First self-powered data center opens

What does it take to open the world’s first self-powered data center? For Aruba S.p.A., it involved three elements:

  • Flowing river water
  • Photovoltaic solar panels
  • Always cold, pumped-to-the-surface underground water as the principal cooling source

Aruba’s newest data center, named the Global Cloud Data Center (IT3) is located near Milan, Italy, and claims to be 100 percent green. The 49-acre ANSI/TIA-942 Rating 4 standard facility (at 200,000 square meters) opened earlier this month.

Low-impact credentials at the site come largely because the data center has its own dedicated hydroelectric plant. The facility is located on the banks of the River Brembo, an Aruba representative told me. Electricity is generated from the running river water through the operation of turbines. That power is stored and then injected into the national grid infrastructure. Electricity is supposedly guaranteed for the campus by the national grid in exchange for the input.

The system, along with the power from solar panels, can produce up to 90 MWs of power. The “river of energy” flows “more or less” constantly, Aruba says.

Geothermal cooling

The company says cooling at the facility is also zero-impact.

“Using groundwater as the main cooling energy source enables us to reduce energy waste,” the company explains of its geothermal system on its website.

That’s in part because underground water at the site always remains at 48 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. That cold water is pumped up from the ground, used to cool the data halls via heat exchangers, and then returned back into the earth. By doing that, environmental impacts do not happen, the firm says.

Other eco-friendly techniques are in operation, too: Distinct ducts in the server rack design aid efficiency by targeting underground-cooled air onto the parts of the rack that need cooling the most. Also, double insulation with a defrost system is used in the data room construction.

Energy is further saved by using outside air to cool rooms, the firm explains. Hot air is blown out of the building using fans, and electric shutters open and close as is needed. Chillers are available, but only as backup.

Is the data center safe from floods?

One question I had when looking at the design: If the data center is on the banks of a river with enough water flow to generate power, is there a chance it could flood during rain events? That’s not an issue, says Aruba. The buildings are raised above the regular ground, and the channel has capacity for an extra 23 meters of water depth, according to a hydrological plan published on the website.

“The data center has been designed to make the most of every possible solution to reduce its impact on the environment as much as possible,” the company says. “It is also supplied with 100 percent renewable energy from sources certified by the European Guarantee of Origin (GO).”

Additionally, the representative said the data center complies with next year’s European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which introduces more stringent European consumer data protection for global companies doing business in the trading bloc.

China Cares: Getting serious about green development – CCTV News

By Tom McGregor, Panview commentator and editor

Editor’s Note: Panview presents ‘China Cares’ — series of special coverage on China’s rural reforms, charities and comprehensive efforts to help those in poverty unlock their potential for success.

Amid China’s rapid economic development in the past few decades, over 700 million Chinese have escaped poverty to enjoy much improved living standards. Beijing had embarked on an urbanization drive that allowed hundreds of millions of migrant farmers to find better jobs in bigger cities.

The strategy seemed effective, but boosting the domestic manufacturing sector, had eventually led to increasing pollution.

But, Chinese President Xi Jinping is addressing the problem by calling for the Central Government to reform the nation’s economic structure in favor of Green development.


(Chinese President Xi Jinping stresses ecology and “green development” in boosting the growth of the Yangtze River Economic Belt in a symposium held in China’s southwest Chongqing Municipality, Jan. 5, 2016.  Photo from Xinhua by Li Tao)

Smart way for growth

China’s Cabinet, the State Council, and the National People’s Congress (NPC) have introduced measures to enact tougher laws against high-polluters, support shifting from coal and fossil fuels and provide more subsidies for renewable, green energy.

In a series of speeches, Xi proposed the five development concepts of “innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing.”

For the first time in China’s history, “green development” was included in the NPC’s 12th 5-year plan (2011-2015) and given added emphasis in the 13th 5-year plant (2016-2020).

Beijing’s eco-friendly objectives have already delivered proven results. In 2012, clean energy – hydro, wind, solar and nuclear – accounted for 14.5 percent of China’s total energy consumption and it has risen to nearly 20 percent by the end of 2016.

Green energy giant

Hu Angang, dean of the Institute of Contemporary China Studies at Tsinghua University, highlighted that green policies not only support sustainable development, but can keep China’s economy resilient.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with the directors of six international organizations at a meeting in Beijing on Sept. 12, 2017, known as the “1+6” Roundtable Forum.

(The Second “1+6” Roundtable meeting of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (center) and heads of six international organizations is held in Beijing on September. 12 Photo from Xinhua)

China has become the world’s leader in the green energy production and consumption markets. The renewable sector has witnessed explosive growth with over 300 million Chinese relying on green energy.

China is the world’s largest customer of clean burning, liquefied natural gas (LNG), while working with Russia to construct pipelines that run from Siberia into China’s power grid.

Northwest China’s Qinghai Province has transformed into a hub for green energy and other regions will pursue stronger green development.

Yantgze River Economic Belt

The Yangtze River region has long been vibrant with economic activities and cultural background. The Yangtze is the country’s longest running river that opens up from the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau and empties out at Shanghai’s tributary.

The Yangtze River Economic Belt directly impacts the Chinese provinces and autonomous regions including: Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan.

President Xi pledged to fund the river’s course renovations with enhanced controls on water resources and treatment along with stricter measures to curb water pollution.

The Yangtze links China’s Belt Road Initiative, serving as the crucial connector to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Beijing will prioritize “green development” in the region “to respect natural, economic and social mores,” according to Xinhua.

Restoring a ‘Beautiful China’

China hopes to build a more “Beautiful China” with ecological and cultural significance. Many Chinese have joined eco-friendly initiatives as well.

The Chinese company, Elion Resources Group, has hired locals to plant trees in Hobq Desert in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Consequently, northern China has experienced fewer sandstorms, while farmers in the region have increased their incomes growing medicinal plants.

Beijing has also set high-flying targets to expand the renewable energy market. We can expect to see China produce 150-200 GW (gigawatts) of solar power and 250 GW – wind by the year 2020.

China has designated low carbon cities that will have eco-friendly zones in Shanghai, Zhuhai, Qingdao, Wuxi, Kunming, Wuhan and Sanming,etc.

Meanwhile, a Green Finance Task Force was founded to issue out loans, bonds and IPOs (initial public offerings) for companies and local governments that implement an eco-friendly agenda.

Overcoming the odds for green

China has made remarkable achievements to reduce pollution and to clean up the nation’s waterways, scenery and natural resources in the past decade. It was not an easy path, since tougher regulations against polluters could have resulted in a dire economic slowdown.

Yet, the country’s GDP (gross domestic product ) continues to see higher than expected annual growth rates. Chinese President Xi, working with the government, businesses and citizenry, had all found the right balance for sustainable development.

So far, China has taken the right approach and we can expect the country to continue on with the path to prosperity that supports both green policies and good jobs for all Chinese.

China can serve as a shining example for other countries as well, who favor rapid economic development, but still adhere to an eco-friendly outlook.    

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or )


Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to “” for consideration.

China’s can solve renewable energy waste problem by 2020 – NEA

BEIJING, Oct 16 (Reuters) – China expects to solve the problem of renewable energy waste by 2020, Liang Zhipeng, deputy director of the new energy and renewable energy department of the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a presentation at a conference on Monday.

He also said the agency expects the wind sector to wean itself off government subsidies by 2022. (Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

ABP set to invest in a renewable energy plant

Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, which operates a large plant in Newry, says it will invest in a €24.5m (£22m) waste-to-energy plant in the UK through its renewable energy division Olleco. ( Gareth Fuller/PA)Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, which operates a large plant in Newry, says it will invest in a €24.5m (£22m) waste-to-energy plant in the UK through its renewable energy division Olleco. ( Gareth Fuller/PA)

Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, which operates a large plant in Newry, says it will invest in a €24.5m (£22m) waste-to-energy plant in the UK through its renewable energy division Olleco. ( Gareth Fuller/PA)

By Ellie Donnelly

October 13 2017

Larry Goodman-owned ABP Food Group, which operates a large plant in Newry, says it will invest in a €24.5m (£22m) waste-to-energy plant in the UK through its renewable energy division Olleco.

The plant will produce enough sustainable energy to power the equivalent of 12,000 homes.

Olleco recently opened a 15 megawatt Anaerobic Digestion facility in Buckinghamshire in England.

The facility is located adjacent to the Arla dairy, allowing the dairy to become a zero carbon milk processing facility.

Robert Behan, managing director of Olleco, described the new facility as an “excellent” example of the circular economy in action, with multiple supply chain partners working together to deliver a sustainable outcome.

“This state of the art Olleco facility will convert in excess of 100,000 tonnes of waste into heat, power and bio-methane for export to the national grid, and bio-fertiliser for both of ABP Food Group’s and Arla’s farmer suppliers,” Mr Behan said.

Mr Behan went on to say that sustainability was a key priority across the ABP Food Group.

Olleco, which employs over 600 people across the UK, collects waste food and cooking oil from the retail and food service sector and then converts this waste into bio diesel, bio gas and bio fertiliser.

In 2015, ABP opened the world’s first certified carbon neutral abattoir in Shropshire in England, where waste material from the food processing operation is used in conjunction with used cooking oil to provide the energy requirements on site.

ABP is the largest beef processor in Ireland and the UK and employs 10,000 people, with 49 manufacturing plants in Ireland, UK, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Holland, France and Spain.

In June, Northern Ireland agri co-op Fane Valley announced it was extending its joint venture with ABP Food Group. Their relationship is now to include Linden Foods, the meat processing business of Fane Valley.

Linden Foods is a fresh meat processor with facilities in Dungannon and Burradon in England. It also owns Kettyle Irish Foods in Co Fermanagh. Dawn Meats has also entered into a joint venture with Northern Ireland firm Dunbia.

Belfast Telegraph

Sustainable Building and Material Designs You Can Use in Your Backyard

While there is, understandably, always a lot of focus on sustainable building design and materials for homes, interior décor, and offices, people who are interested in leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle also long to find ways to keep their backyard additions greener. Read on for some of the coolest sustainable designs you can consider today.

Emerald Kingdom’s Smart Greenhouse

If you’re interested in eating your own produce all year round or being able to grow plants that normally don’t thrive in your area, you might want to check out the Copious IO-Agro Smart Greenhouse system system designed by Emerald Kingdom. This computerized greenhouse adds the advances of technology to the benefits of Mother Nature in an outdoor growing structure that features various levels of control, from manual to semi-automatic or even fully automated.

Purchase the Smart Greenhouse, and you will be able to control your entire internal growing system. Using a patent-pending design that utilizes a cloud-based mobile application interface, the Smart Greenhouse makes it simple for gardeners to monitor and control their greenhouse environment remotely.

The greenhouse comes fully equipped with environmental sensors and actuators which are connected to Emerald Kingdom’s cloud-based control center. This, in turn, gives uses the ability to send data and receive commands which trigger a relevant response in the hardware on-site at your property. You can interact with the system through a dashboard or tablet application.

One of the most helpful features of the greenhouse is that it can be set up to be completely automated, whereby interior climate conditions (think light saturation, temperature, and air and soil moisture) are monitored 24 hours a day by the tech. Any kind of small change in conditions will create a series of response automation events, and corrective measures are then taken to ensure optimal plant growing conditions are maintained at all times.

EcoSpace Studios

If you are keen to add a home office, art space, income-producing studio or other building in your backyard, you could find that the designs of EcoSpace are spot on for your needs. The company creates stylish prefab, customizable studios which can be configured for any time of usage or location. You can choose a simple one-room layout or add in kitchens, bathrooms and other amenities as required.

Better yet, the designs are green in almost every way. For example, the EcoSpace buildings are made from sustainably-harvested wood which comes from renewable, certified sources, and other eco-friendly materials are used through the structures and their interiors. The studios can come outfitted with their own pre-built green roof to boost insulation and create some green space, while the low-energy under-floor heating will also keep you toasty in winter without using up a huge amount of energy.

The EcoSpaces have thick, multi-layered floors, roofs, and walls which maximize energy efficiency because of their high insulation. Furthermore, renewable-energy options like wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, biomass boilers, and ground and air source heat pumps can be integrated into the spaces if you’d like. Note, too, that the company has a focus on the most efficient use of materials possible in their manufacturing, and eliminate waste through recycling.

ECO Garden Sheds

If you’re like most home owners, you likely have a supply of firewood, plus a huge array of gardening and maintenance equipment (e.g. lawn mower, aerator, garden hoses, rakes, secateurs, and brooms) that you don’t want to take up much-needed space in your garage. As such, you probably want to store all of these items in a garden shed. Luckily, companies such as ECO Garden Sheds are coming to the rescue with some sustainable storage solutions which are kinder to the planet than traditional plastic buildings.

The ECO Garden Sheds are durable, stylish, and affordable with a focus on quality and design. They are made from all natural wood products sourced only from FSC certified suppliers who take from sustainable forests. No plywood is used in the sheds, and the company works to minimize its carbon footprint in all areas.

In addition, the products are insect resistant, naturally resistant to decay, and easy to construct. If you decide to have ECO Garden Sheds put the product together for you, you’ll even enjoy a 10-year warranty. The natural wood color of the sheds can be left as is or painted to match your home or other surroundings as required too. The company has over 20 years of experience in the field, and produces more than 10,000 environmentally safe building each year.

Rebuilding After the Hurricanes: These Solar Homes Use Almost No Energy

The scope of the damage to mobile home parks and older neighborhoods along America’s hurricane-ravaged coasts is enormous. More than 15,500 homes were destroyed in Texas alone, and the count hasn’t even begun in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

The homeowners who plan to stay face a choice: They can rebuild what they had before, knowing the warming climate will bring more devastating storms, or they can build for energy efficiency and resilience. The decision often comes down to cost, but an innovative type of post-disaster construction is creating new options.

In the Asheville, North Carolina, offices of Deltec Homes—one of several builders of prefabricated, energy efficient houses—the phones have been ringing insistently with questions about the hurricane-resistant, net-zero-energy homes the company manufactures and ships around the world. The homes are designed to reduce energy loss and are built ready for solar panels to allow customers to go off-grid and still power up when the grid goes down in a storm.

The company has seen a rise in interest in the past month, from the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys in particular, company President Steve Linton said. “It’s an insane jump,” he said.

Nearly a decade ago, net-zero-energy homes were rare, usually custom-built for wealthy homeowners who wanted to incorporate energy efficient appliances and rooftop solar panels. Now, that’s starting to shift: within the last year, the zero-energy home market has grown 33 percent, said Shilpa Sankaran, executive director of the Net-Zero Energy Coalition.

“That’s a tiny fraction of new home construction, but in terms of growth, we’re seeing the kind of numbers solar saw in its early days in 2011 and 2012,” she said.

For that market to really take off, net-zero homes have to become cheaper—particularly in low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by extreme weather. That’s a challenge companies like Deltec are trying to meet by designing modular, prefabricated, net-zero homes that reduce energy usage, cut costs and can withstand extreme weather and power outages.

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of damage that’s been done [by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria], and scientists said certainly it was worse because of climate change,” Sankaran said. “If that’s the case, not only do we need buildings that won’t exacerbate the problem, but also ones that last longer.”

Vermont’s Zero-Energy Storm Recovery

Prefabricated, zero-energy homes became a go-to storm response in Vermont after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The storm’s remnants dumped as much as 11 inches of rain in some areas and flooded hundreds of buildings. Mobile home parks were the hardest hit: more than 500 were damaged or destroyed. While they only make up 7 percent of Vermont’s housing stock, mobile homes comprised 15 percent of those damaged during the storm.

After the floodwaters receded, a group of local developers and affordable housing experts launched Vermod, a company that designs and builds affordable zero-energy modular homes, to help low-income communities recover from the storm.

“That storm was a really valuable catalyst to action for these issues simmering in the back of people’s minds, but weren’t taking precedence,” said Phoebe Howe, program coordinator for Efficiency Vermont, an organization that worked with Vermod to finance and design the homes.

Vermod designed zero-net-energy homes after Hurricane Irene for to replace mobile homes destroyed by flooding. Credit: Vermod Homes

Vermod designed zero-net-energy homes after Hurricane Irene for to replace mobile homes destroyed by flooding. Credit: Vermod Homes

Using eco-friendly materials and energy efficient appliances, the company built modest, modular net-zero energy homes to replace 75 mobile homes around the state. An average two-bedroom, two-bathroom home costs around $115,000 if the buyers qualify for certain incentives and tax credits, Howe said.

Last year, Vermod revamped an abandoned mobile home park, building net-zero homes that it rented out to 14 low-income families. It’s also helping a developer in Delaware work on a similar modular home project.

The case for going net-zero is convincing for many lower-income people, who can spend up to 35 percent of their budget on home energy expenses, Howe said. The bigger issue is convincing developers to shift their business models.

Howe said Vermod’s projects are easily transferrable to other states; they’re primarily funded through U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grants and various housing trust funds. For areas like the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where entire communities are destroyed and parts of the grid are down indefinitely, that model could be a way to rebuild in a cheaper, more climate-friendly and resilient way.

Tricks to Energy Efficiency in Pre-Fab Homes

With so much need for new housing, net-zero-energy homebuilders are increasing their outreach to hurricane-damaged regions.

Deltec is trying to establish a bigger presence in hurricane-prone areas like coastal Texas. In Lawrence, Kansas, a company called BuildSmart is seeing a higher demand for its prefabricated wall panels, in part because many local builders are leaving to work on projects along the Gulf Coast. Other developers of zero-energy, prefabricated homes have cropped up in the last few years, from California to Minnesota to Florida.

One of Deltec's designs has rounded walls for hurricane resilience. Credit: Deltec Homes

One of Deltec’s designs has rounded walls for hurricane resilience. Credit: Deltec Homes

Prefabricated homes are manufactured in a factory then assembled on-site. In this controlled indoor setting, builders avoid weather that could harm building materials or slow construction time. Windows and corners can be made to fit together more precisely, boosting energy efficiency. And there’s potential to manufacture homes by the hundreds, rather than one at a time.

Cost Comparison for Zero-Energy Modular Homes

Deltec’s prefabricated zero-energy homes have thick walls that reduce the amount of energy lost through windows and cracks — where 25 to 40 percent of a typical home’s energy is wasted, Linton said. Usually, they’re built with passive solar and energy storage systems attached, or wired and oriented to be solar-ready for when a customer can afford to make the jump off-grid. The net-zero collection uses two-thirds less energy than a typical home, with the remaining third provided by solar or other renewable energy production.

“It’s built at a standard that’s going to essentially last for hundreds of years compared to decades for a stick-built home,” Linton said, adding that he hopes the recent hurricanes “wake people up to the realities of what we have to design against.”

Encouraging a Shift to Zero-Energy Homes

To catalyze the growth in energy efficient housing, there’s been a recent push for zero-energy building codes at both the state and city levels: California’s goal is to have all new residential buildings be net-zero by 2020; Massachusetts is requiring all new buildings to be 100 percent net-zero-energy and existing buildings to cut emissions by half by 2030.

Meeting these ambitious climate goals will take an economic and cultural shift, industry experts say. For instance, banks have to be willing to offer home loans to cover the upfront costs of net-zero-energy development, said Joe Emerson, founder of nonprofit Zero Energy Project. Better incentives for rooftop solar and cheaper energy storage will also help make net-zero-energy homes an affordable option.

“It’s absolutely possible to do this in coastal regions and hurricane and earthquake regions,” Sankaran said. “It’s not rocket science, it just needs to be part of the process.”

Trash to cash: How SWESTEP gives plastic waste a new life

People all over the world are throwing out large quantities of plastic each year, representing a huge sustainability issue. SWESTEP aims to address this by converting household plastic waste into sustainable oil and new plastic raw materials.

Over the past year, the Swedish green tech company has been working closely with Climate-KIC and the City of Copenhagen to carry out a feasibility study on the conversion of plastic waste to new sustainable oil. Since being established in 2012, SWESTEP has been developing an industrial process capable of turning all hydrocarbon-based waste and residues, such as plastic, into renewable fractions. In practical terms, this means that any organic waste stream can be considered as a feedstock, and duly be transformed into a wide range of renewable fuels or useful sustainable liquids and materials to be used again.

In theory, this process could have huge implications for how we deal with plastics, as well as waste management in general, as it could lead to the establishment of major circular economy loops into a city’s ecosystem, provide new sources of renewable energy, and create new revenues and jobs—effectively converting what was previously considered waste into a resource. One key aspect of SWESTEP’s technology is that the feedstock doesn’t require separating prior to processing, meaning mixed waste streams are just as effectively processed as sorted ones. This contrasts wildly with the status quo, in which mixed waste streams require appropriately sorting before the separate elements can be recycled.

Creating industrial inputs from waste plastic for industries that typically require fossil-based fuels or petrochemicals for major parts of their operations doesn’t just represent a welcome remedy to the problem of municipal waste, it also embodies potential to reduce the consumption of fossil-fuels and thus, contributes to climate change mitigation.

Given what was on offer, it’s easy to understand why Copenhagen was interested in a potential collaboration. Per Boesgaard, coordinator of the city’s Climate Plan 2025, had this to say:

“Waste management, and particularly plastic waste management, has represented a huge problem for the city for a long time. Plastic is now a large part of people’s daily lives, yet it represents a huge environmental problem with regards to both the consequences of its disposal and its carbon footprint.

Our challenge [as the City of Copenhagen] is to manage this problem holistically, which means solving the environmental issues without disrupting the day-to-day of our citizens. Thus, participating in projects such as this and collaborating with pioneering companies like SWESTEP to investigate the potential of their technology is both necessary and exciting for us as a city. We are very pleased with the outcome of this project and look forward to working more with SWESTEP and Climate-KIC in the future”.


In July 2016, the City of Copenhagen, SWESTEP, NISA, Copenhagen Airports, and other partners, took part in “Trash to Cash” a Climate-KIC Pathfinder project aiming to confirm if their “turnkey technology” can make a positive impact to the city’s plastic waste challenge. After testing the process on a batch composed of plastic and biomass, the feasibility study confirmed that both the feedstock, the technology, and the process were viable. Karl-Magnus, CEO of SWESTEP, had this to say about the process:

“I am delighted with the results because we can now show that SWESTEP can use our process to recycle a mixed organic MSW feedstock that includes plastics. We already are planning for further tests on other special feedstocks to evaluate their economic potential.

The outputs of the process can be used as an environmentally sound substitute for fossil fuels and thus, the municipality waste can end up being recycled into a whole range of things, such as new textiles, new plastics, medicines, renewable diesel, and jet-fuel. I am also proud that we have proved we can make a difference in waste management processes whilst also being an asset to the energy sector. Through our process, we can create new jobs, new industries, and new revenue streams for the city municipalities—all in an environmentally and climate-friendly way”.

Martin Poesgaard, Director of NISA, the Nordic Initiative for Sustainable Aviation is optimistic about the process: “With the results of this feasibility study we can see that it is possible to convert the waste plastic residues to a new oil. We [at NISA] find it quite remarkable as it occurs at relatively low temperature and without pressure setting. Our hope is that the oil produced can be further processed into a sustainable jet fuel as if possible, this could represent a major breakthrough in our efforts to make the aviation industry more sustainable”

SWESTEP will now proceed with additional documentation and analysis of the technology and the end products. Now, the goal is to find industrial partners and investors as well as involvement from the public and the government. SWESTEP is very optimistic about this and sees the solution as an important and low-cost contribution to the circular economy and environmental improvements.

Trash to Cash was a Pathfinder project funded by Climate-KIC’s Innovation Pipeline. Aimed at Climate-KIC partners, Pathfinder projects help innovators test, refine and confirm assumptions about their innovation ideas, so that they are suitably developed to be applied and implemented. They typically last between three to six months, and can receive funding from Climate-KIC up to a maximum grant of €50,000. If you would like to know more about Trash to Cash project, please contact

More from the Daily Planet ?

Today’s eco-friendly housing scene: It seems easy being green

Alternative energy sources from solar to windmills have been around for decades but always seemed too expensive on a large scale and a little flaky to catch on in a big way, something reserved for the granola and yoga crowd.

Yet just as granola bars now are regular fare on supermarket shelves and yoga studios dot cities and towns nationwide, once quirky power-saving innovations — geothermal heating and cooling, low E windows, insulated concrete forms — are moving naturally toward the mainstream.

Green efficiencies power, light up and insulate office buildings and warehouses worldwide. Eco-friendly designs are lowering long-term costs and improving air and water quality levels in homes, condos and apartments across the country.

Organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council and agencies such as the Department of Energy grade buildings and residences as to their environmental sophistication. The ratings serve as incentives for developers and architects interested in green construction.

One such measurement of power-saving that’s emerged in recent years is “net zero energy,” which determines if savings on insulation and natural resources counteract the expenses for power from the electrical grid or elsewhere. this spring noted that “facilities are saving energy, water and money with ultra-efficient strategies.” The website cited a report by the New Buildings Institute that “332 buildings verified as or on their way to achieving net zero energy certification represent a 74 percent increase since the last count in late 2015.”

By the end of 2016, NBI had verified 53 projects achieving net zero energy consumption for at least one full year, up from 33 projects in 2014.

Buildings include the Santa Fe Springs office of the California State Lottery. The cost of the retrofit process totaled $5.7 million, or $700,000 more than it would have cost to just meet code, the institute says.

Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of the net zero energy buildings verified last year had also earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

A USGBC innovation, LEED is one of the more established power-saving gauges, self-described as “the most widely used green building rating system in the world.” The design barometer certifies more than 2.2 million square feet of structures daily and more than 90,000 projects total in 165 countries.

One example of LEED’s monitoring efforts was to grant a “platinum” rating this May to the Live Oak House in St. Augustine, Florida,

According to the environmental design judge, the 2,396-square-foot house adhered to “the local vernacular and Charleston’s Single Houses constructed one room wide and several rooms long to allow the breezes to flow through unencumbered, effectively combating both heat and humidity.” The property boasts “a central hallway extending in the north-south direction with an arm off of either end and a courtyard around a central oak tree,” it says.

Other features include local materials, large porches, a steeply sloped roof and the home’s setting on a 48-foot wide site featuring a 75-year-old live oak tree. Another “striking architectural feature” are the windows. “Peering out of the kitchen-dining room window, where one’s cheeks quickly cool from the breezy Atlantic wind, an adult visitor can nearly stand head to toe in the huge windows and absorb the majestic landscape,” the LEED report says.

Considered one of the “greenest” homes in northeast Florida, the house earned national and state ecological certifications, including:

  • Passive solar lighting.
  • Low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, adhesives and sealants.
  • Energy Recovery Ventilator-incorporated heating/cooling system.
  • Hot water insulation and air filters exceed building code standards.
  • Bathrooms and garage touting an enhanced local exhaust fan that operates on a timer; and all bathrooms conserving water with WaterSense toilets, faucets and showers.
  • Unirrigated, drought-tolerant grass on a 100-percent permeable lot to maximize storm water absorption and reduce runoff into the adjacent Salt Run fishing and paddling hot spot.

The house scored an Energy Star HERS (home energy rating system) index of 50, in which the lower the score below 100, the better.

Finally, the roots of the live oak tree “continue to grow below the elevated home, which add to the overall beauty,” the environmental design system says.

Another venture that focuses on net zero energy is Insulsteel of South Carolina LLC, which calls itself a “fine custom home builder” in Charleston specializing in super energy-efficient homes at competitive prices.

Insulsteel developed the EcoShell, a “highly energy-efficient, superior indoor air quality building enclosure system.”

According the South Carolina company, the enclosure design uses structural composite material technology and offsite panel fabrication “that significantly reduces the total cost of building ownership” while able to withstand seismic forces and hurricane winds up to 220 miles per hour.

“Additionally, Insulsteel has built family sized homes with electric bills as little as $15 month,” the company says.

For more information and photos, go to

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or

Sunfinity Solar Sponsors DFW Solar Tour

DALLAS, Oct. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – Sunfinity Solar, a full-service provider of residential and commercial solar systems, will be the primary sponsor of the upcoming DFW Solar Tour, set for Saturday, October 7, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Now in its eighth year, the tour opens more than 30 eco-friendly locations around the Metroplex, from single-family homes to schools, businesses and even a Texas State Park, to the public – all free of charge.  

“We are very excited to turn a spotlight on the great potential of solar power, and this event is a perfect opportunity to meet neighbors who are already living with solar every day here in North Texas,” said John Billingsley, Chairman and CEO of Sunfinity Solar. “The homeowners and business owners are all ready to talk one-on-one with tour goers and share their personal, real-world solar experiences.”

Along with solar power, the tour stops will showcase a range of other renewable energy and environmentally friendly ideas, from rain-sensing irrigation systems to geothermal ground source heat pumps and electric cars.

The DFW Solar Tour is organized by the volunteer-run North Texas Renewable Energy Group and is held in conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society’s 20th annual National Solar Tour, the world’s largest grassroots solar event. This year, more than 165,000 participants will visit some 5,500 buildings in 3,200 communities across the U.S. In North Texas, locations will be open in Carrolton, Cedar Hill, Dallas, Denton, Fairview, Fort Worth, Frisco, Grandview, Irving, McKinney, Plano, Richardson and Southlake. (New locations are being added to the web site.)

About Sunfinity Solar

Sunfinity Solar ( is headquartered in Dallas with full-service operations throughout California and North Texas and active expansion in Texas and other states.  Sunfinity Solar offers complete system design (solar panels, inverter and metering), installation (including handling all permits and inspections), financing and ongoing system support for residences, businesses and agricultural concerns of any size that want to realize the many financial and environmental benefits of solar power.


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Industry Leaders to Share Expertise on Renewable Natural Gas Business Development

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Leaders in the biogas and renewable gas industry will gather in Sacramento today to share their knowledge of this growing business. Utilities Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PGE), along with national nonprofit organization Energy Vision, will host the free one-day conference, called “The Power of Waste: Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) for California.”

“‘The Power of Waste’ workshop brings together experts in the field of sustainable energy and provides a valuable day of learning and conversation for anyone interested in becoming more knowledgeable about renewable gas opportunities, including the economic and policy landscape,” said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions and communications at SoCalGas. “Renewable natural gas derived from organic sources like animal and plant waste is the next chapter as we look to maximize renewable sources of energy and, clean our air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“RNG is one of the lowest carbon fuel sources available, and drastically cuts health-damaging pollutants like particulates and NOx,” said Joanna Underwood, chair of Energy Vision.  “Over its lifecycle, it cuts GHG emissions 80 percent or more compared to diesel, and is actually net-carbon-negative, according to the California Air Resources Board, when made from food waste.  So the more RNG gets made and used, the more it can reduce overall carbon emissions. California has the greatest biogas potential of any state. A recent study by UC Davis estimates that the natural gas needs of around 2.4 million California homes could be fueled with RNG derived from the state’s existing organic waste alone.  We estimate California could produce enough RNG to replace 75 percent of its diesel road fuel consumption.  In the workshop, we’ll discuss practical ways to get there.”

“Arguably one of the greatest steps the state could take to reduce methane emissions from the dairy sector, as well as from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, is to incentivize or otherwise enable the development of renewable natural gas (RNG) production facilities at each site” said Johannes Escudero, chief executive officer at the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. “RNG projects capture and convert methane that would otherwise escape fugitively into the atmosphere as a super-pollutant that is many times more potent than carbon, and convert it for a positive end-use, including as a feedstock for renewable electricity or ultra-low carbon transportation fuel.”

The conference will include panelists from state agencies discussing their efforts to reduce short-lived climate pollutants and increase renewable energy production. Renewable gas developers —including those producing gas from dairies as well as landfill-diverted organic waste facilities — will share insight into building successful projects. Additional speakers will review the latest technologies that upgrade biogas to biomethane or RNG which meets utility pipeline specifications.

Just like electricity, natural gas can be made from renewable sources. Already, 60 percent of the fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California is renewable, and SoCalGas expects that to increase to 90 percent by 2018. This can help reduce the need for other fossil-based fuels, and increase our supplies with a local renewable fuel.  

Renewable gas project developers, government leadership, local and state agencies, facility operators, equipment vendors, utilities, academia and the media are invited to attend this no-cost workshop, which will take place at Capital Plaza Halls, Grand Ballroom, 1215 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 on Thursday, Oct. 5th from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.  

About SoCalGas
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in Californiafor 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook. 

About Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PGE Corporation, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California.

PGE has proudly served northern California communities, families and businesses since 1905 and is committed to become the safest, most reliable, affordable and clean energy company in the country. PGE is making strategic investments in new technologies and processes, including biomethane and low-carbon gas alternatives, that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1998, the company has reduced its SF6 emissions rate by more than 85 percent and total emissions by more than 70 percent.  

About Energy Vision
Energy Vision is a non-profit organization which researches, analyzes and promotes currently viable technologies and strategies for accomplishing the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy and transportation future. Learn more at

About Southern California Gas Co.: Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 145 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.


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