Tag Archives: energy

Being Sustainable – in 10 easy steps

 

CARBON FOOTPRINT

Environmental science is all about finding ways to live more sustainably, which means using resources today in a way that maintains their supplies for the future. Environmental sustainability doesn’t mean living without luxuries but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste.

  1. Reduce household energy use

    Energy conservation is itself a source of energy. Here are several simple ways to reduce your household energy use:

    • Turn off appliances and lights that you’re not using.

    • Install energy-efficient appliances.

    • Use a programmable thermostat that lowers or raises the temperature when you’re not home.

    • Set your thermostat lower than usual in the winter and bundle up.

    • Open windows to allow a breeze instead of turning on the air conditioning.

    • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

    • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
      light bulb

  2. Eat locally

    A powerful way to live more sustainably is to eat locally. The convenience of supermarkets has changed how people think about food. You can stroll through aisles stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other products from all over the world any time of year. But these products consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get from those global locations to your corner supermarket.

  3. Dispose with disposables

    Previous generations didn’t dream of single-use razors, forks, cups, bags, and food storage containers, but these days, you can find a plastic version of almost any object and then throw that object away after you use it.
    single use plastic

    Many of the environmental health issues today stem from toxins released into the environment by trash. Even trash that’s properly disposed of, such as that in a landfill, requires careful monitoring to ensure that dangerous chemicals don’t enter the surrounding environment.
    single plastic bag

    When you make a purchase, consider the item’s life expectancy: How long can the item be used? Will it have more than one use? When you’re done with it, will it end up in the trash? Start investing in reusable products for the items you most often throw away.

  4. Plant seeds

    Try growing your own food. Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or in a container on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres; a few square feet on a patio, along the driveway, or in a window box can provide enough space to grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables.
    kitchen garden

  5. Recycle

    Recycle as much as possible! If your neighborhood or apartment complex doesn’t offer recycling pickup, either find a drop-off location or request the curbside service. Buying products labeled post-consumer lets companies know that recycling is the way to go!

    For other items, such as CFLs, batteries, mobile/cellphones, and electronics, find an appropriate recycler. Many local stores accept used batteries over the counter, but be sure to ask where these materials go for recycling and avoid companies that ship electronic waste overseas for unregulated “recycling” and salvage operations.

  6. Resell and donate items

    Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills.

    Providing your items are in good condition and are compliant with safety standards there are many charity/thrift shops that you can donate to, so your items not only continue to be used but they benefit others by generating funds.
    donation

    You can try reselling on Ebay or similar and make yourself some extra cash.  There are also many reseller or goods-for-free pages on Facebook where you can get in touch with people in your own area and give your goods a new lease of life.

  7. Drink from the tap

    Dependence on bottled water has added more than a million tons of plastic to the waste stream every year. One reason people rely on bottled water is because they believe it’s safer and better tasting than tap water. But most municipal water supplies in the U.S. provide safe, clean, fresh water (and many bottled waters are just bottled from city water supplies anyway).
    tap water

    If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, consider the one-time investment in a filtration system. If you like the convenience of bottled water, purchase refillable bottles and keep one in your fridge, one in your car, and one at the office. Encourage your employer to install filters and offer glasses or reusable bottles at work, too.

  8. Save water

    An easy way to live more sustainably is to conserve household water use. Consider installing water-efficient toilets or dual-flush toilets that let you choose whether to use a full flush (for solid waste) or half-flush (for liquid waste). Newer clothes washers can automatically sense the smallest level of water needed for each load.

    Smaller changes, such as switching to water-saving shower heads and adding aerators to your sink faucets, are also effective ways to significantly reduce household water use.

    To conserve water outdoors, use landscaping adapted to your local environment. When buying plants, look for drought-tolerant species and varieties and be sure to plant them in proper soil and sun conditions to reduce their need for excess watering. Set up sprinkler systems so they don’t water the sidewalk, the driveway, and other paved, impermeable surfaces.

  9. Rely less on your car

    Using fossil fuels to support one person in each car on the road is clearly no longer sustainable. Investigate public transit options in your town or city, such as a bus or train or find out if your company operate carpool service for staff. When traveling close to home, walk or ride your bike.
    cycle to work

    Many workers in the UK now benefit from the Government Green initiative “Cycle to Work Scheme”.  Cycles and safety equipment can be obtained through an employer as a salary sacrifice.  This means there are substantial savings on average of 32% on the cost of equipment.  So a cycle valued at £800 would actually only cost £544.

  10. Purchase fair-trade products

    When you purchase items that are imported from all over the world — particularly coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, chocolate, and fruit — look for the fair-trade certification. This designation tells you that these items were grown using sustainable methods of agriculture and that local people are receiving fair prices for the goods they produce.
    fairtrade logo

    Items that don’t have the fair-trade certification may have been produced unsustainably and may be the product of exploitative labor practices that don’t benefit the local people.

We hope this has given you a few pointers on how live more sustainably.  It doesn’t involve a major change to the way you do things and it most certainly

won’t cost you the Earth.

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy

Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Renewable

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that we cannot run out of solar energy, as opposed to non-renewable energy sources (e.g. fossil fuels, coal and nuclear).

We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA. We have worse things to worry about; in fact, scientists have estimated that the sun itself will swallow Earth 5 billion years from now.

2. Abundant

The potential of solar energy is beyond imagination. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.

3. Sustainable

An abundant and renewable energy source is also sustainable. Sustainable energy sources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, solar energy is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Harnessing solar energy does generally not cause pollution. However, there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources. It is clear that solar energy reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. This is an important step in fighting the climate crisis.

solar eco friendly

5. Good Availability

Solar energy is available all over the world. Not only the countries that are closest to the Equator can put solar energy to use – Germany, for example, has by far the highest capacity of solar power in the world.

6. Reduces Electricity Costs

With the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes, homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity, or receive bill credits, during times when they produce more electricity than what they actually consume.

This means that homeowners can reduce their overall electricity expenses by going solar. Data from One Block Off the Grid reveals that adding solar panels to your home can bring in monthly savings of well above $100 in many states. In Hawaii, residents save on average $64,000 after 20 years!

Nowadays, most homeowners choose leasing or power purchase agreements to finance their solar panels. This drastically reduces, or in some cases completely eliminates, the upfront costs of a solar panel system, and allows homeowners to start saving money from the first day.

7. Many Applications

Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. It can be used to generate electricity in places that lack a grid connection, for distilling water in Africa, or even to power satellites in space.

Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power”, which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level (both photovoltaic and solar thermal).

With the introduction of flexible thin-film solar cells, solar power can even be seemingly integrated into the material of buildings (building integrated photovoltaics) – Sharp, a solar panel manufacturer with headquarters in Japan, recently introduced transparent solar power windows.

8. Shared Solar

Because of shading, insufficient space and ownership issues, 1/5 American homes are simply unfit for solar panels.  With the introduction of shared solar, homeowners can subscribe to “community solar gardens”, and generate solar electricity without actually having solar panels on their own rooftops.

9. Silent

There are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power. There is no noise associated with photovoltaics. This compares favorable to certain other green-techs such as wind turbines.

10. Financial Support from Government/State

Government and state rebates have become available both on utility-scale and for the majority of homeowners. This means that the effective costs of solar panels are much less than what they used to be. In some cases, the price of a residential photovoltaic system can be cut more than 50%.

As of 12/31/2008, the U.S. government offers a 30% tax credit with no upper limit. Chances are your home is also eligible for other grants and rebates.

11. Low Maintenance

The majority of today`s solar power systems do not require a lot of maintenance. Residential solar panels usually only require cleaning a couple of times a year. Serious solar manufacturers ship 20- or 25-year warranties with their solar panels.

12. Technology is Improving

Technological advancements are constantly being made in the solar power industry. Innovation in nanotechnology and quantum physics has the potential to triple the electrical output of solar panels.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Expensive

Is solar power really expensive? This is probably the most debatable aspect on the entire solar energy pros and cons list. The driving forces behind the development of solar energy are rooted in politics. Solar power is incentivized to compete against other energy sources on the market. On the other hand, the U.S. government, similarly to the rest of the world, provides incentives to every major energy production market – not just solar.

In 2010, coal received $1,189 billion in federal subsidies and support for electricity production while solar is not far behind at $968 billion.

Nowadays, the best solar panels can in many situations be cheaper than buying electricity from the utility. This wouldn`t have been possible without incentives.

2. Intermittent

Solar energy is an intermittent energy source. Access to sunlight is limited at certain times (e.g. morning and night). Predicting overcast days can be difficult. This is why solar power is not our first choice when it comes to meeting the base load energy demand. However, solar power has fewer problems than wind power when it comes to intermittence.

3. Energy Storage is Expensive

Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smooth out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive.

Luckily, there`s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there`s a lot of sunlight!

4. Associated with Pollution

While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gases and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution.

The bottom line is this: There’s nothing that’s completely risk-free in the energy world, but solar power compares very favorably with all other technologies.

5. Exotic Materials

Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. This is especially true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).

6. Requires Space

Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices.

The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m².[5] This is more than any other renewable energy source, but not comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power.

 

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Rio 2016 – Maracana Stadium

The legendary Maracanã stadium stages the decisive matches of the football tournament and two of the Games’ most striking moments: the opening and closing ceremonies. The stadium was recently modernised for the 2014 World Cup.

The long list of upgrades to the iconic venue includes the installation of world-class rainwater harvesting system and an enormous bank of solar panels. In addition to the energy efficiency and water savings, the Maracanã stadium has further polished its green credentials by reducing CO2 emissions, responsible for greenhouse gases, improving the local environment and optimizing use of construction materials.

The stadium’s sustainable performance saw it obtain a Leadership in fifa_stadiumEnergy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate seal from the US Green Building Council Brazil (USGBC). The LEED certificate seal is considered one of the foremost global sustainability ratings for buildings.To achieve the LEED certification, the Maracanã stadium was assessed in seven areas: sustainable space, water, energy and atmospheric efficiency, materials and resources, internal environmental quality, innovation and processes and regional priority credits.

An instantly recognisable feature of the upgrade is the approximately 2,500m² of photovoltaic panels installed around the stadium’s distinctive roof that can produce enough energy to power 240 homes and helps reduce the stadium’s power consumption.

A less conspicuous feature of the stadium is its impressive array of 18 massive rainwater harvesting tanks. The rainwater tanks are fed from the roof, which have been engineered to collect large amounts of rainwater for use in the stadium’s water systems, reducing its reliance on externally supplied water by 40%. The modular rainwater tanks supply water to irrigate the pitch, as well as for use in the 292 toilets and restrooms. The restroom facilities are also equipped with ecological flushing systems and intelligent faucets.

Sustainability seems to go hand in hand with the Olympic movement nowadays with each host striving to make THEIR games the greenest ever.

 

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)