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EREN Network News

September 8, 1999

News and Events

  • DOE Provides $8.2 Million for Building Energy Research
  • White House Chief of Staff Stresses Need For R&D Funding
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Promotes Urban Trees
  • EIA Adjusts Energy Projections for Warming Trend
  • Energy Smart Schools Holds National Contest for Kids
  • Electric Bike Company Now Selling Electric Mini-Cars

Site News

  • WebRAPS (Remote Area Power Supply)

Energy Facts and Tips

  • Bicycles Are Highly Energy-Efficient Transportation
  • The Sun's Path: Getting Your Directions Right

About this Newsletter


News and Events

DOE Provides $8.2 Million for Building Energy Research
DOE announced September 2nd the award of $8.2 million in funding for 19 research and development projects relating to building energy efficiency. The projects range from fuel-cell systems for on-site power generation to more energy- efficient water heaters; lights; and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. For more information, see the DOE press release.


White House Chief of Staff Stresses Need For R&D Funding
Federal investments in research and development (R&D) are important and should be increased, according to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta. Speaking before the National Press Club on September 1st, Podesta included energy research in his list of R&D funding priorities.

"Advances in environmental science and technology hold tremendous promise for the creation of a sustainable future—la future where environmental health, economic prosperity, and quality of life are mutually reinforcing," said Podesta. "Manufacturing processes that emit zero waste, ultra-clean fuel cells, and cars that get 80 miles per gallon are well within our reach."

For a transcript of the speech, search the White House Web site by inserting "Podesta" in the search box.


U.S. Department of Agriculture Promotes Urban Trees
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced on September 1st a national effort to plant more trees in urban areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take the first step by contributing 100 trees to each state's capital city and to the District of Columbia, to help create "Millennium Groves." In a speech to the National Urban Forest Conference, Glickman said he is asking each governor to work with the USDA on efforts to expand urban green space. Among other benefits, trees provide a natural cooling effect, helping to avoid the tendency for buildings and pavement to absorb solar energy and raise the temperature in urban areas—an effect known as urban heat islands. For more information, see the USDA press release.

For more information on the energy benefits of trees, see the fact sheet, "Cooling Our Cities," on EREN.


EIA Adjusts Energy Projections for Warming Trend
DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced September 1st that it was adjusting its energy projections to account for a warming trend. The EIA adjustment was based on a report earlier this year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which noted that average temperatures in the lower 48 states had risen more than half a degree Fahrenheit since the mid-1960s. The trend decreases EIA's projection for total U.S. energy use next winter by about 1 percent, while increasing next summer's projection by about 0.2 percent. For more information, see the EIA press release.


Energy Smart Schools Holds National Contest for Kids
DOE's Energy Smart Schools Web site now features a national contest for students in the fourth through sixth grades. Students are asked to submit an essay of 100 words or less, explaining why "Saving Energy Starts with Me." Prizes include 22 saving bonds of $250 each; 10 round trips to Washington, D.C.; and 2 round trips to New York City. The contest, sponsored by DOE and Owens Corning, has an entry deadline of October 15th. For more information, see the contest on the Energy Smart Schools Web site.

For teachers, the Web site also features new in-class activities for fourth through sixth grade teachers. Teachers can download the materials.


Electric Bike Company Now Selling Electric Mini-Cars
ZAP, long known as a seller of electric-powered bicycles, announced September 1st that it has expanded its product line to include small electric cars. The "neighborhood electric vehicle"—as the company refers to it—is designed for short trips within a radius of a couple miles. The open-air, bubble- shaped car travels up to 25 miles per hour and carries two to four passengers. For visitors to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, the company is also making the vehicles available to rent. For more information, see the ZAP press release.


Site News

WebRAPS (Remote Area Power Supply)
The Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) Display at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, seeks to inform people about the cost, performance and reliability of renewable energy systems in rural areas. Visitors interested in solar and wind power technology can both view and interact with the systems that are included at the Display. The companion WebRAPS Web site features case studies of the three systems in use at the display, including how they were designed and sized, component specifications, and historical and real-time data from the largest system.

For this and other recent additions see the EREN Web site.


Energy Facts and Tips

Bicycles Are Highly Energy-Efficient Transportation
Any bicycle enthusiast can tell you how bicycles are a pollution-free form of transportation that efficiently converts leg power into a speedy trip down the road. But until recently, they couldn't tell you exactly how efficient bicycles are. Now laboratory tests at Johns Hopkins University have found that the chain drive on bicycles can be as much as 98.6 percent efficient -- that is, nearly all the energy of the front sprocket is transmitted to the rear sprocket to turn the wheel. The researchers also found the highest efficiencies for larger sprockets and tighter chains. For more information, see the Johns Hopkins press release.


The Sun's Path: Getting Your Directions Right
Last week we suggested using trees to shade the east and west sides of your home.

Why is this? The answer lies in the sun's path, which during the course of the day describes an arc across the sky, reaching its highest point — when it's due south — at midday (it's due north in the Southern hemisphere, of course). During the summer, the arc is high in the sky, so the sun actually rises in the east and sets in the west. The horizontal rays of the sun near sunrise and sunset can blast lots of unwanted solar energy into your home during the summer. That's why shading on those sides is important.

During the winter, the sun's arc is the same shape but much lower, causing the sun to rise more to the southeast and set toward the southwest. So the winter sun barely hits the east and west sides of your home, and you're not losing any solar heating if shade trees are located there. That's also why a good southern exposure is crucial for solar heating in the winter. Because the winter sun is lower, a properly sized overhang on your home will let the low rays of the winter sun into your home, while shading your home from the unwanted rays of the high summer sun. For more information about passive solar heating of your home, see "Using Solar in Your Home" on EREN.


About this Newsletter

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