The Energy Of The Future Is Solar Power

Not so long ago, solar power was something of a dream for those who were ahead of the curve in the environmental movement. It appeared to be an option for the wealthy and for those who had committed themselves to environmentalism.

The idea that we could heat our homes and generate electricity from little more than sunshine seemed like a utopian ideal.

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City of Boulder Recognized as Leader in Eco-Transportation

City of Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones Reports from the 2017 Eco-Mobility World Congress

Boulder, CO was recently rated “the happiest city in America.” Perhaps related: Boulder is also one of the most bikable U.S. cities and internationally recognized for its alternative transportation solutions. Below are comments from Mayor Suzanne Jones while representing Boulder as one of a few cities invited to present at the October 2017 Eco-Mobility Congress in Taiwan.

“I am so pleased to be representing City of Boulder, along with Natalie Stiffler (Boulder senior transportation planner), at ICLEI’s 2017 Eco-Mobility World Congress in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This gathering was described to me as “the Olympics of city transportation solutions” – being held every two years, with over 42 countries, 53 cities and 1,200 participants in an amazing international city, I now understand the reference.

Boulder is one of only a few United States cities invited (and hosted) to come speak at the conference, and yours truly spoke at one of the opening panels with reps from the host city; Suwon, South Korea; London, England; and Melbourne, New Zealand. I shared about the transportation work that Boulder is undertaking to become a more livable city—like our extensive multi-use path bike/pedestrian network with its 80 underpasses that also doubles for flood management; our collaborative successes with regional bus rapid transit along US36; our investment in Boulder Junction as a transit-oriented development to create a new mixed-use, walkable neighborhood in east Boulder; and our renewed safety focus on “Vision Zero” to reduce serious collisions; and so on.

How reassuring to find that we are not unusual or alone: cities all over the world are undertaking similar experiments and transitions—driven by concerns about increasing congestion, air pollution, growing populations and climate change. It is a gathering of cities that are committed to utilizing the latest smart technologies (e.g., autonomous electric buses) to rethink what mobility looks like and creating state-of-the-art communities that place people back at the top of the hierarchy (e.g., reclaiming public spaces for people).

The theme is “Livable. Shared. Intelligent.” Companies like Tesla and 7StarLake (and a plethora of other companies touting every form of electric and smart mobility from skateboards to buses) are here to explain emerging technologies and how they will make cities better; and old-school concepts like walking and biking are celebrated as essential mechanisms to re-create vibrant downtown city centers. It is a fascinating and inspiring gathering, and making me realize that Boulder will have to run to keep up with these innovating cities.

One element of every Eco-Mobility Congress is that the host city turns a portion of their city into an eco-mobility demonstration district closed to cars for a month. In this case, Kaohsiung chose the historic Hamasan neighborhood to give the streets over to walkers, bikes, electric scooters and busses, as well as an autonomous electric shuttle demonstration. Events are hosted within the district all month, including the conference’s bike parade of mayors and city reps from around the world riding all fashion of e-bikes through waving crowds (the mayor of Kaohsiung is a former political prisoner and beloved celebrity, so she has crowds wherever she goes!).

The three-day Congress concluded with the unveiling and publishing of the Kaohsiung Principles for Shared Mobility ( ), which are consensus principles from lead global non-profits to serve as a roadmap moving forward. Some of these principles are no-brainers and others certainly provocative — e.g., moving beyond cars (and all of the public real estate devoted to them) as the organizing theme for cities. But having traveled through several major Asian cities on this trip—with the congestion, the incredible air pollution, and the high fatalities—it is clear that a major transformation is needed in urban areas as populations continue to climb. And seeing what has been accomplished in the Netherlands, with state-of-the-art transit technology in addition to their incredible bike mode share, it is certainly worth examining what Boulder’s version of eco-mobility should look like to keep improving our livability and sustainability. At a minimum, shaping this next chapter involving autonomous vehicles to make sure they are both electric and shared when they arrive in Colorado, seems like an important and immediate task.

In closing, it was indeed an honor and privilege to be here—to represent our city, but also our country in a time when our international reputation is taking a beating. It turns out that Boulder is both known and respected here (hats off to the prior work of Matt Appelbaum, Kathleen Bracke and Tracy Winfree!)—I am told that we have participated in every one of these World Congresses in some fashion, and our engagement is both noted and appreciated.”

Hemp Farming Presentation – Tips for Success


Are you a hemp farmer or emerging hemp entrepreneur interested in learning how to farm hemp properly and effectively? We invite you to attend the Hemp Farming 101 event this Friday, May 5 from 2-5 pm at the Ft. Lupton Rec Center in Fort Lupton, CO, where many of your questions can be answered by experienced hemp farmers and business owners. Companies looking to use hemp products in their supply chain are also invited. Presenters will discuss the basics of hemp farming for quality production, and ways hemp can be utilized for different industries, such as medicinal, industrial, seed and fiber products.

We also welcome experienced farmers with resources to share and seed to sell. This event is hosted by Abraham Paiss & Associates (APA), whose principal Zev Paiss served as the Founding Executive Director of The National Hemp Association. APA is committed to helping build the hemp supply chain in the U.S. and supporting the success of hemp farmers, processors, and business owners.

Guest speakers include:

Ed Lehrburger, President and CEO of PureVision Technologies, a Colorado company focused on the cellulosic biorefining industry, will discuss hemp applications to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Bill Billings, Vice President and co-founder of the Colorado Hemp Project, one of the first legal harvests in America, will share his experience and provide tips on how to accurately and effectively plant hemp this growing season.

Brady Price from Blue Circle Development, will present on how to create mold and insect resistant plants, seed stabilizing, pesticide and disease control, bacillus and mycelium management

The event costs $20 and will include light refreshments and time for networking. The Hemp Farming 1010 event will take place at the Fort Lupton Recreational Center, 203 S. Harrison Avenue Fort Lupton, CO 80621 (Room 3), on May 5th from 2-5pm; check-in begins at 1:30.

Please Register at this link

National Hemp Association (NHA) and Colorado Hemp Industries Association (COHIA) members, and hemp supporters are encouraged to attend to learn the basics of successful hemp farming, and are invited to spread the word about this educational event. Thank you.

Status of U.S. Hemp Growing in 2016

As expected, data from Colorado, Kentucky, and Tennessee all show the presence of large amounts of growers. A large portion of the production in Colorado is situated on the eastern half of the state. This region offers more even growing condition as opposed to the western half of the state which is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The data also shows large clusters around two of Colorado’s largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs. Kentucky has a more even distribution of growers across the state. While there is some clustering around the capital, Lexington, grower registered growers exist in all corners of the state. Kentucky also features large numbers of hemp processing facilities centered around Louisville and Lexington. Tennessee shows more clustering around its capital, Nashville, with only a few outliers at the far ends of the state. Nevada and Vermont also feature several hemp producers spread across the state. Virginia, Indiana, and New York feature hemp production exclusively through research universities.

APA Hosts Media Tour for Largest Hemp Expo in the U.S.

Neshama Abraham is leading a “sneak peek” press tour just prior to the start of the NoCo Hemp Expo scheduled for March 31 and April 1 in Loveland, Colorado. She worked with all of the event sponsors to create press releases describing their newest offerings to the hemp industry.


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CU Boulder Atmospheric Scientists Create New Equipment to Determine Air Quality Emissions

Rainer Volkamer, PhD (left), CU Boulder Chemistry & CIRES principal investigator, gets an update from research assistant Natalie Kille (on ladder) with research associate Roman Sinreich, PhD (standing right). The research team has developed the first solar tracking equipment in the U.S. that can work in a mobile platform and analyze the makeup of chemicals in the atmosphere in the previously unchartered area extending from the earth to the sun.

Principal Investigator Rainer Volkamer, PhD (left), CU Boulder Chemistry Professor & CIRES Fellow, receives an update on the innovative solar tracking device protruding from the roof of the customized NCAR research trailer from researchers Natalie Kille (on ladder) with Roman Sinreich, PhD (standing right). The Volkamer Research Group has developed the first mobile solar tracking instrument to analyze the regional makeup of chemicals in the rarely studied air extending from the Earth to the Sun.

APA’s Neshama Abraham reports on research in atmospheric science …

CIRES/NCAR/NOAA Research Team Fills Gap with Innovative Mobile Solar Tracking Device

“I found the sun!” said research assistant Natalie Kille, age 25, who carefully watched the orange globe  representing the sun settle inside a black circle on the laptop computer perched on her lap inside a research van. “We can go now,” she announced to fellow atmospheric scientists Roman Sinreich, PhD, and Philip Handley.

The van  slowly moved forward pulling a specially-equipped research trailer containing a host of scientific equipment. Among the instruments is the first solar tracking equipment in the U.S. that can help analyze a vertical column of air emissions in a mobile vehicle.

The CU Boulder/CIRES team is part of the Volkamer Research Group in the Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy Laboratory (ATMOSspeclab), and has developed an innovative technology to track regional air quality emissions which adds an important piece to the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment aka FRAPPE.

“Our research fills a vital gap between the emissions that are measured at ground level or a few meters above ground, to the air sampling taken by airplanes collected at 300 to 500 meters high,” said Principal Investigator Rainer Volkamer, PhD, Associate Professor and CIRES Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We are collecting and analyzing the complex plumes that travel decoupled from the ground that are not often studied.”

Volkamer’s group is the first in the nation to build solar tracking equipment adapted for a mobile platform, and to track emissions in a vertical column from the ground all the way up to the sun. The team’s pioneering approach will give the scientific community access to the complexity of air aloft that can be quantified and presented in boxed areas on maps for an entire area or region. (Dr. Volkamer describes the MobileSoft instrument and the team’s research in the above 4-minute video interview).

The Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment project is funded by the Colorado Department for Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), along with a seed grant from the CIRES Energy and Environment Initiative. Volkamer Research Group members include Jim Hannigan of NCAR, Owen Cooper of NOAA, and CU Chemistry/CIRES graduate students SunilBaidar and Ivan Ortega, and NASA scientists.

The team developed the innovative solar tracking software and equipment which contains motion sensors that adapt to the pitch and roll of a moving vehicle. Keeping the solar tracking system aligned with the sun while the trailer is moving and hitting bumps in the road is among the team’s greatest challenge. Last week, the researchers successfully refined the equipment to account for driving upon Colorado’s uneven road conditions. When Kille proclaimed she “found the sun” she meant the mirrors on the research trailer were properly aligned to track the sun’s position.

The solar tracking system is housed in a customized trailer lent by NCAR (see photo). The innovative equipment protrudes from the top of the research trailer where two mirrors are mounted on a rack to track the sun along with input from GPS and wind sensor devices.

Additional instruments in the trailer include a mobile Solar Occultation Flux Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR), a direct sun Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DS-DOAS) and a Multi-Axis DOAS (MAX-DOAS). The FTIR tracks a large number of chemicals as they absorb the sun’s light to determine the makeup in a vertical column of air. The DS-DOAS measures along the direct solarbeam, and the MAX-DOAS measures scattered sunlight through a rotating telescope. The three pieces of equipment ensure a wide variety of chemical components found in the air are quantified under clear and partially cloudy skies.

Which chemicals are the team tracking? Ethane, ammonia, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde are the current FRAPPE priorities. Each emission has a unique chemical makeup that enables the research team to identify the source of the emission, whether from a natural or a human-produced activity.

“Ethane is the chemical signature of natural gas. Ammonia of cow feedlots. Carbon monoxide of cars,” Volkamer said. “Nitrogen dioxide is a precursor to ozone and formaldehyde is key to understand the rate at which hydrocarbons get oxidized in the atmosphere.”

Volkamer’s group has a vital role to play as their research fills a gap in the study of air quality emissions at a time where there is great interest in anthropogenic methane and ozone-producing volatile organic compounds. Boulder County, Weld County, and Larimer County along the Northern Front Range all exceed the Federal ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) that is considered “safe” for human exposure.

The researchers have been driving the research trailer in the field collecting air quality samples along the northern Front Range since July 2014. While the research being gathered will take months to fully interpret, the equipment has already produced its first set of data. The team will spend the next year analyzing the data.

Kille, who has a B.S. in meteorology and is working toward her PhD in atmospheric chemistry, joined the team in May.  “I wanted to be involved in field work,” she said. “It’s so important to understand the anthropogenic impacts on our atmosphere for the future of the climate.”

Additional information about the Volkamer Research Group and the ATMOS SpecLab can be found at

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Neshama Abraham is based in Boulder, Colorado, where she writes about atmospheric science research and discoveries that affect the climate and Earth.


Solar-powered Gondola in Colorado

Free gondola traveling between the town of Telluride and town of Mountain Village

APA client The ASTER Foundation supports sustainable transportation solutions …

Visiting Telluride, Colorado, the first thing you notice, besides the spectacular mountain view, is a free gondola. The gondola, traveling from the town of Telluride to the town of Mountain Village, is the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States. It was built to improve air quality in the region by keeping cars off the road.

“We created the free gondola for the right to build this town,” said Deanna Drew, director of plaza & environmental services at Mountain Village. With the condition to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible, Mountain Village was incorporated in 1995 to join 20 towns in San Miguel County and has become one of the world’s top resort destinations.

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Homesharing hits the mainstream

The New York Times interviews APA client about new housing trend …

Marianne Kilkenny, found the answer to her housing dilemma while reading Joan Medlicott’s novel “The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love” during a visit to Asheville, N.C. When Marianne Kilkenny was in her mid-50s, she decided she’d had enough of living and working in Silicon Valley but was not sure what to do next.

Ms. Kilkenny, now 64, moved to Asheville a year later with a plan to create communities like the fictional one that had captured her attention: three women in their 60s living together in a farmhouse in North Carolina. Today, not only has she succeeded in living that very life, she is also determined to help other women (and men) arrange shared housing as they grow older, while avoiding some of the potential downsides of such a move.

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