Job Security for Restaurateurs: Don’t Kill Your Customers, and Green Up Your Eateries

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday March 20th, 2009 | 4 Comments

bypass.jpgOne of the more insipid offerings in this year’s television menu is The Doctors, on which four fresh-faced physicians chit-chat about sundry health-related topics. One recent episode did a completely non-critical expose on “extreme health trends.” Somehow, a restaurant called Heart Attack Grill, which serves high-rise “quadruple bypass” burgers with four patties and 8000 calories, earned air time on the show. One of the doctors remarked that, with its lard-covered “flat-liner” fries and beverage menu consisting only of Jolt cola, this restaurant theme was taking poor health “just a little too far.” Wow, what a scathing review. Alas, restaurants are free to serve whatever fatty foods they want to. At the place offers truth in advertising.
Thankfully, restaurateurs who want to serve less deadly fare now have a good online resource: sustainablefoodservice.com. The site is the brainchild of Paul Kuck, a foodservice veteran. He found it difficult to find information on sustainable goods and practices for restaurants when he opened a new eatery in 2002, which prompted him to evolve his own research into a new career as a sustainability consultant for the foodservice industry. So really, the site is just a calling card for his professional services. Still, it’s a good source of (free) data and it also acts a portal for many online databases, organizations and magazines where readers can dig down and get even more details.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

The Li-Ion Holy Grail

Richard Levangie | Friday March 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments

battery-material.jpg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Gerbrand Ceder and graduate student Byoungwoo Kang have published details of their battery breakthrough in Nature, and more than a few business executives are paying attention. Lithium batteries are known for their power, but they’ve always been slow to charge and discharge, and that has been the technology’s Achilles heel.
To better understand the recharging process, the researchers began by using powerful computers to simulate the movements of ions and electrons in lithium iron phosphate – a battery solution – and discovered that lithium ions aren’t the sluggards that scientists expected. The problem is that there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, and lithium ions can only pass through tunnels to the active electrode material when they’re perfectly positioned. In the absence of a few good traffic cops, it’s pandemonium. The solution, Ceder discovered, is to engineer the material with a so-called beltway system that guides the ions towards the tunnel entrances at an ideal angle.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Fingers in the Dikes: Dutch Invest $1.3 Billion Against Rising Seas

Richard Levangie | Friday March 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments

north-sea-flood.jpg

The Dutch are doing more than putting their fingers in the dikes; the prospect of global warming and a melting Greenland has convinced the government in the Netherlands to spend $1.3 billion per year over the next century on massive infrastructure projects. The reason is simple, as most readers know: One-quarter of this venerable European country lies below sea level.
The most pressing public works initiatives involve raising and enhancing the dikes and reinforcing storm barriers. But many other projects will be considered, including one that would move billions of tons of sand to extend the Dutch shoreline by a kilometer. These are just a few of many decisions the Dutch government will need to take over next few years, according to a recently commissioned government report.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Organic food? Please. That’s so…2008.

Scott Cooney | Friday March 20th, 2009 | 3 Comments

biodynamic farmSales of organically produced goods in 2008 slowed from their meteoric rise over the past decade to a measly 6%. Of course, given the state of the economy, 6% growth in 2008 is tremendous and underscores the continuing evolution of our food system toward a more sustainable and healthy future.
Farms that produce organic goods must undergo a certification process wherein they agree to farm organically for three years before earning their certification. This allows for sufficient breakdown of chemicals in the soil from any conventional agriculture that occurred on the site previously, so that the items grown there are virtually free of any chemical residues. The backbone of organic certification is its chemical-free process, though it is not the only sustainable aspect. Sulfites can’t be added to ‘organic wines’, for example, and there are rules about genetic modification (GMO’s).
So….organic is our best hope for a sustainable and healthy food future, right? After a recent tour of a farm employing biodynamic agricultural methods, I beg to differ.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Lobbying for complacency in an oil-soaked world

Jeff Siegel | Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 3 Comments

If you take a look at OpenSecrets.org’s database, you can find a current list of lobbying expenditures for any number of industries – including the oil and gas industry.
Turns out, in the past ten years, the oil and gas industry has ponied up $741,985,214 for lobbying efforts. Almost three quarters of a billion dollars!
So the question is, if oil truly is the cheapest and most reliable form of energy we have available today – which is what so many continue to claim – then why would the oil industry have to shell out nearly $742 million to lobby for special tax breaks and hidden subsidies? Because let’s face it…that’s exactly why they continue to spend so much on lobbying efforts. Truth is, without the taxpayers’ dime facilitating those so-called cheap gas prices at the pump, it would cost hundreds of dollars to fill the tank of even the most fuel-efficient hybrid.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Greening Buildings to Create Jobs

| Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 14 Comments

sf-city-hall.jpgBy Gavin Newsom

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “green building?” Sleek new structures with skins of advanced glass and recycled steel that blend into the landscape, facades and roofs draped in a combination of daylight-harvesting windows, wildlife habitat, and photovoltaics? New construction affords the flexibility to build contemporary masterpieces, like the California Academy of Sciences, which will receive its LEED Platinum certification this morning in San Francisco. The museum will be the largest and most visited LEED Platinum building in the world. (You can watch the event live at 9:30 AM PST).

The Academy of Sciences is a breathtaking example of our city and our citizens’ efforts to address the fact that roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco are attributable to our buildings. In August of 2008, I signed a groundbreaking green building ordinance that created the most stringent green building requirements in the nation. This was a big step in the right direction, requiring that all new buildings be subject to an unprecedented level of LEED and green building certifications. However, a comprehensive recipe for our environmental and economic sustainability requires solutions to the challenges posed by existing buildings.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Why Big Oil Misses the Big Picture

| Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 8 Comments

end%20of%20oil%202.png

Just when you thought that Big Oil was coming around, that maybe they thought it might be a good idea to invest in our collective future, not just oil futures, Royal Dutch Shell announces that it will focus its “renewable investment” portfolio on oil, gas and biofuels (ignoring solar, wind and other alternatives).
Never mind that oil and gas are hardly renewable resources by any stretch of the imagination; this news strikes a blow at the heart of the renewables industry because it begs the question: if one of the largest energy companies in the world won’t invest in our renewable future, who will?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

How Green Can McDonald’s Go Before It Has to Face Its Food Problem?

| Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

mcdonalds times square
Few people would argue that fast food is traditionally “green”, despite the slew of gourmet green fast food restaurants that have popped up recently. But Inhabitat’s coverage of student-designed biodegradable packaging brings up an interesting point: how green can fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King actually ever be?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Stimulus Boosts Solar Industry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

SolarPowerPlantSerpa.jpg
Back in October I wrote a post titled, Renewable Energy Sector Will Create New Jobs. It looks like my forecast will come true. In February, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. The Act will provide grants, tax credits, bonds, and loans guarantees to the renewable energy industry.
Brian Fan of the Cleantech Group said the stimulus will help keep existing renewable energy projects going. “The financing just wasn’t there in this climate, But now, existing projects in the pipeline…will be considered very favorably.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Beyond Leadership: Focus on the Right Questions

| Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

preidio-buzz-bar.gif
beyond_leadership_cover.jpg
The intuitive visioning section of Beyond Leadership particularly resonated with me due to a number of contributing factors. The sense of pessimism associated with the economic collapse combined with the overwhelming amount of information we’re inundated with on the existing and pending environmental issues leads naturally to questions of self-preservation. As Bennis states the question, “what can I get?”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Exploding Opportunities in Clean Tech

Frank Marquardt | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 2 Comments

cleantechjobseeker.jpgWho doesn’t want in on the action?
Yes, Newsweek called out the growth of clean tech opportunities in 2007, but job seeker tools started to arrive to the party en masse last year. There’s CleanLoop, Cleantechies, the CleanTech Group, CleanTech.org (where scientists and entrepreneurs meet to commercialize new technologies), CleanTech Brief, and even TriplePundit (courtesy of GreenBiz.com).
But what marks clean tech opportunities out from, say, financial services isn’t the growing range of boards. It’s the enthusiasm and urgency with which many people have embraced them as the front line of the defense of our environment.
So it just makes sense that the Environmental Defense Fund would introduce an interactive tool that tells people where the clean tech jobs are or, rather, are likely to be.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Transmission: Clean Energy’s Best Supporting Actor

Nick Hodge | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wind energy transmissionWe all love clean energy. We just don’t all understand it.

Rally cries are easy to come by for new wind and solar projects, but the ralliers aren’t always aware of all that must be done to bring those projects to fruition.

Fields of turbines and acres of panels are playing the lead role for the clean energy industry, stealing attention from an outstanding supporting cast.

Don’t get me wrong, looking at current and forecast capacity growth for solar and wind energy makes me all gooey inside like any other cleantech junkie.

But the attention being paid to the solar and wind sisters is making for a Cinderella story elsewhere in the industry. . .

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Do You Viv? New Program Gives Consumers Power to Green Favorite Businesses

| Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Arul Velan and Dinesh Thirupuvanam, founders of San Francisco start-up Viv, have a bright idea – give businesses a simple way to go green while driving sales and profits. Viv is founded on two principles: 1) Small changes add up and 2) Give consumers the power to do good without going too far out of their way, and they will.
Viv believes that it will take consumers and businesses coming together and working on many solutions at once to turn the tide of global warming. As such, Viv offers a simple, easily adoptable, almost elegant, program to help businesses and consumers embrace environmental sustainability. Essentially, consumers are empowered to vote with their wallets for their favorite businesses to green their practices by consuming as per usual. Customers show their Viv sticker to participating businesses at the time of purchase. Businesses that accept Viv stickers commit to making their own stores more eco-friendly as more Viv purchases are made.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Oil Rigs Are Dead! Long Live the Oil Rigs?!

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

When you think about a luxury eco-lodge, you probably envision a majestic cabin nestled in a pristine forest, or a thatch-roof cabana on a white-sand beach. What you probably don’t envision is an abandoned oil rig that has been recycled into an offshore hotel. But that’s just the idea for which Morris Architects received the Society for American Registered Architects National Design Award of Excellence for its “radical innovation in hospitality.”
Whether this eco-lodge is radical or ridiculous remains to be seen – if and when the concept becomes a reality. But there’s no shortage of raw material for the project: the Gulf of Mexico is home to more than 4,000 oil rigs and they’re consistently running out of oil (right, that’s the problem with oil). Once a rig stops producing profitable quantities of oil, its producer must remove or reincarnate the structure within one year, according to a Department of Interior regulation. Once it’s tapped, producers either demolish and remove the rig, which is very costly and kills off the sea life that thrives on the underwater legs of the rig, or they remove the rig and place it into reuse as an artificial reef. Lots of resident sea life is killed during this removal process, too, but then the structure helps protect other sea life in its new role a reef.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Domestic Bamboo Cultivation: Miracle Cure for US Agricultural Economy?

| Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 9 Comments

bamboo%20in%20a%20tube.jpegBamboo is often held up as this sustainable wonder plant, able to grow quickly, not require pesticides, and absorb a heap of CO2 as it grows – 4 times as much as hardwood trees, while putting out 35% more oxygen.
But there’s a problem: It’s gotten so popular that the stock is getting depleted faster then it can be grown. The U.N. estimates that up to half the 1200 species of bamboo are either endangered or extinct from over harvesting. And it comes almost entirely from China, India, and other far away places, potentially negating or exceeding the carbon reduction it achieved while growing. The US being the world’s biggest importer of bamboo products, that’s a problem.
Then comes the stumbling block: Bamboo doesn’t grow domestically. At least not the kinds that are used in making the flooring, towels, clothing, etc. that so many of us have become fond of. Or so the story goes. If Booshoot Gardens has its way, that story will be changing soon.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »