Planned energy storage facility will replace natural-gas power plant


1. Sustainability Problem

Energy: energy demand in cities fluctuates over the course of the day. In west LA, this means that during non-peak hours renewable solar and wind electricity goes unused, while during peak hours the electricity supply is supplemented with extra non-renewable natural gas generation.

2. Technology Article Summary

Will the world’s largest storage battery be America’s energy cure?

by John Fialka
Published 7/7/2016 on E&E Publishing LLC at

  • California’s Public Utilities Commission has set ambitious targets to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2050, and requires utilities to build storage capacity to help meet this goal.
  • The utility for west Los Angeles, Southern California Edison Co. opened bids to replace their “peaker” – the gas-fired power plant that they use to meet peak demand, and selected an offer from battery designer AES Corp., over 1 800 other offers.
  • AES Corp. aim to install a 100 MW power storage facility at Long Beach to store excess electricity generated during off-peak hours and release it back to the grid during peak times. The facility is planned for a 2021 completion and will contain 18 000 battery modules.
  • While this could solve the energy peak problem in the long term, significant energy shortages are still expected over the next five years before the project is finished.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

The planned facility will serve west LA. Stakeholders will include:

  • The utility, Southern California Edison Co.
  • End users of electricity
  • Homeowners with solar panels currently selling electricity to the grid (prices likely to be affected)

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • AES: develop the 100 MW facility by 2021
  • Southern California Edison Co.: connect the storage facility to the distribution grid, and decommission the gas-powered peaker
  • Other utilities in California: identify opportunities for similar systems to replace non-renewable power plants and help meet Public Utilities Commission requirements

See also: for an overview of AES Corp’s successful installation of an energy storage solution for a wind farm in Laurel Mountain, West Virginia




Sustainability Problem

The looming cost and labor crises impact the healthcare industry. 1  From the back office to the doctor’s office, how can we deliver more effective, efficient and affordable healthcare?

Technology Article: Accenture transforms nursing practice with digital technologies and process innovation. 

Source: IDC Health Insights, “Business Strategy: How Third-Party Consultants Helped Unify Communications in a Major U.S. Hospital Organization,” by Sven Lohse, June 2015.


This report describes how Trinity Health (Trinity) and Accenture identified and remedied challenges to hospital communications, to remove impediments to care delivery in terms of both cost and quality. The case study supports enterprise-wide efforts to improve and standardize communications processes, implement business rules to prioritize communications, and make better use of technology tools that manage communications across stakeholder groups.

Failures in communication is among the top three root causes of sentinel events. A typical 500-bed acute care hospital will average an annual economic burden of about $4 million due to wasted communication time.2

Technology that was supposed to be linking people was sometimes creating redundancies, interruptions, and getting in the way of quality care delivery. One clinician might interrupt workflows by responding to every interruption immediately, while another might not respond immediately to any messages, impairing clinical decision-making and team communications.

Uncoordinated communications channels in use included landline and mobile phones, voicemail, text messages (SMS), pagers, email, patient-tracking systems, geo-location technology, digital signage, whiteboards, and even hand-carried notes. As a result, cascades of redundant messages followed clinicians to and from the office by phone, text, voicemail, and pager. Unstandardized, uncoordinated communications caused unnecessary interruptions to workflows, misidentified the priority of specific work-related information, and created negative compensatory behaviors, feedback loops, and process workarounds.

Technology Stakeholders

  1. Trinity Health (hospital)
  2. Doctors
  3. Nurses
  4. Clinicians
  5. Administrators
  6. Patients (residents, tourists, visitors)
  7. Caregivers
  8. Government


Trinity Health worked with Accenture to plan and implement new processes and technology across their healthcare organization.3

  1. Accenture investigated Trinity’s network to explore similarities and differences that might exist in processes, technologies, and organizational cultures between different hospital departments and their associated technology platforms.
  2. Accenture evaluated and benchmarked communications technology and processes, developed a road map to a future strategy and used cases, and advised on technology and process reorganization to achieve Trinity’s organizational goals.
  3. Through situational observation and shadowing of nurses, Accenture studied separate hospital facilities to identify and remove impediments to coordinated communications.
  4. Accenture documented and analyzed the frequency and duration of communications and technology contacts, categorized the different types of contacts, and determined the impacts of these contacts on care delivery.
  5. The resulting data was organized to expose findings related to patient safety and quality of care (e.g., turning and repositioning), hourly rounding, and patient/caregiver experiences, especially in the operating room and intensive care unit.
  6. Clinicians and Accenture observed the wide range of information technologies that were used in uncoordinated way and identified suboptimal practices as contributing factors in the interruption of workflows, degradation of the quality of information being communicated among clinicians, and delays during unit and shift handoffs.
  7. Accenture studies supported enterprise-wide efforts to standardize communications processes, implement business rules to prioritize communications, and make better use of technology tools that manage communications across modalities and stakeholder groups. The key benefits that Accenture and Trinity are working toward include:
    • Optimizing clinical workflows with improvements to cost and quality of care;
    • Improving the quality of hand-offs between units and shifts, with reduction in time lags and interruptions;
    • Streamlining and prioritizing provider workflows;
    • Improving patient/patient caregiver satisfaction ratings.
  8. Trinity is taking steps at the enterprise level to empower local decision makers to streamline stakeholder communications.
  9. The communications priorities of the organization are now under review and reorganization to facilitate better integration of communication needs at centralized and local levels. More business rules and automated technology are implemented to better manage and prioritize communications across modalities.
  10. Trinity integrated technology into their operations and leveraged digital communications into planning for future patient satisfaction initiatives and into the architectural plans for new hospital facilities.

Other References:

  1. Health Care Costs: A Primer, Key Information on Health Care Costs and their Impact, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. May 2012
  1. The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2013 to 2025, American Association of Medical Colleges, March 2015



Smog Sucking Tower

Dan Roosegaarde’s Smog-Sucking Tower Will Clean the Skies of China

by Cat DiStasio, Published 6/29/2016 on inhabitat at

1. Sustainability Problem: Health & Safety / Air quality

Over population and pollution leads to smog in densely populated areas. Smog poses many health and safety risks for humans and the environment. Smog kills about 4,000 people every day in China.

2. Technology: Smog Vacuum

  • 23 foot tall air purifier called Smog Free Tower (the designer also makes Smog Free Jewelry)
  • Sucks up smog from the top like a vacuum, filters the air, and then releases clean air through its six-sided vents
  • Can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air/hour
  • Uses green energy

3. Stakeholders

  • Governments
  • NGOS
  • Health and safety practitioners
  • City residents

4. Deployment

  • Raise awareness
  • Raise funding
  • Convince people that they need smog free towers in their city

Additional Sources:


Home sharing websites and app to help Refugees


A home-sharing or temporary housing website and app for refugees and domestic violence victims.
The EmergencyBnB platform provides refugees and domestic violence victims a free place to sleep and live in temporarily.


Sustainability challenge:

The current refugee crisis is undoubtedly the biggest social tragedy (and problem) our generation is facing. In addition to improving the refugee camps, we also need to find ways to re-integrate them back to society and help provide a home and a lifestyle (and possibly friends).

I remember my grandparents’ friends and some professors at Columbia recall their World War II refugee stories. All stories had a couple things in common – adverse and undesirable conditions (in Europe), and harboring refugees. Back then, for some reason, it was easier to trust the victims and welcome them into small family home. Today, the same thought may seem farfetched to some.

Using the AirBnB technology concept and applying that to help provide a temporary home to the victims could help solve this super wicked problem.


  • Urban dwellers that have a spare room in their home, and have access to the internet
  • Governments
  • International NGOs
  • Refugees and domestic violence victims
  • Website and application developer/company
  • Society at large

Process of implementation:

Currently the EmergencyBnB website has not gained enough traction. It has been the founder and a few other citizens that have contributed to housing refugees. However, with a few technological, security and marketing improvements, this concept could possibly be successful.

The process sounds simple: the refugees that need temporary accommodation in a foreign city/country can find accommodation by creating an account online. With a few reviews or government recommendations, security concerns can be eliminated. Once the host family has been finalized, the guests can move in and find comfort and possibly friendship in a new country.

Denmark has implemented several “buddy” programs to help integrate refugees better into their society. If several NGOs in Denmark have been running the Let’s Ride project (Website: successfully since 2006, I am sure implementing a technology solution for the refugee housing crisis will work too.

Current EmergencyBnB seems like a great, interactive and easy to use platform, however, it needs to be marketed effectively to truly drive the impact. It also need a few more security upgrades and support from international NGOs.


(Image above is a screenshot of the website EmergencyBnB)

Innovative Way to Store Energy

  1. Sustainability Problem

Energy: Complying with energy demands can be a problem with solar or wind power sources. For example, wind blows at unpredictable times and sunshine can vary greatly due to weather and season. Thus, energy generation by these renewable sources cannot always match with fluctuating energy demands.  It is why energy storage of these renewable energy sources is needed.

  1. Technology

Article:  LightSail Energy — The Key to Grid Scale Wind and Solar Power?

by Lih-Hann Chiu

  • LightSail energy allows energy to be stored into tanks of compressed air packed in the form of common shipping container form
  • The containers can be stacked to create large reservoirs of stored excess energy from wind and solar power sources when energy demand is low
  • The stored energy can be converted back to electricity when demand increases
  • LightSail’s compressed air batteries are cheap, safe, long-lasting, and scalable


  1. Organizational Stakeholders
  • LightSail Energy Inc.
  • Investors
  • Wind and Solar Power Industry
  • Municipality of existing grid infrastructure


  1. Implementation
  • Founded in 2008 LightSail has acquired $58 million in funding from Investors for further research and testing
  • LightSail is currently in the process of conducting field tests throughout North America and later in Europe
  • It is one year away from being commercial




  • Technology:

Not all technologies need to be man-made. Nature offers incredible technologies and sustainable solutions which can be leveraged to meet our needs at the same time respect the planet we live in. Biodegradable plastics are made from all natural plant-materials that decomposes naturally in our environment. These include corn oil, orange peels, starch, plants like hemp.

  • Problem:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris mostly plastic. This patch is twice the size of Texas, 7 M tons of weight and 9 feet deep. 7 B pounds of non-recyclable are produced annually with only 7% being recycled. 80% of the plastic originates from land that ends up in the ocean. No other species in our planet ravage our environment as humans do.

  • Stakeholders:
    • Consumers, Institutions, Commercial Enterprises around the world
    • Manufacturers
    • Governments
  • Implementation:
  1. Incorporate environmental integrity into product development
  2. Educate, encourage consumers to be environmentally responsible
  3. Consciously research, identify, develop and incorporate bio-degradable natural materials to substitute regular, synthetic plastics Ex. Coke Plant Bottle


New technique turns common plastic waste into fuel

Problem: Synthetic plastics are used to produce food containers, because these plastics do not to chemicals in food. This turns out to be an issue when these containers go to landfills and do not degrade. There current methods for recycling plastics are energy intensive. The technique in this article and the research is geared towards reducing plastic pollution and in turn creating usable liquid fuel.


  • Utilizes by-products of petrochemical production known as alkanes
  • The chemical process is known as cross-alkane metathesis 
  • Uses about half the amount of energy needed to breakdown plastics


  • Government
  • Wast management/recycling entities

Steps for deploying technology:

  1. Find average cost savings this technology will provide to recycling facilities
  2. Find areas where the fuel can be used in the recycling facilities
  3. Estimate cost of deploying this technology at a recycling facility


Recycled Shower Water


  1. Sustainability Problem: Excessive Household Water Use in Water Scarcity Regions
    1. Water used in showers can be up to 17% of household water use.  More water is dispensed by the shower than is needed to get clean and the water is then removed as waste through the sewage system.  The status quo leads to a) depletion of water in water scarce regions, 2) expensive water and heating costs (to heat the water) for the property owner and 3) waste water can contribute to overloaded sewage systems.
  2. Solution: OrbSys Showers
    1. OrbSys showers recycle the water used during each shower, at the end of the shower, the water from that session is discarded as regular wastewater.
    2. By recycling water in the shower, only 25% of water used during a typical shower will be consumed.
    3. Further, the cost to heat the water will be lower because the recycled water retains its heat and we don’t need to heat the 75% of the typical wastewater that is saved by the new system.
  3. Stakeholders
    1. Regional governments in water scarce regions
    2. Homeowners (although they will become more important stakeholders when the price comes down and the pricing model makes sense for less frequently used showers.  Currently price is probably around $5000.)
    3. Institutional customers that have a high volume of shower use: Spas, hotels, pools, schools, gyms, prisons, colleges, etc
  4. First Three Steps
    1. Market the benefits and business case (annual water and energy costs savings) to institutional users
    2. Invest in R&D to figure out how to lower per unit cost/price to enter the residential homeowner market.
    3. Align product with various govt grant programs for energy saving devices and provide this info to consumers (so that they can purchase the product subsidized if possible).



Green Energy from Human Kinetic Energy


Problem: The Implications of Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy has become synonymous with dirty energy, harming both human health and the environment’s natural resources. For this reason, new forms of renewable energy are becoming more and more widely accepted and implemented.

Technology: POWERleap Harnesses Energy From Foot Steps!” by Jill Fehrenbacher

Introduced in 2007 at Metropolis Magazine’s Next Generation design competition, POWERleap is a floor tiling system that converts wasted energy from human foot traffic into electricity. POWERleap uses what is called piezoelectric technology, which describes the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. This, combined with a highly sophisticated circuitry system, can create electricity. This form of electricity has huge potential, considering there are areas with major foot traffic, like 5th Avenue or even a dance club, both of which could generate large amounts of electricity.



POWERleap engineers/designers

Technological partners


Companies/Buildings that install the technology


In order to implement this technology on a large-scale, a number of investors need to be introduced

Since the technology is still in the beginning stages, it will need to reach out to small-scale partners, for example, schools, gyms, etc. that are looking to implement something like POWERleap in their facilities to promote physical activity and, as an after-thought, electricity.

Create a local (later national) campaign promoting the use of POWERleap in commercial building steps and other large areas.










Self-Healing or “Living” Concrete

The bio-concrete healing itself (Image Courtesy of Delft University)

Imagine if a crack in the pavement miraculously “healed” itself? Prof. Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands spent seven years developing the technology. A pilot program is in place in Ecuador. Last December, researchers assisted farmers with the installation of bio-concrete irrigation canals. The goal is to perfect the technology and expand its use around the globe.

The Technology

  • Bacteria-based solution to fix small cracks; also called bio-concrete
  • Pilot project in Ecuador: built irrigation canals
  • Concrete still most widely used building material due to strength and durability




The Sustainability Problem

  • Cracks in concrete/asphalt lead to leaks and weakened structures
  • Necessitates use of more concrete to repair cracks
  • Concrete has extremely harmful environmental impacts
  • Next to coal-powered electricity, cement manufacture is the next biggest emitter of GHGs
  • Cement manufacture accounts for nearly 5% of annual anthropogenic global CO2
  • Requires intense heating process which is fueled by burning fossil fuels and also breaks down calcium carbonate
  • Every ton of cement produces a ton of CO2
  • Self-healing concrete is a green solution; reduces need for frequent repair/replacement

The Technology Stakeholders

  • Builders and architects
  • Cement and concrete manufactures
  • Real estate project developers
  • Farmers and growers
  • Consumers

Process of Technology Implementation

  • Identify locations with greatest need
  • Monitor results and refine formula if necessary
  • Replicate pilot in multiple locations worldwide
  • Share new technology and best practices

Video: Pilot project in Ecuador