Day: August 20, 2013

U Michigan Seeks Master’s Project Proposals

Targeted toward environmental and non-profit businesses, students at the School of Natural Resource and Environment will provide client organizations with solutions to complex environmental issues and useful products. Submission deadline is Dec. 3, 2013. Visit for more information.

Clean Air-Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator Version 6.9

Changes to the recent calculator release include walk and bike commuter modes, new inputs for tracking renewable energy generation and student travel to and from home. The CCC is available as a new online tool or an Excel file.

AT&T Water

EDF and AT&T have launched an effort to identify opportunities to reduce water and energy use in buildings. Together with EDF, AT&T engaged in a series of pilot projects to evaluate water efficiency opportunities in 2012 and 2013. Based on the results, AT&T is rolling out a plan in 2013 to achieve 150 million gallons of annualized water savings by the end of 2015.

This site includes links to water efficiency tools as well as video case studies showing how AT&T is decreasing their water usage.

Innovation Isn’t an Idea Problem

Read the full post from the HBR Blog Network.

When most organizations try to increase their innovation efforts, they always seem to start from the same assumption: “we need more ideas.” They’ll start talking about the need to “think outside the box” or “blue sky” thinking in order to find a few ideas that can turn into viable new products or systems. However, in most organizations, innovation isn’t hampered by a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of noticing the good ideas already there.

It’s not an idea problem; it’s a recognition problem.

Five Steps to Storytelling with Data

Read the full story in UX Magazine.

The rise of personalized data is poised to be a hot topic as companies seek to deliver real benefits from the information gathered on consumers. The challenge for designers lies in finding a way to reduce the complexity posed by such vast amounts of data and give data a human shape.

Data has to be accessible to the average person. It also has to provide the user with actionable insight in a way that is meaningful and accessible. This is where the true power of design can really make a difference: by using visualizations to help people navigate the confusing world of data we can improve lives.

Data visualization has come a long way since its formative days as the basic pie chart invented over 200 years ago. Now, thanks to the huge upsurge we’ve seen in data and the discourse around its usage, a new design language is emerging that is elegantly simplifying the big data mess into beautiful and meaningful visualizations.

So regardless of whether you’re bringing shape to data on health and wellbeing, shopping habits, or in editorial, Fjord has identified five core principals to follow when embarking on a data visualization challenge:

Turbine maintenance offers Lake Land College students one-of-a-kind training opportunity

Read the full story from Lake Land Community College.

When Charleston natives Ian Ippolito and Ben Brazzell were approached about participating in a special project by their renewable energy instructor, Joe Tillman, they couldn’t have been more thrilled.

“The experience I’m getting through this opportunity will give me a great advantage over other wind technicians when I’m looking for full-time work after graduation. There is no doubt about that,” said Brazzell.

For the project Ippolito and Brazzell, renewable energy students, will work alongside Tillman and other renewable energy professionals from Lake Land and Bora Energy to repair a rotor bearing in the nacelle of the south wind turbine located on campus. The rotor bearing is a mechanical part at the center of the turbine’s nacelle that allows for blade rotation.

Little critters, big energy

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Tennessee scientists are using one of Earth’s smallest creatures to solve some of the government’s biggest bioenergy problems.

For the next three years, a $2.1 million grant is allowing researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to use a process called microbial electrolysis to transform plant biomass into hydrogen to produce energy-rich biofuel for use in combustion engines.

With conventional technology, industries convert biomass into bio-oil—which is a corrosive substance that turns into biofuel after it’s treated with natural gas. This treatment provides hydrogen atoms that can deoxygenate bio-oils, but the process also emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide.

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has given ORNL the three-year grant to address this environmental issue and to boost the hydrogen and carbon efficiency of biofuel production.

Microbial team turns corn stalks, leaves into better biofuel

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

A fungus and E. coli bacteria have joined forces to turn tough, waste plant material into isobutanol, a biofuel that matches gasoline’s properties better than ethanol.

Univ. of Michigan research team members said the principle also could be used to produce other valuable chemicals such as plastics.

Energy Audits and Retro-Commissioning: State and Local Policy Design Guide and Sample Policy Language

Energy Audits and Retro-Commissioning: State and Local Policy Design Guide and Sample Policy Language provides information on the value of energy audits to help state and local policymakers better understand the value of energy audits and retro-commissioning, a synthesis of existing state and local policies, and discussion of policy design considerations to drive energy audits and retro-commissioning activity within public and private sector buildings.

In recent years, a number of jurisdictions have enacted policies that require building owners to conduct energy assessments or “audits” of their facilities, to improve the operating efficiency of existing buildings through “retro-commissioning,” or both. This guide distills the experiences of these early-adopter jurisdictions and captures many of the key elements required for the consideration, development, and implementation of state and local audit and retro-commissioning policies.

New State Fact Sheets on Household Energy Use

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) gathers information through personal interviews with a nationwide sample of homes and energy suppliers. The 2009 survey was the largest RECS to date and the larger sample size allowed for the release of data for 16 individual states, in addition to national, regional, and division-level estimates. See state fact sheets for Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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