Renewable Energy Archive


New Book Explores a Net Zero Energy Future

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it’s net-zero energy. In The New Net Zero, architect Bill Maclay explores green design’s new frontier: net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

In a nation where traditional buildings use roughly 40 percent of the total fossil energy, the interest in net-zero building is growing enormously—among both designers interested in addressing climate change and consumers interested in energy efficiency and long-term savings. Maclay, an award-winning net-zero designer whose buildings have achieved high-performance goals at affordable costs, makes the case for a net-zero future; explains net-zero building metrics, integrated design practices, and renewable energy options; and shares his lessons learned on net-zero teambuilding.

From mobile homes to commercial office buildings, Maclay puts his vision on display in this fully-illustrated book that includes case studies, and even a twelve-step guide to creating a net zero building.

Maclay’s book, and his long-term vision, were featured in The New York Times as part of a Q&A with Home & Garden writer Sandy Keenan. Here’s how she opened her piece:

Books by architectural firms are often vainglorious marketing efforts that keep the content glossy and light. But an ambitious new book from William Maclay, an architect in Waitsfield, Vt., and his associates, challenges the genre.

Four years in the making, “The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future” (Chelsea Green Publishing, $90) marshals detailed architectural drawings and impressive pie charts to show that net-zero-energy buildings (those that make as much — or more — energy than they consume) not only offer long-term advantages for the planet, but can also save their owners money from the start. The book is an informed plea from a 65-year-old architect who has long concentrated on designing such buildings, making the most of renewable energy sources, such as solar and geothermal power.

You can read the whole story here.

While of interest to professionals, The New Net Zero will also be of interest to nonprofessionals who are seeking ideas and strategies to bring net zero principles to life. In fact, Maclay features a number of communities – in the United States and around the world – that are working to achieve net zero status, including the communities that are near Maclay’s Waitsfield, Vt. office.

Learn more about The New Net Zero in the excerpt below (the preface and chapter two) and save 35% off if you order your copy between now and July 3.

New Net Zero: Preface and Ch 2 – Defining the New Net Zero by Chelsea Green Publishing

Reinventing Fire at the End of the Oil Age

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Forty years ago, key members of OPEC embargoed oil exports to the U.S. and other countries. Oil was scarce and prices soared. So what have we learned from the 1973 incident?

In short, not much. We are still largely living under the illusory belief that we can burn oil forever.

Four times since 1980, U.S. forces have intervened in the Persian Gulf to protect not Israel but oil. The Gulf hasn’t become more stable. Readiness for such interventions costs a half-trillion dollars per year—about ten times what we pay for oil from the Gulf, and rivaling total defense expenditures at the height of the Cold War. And burning oil emits two-fifths of fossil carbon, so abundant oil only speeds dangerous climate change that destabilizes the world and multiplies security threats.

In 2011, Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute penned a comprehensive guide to weaning the United States completely off oil and coal by 2050. Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era details how, by 2050, the United States could triple its energy efficiency while switching to more renewables and increasing the economy with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy and one-third less natural gas. All of this could cost $5 trillion less than “business as usual” and allow the United States to run a 158 percent bigger economy.

Reinventing Fire is a wise, detailed and comprehensive blueprint for gathering the best existing technologies for energy use and putting them to work right now to create jobs, end our dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels, and unleash the enormous economic potential of the coming energy revolution,” writes President Bill Clinton.

Now, as we approach the 40th anniversary of the oil embargo, we’re releasing Lovins’ book in an updated paperback edition.

Fracked oil and gas, Canadian tar sands, Saudi oil—none can beat modern efficiency and renewables on direct cost, price stability, or impacts, notes Lovins. The end of the conflict-creating, climate-threatening Oil Age is coming clearly into view, and not a moment too soon.

“Imagine fuel without fear,” writes Lovins in the Preface. “No runaway climate change. No oil spills, dead coal miners, dirty air, devastated lands, lost wildlife. No energy poverty. No oil-fed wars, tyrannies, or terrorists. Nothing to run out. Nothing to cut off. Nothing to worry about. Just energy abundance, benign and affordable, for all, for ever. That richer, fairer, cooler, safer world is possible, practical, even profitable—because saving and replacing fossil fuels increasingly works better and costs no more than buying and burning them. We just need a new fire.”

Reinventing Fire (Paperback edition) is available now and on sale for 35% off until October 23rd. Read an excerpt of Chapter One: Defossilizing Fuels below.

Defossilizing Fuels – An Excerpt from Reinventing Fire

Renewable Energy for Resilient Communities

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

How can we successfully bring our neighbors together and relocalize our food, energy, and financial systems?

To glean some of the best ideas percolating throughout the United States, and the world, sign up for the Community Resilience Chats—a webinar series that delves into details essential for communities that are ready to take the necessary steps to reclaim their future. These online discussions stem from The Community Resilience Guides co-published by Post Carbon Institute and Chelsea Green.

These online chats are co-produced by Chelsea Green, Transition US, and Post Carbon Institute.

In the next chat — Power from the People — community clean power visionaries, Lynn Benander of Co-op Power and Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels will share their experiences in moving away from big energy. Join the conversation:

Community Resilience Chat: Power from the People – Webinar
September 10, 2013 at 2:00pm (EST)

The webinar is free, but space is limited so don’t wait to sign up. Participants will receive an exclusive 35% discount on Greg Pahl’s Power from the People. There will be a presentation and time for Q&A, but send in your burning questions on community clean power in advance to help shape the conversation.

If you missed the first Community Resilience Chat: Rebuilding the Foodshed with Philip Ackerman-Leist, you can watch it here:

 Next up on Community Resilience Chats: Local Dollars, Local Sense. Michael Shuman’s perspective sheds light on rebooting the economy to meet the needs of investors and entrepreneurs for a healthy and secure local economy.

Want to learn more about these books and how to make your community more self-reliant? Chelsea Green is offering  The Community Resilience Guides series as a special book set to make sure you and your neighbors have the tools and strategies you need to become more resilient.

Low-Impact DIY Solutions From Our Publishing Partners

Monday, August 19th, 2013

At Chelsea Green, our mission is to publish books designed to help people live more sustainable, self-sufficient, and ecologically conscious lives. Along with the books that we bring into print, we also partner with publishers and writers around the world and distribute their books throughout the United States.

A new addition to our catalog comes from Green Man Publishing. Author Frank Tozer self-publishes books on plants and their uses. With an abundance of new information on even more crops, The New Vegetable Growers Handbook is the most comprehensive manual on vegetable gardening available. This updated version, like the original, covers the what, when and why of growing common and unique crops, firsthand from Tozer’s gardening expertise.

We are also especially proud to partner with Permanent Publications, a forward thinking publisher in the UK. Like Chelsea Green, Permanent Publications produces innovative books and DVDs, and publishes the influential Permaculture magazine.

Below are the newest additions to our catalog from Permanent Publications.

Looking to eliminate debt and maximize freedom? Compact Living offers design solutions for minimalists, downsizers and small spaces. Embrace what you have, optimize your space and free yourself of clutter with Michael Guerra’s latest book.

After finding himself dissatisfied with conventional life and traveling Europe, Michel Daniek has incorporated solar energy into his daily life. His second edition of Do It Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power will guide you through a sustainable, low-impact, low-cost approach to energy for any home – traditional or off the grid.

With unique recipes, projects and foraging tips for every season, Glennie Kindred reconnects us to the natural world. Letting in the Wild Edges encourages openness to the world around us, by incorporating simplicities of nature into our everyday lives.

The Moneyless Manifesto teaches us how to live more with less. After three years of living without money, Moneyless Man Mark Boyle breaks down his philosophy and experience of breaking free from the constraints of our modern financial system and living a truly sustainable life.

Kemp has become an expert on growing food in small spaces by feeding herself from her tiny balcony garden. With low-impact and high-subsistence standards, Permaculture in Pots provides the power and know-how to grow your own food even in the smallest of spaces.

The updated and revised edition of The Woodland Way is an alternative approach to healthy and diverse woodland management. Ben Law is creating a woodland renaissance in the UK, using permaculture woodlands for the betterment of community, environment and climate.

WATCH: Greg Pahl’s Sustainably Heated Home: A Fireplace Insert

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Greg Pahl, author of Power from the People, the latest installment in our Community Resilience Guides Series, also wrote Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options, which we published in 2003.

The book is a guide to using woodstoves, passive and active solar, biomass, and other natural methods for keeping your nest as toasty as possible. It may be too late for you to prep your home for the winter that’s already here, but perhaps the cold weather and the video below can inspire you to scheme some sustainable heating upgrades for your home in the coming year.

Greg Pahl performed an energy overhaul on his 1950s tract home in northern Vermont. In the process, he transformed a house that was built with no consideration for energy efficiency or sustainability into a naturally heated home using sustainable fuel sources.

In this video, Greg explains the conversion of his decorative living room fireplace—a “smoke alarm tester,” as he puts it—into a usable and efficient home heating appliance. He’ll explain what’s involved in installing one in your own home, saving you money and energy this winter.

This video is part of a series. See also:

If you’re curious about Pahl’s new book on community-based renewable energy systems, and our partnership with the Post Carbon Institute, visit Resilience.org to find out more. For an easy intro to the concepts in Power from the People, you can watch a recent webinar that Pahl led, here.

How to End Blackouts Forever: Amory Lovins on Time.com

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

In a recent online article for Time magazine, Amory Lovins spells out what we need to do in order to make our electrical power system more resilient in the face of catastrophic disruption brought by the likes of Hurricane Sandy, wild fires, earthquakes, or solar flares.

Come hell or high water — and Hurricane Sandy brought both to many Americans — most of us can’t get the electricity we need. More than two weeks after the storm’s departure, 25,000 homes were still without power. We live high in the Rockies and were unaffected, but a couple of Februaries ago snowstorms knocked out our neighbors’ electricity on five different days. But ours stayed on — by design. Our house’s efficient lights and appliances save most of the electricity. This shrinks the solar power system that runs our meter backwards and sells back its surplus to the grid. But unlike most solar-powered buildings, ours is wired to work with or without the grid.

A resilient power system wouldn’t be linked together in a top-down trickle, getting energy from a central source. Instead it would be made of independent nodes that can power themselves, and that won’t take the whole network out if they fail. Especially if these nodes gain their power from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal, and if the buildings they support are energy efficient to begin with, we could be looking at a completely different relationship to electricity. One that wouldn’t be threatened by a monstrous, climate-change-heated superstorm like Sandy.

Lovins goes on to explain that this strategy seems rational enough for at least one major stakeholder in our country to consider seriously. The Pentagon, caring very much that their war machine offices and bases don’t lose power all at once, is looking into microgrid technology. If it’s good enough for the Pentagon, Lovins argues, it’s good enough for regular folks like us! Read the entire Time article here.

Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute explore an optimistic view of the future of energy in their latest book, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era

Resilience is the name of the game these days, as those of us interested in “sustainability” start to develop a deep understanding of what the word really means, and develop robust tools with which to make it happen. Resilience doesn’t just mean continuing forever as-is, it takes into account the fact that disruptions will happen, and that communities must simply find ways of developing that allow them to bounce back.

Asher Miller’s recent article for the Post Carbon Institute has much the same take as Lovins, and encourages readers to put their money where their beliefs are, and invest in this new vision of efficient, distributed, community-owned electrical power.

On the day following the election, 350.org kicked of a 20-city, 20-day “Do the Math” tour to “mount an unprecedented campaign to cut off the industry’s financial and political support by divesting our schools, churches and government from fossil fuels.”

I want to set out a challenge to everyone who recognizes the need to divest from the fossil fuel industry: Moving our investments from a mutual fund that holds shares in ExxonMobil to some kind of socially responsible investment (SRI) is important, but it’s just a baby step.

What we also need is to invest our capital (both financial and sweat) in community-owned, distributed, and small-scale renewable energy. Why? Because we must fundamentally remake the energy economy as if nature, people, and the future actually mattered.

That means investing in renewable energy that is distributed, because renewable sources themselves are diffuse and distributed, and because redundancy and distribution are key to building resilience in the face of shocks like Superstorm Sandy, which are increasingly likely in a climate-changed world.

It also means investing in renewable energy that is community-owned, because we’ve seen what happens when large, multinational companies control essential human needs, whether they be food, healthcare, or energy. By their very nature, these corporations place profits and shareholders over the well-being of the communities they ostensibly serve. A new energy future must be part of a new economy future, a new economy that puts people and planet over profits.

And finally, it means investing in renewable energy that is small-scale, again because distribution increases resilience but also because even renewable energy can have profoundly negative impacts on ecosystems if not sited and scaled in ways that are appropriate to the environment in which it — and we — reside.

Sounds like a tall order, I know. But thankfully there are a number of great, replicable examples of individuals, institutions, and communities meeting the challenge. Below are just a few. (For a much more complete resource, check out Power from the People: How to Organize, Launch, and Finance Local Energy Projects by Greg Pahl, the 2nd in the Community Resilience Guide Series published by Chelsea Green Publishing and Post Carbon Institute.)

Read Miller’s entire article, including his favorite examples of resilient energy projects, here.

And check out the other books in our Community Resilience Guides Series, Local Dollars, Local Sense (on how to shift investments from Wall Street to Main Street), and the forthcoming Rebuilding the Foodshed (about ways to develop food systems that are secure, appropriately-scaled, and good for the environment).

Power from the People – A Webinar with Greg Pahl

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Renewable power is always better than fossil fuel power, but even solar and wind can stir up environmental concerns. Here in Vermont, where ridgeline construction is limited and restricted, residents are increasingly seeing their beloved landscapes interrupted by wind turbines. Meanwhile, activists in the southwest are seeing huge solar installations disrupt the delicate desert ecology.

But these sorts of massive-scale projects are not the only way to do renewables. Small-scale projects that are funded, planned, and supported by local communities are much more sustainable, and, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy may be more resilient to get back online in the event of knockout storms.

This Friday, November 16th, join Greg Pahl, author of Power From the People, for a webinar on the subject. The talk starts at 10 AM PT, 1 PM ET, 18 GMT.

Communities across the United States are taking power into their own hands by organizing, financing, and launching their own local renewable energy projects! In this webinar, energy expert Greg Pahl will describe the best practices and lessons learned from the community-owned wind, solar, and biofuel projects featured in his latest book, Power From the People (Chelsea Green, 2012). Pahl’s book is part of our Community Resilience Guide series we’re co-publishing with the folks at Post Carbon Institute.

In fact, check out the recent Grist article written by PCI’s Asher Miller about just how we can take the lead from Bill McKibben and divest from Big Oil by investing in our own backyards. Miller cites some of the many examples in Pahl’s books where communities are already doing this – to much success.

This event will comprise a 30 minute presentation followed by a live Q&A. Join by going here at the time of the presentation where you will be able to login and participate.

Playing Nuclear Roulette in Vermont

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Vermont’s lone nuclear reactor — Entergy-owned Vermont Yankee — has been named one of the five worst reactors in the United States, according to the new book Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, published by Chelsea Green Publishing.

For much of the past Vermont Yankee has been the focus of ongoing state and federal regulatory investigations, legislative battles, and ongoing courtroom drama. It started running in 1972, and was recently given a 20-year operating extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

This coming weekend, and into next week, activists will renew their attention to the aging reactor in hopes they can finish the work of the Vermont Senate a few years ago — close down Vermont Yankee permanently.

In this new work — which we’re offering on sale this week — investigative journalist Gar Smith lists five nuclear facilities as the “worst reactors” in the United States. They were chosen because they are representative of the poor regulatory oversight that has endangered the public, and poisoned the environment. Many other nuclear power sites around the country have equally disturbing records of poor performance, emergency shutdowns, and close calls, which Smith details in ample supply in Nuclear Roulette.

“The consequences of poor regulatory oversight can be seen in the operating histories of the country’s nuclear reactors,” writes Smith in  Nuclear Roulette.

The other four reactors are: Entergy-owned Indian Point in New York; Davis-Besse in Ohio, and Diablo Canyon and San Onofre in California.

Here is the section devoted to Vermont Yankee, which also exemplifies what happens when the industry and its lapdog regulators team up against the wishes of a state’s citizens and elected officials:

Vermont Yankee: The Green Mountain State vs. the NRC

On March 10, 2011, the NRC unanimously approved a 20-year license extension for the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Within hours of the decision, three similar General Electric Mark 1 reactors were knocked off-line by an earthquake in Japan—and all three overheated and exploded. Despite the devastation in Fukushima Prefecture, the NRC stood by its decision to allow the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee plant to continue operating through 2031. Given Vermont Yankee’s history of breakdowns and cover-ups—and the fact that a reactor accident here could put more than a million Americans at risk—the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear excoriated the NRC’s decision as both “audacious” and “reckless.”

Vermonters received another jolt when it was revealed that the NRC had voted to extend Vermont Yankee’s license even though its inspectors had discovered that critical electric cables powering the plant’s safety systems had been “submerged under water for extended periods of time.”

It was not the only maintenance failure of Entergy Corp., which had acquired the plant in 2002. The company has a reputation for “buying reactors cheap and running them into the ground.” In 2004, a poorly maintained electrical system set off a large fire in the plant’s turbine building that forced an emergency shutdown. In 2007, Vermont Yankee experienced a series of maintenance problems that included the dramatic collapse of a cooling tower. A waterfall of high-pressure water burst from a ruptured cooling pipe and tore a gaping hole in the plant’s wall. Entergy was able to hide the damage—but only until a concerned employee leaked a photo of the wreckage to the press. The huge gap in the side of the building was reminiscent of the hole in the side of the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

Tritium + Entergy = Perjury

During state hearings in 2009, Entergy executives were asked if radioactive tritium detected in the soil and groundwater near the reactor could have leaked from the plant. Company officials repeatedly swore under oath that this was impossible since there were no underground pipes at the plant. It was not until January 2010, after a leak of radioactive tritium was traced to a series of subsurface pipes, that Entergy changed its story. While the plant didn’t have “underground pipes,” Entergy now explained, it did have “buried pipes.”

Attorney general William Sorrell began a 17-month investigation during which Entergy’s former executive vice president Curtis Hebert admitted that the company’s statements about the pipes “could have been more accurate.” The state ordered Entergy to remove more than 300,000 gallons of radioactive water fron the soil and ground water at the reactor site, and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin demanded the plant’s closure.

There’s another waste problem at the plant: a large and potentially lethal stockpile of used fuel rods. While Fukushima’s six reactors had between 360 and 500 tons of slowly dying fuel rods on-site, the nuclear graveyard at Vermont Yankee is filled with 690 tons of dangerously radioactive waste. And the storage pools for this spent fuel lack both backup cooling systems and backup generators.

Beyond Nuclear’s “Freeze Our Fukushimas” campaign, which aims to close all 23 Mark 1 reactors in the United States, hoped to score its first victory when Vermont Yankee’s 40-year operating license expired on March 21, 2012. The odds were improved by the fact that Vermont is the only state that gives lawmakers the authority to veto a nuclear power plant. In February 2010, a month after Entergy’s tritium scandal was exposed, the Vermont Senate voted 26–4 against issuing a new “certificate of public good” that would allow Vermont Yankee to continue operating.

Entergy Sues Vermont

In April 2011, Entergy’s lawyers responded by suing the governor and the state, claiming, “We have a right to continue operation.” On January 19, 2012, federal judge Garvan Murtha ruled that only the NRC could close a nuclear plant, and therefore Entergy was entitled to its new 20-year operating license. Murtha also made it clear that the Green Mountain State was not entitled to raise any questions regarding plant safety or the prices charged for nuclear power—under federal law, only the NRC could raise such matters.

The decision alarmed Beyond Nuclear and other critics who feared the nuclear industry and the federal government were working in concert “to pre-empt a state’s right to self determination for an energy future in the public good.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quickly weighed in. “If Vermont wants to move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders told the Burlington Free Press, “no corporation should have the right to force our state to stay tethered to an aging, problem-ridden nuclear plant.”

Eight days after the judge’s decision, Entergy refused the state’s second request to investigate the source of a tritium leak that had poisoned a drinking well on the plant’s property. On July 25, 2011, Entergy further demonstrated its disregard for due process by announcing a $60 million refueling project—an investment that would pay off only if the power plant won its extension.

Entergy’s lawyers publicly confirmed their understanding that the company still needs the permission of Vermont’s Public Service Board (a quasi-official board that oversees Vermont’s utilities) if it is to continue operating its reactors. In a responding press release, however, the state’s Department of Public Service (which represents the interests of utility customers in cases brought before the Public Service Board) cautioned, “Past experience shows Entergy cannot be taken at its word.”

In a daunting struggle that pits 600,000 Vermonters against the US government, the nuclear industry, and the NRC, the state attorney general vowed to appeal Judge Murtha’s decision—all the way to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

“People don’t trust the NRC,” Bob Audette, a reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer told a film crew from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). “They think it’s the lapdog of the industry. They think it’s there basically to affirm everything the industry does. It’s too cozy with the industry.”

In another interview with the CIR, Anthony Roisman, a legal consultant for New York and Vermont, expressed his concerns with the NRC: “This regulatory agency does not regulate effectively. And until it does, there is no way that the public can have any confidence that plants, whether they are licensed or re-licensed, won’t have some catastrophic event. No one will benefit from a post-catastrophic-event hand-wringing that says, ‘Oh we should have done this and we’ll do better next time.’ The consequences are unimaginable.”

Seize the Power — It’s Energy Awareness Month!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

If you’re a Chelsea Green fan (read: you’re concerned about the planet) and you suffered through the first Presidential debate last week, your ears probably perked up when the President and Governor Romney faced off about energy. Since they are politicians, we can assume most of what they said was either completely untrue, or so massaged to fit a platform that it would probably be less confusing if it were completely untrue…

But regardless of these gentlemen and their prevarications, energy is one of the most important issues of our time.

October is Energy Awareness Month, and we would like to encourage you to learn a bit more about the problems of fossil fuels, and the promise of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, tidal power, biomass, geothermal, and our favorite “source” of energy: increased efficiency.

Chelsea Green has published important books on renewable energy for almost thirty years. This week, we’ve put a handful on sale for 25% off.

Read on, learn, and enjoy!

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Power cover image
Reg. Price: $19.95
Sale Price: $12.97

Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects

More than ninety percent of the electricity we use to light our communities, and nearly all the energy we use to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In Power from the People, energy expert Greg Pahl explains how American communities can plan, finance, and produce their own local, renewable energy that is reliable, safe, and clean.

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Reinventing Fire cover image
Reg. Price: $34.95
Sale Price: $26.21

Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era

Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth, and enriched the lives of billions. Yet their rising costs to our security, economy, health, and environment now outweigh their benefits. Moreover, that long-awaited energy tipping point—where alternatives work better than oil and coal and compete purely on cost—is no longer decades in the future. It is here and now. And it is the fulcrum of economic transformation.

In Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute offer a new vision to revitalize business models, end-run Washington gridlock, and win the clean energy race—not forced by public policy but led by business for enduring profit. Grounded in 30 years’ practical experience, this ground-breaking, peer-reviewed analysis integrates market-based solutions across transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity.

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Glorious Glut cover image
Reg. Price: $14.95
Sale Price: $11.21

A Solar Buyer’s Guide for the Home and Office: Navigating the Maze of Solar Options, Incentives, and Installers

Solar power, once a fringe effort limited to DIY enthusiasts, is now fast becoming mainstream. Many home and business owners are curious about solar electric and solar thermal systems, and wonder how to go about getting a clean energy generation system of their own.

A Solar Buyer’s Guide for the Home and Office explains the options so that property owners can make the right choices both for their energy needs and their financial security. Understanding how solar power systems work will enable readers to be informed customers when dealing with professional installers—the book also provides advice on how to select a qualified installer and understand the expanding variety of tax credits and other incentives that are popping up around the country.

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Reg. Price: $39.95
Sale Price: $26.96

Masonry Heaters: Designing, Building, and Living with a Piece of the Sun

Masonry Heaters is a complete guide to designing and living with one of the oldest, and yet one of the newest, heating devices. A masonry heater’s design, placement in the home, and luxurious radiant heat redefine the hearth for the modern era, turning it into a piece of the sun right inside the home.

Like the feeling one gets from the sun on a spring day, the environment around a masonry heater feels fresh. The radiant heat feels better on the skin. It warms the home both gently and efficiently. In fact, the value of a masonry heater lies in its durability, quality, serviceability, dependability, and health-supporting features. And it is an investment in self-sufficiency and freedom from fossil fuels.

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Reg. Price: $29.95
Sale Price: $26.46

Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition:A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind Energy Systems

Wind Energy Basics offers a how-to for home-based wind applications, with advice on which wind turbines to choose and which to avoid. He guides wind-energy installers through considerations such as renewable investment strategies and gives cautionary tales of wind applications gone wrong. And for the activist, he suggests methods of prodding federal, state, and provincial governments to promote energy independence.

Wind power can realistically not only replace the lion’s share of oil-, coal-, and naturalgas– fired electrical plants in the U.S., but also can add enough extra power capacity to allow for most of the cars in the nation to run on electricity. Gipe explains why such a startlingly straightforward solution is eminently doable and can be accomplished much sooner than previously thought—and will have the capacity to resuscitate small and regional economies.

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Reg. Price: $19.95
Sale Price: $12.97

COMING SOON – AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth

Nuclear Roulette dismantles the core arguments behind the nuclear-industrial complex’s “Nuclear Renaissance.” While some critiques are familiar—nuclear power is too costly, too dangerous, and too unstable—others are surprisin.

Nuclear Roulette exposes historic links to nuclear weapons, impacts on Indigenous lands and lives, and the ways in which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission too often takes its lead from industry, rewriting rules to keep failing plants in compliance. Nuclear Roulette cites NRC records showing how corporations routinely defer maintenance and lists resulting “near-misses” in the US, which average more than one per month.

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Van Jones: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

“We are entering the tough terrain of an unforgiving new century. But there is a path forward,” says Jones in this excerpt from Greg Pahl’s book, Power from the People.

This book rests an optimistic message on a pessimistic premise.

The sobering underlying thesis is that human civilization is already in big trouble—both ecologically and economically. And things are set to get much worse. The hopeful underlying message is that we still have the capacity to pull good outcomes from even the most frightening scenarios.

The paradox is this: Only by recognizing how much worse things can get can we muster the energy and creativity to win a better future. In that regard, the book you hold in your hands is not just an action guide; it is a survival guide.

The Bad News Is Very Bad

At this late date, there is no point in mincing words about the impending series of calamities. The global production of oil will soon peak, ending forever the era of cheap crude. The resulting price spikes and fuel shortages could throw all of industrial society into an ugly death spiral. Worse still: We have seen only the earliest examples of the kind of biblical disasters—the super-storms, wildfires, floods, and droughts—that climate experts predict are in the pipeline, even if we cease all carbon emissions immediately.

The polar ice caps haven’t melted yet; if they do, they will send temperatures and sea levels soaring, forcing us to redraw every coastal map in the world. Even under the friendliest scenarios, we will likely see food systems disrupted, life-sustaining fuels priced beyond reach for many, and our health challenged as tropical super-bugs invade formerly temperate climes. On a hotter planet, we could face the choice between water rationing and water riots. As stressful as the present moment is, worse times are possible—and even likely.

At the same time, the majority of the world’s people now live in cities. And though cities cover only 2 percent of Earth’s surface, they already consume 75 percent of the planet’s natural resources. As more people continue crowding into cities, that figure will climb even higher, which means urban areas have become the main driver in the ecological crisis. Many cities are sinkholes of human suffering, especially for a marginalized population of low-income earners and people of color. And in the United States, the word urban has become synonymous with the word problem. Many urban neighborhoods are plagued by economic desperation, violence, pollution, and crumbling infrastructure.

Climate change and the economic and equity crises of our communities may appear to have little in common, but they share a key determining factor—namely, our near-complete dependence on coal, oil, and natural gas. The carbon dioxide produced by driving our vehicles, heating (and cooling) our homes, and lighting our cities with fossil fuels is the main culprit behind climate change. Meanwhile, that same dependence on fossil fuels sucks billions of dollars every year out of communities across America, with the poorest households often hit hardest.

But what if we found ways to power our homes, businesses, factories, and vehicles that didn’t warm the planet, that kept local dollars circulating in local economies, and that even created local jobs? What if we spread those climate-friendly, local-economy-boosting, job-creating ideas to every city and town across the country?

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

It is too late for us to avert all of the negative consequences of 150 years of ecological folly and resource wastefulness. Our challenge is to begin implementing real changes, rapidly and from the bottom up. Certain bills are coming due, and certain chickens are coming home to roost, no matter what we do. But there are steps we can take to cushion the blow.

We must prepare ourselves (and our communities) for the worst possible outcomes. In considering the most pessimistic scenarios, we must talk less about economic growth and more about economic resilience; less about abundance and more about sufficiency; less about sustainability and more about survivability. It may be wise to consciously deploy our forces in a three- pronged, “trident” formation: some of us fixing the system from the inside, some of us pressuring the system from the outside, and some of us exercising the “lifeboat” option, thinking up alternative strategies for survival.

Power from the People is rare, because it gives some guidance on all three around the most important component of that system: energy.

You’ll read about courageous local government leaders finding creative ways to invest in local renewable energy; citizen activists pushing for (and winning) smarter regulations for green power; and entire communities taking matters into their own hands to prepare for an energy-scarcer future. Throughout the stories here, from both urban and rural communities, you’ll find a common theme all too often missing from the sustainability conversation: local prosperity . Local renewable energy is the heart of the new energy economy because it is the most obvious starting point for creating green jobs and generating local wealth. Local renewable energy puts the power in local empowerment.

By itself, however, even the most advanced local energy initiative can do little about our energy and environmental crises. Local actions must be multiplied to the level of movements . . . and nations.

Can America summon the strength, courage, and resolve to avert disaster and usher in a new age of sustainable prosperity? Both the ideas and the constituencies exist to turn the corner. We need a hard-hat-and-lunch- bucket brand of environmentalism . . . a we-can-fix-it environmentalism . . . a muscular, can-do environmentalism. We need a pro-ecology movement with its sleeves rolled up and its tool belt strapped on. We need a social uplift environmentalism that can fight poverty and pollution at the same time—by creating green-collar jobs for low-income people and displaced workers.

The time has come to birth a positive, creative, and powerful environmentalism, one deeply rooted in the lives, values, and needs of millions of ordinary people who work every day (or desperately wish they could).

We need an environmental movement that can put millions of people back to work, giving them the tools and the technologies they need to retrofit, re-engineer, and reboot the nation’s energy, water, and waste systems. Green-collar jobs can restore hope and opportunity to America’s failing middle-class and low-income families while honoring and healing the Earth. Those new jobs could create a ladder up and out of poverty for jobless urban residents. Under even the most depressing of scenarios, there certainly will be economic opportunities and green-collar jobs—from building dikes and levees and reconstructing devastated structures to installing community-owned wind turbines and operating renewable biofuel factories using regional feedstocks. The United States can fight global warming, energy scarcity, and poverty in the same stroke.

With 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States now produces 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas pollution. It also locks up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners in its domestic incarceration industry. Those numbers document the notion that too many U.S. business and political lead- ers govern as if we have both a disposable planet and disposable people.

As the new green economy springs to life, will we live in eco-equity or eco-apartheid? Will clean and green business flourish only in the rich, white parts of town? Will our kids be left to deal with the toxic wastes of polluting industries, the life-threatening diseases that decimate polluted communities, and the crushing lack of economic opportunity as the old polluting economy goes bust? How we answer these questions will impact the fate of billions of people.

On this crowded planet, we have responsibilities that extend beyond our national borders. Therefore, it is good to be a global citizen. But we must never forget: The very best gift that we can give to the world is a better America. The peoples of the world want and need our country to set a global example for human and environmental rights while being a global partner for peace and progress.

We are entering the tough terrain of an unforgiving new century. But there is a path forward. It is narrow and treacherous, but it leads to the best possible outcome for the largest number of people. And it starts with developing local renewable energy.

Van Jones is the co-Founder and president of Rebuild the Dream. Van is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and American Progress Action Fund. He is the author of the bestselling book, The Green Collar Economy.

This excerpt appeared on AlterNet on August 21, 2012.


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