Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Great radio show today on WARL 1320 and Blog Talk Radio

If you get a chance, go to Blog Talk Radio and log on to Renewable Now.  You'll hear today's show, and others, and we'd like to get your feedback.

My co-host today was Seth Handy, an environmental lawyer, and our guest was John Flaherty from Grow SmartRI.  We covered a lot of terrain, including getting some insight into the organization, locally and the national group, talked about their recent Summit, which filled the rooms of the Convention Center, and looked at changes in legislation--particularly returning a revamped historic tax credit to the State--and did so in a very fast-paced hour.

Tune in on-demand or live each Weds, 12-1p, EST, and feel free to send us your comments while we are on the air.

From Sierra Club:

As you know, we are big supporters of moving to EV's and believe strongly we need to engage young people into the process.  In fact, we are just editing a new show, shot at a high school, that profiles teams of students creating new, sustainable companies.

For now we profile a recent release from Sierra Club:

"I am impressed and wanted to share with you an opportunity to help a group of high school students from Kansas City, MO make a 2,400 mile journey from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL in a prototype ultra-high-efficiency plug-in electric vehicle that they designed and built.  The group, MINDDRIVE, is an educational program for at-risk urban high school students focused on hands-on activities in an automotive design class.  After a successful trip in 2010, this year’s class is making the trip to showcase the benefits of EVs and their accomplishment of designing a fully electric really cool-looking vehicle converted from a 1977 Lotus Espirit.    

If you think you could help provide for the students a place to charge the vehicle, food, media coverage, or an audience for a presentation in or near any of the cities listed below, then please contact: Linda Buchner ( and Jim Huntington (

Areas where group plans to stop:
6/11/12 El Centro, CA
6/12/12 Crystal Sand, AZ 
6/12/12 Phoenix, AZ
6/13/12 Tucson, AZ 
6/13/12 Willcox, AZ
6/13/12 Lordsburg, NM
6/14/12 Deming, NM 
6/14/12 El Paso, TX
6/15/12 Van Horn, TX 
6/15/12 Fort Stockton, TX
6/16/12 Ozona, TX
6/16/12 Junction, TX
6/16/12 San Antonio, TX
6/17/12 Luling, TX
6/17/12 Houston, TX
6/18/12 Beaumont, TX 
6/18/12 Lafayette, LA
6/19/12 Baton Rouge, LA 
6/19/12 Gulfport, MS
6/20/12 Mobile, AL 
6/20/12 Defuniak Springs, FL
6/21/12 Tallahassee, FL

On a separate note, you're invited to read the Sierra Club's most recent EV blog post: Los Angeles to Electrify Freight and Cut Oil."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Barbara Seeley

Please let us know your thoughts on this:

Stop the Dirty Water Gang
"For the past ten years, we have been fighting to restore critical Clean Water Act protections to 1,392 miles of streams and wetlands in Rhode Island, including those that feed Narragansett Bay and all of Rhode Island's great waters. Finally, we are on the verge of winning.
But just as President Obama is about to sign off on the biggest victory for clean water in Rhode Island in decades, the “Dirty Water Gang” in Congress is trying to block us.
In little more than a week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a provision to block Clean Water Act protections for 752 miles of Rhode Island's streams and 20 million acres of the nation's wetlands. Already, 29 members1 of the House Appropriations Committee approved this measure.
These people think they can keep getting away with doing the bidding of Big Oil, the coal industry and other water polluters.
Not this time.
The vote could happen next Wednesday. If 500 people from Rhode Island send emails to our state’s legislators, they’ll get the message loud and clear that it’s unacceptable to roll back protections for our waterways.
Let's pave the way for restored protections for Rhode Island's waters. And let's make sure the Dirty Water Gang doesn’t get away with this.
Thanks as always for making it all possible,

John Rumpler

Senior Environmental Attorney
Environment Rhode Island"

Monday, May 28, 2012


To all veterans who have kept us unshackled, to great leaders who guided America, and many other countries through many difficult years, eras, to great business leaders who inspired and innovated us to this moment of great potential, and to all of you who help us aspire, imagine and move towards a cleaner, brighter future.

We applaud you all and are honored to share the world with you, and help move the planet forward to its truly sustainable future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

We are now on Blog Talk Radio; Listen in

Renewable Now with Jim Murphy "School Sustainability"

by Renewable Now

12pm ET  Join host Peter Arpinand guest Jim Murphy of Rhode Island College for an indepth disscussion on the sustainability of schools in the U.S.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Great program from our exclusive educational partner, RI College

Program begins, 5/31, at RIC
for the
Sustainable Communities Initiative / Rhode Island College 


Designed for aspiring community leaders and/or educators

Course runs May 31 - June 28, 2012

  • Lectures delivered by sustainability thought leaders
  • Discussion activities
  • Leadership training
  • Online and in-person learning
  • Peer networking
  • And much more!
Click here for details 

The mission of SCI is to catalyze positive social, environmental, and economic change by further engaging community residents in enrichment education, participatory research, and informed community activism.

Special Thanks
to SCI's fiscal agent:

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) Education Fund

Funding for SCI at RIC speakers has been provided by the RIC Committee on College Lectures and made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thank you to all of our distinguished spring semester speakers, Community Leaders Program participants, and lecture attendees, who made possible a successful SCI spring semester launch!

Copyright © 2012 The Sustainable Communities Initiative, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
The Sustainable Communities Initiative
PO Box 40568
ProvidenceRI 02940

Add us to your address book
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Update from Grow Smart

We are half way through broadcasting the 4 shows, great shows, we filmed with Grow Smart RI at the RI Convention Center.  The shows focused on the issues highlighted at their recent Summit.

This came from them today:
Grow Smart Rhode Island Legislative Update:

Act Now on Bond to Boost Economy and Environment 
We are writing to encourage you to voice your support for having the General Assembly place the proposed Local Farms, Open Space & Recreation bond issue on the November ballot.  We at Grow Smart believe that this bond issue would be an important investment in our future economic, environmental and social well being -- a means of protecting working farms, of expanding much-needed recreation facilities in our urban centers and of protecting open space and improving recreational sites throughout the state. 
In February, Governor Chafee proposed a $25 million Local Farms, Open Space and Recreation Bond as part of the state budget.  If the RI General Assembly adopts a budget that includes this proposal, a bond referendum will be placed on the November ballot for voter approval.

This Bond proposal includes 
$4.5 million for Farmland Protection
$2.5 million for Open Space Protection Grants
$2.5 million for RIDEM's Land Acquisition Program
$6.5 million for Local Recreation Development Grants
$5.0 million for capital improvements and renovations for State Parks and Beaches
$4.0 million to protect and restore Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island watersheds 

There's more if you look at their site.
We agree these are good investments.  Our economy, at least in the State, depends very much on natural resources, their proper use, management and restoration from past damage.  The ROI on investments in farming (a very good, growing industry here), Tourism (hence the bond for State Parks, Beaches and the Bay) and land preservation, open spaces, has been excellent and growing.

Keep in mind one of the true components of recruiting companies and people to a  state is the quality of life.  Consider this a long-term investment in retaining and attracting talent to RI.

Each state must make similar investments and think very long-term about the bedrock natural resources provide to a local, even fragmented, economy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Follow up on 38 Studios Post

One of our regular contributors, Greg Gerritt, from the Environment Council, sent us, in response to our blog, a letter to the editor he had just sent to the Providence Journal.

We thought this was a good follow up to our posting.  Again, we are non-political, we are not here to slam Keith  Stokes or anyone at EDC, but feel it is important, as part of our coverage of the "business side of green" to cover this major story and its fall out:

"To the editor,  I have seen a number of people praise Keith Stokes on his way out of the door at the RI Economic Development Corporation, but I think it bears remembering that 38 Studios is the second major blunder of this sort in his economic development career.  Mr. Stokes was completely taken in by the con men who convinced most of the economic development establishment of Rhode Island that they could be a successful gigantic container port.  Eventually the public won out and the con men were unmasked, but right until the end Mr Stokes was a proponent of their port.

38 Studios shows Mr. Stokes in the same light.  Completely taken in by the celebrity of Curt Schilling even though he also had no track record of success and wanted someone else's money to build his fantasy scam.

I will note that that the problem in the economic development game that is Rhode Island is not just Keith Stokes, it is that the establishment in Rhode Island is still convinced that give aways to the 1% is economic development, while the reality is that only ecological healing, reducing inequality in income, and more democracy and transparency is the road forward economically.  I hope Governor Chafee takes this opportunity to rethink what he wants from the EDC, but it appears that he will find another economic development guy with their head in the sand about where the economy is really going."

We concur that ecological healing is critical to economic growth.  Too long we've misused natural resources and stripped our earth of much of its beauty and resilience.  We can do much better.  

In the coming days, you'll hear about a brand new renewable energy fund we helped start that will focus first on RI, then New England, then grow nationally.  We are committed to putting our money into smart growth and help lead the path to a cleaner, brighter, more sustainable future.

We sincerely hope 38 Studios rights its wrongs and is a bright part of that future as well.  We need lots of great companies to help carry the load.  

Tell us your story on how you will help.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Great new show this weekend with Grow Smart RI

Enjoy the show.  We look forward to your feedback.

Note the 1:30 start time today:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Updates/38 Studios

We've been on the road this week a lot, so we are just getting caught up on the blog.  We'll have a few postings this weekend.

It has been an interesting week here in RI.  Lots of controversy surrounding the default of payments by 38 Studios, a company enticed into RI by the State's EDC with lots of loan guarantees and incentives.  The deal was slammed at the time as too rich (75m in guarantees on a small, 125m fund), and too heavy into a start up with no demonstrated cash flow to repay their debt.

We have mixed emotions (and will tie this into "the business side of green") on this.  We agree it was a crap shoot at the time.  The then Governor liked big deals and big PR.  This one had his signature all over it.

Yet, the intent of clustering a new industry in the State--gaming--has lots of potential.  We've already seen Hasbro invest in Providence in part because of 38 Studio, and the talent they employee, being headquartered in town.  The industry is clean, successful and helps imbue, certainly, a city with energy and youth.  It has done all of that and more in that part of Providence.

However, as you've seen with us, there are some amazing companies, full of the same potential and promise, being born in Providence.  EDC should have spread that money over 50-100 of them, specially the ones up and running and fulfilling the basic financial requirements of a viable company.  Overall, EDC's track record is good, particularly were they have offered IRB's and preferred financing to some of their most solid businesses, and in attracting great new companies like UNIFI Foods.

We hope, very much, that 38 Studios survives and, later, flourishes.  Perhaps the State can take an equity position, no different than the Feds did with GM and AIG.  Preserving their investment in 38 Studios, their employee base, their beautiful headquarters, the economic activity they've generated and the potential cluster of gaming companies they've seeded is the right choice...the only choice.  We wish them well in doing so.

Interesting, too, that our shows running right now on the TV side (and on demand on our site) are in conjunction with Grow Smart RI.  Great shows, very focused on the many positives going on in RI.  Take a look at ABC 6 on Sat at 2:30, EST, and on The Live Well Network, 1:30, EST.  Perhaps we can take a look at the 38 Studios deal, on a follow up show, and get the experts to offer their opinion on what went wrong, and how we can salvage the assets of a struggling company to put them back to work in a positive manner.

Next, we'll post the preview to this weekend's show.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Leadership series from RI College

Good to see more and more of these types of classes springing up.  RI College is a good partner to the show, and a true leader in education moving into a sustainable model.

Send us your information and we'll post it here as well.

rogram begins, 5/31, at RIC
for the
Sustainable Communities Initiative / Rhode Island College 


Designed for aspiring community leaders and/or educators

Course runs May 31 - June 28, 2012

  • Lectures delivered by sustainability thought leaders
  • Discussion activities
  • Leadership training
  • Online and in-person learning
  • Peer networking
  • And much more!
Click here for details 

The mission of SCI is to catalyze positive social, environmental, and economic change by further engaging community residents in enrichment education, participatory research, and informed community activism.

Special Thanks
to SCI's fiscal agent:

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) Education Fund

Funding for SCI at RIC speakers has been provided by the RIC Committee on College Lectures and made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thank you to all of our distinguished spring semester speakers, Community Leaders Program participants, and lecture attendees, who made possible a successful SCI spring semester launch!

Copyright © 2012 The Sustainable C

Monday, May 14, 2012

From Green

PG&E's new EV proposal lays groundwork for $1-per-gallon fuel

It is so good to see a utility use it's spare capacity to offer discounted charging rates to EV owners.  What a great incentive to switch over to an electric vehicle; in essence, running the car on $1 per gallon.  Would you need any more of an incentive than that?

Take a look at the story:  "[Editor's note: PG&E's new yet-to-be-approved rate proposal could significantly reduce the cost to charge electric vehicles in its Northern California territory, giving corporate fleet owners in the area another reason to consider EVs -- a lower, more predictable fuel cost over which they can assume greater control by optimizing charging conditions. Meanwhile, companies like Schneider, ABB and Siemens are bringing quick chargers to the market for when customers can't wait eight hours to charge up.]

Yesterday, the biggest electric utility in California, the largest car market in the country, took an important step to give drivers access to a cleaner fuel that's roughly the equivalent of buck-a-gallon gasoline.  
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has submitted a proposal for new and improved rate plans that encourage electric car drivers to charge when there's plenty of spare capacity on the electrical grid, at a price that, in real dollars, is less than half what gas cost in 1949, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
To be clear, PG&E already has rates designed for electric cars, but those rates are unnecessarily complex and in need of an update, which is why the California Public Utilities Commission directed PG&E to develop new, simpler options for electric vehicle drivers. Today's proposal is actually the second attempt by PG&E to comply with that directive. The first one spurred 75 letters of protest from some vocal electric car customers who objected to some of the proposed changes. The plan PG&E submitted today addresses the concerns raised in those protest letters and should significantly improve the fundamental economics of vehicle electrification in a large portion of the Golden State..."
We've always felt that it will take cooperation on all levels, including utilities, to convince a skeptical consumer base that EV's are a good alternative to mainstream cars.  As with buying an car, deciding on a EV model will not be an altruistic, I-want-to-support-the environment choice--it will be, I like the car and it makes financial sense.  Deals like this one will move the economics, pretty quickly, in the right direction.
We'd like to hear your comments.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thank you to Barbara Seeley

For sending us the link to Planet Forward.  Very cool site.

Here's a first story we'll share from the site, but there will be plenty more, too:

PARC Hydrodynamic Separation (HDS) for cleaning water

by Kelly Brieger | 12:18 pm May 11th, 2012 | Be the first to comment! »

PARC’s breakthrough clean water platform technology, Hydrodynamic Separation (HDS), can potentially provide multiple benefits, such as: Compact form factor – ideal for space- and weight-constrained sites; Modular and scalable – easily increase or decrease volume capacity; Low energy operation – can be used in a low pressure (i.e., gravity fed); Low operating and maintenance costs – contains no moving parts or physical filters; Reduction in cap-ex – potential reductions in real-estate needs due to small footprint; Separation of “neutrally buoyant” material – efficient separation of suspended particles, flocs, and organics
Potential applications include:
Produced and flowback water treatment in oil and gas extraction; Wastewater (industrial and municipal) treatment; Seawater intake and pre-treatment for reverse osmosis desalination; Process water, cooling tower, bilge water, mining water; Algae dewatering
Recovery of precious resources from water; Particulate removal from rainwater; Separation of oil or other emulsions from water; Distributed / on-site water treatment; Other liquid treatment processes
Water, as everyone knows, is and will be a scarce, precious resource.  This type of innovation gives hope that we can sustain a clean water supply, in every part of the world, using old and new techniques.  This is encouraging. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enjoy the Grow Smart Shows

We just finished filming some of the Grow Smart Summit, which was fantastic and you'll be seeing segments of it hit our site soon, but we also shot 4 great shows in advance of the Summit, and they premier this weekend on ABC 6 and the Live Well Network.  Here's the promo:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Interesting story from EcoGeek

Pollution-Absorbing Paint Cleaning Up the Air in Manila

Manila is one of the top five dirtiest cities when it comes to air pollution. Residents have high rates of asthma and air pollution is responsible for about 4,000 deaths a year. The city is trying to tackle the problem with an innovative solution -- paint.

The city has begun using a paint called Boysen KNOxOUT that is able to filter out nitrogen oxides from the air. The chemical within the paint reacts with sunlight and water vapor making it absorb NOx at a rate of about 20 percent. The city is also taking a beautifying approach by not just slathering the paint on surfaces, but by using it to paint murals along the main highway in Manila, putting the paint right at the source of much of the smog while also making it a more attractive place.

The scientists that developed the paint say that one square foot of the paint absorbs the same amount of pollution as a full-grown tree. The city is painting 11,000 square feet of murals, which means the city will see the same air quality benefits as if they planted 11,000 trees. Cities in the U.S., especially somewhere like Los Angeles that suffers from its own heavy share of smog, could benefit from a little of this paint as well.

Very cool idea--paint murals along the highways that help absorb the carbon emissions.  Think about neighborhoods agreeing to paint their homes with Boysen KnoxOut.  Taking a toxic material--paint--and turning it into a partial solution for reducing air pollution.  Bravo.

Monday, May 7, 2012

US, German Automakers Adopt Fast-Charging Standard at Odds with Nissan, Toyota

Great story in Environmental Leader on the adaptation of a fast-charging port by major auto manufacturers.  Clearly, the convenience, and speed, of charging are two critical needs in making EV's viable.  Without those pieces in place, the market will not ramp up as planned.

This is great news:  "Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed to standardize a single-port fast charging approach, called DC-fast charging with a Combined Charging System, for use on electric vehicles in Europe and the United States – bypassing the CHAdeMO charging standard already used by Japanese cars including the Nissan Leaf.
The combined charging system agreed by the European and American automakers   integrates one-phase AC-charging, fast three-phase AC-charging, DC-charging at home and ultra-fast DC-charging at public stations, all in one vehicle inlet. The automakers says this will allow customers to charge at most existing charging stations regardless of power source and may speed more affordable adoption of a standardized infrastructure. The first vehicles using this technology will be launched to the market in 2013, the companies say.
The International Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) chose the Combined Charging System as its fast-charging method; the standard will be published this summer. ACEA, the European association of vehicle manufacturers, has also selected the Combined Charging System as its AC/DC-charging interface for all new vehicle types in Europe beginning in 2017.
The eight automakers say the plug will standardize charging across the US and Europe, reducing development and infrastructure complexity and cost-of-ownership for customers. However, writes the plug is incompatible with current Japanese models that use the CHAdeMO charging system. In March 2010, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries and Tokyo Electric Power all agreed to CHAdeMO as the standard for electric vehicle recharging stations."
We think the current Japanese models will need to change and migrate to this quicker, more convenient charging system.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Great update from one of our co-host, Jack Gregg, Boston

Researchers create anti-fogging, self-cleaning, glare-free glass
April 30, 2012

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a new wonder glass that addresses the problems affecting ordinary glass such as fogging and glare.

 The secret lies in a process involving thin layers of material deposited on a surface and then selectively etched away.

 "The MIT team produced a surface covered with tiny cones, each five times taller than their width. This pattern prevents reflections, while at the same time repelling water from the surface," the MIT said.

 It added the surface textures on glass developed by the MIT team virtually eliminates reflections, producing glass that is "almost unrecognizable."
 Aside from the absence of glare, the new glass has a surface that causes water droplets to bounce right off, "like tiny rubber balls," and is self-cleaning.
 The researchers hope to have the glass made using a low-cost manufacturing process that could be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones and televisions, solar panels, car windshields and even windows in buildings.

 The technology is described in a paper co-authored by mechanical engineering graduate students Kyoo-Chul Park and Hyungryul Choi, former postdoc Chih-Hao Chang SM 2004, PhD 2008 (now at North Carolina State University), chemical engineering professor Robert Cohen, and mechanical engineering professors Gareth McKinley and George Barbastathis.

 Park said photovoltaic panels can lose as much as 40 percent of their efficiency within six months as dust and dirt accumulate on their surfaces.

 But he said a solar panel protected by the new self-cleaning glass would have much less of a problem.
 Also, the panel would be more efficient because more light would be transmitted through its surface, instead of being reflected away — especially when the sun’s rays are inclined at a sharp angle to the panel.
 During early mornings and late afternoons, conventional glass might reflect away more than 50 percent of the light, whereas an anti-reflection surface would reduce the reflection to a negligible level, the report said.