Saturday, April 05, 2008

Towards a Carbon Neutral Capital

At the same time the ACT 2020 Summit was on in one part of the National Convention Center in Canberra, there was a "Switch to Green Conference 2008" in another part and a Switch to Green Expo. I sneaked out of one of the 2020 sessions and had a look at how to make Canberra carbon neutral.

One of the exhibits was from Australian Ethical Investments. They mentioned that their web site was getting a lot of traffic from my blog. There were a range of solar panels, green power, insulation and other products on display. There were no computer products on display, which could be a potential market.

iQhome were displaying LED low energy lights. As well as one designed to fit into existing fittings, to replace halogen down-lights, they had new fittings in interesting shapes with LEDs built in. One type of light was the "LED Bar", a long bar, with a row of LEDs in it, which can be simply screwed to a surface.

The most eye catching lights were "LED Boards", which looked like panels from the starship Enterprise. These were sheets of transparent plastic a few mm thick which appeared to glow. This effect was achieved by embedding a row of LEDs along one side of the sheet and etching fine lines in one surface. The light traveled through the plastic and was reflected from etched lines. These could be attached to flat surfaces. One was being used in the back of a picture frame to back light a transparency and the result looked like a still image on a plasma TV. It might be possible to fix these as shelves.

These type of LED lights are much more expensive than incandescent and fluorescent units. However, they allow light to be carefully positioned where required and thus can be used for effects which are otherwise not possible and in a way which can reduce energy use.

Another stand had an energy saving technology which required no power or computers: the YWCA Canberra "Walking School Bus". A walking school bus is a group of schoolchildren, with someone at the front to direct them (called the "driver") and someone the end to collect stragglers (called the "conductor"). The bus walks a set route picking up children in the morning and dropping them off in the evening. This way two adults can look after a group of about 17 children, without the need for them to be driven in a vehicle.

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