Tag Archive | feather-stitching machine

GW to expand solar

The Office of Sustainability will purchase more solar panels and partner with engineering professors to build a small-scale wind turbine this year, as GW tries to reduce its dependence on coal power over the next decade.

The solar panels will heat campus water systems and capture rays for electricity, Director of the Office of Sustainability Meghan Chapple-Brown said. It will be the first time the University uses solar energy for electricity on a larger scale, after having used solar panels on three residence halls to heat the buildings’ water for the past two years.

While the office is still working out details, the move will put GW on track to reach its ambitious goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2040.

The solar panels will be the newest added since GW first began collecting solar energy in 2011 with rooftop installations on Ivory Tower, 1959 E St. and Building JJ.

Those panels collect enough power to heat most of each building’s water use the year. In the last three years, the system saved a total of about 300 tons of carbon dioxide, said Shannon Ross, a coordinator in the sustainability office – which is equivalent to the energy use of 14 homes for one year.

The University’s Climate Action Plan, released three years ago, also calls for the campus to produce 10 percent of its own low-carbon energy technology by 2040.

The two renewable energy projects are part of a massive University-wide sustainability plan, which sets goals for GW to grow its own food, produce zero waste and eventually stop producing carbon altogether.

Going carbon-neutral is the most important step GW can take to become a more sustainable college – and to jump in national rankings of green colleges, said Avital Andrews, an environmental expert who is an editor for the Sierra Club’s magazine.

“Climate change is probably the most dire environmental issue that we face right now – not that water pollution and landfills aren’t a huge problem as well, but it’s what we’re most concerned about,” Andrews said. “We’d love to see as much solar as possible.”

And boosting GW’s sustainability score is a big priority for the University, Chapple-Brown said.

Five years ago, the Sierra Club named GW one of the nation’s least eco-friendly schools. That failing score came a year after University President Knapp arrived at GW with sustainability as one of his highest priorities.

This year, GW crept onto the list of the top 25 green schools, coming in at No. 23.

GW, though, lags behind competitor schools such as American University, which is on track to become carbon neutral in just seven years. In addition to converting solar power into electricity, AU has the largest solar-powered water heating system in the District. It also converts used cooking oil from its dining halls into electricity.

Andrews, who has studied colleges’ uses of renewable energy, said it can take years for schools to make broad changes in their energy consumption, but that process can be sped up if an administration fully buys into the plan.

“It seems like something that can happen quickly if schools put their mind to it, and especially if there’s a demand from students and alumni,” Andrews said. “They can make it happen quickly if they want to.”

The types of clean energy a school uses depends on its location and what resources it has available, Andrews said. The University of Washington, for example, which sits on a bay that opens into the Pacific Ocean, is almost entirely hydro-powered.

Solar panels are more suited to city life, especially in D.C., which sees lots of sunlight and heat almost daily, Andrews said. She noted that the White House recently added more solar panels to its roof.

As GW tries to use alternative sources of energy, it is also going through a multi-million dollar effort to upgrade the electric and heating systems in the University’s buildings. The project, dubbed the “eco-building program,” began last year and will reduce energy use in each upgraded building by 15 percent.

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The Great British Sewing Bee

I’ve always been asked, “Are you the Mary Berry of sewing?” And I say no, I’m the May Martin of sewing. Mary’s an expert in her field and hopefully, the reason why we’ll be compared is because I’m an expert in my field.’

You can see the Queen Bee of Sewing, as she is sure to be crowned, in action this week when Martin, 61, casts her needle-sharp eye over the dressmaking triumphs (and the odd near disaster) of eight contestants taking part in BBC Two’s latest reality TV show, The Great British Sewing Bee. It promises to do for sewing what The Great British Bake Off did for the Victoria sponge.

Alongside Martin will be the suave and straight-speaking Patrick Grant, 41, who runs the Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons. There he presides over about 20 tailors, coat makers, cutters, waistcoat makers, trouser makers and finishers, and their apprentices, as well as his own off-the-peg menswear label, E Tautz. Together Martin and Grant will be judging three challenges an episode, covering every aspect of dressmaking, tailoring and alterations, for the next four weeks.

The show, presented by Claudia Winkleman, promises to be as inspiring as it will be entertaining, and Martin and the programme makers (Love Productions, who are applying the same formula they created for Bake Off to this series) hope we will all be reaching for the needle and thread and dusting off our sewing machines to become a nation of sewing enthusiasts.

May Martin is an unlikely TV star. She has been teaching sewing and dressmaking for 40 years, mostly in adult education, at various colleges and residential courses including the Women’s Institute college at Denman in Oxfordshire. ‘I’m used to facilitating people’s dreams, making things happen, putting them right, helping them through things,’ she told me from her home near Southampton. ‘The students will come in with a pattern and a piece of material and a little project in their minds, or just an idea, and I’m the person who makes it happen. Doing the Sewing Bee I had to look at things with a really critical eye. I had to remind myself that we are in a competition. But the hardest thing was having to send someone home, because they were all putting their hearts and souls into it.’

It was quickly apparent from the screen tests that Martin and Grant had the magic Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood chemistry. ‘We do look at different things. We are tolerant of different stuff,’ Grant said when I met him at his enormous warehouse studio space in London’s Docklands. ‘We got on really well. For the audition we had to judge a piece on camera and she picked out certain things and I picked out different stuff, so it worked.’

Martin – who wears all her own clothes throughout the series – is a classically trained seamstress with exacting standards, while Grant has more of a fashion eye, as well as an intricate knowledge of how clothes should fit. Norton & Sons makes about 300 bespoke suits a year; E Tautz, his menswear brand which has just launched a small range of shirts for women, is sold worldwide, from Barneys to Liberty. What is instantly apparent is that both the judges – and the contestants – are absolutely passionate about sewing and their craft.

While Martin confessed to feeling very much out of her comfort zone in front of the camera, the contestants themselves are an unlikely collection of TV stars. They range from Sandra, the 48-year-old hospital cleaner who is a dab hand at an invisible zip, to Stuart, 42, who teaches aerobics and makes curtains and does quilting in his spare time, and Mark, 42, the HGV mechanic who is also a Steampunk, dressing up in historical costumes such as his homemade interpretation of an 18th-century pirate outfit. He had never sewn a zip before Sewing Bee because, he explains, zips had not been invented in Victorian times.

France’s offshore wind power tenders

The French government has launched its second public tender for the construction of two circa-500MW capacity offshore wind farms, with an expected total investment of EUR3.35bn. The tender comes in the context of small but growing anti-nuclear sentiment, as well as the need to replace aging nuclear capacity and meet its 25GW wind power target by 2020.

France currently has 6GW of wind capacity. In 2011, wind generated 11.8TWh of power and contributed to 2.1% of the country’s total electricity generation. Nuclear generation currently dominates France’s electricity generation mix, making up 75% in 2012. However, under the leadership of the current socialist government, France aims to reduce the share of nuclear generation to 50% by 2025 and instead turn towards solar and wind energy.

In this context, the government has launched a fresh public tender for two 500MW-capacity offshore wind farms in northern France, near the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu on the Atlantic coast. France awarded the first tender for offshore wind farms in April 2012, which had a capacity of 2,000MW at an investment of EUR7bn.

22 out of the current 58 reactors in France will complete their lifespan by 2022, leaving the government with the option to either decommission or extend their lifespans. The significant reduction in nuclear generation desired by the government, growing anti-nuclear public sentiment in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and finally the high-capital costs of refurbishment are all factors driving the decision to shut down the aging reactors. Indeed, the Fessenheim 1 and 2 reactors located in northeastern France with a total capacity of 1,760MW, will be shut down by 2017.

France is a predominantly nuclear-led country; however, favorable policy and geographical conditions mean that it is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for renewable investment. Firstly, France has one of the strongest feed-in mechanisms in Europe promoting wind energy, especially for offshore projects: the feed-in tariff in France for offshore wind was EUR0.13/kWh in 2012, which has been constant since 2008. Secondly, France benefits from long coastlines including the English Channel, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, thereby allowing an average wind speed for offshore turbines of 13.5 knots.

These strategic advantages have motivated significant investments in wind, comprising of both domestic and foreign direct investment. For example Boralex, based in Canada, acquired the 32MW La Vallee wind power project located in the department of Indre, France, while German Enercon has also expanded its presence in the Picardy region in France. In 2013 France’s EDF acquired 321MW of wind capacity in partnership with GE Energy and MEAG, which is the asset management arm of Munich Re and ERGO. Foreign investment has also extended to the domestic supply chain, with Japanese and Danish technology giants such as NTN and Vestas having set up extensive turbine assembly sites in France.

Datamonitor expects wind energy to be instrumental in helping France to achieve its aim of 23% electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020, which will be an unavoidable part of the generation landscape if France is determined to reduce its nuclear capacity. With a debt-constrained EDF and some 25GW of wind capacity to be met by 2020, France would appear to be an obvious candidate for foreign utilities and component manufacturers looking to expand.

Riddle on the sands

My father was convinced that Somerton Man was an American because of his clothes, which he called “sharp”. He was wearing jockey shorts and a singlet, a white shirt with a narrow tie in red, white and blue, fawn trousers, a brown knitted pullover, a brown double-breasted suit coat, socks and highly polished brown, laced shoes. Snazzy.

Somerton Man was a snappy dresser, but it was a hot evening and he was wearing very heavy clothes for the weather, the ensemble of someone who had come from somewhere cold, or who had nowhere to leave a change of clothes, or no lighter clothes into which he could change. On examination of the clothes, it was found that every identifying label had been removed.

Somerton Man had no money in his pockets. If he’d had any, it had gone with his wallet – if he’d had a wallet. And, to complete our survey of his garments, folded up into a tight little wad in his fob pocket, there was a scrap of paper torn out of a book that bore the words “Tamam Shud”. Of which, more later.

Naked and cold, Somerton Man waited for his attending physician, whose task was to determine how he had died. Meanwhile, the police set about trying to find out who he was. Detective Strangway of Glenelg Station and his associates began by checking all the missing persons reports on hand, but Somerton Man fitted none of them. Then they checked his fingerprints, which were not on record.

So far, so inconclusive. Then, on January 14, in response to a police appeal for unclaimed baggage directed to all lodging houses, hotels and railway stations, a suitcase was found in a locker at Adelaide’s Central Railway Station.

The most exciting discovery in the suitcase was the sewing kit in which was found orange Barbour thread; it was not sold in Australia. Identical thread had been used to repair the pocket of Somerton Man’s coat. Waxed thread is not usually used to mend clothes: it must have been an emergency repair, intended to last only until he could lay hands on a seamstress. It seemed unlikely that the Barbour thread in the suitcase and the Barbour thread in Somerton Man’s coat were not connected, so the suitcase probably belonged to Somerton Man. Also, the clothes were his size and the slippers would fit his feet.

And some of the garments in the suitcase actually had labels with a name on them. There must have been cautious rejoicing among the exasperated police at that point, although they should have known it was too good to be true. The name, written on a singlet, a laundry bag and a tie, was T. Keane. Or possibly T. Kean. The call went out and a local sailor named Tom Reade was said to be missing. Was Somerton Man perhaps Tom Reade?

But when Tom Reade’s shipmates viewed the body, they all said that it was not their Tom Reade. Meanwhile widespread searches through maritime agencies had revealed that no one was missing a T. Keane or Kean.

The clothes were all examined by experts. The police called in a tailor, Hugh Possa of Gawler Place, who explained that the careful construction of the coat, with feather-stitching done by machine, was definitely American, as only the US garment industry used a feather-stitching machine. So the clothes were very high-value schmutter indeed. Such coats, the police were informed, were not imported. They were made up to a certain stage and then could be quickly tailored to the figure, the sort of thing which might be bought by someone who wasn’t staying long in port, but was willing to pay a high price for a beautifully made, hand-finished suit. From which he then removed the label.

Somerton Man also had very snazzy taste in nightwear. His pyjamas and gown were brightly coloured, and his felt slippers were red. Such things were a mark of a free spirit. Men of the time might have considered these garments to be outrageous, even effeminate.