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The following essay briefly discusses transport systems and how the two conserve energy. It further discusses several research outcomes done by several researches based on energy efficiency and the impact that poor energy conservation leads to different environmental factors. The essay discusses the alternative ways that can be used to ensure that there is reduced emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere such as the use of electricity, biomass and fuel. Both resources must be developed aggressively if we are to stabilize and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in our lifetimes. Efficiency is essential to slowing the energy demand growth so that rising clean energy supplies can make deep cuts in fossil fuel use. If energy use grows too fast, renewable energy development will chase a receding target.

Likewise, unless clean energy supplies come online rapidly, slowing demand growth will only begin to reduce total emissions; reducing the carbon content of energy sources is also needed. Any serious vision of a sustainable energy economy thus requires major commitments to both efficiency and renewable. Policies and programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy have generally been pursued on separate tracks. For example, different organizations take the lead on efficiency and renewable energy, and while there are statements of joint support and some coordination, it is could be more coordinated and strategically integrated. With the growth and increasing success of various clean energy industries, groups focused on these technologies have been addressing increasingly diverse agendas.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Energy efficiency simply means the way in which human beings can use reduced amount of energy to provide or produce goods and services. By adopting a more efficient technology or production process can help save energy. Environmental impact is the effect that buildings and transport systems have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions when using energy sources. Some buildings that manufacture and process products produce poisonous emissions containing carbon dioxide that are released to the atmosphere. In a building set up, energy is used in such areas as in insulation, heating and hot water systems, ventilations and in the fuels used. The amount of energy used in buildings varies from building to building. A home is an example of a building and the amount of energy used at home is different from the amount of energy used in a processing plant. Buildings that are energy efficient are the ones that use less amount of energy, save money and protect the environment by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the greatest contributes to global warming.

The way in which people use energy in buildings causes the carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere. There are certain ways in which carbon dioxide can be prevented from being released to the atmosphere. The most recommended way is the use of renewable sources of energy. Other ways are designing of products that can be recycled, not leaving chargers such as those for telephones unattended, and reducing the use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment by companies.

This essay is going to touch on the various ways in which transport systems and buildings use energy efficiently and the impact that this has on the environment. Various researches have also been conducted by various research groups and this will also be discussed.

This is the goal of every building or transport system to expend less energy when carrying out its activities. An energy efficient product is one that uses less energy during its production good example of this is insulating a home. If a good insulating material is used to insulate the home, the heating and cooling bill will not be too high because insulating a home allows the use of less heating and cooling energy. The use of natural sky lights uses less amount of energy to get the same illumination instead of using the traditional incandescent light bulbs. One of the importance of using energy efficiently is to improve the environment and saving on costs that are incurred monthly on the bill due to use of electronics in the building or home.

2.0 ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF TRANSPORT SYSTEMS

In 1992, the UN conference on environment and development agreed development strategies should be developed. The new sustainable development strategy came up with challenges that could hinder them achieve their goal of economic growth by doing away with the environmental and social problems. Some of the challenges that were enlisted were public health, sustainable transport, climate change and clean energy, conservation and management of natural resources, sustainable consumption and production and global poverty and global sustainable development challenges. OECD defined environmentally sustainable transport as transportation that does not endanger public health or ecosystems and meets mobility needs consistent with the use of renewable resources at below their rates of regeneration, and use of non-renewable resources at the rate of development of renewable substitutes.

EU policy for Sustainable Transport includes:  

1. The greening of surface transport: this involves reducing pollution of the environment through noise, using highly developed engines and power trains that do not emit too much carbon to the atmosphere, using alternative fuels for means of transport in particular hydrogen and fuel cells, taking into consideration the energy-efficiency and cost efficiency methods..

2. Co-modality and decongesting transport corridors-this entails the exchange of information between vehicle or vessel and transport infrastructure, cost internalization, and optimization of infrastructure capacity which involves optimal use of modes to encourage energy efficient means of transport.

3. Ensuring that there is sustainable mobility and accessibility to all citizens including the disadvantaged people in the society. This includes innovative organization schemes. This is where the vehicles are clean and safe to use and do not produce too much polluting substances to the environment, the use of high quality means of public transport and rationalization of private transport and communication infrastructure.

4. Improving security and safety in the operation and design of vehicles and infrastructure in the entire transport system.

5. Strengthening competition: this entails the use of improved processes of designs, innovative and cost effective production systems and construction of infrastructure, use of developed and advanced power train and vehicle technologies. This also involves the use of integrative architectures.

The impact of sustainable transport can be defined across social, economic, and environmental dimensions as follows:

  • the economic impact: development of the human capital, its engagement in the creation of wealth by employing people to work in the transportation industry locally, nationally and globally, and the way in which transportation participates in the management of the effects of globalization. .
  • Social impact: improved standards of living due to improved and accessible transport services, improved labour standards and working conditions and the increase in inter-regional trade using low cost transport services hence improving the quality of lives especially those people in the coastal regions.
  • Environmental impact: transport operations affect the environment negatively through environmental degradation due to the carbon emissions released by vehicles and trains, energy consumption and waste production, e.g. leaking oil tanks on soil.

3.0 THE TRANSPORT RESEARCH KNOWLEDGE CENTRE (TRKC)

This is a free database that provides information on the research activities of the European. It focuses on transport and the effects it has on the environment. The aim of this transport policy is to assist in the designing of transport policies that take into account the impact of transport vessels to the environment. The effects on the environment affect the water, air, land and other resources including people. One of the recommendations of the study is the use of alternative fuels and developed vehicle designs to tackle climate change and the impacts of oil depletion. To meet climate change targets, technology and behavioral change will be needed and an integration of these two approaches should be focused on.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) deal with the transport domain and ensures improved system performance of transport vessels, safety in transport efficiency level of service, productivity, energy consumption, environmental impacts and mobility of means of transport. This is usually achieved through combining several communication, computer and control technological development.

According to the International Energy Agency, the use of energy-efficient buildings, transportation and industrial processes could reduce the energy need in the world in 2050 by one third and this could help to control the global emissions of greenhouse gases.

This report shows how key energy terminologies can reduce the release of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide that is responsible for climate change. It further argues that these emissions can be curbed when the world makes use of low energy technologies for generation of electricity and transportation. This includes the use of bio-fuel vehicles and nuclear power.

According to the IEA, another possible way of reducing the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere to about one fifth is by the use of technologies that capture and store the carbon dioxide that is emitted from industrial processes and power stations. According to the report," fast growing developing countries offer opportunities to accelerate technology learning and bring down costs of the technologies.

In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or make them stable, energy efficiency and renewable energy are the twin pillars. There are different synergies between energy efficiency and renewable energy. These are time, economic, geographical and power synergies.

Time synergy-when energy is used efficiently, large savings can be got in the short and medium terms but when pursued aggressively, remaining opportunities will be limited in the long term. Some energy can be supplied by renewable energy in the short term while the opportunities will expand over some period of time. (The Twin pillars if sustainable energy 2007)

Geographic synergies-efficiency and renewable compliment each other in terms of where resources are available regionally. Some regions are richer in renewable than others while efficiency is available across the country. Countries without the renewable get them from the countries with them and this creates a political consensus around the clean energy policy.

The book by Diesendorf puts forward strategies which can aid in implementing the most promising clean "energy" in the government, community and business organizations. This book suggests that Australia is going to have clean energy when it uses efficient energy use methods, renewable sources of energy (sun, wind, and biomass) and natural gas according to Mark, new policies must be developed and implemented by the government, using ecologically sustainable energy technologies that are energy efficient and renewable. The use of natural gas will reduce greenhouse emissions within a decade. (Diesendorf 2007)

4.0 THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE TRANSPORT SYSTEM

The external effects of the transport system are divided into the health and environmental effects. They include:

  • Climate change-this is caused by the release of carbon dioxide to the environment.
  • Acid precipitation-this happens when the pollutant emissions combine with water to form acidic precipitation.
  • Pollutant emissions and road dust on travelers cause respiratory diseases to the travelers.
  • Stress disease-caused by noise and congested traffic.
  • Biodiversity-this is the migration of exotic species. This is caused by climate change which leads to lack of food for the animals and also high temperature due to global warming makes animals migrate or extinction of plants species.
  • The soil quality becomes very poor due to chemical contamination by the acid precipitation and soil erosion caused by sudden rains brought about by climate change.
  • The water quality is also affected due to chemical contamination and loss of natural filters caused by the acid precipitation.
  • Land take-land is taken when roads are being constructed due to the right of way. Parking structures for parking vehicles also consume a lot of land which could be used for other activities such as agriculture.
  • Promoting obesity-due to car dependency, many people have become lazy and do not exercise leading to obesity in the society which is a lifestyle condition.
  • Neighborhood severance-this involves the noise caused by the transport vessels and the traffic volume hinders movement of pedestrians.

A transition that is geared towards a sustainable society has the following implications;

The transport system has to be cleaner, reduce its material requirements, produce sufficiently and should not have many socially adverse effects.

The transport system should function in such a way that it will not affect other sectors of the society

It should produce minimal amounts of air pollutants and greenhouse gases as they have a negative impact on the local and global environment.

It should have an improved security on energy supply through reducing importation of fossil fuels.

Maximize  of the transport system efficiency and reducing congestion on roads

People will always seek the energy source that costs the least. The reason why many people use petroleum-derived fuels is because of how simply they can be stored and used efficiently in the internal combustion engine of the vehicle. Other fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane and methanol can be used as fuel but the only disadvantage is that they require a more complicated storage system. These alternative fuels can not be used in large scale because of the large capital investments required and they have a low efficiency than gasoline because of the high density and will therefore require a greater volume of on-board storage. (Perrels 2008) Fuels in non-crude oil resources are drawing attention and people are conspiring to use them because of the increasing petroleum costs, oil reserves and to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants the atmosphere. The once that are being considered are:

  • Biogas -include ethanol, biodiesel, and methanol. They can be produced from the fermentation of wood waste and food crops. The only disadvantage with biogas is that it requires very large harvesting areas and this leads to competition with other land uses. Biomass, due to its low productivity does not meet the needs of the transportation sector. The choice of biomass fuel largely depends on the energy efficiency and sustainability of the production process.
  • Hydrogen-this is mostly referred to as the energy source of the future. The process of using hydrogen as a fuel involves: producing hydrogen from water by the process of electrolysis or from hydrocarbons, converting the hydrogen into a liquid form, storing it on on-board vehicle, and using fuel cell in the generation of electricity. Hydrogen fuel cells generate very small amounts of pollutants. The only problem with hydrogen is that during its production, transfer and storage, a lot of energy is wasted. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are not cost effective and very dense.
  • Electricity- is being as an alternative source of energy to petroleum fuels. It is cheaper and easier to produce than fuel-cell vehicle. The only barrier to the development of electric cars is the lack of storage systems that can provide driving ranges and speed that can be compared to other vehicles.
  • Hybrid vehicles-consists of an internal combustion system with an electric motor and batteries. In a case where the battery is discharged, the engine starts automatically without the driver's intervention.

The diffusion of non fossil fuels in the transportation sector has serious limitations. As a result, the price of oil will certainly continue to increase as more expensive fuel-recovery technologies will have to be utilized with soaring demand for gasoline. But high oil prices are inflationary leading to recession in economic activity and the search for alternative source of energy. Already, the peaking of conventional oil production is leading to the implementation of coal derived oil projects. Coal liquefaction technology allows the transformation of coal into refined oil after a series of processes in an environment of high temperature and high pressure. While the cost-effectiveness of this technique as yet to be demonstrated, coal liquefaction is an important measure in the implementation of transportation fuel strategies in coal-rich countries, such as China and South Africa. (Hebden 2006)

The cost that is incurred in the alternative energy sources is higher in the transportation sector than in other economic activities. Green building also known as green construction or sustainable building refers to a structure of using process that is environmental friendly. Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation

Green building does not specifically address the issue of the retrofitting existing homes.

5.1 Goals of green building

Green building is a sustainable development which addresses the energy crisis and tends to eradicate the pollution of the environment. We have a number of motives to green building which includes environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, modern sustainability initiatives call for an integrated and synergistic design to both new construction and in the retrofitting of an existing structure. This approach integrates the building life-cycle with each green practice employed with a design-purpose to create a synergy amongst the practices used.

Green building brings together a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of new buildings on the environment and human health. Many other techniques, such as using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water, are used as well. (Gevorcian 2007)

Green buildings often include measures to reduce energy use. To increase the efficiency of the energy is often implemented in low-energy homes. Power generation is generally the most expensive feature to add to a building. The Energy board regulates the production of energy and provides security to the consumers. The power consumption board also distributes the power generated from the power plant in a centralized place. The energy is transmitted to the customers through the power lines. Energy can be produced efficiently from local generating plant, renewable sources, wind, solar and geothermal. Energy is distributed in power grid to building resiliency to natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Conclusion

Based on the above research, it is very important for buildings and transport systems to conserve energy because it is not only save on cost it also saves energy. Due to the negative affects that impact the environment when energy is not conserved, it is very important that the greenhouse gases are prevented from being released to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide if released to the atmosphere leads to the destruction of the ozone layer that leads to global warming. Global warming leads to increased amount of heat and if the ozone layer is completely destroyed the world will become a desert entirely. The use of the above discussed alternative sources of energy should be used to prevent the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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