Efficient Developments at Coca-Cola – 23% less energy consumption at HQ

| Monday April 23rd, 2007 | 1 Comment

coca-cola.pngI get a lot of press releases these days and always read them with a critical eye. Take this one from the Coca Cola Corp. It’s packed with great stuff – a fairly substantial re-tooling of their giant headquarters in Atlanta which is said to reduce energy consumption by 23% and water consumption by 15%. The added bonus: over a million dollars in savings annually.
The critic in me is starting to get triggered by this constant barrage of good news, when I think to myself – ‘gee, this is really just common sense stuff they’d be doing anyway, why not just throw on some green PR points as a bonus?’. But when you think about it, what’s really wrong with that? The fear is that the meaning of conservation and reuse gets lost in the PR-speak, but the reality is that impressive efficiency is still achieved and people find out about in a way that not only inspires them to do the same, but makes good business sense. A million dollars is a lot, and this sound’s like a good move by Coke. So I raise my glass of HFCS to them as an earth-day salute….

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AskPablo: Well to Wheel Efficiency Part II

| Monday April 23rd, 2007 | 2 Comments

burnout.jpgThis week we are continuing last week’s discussion on vehicle efficiency, from well to wheel. In last week’s column I introduced calculations for determining the energy needed to overcome aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance at a constant freeway speed of 65 mph. Using these equations I was able to show that my car is about 18.8% efficient at converting fuel energy into constant forward motion.

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Op Ed: Why The Christian Right Fights the Environmental Movement

3p Contributor | Friday April 20th, 2007 | 10 Comments

In 2005, 1200 concerned scientists issued a statement that “Biodiversity is being irreversibly destroyed by human activities at an unprecedented rate”. It was estimated that as many as 50, 000 plant and animal species disappear each year. In April 2007, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned “there is observational evidence” regarding the impact of climate change on physical and biological systems. It has serious consequences for agriculture and food security. Examples of this include drought and famine in Africa, and heightened frequency of flood in Asia.
Sadly, while increasing number of progressive Christians are beginning to view the environmental crisis as a spiritual issue deserving the attention of all people of faith, the Christian Right has chosen to limit their discourse to homosexuality and abortion. Demonizing the environmentalists as “New Age worshippers of Satan”, and calling them everything from “tree-hugging pagans” to “socialists”, the neo-cons have ignored the undeniable facts about environmental degradation.

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Nitrogen Pollution: Collaborative Strategy Forum

| Wednesday April 18th, 2007 | 0 Comments

nitrogen.jpgCarbon Dioxide is having it’s heyday as the eco-villain du jour, but we mustn’t forget the litany of other serious pollutants out there. Nitrogen (via it’s massive use as fertilizer as well as in industry) is causing significant pollution in waterways and other areas. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has set up a WiKi for discussion on the matter which, assuming such in depth discussion interests you, can be found right here.

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Yahoo Goes Carbon Neutral

| Wednesday April 18th, 2007 | 2 Comments

yahoo-logo.jpgDespite recent controversy about whether or not carbon neutrality is all it’s cracked up to be, Yahoo is going carbon neutral and that’s a good thing. Yahoo will invest in a variety of projects in renewable energy and other “greenhouse gas reducing” activities. Obviously such things are only a first step toward real eco-effectiveness, but it’s an outstanding move for Yahoo that will pay off, not just for the company, but for parties all over the world.

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Cages are Opening, Crates are Disappearing

| Tuesday April 17th, 2007 | 0 Comments

cage.jpgBoy, things are really happening in animal agriculture. Cages are opening, crates are disappearing, and businesses are considering the welfare of chickens in their supply chain. If you don’t follow the details of animal-related business practices, I’ll fill you in; this is BIG news.
With a major announcement in the New York Times and Associated Press, Burger King (the only fast food joint to offer a veggie burger at every U.S. restaurant) has said it will give priority to suppliers that do not confine laying hens in cages and hogs in crates. Not stopping there, Burger King will also favor suppliers that use controlled atmosphere stunning (“CAS”) to render broiler chickens unconscious prior to slaughter. Chickens and turkeys are not included under the U.S. Humane Slaughter Act even though at least 95% of U.S. slaughtered animals are poultry. Current poultry slaughter methods include live shackling of chickens upside down by their feet prior to their heads and upper bodies being moved through an electrical bath to immobilize them and paralyze their muscles so they can easily be de-feathered before their necks are cut. Dr. Temple Grandin, a well-known farmed animal expert describes CAS as a more much humane option if done correctly, since chickens will be unconscious prior to being hung upside down by their feet and de-feathered.

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AskPablo: Well to Wheel Efficiency Part I

| Monday April 16th, 2007 | 4 Comments

hummer.jpgWith gasoline prices as high as they are many people are concerned about vehicle efficiency. Other people who are concerned about their impact on the future of our climate care about vehicle efficiency as well. Where does the energy that we put into our cars actually go? And what is the overall efficiency of a car? Since I have pretty extensive data on my own vehicle, a 2005 Toyota Matrix XR, I will use it as an example in this week’s AskPablo.

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AskPablo: Going up?

| Monday April 9th, 2007 | 7 Comments

elevator.bmp This week’s question comes to us from Pete, who writes

“Okay – I’ll admit it, I’m lazy. I work in a second floor basement, and we make a couple trips a day to the street level to bring in furniture and supplies. There is an elevator that we can use. There are also stairs. I used to be really good about taking the stairs every time. But now, about 9 months after I started here, I find I’m choosing to use the elevator every time. Both going up and coming back down. I know, I know… See, I know that’s the wrong choice. But I was wondering if there was some way to quantify exactly how wrong of a choice it is. So to convince me to get back to taking the stairs, I think I just need a numerical push, and you might be able to help.”

Well, since Pete already knows that he is making the wrong choice I won’t need to try and convince him of that. All I have to do is spit out some numbers that confirm his feelings, and that shouldn’t be too hard…

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Monday Opinion: Critical Mass Incident a Setback to Cycling Progress

| Monday April 9th, 2007 | 2 Comments

This is an editorial about communication. It’s tangential to business but could be considered applicable to many aspects of the environmental movement. On the last Friday of every month, in cities around the world, but especially in San Francisco, there is a huge bike ride called “critical mass” which sometimes attracts thousands.
The main point, aside from having fun, is to raise awareness of the forlorn state of bicycle infrastructure, particularly in American cities. The rides are typically lively affairs which ignore traffic lights and cause automobile drivers to have to wait till the “mass” passes. Generally speaking, it’s a great, positive event with little turmoil that has done much over the years to improve cycling conditions and promote bikes as everyday transportation.
Unfortunately, it also attracts a fair share of anarchists and troublemakers…

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Op Ed: K Street Hinders the Sustainability Movement in America

| Thursday April 5th, 2007 | 1 Comment

kst.jpgIf corporations are threatened to be taxed or regulated by the government in ways that may reduce their profits, they use their riches to invest on K Street, (otherwise known as “Lobbyist Boulevard”) in Washington. Currently, there are over 34,000 lobbyists in the U.S. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the Citizens for Tax Justice, and Public Campaign, “forty-one companies (including GE, Microsoft, and Disney) ‘contributed’ $150 million to political parties and campaigns for U.S. Federal candidates between 1999 and 2001, and enjoyed $55billion in tax breaks in three tax years alone”. The Pharmaceutical industry employs the highest number of 3,000 lobbyists and has spent $759 million to influence 1,4000 congressional bills between 1998 and 2004.

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AskPablo: American Idle

| Monday April 2nd, 2007 | 8 Comments

tailpipe.jpg Is it better to let your car warm up for a bit or tear off down the road right after ignition? Having lived in Maine I know that automatic car starters are a hot commodity when it is -30F outside. It is understandable that people don’t want to get in their car if their hands are going to freeze to the steering wheel but some people take it a bit too far. Some have been know to use the running car to get rid of the ice on the windshield. This is what the ice scraper was invented for, suck it up! Here in sunny California people may run their car for other reasons; to get the AC going or because they think it is better for the car (or the environment).

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Saving Green by Going Green Accelerator – Tuesday in San Francisco

| Wednesday March 28th, 2007 | 0 Comments


If you’re a small business owner in the SF Bay Area who is looking for help “going green”, the Inspiring Green Leadership group has an event on Tuesday April 3rd that can help you out, for free. Details follow:
Be Coached by a Volunteer EnviroMentor who Wants You to be a Green Business
If your business is an office, a retail operation, a hotel or a restaurant and it is located in San Francisco, you are eligible for the program. Come to the Engagement Event on April 3 and you’ll learn how the Saving Green by Going Green Accelerator will support you to become recognized as a green business by the City of San Francisco. We will explain in detail how the program works as well as pair you with a volunteer EnviroMentor. In a nutshell, if you choose to participate, you will be coached by a volunteer until July 1 to support you in greening your business.
When you pass the city’s inspections, you’ll become a recognized green business. And best of all, it’s free!

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It’s About Time… Wedding Planning Goes Green

| Monday March 26th, 2007 | 5 Comments

With all the dizzying array of decisions couples must make in regards to planning their wedding, I’m heartened by the fact there are more sustainable choices and resources available. This is particularly on my radar right now because I’m getting married in June. I’m also finding that more and more couples are becoming conscious of how their choices affect the environment and strive to make their big day as sustainable as possible. The media is picking up on it, too, with a whole section of the NY Times recently devoted to green weddings.
As someone about to get married, I can now hire organic caterers, work with a florist who primarily uses locally grown flowers, send our invitations on recycled paper — and work with a green wedding planner. One that I know personally is Presidio School of Management grad Corina Beczner who recently launched Vibrant Events, a green wedding and special event company in the San Francisco Bay Area. The idea formed while she was a student in the two-year Presidio MBA in Sustainable Management program, and in her final semester she created a venture plan in the Capstone course to bring her vision into reality.

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AskPablo: Lightbulb Philanthropy

| Monday March 26th, 2007 | 8 Comments

Image Courtesy of Stoughton UtilitiesAre you concerned about your contribution to the climate change crisis? Are you still unsure about carbon offset programs? Well, you are not alone. While I am a strong believer in the value and importance of offset providers such as DriveNeutral and Native Energy I also realize that there are some organizations out there, whose carbon offsets might not be as verifiable or that take too much profit for themselves. If I can’t convince you to offset your emissions with a legitimate offset provider I would certainly like to help you to neutralize your climate impact in another way.

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AskPablo: Climate Change Q&A with Hoff Stauffer

| Monday March 19th, 2007 | 4 Comments

Hoff%20Small.jpgThis week we are honored to have climate change expert Hoff Stauffer answering reader submitted climate change questions. Thank you to all of you who submitted questions during the last week.

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