Friday, September 5, 2008

Boston Turns Off the Lights to Save Energy

Boston has long been the home for revolutionary ideas in this country so it's no surprise that it would be one of the first major metropolitan cities to break new ground in energy conservation. How are they doing it? By turning off the lights. Property owners, acting at the request of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, have agreed to shut off the lights at 34 skyscrapers from the Back Bay to the South Boston waterfront - a move that will save about 25 percent in energy used for lighting. The pilot program - which involves extinguishing the lights above the 30th floor between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. - will continue through Oct. 31, but city officials said they expect to make it a permanent program at all high-rise buildings.

"If you drive around the city at night, you see a lot of wasted energy with lights being kept on late into the evening," said James Hunt, Menino's chief of environment and energy. "We're trying to target the tallest buildings and reduce unnecessary electricity use."

The initiative, by far Boston's most aggressive effort to reduce energy use, comes as cities around the world have tried to raise environmental awareness by turning off the lights for one hour on a designated night. Boston could become the first city to keep them off year-round, if the program catches on the way officials hope.

The effort, dubbed Lights Out Boston, comes as Menino prepares to host a national green building conference in November, when more than 25,000 people will flock to Boston to discuss cutting-edge environmental policies. In 2007, the mayor set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012 and to cut them 80 percent by 2050. Reducing lighting in buildings also reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, associated with the production of electricity.

Photo by Eric Hill via Flickr.

Eco Friendly Paper Doesn't Require Trees

Very soon you'll notice a change in the paper you're using, or maybe you won't. That's because some industrious Canadian manufacturers have developed paper made, not from wood, but from wheat straw.

The straw used in the paper is the refuse from grain production and makes a product that's nearly indistinguishable from traditional paper made of wood pulp. Indistinguishable from regular wood-pulp paper, printed products made of a percentage of wheat straw are notable not for their tactile qualities, but for their sustainability implications. As agricultural waste, wheat straw is perennially renewable so long as people farm. As a product, monetizeable wheat straw provides a diversified income stream for farmers. As a source of paper fibre, it takes pressure off the forests that traditionally supply pulp, and the species that inhabit them.

Photo by Bernat Casero via

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What are you willing to give up?

So, I'm searching the internet looking for interesting news and such when I come across an article from titled The Tradeoffs of Going Green. It's a fairly decent article mentioning what a wealthy couple gave up to 'Go Green'.

It really made me start thinking about what I would give up? Michael Hoffman, this wealthy coal-fired power plant (click here to see an example of how a coal-fired power plant operates) owner, sold his company to help 'Go Green'. I can't even shorten my showers. I do own an Oxygenic's showerhead (the best high efficiency showerhead on the market, I might add ;~) ), but how much more water could I really be saving if I shortened my showers?

Of course the story isn't just about what this couple gave up. It is about what we would all have to give up or trade to 'Go Green'. It will be tough for all of us if we really want to go the distance. I would rather fight the good fight, then wake up one day and the world I know is no more...

Paper That Isn't Recyclable

Most people think that when you recycle something, 100% of the time it is recycled; that is not true. If one thing is contaminated in a bag of recyclables; the entire bag will not be recycled and it will end up in a land fill.

paper is recycled by mixing shredded fibers in with water to make new pulp. One major contaminate is oil. I'm sure everyone has heard water and oil don't mix. If you recycle something with oil in it, you will get new paper with oil stains. Perfect example is a pizza box. Most people see the cardboard box and think it's recyclable but the fact of the matter is, that it's not recyclable because of all of the oil that has absorbed into the box. So instead of contaminating all of the recyclables just throw it in the garbage.

Paper that has previously been wet is also not recyclable. The reason being is the exposure to water shortens that papers fibers; making it much less valuable. A good example of wet paper would be newspaper. If it was left in the rain or thrown on the dewy grass; it is no longer recyclable; and is now just garbage.

When recycling paper products, you don't have to bother with the staples, paperclips or even adhesive envelopes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

HP Gets It Done With Innovative Packaging

As companies look for innovative ways to reduce packaging and freight costs, HP has emerged as one of the leaders. Building on its early adoption this past April of the US EPA's SmartWay program to utilize fuel efficient transportation for some of its products, HP is venturing into new packaging ideas with the release of its Pavilion dv6929 laptop.

Not only will this product do away with individual boxes and conventional packaging, it will be sold in a reusable Messenger Bag made by HP from 100 percent recycled materials. This product/packaging combo won the Walmart Home Entertainment Design Challenge by successfully reducing its packaging by 97 percent while also conserving fuel and reducing CO2 emissions. Walmart estimates that the configuration will reduce their shipping needs by 25% on this product, or the equivalent of removing one out of every four trucks previously needed to deliver the notebooks to Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations around the country.

Examples like this will hopefully lead to more creative ideas and broader adoption of new practices that will serve the environment as well as the bottom line - all while showing a 'can-do' attitude on improving our planet.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Turning Waste Into Gas, Oil or Energy

I was on the Environmental News Network website, when I came across an article stating that there is a tofu factory in Indonesia where they are turning the waste from tofu into energy. This got me to thinking, what other random things can be turned into gas, oil or energy?

In 2007 Popular Science had a "Best of What's New in 2007" and one of the inventors featured was a man named Frank Pringle. He has found a way to take random things such as a piece of tire, a rock, or a plastic cup and make natural gas and oil from them by using a microwave emitter. The article says that you can do this with anything that is made at hydrocarbons, which is almost everything.

It is really interesting to find out that pretty much everything around you can be turned into gas, oil or energy.