A short while ago we discussed the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Plan and its goal to achieve a 20% improvement in its energy savings by the year 2020. Click here for a refresher on that. Basically, we found out that the initially instituted plan wasn’t totally working out as the European Commission had hoped, so they did some quick figuring and implemented another plan which would get everyone back on track. Handshakes and back-pats all around.
Back in 2006, the European Union realized that they were facing some serious energy challenges. These challenges were due to an increase in import dependency, global fossil fuel supplies, a “…clearly discernable climate change”, and a substantial waste of 20% of its energy due to inefficiencies.
Say what now? “A substantial waste of 20% of its energy due to inefficiencies”? Oh. Ok, we’ll be revisiting that shortly…
Superpowers. Sometimes they get used for good, sometimes they get used for evil. I’m partial to the ‘using-them-for-good’ angle, as most people are. However, being totally honest, if I could see into the future, I would absolutely write down the winning lottery numbers and take that jackpot home! Don’t lie – you’d do it too…right…? I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen though, as that type of superpower doesn’t tend to exist outside of whatever superhero blockbuster is in the theatres at the moment. It’s July – Will Smith should be releasing something in 3…2…1.
However, in terms of big business, there does exist a fair amount – ok, a LARGE amount – of real-world superpowers. These powers can be used for evil – (see: swindling people’s life savings for your own profit) – and can cause a devastating ripple effect which impacts peoples’ lives in heart breaking ways. We’ve almost become accustomed to turning on the news and hearing about yet another big business with less than satisfactory regard for how it deploys its superpowers. So, it’s always a pleasure to see big, powerful companies using their superpowers for good - especially when those companies are in sectors typically seen as less than environmentally friendly. Let’s give a couple of those a shout out, shall we?
One of my least favourite things to do is to go grocery shopping. I’m usually there at the worst times (right after work, along with the rest of the population of Vancouver), I usually forget my list (and subsequently all the items of which I’m most in need), and I almost always end up in line behind someone who’s paying for their bill in nickels, dimes and pennies (or, you know, I’m that person). Some people love it, some people don’t. I definitely fall into the latter category. But, while I do not enjoy grocery shopping, I do enjoy food and therefore find myself at the grocery store at regular intervals.
What has never crossed my mind until quite recently however, was how much energy these supermarkets use to power their refrigeration systems. There are a lot of coolers and freezers in supermarkets and a lot of them are open to the air, which means they are running constantly and using up a significant amount of electricity.
Some of you may be wondering about the hummingbird on a site about energy efficiency for buildings, so let me explain. First, hummingbirds are pretty amazing, what with their crazy migratory paths and their feistiness around the feeder. Second and more specifically, hummingbirds use such an incredible amount of energy while being amazing and flying backwards and dive bombing people sunbathing near the bird feeder and doing all those other hummingbird-y things, that they need to eat more than their own weight in food every day.
A beautiful old house down the street from me sold a few weeks ago. In Vancouver’s ludicrous real estate market, that is nothing remarkable. What really floored me though, was when I walked past the other day and saw one of those big signs up in front of the house, indicating that it is on the chopping block to be demolished.
Whenever I prepare myself for a day of surfing the net, I can't help but imagine what is happening in the world to make this possible. As I brew my coffee and make my breakfast, thousands of servers in thousands of data centers are quietly plugging away to ensure that the internet continues to be accessible 24/7/365.
I would not say that I live in a slum. Having seen from afar the deprivations of every day life in Kibera, Nairobi’s enormous slum, I would definitely not say that I live in a slum. However, my apartment is not exactly the nicest place to live. The kitchen floor looks dirty no matter how much I clean it, since previous tenants over the years have stained it beyond redemption. The bathroom has an abundance of black, scary mold due to terrible air circulation and permanent sogginess.
Nothing beats the shoe-phone. Unless there's gum on the bottom of said shoe and it gets stuck to your face while you are trying to have an intense conversation about saving the world from something or other. But nothing beats the shoe-phone in terms of silliness, particularly when it is in the hands of a complete lemon like Maxwell Smart.
A few weeks ago, one of our readers commented on the incredible waste of energy caused by so many buildings being over air-conditioned. This is something I’m sure everyone has experienced – stepping in from a beautiful, sunny, hot day into a glacial building where a parka is necessary to be comfortable.