Thursday, 24 November 2011

Geothermal Heating Systems

When most people think of geothermal energy they envision mega-structures, financed by substantial investments, so that they can penetrate deep into the earth’s interior and tap into the bubbling energy that lies underneath the surface. 

Sustainable engineers have found a way to scale down these huge geothermal operations with a geoexchange heat system, which dives into the ground around a homeowner’s property to create a highway of energy transportation between a house and the ground.

Ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the size and installation demands of particular buildings, consumers around the world are being introduced to the highly efficient system, which warms a facility in the winter and cools it in the summer.

The system’s fundamental operating principle hinges on the fact that the temperature in the ground below us consistently ranges between ten and sixteen degrees Celsius. This narrow range, coupled with the wider scope of temperatures found on the surface, serves as a depository for excess heat in the warm summers and a bank of heat supply in cold winters.  Unlike other renewable energy sources which face the challenge of inconsistent energy supplies, geoexchange is a method that provides a dependable flow of energy at any location across the globe.

The financial benefit of running a 2,000 square foot home in the North American Pacific Northwest with geoexchange heat would save over $1,000, not to mention the 6 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions that are kept out of our atmosphere thanks to the system.  

Bigger buildings derive an even higher level of efficiency from these systems allowing investors to pay off the initial installation costs in as little as three years. While some sites may be more challenging than others to dig down in to, engineers are able to accommodate the geological and geometric constraints of each situation to find a way to access the energy below the crust.

The efficiency of geoexchange heating systems pays off to owners in their pocket and their contribution to their environment, which ensures that it will become a pillar of energy supply for years to come.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Renewable Energy Documentaries

Have you been searching for documentaries or films on renewable energy?  We have compiled a list of just a few of the many amazing documentaries available online!  Links are provided to view each of the documentaries listed.

Fuel (2010)

Author: Josh Tickell

Key speakers: Various environmentalists, policy makers and educators, along with “green” celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow and Larry Hagman

Brief Overview: “Fuel” sheds light on America’s heavy dependence on foreign oil and the issues that are connected with it.  With the help of environmentalists and celebrities, Josh Tickell shows us how renewable energy can shape the future and provide a cleaner environment for all.  (Source)

Winner at the Sundance Film Festival, "Best Documentary", with 11 Standing Ovations.

Here is the official trailer for the documentary: 

And here is the link to view the documentary in its entirety! (YouTube account required to view the film):

UNLIMITED: Renewable Energy in the 21st Century

Directors: Daniel Califf-Glick and Barbara Azzoli

Key Speakers: Passionate 6th graders who are supported by energy experts in their respective fields.

Brief overview: This film follows a group of passionate and curious 6th graders who take matters into their own hands and take action to address global warming.   They share their personal opinions on the topic along with the help of variety of professionals (Source).  It’s great to see the younger generation taking a stand and getting involved!

View the video here!  

Hope for a Change: Renewable Energy

Producer: John Wilson

Key speakers: Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Hermann Scheer, Chris Turner, Thomas Dresel

Brief overview:  This documentary looks at how communities and people like you and I, who have already started to use renewable energy technologies, provide hope for the future in the sense that we can use alternative energy sources to survive (Source).

Watch the first of four parts here!

Here Comes the Sun

Producer: Rob van Hattum

Key speakers: Various solar energy experts

Brief Overview: Rob van Hattum takes us into the world of solar energy in this informative documentary.  This film places an emphasis on the solar energy industry and the strides it has made in recent years to become a leading force in the renewable energy sector (Source).

Watch the video here!

The Gospel of Green

Written by: Bob McKeown

Producer: Neil Docherty

Key speakers: Hermannn Scheer

Brief overview: This documentary follows a team who travels to Germany to learn how the country is at the forefront of using renewable energy technologies and how they are successful.  The team tries to determine how Canada can also achieve this high level of success with renewable energy (Source).

Here is the link to watch the full documentary:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Your One-Stop-Shop for Everything Green!

We've updated our website with a wealth of knowledge on everything green to help you understand the green era better!  Below is just some of what you can now find at with much more to come in the near future.

The who, what, why, where, when, and how of green!
Green Energy Overview Green is everywhere. Stemming from a growing awareness of the limit of fossil fuels and our effect on Earth, words such as renewable, sustainable, carbon-neutral, emission-free, % recycled, certified organic, and eco-friendly are in our daily vocabulary and everything we do. Reusable bags, energy efficient lighting, paperless billing, and hybrid vehicles are just a few of the many green initiatives well underway throughout the world. 
Renewable energy is at the forefront of global reform offering a cleaner solution to one of the world's largest problems. Through lower emissions and often smaller environmental footprints, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass, and even ocean power are catching the attention of individuals and businesses alike. For the first time in history green energy has the support of world leaders, major financial institutions, and government bodies necessary to make its ultimate success possible...

Fast Facts broken down into renewable technologies, easy to find and fun to learn!
Did you know…? 
By early 2011, approximately 118 countries had policies in place to support the development of renewable energy, more than doubling the 2005 estimate of 55. 
Fossil fuels benefit from receiving 12 times the amount of subsidies than that received by renewables. 
In 5 years, Portugal increased its electric grid use of renewables from 15% to 45%. 
Marine Facts 
Beginning to generate power of the French coast in 1966, the 240 megawatt La Rance tidal barrage is still operating and produces a total of 600 gigawatts per hour per year...
Green Developments

How transportation, lighting, and everyday items have evolved towards green and where they may lead!
Hybrid Vehicles 
Providing an easy transition towards more efficient and eco-friendly transportation, hybrid vehicles have been able to capture a noticeable market share in the past few years.  Reaching almost 1,000,000 sales globally in 2010, the presence of hybrid vehicles is constantly growing... 

Green Policies

A current overview of the legislation enacted to promote green!
Green Policies Overview 
A new approach to business favours social enterprise and philanthropy; companies are beginning to shift their focus towards investments that are sustainable and generate long-term shared value. Enterprise capital is an important vehicle for driving this social development.  Using capital to fund sustainable projects can generate consistent social and economic growth, as the incentives of the investors, the venture capital firm, and the local partners all align.  The combination of sustainability and long-term income generation from projects can benefit all...

Everything you could need to know about  wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass, and ocean power including an overview, power generation, technology, capacity, industry, cost, and more!
Wind Power Overview The capacity for global wind energy is enormous and, as far as power generation from wind energy goes, it is clean and emission free. Whether to propel a ship forward by filling its sails or crushing millet by rotating a windmill, humanity has been finding innovative ways to harness the power of wind energy for thousands of years. Only in the last couple of decades, however, has wind energy production really begun to gain momentum. With an average annual growth rate of 27% from 2005 to 2010, wind power is now significantly more prominent in the energy consumption makeup of many countries...
 Solar Power Generation 
Solar applications are largely considered either passive or active. An active application will harness solar energy in a controlled manner, such as a photovoltaic cell or solar thermal collector. Passive applications on the other hand use well-designed structures, which make optimal use of the sun's energy. An example could include a building that allows in ample sunlight. The light will circulate throughout and heat the building naturally based on the building's architectural design.
Today, solar energy is converted into electricity using either photovoltaics (PV) or concentrated solar power (CSP).  PVs will convert the sun's energy into electricity directly using cells containing semiconductors, whilst CSPs have an indirect approach of focusing the sun's energy in order to boil water, which will drive a heat/thermal engine (e.g. Stirling engine) in order to power a generator...

If there's anything you can't find be sure to try our Search option in the top left corner!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

How to Plan an ECO-FEST

Every #TeacherTuesday we search for ways to help teachers and parents educate children on the environment and the impact they can have. This week we were delighted to come across the idea of ECO-FEST from Eco Mall.

ECO-FEST is a fun-filled day of activities designed to excite, educate, and inspire! It can be held at your school or another public location and can have as many projects and activities as you like, just be creative and don't hold back!

Invite all area non-profit environmental organizations to set up booths. The goal is to make the public aware of the organizations that work every day on environmental issues, to educate and excite children, and to give people ideas on how they can be more involved.

Organize student exhibits on Solar energy, gardening, composting, recycling, pollution (home and outside), etc.

Set up an "ART" shop where kids can build things out of "recycled" materials. Also, have on display, functional and practical things that can be made out of recycled materials, such as bird feeders.

Have a gardening center where children can plant a seed to take home and people can ask gardening questions of Master Gardeners. Set up a compost demonstration and hold a plant sale.

Have an Eco-Health section that would focus on sun safety, healthy nutrition, etc.

Have games for kids to play made from recycled materials, i.e. bowling (made from soda bottles).

Sell healthy snacks, organic fruit and juice drinks instead of typical concession snacks.

Have separate bins for garbage and recyclable garbage.

Have entertainment.

Kids Speak: Set up an "open mike" where children can give 1-3 minute presentations on environmental issues.

Planet Earth Mural: Pick a theme and let the children paint or use sidewalk chalk.

Have an "environmental quote" wall. Post quotes by great thinkers and then invite children to write their own quotes and add them to the wall.

Have an environmental poster contest.

Invite local celebrities.

Invite the local press.

Print a directory of local environmental groups and websites to pass out to the attendees.

A percentage of the proceeds can go to an environmental organization that the children vote on.

Remember, Earth Day is every day. So, an event like this can be held any time of the year. Start planning the fun now!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Restoring the Power

How Poverty Stricken Nations Can Recapture Independence & Wealth Through Sustainable Energy

In early 2011 when the UN classified internet access as a basic human right, it became evident that the one out of every five people on this planet who live without electricity lack this privilege. Among those without electricity, it is 80% likely that they live in a rural area as these areas lay outside the reach of the expansive energy grid systems that fuel our urban centres.

To solve their energy problems, people without electricity often burn up whatever fuel source is around them which causes damage to both the environment and their own health. Most people living without electricity have little means to change their situation, as they primarily originate from the poverty stricken nations in Sub-Saharan Africa & South Asia.

Since most electrically bereft people live in rural areas, they must either be given the needs to manufacture energy where they are or be connected to nearby urban power grids, often at a significant cost. The flexibility of renewable energies as a power source is an aid that must be used to not only liberate but also sustain the people of developing nations.

Sub-Saharan Africa & Southern Asia are some of the most solar drenched areas on the planet which could facilitate localized energy production operations. With a fully developed solar energy market, impoverished rural people could establish their own personal power supply with the option to contribute to any electrical grid should they chose to connect with them. Though high start-up costs have limited big scale investment in third world solar energy systems, non-profits like the Solar Electric Light Fund are investing in exemplary projects across the world that enhances both the health and income of the people in those communities.

Click here to read an article on the Solar Electric Light Fund’s initiatives in Africa

Energy for Opportunities

Canadian based non-profit Energy for Opportunities (EFO) was founded in 2008 and already boasts multiple solar operations that have made an enormous impact in the lives of West Africans.

Operating out of Freetown, Sierra Leone, EFO installs solar stations in community buildings like governments and hospitals using financial aid from multiple donors, like the UN Population Fund & Engineers Without Borders. EFO doesn’t just introduce electricity into the lives of rural Africans, but prosperity and education too. Thorough rigorous training in solar maintenance, citizens of these nations are provided an educational opportunity and the accompanying job-security as a solar maintenance worker.

EFO has illustrated through its African projects that ridding the planet of its carbon emissions, by replacing kerosene and disposable batteries with panels that tap into the abundant radiance of the sun, is both a noble and profitable direction for the world to follow.
Click here to hear testimonials about how Energy For Opportunities has impacted the lives of Africans.

Solar Soda Bottles

Watch how, with no electricity, these small villages are bringing light to where there was none:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day! - Switchboard’s blog about recent energy trends - IEA’s electricity access - Wired’s Report of new UN regulations - Earth Trend’s report on electricity access – Scientific American’s Report on developing countries electricity gap 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states: "[The] Earth’s atmosphere isn’t the only victim of burning fossil fuels. About a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the earth’s oceans, where they’re having an impact that’s just starting to be understood."

Watch as this incredible video explores the startling phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may soon challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years.

"Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that this excess CO2 is actually changing the chemistry of the sea and proving harmful for many forms of marine life. This process is known as ocean acidification.
A more acidic ocean could wipe out species, disrupt the food web and impact fishing, tourism and any other human endeavor that relies on the sea.
The change is happening fast -- and it will take fast action to slow or stop it. Over the last 250 years, oceans have absorbed 530 billion tons of CO2, triggering a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity.
Before people started burning coal and oil, ocean pH had been relatively stable for the previous 20 million years. But researchers predict that if carbon emissions continue at their current rate, ocean acidity will more than double by 2100.
The polar regions will be the first to experience changes. Projections show that the Southern Ocean around Antarctica will actually become corrosive by 2050."