Wednesday, June 29, 2011



News and Events

June 29, 2011

DOE Supports Landmark Rooftop Solar Project

DOE announced on June 22 a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.4 billion loan to support Project Amp. This initiative will support the installation of solar panels on industrial buildings across the country. Electricity generated from those panels will contribute directly to the electrical grid instead of powering the buildings on which they were installed. With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Project Amp includes the installation of approximately 733 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. This will nearly equal the total amount of PV installed in the United States in 2010. The project sponsor estimates Project Amp will create at least one thousand jobs over a four-year period.

Project Amp will enable a wide distribution of solar power over approximately 750 existing rooftops owned and managed by Prologis, a leading global provider of industrial real estate. The first phase of the project includes a 15.4-MW installation in Southern California. The power from Phase 1 will be sold to Southern California Edison. Additional installations will be built in up to 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Project Amp is expected to produce up to one million megawatt hours annually, enough to power over 88,000 homes. At this level, the project is expected to avoid approximately 580,000 tons of carbon pollution annually. Including the latest project, DOE's Loan Programs Office has reserved or committed to over $12 billion in loan guarantees to solar generation projects.More info at:

Efficiency, Renewable Energy Projects Win 11 R&D 100 Awards

Efficiency and renewable energy projects from DOE national laboratories have won 11 of the 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine. The awards are presented annually in recognition of exceptional new products, processes, materials, or software developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year. Overall, DOE won 36 awards, including those funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Scientists and engineers from 13 DOE's national laboratories and facilities received the honors from an independent panel of judges.

There were four DOE winners for energy efficiency. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was cited for three projects: the NextAire packaged gas heat pump, a means to heat and cool small and medium sized buildings by using fuel (typically natural gas) instead of electricity; CermaClad, a technology that fuses various substances onto metal substrates 25% to 50% more cheaply, and 10% to 100% faster than current technology; and a new stainless steel alloy tooling for high-temperature presses that can increase the life of products. In addition, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) earned honors for its advanced ceramic film capacitors, which could yield less expensive capacitors for power electronics in electric drive vehicles.

In renewable energy categories, there were seven R&D 100 award picks. ANL's enhanced renewable methane production system was picked because it accelerates biological methane production rates at least fivefold and could enhance biological methane production at waste-water treatment plants, farms, and landfills. Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) gained recognition for its demand response inverter—designed to reduce the levelized cost of energy from solar photovoltaic power by being more efficient—and for the ultra-high-voltage silicon carbide thyristor, a power control device for the next-generation "Smart Grid" that is up to 10 times smaller and lighter than current silicon-based technologies. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) garnered a prize for nanostructured antifogging coatings that can provide a more transparent, less costly coating for solar panels. And the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scored three firsts: a flash quantum efficiency system to assess the quality of solar cells about 1,000 times faster than previous methods; an optical cavity furnace, which could produce higher quality and higher efficiency solar cells at a fraction of the cost of conventional thermal ovens; and the Innovalight silicon ink for high-efficiency solar cells, the first time that silicon has been sold in the marketplace as a liquid, potentially improving the bottom line of a typical solar production plant by 20% while boosting cell efficiency.More info at:

DOE Awards More Than $11 Million to Geothermal Energy Technologies

DOE announced on June 23 that eight projects in five states—California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas, and Utah—have been selected to receive up to $11.3 million to support the research and development of pioneering geothermal technologies. The projects selected will foster innovation in the technologies and methods used to generate geothermal power. The innovations will help strengthen U.S. energy security and increase America's competitiveness in the global clean energy economy.

The projects aim to develop fundamentally new ways of producing electricity from the Earth's heat. Selected projects will conduct feasibility studies in a first phase that includes technical and economic modeling and component design for technologies that recover geothermal heat for electricity production. Project selected for the second phase will then validate the designs in real-world environments. The selected projects are part of DOE efforts to reduce the cost of geothermal energy so that it can be competitive with conventional sources of electricity.More info at:

DOE Offers $120 Million to Support Innovative Manufacturing Processes

As part the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership launched June 24 by President Obama, DOE is offering an investment of up to $120 million over three years to develop transformational manufacturing technologies and innovative materials. The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership is a national effort bringing together industry, universities, and the federal government to invest in emerging technologies that will create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance U.S. competitiveness.

The selected projects will emphasize new processes and materials that are revolutionary in their design or impact and that are capable of being commercialized within the next five to seven years. By boosting investment in near-term technology development, DOE is supporting projects that might otherwise take far longer to contribute to U.S. industrial competitiveness. DOE expects to fund 35 to 50 cost-shared projects under the initiative. Teams can be comprised of large and small companies, universities and academic institutions, trade organizations, national laboratories, and other research institutions. Applications are due by August 25.More info at:

DOE Awards Nearly $7.5 Million to Develop Next Generation Wind Turbines

DOE announced on June 28 that that six projects in four states—California, Colorado, Florida, and New York—have been selected to receive nearly $7.5 million over two years to advance next-generation designs for wind turbine drivetrains. Drivetrains, which include a turbine's gearbox and generator, are at the heart of the turbine and are responsible for producing electricity from the rotation of the blades. The advances in drivetrain technologies and configurations supported through these research and development projects will help the United States maintain its position as a global leader in wind energy technologies. The projects will also help promote and accelerate the deployment of advanced turbines for U.S. offshore wind energy.

These early research and development projects will focus on reducing the cost of wind energy by increasing component reliability or redesigning drivetrains to eliminate the need for some components altogether. Some funded projects will work to increase the amount of energy drivetrains can produce or help develop drivetrain designs that minimize the use of rare earth materials. For example, Clipper Windpower of California will develop and test a unique drivetrain design that enables increased serviceability over conventional gearboxes and is scalable to large capacity turbines. And Advanced Magnet Lab of Florida will develop an innovative superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines.More info at:

NREL Facility Named One of Nation's Top Sustainable Buildings

It's been a little over a year since DOE's Research Support Facility (RSF) opened on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus in Colorado. The innovative approach taken in the design and construction of the NREL corporate headquarters has already led to 24 local and international awards. This month, it received one of its most important distinctions: the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Award for New Construction by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction.More info at:

Maine Community Seeing Things in a New Light

As one of the northernmost communities in the "Lower 48," Fort Fairfield, Maine (population 3,500) averages less sunlight every year than towns in the southern part of the state. In the summer months, this isn't a big problem since it stays lighter much later in the evening. In the winter, however, the hours of actual daylight are dramatically shorter, which can lead to higher utility bills for keeping streetlights on for more hours per day.

All this darkness and the need to save energy is one of the reasons Fort Fairfield was able to leverage $58,290 in DOE Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funding with a $45,675 lighting incentive from Efficiency Maine to replace 174 streetlights with LED lighting technology.More info at:


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

JAVNI NATJEČAJ za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba za 2011. godinu


za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba za 2011. godinu


Predmet ovog natječaja je subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije: solarnog kolektorskog sustava za grijanje i pripremu potrošne tople vode, fotonaponskog sustava za proizvodnju električne energije, sustava za grijanje i pripremu potrošne tople vode na pelete, sustava za grijanje i pripremu potrošne tople vode na peći s pirolitičkim procesom izgaranja na području Grada Zagreba za 2011. godinu za kuće i stanove (fizičke osobe) te malo i srednje poduzetništvo (pravne osobe).


Pravo na korištenje subvencije troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba za 2011. godinu (dalje u tekstu: sustavi OIE) iz točke 1. ovog natječaja imaju fizičke osobe s prebivalištem na području Grada Zagreba i pravne osobe koje imaju sjedište na u posljednje tri godine nisu koristile nepovratna novčana sredstva Grada Zagreba za trošak nabave i ugradnje istog sustava OIE u ukupnom iznosu većem ili jednakom od 12.000,00 kn; će ugraditi sustav OIE i održavati ga na objektu koji se nalazi na području Grada Zagreba, a koji će biti funkcionalna cjelina i koji će se sastojati od komponenti sadržanih u članku 2. Odluke o uvjetima, kriterijima i postupku za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba (Službeni glasnik Grada Zagreba 8/11).

Financijska sredstva za troškove opreme i ugradnje sustava OIE subvencionirat će se u iznosu do 40% investicijske vrijednosti odnosno do maksimalnog iznosa od 12.000,00 kn.
Sredstva će se isplaćivati isključivo za troškove opreme i ugradnje nastale nakon datuma objave javnog natječaja


Opći uvjeti natječaja za subvencioniranje sustava OIE su:

- da fizičke osobe imaju prijavljeno prebivalište na području Grada Zagreba;
- da pravne osobe imaju registrirano sjedište na području Grada Zagreba
- da posjeduju dokaz o vlasništvu objekta u koji se ugrađuje sustav OIE
- da posjeduju dokaz o zakonito izgrađenom objektu (građevini) izdan sukladno Zakonu o prostornom uređenju i gradnji (Narodne novine 76/07 i 38/09);
- da prihvaćaju Opće uvjete zajedničkog sudjelovanja u subvencioniranju troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba;
- da se mogu prijaviti isključivo za subvencioniranje jednog od sustava koji su predmet natječaja.

Obvezni sadržaj prijave na natječaj su:

- potpisani i cjelovito popunjeni Prijavni obrazac za podnošenje zahtjeva za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava za korištenje obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba (Prilog 1);
- Izjava prijavitelja o prihvaćanju općih uvjeta zajedničkog sudjelovanja u subvencioniranju dijela troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba (Prilog 2);
- preslika osobne iskaznice za fizičku osobu;
- izvadak iz odgovarajućeg registra za pravne osobe
- preslika vlasničkog lista za objekt u koji se ugrađuje sustav OIE (potrebno je dostaviti suglasnost svih suvlasnika zgrade);
- dokaz o zakonito izgrađenom objektu (građevini) izdan sukladno Zakonu o prostornom uređenju i gradnji (Narodne novine 76/07 i 38/09). Kao dokaz navedenom može se priložiti preslika vlasničkog lista sa upisanom građevinom temeljem uporabne dozvole, bez tereta da uporabna dozvola nije priložena, pravomoćna građevinska i uporabna dozvola, potvrda glavnog projekta, rješenje o uvjetima građenja odnosno rješenje o izvedenom stanju, ili drugi odgovarajući akt kojim se dokazuje zakonitost izgrađenog objekta ovisno o tome kad je objekt sagrađen.

Navedena dokumentacija prilaže se u izvorniku ili ovjerenoj preslici, ne starija od 30 dana od datuma objave natječaja, osim preslike osobne iskaznice i dokaza o zakonito izgrađenom objektu (građevini) na koji se planira ugradnja sustava OIE.

Prilikom ocjenjivanja pristiglih prijava od podnositelja prijave može se, osim dokumentacije iz stavka 1. ove točke zatražiti, po potrebi, dopuna dokumentacije koju je na zahtjev dužan dostaviti u roku od 5 dana od dana primitka pisane obavijesti.


Prijava na natječaj podnosi se na Prijavnom obrascu za podnošenje zahtjeva za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava za korištenje obnovljivih izvora energije na području Grada Zagreba (Prilog 1.) koji će, uz sve propisane obrasce (priloge) biti dostupan na internetskoj stranici Grada Zagreba u rubrici „INFO SERVIS – Natječaji ili u Gradskom uredu za energetiku, zaštitu okoliša i održivi razvoj , Zagreb, Dukljaninova 3, soba 306, III kat, radnim danom u vremenu od 10:00 do 12:00 sati . Uz Prijavni obrazac potrebno je priložiti dokumentaciju iz točke 5. ovog natječaja.

Rok za podnošenje prijava na natječaj je 30 dana od dana objave natječaja.

Prijave na natječaj podnose se u zatvorenoj omotnici, s naznakom „Ne otvaraj – za Javni natječaj za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE na području Grada Zagreba“, preporučenom pošiljkom na adresu: Grad Zagreb, Gradski ured za energetiku, zaštitu okoliša i održivi razvoj, Zagreb, Dukljaninova 3/IV.

Sva pitanja u vezi s natječajem mogu se tijekom trajanja natječaja dobiti na telefonima: 01/ 6585 015, 01/6585 013, ili e-poštom na: renata.vitezsilipetar@,, najkasnije 3 dana prije isteka roka za prijavu na natječaj.

U roku za dostavu prijave prijavitelj može pisano odustati od natjecanja te istovremeno zatražiti povrat svoje neotvorene prijave.

Nepotpune prijave, prijave dostavljene nakon isteka propisanog roka kao i prijave koje se ne odnose na predmet natječaja neće se razmatrati.

Postupak dodjele sredstava za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE provodi Povjerenstvo za provedbu postupka natječaja za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE. Gradonačelnik Grada Zagreba donosi konačnu odluku o odabiru.

Kriteriji za odabir prijavitelja su:
1.Tehno-ekonomska opravdanost ugradnje sustava OIE na prijavljenom objektu (najveći ukupan broj bodova 40);

2. Zatečeno stanje konstrukcijskih dijelova građevine – zadovoljavajuća toplinska zaštita, opće stanje fasade, stolarije i drugo (najveći ukupan broj bodova 30)

3. Zatečeno stanje sustava za grijanje i pripremu potrošne tople vode (najveći ukupan broj bodova 30).

Kriteriji za odabir korisnika navedeni u točkama 1-3. ove točke odnose se na fizičke osobe, a kriteriji navedeni u točkama 2. i 3. odnose se na pravne osobe.

Ukoliko se u prijavnom obrascu navedu dva ili više odgovora za jedan kriterij, pri dodjeljivanju bodova za predmetni kriterij računati će se njihova aritmetička sredina.

Ukupan broj odabranih prijavitelja može se promijeniti, sukladno raspoloživim financijskim sredstvima, a korisnici sredstava za subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE biti će oni prijavitelji koji ostvare veći broj bodova bez obzira na vrstu sustava OIE.

Lista prednosti utvrđuje se obzirom na broj bodova temeljem kriterija iz točke 7. ovog natječaja.
Prednost pri odabiru imat će prijavitelji koji su ostvarili veći broj bodova temeljem propisanih kriterija bez obzira na vrstu sustava.

O rezultatima natječaja podnositelji prijave biti će pisano obaviješteni u roku od 60 dana od dana zatvaranja natječaja. Rezultati natječaja biti će javno dostupni na internetskoj stranici Grada Zagreba.

Odabrani prijavitelj dužan je, najkasnije u roku od 3 dana od dana primitka obavijesti o donošenju odluke o odabiru, pisanim putem obavijestiti Povjerenstvo o prihvaćanju iste. Ukoliko se u navedenom roku ne očituje, smatrat će se da je odustao od natječaja, bez obzira na potpisanu Izjavu o prihvaćanju općih uvjeta zajedničkog sudjelovanja u subvencioniranju troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE na području Grada Zagreba, te će mu biti onemogućeno sudjelovanje na predmetnom natječaju slijedeće godine, a sa liste prednosti bit će odabran drugi prijavitelj.

Grad Zagreb i odabrani prijavitelj sklapaju na temelju odluke o odabiru ugovor kojim se uređuju međusobna prava i obveze u svezi subvencioniranja troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE, uvjeti i način korištenja Vrijednosnog kupona kao instrumenta plaćanja, rok ugradnje predmetnog sustava te druga prava i obveze koje iz toga proizlaze.

Na osnovu ugovora iz točke 9. ovog natječaja Grad Zagreb odabranim će prijaviteljima izdati Vrijednosni kupon (Prilog 3) kao instrument plaćanja s određenim rokom važenja.

Prilikom kupnje sustava OIE korisnik sredstava dužan je predati Vrijednosni kupon prodavatelju opreme i usluge ugradnje sustava OIE koji je dužan umanjiti iznos računa za 40 % ukupne vrijednosti (sa PDV-om) do najviše 12.000,00 kn.

Dobiveni iznos je subvencija koju će Grad Zagreb isplatiti prodavatelju opreme i usluge ugradnje na njegov žiro račun naveden na Vrijednosnom kuponu u roku od 30 dana od dana zaprimanja propisane dokumentacije.

Nerealizirani Vrijednosni kupon korisnik sredstava dužan je vratiti Gradu Zagrebu nakon isteka roka njegova važenja. Ukoliko korisnik sredstava nakon roka važenja ne vrati nerealizirani Vrijednosni kupon Gradu Zagrebu, gubi pravo na subvencioniranje troškova nabave i ugradnje sustava OIE u sljedeće tri godine ne računajući godinu u kojoj je natječaj raspisan.

Više informacija na:


Sunday, June 26, 2011

ECO-friendly cars by CCRES

ECO-friendly cars on the road today by CCRES

If you are concerned about the impact of fossil fuels and automobile emissions, you may want to consider buying one of the top 10 eco-friendly cars on the road today:

1) Nissan Altima: While you might expect to see cars with new names on this list, one of the best “green” cars currently on the market is the Altima. It’s a mid-sized sedan so it comfortably seats a family of four (with room for another if necessary). While it is not a hybrid, it is still a low-emission vehicle, so you can still drive a stylish, modern vehicle and do your part to help the environment.

2) Ford Fusion: This is a vehicle with which you are probably familiar. It’s made in America and averages a mileage of 41 miles per gallon in the city! It is also affordable and suitable for families.

3) Ford Escape Hybrid: If you have a larger family or simply prefer a large vehicle and you still want to reduce your emissions, this could be the car for you. As an SUV you get a lot of the power you might need as well as the safety your family demands with a generous 34 MPG in the city.

4) Honda Insight: This is one of the newest cars to enter the hybrid/eco-vehicle category. Ringing at just under $20,000 it is a little more affordable for a hybrid and it is trendy, has great fuel economy, and bears the Honda name, so you know it’s of a lasting quality.

5) Honda Civic Hybrid: The Honda Civic consistently ranks among the most popular cars in the United States so it only seems natural that Honda would produce a Hybrid as well. It’s an ideal family sedan; it’s sleek and contemporary; and of course it is trustworthy. If you like this car, keep your eyes open for updates because new features are added all the time.

6) Toyota Prius: A third-generation hybrid, the Prius got off to a rocky start with its less-than-favorable body design. However, it is still one of the best hybrid vehicles on the market because it provides several of the best eco-friendly features and is quite affordable.

7) Mercury Milan Hybrid: This is one of the few new cars on the market for 2011 that offers an entirely electric option. If you so choose, you can travel up to 47 miles in one hour on a full electric charge. While this makes it dependable as a green model, it also makes it one of the fastest green models available on the market. There are also two different models of this particular car so you have your choice of a more practical or sporty look, depending on your tastes.

8) Chevrolet Volt 230: This is another of the newest cars to hit the 2011 market. It is also one of the most exciting because speculation suggests that this car can travel up to 230 city miles on a single gallon of gas! However, it can also travel up to 40 miles at a time between charging. As you can imagine, this car is quite expensive, but with rising gas prices what you save on fuel could quickly compensate you the initial expense.

9) Lexus HS: If luxury is what you desire, this sedan may be perfect for you. You still get all the exquisite features you have come to expect from the Lexus brand, but with 35 MPG.

10) Porsche Cayenne Hybrid: Finally, a high-end vehicle for the eco-conscious, this is the ultimate status vehicle. Obviously, it looks beautiful, and you can expect to pay a pretty penny for it.

More info at:


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hrvatska slavi Dan državnosti


Dan Državnosti

Hrvatska slavi Dan državnosti, prisjećajući se 25. lipnja 1991. kada je Hrvatski sabor donio odluku o pokretanju postupka razdruživanja od drugih republika SFRJ i Deklaraciju o proglašenju suverene i samostalne Republike Hrvatske.

Prije povijesne odluke o pokretanju postupka razdruživanja, u svibnju 1991. održan je referendum na kojem se više od 94% hrvatskih građana izjasnilo o tome da Hrvatska ne treba ostati u tadašnjoj jugoslavenskoj državi.

U proljeće i rano ljeto 1991. Hrvatska je već bila suočena s pobunom lokalnih Srba i srpskim terorističkim napadima na hrvatske gradove i sela te sa stradavanjem civila.

Zbog međunarodnih pritisaka i uvjerenja da će tako lakše teći pregovori o razdruživanju, ustavna odluka o suverenosti i samostalnosti Republike Hrvatske nije se primijenila odmah, nego je Brijunskom deklaracijom to odgođeno za tri mjeseca. Moratorij je istekao 8. listopada 1991., kada Republika Hrvatska definitivno raskida državnopravne veze s ostalim jugoslavenskim republikama i postaje samostalna i neovisna država.

Proslava Dana državnosti

Proslava 20. obljetnice neovisnosti i Dana državnosti počela je polaganjem vijenaca na Oltaru hrvatske domovine. Vijence su položili predsjednici Republike, Sabora i Vlade - Ivo Josipović, Luka Bebić i Jadranka Kosor.

Državni vrh je nakon toga bio na svetoj misi zahvalnici za domovinu. Pogledajte snimku mise. Misu je predvodio zagrebački nadbiskup kardinal Josip Bozanić.

Nakon mise održana je svečana sjednica Vlade. Na njoj su bili i predsjednici Republike i Sabora Josipović i Bebić te održali prigodne govore zajedno s premijerkom Kosor. Pogledajte snimku svečane sjednice Vlade.

Središnja proslava Dana državnosti i ove se godine održala u Vukovaru.

Nakon polaganja vijenaca i paljenja svijeća na Ovčari i Memorijalnom groblju u Vukovaru, predsjednica Vlade Jadranka Kosor, predsjednik Hrvatskog sabora Luka Bebić i hrvatski predsjednik i vrhovni zapovjednik Oružanih snaga Ivo Josipović bili su na promociji polaznika hrvatskih vojnih škola.

Uslijedila je svečana večera u uredu predsjednika na Pantovčaku. Od stranih gostiju na svečanoj večeri bili su predsjednici Mađarske i Slovenije Pal Schmitt i Danilo Tuerk. Društvo je trebalo biti puno veće, jer je prvotna ideja Pantovčaka bila da se za Dan državnosti u Zagreb pozovu svi predsjednici susjednih država. No malo je predugo trajalo usuglašavanje protokola s Banskim dvorima, pa se od toga odustalo.

Predsjednik se iz Vukovara vratio Vladinim zrakoplovom kako bi, osim mađarskog i slovenskog kolege, na Pantovčaku ugostio i predstavnike političkih stranaka, koji u Vukovar nisu bili pozvani, zatim predstavnike Ustavnog i Vrhovnog suda, Hrvatske akademije znosti i umjetnosti te sveučilišta.

Prije 20 godina Hrvatska se razdružila od Jugoslavije, a ovogodišnja proslava protječe u znaku pridruživanja Europskoj uniji.

Nakon svečane večere, predsjednik će svoje goste odvesti na koncert u Hrvatsku akademiju znanosti i umjetnosti. Premijerka Kosor, pak, ostala je na koncertu u Vukovaru.


CCRES Home Design Basics


CCRES Home Design Basics

Passive solar design can make a home more comfortable in every season. The winter sun can warm a home´s interior, while simple shading and thermal mass strategies can prevent summer overheating.

The home designs on the following pages balance four primary building elements orientation, windows, overhangs, and thermal mass—to optimize use of the sun´s energy. While these elements are found in most conventional homes, the designs included here put the right amount in the right places for maximal efficiency and performance. Most of them also provide ample south-facing roof space to accommodate the addition of solar hot water collectors and solar-electric arrays—part of a whole-house plan for energy efficiency and independence.

Whether you´re having a builder construct your own home from these plans or building for a client, consider these best design bets.More info at:

Site Right

In the winter, the sun rises in the southeast, is low in the south sky at midday, and sets in the southwest in the middle latitudes in North America. In the summer, the sun rises in the northeast, is high in the south sky at midday, and sets in the northwest.

In all areas except the southern tip of Florida, choose a home site that receives full southern sun in winter and is unobstructed by trees, other buildings, or hillsides. Besides your own observations about shading during the seasons, site analysis tools can provide a quick, accurate assessment of your proposed building site. You can also use a compass to help find true north and south, but keep in mind that a compass points to magnetic north, which can vary by as much as 25 degrees from true north. This difference is called magnetic declination.

To maximize winter sun and summer shade, orient the home´s south face to within 10 degrees of true south. Even though orienting the house 30 degrees from true south reduces winter solar gain by only 13 percent, the cooling penalty can be greater. Homes facing from 30 to 45 degrees east or west of south may need longer overhangs. This is especially true if the home´s orientation favors the west, because overhangs quickly become much less effective as the hot western sun, low in the sky, strikes the house. In most locations, a slight orientation to the east is desirable to increase winter morning sun and decrease summer afternoon sun.More info at:

Proper Window Placement

Heat from the sun entering south-facing windows and doors with glass can provide between 20 and 80 percent of the heat required to keep a house warm in winter. The highest percentages are possible in homes in mild climates and those that are well insulated.

South-facing glass should be at least 5 percent and usually no greater than 12 percent of the conditioned square footage of the house. (For example, a 1,000-square-foot house would have between 50 and 120 square feet of south-facing glazing.) Ideally this should apply separately to each floor of the house. Include only the glazing square footage—do not include window or door frames. For instance, a 30- by 60-inch window (12.5 square feet) might only have 10 square feet of glazing.

Homes with south glass area between 5 and 7 percent are commonly referred to as sun-tempered, and are appropriate for very hot climates such as the southernmost areas of the United States (as a rule, below 35 degrees north latitude, although there are many exceptions based on local climate conditions). If south glass exceeds 7 percent of the floor area, install materials with high thermal mass inside the house, such as concrete or masonry, to moderate interior temperature swings.

Place just enough windows on the north, east, and west walls to balance interior light levels, capture any views, create an attractive house, and allow for natural cooling. But be sparing, because windows placed in these orientations are energy drains in cold months and, in the summer, eastern and western windows let in unwanted hot morning or afternoon sun, unless they are shaded. For balanced lighting and ventilation, place windows on opposite or at least two sides of each room. Limit the use of skylights, which admit too much sun in the summer and are difficult to shade. Instead, install sun tubes (also known as tubular skylights) in interior rooms without windows, which let in some light, but less heat.

Window manufacturers often use "solar" to describe glazing, but usually this is an indication that the glass blocks the sun (has a low solar heat gain coefficient; SHGC) and can be very misleading. For passive solar space heating, south-facing windows should have a high SHGC (at least 0.52) to maximize the amount of the sun´s heat that passes through the glass. A window with a SHGC of 0.33 lets in only 33 percent of the sun´s heat energy. If you can´t find high SHGC windows, a reasonable option is to install clear (uncoated) double-paned glass and use insulated blinds or shutters at night to minimize heat loss. Alternatively, triple-paned clear glass will let in a large amount of sun while limiting heat loss. Some building codes stipulate a maximum SHGC of 0.4, but then allow you to average all of the SHGCs so that windows with higher SHGCs can be used on the home´s south face.More info at:

Seek Summertime Shade

Overhangs, awnings, and porches can shade windows in certain seasons and prevent the home from overheating. For cold climates, design overhangs for a long season of full sun striking the south glass. Overhangs should fully shade south-facing windows during the summer months, and allow full sun on windows during the wintertime. For hot climates, design overhangs for a long season of full shade on the south glass. It is fairly simple to achieve full shade on June 21, the summer solstice, when the sun is high. Shading in August becomes more difficult, since increasing the overhang depth will also shade the window in April, when more solar gain may be desirable for heating. This is where a slight easterly rotation of the house can help.

South window overhangs should be sized for the height of the windows, wall height, and the construction detail of where the roof meets the wall. West and east windows require much longer overhangs, and these windows are best shaded by other methods, such as porches or trees.

During the late summer and early fall months, it may be necessary to close blinds or curtains, and pay more attention to passive cooling strategies like opening windows when the temperature drops below 70°F, and closing up the house in the morning, before the day begins to warm. Likewise, in late spring, there may be a few cool days where more heat is desired than is entering the partially shaded south windows. Conserving the heat that does enter by using insulated curtains on the windows can be highly effective.More info at:

Make It Massive

Materials with high thermal mass, such as brick, stone, ceramic tile, and concrete, absorb direct solar gain in the winter and indirect heat during the summer. Although it is best to locate thermal mass in the path of direct sunlight, other mass in contact with the material that receives direct solar gain can serve the same function. Including thermal mass is especially important for homes with glass above 7 percent of the home´s square footage. Locate the mass as close to south-facing windows as possible. For each square foot of glass above 7 percent, add:

• 5.5 sq. ft. of mass in floors that receive direct sunlight
• 8.3 sq. ft. of mass in walls and ceilings in the same room
• 40 sq. ft. of mass in floors that don´t receive direct solar gain

Strive for a minimum of 2 inches (and a maximum of 4 inches) of thermal mass. Less than 2 inches does not store sufficient heat and more than 4 inches (unless it is an 8-inch wall with both sides exposed) can absorb so much heat that it will be too slowly released. The maximum amount of floor mass area that should be used is 1.5 times the south-facing window area, since the sun cannot hit large areas all at once.

For cost effectiveness, use concrete, concrete masonry, and earthen plasters as thermal mass. Slab-on-grade construction, where a concrete floor is poured over insulation, can economically combine the foundation with a heat-absorbing floor. ICF (insulating concrete form) foundations, which sandwich concrete between expanded polystyrene foam panels, are very compatible with cold-climate slabs, even when the upper part of the house is framed with studs. ICFs are an excellent option for the main house walls also. Studies have shown that their combination of mass and insulation helps temper interior temperature swings, even though the foam somewhat isolates the concrete (mass) from the living areas.

Interior heat-absorbing walls, made of concrete block, stone, or brick, can also serve to absorb solar heat. Masonry walls are commonly incorporated into fireplace or wood heater surrounds. With the creative use of decorative concrete block, or coverings (veneers) of stone, brick, stucco, plaster, or tile, heat-storing walls can become effective passive heating elements, as well as beautiful accent walls and focal points in a home.More info at:


Daylighting is the art and science of using natural light to illuminate indoor spaces. It saves energy, and can make living and working areas more attractive and comfortable. Daylighting in homes is typically accomplished using windows, translucent doors, skylights, light pipes (tubular skylights), and clerestories. A well-designed daylit home on a sunny lot can get by without any electric lighting between dawn and dusk.

Daylight is sunlight that is direct or reflected. Sunshine provides us with vitamin D, and also combats seasonal affective disorder, or winter depression. Natural light doesn´t change the character of colors the way artificial lights can and, with its subtly changing intensity, daylight is much more interesting. It can make us feel more connected to nature and supports our natural biological rhythms, which contribute to restful sleep.

Using sunlight in your home can decrease heating and cooling loads through passive solar design techniques, as well as eliminate most lighting needs during the day. Its use has been proven, in commercial settings and schools, to decrease absenteeism and increase productivity and test scores. Also, people who work in naturally lit buildings report a sense of well-being.

Designing a daylit home can be very simple. In most regions, provide a long south wall of windows and locate the main living spaces along the south side to take advantage of direct solar gain in the wintertime. In the summer, adequately deep, fixed overhangs will block heat gain but still allow indirect light to enter the windows.

First, arrange rooms based on your preferences. Morning people tend to like their bedrooms located in the southeast corner of a home. Kitchen and breakfast rooms may compete for that corner. Night folks usually don´t mind a bedroom on the west; by the time they retire, the room will have cooled off. Artists, especially painters, usually locate their studios on a home´s north side to take advantage of the uniformity of northern light.

Next, select your daylighting strategies. Start with windows for almost every room. Consider light, heat gain, ventilation, views, aesthetics, and emergency exits when making your choices of window sizes and types. Add a clerestory for overhead, private light, increased ventilation, and desirable heat gain. A small operable skylight with a flared light well can provide sky-gazing opportunities and overhead light, with privacy and increased ventilation. Light pipes are a great choice for naturally lighting small interior spaces and dark corners.

Daylight is extremely variable in intensity and duration, changing throughout the day and year. These characteristics can make it challenging to deliver consistent lighting. Light sensors can control artificial light sources, on dimmers, to maintain minimum light levels.

Glare is a potential problem for many systems. Controlling reflected sun by using light shelves (interior "overhangs") or wide windowsills is effective, and using sheer fabrics to filter incoming light can also help.

Living with natural light helps us feel less isolated from nature, and being indoors seems more like a temporary condition, rather than a permanent sentence. With thoughtful daylighting design incorporated into your home, you´ll find that from dawn to dusk, the best things in light are free.More info at:


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Climate of Denial by Al Gore

Climate of Denial

Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?

By Al Gore

The first time I remember hearing the question "is it real?" was when I went as a young boy to see a traveling show put on by "professional wrestlers" one summer evening in the gym of the Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, Tennessee.

The evidence that it was real was palpable: "They're really hurting each other! That's real blood! Look a'there! They can't fake that!" On the other hand, there was clearly a script (or in today's language, a "narrative"), with good guys to cheer and bad guys to boo.

But the most unusual and in some ways most interesting character in these dramas was the referee: Whenever the bad guy committed a gross and obvious violation of the "rules" — such as they were — like using a metal folding chair to smack the good guy in the head, the referee always seemed to be preoccupied with one of the cornermen, or looking the other way. Yet whenever the good guy — after absorbing more abuse and unfairness than any reasonable person could tolerate — committed the slightest infraction, the referee was all over him. The answer to the question "Is it real?" seemed connected to the question of whether the referee was somehow confused about his role: Was he too an entertainer?

That is pretty much the role now being played by most of the news media in refereeing the current wrestling match over whether global warming is "real," and whether it has any connection to the constant dumping of 90 million tons of heat-trapping emissions into the Earth's thin shell of atmosphere every 24 hours.

This article appears in the July 7, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available on newsstands and in the digital archive on June 24.

Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it's a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.

The referee — in this analogy, the news media — seems confused about whether he is in the news business or the entertainment business. Is he responsible for ensuring a fair match? Or is he part of the show, selling tickets and building the audience? The referee certainly seems distracted: by Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, the latest reality show — the list of serial obsessions is too long to enumerate here.

But whatever the cause, the referee appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the "rules" of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made "legal" and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. (Question: Would Michael Jordan have been a star if he was covered by four defensive players every step he took on the basketball court?)

This script, of course, is not entirely new: A half-century ago, when Science and Reason established the linkage between cigarettes and lung diseases, the tobacco industry hired actors, dressed them up as doctors, and paid them to look into television cameras and tell people that the linkage revealed in the Surgeon General's Report was not real at all. The show went on for decades, with more Americans killed each year by cigarettes than all of the U.S. soldiers killed in all of World War II.

This time, the scientific consensus is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged "unequivocal."

But wait! The good guys transgressed the rules of decorum, as evidenced in their private e-mails that were stolen and put on the Internet. The referee is all over it: Penalty! Go to your corner! And in their 3,000-page report, the scientists made some mistakes! Another penalty!

And if more of the audience is left confused about whether the climate crisis is real? Well, the show must go on. After all, it's entertainment. There are tickets to be sold, eyeballs to glue to the screen.

Part of the script for this show was leaked to The New York Times as early as 1991. In an internal document, a consortium of the largest global-warming polluters spelled out their principal strategy: "Reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact." Ever since, they have been sowing doubt even more effectively than the tobacco companies before them.

To sell their false narrative, the Polluters and Ideologues have found it essential to undermine the public's respect for Science and Reason by attacking the integrity of the climate scientists. That is why the scientists are regularly accused of falsifying evidence and exaggerating its implications in a greedy effort to win more research grants, or secretly pursuing a hidden political agenda to expand the power of government. Such slanderous insults are deeply ironic: extremist ideologues — many financed or employed by carbon polluters — accusing scientists of being greedy extremist ideologues.

After World War II, a philosopher studying the impact of organized propaganda on the quality of democratic debate wrote, "The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false."

Is the climate crisis real? Yes, of course it is. Pause for a moment to consider these events of just the past 12 months:

• Heat. According to NASA, 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year measured since instruments were first used systematically in the 1880s. Nineteen countries set all-time high temperature records. One city in Pakistan, Mohenjo-Daro, reached 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest temperature ever measured in an Asian city. Nine of the 10 hottest years in history have occurred in the last 13 years. The past decade was the hottest ever measured, even though half of that decade represented a "solar minimum" — the low ebb in the natural cycle of solar energy emanating from the sun.

• Floods. Megafloods displaced 20 million people in Pakistan, further destabilizing a nuclear-armed country; inundated an area of Australia larger than Germany and France combined; flooded 28 of the 32 districts that make up Colombia, where it has rained almost continuously for the past year; caused a "thousand-year" flood in my home city of Nashville; and led to all-time record flood levels in the Mississippi River Valley. Many places around the world are now experiencing larger and more frequent extreme downpours and snowstorms; last year's "Snowmaggedon" in the northeastern United States is part of the same pattern, notwithstanding the guffaws of deniers.

• Drought. Historic drought and fires in Russia killed an estimated 56,000 people and caused wheat and other food crops in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to be removed from the global market, contributing to a record spike in food prices. "Practically everything is burning," Russian president Dmitry Medvedev declared. "What's happening with the planet's climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us." The drought level in much of Texas has been raised from "extreme" to "exceptional," the highest category. This spring the majority of the counties in Texas were on fire, and Gov. Rick Perry requested a major disaster declaration for all but two of the state's 254 counties. Arizona is now fighting the largest fire in its history. Since 1970, the fire season throughout the American West has increased by 78 days. Extreme droughts in central China and northern France are currently drying up reservoirs and killing crops.

• Melting Ice. An enormous mass of ice, four times larger than the island of Manhattan, broke off from northern Greenland last year and slipped into the sea. The acceleration of ice loss in both Greenland and Antarctica has caused another upward revision of global sea-level rise and the numbers of refugees expected from low-lying coastal areas. The Arctic ice cap, which reached a record low volume last year, has lost as much as 40 percent of its area during summer in just 30 years.

These extreme events are happening in real time. It is not uncommon for the nightly newscast to resemble a nature hike through the Book of Revelation. Yet most of the news media completely ignore how such events are connected to the climate crisis, or dismiss the connection as controversial; after all, there are scientists on one side of the debate and deniers on the other. A Fox News executive, in an internal e-mail to the network's reporters and editors that later became public, questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered the journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."

But in the "real" world, the record droughts, fires, floods and mudslides continue to increase in severity and frequency. Leading climate scientists like Jim Hansen and Kevin Trenberth now say that events like these would almost certainly not be occurring without the influence of man-made global warming. And that's a shift in the way they frame these impacts. Scientists used to caution that we were increasing the probability of such extreme events by "loading the dice" — pumping more carbon into the atmosphere. Now the scientists go much further, warning that we are "painting more dots on the dice." We are not only more likely to roll 12s; we are now rolling 13s and 14s. In other words, the biggest storms are not only becoming more frequent, they are getting bigger, stronger and more destructive.

"The only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change," Munich Re, one of the two largest reinsurance companies in the world, recently stated. "The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge."

Many of the extreme and destructive events are the result of the rapid increase in the amount of heat energy from the sun that is trapped in the atmosphere, which is radically disrupting the planet's water cycle. More heat energy evaporates more water into the air, and the warmer air holds a lot more moisture. This has huge consequences that we now see all around the world.

When a storm unleashes a downpour of rain or snow, the precipitation does not originate just in the part of the sky directly above where it falls. Storms reach out — sometimes as far as 2,000 miles — to suck in water vapor from large areas of the sky, including the skies above oceans, where water vapor has increased by four percent in just the last 30 years. (Scientists often compare this phenomenon to what happens in a bathtub when you open the drain; the water rushing out comes from the whole tub, not just from the part of the tub directly above the drain. And when the tub is filled with more water, more goes down the drain. In the same way, when the warmer sky is filled with a lot more water vapor, there are bigger downpours when a storm cell opens the "drain.")

In many areas, these bigger downpours also mean longer periods between storms — at the same time that the extra heat in the air is also drying out the soil. That is part of the reason so many areas have been experiencing both record floods and deeper, longer-lasting droughts.

Moreover, the scientists have been warning us for quite some time — in increasingly urgent tones — that things will get much, much worse if we continue the reckless dumping of more and more heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere. Drought is projected to spread across significant, highly populated areas of the globe throughout this century. Look at what the scientists say is in store for the Mediterranean nations. Should we care about the loss of Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, Tunisia? Look at what they say is in store for Mexico. Should we notice? Should we care?

Maybe it's just easier, psychologically, to swallow the lie that these scientists who devote their lives to their work are actually greedy deceivers and left-wing extremists — and that we should instead put our faith in the pseudoscientists financed by large carbon polluters whose business plans depend on their continued use of the atmospheric commons as a place to dump their gaseous, heat-trapping waste without limit or constraint, free of charge.

The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now!

We do have another choice. Renewable energy sources are coming into their own. Both solar and wind will soon produce power at costs that are competitive with fossil fuels; indications are that twice as many solar installations were erected worldwide last year as compared to 2009. The reductions in cost and the improvements in efficiency of photovoltaic cells over the past decade appear to be following an exponential curve that resembles a less dramatic but still startling version of what happened with computer chips over the past 50 years.

Enhanced geothermal energy is potentially a nearly limitless source of competitive electricity. Increased energy efficiency is already saving businesses money and reducing emissions significantly. New generations of biomass energy — ones that do not rely on food crops, unlike the mistaken strategy of making ethanol from corn — are extremely promising. Sustainable forestry and agriculture both make economic as well as environmental sense. And all of these options would spread even more rapidly if we stopped subsidizing Big Oil and Coal and put a price on carbon that reflected the true cost of fossil energy — either through the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach, or through a revenue-neutral tax swap.

All over the world, the grassroots movement in favor of changing public policies to confront the climate crisis and build a more prosperous, sustainable future is growing rapidly. But most governments remain paralyzed, unable to take action — even after years of volatile gasoline prices, repeated wars in the Persian Gulf, one energy-related disaster after another, and a seemingly endless stream of unprecedented and lethal weather disasters.

Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer selling tickets to a phony wrestling match?

The "wrestling ring" in this metaphor is the conversation of democracy. It used to be called the "public square." In ancient Athens, it was the Agora. In the Roman Republic, it was the Forum. In the Egypt of the recent Arab Spring, "Tahrir Square" was both real and metaphorical — encompassing Facebook, Twitter, Al-Jazeera and texting.

In the America of the late-18th century, the conversation that led to our own "Spring" took place in printed words: pamphlets, newsprint, books, the "Republic of Letters." It represented the fullest flower of the Enlightenment, during which the oligarchic power of the monarchies, the feudal lords and the Medieval Church was overthrown and replaced with a new sovereign: the Rule of Reason.

The public square that gave birth to the new consciousness of the Enlightenment emerged in the dozen generations following he invention of the printing press — "the Gutenberg Galaxy," the scholar Marshall McLuhan called it — a space in which the conversation of democracy was almost equally accessible to every literate person. Individuals could both find the knowledge that had previously been restricted to elites and contribute their own ideas.

Ideas that found resonance with others rose in prominence much the way Google searches do today, finding an ever larger audience and becoming a source of political power for individuals with neither wealth nor force of arms. Thomas Paine, to take one example, emigrated from England to Philadelphia with no wealth, no family connections and no power other than that which came from his ability to think and write clearly — yet his Common Sense became the Harry Potter of Revolutionary America. The "public interest" mattered, was actively discussed and pursued.

But the "public square" that gave birth to America has been transformed beyond all recognition. The conversation that matters most to the shaping of the "public mind" now takes place on television. Newspapers and magazines are in decline. The Internet, still in its early days, will one day support business models that make true journalism profitable — but up until now, the only successful news websites aggregate content from struggling print publications. Web versions of the newspapers themselves are, with few exceptions, not yet making money. They bring to mind the classic image of Wile E. Coyote running furiously in midair just beyond the edge of the cliff, before plummeting to the desert floor far beneath him.

The average American, meanwhile, is watching television an astonishing five hours a day. In the average household, at least one television set is turned on more than eight hours a day. Moreover, approximately 75 percent of those using the Internet frequently watch television at the same time that they are online.

Unlike access to the "public square" of early America, access to television requires large amounts of money. Thomas Paine could walk out of his front door in Philadelphia and find a dozen competing, low-cost print shops within blocks of his home. Today, if he traveled to the nearest TV station, or to the headquarters of nearby Comcast — the dominant television provider in America — and tried to deliver his new ideas to the American people, he would be laughed off the premises. The public square that used to be a commons has been refeudalized, and the gatekeepers charge large rents for the privilege of communicating to the American people over the only medium that really affects their thinking. "Citizens" are now referred to more commonly as "consumers" or "the audience."

That is why up to 80 percent of the campaign budgets for candidates in both major political parties is devoted to the purchase of 30-second TV ads. Since the rates charged for these commercials increase each year, the candidates are forced to raise more and more money in each two-year campaign cycle.

Of course, the only reliable sources from which such large sums can be raised continuously are business lobbies. Organized labor, a shadow of its former self, struggles to compete, and individuals are limited by law to making small contributions. During the 2008 campaign, there was a bubble of hope that Internet-based fundraising might even the scales, but in the end, Democrats as well as Republicans relied far more on traditional sources of large contributions. Moreover, the recent deregulation of unlimited — and secret — donations by wealthy corporations has made the imbalance even worse.

In the new ecology of political discourse, special-interest contributors of the large sums of money now required for the privilege of addressing voters on a wholesale basis are not squeamish about asking for the quo they expect in return for their quid. Politicians who don't acquiesce don't get the money they need to be elected and re-elected. And the impact is doubled when special interests make clear — usually bluntly — that the money they are withholding will go instead to opponents who are more than happy to pledge the desired quo. Politicians have been racing to the bottom for some time, and are presently tunneling to new depths. It is now commonplace for congressmen and senators first elected decades ago — as I was — to comment in private that the whole process has become unbelievably crass, degrading and horribly destructive to the core values of American democracy.

Largely as a result, the concerns of the wealthiest individuals and corporations routinely trump the concerns of average Americans and small businesses. There are a ridiculously large number of examples: eliminating the inheritance tax paid by the wealthiest one percent of families is considered a much higher priority than addressing the suffering of the millions of long-term unemployed; Wall Street's interest in legalizing gambling in trillions of dollars of "derivatives" was considered way more important than protecting the integrity of the financial system and the interests of middle-income home buyers. It's a long list.

Almost every group organized to promote and protect the "public interest" has been backpedaling and on the defensive. By sharp contrast, when a coalition of powerful special interests sets out to manipulate U.S. policy, their impact can be startling — and the damage to the true national interest can be devastating.

In 2002, for example, the feverish desire to invade Iraq required convincing the American people that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for attacking the United States on September 11th, 2001, and that he was preparing to attack us again, perhaps with nuclear weapons. When the evidence — the "facts" — stood in the way of that effort to shape the public mind, they were ridiculed, maligned and ignored. Behind the scenes, the intelligence was manipulated and the public was intentionally deceived. Allies were pressured to adopt the same approach with their publics. A recent inquiry in the U.K. confirmed this yet again. "We knew at the time that the purpose of the dossier was precisely to make a case for war, rather than setting out the available intelligence," Maj. Gen. Michael Laurie testified. "To make the best out of sparse and inconclusive intelligence, the wording was developed with care." Why? As British intelligence put it, the overthrow of Saddam was "a prize because it could give new security to oil supplies."

That goal — the real goal — could have been debated on its own terms. But as Bush administration officials have acknowledged, a truly candid presentation would not have resulted in sufficient public support for the launching of a new war. They knew that because they had studied it and polled it. So they manipulated the debate, downplayed the real motive for the invasion, and made a different case to the public — one based on falsehoods.

And the "referee" — the news media — looked the other way. Some, like Fox News, were hyperactive cheerleaders. Others were intimidated into going along by the vitriol heaped on any who asked inconvenient questions. (They know it; many now acknowledge it, sheepishly and apologetically.)

Senators themselves fell, with a few honorable exceptions, into the same two camps. A few weeks before the United States invaded Iraq, the late Robert Byrd — God rest his soul — thundered on the Senate floor about the pitiful quality of the debate over the choice between war and peace: "Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing."

The chamber was silent, in part, because many senators were somewhere else — attending cocktail parties and receptions, largely with special-interest donors, raising money to buy TV ads for their next campaigns. Nowadays, in fact, the scheduling of many special-interest fundraisers mirrors the schedule of votes pending in the House and Senate.

By the time we invaded Iraq, polls showed, nearly three-quarters of the American people were convinced that the person responsible for the planes flying into the World Trade Center Towers was indeed Saddam Hussein. The rest is history — though, as Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Because of that distortion of the truth in the past, we are still in Iraq; and because the bulk of our troops and intelligence assets were abruptly diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq, we are also still in Afghanistan.

In the same way, because the banks had their way with Congress when it came to gambling on unregulated derivatives and recklessly endangering credit markets with subprime mortgages, we still have almost double-digit unemployment, historic deficits, Greece and possibly other European countries teetering on the edge of default, and the threat of a double-dip recession. Even the potential default of the United States of America is now being treated by many politicians and too many in the media as yet another phony wrestling match, a political game. Are the potential economic consequences of a U.S. default "real"? Of course they are! Have we gone completely nuts?

We haven't gone nuts — but the "conversation of democracy" has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square — and the quality of our democratic discourse — to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence — when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion — the public interest is severely damaged.

That is exactly what is happening with U.S. decisions regarding the climate crisis. The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics.

The emergence of the climate crisis seems sudden only because of a relatively recent discontinuity in the relationship between human civilization and the planet's ecological system. In the past century, we have quadrupled global population while relying on the burning of carbon-based fuels — coal, oil and gas — for 85 percent of the world's energy. We are also cutting and burning forests that would otherwise help remove some of the added CO2 from the atmosphere, and have converted agriculture to an industrial model that also runs on carbon-based fuels and strip-mines carbon-rich soils.

The cumulative result is a radically new reality — and since human nature makes us vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable, it naturally seems difficult to accept. Moreover, since this new reality is painful to contemplate, and requires big changes in policy and behavior that are at the outer limit of our ability, it is all too easy to fall into the psychological state of denial. As with financial issues like subprime mortgages and credit default swaps, the climate crisis can seem too complex to worry about, especially when the shills for the polluters constantly claim it's all a hoax anyway. And since the early impacts of climatic disruption are distributed globally, they masquerade as an abstraction that is safe to ignore.

These vulnerabilities, rooted in our human nature, are being manipulated by the tag-team of Polluters and Ideologues who are trying to deceive us. And the referee — the news media — is once again distracted. As with the invasion of Iraq, some are hyperactive cheerleaders for the deception, while others are intimidated into complicity, timidity and silence by the astonishing vitriol heaped upon those who dare to present the best evidence in a professional manner. Just as TV networks who beat the drums of war prior to the Iraq invasion were rewarded with higher ratings, networks now seem reluctant to present the truth about the link between carbon pollution and global warming out of fear that conservative viewers will change the channel — and fear that they will receive a torrent of flame e-mails from deniers.

Many politicians, unfortunately, also fall into the same two categories: those who cheerlead for the deniers and those who cower before them. The latter group now includes several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination who have felt it necessary to abandon their previous support for action on the climate crisis; at least one has been apologizing profusely to the deniers and begging for their forgiveness.

"Intimidation" and "timidity" are connected by more than a shared word root. The first is designed to produce the second. As Yeats wrote almost a century ago, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

Barack Obama's approach to the climate crisis represents a special case that requires careful analysis. His election was accompanied by intense hope that many things in need of change would change. Some things have, but others have not. Climate policy, unfortunately, is in the second category. Why?

First of all, anyone who honestly examines the incredible challenges confronting President Obama when he took office has to feel enormous empathy for him: the Great Recession, with the high unemployment and the enormous public and private indebtedness it produced; two seemingly interminable wars; an intractable political opposition whose true leaders — entertainers masquerading as pundits — openly declared that their objective was to ensure that the new president failed; a badly broken Senate that is almost completely paralyzed by the threat of filibuster and is controlled lock, stock and barrel by the oil and coal industries; a contingent of nominal supporters in Congress who are indentured servants of the same special interests that control most of the Republican Party; and a ferocious, well-financed and dishonest campaign poised to vilify anyone who dares offer leadership for the reduction of global-warming pollution.

In spite of these obstacles, President Obama included significant climate-friendly initiatives in the economic stimulus package he presented to Congress during his first month in office. With the skillful leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and committee chairmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, he helped secure passage of a cap-and-trade measure in the House a few months later. He implemented historic improvements in fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, and instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward on the regulation of global-warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. He appointed many excellent men and women to key positions, and they, in turn, have made hundreds of changes in environmental and energy policy that have helped move the country forward slightly on the climate issue. During his first six months, he clearly articulated the link between environmental security, economic security and national security — making the case that a national commitment to renewable energy could simultaneously reduce unemployment, dependence on foreign oil and vulnerability to the disruption of oil markets dominated by the Persian Gulf reserves. And more recently, as the issue of long-term debt has forced discussion of new revenue, he proposed the elimination of unnecessary and expensive subsidies for oil and gas.

But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that "drill, baby, drill" is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

The failure to pass legislation to limit global-warming pollution ensured that the much-anticipated Copenhagen summit on a global treaty in 2009 would also end in failure. The president showed courage in attending the summit and securing a rhetorical agreement to prevent a complete collapse of the international process, but that's all it was — a rhetorical agreement. During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis — and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from "How do we complete this historic breakthrough?" to "How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?"

Some concluded from the failure in Copenhagen that it was time to give up on the entire U.N.-sponsored process for seeking an international agreement to reduce both global-warming pollution and deforestation. Ultimately, however, the only way to address the climate crisis will be with a global agreement that in one way or another puts a price on carbon. And whatever approach is eventually chosen, the U.S. simply must provide leadership by changing our own policy.

Yet without presidential leadership that focuses intensely on making the public aware of the reality we face, nothing will change. The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is "the power to persuade." Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.

Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States.

Many political advisers assume that a president has to deal with the world of politics as he finds it, and that it is unwise to risk political capital on an effort to actually lead the country toward a new understanding of the real threats and real opportunities we face. Concentrate on the politics of re-election, they say. Don't take chances.

All that might be completely understandable and make perfect sense in a world where the climate crisis wasn't "real." Those of us who support and admire President Obama understand how difficult the politics of this issue are in the context of the massive opposition to doing anything at all — or even to recognizing that there is a crisis. And assuming that the Republicans come to their senses and avoid nominating a clown, his re-election is likely to involve a hard-fought battle with high stakes for the country. All of his supporters understand that it would be self-defeating to weaken Obama and heighten the risk of another step backward. Even writing an article like this one carries risks; opponents of the president will excerpt the criticism and strip it of context.

But in this case, the President has reality on his side. The scientific consensus is far stronger today than at any time in the past. Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act.

Those who profit from the unconstrained pollution that is the primary cause of climate change are determined to block our perception of this reality. They have help from many sides: from the private sector, which is now free to make unlimited and secret campaign contributions; from politicians who have conflated their tenures in office with the pursuit of the people's best interests; and — tragically — from the press itself, which treats deception and falsehood on the same plane as scientific fact, and calls it objective reporting of alternative opinions.

All things are not equally true. It is time to face reality. We ignored reality in the marketplace and nearly destroyed the world economic system. We are likewise ignoring reality in the environment, and the consequences could be several orders of magnitude worse. Determining what is real can be a challenge in our culture, but in order to make wise choices in the presence of such grave risks, we must use common sense and the rule of reason in coming to an agreement on what is true.

So how can we make it happen? How can we as individuals make a difference? In five basic ways:

First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it's some sort of hoax, don't let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution. Some of the corporate changes are more symbolic than real — "green-washing," as it's called — but a surprising amount of real progress is taking place. Walmart, to pick one example, is moving aggressively to cut its carbon footprint by 20 million metric tons, in part by pressuring its suppliers to cut down on wasteful packaging and use lower-carbon transportation alternatives. Reward those companies that are providing leadership.

Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue. The Alliance for Climate Protection (, which I chair, has grassroots action plans for the summer and fall that spell out lots of ways to fight effectively for the policy changes we need. We can also enable you to host a slide show in your community on solutions to the climate crisis — presented by one of the 4,000 volunteers we have trained. Invite your friends and neighbors to come and then enlist them to join the cause.

Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you're fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they're frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don't let up! It's true that some media outlets are getting instructions from their owners on this issue, and that others are influenced by big advertisers, but many of them are surprisingly responsive to a genuine outpouring of opinion from their viewers and readers. It is way past time for the ref to do his job.

Finally, and above all, don't give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don't have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. President Franklin Roosevelt once told civil rights leaders who were pressing him for change that he agreed with them about the need for greater equality for black Americans. Then, as the story goes, he added with a wry smile, "Now go out and make me do it."

To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: "I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you."

Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on "don't ask, don't tell?" It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes. When enough people care passionately enough to drive that message home on the climate crisis, politicians will look at their hole cards, and enough of them will change their game to make all the difference we need.

This is not naive; trust me on this. It may take more individual voters to beat the Polluters and Ideologues now than it once did — when special-interest money was less dominant. But when enough people speak this way to candidates, and convince them that they are dead serious about it, change will happen — both in Congress and in the White House. As the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once observed, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."

What is now at risk in the climate debate is nothing less than our ability to communicate with one another according to a protocol that binds all participants to seek reason and evaluate facts honestly. The ability to perceive reality is a prerequisite for self-governance. Wishful thinking and denial lead to dead ends. When it works, the democratic process helps clear the way toward reality, by exposing false argumentation to the best available evidence. That is why the Constitution affords such unique protection to freedom of the press and of speech.

The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.

Al Gore
Alliance for Climate Protectoin

Special Thanks from CCRES to,

Maggie L. Fox
President and CEO
Alliance for Climate Protection

Željko Serdar
President and CEO
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources

Wednesday, June 22, 2011




June 22, 2011

DOE Offers $359 Million Loan Guarantee for Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant

DOE announced on June 15 the offer of a conditional commitment for a $359.1 million loan guarantee to Mesquite Solar 1, LLC, to support the development of a photovoltaic (PV) solar generating project in Arizona. The optimized 150-megawatt (MW) alternating current project is sponsored by Sempra Generation and is located about 45 miles west of Phoenix. The company estimates the project will create up to 300 construction jobs and 7-10 full time operating jobs.

The project will be one of the first U.S. large-scale utility PV power plants to use U.S.-manufactured innovative transformerless and liquid-cooled inverter technology, which allows for significant improvements in energy output. The project is anticipated to generate nearly 350,000 megawatt hours of electricity in the first full year of production, or enough to power over 31,000 homes. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company.More info at:

Innovative Solar Manufacturing Gets DOE Support

To boost solar innovative solar energy manufacturing, DOE has announced two offers of conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling $425 million.

On June 16, DOE announced the offer of a $275 million loan guarantee to Calisolar, Inc. to commercialize its innovative solar silicon manufacturing process. Calisolar's process should produce silicon for use in solar cells at less than half the cost of traditional polysilicon purification processes. At full production, the manufacturing plant is expected to produce 16,000 metric tons of solar silicon annually. The project will be built in three phases and is expected to be located in a former General Motors stamping plant in Ontario, Ohio. Calisolar estimates that the facility will generate, at its peak, nearly 1,100 permanent jobs and up to 1,000 construction jobs.

The project will manufacture solar silicon from lower-cost metallurgical grade silicon feedstock that is upgraded using Calisolar's proprietary silicon purification process, which uses significantly less energy to produce solar silicon that performs as well as polysilicon products made from more expensive and energy-intensive traditional processes. Calisolar is helping achieve the goals of DOE's SunShot Initiative by lowering the cost of their solar cells through using less pure silicon, the raw material for solar cells. This work was supported by DOE through funding for the University of California, Berkeley and with $3 million from DOE's PV Technology Incubator, which leveraged $6.6 million in private industry cost share and was run through DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

On June 17, DOE announced another offer of a conditional commitment, this time for a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, Inc. The company will develop a multicrystalline wafer-manufacturing project capable of producing approximately 700 to 1,000 megawatts of silicon-based wafers annually using a revolutionary manufacturing process called "direct wafer." The process could reduce manufacturing costs of the wafers by approximately 50%. Phase 1 of the project will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is expected to generate 70 permanent jobs and 50 construction jobs. The company is evaluating site locations for another planned phase, which it anticipates will create hundreds of additional jobs.

The original development of the company's direct wafering technology was supported with a $4 million grant from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program and a $3 million grant from DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program. The new process condenses four manufacturing steps into a single, low-cost step and greatly reduces silicon waste by forming individual wafers directly from a pool of molten silicon. A thin sheet of silicon freezes inside the direct wafer furnace and is then removed and laser-trimmed to size. At full production, the entire wafer-formation process is completed in just a fraction of the time required by conventional batch processing, which can take up to three days. The company's one-step system requires 90% less energy and results in an industry-standard product that can be used by any standard multicrystalline cell manufacturer.More info at:

DOE to Help Train Next Generation of Industrial Energy Efficiency Experts

DOE announced on June 16 the availability of more than $30 million to train engineering students in manufacturing efficiency, helping them become the next industrial energy efficiency experts. Through the industrial assessment center program, university teams across the country will gain practical training that will enable them to conduct energy assessments in a broad range of manufacturing facilities. These participants will help local companies and factories reduce energy waste, save money, and become more economically competitive.

Under this funding opportunity, each industrial assessment center will be expected to train at least 10 to 15 students per year, conduct approximately 20 energy assessments annually, and perform extensive follow-on reporting, tracking, implementation, and management-improvement activities. DOE will select 20 to 30 universities as industrial assessment centers that will be eligible to receive $200,000 to $300,000 per year for up to five years for the training and energy assessments. Applications are due by August 2.More info at:

Virginia Tech Wins EcoCAR Competition

On June 16, a team of students from Virginia Tech learned they were the overall winners of "EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge" after designing and building an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 (ethanol). Virginia Tech competed against 15 other universities in the three-year competition sponsored by DOE and General Motors. The competition helps train students to become the next generation of workers the United States needs to lead the global auto industry.

The EcoCAR competition challenged participants to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, and performance. Throughout the competition, the Virginia Tech team hit incremental goals that helped the vehicle achieve the equivalent of nearly 82 miles per gallon, a 70% improvement in fuel efficiency over the stock vehicle. The Ohio State University was second, and the University of Waterloo took third place.
More info at:

DOE Offers Loan Guarantee to New Hampshire's Largest Wind Farm

DOE announced on June 21 the offer of a conditional commitment to Granite Reliable Power, LLC, to provide up to $135.76 million in loan guarantees for a new wind generation project. The 99-megawatt (MW) project will be located approximately 110 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire. According to project sponsors, the project will create nearly 200 construction jobs.

The project will consist of 33 Vestas 3-MW wind turbines, and will generate enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes, avoiding the emission of more than 124,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The majority of the power from the project will be sold to Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power. DOE's Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $33 billion to support 36 clean energy projects across the United States.More info at:

Primus Power's Flow Battery Powered by $11 Million in Private Investment

In February, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced that six of its projects, which initially received a total of $23.6 million in agency seed funding, had collectively generated more than $100 million in outside private capital investment. ARPA-E recently received the news that another of its performers, Primus Power, has generated $11 million in follow-on funding for its grid-scale storage technology—five times more than ARPA-E's $2 million investment last year. As Secretary Chu has said about follow-on funding for ARPA-E projects, "This is precisely the innovation leverage that is needed to win the future."

Primus Power has developed a low-cost, distributed storage flow battery made of tanks filled with high energy density electrolytes that are pumped throughout the battery system. This flow battery can store renewable energy such as wind and solar power and then release that energy into the grid during peak load times. Since renewable energy is often variable, the ability to store this electricity to balance grid power is becoming significantly more important as renewables become more prevalent in the United States.

Primus Power is building a farm of flow batteries that promise to offer 25 megawatts of power for up to three hours for the Modesto Irrigation District (Modesto, California's utility provider). This battery farm will serve as a full-scale demonstration system, and it will store the region's wind-generated energy and provide an alternative to fossil-fuel-fired generation.More info at:

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon's Team China Transforms Shipping Containers into Solar-Powered House

Design aesthetics, engineering, marketing appeal—these are just a few of the elements on which U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon 2011 houses will be evaluated and scored. But, new this year to the competition is the affordability contest. Teams are encouraged to think creatively and strategically not only about the overall structure and functioning of the house but also on how accessible they can make their design to everyone.

Team China, which is composed of students and faculty from Tongji University, has risen to the affordability challenge with an innovative strategy—take discarded shipping containers from the docks and refurbish them as the primary structure of the home. "We transformed standard shipping containers in order to compensate for the cost of photovoltaic technology," explained Hua Guodong, primary student architect. This allows the team to incorporate clean energy technologies, such as solar panels, into its design while keeping construction costs low.More info at: