Tag Archives: green

Rebuilding Greensburg

Rebuilding Greensburg for a Sustainable Future

I recently read an interesting piece in the New York Times about the rebuilding of Greensburg, Kan. Some of you may recall the devastating tornado the tore through the region back in 2007 leaving 11 dead and millions of dollars in damages. The devastation was immense but local residents were determined to rebuild. And rebuild they did. Greensburg was ready to start fresh and rebuild in a way that would generate new business and jobs. Dea Corns, a real estate agent who manages the Greensburg State Bank with her husband Thomas V. Corns was quoted as saying “We put the ‘green’ back in Greensburg.”

The community has already taken steps to make it as green as can be. An ordinance requiring all municipal buildings larger than 4,000 square feet to be built to LEED-platinum standards has been passed.

Several buildings are being renovated with green features such as geothermal pumps for heating and cooling, high-performance lighting and others that qualify them for LEED designation.

Greensburg is also one of the first cities in the nation to use LED lamps in their streetlights, saving 70 percent in energy and maintenance costs over the old lights.  The list of all the other green features that are being implemented into the city goes on and on.

This got me thinking. If Greensburg is able to rebuild in such a sustainable way after such devastation why can’t we use them as an example for future rebuilding/renovations? This is definitely something to think about. If a city so ravaged by a natural disaster can emerge stronger than ever, the potential for future new developments is incredible.

The city’s dedication to sustainability is refreshing, after all rebuilding this way is more expensive and more time-consuming than conventional methods. But higher upfront costs are often replaced with lower operating costs and a bigger payoff in the long run. Most importantly, residents and city leaders alike seem to have the big picture of the future of the city in mind.

old computers, electronics

Do You Know What Happens When Your Company Chucks Its Old Computers?

It’s time to swap out your old clunker computer for a fast, new one. You discuss your needs with your systems manager, she buys a new machine and makes the swap. Where does that old computer go after it leaves your desk? Do you need to care?

Electronics waste, or e-waste, is getting increasing attention from environmentalists and policy makers around the world. There are a number of reasons why. One is that computers and IT equipment contain heavy metals, in particular lead, which could pose a health concern. While you’re using the computer these metals are safely stuck inside the machine. The concern is that after the computer is disposed of those metals could get out and cause harm.

Policy makers around the world are developing regulations that aim to make sure electronics are designed more safely and are collected and recycled at the end of their usefulness. Europe has a region-wide mandate for both design and recycling of electronics. While there is no federal e-waste recycling law in the U.S., 19 states have mandated systems to collect and recycle electronics. Arizona has yet to enact e-waste legislation, but it would not be surprising if a national law is developed in the next few years.

From the standpoint of complying with current laws, businesses in Arizona need to be aware of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules relating to cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Due to their lead content, CRTs are considered hazardous waste, and above a certain threshold there are regulations on how they are to be disposed. There also are rules relating to exporting used CRTs for reuse or recycling.

The notion of corporate social responsibility, increasingly part of business strategy, calls on businesses to move beyond environmental compliance to tackle proactive action so as to “do the right thing.” But what is the right thing to do with e-waste?

It turns out that manufacturing computers and other IT hardware is surprisingly environmentally intensive. For example, if you replace your office desktop computer every four years, the energy to make the computer is about equal to the amount you used while it was plugged into to wall. This means that extending the lifespan of computers can have a big effect on reducing energy use and other environmental impacts by cutting down the number of new computers purchased. Extending lifespan also reduces the amount of e-waste generated.

One way to extend lifespan is to use computers longer. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice productivity with sluggish computers, but on the other hand, a new computer doesn’t always mean better job performance. Upgrading CPUs (central processing units) and memory are strategies to squeeze more performance. It’s also important to keep in mind the labor and hassle associated with swapping machines.

Even if a machine is deemed too slow to be appropriate for your firm, there are others who might be able to use it. There are organizations such as AZStrUT, a partnership between local schools and businesses, that accept donations of used computers, and refurbish and provide them to schools and students.

The export of e-waste abroad is an important issue to be aware of, as well. A lot of e-waste in the U.S. gets shipped to China, India and other countries for reuse, which is good. But the e-waste also ends up in backyard recycling, which is bad. In backyard recycling, primitive methods are used to recover materials, processes that cause significant harm to the environment. For example, to recover copper from wires, wires are pulled and piled up and then set on fire to remove the insulation. The emissions from this type of fire are very harmful. While the export of used equipment has the benefit of making IT more accessible abroad, it’s important to export usable equipment instead of junk intended for recycling. Whether your firm sells a computer for reuse, contracts recycling or throws it in the trash, data security also is something to be careful about. Deleting a file doesn’t mean the data is completely wiped from a hard drive; there are tricks people can play to recover the file. You could be shipping your firm’s confidential data right out in the bin. There are special software tools that rewrite over hard drives, so as to destroy all previous stored data.

To sum up, my advice on managing IT hardware in a greener way is:

  • Extract maximum use from the equipment while it’s in the firm.
  • Donate or sell usable old machines when possible.
  • Selling abroad is fine, but make sure it’s usable.
  • Contract recycling for junk equipment.
  • Finally, before letting a machine leave a business, make sure data is properly erased or that the contractor will do this.

Go Green, One Step at a Time

Go Green, One Step at a Time

Nobody ever said being “green” was easy, but it doesn’t have to be that hard either. Recently, I read a great blog by Liesa Goins in Newsweek titled “Easy Environmentalism: How to Go Green Without Going Overboard.”

In the entry, Goins gives her two cents on how to live a more sustainable life in a practical way. Sure, we’d all love to have a low carbon footprint but the only way to get there is one careful step at a time. And as for beating ourselves up for not being “green” enough? Goins suggests we’re better off not and instead focus on the positive things we’re already doing and continue to make small changes.

From finding eco-friendly vacation destinations to buying from companies that are making an effort toward sustainability, the author stresses that being green doesn’t have to be an enormous lifestyle change.

As for me, I agree with Goins that we shouldn’t overwhelm ourselves with becoming “green”. Helping our environment is an ongoing process that we can implement in small steps. Recycling, reusing, etc., all those little things count.

Check out the rest of her tips here

Chevy Volt electric car, GM

GM Electrifies Drivers With The Chevrolet Volt

General Motors announced today that its newest vehicle, the rechargeable electric Chevrolet Volt, should get 230 miles per gallon in city driving. Highway mileage estimates have not yet been released.

Although the claims must first be verified by the Environmental Protection Agency, if they are true, they would beat out the current model of green driving, the Toyota Prius.

GM is marketing the Volt as an extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV). Unlike a traditional electric car, where a small electric motor powers the car when it’s moving slowly and the gasoline motor kicks in when the car accelerates, the Volt is a bit different. The Volt’s power comes from a high-voltage battery pack made from lithium-ion technology that is capable of storing enough energy to drive the car up to 40 miles in normal conditions. What to do when your battery is low? Simply plug it in just like you would any other appliance. A full charge takes three or six hours through a 110 or 220-volt wall outlet.

In addition, the Volt will still have a small internal combustion engine to produce electricity when the stored power is low, providing the driver with a total range of 300 miles. Think of this as a generator that kicks in, in the event you drive more than 40 miles. Some areas of the car are still being tested and refined, but the Volt is scheduled for release in late 2010.

The first-generation Volt is expected to cost almost $40,000, but hopefully the price will drop with future models. Alas, as I’ve said before, sometimes being green costs more from the get-go — but the long-term effects are most definitely worth it!

Consumers are much more conscious about the environment and many want to reflect that through the vehicles they drive. If the Volt can live up to its claims, it will be a great step forward and hopefully other automakers will follow suit.

www.chevrolet.com

Pizza Parlor

The Parlor Turns An Old Beauty Salon Into A Pizza Paradise

There are no hair dryers, manicure stands or various grooming products to be found at The Parlor, a new gourmet pizzeria in Phoenix, but the ghost of them remains.

The Parlor now occupies the long-time site of the Salon de Venus on 20th Street and Camelback Road. The co-owner of The Parlor, Nello’s Pizza scion Aric Mei, salvaged as much as he could from the old beauty salon for use in his new eatery. Using the wood from the original roof, Mei created a new bar, tables, wall treatments, a host stand and the front doors. From the steel of the salon’s old sprinkler system, Mei constructed a wine storage, fireplace, door handles, bar pendants, bench supports and various other items.

Mei took his recycling efforts one step further. When he found out that a restaurant across the street was being razed, he purchased the contents of the building and outfitted The Parlor with its booths, bar, kitchen equipment, faucets, sinks, flush valves, shelving and speakers.

His efforts at sustainability didn’t end there. Committed to utilizing solar technology on the restaurant, The Parlor installed a thermal solar system that supplies the building’s hot water. Mei says he has the plans and The Parlor has the dedicated space to eventually have a 10-kilowatt array of solar panels on the roof.

The resulting look is simple and streamlined without being oh-so-trendy. Hipsters, power lunchers, couples and families all have a place at The Parlor.

But enough of that; what about the food? In a word — great.

The Parlor combines simple and gourmet ingredients to create seemingly simple dishes that boast complex tastes. We started our evening at The Parlor with its meat and cheese selection appetizer. The meats are primarily ham, prosciutto and salami, paired with an array of hard and soft cheeses and served with grilled rosemary flatbread.

For the next course, we dove into the salad selections. The table settled on the Parlor Insalata with mixed greens, feta cheese, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy chickpeas, pepperoni and oregano dressing.

The Parlor also serves sandwiches and burgers, and like the décor, they are deceptively simple. For example, The Parlor’s version of a club sandwich features duck breast, apple wood smoked bacon and a red wine tomato jam. The Parlor also offers a limited but imaginative selection of pasta dishes. The pappardelle Bolognese has a hearty meat sauce and tender but firm noodles that had everyone raving.

But of course, the stars of The Parlor are the pizzas, which range from the exotic (wild mushrooms with goat cheese and truffle oil) to the familiar (pepperoni). The crusts are light and crunchy — the perfect foundation for the rest of the pie. We chose the salsiccia pizza, which is topped with a special Parlor sausage, grilled radicchio, sage and saba, a type of vinegar. The combination of ingredients was delightful and quickly won over my dining companions. We also ordered the pepperoni pizza just to see how they executed the pie.After all, as any chef will tell you, it’s the simple dishes that are the easiest to ruin. The Parlor hit it dead on. You can also create your own pizza from a list of toppings. I put together goat cheese, rock shrimp and prosciutto for my pizza. My companions opted not to try my creation, which was fine with me because I loved it and got to eat it all by myself.

If you have room for dessert, make sure you pick The Parlor’s chocolate cake with Italian cherries, vanilla cream and chocolate sauce. Hey, if you ate a whole pizza, you might as well grab dessert.

    If You Go:
    The Parlor
    1916 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
    (602) 248-2480

Arizona State University

Arizona State University Makes The Green Honor Roll

“Go Green” indeed! Arizona State University has been named one of the nation’s “greenest” universities by the Princeton Review. For the second year in a row, ASU has made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll rating of environmentally-friendly institutions. And we’re among some pretty elite neighbors: Harvard, Berkeley and Yale to name a few.

The Princeton Review began its Green Ratings last year with the help of ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental organization that participates in the project. The schools are measured on a scale of 60 to 99 and the schools that made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll (go ASU!) received the highest possible score of a 99.

“At Arizona State University, sustainability is a fundamental precept underlying its teaching, learning, research and business missions. ASU President Michael Crow is co-chair of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus.
Established in 2007, ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges. The school has over 60 faculty representing over 40 disciplines and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with a professional certificate. ASU subsidizes bus and light rail passes for all students and employees and offers car-sharing and a carpool program with special parking privileges. A student-run bicycle co-op offers low- or no-cost bike repairs and free bike rentals.”— The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review names these areas as the criteria for the ratings:

  • Whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable.
  • How well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges.
  • The school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.  The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, and transportation to academic offerings (availability of environmental studies degrees and courses) and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.

And there’s more good news. The publisher of the Princeton Review said that this year there was a 30 percent increase in the number of colleges participating in the Green Rating survey. The Princeton Review has also dedicated a special resource area on its Web site for students that are serious about the environment and are interested in learning more about attending a green college.

As an alumni of ASU I couldn’t be prouder of this achievement. The School of Sustainability is already making a huge step forward and this accomplishment only adds to the school’s ongoing commitment to greener living. This also brings the issue of the environment to the forefront and grabs the attention of a younger audience that will hopefully be motivated to do something about it. Dedication to sustainability is no easy task, but such sizable schools as ASU can certainly make a positive impact on the movement.

Criteria for The Princeton Review Green Rating of Colleges


The Princeton Review tallied the Green Rating scores based on institutional data it obtained from the colleges during the 2008-2009 academic year in response to ten survey questions that asked:

1) The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food.

2) Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students.

3) Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus.

4) Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable.

5) The school’s overall waste diversion rate.

6) Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration.

7) Whether the school has an “environmental literacy” requirement.

8) Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets.

9) What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower).

10) Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

*Source: The Princeton Review

asunews.asu.edu
www.princetonreview.com/green-honor-roll
www.princetonreview.com/green/
www.ecoamerica.net

Recycled Water in Space

Recycled Water — On A Journey From Space And Back To Earth

There’s What in My Water?

“Green” technology is constantly evolving and, consequently, so is my knowledge of it. Ever since I embarked on the journey of learning more about sustainability, nothing ceases to amaze me. Maybe some of the things I write about are old news to those more educated on the topic, but I’m sure there are many individuals such as myself who are taking this one day at a time.

In that vein, I stumbled upon a technology that NASA uses to solve the problem of not having a sufficient water supply for its astronauts in space. Hauling water to space is difficult and expensive, so instead NASA utilizes a special device that recycles astronauts’ sweat and urine (yes, urine) into drinking water.

The wastewater enters a processing machine where it goes through six steps of cleansing, including adding iodine to kill microbes. The water is boiled off, vapor collected and brine from urine removed. Add a dash of water from air condensation, filter, and voilà, recycled drinking water is born!

As space exploration evolved it became obvious the technology would be vital to the long-term success of NASA missions.

There's What in my Water?The recycling system was brought up to the International Space Station last November by the space shuttle Endeavour. However, only recently were the astronauts actually able to test the fruits of their “labor.” The project, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), also doubled the living capacity of the space station from three people to six.

Another plus? A portion of ECLSS has been adapted to Earth and is already helping rural villages in northern Iraq, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan generate clean drinking water.

One company at the forefront of this water treatment technology is Water Security Corporation. The company has taken the technology originally developed for NASA and commercialized it to make it accessible to those who need it most.

An interesting tidbit the company includes on its Web site is how similar the situations are between NASA and rural villages in developing nations in terms of having a sufficient water supply. Like the astronauts on the space station, residents in these villages must recycle everything they have. With the help of this technology, the villagers can treat what they DO have in order to keep the water supply constant without having to rely on the whims of others.

People in the developed world take for granted the basic things we are lucky enough to have on a day-to-day basis. This reminded me to truly make an attempt to not be wasteful and conserve our limited resources.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the astronauts say the water tastes just fine. :-)

www.watseco.com
science.nasa.gov

Play to Stop Campaign

Sustainable Europe — A Greener World, One Country At A Time

Fresh from my trip to Europe (specifically my native Poland), I decided to look into what our neighbors across the Atlantic are doing for the sustainability movement.

A survey requested by the European Parliament and the European Commission, coordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication of the European Commission, summarized the general attitude on the Continent toward climate change as “serious but the process is not unstoppable.”

The poll claims that 75 percent of Europeans think “alternative fuels should be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Green EuropeThe survey also suggests that citizens of certain countries — particularly Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania — are not well informed about climate change.

However, according to the poll, citizens of Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland are “both well informed about climate change, and personally take action to fight climate change.”

Although I’m not in a position to analyze the conclusions of this survey, I do know that it’s never a bad thing to promote and publicize the issue of climate change awareness. Not only does this (hopefully) get people’s attention, but it also demonstrates society’s commitment to an issue that is universal and affects us all.

The European Commission is promoting climate change awareness to young Europeans by partnering with MTV Europe on a campaign called “Play to Stop— Europe for Climate.” What better way to get through to young people than through concerts, TV programs and the Web?

The eye-catching campaign also has a presence on popular social media sites Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

The campaign will be making its way to my homeland, as well as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Britain and Romania.

So, alas, unlike the U.S., I think it’s safe to say that Europe is making a concerted effort to educate people about climate change and sustainability. Making the world a better, greener place won’t happen overnight, but it’s comforting to know that although we may not all agree on everything, when it comes to this we’re all in this together.

Read the rest of the survey
Play to Stop campaign

Photo: Play to Stop

Green Advisers on a Mission

Green Advisers On A Mission

Name an industry and you’ll find a consultant — investment, finance, marketing, and so forth.

You can add eco-consulting to that list.

After reading an interesting article from the New York Times about eco-consulting, I was curious to see exactly what this new type of profession would encompass.

Is it a passing phase or a legitimate way to better educate citizens about how to live a greener life? To find out more, I contacted Valley eco-consultant Linda Benson. She trained to become an eco-consultant with Green Irene, a company founded by a husband-and-wife team that now trains consultants throughout the country.

After contacting Green Irene for additional information, I received an e-mail from Jessica Clark, marketing manager at Green Irene, who supplied me with the following statement:
“Green Irene is on a mission to ‘Green Our World, One Home And Office At a Time.’ Green Irene trains independent, authorized distributors of Green Irene consulting services and recommended green home and office products. Through these services, eco-consultants assist neighbors, family, employees and coworkers implement proven green solutions in their homes and small businesses, and starts them on the path to a healthier, safer and more sustainable lifestyle.
As of July 2009, Green Irene has more than 425 eco-consultants in 45 states offering Green Home Makeovers, Green Office Makeovers, GO GREEN Workshops and many of the best green home and office products available.”

Guess this isn’t a phase after all.

Benson has been in the interior design industry for three years and her specialty is green, sustainable and universal design, so becoming an eco-consultant was a “good fit.”

She goes on to explain various initiatives offered by Green Irene, including but not limited to, green makeovers as well as “actual blueprints for converting your living, home products and just the way you carry out life on a daily basis in a green and sustainable manner.”

“I enjoy the challenge of re-using and re-engineering furniture and soft goods (bedding, window treatments) from items my clients already have,” Benson adds “I also love educating them on how to save money by making small changes to their lifestyle, such as changing light bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) in a main living space, and using proper window treatments to hold down the energy loss in a room, just to name a few things.”

green consultingThis sounds like a great idea for people who are trying to make a positive change to better the environment and aren’t really sure how to begin. As Benson points, out the changes don’t have to be costly, and customers can start small and work their way up to more significant changes. The consultations can be done for private residents as well as commercial companies.

Benson has a positive outlook on the future of eco-consulting, not only locally, but also globally.

“I see eco-consulting encouraging people to save on resources, giving motivation to explore new design modes and methods, pushing people to think outside of the box, helping people who spend hard-earned money to use it more efficiently and to encourage saving,” she says. “I see eco-consulting bringing people to the outdoor style of living again by cooking more during the pleasant sunny days. I even see eco-consulting prompting healthy eating and encouraging more community activities again!”

www.greenirene.com

Job Increase

Green Jobs, Good Future

We are all very aware of the plight our economy is facing, but there is one bright spot in the darkness of the recession — green jobs.

According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of green jobs in the United States grew 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007. Traditional jobs, on the other hand grew by only 3.7 percent in this time frame. This trend was also reflected on a state level.

This is great news, not just for the world of “green” but also for the economic future of our country. It shows that even, or rather especially, in troubled times we are recognizing the importance of sustainability.

The study also stated that “America’s clean energy economy has grown despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for about 770,000 jobs.”

And there’s more good news. While many who have been lucky enough to avoid layoffs still live in fear of possibly being let go, 73 percent of respondents in North America to the first ever Carbon Salary Survey reported that they feel safe in their jobs, thanks to ever-increasing attention being placed on the sustainability sector.

I find this information comforting and refreshing. Comforting because it’s nice to know that even in this bleak environment there are still job possibilities out there, and refreshing because well, quite simply it’s refreshing to hear at least some positive news.

Here’s to a greater, greener future.

Source:
Pew Charitable Trusts
Carbon Salary Survey

Phoenix_skyline_Arizona_USA

A Voyage Of Discovery In Phoenix

Facing a down economy, shrinking budgets and significant pressures to outperform the year’s commitments, how do you find time for sustainability? Let’s face it, if there is no payback within the current year, it’s unlikely you can get capital or modify your operating budget to make any kind of significant difference toward a green program, right? Wrong!

In a recessionary environment there’s more than one way to cut costs and leverage those savings to support other initiatives. In addition to pure cost savings, a little bit of planning and adjustment of current policies can yield results with little or no additional expense.

Our approach at the Greater Phoenix Chapter of IFMA, beginning in August 2008, was to establish a Facility Managers’ Green Peer Group (FMGPG) to foster open information exchange and provide a forum for sharing best practices.

What FMGPG has done is to create the environment for the peer group to be successful. A facilitator who is familiar with the subject matter is the primary pivot point; we manage and develop the agenda, secure the location and communicate through the FMGPG to the group members. The facilitator then leads the meeting and keeps the group focused on the agenda and future goals.

The initial goal of the peer group was to educate the members on the five major categories of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as they related to the Existing Building Operations and Maintenance structure, or EBOM.

The LEED-EB system focuses on building maintenance and operations. Unlike the other LEED standards, points are awarded for established programs and policies with measured results over time. Metrics are taken during a performance period lasting from three to 12 months.

As with the LEED for new construction products, points are awarded in six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor air quality, and innovation in operations

There are 92 available points, with a minimum of 34 required for the lowest level of certification. Most organizations nationwide appear to be striving for Silver or Gold certification based on the initial condition of the building.

We established a yearlong program that was based on the following formula:
General Discussion and Checklist Review + Facility Examples and Benchmarking + Site Visit = A Solid Foundation of Understanding.

So, what’s the bottom line on the benefits of the peer group:

  • Approaching sustainability concepts with minimal or no impact to your FM resources and budget.
  • Marketing your FM organization through sustainability involvement.
  • Taking advantage of LEED benefits without certifying your site.
  • Decoding the myths and fears of LEED.
  • Strengthening your FM position by demonstrating sustainability initiatives.
  • Demonstrating the hidden value of your FM organization by introducing and achieving sustainable initiatives.
  • Educating your staff, customers and stakeholders, as well as yourself, on sustainability and the workplace.
  • One LEED case study, managed by an IFMA CFM (Certified Facility Manager), has shown the following validated results:

    • Effectively reduced electricity use by 35 percent.
    • Effectively reduced natural gas use by 41 percent.
    • Reduced domestic water use by 22 percent.
    • Reduced landscape water use by 76 percent.
    • Diverted up to 85 percent of its solid waste.
    • Reduced total pollution by 26 percent.
    • Reduced CO2 emissions by 17 percent.

    A new study by CoStar Group, the commercial equivalent of MLS, has found that sustainable “green” buildings outperform their peer, non-green assets in key areas such as occupancy, sale price and rental rates, sometimes by wide margins.

    The results indicate a broader demand by property investors and tenants for buildings that have earned either LEED certification or the Energy Star label, and strengthen the “business case” for green buildings, which proponents have increasingly cast as financially sound investments.

    According to the study, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 per square foot over their non-LEED peers, and have 3.8 percent higher occupancy. Rental rates in Energy Star buildings represent a $2.38 per square foot premium over comparable non-Energy Star buildings, and have 3.6 percent higher occupancy. And, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors and the C-level, Energy Star buildings are selling for an average of $61 per square foot more than their peers, while LEED buildings command a remarkable $171 more per square foot.

    At the end of the day — even in a down economy — you can make a difference, even with little or no budget.

    The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

    The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

    Lake Superior State University may not be too well-known, but it does generate some publicity each year with the release of its annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

    Those who tire of hearing or reading certain words and phrases go to the Michigan university’s Web site and nominate them for consideration. The big losers for 2009 are the word “green” and such related phrases as “going green.”

    Good luck with getting those banished — especially in Arizona.

    Many who have been beating the drum for energy efficiency, water conservation and sustainable business practices have found willing ears in executive suites across the state.

    General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale is just one company that has proactively embraced standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Green Building Rating System.

    Genesis Worldwide Enterprises in Cottonwood took a bold step forward in 2005, when it installed an 84-kilowatt photovoltaic power system, which then became the second-largest private commercial solar power system ever installed in Arizona.

    It’s impossible to log onto Web sites for such utility companies as Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project or Tucson Electric Power without being directed to information about their green programs and services.

    And if none of that is convincing enough, consider this. Light rail has come to the Valley of the Sun with the debut of a 20-mile, $1.4 billion system in late December.

    Granted, these are just some of the steps Arizona businesses and municipalities are taking along the road to sustainability. But they are important steps.

    “We could get a lot better than we are, but we’re doing pretty darn good,” says Charles Popeck, president and CEO of Green Ideas Inc., an environmental building consulting firm in Phoenix, and one of the founders of the USGBC’s Arizona chapter.

    And Popeck sees a general acceptance of sustainability principles throughout the Arizona business community, not just among specific industries such as high-tech firms.

    “I’d have to say it’s across the board. Everyone seems to be catching onto it,” he says. “The reason is it’s just common sense. I mean, how can you argue with saving water and saving energy?”

    Bonnie Richardson, the new chair of USGBC Arizona, believes the decision to go green usually starts at the top.

    “I think it really comes from the corporate philosophy,” she says. “I do think that folks in high-tech businesses have been exposed to more of the new ideas and so they tend to be more willing to embrace and try things out. However, I think we’re now at that tipping point where it just makes good financial sense for businesses to do this, and that’s where it’s going to be a lot easier for people to adopt it.”

    John Neville, a sustainable systems consultant and president of the Sedona-based networking organization Sustainable Arizona, emphasizes those financial considerations in terms of a willingness to go green.

    “Sustainability means the ability to last,” he says. “And if you look at your business and make business decisions based on the idea that you’re going to last a long time, then you look at your expenses and your income in a different way. If all you’re concerned about is next quarter, then you make your business decisions differently and you’re not going to be sustainable.”

    When LEED-accredited professionals like Popeck, Richardson and Neville talk about sustainability and business, they oftentimes are referring to companies and institutions that are seeking one of the various levels of LEED certification.

    According to the USGBC, “LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

    In fact, the nationally recognized LEED certification system is not just restricted to new construction. There are ratings programs for existing buildings, schools, commercial interiors and retail spaces among several others. Each category has a specific checklist that earns points for applicants. The more points earned, the higher the rating level with basic certification at the low end and the LEED Platinum level at the top.

    Those going for new-building certification can earn points, for example, by locating a building on a site that accommodates alternative transportation methods for its employees, maximizes open spaces, utilizes water-efficient landscaping, has on-site sources of renewable energy and implements a construction waste management program.

    USGBC Arizona includes a statewide list of completed LEED-certified projects on its Web site.

    Popeck argues that green buildings are no more expensive than any other type of new construction.

    “I think the biggest misconception out there is that it has to cost more upfront. It certainly does not,” he says.

    When costs go up, it’s usually because someone decided to go for LEED certification well after the design process got under way.

    “That is a typical problem out there and then people say, ‘Well green building costs more.’ Well it doesn’t really cost more,” Popeck says. “It’s because you designed your building twice that it cost more.”

    Companies can recoup some of the expenses involved in greening their buildings through government tax credits and utility company rebate programs. But there are also significant savings from taking a green approach. This can include lowering the price of energy and water, as well as trimming shipping costs by sourcing construction materials locally or rethinking product packaging.

    So why isn’t everyone going green these days?

    “Of course, the downturn economically has hurt us,” Richardson says. “But I don’t think it was particular to green building. I think it was just across the board because our construction industry here was really devastated and it’s going to take some time for all of that to come back.

    “So we’re no different than any other part of the country where the downturn is slowing growth for some of our new businesses and also, perhaps, people aren’t confident to make big investments at this moment.”

    Neville seconds that.

    “Everyone kind of pulls in during an economic slowdown,” he says. “It’s difficult at times when you have cash-flow issues. It’s very difficult.”

    Neville is certainly not opposed to companies jumping into the green movement with both feet, but in some situations he thinks it’s actually better for companies to take incremental steps.

    When he works with a business or government entity, they start out by analyzing the organization’s mission.

    Neville outlined the process: “You take a look at, ‘What am I trying to accomplish here? How does my business work?’ Whether it’s a business or running a city or running a school, you say: ‘How does this work? What are all my businesses processes? What are the things that really please the customer?’ And then, ‘How can I do those and get rid of the other things that I’m doing that are ridiculous?’

    ”He points to a printer who saved money while going green by switching from inks containing volatile organic compounds. This eliminated the need for filing a toxic release inventory report every year, which involved hiring an outside firm to conduct an audit.
    “Going green is getting better at your job. It’s doing your business better,” Neville says. “Becoming more sustainable is becoming a higher-quality business, a more efficient and effective business. That’s really what it is.”

    Richardson, who works as an architect and principal planner for Tempe’s transportation division, says it’s important for those promoting sustainability to make outreach and educational efforts during a downturn.

    “As we recover, there will be people with a lot more ideas about what they want to do with their business and what direction they want to go,” she says. “What’s really interesting is that once you get people looking into it, they recognize that there’s significant savings for businesses that decide to grow their business green.”

    Anthony Floyd, another LEED-accredited professional, manages Scottsdale’s green building program. His city does a lot more than just talk the talk when it comes to environmentally responsible building.

    In 2005, Scottsdale passed a resolution mandating that the city adopt a LEED Gold policy for designing, building and constructing new municipal facilities. The Granite Reef Senior Center, which opened in 2006, became the city’s first such building to earn LEED Gold certification. There is a new fire station that was going through the certification process earlier this year.

    The Scottsdale green building program is primarily a residential program, but it plays an important role in terms of influencing commercial entities.

    “When we started the residential program, after a few years of that we realized that we needed to start practicing what we were preaching,” Floyd says.

    They set the bar high, he says, because “we realized we need to lead by example.”

    Floyd serves as a green-strategies resource for various Scottsdale departments, other Arizona communities and numerous organizations. In early 2008, he put together a report for the AZ Minority Green Business Conference titled “Greening the Building Process.”

    The report contains pertinent strategies, facts and figures. But it also covers a practice known as “greenwashing.”

    “It’s just like whitewashing,” Floyd says. “I mean, there are a lot of companies out there that are advertising themselves as being green. But you really have to look deeper.

    “There are multiple attributes to green building and there are shades of green.”

    Like manufacturers that freely trumpet the sometimes debatable health benefits of their products, there are others who “mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

    Floyd uses the example of a business that may have sourced some construction material locally and uses that as a reason to promote itself as being green.

    “But that’s greenwashing,” he says. “Just one particular product is not going to make a building green. It’s about the strategy and the design, and the combination of materials and resources that determines the overall greenness of the project.

    “You can’t just look at water and say you’re green. You can’t just look at energy and say you’re green. In a building, you have to look at everything.”

    But water and energy are two important considerations in Arizona, where the first may be scarce before long and the second can be extremely costly during summertime.

    “In most of the LEED buildings that are being done, there is real focus on both water and energy,” Richardson says. “And that’s a new tack for Arizona.”

    There are various ways to trim the use of potable water, such as installing low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals, harvesting rainwater and landscaping with native plants as Tempe does at its new transportation center.

    “As long as water is relatively inexpensive, it’s a little harder to make the case that that investment turns around quickly,” Richardson says. “But I think over the next five years, there’s going to be a lot more discussion about how valuable water is in the desert and how we really need to change attitudes about managing it in a better way.”

    Water efficiency is a major issue for Popeck. “It’s my pet peeve, really,” he says. “Yet every time you go into one of these project team meetings, you know, no one seems to get it. Everyone thinks the water’s unlimited. And it’s just really not.”

    The need for energy efficiency and renewable energy are not just arguments coming out of Washington, D.C., these days.
    Neville likes to say that the least expensive energy around is energy you don’t use. Energy is among the highest expenses on business ledgers.

    “Whenever possible,” he wrote in a Sustainable Arizona position paper, “developments should incorporate energy technologies that rely on available, renewable, clean energy sources, such as solar, wind, ground-source, geothermal and other beneficial resources.”

    Floyd is similarly inclined.

    “If you’re green and you’re in Arizona, you need to be doing renewable energy,” he says. “It’s not an option. If you’re green, you should be generating a portion of your electricity using solar.”

    There’s another, equally important part to this strategy, Floyd argues: “You need to start by reducing your energy load by being energy efficient. And then once you do that, you get a bigger bang from your solar buck.”

    For the first time, Dial Corp.'s research and development will be housed with the company's headquarters.

    Dial Corp. Gets Ready To Move Into Its New Headquarters

    By year’s end, Dial Corp. expects to have moved into a new 350,000-square-foot national headquarters in Scottsdale, and for the first time it will house its research and development operations under the same roof.

    What’s more, Dial Corp. will be the first tenants in One Scottsdale, a luxury retail and lifestyle community at the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101. In addition to Dial’s presence, One Scottsdale will consist of high-fashion retail shops, upscale restaurants, boutique hotel rooms, office space and a diversity of residential housing.

    The move from existing facilities in North Scottsdale was set in motion in 2005.

    “Faced with an expiring lease at the end of 2008 on its R&D facility, Dial began searching for a new location,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications for Henkel of America Inc., Dial’s parent company. “The goal was to purchase a large enough parcel of land to house a world class R&D facility and at the same time be located in a desirable location for our employees.

    “It was during this process that Dial decided to also move its headquarters to the same location as its R&D facility to inspire collaboration between our scientists and businesses.”

    Dial’s current R&D facility is located at 15101 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, where it has been for 32 years. It is near its current headquarters for the past 11 years at 15501 N. Dial Blvd. in Scottsdale. The current research center across from Kierland Commons likely will be razed as the new Scottsdale Quarters project takes shape. The owners of the existing headquarters building are looking for new tenants.

    Violi says housing the headquarters and R&D facility under one roof is a first for Dial, including its former location on North Central Avenue in Phoenix, and before that in Chicago.

    The amenities Dial employees enjoyed as neighbors of the Kierland Commons mixed-use development were a factor in choosing the new site, says Brad Gazaway, vice president and corporate counsel, who is the Dial executive in charge of the new building project.

    “Finding a location that would afford similar — and possibly more — amenities was an important consideration in our selection process,” Gazaway says. “We believed this not only for the convenience that nearby hotels, restaurants, homes and retailers offer our employees and business on a day-to-day basis, but also the fact that such amenities and creative architecture and surroundings found in mixed-use developments can foster inspiring innovation and development that will bring about increased business productivity and results. Such environments also serve as a valuable platform for employee recruitment and retention.”

    By relocating to One Scottsdale, Gazaway says, the move enables Dial to be “a part of an exciting and innovative environment in which our employees will thrive and flourish.”

    Total cost of the project, says Gazaway, is “north of $100 million.”

    Dial is looking for LEED certification for its new home. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings are healthier work and living environments, which contribute to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

    Going “green” may add somewhat to the cost, but should result in savings and other benefits in the long run. The building has many “green” aspects, such as workstations designed to be safe, healthy, comfortable and functional.

    Gazaway mentions other “green” features. Natural lighting is emphasized, and a roof garden on the fourth floor with trees and benches is ideal for employee use at lunchtime, and for parties and receptions, he says. All of the wood used in construction is from recycled material. Excess materials were separated — wood in one pile and paper products in another — for recycling. Sundt Construction, the project’s general contractor, spearheaded the recycling effort, Gazaway says.

    Furthermore, an enhanced heating and air-conditioning system meets LEED standards for performance. Additionally, Dial will provide special parking spaces for carpoolers, spaces for bicycles, changing rooms and a fitness room.

    “In today’s environment, Dial wants to be in the forefront of consumer products as far as sustainability measures,” Gazaway says. “We want to show that we’re building a new facility and we are taking our environment seriously. We want to provide a building that our employees can enjoy for years to come. It’s important for us to take a leadership role in establishing new buildings. We’re falling in line with the city of Scottsdale’s mandates. Scottsdale wants all new buildings to fall under this LEED certification. It sets the right tone.”

    Violi adds that being environmentally conscious is a core value of Dial’s parent company, Henkel of America.

    Energy Costs - AZ Business Magazine September 2008

    Higher Energy Costs Are Forcing Valley Companies To Look For Alternatives

    From the neighborhood car wash to a corporate behemoth such as US Airways, rising energy costs are forcing Valley businesses to search for alternatives to relieve the pressure on their bottom lines.


    On a warm weekend morning in the Phoenix area, a bored but concerned car wash attendant asks the only motorist who pulls up for a cleaning: “Where is everybody?” He then answers his own question: “People aren’t driving as much and their cars aren’t getting as dirty.”

    From airlines to car washes to supermarket chains, record-high gas prices are taking their toll, causing businesses to implement strategies aimed at trimming expenses and saving energy.

    Alternatives, ranging from solar to wind to biodiesel, are becoming more attractive and cost-effective as utility bills and prices at the pump continue to squeeze the bottom line.

    While US Airways made major news when it announced a broad range of steps to cut costs and generate revenue, the airline is by no means alone in its actions. Bashas’ Family of Stores is an example of supermarkets that are feeling the pinch of higher diesel fuel prices, and the trucking industry reports some haulers are considering dropping customers who are in outlying areas.

    Even car washes, which depend entirely on customers’ driving habits, are seeing a decline in business. Brian O’Connor, owner of Arizona Auto Wash, with operations throughout the Valley and in Sedona, says his customers are coming in less frequently.

    “Instead of once a week, maybe we see them every other week,” O’Connor says. “People are so sick of putting money into their cars. They’re changing oil every 10,000 miles instead of 3,000 miles.”

    O’Connor and other gas retailers are victims of what he calls a double whammy. Retailers get 8-to-10-cents per gallon, regardless of the price. Back when gas was $1 a gallon, that was a 10 percent profit. At $4 a gallon, that’s only 2.5 percent.

    In addition to hiking the air-conditioning a degree or so, O’Connor has employees check equipment regularly for leaky hose bibs and broken sprinkler heads to conserve water.

    Conservation, whether of water, fuel or energy, comes in many forms. For example, there’s solar power. Leah Bushman of Dependable Solar Products in Tempe, acknowledges that businesses, in particular home builders, don’t opt for solar units because of the cost.

    “They want to know how is it going to affect their pocketbook, what is the return on investment,” she says.

    She tells of a California builder who found that equipping homes with solar units added $18,000 to the cost, even after rebates and incentives. But, those solar homes sold much faster than others in the development.

    In addition, a “green” architect in the Valley is seeing more interest in solar energy, Bushman says. “Why? Because more people are aware that we have an energy crisis on our hands,” she says. “We don’t have cheap oil anymore, but we do have the solar technology and the sunshine.”

    At Southwest Windpower in Flagstaff, Miriam Robbins, marketing director, says any business could benefit from the company’s system, which is installed directly into the electric grid and does not need batteries or additional backup. The cost of most systems, including installation, ranges from $12,000 to $18,000. Rebates are available.

    “The amount of power you get depends on wind speed,” she says. “Larger retailers may be interested to not only help offset electric costs, but also to make it more of a green statement. It can be installed on top of a light pole in a parking lot.”

    Rick Katt, an owner of AZ BioDiesel in the Valley, says any business with a large fleet of trucks that runs on diesel should consider biofuel.

    “No modification to your vehicle is needed,” he says. “It’s 80 percent vegetable oil, your motor runs cooler in hot weather and it’s cheaper than regular diesel by about 50 to 75 cents a gallon. And it’s better for the environment.”

    Kristy Nied, director of communications for Bashas’, says the soaring price of diesel fuel has made it even more difficult for the company to operate in a cost-efficient manner.

    “We rely on diesel fuel for our fleet of 97, over-the-road, 18-wheelers that deliver groceries to our stores throughout the state,” she says.

    Recently, Bashas’ installed a device on its diesel trucks and eight other trucks that reduces fuel consumption and emissions.

    “We’re saving enough fuel to run our entire fleet for a week,” Nied says. “We’ve also achieved a 32 percent reduction in particulate emissions.”

    Bashas’ is testing a work-at-home program for certain employees, rewarding those who carpool with gifts ranging from duffel bags to vacations, and giving employees who ride public buses for two months a $25 gift card for store items.

    “We’ve seen the number of bus riders go up because of gas prices,” Nied says.

    A business decision closely related to the price of gas was the discontinuation of Bashas’ “Groceries on the Go” service.

    “The cost of fuel made it extremely difficult for us to offer delivery service at a reasonable fee,” Nied says.

    During the hot summer months, Bashas’ encouraged stores to set thermostats 2 degrees higher than normal. The grocery chain also placed nightshades on open freezer cases to reduce energy consumption, and installed energy-efficient lighting in more than one-third of the stores. The goal is to retrofit the remaining stores by the end of next year, Nied says.

    To cope with rising fuel costs, US Airways has plans to cut as many as 2,000 jobs and started charging passengers more for items such as drinks, choice seats and checked bags. In the second quarter, the carrier lost $567 million, even though revenue rose 3 percent to $3.26 billion. But that revenue was eaten up by fuel costs. A year ago, the company reported a profit of $263 million.

    In announcing US Airways’ second quarter earnings, company Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said he expects the new fees to add $500 million to the airline’s coffers. However, that’s less than half of the $1.1 billion the company paid for fuel in the second quarter.

    Industry sources estimate fuel costs for airlines have increased 80 percent over a year ago. Valerie Wunder, associate manager of media relations for US Airways, says the airline is estimating its fuel costs to be $2 billion more than last year.

    She explains other moves to save fuel. They include replacing all service carts with ones that are 12 pounds lighter and, in the cockpits, replacing paper manuals with electronic flight bags and maintenance logbooks to remove about 100 pounds of weight on each flight.

    “Our fuel-hedging program and fuel-conservation measures such as single-engine taxi, which saves an estimated 5.2 million gallons of fuel annually, and fuel-conserving winglets, which reduces drag and saves approximately 1 million gallons of jet fuel, also help us conserve fuel,” Wunder says.

    Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Arizona Trucking Association, says fuel prices led to a record number of trucker bankruptcies nationally in the first quarter of the year. The association has 353 members, including UPS, Bashas’ and Safeway.

    “Truckers are struggling,” she says. “They’re doing everything in their power to reduce fuel consumption, such as limiting idle time and keeping tires properly inflated. But, when it’s 113 degrees and they’re in their sleeper cab taking a required break, they have to keep the A/C going.”

    In many cases, truckers are installing governors to limit speed or have instituted a companywide policy of keeping speeds between 58 and 62 mph.

    “Reducing speed reduces fuel use,” Rasmussen says. “Many companies are looking at markets or customers they won’t serve as part of an overall business plan. They’re sticking with their best customers, the ones that pay their bills on time.”

    Fuel formerly was the second highest cost of doing business next to labor.

    “Now, it’s the highest in many cases,” Rasmussen says.

    The outlook?

    “There’s not much to indicate we will get an improvement in fuel prices,” Rasmussen says.

    “There are too many things on the global horizon indicating we will continue to have shortages of distillate, which is what diesel fuel is made from. There is a huge increase in demand overseas.”

    Part of the problem is the weak dollar. U.S. firms are exporting more diesel fuel than ever.

    “They can sell it for more overseas,” Rasmussen says. “Wouldn’t you?”

    For more information about how Valley companies are combating high energy costs, visit the following websites:

    bashas.com
    usairways.com

    dependablesolarproducts.com

    windenergy.com
    azbiodiesel.com

    arizonatrucking.com

    Arizona Business Magazine September 2008