Posts tagged ‘energy’

Ontario Energy Audit

If you or anyone you know lives in an old house, check out the ecoENERGY retrofit program. They just increased their grants by 25% (and if you’re in Ontario, the provincial government will double your grant payments), so even if you’re renting, i’m sure your landlord will be interested.  The grants totally covered the cost to insulate our walls and attic, and helped us replace our obsolete furnace with a high-efficiency one, so we’ll be laughing when we get our gas bill this winter. Plus, they’re letting us apply for an extension (but still sending the cheque for the work completed did so far), so hopefully we’ll be able to do more.

July 31, 2009 at 10:26 pm Leave a comment

complete energy system by a 15 yr old boy

“An invention that is narrowly focused on solving a single problem often inadvertently creates more problems because nature is highly complex and interconnected.” – Javier Fernandez-Han

Who is Javier Fernandez-Han? He’s a 15 year old boy, who invented an energy system, centred around salt-water algae. The system is made up of six subsystems, which “can treat waste, produce methane and bio-fuel, and is a source of livestock and human food production… produces oxygen and sequesters greenhouse gasses”. He calls it the VERSATILE system.

The system uses waste from one part of the system, to fuel others. Not unlike feeding rabbit poo to a garden that will feed rabbits (I wish mine did). My understanding of permaculture is still very shallow, but this seems to sum up the principles pretty well: work with the interconnectedness of ecosystems to make things easier, rather than trying to beat nature into submission to accomplish a single thing. The more I pay attention to the world around me, the more I realize how much more sense it makes.

The benefits of the VERSATILE energy system include better health for villagers due to cleaner burning methane stoves, less deforestation due to wood scavenging for fuel, possible income from the sale of algae biomass for pharmaceutical or nutraceutical products, easier livestock production because of more availability of feed, LED lighting powered by electricity generation from the PlayPump, and a source of fuel for machinery (from algae oil).

Do yourself a favour and read more about VERSATILE on Clean Technica. It’s fascinating.

Javier’s idea won the “Invent Your World Challenge” sponsored by Ashoka’s Youth Venture program. The program empowers youth (“a global community of young changemakers”) to create positive social change, which seems like a pretty freaking good idea to me.

From their website: “everyone in society could take initiative and address social needs, rather than looking to the elite few who lead today.”

June 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

12-Year-Old Activist

When 12 year old Dustin was looking for a community service project, he wanted to find something that would combine his dual passions: animals, and solar energy. So, proving that he had more moxie than most adults, he “made an initial business presentation” about the benefits of solar to the CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, explaining the fact that installing solar systems would have a future payoff. Then he approached Namasté Solar, about whether their granting program could help make it happen. When the Center for ReSource Conservation (CRC) later received an anonymous donation and asked Namasté, a community partner, about projects that deserved funding, Dustin’s project was on their mind. Together, the two organizations were able to cover 100% of the cost of a solar array.

Says Dustin:

“It was exciting – we had a sheet with costs showing where all of the money was coming from. Usually, the section ‘what you have to pay’ is a bigger number, but for the Humane Society, it was $0. We had found ways to fully pay for their system, and that meant there was more money for the animals.”

Aside from the 18000 lbs of emissions savings, the Humane Society can expect an annual energy savings of $800. Because of a 12 year old boy with a superhero complex.

Via Yellows and Blues.

May 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Growing Bananas in -40 degree weather

The thing people always ask me when I say I’m on the 100 mile diet is, don’t you miss bananas? [Full disclosure: I can’t kick avocados, which have their tasty hooks in me] I was never that big on bananas, but I’ve tried unsuccessfully to start a dwarf variety from seed a few times (they can take up to 3 years to germinate). Amory B. Lovins (great name!) has done even better. He harvests full sized banana crops grown indoors in a -40 degree climate, without even heating the space. And the technology he used is 20 years old.

Watch this video. It’s not just about the bananas, it’s about intelligent energy-saving design, and it brought me back from the depths of GMO dispair last night.

Because I can’t endorse the Chevron PR ad preceding the vid, here’s a bonus image:
chevron bs

May 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Inspiring Upcycling: Electricity-Free Lighting

It’s the simplicity of this project that makes it so beautiful. A man in Brazil is using soda bottles to light his workshop during the day (they’re rated at 50 watts!). This would never work in our climate, but I would love the opportunity to see pop bottles sticking out of people’s houses.

Via Make.

April 28, 2009 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

Sun Loving

Every once in a while, i pull out my New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency and dream a little dream of living off the grid, but it’s never been something I thought was possible.
If you have $50,000 to spend, there’s great information on the daily green on the basics of installing solar panels, but I don’t know anyone with that kind of cash in their shoe box.

Solar water heaters are a little less intense. Solar water heaters have been used since the 19th century, and work by harvesting the sun’s heat directly rather than converting solar power into electric into heat. They cost $1,500 to $3,500, and pay for themselves in four to eight years. And I just found out that here in Ontario, the government is offering up to $1000 in grants for installing a solar hot water system. Not a bad case when you realize that average electric water heater uses 6,400 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, and releases more CO2 than the average car. More on solar water heaters here.

April 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment


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