Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

This video is about an EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College in the small town of Swannanoa just outside Asheville, North Carolina. The Warren Wilson College is seeking LEED Platinum certification for their EcoDorm.


Al Gore challenges the United States to switch to renewable energy sources in 10 years. The former Vice President challenges the next administration to spearhead the effort.

GM Goes Solar

General Motors (GM) recently announced that they were adding the world’s largest, rooftop, solar power installation to its car assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The solar installation will have 85,000 solar panels covering about 2,000,000 sf of roof space, it will generate about 15.1 million kWh of power annually, and it will cost $78.5 million. Additionally, the solar panels will avoid about 7,000 tons of emissions each year, and it the installation should be completed in Fall 2008.

According to The Daily Progress, State Farm has added a green roof to its regional heardquarters in Charlottesville. State Farm’s 367,000-square-foot building on Pantops will have Creech and Weinstephaner Sedum on a small 1,500 square foot corner of the roof. The green roof will reduce rainwater runoff, cool the building in the summer, warm it in the winter, and increase the longevity of the roof.

A few months ago I berated State Farm for releasing a commercial that poked fun at people riding bicycles to work. It look as though they are using the green roof to clean up the agency’s image among environmentally conscious people. It’s a good start, but I’m not buying it. I don’t know how many levels the State Farm building is, but it seems as though the 1,500 square foot green roof will only cover a small fraction of the building’s roof. I’ll be impressed when they cover at least 50% of their roof.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking — I don’t want to wash my hands with the water I use in the toilet. But why not? The water we use in our toilets is actually the same water we drink out of the faucet (unless you’re into bottled water).

We have a toilet sink at my work and I think it’s great. You save water and it forces you to reconsider how you use water for other daily chores. Why do we use clean drinking water in our toilets? Why do we use our clean drinking water to water our gardens?

Even if you’re not a fan of the toilet sink, you have to admire it because it makes you think about your daily water consumption.

Eight colleges have been awarded U.S. Green Building Council grants for programs that teach about sustainable construction:

  • Cornell University received a grant for a program in which students will go out of the classroom to understand the broad scope of green building practice.
  • The Eastern Iowa Community College District received a grant for a green-construction-technologies program it is creating within its Renewable Energy Systems Technician program.
  • Grand Valley State University received a grant for its comprehensive campus sustainability program, which is intended to engage students and the community.
  • Santa Fe Community College received a grant for an online course to visually document the entire process of building an energy-efficient house that generates its power off the grid.
  • The University of Maine at Farmington received a grant for a program that uses sustainable buildings on the campus to teach students about green building.
  • The University of Texas at Austin received a grant for a program in which students will create innovative and sustainable housing located in Austin’s alleys.
  • The University of Virginia received a grant for a program in which students create sustainable, modular, affordable housing units.
    • ecoMOD: A multi-year research and design / build / evaluate project at the School of Architecture, in partnership with the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science. Over the next several years, UVA students and faculty are designing and building several 400 to 1,500 square foot ecological, modular and affordable housing units.
  • Yavapai College received a grant for its residential-technology building program.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a Farm-to-School program to get more locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables into the diets of school teachers, students, and employees. The Farm-to-School program will bring farmers and schools together in a common goal to attack the problem of childhood obesity and provide better nutrition through consumption of fresh produce. The agency has created a website to match farmers with school food service directors.

Currently, Virginia schools spend approximately six million dollars on fruit and vegetables. The Farm-to-School program will open the door for more of that money to go to Virginia farmers so that they can sustain their agricultural operations. Todd P. Haymore, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner said that “this is a win-win situation for Virginia’s children and for Virginia’s farmers.”

The Buy Fresh, Buy Local movement is growing in Virginia, and the Farm-to-School program will only bolster it. However, I would like to see the program take the local food initiative a step further. The program should provide funds for schools to create community gardens. The gardens would be on school grounds, and students, teachers, parents, and members of the surrounding community could help grow the crops and harvest the produce. The community garden would be interactive classrooms for the students as they could learn first hand how to grow food and eat healthy. Furthermore, the gardens would give parents, teachers, and community members the opportunity to socialize and participate in school-wide activities.

Where would they put the gardens? How about on top of the schools’ roofs. Ever school I’ve ever been to has had a flat roof — perfect for green roofs. So, why not combine a green roof with a community garden. The students could learn about food and green technologies, and the schools would benefit from nutritious produce; healthy, active students, faculty, and employees; and energy savings.

Remember, you are what you eat.

One of the biggest drawbacks of solar panels is that they’re rather difficult to install. To address this issue Lumeta has developed a “peel and stick” solar panel called the Lumeta Power-Ply 380. These panels only take about 30 minutes to install as they don’t require mounting systems like most solar power systems. Unfortunately, the flat roof style installation loses about 5% of the power production because it’s not in the ideal position to catch the sun’s rays. However, the easy installation process might be worth this energy deficiency.

The recent innovations in solar technology is very promising, and I think solar will become a more viable option as the technology decreases in price and increases in efficiency. Plus, when you have companies look Google investing in solar technologies, only the sky is the limit. I’ve seen solar panels incorporated into shingles, window blinds, brief cases, and backpacks — you can always find a new place to stick a solar panel.

Thanks to JetsonGreen for sharing this product.

This TED Talk features New York Times food writer Mark Bittman. Mark Bittman is a bestselling cookbook author, journalist and television personality, and in this talk he weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk.

The bottom line: we need to eat less meat, less junk food, and more plants. We don’t need meat to survive, and we certainly don’t need junk food. We need to reform our agricultural practices and eating habits so that we can return to a more natural and healthy way of living.

Trees are the lungs, water filters, and air conditioners of our cities as they clean the air, purify surface water, and cool urban heat islands. According to the article “The Power of Trees — Investing in Natural Capital” by a Virginia Tech research group, trees provide more than $400 billion in stormwater, air quality, and energy benefits every year in the United States.

On a smaller scale, a large tree in your front yard can save you about $29 in summertime AC costs, absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants, intercept 760 gallons of rainfall in its crown, and clean 330 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Furthermore, trees are good because they…

  • Increase property values
  • Enhance aesthetics
  • Make us feel safe
  • Block bursts of wind
  • Provide wildlife habitats
  • Have a traffic calming effect
  • Decrease aggressive behavior
  • Reduce stress
  • Provide a space for children to play
  • Create buffer zones
  • Provide shade
  • Increase community pride

So, plant a tree and reap the rewards!