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We here at Sustainable Hosting are keenly tracking the latest Green IT trends in technology and news. We aim to provide a point of referece for making sustainable decisions and becoming more aware of green practices. Follow us on Twitter @SustainableHost

I think we need to exploit this fact more.  With anaerobic digesters and this technology, we can power our own future without fossil fuels.

via [] by Cameron Scott, 06/01/10

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, green power,  biofuel, poo power, waste treatment, sustainable fuelPhoto courtesy American Chemical Society

The key difference between biofuels that are truly green and those that aren’t is the source material: is it genuinely waste, or is it something like food or virgin wood, that could be put to better use? Well, there’s one source about which there can be no doubt: sewage sludge. And a new study says that this poo-power can produce biodiesel that costs just 10 cents more than conventional diesel.

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, green power,  biofuel, poo power, waste treatment, sustainable fuelPhoto by bjornmeansbear

Every year, Americans generate seven million tons of sewage sludge — the semi-solid stuff that remains after wastewater is treated — and disposing of it is a real mess. Adding oil-producing microorganisms and processing the results into biodiesel could kill two turds birds with one stone, generating roughly seven billion gallons of fuel at just $3.11 a gallon. Conventional diesel costs about $3.00 a gallon.

The best practices for getting biodiesel this way have hardly been worked out yet, according to the study by EPA scientist David Kargbo. Among the biggest problems is finding a way to collect sludge that is high in lipids — the material the reaction uses — ensuring that traces of pharmaceutical chemicals don’t make it into the fuel. Finally, regulators haven’t even begun to assess what it would mean to transfer large amounts of sewage sludge to private companies for processing into biodiesel.

Via Science Daily

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West coast leadership! Woot! I can't wait to see the buildings of the future that consume no energy! Soon Oregon will have one!

via [] by Andrew Michler, 06/01/10

sustainable design, green design, oregon sustainability center,  green building, sustainable architecture, living building challenge,  sustainable skyscraper, eco office

The Oregon Sustainability Center is getting ready to build the largest Living Building Challenge-certified office tower in the world. The Portland-based skyscraper is being developed using the LBC’s doctrine of neither taking resources nor causing environmental harm — this means that the building will produce all of its own water sources and energy. That’s a tall order for a tower, but the collection of non-profits that comprise the Center, along with a strong community, feel up to it. Ground breaking is projected to start by the end of the year.

living building challenge, net zero-energy, net zero-water,  natural cooling,Portland Oregon building, low impact building, worlds  largest zero energy building, solar electric facade,

To achieve a net-zero energy footprint the building uses many passive design features. These include a floor plan and building materials that maximize natural cooling in the building, which mean that they will forgo any traditional AC. Natural lighting is, of course, a big part of the design. Just as important is a system that provides feedback to the occupants, to assist them in reducing personal energy consumption, which is upwards of 40% of the building’s total energy footprint. Because the energy load is so greatly reduced, a series of solar panel arrays will allow them to realize net-zero energy consumption. The panels will also shade windows and provide outdoor covered spaces.

The grey-water from toilets will be recycled using a living machine system and then treated and discharged within the development’s footprint. Rainwater will be collected for irrigating the many trees and plants that will be incorporated to make the space feel more natural for its fortunate occupants and visitors. The building will be used as a laboratory and educational facility to substantiate the Living Building Challenge. Many building professionals believe this system to be the next step beyond LEED certification.

+ Oregon Sustainability Center

Via eVolo

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Hurrah for new advancements in power storage!  This week has been good for batteries!

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One of the most frequent objections to renewable energy systems is that their production is too variable. But technologies continue to be developed that will allow storage of power generated from wind, solar, and other intermittent renewable sources. The latest development comes from researchers at Isentropicin Cambridge, England who propose giant batteries filled with gravel and argon gas. These batteries would provide a number advantages over pumped hydro, which is presently used for almost all electricity storage today, as well as over underground compressed air storage.

The gravel battery system would use excess capacity generated by a renewable source to heat and pressurize the argon gas and then pump it through a gravel filled silo to store energy. Then, when demand calls for electricity, the system is simply operated in reverse to generate electricity. According to the company, the system's "round trip efficiency is over 72% - 80%." This is comparable to the efficiency of pumped storage hydro, which has an efficiency of 70 - 85%. But gravel batteries are much more compact, and can be more readily installed in relatively flat areas characteristic of many areas with good windpower potential, such as the American Great Plains. A gravel battery can use far less land (1/300th) than that required for a pumped hydro lake, as well.

Underground compressed air storage is another technology that has been suggested, but that requires the presence of underground caverns, which are not always present where you might want to put a power storage facility. In addition to being able to be located anywhere, gravel batteries could be relatively inexpensive because they do not need costly materials. Costs could be as low as $55/kWh, and $10/kWh at scale for large installations.

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Innovation and technology can be such a sweet mix! :)
Written by Megan Treacy on 11/03/10

Beaded Washing
A new washing machine design uses 90 percent less water and reduces utility bills by 30 percent by cleaning clothes with tiny plastic beads.

The machine by UK company Xeros Ltd uses 3mm-long nylon beads that can get into all crevices and folds of clothing and absorb stains and dirt.  Stephen Burkinshaw, a polymer chemist at Leeds University, discovered that nylon beads at 100 percent humidity could attract stains away from clothing and into the center of the beads, preventing deposition back onto the clothes.

The machine uses a small amount of water to dampen the clothes and to reach the right humidity level, then the drum is flooded with the beads.  When the cycle is complete the beads drain away with the water to be reused hundreds of times.

I'm sure you've already started questioning what happens to these plastic beads once they're done scrubbing clothes.  The company wants to eventually create a closed loop where the saturated beads can be refreshed and reused in the machines, but for the time being they will be collected and recycled.

Xeros says that if all of the US used these machines instead of regular washing machines, it would save 1.2 billion tonnes of water per year and  the CO2 emissions saved would equal taking 5 million cars off the road.  The machine would also eliminate the need to dry clean many delicates, another environmental benefit.  The Xeros machine is expected to be available by the end of next year.

via Guardian

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People all across the nation are starting to realize that sustainable models are needed for the future.
by Brit Liggett, 03/11/10

colorado, bill ritter, governor, state legislature, green policy, renewable energy, green jobs, wind power, solar power, green energy, CO

On Monday a bill was dropped on Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s desk that ups the states renewable energystandard to over 30% by 2020. The bill was passed by the state legislature and will place Colorado in the number two spot in the country — behind California — in renewable energy mandates. If signed by the Governor it will lower the state’s emissions by 30 million tons of carbon, equivalent to the emissions of 670,000 cars per year.

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This might help more people adopt solar into their homes.

via []

Written by Megan Treacy on 11/03/10

Usually when you read about concentrated solar power, it's referring to some large project destined for the Mojave Desert, but Syracuse's Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE) has set out to prove that this technology can be used in smaller, colder settings.

SyracuseCoE in Syracuse, NY is itself a LEED-platinum-certified, 55,000 square-foot building that serves as a testing ground for renewable energy and efficiency technologies.  The south wall of the building is home to a concentrated solar facade that, at first glance, resembles the frosted cube walls found in doctors' office waiting rooms.

This 8-foot by 8-foot facade houses several clear pyramid lenses that track the sun and concentrate the rays onto high-efficiency PV cells.  Extra energy not converted to electricity is used for heating water and radiant heat in the building.  And because it's made up of clear panels, it also adds natural lighting indoors.  You can watch a video of the system at work here.

Using a concentrated solar power system in an architectural application is a new concept, so the center will be monitoring and reporting on its performance.

The facade was designed by the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology and the company HeliOptix is licensed to market it.

via Jetson Green

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We need a bigger public push to make a clean energy future.

via []

By Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus

The double digit growth of clean tech industries like solar and wind can't last, and climate legislation in Congress won't continue the momentum, according to a new Breakthrough Institute analysis made for a keynote speech at the Cleantech Group's February 2010 conference in San Francisco.

The rapid growth of renewable energy over the last few years will be difficult to maintain politically as solar and wind achieve a larger share of the energy market. If the U.S. were to maintain its production tax credit (PTC) subsidy for wind power to become 20 percent of America's energy generation, the cost would be $20 billion per year. Moreover, existing transmission is rapidly meeting capacity, which will push wind and solar into sites with higher load management, storage, and transmission costs.

Climate legislation currently being considered in Congress would do little to help the clean tech industry. Cap and trade legislation that passed the House would provide a .8 - 1.5 cent/kwh subsidy to renewables in contrast to the current 2.1 cent/kwh subsidy from the PTC, the 2 - 4 cents/kwh subsidy the Chinese government provides to wind, the 36 - 51 cents/kwh the Germans provide to solar, and the 11 - 17 cents/kwh the Chinese provide to solar.

To the extent clean tech thrives, it will do so in China, Japan and South Korea, which will collectively invest $509 billion to America's $172 billion over the next five years.
While clean tech entrepreneurs may profit in the short-term, long-term growth of clean tech require breakthroughs that make clean energy as cheap as coal. Experts agree that breakthroughs are needed for solar panels so that they more efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, for biofuels to be cheaply grown without intensive fossil fuel inputs, and for batteries to store more energy in smaller amounts of space. For nuclear plants to become much cheaper they will likely need to be smaller, mass manufactured, proliferation-proof, and need to store their own waste.

Energy Policy Comparison Graph.pngNot All Carrots Are Created Equal: Waxman-Markey's carbon price does less to close the clean tech price gap between clean energy and fossil fuels than more targeted policies in other nations.
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The Feds are starting to think lean and green!  Excellent! :)

via []
By Mark Fontecchio, News Writer
26 Feb 2010 |

The federal government and major industry groups are on the cusp of developing widely accepted standards for measuring a data center's energy efficiency.

Along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with six data center industry groups: 7x24 Exchange, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Green Grid, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Uptime Institute. The goals? To standardize data center efficiency metrics, which could help prevent "greenwashing," and to give data center pros tools to reduce energy consumption in their facilities.

Earlier this month, the coalition agreed to guiding principles regarding power usage effectiveness (PUE), which compares total data center power with IT power used. And by June, the EPA's Energy Star program will launch a benchmarking program that will enable companies to rate their own data centers on a scale of 1 to 100. If they're green enough, data centers can even earn Energy Star status.

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This is an amazing new use of something very common.

via []

Old shipping containers may not be the first resource that comes to mind when thinking of sustainable living options, but as an up-and-coming green manufacturing company has already proven, they just might be a viable option for those seeking to live in an eco-friendly environment.

Upcycle Living, a Phoenix-based construction firm, provides affordable ecological housing for residential communities around the world. In November 2009, a demonstration project at the Green Street Festival showed off what could be accomplished with four remodeled shipping containers.

Upcycle building.

“We have many ways that we can treat the exterior, and most of them involve putting an exterior skin on the container and concealing the steel from any direct radiation from the sun and also concealing it from view," says co-founder Jason Anderson. Photo:

The display contained two floors, two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, with stylish bamboo cabinets, dual-flush toilets, ENERGY STAR appliances and low-flow showerheads to boot.

“The inspiration for Upcycle Living came from our desire to create a quality housing project that was sustainable yet affordable, durable and mobile in nature,” says Ashton Wolfswinkel, co-founder of Upcycle Living.

As to why shipping containers are his company’s choice of material, he explains, “Shipping containers are very abundant, especially in our country where we import so much more than we export.”

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Even the "Average Joe" could pull this one off.

via [] Reported by: C.J. LeMaster

Both the "Danger: High Voltage" sign and "electric" moniker give away this sports car's biggest secret. (C.J. LeMaster)
It's been a labor of love for Louis Rosa and his brother Nick.

"This was the biggest undertaking that we've ever done," Louis Rosa said.

For more than a year, they've spent any extra time and effort left over from college on a remarkable "green" project.

The car looks pretty impressive by itself: sporty, exotic and fast, but one might be surprised with what lies beneath this fiberglass exterior.

"The main question i get is: 'Is it a Ferrari?' No, it's not, unfortunately. It would be nice," Louis said.

It goes 90 miles an hour, it has great acceleration and it's a sleek sports car. That's where the similarities end, however: this baby's not gas, it's electric.

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BIg Blue is bringing us some good news each month.  Reducing our power consumption for our computers is going to be critical for success in the future.

via []


IBM has recently rolled out its latest version of the Power processors that are touted to lay the foundation for companies' green IT efforts, while helping the company's bottomline by opening up new revenue streams. The Power 7 chips will utilize a mere 25% of the energy used by its predecessor, the Power 6, although it boasts double the performance. Main rivals for the Power 7 chips would include Sparc and Niagara processors from Suna nd Hewlett-Packard's Itanium chips. Good to see IBM helping keep the earth green - let us hope that other companies will also not let up on their efforts.

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