What do Tomatoes, Natural Gas, Water and Power Have in Common?

Energy, Power, Water and Fertilizer combine for a Grand Slam

They have two companies in common, GE and Houweling’s Tomatoes, a leading North American greenhouse grower. GE just announced a couple of weeks ago that Houweling's Tomatoes has started operations with an inventive and integrated Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installation using GE Turbocharged, natural gas fired engines coupled with a CO2 sequestering and purifying system which provides fertilizer for growing tomatoes. An added bonus is gathering the water vapor released in the combustion process and using that to help the tomatoes along as well.

There are more bonuses as well. The excess energy from the GE engines provides energy to the local power grid and offsets some the cost of running the system. Also, the captured combustion water also offsets water from the local groundwater system as well. this is the kind of distributed and integrated water/energy implementations which can benefit the business and the local community as well.
Here are the high-level benefits as I see them:
1. Lower cost of operation for the grower
2. Lower water demand from local sources
3. Increased and diversified energy production
4. reclamation  of typical energy and water put to work producing value
5. A diversified local economy creating new capital inside the community.
6. Higher overall air quality results for this business, creating better air quality for their region.

To get the full description hop over to the Distributed Energy blog.

This Article is part of a continuing series of articles on the Built Environment tying together Energy, Power, Water, Sustainability, Economic Stability and technology.


Chaos and Change - Part 3 - Lean, Agile and Mgt2.0 Can Succeed

This is the third article in a series about Chaos and Change. How they change our working worlds and how we can gain come control of the chaos. The previous installment was titled Chaos and Change are Brothers - Part 2  I suggest you might want to go back and catch it as well. 

The following is a reply I posted on Fierce Healthcare's discussion area. The site is one challenging healthcare folks to stay up with the latest developments in their fields. I came across Susan D, Hall's post in a LinkedIn Group and thought it interesting. While all of you know I'm a big supporter of better management and highly collaborative frameworks for companies, I thought it appropriate to clear the air about change initiatives and their chances to survive and make have some permanent change as a result. The following is my comment on Susan's blog post you can read here entitled, Lean leadership in healthcare: What does it take? Of course my comment there is posted here, but please read Susan's work as well.

Your Brains Work Best When They Can Turn from Failure to Success

As an evangelist for better business principles which are more lean, more agile and responsive both internally and externally, I applaud your efforts in healthcare. Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against you. J, Kotter in 1995, Turner and Crawford, 1988 and Prosci, 2005 all indicate that only 30% (at best) of projects introducing change in organizations have reported any real measurable change. If you look at the flip side, that's 70% failure. Now I'm


Taking a short side trail - Water, no Matter How You Call It..

Many of you know of my concern for the development of the small blue ball called Earth we all ride along on. I just finished a quick read on the "Water Efficiency" blog edited by Elizabeth Cutright. I enjoy reading Elizabeth's posts. I think she and her staff get it right more often than not and this week is another 'spot on' post. She titles this week's missive "Wastewater As “Want”-water". In it she contends, along with a lot of learned and experienced folks in the water business, that we need to take a larger view of water. A view beyond the separation of treatment, disposal and distribution and think of using water much like nature uses it. (My emphasis added below.)
In a special issue of Science released this month, in a report titled “Taking the ‘waste’ out of wastewater for human security and ecosystem stability,” a team of 16 authors from a variety of universities and research facilities combined their efforts to take a closer look at the potential of wastewater treatment, development, and reuse. At the heart of their inquiry was the question of how human behavior and outside-of-the-box resource management can not only reverse the damage done to the ecosystem and our water resources, but can actual restore, rehabilitate, and re-imagine our water resource landscape.

The Castor and Pollux identity crisis of water and energy

I've long held the view that we need to think of water and energy as a "Castor and Pollux" paring. Looking at water from a holistic viewpoint makes it easier to see how energy and water are an inseparable pair. Water is the first and one of the most efficient energy storage units in our ecology. It's state-change physics is a wonder to behold and that simple state change is the basis of the beginning of the industrial revolution and much or our electrical generation system today.

I hope you enjoy the read and take a close look at the issue of Science magazine as well.
This is an entry in a  continuing series regarding Connections within the Built Environment, water, energy, wicked problems and the use of hybrid thinking. Messy problems such as these are the focus of our discussions.


Chaos and Change are Brothers - Part 2

Recently a group of really bright folks, Dawn Naney, Clay Goser and Marcelo Azambuja posted a new document entitled "Accellerating the Adoption of Lean Thinking in the Construction Industry" which deals with the issue of adopting lean management theory within the construction industry. The following is part of the response I posted on the LinkedIn discussion group which Dawn posted. I thought after I wrote the response that it is just what I've been thinking about writing as Part 2 of this series, so here goes. I hope you enjoy the read. Of course you know Collaboration is the Glue for Success. If you haven't read Part 1 of this series then here's the link.

I would agree with the findings of the authors, but I contend there are a few of us in the business who have been talking about how to make the change stick and at the same time doing something about it. Up to this point we have been pretty quiet about it. (Yes gentle reader, I'll have much more to say here in this blog over the coming weeks.) The root issue revealed in the adoption curve that Gartner espouses, is the lack of efficient change management. When we stop


Changing: Part 1 - Chaos and Failure are Brothers

I recently came across a blog post by Karen Martin entitled "Cure the (Self-Inflicted) Chaos First" Here's an excerpt from her entry which hit home with me.
"The reason (for failure) isn’t a flaw in the methodologies, but a flaw inside of companies. Organizations in all sectors fail to meet their full potential because of self-inflicted chaos....I’m talking about chronic long-term chaos brought about by ambiguity, lack of focus, inconsistency—habits and behaviors that organizations can control but choose not to."
 I couldn't agree with Karen more. Standish, Gartner, Ernst & Young, Accenture, all the big consulting firms and a host of university studies indicate that only about 30% of projects which seek to instill permanent change in organizations actually experience some level of effectiveness.


My Saturday Gift to You, Gentle Reader: Longer, Happier and Effective Lives

It's not often that presenters at TED talks get standing "O"s but this talk from Jane McGonigal is one that definitely was deserved. I've known for a long time that my brain, yes even your brain is the most powerful tool we have to use as a human. Jane presents an engaging premise that you can use your brain to lengthen your life, strengthen your relationships and be a more content person. So this is my gift to you, gentle reader. Watch, listen then act and receive this gift for yourself.


Google Glass, Augmented Reality and Always-On

I just came across a follow on blog post by Josh Web who is one of those guys looking at what is going on and extending it to what might go on in the future. Some of you know I've been interested in the melding of visual and data driven technologies to provide a richer environment to work and live within. I first started thinking about this back in the late 1990's when I ran across a couple of guys in Dallas who were trying to get some augmented reality off the ground for HVAC field techs. They were really ahead of their time. Cell networks were just getting past the old analog services and Dallas has always been one of those testing markets for new doo-dads and services.

So, I've been wondering when we can get BIM, geocoding and virtual reality to work together and what that might mean to the AEC and Built Environment worlds. Wifi enabled cell phones can get down to pretty small increments for locational accuracy when four transceiver locations can pinpoint the WiFi device inside of 2 feet or less. How about using this kind of technology for mining, roadway construction, bridge construction, pipeline alignment and construction. All these types of projects would benefit from some form or combination of augmented reality merged with design and fabrication virtual models. The folks at Trimble Navigation already are embarked on the remote control of roadway construction machinery and open pit mining, but there is a lot more to be done.

Take a quick look at the slide presentation by Josh below and then let me know what you think about where we might be going with these idea in a couple of years.