Kraft Foods Offers Money To Customers Depositing Foodwraps At Recycling Centers

| Thursday July 31st, 2008 | 4 Comments

terra.gifA brilliant idea does not necessarily have to be a successful one. In the recycling world this logic is as cut throat as competition is on the high streets; a lot of brilliant ideas and materials still go to waste when they’re not backed by the same people who actually gave birth of the landfill problem in the first place.
Kraft Foods, the food company, appears to have understood this problem and has become serious about tackling recycling by taking a refreshingly new approach; finding a niche in the recycling world. Focusing on upcycling, Kraft Foods is going to recycle its own packaging and materials that are known as hard to recycle. Kraft signed an agreement with TerraCycle.net, an upcycling specialist, which creates high quality but affordable items such as umbrellas, backpacks and purses from Kraft’s packages.

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SF Cracks the Nut: Free Solar Within Reach!

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

solar-roof.jpgSomebody better call Google and tell them their RE<C project may be already happening, albeit not the way they expected: a new rebate for renewable energy in San Francisco has now made the idea of clean energy cheaper that coal a reality, by making solar power essentially free.
Earlier this summer, the City Board of Supervisors passed a rebate that grants up to $6,000 on top of other incentives. They also inadvertently cracked one of the toughest nuts to growing the urban solar market: giving landlords and tenants a reason to work together to install PV. The kicker? By stacking all the incentives the right way, the net cost to the landlord is zero. That’s right – free solar power.
As first reported in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the new $3 million a year program offers an escalating incentive depending on the location of the electrical meter, and who does the installation. And it also gives tenants and landlords – often at loggerheads in this rent-controlled city–a strong motivation for working together.

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San Francisco to Vote on Clean Energy City Charter on November Ballot: Why is “Green” Mayor Gavin Newsom Opposed?

Thomas Schueneman | Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 3 Comments

City of San Francisco can lead the way in public renewable energyThe City Board of Supervisors voted 7–4 last week to put the San Francisco Clean Energy Act on the ballot this November.

The measure, authored by Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Aaron Peskin, requires 51% of the City’s electricity consumption to come from renewable sources by 2017, rising to 75% by 2030, and finally to 100% – “or the greatest amount technologically feasible or practicable” – by 2040.

The Clean Energy Act further mandates an initial feasibility study be done to determine the best way to generate this green, clean, renewable energy to meet those goals.

The study could weaken utility Pacific Gas & Electric’s hold on the market, and PG&E is already engaged in an active campaign to defeat the measure. As Supervisor Mirkarimi puts it, the PG&E's campaign to defeat San Francisco renewable energy charterfeasibility study is important, “Otherwise PG&E has a monopoly until the planet dies”.

We don’t usually get much lightning here in San Francisco, but the measure proposed by the Supervisors has shaped up to be a lightning rod, and the source of the lightning sparking it comes from, not surprisingly, Pacific Gas & Electric and, surprising indeed to many (though not all), mayor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom told reporters that “We have other things we should be focusing on” adding that we should “…call it what it is. It’s a power takeover of PG&E.”

Really?

Gavin is never slow to remind us of his forward-looking vision for the City (sometimes, for this writer, his self-congratulatory tone goes on ad nauseum); I guess as long as you don’t screw around with PG&E’s monopoly, that is.

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Memo To: New pedestrians, In re: Your skills

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Hi there! And welcome aboard. I haven’t seen you much on the train/bus/bike lane before – you must be one of the new people. I hope that’s not offensive. I mean, there are a lot of you, um, “refugees,” if you will, and it’s quite a change for all of us. While there are bound to be some hiccups along the way, I want you to know that I, for one, will endeavor to make your transition to your new life as a pedestrian as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
The first thing to remember about your new life is that you are likely very attached to your old way of living – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – but, because of this attachment, you are also likely to experience some culture shock; this is a natural part of the adaptation process. For starters, pedestrians are quite different culturally from car people. Like, you can actually bump into us on the street! Quite a bit different than running into or over us, I’m sure.
You will also come to notice that we have certain social norms, habits and customs that are quite distinct from your native land of freeways, traffic jams, road rage and parking lots. We probably seem like a curious tribe, what with our backpacks, books, bike helmets, ankle straps, monthly transit passes and sidewalk maneuvering techniques.
But with a little effort and a lot of patience, you too can fully assimilate into pedestrian culture. In time, I think you’ll find it’s a superior lifestyle. So in an effort to help speed and smooth the transition for you, I’ve drafted the following pointers and tips, designed to help you gain some basic skills; for those of you who are former pedestrians who “fell off the wagon,” so to speak, consider this a refresher course in “Pedestrian Skills 101.”

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Algae Based Biofuels in Plain English: Why it Matters, How it Works.

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 17 Comments

algae%20based%20biofuel.jpgAlgae based biofuels. You’ve probably heard the term tossed around, and have maybe even said it in a sentence or two yourself. But have you ever really understood what it means, what the implications are, and on a basic level, how it works and if it has even the slightest chance to be a viable large scale player in supplying for our fuel needs? For many of you, I’m imagining the answer is no. Even I, a green business consultant, was quite fuzzy about it all. Until today.
Today I came across a video put out by the folks at Valcent, which makes absolutely clear, and absolutely exciting, the what, how, and how much of algae based biofuels, and in particular how their method, via High Density Vertical Bioreactors, they will do it much better. Say what?
In plain English, with their Vertigro system, they change the plane of producing algael biofuels from horizontal to vertical, keeping the liquid medium it’s growing in constantly moving. And this matters why?

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Spain to Put 1 million Electric Cars on the Road

| Wednesday July 30th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Pluginelecvehicle.jpg Spain intends aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2014 as part of the Zapatero government’s plan to save energy and boost energy efficiency, minister of industry, business and tourism Miguel Sebastian said Tuesday.
The Plan, which Spain’s Council of Ministers are expected to approve August 1, will be enacted this year and carry on through 2011. Spain will save between 5.8 and 6.4 million tons of oil over the three-year period as a result, according to industry ministry estimates.
“The electric vehicle is the future and the engine of an industrial revolution,” Sebastian told members of the national industry commission. Higher oil prices and growing use and intensity of fossil fuel cost Spain some 17 billion euros last year, according to the minister.
Consisting of 31 measures and at an estimated cost of around 245 million euros, legislators are also looking to provide incentives that will increase use of public transportation, promote substitution of incandescent light bulbs with lower consumption bulbs, and provide mobile phone coverage in subways. Also among the measures being considered are reducing fuel exports 11% and reducing speed limits in cities, according to a Reuters news report.

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The Big Business of Compost

| Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 3 Comments

compost.jpgIf the word “compost” conjures up images of decaying food, bugs and the smell of rotting vegetables, keep reading. I used to be the same way, but I have come to embrace my green bin because not only is compost cool, it’s big business.

A couple weeks ago I got the chance to visit the Jepson Prairie Organics facility in Vacaville, CA. Jepson is a wholly owned subsidiary of Norcal Waste Systems, the company that contracts with the city of San Francisco and many other Bay Area communities to manage waste, recycling and compost pick-up programs. The facility processes all the food and green waste collected in San Francisco’s green bins. On the day I visited the processing facility, it was over 100 degrees and the air smelled faintly of peat.

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10 Words or Less: Why Do You Think We Should End Oil Dependence?

Shannon Arvizu | Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 3 Comments

pbpresized.jpg Project Better Place is offering you a chance to make your own minifesto that explains why we should kick the oil habit. The enterprising electric vehicle company has already invited several influential people in the field to post their own version, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check them out and add yours here.
The minifesto is part of a “creative challenge to inspire people to dig down and discover their core motivation for changing the direction of energy use on this planet,” writes Guryan Tighe of Better Place.
Green technology needs as many catch phrases and tag-lines as any other type of product, if not more. Such invitations to the public to contribute their own minifesto help to collectively build frames around green technology and generate greater resonance in the popular imagination.
So…what are your 10 words?

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Greenwashing – An Advertising Professional’s Insights

| Tuesday July 29th, 2008 | 6 Comments

greess.jpgA recent commentary in Adweek on “Green Advertising” warns that if new regulations are implemented by the Federal Trade Commission on “Environmental Advertising” it would negatively affect innovation in the advertising industry.
The author of the story, Ronald Urbach, writes that the FTC’sdecision to update its standard rules on ‘green’ marketing one year ahead of schedule are welcomed by professionals in the advertising industry so long as they don’t cut back on the sector’s competitiveness.
Urbach, who is the co-chair of the advertising, marketing and promotions department of law firm Davis & Gilbert, went on to mention ‘product packaging’ claims specifically. He uggested that new regulation in that sector (which happens to be among the easiest for companies to address) would hurt companies’ ability to communicate with consumers about packaging innovation, and might even stifle innovation itself.

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ClimatePULSE: Green Beijing?

| Monday July 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgThis week we’ll take a quick look at one of the summer’s biggest events – the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Now less than two weeks away, the Olympics will bring approximately 10,500 athletes from over 200 nations to Beijing to compete in over 300 events (which take place at over 30 different venues). While the focus of the Games is, and should be, the athletic competition, it is interesting to consider the effects of such an event in terms of its impact on climate change.
The issue of climate change as it relates to the Olympic Games has been largely overshadowed by Beijing’s poor air quality. Understandably, Olympic organizers have had their hands full in an attempt to decrease local pollution and improve local air quality over the short-term, leaving little resources for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is unfortunate given the scale of GHG emissions associated with the Olympics.

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Closing the Efficiency Loop: Agilewaves and Crestron Partnership Integrates Resource Feedback and Control

Thomas Schueneman | Monday July 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Agilewaves partners with Crestron Control Systems

Triple Pundit first looked at the Agilewaves Resource Monitor last month in my post Knowledge is Power – Conservation Through Information.

 To recap, the Resource Monitor works on the concept that efficiency is, as Agilewaves VP Collin Breakstone puts it, a resource. One that is available to us in abundance, right Crestron automation partners with Agilewaves Resource Monitorhere, right now, not merely a “sign of personal virtue” providing no basis for energy policy (we see the results of Mr. Cheney’s abysmal ideas on energy policy all around us). In our current energy economy, efficiency is as much a resource as a gallon of water, a barrel of oil, or a kilowatt of electricity.

The key to accessing the full potential of this resource is information. Research consistently shows that information feedback alone accounts for a nominal 10 to 15% reduction in energy consumption through behavioral change.

Resource monitor tracks all resource consumptionThe Resource Monitor provides that essential feedback link by providing real time information of residential or commercial building resource consumption. Users are able to set threshold limits in terms of dollars, gallons, kilowatts, or even carbon. The user monitors consumption using a touchscreen interface, secure web page, or phone. Once any thresholds are reached the Resource Monitor notifies the user via an email or text message alert. Based on the real time information and threshold alerts from the Resource Monitor users are able to identify modifications necessary to reduce resource consumption.

But how to take that 10 or 15% (or more) from feedback alone and drive it further? How to make even better use of that resource efficiency?

Agilewaves and Crestron are today announcing the answer to that question.

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Capturing All That Wasted Heat

| Sunday July 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

cooling%20tower.jpg Tremendous amounts of energy are being wasted everyday in the US. Thermal power electric utilities typically vent 2/3 of potential energy capture into the atmosphere via cooling towers while gasoline engines have an efficiency of only 15%. What’s worse is that the regulatory rate structures that govern how much utilities can charge discourages utilities from attempting to capture and use it, as does, of all things, the Clean Air Act.
So points out Thomas Blakeslee, founder of the (http://www.clrlight.org) Clearlight Foundation, in an excellent article published this past week in Renewable Energy World, who advocates adopting a holistic, “industrial ecology” approach to energy resource management, and aggressively minded programs to encourage use of combined heat & power (CHP), co-generation, waste heat generation systems and solar thermal collectors in industry, buildings and homes to remedy the situation.

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Chinese Take 50% Of All Cars Off Beijing Roads To Improve Air Quality For Olympics

| Saturday July 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments

chinese.jpgScientists will study this for years to come; China has ordered 50% of all cars off the roads off Beijing to make sure air quality is okay for the upcoming Olympics. The measures might be perhaps the world’s most measurable traffic pollution reduction effort ever. What’s more, they’ve launched an airquality forecast tool online.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint? Why Not Eat Less!

| Saturday July 26th, 2008 | 2 Comments

foodproc.jpgBelieve it or not but academic research published in the highly reputable Springer journal Human Ecology suggests Americans eat less to combat global warming.
The researchers have a straightforward but compelling case; around 19 percent of all energy used in the US is taken up for the production/supply of food. Around half of this energy expenditure could be eliminated and one way to achieve this is by cutting down on food. This is not too big a sacrifice to make, the researchers say; Americans on average consume 3,747 colories a day; that’s a staggering 1,200-1,500 calories over recommended levels anyway.
The scientists’ outrageous suggestion that their fellow Americans eat less is the first and foremost recommendation of the peer reviewed study, which was published in last week in the journal.
Another recommendation they made is that a return to traditional farming also is of vital importance if US consumers are serious about changing their consumption patterns in order to reduce their carbon footprint. David Pimentel, who headed up the Cornell research team, said that this is necessary because the energy which is used in the food industry is 50% derived from fossil energy fuel use.

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The Gato del Sol III: 2400 Miles on Determination and Sunlight

Thomas Schueneman | Friday July 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The University of Kentucky goes 2400 miles in the Gato del Sol III - powered only by the sunA team of engineering students from the University of Kentucky, assisted by engineers and technicians from UPS, recently completed the 2008 North American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build, and race solar-powered cars cross-country.

The race started on July 13th, in Plano, Texas and ran 2400 miles to the finish line on July 22nd in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The team’s entry, Gato del Sol III, didn’t finish in “first” place, but with a determined team along with key support and consultation from UPS, finishing is an achievement in itself. This is the kind of race where winning is simply running the course.

In fact, the team had yet to even start a race, let alone finish (hence the “III”), as each team is required to put its entry through a grueling qualifying and technical inspection before being allowed to enter the race. 

Just making the 2400 miles “without anything breaking” is the real victory, according to Matt Hatfield, the team’s project director.

And make it they did.

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