Author Archives: Kasia Marciszewska

Kasia Marciszewska

About Kasia Marciszewska

Kasia Marciszewska is a writer and editor with experience working in magazines, newspapers and web. She covers topics relating to business, entertainment, health care, sustainability, philanthropy and more.

Recycling CLothes and more

Green News Roundup – LED Lights, Cothing Recycling Progams And More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about LED lights, clothing recycling programs, a solar-powered plane and more.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.

LED Lights to Brighten Mesa Streets
The city of Mesa is going green by replacing traditional light bulbs with LED lights. The city also hopes to save thousands of dollars with this eco-friendly replacement. Click the link to see a video on Mesa’s efforts.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – All Three Are Important
Many companies and consumers are focused on how much they recycle or how much recycled materials are in their products. However, this article points out that all three actions – reduce, reuse and recycle – must be done for a healthier environment. This article details how the paper products industry can be cleaner from factory to customer.

Recycle Your Clothes and Create Jobs
When you move or decide to change your style, it’s easier to throw clothes away than to find a place to donate them. However, used clothing is wasting away in landfills when it could be recycled and creating jobs. New York City is launching an initiative to combat the wasting of textiles, like old clothing, by placing donation centers in high-traffic areas. The city and its partners hope to make recycling clothing as easy as throwing it away.

Solar-Powered Plane Makes 24-Hour Flight
Solar-powered batteries, yes. Solar-powered cell phone chargers, sure. Solar-powered plane, what? A single seat plane that uses the sun’s rays to power itself during the day and also saves up energy to use during the night landed in Switzerland on Thursday, July 8, after a 24-hour flight. The company who produced the plane is hoping to fly around the world in this solar-powered aircraft in the future.

Turn Down the Air Conditioning!
Italian Energy company, Eni, started a program in 2008 to turn the air conditioning in its offices one degree Celsius, almost two degrees Fahrenheit higher than before the program. The company doesn’t allow employees to swelter in the heat, most employees don’t even feel the one degree increase. Employees are also allowed to wear lighter, summery clothing to work. This small, almost unnoticeable change decreased Eni’s summer energy consumption 9.5 percent. Maybe Arizonans should take a lesson from Italians?

Green News Roundup- Green Wedding, Alternative Fuels

Green News Roundup – Green Weddings, Alternative Fuels & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green weddings, alternative fuels, green burials and local sustainability-related events taking place throughout the Valley. Happy 4th of July!

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.


Green Wedding
This couple took eco-conscious to the next level by making their wedding a low-impact environmentally friendly affair.

Couple Recycles 400,000 Cans to Pay for Wedding
Green weddings certainly are in style! This couple took their dedication to the environment a step further when they used only proceeds from their recycled cans to pay for their wedding! The couple managed to recycle more than 400,000 cans and raise approximately $4,000 to pay for their specialy day. Local food, home-brewed alcohol and flowers grown specifically for the wedding make this wedding a truly low-impact, eco-friendly affair.

Green Homes that Float
From New Orleans to Dubai, from houseboats to Boeing planes turned into homes, these eight cool, and green homes float above the rest. All of these homes are eco-friendly and sustainable. Each has its own reason for floating, some are houseboats, some are meant to survive another massive hurricane in the Louisiana. These homes show that design and be functional, green and interesting.

Hurricane Alex Spreads Oil, Has Officials Pondering New Oil-Skimmer
As Hurricane Alex pushes oil to new places, disturbs more wildlife and discolors more beaches, officials may be considering a new option to remove the oil that is marring the gulf. Using an oil tanker that has now been converted into a skimmer, could be turning problem-causer into problem-solution.

Into the Green and Beyond
Some people are very dedicated to leading a sustainable lifestyle. They recycle, are conscientious of the environment and are dedicated to making our world a better place. Can this same dedication extend to the end of a person’s life? The New York Times Green Blog explores this issue and discovers an eco-friendly way to limit impact on the planet even at the end of a life: a green funeral. Traditional caskets wreak havoc on the environment, every year, 30 million board feet of hardwood, 104,000 tons of steel, 2,700 tons of copper and bronze and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete is buried in cemeteries across the nation.  A greener option is cremation and burial in a biodegradable urn, caskets made from renewable materials and burials in fields and forests. Though these types of burials are rare in the U.S. right now, there are options for those interested.

Casa Grande Hosts Alternative Fuels Workshop
The Renewable Fuels Association’s Alternative Fuels Workshop is coming to Casa Grande, Ariz.  If you are interested in learning more about fuels from Biodiesel to ethanol to Propane to vegetable oil, this workshop is right for you.  The Alternative Fuels Workshop will answer your questions about how to use renewable and alternative fuels to power your business and your life.  Visit www.altfuelsalliance.org if you would like to attend the July 23 conference.

Green Companies Flock to West Valley
With its proximity to California, freeways, available industrial space and nearness to other manufacturers, the West Valley has become a haven for green businesses.  Recently, Linamar Corp., announced plans to open a facility, which will initially employ 52 people, in Glendale.  Linamar Corp., is only one of several solar companies and suppliers to open and operate a facility in Glendale.  This Phoenix Business Journal article details the West Valley’s solar expansion.

Energy Efficiency

Green News Roundup – Energy Efficiency, Green Organizations & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about energy efficiency auditing, promoting your company as a green organization and more.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see in the roundup to kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles about sustainability efforts in the Valley and state.

REEis Provides Independence From High Energy Costs
REEis, a local Valley company that specializes in energy efficiency auditing and contracting is hosting an Independence Day promotion in hopes to get more efficient homes on our streets. Utilizing low cost, energy efficient improvements to our homes and commercial buildings can greatly reduce energy consumption and our dependence on oil and foreign energy sources. “America’s Energy Independence Day Promotion” will be offered for one week starting June 26. REEis is also offering Arizona homeowners a $29 comprehensive energy audit if booked by July 4th. If interested please call (480) 969-7500 or visit the company’s website at: reeishome.com

Is it Energy’s Turn Now?
The New York Times Green Blog looks at the possibility of energy and climate change legislation being in the works for the government. As the financial regulation nears completion, some Democrats are hopeful that this next challenge can be met before Congress leaves town in August.

June Education Forum: Green Marketing
The Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce is hosting their monthly education forum at Rio Salado College on Monday, June 28th at 5:30 p.m. The topic for this month’s forum is exploring best practices for promoting your company as a green organization. Learn about effective strategies to maximize your green marketing efforts and minimize impact on the environment. RSVP to the event here. For full details visit: www.arizonagreenchamber.org/Phoenix/

First U.S. offshore wind energy project faces lawsuit
Environmental groups plan to file suit in federal court against the Obama administration regarding the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. The groups accuse the administration of violating the Endangered Species Act with the approval of the project. The suit states that the project, which calls for a set of 130 wind turbine generators to be installed on Nantucket Sound, would fail to protect endangered birds and whales. Yikes, don’t know how this will pan out but I hope the Obama administration finds a way to work this out amicably.

Energy Saving Air Conditioning

Green News Roundup – Green Renovation, Energy Saving Air Conditioning & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about video conferencing, green renovation, energy saving air conditioning and local sustainability-related events taking place throughout the Valley.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.

Energy Saving A/C Conquers All Climates
As Phoenix rolls into its hottest time of the year, residents are all dreading the energy bill. Keeping cool requires non-stop air conditioning, and that doesn’t come cheap! Or does it? The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process that has the potential of using 50 to 90 (yes 90!) percent less energy than today’s best units. The process uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before. But alas Phoenix, we’ll still have to wait for our cheaper A/C as the system is best for dry climates that don’t get too hot or humid for example Denver. It doesn’t work well for climates such as ours or very humid climates like Miami. Still, it’s encouraging to know that alternatives are in the works and hopefully ours will come out in the near future!

Sealing Deals in Virtual Space
Video conferencing is a term we’ve all heard before. However, as technology has progressed so has this innovative conferencing method. Cisco-AT&T Telepresence is one of the latest incarnations of this exciting new technology. The New York Times Green blog covered this topic, noting the significant benefits limiting airline travel for conferences can have on the environment. Not only does this help the environment, it also helps businesses save money. London-based Carbon Disclosure Project examined “how greater reliance on teleconferencing might affect business costs and emissions,” also encouraging companies to collect data about greenhouse gas emissions hoping they will take steps to reduce them.

Valley Partnership Presents “Green Renovation for Progress & Profit”
Learn how to apply the green renovation and operation strategies of Arizona landmark, El Chorro Lodge, to your business.  The tagline of this breakfast, which will be held on Friday, June 25, at 7 a.m., is “A case study on solar strategies fueled in part by sticky buns!”  Come educate yourself on how to efficiently use green power in your business while chowing down on El Chorro’s famous sticky buns.  To register for this event visit www.valleypartnership.org.

New Meritage Green Home Concept Gets Kid-Friendly
Turn your kids into junior sheriffs working for fictional Sheriff M. Green who takes wasted energy from Wally Wasteful and gives it back to the community.  On Saturday, June 26 at 10 a.m., Meritage Homes will literally unveil its green home concept in Meritage Home’s Lyon’s Gate in Gilbert.  The work on this green home concept has been kept under a secretive green drape and will finally be revealed.  Contact Mary Garrett at (602) 432-2010 or mary@mgpublicrelations.com for more information on how to take part in this green unveiling.

Clean Up After Your Pet the Green Way
Ever wanted to clean up after your dog in a more environmentally-friendly way?  Well PoopBags, Inc. is here to help.  PoopBags, a pet waste disposal product, is made with renewable resources like corn.  This American-made product is 100 percent biodegradable, shelf-stable and will decompose at the rate of an apple after usage.  PoopBags, Inc. is trying to make the world a better place for generations to come.  If you’d like to order PoopBags, visit www.poopbags.com.

EarthFest Night is Back!
Valley Forward’s Annual EarthFest Educators Night is back for the sixth time.  Arizona kindergarten through 12th grade teachers have the chance to win $5,000 to put toward environmental programs in their classroom, school or community.  Free resources on environmental education and how to create a greener school will also be available to attendees.  EarthFest Educators Night combines education and entertainment in innovative programming that uses Arizona’s unique desert character.  To learn more about this free event, held Thursday, Sept. 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Phoenix Zoo, visit www.valleyforward.org.

USA Energy Guide

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy, USAEnergyGuide & More

I’m always on the lookout for developments in the local sustainability industry. USAEnergyGuide was started by three Arizona entrepreneurs passionate about the environment. Realizing that rebate and tax incentives are hard for consumers to navigate, they jumped at the opportunity to create a site that would be simple and user-friendly.

Originally only for Arizona residents, the site has recently expanded to include California and Texas with plans to add more states in the future. USAEnergyGuide is your free online source used to calculate rebates and savings that you can receive by switching to more sustainable forms of energy.

I had the pleasure of meeting with two of the company’s founders — Michael Barber, director of operations and Ken Bonham, director of business development — who took the time to answer a few questions I had about their company.

What led to the creation of USA Energy Guide?
One of our Founders was going through the process of researching how much it would cost to install solar panels on their home, how much they would save on a monthly and yearly basis and what the tax incentives and rebates were, but couldn’t find a site that answered all these questions. So, we sat down and mapped out how we could make this process easier for consumers.

What challenges did you encouter and how were these overcome?
Similar to many startups we had the classic chicken and egg scenario. In order for the company to be successful, we needed installers who matched our qualification criteria and qualified leads (consumers) who were interested in being contacted by these installers. We worked to introduce ourselves to every installer in the markets we served so they could understand how we could help them be successful and also focused on connecting to consumers via social media. Along the way, various local media outlets stumbled across our site and did stories on us. The press stories and word of mouth helped us overcome both these initial challenges.

What are the company’s full line of  services?
For consumers, we provide simple ways to understand how much money alternative energy would save them, what rebates and incentives are available in their geographic area and all associated rebates for the products they are interested in. For installers, we provide leads to consumers and business owners who are qualified and ready to purchase these products.

What is your favorite aspect of the industry/company?
Our favorite aspect of the sustainability and alternative energy industry is that it is rapidly expanding and changing every day. There are new advances in solar technology and energy efficiency regularly, and more and more consumers are trying to understand how they can minimize their impact on the environment. This makes every day different and pushes our team to understand how we can help both our customers — installers and consumers — reach their goals.

What kind of a role do you think sustainability plays in today’s Arizona economy?
Right now, the sustainability industry in Arizona is only in its infancy. As costs for alternative energy technology decrease and consumers’ interest in living a greener lifestyle increase, the industry has nowhere to go, but up. However (and this is big however), the industry’s Achilles heel is support from local, state and federal governments. Without broad based government support to spur continued growth, the industry could die a quick death.

What has been the company’s greatest achievement to date?
From the beginning our greatest achievement has been providing information to consumers they couldn’t easily find before. Along with this, it’s the stories we hear from people who have used our site, found qualified installers and are now enjoying solar panels or solar water heaters in their home.

What are your future plans for the company?
While we have been primarily focused on the solar and energy efficiency industries, the sustainability industry goes well beyond those two verticals. We have big plans to not only expand the site beyond those verticals, but become a community where visitors can find a wealth of information across a wide variety of sustainability topics, both on a national and local level.

www.usaenergyguide.com

Battling Urban Sprawl by Creating Parks

Green News Roundup – Recycling, Oil Spill, Climate Change & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about stylish ways to recycle your paper, climate change regulation, urban sprawl and more.

Please feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Two-in-One Design
The talented folks over at Pigeontail Design have come up with a way to recycle all that junk mail and decorate your living room at the same time. How you may ask? Answer: The Papervore. This versatile piece of furniture doubles as a coffee table AND a paper shredder. Just crank it and be rid of all those pesky flyers. On that note, here are some quick links about recycling paper here in the Valley: phoenix.gov and www.recyclearizona.net.

Gulf oil spill figures may be double earlier estimates
Unfortunately the oil spill disaster isn’t getting better any time soon. According to government scientists, as many as 40,000 barrels of oil per day have been gushing into the gulf. And even more bad news, BP has said that the blown-out well won’t be plugged before August.

Preventing Urban Sprawl with Parks
Phoenix has mastered urban sprawl, however, what if we could conserve land by creating more parks? This blog suggests that urban sprawl could be reduced if cities simply provided citizens with more park space. Parks provide citizens with the same open, natural space that yards do, but parks do it in a more space-conscious way.

Senate Rejects Republican Effort to Thwart Carbon Limits
This article from The New York Times details how a Senate vote could effect potential climate change legislation in the future. On Thursday, June 10, the Senate rejected an attempted block on new EPA carbon emissions limits. The EPA released findings in 2009 that showed that carbon emissions were a threat to human health and the environment. Limiting carbon emissions is a contentious debate on both sides of the aisle.

Green News Roundup- Moving Toward a Meat-Free Diet

Green News Roundup – Meat-Free Diet, BP Oil Spill In Perspective

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about curbing meat and dairy intake to save the world from impacts of climate change, the BP oil spill in perspective and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet
Meat lovers beware! According to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report a “global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” According to the report, as the global population grows to a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable. To reach their conclusions, the panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. “Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said.” The only way to reduce these impacts would be a worldwide diet change, one that doesn’t include animal products. What do you think? Can we lower our meat intake?

BP Oil Spill in Perspective
We’ve been hearing many news reports about the size and scope of the BP oil spill, but it’s difficult to put the facts into perspective when you’re observing from a distance. Sometimes the true devastation cannot be accurately portrayed. However, thanks to a new website there’s a way to bring the spill to a real-life vantage point. The site www.ifitwasmyhome.com uses satellite map technology to illustrate how the oil spill would look if it was in your state, near your home. The results are staggering. When I visited the site, I saw all of Phoenix and many surrounding communities covered in the black oil. The imagery is effective in showing just how serious this oil spill is.
For more photos of the oil spill and its aftermath visit the Huffington Post website.

AZ Energy Guide
Ever wonder what you can do to save money and make your home more sustainable? Well a local company has come up with a FREE solution to help you do just that. AZ Energy Guide makes it simple. Just log on, specify your property type, power company, average monthly bill and see what kind of savings there are available to you. Then, to further inquire about available rebates, simply type in your address. This website makes saving money with solar a no-brainer.

St. Joseph’s And Phoenix Children’s Announce A Strategic Alliance - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

St. Joseph’s And Phoenix Children’s Announce A Strategic Alliance

Two major forces in the Valley’s health care industry are joining together to ensure the future of quality pediatric care in Arizona. St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital are in the process of negotiating a strategic alliance that will make Arizona a medical destination for young patients with complex and acute health care needs.

“Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the country and it deserves to have a children’s hospital that is top tier in the country with the same breadth of programs, depth of resources and reputational scores for quality as children’s hospitals in other major markets,” says Robert Meyer, president and CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH).

Under the proposed alliance, St. Joseph’s will transfer a substantial portion of its pediatric service line to PCH. The collaboration will result in a full-service pediatric hospital, bringing together the best both hospitals have to offer. If an alliance is reached, much of the two hospitals’ pediatric medical staff, nurses and other staff will be united by mid-2011. At that time, the construction on PCH’s new 11-story hospital tower is expected to be complete, making Phoenix home to the second largest children’s hospital in the nation.

Under a current, non-binding memorandum of understanding, St. Joseph’s would continue to operate its neonatal intensive care unit and treat pediatric patients in its trauma unit, as well as patients age 15 and older. In addition, St. Joseph’s would be a minority member of Phoenix Children’s, with limited representation on PCH’s board of directors.

“When we brought our strengths to the table we became a tremendous force in the care of kids in this country,” says Linda Hunt, service area president of Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and president of St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center. “We have leaders in pediatric care, advocacy and research that we can bring together to make this incredible force and improve kids’ care in the Southwest.”

Along with creating a powerhouse pediatric hospital, the shifting of services will enable St. Joseph’s to fulfill its strategic plan to become a destination hospital for patients from across the nation and around the world. To that end, Hunt says St. Joseph’s is expanding specialty programs such as neurosurgery, neurology, cardiology and pulmonology.

The two entities already have collaborated on specific programs, including physician cross-coverage for the Children’s Heart Center and a National Institute of Health grant that’s part of PCH’s Heart Center, housed at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s. In spite of the various joint programs, no large-scale alliance had ever been attempted. PCH initially approached St. Joseph’s about a wider-ranging alliance, and the timing proved to be just right. Due to state budget issues, capacity constraints St. Joseph’s is facing, and the expansion already underway at PCH, the collaboration seemed like the natural progression.

“When I approached Linda Hunt in 2008 about revisiting a formal collaboration, we agreed to discard the baggage of failed collaborations of the past and brought fresh thinking to the discussion,” Meyer says. “What we found is that we are more alike than different. We share a common vision and very similar values. We are equally committed to excellent medical care, (and) both need to grow.”

The challenges facing these two health care leaders are daunting. Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation, and medical centers and hospitals must be prepared to face a large influx of young patients in the future. However, with both noted hospitals banding together, incredible progress can be made.

“By combining our pediatric programs, we can achieve a level that would be on par with the leading children’s hospitals in the country more quickly and efficiently than doing so alone,” Meyer says.

Among other things, the alliance will improve access to higher quality pediatric health care services in a cost-effective manner, enhance recruitment and resources for services and programs, accelerate the development of research programs, maintain and improve medical services for the under-served and more, Meyer adds.

The process of finalizing the proposed alliance is ongoing. At this time, presentations outlining the plans for the alliance have been made to physicians and staff at both hospitals. In addition, feedback programs have been created to field any questions or concerns employees may have. The process of assembling work groups with representatives from both hospitals participating in the integration plans also has begun.

“We believe this strategic alliance with CHW/St. Joseph’s will enable us to achieve our bold vision to be recognized as a national leader in pediatric health care,” Meyer says. “This community benefits from the strength of two of the leading providers of children’s medical care, because we’re better together than alone.”

www.phoenixchildrens.com | www.stjosephs-phx.org

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010

Green News Roundup, Recycling Cigarettes, Solar and More

Green News Roundup – High-Efficiency Solar Projects & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about recycling cigarette butts, high-efficiency solar projects and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

A Call to Recycle Cigarette Butts
Every get annoyed by the countless cigarette butts that line every crevice of the sidewalks, roads, etc? Well fear not, a solution for this nuisance may be in the works! When New York State Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker received a suggestion for a cigarette butt recycling program from a constituent he admittedly “had a little chuckle” at first. Luckily, he didn’t dismiss the idea until he did a little research on it. Turns out scientists in China had discovered that “soaking cigarette butts in water creates a solution that can protect steel pipes used by the oil industry from corroding.” And that’s not all! A designer in Brazil cleans cigarette butts and spins them with sheep wool into clothes while an inventor in Ohio has a patent pending to turn cigarette butts into sealants and adhesives. Pretty impressive for something that most of us would assume is hardly fit to be recycled. Who knows what else may be on the horizon?

Victorville Campus to Unveil High-Efficiency Solar Project
A new high-efficiency solar project has been revealed at Victor Valley College in Victorville, Calif. The school’s new 1-megawatt plant will utilize concentrator photovoltaics, or CPV. The technology is claimed to generate more energy at lower costs while using less open space. The plant will sit on a six-acre dirt plot in Victorville and will provide 30 percent of the campus’ power. This $4.5-million facility will be the largest of its kind in North America.

Oil Spill in the Mangroves is a Disgusting, Sticky Mess
Guest blogger Philippe Cousteau, chief correspondent for Planet Green shared his up close and personal accounts of the BP oil spill while reporting from Grand Isle, Louisiana. His reports show a sobering reality of the effects as they hit close to home. After visiting with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fish Department he learns that oil has made its way into the mangroves. This means that some of the most fragile wetland habitats in the world are at serious risk.

Green News Roundup- Biogas Powered Data Centers

Green News Roundup – Greenhouse Gases, Biogas-Powered Data Centers & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about greenhouse gases, biogas-powered data centers and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

One Moos and One Hums, but They Could Help Power Google
“Information technology and manure have a symbiotic relationship,” said Chandrakant D. Patel, director of H.P.’s sustainable information technology laboratory. If these words are come as a surprise to you, you’re not the only one! According to this New York Times piece “with the right skills, a dairy farmer can rent out land and power to technology companies and recoup an investment in the waste-to-fuels systems within two years.”
It seems to be the perfect solution for all parties involved, companies need places to build and power their large computing center and “dairy farmers have increasingly been looking to deal with their vast collections of smelly cow waste by turning it into something called biogas.”

If You Build It…
In this piece in the New York Times Green Blog, it’s revealed that actor Kevin Costner “has been overseeing the construction of oil separation machines to prepare for the possibility of another disaster of the magnitude of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.”
Costner is most famous for his acting roles, but he is also an environmental activist and fisherman. He purchased the nascent technology from the government in 1995 and even put $24 million of his own money to develop the technology for the private sector. This week it was revealed that BP’s chief operating officer, Dough Suttles, stated that the company had approved six of Ocean Therapy’s machines for testing. The centrifuge processing technology essentially acts like a giant vacuum, that sucks oil from water, separates it and sends it back into the water 99.9 percent purified.

National Academy of Sciences urges strong action to cut greenhouse gases
This week, the National Academy of Sciences called for big changes in the actions to cut greenhouse gases. They called for “taxes on carbon emissions, a cap-and-trade program for such emissions or some other strong action to curb runaway global warming.”

These actions would increase the cost of using coal and petroleum, but the Academy argues that this is necessary as we continue to battle the negative impacts from climate change. The three reports, totaling more than 860 pages provide some broad outlines for the U.S. to respond to this ever-increasing threat.

EPA: BP Must Use Less Toxic Dispersant
The latest updates on the BP Oil Spill are available on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website. On Thursday, May 20th, the EPA issued a directive requring BP to “identify and use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from the list of EPA authorized dispersants.” Dispersants are a chemical that is used to break up the oil so that the oil beads are more easily degraded.

Green News Roundup- Alternative Energy Sources, Bioplastics and more

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy Sources, Bioplastics & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green entrepreneurs, alternative energy sources, bioplastics and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Body Heat: Sweden’s New Green Energy Source
This article will make you think twice the next time you’re sweating it out at the gym or simply walking to work. Swedish engineers have figured out a way to harness body heat and transfer it to energy for an office building. Though using excess body heat to warm a building isn’t a new concept, transferring it from one building to another is. The future for this new energy source is exciting!

Entrepreneurs Ditch Day Jobs to Create Green mobile apps
Two University of Arizona graduates developed a green application for the iPhone geared toward the environmentally conscious consumer. iGoGreen offers green tips for hundreds of situations.

Solar Inspired, Eco-Friendly Gallery Opens at Arizona Science Center
Arizona Science Center announced the grand opening of its newly renovated gallery, Solarville. This hands-on gallery is focused on sustainability including exhibits on how to harness and distribute sustainable green energy, exploring ways to utilize solar and renewable energy in your everyday life and more. The exhibit opens May 23 and will offer daily demonstrations.

The Promise and Pitfalls of Bioplastic
In a previous post I wrote about petroleum and its strong presence in our everyday products. Since petroleum-based plastics do not biodegrade, bioplastics are hoping to fill the gap. This article discusses the future of the environmentally friendly plastic and its role in a petroleum-based world.

50 Surprising Products Made From Oil

50 Surprising Products Made From Oil

With the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico being thrust into the national spotlight, I started thinking about how big a role oil really plays in our lives’.

Treehugger compiled a very interesting and surprising list of products that feature petroleum or its byproducts.

After reading through this list, I concluded that I’m absolutely surrounded by petroleum. The experience was certainly eye-opening for me, I had no idea that petroleum literally was seeping into nearly every aspect of our everyday existence. Stretchy jeans, shirts, running shoes, lip gloss — you name it. They all have petroleum! iPods, cell phones and even gum also have petroleum byproducts. The author of the post makes a good point, doesn’t this make you wonder what we ever did without petroleum?

Does knowing all this change your daily routine? Does it make you think twice about the cosmetics and products that you buy?

Source: www.treehugger.com

BP Oil Spill

Green News Roundup – Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico, Eco Style

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green job growth, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, eco style and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com.

Green Jobs Slowly Ticking Upward
According to the NY Times Green Blog the green economy is growing, albeit slowly. Though green services and businesses accounted for 1 to 2 percent of the private business economy in 2007, there are many signs pointing to the number being on the rise.

Eco Style
Being “green” is becoming quite stylish. Art of Board, a design company based in Hannover, PA, has transformed discarded skateboard materials into a variety of unique design elements including household accessories, wall tiles and more.

BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
The devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has captured the attention of the nation and the world. The Environmental Protection Agency has set up a special website to track progress and containment of the spill. A 100-ton containment structure will be placed over a blown-out oil well; the plan is to contain the biggest leak with the structure. Visit the site to get the most up-to-date information.

Sopping Up An Oil Slick With Castaway Hair
In order to protect coastlines from the approaching oil slick, containment booms are typically used to sop up the oil. However, an alternative source for the booms is something you probably wouldn’t think of — hair.

60-foot Vessel Sets Sail On an 11,000-mile Voyage
Sure sailing from the San Francisco Bay to Sydney, Australia isn’t that unusual. However, doing so on a boat made from recycled plastic bottles is! The aptly named “Plastiki” set sail on March 20. The goal of the voyage is to “call attention to environmental issues like bottled water and plastic waste.”  Solar panels and windmills power the vessel, and the crew stays in touch via Skype, Twitter, blogs and video updates. Life on a boat made from 12,000 reclaimed plastic bottles isn’t easy, but the crew is determined to finish their journey in a sustainable fashion.

Green News Roundup, Wind Energy in US

Green News Roundup – Wind Industry, Green Products

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green products for the home, that status of the wind industry in the U.S. and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com.

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Cape Cod Project Is Crucial Step for U.S. Wind Industry
Offshore wind turbines have been crucial to generating electricity in nine European countries, and China’s first opens this month. Finally, after 10 years of effort, the Obama administration is getting ready to announce the decision on Cape Wind off the coast of Massachusetts. The decision could determine the future of wind energy in the United States. (This article, written Monday, provides context for the project, which was approved Wednesday.)

Why Are Windmills Always White?
Now that the Cape Cod project has been approved, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of how wind energy and windmills work. It may all seem basic, but this article explains the little nuances of windmills — the color, the design — and how they work together to provide us with energy.

IKEA to put solar panels on roof of Tempe store
IKEA is planning to install 2,600 solar panels on its 46,000-square-foot Tempe location.  It will produce about one million kilowatt hours of electricity every year and offset 712 tons of carbon. This is IKEA’s third solar project, following Pittsburgh and Brooklyn, and is expected to be completed in the fall.

Green Products for the Home
Renovating? Seize the opportunity to make adjustments to reduce energy and water use. This article suggests places to shop for sustainable home items, and suggests specific items, such as the Solatube, a skylight-like device that can be installed on a roof to redirect sunlight into a house. As long as you’re making changes, might as well make them green.

60% of Americans Live Where Pollution “Reaches Dangerous Levels”
Steps have been taken to decrease air pollution in cities in recent years, but unfortunately it continues to be a problem. 175 million Americans currently live in places where air pollution reaches dangerous levels on a regular basis. Hopefully legislation will keep coming and pollution will continue to decrease.

livabilitysummit

Valley Forward Hosts 7th Annual Livability Summit

Valley ForwardAs the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Valley residents also had a reason to celebrate.

To commemorate Earth Day, Valley Forward was once again at the forefront of the sustainability movement in the state — hosting their Seventh Annual Livability Summit at the Wyndham Phoenix.

The title of the program, “What Does the Future Hold for Sustainability?”, proved to be a launching pad for intelligent and interesting observations from speakers, panelists and attendees.

The event began with a welcome from Valley Forward president and Green Scene guest blogger, Diane Brossart, followed by Jeanne Forbis, Valley Forward Association Chair of the Board and Global Corporate Affairs Communication Manager at Intel Corporation. Ms. Forbis introduced the morning keynote speaker: James Charlier, an expert in smart growth strategies and sustainable transportation systems. Mr. Charlier gave a lively, informative presentation before turning to the morning’s panelists to continue the discussion.

The panel titled: “How to Ensure a Sustainable Future for our Region” was comprised of:
Sue Clark Johnson | ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy
Paul Newman | Arizona Corporation Commisioner
Shannon Scutari | Arizona Department of Transportation
Mo Mukibi Jr., Ph.D. | CH2M Hill

Mayor Phil Gordon
Mayor Phil Gordon announced the City of Phoenix received a $25 million federal grant for its Green Rail Corridor project.

Each panelist offered their own unique perspective about the challenges Arizona faces in planning for a sustainable future. The lively debate then extended to the audience who asked some interesting questions.

For a complete list of all the speaker’s presentations visit Valley Forward’s website.

The summit was headlined by keynote speaker Jeremy Rifkin, renowned economic futurist and sustainability expert who wowed the audience with his incredible knowledge and experience. As president of the Foundation of Economic Trends and the author of 17 best-selling books on the impact and technological changes on the economy, workforce, society and environment, Rifkin is a seasoned voice in the field. Rifkin used his own experience as founder and chairperson of the Third Industrial Revolution Global CEO Business Roundtable to enlighten the crowd with some ideas about a possible sustainable future for Arizona. During his speech, Rifkin gave examples of several European countries that have already implemented astounding sustainable economic plans that can serve as a great example for the U.S. and for Arizona.

Rifkin’s compelling presentation got everyone thinking and emphasized the critical juncture we’re facing. He noted that we are at the turning point of our species or the “end of human civilization as we know it.” Rifkin further explained his reasoning by pointing out that we are living off 19th and 20th century ideas that are toxic to the biosphere challenges we face as a global society. The premise behind the Third Industrial Revolution is to harness smart technologies and global communication networks to create a renewable energy regime. Renewable energy and its growth is critical as well as harnessing this power by converting buildings into power plants. Lastly hydrogen storage, smartgrid and plug-in vehicles will maximize renewable energy and minimize cost.

Jeremy Rifkin
Author and economic futurist Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends delivered the luncheon keynote and signed copies of his book, “The Empathetic Civilization.”

Just hearing his thought-provoking ideas was incredibly inspiring. Implementing these ideas won’t be easy but Rifkin is optimistic that as more and more cities across the globe change their viewpoint and see the economic vitality sustainability can bring, a so-called “revolution” will take place.

Overall, the summit was an incredibly successful event. In addition, to the panel discussion, Valley Forward also hosted a resource area that spotlighted local initiatives for environmental concerns and sustainability issues. The organization was also proud to once again partner with the 2010 Future City Competition for 7th and 8th grade students, with winning students from Cochise Middle School attending the summit.

 

www.valleyforward.org

40th Anniversary of Earth Day

40th Anniversary Of Earth Day – Then & Now

As April 22nd draws near, sustainability-minded folks around the world are preparing to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the event. It’s hard to imagine that before Senator Gaylord Nelson created the event as a way to “force this issue onto the national agenda” there was no real concentrated efforts to do anything for the environment.

A lot has changed since 1970, when President Richard Nixon and Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency — the Environmental Protection Agency — in response to the growing public demand for increased environmental awareness. Now, sustainability and being “green” is a hot topic across the globe and Earth Day is a worldwide movement.

The Environmental Protection Agency also has evolved greatly since its inception and is doing its part to raise awareness about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The agency has numerous incentives and programs that you can learn more about on their website www.epa.gov/earthday/. The Pick5 initiative lists simple things you can do to help the environment. Just click on a category, for example “Waste” and a list of tips pop open to show you what you can do to help! An interactive map lets you see what Earth Day activities will be going on in your area and much, much more.

This Earth Day, as we reflect on the history of this worldwide event, lets join together to create a successful future of continued environmental awareness.

Eco-Friendly Surfboards

Green News Roundup – Eco-Friendly Surfboards, Electric FedEx Delivery Trucks & More

This week’s Green News Roundup has a variety of news articles focusing on sustainability-related issues from eco-friendly surfboards to electric FedEx delivery trucks and more.

As always, please feel free to send me any interesting stories that catch your eye to kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on green topics throughout the Valley and state. Learning more about the issues that affect us all will help lead us to a sustainable future.

Start-Ups Win With Plans to Displace Disposables
NURU Energy, a company that makes rechargeable lights and portable power generators designed to displace kerosene fuel used in off-grid villages in developing nations, took the grand prize at last weekend’s business-plan competition hosted by the William James Foundation. The Richard Heinberg Award for Sustainability went to EGG-Energy and Kwai won the Regional Prize.

Obama Bicycle Policy Wins Love From Cyclists, Scorn From Trucking Industry
Last month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the government is going to start giving bicycling and walking the same priority as cars in transportation planning and when choosing projects for federal money. It’s a controversial policy of course, but potentially a huge step in the world of environmentalism.

Green solutions as Earth Day turns 40
Next Thursday is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and CNN’s Green Solutions in Focus series is looking at solutions at issues affecting the planet. For instance, Vermont dairy farmers are experimenting with methods to reduce bovine greenhouse gas emissions…by increasing Omega-3 fatty acid in cows’ diets so that they burp less and produce more milk.

FedEx is geared up  for electric delivery trucks
Next month, FedEx Corp. will be introducing four new trucks to its fleet. These trucks aren’t like their conventional delivery vehicles, though – they are all-electric. An interest in reducing reliance on fossil fuels isn’t new to the company, which began using a hybrid truck in 2004. The new electric trucks will roll out in Los Angeles.

For eco-friendly surfboard shapers, more kelp in the lineup
Though surfing is often seen as an almost spiritual-like release for its aficianados, surfboards are actually wreaking havoc on the environment. The materials used to make surfboards will take generations to biodegrade, so you’d think a new movement of entrepreneurs hoping to find a more eco-friendly solution would be a breath of fresh air for the industry, but you’d be wrong. Instead, those trying to find a formula for surfboards that will be better for the environment are feeling some opposition.

Green Economy

Green News Roundup – Building A Green Economy, Solar Power & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about the benefits of making your home energy efficient, building a green economy and solar in Arizona.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.


Best of Green 2010: Business and Politics

Find out who the best political ambassador is, the best politics Web site, the best non-profit partnership and so much more, all with a “green” twist.

Building a Green Economy
This New York Times Magazine essay addresses how to cut greenhouse gas emissions without further injuring our economy. Along with a synopsis of climate change economics, the author dives into controversial aspects of the issue and sorts it all out so we don’t have to.

Arizona to world: Do we have solar!
The LA Times spotlighted Arizona’s efforts to draw solar companies to the Grand Canyon State. Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Barry Broome is quoted in the article, emphasizing the state’s commitment to a sustainable economy.

Motivating People to make homes energy efficient
In this piece from the Washington Post, the author makes the case for energy efficient homes and looks at why homeowners don’t implement more measures. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, in the U.S. buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. However, making your home more energy-efficient reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Uncertainties of Climate Change

Valley Forward Hosts Panel On Uncertainties Of Climate Change

On March 24, Valley Forward hosted a luncheon for its members at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix. But this wasn’t an ordinary luncheon. It featured a panel discussing a topic that relates to us all: the uncertainties of climate change.

The panel — moderated by Grady Gammage, Jr., of Gammage & Burnham — was made up of four panelists:

David Modeer, general manager of the Central Arizona Project
Henry Darwin, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Gary Yaquinto, president of the Arizona Investment Council,
and Warren Meyer, proprietor of The Climate Change Skeptic

Each panelist brought their own unique view to the discussion and opened the eyes of the attendees by revealing all aspects of climate change. The differing opinions of the panelists proved to be the perfect recipe for a lively debate. Warren Meyer, who runs the Web site climate-skeptic.com staunchly defended his opinion that though he doesn’t deny that the world is warming, he has a different take on it than most. He talked about a second theory that he later described on his Web site:
“This second theory is that the climate is dominated by strong positive feedbacks that multiply the warming from CO2 manyfold, and increase a modest one degree Celsius of warming from man’s CO2 to catastrophic levels of five or even 10 degrees,” Meyer writes.

Meanwhile, tthe other panelists added their input into the discussion. Gary Yaquinto talked about the potential economic effects of controlling greenhouse gases while Henry Darwin focused on the position of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The luncheon was a great success in shedding some light on this topic and giving the public some insight into the effects on Arizona.

www.valleyforward.org
www.climate-skeptic.com
www.cap-az.com
www.azdeq.gov/
www.arizonaic.org
www.gblaw.com/

Copenhagen Climate Summit, Wind Energy and more

Green News Roundup – Copenhagen Climate Summit, Clean Technology & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about greening your workplace, the results from the Copenhagen climate summit, clean technology and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Clean technology investments bounce back
In an optimistic first quarter of 2010, $1.9 billion was invested into green tech startups – an 83 percent increase over a year ago, and the strongest start to a year ever. Where did the money go? Electric car-related startups got $704 million, and half of that went to a single Silicon Valley company. Other top industries were solar and energy efficiency.

Copenhagen climate summit wasn’t a flop, reports say
December’s Copenhagen climate summit was generally considered unsuccessful since it did not produce a new treaty to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But now experts say that the summit wasn’t a total failure after all – and may have had some successes, including garnering more pledged emissions reduction than the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

George W. Bush: wind power champion?
Wind power may have a new famous face. In a rare public appearance (he’s made very few since leaving office), George W. Bush will address the 2010 national conference of the wind power industry in Dallas in May.

Chemical exposure may triple breast cancer risk
Obviously chemical exposure is never good, and we’re all pretty familiar with the dangers. But a new study indicates that women who are routinely exposed to synthetic fibers and petrol products could be three times as likely to develop breast cancer. It’s a new study and there’s still that chance the link could be coincidental — but better to be safe than sorry.

How to: green your workplace in 6 steps without driving your co-workers nuts
We all know those people who take going green to the extreme, and it can be pretty annoying. Don’t shy away from going green for fear of being that person. Check out this article – the title speaks for itself.

Man rock climbing with another man on belay and a woman standing nearby

Courting The Locals Could Be The Key To Keeping Arizona’s Struggling Tourism Industry Viable

For years, state tourism and hospitality enjoyed a healthy dose of success. As the population boomed, so did travel, with out-of-state visitors increasing steadily from 2002 through 2007. But the recession, coupled with a decline in corporate meetings, made 2009 a very difficult year for the tourism and hospitality industry.

Arizona resorts and hotels that promoted staycations as a way to ride out the slow summer months, are now counting on them year-round to remain viable until the economy improves significantly.

“It’s not either/or; what we’re trying to communicate is that a staycation IS a vacation.”
- Debbie Johnson, Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association

“We are seeing more local and regional business to the resort throughout the entire year than ever before,” says Michael Stephens, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale. “If ever there was a time to take advantage of some really great offers in-season, this is the year.”

To stimulate in-state travel and help ease the pain of a sharp decline in occupancy, local tourism representatives are turning to residents and spreading the message about the allure of staycations.

“Staycations have been and will continue to be one of the vacation elements that many of our state residents enjoy,” says Rachel Sacco, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s such a rewarding experience. Throw something in the car and go, but you feel like you’re a million miles away.”

Industry insiders hope that by providing extra incentives and cost-saving measures to local travelers, tourism will get the boost it needs to get through the economic downturn.

“If embraced and harnessed correctly, tourism is the state’s strongest weapon against further economic woes,” says Debbie Johnson, president and CEO of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association. “If you’re tired of the economic slump and wish you could do something about it — take a trip, go out to a restaurant, and change the way we think about companies holding meetings. It’s the best way to personally affect the economy and get us moving back in the right direction.”

And the local market is one that can be deeply mined. According to the Arizona Office of Tourism’s (AZOT) year-end summary, the second largest tourist segment was comprised of state residents, with 9.8 million overnight visitors. Although domestic non-residents still made up the largest share of overnight visitors, Arizonans logged an impressive 33 percent of the state’s domestic overnight visitors in 2008.

Industry professionals are sending the message to locals that a staycation is a cost-effective alternative to out-of-state travel — no matter the season.

“Why spend tons of time and money on flights or inflated gas prices when we have such an incredibly diverse state with attractions and amenities that other people travel the globe to experience,” Johnson asks. “It’s not either/or; what we’re trying to communicate is that a staycation IS a vacation.”

Economic Impact

In AZOT’s year-end summary it was reported that direct travel spending in Arizona in 2008 was $18.5 billion. Travel spending also generated 166,900 direct jobs paying $5 billion in earnings. The report also stated that Arizona visitors staying overnight in paid lodging accounted for 41.2 percent of all visitor spending in 2008.

“Choosing a staycation keeps hard-earned money in our state, which generates tax revenues that trickle through the entire Arizona economy,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

From the Greater Phoenix area to Tucson and Flagstaff, in-state travel is important to every county, although some rely on it more than others. According to AZOT, travel spending is more critical to the economies of Arizona’s rural counties.

To help Arizona communities and tribal entities with their tourism development and marketing efforts, AZOT is coordinating an educational outreach program called Arizona Tourism University. The university conducts free workshops on tourism topics and offers advice on marketing plans, style guidelines and more.

Last year, AZOT also partnered with the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association to launch a Web site, www.valueaz.com, dedicated to helping individuals find the best travel deals available.

“We’re trying to help our members get the word out about their great deals, and educate residents that they can and should feel good about spending their money on in-state travel,” says Johnson, who is also president and CEO of the Valley Hotel and Resort Association in addition to serving as the executive director of the Arizona Tourism Alliance.

Deals for Locals

Along with the limping economy, a sharp drop in corporate meetings since 2008 has forced resorts to diversify their brands and market staycations. To that end, hospitality establishments across the Valley and state are pushing incentives aimed at the local community.

“We have chosen to be creative in positioning ourselves with a variety of different package options,” says Michael Hoffman, managing director of the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa.

The Boulders has created a series of adult-centered activities, including rock climbing, hiking and spa treatments, to lure Arizona’s adult community.

Even resorts that are synonymous with exclusive luxury are now a more affordable option for locals.

“The staycation enhances our business,” says David Richard, area director of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels, a hotel and leisure company that owns the Phoenician. “(Staycations) are more important than ever in building occupancy. They serve as a catalyst for increasing business across the entire resort.”

Richard also notes that staycations allow the local community to experience the Phoenician at a much more attractive price point.

And the Valley staple is not the only high-end resort to recognize the importance of attracting residents during these dismal economic times. The Arizona Biltmore — a presence in the Valley since 1929 — also has set its sights on increasing its staycation market.

“We actually started marketing toward the Arizona market even before the downturn,” says Andrew Stegen, general manager of the Arizona Biltmore.

In addition to traditional advertising, the Biltmore has successfully utilized social media and Internet specials as a way of alerting locals about deals and promotions.

“It creates an opportunity for a lot of people to visit our resorts who in other circumstances see it as inaccessible because of price,” Stegen says.

Beginning on May 22, summer rates for the luxurious resort start at $99 a night. In addition to these reduced rates, the Biltmore offers numerous cost-saving options, including all-inclusive golf packages, spa specials and restaurant deals. Stegen is certain that with more exposure, staycations will change the way residents view travel.

“It’s helped us introduce a great luxury product to people who have not thought of us as a vacation destination before,” he asserts.

The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa also has developed many promotional efforts focusing on staycations. Special deals are e-mailed exclusively to individuals who follow the resort online.

“The value is so great right now,” says Michael Surguine, general manager of the Sanctuary. “(With a staycation) you wind up getting a lot more vacation hours for your buck.”

Another resort offering incentives to residents is the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch. Last year, the resort launched its Shades of Summer program, which offered deals to families, including free meals, Camp Hyatt activities for kids and giveaways. The resort is planning to have similar incentives this summer.

“Our success was really built on adding value,” aknowledges Michael Stephens of the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale. “I will say that the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale has never been this affordable all year round than this year.”

Arizona Amenities

Thanks to the deals now being offered at local hotels and resorts, Arizonans can take advantage of the state’s abundant natural endowments. According to AZOT, exploring the state’s wonders is one of the top activities for resident travelers. Overnight residents were more likely to take part in hiking or backpacking — 15.1 percent versus 11.4 percent for overnight, non-resident tourists. Residents also led the pack in camping and fishing activities.

“Our diversity offers everything from the desert, lush forests, riparian terrain and mountains, to lakes and streams, and some of the most beautiful backdrops in the Southwest,” says Wessellhoff of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

Wessellhoff adds that while staycations help Arizonans save money, they also allow residents to experience things they typically take for granted or simply never had time to fully appreciate before.

Heather Ainardi, director of the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau agrees: “In economic downturns, people often look for more ‘real’ and natural experiences, and Arizona is very well positioned to offer travelers an authentic experience.”

The Future of Staycations

While the economy begins its slow trek back, staycations remain a viable option for local individuals and families looking for a special travel experience at affordable prices.

More importantly, it is this type of local travel that can stimulate the hospitality industry and help it survive the recessionary downturn. From Phoenix residents escaping the summer heat of the Valley for a cooler retreat in Flagstaff or Sedona to Tucsonans heading to the Valley’s golf resorts and restaurants — every destination has something to offer local travelers.

“Regardless of the economic climate, or perhaps because of it, people will want to get away from it all and enjoy some leisure time,” says Richard of Starwood Hotels.

Green Cosmetics

Green News Roundup – Climate Change, Eco-Friendly Cosmetic Packaging & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about planning for climate change, eco-friendly cosmetic packaging, and homemade nontoxic spring cleaning materials.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to share by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles focusing on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.


When ‘Green’ Consumers Decide, ‘I’ve Done Enough’
Although it seems odd, a new study seems to indicate that those who purchase ‘green’ products may have a tendency to be less generous and possibly even be more inclined to thievery. The article speculates that perhaps those consumers are compensating for the fact that, in their minds, they have already done their part to help the world.

Planning for Climate Change in the West (Policy Focus Report)
The product of the joint venture partnership of the Lincoln Institute and the Sonoran Institute, this report focuses on the political and cultural aspects of preparing for climate change. It includes a survey of government officials indicating skepticism, and explains why these officials are focusing on sustainability and economic efficiency instead of climate change.

Now, the Cosmetic Jar Matters, Too
You’d think the most important part of make-up would be, well, the make-up. But last year, one in five women reported that eco-friendly cosmetic packaging matters just as much to them as how well the product inside works. This article explores why, and delves into how the cosmetics industry is responding to this new sudden demand.

Coral Reef Extinction Could Cripple Nations’ Economies
Coral Reefs are dying quickly, and most people assume that doesn’t affect them. But as the foundation of the ocean food chain, coral reefs are necessary to keep the planet functioning. Without them, poverty and hunger will prevail, and it could influence politics and economies in a very negative way.

How to Spring Clean With Nontoxic Homemade Products
Spring is finally here, which means it’s time to get cleaning. This year, try these homemade, environment-friendly products. They’re easy to make and easier to use!

Hybrid Vehicles

Green News Roundup – Electric Vehicles, Spain’s Solar Industry & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green driving, the solar industry in Spain and green Oscar fashion.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to share by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles focusing on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Solar Industry Learns Lessons in Spanish Sun
After the small Spanish town of Puertollano hosted a brief solar power boom in 2008, the government squashed it, cut payments and capped solar construction. This article outlines how the United States, which is dragging behind Europe in solar power, can learn from Spain’s mistakes.

Department of Energy Announces $100 Million Available for Innovative Research Projects
At the inaugural ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit last week, it was announced that $100 million in Recovery Act funding will go toward innovation in green technology. It will also increase America’s competitiveness and create new jobs. The opportunity focuses on three technology areas, including Grid-Scale Rampable Intermittent Dispatchable Storage, Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology and Building Energy Efficiency Through Innovative Thermodevices.

10 Innovations That Could Make Us Greener Drivers
With more and more evidence that electric vehicles are the future, here are 10 suggestions – some real and in the works, others farther off and seemingly ridiculous – to help us further save the environment as drivers. According to this, it won’t be long until our cars are driving themselves while we kick back and read a book behind the wheel.

New Vending Machines Stay Cool Without Warming the Planet
The Coca-Cola Co. has come up with a great way to help the environment: vending machines that actually cool the planet as well as the soda. The secret ingredient? Carbon dioxide. Sounds ridiculous, but “fighting fire with fire” may be the best way to combat global warming.

Red Carpet Green Dress: A Catalyst for A Revolution
One of the best parts of the Oscars every year is seeing the beautiful dresses and gowns. This year, James Cameron’s wife set out to prove that the dress making process can be environmentally friendly as well as gorgeous. She created the Red Carpet Green Dress Contest, and her own dress was about 85 percent green.


Photo Credit: reviews.carreview.com

White House Goes Green

Green News Roundup – White House Goes Green, Eco Month & More

Welcome to the second installment of our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about Eco Month, the Sustainability Consortium, solar windows and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to share by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles focusing on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

2010 Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference
The second annual Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference is just around the corner, taking place March 18th-20th at the South Building in the Phoenix Convention Center. The expo will feature more than 200 exhibitors featuring the latest in green design, architecture, green products and more. Also, learn more about sustainability from the 2010 conference speakers by registering for sessions here.

2010 AIA Arizona Eco Month
March is Eco Month for AIA Arizona, and they are heading up lots of related events, including a Green Shopping Tour at Phoenix Public Market March 20. Read the AIA’s 20 steps to shopping green in a pdf here and e-mail Diana Smith at diana@aia-arizona.org to RSVP for Eco Month events.

Grocery Retailer Adds Force to ASU’s Green Efforts
Safeway is the first U.S.-based retail grocery chain to join the Sustainability Consortium, administered by ASU and the University of Arkansas. Safeway plans to use the data from the consortium’s Life Cycle Assessment, which analyzes emissions, waste and the natural resources used in food and non-food items, to create its supply chain sustainability policy.

New Solar Windows Appear Blinged Out
A research consortium wants us to stop wasting energy with plain glass windows on office buildings – they’re designing a prototype for solar windows! It only makes sense to utilize the large surface area of the sides of buildings instead of only the roofs. An additional perk? The solar windows would prevent the glare during morning and evening hours, providing natural light all day long without having to draw the blinds!

White House Replaces Bush-Era Cups
This week, even the White House is going green with brand new, eco-friendly hot beverage cups. Twelve percent of the cup and 99 percent of the interior liner are made from post-consumer recycled content. If only they’d tell us where they got them!

Canada vs. USA Final Made Power Consumption Jump by Around 600 Megawatts in Ontario
Are major sporting events bad for the environment? Apparently so. Ontario experienced a major power consumption jump during the Olympic hockey gold medal showdown as everyone turned on their televisions to watch.