Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Green Workplace Book Events

  • September 30, 2009 - Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Event
  • October 1, 2009 - Chicago, HOK and AllSteel Event
  • October 6, 2009 - Washington, DC, HOK Event
  • October 8, 2009 - Orlando, IFMA World Workplace
  • October 15, 2009 - Las Vegas, CoreNet Global Summit
  • October 21, 2009 - Houston, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Event
  • November 5, 2009 - San Francisco, HOK and Autodesk Event
  • January 14, 2010 - Charlotte, NC, Bank of America
  • January 14, 2010 - New York, HOK Event, AIA Center of Architecture
  • January 20, 2010, Los Angeles, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Event
  • January 21, 2010 - Los Angeles, HOK Event
  • Febrary 1, Colorado Springs NACM Mid-year Conference
  • February 17, 2010 - Houston, HOK Event
  • February 18, 2010 - Washington, DC, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Event
  • March 10, 2010 - Falls Church, Viginia, The Congressional Schools of Virginia
  • March 24, 2010 - Baltimore, CoreNet Mid-Atlantic Chapter Event
  • April 21, 2010 - U.S. Green Building Council, Washington DC Chapter
  • April 22, 2010 - Panel, Akridge Client Sustainability Forum, Washington, DC
  • April 26, 2010 - Washington DC, CoreNet Mid-Atlantic Chapter Event
  • April 27, 2010 - Raleigh, NC, CoreNet Carolinas Chapter Event
  • April 28, 2010 - Charlotte, NC, CoreNet Carolinas Chapter Event
  • September 15, 2010 - Atlanta, Washington University in St. Louis Alumni Event
  • September 29, 2010 - London CoreNet Summit
  • October 21, 2010 - U.S. Green Building Council, North Carolina Chapter
  • November 15, 2010 - Deloitte, New York

Monday, September 28, 2009

Influencing Human Behavior around Recycling and Litter Reduction

The following clips are from Fostering Sustainable Behavior: Community-Based Social Marketing byt Doug McKenzie-Mohr, PhD. It's a free book you can easily download and I highly recommend it... full of incredibly powerful anecdotes on how to leverage human behavior to be environmentally friendly. Mohr has a section in the document where he looks at specific tools and prompts to leverage behavior around recycling. Facinating stuff. I can't help but think that designers and messaging experts could do a better job about encouraging all of us to recycle more and properly:

Litter receptacles serve as a visual prompt for the proper disposal of garbage. Simply making a litter receptacle more visually interesting was found to double the amount of litter deposited in one study and increase it by 61% in another.

Compared to baseline, the introduction of more conveniently located recycling containers and the use of prompts increased the amount of newspaper recycled in three apartment complexes from 50 to 100%.

Following the introduction of verbal and visual prompts in a high school cafeteria, littering was reduced by over 350%.

Prompts have also been shown to have a substantial impact upon paper recycling. In one department at Florida State University, a prompt that read "Recyclable Materials" was placed directly above a recycling container. The prompt indicated the types of paper to be recycled, while another prompt over the trash receptacle read "No Paper Products." The addition of these two simple prompts increased the percentage of fine paper captured by 54%, while in another department the same procedure increased the capture rate by 29%.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dyesol's Dye Solar Cell (Emerging Solar Technology)

Dyesol’s technology is based on Dye Solar Cell (DSC), which has been identified in the Japanese and EU Photovoltaic Roadmaps as the emerging solar technology, it has also been called the most promising advance in solar cell technology since the invention of the silicon cell.

DSC technology can best be described as “artificial photosynthesis” using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and tooth paste) and ruthenium dye sandwiched between glass. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants.

Compared to conventional silicon-based photovoltaic technology, Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently
even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings or structures by replacing conventional glass panels rather than taking up roof or extra land area.
I think this is a brilliant product. It's about time we started develop energy generating building skins... it uses less net material and integrates our best thinking.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Leveraging Technology to Save Energy - In Real Time

I love this product called Energy Joule by Ambient. It's a little plug in device that tells you when peak consumption hours are... it lights green when energy is cheap and red when energy cost is at a premium. Users are given immediate feedback on their energy costs and can make descretionary decisions about what to turn on. Apparetly you can just plug it in and it automatically tunes in to the Ambient Infocast Network.

Unfortunately you have to be a customer of Consumer Powerline in order to purchase this little gizmo... and their major energy markets include New York, New England, the Mid-Atlantic region, Texas, California and Ontario. The company's clients range from medium to large energy users, and span the industrial, commercial, retail and institutional markets, including Stanley Tools, CB Richard Ellis, Cushman Wakefield, Sears Holdings Corporation , NYU Langone Medical Center, and the Massachusetts State Division of Capital Asset Management.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Wordle of The Green Workplace Blog

One of my colleagues recommended this great site called Wordle. It creates visual clouds of all of the content in a document. Here is a cloud of The Green Workplace blog. Looks like we talk about water a lot!

Accidentally Green

I recently bought a product because I thought it was cool...but it turns out to be extremely green (for me)! So, what is this mystery product, and why is it so green?

It's the Soda Stream! Soda Stream is a little machine that carbonates liquids for you. That's right, a homemade soda fountain. I love it because I am ADDICTED to sparkling water...and I know that going to the store to buy 1 liter bottles of sparkling water is hugely wasteful (not only the plastic bottles, but the transportation costs).

Dropping some cash on a soda stream machine means far less waste for me - all I do is fill up the glass soda stream bottle with some regular old tap water, then push the magic handle, and poof...sparkling water!

What's even better than saving plastic is that Soda Stream is dedicated to recycling the carbonaters...and not just dumping them in the recycle bin. They want you to send them back to be refilled, and incentivize you to do so. It's free to ship them back, and if you don't ship them back, you pay $15 more. That works for me!! You can also purchase in stores. And, if you use it a lot, you'll pay off your investment in no time. I think I've already saved at least $30 in just three weeks...

I've never tried their soda mixes, but I can attest that my homemade sparkling water sure does hit the spot! And it's fun, too :)

Now, if I wasn't such an addict, this might not be so green (I mean, it takes some energy to make the system, so if you were only an occasional user, you'd probably be better off just buying finished products at the store). Regardless, for you bubbly water addicts out there - I highly recommend checking it out!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Say Goodbye to E-Waste

This morning I was cruising through the CNN homepage to see if the world had fallen apart (it hasn't, and Jon & Kate are still on the rocks, in case you were wondering). By chance, I happened to find a cool article about a nifty company that will pay you for your old electronics.

No more putting your old ipod in a heap of electronics...simply ship it to and they'll send you some cash. The entire premise of the company is that if an item still works, why not reuse it instead of demolish it for parts.

Once they receive your shipment, Gazelle evaluates it to determine whether or not it can be sold on the secondary market. If so, you get cash! If not, they'll recycle it for you at no cost. Ok, it's not quite that simple on the Gazelle side, but, for you, the electronic recycler, it's a great option.

In addition to your old iPod, they'll buy your old cell phone, laptop, video games, external drives, LCD monitors, desktops, calculators, etc. Pretty great concept...I think I'm going to be digging through my closet of retired electronics!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weighing Environmental Impacts

This morning, my husband announced that he was finished using the metal water filter for the coffee maker and was going to used recycled paper filters instead. When he saw the look of horror on my face and my green horns emerging, he suggested that the paper filters take no water to clean... and it takes a lot of water to get all of the coffee grains out of our metal filter holes.

Of course I know that paper filters likely have an embedded water footprint due to their manufacturing process and obviously take energy to make, but we likely use much more water per filter cleaning out that metal thing. So which is better for the environment? Metal reusable filters that take a gallon or so to get clean each time or recycled paper filters? Honestly, I'm not sure I know, and it got me thinking of all of the times recently when I've been hard pressed to know the right green thing to do. Like, is it better to replace 3 light bulbs with compact fluorescents or just one light bulb with an LED bulb (if money is an issue). Or if you happen not to have a bag with you... is paper or plastic better? Or, if you only have two choices at dinner, Alaskan salmon or farm raised white fish, which is better - one that is flown in from far away or one raised in captivity?

I think all this environmental talk has raised many great questions, but it is terribly confusing sometimes and not intuitive at all. I find myself having to prioritize values that I never even knew I had before. For example, I like the idea of the salmon living wild and free versus that poor white fish stuck in some man-made pond even though the salmon came via plane. Chances are the salmon has a little more protein in it as well, satisfying my appetite so that I'm not likely to want a second helping of food.

I guess the best part about all of this is that those of us with these strange ethical dilemmas are at least thinking about things rather than blindly making choices with no consideration for the environment at all. It can be exhausting though!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Green = Productive

We've been talking about this for a while, so it should come as no surprise that a new study by the University of San Diego and CBRE found that employees working in green buildings are more productive than those in traditional buildings. Some juicy tidbits:

  • 45% reported that they had experienced 2.88 fewer sick days on average
  • 54.5% reported being more productive
  • Present value financial benefits could range from $37 to $55 per square foot
Check out the information in the article:USD/CBRE Study Finds That Employees in Green Buildings Are More Productive Than Those...

Or, read the full report.

Image source: Portland Sentinel

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No place like Home

I just recently got back from an incredible trip to Argentina, my time was split between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. While in Buenos Aires, I stayed at a great hotel in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood. Hotel Home, started by a British record producer and his wife, an Argentine PR director is absolutely one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. While the hotel design itself is worthy of pages and pages of praise, the people that work there really make hotel Home live up to it's name.

Anyway, the rooms at Home were equipped with something I have never seen before. Attached to the room key is a plastic card the size of a credit card. The plastic card is what activates the power supply to your room. So, when you open the door, you insert the plastic card attached to your key into the wall receptacle right inside the door (See top photo). This simple action activates the electrical current into your room. Everything that you had left on, on the way out like lights, TV, mobile phone charger, turns back on. While this is cool to come back to, the real benefit is that when you leave and take your key (with plastic card attached), in one simple quick action you are able to deactivate all of the electrical current into the room. This is a tremendously effective and easy way to reduce power usage. It is so simple and brilliant that I started wondering about other applications. I have stayed in hotels all over the world and vastly different levels of comfort and I've never seen this before. Wouldn't it be great to see this in US hotels? With some slight modifications, wouldn't it be wonderful to see this technology in the workplace? Imagine if the swipe card or fob that you use to get into your office building could also be used at your desk to turn on your task light, computer, and monitor all at once. Then, at the end of day when you leave, you take your card/fob with you and all of your electronic equipment shuts off automatically. This would even be great to use in dorm rooms. With tuition rates far outpacing inflation, any way to help cut costs may help the overall price of education. The possibilities are fun to think about. I think that people are generally good about turning off lights and the television when they leave home (where they pay the bills). However, when people are in places like hotels and their office and someone else is picking up the bill, laziness kicks in. This seems like such a great solution.

I posted some other pics from Home Hotel for some eye candy of the best place to stay in Buenos Aires. The Home breakfast (pictured) was the way I wish I could start everyday.

Green Fonts?

OK, now I've seen it all... green FONTS? Acutally, this is kind of interesting. Spranq, a Utrecht, The Netherlands creative communications firm, has created a font with "holes" in it called Spranq Eco Sans. This font apparently reduces the amount of toner / ink cartriges needed when printing (they claim 20% savings). The Ecofont website claims, "After extensive testing with all kinds of shapes, the best results were achieved using small circles." It looks very similar to Verdana (see example below):

They recommend using a font size of 10 or 12 so that the fonts are less... well, holey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Use Pedal Power to Charge Your Batteries

For those of you who complained in our post Make Your Bike Electric! - about how using an electric bike is greener than driving but still uses carbon - this post should make you happy.

There are a number of interesting "pedal power" gadgets out there, but I'm looking forward to the BioLogic FreeCharge from Dahon. It puts a dynamo on a bike wheel that then charges a battery powered USB hub which you in turn plug your MP3 player/PMP or any other USB-chargable device into. Dahon claims that a full charge will be reached at around three hours of cycling. The BioLogic FreeCharge will be available in March 2010 for around $100.

It will charge camera batteries, iPods, phones and whatever small gadgets you have lying around that need regular juice. Now that's a productive workout.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why White Roofs are More Energy Efficient

Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, discusses why white roofs are better for the environment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why Labor Unions are Going Green

Leigh Stringer interviews Tom Kriger, Provost and VP for Academics for the National Labor College on why the NLC is creating a new Green Workplace Representative Certificate program on The Green Workplace Radio.

The National Labor College is in Silverspring, Maryland and the only accredited college devoted exclusively to training and educating union members, leaders, activists and staff. Turns out... labor is really pro-green, especially when it comes to re-tooling the workforce to be competitive and supporting local green jobs.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Commercial vs. Residential Building Energy Use

I've found a new favorite place for juicy green info... David Chu's Facebook Notes Page (aka Secretary of Energy or our proverbial "Energy Tsar"). He posted this little chart the other day that breaks down energy use by commercial vs. residential use. The big difference? Commercial energy use is largely driven by lighting versus heating (the more likely candidate at home). Many people ask me where to focus their attention when it comes to energy use. This little chart is a nice cheat sheet. That said, I believe that computer/office equipment creates a bit more energy proportionately (if you've got lots of servers, that number goes up more).

Drivin' on Sunshine

We've talked a lot about solar power and a lot about transportation, but this is the first time I've heard of this awesome bit of news (from autobloggreen): Solar Roadways get prototype funding from DOT.

Basically, this is a system in which all asphalt would be replaced by a series of structurally engineered solar panels. While this is an awesome concept (think of all the energy generated from the sun hitting our roads, parking lots, and driveways), the inventors have taken it a step further: they plan for these roadways to heat themselves (no more plowing), light themselves, and provide charging for EVs. Pretty cool!

Let's hope that next year we're reading about how the technology has been proven and it's being rolled out world wide!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why Cap and Trade Should be the Least of Your Worries

Leigh Stringer from The Green Workplace Radio Show interviews LaRee DeFreece from HOK St. Louis on cap and trade policy. LaRee outlines some serious issues we’ll need to face over the next few years. Listen to her HERE and understand why cap and trade is only a small part of a major sea change coming to our marketplace!

Green Consumer Myths

Great blurb in EcoHome Magazine: 6 Myths of Green Consumers

A study done by the Shelton Group found that there is no "typical green consumer" and that green consumers aren't really as green as you (and marketing people) might expect.

Some of the interesting factoids:

  • Top concern: the economy
  • Top reason to reduce energy use: save money
  • Almost half think CO2 depletes the ozone layer (it doesn't)
  • Green consumers don't fall neatly into any demographic category
  • Knowledge doesn't always mean people will make greener choices.
Interesting stuff. Check out the article!

Image source: paradise earth

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Streetlights that Dim with the Moon

Lunar-resonant streetlights, designed by Anton Willis of Civil Twighlight, LLC, are LED outdoor lights that dim when the the ambient light in the night sky increases. From the Index Awards website:

Now in talks with communities in San Francisco, where he lives, and in Austin, Texas, Willis is in an active search for test markets for his Lunar-Resonant Streetlights, which use a sensor to measure and respond to moonlight.

His light source is housed in a fixture folded from a single sheet of aluminum. The arc of the shape is inspired by the lunar analemma, a geometrical diagram of the moon's movement.

Willis agrees that Floridian coastal communities could be particularly right for this lighting system because of the needs of nesting sea turtles on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shores. "A sort of peripheral area of research I was into involved how natural and astronomical cycles are involved with physiology and the human body and other animals.

We love the enginuity of this simple device... no parking lot should be without it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Make Your Bike Electric!

So you own a bike, and want to reduce your carbon footprint, but you don't want to arrive at work sweating and smelly? Have no fear... make your bike electric! Check out this electric bicylce conversion kit! Made by Flexitron, you just assemble to the bike you already own and go!

Their website claims it is built for "rough and tough use" in all terrains and you can go a minimum 30 kilometers on a full charge. So now you have no excuse!

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