Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thank you for visiting!

February 27, 2012

This checklist was labor of love and feverish activity in 2008 and 2009.  But then this blog quieted down as I shifted my energy toward radically remaking how I do my business, how I build buildings – finding in the process, the Passive House building standard, and it is fair to say, a new phase of my life began.  


Working as an architect, a promoter, an activist, an organizer and an importer of stuff – my focus on climate change mitigation is narrower and deeper,  a better explanation as David Deutch might say, of my concern about the climate crises and a more useful action toward addressing it.  

All this is to say that while I’ll likely leave this webpage up for some time – I encourage you to find out more about Passive House and high-performance building generally.   Check out my new business that is solely focused on helping people achieve high performance, Four Seven Five.  Because a truly high performing building, a building operating at Passive House levels is perhaps the biggest and most profound bite we can take out of our carbon emissions – putting us on a carbon reduction trajectory that is proportionate with the crisis at hand. 


These, and the organizations and business working with them are changing the world.   I encourage you to find out more and get involved.



Compost: a weapon of mass destruction?

December 2, 2010

In another example of how climate change is going to ask us to redefine much of our natural environment – two new studies highlight a growing threat to life as we know it – THE COMPOST BOMB. From Science Daily:

The compost bomb instability is a runaway feedback that occurs when the heat is generated by microbes more quickly than it can escape to the atmosphere. This in turn requires that the active decomposing soil layer is thermally-insulated from the atmosphere.
Catherine Luke explains: “The compost bomb instability is most likely to occur in drying organic soils covered by an insulating lichen or moss layer.”

Similar to the fears of sudden release of methane hydrates from the Arctic Ocean bottom – such a runaway feedback from peatlands will lead to rapid release of carbon, providing yet another (unaccounted for) positive feedback.

The scientists are now working on accounting for this “compost bomb” risk.

The Exeter team is now modelling the potential impact of the compost bomb instability on future climate change, including the potential link to the Russian peatland fires. It is also working to identify other rate-dependent tipping points.

This Is Analysis We Can Believe In

January 7, 2010

While President Obama sets about attempting to fix our national counter terrorism analytic machinery – we learned this week via William J. Broad and The New York Times that the CIA is playing a very important assist in top climate change scientific analysis. In C.I.A. Is Sharing Data With Climate Scientists, Broad reports:

The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets — including spy satellites and other classified sensors — to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests.

East Siberian Sea

When you read it, it’s almost a “duh, of course” type of moment – why wouldn’t they and why shouldn’t they? And why haven’t they been doing this all along?

The program resurrects a scientific group that from 1992 to 2001 advised the federal government on environmental surveillance. Known as Medea, for Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis, the group sought to discover if intelligence archives and assets could shed light on issues of environmental stewardship.

Notice the dates? Now with W. and Dick out of the way – the scientists are getting back to this critical work.

“There are no other data available that show the melting and freezing processes,” the report said. “Their release will have a major impact on understanding effects of climate change.”

And real understanding really seems possible:

“I’m extremely pleased with what’s been happening,” said Michael B. McElroy, an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University and a senior member of the group. “It’s really first-rate.”

Among the program’s first responsibilities has been to assess earlier Medea projects to see which, if any, produced valuable information and might be restarted or expanded.

To add insult to injury the tea bagging Republicans can’t even complain about pork barrel spending because the cost is about as low as it gets:

Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of the monitoring team, said the program was “basically free.”

What’s the nitty-gritty?

About 60 scientists — mainly from academia but including some from industry and federal agencies — run the effort’s scientific side. All have secret clearances. They obtain guidance from the National Academy of Sciences, an elite body that advises the federal government.

Dr. Cicerone said the monitoring effort offered an opportunity to gather environmental data that would otherwise be impossible to obtain, and to do so with the kind of regularity that can reveal the dynamics of environmental change…The C.I.A. runs the program and arranges for the scientists to draw on federal surveillance equipment, including highly classified satellites of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Makes you want to see some of these images yourself, doesn’t it? You can at the USGS Global Fiducials Library.

Sadly, I can’t help but be left thinking about all the lost knowledge of the Bush/Cheney years – a travesty.

I love this light bulb!

September 26, 2009

LED vs. IncandescentIt’s a new LED by Philips that very well matches the color quality of our beloved round incandescent bulbs, yet use one sixth the energy – thereby leapfrogging compact fluorescents in both energy savings and reliable light quality – and in the process, win the Department of Energy’s L Prize. Best part, they’ve been designed to screw into our standard sockets.

Build a Better Bulb for a $10 Million Prize by Eric A. Taub and Leora Broydo Vestel brings us the story.

Of course they’ll cost an arm and a leg at first. But like other new technology we should expect the costs to precipitously drop. I just want to get my hands on one to test it out. They don’t seem to have hit the dealers yet. But when I do find one I’ll report back my – informal – results.