Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

The Truth About Travel: What’s Next?

Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam. Courtesy of David McKelvey/ Flickr Creative Commons

Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam. Courtesy of David McKelvey/ Flickr Creative Commons

Ecotourism is a phenomenon that has grown substantially in the last thirty years. It has reached countries all around the world from Central and South America to Asia. And with its growth has come a growing interest in whether or not ecotourism is as successful as it is thought to be.

Ecotourism grew from being just about protection of the environment to include protection of the local communities. But there has been the potential of actually doing more harm than good in that sense. A case study by Mike Stone and Geoffrey Wall was done on ecotourism in Hainan, China, where a park intended for conservation was built. According to their study, “at least one quarter of residents surveyed indicated that the park has had no effect or only negative effects (mainly in terms of lost jobs and land) on their lives.” The residents tend to be the ones that suffer when ecotourism becomes more prominent in the community, even if it is intended to help them. Continue reading

Turbulence for Turbines—Gone with the Prospect for Wind?

Vacationing at the beach always provokes amazing sensory experiences. Everything about lounging in the sand soaking up sunshine, hearing waves crash along the shore, feeling a gentle breeze, and watching a sunset infused with citrus colors relaxes the mind, body, and soul. Now picture an arc of sparkling white turbines dotting the horizon and reflecting the setting sun, their blades twirling as waves tumble below. The image in itself is striking, made only more majestic by the prospect of a clean energy future. The ability to build turbines that each produce 6 megawatts of clean energy in offshore locations seems unreal. Wind capturing technology has made incredible strides since grain-grinding mills first became widespread, but something is holding it back from reaching its potential.

offshore turbines at sunset

“Row Of Turbine Windmills Offshore At Sunset,” Desktop Nexus 2014

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Machinations on Machines: Turbines Take the Stand in Politics

The energy market has always been at the forefront of politics, though recent arguments seem like no more than a pissing match between the fossil fuel industry and everyone else. Many decisions have been made not for the overall pros or cons of a particular sector, but based on who can raise more funding—and more hell—in Washington.


Subsidies, Tax-breaks, and the Obama Administration
obama with turbinesThe Obama administration has made it a point to support and promote renewable energy resources. In 2012, President Obama’s campaign focused on wind energy as a realistic and effective supplier of power for states like Iowa and Colorado, promising to extend a renewable energy production tax credit while he was in office. Now, in 2014, over $14 billion has been granted to wind energy contractors since 2009, either in the form of this production tax credit, or as part of a renewable energy subsidy afforded by Obama’s stimulus package.

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What You Don’t Know About Energy Efficiency

Buildings dominate the Manhattan Skyline and are responsible for approximately 80% of NYC’s carbon emissions (PlaNYC)


Across the global landscape of energy consumption, buildings ranging from single-family homes to corporate sky scrapers dominate as the most energy intensive sector.  In New York City alone, buildings account for nearly 80% of the city’s carbon emissions.  For this reason, communities across the globe are racing to improve their building designs to cut energy consumption—and they are doing so by looking at and learning from leaders in sustainable design.

Energy Star was founded by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992

In the U.S., buildings are generally rated on their sustainability using two classification methodologies—the LEED and Energy Star Rating Systems.  The LEED cetification program developed by the US Green Building Council grades buildings on their sustainability potential by examining the efficiency of the building’s systems and infrastructure, granting medals in different levels including general certification, silver, gold, and platinum. On the other hand, the Energy Star Program was developed by the EPA benchmarks buildings based on how each building consumes energy (also known as operational efficiency) and rates each building with a score between 1 to 100.  For it’s ability to quantify energy efficiency across the board, Energy Star has been the primary benchmarking tool by most including New York City local government, which passed Local Law 87 which required all buildings over 50,000 sqft in NYC to be benchmarked with a Energy Star Rating & it’s data made available to the public.

However as of today, Energy Star only included a limited demographic of building-type such as commercial, residential, and institutional buildings.  Museums and art galleries do not qualify for Energy Star evaluation, which has significantly obstructed energy efficiency growth in the museum sphere.

Furthermore, the lack of legislation pressure and indifference of museum decisionmakers has stagnated major infrastructural change to the ways museums are operated through the years, missing opportunities to significantly reduce energy consumption in the spaces and make the best of the millions of dollars spent developing the U.S. art scene each year.

Without the availability of comparison data and transparency in energy efficient operating practices, museum’s practices for operating their buildings have remained isolated and kept from the larger buildings community, hindering potential for efficiency improvement within this demographic of commercial buildings. Facilities managers and operators of large art museum spaces have no option but to operate these spaces based on their best guesses, missing out on opportunities for emissions and financial reductions through collaborating with facilities operators in similar spaces.

This blog series will explore the overall importance of building efficiency in general and how art museum spaces have been an overlooked demographic of building efficiency.  First, we’ll identify the identify the systems within these spaces that have potential become more efficient, and how the optimization of these systems may be hindered by spatial requirements and artwork preservation.  From there, we’ll look at case studies various museums across the world as well as an exclusive with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  In the final part, we’ll bring everything together by discussing sustainability innovation in the global art museum community as well as the existing climate of efficiency legislation for museum buildings.