Friday, February 28, 2014

God Bless you Lester Brown/Earth Policy Institute

This is a great blog/opinion piece.  So worthy of much consideration.

Needless to say, we will follow up on this with a radio show.

Can the World Feed China? 

Lester R. Brown
"Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006—just eight years ago—China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift?
It wasn’t until 20 years ago, after I wrote an article entitled “Who Will Feed China?”, that I began to fully appreciate what a sensitive political issue food security was to the Chinese. The country’s leaders were all survivors of the Great Famine of 1959–61, when some 36 million people starved to death. Yet while the Chinese government was publicly critical of my questioning the country’s ability to feed itself, it began quietly reforming its agriculture. Among other things, Beijing adopted a policy of grain self-sufficiency, an initiative that is now faltering.
Since 2006, China’s grain use has been climbing by 17 million tons per year. (See data.) For perspective, this compares with Australia’s annual wheat harvest of 24 million tons. With population growth slowing, this rise in grain use is largely the result of China’s huge population moving up the food chain and consuming more grain-based meat, milk, and eggs.
In 2013, the world consumed an estimated 107 million tons of pork—half of which was eaten in China. China’s 1.4 billion people now consume six times as much pork as the United States does. Even with its recent surge in pork, however, China’s overall meat intake per person still totals only 120 pounds per year, scarcely half the 235 pounds in the United States. But, the Chinese, like so many others around the globe, aspire to an American lifestyle. To consume meat like Americans do, China would need to roughly double its annual meat supply from 80 million tons to 160 million tons. Using the rule of thumb of three to four pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork, an additional 80 million tons of pork would require at least 240 million tons of feedgrain.
Where will this grain come from? Farmers in China are losing irrigation water as aquifers are depleted. The water table under the North China Plain, an area that produces half of the country’s wheat and a third of its corn, is falling fast, by over 10 feet per year in some areas. Meanwhile, water supplies are being diverted to nonfarm uses and cropland is being lost to urban and industrial construction. With China’s grain yield already among the highest in the world, the potential for China to increase production within its own borders is limited.
The 2013 purchase by a Chinese conglomerate of the American firm Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pig-growing and pork-processing company, was really a pork security move. So, too, is China’s deal with Ukraine to provide $3 billion in loans in exchange for corn, as well as negotiations with Ukrainian companies for access to land. Such moves by China exemplify the new geopolitics of food scarcity that affects us all.
China is not alone in the scramble for food. An estimated 2 billion people in other countries are also moving up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock products. The combination of population growth, rising affluence, and the conversion of one third of the U.S. grain harvest into ethanol to fuel cars is expanding the world demand for grain by a record 43 million tons per year, double the annual growth of a decade ago.
The world’s farmers are struggling to keep pace. When grain supplies tightened in times past, prices rose and farmers responded by producing more. Now the situation is far more complex. Water shortages, soil erosion, plateauing crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and climate change pose mounting threats to production.
As China imports increasing quantities of grain, it is competing directly with scores of other grain-importing countries, such as Japan, Mexico, and Egypt. The result will be a worldwide rise in food prices. Those living on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder—people who are already struggling just to survive—will find it even more difficult to get by. Low-income families trapped by food price inflation will be unable to afford enough food to eat every day.
The world is transitioning from an era of abundance to one dominated by scarcity. China’s turn to the outside world for massive quantities of grain is forcing us to recognize that we are in trouble on the food front. Can we reverse the trends that are tightening food supplies, or is the world moving toward a future of rising food prices and political unrest?"
# # # 

Lester R. Brown is president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Breaking New Ground: A Personal History and Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity. Check out our supporting slideshow for additional data. More resources are available at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1 Auto Company Tesla Motors Should Be Afraid Of

Thanks to Jack Gregg, our co-host in Boston, for a great article from The Motley Fool.  We've seen the BMW EV's up close at conferences, and interviewed some of their reps, and agree they are producing very nice electrics.  Their nameplate is significant and the loyalty to their cars is legendary.

For us, it does not matter who sells the most cars.  We simply want to put all  hybrids and electrics on the road.  The sooner the better, of course.

Get in touch with us if you drive a BMW EV.  Feel free to offer overall comments on any electric or hybrid as well:

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) has taken the auto world by storm by developing electric cars from the ground up, and in the process creating a new category of automobile that didn't exist just a few years ago. The success of the Model S, and anticipation for the Model X, have wowed the market and rewarded investors with a 486% gain in the last year alone.
Automakers like NissanGeneral Motors (NYSE: GM  ) , and Ford (NYSE: F  ) have halfheartedly followed suit, creating short-range electric vehicles that are often augmented by a gasoline-hybrid power train as well. But Tesla has mastered the EV market so far.
Why Detroit can't compete with Tesla
While GM and Ford have demonstrated an interest to play in the EV market, they're not the players to contend with Tesla in the high-five-figure auto market. The problem is that neither of these automakers provides a performance product to match a Tesla vehicle, nor do they offer much appeal for the affluent buyers who can afford electric vehicles, which is where the market is right now.
Not only is a Tesla Model S an EV that can appeal to the most environmentally conscious consumer, it's a performance machine that stacks up against some of the best sports cars in the world -- that's the key to its success.
From a design standpoint, the big reason automakers aren't making headway against Tesla is that they aren't yet building EV chassis and drive trains from the ground up the way Tesla has done. Tesla built its batteries into the car's floor to lower the center of gravity to increase performance and save space in the cabin. Instead, competitors are jamming battery packs into the existing vehicle design. 
But one company is taking a ground-up approach to EVs and it could be a big competitor to Tesla.
The one company Tesla should worry about
One company that is starting its EV design from scratch and has the ability to meet or exceed the performance of Tesla's Model S is BMW (NASDAQOTH: BAMXF  ) . The BMW i3 has batteries integrated into the floor of the vehicle, opening up the cabin for passengers. It also incorporates carbon fiber that lowers the curb weight to just over 2,600 pounds. That's a ton less than the 4,600-pound Model S (although the i3 is a smaller vehicle).  
Where BMW will be able to compete long term is in performance. Below are highlighted the performance specifications of the Model S and three BMW models: the M5 (BMW's closest conventional competitor to the Model S), i3, and i8.
0-60 mph
Top Speed
Base Cost
Tesla Model S
5.4 seconds
125 mph
265 miles
Tesla Model S Performance
4.2 seconds
130 mph
265 miles
3.6 seconds
190 mph
422 miles 
BMW i3
7.2 seconds 
93 mph
100 miles
BMW i8
4.4 seconds
155 mph 
22 miles electric
310 miles total
Source: Tesla and BMW data sheets
You can see that the i8 stacks up well with the Model S in performance, although it isn't an all-electric vehicle. The i3 isn't quick, but it extends range further than either Ford, GM, or Nissan have done in an all-electric model. It's also priced at an attractive level for many buyers.
At the very least, BMW has created a small line of vehicles that are a viable alternative to Tesla's.  Orders seem to reflect this fact: There were 10,000 orders for the i3 in place by late 2013 and BMW expects to sell out of the model this year. The i8 will be a much smaller production run, but it's also showing well with customers.  

BMW i8, the high-performance EV hybrid. Image courtesy of BMW.
BMW is now Tesla's long-term rival
BMW probably isn't going to take a significant number of customers from Tesla this year or next, but what's important is that it's building a platform that will compete in the future. Look at this as the same stage of development that Tesla was at when it launched the Roadster. It's the next-generation i3 and i8 that will be the real competition because engineers will have the ability to add range and improve performance.
The reason this is important to Tesla is that BMW has the scale and balance sheet to build true competition much faster than Tesla is expanding. If the i-series sells well, and BMW makes a big bet on the future of EVs, then Tesla will have a formidable competitor on its hands -- one that could very well exceed Tesla when it comes to vehicle performance.
There's even an outside chance that BMW could produce more electrified vehicles in 2015 than Tesla, based on current projections. That has to be causing a little worry at Tesla's headquarters in Silicon Valley.
U.S. automakers boomed after WWII, but the coming boom in the Chinese auto market will put that surge to shame! As Chinese consumers grow richer, savvy investors can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the help from this brand-new Motley Fool report that identifies two automakers to buy for a surging Chinese market. It's completely free -- just click here to gain access.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Supreme Court appears divided in battle over EPA climate regs

Very interesting report from Fox News.  Sometimes we forget what an important role the court's system plays in mapping our future.  Here's a good reminder.  We believe the new EPA rules make overall economic sense.  In a way they get us a step closer to a carbon tax, punishing polluters (which we know is controversial).  Yet, the Supreme Court stands in the way of enforcing the new standards.

Bringing about a balance between the economy and environment is not easy.  We can't tip in favor of too much regulation and expensive compliance as we will cripple companies.  Yet, our cheap energy and related pollution problems can't go on forever.  In fact, they've been allowed too long.

The fear is always that new regulations, and their costs, get passed on to the consumer.  So, are we, are you, willing to pay more for clean air?

"The Supreme Court appeared divided on Monday over the sole Obama administration program already in place to limit power plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming. 
The justices took on a small and complicated piece of the politically charged issue of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in an extended argument that included references to Dunkin' Donuts stores, football games and light bulbs. The examples were meant to illustrate the vast potential reach of the program, in its critics' view, or its limited nature, as the administration argued. 
The court's liberal justices seemed comfortable with the scope of an Environmental Protection Agency permitting program that applies to companies that want to expand facilities or build new ones that would increase overall pollution. Under the program, the companies must evaluate ways to reduce the carbon they release. Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas. 
However, conservative members of the bench indicated they're skeptical of the EPA's authority, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the probable decisive vote. 
One potentially narrow outcome would preserve the bulk of the program for facilities that already emit other pollutants that are regulated by the EPA. 
Opponents of the program at issue concede that the case does not involve EPA's proposal of first-time national standards for new power plants or its anticipated proposed regulations for existing plants, expected this summer. It will then move on to other large stationary sources such as factories. 
The case comes to the court as President Obama is stepping up his use of executive authority to act on environmental and other matters when Congress doesn't, or won't. Opponents of the EPA's program have called it a power grab of historic proportions. 
Republicans have objected strenuously to the administration's decision to push ahead with the regulations after Congress failed to pass climate legislation, and after the administration of President George W. Bush resisted such steps. Both sides agree that it would have been better to deal with climate change through legislation. 
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing for the administration, urged the court to leave the permitting program in place. "This is an urgent problem. Every year that passes, the problem gets worse and the problem for future generations gets worse," Verrilli said. 
In 2012, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the EPA was "unambiguously correct" in using existing federal law to address global warming. 
Kennedy joined the court's four liberal justices in the 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that said the agency has the authority under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicles. 
Two years later, with Obama in office, the EPA concluded that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases endangered human health and welfare. The administration used that finding to extend its regulatory reach beyond automobiles and develop national standards for large stationary sources. Of those, electric plants are the largest source of emissions. 
Chief Justice John Roberts noted that he was in dissent in the 2007 case, along with Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, but that the decision remains in force. The justices declined a request to reconsider that ruling as well as the core EPA decisions that underlie the permitting program. 
The utility industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 13 states led by Texas are asking the court to rule that the EPA overstepped its authority by trying to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the permitting program. 
"Greenhouse gases are not included within the (permitting) program at all," said Peter Keisler, representing the American Chemistry Council among two dozen manufacturing and industry groups that want the court to throw out the rule. 
In addition to environmental groups, New York, California, Illinois and a dozen other states are supporting the administration, along with the American Thoracic Society, which filed a brief detailing the health costs of climate change. 
Also in support of the regulation is Calpine Corp., which operates natural gas and geothermal power plants around the nation. Calpine said it has gone through the permitting program six times and found it "neither overly burdensome nor unworkable." 
Looking at the same program, the Chamber of Commerce said it "may be the costliest, most intrusive regulatory program the nation has yet seen."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On the radio side/Renewable

We just posted a great interview with Kelly Simmons, Sustainability Program Manager at The University of Colorado, Sustainability Center.  Here's some info and a link to a great show:


University of Colorado's Environmental Center      

Kelly Simmons from the University of Colorado joined Renewable Now and spoke to us about the University of Colorado's excellent course selections on Sustainability. Kelly Simmons is the manager of the Sustainable Practices Program at The Environmental Center of the University of Colorado. The school is one of the first universities in the state. There are thirty thousand enrolled students there.

They are very well known for courses in sustainability both here and internationally. Her program is a training program aimed at working professionals.

The Environmental Center at the University of Colorado is funded by student fees.

Kelly's program, "Sustainable Practices," was originally offered as an academic program in the continuing educational department. For a host of reasons, the program was discontinued, but The Environmental Center took a keen interest in allowing Kelly to have offices in their building. The program Kelly offers takes the sustainable practices and skills that are available on campus and in the community of Boulder, Colorado and offers them as a training program to professionals around the country and around the world. Sustainability is one of the fastest growing career paths in the country, so Kelly offers professional development in sustainability as a course to help teach people in a new economy.University of Colorado  Sustainable Education. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Minn. Habitat house is super energy-efficient

This is a short article but insightful as to the building standards we can aim towards, even on housing that is on a tight budget.  Kudos to Habitat for having the vision to understand that an additional investment upfront can help reduce operating costs and keep people in homes.

Thanks to Seattle EPI. com for the story:

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A new Habitat for Humanityhouse in north Minneapolis is the group's first home built to use solar energy for heating, cooling and hot water.
University of Minnesota architecture students designed the house to be "Net Zero," meaning it generates at least as much energy as it uses. It's part of a larger project that aims to build 100 energy-efficient, eco-friendly homes within five years, Minnesota Public Radio reported ( ).
"We always build as efficiently as we can," said Matt Haugen, a spokesman for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. "But this is above and beyond what we normally do."
The house cost $213,000 to build. The more traditional Habitat house next door cost $160,000.

Quonset Development Corporation’s push for renewable energy continues with lease for 500-kilowatt solar farm

This story, from The Providence Journal in RI, begets the question, at least in our mind, why are some commercial centers/industrial parks so successful in pushing a sustainable change, including the use of clean energy, and others do nothing?  Could the managers at Quonset apply their expertise to other commercial centers in RI?

Let us know if you have industrial areas enjoying the same push for sustainability.  

NORTH KINGSTOWN — The Quonset Business Park is continuing its push into renewable energy with the approval on Tuesday of a lease for a 500-kilowatt solar farm proposed by a Colorado-based developer.
The Quonset Development Corporation’s unanimous vote in favor of an agreement with Bella Energy follows the approval last December of a similar-sized solar project in the park planned by a subsidiary of rTerra, a Middletown clean-energy firm.
The state-owned business park on Narragansett Bay is quietly becoming a hub for renewable power in Rhode Island as the QDC looks to maximize the use of marginal properties that are not suitable for traditional development.
“We’re trying to fit it in where we can,” said Steven King, managing director of the Quonset Development Corporation. “We wouldn’t otherwise put development on these properties.”
Much has been written about Deepwater Wind’s selection of the Port of Davisville in the business park as the staging area for its two proposed offshore wind farms in waters off Rhode Island. The projects are massive and would create hundreds of jobs during assembly and installation.
State officials have talked of positioning the port as a construction center for the offshore wind industry on the East Coast. But Deepwater’s first wind farm, a five-turbine demonstration project off Block Island, won’t start installation until fall 2015 at the earliest. Other projects are still years away.
But in the meantime, a series of smaller clean-energy projects in the 3,207-acre business park have been moving forward one after another. In 2011, Toray Plastics America built a 445-kilowatt solar field at its manufacturing plant where thin plastic films are made. The factory, which is the largest individual consumer of electricity in Rhode Island, has also invested in two cogeneration plants that make it largely independent of the power grid.
At the time it was installed, Toray’s solar array was the largest in Rhode Island. That system seems almost quaint in comparison to newer projects.
What is now the state’s biggest solar project — a 3.7-megawatt facility — was installed last fall on top of a closed landfill in East Providence. But the Quonset Business Park has the second-largest array in the state, a 2.4-megawatt system that Boston developer Nexamp built last summer on top of two industrial buildings in West Davisville.
The system is five times the size of Toray’s and is tied for the largest rooftop solar project in New England.
Last September, NEO Energy, of New Hampshire, announced plans for a 500-kilowatt plant in the park that would generate energy by burning the gas given off by rotting food. The anaerobic digester would take food scraps from restaurants and supermarkets to create biogas and the organic matter left over from the process would be sold as compost.
The project comes at a time when legislation has been filed in the General Assembly to redirect food waste from the state’s Central Landfill to biogas plants and compost operations.
NEO’s proposal and recent solar projects in the park, including a 330-kilowatt rooftop system being built on a building owned by food distributor All American Foods, have all been made possible because of the state’s distributed generation program, a three-year-old initiative that allows renewable-energy developers to bid on long-term contracts with National Grid, Rhode Island’s dominant utility.
“The state has taken a leadership position in creating a viable program for businesses,” said Frank Epps, president and CEO of rTerra.
His company and Bella Energy both won 15-year contracts in the program’s final application round in 2013. Bella Energy will be paid 14.8 cents a kilowatt hour for the electricity its project generates while rTerra will be paid 19 cents per kilowatt hour. Both prices are higher than National Grid’s standard offer rate of 8.6 cents a kilowatt hour, which includes power from fossil fuels and other renewable sources, but they are lower than the prices given out in previous years of the distributed generation program.
Epps said that rTerra has become the largest solar installer in the state after receiving three other contracts through the program, including pacts for a 2-megawatt project in West Greenwich and a 1.8-megawatt project in Johnston. The plans in the Quonset Business Park call for installing up to 300 solar panels along Newcomb Road on a 5.4-acre parcel that is difficult to develop because of its location and shape.
Bella Energy, of Louisville, Colo., entered the Rhode Island market two years ago in response to a request for proposals for solar development from the Quonset Development Corporation.
The firm looked at a host of parcels in the park before settling on a 5.2-acre property off Camp Avenue that has limited access, is sloped and sits adjacent to a capped landfill that dates to the days when a naval station occupied Quonset Point. QDC documents describe the land as “marginal at best.”
The solar array will consist of 1,620 panels that will occupy an actual area of about 1.5 acres. It will produce enough power for about 90 typical homes. Under the 15-year deal with the QDC, Bella will pay $9,516.12 annually for the land.
The company, which is also planning a 1.3-megawatt solar farm at the MetLife campus in West Warwick, plans to start work on the Quonset project in the fall.
“It’s a property that doesn’t have much use,” said Hunter Strader, Bella Energy’s representative in Providence. “We figure that would be a great area for solar.”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Electric Cars Are Great in Vermont, Not So Great in Kentucky/Mother Jones magazine

Great article from Mother Jones.  What state do you live in?  Could you help push sales of EV's there?

Rhode Island, as an example, just installed over 50 car-charging stations.  That put aside the resistance of "no place to charge; will run out of power" in this small state.  Part of the hurdle to ramping up EV sales, at least here in the US, has been what comes first--charging facilities or cars to use them?  Obviously, some states have overcome those hurdles and are leading the pack.  We'd love to see other states follow suite.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback:

Climate Central has some bad news for all of us eco-sensitive folks: figuring out the best car to drive is harder than you think. For starters, you need to take into account which state you live in. If you live in, say, Washington or Vermont, where most of your electricity comes from hydropower or nuclear, an electric car is pretty carbon friendly. If you live in Kentucky, where your power mostly comes from coal, an electric car isn't such a good choice.
But there's more. You also need to account for the carbon emissions it takes to build the car in the first place. And since battery manufacturing is pretty carbon intensive, a car with a bigbattery starts out with a big carbon deficit to make up

In 26 states, a plug-in hybrid is the most climate-friendly option(narrowly outperforming all-electrics in 11 states, assuming 50:50 split between between driving on gas and electric for the plug-in hybrids), and in the other 24 states, a gas-powered car the best. All-electrics and plug-in hybrids are best in states with green electrical grids with substantial amounts of hydro, nuclear and wind power that produce essentially no carbon emissions. Conventional hybrids are best in states where electricity comes primarily from coal and natural gas.
The table on the right shows Climate Central's total lifecycle ranking of various cars based on 50,000 miles of driving and U.S. average electrical emissions. All-electric cars do better if you live in a state with lots of hydropower, and they also do better if you drive more, since that provides more time to make up the carbon deficit from manufacturing the battery.
You can read the whole report for more details, including rankings for each state. In Vermont, the all-electric Honda Fit comes in first. In California, a plug-in Prius is the top choice. In Kentucky, a regular gasoline-powered hybrid Prius is number one. The lovely Tesla S, sadly, does poorly pretty much everywhere.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homeowner’s calculations show his LED lights will pay off big

Here's another great example of a very basic program the lends itself to substantial rewards.

Tomorrow we'll have a great piece on why some states are selling more electric cars than others:

Homeowner’s calculations show his LED lights will pay off big

Dave Lippert shows the LED lights by Viribright that he has installed in his Jackson Township, Ohio, home.

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Would you jump at an opportunity to turn $975 into more than $8,000?
Dave Lippert did. And he thinks you should, too.
A year and a half ago, Lippert replaced most of the light bulbs in his home with energy-saving LED bulbs, and he’s tracked his energy savings ever since. By his calculations, he will have saved enough on his electric bill by April 2015 to recoup the $975 he paid for the bulbs. And over their lifetime, he figures, those bulbs will save $8,186 in electricity costs in today’s dollars.
Lippert embarked on his study to amass the hard evidence he needed to convince friends and family members that efficient lighting saves real money.
His intense interest isn’t surprising. He’s a retiree from the electric utility industry and a details person by nature. Since the day he and his wife, Leslie, moved into their home in 1973, he has tracked all their natural gas and electrical use and costs.
Lippert is also enthusiastic about making upgrades to the house to save energy, some of which were recommended by a 2008 home energy audit conducted through Dominion East Ohio’s Home Performance With Energy Star Program.
Around 2010 or 2011, Lippert’s interest in energy savings led him to start thinking about replacing his incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED versions, but big box stores didn’t sell LED bulbs that met all his needs. He found Viribright Lighting Inc. on the Internet, liked what he saw in its catalog and, with the help of some of its staff, purchased enough bulbs for almost all the lamps and light fixtures in his 2,400-square-foot house. The only exceptions were lights for which he couldn’t get LED replacements or that don’t use LED bulbs, such as a few fixtures that use clear candelabra bulbs or fluorescent tubes.
In all, he replaced lighting that used 3,656 watts of electricity with 638 watts’ worth of LED bulbs, all of them dimmable. And he did something else: He purposely avoided adding or subtracting any electrical device in the house for a year to add some measure of control to his study.
“There’s nothing we did different, because I was trying to isolate it to the light bulbs,” he said.
Then he started watching the energy savings roll in.
In one year, the Lipperts reduced their electricity use nearly 19 percent, from 12,590 killowatt-hours to 10,217. Because Lippert locked into a lower electric rate during that time, their spending on electricity dropped more than 25 percent, from $1,599.03 to $1,190.75. That’s an annual saving of $408.26 and an annual rate of return on his investment of 41.87 percent, he calculated.
Lippert figured the lights in his house are typically on an average of 3.4 hours a day, so those LED bulbs should last a little more than 20 years if they live up to their claim to keep burning for 25,000 hours. So based on his costs during the one-year study, he calculated he would save $8,186 in electricity over the life of the bulbs.
Actually, the saving may be even greater; when he figures in the results from the months since his one-year study ended, his energy savings increase even more, to about $445 on an annualized basis.
Lippert doesn’t recommend everyone follow his lead and change all their lighting at once. For most people, he said, it makes more sense to replace bulbs one by one, as the less efficient bulbs burn out.
But Lippert is 75 and didn’t want to wait. “I wanted to be able to show results,” he said. “I couldn’t show results one bulb at a time.”
Nor does he think it’s wise to dispose of working light bulbs. He donated the bulbs he removed to St. Joseph Church in Massillon, Ohio, for its use.
Lippert was careful to consider the color of the lighting he chose for various areas of his house. In the kitchen, for example, he used cool white light in the ceiling can lights to match the existing under-cabinet lighting, but he put a daylight bulb in a fixture over the kitchen table. Its bluer, brighter light makes it easier for aging eyes to read the newspaper, he explained.
The laundry room and some of the lamps in the living room and sun room have warmer lights that are similar to incandescent light. The warmer light doesn’t change the appearance of the walls’ paint colors the way bluer light would, and it produces a more pleasing hue when it shines through the colored glass in one Tiffany-style shade, he said.
Lippert enjoys sharing his findings, and he summarized them in a report he distributed to family members and friends. He hopes it will encourage them to try the new technology, particularly the individuals who are reluctant to give up their old-style light bulbs.
Lippert, on the other hand, embraces change.
“To me, this is enjoyable,” he said. “I’m learning something new. I’m looking to the future.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Here's a second update from MA

Good  second story out of MA on a very basic, nuts and bolts program that brings real value to our fight to use new technology to reduce pollution levels. Also, there's clear financial value as homeowners upgrade and invest in new systems.

Patrick Administration Announces $1 Million for New Round of Popular Woodstove Trade-in Program
Residents are eligible for rebates of up to $2,000 toward the purchase of newer models that use less wood and reduce air pollutant emissions
WHATELY – Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced a new round of the Commonwealth’s Woodstove Change-out Program, committing up to $1 million to assist residents in replacing their inefficient woodstoves for healthier, higher-efficiency models.
“The Patrick Administration is committed to supporting programs that allow everyone - from residents to businesses to municipalities - to get involved in our clean energy initiatives,” said Secretary Sullivan. “These newer stoves save families money every month and lead to cleaner air for all citizens of the Commonwealth.”
The program, first launched as a pilot last winter, provides vouchers of $750 or $2,000 to Massachusetts residents looking to trade in their existing non-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified stoves for models that use less wood and release less pollution into the air.
Secretary Sullivan made the announcement at The Fire Place in Whately, which redeemed the most vouchers of any retailer in the Commonwealth under the pilot program. In total, last year’s pilot program assisted in the replacement of more than 450 old, inefficient stoves.
The Commonwealth Woodstove Change-out Program is administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and funded jointly by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and MassCEC.
“Clean energy adoption comes in many shapes and sizes, and this program allows residents to participate in Massachusetts’ thriving clean energy economy by choosing to upgrade their woodstoves,” said MassCEC CEO Alicia Barton. “We’re excited to build upon the success of last year’s program and continue helping residents take control of their energy use right in their own homes.”
“It is always exciting when we can make cleaner energy more accessible to more of the Commonwealth’s residents,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “These vouchers will help residents save money on upfront costs and monthly wood costs, while helping the Commonwealth reduce air pollution.”
“One of our top environmental priorities is to greatly improve air quality across the Commonwealth, and this program will continue to retire older woodstoves and replace them with lower-emission models,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Once installed, the new woodstoves will significantly reduce fine particle pollution that threatens the health of our citizens and our communities.”
Low-income residents who provide proof of enrollment in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), MassHealth or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are eligible for a $2,000 rebate, while other Massachusetts residents are eligible for a $750 rebate.
MassCEC is accepting applications until March 4, 2014, at which time properly-completed applications will be evaluated and qualified for vouchers.
To qualify, residents must have an existing woodstove to trade in and must receive approval for a rebate before purchasing the woodstove. Woodstoves purchased before a rebate is awarded are not eligible for the program. Residents can apply for a voucher by submitting a paper application or online application. Access the online application, and more information on the program, byvisiting Once an application is approved, MassCEC will issue a voucher which can be redeemed at any participating woodstove dealer in Massachusetts for a discount on the retail price of the stove. MassCEC will then reimburse retailers for the value of the voucher.

Massachusetts Ranks 4th in Nation for LEED Green Building

This does not surprise us.  Here on our blog and on our radio show, we've covered some great, sustainable stories out of MA.  We, of course, have a co-host right in Back Bay, Jack Greg who is doing a great job finding positive stories and reporting for us.

You will note that Boston has enjoyed a very hot commercial real estate market.  Some of the very hottest properties are those that meet high standards for efficiency and reduced operating costs   Facilities, too, that are able to somewhat fix utility costs because of clean energy systems and their push to get off the grid.

Buildings have a significant impact on air quality.  Air quality is dicey, given the density of people, facilities and cars, in all cities.  We applaud MA, Ill, MD, VA and others that work in conjunction with the USGBC and build to a cleaner, brighter future. 

We've included some links for more info:

"BOSTON– Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – The Patrick Administration today announced Massachusetts has been ranked 4th in the nation for sustainable building design, construction and operation by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
“We are proud to receive this honor because we are committed to shaping our energy future and protecting our environment,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “Designing and constructing our buildings with energy and the environment in mind reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves the air we breathe and saves people money.”
Massachusetts ranked behind Illinois, Maryland and Virginia, and had 101 Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified projects in 2013. Massachusetts also ranked 4th in last year’s survey.
To calculate its rankings, USGBC used per-capita figures as a measure of the human element of green building, allowing for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings.
“In the face of extraordinary global challenge of climate change, our national imperative to create resource-efficient and cost-effective green buildings has never been greater,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Massachusetts has a strong base of dedicated individuals who are using LEED to transform its built infrastructure into high-performing spaces that promote the health of our planet and the people who use these buildings each and every day.”
Several projects certified in 2013 were noted in USGBC’s list, including the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, the first university research computing center to achieve LEED Platinum certification, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Wall Experiment Center in Lawrence, which is LEED Platinum certified. The high standards achieved by these state facilities were driven by Governor Patrick’s Leading by Example Program, which requires state building construction to meet a LEED Plus standard that includes higher energy and water conservation expectations.
The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts number one for three years running. Last year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal of 1,600 megawatts installed by 2020, after Massachusetts reached the previous goal of installing 250 megawatts by 2017, four years early. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year; nearly 80,000 people are employed in the cleantech industry in Massachusetts."
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