Saturday, October 11, 2014

Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) and the move against distributed power

"The Waltons claim to have a deep commitment to sustainability, but their support for anti-solar initiatives tells a different story," said Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher at ILSR and author of How the Walton Family is Threatening America's Clean Energy Future(pdf). "The Waltons are investing in efforts that both undercut clean energy and prevent average Americans from benefiting economically from solar power."
The report reveals that since 2010, the Waltons have donated $4.5 million to more than 20 organizations, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Prosperity, and the American Enterprise Institute, which are leading state campaigns against clean energy polices such as those that encourage utilities to source a share of their electricity from renewables or allow customers with rooftop solar systems to feed any excess electricity they produce back into the grid and be paid the going retail rate for it.
One such organization, the Goldwater Institute for Public Policy in Arizona, has received half a million in Walton Family Foundation grants and insists "there is no such thing as clean energy." The Goldwater Institute has sued to overturn the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard policy, which mandates that utilities rely on renewable energy for some of their power and also says that a portion of this power must come from small-scale local sources, such as rooftop solar.
What's more, the Waltons are also the largest stockholders of First Solar, an Arizona-based company that builds solar arrays to supply power to utilities. While ILSR acknowledges that "utility-scale solar as a replacement for fossil fuels has significant environmental benefits," First Solar's "Walmart-style approach to energy" runs counter to any attempts to expanddecentralized renewable energy, the report states.
"In contrast to the U.S. solar industry at large, as well as environmental and consumer groups, First Solar views rooftop solar as a threat to its profits and is actively engaged in campaigns in states like Arizona and Nevada to maintain a stronghold over solar electricity, at the expense of local environmental and economic benefits," the Institute says.
In response to the report, Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth and an expert on clean energy-supporting tax and budget policies, said: "Rooftop solar in the U.S. is growing exponentially and more and more Americans have access to affordable solar power that cuts their energy bills and builds a more sustainable energy future. Yet, the Waltons’ money is instead limiting average Americans’ ability to go solar and control their own energy future."
In a separate report released last year, ILSR found that since the Waltons and their flagship enterprise, Walmart, "publicly embraced environmentalism" in 2005, Walmart’s self-reported greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 14 percent. The same study found that the company was generating only 4 percent of its power from wind and solar, despite pledging to go 100 percent renewable. That share has since dropped to 3 percent.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dadla Ponizil, Climate Crusader and Energy Efficiency Expert

Encinitas Resident Conserves Every Drop To Combat Climate Change

This is the first in a two-part series on local homes designed to minimize environmental impact. Tomorrow, we visit a couple living completely off the grid.
Evening Edition
Above: As government leaders debate new laws to combat climate change, it can be easy to feel little responsibility for your own carbon footprint. But not everyone sees it that way.
Aired 10/2/14 on KPBS News.
As government leaders debate new laws to combat climate change, it can be easy to feel little responsibility for your own carbon footprint. But not everyone sees it that way.

It's been hot in San Diego. Record temperature hot.
Our utility grid is taxed, and water is in short supply. Scientists predict all of this will continue thanks to climate change.
Many people are doing what they can to reduce their impact on the environment, but some take it much further than others.
Take Dadla Ponizil. In the past 10 years, the Encinitas resident has transformed his home into a green building wonderland.
"My motivation is primarily to stop climate change," he said. "I'm very concerned."
But Ponizil, 56, doesn't let this concern weigh him down. He calls himself an Energizer Bunny, and he seems to move even faster as he excitedly shows off his home. It's clean, comfortable and tastefully decorated. The many, many green building innovations he's added aren't immediately obvious, but if you look closely you'll see them.
A switch next to the shower in Dadla Ponizil's Encinitas home lets water flow down the drain or be stored for use in his garden.
A switch next to the shower in Dadla Ponizil's Encinitas home lets water flow down the drain or be stored for use in his garden.
In the bathroom, next to the shower, a small switch is labeled "garden" and "drain."
"We have gray water from this shower," Ponizil said. "So when I put this button down, now the water in the shower is going to the backyard."
All shower water can be used on the garden as long as he and his wife use biocompatible soap. And each shower uses about 30 gallons of water, he said.
Dadla Ponizil shows the solar water heater on the roof of his Encinitas home.
Dadla Ponizil shows the solar water heater on the roof of his Encinitas home.

See More at 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

1st Net-Zero Energy Laboratory in the World: The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego

In fall 2013, the J. Craig Venter Institute, a well funded Genomic Research Lab, opened its new 45,000 sq. ft. LEED Platinum, Net-ZERO+ energy lab at the UCSD campus. This is important milestone because Science Labs tend to be heavy energy users, and the design needed to fit into an environment like La Jolla. With this type of building as a 'proof of concept', we can now say, with definitive proof, that it is possible to build Net-Energy-POSITIVE industrial laboratories using reclaimed and recycled, sustainable materials. As we move forward in the NEW-Building space, we must incorporate these techniques and build a mass market for the materials, even as we teach building contractors to innovate and adapt, training their workforce to the new standards.

Overview - see the info-graphic at the link
The scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) are engaged in basic science research that has the potential to change society. One of our quests is to help solve two troubling issues — global climate change and our dependence on hydrocarbons. While doing all we can to find solutions to these issues through our science, we are now building what we believe will be the first carbon-neutral laboratory facility in the world, located on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

The building massing and envelope have been designed to maximize the use of daylight to improve indoor comfort while further reducing overall building energy use. The building is proposed to be "net-zero" for electrical energy, which means that it will produce as much electricity on-site as it consumes annually. This is possible by integrating numerous energy efficiency measures throughout the building systems, incorporating operable windows, efficient lighting, and by reducing internal plug loads wherever possible. On-site electricity is generated through the sizeable photovoltaic roof.

The team has also pursued strategies to minimize water consumption, as appropriate for the semi-arid environment of San Diego. Rainwater will be collected and stored in a cistern, filtered, and then reused for non-potable uses such as PV washing, cooling tower make-up, and site irrigation. High-efficiency plumbing fixtures will be used and the site will be landscaped with native plants that require minimal irrigation.

Labs, and in particular genomic-focused ones, traditionally consume large quantities of energy to both run energy intensive scientific equipment and for heating and cooling. The new JCVI building will feature all of the latest design and construction elements to ensure that it will exceed the requirements for LEED Platinum certification. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cassandra Complex

Many environmentalists have predicted looming environmental catastrophes including climate change, rise in sea levels, irreversible pollution, and an impending collapse of ecosystems, including those of rainforests and ocean reefs.[13] Such individuals sometimes acquire the label of 'Cassandras', whose warnings of impending environmental disaster are disbelieved or mocked.[13] Environmentalist Alan Atkisson states that to understand that humanity is on a collision course with the laws of nature is to be stuck in what he calls the 'Cassandra dilemma' in which one can see the most likely outcome of current trends and can warn people about what is happening, but the vast majority can not, or will not respond, and later if catastrophe occurs, they may even blame you, as if your prediction set the disaster in motion.[14]