Posted by Brian @ 9:43 am on November 15th 2008

FUEL premiere sells out!

Here’s director Josh Tickell at the regal fox tower last night.

Posted by Brian @ 11:42 pm on March 30th 2008

Even better energy/consumption product labeling

From Wattzon, an even more improved product label along the lines of the nutrition facts labels found on food products. The entire slideset is worth the time and puts a solution to our global energy dilemma in a practical, attainable (albeit challenging) light.

On the left, today’s required nutrition label. On the right, a proposed label containing the energy used to create the product and how much it would add to your energy consumption footprint. Click the image for the full-size version on the Wattzon site. Someday this sort of labeling will be required on all products sold.

Product consumption labeling

Posted by Brian @ 6:31 pm on February 12th 2008

Brilliant idea: eNutrition facts

I was just browsing the results of the greener gadgets competition and Charles Brill has in my opinion the best idea of the lot, an eNutrition fact sheet that would accompany every gadget sold. I love it!

eNutrution facts

This should be required on all devices sold. I’d most like to know the expected lifetime for a product.

Posted by Brian @ 9:52 am on February 10th 2008

Ignite Portland

I gave a five minute presentation on biodiesel for Ignite Portland last Tuesday. Preparing was quite a challenge. I’ve given maybe 50 presentations on biodiesel which usually run between 1-4 hours. I knew that it was basically impossible to present the information I usually do, so I gave up on that and decided to present a mix of the things I thought were the most important, most entertaining and/or most misunderstood.

I left out things that seemed obvious – that it is better to bike, walk, use mass transit or just stay home. That there are a bunch of other things we need to do in addition to moving to entirely renewable sources of energy – combine trips, massively increase efficiency of our vehicles, buy locally, use flex cars, work from home, carpool… I figured these things were safe to leave out, given the audience would be smart, educated people with open minds.

I wish I could have covered algae in greater depth. I don’t think it is possible for us to get out of this mess without it (where ‘this mess’ equals peak oil + climate change). And there is no way our need for liquid fuel is going to go away, unless we go back to living in the trees. Liquid fuel is fundamentally a part of everything we do, and biodiesel has the least impact of any of our choices. Any of them. I did another ten hours of research on other renewables and caught up on the latest biodiesel research to make sure everything was up to date. I uncovered some new research that bears some further following up – it might be the case that some farming methods may have negative impacts. That’s why it is all the more important to focus on algae, which alleviates those concerns entirely. The best I could do on that was get the message out about not buying Palm oil biodiesel.

Anyway, I received overwhelmingly good responses both at the show and afterwards, and had a great time. I can’t wait to see the next round of Ignite presentations!

Posted by Brian @ 7:15 pm on February 1st 2008

Focus the Nation 2008 Teach-in Day

I had the honor to speak about biodiesel on a panel at LEP High for the Focus the Nation Teach-in Day. The students had excellent questions, and I was really impressed by the experts on the panel from diverse backgrounds in sustainability, carbon offsets, environmental justice, wind power, salmon protection, forest preservation. I was able to duck into a classroom before my panel and hear a spirited discussion going on about global warming and greenhouse gases.

I also got a taste of what’s in store for my presentation for Tuesday’s Ignite Portland, in which I have a whopping 25% more time than I did on the Teach-in panel… 5 minutes compared to 4! It was a real challenge to compress what is normally a 45 minute talk down to 5 minutes. I love the format for the show, and I can hardly wait for the event.

Posted by Brian @ 12:09 am on April 17th 2006

Nothing to be proud of

I hear frequently that Portland ranks second in the nation for households using green power. Sounds impressive. After all, we’re a hub of sustainability, right?

But then I looked at the numbers. Despite having over two million people in the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton area (according to 2004 State figures), and approximately 1 million households, only a pathetic 33,000 of those have signed up for green energy. That’s a hair over 3 percent. Even if we limit ourselves to the 350,000 or so households in Multnomah county, that’s not even 1 in 10.

1 in 10? That’s nothing to be proud of. That’s an embarrassment.

What is the story with that? Could it be the cost, which amounts to $8 or so on the average bill per month? Is that too high a price to pay for renewable energy? I can’t believe that.

Could it be the difficulty of signing up? I bump into happy green energy elves at nearly every event I go to, eagerly hoping to sign people up. Rarely do I see anyone at their tables. Are we just too busy to fill out our name and address?

I get colorful exhortations to go green along with my power bill, presumably others do as well. I recycle all junk mail without even a glance, so perhaps nobody else looks at the cheerful little signup forms.

Maybe it’s because we feel that since most of our power is already renewable it’s not a big deal. That may be the perception but the facts are different. Yes, 46.5% of our energy is renewable through standard PGE service. The bad news is that most of the rest of the power comes from burning coal. That’s right – coal, which ranks about dead last on green energy, makes up for an appalling 39.7% of our energy here. Another 11.2% comes from natural gas. So actually most of our energy is from non-renewable sources.

My feeling is that most people think either we’re already there or that other people will shoulder the burden. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Renewable energy is cheaper than it has ever been. In fact, it’s cheaper than building any other form of power. But nobody is going to build them unless people demand them. All we have to do is ask, and pay about twenty-five cents a day.

Are you among the 90%+ who haven’t yet signed up for green energy in Portland? What is it going to take?