Summer Project: Funding a Solar Project at a School

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Nationwide, K-12 schools spend over $6 billion per year on energythat’s more than textbooks and computers combined. While government-sponsored solar incentives hope to reduce that bill (and provide a fun educational opportunity for students), not all incentives are created equally.
When I asked Richard Raeke, Director of Project Finance at Borrego Solar Systems, to share his secret solar financing formula, he admitted his work is not easy: “I have a 17-page financial model to analyze the viability of any solar project.” He quipped he could work full-time just following all of the government incentive programs.
How can an average school district possibly keep up with changing trends? We offer a glimpse at incentive programs in two states and a few resources to get you started…

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Why Yahoo Won’t Buy Carbon Offsets Anymore

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Data-Rack 001During a press conference last week, Yahoo’s co-founder David Filo announced plans to build energy efficient data centers in New York. Standing by his side was New York Governor David Patterson and Senator Chuck Schumer. Filo also announced Yahoo would not be investing in carbon offsets anymore. According to a blog post by Filo, data centers represent the majority of Yahoo’s energy consumption.
Yahoo’s New York data centers will receive 90 percent of its power from hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. The data center it plans to build “will have an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 or better,” according to Filo. Yahoo plans to use only outside air to cool the servers.

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HOK Tops Annual Ranking as “Greenest Design Firm”

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

We first highlighted the global architectural and design firm HOK with our post last December covering the opening late last year of the new “sustainable” Indianapolis airport (pictured above), for which HOK was principal designer.

Earlier this year we talked with Mary Ann Lazarus, HOK’s Sustainable Design Director, about the growing buzz over building efficiency and the course of sustainable design in a struggling economy.

In its latest issue published just today, Engineering News-Record magazine released a survey ranking HOK, for the second consecutive year, as the greenest design firm in the world.

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TED Talks: Ray Anderson on the Business Logic of Sustainability

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The founder of Interface, Ray Anderson has become an innovative ground-breaker of sustainable business thought. Below is a great talk Anderson gave for TED back in February:

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Green Flushes? Which brands are doing it right?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

toilet-paper-roll.jpgBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
A Delicate Undertaking

I picked up a copy of Time Magazine while visiting my parents and noticed A Delicate Undertaking, an article in their Going Green section comparing different brands of toilet paper with recycled content.

I have been using Seventh Generation 100% recycled toilet paper for years and just don’t get all the hype that “recycled material simply can’t match the comfort U.S. consumers have come to expect.”

My derriere has never felt deprived from its lack of virgin fibers. But I am obviously in the minority.

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Walden University: A Degree in Doing Good?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Over the weekend, I caught a commercial for Walden University, one of the many online education institutions that’s popped over the past decade. But unlike the other universities that boast the benefits attending classes online and accelerated degree programs, Walden focuses on cultivating the social change leaders of tomorrow.
Their new positioning, “A higher degree. A higher purpose.” is designed to attract those who want to make a difference in the world, and the 60-second spot focuses on the traits of those whom embody this mindset and the changes students can make using their Walden degree.

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Traitor Joe–Will He Get Trader Joe’s to Change Direction?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
A new report by GreenPeace, Carting Away the Oceans, scores major supermarkets sustainable seafood sales and sourcing policies.
While some companies were rewarded for their progress since the last report, others including Trader Joe’s, are called out for their lack of progress.
Trader Joe’s is now the target of a major Greenpeace campaign in part because they remain the largest U.S. grocer operating on a nation-wide scale that refuses to substantively respond to Greenpeace inquiries regarding its seafood sustainability policies and practices.

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Taking the Miner Out Of Coal Mining

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Proponents of the mountain top removal (MTR) method of coal mining argue that it is more cost efficient. In 1998, Arch Coal Inc. defended MTR in advertisements, calling it “good for West Virginia, and it’s the right thing to do.” However, opponents of MTR call it destructive.
MTR is a type of coal mining in the Southeast Appalachian Region that uses explosives to blast 800 to 1,000 feet off mountain tops. MTR can strip up to ten square miles, and then dump hundreds of millions of pounds of waste into valley fills. MTR results in tons of rock, dirt, and vegetation being dumped into the surrounding valleys. It also damages aquatic systems, destroys ancient forests, harms water quality, and releases greenhouse gases.

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How Might the National Debt Be Related to Sustainability?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Basak Altan

Financial, social as well as ecological sustainability are important macro economic goals. We have believed up until this point that as long as our GDP grows, our financial, social and sustainability problems will also be solved. Hopefully the world is eventually coming to a realization that this is really not the case. This continuous and endless growth is also contributing to the world’s growing sustainability problems.

The US’s national debt is composed of two main facets: First, debt accumulates as the US government spends more than it produces. Second, the US external debt is also identified as what the American people owe to other nations. While the US government’s debt rises as the government runs a deficit, it also falls when it runs a surplus.

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Can Fireworks Be More Eco-Friendly?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Saturday July 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Eco-friendly-fireworksFireworks on the 4th of July are as all-American as baseball and apple pie. However, conventional fireworks are not friendly to the environment or our health. The burning of the metal salts in fireworks releases ultraviolet light which increases ozone pollution, according to a study by the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. The study monitored ozone levels during an annual festival in Delhi. During the festival ozone ozone pollution increased and did not decrease until 2:30 am the next morning.
One of the main ingredients in fireworks is a perchlorate salt, and combined with the heavy metals that create the color, a toxic compound is formed. According to Dr. David Chavez, a chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “They can get aerosolized and breathed in, or they go into the soil and water.”

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Recycling… As American as Apple Pie?

| Saturday July 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

red-white-green.jpgBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
Is Recycling Patriotic?

Recycle Bank
, a new rewards program that contracts directly with cities to develop an incentive program that actually pays consumers to recycle, is promoting recycling, saying it is “American as Apple Pie.”
They argue that recycling is patriotic and shows “our love for our country.” Nationally, we currently only recycle 30% of our waste. When the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates up to 75% of our waste can be recycled, obviously recycling is not yet part of the American ethos.

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Pedaling Sustainability in Africa: Bamboosero and Zambikes

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday July 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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bambooteamc.jpgIt’s sometimes painful to watch the big automakers scrambling to right their collective ship, coming out with prototype vehicles like GM and Segway’s lovechild, the P.U.M.A. (granted, my colleague Steve Puma – no relation – noted that it is a step in the right direction). But on the flip side, it’s a joy to hear about cool startups like Zambikes and Bamboosero.
Vaughn Spethmann founded Zambikes in an effort to develop both employment opportunities and appropriate transportation for Zambians. Not only did he and his Zambian bike-builders create standard steeds, they also created innovative designs including the “Zambulance,” designed to carry sick people to hospitals in places where other means of transportation aren’t adequate or always available.
As described in this BBC piece, the companies are working with enterprising Africans to produce bikes – including mountain and cargo bikes with a bamboo frame – in Zambia and Ghana. They are sold in Africa and the US.

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SOCAP09: Obama’s Office of Social Innovation to Deliver Key Note

| Friday July 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Early Registration (and 40% Discount) Ends July 8th
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This year’s SOCAP09 conference will offer three days (September 1-3) of rich content, over 100 speakers, and a special “unconference” day. In its second year, the Social Capital Markets conference brings together the broad ecosystem of capital (funds, foundations and individual investors) with for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs using business to make a positive difference. And if you register before July 8th, you’ll receive a 40% discount from the full conference price. Use the code WEB40 to receive your special discount.

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LED Lighting, Smart Grid Tech Take Root in California

| Friday July 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments


With some $4.5 billion in Federal grants spurring project development and investment, LED streetlights and smart grid technology are being combined and systems rolled out in a growing number of California cities.
Creator of the LonWorks open platform standard for smart grid and building/facilities energy management systems and products, San Jose-based Echelon Corp. is at the forefront of this wave of infrastructural change. The emerging market leader is involved in smart grid LED street lighting projects in Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Jose, as well as others in the US and abroad.

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PureSense: Irrigation Technology to Live Through Drought

| Friday July 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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I grew up in Southern California during the beginning of the worst multi-year drought in California’s history. We sang “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” at summer camp. My mother timed my showers and started screaming at the four-minute mark. We cringed at the sight of our azure swimming pool. We thought it couldn’t get any worse.

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