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This week’s essential reading February 2nd through February 7th

by mel starrs on February 7, 2009

in News

These are my links for February 2nd through February 7th:

  • Andrew Winston – What;s Your Heresy? – Andrew asks some heretical questions. My own would be "what if the current economic conditions are the new normal – how would that impact the construction industry?".
  • British Town Demonstrates World’s First Garbage Truck Powered by Garbage – The vehicle will collect garbage from 25 newly installed split bins and take it to the Energy from Waste power station and recycling center nearby. The power station burns the garbage to generate electricity, and the truck recharges at a charging post to be ready for the next day's route.
    The garbage truck is a modified Smith Edison 3.5-ton Ford Transit with a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle has a top speed of 50 mph, a 100-mile range, and takes about six to eight hours to charge. The only reported downside is that the quiet electric truck may present safety issues for unsuspecting pedestrians.
    Besides powering the garbage truck, the Energy from Waste station also pumps about 10 megawatts of electricity into the grid per day. All the power is generated from burning local garbage.
  • A battery to catch the wind | Forum For The Future – The Dutch are excellent engineers (necessity of living below sea level, I guess). This looks ingenious: "How can offshore wind generation still deliver on wind-free days? The answer, according to a group of Dutch businesses led by energy consulting firm KEMA, is a battery in the form of a man-made island close to four miles long and 2.5 miles across.
    Energy Island would be constructed between 15 and 20 miles off the Dutch coast and would form a sea wall ring holding water back from a centre that would be dug down to 40 metres below sea level. Water would be allowed to flow in to drive turbines, producing power. It could then be pumped out using wind energy once the wind turbines turned again."
  • Environmental writing since Thoreau. – By Johann Hari – Slate Magazine – Great review of yet another book to be added to my wishlist: "The rational environmentalists stand at the midpoint between the utopian delusions of the global-warming deniers—something will come along to save us!—and the utopian fantasies of the romantics. They believe our crisis is not spiritual at all, but physical. Human beings didn't unleash warming gases into the atmosphere out of malice or stupidity or spiritual defect: They did it because they wanted their children to be less cold and less hungry and less prone to disease. The moral failing comes only very late in the story—when we chose to ignore the scientific evidence of where wanton fossil-fuel burning would take us. This failing must be put right by changing our fuel sources, not altering our souls."
  • Sustainability in Practice: Water-efficient loos – "Finally, UK manufacturers have caught up [with European firms]. It's great that we now have the choice not only of a 6/4 litre dual flush, but also in the lower volume, 4/2.6 litre [category]."
  • Free work devalues profession, says RIBA – Building Design – Same goes for engineering and sustainability consultancy: "The RIBA has issued a warning against architects offering work for free during the recession, an approach it claims will devalue the entire profession.
    Vice president of practice, Jane Duncan, wrote to members last week to warn that cost-cutting would set architects back years.
    “I am most concerned about architects cost cutting and buying in work, as they did in the 1990s, when it became easy for clients to take advantage and seek ‘free’ work,” she wrote.“The more of us that do this the more the profession is undervalued when we come out of recession. It took years to get paid even reasonable fees.”