Friday, April 23, 2010

The conversation continues

I've moved the content for this particular site over to my Green Human blog at the Seattle PI. Click here for recent posts and I hope you'll join the conversation there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What does the Toyota Recall mean to the green movement?

Today's headline: 50,000 Prius recalled in Europe? Earlier this week: 155,000 Prius and Lexus vehicles in the US and more recalls reportedly on the way.

What is the effect of the Toyota recall on the green automobile movement?

In the smattering of Toyota owners I've talked to, most (at least on the surface) remain strong supporters of the brand. But the car business is a moving target and there are plenty of other brands out there that can claim legitimate 'turf' in the world of 'green" (eco) vehicles.

At last report, Hyundai and Ford were offering existing Toyota owners an additional financial incentive to consider their brands (called 'conquest' marketing in the auto business), while other brands, notably Volkswagen, Honda, Audi, Mazda, Nissan and even the beleaguered Chevrolet brands are there 'telling their green story'. But while the individual scorecard of these efforts wont be seen until the sales figures a few months from now, even at this moment one thing is clear. Toyota (if not already dethroned ) no longer fully owns the default position of 'legacy green' brand anymore. While you can defend, or you can criticize, the fact is, that as a consumer, you now have to now at least CONSIDER the myriad of other quality options that are out there.

This is good news. Not for Toyota, but for the environment. Because what WAS fringe now becomes more MAINSTREAM. It's simple, the more people TALK about environmentally smart choices, the more people will MAKE environmentally smart choices.

So while Toyota may (or may not) recover from this, all the conversation, and all the other very real, fuel efficient, competitively priced options not only translate into a win for the individual consumer, they collective add up to a win for planet earth. And that's good for everyone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010’s greenest cars

CNNMoney.com has a story about the ‘greenest’ cars of 2010. That’s fantastic, but what they fail to mention is the list only includes the greenest cars available in the United States. They also don’t include diesel-fueled cars, which are often more fuel efficient than the gasoline-fueled engines under our hoods. Of course, that could be due to the fact that diesel is more heavily taxed, pumped with expensive additives and not as readily available as gasoline. So much for breaking our addiction to foreign oil.

CNNMoney’s top 10 list of the greenest gasoline-fueled cars sold in the United States is also light on American-made options. The list includes the Honda Civic GX, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Smart ForTwo, Honda Insight, Ford Fusion/ Mercury Milan, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Mini Cooper, Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, Hyundai Accent Blue and the Honda Fit.

Prices range from $9,970, for the Hyundai, to $28,180 for the Ford/ Mercury. The cars average 38.42 miles per gallon on the highway and 33.3 miles per gallon in the city, with the Toyota Prius besting the rest in the fuel efficiency category with 48 miles per gallon on the highway and 51 miles per gallon in the city.

Read more here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

21 Acres Community Energy Meeting- Friday, January 29, 2010

21 Acres is hosting a meeting to explore opportunities to partner on energy-related projects. Opening this summer, The 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is an agriculture and energy center demonstrating cutting edge technologies and conservation systems.

field tractor

January 29. 2:00-4:30 p.m. Meeting at Sammamish Valley Grange. Locations: Sammamish Valley Grange, 14654 148th Ave NE, Woodinville.

 Direct objectives coming out of the meeting include potential movement toward: community solar installations, education/training lab facilities, an energy fair, green jobs, municipal energy policies, and more. Meeting participants include representatives from civic communities, energy and technology groups, the green building sector and higher education. 

The 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is an innovative, community-driven project that  serves as an agricultural and environmental learning center for people of all ages. It is an “agri-urban park” that is accessible to the whole community! 21 Acres includes a bio-diverse farmstead with trails for physical activity, community gardens, interpretive educational signage, and cultivated farm plots used to demonstrate sustainable and organic farming practices. 21 Acres educates both young and old about where our food comes from and how locally grown food plays a crucial role in a sustainable lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator and feel better



This from thefuntheory.com. The idea is simple.  Make being more environmental more fun and more people will do it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nissan Leaf is coming to Seattle and Bellevue this week!


Knowing my interest in Electric, Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, I got not one, but two invitations to see the new Nissan LEAF.
It's been coming for months and now it's here in the region. The Nissan LEAF is the new zero-emission, 100% electric vehicle which is part of the $100 million in DOE funding this area received in October to build charging stations around the Puget Sound area. As significant as the Leaf itself, is eTec, the company rolling out the electric vehicle charging stations in the Pacific Northwest.
Of special interest, a promised look at the nearly final battery and performance characteristics of the electric vehicle drive train. Here's what appears to be pretty good review and photos of the vehicle from autoblog.com

There is a public event this week as well - Thursday Dec 10 at Bellevue Square from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'Food Inc' makes me think twice about the 'green' implications of our food supply.


With 'eating season' upon us this seemed like a timely post.

I Watched the movie 'Food Inc." really impacted me in an area I'd had some concerns with - "the industrial food supply' and the idea that we, as a society have become increasingly removed from the producer and source of the our food. 

One of the central messages of the movie for me was the idea that not knowing where and how our food is produced means that we (both as individual and a society) can be eating lower quality food and food that contains things we don't want (hormones and antibotics in chickens for instance). 

The movie got pretty graphic at parts and I'm not here to review it (you need to see if for yourself).  But it does play into the 'green' sector in a couple of ways.  First, I'm a proponent of local and that applies to locally grown food.  Local is better because it should take less resources to produce and transport it.  One also assumes that buying the food direct from the farmer (in the case of a farmers market) somehow means that it's done more caringly.  At the very least I suppose it means you can ask questions.  And information is power in this equation.  And that's the second point, to be 'connected' to the food you are eating, This means understanding where it came from, how it was produced and many local stores (PCC for example) are now including this type of information with their products.  So if it's local, or if not, at least you have information about it, you're on the right track.

Beyond that, you can get involved in a local food co-op, or grow your own food.  While these opportunities are more limited, I've heard some pretty good first hand reports about the food co-op idea in particular.

Besides my love of all things automotive, I'm going to hit this topic from a couple of different angles over the next few weeks (since it's eating season).  And of course with my advertising background, I'm always on the lookout for 'greenwashing' and how the information presented can be verified by the consumer to add to actual value equation.

Bon appetite!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Next generation of 'Greener' Cars gets closer according to Seattle Electric Vehcile Association update

Knowing my love for alternative fuel, hybrid and EV's, I've been getting some different things sent to me and also from the web.
Here's a nice article from NW autos. that does a good job of categorizing some of the trends and providing a local update. Stuff is also happening just to South in the Rose City I'll grab some of that and include it in a subsequent post. Nissan is also beginning to release more on their "Leaf Battery' so it's a trend that thankfully is starting to gain some real momentum
On to the update with a few examples of how the city is advancing EV's as reported by the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association (SEVA).
Charging stations
The biggest buzz-generator appears to be the city's participation in a pilot project with Nissan and Phoenix company eTec to build 2,500 charging stations for electric vehicles.
The EV Project, which is funded by a $100 million U.S. Energy Department grant, will put 1,000 stations free of charge into the garages of people who buy a new Nissan Leaf electric car, expected to hit Seattle in 2010. The remaining 1,500 chargers will be placed in local public and commercial venues, such as shopping malls and park-and-ride lots.
Hybrid fleet
Seattle clinched the deal with Nissan and eTec because of the city's involvement in an Energy Department program to evaluate the use of plug-in electric hybrid vehicles in city motor pools, says Rich Feldman, who advises Mayor Greg Nickels on EV policy.
Nearly half of the city's compact and subcompact cars are hybrid gas/electric vehicles (mostly Toyota Priuses), giving Seattle one of the largest fleets of hybrids in the nation with 400, says Chris Wiley, the city's Green Fleets coordinator.
Largely because of its deployment of these green vehicles, the city won an "E-Visionary" award in May from the World Electric Vehicle Association.
Wiley says the new generation of all-electric vehicles, such as the Leaf, will be carefully evaluated for inclusion in the fleet. "We're absolutely open to that," he says. "For short trips they could be ideal, but we need to kick the tires on the vehicle first."
Greener transit
Before leaving to become the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, King County Executive Ron Sims worked to bring electrification to the region's mass-transit system. King County Metro Transit now operates 214 hybrid-electric buses and about 160 electric trolleys -- the buses that connect to overhead electrical wires downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods.
The city will receive 113 more hybrid-electric buses in 2010 to replace older models and to expand the fleet, according to Rochelle Ogershok, public affairs manager at the King County Department of Transportation.
"Seattle is one of three or four North American cities in the lead for the EV approach," says SEVA's Lough. "Vancouver, B.C., is another, along with San Francisco. We're set to become a guiding light for other parts of the country."

Friday, October 9, 2009

New partnership promises green jobs and greener wine bottles at South Seattle recycling facility.

A new Glass recycling plant in South Seattle promises 50 green jobs and new green glass containers made with double the amount of recycled glass.

eCullet, a technology-based glass recycling company, and Saint-Gobain Containers (SGCI), the nation's largest manufacturer of wine bottles, announced today a precedent-setting recycling initiative at the opening of eCullet's new South Seattle recycling plant.

eCullet is a state-of-the-art cullet (crushed recycled glass) processing facility located next to SGCI's glass container manufacturing plant. Its patented automated technology is based on a non-intrusive optical sorting of glass cullet. Considered the next generation of glass recycling technology, eCullet's process involves removing post-consumer waste glass from the recycling stream and converting it into clean, color-sorted, contaminant-free, furnace-ready glass cullet for glass container manufacturers to produce new "green" glass containers. eCullet will source locally from recycling programs in the greater Seattle and Vancouver, BC areas.

"We are proud to be part of the ever increasing community of companies committed to the conservation of resources," said Craig London, CEO of eCullet. "We are also excited to introduce about 50 new green jobs to the Seattle area."

Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly. Of the 8.4 million metric tons of glass containers sold in the US on an annual basis, only 25% is currently being reintroduced into the glass container manufacturing process, with the remaining 75% being diverted into landfills or other secondary uses. eCullet's technology has the potential to dramatically increase the recovery and use of recycled glass.  

"By using eCullet's ground-breaking technology, Saint-Gobain Containers aims to increase the amount of recycled content used to manufacture new glass containers at our Seattle plant from 17% to 35%, with the potential to increase more in the future," said Peter Walters, Vice-President of Purchasing and Distribution for Saint-Gobain Containers. "Since we produce about 350 million bottles per year at this plant, this is a critical step to help us reach our company-wide goal of using 50% recycled content by 2013."

The environmental and manufacturing benefits of recycling glass include: reduced air emissions, increase of furnace life, 4-5% reduced energy usage for every 10% increase in cullet (the increased recycled content in Seattle will result in a 9% reduction in energy usage), and reduced need to use raw materials in the manufacturing process.

The environmental benefits of the technology extend to customers as well. SGCI's Seattle plant's largest customer in the Pacific Northwest is Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. The increased recycled content in SGCI's bottles allows the Winery to further reflect its own commitment to sustainable practices.

eCullet is a technology-based glass recycling company founded in Silicon Valley.  Its goal is to reduce the cost of glass recycling and make it financially attractive for all parties involved to recycle glass such that the consumers, the environment, regulators and container manufacturing companies all benefit.

Saint-Gobain Containers Inc. is the second largest glass container manufacturer in the United States and serves the wine, beer, beverage, spirits and food container markets with 13 strategically located plants.  It is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, an international industrial group based in Paris, France, and the largest glass manufacturer in the world.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Geothermal Energy - Free energy from the earth. Waterfurnace at the Go Green Showcase.


I've spend a lot of my Green blogging life talking about energy.  Whether it's biofuel or electric vehicles, wind farms, my firm belief has been that anything, ANYTHING that reduces our use of fossil fuel is a step in the right direction. Conservation is good, but it's only going to get us so far.  Fundamentally, we need to change the SOURCES of our energy.

What if I told you that for a one time investment, you could generate enough power to heat your home, and run many of your appliances for FREE?  And what if I told you that- other than the initial investment- it didn't consume any resources and created virtually no pollution?  Sounds pretty darn interesting, doesn't it?

It's called Geothermal energy.  No, I'm not talking about hot geysers, I'm talking about using the natural qualities of the earth to make energy. It's called a 'geothermal comfort system' and was the subject of the first seminar at the Go Green Expo yesterday from manufacturer 'Water Furnance'

Basically, the way this technology works is you put a special PVC type pipe under the ground in your yard (reported to last 55 years) and using the constant temperate of the earth (50-55 degrees) running water through this pipe runs a heat exchanger that generates electricity using the differential of the ambient temperature and the temperature of the water.  You are basically building your own little turbine generator. 

What impressed me most was how efficient and simple this is.  According to presenter Sean Dillon, a geothermal loop of this kind produces significantly more kw than wind or solar.  So it costs way less money to set up and every one dollar you throw at it gets your four or five dollars of energy.

This is technology you can buy today, and take advantage of a 30% tax credit, while it's still in effect.  Many municipal utilities also offer rebates or other savings.

Remember, ir you're a typical homeowner, about 40 to 60 percent of your total energy bill is for heating cooling and hot water.  The biggest opportunity to save money is to increase the efficient of your heating and cooling system.

The seminar will be repeated Sat at 3:30p and Sun at 12 noon at the Go Green Showcase inside the Everett Home Show so you can go find out for yourself or you can get more information here.

Go Green Showcase - Guest Speaker Schedule

The Go Green Showcase opens today as part of the Everett Home Show (see post below) I'm heading up there now.  Meantime, here is the guest speaker seminar schedule for the weekend.

Friday    1:30p    Geo thermal energy
Friday    2:30p    Saving energy with LED lighting
Friday    3:30p    Designing sustainable stones
Friday    4:30p    New green jobs in Washington

Saturday    11:30a    PUD energy challenge
Saturday    12:30p    Geo thermal energy
Saturday    1:30p    Designing sustainable stones
Saturday    2:30p    Saving energy with LED lighting
Saturday    3:30p    Geo thermal energy

Sunday    11:am    Green cleaning
Sunday    12pm    Geo thermal energy
Sunday    1pm            Residential energy efficiency
Sunday    2pm            Geo thermal energy
Sunday    3pm            Designing sustainable stones

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Go Green Showcase- Comcast Arena Everett- This Weekend!


For those of you wondering where the heck I've been, I apologize. As some of you know, Green Human was granted a sponsorship in the new 'Go Green Showcase' happening as part of the Everett Home Show this weekend at the Comcast Arena in Everett, and so we've been pretty darn busy putting together this first ever 'green' event of it's kind in Snohomish County.

To that end, we've given a number of 'grants' for deserving green businesses. Here's a partial list of who's there, courtesy of Green Human: 'E-waste' (computer recycling), Everett Community College (Classes on Sustainability), Tim's Bike Shop, Novel Homes and Green Homes of Washington (Green Builders), Northwest Wigglers (Composting and they have a worm display for the kids), Winter Sun Design (Solar Energy). Of course there are lots of other 'green' businesses there as well, as well as an entire Home Show where many of those businesses are spotlighting their sustainable offers.

There are green seminars including: Geothermal Energy for your Home (Sean Dillon), , Savings Energy and Dollars with LED Lighting (Randy King), Designing Sustainable Stone 101 (Aaron Cohen), Green Jobs in Washington State (Miguel Hernandez), Why you Should Join the PUD Energy Challenge (Laura McCrae), and Green Cleaner and the So-What Factor, (Robert Goodwins).

There's also a green activity section for the kids with all kinds of fun 'green' activities sponsored by Kids N Us which includes: Brown Bag Scrapbook, Egg Carton Caterpillars, Paperweight Rocks, Green Goo Factory, Free Form Recycled Art, and Newspaper Rubber Stamp.

A big thanks to everyone that helping to make this happen, we couldn't do it without you.

The event happens October 2nd-4th at the Comcast Arena in Everett. I'll be hanging around the seminar stage for a good portion of the time twittering (twitter.com/greenhuman) stop by and say hi.

Ticket information and more details can be found here.