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After a brief hiatus for the “week in sustainability” round up, we’re back at it! This week, The New York Times Green Blog highlighted the unveiling of an interactive Internet-based map allowing people to see the energy use in specific neighborhoods in more than 40 American cities. According to the site linked in the story, two students created the map to learn more about how the nation’s cities function and to offer people a better understanding of the spatial patterns related to the energy consumption of our cities. Currently, the mapping service has analyzed cities including Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and New York, among others. The project shows the potential for “big data” to organize environmental data that will help society better understand energy usage and ultimately reduce emissions.
A story from Katie Fehrenbacher of GigaOm about biogas and datacenters also caught our eye. Fehrenbacher listed reasons why IT companies are experimenting with biogas, attributing its ability to be sourced from waste resources and its capacity to be used in place of fossil fuels for heating, electricity, or powering transportation. These benefits, in addition to those created by other alternative clean power sources, are also expected to help datacenter operators better control energy use and reduce their carbon footprints. Microsoft has also recently shared plans for a “data plant,” the first-ever grid independent fuel cell data center that is fueled directly from biogas.