Tag Archives: green news

Pinnacle Peak Patio

Beat the Heat at Scottsdale's Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse

If you’re looking for entertainment that won’t result in heat exhaustion, you might want to head to Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse in Scottsdale.

Arizona’s largest western steakhouse is planning a free concert series, Cool Summer Nights,” that will kick off June 14, 2013.

LOWER-PATIO-1The higher elevation of Pinnacle Peak Patio provides temperatures at an average of 10 degrees cooler than southern parts of the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. This makes the steakhouse’s patios a popular gathering place throughout the summer months coupled with a relaxed atmosphere and amazing views.

The series will continue with special events planned for July 12, August 16 and September 13. The series features Michelob Ultra, Bud, Bud Light for only $3 and a $12 dinner patio dinner special. Full menu dinners will be available inside the restaurant, as well as a kids’ menu.

Performers include Young Country on July 12, the James Parker Band on August 16, and Mike Easterday on September 13.

Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse is  is located at 10426 E. Jomax Road, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85262.

For more information, please visit http://www.pppatio.com/

Solar Panel - Guadalupe’s First Commercial Solar Project

Guadalupe’s First Commercial Solar Project And McCarthy Commits To Credentialing Program For LEED APs

There is some exciting new green news for Arizona this week.

First, McCarthy Building Companies Inc. has announced its commitment to the Green Building Certification Institute’s Credentialing Maintenance Program for the firm’s 400+ LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED APs). Credential maintenance is the continuing education completed by LEED Professionals  to be updated on the current information regarding green building practices. The new curriculum is different from the existing program and will focus on the improvements that can be made during design, construction and operations to improve the sustainability of the projects.

“McCarthy’s investment in continuing education underscores the company’s commitment to both its employees and its customers, “ said Beth Holst, Vice President of Credentialing for the Green Building Certification Institute.  “Credential maintenance keeps LEED AP’s at the forefront of the green building field.”

Through the McCarthy Green Curriculum, LEED APs will be required to complete 30 hours of training over the next two years to maintain the new building and design credential.

“Building green is here to stay,” said Chad Dorgan, vice president of quality and sustainability at McCarthy. “Over the next three years alone, we anticipate an 1,125% increase in LEED certified McCarthy projects. Supporting the GBCI Credential Maintenance Program is one important way to keep McCarthy builders at the forefront of this ever-changing industry.”

Secondly, Guadalupe’s first commercial solar project is underway. This project is near completion at Itom A’e, a low-income housing tax credit senior community, which is owned by the Englewood Group. The project will include 290 solar panels totaling 66,700 watts. The group feels so strongly about the power of PV, that they also have signed a contract with Perfect Power Solar to install a second phase system on Itom A’e for their newest senior housing community. The solar system they chose is a major component of the 50,000 square foot building encompassing a 1.47 acre site. Once all this work is done, the association expects to eliminate all of the buildings common area electric energy costs.

Dave Brady, Director of Sales for Perfect Power Solar stated, “It’s all about the kWh.  The systems for Itom A’e is designed to out perform other PV systems by as much as 25 percent.”

www.mccarthy.com
www.perfectpowersolar.com

Paper-To-Pencil Machine

Green News Roundup-Green Advertising, Products & More

Welcome back to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve decided to focus on introducing you to some green advertising campaigns and green products.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing kasia@azbigmedia.com

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

G.E. Says, ‘Eco! Eco! Hello! Hello!’
General Electric has been revealing its innovative “ecomagination” ads since 2003. The newest ad campaign titled “Tag your green” is making its rounds through the viral landscape on Flickr, Howcast and YouTube. The goal is to encourage fresh ways of thinking about the environment.

DBA 98 Pen
While perusing the Web I came across two really exciting products that will make you look at office supplies in a whole different way.
The DBA 98 Pen is a 98 percent biodegradable pen, the only one in the world. The ink is made of simple, environmentally friendly ingredients and it was also produced in a wind-powered facility in the U.S. Talk about a green way to write!

Paper-To-Pencil Machine Repurposes Printed Pages
If your office looks anything like mine, there is always plenty of papers floating around. We do our best by recycling all our used paper, but this machine takes it to a whole new level! This concept was created by designers Chengzhu Ruan, Yuanyuan Liu, Xinwei Yuan & Chao Chen and it basically takes old paper and pops out whole pencils. The pencils core is fed in and then as the paper is put in the machine, it wraps around the core and is compressed. And voila! you’ve got yourself a pencil. Now will this make it to production? Who knows. But I think it’s a great tool. Even if the office doesn’t have much use for pencils, I’m positive local schools would be more than happy to accept them.

Image courtesy of: Yanko Design

Insic Wall Socket

Green News Roundup- Green And Sustainable Retail Products

Welcome back to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve decided to focus on highlighting green products, some are available now and some are still in prototype stage. Either way, they point to an exciting new direction for the retail industry and their involvement with sustainability.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing kasia@azbigmedia.com

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

Insic Wall Socket is an outlet product created by Designer Muhyeon Kim that lights up and displays how many watts are being used by whatever device is being plugged into it. The idea behind it is that users will see just how much energy their devices are using and will become more aware of unplugging things when not in use to save energy.

Simple Shoes based out of Flagstaff, Ariz. is committed to making sustainable footwear that is vegan and eco-friendly. Products include bamboo, organic cotton, crepe, jute, hemp, cork, water based glues, recycled car tires, and PET recycled plastic. Not only are the shoes sustainable but the entire manufacturing process is as well.

Healthy Baby Happy Earth is a store in Glendale, Ariz. that sells environmentally friendly items for babies including cloth diapers, organic cotton clothing and a food processor that allows parents to make their own baby food. A lot of their products also provide long-term purposes like the cloth diaper which can serve from newborn to potty-training age.

Yumberi Yogurt is serving up frozen treats in Glendale, Ariz. while also supporting a sustainable environment. All of the yogurts at Yumberi are served in biodegradable bowls made from corn oil and plant fibers and the spoons are made from potato skins. The company also supports eco-friendly events such as their monthly contest that asks kids to write a letter explaining what they are doing to help change the world.

Image via Yanko Design

Oil Absorbing seaswarm Robot

Oil Absorbing Robots, Energy Awareness Month And More

Here’s the latest green news on oil absorbing robots, energy awareness month, eco-moms going strong, and others.

Fresh & Easy Opens First Store with CO2 Refrigeration
A recently-opened Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Southern California is the first to use naturally-occurring carbon-dioxide refrigeration, and the first to be certified by the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership, an award granted to fewer than 40 of the nation’s 35,000 grocery stores. The natural refrigerant reduces the impact of the store’s refrigeration on the ozone layer by about 70 percent.

Fleet of Robots Designed to Clean Up Oil
Scientists at MIT have developed robots they call Seaswarm capable of cleaning oil spills through their super-absorbent “nanofabric.” They run on very little energy, solar-powered, and communicate with one another through global positioning systems and wireless communications. They’re small enough to reach hard-to-reach places and can clean for weeks at a time. This LA Times article features a Q&A with the director of MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory, who led the researchers on the project.

China Beat US in Offshore Wind, Europe Still Trounces Everyone Else in Solar Power
Two reports have come out recently demonstrating that the United States has some fierce competition in renewable energy. China has built the first major offshore wind farm outside of Europe despite Cape Wind’s progress. Europe itself was responsible for 80 percent of new solar PV systems installed last year, with Germany dominating that market.

Making Energy Awareness Month a Boon for Green Initiatives
A little-known fact: October is Energy Awareness Month. A complement to Earth Day in the spring, it’s the perfect opportunity to encourage employee activities and simple acts to conserve energy (the month’s other goal besides awareness).

Eco-Moms Represent $1.45T in Buying Power
A new category of moms has come into play: “EcoAware Moms.” Representing 69 percent of mothers and numbering 51 million, these moms see eco-friendly choices as the chance to teach important behaviors to their kids and to leave a legacy for future generations. They’re also more likely to believe they have control over how healthy their home is.

Photo Credit: A project by the MIT Senseable City Lab senseable.mit.edu/seaswarm
Photos by Kris Krüg and Andrea Frank
Graphics by Adam Pruden www.adampruden.com

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- Helping The Environment From The B Side

What do “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart all have in common? These classic tunes all came from the B-side.

When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


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.

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, 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.

Cohesive Workplace

Cohesive Sustainable Workplace Environment

The summer of fun in Arizona has arrived. What are some of the exciting topics around the water cooler this season? Consider these: A splendid May that has seen unseasonably cool temperatures; our Phoenix Suns vying for a championship; environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; this little thing called Senate Bill 1070.

Did you just feel the air go out of the break room? Regardless of personal and political ideology, the recent piece of state legislation (with national implications) brings to light a workplace issue that should be at the forefront of managers minds: How do we build a cohesive and sustainable workplace?

Cohesion in the workplace drives company loyalty, reduces employee churn, increases efficiency and productivity, and creates an environment where people desire to work. What does this mean from a business sustainability standpoint? Better people, better work, and better potential profit. A workplace environment in which employees dread coming to work, do not feel engaged, and are not valued does not equate to a prudent business model. An organization that embodies employee respect and engagement has a framework for success and sustainability.

In the midst of our state’s economic and social uncertainty, here are some ideas to help foster a more cohesive environment in your workplace:

Stakeholder Engagement:
You will be amazed at the innovative ideas and solutions that your employees possess. Provide your employees, at all levels, with the opportunity to “co-create” their future and the future of the organization in concert with you, the manager.  Buy-in, especially by those most closely tied to the organization, is always in style.

Employees as Assets:
Don’t marginalize or alienate the greatest asset in your workplace; employees. Make a concerted effort to develop and advance your employees professional and personal life. You will be amazed how a little development will produce a lifelong raving fan that works harder and better for the organization.

Create a nurturing environment:
Workplace stress can have deleterious effects on employee behavior, health, and family life. Combat this by making the workplace one in which people have fun, interact, and look forward to coming to each day.

Arizona is a beautiful state that is home to a diverse and pluralistic community of individuals that provide us with a rich culture. Naturally, this permeates into our collective workforce. While businesses should always act in a manner that complies with the current legal framework, they should also make a concerted effort to establish a more cohesive environment for its diverse workforce and act in a more sustainable manner.

What are your success stories in creating cohesive and sustainable business environments?

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.

Urban Land Institute

Earth Day 2010: A Pivot Point for Land Use and Community Building

By Patrick L. Phillips
Chief Executive Officer, Urban Land Institute

The fortieth annual recognition of Earth Day finds the world of land use in the midst of change, much as it was in 1970. However, in terms of community building, where we’ve been over the past four decades is not where we are headed for the next 40 years. What we’ve learned is that we can build in a way that both accommodates growth and protects — even enhances — the environment.

When the recognition of Earth Day began, people were moving to suburbia by the hundreds of thousands, returning to downtowns primarily to work or shop in department stores. Suburban malls were still innovative; the average home cost about $23,400 and covered 1,400 square feet; the average car cost $3,900 (plus $39 for an eight-track stereo); and a gallon of gas cost about 36 cents.

Triggered by relatively cheap housing, cars and gas, our urban regions were continuing the postwar form: growing outward in two general patterns – rings, based primarily around major highway construction that circled around cities; or linear growth tracking a spine of major highways. The result was the familiar “hub and spoke” metropolitan pattern. Our cities were growing in spite of the environment, not in harmony with it.

Even as urban sprawl was advancing, the Urban Land Institute warned of the potential for dire consequences. A 1970 article in Urban Land magazine cautioned, “We have carried the concept of conquest and dominion over nature to a point where large areas of our living environment have become not only unsightly but downright unhealthy.” It implored the land use community to be aware of development’s toll on air and water quality, and to appreciate “the interplay between the natural earth forces and land development activities.”

It was a fortuitous message then, and one with even more relevance now: How we use land matters. Land use has an enormous impact, not just on the natural environment, but on the long term economic and social viability of our cities. Vast demographic, financial, and environmental shifts are necessitating a major overhaul in what and where we build, and will continue to do over the next 40 years leading to Earth Day 2050.
Among the forces of change now in place:

  • The U.S. population has grown by more than 100 million people since 1970, with an additional 150 million expected over the next 40 years;
  • The first wave of baby boomers are hitting 65 — most will shun retirement and stay in the workforce, and many, if healthy now, could still be alive in 40 years;
  • The children of baby boomers, Generation Y (the most technologically connected generation in history) has started to enter the housing market and workforce;
  • Household size is shrinking, due to more people living alone, delaying marriage and childbirth, and having fewer children;
  • The U.S. is now the largest importer of oil, rather than the largest exporter, leading to stepped up efforts to develop alternate sources of energy;
  • The U.S. transportation infrastructure system, once a world leader due to the new interstate highway system, is now falling far behind Asia and Europe in terms of transportation investments;
  • Concerns over climate change have resulted in an increasing number of government mandates aimed at limiting carbon emissions from vehicles and buildings; and
  • The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression has 1) thrown credit markets into prolonged turmoil; and 2) left many markets with unprecedented housing foreclosures, causing a decline in the homeownership rate and a long-term change in the perception of homeownership as the American Dream.

All these changes are taking place as the U.S. is becoming an increasingly urban nation, and as our urban regions are evolving into different nodes of employment, housing and recreation spanning 40 or 50 more miles. It is difficult to predict exactly what the city in 2050 will look like. However, what is clear is that piece-meal, haphazard and poorly connected development is a thing of the past. It’s also clear that the majority of the growth will occur not in downtowns, but in the suburbs. And in these areas, less land will have to be used to accommodate more people. This change in how suburban areas grow will have a major influence on the environmental and economic sustainability of entire metropolitan regions.

Going forward, this is what we can expect: building more densely to conserve energy, water and land, and to reduce the need to drive. Better coordination of land use planning and transportation planning, so that more development is oriented toward transit options. And, reusing and adapting obsolete space in a way that reflects the changing needs and desires of a much more mobile society – a society in which many are likely to rent longer and change jobs much more frequently.

At 40 years, Earth Day 2010 marks a pivot point for land use and community building. Looking forward to Earth Day 2050, it’s important to consider how the impact of urban design and development meets residents’ expectations for livability, amenities, flexibility and choice. Ultimately, cities are about what’s best for people, not buildings, and not cars. The places that get this right will be the winners in the decades ahead.

www.uli.org

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.

Green World

Green News Roundup-Sustainable Haiti, Economic Development & More

The catastrophic events that have stricken the people of Haiti demonstrate — quite lamentably — that in a world of nanotechnology, Google-enabled mobile phones, double tall soy lattes, and proposed universal healthcare, there remain societies on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. For comparison sake, recall the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area; a 7.0 geological shift took the lives of 63 people. The same magnitude befell the people of Haiti on Jan. 12; while estimates vary, 100,000 could be dead. That is half of the population of the City of Tempe.

International aid organizations have begun to alleviate immediate suffering; there has been a nationally televised charity concert where people could “text-message” help from the comfort of their own home; myriad countries have sent physical and monetary support. However, there remains a normative question that should be on our minds:

What should we do to ensure a more sustainable Haiti, in the future?

Consider these:

Expand education efforts:

In a nation where 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14, developing intellectual capital will allow good ideas to originate, blossom, and be implemented in a country that is in dire need of them.

Economic development and investment:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. By advancing an equitable combination of foreign direct investment, NGO/nonprofit work, and domestic revenue producing opportunities we can ensure that Haitians are placed on a path of economic self sufficiency;

Further micro-lending networks and opportunities to allow access to entrepreneurial capital and development. Jobs starting from bottom up will empower individuals and reduce the economic stratification that is rampant in the country.

Establish legitimate governance systems:

Haiti’s government has utilized 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers to maintain some semblance of order and control since 2004. While a future government does not have to be a veritable paragon of representative democracy and efficiency, the people of Haiti deserve a government that will work — vigorously and in earnest — to advance their well-being. Imagine there were a comprehensive and enforced modern building code prior to the earthquake; would Haiti have fared more like San Francisco?

The world is not a mutually exclusive place anymore. We, a global people, are connected to one another in innumerable ways. As such, we need to demonstrate our solidarity and resolute commitment to creating a more sustainable Haiti. I challenge you to ask what else you, your business, organization, or nonprofit can contribute towards the economic, social, and environmental revitalization of Haiti.

Let’s start a thoughtful and innovative conversation about how businesses, organizations, and nonprofits can move beyond status-quo assistance and be truly entrepreneurial and ground-breaking in their aid. I look forward to making positive change happen, together.

Recycling Bins

Green News Roundup-Greener Building, Education & More

For those of you involved in the green/sustainability arena, you are probably still decompressing from the impressive event that was the Greenbuild 2009 Conference and Expo that was held last week. With over 27,000 attendees, the Phoenix Convention Center, Chase Field, local businesses, and the entire community were host to a remarkable event.

Produced by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the conference aimed to bring leading minds, businesses, and the community together around the premise of green building, education, and professional networking.

During my time visiting the impressive conference, some of the following thoughts came to me:

  • The Gargantuan Expo: The expo (which was an exhausting feat to see all of it in detail) was filled with an incredible array of vendors showcasing their particular products that contribute to green buildings and lifestyles. There are – it is not a stretch to say – innumerable creative manners in which a business or individual may contribute towards a “greener” building, property, and subsequent environment.
  • Intellectual Development and Discussion: There were several intriguing presentations by industry experts, academic researchers, community members, and perspicacious interdisciplinary practitioners. The presentations that blended elements of “green” building/design with a social cohesion element had particular merit.
  • Keynote Speeches: Nobel prize laureate Al Gore gave the keynote address on Wednesday evening at Chase field. While much of Mr. Gore’s speech was information that many of the participants may have already heard via self subscription to the “green” lifestyle, he did offer a particularly compelling charge to the audience. It was a call to arms advocating that the audience move beyond discussing green tactics and immediately work to make a substantive difference, now.

Given the participation of the conference, I would challenge each individual to consider some of the following points:

  • How do we, as individuals who have a particular interest in this field (and its success), bring the tenants of green building to those who need it most? What are the ways in which we are enabling and setting up our communities – of all socioeconomic and demographic representation – for success? Are the technologies and methods we recommend commensurate with a practical application to those who need it most?
  • What are the implications of the commoditization of green building ideals? While there are too many integrated issues to list here, how could the exhibitors at the Greenbuild expo make a difference in areas of abject poverty and subsistence-level construction (i.e. the applicability and practicality of technology towards the greater good)?
  • Given the awesome level of experience and mental aptitude that accompanies these conferences, what type of demonstrable impact can they have on the community in which they are held?

I’d love your thoughts, reactions, and recommendations on what you thought of Greenbuild and how to make conferences, like this one, better in the future.

Road Made Out of Glass

Driving on Glass — Solar Roads of the Future

When I browse around the internet searching for the latest green news to write about on my blog I’ve come across some pretty cool stuff. But this takes the cake (so far) for providing me with a jaw-dropping moment of admiration.

A co-worker sent me an article from Scientific American titled: Driving on Glass? Inventor Hopes to Lay Down Solar Roads.

This sure got my attention.  Scott Brusaw, of Sagle, Idaho-based Solar Roadways hopes to make this headline a reality. He is working on building a prototype of his so-called “Solar Road Panel” —basically a road that will generate power every time you drive on it. Sounds crazy? That’s what I thought at first but then I read a little further.

The solar road panel prototype is 1,024 modules, with each containing a solar cell, a light-emitting diode and, someday, an ultracapacitor for storage—placed between a layer of some yet-to-be developed glass as well as a layer of conducting material.

Glass is certainly not what comes to mind when one thinks of building material for roads, but this won’t be your average glass. It will be textured to allow for water run-off and tire-grip for vehicles. Heating elements — similar to those you find in your car’s rear windshield — will help melt snow or ice and the road will be self-cleaning. And of course, it will be super strong and able to handle the extreme stress of having mass amounts of weight on it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This type of glass doesn’t exist — not yet anyway.

Brusaw is hoping to partner with researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s Materials Research Institute to develop it.

With $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Brusaw is currently building a prototype from chemically hardened glass panels and experimenting with various types of solar cells. The ultimate goal is to create a cross-country highway system that doubles as a national electricity generator and power grid.

The prototype is due to be tested in February of 2010. I’m curious to see how this turns out and what lies on the road ahead — literally.

Read more about solar roads here