Friday, September 28, 2007

Precedent Board

Precedent: Genyzme Building

The Genzyme Building set a standard for environmentally responsible architecture by creating a building that is communal and environmentally favorable. The central atrium, efficient air circulation, remarkable use of natural light, and glass exterior are significant elements of the building.

As a successful project both in its ecological and economic benefits, it serves as a physical example of how business can benefit from addressing environmental concerns. Furthermore, it elegantly blends multiple elements to create an effective system.

Precedent: Montana's Syn Fuel Initiative

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is proposing that the United States lessen its dependence on foreign oil by powering its cars with a coal-based synthetic fuel, or SynFuel. This fuel would be produced using the massive coal deposits underneath the eastern half of Montana, which compose roughly a third of the coal reserves in the entire country. SynFuel runs far cleaner than normal gas and diesel, and also leads to improved engine performance.

Precedent: Tourism

-In 2005 there was a worldwide increase in tourism of 5.5%, following a 10% growth in 2004. With the following increases : Africa, 8.5%, Asia and the Pacific 4.3%, the America’s 3.8%,Europe 2.4% ,and Middle East 1.5%.

-International tourism generated $2 billion a day in 2005, totaling at $680 billion for the whole year. At least 70 countries earned more than $1 billion from international tourism.

-With the increase of tourism, the three main consequences (I have researched) include depletion of natural resources, physical impacts on the destination, and the additional pollution.

-CATCH 22- Tourism not only contributes to climate change, but is affected by it as well. Climate change is likely to increase the severity and frequency of storms and severe weather events, which can have disastrous effects on tourism in the affected regions. Some of the other impacts that the world risks as a result of global warming are drought, diseases and heat waves.


Improved environmental management and planning- By planning early for tourism development, damaging and expensive mistakes can be prevented, avoiding the gradual deterioration of environmental assets significant to tourism.

- Raising environmental awareness.

-Protection and preservation

-Regulatory measures

-Volunteering abroad

Precedent: Emissions to Biofuels Technology

Greenfuels Emissions to Biofuels technology uses algae to recycle carbon dioxide from the stack gases of power plants and other commerical sources of continuous CO2 emissions. Specifically designed pipes capture and transport CO2 emissions coming out of the stack. The gas is then transferred to specialized containers holding algae.

we care because the algae absorbs 80% of CO2 emissions and then can be converted into biodiesel or ethanol- creating two amounts of energy with one pollution.

pics coming soon!

Precedent: Green Roofs

Green roofs are roofs of a building or house that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a water proofing membrane. They are a really affective way of cooling down a a city. It also beneficial because is serves as a insulating membrane to a building or home from the sun's rays and water damage. There are two types of green roofs, and intensive roof, which is much deeper and recuires more maintance, and a extensive roof, which is only 2-4 inches deep and is more self-sufficient.

Green roofs should definitely be supported, maybe they could even be tax deductible, similarly to hybrid cars are now on the market. As far as the wedge, this could forfill the reforestation technology, which would be created by establishing around 300 million hectares of plantations on non forested land.

Precedent: Car Sharing

Car sharing is a system with a fleet of cars is jointly-owned by users but different than car rental or privately owned cars. A democratically-controlled company, the Carshare Operator or CSO, organizes costs and troubles of vehicle purchase, ownership and maintenance. Participants or users of this system are typically in urban areas where main transportation needs are met by public transportation, walking or cycling. The car sharing system is part of the New Mobility Agenda which challenges old ideas of practices in the field of urban transport and make fuller uses of mobile transport.

How it works: Most companies charge a monthly fee plus additional fees per hour te case is in use and per mile used. A vehicle is reserved in advance through the internet or telephone. Members are responsible for returning the vehicles on time to the agreed parking area in good condition for the next user.

Goals: To help ease congestion of busy city streets and parking lots. Car sharing also reduces dependence on cars and increases usage of more environmentally friendly forms of transportation.

Advantages: Car sharing members have access to a variety of different cars to fit their specific needs without having to deal with maintenance and car repair.

Disadvantages: Must have adequate density of users so vehicles can be well used. Must be placed in an urban area where users can easily access pick up locations. Best if supported by public transportation.

Facts:Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 30 percent of households that join City CarShare sell a car. Even more household members delay purchasing a car. Transit use, bicycling, and walking also increase among members.<

It's pretty much the greenest way you can drive. A UC Berkeley study conducted in 2003 showed that each person who joins City CarShare saves nearly 100 gallons of gasoline each year, on average. When you add it all up, our members have saved over 1,000,000 gallons of gas.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Precedent: Peak Oil

1. Peak oil might make it necessary for society to adapt to a world with no cars.
2. We care because a change like no fossil fuel vehicles would mean that our who societal infrastructure would have to change accordingly.

Precedent: BIG

Research project for Danish Architecture Center

BIG believes that todays environmental issues are not political, economic or even ecological - it is a design challenge! They have designed HySociety, an urban super block that contains a cross section of Denmark boiled down to a living and working setting for 1500 people in which all currently available environmental technologies are being used in the most economically profitable way.
By following the natural propensity of each program BIG has organized the entire 100 000 square meter block so that each program claims its optimum position in the whole. The optimum location has been determined by solar orientation, urban adjacencies, proximity to symbiotic neighbours and requirements for access, views, scale, sunlight etc.

Big has traced the circulation of electricity, heat, water, oxygen and hydrogen on their way through different programs. All outputs are automaticly redirected to where they are wanted. All excess recources are taken to the hydrogen plant, where H20 is split into H2 and O2. The resultant heat is used for hot water and the hydrogen for fueling cars.

Precedent: Michael Singer

Michael Singer is an artist who has completed numerous large scale public works projects with interdisciplinary teams of professionals. He has put together teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers, planners, and scientists to re-think assumptions about power plants, waste treatment facilities, and other places that can be negatives in a community. With a non-formulaic approach, the teams have designed power plants and waste treatment facilities into accessible, educational places that become an amenity to the surrounding community. Singer places importance on forming an "urban regenerative network" and the "ecology of place"- an eco-sustainability network that makes up everything we do. Major projects include the CELE Master Plan in Phoenix, the Alterra Institute in the Netherlands, the Grand Rapids Floodwall in Grand Rapids, MI, and the AES Cogeneration Facility in New Hampshire.

Design Precedents

So who is designing the future? The examination of specific projects shows that change is achievable, and inspires us to consider more comprehensive solutions.

We designed our way into this mess, we will have to design our way out of it.”

John Thackara

In the News: Vaclav Havel's Approach

"I’m skeptical that a problem as complex as climate change can be solved by any single branch of science. Technological measures and regulations are important, but equally important is support for education, ecological training and ethics — a consciousness of the commonality of all living beings and an emphasis on shared responsibility."

Our Moral Footprint
VACLAV HAVEL, New York Times, September 27, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alternatives Board

Alternative: Malaria

Malaria is currently one of the world's largest public health problems, especially in poor undeveloped areas. With global temperatures increasing and local climates changing because of carbon emissions, it is likely that there will be more breeding grounds for mosquitos, resulting in more malaria cases.

Malaria can be deadly, but the sickness and malaise caused by the disease create unmeasurable losses to local economies due to missed work days and loss of investment in a region. Most people who actually die of malaria are children or people with weakened immune systems. Malaria is curable, but only if treated promptly and requires access to drugs and health care. Prevention methods remain the best way to avoid malaria. Preventative drugs are expensive and mosquito habitat destruction and insecticide spraying require organized, time-consuming efforts.

One of the cheapest, most effective ways of preventing malaria in poor regions with weak infrastructure is the distribution of insecticide-dipped mosquito nets. Education and efforts to make treatment drugs more available and affordable can also help.

While a vaccine has not yet been discovered, options are being tested and researched. Some organizations participating in global malaria control (Roll Back Malaria, Malaria Foundation International) have suggested that putting more funds towards malaria efforts and less towards AIDS could save more lives with less money.

Alternative: Educate Consumers

Educating consumers is a highly effective way to raise awareness of important and pressing issues of the world. Some of these issues include AIDS/HIV, malaria, poverty, global warming, breast cancer, and smoking. An awareness campaign is an example of a strategy used in consumer education. Some known campaigns include: An inconvenient truth, a movie with Al Gore as an advocate, for making poverty history, and to stop smoking.

Some tactics used in these campaigns include: confrontation, media exposure, company sponsor, product advertisement, and celebrity endorsement. The use of multiple tactics usually results in a more successful campaign.

Alternative: Change Purchasing Patterns

Recycle materials you use and buy recycled products!
Recycling saves resources, decreases the use of toxic chemicals, cuts energy use, helps curb global warming, stems the flow of water and air pollution, and reduces the need for landfills and incinerators.

Case study: As USA’s number-one specialty coffee retailer, Starbucks goes through a lot of cups, 1.9 billion of them. Environmental Defense calculates that Starbucks’ move to use new hot cups with 10 percent postconsumer recycled paper will achieve the following annual environmental improvements:
Resource savings // Equivalency
11300 fewer tons of wood consumed // about 78000 trees
58 billion BTUs of energy saved // enough to supply 640 homes for a year
47 million gallons of wastewater avoided // enough to fill 71 Olympic-sized swimming pools
3 million pounds of solid waste prevented // equivalent to 109 fully-loaded garbage trucks

Use durable goods!
Bring your own cloth bags to local stores. Replace plastic and paper cups with ceramic mugs, disposable razors with reusable ones. Refuse unneeded plastic utensils, napkins, and straws when you buy takeout foods. Use a cloth dishrag instead of paper towels at home, and reusable food containers instead of aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Buy energy-efficient products!
When buying new appliances and electronics, look for the highest energy-efficiency rating. The most energy-efficient models carry the Energy Star label, which identifies products that use 20-40 percent less energy than standard new products.

Case study: According to the EPA, the typical American household can save about $400 per year in energy bills with products that carry the Energy Star. Refrigerator typically accounts for 20 percent of the electric bill. On the average, new refrigerators and freezers are about 75 percent more efficient than those made 30 years ago, so investing in a modern refrigerator can cut hundreds of dollars from your electric bill during its lifetime.

Switch to compact flourescent bulbs!
Each compact fluorescent bulb will keep half a ton of carbon dioxide out of the air over its lifetime. Though compact fluorescents are initially a lot more expensive than the traditional bulbs, they last ten times as long and can save $30 per year in electricity costs.

p.s. My sheet contains quite a lot of text, so here I did some editing, if you need the whole text, I can e-mail it to one of you.

Alternative: Curitiba's Bus Rapid System

Curitiba is a role model for it's Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) system. Curitiba has a population of 2.2 million people, and 70% of the commuters use the BRT system. It is one of the most heavily used, yet low cost, transit system in the world.

Based on 1991 survey the system effectively caused a reduction of 27 million auto trips per year, saving about 27 million liters of fuel annually. (28% of BRT users traveled by car) Curitiba uses about 30% less fuel per capita, making it one of the lowest rates of ambient air pollution in Brazil. Today 11,00 busses makes 12, 000 trips everyday, serving more than 1.3 million passengers, 50 times the number from the 70’s. User friendly- Citizens only spend 10% of their income on travel, which is much below the national average.

Alternative: Adapt to Sea Level Rise

Present - 22 South Pacific island nations and territories, home to about 7 million people, are in danger of being swallowed by rising sea levels. Many Pacific Islanders do not consider the threat of rising seas to be merely scientific theory: many thousands of islanders are currently witnessing their small islands slowly disappearing.

Present Course - While conservative estimates maintain that sea levels in New York City could rise 18cm by mid-century, other estimates maintain that levels could increase by as much as 60cm. With a rise in sea levels, some parts of the city will become permanently submerged, and the city as a whole will become far more prone to flooding.

Potential Course - The Netherlands has a complex system of dams which keeps out the rising seas. Though 24 percent of the country is below sea level, the threat of flooding has been mitigated.

Alternative: Flood Control

Pictures for alternatives group (Nat Strosberg)

In the News: What will happen in 2100....

Alternatives to the Wedge Strategy

In 2004 the Copenhagen Convention (founded by Bjorn Lomborg), identified what they described as the most productive areas for global investment that would result in the long-term improvement of human life. Carbon mitigation policies, like the Kyoto protocol ranked very low. If we take Lombord’s point in Cool It, the Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming “we need to remind ourselves that our ultimate goal is not to reduce greenhouse gases or global warming per se but to improve the quality of life and the environment (p. 9).” From this point of view global diseases, sanitation, free trade and clean government might prove to be more meaningful investments.

At the same time, many scientists believe that even if we are able to hold carbon emissions at present levels we will still have to deal with significant climate change. As a studio we should consider 1. other methods to reduce carbon, 2. adaptation to climate change, and 3. better places to to onvest our limited resources.

In the News: The WalMart Environmental Moment

The “Wal-Mart environmental moment” starts with the C.E.O. adopting a green branding strategy as a purely defensive, public relations, marketing move. Then an accident happens — someone in the shipping department takes it seriously and comes up with a new way to package the latest product and saves $100,000. This gets the attention of the C.E.O., who turns to his P.R. adviser and says, “Well, isn’t that interesting? Get me a sustainability expert. Let’s do this some more.”

Lead Follow or Move Aside Thomas Friedman, NYTimes

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wedge Strategy Boards

Wedge Strategy: BIOfuel

a fuel produced by mixing vegetable oils, fats or greases with an alcohol (usually methanol but sometimes ethanol) and a catalyst.

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel than diesel, with lower emissions, notably the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Most commercial biodiesel is made from soybean oil, and some is already mixed in with diesel to reduce emissions.

an alcohol fuel made from distilling sugars in crops

a gasoline blend with 10 percent ethanol -- E10 -- is widely used to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. Minnesota now requires that all gasoline contain at least 20 percent ethanol.

a blend that contains 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol. Most gas stations that sell E85 are in the Midwest, where the corn is grown.


Sugar cane:
Brazil is the leader in production.

largest crop in US recieves goverment incentives.

The darkest tones are crop land and the middle tones are pastureland.

Just one wedge worth of carbon-neutral biofuels would require 1/6th of the worlds cropland. If all the corn production went towards biofules it would account for only 10% of transportation needs. It is feasible for this to help mitigate the carbon problem, but it needs to work in conjunction with all other processes. The answer is in ethanol made from switchgrass. Corn is not the answer and sugar cane is great except where it can grow is limited. Switchgrass is a weed and can grow anywhere; crop or pasture land.

Wedge Strategy: Increasing Vehicle Efficiencies

The easiest way to reduce fuel consumption is to make the cars lighter. The amount of energy needed to move material is directly related with the total weight of it. By reducing size and weight of cars we can optimize and make use of the infrastructure we already have.

With all the modern products people pay for less weight, laptops, mobile phones, mp3-players etc. are getting smaller and lighter all the time. From this point of view it is very unusual that when it comes to cars people pay for heavier structures. The reason for this is that in transportation people think it is safer to have a big car. A heavy car may be safe to its passengers but to everything outside the moving ton of steel is a leathal projectile that in order to feel safe one needs even heavier vehicle. And also does a car need a rear seat bench when it carries an average of just 1,2 occupants in urban traffic?

In order to meet the goal of cutting carbon emissions we need to make cars lighter and smart as well. Smart so, that if the driver is not driving properly the car could take over the control. These automatic security features would enable us to reduce a lot of weight because we wouldn’t need the safety measures anymore.


In the process of rethinking cars substitutive materials play an essential role. For example duraluminum, fiberglass, carbon fiber or carbon nanotubes are materials to replace steel. Nanotechnology enchanged cars will be stronger than steel ones. This helps to reduce the crucial weight of cars and in the same time it helps to protect the passengers better. Frozen textile structures used in aerospace engineering offer pre-thought answers that just need to be adapted to automobile manufacturing.

When thinking about transportation of goods trucks should be versatile. Many modern trailers are fit to carry different kinds of loads but cooling trailer can’t transport unbotteled milk or gasoline. Specialization can be very limiting. This is were flexible containers come in handy. If fluids and gasses were stored in “bags” they could be transported with the same trailer that could hold anything. Also when considering the ecological point of view it is profitable to reduce the empty truck weight and by doing so increase the potential payload aswell. The only way to drasticly reduce truck weight is to apply composite technology. The faculty of Aerospace Engineering of the Delf University of Technology has developed “Cold Feather”, a prototype of a refrigerated trailer that is 3000 kilograms lighter than traditional cooling trailer.

There are some other examples as well. A Dutch company Prins Dokkum is developing fibre reinforced polymer trailer wheels that are about 45% lighter than aluminium ones and 64% lighter than steel wheels. There’s also been made a composite city bus that weights 999 kg.

Another existing technology is the hybrid car. It is a vehicle which combines a conventional propulsion system with an on-board rechargable energy storage systems. Reduced wear on the gasoline engine means reduced emissions. In addition the use of hybrid cars reduce noise emissions from substantial use of electric motor at low speeds. The city of New York started converting its taxi fleet to hybrids in 2005. In July 2007 375 hybrids were in use. The mayor plans to convert 20% of the remaining 13000 taxis each year.


Wedge Strategy: Conservation Tillage

Conservation tillage is a farming method where the soil is left intact and 30% crop residue is left on the field.

Wedge Strategy: Building Efficiency - Methods+Factors

Passive solar heating is the process in which the sun’s rays are absorbed (or reflected) to equalize the temperature of the target building to a greater comfortable equilibrium.
  • In Direct Solar Gain, this is done through strategic placement of windows, skylights, and other light-allowing apertures.
  • In Indirect Solar Gain, heat is captured by a thermal mass and then transmitted indirectly throughout the building via conduction and convection.
  • Isolated Solar Gain is a system in which a liquid or air is used to transfer heat in and out of the building.
  • In Active Solar Systems, panels attached to a building either gather heat (via fluids running through the panels) or generate electricity (via photo-voltaic cells).
  • Passive Solar capabilities allow buildings to improve thermal efficiency, and thus they require fewer resources to heat and cool. Active solar systems allow buildings to supplement their supply of electricity, and thus cause less strain on the grid during peak hours.
Heat Exchanger
A heat exchanger recovers heat by transferring heat from outgoing air into incoming air. Hot water heat transfer does the same thing for outgoing water (standard units recovering 60% of heat energy during a hot shower).

The insulation (of both walls and glazing) and thermal mass of a building play a crucial role in mitigating energy spent on heating and air conditioning.

Building Automation
Building automation provides a system, often times computer controlled, to regulate the use of energies based on need, and to harness available interior and exterior conditions to the maximum efficiency. Examples include louvers that regulate sunlight coming in, lights that turn off when their room is unoccupied, an air movement system that sucks in cold air during the night to keep the building cooler during the day, etc.

Building Placement
One of the most central factors to the energy efficiency of a building is the location that it is built in, specifically the density. Urban structures are far more efficient than suburban or rural structures. This is due to the economies of scale, as well as more people relying on the same amount of infrastructure, and also the vastly decreased volume to surface area ratio of larger urban structures. The per capita electricity usage in Dallas is four times as great as the same in New York City. Additionally, that does not account for the transportation efficiencies that urban living holds over suburban and rural transportation models.

The effects of these systems vary drastically project to project. In some cases, buildings with energy saving features are more efficient by factors of ten. Sometimes these “green” buildings are not able to compensate for the luxuries taken with their construction (high area per occupant, vast interior lobbies, etc.). System effectivity varies by climate, funtion, natural resources in the area, maintenance, and many other factors. Generally, most commercially designed green buildings see efficiencies cutting down 20% to 60%, with the middle ground being 40%.

Buildings use 75% of the energy created in the United States. The country places 6,049,435,000 tons of Carbon into the atmosphere every year. Attributing 4.5 billion tons to buildings would mean that in order to reduce emissions by one of our 1 billion ton wedges, a full half of the buildings in the United States, including all new construction, would have to be retrofitted with energy saving features (having more of these features be placed in suburban and rural buildings would be even more effective, since buildings in these areas already use more energy). Making this a requirement for renovated buildings would mean that this goal could feasibly be achieved in 25 -35 years, provided there are proper government incentives and codes.

Increase Electricity Efficiency

Did you know?

Producing twice of today's electricity at double of today's efficiency would save a wedge worth of emissions.

Wedge Strategy: Increasing Solar Power for Electricity

Solar power is a renewable and environmentally clean source of energy.
It is abundant and somewhat predictable.
Technologies for solar power are easy to install and use.
Solar energy could be a good solution for many developing countries with lots of sun.
-Passive solar energy (through use of strategies including insulation, window design, and landscape elements) can be used to conserve energy or increase energy efficiency.
-Active solar energy uses PV panels or thermal heat to harness energy for storage or converting it to other applications, like electricity.
-PV cells are modular peices that make up a panel. The panel consists of two layers of a superconducting material (usually silicon) under a layer of glass. The energy from photons collected from the sun makes electrons from the top (positive) layer move to the lower (negative) layer, allowing the electrical current to be collected in the panel.
-Thin film technology now makes building facades and other surfaces into solar collectors, taking up less space than in the past.
-Solar energy is an intermittent energy source- the energy must be stored if there is no sunlight. It is also expensive, but prices are dropping. It could be used successfully along with wind energy, with solar energy being used in the sunniest times of year and wind energy being optimized in the winter and months with less sun.
-A wedge worth of PV cells would require arrays with the combined area size of New Jersey.

Wedge Strategy: Switching from Coal to Small Scale Heat

Wedge information I could find in relation to heat is as follows: 1 wedge could be achieved by using the best technology available in all new and existing buildings. (US "Energy Star program" have achieved 1/40th of a wedge in 2003. If there was an increase of 25% efficiency in all new and existing residential and commercial buildings, it would achieve a wedge worth of emissions reduction.

Some methods used include polygeneration which uses simultaneously generate electricity and heat, increasing efficiency. Other much smaller methods of trying to limit carbon emissions as applied to developing worlds include substituting coal for sugar cane or corn. Using this technology and applying it to the US, if all the land in the US was converted to farming corn that amount of corn could only provide 185 households with heat for one year. In examining the possibility, the magnitude of converting all new and existing buildings to new technologies, especially in the developing world is not feasible.

Wedge Strategy: Transportation

Of overall CO2 emissions in fiscal 1995, those attributable to transportation accounted for 20%, and increase of 16% from the 1990 level. In order to prevent carbon emissions from increasing number of cars, technologies for fewer transportation promotes low carbon fuels, which can deliver CO2 savings.

Carbon emissions from road trasport grew by some 10% between 1990 and 2000, and they were expected to grow by a further 9% or between 2000 and 2010.

With average new vehicle emissions of 140g CO2/km by 2008, a combination of new technology, improvements to current technology and changes in purchasing behaviour toward more efficient vehicles should yield a 60% reduction in emissions by 2050.

The improvements to public transport could lead to a 8% reduction in vehicle kilometres driven in 2050. Rail provides 7% and bus 1%.

It is feasible because increasing the efficiency of logistics is one of they keys to preventing global warming. Some technologies are shifting from road transport to railway and marine transport such as AirTrain JFK, which solves this problem by enabling thousands of travelers and airport employees to travel to, from, and within the airport conveniently every day.

Also please post any images that you feel are necessary to the understanding of any of the previous 3 points.

Wedge Strategy: Wind Power

What is Needed?
To reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year using wind power, 2 million more turbines will need to be installed on an area roughly the size of Germany.

2 million additional turbines
6 turbines per km
333,333.33 km
1/1500 of the earths surface or,
roughly the size of Germany

What it looks like?
3 or more km inland from the shore.

Usually placed on hillsides or ridges to exploit topographic acceleration. As wind approaches, the hill or ridge causes the wind to accelerate as it is forced over it, resulting in vast gains in the amount of energy able to be produced.

Farmers can lease their land to companies for the building of wind farms for $2,000-$5,000 annually. Less than 1% of the land is used for foundations and access, therefore it can still be used for farming and grazing.

These areas are also protected from further development.

3 km off shore on land, 10 km off shore on water.

Tend to be good site for turbines seeing that a source for wind is convection, which is caused by the difference in temperatures and rates of heating and cooling of land and water.

As with onshore facilities these areas can as well be used for farming and are protected from development.

10 or more km off shore.

Water has less surface roughness than land, resulting in greater windspeeds. Because of these greater speeds the capacity is higher allowing for the use of shorter towers, reducing their obtrusion in picturesque landscapes.

Although the towers can be shorter visually, many times because of the depth of the water they need to be taller overall raising costs. Also raising costs are a more difficult instalation and maintence process as well as corrosion caused by salt water.

The effect of offshore wind farms on aquatic life is currently unknown positivly. Noise pollution due to the turbines has the potential to impact creatures such as whales who use similar frequencys to those being emitted by the turbines in deeper locations.

I think that wind power is a good candidate for producing a wedge. Looking at the scale as 1/1500 the surface of the earth as opposed to the size of Germany makes it a more feasable number. For instance there is enough wind power off of the atlantic coast of the United States to power 75% of eastern seaboard needs. On top of wind farms placed in open waters out of the way of shipping routes farm land does not have to be sacrificed in order to install turbines on land.

Wedge Strategy: Increase Electricity Efficiencies

Vehicular Problem
Cars in the United States attribute to 90% of carbon monoxide in the air as well as hydro carbons and nitrogen oxides let alone the mass amounts of carbon dioxide emitted. These contaminants are caused by the fuel’s combustion. Even the fuel evaporation when the car or other vehicle is simply sitting in the sun contributes to carbon emissions. Millions of tons of pollutants are emitted a year by our dependence of personal transportation.
American use 753 million gallons of gas a year. On average, a single person waists $1,194 dollars a year on fuel and time in stop and go traffic. Busses and Trains are NOT the answer.

What can we do?
Less mileage, drive at an average speed of 35-45 miles an hour, do not top-off at the gas station, use clean fuels, car-pool, or simply stop driving.
Although electric vehicles have few direct emissions, all rely on energy created through electricity generation which will emit pollution unless it is from a renewable source. If a large proportion of private vehicles were to convert to plug-in electricity, there would be a significant need for generation and transmission capacity, even if most charging occurred overnight drawing power from the most efficient off-peak base load. Electromagnetic radiation, from high performance electrical motors has been claimed to be associated with some human ailments

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and LEDs
If each customer of the Wal-Mart stores (176 million people) each bought one CF bulb, that uses 75% less electricity, a weak they would save roughly three billion dollars on electrical bills, would cut fifty billion tons of cal use, and keep incandescent bulbs out of our landfills over the life of the one CF. If each customer bought one CF every weak, at the end of the year they would have collectively cut the use of coal by 2.4 trillion tons.

What is Inside an LED?
LED's are special diodes that emit light when connected in a circuit. They are frequently used as "pilot" lights in electronic appliances to indicate whether the circuit is closed or not. A clear (or often colored) epoxy case enclosed the heart of an LED, the semi-conductor chip.

Nuclear and Hydro Power
Electric power companies, which emit about one-third of America’s global warming gases, could reduce their emissions to below the levels of 1990, but that would take about 20 years, no matter how much the utilities spend, according to a new industry study. No, if money was no object then the entire fleet of coal and natural gas burning electric generation plants could be replaced by nuclear power plants. The industry study calls for 64 gigawatts of additional nuclear power by 2030, an increase of about two-thirds from the current level. In the United States we could switch to nuclear where we now use coal and natural gas. In 2005 nuclear power accounted for 19.3% of total electric power generated. The United States had 104 nuclear reactors operating in 2005 with a total capacity of 97 gigawatts (almost 1 gigawatt per plant). So as a rough first approximation if we built 400 nuclear power plants or 4 times as much as we already have we could shut down all the fossil-fuels burning plants. Also, hydro could be used for part of the peak demand capacity. The average nuclear power plant now operating is smaller than the average that would get built in a new nuclear power plant building program. But if we had to build 8 times as much nuclear power (about 800 gigawatts) as we now have and they cost $1.5 billion per 1 gigawatt of capacity then we are looking at $1.2 trillion dollars to build a fully nuclear electric power plant fleet. That's less than 10% of the US economy's product for one year.

This would only be eliminating a third of the problem. Also, a massive nuclear power plant building program would drive down the cost of nukes.

Hydroelectricity eliminates the flue gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, including pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, dust, and mercury in the coal. Compared to the nuclear power plant, hydroelectricity generates no nuclear waste, nor nuclear leaks. Unlike uranium, hydroelectricity is also a renewable energy source. Compared to wind farms, hydroelectricity power plants have a more predictable load factor. If the project has a storage reservoir, it can be dispatched to generate power when needed. Hydroelectric plants can be easily regulated to follow variations in power demand.

Wedge Strategy: Nuclear

1. Nuclear power plants are unique and rather iconic looking with a grouping of usually two or more large cooling towers to disperse the heat from the coolant around the nuclear reactor.
2.We would need to multiply the amount of nuclear energy produced by three. We would have to increase our number of plants from 440 to 1320.
3. Nuclear power, though the energy is one of the cleanest burning and most efficient, is very expensive. On the scale needed to effect one wedge, the building of new plants is simply not feasable. More nuclear power plants are definitely better than coal, so perhaps if this technology was used with others, some sort of change might be possible. The bad part of plants is also the waste produced, which I believe that personally, in this instance, the good would outweigh the bad if we actually had the money to increase our nuclear power.
4. If you guys want any of the images from my poster, let me know and I'll be sure to post them tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wedge Strategy: Reduced Deforestation or Reforestation

In order to make one wedge by 2054, relative to 14 GTC/year…

We would have to decrease the tropical deforestation to zero instead of a half GTC/year, and establish 300 MHA of new tree plantations, which is twice the current rate.

One wedge could be available via the reduction of deforestation and management.

At least half a wedge could be created if clear-cutting of primary tropical forests was reduced to zero over 50 years.

A second half could be created by reforesting 250 million hectares in the tropics or 400 million hectares in temperate zones. In perspective, what is left now are 1500 million hectares of tropical forests and 700 million of temperate forests. 250 hectares is about the size of the Mediterranean Sea.

A third half wedge could be created by establishing around 300 million hectares of plantations on non-forested land.

After looking at these statistics, it seems like this technology is definitely feasible, especially if it were conducted in conjunction with other technologies. However, I do feel that reducing clear-cutting to zero over 50 years is highly unlikely. Wood is definitely a necessity in our culture; its even a basic need for construction a house or heating. In my opinion, reforesting 250 million hectares is feasible, however what worries me is that regenerating a tropical forest would be more difficult then a temperate forest, due to its complex and rich ecosystem.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Wedge Strategy: Coal and Natural Gas

1400 coal plants would need to be replaced by natural gas plants to save a wedge worth of emissions. In the US alone, there are approximately 600 plants. Another wedge could also be saved if all small-scale coal use, for example in developing worlds or industrial purposes, was eliminated.

Coal Plant and Technology

Natural Gas Plant and Technology

Coal is everywhere, cheap and easy. Though frowned upon due to its ability to pollute the air, land, and water throughout the entire process, from mining to solid waste disposal, it is not completely horrible. Coal gasification is an example of the advances in coal efficiency and cleanliness, not only is it used worldwide, but is also being further developed.

Natural gas is much cleaner in comparison, and expanding its use is feasible for it is already the third largest supplier of electricity. And when it comes to heating, industry is its largest consumer, and residency is the second with 6/10 homes using natural gas. However, it is more expensive than coal and not as plentiful, both in terms of supply and local resource.

Energy needs to be regarded from a local and global perspective. Due to supply and international relationships, certain areas would benefit from certain types of electricity. Natural gas is not available in all areas; coal is on every continent. However, technologies for transporting natural gas are available, where pipelines are usually used or it can be liquefied.

When speaking of global perspective, it is important to note that with developing economies, the demand for energy is increasing. Furthermore, policies are being considered by Congress for taxing carbon emissions, where 1/3 of perspective coal plants in the US are being put on hold for this reason in addition to the increase in costs for building the plants.

Yes, there are other types of energy sources than the discussion’s concentration on natural gas and coal, and some even being developed in conjunction with the latter sources (see first link). However, these two were paired up due to their similarities as nonrenewable fossil fuels and characteristic as generalists when it comes to electricity and heating.

Thus, energy and its use is a notable concern in many areas, from government, to industry, to the consumer. Considering recent events, it is a good time to suggest a solution, or a different solution. However, displacing 1400 coal plants is pretty ridiculous in practice. Tearing down what is already available is a one step back, while pushing forward, especially with developing economies, is three steps forward at a more enthusiastic pace. The combination of cleaner coal technologies, improvements of current plants, advancements in natural gas, and practice of efficient and clean energy production in developing countries could reach the wedge as well as influence future advancements. /thanks

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Carbon Mitigation Initiative's Wedge Strategy

Working at the Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Robert Socolow and his colleagues have identified 14 strategies that could each reduce carbon emissions by one billion tons per year by 2055. These 14 strategies represent a portfolio of existing technologies. Based on carbon emissions in 2005, the Carbon Mitigation Initiative believed only 7 stabilization wedges (for a 7 billion ton reduction) would be needed to stabilize carbon emissions at current levels.

Following Socolow’s model, wel assume that these strategies cannot be realistically applied across a single sector. Instead we will draw across the electricity, heating and transportation sectors. For the purposes of our research we must understand each of the wedge approaches.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

“The best way to predict the future is to design it."

-- Buckminster Fuller


Controlling Carbon is the blog for the 2007 Innovation Studio at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Global warming is one of the most pressing issues of our time. There is deep consensus around the causes and implications of climate change. And in recent years significant work has been done to identify technical solutions to mitigate carbon emissions. But to date, design examination of these measures has been sorely lacking.

This year the Innovation Studio will focus on carbon mitigation at the scale necessary to stabilize worldwide emissions at 2005 levels. In so doing, the studio aspires to help shift the attention of the design disciplines to the immediate challenges that we face and communicate to a larger public the kinds of investment that need to be made now.

Since 1999 the Innovation Studio at RISD has been tackling the “big stuff” – the difficult environmental and infrastructure problems of our day. The studio uses interdisciplinary collaboration to rethink our fundamental assumptions about energy production, manufacturing, waste management and water to develop new models of ecologically sound infrastructures. Over the last eight years the studio’s subject matter has garnered wide ranging support including studio sponsorships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (a National Science Foundation Initiative), the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council and many RISD departments. In addition the Studio relies on the active participation of policy makers, planners, community activists and businesspeople.