Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bridgman/Packer - The Matrix of Dance

[8pm Discovery Theater tonight (Saturday) tickets here or at the box office.]

Last night we saw Bridgman/Packer perform in Anchorage.  We'd seen Under the Skin - their first piece Friday - here three years ago.  But I'd forgotten details.  It was just as amazing as it was the first time as the dancers perform against an audio/video backdrop that blurs the line between live and recorded, real and unreal, and does other tricks on your expectations of dance, art, and even gravity.  This is the Matrix of dance.
Packer, Bridgman, and videographer Bobrow after Friday performance

The second piece, co-commissioned by Anchorage's Out North Theater moves into yet another dimension.  [Look, I feel an obligation to write about this, but I also realize that what they do is so radically different, that there is nothing I can say that can capture it adequately.  Not just different, but amazing and spectacular].  In Under the Skin, there is a lot of video through which the live dancers dance, starting with the opening scene of letters zipping up.  But then previously shot images of the performers dance with the live performers on stage.  And then one more layer gets added - live video of the current performance is layered on top of it all until the audience is wondering which are the real dancers and which are the images.  Though this time around, the projected images were not as saturated as I remember last time, and so the live Bridgman and Packer did stand out from their paler video images.

Here's some video of Art Bridgman working with the lighting crew Wednesday evening for the Friday performance.  Myrna Packer was stretching on stage at the beginning.

But all the technology would just be a gimmick that was neat the first time, but flat once you've seen it, if the ideas behind the choreography and the quality of the dancing weren't first rate.  The precision necessary for them to be at exactly the right spot so that you can see the front of their live body superimposed with the back of the projected image of their back is incredible.

And perhaps I'm biased because the theme that jumps out at me is the theme of this blog - how do you know what you know?  What is real?  What is imagined?  How do the real world and the non-real world interact to lead us to think we know reality and truth?

The second piece - Double Expose - pushes to a whole new level.  A lot of the background images are very real street scenes and architectural settings through which Bridgman and Packer roam as six different characters - prerecorded, live, and as projections of their live performance.

What does it mean when you see the live Art Bridgman on stage dancing against a black background to the side of the stage while the projected image of him dancing is put in context in the video landscape center stage?  He's live on stage, but your eye is drawn to the image which is part of the scenery and where he interacts with a prerecorded, a live, and a live recorded Packer.  Or a prerecorded Bridgman.  What is more real?  What has more meaning?  The live man abstractly dancing against the black backdrop?  Or the image of that man interacting with other images?  And where should I look?  I'm paying money to see a live performance, so why is my eye pulled from the live performer to her image? At one point the lights are behind the performers and their shadow giants are also dancing on the walls of the theater in the audience. 

What does this say about how the human brain constructs its version of reality? 

At one point, their very realistic backgrounds change into fantastically playful fabric patterns, which come to life. [UPDATE 5/1/11: These were done by artist/animator Karen Aqua, who I was told is ill and hasn't seen the performance.  Send her good vibes.]  The colors and images were a total change from the noir feel of most of the realistic backgrounds.  The animation added yet another dimension to the juxtaposition of reality and image of reality.  Why are the filmed street scenes more 'real' than the animated tiger walking in the background?  After all, the filmed street scenes and arches and tunnels are no less humanly created artifacts than are the animated images.

The live performers dancing on the sides of the stage while their images were stage center in the scene interacting with the images of other characters also reminded me of puppeteers being the live animators of their on stage puppets.

I also pondered about how Bridgman/Packer  (I feel that now and then it should be Packer/Bridgman) play with so many different media, yet their performance, ultimately has to be seen live.

As you can see, they've invaded my brain and are rearranging the furniture.  We're going back tonight and will sit in a different location to see how that changes all this.

So, yes.  While there was a nice sized (and incredibly appreciative) audience last night, you can go to the Discovery Theater and get tickets for tonight's performance.  As good as these performers are, they are off the radar.  And when Bridgman/Packer is finally a 'household name' it will be much harder to get to see them.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Should You Drive to a Clean Energy Conference?

I guess if you use an clean energy vehicle

Thursday I took the bus to the conference - I had a kink in my knee and decided not to bike. There was standing room only on the bus coming home!  

Friday I decided to bike and after an unfortunate encounter with a curve, bump, and a muddy spot, I got back on the bike for the rest of the way to the conference.

The Denaina Center bike parking is pretty limited.

I had to park in the overflow parking.  The first tree was full even.

There was one vendor who had bike stuff, but there was no one there, so I can just give you some photos.   

There are lots of great new bike light options, but these  makes it possible to put a light on without any tools.  But there was no one there, so I couldn't ask who sells these in town.  (The first five I found online for the commuter set  were all priced in £s - starting at 24.99.)

Energy Conference - Wind and Hydrokinetic Power

James Jensen -Wind Energy Program Manager, Alaska Energy Authority 

Showing a map of Alaska with ratings for wind in different areas and now a map of the wind projects around the state, which match the areas with the best wind.

Wind Projects in Alaska either Railbelt or Rural

Rural - Wind-diesel systems - if not integrated, probably won't be successful.  In most cases wind primary source of power.  ON the Railbelt, more traditional wind.

 In rural Alaska mostly Utility owned and mostly grant funded.   Cheap projects.  On the railbelt, primarily commercial financing.  Rural many projects, small.  On the Railbelt only a few, larger projects. 

Gradual growth until April 06, and then surge in 2009 due to renewable energy fund which is driving the growth of Alaska wind industry now. 

Kodiak is the biggest success story - generating 9% of KEA's energy, reduced diesel based generation by 50%. 
Last ten years gone from no experience to many firms that have built several functioning projects.  AVEC has developed to the point where they have a standard wind-diesel system to offer villages. 

Biggest Opportunity
Displace heating fuel

Brent Petrie, Community Development Manager, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC)

Board of Directors said to reduce diesel use by 25% in 10 years and power plants by 50% in ten years.  [I couldn't keep up with everything here - so here are a few of the slides:]

Monty Worthington, Director of Project Development, Alaska - Ocean Renewable Power Company

Alaskans have used fishwheels for a long time. 

River hydrokinetic projects - not just Outsiders, but also Alaskans doing this. 

First hydrokinetic project installed August 2008.  Debris problems in rivers.   A lot of lessons from the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council's Ruby project. 

AP&T's project at Eagle, Alaska.  Turbine underwater. 

Tanana Power Corps undershot waterwheel design. 

Nenana Hydrokinetic Test Site with University of Alaska.

Only meaningful users of tidal energy now are paddle boarders on the bore tide. 

Steve Selvaggio, Whitestone's Hyrokinetic Development

Sorry, I just couldn't keep up with this.  The link should help.

They are still answering questions now, but I'm going to post this.  I'm afraid it just gives you a glimpse, not much depth.  This was over my head. 

Grease to Bio Diesel - Jeff Jessen of Alaska Waste

Among the vendors I spoke with yesterday at the Business of Clean Energy in Alaska Conference was Jeff Jessen at Alaska Waste.  He talks about the cooking grease to bio diesel project that fuels many of their vehicles and the  project using waste grocery vegetables, wood chips, and horse manure.

Ameresco's Michael Bartlett: How an Energy Savings Peformance Contract Works

Among the vendors at the Business of Clean Energy in Alaska Conference yesterday was Michael Bartlett of Ameresco.  In the video below, he explains how the energy savings performance contract works.  His company works with school districts and other governmental organizations to evaluate their energy usage and design improvements to save energy and costs. They take their payment out over years from the savings.  He said they didn't work with private companies because their payback horizon is usually in months rather than years.

Is he a just a slick salesman or are you inclined to trust him?  I have to say I was impressed with Michael's knowledge and ability to articulate what he does.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Energy from the Waves - Philip Kithil Explains

There are a lot of vendors at the   Business of Clean Energy in Alaska Conference.  Here's one, Philip Kithil of Atmocean, Inc., discussing  the wave technology his company is developing and which he thinks has great potential for small communities on the ocean.  He's planning to test it in Yakutat. 

Jerry Yudelson - "Evangelist for the Obvious" - Energy Conference

This is the lunch talk.  Let me disclose that my media pass for this conference includes lunch.  Margie Bauman of Alaska Newspapers, Inc. won't accept a free lunch.  But as 'just a blogger' my standards aren't that high.  But I'll let you know that I'm getting fed so you can decide for yourself if it's corrupting me.  And since I'm posting this as it's happening, please forgive the typos and lack of better organization.

Yudelson eating before talk

Technical stuff is relatively easy.  My energy now is focused on showing people why this is good business.

Here are the Takeaways:

1.  Global Warming is happening - Green building is important for controlling CO2 production
2.  Green design/development is here to stay
3.  Benefits are signicatnt for all building types
4.  Cost premium is down -  now 2% or lower for large green buildings - for all the benefits, is not a bad deal

What is a green building?
energy efficient
land use and materials
Works better for people
Tested and certified by independent 3rd party
Performance verification - next trend in green building

We have lots of green buildings that don't perform as they should.

Business Case
CBRE/U San Diego
55% said gained in productivity - just the gain of productivity offsets energy costs
45% said fewer sick days - pays back

US is growing - Europe isn't
We're going to rebuild most of our building stock - just by building we make a huge impact

Life cycle postive solutions
Only things where you reduce carbon is building efficiency investments

US Green Building Association is the fastest growing non-profit in the US.
28,000 LEED registered projects
7,000 LEED certified projects
155,000 LEED accredited professionals - way over the number of architects in US.  It means we've got the trained people.  Now need to sell it to business.

This green building is growing during worst building crisis in 30 years.

We need to attack existing buildings, because we only add about 1% of building stock a year.  Economy based on cars.  Not cars and drugs, not manufacturing (that's gone to China), but buildings.   Not just the low hanging fruit, it's the fruit on the floor.

Merchandising Mart - largest US building - and now Empire State Building is going through LEED  refitting.  Replacing all the windows - 100 a night.  You don't have to accept a bad building.  You can remanufacture and reinstall all the windows.  Empire State Building has a five year payback.  $4.4 million a year savings.

First Green Building in Massachusetts - tech company - turnover dropped 5% and that alone paid for the energy upgrade.  People like to be in good buildings.

Co-Star study:  Compared their LEED buildings to non-LEED - $11.33 sf premium and 4% occupancy premium.  And LEED buildings, even in the recession, had a rent and occupancy premium.   Alaska is different, but happening over the US and Europe.  It will happen here too.

Productivity - studies showing 3% increase of productivity in LEED buildings.  1% already pays for the investment.

Here's a bit of video:

Q&A:  Energy storage is big future issue.  California desert now used as military bombing site could be solar farm to energize the US.  And Europeans are looking at Northern Africa for solar.  Once off the coast "there's nothing there." [Well, they say the same about the arctic.  NOT TRUE.  They may well be able to use it reasonably, but there is stuff there that needs to be taken into consideration.]

I feel like an evangelist for the obvious.   [Yes, that's how I feel about all this - it's obvious.]

"We were spending $4 in energy for every soda sold from our vending machines"

The quote above from Coast Guard Commander Steve Raney. See below.
[Notes are pretty rough, but that's the tradeoff for doing this in almost real time.]

Jes. B. Chrisensen,
Managing Director,
Danish Board of District Heating,
Copenhagen, Denmark
"Shaping a Low-Carbon World:  Lessons from Denmark"

1979 - Denmark told all

Waste to energy

Denmark is the only country in the EU that is energy independent.  Very conscious of energy efficiency, lowest energy consumption per capita.  Expensive?  It's an investment, but not expensive in the long run.  We've grown economically since 1980 grown about 70% and kept our energy consumption fixed.  And reduced 02 emissions.

In order to go this way to decentralized solutions, it had to be cost effective.  Business has grown with net reduction in energy consumption.  Doesn't have to be ugly or expensive.

Use less
Recycle what's out there
Replace it with renewables

Smart Grid - not just electricity, including thermal load.  Smart Energy Infrastructure.

This guy is way beyond the previous speakers in terms of the kinds of savings he's talking about.  District energy systems
In Copenhagen, 30% of the heat demand is from Municipal waste.  Paris it's about 50%.  In Iceland they use geothermal.  The best part is that you make money doing this.  Greening the economy will create huge export opportunity.  Less hit by recessions.  And we're still green and competitive.  And we're happy.  (Slide showing Denmark is the happiest nation.)

Juergen Korn
Research & Development Project Manager
Yukon Housing Corporation
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

"The Road to More Efficient Housing in Yukon"

A rough road so far, but we're making headway.  I work in the intersection of Policy, Planning, Good Intentions, and Reality.  I'm passionate about housing.  Not all positive, but a reality check.   We only have 30,000 people in Yukon.  Lots of space and have to rely on each other.
Yukon Housing Corp.

Housing biggest problem in the north.  Mold and moisture big issues.  Mandatory new home certification problem has been a problem.  R2000 issues from past we are still fighting.  We launched our own program - Green Home - provided low interest financing, energy auditing - for existing and new housing.  Federal grants.

Graph of rising energy costs.  Oil going up and people coming to us - what do I do?  I can't afford to heat AND feed kids.  We were worried people would walk away from homes because of heating costs.  Would cause our own housing crisis.  We looked at heating costs of different kinds of homes.  Graph of heating costs of different types of construction.  People in 2x4 and 2x6 home paying $4 - 6,000 a year to heat.  Most effective approach is add good insulation.  Looking at cost of constructing energy efficient housing, increased mortgage cost - $20,000 more - but energy cost way down.

Turns out that better off from day one to put in huge amounts of insulation - energy costs are so much less.  Now homeowners are demanding that we only do super energy efficient houses.  City of Whitehorse is now commited to Energy Bylaw - requirements for insulation, windows, ventilation, etc.  City has lack of inspection resources.  Work with them to develop checklists and train inspectors so that no moisture problems in highly insulated houses.

Lessons Learned
1.  Tremendous economic opportunities for energy efficient homes
2.  Time is running out.  Feel great urgency.

Steve Raney
Commanding Officer
US Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit

"Powering Forward:  Coast Guard Strategies for Energy Security"

[What I got out of this once more - we waste a ton of energy and there are lots of easy ways to make buildings and cities way more efficient and save lots of energy.]

Federal Mandates Coast Guard must meet.
Advanced metering.  First just electricity, but other sources now.
Obama - EO 13514 -  Got attention of Senior Officers
Apoint Sr. Sustainability Officer,
Strategic SustainabilityPlans,
Operational Sustainability Plans
Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Reduction Goals

2007 - moved to Honolulu - reduced consumption by 14%, but because of increasing fuel prices, costs still increased 28%.  Water costs up 250%

Demand Response:  We'd disconnect four ship when grid was in trouble.  Incentivized us 25% and only one event, so great deal for us.  Since then more incidents.

Relamping of ships and delamping.  Efficiency.  Replace lighting in boat house, cut power needs in half and got better lighting.  Reduced power requirements by 80%.  I'm sure those numbers are right.  Used saved money for training  - vending and water conservation.  Put data on vending machines.  We were spending $4 in energy for every soda we sold.  Got rid of underutilized machines, delamped them.  Saved $10K a year just on vending machines in one base in Honolulu.
Water savings in shower heads.

Persistence in savings.  Retro Commissioning.  14 contracts, $100 million invested.  Kodiak, $26million invested.  Heating plant system - optimization of boiler.  Residential housing boiler replaced.  Water treatment plant.  Finished before sedimentation issue and could survive that contamination problem.  Performance contracts underway. 

QA:  From Alaskan Housing person:  We have infrastructure of Yukon and would like the cogeneration of Denmark.  How do we do cogen.
Christensen:  We went from very centralized to decentralized.  We calculate you can go down to 200 single family homes.  You don't need the dense, highly populated system.  That's our experience, can't say it will work here.  Went from 30% market share to 60% market share, because government mandated efficiency levels.  We did make mistakes.  Installed in places where they shouldn't have been installed.  Very important to include building codes. 

Clean Energy Conference 2011 - Designing for Energy Efficiency and the Bottom Line

[Double click any picture to enlarge it]

David Johnson, West Coast Director, William McDonough + Partners, San Francisco
I had trouble tracking all this.  The room is too bright to see the slides well.  He basically talked about a couple of his projects - a NASA building in Mt. View California and a Bosch building in Holland and in general terms the need to use energy and material sustainably.  Much of this is, it seems, chronicled in a book called Cradle to Cradle.

As affliuence grows, your energy footprint increases.  What energy footprint, what if the world consumed as the people in Alaska.

Book Cradle to Cradle

Biological nutrient vs. Technical nutrients = is it composable, where does it go?  As architect, planner, look at what happens to materials in buildings.  If we start with LEAD checkbooks.  If all were in LEAD platinum, we'd be in trouble.  How can you plan for a platform of continuous quality improvement.
Over time, decreasing use of fossil fuels and increasing renewable resources.
Want to define beneficial outcome, not just reducing the bad.

Efficient building - NASA - keep all the trees.  Locate building to get most efficient environment - optimized for wind and sun, retain existing landscape.  All office is passive ventilation.

[My notes here on Kim Matsoukas, Sustainability Manager at Bentley Prince Street, Industry, California got wiped out.  Sorry.  Her talk was on Energy Efficiency as a Corporate Mission outlined how her company had invested in and saved from energy efficiency in California where energy is also costly.  They aren't worried about greenhouse gas regulations because they have already reduced their footprint.]

[UPDATE 11:30pm:  I found some of my notes from this presentation. 

Kim Matsoukas, Sustainability Manager, Bentley Prince Street, Industry, California.  She's talking about Ray, the founder of Prince Street, as background for her talk.

Our mission is Mission Zero.  Goal since 1994.  Thought we could do it by 2000, Wasn't possible, now by 2020.  We have seven principles:

Eliminate Waste
Benign Emissions
Renewable energy
Closed Loop
Integrated sustainability
Redesigned Commerce

Our approach:

1  Measure energy use and GHGs both facility-wide and by total product footprint (including suppliers)
2.  Look for conservation opportunities
3.  Look for energy efficiency opportunities - change lightbulbs, upgrade equipment to be more efficient
4.  Use renewable energy
5.  Offset unavoidable emissions
6.  Educate our associates, customers, and suppliers - life-cycle principles means it happens before it gets to our doors.

There was a lot more. . . ]

Rob Pratt, Chair and CEO of Greener U, Waltham, MA.
Keys to Using Energy Efficiency as an Economic Stimulus.

What I wanted to do with Greener U was show that Colleges and Universities could reduce energy consumption - you have students pushing, presidents' commitments, etc.  Help colleges implement large scale efficiency programs.  Mechanical equipment side together with people.  It's all about people.  Student engagement.  Colleges are doing phenomenal things.  Reducing carbon footprint by 25% - goals much higher.  Could do the same here.

60-70% cheaper
Creates Homegrown jobs
It's everywhere - all organizations and buildings
National Security - reduce energy use, not sending $ overseas

Building Blocks
Big Energy Savers

Cogeneration  - can really get efficiency up - I suspect big opportunity in Alaska.  Also can use multiple fuel sources.  Natural gas, Methane, wood chips, etc.
Paying for Energy Efficiency - can pay with savings  example:  put 1.2 over five years (big university) based on that got $2million in utility incentives.  Instead of using savings, reinvest them.  Then, over 5 years, $3million in Green donations, then take some out of endowment.  You get a $24 million project with no debt except $3million endowments.  Lots of ways to be creative.  In Alaska lots of possibilities.

It just calls for us to do it.

Economic Engine for Alaska, just waiting to be turned on.  Create jobs, catelyze economic development.  Big picture, as Murkowski alluded to, Alaska is rated as 37th in US, up from 41.  Alaska doesn't spend much, 5th from the bottom, on energy savings.  But Housing efficiency program is good.  Creates a lot of jobs and companies.  Lots of opportunities in homes.  A lot can be done in homes.  Heating, insulation, windows, etc.  Then in commercial, industrial, etc. 

Plumbers and electricians do well working on energy efficiency.  You've got housing energy rebate program.  Lots of opportunities at University of Alaska.  Energy program for villages.  A lot can be done on efficient appliances.  Lots going on you an take advantage of. 

They are asking questions now.  One was about how cutting consumption would hurt manufacturers.  That's a basic contradiction in our national economic model - we need to save and we need to spend.  There are those who are developing models for more sustainable capitalism. 

Business of Clean Energy in Alaska Conference 2011 - Murkowski

 I'm at the Business of Clean Energy in Alaska conference at the Denaina Center. 

Lisa Murkowski just spoke following welcome comments from  Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell and Renewable Energy Alaska Project executive director. 

She began by saying the key is to both more energy production and reduction of energy use.  There are more than 27,000 homes that need weatherization upgrades and sorry that this wasn't funded again.  Better in helping homeowners affording jumps in energy prices.  Live heat did relatively well in the budget.  The debate going ahead in Congress will be with critical eye to the budget, it will be tough for us here in the state.  Whether weatherization, live heat or federal money to advance our clean energy technologies.  We need to be independent to futher build out our renewable energy technologies.  It's not a shortage of resources.  Was in Chevak and Hooper Bay to see the wind turbines beginning to offset those energy prices - not there yet, but will be.  We have best hydro electric potential in the nation.  Already 28 projects in state which provide about 24% of our energy.  Ocean potential.  These could potentially produce 3 times more than we currently consume.  We have 33,000 miles of coastline.  We need to learn to tie into it.  No shortage of resources, but turning them into energy.  We've seen CIRI's frustration with getting energy companies to sign on on Fire Island.  Red tape by NEPA for Naknek projects. 

Three hydro bills - last one calls all environmentally acceptable?? projects as renewable energy. 

We're onto the first panel now. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bridgman/Packer Ticket Contest

Myrna Packer

I got to talk with Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer at a gathering tonight at SubZero.  And with Scott Schofield, the Out North executive director.

So, Scott has given me a free ticket for one of you readers.  Since you all know there is no such thing as a free ticket, here's the deal.

Art Bridgman
Simple contest rules:

First person to email me a copy of your receipt for nine tickets* to Bridgman/Packer gets a tenth ticket free.  But you have to buy them after this post is published.  Just get nine of your friends (enemies are ok too, but after this they may not be enemies) to pool together to buy tickets as a group, and I can add the tenth ticket if you are the first to email the receipt showing you bought nine tickets after the time of this post.  Include a name, email address, and phone number.

Note for  whiners and troublemakers (not that any read this blog): One receipt for nine tickets, not several receipts that add up to nine tickets.  Let's not make this complicated, though I know that people can think up all sorts of contingencies I haven't thought of.  If you do, I reserve the right to determine the fair winner. 

(Note:  if no one sends in a receipt for nine tickets, I'm guessing Scott might let me give that ticket to the first person to email me a receipt for the biggest block of tickets over five or six. For example, someone sending a receipt for seven tickets at 5pm on Wednesday will beat a person with a receipt for six tickets at  2pm Wednesday.  The contest ends when I verify a purchase of nine tickets or about 4 hours before the performance of the largest block purchase below nine.  So, if the biggest block is for 8 for Saturday, I'll announce about 3pm on Saturday.)

Think of this as a party with your friends.

And as I was preparing this I found some Bridgman/Packer video.  I wasn't going to post video because the best way to go is with no expectations, but watching the video I was reminded why I am so excited about seeing them again and I thought it might spur some folks to get their friends together to see the Friday and/or Saturday performance.  I'd recommend Friday, because when you see how amazing they are, you'll still have a chance to see them again on Saturday. 

This video is from a piece they did last time they were here.

Bridgman/Packer Dance: "Under The Skin" (composite video) from Bridgman/Packer Dance on Vimeo.

 Ticket information here.

 What's in it for me?  First and foremost, I think it would be a waste if the Discovery Theater weren't filled up both nights.  The only reason someone shouldn't be trying to buy tickets is that they don't know these performers are in town.  And I want Out North to make money off this so they will take similar financial risks in the future to bring great performers to Anchorage.

And there were light tricks coming home along the Chester Creek bike trail.