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Isn’t the whole environmental movement sometimes overwhelming? Opinions, comments, recommendations of what forms of energy are better for the world? We hear so many different terms to describe forms of energy: alternative, renewable, clean. What do they really mean and what makes real sense?

Alternative This could mean a variety of types that are not from “mainstream” sources such as coal, natural gas, or nuclear.

Renewable Most of the time this is used to define solar and wind but it could also mean the same thing with natural gas as it is a renewable source.

Clean New forms of technology have made coal and natural gas almost purely carbon based emissions — so what makes these not “clean”?

Don’t all these terms appear to be interchangeable? So what is really the right type of energy to be used to replace conventional methods that would be good for the environment?

Or is it simply the concept of sustainability that defines energy production and usage? Isn’t this simply doing more with less?

Could it be that eventually buildings will power themselves with combinations of these different types of energy sources? Solar, wind, fuel cells, micro-turbines for cogeneration … hasn’t Europe been using hot water heating systems for a century by recapturing waste heat?

Isn’t it actually better for the environment that you generate energy at the source of use and do more with less? What does this mean for utilities and the government? Won’t the traditional definition of utility regulation begin to shift?

So how do you take this theory and apply it to reality? Try taking a small community and powering it at the source with a multitude of different energy sources … solar on roof tops, a “clean-cogeneration” application of reusing waste heat and how about a chilled water system for air conditioning?

Is this really rocket science or hasn’t it been done in Europe for almost the good part of a century? So maybe sustainable design is merely a process instead of a technology?

Watch us define this process with our proposed Green Village project in National City. Are government and the utilities ready to “do more with less?”

JOSH KNOEFLER

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