Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Speaking Engagements

If you are interested in booking Ms. Stringer in an upcoming speaking engagement, please contact Lauren Gibbs at 713.407.7724 or lauren.gibbs@hok.com.

See "select press coverage" for video clips, radio interviews and recent stories on Leigh and her work.

Become a Hitman (Grass, Beware!)

Looking for a legal way to recoup some cash for killing? Well, you're in luck if you live in the American Southwest: Cash for Killing Your Lawn: Cities Get Creative with Water Saving.

Some cities are offering a cash incentive to replace water-sucking grass with more water-friendly landscapes. In Las Vegas, you can get up to $300,000 per year in rebates (plus the added bonus of a lower water bill and a lighter conscience)! In LA, you can get up to $2,000/year.

While your office park or HOA may not encourage land coverings other than green, green grass, consider petitioning them to update their standards to be more water saving, and also to give you opportunities to take advantage of municipal programs!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Digital Nomads... Coming to a Coffee Shop Near You

Sunday's Washington Post covers a story of several workers who love working anywhere. They love the change of scenery, the socialization and ability to adapt their working environment around the task at hand. They don't need an office, just laptops and a phone and they love it! Listen to their stories.

Wireless Power. Yeah... POWER!

How annoying is it that we're completely mobile with our laptops, phones and PDAs -- but tethered to power cords. I can't tell you how many times I've paced up and down the concorse at the airport looking for a plug. And when there is one, it's nowhere near a convenient place to sit, so I'm squished on the floor between six other poeple in my (what was) clean suit.

Well, believe it or not, wireless power has arrived! According to Ted.com:

MIT physicists recently invented technology that can light a 60-watt light bulb at several meters. The concept of "resonant energy transfer" -- where the same principles used in electrical transformers are used to send electricity over a long distance -- was created when a professor was awoken three nights in the row by a cell phone whose battery was dying. He wondered "Why can't all this electricity in the walls just come out and power my phone?"

"WiTricity" works using the principle of inductance, where an electric charge is stored in the form of a magnetic field in a coil of a conductor. Two such coils, resonating at the same frequency, can exchange charge across space. This is not radiative power transfer -- since it uses only magnetic fields.
Here's an image from WiTricity's website that helps explain.
Two words: Friggin' awesome.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Green Workplace on Kindle

The Green Workplace (the book) launches August 4th, and to get the publisher to produce it in a digital version, we need to prove there's enough interest.

Please go to the book's Amazon page: http://tr.im/u5hH and click "I’d like to read this book on Kindle." No purchase necessary, just click to show your interest.

I know not all of you are Kindle/ebook readers. It's not for everyone or for every book. But for those of you who are interested in an ebook version of your favorite title, it's important to let publishers know... not every book is automatically created into an electronic version.

For those of you wondering... which is worse for the environment, hard copy or ebook? Most agree that the electronic version is more green than buying a new book. But here is what others have to say about the subject:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Geothermal is Taking Hold

Deep in the earth’s crust is a supply of mostly untapped energy: hot water just itching to get to the surface in the form of steam. Ormat, a company headquartered in Reno, Nevada and the third largest geothermal power producer in the United States, has figured out how to tap into it! With just six U.S. power plants and four more overseas, Ormat produces enough geothermal energy to power about 360,000 homes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Source for Disposable Supplies

For stocking your kitchen at the office, we highly recommend using glassware, china and silverware over anything disposable. It's greener and much more elegant. Seriously, we're not in preschool. It's time to graduate from styrofoam!

That said, if you're in a bind and need a disposable option, Excellent Packaging & Supply is a supplier of BagasseWare, a sugarcane-based Styrofoam substitute that can withstand both freezer and microwave, and SpudWare, utensils made from corn and potato starch that can tolerate boiling water. Both are as tough and durable as traditional products but, unlike petroleum-derived plastics, will break down into their natural components within months in composting facilities.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Become Bionic! (for a lot less than $6 million)

Bionic Power is a privately-held technology company located in Burnaby, B.C., Canada. Their Biomechanical Energy Harvester uses the energy your body creates during the process of walking to charge portable batteries. The device, which after development should weigh about two pounds, is geared towards people need easy, cheap portable power.

The company is targeting their product to the military, emergency use, medical (prostheses) and general consumer use. The options are endless really. And using it is one more excuse to get me off my duff to exercise!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reducing the Energy Load with Ice

Ice Energy, from Windsor, Colorado, has a solution that lets you keep cool in summer and save energy. Their Ice Bear cooling unit, which plugs into air conditioners, makes ice at night, when electricity is off-peak. During the day, the Ice Bear cools the air conditioner’s coolant (usually cooled with electricity) using ice, cutting electricity consumption by as much as 30%.

Right now, the company sells the Ice Bear only for commercial buildings, but a residential version is being tested now. And many utilities are already offering huge incentives for companies to buy them. Pretty cool.

The Green Workplace Book

Find out more about The Green Workplace: Sustainable Strategies for Employees, the Environment and the Bottom Line here:

Read a Free Excerpt

Press Release

Read Reviews

Buy on Amazon

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reducing your waistline (and the bottom line, too).

Great news out of San Francisco earlier this month: Mayor Newsom is mandating healthy eating!

In a new executive directive, the mayor requires an inventory of all public property that might be used to grow healthy food (and provide jobs potentially), as well as mandates that city employees now provide healthy food options.

This includes providing food that is safe and healthy, culturally sensitive, and sustainable.

The program requires not only healthy food choices in cafeterias and at catered meetings (goodbye chips, hello veggies), but also healthy choices in vending machines, and acceptance of food stamps at farmers markets.

Yes, we should all be able to make those choices for ourselves without the government forcing it, but, you know as well as I do how hard it is to pass up a plate of brownies in the kitchen! Mmmm brownies! Many props to San Fran for making it easier to make healthy choices.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buy a Burger, Save the Earth

I have to say, I've been very impressed by Burger King recently. First, their social networking genius idea of unfriending people on Facebook for free food, and now this: electricity generation from the drive-thru.

A BK franchise in Hillside, New Jersey is teaming up with New Energy Technologies, Inc. to install a Motion Power energy harvester in the drive-thru. This installation will work as a durability test.

The technology works like this: cars drive over a bunch of tiny strips; the kinetic energy of the moving cars is captured and reused. According to the manufacturer, the technology has the following advantages:

  • Cost-effective -- easy to manufacture and low operating costs
  • Simple and reliable mechanical configuration which is easy to maintain
  • Ease of Installation
  • Low-profile assembly can be mounted directly atop existing roadways with little or no modifications to roadways
  • Modular scalable configuration
  • Can be installed in virtually any location
Eventually, New Energy hopes to install the Motion Power technology at high traffic locations such as toll booths, traffic intersections, rest areas, travel plazas, border crossings, neighborhoods with traffic calming zones, and drive-thrus.

Cool idea - fingers crossed that it passes the durability tests and we're driving over these things everywhere soon :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top Green Cities

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently came out with their list of top sustainable cities.

This list is based on scoring criteria that were used to evaluate a number of categories ranging from green buildings to transportation options, and the final list is sorted by small, medium, and large cities.

The top three large cities (Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland) came as no shock to me, but I was surprised to see that Dallas cracked the top 15, while my hometown of Washington, DC did not. The good news for DC is that we hit #4 for top transportation (thank you Metro, sidewalks, + awesome bike routes).

Check it out and see where your city ranks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stock Organic Valley in the Pantry

One of North America's largest organic-farmer-owned cooperatives, Organic Valley Family of Farms gives its over 1,300 member farms direct ownership of a business that saw record growth last year. The central mission of this cooperative is to support rural communities by protecting the health of the family farm—working toward both economic and environmental sustainability.

Photo: From the Organic Valley website: The Knapps on their family farm in Syracuse.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tide-Powered Turbines in the East River

Imagine submerging 200 windmill turbines in New York's East River. The turbines would generate enough electricity to run 8,000 households through the power of the natural currents and tides. That's the grand plan for New York-based Verdant Power, and the company recently began installing two turbines as a test. Verdant's goal is to eventually use their technology in countries like China, India, and Brazil.

Monday, July 13, 2009

NaturaLawn and Integrated Pest Management

NaturaLawn of America (Fredrick, MD) provides a lawn-care system that uses an approach called integrated pest management. This system allows beneficial insects to keep harmful pests under control and the soil healthy, and uses natural fertilizers and weed inhibitors to minimize the need for applications of chemicals. Customers claim they have been able to reduce pesticide use by an average of 85%.

For all of you building managers out there... there are good options to getting rid of those critters in the pantry!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nanosolar... Solar without Silicon

Nanosolar aims to make solar power as affordable as electricity produced by coal and natural gas. Its thin film technology involves “printing” a microscopic layer of solar cells onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil. The resulting panels are lighter, cheaper, and as efficient as traditional solar panels. Nanosolar is producing the cells at $1 per watt, or one-tenth of the cost of traditional cells.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Featured Green Companies: Week of June 26

The following companies were featured on the Supporting Green Companies Facebook page last week. (Supporting Green Companies is sponsored by The Green Workplace blog). If you want to send any of these companies a message of support, "fan" them on Facebook now!

Extengine Transport Systems wants to be the world's smog fighter. The company, based in Fullerton, California, retrofits large diesel-powered vehicles such as garbage trucks and off-road construction equipment with a system that cuts smog-causing emissions by as much as 90 percent. Keep on truckin' Extengine!

Prometheus Energy is a Seattle-based company that has developed a process to capture methane gas, purify it, and convert it into liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which can be used to power buses. Prometheus' first commercial project, currently under way at the Frank R. Bowerman Landfill in Orange County, California, is designed to produce 5,000 gallons of LNG a day.

Gridpoint of Washington, D.C. produces a "thinking" power storage device that provides homes/businesses with backup power for use in an outage or when prices are high; it regulates that power, allowing customers to pick and choose when their house pulls in energy; and it eliminates the complex installations required by wind/solar--when the masses are ready for renewables, they'll have an appliance to link up with.

ReCellular has partnerships with wireless giants like Verizon and T-Mobile and retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart, all of which collect used cell phones and send them along to ReCellular, which either recycles them or rebuilds and resells them. About half of the rebuilt phones end up with domestic resellers, the other half in developing countries in Africa, South America, and Asia.

Recycline makes personal-care products from recycled plastic. Recycline's "Preserve" line of products can be found in Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, and Target. We especially like Preserve because they are made from from 100% recycled materials and are manufactured in the USA, which requires less energy to transport (if you live in the U.S.)

Several people have asked about finding green resources in their neighborhood. GenGreen Life hosts a directory of green products and services (i.e. dry cleaners, furniture, supplies, applicances), events, green jobs - all searchable by zip code. Most of the products and services have been approved by Green America (formerly Co-op America).

BTC Elements, an online store founded by Summer Bowen in 2005, is based in Los Angeles. They offer one-of-a-kind dresses made from second hand clothing, ditty bags made from old tennis billboard material, earrings made from old skateboards and baskets made of potato chip bags. There are lots of green retail businesses out there like BTC, but we especially love their design quality.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

BTC Elements - Sustainable, Well Designed Goods

I am on a continual quest to find really beautiful sustainable clothing, furniture and accessories. Call me crazy, but even though I want to do the right thing by the environment, I refuse to buy that orange hemp shirt that looks like it's from the 60s (and has been continually worn since the 60s). Seriously, why should I lower my design standards just because I want to be green?

The good news is that our choices are growing and many entrepreneurs are designing beautiful objects that are thoughtful in how they are produced. My find this week is BTC Elements. The online store was founded by Summer Bowen in 2005 and has been growing substantially ever since. Based in Los Angeles, BTC is the acronym for "Be the Change" which is a reference to Ghandi’s quote "you must be the change you wish to see in the world." Bowen adds that "Elements" is a nod to the natural world that we aim to preserve and protect.

I'm not a fan of the clothing (perhaps my body type sans-baby is not quite like the models so I can't relate), but I love her choice in accessories. Take a look at her tennis billboard ditty-bags, used skateboard earrings and potato chip bag baskets. Lovely.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Studying for the LEED Exam? Use Visuals!

Admittedly the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation exam is changing a bit, but for those of you who 1) got grandfathered in and are taking the old exam or 2) want to share with others (clients, partners, etc.) what the LEED certification is all about, go to http://www.leedvisual.com/ for a fantastic graphic representation of each of the "credits" a building can earn. Here is the visual for Contstruction Waste Management: Diverting Construction and Debris from Landfill.

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