It’s always good to hear about smart meter startups gaining ground. Eka is just such a start up, and it has landed a deal with GE Energy to integrate GE meters with Eka’s wireless smart meter system.
GE recognizes that smart meters and smart gridsystemsare coming and might as well get ahead of the curve by providing desired equipment and software. To that end, GE is pairing up its I-210+ meter family with the EkaNet Smart Network Advanced Metering Infrastructure solution.
The system provides the ability to network utilities, including electric, water and gas with smart grid devices so customers can monitor usage and utility companies can figure out more intelligent structures for pricing and access to resources. So we’re that much closer to an ubiquitous smart grid.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric is getting on board with the inevitable – smart grids. They’ve paired up with Greenbox Technology and Silver Spring Networks to provide an interactive energy management platform for users.
The program uses a web-based interface to help users manage their energy consumption, and cut their bills down through tracking habits and conservation. While not that different from the many programs we’ve seen lately, Greenbox is pretty cool in that it sends users email reports and alerts about what’s going on in their home, educating them about pricing, historical trends, and making the whole concept very user friendly. They interface with Silver Spring Networks, which supports all the applications Greenbox utilizes.
The hand-holding of Greenbox, Silver Sling Networks and OG&E underscores all the happy connections different agencies have to make to get something like a smart grid up and running – a really, really tough thing to do. The program is a bit of a trial run, and will be the guinea pig for larger scale deployment of smart grid programs. Hopefully, it works smoothy, and we can see some set-ups happening on a national scale.
There are a lot of ways to get electronic books, like NetLibrary, Kindle, and so forth. But the titles are often limited. EcoBrain is onto this issue, and is providing an eco-sensitive way to get eco-educated.
They’ve started an online book store on environmental studies that is totally paperless. The main goal of the company is to reduce the environmental impact of reading. Going paperless is a sure-fire way to do that.
Readers can choose from hundreds of books in different areas, from environmental studies to fiction, from memoirs to day hikes, from green building to gardening, from renewable energy to kids books. While there are hundreds of titles, it’s a bit of a bummer that it is so niche. But a whole lot of other sites have the ebook thing covered, so niche marketing works in this case.
The company is only a year old, and more titles are rapidly being added to the library. The downloaded formats work with Adobe Reader, Palm Reader or Microsoft Reader, and there is also a selection of audiobooks in MP3 format. So if you’re running out of green reading material, can’t find many eco-titles at NetLibrary, or haven’t yet gotten your hands on a Kindle, EcoBrain is worth a look-see.
IBM is no slouch when it comes to going green. Now they’re helping others to do the same. The company has started up a Green Sigma consulting practice that coaches businesses on how to reduce their energy and water usage to save tons of money, improve their image to customers, and of course help out the environment.
The system uses networked sensors and data analysis software that watches how much is used at a company’s facility as well as its supply chain partners, monitors the numbers, and suggests ways to cut back.
The system is in pilot project mode right now, but we can be pretty sure that if it is relatively successful, companies will be able to utilize it soon. And it has been relatively successful so far. IBM made some big conservation moves of its own and at two of its facilities and at two customers’ facilities to save $310 million. One solution of instituting a work-at-home program saved 8 million gallons of gas. IBM improved energy efficiency at its Dublin, Ireland operation by 20%.
Companies are under serious strain to save money in our crummy economy, and show increasingly aware consumers that they’re green at heart so that people will keep buying their product or service. Reducing consumption is really the easiest way to kill two birds with one stone.
Having a company like IBM launch a really serious platform with which to do this on a large scale is encouraging, since it hopefully means we’ll see some actual conservation happening soon.
Figuring that many kids are glued to the computer already, it makes sense that rather than dragging them kicking and screaming into nature where they can actually interact with the world around them, we plunk them down in front of a video game that shows how their actions impact their environment. Fair trade for city dwellers and those with parents who don’t like bugs, I suppose.
The Eco Ego game lets users make choices on what the protagonist does during a daily routine, and then shows if and how those actions positively or negatively affect the environment. For instance, when going to market, kids have to choose if the protagonist rides a bike or drives a car, and if they use a plastic bag or reusable tote. The choices melt the ice and kill the plants, or allow things to flourish. Kids can then get an idea about what actions are no-nos or yes-yeses. Not nearly as complicated as Climate Challenge, but along the same what-if lines.
In actuality, it has been shown to the point of common knowledge that kids who spend time in the great outdoors tend to have stronger environmental concerns and live with more eco-awareness, let alone are just plain healthier. But, hey, a free and relatively pretty cool computer game gets the point across in the short term, teaches kids many different ways they can be green, and shows them that by sitting indoors using up fossil fuels will make going outdoors increasingly less pleasant.
This would be a very good tool to have in a classroom – kids can see immediate results of actions, and then think about consequences while teacher takes them all outside to run around and play in the trees.