Incandescent Bans: Why Wait to Greenify?

November 19, 2008

The end is near.  But that means that that Europe may begin to go green a little sooner.   

EU energy ministers have recently agreed to ban incandescent filament light bulbs across all 27 member states beginning in 2010.   That’s in addition to Australia, Cuba and the Philippines where bans have previously been announced to begin in the same year. 

Here in the U.S.A, we are coming a little late to the party because our ban doesn’t start until 2014.

The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed by the U.S in June 2007, requires 25 percent greater efficiency for light bulbs starting in 2012.  This will effectively ban incandescents. The EU's decision comes days before it lifts duties on energy-efficient bulbs imported from China.

According to the conservationists if the EU switches off incandescent bulbs, it will cut energy consumption for lighting by 60% and CO2 emissions by 30 million tons (out of the 4 billion tons emitted by the EU every year.   That’s not a lot, but it is still progress.

And no one says you have to wait to start conserving energy now.   Replacing old-style “filament” light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs can save you energy and money starting the moment that you install them.      

And who knows? By 2014, maybe the lighting industry will have come up with something even better.


Green Music

May 19, 2008

I thought I’d switch gears a little bit and focus on green music. The Dave Matthews Band has a well deserved reputation as an environmentally and socially friendly company. Well, they’re a band, but they are a company as well. The Dave Matthews Band (aka DMB) has had their foot in the social/environmental arena since the mid-90’s, performing at FarmAid benefit concerts. In 2002 they made a splash when their tour was certified “Climate Cool” by the Climate Neutral Network. In the following five years, they have gone even greener. In 2007 DMB teamed up with Reverb, a non-profit environmental group which works primarily with musicians. DMB had an extremely green tour last summer utilizing everything from B20 bio-diesel to reducing waste to eco-friendly merchandise.

In 2008, DMB and Reverb are again joining forces to create one of the most environmentally friendly concert tours out there. The techniques employed last year which saved over 3.3 million pounds of CO2 will again be employed, along with some neat new tricks. DMB will be instituting an online ride-sharing/carpooling program for fans to utilize to get to and from the shows. An eco-footprint reduction contest will be held to educate fans about their own eco-footprint (not to mention teaching people how to reduce it). Stonyfield Yogurt and Climate Counts will be sponsoring the Eco-Village, which is an environmental outreach program featuring education, prizes such as solar-backpacks, national and local non-profits, etc.

Reverb has greened 50 tours and is currently working with Jason Mraz, John Meyer, Jack Johnson and the Honda Civic Tour as well as DMB. If you are so inclined and would like to volunteer at a DMB show near you, Reverb offers that opportunity. You will get some free swag, see the show and help save the environment!


Earth Day Resolution #5 – Reducing Your Footprint

April 11, 2008

What size is your carbon footprint?  The national average is around 8 tons of Carbon Dioxide per year depending on which Carbon calculator you are using. Do you think your footprint is larger or smaller than the average? 

You can calculate your carbon footprint on one of the many web-based carbon calculators. The EPA has a more sophisticated calculator which asks questions pertaining to the type of dwelling you live in, the number of people in the household, transportation, waste and more. They also offer a calculator on the same page to reduce emissions. Yahoo’s Green site is the simplest calculator which only asks 7 general questions. MSN’s Green site has a carbon calculator which is somewhere between Yahoo’s and the EPA’s.

So gather recent natural gas, heating oil, propane, and electric bills, click on one of the calculator’s above and get ready to determine the size of your footprint. The good news is that no matter how big or small your carbon footprint is, there are many actions that one can take to reduce the size.

With Earth Day just around the corner make a promise to yourself and resolve to reduce your carbon footprint by at least one size. The earth will be a better place for it and you will be happier with your new footprint knowing that your smaller steps have helped our planet by leaps and bounds.


What is a REC and Why Does it Matter for Businesses?

April 8, 2008

Wikipedia defines a Renewable Energy Credit as: “Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.” 

The idea behind RECS is that businesses (and individuals) can offset their carbon footprint by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits. While the rationale is clear-cut for businesses that are big polluters, it is less obvious for companies work out of an office and are telephone / computer focused.

Wikipedia also notes that: “A popular incentive for buying RECs is to make the claim that your energy use is carbon neutral and hence does not contribute to global warming. Looking at the situation from a macroscopic level, buying RECs finances some portion of the increased costs of green energy producers, to reduce the producer's increase in cost as compared to sources which pollute more. However, it could be argued that the green energy production facilities which are already built today might still continue functioning and producing energy at the same rate even if no one were to buy another REC. On a microscopic level, buying a few RECs has very little direct effect on the amount of CO2 produced at this very moment. As larger and larger numbers of RECs come into demand, however, renewable energy will become more and more cost effective per kWh in comparison to nonrenewable energy. “

So should purchasing carbon offsets be a priority for businesses today? We believe that the answer is YES. As referenced above, in the big picture, the cumulative impact will be enormous, although the direct impact today is much harder to quantify. That logic, however applies to a number of the dimensions of the Go Green movement and every small step matter and is instrumental from a “setting the tone” perspective with employees and customers. Let your customers see first-hand that you go to the efforts to recycle within the office.

Successful business owners make investments everyday with a long term perspective in mind. Going Green is another example of a path to be taken that may not yield tangible benefits in the short run, but has untold, long term upside potential. Lastly, purchasing RECS is not very expensive for most companies, so cost should not be a deterrent.


Earth Day Resolution # 3 - Thirst for Eco-friendly Water Bottles

March 24, 2008

Whether you are a business owner or an employee or a chief executive mom, we can each make a positive environmental impact by choosing our drinking water thoughtfully. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is definitely a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

Did you know that in the United States alone, we consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only approximately 10% are actually recycled? The other 90 percent of water bottles end up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

Consider tapping into a less costly means of staying hydrated. Drink tap water from a glass or a stainless steel reusable bottle. For those who prefer filtered water, invest in a filtration system for the home and/or office and drink it from a glass. You might be surprised to know that bottled water is not always cleaner and healthier than tap water. If you find that hard to believe, check the EPA's website.

With just one month until Earth Day, think about making a resolution to eliminate those plastic 'recyclable' water bottles and opt for an eco-friendly glass of tap water instead, well actually, 6 eco-friendly glasses of tap water a day!


Countdown to Earth Day 2008

February 27, 2008

Mark your calendars now! April 22, 2008 is quickly approaching. As you can see, we at Green Business Alliance have added the Earth Day 2008 countdown calculator to our home page. In just 54 days, millions of people from around the world will celebrate the 39th Annual Earth Day. The focus of Earth Day is to raise awareness of and support our environment and eco-friendly habits. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was the principal founder of this event which dates back to 1970. It began as a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment intended to inspire gratitude for and consciousness of the Earth’s environment.

Earth Day festivities and events will be held here in the United States on Sunday, April 20th in major cities such as: Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Miami. Additionally, there will be Earth Day celebrations held locally in schools, community centers, and colleges around the world. The global action theme of this year’s events will be A Call for Climate.

The time is now to start thinking about your Earth Day plans. This blog marks the first in a series dedicated to this global environmental celebration. Check back soon for the next installment of Green Business Alliance’s Earth Day blog.


Go Green And Boost Employee Satisfaction

February 15, 2008

Like with so many other things in life, it is easier to act tomorrow than today about the environment. The planet was here before any of us, and contrary to a lot of the doom and gloom being spread, will be here when we leave.

 That being said, businesses play a very important role in the lives of their employees as well as in their community and with customers. An employer who commits to becoming a Green company sends a clear message that they are forward thinkers, which carries with it important benefits.

Wells Fargo Bank is one of many large corporations who has made a staunch commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Although environmental issues are just a component of CSR, Wells Fargo has made a significant investment in outlining and abiding by a CSR platform. For a detailed report on their initiatives, please click here.

Although most businesses do not have the resources to engage in such a large scale initiative, we believe that even a modest effort can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction and consequently the success of the business.   


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