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Postby modjohn » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:14 pm

Its really not a question of reducing the output from any existing power plants, it is a question of home many additional plants will need to be constructed. Or, more importantly, how changing our habits and reducing our consumption will eliminate the need for some additional plants. Every cfl helps a little bit. Reductions in per capita consumption are key.

Coal fired plants cannot be dialed up or down to suit demand. They must burn at a constant capacity, 24 hours a day. Natural gas fired plants and nuclear plants have much more flexibility in this area. They can also be used to offset times of reduced production from wind, hydro and PV. By the way, google has made very large investments in alternative energy sources to help power their server farms, but they are still using huge amounts of juice.
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Postby Architorture » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:58 pm

i'd be willing to bet that the 'internet' and its various support structures are probably on an energy consumption level near that of household lighting... but where are all the people suggesting reductions in internet use?

for example how much electricity does a skype call take compared to a land line phone call?
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Postby Kevin » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:25 am

With all due respect to beloved forum participants of standing and broad contribution...

Stop whining! It's unbecoming in a design professional. And get used to this:

1) Global warming is not a "highly debatable theory". It is a highly tested, cross-checked, broadly proven body of scientific fact, backed by an unprecedented global scientific consensus. That being the case, it is only correct to present it as such.

2) Don't just "bet", i.e. guess, about how much electricity one sector or another consumes - or other key climate change response planning facts. You're architects and stuff. Act like the responsible professionals you are and educate yourselves on the specific details of the number one global design challenge our species has ever faced.

If there's stuff you need to know to understand and evaluate the situation, frame questions and we'll work to provide solid, well-researched and referenced answers. But just sitting around debating global phenomena based on personal impressions doesn't really have enough chops to even be fun.

BTW, this 18 minute Flash presentation from Japan on projected impacts, globally and amazingly visualized in regional detail over time, is outstanding (and in English, with a clear introduction that makes it pretty self-explanantory):
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Postby starkca3 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:49 am

so basically another version of MR. GOres Inconvenient Truth? Minus tobacco farms.

Anyways, i think that it could depend more on the client's view (general public) on the subject that will inspire the changes in the way we build things. If a green structure is important, then its important! If its not, then its not...for now.

Until then, can we keep the internet?
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Postby Architorture » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:47 am

well i'd like to offer in my defense that there really are no good solid numbers out there on how much electricity the internet uses..since its support structures are so widespread and varied in nature...

but if were were to base it on some of the 'best guesses' that i was able to find it appears as though it uses an amount somewhere between 4-10% of US electricity...

now according to the energy information administration household lighting accounts for about 8-9% of household electricity consumption in the US...

so lighting is 8-9% of of HOUSEHOLD electricity consumption while the 'internet' consumes possibly 4-10% of the TOTAL electricity used in the US...

so the total consumption is somewhere around 4 trillion KwH and household consumption is somewhere around 1 trillion KwH...so even if the internet was the low end of 4% it would still be greater than the high end of lighting...

save the planet...stop posting on DC.com... :D
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Postby csintexas » Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:49 am

This article suggests a 90% or greater probability. This indicates a still unproven state.

Here is an interesting series of videos talking about climate change and scientific reasoning:


Humans blamed for climate change
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Paris

The options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions appear in a different light, because you can see what the costs of inaction are.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri,
IPCC chairman

Analysis: 'So what's new?'
IPCC report: At a glance
Global climate change is "very likely" to have a human cause, an influential group of scientists has concluded.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said temperatures were probably going to increase by 1.8-4C (3.2-7.2F) by the end of the century.

It also projected that sea levels were most likely to rise by 28-43cm, and global warming was likely to influence the intensity of tropical storms.

The findings are the first of four IPCC reports to be published this year.

"We can be very confident that the net effect of human activity since 1750 has been one of warming," co-lead author Dr Susan Soloman told delegates in Paris.

Strong language

The report, produced by a team tasked with assessing the science of climate change, was intended to be the definitive summary of climatic shifts facing the world in the coming years.

Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C
Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of century
Increase in heatwaves very likely
Increase in tropical storm intensity likely

IPCC report: World reaction
IPCC report: UK reaction

The agency said that it would use stronger language to assess humanity's influence on climatic change than it had previously done.

In 2001, it said that it was "likely" that human activities lay behind the trends observed at various parts of the planet; "likely" in IPCC terminology means between 66% and 90% probability.

Now, the panel concluded that it was at least 90% certain that human emissions of greenhouse gases rather than natural variations are warming the planet's surface.

They projected that temperatures would probably rise by between 1.8C and 4C, though increases as small as 1.1C (2F) or as large as 6.4C (11.5F) were possible.

In 2001, using different methodology, the numbers were 1.4 (2.5F) and 5.8C (10.4F).

Climate schematic (BBC)

How computers model climate

On sea level, there has been a more fundamental debate.

Computer models of climate generally include water coming into the oceans as ice caps and glaciers melt. But the potentially much larger contribution of "accelerated melting", where the disintegration of ice shelves and lubrication of glaciers by meltwater speeds up the flow of ice into the oceans, is much harder to model.

So the IPCC had to decide whether to exclude this from its calculations, or to estimate the effect of a process which scientists do not understand well but which could have a big impact.

They used the former, more conservative approach, projecting an average rise in sea levels globally of between 28 and 43cm. The 2001 report cited a range of nine to 88cm.

As for climate change influencing the intensity of tropical storms in some areas of the world, the IPCC concluded that it was likely - meaning a greater probability than 66% - that rising temperatures were a factor.


Heat map

Climate change: In graphics

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, said: "It is extremely encouraging in that the science has moved on from what was possible in the Third Assessment Report.

"If you see the extent to which human activities are influencing the climate system, the options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions appear in a different light, because you can see what the costs of inaction are," he told delegates in Paris.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), said the findings marked a historical landmark in the debate about whether humans were affecting the state of the atmosphere.


IPCC Summary [2.2MB]
Most computers will open this document automatically, but you may need Adobe Reader
Download the reader here
"It is an unequivocal series of evidence [showing that] fossil fuel burning and land use change are affecting the climate on our planet."

He added: "If you are an African child born in 2007, by the time you are 50 years old you may be faced with disease and new levels of drought."

He said that he hoped the IPCC report would galvanise national governments into action.

At variance

But a study published on the eve of the IPCC report suggested that the international body's previous reports may have actually been too conservative.

Another day, another climate-change story. All of this leads to a deaf audience
Andy, MI, USA

Send us your views

Writing in the journal Science, an international group of scientists concluded that temperatures and sea levels had been rising at or above the maximum rates proposed in the last report, which was published in 2001.

The paper compared the 2001 projections on temperature and sea level change report with what has actually happened.

The models had forecasted a temperature rise between about 0.15C-0.35C (0.27-0.63F) over this period. The actual rise of 0.33C (0.59F) was very close to the top of the IPCC's range.

A more dramatic picture emerged from the sea level comparison. The actual average level, measured by tide gauges and satellites, had risen faster than the intergovernmental panel of scientists predicted it would.

The IPCC's full climate science report will be released later in the year, as will other chapters looking at the probable impacts of climate change, options for adapting to those impacts, and possible routes to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
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Postby starkca3 » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:30 pm

Wow, 4-10% eh? Intense!

Guess I've never really thought about how many servers there were to keep it all alive.

Anyways, I must admit, I have no idea how a server works, thus have no witty ideas on how to save power in that respect. But, nevertheless, I would still rather sacrifice my car before I sacrifice my time online.

So I'll keep posting!:) ... and stop driving. Take the Bus!

OH! I was going to ask. As far as homes powered by Solar Panels, do some of these homes have batteries that can hold a charge, and then used at night?
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Postby Kevin » Tue Jul 15, 2008 3:52 pm

Architorture, good numbers - very interesting - thanks much!

Greening seems to be just coming on the radar for mainstream IT folks, so at least there's plenty of room for improvement, with new more efficient processors coming into production and more organizational awareness of HVAC and operating options. (Most laptops, like the one I live on - my widescreen electronic mobile office - are inherently designed for efficiency because of the battery life factor.)

As there is lots of room for improvement in household lighting, with CFLs ready and waiting, and end-user LED lamps just starting to appear in retail outlets. And then there's the role of building design... where I work, thanks to daylighting and shading there's rarely a need to turn on an electric light for most of the waking hours of one of these long summer days. And one can feel the coolness that results from leaving off all those little illuminating heater units - even the CFLs.

csintexas, it's hard to carry the conversation around a long, long run of (mixed?) quotations without having you explain what you think the point of them is. Remember how that was a conversational-progress-blocker with the recent creationist overload? (Personally, I'm not likely to go watch a youtube video for "facts" unless you give me a darn clear reason to.)

I see some interesting pieces in that big posting, like "A more dramatic picture emerged from the sea level comparison. The actual average level, measured by tide gauges and satellites, had risen faster than the intergovernmental panel of scientists predicted it would. " But without dates and parsing, it's hard to deduce your thoughts.

For all that electric consumption... supporting this world wide web here... let's put it to good use, be clear about our sources, and link to them - esp. in an area such as this where there are doubters as to these same facts. As we try to do in AW...

Some of our thoughts and references, in chron sequence, most up-to-date at the bottom:

Architectural Global Warming, by Susan Smith
http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2004/02 ... t_1-1.html
Design to Survive, by Edward Mazria, AIA
http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2006/01 ... t_1-1.html
Energy Concerns Mainstream, by Evan Shu, FAIA
Teaching Climate, by Michael Cockram
Climate Findings Update, by ArchitectureWeek
Tackling Climate Change, by Kevin Matthews
http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2008/04 ... t_1-1.html
Climate Action Now, by Kevin Matthews
http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2008/04 ... t_1-1.html

We're also trying to include climate change consciousness in every AW article, which is really a culture shift for an architecture magazine, as much as we intellectually believe that's what the emerging crisis calls for. It doesn't mean every article is about climate change, not at all. But it does, for instance, mean the greenness of every building matters, whether the design team makes a point of it or not.

Our next article that's specifically focused on climate change is currently scheduled for next week.
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Postby csintexas » Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:10 pm

I just thought it was an interesting article.

The point is that it is not fact and neither is most science. There is just a very high level of confidence in our current understanding amongst top scientists, (and now even Shell, the Pentagon, Pickens and other groups who are traditionally very conservative.

Personally I think if our belief in climate change being caused by us was only 50/50 that is enough to take action because I don't believe that there are dire economic repercussions to doing so.

The youtube series I linked is really an excellent educational resource on the climate change issue. Also pretty entertaining:


As a system in itself the internet has caused electricity usage to rise but we will find that in the near future it will save us a tremendous amount of energy. I suspect that much of our work and education can be accomplished through the internet eliminating a lot of physical travel, infrastructure and facilities. Also up till now not much thought has been put into making the system energy efficient I have seen some pc's recently that operate on 50 watts and less for laptops.
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Postby modjohn » Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:58 pm

Chris is right on the money regarding increased use of the internet for many actions that we currently do in person. As transportation energy costs increase, many people will be doing things virtually rather than in person. I expect many more companies to urge employees to tele-commute as well as provide remote customer support. Distance learning is another good example. What is the net energy gain to attending a class over the net as opposed to getting in your car and driving 15 miles there to a building that must use energy for HVAC and lighting, then driving back home. It should be a considerable reduction in energy usage.

Also, I do not believe in any way that the internet and its millions of support components uses 4% to 10% of total energy consumption. You know the old quote, “There are three kinds of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics!”
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Postby starkca3 » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:05 am

Great video. Definitely a plus.

His argument is a good one. Its got to be a simple choice of action or no action, and just from reading a lot of ArchWeek it seems that a good portion of the architecture community has made the choice of action. I think I read in one of their articles that "architecture" is responsible for almost 50% of C02 emissions, thats huge.

So its not really a decision of whether or not its our fault. I think its more of a decision of whether or not its worth the risk of acting or not.

Anyways, thats of course all outlined in the video.

I think that the recent economic troubles we've been having here in the US has turned many people off to the "going green". With banks failing and gas prices gaining momentum i think that a lot of people have made up their minds that they would rather take the risk of it all being a hoax and save a few bucks than taking the initiative and dealing with the environmental issues.

Wasn't it just today that the executive ban on offshore drilling was lifted?
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Postby csintexas » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:02 am

The ban was just partially lifted, it still needs the approval of congress. I think we ought to keep it in place for as long as possible. We will most likely need that oil much more in 30 years than we do now.

Green is mostly about saving money not spending it.




Some of the savings can be long term but that does not have to be the case. Anyone who claims they can't afford it is just making excuses because they don't actually want to do green things. I don't blame them for this but let's not lie about it.
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Postby csintexas » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:22 am

I mostly have to blame republicans for the sad shape the country is in.

The whole housing crunch was caused by Greenspan (Bush) artificially pumping the economy with total lack of any checks and oversight in the system. Clinton had gone a long way towards balancing the budget before Bush came along and put us in debt up to our eyeballs. (Reagan did the same thing)

We had long predicted that we would hit peek oil about now but made absolutely no preparations for this event. The republican philosophy seems to be "don't worry be happy" and the American people where all to willing to go along.
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Postby lekizz » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:03 pm

Bizarre statistics about energy use attributed to the internet! How did the mystery source measure that? Are they confusing computer use with internet use? As modjohn has said, the internet saves energy in many ways. Thoses of us in the West lucky enough to have internet access can carry out many of our day-to-day transactions online without leaving home/jumping into our cars. My office regularly holds internet conferences with clients several hundred miles away.

I would be far more ready to blame increased energy use on the consumer culture's penchant for high-energy plasma TV's and other leisure devices that use far more electricity than the old ways of entertainment.
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Postby Antisthenes » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:33 pm

some say peak was 2005, is there data to back this up?
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