Saturday, April 03, 2010

Computer reconfigurable classroom

Animated Work Environment at Clemson UniversityControl Freaks (Russell Fortmeyer, Architectural Record, March 2010) claims that pervasive computer sensors and controls will radically reshape our approach to environmental controls in buildings, architecture more generally and city planning. One extreme example given is a computerised classroom which literally changes shape in response to the needs of the students. The Clemson University "Animated Work Environment" has proximity sensors to detect what the users are doing, it then adjusts not only the lighting but uses motors to move panels suspended above and around the users. In another example computer controlled water jets in the foyer of the Digital Water Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain automatically detect someone approaching and switch off enough of the water curtain to let them pass.

The Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne has a set of programmable water jets in the foyer. However, these are separated from the guests and are used with a pre-programmed music and light show with no interaction with the environment and no attempt to use the for environmental conditioning.

Having motor controlled panels as in the Clemson University system looks problematic. Apart from the high cost of installation, there would be issues of maintenance and safety. Perhaps a more feasible way to reconfigure a workplace or classroom is with lighting. Low cost LED computer controlled red - blue - green lights are now becoming affordable. These have been used on new airliners, such as the Boeing 787, to allow the lighting of the cabin to be reconfigured depending on the phase of the flight and the outside conditions. This allows, for example, a warmer sunrise colour to be used to wake the passengers, after a long flight.

In the classroom the programmable lights could be used to optically reconfigure the shape of the room. For an intimate face-to-face discussion the room could be made round by dimming the lighting in the corners. For a traditional lecture, the room could be made fan shaped with the lecturer brightly lit at the apex. For individual work, each student workstation could be surrounded by a darkened space, increasing the sense of separation. This could be done at relatively low cost,m with no moving parts and no maintenance (the LED lights have a lifetime of about 15 years, at least equal to the life of a classroom).

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Invitation to the O'Connor Wetland Planting Day, 14 March 2010

The ACT Government has invited the community to help plant native plants at the Banksia St O'Connor Wetland in Canberra, 9am - 12 noon, Sunday 14 March 2010. There is another wetland in David Street (behind the shops) across the road from City Edge, where my Smart Apartment is.
Banksia St O'Connor Wetland
9am - 12
Sunday 14 March 2010

Bring sturdy shoes, hand tools, buckets and a wheelbarrow & a rake if
you have one.

*Edwina Robinson*
Urban Waterways Coordinator
Sustainability Programs
Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy & Water
6207 5520/ 0466 153 641

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

How do we sleep while our bats are burning?

One of the uses for the Internet is to answer odd questions. As an example has anyone done the obvious parody of the Minister for Environment's difficulties with roof insulation: "How do we sleep while our batts are burning"? It turns out there are variations: "How Can He Sleep ...", "HOW CAN YOU SLEEP...", "How do you sleep... ". These are all parodies of "Beds Are Burning" sung by the Minister when with the band Midnight Oil, on the album Diesel & Dust (1987).

More seriously, there are problems with government policies to deal with climate change which select specific technologies. This is both a political problem for the government and a problem of efficient allocation of resources for the community. Due to the need to provide a quick economic stimulus, the Australian Government decided to subsidise the installation of insulation in domestic dwellings with its Home Insulation Program. This seemed a sensible policy. However, this resulted in a very large demand for insulation and a tendency for less well trained installers. Even if there were no more than the usual number of problems with insulation, because this is being done under a specific government program, their is a political cost of the government.

An alternative strategy would be to require a level of energy efficiency for new buildings. Another strategy would be a carbon tax or trading scheme. These would have the effect of influencing householders decision making. But it would be up to the householder to decide how to achieve the needed energy efficiency or deal with the cost of energy. It would not be up to the government to have to have policies and guidelines for every detailed decision by a householder, nor risk the political consequences of each decision. However, these schemes would not have an immediate effect, as was needed by the stimulus package.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Canberra Constructed Wetlands

The ACT Government is seeking community input into the design of wetlands at Dickson and Lyneham. Workshops are being held on 3 and 4 February 2010:

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Environment Department Wasting Energy on Letters

On 8 January I sent an email message to the Minster for Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts suggesting Internet enhanced meetings for post-Copenhagen climate change negotiations. Today I received reply from the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services. This anonymous message had a facsimile image of a letter attached (signed with an unreadable signature). The letter thanked me for my email and said my letter (I didn't send them a letter) had been referred to the Minister for Climate Change.

The attached letter was in the form of an image. The resulting file was about 100 times larger than it need be and would not be readable by those with limited vision. Government guidelines (and Australian law) require services to be provided in a way does not discriminate against people with a disability, including the blind. Routinely generating correspondence in the form of an image may constitute unlawful discrimination.

If communication was necessary (which it wasn't) all that was needed was a brief email. This would have been more readable and would used much few resources.

The Ministerial and parliamentary services handled about 20,000 items of ministerial correspondence last year. Assuming that a message similar to the one I got (about 40 kbytes of unnecessary data) was sent to each, that represents about 800 Mbytes of data. As this is correspondence the department will need to keep a copy on file for some years, wasting resources (including greenhouse gas causing energy) and increasing costs. So the Department's response to my suggestion for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been to increase theirs.

The Australian Government has some excellent guidelines on how to handle communications (some of which I helped write). The Ministerial and Parliamentary Services of the Australian Department of Environment perhaps should read some of them.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Good Business Register

The Sydney based St James Ethics Centre has set up an online Good Business Register, funded by the Federal Government. Businesses of any size can create a Responsible Business Practice Profile. I registered my one person micro-business and detailed how I give away materials on web design for the disabled and Green ICT.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Insulating Paint Additive

Last week I purchased a packet of "Thermilate" insulating paint additive. This cost AU$43.64 from The Natural Pain Place in Newton Sydney. The packet holds about one litre of white power and is intended to be added to four litres of paint. The power consists of what are claimed to be small hollow ceramic spheres, which contain a partial vacuum and therefore have a high insulation value. The effectiveness of this material for insulation has been called into question, but my intention was to try using the reflective properties of the material for a projection screen painted onto a wall. This was after the failure of my attempt using White Knight "Reflect-All" light reflective paint.

However, Christmas intervened before I could try the paint as a screen. I had far more of the paint additive than needed for tests. There was a small concrete deck to be painted before a Christmas party, and the additive was gritty, so I used some of it as a non-slip additive for the deck paint.

The material has a chalky texture and I was worried it would not mix well with the oil based heavy duty deck paint I was using. But it mixed in easily. The resulting paint was of a different consistency with the grit clearly visible in the paint.

The paint when on well using an ordinary roller. However, when it dried there were white chalky streaks visible in the high gloss dark green paint, showing the individual roller marks. Also the paint was a noticeably lighter colour that the original. The paint also had a slight white sheen, which was not really wanted for a deck, but indicates it may work well for a projections screen.

I found that by using a cross hatch pattern with the roller for a second coat, I was able to get an acceptable finish with the paint. The white chalky patches were still visible, but broken up in a random pattern were aesthetically pleasing on the slightly rough finish of the concrete deck. Glossy dark green paint must be about the hardest to hide the white additive in and, if used with typical a semi-mat off white paint, the additive should not be visible.

The additive provided a very good non-slip surface and is comparable in price to the grit additives sold for paint. The surface felt less cold than untreated paint on the same concrete, suggesting that the additive has some insulating effect.

The insulation claims for the material appear excessive and not credible. However, tere have been some independent tests which suggest some value for the material. Assuming the packet contains 1 litre of power, dispersed in 4 litres of paint this would cover about 10 square metres of wall (assuming two coats), forming a layer about 0.1 mm thick. The spheres would have to have exceptional insulating properties for a layer this thin to have a insulating value comparable to conventional insulation, which is hundreds of times thicker.

However, in situations where no conventional insulation can be installed, the paint may have some value, as discussed in Paul Teather's 2004 thesis: "A study of Ceramic Microsphere Insulation with a consideration of the wider implications". Applying insulation is a complex business, whereas adding the powder to paint is not. As an example if there is an uninsulated solid brick or concrete wall, any insulation would be better than none. However, it is not clear if this additive is much more effective than just a thicker layer of paint.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

e-Book on Research Integration

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane will launch their new book "Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods" 26 November 2009 in Canberra. The whole book is already available online for free as a very well formatted set of web pages, for mobile devices (scoring a very good 80/100 on the W3C Mobile OK Test) , in PDF chapter by chapter and as one file. It is also available as a conventional printed paperback.

As to the content, these are techniques which could be applied from areas ranging from planning what sort of weapons systems to buy, to how to deal with natural disasters. I have used such automated tools at the Defence Department in considering systems and the Sahana open source disaster management system project is planning to incorporate Large Groups Making Decisions In Extreme Events.

University Co-operative Bookshop Limited

The ANU Co-op Bookshop and the ANU E Press wish to invite you to
the launch of David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane’s book
Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods.

Date: Thursday, 26th November 2009

Time: 5pm for a 5:30pm start

Location: The Co-op Bookshop, Bldg 17, Union Court, Canberra, ACT 0200
The book will be launched by Professor Ted Lefroy, Director of the Centre for Environment at the University of Tasmania. Ted is also a Director of Land & Water Australia.

Dr Michael Robinson, CEO of Land & Water Australia, will officiate.
The launch is co-sponsored by Land & Water Australia and the Drug Policy Modelling Program, which funded the research underpinning the book.
RSVP: or (02) 6249 6244 by 24th November 2009.

Colleagues & guests welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods

David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer, Peter Deane

ISBN 9781921536748 $24.95 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 9781921536755 (Online)
Published August 2009

Research on real-world problems—like restoration of wetlands, the needs of the elderly, effective disaster response and the future of the airline industry—requires expert knowledge from a range of disciplines, as well as from stakeholders affected by the problem and those in a position to do something about it. This book charts new territory in taking a systematic approach to research integration using dialogue methods to bring together multiple perspectives. It links specific dialogue methods to particular research integration tasks.

Fourteen dialogue methods for research integration are classified into two groups:

1. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgements

2. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values.

The methods are illustrated by case studies from four research areas: the environment, public health, security and technological innovation.

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Acknowledgments and author contributions
1. Introduction
2. Using the dialogue methods in this book
Identifying and classifying the dialogue methods
I. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments:
II. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values:
Applying the dialogue methods in this book
Preparing to use a dialogue method
Areas not covered in this book
How to read this book
3. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments
Citizens’ jury
Consensus conference
Consensus development panel
Delphi technique
Future search conference
Most significant change technique
Nominal group technique
Open space technology
Scenario planning
Soft systems methodology
4. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem
Integrating visions
Integrating world views
Integrating interests
Integrating values
Appreciative inquiry: integrating visions
Strategic assumption surfacing and testing: integrating world views
Principled negotiation: integrating interests
Ethical matrix: integrating values
5. Differentiating between the dialogue methods
6. Conclusions
Learning from failure
Other research areas
An invitation to contribute
Appendix 1
Gabriele Bammer
Rationale for developing I2S
The four cornerstones of I2S
Focusing on integrating disciplinary and practice (stakeholder) knowledge
Appendix 2
Tool kits that include dialogue methods
Appendix 3

Chapter 1: Introduction

Research integration is the process of improving the understanding of real-world problems by synthesising relevant knowledge from diverse disciplines and stakeholders. Methods for undertaking research integration have not, however, been well developed or explained. Here, we show how 14 methods developed for dialogue can be useful for research integration. What makes this book unique is that we tease apart components of research integration and match them to particular methods.

Research integration is essential for effectively investigating real-world problems. Such investigation requires bringing together the insights of different disciplines. For example, examination of the impacts of the encroachment of housing on farm and bushland on the fringes of cities can benefit from the expertise of ecologists, economists, hydrologists, sociologists, soil scientists, demographers and so on. Similarly, to comprehensively model the impact of the covert release of an infectious disease agent on a major city requires input from, among others, communicable disease epidemiologists, statistical modellers, urban geographers, psychologists and legal experts....

From:Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods, byDavid McDonald, Gabriele Bammer & Peter Deane, ANU Press, 2009

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition

glass sculptureThe Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition runs 6 December 2009 to 30 January 2010 at the Leichhardt Library in Sydney.
Eco-Annandale 2010 Exhibition
6 December 2009 to 30 January 2010
Leichhardt Library, Piazza Level, Italian Forum 23 Norton St, Leichhardt

Monday-Friday:9.30am-8pm Saturday:9.30am-4pm Sunday:10am-4pm
  • Night Market: 5.30-7.30pm Wednesday 9th December 2009.
  • Night Market: 5.30-7.30pm Wednesday 16th December 2009.

Forestry and farming in the 18th and 19th Centuries, followed by residential and industry development denuded Annandale of most of its Local Provenance vegetation.

However, since 1995 a dedicated group of locals, who form the Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery have propagated and reintroduced some of the plants which would have thrived in Annandale in earlier times. As a result of the reintroduction of this local provenance vegetation, native birds and animals which rely on these plants for food have followed. Insects, lizards and birds that feed on the lizards, insects and plants have established themselves in Annandale and provide the diversity of sounds in the dawn chorus.

A diversity of plants and animals provides security for food and air quality in an era of climate change. The diversity of species and genetic material means that particular plants may survive and others will die under new conditions. These plants enrich and secure the soil, filter the air we breathe and transpire the water that falls as rain in our dams and on our crops. The wider the range of plants the greater the chance is that there will be some which will thrive in new climatic conditions.

Plants absorb CO2 in the process of photosynthesis and are a natural Carbon Sink, making them an important in reducing Global Warming.

Plants such as Mangroves stabilize foreshores and mountainsides and protect against erosion and landslides, making them critical to mitigating the effects of rising sea levels due to Climate Change.

The focus of works in the Eco-Annandale 2010 exhibition (December 2009 and January 2010) will be Annandale's biodiversity. Entry to the exhibition is Free.

Marghanita da Cruz, Curator of Eco-Annandale.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sustainability In The Pub Sydney

Sydney Environmental Educators Network is holding "Sustainability In The Pub", in Sydney, 21 October, 6.30pm. These are fun events.
The Sydney Environmental Educators Network invites you to join us for Sustainability In The Pub in October - an evening of ideas, discussion and sharing for environmental educators.

Wednesday 21 October, 6.30pm start.


Agincourt Hotel, cnr George and Harris Street Sydney.
FREE, No RSVP required.

"Choice, Imagination and Sustainability"

We all know that climate change is probably the biggest threat to mankind ever, but often trying to change people's thinking and behaviour creates the opposite effect.

How do we avoid the self righteous, evangelistic approach?
How do we influence people without being didactic?
How do we tap into people's deeper needs and aspirations?

In this discussion with two innovative environmental educators, Thor Blomfield and Kylee Ingram explore creative approaches to a more sustainable future.

Thor Blomfield co-founded Leapfish Environmental Education 6 years ago and since has created a range of effective arts based programs. Kylee Ingram established Australian Documentaries 7 years ago which partners with NGOs and the government sector to create media for sustainability and positive change.

Kind regards,


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Waterless Video Urinal

The award for the most eye-catching product at the DesignBUILD 2009 exhibition would have to be Urimat's Waterless Video Urinal. This is a waterless urinal, much like others used to save water in public buildings but with a flat area at the top facing the user. This flat area can be used to fit a 7 inch, wide format video screen for advertising or information messages. This is one of the more imaginative forms of digital signage I have seen.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Australian e-waste policy

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts released a consultation paper on a National Waste Policy 7 April 2009. The paper is 62 pages long in a 397 Kbyte PDF or 1.3 Mb RTF file. The paper has 19 references to "e-waste" electronic waste as from computers and telecommunications equipment. Section 10 of the report asks: "What, if any, changes are needed to the way e-waste is managed?" and points out that some local governments have e-waste collections.

10. Electronic waste

This section explores the issue of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) and its management as a growing part of the waste stream.

Electronic waste or e-waste is discarded electronic or electrical equipment. It typically includes televisions, video and DVD players, stereos, mobile phones, computers, photocopiers, fax machines, printers as well as cartridges, batteries and peripheral devices associated with the equipment. E-waste consists predominantly of metals and plastics with some components having an economic value if recycled and some containing hazardous substances (which may also be valuable) (see Table 5).There is some community concern with the practice of landfilling electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). This may be because such waste contains hazardous substances, but also because of the relatively short life of these products, the desire not to waste the resources embodied in the waste, and the increasing volume going to landfill.

Table 5: Key materials in electrical and electronic equipment

ComponentEquipmentSubstances of concernRecyclable materials

Cathode ray tube

Personal computer monitor, television

Lead, antimony, mercury, phosphors


Glass screens

Computer monitors, televisions, microwaves


Liquid crystal display

Notebook, laptop, mobile phone, some desktop computers



Circuit board

Telephone, personal computer, notebook, laptop, television, radio, audio amplifier, CD/DVD player, handheld games machines, mobile phones

Lead, beryllium, antimony, Brominated flame retardants, cadmium, arsenic





Telephone, personal computer, laptop, mobile phone, handheld games machines

Lead, lithium, cadmium, mercury





Power or external cables

Most electronic and electrical equipment



Plastic housing

Most electronic and electrical equipment

Brominated flame retardants


(Based on WEEE and Hazardous Waste, A report for DEFRA, March 2004 by AEA Technology. The report defines WEEE as waste from electrical and electronic equipment. DEFRA is the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.)

E-waste is a growing component of the waste stream. In 2005 an estimated 697,000 tonnes of electronic equipment was consumed with approximately 312,930 tonnes of electronic equipment disposed of to landfill.1 It is estimated that approximately

570,900 computers are disposed of annually in Australia, with only a quarter being recycled. Current annual disposal of televisions is around 350,000 units.

Figure 7: TVs landfilled 2000–2005

(Hyder Consulting, 2008)

Data for the years 2004 and 2005 is only available in aggregated format.Figure omitted

Figure 8: Computers landfilled 1998–2008

(Hyder Consulting, 2008)

Figure omitted

In 2007–08 approximately 8.87 million mobile phone units were imported into Australia, an increase of 1.48 million from 2006–07 (7.39 million).2 For televisions, Hyder Consulting reported an 18 per cent increase in sales from 2003 to 2004.3 An

estimated 3.5 million computers were purchased in Australia in 2005, including units that were assembled locally from imported parts.4

The rapid growth in e-waste is driven by factors including consumer demand to have the latest equipment, the need to upgrade systems to accommodate new software, the rate of technological change, the short lifespan and technical obsolescence of the equipment and increasing affordability.There are limited options for the public to recycle domestic e-waste. Most e-waste is disposed of to landfill, while the cost for recycling of e-waste is carried primarily by those consumers who take the initiative to recycle their computers through a recycling centre. The potential long-term costs arising from landfilled e-waste, including health and environmental costs from the possible leaching of contaminants from e-waste into the environment, are likely to be carried by the community.A number of computer recyclers operate in Australia, some offer pick-up services and the majority charge a fee for recycling. Some local councils hold collection days for end-of-life computer equipment and either stock pile the waste or send it to recyclers. There are a number of voluntary initiatives for recycling e-waste, including recycling mobile phones through Mobile Muster (, Cartridges for Planet Ark ( and the computer industry and Victorian Government partnership to run the Byteback computer recycling scheme ( the Australian Capital Territory is the only state or territory to have regulation governing the domestic management of e-waste, placing a levy on the disposal of televisions and computers at landfill sites. South Australia is in the process of consulting on legislation to ban computer monitors and televisions from landfills, with a ban on all other electrical or electronic equipment within three years. The New South Wales Government has also identified computers, televisions, mobile phones and “other electricals” as “wastes of concern” and is investigating product stewardship arrangements.The Environment Protection and Heritage Council is examining options to deal with end-of-life televisions and computers. Among the options are proposals from both the television and computer industries for product stewardship schemes. The industry-proposed product stewardship schemes would place a charge on eligible new product that would then be used to pay for recycling at the end of its life (an advance recycling fee).

Consultation question

  1. What, if any, changes are needed to provide a national approach to the way e-waste is managed?

1 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008, p.68

2 Mobile Muster 2007–08 Annual Report, p.6

3 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008 p.53 and 54

4 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008, p.49

From: "A National Waste Policy: Managing Waste to 2020", Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts released the consultation paper, 7 April 2009

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Broadband for a sustainable environment

The winning papers in the Eckermann-TJA 2009 sustainability challenge are now available: Broadband and the sustainable use of water resources (Saleem, Wicks and Dassanayake ) , Vehicle to grid using broadband communications (Dennis and Thompson ), Leveraging advances in mobile broadband technology to improve environmental sustainability (Claussen, Ho and Pivit). This is an annual award for the best papers on how to use telecommunications for environmental benefit. The papers are published by the Australian Computer Society.

Syed K Saleem, Byron Wicks, Kithsiri B Dassanayake
DOI: 10.2104/tja09002

Agriculture accounts for more than seventy percent of total fresh water consumption. Water use efficiency in the industry is often less than fifty percent. A changing climate and increasing competition for fresh water are stressing water supplies globally and limiting the scope for further expansion of agriculture to meet growing food production requirements. This situation is threatening the economic viability of many agricultural regions both in Australia and around the globe. It is a national imperative to develop solutions that will sustain this vital industry in the future.

Improving water use efficiency through better irrigation practices is one method for coping with these challenges. Costs associated with capital outlays and engineering complexity are barriers to widespread adoption of efficient irrigation technologies. This paper presents a platform that leverages broadband communication networks to reduce these barriers to technology adoption and thereby vastly improve water use efficiency in agriculture. Results from recent field trials are presented that demonstrate increases in water productivity in dairy pasture and horticultural production.

Mike Dennis, Bethany Thompson
DOI: 10.2104/tja09003

The impending mass electrification of road transport, driven by concerns for climate change and sustainability, enables an opportunity to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions from passenger vehicles and to simultaneously provide services to the electricity grid. Electricity grids are characterised by a lack of storage capacity, which can be provided by grid connected electric vehicles charging and discharging their batteries under centralised control. This paper argues that the Vehicle to Grid (V2G) methodology offers operational, financial and sustainability synergies between vehicles and electricity grids. Broadband communications is an essential service to facilitate the aggregation, distributed control and metering of V2G services.

Holger Claussen, Lester T. W. Ho, Florian Pivit
DOI: 10.2104/tja09004

Advances in mobile access broadband technology have a high potential to improve environmental sustainability both directly by enabling novel network deployment concepts and indirectly by changing the way people live and work. In this paper, improvements of the network topology enabled by ubiquitous broadband access are investigated. It is shown that a joint deployment of macro- and publicly accessible residential picocells can reduce the total energy consumption by up to 70% in urban areas. In addition the high potential of indirect effects of improving telecommunication networks, such as enabling teleworking and replacing business travel through video conferencing, is demonstrated and compared with the direct effects.

From: Telecommunications Journal of Australia, Volume 59, No. 1, February 2009

ps: The Eckermann-TJA award was set up by my colleague Robin Eckermann, Principal, Eckermann & Associates and Adjunct Professor, School of Information Sciences and Engineering, University of Canberra.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Environment department used 30 sheets of paper per person per day

The "Triple Bottom Line Report 2003-04" of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004 (ISBN 0 642 55046 8) reported they purchased 14,300 reams of A4 paper. That is 15.08 reams per person per year, or 30 sheets per person per day. They were to conduct a paper audit by end 2005 and establish a data collection system for outsourced printing. Unfortunately this seems to be the last such report put out by the Department. The Australian Public Service might like to set a target for the use of paper for all agencies of no more than one sheet per day per person. It should be possible to monitor this electronically direct from the systems.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Wine in Tetra Paks good for the Environment?

Banrock Station Ecomate Tetra Pak WineBanrock Station launched its "Ecomate" in mid 2008. This is wine in cardboard Tetra Paks, using the same technology as for keeping fruit juice fresh without refrigeration. Banrock make much of the environmental credentials of this form of packaging. But apart from reducing the weight and bulk of packaging, thus reducing energy used in transport, it does not appear particularly ecological.

Glass used in wine bottles is able to be easily recycled. The plastic coated cardboard and plastic spout used in a Tetra Prisma would seem much harder to recycle. Also it is curious that the packs do not have a long shelf life, with one purchased in Sydney last week having a use-by date of August 2009 (the same as for Banrock Station casks wine bought at the same time). The carton is labelled as containing preservative 220 (Sulfur dioxide), so this not a preservative free wine.

However, the cartons would be convenient, being much lighter, backing smaller and less liable to breakage. The cartons have been made to have about the same footprint as a wine bottle, so they fit in bottle carriers.They hold 1l, much more than a 750 bottle. The cartons are half the size of the 2l casks Banrock Station also sell in their environmental range (in a brown cardboard box with a "LandCare Australia" logo on it).

While wine in cartons might seem ideal for Internet shopping, Amazon Fresh ('s grocery arm), don't sell the ecomate, although they sell other Banrock Station wine in bottles (of the dozens of Australian wines sold by Amazon).

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ecologically Sustainable Annandale 2009 Exhibition

An "Ecologically Sustainable Annandale 2009 Exhibition" is being run at the Leichhardt Library in Sydney, 30 December 2008 - 31 January 2009. This features glass and discarded packaging sculpture, photographs and drawings inspired by local themes.

Events in association with the exhibition:

Eco-Annandale 2009 Exhibition

Leichhardt Library, Italian Forum, Norton St, Leichhardt (Sydney)
31 December 2008-31 January 2009

  • Opening - Meet the Artists

    Leichhardt Library, Italian Forum, Norton St
    6pm-7.30pm Wednesday 7 January 2009
    RSVP Tuesday 6 January 2009
    Telephone 93679338/93679266
    or email:

  • Morning Talk

    Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery
    9am-10am Friday 16th January 2009
    Meet at Nursery, Chapman St (East), Annandale

  • Twilight Talk

    Federal Park Wetlands
    Meet at Federal Park Wetlands (Chapman St - East), Annandale
    Date: TBA

  • Twilight Talk

    Whites Creek Wetlands
    Meet at Whites Creek Wetlands (end of Wisdom St) Annandale
    Date: TBA

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ecologically Sustainable Annandale 2009 Exhibition

Ecologically Sustainable Annandale 2009, an Exhibition of Photographs and Artworks focusing on Annandale's Ecosystem will be held at the Leichhardt Library, in Sydney, 30 December 2008 - 31 January 2009.

Ecologically Sustainable Annandale
2009 Exhibition

An Exhibition of Photographs and Artworks focusing on Annandale's Eco-System

Curator: Marghanita da Cruz

Artists: Margot Alexander (Slumped & kiln fired glass) - Sue Kallas (Pencil & Water Colour) - Viki Alonso - Susanne Martain - Joel Tarling - Marghanita da Cruz

Leichhardt Library, 30 December 2008 - 31 January 2009

Talks and Special Events

Contact us if you would like to give a talk or sponsor an event

Subscribe to RSS Feed, or register for an alert to be notified about events.

This group exhibition features plants and animals that would have been familiar in Annandale before 1788. Annandale was cleared for its valuable timbers and farming during the 19th Century. Between 1898 and 1938, Whites Creek and Johnstons Creek, on the boundaries of Annandale, were concreted as Stormwater Channels 951 and 55 2, to improve the sanitation of now Urban Annandale.

In 1994, Ted Floyd a local resident, initiated the Friends of the Earth "Living water Project" 3. Since then, two Wetlands have been constructed in Annandale to filter Storm Water before it enters Sydney harbour. In 2001 the Federal Park Tidally-Influenced Salt Marsh Wetland was constructed and the next year a series of ponds were constructed to create the Whites Creek Wetlands.

In the 1990s4, local residents sought to reintroduce local provenance plants to encourage native birds to return to Annandale. They established The Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery. Volunteers propagate plants from nearby bushland. This stock is then used by the Rozelle Bay and Callan Park bushcare groups. Thanks to the tireless co-ordination of Beth Buchannen and many other volunteers, a wide range of local provenance species are again thriving around Annandale.

  1. Sydney Water S170 Heritage Register Whites Creek Stormwater Channel No 95
  2. Sydney Water S170 Heritage Register Johnstons Creek Stormwater Channel No 55
  3. FOE - Living Water Project
  4. Bringing Back Biodiversity to Cities: beyond social and physical health - Section 4.4 Case Study on Rozelle Bay Community Native Nursery (82KB PDF)

This exhibition is proudly supported by Ramin Communications as an extension of Annandale on the Web.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Local Store Cheaper than Online

Vollco Sharpening Heads for Norelco Smart Touch and Speed-XL Models using HQ9 headsThe blades on my electric razor were blunt, so I searched online for new ones. But I found they were cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) at the local store.

First I looked for a sharpener online. Vollco Sharpening Heads are available for rotary razors by Phillips/Norelco and Remington. The sharpeners consist of a plastic disks with abrasive material in the bottom. You replace the foils of the razor with these and run the razor for a few seconds, to sharpen the blades. I have used this on a previous razor and it worked okay, but these units are not approved by the razor makers and are controversial.

As I had a new razor (a Phillips Speed-XL Model using HQ9 heads), I needed a different set of sharpening heads. The blades for different model razors are different shape. The sharpener is cheaper than replacement blades (conventional wisdom seems to be you can sharpen the blades two or three times). But I found that my previous razor did not last past one resharpening.

Replacement blades are available for foil and rotary razors. One catch with rotary razors in the number of heads. My razor has only two heads but most of the replacements are sold in packs of three.

Taking into account the shipping cost and the exchange rate, I found it was cheaper to get on my bicycle and go down to the local shaver shop and buy the blades there. I found they sold replacement heads one at a time. So I was able to buy just two replacements. The shop also offered to install the replacements for me, but it was easy enough to do myself. Apart from the lower cost, there was also the benefit of lower environmental impact, as hopefully the shop's stock came by an efficient ship, whereas the online order would have come by air.

The replacement blades still cost about one third the price of a new razor, which sounds excessive. Perhaps someone would like to set up a business sharpening razor blades? ;-)

See also


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Friday, July 04, 2008

Flat screen TVs causing global warming?

The paper "NF3 , the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto" (Michael J. Prather and Juno Hsu, GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L12810, doi:10.1029/2008GL034542, 2008) suggests a chemical used in making plasma and LCD panels needs to be monitored. The chemical is Nitrogen trifluoride and is a powerful greenhouse gas (17,200 times that of CO2). It was introduced to replace nastier chemicals: hexafluoroethane and sulfur hexafluoride. It is used to clean the Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) equipment which deposits thin high purity films on the flat panel displays.

The extent of the problem is not known, as the production of NF3 is not reported and it is also not known how much is lost in the production process. Prather's paper is not the first to raise the issue, with:
  1. Estimates of US emissions of high-global warming potential gases and the costs of reductions (Harvey, 2000),
  2. Keeping Cool without Warming the Planet: Cutting HFCs, PFCs, and SF 6 in Europe
    (Anderson, 2000)
  3. How to Do Environmental Innovation Journalism (Forsberg)

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L12810, doi:10.1029/2008GL034542, 2008

NF3, the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto

Michael J. Prather
Earth System Science Department, University of California, Irvine, California, USA

Juno Hsu
Earth System Science Department, University of California, Irvine, California, USA


Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) can be called the missing greenhouse gas: It is a synthetic chemical produced in industrial quantities; it is not included in the Kyoto basket of greenhouse gases or in national reporting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and there are no observations documenting its atmospheric abundance. Current publications report a long lifetime of 740 yr and a global warming potential (GWP), which in the Kyoto basket is second only to SF6. We re-examine the atmospheric chemistry of NF3 and calculate a shorter lifetime of 550 yr, but still far beyond any societal time frames. With 2008 production equivalent to 67 million metric tons of CO2, NF3 has a potential greenhouse impact larger than that of the industrialized nations' emissions of PFCs or SF6, or even that of the world's largest coal-fired power plants. If released, annual production would increase the lower atmospheric abundance by 0.4 ppt, and it is urgent to document NF3 emissions through atmospheric observations.

Received 5 May 2008; accepted 27 May 2008; published 26 June 2008.

Keywords: greenhouse gases; nitrogen trifluoride; Kyoto Protocol; climate change.

Index Terms: 0317 Atmospheric Composition and Structure: Chemical kinetic and photochemical properties; 3305 Atmospheric Processes: Climate change and variability (1616, 1635, 3309, 4215, 4513); 6620 Public Issues: Science policy (0485); 1610 Global Change: Atmosphere (0315, 0325).

Read Full Article (file size: 71271 bytes) Cited by

Citation: Prather, M. J., and J. Hsu (2008), NF3, the greenhouse gas missing from Kyoto, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L12810, doi:10.1029/2008GL034542.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

OECD meeting on ICT and Environment

Professor John Houghton sent me a note to say he is at the workshop the OECD are currently holding a in Copenhagen on ICTs and Environmental Challenges . This is to discuss the environmental impact of ICTs in the knowledge economy. Slides and video from the conference are available online:
  1. A framework for modelling ICT and environmental challenges using future scenarios
  2. From green attitude to green action: The approach of the Norwegian ICT-industry
  3. Eco-innovation in the knowledge economy: Challenges and opportunities for ICT
  4. Comments and questions
  5. The future impact of ICTs on environmental sustainability
  6. ICT contribution to the emergence of carbon-sober social behaviour
  7. ICTs and the environment: A framework for analysis
  8. Comments and questions
  • ICTs in pollution management, cleaner technologies and better resource management
  1. e-Strategies in governments and business
  2. Networks, energy consumption and managing energy use
  3. Impacts of technology-specific applications: broadband access, DSL and fibre access networks
  4. Comments and questions
  5. Energy efficiency in ICTs
  6. Environmental benefits of broadband
  7. How green IT can beat CO2
  8. Comments and questions
  • The ICT producing sector – challenges and progress
  1. Environmental impact of ICT: A conceptual framework and some strategic recommendations
  2. ICTs, resource management and energy efficiency
  3. The Green IT index and firm organisation
  4. Comments and questions
  5. High tech: Low carbon
  6. The TCO label: Marketing, development and certification issues
  7. The changing role of ICT: An industry view
  8. Comments and questions
  • Policy developments, policy issues and implications for future work
  1. The road from Bali to Copenhagen
  2. European policies for ICTs in a highly-efficient, low-carbon economy
  3. The Global e-sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
  4. Comments and questions
  5. Japan's Green IT Initiative
  6. How Public Administration can contribute to a sustainable ICT
  7. The Action Plan for Green IT in Denmark
  8. Comments and questions

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Tender for Government Emissions Trading Scheme

The New Zealand government has issued a request for "Outsourcing of Administrative Functions for the Emissions Trading Scheme (Forestry)". This is a good application for Internet technology (Australia is also to use a "internet auction platform"). To get the details you have to register with the NZ Government Electronic Tenders Service.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (“MAF”) wishes to contract with an outsource partner for the provision of certain Contact Centre and Transaction Processing services to support the Emissions Trading Scheme (“ETS”) announced by the Government.

As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand has an obligation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels through the period 2008 – 2012, or take responsibility for any excess emissions. As part of its management regime, the Government has decided to implement an economy wide Emissions Trading Scheme (“ETS”).

On enactment of the legislation, the forestry sector (the first of five sectors) can join the ETS with effect from 1 January 2008. New Zealand will be the first country in the world to bring forestry into an economy wide emissions trading scheme.

The Ministry of Economic Development (“MED”) will have overall responsibility for ETS administration and MAF will administer the forest specific aspects of the scheme (“ETS (Forestry)”) under delegated authority from the Chief Executive of MED.

MAF expects that there will be high levels of activity through both the Contact Centre and the Transaction Processing Centre in the first eighteen months of operation. Forest landowners will be seeking information about the scheme, and applying to join, or seeking to be exempt. Some will be applying for free carbon credits being issued by the Government. After that initial period there will be a lower steady state of activity, dealing with notifications of change and processing of emission returns.

Whilst not a part of this Request for Proposal, MAF is also responsible for the operation of other forestry schemes and, over time, will be seeking to align the administration of these with the administration of the ETS (Forestry).

MAF is seeking a “best of class” service from an experienced outsource partner, capable enabling MAF to meet its business objectives for ETS (Forestry) and of dealing with uneven flows of activity. ...

From: "Outsourcing of Administrative Functions for the Emissions Trading Scheme (Forestry)", Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2008

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme for Australia

Professor Ross Garnaut has released the latest part of his climate change study commissioned by the Australian state and federal governments. This proposes a n emissions trading scheme. There is a media release, Executive Summary, and full Emissions Trading Scheme Discussion Paper (477kb).

The trading scheme would use an "use an internet auction platform" (on Page 78 of the report). This might be the most significant contribution that ICT makes to the world.

From the Executive Summary:
... The centrepiece of the ETS is a greenhouse gas emissions market. A price on carbon is needed to address the market failure of unpriced greenhouse gas emissions. ...

Target and trajectories: ... Australia should declare the ambitious emissions budgets and target trajectories that it would be prepared to accept in the context of an effective, comprehensive global agreement. Along with the design of the ETS we can announce a set of trajectories of permit releases over time, consistent with our emissions budgets. The trajectories should embody rising degrees of constraint. Any shift in trajectory should only be triggered by movement towards stronger effective international mitigation commitments. ...

Design of an effective ETS: An ETS is established to reduce emissions, but the emissions limit is a decision to be made outside of the scheme itself. In developing the ETS design, the singular objective should be to provide a transactional space that enables the transmission of permits to economic agents for whom they represent the greatest economic value.
A number of guiding principles can be applied in order to achieve this objective, including scarcity, tradability, credibility, simplicity and integration. These principles define a solid framework within which an effective market can be designed.

Intrinsic and extrinsic features: An ETS has two types of design features: those that are essential to the operational efficiency of the scheme, referred to as intrinsic features, (for example the scheme’s coverage, permit allocation rules, compliance rules and governance); and those that are defined outside of the scheme’s operation, but still have considerable influence on the scheme’s economic impact, referred to as extrinsic features (for example, defining the emissions limits and principles for compensation). Both these design feature types exist within a broader context of factors that affect the operation of the scheme but are beyond the influence of policy decisions on ETS design, known as exogenous factors (for example the evolving global environment agreement as well as the evolving scientific and technological knowledge bases).

Permit Allocation: The price of permits, the increase in the price of electricity and other emissions-intensive products, and structural change in the economy in response to the restriction on emissions, will not be affected by the method of permit allocation. Transaction costs will be lowest if they are auctioned; any free allocation of permits will involve elaborate assessment and political processes. ...

International Trade: The costs of abatement can potentially be substantially reduced, and therefore more ambitious targets achieved, by international trade in permits. However, linking with an economy that has a flawed domestic mitigation system will result in the import of those flaws. Variations in the quality of mitigation arrangements across countries mean that the decision to link with particular markets is a matter for fine judgement, but ultimately global mitigation will only be successful if countries can trade in emission permits. Opportunities for international linkage of the Australian ETS should be sought in a judicious and calibrated manner.

Governance: Sound governance arrangements are necessary to issue permits and to ensure that permits are acquitted in line with emissions. In Australia, there is a place for an independent institution playing a central role in administration of the ETS, within policy parameters established by legislation. In this report, we refer to such an institution as the Independent Carbon Bank. ...

Compensation: This is a difficult reform, and a permit price that is high enough to secure levels of emissions within targets and budgets will have major effects on income distribution. The losers from such changes (households, and low-income households in particular, but in some circumstances domestic and foreign shareholders in highly emissions-intensive businesses) may feel that they can make a case for compensatory payments. The case for substantial measures to reduce the impact of the reform on living standards of low-income households is strong, and will affect political support for and perceptions of stability of an efficient ETS. ...

From: Executive Summary, Emissions Trading Scheme Discussion Paper, Garnaut Climate Change Review, Ross Garnaut , March 2008

See Books on:

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Garnaut Climate Change Interim Report

The interim Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by Australian governments has been released. The suggested cuts in green house gas emissions are possible with minimal impact on our lifestyle and economy. Reducing energy use with computers, broadband and the Internet, could help. A further Draft Report will be released 30 June 2008 and a Final Report 30 September 2008.

Available are:
  1. Media release (353kb)
  2. Executive Summary (44kb)
  3. Full Report (634kb)
The full report is 64 pages long. All the documents appear to have been efficiently and carefully encoded in PDF, unlike many government reports. But the reports could do with shorter web addresses. They are about 150 characters long. Removing the duplicated text and "MicrosoftWord" would help, especially as the files are in PDF format, not Microsoft Word.

Here is the text of the executive summary:
This Interim Report seeks to provide a flavour of early findings from the work of the Review, to share ideas on work in progress as a basis for interaction with the Australian community, and to indicate the scope of the work programme through to the completion of the Review. There are some important areas of the Review’s work that are barely touched upon in the Interim Report, which will feature prominently in the final reports. Adaptation to climate change, energy efficiency and the distribution of the costs of climate change across households and regions are amongst the prominent omissions from this presentation.

Many views put forward in this Interim Report represent genuinely interim judgements. The Review looks forward to feedback from interested people before formulating recommendations for the final reports.

Developments in mainstream scientific opinion on the relationship between emissions accumulations and climate outcomes, and the Review’s own work on future “business as usual” global emissions, suggest that the world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has generally been understood. This makes mitigation more urgent and more costly. At the same time, it makes the probable effects of unmitigated climate change more costly, for Australia and for the world.

The largest source of increased urgency is the unexpectedly high growth of the world economy in the early twenty-first century, combined with unexpectedly high energy intensity of that growth and continuing reliance on high-emissions fossil fuels as sources of energy. These developments are associated with strong economic growth in the developing world, first of all in China. The stronger growth has strong momentum and is likely to continue. It is neither desirable nor remotely feasible to seek to remove environmental pressures through diminution of the aspirations of the world’s people for higher material standards of living. The challenge is to end the linkage between economic growth and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Australia’s interest lies in the world adopting a strong and effective position on climate change mitigation. This interest is driven by two realities of Australia’s position relative to other developed countries: our exceptional sensitivity to climate change: and our exceptional opportunity to do well in a world of effective global mitigation. Australia playing its full part in international efforts on climate change can have a positive effect on global outcomes. The direct effects of Australia’s emissions reduction efforts are of secondary importance. Australia has an important role to play alongside its international partners in establishing a realistic approach to global mitigation. Australia can contribute to the development of clear international understandings on the four components of a successful framework for global mitigation: setting the right global objectives for reduction of the risk of dangerous climate change; converting this into a goal for stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a specified level; calculating the amount of additional emissions that can be emitted into the atmosphere over a specified number of years if stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations is to be achieved at the desired level; and developing principles for allocating a limited global emissions budget among countries.

Australia should make firm commitments in 2008, to 2020 and 2050 emissions targets that embody similar adjustment cost to that accepted by other developed countries. A lead has been provided by the European Union, and there are reasonable prospects that the United States will become part of the main international framework after the November 2008 elections. Some version of the current State and Federal targets of 60 per cent reduction by 2050, with appropriate interim targets, would meet these requirements.

Australia would need to go considerably further in reduction of emissions as part of an effective global agreement, with full participation by major developing countries, designed to reduce risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels. Australia should formulate a position on the contribution that it would be prepared make to an effective global agreement, and offer to implement that stronger position if an appropriately structured international agreement were reached.

The process of reaching an adequate global agreement will be long and difficult. Australia can help to keep the possibility of eventual agreement alive by efficient implementation of its own abatement policies, and through the development of exemplary working models of cooperation with developing countries in regional agreements, including with Papua New Guinea.

Australia must now put in place effective policies to achieve major reductions in emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) is the centre-piece of a domestic mitigation strategy. To achieve effective mitigation at the lowest possible cost, the ETS will need to be supported by measures to correct market failures or weaknesses related to innovation, research and development, to information, and to network infrastructure.

Establishing an ETS with ambitious mitigation objectives will be difficult and will make heavy demands on scarce economic and finite political resources. The difficulty of the task makes it essential to use the most efficient means of achieving the mitigation objectives. That means efficiency both in minimising the economic costs, and in distributing the costs of the scheme across the Australian community in ways that are broadly seen as being fair.

To be effective in contributing as much as possible to an effective global effort to avoid unacceptably high risks of dangerous climate change, soundly based domestic and international policies will need to be sustained steadily over long periods. Policy-makers will need to eschew short-term responses that seem to deal with immediate problems but contribute to the building of pressures for future policy change. The Review aims to provide the basis for steady long-term policy at Commonwealth and State levels, and for productive long-term Australian interaction with the international community on climate change policy.

From: Executive Summary, Garnaut Climate Change Review Interim Report to the Commonwealth, State And Territory Governments of Australia, February 2008

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Green marketing guide from the Australian Government

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been active in investigating 'green' claims by companies about environmentally beneficial products. They have now produced a 28 page "Green marketing and the Trade Practices Act" booklet. Those selling low power computers or ones claiming to be carbon offset or carbon neutral need to consider the advice:
  • Contents
  • Introduction 2
  • Green marketing and the Trade Practices Act 3
1. The Trade Practices Act 4
  • What does the law say? 4
2. Making environmental claims 7
  • Principles to consider 7
  • Broad or unqualified claims that can be problematic 11
  • Penalties and remedies for breaching the Act 15
  • Avoiding a breach of the law 15
3. Key environmental efficiency schemes 16
  • The Equipment Energy Efficiency Program 16
  • Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme. 18
4. Checklist for marketers 20

From: Green marketing and the Trade Practices Act, ACCC, 8 February 2008

There have not been any Green ICT cases with ACC, but some of the other cases were:
  1. ACCC scrutinises Origin green power television advertisement
    ... Attn: Consumer, environment writers ACCC scrutinises Origin green power television advertisement As part of its continuing scrutiny of green'marketing ... 21 Dec 2007

  2. Warning to air conditioning industry after Daikin 'green' claims challenged by ACCC
    ... Attn: Consumer, environment writers Warning to air conditioning industry after Daikin green'claims challenged by ACCC Daikin is an importer and distributor of air- ... 21 Jan 2005

  3. ACCC alleges green claims misleading
    ... ACCC alleges green claims misleading The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Melbourne, against Lloyd Brooks Pty Ltd alleging misleading and deceptive conduct in claiming the environmental benefits for its range of Earthstrength plastic kitchen, garbage and freezer bags. ... 24 Jan 2005

  4. Federal Court finds "Green" claims to be misleading
    ... Federal Court finds Green claims to be misleading The Federal Court, Sydney has found that Sanyo Airconditioners Manufacturing Singapore Pte Ltd, trading as Sanyo ... 18 Jan 2005

  5. EnergyAustralia clears air about green electricity claims
    ... EnergyAustralia has agreed to provide the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with an administrative undertaking to resolve ACCC concerns about representations which it made about its ClearAir and GreenFuture non-accredited electricity products, ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, announced today. ... 21 Dec 2007

  6. BOC Gases: misleading 'Environmentally Friendly' claims
    ... BOC Gases have agreed to clarify the environmental and performance comparisons, cease using general terms such as environmentally preferred'or general green'claims ... 6 Jan 2005

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

How to fix a dishwasher using the Web

dishwasherAfter several years of having to manually advance the dishwasher through the cycle, I thought it was time to fix it. The web turned out to be a useful resource to do this. Apart from the inconvenience, I was using more water having to use more water to rewash partly washed dishes. To find out how to fix just about anything, try typing into a search engine "how to fix a ...".

One danger is that how to instructions can get you to attempt repairs you should not really try. In this case the Dishwasher Troubleshooting Tool proved most useful. The symptom was " Dishwasher cycle does not complete" and the suggested checks were: Unfortunately these are generic instructions not specific to a particular model. But after testing the timer motor and heating element, I tried the thermostat. There turned out to be a small press button on the thermostat. I pressed this and it stayed pressed. The dishwasher then worked. This seems to be an overload cutout, but was not mentioned in any of the instructions.

Fisher Paykel Double DishDrawer dishwasherOf course, a replacement smaller countertop dishwasher, or a drawer unit would use less water and be more convenient for small loads. The Fisher Paykel Dual DishDrawer units look very attractive, with the ability to fill one drawer, while the other is washing. But as my unit is now working there is no point in replacing it.

ps: Another part of the dishwasher which may need replacing is the cutlery basket. There are some replacements ones sold, but these can be flimsy plastic. A better alternative might be a bit of the stainless steel security fly screen mesh used in windows. Offcuts are available from suppliers, such as Alucom in Canberra. Aluminum mesh is not suitable, as the harsh dishwasher detergent tends to dissolve it.

See also:

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Green Transport Innovation Fund

electric bicycleThe ALP has promised a $500M Green Car Innovation Fund . If elected, hopefully this will be implemented as a broader "Green Transport Innovation Fund". Such a fund should allow for other forms of transport to be more fuel efficient, including buses, trains, trucks and ships. All of these forms of transport are made in Australia. Also a modest investment in hybrid electric bicycles and scooters could produce a new industry for Australia.

Adding new technology, such as hybrid diesel/electric motors to passenger cars requires decades of investment and billions of dollars. The equipment has to be designed to be made in high volumes at the lowest possible cost and to operate for years with little maintenance. Most Australian cars are designed elsewhere and even those designed in Australia have to conform to the international standards of their overseas headquarters. The Australian branch of a multinational car company can't simply decide to make its own version of a hybrid car. This will make the ALP's Green fund largely ineffective.

However, such an investment applied to other transport could produce results much quicker. Buses, trains, trucks and ships are made in lower volumes with more customization and local adaption than cars. Also Australia has small specialist arms of multinational companies making specialist vehicles, such as underground mining trucks, which would particularly suite low fuel drives. The payback period for fuel saving in such vehicles and the bonus of reduced air pollution in a confined underground mine would allow a payback for an investment in years, rather than decades.

Australia also happens to be the major international maker of high speed ferries, both for civilian and military use. In this areas Australia partners with US companies, but is the developer of the technology and a major manufacturer. These vessels have a high fuel consumption and new technology could be used to reduce that. As well as saving costs, this would be very attractive to the military to increase the flexibility of the ships.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hitech Wooden Surfboards

Peter Walker with his wooden surfboard
Peter Walker, was showing his wooden surfboards at the Canberra Biennial today. He is an Associate Professor at Rhode Island School of Design and a Visiting Artist at the Jam Factory in Melbourne.

 wooden surfboard by Peter Walker at the Jam FactoryThe surfboards are made from a plywood framework with holes drilled to make it light. The result looks like the wing of an old biplane. The framework is then covered with thin lightweight wood. The final result looks like a piece of Scandinavian furniture, or part of a traditional Australian surf boat. The board has two bungs to allow the pressure to be equalized on hot days.

The framework of the surfboards reminded me of the work I saw at the UTas Academy of The Arts which architect Helen Norrie gave me a guided tour of in September. It happens Peter has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Design in Wood program at the Tasmanian School of Art in 1986 and a Master of Fine Art from the Centre for Furniture Design, University of Tasmania.

As I mentioned at the end of my talk to the ACS Tasmanian Branch, wood could be used for hi tech education buildings. As an example aComputer Numerical Control router like that used by the students at the University of Tasmania Architecture school, could be used to shape desks for a flexible learning centre. The desks could have cutouts designed to take Chip PC Inc's PC built into a wall socket. This would remove most of the clutter usual in a computerized classroom. Low voltage LCD displays could be used, eliminating the need for mains power on the desktop, lowering power use and increasing safety.

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