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.

Firstly, we would like to welcome New Plymouth District Council as our latest subscriber to e-Bench™

Last issue we discussed the release of the climate data files from the University of East Anglia, so we thought this week we would examine the science behind global warming. The article sets out in plain English, how anthropogenic CO2e really is the culprit behind global warming. I am sure though that a climate sceptic might still find flaws somewhere …

Although, even that same climate sceptic might have to concede that the Summer Arctic Ice melt is increasing (2011 is tracking as the second largest on record). Whilst seals and the Polar Bear surely hates this, big business loves it. Not only can big business now re-route their ships through the Arctic Sea, but they can seriously start considering exploring for Oil and other sought after minerals in the region. Exploring is one thing however, extraction is quite another. Given the remoteness of the region coupled with wild weather in what is a fragile ecosystem, it is something that needs careful planning and consideration as our next two articles examine.

And if you need further evidence of global warming and increasing levels of CO2e, then this next article regarding the increasing acidification of the oceans should provide you with an insightful view about how the days of the shellfish might truly be numbered. Pay to think of this next time you shuck a Bluff Oyster.

Staying with the food theme, we carry the news that the World Bank has issued a fresh warning of global food reserves being in the danger zone with price rises up by a third. They cite price increases of 55% for wheat, 62% for sugar and 84% for corn, the latter due to US demand for biofuels.

Which is why our next two articles examine the US corn industry and the subsidies that are available for using corn for biofuel production. The industry has adapted to the point that genetically modified corn is now being grown that is actually inedible. The dangers posed by cross contamination into corn being grown for human consumption is of a real concern to many farmers, not to mention the negative impact it could pose for the global food supply. So if you find a hard lump in your breaky cereals and it looks like coal, then maybe it could be the latest version of modified corn.

Our next set of articles focuses on energy management opportunities. First up we look at nine business reasons why an organisation should embrace sustainability. These include saving money through energy efficiency programmes, raising employee morale, improving relations with key stakeholders and increasing sales revenue. It is certainly an easier and more convincing list than attempting to come up with nine reasons for not embracing sustainability…

And there is good money to be made in sustainability. For example, in the Czech Republic, like elsewhere, there is high demand for ‘green’ office accommodation. This really shouldn’t be a surprise as according to the US Green Building Council, green buildings on average have 24-50% lower energy consumption, 40% lower water consumption and generate 70% lower solid waste, which when converted into operational savings, is a saving of around 10%. The good news doesn’t stop there as the capital value of a green certified building is about 7.5% higher than a non-green certified building, representing an overall increased rate of return by an average of 6.6%. Green certified buildings also have a 3.5% higher occupancy rate and 3% higher rental returns than their non-certified equivalent. If you are into property, you would have to be daft not to want to invest in anything other than a green certified building?

Of course, being green is one thing, ensuring it operates optimally is another. To achieve this requires good monitoring and diagnostic systems as this next article explains. Incidentally, this is how continuous commissioning works – which if you didn’t know is one of the features that is available in e-Bench™. According to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California, continuous commissioning on average provides a saving of 16% and a payback of 1.1 years. We would be happy to demonstrate these features, just let us know by email.

And yes, most of all this monitoring, tracking and reporting is all very high tech. Which is why there are some very good reasons for considering making the organisation’s Chief Information Officer the sustainability champion. Not only does he/she already have an organisation-wide perspective and reporting capability at senior management level, he/she might also understand most of the proposed actions and solutions.

We wrap up this week with another visit to the Top Gear dudes. Apparently Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t much care for electric cars. Following on from misrepresenting the Tesla back in 2009, they have now tried a repeat, this time with the Nissan Leaf. Without realising Nissan had a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery, they commenced their travel with the battery at only 40% charge. When of course, the battery ran flat, they concluded on camera that “electric cars are not the future”. Don’t know what you think about this, but I am not overly impressed. I keep waiting for them to track test the latest Massey Ferguson tractors, Quad bikes and Utes. You know proper, relevant stuff to NZ.

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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