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Future Building: customização em massa de moradias sustentáveis

Future Building: customização em massa de moradias sustentáveis | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Customização em massa de moradias com baixo consumo de energia e mínima emissão de CO2.
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SustentabilidadeDigital.eco.br

SustentabilidadeDigital.eco.br | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Confira novidades sobre sustentabilidade no melhor poral sustentável
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Google Makes Two More Wind and Solar Investments, Bringing Total Spend to $1.5B

Google Makes Two More Wind and Solar Investments, Bringing Total Spend to $1.5B | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Here are some of the stories we’re reading this morning.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

We’re barely three weeks into 2015, and Google has already disclosed two substantial investments in renewable energy projects.

The total so far: more than $1.5 billion.

The most recent transaction (its 19th so far) will see the Internet giant put $76 million into the Balko Wind project in Oklahoma, according to a Google spokesman. Google is part of several companies putting tax equity financing into the 300-megawatt wind farm. (The others include General Electric Capital, Band of America Merrill Lynch, and Citi.)

New York Times: On to Plan B as Oil Work Stalls in Texas

With oil prices plummeting by more than 50 percent since June, the gleeful mood of recent years has turned glum here in West Texas as the frenzy of shale oil drilling has come to a screeching halt.

Every day, oil companies are decommissioning rigs and announcing layoffs. Small companies that lease equipment have fallen behind in their payments.

In response, businesses and workers are bracing for the worst.

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Proposed sustainability goals take water solutions to next level

Proposed sustainability goals take water solutions to next level | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Sustainable Development Goals to be considered for adoption this year strive to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

The Millennium Development Goals (PDF) came to a close in 2014 and the Sustainable Development Goals will be launched in 2015. Here’s where we landed with regards to water-related MDGs:

Access to “improved drinking water” was provided to about 2.3 billion people.The goal of halving the number of people without access to improved drinking water was achieved in 2010.In 2012, 89 percent of the global population had access to an improved water source, up from 76 percent in 1990.

Clearly progress has been made but there is much more to do.

This is where SDGs come in. The “Open Working Group proposal for Sustainable Development” report (PDF) was released last year and will be considered for adoption this year. This time around there is a dedicated goal (Goal 6) to “ensure available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

The draft SDGs for water are:

6.1  By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all6.2  By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women, girls and those in vulnerable situations6.3  By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and increasing recycling and safe reuse by [x] percent globally6.4  By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suff­ering from water scarcity6.5  By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate6.6  By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes6.a  By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies6.b  Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management
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9 exciting green technologies from CES 2015

9 exciting green technologies from CES 2015 | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
2degrees' Stephen Kennett went to the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show. Here's the coolest green tech he found.
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1. Smart scooter

It's described as the world's first "smart scooter" and has been developed to meet the challenges of rapidly expanding cities. The Gogoro Smartscooter is a zero emissions, electric powered two-wheeler designed to be both user-friendly and accessible to the mass market.

One of the big selling points is that riders won't need to wait to refuel or recharge it. The company has announced plans for the Gogoro Energy Network, a battery swapping infrastructure. That means when the lithium ion cells become depleted, users can make a six-second swap at any GoStation for a fully charged battery pack. Batteries can be reserved in advance, and a subscription-based payment model offers unlimited access to as many charged batteries as needed.

The Smartscooter is packed with 30 onboard sensors, cloud connectivity and an integrated Gogoro mobile application that enables the scooter to find the closest GoStation, deliver detailed scooter diagnostics, customized regenerative braking and track ride details.

2. Electronic 'undershoes'

Could strapping a pair of these to your feet be an answer to curbing urban congestion? Given that most traffic moves at an amble, this product from French company Rollkers is claimed to increase a person's average walking speed to up to 7 mph. Company founder Paul Chavand, conceived the idea based largely on the magic feeling he experienced when using the "travelator" or the moving walkway traditionally found in airports.

As he deemed it unfeasible to equip an entire city with travelators, he inverted the problem and focused on integrating the technology into footwear. "People drive and take public transportation that pollutes the air and environment with nasty emissions; and Rollkers helps to reduce that to some extent," he said.

The product is expected to be available for licensees in late 2015.

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The clean vehicle revolution in the United States

The clean vehicle revolution in the United States | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Published in partnership with       By Kristin Meek | 6 January 2015 The Clean Vehicle Revolution: Driving Fuel Savings and Emissions Reductions in the United States A new …
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The Clean Vehicle Revolution: Driving Fuel Savings and Emissions Reductions in the United States

A new WRI study finds that there are many “win-win” opportunities for the United States to reduce emissions and save money for consumers and businesses. Over the coming weeks, our blog series, Lower Emissions, Brighter Economy, will evaluate these opportunities across five key areas—power generation, electricity consumption, passenger vehicles, natural gas systems, and hydrofluorocarbons—which together represent 55 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

———————————————-

Americans are on the road to greener vehicles. Over the last five years, the number of SUV models getting at least 25 miles per gallon (mpg) has doubled, while the number of car models achieving at least 40 mpg has increased sevenfold. By 2025, cars and light trucks will be almost twice as efficient as new cars are today, thanks to recent greenhouse gas and fuel economy standardsfrom the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT). These lower fuel costs are expected to save drivers an average $3,400 to $5,000 over the life of the vehicle, compared with 2016 cars and trucks.

A greener fleet of vehicles is also good news for the planet, as passenger cars and light trucks account for about 16.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows that new policies can drive efficient vehicle use even further, lowering emissions and saving consumers money.

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Brazilian biologist Alex Bager - An app to save 400 million animals

Brazilian biologist Alex Bager  -  An app to save 400 million animals | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

Wildlife and Habitat Conservation News

Digital Sustainability's insight:

Brazilian biologist Alex Bager has been leading a crusade to raise awareness of a major but neglected threat to biodiversity in his country.

Every year over 475 million animals die in Brazil as victims of roadkill, according to an estimate by Centro Brasileiro de Ecologia de Estradas (the Brazilian Centre for the Study of Road Ecology) or CBEE, an initiative funded and coordinated by Bager. This means 15 animals are run down every second on Brazilian roads and highways.

"The numbers are really scary and we need people to know about them," Bager said.

To register cases of roadkill throughout the country, Bager came up with the idea of an app, now used by thousands of citizen scientists. And a national day of action in November saw hundreds of volunteers participate in events to highlight the impact of roadkill on biodiversity.

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Smarter charging, load leveling can save $10,000 a month in electricity costs

Smarter charging, load leveling can save $10,000 a month in electricity costs | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
General Electric leads a New York program that can help level off charging-station electricity demand to cut utility costs.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Longtime electric-vehicle drivers will tell you that, when it comes maximizing efficiency while driving, smoothness counts. And it looks like the same goes for the electricity of the buildings charging those vehicles. Which is why General Electric is running a pilot program of plug-in vehicle chargers in New York, Wired reports.

GE is working with Con Edison and Columbia University researchers to develop a plug-in charging system that can forecast peak electricity usage times of certain buildings and then – and this is the trick – adjust car-charging levels accordingly. For instance, weather patterns and upcoming holidays will be factored into projected electricity use. Knowing the highest energy usage is important because a building's monthly electricity bill is impacted by peak-level use, not just total use. Since peak-level electricity is more expensive for utilities to procure. GE says its program for leveling off electricity use may save a building where 100 plug-ins are plugged in by as much as $10,000 a month, this is especially true for larger structures in New York City. GE is running the pilot program at five plug-in vehicle charging stations at a FedEx delivery-truck depot in New York City as well as at upstate New York's GE Research Center headquarters.

"Smarter" electric-vehicle charging systems have been topical as plug-in vehicle sales have grown. Earlier this year, General Motors led a group of eight automakers that worked with utilities such as DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric to develop charging systems where vehicles can "communicate" with each other to level off demands on the grid.

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LOréal ya trigenera con biomasa y fotovoltaica en España

LOréal ya trigenera con biomasa y fotovoltaica en España | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
LOréal ya trigenera con biomasa y fotovoltaica en España - Energías Renovables, el periodismo de las energías limpias.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Sol y biomasa forestal residual de bosques y aserraderos. Estos son los “alimentos” del innovador sistema de trigeneración renovable que la empresa de cosméticos L’Oréal inauguró la pasada semana en su fábrica de Villalonquéjar (Burgos). Según fuentes de la compañía, es la primera vez en España que una instalación de estas características abastecerá de vapor, agua caliente, agua fría y electricidad a una fábrica, es decir, que cubrirá el 100% de sus necesidades energéticas. Eroski lleva a cabo una iniciativa similar, solo con biomasa y en una de sus tiendas, dentro del proyecto europeo LifeZeroStore.


Como ya recogió este portal, LifeZeroStore es un proyecto Life a tres años (concluye en 2016) que suma las tecnologías de biomasa, absorción y cogeneración y el de L’Oreál es ya un realidad industrial y comercial. Representantes de la empresa, municipales y el presidente de la Junta de Castilla y León, Juan Vicente Herrera, se encargaron de destacar el carácter pionero de una instalación que ha supuesto una inversión de 14,5 millones de euros. Biocen, empresa encargada de la concepción, construcción y gestión, y formada por Cenit Solar y la Sociedad Pública de Infraestructuras y Medio Ambiente de Castilla y León (Somacyl), ha aportado el montante principal: 12 millones de euros.


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Drones to aid conservation efforts in India

Drones to aid conservation efforts in India | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Earlier this year, technology came to the aid of India’s endangered wildlife, where human intervention had proved inadequate. For the first time, drones were used to track the movement of tigers that had radio collars at the Panna Tiger Reserve, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

In the past, Panna has faced a severe poaching problem, leading to the disappearance of all tigers from the reserve in 2009. It is now hoped that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will also help vulnerable park officials keep an eye on armed poachers.
    
After the success of the Panna pilot project, the Indian Government is considering the use of drones in 10 other protected areas rich in biodiversity by early 2015. These include the Sunderbans in West Bengal, the Himalayan foothills, the Western ghats and the Andaman islands.

For the Panna initiative, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) joined hands with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a US-based company called Conservation Drones, and the Wildlife
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Engineers develop algorithms to switch out and recharge battery modules in electric cars

Engineers develop algorithms to switch out and recharge battery modules in electric cars | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

Imagine being able to switch out the batteries in electric cars just like you switch out batteries in a photo camera or flashlight. A team of engineers at the University of California, San Diego, are trying to accomplish just that, in partnership with a local San Diego engineering company.

Rather than swapping out the whole battery, which is cumbersome and requires large, heavy equipment, engineers plan to swap out and recharge smaller units within the battery, known as modules. They named the project Modular Battery Exchange and Active Management, or M-BEAM for short (http://www.modularexchange.com).

Engineers have already purchased and converted a car, a 2002 four-door Volkswagen Golf. They also built all the modules for one of the two battery packs they plan to use and are now looking for sponsors for their project, including companies or individuals that appreciate the benefits of having small exchangeable battery modules in an electric vehicle.


A snapshot of the inside of the Volkwagen Golf researchers outfitted with battery modules for their planned cross-country trip.
“This is a game-changing technology,” said Lou Shrinkle, an electrical engineer who is one of the major sponsors of the project. “This idea may seem straightforward, but there were some tough technical challenges that we had to solve to make this system robust and practical.”

Swapping battery modules could also have far-reaching implications for mobile and decentralized electrical energy storage systems such as solar backup and portable generators. The technology can make energy storage more configurable, promote safety, simplify maintenance and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels for these applications, Shrinkle pointed out

Engineers not only believe that their approach is viable, but also plan to prove it. They will embark on a cross-cou

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Toshiba To Provide Fast-Charging Batteries For Proterra

Toshiba To Provide Fast-Charging Batteries For Proterra | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Toshiba’s Rapid Recharge SCiB battery has been selected by Proterra to power their next generation of fully electric buses. Using a lithium-titanate chemistry, the SCiB batteries are resistant to thermal-runaway and yet can be rapidly recharged and discharged with minimal capacity loss over 10,000 cycles.

The promise of fully electric buses is one of zero
Digital Sustainability's insight:

The promise of fully electric buses is one of zero emissions, renewable energy, and a whole lot less noise. Proterra is introducing electric buses one American city at a time, doing battle withChina’s BYD for control of the electric public transit market, and both companies will need a lot of batteries to get by. BYD is building its own batteries, but Proterra needs to source them from a third party. Enter Toshiba and its SCiB batteries.

“With a rapid recharge capability and outstanding life performance, Toshiba’s SCiB battery is ideally suited for zero-emission public transit,” said Greg Mack, Vice President of Toshiba International Corporation’s (TIC) Power Electronics Division. “Toshiba has decades of experience in transportation and we see the SCiB battery as key to expanding environmentally-friendly modes of transportation with optimum power performance in North America.”

Proterra’s electric buses can be topped off in just ten minutes, and the massive battery banks and quick recharging mean these buses can cover as much as 700 miles in a 24 hour period. Proterra has been signing contracts in cities both big (Nashville, TN) and small (West Covina, CA) in a bid to make it the eminent electric bus maker. With SCiB batteries on board, the big battery banks can go from 0% to 80% full in just six minutes.

“Because safety and performance are paramount to Proterra, we are very deliberate in each part we select for our buses, putting vendors through a rigorous qualification process,” said Proterra Inc. CEO, Ryan Popple. “Battery quality is critical to the performance of Electric Vehicles; partnering with a world-class team like Toshiba and utilizing SCiB technology will enable Proterra to offer its customers the highest-performance, safest, and most reliable urban transit vehicles.”

 
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A Smart Phone-Friendly Portable Solar Charger That Apple Addicts Can Luv, Too

A Smart Phone-Friendly Portable Solar Charger That Apple Addicts Can Luv, Too | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
We've been testing a few portable solar chargers lately and this nifty little
Digital Sustainability's insight:
A Range Anxiety Solution for Portable Solar Chargers

Think of the wall-charging feature as a range anxiety solution for portable solar chargers. Even if your solar exposure at home (or work, or wherever) isn’t so great, you can still get part of your charge from the sun, then top off the Sun Power Pad with a wall charger if you want to have a full battery while you’re on the go.

Even on a partial charge, the Sun Power Pad portable solar charger is quite handy. We couldn’t wait to try it out, so instead of sticking around for a full charge we dashed out of the house with a cell phone in the red zone at a 12 percent, plugged into the solar charger which showed only two bars on its four-bar display.

Within less than an hour, the cell phone was back up to the 80 percent range, which was more than enough to get through the day. If you decide to try this at home, keep an ears open for another handy feature: you’ll hear a little buzz when the Sun Power Pad has run out of juice, so you know when you can unplug.

A Smart Phone-Friendly Portable Solar Charger For AppleHeads

We learn something new every time we try a new solar device, no matter how simple it looks. In this case, we learned that the world does not revolve around Apple, and that you should empty out the entire contents of the box before you start pouting.

When our Sun Power Pad arrived on our doorstep there was a bit of an initial letdown, because the input port for the wall charger is not compatible with iPhones.

But, sunny days returned as soon as we shook everything out of the box. Secur Productspacks the Sun Power Pad 3000 with its own compatible cable, which you can connect to any USB wall plug, iPhone or no iPhone.

Just a heads up, a USB wall plug is not included in the package, probably because Secur assumes you already have at least one on hand for your other devices. If you don’t, you probably someone you know has like six or eight extra ones lying around.

 

 

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Sales of electric motorcycles, scooters will reach 55 million in next decade

Sales of electric motorcycles, scooters will reach 55 million in next decade | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
55 million electric motorcycles, electric scooters will be sold between 2014 and 2023, Navigant Research says.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Current and future electric motorcycle and e-scooter makers are hoping that global sales of the two-wheeled plug-ins take off as quickly as their electric-powered bikes. Numbers collected by Navigant Research should give those companies a bit of hope. The research firm says the e-motorcycle and e-scooter market is ready to surge as component prices drop while gas prices continue to rise.

Navigant says about 55 million plug-in two-wheelers will be sold within the next decade. And while China now accounts for all but two percent of global e-cycle and e-scooter sales, demand is expected to pick up in other regions, i.e., North America and Europe. That spells good news for both existing e-bike makers like Brammo and future purveyors like Harley-Davidson. In June, Harley announced its first electric motorcyclecalled the Livewire. Harley started showcasing a concept version of the bike at 30 dealers along Route 66 this summer.

It looks like Brammo wants to make a chunk of those 55 million unit sales happen sooner than later. The Oregon-based electric motorcycle maker just started a late-summer promotion that cut prices across the board. Prices on Brammo's Empulse and Enertia lines were cut by anywhere from $4,000 to $6,995. Take a look at Navigant's press release below.

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Twelve themes to inform crucial decisions in 2015

Twelve themes to inform crucial decisions in 2015 | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
James Goodman and David Bent of Forum for the Future explore twelve themes to ensure decision makers recognise the clusters of opportunities coming to light. "History is … an unending dialogue between the present and the past" E. H. Carr Just as our view of the past is always changing, so does our view of the future. New evidence comes to light; public attitudes shift; new technologies emerge. A key difference is that there is nothing we can do to change the past, but we can still shape the future. To rethink and transform the way the world works, we must create ‘an unending dialogue’ between the present and the future. We must bring the long view into our actions today. This means keeping track of long-term trends and signals of change that might help us identify opportunities to make better decisions for a sustainable future.
Digital Sustainability's insight:
Forum for the Future's new annual publication, Green Futures: The Long View, presents twelve themes that are grounded in present-day change: they bring together the issues and dilemmas that Forum for the Future’s Network of over 100 organisations across the world (and many others beside) are grappling with day to day. We know about these challenges because we are working with our Network members on them – whether their primary concern is the future of retail in the US, opportunities for energy innovation in India, or the global nutrition agenda. - See more at: http://www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/twelve-themes-inform-crucial-decisions-2015#sthash.b3NcsxIC.dpuf Increasing pressure for change

1. Rising inequality creating tensions

2. Expectations of global governance

3. From radical to ultra-transparency

4. Brands in the firing line

5. Volatility in the global economy

6. The circular economy adds value

7. The sharing economy matures

8. The internet of things comes home

9. Bioeconomy offers solutions

10. Renewable energy at tipping point

11. Beyond the constraints of shareholder value

12. Collaboration recognised as transformative

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EBJ Ranks Top Environmental C&E Firms

EBJ Ranks Top Environmental C&E Firms | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

The US environmental consulting and engineering industry generated revenues of $28.34 billion in 2013, down 1.5 percent compared to 2012, according to Environmental Business Journal...

Digital Sustainability's insight:

The US environmental consulting and engineering industry generated revenues of $28.34 billion in 2013, down 1.5 percent compared to 2012, according to Environmental Business Journal’s annual review.

EBJ’s preliminary estimate shows a return to growth of 1-2 percent for 2014 and 3-4 percent for 2015 based on revenues of more than 600 firms. Revenues are estimated at $28.6 billion in 2014.

EBJ’s annual C&E industry edition includes a proprietary ranking of 44 C&E firms by environmental revenues, led by CH2M Hill, AECOM Technology, URS Corporation, Tetra Tech and Golder Associates.

The report says the loss of US federal government business was the biggest factor in the slowed 2013 growth. The federal market for environmental C&E services declined by 9 percent in 2013, while the state and local government market decreased by 3 percent. By contrast, the private-sector market-spurred by energy, power and even land development-increased by 5 percent.

Improved numbers in 2014-15 will be driven by abundant oil and gas production in the US and Canada, facilitated by new technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydrological fracturing (fracking). EBJ research confirms that shale gale has been a big plus for the environmental C&E industry, not just in terms of direct business with upstream and midstream oil & gas clients but also with resurgent manufacturing and industrial clients that are benefiting from low oil and gas prices.

EBJ expects the federal market to decline in 2014, and few firms expect any bounce-back in 2015.

For the second consecutive year CH2M Hill and Tetra Tech lead the global environmental consultancy market, which saw a 0.8 percent decrease to stand at $28.7 billion in 2013, according to the latest research by Environment Analyst published earlier this week.



Read more: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2015/01/16/ebj-ranks-top-environmental-ce-firms/#ixzz3PGvmga2G

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Brazil crops still at risk a year after epic drought

Brazil crops still at risk a year after epic drought | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

 

ust a year after a record drought hit southeastern Brazil, the region is once again facing water worries, as meteorologists warn it should expect just half of its normal amount of rainfall this winter.

Drinking-water, electricity supplies and crop production are all at risk, as the less than expected rainfall will put further pressure on nearly depleted reservoirs.

January should be the region’s rainiest month.

But an atmospheric blockage is preventing cold air from advancing in the area. The results; the heavy rainfall expected at this time of year has been replaced by limited, scattered showers.

This could greatly affect farming in Brazil, which is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, sugar, soy and beef.

Brazil’s center west soy belt, another important crop for the nation, has also been hit with irregular rainfall, according to local weather forecasters.

The lack of rain could also create power problems for Brazil.

Brazil relies on hydro-electricity for more than two-thirds of its electricity needs and southeastern Brazil is responsible for 70%

of the country’s hydroelectric generation.

Last year southeastern Brazil experienced record heat and drought, the most severe in at least 80 years, wiping out as much as a third of the region’s crops.

This has resulted in dramatically rising prices for products like arabica coffee, which has gone up in price by 50% globally.

Last year’s drought in Brazil also presented a dangerous threat to its largest city, Sao Paulo, when its water reservoirs reached a record low of 10.7% capacity. These reservoirs typically supply 45% of the water to the city’s 9 million inhabitants.

Scientists are exploring the possibility that megadroughts could become more common as a result of climate change.

This could lead to serious health risks for the population of Brazil, and impact both the local and world economies, which rely on exports of Brazilian agricultural products.

The current rainfall blockage is expected to break by 24 January, according to meteorologists, but it is unlikely that additional precipitation following the drought will bring the region back to historic norms, setting the stage for another year of troubling drought conditions for Brazil.

  

- See more at: http://tcktcktck.org/2015/01/brazil-crops-still-risk-year-epic-drought/66005#sthash.FqpKMbY1.dpuf - See more at: http://tcktcktck.org/2015/01/brazil-crops-still-risk-year-epic-drought/66005#sthash.FqpKMbY1.dpufSoutheastern Brazil is expected to receive only half of its normal amount of rainfall this winter, threatening crop production.

Digital Sustainability's insight:

ust a year after a record drought hit southeastern Brazil, the region is once again facing water worries, as meteorologists warn it should expect just half of its normal amount of rainfall this winter.

Drinking-water, electricity supplies and crop production are all at risk, as the less than expected rainfall will put further pressure on nearly depleted reservoirs.

 

January should be the region’s rainiest month.

 

But an atmospheric blockage is preventing cold air from advancing in the area. The results; the heavy rainfall expected at this time of year has been replaced by limited, scattered showers.

 

This could greatly affect farming in Brazil, which is the world’s largest exporter of coffee, sugar, soy and beef.

 

Brazil’s center west soy belt, another important crop for the nation, has also been hit with irregular rainfall, according to local weather forecasters.

 

The lack of rain could also create power problems for Brazil.

Brazil relies on hydro-electricity for more than two-thirds of its electricity needs and southeastern Brazil is responsible for 70%

of the country’s hydroelectric generation.

 

Last year southeastern Brazil experienced record heat and drought, the most severe in at least 80 years, wiping out as much as a third of the region’s crops.

 

This has resulted in dramatically rising prices for products like arabica coffee, which has gone up in price by 50% globally.

 

Last year’s drought in Brazil also presented a dangerous threat to its largest city, Sao Paulo, when its water reservoirs reached a record low of 10.7% capacity. These reservoirs typically supply 45% of the water to the city’s 9 million inhabitants.

 

Scientists are exploring the possibility that megadroughts could become more common as a result of climate change.

 

This could lead to serious health risks for the population of Brazil, and impact both the local and world economies, which rely on exports of Brazilian agricultural products.

 

The current rainfall blockage is expected to break by 24 January, according to meteorologists, but it is unlikely that additional precipitation following the drought will bring the region back to historic norms, setting the stage for another year of troubling drought conditions for Brazil.

 
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Imagining sustainability in 2030: Smart farms to super batteries

Imagining sustainability in 2030: Smart farms to super batteries | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Sure green technology is already humming along — but just wait for a future driven by urban data, natural capital and collaboration.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Sure, 2014 saw its share of forward-thinking business investments and new, collaborative models in sustainability fields ranging from advanced agriculture to renewable energy.

The year ahead, too, is already shaping up to be momentous for technologies, new business models and public policy related to transportation, green buildings and Big Data in all manner of industries.

That brings us to our third and final installment of a series marking the beginning of a New Year for VERGE, where we focus on the unprecedented market openings and opportunities for progress at the nexus of business, the environment and society.

After asking a collection of speakers and presenters at past VERGE events what they saw as the biggest achievements of 2014 and biggest opportunities coming down the pike in 2015, we posed a longer-range question: Where will the conversation be in 2030?

From scaling clean energy solutions to bringing promising technologies to bear, here's what they had to say on issues such as smart grids, connected vehicles and natural capital.

1. Smart grids: Linchpin of the 21st century built environment

Michael McCormick, senior policy advisor, California and Washington, D.C.

What technology could make the biggest difference by 2030? Energy.

 

  

Technological improvements in how energy is produced, stored and conveyed is at the infancy of where it could be in 15 years. Yes, policy and politics needs to catch up with the technology that is currently available. But the technology we will have in 2030 to do these things has not even been envisioned yet.

Energy is what runs society, and if we can transcend politics and policy that limit our ability to innovate and scale the innovations that are most beneficial to society, we will do amazing things and live in a world that is cleaner and safer. The added bonus is that the side benefit of this innovation will be that society will be less likely to experience the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change.

David Friedberg, CEO, The Climate Corporation

 

  

Four things:

1. Thorium nuclear power, which is still nearly impossible to be in commercial use by 2030. 

2. Room temperature superconductors, which is also still very speculative, but could change everything from transmission loss to energy storage.

3. Optimal automated agriculture systems (likely and an easy win) 

4. Vegetarian preference diets increase by 30-plus percent, which is likely to become a necessity in parts of the world.

  

Matthew Nordan, co-founder and managing partner, MNL Partners

A nuclear resurgence, driven by a cost-down based on Chinese reactor standardization and the rise of small modular reactors.

We already have carbon-free baseload power; we just aren’t deploying it.

Rob Threlkeld, manager, renewable energy, global environmental compliance & sustainability, General Motors

 

  

Enhanced solar technologies that improve solar capacity factors beyond 30 percent to 40 percent, plus the development of see-through window solar panels.

This breakthrough will allow large-scale solar development of urban cities where windows are abundant. Windows that generate electricity for buildings. Reducing HVAC costs can also improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Doubling down on natural capital

 

  

Paul Hawken, author, activist and project director, Project Drawdown

What would make the biggest difference is changing dirt back into soil.

Carbon sequestration using sophisticated grazing, no-till, pasture-cropping techniques would outstrip any other technology in terms of its impact on climate change.

Tensie Whelan, president, Rainforest Alliance

The importance of stopping deforestation by 2030 — as the U.N. Climate Summit’s New York Declaration on Forests envisions — can’t be overstated. It would be the GHG equivalent of taking all the world’s cars off the road, or eliminating all U.S. emissions. Saving forests protects the climate, water and biodiversity.

 

  

The big drivers of deforestation, such as cattle ranching in the Amazon, will be transformed in the next 15 years. Global demand is rising, so ... we have to intensify cattle production on existing ranchland. At the same time, we need to recognize that there’s no such thing as zero-deforestation in forest products supply chains. But we can get to net-zero deforestation — the key word being “net” — by doing the right things.

If you’re going to source or buy forest products, you need to support the producers who are protecting high-value areas and managing their working forests sustainably, and replanting for the future. We can’t get to net-zero by simply outlawing logging and put communities that depend on forest-based livelihoods out of work.

My hope and belief is that by 2030 those nuances will be widely understood. Businesses, governments and consumers will get behind both sides of the equation: enforcing bans on destructive logging, and supporting the producers who are doing forestry right. That will get us to net zero deforestation.

Connectivity

Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day; president and CEO, The Bullitt Foundation

 

  

By 2030, the lion’s share of new electrical generating capacity will come from efficient, flexible, affordable solar technologies that cover much of the built environment the way that photosynthetic materials cover all of the natural environment.

They will be linked in resilient, hack-proof smart grids with sophisticated control mechanisms, and they will also have huge amounts of distributed storage scattered throughout the system — much of it in grid-connected electric vehicles.

Susan Shaheen, co-director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center and adjunct professor, UC Berkeley

 

  

What will have made a major difference is the ability to give travelers real-time, targeted information that empower them with choices that fit their mobility needs. Part of that is targeted incentives and seizing gamification opportunities.

This will require the seamless integration of many technologies and services, data sharing and public policy to encourage shared mobility — including public transit — as viable alternatives to solo driving.


 

Darrell Smith, director of facilities and energy, Microsoft

I would expect to see an integrated or interoperable nation with a cloud infrastructure, where “new” services enhance life’s user experience.

That would likely have a substantial impact on the environment.

New business models and collaboration

Brook Porter, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

 

  

In 2030, I think we’ll look back and realize that long-term financing was the key to unlocking the potential for technologies to reach the market in energy.

We’re used to buying energy on a unit basis and view it as OpEx, whether as consumers or businesses. CapEx businesses — which by nature all startups in energy begin as — inherently have more friction, harder sales, tougher financing requirements, etc.

Crowdfunding, REITS, peer-to-peer lending, Yield-Co’s, PPA’s … this is where innovation in business models (enabled by mobile, cloud, etc.) is unlocking massive growth potential today. If that engine gets going, new technologies will have a much better chance of getting to market. Oh, and a price on carbon would help too.

Elizabeth Baca, senior health advisor, California Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Looking forward to 2030, I would like to see thriving communities that sustain themselves, or perhaps even have a generative capacity.

 

  

As we think about the forces to create healthy, resilient places, I believe the most important development to get us there is our ability to think more creatively and collaboratively to solve the problems at hand. It is something I am seeing more and more, and it is inspiring.

I always go back to my favorite quote from Albert Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." Now more then ever, we need to work together. The data, the technology, and the policies are vital tools to move it forward, but it starts with a vision and requires every single individual coming together in ways that we have not before.

Bina Venkataraman, director, global policy initiatives, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard

 

  

Partnerships are likely to drive the biggest leaps of the next 15 years. Think of companies working with communities and policymakers to break through barriers to getting technologies in place that will cut carbon emissions or improve the resilience of our food system to weather disruptions.

We are building a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces lie in disparate sectors. Until we connect them, they are less than the sum of their parts. When organizations share a common vision and bring the pieces together, the picture can be transformative.

Thinking big

Mark “Puck” Mykleby, senior fellow, Smart Strategy Initiative, New America Foundation

First, in order to imagine 2030, I have to imagine that I’m a grandpa. That means I have some serious skin in the game. I’d better get my butt in gear because we have GOT to get it right.

 

  

That said, I'll refer you to my hope for 2015 as described previously to identify what I think the biggest, most impactful trend will be to get us to our next “good place” in 2030: It’s going to be when we, American citizens, figure out what the American dream looks like in the 21st century — that this new American dream has the logic of sustainability at its core. It’s OUR task — no one else’s — to begin the hard work of our age to make the dream a reality.

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Chip-Making Tools Produce Ultra-Efficient Solar Cell

Chip-Making Tools Produce Ultra-Efficient Solar Cell | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Equipment for making microchips has led to solar cells that are twice as efficient as conventional ones.
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a French manufacturing company, says it has used techniques designed for making microprocessors to produce solar cells with a record-setting efficiency of 46 percent, converting more than twice as much sunlight into electricity as conventional cells.

Although the cells are more complicated to produce, using established manufacturing techniques promises to keep production costs down.

Ordinary solar cells use one semiconductor to convert sunlight into electricity. The cells made by Soitec have four semiconductors, each designed to target a different part of the solar spectrum. Soitec produced its first four-semiconductor cell about a year ago. Since then, it’s been improving efficiencies rapidly, and it looks on track to be the first company to hit the long-awaited milestone of 50 percent efficiency.

Over the last several years, the costs of solar power have come down by over 80 percent, mostly because companies have found cheaper ways to manufacture conventional silicon solar cells. But solar power is still more expensive than fossil fuels in most places.

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New Solar Cell Can Handle The Force Of 1,000 Suns

New Solar Cell Can Handle The Force Of 1,000 Suns | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Why are some of these new concentrating solar cell systems reminding us of the Eye of Sauron? Just wondering, because the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is out with a new solar cell specially designed for use in concentrating solar systems. The lab has already demonstrated the new solar cell at 700 suns concentration, and it
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NREL’s new solar cell is a multijunction type, which is fancyspeak for a solar cell made of layers, typically two or three.

Each layer is a different material. The topmost material is the most efficient as measured by its bandgap, and the lower layers have steadily decreasing bandgaps.

The layered effect lets multijunction cells skip over the theoretical limit for single junction cells, which is about 33.5 percent. According to the Energy Department, when exposed to concentrated sunlight a good multijunction cell can reach more than 43 percent.

After the 43 percent mark it’s a matter of incremental improvements, the challenge being to integrate different materials into a single, complex unit while maintaining their most efficient characteristics.

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The Next Gen App for Curbing Your Transportation Emissions

The Next Gen App for Curbing Your Transportation Emissions | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

Save time, travel costs and carbon? Yup, there’s an app for that: TripGo. It’s already being used in over 50 major metropolitan cities around the globe to streamline commuting times, travel itineraries and intelligently lower travel emissions.

Created by the Australian-based company SkedGo, the underlying sustainability focus of the TripGo app is designed to reinforce the need for smarter, cleaner and resource friendly transportation methods, i.e., smart cars, electric vehicles, improved mass transit infrastructure, bicycle commuting, ride shares, etc.

Because according to the latest findings in, A Global High Shift Scenario, the report released last month by the Institute for Transportation and the University of California, “Transportation, driven by rapid-growth in car use, has been the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world.”

So whether you’re trying to shave minutes off of your daily commute, or taking a vacation in an unfamiliar city, TripGo automatically plans trips to, from and between events in your calendar, and smartly proposes the least carbon-intensive connections using your personal transport preferences.

Save time, travel costs and carbon? Yup, there’s an app for that: TripGo. It’s already being used in over 50 major metropolitan cities around the globe to streamline commuting times, travel itineraries and intelligently lower travel emissions. Created by the Australian-based company SkedGo, the underlying sustainability focus of the TripGo app is designed to reinforceRead More
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Save time, travel costs and carbon? Yup, there’s an app for that: TripGo. It’s already being used in over 50 major metropolitan cities around the globe to streamline commuting times, travel itineraries and intelligently lower travel emissions.

Created by the Australian-based company SkedGo, the underlying sustainability focus of the TripGo app is designed to reinforce the need for smarter, cleaner and resource friendly transportation methods, i.e., smart cars, electric vehicles, improved mass transit infrastructure, bicycle commuting, ride shares, etc.

Because according to the latest findings in, A Global High Shift Scenario, the report released last month by the Institute for Transportation and the University of California, “Transportation, driven by rapid-growth in car use, has been the fastest growing source of CO2 in the world.”

So whether you’re trying to shave minutes off of your daily commute, or taking a vacation in an unfamiliar city, TripGo automatically plans trips to, from and between events in your calendar, and smartly proposes the least carbon-intensive connections using your personal transport preferences.

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Architects Design Cardboard Carrier to Improve City Cycling

Architects Design Cardboard Carrier to Improve City Cycling | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Courtesy of Packtasche There’s no denying that biking is one of the biggest trends in urban development right now, with many touting cycling as the
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There’s no denying that biking is one of the biggest trends in urban development right now, with many touting cycling as the solution to reducing pollution and congestion – not to mention its health benefits. As cities are focusing on what they can do to encourage cycling and make their streets bike-friendly, architects have played a critical role in ushering bikes into the city, designing everything from  protected cycle lanes to elaborate elevated cycletracks. Yet after cycling in Vienna for eight years, two architecture students decided to take a different – and simpler – approach to improving biking conditions. Focusing on the often cumbersome task of trying to run errands while on a bike, Philipp Moherndl and Matthias Lechner have designed a lightweight, recyclable cardboard pannier that can seamlessly go from store to bike.

“Due to the mass appeal of the bike, conventional cycling accessories do not fit the lifestyle of many urban cyclists,” Moherndl and Lechner told ArchDaily. “The limited transport capacity of usual bicycles makes shopping difficult and inflexible. People often do their shopping spontaneously, on their way home or whilst cycling in the city. Therefore we wanted to come up with a more flexible solution: a multi-use bag for bicycles, which is low priced and environmentally-friendly.”

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Copenhagen’s New LED Bus Stops

Copenhagen’s New LED Bus Stops | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
a
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Here’s another ingenious and practical infrastructure story from our mentor in all things bicycle and mass transit, Copenhagen. Safety is not a small issue with bicyclists and pedestrians. Copenhagen has many bus stops and cycle tracks with a lot of bicyclists and pedestrians, which provides the need to really integrate them well.

Copenhagen has set up islands at bus stops for the bus passengers to use when disembarking.Copenhaganize states: “It really is the baseline for infrastructure and the City, by and large, prefers it over anything else. Since the City starting retrofitting bus stops to provide islands, safety has increased dramatically across the city.”

Now, in 2015, the City of Copenhagen is taking it a step forward. It will establish LED bus islands at certain locations where there isn’t space to build a full island. The lights will show a green strip along the curb when there is no bus there. The LED light show will expand across the cycle track to indicate to all traffic users that passengers have the priority as the bus rolls up. Then back to the green after the bus leaves. Sounds bright, easily understood, and safe.

 
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Urban Plunge: Swimming in the City

Urban Plunge: Swimming in the City | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

An exhibition at the Roca London Gallery presents a series of architectural proposals to reclaim natural water sources in London, New York and Copenhagen for recreational use. We spoke to curator Jane Withers about how we can better exploit our rivers and harbours.


Via Lauren Moss
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Bet Your EV Can’t Do This: Electric Garbage Truck Hauls 9 Tons Of Trash

Bet Your EV Can’t Do This: Electric Garbage Truck Hauls 9 Tons Of Trash | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
We've been paying loads of attention to lightweight, compact, and sporty (Tesla, much?) electric vehicles, but the EV revolution is also taking place in heavy duty vehicles as well. We're not talking hybrids, we're talking about 100% plug-in EVs like this new electric garbage truck from Motiv Power Systems that just made Chicago the first
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Electric Garbage Trucks For Chicago

We’ve been following the Motive electric garbage truck around since it was a glimmer in the company’s eye. Back in 2012, the company announced that it would make Chicago the first US city to get a fleet of all-electric garbage trucks, and it looks like they’re on track.

The 2012 announcement covered a $13.4 milion contract to add 20 electric garbage trucks to the city’s 600-strong fleet over the next five years.

Motiv Power Systems is better known for its forays into the electric school bus field, and it apparently won the Chicago contract based partly on the success of its pilot project involving an electric bus in California.

The Motiv secret sauce is a flexible system for pulling mix-and-match, off-the-shelf components together with its proprietary technology in order to get the biggest bang for the least bucks. That’s pretty much the opposite of the Tesla Gigafactory approach, but hey, whatever works.

Motiv also looked at hybrids and compressed natural gas as alternatives, but determined that the all-electric approach was more cost effective.

If the garbage truck can get anywhere near the savings that Motiv calculates for its electric buses, Chicago could score big. According to Motive, between cheap fuel and low maintenance a single electric bus can save $11,000 per year over its diesel counterpart.

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Would Solar Roadways Work? A Government Engineer Discusses the Controversial Technology : Greentech Media

Would Solar Roadways Work? A Government Engineer Discusses the Controversial Technology : Greentech Media | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The DOT engineer who helped test a solar roadway prototype shares his thoughts on its viability.
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Ever since Scott and Julie Brusaw went public with their idea for building solar-powered LED roadways, they’ve faced a constant barrage of skepticism and even outright hostility.

The reaction was expected given how technically difficult it would be to execute their vision of electrifying roads and highways with reinforced solar panels. Some questioned whether the application for solar is even necessary. 

But one organization -- the most important agency governing America's roads -- was willing to give them a shot at proving the concept.

In 2009, after a couple years of tinkering in their driveway, the Brusaws secured a $100,000 grant from the Department of Transportation for their company, Solar Roadways. The grant was supposed to be used for gathering information from engineering experts in a variety of fields and developing a concept paper based on the findings.

"I didn't need that much money to have a bunch of professors write a paper. So I asked [the DOT] if we could simply build a prototype," said Scott Brusaw.

In February 2010, the Brusaws built their first panels, a 12-foot by 12-foot array without solar cells, to test whether the underlying electronics would work.

That year, Solar Roadways won a $50,000 community award through GE's Ecomagination challenge, giving it another pool of money to keep experimenting.

Then, in 2011, the DOT followed up its initial support with a $750,000 grant to assist Solar Roadways in developing a second "parking lot" demonstration array with solar cells, LED lights, and a heating system built in.

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