Urban Farming, a Bit Closer to the Sun
Jun 17, 2009 by

“City dwellers have long cultivated pots of tomatoes on top of their buildings. But farming in the sky is a fairly recent development in the green roof movement, in which owners have been encouraged to replace blacktop with plants, often just carpets of succulents, to cut down on storm runoff, insulate buildings and moderate urban heat.

“A survey by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, which represents companies that create green roofs, found the number of projects its members had worked on in the United States grew by more than 35 percent last year. In total, the green roofs installed last year cover 6 million to 10 million square feet, the group said.

“Tax incentives have accelerated the plantings of green roofs, particularly in Chicago, which has encouraged green roofs for almost a decade. … New York State has subsidies both for roofs with succulents spread out over a thin layer of soil and for edible plants covering a smaller area. A proposed amendment to New York City’s tax abatement for some roof projects would include green roofs.”

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/dining/17roof.html

Gadget Charger Harvests Wireless Power
Jun 9, 2009 by

Emerging technology: “Ambient electromagnetic radiation–emitted from Wi-Fi transmitters, cell-phone antennas, TV masts, and other sources–can be converted into enough electrical current to keep a battery topped up, says Markku Rouvala, a researcher from the Nokia Research Centre, in Cambridge, U.K.

“Rouvala says that Nokia’s prototype can harvest up to 50 milliwatts of power–enough to slowly recharge a phone, or keep it running in standby mode. “You can basically have it on standby indefinitely,” he says.

“Historically, energy-harvesting technologies have only been found in niche markets, powering wireless sensors and RFID tags in particular. If Nokia’s claims stand up, then it could push energy harvesting into mainstream consumer devices.

“Nokia is being cagey with the details of the project, but Rouvala is confident about its future: “I would say it is possible to put this into a product within three to four years.” ”

Full article: http://beta.technologyreview.com/communications/22764/

Energy Audits Vex Austin’s Home Sellers
Jun 8, 2009 by

“The city of Austin, Texas, has begun requiring homeowners to conduct energy-efficiency audits before they can sell their house, a move it says provides a model for cities and states seeking ways to push energy conservation.”

“The Austin ordinance requires residents selling single-family homes more than 10 years old to obtain an audit and provide the information to potential buyers. While San Francisco and Berkeley, where audits became mandatory in the 1980s, require owners to make recommended upgrades, Austin doesn’t.”

“Sellers who refuse the audit are subject to being charged with a misdemeanor….”    

Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124441959646192659.html

Stimulus Funds Spent to Keep Sun Belt Cool
Jun 8, 2009 by

“Many environmentalists say cutting electricity use for cooling is just as worthwhile as reducing the use of oil or gas for heating. But there are substantial questions about whether it is the most efficient way to save energy.

“Repeated questions have been raised about the effectiveness of weatherization in hot-climate states. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which evaluates the program for the Energy Department, released a study last year questioning the program’s results in Texas, which will get $327 million in weatherization money from the stimulus law. The laboratory found that insulating homes did not save a significant amount of money on cooling, a finding it said was consistent with previous studies.”

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/science/earth/08weatherize.html  

Old Wood Is New Coal
Jun 3, 2009 by

“Power companies are burning more trees because the renewable fuel can be cheaper than coal and ignited without needing permits to release carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ardNIC7rNzQE

Germany’s Wind Farms Jeopardized by Tight Funding
Jun 3, 2009 by

“As much as 100 billion euros ($143 billion) in planned investments in German offshore wind farms are at risk as developers struggle to get funding, jeopardizing the deepest emissions cuts in the European Union.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aYoYkIa1Di38

Biomass Power Generates Traction
Jun 1, 2009 by

“While solar power is taking root in the sunny Southwest and wind power is growing in the blustery band from the Dakotas to Texas, other places are turning to trees and grass as their best bet for producing renewable energy, leading to a new building boom in “biomass” power plants.”

Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124381655398570779.html

Trying to Expand the Meaning of ‘Renewable Energy’
May 25, 2009 by

The definition of renewable energy seems clear cut: The sun continues to shine, so solar energy is renewable. The wind continues to blow, so wind turbines churn out renewable power.

“But industries are now pushing to have a growing number of other technologies categorized as renewable — or at least as environmentally advantageous. They include nuclear power plants and the burning of garbage and even the waste from coal mines.”

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/25/business/energy-environment/25renew.html

Mow Power, Less Gas
May 21, 2009 by

“It’s shaping up to be the summer of the “alternative energy” outdoor power tools. From battery mowers and garden cultivators to a new propane-propelled string trimmer, manufacturers and retailers are rolling out consumer machines that run on gas substitutes and boast lower emissions and fewer maintenance headaches.”

Full article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124287213257242057.html

Edison’s 230-Mile ‘Extension Cord’ Fuels Fight Over U.S. Grid
May 12, 2009 by

“Fortifying the 211,000 miles of cables that form the core of the U.S. electrical grid raises issues as public as national energy policy and as private as a backyard view. The political fight for control may help determine whether the U.S. fulfills President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy use in three years.”

Full article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a7TZsBYC.Trg

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