Saturday, May 30, 2009

How to Move the Transportation Industry from Oil to Electric

Click on the TED link below to hear Shai Agassi talk about this concept of reducing our dependance on oil for transportation and moving to all electric cars supported by an electric "infrastructure." He suggests that we separate the car purchase from the "battery" purchase. People in the future may buy cars, but their battery could be swapped out regularly in "battery stations." It's an amazing concept that actually might work and scale very quickly. Listen to this talk and then go to Better Place to find out more about Agassi's company.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finding Green Jobs at the USGBC

With lots of "turnover" in the building industry these days, a number of people have approached me about re-inventing themselves and becoming part of the green workforce that is rapidly emerging everywhere. These jobs, primarily referred to green collar jobs, are popping up in lots of unusual places. We wrote about this over a year ago: check out The Green Talent War.

I noticed today that the U.S. Green Building Council has job postings on their Career Center page, with openings at the USGBC (obviously) as well as the General Services Administration, Southern California Edison, Battle Creek Public Schools and the like. Seems like a good place to find a public or institutional sector position.

If you all know of other sites like this, I'd love to hear about them - and will give them publicity on this blog. This is a really exciting development in our economy... enough of this doom and gloom from the media!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

BEST 10 WEBSITES TO GET YOU STARTED GOING GREEN

"BEST 10 WEBSITES TO GET YOU STARTED GOING GREEN" is the name of the article that caught my eyes recently. The article goes back to July, 2007, Krista Garcia says that there is more to greening our lives than separating paper and plastic from garbage.
Check out the article here and let us know what do you think about it.

The best 10 green sites were listed according the article as follows:

  1. Green Your Wardrobe
  2. Green Your Garden
  3. Green Your Outdoor
  4. Green Your Wedding
  5. Green Your Medicine Cabinet
  6. Green Your Computer
  7. Green Your Housekeeping
  8. Green Your Home Decor
  9. Green Your Pet
  10. Green Your Junk

    Enjoy!!!!

Chicks Dig Guys Who Recycle

It's about time the environmental industry caught on... sex sells. As much as we claim to be all high and mighty about taking action for the greater good of the world, we just can't help the fact that we are 99% chimp. Appealing to our machismo is not new to the environmental cause... remember the highly successful "Don't Mess with Texas" campaign? Now Coke has applied this idea to T-shirts in their Eco-Apparel store.  Note that Coke only sells these particular T-shirts in men sizes.  Hrmmm.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Green Workplace: Reviews

About the book:
As 21st-century companies realize they'll need to be green to compete, sustainable ideas are spreading like wildfire throughout all fields of modern business. In "The Green Workplace," Leigh Stringer, an expert on sustainable workplace design and strategy, shows companies on the cusp of radically transforming their practices how to bring together diverse teams and establish new organizational governance for creative problem-solving in greening their workplace. Her hands-on green strategies are based on concrete and cost-effective changes such as working from home, ways to cut commuting costs, video conferencing to cut down on travel, increasing access to natural light to save energy and the like.

Stringer explains how managers can implement these changes smoothly and efficiently. In solving key problems, she shows companies how a green business reduces costs, increases productivity, improves recruiting and retention, and increases shareholder value, in addition to benefiting the environment.

Reviews:
"A must-read for any company, regardless of its place on the green spectrum. The Green Workplace includes great information for companies just beginning to green their offices or for those who are further along in the process. From alternative work options to the greening of actual buildings and spaces, The Green Workplace has it all!"

--Alicia R. Martin, Sustainability Manager, Sprint

"This is one of the most useful books I have ever read—Leigh Stringer has taken on 'green' in the most holistic of ways. To inform, educate and inspire while at the same time reeling off fact and after fact, and idea after idea, is no mean achievement, but that she did so in a way that is eminently readable is a wonderful bonus. Stringer’s passion and enthusiasm for the subject is infectious; no contemporary business organization should be without this book."

--Chris Hood, Program Manager, the HP Workplace

Leigh surfaces the many challenges businesses may face in their quest to 'go green.' Her passion for the environment comes through with each turn of the page. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand environmental issues in the workplace, and how we can begin replacing destructive behaviors with practices that will ensure future generations enjoy the same pleasures we experience today."

--Randy Knox III, Sr. Director of Global Workplace Solutions, Adobe Systems Incorporated

"This book is a good compilation of the issues facing corporations today. Fortunately, there are also examples of solutions that have been implemented. Ms. Stringer recognizes that there is no silver bullet solution, but does a good job of highlighting some of the silver buckshot that can help businesses improve their ecological footprint. We must recognize the challenges and change our behavior in a controlled manner before it becomes imposed on us in a harsh manner. The recent financial crises should have taught us this lesson--there is no bailout planet available for our ecosystem."

--Paul Westbrook, Sustainable Development Manager, Texas Instruments

"Leigh Stringer hits the nail squarely on the head with The Green Workplace. Anyone designing a green building without full consideration of the people effect is missing the boat. Stringer shows how you can have a fully green building, highly energy-efficient, with a healthy and productive workforce, if we’re willing to rethink our assumptions and current practices. It’s never ‘either/or’ but always ‘both/and’ that we need to consider in designing and operating our workplaces."

--Jerry Yudelson, author of The Green Building Revolution

"From the newest cutting-edge green technologies to the small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference, The Green Workplace is an illuminating, accessible, and comprehensive guide that reveals how managers at every level across a wide variety of industries can make their offices and practices more sustainable, efficient, and well-suited to our complex, ever-changing world of business."

--Curtis Ravenel, Global Head, Sustainability Initiatives, Bloomberg, L.P.

"The Green Workplace is a smartly articulated and comprehensive strategy to transform the way you do business. Stringer attacks this critical challenge in the most intelligent way: by understanding how to use design thinking to change behavior. Recommended for anyone who wants to make change at work."

--Valerie Casey, Founder and Executive Director, The Designers Accord


Saturday, May 23, 2009

How I greened my commute with a shoe

At the beginning of April this year I decided to buy a comfortable pair of walking shoes and start walking to and from my office - a five mile round trip trek. I had heard about MBTs (Massai Barefoot Technology to the uninitiated) over a year ago, but wondered how good they could possibly be for over $200. Now, I had heard claims of everthing from weight loss and anti-cellulite powers to back and joint mending miracles, but I was skepticle. So I tried a pair on. I walked around the store for a good half hour and had to admit, they started to feel pretty cushy. So I took the plunge.

I have been walking over 5 miles a day since then, over pavement, in the rain even, and I have to admit, these babies are a dream. My hips and knees don't hurt, I do believe my posterior has firmed up nicely, and I hate taking them off when I get to work. I don't know if my cellulite has diminished and I don't think I have lost any weight, but I do feel better every day and I actually look forward to walking everywhere now. I dropped my rarely-used gym membership so I could save for a new condo, I almost never have to refill my Metro SmarTrip card anymore since I am on foot all the time and I no longer take cabs home or to meetings in the middle of the day. DC is a pretty easy town to walk around if you have the right shoes ;-o

So in my eyes, a shoe that makes me love walking, gets me to engage in healthier activities, saves me money and reduces my carbon footprint... is a true shoe miracle.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ray Anderson on TED

Check out this fantastic video of Ray Anderson from Interface. Give yourself 15 minutes to learn how to green your company and inspire your colleages.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vote for the best of McDonald's Eco Operations Best Practices

I have to hand it to them, this is a great way to get the word out about global efforts to green thei business. Why not have the consumers learn about them and vote for their favorite. The upside is, whatever practice you vote for - if widely popular - may be used across the McPortfolio. My big soapbox issue is water, so I'll vote for #2. And I am still on the fence about biodiesel after reading about the massive deforestation in South America to plant crops for biofuels production, and the fact that these crops are very water intensive, and the fact that they may actually be net carbon postitive when you factor in the irrigation, refining and other parts of the biofuel production process.


McDonald’s released its 2009 Global Best of Green, a collection of environmental best practices from across its entire global operations. The report highlights over 80 best practices from numerous McDonald’s markets that cover initiatives such as energy reduction, green packaging design, customer engagement on environmental issues, and greener supply chain management.
McDonald’s has selected five initiatives it considers are the best and are extending the decision making process to its customers. Customers and interested stakeholders can cast their vote, here.

The choices include:

Information and inspiration through innovative software - McDonald’s France’s use of an interactive software, EcoProgress, to manage and reduce energy usage in the restaurant, achieved an 11% savings in electricity for participating restaurants over the same three month period between 2007 and 2006.

Water conservation in Australia - McDonald’s Australia has implemented a variety of water conservation measures including extensive landscaping and smart irrigation practices. Advanced stormwater retention tanks can save almost four million liters of water over a 20-year period.

Supporting the development of Biodiesel - In Brazil, Chile and Argentina, McDonald’s has partnered with local organizations that transform used cooking oil into biodiesel. Currently, 270 restaurants in these markets deliver their used oil to be converted into biodiesel, representing over 1,000,000 liters of oil to date.

Creating a gold standard for green design - In August, 2008, McDonald’s USA opened its first corporate-owned pilot green restaurant and received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in April, 2009. This “green building lab” in Chicago will help McDonald’s USA refine its green building strategy and identify practices that can be incorporated into future restaurants.

Engaging our employees and consumers on climate change - McDonald’s Japan participates in the Japanese government’s Team Minus 6% program to reduce CO2 emissions by 1kg per person, per day, by offering a discount to consumers who registered to participate in the program. During the 2007 campaign, McDonald’s Japan helped raise the number of participants from 40,000 to 380,000.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Find a Place to Recycle Everything in Your Neighborhood

I love this site by Earth 911! You basically type in what you want to recycle - paper, construction materials, paint, car batteries, motor oil, computers, auto parts, large applicances, inkjet cartridges, etc. - then you type in your address, and up pops the location, phone number and map of every nearby location that accepts recycled products of the type you specify. It also tells you whether they will accept business or residential drop off.

But of course, that's not all. They also have an iPhone app that you can use to find your recycling location in a flash on the go: http://earth911.com/iphone/

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Best Cities for Walking

Prevention Magazine recently released its list of the 25 best walking cities. This list is based on a survey with the American Podiatric Medical Association and Sperling's Best Places.

It was no surprise to me that top five were:

  1. San Francisco (I once walked 40 miles here over the course of a weekend!)
  2. Boston
  3. New York
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Chicago
I was also happy to see my hometown of WDC at #6 on the list!

Other categories included "safest" (Rochester, NY, Minneapolis, and Boston), " Best for Families" (San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle, WA), "Top Walking Communities" (New York, Boston,San Francisco), "Amazing Nature Walks" (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Ana), and "Great for Fitness Walkers" (Boston, Minneapolis, and Santa Ana).

Get fit and go green by doing your walking!

Image: Capitol Crescent Trail in Georgetown, Washington, DC

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bike to Work Week


May is bike to work month, and this week is bike to work week. So, a good little greenie, I hauled my butt to work on my bike...13.8 miles each way. It took 3 hours total. Great exercise - burned about 1,600 calories (pretty much my daily intake)...Good for the environment, good for my health, right?!

There were a couple of negatives I found:
  1. I had to shower twice (no one wants to sit by someone that's just been biking for an hour and a half, including my dog)
  2. I did not bring my lunch (figured that I really didn't want to carry any extra weight), so I had to buy...extra trash generated!
  3. I was super hungry from burning all those calories, so I bought a second breakfast (yum) and a snack...more extra waste!
  4. My sunglasses fell off and got smashed by a car (I left them there as I did not want to also be smashed by a car)...litter and waste of money!

Overall, I think the reduction in carbon emissions probably outweighs the extra trash and water useage...but, it's still not quite a zero!!

Image source: Daily Life - yes, that is the trail I was riding on today!

Going Green with your Coffee

There’s a lot to love about coffee; the aroma, the flavor, the morning ritual, and the high-voltage jolt of energy that gets the day moving. Researchers in Spain have discovered that a generous dose of coffee every day just might reduce the risk of developing heart disease, too especially for women.

Coffee is the world’s second most commonly traded commodity and your daily choice on coffee can have a global impact; and by going green with your coffee you are making environmental, economic and social differences. You can help the farmers, the earth, the environment and the future, all by making a simple choice to choose right!

Here are some tips that I have found might help us make the difference:

  • Seek out the coffee that have traveled the least distance to reach you and also aim at supporting local, independent farms, caf├ęs, and roasters.

  • Select organic coffee. Organic coffee does not utilize pesticides or other chemical solutions to natural problems and buying organic products makes you as a consumer support the natural and healthiest way to grow crops.

  • Look for Fair Trade Certification when you buy coffee, supporting fair trade organizations not only provides great products which make a tremendous impact on communities, but also can save you money

  • Look for shade-grown beans , When coffee crops are planted in the shade of over story trees, they reap the benefits of natural nutrients provided by leaves that fall to the ground and decay, creating a nitrogen-rich mulch over the soil.

  • Compost the roast; coffee grounds make outstanding compost. Coffee's high nitrogen content has made it a fertilizer of choice since days of yore. Composting leaves and grounds helps keep organic waste out of landfills, makes great soil, and keeps waste baskets dry.

For more information and tips, please visit the following websites
The Fair Trade Federation:
http://www.fairtradefederation.org/
Cooperative Coffees: http://www.coopcoffees.com/
Specialty Coffee Association: http://members.scaa.org/default.aspx
Green your coffee break: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/green-coffee-break.html

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Zipcar.....behind the scenes


Everyone knows how convenient Zipcars are for their members. As a long time user and fan, I was quite excited by a recent opportunity to speak with Ellice Perez of the Washington, DC Zipcar location.

Here are some quick facts that you may or may not know about Zipcar:

  • Members who give up their cars save an average of $600 a month.

  • Zipcar estimates that “Ninety-five percent of people living in the 15 largest cities don’t need to own cars. If just 5 percent of those people sign up, there will be a million members”.

  • Zipcars are cleaned at least every 9 days. In most locations, cleaning a car uses less than 1 gallon of water. Alexandria, Virginia cars are cleaned using waterless technology.

  • Zipcar currently has approximately 300,000 members and 5,500 cars in London and North America.

  • The company estimates that for every Zipcar introduced into an area, 15-20 cars are taken off the road.

  • The Zipcar fleet averages 28 miles per gallon. (Not bad at all!)

Luckily, for all of us users, there is a projected 40 percent growth in 2009.....so other people are realizing the benefits. Carbon emissions from transport account for a large proportion of the global total, and the more travelers can hop on the bus or walk the better. However, there are sometimes when a car is necessary.

One of the truly exciting results of Zipcar is that the service is actually changing behavior – users are more likely to take a walk or cycle, resulting in a healthier population. While cars are not going to disappear from city streets overnight, a steady reduction in road use will help the planet and could give people a better quality of life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Sexy Recyle Bin



Leave it to the Italians to create a sexy recycling bin. This egg shaped object, designed by Gianluca Soldi and Italian architect Gianluca Slodi, give new life to the ever-present blue and boring standard issue. The product, called the Ovetto (little egg in Italian) is made of recycled polypropylene.

I'm not sure this particular design matches the decor in my office, but it's directionally on the right track. Why should trash bins be hidden in cabinets when they can look this good. And what a great conversation starter about recycling!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Erasible Paper

Xerox Corporation scientists have invented a way to make prints whose images last only a day, so that the paper can be used again and again. The technology, still in a preliminary state, blurs the line between paper documents and digital displays and could ultimately lead to a significant reduction in paper use. Xerox estimates that as many as two out of every five pages printed in the office are for what it calls "daily" use, like e-mails, web pages and reference materials that have been printed for a single viewing. Since their research estimates that the 15.2 trillion pages printed worldwide will grow 30 percent over the next 10 years, the 20 percent decrease in paper made possible by the use of erasable paper will help mitigate this.


Source: Reincarnation for Paper, Without Recycling, Green Tech Media, Jennifer Kho

Monday, May 4, 2009

Feral Fruit


Now that spring is in full bloom (and the economy is still in hibernation), green foodies can enjoy free, wild fruits from their neighbourhoods with a little help from Fallen Fruit maps.

This LA based organization was created in 2004 as a response to an artistic challenge: to create something that "addressed political and social problems positively, by proposing solutions rather than mounting critiques". They provide a place for users to post maps that depict where locals can scavange from readily accessible fruit trees and bushes in their area -- resources that would otherwise be overlooked.

(Before you start picking at your neighbour's bushes, however: make sure there aren't laws in your area that prohibit picking off of city property, and more importantly -- make sure you know which plants are edible/poisonous.)

Although these maps have only been created for the southwest US so far, there has also been a rise in community gardens all over the US and Canada, and other local food initiatives.

[image source: fallenfruit.org]

Going Green With Your Green

Going Green with your WORKPLACE,
Going Green with your HOME,
Going green with your FOOD,

How about going green with your GARDEN!!!!

"Going green" involves reusing, recycling, and reducing, but it also involves rethinking of how we do things. I find it interesting to share with you some tips on how to go Green with your Green

  • Go local – for plants, fertilizers and mulch,

  • Buy compost and mulch from a landscape recycling center or other local producer,
  • Look for pots made from peat, paper, rice hulls, wheat straw, corn, and even coconut fibers,
  • When purchasing plants, check with the garden center to see if they will accept returned pots,

  • Check soil after half hour of soaking to determine proper watering period. An inch of water will wet an average of 6-15 inches of soil, depending on soil type.

  • Use grey water from showers, bathtubs, dishwashers, washing machines, and sinks to water plants whenever possible,

  • Eliminate the need for harmful garden chemicals by pampering ur plants with healthy, nutrient-rich soil from the get go. “Healthy soil, rich in minerals, nutrients and ’good bugs,' maximizes a plant’s own healthy immune system to let it naturally resist pests and diseases,

  • Reduce overfeeding by using environmentally responsible feeding practices
    Mow less frequently and cut the grass longer so the top growth protects the roots, and water less frequently to force the roots to grow deeper, which keeps them cooler and less susceptible to drought damage. For tough lawns, use a soil conditioner with good micro-organisms and aerate to encourage soil health,

  • Choose least toxic pest control methods,

  • Use 100 % organic repellents to keep geese, groundhogs, moles, mosquitoes, rabbits and squirrels away,
  • Shred unwanted newspaper, and put it in the compost pile. Newspapers can also be moistened and used under heavy layers of wood mulch to reduce weeding and conserve moisture, and

  • Plant 2 more fruit trees







For more information and tips please visit the following websites;
Organic Treatments;
http://www.pmac.net/going_green.html
Going Green in the Garden; http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/champaign/homeowners/080403.html

Reuse in Action: Clever Boxes


My three year old can get a lot of use out of an old box. But Matt Embrey's HangerPak takes this to a new level. I love the idea that the box can be reused, and the fact that it requires a bit of assembly. Instant fun project for kids!


Here's another fun idea... reusing the pizza box! It's a regular pizza box that is pre-perforated so it can serve several uses: 1) Pizza Box 2) Dinner Plates & 3) Space Saving Storage Box. The company that designed this, Eco Incorperated, has several patents pending and they are looking for business to license the design.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More fun Websites

I was reading Time Magazine's special edition this month, and have been really enjoying The Green Design 100 list.

One part I'd like to share with you are the top green websites...mostly retail sites, but definitely some interesting stuff in there.
  • yooxygen.com - a new initiative by yoox.com that combines eco-friendly e-commerce with education and green partnerships.
  • greenwithglamour.com - green retail and fun blog.
  • wholetravel.com - inspirational travel site complete with listings of the greenest accommodations.
  • inhabitat.com - a great blog about the"future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future."
  • greenzer.com - another green e-retailer, with the goal to "provide the tools for everyone to help be more eco-friendly and conscious of the environment and our impact on it."
  • re-nest.com - blog with tips on how to "connect people to the resources they need to improve their homes, while reducing their reliance on stuff."
  • tonic.com - a media company focused on the good that happens each day in neighborhoods all around the world, including a retail portion that focuses on social benefits.
  • branchhome.com - an online retailer focusing on home goods/products that are better for the environment.
  • ecohomeresource.com - information central on greening your home: includes a "database of products and services of environmentally-friendly companies, plus interesting articles on every area of the house and advice from industry experts. "
  • sprig.com - green guide to style including celebrity news (!) and tips for fashion, beauty, and home.
  • idealbite.com - love this - sassy, short, and straight to my inbox - tips on green living!
  • envirogadget.com - for the techie-geek in all of us: a site focusing on gadgets that do good for the planet!

Image source: Green Chemicals

Friday, May 1, 2009

Which to select: LED, CFL, or Halogen?

The task of selecting appropriate lighting is always a challenge - and for a large installation should involve a specialized lighting designer....but if you're just changing out a light or two and your budget can't handle the pros, use this table (and these product reviews) to help you select the best option for your task:

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