Making Co-Housing Trendy 

In cities with rapidly rising rents, foreclosed hotels and office/ industrial buildings have steered the creation of hotel-like spaces that may also house the young or the penniless masses.  You can have a few hundred housemates in an abandoned office building that is turning into one of the world’s largest experiments in co-living, designed in response to London’s insane rents. Inside, residents will have private space to sleep, storage, and a bathroom. A kitchenette may or may not be shared. But they’ll also have access to 12,000 square feet of shared living space, including full kitchens, a library, a spa, a “secret garden,” and a theater. “The idea is that we provide a compact but well-designed living space where you can have all of your basics. … It’s really your crash pad,” says Reza Merchant, CEO of The Collective, the London startup that is developing the building along with several other co-living spaces around the city. “The wealth of amenity space is the modern form of the living room.”
If you want to have a dinner party, for example, you can book a room for that. “It’s the whole sharing economy phenomenon when you share things with other people you get a lot more bang for your buck,” he says. “How often are you going to have a 15-person dinner party? You don’t have that every night, so if you share that with other people, you can have access to all these amazing living spaces that you wouldn’t otherwise have.”It’s designed to be something that someone in their twenties or thirties can afford as London rents which have doubled in the past decade keep soaring. Depending on the neighborhood, the co-living spaces The Collective is building can be 15%-40% cheaper than renting a typical apartment.”At the moment, people earning less than £40,000-£50,000 a year don’t have the option of renting a flat in a decent location,” Merchant says. “So they’re forced at the moment to rent rooms in often illegally converted houses.” Merchant, who is 26, is also convinced that millennials prefer living in communities. “I think if you look at our generation, there’s a shift toward wanting to be part of a community and share experience with their peers,” he says. “The whole concept of sharing is much more acceptable today than it was previously. So on the one hand, people actually prefer to share. On the other hand, there are simply no options.”

The building is designed to be suitcase-ready and is a little like living in a millennial-filled hotel. “We change the linen, we clean the rooms, we have an on-site concierge, we fully furnish the rooms, even down to the knives, the forks, the TV, so that people can show up with their bag and they’re ready to live,” Merchant says. “That’s very much part of the psyche of the millennial generation. They don’t want to own material possessions.” When it opens in 2016, the building will be one of several massive co-living spaces The Collective is planning for London. PLP Architecture, which designed the space, also has plans for another big project, a 30-story skyscraper with co-living on the top and co-working for startups on the bottom.The Collective isn’t the only company to attempt co-living spaces, but there’s still questions about whether the business model works. Campus, a startup from Silicon Valley, notably failed at the same thing. Others, like a new co-living space in Brooklyn, have been criticized for charging rents that aren’t much better than a studio in the area. Still, more are being planned. Overall we think that the growing interest in co-living is a logical reaction to the housing affordability crisis many cities face. There is a massive issue in big cities like London, San Francisco and New York where the lifeblood of these economies simply cannot afford to live affordably. In short this idea is long over due as when you have such an acute issue for what is such a key part of the economy, the market will inevitably come up with solutions.

By Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Ref: A Peters


Tragedy Of The Homeless 

Every year over 70 million rural migrats are moving into urban centers around the world. Unfortunately most of them land up  into the slums of their new cities.  In such a situation can the buy-one-give-one model work for housing? Imagine if every slumdweller or homeless family on earth had their fully paid home. Thanks to our new social concious buyers Many such projects and proposals are well under way to make that a reality. Buy A Luxury Condo or home, Give A Slum Dweller A New Home is a reality and is launched one of the first partnership in the U.S. and India. Buy a new luxury condo in San Diego, and you can help build a home for a family currently living in a slum in Manila or Mumbai. The philosophy and the social impact behind this has inspired many developers a one-for-one real estate gifting model,” says Pete Dupuis, who co-founded World Housing with his business partner Sid Landolt in 2013, beginning with a development in Vancouver.


The business model is simple in theory: Real estate developers donate a portion of their marketing budget to the nonprofit, and then the nonprofit creates local factories that build low-cost homes in the developing world. Each home, which can cost about $5,000 in a place like Manila or Mumbai, is part of a bigger neighborhood with a playground, community garden, and other common areas. “Our mission at World Housing is to create social change by connecting the world to be a better community, so the idea of ‘community’ is foundational to how we think, design, and create our homes,” says Dupuis. In Cambodia, where the nonprofit has been building homes for the last two years, they’ve partnered with Cambodia Children’s Fund to help provide services like health care, nutrition, and education for residents.The team’s new project in Manila was inspired in part by a trip Dupuis took to a slum called Smokey Mountain, where about 300,000 people live in shacks in a landfill. “The abject poverty has left a lasting impression on how I saw the world,” he says. “However, the one thing I discovered was the welcoming and hopeful nature of the people there. One of my best memories was playing a game of pool in the middle of a slum, on a table reconstructed from garbage. The people made me feel like part of their family and I made a promise to myself that when World Housing opened we would return to help the people there.”

In India, anyone who buys a condo or house at any of its new developments in and near Mumbai, Houston and Tanzania called micro Cities will help change the lives of a family locally. The Bosa condo development in San Diego will fund 64 homes in Manila, housing 300 people.
The condos, which will be available in 2017, are polar opposites of the simple houses under construction in Manila, with amenities like ocean views, a pool and sauna, and even potentially an indoor dog run. But the developer thinks that buyers will respond to the idea of doing good as an added perk. “We hope to set a new norm in residential development and inspire buyers, who will be the driving force in building this community,” says Nat Bosa, president of Bosa Development, the company behind Pacific Gate. Companies such as Zeons Realty which builds off the grid Micro-Cities also donates to the local community in which it starts any project.  “We believe it will attract domestic and international buyers, so it is a natural progression for the company to expand its philanthropic footprint within the community it does business,” Garson Silvers says CEO for Zeons. World Housing has housed 2,000 people so far, and hopes to reach 30,000 by 2020. Bosa believes the model may start to spread in the development community. “As the industry continues to grow we believe this model of giving will also grow,” he says. “There’s nothing more powerful than having owners and developers see the physical impact they are having on a global scale. They are affecting lives in the most profound way.”

By Naved Jafry

Reference : A. Peters

Are Emerging Markets Outpacing Developed Nations In Sustainaible Investments ?


Emerging economies attracted record levels of clean energy investment last year, surpassing investment in wealthier nations for the first time ever, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). In 2014, the 55 developing nations studied in the Climatescope report brought in $126 billion in clean energy investment — up $35.5 billion, or 39 percent, from 2013 levels. These countries installed a total of 50.4 gigawatts of new clean energy capacity last year — up 21 percent from 2013. In another first, renewable energy capacity deployed in emerging markets surpassed the amount deployed in wealthier OECD countries. Furthermore, the majority of investment did not stem from OECD countries. Rather, it was investment from developing countries to other developing countries, which jumped to $79 billion in 2014, up from $53 billion in 2013.

China played a major role. Last year, China added 35 gigawatts of new renewable generating capacity on its own, which is more than the clean energy projects built last year in the U.S., Britain and France combined. Large hydropower projects were not included in the report’s clean energy calculations. Instead, the authors focused on solar, wind and other clean energy technologies that can be deployed more rapidly. These findings are notable ahead of high-stakes climate talks in Paris next week, where there’s expected to be a strong focus on how much capital wealthier countries should transfer to lesser-developed countries to address the threat of climate change. “In advance of Paris, the good news highlighted in this report is that emerging markets truly can attract investment in clean energy,” Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. research at BNEF, wrote in an email. “The perhaps even better news is that this is being driven less by concerns about climate change than other factors.” Technology cost declines coupled with abundant natural resources have made renewables the lowest-cost energy option in many countries, he said. Solar PV costs, for instance, have dropped 15 percent year over year. This has made solar competitive with fossil-fuel generation, especially in sunny places with high electricity prices. According to GTM Research, average global PV system installed costs are expected to fall another 40 percent in the coming years, from $2.16 per watt in 2014 to $1.24 per watt by 2020.

For many emerging economies, the adoption of renewables is also tied to energy security. In many cases, countries rely on imports of coal and gas, and in some cases oil, which are vulnerable to price volatility and supply disruption. As demand has increased, multilateral development banks have also become more adept at financing clean energy projects in emerging economies. The World Bank, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and others have led successful investment initiatives separate from United Nations-led efforts. Renewable energy is still expected to be a strong focus at the upcoming U.N. climate talks, however. A separate report released this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that scaling up renewable energy to 36 percent of the global energy mix by 2030 would result in half of all emissions reductions needed to keep global warming below the 2 degree Celsius threshold. Energy-efficiency measures could make up the other half. To achieve a 36 percent share of total energy renewable energy adoption would have to increase sixfold from current levels. That would require global investment to reach $500 billion per year in the period leading up to 2020, and more than triple to $900 billion from 2021 to 2030. In 2014, overall clean energy investment totaled $310 billion, according to BNEF. Many stakeholders argue that rich countries that have benefited from decades of unrestrained fossil-fuel use have an obligation to financially support decarbonization efforts around the world. Disagreement over the responsibilities of “have” countries and “have-not” countries has played a role in derailing previous attempts to reach a global climate-change agreement.
According to Zindler, the BNEF Climatescope report helps to reframe the discussion.  Of the $126 billion invested in emerging markets, he noted that approximately 70 percent took place in China. Factoring in the remaining “BRIC” nations — Brazil, Russia and India — the total comes to more than $100 billion. With the addition of “middle-income” nations, the total rises further. So while the report shows that clean energy adoption can expand on its own today without a big international push, “the very least developed countries still account for just a tiny sliver of overall investment,” said Zindler. “I’d argue that the study suggests that the simple ‘have’ versus ‘have-nots’ dichotomy that often gets set up — with nations such as China and India putting themselves in the ‘have-nots’ category — probably requires a bit more nuance,” he added. “The largest emerging market nations along with others in the ‘middle-income’ category are achieving real results, largely without the help of an international pact. But the poorest nations still lag behind.”

By N.Jafry & G. Silvers

Reference : J.Pyper, Bloomberg Energy Finance


This Bike Path Paved With Solar Panels Shows That All Streets Could Double As Power Sources. If we want it, the road could literally be paved to a renewable energy future. A pilot test of the technology turned out a great success.
One year after a bike path outside Amsterdam was plastered with custom solar panels, it’s generating more power than predicted—and the designers are convinced that it’s proof that networks of solar-covered roads could eventually be a viable energy source.
While typical rooftop solar panels are cheaper to build and can pump out more power, the SolaRoad team argues that pavement could add valuable real estate as roofs start to fill up. In the Netherlands, there’s more available space on roads than all rooftops combined. Solar panels on rooftops are a no-brainer and fortunately the application is growing rapidly, says Sten de Wit from the SolaRoad consortium, adding that some cities are also experimenting with solar panels next to highways. If we can additionally incorporate solar cells in road pavements, then a large extra area will become available for decentralized solar energy generation without the need for extra space … and just part of the roads which we build and use anyway. Though the prototype was pricey, and the team doesn’t yet know what the final cost will be, they’re aiming for it to pay for itself over about 15 years of use. A solar-paved street could ultimately be cheaper than something made of asphalt or concrete.

 For cities and agencies responsible for building and maintaining roads—mainly governmental agencies—this is an interesting proposition if the total cost of ownership (sum of costs and benefits from energy production) of such a road over the life cycle would be comparable to or lower than with current roads,” says de Wit. “With SolaRoad we are developing such a road. 

The pavement could power streetlights, electric cars, or just send power into the local grid. After a year of testing, the road is generating about 70 kilowatt-hours per square meter a year, the upper range of what the researchers predicted was possible in the lab—that’s enough to about power a house three houses. (The effects of pollution, shading by passing cyclists, and other factors are difficult to assess in the lab, says de Wit. It turned out their initial estimates seem now too pessimistic.) For people riding by on bikes, the path looks and works no differently than the rest of the bike network. “Most people do not even notice the difference with a regular bike road,” he says. “That is exactly what we aim to achieve: roads doing whatever they have to do to be a proper road, while harvesting solar energy on the fly. As they work on finalizing their design for bike paths, the researchers are ultimately focused on making it strong enough to handle traffic on streets and highways. “The real potential of this innovation lies in application on regular roads,” says de Wit.  These roads have by far the largest area, all over the world.

By Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Understanding the Curating Of An Organization’s Culture

Business leaders believe a strong organizational culture is critical to success, yet culture tends to feel like some magic force that few know how to control. So most executives manage it according to their intuition. Although according to Lindsey Mcgreggor answering three questions can help transform culture from a mystery to a science: 1) How does culture drive performance? 2) What is culture worth? 3) What processes in an organization affect culture? In this article, we address each of these to show how leaders can engineer high performing organizational cultures and measure their impact on the bottom line.
How does culture drive performance?

After surveying over 20,000 workers around the world, analyzing 50 major companies, conducting scores of experiments, and scouring the landscape of academic research in a range of disciplines, we came to one conclusion: Why we work determines how well we work,

How to Be It takes a careful mix of mission, management, and culture. One 2013 study illustrates this well. Researchers asked almost 2,500 workers to analyze medical images for “objects of interest.” They told one group that the work would be discarded; they told the other group that the objects were “cancerous tumor cells.” The workers were paid per image analyzed. The latter group, or “meaning” group, spent more time on each image, earning 10% less, on average, than the “discard” group — but the quality of their work was higher. Reshaping the workers’ motive resulted in better performance. Academics have studied why people work for nearly a century, but a major breakthrough happened in the 1980s when professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester distinguished the six main reasons why people work. We built on their framework and adapted it for the modern workplace. The six main reasons people work are: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. The work of many researchers has found that the first three motives tend to increase performance, while the latter three hurt it. We found that the companies most famous for their cultures from Southwest Airlines to Trader Joe’s maximize the good motives, while minimizing the bad ones.
Play is when you are motivated by the work itself. You work because you enjoy it. A teacher at play enjoys the core activities of teaching — creating lesson plans, grading tests, or problem solving how to break through to each student. Play is our learning instinct, and it’s tied to curiosity, experimentation, and exploring challenging problems.

Purpose is when the direct outcome of the work fits your identity. You work because you value the work’s impact. For example, a teacher driven by purpose values or identifies with the goal of educating and empowering children.

Potential is when the outcome of the work benefits your identity. In other words, the work enhances your potential. For example, a teacher with potential may be doing his job because he eventually wants to become a principal. Since these three motives are directly connected to the work itself in some way, you can think of them as direct motives. They will improve performance to different degrees. Indirect motives, however, tend to reduce it.
Emotional pressure is when you work because some external force threatens your identity. If you’ve ever used guilt to compel a loved one to do something, you’ve inflicted emotional pressure. Fear, peer pressure, and shame are all forms of emotional pressure. When you do something to avoid disappointing yourself or others, you’re acting on emotional pressure. This motive is completely separate from the work itself. 

Economic pressure is when an external force makes you work. You work to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Now the motive is not only separate from the work itself, it is also separate from your identity. Finally, inertia is when the motive is so far removed from the work and your identity that you can’t identify why you’re working. When you ask someone why they are doing their work, and they say, “I don’t know; I’m doing it because I did it yesterday and the day before,” that signals inertia. It is still a motive because you’re still actually doing the activity, you just can’t explain why.

These indirect motives tend to reduce performance because you’re no longer thinking about the work you’re thinking about the disappointment, or the reward, or why you’re bothering to do it at all. You’re distracted, and you might not even care about the work itself or the quality of the outcome. It is observed that high performing culture maximizes the play, purpose, and potential felt by its people, and minimizes the emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. This is known as creating total motivation (ToMo). Take, for example, an experiment conducted by Teresa Amabile at Harvard. She assembled a group of poets to write a simple short poem on the topic of laughter. Before they wrote anything, she had one group read a list of “play” reasons for being a poet (“you enjoy the opportunity for self-expression” or “you like to play with words”), and she had the other group read a list of emotional and economic pressure reasons (“you want your writing teachers to be favorably impressed with your writing talent” or “you have heard of cases where one bestselling novel or collection of poems has made the author financially secure”). She found that the play group created poems that were later deemed about 26% more creative than the poems of the pressure group. The play group’s higher total motivation made a difference when it came to performance.
How to Measure Total Motivation

We survey employees of an organization, asking six questions–one for each motive. Each question determines how much of each motive a person feels in their work, on a scale between 1 (strongly disagree) and 7 (strongly agree). Then we use the following formula to calculate the individual’s total motivation, which is then used in calculating that of the organization:
(10 x the score for play) + (5 x purpose) + (1 2/3 x potential) – (1 2/3 x emotional pressure) – (5 x economic pressure) – (10 x inertia)
We determined the weighting of each motive by conducting regressions between each motive and performance across industries, and then simplified to build a simple metric that ranges from -100 to 100. The weights demonstrate that the closer the motive is to the work itself, the more it drives performance.

What is culture worth?

Creating a business case for culture isn’t impossible. While it is difficult to measure whether someone is being creative, proactive, or resilient in the moment, it’s actually not difficult to calculate total motivation. Using six questions, one for each motive, we can compute an organization’s ToMo using very simple math (see the sidebar for the calculation) and then determine its impact on performance. Take for example the airline industry. Players share the same terminals and use the same planes, but customer satisfaction differs widely across carriers. When we measured the total motivation of employees of four major airlines, and compared their cultures with an outcome like customer satisfaction (as measured by the ACSI / University of Michigan), we saw that an organization’s culture (as measured by ToMo) tightly predicted customer satisfaction. In other words, cultures that inspired more play, purpose, and potential, and less emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia, produced better customer outcomes. We saw this play out in retail, banking, telecommunications, and the fast food industry as well. And the impact isn’t limited to customer satisfaction. In one hedge fund, the highest performing portfolio managers had higher total motivation. And in one retail organization we worked with, we found that the difference between a low ToMo and high-ToMo sales associate was 30% in revenues.

What processes in an organization affect culture?

We have asked thousands of managers how they would define a high-performing culture. Most don’t have a great definition. So here is one: Culture is the set of processes in an organization that affects the total motivation of its people. In a high-performing culture, those processes maximize total motivation. When we measured how different processes affect employees’ total motivation, we learned a couple things: There is no silver bullet. Many processes affect people’s ToMo at work. By surveying thousands of US workers, we measured how much the elements of a workplace from how a job is designed to how performance is reviewed affect ToMo. What we tend to think that leadership matters most to motivation, other processes can have an even bigger impact. The x-axis shows the ToMo scale (which goes from -100 to 100). The grey bars represent the range to which each process affects an employee’s total motivation, as gathered from survey responses. For example, how a role is designed can swing total motivation by 87 points. A badly designed role results in ToMo scores as low as almost -40, whereas a well designed role can result in a ToMo as high as almost 50. That’s huge, given that in many industries, the most-admired cultures tend to have 15 points higher ToMo than their peers. Some companies make special efforts to design a highly motivating role. Toyota encourages play by giving factory workers the opportunity to come up with and test new tools and ideas on the assembly line. W. L. Gore & Associates gives people free time and resources to develop new ideas. And Southwest Airlines encourages their people to treat each customer interaction as play perhaps you’ve seen how some flight attendants have turned boring safety announcements into comedy sketches. The next most sensitive element is the identity of an organization, which includes its mission and behavioral code. For example, Medtronic enables its engineers and technicians to see the medical devices they’ve made in action, so that they can see the purpose of their work. The Chief Talent Officer at UCB Pharmaceuticals told us how he recently started inviting patients to executive meetings, so the people making decisions can see how their work makes a difference. And a Walmart executive told us that he kicked off management meetings by reviewing how much money his division had saved customers rather than how much money Walmart had made. The third most sensitive element is the career ladder in an organization. Recently, many companies have concluded that their system of evaluating their people, which drives the promotion process, tends to destroy performance. Systems where employees are stack-ranked or rated against each other will increase emotional and economic pressure, reducing total motivation and thus performance. As a result, companies from Microsoft to Lear are moving away from performance review systems that foster unhealthy competition. Culture is an ecosystem. The elements of culture interact with and reinforce each other. One example is sales commissions. In general, we found that having a sales commission decreases the ToMo of an individual. However, if that individual also believes that their work materially helps their customers, the commission increases their ToMo. This makes sense through the lens of total motivation: if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, the commission becomes your motive. That’s low-ToMo. If you do believe in what you’re doing, the commission is gravy. It may even help you track your progress, increasing play. That’s high-ToMo.
What leaders can do

Looking at all these processes together, it’s clear that culture is the operating system of an organization. Senior leaders can build and maintain a high-performing culture by teaching managers to lead in highly motivating ways. For example, one study of bank branch managers showed that offering high-ToMo leadership training led to a 20% increase in credit card sales and a 47% increase in personal loan sales. CEOs should make a business case for culture (with a budget) and enlist HR and business leaders to improve the elements that affect culture, from role design to performance reviews. Even without redesigning processes, however, team leaders can start improving the total motivation of their employees by: Holding a reflection huddle with your team once a week. Teams we’ve worked with hold an hour-long huddle once a week in which each person answers three questions directed at encouraging: 1) Play: What did I learn this week? 2) Purpose: What impact did I have this week? And 3) Potential: What do I want to learn next week? Explaining the why behind the work of your team. One executive at a retail store told us she often introduced a new project by saying, “We have to do this because Linda [the boss] asked for it.” This was motivating through emotional pressure, which was hurting her team’s performance. So she started explaining why a project would help the customer instead.

Considering how you’ve designed your team’s roles. Does everyone have a space to play? Think about where people should be free to experiment and make that clear. For example, a Starbucks manager told us that he lets each employee experiment with how they connect to each customer, and a bank manager we worked with said he encourages people to suggest process improvements. Then ask if everyone has the opportunity to witness the impact of their work, and think about what might help them build a stronger purpose. Finally, find out where each team member would like to be in two years — and come up with a plan to help their reach their potential. Overall A great culture is not easy to build it’s why high performing cultures are such a powerful competitive advantage. Yet organizations that build great cultures are able to meet the demands of the fast-paced, customer-centric, digital world we live in. More and more organizations are beginning to realize that culture can’t be left to chance. Leaders have to treat culture building as an engineering discipline, not a magical one.

By Naved Jafry & M.Dhanerawalla



As world leaders gathered in Paris for a grand conference on climate change, the 21st such get-together since the United Nations began to grapple with the issue. A torrent of pronouncements and promises has already issued forth—
from Pope Francis, Xi Jinping, Barack Obama and many others. The IMF warns that human fortunes will “evaporate like water under a relentless sun” if climate change is not checked soon. Especially in western Europe, but increasingly in America and China too, wind turbines and fields full of solar photovoltaic panels are becoming familiar features of the landscape. If you buy a car or a house in Europe, or even book a hotel room, you may well be told about its cost in carbon. Many companies, including The Economist Group, monitor their carbon-dioxide emissions and often set targets to reduce them. There is gleeful talk of coal, oil and gas falling from favour so quickly that energy firms will be left sitting on heaps of stranded assets. None of this, however, amounts to much. At the time of the first UN climate-change conference in 1995, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was 361 parts per million. Last year it reached 399 parts per million. Between 2000 and 2010 the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions was even faster than in the 1980s or 1990s. The hottest year since records began was 2014; average surface air temperatures so far this decade are about 0.9°C higher than they were in the 1880s. Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University, points to “a quarter of a century of nothing of substance being achieved”. The International Energy Agency, a think-tank, estimates that 13.5% of the world’s primary energy supply was produced from renewable sources in 2013. That sounds like a decent slice, but almost three-quarters of this renewable energy came from what are euphemistically known as “biofuels”. This mostly means burning wood, dung and charcoal in poor countries. Hydro-electric power, which has fallen from favour in the West because of its often ruinous effect on river ecosystems, was the world’s second most important source of renewable energy. Nuclear power, which is green but not renewable, supplied 5% of energy needs, and falling. Wind turbines, solar farms, tidal barriers, geothermal power stations and the like produced just 1.3% between them.The global effort to tackle climate change by imposing caps on countries’ greenhouse-gas emissions, which until recently was described as essential for saving the planet, is over. The UN’s boldest attempt to bind countries, the Kyoto protocol of 1997, expired in 2012. It had achieved little and become unworkable; its passing was not much lamented. No ambitious global deal will be signed in Paris, although whatever document emerges from the conference will no doubt be hailed as significant progress.
Rather than submitting themselves to caps, most countries now say they intend to reduce, or at least restrain, their own emissions. This fragmented, voluntary approach avoids the debate that had paralysed climate talks for years, about whether the burden of cutting greenhouse gases should be carried just by the rich world or spread more widely (a debate rendered absurd by the rise of China). It has the advantage of inclusiveness. Outside the oil rich Middle East, which is mostly ignoring the process, countries are at least thinking about what they could do.
America pledges that by 2025 it will cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels. South Korea says that by 2030 its emissions will be 37% below where they would be if the recent upward trend in emissions were projected forward. But even if it manages this, South Korea will be emitting 81% more greenhouse gases in 2030 than it did in 1990. On one matter the conference delegates have already agreed: global temperatures must not be allowed to rise by more than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Politicians and green groups have argued for years that anything more would be wildly dangerous. Almost every book and report about climate change treats this limit as inviolable. Barring a global catastrophe or the spectacular failure of almost every climate model yet devised, though, emissions of greenhouse gases will warm the world by more than 2°C. “It’s nice for people to talk about two degrees,” says Bill Gates, a philanthropist and investor. “But we don’t even have the commitments that are going to keep us below four degrees of warming.”


Changes in the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide, the biggest contributor to global warming, persist for centuries. So it is useful to imagine that mankind has a fixed carbon budget to burn through. Pierre Friedlingstein, a climatologist at Exeter University, calculates that if temperature rises are to be kept below 2°C, the world can probably emit about 3,200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in total. The tally so far is 2,000 gigatonnes. If annual emissions remain at present levels, the budget will be exhausted in just 30 years’ time. Global greenhouse gas emissions might indeed hold steady for a while. Total man-made emissions in 2014 were about the same as in 2013, according to the International Energy Agency. This year’s figure could even be slightly lower than last year’s. As this special report will show, the pause has little to do with the forests of wind turbines and solar panels that have popped up in Western countries, and much to do with developments in China. The bad news is that even if greenhouse gas emissions are stabilising, they are doing so at an exalted level, and there is little reason to suppose that the plateau will be followed by a downward slope. China might burn a little less coal in the next few years, but India will burn more and the Chinese will drive more cars. “A lot of poor countries are going to get a lot richer by burning fossil fuels,” predicts Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, a think-tank. Rich countries will continue to become cleaner, but not dramatically so, at least when the carbon content of the goods they import is added to the reckoning.

Climate change will not be bad for everything and everyone. Some cold countries will find that their fields can grow more crops; others will see fish migrate into their waters. With its ocean-moderated climate, Britain stands out as exceptionally favoured. Yet bad effects will increasingly outnumber benign ones almost everywhere. Some organisms will run into trouble well before the 2°C limit is breached. This special report will argue that climate change will have to be tackled more intelligently and more economically than it has been so far. Renewable energy is crucial. Contrary to what many claim, though, it is not true that existing solar and wind technologies could cheaply save the planet while also creating lots of green jobs if only they were subsidised for just a few more years. Those renewable power sources have cost consumers dear and mangled energy markets. Paying for yet more wind turbines and solar panels is less wise than paying for research into the technologies that will replace them.


Mankind will also have to think much more boldly about how to live under skies containing high concentrations of greenhouse gases. It will have to adapt, in part by growing crops that can tolerate heat and extreme weather, in part by abandoning the worst-affected places. Animals and plants will need help, including transporting them across national and even continental boundaries. More research is required on deliberately engineering the Earth’s atmosphere in order to cool the planet. It is often said that climate change is an urgent problem. If that were true, it might be easier to tackle. In fact it is a colossal but slow-moving problem, spanning generations. 

By Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Reference : Economist J. Budd 

Energy Storage & The Internet Of Things (IOT)


Even that massive energy grid is starting to come up against the demands of a power-hungry and carbon-conscious nation, however, with the help of two emerging technologies—the Internet of Things and innovative devices for energy storage—U.S. utilities, tech companies and energy researchers are in the process of reinventing the way we keep the lights on.
The phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT)
describes a vast network of devices that can monitor and manage energy use in everything, from thermostats and dishwashers to factories and office buildings (and a lot else)—even as it collects continuous tracking data on consumption that will allow the utilities to forecast and manage demand on the grid in real time and with great precision. Worldwide, the market for IoT-connected devices and the IT services that support them is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020, according to IDC, a market research firm in Framingham, Mass. Meanwhile, ingenious new ways to store energy—such as the lithium-ion batteries that Tesla will begin manufacturing within a year at its $5 billion Giga Factory in the Nevada desert—will help keep the grid in balance, storing excess energy when prices and demand are low, providing backup during outages and helping to bring renewable sources of energy online in scale. Though the electric grid has been called one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, the network is aging. “If…the technologies employed in the grid do not change, it is likely to be difficult to maintain acceptable reliability and electric rates,” warns an MIT study titled The Future of the Electric Grid. “The U.S. electric utility industry has historically devoted a very small fraction of its revenues to R&D, instead relying primarily on its suppliers for innovation.” The grid matches energy supply to demand as it happens and cannot store energy. As a result, generators that rely on fuels such as coal, oil, gas and nuclear have to be powered up and down to meet fluctuating demand. Power systems are built to be as big as they are so that they can meet peak demand—during the hottest days of the year, for example, when all air conditioners are blasting. But much of the time, plants stand idle. From 2005 to 2009 in New York and New England, more than 30 percent of capacity was in use less than 12 percent of the time, according to the MIT study.On an early autumn afternoon in 1882, steam dynamos started driving electricity out of the Edison Illuminating Company on Pearl Street in Manhattan. One of the first commercial power plants in the United States, it was capable of lighting a grand total of 400 light bulbs. Today’s electrical grid—six million miles of high-voltage transmission and distribution lines that link a network of generating stations—serves electricity to 143 million residential, commercial, government and industrial customers.

By using IoT technology to gather precise metrics, such as running time and power consumption of air-conditioning units, smart homes, smart buildings and even smart cities, we will be able to make more precise predictions of the load on utilities, leading to both greater energy efficiency and a reduction of strain on the grid. Nearly half of those who have bought smart home products say they would allow energy providers to adjust their thermostats, according to Parks Associates, a market research firm in Mountain View, Calif. In exchange, utilities could offer a peak-time rebate. “Peak-time rebates represent a pay-for-performance model that does not require exhaustive pilots,” writes Tom Kerber, director of research, home controls and energy at Parks Associates. “Understanding customers’ daily usage and likely participation in an event allows retailers to create a plan for purchasing power on the day-ahead market and bidding demand response into the spot market.”
In commercial offices, BuildingIQ’s Cloud-based software taps into existing sensors that measure pressure and temperature, making changes to the air handler that result in a 10 to 25 percent reduction in heating and cooling energy expenses. Some utilities are providing the software to their largest customers, calling on them to reduce energy automatically during demand response events. IoT technology will also have a huge impact outside homes, in cities where sensors can detect patterns to determine when the lights should go on. “We’re moving in the direction where the infrastructures we build will be smarter when it comes to energy usage,” says Jason Mars, a computer engineering professor at the University of Michigan. With the advent of renewable energy, cutting-edge batteries will also reshape the power grid. In 2010, renewable sources of energy other than hydropower accounted for only 4.2 percent of U.S. generation, according to figures cited in the MIT grid paper, but that figure varies greatly by state. In 2013, California’s three big investor-owned utility companies received 22.7 percent of their electricity from renewables other than hydropower, according to the state’s Public Utilities Commission. By 2020, legislation mandates that renewables must be up to a third.
But the supply of renewable energy fluctuates. Compared to a coal-fired plant, such sources may not produce the same amount from one hour to the next—for example, if a cloud passes over the sun or the wind starts to gust—making it difficult for grid operators to match supply with demand.“Supercharged batteries with enough capacity to light up a neighborhood could transform the grid.”For this reason, among others, the grid of the future must nimbly manage power from many sources. The solution is in storage technology, including such novel approaches as storing power in compressed air (PowerSouth Energy Cooperative in Alabama) or in molten sand and glass (Solar Reserve’s project at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada). Other innovators are working with flywheels in a vacuum (which store rotational energy) and pumped hydropower (which pushes water to higher elevations in off-peak periods and storing it in the form of future gravitational energy).
Supercharged batteries with enough capacity to light up a neighborhood could transform the grid. As the cost of the technology drops, consumers will be able to fill batteries with excess solar energy or draw from the grid when demand and prices are low—and then use power stored in the batteries when demand on the grid is high or if the supply falters during the day due to weather.
In the spring, Tesla, the Palo Alto–based maker of luxury electric vehicles, announced it would begin selling stationary rechargeable batteries. “The response has been overwhelming,” chief executive Elon Musk said during the company’s earnings call in May. “There is no way that we could possibly satisfy the demand this year. We are basically sold out through the middle of next year.”
San Mateo’s Solar City, which designs, finances and installs solar power systems, expects the cost of its batteries to drop as manufacturing scales up, said chief executive Peter Rive, during the company’s last earnings call. “Over the next five to 10 years, these cost reductions will make it feasible to deploy battery by default with all of our solar power systems… Battery spread throughout the distribution system can lower the cost of grid service.” Sungevity, an Oakland-based developer of rooftop power systems, will begin selling energy storage manufactured by Germany’s Sonnenbatterie GmbH in the U.S. and Europe later this year. The lithium-ion cells can be recharged 10,000 times.Electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles may also have a role in managing the grid. If plugged in and not in use, the car’s battery could serve as an operating reserve.“Vehicles are parked the vast majority of the time,” says Samveg Saxena, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who is developing models of how millions of plug-in vehicles would impact the grid—research that has been of great interest to utilities, energy regulators and automobile companies. “They’re only used for mobility sometimes. Grid storage becomes a side effect of deploying clean transportation.”

Assuming the financial incentives are attractive enough, vehicle owners may someday be willing to sell the energy stored in their batteries during peak periods on the grid.“We’ve barely scratched the surface of that potential,” said Rahul Tongia, a Brookings India expert on energy delivery, adding that the total horsepower of vehicles in the U.S. is larger than the horsepower of the grid. “The electrical grid is more than a hundred years old, and we shouldn’t expect miracles. We should aim for long-term solutions, and at the end of the day, there is no one answer and no one solution.”

Compiled By Naved Jafry & Garson Silvers

Courtesy :The Atlantic Rethink