Follow by Email

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arpin is winning an award from Audubon tomorrow for our sustainable accomplishments, including creating Renewable Now

Back from CA (wait till you see some of the great shows, reports from the West Coast trip), and  proud tomorrow to accept Audubon's business of the year here in RI.  We are honored, humbled, inspired to do much more.

Here's a reminder of the great work they do on behalf of us all:

About Us

Audubon's Mission: To conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.
For more than a century, Audubon has built a legacy of conservation success by mobilizing the strength of its network of members, Chapters, Audubon Centers, state offices and dedicated professional staff to connect people with nature and the power to protect it.
A powerful combination of science, education and policy expertise combine in efforts ranging from protection and restoration of local habitats to the implementation of policies that safeguard birds, other wildlife and the resources that sustain us all--in the U.S. and Across the Americas.  
Successes include:
  • Protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other fragile habitats;
  • The ongoing recovery of the imperiled California condor and brown pelican;
  •  Adoption of innovative policies that balance habitat protection with green energy development on millions of acres;
  • Continuing restoration of the Everglades and Long Island Sound
How we do it:
  • Nearly 500 local Chapters nationwide engage members in grassroots conservation action;
  • Audubon environmental policy, education and science experts guide lawmakers, agencies, and our grassroots in shaping effective conservation plans, actions and the policies to support them;
  • More than 2,500 Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas identify, prioritize and protect vital bird habitat from coast to coast--in partnership with BirdLife International, our IBA conservation efforts support species and their habitats across the Western Hemisphere;
  • "Citizen Scientists" collect vital data, through Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count, the new Coastal Bird Survey, and other initiatives, generating groundbreaking analyses and guiding scientists and policy makers in addressing the needs of birds and other wildlife;
  • Special ecosystem-wide conservation initiatives focus on protection and restoration of the nation's most special places from Alaska's Tongass to Sagebrush country and the Louisiana Coast;
  • Audubon Centers and sanctuaries are hubs of conservation exploration, research, and action, allowing millions to discover and defend the natural world;
  • Educational programs and materials combine with Audubon, the nation's most acclaimed conservation magazine to introduce schoolchildren, families and nature-lovers of all ages to the wonders of nature and the power of conservation at home and around the world.
Join Us--Together we are making a difference.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Later today, interview with CEO of Living Homes, Steve Glenn

Read more about him here and listen for his chat with us on and our radio partners, including flagship, WRNP 1320.

    As a kid, I had books on Frank Lloyd Wright and built cities out of Legos.  I wanted to be an architect.   Sadly, I discovered in college that I had neither the talent nor temperament to pursue this demanding career.   Fortunately, there, I learned about Jim Rouse, who developed real estate in an enlightened way, successfully addressing urban problems.   I realized that developers, not architects, control what gets created in the built environment, and I concluded that I should become a developer like Rouse who could wed profit and purpose in my work.  After a career of mostly technology startups, I felt it was time.
    Here's what we're doing.  We work with leading architects to create lines of homes that feature modern form and functionality and an unprecedented level of healthy/sustainability materials and energy systems.  Ray Kappe, FAIA - one of my favorite all time architects -- designed our first line of LivingHomes; and the first we built (see below) was the first residence in the nation to receive LEED® platinum, the highest level of certification from the United States Green Building Council.  We're using high volume, factory production to increase the quality of our homes as we reduce their cost, schedule, and construction waste, compared to those that are similarly constructed on site.  We're selling our homes to owners and home builders with land, and throughcommunities we and other groups are developing.
    Our mission is to create homes and communities that inspire people, foster family and community interaction, and make modern life easier, healthier and more comfortable -- all in ways that compliment and enhance the municipalities and environments in which we work.  We hope our products will set a standard for the positive impact they have on soil, water, energy and health - and we're using the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED®) certification system so we, and you, can measure how we're doing.
    We are deeply committed to our mission; it reflects both the values of theLivingHomes' team and advisors as well as the customers we aim to reach.  Responding to demand, we plan to introduce increasingly more affordable homes, with smaller ecological footprints.
    We do hope you like our homes - enough to live in!  Please join our mailing list. We really want your feedback, so please do write us.

    Steve Glenn
    CEO, LivingHomes

Our interview today here in LA: Matt Peterson, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of LA

Great trip out West, wonderful conference at UCLA last night we helped host and producer, and served on the panel of experts, and today we will be in the City with Matt Peterson.

Stay tuned as bring you these stories and air the interviews on the radio side as well:

Matt Petersen appointed to new position of Chief Sustainability Officer

Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced the appointment of Matt Petersen as the City's first ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Petersen will be responsible for developing environmental initiatives across all city departments to create healthier neighborhoods with cleaner air and water. He will also play a key role in achieving Mayor Garcetti's goal of creating 20,000 new green jobs in L.A. and reducing energy use and related costs in city government.
"Matt Petersen is one of the nation's leading environmental champions and clean energy advocates, and I am proud to have him lead my citywide effort to make every neighborhood healthier, create green jobs, and hold every city department responsible for cleaner air and water," said Mayor Garcetti. "Matt has long been an innovator in working with the business and environmental communities to create more energy efficient and sustainable neighborhoods and cities, including right here in Los Angeles."

As President and CEO of Global Green USA since 1994, Petersen has built one of the country’s leading environmental organizations. Petersen has been a pioneer in the greening of schools, affordable housing, and cities, while advancing the market for solar energy, green buildings, and fuel efficient cars. In 2008, TIME Magazine recognized Petersen and Global Green's leadership in helping New Orleans rebuild a more resilient and greener community after Hurricane Katrina. Petersen has been touted a "green all star" by Outside Magazine, is an advisor on energy and the environment to the Clinton Global Initiative, and in May 2008 was appointed by the Sir Edmund Hillary Institute in New Zealand as the Inaugural Hillary Fellow.
"I'm excited and honored to join Mayor Garcetti's team and to help lead his efforts to create a more sustainable city and improve the quality of life for all L.A. residents," Petersen said. "Cities are on the front lines of solutions to climate change and creating a clean energy economy, and I look forward to bringing my passion and experience to help Mayor Garcetti create a vibrant and greener City of Los Angeles."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In CA this week covering the sustainability conference at UCLA

We will try to keep you updated and posted this week:

A Henslow’s sparrow, a bird the Wisconsin DNR includes among its Species of Greatest Conservation Need, perches atop a plant. A new study shows that grasslands support more than three times as many bird species as cornfields.
Credit: Tom Prestby

 Wisconsin, bioenergy is for the birds. Really.
In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scientists examined whether corn and perennial grassland fields in southern Wisconsin could provide both biomass for bioenergy production and bountiful bird habitat.
The research team found that where there are grasslands, there are birds. Grass-and-wildflower-dominated fields supported more than three times as many bird species as cornfields, including 10 imperiled species found only in the grasslands. These grassland fields can also produce ample biomass for renewable fuels.
Monica Turner, UW-Madison professor of zoology, and study lead author Peter Blank, a postdoctoral researcher in her lab, hope the findings help drive decisions that benefit both birds and biofuels, too, by providing information for land managers, farmers, conservationists and policy makers as the bioenergy industry ramps up, particularly in Wisconsin and the central U.S.
"As bioenergy production demand increases, we should pay attention to the ecological consequences," says Turner.
This is especially true for grassland birds, as populations of species like the eastern meadowlark, dickcissel and the bobolink have declined in recent decades.
The study began when UW-Madison's Carol Williams, coordinator of the Wisconsin Grasslands Bioenergy Network, and the DNR's David Sample approached Turner and asked for her help. They wanted to know: "What are the implications of the decisions we make about how we use our lands?" says Turner.
The research team carefully selected 30 different grassland sites -- three of which are already used for small-scale bioenergy production -- and 11 cornfields in southern Wisconsin. Over the course of two years, the researchers characterized the vegetation growing in each field, calculated and estimated the biomass yields possible, and counted the total numbers of birds and bird species observed in them.
According to Blank and Turner, the study is one of the first to examine grassland fields already producing biomass for biofuels and is one of only a few analyses to examine the impact of bioenergy production on birds.
While previous studies suggest corn is a more profitable biofuel crop than grasses and other types of vegetation, the new findings indicate grassland fields may represent an acceptable tradeoff between creating biomass for bioenergy and providing habitat for grassland birds. The landscape could benefit other species, too.
Because they are perennial, the grassland fields can also be used year after year, following best management practices that preserve the health of the soil and provide reliable habitat for migratory birds.
"Plant diversity is good for wildlife diversity," says Blank. "Our study suggests diverse bioenergy crop fields could benefit birds more so than less diverse fields."
Among the grasslands studied, the team found monoculture grasses supported fewer birds and fewer bird species than grasslands with a mix of grass types and other kinds of vegetation, like wildflowers.
... new findings indicate grassland fields may represent an acceptable tradeoff between creating biomass for bioenergy and providing habitat for grassland birds.
The team found that the presence of grasslands within one kilometer of the study sites also helped boost bird species diversity and bird density in the area.
This is an opportunity, Turner says, to inform large-scale land use planning. By locating biomass-producing fields near existing grasslands, both birds and the biofuels industry can win.
Incentives for a conservation-minded approach could be used to help offset potential differences in profit, the researchers suggest. They also add that the biomass yields calculated in the study may represent the low end of what is possible, given that one of the two study years, 2012, occurred during a significant drought period in the state.
"The study shows species generally really benefit from the practice," says Blank. "We really can produce bioenergy and provide habitat for rare birds in the state."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by Kelly April Tyrrell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Peter J. Blank, David W. Sample, Carol L. Williams, Monica G. Turner. Bird Communities and Biomass Yields in Potential Bioenergy GrasslandsPLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (10): e109989 DOI: 10.137

Friday, October 10, 2014

Disc or Download: A Virtual Energy-Savings Debate

We love getting kids involved in our discussions around crafting a cleaner future.  Talks around video games is a good way of doing so.  See below and share with your kids.

See more stories at

"One of the best ways to spark an energy revolution is through the younger generation — and nothing quite speaks their language like video games.

But this issue has less to do with the content of these addictive games and more with how the younger generation consumes them.
Fantasy and adventure, sci-fi and first-person shooters, strategy and racing — video games today comes in all types of genres with thousands of add-ons and customizable features to make each story a virtual reality. And with all of these choices comes two more: buy a copy of the video game on a disc or download the video game straight from the console.
At the crossroads of the decision lies Sony, one of the leading manufacturers of video games including the PlayStation® console. Sony offers the choice between direct download through an online Internet connection and purchasing via game stores a Blu-ray copy of the game.
Now, one would think the former option is friendlier on the environment — no carbon footprint from shipping or driving to stores. However, cartridge collectors everywhere are about to rejoice. According to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, downloading a game from an Internet server can create a larger carbon footprint than driving to a store to purchase the game on Blu-ray disc.
A study was conducted by the Journal of Industrial Ecology, and although the report was based on a series of assumptions, the results were as follows:
"The CF [carbon footprint] of the life cycle of a downloaded 8.80-GB game amounted to 21.9 to 27.5 kg CO2-eq (for lower and upper bounds of Internet energy intensity), whereas the result for a BD [Blu-ray disc] game was 20.8 kg CO2-eq. Gameplay (use phase) accounted for 19.5 kg CO2-eq emissions in both scenarios."
As observed, the carbon footprint from driving to the store and purchasing a Blu-ray disc is less comparatively, but there are some caveats. There is a threshold of 1.3-gigabyte, under which PlayStation® games are still more efficient to download. PlayStation® games are only getting larger, though.
The Journal of Industrial Ecology reports that game files have doubled in size for between 2010 and 2013, and have increased by 25 percent from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4.
In fact, the advantage of discs are their ability to store massive amounts of data, which allows them to become exponentially better than direct downloads as their GB capacity increases.
All that's needed is a little more transparency for all video games to be rated "E" — no, not "E" for everyone, but "E" for efficient."
Video game image via Shutterstock.
Read more at the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Death of Plastic Bags in California

Since we are in CA next week, we wanted to bring you this GREAT NEWS from there.

By the way if you listen to our show with One More Generation, you will horror stories of their effort to rid our oceans of mountains of plastic waste choking our species out of existence, and threatening part of our food supply.

Come on, what state is next?   Let's go for 50.  As Proco Joe Moreno, Alderman of Chicago explained on the show, this good for the economy as well.

Last month, ReNewable Now interviewed Proco Joe Moreno, Alderman of Chicago’s 1st Ward, who was instrumental in getting the city of Chicago to pass an ordinance to ban plastic bags. The efforts to ban plastic bags are growing stronger week-by-week as we see the death of plastic bags now becoming law for the entire state of California.

It's official: California is now the first state in the country to institute a statewide plastic bag ban! Though it took years for state legislators to pass this bill plus an additional month that felt like an eternity for the governor to sign the bill into law, environmentalists can finally rejoice in the knowledge that grocery store plastic bags will soon be a thing of the past.

Analysts expect the legislation will eliminate at least 13 billion plastic bags per year. Don't expect to see a change immediately, however: the ban won't go into effect until next July. Liquor and convenience stores will have until July of 2016 to switch to paper or reusable bags.

Don't expect pandemonium when the bags disappear from stores — plenty of local California communities have proven that it's not nearly the inconvenience that naysayers declare. Approximately 25% of Californians already live in an area where single-use plastic bags are forbidden.

So far, impacted citizens generally approve of the bans. Researchers found that while only 10% of people brought reusable bags before they were removed from stores, around 70% started doing it (or skipping bags altogether) once bags came with a surcharge. Sure, the government had to nudge Californians to act more responsibly, but they met the challenge with few complaints.

That hasn't stopped the plastic bag industry from threatening action. Organizations representing affected companies plan to put a proposition on the ballot two years from now for voters to decide whether the bag ban should be revoked. In the meantime, the group hopes to prevent the ban from taking hold until after voters have their say, though the courts will have to decide if their request holds water.

California hasn't disregarded the plastic bag industry altogether, either. The legislation includes a stipulation for the state to loan millions to companies that produce bags so they can expand their businesses to come up with more sustainable alternatives.

This is no trend, and is going to spread nationally, and globally. So stay on the look out for some great start up companies, and smartentrepreneurs to take advantage of this, as we're sure we'll see an evolution in paper bags, and other things that carry what we like to buy.

Earth Friendly Products and their CEO step into the Renwable Now spotlight

  Wonderful interview with the CEO of Earth Friendly Products this week.  She will be part of the panel we are moderating next week at UCLA.  If you have not seen what we are doing, take a look here and tune in next week:

In the meantime we encourage you to find out more about their incredible company and products.


We pledge that our products are environmentally responsible, work well and provide value. We will never test on animals or use animal ingredients. We will conduct business in a socially responsible manner that safeguards the earth.


Earth Friendly Products: A short history
Our family began by making cleaners for industrial use before Corvettes had fins. When your grandmother was wearing a poodle skirt and drinking a float at the soda fountain, we were earning our first patents
Decades later, when Jimi Hendrix turned rock upside down and played guitar with his teeth, we started our own quiet rebellion.  We decided: only cleaners that were plant-based.  Only paper that was recycled.  Only products not tested on animals, period.
Does it sound boring to say we’re family owned and operated?  Because what it means to us is that it’s personal.  We’ve been around, well – seems like forever.  We know how to make cleaners that CLEAN, paper goods that work (with 80% post-consumer content, and that’s good,) detergents that won’t harm a fiber of your clothing, and a phosphate-free auto dish soap that won’t etch anything.  Ever.
We’re earth Friendly Products.  Green.  Clean. 
And really, really good at both.


  • Earth Friendly Products is a “champion” in the eyes of the Environmental Protection Agency and its Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, or SDSI. We are committed to the use of safe surfactants (wetting agents in detergent “that break down quickly to non-polluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water,” as the EPA says). In accordance with SDSI, our products are readily biodegradable, non-toxic, free of phosphates, and have a neutral pH. Because they are plant-based and petroleum-free, our surfactants do not bio-accumulate or mimic human hormones.
  • We are very proud to have won awards and recognition, including:
    • Being chosen as one of the “Best in the Green” products by Avalon Communications (2007).
    • Best line of cruelty-free household products from PETA (2007).
    • Readers’ Choice Award from Natural Home Magazine for best cleaning products (2002).
    • Quality Institute International (American Culinary Institute) 2002/2003 Gold Performance Award/Medal for best citrus-based cleaners.
    • Socially Responsible Business Award (2003)
  • Earth Friendly Products has international distribution of a retail line of over 60 household products, an industrial/bulk Pro-Line of over 25 products, and a Natural Pet Care Line of 16 items. Our products may be purchased at a variety of retail outlets and on our web site.

  • FIRST To eliminate 1,4 Dioxane, a carcinogen, from all products.
  • FIRST To stop use of salts in all cleaners, an action necessary to protect water supplies.
  • FIRST To eliminate Formaldehyde, a pernicious toxin.
  • FIRST / ONLY To introduce a patented neutral pH automatic dishwashing product, WAVE® Gel.
  • TOP SELLING Green Laundry product worldwide, ECOS® laundry detergent.
  • ONLY Green manufacturer with plants strategically located in 5 regions.
  • FIRST To generate more than 50% of our plant electrical needs by using solar panels.
  • FIRST In sustainability.
  • ONLY Green primary manufacturing company. We're a one-link supply chain. We don't contract our manufacturing to others. We control the entire process. We respond to new research and customer preferences immediately.