California First State to Adopt Green Building Code

| Monday July 21st, 2008 | 0 Comments

California adopts green building standards

The California Building Standards Commission announced on Friday the unanimous adoption of a statewide “green” building code, the first in the nation.

The new standards will call for a 20% improvement in water use efficiency for both residential and commercial plumbing fixtures as well as target a 50% increase in conservation for water used in landscaping.

The new code will also require all new construction to reduce energy consumption by 15%.

Governor Schwarzenegger said in a statement (pdf):

“By adopting this first-in-the-nation statewide green building code, California is again leading the way to fight climate change and protect the environment.”

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Protecting the Siberian Tiger, and Livelihoods, in northeast China

| Saturday July 19th, 2008 | 2 Comments

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Looking to report to the international community and U.S. donors, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s‚ÄòForever Siberian Tigers’ project team at the Hunchun Nature Reserve in northeast China has put out the third edition of its English language newsletter, in which it reports on recent conservation, public outreach and educational efforts to protect the endangered Siberian tiger, including the implementation of MIST, a conservation management information system.
Only an estimated 330-370 adult Siberian tigers are believed to exist in the wild and most of them have been pushed into the mountainous borderlands of the Russian Far East and northeast China.
Home to a unique assemblage of plant and animal life, Far Eastern Russia’s Sikhote-Alin and China’s East Manchurian Mountains are two of the rapidly declining numbers of large areas in the world that can boast of an exceptional variety of large mammals, including boreal lynx and wolf, the Himalayan black bear, the Asian sika and temperate region red deer.
They are also home to the Amur, or Far Eastern, leopard, a species in even greater threat of extinction. Their numbers have been reduced to a mere 25-30, according to the most recent surveys, primarily due to habitat loss that includes expanding populations, land development and natural resource exploitation, according to the WCS.

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The Nature of Efficiency: Innovation in Action Part 3: PAX Scientific – Extracting the Mathematics of Nature

| Friday July 18th, 2008 | 0 Comments

PAX Scientific - Cultivating the Streamline PrincipleLooking once again to Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn’s book Earth the Sequel – The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming that explores the work people are doing to find real solutions for our current unsustainable energy economy we look, actually, to nature itself.

At least that’s what Jay Harmon does, and what led him to found PAX Scientific, based in San Rafael California.  

Harmon’s fascination with natural systems focuses on fluid dynamics and began many years ago as a boy growing up on the beaches of Australia. This led to a stint with the Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife where he worked as a naturalist studying flow patterns of ocean and air currents.

Harmon’s intuition allowed him to see in the movement of air and water, and in the materials that flowed through them, the underlying mathematical patterns, the geometry of design, and the natural efficiency it represented. Harmon understood that the nature of efficiency is best expressed in the efficiency of nature.  

From a cloud comes a fan, a lily becomes a water impeller. Suddenly industrial processes and products are made more efficient.

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No More Chocolate in 20 Years?

Shannon Arvizu | Thursday July 17th, 2008 | 7 Comments

chocolate.jpeg The cacao bean is in danger. The Nature Conservation Research Council (NCRC) recently announced that in 20 years time, “Chocolate will be much like caviar today.” So what’s the deal?
Unsustainable farming practices are to blame. Cacao typically grows in rainforest conditions with high biodiversity. Instead, farmers now clear the forest and use hybrid seeds to increase output over the short-term. Unfortunately, this leads to soil erosion and shorter lifespan of trees. Over time, this practice is predicted to lead to an overall shortage of cacao.
While many a chocoholic may lament this news, I wish to provide our readers with a little firsthand “reality check.” Most of the world’s cacao is grown in West Africa. While living in Ghana during my study-abroad year as an undergraduate, I was struck by the fact that, even though Ghana is a net exporter of cacao, most of the country’s inhabitants could not afford to purchase a Cadbury or Hershey’s bar. Although I shared many a fresh, delicious cacao fruit with my Ghanaian friends, actually eating a chocolate bar was considered a luxury.
For Ghanaians, “no chocolate 20 years from now” is now. Such reminders are necessary to place in perspective predictions of ecological change and impacts on human populations. While we, in wealthy, industrialized countries, may fear with trepidation the loss of resources and biodiversity associated with global warming, it is important to remember that half the world’s peoples are already living that reality.

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Q&A With Tom Szaky – CEO of Terracycle

| Thursday July 17th, 2008 | 1 Comment

wormy.jpgAt its inception, TerraCycle began with one product Рworm poop fertilizer.  Today, they offer a wide variety of products including cleaning products, rain barrels, tote bags, and more.  But these are no ordinary cleaning products, rain barrels, and tote bags.  They are great examples of what we call upcycling.  They take waste products (like Clif Bar wrappers, Capri Sun pouches, or Coke bottles) and turn them into useful stuff.
Now is your chance to ask TerraCycle’s CEO, Tom Szaky, all the questions you’ve been dying to pose.¬† At Huddler’s Green Home, they’re putting together a crowd sourced interview.¬† So for the next few days, post your questions in their forums and make sure to vote on your favorites.¬† Then they’ll take the best 10, send them over to Tom to get answered and we’ll publish the full interview here on Triple Pundit.¬† What are you waiting for?¬† Make sure your question is in the mix!
Again, the link to post is HERE.

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2nd Gen Ethanol Moves Forward with NREL-Dow Agreement

| Wednesday July 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

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Aiming to reduce dependence on imported oil, the the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Dow Chemical Company announced an agreement today to jointly develop and evaluate a process that will convert biomass to ethanol, as well as a range of other chemical products, by making use of a new mixed alcohol catalyst developed by Dow.
The thermochemical process would cut CO2 exhaust emissions by as much as 80% and not rely on food crops. Biomass, such as the leaves and stem of corn plants and wood waste, will be used as feedstock and first converted into bio-synthesis gas, or syngas, through the application of high pressure, heat, steam and oxygen then converted into ethanol and other useful chemical alcohols by passing it through reactor where biochemical reaction driven by Dow’s catalyst will produce ethanol and other useful bio-based chemical building blocks.
The joint evaluation program will focus on improving the mixed alcohol catalyst, as well as demonstrating pilot scale performance and the commercial relevance of an integrated facility, according to a Dow Chemical media release.

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San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral Will Install Solar Power System

| Wednesday July 16th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Grace Cathedral, in partnership with PG&E, will install solar power this fallIn a special ceremony this morning on the steps of San Francisco landmark Grace Cathedral, it was announced that Pacific Gas and Electric will partner with the Cathedral by providing $65,000 for the installation of a new, state-of-the-art solar photovoltaic (PV) power system.

Mayor Gavin Newsom told those assembled that this project helps advance the goal of making “San Francisco the greenest city in the country” adding “I commend PG&E for their vision of implementing renewable energy on a true San Francisco landmark. This project supports the City’s goals of increasing the use of clean, renewable power”.

PG&E senior vice president Nancy McFadden called this installation another step in promoting the utilities’ commitment to promote ”the use of solar photovoltaic systems and demonstrate that energy efficiency and renewable energy can be incorporated in even the most historic buildings”

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Home Solar, Minus the Cost, Effort, Worry

| Wednesday July 16th, 2008 | 13 Comments

Sun%20Run%20logo.jpgIt seems these days you can’t throw a rock without hitting a story relating to solar power. So why haven’t you got it for your home yet? I bet you’ve already come up with a list of three reasons, without even thinking. My guess is they fall into these areas: Cost, efficiency (or lack of it) and aesthetics. Oh and let’s throw this one in for good measure: Who lives in their home for 15-30 years these days? Not you, and what good will those panels do you on your next home?
I found a solution to all of these concerns, and more: Sun Run. What they do is unique, and does quite a thorough job in allaying people’s fears. Rather than have you buy, lease, or take out a loan for the solar system, Sun Run retains ownership of the equipment. and guarantees a certain amount of power generation. Come again?
Yes. In conversation with Nat Kreamer, COO of Sun Run, I learned about a unique “solar as a service” model that had even I, chest deep in the latest green energy innovations, am considering using their service when I buy a home. Why?

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Is Greenwashing Good?

Shannon Arvizu | Monday July 14th, 2008 | 1 Comment

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Is greenwashing really a disinformation campaign by corporations trying to win over the conscious consumer? Or is it just part of the “growing pains” of becoming a sustainable company? Joel Makower, of Greenbiz.com, thinks it’s the latter. He writes,
“The rise of green marketing claims is a testament to how quickly being seen as green has become of importance to companies. Isn’t that what all of us wanted to see happen?”
Maybe…but maybe not.
Makower hints that greenwashing may eventually fade as corporations integrate environmental considerations more fully. It could be, however, that greenwashing is symptomatic of a larger corporate contradiction between economic growth and ecological integrity.

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ClimatePULSE: Who owns these greenhouse gas emissions?

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 4 Comments

CC_logo_small.jpgProtocols for corporate greenhouse gas accounting that are based on the ISO 14064 standards, such as the WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol, use the term “scope” to distinguish between different greenhouse gas emissions sources. There are three categories; Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3. For most registry’s or reporting agencies Scopes 1 and 2 are considered mandatory while Scope 3 is considered optional.
Scope 1 emissions, also known as direct emissions, include any emissions that occur on-site or from company-owned assets. This includes the combustion of fuels, process emissions, and refrigerant leakage. These emissions are aggregated on a facility-level, with the company’s vehicle fleet considered as one “facility.”

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Envirofit’s Biomass Stoves Offer Quicker Cooking Times, Less Toxic Emissions, and Sustainable Business Model in Developing Nations

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 6 Comments

cookstove.jpg Last week, Colorado-based non-profit Envirofit introduced clean-burning biomass stoves in India, a project that will attempt to reduce fuel consumption, toxic emissions, and offer a sustainable business model to foster local enterprise. In an effort to reduce indoor air pollution in developing nations, Envirofit teamed up with the UK’s Shell Foundation as a part of its Breathing Space program. The cook stoves will reduce toxic emissions by 80%, use 50% less fuel, and reduce the cooking cycle by 40%, according to the organization’s press release.
Biomass typically consists of organic materials like wood, crop waste, or animal dung, and for many households in places like India, is the main source of fuel for activities like cooking. Developed at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University, the cook stoves were engineered to burn traditionally used biomass materials more efficiently.

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Changents: How to Be a “Rock Star” Agent of Change

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Changents.comWho hasn’t dreamed of being a rock star? Throngs of fans following your meteoric rise to stardom, listening to your every word, creating a buzz about your latest grand accomplishment, an entourage of followers ready to step in at the slightest need.
Wake up, because chances are you might already be a rock star (or perhaps know one), at least the kind of rock star that Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann are looking for – that is to say, a rock star “Agent of Change” – and why they started Changents.com.
Rock stars of this genre are people like Elizabeth Redmond, creator of POWERleap, a flooring system that generates electricity from foot traffic (also featured last year here on 3P), or Scott Harrison, working to help alleviate the growing global water crisis. Elizabeth and Scott are two of a growing number of “Earthkeeper” Change Agents utilizing the tools and resources available to them at Changents, a new breed of online social media and networking platform developed by Triff and Hofmann. With key support and sponsorship from Timberland, Changents launched in beta on June 8th, but the buzz started back late last year when the project was in “quiet alpha” mode.
There are many great social networking sites out there focusing on environmental and social issues. Ways for people to connect, share ideas, find common ground, create a buzz. Some of those sites we’ve reviewed here at TriplePundit.
As good and useful as all those social networking sites are, Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann want Changents to be something different.

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Offsets: A Regular Part of a Diet Light in Carbon?

| Monday July 14th, 2008 | 2 Comments

food-pyr.jpgThe past few weeks I have been trying to wrap my head around the difference between compliance offsets (carbon offsets a company purchases in order to comply with carbon reduction commitments like Kyoto or AB32) and voluntary offsets. Aren’t they just the same product with different packaging and intention?
Not exactly. If you have been following any of the scoping plan discussions about AB32 implementation you’ll know that the role offsets will play is pretty controversial. To get the ‘why’ straight we’ve got to start at the beginning. AB32 is a piece of legislation that requires the state of California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and it charges the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to figure out how to get there. We have this wonderful strong commitment, we know the state will be working hard to reach this goal, but the type of restrictions that CARB will select, which industries will be hit hardest, and how they will be required to meet the new carbon limits are all up for grabs.

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Airline Travel Set to Increase Up To 600% By 2050 As US And Europe Row Over Carbon Offsetting

| Friday July 11th, 2008 | 6 Comments

airline.jpgIt’s easy to be angry about the watered down global environment deal hammered out last week in Japan. But when it comes to some personal issues, few of us are willing to budge an inch either. Are you prepared to cut back on your trips by plane? Airline travel is set to grow by 200 to 600 percent by 2050. And carbon emissions are not routinely compensated for by most airlines.

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Intel’s Grove Calls for Dual-Fuel Vehicles, Used Vehicle Retrofits

| Friday July 11th, 2008 | 0 Comments

classicoldpickup.jpg It’s hard not to notice, generally speaking, the stark differences in cultures, personalities and characters of leading lights in the energy and IT industries, particularly when it comes to strategic planning, organizational management and R&D, and especially when it comes to public relations and thinking “outside the box”. The apparent contrasts stand out when it comes to developing renewable energy and clean technology for power generation and transportation.
OPEC controls some 40% of world petroleum reserves – and that’s likely to increase in coming decades – giving it tremendous influence over its customers. The situation is analogous yet fundamentally different to that of Google in the Internet search engine marketplace, where a market share of more than 50% affords it the leverage to define the nature of American advertising, points out former Intel CEO Andy Grove, now a consultant to the company, in a July 10 article, “Our Electric Future,” published by The American magazine.
The difference between controlling energy resources – read oil – and advertising are great, however, Grove points out. “…the stages on which Google and OPEC play are dramatically different. Advertising is a big and important business, but energy is the lifeblood of all economies. Like drinking water or oxygen, we simply cannot be without it. So a supplier of energy can have significant control over customers – even nations.”

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