Steam Heat & Power: Journey to the Center of the Earth

| Thursday September 4th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Geothermal energy is attracting a lot of long overdue attention recently. Gathering in Reykjavik last week officials from Australia, Iceland and the U.S. signed a charter to establish the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology, reported Greenbiz.com.
A signal of “the commitment of the three countries to aggressively foster and promote cutting edge geothermal technologies to promote energy security and address global climate change,” according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy media release, the announcement comes hard on the heels of Google announcing that it will invest $10 million in enhanced geothermal systems as part of its “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” program.

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What Does a Sustainable Can of Beans Look Like?

| Thursday September 4th, 2008 | 1 Comment

greenbeans.JPG Two years ago Truitt Brothers decided to figure that out, and added two products, green beans and pears,sourced and prepared sustainably, to their more traditionally packaged goods which they had been producing for over 30 years. While the sustainability-focused line is still less than 5% of their whole business it has quadrupled in growth in those two years, and that growth is projected to continue. In fact, they have already doubled their offerings by adding kidney and garbanzo beans.
Speaking on a panel at Slow Food Nation on Friday, Peter Truitt declared the canned green beans’ time arrived. He acknowledged most people, himself included, would choose fresh produce over processed when available. However, in most of the US you cannot purchase local and fresh produce consistently year around. At those times Truitt believes canned produce can be a very sustainable second choice.

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First Fuel Cell Powered Commercial Passenger Boat Inaugurated in Germany

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

The first hydrogen fuel cell powered passenger ship sits ready for trials - Photo courtesy of FuelCellWorks.comThe world’s first passenger boat powered with fuel cells made its maiden voyage in Hamburg, Germany last Friday.

The hybrid fuel cell drive for the passenger ferry FCS Alsterwasser was produced by Proton Motor based in Puchheim, Germany.

Until now fuel cell motors of this capacity for marine applications have only been used for military uses in submarines, though Proton Motor is also exploring similar technology for use in small trucks, buses and forklifts.

Dubbed the “ZemShip” (zero emission ship), the Alsterwasser, will undergo test runs until November, when it will begin carrying up to 100 passengers on tourist cruises.

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ClimatePULSE: Fertilizing Climate Change One Farm at a Time

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

crop-dusting.jpgFertilizer use and climate change. Unfortunately, choice words you rarely hear used in the same sentence. With so much focus given to emissions from transportation and industry, lesser known, but equally important factors like fertilizer use are often overlooked. To place things in perspective, the overuse of fertilizers releases an estimated 2 billion tonnes of nitrous oxide (a GHG estimated to be 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere annually. What is also alarming is that agricultural activities in general contribute to 17 to 32 per cent of global GHG emissions. And with the majority of these agricultural activities requiring fertilizers in one form or another, it’s clear their use must be examined closely.

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Want to Rent Green? Good Luck. Unless…

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

GreenRenter%20logo.jpg
It seems these days that green building is everywhere you look. It’s hard to not find a media outlet throwing in a story with a green building angle. Hurrah for those who want to build or remodel green, you’ve got plenty of resources now. But what if you’re not yet at the “Honey, which rainwater catchment system do you like? The red, or the orange?” stage? What if you just want to rent, and you want it green (or greener)? Not so easy to find.
Yes, with a lot of sweat, you can piece together listings that have what you seek, likely from many different resources, with minimal details beyond a greenwashy headline. GreenRenter.com is seeking to address this issue.
The Portland based site has launched a service that makes it simple for both those seeking and those offering properties that have green qualities to find one another. And in a generous opening of the field, they allow listings on there that have at least one of seven criteria being addressed. Come again, one in seven, isn’t that setting the bar awfully low? Their answer is interesting:

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eBay Launches Socially Responsible Online Marketplace

| Wednesday September 3rd, 2008 | 1 Comment

eBay today unveiled a new ecommerce marketplace called WorldofGood.com by eBay, which offers products that have a positive impact on people and the planet, empowering consumers to align their social values with their shopping. As a result, the new site is both very consumer- as well as idea-centric.
worldofgood.jpg Customers will be able to purchase products made from recycled or free-trade goods, buy organic, and/or support artisan women in developing nations. In addition, all of WorldofGood.com products will also be available on eBay.com, bringing these socially responsible products to eBay’s more than 84 million active users worldwide.
In an interview in July, former Senior Manager of Internet Marketing and current General Manager of WorldofGood.com, Robert Chatwani said, “Our challenge is not so much getting people to spend more. It’s about introducing alternative means of consumption.”

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Beer + Co-op financing = Internet Crowdfunding Party!

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

_41600182_german-beer203.jpgI love innovative financing schemes as much as the next gal. When you add beer to the mix, it kinda puts me over the top. In fact, I almost had my credit card out until I started reading the details.Beer Bankroll has the right idea–they are turning boring old investing into a rockin good time with their community financing model. Unfortunately, Beer Bankroll is not a very good investment because there is no actual opportunity to earn money, but it can still be a fun internet party. Members pay $50 per year to join, and membership enables investors to participate in the most important key business decisions like naming the beer and designing the logo. Luckily it looks like they leave payroll and operations to the professionals. Profits on the sale of the beer are split three ways with a third returned to the company to fund growth, a third donated to charity, and a third returned to members via a point system. I know you’re wondering: unfortunately it doesn’t look like the points can be redeemed for cash or even beer – it’s gift cards and company swag. This has me wondering, because if they are spending an actual third of the profits on the swag for members, why not hand out something more desirable?

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Pay As You Drive Insurance Proposed In California

| Tuesday September 2nd, 2008 | 5 Comments

PAYD.jpg Last week, GreenBiz.com reported on the latest proposal by California State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to implement a Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) program in California.
PAYD insurance plans already exist for costumers in 34 states across the US as well as areas in Canada, Japan, and Europe. And as gas prices remain high and concern for the environment grows, PAYD programs are becoming attractive to many policymakers.

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Appreciate Those Bottom Feeders for More Sustainable Fisheries

| Saturday August 30th, 2008 | 0 Comments

paella.jpgWe don’t eat lions, tigers or bears for protein, so we shouldn’t eat shark, tuna or swordfish either. We need to be eating further down the ocean food chain if we want an ocean food chain from which to eat in the future.
Those are statements from Paul Johnson made on a panel during Changemaker’s Day at Slow Food Nation this weekend in San Francisco, CA. The panelists and audience were interested in how fishers, distributors, and chefs could work together to ensure the viability of the oceans upon which their livelihoods depend.

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Recycled vegetable oil: Key to the Highway?

| Saturday August 30th, 2008 | 6 Comments

vegvolkswagen_2002_bug.jpg There’s much talk, high-level debate and lobbying over sustainability and biofuels these days, despite their miniscule market share and debate concerning what “sustainable” actually means. How all this well-intentioned theorizing, research and debate translates into real progress and positive change on the ground in agricultural communities and among biofuel producers remains to be seen.
While all this goes on, a grassroots “grease car” movement continues to grow in the U.S. and Europe as entrepreneurs and growing numbers of people who own all manner of diesel engine vehicles are installing or having vegetable oil fuel conversion kits installed; this despite discouragement from the automakers, the oil industry and government agencies.
The concept of using recycled vegetable oil as a fuel seems like a winner from the get-go, especially when you consider the difference it might make in rapidly growing urban areas all around the world, but particularly in fast growing cities of Asia, Latin America and Africa. Rather than having to produce an environmentally friendly biofuel from scratch, recycling veggie oil turns a waste product into a valuable resource, plus a ready-made source of raw fuel can be found in just about any market center in cities across the developing world.

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Next Generation Prius Sports Rooftop Solar Panels as an Option

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 4 Comments

Prius to offer solar rooftop panels on next generationThe next generation Toyota Prius, due out for the 2010 model year, will offer the option of rooftop solar panels. Produced by Kyocera, the panels are expected to produce no more than about 1 kilowatt of electricity.

That one kilowatt of electricity would only be enough to help power the ventilation and AC systems, something especially appreciated when getting in a car that’s been sitting in the sun for hours on a hot day. The solar panels would enable use of the interior fan to help keep the car cool when not in use.

Of course, the car would need to be parked in the sun, and if we continue this logic, if it isn’t parked in the sun, keeping it cool wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

Air conditioning systems put quite a load on the engine and reduce efficiency. Nonetheless, the idea of solar panels on a Prius is, as one anonymous Toyota insider put it,

“…more of a symbolic gesture. It’s very difficult to power much more than that [AC] with solar energy”

What surprised me most about this story is the response from the blogoshere.

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The Carbon Negative Quest: Portland Gym Converts Energy Of Pedal Bikes Into Electricity

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 12 Comments

gym.jpgThe world’s finally come full circle for members of a new gym in Portland which is converting the pedal power of its bikes into real energy.
The gym, opening September 1, takes human powered energy from its fitness bikes and stores it in a battery which runs some of its other equipment. The 2,800 square foot gym, called the Green Microgym is owned by Adam Boesel, a former grade teacher. He was interviewed by the Seattle Times and told them its the first human-powered gym in the US.

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Weekly Wrap up of Green Business Online

| Friday August 29th, 2008 | 1 Comment

As part of a new effort to reach out to our friends across the Green Business Blogosphere, this is the first installment of our weekly Friday wrap of interesting things we’ve found this past week on. Follow the links to find out more and join the conversation below this post. We’re all in this together!
gb-mic.gifRed State or Blue, Green Conventions are on the Way
From GreenBiz: Democrats and Republicans alike are claiming their respective political conventions will be greener than anything that’s been seen before. Who’s exaggerating and who’s not?
gb-alagar.gifWorld’s largest car rental fleet maps out green and gooey future
From Business Green: Enterprise Rent-A-Car will invest vast sums of money into vase field of green algae. The hope – that algae based biofuels may some day power their fleet.
gb-alagar.gifHow To Avoid Eco Fatigue – What Ecopreneurs Need To Know
From Ecopreneurist: Seven handy tips for the entrepreneur to keep the focus on green even when the going gets tough.

gb-alagar.gifIndustry Failing to Calculate Complete Carbon Footprints, Researchers Say
From ClimateBiz: Industry isn’t even close to realizing a full measurement of their carbon footprint.

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The NYC Ice Cream Truck That’s Redefining Ice Cream

| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Picture a hot summer afternoon. Neighborhood kids running in slow motion around a New York City block, the corner fire hydrant shooting out an elegant geyser into the air. All of a sudden of “The Entertainer” sounds from a distance, paralyzing every child within earshot with the prospect of the ultimate summer respite – ice cream.
For many of us, ice cream trucks conjure images of a time long gone, a memory of when life was simpler, more innocent. They are these images, I think, Ben Van Leeuwen used when he started his artisanal ice cream business this year. The 24-year former Good Humor Ice Cream truck driver, and recent Skidmore business graduate, wanted to start a business that produced food in a traditional way, where the focus is based on quality rather than efficiency. For him, ice cream was a simple model – one, according to him, that would allow for scalability “without any degradation of quality.”

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The Water Footprint: Obey Your Thirst

| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 0 Comments

water-footprint.jpgWe’ve all heard of the carbon footprint, and many of us have heard of the ecological footprint, but the water footprint is less well known. Just as it sounds, the water footprint is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by an individual, business or nation. You can measure the water footprint associated with making of a particular product, or we can measure the water footprint of the average citizen in the U.S. Conceptually it’s simple, but measuring is quite difficult…and the results are staggering.
It’s sort of shameful to say, but it comes as no surprise to me that we in the U.S. have the highest per capita water footprint on the planet. Each of us uses roughly 2480 cubic meters of water each year…it’s a little hard to picture, but suffice it to say that our footprint is roughly twice (2X) the average global citizen’s water footprint. In the wake of the Olympics, somehow it seems that we deserve the opposite of a gold medal for this distinction.

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