Posts Tagged ‘new systems/services’

(Em)Powering Communities: SolarKiosk

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 15th, 2013

 Source: TransitionsFF

CIMG0790
Photo from SolarKiosk.

From ‘SolarKiosk: mobile modular power for really remote areas” on Good.is

For those who’ve grown up constantly plugged into the power grid, it’s almost impossible to think of life without an endless supply of outlets, power cords, and technology. But for an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world, power—from cutting and burning firewood to lighting kerosene lamps, paraffin, and candles—doesn’t come easy. According to the United Nations Foundation, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, and 1 billion more have access only to unreliable electricity networks. Smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people a year and causes a range of chronic illnesses and other health impacts.

In an effort to tackle health and development-related obstacles in developing countries, a company based in Germany and Ethiopia is bringing clean energy to “off-grid areas” around the world. Housed in a metal hut topped with a solar panel-filled roof, the designers have named their creation a “SolarKiosk,” a small-scale power source for communities without electricity. Each SolarKiosk is expected to provide enough power for villagers to charge their mobile phones and car batteries, run a computer, or power up a solar fridge. Goods sold from the Kiosk include solar lanterns, mobile phones, and cards to top-up cellular devices. Considering that the Kiosk’s fridge may be the community’s only one, it could be used to house everything from medication to chilled drinks. The kiosk could also provide television, music, and internet depending on the locale. The creators project that a larger-size SolarKiosk could even produce enough energy to run a telecom tower reliably, while also providing security and maintenance. It will even be possible to connect multiple kiosks to create a local grid.

The world’s first SolarKiosk set up shop on July 15 [2012] near Lake Langana in Ethiopia. Designed by Graft Architects, the project not only provides clean energy solutions to “off-grid” countries, but once installed, becomes a power-generating shop and business hub, providing jobs to community members and education on how solar products work. It also becomes a glowing, solar-powered light source at night. Each kiosk comes in a lightweight, DIY kit, making it is easy to transport and build a kiosk in off-road, rural areas—the package could even be carried to its target location on the back of a donkey. With the exception of pre-manufactured electrical components, the kiosk’s parts can be constructed from a range of local materials including bamboo, wood, adobe, stone, metal, or even recycled goods. Post-assembly, the entire structure is firmly anchored in the ground. […]

NB. The second SolarKiosk was installed in Teppi, Ethiopia, in November last year. – [JB]

>>> You can read the full article on Good.is.
>>> You can learn more about SolarKiosk on their website.


Risk maps facilitate innovative water solutions

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on January 17th, 2013

Source: Circle of Blue via AWA

Aquaduct's mexico_water_risk_map
Image from Aquaduct.

From ‘Entrepreneurs in Mexico City Turn Water Risk into Opportunity‘ by Paul Reig.

Mexico City, the biggest metropolis in the Western hemisphere, faces significant water shortages, leaving many domestic, agricultural, and industrial users exposed to severe water-related risks. The city was built on the foundations of the Aztec capital, on the bed of Lake Texcoco. Today, centuries later, its groundwater supplies are rapidly diminishing, and it relies on a network of reservoirs and decaying infrastructure to pump in water from hundreds of miles away. Furthermore, urban growth and climate change are pushing Mexico City’s water supply to the edge. Reservoirs were dangerously low during the 2009 drought, leading the government to cut off water in some areas of the city.

While the situation in Mexico City is undeniably alarming, these risks can also create new opportunities for businesses to prosper by delivering innovative solutions to water scarcity. In 2012, four entrepreneurs in Mexico City founded Sistemas de Captación de Agua Pluvial® (SCAP®), a company providing rainwater harvesting solutions. Harvesting rainwater and storing it for later use is an increasingly popular solution to unpredictable and limited water supplies. From a backyard rain barrel for lawn watering to the massive network of rainwater storage tanks that China’s Gansu province uses to provide drinking water to 1.3 million people, rainwater harvesting is being used in a wide range of scales and geographies.

SCAP helps its clients in Mexico overcome unreliable and limited water supply by designing and installing efficient, affordable rainwater collectors. SCAP has already completed a project in Colonia Florida and is planning additional installations in El Pedregal and Mixcoac. By collecting rainwater, SCAP clients can cut back on the cost of water and store freshwater for times of shortages. To better understand water-related risks in Mexico City and how they compare to the rest of the country, SCAP used a preview version of Aqueduct’s forthcoming improved global water risk maps. Aqueduct’s granular and comprehensive maps of water scarcity, supply variability, and groundwater stress (among other indicators) helped SCAP target and inform clients in central Mexico on areas most in need of solutions. Having this up-to-date data in a widely accessible format allowed SCAP to turn water risk into business opportunities—in turn, helping Mexico’s citizens meet their water needs. […]

>>> You can read the full article on the website.
>>> You can learn more about the Aquaduct project and water maps on the World Resources Institute website.


How Can We Age Well in our Communities?

Posted in Models, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on October 11th, 2012

 Source: Place Makers via Planetizen


Photo: Julie70 via flickr CC

From Ready for the Geezer Glut? Then think beyond “aging in place” by Ben Brown:

[…]
Here’s a taste of how medical professionals are looking at the age wave, courtesy of Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, on an American Medical Association site in 2010:

The statistics are staggering. By age 65, around two-thirds of all seniors have at least one chronic disease and see seven physicians. Twenty percent of those older than 65 have five or more chronic diseases, see 14 physicians — and average 40 doctor visits a year. Situations like these are a nightmare for patients and the physicians who treat them.

Is any community ready for that?

What got me to thinking about this lately were two things. One was a timely diagnosis of the problem, especially as it applies to place, by Linda Selin Davis on The Atlantic Cities October 3 blog. Pointing to “the tainted legacy of age-segregated housing that is a $51 billion industry,” she nailed the unintended consequence of the “retirement community” movement:

We suffer from a severe lack of foresight, a shortage of personal and community planning when it comes to where and how to age. We’ve separated our elders from their extended families without replacing what their relatives might once have provided: a decent quality of life, until the very end.

The other insight feels like a solution, at least in a very targeted way. It comes from organizers of a senior cohousing initiative in Abingdon, VA called ElderSpirit Community. I’ve stayed in touch with them over the last decade because they provide one of my go-to antidotes for cynicism. Starting with few resources and little experience in neighborhood design, finance and development, they’ve assembled and successfully managed the intricate components of intentional community. And they’ve done that while measuring success against wildly idealistic standards. ElderSpirit members committed to a community designed for both physical and financial accessibility, for exploring spiritual purpose in broadly ecumenical ways and for supporting one another’s mental and physical well-being in the final stages of their lives.

[…]

Counting on volunteers to respond to those kinds of needs on a random basis doesn’t work. Some folks aren’t inclined to ask for help, so they don’t get it when they need it most. Meanwhile, dedicated volunteers over-commit and burn out quickly. The ElderSpirit answer – and the beginning of a new model for mutual support in community – is a system that matches people, skills and needs.

The community’s Care Committee established sort of a jobs bank of volunteers willing to take responsibility for tasks they felt best equipped to handle – transportation, say, or meals prep. Then they created a sort of buddy system, member-designated care coordinators to tap into the community support network. Each member was asked to pick two care coordinators, people they were comfortable confiding in and trusted to represent them. So when a need arises, the care coordinator activates the network.

[…]

Remember what Linda Selin Davis wrote in her blog post about “a shortage of personal and community planning.” That’s an understatement. Most Boomers will age in neighborhoods that are unlikely to sustain the kind of care network system ElderSpirit developed. They presume connectivity by car and exile anyone without the ability or desire to drive. The isolation that complicates every challenge in old age is designed into the places most Americans call home.

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, has been hammering away on this point for some time. Between 1950 and 2000, says Nelson, the share of Americans living in suburban areas rose from 27 percent to 52 percent; the suburban population grew by 100 million, from 41 million to 141 million; and suburbia accounted for three quarters of the nation’s population change.

The big push among advocates for seniors has been to build new homes and customize old ones for successful “aging in place.” Almost all of the emphasis has been on universal design, on assuring accessibility in individual homes through design and remodeling choices that make it easier to get around in wheel chairs, reach stuff in cabinets and on countertops and assure safety in bathrooms. But aging in places that isolate seniors in their homes, regardless of how easy it is to climb out of the bath tub, is not going to get at the bigger problem.  Especially in an era in which the very demographic forces that have served us Boomers so well turn on us when we need help most. Says Nelson:

The American dream of owning one’s own home may result in millions of senior households living in auto-dependent suburban homes which have lost value compared to smaller homes in more central locations where many of their services will be located.

We all should be for strategies that allow for successful aging in place. But for the strategies to offer meaningful advantages to both seniors and their communities, they have to begin with making the right places.

>> Read the full article by Ben Brown on Place Makers.
>>For an Australian perspective, check out the report Tomorrow’s Suburbs by the Grattan Institute.


Toolbanks: Shared resources for neighbourhood non-profits

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on July 17th, 2012

Source: The Atlantic Cities

Photo: Christian City via volunteerpublishing

From “The Awesome Power of Toolbanks” by Andrew Zaleski:

[…]

Picture a massive shed stocked with shovels, rakes, power tools, wheelbarrows, ladders, water hoses, work gloves—even a tiller and a generator. Since opening last year, Charlotte’s ToolBank has equipped more than 11,000 volunteers at 500 different projects, lending tools with a combined retail value of $243,000 for only $7,200. It now provides 134 nonprofit agencies with tools.

The Charlotte location is just one of several ToolBanks nationwide. The original, Atlanta Community ToolBank, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Baltimore’s ToolBank opened at the end of May, and another is scheduled to open in Cincinnati later this summer. Local nonprofits can rent tools for just three percent of the cost of the tool, multiplied by the number of weeks it’s needed. A shovel that normally costs $30 to buy? A paltry $1.80 cents to rent it for two weeks from the ToolBank.

The rentals fees are just “enough to get people to bring the tools back,” says Patty Russart, who has served as executive director of Atlanta’s ToolBank for nearly four years.

But the ToolBank means more than the convenience of having a warehouse brimming with inexpensive power tools. According to Angela Munson, the executive director in Charlotte, ToolBanks do two significant things: increase nonprofits’ capacity to serve by allowing them to spend less money on expensive equipment while at the same time transforming volunteerism by turning fewer people who want to help away. “By having access to our tools, projects get done faster, and you can put everybody to work at the same time,” she says.

[…]

Perhaps the bigger triumph for ToolBanks is the money they save cities. In Charlotte, nonprofits that offer to do painting and landscaping work for public schools regularly head to the ToolBank to rent equipment. In Atlanta, neighborhood planning units looking to spruce up city blocks turn to the ToolBank to cut down on equipment costs. Last year, after Atlanta initiated its Love Your Block program to provide mini-grants to people who submitted community clean-up projects, the ToolBank formed a partnership with city government and the Home Depot Foundation whereby the foundation provided tools to the groups at no fee.

“The city couldn’t do that with their limited funding,” says Russart.

Not to mention the benefits for volunteers, who aren’t waiting around for their turn with the sole wheelbarrow or tiller. “Volunteers hate being asked to bring their own stuff,” Munson says. And allocating adequate resources to volunteers can be a crucial component to keeping them coming back in the future, according to the Urban Institute.

The ToolBanks’ biggest advantage, according to Rink? “You create bigger and better opportunities for companies to give back to the community,” she says. “You can’t beat it.”

Read the full article by Andrew Zaleski.


Goulburn Valley Food Hub: Food sovereignty film night

Posted in Events, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 20th, 2012


Photo via Studio Osk

You are invited to a film / discussion evening in Sydney on 30 March, hosted by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance.

We’ll be showing two short films. One is called Growing Change, and is about food sovereignty movements in Venezuela. For more info see: http://www.simoncunich.com.au/

The second is Food Fight and tells the story of workers in small-town Victoria trying to collectivise their closed-down tomato factory. For more info see Friends of Goulburn Valley Food Hub on facebook or check out the proposed Food Hub design by Studio Osk.

It’s going to be a great night. After the films we’ll have a group discussion with a few people there to answer questions including the makers of the films and some other folks involved in food sovereignty campaigns in Sydney and elsewhere.

A facebook event has been created: https://www.facebook.com/events/259945067424956/.  Please RSVP to the event at this email growingchangesydney@gmail.com

March 30, 6:30pm
AMWU office, 136 Chalmers Street (near Central), Sydney

Entry: By donation; some food will be available


Solar Mosaic: Invest in Solar Projects Anywhere

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on February 28th, 2012

Source: Solar Mosaic


Photo: © Solar Mosaic

One of the biggest barriers to converting to solar power has always been the initial outlay involved in the installation of panels, and connecting to the grid where necessary. In the last ten years the concept of a Solar Lease, similar to that of a car lease, has led to the expansion of the industry with traditional investors being banks, energy companies, and private equity firms. US organisation Solar Mosaic, based in Oakland California, have opened up the idea of solar leasing so that anyone can invest in solar projects to help local communities and “Bank on the Sun”; “Mosaic is a platform where people come together to create local clean energy in their communities and around the world.”

The Solar Mosaic website explains how their platform works:

1) Invest in a Project
Choose a solar project to invest in. Each project has been carefully vetted by Solar Mosaic to ensure that your investment creates local clean energy, green jobs and benefits a site host that is financially secure and has a good roof.

2) Your Project is Installed
After you and all your friends invest in the project, the project will be installed. You’ll receive updates as your project is funded, installed and connected to the grid.

3) Get Paid Back
As your investment produces clean solar electricity, the building owner will save thousands of dollars on their utility bills. Low monthly lease payments along with other incentives will go towards paying you back. All of our current projects operate under a zero-interest loan model, meaning that if you put $100 in, you’ll get $100 back over the number of years specified in the project.

 

What’s in a name?
Tile mosaics are works of art where many pieces come together to form a whole. In the same way, Solar Mosaics are solar projects where many people come together to fund a solar installation.

Mosaic is a place where you can create and fund solar projects
The solar economy is undergoing unprecedented growth. We’ve created Mosaic so you can invest in solar power anywhere and take part in the solar revolution.

Mosaic is helping to build the new energy economy
We’re a new way of financing and unleashing solar for communities across the world. Mosaic’s mission is to democratize the financial and environmental benefits of solar.

The projects are powered by people like you
Together we can create a world powered by 100% clean energy. We are excited to have you join Mosaic. Sign up and invest today.

 

Solar Mosaic have also produced an interactive guide to help in the development of your own solar project.

Read more about Solar Mosaic and their current projects on their website.


Sharing Energy Makeover Costs

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 28th, 2011

Source: Climate Spectator


Photo by Yemisi Blake via flickr CC

From “Free energy makeovers drive growth for Siemens” by Natalia Drozdiak (Reuters):

One of Berlin’s most famous universities is getting a free green makeover that will slash its energy bill by nearly a third under an increasingly popular type of efficiency contract.

With engineering companies looking for new ways to drive growth in a tough economic environment, and the public sector finding it difficult to invest on stretched budgets, the deal between Siemens and the University of the Arts is a template for more. Under a ‘buy now pay later’ scheme, worth about 1.1 million euros, the UdK has turned its heating, cooling and lighting over to Siemens to renovate. In return Siemens gets to keep a substantial part of the savings that the scheme generates: since 2004 it has cut energy consumption by about 28 percent each year, reaping annual savings of about 240,000 euros. After the 10-year contract expires and the renovation has been paid for, the university gets to keep all the savings.

Read the full article by Natalia Drozdiak.


Mo-bility: Design Concept for Integrated Transport Credits

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on November 9th, 2011

Via Sustainable Cities Collective

mo“ – a flexible mobility system for the city of tomorrow

mo is a new mobility system – it helps make the city a better place to live. mo subscribers can rent bikes, cargobikes, ebikes and cars or use public transportation with just one card. With mo it pays to be eco-friendly: choose an eco-friendly transport or use your own bike to collect momiles. The more momiles the lower your bill. For instance if you mostly ride bikes, renting a car gets cheaper. Cycle and save money.

About the design concept: Under the direction of Munich design agency LUNAR Europe, a “human-centred” design process has been used to develop an innovative mobility system by the name of “mo”. The concept study, developed in collaboration with environmental organisation Green City e.V. and the University of Wuppertal, is based on a flexible, affordable and sustainable combination of bike rental systems, local public transport and car sharing.

>> Read more about mo.



Beehives on Airport Land

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 21st, 2011

Via Moreland Food Gardens Network


Photo by edible office via flickr CC

From “At O’Hare Airport, Unused Land Is Going to the Bees” by Zak Stone:

In May, the Chicago Department of Aviation partnered with a community group to start a 2,400 square foot apiary on-site. Now 23 beehives are up and running and are scheduled to yield 575 pounds of honey this year. The project offers a creative, sustainable, and productive way to use otherwise wasted open space at mega-airports like O’Hare. The bees’ new home on the east side of the airport campus had long stood vacant, so it was a natural spot for the bee program to begin. And if that’s not enough benefit, the beehives provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated adults (similar to other projects that teach prisoners beekeeping).

Sweet Beginnings, the offshoot of the local economic development agency that’s managing the project, trains felons in the art of beekeeping and the process of making honey, candles, and lotions, which are sold under the brand Beeline. O’Hare’s shops intend to start selling the hyper-local honey products soon. “It is the perfect example of a green business operating and growing in Chicago, while also providing opportunities to those who need a second chance,” said former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley.

[…]

Read the full article by Zak Stone on GOOD.

 


Parcel Service Uses Streetcars for Deliveries

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 3rd, 2011

Source: Japan for Sustainability

From “Yamato Starts Using Streetcars for Low-Carbon Parcel Transport“:

[…]

Under the new system, Yamato Transport Co. charters a single streetcar from Keifuku Electric Railroad at its Saiin carbarn, loads the streetcar with container dollies bearing parcels, and delivers them to Arashiyama Station and Randen-Saga Station. In Arashiyama, sales drivers unload the dollies, reload them onto carriers pulled by electric bicycles, and then deliver the parcels to customers.

Yamato Transport had already been using railway to transport parcels between some of its service offfices; however, this is the first modal shift between one of its distribution terminals and its sales offices, where parcels are actually collected and delivered. The company will introduce this system at other Randen streetcar stations and try to collect and deliver parcels while minimizing its use of trucks.

Yamato Transport hopes to reduce carbon emissions in Kyoto City, a city that, as the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, aims to be a model of environmental stewardship under the slogan “Walking City, Kyoto.”

Read the full article on Japan for Sustainability.