RSS Entries ATOM Entries

Archive for April, 2013

The power of Algae – innovative building facade

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on April 18th, 2013

Source: DesignBuild Source

BIQ_House5_900x600.ashx
Image from Arup

From the Arup media release “World first bio-reactive façade debuts in Hamburg

The BIQ [Bio Intelligence Quotient] house will become the world’s first pilot project to showcase a bioreactive façade […] With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this passive-energy house generates biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionality such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-storey residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water. […]

“Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.” — Jan Wurm, Arup’s Europe Research Leader

The system will be officially presented to the media on 25 April 2013 when the biofaçade system goes into operation for the first time.

>>> You can read the original media release on the Arup Website.
>>> You can see more images of the building and read more about it on DesignBuildSource.com.au


Food Incubators: Commercial Kitchens in the Sharing Economy

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on April 15th, 2013

unionkitchen floorplan2
Image: Union Kitchen’s Floor Plan

From “Share Everything: Why the Way We Consume Has Changed Forever” by Emily Badger for The Atlantic Cities:

“The “equipment library” at Union Kitchen in Northeast Washington, D.C., contains some of the more mundane artifacts of the modern “sharing economy”: an oversized whisk, a set of spatulas, ladles, chopping knives, sheet pans and tongs. “Collaborative consumption,” as it’s also known, is more often associated with the big-ticket items that have given the concept such bemusing cachet. Suddenly, it seems, people are casually lending and borrowing cars, bikes, even brownstones. But this basic kitchenware, hanging in a 7,300 square-foot warehouse, reveals the reaches to which all this sharing could ultimately expand, as well as the reasons why it will have to.

Union Kitchen moved into the space in late November of 2012, taking over what had been the commissary for a chain of local kabob houses. Jonas Singer and Cullen Gilchrist had been looking to expand the kitchen operations for a café they own in the city. But this two-story red brick warehouse situated on a cramped manufacturing block was more space than they needed. So they turned the warehouse – complete with a walk-in freezer, two fridges and prep space for two-dozen entrepreneurs – into a shared kitchen and food incubator. For $500 a month, member chefs get a share of their own prep table, access to communal equipment, pantry shelves, and ingredients at wholesale prices.

By early January, the kitchen already had nearly a dozen members, including a cupcake food truck company, a caterer specializing in mole sauces and chocolate cakes, and the city’s lone Kombucha brewer. It would be prohibitively expensive for any of them to open their own commercial kitchens. But – and this is a related problem – there also isn’t affordable space enough in this growing city to do so.

“The reality is that if D.C. swells from a place where there are 500,000 people in 2010 to a place where there are 850,000 in 2020, well what are we doing with those 350,000 extra people who are here?” Singer asks, sitting on a couch in the kitchen’s lounge. “We’re all living in slightly smaller spaces. Obviously the per-capita number of car owners has to go down. The amount of space like this is going to be much tighter. A lot of the sharing economy just has to do with the number of people living per square foot of land. It’s all about physical space.””

>> Read the full article (there’s much more) by Emily Badger on The Atlantic Cities.


Become a Green Ape Today

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on April 10th, 2013

Green Apes Screen Grab

Sustainable Cities Net’s mothership, the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) has become a Green Apes Jungle Guardian (!!!) and so we’re doing a shout-out to our networks to let you know that the Green Apes app is now available online.

What’s a Green Ape and why would you want the app?

From the website

Build & share your green profile and kick some jungle butt!

    • get points for everyday sustainable actions
    • track your progress
    • compete and collaborate with friends
    • find answers, inspire and be inspired

Book your tree in the jungle! join the ultimate sustainable community

We (VEIL) are pretty interested in behaviour change tools that are appealing, fun, or just not mind-numbingly terrifying.  A quick look at the YouTube video and the website indicates that this app might be quite fun to use, although it’s pretty new (version 1.1) and may have a few issues. It also requires a facebook log-in. What will be really interesting is what happens if/when it reaches a large audience of users and glitches get ironed out.  Unexpected (and hopefully awesome) results should follow.

>> http://www.greenapes.com/en

>> https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=597932602


Financing energy efficiency: Learning from Thailand

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on April 4th, 2013

Source: Greenpages

5775278946_4bb8a1c00b_z
Photo by Asian Development Bank via flickr cc

From ‘Lessons from Thailand: Mobilizing Investment in Energy Efficiency‘ by Louise Brown and Athena Ballesteros.

[…] The development of Thailand’s energy efficiency sector is an interesting case study. It demonstrates how strong government leadership combined with strategic support from international climate finance can drive the transition toward an energy-efficient economy. In the early 1990s, Thailand’s economy was growing rapidly at 10 percent per year; the power sector was growing even faster. The government recognized that conserving energy would provide a low-cost way to meet its citizens’ rising demand for energy.

It responded by passing a law in 1992 that set energy efficiency standards for industry and established an Energy Conservation Promotion Fund, which raised funds for energy efficiency projects by taxing petroleum products. The government also introduced a demand-side management plan, using about $40 million in climate finance from the Global Environment Facility (an international climate fund) and the Australian and Japanese governments. This plan included public awareness campaigns, setting energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and demand-side planning to better manage the timing of consumer energy use.

The state energy generation utility successfully implemented the demand-side management plan, with impressive results: The utility achieved 15,700 gigawatt hours of energy savings by 2012, exceeding its own energy-savings targets. Key to the plan’s success was the fact that it was designed in close coordination with the private sector, carefully tailored to the Thai context, and widely disseminated through public awareness campaigns, resulting in strong support from industry and the public. Furthermore, the utility underwent considerable staff expansion and training to build its capacity to effectively implement the plan.

Financing Low-Carbon Projects in Thailand: While the demand-side management plan yielded positive results, an important barrier remained: Thailand’s local banks had a limited understanding of energy efficiency projects, making it challenging for potential developers to access financing for such projects. The Thai government took action by establishing an Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund in 2002, offering credit lines—initially at no interest—to local banks so that they could provide loans for energy efficiency projects. The Revolving Fund made commercial banks more familiar with energy efficiency projects, and by 2010, it had financed projects worth a total investment of $453 million, resulting in energy cost savings in the region of $154 million each year. The financial incentives to banks, combined with the enhanced awareness of energy efficiency, were key to the success of the Revolving Fund. Another critical factor was that the government had a reliable source of funding from the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund to invest in the Revolving Fund, so it did not need to rely on international support.

What Can We Learn from Thailand? Thailand has been able to transition smoothly from readiness activities—such as capacity-building, awareness-raising, and demonstration—to large-scale investments. It is now embarking on a 20-year energy efficiency development plan funded through the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund, which aims to reduce the country’s overall energy consumption by 20 percent by 2030. Other countries can learn from Thailand’s experience of combining strong national leadership with strategic use of climate finance for carefully targeted readiness activities. […]

>>> Read the full article, and learn more about the Thailand case study on the World Resources Institute’s website.
>>> You can follow the WRI’s six part blog series on Mobilizing Clean Energy Finance, which draws from their recent report Mobilizing Climate Investment.