Solar Powered System Helps Reduce Ship’s Emissions – Innovation on the High Seas

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 2 Comments

New solar powered system will help reduce ship's emissionsJapan’s largest shipping line, Nippon Yusen KK, has teamed with Nippon Oil Corporation in developing a system of solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity for use on a 60,000 ton cargo ship for Toyota Motor Corporation.

Unlike the solar panels soon to be offered on the tops of the Toyota Prius that I wrote about last week, these panels are designed to assist with the ship’s motive power.  

Solar panels aren’t new on ocean-going ships, but until now they’ve only been used to power crew cabins and living quarters. This system will help reduce diesel fuel consumption by up to 6.5% and CO2 emissions by 1 or 2%.

That doesn’t seem like much, but in hard numbers and particles of pollution, every little bit helps and you’ve got to start somewhere.

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Green Roofed Bus Shelters = Dynamic Green Marketing

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 4 Comments

gavinShelter_clo.jpgThe New California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in San Francisco will open September 27th with a long awaited, Renzo Piano designed, 2.5 acre living roof undulating across Golden Gate Park. While the roof has great scientific, educational, and ecological benefits, it will also have a financial benefit by helping to conserve energy use. The roof will keep the building an average 10 degrees cooler than a standard roof.
But the more interesting, and fun, business oriented aspect to this story is the marketing roll out this week in advance of the opening. The Academy, in partnership with the city, Clear Channel Outdoor, and the advertising company Heat, has installed living roofs, each with a different ecological focus, on a series of bus shelters around town. These shelters are just as effective at multi-tasking as the big daddy on the Academy to which they refer.

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Weekly Green Business Wrap-Up

| Friday September 5th, 2008 | 0 Comments

HP Delivers Laptops in Slick Recycled Bags
HP’s new line of entertainment notebooks sit right on Walmart’s shelves in ready-to-go 100% recycled fabric messenger bags. This innovation allows HP to send 31% more product per pallet, lowering shipping costs. The switch reduces packaging by 97%, and saves us all the trouble of having to deal with disposing of pesky Styrofoam and cardboard packaging.
See also Grist & Environmental Leader
U.S., Australia and Iceland Team Up to Tap Geothermal Energy
Climate Biz has the skinny on a new partnership between the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Australia and Iceland to explore enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Team Geothermal will analyze technical and policy issues related to this untapped renewable energy source.
Con Edison Installs First Green Roof
The power company expects the green roof to save them 30% on peak cooling costs (apparently not even the power company can escape rising fuel costs). The roof is also expected to retain 30 percent to 70 percent of storm water runoff. Doncha love to see a power company investing in energy efficiency?
Taking Green Initiatives to the Next Level
Green Biz tackles the challenge of moving businesses beyond the low hanging fruit: what is a green-maker to do after switching all the lightbulbs to CFLs and setting the printer to default to double sided? (Hint: start at the top!)
Hawaii Swaps Biomass for Coal
Hawaii takes a step toward meeting its big hairy audacious goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030 with the opening of the Hu Honua Bioenergy Facility on Big Island’s Hamakua Coast. The plant will supply 18,000 homes with power and create hundreds of jobs. Imagine the smell of a biomass facility burning sugar cane…

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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

Fertilizer 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.
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

I 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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