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.”

A Spray-on Solar Cell?

A team from the University of South Florida has succeeded in creating the world’s tiniest solar photovoltaic cell, made of organic material.

Each solar cell is a quarter size of a grain of rice and can be dissolved into a solution that can then be sprayed onto a variety of surfaces – including clothing, cars, homes – as they’re exposed to sunlight.

A special spray gun would need to be designed to control the thickness and size of the spray.

So far, scientists have been able to generate 11 volts of electricity from a small “array” of cells, said Xiaomei Jiang, the lead researcher.

 

"Cool" can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas

Cool 2012 – founded by the Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN), a network of recycling professionals and activists committed to creating zero waste – is working to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases by being cool – removing Computable Organics Out of Landfills.

By helping to prevent methane in landfills and supporting sustainable agricultural practices, this national initiative has a three-pronged approach.

As paper comprises the largest portion of biodegradable material in landfills, Cool 2012 is committed to recycling at least 75% of all paper and composting the rest.

Separation of compostables, recyclables and residuals from business and residential waste is necessarily crucial to effectively reduce landfill waste.

Composting is a fast-growing movement. Community composting supports local farmers and sustainable food production. Adding organic compostables to soil adds vital nutrients, creating rich soil and healthier food. Amending soil helps reduce irrigation needs, decreases petroleum-based fertilizer use and increases water absorption.

Adopting Cool 2012

www.cool2012.com/cool would be an excellent step for communities to implement as they focus on increasing their sustainability practices.

“Cool” can Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas

Cool 2012 – founded by the Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN), a network of recycling professionals and activists committed to creating zero waste – is working to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases by being cool – removing Computable Organics Out of Landfills.

By helping to prevent methane in landfills and supporting sustainable agricultural practices, this national initiative has a three-pronged approach.

As paper comprises the largest portion of biodegradable material in landfills, Cool 2012 is committed to recycling at least 75% of all paper and composting the rest.

Separation of compostables, recyclables and residuals from business and residential waste is necessarily crucial to effectively reduce landfill waste.

Composting is a fast-growing movement. Community composting supports local farmers and sustainable food production. Adding organic compostables to soil adds vital nutrients, creating rich soil and healthier food. Amending soil helps reduce irrigation needs, decreases petroleum-based fertilizer use and increases water absorption.

Adopting Cool 2012

www.cool2012.com/cool would be an excellent step for communities to implement as they focus on increasing their sustainability practices.