Muzzley on iOS and Android wants to give you one place to control all your smart home items. Those who own smart devices like intelligent lighting systems, thermostats, etc. need rely on separate apps that can’t talk to each other. For many popular smart home appliances, they’re siloed off in their own world.
Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Heising-Simons family today announced the launch of a new Clean Energy Initiative to support state-based solutions that will ensure America has an energy system that is clean, affordable, and reliable. Advances in new energy technologies make it possible to achieve all three goals at once. A stronger, cleaner energy system will also pave the way for improved air quality and help fight the damaging health and economic impacts of climate change. The initiative will provide $48 million in grant funding to a broad range of stakeholders that will accelerate the transition of the U.S. power fleet toward cleaner electricity generation.
The new initiative will bolster collaborative, state-based approaches that encourage utilities to adopt technologies that have only recently become available and affordable. Since 2010, solar energy prices have plummeted by 80 percent, wind energy prices have been cut in half, and the cost of LED lighting has fallen by 80 percent. American consumers stand to benefit from these developments if state policymakers work with utilities to accelerate their adoption – the Clean Energy Initiative will help provide the technical assistance for the transition. More than half of the Bloomberg Philanthropies grant funding will go to support more than two dozen state and local partners, including the Institute for Energy Innovation and the Respiratory Health Association. Additional funds will provide support to national organizations such as the Center for the New Energy Economy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“With the price of clean power falling, and the potential costs of inaction on climate change steadily rising, the work of modernizing America’s power grid is both more feasible and urgent than ever. Pollution from power plants takes a terrible toll on public health, and it’s the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint. But smart investments can reduce it while also strengthening local economies,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “These grants will help states meet new federal clean power requirements in ways that save money and lives.”
Mark Heising added, “The science on climate change makes it abundantly clear that carbon pollution poses a deep threat to society, to agriculture, and to nature—and that early action is required to avoid these threats. New technologies ensure that the solutions to climate change can be cost-effective. This initiative is designed to accelerate those solutions.”
The Approach – Technical Support, Research & Advocacy:
The initiative will include analysis to determine grid optimization for different power types, potential for enhanced efficiency and methods to make the grid more robust. This analysis will help identify the biggest opportunities for new technologies and support regulatory strategies that ensure reliable and affordable energy for Americans.
The Clean Energy Initiative will also help states implement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a set of draft rules for reducing carbon pollution from the power sector. Currently, power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for about 38 percent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon pollution is already causing long-term impacts on the economy, including increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather patterns. Climate change also exacerbates health risks due to worsening smog, causing a range of respiratory illnesses. The EPA rules that address this pollution source require efforts from every state and every utility. Because the rules allow for a great deal of flexibility, and are customized for each state’s current energy profile, public officials have a chance to take advantage of new clean technologies and save money, even as they cut pollution. The Clean Energy Initiative will help galvanize states to take advantage of this opportunity as they implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
With technical support, research, and advocacy funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Heising-Simons family contributions, states will develop their own strategies to limit carbon pollution and ultimately achieve the Clean Power Plan’s aim to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels. This approach will also have public health benefits, including reducing smog pollution by an estimated 25 percent and avoiding up to 150,000 asthma attacks each year.
“Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Clean Energy Initiative is a big step forward for public health,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association in Chicago. “Not only will the initiative help cut carbon and curb climate change, it will also result in fewer asthma exacerbations, heart attacks and strokes throughout the US.”
“State and local leaders are on the front lines of transforming the way we produce and use energy,” said Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., now Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. “This new initiative is helping to capitalize on this shift and adapt to the new environmental realities and the business opportunities they present.”
A key feature of the Clean Power Plan is that it lets states choose the best combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, and improvements in current power plants. The EPA rules and associated state policies have the potential to increase renewable energy production three- to four-fold by 2025, an amount of growth that could power 28 to 41 million homes for a year. Depending on state policy choices, existing efficiency programs also have the potential to grow dramatically, with investments increasing two- to four-fold over the same period. This energy savings is the equivalent to the annual output of 35 to 60 coal plants.
With support from the new Clean Energy Initiative, together these state-based policies could help achieve efficiency savings and renewable energy capacity additions equivalent to the yearly output of 100 to 140 coal plants, or 13 to 17 percent of the total electricity generated by the U.S. fleet. The cumulative reductions in carbon emissions total up to 1.5 to 1.7 billion metric tons, approximately equal to Russia’s total emissions in 2012.
“The power sector is in an exciting period of transformation as we build out the 21st century energy grid—a time of opportunity as states and utilities write the roadmap for a smarter power system that cuts carbon pollution while providing affordable and reliable energy,” said Jim Rogers, Former Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy. “Bloomberg’s Clean Energy Initiative will help power companies get this right, and ultimately that’s good for the consumer.”
“The Clean Energy Initiative taps into the spirit of entrepreneurialism unleashed by new opportunities such as distributed generation, demand response and energy efficiency programs,” said Dan Scripps, President of the Institute for Energy Innovation in Michigan. “As states implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan over the coming years, they will be able to tap into tremendous opportunities to save consumers money while cutting carbon.”
“Climate change is here and now,” said Rhea Suh, NRDC President. “Tackling this central environmental threat of our time is an enormous task, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity. The Bloomberg Philanthropies and Heising-Simons Clean Energy Initiative will help America reinvigorate our economy and protect future generations from the dangers of climate change.”
“I’m grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for its support,” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. “The Clean Energy Initiative will propel smart, cost-effective reduction of carbon pollution from the biggest source, power plant smokestacks. We know how to make affordable clean energy. This initiative will speed the day when turning on a light doesn’t mean dirtier air or a legacy of dangerous climate change for our children.”
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visitbloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.
The Heising-Simons family is dedicated to advancing sustainable solutions in the environment, supporting groundbreaking research in science, and enhancing the education of our youngest learners.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Meghan Womack, +212-205-0176, firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Heating Tech to Feel Warm, Fuzzy, and Sustainable All Winter Long
Most homeowners only think about their home’s heating system twice: during the winter and when it’s broken. Many homeowners eventually replace what was there when they first moved in. But without a little research on the latest in home heating technology, they could be doing their homes (and their wallets) a disservice. Read on to learn more about technology that nearly always promises to save money in the long run yet doesn’t require a huge, up-front investment.
Though the idea of upgrading an old-fashioned steam radiator in a century-old home may sound unfeasible, new heating systems won’t always cost a fortune (no matter the age of a home).
Steam heating is one of the oldest central heating technologies, and it is still used in older homes and apartments. Steam radiator systems gained popularity because the steam moves itself through a building’s pipes without mechanical pumps, which made the residences less expensive to implement. Unfortunately, the process of boiling and condensing water is inherently energy-intensive, and steam only comes in one temperature: 212 degrees F. For this reason, many 21st century apartment dwellers have been guilty of opening windows in freezing temperatures in an effort to adjust the temperature of a given room. In the process, this forced the steam system to use even more energy.
At a TED Talk in 2012, all of that changed. Marshall Cox, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering at New York’s Columbia University, introduced the world to a simple, highly effective way to improve the efficiency of steam radiators. At the same time, tenants and building owners would have the ability to adjust the temperature in a given room with their smartphones.
How did Cox do it? An insulating cover with a built-in, digitally controlled, quiet fan slips over the radiators coils. When fully closed, the “radiator cozy” keeps the steam heat in the coil and away from the room. When a sensor attached to the fan reads that the temperature in the room has dropped to, say, 72 degrees, the quiet fan kicks on. Steam-heated air blows into the room, and the radiators’ thermostats can be adjusted room by room and even controlled remotely with a proprietary Radiator Labs app.
In a building-wide implementation in New York City, Cox and his team claim the radiator cozies could cut the steam-heating system’s total energy demand by as much as 40 percent. That’s a huge potential savings for homeowners and landlords and a big win for planet Earth, especially because most steam systems are still powered by fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.
Using fewer fossil fuels is a great step forward, but some homeowners want to go even further and completely eliminate their home’s fossil fuel use altogether. Those homeowners – even the ones with older homes – may be able to benefit from active solar heating.
Putting solar panels on homes to help generate electricity is a pretty well-known process, but active solar heating is a bit different. In these active systems, the solar energy captured by the panels is used to directly heat a fluid, either liquid or air, and then transfer that heat into the home’s living space when radiators or fans blow heated air through ductwork in the building’s walls.
There are a number of factors that ultimately determine whether or not a specific home or commercial building will be able to switch completely to active solar. However, the climate is probably the most important factor. Homes built farther north, for example, will not only get colder and require more heating but also will receive less sunlight during the winter (limiting the effectiveness of an active solar heating system). The home’s design is a factor to consider when weighing the costs and benefits of solar heating because a two-story building will have twice as much living space to heat as will a single-story home with the same roof.
Despite those limitations, going solar may be more cost effective than most homeowners think, thanks to state and federal tax incentives. In California for instance, home solar PV (photo-voltaic) installations are eligible for a 30 percent tax rebate using IRS form 5695. In some states, homeowners can sell excess electricity they generate with their home solar PV panels back to their local utility company, which can help further offset the cost of installation. Companies including PURE Energies in San Francisco and Cost of Solar in New Jersey help homeowners calculate potential savings from solar panels. These companies also help guide consumers through the process of applying for and receiving rebates and incentives to make the transition to clean, emissions-free solar power as painless as possible.
Solar isn’t the only emissions-free home heating alternative out there. There’s another hot green-heating technology that doesn’t require the sun to power it but that instead relies on the power of planet Earth. It’s called geothermal heat, and it comes from naturally existing warmth sourced from deep within the planet.
Far enough underground, the Earth’s temperature reaches and maintains a steady average of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit no matter how hot or cold the air is outside. Tapping into geothermal heat enabled our cave-dwelling ancestors to survive the bitter cold of the ice age and can enable 21st century homeowners to greatly reduce energy bills by moving fluid air through a series of underground pipes, or loops, beneath their homes. Doing so means the heating system only has to heat 50-degree air to a comfortable room temperature rather than warm up freezing polar-vortex-cooled air from outside.
Reducing the amount of work necessary to keep interior living spaces comfortable allows a geothermal pump to produce nearly 12,000 BTUs of heating or cooling for every kilowatt-hour of electricity used. That’s less than half of what a conventional system uses and nearly 30 percent more efficient than the most efficient gas furnaces are.
There are a number of high-tech ways to heat a home that can cut energy costs in big ways, but technology can only take us so far. No matter how high-tech and energy efficient a home heating system is, homeowners still have to use their heads and pay attention to their homes to get the most out of those energy dollars.
Use Smart Home Tech to Save
According to the Sustainable Window Alliance (SWA), exterior windows represent an average of 8 percent of a traditional home’s exterior surface but can account for up to 60 percent of unwanted heat loss in the winter and more than 90 percent of unwanted heat gain in the summer. Addressing the energy efficiency of a home’s windows can play a huge role in getting the most out of an energy-efficient heating system.
The SWA came up with a new way to measure a window’s energy efficiency called the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). When used in concert with the more familiar U-value (a measurement of how well a given window prevents heat from escaping), the SHGC can provide homeowners a clearer picture of what’s costing them money year-round.
There are other well-known, enormously effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of a home as well, from blowing in attic insulation to using draft stoppers under doors. A more high-tech approach, however, can be a “smart” thermostat.
Conventional thermostats allow users to adjust the temperature in a home or office. Older systems use a mercury switch – a glass vial with a small amount of mercury inside that opens or closes a wire circuit as the mercury rises and falls – but most of those have been replaced by digital, programmable thermostats. Those with thermostats might wonder what smart thermostats, such as the ecobee and Nest, can do for a home.
The answer is pretty simple. A programmable thermostat can be set to use less energy during set hours. Smart thermostats, however, learn from users’ behaviors and help create custom-tailored heating and cooling strategies to make the most of an individual’s energy budget. These thermostats can track incoming weather patterns, humidity, and overall energy consumption in real time. They can also work with smartphone apps and GPS to calculate how long a system has to reach a given temperature before people arrive home, discouraging a “dumb” thermostat’s tendency to ramp up energy use to heat up the house as fast as possible once the clock says it’s time to kick on.
With the latest in smart thermostat software pumping heat from an ultra-energy-efficient HVAC system into a properly insulated home with energy-efficient windows, homeowners can save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and help build real value in their property. Combined, that should be more than enough to sustain a warm, fuzzy feeling all winter long.
Texas faces an unusual scenario when it seeks to advance property-assessed clean energy (PACE). The state has a tradition of seeking private-sector solutions and streamlining government activities. This means PACE methods adopted in other states – such as Connecticut – would not work in Texas.
Also, Texas’s private sector is massive. The state’s businesses – and their environmental footprint – are growing rapidly. In a Nov. 18 webinar called “PACE in Texas 101,” Charlene Heydinger, executive director of Keeping PACE in Texas, said Texas uses 19 percent of the industrial energy consumed in the United States.
“Texas leads the nation in energy consumption, accounting for 12 percent of the nation’s energy use,” Heydinger said. “Water is even more of a challenge.”
“All of this is being exacerbated by tremendous growth in Texas,” Heydinger said. “More than 1,000 people move to Texas every day.”
“PACE can help,” Heydinger said.
PACE, as Texas defines it, includes loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, distributed generation, and water conservation. It covers commercial, industrial and multifamily properties.
Loans for all of these projects are created via voluntary county or municipal property assessments. These loans are considered high-priority compared to other debts, are passed on to new property owners, and survive defaults and foreclosures.
These terms are very favorable for lenders, since they make repayment quite reliable.
As Texas faces water shortages and grid reliability issues, its need for both clean energy and water efficiency are growing rapidly. Heydinger presented a graph showing the large scope of the current drought. This drought impacts industrial enterprises and other businesses and affects many communities.
The convergence of all of these factors has created momentum in Texas’s private sector and government to develop PACE programs that cover both water and energy. More than 100 stakeholders have built a toolkit in a unique response to this challenge. It is aptly titled “PACE-in-a-Box.”
“What is really wonderful about PACE-in-a-Box is that it’s the first program in the United States that has been designed by the stakeholders who are going to use it,” Heydinger said. “We were highly motivated with several goals that reflect the Texas economy and Texas mindset.”
Many potential PACE projects have already been proposed in Austin, Amarillo, and other cities – even though the programs do not exist yet.
When Gov. Rick Perry signed PACE legislation in 2013, the proposal was relatively flexible. It left a great deal of room for local municipalities and counties to interpret how to implement PACE.
But stakeholders recognized that such a high degree of flexibility would doom PACE to failure in smaller and more rural communities. While larger cities such as Austin and Houston might have the resources to customize PACE, smaller communities do not.
The toolkit specifies that small communities can partner with one another regionally to work together to implement PACE. This may result in clusters of communities creating PACE programs collaboratively.
Building a Standardized Solution
Keeping PACE in Texas partnered with a large network of groups to develop a simplified, standardized solution that communities and regions throughout the state can use.
PACE-in-a-Box contains standard documents for all of the major transactions involved in local PACE programs – from public hearings to lender negotiations.
According to Rachel Stone, Policy Coordinator at South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), PACE-in-a-Box provides many resources for program developers. These include model contracts for providers and lenders, open market financing instructions, a model lender notice, a technical manual for ensuring the viability of energy improvements, a model application, and a series of tests of financial ability.
“We’ve tried to do as much as we can to make this easy for local governments to use,” Heydinger said.
PACE-in-a-Box encourages property owners to select their own contractors, lenders, and equipment manufacturers.
Stone said she believes this market demand will stimulate economic growth. “PACE helps in places where the economy has been depressed and people want to make capital improvements.”
The toolkit encourages third-party financing of loans, but municipal bond financing is also an option.
Loans may be serviced by the local PACE program itself, via a county tax assessor or collector, by the lenders, or by third-party servicers.
Stone said PACE-in-a-Box recommends a savings-to-investment ratio of greater than one for each project. It also recommends total investment of less than 20 percent of each property’s assessed value.
“We are only doing deals that make sense in the business community,” Heydinger said.
This article was originally published by Clean Energy Finance Forum, a news website sponsored by Yale University. To subscribe to our newsletter, please visit our website.
Throughout 2014, SunPower has invested in integrated technology solutions to help home and business owners manage their cost of energy. According to the company, these moves aim to reinforce SunPower’s evolution to offering Smart Energy solutions for its residential, commercial and utility customers. Recent key activities include:
- Yesterday, SunPower announced an exclusive agreement with Sunverge for residential and utility energy storage solutions in the United States and Australia. SunPower and Sunverge expect to make combined solar and storage solutions commercially available in early 2015.
- Earlier this week, SunPower announced a $20 million growth capital investment in Tendril to license the company’s Energy Services Management (ESM) Platform software. Enhanced by SunPower’s vast amount of solar related data, the ESM Platform will power the development of new Smart Energy applications for a broader set of consumers and utilities.
- Last month, the company announced its acquisition of SolarBridge, a leader in integrated microinverter technologies for the solar industry. SunPower will utilize this technology to develop next generation microinverters for use with its high efficiency solar panels.
While none of these investments are as big as Google’s acquisition of Nest earlier this year, this activity by SunPower does send a strong signal that being a vertically integrated solar manufacturer is no longer good enough on it’s own and that comprehensive energy solutions on the customer end will lead to greater success for selling solar energy in the future.
Those of you who always have to be on the cutting edge, and will spare no expense to be there, will twinkle with excitement when you hear about the latest in holiday lighting technology. With 16 million color options and a smart phone app, you will have hours of entertainment (and frustration)! RGB (Red, Green, and…
Winter is coming. And this is a problem as according to the latest official statistics, one French citizen out of five has trouble paying his / her heating bills or is feeling cold at home in winter. And as a French who wrote his Master’s thesis on that topic, this really bugs me.
A white paper published in the second Chirac presidency – 2003 – stated that there were at the time almost 20 million housings to weatherize and insulate in France.
Over ten years after, these figures are still almost the same as the goal of improving half a million housings per year wasn’t met either by President Jacques Chirac, his successor Nicolas Sarkozy and the incumbent. And this despite, the recent moderate efforts in this domain.
State and local ( from the Région or the Département ) aids have been cut because of the crisis and the resulting austerity. And when they haven’t been cut they are either difficult to obtain or too little to represent any convenience. The French Environment and Energy Management Agency, the ADEME, has seen its budget been cut in 2013 ( by half a billion euros, no less ) and in 2014.
But what really racks my nerves is that very little is done to insulate social housings, which represent four million accommodations and 14 million people out of 65 million.
In an old article I wrote as early as 2007 I noted that these housings are all too often badly insulated and that the tenants don’t have much money to pay gas and oil bills. However, I noted back then that insulating these buildings and changing the heating systems were a very sound investment.
In an example broadcasted by the French/German TV channel Arte the energy needs of two buildings in Germany were more than halved thanks to insulation. Energy conservation efforts were promoted, cutting energy needs by an additional 15 percent.
As a conclusion, the energy now needed there was nearly cut by a factor three. This made it possible to use a renewable energy source to heat the 64 flats. Wood pellets were chosen and a new highly efficient boiler was installed. The new system is so efficient that it can generate some electricity which can be used by the tenants or sold to the grid.
Imagine if all social housings in France, and let’s be ambitious in the European Union , were receiving the same treatment. Dozens of millions of people wouldn’t be cold at home during winter, thousands of jobs would be created for decades and our dependence on Russian natural gas would be cut for ever.
Environmental groups are accusing Walmart of falling short on a number of its well-publicized sustainability goals. The world’s largest retailer still relies heavily on carbon-intensive coal power in U.S. stores and facilities, despite a longstanding promise to invest in renewable energy, critics said in a report released Thursday. Only 3 percent of Walmart’s electricity use comes…
Take one outdated commercial building in Sunnyvale, California, one crack engineering and architecture team, some top Silicon Valley technologies, and one audacious design challenge. The result? 435 Indio. A building transformed from non descript 70s tilt up to sleek, modern, drool-worthy work space for any Bay Area startup.
Custom designed skylights bring in an abundance of natural light, complimented by Lunera LED lights and Enlighted lighting sensors. View glass automatically adjusts to heat and glare. Indoor air quality is optimized though operable windows and Big Ass fans.
John Picard, President & CEO, John Picard and Associates: “What’s amazing is the technologies all came from this area, are the drivers for the design, and the engineering drivers that are bringing the potential for the productivity.”
Interface carpets made from reclaimed fishing nets, zero waste bathrooms from Dyson, a fabric ceiling for acoustics and polished concrete floors for natural insulation. Last but not least, the net zero energy building is 100% powered by solar.
Gary Dillabough, Managing Partner at the Westly Group: “We designed this to have an exceptional tenant who can do something extraordinary in the world and this becomes the place they do that in.”
Visit 435indio.com for more information.
BOSTON, Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Essess, Inc. ( www.essess.com) has developed the leading mobile thermal imaging technology and data analytics pipeline to identify and quantify energy losses across millions of buildings. This financing, which brings the total amount raised by the company since its founding in 2011 to $10.75 million, was led by existing investors…
BERKELEY, Calif. — Imagine an electric car with the range of a Tesla Model S — 265 miles— but at one-fifth the $70,000 price of the luxury sedan. Or a battery able to provide many times more energy than today’s technology at significantly lower prices, meaning longer-lasting and less expensive power for cellphones, laptops and the…