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Links for June 29th through July 1st

by Mel Starrs on July 6, 2010

in News

These are my links for June 29th through July 1st:

  • Gentrification and Its Discontents – Magazine – The Atlantic – "Zukin declares that she “resent[s] everything Starbucks represents,” which really means that her urban ideal is the cool neighborhood at the moment before the first Starbucks moves in, an ever-more-fleeting moment. Indeed, what has changed since Jacobs’s day—and the reason, as these books attest, that gentrification has become so intense an issue—is the speed of the transition of districts from quasi dereliction to artsy to urban shopping mall. This acceleration results from the ways consumption has become the dominant means of self-expression (Zukin is perceptive on this point) and from—relatedly, ultimately—the acceleration of the global economy."
  • CIBSE CHP Group Seminar – Great overview of CHP: "To determine the appropriate size of a CHP system, there are several approaches that can be taken. The base load heat demand could be the benchmark for selecting a unit so that all the heat produced is used. Alternatively, the system can be sized based on the electrical base load without regard to the heat demand. In either case, it is possible that there is a more optimal size than will meet just the base load. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of daily or hourly loads is necessary for correct sizing. It is also important that the true base load energy demand is determined before sizing a CHP system. This means that energy efficiency measures should be implemented first to reduce energy demand and thus reduce the size of CHP system required."
  • Interview: Michael Pollan | Life and style | The Guardian – I'm a massive fan of Pollan – great interview: "Big Food as it exists today is, patently, not sustainable. Two shocking statistics: before 1950, every calorie of fossil fuel energy expended on food production resulted in 2.3 calories of food; these days it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of your edible foodlike substance."
  • Urban farms: can you source a complete meal from inside the M25? | Life and style | The Observer – Good to see Rosie is grounded in reality – urban food will never feed London entirely: "Nobody knows exactly how many farms there are in London. In a report, I read that there are 500 but I find it hard to believe. "I find that a bit hard to believe, too," says Rosie Boycott. "I haven't found that many. But they are there. Obviously it's barking to suggest London is ever going to be able to feed itself but there are things we can do to help small producers come to market. And of course a lot of it is about education.""
  • Taxing carbon: Worth a go | The Economist – Perhaps not the panacea we hope for, but good to see someone is crunching the numbers: "A carbon tax has many more general advantages as a fiscal tool, too. It would be simpler and more predictable than the current jumble of tax breaks, trading schemes and purchasing obligations. The principle—that polluters pay for the damage they cause—is easily grasped, and it is politically attractive to tax “bads” such as pollution instead of “goods” such as work and entrepreneurship. And, by establishing a reliable price for carbon, it could give businessmen the certainty they need to invest in greener technologies. But the effect of that is likely to show up only after 2020."
  • New Statesman – No hands to the pump! – The problem with ASHP: "But there's a problem. According to the Energy Saving Trust, carbon emissions are not actually reduced if air-source heat pumps replace gas or oil boilers, but only existing electric heating and coal-fired systems. Ground-source heat pumps are only slightly better. Yet the proposed guidelines do not specify where heat pumps should be installed to qualify for the subsidy. So the danger is that thousands of heat pumps will be drawing a subsidy of more than £1,000 a year, while delivering no emissions benefit."
  • Construction Manager – Features – Great article on SKA: "According to Hall, the scheme could address several gaps in the market. “It suits smaller projects, and it’ll help tenants who aspire to a green fit-out but who might have taken space in a building that doesn’t have BREEAM excellent or very good. And I’d say our project managers have found it easier to get to grips with Ska compared to BREEAM.”<br />
    Ska has been developed to capture data from the smallest interior refresh to major refurbishments, judging their sustainability criteria in isolation from the building they sit in. The system is designed to be user friendly, based on a free online tool that helps to guide early design decisions. The project team can then make headway on cutting carbon without calling in a specialist consultant. “The guidance is exceptionally intuitive, so no one’s sitting around saying ‘where’s our BREEAM assessor when we need him’,” says Skansen director James Pack."
  • Five Myths About Sustainability – BusinessWeek – Good common sense: "LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide guidelines for, and certification of, sustainable buildings. There are many highly sustainable buildings that are not LEED-certified; it's not a requirement for being green.<br />
    If an organization won't benefit from LEED certification, we don't recommend it. It's costly and time-consuming so there has to be a business value to get the plaque on the wall. There are times when a project is highly sustainable, but pursuing LEED certification is not the right business decision."
  • Paul Miller » Whole Earth Discipline – Book duly added to wishlist: "Stewart Brand’s book Whole Earth Discipline is one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years, partly because it’s very well written and researched but mainly because it made me change my mind about some important issues.<br />
    Perhaps the easiest argument for me to accept (although I still learned a great deal) was the section on cities. It’s always made sense to me that cities are more efficient use of resources and are the driving force behind new ideas and problem solving. I’m a pretty big believer that new things happen when you bring people together who have different skills and experiences. You can either design those situations – as things like the Manhattan Project show – or you can just sit and watch as it happens in cities – the more cosmopolitan and connected the better. Of course, as cities grow they develop new problems, but they solve them just as quickly as they produce them."
  • Government prepares 2050 low-carbon master plan – 25 Jun 2010 – BusinessGreen.com – "The report is expected to argue that the UK will need to electrify much of its infrastructure if it is to have any chance of meeting the 2050 carbon targets.<br />
    "An 80 per cent target means that realistically we need to electrify large sections of transport and heating," said the government spokesman. "That means that while overall energy demand may fall, demand for electricity could double by 2050. All the big investment challenges we face relate to that change.""
  • Sustainability: World’s Most Sustainable Building – Not sure about 'most' sustainable, but it does look striking: "the Wuhan New Energy Center boasts to have a zero carbon footprint. The lily shaped building generates its own energy thanks to the vertical axis windmill and solar chimney. The building also harvests rain water within the building. The roof of the building is basically a solar panel array for generating electricity. The design allows the building to be cooled naturally. Designed by the design consultants Grontmij and Soeters Van Eldonk Architects the building will eventually stand 140 feet tall."
  • Target Zero | School Guidance Report Summary – Interesting report – particularly interested on the NPV work: "The maximum on-site derived operational carbon emission reductions of 119% of regulated emissions (against a target of 124% for true zero carbon performance), can only be achieved using a package of energy efficiency measures, a 50kW wind turbine, 1300 m&sup2; photovoltaics, biomass boiler and 216 m&sup2; solar thermal panels. These measures incur an increased capital cost of 11.5%, which have a positive 25-year net present value (NPV).<br />
    To achieve economic true zero carbon performance requires the integration of off-site LZC technologies such as tapping into a district CHP plant"
  • http://www.blog.thirlwall-associates.co.uk/rss.xml Claire Thirlwall

    Another great post Mel – you save me hours of time as you hunt down the juicy details for us all!

    The Big Food topic links to a comment I heard at a Low Carbon Farming event, that modern farming is the process of turning oil into food. I think the whole air/food miles debate is less important than the calories per calorie issue. It would be distorted slightly by high calorie foods but it would be a very useful indicator.

  • http://www.blog.thirlwall-associates.co.uk/rss.xml Claire Thirlwall

    Another great post Mel – you save me hours of time as you hunt down the juicy details for us all!

    The Big Food topic links to a comment I heard at a Low Carbon Farming event, that modern farming is the process of turning oil into food. I think the whole air/food miles debate is less important than the calories per calorie issue. It would be distorted slightly by high calorie foods but it would be a very useful indicator.