Your favorite playlist has a carbon footprint

May 24, 2019 by  
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You would think streaming music is more eco-friendly than CDs, tapes and records, right? Afterall, there’s no waste. A new study by the Universities of Glasglow and Oslo calculated the carbon footprint associated with downloading and streaming music and the answer is surprising. According to data from 2015 and 2016, music streaming accounted for 200 to 350 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions . The study used data records from the Recording Industry Association of America. First, researchers took the total number of streamed and downloaded songs and multiplied it by the amount of electricity it takes to download 1 gigabyte of data. Each gigabyte is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to light one light bulb for an hour. Next researchers investigated what kind of fuel sources are typically fueling music streaming sites— such as coal or renewable energy — and averaged the carbon dioxide emitted. Related: Music festivals and events can set the stage for sustainability The totals do not reflect the carbon footprint of data storage and processing centers, nor the electricity it takes to power your cellphone or steaming device, so the comprehensive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is actually much higher than the study initially indicates. Music streaming giant, Spotify, did not respond to The Rolling Stone journalist’s request for comment, but they did publish a sustainability report in 2017, which promised to work toward carbon neutrality. By 2018, the new sustainability report indicated that they had closed almost all of their data centers and reduced their carbon footprint by 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide . In actuality, Spotify shifted to using Google Cloud services, which means that now Google data centers are responsible for the emissions, not that emissions have necessarily been cut. Streaming competitors Apple and Amazon have recently invested in renewable energy options for their centers. Data centers in general are responsible for 2 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the airline industry. Music lovers who want to be more sustainable should buy full albums rather than streaming individual songs, especially if you plan to hit that repeat button a lot. According to their calculations, streaming 27 songs uses more energy than manufacturing the disc. For those of you who can’t imagine hopping in a time machine and buying a CD again, the authors suggest that downloading songs for offline listening could reduce the associated energy consumption. Via Rolling Stone Image via PhotoMIX-Company

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Green-roofed NY home taps into passive solar with contemporary style

March 13, 2019 by  
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New York-based design firm Slade Architecture has reconciled a client’s need for privacy with their desire for connection with the landscape in the Link Farm House, a contemporary home that splits the public and private areas into two perpendicular volumes. Located on a 220-acre organic farm in Dutchess County, New York, the expansive home engages the bucolic surroundings with a glass public-facing volume balanced atop a grassy knoll and a lower, private-facing volume built of locally sourced stone. The two volumes are optimized for passive solar benefits and heavily insulated, from the lower volume’s thermal barrier-like stonewalls to the upper volume’s triple-glazed facade. Built for a couple with three children, the Link Farm House serves as a family retreat from Manhattan. The home’s two perpendicularly intersecting volumes are positioned so that the lower volume is hidden from view in the entry sequence and only reveals itself in close proximity. The conspicuous upper volume is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glazed walls and topped with a flat roof with overhangs that shield the walls of glass from unwanted solar heat gain in summer. Geothermal wells power the home’s heating and cooling and are complemented with radiant floors heated with a geothermal heat pump-driven forced-air system. Remote solar cells are tapped for electricity.   “The building uses the site and the unique characteristics of the two volumes opportunistically maximizing the passive benefits of the two conditions as well as the active potential of the site for energy conservation,” the architects explain. “In terms of passive thermal strategies, the upper volume engages the exterior conditions and the lower volume insulates against the exterior environment. The triple insulated glass walls and roof overhang of the upper volume leverage summer and winter sun angles to shade the interior in summer and maximize solar penetration and heat gain in winter. The lower volume uses super-insulated walls and windows to create a thermal barrier. In addition, the stone flooring throughout this lower volume creates a thermal flywheel, stabilizing the temperature.” Related: LEED Gold home celebrates Utah’s brilliant light and beauty To reduce the home’s embodied energy footprint, the architects sourced wood from the client’s farm property for use throughout the house from the solid cherry paneling in the mudroom and study to the locally sourced timber used for the cabinetry and ceiling of the master bathroom. The lower volume, which contains the private areas, consists of five bedrooms, a family room, mudroom, and a study. The upper level comprises an open-plan living room, dining room, kitchen and family room that opens up to a green-roofed terrace. + Slade Architecture Images via Tom Sibley

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Rwanda hopes to increase energy efficiency with new cooling initiative

February 14, 2019 by  
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Rwanda has big plans for a more sustainable future and is launching a new cooling initiative that will increase energy efficiency within the country’s booming electricity sector. As part of the new plan, Rwanda hopes to provide a cooling solution for food storage and indoor spaces without adding to the world’s greenhouse gas problems. The new initiative, called Rwanda’s National Cooling Strategy, assessed the current need for cooling products as well as the future market. Although countries traditionally meet cooling needs with the use of modern refrigeration, Rwanda is looking towards more sustainable methods that do not use as much electricity . “Through the Rwanda Cooling Initiative, we have conducted a cooling market assessment, developed a national cooling strategy and minimum energy efficiency standards, and created financial tools to support businesses investing in clean cooling,” Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Vincent Biruta, explained. Rwanda is currently witnessing some of the fastest growth in the electricity sector in all of Africa. With 12 million people to serve, the East African Country is already looking for energy efficient options to meets those needs. Related: Top 10 states for LEED green buildings in 2018  Fortunately, Rwanda has been a leader in adopting sustainable practices. In fact, the country was one of the first to ban the use of plastic bags. A few years ago, Rwanda hosted a global treaty that agreed to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The initiative decreased the use of certain chemicals that are popularly used in air conditioners and refrigerators. But combating the use of harmful chemicals is only half the battle. As part of the National Cooling Strategy, Rwanda hopes to boost energy efficiency by regulating how much electricity can be used by modern air conditioners and refrigerators. The country also plans to raise awareness about other cooling techniques, including natural ventilation and shading. The new plan is the first phase of Rwanda’s larger cooling initiative. If other countries follow Rwanda’s lead, a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions could be cut over the next decade. Some experts predict that we can curb global warming by as much as 0.4C if countries increase their energy efficiency. Via United Nations Environment Image via Tumisu

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Renewable electricity could overtake fossil fuels in Britain by next year

January 28, 2019 by  
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A new report from British power analysts EnAppSys is predicting renewable electricity will overtake fossil fuels as the main source of Great Britain’s electricity generation by next year if current trends continue. In their annual market review report for 2018, EnAppSys says that the levels of power generation from coal and gas-fired power stations fell by 6.7 percent, while generation from renewables increased 15.2 percent. If renewables do pass up fossil fuels in Great Britain in 2020, it will be a first, and it will prove that renewable energy has staying power. “It’s clear that renewables will be generating most of our power in the years ahead, with wind playing the leading role,” said Luke Clark, RenewableUK’s Head of External Affairs, told Clean Technica. During 2018, a large number of offshore wind farms were commissioned or went into full operation and the increase of wind energy led the way in renewable energy generation. Since the cost of offshore wind continues to decrease this means it will likely become the primary source of renewable  energy generation, at least in the short term. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline Currently, offshore wind power generation has a 55.4 percent share of the renewables mix. Between the moratorium on onshore wind and the falling costs of offshore wind, that share should climb even higher. However, there are still some concerns about the UK fuel mix because of the suspension of their Capacity Mechanism— a measure designed to ensure the security of the electricity supply by paying for reliable sources. In November, the European Union ruled that the Capacity Mechanism was illegal. Those payments were going to old coal, gas , and nuclear plants, and some saw them as government subsidies. But, without that money, some of those plants may leave the market. If that happens, it will lead to “decreased security of supply.” Ultimately, the Capacity Mechanism payments will need to be reinstated or an alternative will need to be implemented to fill the gap created by the lost income. Via Clean Technica Image via Free-Photos

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Sweden is on track to meet its 2030 renewable energy goals this year

July 9, 2018 by  
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Sweden’s ambitious goal to provide renewable and affordable energy by 2030 is expected to become reality a little ahead of schedule. The Swedish Wind Power Association (SWPA) says its members are on track to generate 18 terawatt-hours of electricity every year by the end of 2018, making it possible for the nation to reach its renewable energy goals 12 years early. In 2015, Sweden joined with 16 other world powers to develop the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . The plan focused around four parts: humanitarian development, environmental sustainability , long-term economic planning and advancing peace. With this framework, Sweden developed a 17-part plan to end poverty, provide clean water and sanitation and combat global climate change. Related: Nearly all new US energy capacity came from solar and wind in early 2018 While many of the plans are still in progress, at least one could be achieved in 2018. Representing Sweden’s wind energy industry, the SWPA projects the number of wind turbines alone could provide clean and affordable power to the nation as soon as December. The organization says 3,681 wind turbines will be operational across the country by the final days of the year. This would fulfill two goals of the Swedish energy plan : ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy service and substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. If the energy industry hits the projections, the future is bright for the Nordic nation. The additional power boost comes as demand for energy access is set to spike. According to the International Energy Agency, electricity needs could jump by up to 37 percent worldwide over the next 22 years. To help developing nations answer their electricity needs, Sweden’s next major milestones are to double renewable energy efficiency rates, partner with other countries to improve renewable energy and supply energy to the world’s least developed nations and islands. Via Business Live and  Bloomberg Image via Timmy L.

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Sweden is on track to meet its 2030 renewable energy goals this year

Reinventing the US Power Grid

June 11, 2018 by  
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We have an energy challenge in the United States — … The post Reinventing the US Power Grid appeared first on Earth911.com.

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8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment

June 11, 2018 by  
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The workforce is getting younger as Millennials take over jobs … The post 8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Stealth Electronics

June 11, 2018 by  
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Bitcoin is expected to consume enough energy to power Austria by the end of 2018

May 18, 2018 by  
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Though bitcoin ‘s value may rise and fall dramatically, the energy required to produce bitcoins seems to be ever on the rise. Researchers estimate that the bitcoin network may consume as much as 7.7 gigawatts of energy , the equivalent of the electricity required to power Austria. If the value of bitcoin continues to rise, the entire bitcoin network may one day consume up to five percent of the world’s energy. A new study published in the journal   Joule  predicts that bitcoins use up to half a percent of the world’s total energy supply. Critics question the study’s assumptions and claim a lack of sufficient evidence to determine future bitcoin energy consumption with such precision. Regardless, bitcoin’s rising price could come with significant environmental costs. The bitcoin network primarily consumes energy through “mining” of the cryptocurrency, which occurs by running a computer program and time-stamping bitcoin transactions. These transactions take place on the blockchain, the networked account system behind cryptocurrencies. “The main problem is that the energy consumption primarily relates to how agreement on the underlying blockchain is reached,” blockchain specialist and study author Alex de Vries  told Gizmodo . “Mining makes it a big competitive lottery where the winner — every 10 minutes — gets to create the next block for the blockchain. The built-in reward for this process is fixed, so it motivates participants to constantly add new machines to the network to get a bigger slice of the pie — the more computational power, the more you win.” Related: Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponic garden In his study, de Vries focused on determining the cost of maintaining the network after bitcoin mining becomes unprofitable. “In essence I’m taking an economic point of view to figure out where energy consumption is heading. Previous work typically looked at available hardware, and produced results that only said something about the current consumption,” de Vries said. “My findings were based on the current conditions, so bitcoin doesn’t need to increase in value for the conclusion to hold.” Some experts disagree with de Vries’ methods and conclusions. “A major limitation of de Vries’ model is that it depends on guessing bitcoin’s future price as well as the cost of electricity to miners,” bitcoin investor  Marc Bevand told Gizmodo . “In the paper he assumes bitcoin maintains its current level at approximately $8,000 and electricity costs $0.05 per kWh. If either bitcoin goes up or electricity costs plummet, the energy consumption should increase, and vice versa.” Though the endeavor to determine the future of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continues, it seems clear that the environmental impact of bitcoin may be steep. Via Gizmodo Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

April 30, 2018 by  
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India has just reached a major energy milestone: for the first time ever, every single one of its inhabited villages has electricity. There are nearly 600,000 villages in the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that they would all be connected to power within 1,000 days of August 2015. Last Saturday, Leisang village was connected to India’s power grid, completing that promise. I salute the efforts of all those who worked tirelessly on the ground, including the team of officials, the technical staff and all others, to make this dream of a #PowerfulIndia a reality. Their efforts today will help generations of Indians in the coming years. pic.twitter.com/t8WjZgpNuT — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 While Leisang was connected to the main power grid, some villages have relied on off-grid supply networks, usually powered by solar . Pakol, a village in the same same state, was the last village to be powered by an off-grid system. The power initiative, which Modi tags as #PowerfulIndia, also seeks to strengthen metering and power distribution within the country. Leisang village in Manipur, like the thousands of other villages across India has been powered and empowered! This news will make every Indian proud and delighted. https://t.co/UCPEEITbIM #PowerfulIndia — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 Related: The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun A village is considered to have power if 10 percent of its buildings have access to electricity . That means India has a long way to go before everyone has working power, but the successful initiative is a milestone nonetheless.” Village electrification means that the infrastructure to supply power has now reached certain parts of the village. The next step should be to focus on providing connection to all households and ensuring adequate power supply to these homes,” former power secretary P Uma Shankar said. It is up to individual homes to seek electrification if they choose. Via Times of India Image via Deposit Photos

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