Archive for March, 2013

March 27, 2013

Collaborative consumption – is it the future?

Collaborative consumption means that people share or exchange their items, clothes, vehicles or even flats for the benefit of both parties, instead of buying them,. Although the term is not new, it has become more meaningful in recent years and in 2010 Time magazine named it as one of the 10 ideas that would change the world. There is even a special day of the year celebrating it – the Global Sharing Day, which falls on 14th November.

Clothes swapping

Clothes swapping

Well-known services include Netflix, which is used for sharing video content, Zipcar for sharing cars or Airbnb – a platform, enabling search for privately rented properties. But one can participate in exchanging luxury homes in different parts of the world with Lovehomeswap, just sleep on someone’s couch with Couchsurfing, or share a taxi ride with Taxifortwo, or use the some else’s parking spot with Parkatmyhouse, and even nearby storage space can be found with Sharemystorage. Another new emerging service is Zopa, offering social lending by avoiding middlemen. Even eBay and Craigslist can be considered as part of the collaborative consumption movement.

Collaborative consumption allows a more sustainable lifestyle as it promotes the re-use and sharing of things instead of buying them. In a world of finite resources and a growing population, this could help avoiding the mountains of unused stuff, and remind adults that sharing is important as we teach it to our children.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Photo by Neesa Rajbhandari

March 20, 2013

Energy Points

Kilowatts, kilojoules, litres, gallons, Celsius and Fahrenheit – have you ever got confused on how much energy you actually save by living greener? Do you understand what these metrics mean at all or are they just numbers with no real meanings?

An already well-established ‘universal calculation’ is carbon footprinting – offered by many organisations. The basis is adding up the carbon-dioxide emissions from various activities, including those by eating meat, driving a car, travelling or just turning the heating up at home. This calculation also helps companies to see their ‘footprint’ in their environment, and so help them at making sustainable decisions.

A new company now wants to make an even simpler and easier system that should be more understandable for everyone.

Energy Points is a software company offering various products, mainly for companies, to be able to track and compare their savings in various areas (water, electricity, vehicles, renewable energy installations, waste, fuel) by introducing just one metric: Energy Points, which is the amount of energy embodied in a gallon of gasoline, equalling 3.9 litres. This unit is more graspable to most of us who owns and uses a car regularly, making us related better to the sustainable lifestyle.

Besides general areas of life, like driving, eating or heating, Energy Points could also stand for how much energy is needed for pumping, desalinating or treating water, as well as how much is necessary for treating waste or for the life cycle analysis of an item. Exact location and the method of generation are also taken into account.

The company then offers a whole platform and detailed analytics using these Energy Points to enable organisations to make comparable decisions regarding investments or even organisational changes.

There are also other energy and impact measuring methods. The Energy Saving Warehouse offers the LeSTO Energy Saving Survey, which can help anyone at home or in the office at becoming more energy efficient. For this one only has to fill out a detailed survey on the site and then improve the lifestyle.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse 

March 13, 2013

What are urban heat islands?

Urban heat islands develop in cities when due to human activities the temperature is much higher than that of the surrounding environment. This is mainly caused by the type of materials used for buildings, roads, pavements – especially concrete and asphalt. Water cannot filter into the ground easily, and dark materials absorb light and then later in the day emit it as heat. Cars, air conditioners, and other equipment also release heat while operating, further increasing the temperature – and pollution.

Green Roof

Green Roof

This temperature difference can be quite high – up to 12C degrees in the night – and it has various effects.

According to the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency  heat island effect not only increases energy costs, but also air pollution grows, and in the summer heat-related illnesses and deaths are more frequent and also water quality can suffer.

Some of the solutions for easing the problem include adding more parks and green surfaces, as well as green roofs [rooftop gardens]. Buildings could be painted with lighter colours and pavements can also be built in a more efficient way, for example by using alternative materials [1].

Hence, there are ways to reduce the urban heat island effect but it cannot be totally eliminated. While many believe that it’s also driving climate change, it significantly affects the lives of the residents – both financially and personally.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Photo: sookie / Wikimedia

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