ICAST in the News

FEATURED NEWS: Business, Labor, Workforce and Education Leaders Launch Skills2Compete-Colorado Campaign:

Colorado’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs was written for the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign by National Skills Coalition, Washington, DC, as part of its national Skills2Compete Campaign. The national version of this report, America’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs, is available at www.nationalskillscoalition.org.
***Special thanks to SkillBuild Colorado, ICAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology), the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the Colorado Community College System, Paula Gomez Farrell and Mary Russell for funding related to the production and release of this report. To learn more about the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign, go to www.nationalskillscoalition.org/Colorado

Rally for Impact: On ICAST – You don’t have to go abroad to find cutting-edge work as a social entrepreneur. In fact, sometimes it makes more sense not to.

 Transition Steamboat: ICAST’s technical assistance is reaching across the state of Colorado.

MCREA News: Article describing an ICAST funded initiative in Wiggins which upgraded 57 streetlights in the town from old mercuryvapor lamps to 55W LED bulbs.

The Citizen Telegram: Recap of official launch event for Rifle Housing Authority Energy Efficiency Improvement Project. ICAST is program manager, with Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. contributing $25,000 in grant funding and CLEER donating an additional $10,000.

Colorado Energy News: ICAST has helped launch new retrofit program was has been officially launched at the Rifle Housing Authority designed to achieve lower energy costs and higher comfort and safety measures for citizens in its community.

Aspen Public Radio:  It’s no secret that the cost to heat water and run electricity into homes is rising and its likely that trend will continue. Through project management and funding outreach,  ICAST is helping ensure all residents of Rifle Housing Authority keep energy costs affordable while being able to live comfortably.

The Denver Post: October volunteer request featuring the service learning program at iCAST.

Telluride Daily Planet: The region’s electric provider, San Miguel Power Association, is teaming up with iCAST and other companies to offer homeowners and businesses an opportunity to monitor their electricity usage. The program is still in the planning stages with plans to be rolled out by November.

Biodiesel Magazine: In partnership with Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (iCAST) in Lakewood, Colo., was awarded $100,000 to assist with the implementation of two farm-scale oilseed crushing and bio diesel production facilities.

iStockAnalyst: In March 2009 iCAST announced a simple one-stop program to help commercial and residential property owners in Boulder County qualify to obtain financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

Examiner.com: A testimonial about iCAST’s WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) solar technology training program which contains an in-depth analysis of the sustainable job market and how her training prepared her for her career in solar technologies.

University of Colorado Engineering News
: In December 2007 the University of Colorado signed a memorandum of understanding with iCAST to provide Engineering students with service-learning opportunities in sustainable development.

May 2012 Montrose Manufacturers, Big And Small
MONTROSE, Colo.-Plenty of manufacturers call Montrose home, but many of those in the community are unaware of this.

Two of them are TEI Rock Drills and 4EverLight International. Both of their owners say their companies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Sue Frank, president of TEI Rock Drills, said, “You’re in a smaller community that allows your employees to be more family oriented because they don’t have an hour long commute to work everyday.”
April 2012
how sustainability can drive economic benefits
Ravi Malhotra, founder and president of the Denver nonprofit iCast, said his organization is focused on creating community-based sustainability programs that have the potential to bolster employment and channel money back into the local economy. And instead of new structures, iCast is focused on existing homes, commercial buildings, government facilities and schools.
“The Holy Grail is retrofitting what we already have,” Malhotra said.
March 2012
 
Counties look at energy development conservation plans
La Junta, Colo. — Matt Heimrich, Crowley County, presented a plan for conservation of energy developed by the Southeast Colorado Resource Conservation & Development Council through the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology to the Otero County Commissioners on Monday. The counties in Southeast Colorado are an ideal location for the program, which is open to all, even businesses.
Note to article: During the initiation of ResourceSmart, university students performed audits at no cost to the client. These audits were part of pilot projects which are no longer being offered. ResourceSmart does however offer audits at very competitive pricing. Please contact us for more information.

iCAST featured in YOURHUB 3/29/2012
ICAST, a Lakewood-based nonprofit, will receive a sum of $590,118 and will use those funds to look at a variety of different and innovative ways to cut energy bills with equipment upgrades and the promotion and study of behavioral changes.
Some of the grant funds will be used to upgrade items needed in units, such as windows, boilers and insulation, if necessary.
“Those are typical ways; a lot of people have been doing those for years,” said Ravi Malhotra, founder and president of iCAST.

iCAST comes to Steamboat springs
Thanks to the efforts of “Energy Rabbit” John Spezia, iCAST president Ravi Malhotra has agreed to come to Steamboat Springs to make a presentation (maybe even two) between April 17 and April 20. These meetings are intended to lay the groundwork to give our community the opportunity to finance sustainability programs in the Yampa Valley.
iCAST has the expertise and resources to manage energy programs that our community wishes to implement via matching funding. They specialize in running energy efficiency projects, helping bring more energy conservancy measures to communities.
We invite you to participate in this community effort by attending a 1-2 hour workshop in Steamboat Springs. We are tentatively scheduling the workshops to be on:
Tues, April 18 from noon to 1:30 pm
and/or
Wed., April 19 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm
Please reply to this email if you are interested and can attend one or both of these events. If you are interested in attending, but are unable to participate in either of these options, please let us know when you are available by replying to this message with your preferred day and time.

iCAST Training wrapping up energy efficiency classes
iCAST Training is currently wrapping up energy efficiency classes provided through the Green Careers for Coloradans grant program.
We would like to thank the Local Community Agency for making this possible.
We are pleased to announce our success in training 180 participants in Fundamentals of Energy Efficiency and 169 trainees in BPI Building Analyst Certification over the last two years . Thank you to all program stakeholders and participants for their dedication to this program and helping to make an impact and achieve such tremendous results!

ResourceSmart launches for WCCA members
iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology), a Lakewood, Colorado-based nonprofit, is offering a simple yet comprehensive energy efficiency improvement program designed to create a one-stop shop for WCCA members. Our program ‘ResourceSmart WCCA’ will provide a hassle-free experience that will help WCCA members save money and lower their energy use, create a more comfortable and safe environment, and positively impact the local economy.
Why Sign Up?
• Start seeing positive dollar savings from day one
• Increase the value of your property
• Increase the comfort and safety of your home
• Reduce your energy consumption
• Save on all your energy costs
• Lower your environmental impact
• Take advantage of rebates and many saving opportunities
How our simple process works:
1. Sign up and schedule an energy assessment for your home. Typical energy assessments take between 2-4 hours depending on the size of your property.
2. Energy assessor schedules a follow-up appointment within one week to provide a detailed report with costs, savings & payback for each energy efficiency improvement recommended.
3. You decide which, if any, improvements meet your needs. Low-interest financing options are available through local banks.
4. iCAST oversees selection, training, and work quality of all subcontractors.
5. Once all work is completed, iCAST inspects for quality and approves payment to sub-contractors with owner’s approval.
6. Watch your savings increase immediately and continue to grow each year!
Next Steps
Sign up for an energy assessment by 3-31-12 for ONLY $25 (market price is normally $335). This energy assessment will identify at least 25% energy savings for your home!

“Collaborative Consumption” Hub Captures Growth in the Sharing Economy.
Collaborative Consumption, a.k.a. “the sharing economy,” describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before. A new website, the Collaborative Consumption Hub, has assembled over a thousand examples of collaborative consumption efforts from around the world. From enormous, established marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending, peer-to-peer travel, and car sharing (such as ZipCar and HourCar), Collaborative Consumption is creating new business opportunities and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

Fourth Quarter 2011 Housing Market Conditions. Multifamily units on the rise!
The report also includes comparisons with the previous quarter and the fourth quarter of 2010, profiles of economic and housing market activity in each of HUD’s 10 regions, and updates of historical trends in national and regional housing markets. This report’s feature article discusses the methodology used to incorporate American Community Survey data into the Fair Market Rents calculation process.
Key findings:
• Builders took out permits for 413,600 new single-family homes and 176,400 multifamily units, down 7% and up 35% from the previous year, respectively.
• Single-family housing starts (428,600) fell 9%, while multifamily housing starts (167,400) increased 61%.
• Construction was completed on 444,900 new single-family homes and 130,500 new multifamily units, down 10% and 11% from 2010, respectively.
• The number of new single-family homes sold fell 6.5%, while the median price of new homes rose 1.8% from 2010, to $225,800.
• Builders’ views on the housing market were unchanged from 2010. The NAHB/Wells Fargo composite Housing Market Index averaged 16 points in both 2010 and 2011.
• The average interest rate for 30-year, fixed rate mortgages, as reported by Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, set a record low. It was 4.45% — 24 basis points below the 2010 annual average interest rate.
Read the original article here

Rossen Reports: Is your child breathing radon gas at school?
What experts call a serious threat in our nation’s schools is invisible to the naked eye. TODAY National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.
When we send our children to school, we assume that they’re safe; that they’re learning in a healthy environment. But health officials say there’s a danger in the air: a toxic cancer causing gas in thousands of classrooms nationwide. And, we found, many districts are doing nothing about it. We visited a school in Pennsylvania and found second-graders are ready to learn. But what the kids can’t see, smell or taste are high levels of radioactive radon gas inside their classrooms. Tests show nearly double the EPA’s accepted limit.
Radon develops from the breakdown of soil and rock, seeping into buildings and the air we breathe. Chronic exposure, experts say, could be deadly. And perhaps most disturbing, victims usually don’t realize they have been exposed until years later, when it’s too late. Next to smoking, it is the leading cause of lung cancer — according to the EPA, linked to more than 20,000 deaths every year. “Of all the environmental exposures you get, this is the one that causes the most deaths,” said Bill Field, one of the foremost experts on radon.
Read the original article here at msnbc.msn.com

US Retrofits Worth $1 Trillion Savings Over 10 Years, Report Says
U.S. retrofits could yield $1 trillion of energy savings over 10 years, equivalent to savings of about 30 percent of the country’s annual electricity spend, according to a report by Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors and The Rockefeller Foundation. To achieve the savings, $279 billion would need to be invested in retrofitting the commercial, institutional and residential market segments in the U.S, according to United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models. If all of these retrofits were undertaken it would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent and create 3.3 million “job years.” These jobs would include a range of skill qualifications, and would be geographically diverse, the report says. The authors goes on to investigate a number of financing models which offer the potential to scale investment in these markets. The models include energy services agreements, property-assessed clean energy and on-bill finance. In other green building news, a report by the U.S. Green Building Council and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning argues that environmentally friendly buildings offer greater potential resiliency to natural disasters than their non-green counterparts.
The report, titled Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, examines how the adaption of green building measures and certifications – such as the USGBC’s own LEED credit system – can, for example, reduce a building’s reliance on local resources and energy and help ready it for disasters such as drought and increased temperatures.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

Pollution Control Market to Top $9bn by 2017, Report Says
 
The global air pollution control equipment market should grow significantly once utility, oil and gas companies comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations such as the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, according to research by business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
Analysis of the Global Air Pollution Control Equipment in Energy and Power Market finds that the market earned revenues of $7.27 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $9.69 billion in 2017.
According to the report, the EPA’s MACT rules will compel pollution control equipment providers to reevaluate products to fulfill emission regulations. Planned projects between 2012 and 2013 are likely to be delayed until 2014, the report says. Increased market saturation due to the influx of solution providers from Asia will also affect the market. These companies are looking to penetrate the retrofit market by offering equipment at competitive prices, Frost & Sullivan says. This will increase price competition within regions and will result in a significant number of mergers and licensee partnerships between local solution providers and foreign companies, the report says.
In July, Duke Energy Ohio threatened to decommission all six coal-fired generation units at a plant near Cincinnati, by Jan. 1, 2015, unless changes are made to MACT regulations. Duke plans to retire the coal-fired units at the nearly 60-year-old W.C. Beckjord Station, saying that changes to make the units MACT-compliant would prove too costly.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

Campus Microgrid Market to Boom
 
Total installed generation capacity for campus microgrids will increase by 164 percent between 2011 and 2017, rising from 620 megawatts to 1.6 gigawatts, according to a new report from Pike Research.
According to Microgrids for Campus Environments, by the end of the forecast period in 2017, the campus microgrid market will reach $777 million in annual revenue.
Microgrids are pockets of distributed energy resources that can be isolated from the utility power grid. Interest in this technology has traditionally been centered on educational campuses but demand is now growing for other campus segments such as the government, health care, industrial, and research campus markets, the report says.
The United States represents the best overall market for microgrids, according to the report. Key factors include pockets of poor power quality scattered throughout the U.S., and the structure of markets for distributed energy resources. The latter, according to Pike, has stimulated creative aggregation possibilities behind the meter at the retail level of power service, meaning that instead of being driven by grid operators, the microgrid market in the U.S. is customer-driven. “Microgrids offer a compelling opportunity for facilities managers in single-owner campuses to take more direct control of their electricity supply,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

UCSD Saves $900,000 with Energy Dashboard
 
The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) has installed an energy dashboard to help the school improve the efficiency of their operations, reduce energy use, and combat climate change, according to a press release. The dashboard provides updated energy information for the university’s facilities and equipment, helping the them to save $900,000 a year, reducing energy consumption by 19 million kilowatt hours, and reducing 9,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases. Working with a San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) incentive program, the university used information provided by the energy dashboard to identify inefficiencies in their computer servers. The dashboard provides campus microgrid managers with data on energy use by buildings, floors within buildings and in some cases rooms on a floor. As a result, UC San Diego replaced 514 older computer servers with 270 energy-efficient models. The project reduced energy consumption by 7.9 million kilowatt-hours, saving the university $680,000 annually, and prevents 2,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere each year.
In 2005, UC San Diego completed $60 million in energy-saving improvements that cut electricity consumption by 20 percent, saving the university more than $12 million annually. This year, the campus is using $73 million in utility incentives and low-interest bonds as part of a multi-year program to reduce energy consumption in 25 of its older buildings by a combined $6 million a year. Several new energy management solutions have appeared on the market recently, with Constellation NewEnergy, Digital Realty Trust, and Agilewaves all coming to the market with new offerings. UCSD has also installed solar trees on campus to help reduce its electrical energy needs. Meanwhile, the University of California Merced campus was able to save $5 million annually by installing a (MW) solar power system, which provides two-thirds of the campus’ electricity on summer days and 20 percent of the campus’ annual electricity needs.
Read the original article

Colleges Selling Their Green Bona Fides to Students
 
Colleges are using their green credentials to burnish their reputations with prospective students, according to a report in USA Today.
The paper reported that according to 2010’s College Sustainability Report Card, 69 percent of colleges and universities are now including environmental pitches into their admission and enrollment systems, a massive increase from the 27 percent from the year before. The College Sustainability Report Card is produced by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Massachusetts.
As part of the pitch, colleges are showing off new energy efficient buildings and introducing students to their recycling programs. The paper reported that at the American University, the school uses online communication methods to interact with new students, reducing its demand for paper. Colorado State University, meanwhile, is publicizing the fact that it is building what may be the largest solar power plant on a college campus in the country, and uses batter powered vans to take families on tours of their campus. The paper interviewed one student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who said she chose its business school specifically because it offered an MBA program with a focus on sustainability issues.
Texas A&M publicized that it has managed to reduce its energy intensity by 33 percent while expanding the size of the campus. The University of California, San Diego touted the $900,000 it saved by incorporating an energy dashboard. Even many college athletic departments are starting to see their environmental footprints as a top priority.
Over half of the schools surveyed by the College Sustainability Report Card have made a carbon reduction commitment. Increased attention to climate change is reflected at an impressive 58 percent of the schools through a commitment to carbon reduction. Fifty-two percent of the schools have signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, while 23 percent made carbon reduction commitments in addition to, or instead of, the Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Nearly half of the schools produce renewable energy on campus. Facilities for producing solar, wind, bio, or geothermal energy are in operation at 45 percent of the schools.
Read the original article

January 2012

Making Way for a Bigger Turbine
New Hampshire, USA — They stand as looming testaments to innovation, growing ever more prominent and powerful. Yet for much of 2011, wind installations remained somewhat obscured, eclipsed by the media storm surrounding the solar industry.
The truth of the matter is, however, that the wind industry bounced back from a disappointing 2010 with a surge in both installations and sales. The wind industry quietly and methodically continues to forge ahead, and today it dominates the renewable energy landscape in new installations.
Through October (the most recent numbers available by press time), the wind industry placidly posted three strong quarters behind a steady drop in prices and the realization that Congress may not extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) past its December 2012 expiration date. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), through the first three quarters of 2011, the wind industry installed 29 wind farms larger in total capacity than the biggest solar project installed during that same period.
With the wind industry eager to continue its momentum with or without the PTC, two things are clear: turbines must get bigger and engineers must work to drive down costs. It’s a proven formula that’s paying dividends beyond the traditional stronghold of the Midwest, as the technology becomes a bigger part of the landscape in places like New York, Massachusetts and Maine.
But how to get there, and from where will the cost gains come? Dan Shreve, a partner with Make Consulting, says his company is looking at just that and has come out with a new report on wind turbine trends. The report breaks down the materials used for components like hubs and blades, and projects how a component’s cost impacts its performance. Sometimes, more costly materials can open the door to cost-savings with other components. Engineers have found this to be the case with rotors, where new materials and novel approaches are pushing costs down and performance up. The result, though, is a turbine capable of better returns.

There is “No Evidence” that Wind Turbine Syndrome Exists, Concludes Expert Panel
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — If we want wind to continue growing, more turbines will need to be placed in our communities and close to our backyards. And that will inevitably cause more social friction.
Wind supporters cannot discount concerns from local residents about noise and visual impact. With proper communication between developers and communities, many of the potential conflicts can be mitigated or avoided. But there’s a huge difference between concerns of neighbors to wind projects and the faux medical conditions pushed by advocates who claim turbines are a serious threat to human health. Although no conclusive research has shown that wind farms cause health problems, many anti-wind groups have pushed the idea that “Wind Turbine Syndrome” is a widespread problem – elevating legitimate siting concerns to scare tactics. A new study released this week by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection finds that “there is no evidence for a set of health effects…that could be characterized as ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome.’” The supposed health impacts pushed by wind opponents include mental health problems, heart disease and vertigo.
The Department’s Panel was comprised of independent experts in a range of fields associated with the possible health impact of exposure to wind turbines. They explored scientific literature, reports, popular media and public comments and concluded that there was no scientific basis for claims about Wind Turbine Syndrome:
While the panel recommended more research on the impact of “very loud turbines” that could disrupt sleep patterns of some individuals (even though they write that a “‘very quiet wind turbine’ would not likely disrupt even ‘the lightest of sleepers’ at that same distance”), the researchers debunk the broad-based claims about Wind Turbine Syndrome.
There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly… causing health problems or disease. Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically. Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
The study failed to produce any concrete evidence that “flicker” caused by the shadows of rotating blades causes epileptic seizure, or that turbines cause “pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, [or] headache/migraine.”
The researchers concluded that the most dangerous problem in Massachusetts was from falling ice.

Are Japan’s Megasolar Plans Falling Apart?
 
New Hampshire, U.S.A. — The notable absence from a recent Japanese renewable energy meeting by many political backers — plus blunt comments from some of them — are being interpreted as a sign that Softbank’s ambitious plans for multiple megasolar plants are falling apart.
Last summer Masayoshi Son, president of Japanese conglomerate Softbank, pledged to build ten 20-megawatt solar power plants across the nation at a cost of nearly a billion dollars. To spur investment, he said he’d personally contribute up to $100 million. The company also forged deals with 19 prefectures to promote renewable energy. He was inspired in part, he claims, by the March 11 disaster and the controversy following the nuclear plant meltdowns. Later in the year the company Softbank showed off a 100 kW demo solar installation.
However, the November-held second meeting of the Renewable Energy Council, created in the summer by Son and 35 prefecture leaders, attracted only four governors (versus 19 at the first meeting), points out the Nikkei Weekly [subscription required]. Several remarks from participants were interpreted as either slights against the no-shows or apparent attempts to liven up a “dull atmosphere.” Many of the absentees apparently were attending the National Governor’s Conference earlier in the day — but had plenty of time to get to the scheduled council meeting, the paper notes, suggesting their “concern over Japan’s power needs had given way to interest in fostering international exchanges.” Or, perhaps more ominously, that they sent “stand-ins” to the meeting as a signal that they are “distancing themselves from Son’s megasolar project.”
In addition, the paper cites a late-November press conference at the Saitama prefectural government offices about a local eco-town project, where Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda “grimaced” when asked about Softbank’s megasolar project, then replied that interest in the proposed ¥8 billion construction project “appears to have vanished” even with Softbank footing all but ¥100 million of the deal. He also “seemed to indicate indignation” about Son’s ultimate commitment to such a project, the paper says. Two unidentified governors in eastern and western Japan contacted by the paper reportedly shared those sentiments.
So what has happened in such a short time to seemingly dissolve Softbank’s grand solar plans? A renewable energy law passed by former Prime Minister Kan (a Son ally) requires power utilities to buy renewable-sourced energy at fixed prices, but without direction in either the level or duration of pricing, the Nikkei said. For prefectures that creates a no-win scenario: assuming a ¥35/kWh starting point, any higher prices would simply be passed on to consumers, but low purchase prices wouldn’t allow the plants to make a profit (they’d need ¥40/kWh). “Kan, who intended to use the megasolar project to extend his Prime-Ministership, instead left behind an awkward parting gift,” the paper muses.
Son, quoted by the paper, has pledged to press on with the 200-MW target “no matter what level the purchase price is set at,” explaining that “if we spill red ink, other companies would wither.” But with Kan no longer in the picture, that purchase price clarity and stability is likely gone as well, and Son’s dreams of a megasolar future “could end up as pie in the sky.”
“Not so long ago, the solar power business was being looked at as a driving force that would reinvigorate Japan’s stagnant economy,” the paper editorializes. But with primarily Chinese suppliers squeezing prices for everyone, compounded by the yen’s continued historic valuations, “it is not turning out that way.”

Sunflower Inspires New Space-saving CSP Layout
New Hampshire, USA — Researchers at MIT and Germany’s RWTH Aachen U. have devised a new way to set up a concentrated solar power (CSP) project that both increases the system’s efficiency and reduces the land footprint — all thanks to inspiration from Mother Nature.
The Andalucia, Spain “PS10″ CSP install incorporates more than 600 heliostat mirrors tracking the sun through the day, all arranged radially around a central tower and staggered to align every other row — but this also creates some unavoidable shadowing and blocking that reduces the light reflected to the tower. The team, led by MIT’s Alexander Mitsos and postgrad Corey Noone and RWTH’s Manuel Torrilhon, developed a computational model to evaluate the efficiency of heliostat layouts, dividing mirrors into sections and calculating the light reflectivity in each, and comparing to PS10′s layout to determine overall efficiency. What they discovered, and reported in the journal Solar Energy, was that using their numerical optimization brought the fanned-out layers closer together, reducing the amount of land needed without affecting the mirrors’ ability to reflect light.
They then compared the layout to the “Fermat spiral” pattern seen in, among other occurrences in nature, the florets of a sunflower, which are turned at a mathematical “golden angle” (roughly 137°) to each other. By rearranging a model of a CSP field to resemble this layout, they calculate a 20 percent smaller footprint than the PS10 field in Andalucia. And the spiral pattern reduces problematic shading and blocking, thus increasing the system’s total efficiency, too.
From the paper abstract:
Specifically, this new heuristic is shown to improve the existing PS10 field by 0.36% points in efficiency while simultaneously reducing the land area by 15.8%. Moreover, the new pattern achieves a better trade-off between land area usage and efficiency, i.e., it can reduce the area requirement significantly for any desired efficiency. Finally, the improvement in area becomes more pronounced with an increased number of heliostats, when maximal efficiency is the objective.
Concentrated solar power has been somewhat overshadowed by plunging-cost solar PV, leading some developers to swap CSP plans to solar PV technology (roughly 3-GW worth over the past year or so). However, CSP has some tricks up its sleeve. Not only does it have a foothold in energy storage, but a recent NREL study suggests that having CSP/storage gives grids more flexibility to add other less-constant renewable energy sources in their portfolio. (This article goes into more detail about the pros/cons of each type of CSP technology.)

Free Energy Efficiency Training for Western Slope Contractors and Individuals
TELLURIDE–As a result of recent grant funding, the International Center for Ap-propriate & Sustainable Technology will offer a free energy efficiency training and BPI Certification program in Telluride. On Jan. 13, iCAST, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization, has announced two energy-efficiency training and certification classes that will come to Telluride. iC-AST was recently awarded additional training funds from the Labor’s Communi-ty Agency and Green Careers for Colora-dans ARRA grant program that will be specifically used to bring iCAST’s energy efficiency training to help develop addi-tional skills for area contractors and indi-viduals and subsequently earn them addi-tional work.
As part of the training, iCAST will use local residences to demonstrate the energy assessment process – offering free energy assessments to selected homes in ex-change for assisting in the hands-on train-ing component of the certification pro-gram.
In addition, iCAST will be working with local contractors to help instruct certain class sections related to their area of ex-pertise, including HVAC and Insulation. For more information on San Miguel Pow-er Partners, please visit http://www.icastusa.org/smpp/.
For more information about how you can obtain BPI Certification for free, please call 303-462-4100 x 806 or email na-taliel@icastusa.org. Seating is limited so make sure you reserve your spot ASAP. iCAST (International Center for Appropri-ate & Sustainable Technology) iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on empowering people through social, envi-ronmental, and economical means. (montrosemirror.com)

Organic Grain Production Found to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Ongoing research done by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Michel Cavigelli in its Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab found that after 3 years, an organic grain production system reduced carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions relative to two other production systems. According to the research findings, the organic system removed more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it contributed, while the other systems resulted in net increases. The results are based on data from comparable three-year crop rotations that begin with corn followed by a rye grass cover crop, rotate to soybeans and winter wheat in the second year, and conclude with a legume crop. Dr. Cavigelli’s team identified the substantial energy savings achieved in the organic system by using natural fertility sources, especially for nitrogen, as the critical factor in reducing its overall impact on climate change. (US Department of Agriculture, 2011. http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science-a-environmental/29213-organic-grain-production-results-in-reduced-greenhouse-gas-emissions.html)

California’s “Flexible Purpose Corporation” Law Requires Environmental Accountability
A revolutionary model for corporations to “do good” better was recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. Assembly Bill 361 creates two new classes of corporations that are legally required to pursue a positive impact on society and the environment: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations. The new legal structures widen traditional corporate shareholder value to include stakeholder value, extending to environmental and social responsibility and increased transparency and accountability. California is the first state to pass the Flexible Purpose Corporation model but the sixth state to approve the Benefit Corporation classification. California joins New Jersey, Virginia, Hawaii, Vermont and Maryland that officially allow Benefit Corporations. (BrandChannel, October 17, 2011, http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2011/10/17/California-Law-Creates-New-Category-of-Positive-Impact-Corporation.aspx)

CarbonVisuals Shows Carbon Footprint of Every Public Building in the U.K.
Carbon Visuals specializes in providing a ‘feel’ for carbon data. With a grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board the organization has been exploring real-time visualization and the visualization of large data-sets. One of the results is an interactive visualization of the carbon footprint of every public building in England and Wales – 40 thousand of them! The visualization uses a database of UK Display Energy Certificates – the energy ratings that all public buildings must display. Once geocoded the ratings allowed display of the buildings’ carbon footprint in 3D in Google Earth as actual volumes of carbon dioxide gas at the location of the building itself. (CarbonVisuals, 2011, http://carbonvisuals.com/work/google-earth-uk-public-buildings)

December 2011

WaterCredit Puts Microfinance Tools to Work in Water and Sanitation Sectors
WaterCredit is an initiative of Water.org that puts microfinance tools to work in the water and sanitation (WASH) sector. It is the first comprehensive program of its kind that connects the microfinance and WASH communities to scale up access to credit and capital for individual- and household-based WASH needs and does so with multiple models across multiple countries. Through WaterCredit, Water.org aims to channel and redeploy financial resources more efficiently, enabling increasing numbers of people to meet their water and sanitation needs through demand-driven, market-based services and reducing the need for never-ending subsidy. The WaterCredit.org website has been designed with different types of stakeholders in mind: microfinance institutions (MFIs); WASH experts; catalytic philanthropists; and social investors and commercial banks.
More than 50,000 loans have been made and more than 316,000 people now have access to clean water and safe sanitation as a direct result of WaterCredit. (Water.org, 2011,http://watercredit.org/about/)

IBM Backs ‘People Power’ as Next Renewable
Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured, and such human activities as walking, jogging and bicycling could soon be used to power homes, offices and cities, according to IBM.
The computer giant has listed “people power” as one of its 2011 “5 in 5″ – an annual list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.
IBM lists such potential innovations as a battery charger attached to the wheel of a bicycle that harnesses energy created from the wheels turning as one example of how such technology could work.
Research into the capture of wasted energy has been a growing trend in renewable energy circles for some time now, but it is usually associated with harnessing untapped power in machines – such as in motorized vehicles’ braking systems – rather than human-generated energy.
The other four, less environment-focused innovations named in this year’s 5 for 5 are passwords for ATM machines and computer programs based on our genetic makeup, using brainpower to directly control technology, the end of the technology divide between rich and poor countries and the death of junk spam email.

Energy-Efficiency Law Proving Itself Successful In Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania energy-efficiency law has resulted in lowering the state’s electric load by 2,073 GWh, 41% higher than the goal set by Act 129. This represents $278 million in annual savings for electric ratepayers, according to a report released by The PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment.
“We have also reduced air pollution that leads to global warming significantly, cutting 23 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the installed energy efficiency measures, the same as taking four million cars off the road for a year,” says Courtney Lane, senior energy policy analyst for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. “And the cherry on the top is that our electricity grid is becoming more stable, along with electricity prices, every year this program is in force.”
Act 129, which was signed into law in October 2008, requires that Pennsylvania utilities deliver energy efficiency programs that reduce electric load by 1% by May 31, and by 3% by May 31, 2013. It also requires a total peak demand reduction of 4.5% by May 31.
This must be accomplished while spending no more than 2% of the utilities’ 2006 revenue per year. Savings must be required at lower cost when looking at the incremental spending and savings needed to achieve the 2013 goals.
This is because the savings targets ramp up in years three and four, while the spending cap does not. If the next five-year goal were set to 1% savings a year for a total of 5% savings, the overall cost per annual kWh saved has to be lower than for the first four-year period, according to the report.
Current saving goals and spending caps require a cost per kWh saved at the low end of similar programs; therefore, PennFuture recommends leaving savings goals in the constrained scenario unchanged.
These goals would save approximately 1% of electricity sales annually, or about 5% in 2018. This represents an annual load reduction of over 7,300 GWh, annual ratepayer savings of $932 million, a lifetime reduction in emissions equivalent to taking 14 million cars off the road and a net lifetime gain of over 14,000 jobs.
A budget cap represents an artificial limit on benefits that efficiency can bring to the Pennsylvania ratepayers, according to the report. By leaving the rate cap in place, the state is leaving a potential additional 15% savings on the table, which could be procured at well below the cost of new supply-side resources.
Leading states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are now achieving over 2% savings per year or have submitted multi-year plans with greater than 2% annual savings. Therefore, as an aggressive yet achievable goal, PennFuture recommends further ramping up Pennsylvania’s efficiency programs to achieve a cumulative savings of 2.75% after the first two years, and another 6% after the next three years, for a total of 8.75% savings. This allows a ramp-up in program savings during the first two years in order to achieve 2% annual savings for the next three years, which is in line with leading states.
Although Act 129 is a remarkable step for energy efficiency in Pennsylvania, PennFuture believes that a few policy changes could fully unlock efficiency’s potential in the state.
In particular, the group recommends changes in the total resource cost test such as lowering the discount rate, allowing fossil fuel savings and allowing benefits to last more than 15 years.
PennFuture also suggests exploring decoupling or performance incentives. Decoupling removes utility disincentives for investing in efficiency, while performance incentives may create a positive incentive for successful utility efficiency programs.
The current Act 129 program expires on May 31, 2013. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) has until Nov. 30, 2013, to determine if it has been cost-effective. If so, the PUC is required to set new savings goals. However, if the PUC does not take action well in advance of the November 2013 date, there will be a “blackout” period for utility energy efficiency programs, according to the report.

Greenhouse Gas Initiative Gains $1.6 Billion for the Regional Economy
In a new report, Analysis Group researchers have quantified the economic benefits from implementation of the multi-state regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI). It is the first report to measure the economic impact of such a program across all states in the region by focusing on the actual impacts of economic activity, using a rigorous “follow the money” approach and well-established modeling tools and methods. The firm tracked the path of RGGI-related dollars as they leave the pockets of generators who buy CO2 allowances, show up in electricity prices and customer bills, make their way into state expenditure accounts, and then roll out into the economy. Results found that the regional economy gains more than $1.6 billion in economic value added, customers save nearly $1.1 billion on electricity bills, and an additional $174 million on natural gas and heating oil bills, for a total of $1.3 billion in savings over the next decade. (The Analysis Group, November 15, 2011, http://www.analysisgroup.com/rggi.aspx)

NREL: Commercial Mowers Use More Gas Than Cars
Regularly-used commercial lawnmowers can consume more fuel than a typical car, according to a guide to alternative fuel vehicles published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
A high-use commercial lawnmower consumes as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel a year, more than four times as much as a typical 25 mpg car consumes in a year, according to the Clean Cities Guide to Alternative Fuel Commercial Lawn Equipment.
Switching to an alternative fuel mower may save on fuel and maintenance costs, extend mower life, reduce fuel spillage and fuel theft, and promote a “green” image, the guide says.
But it may be easier for companies with ready access to an alternative energy source – such as a golf course with an electric charging station for its carts – to use such vehicles than for those without easy access to an alternative fuel source, the guide says.
The guide details manufacturers, models and specification for mowers run on compressed natural gas, biodiesel, electricity and propane. It also explains incentive programs available when purchasing an alternative fuel mower.
According to the report mowers are responsible for 1 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption. In 2009, Google tried to mitigate some petroleum use by employing goats to keep the its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters free of weeds. The company was employing 200 goats at a cost about the same as a mowing service.

November 2011

Emerging Market Firms Gain Competitive Advantage Through Sustainability
A new study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identifies 16 emerging- market firms that they say are turning eco-consciousness into a source of competitive advantage. These “new sustainability champions” are using greenery to reduce costs, motivate workers and forge relationships. India’s Shree Cement, developed the world’s most water-efficient method for making cement by using air-cooling rather than water-cooling. Manila Water reduced the amount of water it was losing, through wastage and illegal tapping, from 63% in 1997 to 12% in 2010 by making water affordable for the poor. Broad Group, a Chinese maker of air conditioners, taps the waste heat from buildings to power its machines. Zhangzidao FisheryGroup, a Chinese aquaculture company, recycles uneaten fish feed to fertilize crops. Many of the 16 firms have found that, when natural resources are scarce and consumers are cash-strapped, greenery can be a lucrative business strategy. (The Economist, September 17, 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21529015)

Global Annual Water Use Per-Capita

EPA’s list of “fuel sipper” vehicles
The 2012 Mitsubishi i electric vehicle has come first in the EPA’s list of “fuel sipper” vehicles, with miles per gallon equivalent of 112 combined, 126 city and 99 highway.
The 2012 Fuel Economy Guide, published this week by the EPA and Department of Energy, ranks fuel economy leaders within each vehicle category, from two-seaters to large SUVs. Each vehicle listing in the guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost, calculated based on the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices.
Some of the other fuel economy leaders are as follows (where the most fuel efficient vehicle is a plug-in hybrid or electric, a conventional or regular hybrid vehicle is also listed):
• Minicompact: Scion iQ
• Subcompact: (as well as the i-MiEV), Chevy Sonic 5, Ford Fiesta FWD and Ford Fiesta SFE FWD
• Compact: Chevy Volt, Honda Civic Hybrid
• Midsize Cars: Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius
• Large Cars: Hyundai Sonata
• Minivans: Mazda 5
The online version of the guide allows purchasers to input their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate. EPA and DOE will provide online updates of fuel economy information as more 2012 vehicles become available.
Honda has launched the 2013 Fit EV (pictured) at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and will begin leasing car in California and Orgeon next summer, Green Car Congress reports. Google, Stanford University and the City of Torrance, Calif., will test the Fit EV as part of Honda’s Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program.
The Fit EV is designed as an urban commuter car, with a driving range of about 123 miles per charge, and it can recharge in as little as three hours. It comes with a power meter that alerts drivers to optimal driving conditions. The car’s suggested retail price is $36,625, and Honda expects to produce about 1,100 Fit EVs over the next three years.
Nissan North America has integrated Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint Network into its own information systems, to provide a full list of Coulomb public charging locations via the Nissan website. The carmaker says the site is the most comprehensive listing of stations in the U.S., drivers the ability to find current and future charging stations, as well real-time charging station availability. The website also shows all public charging stations in the nation that have been documented by the Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, GE Energy Industrial Solutions has finalized a sale and distribution agreement with EV manufacturer CODA Automotive, which will give buyers a chance to bundle the GE WattStation Wall Mount level two EV charging station with their car purchase.

Free Database On Hazardous Building Materials Launched
Design firm Perkins+Will has launched a free, universally accessible database aimed at educating people on building materials that are, or are suspected of being, hazardous to human and environmental health.
The database is based on the “precautionary principle,” the idea that in the absence of scientific consensus, an action merits precautionary treatment if it has a suspected risk of causing harm to humans or to the environment.
Included in the site is a list of substances which are known or suspected to be common asthma triggers, sourced from governmental lists, and a list of flame retardants, featuring original research by the Green Research Policy Institute. The list details the content of asthma triggers and flame retardants by cataloging these substances and their known or suspected health and environmental impacts.

Efficiency Could Cut Electricity Use 15%, Report Says
Energy efficiency is likely to bring down U.S. electricity consumption by five to 15 percent by 2020, relative to forecast trends, according to a report by The Brattle Group.
Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in 2020 (pdf) is based on a survey of 50 energy experts from utilities, non-profits, government, universities, research labs and consulting firms. It finds that electric peak demand is likely to drop by 7.5 to 15 percent, and natural gas consumption by five to 10 percent, compared to forecast trends.
The report says these reductions will likely be caused by the rising cost of electricity and natural gas, advances in appliance and building technology, new rate designs, and cultural shifts, among other factors.
The Brattle Group said it found a surprising consensus on the impacts of improved energy efficiency. But it also found variation across regions, sectors and end-uses. For example, it expects that the West North Central Division will only reduce energy use by about 1.5 to 2.5 percent, while the Mountain Division will cut consumption by five to 16 percent.
The report found that 10 to 30 percent of commercial and industrial customers will participate in dynamic pricing programs, compared to between 7.5 and 20 percent of residential consumers.
Last month a report by Capital-E found that energy efficiency financing has the potential to jump from $20 billion to $150 billion over the next ten years. The report warns, however, that energy efficiency financing now stands at less than a fifth of its cost-effective potential, even after decades of public and private support.
U.S. utilities each spent anywhere from $0.02 to $4.80 per MWh of retail sales on energy efficiency programs in 2009, according to a report released last week by investor advocacy group Ceres.

Home Li-ion Batteries Let Users Store 6 kWh of Solar or Low-Cost Grid Electricity
NEC Corp. has commercialized a power storage system using a lithium-ion battery to control household power use automatically. The system comprises a lithium-ion battery with an input/output capacity of two kilowatts and a storage capacity of six-kilowatt hours, and a controller. When connected to a household power panel, the system links to the power system of a utility company, electric devices at home, a photovoltaic generation system, and others so that automatic power control may operate interactively. Users can store photovoltaic (PV) generated power or low-cost late-night electricity for use in daytime, which will result in reduced consumption of power from the ordinary power grid at peak times and lowered utility costs. (Japan for Sustainability, 2011, http://www.japanfs.org/en/pages/031323.html)

Calif. Dethroned in Rankings, As States Increase Efficiency Spend
Massachusetts has bumped California from its spot as the most energy-efficient state, in a scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The scorecard, in its fifth edition, ranks states based on their policies and programs for energy efficiency in the commercial, industrial, residential and transportation sectors.
It shows that after California – knocked from the leader’s spot for the first time – the most energy efficient states are New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland.
The worst-performing states are North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma, while the most improved states are Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee.
ACCEE found that states are using energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost savings, promote technological innovation and stimulate growth. It said that states’ budgets for electricity efficiency programs totalled $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. When combined with natural gas program budgets, total energy efficiency budgets in 2010 were about $5.5 billion, ACEE said.
Read the full article here at environmentalleader.com.

DOE End-USE Energy Consumption breakdowns:

Solar Suitcases Help provide Health Care in Remote Settings
“I was seeing the sickest patients I’d ever seen in rooms not as well equipped as an American garage,” she said. “I would be there at night and think, ‘I’m just here to watch these women die.’” So instead of giving medical advice to her Nigerian patients, California physician Dr. Laura Stachel decided to get them more reliable power. Stachel’s husband, Ron Aronson, jumped in and created a solar system that fit inside a suitcase, cost less than $1,000, and provides enough power for lighting, suction machines, and other low-power devices.
The suitcases are hand-made, take abut three hours to assemble, and are simple to use and difficult to break. Stachel and Aronson have formed WE CARE Solar (wecaresolar.org) that has now delivered 80 compact solar systems to health clinics around the world. A larger, one kW system at a Nigerian clinic that was the inspiration for the solar suitcases coincided with a 70% drop in the maternal mortality rate with no variable besides the new power supply. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 2011, http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-10-16/business/30288346_1_health-clinics-solar-system-nigeria)

October 2011

Business, Labor, Workforce and Education Leaders Launch Skills2Compete-Colorado Campaign
Skills2Compete-Colorado launched October 29th with the release of Colorado’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs. The study, written by National Skills Coalition in partnership with SkillBuild Colorado and released today at the Colorado Community College Summit, projects close to 300,000 “middle-skill” job openings for Colorado by 2019. The report found that although the recession has slowed current employment growth, middle-skill jobs (including new jobs and replacement) will account for nearly 40 percent of all openings between 2009 and 2019. As Colorado moves from recession into recovery, employers will likely once again face the challenge of finding quality middle-skill workers—slowing the pace of economic growth.
Despite Colorado’s investments in postsecondary education and workforce training, the state is at serious risk of a “middle-skills gap.” And at the national level, proposals by Congress threaten to dismantle the state’s public workforce system. Colorado must ensure that its workforce has the necessary education and training to meet the labor demands of the future in order to ensure the state’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
Backed by a broad coalition of business, labor, workforce and education leaders, the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign is calling on state leaders to embrace a strong vision to guide an economic and education strategy that would allow all Coloradoans to improve their skills and secure Colorado’s place in a 21st-century economy:
Every Colorado resident should have access to the equivalent of at least two years of education or training past high school—leading to a vocational credential, industry certification, or one’s first two years of college—to be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries. Every person must also have access to the basic skills needed to pursue such education.
Skills2Compete-Colorado joins thirteen other states as part of NSC’s national Skills2Compete initiative, a non-partisan campaign to ensure the nation’s workforce has the skills needed to meet business demand, foster innovation, and grow shared prosperity. Skills2Compete encourages America to address U.S. competitiveness in a way that includes the vast majority of future workers—jobs in the middle of the skilled labor market that require some training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.
**Special thanks to SkillBuild Colorado, iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology), the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the Colorado Community College System, Paula Gomez Farrell and Mary Russell for funding related to the production and release of this report.
To learn more about the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign, go to www.nationalskillscoalition.org/Colorado
The National Small Business Association has compiled a list of obstacles to energy efficiency in small businesses.

September 2011

Telluride Daily Planet: September 15, 2011
Telluride CO- A recent Department of Energy study showed that when an electric meter is calculated in dollars rather than kilowatts per hour, a household’s energy consumption can easily drop 10 percent.
When people saw how much their upcoming bill was going to cost, they were more inclined to rethink cranking up the heat or leaving an extra light on at night.
The region’s electric provider, San Miguel Power Association, is teaming up with the Telluride Foundation, SourceGas and iCAST, a company out of the Front Range, to offer homeowners and businesses a similar opportunity but in. The program is still in the planning stages, but with any luck, it will be rolled out by November.
The program, dubbed Efficiency San Juan, will offer area residents and business owners energy efficiency assessments that calculate how much money can be saved if they make their spaces more efficient.
It will also provide subsequent retrofitting depending on the assessment’s results and low-interest financing to help people put up the intial investment of the retrofitting.
“The goal for us is to make it as cash-flow neutral or positive as possible,” said Ravi Malhotra, the founder and president of iCAST, which stands for the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology.

July 2011

Renewable Energy Reaches Milestone
Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and is closing in on oil.
During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73% of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65% more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly.
Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07% compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07% when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06%, hydropower for 35.41%, wind for 12.87%, geothermal for 2.45%, and solar for 1.16%.
Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly,” for the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 12.94% of net U.S. electrical generation – up from 10.31% during the same period in 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.74% of net U.S. electrical generation.
In terms of actual production, renewable electrical output increased by 25.82% in the first three months of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010. Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8%, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3%, hydropower output expanded by 28.7%, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8%. Only electricity from biomass sources dropped – by 4.8%. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8% and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4% while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7%.
May 2012
 
Montrose Manufacturers, Big And Small
 
MONTROSE, Colo.-Plenty of manufacturers call Montrose home, but many of those in the community are unaware of this.

Two of them are TEI Rock Drills and 4EverLight International. Both of their owners say their companies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Sue Frank, president of TEI Rock Drills, said, “You’re in a smaller community that allows your employees to be more family oriented because they don’t have an hour long commute to work everyday.”
April 2012
 
how sustainability can drive economic benefits
Ravi Malhotra, founder and president of the Denver nonprofit iCast, said his organization is focused on creating community-based sustainability programs that have the potential to bolster employment and channel money back into the local economy. And instead of new structures, iCast is focused on existing homes, commercial buildings, government facilities and schools.
“The Holy Grail is retrofitting what we already have,” Malhotra said.
March 2012
 
Counties look at energy development conservation plans
La Junta, Colo. — Matt Heimrich, Crowley County, presented a plan for conservation of energy developed by the Southeast Colorado Resource Conservation & Development Council through the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology to the Otero County Commissioners on Monday. The counties in Southeast Colorado are an ideal location for the program, which is open to all, even businesses.
Note to article: During the initiation of ResourceSmart, university students performed audits at no cost to the client. These audits were part of pilot projects which are no longer being offered. ResourceSmart does however offer audits at very competitive pricing. Please contact us for more information.

iCAST featured in YOURHUB 3/29/2012
ICAST, a Lakewood-based nonprofit, will receive a sum of $590,118 and will use those funds to look at a variety of different and innovative ways to cut energy bills with equipment upgrades and the promotion and study of behavioral changes.
Some of the grant funds will be used to upgrade items needed in units, such as windows, boilers and insulation, if necessary.
“Those are typical ways; a lot of people have been doing those for years,” said Ravi Malhotra, founder and president of iCAST.

iCAST comes to Steamboat springs
Thanks to the efforts of “Energy Rabbit” John Spezia, iCAST president Ravi Malhotra has agreed to come to Steamboat Springs to make a presentation (maybe even two) between April 17 and April 20. These meetings are intended to lay the groundwork to give our community the opportunity to finance sustainability programs in the Yampa Valley.
iCAST has the expertise and resources to manage energy programs that our community wishes to implement via matching funding. They specialize in running energy efficiency projects, helping bring more energy conservancy measures to communities.
We invite you to participate in this community effort by attending a 1-2 hour workshop in Steamboat Springs. We are tentatively scheduling the workshops to be on:
Tues, April 18 from noon to 1:30 pm
and/or
Wed., April 19 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm
Please reply to this email if you are interested and can attend one or both of these events. If you are interested in attending, but are unable to participate in either of these options, please let us know when you are available by replying to this message with your preferred day and time.

iCAST Training wrapping up energy efficiency classes
iCAST Training is currently wrapping up energy efficiency classes provided through the Green Careers for Coloradans grant program.
We would like to thank the Local Community Agency for making this possible.
We are pleased to announce our success in training 180 participants in Fundamentals of Energy Efficiency and 169 trainees in BPI Building Analyst Certification over the last two years . Thank you to all program stakeholders and participants for their dedication to this program and helping to make an impact and achieve such tremendous results!

ResourceSmart launches for WCCA members
iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology), a Lakewood, Colorado-based nonprofit, is offering a simple yet comprehensive energy efficiency improvement program designed to create a one-stop shop for WCCA members. Our program ‘ResourceSmart WCCA’ will provide a hassle-free experience that will help WCCA members save money and lower their energy use, create a more comfortable and safe environment, and positively impact the local economy.
Why Sign Up?
• Start seeing positive dollar savings from day one
• Increase the value of your property
• Increase the comfort and safety of your home
• Reduce your energy consumption
• Save on all your energy costs
• Lower your environmental impact
• Take advantage of rebates and many saving opportunities
How our simple process works:
1. Sign up and schedule an energy assessment for your home. Typical energy assessments take between 2-4 hours depending on the size of your property.
2. Energy assessor schedules a follow-up appointment within one week to provide a detailed report with costs, savings & payback for each energy efficiency improvement recommended.
3. You decide which, if any, improvements meet your needs. Low-interest financing options are available through local banks.
4. iCAST oversees selection, training, and work quality of all subcontractors.
5. Once all work is completed, iCAST inspects for quality and approves payment to sub-contractors with owner’s approval.
6. Watch your savings increase immediately and continue to grow each year!
Next Steps
Sign up for an energy assessment by 3-31-12 for ONLY $25 (market price is normally $335). This energy assessment will identify at least 25% energy savings for your home!

“Collaborative Consumption” Hub Captures Growth in the Sharing Economy.
Collaborative Consumption, a.k.a. “the sharing economy,” describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before. A new website, the Collaborative Consumption Hub, has assembled over a thousand examples of collaborative consumption efforts from around the world. From enormous, established marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending, peer-to-peer travel, and car sharing (such as ZipCar and HourCar), Collaborative Consumption is creating new business opportunities and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

Fourth Quarter 2011 Housing Market Conditions. Multifamily units on the rise!
The report also includes comparisons with the previous quarter and the fourth quarter of 2010, profiles of economic and housing market activity in each of HUD’s 10 regions, and updates of historical trends in national and regional housing markets. This report’s feature article discusses the methodology used to incorporate American Community Survey data into the Fair Market Rents calculation process.
Key findings:
• Builders took out permits for 413,600 new single-family homes and 176,400 multifamily units, down 7% and up 35% from the previous year, respectively.
• Single-family housing starts (428,600) fell 9%, while multifamily housing starts (167,400) increased 61%.
• Construction was completed on 444,900 new single-family homes and 130,500 new multifamily units, down 10% and 11% from 2010, respectively.
• The number of new single-family homes sold fell 6.5%, while the median price of new homes rose 1.8% from 2010, to $225,800.
• Builders’ views on the housing market were unchanged from 2010. The NAHB/Wells Fargo composite Housing Market Index averaged 16 points in both 2010 and 2011.
• The average interest rate for 30-year, fixed rate mortgages, as reported by Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, set a record low. It was 4.45% — 24 basis points below the 2010 annual average interest rate.
Read the original article here

Rossen Reports: Is your child breathing radon gas at school?
What experts call a serious threat in our nation’s schools is invisible to the naked eye. TODAY National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.
When we send our children to school, we assume that they’re safe; that they’re learning in a healthy environment. But health officials say there’s a danger in the air: a toxic cancer causing gas in thousands of classrooms nationwide. And, we found, many districts are doing nothing about it. We visited a school in Pennsylvania and found second-graders are ready to learn. But what the kids can’t see, smell or taste are high levels of radioactive radon gas inside their classrooms. Tests show nearly double the EPA’s accepted limit.
Radon develops from the breakdown of soil and rock, seeping into buildings and the air we breathe. Chronic exposure, experts say, could be deadly. And perhaps most disturbing, victims usually don’t realize they have been exposed until years later, when it’s too late. Next to smoking, it is the leading cause of lung cancer — according to the EPA, linked to more than 20,000 deaths every year. “Of all the environmental exposures you get, this is the one that causes the most deaths,” said Bill Field, one of the foremost experts on radon.
Read the original article here at msnbc.msn.com

US Retrofits Worth $1 Trillion Savings Over 10 Years, Report Says
U.S. retrofits could yield $1 trillion of energy savings over 10 years, equivalent to savings of about 30 percent of the country’s annual electricity spend, according to a report by Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors and The Rockefeller Foundation. To achieve the savings, $279 billion would need to be invested in retrofitting the commercial, institutional and residential market segments in the U.S, according to United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models. If all of these retrofits were undertaken it would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent and create 3.3 million “job years.” These jobs would include a range of skill qualifications, and would be geographically diverse, the report says. The authors goes on to investigate a number of financing models which offer the potential to scale investment in these markets. The models include energy services agreements, property-assessed clean energy and on-bill finance. In other green building news, a report by the U.S. Green Building Council and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning argues that environmentally friendly buildings offer greater potential resiliency to natural disasters than their non-green counterparts.
The report, titled Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, examines how the adaption of green building measures and certifications – such as the USGBC’s own LEED credit system – can, for example, reduce a building’s reliance on local resources and energy and help ready it for disasters such as drought and increased temperatures.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

Pollution Control Market to Top $9bn by 2017, Report Says
 
The global air pollution control equipment market should grow significantly once utility, oil and gas companies comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations such as the EPA’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology rules, according to research by business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
Analysis of the Global Air Pollution Control Equipment in Energy and Power Market finds that the market earned revenues of $7.27 billion in 2010 and estimates this to reach $9.69 billion in 2017.
According to the report, the EPA’s MACT rules will compel pollution control equipment providers to reevaluate products to fulfill emission regulations. Planned projects between 2012 and 2013 are likely to be delayed until 2014, the report says. Increased market saturation due to the influx of solution providers from Asia will also affect the market. These companies are looking to penetrate the retrofit market by offering equipment at competitive prices, Frost & Sullivan says. This will increase price competition within regions and will result in a significant number of mergers and licensee partnerships between local solution providers and foreign companies, the report says.
In July, Duke Energy Ohio threatened to decommission all six coal-fired generation units at a plant near Cincinnati, by Jan. 1, 2015, unless changes are made to MACT regulations. Duke plans to retire the coal-fired units at the nearly 60-year-old W.C. Beckjord Station, saying that changes to make the units MACT-compliant would prove too costly.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

Campus Microgrid Market to Boom
 
Total installed generation capacity for campus microgrids will increase by 164 percent between 2011 and 2017, rising from 620 megawatts to 1.6 gigawatts, according to a new report from Pike Research.
According to Microgrids for Campus Environments, by the end of the forecast period in 2017, the campus microgrid market will reach $777 million in annual revenue.
Microgrids are pockets of distributed energy resources that can be isolated from the utility power grid. Interest in this technology has traditionally been centered on educational campuses but demand is now growing for other campus segments such as the government, health care, industrial, and research campus markets, the report says.
The United States represents the best overall market for microgrids, according to the report. Key factors include pockets of poor power quality scattered throughout the U.S., and the structure of markets for distributed energy resources. The latter, according to Pike, has stimulated creative aggregation possibilities behind the meter at the retail level of power service, meaning that instead of being driven by grid operators, the microgrid market in the U.S. is customer-driven. “Microgrids offer a compelling opportunity for facilities managers in single-owner campuses to take more direct control of their electricity supply,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus.
Read the original article here at EnvironmentalLeader.com

UCSD Saves $900,000 with Energy Dashboard
 
The University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) has installed an energy dashboard to help the school improve the efficiency of their operations, reduce energy use, and combat climate change, according to a press release. The dashboard provides updated energy information for the university’s facilities and equipment, helping the them to save $900,000 a year, reducing energy consumption by 19 million kilowatt hours, and reducing 9,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases. Working with a San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) incentive program, the university used information provided by the energy dashboard to identify inefficiencies in their computer servers. The dashboard provides campus microgrid managers with data on energy use by buildings, floors within buildings and in some cases rooms on a floor. As a result, UC San Diego replaced 514 older computer servers with 270 energy-efficient models. The project reduced energy consumption by 7.9 million kilowatt-hours, saving the university $680,000 annually, and prevents 2,600 metric tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere each year.
In 2005, UC San Diego completed $60 million in energy-saving improvements that cut electricity consumption by 20 percent, saving the university more than $12 million annually. This year, the campus is using $73 million in utility incentives and low-interest bonds as part of a multi-year program to reduce energy consumption in 25 of its older buildings by a combined $6 million a year. Several new energy management solutions have appeared on the market recently, with Constellation NewEnergy, Digital Realty Trust, and Agilewaves all coming to the market with new offerings. UCSD has also installed solar trees on campus to help reduce its electrical energy needs. Meanwhile, the University of California Merced campus was able to save $5 million annually by installing a (MW) solar power system, which provides two-thirds of the campus’ electricity on summer days and 20 percent of the campus’ annual electricity needs.
Read the original article

Colleges Selling Their Green Bona Fides to Students
 
Colleges are using their green credentials to burnish their reputations with prospective students, according to a report in USA Today.
The paper reported that according to 2010’s College Sustainability Report Card, 69 percent of colleges and universities are now including environmental pitches into their admission and enrollment systems, a massive increase from the 27 percent from the year before. The College Sustainability Report Card is produced by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Massachusetts.
As part of the pitch, colleges are showing off new energy efficient buildings and introducing students to their recycling programs. The paper reported that at the American University, the school uses online communication methods to interact with new students, reducing its demand for paper. Colorado State University, meanwhile, is publicizing the fact that it is building what may be the largest solar power plant on a college campus in the country, and uses batter powered vans to take families on tours of their campus. The paper interviewed one student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who said she chose its business school specifically because it offered an MBA program with a focus on sustainability issues.
Texas A&M publicized that it has managed to reduce its energy intensity by 33 percent while expanding the size of the campus. The University of California, San Diego touted the $900,000 it saved by incorporating an energy dashboard. Even many college athletic departments are starting to see their environmental footprints as a top priority.
Over half of the schools surveyed by the College Sustainability Report Card have made a carbon reduction commitment. Increased attention to climate change is reflected at an impressive 58 percent of the schools through a commitment to carbon reduction. Fifty-two percent of the schools have signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, while 23 percent made carbon reduction commitments in addition to, or instead of, the Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Nearly half of the schools produce renewable energy on campus. Facilities for producing solar, wind, bio, or geothermal energy are in operation at 45 percent of the schools.
Read the original article

January 2012

Making Way for a Bigger Turbine
New Hampshire, USA — They stand as looming testaments to innovation, growing ever more prominent and powerful. Yet for much of 2011, wind installations remained somewhat obscured, eclipsed by the media storm surrounding the solar industry.
The truth of the matter is, however, that the wind industry bounced back from a disappointing 2010 with a surge in both installations and sales. The wind industry quietly and methodically continues to forge ahead, and today it dominates the renewable energy landscape in new installations.
Through October (the most recent numbers available by press time), the wind industry placidly posted three strong quarters behind a steady drop in prices and the realization that Congress may not extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) past its December 2012 expiration date. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), through the first three quarters of 2011, the wind industry installed 29 wind farms larger in total capacity than the biggest solar project installed during that same period.
With the wind industry eager to continue its momentum with or without the PTC, two things are clear: turbines must get bigger and engineers must work to drive down costs. It’s a proven formula that’s paying dividends beyond the traditional stronghold of the Midwest, as the technology becomes a bigger part of the landscape in places like New York, Massachusetts and Maine.
But how to get there, and from where will the cost gains come? Dan Shreve, a partner with Make Consulting, says his company is looking at just that and has come out with a new report on wind turbine trends. The report breaks down the materials used for components like hubs and blades, and projects how a component’s cost impacts its performance. Sometimes, more costly materials can open the door to cost-savings with other components. Engineers have found this to be the case with rotors, where new materials and novel approaches are pushing costs down and performance up. The result, though, is a turbine capable of better returns.

There is “No Evidence” that Wind Turbine Syndrome Exists, Concludes Expert Panel
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. — If we want wind to continue growing, more turbines will need to be placed in our communities and close to our backyards. And that will inevitably cause more social friction.
Wind supporters cannot discount concerns from local residents about noise and visual impact. With proper communication between developers and communities, many of the potential conflicts can be mitigated or avoided. But there’s a huge difference between concerns of neighbors to wind projects and the faux medical conditions pushed by advocates who claim turbines are a serious threat to human health. Although no conclusive research has shown that wind farms cause health problems, many anti-wind groups have pushed the idea that “Wind Turbine Syndrome” is a widespread problem – elevating legitimate siting concerns to scare tactics. A new study released this week by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection finds that “there is no evidence for a set of health effects…that could be characterized as ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome.’” The supposed health impacts pushed by wind opponents include mental health problems, heart disease and vertigo.
The Department’s Panel was comprised of independent experts in a range of fields associated with the possible health impact of exposure to wind turbines. They explored scientific literature, reports, popular media and public comments and concluded that there was no scientific basis for claims about Wind Turbine Syndrome:
While the panel recommended more research on the impact of “very loud turbines” that could disrupt sleep patterns of some individuals (even though they write that a “‘very quiet wind turbine’ would not likely disrupt even ‘the lightest of sleepers’ at that same distance”), the researchers debunk the broad-based claims about Wind Turbine Syndrome.
There is insufficient evidence that the noise from wind turbines is directly… causing health problems or disease. Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically. Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
The study failed to produce any concrete evidence that “flicker” caused by the shadows of rotating blades causes epileptic seizure, or that turbines cause “pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, [or] headache/migraine.”
The researchers concluded that the most dangerous problem in Massachusetts was from falling ice.

Are Japan’s Megasolar Plans Falling Apart?
 
New Hampshire, U.S.A. — The notable absence from a recent Japanese renewable energy meeting by many political backers — plus blunt comments from some of them — are being interpreted as a sign that Softbank’s ambitious plans for multiple megasolar plants are falling apart.
Last summer Masayoshi Son, president of Japanese conglomerate Softbank, pledged to build ten 20-megawatt solar power plants across the nation at a cost of nearly a billion dollars. To spur investment, he said he’d personally contribute up to $100 million. The company also forged deals with 19 prefectures to promote renewable energy. He was inspired in part, he claims, by the March 11 disaster and the controversy following the nuclear plant meltdowns. Later in the year the company Softbank showed off a 100 kW demo solar installation.
However, the November-held second meeting of the Renewable Energy Council, created in the summer by Son and 35 prefecture leaders, attracted only four governors (versus 19 at the first meeting), points out the Nikkei Weekly [subscription required]. Several remarks from participants were interpreted as either slights against the no-shows or apparent attempts to liven up a “dull atmosphere.” Many of the absentees apparently were attending the National Governor’s Conference earlier in the day — but had plenty of time to get to the scheduled council meeting, the paper notes, suggesting their “concern over Japan’s power needs had given way to interest in fostering international exchanges.” Or, perhaps more ominously, that they sent “stand-ins” to the meeting as a signal that they are “distancing themselves from Son’s megasolar project.”
In addition, the paper cites a late-November press conference at the Saitama prefectural government offices about a local eco-town project, where Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda “grimaced” when asked about Softbank’s megasolar project, then replied that interest in the proposed ¥8 billion construction project “appears to have vanished” even with Softbank footing all but ¥100 million of the deal. He also “seemed to indicate indignation” about Son’s ultimate commitment to such a project, the paper says. Two unidentified governors in eastern and western Japan contacted by the paper reportedly shared those sentiments.
So what has happened in such a short time to seemingly dissolve Softbank’s grand solar plans? A renewable energy law passed by former Prime Minister Kan (a Son ally) requires power utilities to buy renewable-sourced energy at fixed prices, but without direction in either the level or duration of pricing, the Nikkei said. For prefectures that creates a no-win scenario: assuming a ¥35/kWh starting point, any higher prices would simply be passed on to consumers, but low purchase prices wouldn’t allow the plants to make a profit (they’d need ¥40/kWh). “Kan, who intended to use the megasolar project to extend his Prime-Ministership, instead left behind an awkward parting gift,” the paper muses.
Son, quoted by the paper, has pledged to press on with the 200-MW target “no matter what level the purchase price is set at,” explaining that “if we spill red ink, other companies would wither.” But with Kan no longer in the picture, that purchase price clarity and stability is likely gone as well, and Son’s dreams of a megasolar future “could end up as pie in the sky.”
“Not so long ago, the solar power business was being looked at as a driving force that would reinvigorate Japan’s stagnant economy,” the paper editorializes. But with primarily Chinese suppliers squeezing prices for everyone, compounded by the yen’s continued historic valuations, “it is not turning out that way.”

Sunflower Inspires New Space-saving CSP Layout
New Hampshire, USA — Researchers at MIT and Germany’s RWTH Aachen U. have devised a new way to set up a concentrated solar power (CSP) project that both increases the system’s efficiency and reduces the land footprint — all thanks to inspiration from Mother Nature.
The Andalucia, Spain “PS10″ CSP install incorporates more than 600 heliostat mirrors tracking the sun through the day, all arranged radially around a central tower and staggered to align every other row — but this also creates some unavoidable shadowing and blocking that reduces the light reflected to the tower. The team, led by MIT’s Alexander Mitsos and postgrad Corey Noone and RWTH’s Manuel Torrilhon, developed a computational model to evaluate the efficiency of heliostat layouts, dividing mirrors into sections and calculating the light reflectivity in each, and comparing to PS10′s layout to determine overall efficiency. What they discovered, and reported in the journal Solar Energy, was that using their numerical optimization brought the fanned-out layers closer together, reducing the amount of land needed without affecting the mirrors’ ability to reflect light.
They then compared the layout to the “Fermat spiral” pattern seen in, among other occurrences in nature, the florets of a sunflower, which are turned at a mathematical “golden angle” (roughly 137°) to each other. By rearranging a model of a CSP field to resemble this layout, they calculate a 20 percent smaller footprint than the PS10 field in Andalucia. And the spiral pattern reduces problematic shading and blocking, thus increasing the system’s total efficiency, too.
From the paper abstract:
Specifically, this new heuristic is shown to improve the existing PS10 field by 0.36% points in efficiency while simultaneously reducing the land area by 15.8%. Moreover, the new pattern achieves a better trade-off between land area usage and efficiency, i.e., it can reduce the area requirement significantly for any desired efficiency. Finally, the improvement in area becomes more pronounced with an increased number of heliostats, when maximal efficiency is the objective.
Concentrated solar power has been somewhat overshadowed by plunging-cost solar PV, leading some developers to swap CSP plans to solar PV technology (roughly 3-GW worth over the past year or so). However, CSP has some tricks up its sleeve. Not only does it have a foothold in energy storage, but a recent NREL study suggests that having CSP/storage gives grids more flexibility to add other less-constant renewable energy sources in their portfolio. (This article goes into more detail about the pros/cons of each type of CSP technology.)

Free Energy Efficiency Training for Western Slope Contractors and Individuals
TELLURIDE–As a result of recent grant funding, the International Center for Ap-propriate & Sustainable Technology will offer a free energy efficiency training and BPI Certification program in Telluride. On Jan. 13, iCAST, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization, has announced two energy-efficiency training and certification classes that will come to Telluride. iC-AST was recently awarded additional training funds from the Labor’s Communi-ty Agency and Green Careers for Colora-dans ARRA grant program that will be specifically used to bring iCAST’s energy efficiency training to help develop addi-tional skills for area contractors and indi-viduals and subsequently earn them addi-tional work.
As part of the training, iCAST will use local residences to demonstrate the energy assessment process – offering free energy assessments to selected homes in ex-change for assisting in the hands-on train-ing component of the certification pro-gram.
In addition, iCAST will be working with local contractors to help instruct certain class sections related to their area of ex-pertise, including HVAC and Insulation. For more information on San Miguel Pow-er Partners, please visit http://www.icastusa.org/smpp/.
For more information about how you can obtain BPI Certification for free, please call 303-462-4100 x 806 or email na-taliel@icastusa.org. Seating is limited so make sure you reserve your spot ASAP. iCAST (International Center for Appropri-ate & Sustainable Technology) iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses on empowering people through social, envi-ronmental, and economical means. (montrosemirror.com)

Organic Grain Production Found to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Ongoing research done by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Michel Cavigelli in its Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab found that after 3 years, an organic grain production system reduced carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions relative to two other production systems. According to the research findings, the organic system removed more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it contributed, while the other systems resulted in net increases. The results are based on data from comparable three-year crop rotations that begin with corn followed by a rye grass cover crop, rotate to soybeans and winter wheat in the second year, and conclude with a legume crop. Dr. Cavigelli’s team identified the substantial energy savings achieved in the organic system by using natural fertility sources, especially for nitrogen, as the critical factor in reducing its overall impact on climate change. (US Department of Agriculture, 2011. http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science-a-environmental/29213-organic-grain-production-results-in-reduced-greenhouse-gas-emissions.html)

California’s “Flexible Purpose Corporation” Law Requires Environmental Accountability
A revolutionary model for corporations to “do good” better was recently signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. Assembly Bill 361 creates two new classes of corporations that are legally required to pursue a positive impact on society and the environment: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations. The new legal structures widen traditional corporate shareholder value to include stakeholder value, extending to environmental and social responsibility and increased transparency and accountability. California is the first state to pass the Flexible Purpose Corporation model but the sixth state to approve the Benefit Corporation classification. California joins New Jersey, Virginia, Hawaii, Vermont and Maryland that officially allow Benefit Corporations. (BrandChannel, October 17, 2011, http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2011/10/17/California-Law-Creates-New-Category-of-Positive-Impact-Corporation.aspx)

CarbonVisuals Shows Carbon Footprint of Every Public Building in the U.K.
Carbon Visuals specializes in providing a ‘feel’ for carbon data. With a grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board the organization has been exploring real-time visualization and the visualization of large data-sets. One of the results is an interactive visualization of the carbon footprint of every public building in England and Wales – 40 thousand of them! The visualization uses a database of UK Display Energy Certificates – the energy ratings that all public buildings must display. Once geocoded the ratings allowed display of the buildings’ carbon footprint in 3D in Google Earth as actual volumes of carbon dioxide gas at the location of the building itself. (CarbonVisuals, 2011, http://carbonvisuals.com/work/google-earth-uk-public-buildings)

December 2011

WaterCredit Puts Microfinance Tools to Work in Water and Sanitation Sectors
WaterCredit is an initiative of Water.org that puts microfinance tools to work in the water and sanitation (WASH) sector. It is the first comprehensive program of its kind that connects the microfinance and WASH communities to scale up access to credit and capital for individual- and household-based WASH needs and does so with multiple models across multiple countries. Through WaterCredit, Water.org aims to channel and redeploy financial resources more efficiently, enabling increasing numbers of people to meet their water and sanitation needs through demand-driven, market-based services and reducing the need for never-ending subsidy. The WaterCredit.org website has been designed with different types of stakeholders in mind: microfinance institutions (MFIs); WASH experts; catalytic philanthropists; and social investors and commercial banks.
More than 50,000 loans have been made and more than 316,000 people now have access to clean water and safe sanitation as a direct result of WaterCredit. (Water.org, 2011,http://watercredit.org/about/)

IBM Backs ‘People Power’ as Next Renewable
Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured, and such human activities as walking, jogging and bicycling could soon be used to power homes, offices and cities, according to IBM.
The computer giant has listed “people power” as one of its 2011 “5 in 5″ – an annual list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.
IBM lists such potential innovations as a battery charger attached to the wheel of a bicycle that harnesses energy created from the wheels turning as one example of how such technology could work.
Research into the capture of wasted energy has been a growing trend in renewable energy circles for some time now, but it is usually associated with harnessing untapped power in machines – such as in motorized vehicles’ braking systems – rather than human-generated energy.
The other four, less environment-focused innovations named in this year’s 5 for 5 are passwords for ATM machines and computer programs based on our genetic makeup, using brainpower to directly control technology, the end of the technology divide between rich and poor countries and the death of junk spam email.

Energy-Efficiency Law Proving Itself Successful In Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania energy-efficiency law has resulted in lowering the state’s electric load by 2,073 GWh, 41% higher than the goal set by Act 129. This represents $278 million in annual savings for electric ratepayers, according to a report released by The PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment.
“We have also reduced air pollution that leads to global warming significantly, cutting 23 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the installed energy efficiency measures, the same as taking four million cars off the road for a year,” says Courtney Lane, senior energy policy analyst for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. “And the cherry on the top is that our electricity grid is becoming more stable, along with electricity prices, every year this program is in force.”
Act 129, which was signed into law in October 2008, requires that Pennsylvania utilities deliver energy efficiency programs that reduce electric load by 1% by May 31, and by 3% by May 31, 2013. It also requires a total peak demand reduction of 4.5% by May 31.
This must be accomplished while spending no more than 2% of the utilities’ 2006 revenue per year. Savings must be required at lower cost when looking at the incremental spending and savings needed to achieve the 2013 goals.
This is because the savings targets ramp up in years three and four, while the spending cap does not. If the next five-year goal were set to 1% savings a year for a total of 5% savings, the overall cost per annual kWh saved has to be lower than for the first four-year period, according to the report.
Current saving goals and spending caps require a cost per kWh saved at the low end of similar programs; therefore, PennFuture recommends leaving savings goals in the constrained scenario unchanged.
These goals would save approximately 1% of electricity sales annually, or about 5% in 2018. This represents an annual load reduction of over 7,300 GWh, annual ratepayer savings of $932 million, a lifetime reduction in emissions equivalent to taking 14 million cars off the road and a net lifetime gain of over 14,000 jobs.
A budget cap represents an artificial limit on benefits that efficiency can bring to the Pennsylvania ratepayers, according to the report. By leaving the rate cap in place, the state is leaving a potential additional 15% savings on the table, which could be procured at well below the cost of new supply-side resources.
Leading states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are now achieving over 2% savings per year or have submitted multi-year plans with greater than 2% annual savings. Therefore, as an aggressive yet achievable goal, PennFuture recommends further ramping up Pennsylvania’s efficiency programs to achieve a cumulative savings of 2.75% after the first two years, and another 6% after the next three years, for a total of 8.75% savings. This allows a ramp-up in program savings during the first two years in order to achieve 2% annual savings for the next three years, which is in line with leading states.
Although Act 129 is a remarkable step for energy efficiency in Pennsylvania, PennFuture believes that a few policy changes could fully unlock efficiency’s potential in the state.
In particular, the group recommends changes in the total resource cost test such as lowering the discount rate, allowing fossil fuel savings and allowing benefits to last more than 15 years.
PennFuture also suggests exploring decoupling or performance incentives. Decoupling removes utility disincentives for investing in efficiency, while performance incentives may create a positive incentive for successful utility efficiency programs.
The current Act 129 program expires on May 31, 2013. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) has until Nov. 30, 2013, to determine if it has been cost-effective. If so, the PUC is required to set new savings goals. However, if the PUC does not take action well in advance of the November 2013 date, there will be a “blackout” period for utility energy efficiency programs, according to the report.

Greenhouse Gas Initiative Gains $1.6 Billion for the Regional Economy
In a new report, Analysis Group researchers have quantified the economic benefits from implementation of the multi-state regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI). It is the first report to measure the economic impact of such a program across all states in the region by focusing on the actual impacts of economic activity, using a rigorous “follow the money” approach and well-established modeling tools and methods. The firm tracked the path of RGGI-related dollars as they leave the pockets of generators who buy CO2 allowances, show up in electricity prices and customer bills, make their way into state expenditure accounts, and then roll out into the economy. Results found that the regional economy gains more than $1.6 billion in economic value added, customers save nearly $1.1 billion on electricity bills, and an additional $174 million on natural gas and heating oil bills, for a total of $1.3 billion in savings over the next decade. (The Analysis Group, November 15, 2011, http://www.analysisgroup.com/rggi.aspx)

NREL: Commercial Mowers Use More Gas Than Cars
Regularly-used commercial lawnmowers can consume more fuel than a typical car, according to a guide to alternative fuel vehicles published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
A high-use commercial lawnmower consumes as much as 2,000 gallons of fuel a year, more than four times as much as a typical 25 mpg car consumes in a year, according to the Clean Cities Guide to Alternative Fuel Commercial Lawn Equipment.
Switching to an alternative fuel mower may save on fuel and maintenance costs, extend mower life, reduce fuel spillage and fuel theft, and promote a “green” image, the guide says.
But it may be easier for companies with ready access to an alternative energy source – such as a golf course with an electric charging station for its carts – to use such vehicles than for those without easy access to an alternative fuel source, the guide says.
The guide details manufacturers, models and specification for mowers run on compressed natural gas, biodiesel, electricity and propane. It also explains incentive programs available when purchasing an alternative fuel mower.
According to the report mowers are responsible for 1 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption. In 2009, Google tried to mitigate some petroleum use by employing goats to keep the its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters free of weeds. The company was employing 200 goats at a cost about the same as a mowing service.

November 2011

Emerging Market Firms Gain Competitive Advantage Through Sustainability
A new study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) identifies 16 emerging- market firms that they say are turning eco-consciousness into a source of competitive advantage. These “new sustainability champions” are using greenery to reduce costs, motivate workers and forge relationships. India’s Shree Cement, developed the world’s most water-efficient method for making cement by using air-cooling rather than water-cooling. Manila Water reduced the amount of water it was losing, through wastage and illegal tapping, from 63% in 1997 to 12% in 2010 by making water affordable for the poor. Broad Group, a Chinese maker of air conditioners, taps the waste heat from buildings to power its machines. Zhangzidao FisheryGroup, a Chinese aquaculture company, recycles uneaten fish feed to fertilize crops. Many of the 16 firms have found that, when natural resources are scarce and consumers are cash-strapped, greenery can be a lucrative business strategy. (The Economist, September 17, 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21529015)

Global Annual Water Use Per-Capita

EPA’s list of “fuel sipper” vehicles
The 2012 Mitsubishi i electric vehicle has come first in the EPA’s list of “fuel sipper” vehicles, with miles per gallon equivalent of 112 combined, 126 city and 99 highway.
The 2012 Fuel Economy Guide, published this week by the EPA and Department of Energy, ranks fuel economy leaders within each vehicle category, from two-seaters to large SUVs. Each vehicle listing in the guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost, calculated based on the vehicle’s miles per gallon rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices.
Some of the other fuel economy leaders are as follows (where the most fuel efficient vehicle is a plug-in hybrid or electric, a conventional or regular hybrid vehicle is also listed):
• Minicompact: Scion iQ
• Subcompact: (as well as the i-MiEV), Chevy Sonic 5, Ford Fiesta FWD and Ford Fiesta SFE FWD
• Compact: Chevy Volt, Honda Civic Hybrid
• Midsize Cars: Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius
• Large Cars: Hyundai Sonata
• Minivans: Mazda 5
The online version of the guide allows purchasers to input their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate. EPA and DOE will provide online updates of fuel economy information as more 2012 vehicles become available.
Honda has launched the 2013 Fit EV (pictured) at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and will begin leasing car in California and Orgeon next summer, Green Car Congress reports. Google, Stanford University and the City of Torrance, Calif., will test the Fit EV as part of Honda’s Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program.
The Fit EV is designed as an urban commuter car, with a driving range of about 123 miles per charge, and it can recharge in as little as three hours. It comes with a power meter that alerts drivers to optimal driving conditions. The car’s suggested retail price is $36,625, and Honda expects to produce about 1,100 Fit EVs over the next three years.
Nissan North America has integrated Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint Network into its own information systems, to provide a full list of Coulomb public charging locations via the Nissan website. The carmaker says the site is the most comprehensive listing of stations in the U.S., drivers the ability to find current and future charging stations, as well real-time charging station availability. The website also shows all public charging stations in the nation that have been documented by the Department of Energy.
Meanwhile, GE Energy Industrial Solutions has finalized a sale and distribution agreement with EV manufacturer CODA Automotive, which will give buyers a chance to bundle the GE WattStation Wall Mount level two EV charging station with their car purchase.

Free Database On Hazardous Building Materials Launched
Design firm Perkins+Will has launched a free, universally accessible database aimed at educating people on building materials that are, or are suspected of being, hazardous to human and environmental health.
The database is based on the “precautionary principle,” the idea that in the absence of scientific consensus, an action merits precautionary treatment if it has a suspected risk of causing harm to humans or to the environment.
Included in the site is a list of substances which are known or suspected to be common asthma triggers, sourced from governmental lists, and a list of flame retardants, featuring original research by the Green Research Policy Institute. The list details the content of asthma triggers and flame retardants by cataloging these substances and their known or suspected health and environmental impacts.

Efficiency Could Cut Electricity Use 15%, Report Says
Energy efficiency is likely to bring down U.S. electricity consumption by five to 15 percent by 2020, relative to forecast trends, according to a report by The Brattle Group.
Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in 2020 (pdf) is based on a survey of 50 energy experts from utilities, non-profits, government, universities, research labs and consulting firms. It finds that electric peak demand is likely to drop by 7.5 to 15 percent, and natural gas consumption by five to 10 percent, compared to forecast trends.
The report says these reductions will likely be caused by the rising cost of electricity and natural gas, advances in appliance and building technology, new rate designs, and cultural shifts, among other factors.
The Brattle Group said it found a surprising consensus on the impacts of improved energy efficiency. But it also found variation across regions, sectors and end-uses. For example, it expects that the West North Central Division will only reduce energy use by about 1.5 to 2.5 percent, while the Mountain Division will cut consumption by five to 16 percent.
The report found that 10 to 30 percent of commercial and industrial customers will participate in dynamic pricing programs, compared to between 7.5 and 20 percent of residential consumers.
Last month a report by Capital-E found that energy efficiency financing has the potential to jump from $20 billion to $150 billion over the next ten years. The report warns, however, that energy efficiency financing now stands at less than a fifth of its cost-effective potential, even after decades of public and private support.
U.S. utilities each spent anywhere from $0.02 to $4.80 per MWh of retail sales on energy efficiency programs in 2009, according to a report released last week by investor advocacy group Ceres.

Home Li-ion Batteries Let Users Store 6 kWh of Solar or Low-Cost Grid Electricity
NEC Corp. has commercialized a power storage system using a lithium-ion battery to control household power use automatically. The system comprises a lithium-ion battery with an input/output capacity of two kilowatts and a storage capacity of six-kilowatt hours, and a controller. When connected to a household power panel, the system links to the power system of a utility company, electric devices at home, a photovoltaic generation system, and others so that automatic power control may operate interactively. Users can store photovoltaic (PV) generated power or low-cost late-night electricity for use in daytime, which will result in reduced consumption of power from the ordinary power grid at peak times and lowered utility costs. (Japan for Sustainability, 2011, http://www.japanfs.org/en/pages/031323.html)

Calif. Dethroned in Rankings, As States Increase Efficiency Spend
Massachusetts has bumped California from its spot as the most energy-efficient state, in a scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The scorecard, in its fifth edition, ranks states based on their policies and programs for energy efficiency in the commercial, industrial, residential and transportation sectors.
It shows that after California – knocked from the leader’s spot for the first time – the most energy efficient states are New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut and Maryland.
The worst-performing states are North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma, while the most improved states are Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee.
ACCEE found that states are using energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost savings, promote technological innovation and stimulate growth. It said that states’ budgets for electricity efficiency programs totalled $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. When combined with natural gas program budgets, total energy efficiency budgets in 2010 were about $5.5 billion, ACEE said.
Read the full article here at environmentalleader.com.

DOE End-USE Energy Consumption breakdowns:

Solar Suitcases Help provide Health Care in Remote Settings
“I was seeing the sickest patients I’d ever seen in rooms not as well equipped as an American garage,” she said. “I would be there at night and think, ‘I’m just here to watch these women die.’” So instead of giving medical advice to her Nigerian patients, California physician Dr. Laura Stachel decided to get them more reliable power. Stachel’s husband, Ron Aronson, jumped in and created a solar system that fit inside a suitcase, cost less than $1,000, and provides enough power for lighting, suction machines, and other low-power devices.
The suitcases are hand-made, take abut three hours to assemble, and are simple to use and difficult to break. Stachel and Aronson have formed WE CARE Solar (wecaresolar.org) that has now delivered 80 compact solar systems to health clinics around the world. A larger, one kW system at a Nigerian clinic that was the inspiration for the solar suitcases coincided with a 70% drop in the maternal mortality rate with no variable besides the new power supply. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 2011, http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-10-16/business/30288346_1_health-clinics-solar-system-nigeria)

October 2011

Business, Labor, Workforce and Education Leaders Launch Skills2Compete-Colorado Campaign
Skills2Compete-Colorado launched October 29th with the release of Colorado’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs. The study, written by National Skills Coalition in partnership with SkillBuild Colorado and released today at the Colorado Community College Summit, projects close to 300,000 “middle-skill” job openings for Colorado by 2019. The report found that although the recession has slowed current employment growth, middle-skill jobs (including new jobs and replacement) will account for nearly 40 percent of all openings between 2009 and 2019. As Colorado moves from recession into recovery, employers will likely once again face the challenge of finding quality middle-skill workers—slowing the pace of economic growth.
Despite Colorado’s investments in postsecondary education and workforce training, the state is at serious risk of a “middle-skills gap.” And at the national level, proposals by Congress threaten to dismantle the state’s public workforce system. Colorado must ensure that its workforce has the necessary education and training to meet the labor demands of the future in order to ensure the state’s economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
Backed by a broad coalition of business, labor, workforce and education leaders, the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign is calling on state leaders to embrace a strong vision to guide an economic and education strategy that would allow all Coloradoans to improve their skills and secure Colorado’s place in a 21st-century economy:
Every Colorado resident should have access to the equivalent of at least two years of education or training past high school—leading to a vocational credential, industry certification, or one’s first two years of college—to be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries. Every person must also have access to the basic skills needed to pursue such education.
Skills2Compete-Colorado joins thirteen other states as part of NSC’s national Skills2Compete initiative, a non-partisan campaign to ensure the nation’s workforce has the skills needed to meet business demand, foster innovation, and grow shared prosperity. Skills2Compete encourages America to address U.S. competitiveness in a way that includes the vast majority of future workers—jobs in the middle of the skilled labor market that require some training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.
**Special thanks to SkillBuild Colorado, iCAST (International Center for Appropriate & Sustainable Technology), the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the Colorado Community College System, Paula Gomez Farrell and Mary Russell for funding related to the production and release of this report.
To learn more about the Skills2Compete-Colorado campaign, go to www.nationalskillscoalition.org/Colorado
The National Small Business Association has compiled a list of obstacles to energy efficiency in small businesses.

September 2011

Telluride Daily Planet: September 15, 2011
Telluride CO- A recent Department of Energy study showed that when an electric meter is calculated in dollars rather than kilowatts per hour, a household’s energy consumption can easily drop 10 percent.
When people saw how much their upcoming bill was going to cost, they were more inclined to rethink cranking up the heat or leaving an extra light on at night.
The region’s electric provider, San Miguel Power Association, is teaming up with the Telluride Foundation, SourceGas and iCAST, a company out of the Front Range, to offer homeowners and businesses a similar opportunity but in. The program is still in the planning stages, but with any luck, it will be rolled out by November.
The program, dubbed Efficiency San Juan, will offer area residents and business owners energy efficiency assessments that calculate how much money can be saved if they make their spaces more efficient.
It will also provide subsequent retrofitting depending on the assessment’s results and low-interest financing to help people put up the intial investment of the retrofitting.
“The goal for us is to make it as cash-flow neutral or positive as possible,” said Ravi Malhotra, the founder and president of iCAST, which stands for the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology.

July 2011

Renewable Energy Reaches Milestone
Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and is closing in on oil.
During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73% of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65% more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly.
Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07% compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07% when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06%, hydropower for 35.41%, wind for 12.87%, geothermal for 2.45%, and solar for 1.16%.
Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s “Electric Power Monthly,” for the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 12.94% of net U.S. electrical generation – up from 10.31% during the same period in 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.74% of net U.S. electrical generation.
In terms of actual production, renewable electrical output increased by 25.82% in the first three months of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010. Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8%, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3%, hydropower output expanded by 28.7%, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8%. Only electricity from biomass sources dropped – by 4.8%. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8% and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4% while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7%.