International Biochar Initiative Seeks Industry Research Intern

Are you interested in biochar? Are you looking to contribute your skills to the growth of an emerging industry in the sustainable development and clean energy arenas? Do you have a strong background in online research and significant experience using database tools and spreadsheets along with basic writing and proofreading skills? If so, please consider working as an Industry Research Intern with the International Biochar Initiative (IBI)—the leading non-profit promoting biochar research and commercialization. The intern will be primarily responsible for (listed in order of priority and time commitment):

1.    Compiling information on companies involved in the production and distribution of biochar, pyrolysis equipment, and related activities
2.    Developing web-based surveys and conducting telephone interviews with producers and consumers to document biochar industry trends
3.    Assisting IBI staff in other commercialization-related activities

The internship is unpaid but the intern will gain valuable experience working with a diverse team of professionals at IBI. The time commitment is 8 hours per week from February 1 (or sooner) through April 30. The intern will work remotely and is expected to be in regular communication with IBI staff on a weekly basis. Priority will be given to students working towards science or business degrees. IBI can provide the intern a letter confirming service at the conclusion of the internship.

If this sounds like a good opportunity, please email us a brief cover letter telling us why you would be a good fit for this internship. In the cover letter, describe your experience in these three areas (listed in order of importance):

1.    Web-based research, and manipulating databases and spreadsheets, primarily Microsoft Excel
2.    Biochar history and use
3.    Business development

Send the cover letter and your resume to Shiva Scotti at by February 1. For more information on IBI visit our website Please note, cover letters MUST be included—any resume submitted without a cover letter addressing all 3 of the points above will be discarded, unread. Thank you for your interest!

The Future of Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs in the United States: Projected Spending and Savings to 2025

Download the document.

We develop projections of future spending on, and savings from, energy efficiency programs funded by electric and gas utility customers in the United States, under three scenarios through 2025. Our analysis, which updates a previous LBNL study, relies on detailed bottom-up modeling of current state energy efficiency policies, regulatory decisions, and demand-side management and utility resource plans. The three scenarios are intended to represent a range of potential outcomes under the current policy environment (i.e., without considering possible major new policy developments).

Key findings from the analysis are as follows:

  • By 2025, spending on electric and gas efficiency programs (excluding load management programs) is projected to double from 2010 levels to $9.5 billion in the medium case, compared to $15.6 billion in the high case and $6.5 billion in the low case.
  • Compliance with statewide legislative or regulatory savings or spending targets is the primary driver for the increase in electric program spending through 2025, though a significant share of the increase is also driven by utility DSM planning activity and integrated resource planning.
  • Our analysis suggests that electric efficiency program spending may approach a more even geographic distribution over time in terms of absolute dollars spent, with the Northeastern and Western states declining from over 70% of total U.S. spending in 2010 to slightly more than 50% in 2025, and the South and Midwest splitting the remainder roughly evenly.
  • Under our medium case scenario, annual incremental savings from customer-funded electric energy efficiency programs increase from 18.4 TWh in 2010 in the U.S. (which is about 0.5% of electric utility retail sales) to 28.8 TWh in 2025 (0.8% of retail sales).
  • These savings would offset the majority of load growth in the Energy Information Administration’s most recent reference case forecast of retail electricity sales through 2025, given specific assumptions about the extent to which future energy efficiency program savings are captured in that forecast.
  • The pathway that customer-funded efficiency programs ultimately take will depend on a series of key challenges and uncertainties associated both with the broader market and policy context and with the implementation and regulatory oversight of the energy efficiency programs themselves.

See also the paper in the January 2013 issue of Energy Efficiency.

University of Michigan starts online Planet Blue sustainability program online certification

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The University of Michigan says it has started an online certification program in an effort to promote sustainable behaviors and culture on campus.

The Ann Arbor school says the Planet Blue Ambassador program is open to all faculty, staff and students and is part of President Mary Sue Coleman’s sustainability initiative known as Planet Blue.

Michigan says the online tool consists of five training modules directly connected to the university’s sustainability goals in energy, food, waste, water and community.

USDA Studies Confirm Plant Water Demands Shift with Water Availability

Read the full story from the Agricultural Research Service.

Plants can adapt to extreme shifts in water availability, such as drought and flooding, but their ability to withstand these extreme patterns will be tested by future climate change, according to a study by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their cooperators.

The study was published this week in Nature by a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists led by Guillermo Ponce Campos and Susan Moran and an Australian team led by Alfredo Huete from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). This research included contributions from nine other ARS scientists, four U.S. Forest Service scientists, and colleagues from the University of Arizona, the University of California-Irvine, and UTS. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of responding to climate change.

Joel Makower in conversation with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Recently, during the waning weeks of President Obama’s first term, I sat with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to discuss her vision for embedding sustainability into the agency’s mission and programs. Following is that conversation, edited for clarity.

A new administration and a second chance for energy efficiency

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

As President Obama begins his second term, we have an opportunity to put green back on the agenda. After all, the president has repeatedly stated that action on climate change will be a second-term priority. And it has never been more important than now. In 2012, the U.S. easily surpassed the warmest year on record. That, coupled with a year of extreme weather events including Sandy, which literally hit home for me, is more than a wake-up call. Sandy’s price tag alone of $60 billion+ exceeds the entire annual budget of many federal departments. So yes, we need to hit the ground running as the inauguration takes place from where we left off in the president’s first term.