Category Archives: Outdoor Adventure

Tree Benefits and an Interactive Urban Tree Map

We had the recent opportunity to learn about a new urban tree initiative (San Diego County Tree Map) that aims to visually display the eco-impact of existing trees growing in urban areas. We all know that plants and trees do more than just take up space and look nice, they have a positive impact on our environment, and our economic and social well-being. I will highlight some of those benefits below to show the role trees play in our daily lives:

  • Carbon Removal – with climate change taking a forefront in our environmental and political lives we now understand the importance of being aware of how are actions affect the atmosphere. As trees grow, they use carbon dioxide, thus removing it from the air.
  • Soil Conservation – Trees play an important role in soil conservation, they reduce rainwater runoff and soil erosion due to the roots holding soil in place. These roots also absorb and reduce the amount of contaminants in the soil.
  • Energy Conservation – Existing trees and strategically planted trees around a home provide shading and serve as a natural cooling device, thus reducing the need to rely on air-conditioning and reducing energy consumption. They can also block winter winds, allowing the homeowner to use less energy in heating.

Trees also…

  • Look beautiful
  • Produce oxygen
  • Create privacy
  • Provide wildlife habitats
  • Provide noise reduction
  • Increase property values

A recent report from the American Society of Landscape Architects – San Diego Chapter states that trees “enhance community economic stability by attracting businesses and tourists with a corresponding increase in property values. Trees contribute to the success of business districts, apartment complexes, residential properties and offices.”

Most of these benefits are more or less common knowledge. But some recent number crunching and a tree mapping project aims to show us the huge monetary benefits trees have. This very cool and interesting online map (San Diego Tree Map) actually shows the money ($$$$) saved from a variety of the tree benefits already listed. For example, in one year, this Moreton Bay Fig in the heart of Balboa Park, San Diego (pictured below) has…

  • conserved 183.30 kWh of energy for a value of $29.84
  • intercepted 2045.80 gallons of stormwater for a value of $3.74
  • removed 1.03 lbs. of air pollutants for a value of $66.43
  • and stored 5,903.65 lbs. of carbon dioxide to date for a value of $118.07

This tree has saved $102.73 in one year alone, and that is just one tree out of the hundreds of thousands in the San Diego area. The monetary benefits truly add up.

Moreton Bay Fig, Balboa Park

So next time you are out enjoying nature, look at the trees around you and not only marvel at their beauty and environmental benefits, think about the amount of $ this tree is providing to your community. And if you have the opportunity and space, plant a tree of your own and see the benefits grow before your own eyes.

Thanks to these sources:

“Benefit of Trees.” California Center for Sustainable Energy –. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <http://energycenter.org/index.php/benefits-of-trees/benefit-of-trees&gt;.

“Benefits of Planting and Growing Trees.” Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <http://ohiodnr.com/Home/education/BenefitsofPlantingandGrowingTrees/tabid/5104/Default.aspx&gt;.

“San Diego TreeMap.” San Diego Tree Map. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <http://sandiegotreemap.org/map/&gt;.

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Filed under Arborist, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, San Diego, Uncategorized

K3 Wind and Solar Charger

This blog post features a new product we have been messing around with at the office for the past few weeks. I will give you a quick review of our experience with the K3 Wind and Solar Portable Device Charger.

The K3 Charger sun-bathing

The first thing I noticed was the K3 is very easy to operate; just set it out in the sun during the day and let the elements do all the work. When you need a charge on your device and do not have your wall charger with you or you are away from an outlet you simply pull the cord out of the built-in storage area, then plug into the USB port on the charger, finally plug in the correct tip to your phone and watch as your device charges up (according to the instructions you are supposed to give it a full charge from the wall first).
According the the K3 website, the charger is “ideal for mobile phones, iPods/mp3 players, iPhone, smartphones/PDAs, portable gaming devices, GPS units, digital cameras, Bluetooth headsets, and more.” I intend to use mine mostly as a supplemental charge for my cell phone.
The design of the K3 allows you to prop it in many different posistions to take advantage of the the angle of the sun. I also found a good way to put the K3 in the back window of my car. I drive with the windows down most of the time so the wind turbine can work on my commute.

Propped up to take advantage of the sun-angle.

One negative thing that I accidentally found out  was when I made the mistake of falling asleep with my phone plugged in to the charger and woke up to a dead battery in th K3. This made me use the wall charger once again to refill the K3, thus eliminating the benefits of using the sun to power my cell phone. I also figured out that if I want a good charge from the K3, it needs to be fully charged from the sun, wind, or wall before plugging it into your device. I tried to charge my phone with a half full battery in the K3 and it didn’t last very long.

The K3 Charging a Phone.

Overall, I recommend the K3 Charger as a good, quality, portable mobile device charger. I can’t wait to take it with me on my next camping trip – I’ll no longer have to worry about conserving my cell phone battery!
Amazon page featuring the K3.

Positives: Durable, Wind AND Solar, USB port and multiple tip options, LED lights show battery life, Looks cool(there is also a black color option), Unique
Negatives: A little bulky, takes more time to charge than expected, relatively short phone charging time.
Ideal Uses: Camping, car travel, take it to work for that “mid-day boost,” backpacking, etc…

Two color options for the charger.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Cell Phone Battery, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Renewable Energy, Solar, Uncategorized

The Big “Green” Apple

My recent trip to the Big Apple led to some very unexpected discoveries along the way. Having never visited New York I had no idea what to expect and frankly, I was not expecting good things in the realm of sustainability. I immediately think of mass consumption, millions of cars, old inefficient buildings, and a mindset of profit over the good of the surroundings.
Just to let you know, I was not seeking out the so-called “green” places in the city nor did I do any research prior to my visit. I also know and have learned that New York and the Northeast is leading the way when it comes to sustainability. I was just a plain old tourist checking out the city. Here are some things I found that impressed me along the way.
First off, the public transportation system is in a class of its own. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “MTA subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.6 billion trips each year to New Yorkers.” You can get wherever you want in the city without ever needing a car.
Another thing I noticed was the importance of public green space and the unique way some people have created a beautiful landscape out of a so-called concrete jungle. Everyone knows about Central Park but we discovered a relatively new creation called the High Line.

High Line water feature

It’s a stunningly designed piece of art/urban park. Basically, it is an old elevated rain line that has been inoperable since 1980. In 2009, Friends of the High Line in a partnership with the City of New York opened the elevated public park. They have preserved the sense of the old rail line by keeping much of the old track and designing the landscape around it. “It features an integrated landscape, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings. Fixed and movable seating, lighting, and
special features are also included in the park.”

High Line

I also ran across a few businesses that seem to be leading their peers by making their surrounding environment a priority. We stopped in the  Brooklyn Brewery for some tastings and a tour. They recently expanded their brewing operations and were operating a very impressive business in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. We tried a few different beers and even though I am turned off by odd flavors in beer I was very happy with the Pumpkin Ale. During our tasting I noticed that they advertised these cool compostable cups. This lead me to do some more research and I also found out that “the company’s brewery and headquarters in Brooklyn are 100% powered by Newwind Energy.”

Cool Cups at the Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery New Expansion

Finally, we went to a very cool burger joint called Shake Shack. I had a burger and shake and they were excellent but what really stood out was a wall explaining their history and dedication to “going green.” They purchase wind power credits to offset 100% of their electricity and they also practice on-site composting and they recycle used cooking oil. In the construction of the building they used a plethora of sustainable building materials: walls made of fiberboard, wheat board tabletops and trash cans, ceiling tiles made from renewable wood, LED low voltage light fixtures, and they “introduced a green wall(recyclable modular unit and pre-grown living system) that will remain in bloom year round.”
Overall, I was very impressed with the dedication to sustainability shown by the people of New York – keep up the good work!

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Filed under Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Gardening, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Solar, Sustainable Businiess, Uncategorized, USGBC, Water conservation

A Lesson on Power Outages and Growing Up

Power outage in San Diego County, September 8th, 2011 by Sean M. Haffey

It began at the office when us employees thought we were losing our minds, having a seizure, or both. The lights flickered, then poof, we were in the dark. Considering that it was already 3:30 PM, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to wrap things up for the day and head home early.  Lucky for us, nearly 5 million other people thought the same thing, which made the drive home thrilling as we inched along in traffic (It took around 2 hours to drive 16 miles).

Recap of the outage

While everyone was sitting in traffic pondering their day or the beautiful weather, we realized that we may be in for an extended blackout. The San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) news conference didn’t  provide any positive news as they still had no idea what had happened; all they could tell us initially is that it was triggered in Arizona, a terrorist attack was very unlikely, and it could be 24-48 hours before the power was restored. Most people weren’t too concerned, as work and school would most likely be canceled on Friday, making for two 3-day weekends in a row and an opportunity to stay up and have some fun in the dark!
Once we arrived safe and sound at home, our feelings went from the relief from being off the road and not having to work the next day, to anxiety and a feeling of being unprepared for what could be a long few days. I had no cash and ATMs would be down, the gas light was on in my car, and my cell phone battery was on its last leg (not to mention, I couldn’t watch the NFL season opener). We were down to our last few drinks from our large jugs of purified water and already hearing about boil alerts in parts of the county. We only had two candles, but luckily, we bought a handy LED camping lantern a few days prior. Coming from someone who sells the Emergency Power Kit and wrote a blog about being prepared weeks ago, I was drastically under-prepared and kicking myself for not keeping one of those kits in my car or utility closet.
This outage proves to me how reliant we are on electricity and how lucky we are to have steady sources of power here in the States. Now, I could go without TV, cell phones, internet, and video games for as long as needed (and I’m sure most people could as well) but I take for granted other things that electricity provides. Fresh water, sewage treatment, smooth traffic, street lights, lighting at home, emergency services, and food storage are all things I can say I would miss greatly.
With that said, I am going to make a conscious effort to be more prepared and responsible when it comes to emergencies; I think it’s about time I invest in a good flashlight, candles, some sort of water purification device, maybe a small reserve of cash, first aid kit, and the Emergency Power Kit sitting in my office.
I know this looks bad; my mother probably thinks I can’t take care of myself and would be better off back in my parent’s basement.
This relatively small inconvenience has proven that I have grown too comfortable; and it takes a potentially catastrophic event, like this blackout, to bring me back to Earth and realize that something like this can happen at any moment.
Luckily, our good friends and neighbors provided us with the essentials – candles, chips and salsa, beer, and wine got us through the night!
For the real essentials to get you out of the dark click here. 
-T
(A big thank you is in order for all of the power company workers, the police force, EMT staff, firefighters, and others for helping us through the outage and getting things back in order in no time!)

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Filed under Conservation, Department of Energy, Emergency, Energy Efficiency, Green Technology, Innovation, Natural disaster, Outdoor Adventure, Preparedness, Renewable Energy, Responsible Materials, Uncategorized

Be Prepared, Be Safe

As we begin rolling out our newest product, the Emergency Power Kit, I thought it would be appropriate to write about some small things we can do to prepare ourselves and our families for the worst;  because as they say “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” The recent natural disasters we have seen throughout the world in just the first half of 2011 have made us think twice about our safety in the face of Mother Nature.

One of the first resources I fell upon was Ready.gov. They guide people using these three steps:

  1. Get a Kit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Be Informed

They also offer disaster specific and state specific resources so there is good information for everyone in the world. So go check Ready.gov out and start preparing now.

There are tons of emergency kits out there so do a little research before you invest to figure out your specific needs. If you are worried about being stranded with no food or water such as in a flood, hurricane, or earthquake you may only be interested in having reserve nourishment. Kits like the Readybox or this Deluxe Emergency Kit have essential items you may need in the event you will not be able to reach clean water or food.

Some of you may be more interested in staying connected in the event of a power outage; you may want to  get online, have light, or contact emergency medical services.  If this is the case you may need a kit that can meet you power needs. The Emergency Power Kit we offer is one option and I really like this small solar phone charger.

The Solarmonkey Portable Solar Charger

These are just a few suggestions and resources to help you get started when prepare for emergencies. Personally, I believe it is essential to always be aware of the environment around you and respect the dangers (and wonders) Mother Nature presents (heat, cold, wind, earthquakes, storms etc.).

Stay in touch with the Emergency Power Kit from PnS Energy.

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Filed under Emergency, Innovation, Natural disaster, Outdoor Adventure, Preparedness, Uncategorized

3: Saddle Up

I just used my gasbuddy app. and I realized when I got excited about $4.09 a gallon that something was wrong. I wasn’t expecting it to be under $4.10, what a treat! Regardless, this just gave me that little extra incentive I needed to finish fixing up my single speed commuter. I had stolen a bunch of parts from it for another bike, so it was left in a corner, minus the brakes or cables, tires or front wheel. It looked pretty sad. So i’m going to spend the afternoon getting in back in riding condition.

This could take a while. But it will be worth it.

I was up in LA at a USGBC event, and listened to Eric Corey Freed deliver a rather humorous presentation about our dependencies, the environment and what we choose to do about it. It was mentioned that no matter how many solar panels we put up we will remain addicted to oil.

I need to quit being a baby about it and to stop taking my car on short trips. I love mountain biking, but it’s always hard to make bike commuting a regular part of my day. So it’s time I just get riding. I’m sure the warm spring days will help my attitude about the whole thing. It will be fun.

I just signed up at peopleforbikes.org and they spout some pretty cool info for you. A blurb caught my eye that said, “3 hours of riding per week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by %50”. What a bonus. And, “one pound of CO2 pollution cut for every one mile peddled.” Bam, that’s enough for me right there. Cutting back greenhouses and improving your personal health. Awesome. Thats a win-win-win. You win, the Earth wins, and bike shops win. I am an advocate for small business, so I’m looking for a shop around my area here in San Diego. If I’m pulling for personal health and environmental advocacy, what better business to support than a bike shop?

Back in Delaware, Ohio I was a devoted customer to Breakaway Cycling. They have a cool shop with a really helpful staff. When I work on my bike, I generally make it worse, so it’s nice to have some people around that know what they’re doing. And they don’t scowl at you because you aren’t riding the new Superfly 29er (or something like that) and are happy to facilitate any riders needs. There can be a certain stuffy stigma around biking communities. Don’t let this deter you, it’s not everywhere. There are a ton of great people out there that would love to get more people into cycling.  The right place will help you figure out the whole mess. Little did Breakaway know, they would be the facilitating my personal fitness and environmental initiatives.

Or wait, maybe they did…

I found some interesting links from breakaway’s website. A large part of the cycling movement is the beautification element. Simply put, bikes and people work in harmony. They create a clean, quiet, comfortable, healthy atmosphere in which we directly interact. It’s a pretty cool way of looking at things. Well… I’ve got a lot of work to do. Wish me luck.

-Dan Conroy

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Filed under 30 ways in 30 days, Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Outdoor Adventure, Renewable Energy, Uncategorized, USGBC

Our Week Was Not Just About Solar Shutters

So many things to tell you, not enough hours in the day. We have been busy cutting, sanding, pouring, assembling, planning, brainstorming, and telling anyone who will listen about our one of a kind solar solution; but who wants to hear about any of that stuff?! Instead, here are some of the other things we did this week.

David and Dan traveled to the smaller, less frantic Hollywood (in Florida) to film a segment for the “Balancing Act”, a show on the Lifetime network. Here is a pic of David looking very unpleased that he had to wear stage make-up and another candid shot of him sipping Cristal in the green room with his entourage. Aahh the life of a star!

While David and Dan ate Bon Bons and hung out with TV stars on the beach, the rest of the team tried to remain strong through this harsh San Diego winter. Todd and Dan braved the 70 degree temperatures to shred some mountain trails at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park on their bikes. This pic is of the long ascent, sure looks like a lot of work. I bet the ride down was fun though!

Bennet and I cruised some waves throughout the week, just enjoying the cool breeze and salty spray. Surfing is an amazing way release all that stress and Bennet is convinced that if we stay in the water long enough we will grow gills.


By Colin Johnson

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Filed under Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Surfing, TV Appearance