Only a few years ago, energy was a simple service provided safely at an affordable price to a ratepayer from their utility provider. This is no longer the case. Building Automation Controls, Energy Management Systems, LED lighting, smart meters, solar energy and a host of other technologies have been able to improve the operational capacity of a building. Institutions with these features came to be called “Smart Buildings.”
In January 2018, Andrew Tobin, member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), introduced the Energy Modernization Plan. The plan is an “update to Arizona’s energy policies to accomplish cleaner energy resources, lower prices for consumers, and greater grid security” (Arizona’s Energy Modernization Plan, 2018). Under the plan, Arizona would pursue 80 percent clean energy by 2050 and 3,000 megawatts (MW) of energy storage by 2030.
One of the best ways to learn about sustainability is to go out there and see or do sustainability. Teaching sustainability in the classroom is a great first step, but when the kiddos get a chance to see these real-world problems and solutions in the real-world, the material tends to be engrained in them forever.
It is time for a confession. While I appreciate documentaries and sustainable living, I...love…reality TV. I recognize that reality TV, and following the world of celebrities, may not always represent reality. And that the lavish lifestyle represented on television may seem the antithesis of sustainability. However, there are some celebrities that are actually promoting sustainability. In today’s blog, I’d like to shed light on some celebrities that you can appreciate for their work on the environment and sustainable living.
I was at a conference at the beginning of February where companies, utilities, non-profits, governmental organizations, and others came together to talk about energy efficiency solutions in the Midwest. One of the workshops I attended was called EE First: The Right Way to Get to Net-Zero Energy. I’m interested in topics like this because net-zero energy buildings, ENERGY STAR, and LEED are great certification guidelines to follow when constructing a building, but I think we need to go one step further and think about what happens when people move into that building.
Social media is here to stay, and in today’s world, everyone, especially Millennials, use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to get information about news, politics, and world events. This immediate, variety-filled resource engages the younger demographic in a different way than their older generational counterparts.
With the Super Bowl about to kick-off the same weekend as the Phoenix Open's tee-time, I think it’s a great opportunity to explore the sustainability initiatives involved in these two big sporting events. Golf and football are two of my favorite sports and sustainability is not only my career choice, but also a passion. I’d like to discuss what the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl are doing to emphasize sustainability at their respective events.
Yale University’s Yale Center for Environmental Communication (part of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies) publishes a daily podcast series called Yale Climate Communications (YCC). YCC is nonpartisan and media-based, where different stories are presented about everyday things that impact the environment.
While we have a little bit of knowledge on a vast array of subjects, every sustainability scientist is an expert in one, or maybe two, narrower area(s). As many of you can expect, my area of expertise is in energy. However, like most sustainability scientists, there are a few other topic areas that I find fascinating and like to spend some personal time researching. That area for me is food.
Living in the desert, spending any time outdoors, can be both a blessing and a curse. For eight months out of the year, while the rest of the country is cocooned indoors, we are able to hike, bike, swim, golf, and spend a substantial amount of time outside, enjoying the natural desert beauty our state provides. However, for the remaining four months, it is our time to hibernate, with the fear of heat stroke and sunburns a serious concern.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to officially start the holiday-buying season. And boy do people buy a lot! In 2016, Americans each spent around $930 on holiday gifts , and $420 per child, with 56% of them racking up debt to do so! This is equal to a little over $300 billion spent on holiday gifts in the US alone! That’s the GDP of Singapore!
Have you ever planned or attended an event and been shocked by the amount of waste generated? Often, events lack recycling options and even recyclable items, like plastic cups, silverware, and paper end up in the trash and eventually buried in a landfill! With some planning and proper execution, you can turn your special gathering into a Zero Waste Event!
Lighting is a huge part of energy efficiency – turning your lights off can save a lot of money on electric bills. According to the APS Energy Efficiency Guide for K-12 Schools, indoor lights account for about 33% of the energy use in a school – that’s more than equipment, computers, exterior lighting, and motors combined! I did a couple calculations, and by reducing the amount of time overhead lights are on in a typical classroom by 25% (for example, 6 hours a day instead of 8 hours a day), a school can save between $1,000-$2,000 a year!
I got to spend last weekend enjoying the beautiful fall colors and cheering on the University of Georgia Bulldogs in one of my favorite small towns, Athens, GA. The Georgia Bulldogs were playing the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, also known as the “real” USC (at least to me, and just about every other southerner). I attended the University of Georgia as a freshman before transferring to Arizona State to study Sustainability. Even though I love living in Arizona, I sure do miss SEC football!
Have you ever considered how many electronics are located in your home? According to a report by the Consumer Electronic Association in 2013, the average American household owns 28 electronic products. With more and more consumers upgrading devices to the newest smartphone or device, EPA’s 2014 Advancing Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) report shows that Americans generated 3.36 million tons of obsolete electronic products in 2014. This waste is often referred to as e-waste. E-waste is an informal name for electronics that are at the end of their “useful life.”
I was recently up in Northern Arizona, and had some time to explore the great sites in the area. I went into Utah and hiked Zion National Park, walked to Horseshoe Bend, took some beautiful pictures from a few vistas overlooking Lake Powell, and walked around the Glen Canyon Dam and the Carl Hayden Visitor’s Center. I’ve seen dams before, but had not really explored them and how they worked. In today’s blog, I’d like to share some of what I learned about the Glen Canyon Dam and how it provides power to the surrounding areas and states.
At Pierce Energy Planning, we’re all about changing behavior to save energy. One of the key groups we need to empower to change their behavior is students. The EPA estimates that behavioral and operational changes can save schools up to 25% on their energy bills annually. Making sure kids are aware and helping to promote energy conservation messages can help districts see savings on the higher end of that estimate.