Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Archive for the ‘Climate positive’ Category

World’s most energy efficient office building?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The Elithis Tower in Dijon, France, consumes just 20 kWh/m2 and was designed to cost no more than a conventional office buildings. The February issue of Ecolibirum, the magazine of AIRAH (Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating) reported on this building.

It is a 10 storey building of around 5,000 m2, with solar panels covering the rooftop. A “light shield” allows light but not radiant energy into the building. Low environmental impact materials have been used in its construction.

This is an extraordinary achievement, and is an example of human ingenuity rising to the climate change challenge. Most office buildings of that size would consume over 200 kWh/m2, and a very efficient building around 60 kWh/m2.

The Elithis Tower is the first building that I am aware of that beats the 30 kWh/m2 we achieved in the CarbonetiX office in 2008. In 2009 our emissions crept up to 33 kWh/m2, probably due to the introduction of additional computer monitors and staff countering the savings from skylights we installed at the end of 2008.

The Elithis Tower sets a great standard which I hope inspires further great engineering and design to make low or no energy use buildings the norm rather than the exception.

How self-limiting beliefs are wasting money and energy

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Last year VECCI - the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry – undertook a survey of business attitudes to climate change.

A surprising – and very disappointing result – was that many businesses believed they had done all they could do to minimise their energy use and carbon footprint.

This self-limiting belief means that these businesses are wasting money and energy, and producing greenhouse gases – needlessly.

One of our customers, who has already cut their energy use by up to 40% across a range of facilities, had us do a quick search for further energy saving opportunities late last year. This organisation is well known as being a leader in energy conservation and saving. Were we able to identify further opportunities to reduce their energy use, within their payback period? The answer to that is a resounding YES.

Henry Ford had a great saying which I love to quote. “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

If you turn all your computers off at the end of the day and don’t leave lights on in empty rooms you might think you are doing all you can to save energy. But that would be wrong. For example, you probably still have opportunity to delamp (remove excess lamps in areas that are too bright), and to save computer power through aggressive power management settings. And that’s without investing any capital! If you have some money to invest you can save any more, and get a return on investment the banks would kill for.

If you want to cut your energy use, you can!

What’s happened at Copenhagen?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

There was a tremendous build up to this international climate conference. There was lots of anticipation by the public. It was declared to be the ‘most important international gathering of our time’. Peaceful public demonstrations all around the world intensified as the date of the conference approached. People in numerous countries publicly declared that they want change to avoid a global disaster due to greenhouse emissions. They clearly indicated that they’ve had enough of talk and wanted action, now. So did the climate conference live up to the expectations?

The following statement by Yvo de Boer sums up the outcomes succinctly:

”The Copenhagen Accord, which was expected highly to lead to a legally binding treaty, aroused opposition from several developing countries, who said the emission reduction targets were not ambitious enough and refused to adopt it. Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of UN Framework Conventionon Climate Change said at his closing press briefing that the Copenhagen Accord not only failed his hope of achieving a legally binding treaty, but also failed the hope of an agreement for such a treaty. But he still believed that countries should strive for such goals at the next UN climate conference in Mexico in 2010.”

Unfortunately lots of the sceptics predicted this result (and I’m not talking about climate change sceptics either but sceptics who don’t believe that we should place our faith in governments and leaders). Respected climate scientists are urging for immediate cuts to GHG emissions to prevent a more than 2C increase in global temperatures. Well-known international economists are insisting on allocating more funds towards low carbon technologies but again without support from the top people are cautious about investing in the renewable energy market. The fossil fuel market must become non-profitable to drive investments in the low-carbon economy.

Another statement by Monbiot again summarises where we are at: “The longer a comprehensive agreement is delayed, the steeper the emissions cuts will have to be if we are to avoid climate breakdown. Beyond a certain point the scale of the cuts becomes politically, economically and technologically infeasible. That point must already be close”.

So we will have to wait another year to see whether the international leaders can agree on some sort of binding treaty instead of everyone doing their own thing without any scrutiny. In the mean time you don’t have to wait to make a change. Start living a more sustainable lifestyle and support renewable energy and companies that are genuinely trying to make a difference to our planet.


“Dry” evaporative cooler saves energy and eliminates the need for refrigerant based cooling

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

At the recent All Energy expo in Melbourne (early October) I came across the Coolerado cooler, distributed in Australia by Clear Solar. This is an ingenious, simple air cooler based on a combination of evaporative cooling and plate heat exchangers to deliver cooler air than is possible with conventional evaporative cooling but without the use of a refrigerant. It therefore has the energy efficiency of evaporative cooling, but with the performance of refrigerative cooling in dryer climates.

For a detailed explanation of how it works visit the Coolerado website. Below is a quick technical summary using the psychometric chart. You may prefer the Coolerado website if you don’t understand the properties of air at different moisture levels as displayed in the psychometric chart.

The unit splits air into two streams, either side of a plate heat exchanger. Moisture is added to one stream – the working stream. Its temperature drops using the evaporative process. This then sensibly cools the air on the other dry side of the plate, the process stream. Some of the process air is then split off and made into more working air. Moisture is added to this too. This then cools further, and through the plate heat exchanger it then further sensibly cools the process stream. By doing this multiple times the resultant process air exits at near the dew point temperature of the air. And around half of the total air going through the system ends up as useful process air. 

Psychometric chart showing how the Coolerado cools air

Psychometric chart showing how the Coolerado cools air. Click on chart to enlarge it.

The chart above shows the principal of operation marked on it assuming the process stream is split up 3 times and perfect evaporative cooling (ie to the wet bulb temperature). In the Coolarado 13 stages are used to get air down to near dry bulb temperature.

As you can see in the my chart below – for 35 degree air at 20% humidity (at sea level) with a conventional evaporative cooler we can get the temperature down to near the wet bulb temperature of 19 degrees, but at 100% relative humidity. With the Coolerado we can get the temperature close to the dew point of 9 degrees, or if we are only cooling to 19 degrees do so with a relative humidity of around 55%, which is perfectly comfortable.

A variable speed fan in the unit controls the air flow and thus the exit temperature and relative humidity of the air it supplies.

For hot dry climates the Coolarado can completely substitute conventional refrigerative air conditioning. And in more humid climates it extends the usefulness of evaporative cooling.

The Coolarado website also has a chart based on historical weather data for hundreds of sites world wide, showing its applicability, including several Australian cities. Or, if you know your local weather and can use a psychometric chart, its possible to figure out its suitability. In Australia for example the Coolarado is well suited for use in Adelaide.

I’m not sure of the maintenance regime for the heat transfer plates and cooling pads - presumably similar to those of a conventional evaporative cooler, and obviously the system whilst saving energy does use water.

In addition to the energy savings another advantage of the Coolarado is it doesn’t have any refrigerants in it, so you don’t need to worry about the global warming potential of any leaked refrigerant. And the only moving part is its fan, which is a high efficiency direct drive unit, reducing mechanical maintenance requirements. 

Innovations such as this are going to help enable a low carbon economy, and as prices drop will start drive it.

Don’t Lose Interest in Climate Change but take part in International Day of Climate Action

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Join me at <a href=

According to dire news reported in the media last week Australians are losing interest in Global Warming. While in 2007 this issue was ranked as the equal most important foreign policy goal for the Federal Government the most recent polls indicate that out of ten possible goals it is in seventh place. Now fewer people see Global Warming as a threat to Australia’s national interests and it is perceived as the fourth most critical threat facing us out of twelve possibilities.

The fact that the current government was delaying action and the fact that the opposition party still hasn’t resolved its position on emission trading and the global financial crises have all been blamed for the loss of interest in Climate Change. The good news is that 76% of those surveyed in the annual Lowy Institute Poll still rated Climate Change as a problem and want some action. See full article here: (

For those who still think that we should do something about Climate Change, this weekend is an important day. This Saturday on the 24th of October it is the ‘International Day of Climate Action’. This is an international movement and people from many countries around the world will join in some form of protest to send a message to government leaders around the world. The message is clear: people want action on Climate Change. It is expected that thousands of images of people gathering in many cities and remote areas will be projected to the UN Headquarters and to Times Square.

The aim of this action -organised by worldwide- is to focus the attention on the science and the citizens to remind world leaders that they need to take physical reality into account when they are making decisions about our collective future at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December. People are not interested in backroom business deals and political interest groups but in one united goal; that is to reduce greenhouse emission and to ensure that the CO2 remains below 350 ppm in the atmosphere. Saturday’s campaign is expected to be the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history with over 3000 events in 160 countries. will assemble all the photos for a gigantic, global visual petition and present to the UN before the conference.

If you want to get involved visit this website for nearest location: