2014 Community Biomass Handbook Volume 1

It’s not everyday a member of the President’s Cabinet announces one of your products, but on Earth Day, 2014, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did just that (press release). You can “buy” this free iBook here on the Apple iTunes Bookstore.


In late 2012, Dennis Becker of the University of Minnesota, Department of Forest Resources (one of the country’s leading experts on biomass policy and related social issues) invited me to join his team to create a decision support tool to assist communities that are considering biomass. That turned into the Community Biomass Handbook – an iBook that included photographs, videos, and an interactive financial calculator to quickly assess whether or not biomass might make sense for the community.

Eini Lowell, research scientist with the US Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Oregon, was both the funder and one of the key architects of the book. The other key contributors were Roy Anderson (biomass technology expert), and Steve Taff (economist and developer of the financial equations used in the calculator).

The iBook demonstrates the power of the emerging Publication standards. It also demonstrates some the limitations as of early 2014 – all of the features only work on Apple products (though most of the content works everywhere).