Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.
This week we have just had another climate conference conclude in Lima with a watered down agreement coming out of it. Apparently governments are afraid to make firm commitments despite full knowledge of dire consequences of indecision.
Climate change is based on scientific observation but it is not a matter of science but a social and economic issue. Actions that we take or not take will determine what we will endure as life on earth in five or so decades. If we continue to pour high levels of carbon into the atmosphere we will have to confront more challenging and expensive actions to survive climate change.
It seems investors and their target markets are aware of what needs to be done. It is also the investors and the communities they serve who will bear the brunt of climate impacts. Isn’t it logical then that they should be part of the UN climate deal! They could sign up to some commitments and report their progress and hopefully mitigate the “fear” that governments have about taking action. Effective communication can get people to engage and take ownership of any issue. When it comes to communicating about the issues we are all concerned with here – energy management, climate change, and what we can do about it, some interesting articles have been written recently.
Universities have realised that, as they are educating the future leaders of society, leading by example using renewable energies will expose these students to sustainable processes, systems and behaviours. They recognise a good idea (environmentally and economically) when they see it, and are also being influenced by their students to do more along these lines. Across the USA a commitment has been made by over 700 tertiary institutions to achieve carbon neutrality within a defined timeframe.
An example of walking the talk is happening at the Australian National University and their decision to divest away from fossil fuel based companies. Although a relatively small amount, the outcries by these companies and the Australian Federal Government has been astounding - it looks like the establishment doesn’t like this new approach.
we guess they are worried it may catch on.
Engaging Millennials can benefit from analysing their habits and taking advantage of their apparent traits such as the need to belong to a movement or network (social media), the need to be recognized (social media “likes”) as a participant and the need for easy implementation of solutions (handling all transactions by cell phone). Extending from this gamification of concepts is also a possible tool.
Natural competitiveness of human beings makes them attach more easily to actions with competitive acknowledgement. Employees like to compete and lead and investors like being the early bird and maximizing yield.
So, how to sell the culture of sustainability? A different approach is required depending on the target group. For managers, communicate how sustainability supports the business – giving examples of risks to their business if sustainability is not supported, and how best to manage these. For the workers, reward them as individuals for taking leadership in this area. For suppliers, show them how it will connect with their own success. It is not a “one fix suits all” situation. The individuals you are communicating the idea to need to know how they themselves will benefit.
Our final set of articles gets us back to what we know and do best – energy management. Over the many years, we have come across the same number of common misconceptions that this article seeks to debunk. For example confusing energy conservation (using less energy) with energy efficiency (using energy as efficiently as possible), or that an energy management regime is a cost, rather than an investment.
With buildings contributing 32% of global energy consumption, much higher than transportation or any other category, we examine the increasingly valuable role of the sensor in energy management. Building automation and control systems rely heavily on the effectiveness of sensors to provide accurate input data. Poor or inaccurate sensor data can result in systems operating at less than optimal conditions, with resulting energy and financial losses. It is therefore critical that oversight is maintained of the calibration of sensors and that systems are continuously being re-commissioned.
The installation of additional sensors in buildings is becoming increasingly common as better control over systems and their performance is sought. Whilst the installation of the traditional wired sensors was often an expensive undertaking, new sensors tend to be wireless, utilise energy harvesting for their supply of electricity and therefore maintenance free. As part of what is now being called the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), it is therefore now possible to retrofit a comprehensive range of sensors into a building that until only a few years ago would have been virtually unimaginable.
Of course all of these possibilities also come with their own vulnerabilities. Hewlett Packard’s Fortify Unit tested ten popular devices likely to be included on the IoT and found 70% of them contained security exposures. Amongst the ten types of devices, HP's Fortify unit found 250 vulnerabilities. In addition to thermostats, TVs, and lawn sprinkler controllers, the devices included home webcams, door locks, garage door openers, scales, home alarms, hubs for multiple devices, and remote power outlets. These devices typically communicate through the use of unencrypted data, sometimes via a WiFi network that can be easily snooped. With the IoT expected to include 26 billion devices by 2020, there are sure to be some unexpected bumps along the way.
We wrap with a look at what some National MP’s will be getting for Christmas. Lumps of coal of course. Youth climate change organisation ‘Generation Zero’ will visit 14 National MP’s around the country. It’s hoping 450 people will help deliver lumps of coal along with Christmas cards. The purpose of the coal drop, to highlight ‘National's been naughty of climate change’ of course. Hopefully the long holiday break for these MP’s will allow time for reflection.
Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you in 2015. We hope you able to take some time out over the fast approaching holiday period to recharge your batteries for a fresh start in 2015.
If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.