Category Archives: renewable energy

12 wonderful wishes you can share for 2012

As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.

Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.

  • Greentown Labs http://greentownlabs.org/ An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
  • Sol Solution http://www.sol-solution.org/ A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
  • Social Capital http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/  Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
  • ABAN http://www.aban.org/ Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
  • Space with a soul http://www.spacewithasoul.org/ is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
  • Peace First http://www.peacefirst.org/site/ Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
  • Samarthanam http://www.samarthanam.org/ Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
  • Merrimack Valley Sandbox http://www.uml.edu/mvsandbox/default.html Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
  • LifeCity http://mylifecity.com/  LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
  • Peacetones  http://peacetones.org  Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
  • Vision Aid http://visionaid.org/ VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
  • Ummeed http://ummeed.org/ is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.

Towards a Greener Future

I attended a conference “Making Green Economy Real” organized by The Boston Pledge at Bentley University outside of Boston. After opening remarks by Partha Ghosh, founder of The Boston Pledge, that provided some great insights into the challenges facing the economy, Prof. Bill Moomaw, one of the authors of the IPCC report that shared in the Nobel Peace Prize with VP Gore, provided a terrific overview of what was needed for the US to really go green. 

Recently returned from Washington, Prof. Moomaw had accompanied the Tufts team that entered the biannual Solar Decathalon sponsored by the Department of Energy.  The Decathalon is a challenge to design, build and operate a house that is completely powered by solar energy on site at the Washington Mall. Twenty teams from all around the USA, Puerto Rico, Spain and Germany participated. The winner for the second time in a row was Germany. But more important were Moomaw’s observations about the state of the art in solar and energy efficiency as represented by the various entries. Continue reading

Innovative bus technologies go green

Looking for a quick and inexpensive way to make a short day trip to New York, I came across a couple of new bus services from Boston – Megabus and BoltBus – both offering free internet connectivity on the ride down. Always a sucker for technology, I chose to take the Megabus to NYC. The ride was surprisingly pleasant, on-time with clean new buses and continuous Wifi enabled internet access throughout as advertised.

Curious, I decided to find out more about the company and the technology. Looks like the buses are most likely equipped with Moovera Mobile broadband gateways. They connect to a 3G network on one side and provide Wifi coverage in the bus on the other side. An additional benefit is the availability of real time GPS tracking of the vehicle, plus Ethernet based connectivity for on board instrumentation and telematic applications. It all sounded very cool and hi tech for a bus company. I think the new Wifi bus services between Boston and NYC are attracting a younger hipper traveler as evidenced by my co-passengers on the trip.

Digging further I found that Megabus is a subsidiary of a UK based corporation, the Stagecoach Group.  The company seems to be an innovator in the area bringing inexpensive modes of mass transportation to market, encouraging more commuters to take their buses, trains and hovercraft and reducing carbon as a result.

In addition the company has also introduced a number of innovative environmental initiatives. In the past they have been one of the first companies in UK to introduce biofuel buses. An interesting program that they have implemented gives passengers a discount in exchange for their used cooking oil. Argent Energy, which operates the UK’s first large-scale biodiesel plant, is supplying all the biodiesel. In April they introduced a carbon neutral bus service in Scotland where they are looking to offset their emissions in partnership with a Scottish charity Global Trees

One hopes they will try to replicate their biofuel model in the US.