Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Green Dream in Texas - New York Times

A Green Dream in Texas - New York Times
Terrorism is obviously a national security issue... But so is our dependence on a region of the world controlled by dictators, tyrants and fundamentalist nut-cases.

In fact, our dependence on that region, and those regimes, is the real national security risk.

But our administration is not addressing that risk... at all. What have they done to help spur the American people onto the road of energy independence and self-sufficiency? NOTHING...

Leadership is all it would take... Leadership and time. American's are ready to innovate.

Here's an example:

T.I. (Texas Instruments) always wanted to keep its newest wafer factory near Dallas so it would be near its design center and ideas could flow back and forth. But China, Taiwan and Singapore were all tempting alternatives, offering low wages, subsidies and tax breaks. So the T.I. leadership laid down a challenge: T.I. could locate its new wafer factory in Richardson, if the T.I. design team and community leaders could find a way to build it for $180 million less than its last Dallas factory, erected in the late 1990's. That would make its cost-per-wafer competitive with any overseas plant's.

Although the T.I. engineers initially thought it impossible, they pulled it off. Previous chip factories had three floors because of the complicated cooling and manufacturing process involved in making wafers. The T.I. design team came up with a way to build the Richardson factory with just two floors - a huge savings in mass and energy. T.I. also contacted Amory Lovins, the green designer who heads the Rocky Mountain Institute, and asked him to help it design other parts of the plant in a way that would lower its resource consumption, which, over the life of a plant, can exceed construction outlays.

Together, T.I. engineers and Mr. Lovins's team designed big water pipes with fewer elbows, which reduced friction loss and let them use smaller pumps that save energy. Various passive solar innovations were built in, including roofs that use a white reflective coating to reduce heat. These, together with innovations in how air is circulated, cooled and recovered naturally, reduced total heat so much that T.I. was able to get rid of one huge industrial air-conditioner. Almost all of the waste from the building construction is being recycled. The urinals are all waterless.

"Green building is not necessarily about producing your own power with windmills and solar panels. It's about addressing the consumption side with really creative design and engineering to eliminate waste and reduce energy usage - it's the next industrial revolution," said Paul Westbrook, who oversees sustainable design for T.I. and helped turn T.I. leaders on to green building by taking them to his solar-powered home. "Green building added some cost, but over all we built a green building for 30 percent less per square foot than our previous conventional facility." This is expected to cut utility costs by 20 percent and water usage by 35 percent.

We have another few years of vision-less leadership. Lets hope the American people can see past their own "nuke the bad guys 'til they glow" attitude and elect someone who will put us on the path to long term stability. A path that doesn't involve our military trying to remake the world in our image...


bombsoverbaghdad said...


I totally agree, but it's going to be very hard to get American off of oil because of the power and influence of oil companies. I work in politics, and when I tell you they throw around money, it ain't just little bits of change. ExxonMobil is sitting on THIRTY-FOUR BILLION IN CASH right now. It's 3rd Quarter alone, NETTED $9B. Think on that for a sec.


No matter what the USA does, I'm not sure we can get off of oil fast enough. Oil is in everything, from your computer to your car. We are screwed if we can't make a synthetic.

Also, I think you may discount the amount to which the USA is in fact RUNNING the govt's in the middle east. From Kuwait and Iraq, which were "created" by the UK, to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, the US runs the show financially and miliarily.

Reign of Reason said...

I completely agree: I was amazed at oil's quarterly profits (profits: that's after paying those execs' exorbitant salaries and bonus too).

The worst part is that this administration is giving the oil companies subsidies! …and not to be more efficient or green, but to drill more and build more refineries….

Yeah, we need more refining capacity, but I think they can afford to expand on their own.

As for our influence: I realize that too… We prop up these dictators and otherwise repressive governments because they keep the oil flowing.

mrsleep said...

actually this is encouraging.

good old, American ingenuity.

Reign of Reason said...

It is encouraging... but think how much faster we'd be moving if we were motivated by a real leader...

Intellectual Insurgent said...

America is not dependent on dictators in the region. It is the other way around and everyone in the Semitic World knows that. The reason there is no "freedom" and "democracy" is because the US supports (militarily and financially) the worst of the dictators so long as they stick to the party line. If one of them falls out of favor, they make an example of him, case in point Saddam. He was best friend number one.

The real aspect of the oil question is not America's need for oil, but its control of oil. Much of US oil consumption is not of oil from the east. But it controls 4 of the top 5 supplies (and all this hooha about Iran is creating an excuse to snatch the 5th). The US has to control the world's oil or it will lose all hegemony to China and the EU. Follow China and you will see Bush policies in action.

Iraq had entered into several contracts with China for oil exploration. One of the first acts the US did when it colonized Iraq was declare all existing contracts null and void. China is all over Iran, which explains all the b.s. trumpeting about nuclear programs.

Connect the dots.

Reign of Reason said...

Very true II...
It's a mutually beneficial relationship -- our oil $$$ keep them in power, while they bank on our SUV’s/outrageous consumption to keep their governments afloat.
Your point about control is well taken too. I had read some time ago about the Chinese and Russian deals in the area... By invading, we get to wipe the slate clean and (hopefully, according the Bush doctrine) put in a US puppet who will negotiate favorable terms for our oil interests.
Of course the idiots didn’t consider the history of the people that are being elected. We’re likely to have less influence in the region 15 years from now (as compared to 15 years ago) as a result of this adventure in foreign policy.

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