Tag Archives: light bulbs

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 Green Thumb

After being recruited to write a quick blog about our experiences last Friday volunteering for the Green Learning Adventure (GLA) I decided to use this opportunity to join Dan in coming up with new ways to lead a more sustainable, environmentally conscious life.

First, a little recap of the GLA. I met up with Bennet after he and Dan educated Sea World employees, we then headed out to a community recreation center that was holding a small Earth Day celebration for elementary and middle school children. There were a handful of environmental education booths for the kids to visit – each kid was required to visit every booth and learn what each had to offer. For some incentive they could enter a raffle at the end to win some cool prizes, including surf lessons. After we spoke to each and gave them a spin on Pedal Power (the human-powered energy bike that demonstrates how much electricity it takes to run lighting and other household items), we would give them a sticker moving them one step closer to the raffle. Each booth would then do the same making for a great day of education.

It was a blast showing the kids the energy differences in the older incandescent light bulbs and the newer more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer – energystar.gov). I was also amazed at some of the knowledge these children already had – some were even educating ME on what they knew about “vampire loads” and energy efficient light bulbs that their families were already using. We later learned that the community rec center runs programs about energy efficiency and renewable energy.

All in all it was a great experience and I look forward to helping the GLA in the future, it is important to educate the next generation about living sustainably.

As for our next initiative in this project we wanted to move onto a slightly different topic – horticulture. Our recent blog posts have opened us up to new energy and water saving tips and our next step will involve using good ole’ Mother Nature in order to make our everyday lives healthier and happier. We have already started a very nice backyard garden including different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas, strawberries, and a small citrus tree. Our two green thumbs behind the operation, Dan and Colin, have made some great strides towards harvesting farm fresh, organic produce in the backyard.

In the next few days I want to bring some greenery inside in order to freshen up the house. Using house plants as decoration will not only look nice but they will also help improve the air quality. According to Eartheasy.com NASA recently released a study that ranks the top plants for reducing indoor air pollutants. I will be sure to look at some of these for ideas on selecting plants. By doing this, we will make our rooms brighter and more inviting and make us feel more connected to nature.

Stay tuned for the results and a little bit more on connecting our built environment with the natural landscape that surrounds us.

-T. Ufferman

Alley Garden - Adding something fresh to the back alley.

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Filed under 30 ways in 30 days, Buy Local, Carbon Footprint, Conservation, Environment, Gardening, Philanthropy, Uncategorized

Unplug and Shamu?

I hope everyone had a great Earth Day. I am ready to get back in to the swing of things. I plan on giving a breakdown of whats been going on, and what the future plan is tomorrow.

On Friday, a few of us from Plug ‘N Save were able to volunteer our time with the California Center for Sustainable Energy’s Green Learning Adventure. We traveled to two locations; the first stop was at SeaWorld. My coworker Bennet had been scheduled to go, and I managed to wiggle my way in to the trip. I was able to spend some time working with employees sharing general electricity management tips.

After all the things we discussed at the event, I realized I needed to step my game up. I had talked about all the things you can do to reduce you bill, and then I thought if I did these things myself. Needless to say I had a lot of room for improvement. When I spent a minute thinking about all the things that use energy even when they are not powering something, and compared that to the things I knew I had plugged in, I saw an easy fix. After the event, I decided to walk around SeaWorld and see what it was all about. It was my first trip, so I went to see Shamu!

mini Shamu doing a little helicopter spin

It was awesome. I sat in the ‘soak zone’ and, well, got soaked. I felt like a little kid, but it was awesome. During the show they really do an amazing job incorporating conservation and preservation awareness. During some points I got chills. It was inspiring, what can I say. They do what they do, and they do it well.

But back to electricity. I started getting the cords organized in my room; I consolidated the cords to two places and in power strips, one for my desk and the other at my entertainment center. This will not only save me some pennies, but it cleaned up the spaces. I wanted to do this at work too. We use a lot more electrical appliances and tools, so I wanted to see what I could get in to a power strip. I decided to start with my desk.

Custom power strip, snazzy set up.

I got all of my computer and phone components plugged in to one power strip. Todd and I share a desk, so I got a few things of his to fit in there too, it worked out well. When i leave work, i can just reach under my desk and flip the switch.

Now, I’m going to spout off some of the general info we were discussing at the SeaWorld event.

The typical American home has about 50  appliances that consume power all day, which represents between five to eight percent of a household’s total electricity use per year. This is approximately 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (www.energy.ca.go). This lost energy represents the electricity generated in the U.S. by about 35 power plants, or 95 billion pounds of carbon dioxide released into the air.

By turning off power strips hooked up to computers, internet modems, and copiers, each household could save around $100 a year . Turning off your computer monitor during the day, even with your computer still on, can save much more energy than a screensaver and remember to unplug telephone, toothbrush, PDA, and portable tool chargers from the wall when not in use (www.energy.ca.gov).

I mentioned that there were two stops. I stayed at SeaWorld, and Bennet moved on with the Green Learning Adventure to pick up Todd. They headed inland to an event at a recreation center. I’m going to have Todd write a quick bit about what they did… because I don’t really know.

I got some ideas from a few college friends recently too, and with the graduation season coming up,we will be looking at ways to celebrate with our theme in mind.

-Dan Conroy, Colin Johnson

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Filed under 30 ways in 30 days, Carbon Footprint, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Philanthropy