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This is a repost of something passed onto me that I found very interesting (thanks K2)

Next Great Depression? MIT researchers predict ‘global economic collapse’ by 2030

By Eric Pfeiffer
(AP/Andy Wong)
A new study from researchers at Jay W. Forrester’s institute at MIT says that the world could suffer from “global economic collapse” and “precipitous population decline” if people continue to consume the world’s resources at the current pace.
Smithsonian Magazine writes that Australian physicist Graham Turner says “the world is on track for disaster” and that current evidence coincides with a famous, and in some quarters, infamous, academic report from 1972 entitled, “The Limits to Growth.”
Produced for a group called The Club of Rome, the study’s researchers created a computing model to forecast different scenarios based on the current models of population growth and global resource consumption. The study also took into account different levels of agricultural productivity, birth control and environmental protection efforts. Twelve million copies of the report were produced and distributed in 37 different languages.
Most of the computer scenarios found population and economic growth continuing at a steady rate until about 2030. But without “drastic measures for environmental protection,” the scenarios predict the likelihood of a population and economic crash.
However, the study said “unlimited economic growth” is still possible if world governments enact policies and invest in green technologies that help limit the expansion of our ecological footprint.
The Smithsonian notes that several experts strongly objected to “The Limit of Growth’s” findings, including the late Yale economist Henry Wallich, who for 12 years served as a governor of the Federal Research Board and was its chief international economics expert. At the time, Wallich said attempting to regulate economic growth would be equal to “consigning billions to permanent poverty.”
Turner says that perhaps the most startling find from the study is that the results of the computer scenarios were nearly identical to those predicted in similar computer scenarios used as the basis for “The Limits to Growth.”
“There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” Turner said. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”

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As companies increasingly turn their attention to the environmental impact of doing business, they are learning that sustainable practices help reduce costs and increase efficiency. An effective sustainability plan not only assesses how to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and minimize waste to landfills, but also fosters employee investment in a “go green” culture and lifestyle at home.

One area where many companies are directly reducing their environmental impact is through the management of their supply chain. Working with their suppliers, companies can reduce excess packaging and waste by insisting products be shipped in multi-packs or reusable containers. For example, Lockheed Martin has achieved cost savings through a new program with Staples by purchasing green products, including recycled paper, which has saved nearly 9,000 trees in one year alone.

Some companies are creating a “go green” culture by taking steps to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, purchasing renewable energy credits and setting up “green zones,” where employees commit to reducing their energy use. LEED certified buildings help reduce energy costs and efficiency and reinforce a company’s commitment to sustainability.

Supporting environmental education programs and initiatives of environmental organizations helps employees to get involved in environmental initiatives outside of the company and learn more about how they can support sustainability efforts. Lockheed Martin supports environmental education as part of its overall science, technology, engineering and math outreach efforts. Its engineers lead classroom events using environmental science lesson plans and the company sponsors National Environmental Education Week that precedes Earth Day.

Dr. David Constable, corporate vice president of energy, environment, safety and health for Lockheed Martin, suggests that companies consider the following when developing sustainable business processes:

1. Set ambitious but reasonable goals to reduce environmental impacts
Identify areas where the company can reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and reduce waste through recycling. These initiatives often result in significant cost savings for companies that execute them properly.

2. Develop employee programs and incentives to encourage participation in sustainability initiatives
Offer employees who make an ENERGY STAR pledge a worthwhile incentive. Disseminate information about how they can reduce energy use at home and in the office.

3. Consolidate data servers and IT operations where possible
Reducing the number of data servers ultimately lowers electricity use, frees up office space and results in significant cost savings.

4. Identify projects that will help to reduce the use of natural resources and disposal of waste to landfills
Implementing a comprehensive recycling program is a simple, cost-efficient way to reduce waste going to the landfill.

Effective corporate sustainability practices equal responsible business practices. Minimizing carbon emissions, reducing waste to landfill and conserving water are not only environmental imperatives but essential to reducing costs and maximizing efficiency.

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For facility managers, there’s no question that enhancing a building’s energy efficiency is not only a green way to go but is also a smart way to reduce utilities and improve the bottom line.

Unfortunately, the most obvious ways to improve a building’s energy efficiency also require a high initial investment – from window replacement to installing more modern HVAC components, such as a new chiller or boiler, or installing a completely new HVAC system.

Luckily, there are several building improvements with proven energy efficiency that require modest initial investment and result in impressively quick ROI.

1. Window Films
Perhaps the most often overlooked energy-efficiency solution provides a simple and fast installation. Adding a high-technology film to existing windows is a proven way to reduce the amount of energy lost through windows – and with quick, hassle free professional installation, tenants receive very minimal disruption.

A smart alternative to window replacement, window films help control overall operating costs and balance building temperatures, as well as reduce the load on HVAC systems, which in turn prolongs HVAC life.

Impressively, average payback on window films is often less than three years, which is quite an improvement over window replacement, which often takes longer than 15-20 years. As an added benefit, many utility companies offer rebates (http://dsireusa.org/summarytables/finee.cfm) specific to window films that cover as much as 50% of installation costs, greatly increasing the speed of ROI. (If your utility company doesn’t list window films specifically, they may still be eligible for Custom Measures rebates which can offset installation costs by as much as 30%.)

2. High Efficiency Lighting
Switching to high efficiency lighting is as smart as it is simple. Not only does it use less energy, but it also generates less heat, which reduces the load on cooling systems.

According to Energy Star, a lighting power reduction of 40% increases a building’s Energy Star rating by about 10 points. The Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual is a great place to start when planning lighting upgrades for a building (www.energystar.gov/BldgManual).

3. Energy Management Systems
An energy management system consists of a combination of building management systems and advanced software solutions that work together to control a building’s HVAC operations.

The system monitors and adjusts heating and cooling based on environmental conditions and usage (such as when the building or a particular area is empty). The system ensures optimal energy usage, resulting in greater efficiency and lower utility costs.

4. Lighting Controls
Similar to energy management systems, lighting controls work to optimize lighting based on actual usage and environmental conditions.

Manual dimming switches, or sliders, are the simplest way to allow occupants to reduce the amount of light used, in turn reducing the amount of energy used.

Occupancy sensors detect lack of movement and turn off or dim lights when rooms are unoccupied.

Daylighting is an option for regions with year-round sunlight. Photosensors detect natural light and dim or turn off the lights, allowing the occupants to rely on the sunlight when possible. Drawbacks to this solution include solar heat gain and glare, but both can be reduced by pairing this improvement with window films.

5. Weather Sealing
When you take measures to keep cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter, you naturally reduce the burden on HVAC equipment, which can save energy and money.

Weather sealing can be as simple as caulking and weatherstripping cracks, holes and leaks in your building envelope. With new construction, look to a drainage plane such as building paper or house wrap to do the job.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates gas savings of greater than 40% and electrical savings greater than 25% when you improve the air barrier of your building envelope.

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Ten Easy Steps to More Energy-Efficient Buildings
Start by changing the culture
The U.S. is awash in commercial building space—enough to account for 18% of the country’s energy consumption, including 36% of electricity usage. And much of that energy is wasted.
1. Change the Culture
Take inventory of your office space. How many employees have space heaters at their desks? Minifridges? Christmas lights still blinking away? It’s time to get ruthless. First, create an inviting area for shared microwaves, coffee makers and combination printer-fax-copiers. Then ban cubicle energy hogs and challenge employees to change their culture. Everyone should make a point of turning off lights, shutting down unused appliances and wearing a sweater in lieu of using a heater. Try efficiency contests among departments (with prizes!) to spark interest.
2. Shut ‘Em Down
Consider installing a system on your computer network that will put individual desktops into sleep mode when they’re not being used. Or timers that shut down workers’ computers 15 minutes after the scheduled end of their shift. (Those working late can override the shutdown with a click of the mouse.) Same thing with appliances and lights: Set them to shut off after everyone has gone home. This can cut utility costs 4% or more.
3. See the Light
Simply swapping out incandescent bulbs for more-efficient compact fluorescents or LEDs can help a great deal. One project manager of a large building focused on energy-efficient retrofits, increased the distance between hallway fixtures to 16 feet from 12 feet and had the walls repainted a lighter color so the space still looked bright. That cut energy use in the 110,000-square-foot renovated space by 5% at a fairly low cost, he says.
4. Go Retro
Commission an audit of the heating, air-conditioning and other building systems to compare their performance with design specifications. That may identify simple fixes—cleaning filters, replacing a leaky valve—that can significantly improve efficiency. It may be possible to shave energy use 4% to 6% through such techniques, known as retrocommissioning.
5. Let the Sun Shine
Willing to spend a bit more? Consider daylighting. Several companies sell rooftop devices that capture sunlight and distribute it more effectively than a skylight. Daylighting can eliminate the need for overhead lighting, at least on sunny days, cutting energy use by 10% to 15%.
6. Spruce Up the Space Plan
If you’re planning a cosmetic renovation, take the opportunity to make some energy-saving changes, too. Try lowering cubicle walls to facilitate the flow of air and sunlight. Eliminate some overhead fixtures, especially those near sunny windows, or at least install daylight sensors that automatically dim the lights when they’re not needed. If employees need stronger task lighting, give them LED desk lamps.
7. Loosen Up
It takes loads of energy to maintain a constant temperature. Replace existing thermostats with models that allow “dead bands.” Setting a dead band of 69 to 75 degrees means the heating, ventilating and AC system won’t kick in unless the building temperature drops below 69 or rises above 75. This step can pare costs 3% or more.
8. Control Your Fans
In many heating and air-conditioning units, the fans have just two settings: off or full speed. Installing variable-speed fans can yield big gains in efficiency. Another tip: If there are multiple units for one floor, make sure they can operate independently, so only the space being used on any given day is heated or cooled. A building manager in Denver took these steps in the law firm he renovated and cut electricity usage by 9%.
9. Upgrade the Envelope
Upgrades to the building envelope are the most expensive. Windows are an obvious place to start. And roofs painted in light, reflective colors don’t absorb solar heat, thus keeping buildings cooler during the summer.
10. Head Back to the Future
Many older buildings were designed to be comfortable without central air conditioning, but over time, windows, skylights and door transoms were sealed up and the buildings ceased to breathe. Consider reactivating the power of passive heating and cooling by making those openings operational again.

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6 Methods for Gaining LEED Compliance

While saving time and money…

1.Keep it Simple
Knowing how much documentation is necessary to satisfy the requirements can save the project team precious time, effort and therefore money. A 3rd party can help you shave your time and monetary commitments by helping to give guidance on documentation requirements. By requesting only the amount of documents required to demonstrate LEED compliance, in addition to knowing exactly what is required, helps project teams achieve certification with the least amount of effort.

2,Choose Right
Assessing which set of credits are best suited for your project requires experience and special insight. Every project is different with unique sets of circumstances that make the achievement-potential of specific credits better than for others. Identifying these opportunities is key to eliminating wasted time and effort which equates to saving project money. In addition, the cost of some credits varies significantly based on the building type, function and region-specific issues.

3.Set Goals Early
Getting started on the LEED path in the conceptual stage of the project helps reduce costs and ensures the most effective efforts will be applied, rather than scrapped or neglected due to timing.

4.Apply Common Sense
Attaining energy efficiencies using the simplest and most common sense approach can help you gain LEED points while keeping implementation costs down. We have found that going green does not have to be expensive and energy-saving equipment installations have the best returns when given the proper design and operation considerations. The process of attaining energy efficiency at a low cost does not have to be arduous.

5.Know the Scope of State and Federal Incentive Programs
Some programs can eliminate 90% of your premium costs for sustainable construction installations. This is big savings that helps one achieve a quicker return on investment. Make sure you know how to navigate the protocols and requirements of these tax incentive programs, so you can achieve your environmental and energy efficiency goals.

6.Hire Specialists
The USGBC is a great resource to locate consultants or architects who can provide the type of LEED expertise to help you begin your journey towards reaching a sustainability standard for your project. Good Luck

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Don’t be consumed by endless “urgent” tasks. You’ll have no time left for important work.  

Busy people have two options when they decide how their workdays will go: they can choose to be reactive to urgent demands on their time, or proactive about focusing on what they decide is important. The only way to actually get things done is to mitigate the urgent to work on the important.

Let’s differentiate between what I call urgent and what I call important.

Urgent tasks include things like:

  • That Frantic email that needs a response RIGHT NOW
  • A sudden request or report due just before a meeting
  • A sudden request that seems like it’ll only take two minutes but often ends up taking an hour

More often than not “urgent” is:

  • Putting out fires
  • Busywork
  • Tasks that you’d rather do first because they’re less intimidating than your current project list
  • Usually short-term

We’re drawn to urgent tasks because they keep us busy and make us feel needed. (If we’re busy people, we must be important people.) But dealing with a constant stream of urgent tasks leaves you wrung out at the end of the day, wondering where all the time went, staring at the actual work you’ve got to complete.

 On the flip side, important work:

  • Moves you and your business toward your goals
  • Doesn’t give us that same shot of adrenaline that urgent requests do
  • Can involve thinking out long-term goals, being honest about where you are and where you want to be
  • Can be plain hard work that feels boring and tedious

On a personal level, important work may include making time to get to the gym everyday. On a business level, important work may be devising your yearly plan, breaking it down into quarterly and monthly deliverables, and evaluating your current performance against last year’s plan. (Doesn’t the mere thought of going to the gym and deciding on the year’s goals make you want to check your email? Still, that’s the work that will help you meet your goals.)

If your workplace encourages that frantic vibe of headless-chicken running and constant urgency, it can feel impossible to focus on what’s important versus what’s urgent. Still, an awareness of the difference and a few simple techniques can help.

 Choose three important tasks to complete each day. Write them down on a slip of paper, and keep it visible on your desk. When you have a moment, instead of checking your email, look at the slip of paper and work on an item. Keep the list to just three tasks, and see how many can complete.

Turn off your e-mail. Shut down Outlook, turn off new email notifications on your Blackberry, and do whatever else you have to do to muffle the interruption of email. When you decide to work on one of your important tasks, give yourself at least an hour at least of uninterrupted time to complete it. If the Web is too much of a temptation, disconnect your computer from the Internet for that hour.

Set up weekly 20-minute meeting with yourself. Put it on your calendar, and don’t book over it—treat it with the same respect you’d treat a meeting with your boss. If you don’t have an office door or you work in an open area that’s constantly busy, book a conference room for your meeting. Go there to be alone. Bring your project list, to-do list, and calendar, and spend the time reviewing what you finished in the past week, and what you want to get done next week. This is a great time to choose your daily three important tasks. Productivity author David Allen refers to this as the “weekly review,” and it’s one of the most effective ways to be mindful of how you’re spending your time.

By Gina Trapani

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The prices of natural gas and coal-based electricity may at times show some correlation because they are both part of the energy sector. There are times when their prices will show divergence instead of correlation because the prices of coal and natural gas can be affected by different environmental factors.

Supply and Demand

  1. Supply and demand are what drive prices, so any overall increase in demand for energy will cause both gas and coal to go up in price. Conversely, any overall increase in energy supply will drive gas and coal prices down. In that sense the prices of the two energy sources are correlated.

Winter

  1. During the winter months in temperate regions, people tend to need more heat from natural gas and stay indoors using electricity more. The two prices will be correlated because of an increase in demand for both.

Shortages

  1. Divergence in the two prices can occur if there is a shortage in one and no increase in demand for the other. In the mid-2000s, there was a natural gas shortage in the world that caused the price to spike, but coal remained stable so there was no correlation.

The Effect of Renewable Energy Sources

  1. As more renewable energy sources come onto the market they will likely drive demand for natural gas and coal down, causing a correlation between the two. The price of electricity might also drop if it is based on renewable energy sources.

It Is Multifactorial

The fact is that sometimes there is a correlation between the prices of natural gas and electricity, and sometimes there is not. There are many factors that determine the correlation and predicting them is a very complex task.

By Timothy Banas, eHow Contributor

updated: January 22, 2010

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