Study could lead to paradigm shift in organic solar cell research

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Stanford scientists may have resolved a debate over how organic solar cells turn sunlight into electricity. The question: What causes electron-hole pairs (excitons) to split apart? The likely answer: A gradient at the solar cell interface between disordered polymers and ordered buckyballs splits the exciton, allowing the electron to escape and produce an electric current.

The ‘retrofit triangle’

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

Every successful resource efficiency retrofit involves an ongoing integration of three normally distinct and separate functions: operations, technology and finance. In spite of all of the tangible benefits that can be attributed to the greening of existing buildings, finance and operations typically operate within silos and the collaboration of technology, operations and finance has been woefully lacking.

Improving the performance of our existing buildings (approx. 98% of our building stock) is critical to addressing climate change. However, greening existing buildings still face a number of barriers to reach large scale implementation. We believe that an integrated approach with strong collaboration between technology, operations and finance is essential to the success of any retrofit, especially deep retrofits.

The understanding and application of key aspects of this three sided relationship and its information exchange form the three segments of what is called in this article the ‘retrofit triangle.’ In a retrofit triangle program, they need to be integrated, eventually becoming a flywheel driving a building-wide data flow that improves the overall asset management and bottom line creation. This framework streamlines retrofits and creates value. When operations, technology and finance work together seamlessly, it removes barriers to capital flow toward efficiency upgrades. For each stage of the retrofit process, the retrofit triangle framework drives building-wide information flow, improves overall asset management, addresses operational risk, and allows for better management, measurement, and forecasting of building performance.

Technology typically falls into one of three groups: tools used to model, measure and manage building operations. This is a combination of hardware, controls, software and visualization tools to track and report performance as well as analytical tools to identify trends, producing intelligence sufficient for financial manager’s decisions.

The following sections outline a step-by-step process of a typical retrofit process and how technology, operations and finance teams can collaborate to ensure the project’s success.

“The Next Play” National College Sustainability in Sports Initiative

Read the full post at NRDC Switchboard.

Today, Davidson College launched a national initiative, entitled The Next Play, which aims to use the wide-reaching influence of sports to inspire progress around sustainability. The Next Play initiative is comprised of two flagship events at the national scale: a sustainability in sports venture pitch tournament and a virtual discussion on sustainability and sports that Davidson College will facilitate in the five months leading up to the tournament.

Portland’s Testing a Greener Kind of P3

Read the full story in Governing.

Online crowdfunding has been around for a little while. But it’s a new approach for governments, especially for environmental projects. Since the recession, revenue has primarily supported essential services; there hasn’t been extra for new parks, energy-efficient retrofits or renewable energies. So states and localities have had to get creative.

21 shocking U.S. food waste facts

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

We’ve all done it at one point or another: throwing away food because we forgot about it and it went bad, or because we bought too much and now it’s past its shelf life.

In fact, 40% of food in the United States is never eaten and $4 billion is wasted each year globally. Did you know the average American throws away well over 200 pounds of edible food each year? If we wasted just 15% less food, it would be enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. This Thanksgiving may be a good time to consider how many impoverished people could be fed with that food.

Once you get through the shocking facts in the infographic, provided by A to Z Solutions, learn about 8 opportunities to help reduce waste. We think there may be a few good business plans that can be brainstormed to address the crisis, and we hope agree it’s some interesting food for thought.

Turmoil at climate talks as blame game heats up

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Rich and poor nations are struggling with a yawning rift at the U.N. climate talks as developing countries look for new ways to make developed countries accept responsibility for global warming—and pay for it.

With two days left, there was commotion in the Warsaw talks Wednesday after negotiators for developing nations said they walked out of a late-night meeting on compensation for the impact of global warming.

Energy savings in 3-D

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are working with aircraft makers to determine energy savings through the use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing.

Sachin Nimbalkar and his ORNL colleagues are printing airplane parts to show additive manufacturing’s potential as a technology that should be considered foundational to processes seeking more energy efficiency.

Additive manufacturing builds products precisely, layer-by-layer, and is distinctly different from traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, which take raw material and cut it down into a desired shape and size.