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