Day: August 30, 2011

$200K Question: Who Really Deserves MIT’s Big Energy Prize?

Read the full story in the Chronicle of Higher Education. May require a subscription to access the full article.

In May, a company started by three MIT graduate students won the university’s prestigious clean-energy prize, which comes with a $200,000 check in addition to the $15,000 awarded for being a finalist. It’s a hefty chunk of change for any start-up, but the publicity may be even more valuable. Articles followed in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN Money.

But the developer of the device used in the winning entry says it was used without permission in the contest and without attribution in a public presentation.

The promising technology, which is intended to cool electronics more quietly and efficiently, was created by a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia officials say they found out what the company, CoolChip Technologies, was doing only after the contest was over.


Transforming urban alleys into great urban spaces

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

Alleys: dirty, dangerous, mysterious.

But a trend in northwest cities is changing those negative perceptions of alleys by turning them into desirable urban spaces.

Alyse Nelson, a city planner in Washington state, posts an inspiring photo essay on the Sightline Daily blog about the overlooked potential of urban alleys as great places.

5 ways the CFO can be a corporate sustainability hero

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

Ernst & Young has released a report exploring the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) in sustainability matters, underscoring the growing awareness that paying attention to matters such as energy-efficiency, electricity sourcing and water management can be beneficial to the bottom line. Typically, it appears, the CFO has not paid all that much attention to such things.

The report (“How sustainability has expanded the CFO’s role”) focuses on specific ways that CFOs can participate in corporate sustainability strategy and amplify the potential impact on financial performance. The analysis is, in essence, a follow-on to some of the reporting that Ernst & Young has done about the growing number of shareholder proxies that are focused on matters of sustainability.

Never stop at a red light again

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

A group of researchers from MIT and Princeton University have developed an app that takes advantage of a growing trend: drivers who install brackets on their dashboards and mount their smartphones as GPS navigators.

The researchers used a network of these GPS-enabled cell phones to collect information about traffic lights. Based on images captured by the phones’ cameras, the app is able to predict exactly how slowly a person needs to drive in order to miss the next red light.

The application, called SignalGuru, was tested on 20 cars in both Cambridge, M.A. and Singapore. The system used in Cambridge, where lights change according to fixed schedules, predicted the change of red lights to within two-thirds of a second. In Singapore, where traffic lights change depending on traffic flow, the system was less precise.

Students Give Kimberly-Clark a Lesson in Design Thinking

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Kimberly-Clark Health Care hosted a class at the Rhode Island School of Design last fall where students were charged with a simple goal: identify sustainable new concepts and scalable designs for a second life for Kimguard, the most widely used sterilization wrap on the market.

In response, they re-imagined the blue wrap in wonderfully imaginative ways. Children’s furniture. Pipe insulation. Disaster relief tents. A year later, the company is still trying to match some of those student ideas with other market players.

How Pepsi and Coke’s Plant-Based Bottle Wars Affect Manufacturers

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Companies competing to outdo their rivals on sustainability has innumerable benefits for the economy and the environment, but rapid innovation can pose a number of challenges to their suppliers — and here’s how you can be prepared.

IBM Tests If Smart Meters Can Prod Consumers into Using Less Energy

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

IBM is testing how the smart grid can change consumer behavior with a project letting 1,000 households see real-time, detailed energy data.

What if we studied the indoors as an environment all its own?

Read the full post at Mother Nature Network.

A growing movement argues it’s time to rethink our assumptions about what an environment is and give our the indoors the same scrutiny we give nature.

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