2023-07-31. Electrified cement could turn houses and roads into nearly limitless batteries. [https://www.science.org/content/article/electrified-cement-could-turn-houses-and-roads-nearly-limitless-batteries] By Robert F. Service, Science. Excerpt: …Researchers have come up with a new way to store electricity in cement, using cheap and abundant materials. If scaled up, the cement could hold enough energy in a home’s concrete foundation to fulfill its daily power needs. Scaled up further, electrified roadways could power electric cars as they drive. And if scientists can find a way to do this all cheaply the advance might offer a nearly limitless capacity for storing energy from intermittent renewable sources, such as solar and wind. So far, the cement devices are small, only big enough to power a few LED lightbulbs. But efforts are already underway to scale them up. …The cement devices are a kind of simplified battery called supercapacitors. They consist of two electrically conductive plates separated by an ion-conducting electrolyte and a thin membrane. As the device is charged, positively charged ions from the electrolyte accumulate on one plate, while negatively charged ions accumulate on the other. The amount of power storage depends on the total surface area of the supercapacitor’s conductive plates. For decades, researchers have tried to incorporate them into structural materials, such as the concrete used in roads and buildings, or the carbon composites used in automotive and aircraft bodies. Unlike today’s best batteries, supercapacitors typically use nonflammable electrolytes, making them safer….
2023-07-13. Scientist Invents the ‘World’s Whitest Paint’ To Cool Down Your House. [https://www.entrepreneur.com/green-entrepreneur/scientist-invents-the-worlds-whitest-paint-to-cool-down/455739] By Jonathan Small, Entrepreneur. Excerpt: A scientist at Purdue University concocted a white paint that can cool down buildings and prevent global temperatures from rising. Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering, created white paint that reflects 98% of the sun’s rays away from the Earth’s surface. When applied to the roof of structures, the paint cools down surfaces as much as eight degrees during the day and up to 19 degrees cooler at night, according to a report in The New York Times. “If you were to use this paint to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet [93 m2], we estimate that you could get a cooling power up to 10 kilowatts. That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said….
2023-07-11. Heat Down Below Is Making the Ground Shift Under Chicago. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/11/climate/chicago-underground-heat.html] By Raymond Zhong, The New York Times. Excerpt: Underneath downtown Chicago’s soaring Art Deco towers, its multilevel roadways and its busy subway and rail lines, the land is sinking, and not only for the reasons you might expect. Since the mid-20th century, the ground between the city surface and the bedrock has warmed by 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit on average, according to a new study out of Northwestern University. All that heat, which comes mostly from basements and other underground structures, has caused the layers of sand, clay and rock beneath some buildings to subside or swell by several millimeters over the decades, enough to worsen cracks and defects in walls and foundations. …In big cities worldwide, humans’ burning of fossil fuels is raising the mercury at the surface. But heat is also pouring out of basements, parking garages, train tunnels, pipes, sewers and electrical cables and into the surrounding earth, a phenomenon that scientists have taken to calling “underground climate change.”…
2023-06-06. A Heat Pump Might Be Right for Your Home. Here’s Everything to Know. [https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/guides/heat-pump-buying-guide/] By Thom Dunn, Wirecutter, New York Times. Excerpt: Heat pumps are good for your wallet—and the world. They’re the cheapest and most efficient way to handle both heating and cooling for your home, no matter where you live. They’re also better for the environment. In fact, most experts agree they’re one of the best ways for homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint and reap the benefits of a greener future without sacrificing comfort. In other words, they’re a win-win….
2023-03-19. Colleges Showcase Mass Timber, in Research and on Display. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/14/business/mass-timber-universities.html] By Lisa Prevost, The New York Times. Excerpt: Mass timber, an engineered wood product that offers durability and sustainability benefits, has become increasingly prominent at colleges across the country, where it is included not only as a concept in the curriculum but also as a material in campus buildings. Experts say universities are helping to increase awareness of mass timber — layers of wood bonded with glue or nails — by demonstrating its potential as a low-carbon alternative to steel and concrete. …Long used in Europe, cross-laminated panels are so strong they are suitable for walls, roofs and flooring. And they have a number of other benefits: They capture carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere; they are more sustainable than other construction materials, like steel and concrete; and they are exposed, adding aesthetic appeal….
2023-03-10. A Huge City Polluter? Buildings. Here’s a Surprising Fix. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/03/10/climate/buildings-carbon-dioxide-emissions-climate.html] By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: On cold mornings in New York City, boilers in the basements of thousands of buildings kick on, burning natural gas or oil to provide heat for the people upstairs. Carbon dioxide from these boilers wafts up chimneys and into the air, one of the city’s biggest sources of global warming emissions. …At the Grand Tier, a 30-story apartment tower on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the carbon dioxide from its two giant gas boilers is captured, cooled to a liquid and then trucked to a concrete factory in Brooklyn. There, the carbon is mixed with cement and sealed into concrete blocks, where it can’t heat the atmosphere. “This is the first carbon capture system on a building that we’re aware of anywhere in the world,” said Brian Asparro, the chief operating officer of CarbonQuest, the company behind the system. “And we expect that it won’t be the last.” …A sweeping new climate law in New York City aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from large buildings 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Starting next year, buildings that exceed emissions limits will face steadily escalating fines. …that has turned New York City into a laboratory of sorts, forcing change and innovation as property owners scramble to avoid huge penalties. …New York State is currently funding a round of novel electric heat pump and efficiency projects that could serve as models for other buildings….
2023-02-21. In Search for Sustainable Materials, Developers Turn to Hemp. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/21/business/hemp-construction-buildings.html] By Kevin Williams, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Interest in hemp as a viable substitute for construction material is growing as developers seek greener building options. Hemp can be used in block form, as it was in the building of the sports center, or poured like traditional concrete using hempcrete, a combination of lime, hemp fibers and a chemical binder. Hemp panels can also be used. …Hemp is already used in a variety of industrial products, including rope, textiles and biofuel. But hemp construction is hampered by high costs and a supply chain that is not fully formed. And proponents must overcome resistance to a product that is often mistakenly tied to recreational drug use. …A building constructed from ready-to-use hemp blocks can chop 20 to 30 percent off the typical production schedule, with no need for cement joints or the drying time required with traditional concrete blocks….
2022-12-02. Germans Have Seen the Future, and It’s a Heat Pump. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/02/world/europe/germany-heat-pumps.html] By Melissa Eddy and Patrick Junker, The New York Times. Excerpt: The boxy machines look and function like large air-conditioners on reverse, but Germans hope they hold the key to Europe’s push for fossil-free heating. …After decades of heating their homes with relatively cheap Russian natural gas, Germans are facing exorbitant prices for energy. …Using a technology that dates to the 1970s, these boxy machines have suddenly been embraced across Germany — so much so that heat pumps are often sold out, and the wait for a qualified installer can last months. …Heat pumps work like a reverse air-conditioner, using a large fan that draws air past tubes with refrigerant to extract warmth from the outside environment. The cost for the electricity needed to power a heat pump is about 35 percent cheaper than natural gas, according to Verivox, a company that compares energy prices for German consumers. The savings are even greater for those who can run their heat pumps off solar panels. …Many Germans are still wary of the high purchase and installation price, which at 25,000 to 30,000 euros can run up to three times that of a gas furnace. To encourage people to make the change, the government is offering subsidies that can cover up to a quarter of the upfront price of a unit, along with subsidies for other energy-efficiency improvements up to a total of €60,000….
2022-09-19. A Key to Controlling Emissions: More Buildings in a City’s Unused Spaces. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/climate/emissions-construction-buildings.html] By Peter Wilson, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Elephant Park, a three-acre plot of fountains, swings and slides and open space at the center of a large redevelopment [in London] which has seen the Brutalist architecture of a 1,200-home public housing estate replaced by a new neighborhood that by 2026 will hold about 2,924 apartments and townhouses. …One resident walking her dog complained recently that her rent is becoming unaffordable, before quickly adding that she is delighted to have a supermarket and gym in the same building as her one-bedroom apartment, with rail and Underground stations right next door and shops, bars, a yoga studio, a library and medical facilities sprinkled through the development. …“It is an absolutely exemplary example of what we need to be doing to make cities greener, and we need to be doing it quickly and all around the world,” said Kate Meyrick, a British-born urban consultant based in Brisbane, Australia, who studies urban developments. “The developers were primarily just trying to make a great place for people to live, and they have achieved that with a really interesting mix of spaces and services,” she said. “But a byproduct is that they have also created real climate benefits.”…
2022-09-14. An Oily Challenge: Evict Stinky Old Furnaces in Favor of Heat Pumps. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/oil-gas-furnace-heat-pump.html] By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In the United States, the Biden administration is trying to hasten that shift with billions of dollars in tax rebates to electrify buildings and make them more energy efficient. The global energy crisis, spurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has also hastened that shift. In 2021, sales of heat pumps grew significantly in the United States and several other major markets, according to research published in Nature. It’s important because emissions from buildings — primarily for heat and hot water — account for more than a quarter of the nation’s emissions. In New York City, it’s roughly 70 percent, and under a 2019 city law, most large buildings have to drastically reduce their numbers starting in 2024. If they exceed their emissions limits, they will be fined. Enter a new business opportunity. All summer, the heat pumps have also cooled the apartments, since they function as air-conditioners as well as heaters. This winter will be her first without the smelly, troublesome oil burners in the basement. She hopes her bills will be lower too. Ms. Nelson converted her building with the help of Donnel Baird, an entrepreneur who grew up nearby and founded a company called Bloc Power. His contractors installed the equipment. Ms. Nelson rents it on a long-term lease. …The Inflation Reduction Act, the climate law signed in August by President Biden, offers up to $8,000 in tax rebates for property owners to purchase electric heat pumps and make energy efficiency improvements (think insulation and better windows). …New York City’s 24 power plants run mostly on methane gas and fuel oil, spewing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and polluting the air nearby. New York City aspires to have what it calls a fully “clean energy” electricity grid by 2040.…
2022-09-09. Major Investment in Air-Conditioning Needed to Address Future Heat Waves. [https://eos.org/articles/major-investment-in-air-conditioning-needed-to-address-future-heat-waves] By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: During Europe’s mid-July heat wave—when temperatures topped 40°C—countries such as Spain and Germany recorded thousands of excess deaths as people succumbed to heat-related injuries and illnesses. Earlier this year, India and Pakistan experienced their hottest March on record, with an unusually early heat wave that killed at least 90 people. By the 2050s, large swaths of the world will need some form of air-conditioning (AC) to ride out these extreme heat waves or face deadly consequences, according to new research published in Energy and Buildings. But few countries have anywhere near enough cooling capacity to protect residents. …When calculating energy demand, the researchers assumed that increased air-conditioning usage will come in the form of ductless mini split units—wall-mounted air conditioners designed to cool a single room. However, these units have a high up-front cost, and in developing countries, cheaper, less efficient window units will likely fill the demand, said Shelie Miller, an environmental engineer at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study. “If anything, [the study’s researchers] may be underestimating the electricity demand because they are assuming a much more efficient unit than window ACs.” But blanketing the world in even high-efficiency air conditioners would strain electrical grids and generate greenhouse gases. Air conditioner manufacturing and usage account for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than the aviation industry produces, said Jason Woods, a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory who was not involved in the study.…
2022-08-22. My Job Is to Police Energy Use in My Office. Here’s How We Got to Net Zero. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/opinion/energy-office-buildings-net-zero-climate.html] By Carlos Gamarra, The New York Times, guest essay. Excerpt: …by paying close attention to every aspect of our energy use, my co-workers and I have seen how even the smallest actions can have an impact on climate change. We now take pride in the fact that the office’s electricity bill is $0. What’s more, the local utility pays our organization, the Houston Advanced Research Center, over $1,000 a year in rebates for the energy our solar panels provide to the power grid. …Some 40 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings and construction, and commercial buildings, which have an average life span of 50 to 60 years, account for around 20 percent of U.S. energy use. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that on average, 30 percent of the energy used in these commercial buildings is wasted.…
2022-08-02. Global need for cooling to overtake need for heating. [https://www.creds.ac.uk/global-need-for-cooling-to-overtake-need-for-heating/] By CREDS newsletter, Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Excerpt: Historically, humanity has had a greater need for space heating than space cooling. However, our global analysis shows that the need for cooling will overtake heating in the next decade. …changes have been driven by increasing temperatures, but also increases in population in warmer parts of the world. However, at present, millions of people don’t have access to heating and cooling or can’t afford to run it, leaving them to suffer uncomfortable, unhealthy temperatures. Providing zero carbon cooling is essential to avoiding more carbon emissions and making global warming even worse. A new paper, joint authored by CREDS researchers Tadj Oreszczyn, Ian Hamilton, and Harry Kennard, Population-weighted degree-days: The global shift between heating and cooling, argues that accurate modelling of heating and cooling demands will be essential for both the management of energy demand as the earth’s climate warms as well as the provision of healthy and comfortable internal environments.… [Should all new air conditioning be solar powered?]
2022-07-28. How the boom in air conditioning is fuelling global heating. [https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/jul/28/how-the-boom-in-air-conditioning-is-fuelling-global-heating] By Jeremy Plester, The Guardian. Excerpt: It is a vicious cycle – as the climate grows hotter, demand for air conditioning is booming and that is helping make the climate even hotter. Air conditioning accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world. Much of that electricity comes from power stations giving off greenhouse gases, and to make matters worse, air conditioners can also leak hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, greenhouse gases thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.…
2022-07-14. Metropolis meltdown: the urgent steps we need to take to cool our sweltering cities. [https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/jul/14/climate-crisis-metropolis-meltdown-urgent-steps-cool-sweltering-cities] By Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian. Excerpt: …As hot, developing nations become more prosperous, and prosperous nations become hotter, the International Energy Agency estimates that the energy spent on air conditioning will triple by 2050 – a growth equivalent to the current electricity demand in the US and Germany combined. …The biggest cause of the urban heat island effect – which can make cities up to 10C warmer than neighbouring rural areas – is the stuff they are made of: hard, dark, dense materials like concrete, brick, tarmac and asphalt, which absorb the sun’s heat during the day, and re-radiate it at night. It sounds too simple a solution, but some argue that one of the most effective measures to cool cities down is to make their surfaces reflect light, rather than absorb it – particularly where you might not think to look: up on the roof. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that making the rooftops of buildings a lighter, more reflective colour could reduce daytime temperatures by up to 3C during a heatwave. That might not sound like a huge difference, but the scientists concluded that such a drop could reduce the number of heat-related deaths by up to a quarter – a massive life-saving measure, given there were over 2,500 excess deaths from heat during the 2020 heatwave. …Research by Nasa has shown that a white roof in New York City can be 23C cooler than a typical black asphalt roof on the hottest day of the summer. The city’s Cool Roofscampaign, which was launched in 2009, has already seen over 900,000 sq metres of roof space covered in a white reflective coating, saving almost 4,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from cooling emissions. …most urbanists agree that planting trees is one of the best ways to cool cities down – without the danger of reflecting sunlight where it isn’t wanted.…
2021-11-10. How ‘Cool Roofs’ Can Help Fight Climate Change. By Christina Poletto. Excerpt: Painted rooftops reflect the heat instead of absorbing it, reducing the need for air-conditioning and cutting greenhouse gases.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/10/realestate/cool-roofs-climate-change-nyc.html]
2021-11-05. Toronto is home to the world’s largest lake-powered cooling system. Here’s how it works. Story by Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Deep lake water cooling (DLWC) is used to cool over 100 buildings in the city. It saves enough electricity to power a town of 25,000 — and it’s so popular the city is pursuing an expansion.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2021/toronto-deep-latke-water-cooling-raptors/]
2021-11-05. A Nuclear-Powered Shower? Russia Tests a Climate Innovation. By Andrew E. Kramer, The New York Times. Excerpt: A remote Siberian town now has its own miniature nuclear plant as a Russian state company tests a new model for residential heating. Some see it as a tool to minimize climate change.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/05/world/europe/russia-nuclear-power-climate-change.html]
2021-11-03. This U.S. city just voted to decarbonize every single building. By Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Following a common council vote, Ithaca, N.Y., is set to be the first city in the country to electrify its buildings with the help of BlocPower… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2021/11/03/ithaca-new-york-decarbonize-electrify/]
2021-09-16. Purdue record for the whitest paint appears in latest edition of ‘Guinness World Records’. From Purdue University News. Excerpt: …the world’s whitest paint, … may dramatically reduce or even eliminate the need for air conditioning. The paint, developed at Purdue University, has earned a Guinness World RecordsTM title. …“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue, in a podcast episode of “This Is Purdue.” Ruan invented the paint with his graduate students. …The formulation that Ruan’s lab created reflects 98.1% of solar radiation at the same time as emitting infrared heat. Because the paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, a surface coated with this paint is cooled below the surrounding temperature without consuming power. Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80%-90% of sunlight and can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings. Using this new paint formulation to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet could result in a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, Purdue researchers showed in a published paper. “That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said.… [https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2021/Q3/purdue-record-for-the-whitest-paint-appears-in-latest-edition-of-guinness-world-records.html]
2021-10-13. Air conditioning in a changing climate: a growing rich-poor divide. By Edward Lempinen, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: As the earth’s climate warms, residents of affluent nations will find some relief with air conditioning, but people in lower-income countries may have to pay vastly more for electricity or do without cooling, says a new study co-authored at the University of California, Berkeley. The research, published today in Nature, provides a dramatic new view of how climate change will aggravate the global gap between rich and poor nations. It found that even as temperatures rise, electricity consumption in the U.S. might increase only slightly by the end of the century. But in some emerging countries, demand for energy could rise dramatically as residents seek access to air conditioning, while others will still be so poor that air conditioning will remain an inaccessible dream, the researchers found. …“While some form of air conditioning is present in 90% of homes in the United States,” Rode explained, “this is currently true for only 5% of homes in India. As climate change causes heat waves to become more intense and frequent in future decades, the data show that electricity to power cooling technology, like fans or air conditioners, remains out of reach for more than half of the global population.”… [https://news.berkeley.edu/2021/10/13/air-conditioning-in-a-changing-climate-a-growing-rich-poor-divide/]
2021-06-30. [https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/30/climate/heat-pumps-climate.html] – Are ‘Heat Pumps’ the Answer to Heat Waves? Some Cities Think So. Source: By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: Electric heat pumps are a way to cool and heat homes at a much lower carbon cost than traditional air-conditioners and furnaces….
2021-06-08. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2021/06/08/cool-roofs-cooler-designs-nations-building-industry-embraces-energy-sustainability/] – ‘Cool’ roofs, cooler designs as the building industry embraces energy sustainability. Source: By Ben Ikenson, The Washington Post Excerpt: …American Institute of Architects in its top-10 list of sustainable projects, reflect the expansive reach of “low-energy” design strategies and the building industry’s embrace of sustainability as a de facto imperative. They’re part of a remarkable evolution, one that could prove crucial since the building sector globally accounts for at least 40 percent of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide — far more than transportation sources. Some advocates think the U.S. sector can achieve net-zero emissions within 20 years, a decade ahead of President Biden’s net-zero goal for the country. The administration’s initiative includes new codes and efficiency standards for homes, appliances and commercial buildings — and a clean electric grid. Dozens of cities and states are moving forward with their own measures….
2019-05-23. This engineered wood radiates heat into space, potentially slashing cooling costs. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/engineered-wood-radiates-heat-space-potentially-slashing-cooling-costs] Excerpt: Households in the U.S. Southwest spend about $400 per year to cool their homes, about twice the national average. Now, a new type of wood that radiates heat into space could offer some relief. If used on a building’s exterior, such as in siding and roofs, the material could drop a building’s temperature as much as 10°C and reduce cooling costs as much as 60%….
2018-09-27. Cooling paint drops the temperature of any surface. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/09/cooling-paint-drops-temperature-any-surface] F Excerpt: Homes in Greece and other sunbaked countries are regularly painted white to reflect as much sunlight as possible. Researchers are building on that age-old strategy with a new wave of “passive radiative cooling” materials that shed sunlight and heat. Most are not easy to apply to existing roofs and walls, but a team of U.S. researchers has now created a cooling paint that can coat just about any surface, lowering its temperature by 6°C. …new materials, Yin says, could drop cooling costs by up to 15% in some climates. “It’s quite a big number,” he says. And with 17% of all residential electricity use in the United States going toward air conditioning, the savings could be substantial. White paints typically reflect only about 80% of visible light, and they still absorb ultraviolet (UV) and near-infrared (near-IR) rays, which warm buildings. To do better, the new materials start by incorporating materials or structures that reflect nearly all the sun’s incoming rays, including near-IR heat and, in some cases, UV as well. They also contain polymers or other substances that, because of their chemical makeup, radiate away additional heat as mid-IR light, at wavelengths of 8 to 13 micrometers. The atmosphere does not block these wavelengths, effectively allowing the materials to shed excess heat into space without warming the surrounding air….
2018-05-15. The World Wants Air-Conditioning. That Could Warm the World. By Kendra Pierre-Louis, The New York Times. Excerpt: …there is growing concern that as other countries adopt America’s love of air-conditioners, the electricity used to power them will overburden electrical grids and increase planet-warming emissions. The number of air-conditioners worldwide is predicted to soar from 1.6 billion units today to 5.6 billion units by midcentury, according to a report issued Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. If left unchecked, by 2050 air-conditioners would use as much electricity as China does for all activities today. Greenhouse gas emissions released by coal and natural gas plants when generating electricity to power those air-conditioners would nearly double, from 1.25 billion tons in 2016 to 2.28 billion tons in 2050, the report says. Those emissions would contribute to global warming, which could further heighten the demand for air-conditioning. Right now air-conditioning is concentrated in a handful of countries, mainly in the United States and Japan, and increasingly in China. While 90 percent of American households have air-conditioning, “When we look in fact at the hot countries in the world, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where about 2.8 billion people live, only about 8 percent of the population owns an air-conditioner,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the energy agency. As incomes in those countries rise, however, more people are installing air-conditioners in their homes. The energy agency predicts much of the growth in air-conditioning will occur in India, China and Indonesia. …The report also envisions a role for renewable energies — especially solar power, which to some degree aligns the peak of its energy generation, in the middle of the day, with the peak demand for cooling…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/climate/air-conditioning.html
2015-10-26. World set to use more energy for cooling than heating. By Jon Henley, The Guardian. Excerpt: Rising demand for air conditioning and refrigeration threatens to make planet hotter and undermine pledges to rein in emissions. …Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. And since cold is still overwhelmingly produced by burning fossil fuels, emission targets agreed at next month’s international climate summit in Paris risk being blown away as governments and scientists struggle with a cruel climate-change irony: cooling makes the planet hotter…. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/26/cold-economy-cop21-global-warming-carbon-emissions
2014-04-13. A molecular approach to solar power. Excerpt: It’s an obvious truism, but one that may soon be outdated: The problem with solar power is that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine. Now a team at MIT and Harvard University has come up with an ingenious workaround — a material that can absorb the sun’s heat and store that energy in chemical form, ready to be released again on demand. This solution is no solar-energy panacea: While it could produce electricity, it would be inefficient at doing so. But for applications where heat is the desired output — whether for heating buildings, cooking, or powering heat-based industrial processes — this could provide an opportunity for the expansion of solar power into new realms. …Unlike fuels that are burned, this system uses material that can be continually reused. It produces no emissions and nothing gets consumed…The adoption of carbon nanotubes to increase materials’ energy storage density is “clever,”…the resulting increase in energy storage density “is surprising and remarkable.” “This result provides additional motivation for researchers to design more and better photochromic compounds and composite materials that optimize the storage of solar energy in chemical bonds,” Kanai says… http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/molecular-approach-to-solar-power. By David L. Chandle, MIT News Office.
2014-01-21. White, Green or Black Roofs? Berkeley Lab Report Compares Economic Payoffs. Excerpt: Looking strictly at the economic costs and benefits of three different roof types—black, white and “green” (or vegetated)—Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have found in a new study that white roofs are the most cost-effective over a 50-year time span. While the high installation cost of green roofs sets them back in economic terms, their environmental and amenity benefits may at least partially mitigate their financial burden. …“We leave open the possibility that other factors may make green roofs more attractive or more beneficial options in certain scenarios,” said Mandel, a graduate student researcher at Berkeley Lab. “The relative costs and benefits do vary by circumstance.” However, unlike white roofs, green roofs do not offset climate change. White roofs are more reflective than green roofs, reflecting roughly three times more sunlight back into the atmosphere and therefore absorbing less sunlight at earth’s surface. By absorbing less sunlight than either green or black roofs, white roofs offset a portion of the warming effect from greenhouse gas emissions. …black roofs pose a major health risk in cities that see high temperatures in the summer. “In Chicago’s July 1995 heat wave a major risk factor in mortality was living on the top floor of a building with a black roof,” Rosenfeld said…. http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2014/01/21/white-green-or-black-roofs-berkeley-lab-report-compares-economic-payoffs/. Julie Chao, UC Berkeley News Center.
2012-04-06. NASA’s New Ultra-green Building | Relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 6, 7, 8, and Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s newest building also is one of the nation’s greenest. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating. Meeting the White House challenge to lead by example, NASA has repurposed its technologies and incorporated them into the new building. Sustainability Base features a Bloom Energy Box, for example, that uses fuel cell technology in a clean electrical-chemical process to produce electricity. The facility also has a water recovery system, derived from one originally designed for the International Space Station, which reduces unnecessary consumption of potable water. Digital press kit of Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/events/2012/sustainability-base-presskit.html Info about Sustainability Base: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/sustainability-base Info about Ames’ green technologies: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/greenspace
2012 Feb 10. Grad students design an ‘EcoFridge’ that uses 40 per cent less energy. By Leslie Guevarra, GreenBiz.com. Excerpt: …Imagine an environmentally friendly household refrigerator that is affordable and helps break people’s energy-wasting habits when they use the appliance.
That is what team of UC Berkeley grad students in engineering and industrial design students from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México envisioned when they were asked by appliance manufacturer Mabe to develop a cost competitive fridge that is kinder to the environment than others available to consumers in Mexico….
…The Cal students…made it their goal to achieve the greatest reduction possible in environmental impacts without upsetting consumers’ perceptions of how a refrigerator should look or radically altering how people use it…. https://www.businessgreen.com/feature/2145011/grad-students-design-ecofridge-cent-energy
2011 Sep 6. Get the Light, Beat the Heat: Berkeley Lab Researchers Develop New Infrared Coating for Windows. by Aditi Risbud, Berkeley Lab News Center. Excerpt: Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have unveiled a semiconductor nanocrystal coating material capable of controlling heat from the sun while remaining transparent. Based on electrochromic materials, which use a jolt of electric charge to tint a clear window, this breakthrough technology is the first to selectively control the amount of near infrared radiation. This radiation, which leads to heating, passes through the film without affecting its visible transmittance. Such a dynamic system could add a critical energy-saving dimension to “smart window” coatings….
2010 August 12. Seeking to Cool Air Conditioning Costs. By David LaGesse, National Geographic News. Excerpt: The air-conditioning industry is starting to feel the heat… it’s getting tougher to squeeze more efficiency from today’s cooling technology, offering little relief anytime soon for consumers fuming from summer electric bills.
…For one, air-conditioning units don’t get replaced as often as, say, light bulbs or even refrigerators. It takes longer for more efficient models to spread into homes or businesses. Researchers also struggle to make new cooling technology as cheaply as the refrigeration pioneered by Willis Carrier in the early 1900s.
…AC units built to U.S. national standards, for one, dehumidify the air—a waste of energy in the arid Southwestern states. The U.S. Congress a few years ago authorized new air conditioning (and heating) standards that will divide the country into North, South and Southwest regions.
… [The Western Cooling Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis] is pursuing several technologies with particular promise in the Southwest. They include radiant cooling that pipes chilled water around a building or systems that use chilly nights to inexpensively produce ice that can help make a building comfortable during the day.
…Some of the most promising advances are in evaporative cooling, which uses water to draw heat from air just as perspiration cools a body. It’s already used in “swamp coolers” that tend to be more popular in drier climates.
…An evaporative cooler developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory uses drying compounds, or desiccants, to pull moisture from the air.
…A “desiccant-enhanced” prototype at the lab needs less than half, and perhaps 90 percent less, of the energy of a conventional air conditioner. It could be in field trials in three years and on the market soon after, says Eric Kozubal at the renewable energy lab.
2010 Jan 28. White Roofs May Successfully Cool Cities. NASA Release 10-016. Excerpt: Painting the roofs of buildings white has the potential to significantly cool off cities and mitigate some impacts of global warming, results of a new study indicate.
The research, the first computer modeling study to simulate the impacts of white roofs on urban areas worldwide, suggests there may be merit to the idea of turning roofs white.
…Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they are warmer than outlying rural areas.
Asphalt roads, tar roofs and other artificial surfaces absorb heat from the sun, creating an urban “heat island effect” that can raise temperatures on average by 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1-3 degrees Celsius) or more, compared to rural areas.
White roofs would reflect some of that heat back into space and cool temperatures, much as wearing a white shirt on a sunny day can be cooler than wearing a dark shirt.
…The model simulations, which provide scientists with an idealized view of different types of cities around the world, indicate that, if every roof were entirely painted white, the urban heat island effect could be reduced by 33 percent.
This would cool the world’s cities by an average of about 0.7 F, with the cooling influence being particularly pronounced during the day, especially in summer.
The authors emphasize that their research should be viewed as a hypothetical look at typical city landscapes rather than the actual rooftops of any one city.
In the real world, the cooling impact might be somewhat less because dust and weathering would cause the white paint to darken over time and parts of roofs would remain unpainted because of openings such as heating and cooling vents….
2009 July 29. White Roofs Catch On as Energy Cost Cutters. By Felicity Barringer, The NY Times. Excerpt: …Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners…are in the vanguard of a movement embracing “cool roofs” as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.
Studies show that white roofs reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather. Lower energy consumption also means fewer of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.
What is more, a white roof can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart, depending on the materials used, while slashing electricity bills.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, has proselytized for cool roofs at home and abroad….
The scientist Mr. Chu calls his hero, Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission who has been campaigning for cool roofs since the 1980s, argues that turning all of the world’s roofs “light” over the next 20 years could save the equivalent of 24 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.
“That is what the whole world emitted last year,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “So, in a sense, it’s like turning off the world for a year.”…
2009 May. Don’t Toss Money out the Window. GreenTips – Union of Concerned Scientists. Windows let the sunshine in, but in many cases they also let the heat in (or out, in the winter). According to the Department of Energy, heat transfer through windows can account for 10 to 25 percent of your heating and air conditioning costs. Older, single-paned windows are the biggest energy wasters.
Replacing older windows with energy-efficient ones can be expensive, but will save you money in the long run by reducing your energy use as much as 30 percent. Energy Star-rated windows are twice as efficient as typical models sold just 10 years ago. A variety of factors determine a window’s energy efficiency: *Solar heat*…. *Heat transfer*….*Glazing*….*Framing*.
…If you can’t replace your old windows now, there are other steps you can take: *Seal air leaks*…. Affix *Low-E coated film* …. Install *storm windows*…. Use *insulating window treatments*.
2009 April 9. Prize for ‘Sun in the box’ cooker. By Richard Black, BBC News. Excerpt: A cheap solar cooker has won first prize in a contest for green ideas.
The Kyoto Box is made from cardboard and can be used for sterilising water or boiling or baking food.
The Kenyan-based inventor hopes it can make solar cooking widespread in the developing world, supplanting the use of wood which is driving deforestation.
Other finalists in the $75,000 competition included a device for streamlining lorries, and a ceiling tile that cools hot rooms.
Organised by Forum for the Future, the sustainable development charity founded by Jonathan Porritt, the competition aims to support concepts that have “moved off the drawing board and demonstrated their feasibility” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but have not gained corporate backing.
… It is made from two cardboard boxes, which use reflective foil and black paint to maximise absorption of solar energy.
Covering the cooking pot with a transparent cover retains heat and water, and temperatures inside the pot can reach at least 80C….
…Reducing reliance on firewood reduces deforestation, but also improves the health and wellbeing of villagers who do not have to trek for miles collecting the increasingly scarce wood nor spend hours inhaling wood smoke, a major cause of respiratory disease….
2008 December 26. Burning Coal At Home is Making A Comeback. By Tom Zeller Jr. and Stefan Milkowski. Excerpt: SUGARLOAF, Pa. — Kyle Buck heaved open the door of a makeshift bin abutting his suburban ranch house. Staring at a two-ton pile of coal that was delivered by truck a few weeks ago, Mr. Buck worried aloud that it would not be enough to last the winter…Aptly, perhaps, for an era of hard times, coal is making a comeback as a home heating fuel. Problematic in some ways and difficult to handle, coal is nonetheless a cheap, plentiful, mined-in-America source of heat. And with the cost of heating oil and natural gas increasingly prone to spikes, some homeowners in the Northeast, pockets of the Midwest and even Alaska are deciding coal is worth the trouble…Burning coal at home was once commonplace, of course, but the practice had been declining for decades. Coal consumption for residential use hit a low of 258,000 tons in 2006 — then started to rise. It jumped 9 percent in 2007, according to the Energy Information Administration, and 10 percent more in the first eight months of 2008…Coal may never make economic sense in areas far from where it is mined. But in places within reasonable delivery range, the price tends to be stable, compared with heating oil or natural gas. Prices for natural gas more than tripled in recent years before plunging in the last few months amid the downturn…
2008 December 26. No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in ‘Passive Houses’. By Elizabeth Rosenthal. Excerpt: DARMSTADT, Germany — From the outside, there is nothing unusual about the stylish new gray and orange row houses in the Kranichstein District, with wreaths on the doors and Christmas lights twinkling through a freezing drizzle. But these houses are part of a revolution in building design: There are no drafts, no cold tile floors, no snuggling under blankets until the furnace kicks in. There is, in fact, no furnace…The concept of the passive house, pioneered in this city of 140,000 outside Frankfurt, approaches the challenge from a different angle. Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies…Decades ago, attempts at creating sealed solar-heated homes failed, because of stagnant air and mold. But new passive houses use an ingenious central ventilation system. The warm air going out passes side by side with clean, cold air coming in, exchanging heat with 90 percent efficiency…Inside, a passive home does have a slightly different gestalt from conventional houses, just as an electric car drives differently from its gas-using cousin. There is a kind of spaceship-like uniformity of air and temperature. The air from outside all goes through HEPA filters before entering the rooms. The cement floor of the basement isn’t cold. The walls and the air are basically the same temperature…
2008 August 26. Serving Architects, Consultants in Everything Green Become Mainstays. By LISA CHAMBERLAIN, The New York Times. Excerpt: On a recent Friday, when the rest of the staff of the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle was out of the office enjoying a beautiful August day, about 25 people sat in a windowless room learning about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process.
Conducting the seminar was Lauren Yarmuth of YRG Sustainable Consultants, one of a growing cadre of consultants who specialize in helping developers, architects and sometimes tenants gain an official stamp of approval from the United States Green Building Council through its LEED certification program — the undisputed calling card of environmental bragging rights.
…“Going green used to be part of just a handful of organizations’ mission statements, but now it’s become part of everyone’s agenda,” said Ashley Katz, communications director for the Green Building Council. “That has, of course, increased the need for sustainability consultants.”
Many of the consultants are, like Ms. Yarmuth, trained as architects and work directly with the Green Building Council to develop and refine the guidelines they help clients follow. At the end of 2006, the Green Building Council’s membership included 679 consultants. By July 31 this year, there were 1,590.
…Despite a seemingly straightforward point system and scorecard, getting LEED certification is not always easy. Even large firms with employees with titles like “environmental strategist” hire consultants to walk them through the process.
A year ago in May, CB Richard Ellis developed a corporate policy to be carbon neutral by 2010, according to Sally R. Wilson, global director of environmental strategy for the real estate investment and management firm….
…Ms. Wilson brought in Holley Henderson, a principal of H2 Ecodesign, based in Atlanta, to manage the process and make sure the architect was designing to LEED standards.
“Certified wood is a hot topic right now” with the Green Building Council, Ms. Henderson said by way of example. “The requirement is, 50 percent of wood has to be sustainably harvested. But keep in mind, if you use wheat or sunflower board or some other alternative, those are grasses, not wood. The way the credit reads, 50 percent is a lot, so the more you reduce your wood, the easier it is to get this credit. People who just look at the scorecard and checklist wouldn’t understand these nuances.”
…According to Thomas W. Hicks, vice president for international programs at the council, there are LEED projects under way in 75 countries. “There is tremendous demand to bring LEED in and localize it to their conditions,” Mr. Hicks said.
2008 July. Energy efficiency in the built environment. By Leon R. Glicksman, Physics Today. Excerpt: …buildings are the largest energy consumer in the US, which is a surprise to many people. The combined residential and commercial building sectors consume close to 40% of the total primary US energy… The combined residential and commercial building sector also uses 70% of US electricity…
Given the enormous energy consumption by the building sector, a viable part of a CO2 control strategy should include increased energy efficiency for that sector…
Achieving substantial levels of energy efficiency requires a combination of technologies. If there is something approaching a silver bullet, it is integrated design—architects, developers, engineers, and energy consultants working together from conceptual design to finished construction…
Space heating constitutes the largest energy use in residential buildings. Active or passive solar-energy systems can meet a majority of the heating needs in most climates. Such systems require windows or solar thermal collectors—which collect the Sun’s energy for heating purposes—oriented to receive a maximum of solar irradiation in the winter…
For commercial buildings, lighting represents the largest primary energy consumption. Higher-efficiency lighting has seen continued progress through compact fluorescent bulbs, higher-efficiency commercial fluorescent tubes and ballasts, and solid-state LEDs. Effective use of daylight combined with dimmers and occupancy sensors that eliminate unneeded artificial light can reduce energy use for lighting by more than 50%…
Energy for cooling both commercial and residential buildings is becoming a larger portion of the energy demand as the US population in southern regions continues to increase…
Shading and spectrally selective glazing can reduce solar heating of building interiors. Highly reflecting roofs, so-called cool roofs, can also reduce heat transfer to interiors; that approach is especially useful for single-story buildings with flat roofs. And novel integration of heat pumps and air conditioners in the buildings can meet the remaining cooling loads while yielding an overall energy savings…
Natural ventilation can reduce the seasonal energy requirements for cooling commercial buildings by 50% or more in many US and European climates…
2007 November 6. Massachusetts Looks at Using Biofuel in Home Heating Oil. By KATIE ZEZIMA. Excerpt: BOSTON, Nov. 5 – Gov. Deval L. Patrick and legislative leaders proposed a bill on Monday to require all home heating oil and diesel fuel to contain at least 5 percent biofuel by 2013.
Massachusetts would be the first state to require that home heating oil contain renewable fuels, a significant issue in a state where 36 percent of homes use home heating oil, according to Census figures. That compares with the 8 percent national average.
Maine leads the nation, with 87 percent of its homes using heating oil, according to the Census.
The bill would require that all home heating oil and diesel fuel contain 2 percent renewable fuel alternatives by 2010 and increase to 5 percent by 2013.
…Brooke Coleman of the Northeast Biofuels Collaborative said the savings would be modest.
“The biodiesel mandate will only have a small positive effect on fuel prices,” Mr. Coleman said. “On the biodiesel side, the short-term price impact is going to be small. But the overarching goal here is to provide a foothold for biodiesel providers in the state, which will stabilize oil and diesel prices.”…
2007 October. GREENTIPS – A Tip to Warm Your Hearth. Excerpt: With fall in the air, it’s time to ensure your home is properly insulated. Insulation prevents heat from leaking out of your home in winter and into your home in summer, making it more comfortable year-round and reducing your energy consumption, global warming pollution, and heating and air conditioning costs.
The many options on the market today include fiberglass rolls, spray foam, rigid foam, and loose-fill cellulose made from old newspapers. To determine the best fit for your needs, consider these factors:
R-value. This number represents an insulation’s ability to resist heat; the higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation….
Target spaces. Attics and cathedral ceilings are great places to start to get the most bang for your insulation bucks. Next in line should be walls, floors, crawl spaces, and basements.
Raw materials. Insulation made from non-petroleum resources, with a high recycled content, requires less energy to process, reduces waste, and uses fewer natural resources. ….
Installation. Foam insulation has traditionally been sprayed onto walls using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)-chlorine-based chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. But it is now possible to apply foam insulation using chlorine-free agents such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), carbon dioxide (CO2), and even water….
Disposal. In addition to choosing insulation with a high recycled content, consider whether it can be recycled at the end of its useful life….
2007 July 11. Hot off the grid/Solar ovens utilize nature’s rays for energy-efficient, everyday cooking — even in foggy San Francisco, Tara Duggan, SF Chronicle Staff Writer, Excerpt: … ‘I have to have one of those sun ovens,’ says Sharon South, who recently moved from San Jose to Tuolumne County. “Because in the summer, who wants to turn the oven on?” This spring, South started using her solar oven about three times a week and plans to buy a second one so she and her husband can cook more dishes at once when they have guests. Solar cookers like the Sun Oven can maintain temperatures of 350 degrees or higher and start around $230. Less-insulated and simpler versions such as one called the CooKit cost about $32 and cook food in the low to mid 200 degrees — hot enough to boil water, which is all you need for most cooking. …The Sun Oven … consists of a well-insulated box with a glass lid and four reflective panels that direct sunlight into the box. … Solar cooking typically takes two to three times as long as conventional cooking. But once you get used to the relaxed rhythm, it can be easy and convenient, kind of like using a Crock-Pot. … We found it perfect for low-and-slow cooking, such as a whole-grain rice pilaf….
Over 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population, rely on wood-fueled fires to cook food. Of these people, around 500 million frequently encounter fuel shortages yet live in ideal climates for solar cooking, says Kevin Porter of Solar Cookers International (SCI) in Sacramento. Many women, especially refugees, trek miles to obtain cooking fuel, and the reliance on wood for fuel has led to deforestation in many areas. SCI and other organizations help impoverished communities gain access to solar ovens to cook food, pasteurize water and sterilize medical equipment. Since 1995, SCI has taught 30,000 families in eastern and southern Africa how to use solar ovens and has helped establish solar businesses in refugee communities. [Article also has:] Where to find solar ovens [and recipes:]
Baby Beet Salad with Feta, Walnuts & Arugula
Peach & Blackberry Cobbler
Wheatless Apricot Cake
Shrimp & Lemon Skewers
Solar Cookers International (SCI) – Establishes programs in countries around the world to teach people to make and use solar ovens and cookers. Reduces deforestation and saves time for cultures that normally would gather wood for cooking fires. Reduces carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emission in cultures that normally use natural gas or electricity for cooking. See SCI Newsletters