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Found 122 results

  1. 8 Ways To Go Green At Home

    As everyone is talking about the climate changes, global warming and sustainability, it seems like all “passionate” supporters of the green idea are just talking, but they lack action. But I’m happy that you want to take action and change things for good. If you want to live in a greener, cleaner planet, remember that any change begins within ourselves. Limit your environmental impact, live a healthier life and save money by following these simple steps. 1. Forget about bottled water. Instead, buy water filters to clean tap water. When on the go, opt for a reusable bottle, preferably aluminium one. 2. Borrow. Go to the library and borrow the books you want to read, instead of buying them from the bookstore. 3. Make your own natural cleaners: Usually all the ingredients you need are vinegar, baking soda, lemon and soap. When choosing a cleaning company, hire the one that uses bio detergents in the cleaning process. This company, for instance, works with natural, eco-friendly detergents. 4. Get out of the car. Reduce the harmful exhaust emissions by walking or cycling to work. In addition to the saved money, you will also improve your health and reduce the risk of obesity. 5. Save energy: Turn your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and increase the temperature a few degrees in the summer. This way you will save money on heating and cooling. Replace the old incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones. Unplug appliances when not being used, or buy "smart" power strips. They feel when appliances are off and eliminate "phantom" energy use. Instead of machine drying, hang the laundry on a clothesline or on a drying rack. Improve the insulation, install solar panels, upgrade the windows. 6. Save water: Invest in a low-flow showerhead. Take shorter showers, bathe with warm, not hot water. In the garden, grow native plants which require few and far between waterings. 7. Use reusable shopping bags. Put one in your handbag, at home, on your desk, in the car, or any place where it would be useful. 8. Buy smart: Look in thrift stores, garage sales and consignment shops for clothing and furnishings. Buy in bulk. Save on packaging and money. Invest in high-quality products. Paying more now means less frequently replacing of household items, clothes, appliances, etc. Resources: Worldwatch.org
  2. In the recent past, doing your part to save the environment meant recycling plastic containers, buying organic vegetables and using canvas tote bags. Today, there are more ways to live green than ever before. In fact, a few simple changes can help you create a greener, healthier home. Here are five decorating ideas to consider. Marry Your Interior and Exterior Home One of the easiest ways to green up your home is to blur the lines between the interior and exterior living spaces. Opening your doors and windows is one way to bring the outdoors inside. If you are planning a home renovation, consider installing a window wall that opens an entire room to the outdoors. Screens allow you to let in fresh air while keeping the bugs and other pests outside. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting Fixtures The right lighting fixtures can give your home an aesthetic appeal that is eco-friendly and functional. Old fixtures use a lot of energy, which can drive up your electricity bills. Replace them with energy-saving fixtures, such as those with Energy Star certification, or even solar-powered models. Replace your standard, incandescent bulbs with energy-saving alternatives such as light-emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Decorate With Indoor and Outdoor Plants Nothing says green living like live plants. Besides adding beauty to your home, plants from places like Green Smart Decor provide a relaxing outdoor hobby and help reduce indoor air pollution. Choose low-light, low-water houseplants for indoor decorating, and water them with rainwater or water you would otherwise discard. Outdoors, use the right soil and appropriate fertilizers, and water your plants frequently to keep the soil from drying out. Beautify Your Home With Reclaimed Water While luscious greenery is a great way to green your home and lawn, it comes at the price of high energy bills. If you are renovating your home or designing a new one, consider installing reclaimed water solutions. For example, try drainage systems that use rainwater to feed your lawn and outdoor landscaping. Save Water With Artificial Leaf Panels Artificial leaf panels are a good way to green your home without adding to your water bills. In addition to their easy installation and natural appearance, polyurethane panels provide ultraviolet (UV) protection and noise insulation. They are also weather-resistant, pest-free and unattractive to pets. Green Smart Décor offers a variety of panel options including ficus and ivy. "Going green" does not have to mean "going expensive" with solar panels or bamboo flooring. Simple changes like the ones above can make your home a greener, safer, healthier place to live. Begin with small steps and make a commitment to change your habits over time.
  3. With energy costs on the rise along with pollution and traffic congestion, energy-efficient vehicles are excellent investments. Most of us own vehicles and depend on them for daily transportation. It makes sense to get one that can save money while also helping to keep the environment clean. The benefits like environmental friendliness and savings on fuel are well known; however, there are a few other benefits that you may not know about. Lower Costs The cost of gas is not the only expense with which vehicle owners have to contend. Insurance is another significant cost that comes with owning all types of vehicles. Many car insurance companies provide their customers with discounts for owning an energy-efficient vehicle. Some insurance companies even have divisions that are dedicated to policies for eco-friendly vehicles and which provide discounts. Hybrid drivers may also be eligible for good driver and other discounts as well. All major insurance providers offer some sort of discount for drivers of hybrids and electrical cars. Aside from replacing parts like tires and wiper blades, there is not a lot of maintenance needed for electric cars. For one thing, the brake pads last longer since these vehicles use regenerative braking to slow the vehicle down. Regenerative braking converts the energy used in slowing the vehicle into electricity, which is stored in the battery. They Are Safe Hybrid and electric vehicles are as safe as cars that are fueled by gasoline. In the past, concerns have been raised regarding the potential for accidents to cause chemical spills because of the batteries; however, such accidents have not occurred in the decade since these cars first became widely available. Still, it is necessary to take precautions when driving any vehicle, regardless of the fuel source. Eric Harron, a car accident lawyer in Austin, advises all motorists to avoid aggressive driving and to minimize distractions regardless of what vehicle is being driven. They Are Just as Comfortable as Conventional Vehicles When it comes to comfort and ease of driving, there is no difference between an all-gas vehicle and an energy-efficient. Hybrids are able to accelerate and to cruise just as fast on the highway. Most hybrids come with the luxury features expected of modern vehicles. These include navigation systems, keyless start and automatic climate control. Most hybrids are able to move at least four adults in reasonable comfort and some can transport as many as eight. They are a Good Investment The economic aspects of buying an energy efficient vehicle can be tricky. Many experts have deemed hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles to be poor investments based on the fuel savings. It is true that the value of a hybrid can fluctuate depending on gas prices. However, one area that many calculations fail to take into consideration is resale value. One 2011 study by Carnegie Mellon University used auction data to show that two energy efficient vehicles (the Toyota Prius and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI) retained thousands of dollars of their value in comparison to gas-only vehicles. More people are turning to hybrids in order to save on fuel and to help protect the environment, which means that there is a greater demand. That demand leads to above-average resale value. The Technology is Not New Even though hybrids and electrical vehicles have been on the market for a while now, many motorists may be concerned about investing in what may be perceived as relatively new technology. The truth is that electric cars were around as far back as the early 20th century. They were among the earliest American-made vehicles. The technology has evolved considerably since then and modern electrical cars are even more efficient and powerful. The benefits above are some of the reasons that hybrids and electrical vehicles are among the fastest growing segments of the auto industry. Furthermore, the popularity of energy efficient vehicles means that there is a wide variety from which to choose. Shop around to find something that meets your needs and those of your family.
  4. Three Incredible Uses of Paper Bags

    Since their invention over 100 years ago, paper bags have become one of the most ubiquitous products on the planet, and they continue to impress in the modern age due to their eco-friendly credentials. You can use an old paper bags to cook popcorn, protect your plants, cover your children’s text books, make puppets, or construct luminaries, and that’s just a small list. Some people have taken reusing paper bags to the next level. Paper Bag Stairs Rachel Evans’ staircase is one of a kind. Upon first inspection you might imagine that they are made of either cork or burled wood, but look very close and you might just notice that they’re MDF covered with stained brown paper. Of course, you probably wouldn’t guess that real wood hadn’t been used. This inexpensive solution made the treads look totally authentic, and Rachel did it all using just the brown craft paper from which paper bags are made, white glue, dark walnut stain, and floor-grade polyurethane semi-gloss. Paper Bag Lamp Shades Perhaps not quite as striking as Evans’ paper bag stairs, one homeowner decided to do something a little more immediately arresting. When you turn a lamp on in their house, you’ll find yourself bathed in the warm, homely glow produced by light filtering through a paper bag. Folded cleverly around and they attached at each end, the paper bag lamp shade looks great even when the lamp is off. Turn it on, and something usually seen as drab becomes something completely out of the ordinary. Paper Bag Wall A man named Duane posted something similarly eye-catching on popular creative site Cottage in the Oaks. Duane reported that he have saved up every square inch of wrapping paper and decorative paper bags for years. Once he felt like he had enough, he began to wallpaper his foyer with them. The result is a fascinating patchwork construction of corporate logos, strikingly patterned wrapping, and odd bits and pieces which would otherwise have been long forgotten. Each piece was stuck down to a patch of wall covered in wet paint. They were then smoothed out and covered in a water-based sealer. Of course, you don’t have to take things that far, but it’s always fascinating to hear about those who have done so.
  5. Did your last energy bill take you by surprise? Yes? And you thought your home was energy efficient. So the best choice you have in order to avoid unpleasant surprises of that particular type is to singlehandedly assess your home's energy efficiency. You can run some tests and see for yourself what you have to do in order to make make your house more energy efficient. If you do, you'll not only save money on electricity bills, you'll also be ensuring your personal safety and the safety of your home. Look for Air LeaksSo to start with, first check your house for any air leaks (drafts). These drafty areas fail to keep warmth inside during the winter months and respectively, the cool air in the summer. Fixing these problems can help you save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each year and on top of that will make your home much more comfortable. Begin by checking for air leaks near windows, doors and vents. If you find any you can easily take care of them yourself by simply airsealing around doors and resealing the caulking on your windows. Make sure you check your flooring and vents as well as all outside areas where different materials meet. Replace Inefficient LightingMost people don't know that, but around 10 percent of your electricity bill is due to lighting charges. So if you still haven't replaced your old incandescent light bulbs, it's high time you did. You can opt for the spiral compact flourescent lamps (CFLs), or the so-called LEDs – light-emitting diodes. They are a bit more expensive than your ordinary bulbs, but are a much better investment because they last a lot longer. Something more, they also let off more delicate light and use less energy, which is another plus and significantly contributes to the return on your investment. Large Household Appliances InspectionAn important step towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing your electricity bills is inspecting your household appliances. The surest sign something's not right with a device would be the loud noises coming out of it and its impaired efficiency. To lighten the workload of some devices, prolong their lifespan and save up on energy, you might want to consider: Buying new and more energy-efficient home appliances with the Energy Star label. It might seem a bit on the expensive side but in the long run the investment will pay off, especially if you take good care of the new device.Switching off or unplugging items from the power grid when you aren't using them. Unplugging them will prevent the so-called vampire draw or phantom loads which refers to the consumed by your appliances electricity when they're in switched off.Regular Air Filter ReplacementReplacing your air filters can also go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, you should replace the air filters of your ventilation on a monthly basis. Otherwise the debris and dust in the air system will impair the airflow and cause the system's capacity to go down. As a consequence, it will need more energy to heat/cool your house. The regular air filter maintenance also means that no dust and debris will fall out of the vents. So you're saving money on both energy and house cleaning services. Insulation CheckupIn the last few months Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, saw some scorching heats. So if you want to stay cool this summer you better check the insulation of your house. Otherwise, given today's energy prices, the cool loss during the hot summer and the heat loss in winter will make your energy bills skyrocket.
  6. With utility bills on the rise, we are all looking for the most feasible ways to maximize the energy efficiency of our homes. Multiple studies performed by some of the most authoritative experts in the US, show that the roof is the easiest and often the most cost-effective way to cut down on electricity bills. Here are the top ways for greener roof and home: Choose Reflective Roofing Materials (The Cool Roof) The materials traditionally used for roofing tend to absorb the solar energy rather than deflect it, which often leads to higher energy expenses. When the roof temperature is high, more heat gets into your house and your air-conditioning appliances consume a lot more energy to reduce it. However, over the past few years a new type of materials emerged, which have solar reflective properties and help reduce the temperature of the roof with up to 30 percent. Furthermore, the modern cool roofing solutions are also very effective at releasing the accumulated solar heat and this is commonly known as high emittance property. Probably the simplest and most effective way to cool down your roof is with special coating, which is applied on top of the existing structure. In cases when you build new residence or remodel an existing roof, you should consider using lighter colored versions of asphalt and shingles. A great source of information about how to make virtually any type of roof cool is made available by the US Department of Evergy. Insulate the Roof & Attic To insulate your roof and attic in order to maximize energy efficiency around the house is really a no-brainer. However, when it comes to choosing the most suitable insulation for your specific needs, things get a bit more complicated – there are so many types out there that even experienced professionals can get confused. My personal advice is to use the R-value of the insulation to determine its heat transfer resistant properties – the higher these are the better ability the insulation will have to keep the heat inside your home, so that you don’t spend a fortune on utility bills. Sustainability Whether you are remodeling the existing roof of your house or you are building a new one, choosing the most sustainable materials will almost immediately result in energy savings. Most of the time with up to 30 percent! Choosing sustainable roofing materials requires seeking professional advice, from experienced roofer, like Apex Roofing in Texas. I don’t say you can’t get the job done yourself, but it will be much difficult as there are so many factors to consider, such as climate in the area, the type of the house and off course your budget. Once all these considerations are in place, you are ready to proceed with your roofing project and pick up the materials you will use. With these top ways to maximize the energy efficiency of your roof, you can quickly cut down on electricity bills by as much as 50 percent! If you do basic calculations for your utility savings, you will quickly realize how cost-effective roofing actually is.
  7. Conserving energy is a really big thing. The environment has really been suffering, and we need to something about it. Well, there’s a lot you can do, and starting with your home is the first step taken towards a greener, more economic home, and a healthier world. Energy efficient homes are becoming a real trend in the world, and that’s not without a reason. A lot of funds have been put into creating ideas for more energy efficient funds, and today, we can give you some tips on how to make your home more energy efficient. It’s actually quite possible to make your home more energy efficient while keeping the same comfort level, or even increasing the comfort level in the home. Energy efficient building practices can do wonders in that field. When you are building a new home, or you are renovating your current home, you can save a lot of money by going green. And even if you are not trying to renovate your home or build a new home, using green power can reduce the energy consumption from fossil fuels even more. The carbon footprint can always be lowered, and it’s the most green thing you can do. Going green is imperative in today’s world, since the world we have is taking a turn for the worse. So, why not save energy, save money, and contribute your little part in saving the world today? Make your home more energy efficient to do just that. But how do you do that? Where do you actually start? Try going small. Take the small steps towards achieving the big goal. For example, if the energy bill is really high, try cutting down on it. You can do a lot to reduce that number and actually help save the environment, and save money too. You should calculate the energy usage per every room in your home, and actually figure out what the cause of that much energy spending is. Maybe you are keeping the lights on too long. Maybe your windows aren’t really sealed well and are costing you a lot of energy. A lot of energy can be lost through windows, and it doesn’t really depends on curtains or blinds, they need to be sealed properly to prevent the endless wasting of energy in your home. Your light bulbs can also be a big waster of energy in your home. Lights bulbs that are outdated or that don’t fit the right power you need will spend a lot more energy than is needed, and will cost you a lot of money and energy, which in turn is not really a good thing for the environment. Lastly, you can always consult an expert. If you really don’t have a solid idea on what should you do to make your home more energy efficient, there are people who are in charge of that and can help you with that.
  8. Creating an eco-friendly home doesn't just mean switching off lights before heading out of the house or installing Energy Star appliances. Many families just need to change a few common habits in order to cut down on energy consumption. Before carrying out an expensive “green” overhaul of your home, take a look at these 5 mistakes that many families make during the summer without even realizing it. 1. Using Insulation Rolls and Batts Checking on insulation should be a yearly habit for everyone, but replacing old insulation with ineffective products is one common mistake that could cost you in the long run. Traditional insulation often comes in pre-fabricated shapes such as rolls and batts, but it is only blown-in and spray foam insulation that will get your attic's nooks and crannies. 2. Skipping an Energy Audit Most families aren't going to hire professional home energy auditors every single year, but you should never skip it for more than a few years in a row. These technicians are trained to go through almost every component of your property to find any energy inefficiencies. Even if they find just a single problem, an audit will often pay for itself within a few months. 3. Forgetting the AC Tune-Up An annual tune-up carried out by a company such as Team Electric is not only going to increase the lifespan of your HVAC system, but it is also going to cut down on monthly utility bills. Just as with any other major component in your home, these systems go through an incredible amount of wear-and-tear and a tune-up often includes changing filters, topping off fluids, lubing moving parts, and checking the accuracy of the thermostat. 4. Allowing Phantom Power Loss “Phantom” power loss is the name given to the small amount of electricity that devices and appliances consume when they are not actively being used. Everything from laptop chargers to coffee makers could be consuming enough electricity to increase your bills by hundreds every year. Attach these devices to a single power strip and turn them off before bed and when you are leaving for work. 5. Not Setting Your Programmable Thermostat Correctly A programmable thermostat is one of the single best investments for saving energy around the house, but many families are not using them to their full potential. The ideal settings are 82 degrees Fahrenheit when no one is home and no lower than 78 degrees when family members are in the house. If you tend to forget about changing the settings, consider setting automatic timers on the thermostat. When all of these common mistakes are remedied, your family could be looking at thousands of dollars in savings during the hottest months of the year.
  9. If you are a concerned eco-friendly entrepreneur, there are many inspiring and creative ways to make and keep your business “green” and help the environment in safe ways at the same time. Feel good about helping Mother Nature to maintain our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. There is an extra benefit because it helps your reputation that consumers want to support a green business, and you can thus show customers that you care about the environment and are making strides for improvements within your business. Eco-friendly LandscapingProfessional landscaping for your business property lawn can be ordered that will save energy, water and money. Such inclusions can be drought-resistant plants, synthetic turf, strategically placed trees and more. Use All-natural, Organic and Recycled ProductsCleaning products and soaps can be purchased that use common organic materials that are much better for the environment. Office supplies including all types of paper, file folders, toilet paper, paper towels, cups, and plates can be purchased made from recycled products. Aerial Imagery and Conscience DiggingLearn from an oil company that uses the aerial photographic services of Terra Server to get imagery and the geography of areas to find appropriate places to dig where it will not harm the environment. You might have the type of business that needs to evaluate and analyze the working area landscape. Encourage Employees to RecycleKeep waste bins separate from recycling bins, and make sure they are clearly labeled to make their use easy. Explain to employees how good this is for the environment and how it cuts trash expenses. Also, ask the employees to make suggestions for ways the company can be made more eco-friendly. Cut Down on Wasted EnergyBe less wasteful and more energy-efficient by closing off unused rooms so they do not need to be heated and cooled, and setting the thermometer higher or lower depending on when you are open for business and when you are closed during non-business hours. Additionally, have employees shut off unused equipment including their computers at the end of the work day. By making your business more eco-friendly, or “going green”, the above measures will cut down on costs. By saving money in as many areas and ways as possible, you can spend more on important things such as marketing to grow your business.
  10. Energy waste and misuse is at an all-time high. This poorly coincides with the current state of the economy and job market. Home owners need to carefully conserve both resources and their hard earned money through being energy efficient. Below explains four tips to make your home more energy efficient. Energy Conservation One of the appliances that consumes the most energy is the water heater. Ensure that the water heater temperature is below 120 degrees. This will save energy and avoid potential overheating of plumbing pipes. Make sure that the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer are energy efficient models. A recent USA Today report revealed that Americans waste 4 billion dollars every year through inefficient clothes dryers. A standard dryer will consume as much as an energy efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer. Research by McKinsey & Company in 2009 found that American homes and businesses spend over $130 billion dollars to power standby appliances. If an appliance is not in use, unplug it. Schedule Regular Air Conditioner Tune-ups Most homes need an AC to regulate temperatures and maintain indoor air quality. However, air conditioners consume an enormous amount of energy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Energy Star certified AC’s are 15 percent more efficient than conventional models and can be installed by companies like Spokane Air Conditioning Installation. If an upgrade isn’t necessary, regularly scheduled AC maintenance will ensure that the unit runs smoothly and will save money in the long run. Most people don’t realize that indoor air pollution can be worse than the outside air. A recent study by the National Institute of Health has shown that cardiovascular health can be improved through air conditioning. Windows According to the National Resources Defense Council, over 30 percent of a home's total heat loss occurs through windows and doors. Replace older single-pane windows with double-pane windows. Check for drafts and seal all window edges and cracks with caulk. Consider using shades or drapes to keep out the heat during the summer and keeping them open on sunny winter days. Light Pollution Light pollution isn’t something to take lightly. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, over 30 percent of lighting is wasted. Incandescent lights are very inefficient and over 90 percent of the energy is wasted as heat. Fluorescent lights conserve more energy the longer they are turned on. Most importantly, turn off lights when nobody is in the room. Home owners can conserve energy and save money through upgrading appliances, scheduling AC tune-ups, upgrading windows and reducing light pollution. Through these steps, you will be well on your way to running a more energy efficient home while also saving some cash along the way.
  11. New data from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) shows that wind energy installations outperformed both coal and gas last year in the European Union. In fact, Europe closed down and retired more coal and gas capacity than they commissioned in 2014.   Across the 28 EU member states, the wind industry built a total of 11,791 MW to the European grid. In comparison, coal and gas added only 3,305 MW and 2,338 MW respectively of new capacity. The wind energy capacity increased by 3.8 percent in 2014 and cumulative installations is now standing at 128.8 GW in the EU. Wind power now cover 10 percent of the EU’s electricity consumption, up from 8% the year before. All in all, renewable power plants (and not just wind energy) accounted for 79.1% of new installations during 2014; 21.3GW of a total 26.9GW. Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: "These numbers very much show Europe's continued commitment to renewable and wind energy. But this is no time for complacency. The uncertainty over the regulatory framework for the energy sector is a threat to the continued drive toward sustainable and homegrown energy that will guarantee Europe's energy security and competitiveness for the long-term." A Davos report, released earlier in January, warned that badly located renewable power plants are hampering the production from these new installations – and costing Europe as much as $100 billion. A solution to these sub-optimal deployments of renewable energy resources could be a more unified European energy market. “It's time for Europe's political leaders to create a truly European Energy Union and send a clear signal of their support for the shift to a secure and sustainable energy system,” Becker said. “Political will on their part is an essential piece of the puzzle.” These new EWEA-statistics also shows something worrying. This renewable energy transformation is not happening equally across Europe. Almost 60 percent all-new installations were in just two countries: Germany and the United Kingdom. These two country’s installed 5,279MW and 1,736MW respectively of new wind energy in 2014. "What we've seen in 2014 is a concentration of the industry in key countries," Becker said, adding "while markets in eastern and southern Europe continue to struggle in the face of erratic and harsh changes in the policy arena. We expect this concentration to continue into 2015." New wind power installations also saw a dramatic decline in countries such as Spain, Italy and Denmark who all installed much less wind than in previous years. Denmark might be nearing “peak wind” as it saw a drop in installations by over 90 percent. You can read the full EWEA report here.
  12. China has been the world’s largest consumer of energy since 2009 when the country surpassed the US. The majority of the energy which is produced and consumed in China comes from dirty fossil fuels. According to numbers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 78 percent of the total electricity generated in China between 2004 and 2010 came from coal. In 2007 China surpassed the US – yet again – and became the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter. It’s worth pointing out though that China’s per capita emission numbers still lags behind those of more developed countries. However, this has obviously caused massive negative effects for the global climate, the local environment and Chinese people’s health. To combat this, China is investing heavily in more sustainable and cleaner energy sources. And they have done so for several years now. The country invested a total of $56.3 billion on wind, solar and other renewable projects in 2013. That year, China invested more on renewables than all of Europe combined and became the world leader in renewable energy investments. Last year China became a powerhouse for solar and wind as the country’s investments in renewable energy increased by 32 percent, to $89.5 billion. Unfortunately not everything is renewable energy as China has plans to triple its nuclear power capacity by 2020. And more than a third of the world’s nuclear reactors currently under construction can be found in China. But nuclear energy can’t seem to catch up with the deployment speed of renewable energy sources. Not even in China. Last year, China’s nuclear capacity reached 20,000 megawatts. But at the same time China added 23,000 megawatts of new wind energy capacity – a world record. Chinese wind power now has an amazing cumulative capacity of 115,000 megawatts. While Beijing plans that nuclear energy will generate 50,000 megawatts by 2020, analysts expects that the country’s wind power capacity will then have already reached 200,000 megawatts. To put things into perspective: wind power alone is now capable of powering more than 110 million homes in China. And if we only look at capacity, Chinese wind power now produce more energy than all of the nuclear power plants in the US. Renewable energy sources are being deployed much faster and on a bigger scale. And for the foreseeable future, nuclear energy is unlikely to match wind power in China. Despite this, coal remains king in China. But the energy landscape is changing ever so rapidly. And according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, coal dropped nearly 3 percent in 2014. All of this is encouraging. Particularly as new IEA data shows that global CO2 emissions stalled in 2014 while the economy actually grew. This marked the first time in four decades that the world economy grows while carbon emissions don't. Experts say that this change is likely due to an increasing worldwide deployment of renewable energy – and especially, a changing energy landscape in China.
  13. In this modern day and age, the amount of energy the world needs is increasing rapidly. This is due to many countries developing modern infrastructures that are able to support the heavy demands that increasing use of electricity creates. Along with the higher demand for electricity comes a higher demand for renewable and sustainable energy that keeps the world as eco friendly as possible. Let have a look at a few examples of some of the projects built around the world to supply this renewable energy. Three Gorges Dam, China China is at the forefront of many things in the world and they are now making a massive improvement to be at the forefront of being eco friendly. The Three Gorges Dam is the worlds largest hydroelectric dam and it's as impressive in performance as it is in sight. Its the first in the world to reach 18 gigawatts. To put that in perspective, 18 modern nuclear power plants cant even make that much electricity. This impressive project shows that even countries like China are doing a major part in keeping the world as clean and eco friendly as possible. ACWA Concentrated Solar Power Project Ouarzazate, Morocco This seriously impressive solar field takes use of suns rays to create energy. Built and created in Morocco, it generates around 160MW of electricity and holds up to 3 hours of storage. When it was built it was the first of its kind in Africa, although there have been several of these impressive built since its inception. It was built deep in the desert and some of the surrounding problems did cause a few threats but with a risk advisory service, the bio mass project was completed with a massive success. Tidal Barrage in Bretagne, France Just because renewable energy has become far more popular recently, it doesn't mean it wasn't thought of and created years ago! This huge project was built in the year of 1967 in France and cost $134 million to complete. The barge blocks the entrance to the River Rance, creating energy by allowing the water to pass through turbines, and is the largest type of power plant to do this throughout the world. Renewable and sustainable energy, like these projects, are vital if we are to keep our world healthy.
  14. Green Hybrid Cars: Top 2015 Models

    Cars with electric powering options are becoming more and more present, but they are still far from being as present as their internal combustion powered counterparts. In theory, as well as in most of the practice, they provide amazing fuel efficiency, allow you to enjoy instant torque delivery and keep the world cleaner. They seem far better than petrol cars. So, why aren’t they in the lead? Well, the technology is still in its baby years. The batteries are heavy, they take up loads of space and they still don’t provide the electric cars with the range that would satisfy buyers. There are cars which are emerging as breakthrough models, such as the Tesla S, but they are vastly expensive. It is not that they are not worth the price, but vast majority of buyers can’t afford to buy a car whose price is well into six figures, so we can’t really expect them to be a common sight just yet. In order for the electrics to take the lead, certain conditions need to be fulfilled. Still, there is a solution why we are waiting. Hybrids! They employ standard internal combustion engines, so they allow us to fill them up with fuel and drive normally, but they also make use of the new technologies, combining it with an electric motor, thus improving fuel efficiency, range and performance. Speaking of the performance, even ultimate supercars such as the McLaren P1 and the LaFerrari are employing hybrid powerplants. So, which are the best ones for 2015? Well, they need to be relatively reasonably priced, so the P1 and the LaFerrari are out of the list for the same reason the Tesla S is. These are the cars that you can buy and use as everyday means of transportation. BMW i3 For the people who are familiar with the industry, including the i3 in this list is no surprise. The famous German manufacturer is well known for their prowess, and they are bound to release respectable cars. The i3 is a whole new concept for BMW. It is a four-door car with compact dimensions, but loads of interior space. Plus, the design is very futuristic. The i3 is powered by an electric motor, but you can also opt for the range extender version which makes use of a small 2-cylinder engine serving as a generator of energy for the battery. The range goes from about 130 km to about as double as much for the range extender option. The top speed is limited to 150 km/h, which is more than enough for a city car and the acceleration to 100 km/h takes about 8 seconds. The i3 already has its markets, with the UK and Norway buyers being particularly interested in it, so it has been tested on the road. And it works just fine. Mercedes C-Class Hybrid If you are worried that a whole new approach to the i3 is a bit too much, an even more revered manufacturer has provided you with more conventional, but still very modern hybrid cars. Although you can opt for the top of the range and ultimately plush S-Class Hybrid, we have chosen to present you with a more reasonable buying option in the form of the C-Class, since the S-Class is a fairly expensive car. The C-Class C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, as it is called, is a regular, tested and venerated C-Class car with a modern hybrid powering options. It packs a 2.1 l diesel with 201 hp and a 27 hp electric motor which give it the acceleration to 100 km/h in just 6.4 seconds. Additionally, you can get the fuel efficiency of about 3.6 l/100 km, which is amazing for a car of this class and performance. However, bear in mind that the C-Class Hybrid is still mostly powered by the diesel engine and that the electric motor is only there to help. It reduces the consumption and increases low-rev torque, providing better driving response, but the C-Class is still a conventional car with improved efficiency. On the plus side, it is not an all new car like the i3, so buyers might feel more confident buying a proven piece of equipment. Another perk with the C-Class is the possibility of numerous additional equipment options, including the air suspension. There is no way Mercedes would gamble their reputation by making a gimmick out of a several-decades-present C-Class. It is a good car. Volkswagen Golf GTE A car which offers less than the Merc, but also costs significantly less. Comparing these two hybrids is like comparing the standard Golf and C-Class. The C-Class is better, but the Golf is still amazing and probably a better value for money. Its fuel efficiency is rated at about 1.5 l/100 km and it has an option of electric-only driving for about 45 km, which is more than most drivers will ever need in a city. When all of the horses are unleashed, it gives the top speed of 222 km/h with the acceleration to 100 km/h of just 7.6 seconds. Almost as good as the infamous GTI. As with any Golf and most German cars, you get amazing build quality and reliability, and the balanced Golf chassis inspires confidence and provides loads of driving fun. Toyota Prius If the previous cars on the list were new for you, you can educate yourself by finding loads of high-quality content online, but the Prius is almost a household name. It might be called the first common hybrid car in the world and it can already boast with several generations, which is amazing knowing that most other hybrid or electric cars are still concepts. The current model has improved range, lowered emissions and better fuel efficiency reaching the equivalent of 2.6 l/100 km. The electric-only range is also increased to about 20 km and the top speed in no fuel burning mode is at 100 km/h. It is more expensive than the Golf (but significantly cheaper than the Mercedes) and it includes loads of comfort perks as standard.
  15. Members of the UK Parliament group, the Environmental Audit Committee, have in a report released last Monday called for a moratorium on the controversial shale gas extraction technology; fracking. This comes in the same week that Lancashire City Council in the North of England, was meant to have decided upon whether to grant fracking company Cuadrilla permission for two shale gas wells. On Wednesday the council said that they would need to defer the decision for eight weeks in response to legal advice. Half of the Environmental Audit Committee’s 16 members called for a moratorium on fracking in the report, which had been ordered following an inquiry on the environmental risk of the activity. The Committee consists of seven Conservative MPs, six Labour MPs, two Liberal Democrat MPs and one Green MP. In related news, on Monday, a cross party group of ten MPs also proposed a fracking moratorium motion in Parliament. One of the MPs, Labour’s Yasmin Qureshi, said: "The public have serious concerns about fracking that need to be listened to. In Lancashire where the council is set to decide on whether to allow fracking imminently, two thirds of the public are opposed. The Government should follow the example of New York and bring in a moratorium so that the risks of fracking can be properly assessed." That motion failed overwhelmingly when a majority of MP’s voted against it, including a large group of Labour MPs. However Labour did manage to insert amendments into the Government’s Infrastructure Bill that would tighten fracking regulation, which were subsequently accepted. Last week, Labour said that if they win May’s general election they will impose stricter regulations on the fracking industry, including banning fracking activities near water aquifers. Supporters of the growing anti fracking movement will say that the case for banning fracking is getting stronger, highlighting decisions like the one by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo decision to ban fracking in the New York state in the US. Environmental group Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Donna Hume stated: ‘’The call for a UK moratorium by senior cross party MPs is a further blow to an industry still reeling from the recent ban on fracking in New York State due to health risks. The truth is people do not want a high-impact fossil fuel industry that would leave a legacy of pollution and disruption and would lock the world into further climate change.’’ But the UK government remains adamant that a fracking revolution should take place in this country, having unveiled a series of tax breaks for the fracking industry and saying it would be foolish not to relish the golden opportunity that a shale gas revolution would bring. Meanwhile Cuadrilla have asked for today’s Lancashire City Council decision to be deferred. Cuadrilla was responding to the news that planning officials were encouraging the council to deny the permit for the two wells and made amendments to their application. It was due to these amendments that the Council was asked to defer for eight weeks for legal reasons, angering anti fracking campaigners. The Council said they regretted the decision but said they were left with no choice due to the legal advice being presented to them.
  16. Modern times are difficult where every homeowner is trying to do their best to save some money. At such times, any effective solution is much appreciated. One of the ways in which you can save some money is through your utility bills. You can easily save on your electricity and gas prices if you compare energy rates offered by various companies and suppliers. A Quick Way to Compare While it is possible to compare energy rates manually by checking with the management of every company, there is an easier way to do things. The internet offers the easiest and the quickest method of comparison. The internet has definitely made our life much easier today and like everything else the internet also makes it simpler to compare energy suppliers and the rates they charge. This is definitely a great way to save some valuable time. There are several websites today that offer you easy options so you can compare energy rates offered by different companies at the same time. You will also be able to compare energy rates easily by providing additional information on the site like your utility bills. These websites allow you to understand how much money you would be saving if you switch over from your current company to the one that offers better rates. Taking Benefits of Promotions and Offers Since the competition level in the industry is quite high today, these companies always offer incentives in order to attract more customers. Sites that allow you to compare energy rates will also offer you information about ongoing promotions and offers so you can take benefit of these offers and save as much as possible according to your lifestyle and budget. Because of the UK open market, there is a healthy competition in the market today among various suppliers. Users today want to compare energy rates and want to find a company that is also reliable. In UK there are several reliable energy companies like EDF Energy, Scottish Power, E.ON Power and British Gas. These companies have official websites where you can get information about their offers and compare energy rates. However, the easiest way to compare energy prices is through a comparison site. Capped Rates When you compare different suppliers and their rates you should also ensure that you go for a company that provides capped rates. Capped rates mean that for a fixed time frame your utility rates will remain unchanged even if other factors change. In the long run this is a good idea since it will protect you against price hikes. However, for short term it is preferable to go for un-capped rates since you may not always get the same deals or offers later. When you compare these companies, it is advisable to check a few websites since these sites often have special offers of their own for their customers. With a little research and some time, you can easily compare energy companies and their rates and save a substantial amount of money each month.
  17. If all goes well, Northeast Scotland might soon be home to the world’s largest tidal energy park. The MeyGen project will place 269 sunken turbines on the Scottish seabed, capable of generating 400 megawatts of power and supplying nearly 175,000 homes in the UK with electricity. Atlantis Resources, majority owner of the MeyGen project, announced last week that the energy project had now successfully met all conditions required to start drawing down finance through the UK’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund. The project is therefore now one step closer to materialize. Atlantis Resources hopes that 60 of these turbines will be up and operational by 2020. The project will use the new AR1500 turbines, designed by Lockheed Martin (as seen in the photo above). “Having reached financial close on the first phase of our MeyGen project in Scotland, we are building momentum on our projects around the world, realising our goal of bringing cost effective clean energy to market at commercial scale,” said Tim Cornelius, Atlantis Resources CEO. Scotland is trying hard to reach its goal of having 100 percent of its electricity produced by renewable energy by 2020. In November it was announced that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity. The majority of renewable energy in Scotland comes from wind and hydro. Onshore wind generated more than half of all renewable electricity output in Scotland in 2013. Hydro power contributed almost one third of renewable electricity output. Experts say that other renewable energy sources, such as biomass, have a substantial potential for growth in the future. And maybe, in a near future, tidal energy could play an important role in Scotland’s renewable energy mix. But it’s still a long way to go, both for Scotland and Atlantis Resources until they reach their goals. The Scottish government have been accused before of “pulling the rug” from other promising (and perhaps overhyped) renewable energy projects. Atlantis Resources are also working on other tidal energy project in Nova Scotia off the cost of Canada, although these energy projects are much smaller. Initially, the company is planning on deploying a single (AR1500) 1.5MW tidal turbine system in Nova Scotia – enough to power up to 750 local homes. Earlier in November this year, Atlantis Resources was awarded the wave and tidal industry’s first-ever “Navigator Award” at the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE). The company was awarded for the work on the MeyGen project and its significant contribution to global marine renewable industry. “Scotland, France, Ireland and Nova Scotia are the places to watch for these prototype tidal power projects,” said Elisa Obermann of Marine Renewables Canada, the national organization hosting the ICOE this year.
  18. Carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuels, is the primary reason for global warming. Many initiatives designed to stop global warming center around reducing the planet’s reliance on fossil fuels and creating alternative energy. An example of this is laws that are being written encouraging governments and large businesses to put a limit on their carbon emissions. Businesses and governments that exceed their annual limit of carbon emissions will be required to pay for the excess gases they produce. Recycling and Clean Energy Other steps are being taken by the public at large. These include a shift in consumer buyer habits. More people are choosing to purchase products that were made using recycled materials, and that were created in factories using green energy. These include businesses that produce at least 50 percent of their energy using either wind, solar, or another source of clean energy. Additionally, homeowners are taking advantage of incentives provided by local utility companies as well as tax incentives set aside for individuals who use renewable energy in their home. Solar panel technology has taken amazing steps forward as has the energy storage capacity of batteries used in conjunction with these systems. Homeowners with installed solar panels and who have constructed wind turbines have even been able to sell some of their excess energy back to the utility company. Electric Automobiles Automobiles play a large role in creating the gases that contribute to global warming. More and more people are purchasing hybrids and plug-in hybrids that run on electricity and create less carbon emissions. Tesla has taken the idea of an electric vehicle and pushed it into the mainstream. Now other automotive companies, including Ford and Harley-Davidson, are producing energy efficient electric vehicles. In addition to taking steps against global warming, these companies are saving themselves money because an automobile that gets 40 miles to the gallon as opposed to 20 miles to the gallon, will save them approximately $3,000 a year in fuel costs. Landfill Gas More innovative programs have shown promise in slowing the effects of global warming. One of these includes the landfill gas collection system. Basically, this program is designed to capture the methane gases that are a natural product of decomposition of organic materials in landfills. Once this methane is collected and treated, it can be used to produce energy in combustion engines. Using landfill gas in this way has a twofold benefit. First, it minimizes the amount of methane that is released into the environment. Second, it provides an alternative source for combustible fuel. While there is much discussion about the source of global warming, it is almost universally accepted that it is occurring, so it’s not surprising that more and more individuals are turning to environmentally friendly sources of energy as a way to slow global warming’s process.
  19. Advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to obtain natural gas have made this resource an abundantly available and comparatively inexpensive source of fuel. While electric utility generators have traditionally favored large coal-or nuclear-powered plants to supply electricity to a designated grid, natural gas has steadily risen in popularity within this sector since the 1990’s - if it continues along its current path, natural gas is projected to overtake coal and nuclear power as a primary source of alternative energy over the next few decades. Automakers, however, are still struggling to put America’s prodigious volumes of natural gas to their use. While coal may still be the cheapest means of generating electricity, it is also the dirtiest, causing smog, soot, acid rain, and other toxic air pollutants. Natural gas burns cleaner, and releases dramatically fewer emissions into the atmosphere - a nearly 30 percent reduction in carbon output and toxins. It’s also cheaper by as much as $1 per gallon equivalent, even as the prices of gas and diesel have plummeted in recent weeks. When used to power vehicles, it’s one of the leading choices for environmentally-conscious drivers worldwide. But despite its comparatively clean and reliable track record, CNG vehicles have had a hard time catching on in the United States. The average yearly growth rate for the U.S. hovers at around 4%, as contrasted with an impressive global growth rate of over 30%. Government agencies and private companies are making massive investments to boost America’s natural gas fueling infrastructure, but the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel remains relatively modest. Most CNG vehicles offered today are available for commercial truck fleets, or as buses and medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. Because there are so few personal vehicles running on compressed natural gas, companies are unwilling to invest in the construction of a network of refueling stations. And auto companies don’t want to build CNG vehicles if drivers will have no where to gas up. The compressed natural gas success story in the United States is still in its infancy. But as technology advances, the domestic uses for natural gas multiply. Furnaces and water heaters powered by the alternative fuel can allow homeowners to save between $300-$1,262 per year on their utility bills. In typical home appliances, the use of natural gas cuts energy consumption by 28 percent and produces 37 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Innovators in the fuel industry soon hope to give individuals the option to generate their own electricity at home, using natural gas to power small generators (more info at Direct Energy’s website). Our energy future continues to hang in the balance, and while the harvesting and transport of natural gas pose a threat to its success, it remains one of the most promising advances in the energy sector. As with all fossil fuels, natural gas began as microorganisms living in the ocean. As such, natural gas is a non-renewable resource (at least in our lifetime) and it’s important to remember that it won’t be available forever. Lack of infrastructure also complicates matters, and some fracking companies have become victims of their own success when productivity outpaces access to pipelines. The fracking process itself is also an enormous concern, and so far over 100 U.S. municipalities have banned fracking due to concerns about groundwater contamination. Air pollution, hazardous wastes and other issues are also connected with use of hydraulic fracturing, and have been linked to increases in health problems in people living near fracking sites. Tests from these areas have also revealed high levels of benzene, formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals in the air. With fracking production outpacing the science on its impact, continued drilling has sparked public outcry and outrage from environmentalists. That said, the increase in available natural gas, along with increasingly strict vehicle emission requirements and a gradual improvement in fueling infrastructure, can be expected to continue to push the market for CNG passenger cars in conjunction with the increased demand for home heating and appliance applications. In 2013, 27% of U.S. electricity was generated from natural gas, more than doubling from amounts used for that purpose in 2004. While natural gas’s role in climate change remains controversial, our hunger for energy resources as insatiable as ever. With a cheap, domestic energy source at our disposal it seems foolish to throw the baby out with the fracking water.
  20. Are you passionate about environmentally responsible practices and green living? Would you like to have a job that paid your bills while also helping to save the planet? Today’s colleges are focusing more and more on providing degrees that can work for the environment. Whether it’s a science research in declining species, to a technology degree to help with wind turbines, or even an online mba in management information systems, more degrees are being created with the world in mind. Below are four job options you might be interested in, and how to get involved in the environment with your degree and career. Solar Panel Installer The solar energy industry has been booming in recent years, and as the technology has improved and the supply and demand have increased, costs have dropped significantly. This has allowed homeowners and small businesses to have solar panels installed on their homes and buildings, and reduce their electric bills to mere pennies per month. Solar installation is becoming a very popular job, and installers can make pretty good money. In some cases, specialized training via tech schools is not even necessary, as some employers will offer paid on-the-job training for new installers. Wind Turbine Distributor Not only have solar panels become more popular over the past few years, now wind turbines are rising in popularity too. And we're not just talking about those massive, high tech windmill that dot the landscape out in the desert. We're talking about much smaller units purchased by homeowners to set up in their back yards. There are many companies out there now who are looking for distributors, so you don't necessarily have to work for the company who designs and installs the systems; instead, you can become an outside sales representative and work for commissions. Green Energy Auditor Energy auditors inspect homes and commercial properties, looking for ways to cut down on energy costs. They often focus on improving window and door insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs. They might also recommend lighting systems that could reduce electricity usage. These types of changes not only help their clients to save the planet and preserve precious natural resources; they also help them to save money by reducing their monthly electric, gas and water bills. Green Home Designers Green design elements are being incorporated more and more into home construction and design, allowing for some pretty interesting and fulfilling jobs as green architects and green interior designers. Green principles can be applied every step of the way, from using recycled building materials, double-paneled insulation in the walls, double-paned glass windows, low-watt CFC lighting systems, rain catch-water systems, skylights and more. What better way to show off your artistic creativity, do something good for your community and for the planet, and make a living at the same time? These are just a handful of options in the green job market, but these ideas barely scratch the surface. There are countless opportunities out there today, with more being created every year. This is a young industry with a lot of room for growth. Go for the gold and find a program or job that offers a little more satisfaction for your part in the environment.
  21. E.ON, which is one of Europe’s largest utility firms, has issued a “new corporate strategy” in which the energy giant lay out its plans to focus on renewable energy while spinning off its fossil fuel assets in a separate company. “We are convinced that it’s necessary to respond to dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations with a bold new beginning,” said E.ON Supervisory Board Chairman Werner Wenning in a statement. This move by E.ON is largely due to Germany’s Energiewende – the country’s transition away from nuclear and fossil fuels and towards clean, sustainable and renewable energy. E.ON is Germany’s largest utility and the company has done massive investments in fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, but also renewable energy, from generally hydro and offshore wind farms, in Germany and across Europe. Energiewende therefore plays a huge role for E.ON’s decision, and is part of this “dramatically altered energy market” that Wenning is talking about in his statement. “E.ON’s existing broad business model can no longer properly address these new challenges,” Wenning said. While E.ON will focus on renewable energy technologies and solutions, the new separate and independent company will take over E.ON’s former fossil fuel assets, energy trading, exploration and production globally. They have not yet named this new fossil fuel company but said that the spin-off will take place after 2016. E.ON has around 60.000 employees and has said that there will be no job cuts following this decision. About 40.000 employees will remain with E.ON while the other 20.000 will transition to the new company. “We firmly believe that creating two independent companies, each with a distinct profile and mission, is the best way to secure our employees’ jobs, E.ON SE CEO Johannes Teyssen said. This decision by E.ON will clearly add credibility to Energiewende and boost Germany’s renewable energy sector while encouraging further investments in renewables. But will it give E.ON customers access to clean energy and, more importantly maybe, will it be a blow to the fossil fuel industry? Damian Kahya who is the editor of Energydesk, Greenpeace's energy and climate blog, says no. “Even when the deal goes through, the power you get will come from coal or gas because EON will still buy power from the open market. Indeed, it will probably buy power from the 'new company' and then sell it to you,” Kahya writes. “EON has set up a really good deal for new, fossil fuel-heavy, company, which it will hold a minority stake in (for a while at least). What it's done is keep all of the debt with the parent firm, the EON that does renewables and the like - and left the new company, which owns the gas and coal plants, almost entirely debt-free. Because the new firm also holds EON’s existing hydro and nuclear stakes it may actually generate more money from renewables than the parent company.” E.ON currently has €31 billion in net debt and this split makes sense economically as it will make it easier for both the new E.ON and the new fossil fuel company to attract investors. Kahya explains: “Investors who like to put their money somewhere safe didn’t necessarily see EON as a safe bet (the share price has fallen over the past five years) but the company wanted their money to build power grids and offshore wind turbines, safe investments backed by the government. On the other hand the fossil fuel bit of the firm was essentially competing against itself in an effort to stave off competition from clean energy. EON is part of a EU lobby group which has actively campaigned against subsidies for renewables. In splitting the company EON’s created a firm which your pension fund can buy into — an outfit which owns regulated power grids and subsidy-funded offshore wind farms and dominant positions supplying power to consumers.” This move by E.ON – to dump nuclear and fossil fuels in favour of renewables – might not dramatically change either the renewable or fossil fuel industry. But it’s still good news and it might point towards a new trend where large national energy companies starts to divest, or at least separate themselves away, from fossil fuels.
  22. According to newly released statistics from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, renewable energy sources produced 32 percent of Scotland's electricity in the first half of 2014 – beating both nuclear power, which used to be Scotland's main source of electricity, and fossil fuels. Scotland produced 10.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity from renewable energy sources in the first half of 2013. Nuclear energy, which had previously been Scotland’s main source of electricity, only generated 7.8TWh over the same period. Other fossil-fuel sources then followed, with 5.6TWh of electricity generated from coal and another 1.4TWh from gas-fired power stations. The energy policy of the Scottish government is that 100 percent of all electricity consumed in Scotland by 2020 should come from renewable energy sources. The majority of renewable energy in Scotland comes from wind and hydro. Onshore wind generated more than half of all renewable electricity output in Scotland in 2013. Hydro power contributed almost one third of renewable electricity output. Experts say that other renewable energy sources, such as biomass, have a substantial potential for growth in the future. Environmental campaigners and leaders in the green energy sector have hailed this as an historic event and urged increased commitment towards renewables in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Niall Stuart, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said that “the renewables industry has come a long way in a short space of time” and that there is still “plenty of potential” for more. Besides fighting climate change, Stuart also said that renewables will decrease the country’s reliance on imported energy while supporting communities across Scotland with more jobs and investment. “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland's main source of electricity is historic news for our country and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses,” Stuart added. “This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland's economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.” Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said that this “represents a major step on the way to Scotland becoming a 100 per cent renewable nation” and added that “last month, while nuclear reactors were forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland's renewables were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country.” “Put simply, renewables work and are helping to cut climate change emissions and create jobs in Scotland.”
  23. The Main Features of a Green Home

    Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment. Image Credit: GJ Gardner What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation. Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building. Materials used in green building Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth. The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified. Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions. Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays. Clever design for an energy efficient home The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass. The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly. Insulation Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene. We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option. Water management A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process. One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.
  24. No one can dispute that Germany is the world’s leading advocate of solar energy. However, countries like Australia are rapidly progressing in their mission to adopt sustainable energy, as they are beginning to wholeheartedly embrace solar energy. With the Australian government’s decisively enforced ‘Renewable Energy Target (RET)’, a 13 year period has caused 1.2 million homes with solar panels installed on their roofs. In addition to this, development in research has led to an eventual reverse in Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, if the technology can be sustained. The ultimate goal of this scheme is to guarantee that 20% of the country’s electricity is produced from renewable sources by the year 2020. What is great is that solar power magnitude is said to develop even further in the next decade. Australia and Asia aim to increase their rooftop solar panels usage by up to six times in quantity in the next ten years. Similar to the aforementioned scheme, a majority of other mandatory renewable energy targets aim to reach their objective by 2020. These legally binding objectives (in which 67 countries worldwide are a part of), include large scale and small scale schemes which strive to reach the national objective steadily, while simultaneously targeting a range of small and large regions and by applying first, second and third generation technology in these areas. In 2009, the European Commission initiated a renewable energy policy which enforced all member states of the European Union to abide to the ’20-20-20’ targets, which represent 3 main goals, including a 20% decrease in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and an expected 20% increase in the EU's energy efficiency; all by 2020. The Green Deal is an initiative supported by the government in the UK, which helps people comprehend the energy saving improvements they can personally make on their home, which can be beneficial for a more wide-ranging understanding of the situation on a local and global level. The Green Deal finance loan aims to fund a percentage of the installation costs of micro generation systems at home but is not that productive because costs still remain beyond for the average Brit’s budget. However, times are changing. On a more local scale, to steadily achieve greater results, solar panels have become much easier to maintain in the United Kingdom. Especially with affordable apparatus such as electrical test equipment, which means you can now maintain your micro generation energy system at home with minimal additional assistance. Communities across the country are also making an effort to adopt more sustainable schemes of energy production, such as The Lancaster Cohousing Project based in Forgebank. At a glance, it seems that a mandatory renewable energy target can be a beneficial approach for UK to adopt in various ways, both environmentally and financially. In 2013, British Gas raised gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4%, which on average is a 9.2% rise. With the pressure on the nation in terms of household bills, the prospect of renewable energy has become more appealing to all; not just environmentalists. Countries which have proven the potential for substantial progress over a relatively short period of time are Sweden, Estonia and Bulgaria, which have already exceeded their 2020 goal, 6 years ahead of schedule. This progress is due to a substantial growth in production of wind power. Only time will tell if renewable energy systems in the local community are as reasonable as the promising outcome. The UK still has 6 years to pull something out of the bag, and at the rate technology is developing, who knows what the future holds for everyone.
  25. UK housing is amongst the least energy efficient homes in the whole of Europe. Running a fully-functioning home accounts for nearly half of the UK’s yearly carbon emissions. Housing is so poorly insulated that a third of all UK homes (6.7 million) are rated E or worse on their energy performance certificate, meaning they have a low standard of energy efficiency. Not only are Britain’s poorly insulated homes having a negative impact on the environment, but also on their inhabitants’ standard of living. According to recent research, the UK comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for Western Europe and figures from 2011 revealed that a quarter of the people in question were living in fuel poverty, amounting to a grand total of 4.5 million homes. As UK homes are so poorly insulated, any in the house heat is lost very quickly, meaning that Brits are spending a small fortune on energy bills and are essentially burning cash to stay warm for only a short period of time. With energy prices substantially increasing this year, many simply can’t afford to heat their homes during the cold winter months, forcing them into fuel poverty. For example, British Gas has increased their gas prices by a staggering 8.4% and its electricity prices by 10.4% in recent years. The older generation are among the worst suffers of fuel poverty with Age UK estimating that 1.7 million older people in the UK cannot meet the expense of heating their homes, and over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they try to spend a majority of their time in a single room to save money. This can cause major health issues and up to 24,000 older people could die in the cold during the winter months. With conditions in UK housing becoming rather serious, the Government has already made a conscious effort to help reduce household bills, reduce carbon emissions and improve the general standards of living. For instance, the Green Deal was introduced at the beginning of 2013, with the objective to encourage household’s to take out loans to cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient. However, the scheme hasn’t been as effective as hoped – the government aimed to convert 10,000 homes into the scheme for 2013, when actually there was not one live deal in the first half of the year in spite of 241 household’s agreeing to the funding. Therefore, the question is what else can be changed to develop the efficiency of homes within the UK? One of the major issues is the fact that so much of Britain’s housing in the UK is relatively old, and therefore the UK would benefit from newer housing which has less impact on the environment, such as the new generations of manufactured homes like mobile homes and park homes. Mobile housing is popular in the U.S and according to research carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of housing can save up to 55% of energy when compared to a house without energy efficient facilities and appliances. Furthermore, Omar Homes a company that provide mobile homes and park homes, are built with ‘being green’ in mind. The homes can be built with water heat pumps, solar photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps. Therefore, taking this into consideration; could more manufactured housing be the answer to helping Britain become more green? The manufactured housing industry has already seen considerable interest towards mobile and static housing. For example, companies like Harvey Longsons, who focus on static caravans for sale have seen outstanding results in recent years. Conversely, if more mobile housing communities were more available it could also help solve the problem of fuel poverty for the ageing population, as these types of communities are often a suitable lifestyle for retirement. The retiree can be surrounded by similarly aged neighbours and have communal activities more available to them. As opposed to elderly people continuing to live in their family home, (which can often be s too large for their needs, and are not cost efficient), perhaps if they had the option, more retirees would move to manufactured housing communities that will not only save them money on energy prices and provide them with a more fulfilled lifestyle, but will also significantly reduce their carbon footprint.