A Simple Way to Reduce Landfills

The City of Brotherly Love has devised something to help eliminate annoying residential litter left on private property throughout the country.

The “Circular Non-Delivery” Decal(http://webapps.phila.gov/li/UpdDocs/No_handbills.pdf) is licensed through Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to stop the delivery of non-subscription circulars. According to the order form for this inventive litter disqualifier, by filling out and submitting the form to the city, residents will be able to “stop the delivery of all handbill circulars, including those which contain coupons.”

This simple decal allows the city to issue Code Violation Notices (read tickets) to anyone found leaving such irksome deliveries on private property that’s covered under a filed Non Delivery form. Owners can cover all their properties by listing them all on a single form.

Imagine how much paper would be saved and landfill waste eliminated if all municipalities were to adopt such a simple, binding ordinance? Something to definitely consider proposing at your next city council meeting.


Biodiesel with Your Turkey?

In a somewhat whimsical and innovative move, San Francisco is encouraging Thanksgiving feasters to recycle Thanksgiving turkey drippings by putting it into jars and taking them to local supermarkets like Costco and Whole Foods stores. These will then be collected and processed into biodiesel and methane to fuel city vehicles and create electricity.
San Francisco – a town rapidly gaining a reputation for innovation, conservation and things “green”, has been collecting and storing grease from 500 local restaurants since November 2007. A company will be selected shortly to turn this yellow “gold” into high quality biodiesel to run up to 1,600 of the city’s diesel vehicles.
According to a city spokesperson, the city will break ground in February 2009 for it’s own biodiesel production plant at a city sewage treatment plant.

The California Energy Commission is helping fund the city’s biodiesel program with a $1 million grant, along with funding from the EPA.

Just another way to cut calories and help the environment.




Wind and Solar Power Hit Times Square

Times Square's first soon-to-be wind and solar powered billboard.

Times Square

New York’s Times Square will soon see its first alternative energy billboard.

Ricoh Americans Corp., the office equipment and document storage company, will convert it’s 126 foot wide and 47 foot high electronic sign on the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue to wind and solar power.

The billboard will be fitted with 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels. Preliminary testing is currently being conducted at Ricoh’s Deer Park, NY warehouse. A lighting ceremony is scheduled for December 4th.

The converted sign will generate enough to power six homes for a year and could save the company as much as $12,000 to $15,000 per month in utility costs. This could translate to saving 18 tons of carbon emissions per year.

Though the gigantic sign is lighted with 300 floodlights, not LED’s, the company considers it to be “green”, sending a message to “other companies and the world that resources and energy can be used creatively,” Ron Potesky, a senior marketing vice president for Ricoh, said.

This eco-friendly move has its downside. On days without sun or wind, the sign runs the risk of going dark, a risk Ricoh has said they’re willing to take.

Kudos to Ricoh. This illustrates that a large corporation can maintain their advertising presence while doing something good for the environment.


Environmentalists and Congress see a Ray of Light

With President Bush creating a legacy of environmental devastation that would endure for years, a ray of sunshine has appeared.

A little-remembered law from Clinton’s administration would allow Congressional Democrats to reverse any of the current or last minute energy and environmental regulations Bush signs off on up until the final moments of his presidency.

The Congressional Review Act of 1996 allows any law finalized during the last six months of an Administration to be eliminated by a simple party-line vote by the currently Democratic-controlled Congress.

It’s an option, says an aide on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), that the committee’s considering.

The last time the CRA was used was, ironically, in 2001 to overturn a Clinton administration rule setting new requirements for ergonomic workspaces.

The new president could utilize the CRA to overturn many of Bush’s “midnight regulations”, becoming the first president in recent history to successfully do so.

This raises real possibilities for Obama to introduce an environmental energy policy that moves the U.S. forward in dealing with climate change.



Greening a City Part 3

San Jose’s (California) Green Initiative has taken being green to an amazing level.Striving to be America’s clean tech capital, they’re aggressively recruiting a green collar work force.

Continue reading

Greening a City Part 2

San Jose – the largest city in northern California – adopted its Green Initiative Plan in 2007. This ten point, 15-year program embraces three key elements – clean technology, sustainability & green mobility.

The Plan’s Goals are:

  1. Create 25,000 clean tech jobs, becoming the “World Center of Clean Tech Innovation”
  2. Reduce individual energy use by 50 percent
  3. Have 100% of electrical power coming from clean renewable sources
  4. Build or retrofit 50 million square feet of green buildings
  5. Create 100 % waste diversion from the landfill, converting waste to energy
  6. Achieve 100% wastewater reuse or recycling (100 million gallons per day)
  7. Approve a General Plan containing measurable standards for sustainable development
  8. Ensure all public vehicles run 100% on alternative fuels
  9. Plant 100,000 trees and replace all streetlights with zero-emission lighting
  10. Create 100 miles of interconnected trails

For more on the impact of these ambitious goals, see Part 3.


Technology that Helps Reduce Landfills

Traditionally, landfills receive a plethora of materials that could be recycled, if only there were resources available to assist in this.

Today, Novelis Corp. and PRFection Engineering are partnering to jointly offer technology to landfills and transfer stations to help recover more recyclable materials.

This technology will focus primarily on recovering aluminum cans and steel, though it could also include plastic bottles and other materials with some system improvements. As is, it will divert up to 15 percent of recyclable materials from landfills.

This system, the MiniMRF, has been used successfully in Central Ohio since August 2008. Novelis expects increasing interest in use of this technology.


This is an encouraging development and one that communities across the country would do well to investigate. For more info on this process, see www.minimrf.com 


Greening A City Creates Economic Rewards

San Jose, California is a town with a strong history of innovation and environmental leadership. After 2001’s infamous dot.com bust, the city experienced a severe economic downturn. Since then, they’ve essentially re-invented themselves, uniquely marrying their economic development with bold environmental programs.

They have created programs and policies they hope will be emulated world-wide.

“If we’re going to transform where we work and play, we have to transform the way our economy works,” said Collin O’Mara, Clean Technical Strategist for the City of San Jose.

The city has had sustainability as a principal tenet for twenty years. Going beyond your average recycling program, in 2007 the City Council adopted their 15-year Green Vision Program. This ambitious sustainability program encompasses 10 major goals, including creating 25,000 “green” jobs, utilizing only recycled water city-wide and mandating all public vehicles ran on alternative fuel.

For more on these goals and their economic resurgence, see Part 2.

No Oil Drilling Required

The past 10 months have seen Americans driving 78 billion miles less than this time a year ago. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters announced this amazing statistic, based on federal data released in August.
This was the largest ever year-to-year decline, with August’s 15 billion miles, or 5.6 percent less, being the largest decline in a single month.
A map of U.S. driving trends for August 2008
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel/tvt/trends/082008.cfm  is a stunning depiction of the drastic changes we Americans have made in our driving habits.

At the same time, ridership of public transit saw a 6.2 percent increase this summer compared to last year.

Perhaps with more Americans driving less and our clamor for more fuel efficient cars, the Big 3 will take notice and buckle down to creating “smarter” cars for the road, instead of clinging to the belief that big oil will continue to be king.

A Spray-on Solar Cell? Part 2

With solar cells increasingly in demand and volatile gas prices, along with world concerns over global warming, this breakthrough in solar technology shows great potential.
Traditional solar cells are made from silicon, a petroleum-based product. These tiny photovoltaics are created from organic polymers with the same properties as silicon. Its main components are carbon and hydrogen, prolific elements found in nature.

Lead researcher Xiaomei Jang and her University of South Florida team’s findings were published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. They showed a 20-cell array of about 1inch is able to generate 7 volts of electricity, roughly half the power needed to run a microscopic sensor for detecting dangerous chemicals and toxins.
Jang’s team is now working to refine the manufacturing process, hoping to increase output to 15 volts. She anticipates this “in a matter of months.”