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Thursday, March 26, 2015

What are 5 ways to get the masses charged up about electric cars?‏

Send us your story if you are driving electric.  We are with a Leaf.

March 25, 2015

Five Ways to Get the Masses Charged Up about Electric Cars

on Sierra Club Compass blog. Also published on Huffington Post
By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Mike Walker

In 1994, no one knew how big the internet would be. Not even broadcast journalists Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric. 21 years later, a new big idea has them scratching their heads again. #HelloFuture …

People already driving electric cars have fallen in love, as shown by off the charts customer satisfaction ratings. But for the vast majority of Americans who aren't yet driving electric, how do we get them charged up?
In our last two blogs in this series, we talked about the large number of people we need to switch to EVs if we're to have a shot at averting the worst of climate change. We also discussed the type of public policies – like cash rebates – that will incentivize people to drive electric vehicles (EVs).
But we won’t win over the mass market if we aren't educating and exciting the public. Here are five ways to get more Americans interested in buying EVs:
1)      Find Smokey the Bear
It's probably not a coincidence that the BMW i3, the sporty new electric car, had one of its best-selling months following the release of a hilarious Super Bowl television ad (its stars are pictured at the top of this blog post!), with more than 18 million views on YouTube – not to mention the millions who saw it during the big game. You also may have seen this Cadillac ELR EV commercial, aimed at the luxury car buyer. Another ad, which cleverly parodies the Cadillac ad, is about the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In Hybrid and is seriously funny. But these EV ads are the exceptions to the rule. The vast majority of car commercials we see are for gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks. Come on, automakers.
By contrast, a switch to electric vehicles will lead to cleaner air and lower carbon emissions – public goods that benefit all Americans.  Government agencies and nonprofits have invested in public service announcement (PSA) campaigns to promote seat belt use (“Click it or Ticket”) and to prevent wildfires (Smokey the Bear), and these campaigns have changed America for the better. Public utilities fund direct mail campaigns about energy efficiency, and we've made big improvements on that front too. Why not PSAs and mailings re EVs?
2)      Bust the Myths
A number of persistent myths surround EVs:  they’re too expensive, not any better for the environment, unsafe, slow, can only drive short distances, are a hassle to charge, etc.  Chris Paine – the documentary filmmaker behind Who Killed the Electric Car? and Revenge of the Electric Car – busts several of these myths in this entertaining Washington Post article, and Sierra Club does it here. We need to do more to set the record straight. 
3)      Events -Get Butts in Seats
One of the many counter-intuitive findings of social science research is that people’s attitudes tend to flow from their actions. Most EV drivers will tell you they didn't really understand what all the fuss was about until they actually rode in an electric car and experienced first-hand how fun, cool, and fast, these cars are. We need to give people more opportunities to test drive EVs. During last year's National Drive Electric Week, upwards of 90,000 people attended events in 150 cities, and thousands of people took test drives. The fifth annual National Drive Electric Week will be September 12-20 this year, and organizers (Sierra Club, Plug In America, Electric Auto Association, and local partners) are already gearing up to make it bigger than ever.
Workplace test-drive events are another great opportunity to get people talking to their friends and co-workers about EVs -- and to take them for a spin during their lunch break.  Consider organizing one yourself.
4)      Recruit High-Profile Spokespersons
It's terrific that actor/activist Ed Begley, Jr. talks up his electric car, and we're heartened to know that celebs like George Clooney and Cameron Diaz drive electric too. But we need more high-profile celebrities, politicians, and business leaders driving EVs, and actively promoting them in traditional and social media. Readers of People Magazine, The Hill, BuzzFeed, and the Wall Street Journal may have varying role models -- and most of them buy or lease cars.
5)      Understand and Appeal to New People
EVs can excite a wide range of people with all sorts of interests. The new documentary film The Burden, to be screened in the coming days at a film festival in DC, makes the argument that EVs are appealing to veterans and national security hawks who want to slash our dependence on foreign oil.  Last week, thousands of car racing enthusiasts took to the streets of Miami to watch Formula E, where professional race-car drivers show off their talents in blindingly fast EVs.  Those of us looking to accelerate the EV market need to seek out and understand all sorts of audiences.
The Center for Sustainable Energy conducted a survey showing that California EV drivers prioritize issues like carpool lane access, fuel cost savings, and emissions reductions -and fit certain demographics.  But we need much more information about what messages, which media outlets, and which spokespersons will excite people.  If your organization is researching this information, don't be greedy!  Share it with other EV advocates, utility companies, government officials, and car companies looking to accelerate the EV market. Working smartly together, we can electrify the masses.
This column was co-written by Mike Walker, the founder and CEO of AlterAction, and whose blog is here.
Gina Coplon-Newfield is the director of the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative.

ARPIN GROUP Leading Through Example

As always, we are proud of our achievements in sustainability and corporate transformation. Our investments in clean tech and energy have brought incredible returns, and have improved our quality and customers satisfaction with our global clients.  We have reinvented, while going down the road, a 115 year old co.

You can do the same.  Don't bend away from positive changes.  Get efficient, paperless, source better material, manage vendors and suppliers differently with a focus on green, and incorporate that message to customers as inspiration for them as well.

This is a great time to be in business, a great time to be alive.  We are living, right now, each, the next great revolution as we migrate from a fossil-fuel economy to a clean-energy economy.  Are you part of it or being left behind?

March has been a big month for sustainability for the Arpin Group one of the world’s oldest family owned moving companies. Winning awards and implementing a corporate Sustainability Committee were just a couple of things that topped their list.

On Friday, March 6 the Arpin Group was the recipient of the 2015 Clean Energy Future Award for business leadership and innovation. The awards acknowledge individuals, companies and organizations that show exemplary achievement and leadership in promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation throughout the Ocean State. When asked about the award Peter Arpin said,  “It is our honor to be recoginized for our efforts and we not only take great pride in this award, but we also know that we need to continue to show leadership and push forward so that we can lead by example.”

 On March 20, an on the heels of a sustainability self-assessment, Arpin Group announced this month that it has formed a sustainability committee to continue its commitment to building a greener future. This committee will oversee the development of environmentally responsible programs and initiatives as the company continues to grow internationally.

"When we invited the International Society of Sustainability Professionals to assist us with a voluntary self-assessment last fall, not only were we able to chart our progress in a number of key practice areas, we saw the opportunity to weave sustainability into the fabric of our company for decades to come," said Peter Arpin, partner of Arpin Group and president of Arpin Renewable Energy. "Our new sustainability committee will provide a continuous means of self-assessment and advise the Arpin board of directors on all matters pertaining to environmentally responsible worldwide growth."
- See more at:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

100% Renewable Energy Powered Georgetown, Texas

You can bet we will follow up with a radio show and discussion on Georgetown's conversion to 100% clean energy.  We are not sure how many cities or towns in the US can boast about this,  We have one in RI working towards the same incredible accomplishment.

For these cities and towns, it allows them to fix their electrical costs,which frees up future cash flow for many other needed investments.  It is also interesting to see Sun Edison behind so many large-scale projects.  They have clearly changed the energy landscape in the US.

Find more stories, reports, updates and shows at, the main site for our network.

SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE), has announced it will build new solar power generation facilities in West Texas to enable the City of Georgetown to go 100% renewable.

Georgetown, located 42 km north of Austin’s Central Business District, is a city with a population of approximately 47,400 and home to Southwestern University, the oldest university in Texas.

The 150MW of SunEdison solar plants will generate more than 9,500 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity to Georgetown through 2041, enough to power more than 24,000 households.

The projects  will create close to 800 jobs during construction and will be interconnected in 2016. Upon completion, SunEdison says it expects to offer the Georgetown project for investment to TerraForm Power, Inc. (NASDAQ: TERP), SunEdison’s yieldco.

“Georgetown is an exceptional city, and by going 100% renewable they will cut down on pollution, save water, and enjoy stable energy prices,” said Paul Gaynor, Executive Vice President of North America Utility and Global Wind at SunEdison.

” They’re able to accomplish all of this without spending a penny up front with SunEdison’s power purchase agreement. Georgetown is a model for other cities that hope to become powered by clean renewable energy.”

SunEdison was the first solar energy provider in the world to offer a solar Power Purchase Agreement, also known as a solar PPA. The Georgetown project represents the largest utility scale solar agreement in Texas for the company to date.

According to Jim Briggs, interim city manager for Georgetown and general manager for utilities, the solar PPA along with a 144 megawatt wind power agreement finalized in 2014 will make Georgetown Utility Systems one of the largest municipal utilities in the USA to be 100% renewable powered.
- See more at:

Non-Hydro Renewable Electricity Outshines

This is incredibly important news on the energy front, particularly on top of the story we posted recently which confirmed that, for the first time in almost a century, air pollution levels in the US did NOT go up last year.  Speculation is that we've crested here in the US and will see levels, in fact, diminish over the next decades (of course, that assumes we steer the same course around conservation and clean energy).

Given that milestone, seeing the data below which confirms that renewable energy is outpacing all other sources in terms of growth rate bodes well for reducing carbon emissions and the overall stress on the environment.  While, of course, potentially avoiding future health risks around air-borne illnesses.

This growth rate is even more gratifying given the mix of sources, geographical balance in pushing clean energy and recognizing that our grids can take on more and more renewable sources--a clear problem before.

What will accelerate this growth rate is to improve energy storage systems, thereby making wind, solar, ect more valuable to utilities who today turn off renewables in times of low demand.

Non-Hydro Renewable Electricity Outshines All Other Sources and Grows 11 Percent in 2014

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)'s latest "Electric Power Monthly" report, with data through the end of 2014, net electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) increased by 10.9 percent over the previous year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Friendly Fungi Could Help

We see fungi proposed for many new jobs, including energy.  This is an interesting option.

Friendly Fungi Could Help Barley Growers

Botanists from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough discovery that could save barley farmers sleepless nights and millions of Euro each year: naturally occurring plant-friendly fungi prevent crop-ravishing diseases from spreading, and also aid plant survival in testing environmental conditions.

Importantly, these amazing little organisms cause no harm to the plant roots in which they take up their abode. However, their gift of immunity against common seed diseases greatly reduces the need for farmers to spray environmentally damaging chemicals, which can affect ecosystems in a plethora of negative ways.

Barley is the fourth most important global cereal crop and, as a hardy plant, is often grown in relatively poor environmental conditions. For many farmers across the world, it is a vital source of food and income.

However, barley crops are subject to many diseases, which can cause huge losses if they become established. Growers, engaged in an ‘arms race’ against these diseases, have until now resorted to using continually changing chemical and pesticide cocktails in an attempt to stay one step ahead.

PhD Researcher in Botany in the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity, Brian Murphy, is the lead author of the breakthrough paper, which was recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal BioControl. He said: “Irish farmers spend over €99 million annually on chemical crop inputs for barley, 70% of which is spent on nitrogenous fertilisers.  As well as being expensive, these chemicals can cause serious environmental damage and even biodiversity loss. Our innovative crop treatment has the potential to significantly reduce these costs and contribute to sustainable and organic agricultural practices.”

Fungal ‘endophytes’ such as those that proved effective in suppressing seed diseases in the Trinity team’s laboratory experiments appear to have a ‘symbiotic’ relationship with barley. This means that both species gain some positive benefit from their biological union.

As well as warding off seed diseases, it seems that the endophytes confer other significant benefits to keep barley farmers smiling; plants that faced multiple stresses at the same time (such as heat, drought, poor nutrient soils, and pests) were around six times as likely to survive if they were housing their fungal friends than those flying solo.

“These symbiotic relationships are therefore a real case of life and death for the plants, as well as for many of the farmers relying on these crops,” added Brian Murphy.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ready for a low carbon economy?

Yes, we are ready for the low-carbon economy.  Are you?

This from the Sustainability Learning Centre, great site to visit and follow as well:  Interesting to think about growth and emissions "decoupling".  Meaning we can finally create jobs and commerce without necessarily depleting natural resources or adding to our pollution levels.  Restoring that balance which we've championed for many years now.  We've reached a true milestone; let's hope the voices of turning back gone unheard and unheeded.

Did you know that Global CO2 emissions did not rise in 2014 for the first time in 40 years, while global economy grew 3%?  The milestone marks an historical moment because, for the first time in 40 years, pollutant emissions and economic growth are starting to decouple.   

Carbon Disclosure Project is catalyzing change - find out how GHG Measurement & Reporting is growing around the world.

According to the Climate Group: "What we are seeing here is the cumulativeimpact of growing levels of investment into low carbon activities, not least in China and other major economies," remarks Damian Ryan, Head of International Policy, The Climate Group. "Over the last decade we have seen tens and then hundreds of billions of dollars invested each year into renewable energy, energy efficiency and other green growth opportunities, like LED lighting and electric vehicles.

"At some point this spending on the low carbon economy was going to show through and it seems that the IEA's new figures are the first indication of the seismic shift we need to combat climate change."

This is good news but this is no time for complacency.  Cities, States, Provinces and Countries are moving toward putting a price on carbon.  What does this mean for your company?

Start by learning how to measure and report your greenhouse gases.  Carbon reduction strategies will save your company money and improve productivity.   

The best-and worst-places to drive your electric car

We can attest to the reduced mileage for our Leaf this winter in New England. That is why hybrids are best right now, particularly in areas of intense heat or cold.  However, the EV's are great cars and have a bright future. 

The best-and worst-places to drive your electric car

From: Nsikan Akpan, Science/AAAS   

For those tired of winter, you’re not alone. Electric cars hate the cold, too. Researchers have conducted the first investigation into how electric vehicles fare in different U.S. climates. The verdict: Electric car buyers in the chilly Midwest and sizzling Southwest get less bang for their buck, where poor energy efficiency and coal power plants unite to turn electric vehicles into bigger polluters.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began their research by pulling public data from FleetCarma, a company that tracks vehicle performance among car fleets operated by governments and businesses. The study looked at 7000 all-electric Nissan Leafs across the country and how their driving ranges varied with temperature. Cold reduces a battery’s oomph whether it lives in your car or smart phone. “We then combined those performances with regional reports on weather and drivers’ habits to build a nationwide map of car efficiency for every hour of every day within a typical year,” says co-author and CMU mechanical engineer Jeremy Michalek.

In terms of driving range, electric cars in California and the Deep South travel the farthest, as the balmy temperatures yield the best energy efficiency and therefore longer trips before they must be plugged in again. (That’s a lucky break for Golden Staters, who also purchase the most green vehicles in the nation.) Vehicles in cold places, in contrast, have less battery capacity and thus shorter range. The average range of a Nissan Leaf on the coldest day drops from 112 km in San Francisco to less than 72 km in Minneapolis, according to the study, published online this month in Environmental Science & Technology.

The reason is straightforward. When batteries are cold, they have a lower electrical capacity, which limits the duration in which they can pump power. But extremely hot cities, like Phoenix, were almost as bad as chilly towns. Heat improves battery efficiency, but too much can degrade its overall life span and output.

These temperature extremes require drivers to charge their cars for longer. So the team measured the greenhouse gas emissions that would be generated by power grids as a result of plugging in electric vehicles at home. Average energy consumption by electric cars was 15% higher in the upper Midwest and Southwest versus the Pacific Coast.
Continue reading at Science AAAS.