smart, sustainable mobility.

Grid (un)reliability

US utilities have traditionally been known for high reliability, but all that is changing.  Fast.

With power lines causing some of the biggest fires in US history, utilities are learning to cope with the risk by simply switching power off to large areas when it gets windy.  With wildfires consistently getting bigger and more frequent, that means grid power is already becoming less reliable.  But what if you run a business or a city or hospital or even a school is supposed to be an emergency shelter for the community?  This new variable will change your plans whether you like it or not.

Most organizations simply can’t just send people home or work in the dark or without air conditioning.  Building codes and safety regulations have a variety of requirements for occupant safety and comfort.  During natural disasters schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure is heavily relied upon to avoid serious calamity. So, what are your options?

You actually have several options, but they all have pros and cons:

  1. Install diesel backup generators.  That’s good, except two problems.  Diesel is a very dirty and smelly fossil fuel, and is often limited to emergencies only.  For some districts, an intentional outage may not qualify.  Also, if you have a serious emergency like a wildfire or earthquake, getting a refill of diesel fuel may be impossible for quite awhile after.
  2. Install solar.  Unfortunately, many customer are finding out that their solar was required to be installed with anti-islanding features and simply will not work when the grid is down.  Those need to be retrofitted with new inverters and switches to enable “safe islanding”.  Unfortunately, solar only works during the day, so if an outage happens when it’s cloudy or at night, you’ll be out of luck.
  3. Install wind.  Small wind helps provide power for smaller loads or buildings, even when it’s dark, but it’s intermittent.  Meaning it can go off suddenly and back on, but it often works at night when the sun doesn’t.
  4. Add battery storage.  Batteries can provide backup power reliably. With time of use electric rates and demand charges, batteries make solar and wind much more economical, except the added first cost and safety.  Most chemical batteries like lithium are pretty rare elements, toxic and hazardous.  Historically, they have been relegated to small computer backup systems and mobile devices, but with demand ramping up exponentially, research and improvements in materials, capacity and manufacturing are pushing prices down really fast and safety up. But there are other storage solutions too.
  5. Add thermal storage.  Ice storage, as in frozen water, has been around for hundreds of years and is very economical for special applications where cooling or refrigeration is needed.  Since most buildings have air conditioning and many in the food sector have large refrigerators and freezers, there’s a lot of opportunities for ice storage.  Perhaps the best part of ice storage is the storage medium itself. In many cases it’s one of the most abundant and sustainable chemicals on earth – good ole’ H2O.
  6. Finally, there’s the “do nothing” alternative and hope it doesn’t affect you.  Good luck with that. Since we live in a competitive world, others will solve the problem leaving you losing business or revenue you need to pay all those fixed costs and retirement checks.  Again, that may work once or even twice, but with a prolonged outage or frequency of outages, you’ll be out of business.

So, how do you decide what is best?  It depends…

It depends on a lot of variables like your campus or building’s design, the age of your systems, your operations, safety or risk factors, utility costs, future costs, location risks (e.g. likelihood of interruptions and outages), code requirements and more.  Fortunately, 3fficient has done this analysis many times and knows how to help you decide on the best options for your business or organization.  More importantly, we can help you avoid getting “analysis paralysis” or getting wrong inputs that cost you a lot.

For a free assessment of your buildings, Click here

For a free assessment of your infrastructure’s resiliency and security, contact us >.

Are the days of ICE numbered?

Today, one of the biggest automakers on the planet and the company accredited with developing the mass production assembly line has announced they will be aggressively moving to electrifying their vehicles. This is significant because Ford Motors reiterated that they were going to halt production of most cars in the US – in favor of trucks and light duty vehicles.  Why electrify?

First, electric motors are superior to internal combustion engines in many ways.  Especially torque, when a lot of it is needed for pulling heavy loads uphill.  Second, consumer demand.  Electric motors are by far the most prevalent motive drivers in the world and automotive consumers are now widely recognizing how superior they are at moving vehicles.  Third, they have no air (and noise) pollution.  So, fuel economy standards become essentially irrelevant.  Replaced only by customer demands for adequate range and ready access to charging (refueling) stations.  With electrical outlets being nearly ubiquitous and solutions like Project FreeCharge filling in all the gaps sustainably, it’s easy to see how the days of the internal combustion engine are truly numbered.

As an engineer, I am honored to know that my profession has done great things and is responsible for many achievements in society – like mass production and automation.  I truly believe that engineers are the unsung heroes of civilization’s advances.  Always keen to solve a problem.  Always ethical and honorable – unlike lawyers, doctors and even accountants.  Engineers are very humble and rarely in the limelight – unlike actors, vloggers and politicians.  One might even say that is the engineer’s downfall.  But, that is another story for another time.

In looking back at history, I also know that without mechanical engineers, fossil fueled engines would have never reached the penetration they have today.  Mass production, automation and even the engines themselves would have never been so reliable as they are now.  So it is with mixed emotions, I am toasting the demise of the internal combustion engine!  It’s got some incredible engineering behind it.  But it is, at best, 30% efficient (vs 90% for electric motors) and the device primarily responsible for all air pollution and climate change on the planet.   Ugh.

Thankfully there is a growing organization of engineers committed to sustainable energy and energy efficiency.  The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) is active in over 100 countries and always on the lookout to making man kind’s energy systems more efficient and sustainable.  So, a toast to my fellow energy engineers quietly and humbly dedicated to making the world a better place.  More efficient.  More productive.  And soon, a lot more sustainable!

I would challenge all drivers to demand change and buy only electric vehicles.  That will drive further competition to make better cars, better batteries and more ubiquitous charging outlets.  The end result – clean air and a slowing or halting of the pending disaster called climate change!

Great Parks Need Great Public Safety

Urban planners and architects go to great effort and expense to design fun and interesting parks.  But is your urban park safe and secure for visitors?  Pretty easy to find tragic headlines that say no.  But how do you really know for sure?  Cameras, sensors, other smart tech?  Nice to have, but without electricity, that’s been pretty much impossible.  Until now!

Check out these cool new self-powered devices that are sure to bring attractive design, modern features and public safety to any park or urban space.  In fact, they double as cost effective furniture, community art and smart tech all in one.  A virtual 3-for-1.

Civic planners, architects, landscapers and public safety officers take notice.  You now have some great new tools to activate and energize your parks and open spaces.  Learn more.

Urban Wind Making a Comeback?

About 2 years ago, I got a call from a local homeowner asking if we could help troubleshoot why his turbine was not generating electricity.  I said we typically work on commercial only, but he was very frustrated and seemed to be a genuinely nice person – and local. So, I agreed to see if we could lend a hand.

I stopped by the next day to take a look at his installation. The turbine was a 5-blade 1.5 kW Chinese model I had not seen before.  It was mounted on a heavy duty 30 foot steel pole, bolted to a solid concrete foundation.  The inverter was a legacy Power One inverter (now ABB).  No batteries – grid connected.  The connections looked good and the wire routing was decent (not up to our tidy standards, but acceptable).  The pole was located near the utility meter and breakers so the wiring run was relatively short.  However, the turbine was located directly in front of a large tree with prevailing winds coming over the single story house.  Observing the turbine in action, it seemed to always orient back to the same location.  It didn’t seem to stay oriented exactly with the wind though.  The inverter showed the system was on.  Cycling through the LCD display showed zero cumulative energy in the last several months since install.  So my concerns were the siting and if the inverter was programmed properly for this turbine.  Wind testing was apparently never done.

So, we installed a small pole mounted anemometer with data logger near the turbine.  We tested at the same elevation as the turbine, then lower to check winds there.  Going higher was not an option due to local codes.  The anemometer showed consistent intermittent winds, but at low speeds (6-12 mph) with a prevailing direction about 10 degrees different from what the turbine was observed tracking.  Armed with that, we decided to check the inverter next.  After troubleshooting with the manufacturer, we ended up modifying the inverter programming to try and match the turbine output better.  Unfortunately, there’s no elegant method for doing that on the Power One inverter, except trial and error.  So, we set up several curves and honed in on the best results.  It took a couple site visits as the wind wasn’t always cooperative with our availability.

As far as inspecting or even maintaining the turbine, we would need a lift which meant added cost.  Translation – diminishing returns for a project the homeowner was already frustrated with. So, we agreed to stop there and let the system “earn its keep” for a while.

Like many projects we work on, we are able to identify a lot of design and application improvements we would have made.  These may seem obvious, but here goes anyway:

  1.  The turbine was too heavy for an appropriately smaller pole which drives up install and maintenance costs.  A lighter weight turbine on a telescoping or pivot mount pole would have been far better.
  2.  The Chinese manufacturer had opposite hours from ours, poor telephone support, email support in broken english – overall poor service.  Too many chances of making a bad mistake.
  3. The siting of the turbine was poorly executed.  The homeowner did end up trimming back the tree which helped, but proper testing beforehand would have resulted in a much better outcome.  A bit more expensive for the longer wiring run, but far better output.
  4. The cut-in speed of the turbine was obviously too high for this (or most urban) installation(s).

From an energy output perspective, the big misnomer on small or urban wind turbines is not the rated size (max watts or kilowatts at optimal speed).  What matters most is output at the typical wind speeds for the intended location.  Case in point, the homeowner’s turbine had a “1500w” turbine (at a rated speed of 26.8 mph).  With typically 6- 10 mph winds on this project site, the expected output, from that turbine, would only be around 100w.  That’s 1/15th of what most people would expect looking at the product’s label.

As an energy practitioner and sometimes inventor, this little project prompted me to refresh my knowledge of small wind turbines in the market.  Aside from country of origin, they are all about the same design.  A little after this project, I was introduced to the CEO of a local small wind turbine startup (Primo Wind) looking to flesh out their designs and hopefully go commercial.  Interesting timing!  After doing a deep dive on the market and the company, I was really pleased.  The market opportunity is huge and the company has solved the big hurdles for small wind: i.e. makes power in a gentle breeze (4-5 mph) or gale force (110-120 mph), holds up in near hurricanes, easy install or takedown using lightweight and sturdy telescoping pole with really innovative cantilever pivot.  Install by one or two people and no heavy equipment.  Reasonably priced product cost with easy and fast installation means low cost of energy production that is very competitive with distributed solar.   Bingo.  The resurgence of small wind may be upon us.

Note:  I liked Primo’s product so much, we decided to dive in and help them scale up commercially.  Product info is available here.

How does a lotus leaf protect your car?

Something everyone on the planet has first hand experience with is cars.  With harsh weather, sunshine, road salts and other chemicals being thrown at your vehicle, literally at breakneck speeds, protecting the paint and underlying metal is a big challenge.  Once the clear coat or paint starts eroding, your expensive vehicle starts looking bad.  Or worse, the metal starts corroding…  So how does a lotus leaf protect the paint?  Is it some new kind of vegan wrap?  No, not exactly.

The surface of a lotus leaf actually repels water.  It’s how the giant leaf stays afloat and shields the fish underneath from the sun and other predators. By studying and learning from nature, biologists and chemists have been able develop amazing new nano-coatings that repel water, oils and other undesirable elements to better protect surfaces, create new capabilities and make life better.

New nano-coatings can give painted metals, plastics and other materials super hydrophobic, oleophobic and even antistatic properties.   Imagine a car exterior or interior that repels water and oils making cleanup faster and easier.  That means it stays cleaner longer, uses less soap or detergents and requires less scrubbing or washing.  What if this “miracle coating” was permanent or lasted for years?   That would save a lot of time and money and be a whole lot better for the environment!

With billions of cars on the road, this is a BIG deal and the industry is taking off.  Nano-coatings when applied properly, put a very thin, typically clear or invisible layer that molecularly bonds to the substrate, e.g. painted metals, plastic, fabric, etc.  For car exteriors, silicone dioxide and ceramic blends are becoming popular due to the hardness and heat resistance.  The value of the hardness can tend to be overstated though.  Any material can scratch when scraped against a similarly hard material or hit with enough impact.  Clear coatings are mostly silicone dioxide or some type of clear substance with other “hardeners” added.  They are not 100% ceramic or even diamond for that matter, else they would be opaque (not clear). So, a small rock can certainly scratch the coating or dent the underlying paint and metal.  BUT, it will certainly reduce the scratches, depending on the materials and concentrations in the coating.  Where the hardness will be most beneficial is protecting against everyday use like fingernail scratches at the door handles and cloth scratches from washing or drying.  Even soft sponges trap dirt.  Unlike waxes, swirl marks should be a thing of the past as buffing is no longer necessary.

The biggest benefit comes from the hydrophobic properties of the nano-coating.  The ability to repel water or oils or other dirt elements keeps the surface cleaner, longer.  And when cleanup is needed, it’s a lot easier as the water droplets have less surface area in contact with the surface meaning less hard calcium buildup and less dirt to clean.  That means, fewer chemicals, milder, more sustainable soaps, less scrubbing and fewer scratches wearing down the paint.  Essentially and a much longer lasting beautiful shine without the hassles.  Best of all, nano-coatings are inexpensive.  Some even last for years as opposed to weeks or months like waxes and sealers.  At the low cost, there’s really no reason not to add nano-coatings to protect your investments.

PermaClean Auto 9H is a unique silicone/ceramic hybrid polymer nano-technology that is hard, but provides added elasticity.  It does not require special applicators as it can be sprayed or wiped on in minutes by any consumer.  It dries in 5 minutes and cures in 24 hours (faster under heat lamps).  It has a special benefit of adding temperature resistance up to 500C (932F) and UV protection to save your investment from baking in the sun.  It’s highly durable and has been tested to last for 5-6 years.  Of course, treating a new car or having the paint re-conditioned by a pro before hand is ideal.  3fficient recently launched an entire line of specialty nano-coatings that add amazing properties to everyday surfaces like windows that reject solar heat, kitchens that reject bacteria, fabrics that reject spills and cars that stay cleaner longer.

Important note.  When comparing products, remember to compare features and durability first.  When comparing price, always calculate the cost per coverage area ($/SF) and how long it will last – not the cost per ounce or bottle.  Some cheaper products don’t last very long and many are very expensive for the limited area they cover.

Can your bench do this? Here’s how solar furniture attracts visitors and makes your company look amazing.

Ah, the good old bench. It’s the background subject of affection in many movies. A couple holding hands on a park bench. An old man sitting on a bench feeding pigeons. Two strangers sitting on a bench engaging in a conversation on a beautiful spring day. Remember when you last went outside and just sat on a bench?

Some things thankfully never change. People do still sit outside and in fact, we’re outside more than ever.  On sunny days, we like to sit in the shade. Because we are so busy, when we do take time to rest, we’re usually on our smartphone and wishing we could recharge our device batteries while recharging our mental batteries.  We expect more from everything these days and even benches are keeping up with the times.

3fficient heard from cities, business building owners, and universities who all said they’d love to see a bench that charged phones using solar energy. They also said they’d like other options, like providing internet access and lighting while getting local environmental and traffic data nearby. 3fficient answered the call and is proud to present our new initiative that we call Project FreeCharge.

Working with furniture and clean tech engineers has been really rewarding.  The lowly park bench is getting a big makeover with amazing new features:

  • Comfortable resting place with shade and weather protection
  • Smart lighting that knows when it’s time to dance with the music or alert public safety
  • Power adapters and outlets for mobile and portable devices
  • Instant alert and emergency activated monitoring for public safety
  • Solar panels that transform sunlight into energy
  • Smart energy storage that works up to 14 days without sunshine
  • Daily energy and environmental reporting
  • Drop in 1-day installation.
  • Sustainable materials

Why consider new self-powered benches?  Organizations that have installed smart renewable-energy-powered urban furniture tell us they communicate a strong message of sustainability to their customers.  They are simple to install and essentially free to operate because they don’t require connectivity to the electrical grid.  3fficient benches are battery-powered and provide incredible value.

So, next time you are outside, take a look at that old familiar bench and ask yourself, what if that bench could do more?  What if it charged devices for free?  What if it could track the number of visitors to that area?  What if it provided lighting that increased security?  What if it could call emergency services with the push of a button.  That would be amazing, right?

Take a moment to visit FreeCharge and see communities can DO MORE WITH LESS.

How to cut $21 Billion a year in healthcare costs

When I was a kid, a lot more people smoked.  But they usually knew that it was bad for you and smelly.  When they asked my parents if they would mind if they smoked, My dad would simply say, “go right ahead – but don’t exhale”.  It seems a lot of city dwellers are getting fed up with cars and trucks that exhale a whole lot more smoke.  Several European Countries are moving towards banning all new sales of internal combustion engines.  Parisians may be among the first to breathe a collective sigh of relief from air and noise pollution as the city is considering an outright ban of all diesel engines.

As a society, our continued failure is the right to clean air.  Something I learned at a young age when I worked in nuclear power, “for every failure, there is a root cause”.  While I don’t think that health care is a “right”, I do agree that the costs are out of control.  In the United States, per capita health care costs are among the highest on the planet.  It turns out, the majority of health care costs are directly related to pollution.  According to the latest report by the American Lung Association (ALA), air pollution directly accounts for: 220,000 days of missed work, 109,000 asthma-related attacks and 2,580 premature deaths per annum.  Putting a price tag on all that adds up to $21 billion a year – in just 10 states.  The primary source is burning of fossil fuels in cars and power plants.

While the ALA report promotes a more complex and gradual policy shift, I firmly believe the easier solution is to put that cost directly on the source – right at the gas pumps or the utility meter.  Then, a special health fund would go directly to, and only to, asthma and lung-related costs for consumers in the communities where the energy was purchased.  In some cases, such as near ports, special toll road fees could be deployed.  Consumers would quickly shift from fossil fueled cars and homes to zero emission counterparts.   The fund would decline over time, but so would demand – to the benefit of us all.  While I’m not a “policy wonk”, I can’t think of anything more democratic and straight forward than that.

On a personal note: we replaced our two family vehicles with an all electric for local commuting and a hybrid for the long hauls.  The all electric is by far the vehicle of choice – fast, quiet, comfortable, no smog checks, oil changes or trips to the gas station – ever!

Crown Estate rolls out smart street furniture in shopping parks

The Crown Estate invests in smartphone charging benches at two of its Lifestyle retail parks.  Customers at both the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park and the MK1 Shopping Park in Milton Keynes will be able to charge their phones using smart benches.  The Crown Estate has rolled out smart benches at two of its Lifestyle retail parks – one of 14 retail parks managed by the company. The benches are designed by Strawberry Energy and sold in the US, Canada and Mexico by  They can charge Android, iPhones and other devices with USB connections.  Read more…

Why does my battery suck? – CNET

Why will public charging of mobile devices be needed for years or decades to come?   Here’s the simple answer…

Phones, tablets and watches continue to improve. Their batteries? Not so much.

Source: Why does my battery suck? – CNET

Electric Car Drivers, “We’ll Never Go Back To Gasoline”

Fully nine out of 10 electric-car drivers say they won’t go back to cars with internal-combustion engines, according to a new Ford survey. More often than not, that specifically means a battery electric car, Stephanie Janczak–Ford’s Manager of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Technology–said in a recent interview with CleanTechnica. Janczak noted that most current all-electric drivers said they would stay with that type of car, while plug-in hybrid owners were more inclined to consider switching to an all-electric vehicle.

Workers rejoice.  3fficient’s PowerPost delivers free EV charging to commuters.  For pennies a day, employers can provide free workplace charging to lower their carbon footprint.   Contact us to get yours now.

Source: Electric Car Drivers Tell Ford: We’ll Never Go Back To Gasoline

Spur clean-tech for smart cities – vote here.

Coming soon to smart cities – Next generation clean technologies that will help make fossil fuels irrelevant.

By 2050, 90% of the population will be in cities, 75% of all energy use and 80% of CO2 emissions will start with the cities.  When US Mayors return from their annual conference this weekend, city staffs will be challenged to accelerate smart city clean tech.  That’s us!  We are helping incubate some of the most incredible startups and early stage companies to make sure the best clean tech solutions keep on coming and get better every year…  Supporting innovative small business is the only way to reach your goals.  Won’t you join us?  Do more with less.  Be 3fficient!

Make sure you follow us to see upcoming announcements on new urban infrastructure.  I can’t wait to show you the stuff in development!  But, don’t let that delay you from purchasing our innovative new products available now.

3fficient incubator team

My first year with an electric vehicle.

My first year with an electric vehicle has been very interesting.

Buying a vehicle is a major purchase.  So, like most married couples, my wife and I discuss and agree upon all major decisions before hand.  In this case, it was my idea, so I decided to “test the waters” first.  During casual conversations, I asked about her perceptions of electric vehicles.  For the most part it was neutral to positive.  Positive on the environment and probable cost savings.  By far, her biggest concern (and mine) was the range.  So, I quietly started logging daily miles and found both vehicles were under 40 miles each day.  Better than expected!  It dawned on me that since both cars spent most of their time in the garage, with the keys on hooks next to each other, they really didn’t need to be “his and her” vehicles – they could be pool cars.  One for short commutes, one for long range as needed.  If we both had a long trip, we would have to plan for it anyway and could rent a car if needed.   I was convinced.  Now I had to get her on board.

So, I asked her if she would try to plan her daily trips a little better to see if she could reduce the wear and tear on our aging SUV and reduce the huge gas costs.  She did and her daily mileage dropped about 25% which also saved her a lot of time.  So, I tried a little psychology and suggested we both switch to EVs.  After a few dinner discussions, she suggested we try one and see how it goes.  Bingo!

Next up, shopping.

Now that she was on board with the concept, we needed to decide on which one and how to pay for it.  We ultimately decided on the Nissan Leaf as the size, headroom and storage was optimal for our family.  I’m tall (6’5″), have two teenagers and we frequent the beach.  The Leaf was the most practical at the time.  So, when my wife took the kids to to take a look, they went to the dealer and walked right past the Leaf.  My daughter said, “I hope it’s not that ugly one over there”.  As it turns out, it was, which of course delayed the decision.  But, like any new design, you start noticing them around and it grows on you.  After a week or two, she recanted her perception and we had everyone on board.  (No, our kids don’t make our decisions for us, but we weren’t in a rush either).  After deciding on our personal preferences and financing, we drove off the lot in our shiny new EV.

While we were shopping, I diligently researched charging options and how we might handle trips beyond a single charge.  From prior experience, I already knew there were several companies developing competing charging networks.  Something akin to video tape wars of long ago that ended up being displaced by DVDs anyway.  Since most cars spend most of the time parked at home or at work, the charging “network” is irrelevant for a commuter car.  Since that was true for us, my focus was on just using the 110v outlets in the garage or adding a 220v (Level 2) outlet.   Luckily we have a gas dryer which frees up an outlet.  Even if I didn’t have that, the panel had enough capacity to run 220v to the garage – if needed.  Ultimately, I decided to try out the regular 110v outlet for awhile and see how it worked.

The experience.

A year later and we’re still using just the 110v outlet.  However, we may add the 220v outlet to speed up charging during utility “off peak” hours or during our own “peak solar hours” when we add solar to the house (another story).  Basically, we just plug it in every night (after peak utility rates) and it’s full or nearly full in the morning.  The manufacturer states that charging to 100% can degrade battery longevity, so just under full is quite alright.  On occasion we may forget to plug it in at night, but after the first time, we’ve gotten in the habit like checking the door locks before turning in.

I’ve only needed to “fill up” while driving a couple times over the last year.  Once or twice because we forgot to charge the night before and the other car was in use.  So, I ran low, but found plenty of options nearby via the PlugShare app on my phone.  Other times were on longer trips beyond the “single tank” range.  I have found that most EV dealers have a high speed (Level 3) charger on site for free “customer” use. Or, there are proprietary networks to choose from.  However, I can’t see why any vendor would limit access (sales) by requiring a membership vs convenient point of sale model like the gas stations have?  In all, we’ve only had “range anxiety” a couple times, but always found an option.  Sometimes the wait was longer than we’d like, but overall not a big deal.

The overall driving experience has been great.  Thanks mostly to the engine.  Not to diminish automotive engineering, the greatness of the EV is simply the propulsion choice.  Electric motors are far superior to a reciprocating engine in almost every facet.  They accelerate faster which means they are safer for driving.  They are quieter and smoother which means no loud noises annoying the neighbors or your family.  They don’t pollute so you don’t choke everyone behind you in traffic or the kids while waiting for pickup.  They don’t require gas so no more smog checks, constant tuneups or sending our kids to “fight foreign wars”.  Or as many generals have said, “die transporting or protecting oil interests”.  They have very few moving parts which means they are much more dependable, easier and a lot cheaper to maintain.  They are far more efficient.  An electric motor is 90% – 98% efficient while a gas engine is only 26% – 30% efficient.  With batteries mounted low in the vehicle, the center of gravity is lowered which means they inherently handle really well.  The only question I would have is, why weren’t they offered a long, long time ago?

While there are some features and improvements I would make for my car, the experience of owning an electric vehicle has been absolutely outstanding.  Since California has proven that EV’s work and are truly viable (in fact preferred), I hope that all other states follow suit and mandate zero emissions vehicles to spur mass adoption.  With high volume pricing and availability, demand will surely grow and gas engines will be relegated to backup sources like they are for buildings and manufacturing already.

Two years later and we still love our electric vehicle.  In fact, it’s had quite an impact on our family.  One of the fun perks for me has been at the starting line, er um traffic lights.  On occasion or three, a kid with a noisy “rice rocket” will end up at the light next to me and I have so much fun seeing the look on their faces (in the rear view mirror) when the family car leaves ’em in the dust.  As for my kids – absolute converts.  One of the statements heard while sitting in congested traffic, “Why would anyone choose to drive a noisy carcinogen-belching machine when a clean, quiet (and much quicker) digital device is available.  Even the stodgy car enthusiast at CNET is becoming a convert.  As for the gas burning SUV?  That’s now backup only and sits in the garage most of the time.  When my daughter heads off to college (BioSci/EnvSci major) in the fall, we’ll dump the SUV once and for all…




It’s time to cut loose!

Spring is here and along with it come all the amazing colors and festivities.  Enjoying the warm weather and the upcoming Earth Day celebrations reminds us of the fragile shrinking planet we all share.  Nobody is more keenly aware of that than our students.

Today’s students are highly social and engaged in environmental, social and fiscal sustainability.  In fact, most universities have student run sustainability councils and their own budgets for capital improvements.  Students today, demand that their schools, colleges and universities have environmental sustainability on top of their priority list.  As a result, some of the most progressive universities and colleges differentiate themselves by their assault on reducing carbon and waste.

This same enthusiasm has grown into the corporate world and city-scape.  Those same grads live an increasingly mobile lifestyle and are migrating to engaging, energized communities.  They know that climate change is not their children’s responsibility, it is theirs.  As city leaders and planners look for options to keep their cities relevant and digitally connected, they are seeking to energize there cities and metro centers.  Fortunately the word is getting out and universities and cities alike are integrating our growing portfolio of smart city and campus solutions into their plans.

The iconic Strawberry Trees are being designed into several new developments and park enhancements.  The cool Evodia tables are making their way into many campus budgets and dining areas.  Our newest product, the Arc locker-style charging station is already in several colleges and events.  The newest version starts coming off the production line next week.  All of these were designed and developed by college grads looking to make the world a better place.

Last year, we adopted Strawberry energy and SolGreen.  And this week, we announced adding WrightGrid as a partner.  We are rapidly developing an amazing portfolio of free solar-powered charging stations and beautiful urban furniture, available in one place –  We have more awesome stuff incubating and more great news coming as we shape an entirely new industry of resilient, smart charging for the masses that is truly zero carbon (not to be confused with net-zero energy). So, next time you’re outdoors on a campus, a park, a bike trail, an event or just about any venue, ask yourself, would this be a good place for a lot of people to charge their devices for free with zero carbon?

The sun is free.  Shouldn’t solar energy be free too?

Doug Poffinbarger, CEO 3fficient.

Do you support solar charging?

strawberryOur partner, Strawberry energy is competing to enter the Verge CleanTech Accelerator in Silicon Valley.  This is a great opportunity for a young startup to showcase in front of influential people from famous Silicon Valley.  They are just one step closer to it, but really need your vote! Just click on this linkselect Strawberry energy and click Vote!
No registration, no connection with social media, just one click.  Thank you and please share!