Monday, June 29, 2009

Green to Gold

The new term that folks are using is “green to gold”, and how environmental practices are helping to yield more green in corporate wallets while helping the planet and people. I guess everyone got burned out from saying the triple bottom line (profits, people and planet). Yet, let’s take a reality check at what has been happening recently and specifically in the past 6 months.

GreenBuzz reported out some great insight in how companies are being squeezed during this economic recession, and some have cleared their heads and finally started to touch the third rail of energy and resource use (or maybe I should say overuse!). Some of the focus has been directly on water conservation, energy efficiency, green buildings and eco-friendly materials. For Baxter, (healthcare) a majority of their green projects yielded nearly $12 million in environmental income and savings. Cisco also reported a savings of $277 million by allowing employees to telecommute.

What I especially like about this report is the focus on corporations, buildings and small businesses. Too often, it is the consumer that is blamed for the damage. The consumer should buy local, choose green, switch to green, and talk green. Well, whatever happened to Uncle Sam or Mr./Mrs. CEO making a difference? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for everyone making a difference and believe the paradigm shift occurred with the consumer requested and demanded for more eco, green products and initiatives to support their communities and local businesses. Yet, isn’t it about time that we look beyond our own, personal spaces (e.g. homes, cars, bathrooms, clothes, etc.) and start truly looking at our working spaces, environments and infrastructure!

Friday, June 26, 2009

There She Blows!

Here in Cleveland, heated discussions continue about wind turbines on Lake Erie. Now, for the record, the term “windy city” isn’t used to describe weather patterns…it is referred to politics in how people sway from being Republicans to Democrats and back to Republicans. And that is just what this is about – politics – especially when discussing, funding and building up alternative energy in metropolitan areas. While many people are in favor of wind and solar technology, many have the mindset of, “Sure, but not in my backyard.”

Yes, turbines are not quiet. They potential kill birds (if they are stupid enough to fly into them). However, what people are failing to consider is the notion of floating turbines. Floating turbines have a number of advantages compared to traditional offshore wind power; they don't block the views of coastal residents, they don't have to deal with shoreline construction restrictions due to animal habitat concerns, and winds are both stronger and more consistent further off the coast/lake.

According to FastCompany, they reported out incredible news about StatoilHydro and Siemens whom finally installed the world's first large-scale floating wind turbine off the coast of Karmoy, Norway. The 2.3 MW Hywind, built at a depth of 722 feet, will be tested over the next two years. The ballast extends 328 feet below the surface, where it is fastened to the seabed with three anchor wires and attached to the mainland grid via cables extending to shore.

Well, we will just have to wait and see how long it takes Cleveland to transition into being an adopter of this technology. Many understand that Cleveland is not an innovative town, yet simply being an adopter would be a step up from today’s current state.

Go Turbines! Go Sustaino! Were you a hero today?

Image Source: Fast Company

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dumpster Smarties

Time Magazine recently had an article how colleges are turning their waste into gold…more like cash. Every year incoming freshman need “stuff” and outgoing seniors don’t. So, a simple dumpster dive was coordinated that organized, collected and tagged unwanted items. Everything was fair game from toys, to espresso machines, books, chairs and clothes. George Washington University had a haul of about 53,5000 lbs, Texas Christian University had 959lbs, and Bowdoin College raised $39,600 for their charity event.

What do you think happens with this stuff if it isn’t gifted or sold?
As they say, “One mans junk, is another man’s treasure.”

Go colleges! Go Sustaino! Were you a hero today?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Water, Pipes and Tubes-Oh My!

While all the eco geeks and visionaries are talking about solar, wind and geothermal, there is still a big part of the conversation that folks clue into which is water. I’m not referring to clean, fresh, drinkable water. I’m talking about gray water and rainwater runoff. Gray water (aka sullage) is the wastewater generated from things such as dish washing, laundry and bathing. It actually comprises 50-80% of residential wastewater.

In recent years concerns over dwindling reserves of groundwater and overloaded or costly sewage treatment plants has generated much interest in the reuse or recycling of gray water, both domestically and for use in commercial irrigation. However, concerns over potential health and environmental risks means that many jurisdictions demand such intensive treatment systems for legal reuse of gray water that the commercial cost is higher than for fresh water. (Source: Wikipedia)

So the hero for today is GWRS (Gray Water Recycling System). Ed Begley, Jr. is one of their spokesperson! (Great, green advocate)

GWRS manufactures gray and rainwater recycling units for single and multi family homes, resorts, hotel and commercial use. Units capture water from shower, bath, laundry and downspout, then purify, disinfect and store that water to be reused for irrigation, toilet tanks and other recycled water uses.

A SystemI unit ($4,770) is the lowest priced system, which purifies shower and bath water only. It’s not intended for laundry water recycling. SystemII ($6,850) is the popular system that purifies shower, bath as well as laundry water. All the systems include the mounting brackets, bases, fittings, etc. Since I’m not a plumbing/water system expert, I would opt for the installation service. Reminds me of my Mario Brothers days!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

San Fran Launches iPhone Recycling App

Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco is one those mayor’s you don’t see everyday in our culture. As a big contributor to the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, he is surely making improvements on a city that is paving the way for diversity, expression and now environmental awareness. The CPA (Climate Protection Agreement) is designed whereby cities commit to take the following three actions: 1) strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets 2) urge state and federal governments to enact policies that improve emissions and 3) urge Congress to pass bipartisan greenhouse gas reductions.

Ok, now I know that’s a lot of politics for one morning for you. And you know how much I heart politics, too. (I truly do if you know me through E4S, ECOLakewood and City Council). However, I smell innovation and cool design in the air!! [Enter Hero here today]

Tada - the iPhone! Now, there is an application that guides and educates citizens on recycling efforts in the city of San Francisco. Why? Because this city has mandatory recycling and composting (wet and dry) as a city ordinance. This ordinance is an additional revenue stream for the city just like that for Toronto, Seattle and even Lakewood, OH. So this app helps you avoid a tiered-based fine/violation in the event that you forget to recycle, misplace your recyclables with garbage, or simply need recycling information. For example, do you even know where you would take your dinosaur TV that doesn’t work anymore? Or what about your blender or broken microwave? This app is designed as an educational tool to help the residents reduce, reuse and recycle.

Go iPhone! Go Sustaino! Were you a hero today?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Carpool Day

It’s Monday. You may or may not of had a tough time getting into work this morning. If you did; hopefully this picture is a friendly reminder that everyone can carpool (if you really, really want to make it happen).

Even my neighbor’s kids are making a difference. They put the pizza deliveryman to shame but picking up their own pizza and pop, TOGETHER!

Go Sustaino! Were you a hero today?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Das ist wunderbar

If you have never heard of the Phaeton or VW Transparent Factory, then this short video will open your eyes to a whole new world of car making. It answers why Americans buy foreign cars, it answers why innovation and design make such a difference and how customer service is still their bread and butter. I doubt that the American or Japanese auto industry will EVER be able to top this!! Whoever can get me a tour to this place, will be handsomely rewarded!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Here Fishy, Fishy...


Channel 3 News reported the other day that the Powerhouse will soon have a new aquarium. Oh snap! A real, live, cool aquarium in Cleveland? It's about time we have some economic good news. Thanks to Jacobs Investments (and many other supporters), a New Zealand based company was contacted, Marinescape NZ Ltd., to assist with design and implementation. It would be about 55,000 sq ft., which is bigger than Chicago's 44,000 sq. ft. building and smaller than Boston's 100,000 sq. ft. It's not about size. It's about bringing tourism to revitalize Cleveland, Ohio.

Go Cleveland! Go Sustaino!
Image Source: My aquarium visit to Portland, OR aquarium

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No More Yellow Books!

Today we received our fantastic yellow pages books (of course in the bright orange plastic bag!) My blood pressure started to boil. So, what did I do? I ran after the volunteer in my flip flops who was walking house to house and said:

Sustaino: “Excuse me, can I ask you a question, sir?”

Volunteer: “What do you want?”

Sustaino: “I’d like to give this back to you. We use Google for our telephone searches.”

Volunteer: “Fine, whatever…”

Sustaino: “Do you know there is a group in Lakewood called Bin Fairies that picks up after you drop these off to recycle every single one of those phone books? Many people don’t want phone books anymore – it’s a waste of paper.”

Voluneer: “Is that so, eh? Well, then call the telephone number.”

Sustaino: “Thanks, I’m going to opt of everything you drop off at my house. Cheers!”

It’s bad enough that I get a LARGE telephone book to my house. Not one, but two! Two damn books, two bunches of paper and twice the waste. What does this say about our community and green practices?

Were you a hero today? Go Sustaino!

Image Source: blog.jippidy.com

ECOLogical Intelligence

It’s visionary leaders like Daniel Coleman, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, that are helping us think about the triple bottom line of Profits, People and Planet. In this book, Ecological Intelligence (a new twist), his research draws us to “why” green is a mirage. He introduces new technologies, new transparencies, smarter decision making when it comes to shopping and buying, and ultimately reform that is most needed for business practices.

He hits on some deep points on the hidden price of what we buy. Download the free chapter 3 here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Portable and Off the Grid

Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.”- Al Gore, Nobel Prize winner, former Vice President

Well, let’s go off the grid! Better yet….go portable and off the grid!

Most solar and wind harvesting devices and turbines are big - actually more like enormous (e.g. satellites with solar panels), heavy, and expensive. As technology continues to advance, we have seen modern day markets and institutions adopt efficient, well-designed applications that scream “tax rebates” and social benefits. But...to be real! We want style, more money in our wallets and down right simple convenience.

It’s products like Pure Power, Noon Totes, and the GM-Segway Electric 2-seater that are listening to early adopters and paving the wave for innovative design.

What's your latest sustaino design that you have seen or developed?

Mini Moos

Did you know there are over 300 miniature cow breeds in the U.S.? Mini cows are the biggest new trends in livestock and farming today. These mini-moo-moos are not genetically engineered and they’re not even dwarfs. They are pure, original, and natural yummy bovines.

So what’s the big deal? Why invest in such a breed? Simple.

These gorgeous bovines eat less, produce more meat per head, cost less for farmers and can even fit in your lap or pocketbook at a small, young age.

Many farmers claim they receive 2 to 3 gallons of milk a day from 1 mini-moo-moo. Not bad for an animal that weighs 500 to 700 lbs. compared to it’s counterpart coming in at 1300 lbs. on average. Puts a whole new meaning on “Where’s the beef?”

Image Source: LittleMoos

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bust Out the Low Riders

Monday, June 15th is the 18th Annual International Motorcycle and Scooter Ride to Work Day.

Many motorcycle riders are still viewed as the odd balls on the highway (either with or without a helmet or eyegear). Yet motorcycles will someday be perceived as a widely recognized, good solution to social, urban and environmental problems. Europe and Asia today have already made advances toward electric motorcycles and scooters that are well designed, fuel efficient, safe and pretty damn sexy. I asked for a Vectrix V1 for Christmas, but Santa didn’t deliver!

And, the last time I remember being in an automotive “gridlock” was not cool. Even if you are carpooling or slugging in the D.C. pick-up line.

Image Source: Cleveland Moto Show 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

EcoRock Drywall

Kevin Surace suggests we rethink basic construction materials, especially drywall, to reduce the amount of carbon generated by the manufacturing and construction of our buildings. See the behind the scenes look at EcoRock, a clean, recyclable and energy-efficient drywall created by his team at Serious Materials.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mr. Rain Barrel Arrives

Christmas comes early! I finally got my rain barrel in place and it was just the right price – FREE! This barrel was basically an old soap container used at Progressive field. Management was either going to recycle it or throw it away. So I took the initiative to integrate it between my gutter and the vegetable garden behind the fence. Then, I picked up my diverter kit online from The Garden WaterSaver. Total investment so far is $25.00.

I think many people still don’t understand the benefits of rain barrels. For one, not all have of them have to be expensive. Some are aesthetically pleasing; yet can easily be portable or tucked behind a fence or stone barrier. The City loves it because during major storms less water rushes through the sewers reducing back-ups and overflows. Personally, I like it because I save water – simply that! Whether it is a lot of water or not, I don’t care. I just like giving nourishment to my vegetables, herbs, roses, and plants.

I also learned that the average roof sheds 160 gallons of rainwater per hour during a moderate rainfall. So I have a 50-gallon barrel – do the math!

Consume Less. Conserve More.

Monday, June 8, 2009

LEEDing the Way

The Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, which is home of the New York Giants and New York Jets is leading the way for green construction. The group recently signed on the dotted line with the EPA to apply LEED standards outlined by the USGBC to its various construction phases. Big deal you say?

Try building a structure with 40,000 tons of recycled steel (half of which came from the Giants Stadium). Your butt will sit on a seat comprised entirely of recycled plastic and scrap iron. And then the entire platform will use 25% less water.

Even with the marketing put aside, I hope the 80,000 visitors per game understand that recycling in the stadium is just as important as cheering for their green team.

Source: Fast Company
Image: Jet Kingdom Gallery Photo

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vertical Farms

Treehugger recently reported out on the Top 10 Droolworthy EcoStructures, and I absolutely agree with their top #1 choice.

The Dragonfly is a 2,000 foot tall strcture that is Belgium-designed along with a 128-foot vertical farm that is so very eco-chic. It comprises two towers that incorporate wind and solar technology for harnessing energy, while it’s wing-like, exoskeleton, dragonfly structure supports the greenhouse and gardens. The exterior vegetation allows for rainwater filtration and recirculation.

It truly is a self-sufficient design that is progressive, innovative and a mind-blowing icon. Read more here about the inspiration for the design based on the agriculture challenges that are present for many urbanites.

Photo courtesy of: Vincent Callebaut Architectures and Treehugger

Friday, June 5, 2009

Oh Snap, More Caps!

Interesting tidbit for all you recyclers out there trying to make less trash…

Aveda stores have launched a new initiative on “caps” – bottle caps not hair caps! They found that most caps on bottles and containers don’t get recycled. These notorious caps are simply thrown away only to build up in landfills, beaches and migrate over to the Trash Vortex.

This program is designed to accept caps that use the symbol #5 (a.k.a. polypropylene plastic). These are the ones you’ll recognize as a twist with a threaded neck on shampoo, water, milk, laundry detergents, and other beverage bottles. The bummer is that some items are excluded from collection such as pharmaceutical lids and non-rigid lids such as yogurt lids, and tub lids (e.g. margarine, cottage cheese). If you want to learn more about how Aveda is greening their runways for fashion models, designers and stylists...check here.


Image Source: Aveda.com and ntr23

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Something Smells Fishy

I’ve mentioned before in previous posts how much I enjoy Sushi. It’s my part of my top three favorite meals along with Sake, Vodka and Margaritas. (Sure some consider alcohol a meal just like tall, non-fat CafĂ© Lattes). Yet, aside from alcohol, Yo-Cos (Young Cosmopotilians) and even Boomers are becoming more conscious about their seafood selection. This is primarily derived from the on-going fishing practices that are depleting the fish, shrimp, eel, and shark populations. The challenge is ultimately creating a balance between protecting fishermen's traditional way of life and the impact on the fisheries.

More recently the Monetrey Bay Aquarium has put together a watch list of what types of Sushi and traditional fish should be avoided or at least “watched” in effort to raise awareness and save the oceans. There are pocket guides that help the average person make choices that support healthy and abundant oceans. Many are going as far as Action Cards, Thank you Cards, and Become Aware Cards.

For this day and age, our society seems to be more hyper about iPhone apps that are available to help us “make” decisions since our brains are already overloaded and we can’t make decisions for ourselves. I, for one, think it’s pretty damn cool. The app brings the latest Seafood Watch recommendations to your iPhone or iPod touch. It helps you make sustainable seafood choices quickly and easily. Believe me… at a time when the world’s oceans are severely overfished, your seafood choices make a big difference!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's on your roof?

Green living roofs offer more than just aesthetics. They are popping "up" on city rail systems, small homes, large condo complexes and even recycling stations. Many green roof systems are prevegetated, modular and functional. The story that homeowners and building managers are hearing is that that vegetated roofs offer the benefit of using recycled content, local sources, and innovative design. Yet, what most contractors are now emphasizing is coming down to two basic points:

1) The bottom line is that having a green, living roof system contributes up to 20 LEED certification credits (of course depending on the size of the roof and choice of features installed). That means tax rebates and social benefits!

2) More importantly, theses green systems reduce the cooling costs of major buildings and manage storm water runoff that helps to extend the life of the roof itself. In this down economy, who wants to pay for a new roof? Not a cheap buy.
Sure the list goes on about environmental benefits of noise reduction, fire prevention, water conservation, and energy conservation; however, ultimately this upfront investment will yield profit and savings in the long run.

Image source: www.liveroof.com

Monday, June 1, 2009

Foodperks

Giant Eagle's new green marketing strategy comes once again at the right time. The initial fuelperks!(TM) program that most folks are familiar with is designed to help shoppers save $.10 on every gallon of gas for every $50 worth of food that is purchased. Completing the circle of life and turning that frown upside down can be accomplished now with the foodperks!(TM) program. The idea is to buy 10 gallons of fuel and then you receive 1% off your grocery bill. Heck...just watch the video.