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Find Anything on Google, Except Maybe Their Large Carbon Footprint

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footprint-green-businessesGoogle has been a carbon neutral company for seven years, and every year around this time they calculate and publish their carbon footprint so they can make sure to offset it completely. Today Google updated the Google Green website with their 2013 carbon footprint so we can see it for ourselves. They also made another announcement relevant to green businesses, communities and our environment. In ironic contradiction to the old song, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” the search giant announced that it will put a 82MW solar power plant on top of an old oil and gas field in Kern County, Calif.

“There’s something a little poetic about creating a renewable resource on land that once creaked with oil wells,” said Google. “Over the years, this particular site in California has gone from 30 oil wells to five as it was exhausted of profitable fossil fuel reserves. The land sat for some time and today we’re ready to spiff things up.”

The new deal with SunEdison will generate enough energy to power 10,000 homes. It may not be a paradise, but does mark the 5th major green investment in the Golden State. This raises the number of renewable energy investments made by Google to 17 since 2010. Total Google Green Business bucks amount to more than $1.5 billion. “We’re continually looking for newer, bigger and better projects that help us create a clean energy future,” the company said. “The more than $1.5bn we’ve brought to these projects to date not only helps provide renewable energy to the grid and to the public, but as they perform, they allow us to invest in more renewable energy projects. This cycle makes financial sense for Google and our partners while supporting construction jobs in local communities and clean energy for the planet we share.”

“Talking about sustainability is a popular marketing tool, but Google has made renewable energy and environmental protection part of both its corporate identity and its operations in a way that is unique in corporate America.“ – Associated Press

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September 10, 2014 |

What’s Good for the Environment can be Great for Business

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I enjoy learning about how I can help the environment and staying up to date on which green businesses are playing a role in this revolution. My understanding of why everyone needs to contribute to this solution continues to branch out in many new directions as well. From reducing to reusing to recycling, this century’s eco-friendly innovators have helped pave the way for a growing awareness about environmental concerns that is sweeping the globe. Here are some examples of how green businesses are helping create a cleaner and safer environment.

Plastic Reduction

Advinylize

Advinylize repurposes vinyl from billboards.

The most basic way people can start helping clean up the environment is bringing their own bags to the grocery store. Instead of choosing between paper and plastic bags, both of which create a strain on the environment, bringing your own cloth bag is reusable, reducing the need to cut down trees and drill for oil, which is where plastic products come from. Several U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Honolulu now ban plastic bags. Here are some companies that offer reusable grocery bags:

 

Greener Buildings

green_building-1PG&E confirms on its website that green certification can boost a company’s economic value. The utility company reports there has been a gr owing trend in recent years among businesses–particularly retail outlets and hotels–to gain LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). These green businesses are accomplishing several goals at once, by lowering energy costs due to consuming less energy, consuming less water, reducing the amount of maintenance and lowering greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional commercial buildings. A recent Harris poll found that 64 percent of adults prefer to patronize establishments with green certification.

 

Solar Energy

I’ve been fascinated with solar energy for decades, but it has only really been in the past decade that solar has entered mainstream consciousness. One of the companies paving the way is Apple, which is building solar farms for its data centers. Google has also invested millions of dollars in helping develop solar plants. Germany announced in June, 2014 that 51 percent of its energy now comes from solar power, setting a global milestone. The world’s top producer of silicon solar panels is Suntech from China, according to ExploringGreenTechnology.com. The solar manufacturer now has a presence in 80 countries and even launched a U.S. factory in Arizona in 2010. Other leading solar manufacturers that are paving the way toward harnessing energy from the sun are:

  • First Solar
  • Sharp Solar
  • Yingli Green Energy
  • SolarCity
  • Sun Power

 

Electric Cars

BMW-i3-electric-carAt one time in the late 1990s it appeared that the electric car was dead. It was criticized for its slow speed and inability to travel long distances without recharging. Tesla, however, has changed all that. In fact, the electric car maker’s Model S can travel over 200 miles before recharging and can go just as fast as conventional cars, without polluting the environment. In 2013 the Model S achieved the highest ratings of any automobile in history from Consumer Reports Magazine (scoring 99 out of 100). While it is a high priced luxury electric car for early adopters, more affordable electric cars that also run on lithium batteries include the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Tesla is a company started by Elon Musk, who also founded the home solar installer SolarCity, which additionally builds charging stations for electric cars. This company has developed an innovative business model that integrates electric cars with solar homes as charging stations. Swiss bank UBS recently predicted that utilities will eventually become backup power sources to solar energy.

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September 9, 2014 |

20 Universities That Encourage Green Living

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1) Nanyang Technical University – School of Art, Design and Media

- The architectural structure of this building maximizes interior daylight, makes smart use of lack of space and land in the local area, minimizes materials, and uses lower water and electricity uses.

 

 

 

 

2greenuniv2) Yale University – Kroon Hall

- Kroon Hall at Yale University is made from 80% certified timber, 16% recycled content. Also, 34% of the purchased materials came from regional sources. As a result, there is an 81% reduction in annual potable water use, which saves an average 500k gallons of city water a year. They are also seeing a 61% reduction in energy use compared to a similar building and program. It features rooftop photovoltaic panel providing 25% of the building’s electricity. Half of the red oak paneling came from a forest in northern Connecticut that’s managed by the school itself.

 

3greenuniv3) Carnegie Mellon University – Gates and Hillman Centers

-This building features extensive day-lighting and a green roof with heat exchange system and rainwater collection. In addition to “green roofs” and sustainable materials, space for common areas has been maximized to encourage collaboration and innovation.

 

 

 

4greenuniv4) Salzburg University of Applied Sciences – Kuchl Campus

- The Salzburg University of Applied Sciences’ Kuchl Campus puts the school’s focus on “timber, design and sustainability” into practice. Timber construction is combined with a high-performance envelope and natural day-lighting to bring the building’s energy use down to less than 15 kWh/m² per year (a fraction of the average use).

 

 

 

5greenuniv5) Cornell University – Human Ecology Building

- During construction, 1050 tons of waste were diverted from disposal to recycling. The building is 91% of the wood used is certified sustainably harvested and 60% of the furniture has been salvaged and refinished. There are many different plants involved with the building. Showers and bike-racks are available to encourage riding bicycles to class. They even offer preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles and electronic vehicle charging stations. Not to mention, Cornell’s building uses daylight harvesting architecture, which boosts productivity and mental health.

 

6greenuniv6) New Mexico Highlands University – Student Center

- Some green highlights of this center include exploring energy-efficient geothermal technology to heat and cool the building, high efficiency lighting, architectural shading of south glass by metal sunshades, using renewable source woods, water harvesting, using low-water trees to shade the courtyards, and much more.

 

7greenuniv7) Karolinska Institute – Future Learning Environment

- This school focuses on lots of natural light and even has what’s called a “living wall” inside the building. This wall is covered in plants and helps with air quality.

 

 

 

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8) Clarkson University – Student Center

-This building utilizes locally produced concrete blocks that are more economical, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly than traditional ones. This project also used 20% recycled glass.

 

 

 

9greenuniv9) Rice University – BioScience Research Collaborative

- This health and medical research facility incorporates air quality monitoring and a vegetative green roof. 75% of construction waste was recycled, and ground water from under the parking garage irrigates a nearby baseball field.

 

 

10greenuniv10) Central Oregon Community College – Science Center

-The design team for this center specified high-performance glazing for the buildings to control UV rays. They primarily used cedar, which is what they have in central Oregon, and concrete – local and natural materials.

 

11) Arizona State University – College of Nursing and ISTB-4

-This school uses low-flow fixtures, solar water heating, minimized resource use, local building materials,and natural day-lighting.

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12greenuniv12) University of Queensland – Global Change Institute

- This institute focuses on solar energy and natural ventilation. Builders used Geopolymer concrete, which is produced with lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional concrete.

 

 

 

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13) University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School – San Francisco

-Wharton School uses natural lighting (with arched and large windows) and renewable and recycled materials.

 

 

 

14greenuniv14) University of California, Davis – Student Health and Wellness Center

-This center features a green roof designed to absorb harmful UV rays; and focuses on health and wellness (always a topic appreciated by Green Businesses).

 

 

15greenuniv15) California State University Chico – Wildcat Recreation Center

-CSU, Chico uses waterless urinals & low flow fixtures; as well as, exercise machines that generate power and other solar power means.

 

 

 

 

 

16greenuniv16) Boston University – Student Services Center

-This center offers composting services and uses ground/storm water retention, low flow fixtures, and natural day-lighting.

 

 

 

 

17greenuniv17) EWHA Womans University

-EWHA Woman’s University loves natural daylight, natural ventilation, and garden roofs.

 

 

 

18greenuniv18) New York University – Department of Philosophy

-The design incorporates a new skylit stair shaft and a curvilinear auditorium with a cork floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19greenuniv19) Mills College Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business

-This building structure conserves land space, optimizes sun exposure, and harvests & recycles rainwater.

 

 

 

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20) University of Pittsburgh – Chevron Annex

- This building was built atop the existing Ashe Auditorium Lecture Hall. Green features include more than 95% recycled construction and demolition waste, low-VOC paints and carpets, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

 

 

 

What makes your school green-friendly?

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2014 |

A Tesla in Norway? King of the Road for 1/2 Price.

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In the United States, a @TeslaMotors will run you $70,000 or so. But Norway is an ideal market for Tesla because of the country’s embrace of electric vehicles, the fact that it’s a wealthy country and because the government heavily taxes gasoline-burning luxury cars. Because the Model S is electric, Tesla can take advantage of a Norwegian tax regime that makes the Model S the least expensive luxury sedan in the market. At half the total price of comparable luxury cars like the Porsche Panamera S or the Audi S6, a Model S bought in Norway is a bargain.

  • No tax for EVs
  • Free Charging
  • Free Parking
  • No Tolls

World traveler Rick Steves explains in this video from Norway this week.

As a percentage of total market share, electric cars are more popular in Norway than anywhere else in the world. So it’s no wonder Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) made the country the focus of its global expansion plans early on.

tesla-tilburgIt’s been 12 months since the company began delivering its Model S sedans to Norwegian customers, and it looks like Tesla did well to focus on Norway.

According to OFV, Norway’s automotive industry association, the California electric car manufacturer has sold an average of 436 Tesla Model S sedans a month for the past year, up from about 357 units a month last November. Since the car went on sale in the third quarter of 2012 the company has sold about 1,630 units a month in the United States.

This article originated International Business Times.

August 28, 2014 |

U.S. Federal Buildings Brace For Deep Energy Retrofits

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Beth Buczynski for Earthtechling

Actions speak louder than words. At long last, solar panels are returning to the White House–a symbolic endorsement of renewable energy if nothing else. At the same time, a National Deep Energy Retrofits program (NDER) is poised for implementation in federal buildings around the country. Congressional bickering aside, our revenue strapped government can’t deny that efficiency goes a long way when money is tight…something they’ve been telling the rest of us for years.

NDER is a collaboration of the General Services Administration (GSA), the nation’s largest public real estate organization, and the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP). It aims to speed up deep energy retrofits on federal properties, putting the U.S. in a better position to meet its energy-use-reduction targets (yeah, we have those!).

 

Frank_M_Johnson_Federal_Building
Image via US Gov.

The GSA manages more than 7,000 properties that provide workspace for some 1.2 million federal employees. The magnitude represents massive challenges as well as big opportunities. Unsurprisingly, federal buildings are allowed almost zero budget for energy efficient upgrades. But there has been progress. In the past few years, “the energy savings on GSA retrofit projects have more than doubled, from 18 percent to 39 percent, with a few projects surpassing 60 percent,” writes Cara Carmichael for GreenBiz.com.

Moving forward, the organization is working to implement a greater number of energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs). In simple terms, an ESPC is a partnership between a Federal agency and an energy service company. The company performs an energy audit on the federal building in question, identifying improvements that will have the biggest impact on consumption. The company then designs the project, arranges funding, and guarantees that the improvements will generate energy cost savings sufficient to pay for the project over the term of the contract, which can be up to 25 years. After the contract ends, all additional cost savings accrue to the agency. In essence, an ESPC allows a property with no budget to finance improvement in advance using the eventual savings from said improvements.

But ESPCs alone won’t turn take our government from energy hog to energy saver. “Approximately 1/3 of energy use is driven by occupant behavior, which is a big opportunity for ESCOs and GSA alike,” explains Carmichael. “While ESCOs can install the submetering equipment and train operators and occupants, it is uncommon for the ESCOs to remain deeply involved with the operation of the building. Occupant energy-reduction programs require ongoing engagement to overcome staff turnover, maintain momentum, and align the incentives.”

 

 

September 13, 2013 |
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