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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Pulstar’s Pulse Plugs: Increasing fuel economy?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday August 28th, 2008 | 17 Comments

pulstar.gifThe print advertisement for Pulstar pulse plugs claims they are “an alternative to spark plugs that are scientifically proven to improve your car’s fuel economy.” Pulstar’s website states that the pulse plugs represent “the technological advancement in spark plug design in the past 100 years.” Rather big claims for a product that costs $25 a piece ($50 for a pair).
What is so different about Pulstar’s pulse plugs? According to Offroaders.com they use a pulse circuit that stores electrical energy from the ignition and then release that energy in a “powerful pulse of power.” The plugs deliver up to a million watts of peak power instead of the 50 watts that spark plugs deliver.

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The Economics of Conservation: Natural Capital Project Helps Determine the Cash Value of Nature

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Capital Project seeks to determine the economic value of natureEconomics is a force of nature. But just as importantly, nature is a force of economics. At least it should be.

Determining the economic value of nature, in hard numbers, is the mission of Natural Capital Project. Founded in 2006, the Project is a partnership between Stanford-based Woods Institute for the Environment, the Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund.

The concept that a rainforest may be worth more in the long run than a bunch of harvested logs isn’t hard to grasp conceptually, but it becomes a little harder in the day-to-day realities of human endeavor, especially for poor nations struggling to maintain a sagging economy.

“…it’s hard to turn down the cash deal” as Mark Tercek former official at Goldman Sachs and current head of the Nature Conservancy puts it, “It’s hard to put a value on these services”

It may be hard, but that is what the Natural Capital Project sets out to do.

Putting a price tag on nature is the key to saving it (and in the process, us).

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Is IBM Greenwashing the US Open?

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

uso_green_00000g1.gifIBM made a respectable but surprising move when it sold off its PC hardware business in 2004 to focus on higher margin services such as consulting. In July, the information technology company even added corporate social responsibility (CSR) to its consulting services lineup. Yet, for a company that is endeavoring to help its clients understand and respond to their consumers’ concerns about the impacts of their activities on the environment and society, some might argue that IBM still has much to learn itself. In an announcement made this morning, IBM celebrated its energy conserving technology approach for USOpen.org, which will enable fans to get close to the action without putting their laptops aside. With USOpen.org, the event will hop on the bandwagon of highly publicized events that are creating deeper experiences for fans than those possible with their TVs and remote controls, such as those of the NCAA Final Four and the 2008 Olympics, which arguably failed to meet online watchers’ expectations.
The IBM-powered US Open site will offer real time stats, personalized views so you can track your five favorite players, and even a widget for Facebook (and iGoogle and Yahoo! for those of you whose employers block the popular social networking site). But behind all of the company’s claims of energy reduction percentages and cooling demand cuts is a lot of celebration about six servers. That’s right, six servers. Google has about two dozen data centers with hundreds of thousands of servers in each. While the temptation to attempt to stir up some green press for IBM may have been great, it should have been resisted.

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Top 5 Green Marketing Events

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 3 Comments

networking.jpgSo you’re involved in green marketing or in greening up your company¬¥s marketing efforts. Online advice is all at hand. But where to go if you want to meet like minded buddies face to face? Check out this top five green business marketing events.
1) Net Impact. Net Impact is an organization of over 10,000 business experts, aiming to make a positive impact on society through business. The organization´s events calendar offers a wide choice of events ranging from corporate social responsibility, international development, nonprofit management, business ethics, social entrepreneurship, socially responsible investing and environmental sustainability.
2) Idealist.org. This platform connects organizations with people. It’s where you find what’s going on in thousands of environment organizations. Plenty of events and networking opportunities for seasoned professionals. Great for locating opportunities or supporters for everything that leads toward a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives. Sponsored by Google, Monster, Visa, Aladdin, the organization was originally created by Action Without Borders, the New York city non profit.
3) Ethical Junction. UK based organization that brings together ethical businesses and ethical consumers. Pulse, its news forum, is the source of up to date information on events as well as opinions and comment. Organizes regular meetings in locations all over the UK.
4) Eco Tuesday. News sustainable business leaders networking forum. Focuses on network opportunities for sustainable business leaders. EcoTuesday meetings feature innovative speakers who discuss current issues. Held on the last Tuesday of every month and if there’s no Eco Tuesday in your town, you can become an ambassador to set one up.
5) Green Drinks. The group´s organizers say GreenDrinks is an organic, self organizing network of monthly meetings. That´s likely true. Monthly GreenDrinks venues now total over 320 bars around the globe. If there´s no GreenDrinks in your home town just contact the organizers for tips on how you can set one up. Anyone can come, there´s no agenda but plenty of networking potential.
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Find Out What Really Drives Food Prices (It Ain’t Ethanol)

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 6 Comments

Many people believe that high food prices are a result of the biofuel industry’s demand for food crops like corn. This is not the case. Food prices have risen by 4.5% in the US this year, mainly due to one reason; the high oil price. Global food prices have risen over 40% and again the main reason is the high oil price. Ethanol has got preciously little to do with this.
For myth-busting information about how food, ethanol and oil interrelate, you should check out an organization called FoodPriceTruth.org. Originally created to inform the American public about a smear campaign against ethanol by the food industry, the organization has publishes an interesting collection of facts and figures giving you a quick overview of the major issues in an instant.

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The Ethanol Quandary And Why Governments Ignore It

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 0 Comments

ethanol.jpgMost of the biofuels on sale in Britain do not conform to environmental standards according to a study by the Renewable Fuels Agency which has shocked experts. The agency found that only 19% of all biofuel on sale in Britain actually is environmentally friendly. The remainder fails to meet quality standards drawn up by the UK government.
In America, such reports are published almost weekly. Everybody knows that some biofuels are of dubious quality. The worst types are the biodiesel blenders (B20 biodiesels). These apparently contain anywhere between 10 to 74% of actual biodiesel content.

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Civic Honda

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 4 Comments

honda-logo-over.gif It’s as simple as the name of the company’s diminutive, inexpensive yet iconic product, the Civic. Honda Motor Company has built a world-beating business rooted in a straightforward social commitment. As Tetsuo Iwamura, president of Honda North America puts it, “. . . We want to make Honda the company that society wants to exist.”
As the Big Three U.S. automakers and even its arch-rival Toyota stumble in the face of dwindling demand for SUVs and trucks due to rising oil prices, Honda’s performance has held steady, with sales up 3 percent so far in 2008 while the market as a whole has fallen 11 percent. Honda has consistently resisted the rush to build bigger, heavier cars and trucks, even during the giddy 1990s, when SUVs became all the rage.
The reason? Honda’s always seen its advantage as fuel efficiency and environmental performance, with the motto, “Blue skies for our children,” dating back to the 1970s. Any approach that veers away from this credo is avoided.
For the past 15 years, Honda has had the highest corporate average fuel economy, and counting.
The best engines, the best fuel-efficiency, the best design, all at competitive prices, for nearly half a century. That’s a company society not only wants, it needs.

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Simplifying Solar Shopping – RoofRay

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 5 Comments

roofray-logo243.jpgHave you looked at your energy bill lately? Felt the pain at the pump? Has solar been on your mind as a way to decrease and stabilize your business or home energy cost? You’re not alone.
However, translating desire for renewable into action has for the most part been a fairly technical endeavor, fraught with labyrinthine data that only an engineer could hope to make sense of. Doing your own comparison shopping, seeing for yourself what potential your location has for generating power, and how much that will offset or replace your current utility needs has meant calling your local companies, having them come out to do an estimate or create a computer model, and then tell you what it all means.
What if you want to find out for yourself? Make your own, more informed decisions before talking with a company? Good luck.

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To Fly or not to Fly? The “Greening” of the Airlines

3p Contributor | Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 0 Comments

boeingjet.jpgDespite this summer’s soft demand for air travel and record-breaking gas prices in the U.S., the aviation industry projects a doubling in revenue over the next ten years. But many wonder just how the industry will mitigate its ever-expanding carbon budget?
Nearly 1.6 billion travelers are expected by 2020 (up from 2007′s 903 million) as new travelers from emerging economies take to the skies for holiday and business travel. While this is great news for the $6 trillion travel sector, it is also of great concern for those who care about what spews out the back of thousands upon thousands of daily airborne 747s in the stratosphere transporting travelers.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, aviation generates about 3 percent of CO2 emissions. Climate experts calculate that adding the greenhouse effects of nitrous oxide (NO2) emissions from planes, and the water vapor they emit at or near the stratospheric levels where planes fly, triples this to about 9 percent.

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Dell Receives EPEAT Gold on New Hybrid Line

| Wednesday August 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

dell-logo.pngIn its race for the green tech gold medal (sorry, I’m not supposed to use Olympics references anymore), Dell has just received the EPEAT Gold standard for its new Studio Hybrid line. The Hybrid is the first consumer level desktop to meet the gold standard. The computers are 80% smaller than standard desktops, ENERGY STAR compliant, use 75% less printed documentation, and use packaging comprised of 95% recycled material.
EPEAT makes it easy for people to measure the “greenness” of various electronics. You might think of it as LEED for electronics. Products are rated by number of satisfied required and optional criteria. Categories include packaging, reduction of environmentally sensitive materials, energy efficiency, and labeling of plastics for recycling. Just about every major manufacturer has their computers rated and a complete list is available on the EPEAT site. The gold standard is the most rigorous rating and Dell, as they are quick to point out, has more EPEAT Gold computers than any other.
It’s obvious that Dell is serious about environmental protection, though their claims of carbon neutrality are somewhat sticky. They were the first to introduce an 80 PLUS Gold power supply. Their headquarters are powered entirely with renewable energy. Plus, they offer free recycling for any Dell product in the US, Europe, China, and many, many other parts of the world.
Although they might need to work on packaging…

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