City paving the way for more solar energy

Read the full story from the Journal Times.

The City of Racine is in the process of making its ordinances more friendly to solar energy.

The city is working with SolSmart, a national program that works pro bono with communities to cut red tape and streamline solar applications, so they will be “open for solar business.” 

Nebraska tribe’s latest energy project: reclaimed solar thermal heaters

Read the full story in Midwest Energy News.

A Nebraska tribe that is completing the installation of 720 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels is pursuing another solar technology for meeting even more of its energy needs.

The Winnebago tribe recently received a gift of used solar thermal heaters and soon will refurbish and install them to heat several buildings on tribal land in eastern Nebraska.

How P&G and IKEA talk about circularity

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

As a reformed technology journalist, I am well-acquainted with the dangers of overusing jargon. Use too much of it, and you risk alienating anyone — especially your would-be customers — who isn’t an industry “insider.” Eliminate it entirely from your vocabulary, and you could miss riding the rising wave of consumer consciousness related to an emerging concept finding its way into mainstream vernacular.

That’s why, when it comes to talking up the benefits of a circular economy, we’re hearing companies tout remanufacturing, repair, refurbishment, “product as a service” (aka rental) versus ownership, recirculation of stuff, the reuse of containers  — and the regenerative nature of all these behaviors. The concept of “circularity” is gaining resonance (test it on one of your “civilian” friends), but many pioneers of circular business models are treading carefully with their messaging and marketing.

Petroleum, natural gas, and coal continue to dominate U.S. energy consumption

Read the full story from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have accounted for at least 80% of energy consumption in the United States for well over a century. Overall energy consumption in the United States reached a record high in 2018 at 101 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), of which more than 81 quadrillion Btu were from fossil fuels. Despite the increase, the fossil fuel share of total U.S. energy consumption in 2018 increased only slightly from 2017 and was the second-lowest share since 1902.

Greetings From Trash Mountain

Read the full story in Foreign Policy.

Lebanon is replacing its famed peaks with ones made of trash. Its population’s health—and pocketbooks—are suffering.

Working successfully with your utility: learning from Better Buildings partners

Read the full story from DOE’s Better Buildings Program.

Partnering with your local utility can be a valuable step towards making your buildings more energy efficient. Utilities across the country offer assistance for energy efficiency, but programs vary and it can be challenging to know what is available and where to start. Through Better Buildings, DOE has created a short guide to help identify opportunities that exist: Working with Your Utility on Energy Efficiency. This guide highlights the following common utility offerings and success stories from Better Buildings partners who have leveraged them to achieve greater energy savings.

2019 National Brownfields Training Conference

December 10-13, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
More information and registration

Offered every two years, the conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. The conference is cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).


Read the full story in Governing.

Google’s sister company wants to build the city of the future on Toronto’s waterfront. Should a private tech giant be designing smart cities?

Five data lies that need to die … now streaming on Netflix

Read the full post at

Let’s rewind the clock 25 years. Back then, the trendy company was Walmart and the trendy topic was supply chain management. You couldn’t throw a rock in the business section of the Wall Street Journal without hitting a journalist waxing philosophical about how the company was “reinventing retail” through ruthless supply chain efficiency. But it didn’t take long before those articles turned negative. By the early 2000s, Walmart was “destroying Main Street” and bullying suppliers.

Leaders who followed the pundits’ whipsawing advice – that supply chain would solve all their problems, or that ruthless supply chain management led to unsustainable relationships – largely wasted time and money. What could your small business take from Walmart’s strategy? Probably very little, but it made for a good story.

Trendy companies and fashionable opinions come and go, but the pattern remains the same: The articles are meant to tell good stories to drive increased readership. They rarely provide sound and actionable advice.

“Netflix” is simply the latest trendy company and “data” is simply the latest fashionable topic. The innumerable stories about the transformative power of the Netflix algorithm may make for good reading, but they aren’t necessarily good advice about how to use data.

Let’s have a look at the recent punditry and unmask the storytelling masquerading as advice.

Opinion | Urgent need for clean energy should unite Michigan, not divide us

Read the full story at Bridge.

In my 32 years in the Army, I have observed triumphs and success in policies, programs and projects. I have observed wicked disagreement over clean energy and coal initiatives and I have observed deep political divisions that did not make sense to me. Today, the national debate over our nation’s clean energy future is escalating and most of the headlines dwell on the disagreement.

Despite this uproar, I think Michigan is a model for consensus, one that shows how all of us can work together to solve our country’s need for a resilient, clean energy economy.