Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category
June 29th, 2009
The heat of summer is upon us, and that means folks are cranking up the AC, making an extra batch of ice, and generally burning energy 24-7. But we need all need to continue to try to conserve as much energy as possible to save resources and slow the march of global warming. And we get to save money at the same time– nice one!
Here are the eight easy things we can all do at home to cut our energy consumption.
1. Keep your home at an eco-conscious temperature. 78 degrees is plenty cool in the house. Turn down the AC and get a programmable thermostat so you’re only cooling the house when you really need to.
2. Work with the sun to keep your house cool. Close all shutters and blinds during the day to keep the sun out– then open windows at night to cool the house and feel the breeze (if you have any!).
3. Let the air dry your dishes and clothes. The dryer and dish washer use a lot of energy– and the air does the drying job just as well. Plus your clothes will last longer. See some great clothes-drying racks here.
4. Take shorter showers and do not take baths. Hot water heating is one of the major uses of energy in any home. Showers are the way to go– and keep ’em short. Baths use much more water and heat than do baths (unless you’re taking 30 minute showers!). You can also look into solar hot water.
5. Ditch the beer fridge. It’s amazing how many homes have two refrigerators. Please do not use more than one fridge. And if you have an old model, get a newer Energy Star model.
6. Use ceiling fans rather than AC. They are much more energy-efficient and you can get very reasonably priced Energy Star models.
7. Get solar screens for your windows. These screens cut 75% of the heat coming through your windows, but don’t impact your visibility. They are really great energy savers. See solar screens here.
8. Spend one night each week in candlelight. It’s romantic, fun and inspires new conversation. If you’ve got kids, how about turning off the TV one night and playing a board game by candlelight? Clue would be particularly spooky!
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June 25th, 2009
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will undergo a $350 million “green” retrofit that its owners said on Wednesday will make the 110-story office tower a beacon for environmentally sound space.
Plans call for the 1,450-foot Sears Tower to reduce its electricity consumption by 80 percent and water usage by 40 percent. It will be renamed the Willis tower later this summer in a deal with new tenant global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.
To achieve the savings, owner American Landmark Properties and its partners plan to:
- Replace the 1973 tower’s 16,000 tinted single-pane windows and create a “thermal break” between Chicago’s frigid winters and hot summers and the interior.
- Install gas boilers equipped with fuel cells, which generate electricity, heat and cooling.
- Revamp the tower’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators to cut their electricity usage by 40 percent.
- Conserve 24 million gallons of water with new restroom fixtures and “condensation capture.”
- “Harvest daylight” by installing systems that automatically dim lighting based on available natural light.
- Install solar panels to heat water.
- Erect wind turbines on building setbacks, if possible.
Popularity: 13% [?]
June 18th, 2009
Written by Andrew Williams, courtesy of Gas2.0
Subaru has become the latest in a long line of car manufacturers to start producing electric cars. The Japanese company plans to start selling a compact all-electric plug-in number called the Stella EV in Japan over the coming weeks.
Unusual for such a compact EV, the Stella boasts four seats and a top speed of 60 mph, which is likely to prove just about bearable to drivers using it as a second car for city use (photo gallery after the jump).
The Stella features a mains-charged li-ion battery, capable of a 15-minute fast-charge to 80% of the maximum, delivering a range of around 55 miles. Subaru has announced an initial run of 170 cars, which will available to Japanese customers in July. The price has been set at ¥4,725,000 (around $49,000) but buyers will be eligible to apply for a ¥1,380,000 (around $14,000) Japanese government subsidy through its Next Generation Vehicle Promotion Center program. Additional tax reductions are also expected to further encourage buyers following special measures brought in by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
No news yet on a global release but we’ll keep you posted.
Popularity: 5% [?]
June 12th, 2009
Green-collar workers — who include everyone from energy-efficiency consultants to wastewater plant operators — constitute a tiny but fast-growing segment of the U.S. economy, according to a study published today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The “clean-energy economy” grew 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 to 777,000 jobs. While that is just half a percent of all U.S. jobs, the clean-energy economy is poised to grow significantly with financial support from the public and private sectors, the Pew report concludes.
“The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, the Pew Center on the States’ interim deputy director. “The trends include surging venture capital investment … a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.”
About 80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector, broadly known as “cleantech.” And while cleantech slumped with overall venture capital in the first quarter of 2009, the sector outperformed telecommunications, media and other sectors, according to an analysis of Thompson Reuters data by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
“[Cleantech] is faring better than the rest of the venture capital sectors — that’s driven by the sense that the government policy thinking has changed radically with the new administration,” said David Prend, a NVCA director and managing general partner at the venture capital firm RockPort Capital Partners.
Indeed, the Pew report cites the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February, as a significant force driving the clean-energy economy. The stimulus includes nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.
The report finds that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. The total number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that period, which included the dot-com boom and bust and the beginning of the current recession.
Popularity: 5% [?]
June 4th, 2009
Happy June everyone! We’re eager for summer to arrive– aren’t you? There are many things we can all do to ensure that we have a fun, eco-friendly summer. Read on and get that barbeque apron at the ready!
What You Need to Know Before You Mow
As the grass grows longer, we get the mower ready to go to work. You will probably be shocked to learn that gas mowers are MAJOR environmental offenders. According to the California Air Resources Board, lawn mower engines contribute 93 times more smog-forming emissions than do cars on a gallon-for-gallon basis. The pollution from a year’s use of an average gas-powered lawnmower is equivalent to the pollution from driving a car 86,000 miles. YES, it’s that bad. And some chainsaws and trimmers are even worse.
So please consider ditching your gas mower and getting either a battery powered or push mower. This Brill Luxus 38 push mower gets great ratings for usability and effectiveness. And there are some great cordless electrical mowers here, too.
Don’t Be an Enviro-Hog at the BBQ
When we have a summer BBQ, most of us generate a pretty impressive amount of waste. You can cut down on the trash going to the land fill in several easy ways. First, make sure to put out two trash cans: one for the food junk and one for recyclable glass & cans. As you know, if you don’t have a separate can, people will dump all of their cans and bottles right in with the other trash. If you don’t have a second can, then put out a cardboard box and write RECYCLE on it. Then you can toss the whole box in the recycling bin after the party!
Next, don’t use traditional paper plates and plastic utensils. Get yourself some compostable and biodegradable alternatives. These are just as functional as the plastic/paper kind but will decompose over time. Or if you don’t want to go that far, look for paper plates and napkins made out of recycled materials.
And what about the left-over veggies, salad and buns? You know where those go–right into your handy composter, to make healthy mulch for the garden.
Be Water-Wise this Summer
Don’t forget that water is one of our most valuable natural resources. In the Western US this summer we’ll be facing a fierce drought, given what little rainfall we’ve had so far this year. Please be sure to conserve water by 1) watering only in the early morning when the sun and evaporation are lower and 2) adjusting your sprinklers so that they only water your yard and not your driveway or street.
With all of the outdoor recreation and beach trips, showering can increase over the summer. Save as much as 40% of your water and energy per shower with this new Delta Fluidics showerhead that offers low-flow efficiency and high-flow comfort.
Cool It with a Ceiling Fan
Energy Star ceiling fans are much more efficient than air conditioners and can cool your house by a few degrees or more. Run a ceiling fan instead of AC whenever you can, and even if you do run AC, run it at a higher temp and use the ceiling fan to recirculate the cool air. See our selection of Energy Star ceiling fans here.
Kids at Loose Ends? Here is a Great Game!
Get the Bioviva board game and teach your kids about our global environment. This award-winning game will help instill in your kids, and yourself, an interest in learning more about nature and our planet. Multiple choice question cards cover topics such as solar systems, plant/animal behavior, evolution, and environmental protection. Kids earn eco-points by correctly answering questions, with the winner being the first player to collect the required eco-points for the locations listed on his or her destination card. Find the Bioviva game here.
Don’t Put Toxins on Your Family’s Skin - Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
Standard insect repellants contain chemicals that not only repel bugs but also are toxic to humans. And sunscreens also often contain harmful chemicals. Protect your family with toxin-free insect repellant and healthy sunscreens.
We hope you all have a wonderful summer! Keep your mind on relaxing– and protecting the Earth at the same time.
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