Monday, August 30, 2010

Penn State to receive up to $122 million for "Energy Innovation Hub"

Washington, D.C. - A team led by The Pennsylvania State University will receive up to $122 million over the next five years from the Department of Energy to establish an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing technologies to make buildings more energy efficient.  The Energy Innovation Hub will be located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Clean Energy campus, and will bring together leading researchers from academia, two U.S. National Laboratories and the private sector in an ambitious effort to develop energy-efficient building designs that will save energy, cut pollution, and position the United States as a leader in this industry.
Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions.  Developing systems to improve building efficiency will provide significant benefits - reducing energy use and bills, cutting pollution, and creating jobs in the building efficiency industry.

"The Energy Innovation Hubs are a key part of our effort to harness the power of American ingenuity to achieve transformative energy breakthroughs," said Secretary Chu.  "By bringing together some of our brightest minds, we can develop cutting-edge building energy efficiency technologies that will reduce energy bills, cut carbon pollution, and create jobs.  This important investment will help Philadelphia become a leader in the global clean energy economy."

"This significant federal funding to establish the Energy Innovation Hub will build on Pennsylvania's growing reputation as a clean energy leader," said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. "In addition to helping to protect our environment, investments in clean energy create good-paying jobs. And the great ideas that will come from this groundbreaking energy lab will help to reduce our nation's reliance on foreign energy sources - representing a win-win for taxpayers."

"This funding is great news for the Commonwealth and is a crucial step towards creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly America," said U.S. Senator Bob Casey.  "With this support, the consortium can focus on energy efficiency and innovation and assist communities in reducing their energy use and creating good jobs for Pennsylvanians."

"Reducing energy consumption by buildings is an indispensable part of a clean energy, energy-efficient, low-emission American economy," said U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.  "This funding presents a major opportunity to create new jobs and industries, save energy, reduce energy prices, and reduce emissions. I am pleased that Penn State and Philadelphia are leading the nation through technical innovation."

The mission of this Energy Innovation Hub is to research, develop and demonstrate highly efficient building components, systems, and models which are applicable to both retrofit and new construction. The Hub team will pursue a research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program targeting technologies for single buildings and district-wide systems. 

These technologies include computer simulation and design tools to enable integrated project teams of architects, engineers, contractors and building operators to work collaboratively on retrofit, renovation and new building design projects; advanced combined heat and power (CHP) systems; building-integrated photovoltaic systems for energy generation; advanced HVAC systems with integrated indoor air quality management; and  sensor and control networks to monitor building conditions and optimize energy use.  The RD&D program will also incorporate a systematic analysis of the role of policy, markets and behavior in driving the adoption and use of energy technologies in buildings.

The Energy-Efficient Building Systems Design Hub is one of three Hubs that will receive funding in FY10. In May, the Department announced that a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory will establish a Hub on modeling and simulation for nuclear reactors. In July, the Department announced that a team led by the California Institute of Technology will establish a Hub focused on developing Fuels from Sunlight. The Energy Innovation Hubs are large, multidisciplinary, highly collaborative teams of scientists and engineers working over a longer time frame to achieve a specific high-priority technical goal. They will be managed by top teams of scientists and engineers with enough resources and authority to move quickly in response to new developments.

The team, led by Dr. Henry C. Foley, will use the Navy Yard campus, which has over 200 buildings and operates an independent electric microgrid as a "virtual municipality" to test and validate the technologies developed by the RD&D program in real buildings.
The Energy Innovation Hub will be funded by the Department of Energy at up to $22 million this fiscal year. The Hub will then be funded at an estimated $25 million per year for the next four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

Additionally, the Energy-Efficient Building Systems Design Hub will serve as an anchor for a multi-agency initiative to support a Regional Innovation Cluster.  Further details of the Regional Innovation Cluster will be announced soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Save the Planet - Sustain A School

LOS ANGELES - The Ultimate Green Store has set up a division of its affiliate program for schools to be able to fundraise online. "The process is simple," says Laura Meyer, CEO of the company in announcing the launch of their Save the Planet - Sustain A School program.. "Schools can join the affiliate program through our website and download banners for their school website or e-newsletters, thereby providing parents with a resource for hundreds of eco-friendly products including a large selection of back-to-school supplies and school gear. The store will soon be launching a Teens & Dorm section that will tie into the application of the program to universities and college students."

A percentage of every sale that results from a click from the school website or e-newsletter will go back to the school. The program is open to any school - public or private - at any level from elementary schools to universities.

With so many schools communicating with parents and students online and supporting or initiating green practices, The Ultimate Green believes this is a great opportunity for schools to fundraise and support green products. Announcements about scheduled webinars about the program for parents and school administrators will follow.

In addition to the affiliate component of the program, The Ultimate Green will be donating a percentage of sales to provide schools in need with eco-friendly school supplies. "Crippled by budget cuts, a growing number of schools across the country are facing a serious shortage of school supplies," says Meyer, a mother of three school-age boys. Educators whose classrooms lack basic items such as paper and pencils must often pay for them out of their own pockets. Supply shortages present a serious challenge for teachers and can lower the quality of education children receive.

The Ultimate Green will do its job of giving back by donating things like tree-free paper, recycled newspaper pencils, biodegradable rulers and recycled crayons. Meyer says schools will be encouraged to share with their students literature provided by The Ultimate Green about how the donated items help the planet. Says Meyer, "educating students about going green is empowering to all kids - it gives them something to care about and a greater purpose."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mexican diplomacy in the rescue of Cancun climate change summit

LONDON - Leading figures in the Mexican negotiating team are trying to save the upcoming UN climate change summit in Cancun from collapse in a bout of frantic diplomacy and bring developing countries back on board. They have spent the past few weeks attempting to restore confidence in the negotiating process after the most recent round of talks in Bonn ended in a standoff between industrialized and developing countries.

Fernando Tudela, Mexico's chief negotiator, said the host nation accepted the Cancun summit would not deliver an international climate change treaty, but insisted a "spectacular breakthrough" was still possible. Tudela said the Cancun summit would aim to deliver "a set of meaningful decisions" on issues such as climate financing and adaptation, while also engineering an end to the "regime standoff" that has marred past negotiations.

Tudela's colleagues have been attempting to lay the foundation for an advance over the past few weeks by reaching out to those countries that have repeatedly blocked climate change negotiations. Also, Mexican officials are actively courting those developing countries that have "felt excluded" from the negotiations. The nations that admitted being frustrated by their exclusion from the Copenhagen climate change summit include Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, the Gulf states, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Colombia.

Mexico's climate ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba said, "We have a very clear understanding that this is a process that needs to have everybody involved, not only the major [greenhouse gas] emitters." He also revealed that Mexico was attempting to broker a deal with African countries to ensure they are better prepared for the next round of climate change talks. The talks, formally known as the 16th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP 6) will be held at the seaside resort from November 29 through to December 10, 2010.

Meanwhile, Patricia Espinosa, Mexico's minister for foreign affairs, who will chair the COP15 meeting in the Cancun summit, this week travelled to India to meet with the country's influential environment minister Jairam Ramesh. According to reports in the Hindustan Times, Espinosa told Ramesh that "an ambitious outcome at the global meet requires India's sustained political guidance and support." The two countries' negotiating teams also discussed their respective positions ahead of the Cancun climate change summit, particularly with regards to carbon emission targets and technology transfer arrangements.