Day: August 4, 2006

Convert Your Car To Run On Ethanol With New Kit

Via Treehugger.

If you want to use 85 percent ethanol in your car but don’t want to buy a new flex-fuel vehicle, XCel Plus has released an adaptor kit for gasoline fueled cars. This Virginia-based company recently announced the product launch of the E-85 Ethanol FlexTek Adaptor Kit.

According to the company, once installed on a vehicle, this kit will allow the engine to operate on E-85 Ethanol or unleaded gasoline at the flip of a switch. The kit includes protection for the engine, plus a FlexTek Engine Adaptor. According to their website, the cost of the kit ranges from $500 to $700. The kit has already been used for years in Brazil. See this interview with Flextek CEO Bill Smith. :: Via Domestic Fuel

Four Out of Five Americans Want Solar Option for New Homes

Read the full post at Treehugger.

Right on the heels of evidence that more Americans are choosing to buy green power when it’s available comes news that 80% of US residents would also like to see home builders offer solar power as an option for new houses, according to a survey by Japan’s Sharp Electric Company (the world’s largest producer of solar cells).

Looking Nation-wide for Eco-Designer with Invention or Design in Process

Read the full post at Treehugger.

A message from TreeHugger HQ: First we were looking for an eco-inventor/designer near NYC, but now TreeHugger is trying to track down designers across North-America who are working on innovative eco inventions or designs.

Wind-Powered Electric Guitars? Sub Pop Records Goes Green

Via Treehugger.

Sub Pop Records has always been on the cutting edge of the music industry, discovering and giving rise to bands like Nirvana, Iron and Wine and The Shins. They’ve taken a step further, greening their operations by buying enough Green-e certified Green Tags (also known as renewable energy credits) from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to equal 100 percent of the company’s energy use.

To date, Sub Pop Records is the first Green-e certified record label company in the United States. Kelley Stoltz, an artist on the Sub Pop label, broke similar ground earlier this year when he used the Green-e tag to certify that his record, Below the Branches, was recorded using 100% renewable energy (we covered it here).

“Sub Pop has been synonymous with helping talented new artists support their passion for creating music,” said Patrick Nye, director of sales at Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “Now, Sub Pop Records is directing the same energy toward new, renewable sources of power.” Rock on, Sub Pop! ::Center for Resource Solutions Press Release, ::Sub Pop Records Press Release

Dwell Magazine: "Green Goes Mainstream"

Via Treehugger.

The good folks over at PrarieMod got their hands on an early copy of Dwell’s September issue, and it’s bursting with sustainable content.

Among others, the “Green Goes Mainstream” issue features Cameron Sinclair’s “Design You Give a Damn”, Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle, and is even printed on recycled paper.

TreeHugger likes to think that green has been going mainstream for awhile (we are two years old today, after all), but it’s always good to see more coverage of the burgeoning mainstream green movement. The more Dwell-type coverage of this kind of thing there is, the less time it will take until mainstream green becomes less newsworthy and just the way things work. We can’t wait. ::PrairieMod via ::Hugg

Flash Bricks: A Black, But Green, Building Material

Read the full post at Treehugger.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a new building material made entirely of fly ash, a waste product that comes out of coal-fired power plants.

Sustainable Products Roundup

Another week, another sustainable product roundup.

Earthshell’s Biodegradable Tableware (read the full post at sustainablog)

The plates and bowls are made from limestone; natural starches from potatoes and corn; fiber; biodegradeable/compostable coatings; water.A person using these items can rinse them off and throw them in the compost pile. Equally impressive is the life cycle of the products, which has been certified by Franklin Associates Ltd. as: consuming less total energy to produce (then a comparable product, I assume); using less fossil fuels to produce; producing lower greenhouse gas emissions; and producing lower amounts of a wide variety of air and water emissions.

Mandala Aroma – Organic Aromatherapy Products (via Treehugger)

For many of us aromatherapy massages are a rare luxury that we treat ourselves too when we need pampering. However Gillian Kavanagh, the founder and creator of the organic aromatherapy range Mandala Aroma, considers essential oils to be, well, essential.

In an interview this week with the Pecha Kucha ezine Gillian explains why she left her stressful life as a fashion buyer to start her own aromatherapy company. She tells us how being treated with aromatherapy has rescued her mental and physical health more that once in her life. “My passion for aromatherapy began many years ago whilst trying to cope with a stressful job as a fashion buyer, compacted with the sudden death of my mum and the suicide of a younger brother. Aromatherapy massages assisted me mentally, physically and emotionally.”

Gillian emphasises the importance of using the best organic essential oils and base oils she can find.” When you consider the skin to be the largest organ in the body and that it does absorb what you put on it, it makes you realise how important it is we look after it.”

Eco Bella’s Lipstick Tubes Get Recycled (via Treehugger)

Ecco Bella, an all-natural beauty company, is asking people not to toss those old lipstick tubes in the garbage. Instead, for the entire month of August, Ecco Bella invites you to bring any empty lipstick containers to any store that sells their products. Not only will they take care of the recycling but you’ll even get a coupon for a free tube of your favorite lip-smacking color. Ecco Bella will be turning the recycled tubes into basketball backboards and donating them to schools in need. You can visit their website for retailers. Via ::Health ::Ecco Bella

Cyclean Pedal Powered Washing Machine (via Treehugger)

I’d love to refrain from using the pat phrase “clean and green” to describe Cyclean, the pedal powered washing machine, but this thing really truly is. Invented by Alex Gadsen, the Cyclean was born out of frustration with waste and a hankering to tinker. The unit is constructed of used washing machine parts, a wheelbarrow and a bike. The machine is currently a working prototype, though Alex is looking for investors to help finance increase production. Cyclean is popular on the green event circuit and has been used for local demonstrations, and various local press and TV appearances. This could be the start of a whole new business concept – Laundro-Gyms! ::Via The Observer

Nature in the Garage (via Treehugger)

The Prefabfanclub has been abuzz about garden sheds, like Modernshed and Deck House, as they are elegant, affordable and beat many zoning laws. Of course, Garden sheds can also be prosaic and boring, like the workmanlike units from Royal Plastics. This week, Gallery 1313 and the City of Toronto are sponsoring Nature in the Garage, where ten artists hack the standard Royal sheds ” to provide viewers with an in-depth and stimulating learning experience about contemporary art in a non-traditional site”

The Ethical Travel Guide (via Treehugger)

Warning: reading this travel guide will induce reactions such as cringeing, shame and embarrassment. Side effects include making many readers look back in horror at the destinations of some of their holidays and activities once there. But it will also shed a whole new light on travelling and give potential travellers many new and wonderful ideas for alternative vacations.

Written in association with Tourism Concern, an organisation whose goal is to “fight exploitation in tourism”, it is a guide to ethical travel in an increasingly global market. It lists over 300 places to visit in 60 countries. For each country it gives a brief explanation of the terrain, big cities, and major activities. The guide lists places to stay, ethical tour companies and organisations to contact to arrange the visit.

Even if you aren’t planning a trip soon, it is inspirational to read about what people across the world are doing to make travel meaningful. Also included is a well-researched analysis of the impact of tourism. Issues such as displacement of local people (to make way for new hotels), water rations (to feed those green lawns at the hotel) and cultural loss (impact of tourism on tribal people) are examined. :: The Ethical Travel Guide

Triodos Green Credit Cards Launched (via Treehugger)

One more to add to the international list of green credit cards and the first one available in Europe is Triodos Bank’s ecological VISA credit card, launched last week in Spain.

Not only are these Visa credit cards made from PVC-free recyclable plastic, but Triodos also compensates 1 tonne of the client’s CO2 emission for free if the card is used more than 5 times a month. That’s the equivalent of driving 6000 km by car or the annual consumption of energy for heating and hot water of a one person flat. Plus with each first buy they plant a tree in their client’s name in the sustainable Triodos Forest in Albacete, Spain.

As the biggest European ethical bank, Triodos is consistent with their respect towards nature not only when it comes to cards but also for paper and office furniture. They managed to become 100% carbon neutral by saving energy, using alternative energy and compensating for any CO2 emissions.

The main differentiation between Triodos and ordinary banks is probably the fact that they only invest and finance social or ecological projects and businesses. Since they started in 1980 in the Netherlands they have opened branches in Belgium, the UK and Spain. ::Triodos Bank ::Triodos VISA card (Spanish only) & more on ::ethical banking

EuroLite Signatures: Glen Hunter LED Lights (via Treehugger)

The other day when writing about hemp-baled houses, we happened across the blog of Glen Hunter. He, and his family, live in a strawbale house off-the-grid. And and as such are very conscious of their energy load, including lights.

Glen was looking for some LED lights to reduce their power consumption even further. Not finding any to suit his needs, he gathered some parts together and designed his own. Showing his handiwork to Eurolite, where he’d obtained the bits from, they offered to sell three models under their Signature Series.

The Borealis models have acrylic surrounds, holding just four 1W light emitting diodes (LEDs). They send useful light downward, whilst shining through the blue sides for added atmosphere. Available through Eurolite, whom we last noted as suppliers to the BlueSkyMod prefab cabin. ::Eurolite, via The Strawhouse Blog.

A Model for Business Sustainability

Via sustainablog.

How do we convince business people who aren’t otherwise environmentally-conscious to green their operations? We show them the money they can save by investing in efficiency and waste reduction. Many of us have been preaching some form of the line for quite some time. Some businesses get it, while others write off such ideas as “radical environmentalism.” While browsing Hugg this evening, I came across a program by training and development company Inspiring Green Leadership that claims to be a model for getting many businesses in a community investing in efficiency and waste reduction through showing them the positive effects on their bottom line. According to its website, Saving Green by Going Green is an “accelerator” designed to work at the community level:

The Saving Green by Going Green Accelerator is a repeatable, five-month process for getting local small and medium businesses to dramatically lower their energy use –— and therefore their greenhouse gas emissions. It supports your community in introducing businesses to already existing local energy conservation programs and accelerating our independence of fossil fuels.

So far, a pilot of the program started in May in San Francisco. While the number of businesses invited to the one-day opening event was small, a large majority of them were interested in energy and waste audits by the local electricalutilityy and waste disposal company. I’ll try to keep an eye on results as they come in. In the meantime, check out the program — it’s pretty comprehensive, but looks like it attempts to not overwhelm business owners with information on everything they could be doing. Rather, they focus on energy conservation and waste reduction, and propose working with local programs. I like the idea of trying to stay close to most business owners’ comfort zone while pitching these concepts — that, combined with the money they can save, ought to attract plenty of attention. Cool idea… let’s hope it takes off!

Reid Announces Renewable Energy Schools Act

Via sustainablog.

As a big fan of bringing renewable energy technology to schools for both clean energy production and educational opportunities, I was very glad to read that my former Senator Harry Reid is proposing legislation that would allow school districts in Nevada and five other Western states to issue no-interest bonds for building renewable energy installations at their schools. According to the Las Vegas Sun (the better of the city’s two papers),

The Renewable Schools Energy Act of 2006 would allow Nevada school districts to issue $90 million in the zero-interest bonds. Arizona and Utah could issue $60 million each, and Montana, Idaho and Colorado could sell $30 million each.

School districts would compete for a share of the bond issuing authority. The money could be spent on projects such as solar panels or wind turbines, which could cut utility bills in growing school districts while teaching students about alternative energy sources.

“I like this bill a lot because it literally is a win-win for everybody – students, taxpayers and the environment,” Reid told reporters. “Nevada school districts, like others in the West, are certainly suffering from high energy prices, and all we have to consider is every dollar that we save on energy is a dollar we can spend” on teachers or other school needs.

The bill offers “a great potential for reduction of rising energy costs, but the learning opportunity for students is most important,” said Rose McKinney-James of the Nevada Renewable Energy and Conservation Task Force.

The focus on Western states may suggest election-year politics, but, boy, we could use more politicking like this. Hopefully, this program, if approved, will serve as a pilot for the rest of the country. Iowa’s had success with installing wind power at a few schools, so maybe focusing on the educational opportunities created by renewable technology will spark our leaders’ imaginations.

St. Louis #7 for LEED-Certified Buildings

Read the full post at sustainablog.

I’ve touched on the growth of green building in St. Louis on a number of occasions, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that we’re a “top 10” city in terms of the number of projects. According to an article in this morning’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, we rank #7 in the country in terms of the number of LEED-certified buildings.

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