Adapting to Climate Change: Why Do It, and How to Begin?

Posted by Rachael Straub on Jun 7, 2017 10:00:00 AM

I appreciate NASA’s Global Climate Change website as a resource for scientific evidence of the existence of human-made climate change (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). The facts are simple, such as the rate of global sea level rise during the last two decades being nearly double that of the last century. Of course, the most telling fact is that the planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the beginning of global temperature record keeping (around 1890). Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Essentially every year is warmer than the year before and is the warmest year on record. That is, until the next year.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Community Engagement for Carbon Neutrality

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on May 10, 2017 10:00:00 AM

On Samsø Island in Denmark, Søren Hermansen led a community of 3,724 to achieve their zero-carbon goals in ten years. Today, every person on the island has a negative carbon footprint. What can cities in Vermont learn from Danish methodologies of stakeholder engagement so they can reach their carbon reduction goals?

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Renewable Energy Generation in the United States

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Mar 15, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Renewable energy resources – including solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass (any organic non-fossil material of biological origin), ocean thermal, wave action, and tidal action – are becoming a larger part of the American energy portfolio.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Is Typical Meteorological Data Relevant for Energy Analysis? (Part 1)

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Mar 1, 2017 10:00:00 AM

When we undertake energy analysis for commercial building energy retrofits, retro-commissioning, and even new construction projects, we normalize the energy savings to try to reflect average savings over the life of the measures.  For measures like HVAC upgrades, savings are usually weather-dependent.  The industry has used Typical Meteorological Year (TMY) data as the basis for weather normalization.  These TMY data are generated by the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) and include actual weather data that is determined by NREL to be representative of typical weather over time for each month.

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Topics: Sustainability, Evaluation Measurement & Verification (EM&

Heat Pumps Catered to Colder Climates; Will Increased U.S. Adoption Continue?

Posted by Gretchen Schimelpfenig on Feb 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM

The origin stories for heat pump technology are economic. Applying Lord Kelvin’s theory that disputed the concept that heat could only flow ‘downhill’, Peter von Rittinger turned an expensive wood-based salt processing enterprise into a money maker by using heat pumps to desiccate salt brine. In the 1970s during the oil embargo, modern heat pump sales increased by 500% as heating and cooling costs squeezed homeowners. The innovation of ductless heat pumps in Asia created an alternative to costly kerosene space heaters and PTAC units. The energy efficiency of heat pumps directly translates into financial savings; why does the U.S. market still pale in comparison to the rest of the globe (Figure 1)?

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

Football Stadiums and Energy Efficiency. Fantasy?

Posted by Katie Mason on Dec 21, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Given that we're solidly into football season, we thought it was a good time to revisit this post by Katie from last year about stadium energy efficiency. Enjoy.


Originally Posted November 12, 2015

After recently attending a New England Patriot’s football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, I was overwhelmed by the size of both the structure and the population density served during the four plus hours that the game is taking place. The relatively new Gillette Stadium is also a completely open configuration located in a cold climate. Unsurprisingly, my thoughts immediately turned to energy consumption and sustainability.

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

Winter Olympics 2050 — Dubai, UAE?

Posted by Ben Fowler on Dec 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I originally posted this in 2014. But, with Killington recently hosting a World Cup race in November, and given how much they relied on artificial snow, it seemed appropriate to bubble it back up. Snowmaking can be an extremely energy-intensive activity. With fewer solidly snowy winters, can skiing be sustainable [PDF]?

-Ben

The 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia are located at one of the warmest locations in the history of the games. Setting aside for now the slow creep of a warming climate, Sochi, located at the eastern shores of the Black Sea, is a humid subtropical climate with an average winter temperature of around 50F during the day and still above freezing at night. In the higher elevations in the nearby Caucasus Mountains, where the events are taking place, daytime temperatures still average above freezing during the day. So, while it is a far better location for the actual “winter” portion of the games than the palm-tree-lined streets of the city of Sochi proper, it still is not the ideal location to host the Winter Games.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

LED Lighting as the Future of Demand Management

Posted by Jennifer Chiodo on Nov 30, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I had hoped to share my recent sci-fi story about future decisions that might need to be made around a demand-constrained grid in the era of extreme heat waves and self-driving electric vehicles.  But, fiction is not the point of this blog.  If you want to receive a copy of the story, feel free to request it – we monitor comments.  In this post, I’ll discuss a little of the back-and-forth we’ve been having regarding the New England Grid [PDF] and demand constraints. 

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Topics: Sustainability, Energy Efficiency

HFC Refrigerants Are on the Way Out

Posted by Ben Fowler on Nov 7, 2016 12:00:00 PM

An Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

Last month, representatives from over 170 nations gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to negotiate and ultimately agree to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol—the landmark international treaty, signed in the late 1980’s, which led to the phase-out of the manufacture and use of ozone-layer-depleting chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants (CFCs). The 2016 amendment focused on phasing out hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) which, while safer for the ozone-layer than CFCs, are themselves very powerful greenhouse gasses with far more global warming potential than CO2.

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

Saving New York City from Rising Sea Levels

Posted by Eveline Killian on Oct 26, 2016 12:00:00 PM

I fell asleep to a TED Talk while visiting New York City the other night, but a startling statement brought me back to consciousness.  New studies predict the oceans could rise by close to two meters (more than six feet) by the end of the century.  That’s double original estimates and only 83 years from now - in our kids’ or at least our grandkids’ lifetimes!

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Topics: Sustainability, Public Policy

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