Category Archives: Department of Energy

Best News You Will See All Week: Volume 8

    1. San Diego ranks 1st in California in solar energy use thanks in large part to the California Solar Initiative which is spearheaded by the California Center for Sustainable Education and San Diego Gas & Electric. “With 4,500 rooftop installations generating nearly 37 megawatts ( MW) of electricity, San Diego’s solar panels produce more than $9 million worth of power annually. The report states that if San Diego were a nation unto itself, it would rank among the top 25 nations in the world in terms of solar capacity, with more solar power than Mexico.”
    2. I came across this graphic and had to share. It may be funny but the message is clear, we spend too much time in the shower (myself included) and one of the easiest and most effective ways to save water and energy is by taking shorter showers.
    3. If you are interested in business or entrepreneurship you should read this article – two friends who started a company by turning waste into fungal gold.
    4. A solar panel installed in Mwiki, Kenya by Eight19

      In the developing world, solar is now cheaper than fossil fuels. Millions of households in Africa now have access to cleaner and safer electricity as they make the switch from kerosene lamps to efficient LED lighting and small solar panels. In most parts of the world, electricity produced by traditional power plants is much cheaper than solar electricity but people who have no grid access in Africa have found that using solar to power lighting and other essential items sometimes costs half as much as using kerosene lamps. Read more here.

    5. And to continue the trend, I will leave you with this video explaining the importance of the number 350.

350 from Hans Hansen on Vimeo.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Upcycle

In Case You Missed It: Volume 7

    1. Perhaps the biggest news of the week came from the office of the President. The Obama administration rejected the current proposal for the Keystone XL Pipeline which would carry over 500,000 barrels of oil a day across key aquifers that supply drinking and irrigation water to much of the Great Plains. The pipeline is not gone forever as TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, can submit another proposal suggesting a different route. Read more about the fight.
    2. The second biggest story came from our office. We are successfully packed and ready to take on the International Builders Show in 3 weeks. The trade show booth crate was packed in record time with minimal hang-ups. Anywhere Solar will be showing off our newest solar module!
    3. In other news, the Department of Energy released a report“showing that waves and tidal currents off the nation’s coasts could contribute significantly to the United States’ total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities.” Go Ocean!

      A map that shows mean current speeds of tidal streams. Source - Georgia Institue of Technology

    4. Finally, we leave you with this cool video about a windmill farmer.

The Windmill Farmer from Joaquin Baldwin on Vimeo.

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Filed under Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, NAHB, Renewable Energy, Solar

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 3

  1. This past week our office discovered the brilliance of StumbleUpon. Among the first things we “stumbled” upon were some very interesting stories about the future of the solar industry. One thing that kept popping up was the idea that solar can (and hopefully will) power the Earth. This blog highlights some more of the more ambitious and jaw dropping solar ideas – click through to read about the desert and deep space.
  2. Staying with the future of solar theme, we found an article today summarizing a report out of the University of Texas where Xiaoyang Zhu found a way to “increase the efficiency of solar cells to 66 percent.” Right now, cells in production are between 12-20% efficiency.
  3. Ford has begun manufacturing the Ford Focus Electric which boasts 100 mpg equivalency and a revolutionary charging systems that “should be able to fully recharge in three to four hours – half the time of Nissan Leaf.” The Focus Electric will be available for order in California and New York next year. This new EV may not be much of an improvment on the cars already on the market but shows that large car manufacturers are dedicated to implementing new technologies and improving on the electric vehicle.
  4. More Military News – “The U.S. Navy is moving forward with plans to create a ‘Green Strike Force’ by purchasing 450,000 gallons of drop-in biofuel to be used on jets and vessels.” Read more here.
  5. And finally we leave you with an awesome video from Ice Cube and Pacific Standard Time. Ice Cube studied architectural drafting before he started his career as a rap artist and in this short film he explores Los Angeles and highlights Eames Architecture – pioneers in green building.

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Filed under Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Solar

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 1

Each and every day we come across some very interesting goodies on the World Wide Web. Each week we will compile our favorites right here so you can share in some of that goodness. Here is Volume 1 for your viewing pleasure!

  1. Terracycle – we did a spotlight (found here) on this wonderful company recently and love what they are doing. They are signing people up to collect anything from pens to juice boxes to candy wrappers to cork to cell phones to key boards and back again. They pay for you to ship it to them and then they “upcycle it” (turn it into a cool new product or material). For example here is a large tote bag made entirely from used Capri Sun drink pouches and here is a short video with the founder and CEO of Terracycle, Tom Szaky.
  2. PlanetSolar– The logbook of the crew with the goal to be the “first to circumnavigate the globe in a “solar” boat, i.e. one driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine powered exclusively by solar energy.”

    PlanetSolar team navigating near Monaco

  3. Solar Power is not just for your roof anymore. Within the next five years expect to see it popping up in your siding, windows, walls, and more. Installed building integrated photovoltaic technology is predicted to exceed 1 gigawatt by 2016.
  4. Solar Roadways – An awesome documentary clip explaining the research and development of solar roadways. I encourage you all to watch!
  5. And finally, in light of the recent success of The Muppets…

    Kermit the Frog reminds us all to "be green" and recycle!

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Solar, Upcycle

K3 Wind and Solar Charger

This blog post features a new product we have been messing around with at the office for the past few weeks. I will give you a quick review of our experience with the K3 Wind and Solar Portable Device Charger.

The K3 Charger sun-bathing

The first thing I noticed was the K3 is very easy to operate; just set it out in the sun during the day and let the elements do all the work. When you need a charge on your device and do not have your wall charger with you or you are away from an outlet you simply pull the cord out of the built-in storage area, then plug into the USB port on the charger, finally plug in the correct tip to your phone and watch as your device charges up (according to the instructions you are supposed to give it a full charge from the wall first).
According the the K3 website, the charger is “ideal for mobile phones, iPods/mp3 players, iPhone, smartphones/PDAs, portable gaming devices, GPS units, digital cameras, Bluetooth headsets, and more.” I intend to use mine mostly as a supplemental charge for my cell phone.
The design of the K3 allows you to prop it in many different posistions to take advantage of the the angle of the sun. I also found a good way to put the K3 in the back window of my car. I drive with the windows down most of the time so the wind turbine can work on my commute.

Propped up to take advantage of the sun-angle.

One negative thing that I accidentally found out  was when I made the mistake of falling asleep with my phone plugged in to the charger and woke up to a dead battery in th K3. This made me use the wall charger once again to refill the K3, thus eliminating the benefits of using the sun to power my cell phone. I also figured out that if I want a good charge from the K3, it needs to be fully charged from the sun, wind, or wall before plugging it into your device. I tried to charge my phone with a half full battery in the K3 and it didn’t last very long.

The K3 Charging a Phone.

Overall, I recommend the K3 Charger as a good, quality, portable mobile device charger. I can’t wait to take it with me on my next camping trip – I’ll no longer have to worry about conserving my cell phone battery!
Amazon page featuring the K3.

Positives: Durable, Wind AND Solar, USB port and multiple tip options, LED lights show battery life, Looks cool(there is also a black color option), Unique
Negatives: A little bulky, takes more time to charge than expected, relatively short phone charging time.
Ideal Uses: Camping, car travel, take it to work for that “mid-day boost,” backpacking, etc…

Two color options for the charger.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Cell Phone Battery, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Renewable Energy, Solar, Uncategorized

The Big “Green” Apple

My recent trip to the Big Apple led to some very unexpected discoveries along the way. Having never visited New York I had no idea what to expect and frankly, I was not expecting good things in the realm of sustainability. I immediately think of mass consumption, millions of cars, old inefficient buildings, and a mindset of profit over the good of the surroundings.
Just to let you know, I was not seeking out the so-called “green” places in the city nor did I do any research prior to my visit. I also know and have learned that New York and the Northeast is leading the way when it comes to sustainability. I was just a plain old tourist checking out the city. Here are some things I found that impressed me along the way.
First off, the public transportation system is in a class of its own. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “MTA subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.6 billion trips each year to New Yorkers.” You can get wherever you want in the city without ever needing a car.
Another thing I noticed was the importance of public green space and the unique way some people have created a beautiful landscape out of a so-called concrete jungle. Everyone knows about Central Park but we discovered a relatively new creation called the High Line.

High Line water feature

It’s a stunningly designed piece of art/urban park. Basically, it is an old elevated rain line that has been inoperable since 1980. In 2009, Friends of the High Line in a partnership with the City of New York opened the elevated public park. They have preserved the sense of the old rail line by keeping much of the old track and designing the landscape around it. “It features an integrated landscape, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings. Fixed and movable seating, lighting, and
special features are also included in the park.”

High Line

I also ran across a few businesses that seem to be leading their peers by making their surrounding environment a priority. We stopped in the  Brooklyn Brewery for some tastings and a tour. They recently expanded their brewing operations and were operating a very impressive business in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. We tried a few different beers and even though I am turned off by odd flavors in beer I was very happy with the Pumpkin Ale. During our tasting I noticed that they advertised these cool compostable cups. This lead me to do some more research and I also found out that “the company’s brewery and headquarters in Brooklyn are 100% powered by Newwind Energy.”

Cool Cups at the Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery New Expansion

Finally, we went to a very cool burger joint called Shake Shack. I had a burger and shake and they were excellent but what really stood out was a wall explaining their history and dedication to “going green.” They purchase wind power credits to offset 100% of their electricity and they also practice on-site composting and they recycle used cooking oil. In the construction of the building they used a plethora of sustainable building materials: walls made of fiberboard, wheat board tabletops and trash cans, ceiling tiles made from renewable wood, LED low voltage light fixtures, and they “introduced a green wall(recyclable modular unit and pre-grown living system) that will remain in bloom year round.”
Overall, I was very impressed with the dedication to sustainability shown by the people of New York – keep up the good work!

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Filed under Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Gardening, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Sustainable Businiess, Uncategorized, USGBC, Water conservation

A Lesson on Power Outages and Growing Up

Power outage in San Diego County, September 8th, 2011 by Sean M. Haffey

It began at the office when us employees thought we were losing our minds, having a seizure, or both. The lights flickered, then poof, we were in the dark. Considering that it was already 3:30 PM, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to wrap things up for the day and head home early.  Lucky for us, nearly 5 million other people thought the same thing, which made the drive home thrilling as we inched along in traffic (It took around 2 hours to drive 16 miles).

Recap of the outage

While everyone was sitting in traffic pondering their day or the beautiful weather, we realized that we may be in for an extended blackout. The San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) news conference didn’t  provide any positive news as they still had no idea what had happened; all they could tell us initially is that it was triggered in Arizona, a terrorist attack was very unlikely, and it could be 24-48 hours before the power was restored. Most people weren’t too concerned, as work and school would most likely be canceled on Friday, making for two 3-day weekends in a row and an opportunity to stay up and have some fun in the dark!
Once we arrived safe and sound at home, our feelings went from the relief from being off the road and not having to work the next day, to anxiety and a feeling of being unprepared for what could be a long few days. I had no cash and ATMs would be down, the gas light was on in my car, and my cell phone battery was on its last leg (not to mention, I couldn’t watch the NFL season opener). We were down to our last few drinks from our large jugs of purified water and already hearing about boil alerts in parts of the county. We only had two candles, but luckily, we bought a handy LED camping lantern a few days prior. Coming from someone who sells the Emergency Power Kit and wrote a blog about being prepared weeks ago, I was drastically under-prepared and kicking myself for not keeping one of those kits in my car or utility closet.
This outage proves to me how reliant we are on electricity and how lucky we are to have steady sources of power here in the States. Now, I could go without TV, cell phones, internet, and video games for as long as needed (and I’m sure most people could as well) but I take for granted other things that electricity provides. Fresh water, sewage treatment, smooth traffic, street lights, lighting at home, emergency services, and food storage are all things I can say I would miss greatly.
With that said, I am going to make a conscious effort to be more prepared and responsible when it comes to emergencies; I think it’s about time I invest in a good flashlight, candles, some sort of water purification device, maybe a small reserve of cash, first aid kit, and the Emergency Power Kit sitting in my office.
I know this looks bad; my mother probably thinks I can’t take care of myself and would be better off back in my parent’s basement.
This relatively small inconvenience has proven that I have grown too comfortable; and it takes a potentially catastrophic event, like this blackout, to bring me back to Earth and realize that something like this can happen at any moment.
Luckily, our good friends and neighbors provided us with the essentials – candles, chips and salsa, beer, and wine got us through the night!
For the real essentials to get you out of the dark click here. 
-T
(A big thank you is in order for all of the power company workers, the police force, EMT staff, firefighters, and others for helping us through the outage and getting things back in order in no time!)

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Filed under Conservation, Department of Energy, Emergency, Energy Efficiency, Green Technology, Innovation, Natural disaster, Outdoor Adventure, Preparedness, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Uncategorized