Energy Efficiency Aired at Day-Long Review at UCSB

In an effort to make better use of resources while battling carbon emissions, the Institute for Energy Efficiency at UCSB brought in almost a dozen experts to its annual Emerging Technologies Review on May 16.  

This all-day review featured speakers from industry and academia, including Southern California Edison, Intel, ARM, VMWare, Ecomerit, UC Irvine and UCSB. 

Speaker Mark Honer of VMWare made a strong statement about the need for the world return to pre-Industrial Revolution carbon emissions levels and the need to “regenerate” the planet. 

He said computers can help save a gigaton of carbon by allowing users to avoid using fossil fuels to run many errands, such as simply going to the bank. 

However, he said it is important to have a “carbon avoidance meter” to keep track of usage. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” he said. 

He spoke about shutting down unnecessary data centers to save energy and cut carbon. He referred to “zombie computers,” which are those that are unnecessary, but stay in operation anyway. 

On the other hand, eliminating electronic such as that equipment could lead to toxic chemical waste pollution, which is the fastest-growing rubbish in the world, he said. 

Computers, phones and other electronic devices are only going to proliferate since 75 billion people will soon be online around the world, he said. 

UCSB Professor Chandra Krintz said her computer science team is developing more efficient software for the Internet of Things. Business needs to use data to make homes and workplaces more computer smart. 

She said the 3.5 billion people using the internet at any time “is nothing compared to what’s ahead.” 

Speaker Peter Stricker from Ecomerit discussed a solar-powered desalination system, called Seawell LLC, that uses an offshore buoy to take the brine out of ocean water, pump it onshore and inject it into aquifers or use it other ways. 

He said the system is much cheaper than the $71 million onshore Santa Barbara Charles Meyer Water Desalination Plant, which remained dormant until it was pressed into service in the wake of the recently ended drought. 

Stricker said he told UCSB officials he could save the university $1 million a year if they employed the so-called Seawell LLC System. He said UCSB officials haven’t taken him up on his offer.  

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