Is your college ready to Greenify?

September 3, 2008

September is here. Labor Day has come and gone. Colleges and Universities around the country are welcoming students back to campus for the start of the academic year. It's time to hit the books, start studying and try to get good grades. While you are spending time in the library and on the computer, do you wonder whether your college is making the grade in an effort to Greenify?

Well now you can find out thanks in part ot the Princeton Review which recently added a green rating to its annual ranking of the best colleges. This score measures how "environmentally friendly, responsible, and committed the institutions are."

Here is a list of the univerisities that scored 99 out of a possible 100:

  • Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Bates College
  • Binghamton University
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Emory University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Washington
  • Yale University

The complete list is in the 2009 editions of the Princeton Review college books.


Greening of the US Open Tennis Event

August 26, 2008

A few years ago, the famed US Open Tennis Grand Slam resurfaced the courts and made them blue. This year the tournament is going green. The USTA is putting into place a series of “green” initiatives. Their goal is to reduce the environmental impact of the US Open while at the same time, educating tennis fans about the benefits of being more eco-friendly. As they mentioned in the press release, "More than 700,000 fans annually visit the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the two weeks of the US Open, so if everyone lends a hand, these initiatives can potentiallymake a real difference."

Some highlights of the steps they are taking to Greenify the event include:

  • Constellation Energy (who also happens to be the official REC partner of Green Business Alliance), the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's electricity supplier, will supply Green-e Certified wind Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the electricity consumption during the 2008 US Open
  • Recycling the tennis ball cans and the tennis balls after the tournament
  • Purchasing 2.4 million 90% post-consumer waste napkins to be used in the food pavillion
  • Implementing an aluminum and plastic bottle recycling program on the grounds
  • Reducing the numbers of computer servers being used throughout the tournament

As they say at the bottom of their Green web page, "Please do your part. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It would be great if everyone could leave the 2008 US Open with golden memories—and an appreciation for all things green."


Green School Building

August 22, 2008

The first day of school is always exciting. This year, for some of our local kids there was an added bonus - a Green School Year. A new lower school building that is LEED certified. Brand new construction, brand new LEED Certifcation! Exciting.

What does this really mean for the kids? As the head of the lower school noted in an email (note...not a paper flier in the backpack), "In line with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards the new music floor will be sealed with a water based finish. Indeed there have been no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) used during the construction. In addition, the natural light from the solar tubes and the excellent air quality provided by the 100% fresh air drawn in by our main roof top A/C units will provide an exceptionally healthy environment."

The floors on the main entry have river rock and recycled colored glass mixed in the polished concrete. In addition, the toilets have a 'special' flush according to my youngest child. The great news is that this seems to be a trend across the country...more schools are planning on building LEED certified when planning their expansions and current building projects. As the kids say, the new school year has begun. As a parent I think, the new Green school year has begun!


Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Disclosure

August 11, 2008

Have you heard that 30 US Cities around the country are going to join together with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability to voluntarily report their greenhouse gas emissions and other climate change-relevant data? Cities are actually going to be publicly measured and disclose their "green-ness" as it relates to GHGs (Greenhouse Gas Emissions).

Thus far, 21 cities have been announced as participants. There are still 9 other cities pending announcement. The cities who publicly announced their intent to participate are: Albany, NY, Albuquerque, NM, Anchorage, AK, Arlington, VA, Burlington, VT, Denver, CO, Dubuque, IA, Edina, MN, Fairfield, IA, Haverford, PA, Las Vegas, NV, New Orleans, LA, New York, NY, North Little Rock, AR, Pacific Grove, CA, Park City, UT, Portland, OR, Rohnert Park, CA, St. Paul, MN, Washougal, WA, and West Palm Beach, FL. 

There is hope for a more sustainable future. If cities across the US are thinking in terms of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and how to Greenify Today for a Better Tomorrow, shouldn't you be doing the same at home and at work?!


Did you know this Green fact?

August 5, 2008

I recently received an inquiry from someone who was trying to Greenify his office. He wanted to know how much paper is made from one tree. Do you have a guess? How many pounds of paper are made from one tree?

The answer is about 118 pounds. So for every 118 pounds of paper you print, copy, throw-out, scribble on or even eat and drink from (as in paper plates and cups), one tree has to be chopped down.

Just a little Tuesday trivia for you. Think twice before using paper products at home or printing documents unnecessarily. Trees are much more aesthetic in the forest rather than in white sheets on your desk!


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Greenify Your Morning Coffee

July 29, 2008

I discovered a new way to greenify my mornings! You’ve heard of Fair Trade, shade grown and organically grown coffee. And now there is Solar Roast! Two brothers in Pueblo, CO roast coffee via the sun. Four years ago, Dave and Mike invented a solar coffee roaster using mirrors, a broccoli steamer and a satellite dish. Today they are the only commercial solar coffee roasters in the world. They have a coffee shop in Pueblo and also sell their coffee via retail and wholesale. As far as I could tell, only the Tanzania Peaberry is certified organic. Interestingly enough, carbon neutral roasting doesn’t take much longer than more conventional roasting.

One company has decided to revert back to the sailing days of old to beat fuel prices. The French shipping outfit Compagnie de Transport Maritime a la Volle (CMTV) chartered the Kathleen & May, a 106 year old tall ship, to transport 30,000 bottles of wine from Southern France to Dublin. The ship travels at half the speed of a modern cargo vessel at a top speed of 8 knots and emits exactly zero carbon dioxide. One could say that the voyage was a gimmick in order for the wine producers to Greenify their labels, but ultimately, the tall shops could turn into an economically viable means of transportation as oil prices keep increasing. CMTV has chartered four other ships to transport Fair Trade coffee (hear that Solar Roast?), jams and alcoholic beverages. Start your day off right and Greenify your morning cup of coffee!


Five Green Myths

July 21, 2008

Myth: Screen savers save energy

Maybe. Screen savers were developed to prevent images from being burned into old CRT monitors (hence the name “screen saver”). LCD monitors are the most commonly used monitors these days and do not run the risk of images burning in. If your screen saver is blank – i.e. - black, yes, you will save some energy.

A better choice: Hibernate or sleep mode will save the most energy after actually turning your computer off.


Myth: Earth friendly groceries cost more and are always better for the environment

It depends. If you are buying organic vegetables grown on another continent or across the country, chances are they will indeed cost more than conventionally grown vegetables. And if you take into account the fuel used in transporting the vegetables to you, not much good is being done for the environment. On the other hand, if you visited a farmer’s market and purchased locally grown vegetables, the prices may be even lower than conventional vegetable grocery store prices. And with no added transportation, local vegetables are definitely better for the environment.

Another choice: Grow your own vegetables. Even an apartment balcony can hold a container or two of tomatoes or herbs.


Myth: Save gas by not using your car’s air conditioning

No, drag from open windows makes your car less aerodynamic and thus less efficient. If you are driving slowly in town, you may save a little by not using your air conditioning.

Other choices: Save gas by keeping your car properly tuned up, carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation.

Myth: It doesn’t matter what I do. I can’t save the planet alone

Small steps add up. One ream of 100 % recycled uncoated copy paper will save 40,000 BTU’s of energy, 5.3 pounds of greenhouse gases, 21.3 gallons of water and .6 trees. There are approximately 24 million businesses in the US. If each firm used only one ream of 100% recycled copy paper a year  - 960 billion BTU’s would be saved, 1.272 billion pounds of greenhouses gases saved, 5.112 billion gallons of water and 1.44 million trees.


Myth: There is only one way to Greenify

Nope. There are definitely better choices than others; but the number of ways to Greenify is only limited by our imagination. While it is true that corn and soybeans are not very efficient crops to turn into biodiesel, canola, hemp, flax and algae are. And that is only one example of looking for alternatives. I have been watching a new Wal-Greens being built in my neighborhood and cringe every time I look inside. I’d love to see some solar tubes being utilized to capture some daylight rather the fluorescent lights I see being installed.


Hawaii is Greenifying

July 17, 2008

Hawaii is making headlines in recent eco-news. 85% of Hawaii’s energy now comes from imported fossil fuels, but the tide is turning. New home construction is now required to include solar water heaters. Hawaii is the first state to mandate the solar water heaters, and about 20% of homes are currently equipped with them. Water heaters generally consume a quarter to almost half of all household power, although solar water heaters are almost ten times as expensive as traditional water heaters, the electric savings will recoup the expense in a few years.

Next in the eco-news is air conditioning. Downtown Honolulu will soon be welcoming a 25,000 ton seawater air conditioning district cooling system developed by Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning. The process should save up to 80 % of the electricity used for air conditioning. The process will actually only use the coolness of the sea water, rather than the actual sea water.

Another interesting project in the works is the development of an algae biodiesel plant. Algae may prove to be the best source of bio fuel we have available. The energy yield in an acre of algae is estimated to be at least 30 times more than that of soy beans or almost 13 times the amount of energy from corn. HR Biopetroleum is currently in negotiations with Maui Electric, Hawaiian Electric and Alexander and Baldwin to develop an algae facility in Maui.

Hawaii is still big on vacation plans and hoteliers are no strangers to greenifying. The Mauna Lani Resort was recently recognized by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, National Geographic Traveler Magazine and Golf Magazine for their eco-practices. Other green-friendly hotels include the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, the Kauai Marriott Resort and Spa, the nine Hilton properties and the 12 Starwood properties.

So, whether you are in Hawaii to work or play, your chances to Greenify are many!


More Ways to Greenify your Commute

July 15, 2008

Social networking has been helping us make new friends, find partners or new jobs. And now, the latest incarnation of social networking will help to greenify your commute! GoLoco.org is a new service, started by the same woman who founded ZipCar, which help you create your own personal public transportation network.

Coming to a car dealership near you in 2009 is the Th!nk City and the Th!nk Ox (yes, there really is an exclamation point there) 10,000 Th!nk City auto’s will be for sale in Europe during 2008 and Th!nk is planning on reaching the US market in 2009. The cars sell for about $25,000.00. The City charges overnight and can travel 124 miles on a single charge. The Ox which will be in production during 2010 will be able to travel between 125 miles and 155 miles on a single charge. Solar panels imbedded in the roof will keep the radio, instrument panel, air conditioning and navigation system fully charged.

You probably won't want to commute to work in a ZeroTruck, but if you own a delivery service, you might want to check it out. ZeroTrucks, a medium payload truck, will be launched during the fall of 2008 at the South Bay Truck Center in Carson, CA. The zero-emission electric truck has a 100 mile range, will charge overnight
and can haul between 4,000 and 6,000 pounds.


Green Resources Part 2

July 10, 2008

New links to Greenify have been coming our way fast and furiously. The Clothesnik from Reusenik.com eliminates the need for plastic bags from the dry cleaner. Simply take your clothes to the dry cleaners in the bag and ask them to use the 100% cotton bag to cover your clothes with when the clothes are cleaned. You will be in good company- Rob Reiner is a devotee!

An ingenious dance club Club 4 Climate is opening up this week in London. Club 4 Climate will waive the entry fee to any club goer who can prove they arrived via foot, bicycle or public transit. Green standards of low voltage lighting, organic and fair trade beverages and recycled materials are employed throughout the club as well as a grey water system to flush the toilets. But what really makes Club 4 Climate unique is where the power comes from. 60% of the power used is generated via the dance floor.

The British are on a roll this week. The BBC is looking for a UK-based couple getting married in 2008 and planning a green wedding. If you qualify and want to participate, contact Mark Wheeler at the BBC (mark.wheeler@bbc.co.uk).

And in other international green news, The Green School is opening up in Bali for pre-schoolers through 8th grade. The school is remarkably sustainable with organic vegetable and permaculture gardens; using a variety of organic materials to produce electricity; aquaculture ponds and more. They plan to accept international boarding students in the 7th grade and up.

And finally, the Kiwi from PLX Devices will help greenify your driving. The Kiwi is a diagnostic tool which can evaluate any inefficient driving patterns. It is reputed to save you up to 33% of your fuel usage!


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