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To: The Impact Readers
Because everyone is doing the #stayathome challenge Reddit memes have reached a new apex. r/Sustainability has been crazy active with some quality climate & sustainability memes that just brighten up our nights – because nobody uses Reddit during the day.
So if you want to join us and bring some additional joy into your life, we will be active on r/Sustainability all week posting the best memes focused on sustainability and clean-tech.
In your inbox: Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla – which makes Electric Vehicles – now wants to make the “best HVAC” solution for your home; transparent solar panels are in the pilot phase; EPA temporarily dropping regulations on pollution and Hydrogen vs. Battery Electric debate begins to heat up even more.
In The Green Room – Check out our opinion on the whole EPA freezing the policing of environmental regulations.
If you haven’t heard of Ubiquitous Energy and their ambitious goals now would be a good time to look into them. Back in March 2019 transparent solar cell manufacturer Ubiquitous Energy claimed the energy efficiency record for transparent cells clocking in at 9.8% by harvesting different wavelengths of light. Now naturally that may not sound as impressive, especially when we compare it to companies like Sunpower which is still pushing the boundaries of cell efficiency – around 22%. But it begs an honest question: can transparent solar panels ever really have a commercial application? Especially since ubiquitous solar has only gotten about 100 square feet of panels installed since conception as a pilot/demonstration.
To evaluate if transparent solar panels are for you we need to look into the specific space companies like Ubiquitous are playing in.
We put it under the energy efficiency tab of products to evaluate. Meaning comparing it to traditional solar panels or any product-focused on power production, will never enable such a technology to leave the deadly R&D phase.
History shows that the others who have played in this space have either gone bankrupt or have pivoted towards perovskite research – but we like the concept of energy efficiency. Comparing these panels to LEDs or other energy efficiency products in the market might help bring such a technology into the market. Imagine large commercial buildings retrofitted with these panels to improve the overall efficiency of the building’s HVAC & energy consumption…
However, there is still a large uphill battle for Ubiquitous and those we consider its competitors in the energy efficient windows space. Check out View for example – who uses “intelligent windows” to improve the energy efficiency of HVAC solutions within a building without using blinds.
We all have an admiration for Musk and his ability to garner an audience who will support him to make some pretty crazy ideas into a reality. True entrepreneurship. We won’t fault him for that ever.
However, in conversation on Twitter – which seems to be Tesla’s version of PR Newswire – Musk made a claim that Tesla is going to start to explore a whole-house HEPA filter/Air Purifier HVAC solution. Now to make it clear – there is no definitive answer to whether or not this will actually come to fruition, but, when it comes to Tesla it is definitely not out of the question.
And it seemed to garner a decent amount of attention as he’s has been talking about it for years now, even two years ago on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Now if you want to learn more about air purifiers for your home and alternatives here’s a useful article that explains most of the best options and associated costs here.
One thing to remember is that there are companies that are experts when it comes to the HVAC space. But if we have learned anything about Tesla – their brand on a product can make it sell.
If you are interested in efficient HVAC operations for your home, smart thermostats like Ecobee and Google Nest already do most, if not all, the “necessary” optimization to reduce your energy draw. Connecting it to your car won’t be necessary. If you had the capital to invest in a heat pump and geographically makes sense for your home, companies like Dandelion Energy can help.
We spent hours on Reddit past midnight this week, not even including the time on twitter past 3 AM – some interesting world views come on at that time…
One thing that caught our eyes is the ongoing debate between battery-electric and hydrogen-electric for personal vehicles. So we dug more into the science and numbers behind where each solution delivers value. Going beyond the argument that battery EV is better because of existing infrastructure & current market growth and Hydrogen being better from a weight & energy density standpoint.
For the purposes of this analysis we are going to take a study done by Volkswagen that summarizes it pretty well.
The net result is that they, of course, show that with the current state of technology Volkswagen – you guessed it – stands tall against hydrogen for passenger vehicles. With the big “point” they make being: wheel to wheel efficiency and existing infrastructure.
And we agree: given the current state of Hydrogen refueling stations and efficiency of producing, using hydrogen as the source of power for passenger vehicles doesn’t make sense. However, companies like Nikola Motors see a niche for heavy-duty passenger vehicles where range and power are going to be more important than the ubiquity of refueling stations.
The promotional products industry is traditionally wasteful. Custom apparel makes up about 30% of the $25B industry, and it can take up to 700 gallons of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt. Billions of cheap custom shirts, pens, and knick-knacks get sent to landfills each year as a result of this.
Imprint Genius’ – Our Promo Done Greener – initiative directly addresses the traditional wastefulness of the industry. Along with their eco-friendly product catalog, they’ve developed the industry’s first carbon offset calculator, allowing them to offer carbon neutral campaigns to their clients. While also being proud members of 1% For the Planet.
Learn about the carbon footprint of your promotional items and how to reduce it by checking out their online catalog and subscribing to their newsletter.
The EPA announced that they are suspending enforcement of environmental rules because staffing shortages from COVID-19 have made it hard for corporations to keep up with deadlines and accountability requirements. They announced in a memo that the “consequences may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water.”
“This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future,” Cynthia Giles, former assistant EPA administrator for enforcement and compliance, told ABC News in a statement. “It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way “caused” by the virus pandemic.”
Gina McCarthy, CEO and president of NRDC, said in an email to Electrek that although they agree that there should be greater flexibility in this time of crisis the EPA is still responsible for our health and shouldn’t be throwing their hands up and giving corporations “an open license to pollute.”
Okay so EPA is suspending enforcement of environmental rules because it’s hard on businesses. Let’s think through some of the effects this has.
Inside Climate News made note that the decision comes just days after the American Petroleum Institute sent a call for help from the administration – they answered, even going above and beyond what the trade group asked for.
Remember how we talked about how emissions historically come roaring back after the economy turns up? In a separate action, the EPA pushed back the legal obligation to switch to “summer” gasoline blends from May 1 to May 20, and possibly beyond, Reuters reports. The switch is mandated because of higher anti-smog standards in the summer. Without the switch (along with the altered enforcement) we could be compounding our public health crisis.
Right now around 200,000 Americans die every year from air pollution that meets EPA standards…
This week on BigFeet… Did you know coffee cups (like, the paper Starbucks kind) have plastic lining in them that prevents them from being recyclable? Yup, that’s not wax! Victoria Beall (@environmentoria) gives me a lesson on how much plastic is in our lives. Check out her list zero waste alternatives to some of the most common single use products in our everyday lives.
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