Trashy Travel

| Thursday December 14th, 2006 | 4 Comments

A-380.jpgWhen I travel, I reluctantly throw away my recyclables as it is too much hassle to seek out a recycling bin. I guess I’m not alone: According to the WSJ “Airlines Feel Pressure as Pollution Fight Takes Off“, the airline industry throws away enough aluminum cans each year to build 58 Boeing 747s. To put that in perspective, since 1970, only 1469 747s have been built, and fewer than that are in service.
Never mind the plastic cups, glass, magazines, and all the fuel consumed. The airlines are actually improving somewhat – fuel efficiency is improving 2% per year. However, air travel has been growing at about 5% annually, for a net increase in waste.
To their credit, Airlines have been working on more important things for those of us who occasionally like to fly, like staying in business. And since the 70s, they have cut down on noise pollution, air pollution, and as
those who fly know, they don’t serve food anymore. Yes, we complained about the food, and now we complain about the absence of food.

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Greenworks Eco-industrial Park in Chicago Epitomizes Economic Synergy

| Wednesday December 13th, 2006 | 1 Comment

greenworks.jpgThe former city auto pound along with a 17 acre illegal dumpsite are the unlikely site of an emerging eco-industrial park in Chicago on the 400 north block of Sacramento. This forward thinking is putting Chicago on the map as a green city and breathing life into this disadvantaged area on the west-side of Chicago.
In 1995, the site of the Chicago Center for Green Technology (CCGT) was plagued by illegal dumping by Sacramento Crushing. After the Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) took possession of the property, the plot was cleared of over 600,000 tons of concrete waste, requiring 45,000 truck-loads to remove. The existing building, built in 1952, was renovated from 1999-2002 using the greenest design innovations of its day. Now a source of pride for the DOE, the building makes good use of the sun with three photovoltaic solar systems (totaling 72 kW), a greenhouse heated only by sunlight, and maximizes the use of sunlight for office lighting. A ground source heat pump aids in heating and cooling the building and a rooftop garden serves as insulation. Four 12,000 gallon cisterns gather rainwater from the building, while ground rainwater is diverted into bioswales that lead to adjacent wetlands.

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Malaysian Forests Sacrificed for Biodiesel

| Tuesday December 12th, 2006 | 3 Comments

malaysia.jpgHere’s one I never quite saw coming when I was firing a pottery kiln with veggie oil in 1999. According to the WSJ, 12/5/06, “As Alternative Fuels Heat Up, Environmental Concerns Grow.” Malaysians are getting sick from a nationwide haze of blue smoke caused by rushed and rampant burning of forests in order to plant palm oil trees and attempt to meet global demand for biodiesel.
According to the Journal, “The alternative energy field ‘is almost like the internet in terms of the pace of how fast all this is changing,’ says Chris Flavin, president of the World Watch Institute”
Internet is good, alternative energy is good, hot money chasing change leaves a wake of destruction.
Keep your money in your coat. As for now, I’ll keep fillin’ her up with unleaded (cut with Ethanol of course.) Sometimes the most sustainable thing I can do is nothing at all. [wsj link here - requires subscription]

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AskPablo: Active Solar

| Monday December 11th, 2006 | 1 Comment

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This week I am going to run the numbers on a hypothetical active solar heating system. Active solar differs from passive solar in that it requires mechanical means for moving the heat energy (pumps, fans, etc.). Passive solar can be as simple as opening your curtains to let some sunlight in.

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Not your Momma’s Biodiesel

| Monday December 11th, 2006 | 1 Comment

Fatbike.jpegNow this is the essence of waste into food, or food into fuel, or something: According to Shortnews.com, a Norwegian businessman who now lives in Miami, named Lauri Venoy, is negotiating with Jackson Memorial Hospital to obtain more than 11.5 litres of human fat obtained from liposuction operations every week. Normally burned, Lauri can turn it into truck fuel.
This could be for the Goth movement what soybean oil was for the hippie movement. I can see the sticker now on the VW Jetta: 100% powered by Human Fat. [link here]

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TXU Shareholders File Resolution Against New Coal

| Thursday December 7th, 2006 | 2 Comments

coalpower.jpgThis is what owning shares in a company is all about: Major shareholders in TXU (Texas) filed a resolution advising the company against building new coal plants in Texas. The investors include pension funds as well as religeous organizations who are precisely the kind of investors who can safely make such resolutions. The reason is that forcing the company to innovate, encourage efficiency, and/or invest in alternative non-polluting fuels may be costly in the short term, but ultimately results in a stronger offering for investors as well as society and the environment. Short term investors are inherantly harder to convince of this.
Ironically, because of tax breaks and other misguided government incentives, coal plants, supposedly now referred to as “clean coal” have suddenly become a lot cheaper to build (see this TreeHugger post for some Niagra Falls irony). Environmental Defense has more about the dituation with TXU. Read it here.
(thx Joel!)

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TreeHugger on Oprah, with Bonus Appearance on Rush Limbaugh

| Wednesday December 6th, 2006 | 3 Comments

rush_limbaugh.jpgPresidio Grad and TreeHugger TV leader Simran Sethi made it to the Oprah Winfrey show yesterday with a prerecorded segment on greening your Christmas tree. Watch the piece on YouTube here. It’s short, but fantastic. The show’s other star was Al Gore who used the opportunity to talk about climate change and “An Inconvenient Truth”.
In the shadows, however, was lurking the infamous Rush Limbaugh who had this to say about the episode: [transcript][audio file]

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Shi Zhengrong: More Proof of Riches in Green

| Wednesday December 6th, 2006 | 1 Comment

shijen.jpgIf money can’t motivate the average person then I’m at a bit of a loss, but let it be at least some of the inspiration toward building a greener economy. TreeHugger mentioned a while ago that China’s richest person made her fortune by importing waste paper from the United States and recycling it. Now, Tom Friedman reports on the success of Shi Zhengrong’s Suntech Corporation. He’s China’s 7th richest person (who’s really counting at that point?) with an impressive billion dollar fortune. The source? Solar panels. I agree with Tom Friedman when we says that this is both a heartening sign for China’s future as well as a wake up call for the US energy sector.

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What Would it Take to Move you to Bentonville?

| Tuesday December 5th, 2006 | 0 Comments

Joel Makower has an excellent post about a dream job with Wal Mart. The “Corporate Partnerships Project Manager – Wal-Mart” position is set to be filled soon by Environmental Defense, and requires moving to Bentonville, AR. It might take a rare breed of person to satisfy all the criteria needed to fill the position, and still be happy with small town American life. Or is it? Drop over to Joel’s site and apply if you think you’ve got what it takes.

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Carnival of the Green at Urban Eco

| Monday December 4th, 2006 | 0 Comments

urbaneco.gifDon’t forget your Monday reading break! It’s Carnival of the Green time – this time hosted by UrbanEco’s Excellent Blog. Click here to read it.

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AskPablo: R-Value

| Monday December 4th, 2006 | 6 Comments

insulation.jpgMany years ago some guy decided to leave a legacy behind. His goal was to confuse the heck out of us. But with a little patience I will try to clear the muddy water on our way to understanding R-values. R-values are a measure of thermal resistance, or the ability to insulate. You will most commonly find R-values on insulating materials at your local building supply store. R-values range from 1 (for a single-pane window) to 7.2/inch (for polyisocyanurate foil-faced panels) or as high as 10 for high-tech silica aerogel and 30 for vacuum insulated panels. But what does R-value mean? Well, here comes the confusing part: R=ft²-°F-h/Btu (I am using the non-SI definition here because it is most common in the US). What?

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RAN vs. Car Culture Equals a Communication Breakdown

| Thursday November 30th, 2006 | 4 Comments

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Effective communication is not always easy. However, in order to accomplish anything when controversy or new ideas are on the table you’ll get nowhere if you can’t make yourself understood without souring the air. Speaking of the art of communications, I’m walking gingerly to articulate this post.
Yesterday morning Rick Wagoner, General Motors CEO, gave a keynote address to open the LA Auto Show. The main gist of the speech was to outline GM’s commitment to non-gasoline powered automobiles, in particular electric ones. His company is definitely not yet what I might call a “leader” in efficiency or green thinking, but they are making real steps in that direction. In particular, they announced that a plug-in Saturn hybrid is on the way, and rumor has it, something a lot more exciting will be announced in January.
At the very end of Wagoner’s speech, two official looking men took the stage and the following ensued: Click Here to watch video. The entire room was taken for a ride – who the heck were these guys? Read on for my reaction…

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Will the LA Auto Show Bring Big News?

| Tuesday November 28th, 2006 | 0 Comments

laautoshow.jpgI’ve been lucky enough to attend the LA auto show this week along with TreeHugger team members Hank and Jeff. Joel Makower is also here and rumors are afoot that big green news awaits us all at this biggest of all auto shows. Announcements about electric, hybrid, fuel cell and more are expected from multiple carmakers… stay tuned here and on TreeHugger to see what happens!

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Johnson Controls Sustainability Training Goes Online

| Tuesday November 28th, 2006 | 0 Comments

jon_con.jpgOf all the companies that should be leaders in green building and retrofitting, Johnson Controls should be at the top of the list. They’re starting to get there, in fact there is now a “path to sustainability” on the front page of their website. Even better, the company now offers a web based “Sustainable Energy Education & Communications” program to other companies as well as their own employees. Here’s a PDF about it. The web based version of the progam is highlighted here.
(thx brie!)

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Carnival of the Green Moves to Great Green Goods

| Monday November 27th, 2006 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifHope you all had a few nice days off, assuming you’re in the US. Otherwise at the very least a restful weekend! To get your week rolling right, it’s time for the weekly Carnival of the Green! This time brought to you by Great Green Goods.

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