From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Zero Net Energy - January 13, 2020

 Ithaca, NY raises $100 million to decarbonize its buildings

18 story tower gets a deep energy retrofit
Editorial Comment:  Greening the Empire State Building (from 2011)

WorldG[reen]B[uilding]C[ouncil] Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment expands to include embodied carbon
WorldGBC Advancing Net Zero Project

Telosa - "To create a new city in America that sets a global standard for urban living, expands human potential, and becomes a blueprint for future generations"

Passive House 101 - Anatomy of an amazing net-zero cold climate passive house in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
hat tip John B Hoag

International Energy Agency commits to become net zero by 2024
Net Zero by 2050:  A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector
hat tip to

Robin Wood - an urban block made of wood which will be net zero in construction and operation, including a micro-forest

Build Better Now - virtual reality presentation of green building prepared for COP26

Ripple House - entry for Solar Decathlon in Wuppertal, Germany

Affordable net zero houses which are carbon negative, harvest 100% of the rainwater, clean their sewage and potentially grow their own food

MA’s first energy positive public school, the 70,242-sf Annie E. Fales Elementary School
hat tip to Rudy Perkins

Wisconsin’s first carbon neutral school
hat tip to Rudy Perkins

Monday, January 10, 2022

Global Carbon Budget 2021

Global Carbon Budget 2021

2020, Fossil CO2 emissions (EFOS) declined by 5.4 % relative to 2019, with fossil emissions at 9.5 ± 0.5 GtC yr−1 (9.3 ± 0.5 GtC yr−1 when the cement carbonation sink is included), emissions from land-use change (ELUC) was 0.9 ± 0.7 GtC yr−1, for a total anthropogenic CO2 emission of 10.2 ± 0.8 GtC yr−1 (37.4 ± 2.9 GtCO2). 

Also, for 2020, Atmospheric CO2 concentration is measured directly, and its growth rate (GATM) was 5.0 ± 0.2 GtC yr−1 (2.4 ± 0.1 ppm yr−1), ocean CO2 sink (SOCEAN) was 3.0 ± 0.4 GtC yr−1 and terrestrial CO2 sink (SLAND) was 2.9 ± 1 GtC yr−1, with a carbon budget imbalance (BIM) of −0.8 GtC yr−1. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration averaged over 2020 reached 412.45 ± 0.1 ppm. Preliminary data for 2021, suggest a rebound in Fossil CO2 emissions (EFOS) relative to 2020 of +4.9 % (4.1 % to 5.7 %) globally.

Fossil COemissions significantly decreased in 23 countries from 2010-2019 about 2.5 GtC yr fossil fuel COemissions or around  one quarter of world COfossil emissions.
  1. The remaining carbon budget for a 50% likelihood to limit global warming to 1.5°C, 1.7°C and 2°C has shrunk to 120 GtC (420 GtCO2), 210 GtC (770 GtCO2) and 350 GtC (1270 GtCO2) respectively, equivalent to 11, 20 and 32 years from the beginning of 2022, assuming 2021  emissions levels. Total anthropogenic emissions were 10.4 GtC yr-1 (38.0 GtCOyr-1) in  2020, with a preliminary estimate of 10.7 GtC yr-1 (39.4 GtCO2 yr-1) for 2021. The remaining carbon budget to keep global temperatures below the climate targets of the Paris Agreement has shrunk by 21 GtC (77 GtCO2) relative to the remaining carbon budget  estimate assessed in the IPCC AR6 Working Group 1 assessment. Reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 entails cutting total anthropogenic COemissions by about 0.4 GtC (1.4  GtCO2) each year on average, comparable to the decrease during 2020, highlighting the scale of the action needed.

Anybody interested in an online/all the time 11, 20, 33 year World Game?

Received: 28 Oct 2021 – Accepted for review: 29 Oct 2021 – Discussion started: 04 Nov 2021
Abstract. Accurate assessment of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere in a changing climate is critical to better understand the global carbon cycle, support the development of climate policies, and project future climate change. Here we describe and synthesize data sets and methodology to quantify the five major components of the global carbon budget and their uncertainties. Fossil CO2 emissions (EFOS) are based on energy statistics and cement production data, while emissions from land-use change (ELUC), mainly deforestation, are based on land-use and land-use change data and bookkeeping models. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is measured directly, and its growth rate (GATM) is computed from the annual changes in concentration. The ocean CO2 sink (SOCEAN) is estimated with global ocean biogeochemistry models and observation-based data-products. The terrestrial CO2 sink (SLAND) is estimated with dynamic global vegetation models. The resulting carbon budget imbalance (BIM), the difference between the estimated total emissions and the estimated changes in the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere, is a measure of imperfect data and understanding of the contemporary carbon cycle. All uncertainties are reported as ±1σ. For the first time, an approach is shown to reconcile the difference in our ELUC estimate with the one from national greenhouse gases inventories, supporting the assessment of collective countries’ climate progress.

For the year 2020, EFOS declined by 5.4 % relative to 2019, with fossil emissions at 9.5 ± 0.5 GtC yr−1 (9.3 ± 0.5 GtC yr−1 when the cement carbonation sink is included), ELUC was 0.9 ± 0.7 GtC yr−1, for a total anthropogenic CO2 emission of 10.2 ± 0.8 GtC yr−1 (37.4 ± 2.9 GtCO2). Also, for 2020, GATM was 5.0 ± 0.2 GtC yr−1 (2.4 ± 0.1 ppm yr−1), SOCEAN was 3.0 ± 0.4 GtC yr−1 and SLAND was 2.9 ± 1 GtC yr−1, with a BIM of −0.8 GtC yr−1. The global atmospheric CO2 concentration averaged over 2020 reached 412.45 ± 0.1 ppm. Preliminary data for 2021, suggest a rebound in EFOS relative to 2020 of +4.9 % (4.1 % to 5.7 %) globally.

Overall, the mean and trend in the components of the global carbon budget are consistently estimated over the period 1959–2020, but discrepancies of up to 1 GtC yr−1 persist for the representation of annual to semi-decadal variability in CO2 fluxes. Comparison of estimates from multiple approaches and observations shows: (1) a persistent large uncertainty in the estimate of land-use changes emissions, (2) a low agreement between the different methods on the magnitude of the land CO2 flux in the northern extra- tropics, and (3) a discrepancy between the different methods on the strength of the ocean sink over the last decade. This living data update documents changes in the methods and data sets used in this new global carbon budget and the progress in understanding of the global carbon cycle compared with previous publications of this data set (Friedlingstein et al., 2020; Friedlingstein et al., 2019; Le Quéré et al., 2018b, 2018a, 2016, 2015b, 2015a, 2014, 2013). The data presented in this work are available at (Friedlingstein et al., 2021).

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Electric Appliances as Virtual Power Plants

“We’re thinking we can turn water heaters, refrigerators, thermostats, electric vehicles and batteries into virtual power plants [VPPs]” to help balance the grid's increasing clean electricity, Jigar Shah, director of the DOE Loan Programs Office [LPO] said in a September 2021 interview (  The LPO are offering loan guarantees for companies that produce grid-responsive, energy-efficient appliances and equipment and low interest, long term loans for low-income buyers, a $4 billion per month market, for joining a distributed energy resources [DER] system to act as a modular, virtual power plant [VPP].

"Well, I think these distributed energy programs [DER] are the most straightforward way that we’ve thought about it [environmental justice]. And when you think about appliances, it’s not just refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters. It also includes solar plus storage, but it also includes electric cars. Right? So electric cars are DER-enabled appliances as well, right? So when you think about, when you look at the Texas polar vortex, there were some people who actually were able to power their whole house off their car. And so, you know, in fact, I’d say a car battery is probably the cheapest way to get a battery these days, because it’s, you know, 90 kilowatt-hours for I think, $14,000 or $15,000 for a used Chevy Bolt.  So I think that there’s a lot that we can do there. I also think that the scope and the scale that we’re trying to get after is pretty large. And, you know, I think we need to find large pockets of opportunity, right? So when you think about appliances, appliances alone — not counting electric vehicles — is about a $10 billion a month — a month — business. Right? And roughly 40% of those purchases are made by low-moderate income households. Right, so that’s $4 billion a month. So if we can shift $4 billion dollars a month of purchases, from, you know, like some form of payday lending to low-interest loans with long durations, that’s going to save a tremendous amount of money for the average consumer. And if those appliances are plugged into distributed energy resources, all of our modeling shows that it’s the only idea that we have that can actually reduce electricity rates. Not reduce the growth of electricity rates, but actually reduce electricity rates…."

“We can insert ourselves there and help people get 6…or 7 percent interest rates,” Shah said. ​“But in exchange, they have to opt in their air-conditioning system into a distributed energy resources project and…get paid to provide grid flexibility...” 

"California spilled about 1600 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy last year [2020], and they could have captured a lot of that if they had demand dexterity in the grid. So they could, you know, make people’s houses a little bit cooler than they had set it for, and use some of that power then, and then not used it later in the afternoon when they would have turned it on, right? And so starting to time the loads in the homes with  when there’s overproduction of electricity is something that does qualify for Loan Programs Office, and a lot of the residential solar players are in the best place to, you know, promote those services.”

This is one way that using electric appliances as VPPs and DERs "can actually reduce electricity rates. Not reduce the growth of electricity rates, but actually reduce electricity rates…."

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Old Solar: Equal Rights to the Sun


“Produced by Bonnie Symansky, this video, Equal Rights to the Sun (1979) documents citizen [led] solar energy projects organized in the Boston area by the Urban Solar Energy Association (USEA - founded by Barbara Brandt [Susan Baldwin, George Mokray, and Ambrose Spencer]).

Cities in the northeast have the greatest energy needs yet resources are often scarce. Solar enthusiasts are working hard to solve energy problems through neighborhood cooperative efforts. Equal Rights to the Sun documents some of Boston's self-help urban solar projects, demonstrating that solar is working in cities and it need not be expensive. Includes examples of building a breadbox heater, converting an attic into a solar greenhouse, the addition of passive wall collectors, enclosure of a south-facing porch and construction of a solar skylight. Solar energy shines on every part of the city. Shows that all we need is a little ingenuity and cooperation to take advantage of it.”

Many of the people in this 1979 video continued in the renewable energy field, even through the lean decades after 1979, when Reagan was elected and all movement stopped dead in its tracks.  It’s one reason why I say Reagan killed us (although he’s had a lot of help since then).

 The Urban Solar Energy Association became the Boston Area Solar Energy Association ( which hosted school programs, a long-running lecture series, and other events.  They plan to resume activities soon.

Here’s an upate on one of the USEA barnraised solar air heaters:
Old Solar: 1980 Barnraised Solar Air Heater

Some late 1970s context:

Old Solar:  JImmy Carter’s Green Deal

Another example from those days was the New Alchemy Institute in Cape Cod and in 2019 the Guardian looked back at it after 40 years

I believe we knew what we were doing then and practiced positive protest by constructing the alternatives we wanted to see.  There is a positive future but only if we start building it now and continue building it daily.  One group which is doing that today in the Boston area is the Home Energy Efficiency Team [HEET] ( which started by doing weatherization barnraisings,proceeded to local gas leak monitoring, and is now starting a pilot GeoMicroDistrict to prune back gas lines by replacing them with geothermal heat pumps with the local utility, Eversource

Earlier entries in the Old Solar series:
Old Solar:  Eames Solar Do-Nothing Machine

Old Solar:  Keck and Keck Twentieth Century Modern
Old Solar:  1881

Old Solar:  Venetian Vernacular

Old Solar: 1980 Barnraised Solar Air Heater

Old Solar:  JImmy Carter’s Green Deal

I always thought you could teach the rudiments of solar energy in about a half hour and over the years produced a series of short videos that attempts to do that:


But then I also thought the site-built, community renewable energy movement would produce something like this

Do It Yourself Solar:  Austrian Self-Build Coops

Monday, December 20, 2021

Solar: Not Sold in Stores

 Recently, I’ve seen TV ads for a $10,000 home battery system, the PWRcell* ( and two versions of a solar light and motion sensor, the Bionic Floodlight# (, for $20-30 but “not sold in stores.”  Quite a price spread.

*  "PWRcell’s revolutionary battery storage technology captures and stores electricity from solar panels or the grid. The energy stored can be discharged during peak demand times when the cost of utility power is higher, which helps you save money…  The PWRcell battery storage system starts at $9,999 MSRP+. This price point includes 1- Inverter, 1- Battery Storage Cabinet, and 3 – battery modules. Special financing, as well as state or federal rebates, tax credits, and other financial incentives are available, and make the PWRcell even more affordable.”

#  $30 Version:  “Each of the three separate panels on the Bionic Floodlight can trigger 108 high-intensity LED bulbs when motion is detected, to blast a bright, penetrating light.”
$20 Version:  “8 LED lights… SPECIAL OFFER: Get a 2nd Bionic Spotlight for only $6.95!"

I’ve also seen 
Solar light/chargers for
$27 - 

Solar light/charger/fan

Another interesting product is an LED bulb with built in battery 

For decades now I’ve been saying and practicing my own solar civil defense with a $10 solar bicycle light and charger that’s now available wholesale for $5.80@ or less

Thursday, December 02, 2021

ANAI: 40 Years of Ecological Development in Costa Rica

 I wonder how many people remember the New Alchemy Institute which, from 1969 to 1991, experimented with wind power, solar power, intensive regenerative agriculture, aquaculture, and many other ideas now becoming big business and a way out of climate chaos.  I first visited with them around 1974 and am still in contact with some of the old New Alchies today, and continue to believe their vision of the world is the way to an ecologically restorative future. 

One of the founders is Bill McLarney who 40 years ago started a Costa Rican version of New Alchemy, ANAI (, to integrate nature conservation and sustainable development in the Talamanca region.  I’ve supported his work there with a small annual donation for most of that time and, in return, get a short annual report.  This year’s brought more than a smile to my face and demands to be shared:

"With the indispensable assistance of Bioeducators, we have finally completed a long deferred project to produce laminated sheets with photos of almost all of the 50 species of freshwater fish we have identified from the La Amistad Caribe watersheds, with scientific names plus common names in Spanish, English, Bribri, Naso and Ngobe.  Getting the indigenous names right was a challenge which required sending our indigenous Bioeducators on errands to remote villages to visit 'old timers' who were thoroughly familiar with the names of the fish in their native languages, and putting them together with younger people fluent in the recently created written forms of the four languages.  Thus a byproduct of our biologically focused work was to fortify the indigenous cultures….

"For many years, ANAI’s signature program was organic agroforestry.  Over the years, and in keeping with our philosophy of maximizing local responsibility and involvement, this responsibility has been passed to APPTA (Talamanca Small Producers’ Association) ( which has become the world’s largest organic farmers’ cooperative.  ANAI’s most recent contribution to APPTA’s success has been in securing funding to obtain and install three industrial driers, which tremendously increases their capacity to purchase, process and market local organic farm products….

"As what was once merely ANAI’s vision of how things should be matures, we are ever more forcefully reminded of the links between terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity, and the crucial role organic agroforestry plantations on small farms can play in reducing fragmentation and protecting landscape integrity.  Toward this end, we are planning to initiate a process of mapping all existing forested corridors, and gaps, in our service area extending from the Rio Estrella watershed in Costa Rica to Almirante Bay in Panama, and from the cost to the Continental Divide...

"All of the activities reported here - strengthening old and creating new organic agroforestry farms, fomenting the community Water Observatories movement, advocation for the needs of migratory fish - play into this vision.”

ANAI can always use donations at
The New Alchemy land in Hatchville, MA on Cape Cod is still continuing the vision in different ways, with some of the original New Alchies, as you can see at
John Todd, another of the founders and a pioneering ecological designer, is still working (one of his latest projects is on greening the Sinai Peninsula) through

Saturday, September 04, 2021

"Rejected Energy" and Heat Mapping the EU

 USAmerica generates around 100 quadrillion BTUs per year, more or less, and has plateaued at that level since 2000.  However, about 67% of the energy produced is characterized as “rejected energy,” energy that does no useful work, according to the annual energy report of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (  

We waste about 2/3rds of the energy we produce, each and every year.

A lot of that is waste heat which could be used for process heat in industrial processes and heating (and cooling) especially if we had district heating systems.  The EU does have district heating systems and is now beginning to maximize their use in order to reduce their own “rejected energy” and the climate effects it produces.  In fact, "This is how Copenhagen plans to go carbon-neutral by 2025” ( starting with Nordhavn, a district “designed to be the world’s foremost smart energy laboratory at full scale" demonstrating "how electricity and heating, energy-efficient buildings and electric transport can be integrated into an intelligent, flexible and optimized energy system."

They say, "We need to link district heating systems and expand thermal grids at scale. The next step in Europe is to make smart thermal grids that can harvest heat wasted from current and future sources such as power plants and data centres. Europe is wasting enough heat to almost cover the current heat demands in all its buildings. The Heat Roadmap Europe (HRE) project ( and World Economic Forum’s Future of Europe, Energy initiative sparked the idea of creating a smart thermal grid in all EU countries. As a result, the Pan-European Thermal Atlas (Peta) ( now pairs areas with heat demand and heat excess sources. In other words, it is preparing and planning the heat grid.”

Let me make this clear, the EU is mapping waste heat sources throughout their participating nations and developing plans to transform that waste heat into useful work.  I doubt there’s anyone in USAmerica who is even thinking along those lines at that scale.  Yet.

You can learn more about these ideas at the 7th International Conference on Smart Energy Systems ( on 21-22 September 2021 at Aalborg University and Energy Cluster in Denmark.
"After being forced by circumstances into holding the conference strictly virtually in 2020, we look forward to yet again welcoming our conference participants in a hybrid setting with the possibility to attend either online or in person – this time in Copenhagen.

"The conference establishes a venue for presenting and discussing scientific findings and industrial experiences related to the subject of Smart Energy Systems based on renewable energy, 4th Generation District Heating Technologies and Systems (4GDH), electrification of heating and transport sectors, electrofuels and energy efficiency.

"This 7th conference in the series cements it as a main venue for presentations and fruitful debates on subjects that are pertinent to the development and implementation of smart energy systems to fulfil national and international objectives.”

May there be USAmerican policymakers, scientists, and engineers in attendance at this conference who take good notes to bring back home.

PS:  "How much CO2 equivalent is offset if we whiten all eligible urban flat roofs world- wide?
Answer: 24 Gigatonnes (Gt) – 2/3 of a year’s worldwide emission – Gigatonne = billion metric tons
If implemented over 20 years (the life of a roof or a program) this is ≈ 1.2 Gt/year.”

"We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all."
Lew Welch

"the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it."
Diane Di Prima

"Quite clearly, our task is predominantly metaphysical, for it is how to get all of humanity to educate itself swiftly enough to generate spontaneous behaviors that will avoid extinction."

R. Buckminster Fuller

Although, given recent and current events, there seem to be a whole hell of a lot of people who seem to be in love with the death drive.