SCORE — teaches students living in certain Boulder neighborhoods how to lower their energy bills by making their homes more efficient through simple and inexpensive adjustments, such as using energy efficient light bulbs or setting thermostats to optimal temperatures. Read more
Last year, Jeff and Rachel Hohensee’s winter energy bill was $500.
This year, they don’t even have an energy bill. Jeff, a consultant on sustainable-living topics at Natural Capitalism Solutions, was feeling guilty about his energy-wasting home, so he and his wife set out on a two-year project that transformed it into a net-zero home–meaning it generates more energy than it uses.
They started with easy fixes like switching to CFL bulbs and low-flow showerheads, and getting an energy audit to see where air was leaking from their home. They used caulk and insulation foam to fill the leaky areas.
Eventually, they hired insulators to add materials to the home’s walls. Jeff says they took the process to a higher level by hiring someone from Standard Renewable Energy to follow the insulators with an infrared gun. The infrared photos would show areas where the initial insulation was too sparse, and more was added. Read more
Somebody just came by and dropped off this old copy of Le Monde from 6 September, 2009. Pretty neat.
Boulder’s looking at upgrading its aging hydroelectric turbine in Boulder Canyon, but even with a federal discount, it would cost the city about $4 million. That debate breaks down into a pretty easy-to-understand $4-ish million now or probably $5.2-ish million later — and City Council will address that tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 6 p.m. Read more
Here’s a Friday story for you:
Xcel applied to the Public Utilities Commission to raise rates and, to justify a rate hike, included some questionable financial items, according to the Denver Post:
Company-provided noshes at Xcel Energy — coffee, tea, bottled water, bagels and doughnuts — came to about $173,000 last year.
The utility’s Colorado unit included that sum, along with $307,000 for employee-recognition awards and parties, in its application to the state Public Utilities Commission for a $182 million rate increase.
Not so fast, said PUC officials. The costs … “are not appropriate to charge ratepayers and should be absorbed by PSCo’s shareholders.”
Bad news is, the doughnuts didn’t account for much of the total costs that Xcel sent over for a rate hike, so you’re still getting it. Get the whole Xcel donut rate hike story at the Post. Or you can spend your Friday speculating as to how much of the proposed (and forsaken) solar rate increase would have been donut-related.
More fun with utilities on BigGreenBoulder:
|Utility exec: Too many hybrids could blow up the grid!||Xcel finishes building Boulder’s smart grid|