Bldg/Climate Solution: Train Uninformed Engineers/Engage Obstructionists by Net Zero Foundation+
Please find below the
The author is clearly passionate about this project and writes with conviction. It tackles some key barriers, and recognizes that finance and technology are now available for business models that are suitably framed. But the approaches proposed need firmer and more detailed design to be convincing. The judges would have benefited from additional background on some of the more technical aspects of the proposal.
The proposal seems to be significant and with interesting vision for the future. However, while for the importance of the institution the idea of using the buildings of MIT as case study is understandable, it is quite difficult that the same buildings could be seen as a “metaphor of all Buildings”, as defined in the proposal. Moreover, since you said it is an update of a previous proposal, you should have specified which kind of progresses has been reached this year and which is the newness of the proposal.
This proposal shows the strong technical and theoretical background of the author, yet it heavily relies on the proposal submitted in 2016: while this was very appropriate for the contest category (Building), the current proposal reads more like a criticism and a challenge directed to those, within MIT who would have the power to implement the transition towards NZE buildings. The proposal is not about policies or technologies and the initiative discussed just an attempt to implement the 2016 proposed plan. While it is true that the successful implementation of the proposed strategy for the MIT campus would set a very important reference for other tertiary institutions around the world, sustainability goals are already in the agenda of many of them, and NZE buildings are being realised from Singapore (National University of Singapore), to Melbourne (Monash University) and New York (Cornell University), to mention just a few.
The Judges felt the tone and approach of this proposal would need to be significantly subdued and revised in order to advance as a more effective and clearly articulated proposal.
Jun 18, 2017
Hi Net Zero Foundation,
Thanks for your submission,I find your proposal quite different and interesting. I am glad that you want to break the barriers, from what you have mentioned "In real world there are significant other forces at work that are effectively blocking our ability to rapidly apply these breakthrough technologies to save our planet."
I have a feeling that your proposal might fit into Shifting Attitudes and Behavior category better. I also request you to complete more details about your proposal.
Thanks & regards
Jun 19, 2017
Thank you for your input. We will most certainly be presenting a fully developed proposal before the due date. What you see now is just an "Introduction".
We appreciate your suggestion of considering filing in "Shifting Attitudes and Behavior". However, the "Attitudes and Behaviors" in this case are that of Corporate Managers and Boards of Directors, not the public. It is our explicit observation based on many locations that engineers without full understanding of the new Advanced Building Energy Technologies presented in our 2016 winning proposal are a key barrier to their full consideration and implementation. Further, it is our observation that the fossil fuel industry is willfully and improperly trying to block both knowledge of and implementation of the any technologies that will reduce or eliminate fossil fuel use. The solution to this is "initiatives and policies for the use of better and more cost effective technology in buildings". The Climate CoLab 2017 Buildings category explicitly calls for "initiatives, policies and technologies", hence it seems like a perfect fit to us. Of course, please do share your further thoughts if you believe we have misinterpreted the category.
Regards, the Net Zero Foundation+ Team
Jun 26, 2017
To what you point out this is an update to the already handed in with the 2016 proposal "100% Net Zero Carbon Plan, 60% NZ Effectively Free, Expert Team Ready!". What has been the progress of this project along the way? Could you share some of it in the fields that are not filled yet?
Potential supporters and collaborators will then have a better chance to come on board.
Jun 30, 2017
When we formed Net Zero Foundation, and even when we submitted our Climate CoLab proposal, this #NetZeroMovement had only barely formed -- now it is strongly gaining strength. We would like to think we were one of the voices in the lead that has helped make this movement start to take off. Follow us on twitter via @NetZeroFound (https://twitter.com/netzerofound) if you would like to be kept up to date on the Net Zero Energy advancements and the rapidly evolving transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Let us also suggest you review the New Buildings Institute site (http://newbuildings.org/hubs/zero-net-energy/) and DOE's Zero Energy sites (https://energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-buildings, https://energy.gov/eere/buildings/zero-energy-ready-home). Perhaps the most telling advancement since last year is Bloomberg's move to support Renewable Energy and Net Zero Energy Buildings (see https://about.bnef.com/). Even further, many jurisdictions including Cambridge, have passed resolutions calling for Net Zero Energy Buildings.
On the other hand, MIT in particular is a perfect example of all that is holding the Net Zero Energy Movement back. Our last year's Climate Colab proposal was explicitly about eliminating GHG emissions from MIT's campus as an example for all campuses and clusters of buildings. Upon discussing the proposal on MIT's campus, at the Climate CoLab, and with the MIT administration, we made two large discoveries: 1) absolutely no one had any idea that one could actually eliminate GHG emissions from the electric and building energy systems largely for free (if at all), and 2) there was (is?) some sort of censorship occurring at MIT to avoid any discussion or effort that would call for the reduction of fossil fuel with specific and repeated reference to something about the Koch Brothers giving $500M. While this raises specific issues for MIT which we will present in our proposal (conflict of interest by non-profit directors? board induced censorship causing damage to MIT global leadership reputation? supposed best engineers on the planet don't even know about a whole new energy/economics field?), we also see these issues as being completely reflective of what is occurring on the macro level with fossil fuel interests using their deep pockets to question the validity of science, to back willingly obstructionist representatives, and suppressing 20 year old scientific findings (under subpoena now) to slow this transition. As our previous proposal pointed out, the GHG elimination plan now has significant "effective free" portions, namely the conversation of all building thermal energy systems (HVAC) off of steam and onto advanced thermal heat pump based systems. This raises even more questions about the actions of the fossil fuel industry and the net economic draining effect they are having, and also specific questions about the MIT Board possibly blocking the institute from saving expenses -- a highly questionable position for a 501c3 non-profit Board in my opinion.
There is one more disturbing issue from MIT we can report. At one point we were asked about a "rumor" going around campus about our proposal having a damaging effect on the Charles River. Perhaps it would help for one to realize that Harvard and other surrounding institutions are already pursuing similar plans, and even the nearest elementary school is being converted to Net Zero Energy using a less advanced version of the same thermal systems techniques. This idea of damaging the Charles River is so bogus that it almost makes one think it had to be an intentional plant -- otherwise, it strongly suggests someone should find the source of the rumor and question their qualification for remaining at MIT. It is particularly sad to me that such a thing would raise to the level of a "rumor" at MIT in particular where I would hope scientific and engineering knowledge and analysis would be the rule for everyone rather than "what someone says". While Net Zero Foundation is principally driven by the desire to help same our planet from those who would willfully damage it for their own profit or laziness, I am also personally guided by my observation of needing to help MIT, my alma mater, drag itself out of the closed door fossil fuel closet and into the modern age. If MIT's engineers are ill-informed or otherwise not up to this task, then let me suggest that MIT bring in the group of experts we presented in last year's proposal to educate and help the institute get back to its principal purpose of being a source of scientific and engineering leadership. MIT's Board -- Take Note!
Sorry we have not advanced the on-line proposal further yet, but we do not have funding to spend this time. If you know someone who wants to help strongly advance Renewable Energy and Climate Action, especially when it requires standing up to and exposing the detrimental and potentially illegal actions of the fossil fuel industry and their friends, then please suggest that they support Net Zero Foundation so we can work this problem full time.
Rick Clemenzi, PE, MIT'81
Jun 30, 2017
Dear Judges and Catalysts,
While we will certainly file a proposal which abides by your provided 12K+ x*3K character limitations, let us suggest that fully laying out the "initiatives, policies, and technologies" needed would require much more space. Last year's competition we entered had a 30K main component limit which was more reasonable. For comparison, the above response to Ralf is 5100 characters all by itself!
Oct 10, 2017
Updated References from Proposal Authors:
References for 2017 Buildings Proposal https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/buildings/c/proposal/1333909: (2969 chars)
13 See "Net Zero (NZ) Definition", http://netzerofoundation.org/
19 See #2 above
38 See #14 above
Nov 25, 2017
Impact Assessment Fellow
Thank you for submitting your contest proposal.
A Climate CoLab Impact Assessment Fellow who specializes in buildings has conducted an impact assessment of your proposal which you can find under the “IMPACT” tab. Please review the documentation and model parameters. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact Mario Coelho at mariucoelho.
Impact Assessment Fellows
Nov 26, 2017
Thank you for addressing the Impact issue, however the figures shown on the IMPACT tab are completely incorrect. This project is about using the existing HVAC replacement/upgrade schedule as a driving force for Zero Carbon Conversion of all Buildings ... it is synergy with the existing HVAC large equipment replacement schedule and corresponding expense stream that makes the more advanced Zero Carbon Conversion "effectively free". HVAC systems have an approximate 20 year life, thus the annual HVAC upgrade schedule is 1/20 = 5% per year. We cited the U.S. in our proposal as representative of the developed world, and thus similarly representative of the developing world as it advances.
In the U.S., the total GHG savings available from Net Zero Energy/Zero Carbon Buildings Conversion is 37% of the U.S. total and about 2.5 GtCO2e/yr total for Buildings -- see the foot notes #6 and #7 which are U.S. DOE/EPA documented sources of GHG emissions numbers. Regarding Global Buildings emissions, the Climate CoLab suggests Buildings account for 29% of the total global GHG emissions and the IEA suggests about 36 GtCO2e/yr emissions over the 2017-2040 period -- about 10.44 GtCO2e/yr total for Buildings. At the available "effectively free" pace of 5% conversion per year, GHG emissions from Buildings can reach 100% savings by 2037 as shown below.
We bring all the information, technology, and financing to the table for immediate implementation of Zero Carbon Building Conversions, at least in the U.S. and developed world, thus any failure to achieve this saving will be due to irresponsible actors in engineering and administration. Here is a spreadsheet showing what this project's net savings would be if implemented and started immediately:
Year -- % Completion -- % Savings U.S. -- GtCO2e U.S. -- % Savings Global -- GtCO2e Global
We will contact Mario to get this data correctly entered into the IMPACT tab.
Net Zero Foundation+ Team
Nov 27, 2017
Impact Assessment Fellow
Dear Net Zero Foundation Team,
Thank you for your proposal and for your comments. I consider myself also a climate warrior and I am more than happy to help your movement and support your cause.
I am sorry, but I confess that I got a bit confused during the reading of your proposal.
Your proposal title is: “Train Uninformed Engineers/Engage Climate Obstrucionists”.
The proposal explain some of the reasoning and that technological solutions are available to reach the NZE buildings, which I agree (even though resources are limited).
However as actual actions in order to be taken the proposal sets a target to reach buildings at MIT, while providing the foreseen GHG emissions reduction for this action.
I based myself on the actions proposed (at MIT level) to calculate the impact, which is really low compared to your calculations (in which you consider that you will reach all US and the World).
"In the case of this specific proposal, the actions are for MIT's campus. However, the proposal is a guide for similar NZE/Zero Carbon Energy Buildings everywhere. DOE has confirmed feasibility of NZE buildings in all U.S. climate zones, and it is generally applicable everywhere."
There is also a proposal on policy changing regarding a change in the Statute of Professional Engineers, in which Engineers should inform the non-GHG emitting alternatives, but information doesn’t mean action.
Therefore, there is gap between the reduction of emissions you demand in your comment and the actual actions you propose.
Action at MIT ? Action in all US ? Action in all the world
NZE Buildings ? Buildings with new HVAC / DHW systems
Informing Building owners of non emitting alternatives ? training ‘uninformed engineers’ ? Implementing non emmitting alternatives
Life-time buildings Energy Systems ? Lifetime fo buildings
I guess the path is really to act in local level in order to obtain results in the global level for our Climate Issues. For which I think that pressuring MIT’s Administration and local governments is definitely an action. However I don’t think there is an direct/easy extrapolation/calculation from your MIT to US and to the Planet.
Nov 29, 2017
Thank you for your comment. However, we believe you have missed the main focus of our proposal. As cited at the conclusion of the Introduction, the proposal is about "Market Stagnation" and that "Saving Earth requires MIT and every campus/city to rapidly join in 'Free' Climate Action via Buildings." It seems you may have focused on the case study within the proposal (MIT) and missed the overall issues -- this is not a complaint as it is a large and very encompassing proposal for achieving 100% adoption of Zero Carbon Building Energy Systems everywhere.
Here is a list of points which we hope will help clarify the issues, in an order that we hope will illuminate the full scope of the proposal:
1) Basis: It is a fact that "Effectively Free" conversion of all Buildings to Zero Carbon is available. If this is not something you know yet (you wouldn't be alone), then read our cited/linked 2016 winning Climate CoLab proposal which lays out fully how this is achieved for a campus situation and the cited DOE NZE schools document (ref #2) confirming this is being done for single buildings. It is because of this fact that financiers are now readily backing these conversions as displayed in our proposal with Generate Capital offering to back the embedded MIT example (and any others like it).
2) Scope: Our proposal is how to overcome "market stagnation" (end of Introduction) for NZE/Zero Carbon for all buildings, not just MIT. Our Solution (quoted from the Introduction): "The Solution: We bring turn-key "free" Building GHG Elimination projects to disrupt market stagnation." Further, in "Actions" we specifically state "This proposal is exactly that -- rapid 100% elimination of GHG Emissions from Building Systems other than cooking". Even further, speaking specifically to the basis of our highlighting the issues at MIT, we say "We use MIT as a case study for many reasons: it is a corollary for clusters of Buildings everywhere, a good example of what is blocking action, a location where significant public pressure can be brought to drive change, and an institution that could make a significant difference globally if they decide to Act." "MIT" in this proposal is just a case study as "a corollary for clusters of Buildings everywhere". The proposal is not at all limited to MIT, but 'uses' MIT as an example of exactly what is wrong everywhere causing rapid NZE/Zero Carbon advancement not to happen ... at least not as rapidly as needed to save the planet from significant climate damage.
3) Extrapolation: You are correct that there is not a direct extrapolation from MIT to all Buildings. In fact, for MIT as an entity, a far larger percent of total GHG reduction will be achieved compared to the overall U.S. or global energy use. Further, the savings per Building sq. ft. will also be larger because MIT is an example of almost the least efficient heating system -- Steam. This makes conversion of MIT to Zero Carbon more cost effective than elsewhere, although we do now know (ref #20 CGD training, etc.) that all buildings can be converted as in the DOE K-12 study (ref #2) for less than it takes to break even on the financing (net energy cost savings > cost of financing). MIT and all building cluster/campus settings are also somewhat better GHG reduction opportunities than "all" Buildings because of optimal diversity savings (broad mixed building uses). Instead of making an extrapolation from MIT to the greater Buildings market, we have made our GHG savings calculations on the actual GHG emissions figures available from official government sources (DOE/EPA, see ref #6 & #7). It is because our proposal applies to all buildings that we can make the claims we have laid out.
4) Policy: You analyzed our proposed PE policy saying "Engineers should inform the non-GHG emitting alternatives, but information doesn’t mean action". As a practicing PE, I can tell you that when I inform a building owner that there is an effectively free, non-carbon, lower life-cycle-cost, and less to operate alternative Building Energy System, that does cause building owners to "act"! Please understand that PE's not only give technical information but also cost and life-cycle-cost information at the same time. In fact, building owners are less interested in the technical issues and far more interested in the costing information. This is why just after the stated 'policy', we explain its effect saying: "To provide this information, PE's will have to learn of the alternatives and their costs, enabling owners to make cost-effective decisions that also save the planet." Building owner decision making is all about "cost-effective decisions", except where owners are improperly influenced as in the example case of MIT's administration and its very rich fossil fuel industry backers. That is why this proposal is about both being certain the market receives full technology information with cost-effectiveness information, and challenging the fossil fuel industry's disruption of full and accurate market information which is distorting the proper decision making process in many places.
5) "Who will take theses actions?": Please note that the vast majority of our proposal is addressing the representative long list of "Who" needs to be involved in changing the market factors that are blocking "effectively free Building GHG elimination". We are sorry that we could not utilize the Climate CoLab's 'stock section headers', but the vast majority of our Proposal addresses the many different individuals/offices that must be involved for our claims of rapid Zero Carbon/GHG Elimination to occur. It is far more than just a policy for PE's -- that was just the 1st entry under "Who will take these actions?" This is the crux of the proposal -- at the top of 'What actions do you propose?', we specifically said (para 2) "This is not a technology issue -- the technology is already proven and getting better. This 'project' is to make sure Leaders in all our communities choose 'saving the planet' when there is also a profit for all." All the "Actions" cited are for Leaders to make sure "fully informed decision making" occurs which will achieve the claims we make due to normal market forces.
Please take another read through our proposal taking into account the above information. It was 100% our intention that this be a proposal for all buildings everywhere and how to break through the market stagnation/disruption that is occurring. We only "use" MIT as a case study because we first hand witnessed the same forces there that we have see elsewhere and reported by many others.
Frankly and quite sadly, we suspect that MIT is so devoted to the cash stream from its fossil fuel backers that it is willing to do serious damage to its reputation before helping the world reduce GHG by fossil fuel elimination. We focus on MIT here because it is an obvious example of the danger of these Disruptive Market Issues, issues so serious that they are disrupting the "supposedly" top engineering school's freely informed choice of Campus Energy Systems and involvement in Global Climate Action. It is this Market Failure that is the core of our proposal, and we trust those in Sloan well understand the power of Market-Level Corrections. Others believe the Market-Level Correction of a carbon tax is needed, but we are saying proper market information may be more effective and produce a more rapid change for Buildings now that Zero Carbon Conversions are "effectively free" and profitable.
We do hope you re-read our proposal and see the All Buildings and Market aspects more clearly, and realize why we believe our claims of total U.S. Building GHG elimination is valid as a minimum, and that global Building GHG elimination is also a valid goal of the proposal.
The Net Zero Foundation+ Team, Rick Clemenzi, PE