Category Archives: Parks

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

The National Parks Service focus on sustainability: encouraging news and positive moves

We have been looking into historic restoration and preservation, and it’s encouraging to see that the National Parks Service has focused energy toward sustainability. Our Government’s influence on building standards, the environment, and renewable technology has continued to grow every day.

New Sustainability And Historic Preservation Guidelines Out

With all of the innovative green technology available, it’s promising to see them being applied to our historic buildings; energy efficient upgrades while remaining focused on preserving historical integrity. These buildings will not only represent where we came from, but who we are today and our goals for the future.

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Filed under Conservation, Hiking, Parks, Responsible Materials

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

Riding With the Surfrider Foundation

Greetings Blogosphere, the Plug ‘n Save team has missed you!

We have had so many exciting things happen since our last post that I feel I must take it slow, to keep from overwhelming anyone or pulling a hamstring. So, instead of briefly describing a bunch of the wonderful things we have become involved in lately, I will tell you in more detail about one.

On a beautiful Saturday February 12, the PNS team headed up to Carlsbad, CA for the day to help clean the beach with the Surfrider Foundation. The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of our world’s oceans, waves, and beaches for the enjoyment of all. Surfrider was founded in 1984 by a group of environmentally conscious surfers in Malibu, CA and has since grown to 50,000 members with 90 chapters worldwide. Through activism, education, research and conservation, the foundation strives to inspire people to value and care for their coastal spaces.

As many of you may know, our whole team has become avid surfers and we have developed a love for the ocean through our time in the waves. We admire organizations like the Surfrider Foundation and want to help conserve the beaches that are such an integral part of our coastal beach communities in any way we can. Families, students, and community groups all came out to scour the sand for every piece of trash they could find, and everyone one of us was proud to be there to help. Plus, we got to catch some tasty waves afterward and enjoy the glassy water and warm sunshine!

We plan on continuing to work at beach clean ups and other events, and are also looking forward to exploring California’s coast with the Surfrider Foundation. Check out the photographic evidence below.

~Colin

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Filed under Beach clean-up, Carlsbad Beach, Conservation, Environment, Parks, Surfrider Foundation

Having Fun…Giving Back

Our commitment to giving back does not stop when we leave the office each night. Just recently, we found some alternative ways to donate time to a good cause.

Being new to the San Diego area gave us a good excuse to get out and explore. Our love for the outdoors led us to Mission Trails Regional Park, only 8 miles from downtown San Diego it has become one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Within minutes of entering the visitor center, fellow Plug ‘N Save employee Dan Conroy and I were talking with the visitor center director about volunteer opportunities and he had us signed up in no time!

Two weeks later, our first day as volunteer patrol led us on an 11.9 km hike through the mountains of Mission Trails. Our job that day included surveying the trail, interacting with park patrons, and taking GPS readings of specific trail markers. Apart from asking a few hikers to leash their dog (California State law…) the day went smoothly as the four of us soaked in the California sun and the amazing views of the park.

This trek gave me a new perspective on how diverse the Southern Californian environment is; in just 5 short hours we hiked through cool river valleys, up arid desert hills, and over rocky mountain peaks. Then to top it off, we got in the car and drove 20 minutes back to the beach.

For fun ways to spend a weekend like that, check out Mission Trails Regional Park online. Or if you would like to donate some time…volunteer!

The Old Mission Dam at MTRP

 

-Todd U.

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Filed under Environment, Hiking, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Philanthropy