With eco-friendly travel more popular than ever, approach green …

Green may not be the most fashionable color this spring, considering the recent policy shift in Washington on climate change. But it’s still the “in” thing for many travelers.

A survey by the Singapore-based online travel agency Agoda.com found that 58 percent of hotel guests preferred staying at an environmentally friendly property. Nearly 40 percent said they’re willing to spend an extra $10 a night to sleep in a sustainable resort.

If you’re a hotelier, hanging a sign on your door that says you’re green — even if you aren’t — can boost revenue. A study by market research firm Mandala Research found that 60 percent of U.S. travelers have taken a “sustainable” trip in the last three years and that these travelers spend on average $600 per trip, and stay three days longer than the average guest. Brian Mullis, founder of the nonprofit organization Sustainable Travel International, calls the burgeoning green-travel market “too big to ignore.”

Yet some travelers remain skeptical.

“For me, green implies no manufactured products,” says Carl Lehman, an audit manager from Windsor, Ontario. And by that standard, no airline, cruise line or hotel can truly measure up.

In a perfect world, for a hotel to be considered green, it would have to be bulldozed to the ground, trees would be planted and people would let nature take its course. But that’s not the world we live in. Still, at a time when terms like green, sustainable and environmentally friendly get tossed around too much — often with the intent of luring you into a booking — it’s worth asking how to separate real green from AstroTurf.

Bret Love, who publishes an eco-travel blog out of Atlanta called Green Global Travel, advises travelers to “do your research and ask questions” to determine whether green travel options are legit.

For example, many hotels promote their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which judges on sustainable-site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. But if you travel abroad, you’ll need to be aware of other sustainability-certification programs, such as Australia’s EarthCheck or Britain’s Green Tourism Business Scheme.

“Membership in organizations such as the International Ecotourism Society or affiliations with National Geographic or World Wildlife Fund can be a good sign,” Love says. “But they don’t guarantee true sustainability commitment.”

Hotel chains sometimes have their own sustainability standards. InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands, runs an internal program called IHG Green Engage that lets its hotels measure their environmental impact. Owners can pull reports on water use and utility consumption with an eye toward reducing their carbon and water footprint.

“It makes our hotels more cost-effective and ultimately allows us to improve the value of service we offer to our guests,” says Paul Snyder, IHG’s vice president of corporate responsibility.

When it comes to airlines and cruise lines, there’s a consensus among experts that there’s almost no such thing as green — only shades of fake green. “There’s a lot of greenwashing,” says Donna Zeigfinger, owner of Green Earth Travel, a travel agency based in Cabin John, Md., that specializes in ecotourism. She says that both airlines and cruise lines pollute and dump to such an extent that some travelers find it difficult to justify a booking.

Tour operators, which combine airline, hotel and excursions into a single package, can be even more challenging to figure out because of their many components.

“It’s not always easy to tell apart authentic green, eco-friendly and sustainable tour operators from fakes,” says Joost Schreve, co-founder and chief executive of kimkim, a company based in Palo Alto, Calif., that specializes in curating independent customized tours by local travel specialists. “My best advice is to get on the phone or Skype with your travel operator and ask some detailed questions.”

Those include: What hotels do you prefer to send your travelers to and why? What common travel practices do you see that you don’t like? How do you operate in a more eco-friendly way? Can you tell me about the guides you work with and how you recruited them?

“By putting in a little bit of extra effort and asking the right questions, you can increase the likelihood that you are dealing with someone who shares your values,” Schreve says.

Ask for more than numbers, experts say.

“Aside from what bulbs they use, how many recycling bins you see, or whether they give you the option to decline daily room service, it’s hard to tell on the surface how sustainable they are really trying to be,” says Alan Muskat, who runs No Taste Like Home, a foraging-ecotour company in Asheville, N.C. “I would want to see where they are sourcing their food, what they do with leftovers and what cleaning products they use.”

If you don’t like the answers or if they seem evasive, look elsewhere. “Simply stating they are green or eco-friendly does not guarantee they are not greenwashing,” says Terry Dunn, founder of EcoTripMatch, an Albuquerque-based website that helps travelers find ecotourism providers.

Dunn says that the homework isn’t easy, requiring that you “dig deep” on the provider’s website to determine things such as the building materials used to create the lodge or hotel, its efforts to save fuel and conserve water, and green certifications. If that information is missing, perhaps the hotel or tour operator’s commitment to sustainability just isn’t there.

For guests like Rick Jarrell of Madison, Wis., it all adds up to an almost impossible task. When he and his girlfriend were looking for an off-the-grid evening on a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco recently, they found a glamping resort in a California state park. The hotel appeared to be green, with an organic farm and an ambitious recycling program. But upon closer inspection, he found that it was using generators rather than solar panels for electricity and the food was anything but organic.

“We were by no means roughing it,” he says.

No travel provider will come up perfect. After all, every airline, cruise line, hotel and resort pollutes the environment. Perhaps the best travelers can hope for is that their penchant for sustainability will make the industry more responsive to their concerns. Because, in the end, the only green the travel industry probably cares about is your money.

Elliott is a consumer advocate, journalist and co-founder of the advocacy group Travelers United. Email him at chris@elliott.org.

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Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

Consider that the most environmentally friendly states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Connecticut, while the lowest are Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana and Wyoming. Notice a pattern?

It turns out that political affiliation is closely linked to eco-friendliness, according to a study recently released by WalletHub. To determine the rankings, the credit-score website looked at 20 key metrics across three dimensions: environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors and climate-change contributions.

As the results were analyzed, a trend emerged: Blue states ranked much higher, with an average of 13, than red states, with an average of 37. A lower ranking denotes that a state is more eco-friendly. The cost of electricity, the prevalence of polluting industries and even geography are a few of the contributing factors.

Here’s a look at what made the difference:

Renewable Portfolio Standards

Blue states are much more likely than red states to have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in place to promote the use of clean energy. In fact, all five of the greenest states have either an RPS or have set renewable portfolio goals. Of the five lowest-ranking states, two states have no RPS or renewable portfolio goals.

Renewable Energy Production

To some extent, renewable energy production relies on geologic and climactic factors. Oregon and Washington rank in the top five for states that consume energy from renewable sources. They lead the nation in consuming hydroelectric energy, which is enabled by their topographic features and volume of water necessary to produce large quantities of power.

The cost of electricity impacts the return on investment of renewable energy sources. Wind and solar energy are more cost competitive in states with higher electricity prices. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts have some of the highest electricity prices, while Wyoming, North Dakota and Oklahoma have some of the lowest. It’s not surprising that a study from Greentech Media found that solar energy is least appealing in North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Energy Prices and Energy Efficiency

Wyoming and North Dakota have some of the highest energy consumption rates per capita, according to WalletHub. The cost of electricity also impacts the return from energy-efficiency improvements and habits. When electricity is more expensive, there is a greater incentive to conserve it with high-efficiency appliances, lighting, mechanical systems and conservation efforts.

Electricity Prices and Coal

It is common for cheaper electricity to come from coal, which is one of the dirtiest sources of electricity. For example, Wyoming has some of the cheapest electricity in the country, and 88 percent of its net electricity generation comes from coal. North Dakota has a similar energy production profile, with 71 percent of its net electricity generation from coal. It is interesting to note that Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming also have some of the best wind energy resources in the country, and wind energy is slowly responsible for a larger percentage of their total energy production. This trend is likely to continue as the cost of wind energy falls.

Vehicle Emissions Testing

Although auto emissions play a larger role in overall air quality in more-populated states, emissions testing does shed some light on policy differences and enforcement between red and blue states. Of the five lowest-ranking states, none require mandatory emissions testing. Meanwhile, all five of the highest-ranking states do.

Ultimately, it is more likely that states with more eco-minded citizens will have stricter laws regarding pollution, resource conservation, renewable energy and climate change mitigation. Blue policies more commonly take the environment into account and are less supportive of highly degrading practices. Although these are generalities and there are many exceptions, the WalletHub study does demonstrate how ideological differences ultimately result in very tangible differences.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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Generating Renewable Energy from Waste: Q&A with Lockheed Martin’s Craig Moeller

In a time when landfills are reaching capacity and waste generation doesn’t appear to be slowing down, Craig Moeller sees opportunity. The director of advanced energy generation for Lockheed Martin is working to take unwanted materials and convert them into useful energy, without producing enormous amounts of greenhouse gases.

In March 2016, Lockheed Martin announced the consolidation of its various efforts into a new line of business called Lockheed Martin Energy, which Moeller leads. Their main areas of focus are energy management, energy storage, nuclear systems, tidal energy, and bioenergy.

Moeller will be speaking about the future of waste management the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference next month. Recently we caught up with him to learn more about how his division at Lockheed Martin is working to turn waste into energy.

What does your work at Lockheed Martin Energy entail?

I have a portfolio of all the things that Lockheed Martin is doing to generate alternative advanced energy methods. That includes waste-to-energy — municipal waste and biomass. We’re looking at hospital waste and potentially even sludge. The focus is on developing electricity from that waste. Another part of my portfolio is marine energy — energy generation through currents, tidal flows, river rapids.

What does reducing and reusing waste mean for Lockheed Martin Energy?

We’re trying to help in all stages of energy from generation to efficiencies to alternate energy types to distribution. We see a market. Waste generation around the world is expected to almost double by 2025. Landfills are filling up. Something has to be done. Lockheed Martin wants to be part of the solution.

How has the treatment of waste changed over time, and how is it being used for energy now?

The big thing with waste has been incineration. That’s certainly an efficient method in some respects, but it has downfalls. It produces a lot of greenhouse gases. The world realized that we’ve got to have alternative methods. There’s been a lot of work in a field called advanced gasification.

We partner with Concord Blue, and we’re using their technology to take waste and generate syngas, a synthetic gas rich in hydrogen that also has carbon monoxide in it — things you can use to fuel electric engines, turbines, and plants that would normally use natural gas. You’re not getting it to the temperature of incineration. You’re transforming waste into this gas and limiting the greenhouse gases.

What are your current projects involving this technology?

We have a small-scale 250-kilowatt gross output demonstration facility in Owego, New York, to prove out the Concord Blue advanced gasification technology. We take the theory and implement it at a working facility that continuously generates syngas. Electricity is a good byproduct as we look at different feed systems like biomass, municipal waste, or something else. We can offset electricity at the facility.

In conjunction, we have our first production project with Concord Blue in Herten, Germany. It’s a 5-plus megawatt facility gross output that’s going to do biomass like wood chips. It’s enough electricity to power about 5,000 homes.

What are the biggest challenges you face in turning waste into energy?

There are several challenges. We have the demonstration plant in Owego and then Herten, but we’re not to “whole production,” where we’re signing up a lot of clients. We’re still proving out that we can reliably sustain a facility that’s generating enough syngas to develop electricity on a day-to-day basis. Think of it as part of the test phase.

Feedstock, depending on what it is, has different challenges for how to get it, prepare it, and convey it into the system. With biomass — wood chips — there is a balance of how much electricity we can develop on an output depending on moisture. You want the feedstock to be dry because water will vaporize in the system. That affects your components and dilutes some of the syngas. Then you have to worry about size. You can’t put big chunks in the system.

When you move to municipal waste, you want feedstock to have a significant carbon content. By the way, plastic does. One of the really good things about advanced gasification is we can even feed in plastic. But we have to take out metals, concrete, rocks, and things that are not carbon-based that aren’t going to provide any energy content. Luckily there’s a market for recycling.

Then a more exotic feedstock like sludge is a big problem because it’s 80 to 90% water. That takes a lot to process. People want to talk sludge, but that technology is still in development.

You mentioned medical waste, too. How do you treat that?

For any society, that is the hardest. There are infectious materials and needles so you don’t want to bury it. Instead, it goes into advanced gasification. You heat it to a temperature where it’s not burning but is turned into a gas. Then we clean it up and make syngas. You’d be surprised, but there is energy content in medical waste.

How does energy fit into Lockheed Martin’s business strategy?

We’re working end-to-end across the whole spectrum. People ask me all the time, ‘Why is Lockheed Martin in energy? It doesn’t make sense.’ If I relate something we’re doing in our mainstream to what we’re doing with energy, you would say, ‘Oh, that makes total sense.’ What Lockheed Martin does well is systems integration and proving out technologies. Energy is another set of products for us to work on.

Lockheed Martin and Concord Blue want to get to the point where we have an offering of different sizes of waste energy. Someone can say, ‘I have this much waste I’m generating every day’ or ‘I’m in a remote site’ and we have a scalable solution. We’re using garbage to develop the fuel we need.

Craig Moeller will be speaking at the Environmental Leader Conference in Denver June 5-7, 2017. His track, The Next Era of Waste Management, starts at 2:10 pm on June 7.

Qatar & Sweden plan eco-friendly desalination plant

Qatar and Sweden are planning to set up a green water desalination project that would use only solar and wind energy to treat water and reduce 4,50,000 tons of carbon emission per year.

Both countries have agreed to “start technical workshops in near future” on this eco-friendly project that is planned to come up in the north of Qatar.

“Sweden and Qatar are negotiating on a water producing project that will be setup in the north of Qatar and it will use only wind and solar energy to desalinate sea water. My meeting with Minister of Energy and Industry H E Mohammed Saleh Al Sada has been very productive on this subject,” said Oscar Stenström, Swedish Vice Minister of Trade yesterday while talking to media.

The minister said that the proposed water plant would use 200 megawatt power from wind and 200 megawatt from solar panels. “The cost of water desalination will be as low as $1 per cubic meter. There is a common understanding between the two sides on the project and the technical workshops will be soon held in Qatar to fine tune some technical aspects related to execution of solar power generation of the project as Qatar’s climate is rough with high temperature, sand, dust.”

Stenström said that the project would also address water scarcity issue and promote green growth, sustainable farming and would bring food security for Qatar. To a question about the estimated cost of the project, he said that it was “too early” to give an estimate but it might be below $2b.

He said that Swedish companies had successfully employed same techniques in Algeria, Morocco and South Africa. “A small scale project is already running here in Qatar in Al Ruwais.”

Stenström said that from Swedish side, Monsson Energy AB and Sweco AB would be the key stakeholders in the proposed project while Kahraama and Qatar Electricity and Water Company would be involved from Qatar’s side.

He said that Swedish government had chosen Qatar as priority market for export and engagement. “We have a list of 26 priority countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar from the Gulf region. Middle East and Asia have a major role in Swedish export strategy as these are the areas where growth will happen.”

The Swedish minister said that Sweden wanted to expand trade relations with Qatar. “Due to low oil prices, trade figures declined in last few years. Sweden exported goods worth QR500m to Qatar in 2016. Now along trade of goods, we will also increase trade of services between the two countries.”

The minister said that a Swedish health delegation would visit Qatar in October this year to foster bilateral cooperation in areas of dementia, cancer and diabetes. “My meeting with Minister of Public Health H E Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari was very useful. A Swedish company Global Pharma will work as an umbrella organization to expand existing cooperation in health sector,” he said, adding that Sweden had invested heavily in life sciences.

Sharing details of his meeting with Qatar Investment Authority CEO, Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani, he said that that Sweden had presented five areas in which Qatari companies could invest including sustainable transportation, housing, bio-economy, life sciences, IT and smart manufacturing. “In these five areas we are seeking cooperation of investors from Qatar. I have received a great response from Al Thani.”

Stenström said that during his visit to Qatar to attend Doha Forum he had also discussed smart Qatar with Reem Al-Mansoori, the Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Society Sector Development at the Ministry of Transport and Communications. “We talked ways of cooperation on upgradation of ports and harbors’ infrastructure.”

Responding to a question on current volume of Qatari investment in Sweden, he said it was too little. “There is a tremendous scope for investments in small and medium sized startups which are providing new solutions and new services.”

Praising Qatar’s ambitions on sustainability, he said that he had paid a field visit to Msheireb. “Swedish companies are interested to invest in areas like waste to energy. A waste management company is already part of the project. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are two areas which have brought two countries closer to each other.”

Stenström said that Sweden was using just 1 percent of waste for land fill while the rest of 99 percent was either being recycled or used to generate energy. “We use it for district heating, Qatar can use it for district cooling,” he suggested.

The minister said that both sides were engaged in finalizing date of visit of H H the Emir to Sweden and it would be announced in near future. Ambassador of Sweden to Qatar Ewa Polano, who was accompanying the minister said that during the visit of H H the Emir several Memorandum of Understandings on the ministries of education, foreign affairs and health would be signed between two countries.


Is Gov. Cuomo’s Waste of Taxpayer Money Good Policy

A quick thought experiment: Take a dollar out of your pocket, and light it on fire. Are you sad? Are you mad? Are you just confused? What if I tell you to pull another dollar out of your pocket and suggest lighting that one on fire? Do you do it? I hope not, but that is what Governor Cuomo’s Public Service Commission asked the people of New York to do recently.

That is bad, but what is worse is that up until now there has been little to no push back – including from members on the right that have no excuse like party loyalty holding them back. As this issue continues to grow in its un-popularity, hopefully this innaction will soon start changing.

Last month energy producers in New York started paying for a Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) that will support one company that owns a few nuclear power plants in New York – and a few other states. This $1 billion tax, in the first two years alone, is bad, but what makes it absolutely confounding to understand is that money won’t help achieve the goal of the PSC – not even by 1 percentage point.

The Commission was tasked with developing a renewable energy plan. They did that, deciding that New York should use 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That is a great goal, well, it is a great goal if it didn’t cost any money. However, it will cost money and energy price hikes effect the economy regressively because everyone, regardless of income, uses energy. Furthermore, renewable sources of energy are still relatively expensive because of their inefficiencies compared to coal, natural gas, or Nuclear Power (which isn’t renewable). That means that to reach 50 percent by 2030 investments would need to be made into RD, infrastructure would need to be built, and investments in start-ups might even need to be made.

But instead of raising money for the things that would get the PSC’s plan closer to their goal, they proposed a tax that wouldn’t help at all. They proposed a tax that merely will make the people of New York poorer and all because of a back-room deal done with little attention and no chance for anyone to voice their opinion.

Fortunately, there is a currently a bill in Albany that calls for a one year moratorium on this secret tax. A delay would give us the time to give this tax the attention it deserves. Let’s first find out who is going to get hurt and why New Yorkers would pay hundreds of millions of dollars to bailout upstate nuclear power plants instead of implementing the tax, paying for it, and then looking for those that it hurt – while the people that benefit from the tax ride around on their yachts.

Hopefully a few of the Long Island Senators will get on board and help us slow down this crony back-room tax, and this much needed push back might have started. Sen. Elaine Phillips and Sen. Marcellino both sent letters to Governor Cuomo outlining their opposition. But, there is still a long way to go. Every Senator should stand opposed to Governor Cuomo and his public service commission on this tax, and Republicans like Kemp Hannon, John Flanagan and John LaValle, should be on the offense. They should join their colleagues Sen. Phillips and Sen. Marcellino and help stop this nuclear power plan bailout that hurts their constituents.

If everything in Long Island was well funded then maybe a nuclear plant owned by an out of state company would make sense to support, but in the meantime Long Islander’s should be protected from this tax before, not after, they are asked to pull another dollar bill out of their pockets to light on fire.

Spartanburg-based manufacturer Menzel plugs into solar

After almost 52 years in business, Spartanburg County’s first foreign manufacturer is reenergizing its operations in more ways than one.

Menzel LP has installed an 180-kilowatt (kW) solar system on the roof of its nearly 100,000-square-foot headquarters facility at 951 Simuel Road off Interstate 85 Business.

Hans-Joachim Menzel, the second-generation owner of the family-run company established by his father in 1965 in Spartanburg, said the investment signifies Menzel’s long-term commitment to the community and sustainable practices.

It doesn’t hurt that it will also have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

“I just paid my power bills for the next 30 years in one shot,” Menzel said. “It’s a significant investment that we think will pay off in the long run.”

Menzel said the company’s new solar panels produce as much energy as the plant consumes.

The solar system feeds into Duke Energy’s power grid and the company is credited for the energy produced. The company is also credited for any excess energy produced.

“Basically, we are producing our own power,” Menzel said. “I guess you could say we are almost totally green.”

Menzel’s new 180-kW solar system produces as much energy as the plant consumes, according to its owner. Photo courtesy of Thomas Koenig.

Menzel said the solar panels are one of many updates the company has made to the facility during the past few years.

The solar installation began with the addition of a new roof.

New windows and skylights have been installed, allowing natural light to pour into the building, which includes the company’s corporate offices and production space.

The offices have been remodeled to project a more modern European feel. A few of the changes include LED lighting, dark tile floors, white walls, contemporary furnishings, and enlarged color photographs.

Menzel said the company has also installed foam insulation to cut its energy waste.

The owner said he hopes more manufacturers in the Upstate will follow suit, particularly on the solar installation. He credited tax incentives for solar as being a major attractor for companies who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Without incentives you can’t do it. It’s just not feasible,” he said. “It’s a steep decision for a businessman to make. For us, it was the right decision.”

Menzel, who runs the company alongside his wife, Birgit, said the operation has about 50 employees.

Menzel, the company, produces custom machinery for a range of industries.

The 52-year-old company has invested a significant amount in updating its headquarters and decreasing its carbon footprint. Photo courtesy of Thomas Koenig.

The company can trace its roots back to Menzel’s grandfather, Karl Menzel, who founded the machinery business in 1925 and moved it to Bielefeld, Germany after World War II.

In 1965, his father, Gerhard Menzel visited a trade show in Atlantic City, N.J., where he ran into the late textile magnate Roger Milliken.

Milliken was impressed with Menzel’s equipment, including its iconic A-frame large roll winding and in-plant transportation system.

“Mr. Milliken bought all of my father’s equipment, but said he would have to come to Spartanburg to pick up the check,” Menzel said. “When he came to get it, he fell in love with the location and decided to set up his plant here.”

Menzel said his father’s decision to move to the Upstate paved the way for other European companies to relocate here.

He believes the influx of those companies paved the way for BMW Group’s decision in 1992 to build its first plant outside of Germany in Spartanburg County.

“A lot of people think these companies are foreign companies, but they’re not,” Menzel said. “These are American companies. They employ American workers. The people who come here from Germany and other countries choose to stay here. There are 6,000 Germans here now. It makes me proud to think that really all started with my dad.”

For more information, visit: www.menzelusa.com.

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3 Ways for Self-Storage Operators to Reduce Waste and Their Carbon Footprint – Inside Self

Owning a self-storage facility can boost your entrepreneurial dreams, but it can also be taxing on the environment. As with any business, you have to manage waste efficiently to reduce your carbon footprint. Because my company is dedicated to promoting eco-friendly practices, we’ve come up with some helpful ways to help self-storage operators reduce waste. Not only will these tips help you protect the environment, they could make your business more attractive to potential customers.

1. Switch to Solar

Solar panels can be a game-changer for self-storage businesses. It may be intimidating to make the investment, but conserving energy directly translates into savings, which means you could quickly earn back your initial costs. The typical grid-style layout of self-storage buildings lends itself to solar, which will absorb free and limitless energy from the sun without disrupting design or aesthetic.

This renewable energy source can power up your entire business—rain or shine. You may even qualify for tax breaks and rebates by going green. Head over to energy.gov to see if you qualify.

2. Monitor Your Energy Use

If you’re not ready to make the jump to solar, consider other energy-saving technology, like app-controlled thermostats or motion-sensor lights. Using smart thermostats can be savvy, especially for climate-controlled units. These app-enabled devices allow you to monitor air-conditioning and heat levels in every space and control it right from a tablet or smartphone. Imagine being able to oversee the temperature of every unit, as well as your office, right from your phone. You can!

Motion-sensor lights are an inexpensive way to reduce energy use. Since customers typically check their units only a few times per month, it doesn’t make sense to have lights shining all night long throughout the year. Instead, install lights that only activate when someone approaches. This can also be a smart security move, since motion-sensor lights can alert you to intruders after hours.

3. Encourage the Community

Storage facilities often become traps for unwanted goods and waste, so consider connecting to your community and promoting green practices. Try hosting a document-shredding day or launching a recycling initiative. These types of events allow you to get to know people in your neighborhood, and they convey a compassionate and eco-friendly brand identity to the public.

On site, provide appropriate trash and recycling containers to cut back on litter and abandoned goods. Display information for local donation centers, or try to arrange weekly pickups from Salvation Army or Goodwill. The easier you can make it for tenants to manage their unwanted items, the easier it will be to keep your business clean and tidy.

There are many ways to reduce waste, and it doesn’t matter if you start big or small. Cutting back is good for both the environment and your wallet!

Dani Nicole is a professional and creative writer with a habit of buying “too many” books and drinking “too much” coffee. She writes regularly for Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence. For more information, visit www.modernize.com.

EU 2020 Renewable Energy Targets Boost Waste to Energy Market …

To receive Frost Sullivan’s latest infographic on the European WTE Plant Market 2020, and to talk to us, please email Anna Zanchi, Corporate Communications: anna.zanchi@frost.com 

“WTE plants are a key factor for quality recycling and pave the way for a circular economy that will bring in more employment opportunities, especially in semi-skilled and entry-level jobs,” said Frost Sullivan Energy Environment Research Analyst Akshaya Gomatam Ramachandran. “To capture new opportunities, leading municipalities and corporations should develop new circular models along their supply chains, target hard-to-recycle materials within waste types to achieve the zero-waste goal, and follow the eco-effectiveness approach to generate cyclical, cradle-to-cradle material flow.”

The grate-based incineration system is set to dominate the market in terms of revenue and the number of plants installed. This is due to high maturity, robustness, flexibility and cost effectiveness. Other WTE developments include:

  • Increasing demand as countries make their shift from coal and nuclear power to renewable energy.
  • Efficient recovery of waste and generation of electricity will minimize the environmental impact of modern WTE plants and offer large carbon dioxide (CO2) savings.
  • In Scandinavia, the number of WTE plants is expected to increase gradually through 2020, as energy consumption is largely dependent on renewable energy.
  • The incineration segment is expected to be profitable due to modernisation or retrofit works of ageing WTE plants that must now comply with current environmental standards.
  • Poland is currently considered one of the most attractive markets in Europe for thermal WTE technologies. About five new projects with capacity of more than 1 million tonnes per annum are in the preparation stage and are likely to enter the market.
  • Private companies may build ownership profiles with partners in and outside Europe, as WTE plants are becoming profitable investments.

“To improve the quality of the existing WTE services and harness additional capacities, a substantial amount of investment is needed. Innovative firms and small and medium enterprises should look toward PPP as a way to build strong financial support,” noted Ramachandran. “PPP will trigger foreign direct investment and produce new-generation WTE plants that are likely to yield significant revenue.”

About Frost Sullivan
Frost Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. http://www.frost.com/prod/servlet/register-form.pag?refpage=http%3A//www.frost.com/prod/servlet/frost-home.pagSRC=PR

Anna Zanchi
Corporate Communications – Europe
P: +39.02.4851 6133
E: anna.zanchi@frost.com 

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eu-2020-renewable-energy-targets-boost-waste-to-energy-market-and-public-private-partnerships-300455893.html

SOURCE Frost Sullivan

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These smart solar blinds could power eco-friendly apartments

I have renewable energy powering my current apartment and, as someone who flies quite a lot and can’t quite give up beef burgers, it’s a start. But it’s a long way from the dream: living in a self-sufficient smart home (OK, flat) that generates its own energy.

This was precisely what Yevgen Erik was chasing when his attempts to make his home autonomous from the grid lead him to the initial idea for smart, solar blinds in summer 2015.

“I tried to put solar panels on the roof but it wasn’t the right place to mount them,” SolarGaps’ co-founder and CEO told us. “I tried a lot of solutions. Wind power, different materials of panels. I figured out that the major problem for many homes, and for myself, is wasted energy through the windows.”

Read this: The smart apartment you can take with you

Erik, who was also working on eco-friendly houses and installing blinds for office blocks at the time, wanted to create something for people with no roof to house their dream solar panels. The SolarGaps Kickstarter campaign is now live with a modest target of $50,000 – that’s because startup already has three angel investors and an accelerator behind it. There will be some limited shipping in September but otherwise estimated delivery will be set for December. It is, by all accounts, ready to go into production.

Here’s how it all works: the aluminium and fiberglass blinds come in a range of sizes from XS through to XXL with custom blinds also available. Kickstarter prices start at $390 (XS) rising to $1910 (XL) which is 50% off the retail price.

They’re horizontal, multi-slat blinds that feature SunPower monocrystalline cells – the actual solar panels. Plus they’re motorised and designed to follow the sun, a feature apparently inspired by sunflowers. The biggie: SolarGaps works best on the exterior of windows.

These smart solar blinds could power eco-friendly apartments

As well as saving the planet, the team plans to save people money on their energy bills too, particularly air con bills as the blinds reduce the heat that’s generated. Erik says the average electricity + air con bill could be reduced by around $100 a month, depending on the size of your windows, whether they’re facing south and how much you spend on air conditioning.

Something like this is pretty well poised to take advantage of two big trends: first that solar power grew 50% last year, largely down to the US and China. And second that more people are living in cities, in apartments than ever – the latest figures for Europe show that the percentage is as much as 40%. As Erik puts it, SolarGaps could appeal to early adopters looking to own a zero emissions home as well as businesses wanting to get renewable energy incentives.

Smart home smarts

As for how SolarGaps smart blinds connect to the rest of your smart home, or smart flat, there’s quite a lot in the works. It starts, of course, with a smartphone app for iPhone and Android which connects over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can raise or lower the blinds, change the angle, control them when you’re away and set up timers for them to open and close.

You can also see how much solar energy is being created, typically up to 100 – 150 Wh if you have a total of 10 square feet installed. That’s together with a control module with its own motion, temperature and ambient light sensors.

Erik also has prototype blinds hooked up to Google Home, with voice commands to control blinds in various of rooms already working, and says Alexa compatibility is achievable in the next three months. The most interesting tie-in, though, seems to be with the Nest Thermostat.

“When you have left your home, SolarGaps can switch to maximum generation mode, close and protect your home from overheating and generate electricity,” he says. “When you enter the home, you can set scenarios where all blinds will open and you get enough light.

“In the winter, you don’t need so much energy so it can make a decision on what is better – to generate electricity or maybe heat up the apartment. The Nest thermostat can send a signal to heat the apartment and the SolarGaps will open and let the sun go through the window.”

These smart solar blinds could power eco-friendly apartments

People power

Now, we know what you’re thinking. Genius idea but they might not go with my decor. A rep for SolarGaps told us that the team might explore “narrower, less heavy duty blinds” that can be mounted indoors as a future product after establishing the baseline of how efficient the product can be with this first offering. (Incidentally, some users might be able to use the smart blinds inside the window, depending on the type of glass and how clean you keep it but there could be up to a 50% drop in efficiency).

Erik himself points out that the current design has serious advantages, firstly that opaque solar blinds block more light than traditional, decorative ones. And there’s more. “Right now it looks a shield and it works like a shield,” he says. “It can protect your windows from hurricanes and strong winds and using weather predictions, we could close the blinds when there’s bad weather conditions.”

After pitching the setup to early adopters, focusing on the US, the SolarGaps will start to fulfill potential orders from a range of businesses – from suppliers to Las Vegas hotels to buildings in Abu Dhabi. There are also certifications to deal with which vary from country to country and state to state. First, SolarGaps will heading to NASA’s Ames Center this summer after being selected by NASA and Google alongside 90 other startups for technology that could help “one billion people in ten years”.

The resources on offer will, Erik says, allow the team to accelerate the implementation of this new ecosystem which extends to the software to allow people to buy and sell electricity from each other. If you’re not interested in selling back to the grid, you can store electricity in a battery, like Tesla’s Powerwall, at home. Right now, full autonomy is more of a long term goal but in the short term, users can reduce their dependence on the grid.

“From my thinking, this is the only way for people who live in an apartment to generate their own electricity,” says Erik. “There’s about one million energy producers in Germany and the same is happening in Ukraine. If we have a large amount of people generating electricity, we don’t need the big companies to provide it for us.”

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UPDATE 1-China renewable power waste worsens in 2016 – Greenpeace

* Wasted wind hits 17 pct of total generation in 2016

* Lost earnings estimated at $4.95 bln in two years

* China to raise renewables from 6.3 pct to 9 pct of total
(Adds new renewable electricity target; executive quote)

By David Stanway

SHANGHAI, April 19 The amount of electricity
wasted by China’s solar and wind power sectors rose
significantly last year, environment group Greenpeace said in a
research report published Wednesday, despite government pledges
to rectify the problem.

China has promised to improve what it called the “rhythm” of
grid and generation capacity construction to avoid
“curtailment,” which occurs when there is insufficient
transmission to absorb power produced by renewable projects.

But Greenpeace said wasted wind power still reached 17
percent of the total generated by wind farms last year, up from
8 percent in 2014, and was as high as 43 percent in the
northwestern province of Gansu. The amount that failed to make
it to the grid was enough to power Beijing for the whole of
2015, it added.

Solar curtailment across China rose 50 percent over 2015 and
2016. More than 30 percent of solar power in Gansu and
neighbouring Xinjiang failed to reach the grid.

Greenpeace said earlier that total solar and wind investment
between now and 2030 could hit $780 billion.

But, rising levels of waste cost the industry as much as
34.1 billion yuan ($4.95 billion) in lost earnings over 2015-16,
it said Wednesday.

China’s energy regulator said late on Tuesday that it aims
to raise the share of non-hydro renewable electricity delivered
to the grid to 9 percent of the total by 2020, up from 6.3
percent last year and 5 percent in 2015.

It said renewable capacity hit 34.6 percent of the national
total in 2016, while actual generation from renewable sources –
including major hydro projects – stood at 25.4 percent of the
total last year.

China produced 12.3 billion kWh of solar power in the first
quarter of 2017, up 31 percent year-on-year but accounting for
just 1.1 percent of total generation over the period, official
data showed on Monday. Wind hit 62.1 billion kWh, 4.3 percent of
the total and dwarfed by the 77.9 percent share occupied by
thermal electricity.

Grid construction has slipped behind, with China focusing on
expensive ultra-high voltage (UHV) routes that better suit
large-scale power generation projects.

“Upgrades to the system are urgently needed, including a
more flexible physical structure of the grid, efficient
cross-region transmission channels and smart peak load
operation,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Yuan

Many regions have used renewables as back-up electricity
sources during peak periods, and it falls idle when power use
drops. Provinces are now lobbying for UHV connections allowing
them to sell surplus power to other regions.

Executives at a Shanghai conference on Wednesday said
curtailment was eroding cash flows and discouraging investment,
and while China was looking for solutions, the answer was likely
to be technological.

“If you are in remote areas and there’s no grid around, you
build storage – transformer stations and storage plants that can
make the energy available at a later stage,” said Andreas
Liebheit, president of Heraeus Materials Technology Shanghai,
which produces specialist materials for solar panels.
($1 = 6.8894 yuan)
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)