Calling All Socially Responsible Designers

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday August 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Designers enrich our lives in a myriad of ways. From furniture to coffee mugs, a designer is part of the production team. The pervasiveness of design gives designers an important role and an opportunity to use design to call attention to important social issues.
Socially responsible design addresses social, environmental, economic, and political issues through the use of design, according to the website Sociallyresponsibledesign.com. The design and merchandise company Felissimo believes in socially responsible design so they partnered with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to create the Design 21 Award. Design 21 then became a biannual competition, and in 2006 an online community.

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Non Food Biofuel Crops Are Highly Risky According To The United Nations

| Sunday August 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Food crops for the use of biofuels are massively controversial but the so-called second generation biofuel crops have massive side effects as well. These more recent crops are non food, but experts are warning that many of them are ‚Äòinvasive species’. In other words, they’re weeds which have huge potential to escape the biofuel farms where they’re grown and overrun natural land and other areas.
The problem has the attention of UN scientists. At a recent meeting in Bonn, Germany, specialists from the Global Invasive Species Program, as well as scientists from the Nature Conservancy and the International Union for Conservation of Nature published a scientific paper about invasive species warning about their effects.

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Texas Company Patents Biomass Biofuel Technology

| Saturday August 23rd, 2008 | 3 Comments

ByogyRenewablesIncLOGO.gifByogy Renewables Inc., a Texas company, has licensed the production of what it says is the Holy Grail of biofuel and will open a plant in the near future to create 95-octane gasoline from biomass.
The company expects the biomass gasoline market to be 2.5 billion by 2022. The first such gasoline will be available by 2010, Byogy says. The company worked with academics from Texas A&M University System and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) to create the technology. Its plant will have raw garbage going in one end and 95-octane gasoline coming out the other.
“The advanced process is possibly the only integrated system that converts biomass directly to gasoline”, according to Byogy. “Most other emerging processes convert the biomass into alcohol and then blend it with gasoline. The system is relatively inexpensive and focuses on using biomass waste streams and non-food energy crops rather than food products such as corn”, the company said.

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Pacific Organizations Urge Australia And New Zealand To Attune Immigration Policies To Global Warming Related Causes

| Saturday August 23rd, 2008 | 0 Comments

The Australian and New Zealand governments have been inundated with requests from over 100 organizations urging it to relax its immigration policies so that people from small islands in the Pacific that are under threat from global warming stand a better chance to emigrate.
The organizations, which are from across the Pacific Islands region wrote an open letter addressed to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark requesting them to increase permanent immigration numbers. They also called for more extensive resettlement services.

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Manitoba Hydro Targets Industrial Customers To Convert To Biomass Fueled Power

| Saturday August 23rd, 2008 | 2 Comments

Manitoba Hydro, the Canadian gas and electricity company, has started a large scale project to get its customers to use biomass to fuel both heat and power systems. The company targets 250 of its agricultural and industrial customers with the Bioenergy Optimization Program. All of these customers have access to readily available, low cost sources of biomass and the capability to operate biomass to energy conversion systems.
The program provides incentives for participants to undertake feasibility studies and for the capital cost of the required equipment, up to a maximum of $1.250.000.
manitoba.gifTechnologies employed to produce useful energy from biomass include direct combustion – such as burning waste wood in a boiler to produce steam for powering a generator/heat exchanger at a forestry mill – and anaerobic digestion, which converts manure in a digester to produce biogas (methane) for fueling an internal combustion engine driven generator/heat exchanger. Mostly used in hog farming, anaerobic digestion can replace natural gas and other non-renewable heating fuels to power space and water heating or other industrial processes.
Manitoba Hydro expects to achieve annual load reduction savings of up to 10 megawatts and 78 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 3.8 million cubic metres of natural gas, and 65,580 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2017/18.

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Boom & Bust, Boon or Bane: Shale Gas Fever Spreads

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

midas-shale_playmap_tn.jpg Huge amounts of relatively clean burning natural gas lie underground across extensive stretches of the U.S., trapped in shale deposits. Raising large amounts of capital and bearing the expense and risk of developing new drilling and production technology, pioneering oil and gas companies are now reaping the rewards, as was seen in Part One of this two part series.
Record high prices have added fuel to an initial shale gas boom that began with Barnett Shale gas production around Forth Worth, Texas. Exploration and production has spread across neighboring Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma and up into western Pennsylvania and New York. It’s also made the jump across the border into Quebec, where Forest Oil’s April announcement that it had discovered what it believes is a commercially viable deposit in the St. Lawrence Valley sent share prices of companies with leases in the area soaring.
As shale gas fever spreads and drilling and production increases, the environmental costs are becoming increasingly apparent, however. Reports of contaminated water supplies, sinking water tables, explosions and drilling accidents are on the rise, even as shale gas drilling spreads into densely populated urban areas, prompting calls for greater oversight, regulation and rules to protect neighborhoods and the environment.

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Weekly Wrap-Up of Business, Environment, and Bottom Line News from GreenBiz.com

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

green-biz.gifAs part of a new effort to reach out to our friends over at GreenBiz.com, this is the first installment of our weekly Friday wrap of interesting things we’ve found this past week on GreenBiz. Follow the links to find out more and join the conversation below this post. We’re all in this together!
gb1.jpgSoCal Edison, PG&E Make Big Alternative Energy Commitments
And we mean big. SoCal Edison and PG&E, the two largest public utilities in California, annuonced comittments to develop nearly two gigawatts of wind and solar energy.
gb2.jpgPECO Launches Drive to Be More Environmentally Friendly
Hey, it isn’t just happening in California. The Philadelphia-based electric and natural gas utility has announced a five-year, $15.3 million plan to implement more envirornmental friendly pratices at their facilities, including efficiency measures, wind energy purchases, and seeking LEED certification for several of the utilities existing buildings.
gb3.jpgNeenah Paper to Power Largest Mill With Waste
One man’s waste is another man’s source of power. The Alpharetta, Georgia maker of premium and speciatly papers is contracting with Vision Power to build a biomass system to power its largest paper mill with wood and fiber waste. The system should be completed and in operation by next year.

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What Governments Must Do To Protect Elderly From Global Warming

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

elderly.jpgThe first casualties of global warming, when its effects really set in, will be the elderly. What are governments doing to prevent the worst impact? Little is known about any strategies or contingency plans in place. That is because the plans are only in the research stage.
In the UK, the first study assessing the impact of global warming on the elderly nationwide revealed that government measures are definitely needed to better protect older people from the future effects of climate change.
The report¬¥s authors said there is an urgent need to exploit synergies between climate change policies and policies aimed at older people. “Older people must be part of the solution: we need to make it easier for them to conserve energy, use public transport and maintain crucial social networks that will help them better cope with the effects of a changing climate,” said the lead researcher, Dr Gary Haq, a university of York academic.

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Green Building’s Product Directory Is Available Next December

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

greenbuilding.jpgEnvironmental Building News has published a directory with products for the residential green building market. The directory is targeted specifically at homeowners and home builders and includes over 1,400 products from the GreenSpec® database which the company’s internal editors have maintained since 1998.
Products listed in the directory are selected for GreenSpec based on specific criteria including recycled content, FSC-certified wood, avoidance of toxic constituents, reduction of construction impacts, energy or water savings, and contributing to a safe, healthy indoor environment.
Manufacturers do not pay to get their products or name listed in Green Building Products directory, which means that you’ll get unbiased information. “We base selections on careful in-house review by our editorial staff,” the company says. Details on the product selection process and the full list of criteria for inclusion can be found at the company’s website.
Green Building Products includes everything you can associate with building a house. Items range from pre-cast concrete foundation systems to recycled-plastic roofing shingles or top-efficiency heating equipment. Photos of around 300 products are included. Green Building Products is published with New Society Publishers and is priced at $34.95. It’s available next December at selected booksellers and can be ordered on the company’s website too.

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Weeklong UN Conference on Climate Change Begins

Tori Okner | Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 0 Comments

accra_logo_160x308.gif“Climate change is with us,” began the Honorable Mr. Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment of the Republic of Ghana, as he welcomed delegates to the Accra Climate Change Talks. The conference is the third in a series that constitutes the Bali Action Plan. The goal? Establish an international accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
More than 1,000 delegates from over 150 countries have come together in Accra. Previous meetings, held in Bangkok in April and Bonn in June, focused on procedure and planning – making the Accra Climate Change Talks the first conference dedicated to actual climate issues.
The political obstacles are formidable. Affluent countries are resistant to policies that may pose an economic burden, while developing economies fear policies that will hinder growth. “Presenting concrete ideas and submitting real substance will be the benchmark for credible leadership in Accra,” says Kim Carstensen, Director of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

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Can a Beauty Company Help the Planet?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

Aveda%20Cosmetics.JPGAveda, the beauty company owned by Estee Lauder, recently launched a bottle cap recycling program after a survey it conducted revealed that most caps end up in landfills. The company asks salons and stores that sell its products to partner with them by saving caps, and in turn it uses the caps to make new ones.
“Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program was created to help combat the devastating effects of plastic cap pollution – and to increase awareness around this critical issue,” said Chuck Bennett, vice president, Earth and Community Care, Aveda. “Recycling caps is a meaningful form of environmental activism. Every cap we prevent from becoming trash is one less piece of plastic in the mouth of a baby seal, penguin or turtle.”

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Algae Farming Is Considered Viable Option By Top Policy makers

| Friday August 22nd, 2008 | 2 Comments

co2.jpgThe US government used to run a massive algae farming project between 1970 and 1996. Called the the Aquatic Species Program, the Department of Energy only closed the project down because the researchers involved concluded that algae were not cost competitive with petroleum. Yet times have changed. The oil price is three times as high now compared to when the project was aborted.
Algae farming has the future. More and more parties come around to this view. A recent conference of coal industry leaders highlighted strong interest in algae farming as a solution to curb carbon dioxide from coal fired power plants. It’s likely that in the future we’ll see the development of algae farms right next to many coal fired energy facilities throughout the US.

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Green Ad Networks Capture Captive Audiences, Ad Dollars

| Thursday August 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

adhere.jpg When it comes to online advertising these days, it’s all about targeting. As technology has allowed marketers to focus their campaigns more efficiently on those that they want to attract, niche ad networks have become a zeitgeist in the advertising world.
Ad networks are essentially conduits, connecting advertisers to a group of host sites. Yet the brilliance of ad networks serving specific and niche sectors is that they end up being mutually beneficial for both sides. In the case of the buyers, the “ability to precision-target niche audiences helps advertisers reduce wasted ad impressions,” according to a recent press release by ComScore ratings. On the other side of the coin, the ad networks allow those sites that may not necessarily generate enough traffic on their own to capture big name advertisers and parts of their budgets.

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Carbon Farming Test Plots in California Delta Set to Expand

| Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Twitchell Island in the California San Joaquin Delta shows promise with pilot carbon farming projectBefore the rush of humanity came to California in search of gold, the San Joaquin Delta was rich in peat soil and much of what is now farmland consisted of wetland and swamps. Mother nature’s own carbon sponge.

Over the past 150 years, levees built to “reclaim” the land for agriculture have allowed much of that rich peat soil to continually degrade, exposing it to wind, rain, and oxygen. Through persistent land alteration and unsustainable agriculture, the carbon has become “liberated” from the soil and much of the land to subside. In other words, a sinking delta consisting of denuded soil.

Some islands farmed in the delta are as much as 20 feet below the surface of the water, kept dry only by the network of levees.

A pilot project funded by the California Department of Water Resources completed in 2005 and a new “carbon farming” project spearheaded by the U.S. Geological Survey set to start next spring may help change both the environmental and climate implications of this soil erosion and subsidence while providing economic opportunity for farmers.

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Eco Cabs – Emissions and Fare Free Transportation

| Wednesday August 20th, 2008 | 23 Comments

Eco%20Cabs.jpg
Imagine you’re drunk. Toasted. No way you’re driving home. Too far to walk. No cash in your pocket, and the ATM card’s back at home. Then you see it. This little green bug of a vehicle, pulling up to you, and someone says, “Need a lift? We don’t charge.”
“Who are these people and what do they want?” you think. Or did you say that out loud? They proceed to tell you that they’re from Eco Cabs, a company that is providing these emissions free cabs, for free, courtesy the sponsor enveloping their vehicle, 7UP in this case.
On the ride home, you learn that your driver who is pedaling you home is not, in fact, bionic, but has the assistance of an electric motor to make carrying your sack of a body home easier. Wait, did they just call you a sack?

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