Category: News

New report: Computer energy use can easily be cut in half

Cutting computer energy waste, particularly when desktops and laptops are doing little or no work, could save consumers billions of dollars on their energy bills and avoid millions of tons of carbon pollution annually, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
To prove the point, NRDC and its partners conducted a demonstration project that cut the “idle power” of a desktop computer in half, using readily available off-the-shelf components and tweaking system power management settings, with zero impact on performance or the price tag (while reducing electricity bills by more than $70 over the life of the computer).

Idle power matters because modern computers spend most of their time, and energy use, when on, but not actively used such as when users are away from their desks, or when they are performing light tasks like browsing the Internet or reading email—both of which require little processing power. Computers spend from 50 percent to 77 percent of their time in idle and low-intensity active modes and draw much more power than necessary in them.

Read the full story. (NRDC)

Report: Peninsula bases in crosshairs of climate change

When Hurricane Isabel pummeled Hampton Roads with 5- to 8-foot waves in 2003, low-lying Langley Air Force Base in Hampton was largely underwater, sustaining more than $160 million in damage.

Now, a new Union of Concerned Scientists report warns that Isabel was just a grim taste of things to come. That flooding and storm surge at Langley and other coastal military installations will only get worse — maybe a lot worse.

In fact, under the worst-case scenario of 6.9 feet of sea level rise for this region by the end of this century, the base stands to lose nearly 90 percent of its land to daily flooding as it essentially becomes part of the tidal zone.
Meanwhile, some 20 miles away along the James River, roughly 60 percent of Joint Base Langley-Eustis could be lost to high tides — with even more lost to the extreme spring and king tides.

Read the full story. (Daily Press)

How Tim Kaine helped persuade Virginians — and conservatives — to act on climate change

Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, questions climate change just like Trump himself does.

By contrast, a peek into the recent past of Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, suggests he takes the issue seriously and has paid particular attention to how it is affecting his constituents in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which faces some of the largest rates of sea level rise in the country. The link also underscores the strong connection between climate change and national security, because one of the key players that must grapple with sea level rise in the area is Naval Station Norfolk, “the largest naval complex in the world.”

And it suggests that by approaching the issue in this way — focusing on regional vulnerability and on national security — Kaine has actually been able to make some significant bipartisan progress.

Read the full story. (Washington Post)

Germany, Italy and Japan top world energy efficiency rankings

US Moves Up to #8 Spot Behind Spain and China, Rising From #13 Ranking in 2014; 3rdInternational Scorecard Evaluates 23 Largest Energy-Consuming Countries on 35 Categories.

WASHINGTON, DC – July 20, 2016 – Germany continues to lead the world in energy efficiency, followed by Italy and Japan (tied for second place), France, and the United Kingdom (not reflecting energy-related government changes in 2016), according to the 2016 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published today by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). New to the rankings this year are eight nations: Indonesia, Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

Now in its third edition, the ACEEE report ( finds that the United States rose in the international rankings from #13 in 2014 to #8 in 2016.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 35 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: Germany (1), Italy (2, tied), Japan (2, tied), France (4), UK (5), China (6), Spain (7), South Korea (8, tied), United States (8, tied), Canada (10), Netherlands (11), Poland (12), Taiwan (13), India (14), Turkey (15), Australia (16), Russia (17), Indonesia (18), Mexico (19), Thailand (20), South Africa (21), Brazil (22), Saudi Arabia (23).

Read the ACEEE press release. 

A smart ‘green tech hub’ in Vermont reimagines the status quo

Inside a plain brick building in Burlington lies the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, a buzzing hipster incubator that looks as if it could be in Silicon Valley. It is powered invisibly by forces that any city would envy: a green grid that is highly energy-efficient and a superfast one-gigabit internet connection.

“People would kill for this internet connection,” said Tom Torti, president of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce. “For us to grow our tech network, we needed to double down on fiber network.” The new Burlington economy is going to be knowledge- and skills-based, he added.

This digital superhighway runs through beautiful Burlington, a small city sandwiched between the distant Green Mountains and the 125-mile-long Lake Champlain. It is an outlier as far as emerging technology hubs and so-called smart cities go. But Burlington, which has a lower unemployment rate than Silicon Valley, is now spawning a wave of technology pioneers.

The technology center, called VCET, provides free advice, mentoring, seed money and gorgeous co-working spaces that are available to entrepreneurs for a low fee. Students can use these spaces free, so Max Robbins and Peter Silverman, 20-year-old college students, are starting their business, Beacon VT, there. It is similar to the dating site OkCupid, but for employment, matching students with employers.

“We’re trying to give people an unfair advantage,” said David Bradbury, president and fund manager at VCET. “There’s nothing too big that you can’t dream here. And the snowball is moving faster.”

Read the full story. (New York Times)

Utility clean energy rankings reveal ‘unprecedented shift’ in power sector paradigms

California’s film industry may have taught the Golden State something that folks in other parts of the nation are just beginning to understand.

Around 1920, movies were silent, black and white, and largely quite crude, though there were occasional masterpieces. It was a lot like renewable energy around 2010.

As technology breakthroughs and economies of scale grew movie industry returns, the industry lured Wall Street capital that financed bigger, better, more profitable projects. That’s a lot like the history of renewables this decade.

Big studios, challenged by independent producers and stronger regulation, either adapted to disruption or went broke. California utilities, perhaps inspired by the trials of the old film houses, are leading the response to demands from their “audience” for more renewable energy.

The state’s three dominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) topped the just-released Ceres/CleanEdge clean energy deployment rankings. Though the U.S. Department of Energy forecasts solar and wind generation will grow from 2015’s 227 billion kWh to almost 1 trillion kWh in 2040, utilities in many other states have yet to jump on the bandwagon.

Even so, the report numbers show overall growth in utility renewables, and executives at both leader and laggard companies told Utility Dive that a paradigm shift toward cleaner energy solutions has influenced how they think about the grid.

Read the full story. (Utility Dive)

When it comes to saving energy, it’s really not all about the money

A recent psychological study has provided suggestive evidence that when people decide to take steps to use less energy at home, and so to protect the environment, they don’t merely do so because they want to save a little bit of cash on their electricity bills. If anything, it suggests, some forms of materialistic or competitive thinking may inhibit deep or long-lasting conservation attitudes.

The study, recently published in Energy Policy and led by Zeynep Gurguc of Imperial College Business School in London, was able to show this by studying a pretty perfect test population: postgraduate students in West London, who did not have to pay anything for their energy use in their student residence halls — and, indeed, many of whom were young enough that they had no experience with energy bills at all. Therefore, any change to their at-home energy use behavior could hardly be chalked up to a desire to save a little money.

Read the full story. (Washington Post)

The best way to teach adults to save energy might be through their children

It’s hard to get people to change their habits, even when doing so could have lasting benefits for the environment. But a team of scientists may have just found a way to hack it when it comes to helping families develop better energy-saving practices at home. The trick, according to them, is to have children help deliver the message.

In a new study involving 30 California Girl Scout troops, researchers demonstrated that interventions targeting youth can help promote energy-saving actions in both children and their parents, with concrete behavioral changes lasting for months after an intervention takes place. The research highlights the idea that youth-oriented environmental programs can have a tangible impact on entire families.

Read the full story. (Washington Post)

The energy efficiency sector should take a bow

Energy managers, facilities managers and everyone else in the sector should take a moment to congratulate themselves. A number of recently released studies and surveys show that investment in energy efficiency in general — and commercial buildings in particular — is growing steadily.

Of course, the good news is not all the result of the work of those in building services. It involves a recognition by the public and corporate management that energy efficiency is a good thing. On the part of management, it also is clear that saving energy ultimately saves money and burnishes the company’s image. The federal government – as well as many state and local governments – is pushing efficiency. On top of all that, exploding technology, from the Internet of Things to renewables, is enabling the great strides.

Read the full story. (Energy Manager Today)

3 ways cities can overcome barriers to energy efficiency

Cities have more potential than ever to implement significant enhancements in energy efficiency, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a time when climate change risk tops global agendas. However, urban areas in the United States face major impediments to some of the most effective energy-saving strategies. Overcoming these will require a coordinated effort between government, industry and civil society.

Johnson Controls convened dozens of mayors, city planners and NGO representatives Thursday for an urban efficiency roundtable at the National Press Club. The purpose was to bring together people who are intimately involved in urban efficiency programs, and to provide a space for them to discuss the challenges and solutions they encounter in their work. Three major themes emerged:

Read the full story. (GreenBiz)

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