Tag: Sustainable Engineering

Deep water source cooling

Deep water source cooling

Deepwater source cooling


“How can we use nature to make an efficient AC system?”


Many HVAC systems work by using chilled water to control the built environment. However, chilling this water can expend a massive amount of energy, as can providing a reliable heat sink. So how can we use our engineering mindset to make this system more efficient? Well, if we were to take our water from a source that is already chilled and use it as a heat sink, we will be able to have massive energy savings. One source of very cold water comes from deep water areas, such as lakes and oceans. So what if were to simply use this chilled water for our system? Well, this is known as deep water source cooling and is a most innovative way to solve the heat-energy problem. An example of these systems in action is Cornell University’s Lake Source Cooling project in Ithaca, New York.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Post-Occupancy Evaluation


“How do we evaluate buildings after they have been built and used?”


Modern Buildings are designed to function in a certain way. However, after they have been built, unforeseen factors can disrupt things and cause inefficiencies. So how can we evaluate buildings in an effective and rigorous manner after they have been constructed? Well, after many years of research, building professionals in both the U.S and Scotland have developed something called a Post-Occupancy Evaluation, which involves authorized individuals to arrive onsite an perform audits. Once an evaluation has been done, further action can be commenced to bring the unit to full operation

Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing

Lean Manufacturing


“How can we make manufacturing more efficient while having it more ecologically friendly?”


Everyone likes efficient manufacturing and a clean environment. However, in the popular imagination, these feats seem to be mutually incompatible. But what if we were to create a method that was able to accomplish both? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to figure this out. If we were to analyze our manufacturing operations, then we would find out that much of the production activities are actually unnecessary. So what if we were to simply trim these processes out? The result would be a manufacturing procedure that is simultaneously less expensive, more cost-efficient, and better for the environment. This is known as lean manufacturing and is being implemented in factories all over the world.

Life-cycle Assessment

Life-cycle Assessment

Life-cycle Assessment


“How can we fully analyze the environmental consequences of a product?”


Many new technologies such as electric vehicles market themselves as being sustainably built because they produce no emissions during operation. However, upon further inspection, we can see that these machines consume quite a lot of resources during manufacturing, putting their ecological value into question. So how can we completely analyze a material object for its environmental impact? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to think about this. First, let’s look at the entire life process of such an object, from the resources required to manufacturing to shipment to operation and finally decomposition. Then, let’s quantify how the environment was harmed during each part of the cycle. This method is known as Life-cycle Assessment and is used by sustainably minded individuals and organizations to obtain the true environmental impact of materials. From now on, whenever you see that a company touts its product as sustainable, just keep in mind that it might be so for only one part of its entire process.

Environmental Consequences of Mass Production

Environmental Consequences of Mass Production

Environmental Consequences of Mass Production


“What is the impact of mass production on the environment?”


Mass Production has been very successful in generating immense amounts of wealth and material objects. However, does this come with a cost? Since many objects need to be produced within a given amount of time this process expends energy and materials at an expedited rate in addition to operating the factories. Furthermore, Mass Production encourages consumerism, which in turns leads to higher levels of goods being produced. We can try to avoid these problems by investing in companies who use more sustainable manufacturing operations such as factories that utilize lean manufacturing or renewable energy.

LEED certification

LEED certification

LEED certification


“How can we quantify the sustainability of buildings?”
Buildings are amongst the most important facets of our civilization. Because of them, we can live, work, and play freely. But like most things created by humans, they take up environmental resources. And since we want to be as sustainable as possible, we need some way to measure the environmental impact of each building. That’s why the United States Green Building Council has developed a certification system called LEED. LEED works by giving “points” for each sustainable activity the building does, whether it be brownfield redevelopment energy optimization, or using regional materials. Based upon these points, the building may be awarded a LEED certification (with levels specified by the figure) and become eligible for incentives such as tax credits. Because of the system’s success, numerous countries around the world have expressed interest in the system, including the rapidly developing India and China.

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration

Why Lithium-ion Batteries are Better for Renewable Energy Integration


“What is one possibility to solve renewable energy storage?”


Subject Solar Energy / Storage Innovations

Date: October 11, 2017


I am writing to you to inform you about recent difficulties in solar energy integration. As it stands, solar energy is generated in an active form, meaning that once created it must be used immediately. To solve this, we can deploy Lithium-ion batteries to act as reservoirs.


Lithium-Ion Batteries have properties that make them a strong option for renewable energy integration. Lithium-ion batteries are composed of lithium and carbon, giving them special characteristics. However, these same properties also give Lithium-Ion Batteries special problems, such as being prone to spontaneous explosions. (Brain, 2006)



One of the major bottlenecks to renewable energy integration is a lack of viable storage mechanisms. One of the most viable solutions, battery systems, has numerous drawbacks. They can take up large amounts of space, and provide a low energy to space ratio. Consequentially, the current battery technology paradigm needs to be overhauled.




Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies are a new battery technology. Because of their unique properties, they hold much potential for Renewable Energy Storage. However, this same composition that makes it special also makes it potent for mishap.


Lithium-ion Batteries include numerous advantages. Their much more energy dense, meaning that a small volume can hold a lot of charge, bypassing the previous space issue. They also tend to keep this charge, losing only 5%/month compared to the average 20%/month, allowing renewable energy to be stored for a longer time. They also can also be charged before they run out of power and can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles, making them quite viable for being used as battery storage with the dynamic character of renewable energy. (Brain, 2006)


These batteries also come with numerous drawbacks. They start degrading once manufactured, decay faster in the presence of high temperatures, are ruined upon complete discharge, require an onboard control system, and most importantly, may burst into flame spontaneously if it overheats. (Brain, 2006)

How we can overcome this

Keep these batteries in low-temperature facilities. This will keep their charge more stable, have it degrade slower, and most importantly prevent spontaneous explosions.



Even with their flaws, Lithium-ion technology holds much potential for use in renewable energy integration. Their high energy density combined with their ability to handle dynamics charging and discharging gives them an unparalleled capacity to work with renewable energy. If we can store them in colder locations, then we can also greatly reduce their drawbacks.



Brain, Marshall. “How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work.” How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work | HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 14 Nov. 2006, electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/lithium-ion-battery.htm.