Pollution Is Hurting Us: Renewable Energy Can Help Stop It

Environmental awareness has never been more important; although children have been taught about pollution in school for decades, the planet is just now beginning to experience the most drastic side-effects of plastic use, energy emissions and mass production. There are many probable solutions to combat pollution, but all of them need to be rooted in the most sustainable approach: renewable energy. Renewable energy taps into the Earth’s natural resources which do not require any human intervention to create. By harnessing new technology to take full advantage of what the Earth has to offer without taking away from the planet, we can reduce the effects of climate change and pollution to create a greener, safer Earth for generations to come.

How Pollution Hurts Us

The harmful effects of pollution hurt every living creature on earth. From an environmental standpoint, pollution contaminates the ocean, destroys marine life, upsets the natural balance of the ecosystem. For example it destroys coral reefs that not only provide habitats to thousands of oceanic animals but also assist humans by filtering carbon and nitrogen from the air. Food crop is heavily effected by the climate and so food shortages will be common place with global famine. Climate change is causing more natural disasters that are stronger than ever before, leaving many countries and people at a great risk of being wiped out from hurricanes, tsunamis and wildfires. Air pollution causes disease in humans, ranging from respiratory infections and health complications to an increased cancer risk. Exposure to pollution also weakens the immune system, leading to more widespread disease and increased mortality rates. Weakened reproductive and endocrine systems affect global population and personal well-being. Carpooling, greater access to public transportation and reduced carbon emissions from personal vehicles will help reduce the effects of air pollution, but people must protect themselves as well. Wearing proper breathing protection will alleviate the negative effects of pollution on your body.

How We Can Help

Going green saves the planet and human lives. By harnessing solar, biomass, wind and geothermal energy as renewable power sources, we can reduce harmful pollutants from entering the air, ozone and water supplies. On a more personal level, you can make sure that you use organic products, recycle and repurpose household items and always properly dispose of your waste. There are many ways you can begin to adopt a renewable lifestyle today without going completely off the grid. If you can, grow your own fruits and veggies. This adds increased oxygen to the atmosphere and improves air quality. Some forms of renewable energy technology still require electricity to run, but as we progress toward a more environmentally conscious society, people will begin to adopt better ways of respectfully utilizing power and minimizing their overall consumption.

How Does Going Green Help?

Non-renewable energy will ultimately lead to a global crisis as human beings lose the means of heating their homes, powering electrical grids and even fueling their cars. Without renewable energy, the entire planet will come to a screeching halt when the non-renewable resources run out, which is estimated to occur within the next 50 to 100 years. Although they took over 300 million years to form, human beings have consumed nearly all the non-renewable resources on Earth in under 200. While there are preventative measures in place, the world will not be able to sustain itself at its current rate, and humans will suffer the most when their primary source of energy and power is gone.

Going green won’t just help the remaining non-renewables last longer, but it will also help reduce the effects of pollution on the environment overall. With less emissions, slowed climate change and safer wildlife, we can begin to replenish and restore the planet once choice at a time.

What Businesses Can Do to Reduce Their Environmental Impact

Global warming is a hot topic in today’s world, and businesses are increasingly becoming conscious of the impact they have on the environment. Thankfully, there are many initiatives that a business can take to help reduce any negative impact. These initiatives have other bonuses as well.

Go Paperless

The idea of a paperless workplace started around the same time that personal computers became a widespread business accessory. However, it is only recently that the idea has started to float into the mainstream. Businesses can consume copious amounts of paper for all manner of things that don’t really need to be printed out. Being environmentally conscious with digitization instead of paper can ultimately save your business plenty of physical space and employee time and effort. It can also provide document security.

Stop Using Harmful Chemicals

Harmful chemicals are a part of many businesses, and their use always requires following proper legal guidelines. Failure to do so puts employees at high risk and can cause problematic environmental spills or runoff. Employers who force employees to use chemicals that are known to be harmful can be sued for negligence.

Encourage Carpooling and Biking

Auto emissions contribute to high carbon levels and pollution in the atmosphere. This is leading many businesses to promote carpooling and biking, but to maximize success, they need to take actionable steps. Ensure that your building has bicycle access and secure parking space for the bikes. Keep some bicycle essentials on-site for quick repairs, and offer incentives to employees who bike or carpool. Having executives and management set the example and lead a culture shift can be a big factor in whether others will follow along.

Use Renewable Energy and Efficient Appliances

No matter what type of business you have, it is likely that your building contains a variety of appliances. Whether you have a full restaurant kitchen or just a fridge for employees to keep their lunches in and a microwave to warm them, swapping to energy-efficient or renewable-energy appliances is a smart choice. Not only will these have a much smaller environmental footprint than older models, but they also usually save money in the long run. It may even be worth considering the installation of solar panels on your building.

Businesses are often an important part of the community that surrounds them. Having your business lead the way in positive environmental change is a great way to boost employee morale, local support, public relations and more. Most importantly, it helps keep our environment healthy.

How the Fossil Fuels Industry Harms Its Workers

Working on oil rigs that extract fossil fuels from deep within the earth or as an infrastructure employee that delivers the oil to refiners and finally to consumers is dangerous work. Oil industry workers face serious injury, long-term illness, and disability as a result of work-related hazards. Companies are required to meet basic safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Agency’s General Industry Standards, but protections are often not enough to prevent disaster. Here are a few ways that the fossil fuels industry harms its workers. 

Disasters

Of all the risky jobs associated with the industry, workers on oil rigs face the greatest dangers. Oil rig workers can suffer burns, broken bones, head injuries or spinal cord injuries. Furthermore, proper medical facilities are frequently far away or inaccessible from the rig, so injured workers may have to be medically evacuated with a helicopter or other means to seek medical care, which can risk further damage because timely care is essential to treating potentially devastating injuries. 

Toxic Fumes

Anyone who has ever smelled gasoline pumped at a station is familiar with the smell of petroleum fumes. Short-term exposure may not be a severe health risk, but the long-term exposure encountered by oil workers definitely can be. Toxic ingredients used in oil production include formaldehyde, benzene, mercury, and sulfur dioxide. When inhaled through fumes, these toxins penetrate the lungs, burying themselves deep in the tissue. As these toxins accumulate because the body is unable to eliminate them, the potential for cancer and other fatal health conditions mounts. 

Climate Change

Climate change threatens the survival of all people, including oil workers. Most people in the industry, especially those working on oil rigs and other blue-collar jobs, may not even be aware of the damage their industry is causing the planet. Many are simply trying to feed their families. However, the devastating greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels and other human activity are no longer subjects of serious debate. The best recent estimates indicate the global community has until 2032 to drastically reduce carbon emissions to avoid irreparable damage to the planet. The implications of climate change go well beyond melting ice in the Arctic; disappearing shorelines, the extinction of species crucial to the ecosystem’s health, like bees, and re-emerging diseases are just a few of the most serious threats.

The fossil fuel industry, while providing jobs for its employees with short-term benefits, neglects to properly account for all the damage it causes its workers and the world. If we want to make a difference for the better, we need to start aggressively implementing more sustainable approaches to energy.

4 More Reasons Why Renewable Energy Wins

It would be difficult not to notice that more and more individuals and companies are turning to renewable sources of energy to satisfy their energy needs. This increased popularity of renewable fuel has caused many people to wonder about the reasons for the growing trends. The truth is, there are a number of reasons to choose renewable sources of energy over fossil fuels.

Renewable Energy Saves Money

Great savings are currently being realized by individuals and companies who make use of renewable energy and this trend is expected to continue in the future. It may take a considerable investment in the beginning for energy companies to build renewable energy facilities, however, once built, the costs are minimized through the use of ‘free fuel’ like solar and wind power. Significant savings can also be attained at the individual level. Homeowners who use renewable energy sources will have a more energy-efficient home and pay less per month to satisfy their energy needs.

Renewable Energy is Safer

Current statistics show that workers in oil, coal, and gas extraction industry work in some of the most dangerous environments possible. In fact, the industry experiences 27.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. This number is nearly eight times the 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers for the economy as a whole. In addition, oil and gas companies have a substandard record of informing injured employees about their rights. So many individuals who are injured on these jobs do not receive the help and compensation they need and deserve. One study that was done at Wisconsin Medical College found that 1300 deaths can be avoided over the next decade by progressively shifting away from fossil fuels and making use of renewable energy sources. The study also found the general health and well-being of 700,000 U.S. workers will be positively affected.

Renewable Energy is Reliable

It is much less likely for solar and wind energy systems to experience the type of large scale system failures that happen with fossil fuels from time to time. There are two main reasons for this, first of all, these renewable energy sources are distributed systems. This term refers to the distribution of the system over a large geographical area. Secondly, wind and solar systems are made up of a number of individual solar arrays or turbines. This means if a few units malfunction the system as a whole will continue to function. Non-renewable energy sources like coal and natural gas are also highly dependent on sufficient water supply. These plants will suffer when the water needed is not available.

Renewable Energy Produces Jobs

The renewable energy industry is more dependent on human labor than other energy systems which are highly mechanized and automated. For example, humans are needed to maintain wind turbines and install solar panels. In 2016, the solar energy industry employed 260,000 people and another 100,000 worked in the wind energy industry. The numbers are expected to grow as more individuals and companies turn to renewable sources of energy.

The increasing popularity of renewable energy is clear for all to see. However, some people are unclear why this change is taking place. The four reasons profiled above are just a few of the reasons renewable energy is winning against fossil fuels.

3 Eco-Friendly Trends in Construction Equipment

When it comes to the latest trends in the construction industry, it seems that it is all the rage to be eco-friendly. One of the main reasons for this is simply because public awareness of our environmental footprint continues to get more prevalent with each passing year. This awareness has also been bolstered by increased legislation across the world. If you are looking to capitalize on this current demand, there are a number of eco-friendly construction trends that you should be aware of.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency with a construction company starts with the type of materials they use to construct energy-efficient homes. For example, almost every home constructed these days emphasizes light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of regular watt bulbs. However, that is just the beginning. Construction experts and architects also realize that they must build a home to work with the sun and not against it. For example, one of the things they do would be to position the building to make use of all of the benefits of the sun. Yet another thing they emphasize would be to create a “net-zero building,” which is a structure that produces as much energy as it consumes.

Protecting the Surrounding Environment

Keeping the environment around a construction site as safe as possible is one of the key endeavours of a green construction company. They begin this process by following a number of important procedures. For example, composite construction mats are particularly useful for protecting ecologically sensitive areas such as wetlands. Additionally, a lot of companies will administer procedures for effective waste removal. The last thing they want to do is emit a lot of waste into the surrounding environment, so many of them also have procedures in place to offer protection from chemical spills as well.

Energy-Efficient Construction Vehicles

More and more construction firms are looking into vehicles that will not use as much energy as their predecessors. One example of this would be machines that have interfaces in place in order to reduce fuel consumption. This heavy equipment has either an “economy mode” or an “on-demand throttle” that will only use engine power when it is needed. These machines also often have electronic monitoring systems for engine health and even the tires!

As you can see, many construction firms are getting serious about their impact on the environment. They not only want to construct buildings, but they also want to make sure the Earth is safe for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

The earth receives 173,000 terawatts of sunlight energy on a continual basis. That’s 10,000 times more than the total energy we use. One hour’s worth would power the planet for a year. This is a free and renewable power source, and it’s one that can bypass the harmful effects of energy generated by fossil fuels.

What They’re Made Of

Solar panels are mostly composed of silicon, which serves as a semiconductor. Semiconductors have properties between those of conductors and insulators, and these properties allow them to be affected by sunlight. There are two types of silicon used. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are the two most popular types of solar panels. Polycrystalline panels are somewhat more efficient than monocrystalline, but they are still a bit more expensive. Work is also underway with materials such as Perovskites, which allow for cheap and lightweight printed cells.

How Sunlight Gets Turned into Electricity

A solar cell is an electronic device with a layer of negatively charged semiconductor (silicon) that contains more electrons placed over a layer of positively charged semiconductor with fewer electrons. The opposing charges create a repulsive field between the layers. When sunlight strikes the top layer, some of the electrons are knocked loose, creating holes. Due to the repulsive field between the layers, the holes migrate to the bottom of the lower layer while the loose electrons are pushed to the top and conducted away for power use. They are then returned to rejoin the previously migrated holes on the lower layer.

Why They’re Eco-Friendly

Because only electrons move – and they move in a continuous loop – nothing is lost. Solar cells can last for decades. Power remains cheap, which enables households and businesses to operate at an economical level. Electricity can also be decentralized and used in more direct and creative ways, eliminating the need for fossil fuel-generated lighting in remote locations and allowing for low-emissions farming. While fossil fuel power has a negative global impact and is limited, solar remains a free and renewable resource.

The cost of solar modules has dropped by 99 percent since the 1980s, and it’s still falling. In countries such as Spain, Germany, and Italy, solar energy is now cheaper than energy from the grid. Electrical storage is also being improved, and work is underway to use more effective semiconductor materials in multiple junctions that can catch more wavelengths of sunlight, bringing efficiency up from 25 percent to as much as 50 percent. Because the cost continues to drop as efficiency steadily improves, solar is a cheap and renewable energy source for the foreseeable future.

Limitless Energy are designers and installers of renewable energy systems in Wales and beyond. We are energy consultants for domestic and commercial projects and can produce reports detailing potential opportunities to help reduce energy consumption and receive financial support. If you have any questions about renewable energy systems, please feel free to contact us!

How to Build an Environmentally-Friendly Home

Building a home requires a lot of decisions. Every situation that calls for input can be investigated to determine actions that have the least negative impact on the environment. Some of those decisions are in the areas of heat sources, insulation, and construction waste.

Integrate Renewable Energy Sources

Your home needs a variety of heat sources. You want to heat the air for your family’s comfort. On-demand hot water is also helpful in today’s homes. There is a selection of alternatives that use renewable sources, such as solar, heat pumps and wood-based systems, to generate the heat you need.

  • Wood-burning stove. A wood-burning stove can be used instead of a furnace that burns a carbon fuel, such as natural gas or oil. You can have numerous stoves to heat areas around your home. Manufacturers now build stoves that have been approved to have a minimal air-quality impact. Some are even designed to provide hot water for the faucets in your home.
  • Solar hot water heater. Placing a panel on your roof to capture the heat of the sun and warm your hot water tank is a very efficient way to directly use solar energy in a simplistic form. One small panel on the roof to capture solar energy for heating water may be all you need.
  • Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps. Heat pumps gather solar heat energy from the air or ground and pumps this around your heating system. Both Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps save you money through improved efficiencies, reduce your CO2 emissions and even earn you money through government incentives. Heat pumps are fully automated with set and forget technology and low running costs, and have been around for more
    than 100 years.

Relevant: What’s the Most Sustainable Method of Heating Your Home?

Insulate Well

A draft-free home is more sustainable. It will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This will result in less fuel and energy use. Make sure you at least meet the required insulation levels for your area. Exceeding the requirements may cost a bit more during construction, but less energy usage over the long term is better for the environment and can save you money.

Relevant: The Complete Guide to Eco-friendly Insulation

Reduce Waste During the Building Process

Sustainable building doesn’t have to mean solar panels and geothermal heating; it can be much simpler. Good communication between the homeowner, the designer, and the home builder is key to reduce waste during construction. When homeowners are specific about requirements and communicate with the designers and architects, they can provide precise information to the builder. Exact details help assure owners get desired home features. Rework is costly in terms of time, money, and wasted materials. Also, owners and builders can consider the use of recycled materials. Recycled timbers, railroad sleepers, and ceramic tiles are just a few of the construction materials that can be kept from the landfill and reused. Locally-sourced materials can help to reduce carbon emissions in the transport process, as well.

Relevant: What is a Sustainable New Home?

When dreaming of and designing your new home, start from day one with consideration of the environment in mind. The result will be a quality, low-impact home.