Monday, November 19, 2012

Breathing Earth

I just thought this website was cool! It shows you all the births, deaths, CO2 emissions and where they are located. Make sure to drag your mouse over a country and learn a little about it! Crazy! If you sit there and watch it for a while, it's funny, you see lots of births in India and lots of CO2 emissions form China (who may soon pass the U.S. with the most CO2 emissions released every year, in general)

LEED Rating System & Lincoln, NE

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed LEED, standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a certification system set up for “green” buildings. For a building or home to meet any level of the LEED standards is a humungous accomplishment. The LEED Green Building Rating System has different levels of certification, “LEED Certified”, “LEED Silver”, “LEED Gold”, and “LEED Platinum”. It is based on a 100-point scale with categories in
  • ·      Sustainable Sites
  • ·      Water Efficiency
  • ·      Energy & Atmosphere
  • ·      Materials & Resources
  • ·      Indoor Environmental Quality
  • ·      Locations & Linkages
  • ·      Awareness & Education
  • ·    Innovation in Design
  • ·    Regional Priority

They have different rating systems for different project types: New Construction, Existing buildings, Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Healthcare, Homes, and Neighborhood Development.
Nebraska, as of June 16, 2011, has 26 certified projects, 57 registered projects, with locations in Kearney, Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Norfolk, Halsey and more. 
Some of the projects in Lincoln include:
  • ·      Citizen and Immigration Service Center—Silver Certified
    • o   90% Daylight and Views for interior Spaces
    • o   20% Water Use Reduction
    • o   20% Regional Materials
    • o   86% Construction Waste Diverted
    • o   100% Electricity purchased from renewable sources for 2 years
  • ·      International Quilt Study Center and Museum—Silver Certified
    • o   32.14% Reduction in Energy Use
    • o   77.90% Spaces with Natural Daylight
    • o   60.27% Regional Materials
  • ·      Pioneers Park Nature Center Addition—Silver Certified
    • o   Geothermal heat pump system
    • o   Rainwater harvesting system
    • o   Straw bale walls
    • o   Recycled content materials
    • o   Green roof with native plants

Other buildings include the Color Court Building, the Sawmill Building, and the new Haymarket Arena, all in the Haymarket.

Resource Links
USGBC Nebraska Flatwater Chapter:

Power Surge

I watched an amazing documentary talking about renewable energy wedges as a solution to our energy and carbon emissions problem. The main points of this presentation were that energy is needed for everything, our current energy is depleting the planet, and that we need to find solutions. The video said that the U.S. has invested a large amount of money looking for clean energy solutions to help solve this problem.

The main task is to cut carbon emissions.

The wedge theory states, there is a problem between where we are and where we need to be. He broke it into a triangle, which represents the total amount of carbon dioxide that we must avoid putting into the atmosphere in the next 50 years. The ideal target is controversial because it is a difference of 7 billion tons per year. There are 15 possible "wedge" solutions each equaling 1 billion ton carbon emissions. The gap, like stated before, is 7 billion tons, so the gap can be filled with any 7 of the 15 wedges. The wedges can be duplicated. Some of the 15 wedge solutions include:
  • Efficiency (easiest & cheapest)
  • Tripling the number of nuclear power plants over 50 years
  • Cleaning coal plants by burying their carbon emissions
  • Sun, which means solar panels and/or wind turbines
There are many possible solutions to this problem with the wedge model.

Interestingly enough, some people are disregarding this theory/solution. The wedge theory is successful in that it takes a bigger problem and breaks in down into smaller pieces, thus, making It simple. Some believe that this theory is oversimplifying the problem to where people (the public) are too relaxed about it and feel that it is so simple that it's nearly solved. An article titled: Did Princeton Professor’s “Wedges” Theory Oversimplify Cutting?, discusses this “problem." (Source) It is so bizarre to me that for so many problems we have in the world today, we struggle to find a solution, and many solutions are difficult or costly, etc and we have now found one that seems attainable and people complain because its too simple.

I enjoyed this video, and it was interesting to hear more about the wedges. I have heard the wedges talked about in other classes, and, in my opinion, this documentary could have been improved by going more in depth about the stability wedges. By, possibly, describing how they find that each wedge is equal to each other. They showed that each wedge is equal to 1 billion tons of carbon but how did they find that out. I am interested in the calculations. Also, the wedges could be improved by discussing the other system feedbacks and impacts each one causes along with the economic impact. Some wedges are going to create more jobs, some are going to need more raw materials than others, etc.