Happy Earth Day 2011!

April 22, 2011

Green Business Alliance would like to wish our members and visitors all the best for this Earth Day 2011!! Best wishes with your environmental resolutions to Greenify your business, home and fun this coming year.


Chevrolet Volt: A Green Success Story

January 31, 2011

We want to point out the latest business Greenification success story.  The Chevrolet Volt is sparking interest even though it's barely entered the American marketplace.   

You remember Chevrolet, right?  They are one of those American automakers that have been so troubled for years.  When Asian carmakers offered better made, smaller, more economically-minded (and greener) cars, they rolled out minivans.  When European automakers offered luxury, American automakers gave us SUV''s.  And when the recession gave us all headaches, they sent us the bill.  We wondered if they would ever recover.  They seemed unable to hear the call to Greenify.

But the Volt is evidence that they can.  Volt is evidence of what our President said in his 2011 State of the Union speech: We Do Big Things.  It's a 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery vehicle with a 1.4-liter 16 valve, 4-cylinder, in-line gasoline engine that sips gas from a 9.3 gallon tank.  Worried about pick-up?  It has front-wheel drive and does a peppy 8.8 second zero-to-60.   

And it's putting all that "go" into car shows right now, too.  This past weekend's Portland International Auto Show was packed with car and driving enthusiasts, flocking to the electric cars, hybrids and other green vehicles.  

One of the most popular booths was the Portland General Electric booth, where customer representatives report a lot of questions about one point: how much will it cost to charge an electric car.   

Reports suggest the cost will be about $1.50 per charge.   That charge on a Volt will get you 40 miles, added miles at about half the cost of a gallon of gas.   

Also intriguing?  This isn't a car for nerds.  And instead of being a drain on the company, it may revive Chevrolet's brand all over the world.  Wall Street Journal reviewer Dan Neil had this to say: 

"A bunch of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap wristwatches just out-engineered every other car company on the planet."   

Those are karate chop words for some other car makers.   

Unfortunately, there are only about 4 car dealerships offering the car currently.  Just getting on a wait list may take awhile.  But what a turn-around this was for Chevrolet and American business in general.  It proved that it can be done and this is a great success story for pursuit of the Green Dream.


The Stairs – a Green and Healthy Choice

September 7, 2010

Believe it or not, there are more beneficiaries of Greenifying than simply our environment and your business. Some Green steps can directly impact your health. For instance, let’s examine your method of transportation to and from work. Yes, if one is able to bike or walk to work rather than drive, obviously the reduced emissions from the vehicle benefit the environment. Engaging in aerobic activity in lieu of driving a car for your commute benefits your heart and body.

Here is another easy way to help the environment while helping your heart. Stairs! If your office is above the first floor, take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walking up to your office will burn some calories while at the same time save the electrical energy used during each push of the elevator. It may not seem like a big sacrifice (unless, of course, your office is on the 90th floor!) but the rewards are both healthy and environmentally beneficial. On average, a 3 minute walk up the stairs burns about 25 calories. Greenify – for the environment, your business, and your health!


Recycling, Freecyling and Upcycling Shipping Containers?

February 23, 2010

I have to share this idea with you. I caught wind of it (oh, that's a good pun in recycling circles, isn't it?) online and am totally caught up imagining it. Picture old railcars, stacked in two's, side by side and two deep. That's right, the hottest trend in eco-building is recycling old shipping containers.

I don't want you to think I am making another joke. The cars themselves are actually air-conditioned, with stylish bamboo cabinets, two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, ENERGY STAR appliances and low-flow showerheads, too. Definitely green all over!

Consider the consumer-driven economy we've had in this country for the past decades. We've bought everything that we wanted, used it for a bit and tossed it aside without any regard for landfill or consumption levels.

These days, we're reforming. Our new creedo is “eat it up, use it up, wear it out; anything but throw it out. We're finally slowing down the all consuming greed for stuff. One thing we may have left overs on is shipping containers.

Think about it: durable, mobile and definitely economical. Can you imagine anything built to last longer? They are plentiful and comparatively inexpensive. The only thing you can't do is move right in, of course, because until the developer goes over them, they're quite basic.

“We thought they would be a great platform for us to start from since they are extremely durable and are designed to be shipped with heavy loads and to withstand the rigors of ocean travel,” Ashton Wolfswinkel of Upcycle Living adds. “And because the shipping containers are so plentiful, we are able to get them at a reasonable price, thus allowing us to shift costs, to improve quality and make our homes more sustainable.”

Upcycle Living in Phoenix, Arizona, develops the houses that I glimpsed, but other companies have been making use of the containers for housing for some time. Upcycle's new angle is developing them clean, green and ready to shine out for the economy minded house hunter.

Maybe that's our future: green, recycled and altogether indicative of a Greenified, smaller carbonprint.


10 Days of Shut Down: What We Can Learn from Snowmaggedon

February 18, 2010

I have mentioned that I live in Washington, DC. Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably aware that Washington has recently endured a record setting series of snowstorms, dumping 40 inches of the white stuff on Dulles Airport in the last week and a half. An additional one to four inches are expected this week and no one here is looking forward to it.

But there are lessons here to be learned.

For the last ten days, my car has been parked on a side street adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue. I drop by to look at the snow surrounding it every few days. I keep hoping that the snow will melt off and I'll be able to get in and drive it away with only a minor effort. But in the meantime, you know, I'm not really suffering.

Let me admit up front that I stocked my pantry well before the storm hit. But other than that, I haven't given it a second thought. I don't need to drive around that much, and beyond a trip to various stores that aren't quite as convenient with my car, I'm doing just fine. If I gave it some consideration, I could park my car and quite happily drive only every other week or so.

If all of Washington gave similar efforts, our Beltway wouldn't be so legendary for its traffic problems.

A lot of people have been telecommuting, too. Road crews took days to clear out the first round of snow before the second round hammered down. To be honest, I'm being quite generous when I say “clear out.” (There are still dangerous amounts of ice and piles of snow on the street, blocking views and obstructing traffic.) I've actually envied a lot of those telecommuters; they seem to have the best situation of all.

Area children have one more day off. Schools are closed for the holiday, but opening on Tuesday. One last thing that is greener about this community (in this case, I mean green as in tax dollars) response in school districts: officials in two area jurisdictions have issued appeals, asking residents to help their school systems in their efforts to reopen.

In Fairfax County, officials called for volunteers to clear paths so classes can resume Tuesday after being closed Monday for Presidents' Day. "Your community needs you," Braddock District Supervisor John C. Cook was quoted as saying in the Washington Post as he issued a call for shovels and those with the backbone to properly use them. Arlington County also issued a similar call and reminded property owners to clear their sidewalks.

I think most residents would have done almost anything to clear the walkways, but it is always better to use human strength, rather than strong chemicals.

Washingtonians learned a lot about themselves and dealing with Mother Nature these last few weeks. Undoubtedly, nature always has something to teach us, including about Greenifying.


Cash for Clunkers

August 6, 2009

We’d like to bring your attention to a new government program that may only be in place for a very short time.  If you want to take advantage of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, you’ll need to hop on it quickly. 

The Car Allowance Rebate System, or “Cash for Clunkers” is one of the few federal stimulus programs that everyone seems to be onboard with.  It’s a federal program that will credit you up to $4,500 to trade in your old car for a more fuel-efficient model. 

There are some restrictions, but this wildly popular program has few downsides.  President Barack Obama says the program “has succeeded well beyond our expectations and all expectations.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claims “this is the stimulus program that has worked better than any other stimulus program that was conceived.”

And like a lot of green programs, it works from a multitude of angles. 

When the recession began, the U.S. auto industry was already in trouble.   Gas prices, which had skyrocketed the year before, were making American-made cars unpopular.  Car sales, already flagging, dropped to almost immeasurable.   By pumping money into getting Americans to spend on cars, we get the economy moving and shrink our carbon footprint by getting gas-guzzling cars off the road and out of commission. 

The program was clipping along with sales so good that it appeared it would run out of money just as it was starting.  Its $1 billion budget was projected to run out, prompting the House of Representatives to vote last week to authorize another $2 billion. But in the Senate, Republican senators say they will block more funding, calling it a waste.  That would be unfortunate.  Because ”Cash for Clunkers” stood for stimulating the economy and putting more Americans in the drivers’ seat with a lower cost to our environment.


Summertime Equals Bike Time

June 15, 2009

It is summer time. Time to Greenify the old fashioned way. Time to get out the bike, check the tires and take it… everywhere.  Ride it to the office. Use it on short runs to the grocery store.  Instead of driving to the gym for your workout, maybe just ride it to the gym and back for exercise.

A bicycle is one of the best forms of exercise for a healthy lifestyle.  It doesn’t jar your joints.  You can ride it as fast or as slow, getting a good workout or working off a few frustrations depending on what you want.

It’s also a great way to get around. Gas prices are soaring upwards again.  Isn’t it stunning how they seem to do that immediately after an election?  They are soaring upwards and show no sign of coming down.  There’s no shortage of gas.  There’s no reason for the hike. The prices are going up because oil companies, producers and refiners simply like making huge profits. 

With the recession that most of us are focused on weighing so heavily on our pocketbooks, it may be time to find a better solution than cars.  You like to shop for groceries on a daily basis?  Just change clothes after work and get on the bike.  You’ll have plenty of time on the ride to the store to figure out what’s for dinner.  And you’ll have a few cents more to throw in the kitty for the food budget.

We can Greenify, save money, save on stress, and shrink our carbon footprint, all while working with things that we have.  Go “old school” and you’ll find yourself doing as your grandparents did: smiling all the way to the bank on your bike.


Share a Bike: Go Green with a Group

May 28, 2009

Going green isn’t an American idea; it’s an international necessity.  We have to do it together in order to get any place on lessening the carbon footprint left by humans.  So we might as well start going green together on bikes.  And now, Montreal is showing some of us the way.

This past week, Montreal Canada began the most ambitious bike sharing program anywhere in North America.  The program is called “Bixi” and the city, which will operate the program through its parking authority, explains it this way on the ride-sharing program’s website:

“The user takes a bike from one of the stations, pays at an automated pay station, and drops the bike off at any pay station in the network. The bike becomes another mode of urban transport unto itself, a practical, economical, ecological and healthy alternative to energy-guzzling vehicles.”

Can you imagine how convenient this could be?  For example, if you took mass transit into the heart of the crowded city for work, but then needed a ride to lunch with a friend, you’d simply pay for a bike, ride it to lunch, and put it in the rack.  You would eat lunch before returning to the rack for the ride back to the office. 

Bixi is very ambitious, as I said.  3000 specially made bikes that will be positioned at 300 bike stations all over the city.  There are similar programs in Europe, but the bikes there are often clamped into their locking compartments by the front wheel, which often results in damage to the wheel.  The Bixi bikes lock into a tab slot in the front.  Result: no damage.

Montreal spent $13 million dollars to research and start the program.  They believe the program can be used in any city, anywhere.  But you don’t need to be a city to start bike sharing. 

Could your business use a bike to run errands?  Could you and some neighboring businesses share a bike together?  It’s a small thing to Greenify but a big thing to take the first step. Or pedal.


Painting your roof tops White?!

May 27, 2009

Yes, you read the title of this blog correct. White roof tops was a topic of conversation in London yesterday at a climate change symposium. In an effort to Greenify our nation, one of the outcomes of this symposium is that the Obama administration wants homeowners to paint their roofs an energy-reflecting white color.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu represented the United States at this London event. He also indicated that light-colored (or "cool-coloured") pavement and cars could also mean energy savings for our country.

Click here to read more about how the US wants to paint the World White, and the positive environmental effects these actions may have, in Tuesday's blog post on Yahoo Green.


Now that Earth Day Is Over... What Are You Doing?

April 28, 2009

Now that Earth Day is over again for this year, how do we go forward with our resolve to be more protective of our planet and its valuable natural resources?
We've celebrated the planet, now it's time to get serious and Greenify in a meaningful way.
 
Here are some ideas that I had:
 
*Car pool at least one day per week.  This saves on fuel and parking spaces at work.  If you're the boss, lead the way and encourage employees to do it.  Maybe you can start by offering to pick up an employee or two on the way to work at least once a week.
 
*Turn off lights when you leave the room.  Every time.
 
*Use recyclable paper as often as possible.  Yes, it does cost a little more, but it also saves our planet a lot.
 
*Dial down on heat and up on air conditioning.  68 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer (if not more) can make a huge difference in the company energy bill, too.
 
*Intall timers on restroom lights.  It's a safe bet no one wants to stay in there very long anyway, right? 
 
*Eat lunch at your desk.  Saves money and fuel.
 
*Add plants for decoration and pollution control.  If you have landscaping outdoors, remember to put the watering cycles on timers, too, and water only at night.Conservation is key. 
 
*Encourage others in their to Greenify, as well.  Can we underestimate the power of a good compliment to a fellow businessperson?  If they're weighing the importance of their greenification efforts, it's always good to hear encouraging words.  Plus, it does help make and keep friends.
 
Earth Day only comes once per year, but the goal is to celebrate the importance of our Earth every day and try to keep it a clean, more healthful place to live.


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