Category Archives: Carbon Footprint

Fat Cow – Saving the Environment One Website at a Time

It was recently brought to my attention that the electricity used to run and host our two websites (anywheresolartech.com and pnsenergy.com) is offset 200% by wind energy! That means that Fat Cow, our website host, compensates for twice the electricity it takes to run their business and our websites.

Wind Power Farm in Texas

They don’t personally produce that much power with wind mills outside their office but for any electricity they use, they purchase RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) as a “Green Power Partner” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By doing so, they prevent the release of 999 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

Fat Cow is committed to supporting clean energy and they also stress responsible environmental behavior in and out of the office and we are proud to be associated with this forward thinking company.

Dairy Cow

For those who were disappointed we weren’t talking about real cows.

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Filed under Alternative Fuel, Carbon Footprint, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Renewable Energy, San Diego, Uncategorized

Greening Beer – Notes and Highlights

For your viewing pleasure I will combine two things I greatly enjoy: Beer and the Environment. When breweries make it a priority to reduce their impact on the environment and try to give back, only great things can happen. Here are a select few that are doing just that; enjoy, and feel free to suggest other breweries that are making a difference (I know there are many more out there).
Central Waters Brewing Company – Amherst, Wisconsin
  • 1000 square feet of solar thermal collectors. The collectors produce around 2500 therms per year and Central Waters will save between $1.4 and $1.5 million over the life of the system.

    Solar Thermal Collectors at Central Waters Brewery

  • The brewery also uses a radiant floor heating system and more energy efficient lighting systems
  • They also work with local farmers in order to recycle the grain used in the brewing process. The spent grain is taken by the farmers and used as feed for livestock, and also as a compost.
Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • In February 2012, Brewery Vivant was honored with the first Silver LEED certification awarded to a microbrewery in the U.S. and also published their first sustainability report. (triplepundit.com)
  • The brewery offsets 100 percent of its energy usage through purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs)
  • They choose to deliver their beer in aluminum cans. Cans protect the beer from light, oxygen, and other factors that could negatively affect the taste. Cans are also easier to transport and are more easily recycled (54% of aluminum cans are recycled in the US, vs 36% of glass bottles being recycled).
  • Very aggressive economic, social, and environmental goals that put them on the fast track to being a leader in the microbrewery industry. Some of those goals include:
    • Zero waste to landfill
    • 50% of food inputs from within 250 miles and 25% of beer inputs from 250 miles
    • 10% onsite renewable energy generation
    • Employee profit sharing program
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company – Chico, California (One of my personal favorites)
  • They completed what is now one of the largest privately owned solar installations in the country in December of 2008. They currently have a carport array that has a potential output of 503 kW DC and they also have a rooftop array that produces an additional 1.42 Megawatts DC. They also have an array on the daycare facility that has a potential capacity of 5.18 kW DC and another array on the rail facility that can produce 14 kW DC. All-in-all, the solar systems at Sierra Nevada are capable of producing 1.94 Megawatts DC. (Sierra Nevada Environmental Stewardship)
  • Sierra Nevada also produced another first when they installed hydrogen fuel cells in 2005, the first brewing operation in the United States to do so. This system consists of four 300 kW fuel cell energy units that can produce 1.2 Megawatts DC when combined. You can check out their real time power production here.

    Fuel Cells at the Sierra Nevada Brewery

  • Sierra Nevada implements many other energy efficiency and sustainable practices including:
    • Ultra efficient lighting system and the use of daylighting
    • The recycling of waste heat
    • They divert 99.6% of solid waste from the landfill with a goal to reach 100%
    • HotRot Composting System – providing compost for their hop field, restaurant garden, and employee garden area.
    • Use homegrown ingredients in beer and restaurant.
    • Transportation – They utilize a hybrid electric local route truck, constructed a rail car unloading facility near their plant to reduce the negative impact of transportation, and also utilize the spent vegetable oil from their taproom and restaurant to power their biodiesel transportation fleet.

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Filed under Beer, brewery, Brewing, Carbon Footprint, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Building, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Solar

Bamboo and the PV Solar Shutter

What happens when you combine bamboo hardwood flooring with PV solar panels?

The PV Solar Shutter of course!

PNS Energy was able to create these great looking window shutters that also generate power by combining the strength of bamboo and its aesthetic and renewable qualities with the power generation capabilities of PV solar cells.

Bamboo Wood by Cali Bamboo was selected for the construction of the solar shutter in an effort to make the product as sustainable and earth friendly as possible. Bamboo is extremely strong and is often compared to the likes of steel, concrete, and graphite. This woody grass also regenerates at an alarming pace; a pole of bamboo can regenerate to full mass in just 6 years while conventional wood takes between 30-60 years to grow back to their full mass. This fact alone made the selection of bamboo for the PV Solar Shutter a no-brainer.

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Filed under Bamboo, Carbon Footprint, Environment, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, San Diego, Solar

Best News You Will See All Week: Volume 8

    1. San Diego ranks 1st in California in solar energy use thanks in large part to the California Solar Initiative which is spearheaded by the California Center for Sustainable Education and San Diego Gas & Electric. “With 4,500 rooftop installations generating nearly 37 megawatts ( MW) of electricity, San Diego’s solar panels produce more than $9 million worth of power annually. The report states that if San Diego were a nation unto itself, it would rank among the top 25 nations in the world in terms of solar capacity, with more solar power than Mexico.”
    2. I came across this graphic and had to share. It may be funny but the message is clear, we spend too much time in the shower (myself included) and one of the easiest and most effective ways to save water and energy is by taking shorter showers.
    3. If you are interested in business or entrepreneurship you should read this article – two friends who started a company by turning waste into fungal gold.
    4. A solar panel installed in Mwiki, Kenya by Eight19

      In the developing world, solar is now cheaper than fossil fuels. Millions of households in Africa now have access to cleaner and safer electricity as they make the switch from kerosene lamps to efficient LED lighting and small solar panels. In most parts of the world, electricity produced by traditional power plants is much cheaper than solar electricity but people who have no grid access in Africa have found that using solar to power lighting and other essential items sometimes costs half as much as using kerosene lamps. Read more here.

    5. And to continue the trend, I will leave you with this video explaining the importance of the number 350.

350 from Hans Hansen on Vimeo.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Upcycle

Volume 6!

  1. Chicago is set to build the biggest urban park in the country. “This park is said to be bigger than Central Park (843 acres) and 10 times bigger than Manhattan itself.”

    The new park will be built on 140,000 acres on the southern rim of the city.

  2. To keep you hip to the technology innovations in the industry I bring you paint-on solar cells. That’s right, the next coat of paint you put on your house could produce electricity. Researchers at Notre Dame University are working on a spreadable compound using power producing nanoparticles. Right now they are only seeing an energy conversion efficiency of 1% compared to the 15% seen in traditional cells so it may be some time before we start painting our walls with solar cells.
  3. The Summer Olympic Games are taking place this summer in London and the host city is leading by example as they become the first host to focus on sustainability throughout the planning process. Education seems to be an important part of this plan as they are involving the community and emphasizing the importance of living within the World’s resources. You can read more about the sustainably built Velodrome here.

    The London 2012 Velodrome

  4.  And finally I leave you with this alarming, very well done video recapping the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Puts into perspective just how much oil we consume in the United States (spoiler alert: we use too much).

Oil’d from Chris Harmon on Vimeo.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Cycling, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Renewable Energy, Solar, Water conservation

Share the Spirit: Give to Those Who Give Back to the Earth!

The PNS Energy team is committed to leaving the planet a better place than we found it.   Part of what we considering doing our part as responsible citizens is to promote those nonprofits working to better understand what is happening to our planet and to help preserve it.

Dr. Cook in action with the Green Learning Adventure!

We have two local favorites:   California Center for Sustainable Energy’s Green Learning Adventure and the Surfrider Foundation.   In 2011 we shared our some of resources with both of these wonderful organizations.  As you look for yearend donations, we ask you to consider giving to organizations that support our planet!  For all you Southern California residents, help us support and promote these great, grassroots organizations.

If you are looking for a national organization working to support the Earth through intelligent, measurable means we put together a list (below) and noted their mission statements.

Union of Concerned Scientists

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit partnership of scientists and citizens combining rigorous scientific analysis, innovative policy development, and effective citizen advocacy to achieve practical environmental solutions.

Sierra Club

Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; To educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

NRDC’s mission is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends.

350.org

350.org unites an international movement around the climate solutions that science and justice demand.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

Rainforest Action Network’s mission is to want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.

Climate Protection Campaign

The Climate Protection Campaign mission is to create a positive future for our children and all life by inspiring action in response to the climate crisis. They advance practical, science-based solutions for achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions.

Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity believes that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in the world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, they work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. They do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

ClimateWorks Foundation

ClimateWorks is an international philanthropic network dedicated to achieving low-carbon prosperity.

Acterra: Action for a Sustainable Earth

To bring people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet.

 

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Filed under Beach clean-up, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Philanthropy, San Diego, Surfrider Foundation, Sustainable Businiess

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 1

Each and every day we come across some very interesting goodies on the World Wide Web. Each week we will compile our favorites right here so you can share in some of that goodness. Here is Volume 1 for your viewing pleasure!

  1. Terracycle – we did a spotlight (found here) on this wonderful company recently and love what they are doing. They are signing people up to collect anything from pens to juice boxes to candy wrappers to cork to cell phones to key boards and back again. They pay for you to ship it to them and then they “upcycle it” (turn it into a cool new product or material). For example here is a large tote bag made entirely from used Capri Sun drink pouches and here is a short video with the founder and CEO of Terracycle, Tom Szaky.
  2. PlanetSolar– The logbook of the crew with the goal to be the “first to circumnavigate the globe in a “solar” boat, i.e. one driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine powered exclusively by solar energy.”

    PlanetSolar team navigating near Monaco

  3. Solar Power is not just for your roof anymore. Within the next five years expect to see it popping up in your siding, windows, walls, and more. Installed building integrated photovoltaic technology is predicted to exceed 1 gigawatt by 2016.
  4. Solar Roadways – An awesome documentary clip explaining the research and development of solar roadways. I encourage you all to watch!
  5. And finally, in light of the recent success of The Muppets…

    Kermit the Frog reminds us all to "be green" and recycle!

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Solar, Upcycle