Tag Archives: sustainability

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

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

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

solar_prop

$467 Million For Geothermal And Solar Energy Projects

Sustainability is an ongoing movement that requires commitment from all — from politicians to regular citizens and everyone in between. In my ongoing quest of educating myself about news and events going on in the world of “green” I came across this release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign President Obama spoke of an amibitious energy plan and the first steps have been made to make the plan a reality.

President Obama announced that “…over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.”

The fact that this much money has been set aside in the name of creating a sustainable future for the United States is a huge step forward. President Obama went on to say that “We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy.”

Recognizing that the path we’ve been on must be altered is just the beginning. By investing money to discover alternative energy sources, technology, etc., we have made the first step on this long journey.

The funds are going toward several types of green technology: $350 million is being set aside for geothermal energy, a source of renewable energy that uses heat from the Earth for electricity generation and heating applications.

An additional $117.6 million will go toward solar energy technologies. The goal of the various partnerships and developments is to continue to lead our country to a greener future.

It’s encouraging to know that although we are all facing difficult economic times right now, the government recognizes that making this investment is for the greater good of not only the U.S. but the world.

Source:
U.S. Department of Energy

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.

    Craig Jackson of Barrett Jackson

    Craig Jackson – CEO Of Barrett-Jackson

    When Craig Jackson took control of his family’s business, Barrett-Jackson, following the death of his father and brother in 1993 and 1995, respectively, he inherited a company that took in $15 million from one automobile auction. He was ready for the challenge, however, having grown up in the business and working in various roles. Today, the company has grown to three auctions — one in Scottsdale, one in Palm Beach, Fla., and one in Las Vegas — and made roughly $135 million at its 2008 auctions. But to achieve that growth, Jackson had to make several changes.

    “My goal was to make it more inclusive and more of a family-oriented lifestyle event, whereas before, you’d call it the boys club,” Jackson says. “(It wasn’t) something the wives felt like they had their own place.”

    Live television coverage on the SPEED Network, an active Web presence, myriad vendors of food, clothing and accessories, and a fashion show were all among the auction’s new image. Jackson also broadened the core of the auction — its selection of automobiles.

    “Car collecting now isn’t just classics,” he says. “It’s everything that’s got collectability and uniqueness to it. It’s a much broader hobby and industry.

    “To have sustainability in this business, you need to have new collectors and a much broader assortment because some things are hot one year and some things are cold another,” he continues. “We’re like the New York Stock Exchange — we sell commodities from all sorts of different types of cars to all sorts of different types of buyers in an open arms-like transaction.”

    The current economy, Jackson says, has not had too much of an impact on the business as of yet. The auctions are still garnering a lot of attention. The 2008 Scottsdale auction alone had an attendance of 286,000 people, 30 percent of whom flew in from out of state. However, he is planning some cutbacks in regard to logistics for the auction, including ending the auction earlier than usual. This year’s Scottsdale auction runs from Jan. 11-18 at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

    The tourism industry in Arizona is heading in the right direction during this time, Jackson says, but it needs everyone to work together in order to make it stronger.

    “Tourism is one of those things that needs constant looking after,” he explains. “There’s constantly a game plan by other states and cities to whittle away at it; this one should have a game plan how not to allow that to happen and not take it for granted. … There are other communities that are very aggressive and their job is to come steal what we have here, and if there’s nobody making sure we’re all getting the support we need, then all of the sudden (moving an event) seems pretty attractive.”

    It’s especially important that Arizona municipalities work together, considering that other destinations don’t consider the state a threat, Jackson says. He attended a meeting in Las Vegas when the city government was voting on funding for a new convention center, and while there he saw a chart that listed other cities considered to be their competition — and Phoenix wasn’t listed.

    “They’ve already discounted us,” he says, “and that was pretty telling. … It’s in Scottsdale’s best interest, it’s in Phoenix’s, it’s in Paradise Valley’s, it’s in everybody’s to work together collaboratively. … I think it’s turning in the right direction. We’ve let it atrophy for a while, but it needs, actually, an infusion of capital and attention.”

    www.barrett-jackson.com

    gas

    Fueling Change: Higher Energy Costs Are Forcing Valley Companies To Look For Alternatives

    Fueling Change

    Higher energy costs are forcing Valley companies to look for alternatives

    By Don Harris
    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.

    Arizona Business Magazine, September 2008

    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.”Cover September 2008:  Fueing Change

    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.

    Arizona Business magazine September 2008 “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?”

    www.bashas.com
    www.usairways.com
    www.dependablesolarproducts.com
    www.windenergy.com
    www.azbiodiesel.com
    www.arizonatrucking.com