Just over a week ago my bureau chief said, “Can we talk.” Oh boy, I thought. Is this about turning down the assistant oil editor position, which I had rejected about a week prior very bluntly, having little interest in covering oil policy and business (my exact words: “I have zero interest in oil” – which wasn’t entirely true, I have interest in cleaning up oil and new fossil fuel technologies; but I didn’t want to show a crack in case he made it an open door).
We sat down in the conference room. “So would you be interested in going to the Netherlands for a week to cover renewables?” he said instead.
Why yes, I would be very interested, I said.
Which is why I am now blogging from Amsterdam. My day yesterday: stumbling around like a jet-lagged zombie but still managing to gape at the amazing Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum, scarfing down a pancake while thinking who on earth decided to put ham, Camembert cheese, and raspberry jam on such a thing, and why do I order things like this, and succumbing to the fact that I would not be able to go shopping if I’m also to get a semblance of sleep in 36 hours before dinner with the journalistic troupe I’m to travel with.
My day today:
Woke up 8 minutes before meeting time. Oh boy. It is time to turbo get ready because I sure plan on eating my favorite meal of the day, breakfast.
First meeting: Green IT Amsterdam. They are a non-profit that helps companies and partner organizations implement energy efficiency projects. They especially work with data centers. The Netherlands hosts a lot of data centers, those power guzzling things, made possible because of cheap power from abundant natural gas in the country. So turning those data centers to greener, but more expensive renewable energy is one of their challenges. Fun fact from the meeting: The Netherlands was the first place outside of the United States to get an internet connection. So they’re big on IT!
Second meeting: De Groene Grachten (Green Canals) foundation. We met at a swanky hotel, where they are working on installing a rooftop garden. They already have one above the gym, though since the gym is in the basement you don’t realize that it’s a rooftop garden. (It looks pretty cool – I plan to post pictures.) To address city density, CO2 emissions, and flooding issues Amsterdam plans to utilize its roofs for solar panels, gardens, and buffering for flooding. They have 5 pilot projects around the city to restore old buildings into more sustainable buildings.
Third meeting: Over lunch, Geert Kloppenburg from Urgenda came to speak with us. Urgenda is an action organization which wants to do more than talk about sustainability in the Netherlands.
Fourth meeting: Amsterdam Smart City. Amsterdam Smart City was initiated by the city’s economic board, the city, Liander and KPN to change Amsterdam into a smart city. Now smart cities is an awesome topic and I’m totally interested, but by this time jetlag + post lunch was catching up with me so I confess I don’t have a whole lot of notes. They did great presentations though.
Ok that’s it for today. Tomorrow we’ll be leaving Amsterdam to drive to other parts of the Netherlands.