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asobel's blog

What Are We Doing Right Now?

The short summary of our project is this: we are developing a toolkit for California communities to use to lower their carbon footprint. After we complete our proof-of concept, we will be testing it using information collected from the city of Ventura, CA.

We have had some awesome people helping along the way so far, and some that don't even know they helped. That is the way of research. We are deep in the research realm right now where we get to find some of the most brilliant research that has been done, and compile it together in a semblage of work. We are learning REALbasic programming right now and are writing the numbers we come up with into equations. These are coming together into a piece of software that will be meant to guide city managers on what are the best strategies to choose. It is the largest part of the project and one that could go on forever, if there weren't a major timeline in February.

So what are we doing right now? We are working hard on our strategies. Take a look back here in a couple weeks and we should have some available to view online. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Coding Has Started

There are three main deliverables for this project: a variety of strategy assessments that could help abate greenhouse gases in communities, a case study with some suggestions for the city of Ventura, California and a proof-of-concept piece of software that integrates our whole project together. We've started coding that last one! We are using an IDE called REALbasic that will enable us to compile the software for the Mac, Linux and Windows platform. The software will store its information on our web server and is locked by password protection. As our client is AECOM, it is slightly tailored to fit a consulting paradigm that would have consultants collect some of the missing information and use it to make the analysis. Our software is meant to be a learning tool and will teach as well as calculate strategies based on multiple time frames, looking for the lowest cost method of abating GHGs at the city level. We hope to eventually release the source code when the project finishes as well. Here is a quick look at the current splash screen (at 60% size).

Public Presentation in Ventura

Tonight Michael, Aaron, and our friend and collaborator Ling visited Ventura to present our project and get some much-needed feedback. Our metastudy has barely begun but we are really excited about it. Thanks to everyone that came out to discuss Ventura greenhouse gas issues with us tonight. It was a great group and we got some fantastic ideas along with amazing offers to help us along in our travels. We're all in this together. We're learning right along with you and are looking forward to what we can come up with. We'll be updating the website with our progress during the next few months.

 

Attached are the two documents handed out tonight. Disclaimer: This baseline information was completed as an academic exercise and should not be used for official purposes. It is not verified nor official. That said, it is a great start for getting emissions data for Ventura, CA as a whole and does give an idea of emissions in Ventura from the included categories.

 

Press Release from Ventura PresentationVentura City Emissions Baseline (2007)

Waxman-Markey Federal Bill to Reduce GHG

In what is predicted to be a very close vote today, the famed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey Bill) is on the floor of the US House of Representatives. The bill as it stands would require a cap and trade system (similar to that used in fighting acid rain) to be implemented nationwide for the largest greenhouse gas emitters. Emissions nationwide would be required to lower 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 from a 2005 baseline. If the house passes the bill, it will likely face an even tougher battle in the Senate, which would require a 60% vote to pass. President Obama announced during his campaign that climate change would be among the most important issues of his administration.

Our project was originally proposed due to the California legislation Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) and anticipated similar federal legislation. Hopefully our work will be useful for communities, newly charged with the task of lowering their greenhouse gas emissions. It is certainly a daunting task but an exciting opportunity. In the midst of an economic recession, these bills should be viewed as a catalyst for a new economy based on sustainability and smart growth. The five of us representing the Bren|AECOM group project look forward to favorable results with the Waxman-Markey bill and the larger steps that eventually follow it.

Read more: Washington Post, Associated Press

Collaboration 2.0

With the many tools available today like Google Docs and DropBox, it is so much easier to work as a group than even four years ago when I started my undergrad degree. This website was built using the open-source Drupal CMS package. It takes some web know-how but Drupal is vastly extendable most needs. Our group needed a contact list, so I created a view to display it in our internal version of this site. Our AECOM contacts suggested a task manager to guide us and track our hours, here it is:



Our Bren|AECOM Task Manager

The point of this post is that it was really fast to get up and running for this project and it is so much more efficient than the old way of simply emailing revisions around. Logistics are out of the way and this project is ready to roll.

Side note: when is Microsoft Word going to store documents on a server and allow simultaneous editing? Also, have you seen OpenOffice.org? It is a free Microsoft Office replacement for Macs, Windows, and Linux.

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