Green Communities

July 25, 2008

How much more Green could one be than to live in a community powered completely by alternative energy? There are several communities where you can do just that if you so desire.

Johnny Depp’s island may be getting most of the press this week. Three years ago, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star purchased a 35 acre island in the Bahamas. Now Depp is purchasing a solar hydrogen energy system from New Jersey engineer Mike Strizki. The system first generates electricity via solar cells. Excess electricity powers an electrolyzer which separates a tank of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere and the hydrogen is stored, to be used in the winter or other times when the solar panels do not generate enough electricity. The price tag makes this system less than practical for most, ranging from $250,000 - $500,000, depending on the size of the home.

Rock Port, Missouri has become the first US town to be solely powered via wind generators owned by the Loess Hill Wind Farm. The rural town of 1,300 is in the midst of 75 wind turbines spread over three counties. However, only 4 turbines are needed to power all of Rock Port.

Drake Landing, a bedroom community of 52 homes, in Alberta, Canada is powered solely by solar energy. 800 solar panels line garage roofs supply 1.5 megawatts of electricity on a typical summer day. The homes have other green features including upgraded insulation, recycled materials incorporated into the drywall, superior insulation and more.

Rizhao, China is another solar powered city. Solar water heaters are used by 99% of all homes and the price of a new solar water heater is very close to that of a conventional water heater. Solar energy also powers traffic and street lights as well as 60,000 greenhouses.

All in all, these are some exciting starts to Greenifying our communities!

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!

Greenify Your Business Travel – Part 2

June 6, 2008

Greenifying your business travel involves more than just examining your travel and hotel choices. The simple acts of bringing along a travel mug for that airport cup of coffee, using a reusable water bottle, turning off your hotel room lights and air conditioning when you leave and bringing your own toiletries in reusable bottles all help to greenify.

If you are attending or planning meeting where you need to write things down for the room to see- consider using a white board with eco-friendly markers or overhead projector rather than a pad of easel paper or flip charts.

Unplug laptops, Treo’s, cell phones, etc after charging so that you aren’t inadvertently pulling a phantom energy load.

If you are hosting a luncheon or dinner, consider having it catered using local ingredients and real china and silverware. America’s Second Harvest will come and pick up the any leftovers if you are in a major metropolitan area. Provide tap water in pitchers rather than bottled water. If you need a marketing give-away, consider a stainless steel water bottle with your logo and company name.

If planning a conference, utilizing online registration will save paper. If conference marketing materials are needed, offer them as a PDF on the web, allowing participants the choice to print or not.

And in the end, consider whether or not you really do need to make that 6,000 mile roundtrip from Los Angeles to New York. Could you achieve your objectives with a conference call or video conferencing? Cisco’s new TelePresence is apparently as lifelike as being in the same room. The greenest way to Greenify your business travel might be to just stay at the office.

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