Fantastic Energy Summit – Knowledge, Collaboration, Action

I am not sure what happened, but for some reason I never posted this after the summit this past summer. For those interested in creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, this is a great conference to learn how.

summitheader

To me, with my efforts to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits, how we live in our environment is key. Living in a sustainable way is the focus of the summit.

From July 18-20, 2016 I had the opportunity to attend the 5th Appalachian Energy Summit. The theme this year was Knowledge, Collaboration and Action, a great motto for what we must do. Once again I was able to learn from wonderful speakers. Amory Lovins and David Orr shared their vast knowledge and we also had the opportunity to hear Bill McKibbin of 350.org. Unfortunately some of the news is sad and scary, however there is hope and the message I got loud in clear is there also must be URGENCY with our efforts.

I love this conference because it is like the National Wellness Conference (NWC) because its focus is on how to help each of us be the best versions of ourselves with the overall aim of improving the common good. Coincidentally, or maybe not, the theme at this years NWC was “Spotlight on Sustainability”.An outcome from which everyone and everything benefits. Another very impressive part of the conference is that not only does it teach us how to be stewards of the environment, the conference is green. Linked description of specific efforts to green the event (also bel0w) are made in regards to Energy, Food Services (and the foods is outstanding), zero waste, water stewardship.

UpcycleCover_webC2C-English_med-e1365807753836UpCycle Chart

This conference demonstrates it is not about doing less, but doing it better and not using traditional methods. There are better ways and McDonough and Braungart explain in Epicycle and Cradle to Cradle (see post here). With regard to this conference, here is an explanation about how they practice what they preach:

Greening of the Summit

Our pristine mountain environment attracts a community of people dedicated to good stewardship. A walk across our campus is proof of our commitment to sustainability: a student-funded on-campus wind turbine, zero waste management initiatives, native landscaping and healthy buildings are among the most obvious indicators.

In good faith and commitment, Appalachian engages in the following activities which contribute to a sustainable summit.

   

Greening Initiatives

Carbon Neutral Event

Like last year, our 2016 Appalachian Energy Summit will be a carbon neutral event. First we will work to reduce our carbon emissions and \ will purchase renewable energy credits (RECS) and carbon offsets. These offset conference operations, accommodations, car and air travel, and food preparation. We have worked with Shift Equity and NC Greenpower to calculate and offset these emissions.

Housing Conferences & Institutes

  • Many participants will be housed in hotel-like accommodations at Mountaineer Residence hall, a LEED® gold certified residence hall

Energy Plemmons Student Union

  • Summit space utilizes building automation to increase HVAC efficiency
  • Summit space has temperature setbacks
  • Summit space and hotel-like accommodations have commercial solar thermal systems
  • Energy efficient high output lighting, including use of LED technology
  • Use of lighting motion sensors

Food Services Appalachian Food Services

  • All meals served will have local and organic content
  • China, silverware, glassware, and cloth used
  • Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options offered
  • All unopened leftovers donated to the local food shelter
  • Bulk items used (condiments, sweeteners, creamers, etc.)

Waste Reduction Zero Waste

  • We are making every effort to be a zero waste event
  • Recycling containers available at all summit locations and meeting spaces
  • Pre and post-consumer food waste collection at all meal events
  • Use of bulk items rather than individual items such as condiments, sugar, cream, etc.
  • Use of reusable food service items when possible
  • Disseminate conference info and other information electronically
  • Promotion of ‘BYO beverage’ container

Water Stewardship

Plemmons Student Union and Building Services

  • Low-flow sink aerators
  • Dual-flush toilets
  • Green cleaning supplies

Transportation Parking and TrafficZimride and AppalCART

  • Carpooling platform created using Zimride to make it easy for participants to share the ride
  • AppalCART provides free and convenient in-town mass transit transportation for participants

Communication

  • “These come from trees” signs on bathroom paper towel dispensers in Plemmons Student Union
  • Renewable energy kiosk in Plemmons Student Union
  • Electronic invites, announcements, registration, advertising
  • Any printed material (Leadership Luncheon only) is sugar cane-based

I look forward to more conferences, functions and organizations taking similar actions. Please share your efforts and how this can be done even better.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Harvest Current, Not Ancient Energy

**I would like to thank Alex Hsain,undergraduate researcher in energy harvesting systems at NC State University, for her collaboration in this post.

Harvest_Energy_Trust_logo.svg

At the recent 2016 Appalachian Energy Summit, I attended Alex Hsain’s “Energy Scavenging: Small Steps, Big Impacts” presentation about how she was harvesting ambient energy for portable electronic devices and it caused an epiphany, or sudden insight for me. Harvesting energy or energy scavenging is the process by which energy is obtained from  the surrounding environment in order to power small wireless devices. My question, why is  this not what we always do? Let me explain my thoughts.

Harvesting is a process of gathering, collecting or obtaining a resource for future use. Isn’t that what we do when we gather, collect, and obtain energy from the sun or wind to use to power our needs? According to multiple sources, the sun delivers more than enough harvestable energy every day to meet any possible needs. If we also collect wind energy, and energy that can be harvested from ocean currents, we will greatly exceed our energy needs with clean sources.

Instead of harvesting what is delivered to us daily, free of charge, we have embarked on an adventure to dig up hidden energy delivered millions of years ago that we have to burn it to use. Knowing that conserving energy is an evolutionary trait innate to humans, does this make sense? We are seeking the most indirect form of energy by using ancient fossil fuels instead of looking right in our backyard. The motion of our footsteps, the heat our body produces, the acoustics of our voice – all have the possibility to make us more energy independent.

Why are we doing this? An analogy would be to be given food to eat, like picking an apple from a tree, but instead of using that food we choose to find an animal gut, cook and eat. Beyond the data that documents whole food plant based eating provides more personal and planetary health benefits for humans than animal sources, why take the extra effort?

I understand there are taste issues with food, but why are we not only expending more effort than necessary to meet our energy needs, we also are giving energy companies the power to control our lives. Of course the even more important, often ignored issue is that the extra effort we must expend to get to the ancient energy or for that matter animal based foods, causes more damage than benefits received. I support energy independence that comes from utilizing a network of key technologies, working in parallel.

Lets all become independent energy generates or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. often discusses. Hear Kennedy’s presentation here from the 2015 Appalachian Energy Summit.

 

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!