Friday, August 29, 2008

Relive your art school days

Not everyone can say they have a telephone face and a wooly body. Yet kudos to artist, Jean-luc Cornec and his sheep that have grazed at the Museum of Communications in Frankfurt , Germany. While this highlight is about two years old now, I'm impressed to see that even artists can be sustainable consumers. These green, creative efforts are well worth keeping old phones out of today's landfills.















Image Source: TreeHugger and The Power of Word of Mouth

Monday, August 25, 2008

Roadtrip in Hydrogen Cars


31 cities in 18 states - from Portland, ME to Los Angeles, CA in a vehicle emitting only water vapor and heat. Can you imagine a more glorious roadtrip of a pack of hydrogen vehicles powered by zero-emission technology? Actually, yes, thanks to nine different automakers (e.g. Honda, GM, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, BMW AG, Daimler AG, Hyundai Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co, and Volkswagen AG.)

Where can you obtain a hydrogen vehicle? Unfortunately, not at your local car dealership. Honda Motor Co has begun leasing about 200 FXC Clarity fuel-cell autos in Southern California. It runs on electricity powered by hydrogen, and emits only water vapor and heat. General Motors Corp is also testing a 100 fuel-cell Chevy Equinox SUVs on the road.

Using those types of vehicles, one unique part of the roadtrip challenge were how some hotspots (or should we say dry zones) required the vehicles to be transported on flatbed trucks from Missouri to New Mexico. Why? Those were stretches without hydrogen fueling stations. It was an effort designed to raise awareness and illustrate the need to construct more hydrogen fueling stations. With higher standards, popularity and rising oil prices, expect to see development of fuel stations to appear in big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C.

Sourced from the Reuters InterActive Carbon Markets Community

Image Source: Trendwatching

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lead (Pb) Belly


We've seen it on the periodic table as that funky (Pb) symbol, and we have heard of its presence more so in Chinese manufactured toys. This seems to be one thing that past generations and even today's Millennials cannot rid themselves of is the exposure to lead. It seems as if lead is in everything ,right? Paint, dust, air, water, food, and even soil. However, over the past 15 years, according to the Americam Medical Association, a significant reduction has occurred in air-borne lead and lead in food. These reductions have occurred through the phasing out of leaded gasoline and the elimination of cans with lead-soldered seams.
Despite these efforts, lead poisoning continues to be a common problem among young children in the United States. It is currently estimated that 8.9 percent of children between the ages of one and five have a blood lead level equal to or greater than 10 µ/dL.(micrograms per deciliter of whole blood). Folks, the average blood lead levels was 1.9 μ/dL in 2002. That's a problem for a little ones who simply have too much lead in their belly and in their blood. What are we supposed to do? While I'm not endorsing a name or company, I did find it interesting how one particular non-profit organization known as OK International is determined to make a difference when it comes to environmental diseases linked to industrial pollution. They make small grants and provide technical assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which has attracted quite a lot of attention. Their objective is simple - devise a universal standard through a comprehensive set of voluntary certification criteria for lead battery manufacturing facilities. This is referred to as The Better Environmental Sustainability Targets (BEST) Standard. A big goal - not an easy task - but an effort that is respected.

Source: American Medical Association
Image Source: OK International

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Zero Carbon City - Abu Dhabi

Can you imagine a city without any cars? How about a city with a zero carbon effort? It's already underway and known as the Masdar Intiative (Fosters+Partners). It is a six million square meter community of zero waste, fields of wind farms, a photovoltaic power plant, a network of efficient public transportation, and most importantly shaded walking areas as it is blazing hot in the desert. Truly a self-sustaining city.

Source: Trendwatching, Fosters+Partners

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Biomass from Algae

Pros: It's mean, green and has a heck of a kick when it comes to producing energy. About 30 times more energy per acre than other biofuel sources.

Cons: Harvesting our green algae friends is quite expensive.

Valcent Products a progressive company has figured out the right recipe and is on the leading edge of algal production.




Source: Fortune Magazine

Monday, August 18, 2008

Look to the Frogs

Ira Flatow recently interviewed biologist, Paul Ehrlich, on NPR for Science Friday on yet another geeky, wonderful topic – extinction! The scientific community is scratching their heads when it comes to the changing ways of biodiversity. We are adding toxics to the atmosphere, our population is growing and the climate is changing. One key point to note is that biodiversity is good folks! It helps our health, prevents floods, and allows us to eat.

So what will it take to change our ways? It is fear? Is it a dent in consumer wallets? Perhaps a generation that throws up their hands and says no
more?

One answer is to better understand the frogs. The frogs are a unique key in this complex problem simply due to how they live. These creatures live on land and in fresh water allowing them to be exposed to toxics, pesticides, industrial chemicals, as well as ultraviolet light due to ozone depletion. Why are we not looking at birds, crayfish, or other fresh water creatures? Simple. Death has been occurring in large numbers from chytridiomycosis, which is an amphibian disease caused by a virulent fungus. With more frogs dying and less mosquitoes lately around our campfires, there is something morphing amongst our climate change that is even stumping the experts.

Click here to learn more and hear the
podcast.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Green Airports

I recently returned from a family reunion that was held in Beantown (Boston, MA), and I was actually impressed with the Boston Logan airport. Really, an airport! Yes, those dirty places with crying kids, long lines, and high prices for bottled water and gum.

I've been through the airport many, many times, but never did I notice the "golden statue." It is a plaque that highlights Boston Logan for being LEED certified. In fact, I later found out it is first airport to be LEED certified. Why is that important you ask?

Not only is it cool to have features like a heat-reflecting roof and windows, low-flow faucets and waterless urinals and self-dimming lights, it is also a big saver when it comes down to the bottom line. According to the director of capital programs and environmental affairs at the Massachusetts Port Authority, "We want to be responsible to the environment and our neighbors and minimize the environmental impact. The technology will save the terminal almost $300,000 in electric bills and 1.7 million gallons of water a year."

If you need a taxi once you get there, then they have a great option allowing you choose hybrid vehicles for pick-ups and drop-offs. You can schedule reservations online and the best feature is it doesn't cost more for a green taxi cab compared to the traditional yellow cab. You might even learn a thing or two sitting in the back of a green cab with a new perspective.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wanted: Green Jobs

Imagine getting the pink slip from your employer. Not the greatest feeling in the world, especially during today’s down economy. But we have to work. We must put food on the table. We must consume in order to keep this economy going, right? With consumer confidence in the trenches based on indications from the Conference Board, what job options do we have during a recession?

When it comes to renewable energy, some of us see hope, a possibility, a progressive future, and others see dollar signs and big profits for a field that is expected to explode with new jobs. The Apollo Institute estimates that three million new jobs will emerge in the next ten years due to environmental changes and technology advancements. Yet, the Energy and Resource team at University of California Berkley believes the estimate is closer to one million jobs.

Let’s not argue over the number. Better yet, let’s take a look at what these “green jobs” really are for today’s employees that are hunting and working closely with their recruiters.

1) You can’t outsource me: Construction
Whether you are installing solar panels, or helping to construct LEED certified buildings and homes, construction jobs cannot be outsourced. These are ideal in today’s economy and right up the green alley.


2) Welcome: Travel, Spas and Hotels
Eco-tourism is the buzzword that many travelers understand who are looking for ways to minimize their carbon footprint. When selecting flights, travelers can offset their carbon emissions by paying a bit more on their flight, in which contributions carry over to the corporation’s sustainable travel trade fund. Even better, travelers are renting hybrid vehicles and choosing
spas and hotels with green services (e.g. low flow showerheads, organic dining, cleaning services that use biodegradable products, etc.) Don’t worry your customer service and bartending skills are still in high demand at these locations.
3) What's in your green wallet? Investing and banking
There is definitely an increase in eco-banking, carbon traders, and green investors. These guys and gals are viewed as subject matter experts who are helping folks like you and me with green mortgages, tax rebates, green loyalty-points programs, and green profits. They are in tune with the market and learning how regulations are making an impact on your wallet.

Certainly, there are many other jobs and opportunities available in different green industries; however, if that is not enough to convince you, then consider the details of the Green Jobs Act of 2007.

The
Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847), introduced by Reps. Hilda Solis (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA), authorizes up to $125 million in funding to establish national and state job training programs, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, to help address job shortages that are impairing growth in green industries, such as energy efficient buildings and construction, renewable electric power, energy efficient vehicles, and biofuels development.

It's never too late to enhance your sustaino skills or use your existing skills to help our green economy.