Greenwash Alert: Lucky Supermarkets Announce Indoor Farmers Markets

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Lucky%20Supermarket.jpg As I listened to the radio yesterday evening, enjoying the warm summer evening in my suburban Bay Area neighborhood, an interest commercial came on, nestled somewhere in between the ad for the cell phone carriers and the dating website. Lucky Supermarkets, a Northern California entity of the Save Mart chain, will now feature indoor farmers markets in select locations.
The commercial took the form of two country folk talking about what it was like to be indoors, following the assumption that neither had ever actually been indoors before. Aside from the questionable production value of the ad itself, it made me think about what the supermarket chain was really offering.
Fresh, local, and sometimes organic produce… great. It’s wonderful that a supermarket chain that caters to the bargain shopper would want to promote local farmers and fresh and organic produce. But–and this is a fairly large but–how will this be different from the normal produce section? More importantly, why don’t they just make the items offered at the farmers market the normal produce section itself? This, unfortunately, seems to be yet another moment of wanting to capitalize on the green, organic craze rather than a more sincere attempt to provide a better, more meaningful product to its consumers. Better luck next time Lucky…

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How Incentives Help Commercial Building Retrofits

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Rising electricity prices, climate change and a sagging economy are driving public and private institutions to focus on energy efficiency in the built environment. Before the economy soured, the focus was on constructing high performance buildings, but after lending dried up, a renewed interest emerged in improving energy consumption in our aging infrastructure through retrofits.
The fact is that over 80 percent of our existing commercial building stock will still be standing 10-15 years from now. Smart building technologies geared towards the retrofit market promise substantial energy savings. These technologies, coupled with targeted federal incentives, could mean a fundamental shift in the way our buildings use energy.

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How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems When Implementing Eco-Upgrades

3p Contributor | Monday July 13th, 2009 | 4 Comments

By Eric Cohen of Padosa.com: Helping Small Companies Get Green

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There is an assumption among sustainability vendors that a project with a short payback – under a year – is sure to get signed off on. I think this is a realistic expectation for a big company who is concerned with sustainability. I don’t think it is realistic for a small company, under $50M in revenue.
I have had a number of vendors propose sustainability projects – lighting, transformers, supply chain, etc. – to small companies that lacked a green strategy. These projects:
1) Had short paybacks of no more than 2 years, and often under a year
2) Were visible projects that would earn the company some green credibility
3) Were relatively easy to implement
Despite these benefits, it is difficult to get small companies to approve these projects unless they have a sustainability strategy in place. What is the hesitation? It is all about cashflow. Regardless of payback, a $40,000 lighting project still requires an investment of $40,000 out of what is likely a difficult cash situation. These companies need to use their cash to fund growth and a lighting upgrade won’t do that.

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Wine Tastings, Crab Cakes and Great Scenery – Is This Why Amtrak Is Rising?

Scott Cooney | Monday July 13th, 2009 | 3 Comments

coaststarlight.jpgAmtrak, the nation’s passenger rail system, has been declared dead so many times, it must feel like the characters in Monty Python’s SPAM-A-LOT musical. Amtrak’s been an easy punching bag for politicians railing (yes, pun intended) against federal programs that don’t pay for themselves.
But the last few years have seen big increases in ridership for Amtrak, begging the question: Is Amtrak finally on its way to self-sufficiency? With a much more efficient method for transporting passengers than aviation, does passenger rail get a boost from the coming legislation on climate change?
As a writer dedicated to getting out in the field and conducting research, I decided to hop a ride on the Coast Starlight train from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area to see what the nation’s renewed interest in Amtrak was all about.

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Smart Grid Stimulus Funding: Dollars May Start Flowing Soon

| Monday July 13th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Smart GridBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
If you are anything like me, you might be wondering, where is all the stimulus money we keep hearing about?
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced June 25th that approximately $3.4 billion is expected to be available for Smart Grid Investment Grants (SMIG).

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U.S. to Provide $3 Billion for Development of Renewable Energy

| Saturday July 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wind-turbineThe Treasury and Energy Departments revealed guidelines for a plan that will provide $3 billion toward the development of renewable energy nationwide. The plan is expected to spur investment in clean energy by companies in the private sector (in both urban and rural America), create jobs, and allow the U.S. to meet its goal of doubling renewable energy production over the next three years.

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“Cash for Clunkers” Program Allows for Trade-in of Fuel-Inefficient Vehicles

| Saturday July 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Consumers and auto dealers alike are enthusiastic about a new $1 billion “Cash for Clunkers” bill signed into law by the Obama administration in June. The bill created the CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System), which credits between $3,500 and $4,500 to consumers who swap aging, gas-guzzling vehicles (including SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks) for newer, more fuel-efficient models.

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Earthbound Farm and Naked Juice Switch to All Recycled Packaging

| Saturday July 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Nakedjuice.jpgPepsi Co.-owned Naked Juice, and organic salad giant Earthbound Farm (no, not that giant) separately announced Thursday they were switching to all-recycled plastic for their container needs. Earthbound Farm’s announcement is the first by a cut-salad producer.
Naked Juice, the all-juice company with the spectacularly fruity website, said they plan to transition their entire product line to 100% recycled bottles by 2011, which would make them the first nationally distributed brand to do so, according to a company press release.
Which is kind of shocking.

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Runners Rejoice: New Balance Adds Eco-Friendly Line

| Saturday July 11th, 2009 | 10 Comments

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New Balance claims that its products are “proof that U.S. manufacturing can and does work”. Given the obvious need for U.S. manufacturers to create products that are eco- as well as economically-friendly, the company has made good on its claim by creating a new line of eco-friendly shoes: The New Balance 70, to be included in the company’s line of outdoor apparel. Now runners who are also sustainability enthusiasts can hit the pavement in style and integrity.

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Biking to Work Is a Great Idea, But…

| Friday July 10th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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Many businesses, whether by legal mandate, internal desire, or to save money, are seeking creative ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Offsetting and making improvements on your facility are a great move, but then there’s the human component: You and your staff, how and where they work, and how they get there. Inevitably, bicycling to work is mentioned as an option.

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Costco™ – An Emerging E-Cycling Leader?

| Friday July 10th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Costco Electronics Recycling ProgramAt Costco™, you can buy Spam® in bulk, stock up on toilet paper, and… recycle your used electronics?
The bulk-sale superstore has adopted some new buzz words – “you get paid to be environmentally responsible” – and introduced a new program, powered by Gazelle.com, by which customers can trade in old gadgets in exchange for Costco™ cash. The list of recyclable items is long: cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, PDAs, laptops, GPS devices, gaming consoles, camcorders, and more. The website also provides information on where to recycle electronics Gazelle.com doesn’t accept online so that consumers can be rid of these items without flooding local landfills.

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GM Spinning Green

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday July 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

GM.jpg As much as it might want to, GM doesn’t stand for Green Motors. The legendary but gasping company should get a few props for trying though. The trick now for the General and other U.S. carmakers is to get greener fast while reorganizing, rolling through their bankruptcies and bleeding greenbacks.
Sarcasm and skepticism is easy when considering GM and its recent legacy of management failure, choices in car offerings, design, performance and quality and its late seating at the green table.
At the same time it is also possible that despite that company’s sorry recent past and desperate present it has learned a lesson for the future. It must do this or reap the whirlwind.

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International Climate Policy Is in a Global Gridlock

| Friday July 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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On Wednesday of this week, the G8 leaders failed to unanimously pass a climate bill to mandate a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. The group’s failure to agree is further evidence that international agreements on a global climate change policy are stalling. The cause of the gridlock stems from disagreements among national leaders on primarily two fronts: efficacy and equity. History plays a part as well, as exemplified by Obama’s struggle to overcome the legacy of the Bush administration’s inaction on the climate issue.
As progress towards an international agreement stalls, climate change policy critics are gaining a stronger voice in the debate over the issue. In fact, an international group of academics are now encouraging world leaders to simply abandon their current climate change policies. Instead, the authors advocate for the G8 nations and developing countries to emphasize improvements in energy efficiency and to deploy low-carbon technologies.

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Hohm: Microsoft Enters Home Energy Management

| Friday July 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hohm.jpgThe field of competitors within the emerging field of energy management software now includes Microsoft. Earlier this week Microsoft launched Hohm, a home energy management application that delivers appliance specific energy consumption data to users through a web interface. The intention behind Hohm is to enable consumers to gauge their electricity usage and determine strategies for reducing consumption.

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Bottled Water: If You Must, New Report Scores Best Brands

| Friday July 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

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Photo: Telegraph.co.uk
Bottled water was in the headlines several times this week, including a piece in the New York Times.
Not only is bottled water a poor environmental choice, but according to two new reports, one from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the other from the Environmental Working Group (EWG ), filtered tap water may actually be a safer and healthier choice.
Unlike providers of tap water, who must provide detailed information about the source and treatment of their water, the bottled water industry is less regulated, therefore bottled water labels can be misleading or lacking in information.

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