Category Archives: World Greening Trends

The True Value of Green

By David Peri

Green is the leaves and needles of healthy, thriving, living forests.  Green signals best environmental efforts conserving Nature.  Green is the color of the American dollar.  Green performance wastes nothing – not energy, nature, health, materials, time or money.

The latest 5th generation German WeberHaus home construction matches your unique architectural design with high-quality aerospace CAD/CAM construction, sustainable natural materials in the hands of certified master-craftsmen to produce arguably the Greenest homes in the world.  These homes marry the best possible technology, materials and craftsmanship producing verifiably a moral home for centuries of living in harmony with Nature, adding value and saving money – not at one step, but at every step.  This Green performance is measurable – from start to finish – for a home built for generations, as aesthetically beautiful and delightful to live within as it is morally in harmony with Nature without. Here, Green is the best, fastest, strongest, healthiest, natural, moral and money saving way to build on earth.

Objective Green Advantages

Four verifiable ways measuring Green value:

  1. Empirical, scientific advantages inside and out delivering measurable savings of time, health, money, energy and materials;
  2. Subjective emotional advantages from living within aesthetically beautiful spaces flooded with natural light and materials delighting the senses – supporting greater productivity and harmony;
  3. More healthful living where natural organic materials grown and harvested sustainably provide a living environment free of those common building materials known to produce harmful gases aggravating asthma, allergies and other ills;
  4. Increased ethical living by knowingly not sacrificing the future – of your own future great grandchildren – of the earth’s resources and other living creatures – by rising above the common selfishness of the modern consumptive lifestyle.

Green isn’t an empty colorless boast.  Independent, 3rd-party verification of each and every Green performance claim is available.  These Green home advantages are measured in lifetimes – yours, your family’s, your neighbor’s, and the rest of the world outside your home.  These homes produce healthy environments – inside and out – delivering value measured to anyone willing to take the time to look and see.  This is a Return-On-Investment that saves money, time, health, energy, materials and something more valuable – the future.

Sustaining a healthy thriving earth isn’t an impossible utopian dream but a choice.  Standing on the shoulders of centuries of advancement, today a 21st Century home is available using best practices to deliver the best possible shelter for those who can’t afford anything less.

Green is a simple color, meaning the best, most valuable, without apology, waste or excuse.

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U.S. on track to double renewable energy capacity: Biden

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. government stimulus spending has put the country on track to double renewable energy production capacity by 2012 and halve solar power costs by 2015, Vice President Joseph Biden said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s stimulus spending poured $814 billion into the U.S. economy, including more than $100

Reuters – Solar panels sit on the roof of SunPower Corporation in Richmond, California March 18, 2010.

billion for science, technology and innovation projects.

With Energy Secretary Steven Chu by his side, Biden unveiled a new White House report estimating the impact of the Recovery Act funding on American innovation in transportation, renewable energy, broadband, smart electrical grids and medical research.

Biden said the stimulus funding would lead to breakthroughs in many of those areas.

“The government plants the seeds. The private sector nourishes and makes it grow,” Biden said. “And in the process, if we’re as innovative as we’ve been in the past, we launch entire new industries.”

The report outlined a goal of doubling renewable energy capacity from the 28.8 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal sources installed as of the end of 2008 to 57.6 GW by the end of 2011, which would be enough to power 16.7 million homes, or 55 million electric cars, for a year.

The manufacturing goal is to double the 2008 level of output of 6 GW of renewable equipment like wind turbines and solar panels to 12 GW at the end of 2011.

Solar power now accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity generation, while wind power produces almost 2 percent.

The cost of solar power is expected to be on par with common grid electricity by 2015, while the cost of electric car batteries is expected to fall by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015 and be competitive with common car batteries.

In May, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the U.S. stimulus money put up to 2.8 million people to work and raised U.S. gross domestic product by up to 4.2 percent, but predicted the impact would taper off in 2011 and 2012, after peaking later this year.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Walter Bagley)

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FTC Green Guidelines May Leave Marketers Red-Faced

Experts Say Pending Guides Could Upend Efforts, Make Some 300 Environmental Seals of Approval Unsustainable

By Jack Neff   August 23, 2010 adage.com

BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) — Attention marketers: Within the next few weeks, you may be recasting your entire green-marketing strategy.

Right now on the desks of Federal Trade Commissioners is the new set of so-called Green Guides that are used by the FTC to guide enforcement of existing laws. They are the first environmental-marketing guidelines in 12 years and could radically reshape how far marketers can go in painting their products, packaging or even corporate images green.

Christopher Cole, an advertising-law specialist and partner with law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Washington, said the guides could render most of the more than 300 environmental seals of approval now in currency on packaging and products largely useless and possibly in violation of FTC standards. They could also influence efforts, seemingly stalled, by retailers such as Walmart to institute a sustainability-rating system for products.

The guides are expected to tighten standards for packaging claims such as “recyclable” or “biodegradable”; regulate how marketers use such terms as “carbon neutral”; and how quickly and close to the source of carbon output “carbon offsets” must be executed, among other things.

They may also attempt to define such legally and linguistically squishy terms as “sustainability” or tackle the central issue of many “greenwashing” controversies — trying to define how far companies can go in painting themselves as green in advertising when they or their products also have detrimental environmental impacts.

A spokesman for the FTC said the commission is on track to meet its schedule of issuing updated guidelines by the end of summer, and that they’re likely to cover areas that were the subject of FTC workshops over the past three years, including carbon offsets, packaging claims and environmental seals of approval.

“I would expect that they’re going to require more concrete showing of environmental benefits, and insubstantial environmental harm associated with anything that wants to claim green, friendly or eco-conscious terms,” he said. To the extent it’s been undefined, the bar has been pretty low.”

Almost certainly issuance of the guidelines will increase enforcement and litigation around green issues, Mr. Cole said.

Some of that will come from the FTC itself. During the first two years of the Obama administration, the FTC has already brought seven environmental advertising enforcement actions, compared to zero during the eight years of the Bush administration.

It’s unclear whether the new regulations will favor any one class of advertisers over another, Mr. Cole said. But an increase in litigation or arbitration of green claims could favor bigger marketers in a space where many key players remain relatively small independents, such as Seventh Generation and Method. The bigger players have bigger pockets and in-house counsel to handle litigation.

Spokespeople for both those companies said they’re following the development of the Green Guides closely but have no predictions on how they’ll look.

The Green Guides aren’t new laws; rather, they’re an update of how the FTC will interpret its mandate to enforce longstanding laws against unfair and deceptive advertising. Still, the spokesman said the FTC will treat them like other new regulations, publishing them in the Federal Register and instituting a comment period before they become final.

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Empire State Building Goes Green, One Window at a Time

By David Roth

A fifth floor space inside the Empire State Building has been transformed into a cramped window-making workshop.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How does a Depression-era skyscraper go green? For the Empire State Building, which is in the middle of $550 million renovation that includes about $100 million in energy-efficient upgrades, all 6,514 windows must be replaced. And that’s no easy task.

As The Journal’s Anton Troianovski reports, the greening of the iconic 79-year-old tower has become a platform for Anthony Malkin, the real-estate scion who runs the building, to criticize as insufficient popular programs for assessing the environmental sustainability of buildings. If the world follows the U.S. lead on energy use, he told the audience at a real-estate panel earlier this summer, “We’re all going to die and we’ll go to war along the way.”

For the Empire State Building’s windows, Malkin brought in Serious Materials to handle a pane-by-pane upgrade. The Silicon Valley-based building materials company is transforming the old, inefficient windows into “super-insulating” units, a sort of glass sandwich that combines the existing panes with a mixture of inert gases and film. The finished product is a window anywhere from 250% to 400% more efficient than the windows they replace, according to the company.

“Dirty little secret: double-pane windows aren’t all that efficient,” says Serious Materials CEO Kevin Surace.

The replacement windows, which use what Surace calls a “suspended film system,” break up the convection current between the inside and outside of a building. That means less heat sneaks in through the windows on hot days when the air-conditioning is running, and warm air from inside has a harder time leaking out when it’s cold outside.

The team of workers tasked with the window upgrade spend their days removing, cleaning and re-fabricating the building’s 12-year-old double-pane windows. The process, which began in March and is expected to run until October, is projected to reduce solar heat gain by more than half and save $400,000 each year in energy costs.

The window work is being done on site, in an office-turned-workshop on the Empire State Building’s fifth floor. Malkin estimates that keeping the process in-house saves $2,300 per window. The Serious Materials workspace buzzes between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m., processing 75 windows per day in a space roughly the size of a Manhattan apartment. The room is so snug that engineers for the project had to shrink some of their equipment to fit in the space.

Keeping the workshop on site ensures the windows are out of their frames for just about 20 hours before the upgraded window is ready. The process is designed to keep waste at a minimum: just 4% of the building’s existing windows are being discarded, and only the gasket surrounding the original windows winds up in the trash.

Workers remove the windows from office spaces at night and bring them downstairs to the workshop. Once there, the windows are removed from their frames and peeled apart like Oreo cookies before being cleaned. The first cleaning is manual, using razor blades and pumices, followed by a wash with a chemical solution and finally water.

The deconstructed windows are then fitted with new steel spacers, treated with a metallized film and baked flat in an oven at 205 degrees. The windows are then sealed with a mixture of Kyrpton and Argon gas. Finally, the upgraded windows are put back — with the help of careful but firm malleting — into their original aluminum frames.

The on-site re-use and refabrication of the Empire State Building’s windows is unprecedented on a project of this size. But Paul Rode, the project executive from Johnson Controls Inc. who is overseeing the retrofit, believes it could become a popular model in the industry. “I’m never waiting for product. If a problem ever comes up, we don’t have to call someplace that’s 500 miles away,” he says. “Logistically, that’s just what you want in the construction business.”

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Britain Curbing Airport Growth to Aid Climate

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
The New York Times: Published: July 1, 2010

In a bold if lonely environmental stand, Britain’s coalition government has set out to curb the growth of what has been called “binge flying” by refusing to build new runways around London to accommodate more planes.

Citing the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, abruptly canceled longstanding plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport in May, just days after his election; he said he would also refuse to approve new runways at Gatwick and Stansted, London’s second-string airports.

The government decided that enabling more flying was incompatible with Britain’s oft-stated goal of curbing emissions. Britons have become accustomed to easy, frequent flying — jetting off to weekend homes in Spain and bachelor parties in Prague — as England has become a hub for low-cost airlines. The country’s 2008 Climate Change Act requires it to reduce emissions by at least 34 percent by 2020 from levels reached in 1990.

“The emissions were a significant factor” in the decision to cancel the runway-building plans, Teresa Villiers, Britain’s minister of state for transport, said in an interview. “The 220,000 or so flights that might well come with a third runway would make it difficult to meet the targets we’d set for ourselves.” She said that local environmental concerns like noise and pollution around Heathrow also weighed into the decision.

Britain is bucking a global trend. Across North America, Asia and Europe, cities are building new runways or expanding terminals to handle projected growth in air travel and air freight in the hope of remaining competitive.

That growth in traffic has been damped but not halted by hard economic times, and in the current global recession, business concerns have generally prevailed over worries about climate change. In the United States, Chicago-O’Hare, Seattle-Tacoma and Washington-Dulles all opened new runways in 2008.

On Tuesday, Kennedy International Airport in New York reopened its Bay Runway — one of four, and the airport’s longest — after a four-month, $376 million renovation that included the creation of two new taxiways to speed plane movements between runways and terminals.

Airport expansion plans have sometimes been modified or canceled because of concerns about noise or ground-level pollution. But Peder Jensen, a transportation specialist at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, said that as far as he knew, Britain “is the only country that had made a conscious decision based on climate considerations.”

Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports and a major connection point for destinations in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East, is already notorious for its flight delays and endless lines. It is the only airport of its size with just two runways; Paris-Charles de Gaulle has four and O’Hare has seven.

So even though the Conservative Party had been expressing growing reservations about the planned expansion since 2008, many businessmen were shocked when Mr. Cameron canceled the plan after coming to power in a coalition with Liberal Democrats.

“This is a new government that claimed to be business friendly, but their first move was to eliminate one of the best growth opportunities for London and the U.K. and British companies,” said Steve Lott, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association. “We’ve run into a shortsighted political decision that will have terrible economic consequences.”

The British government counters that the economic effects of scrapping the third runway are “unclear” while the environmental costs of adding one are unacceptably high. Ms. Villiers said that a high-speed rail network intended to replace short-haul flights would be a better way to address the airport’s congestion than adding a runway.

“We recognized that just putting more flights and more passengers into the skies over southeast England wasn’t worth the environmental costs we’re paying,” she said. “We decided to make Heathrow better rather than bigger.”

Although it is often said that emissions from air travel account for 2 to 3 percent of global emissions, the proportion is higher in many developed countries: emissions from aviation are growing faster there than those from nearly any other sector.

The British government has calculated that aviation emissions accounted for just 6 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2006. But it concluded in a report that aviation could contribute up to a quarter of those emissions by 2030.

In the United States, the number of general aviation hours is forecast to grow an average of 1.8 percent a year, and to be 60 percent greater by 2025 than it is now, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. While airlines have worked hard to improve airplane efficiency, those efforts are dwarfed by the upward trend in flying.

Citizens’ groups in communities near Heathrow fought hard for nearly a decade against the airport’s runway expansion, complaining about noise and nitrous oxide pollution. As climate change became a more potent political issue in Britain several years ago, environmental groups with broader concerns jumped into the fray, camping out at Heathrow and occupying runways at smaller airports, shutting them down for hours.

“If you were a politician, how you felt about the third runway became a test of your commitment to dealing with climate change,” said Ben Stewart, communications director for Greenpeace U.K.

The temptation to expand airports is great for cities in search of new business and tourism. Airports in Europe are now mostly run by private companies, and for them, the more traffic, the more profit.

Some critics say the British government’s principled stand is pointless because airlines and travelers will respond not by forgoing air travel but by flying through a different airport. Instead of emissions being reduced, the critics say, they will simply be transferred to places like Barajas Airport in Madrid or Frankfurt International Airport, which have recently been expanded.

“My personal opinion is that the decision concerning Heathrow’s third runway was highly politicized and outpaced the science of what that runway might or might not do in terms of emissions,” said Christopher Oswald, a vice president of Airports Council International, an industry group. He suggested that a third runway might actually reduce emissions above Heathrow, because with less congestion, planes would spend less time idling on runways or circling in holding patterns.

But Dr. Jensen of the European Environment Agency said that building roads or runways generated more traffic in the long term because greater convenience draws people to a route.

Leo Murray, a spokesman for Plane Stupid, an environmental group that has fought new runways, called the British government’s decision “a turning point for aviation” although he added, “It is uncomfortable to have the coup de grace delivered by the Conservative government.”

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EPA Kicks Off Nationwide ‘Green Capitals’ Initiative

By GreenerBuildings Staff

Published June 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is offering comprehensive technical assistance to state capitals for the design and development of more sustainable neighborhoods — ones that incorporate green building and infrastructure to foster social, economic and environmental benefits.

The program called Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaborative effort involving the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Under the program, design teams provided and funded by the EPA are to work with the cities to transform neighborhoods into models of sustainability.

The program is competitive and as many as four capitals will be selected to participate each year. The EPA announced the program last week and invited letters of interest to be submitted no later than July 9. The capitals chosen for the inaugural year will be announced in the fall.

The new program is the latest example of a growing effort to make communities more sustainable. 

In April, the U.S. Green Building Council launched the LEED rating system for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) as a national benchmark for community design. USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi has described LEED-ND as the vision for “the next generation of green building thinking” and an opportunity to apply lessons learned from individual green buildings to entire neighborhoods.

The unveiling of the Greening America’s Capitals program came on the heels of the annual U.S Conference of Mayors meeting.

In their 78th annual session, the mayors approved numerous resolutions on energy and the environment, including measures supporting policy and efforts to make communities — and the buildings in them — greener. In resolutions praised by the USGBC, the mayors:

  • Signaled their support for sustainable development in cities by calling on Congress to adopt the Livable Communities Act, the Enhancing Livability for All Americans Act, or similar legislation. The group also said it backs full funding for the Sustainable Communities Partnership in the president’s budget. In a separate measure, the mayors said they will continue working with the EPA, HUD and the DOT to advance the agencies’ partnership and its principles. 
  • Called on local governments to adopt Green Building Codes and the International Green Construction Code. 
  • Recognized the benefits of energy financing districts in making commercial and residential energy efficiency retrofit possible. Called on state lawmakers to adopt legislation enabling the establishment of such districts and mechanisms that include Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds and Benefit Assessed Clean Energy (BACE), Clean Energy Assessment Districts (CEAD), contractual assessments, sustainable energy financing and special tax districts.
  • Called for its members to partner with local school districts to implement green initiatives. 
  • Supported green affordable housing and financing by calling for Congress to adopt the Green Act, the Energy Efficiency in Housing Act or similar legislation to modernize the U.S. housing market through energy efficient  and location efficient mortgages.

The full text of all the resolutions is available at http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/78th_Conference/adoptedresolutionsfull.pdf

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/epa-kicks-off-nationwide-green-capitals-initiative#ixzz0uE7J57UP

Image of Boston buildings CC licensed by Flickr user David Paul Ohmer.

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America’s Electric Car Capitals

America’s Electric Car Capitals
Joann Muller, Forbes.com 06.21.10

DETROIT — Virtually every major automaker is preparing to introduce some sort of plug-in electric vehicle in the next few years, but how and where will they be recharged? Without a network of convenient charging stations, many consumers are reluctant to embrace battery-powered cars. (Forget how much the technology will set you back.)

Eager to be at the forefront of the electric car era, some cities are preparing faster than others. Places like Portland, San Diego and Seattle, for example, are collaborating with carmakers and local utilities to map their strategies. But it’s not just the usual West Coast cities leading the way. Indianapolis is positioning itself as the Midwest’s electric car capital, and cities like Nashville, Raleigh and Tampa are busy getting plug-in ready, too.

In Raleigh, the city and surrounding Research Triangle area are working to streamline the permitting process for residential charging stations, and they are studying an electrification plan for freight trucks.

Tampa’s metropolitan area, with more than 2 million people, is debunking the myth that EVs will be ushered in only by West Coast cities. Tampa has joined Project Get Ready, a national nonprofit initiative by the Rocky Mountain Institute to help cities prepare for plug-in electric vehicles.

Indianapolis is home to advanced battery maker EnerDel, and a nearby factory that will produce Think City electric cars. The city is emerging as the Midwest’s leading plug-in hub.

Nashville, meanwhile, is the North American headquarters for Nissan ( NSANY – news – people ), maker of the battery-powered Leaf. So it’s a natural hub for electric vehicles.

But there are risks in getting too far ahead of the EV movement. Even some of the most ardent supporters of electric vehicles are scratching their heads at London’s audacious plan to install 25,000 charging points throughout the city–essentially a charging station within a mile of every citizen.

“The worst advertisement for an electric vehicle is a charging station that isn’t being used,” says Michael Rowand, director of advanced customer technology for Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy ( DUK – news – people ), which supplies electric power to 4 million U.S. consumers. Communities need enough public chargers to reassure those suffering from “range anxiety” that they won’t be stranded with a depleted battery, he said, but not so many that people conclude EVs are useless.

It’s not just a case of installing a few public charging stations in front of City Hall. To be plug-in ready, cities have to make sure utilities can handle the extra load, right down to individual neighborhoods, and that car owners can upgrade their home electrical system, if needed, without a lot of red tape.

“Permitting can be a bit of a nightmare,” said Mathew Mattila, manager of Project Get Ready, an initiative founded by the Rocky Mountain Institute. Just ask consumers in New York and California who bought BMW’s Mini-E electric cars last year. “People had an EV sitting dead in their garage for months because they couldn’t get a permit for a charging station,” he said. “It was a great flop, but it was also a good learning experience.”

To accelerate development of electric vehicles, the U.S. Department of Energy is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs in select cities. The EV Project, for instance, is a $100 million effort to deploy 4,700 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles and 11,210 chargers in five states: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Tennessee. It is headed up by Ecotality, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based maker of charging systems. Coulomb Technologies, another charger company, received a $15 million DOE grant to provide nearly 5,000 charging stations in nine cities: Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, Redmond, Wash., and Washington. Ford Motor ( F – news – people ), General Motors and Smart USA are partners in that program.

Installing public charging sites is expensive. General Electric ( GE – news – people ), which also makes chargers, estimates that for every dollar spent on charging equipment, another 50 cents could be spent on electrical system infrastructure. That doesn’t even include the cost of digging up sidewalks and parking garages to install the units.

Right now, public chargers are mostly for show, anyway. Most EV owners will charge their cars at home, overnight. But even this is not as simple as it sounds.

Most electric cars can plug into a regular, 120-volt household outlet–fine for short-range EVs or plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt. (It’ll take about eight hours to charge a Volt to its full 40-mile range. A backup gasoline motor will provide extra miles, if necessary). But for pure EVs, which have bigger batteries, charging on a 120-volt outlet will take too long. Most EV owners will want a 240-volt outlet (used for appliances like electric stoves or clothes dryers) instead. If your home isn’t equipped, you’ll need to have an electrician rewire your garage–and install the charger, which could cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500. (The government will reimburse 50% of the costs, up to $2,000.)

Super-fast chargers–480-volt plugs capable of having your car juiced up in 20 minutes or so–will be available in select cities, but until U.S. standards for those quick-charge connectors are set, availability will be spotty.

Utilities at the forefront of EV readiness efforts, including Southern California Edison ( SCE.PR.B – news – people ) and Duke Energy, say there is plenty of juice available on the grid to power electric cars. But if all the early adopters are concentrated in a handful of cities, that could strain transformers and switching equipment at the local level. The trick, utilities say, will be encouraging people to charge their vehicles at off-peak times so that there’s enough electricity to meet peak demand on hot summer afternoons.

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