Tamara J Gordy

Facilitating sustainable environmental and social impact


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Why energy efficiency? Some links…

Energy is a limited resource. Energy costs so much more than we pay. It costs more than the jobs or economic development promised to communities sitting near a source that someone wants to get their hands on.

Energy is essential AND it is a truly costly resource. Energy costs lives and communities and money. Let’s show a little respect, and quit wasting it.

Here is a collection of links I find interesting:

1. This one helps explain energy use in America and relates a dollar of consumption to a cup of oil. Save energy by the money-saving act of shopping only for what you need. It’s difficult to see how our daily consumption decisions impact the air or water quality on a local level. And it’s even harder to conceive of how our decisions affect the rest of the world. It may help to know that every time you, as an average American, spend a dollar, the energy equivalent of a cup of oil is used to produce what that dollar buys. http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/10/weekend-infographic-world-energy-report/?utm_source=feedburner

2. The cost of energy, in terms of how long a worker has to work to pay for an hour of electric light. In the 1890s, Founder Thomas Edison sold GE’s first lightbulbs. Back then, in order to pay for an hour of light powered at the equivalent strength of today’s 100 watts, the average worker would have to work a full hour. By 1960, the time period decreased to a mere eight minutes. And by 1992, it was down to less than a second when using a compact fluorescent bulb. http://3blmedia.com/theCSRfeed/GE-Citizenship-Report-Covers-Global-Theme-Energy-Climate-Change

3. Some say this study under-estimates the true cost of coal, but it still comes out to be a bad deal for the general public. Much of the effort to rollback current EPA regulations focuses on coal-fired electrical power plants. “Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy” published in American Economic Review, is an effort to assess the damages caused by various polluting activities. Findings show that, contrary to current political mythology, coal is underregulated. On average, the harm produced by burning the coal is over twice as high as the market price of the electricity. In other words, some of the electricity production would flunk a cost-benefit analysis. http://legalplanet.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/accounting-for-the-harm-of-coal/

4. By the way, many people are surprised to learn that along with hydro, Puget Sound Energy in Washington is 32% coal and 30% natural gas. http://pse.com/aboutpse/EnergySupply/Pages/Electric-Supply.aspx

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Green building is mainstream

Green is going mainstream. Or so it seems to me. Lately I’ve been discovering that people in the most surprising places share my interest in green building and energy efficiency.

For instance, helping a neighbor who was injured while falling off a ladder the other day led to two surprise green encounters. Turns out that the neighbor, who we barely knew before the accident, and one of the ambulance techs, are both living green.

The neighbor’s injuries were important, but not life threatening. Things were moving at a hurry up and wait sort of pace, so we chatted to distract and fill the time until the ambulance could take him off to the hospital.

The neighbor had a stack of green building and sustainable home books on the coffee table. And, as it turns out, one of the ambulance guys is designing a new energy-efficient house that will make use of daylighting, daylight harvesting, SIP wall construction, and super-efficient lighting and appliances to make things comfortable, light, and stylish. He is psyched about cutting his energy bills and keeping more of his money is his own pocket. Seeing green building moving out of a niche market and into everyday lives, like mine and theirs, is a huge inspiration. It is a powerful change because those energy efficiency measures will be saving power for years to come.

P.S. I also discovered that the fire department uses the long, curvy, steep, skinny road thru our neighborhood as a training ground for the people learning to drive the big rig. It can be a confusing place to get around, so it is reassuring to know that the local fire department is familiar with it.

(Edited for clarity Oct. 11)