The month of June marks World Environment Day, World Ocean Day, and Global Wind
Day – three environmentally conscious days whose main purpose is to spread awareness of environmental issues taking place in today’s world. The Gulf oil spill is a huge reminder that now is the time to invest, innovate, and utilize specific renewable energy technologies that can reduce our dependency on oil consumption and preserve our environment.
•Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) is a national trade association that is “dedicated to promoting marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies from clean, renewable ocean resources.” They incorporate over 40 members, some of which are literally “turning the tide” when it comes to renewable energy by using the known green technique of harnessing ocean waves and currents to produce energy.
• Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) is doing this is via their PowerBuoy 40 that acts as a “wave energy converter” while submerged.
• The Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) is installing power systems all along the Gulf Stream’s ocean currents (which has 21,000 times the energy of Niagara Falls). With the constant flow of the Gulf Stream, if ORPC harnesses just 1/1000 of the Gulf’s renewable energy that would still be enough to power up to 7 million homes.
Wave power technology, while underused, has been a known technology, for years. However, a future green source with a lot of potential can be found in algae within the ocean. Using algae as a source of energy is a new ideology but many believe them to be “the ultimate in renewable energy”. Half of algae’s weight is based off of oil, which can be made into bio-fuel that could be used on anything from cars to airplanes. Considering that there over 65,000 known algae species this could potentially be a big time future energy source.
The future of green energy depends upon the ability to use it efficiently. This means that everything from cars to building structures would need to be much more efficient to require less consumption. Nissan set the benchmark in the auto industry by skipping the gasoline engine altogether and going straight to the fully electric LEAF. Companies like Globetrotters Engineering Corporation (a Chicago based architecture company founded by Niranjan Shah known for their custom LEED solutions), Wells Fargo (which built an office tower that is not only LEED approved but saves up to 5 million kWh a year), and Kubala-Washatko Architects & Boldt Construction (which actually built the first ever LEED-platinum certified, carbon neutral building) are setting the standard for LEED design.
Since the inception of LEED certification, it took several years for the first building to reach platinum certification. Now, it is something that architects strive for. For many projects government incentives are available for businesses that reach LEED certification. Niranjan Shah realized that the LEED benchmark is the future of architecture and that creating structures that benefit from renewable energy just makes common sense. He proves that success can coincide with environmental friendliness. Hopefully, in upcoming years we’ll see LEED platinum certification become the standard.
After the oil spill in the Gulf it’s clear to see that now, more than ever, protecting our oceans stands for something much greater. By saving our oceans, we are making a commitment to the preservation of our natural resources, our wildlife, and our humanity. Through the promise and development of a sustainable, renewable energy future, we can follow a new path which will redefine the meaning of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Written by Marcus Reyes
Marcus Reyes studied public policy with a focus on energy research and environmental
sustainability. He is an advocate of clean energy technology and contributes written work to the blogosphere related to energy conservation and environmental preservation. PowerBuoy 40 – CNN Editorial Feb 26, 2010
Algae: “The ultimate in renewable energy” – CNN Tech Editorial Globetrotters Engineering Corporation Niranjan Shah – GEC CEO Niranjan Shah Twitter Feed
First LEED Platinum Certified Carbon Neutral Building Niranjan Shah – Live Journal