A Green Infrastructure Unlocks Several Successful Environmental Initiatives
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The world is in a constant state of flux and the environment is no different. Lately, it seems as though flash flooding, earthquakes, and hurricanes are occurring all too often. The severity of them is seemingly unprecedented. Additionally, cities like Washington, D.C. - normally accustomed to mild winters - are experiencing record snow fall while those that expect heavy precipitation, like Syracuse, NY, are setting records for not having any of it. While this may or may not have anything to do with global warming, it certainly is a reminder that the environment is capable of a lot of unexpected changes and we should be doing what we can to balance our use of natural resources and minimize our carbon footprint. Otherwise, the odd, eyebrow-raising nature of weather patterns we’re currently experiencing may end up being catastrophic events down the road.
Yet, what can be done that isn’t currently being done? Cutting down on carbon emissions and recycling have been at the forefronts of the go green movement. However, some initiatives that target a completely new, green infrastructure have gone unnoticed but are essential to competitiveness, long term sustainability, job growth, energy independence and national security.
According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. A large proportion of energy is lost through cracks in walls and ceilings. In terms of energy conservation, individuals can make immediate improvements to their energy profile simply by adding insulation to their home. Arguably, the best insulation for any green home is Cellulose which, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, requires less energy to make and is made of 75% recycled material. This is great for air quality in the home and also for the environment. There’s also renewable Cotton, abundant Fiberglass, and even Soy based foam insulation, which has the highest percentage of renewable resource ingredients in the industry with 60%. By doing this, any homeowner can add value to their home while conserving energy and reducing their utility bill. Long term savings outweigh upfront costs. The implementation of Smart Meters can help them find other areas of their home where energy can be used more efficiently. In some locations, local governments are providing residents with them for free. This seems to be the best strategy for getting residents the tools necessary to cut energy costs. The theory suggests that consumers will make necessary changes to their energy consumption if they can actually see exactly where it is being used inefficiently.
Aside from individual efforts, there are a lot of groups and organizations that people can get involved with that tackle larger projects. The University-National Park Energy Partnership Program (UNPEPP) is a great example. UNPEPP is a public private partnership (PPP) that puts federal grant money in the hands of young, impressionable university students eager to change the United States landscape one national park at a time. Universities all across America use the federal grant money to create internship opportunities for students to travel to a national park in their area and work with energy and environmental professors, experts and park personnel to perform energy audits, recommend energy conservation measures and implement renewable energy technology (RET) that ultimately save the parks thousands in energy costs and significantly reduce their carbon footprint. The UNPEPP 10 year Report is posted on the website. This type of partnership is a rewarding experience for everyone involved and similar PPPs should be on the forefront of the green energy movement.
A third component of building the green energy infrastructure involves business owners. While individual efforts generally result in relatively smaller improvements and PPPs sometimes get delayed by energy policies hung up by the legislative process, private businesses march to the beat of their own drum. They are in a position to tackle large scale projects that can create a large impact without delay. A lot of businesses see the potential for going green. Many of them have come on board. There is actually a scoring system that was devised in 1998, called LEED Certification to help gauge just how far a company has gone to incorporate green initiatives into their designs. Specifically, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System provides a benchmark for the environmentally sustainable creation and use of buildings and neighborhoods. According to USGBC, 72% of electricity consumption and 39% of energy use come from buildings in the United States alone. LEED certified buildings use efficient resources to improve performance with energy conservation, CO2 emissions reduction, and water efficiency all while enchaining the ecosystems they are a part of - rather than diminishing them.
One major company, Globetrotters Engineering Corporation (GEC), an architectural company founded by engineer and CEO, Niranjan Shah, is an example of a company that adheres to LEED certification. GEC is responsible for the management of many facets of modernization and expansion of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago (the first privately managed terminal in the United States). Niranjan Shah proved that implementation of green design can be successful, helpful to society and profitable all at the same time. An example of another company that earned LEED Certification is the Washington D.C. based mortgage company, Fannie Mae, which was responsible for the first-ever LEED data center. There are countless other companies that are earning LEED certification. Government incentives given to companies that earn LEED certification is a way to boost the number of participants and achieve the environmental sustainability results that environmentally friendly federal energy policies target but can’t necessarily get passed through legislation.
On a much larger scale, organizations like the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), founded by Bill Clinton and counselor Doug Band, are doing their part to bring the strongest political leaders together to tackle world problems. However, small projects at home, public private partnerships and LEED certification are methods that combine to allow everyone a chance to get involved to curtail inefficient energy use. The necessity to highlight them cannot be understated. The planet is home to all of us and the best way to ensure sustainability is to live and work as environmentally friendly as possible.
Written by Marcus Reyes
February Career Progress
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I realize that it is not easy to write a technical review paper for my Ph.D. I've been working on this paper since September last year, on and off. But lately, I'm struggling to complete it as soon as possible. By hook or by crook, I need to hand the technical review paper to my supervisor for her to check before submitting it to a renowned journal that I'm not going to reveal now. I intend to prepare 3 technical papers this year. It's not easy. It's really tough. But I need to double my efforts and boost up my motivation.
It's kind of funny... when I'm working with my laptop to do some work, I'm fine and my eyes are OK. But when I'm working on my technical review paper, my eyes starts to soar and my head begin to spin, an early sign of a terrible and miserable head ace of the day.
First Stage Examination
Earlier today I receive a phone call informing about my first stage Ph.D examination schedule. I purposely decided to present my first stage examination in my second semester to speed up everything, besides the encouragement from my supervisor to present early. Normally, a Ph.D student will have to present the first stage on the 3rd semester. Luckily, I have just completed the presentation slide yesterday with 51 pages in the slide. I wonder how can I present that much in 30 minutes. Yes, they allocate ONLY 30 minutes only for the presentation and after that some other students will be presenting their first stage. I don't really understand the format of first stage presentation adopted nowadays. The faculty used to have dedicated first stage examination allocated for a student for about maximum (and typically) half a day and that can entice discussion that will led to a better Ph.D or masters degree scope. Well, it's ok. Whatever it is, I'll try and do my very best. I also hope to receive good feedbacks and comments from the examiners to improve my scope.
ICPEAM201 Conference paper I just completed a technical paper to be presented in ICPEAM2010/SOMChE 2010 last week. The submission process is interesting. To submit a paper, we now have to register with EDAS. EDAS is used to manage a large number of conferences and journal special issues. After registering with EDAS, you can upload your paper and edit your particulars. If you want to amend your paper, you can re-upload the improved version of the paper. I'm still very new to EDAS, but I think more and more conferences will adopt it mainly due to managing technical paper selection for journal special issues.
Visit to National Instrument Seminar
Last month, four of us (me, Dr. Tuan, Tun & Huda) traveled up north to PJ, Selangor to National Instrument office attending a seminar on control system. This is for us to fully comprehend the techniques and equipment available to connect our experimental hardware and software for better control, monitoring and analysis. Honestly, I'm still very blur on the whole concept but I need to really understand it so that I can apply them for my rigs. However, I'm not sure whether we can really buy and apply the technology because of the financial constraint that we are facing now. We have little money, not lots of money. I think I should write something about this module, digital input, analog input, signal, GUI, programing etc later...when I understand this better.
The training took place in room in National Instrument office in PJ. They provided us laptops that were shared with other participants. A module and casing come with a analog input signal and digital input signal connected to the laptop via a USB cable was also supplied.
Setting up an alarm indicator using. The LED is the simulated alarm...
I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!