Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How Much is the LEAF?

On March 30, Nissan finally announced the price tag for the 2011 LEAF electric vehicle. In select markets, you could be a new owner for $32,780, or wait until 2011 for the nationwide release. With aggressive pricing, other perks are available such as a $7,500 federal tax credit, and a bundle of state and local incentives are popping up - $5,000 statewide tax rebate in California, $5,000 tax credit in Georgia, and $1,500 tax credit in Oregon.

I must say that it is perfect timing given the recently media push of the Chevy Volt. When the Volt hits limited markets in CA, D.C. and Michigan, there will only be about 10,000 units with a similar price tag in the low $30,000 range. To see how how that test drive went, click here.

While all the manufacturers are advertising, investing and redeveloping battery technology, my big question is what is up with the MINI E? Where has my fine EV friend ventured off to this year? I was hoping the pilot fleet of 600 units in OR, CA and NJ would be successful enough to march ahead of Nissan. Please find the MINI E.

Image Source: Wired News

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Freshwater Factory

Design Crew for Architecture (DCA) has provided a proposal both technical and creative in nature for the 2010 Skyscraper Competition. Their entry, "Freshwater Factory" is redefines traditional buildings by incorporating circular tanks that house brackish water. The brackish water is delivered up the tower by tidal powered pumps for the greenhouses where the mangroves live. The mangroves are unique in that they are grow particularly well in brackish water and the leaves perspire freshwater. One hectare (or 2.5 acres) produces 30,000 liters of water a day. So if you can fill the greenhouses easily, you just need to add sunlight and you will have the formula for a farming solution and a skyscraper award.

Source: Design Boom 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ford Saves One Million Dollars

This weekend was Earth Hour where cities around the globe shut down the lights for one hour. But why can't we do this every night? Don't tell me it's a security feature because corporations are making big moves to improve security, save a buck and reduce carbon footprints by lots of metric tons.

Ford recently did and publicized its $1.2 million dollar savings.

Verizon did as well as Dell and AT&T.

What is their secret software? 1E's software solution. The internal shut-down program at Ford is called PC Power Management that centrally controls laptops and desktops to shut down in the evenings and on weekends. At the same time, the program ensures that computers connected to the Ford Intranet are able to receive software deliveries during off hours, decreasing downtime during working hours due to excess software loads.

Moving forward in 2010 just seems so easy. Consume Less. Conserve More.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Inventor Grant Ryan from New Zealand explains his revolutionary concept to steer a bike with your hands behind your body. Designed and constructed in Christchurch New Zealand, the YikeBike is the world’s smallest, lightest electric folding bicycle at less than 10kg. Yike Bike is planned to be shipped in 2010 for $4,500-5,500 USD. See video of various test drives here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where is my maker?

Struggling with its immortality, a discarded plastic bag becomes the main character (voiced by Werner Herzog). This hysterical Indie film shares the life of a good, ole plastic bag as he ventures through the environmentally barren remains of America as it searches for its maker, Mrs. Consumer. Bizarre, brilliant and interesting.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Water Hygiene

Remember the scene in Ghostbusters when Egon and his brilliant team activated the "magic black box" to capture Slimer and then soon after his other ghost buddies? Well, we need a super big box to capture four new dangerous chemicals in our water system. You can say they are bit like ghosts in that we can't see, feel, or taste them. Yet, when we whip out our tech-savvy devices, we can easily detect true crap that is lurking in our water supply giving us cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and more.

This is a big deal, especially when the EPA announces more strict regulations to remove these nasties from our water. Some of them you might recall.

Killer #1: TCE (trichloroethylene) - our government boys used this to clean nuclear missiles and was frequently dumped at nuclear sites. You can say it gives the washer that extra added Simpson green glow. It seeps into the drinking water from contaminated groundwater and surface water.

Killer #2: Tetrachloroethylene - is the other evil step-sister of TCE. A liquid-based agent often used for dry cleaning of fabrics. This powerful liquid is a central nervous system depressant known to dissolve fats from the skin.

Killer #3: Acrylamide is a water-based thickener. It is used during the water treatment process, papermaking, ore processing or when manufacturing dyes.

Killer #4: Epichlorohydrin is the last impurity that is introduced to our drinking water through the water treatment process. It is colorless, smells like garlic and used to make plastics and epoxy glues. Yummy!

Of course, I don't want these four compounds in my water supply, and I'm sure there are more unknowns swimming around in my water that I commonly use during my daily shower or evening cooking and cleaning. However, I also don't have a team of Ghostbusters checking to see what can be captured in the "magic black box". If that is not the responsibility of the EPA, who am I gonna call?

Source: Huffington Post

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Million Trees

I often hear that our planet is doomed. Our hearts are lacking the hope as the plastic bag counter continued to tick. We don't have the money, yet have all the technology, to clean up our landfills, and I say it is time to bring back that hope, challenge your community and make an impact for the next generation.

That is the mindset of Gashaw Tahir.

The Ethiopian man who fought deforestation by planting one million trees.

Change in Ethiopia is synonymous with man-made erosion. He started by going to city council and asking for 2 acres of land. They handed it over to him with no constraints and here is his story as he transformed his birth country. Don't tell me there is no hope in Haiti, Chile, and Iceland (as of late) because there is certainly hope on this planet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Tailpipe Pre-Orders

Competition is a beautiful thing. It boosts improvement, encourages efficiency and appears to be alive and well in the EV market. This means good news for Nissan and maybe bad news for Tesla Motors as pre-orders for the Nissan LEAF have just climbed slightly over 56,000. Not too shabby for a little EV with no tailpipe.

he Leaf ($25,000) gives its owner a 100-miles on a single charge with a top speed of 76mph. Even better it only takes 30-minutes for an 80% charge, which is much quicker than the Mini-E’s three hour plug charge.

gain, while competition is beautiful – one cannot get too cozy as rivals are on the heels of Nissan. Coda Automotive, headquartered in SoCal, is gearing up to release an electric beast with a 120-mile single charge, zero emission vehicle. Tesla Motors might have decent brand affinity, but it can’t hit the masses with production like Nissan.

And while production and technology go hand-in-hand, you can’t forget about the money factor of the equation. As these bad ass vehicles are unveiled at auto expos and more, you must consider the DOE’s $25 billion ATVM loans (Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program), which commenced in 2007. Nissan was fortunate to receive a $1.4 billion loan for the Leaf production, and Tesla received $465 million in loans. Exciting innovation is ahead of us. Be alert and watch the competition unfold.

Source: Fast Company, Earth2Tech

Sustainble Coffee Cup Contest

Coffee is like morning crack. We all enjoy some variety of it - leaded vs. unleaded (decaf), cream or no cream, and we can't forget the shots of flavor. But, what about the damn cup? [I hope you realize that I really wanted to type mug, which you loyal Starbuckers should be using.] Well, that is the exact challenge that Starbucks is putting on the table with a reward of $10,000 to the winner who can help the company serve coffee in reuseable or recyclable cups by 2015. The contest kicks off on April 1 and runs until June 15, enter here to compete. You can help Starbucks reduce the number of cups sent to the landfill and in return save them costs which might potentially reduce the price of their brewed specials.

Source: Fast Company Image Source here

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lucky Green

As we approach St. Patrick's Day for 2010, I'm sure you'll see those ever so popular "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons. Yet, I'd like to propose a green challenge for the sake of March Madness and honoring those sporty, athletic Sustainos out there who appreciate a good, green, Gatorade sweat.

Q. How many "green" items can you relate to sporting events?

For example:
1. The Green Wave Nickname of Tulane University.
2. The Green Monster at Fenway Park.
3. Putting on the green.

What else comes to mind?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flick of a Switch 2010

What began as a campaign to get city folks to turn their lights off, has grown to become one of the world’s biggest climate change initiatives. This year at 8:30pm on March 27, people around the world will turn their lights off for one hour. This is known as the famous - Earth Hour. The goal is to reach one billion people, more than 1000 cities, all joining together in a mass effort to show their respect to Mother Nature and take action towards global warming. (Yes, even save a buck here and there).

Originally, Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one hour. Only a year later and this event had become a global sustainability movement with up to 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

If you live in the U.S. and are on east coast time, then join Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 8:30 p.m. We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations. Let this be your early reminder and mark your calendars now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rise Above Plastics

Celtic Solar recently shared with me the Surf rider project, known as Rise Above Plastics. A short 30-second video with a powerful message. Nothing like a little biohazard with your morning surfboard. A definite jaw dropper.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Statistical Art

We read stats such as millions of tons, billions of dollars, and trillions of stars...but what does it all really look like visually? Can you imagine one million plastic cups used on airline flights in the U.S. every 6 hours?

Chris Jordan can.

A brilliant photographic artist who transforms numbers and statistics into visual metaphors making you truly think and rethink about your garbage habits. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris at the Opportunity Green conference at UCLA in November 2009. He illustrates the intolerable beauty behind our unsustainable consumerism of shit. From rough terrain such as the Garbage Patch of North Pacific Gyre to the coasting waters on the Plastiki of David de Rothschild (where is he?), Jordan's photography shows us a powerful perspective that is difficult to deny.

Source: Chris Jordan Photography, 2009 & 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holy Composter

Spring is around the corner, however if you did all the hard work of raking in the Fall time you just might save some coin and dirt needed for those yearly flower and vege gardens. Designed by a Japanese firm, Bakoko, who was inspired by the Japanese Tea Gardens, their Comploo is truly one heck of a sustainable super composter for the modern day urban farmer.

he key to the design is in the special decomposing compartments that line the walls. When food or garden waste is put inside, the heat generated by the microbial processes is circulated throughout the room. A glass ceiling acts like a greenhouse to capture heat from the sun as well. The concept is suited to large urban parks, community gardens, or even serving as an outdoor café - anywhere that generates a continuous supply of organic waste for fuel.

Yet one problem…swamp gas! Decomposing anything is just raw, ripe and oh so smelly. Once that minor glitch is redesigned (or otherwise harnessed), designers will release a new prototype in the future.

Source: Treehugger 2010