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Working together to solve problems, listening to what our neighbors might need and making it our job to help: those are qualities that made us great. But those are qualities we are losing sight of.
While we are not likely to wish for a way of life without modern conveniences, relearning how we fit into a system that includes animals, plants and people in a giant interconnected, biodiverse planet is long over due. This video, which is about how solar is raising the quality of life in an area of Nepal, it is truly about cultures listening, learning and building together. Full video above.
Empower Generation and Empowered By Light are working together to bring solar light to to the rangers and neighboring community in Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This film explores the challenges of living in a stunning place where the wild animals that make the region unique—from tigers to sloth bears to elephants — can attract tourists but can also attack neighboring villages.
“Remote communities around the world are embracing renewable energy because the benefits are real, immediate and life-changing,” said Moira Hanes, Empowered by Light’s co-founder and board chair. “In Nepal, renewable energy is providing these communities with steady, reliable access to electricity, in many cases for the first time, all while helping to support their critical efforts to protect endangered wildlife and create economic and job opportunities that weren’t there before.”
To help rural communities thrive without draining the park’s natural resources, this fall’s effort will train 10 local women, whose economic opportunities have traditionally been limited, to sell a range of clean energy technologies such as solar home systems and improved cookstoves.
Inside the park, rangers working to prevent poaching rely on solar power to stay in touch with park authorities and power spotlights that help protect them at night. On a previous visit, Empowered by Light also helped install solar power at tourist towers that allow visitors to stay in the park overnight, generating income for conservation projects and for people-protection efforts designed to minimize conflicts between villagers and wildlife.
Empowered by Light and Empower Generation are seeking to raise $50,000 to help support the new project, which will assist hard-working people in Nepal in their efforts to:
- Protect Chitwan National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Protect single-horned Asiatic rhinos and Bengal tigers from poachers
- Train Nepali women, who have a particularly difficult time securing formal employment, to sell clean energy and start their own businesses
- Reduce dependence on dirty and dangerous sources of energy, including diesel generators and kerosene burners that put the community’s health and safety at risk
- Kick-start eco-tourism in a place where economic development options are limited
You can help by donating. Trailer below:
Parking lots: Dangerous and Hot
The National Safety Council found on average at least 60,000 are injured and 500 or more die in the 50,000 plus crashes in parking lots and garages every year. Especially in suburban towns, where parking lots can take up a lot of space, they make a significant difference in how hot we feel in summer. According to the EPA, the annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4° warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°. Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.
Parking lots take up huge amounts of space in our cities and towns. Our videographer asks how could we use the space better?
We often don't look around our grocery store. We shop, but don't necessarily see how the layout affects our choices. Tim Warrington wanted to see how different grocery stores affect shoppers. He found big differences in layout, aisle size, kinds of products and number of brands that various stores carry. He liked the informal way that the Farmer's Market displayed fruits and vegetables, as well as the large variety. "There were vegetables and fruits I had never seen before, but that made me want to try some of them." He also liked the fish market, which let him use a plastic bag to select his fish rather than having it selected by the counter personnel.
He looked at a store that focuses on fresh and organic and liked their bakery. He felt that the more stylized produce displays left him feeling that the store was too interested in displays, and not enough in varieties. He also noted that the fruits were less blemished, which he thought was likely what the shoppers expected. He liked the large display on a salad bar, but was unable to shoot there as store personnel asked him to put his camera away.
He also went to a store that specialized in their own brands, and was intrigued by things like Mahi-Mahi burgers which were displayed more prominently than the frozen fish at other stores. He noticed that the narrow aisles tended to get people talking to each other, comparing products as they shopped or waited in line to check out.
All in all, he enjoyed the trip and came away thinking that he really hadn't thought much about how different grocery stores can be. "I realized why some people go here for some things and there for others."
Keeping track of water, humidity, light and other variables can be a full time job.
MotorLeaf efficiently manages all that, reducing costs while letting indoor farmers have more time for their business.One of the strongest new agricultural technology companies, The companty is on a mission to become the world's leading operating system for indoor agriculturalists. The company's technology works through an operating system with a modular platform that provides continuous monitoring for the temperature, humidity, pH, and light level control. The device can even monitor nutrient levels for the crops.
Designed by a farmer who loves technology, there are two designs for the operating system that work through probes and sensors with offline and online capabilities. The software platform and the four hardware units are market ready and have already caught the eye of large supermarket chains. This technology could change the way indoor agriculture operates in the future, making agricultural markets even more efficient. It can work on a hobbyist or professional level, and the risk and operating cost reductions that comes with it speaks for itself. But to see the makers of the company speak for themselves, watch the video here:
As corporations are seeking more ways to enhance their sustainability efforts, REDD+ solves multiple problems.
For local impoverished communities, the driving factor is ensuring enough money to survive in difficult conditions. One of those drivers has been burning wood for charcoal, and poaching large animals. According to the New York Times, twenty years ago a wildlife corridor in southern Kenya was in jeopardy due to hunting wild giraffe and antelope for meat, and chopping down trees to make charcoal. With fewer trees, desertification loomed. Water was so precious that local cattle herders lit fires at water holes to keep giraffes and zebras from drinking. As Mercy Ngaruiya, a community leader in the village of Itinyi said. “People used to come with buckets of meat,” she said. “Everyone was killing animals. People were cutting trees for charcoal. They said, ‘What else are we going to do for money?’”
The way that REDD+ credits work is that individuals and companies purchase credits that guarantee that a set amount of forest will not be destroyed. The money goes to local communities. Since 2011, Wildlife Works, a nonprofit specializing in carbon credits, has earned millions of dollars which are shared by landowners, investors, Wildlife Works and the local community. Money for the community finances schools, scholarships, water pipes, reservoirs and other public works that serve 150,000 people.
Although REDD+ has been around for ten years, when it was introduced some feared fraud, worrying that money would be spent on credits for forests that were never preserved, or carbon reductions that didn’t happen. WildlifeWorks saw winning over farmers and poachers as an essential step to real verification. Knowing that poor countries needed financial incentives to preserve forests, the organization began a campaign to win over those most affected by carbon credit efforts. At first, locals were skeptical.
Ms. Ngaruiya recalled that when people first heard about REDD+ they said, “‘How do we get money from trees? The air? These people are cheating us.’ It was really complicated.” The process of education was essential, because REDD+ uses international social auditors to enforce a requirement for informed consent from communities. After extensive meetings over many months, Wildlife Works made progress.
“People were so desperate,” said Rob Dodson, vice president of African operations. “They had nothing to lose. They said, ‘It sounds mad, but let’s give it a go.’”
Against the odds, things have changed. Through the investors of REDD+ credits, illegal tree cutting and poaching have fallen significantly. In 1998 there were no elephants on the 75,000 acres of Rukinga Sanctuary where Wildlife Works is based, said Mr. Dodson. Now wildlife has returned. One recent evening, a herd of elephants, including babies, gathered at a water hole during a tranquil sunset. As many as 2,000 elephants live in the corridor, depending on the season; so do zebra, giraffe, buffalo, warthogs and several kinds of antelope, from slender dik-diks to impala. Lions had vanished from the area; now there are about 40, including two males seen lounging by a water hole on a hot Friday afternoon.
Although the success isn’t perfect, illegal poaching for elephants ivory does continue, as does burning trees to produce charcoal. But forest and wildlife in the Kasigau Corridor have been visibly revitalized by conservation efforts. Critically, the expansion won support for conservation from local elders and villagers, and the organization is now their county’s third-largest employer. Preserving this swath of forest in the Kasigau Corridor avoids emitting more than 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year for the next 30 years.
For those who want to be able to see animals roaming free – or want credits to offset operations or travel – REDD+ credits are a win-win for all.
SolarEdge brightens up the holiday season with a humorous spoof of some of our efforts to make a greener planet.
It brought cheer to TGEink staff, so we thought we'd post it for all to see. Enjoy, and have a terrific holiday season.
City skylines look like a line of tall towers marching in ordered rows. The reason is simple: elevators.
As more people move to urban areas, they require access to open spaces, places to congregate, and innovative transportation that is flexible, fast and safe. As designers seek to reinvent the city building, the way that people move around inside structures will change. ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG is working to re-imagine how cities work by innovating elevator technologies, building award winning sustainable buildings for their company and awarding prizes for out-of-the- box designs.
100% of Singapore and Qatar’s residents live in cities. In the US, 81% call an urban area home. As China continues to push for more urbanization, it is very likely that the 54% now living in cities will grow. Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO & Chairman, ThyssenKrupp commented that the buildings now being constructed will be around for 50 years, so decisions about those buildings will reverberate and multiply through time. For elevators, which are literally at the core of building systems, there are many opportunities to create efficiencies in existing systems and changing demographics.
For elevators, the ‘rush hour’ of the Mad Men days has given way to constant demand. As workers cover an increasingly varied work load, meeting up with clients, customers, sales reps, consultants, IT, maintenance workers and other staff that are also using the elevators. Add in trips to Starbucks and meals, there is a constant flow of people in and out of elevators that are designed to hold a dozen or more, when only one or two people are aboard.
MULTI: A New Idea in Town
ThyssenKrupp Multi Elevator
The concept of elevators has been around since ancient Roman times. Before electricity, they were rigged using counterweights, pulleys and elaborate mechanisms to ensure safety. The first powered system in the early 19th century was driven by steam engines. It wasn’t until 1880, when the German engineer Werner von Siemens invented the first electric elevator, that modern cities were practically possible. Elevators have grown faster and safer, and data driven to better serve customers.
Meanwhile the basic concept of an elevator hasn’t changed in over a hundred years. The counterweights for large elevators can be two times the mass of the building, which means the energy required to move a single person a few floors is very inefficient. The costs for construction and the loss of important, elevators dramatically restrict how a building can be designed, a problem for modern cities that must incorporate more open space, light and other non-linear features that urban dwellers want.
Responding to the changing habits and needs of people, ThyssenKrupp developed the MULTI, a modular design that seems like a construction of Legos. Based on the Transgrid Maglev that ThyssenKrupp helped develop for Shanghai, the MULTI doesn’t use cables or counterweights. Inside the MULTI structural framework is a capsule, large enough for a several people. Moving smoothly and quickly, MULTI can route itself across a floor to pick up waiting passengers horizontally as well as vertically. Another feature is that the system can be installed and working as the building goes up, and cars can be added to existing shafts to accommodate growing demand.
Enabling the Future
Vincent Callebaut Designs
If imaginative buildings, like those designed by Vincent Callebaut for countries like China and Saudi Arabia, are to be built, they will need the solutions that ThyssenKrupp is designing. In order to further adoption, Mr. Schierenbeck sees three barriers that will need to be addressed:
- Split Incentives: Building tenants, who benefit from the convenience and lower cost of newer technologies, don’t pay for installation of equipment. They do pay in their common space charges, so may begin to ask about the costs involved before signing a lease, or choose buildings for their efficiency and flexibility.
- Technological Innovation: Designers and engineers have experience and expertise with existing systems. Being comfortable with installation, safety and other requirements can make the ‘old’ technologies seem more comfortable than innovations. As buildings integrate new technologies, Mr. Schierenbeck’s experience is that they create demand, educating designers, engineers, building owners and tenants.
- Incentives: States and cities have elevator regulations but they are focused on safety not efficiency. Incentives, such as a 10% cash back for a Tesla purchase in California, don’t exist at all.
As municipal demands grow to increase efficiency, in order to reduce peak energy costs, reduce carbon and encourage conservation, efficiency building codes for new buildings and for retrofits for large buildings will make such incentives critical. As cities evolve to accommodate more people, new ways to move around inside them opens up new kinds of architecture that is responsive to the needs of a varied community. Elevators won’t solve the problem. But the planners who will can’t do it without a modern means of interior transportation.