Posts Tagged 'going green'

The First Skyscraper to Generate Its Own Energy is Now Under Construction

We’ve been building skyscrapers for more than a century now and for past few decades cities all over the world were engaged in an arms race to try and be home to the world’s tallest building. Ever since the current record holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was completed in 2009, that race seems to have died down. That is one of the many consequences of a global recession caused by a crash in the real estate market. However, it was recently announced that there will be a new skyscraper completed by 2020 that will be the first of it’s kind. Instead of trying build the world’s tallest building, Indonesia’s state-owned energy company Pertamina will be building a skyscraper that is designed to generate it’s own electricity. The tower is designed to open up at the top which will create a wind tunnel. Those winds will power turbines and generators and it is estimated that those generators will satisfy about 25 percent of the building’s energy demand. It’s not entirely self-sufficient but it will significantly reduce the demand it places on the city’s power grid which is far more than any other skyscraper can claim. I think that this skyscraper is going to be the first of its kind and future buildings are only going to emulate and improve upon this model.

Jakarta’s future skyline.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Most Solar Panels Are Angled the Wrong Way

The price of solar energy has been steadily dropping over the years making it more and more feasible for regular people to install them on their rooftops. The benefits are that you use more energy from a cleaner source and as a result you cut your electric bills considerably. It turns out though that we had it all wrong in how we were installing those solar panels. The convention in the northern hemisphere has always been to angle the panels facing towards the south because generally speaking that is the direction that sees the most sunlight throughout the day. Well a new paper from the Pecan Street Research Institute has found that the conventional alignment is not the best way to do it. It turns out that pointing solar panels to the west towards the setting sun is a far better way to point them due to the way in which most of us live our lives.

The reason why is pretty simple. Generally speaking the time of day when a house consumes the most electricity is during late afternoon and early evening. Demand decreases in the middle of the night when we’re sleeping and during typical business hours during the week because no one is home then. A south facing solar panel generates most of its electricity exactly at a time when we’re least likely to be around to use it while a west facing panel can keep generating energy when we’re most likely to be using it. This study confirms that by reveling that south facing panels reduce peak energy demand by 54 percent while west facing panels reduce it by 65 percent. So there is a great tip if you’re thinking of installing solar panels. Pointing them west will make the greatest impact towards doing right by the planet and by your wallet.

West is best.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

America’s Ten Most Energy Efficient Cities

When it comes to going green and adopting alternative energy sources, increasing energy efficiency is incredibly important. After all the cheapest and cleanest unit of energy is one that isn’t used in the first place. The challenge with energy efficiency is more of a financial one. Upgrading buildings and infrastructure to be energy efficient is something that is usually pretty expensive in the short term but pays off over a longer time horizon and that’s a tough call when you have government offices up for election every two years in some cases. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy recently put together a report where they listed the country’s 34 biggest cities in order of energy efficiency. The factors that they considered were local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, utility policies, and transportation policies. What follows is a list of the top ten most energy efficient big cities in the country:

1. Boston, MA
2. Portland, OR
3. New York City, NY
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Seattle, WA
6. Austin, TX
7. Washington, DC
8. Minneapolis, MN
9. Chicago, IL
10. Philadelphia, PA

Red Sox Nation doesn’t waste electricity.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available in Boston and Nationwide. Please call us at 800-587-2640 or email us at for more info.

Six Hidden Energy Hogs in Your House

In America power is relatively cheap compared to the rest of the world and that is both a blessing and a curse. Yes cheap power is great for our wallets but many of the electrically powered items in our homes have developed into energy hogs including some things you wouldn’t expect. When it comes to going green, the cleanest unit of energy is one that isn’t used in the first place. National Geographic has a great piece on some household items that use up much more power than you think and addressing them can save your wallet hundreds and the planet some extra greenhouse gas emissions:

Set-Top Boxes – Consider this another reason to be a cable-cutter. Those cable boxes are much more than just a clock even when you supposedly turn them off. Those things are always running on their full power requirements doing things like communicating with streaming content and recording your favorite shows even when you’re not watching. Cutting cable out completely will save you much more than just the monthly subscription fees for the hundreds of channels you don’t watch.

Furnace Fans – These are the fans in your house that circulate warm air in you house in the winter and cool air in the summer if you have central air. Unfortunately, many of these fans aren’t very energy efficient and are on a lot. In many households these fans eat up twice or three times as much power as a standard refrigerator. There are now more efficient models on the market that work with most furnaces that use about 60 percent less energy.

Battery Chargers – Think of all of the toys we like to enjoy like smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They’re all battery powered and need to be recharged on a regular basis. Unfortunately, when the chargers themselves aren’t charging your electronics, they are still using electricity. Standards are being developed to make them more efficient but you can still save yourself a few bucks by unplugging your chargers when they’re not charging anything.

Microwaves – Sure they eat up energy when you’re nuking something with it but 99 percent of the time the microwave is just sitting there being a clock and being ready at any moment to heat up some food for you. The average microwave uses up 36 kilowatt hours of energy per year just sitting there. If you don’t use your microwave very often consider unplugging it or switching up to a newer, more efficient model.

Game Consoles – The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (and the PS4 and the Xbox One) are incredibly powerful computers that can play games with nearly lifelike graphics. They also eat up a ton of power when they’re in use. When they are switched off into a standby mode they barely use any energy but the problem is that many gamers don’t turn them off when they’re not in use. The newer versions of the consoles are designed to switch off after a certain amount of time spent idle but older models will stay on indefinitely unless you change their settings. Remember that the $400 price tag for the consoles and the $60 price tag per game is not the entire cost of your gaming experience.

Pool Pumps – This is one of the hidden expenses of owning a pool. Many pools have pumps that only operate at one maximum speed only even when it doesn’t need to be. Get a multi-speed pump for your pool and run it on the lowest setting when the pool isn’t in use. By doing this you can use about 80 percent less energy and save thousands of dollars in electric bills over the lifetime of the pump.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or for more information.

Florida’s Future Beaches Could be Made of Glass

The Earth’s geology has long caused issues for the people living on it. Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions have been going on long before humans were around and will continue long after we’re gone. However, the beaches in South Florida are facing a far less lethal problem for us and we’re coming up with an odd way of solving it. The sand on Florida’s beaches is constantly being drawn back into the ocean and keeping the beaches looking healthy and robust means constantly replenishing the beaches with sand. This problem is by no means old and for decades Florida simply took sand from elsewhere in the state and moved it to the beaches to keep them looking the way they do.

Florida is running into a problem though. They’re running out of land based sand to replenish the beaches. It has reached the point where Broward County is now looking at other more expensive alternatives. One such alternative would be dredging up sand from the seafloor just offshore and using that sand. That option is both expensive and environmentally destructive to the marine species that live there. Another more eco-friendly alternative is to pulverize recycled glass into a fine sand and use that on the beaches. Glass is made mostly from sand and if it is pulverized enough it is just about indistinguishable from beach sand. Such an idea was first proposed ten years ago but its implementation was derailed from state budget costs caused by the recession in 2008. Now seems like a good time to revive the idea though. It is a more efficient and more environmentally friendly way of recycling glass and it will help to preserve Florida’s beaches well into the future.

Churchill has short-term rental apartments throughout South Florida. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or email for more information.

Washington’s Newest Federal Employees: 58 Goats

The Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC has been having a bit of a problem with their landscaping. Like many other parts of America it is fighting a losing battle with invasive plant species that are putting the lives of the cemetery’s trees and headstones at risk. Furthermore, most of these species are plants like kudzu, poison ivy, and English ivy which are difficult to efficiently get rid of with conventional equipment like lawnmowers and weed-whackers. While this won’t bother any of the cemetery’s residents like J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa it’s becoming an increasing problem for those of us who are just visiting.

Well their grounds crew has come up with a novel idea to tackle this problem. Last Wednesday 58 goats rented from a local farm arrived and they were let loose to eat everything that they could find and they’re doing a great job at eating up all of the invasive species plaguing the cemetery. Mountain goats love to eat vines like poison ivy and can more easily access terrain that motorized equipment can’t reach. Additionally, using them has the added benefit of not having to use herbicides and pesticides that would pollute the local watershed. For the past five days they have been working 24 hours a day clearing about half an acre per day of unwanted vegetation. At a cost of only $4000 per week the cost of the goats’ services comes out to only 25 cents per goat per hour which makes them a huge bargain compared to people. So if by any chance you find yourself visiting the Congressional Cemetery soon, don’t be surprised if you see a goat stuffing his face and bleating at you. They’re just doing their job.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available throughout Washington D.C. and Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 for more information.

Turning Discarded Christmas Trees into Energy

San Francisco’s “treecycling” program is taking recycling to a new level. While last year’s program saved Christmas trees from landfills by turning discarded trees to city park mulch, this year’s program will turn the trees into fuel. The trees are picked up curbside by special trucks, put through a chipper, and sent to a waste to energy facility.  San Francisco has been recycling Christmas trees since 1987 and recycled 500 tons of Christmas trees last year.

Churchill has short-term corporate rentals in the San Francisco area. Please call 866-255-0593 or email us for more information.

Photo courtesy of Mother Nature Network

America’s Greenest Cities

Popular Science published their list of America’s 50 Greenest Cities which bases the findings on raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide. The stats are compiled into four categories (electricity, transportation, green living and recycling/green perspective) and the combine score determined the final ranking.

The top cities on the list are:

Portland, Oregon – A quarter of the workforce commutes by bike, carpool or public transportation. Couple that with the fact half of Portlan’s power is from renewable resources lands Portland the top spot.

San Francisco, California – San Francisco earns the number 2 spot by turning roof space into solar power.

Boston, Massachusetts – Boston’s transportation system puts Boston in the number 3 spot. The T is the busiest light-rail system in America.

Churchill offers short-term corporate housing in the Portland, San Francisco and Boston areas. Please contact us for more information.

Everyone can Go Green!

In these days of everyone “going green” it’s great to see innovative ideas from companies that can really make an impact on a large scale by making simple adjustments.  Even better is that as an added bonus, many of those great ideas will in turn save the company money – perhaps not right away, but for sure over the long haul.  Other times an idea comes along that simply puts things in perspective – it’s not necessarily saving anyone money upfront, and the effects certainly can’t be seen or realized, but the truth that they represent makes you think “Wow – I can make a difference myself with very little effort”.

I came upon such an idea recently that I wanted to share with everyone – that is that for every 1MB of data that passes through the Internet, the energy it takes to move that 1MB is equivalent to 1 lump of coal.  Now I’m not saying that this is the most accurate statement, and I have yet to find solid numbers proving it 100% correct – but what it does represent is a simple way to relate to something that we do in every day life, dozens or hundreds of times per day.  Even if the lump of coal isn’t the exact figure it can definitely be said that there is some truth to it being at least a portion of that lump of coal.

Think about this next time you send that 10MB file, and maybe you’ll find that even you can help out in a small way by cutting the size of that email down a bit.  In this way everyone can do their part on a daily basis to help the environment.

More on this can be found here, where I saw the video clip – from Jay Walker who is the curator of the Library of Human Imagination.
(fast forward to around 6:05 to hear the relevant discussion)