Geoff Bennett - Editor

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 open with a look at how sustainable reporting has become mainstream, with more and more large corporates like Walmart and British Telecom requiring their suppliers to report on carbon emissions. Not only is emissions reporting becoming mainstream, so is energy management, as these companies realise that energy is the flip side of carbon – reduce energy use and carbon emissions decline.

But not every company gets the same public recognition for sustainability despite their efforts or lack of. The next article examines how sixty-six of one hundred leading global brands enjoy a reputation that outshines their performance, whilst others languish despite some very laudable efforts. Has to be some green washing going on here… and not every Apple is sweet.

Our next set of articles examines the rewards available from embracing green buildings. Colliers International Office Tenant Survey 2010 found that excellent indoor air quality and thermal comfort was second only to location to public transport in the top three office attributes for staff attraction and retention. And with most office workers spending 90% of their waking hours indoors it pays to get these conditions right. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that sickness and absenteeism cost organisations an estimated AU$5,000 per employee per year. As green buildings have a better Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) than typical commercial offices, staff sickness is reduced and productivity enhanced with gains of between 2% and 10% per worker. With staff costs often comprising 80% of an organisation’s total expenses, these gains are not to be sniffed at.

The USGBC has also just announced that it is going to be collaborating with Scientific Conservation Inc. to allow LEED users to measure the performance of their building when in use on an ongoing basis. This is an important development that finally closes the loop in as much that as whilst LEED requires a prediction of energy use as part of its application, this had never before been verified when in use. In practice predicted energy vs. actual energy consumption have been found to be markedly different, in some case by a factor of six. This in part prompted the recent, albeit unsuccessful class action law suit against the USGBC. It is worth noting that this ability to measure the performance on an ongoing basis is also available in the e-Bench™ continuous commissioning monitoring module, which amused us as SCI stated that their system was the “first software-as-a-service platform to compare predicted energy and system efficiencies against real-time”. Sorry guys, we beat you to this claim by six-years.

The next article discusses energy dashboards and why managing the data that goes into it is critical. We agree, which is why the e-Bench™ dashboard called e-Bench™ Express uses data from the e-Bench™ database itself. It is also worth noting that the e-Bench™ Express can be used to support continuous commissioning monitoring or comparing actual against predicted performance.

This week we are looking at various developments in the transport sector. These include new US vehicle economy stickers which display green house gas emissions, savings data, smog rating and if an electric car, its charge time. Talking of charge times, new generation nanoscale cathode materials developed by Australian scientists is likely to revolutionise electric vehicles by reducing the charge time to about the same time it presently takes to fill a conventional gasoline fuelled vehicle.

We also take a peak at developments in railroad locomotives where the focus has been on developing cost effective battery technology and hybrid electric drive systems. That and in some cases supplementing energy sources using renewables such as the two-miles of solar panels used on the Paris-Amsterdam rail line. No mention of how Cousin Melkoomb used to drive his big V8 ute down the train track back from the pub to avoid the police road patrols.

Air travel is also muscling in on the act with the announcement that a solar powered plane had successfully completed its first international flight. Whilst not exactly supersonic, with an average speed of 50 km/hr, it is a big step on the path to making travel by air sustainable. And not to be left out, we look at ocean transportation where kite power is being used to assist with propulsion and reduce fuel costs.

Our last article looks at how the Japanese Govt is urging it’s employees to wear Hawaiian shirts, T-shirts and sandals to work in order to save electricity prompted by the electricity crisis. Bit of a departure from a culture of suits, but with summer thermostats limited to 82F (28C), they are going to have to keep their cool in other ways than simply by being fashionable.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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