Thursday, December 31, 2009

OLED wallpaper may soon replace light bulbs

Organic LEDs, or OLEDs, are being hailed as the next generation of environmentally-friendly lighting. OLEDs can produce light with very little power, significantly less than what is required to power conventional light bulbs.

OLEDs are being used more and more, and one company is incorporating them into wallpaper with the goal of making the technology good enough to light rooms withou the use of conventional lighting. However, two main problems have kept the technology from widespread use: the cost to create products using them and the short lifespan OLEDs currently have. The company hopes more research can make the technology cheaper and more efficient.

For more information on this next-gen source of lighting, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

U.S. Agriculture Department and dairy industry partner to cut emissions

The news is admittedly slow during this time of year, but there is a fairly interesting article from Business Green about the recent partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the dairy industry, aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The dairy industry has set a goal to cut emissions by 25 percent in the next 10 years. As part of the agreement, the USDA will help support (i.e. fund) research into advanced nutrient management for livestock as well as support technological advances that could lead to increased energy efficiency and an increase in the use of renewable energy.

For more information, check out the story at Business Green.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Copenhagen climate talks result in no binding agreement

Editor's Note: It's been a busy month here at TransAction, so we haven't been able to update the blog as often as we would like. However, regular updates should begin again in the near future.

As was expected by most, the U.N. Climate Summit last week in Copenhagen did not result in a binding agreement on emissions reductions. While accusations from both emerging and developed nations point the blame at each other for hindering the negotiations, the important thing to take out of the discussions is that while most nations involved agreed that climate change is a serious problem and that action should be taken, no emission reduction targets were agreed upon.

What came out of the negotiations is a two-page document called the Copenhagen Accord. It serves as a political (not legal) agreement between nations, and the accord gives very little details on how the nations that sign it actually plan to fight climate change.

Reaction to the accord has varied depending on who you ask. Instead of telling you what people are saying about it, you can read the reaction of several climate leaders in their own words, courtesy of Business Green. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Help us Fill-A-Bus


Help fulfill the hopes of needy children by donating a toy to our

Fill-A-Bus! At JFK Station December 14-18 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.!

Additional drop-off locations during the week of December 14-18 from 3
p.m. to 7 p.m. on:

Monday, Dec 14 at North Station
Tuesday, Dec 15 at Back Bay Station
Wednesday, Dec 16 at Government Center
Thursday, Dec 17 at Harvard Square Station
Friday, Dec 18 at Charles/MGH Station

Fill-A-Bus brought to you by the T and Radio 92.9. to benefit the
following Boston area charities:

Freedom House
MSPCC (Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)
Roxbury Multi-Service Center
Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Boston

Monday, November 23, 2009

World leaders set to attend Copenhagen talks

With the U.N. Climate Change summit set to begin two weeks from today in Copenhagen, over 60 world leaders have confirmed they will be at the summit, including the heads of state of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia. President Obama has said he may attend but has not confirmed that he will definitely be attending.

Leaders from over 192 countries have been invited in hopes that their presence will help increase the chances that a politically- and legally-binding agreement is made. In addition to Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have not confirmed that they will be attending the summit.

So, what do organizers of the conference hope to accomplish? The short answer is a legally-binding agreement on emissions reductions. The problem is that each country has its own agenda and own ideas on what should and should not be in such an agreement. This Daily Green story has more details on what the organizers are hoping to accomplish and the politics behind a potential agreement.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Treasury Department releases green energy bonds

The U.S. Treasury Department released about $2.2 billion in bonds earlier this month aimed at jump starting the renewable energy sector.

The bonds will basically serve as low-interest loans to people who want to start renewable energy projects, giving them an opportunity to begin projects despite the fact that other sources of funding have dried up because of the current recession.

Government officials hope that the bonds will get several projects, such as wind or solar farms, quickly into the construction phase of development. To read more, check out this story from Business Green.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Easily save 10 percent on your energy bills

Government data suggests that the burning of natural gas and heating oil for the purpose of heating homes accounts for up to six percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Plugging leaks and stopping drafts in your home can quickly and easily result in saving 10 percent off your energy bill. If you want to go a step further, there are federal tax credits available for installing green insulation and energy-efficient windows and doors.

Stopping drafts can be as easy as noticing where they are in your house and caulking the gaps around windows and doors. This guide from The Daily Green can help you get started.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Study finds climate bill could add over $100 billion to U.S. economy

A study conducted by researchers from the University of California at Berkley, Yale University, and the University of Illinois has concluded that the proposed climate legislation being debated in the United States Senate could boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. by as much as $111 billion by 2020.

The study found that the roll out of a cap-and-trade system for emissions would speed up the development and adoption of clean technologies and create between 900 million and 1.9 million jobs. The study even concluded that the average household income in the U.S. could grow by about $500 to $1,000 as a result of the bill over the same time frame.

The report;s findings are in conflict with the arguments from many industry groups as well as many Republican lawmakers, who argue that the legislation will cost the U.S. billions and also cost Americans job.

For more on the study, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A dozen or so things you probably didn't know you could rent

Renting things instead of buying them can save you a lot of money as well as keep the environment cleaner. The Daily Green has put together a list of a dozen or so items that most people probably don't know you can rent. Some of them are very practical, while others are downright silly but humorous nonetheless.

For instance, a new power saw will cost you around $150. However, many retailers and other places will rent it to you for $30. Given that most power tools are only used on average for a half-hour over their entire lifetime, this can save you a fortune. Other things you can save big bucks on renting include textbooks, sports equipment, camping gear, and other items.

Check out the full list on The Daily Green's website.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Senator Kerry pushes climate bill ahead

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said today that he hopes to release a new, compromise draft of the Senate climate bill before the U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen next month.

Such a move could slightly increase the chances of a binding agreement coming out of the conference. It is believed that the likelihood of a legally-binding agreement coming out of the talks hinges largely on the United States' willingness and ability to commit to emissions reduction targets.

The current bill would require the U.S. to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020, but the bill has been met by opposition from both Republicans and moderate Democrats. Senator Kerry is holding bi-partisan meetings in hopes of working out a compromise that enough lawmakers will agree to vote for.

For more information on the U.S. climate bill and the Copenhagen climate change talks, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Study finds that workers are more productive in green buildings

A San Diego University study has concluded that workers in green buildings are more productive than workers in more carbon-intensive environments.

The research team examined 154 buildings with over 2,000 businesses to make their findings. The researchers found that tenants in buildings that had either Energy Star or LEED certification reported that their workers were five percent more productive in terms of workload and sick days. In addition, businesses in the greener buildings reported higher employee morale, lower employee turnover, and greater ease in recruiting new employees.

For more information on the study, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Which countries are the world's biggest polluters?

Some of the answers may surprise you. China has overtaken the United States as far as most total emissions go, as the Asian country has seen its emissions double in the last 10 years.

The biggest surprise, however, may be that Australia has passed the United States as far as highest emissions per capita. It is very surprising to see them higher on the list than countries such as the United States and Canada, which are colder and use much more fossil fuels for heating homes and businesses.

Both the United States and China pledged to address global warming and work on reducing their emissions at a recent U.N. meeting in New York. Both of these countries, as well as many other countries from around the world, will be meeting in Copenhagen next month for the U.N.'s Climate Change Conference. Representatives from countries around the world will work on negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire.

For more information on which countries are the biggest polluters, check out this post from The New Ecologist.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Senate puts climate bill on hold

Democratic leaders in the Senate decided today to put off more debate on the proposed climate change legislation for at least five weeks so the EPA can do an analysis of what the bill would cost to implement.

The delay will mean that any vote on the bill will almost certainly not occur until next year. This also means that no bill will be passed before the U.N. climate change summit in Copenhagen on December 7 despite pleas from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the U.S. to set the tone for the discussion by passing its own binding legislation.

With a lack of legislation before the summit, the U.S. team of negotiators will not have any mandate from Congress on what they should negotiate for. This could limit the team's willingness to agree to binding carbon emission reduction targets, something that U.S. negotiators have been hesitant to agree to in the past.

For more information, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Electric car goes 313 miles on a single charge

Who says electric cars don't have the range necessary to replace that traditional gas motor vehicle that you and your family rely on? An Australian businessman made his own argument for the viability of electric cars by completing a 313-mile trip in his Tesla Roadster.

The man completed the trip during the Global Green Challenge, an Australian solar car race that has been held since 1987. The Global Green Challenge includes a division for production cars, which is what the Tesla was competing in.

The trip smashes the previous record of 241 miles, which was also held by a Tesla Roadaster. For more info on the historic trip as well as the Global Green Challenge, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Salem State College receives environmental award

Salem State College was awarded a Leading by Example environmental award for its work to promote the use of renewable energy, water conservation, and recycling.

Some of the green projects the college has undertaken include purchasing 3.5 million kilowatt-hours per year of renewable energy to offset carbon emissions, creating a plan to protect nine acres of marshland that the college owns, and planting native beds that conserve water. The college also has a new dormitory under construction that is expected to be LEED certified, according to college officials.

Seven state colleges, municipalities, or agencies received the award. For more info, check out this story from The Globe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Save hundreds by buying energy-efficient televisions

Believe it or not, televisions now account for about 5 percent of all residential electricity use in the United States. Many consumers are not aware of the fact that there is a wide range of energy use required to operate even seemingly similar televisions. For instance, plasma televisions consume significantly more than their similarly-sized LCD counterparts.

While the energy use may not add up to much, you could be looking at saving hundreds of dollars when you consider that you will use a new television for five to 10 years, especially if it is a more expensive model. And, as people become more conscience of their energy use, you can bet that manufacturers will do their best to meet the demand for more efficient televisions, which will increase your options for saving money on your electricity bill.

For more information, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Report claims one in five jobs will be in green sectors by 2030

A report released this week by the American Solar Energy Society suggests that by 2030 about one in five jobs in the U.S. will be in the emerging energy-efficiency and and renewable energy sectors, adding that the sectors could employ about 37 million people in the next two decades.

Granted, this report is from a trade industry group for the renewable energy sector, but it is obvious that green sectors, such as those listed above, are gaining jobs as more government funding is released for green projects and more private sector companies are popping up to meet the demands of consumers.

Interestingly, while the common perception is that green jobs that are created will be in high-tech fields, the report states that most of the jobs created will be in more traditional fields, such as agriculture or carpentry. For more info on the future of green jobs, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, October 23, 2009

White House optimistic about climate change bill's chances

After meetings between key Democratic and Republican lawmakers, White House officials are much more confident that a compromise can be reached on a climate change bill than they were just a month ago.

Republican senators who were previously opposed to any kind of climate change legislation have been hinting that they may support a bill so long as it included provisions to fund nuclear energy and domestic oil exploration. White House officials have said that both items are at least somewhat negotiable, meaning that whatever compromise is agreed upon will likely have at least some Republican support.

The talks between lawmakers are important as the UN's Copenhagen climate change summit in December quickly approaches. Progress on the bill will give U.S. officials a better idea of how to go about negotiating the provisions of a potential successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

For more on U.S. climate change talks, check out this story from Business Green.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UK national weather services releases climate change map

The Met Office, the UK's national weather service, released an interactive map today that details the catastrophic impact of a four-degree rise (in Centigrade) in global temperatures.

The map is based on a report that the office released last month, where researchers concluded that the world could see a four-degree rise (equivalent to seven degrees Fahrenheit) in temperature over pre-industrial averages by 2060. Temperatures would likely rise more closer to the poles and less in areas around the equator.

The map details scientists' conclusions on the impact of rising temperatures on water supply, forest fires, agriculture, and sea levels. Scientists have also concluded that increased health risks associated with malaria and other airborne diseases would likely occur.

"Climate change is a truly global problem that needs a global solution and it is a solution we have within our grasp," UK's Foreign Minister David Miliband said. "But to tackle the problem of climate change, all of us – foreign ministries, environment ministries, treasuries, departments of defense and all parts of government and societies – must work together to keep global temperatures to two degrees. It is only by doing this that we can minimize the huge security risks presented by a future four-degree world."

For more information and to see the map, check out this story from Business Green.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Electric vehicles shine at Tokyo auto show

Electric vehicles are the talk of the show at the Tokyo motor show, which is taking place this week.

All of the leading Asian automakers are jostling for position in the expanding electric car market, as each looks for the new big thing to ignite a spark in an industry-wide slump in sales. Both Nissan and Toyota announced at the show that they plan to have all-electric cars ready to ship in the United States by 2012. Toyota officials also said they company remains on track to deliver a plug-in version of the popular Prius to consumers by the end of this year.

For more info on the electric cars being displayed at the show, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kyoto's expiration could spell doom for some green projects

So far, international negotiations for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol have been stagnant at best, even after leaders from 177 countries met in Bangkok last week to discuss a new climate change agreement.

The problem is that the interests of developed countries (such as the United States and most of Europe) and less developed nations (such as China, India, and Brazil) are conflicting. The developed nations want the less developed nations to commit to cutting a percentage of their emissions, but those countries say that the developed nations are the ones responsible for climate change and also have the money to make the cuts, so they should have to do most of the work. In a way, both groups have a good point and are right in a lot of respects.

However, debate over how the new agreement should be structured and what it should contain aside, if leaders fails to agree on a new climate change treaty, many green projects around the world are in danger of being shut down after 2012. Obviously, this would be a travesty, as much of the progress those projects have made would be lost. For more info on what is at stake during the global climate change discussions, check out this story from The Washington Post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New energy hub could expand U.S. renewable energy use

The inability to transport solar and wind energy between different power grids in the U.S. has also been a limiting factor in the expansion of renewable energy use in the country. However, a project announced today by the State of New Mexico will make it possible to more effectively transmit solar and wind energy between the three main U.S. energy grids.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said the new energy hub will "be the largest power converter in the world, making New Mexico the meeting place for America's electricity needs." The state and the company that would be in charge of constructing the converter are now seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If the project is approved, construction could begin as soon as 2011.

For more information on the renewable energy hub, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, October 16, 2009

CVS pays customers to reuse bags

CVS will begin giving customers a $1 coupon for every four times they use a cloth bag. While grocery stores have been offering discounts on reusable bags for a while now, the amount of the reward CVS is offering is a lot greater than similar programs.

Members of the company's ExtraCare rewards program will have the opportunity to purchase a "Green Bag Tag" card to attach to their cloth bag. Every time they make purchases, the tag will be scanned at the register. After the tag is scanned four times, the customer will receive a $1 coupon as part of their receipt.

Company officials said its stores will have the tags in about two weeks. To read more, check out this story from The Boston Globe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

UK company develops laptop bags with solar panels

Mascotte Industrial Associates, a UK company, has developed the first line of consumer electronics bags with built-in solar panels.

The bags are fitted with Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells. This marks the first time that DSSC technology has been used in consumer products. DSSC is a type of "thin-film" solar technology that allows solar panels to be manufactured quickly and molded to fit various materials. A similar techonology is being used in cell phones that are fitted with solar panels, which providers have started marketing this year.

The bags will be displayed at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair this week and will be capable of charging laptops, cell phones, cameras, and other devices. For more information, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Biofuel firm makes fuel from sewage

U.S. biofuel company Qteros says it has created the first commercially-viable technology for creating ethanol from the materials found in municipal waste (what we would call sewage).

The company has teamed up with an Israeli bio-tech company, Applied CleanTech, to use one of Applied's technologies to complete the process of making ethanol. The technologies have the potential to save municipal waste water plants a lot of money by giving them a way to create revenue by selling energy.

For more information on these technologies, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Competition showcases solar-powered houses

For the new two weeks, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has been turned into a residential development to showcase the best solar homes available in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition.

University teams from around the country as well as teams from Germany and Spain have spent over two years building solar-powered houses. Like the decathlon at track & field competitions, the contest has 10 "events," or areas that the house are judged on: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone, hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and net metering.

The purpose of the competition is to promote the world's growing need to find ways to harness and use alternative energies. For more info on the Solar Decathlon, check out this story from CNN.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Patriot Place to install solar power generator

Patriot Place, the retail and entertainment complex adjacent to Gillette Stadium, is having a photovoltaic system installed on the roofs of seven buildings to produce solar power at the site. The system, which will consist of 2,800 solar panels, is expected to generate enough power to account for 30 percent of the total power used at the complex.

Work crews will begin installing the photovoltaic system later this month, and a spokesperson for Patriot Place said construction will likely be completed by the end of the year. The use of solar power at the site will reduce emissions by more than 8,000 metric tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of taking about 1,600 cars off of the road.

For more on this story, click here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tax credits put more green in your pocket

As part of the federal stimulus package passed earlier this year, home owners can get tax credits for making green renovations to their home, such as installing solar panels, environmentally-friendly doors, or geothermal heating systems.

The details are pretty simple. The U.S. Treasury Department will give you 30 percent of the cost of energy-efficient windows, doors, heating/cooling systems, water heaters, and other items. Other types of credits are available as well. For instance, if you purchase a $20,000 solar-electric system, you can get a tax credit for $6,000 of the cost.

For more info on other home renovation tax credits that are available, check out this story from The Globe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alternative energy vehicles displayed at expo

More than 50 alternative energy vehicles were on display yesterday at the Fifth AltWheeles Fleet Day at the Staples World Headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts. The expo is the largest display of alternative energy vehicles on the East Coast.

The vehicles on display were fueled by everything from electricity to lithium-ion batteries to compressed natural gas. Experts on the manufacturing and operation of the vehicles were on hand to answer any questions that fleet managers attending the event had. Industry leaders also spoke about the importance of using alternative energy vehicles in corporate fleets.

For more info on AtlWheels Fleet DAy, click here for a story from The Boston Globe.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Green cell phone turns heads

Samsung's Reclaim cell phone is turning heads among those interested in sustainable technology. The phone is manufactured using 80 percent recycled materials and includes a standard energy-efficient charger.

In addition to being more sustainable than your average cell phone, the makers of the phone did a good job of making sure it would be "cool" enough to interest the typical cell phone user. The phone includes a slide-action QWERTY keyboard and sports one button links to popular website such as Facebook and Twitter. The Reclaim also comes preloaded with green and environmental tips.

For more information on this and other green phones, click here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Green Taxis Act would allow cities to require hybrid taxis

Federal courts have previously struck down attempts by cities such as Boston, New York, and Seattle to require taxi companies to deploy hybrid fleets.

Last year, Boston passed a regulation that would have required fleets to be all-hybrid by 2015 before the courts ruled that it violated federal laws. The city justified the regulation by saying that hybrid vehicles are 74 percent more efficient than many of taxis currently on the road.

However, the Green Taxis Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Kerry in the Senate today, would allow cities to decide on their own whether taxi fleets should be all-hybrid or not.

“This legislation will help empower cities and towns across the nation, including Boston, to improve air quality, lower carbon emissions, and save cab drivers and passengers money,’’ Kerry said in a prepared statement. “We know we must reinvent the way America uses energy and once again Boston is leading the way.’’

For more info on the Green Taxi Act, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Environmental groups praise Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill

Environmental groups were unanimous in their praise for the Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill that was introduced in the Senate yesterday, but, as expected, the groups stressed that the bill was just a first step of many towards making the environment safer with climate legislation.

According to The Daily Green, environmental groups praised the bill for many reasons, including:
  • Creating new "green jobs" via the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project and funding for the Green Jobs Act
  • Setting a short-term target for greenhouse gas reductions of 20% from major sources by 2020
  • Preserving existing Clean Air Act regulations that will allow the Environmental Protection Agency to curb greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and other major sources.
While the praise was unanimous, the criticism of what the groups consider a emissions reduction requirement that is too lenient was also close to unanimous. For more on the bill, check out this story.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Proposed Senate climate bill stricter than House version

The climate bill that is expected to be introduced in the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee today is more strict in regards to emissions targets than the one narrowly passed by the House earlier this year.

The bill would require a 20-percent emission reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels of CO2 emissions. The House bill requires a 17-percent reduction. Both bills target an 83-percent reduction by 2050.

The bill sets up a cap-and-trade system, which would allow industry members to buy and sell emissions within a total emissions cap. The House bill has a similar cap-and-trade system included.

The introduction of the bill is expected to ignite a climate change debate in the Senate within several committees before a debate on the Senate floor later this year. For more info on the bill, check out this story from The Boston Globe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Global warming talks heat up

With the landmark Copenhagen climate conference just a little more than two months away, news surrounding a potential successor to the Kyoto Protocol is heating up. Last week, representatives of the so-called G20—finance ministers and central bank governors of 20 major national economies—met in Pittsburgh to discuss global warming, among other things.

As the pivotal conference approaches, scientific reports are coming out that are raising the stakes. The U.N. released a report this week that states that the world is on course for a 6.3 degree temperature increases even if all the proposed actions are implemented by every government worldwide. Part of the report is particularly scary as it states that the worst-case scenarios for global climate disasters are actually worse—and not as far in the future—as previously thought.

For a good summary of all the recent news in the global warming debate, check out this story from The Daily Green that contains links to six items that are making news.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Volvo and other automakers see green

Volvo has crafted an ambitious environmental agenda, making the company the latest automaker to work towards a greener future.

The automaker announced a new vision that will attempt to produce cars that produce no harmful exhaust emissions or environmentally-impacting carbon dioxide. Yes, they said no emissions. And, the company is putting its money where its mouth is by investing $2 billion in the project through 2014.

Volvo and other automakers are working towards the 35.5 mpg federal standard that will be in place as of 2015. The standard was part of the federal legislation passed by Washington last year that legislators, unions, and automakers all agreed on as part of a compromise.

For more information on how automakers are going green, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Friday, September 25, 2009

11 ways to reuse packing peanuts

We all get them when we have something mailed to us by a family or friend or when we order something online: Those annoying packaging peanuts that inevitably make a mess all over the room you open the package in. If you are anything like us, the first thing that comes to mind when they spill all over the floor is to get them into the trash can as quickly as possibly. However, the material the peanuts are made of, polystyrene, takes hundreds of years to decompose in nature, meaning it's not the best idea to throw them into a landfill.

So, what is one to do with these annoying little things? You can reuse and recycle them to save money and keep the environment cleaner. The Daily Green has put together a list of 11 ways to do so. Check it out here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lechmere Station relocation presentation and public discussion

As the MBTA begins to move forward with plans to relocate Lechmere Station as part of its Green Line expansion, many residents are concerned about the impact the relocation will have on the East Cambridge area as well as the preservation of the historic buildings that make up the current station.

The East Cambridge Planning Team, which is comprised of concerned citizens of the Cambridge and Somerville area, is hosting a presentation and public discussion on the subject of the Lechmere relocation on Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the East End House on 105 Spring Street in Cambridge. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss how to ensure that the new Lechmere Station does the best job possible of serving as a hub into the neighborhood. Specific topics will include pedestrian crossings of O'Brien Highway, preservation of current buildings, improving the new station's entrances and lobbies, and intregrating the station into the future North Point Street Grid.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Massachusetts makes plans to expand rail service

Massachusetts has signed an agreement with a freight company to purchase rail lines from
Boston to Worcester and New Bedford to Fall River. Once the Commonwealth owns the lines, it will become possible for the MBTA to offer increased service. Currently, freight trains have priority over passenger trains, which limits the times that the passenger trains can run.

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who announced the agreement today, did not say how much the Commonwealth is paying for the lines or give any indication of a timetable for service changes along the lines.

“The Patrick administration is dedicated to improving freight and passenger rail system for the long-term health of our economy and our environment,” Murray told The Herald. “A vibrant rail network that serves both passengers and freight needs is an important part of our transportation system.”

For more info, check out the full story here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Five food tips to keep the environment (and you) healthy

Much of the food we consume has detrimental effects on the environment caused by packaging, pesticides, and the release of greenhouse gases. However, The Daily Green has five tips today that can help you keep these hazardous items out of the environment while making your own body healthier by consuming nutritious food.

From buying local products to purchasing organic goods in a smart manner, these tips are sure to help you on your way to living a greener lifestyle. Check out the full list when you get a chance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

World population grows faster than expected

Since 1999, the world's population has grown by about 79 million people a year. A report released today by the World Resources Institute suggests that the world's population is growing more quickly than expected and could reach 9.1 billion people by 2050. The current world population is about 6.8 billion.

Here are some interesting facts from the report, courtesy of The Daily Green:
  • More than 95% of population growth is occurring in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, regions that account for more than three-quarters of the current population. U.N. demographers estimate that by mid-century, Africa will be adding 21 million people a year to world population and Asia 5 million.

  • Although the populations of Japan, Germany, Russia, and some Eastern European countries are already declining, U.N. demographers do not indicate a population peak among industrial countries as a group until 2036.

  • Global spending on contraceptive supplies and services totaled $338 million in 2007, considerably less than half the amount in 1995 — despite a 20% increase in the number of people of reproductive age in developing countries.

For more info on the report, check out this story.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Earn cash by cutting home emissions

Do you want to earn some extra cash for cutting your home energy use? A new site, My Emissions Exchange, offers credits for people who sign up and then lower their utility bills and carbon footprint.

Environmentalists say the voluntary carbon market has doubled since the beginning of 2008. Using My Emissions Exchange, consumers can sell their credits to participating companies. The credits are currently trading between $10 and $25 on the site.

For more info on the voluntary carbon market and My Emissions Exchange, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ozone hole not closing as expected

Scientists are telling us that the ozone hole is not closing as they hoped it would after 100 countries signed the historic Montreal Protocol in 1987 that regulated the release of ozone-depleting chemicals worldwide. The hole allows UV radiation to penetrate the atmosphere, leading to an increase in cancer risk and other health and environmental problems.

The good news is that the expansion of the hole has stopped, and scientists still believe that the hole will gradually get smaller as time goes by. As part of the protocol, the release of almost all ozone-depleting chemicals is not only regulated but flat-out banned by the end of next year.

There's a lesson to be learned here. While it's easy for man to cause environmental problems by releasing excess chemicals and carbon into the air, it takes decades, if not centuries, for us to reverse or stop these effects. For more info on the ozone hole, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NIssan's green guru dismisses eletctric car criticisms

Critics of electric cars often say that the argument that electric cars are much better for the environment than conventional cars is undermined by the fact that the cars must be charged using electricity that is likely created by burning fossil fuels.

Andy Palmer, head of the company's green vehicle program, said that even in countries such as the U.S. and China, where the majority of electricity is generated from fossil fuels, an electric car is responsible for 24 to 54 percent less emissions than a conventional car.

Nissan is currently working on its Leaf electric vehicle, which is slated to be released late in 2010. For more info, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Study claims switch to renewable energy will create jobs

One of the common arguments against switching to renewable forms of energy is that jobs will be lost in the fossil fuel industry. While it's certainly true that jobs would be lost in that industry, a new study by the European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace claims that more jobs will be created in new fields than those that are lost.

In addition, the study suggested that a global switch to renewable energy would prevent 10 billion tons of carbon emissions by 2030. If this switch were to happen, employment in the renewable energy industry would increase from about 1.9 million to about 6.9 million, according to the study. The study went on to discuss how job creation in the renewable energy field could be used to combat rising unemployment rates because of the current economic recession.

For more info, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Livestock diet adjustment could curb global warming

Methane emissions from cattle and other livestock, which are far more potent than CO2 emissions, may be able to be mitigated by additives in the food livestock are fed.

Emissions from livestock make up between 5 and 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, depending on who you ask. Methane warms the Earth at about a 20 times faster rate than CO2.

As the Earth's population continues to grow, more livestock will need to be raised to feed the growing population. Previously, the only option seemed to be to give up meat altogether, a stance that environmentalists have long championed. But, experts say that dietary additives could not only reduce methane emissions from livestock but also provide better nutrition for the animals and higher yields to farmers.

For more information on the potential of reducing methane emissions from cattle, check out this story from cnn.com.

Friday, September 11, 2009

TVs may be 40 percent more efficient by May

The Department of Energy released stricter requirements for televisions to receive an Energy Star rating last week, meaning that, starting in May, some televisions will be 40 percent more energy-efficient.

For those of you that are interested in cutting your energy bill, this means that the televisions will cost you 40 percent less money to operate. Once you decide it's time to buy a television, you can search for Energy Star-rated televisions on the Energy Star website here. There are currently 19 plasma TVs and 199 LCD models that qualify for the rating.

For more information on this as well as how to recycle your old TV, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Eco films and series set to debut

You may have heard that Ken Burns new series called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" is set to debut on PBS on September 27. PBS' website says that while the show was filmed over six years at some of the most breathtaking locales in the country, it is essential a story about people from all walks of life who are interested in preserving the natural wonders of the world. You can check out a sneak peak of the series here, and hopefully this makes you want to watch the rest because it looks like it will be really good.

Also in the link above, you will find clips and descriptions from three films debuting soon, including No Impact Man, The Age of Stupid, and Crude. These films depict various environmental injustices going on in the world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Long-term Arctic temperature trends reverse

After cooling for nearly 2,000 years, the cooling trend has reversed in the Arctic regions of the Earth, according to a study released last week in Science magazine.

Northern Arizona University researchers used samples of lake soil as well as data from weather stations in the Arctic to create a decade-by-decade history for the average temperatures of the region. From the year 1 AD until 1900, the researchers estimated that the region cooled by .2 degrees Celsius per 100 years. However, by 1950, the temperatures in the region were .7 degrees warmer than would be expected at the rate of change demonstrated during the previous 1,900 years had continued.

It is important to note that this data supports the data of other studies which has suggested that temperature patterns in the Arctic regions of the Earth have changed during recent years. For more information on the study, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Federal grant helps veterans find green jobs

Massachusetts has received federal funding for a statewide project to help veterans find jobs in green and environmentally-friendly fields.

The state Department of Veteran Affairs has hired a Haverhill-based company called Veterans Northeast Outreach Center to assist with the job training and placement services necessary for the project.

“We are proud and privileged to have been selected,’’ said John Ratka, executive director of Veterans Northeast. “This provides an outstanding opportunity for veterans and their families to improve their quality of life."

The project is being funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and can be renewed for up to two more years. The grant is one of 17 that the department gave out to help veterans find jobs.

For more info on this project, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The next-generation of car technology

This sounds like something out of those futuristic, sci-fi movies and almost too good to be true, but Korean researchers are working on technology that would allow electric cars to "hook" into induction strips and inverters buried in roadways to charge the electric battery in the car.

This would alleviate one of the major drawbacks of electric cars—something often referred to as "range anxiety." Currently, electric cars only have a range of about 100 miles before they need to be charged. This can cause a feeling of anxiety in drivers who are used to going 300 miles or more in between trips to the fuel station.

For more info on this as well as the latest on automated driving technology (Who wouldn't love a car that drives itself?), check out this story from The Daily Green.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whole Foods opens self-sufficient store in Dedham

Grocery chain Whole Foods is opening a store in Dedham today that generates nearly 100 percent of the power it needs to run using renewable energy sources.

Company officials said the store uses fuel-cell technology and solar power to generate power. The use of green energy reduces the release of about 750 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of removing about 90 cars from the road.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to improve our green operations and to explore the newest renewable energy technologies and recycling initiatives,’’ said Lee Kane, a spokesman for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region.

In addition to using green, self-produced energy, the store also recycles or reuses 80 percent of its waste.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grocers with New England presence chill for the environment

EPA’s GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership announced its 2009 partner awards this week, and the awardees included Whole Foods, Hill Phoenix and Supervalu, the parent company of Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market. All three companies have a significant presence in New England states.

An EPA cooperative alliance with the supermarket industry, the GreenChill Partnership works with supermarkets to reduce their emissions of ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas refrigerants.

Whole Foods, a nationwide chain of supermarkets and a GreenChill Founding Partner, received the award for Most Improved Emissions Rate. Another food retailer with many outlets in New England and nationwide, Supervalu, was recognized for achieving its emissions target in 2008/09. Supervalu’s stores in New England are Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Market.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fossil fuel industry outspends renewable energy industry on lobbying

The Daily Green is reporting that of the 1,000 or so companies that are paying lobbyists to influence legislators on climate and energy policy, no other group is spending anywhere close to the amount that fossil fuel companies are spending.

The Washington Post backs up this claim, reporting that oil and gas industries spent over $82 million lobbying Congress in the first half of 2009. The alternative energy industry spent only $12 million over that time.

The House has already passed a landmark cap-and-trade regulation. Whether the Senate passes it is yet to be seen. Environmental groups would like to see the Senate pass a version with more stricter requirements, while fossil fuel industry advocates would prefer if the legislation was never approved by the Senate. For more info, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The truth about cap-and-trade regulations

There's a multitude of negative information going around about cap-and-trade regulation. Some of the items are legitimate concerns, but most are misinformation being spread by the opponents of climate change legislation.

You may have heard some of them. One of the worst offenders is the notion that cap-and-trade laws will cost jobs. New jobs will be created in renewable energy fields that will more than offset the job losses in other fields. Another one of my favorites is that cap-and-trade will make the U.S. less competitive than the rest of the world. This is amusing because the U.S. is behind almost all of Europe and some of Asia in enacting climate change regulation.

For more misinformation that is being spread about the proposed cap-and-trade regulation, check out these seven myths from The Daily Green.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Find a farmer's market in your area

The Boston Globe's website has a really neat tool for locating farmers' markets in your area. The tool allows you to search for markets by town or by the name of the market.

Remember, farmers' markets are a great way to buy locally-grown (meaning sustainable) produce that is fresh. The markets also help support local farmers because the farmers don't have to give a bunch of their profit to distributors like they would have to if they sold their goods in supermarkets. If your dinner plans call for some fruits and/or veggies, search for a market that's on your commute home and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls for "Scopes Trial" on climate change

The nation's largest business lobbying group—the Chamber of Commerce—announced yesterday that it is seeking a full-blown trial on the facts surrounding whether or not climate change is a man-made phenomenon.

"It would be evolution versus creationism," said William Kovacs, the Chamber's senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, drawing parallels with the Scopes trial. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

The Chamber has been lobbying for a public hearing on the facts surrounding climate change since the EPA's recent announcement that global warming represents a threat to human healthy. The Chamber is likely to file a case in federal court should the EPA refuse to agree to a public hearing.

While this is likely just a PR ploy, a modern day Scopes Trial over climate change would definitely be interesting and, quite possibly, beneficial for many people who are unfamiliar with some of the facts surrounding climate change. For more info, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Young adults waste more energy and water than older adults

A study of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom has concluded that young adults—ages 18 to 24—are the worst offenders when it comes to wasting energy and water.

This goes against conventional wisdom that suggests young people are the most interested age group in environmental activism and the best potential market for green businesses.

Fifty-six percent of young adult respondents admitted to leaving the tap running while brushing their teeth, and 40 percent said they turn the shower on a few minutes before getting in. These numbers are higher than the percentages of all respondents, but I wonder if it could be in part because younger people are more likely to answer the survey more factually than older respondents (just a guess)?

One of the conclusions of the study was that businesses would be wise to not assume that younger people will be automatically engaged in green business movements. This is similar to the idea that young people are "engaged" in politics, but often do not turn out to vote on election days, making it risky for politicians to rely on young voters to get elected.

Monday, August 24, 2009

City of Boston launches street repair tracking website

Ever wonder about the status of those requests you made to the mayor's neighborhood repair hot line? Well, the city is implementing a new tracking system that can be used online by the public to see what the status of the requests for any number of repairs is, from streetlight repairs to pothole fixes.

The main page of the website will provide a street-by-street view of the city. Each street will be marked with symbols indicating what is currently being fixed and also what needs to be repaired.

“It’s about transparency,” Bill Oates, the city’s chief information officer, told The Herald. “Ultimately, the expectation is all city services will be mobilized” and connected to the system.

For more info on the website, check out this story from The Herald.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Digital textbook business slowly grows

Students at 400 colleges and universities will have the opportunity to download their textbooks online at the cost for $20 per book through a service offered by Flat World Knowledge.

While hard copies of the books often cost $100 or more, the service allows students to purchase a PDF of the book for much less. And, seeing that students are required to buy books for up to six classes per semester, purchasing books is not cheap at all. Furthermore, the books are created and managed using open-source software, meaning that professors can edit the book and add supplemental materials as they please.

In addition to the obvious benefit of reducing costs, digital textbooks are also great for the environment because they cut down on the huge amount of paper required to print all of the textbooks that are used every year in the U.S. We certainly hope that this small, but growing, field continues to partner with more and more colleges and universities.

For more info on this digital textbook service, check out this story from cnn.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

U.S. agriculture secretary calls for more forest conservation

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the country needs to spend more resources managing and protecting its forests in remarks he gave in a speech last week in Seattle.

Vilsack said that protecting the forest has a number of environmental and economic benefits, including creating jobs, combating climate change, and conserving water. Climate change has largely been cited as a reason for the increase of in the number of catastrophic wild fires seen in the western half of the U.S. And, as more forests are destroyed, climate change only gets worse in a seemingly endless cycle.

Vilsack's plan calls for the government to create green jobs that restore forests, so the forests can be used as "carbon sinks" to lessen the impact emissions have on global warming.

For more info on what Vilsack had to say, check out this story from The Boston Globe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six tips for saving time, money, and stress in your commute

The Daily Green has some great tips today on how you can save time and money and cut a lot of the stress out of your daily commute.

An interesting fact in the article: It is estimated that 30 percent of workday traffic comes from parents dropping their children off of picking them up from school. Imagine how much congestion could be reduced if parents had their kids either take the school bus or walk or bike to and from school.

To read more about this tip and others, check out the full story on The Daily Green's website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boston GreenFest 2009 starts Thursday

Greater Boston's green awareness festival kicks off this Thursday at Boston's City Hall Plaza. The event will feature live music, food, exhibits, workshops, and other activities aimed at giving people of all ages a better understanding of the changes we all need to make in our daily lives in order to combat climate change and other environmental issues.

Boston GreenFest also features the One Gallon Challenge, which challenges people to build automobiles that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gas. The One Gallon Challenge starts Thursday in Greenfield and ends at City Hall Plaza.

For more information on GreenFest, check out the event's official website here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Global warming increases weed growth

An interesting note for those of you who garden or pay particular attention to your lawns: As the earth gets warmer, the climate becomes better for those pesky weeds that try to take over your gardens and lawns.

Researchers at UC-Irvine tested this by planting test lawns in varying temperatures. The researchers found that weeds, such as crabgrass and Bermuda grass, grow much better in warmer conditions because they grow more quickly than other plans, meaning they get to the resources first. Obviously, this takes nutrients away from the plants that you want to grow well in your gardens or lawns.

For more info on this, check out this story from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some wines are greener than others

Believe it or not, not all wines are the same level of green. In fact, there is a good amount of variance in the level of sustainability and green practices that wineries use.

Instead of going out and doing the research for you, Greenopia has done the work for you. The web site has ranked wineries based on growing practices, efficiency of buildings, transportation, and packaging. Greenopia rates the "greenness," or environmental impact, of companies in a number of fields, including airlines, auto makers, fast food restaurants, and others.

For more information on which wines are the greenest, check out the ratings on the Greenopia web site.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Government study suggests glaciers melting at an alarming rate

A 50-year government study has concluded that the world's glaciers are melting at a rapid and alarming rate.

The U.S. Geological Society has been tracking the movements of three benchmark glaciers, two in Alaska and one in Washington, since 1959. The three glaciers are considered benchmarks by the government because they are in different climate zones and at different elevations. The study is yet another argument that the world is warming at a rate more rapid that anyone expected. For more info on the study, check out this story from cnn.com.

So, what can we do to combat the earth's warming? It's simple, really, and your company wants to help. Your company offers benefits and incentives to encourage you to do things other than drive alone to work and use more eco-friendly methods such as carpooling, transit, or bicycling. If you have any questions about what commuter benefits are available to you, don't hesitate to contact your Transportation Coordinator.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama prepares executive order on emissions targets

President Obama is planning to sign an executive order next month requiring federal agencies to cut emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

In order to meet the requirement of cutting two percent of emissions each year from 2010 to 2020 (or 20 percent over the entire time), public sector officials will have to build more efficient structures, use more renewable energy, use less fuel, and hire more "green" contractors. Furthermore, private sector companies with government contracts will also have to show how they plan to cut emissions in order to keep their contracts with the government.

This is certainly good news for the environment if the President carries through with this executive order. To read more about the proposed executive order, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The 10 most visited national parks

National parks in the United States offer visitors an affordable way to see some of the most beautiful environmental landscape in the country. From the nation's most visited park, Smokey Mountain National Park (to the right), which had almost 10 million visitors in 2007, to Maine's Acadia National Park, these parks offer single or multiple-day getaways for you and/or your family.

All national parks contain picnic grounds and camp areas, along with nature trails and other attractions. For more info on as well as pictures of the 10 most visited national parks, check out this slide show from The Daily Green. These natural beauties are certainly worth preserving through the green practices that we discuss on this blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

State legislators criticize Governor Patrick over potential MBTA fare hikes

Several Massachusetts legislators said today in a press conference that they felt misled by the Patrick Administration because of the potential MBTA fare hikes. The legislators voted to increase the sales tax last month in part to help offset some of the state's transportation budget difficulties.

The lawmakers called the fare increases unfair, unjustified, and ill-advised. This news comes after the Patrick Administration bought out the contract of the MBTA general manager (also known as politely fired) and announced that any decision on the fare hikes would be put on hold until an internal review of the MBTA's finances is complete. The review is expected to be finished by November 1.

However, the workshops and public hearings on the fare hikes that were scheduled to begin today will still be held over the next few weeks. This would lead one to believe that the fare increase is still likely to occur in January as planned, but we can all hope that the state finds a better way to meet its budget deficit than raising more fares and/or taxes.

For more info on the news surrounding the fare hikes, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The "clunkiest clunkers" traded in during the government's Cash for Clunkers program

Most of you have likely heard the debate surrounding the government's Cash for Clunkers program that allows consumers to trade in vehicles (no matter what shape the vehicle is) for a $4,500 credit towards a new vehicle. While the supposed environmental benefits are debatable, there is little doubt that the program has been good for the automobile industry and the economy.

But, instead of discussing the pros and cons of the program, we found this fun slide show that describes 10 of the "clunkiest clunkers," whether they are vehicles that are in terrible shape or that are terribly inefficient with gas. Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Where do your electronics go after you're done with them?

In the U.S., after companies are done with their electronics, they are often exported overseas to dumps. There, they are burned to dispose of them, which allows a ton of chemicals to seep into the environment. These chemicals cause countless environmental and health risks, including cancers and reproductive problems.

"People living and working on and around the dump sites, many of whom are children, are exposed to a cocktail of dangerous chemicals that can cause severe damage to health, including cancer, damage to the nervous system, and to brain development in children," Kim Schoppink, Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace, told CNN.

Nigeria, and other countries in Africa, are leading importers of so-called e-waste, which is a term for all consumer electronics. Studies have found that the land around these e-waste dumps is often high in lead and other hazardous materials.

While only 20 percent of electronics are recycled safely (or given to charity), there is a growing movement for safe recycling processes for electronics. For more information on these e-waste dumps, check out this story from cnn.com.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Global poll suggests governments should be more concerned about climate change

A global poll of people in 19 countries found that the majority of people in the world think their government should put more emphasis on combating global climate change.

Respondents in 15 of the 19 countries said they believe their government should put a higher priority on climate change policy, including the three biggest greenhouse gas emitters—the U.S., China, and Russia. The poll was conducted in China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, and South Korea, according to the press release by the polling agency.

Interestingly, the poll also found that a good number of people overestimate how much they care about climate change because twice as many respondents said they care more than the average person than respondents that said they care less than the average person.

For more info on the results of the poll, check out the full results here.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Boston City Council to vote on "green roof" initiative

Boston City Councilor (and mayoral candidate) Sam Yoon will introduce a city ordinance tonight that would give property owners financial incentives for converting rooftops in the city to "green roofs." New York City approved a similar ordinance last year.

A green roof is one that has been transformed using layers of vegetation and soil. The benefits of such a roof are numerous, including improved storm water run off and improved air quality.

If the ordinance passes, the city will give a $5 tax incentive for every square footage of roof that is converted to a green roof. There would be a $10,000 cap on the payouts.

If you'd like to read more about the proposal, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

U.S. and China sign climate change pact

U.S. State Department and Chinese officials signed a pact today to work together to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by promoting environmentally-friendly technologies.

The U.S. and China are the two leading emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. While the deal is almost entirely symbolic because it contains few specific details, the fact that the two countries can agree on this is a good thing as the U.N.-led climate change negotiations approach later this year. At the negotiations, countries from around the world will meet in Copenhagen in an effort to form a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say of the pact: "[The agreement] provides our countries with direction as we work together to support international climate negotiations and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

City releases more details of upcoming bike share program

As Boston city officials continue to work on plans for the nation's first bike share program that is set to begin next spring or summer, more details of the program are emerging.

For those who are not familiar with municipal bike share programs, the way they work is pretty simple. The city will place bike "stations" around the city (mostly at public transit stops and other attractions). Anyone who wants to rent a bike can pay to unlock it and rent it for a set amount of time. When the rider reaches their destination, they drop off the bike at another station to lock it back up.

As far as the new details, here's a quick run down. The city has said it plans to have 1,000 to 3,000 bikes available at stations around the area. The stations will be 300 to 400 yards apart.

Under one proposal, bikes could be rented for $2.50 for a single rental or $40 for a yearly membership. A rental would be good for 30 minutes, and the rider would have to pay an additional fee after 30 minutes. The reason for this is the fact that, in other cities, the average bike sharing trip is less than 30 minutes long.

For more information on the bike sharing program, check out this story from The Globe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nike and Coke improve supply chain sustainability

Shoe manufacturer Nike and soft drink giant Coca Cola have often been criticized for the environmental impact of their supply chains. However, it seems like both companies are turning over a new leaf in the interest of becoming more eco-friendly.

Similar to other shoe manufacturers, Nike's supply chain has been shown to do significant damage to Amazon rain forest. By July 1, 2010, the company plans to make all Brazilian hide suppliers (the leather used to make their shoes) certify that their cattle are raised on land that is not cleared rain forest.

Meanwhile, Coke has pledged to be more "water neutral" than it has been in the past. The company has been accused by many environmental groups of creating water shortages in developing countries around the world. However, the company has pledged to return as much water as it uses to the water supply in these countries.

For more info on the supply chain changes at Nike and Coke, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cambridge bio tech company unveils new fuel making process

Today, Joule Biotechnologies, a Cambridge-based start up, announced that it has created a fuel that is literally made from sunlight.

The fuel, dubbed SolarFuel, is created in a process called helioculture, where carbon dioxide and sunlight are combined in a device that resembles a solar panel. Inside the device, engineered organisms (the company won't say what they are for proprietary reasons) absorb the sunlight and carbon dioxide. The organisms will then omit a combination of fuel ethanol, petroleum-derived compounds, and hydrocarbons that, in theory, can be used to fuel things.

While this process certainly is revolutionary, the big question (as with all biofuels) will be whether it can be produced efficiently in mass quantities. For more info on SolarFuel, check out this story from The Globe.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Balance debuts eco-friendly running shows

Boston-based shoemaker New Balance has launched its first eco-friendly running shoes, dubbed the New Balance 70.

Seventy percent of the shoes are made from "environmentally-preferred materials." New Balance has gone out of its way to reduce waste in the production of the shoes, including shipping them without that useless paper you find inside shoe boxes. People have reported that the shoes are extremely comfortable because they are very light-weight and supportive. They also are very durable, meaning that even though they will cost slightly more than shoes that are not as eco-friendly, they should last longer.

While we would love to see major shoe manufacturers debut shoes that are made from 100 percent recycled and eco-friendly materials, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Check out this blog post from The Daily Green if you'd like to read more about the New Balance 70 shoes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Exxon invests $300 million in algae-based biofuels

Oil giant ExxonMobil has made plans to invest at least $300 million (and up to $600 million) in research involved with developing algae-based biofuels.

To conduct the research, the company is teaming up with DNA pioneer Craig Venter and his biotech research company. Venter is credited with being instrumental in the completion of the Human Genome Project and is a regular on Time's yearly list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

"We believe that biofuel produced by algae could be a meaningful part of the solution in the future if our efforts result in an economically viable, low net-carbon emission transportation fuel," said Dr. Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, in a press statement.

As Venter said in another statement, the real challenge to this project will be creating the ability to efficiently mass produce any algae-based biofuel that is developed. Fore more info on ExxonMobil and Venter's work with algae-based biofuels, check out this story on cnn.com.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Honda announces production date for its CR-Z sports car hybrid

In 2007, Honda first introduced its hybrid sports car, the CR-Z, and said that its new models over the next several years would change the way people look at hybrids. Well, it's yet to be seen if the company will be successful with that goal, but the CR-Z is definitely something to look forward to.

This week, Honda announced that the car will go on sale in Japan in February and in the rest of the world later in 2010. The company is expected to announce specific launch dates for Europe and North America by the end of the year.

For more info on the sporty CR-Z, check out these stories from The Daily Green and Auto Blog Green. The Daily Green link includes videos of the car in action.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Funding for transit projects remains on shaky ground

The Globe is reporting today that MBTA and state administrators are tempering expectations on many public transportation projects, including the legally-mandated Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford.

Because of the MBTA's growing debt issues as well as current economic conditions, MBTA administrators are rethinking a number of other proposed projects, including a downtown Silver Line bus tunnel and the Blue Line extension to Lynn. Because the projects other than the Green Line extension are not legally-mandated, they will likely be pushed aside until the MBTA's financial situation improves.

Clean air regulations require the MBTA to extend the Green Line to Union Square and Tufts University by 2014. There have been proposals to extend the line even further, to Route 16, but extending the line that far is not legally required, and, therefore, not likely to happen in the first wave of the extension.

Hopefully, both the state and MBTA's financial situation improves enough where they can fund all of the worthwhile transit projects in a timely manner because public transportation goes along way towards reducing congestion, pollution, and the harmful effects of global warming.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Renewable energy consumption increasing in U.S.

A report released today by the Department of Energy shows that the use of renewable energy in the U.S. in on the rise as the use of fossil fuels continues to decline.

The report found that about 11 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. came from renewable sources, including hydroelectric, wind, biomass, and geothermal sources, during the month of April. While the use of coal is still the largest source of energy at 46 percent, the number fell by 13.9 percent from April 2008 to April 2009 and will likely continue to fall because of the increased emphasis on creating and using renewable energy.

You can click here if you want to review the hard facts and data from the DoE, or if you prefer an easier to digest version, here's a story from Business Green.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wal-Mart makes plans to create sustainable product index

Retail giant Walmart announced plans this week to create a worldwide Sustainable Product Index. Company officials said the index will measure the environmental impact of the products its stores carry.

To create the index, Walmart is expected to do two things. First, it has a created a 15-question survey that it will send to suppliers to gauge the environmental impact of each product and company. Second, the company will fund a group of universities, retailers, suppliers, and government agencies to do a lifecycle analysis of the products. Not many details were given about this part of the plan, but we're assuming that means the group will examine the environmental impact of the creation, shipping, and disposal of each product.

The form that the Sustainable Product Index will take has not been determined. It could be a color-coded sticker, a number score, or something else, according to company officials. For more info on the index, check out this story from The Daily Green.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MBTA releases more fare increase info

The MBTA has posted a booklet on its website detailing the fare increases that the transit agency has proposed. The booklet lists what the new fares will be for all services if the proposal is adopted. It also lists the dates for all rider workshops as well as the public meeting that is scheduled for August 27.

One thing to note is that while the MBTA is pushing the fare increase option, it is also listing service cutbacks (or a combination of both) as an option. However, officials at the agency have said that service cuts alone would not be enough to meet the budget deficit. If you think the service cuts would be a better option than increasing fares, then attending one of the rider workshops and/or the public meeting would be a good idea.

If the fare increases have you thinking about changing the way you commute to work, remember that there are other cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways to commute to work. While we still believe that transit is a great way to commute to work, carpooling is also a great option. Remember to register in our ridematching database to see if there are other commuters that match your commuting patterns. The more people we have in the system, the more likely it is for everyone to find a good match. If you have any questions about your commuting options, don't hesistate to contact your Transportation Coordinator.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Carbon footprint of the internet drives energy-efficiency movement

Researchers estimate that every second you spend browsing a website creates about 20 milligrams of CO2. That's certainly not a lot, but when you consider that there are millions of people using the internet every second, it really adds up fast. In fact, the carbon footprint from internet usage alone is as much as the carbon footprint of the entire aviation industry.

So, what's being done to mitigate this issue? A lot of work is already being done to make electronics more energy-efficient, from the personal computer level all the way up to the data center level. Many large companies are switching to green hosting providers that use solar-powered data centers. On the PC level, some companies boast creating computers and monitors that are better than current energy-efficiency standards (which, quite honestly, are not very strict).

On a personal level, we can support the energy-efficiency movement by buying electronics that meet or exceed Energy Star standards. Also, remember to do the little things, such as powering down your computer at night as well as setting it to run at lower power levels when you are using it. A little bit goes a long way.

Hub On Wheels - Join us for Boston's only citywide bike ride

HOW2009 Banner w/ Date

Riders on Storrow Dr.

 
Happy group of riders
 A City that Bikes Together...
 
0615logosB2BB...gets helmet-hair together, among other things. Like an unobstructed view of the city and a chance to fall in love with Boston all over again. So on September 27th, grab your bike and join Mayor Menino and thousands of your neighbors for Hub On Wheels.
 
A ride for everyone. Hub On Wheels is your chance to ride a car-free Storrow Drive and to explore the greenways, shoreline, and neighborhoods we call home.
  • Choose your course: 10, 30 or 50 miles
  • Registration is $45
  • No minimum fundraising amount
  • Discounted parking (only $3) available

Visit www.HubOnWheels.org to register and find out more.

No Bike? No problem. Contact Urban Adventours to reserve one and have it waiting for you at the start.
Join a team, get free stuff...  
Join one of our featured teams and get free goodies. These teams are open to everyone, but sign up early because the goodies go fast!
  • Team Boston Volvo Village:First 50 get a free Boston Volvo Village jersey
  • Team Charles River Saab: First 25 get a free Charles River Saab jersey 
  • Team International Bicycle: First 100 get a free $15 gift certificate
  • Team Landry's Bicycles: First 100 get a $15 gift certificate
  • Team Ski Market: First 100 get a $15 gift certificate
  • Team Wheelworks: First 100 get a $15 gift certificate
  • Team Zipcar: First 100 get a free $15 gift certificate

And don't forget that our successful fundraisers and donors will be rewarded with gift certificates from generous sponsors like Ski Market, Boloco, Whole Foods Market, International Bicycle Centers and Landry's Bicycles.

A great cause, a fabulous time.TGH Family
Proceeds from Hub On Wheels help Boston Public Schools students get the technology and the skills they need to succeed in today's world. Learn more.
 
Don't miss what's sure to be the bike ride of the summerSign up today!
  
Sincerely,
  
The Hub On Wheels Team
  • Bike Friday's: Ride into work with experienced ride guides. July 31st and August 25th.  Learn more and register at www.bikefridays.org.
  • Rock, Roll and Ride: Community bike days for the entire family. July 18th, July 25th and August 8th. Click here to learn more.
  • Boston Bikes on Facebook: Mayor Menino's Boston Bikes is now on Facebook. Learn about all things biking. Go to Facebook.com and search for "Mayor Menino's Boston Bikes".
  • Tour de Farms: Visit urban and community farms in the Boston area by bicycle and get a chance to sample fresh, locally grown food. Click here to learn more.

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