Negawatt

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pages: 433 words: 127,171

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, demand response, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, full employment, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Internet of things, laissez-faire capitalism, Menlo Park, Negawatt, new economy, off grid, post-oil, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, the built environment, too big to fail, washing machines reduced drudgery, Whole Earth Catalog

An installation like this, at long last, brings the point home: if the experts and insiders on the tour were excited by how the watts that ran this Albertsons were being made, the store’s manager was excited by all the ways in which these watts were no longer needed. What he saw when he looked at his grocery store was not a power plant but a machine for making negawatts; it was that machine that all of the rest of us had trouble seeing precisely because it looked, and worked, exactly like a grocery store. The lighting was perhaps marginally more pleasant, but otherwise, what had been accomplished was praiseworthy less in relationship to how the power for this store was generated and more in terms of the various ways that the whole thing had been redesigned not to need it. Or, as Amory Lovins (who coined the term “negawatt” way back in 1990) said, “Customers don’t want kilowatt-hours; they want services such as hot showers, cold beer, lit rooms,” and this can “come more cheaply from using less electricity more efficiently.”

This way of thinking—of lowering consumption while minimizing the need for grid-provided electricity, does not simply conform to the spirit of the times. It helps to further it. The power of nothing is expanded, by undertakings like these, to include lighting from the sun, cooling from fan-made breezes rather than chemical air-conditioning, and wattage not used because it isn’t needed. These saved-watts or negawatts are the electric power a machine or a building or a lighting system or a factory doesn’t use. Though a negawatt is a theoretical, rather than a real, unit of non-power, it serves the purpose of allowing us to measure and quantify avoided consumption. Given this, the store manager’s point is well taken: Why not do the same with less? In this we can see the remnants of the Cardigan Path. It is there in part. We can use less. In fact, we do use less.

It means long hot showers, cold beers, and well-lit rooms. There will be no privation in the new world of less. (Not “less-is-more,” mind you, but “the same with less.”) At least, this is the goal of those committed to an accounting of negawatts and equally of the man who manages the most energy-efficient Albertsons in the United States. Even ten years ago, the answer to this desire for “the same with less” was that saving kilowatt-hours was expensive precisely because retrofitting inefficient buildings with more efficient technologies is the least cost-effective way to achieve the goal. Negawatts simply cost too much to be worth their while. This is the reason why there is only one Albertsons with a fuel cell and a remarkable cooling and lighting system and there are literally thousands of Albertsons that rely on grid-provided power to run wasteful coolers and poorly designed lighting and HVAC systems.


pages: 412 words: 113,782

Business Lessons From a Radical Industrialist by Ray C. Anderson

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, cleantech, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invisible hand, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, music of the spheres, Negawatt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, old-boy network, peak oil, renewable energy credits, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, supply-chain management, urban renewal, Y2K

Perhaps that is why in May of 2008, Duke announced it would purchase the entire output of one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic solar farms, planned for Davidson County, North Carolina. And as I write this, Duke has just applied for regulatory approval to install solar panels at homes, schools, stores, factories, and other locations in that state. What’s more, Jim has said for the record that he would rather invest in his customers’ efficiency projects than in new generating capacity. And he’s right on target. Why not build “nega-watts” in the form of high-efficiency appliances, air conditioners, and lighting, instead of buying new coal or nuclear megawatts? That is a new paradigm, though it’s based on a concept that Amory Lovins has pushed for decades. I guess some things just take a while. As I’ve said, it’s not just rising oil prices or advances in the laboratory that are driving these deals. Some very serious invention has also been going on in the financial community to make solar electricity more affordable.

“And because nobody wants to live near a landfill, you’ve got to put them far away, so there’s a lot of transportation costs involved, too. Plus, as landfills are filled, new sites have to be found and purchased. It gets expensive very, very fast. What if we could save the city money on every ton they didn’t have to truck off to a landfill, and capture a piece of that for ourselves?” At Interface, we call electricity saved through smart conservation by Amory Lovins’s term, nega-watts. What Gonen was talking about was “negatons.” But there was still the problem of getting enough people to recycle. “We couldn’t earn a decent profit unless we boosted the number of households that recycle way up,” said Gonen. His solution was deceptively simple: use a high-tech bin to measure how much recycling a family contributes and reward them by giving them RecycleBank Dollars that they can turn around and spend at local stores.

mineral water industry minority-owned services Mission Zero (Interface’s) modern culture, flawed mindset of mollusks moon, going to Moore, Betty “Mount Sustainability” Muir, John municipalities, recycling efforts of Murray, William Hutchinson Napa Valley, California National Association of Evangelicals National Park Service Native Energy nature as infrastructure learning from productivity of, must not be diminished recycling by, with zero waste services of needs, vs. wants nega-barrels nega-energy nega-watts Nelson, Eric Nelson, Gaylord Nestlé Waters Newcomen, Thomas Newton, Mark New York City, recycling in Next Ascent summit meeting nitrogen oxide noblemen, and evolution of ethics Northern Ireland Interface facility nuclear industry, subsidies to nylon inputs of recycled substitutes for Oakey, David ocean, as carbon sink office of the future carpet tiles in off-quality product oil discovery of drilling for global demand global production imports oil consumption, like drug addiction oil exporting countries, profits of oil industry costs of, passed on to society subsidies to sustainability programs of, so-called oil prices effect on driving price shock of 1972 rising OPEC orders, getting, like a heartbeat organized chaos Orr, David overshoot packaging reuse of as waste Pandel division paper, recycling of paradigms, new Parnell, Lindsey Patagonia Paulson, Henry payback period Paydos, Paul PepsiCo perfect storm of 2001 (Y2K, dot-com bubble, 9/11) perpetual motion machine, sustainability likened to Peterbilt pharmaceuticals, in drinking water Picard, John Pickens, T.


pages: 289 words: 112,697

The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris

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back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, off grid, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review

Most of us spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors, yet are more aware of outdoor air pollution than of poor indoor air quality. How do you address these issues? We will examine how the systems in your home can work with and against each other to alter your home environment. If I had to choose only one message to rise like cream to the top of my milk bottle full of advice, it would be that energy efficiency is an investment, not a hardship. The cheapest kilowatt is one you don’t have to buy, a concept called negawatts. Studies show that the cost of buying efficiency is about half the cost of buying energy. Purchasing a product that uses less energy than another similar product has significant, long-term impacts on your energy consumption and costs. The price you pay to buy a new refrigerator, light bulb, or furnace is a small percentage of the price you will pay to operate it over its lifetime. Many of us look to banks or the The NEW VILLAGE GREEN 43 stock market for retirement funds, but efficiency improvements offer cost-effective, tax-free returns that are greater than many traditional investments.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, computerized trading, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, liberal capitalism, mega-rich, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor, zero-sum game

Since the 1970s, Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute has been advocating doing more with less and has demonstrated ingenious and inspiring ways to boost energy efficiency. His 1998 book Factor Four argued that the US could simultaneously double its total energy efficiency and halve resource use.26 More recently, he has upped the ante with “Factor 10” — the goal of maintaining current productivity while using only ten percent of the resources.27 Lovins has advocated a “negawatt revolution,” arguing that utility customers don’t want kilowatt-hours of electricity; they want energy services — and those services can often be provided in far more efficient ways than is currently done. In 1994, Lovins and his colleagues initiated the “Hypercar” project, with the goal of designing a sleek, carbon fiber-bodied hybrid that would achieve a three- to five-fold improvement in fuel economy while delivering equal or better performance, safety, amenity, and affordability as compared with conventional cars.


pages: 313 words: 92,907

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are Thekeys to Sustainability by David Owen

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A Pattern Language, active transport: walking or cycling, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, delayed gratification, distributed generation, drive until you qualify, East Village, food miles, garden city movement, hydrogen economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, linear programming, McMansion, Murano, Venice glass, Negawatt, New Urbanism, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, placebo effect, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Thomas L Friedman, unemployed young men, urban planning, urban sprawl, walkable city, zero-sum game

But it does suggest that we can’t solve our energy and emissions problems by putting a few solar panels on everyone’s roof and proceeding as before. (The biggest source of energy at Natural Bridges, by comparison with the period before 1980, is not solar panels but forced conservation, in the form of the park’s two-thirds reduction of its pre-solar power demand—a form of virtual energy that Amory Lovins has usefully named the “negawatt.”) A further complicating factor regarding all forms of electric power is that demand for electricity in the United States is certain to change radically in coming years. There has been much talk, for example, of replacing more and more gasoline-powered cars with electric cars (which run on rechargeable batteries) and with so-called plug-in hybrids (which run on rechargeable batteries when possible and switch to a gasoline engine when the batteries are depleted).


pages: 323 words: 89,795

Food and Fuel: Solutions for the Future by Andrew Heintzman, Evan Solomon, Eric Schlosser

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agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, big-box store, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate social responsibility, David Brooks, deindustrialization, distributed generation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, flex fuel, full employment, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, hydrogen economy, land reform, microcredit, Negawatt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment

While this overall national trend is encouraging, the research demonstrates that only about one-third of the states account for nearly all (86 percent) of the spending by utilities and states on energy efficiency programs. The report “State Scorecard on Utility and Public Benefits Energy Efficiency Programs: An Update” is available at ACEEE’s web site at http://www.aceee.org/. 16. This and other information about energy efficiency can be found in A. Lovins and H. Lovins, “Mobilizing Energy Solutions.” 17. A. Lovins, “Negawatts, 12 Transitions, Eight Improvements and One Distraction” Energy Policy 24, no. 4: 331–343. See also World Alliance for Decentralized Energy, “World Survey of Decentralized Energy — 2002/2003,” http://www.localpower.org/. 18. Productivity increases when workers can see better what they’re doing, breathe cleaner air, hear themselves think, and feel more comfortable. Offices typically pay about one hundred times as much for people as for energy, so 6 to 16 percent higher labour productivity increases profits by about 6 to 16 times as much as eliminating the entire energy bill.


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas

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Airbus A320, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

This cannot simply be done on the hoof, or the danger is that either nothing at all will happen, or the wrong investments will be made and a lot of money wasted. In the Maldives as elsewhere, energy efficiency is central. It will always be much cheaper to stop wasting energy than to build energy-generating capacity to cover unnecessary use, whether that generating capacity is powered by diesel, nuclear fission, or the sun. (The energy-efficiency guru Amory Lovins calls these saved units “negawatts,” in a play on megawatts.) In the Maldives, antiquated fridges and air-conditioning systems place a huge burden on electricity supplies; much of this could be saved if buildings were better constructed or retrofitted to absorb less solar heat and lose less cooling through doors and windows. In cold countries, fantastic amounts of energy are wasted through badly insulated roofs and walls, not to mention drafty doors and windows.


pages: 992 words: 292,389

Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald

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Asian financial crisis, Burning Man, computerized trading, corporate raider, estate planning, forensic accounting, intangible asset, Irwin Jacobs, John Markoff, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Negawatt, new economy, oil shock, price stability, pushing on a string, Ronald Reagan, transaction costs, value at risk, young professional

The papers, some of which were prepared for other lobbying efforts, are headed “National Energy Policy: Priorities,” “Examples of Problems Due to Lack of Open Access,” “Emergency Measures for Western Power Markets,” “Action Plan for Implementing Findings & Principles for Joint Action on Western States Power Markets,” “ESPA Letter on Open Access,” “Summary of Democratic Alternative Bill,” “Federal Demand Buy-Down (‘Negawatt’) Proposal,” “LNG,” and “Carbon Dioxide.” Finally, the author also reviewed copies of notes taken during the meeting by a participant. 17. Dialogue of Skilling’s conference call from an official transcript of the discussion. 18. Several news outlets reported the Skilling gaffe. For example, see “Skilling, Analyst Verbally Butt Heads,” Reuters, April 18, 2001; and “Skilling Speaks His Mind,” Gas Daily, April 18, 2001. 19.