Daniel Jones became a good friend during the building of the Greeny Flat. At the time Daniel had just completed a degree in engineering at the University of Wollongong and had recently been a member of UoW’s victorious 2013 Solar Decathlon winning ‘Illawarra Flame House‘ team. Daniel was keen to gain more on-site construction experience so he drove up from Wollongong once a week to help us build the Greeny Flat.
Two years later Daniel is completing a Masters Degree through the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, working for Repower Shoalhaven and in his own words…
When they use the bathroom they leave the door open so air flow should be reasonable.
Mould in bathrooms (and elsewhere in homes) is such a common issue that I thought I would share with you my reply to Daniel. After spending a number of years performing energy audits on buildings in Montana I saw a LOT of mould problems and did a lot of study on the causes and possible solutions. So here’s what I suggested to Daniel which I hope some readers will find helpful…
- Reduce the relative humidity
- Increase the surface temperatures
Minor Correction and Apology
In last week’s Newsletter I mistakenly described Mary Bowe as an Architect. Mary is in fact a Building Designer with a Degree in Environmental Design and is a member of Building Designers Australia and the Australian Passive House Association. Sorry about that.
More on Lithium Battery Recycling
Also in last week’s Newsletter I asked if any readers knew more about the recyclability of Lithium Ion batteries. A reader named Mark provided the following assessment of the situation…
In terms of lithium battery recycling I do believe this is just a matter of critical mass. Lead acid batteries have been around for a century and in this time the infrastructure has developed around them. Lithium is, as far as I know, highly recyclable in terms of recovery rates (even if the packs might be difficult to work with). It’s also reasonably scarce, and reasonably expensive (although prices are dropping). The fact it’s also often used in much larger systems (much bigger than a starter battery) means you tend to have a lot of it in one spot. It should be easier to get 16+kwh of batteries in one pack to a recycling plant, than to do so across hundreds of units in different locations.
At this point I just think we aren’t seeing a lot of batteries reach end of life. I believe at this stage nearly every failed EV battery has been taken back by the manufacturer for analysis and testing – people are actually keen to get a hold of them and are often unable to. There is great possibility for secondary stationary reuse of these battery packs before they are recycled (I have heard the Nissan LEAF factory uses old LEAF packs for power storage).
I understand large format Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries are now generally recovered for recycling – but it took about ten years.
Thanks Mark, that all seems very reasonable to me.
Things That Caught My Eye This Week
This Energy Matters article describes a new type of solar installation that involves up to 100kW of flexible panels that can be unrolled and deployed in minutes. ‘Renovagen says from go to whoa, the system can be fully deployed to the point of plugging in appliances in less than 5 minutes after arriving at a site’... Sounds amazing!
Designing for Trust
In this fascinating TED talk, Joe Gebbia describes the birth of AirBnB and how they have learned to get people to welcome complete strangers into their most private spaces.
Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions De-couple from Economic Growth
This article from The Guardian states that, for the first time in the forty years we have been monitoring them, greenhouse gas emissions leveled off at the same time as the global economy has grown. There have been a few other brief periods where emissions slowed but they occurred during economic recessions. ‘Preliminary data for 2015 from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector have levelled off at 32.1bn tonnes even as the global economy grew over 3% .’
The bad news is that we are still at record high levels of GHG emissions but the good news is they haven’t increased. This may well indicate that the tide is finally turning away from fossil-fuel-derived energy and towards renewables and energy conservation.
‘The figures are significant because they prove to traditionally sceptical treasuries that it is possible to grow economies without increasing climate emissions… The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth’.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I firmly believe that we won’t find a true solution until we move away from the current economic model that requires perpetual growth at all costs. Only when we work within a system that strives for balance in all things will we truly be on track to nurture the environment that nurtures us.
A friend in the States just sent me this shocking article from the Sightline Institute which describes how the executives of the huge Arch Coal Company paid themselves an 8 Million dollar bonus ONE BUSINESS DAY before the company filed for bankruptcy. Apparently they paid themselves more than $29 Million in bonuses in the year leading up to the bankruptcy. Unfortunately this sort of unbridled greed and corruption seems to be rife in the upper management of corporations and governments around the world. I’ll be amazed if anyone is ever brought to justice over it but the backlash might take America in an even scarier direction. Donald Trump’s popularity is largely due to ordinary Americans being sick to death of Wall Street cronies making insane fortunes while everyone else struggles to keep their head above water. How this mad Billionaire has managed to convince America that he is somehow different from all the other super-rich blood suckers is beyond me. Meanwhile I try not to image what it could mean for the world if he actually became President and Commander-in-Chief.
The silver lining to this cloud is the news that nearly fifty of the major American coal companies have gone into liquidation (as reported in the Sightline Article). Hopefully this marks the beginning of the end for Big Coal and hopefully it won’t take too long before Australia’s politicians realise that coal is not the answer to all their prayers and they’ll stop given Korean companies permission to open new coal mines near historic villages like Berrima or loading docks near the Great Barrier Reef.