Tag archives for efficiency

Federal loan guarantees for renewable energy, which spurred the development of massive projects like the recently completed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California – and roiled the 2012 elections – are emerging from hibernation. More than two years after closing the last such loan guarantee, the U.S. Department of Energy announced on Wednesday that…

Energy use increased in the United States in 2013 as a fourth consecutive year of economic growth exerted its influence, but the longer-term trend shows the country operating with greater efficiency while also revealing the small but growing role of renewable sources like solar and wind. The font for these insights is the Lawrence Livermore…

Before the special ventilation system is installed, the solar water heaters added, and the insulated windows are fitted at a new set of super-efficient homes in Washington, D.C., the foundation must be laid and the wooden bones erected. Last month, several of us from National Geographic arrived to help do part of that work as…

Last year more than 25 million tourists visited the Caribbean’s islands, drawn in part to the region’s sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets. Though many consider it a tropical paradise, the Caribbean’s 40 million residents know that such positives also come at great cost: dependence on expensive, imported fossil fuel for energy generation. It affects everything…

With the acquisition of thermostat-maker Nest Labs for $3.2 billion announced Monday, Google might finally be arriving at the right moment in a quest for home energy data that began about five years ago with the now-retired PowerMeter. Nest might be one of the few home energy start-ups that you recognize by name. Founded by…

A recent post on the U.S. phase-out of 40- and 60-watt low-efficiency incandescent light bulbs, which became official January 1, elicited a lot of response from readers.  Many commenters were critical of the ban, dictated by legislation passed in 2007 by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.  (See related post: “U.S.…

The incandescent light bulb has been around since the late 1800s, but the venerable technology’s dominance seems just about over.  On January 1, 2014, in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 2007, the old familiar tungsten-filament 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the U.S., because they don’t…

Waiting for a package? The holiday shipping countdown has begun: Online retailers are issuing regular reminders of how many days are left to order for delivery by Christmas, while shippers such as UPS and FedEx are scrambling to distribute record volumes of parcels from all of that e-commerce. Dubbing this “Peak Week,” UPS said it…

Sometimes our dependency on battery-charging devices seems ironic, considering the abundance of energy around us that is being generated every day by sources as mundane as the human hand, footsteps, and lightning, which strikes the Earth dozens of times per second. (See related photos: “Immense, Elusive Energy in the Forces of Nature.”) A typical lightning…

Everyone who works on energy futures – myself included – spends a great deal of time envisioning and then evaluating the scientific, technical, policy, and behavioral factors needed to initiate and sustain these shifts. We recently completed a study of what it would take in western North America to expand the deployment of solar power…

Next time you’re at a night game or in a big box store, look up—if you see bright white lights housed in dome-shaped fixtures, you’re probably looking at metal halide lights. Strong new energy efficiency standards for metal halide lamp fixtures proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would save businesses and consumers money, and…

Information technology managers take note: The cloud can be your friend. U.S. government researchers built a model to test the energy cost of running common business applications using centralized data centers instead of local systems. Turned out the cloud’s energy efficiency advantages on a nationwide basis were huge – up to 87 percent, or around 23 billion…

From swapping in smarter lighting to installing solar panels, many homeowners are seeking energy efficiency boosts that can cut bills and lower their carbon footprint. But just how green can a home get? Julie Torres Moskovitz offers an answer in The Greenest Home, a just-released visual and practical guide to some remarkable passive houses around…

On a recent late night at the office, I got a warning from the cleaning woman: “You know the lights all shut off at 10 o’clock, right?” Fortunately, I had never stayed at National Geographic late enough to learn that fact. But I had noticed before that at 8:00 p.m., my computer sends a message…

In his first official remarks as Energy Secretary Tuesday, Ernest Moniz focused on an aspect of energy policy that lends itself to consensus perhaps a bit more easily than others:  the need for greater efficiency. Speaking at the Energy Efficiency Global Forum in Washington, Moniz noted it was fortuitous that the annual event followed his…

With the United Nations’ 20th annual World Water Day focusing on international cooperation in managing water, it’s a good time to highlight projects in the United States that are saving water — and energy. World Water Day, which takes place every March 22, aims to increase awareness of the millions of people who don’t have…

Students of all ages are accustomed to being graded on their work and ranked against their peers. It’s a common practice for just about everything in society from education to politics, but athletics is perhaps one of the most scrutinized and ranked fields out there. With college basketball’s March Madness tournament just around the corner,…

The community of Serenbe, a multi-use development outside Atlanta in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, was founded with sustainability in mind. Seventy percent of its 1,000 acres is preserved natural space, and many of its buildings use geothermal heating and water-conserving appliances. But one of its greenest homes might be…

Laurens van Mulukom, a mechanical engineering student at Hogeschool van Amsterdam, talked about why hydrogen is “one of the most innovative fuels to work with,” at Shell Eco-marathon Europe 2012 in Rotterdam. With this year’s competition that ended Saturday taking place on its home country’s soil, <a href=”http://www.h2a.nu/h2a-news/”>Team H2A</a> was proud to achieve a new…

Great strides have been made over the last four decades to improve economy-wide energy efficiency and energy productivity. Estimates indicate that U.S. energy use per dollar of GDP has declined by over 50% since 1970 (from 18,000 BTUs per dollar of GDP in 1970 to 8,900 BTU’s per dollar of GDP in 2008 – Note…

In my undergraduate environmental economics class at UCLA, I ask my students to discuss whether buying a Prius could increase their gasoline consumption and thus increase their greenhouse gas production.    David Owen would argue that it certainly could.  Suppose that I used to drive a vehicle that achieved only 25 MPG.  If gasoline is priced…

Energy efficiency has become very popular in recent years. So much so that it’s becoming cool for the truly hip to hold it in disdain. Case in point: David Owen’s piece in this week’s New Yorker: “The Efficiency Dilemma” (subscription required). It reads like he’s being contrary just for the sake of being contrary. I…

The results of the November U.S. elections have been interpreted thousands of ways by now, but one undeniable mood shift in the American public regarding energy and the environment is a retreat from unquestioning support of government programs and policy initiatives that collectively amount to a costly and disruptive national industrial policy for the energy…

In the ivory towers of academic economics (from which I mostly escaped years ago), markets are the heroes of many a mythical story. As the theory goes, wherever there is a need and a way to meet it at a profit, and so long as nasty things like governments don’t interfere, a market will materialize,…