Tony Fadell discusses Nest

Here’s an excellent interview with Tony Fadell of Nest where he discussed the ways Nest can help consumers save energy. Even more interesting is how Nest is being paid by electric power companies to help smooth out power spikes.

Kevin Rose does an excellent job with the interview and it’s worth checking out. They discuss a wide variety of topics including outsourcing to China, Kickstarter and other challenges facing hardware startups. You can follow Fadell on Twitter here.

WEEE Recycling – What does it mean for businesses?

ID-10060928 recycling
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Did you know that each year, between 20 to 50 million tons of electrical waste is disposed of across the world?
The world we now live in is influenced by a digital culture whereby technology is advancing at such a rapid speed; new products and innovative upgrades are no longer an uncommon occurrence and have become part of our everyday life. All of this has made it far easier and acceptable to replace existing electronic equipment with the newest model to keep up with current trends.

E-waste is becoming one of the fastest expanding waste networks in this day and age, which is where WEEE recycling comes in.

What is WEEE recycling?

WEEE stands for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment and it was a directive set up to deal with and reduce the amount of electrical products and equipment that end up as waste.
With only a minute percentage of this type of waste actually being recycled, the initiative looks to target businesses that manufacture, import or distribute these types of EEE products and ensure they comply with regulations.

How do I know if I am an EEE business?

If you operate within the UK and are any of the following, you will be classed as an EEE producer business and will need to comply with the scheme:

• Importer of electronic and electrical equipment
• Manufacturer of electronic and electrical equipment
• Re-brander of electronic and electrical equipment

Retailers who stock and sell electrical goods will be classed as distributors under the act and will need to follow specific guidelines.

What does it mean for my business

As a producer of electrical products, you have a responsibility to follow the regulations set out no matter the size of your organisation.
The WEEE initiative provides businesses with guidance and advice to help decipher when an electrical product is classed as waste and when it is not. This will help to encourage and change the thought process within businesses and minimise the amount of waste being thrown away.

Regulations are set up now to ensure the waste is dealt with in the correct manner and will not harm the environment, this means a change for businesses in terms of procedures, processes as well as culture. However, this legislation will ultimately help to make businesses become greener to reduce their EEE waste.

If you feel your business falls within these categories, please visit the environmental agency online for further information on this legislation.

This post has been contributed by Enviro Waste, a leading rubbish removal company who is putting the environment at the heart of its activities.

Things casinos are doing to become more environmentally friendly

Now that “green” issues have gone mainstream it is vital for any business sector that wants to stay competitive to address public concerns about their impact on the environment. The highly successful (it is worth $30 billion) casino industry is one of those which is doing so. Perhaps the single biggest move it has made towards reducing its impact on the environment is the development of online casino, like JackpotCity. Having the ability to play casino games – and run casinos – on a remote, electronic basis, leads to reductions in everything from paper waste to energy use.

However when it comes to land-based casinos, it is those in America which have proven to be market leaders. When it comes to environmental friendliness, those casinos which are members of the American Gaming Association have been particularly proactive. An example of this would be the measures taken to reduce electricity consumption through lighting. Many AGA casino are replacing the incandescent lights used on their marquees, with cold cathode ones – which has the potential to cut lighting energy consumption by a massive 75%. This is just one of the steps being taken by these casinos to improve energy efficiency.

There are also changes being made to ensure that the excess heat created by the large boilers employed in casinos does not get wasted. Some casinos are doing this by using this excess heat to provide power for generators, while others are using it to heat water required for the running of the casino. Throw in the recycling measures also being employed by AGA casinos – with some managing to recycle as much as 75% of the waste material generated in the everyday operation of the casino – and it is clear that those US casinos which operate under the umbrella of the American Gaming Association are leading the field when it comes to “green” initiatives.

Of course with the rise in online casinos such as riverbelle there has been an impact on the amount of emissions caused by vehicle travel to land based casinos.

Tom Steyer dives into Virginia governor race

Tom Steyer has been making plenty of news as a philanthropist and environmental activist, but lately the billionaire has made it clear he is going to do his best to alter the political landscape by supporting politicians that share his concerns for global warming and sustainability.

He has been very vocal against the Keystone pipeline, and now he’s getting involved in the 2013 race for governor in Virginia.

Tom Steyer, the environmentalist billionaire who has mounted a national campaign opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, has directed his political operation to spend heavily in the Virginia governor’s race in support of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, POLITICO has learned.

Steyer, a California-based financier, instructed advisers on Friday to launch television ads starting this week. The paid-media blitz from his group, NextGen Climate Action, will be the opening salvo in what’s expected to be a much larger effort aimed at mobilizing and turning out climate-oriented voters in a key off-year gubernatorial race.

The enterprise will be a test both of Steyer’s individual influence in electoral politics, and of the impact of heavily-funded advocacy politics within the Democratic Party. The bet, for Steyer, is that making climate issues a prominent part of the Virginia election will nudge the center of national politics in a greener direction, shaping the political landscape for 2014 and 2016 and giving environmental interests a stronger hand to play in Washington policy debates.

McAuliffe has a good record on environmental issues, but the real motivation has to be his GOP opponent Ken Cuccinelli, who Steyer called an “environmental nightmare.” Cuccinelli seems to have backward views on everything, as he’s even tried to support Virginia’s old laws against adultery. So it’s no surprise that he’s against any real efforts to stem global warming, and he basically engaged in a which hunt against University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann according to McAuliffe and many commentators. Let’s hope Steyer is successful here.

Rain barrels and rain gardens

If you’re looking for a way to become more green with your lifestyle, think about using rain barrels and a rain garden. Here’s an article of how they are being used in Cleveland.

Karen McKay, who lives at the end of Klusner Avenue in Parma, across the street from West Creek Reservation, recently had a rain garden and two rain barrels installed on her property.

That would be unremarkable under most circumstances. After all, lots of environment-minded gardeners are hooking up rain barrels, which are cisterns that collect and store rainwater that would otherwise run off of roofs and into storm drains and streams. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a substantial amount of the pollution in streams, rivers and lakes — including fertilizers, pesticides and yard clippings — is carried there by runoff from yards and gardens.

Rain gardens are often referred to as “a beautiful solution to pollution.” Typically filled with native plants that require less water, a rain garden is a shallow depression planted at the base of a downspout, driveway or sump pump to capture rainwater runoff and stop it from reaching the sewer system or waterways.

You can also check out the video above on how to make your own rain barrel.

Will lower birth rates help the environment?

girl in nightclub

Girls just want to have fun. Or at least they don’t want to have as many babies as before. This is true in places like the United States, where a Western lifestyle has changed behavior, but also in other parts of the world where women are becoming more empowered and making the decision to have fewer children. Thus, the population around the world is aging.

Americans just don’t make babies like they used to. The U.S. birthrate is the lowest in nearly a century, according to a study released last year by the Pew Research Center. It’s half the level of the Baby Boom years after World War II. American women, on average, are likely to have fewer than two children during their lifetime, which means not enough babies are being born to maintain the current population size. Even among new arrivals, the trend is declining: The birthrate among Mexican immigrants to the U.S. has plummeted 23 percent since 2007.

This reproductive recession is not unique to America; it’s a global phenomenon. Women just about everywhere are having fewer kids and having them later in life. The world is about to get a lot older very fast.

This will present some challenges for economic growth, but the article explains that efficiencies could save us there.

More importantly, population explosion is one of the biggest challenges we have for the environment, so this trend could actually be a very good thing.

Air-Powered Cars

Here’s a new kind of hybrid car that might just start another revolution in car design.

If you’re looking for a hybrid with superior mileage per gallon, then compressed air may be your thing. PSA Peugeot Citroen says its new C3 VTi 82 hatchback–which it unveils at a motor show next month–will go 81 miles, in optimum conditions. That’s compared to the Toyota Prius’s roughly 45 mile performance. And there’s no need for expensive, and heavy, lithium batteries. The compressed air system provides power as well as storage: as with other hybrids, it recovers energy from a gasoline engine when you brake or slow down.

From the video, you can see that the Air Hybrid system works in three modes, depending on the neighborhood. Above 43 miles per hour, it uses a conventional engine. Around town, it goes on air alone. And then there’s a combined mode when you need more power at lower speeds. An electronic management unit switches modes automatically.

The idea of powering a car using compressed air isn’t particularly new–several companies have explored the technology. But PSA Peugeot Citroen is the first major one to go big on it, developing a drive-train it hopes to use across several models, including light commercial vans. The company hasn’t released prices yet, saying only that the vehicles will be “competitive both in European and international markets,” but that is likely to be a major draw. Lithium batteries remain uncompetitively expensive.

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids offer incredible potential, and we’re seeing progress with hydrogen fuel cells as well. But with compressed air you have a novel approach that produces ZERO emissions when in that mode. That’s pretty impressive. Expect to hear much more about this, as it’s also much more practical than things like the AIRpod, which relies totally on compressed air but doesn’t have the size and range of this hybrid.

One Simple Thing: Reconsider Your Toilet

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

If we are going to make it as a society, we are going to have to make some tough, potentially gross decisions. One of those decisions centers around the toilet. A standard toilet in the average American household uses five gallons of water per flush and is flushed four times per day per person; that comes out to an average of 30 thousand gallons of water per year for a family of four.

If you want to reduce the water used by your toilet, you have four options.

Option 1: Get a low flow toilet.
Total potential water savings: 18, 500 gallons per year

There are a variety of low flow toilets on the market, and they way better than you think. Sure, some of them may have flushing problems for bigger “loads,” but with a little research, you can find the right one for you. Additionally, many of these models use different amounts of water for solid and liquid waste.

Option 2: Try to flush half as often.
Total potential water savings: 15,000 gallons per year
Total savings if combined with a low flow toilet: 20,000 gallons per year

If you have a standard toilet you would be saving around 15,000 gallons. With a low flow toilet, you would save around 5,000 additional gallons per year.

Option 3: Flush only for solid waste:
Total potential water savings: 22,800 gallons per year
Total potential water savings with a low flow toilet: 27,700 gallons per year
If you want to save even more water, you can try to only flush your toilet for solid waste. Sure, things may get a little grosser, but if you close your toilet seat every time, things shouldn’t get too bad.

Option 4: Compost that crap!
Total potential water savings: 30,000 gallons per year (Everything!)

If you want to almost completely eliminate the water that passes through your toilet each year, you could consider a composting toilet. With a composting toilet you take what normally passes through your toilet and simply bury it, or even use it to fertilize your flowers. Contrary to what you may think, composting toilets can be rater sophisticated and do not smell if properly maintained (as with any toilet). However, it is entirely understandable if you don’t want to go quite that far. However, if you are interested in this option, you could check it out here .

However you choose to save water, just be sure it works for you. Good luck!

One Simple Way: Turn Off the Lights!

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If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good you are concerned with the environment. Unfortunately, many of us don’t do as much as we can as far as conservation goes. Most typically, this is because we either don’t know what we could do, or we think measures are overly difficult or expensive. These inhibitions are not completely unfounded. Installing solar panels can be quite expensive, and gray water systems can be quite an ordeal. There are a plethora of simple changes that we each can make that are simple, inexpensive, and can positively impact the environment. This is the first of a series of articles that provide you with such solutions.

Today’s topic is reducing or eliminating unneeded lighting. In less sophisticated circles, this is known as ‘turning off the freaking lights when you leave the room.” I know I may sound like your parents when you were a kid, but I am going to put you on the spot. Are there any unneeded lights on in your house right now? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes. However, if you have more than just a few lights on, don’t feel too bad. Energy use is often overlooked because, unlike physical waste, it does not sit around our house until we take it out. In the United States, approximately 50 percent of electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants. These plants emit sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and heavy metals (including mercury).

Turning off unneeded lights is simple and free. In fact, it is better than free; it can save you money. It is simply a matter of changing habits. While the exact level of energy conservation depends on the type of bulbs you are currently using, your region, and the size of your dwelling, it is a reliable rule that if you are not using a light, you should turn it off.

If the environmental benefits are not enough to entice you, energy conservation through lighting can be a very frugal option. A very nice breakdown can be found here. Using natural lighting may also have health benefits. Many people find transitioning to natural light from artificial calming. This calming effect may be caused by renewed exposure to full spectrum lighting, which is very difficult to recreate via artificial light sources.

Helpful Tips

The hardest thing about turning off lights is breaking bad habits. Here are a few tips to help you change your behavior and save money.
*Try putting reminders next to switches or room exits/doors.
*Try going without artificial light during the day. You will be surprised how much energy you waste simply because you are in the habit of turning on switches when you enter certain rooms.
*At night, consider using task lighting instead of lighting the whole room. For example, if you are writing, use a desk lamp instead of lighting your entire office.
*If you have outdoor lighting, consider putting it on a timer or switching to solar powered lamps.

I hope you found these suggestions helpful. Check out the site next week for your next Simple Way to be a little more green.

Google pushes towards zero-carbon emissions


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As a company, Google has a bunch of issues. They have absurdly terrible customer service and treat their affiliates like crap.

But they treat their employees well, and they are also one of the companies leading the charge in carbon emissions and sustainability.

As the double-decker bus turns onto Charleston Road and starts winding through Google’s Mountain View, Calif., campus, I stretch out in the business-class-size seat, admiring the smoothness of the black leather and the plush gray carpeting at my feet. A spacious table expands to hold a laptop, which can connect to the vehicle’s Wi-Fi system. This $800,000 luxury double-decker is one of 73 buses that Google owns and operates. (It leases 26 others.) Each day the fleet transports about 4,500 employees, or about a third of those working at the Googleplex, as the company’s headquarters is known.

It turns out that Google (GOOG) isn’t offering a free ride simply as an employee perk — the buses actually save the company money. Yes, there’s the added productivity of 4,500 employees working an extra couple of hours each day while riding to and from work. But Google’s bus service is about much more than that. Real estate in Mountain View is expensive. Underground parking spaces cost as much as $85,000 to construct. (Really!) If Google had to build a parking space for each of the bus riders, the price tag would run to almost $400 million. And that’s not counting the lost opportunity cost of not using that land for new office buildings.

Google has made other investments in transportation too. If, during the day, a Google-ite needs to run an errand or pick up a sick kid at school, he or she can hop into one of 52 electric and hybrid cars parked on campus. The company also encourages employees to drive electrics. It has spent an estimated $3 million to $4 million to install 395 chargers — the largest corporate electric-vehicle infrastructure in the country.

Finding creative solutions to energy issues has become a major priority for Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page in recent years.

Read the entire article. Other companies may not have the resources to do everything Google is trying, but they can set a great example when it comes to cost-effective solutions for responsible companies.

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