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Kif Scheuer's Posts

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Irony in the nuclear power/climate change equation

Severe drought in the Southeast impacts nuclear power production

A cautionary tale for all those who think nuclear is the answer to climate change. The Washington Post reported yesterday that drought conditions are affecting nuclear production capacity. [Plants] could be forced to throttle back or temporarily shut down later this year because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate. But wait, there's more ... An Associated Press analysis of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors found that 24 are in areas experiencing the most severe levels of drought. All but two are built on …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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In the green building trenches

Developing ideas on development

Hats off to GreenbuildingsNYC, who beat me to the punch on a couple of items that seem important to future green development. First, there's a piece by Professor Charles Kibert that critiques a recent report on the benefits of green schools. It is notable for a couple of reasons. First, his analysis asks some important questions about this particular report's benefit claims. Second, through this analysis he critiques the lack of critical review and high research standards in the green building field. There's a response after the post by one of the report's authors. Worth checking out. Second, the Nevada …

Read more: Cities, Politics

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The cap and trade boat just got a little fuller

Oh what a relief it biz

The United States Climate Action Partnership, the group of corporations calling "on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions," just doubled in size (PDF): With its new members, USCAP companies now have total revenues of $1.7 trillion, a collective workforce of more than 2 million and operations in all 50 states; they also have a combine market capitalization of more than $1.9 trillion. The big news is that General Motors has joined the list: GM is very pleased to join USCAP to proactively address the concerns posed by climate change …

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Congress gets a sustainability complex

Shooting for a green capitol

No, it's not a new psychological disorder, but a plan for greening the capitol complex. Over at Building Design and Construction they've got a piece on the acceptance of a "green the capitol initiative." On April 19, Nancy Pelosi accepted a preliminary proposal and ... ... announced that operations of the Capitol Complex, which includes congressional office buildings and the 775,000-sf U.S. Capitol Building, would become carbon neutral no later than the end of the 110th Congress (in late 2008 or early 2009). [emphasis mine] The report suggests six key strategies: Operate in a carbon-neutral manner. Shift to 100% renewable …

Read more: Politics

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Who are the green power leaders? NREL tells us

DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) yesterday released its annual ranking of leading utility green power programs: Customer choice programs are proving to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewable energy supply. In 2006, total utility green power sales exceeded 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), about a 30% increase over 2005. More than 500,000 customers are participating in utility programs nationwide, up more than 10% from 2005 Some highlights follow. Ranked by renewable energy sales, the green power program of Austin (Texas) Energy is first in the nation (580,580,401 kWh/year), followed by Portland General Electric, Florida Power & Light, PacifiCorp …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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CO2's lowest hanging fruit?

We’re inside it

We all know buildings are part of the global warming problem, but many people don't recognize how central they are to the solution. A recent UNEP report -- "Buildings and Climate Change: Status, Challenges and Opportunities" -- shines light on how relevant and accessible building-related climate change solutions are. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: By some conservative estimates, the building sector world-wide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over two billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Brown-tech venture capitalists

Brown to make green

NYT has a story today about some prominent "green-tech" venture capitalists who are investing in fossil-fuel development, making them more "brown-tech." Defense of this muddying of the green-tech profile rests on our collective worship of the profit motive ("I'm here to make the kind of green my limited partners can spend"). But what made me laugh out loud (even as my stomach was turning) was this quote by Joseph Lacob, a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins, which is investing heavily in Terralliance, an oil and gas exploration company: "If we can improve the efficiencies of the oil and gas exploration, …

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Picking on the green home building cheerleaders

The real tipping point? Maybe?

The claim in a McGraw Hill NAHB report that green homebuilding will reach a tipping point in 2007 has gotten a fair amount of attention (like CNN Money and USA Today): Green building will reach its tipping point -- the point where the building community turns from "less involved" to "more involved" in the 2006 to 2007 time frame, depending on how conservative the estimate. ... more than 2/3 of builders will be building green homes (more than 15% of their projects) ... Looking beyond 2007, the sheer number of participants in the homebuilding market will pull the rest of …

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Green building's shifting landscape

Is it really all that rosy?

Lately, most of what you hear about green building is pretty rosy; the industry is booming, everyone's on board, and green building has gone mainstream. By and large, I tend to agree that things are looking nice. But there are three different trends(?) in green building that caught my attention recently. I think the push and pull from these activities could lead to a not-so-pleasant dustup among industry, green building advocates, and public policymakers down the line. Has LEED done its job too well? In part, the goal of LEED is to transform building practices, and LEED does appear to …

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Lifecycle Building Challenge

Cool design competition

West Coast Green and the Building Materials Reuse Assoc., along with the EPA and AIA, are sponsoring a design competition called the LifeCycle Building Challenge: The purpose of the Challenge is to change how people think about, design, and construct and deconstruct buildings. By contributing to a library of strategies that maximize materials recovery and reduce environmental and economic costs, contestants can advance building industry lifecycle planning, inspiring the green building movement to look beyond a single iteration of a building. Because buildings take a major toll on the environment, the Challenge calls upon its contestants to address real world …

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