Global reset: facing our future

Energy efficiency methods reduce emissions

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Global reset: facing our future

by Meena Gudapati and Vijay Bharadwaj

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Driving to school, charging a phone and using a computer are seemingly unrelated events. The one thing they all have in common is their energy consumption. In the United States, about 84 percent of all energy produced originates from the com bustion of fossil fuels. And according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the combustion of fossil fuels has served as one of the major causes of climate change in the world.

Burning fossil fuels, including coal and oil, results in the release of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. As stated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s inventory, carbon dioxide made up 82 percent of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.

Human sources of the combustion of fossil fuel include electricity, transportation and industry according to the EPA. The U.S. can decrease carbon dioxide emissions through increased energy efficiency. This can be achieved through solar, wind or hydroelectric energy.

Environmental Science teacher Dr. Kate Schafer serves as the co-chair of the Green Committee alongside Biology teacher Jeff Sutton. She commented on Harker’s energy efficiency progress.

“I think that there have been some amazing improvements, but there’s always room for  improvement,” she said. “A big part of our energy use comes from use of lights so I think that we could do a better job of setting up systems that would make the lights turn off when they weren’t being used.”

The EPA has proposed several solutions to reduce carbon emissions in daily life, including energy efficiency and conservation, fuel switching and carbon sequestration.

Energy conservation exists to us in many opportunities. For instance, reducing gasoline consumption in vehicles, turning off electronics and carpooling all contribute towards lessening carbon emissions and electricity demand. Installation of solar panels can reduce residents’ carbon footprint at home.

“If there are things like grocery shopping that you can bike or walk from your house, you should not drive to cut down on carbon emissions,” Srivastav Pyda (11) said. “Switch to electric burners and gas burners, try to use better forms of energy like solar panels, wind turbines. There are more efficient forms of coal that we can use, like carbon sequesters as well.”

Energy efficiency integrates into everyday life in several ways. People can use alternatives to fossil fuel-releasing vehicles to commute such as electric cars, replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, install high performance windows that reduce heat loss and unplug appliances when not in use.

In addition to methods of preserving energy, technologies are being developed to potentially reduce the amount of CO2 emissions. The process is known as carbon sequestration.

 

To improve the efficiency of buildings, the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) researches cost effective solutions for both residential and commercial buildings regarding technology. In particular, EERE has worked to develop Zero Energy Building, buildings with an energy import less than or equal to their energy exports. Similarly, EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office develops manufacturing methods which require little energy import.

As long as people make the conscientious move to decreasing our overall energy consumption and fossil fuel combustion, global climate change will be impacted for the better.