David Muyres recently addressed a gathering of designers during the press week at the Detroit AutoShow. The AutoWeek Design forum annually brings together top designers from around the world to discuss the future of the car industry. This year the focus was on Design Renaissance, and David Muyres was chosen to open the event with a presentation on the emerging role of the designer. David chose to broaden the focus from car design to how Detroit could develop new and profitable business models while still solving people’s need for mobility. David strongly believes that Design Thinking is the key to developing fun, exciting and sustainable alternatives to today’s over dependence on the car as our main form of transportation in the United States. You can see more at: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20100114/CARNEWS/100119935
Last year I joined the Board of Directors of CHIBAS, a non-profit research center on bio-energy and sustainable agriculture based in Haiti. I was enormously relieved to find out that the Executive Director and Research Director, Gael Pressior and his family and colleagues are all fine after the earthquake. We are working with colleagues at a variety of organizations, including LAC-CORE, to facilitate the rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies for lighting, heat, electricity, water purification, and other critical needs.
CHIBAS is working to develop and promote the use of multipurpose crops that could contribute to job creation while improving both the food and energy security in Haiti. CHIBAS has strong research capabilities and highly qualified personnel in both agronomy and genetics.
CHIBAS is set to become a Regional Biofuels Technical & Knowledge Center that will serve the biofuel sector by developing energy crop technologies and varieties, with an initial focus on jatropha and sweet sorghum. These technologies will be useful not only to Haiti but will be available for all of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Moreover, CHIBAS will provide the biofuel agro-industry and other stakeholders the technologies and technical support necessary for the development and success of the biofuel agro-industry in the region.
Deutsche Bank has designed a Carbon Counter widget to be downloaded to your desktop in order to allow you to have an accurate, real-time display of the estimated amount of green house gases in our atmosphere. The number is the same figure which is displayed on the 70 foot tall Carbon Counter near Penn Station in New York City. It’s a bit like a ticking time bomb, but if we’re successful in our efforts to combat climate change, the number will stabilize and eventually start to decline…
Last week I had a fantastic surprise. A friend and colleague invited me to see a film in the middle of the afternoon. I was just returning from Berlin and was jet-lagged and figured, why not? But wondered, why is this movie showing during the work day? It turned out be a pre-screening of the upcoming documentary “Carbon Nation” for some of the amazing people interviewed in the film so that they could give input on how they were portrayed, check the facts, and give general input. According to the film’s Director, Peter Byck, “Carbon Nation” is an optimistic (and witty) discovery of what people are already doing, what we as a nation could be doing and what the world needs to do to prevent (or at least slow down) the impending climate crisis. The good news is we already have the technology to combat most of the worst case scenarios of climate change, and it’s also very good business. Other good films have been about the problems, “Carbon Nation” is a film that focuses on the solutions.”
Byck gives us a humorous, and sometimes intensely personal, peek into the extraordinary lives and work of people who are pioneering vital solutions. I won’t give away too much about the film but one of the main characters isDan Nolan who is helping to save fuel, money and lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by helping the military reduce and substitute their fuel needs. Other stars include Jim Woolsey, Van Jones, Amory Lovins, and Janine Benyus.
Keep an eye out for this must-see film!
I will be participating in the international workshop entitled “Aquatic Biomass: Sustainable Bioenergy from Algae?” in Berlin, Germany November 2nd. The workshop will bring together key representatives from countries active in research and development of algae-based bioenergy. They will present and discuss the current status and future options for algae use, introduce relevant technology prospects and discuss environmental and development issues. To see the full description and agenda click here.
Dave Muyres will be speaking about the role of design in crafting a new vision for transportation in the United States at the following events:
Moving Minds: The Next Transportation Infrastructure
November 9–12, 2009 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
Opportunity Green Business Conference at UCLA
Los Angeles, CA November 7–8, 2009
Podcar City Conference
December 9–10 in Malmo, Sweden
I will be speaking at the International Conference on Biorefinery in Syracuse NY on October 6th, and at Hobart and William Smith College (HWS) in Geneva, NY on October 7th. The Finger Lakes Institute, based at HWS and the college itself have a wide array of ‘greening effort. For more information on their environmental initiatives, clickhere.
Our new Windspire vertical axis wind turbine is up and spinning on the hill at Hunt Country Vineyards! I will be at the winery on October 9th for the dedication of the Windspire. We will also be introducing the newest winery addition, which features heavy insulation, in-floor heating capability, automated tank cooling, and energy efficient lighting, and has already resulted in a substantial drop in energy usage.
Our 30 foot tall Windspire produces 1.2 kW of power. Mariah Power manufactures Windspires in Michigan, in a refurbished auto parts plant employing former autoworkers using American materials. The turbine produces 110 volt 60 cycle current, which feeds directly into the residential grid. It has an automatic safety feature whereby it cannot produce power unless the grid is operating. As one of the first Windspire models in operation in New York State, it will be used to demonstrate not only its unique advanced design, but also that small wind turbines can be a graceful part of the farm landscape and can contribute to local self-reliance and regional sustainability.
If you are not familiar with vertical-axis turbines (VAT), they have several appealing attributes: they can produce energy in lighter and shifty air and at less cost than the more common horizontal axis propeller turbines, they are very quiet, and they are not hazardous to birds as the turning blades give the appearance of a solid object for birds to avoid.
We are please to announce the recent publication of the OnGoingTransportation White Paper, titled Futurama II Mobilizing America’s Transportation Revolution. The White Paper was co-authored by David Muyres, formerly a Vice President at the Art Center College of Design and Executive at Johnson Controls Inc. and now with HuntGreen LLC, and Geoff Wardle, the Director of Advanced Mobility at the Art Center College of Design. OnGoingTransportation is a siren call for a bold new approach to the future of American transportation. The OnGoingTransportation initiative calls for the creation of a team of the best and brightest minds to develop a new long term vision that will serve as a blueprint for the next 50 years of transportation needs in the U.S. The vision will inspire well-designed, environmentally and economically sustainable options as part of a totally integrated national transportation system. The blueprint will inform sound, long-term policy and legislation, facilitate innovative technology and financing, and encourage entirely new business models, allowing American entrepreneurs to create jobs and lead the world in transportation solutions. To download the paper click here.
On June 18th Deutsche Bank launched a 70-foot billboard with a red carbon counter ticking upwards as the amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases (data supplied by MIT) and a message reading “Climate Change Affects Everyone”.
Climate-altering pollution — normally invisible and out of mind — will now be highly visible to hundreds of thousands of people in NY City near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.
I made sure to go to the launch and luncheon since the project was managed by a friend and colleague on the Deutsche Climate Team. It was great to see the financial community discussing climate change and its implications for business in depth and with urgency.
Now I’d like to see banks all over the US and the world have the Carbon counter on their signs next to the date, time and temperature. And… I’d like a personal carbon counter app for my iphone. I just looked, and yes, they already exist!
Today the “Gigaton Throwdown” results were released publicly in Washington DC with a number of the Obama Administration’s clean tech and green gurus (namely John Holdren – director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Van Jones – Obama’s Green Jobs Advisor, Cathy Zoi – Assistant Secretary of Energy for EE and RE, and David Sandalow – Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs) and their staff in attendance. But with a name like “Gigaton Throwdown”, this is obviously not a Washington initiative. It was conceived of by a group of Venture Capitalists in Silicon Valley who wondered – beyond whether their investments would make the money – would they make a difference? So they enlisted the help of other investors, entrepreneurs, executives and leading academics, to analyze which clean technologies have the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons (a gigaton) per year by 2020.
Of the nine technologies they studied — Biofuels, Building efficiency, Concentrating solar power, Construction materials, Geothermal, Nuclear, Plug in Hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVS), Solar photovoltaics, and Wind – they found that seven are “ready to scale up aggressively today.” Wind is on track to produce a gigaton reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 at its current growth rate, but the other technologies would require a 3x expansion in investment, bringing clean energy investment up to the current level of investment in fossil fuels. They point out that many of these technologies have been widely deployed and proven, but rapid scaling will require stable policy support and long-term thinking on the part of the government.
They determined that these technologies would then be able to meet more than 60% of global energy demand and the scale-up would create more than 4.5 million jobs, a vibrant new sector in the U.S. economy, and a clean energy policy that ensures domestic security.
The full report and additional materials are at: http://www.gigatonthrowdown.org
In 2007 I went on a month-long road rally across the US, Mexico, and most of Central America using waste grease and biodiesel. Pictures and descriptions from our visits to sustainable biodiesel producers along the way can be found here. One of my fellow travelers was Bjorn Kruse, the advanced vehicle specialist for the Norwegian environmental non-profit organization “Zero”. Bjornar decided to organize a shorter rally for high tech Zero Emission Vehicles in Norway. Ford Motor Company and the Hynor Group sponsored myself and race car driver Leilani Munter and provided us with a Hydrogen fuel cell Ford Focus, and on May 10th we were in Oslo and ready to go. Unfortunately the vehicle had been damaged in transport and we went to sleep thinking that we were out of the rally.
Twenty minutes before the start our car arrived and we were off. At one of the first stops we were greeted by a number of car fanatics with their classic vehicles and replicas like the one shown here of the first electric vehicle.
During down time we also checked out some of the other vehicles in the rally like the EV called the Buddy made by a Norwegian company, and this electric-pedal car produced in Germany.
The rally was designed to test both the drivers and the vehicles, but proving that these cleaner technologies can be as fun and high performing as conventional cars was a key goal.
Unfortunately the drive shaft that was broken in transport and only partially fixed, failed during the slalom course, taking us out of the competition.
Fortunately the mechanics were able to patch it up again enough so that we could “limp” to the finish line. The bright side was that on day three, because we were no longer competing, we were able to have Sabine Flanz, the head Research Engineer, for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology for Ford in Europe, ride with us which gave us a lot of time to discuss the ins and outs of fuel cell technology, H fuel cells versus EVs, etc. While the EVs could charge up anywhere they could plug in an extension cord, their range was quite limited and charging requires several hours, so the H fuel cell cars had a huge advantage with range and speed of re-fueling (about the same as refueling a conventional car). The downside is of course the need for specialized H production, distribution, and refueling infrastructure. In Norway the grid is 100% renewable, so the H was produced from green electricity.