A Renewable Germany

The goal of the German government is to achieve a modern, climate-friendly, sustainable and secure energy supply for Germany. For this purpose, the use of renewable energies will be expanded rigorously and energy efficiency will be further increased with the aim of renewable energies contributing the main share to the energy supply

-          German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Germany has taken a plunge into renewable energy in the attempt to phase out nuclear power.

Modern Wind Turbine

As they do this, nations from East to West are keeping their eyes on the nation as it pursues its long term goal to become the world’s first industrial power to run off of one hundred percent renewable energy. In order to do this, the German government has instituted plans that will lead the nation to produce a third of its electricity by renewable sources within ten years. This goal is to be furthered by the nation as it works to generate eighty percent of its energy consumption by the year 2050. Germany’s ambition is causing other industrialized nations to carefully watch and to see for themselves just how possible it is to run a nation off of renewable energy. An article that covers the issue explains the importance in Germany’s attempt by quoting U.S. economist Jeremy Rifkin, who has advised the European Union and Angela Merkel (the current Chancellor of Germany), by explaining that “Germany can’t afford to fail, because the whole world is watching them”(The Associated Press). Germany currently uses a myriad of renewable energy types such as solar energy, wind power, hydroelectric power, biomass, and biogas. In fact, Germany is a top world competitor in the solar electric field (along with the United States, Japan, and China) and the wind industry among nations such as Denmark, the United States, and Spain. The aforementioned article also states that in June 2011, the nation passed the twenty percent mark for drawing electric power from a mix of wind, solar and other renewable sources.  The Associated Press’s article also states that, “the movement toward renewable energy has also changed the German job market. Some 370,000 people in Germany now have jobs in the renewable sector, more than double the number in 2004, a point used as proof that tax payers’ investment is paying off.” Personally, I think that Germany is setting a great example in the realm of energy production. While Germany’s ambition is truly remarkable, the nation has decided to take on a lot of responsibly. For the sake of a better tomorrow, I wish them luck.

Source:

Feldheim, German Village, Powered By Renewable Energy

CityPerk: Small Business Makes Big Movement Towards Sustainability

An interview with Lane Avery, one of the owners of CityPerk

Located on 21 Vantis Drive, Aliso Viejo CA 92656

 

Why is sustainability important?

I think sustainability is important because I think the science is in about global warming. Earth is our home. To treat it as a toilet would defy all common sense. We need to treat our home kindly and respect it to sustain life, and sustainability is a great way to do so.

 

What has CityPerk done to support sustainability?

Well, we have mainly Energy Star Appliances that conserve as much energy as possible. We now have a digital Edison meter, which allows us to track our energy usage and monitor how much energy we are using. This has helped us see which changes really are making a difference, and which ones are not. We try to select only Green products, if they are affordable. Our products need to be  affordable, as well as Green, in order to save our customers money as well. CityPerk has a hot water recirculation system, allowing us to save water because we don’t need to wait for the water to warm up or even open the tap to get hot water. We have replaced our air conditioning with a higher seer model than the standard, which was a good investment because it is more efficient. The most important change that we have made, I think, is living in a live-work community. It reduces the carbon footprint a great amount because we don’t have to drive to work. Most of our staff either walks to work or lives close by, reducing the amount of gas used to get to and from work.

 

How have these changes benefited your company?

I’m a big believer in financial incentives bringing more people into the sustainable world. If it doesn’t benefit people financially in some way, people often can’t afford to make the effort to go Green. The changes we have made have saved our company a lot of money in energy and water bills. We are able to track our energy usage with our new meter, which allows us to make sure we don’t use too much energy, which really does save us a lot of money. Also, we have received a lot of good publicity for our sustainability efforts. We have won an award and have gotten exposure in the Aliso Viejo Patch, as well as the O.C. Register. It’s nice to receive recognition for our efforts. Right now we are working with the city of Aliso Viejo in its Green Initiative. We are known as the sustainable small business in southern Orange County.

 

What else are you looking forward to changing?

Right now, we would love to get off the grid for electricity. There are certain restrictions and regulations on what we can and can’t do, since we are located in a live-work community. Getting off-grid for electricity would give us the opportunity to expand our horizons for sustainability. For example, we would be able to invest and install solar panels on our building. We are looking into the regulations to see what else we can do, but we need a better commitment from the community and city to make the investment.

Within the city and from the community, we would love to see a more recycling-friendly community. We have tons of trash cans on the streets, but we definitely don’t have enough recycle or compost bins. In San Francisco, they have separate cans for different trash items and recycle items, and it has become part of the culture, and a good habit that people have developed, to separate their waste. It would be nice to see that in our community. I think people need to take that extra step to work with CR&R [Waste Services] to make this happen.

 

What is one thing you wish you were able to do to become more sustainable?

Well the main thing, as I said, is going off-grid. If we were detached, rather than in an attached building situation, we could do geothermal air conditioning, have a grey water system, go off-grid, and do a lot of other things. However, we are looking into the regulations and we hope we can make some more changes in terms of sustainability. We are always looking for new ways to save and conserve energy.  

 

 

CityPerk Spotlight was written by IEA Member and Editor, Jessica Murphy

Reducing School Energy Use, Part 1: Goal Setting

 

My energy club has decided to take action to reduce the amount of energy used at our school. I am journaling our steps and progress here at the IEA website to possibly serve as a template that can be used by others who would like to do something similar at their schools.

If you are doing something similar at your school, please let us know so that we can share your ideas as well.  For those looking to see all the parts of this ongoing journal in one place simply use the search box at this website to search for, “Aliso Niguel High School Energy Club Project.”

 

Primary goals:

Reduce the amount of energy used by teachers in their classrooms

Reduce on a larger scale the amount of energy used by school facilities, or implement renewable energy sources

Reduce the amount of energy used by students, parents and teachers getting to and from school

Reduce the amount of energy used by students, teachers and administrators at their homes

Secondary goals:

Raise public awareness and affect a ripple reduction in energy use and implementation of renewable energy sources everywhere

Enable an overall reduction in spending on energy

Reduce carbon emissions and global warming

 

Aliso Viejo approves grant pursuit for Green Initiative

Great news for the city of Aliso Viejo! The Aliso Viejo city council voted to allow its urban planning staff to pursue grant funding that would help pay for implementation of various Green Initiative measures.

The grant proposal is to be written by the urban planning staff and should be about ready to submit at this time. 

The funding for this grant is provided by Proposition 84, Chapter 9. This is for Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, and River and Coastal Protection Act of 2006. It is part of the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program, and is administered through the Strategic Growth Council which is part of the California State Governor’s office. 

Items specific to the grant for city of Aliso Viejo are greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies, Wood Canyon complete street planning, preparation of a local coastal plan, and an enhanced Green Initiative public outreach program. The combined amount of funding the city is pursuing is $342,480. 

It is great that the Aliso Viejo is showing putting energy into pursuing this worthwhile grant. The city anticipates hearing back from the grant awards committee sometime in June. The IEA report the outcome on this grant. Please check back for the results. 

If your city is pursuing similar grants, we’d like to hear about it -just send is a comment. If your city is not, you might be surprised at how easy it is to get something like this going. At the city level it has been our experience that EVERYONE has a voice. Try attending city meetings in your neighborhood and see what “green” projects they have going on.