After a few impassioned discussions with my wife, Julia, about how we can make a difference in the seemingly bottomless pit of waste and filth that the US is contributing to global climate change, I realized that I should look into the renewable-energy offset program offered by our electricity provider, Xcel Energy.
With the price of renewable energy production (solar & wind) at or beating that of traditional fossil fuels pricing, now is the time to take action and demand our utilities convert over to CLEAN ENERGY sources for their power generators.
Xcel provides all sorts of handy-dandy charts to give you a clear visual understanding of what your monthly energy usage is and how it stacks up with your neighbors. Of course the neighborly competition is quite arbitrary as home size, equipment, and fuel sources vary, but it's a good indicator and motivator of how your consuming.
To enroll in a renewable-energy purchase program:
A quick look at the FEES for Wind energy offset:
This is way CHEAPER than I expected! Our monthly usage averages below 100kWh, so we would be subject to paying just $2.16 additionally per month.
OK OK, I know things add up so $2.16/month => $25.92/year.
This is a TINY price to pay to help facilitate the adoption of renewable energy as a mainstream source of utility providers. Likely, if you are living in an apartment or small rental home, this is a comparable price for you to offset your electricity consumption to a renewable source.
Deep down it does seem pathetic that I have to pay MORE to ensure my electricity source is minimizing pollution. In the grand scheme of Julia and I supporting renewable energy, we are making a long-term commitment towards the development of sustainable, renewable energy sources.
Recent research has led me down the path of Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR includes the standards of ESG, Environmental, Social And Governance . Environmental criteria looks at how a company performs as a steward of the natural environment. Social criteria examines how a company manages relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits and internal controls, and shareholder rights.
My curiosity has lead me to succinctly sum up how companies are facilitating, marketing, & reporting on their initiatives both publicly and internally.
Starwood Hotels Sustainability
Distributed Generation (N): Seekers of financial independence & mindfulness through a shared, selfless, & simple community-focused lifestyle.
Chapter 1: #hype
Chapter 2: #rethinkrevolution
Chapter 3: #proVOCAs
Chapter 4: #selflessismore
Chapter 5: #usereusable
Chapter 6: #selfpropelled
Chapter 7: #csr, #tbl, #ghg, & #zerh
Chapter 8: #itsuptous
Unemployment has left me befuddled with ideas, research, and learning opportunities, yet the more I seek the less I accomplish. The theme of my ideas is SUSTAINABILITY. This is the theme that I continually practice, but I don't often preach. How does one person lead by example, influence others, and rattle our thoughtless world of disposable consumption upside down?
Graphics. Phrases. Step-by-step. By incorporating my love for graphic design and the visual arts into my motivations toward a more sustainable world, I'm going to begin broadcasting my content through the socials such that it is hurled from the mis-labeled storage of my hard drive folder into the forefront of our daily lives. Enjoy.
I tend to take advantage of as many live/free events around the front range that I can. Not solely for the hope of a free breakfast or lunch, but moreso for the hope that an idea, a notion, a smile will light the bulb in my head, and make the last 6-months of research and aimlessness worth it.
This week I attended a
Alliance Center for Sustainability: How to Get a Price on Carbon!
Congresswoman Diana DeGette for moderating the rock star panel of Hunter Lovins, Mark Reynolds, and William Becker.
Alliance Center for Sustainability: Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University
Traxion Speaker Series
Rocky Mountain Association Energy Engineers
Creative Mornings Denver
The result of this week of learning: Reusable Redemption
I’m excited about this because it is an immediately actionable item.
A handful of companies have been on the scene of portable solar power for some time now. They seem to all be selling to the same niche market of the adventurous #optoutsiders who camp, hike, and explore nature each weekend. On the contrary, there are outfits that are focused on bringing solar light sources to developing countries reduce pollution (stop burning w/kerosene), to enhance their safety (allows for combustion-free inside lighting), and ease-of-access to a reliable lighting source to allow for more reading, socializing, etc.
I'm watching as these companies evolve and sprout as solar tech becomes more affordable and main stream. It's exciting to see the new products for powering and charging our battery operated lives.
Next up, I'm hoping to see a solar breakthrough into the "generator" space. There are basic portable solar systems that can be rented and transported to job sites, farmers markets or concert venues to provide a quite and pollution-free energy source. More on that in another post.
Honorable mention (but didn't make the list because it's not solar) for a story of sustainable tech goes to the Soccket Ball. Unfortunately, after scouring the web for their website, all I could muster was the remnants of their successful Kickstarter campaign, and the many comments of backers who are still awaiting their ball :-( Maybe I'll have to jump onto this R&D team!
Did I miss any others up-and-coming portable solar tech? Please comment below:
Sustainable investing has been of interest to me for the last few months, and it's about time that I seek a bit more into on the options available. My attraction to sustainable investing is cut-and-dry. I want to invest in companies that are making efforts internally to eliminate waste in their manufacturing, increase the productivity per kW of energy spent, and improve the welfare of employees.
I am a bit biased toward these objectives, as I've focused the last five years of my education and career towards widening the river of sustainability so that y'all can drink ;-) But doesn't it make sense? Companies that are willing to implement strategies to improve the working conditions and reduce harmful impacts from their goods and services will see greater employee satisfaction, less employee turnover, better customer service, lower fees for waste disposal and energy consumption.
The list goes on... which is why I'm preaching about the short, medium, and long-term gains from thinking about your habits, your waste profile, and working towards attaining a sustainable lifestyle.
Here are a few of the initial findings that I'm investigating:
I've always been keen to the accelerated adoption of energy-efficiency, sustainability, and conservation that Europe has achieved. My next few posts are field observations from Europe that I think we need to bring to the U.S.
Lots of them. Everybody accepts that European cities are more cycling friendly than U.S cities. While much of the discrepancy has to do with access to bike routes, safety from motor vehicles, and a willingness to show up to work a bit sweaty, simple measures can be introduced to enhance the city cycling experience.
I can't tell you how many times I've whimpered while searching for a place to park my bike in front of a coffee shop downtown. I either have to settle for a parking meter post or a lacy fence.
Enough with the fancy, artistic, and rigid bike racks that only fit five bikes comfortably!
This bike rack design in Zurich provides stability to hang your bike, a secure lanyard to lock with, and ample locations that don't interfere with pedestrian traffic.
It's not easy, nor pretty, but definitely necessary. I'm hitting Ctrl-C for all those that VOCA Off Grid follows on Twitter, and Ctrl-V into Turboletti's follow list.
It's a worthy task to remind myself who/what is in my eco-network, and also funny to see the trajectory of my 'follows' over the years.
If you've got a new follower recently, follow back ;-)
Focus is the forefront for the next few months of my career endeavors. It's been 6-months since I left my last gig, and I have become so overwhelmed with the excitement and dreaming about "what's next" that I've found it challenging to focus.
To date, I've been juggling social profiles between my athletic profiles (Turboletti) and my professional profiles (VOCA Off Grid). Keeping these two identities separated has caused a lot of hassle and strain in deciding which media is appropriate for which audience. It also is a heck of a lot to manage (passwords, profiles, liking, posting)... and as I test out more and more social networks, the effort and distraction from actually doing work becomes greater and greater.
It was during my recent honeymoon trip, beginning in Zurich, Switzerland, when I realized that my lifestyle is both active and activist and this needs to be on display 24/7. There need not be any separation between what fulfills and motivates my actions and what my “audience” (thx mom) perceives of me.
I invite you to continue to follow along as I find my focus to deliver applicable content, rather than futzing around my separate channels of communication. There is a grave need to change the disposable habits of our culture and advocate for reducing wastefulness and increasing our responsibility for the future health of our planet.
From my playdates with mountain trails to observations of sustainability wins, I hope that my point-of-view and actions will influence you and motivate others to rethink their norm.
Facebook: VOCA Off Grid
The Barbour's envision their 10-Acres as a learning for building and environmental stewardship for city kids. Currently, there's a few structures on the land that are worth a look...
My Dad and I are working on a deep energy renovation project in the Colorado High Country. Here are some pictures from the first day of site demolition - including the removal of plasterboard and insulation from the 1956 walls of the main house. Follow along on the project via#Barbourville.
Another good day in the high country getting rid of old, rotten structures that were built by the previous owners. There's is a lot of fallen trees and metal scrap that will be chopped-up and recycled.
For the record, I don't own this land. My Dad and I are helping out friends who have a cool vision for how to be environmental stewards on their 10-Acres at 10,000-ft.
Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions
The Facts:Tools for visualizing and evaluating carbon emissions:Calculating Carbon Offsets
Carbon Sequestration DIY:
Global Momentum for Carbon Pricing:
Carbon policies is more important than ever:
Pledge to lower emissions
A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a systematic, cradle-to-grave process that evaluates the environmental impacts of products, processes, and services. Its quality depends on the life cycle inventory (LCI) data it uses. An LCA tracks a product's environmental impact from resource extraction through disposal and examines both the energy it uses and the pollution it creates.
LCA for a T-Shirt:
BEES Software (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) developed by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). BEES measures the environmental performance of building products by using the life-cycle assessment approach specified in the ISO 14040 series of standards:
I found this thread regarding WikiHouse in Denver from Patrick Beseda:
And the now defunct funding page:
The project will be under the distinction of installation, or art installation so while we are making prototypes there's not permanent residency. In Denver, there is a clause in the Municipal Code that says,
I'm pretty sure I've already posted a blog about this, as every few months, I revisit the credential that I use along side my name in my LinkedIn profile. While the credential carries the merits of technical know-how encompassing energy management and implementation, I've been in search of proper utilization of the credential as a step-up in the energy services employment market.
The Certified Energy Manager is an individual who optimizes the energy performance of a facility, building or industrial plant. The CEM® is a systems integrator for electrical, mechanical, process and building infrastructure, analyzing the optimum solutions to reduce energy consumption in a cost effective approach. CEM’s are often team leaders and help to develop and implement their organizations’ energy management strategies. CEM’s have gained increased recognition within the energy industry and by companies looking to strengthen their competitive position by having a CEM on staff.
Employment opportunities for CEM:
More links and connections with the opportunity for the CEM:
Sure it's a bit dated... but in 2007 the University of Colorado students built a Shipping Container Home for the Solar Decathlon competition.
Our house design is based on a modular and prefabricated engineering spine. The spine, formed by conventional shipping containers, provides structure and life support. Programmatically, it comprises the kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, and equipment spaces, and includes the building electrical service and all plumbing and HVAC systems. In our specific design, there are two shipping containers – the competition module includes a container for the kitchen, bathroom, and systems area, while the second container houses the laundry, master bathroom, and guest bathroom.
Over the years, I have been saving quotes and inspirationals from leaders in business, sport, & life:
We are a mobile marketplace. Soon cities and towns will look drastically different. The traffic and congestion due to increased populations, combined with the damages of pollution and outrageous fuel prices. People no longer need McMansions. Employees work remotely, offices are extinct.
Credit the rise in adventure races: triathlons, Spartan races, muddy buddies. People are bored with their daily lives, they need options and opportunities to Explore, and break up the monotony of the picket fence.
Seeking to design and develop a shipping container home that is suitable for deployment to disaster relief locations. Source and review the best products available for sustainable living in a Disaster Relief Shipping Container. --> Expand idea to modular homes, sustainable camp sites.
Alternative to RV-ing. Make Highways safer,
The engineering profession should embrace a new mission statement—to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world. Directly addressing the needs of developing communities worldwide. Addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with balancing two goals in engineering for humanitarian development projects:
(i) effective sustainable community development
(ii) meaningful education of engineers. Guiding principles necessary to meet those two goals are proposed.
I'm never good with financial terminology so I've adapted the following definitions from the government: http://energy.gov/eere/buildings/articles/energy-efficiency-asset-mortgage-underwriting
Also from Financial Management class:
The Four Basic Financial Statements
A vapor open wall/roof assembly uses materials that are most im-permeable to water vapor at the interior of the wall cavity, and as we transition through the cavity the materials become more permeable. This creates a "path of least resistance" for any water vapor to exit the wall cavity and evaporate to the dryer outdoor air:
The materials used to achieve this vapor-open assembly includes Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation board insulation (continuous exterior insulation) and a combination of SIGA tapes and membranes that provide the required vapor, air, and rain protection.
* Air Barrier Membrane
- SIGA Majvest 9.8'x164'/roll (1614-SF/roll) (Rainproof/Windtight/Vapor Open Membrane)
- SIGA Wigluv 60mm (2.4"x131'/roll) (Air Sealing Tape for seams of Majvest)
* Exterior Continuous Insulation
- Roxul Drainboard R10 2.38"x48"x72"
- Roxul Drainboard R5 1.25"x48"x72"
* Cavity Batt Insulation 2x6 Framing
- Roxul ComfortBatt R23 15"x47" (39.82-SF per bag)
* Vapor Control Layer
- SIGA Majpell 4.9' x164'/roll (807-SF) Vapor control minimizes vapor infiltration into the cavity from the interior)
The primary concern with vapor-closed wall assemblies is that because of the closed-cell nature of EPS foam board insulation, there is potential to have a condensation point for water vapor on the inside of the OSB sheathing. Water vapor from the humid interior has the tendency to diffuse through the assembly and get trapped at the OSB sheathing layer where it cools down and condenses leading to rot and mildew.
If you ever do need more ammo to convince homeowners of the long-term value of the extra upfront cost for this vapor-open wall assembly, there is robust Moisture Analysis software able to visualize any potential condensation points in a given wall assembly for particular climate conditions.