Green is not just the color of money, it is the color of social-responsibility

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Penguins Go Green

Fans attending the Pittsburgh Penguins' home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 7 will notice that differences between Consol Energy Center and the Civic Arena go beyond the obvious.

Sniff the air; it'll be cleaner, fresher. Look up; sunlight will pour through windows. Check out the faucets and toilets in the restrooms; they'll use less water.

The Pens' new home will be among the most, if not the most, environmentally friendly arenas in the nation, said Jason Carmello, an architect with Populous, the Kansas City, Mo., firm that designed Consol Energy Center.

"We're trying to get to the highest LEED-certified level of any arena in America," Carmello said.

LEED is a green-building certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington. It verifies a structure was designed and built using methods that improve energy savings and water efficiency, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and conserve resources.

"We're hoping for LEED gold, which would be unusual for a building of this size," said Catherine Sheane the sustainable-design manager for Astorino, a Downtown firm that provides architecture, engineering and landscape and interior design services. The center is about 700,000 square feet, she said.

"We hope to hear before the end of August," said Sheane, who has managed the LEED certification process for Consol Energy Center.

To attain the gold standard, the team that designed and built the arena must score at least 39 points on the Washington-based Green Building Certification Institute's scale, Sheane said.

"We submitted documentation for 43 points," she said. "We're hoping that's enough of a cushion."

Items garnering points include diverting waste from landfills; using recycled building materials; using sustainably harvested and processed wood; and using materials that reflect rather than absorb sunlight, to reduce heat absorption.

Contractors diverted 93.7 percent of the arena's waste from landfills, Sheane said.

"We separated what could be recycled and what could not be," said Theresa McCue, a project engineer, who tracked and logged more than 85 percent of the diverted waste. "The fact that we got that high was amazing. It's wonderful."    read full story

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Green Back To School Tips

The summer is half way over and many kids will be returning to school in the next few weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to share some Green Back To School Tips.

Back to school is the perfect time not only for digging out that alarm clock, but also for adopting some greener habits you and your whole family can practice all year long.

Below are some tips worthy of a green star.

1. Take Inventory and Avoid Duplicates

It might be exciting to enter the back-to-school section of your local retailer—so many shiny things and bright colors! But don’t be tempted to buy more than you need. First, check what you already have in stock.
Did your child really use all 500 sheets of paper you bought last year? Is every single pencil worn down to the nub?   Do you really need a new ruler (the measurements haven't changed over the summer, you know) or a package of 68 pens?
Make a list of what you absolutely know you need, what you think you might need, and what you want, and carefully consider which items go in which section of the list. Once your list is complete only buy what you really need for the year and the amount of “stuff” you don’t bring home will be astonishing.

2. Purchase Recycled

It’s unavoidable: You will have to buy some things for the upcoming school year. Many retailers  offer recycled products.  Instead of a regular pencil case, how about one from TerraCycle made out of juice drink pouches.
Just be sure to check your recycled school supplies for durability and minimal packaging.

3. Go the Used Route

Nothing signals the back-to-school season more than a mountain of shiny new books, right?  Not necessarily. If you’re looking to reduce your waste—and the total at the bottom of your receipts—seriously consider buying used, opting for online or renting.
Used textbooks are often available for half off or more in campus bookstores, and Web sites. Amazon carries a broad selection of used titles. Some schools are even experimenting with online textbooks, reducing both your costs and strain on your backpack. Renting textbooks is also another growing option.

4. Swap and Sell

 Somehow in the last year those shorts got way too short. Every school year demands a new wardrobe, but this doesn’t automatically have to mean a shopping spree at the mall. Organize a clothing swap among your friends; you can pass on those tiny shorts to another grateful parent and your child could end up with a Spider-Man T-shirt.

Hand-me-downs are a great place to get started. Thrift stores and second hand stores can be  fun and  a cheap way to send your kiddies back to school in low-impact duds. Style-conscious teens can find gently used but still ultra-hip clothes at  second hand stores. 

Even if your school requires uniforms, everyone will be just as happy to trade in their old for “new.” Same goes for flea markets, consignment shops and thrift stores. Someone’s old skinny jeans could become your daughter’s new favorite fashion statement.

5. Walking, Biking, Busing: Green Transportation to School

Going green while getting back and forth to school offers a familiar refrain: human power -- walking or biking -- is best; riding the bus is next; driving alone is last.  If walking, biking, or busing aren't in the cards, be sure to divide the ride and start a parent carpool.
 You could even arrange a "walkpool,” chaperoning a group on foot to and from school. You’ll save on gas, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, get some exercise and maybe make some new friends in the process.

 6. Think Outside the Lunch-Box
 Don't brown bag it; instead opt for a washable, reusable container to tote your lunch too and from. Just make sure to avoid vinyl lunch boxes which have been shown to contain harmful levels of lead. Instead, invest in a PVC-free, thermally insulated lunch bag. Instead of using baggies and plastic wrap for sandwiches and snacks, use reusable plastic containers.  The Laptop Lunch box system is also a solid choice for reusable lunch-packing, and includes individual containers and beverage holders.
Just by eliminating all that daily wasted plastic and paper, your child could save 67 pounds of garbage a year.

7. Do Your Part

Even if you’ve forgotten how to do long division, you can still teach your kids to recycle when you’re not around. Inquire if your school has a recycling program, and if the answer is yes, explain to your children how to use it.

8. Monitor Electronics

Computers, calculators, printers—it seems like a lot of school supplies nowadays plug in or run on batteries. Even if your child has mastered turning the lights out when they leave a room, there are two more ways to conserve energy even when their gadgets are off. Purchase rechargeable batteries instead of new, and invest in a Smart Power Strip.
At $30 to $40, it’s a bit pricier than a typical power strip, but it’s completely worth it. This strip stops drawing electricity from appliances that are turned off, meaning you don’t have to remember to switch the strip on and off every time. Sounds like something that could be useful all over the house, doesn’t it?

 Do This Stuff All Year
Greening your back to school experience is a great way to start the year, and a great way to make progress toward a sustainable lifestyle, but there's no reason to stop after the year has just started. Apply the lessons you've learned preparing to go back to school to other parts of your non-scholastic life, and, when it comes time to re-supply, follow the tips to stay prepared, organized, and green.

Article sources #1:
Article sources #2:

On another note  I must say its good to be back. My blog was disabled , I was told it was S**M, I don't even want to use that word on here. Thankfully everything has been straightened out and I hope I haven't lost many followers in past the 19 days.  Anyway, good to be back........

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Solar-Powered Plane Flies for 26 Hours

 As we find more and more ways to save energy and help save the environment we continue to look at the devices we use for everyday travel as a way to implement greener energy. One such device for travel is the airplane.

 The airplane is something that not many people have thought about making greener, but with this new invention it may not be long and we may go off the use of jet fuel as we know it.
The solar plane Impulse has landed after over a 26 hour flight in the skies over Switzerland.
The Impulse which has a 210 foot wingspan, was powered by  a bank of 12,000 solar cells, which kept batteries charged for electric power for the engine.

According to the New York Times:

Slender as a stick insect, a solar-powered experimental airplane with a huge wing span completed its first test flight of more than 24 hours on Thursday, powered overnight by energy collected from the sun during a day aloft over Switzerland.

The organizers said the flight was the longest and highest by a piloted solar-powered craft, reaching an altitude of just over 28,000 feet above sea level at an average speed of 23 knots, around 26 miles per hour.

The plane — Solar Impulse — landed where it had taken off 26 hours and 9 minutes earlier at Payerne, 30 miles southwest of the capital, Bern, after gliding and looping over the Jura Mountains, its 12,000 solar cells absorbing energy to keep its batteries charged when the sun went down.

The pilot, André Borschberg, 57, a former Swiss air force fighter pilot, flew the plane from a cramped, single-seat cockpit, buffeted by low-level turbulence after takeoff and chilled by low temperatures overnight.

“I’ve been a pilot for 40 years now, but this flight has been the most incredible one of my flying career,” Mr. Borschberg said as he landed, according to a statement from the organizers of the project. “Just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun. I have just flown more than 26 hours without using a drop of fuel and without causing any pollution.”

The project’s co-founder, Dr. Bertrand Piccard, who himself achieved fame by completing the first nonstop, round-the-world flight by hot air balloon in 1999, embraced the pilot after he landed the plane to the cheers of hundreds of supporters.

“When you took off it was another era,” The Associated Press quoted Dr. Piccard as saying. “You land in a new era where people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things.”

The project’s designers had set out to prove that, theoretically at least, the plane with its airliner-size, 208-foot wingspan could stay aloft indefinitely, recharging batteries during the day and using the stored power overnight. “We are on the verge of the perpetual flight,” Dr. Piccard said.

The project’s founders say their ambition is for one of their craft to fly around the world using solar power. The propeller-driven Solar Impulse, made of carbon fiber, is powered by four small electric motors and weighs around 3,500 pounds. During its 26-hour flight, the plane reached a maximum speed of 68 knots, or 78 miles per hour, the organizers said.

The seven-year-old project is not intended to replace jet transportation — or its comforts.

Just 17 hours after takeoff, a blog on the project’s Web site reported, “André says he’s feeling great up there.”

It continued: “His only complaints involve little things like a slightly sore back as well as a 10-hour period during which it was minus 20 degrees Celsius in the cockpit.

“That made his drinking water system freeze up and worse of all his iPod batteries die.”
See Full Story

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Greener Way To Ship

UPS recently became the first small package carrier to offer carbon offsets to customers. Now the shipping company is upping the ante by expanding its carbon neutral shipping program internationally to over 35 countries. The service is cheap, ranging from 5 cents to 75 cents, and easy, too--it requires customers to just check a box during the online shipping process. But does it make sense?

UPS claims that its carbon offsets take all steps of the shipping process into account, including air and ground fleets, emissions from UPS facilities, and fuel used by companies that provide delivery services to UPS. The company is also working hard to ensure the reliability of its program, which purchases Gold Standard, Voluntary Carbon Standard, and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) certified offsets, as well as to European Union Allowances and Certified Emission Reduction offsets. The whole thing is overseen by the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) and the Carbon Neutral Company, to boot.

We're skeptical of carbon offsets as a general rule--it's difficult to ensure that offsetting projects stand the test of time and there isn't a quality standard that offsetters have to adhere to (UPS is using a number of different standards). But while some companies believe that offsetting simply encourages customers to consume more, UPS's customers probably won't decide whether or not to ship a package based on the availability of carbon offsets. In this case, it's hard to see a downside to the program--just as long as UPS continues to track its carbon offset projects over the years.   Source  fastcompany

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Monday, July 5, 2010

"Energy Star" Label Graces Churches for Efficiency

 Caring for the Earth and reducing energy expenses are two of the reasons some area churches are focusing on going green.

A church in Massachusetts is the latest to receive the EPA's "Energy Star" label for congregations as the agency pushes to make thousands of houses of worship more energy efficient.

Old and new intersect at First Parish church in Massachusetts, which holds 18th-century timber in its walls and displays proof of its 21st-century energy efficiency with an "Energy Star" plaque by the door.

"Energy Star" status, more commonly associated with dishwashers and refrigerators, is now available to houses of worship as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency looks to lower energy use at thousands of congregations nationwide.

First Parish in Needham is one of just nine congregations in the nation with the designation, which it won after a recent multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation.

Among its upgrades: temperature controls for each room so energy isn't wasted in areas that aren't being used; a ventilation system that adjusts to the number of people inside by measuring the carbon dioxide being exhaled; new insulation in the meeting house walls, which are partly supported by beams from the church's original 1774 building.

As churches consider new efficiency upgrades, the EPA hopes they tap into the same ancient religious principle - good stewardship of the earth - that drove First Parish.

"It's a spiritual issue," said The Rev. John Buehrens, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist church. "Stewardship of the planet and a realization of the fragility of the creation and our responsibility of preserving its beauty is absolutely central to our religious values."

The United States has an estimated 370,000 houses of worship, nearly the number of its K-12 school buildings.

Some buildings seem primed for big improvement, such as the stately churches with high ceilings and leaky windows that are common in buildings in New England town squares. But Michael Zatz, EPA Energy Star commercial buildings manager, said older churches aren't necessarily far less efficient than newer buildings. Instead, he said, focusing on churches can have broad impact.

"The people sitting in those congregations are workers in ... other places - teachers in the schools, managers of hotels - and they might learn through the congregation about what can be done in buildings in general and take it into their workplace," he said. "They also may take it back to their home."

The EPA has reached out to congregations since 1999. But it just began awarding the Energy Star label in October. Before then, a periodic federal building survey hadn't reviewed enough houses of worship to allow the EPA to draw up Energy Star scores for that building type, Zatz said.

So far nine congregations from Alabama to Michigan have won the label. Variables such as a building's size, location and energy use over a year are plugged into a formula. The building's actual energy usage is then compared to what the formula predicts it will use. If it's more efficient than 75 percent of similar houses of worship, it's eligible for the Energy Star label. A licensed engineer must also verify the numbers.

Montevallo Presbyterian Church in Montevallo, Ala., earned the label after an assembly hall renovation completed in 2008. The work included such changes as installing energy efficient appliances, switching to better insulated windows and putting the water heater on a timer so that it's on only when needed, said the church's "Green Team" leader, Bill Peters.

Peters said the church is heeding Biblical commands to care for creation, but also wanted to decrease the impact of a nearby coal-burning power plant.

"The more electricity we consume, the more that that power plant has to pollute our air," Peters said.

After its efficiency upgrades, First Parish in Needham saw a significant drop in its utility bill, which fell from $20,000 to $12,000 in a year. Even after such significant savings, it will take years to make a dent in what it paid to make energy efficiency a priority in its $3.3 million renovation. But good environmental stewardship was the point, not cutting bills, Buehrens said.

"You don't spend $3.3 million in order to cut your utility bill in half," he said. "You do it for a much bigger set of reasons."

Zatz said congregations generally don't need a lot of money to get big gains in efficiency. Simple steps often mean a lot, he said.

"The most common one you hear, and it sounds silly but many people don't do it, is: 'Turn off the lights when you leave,'" Zatz said.    Via Huffington Post

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Obama Backs Giant Solar Project

As reported by The Associated Press, in this morning’s weekly radio address President Obama has just announced that almost $2 billion in federal funding for solar energy and green jobs is in the pipeline.  The money will go to construct solar power installations in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana.
One of the firms, Abenoga Solar, says that it is planning to build the largest solar power plant in the world in Arizona.

Mr Obama said the projects would provide more than 5,000 new jobs.

The Arizona plant should power 70,000 homes and cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The money will come from government stimulus funds designed to boost the economy during the recession.

Outlining the "Solana" project at Gila Bend near Phoenix, Abenoga said it would have an area of 1,900 acres, using thermal storage-equipped parabolic trough technology, with 280 MW of power output capacity.

According to the company's website, 1,500 new jobs will be created during the plant's construction with 100 positions for staff to maintain it.

The second company, Abound Solar Manufacturing, will manufacture state-of-the-art thin film solar panels, the first time anywhere that such technology has been used commercially, the BBC's Jane O'Brien reports from Washington.

Plants will be built in Colorado and Indiana, creating 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs, the Associated Press reports.

President Obama had promised during his election campaign for the White House to create manufacturing and construction jobs in the green power industry.

"We're going to to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America," he said on Saturday.

The renewable energy industry in the US faces tough competition from developers in China.

Mr Obama also acknowledged the loans would not be an instant solution.

Around 125,000 jobs were lost in the last month, the government reported.

Via BBC News

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Being Green Helps Save The Environment

Everyone knows "being green" helps save the environment. However, many still have a misconception that it's impossible to protect the planet and save money, too.

Whether it's turning off the water while brushing your teeth, unplugging electronics when they're not in use or turning off the lights when you leave the room, adopting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle on a budget is easier than you think.

Below are a few simple ideas to make green living a part of your lifestyle.

  •  Consider buying locally grown food to reduce the carbon emissions produced by long-distance transport.
  •  Install water filters on your tap-water faucets. This reduces plastic bottle waste and may save you money in the long run.

  •  Use rechargeable batteries and recycle your disposable ones to keep them out of landfills.

  •  Pack lunches to cut down on takeout containers. Taking lunch rather than buying takeout at work or school will also save your family money.

  •  Drive Less,  Drive Smart, Car Pool......Every time you leave your car at home you reduce air pollution, lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve your health and save money. 
  •  Pay Your Bills Online......Many banks, utilities and other businesses  offer their customers the option of paying bills online, eliminating the need to write and mail paper checks or to keep paper records. By paying your bills online you can save time and money, lower the administrative costs of companies with which you do business, and reduce global warming by helping to prevent deforestation. 
  • Stop junk mail
There are many more ways to be green and help the environment.
These 8 tips can help you get started.
How many more can you think of?

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Green Schools Growing in California

Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school district in the nation, and now they are working toward becoming the greenest.

A year long effort to bring gardens to their mostly concrete and asphalt schools has taken the education of LAUSD students to a new level. By providing hands on experience with gardening, the students -- 77% of whom live in poverty -- are being led by example toward a more sustainable and economically practical future.

In addition to the gardens, LAUSD is installing solar panels at 90 of their campuses which will save the district $5 million in energy costs every year.  Via HuffingtonPost

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

China Sweetens Prices of Green Cars to Boost Sales

China will offer new subsidies for fuel efficient vehicles that can boost vehicle sales by more than four million units by 2012, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

The government will provide 3,000 Chinese yuan ($441) to consumers who buy fuel efficient cars with engine capacities of 1.6 liters or less and use 20 percent less fuel than current models, reported.

The scheme can reportedly generate more than 400 billion Chinese yuan in vehicle sales by 2012, help reduce 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save 750 million liters of fuel.
The commission confirmed that 71 green vehicle models have qualified for the fuel subsidies. These include models from 16 Chinese automobile manufacturers, including BYD Automobile Limited (HKG: 1211) and Chongqing Changan Automobile Company (SZSE:000625), as well as joint ventures involving Hyundai Motor Corporation (LSE:HYUD) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F).

China, the world’s largest auto market, is banking on green vehicles to reduce pollution and save energy. The government previously unveiled plans to invest up to 10 billion Chinese yuan to develop new energy vehicles that will help them achieve its target of deploying 500,000 to 1 million green cars by 2015.
Earlier this June, the government rolled out its trial incentive program for fuel efficient vehicles in the cities of Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Changchun and Hefei.

Under the subsidy scheme, buyers of wholly-electric vehicles will receive 60,000 Chinese yuan, while buyers of plug-in hybrid cars will get 50,000 Chinese yuan. However, the incentives will not go directly to the buyers but to the automakers, as they will reduce the actual price of the vehicles accordingly.

While the process is deemed easier, issues in transparency and policy implementation and supervision may arise, said Jia Xinguang, an independent auto industry consultant.

The five-city pilot scheme can cover nearly one-third of the price of BYD’s F3MD hybrid passenger vehicle worth 100,000 Chinese yuan to 130,000 Chinese yuan, said Xu An, the company’s spokesman.

Industry analysts also predict that the program will increase shares of lithium-ion battery manufacturers in the domestic market, particularly between 2011 and 2015 when automakers will have produced first-generation green vehicle models.

However, the scheme will have limited effect on the auto industry as of the moment due to its small coverage. “If the subsidy plan applies only to a few cities, it won’t fully boost new energy vehicle consumption in China,” said Kevin Wale, president and chief executive of General Motors China.

Wang Jianjun, BYD vice president agreed, saying that the growth of the industry also depends on consumers’ familiarity with green vehicles. Businesses also need to establish related services such as recharging stations.

Taking these into consideration, BYD decided to produce only 1,000 green cars this year, with no immediate plans to mass produce.

Another potential problem for the deployment of new energy vehicles is the cost. Even with government subsidies, most green vehicles will cost 200,000 Chinese yuan per unit, which is more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts, noted Zhao Hang, director of China Automotive Technology Research Center.

“The fact that new energy vehicles are still in the trial stage is the major reason why the subsidy program is only carried out in five cities,” he continued.

Mr. Zhao also emphasized that the government should increase subsidies to enable companies to accelerate technical development and help raise the competitiveness of EV’s against conventional fuel cars.   Source Ecoseed

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