Desertec: Make it Big

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments


The solar power industry has a couple of well-worn factoids it loves to whip out to impress people. One is that the planet receives more energy from the sun in an hour than humanity uses in a year. Another is that 100 square miles (or thereabouts) of solar plants in Arizona could power the entire United States.
Well, here’s a new one: 90,000 square kilometers in the Sahara. That’s how much land it would take, covered in solar thermal power stations, to power all of human civilization, according to Desertec, a partnership of European companies, governments and NGOs which was officially launched on Monday. Desertec aims to build a network of solar plants spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East that would provide a significant percentage (15% or more) of the electricity needs of all three regions.

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Does Evian’s New Campaign Go Too Far?

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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I’ll admit it, I’m already pretty biased against all bottled water companies. Anyone that takes a product that flows freely in most cities, puts in a plastic bottle, ships it thousands of miles and sells it for money is crossing quite a few environmental lines. But calling anything about that process “natural” is even more offensive. This is what Evian touts in its latest campaign.
This water is untouched by man until it reaches your lips,” boasts the website, billboard and ads.

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Mid-East Water Projects Down But Not Out

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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For this year at least, the global recession is staunching the flow of money and equipment for vital water and wastewater treatment facilities in the Middle East’s Gulf Cooperation Council countries, says a Frost & Sullivan report.
That market was experiencing rapid growth as recently as last year, sparked by huge in the infrastructure, real estate, petrochemicals, oil and gas sectors. The research firm says the slowdown in Mid-East water and wastewater treatment projects is likely a pause in the action.

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Unrenewable Renewable Energy? Iceland May Reach Geothermal Limits

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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If geothermal energy is renewable, it must also be available in endless supply – right?
Many Icelanders, whose nation is fueled almost entirely by hydropower or hot spring-harnessed (geothermal) energy, are beginning to question this line of thinking. Iceland is attempting to diversify its economy away from fishing, which it will replace with a (much disputed and power-intensive) aluminum industry. Icelanders are debating, among the other issues, whether or not there will be enough geothermal energy to make the transition.

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SustainAbility and GlobeScan: The Sustainability Survey

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer of Green Impact

GlobeScan and SustainAbility just announced the initial results of their inaugural expert opinion tracking study, the Sustainability Survey.
Replacing the Survey of Sustainability Experts that GlobeScan has produced for years, the new survey draws on a much larger and more robust panel of experts – over 1,600 experts responded to an on-line questionnaire, representing various sectors in more than 90 countries across the globe. Respondents included thought leaders from government, non-governmental organizations, consultancies, academia and the private sector.

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Japan and the U.S. Duke it Out in a Different Type of Hybrid Vehicle Race

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Prius.jpgUntil last month, American hybrid car manufacturers could rest assured that, if nothing else, the nation’s market for the vehicles at least exceeded Japan’s. Data shows that in 2006, Japan sold just one hybrid for every 4.3 sold in the U.S. But now, Japan has surpassed the U.S. in demand for the hybrids, with approximately 8 percent of new vehicles sold in June being hybrid (versus the U.S.’s approximate 2.6 percent). Analysts suggest that Japan’s astronomical gas prices (a whopping $4.50 a gallon), enticing tax incentives, and new products are to blame.

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Australia Raises Conservationists’ Eyebrows with Plans for Renewable Energy-Powered Water Treatment Plant

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

factory.jpgAustralia is attempting a remarkable feat: the creation of a seawater desalination plant powered completely by energy bought from renewable energy suppliers (i.e. wind, solar, and geothermal). Given the continent’s water shortage and the global push for clean energy, the plant will, in some ways, be quite an accomplishment. Yet, given the “un-greenness” of traditional desal facilities (which guzzle energy and water and harm nearby wildlife), it could also be something akin to putting lipstick on a pig. Skeptics wonder: will the plant live up to people’s expectations?

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Senators Introduce Alternative Fuel Legislation

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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If several U.S. senators have their way, alternative fuel may not be as alternative for long. Three senators are pushing a bill that would increase the use of natural gas in motor vehicles, thereby decreasing the nation’s dependence on oil. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Senators Robert B. Menendez (D-NJ) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the legislation.

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E-Waste Recycling for the Little Guys?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Even before State-based laws designed to govern the proper handling of used electronics began emerging across the US, many large corporations had made arrangements with collectors, through which they were able to recycle large numbers of obsolete equipment. But few easy, cost-efficient options exist for small and medium-sized businesses that want to recycle their smaller quantities of electronics. In fact, most small business owners are likely stockpiling computers and peripherals in garages or basements as we speak, waiting for word of the next e-waste collection event in their communities.
But a new e-waste recycling option has emerged for small and medium business located in Northern California. Give Something Back, a seller of office supplies, has launched an e-waste take-back program for its customers. Give Something Back is certified by Bay Area Green Business Program as well as B Corporation and donates a portion of its profits to charity. It also operates its business without retail stores, using thirty distribution centers around the country to ship orders to businesses.

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Do Consumers Know What They’re Doing? Recent Study Baffles Corporate Responsibility Experts

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 5 Comments

CRS awardThe results of a recent corporate responsibility study – the Corporate Citizenship Study (CCS) – have experts befuddled. The CCS asked consumers to rank several corporations’ level of corporate social responsibility, or CSR (a corporation’s transparency in its practice and reporting of environmental, financial, and other policies). The results of the CSS were unexpected: consumers ranked several corporations (including Microsoft and General Mills) over other companies (including Pepsi, Coca Cola, Apple, and McDonald’s) deemed more socially responsible by the CRO 100 (a CSR policing agency that annually ranks corporations in its “Best Corporate Citizens” list).

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Squeezing New Life from Beverage Cartons

Wes Muir | Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments


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By Wes Muir, Director, Communications, Waste Management
Chew on this: nearly every breakfast table in the country holds a carton of orange juice or milk each morning. While we’re well aware that these beverages help us maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it’s easily overlooked that the milk and juice cartons we use can also help maintain a healthy and balanced environment. These cartons are largely made of paper that consumers can recycle, and giving these products a second life reduces the strain they put on the environment if they are merely put to waste.
Until very recently, milk and juice carton recycling received little attention, with only certain municipalities offering carton recycling services. Even information about recycling the more than 510,000,000 milk cartons used in the U.S. (a 2006 statistic from the National Recycling Coalition) was fairly unavailable. The EPA has general statistics about paper recycling, including the paperboard that makes up typical cartons. However, as one eco-conscious blogger noted in June 2008:

That got me thinking. How many milk cartons does my household go through over a short period of time, say a week? More importantly, why are milk cartons not recycled? They are made of paper aren’t they? Even more puzzling is the fact that on the side of some of the cartons I buy, it says “please recycle”. I want to, but my town will not take them. So I decided to do some research on how to recycle a milk carton, and why my town won’t do it. I thought the information would be readily available. I was wrong.

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Is there a Moore’s Law for Solar Cells?

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

solar_panels_panelled_house_roof_array.jpgIn 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, wrote a paper on a phenomenon he noticed in the transistor industry: the number of transistors that could fit on an integrated circuit, or microchip, doubled about every two years, leading to exponential growth in speed and power. This rule of thumb, now known as Moore’s Law, has been remarkably resilient in the decades since.
In a recent article for Greentech Media, Michael Kanellos explores the possibility that increased efficiencies in manufacturing, combined with a growing flood of research, both private and public, could generate a version of Moore’s Law for photovoltaics (solar cells).

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Bush-era Smog Rule Bites the Dust

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Many legal experts are working diligently to put the Bush administration’s smog regulations, well, up in smoke. A federal appeals court (a three-judge panel of DC’s Court of Appeals) determined Friday to overturn a Bush administration rule controlling smog-forming industrial emissions. The panel ruled that the rule was inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, which defines the EPA’s responsibilities for defending and advancing the nation’s ozone layer and air quality.

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Kendall-Jackson: Seeing Green from New GE Lighting

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
Energy efficiency is one of those low hanging fruits that is ripe to be picked. For Kendall-Jackson Winery, reducing expenses from lighting just made good business sense. It might not seem very sexy, but they expect to see the benefits of their new energy-efficient lighting solution for years to come.
According to the press release, “The California winery aims to save more than $100,000 annually in energy and maintenance costs as a result of an energy efficiency program that features innovative new lighting from GE Consumer & Industrial.”
Unfortunately, the press release does not detail what their upfront investment was nor what the pay back period will be.

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Starting a Green Business in Costa Rica

Scott Cooney | Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

bamboostudio.jpgStarting a green business, one that is environmentally-friendly, socially responsible, and economically sustainable, is one of the most gratifying experiences a person may have in their lives. Many people dream of the day when they can become their own boss and live their dream doing something they love, something that’s good for the planet, and something that will sustain them economically. Many more people dream of the day that they can live in paradise, where tropical birds sing every morning in your backyard, avocados and mangoes grow (literally) on trees, and they watch brilliant sunsets over the beach every night. Sofiah Thom dreamt of combining these dreams, and set up shop in Costa Rica to do just that.
Thom settled into Dominical, Costa Rica, two years ago and began work on her dream green business, a yoga studio and health retreat founded on the principles of bamboo. After a quick search on BetterWorldBooks.com, I found that the title “Principles of Bamboo” has not yet been written. If it sounds a strange topic for a book, you haven’t yet heard Thom’s metaphor for bamboo in her business.

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