2011 Blog Annual Report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

China Sets Ecocity Pace

Here and China Daily 



Discussions and expo are better and more high-level

How do we really build a low-carbon city; how do we develop green architecture; and how canwe possibly hope to sustain development?

These questions and many others are exactly the sort of thing that the second China (BinhaiTianjin) International Eco-city Forum & Expo hopes to address.

This is the second year of the forum, which is held in the Binhai New Area of the municipality of Tianjin, and runs from Sept 23 to 27. Last year it attracted over 100,000 people.

Zong Guoying, head of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, has explained that this year’s is bigger andbetter, with more high-level, instructive discussions.

“Representative of China’s pilot cities for low-Carbon development as well as those from advanced cities overseas will take part in a roundtable, joining academics and business peopleto share their views on green development,” Zong said.

“There will be a parallel expo at the same time showcasing low-carbon technologies andproducts,” he added.

Xu Datong, head of the New Area’s commerce committee said they are expecting more than 600 important guests for the forum.

“The expo covers a 37,000-square-meter area and has more than 1,300 booths all concernedwith low-carbon techniques and eco-friendly cities, in the areas of green architecture, arecycling economy, and emerging industries,” Xu explained.

There will also be separate meetings on government policies, new products, and green financeto bring potential buyers and sellers together and to serve the needs of exhibitors, theorganizing committee said.

“The forum will bring pioneering ideas and methods, mature experience and methods,advanced technology and products, and the top people in eco-friendly urban development fora high-level green feast of ideas and practices,” Zong said.

The five-day forum has a main session and six panel discussions on eco-standards, low-carbon improvements for urban planning and infrastructure, rethinking green architecture, and directions for the future.

It also comes with an annual report, details of the current low-carbon development situation in China that is expected to be instructive for future development, Zong said.

Ji Zemin, the deputy director of the commerce committee, said that seven model, low-carboncities, including Shenzhen and Xiamen, will send delegates to explain their experiences with high-tech developments.

Ji said that everyone is welcome to visit the expo to get a feel for the future of cities.

The forum will be a permanent fixture and a place where all countries can come and exchangeideas on eco-city development.

Zong noted that Binhai still needs greater global wisdom for green development and said thatthe forum will help the district in its search for sustainable development and an efficient,resource-saving economy and harmony between human and nature.

This year is also the first year of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and, given theeffects of global climate change and the increasing number of natural disasters, low-carbonsolutions for development has become a major concern of city managers. So, this year’s themeis “low-carbon development and eco-cities”.

Organizers of the forum and expo are the National Development and Reform Commission,Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Tianjin municipal government, and ChinaCenter for International Economic Exchanges.

TIANJIN – Ecological city planning and construction will play a crucial role in energy saving and emission reduction as well as low-carbon industry, as half of the global population live in cities that use 70 percent of the world’s energy.

That was the message at the opening ceremony of the Second China (Binhai Tianjin) International Eco-City Forum and Expo on Friday.

“The eco-city must be the direction of urban development for the future. The world’s cities, a critical symbol of modern civilizations, hold half of the world’s population. These residential hotspots consume 70 percent of the world’s energy, produce 75 percent of waste and emit 80 percent of the carbon dioxide”, said Ablet Abdureshit, vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, who announced the opening of the grand event.

The carbon dioxide emissions of 287 small cities in China accounts for 72.6 percent of the nation’s total. The top 100 cities ranked by GDP are responsible for 51.7 percent of those emissions, according to Niu Wenyuan, chief scientist and leader of the sustainable development strategy research group under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Eco-cities will be a huge breakthrough in energy conservation, emissions reduction, and the low-carbon industry. Cities can be the pioneers in abandoning obsolete developmental strategies and the “high input, high consumption, and high pollution” model, he said.

Eero Kalervo Paloheimo, an internationally known ecologist, said China can become a leader in eco-city development.

“All the different branches of industry need renewal. New kinds of traffic, energy production and recycling technologies are needed. The long period of industrialization in the West has created dependence, which is not easy to resolve. It is apparently easier for China to make deep, general and radical changes to the structures of production,” he said.

“China and Singapore had decided to build the Sino-Singaporean eco-city in Tianjin, the first of its kind in the world. Now, not only the planning, but also the construction is under way. For a Westerner, it’s amazing.”

Paloheimo expressed his faith in the Tianjin Binhai New Area.

“I have no doubt that the project, as an eco-city standard-setter, is a great step toward a new era. It will absolutely be a tourist attraction for designers from Europe and the United States”.

Zong Guoying, head of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, said: “The Second China (Binhai Tianjin) International Eco-City Forum and Expo will lead in-depth and profound discussions based on hot subjects, including the development of eco-cities, global cooperation, ecological finance policies, and low-carbon development and standardization, to explore innovative approaches and strategies to build eco-cities”.

#londonriot vigilante group to use facebook facial recognition to name and shame rioters

The London Riots Facial Recognition Google Group is developing an API to

identify people in photos posted on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. There is even talk of using the Facebook Graph API and the Twitter API in conjunction with the Face.com one to help better identify the criminals.

Techcrunch Reports

The Prime Minister this morning has slammed ‘false human rights’ concerns over publication of photos.

However this could lead to many false positives of people who are innocent. And as Google+ members cannot be anonymous they could see themselves sued to high heaven.

Do not wear a bandana on your facebook profile, it gives the wrong impression.

Forget Carbon Capture – make Green Cement from Power Stations

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of those technologies, like first gen biofuels, that seem like a good idea at first sight but when you examine them you find do more harm than good

CSS is a means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming. The process is based on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it in such a way that it does not enter the atmosphere, such as underground.  In theory 80-90% of emissions could be captured, and initially the IPCC was enthusiastic, estimating that between 10% and 55% of the total carbon mitigation effort until the year 2100 could come from CCS.

There are two huge problems though.  The first is that of ‘energy penalty’ – there is a 10 – 40 percent loss of the energy produced by a power station. Wide-scale adoption of CCS may erase efficiency gains of the last 50 years, and increase fossil fuel for power consumption by one third.  Though in theory you could still get 80-90% reductions in  CO2  emissions power costs would rise drastically and you would be increasing the point towards peak coal and peak gas significantly.  It just isn’t a feasible option, at least using current technologies.

But we should give up if you have power stations fed by biomass then with storage you can in theory achieve negative carbon.  That is technology that sucks carbon from the atmosphere and actually reserves global warming.  Ill be writing a lot about these ideas in coming weeks as it requires us to rethink the ideas about how we plan the utility networks in our cities, and the design of our cities; but the prize is great town planning really can save the world.

An alternative to conventional CCS but still embryonic approach is what is known as carbon recycling.  That is making use of the carbon to make things.  It can serve as a fuel and fertilizer foodstock – but there is an intriguing new process – use it to make concrete.

One of the first principles of ecological design is that if you have processes that cause problems with there outputs then avoid those problems by using it as an input into another process – use waste as a resource – form a closed loop process, as in nature.

Consider power stations, high energy input, high carbon output.  What is needed, on the output side of the problem, is a process that needs carbon as an input and would otherwise require vast amounts of energy to extract that carbon from nature.  There is a perfect process concrete.

Concrete is the most widely used material on earth apart from water, with nearly three tons used annually for each man, woman, and child. The manufacture of cement releases a terrifying 9kg of CO2 for every 10kg of cement produced.  Carbon dioxide emissions from a cement plant are divided into two source categories: combustion and calcination. Combustion accounts for approximately 40% and calcination 60% of the total carbon emissions from a cement manufacturing facility.  Estimates of global carbons emissions from concrete  vary between 5-7% of all emissions, but it is one of the fastest growing sectors due to rapid urbanisation and inefficient plants in China.   The impact is mitigated slightly as calcination causes concete to absorb carbon naturally over its lifetime.

Is there a way though to use the natural processes of calcification to extract carbon from power plant emissions?  According to Green Building Elements

California company Calera… is creating cement that actually reduces the amount of CO2 put into the air by power plants. Their location, across the street from a major Californian power plant, siphons smoke stack emissions from the power plant, runs the gas through oil rig or brackish water, and the salts and minerals from the water bond with the carbon dioxide in the gas to precipitate out limestone in much the same way that mother nature does it. What he gets is cement, hard aggregate for making concrete, and water that is already a step toward being purified for drinking thus reducing the time and energy needed to return it to a potable state. The cement can be used just like Portland cement

The process mimics the way corals, shellfish and other deep-sea creatures create their shells and skeletons out of calcium and magnesium in seawater. At the pilot facility, capture rates above 85% of carbon dioxide and SO2 have been achieved for coal combustion.  Also there is no net energy penalty as this is less than the sulphur scrubbers that need to be installed on power stations anyway.  A nice in hard water areas is soft water, as the calcinates that would otherwise fur our kettles are extracted.  Early tests show structural strength similar to conventional Portland cement.

Clinton ‘paint all roofs white’

Former President Clinton has taken up Stephen Chu and Art Rosenfelds idea idea to paint roofs white to save energy by lowering their albedo.

Look at the tar roofs covering millions of American buildings. They absorb huge amounts of heat when it’s hot. And they require more air conditioning to cool the rooms. Mayor Bloomberg started a program to hire and train young people to paint New York’s roofs white. A big percentage of the kids have been able to parlay this simple work into higher-skilled training programs or energy-related retrofit jobs. (And, believe it or not, painting the roof white can lower the electricity use by 20 percent on a hot day!)

Every black roof in New York should be white; every roof in Chicago should be white; every roof in Little Rock should be white. Every flat tar-surface roof anywhere! In most of these places you could recover the cost of the paint and the labor in a week. It’s the quickest, cheapest thing you can do. In the current environment it’s been difficult for the mayors to get what is otherwise a piddling amount of money to do it everywhere. Yet lowering the utility bill in every apartment house 10 to 20 percent frees cash that can be spent to increase economic growth.

Does that mean we have to paint slate roofs white – no the opposite in a cold climate its good that roofs absorb heat. It really depends on whether the energy load from cooling is likely to exceed the energy load from heating. There is much less need for a cool roof for pitched roofs. So Welsh slate cottages can stay with black roofs.

Blowing Cold Air on District Heating

An Article at Co-Generation news is generating discussion in sustainability circles.

Rory Bergin head of sustinability at HTA writes

A strategic problem with heat networks is that there is a plan to reduce their business case by about 50 per cent over the next 30 years, known as the Green Deal. We need to reduce our heating demand by this much if we are to have any chance at reducing our CO2 emissions from heating systems. Heat networks provide a flexible mechanism for delivering heat, but if they don’t need to deliver so much heat, are they worth the effort and would our investment be better directed elsewhere?

It is right to question whether superinsultated homes (such as Passivhaus) need full heating. But there are many examples on the continent of superinsulted schemes with district hot water systems only (which can be used as back up heating in very cold weather).


Air-Conditioning Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan Costs $20.2 billion a year – more than NASA

From NPR

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

..more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel.

experiments with polyurethane foam insulation for tents in Iraq cut energy use by 92 percent and took 11,000 fuel trucks off the road. But …there’s a lack of enthusiasm for a greener military among top commanders.

“People look at it and say ‘It’s not my lane. We don’t need to tie the operational commanders’ hands’ — things like this”