Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will Efficiency Lead to More Consumption?

In the polarized realm of climate and energy politics, energy efficiency has always been the common ground. The concept is so attractive—we clearly waste far too much of our energy, whether that means driving a car with that gets low gas-mileage or living in a poorly insulated house. Here's what Evan Mills, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said about the Journal paper:

More is not always better. For rich and poor alike, the sky (i.e., a burning sun in every living room) is not the limit for lighting demand. Illuminating engineering societies around the world have actually been reducing their lighting-level recommendations for many years running, as overzealous guidelines have been seen to create excessive glare and other problems. Even granting some pent-up demand for more lumens, LEDs can save energy because their light can be more precisely directed to end-use needs and more easily controlled.

James Demmel Receives 2010 IEEE Computer Society Sidney Fernbach Award

James W. Demmel has been named the recipient of the 2010 IEEE Computer Society Sidney Fernbach Award for his contributions to high-performance linear algebra software. Demmel is a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Dr. Richard Carl Dehmel Distinguished Professorship of Engineering. He is the founding chair of the graduate group in Computational Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, which includes 117 participating faculty from 22 departments. Demmel also has a joint appointment as a member of the Future Technologies Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Philadelphia Innovation Cluster Seen as "Key to Future"

The sentiments weren't lost on the other dignitaries, academics, industry leaders, and cleantechies gathered in a tented area on the pier of the Navy Yard's Cruise Ship Terminal to celebrate the launch of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC). The Secretary confessed that he would have liked the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory win the bid, where he worked prior to becoming the 12th US Secretary of Energy. "But the fact that two of my former grad students are at Penn State makes up for the fact that they didn't get it," Chu quipped. More>

Friday, September 24, 2010

UC Berkeley's Shuttle Transit Program Could Be Outsourced

UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation is looking to outsource its outdated shuttle transit program and is currently evaluating six outside vendors that would take over the shuttle services the system currently provides. In January, the campus outsourced Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory bus services to Fairfield-based MV Transportation Inc., resulting in the reassignment of the lab's 13 bus drivers to other positions at the same level of pay. More>

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Protein Crystallization Seen in Real Time

A team of investigators from the Molecular Foundry announce that atomic force mciroscopy can now be used to determine how a certain class of proteins promotes the development of crystals in cell-like environments. The work focused on analyzing surface-layer (S-layer) proteins, which are the primary point of contact between Bacteria, extremophiles and other types of microbes, and their environments.These molecules assemble in such a manner that they create a crystalline envelope around cells, which protect them from attacks, but also act as an interface for the microorganisms.Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), the researchers who led the new work saw in real time how this special type of proteins assembled into the crystalline structure. The proteins were in a cell-like environment. The work was carried out at the Foundry, which is a nanoscience user facility at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). More>

Office of Diversity gets new name, new director

Kamala Green joined ASU Sept. 20 as the Senior Director of the Office of Equity & Inclusion. Green, who has approximately 15 years of management experience, spent the last 11 years at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California, where she was an active member of the Lab’s Human Resources Leadership team and most recently served as Senior Manager, Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action. LBNL, a public organization with approximately 3800 employees, students, faculty and guests, is funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and managed by the University of California. More>

IBM Breakthrough Advances Nanotechnology Research

IBM scientists can now measure how long information can stay in an individual atom, getting one step closer to the goal of computing at the atomic level. "This technique developed by the IBM Research team is a very important new capability for characterizing small structures and understanding what is happening at fast time scales," Michael Crommie, a faculty researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, said in a statement. "I am particularly excited by the possibility of generalizing it to other systems, such as photovoltaics, where a combination of high spatial and time resolution will help us to better understand various nanoscale processes important for solar energy, including light absorption and separation of charge." More>

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lawrence Berkeley Lab to Alter Staff Security

The UC Board of Regents voted Wednesday to modify Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's security procedures for increased access to classified information under the lab's contract with the federal Department of Energy, in order to comply with changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation System. The lab will alter the security clearance of the laboratory director and other staff members, allowing these employees to receive information and attend classified meetings at other federally-contracted facilities, though Berkeley Lab will not be changing clearance methods on their own sites. More>

Berkeleyside Berkeley sunset Lawrence Berkeley Lab seeks second campus

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory seems to Berkeleyans to sprawl over the hills above the university. But with only 200 acres, the lab finds itself pressed for space. Most of the 4,200 employees are on the site in the Berkeley hills, but about 20% are at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland or the Life Sciences Division in West Berkeley. LBL plans to issue a Request for Proposals for a full second campus for the lab, which would consolidate the minor sites and provide room for expansion. The new site will be within 20 minutes of the main campus in the hills, which means it could be anywhere from Richmond in the north to Alameda in the south. The only certain site to be evaluated is the Richmond Field Station, which is owned by the University of California, which operates the lab under contract from the Department of Energy. More>

Bacteria in the gulf mostly digested gas, not oil, study finds

Bacteria that attacked the plumes of oil and gas resulting from the Deepwater Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico mainly digested natural gas spewing from the wellhead propane, ethane and butane rather than oil, according to a study published in the journal Science. But Terry Hazen, head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's ecology department and lead author of another August paper in Science that documented growth of hydrocarbon-eating bacteria in the deep-sea plume and suggested microbes could consume much of the oil, said that "the three papers are complementary. All show different pieces of the puzzle." More>

Science and the Gulf

After months of confusion and contradictory reports, the Obama administration has at last embarked on a systematic effort involving some of the nation’s top scientists to measure the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on marine life. An interim report could be ready in several months. Then came the famous now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t oil plume controversy. Woods Hole scientists, in a report published Aug. 19 by the journal Science, claimed to have found a 22-mile-long underwater oil plume near the leaking wellhead. Less than a week later, in the same magazine, another report by a team from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a laboratory supported by the federal Energy Department, said the plume had been pretty much devoured by oil-eating microbes and largely disappeared. More>

Mathematicians awarded prizes for work on fluid mechanics, interface dynamics

The world's largest applied mathematics society, the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM), has awarded two of its five quadrennial prizes to two University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) mathematicians.

Alexandre J. Chorin, University Professor of Mathematics and a senior scientist in LBNL's Mathematics Group, will be honored with the 2011 Lagrange Prize, established "to provide international recognition to individual mathematicians who have made an exceptional contribution to applied mathematics throughout their career."

James A. Sethian, professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley and head of LBNL's Mathematics Group, will receive the 2011 Pioneer Prize "for pioneering work introducing applied mathematical methods and scientific computing techniques to an industrial problem area or a new scientific field of applications."

More>


Sliding Toward Climate Catastrophe

Things are, however, getting worse faster than previously imagined. Currently, governments talk about stabilizing global average temperatures below 2C, at an atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million (ppm). But according to Dr James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the upper limit for a safe climate is far lower, at around 350 ppm. The problem is that even 350 ppm could be far too conservative. Professor John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, warns that a safe level of emissions is more likely between 280 and 300 ppm. With the earth already beyond 300 ppm, we are heading for a minimum rise of 2C this century. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley project that at current rates of fossil fuel emissions, we are set to reach temperature rises of up to 8C within 90 years. More>

Lawrence Berkeley Labs Seeks Annex Site

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wants to consolidate the space it uses outside the main labs. Officials say the current satellite locations are too spread out for researchers to manage team efforts, so they're putting out a request for proposals for an annex site near the main lab. More>

Monday, September 20, 2010

New pi record exploits Yahoo's computers

A Yahoo researcher has made a record-breaking calculation of the digits of pi using his company's computers. The feat comes hot on the heels of a breakthrough Rubik's cube result that used Google's computers. Together, the results highlight the growing power of internet search giants to make mathematical breakthroughs. Calculations of pi are especially suited to distributed computing because they are easily broken into smaller parts, says David Bailey of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which is setting up cloud-computing facilities to run such problems. More>

White roofs cool energy bills

Herb Van Gent points his infrared gun at a square of still-unpainted gray shingle and clicks the trigger. He gets an immediate temperature reading: 143 degrees and rising. Then he aims it five feet away to a square of roof I have just painted: 98 degrees and decreasing. "A 45-degree difference and we're only on the first coat," he says. That means it also will be cooler inside the building, saving energy, he says. The idea of painting roofs white is catching on across the country; Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said it could help in the fight against global warming. According to Berkeley Lab's Art Rosenfeld, an average, 1,000-square-foot roof painted white can save 10 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of emissions from one car for about 2 1/2 years. On a national scale, turning roofs cool could eliminate 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, about the same as taking 20 million cars off the road for 20 years, according to Rosenfeld, who carried out his experiments with Hashem Akbari at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. More>

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are Batteries Bad for the Environment?

The wireless world we live in runs on batteries. But are we paying a high environmental price for all of this battery-operated convenience? “We take into account environmental impact because there is, to a significant degree, a battery recycling industry out there, [and] there are now conferences that deal with nothing but environmental impact and recycling of used batteries,” said Berkeley Lab's Elton Cairns. Cairns points to the success of recycling programs in the automotive battery industry. Lead-acid car batteries are one of the most commonly recycled rechargeables, which has not only kept lead out of the waste stream but also reduced the demand for lead mining since around 80 percent of the lead in the new car batteries is a recycling byproduct. It just depends on consumers taking initiative and getting them to the appropriate battery recycling drop-off sites. More>

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gulf May Avoid Direst Predictions After Oil Spill

How much damage resulted from almost five million barrels of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico is still being toted up in laboratories and government offices. More recent findings, by Department of Energy scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, suggest that the plume has already largely dispersed or degraded, though other scientists vigorously dispute that claim. Terry Hazen, a microbiologist and the head of the ecology department at the laboratory, said oxygen levels may have remained high because the droplets in the plume were so diffuse. Hazen said a small part of him was disappointed that the plume had become undetectable, because it could no longer be studied. “But that’s just the scientist in me,” he said. “The ecologist and environmentalist is glad that it’s gone — it was an ecological disaster.” More>

Berkeley Lab taps deputy director

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory named Horst Simon its deputy director. Jay Keasling, the former deputy director, will keep running the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Paul Alivisatos, the lab’s director since Steven Chu left for Washington, D.C., as Secretary of Energy, will be Simon’s boss. Simon was associate lab director for computing sciences before this job. He also has a job as engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, just down the hill from Berkeley Lab. He started work at Berkeley Lab in 1996 as director of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. More>



Monday, September 13, 2010

Artificial "Skin" Materials Can Sense Pressure

New artificial "skin" fashioned out of flexible semiconductor materials can sense touch, making it possible to create robots with a grip delicate enough to hold an egg, yet strong enough to grasp the frying pan, U.S. researchers said on Sunday. Scientists have long struggled with a way to make robotic devices capable of adjusting the amount of force needed to hold and use different objects. The pressure-sensitive materials are designed to overcome that challenge. "Humans generally know how to hold a fragile egg without breaking it," said Berkeley Lab's Ali Javey, who led one of two teams reporting on artificial skin discoveries in the journal Nature Materials. More>

Thousands of green energy jobs under threat from end of US grant

The program is meeting its goal of jumpstarting new renewable projects, according to a preliminary assessment of the program released in April by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The report estimated that in 2009, the program spurred development of more than 2,400 megawatts of wind power that would not have otherwise been built, which resulted in more than 55,000 short- and long-term jobs being created. More>

Energy experts convene Oct. 1-2 to discuss pathways to a sustainable energy future

Can we emulate the ability of green plants to harness solar energy? Can we create intelligent materials, buildings and even entire communities that generate their own energy? Will a price on greenhouse gases reduce emissions? Can the technology that produced an inexpensive anti-malaria drug also be used to extract fuel from agricultural waste? An international all-star lineup of experts in solar and biofuel energy, climate science, urban design and other areas of research critical to sustainable energy technologies will gather in Berkeley for a public symposium Oct. 1-2 to answer these and other pressing questions. The goal is to lay out the best course of action for a clean, green energy future. More>

Fungus Genes Help Turn Grass into Ethanol

Genes copied from a common fungus could simplify the production of ethanol from abundant materials such as grass and wood chips, a development that could one day help ethanol compete with gasoline. Scientists have taken genes from a fungus that grows on grass and dead plants, and transplanted them into yeast that is already used to turn sugar into ethanol. The genes let the yeast ferment parts of plants that it normally can't digest, potentially streamlining the production of ethanol. "It's just a more efficient process," says Berkeley Lab's Jamie Cate "Shaving off every dime that you can could make it compete with oil," says Cate, who led the work. More>

Robots Have Feelings, Too, With New 'E-Skin'

A robot with a sensitive touch may sound more like a bizarre encounter on second life than the future of biotech. But it turns out that robots may one day have feelings, after engineers at the University of California, Berkeley invented a new artificial “e-skin”. The “e-skin” comprises of a matrix of nanowires made from germanium and silicon rolled onto a sticky polyimide film. The team of researchers — which includes Berkeley Lab's Ali Javey — then laid nano-scale transistors on top, followed by a flexible, pressure-sensitive rubber. Operating under low voltages, the prototype can detect pressure ranging from 0 to 15 kilopascals, comparable to the force used to do daily tasks like washing the dishes or even making a sandwich. More>

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Feds Announce $40 Million for Carbon Capture Research

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced Wednesday that the federal government will spend up to $40 million to create models for how carbon from power plant emissions could be stored underground. The National Energy Technology Laboratory and NETL’s Regional University Alliance (Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University, University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and WVU) are partnering with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab and Lawrence Livermore National Lab to develop CCS simulation tools. More>

Researchers expand yeast's sugary diet to include plant fiber

University of California, Berkeley, researchers have taken genes from grass-eating fungi and stuffed them into yeast, creating strains that produce alcohol from tough plant material – cellulose – that normal yeast can't digest. The feat could be a boon for the biofuels industry, which is struggling to make cellulosic ethanol – ethanol from plant fiber, not just cornstarch or sugar – economically feasible. "By adding these genes to yeast, we have created strains that grow better on plant material than does wild yeast, which eats only glucose or sucrose," said Jamie Cate, UC Berkeley associate professor of molecular and cell biology and faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

CRISPR critters: Scientists identify key enzyme in microbial immune system

Through the combination of CRISPR and squads of CRISPR-associated – “Cas” – proteins, microbes are able to utilize small customized RNA molecules to silence critical portions of an invader’s genetic message and acquire immunity from similar invasions in the future. To better understand how this microbial immune system works, scientists have needed to know more about how CRISPR’s customized small RNA molecules get produced. Answers have now been provided by a team of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. More>

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New structures serve science

With major funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has built new lab space for battery researchers and scientists who investigate “metamaterials,” upgraded an aging transformer bank that supplied electricity to the entire site, and constructed a modern facility to support thousands of scientists who visit the laboratory each year to conduct cutting-edge experiments on all manner of matter. More>

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nano light mill motor controlled by wavelength changes

A newly developed light mill could lead to a whole new crop of nanoscale devices, including nanoscale solar light harvesters, nanoelectromechanical systems, and nanobots that could manipulate DNA and other biological molecules in vivo. Researchers with the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have created the first nano-size light mill motor whose rotational speed and direction can be controlled by tuning the frequency of the incident light waves. More>

Oxygen drops near BP spill but no "dead zone"

Hungry microbes feasting on spilled BP oil caused a drop in oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico, but did not create a marine "dead zone" near the wellhead, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday. The NOAA findings are in line with research presented by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Upcoming Regents Meeting

The UC Board of Regents will convene for a three-day meeting at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus next Tuesday to discuss topics ranging from diversity at the UC's 10 campuses to the state of the system's pension program, which a recent report stated is on the road to financial insolvency. The Committee on the Oversight of the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories will vote to modify the university's contract with the department to operate the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, following changes to federal acquisition regulations. More>

Berkeley Lab building to open early, saving $500,000

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will open a new building at its Advanced Light Source accelerator this month -- three months ahead of schedule. This building replaces aging World War II office space where visiting ALS scientists had to work. It cost $35 million to build, with $14.7 million of that coming from government stimulus funds. More>

Alameda Point hopes to attract Berkeley lab campus

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is looking for more space, and Alameda Point could be in the running for its second campus. The city of Alameda hosted a visit of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff recently and then sent a letter in late August to thank the group for visiting Alameda Point and to share details about several airplane hangars on the former naval air station, the amount of energy that can be supplied to the area and other information. Now, Alameda officials have to sit tight and hope that the city gets asked to submit a formal proposal for the lab's second campus. City staff members expect other nearby cities, such as Emeryville and Richmond, to be potential rivals. More>

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Facility May Be Ahead for Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which employs some 4,000 employees and conducts research on everything from DNA to climate change, may soon be looking for land to build a new facility. The lab is in the early planning stages to consolidate its facilities - 20 percent of which are located outside the city of Berkeley, including sites in Emeryville, Oakland and Walnut Creek - into a new "second campus" somewhere in the East Bay, according to Sam Chapman, manager of state and community relations for the lab. More>

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Start-up company aims to harness the full potential of producing electricity from waste heat

Alphabet Energy's strength lies in its recent development of a thermoelectric chip that can be inserted into a wide variety of exhaust flues, engines, or other heat-producing devices to convert the waste heat into electricity. As heat essentially pushes electrons through the material, the device can be connected to the grid to feed in the electricity in real time. As the company explains, the device's key advantage is the novel material - a relatively abundant, low-cost material that has been modified by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to lower its and increase its electricity output using a smaller amount of heat. Another advantage is that the thermoelectric chip is produced using similar methods used for producing the microchips used in electronic devices, which should lower production costs. More>

Alameda Point hopes to attract Berkeley lab campus

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is looking for more space, and Alameda Point could be in the running for its second campus. The city of Alameda hosted a visit of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory staff recently and then sent a letter in late August to thank the group for visiting Alameda Point and to share details about several airplane hangars on the former naval air station, the amount of energy that can be supplied to the area and other information. More>

QB3 researchers illuminate operation of molecular gateway to the cell nucleus

QB3 biophysicists — including Jan Liphardt of Berkeley Lab — have traced with unprecedented resolution the paths of cargos moving through the nuclear pore complex (NPC), a selective nanoscale aperture that controls access to the cell’s nucleus, and answered several key questions about its function. The NPC, a large protein assembly shaped like a basketball net fringed with tentacles, is the gateway to the cell nucleus, where genetic information is stored. Each cell nucleus contains roughly 2,000 NPCs, embedded in the nuclear envelope. The NPC (which is about 50 nanometers wide) is responsible for all transport into and out of the nucleus. To prevent the contents of the rest of the cell’s interior from mixing with that of the nucleus, the NPC discriminates between cargos with great precision. More>

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

IceCube Neutrino Observatory Nears Completion

In December 2010, IceCube -- the world's first kilometer-scale neutrino observatory, which is located beneath the Antarctic ice -- will finally be completed after two decades of planning. In an article in the AIP's Review of Scientific Instruments, Francis Halzen, the principal investigator of the IceCube project, and his colleague Spencer Klein of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provide a comprehensive description of the observatory, its instrumentation, and its scientific mission -- including its most publicized goal: finding the sources of cosmic rays. More>

Investing in Wind Power Is Smart — But Not How We’re Doing It

You’re probably a fan of wind power. It provides a limitless supply of clean energy. The turbines are manufactured primarily in the rust belt, creating much-ballyhooed green jobs for unemployed factory workers. Wind farms generate profits for local utilities, alternative energy companies, farmers, and ranchers, not to mention manufacturers like General Electric. What’s not to like? Only about half of the cash flow generated by a typical wind farm comes from selling electricity; the rest comes out of government coffers. And government subsidies keep the turbines spinning relentlessly whether they are needed or not. Along with a federal production tax credit of about $20 per megawatt-hour based on after-tax income, state-based renewable energy credits provide $5 to $50 per megawatt-hour to generators, according to analysts at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More>

Congress, Don't Send the U.S. Solar Industry on an Extended Vacation

It's that time of year when many Americans are just returning from a summer vacation.During their travels, most of those vacationers probably passed by some of the many solar projects, large and small, being installed across the country. However, they probably didn't know that while they were on holiday, smart policies were at work speeding up deployment of solar projects. From PV farms to solar water heating systems, solar is having a record growth year and is creating stable, well-paying American jobs. One of the main drivers of solar's robust growth has been the Treasury Grant Program (TGP), an initiative created in the Recovery Act which provides a cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit for companies that lack access to private tax equity financing due to the poor economy. Research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the TGP "has provided significant economic value" and more than 40 states have solar projects that were stimulated by the TGP. More>

DOE conducts risk assessment for carbon sequestration

The effectiveness of sequestration storage of CO2 depends greatly on storage permanence. A key goal for DOE’s carbon sequestration research program is at least 99% retention of CO2 in storage reservoirs over a 100-year time period. However, variability in field conditions greatly complicates quantitative predictions of leakage risk. DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is collaborating with other DOE national labs to integrate scientific insight being developed across the carbon sequestration research community, and ensure development of the science base necessary for appropriate risk assessment (including strategic monitoring) to support large-scale underground carbon storage projects. This National Risk Assessment Program (NRAP) is being led by NETL, but includes researchers from the Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. More>

Green Building Solutions Can Be Simple -- and Easy

One silver lining in the dark clouds of our current economic conditions is how people are turning to simple, low-cost measures that can save tons of energy and money. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that typically buildings begin to "drift" in their energy consumption by up to 20 percent even after newly built, if an on-going commissioning process is not implemented. More>

Berkeley scientists’ next green energy alternative: stomach bug to biofuel

A team of local biotech researchers may have found a way to avoid using essential food crops for fuel by genetically modifying harmless strains of a bacteria most people associate with human food poisoning. The result is an extremely expensive fuel — hardly competitive with fossil fuels at $25 per gallon — but marks the beginning of a new look at green energy. Scientists led by Berkeley Lab researcher Jay Keasling created an alternative for biodiesel production harnessing E. coli, the bacteria responsible for foodborne illnesses. A recent study found that E. coli could synthesize production of biodiesel from plant waste, saving the resources — corn, peanut oil, soybean oil or sugar beets — spent on today’s leading “green” fuel, bioethanol. More>