Google and Green

May 31, 2008

IT in Greentech

May 27, 2008

While I generally write about energy for normal people, I received a query recently about the place of I.T. and Green Issues. So folks… here is my view on it. This post outlines IT and business, but if you look at it, IT has generally been used in the same ways by ordinary people in their

IT, business and energy

OK, let firstly start with what IT has done for business in the past. For the sake of this post, this is my mini model of how business work.

Historically business was a matter of faced the costs of staff, materials and capital investment. The business then had some clever process to turn these into a product… and boom… profit.

The most profound effect IT has had is on staff costs. IT has stream lined the work staff do, in many cases meaning large numbers of staff are replaced by just one. Excel for example… has reduced the amount of clerical staff required dramatically. It has also helped business manage staffs time better, reducing the amount of waiting around people do and unproductive time (well in theory anyway).

So Staff savings have come from

Information/management/control tools

Next we look at materials and products

IT has helped business reduce costs on materials… by allowing them to do two main things. It provides information on price/stock levels/quality/sales. It then allows them manage and control these things more effectively.

So on a materials and products front, savings have come from

Information/management/control tools

Next we look at process

You know what I’m going to say… information – management – control

So on a process, savings have come from

Information/management/control tools

So now energy is a major concern… for lots of reasons. Well you’ll never guess where I think the opening for IT to play a part.

IT can assist business (and ordinary people) by allowing them to manage this significant expense. I know… your all thinking… management… drag… but here are some ideas

  • Monitoring energy consumption. Not just at the main meter, but sub metered at likes of areas within a business. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is the mantra

This leads on to

  • Managing all this energy consumption. Lots of information demands clever software to do it in a clever way. Knowing that a piece of equipment is using less/more energy than it should/others are using is powerful. But too much information… gibberish.
  • Control of specific piece of equipment. Generally equipment doesn’t consume energy for the sake of it, it is converting that energy into motion/light/sound etc. If each piece of equipment converted the energy in a more intelligent way… boom… savings.
  • Information – communication. IT can help get useful information to the people who need it. In general, giving direction to suppliers/staff/clients/machines about energy efficiency…. is challenging. IT is the solution

NOTE: I accept that Tech also has a part to play in distance communications etc… another post perhaps…

Energy Saving Driving Tips 3 – Take Off Roof Racks/Boxes

May 27, 2008

Similar to leaving a window open, leaving roof racks or roof boxes on your car unnecessarily creates unnecessary drag on the vehicle. Take them off and save 15-40%

Coal Power

May 24, 2008

Luv it…

Energy Efficient Body Parts

May 22, 2008

Energy Saving Driving Tips 2 – Close the windows

May 22, 2008

Energy efficency effect of leaving the windows shut

I know its hot… I know… but leaving the window open when driving is really bad news. Your car (well my car) is a well designed aerodynamic marvel. Leaving the indow open really messes that up. Particularly at high speeds… In fact the effect is cubic… meaning that the drag increases dramatically as you speed up.

So… effect of having the window open in town… 1-2%

…effect of having the window open on the motorway… up to 10%

Lesson is… use the vents in the car to good effect… leave the windows shut…

Cycling in the city – Amsterdam

May 18, 2008

Cycling in cities has long been recognised as a good thing. There are a lot of environmental, health and congestion benefits. This post is about how to encourage people to get on the bike.

Just back from Amsterdam, and the thing that struck me most… bicycles…. I know… what a geek… I mean… the city has a lot of other slightly more remarkable features… but there you go.

According to the guide book, Amsterdam, with a population of 750,000 people, has 600,000 bikes. That means that people from all demographics… are cycling. Now while I generally ignore what I read in guide books, I believe this one. They are everywhere. In truth, it is wonderful (imo). So… why…

Amsterdam is a very densely populated city, so the distances between places are short enough to cycle

Short distances are definitely a factor. During my time I didn’t see any building that was less than 4 stories, not one, not one in the city centre, not one while out the window of the train out to the Airport (which is 15 minutes out, so that is quite a bit).

Do I believe this is the main reason? Well I’m sure it’s a factor, but in fairness, you don’t see people in other cities using bikes for short trips. Truth is most people in other cities prefer to walk short distances… well prefer to drive, but certainly not cycle.

Amsterdam has a lot of cycle paths, etc.

Well… my question is… which came first? The cycle lanes or the cyclists. My bet is that there was cyclers… then there were cycle lanes. Regularly people tell me that they’re afraid to cycle in cities… so having cycle lanes is important… but I’m not sure its really the key point.

The weather is nice in Amsterdam

While the last few weeks has seen excellent weather in the Netherlands, it could hardly be counted as a tropical climate. It snows and freezes in the winter.

Everyone has a bike in Amsterdam

I think this is important. Most people in other cities don’t have bikes, and so can’t cycle them.

Your bike is safe

Something I couldn’t believe was the casual attitude towards security, using quite flimsy locks. Bikes seem to be relatively safe in Amsterdam. As one who had his bike nicked in recently I can appreciate the importance of this, but its hardly a reason not to cycle.

You don’t need a helmet in Amsterdam

In some jurisdictions you need a helmet to cycle. In Amsterdam you don’t just not need one for a bike, you don’t need one for a scooter. My vote for everywhere, overdoing regulations around these relatively casual forms of transport should be resisted.

Everyone else is doing it

I think this is the key one. To convince my mother to cycle would be a lot easier if her piers were doing it. Problem with this is… it’s a critical mass thing… how do you achieve it.

Anyway, just some of my thoughts on the subject. Anyone got an opinion I haven’t considered?

Energy Saving Driving Tips – Summer Driving Season 1

May 14, 2008

Summer Driving Season is here. So if you must drive somewhere follow these tips

Tyres 0.5 bar below manufacturers recommended pressure increase wear and fuel consumption by 2-3%. That equates to saving 4cent/litre on the pumps.

Remember – every bit helps

For more on driving -see here

The Future of Renewables?

May 11, 2008

I do like this one

Thanks to for the pic

How Hybrids Work

May 9, 2008

The reason why Hybrids are called hybrids is because they are a cross between a standard internal combustion powered car and an exciting fancy battery powered electric car. They contain a standard engine, like traditional cars, that drive the wheels by burning petrol. The clever part is that they also have an electric motor, which also drives the wheels, using electricity generated for “free” when you brake.

The system works like this.

When the car is taking off, both the engine and motor are used to drive the car. This means that the car has impressive take off (ish).

When the car is going slowly (like in a city), the electric motor is enough keep it going. The motor is powered by a battery.

When the battery runs out (it’s not that large), or the demand for power is too great, the petrol engine kicks in.

When you brake, regenerative breaking uses the energy from the wheels to recharge the battery. In fact in a standard hybrid car, this is the only way the battery is charged.

So what does this mean?

I suppose one of the main things, is that the clever part, the battery, is really just a city thing. If your driving long distances, you don’t get the benefit. No loss, but no gain. As most of us spend the bulk of our time in city though, there are big savings.