Talking Green Energy: Truths And Myths

greenenergyWith the emergence of a competitive, deregulated energy marketplace, most industry insiders not surprisingly conclude that price is the bottom line when businesses choose energy providers. Though it’s hard to argue against the bottom line, another principle is quietly worming its way into the decision-making equation: green power.

Just as the bottom line is difficult to argue against, it’s hard to refute the moral imperative of green power. Taking care of the environment is everybody’s responsibility, but the extent of that accountability is undefined. At what cost should a business concern itself with environmental issues? Certainly contracting for traditional forms of energy is no crime, especially if it saves money. If financial cost is the primary bottom-line consideration, proponents of green power, to truly become mainstream energy providers, must do so on the business world’s terms. Specifically, they must offer energy that is every bit as reliable and cost effective as that offered by traditional utilities.

THE GREEN POLICE

Of the two essential features that …

Ancker-Johnson Blazed A Trail For Women Executives

ancker-hohnsonBetsy Ancker-Johnson arrived in Detroit at a time when the American auto industry was virtually a men’s club run by male industry insiders. Ancker-Johnson was the opposite. A scientist with a long list of credentials, she became General Motors’ first female vice president in February 1979. And as if to double her challenge, she was handed two of the industry’s most controversial areas to manage: environmental compliance and vehicle safety.

Ancker-Johnson quickly assured the old boys’ club that she knew her stuff. With a Ph.D. in physics, she had been a lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley, served in management at Boeing and conducted research at leading laboratories around the country.

She came to GM from the Argonne National Laboratory, where she had been associate director for physical research. She also knew the ins and outs of Washington, having served as assistant secretary for science and transportation with the U.S. Commerce Department.

During her tenure at GM, she grappled with a changing industry, both …

Despite Its Y2K Origin, ISO 14001 Paid Big Dividends

y2kIn preparing for Y2K, consider environmental impacts. By combining the ISO 14001 internal auditing with corrective and preventive action program elements, management review, and other supporting elements, potential Y2K problems can be effectively managed.

Have you considered the environmental consequences of not being Y2K compliant? The EPA is advising companies to take this concern very seriously. The ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS) Standard is a good way to manage all types of changes that could potentially impact the environment, including abnormal operations resulting from Year 2000 (Y2K) problems. Organizations using ISO 14001 should consider potential Y2K environmental issues in identifying and evaluating environmental aspects and impacts, and setting appropriate objectives and targets.

The Standard also requires that corrective and preventive action is taken to eliminate the causes of actual and potential nonconformance. This includes potential nonconformance caused by Y2K problems. By combining the ISO 14001 internal auditing and corrective and preventive action program elements, along with management review and other supporting elements, potential Y2K …

Noble Took A Big Stand For His Area

nobleCHARLES “Charlie” Mark Noble III would make a good foreign diplomat. While a kind man, Noble is unwavering in his convictions and facts. He is no pushover and anyone sitting across the table from him had better have a good grasp of the issues. His work as a farm leader in Louisiana — lauded by colleagues — proves his mettle.

Noble says some of his better work as a farm leader was as chairman of Louisiana Farm Bureau’s (FB) environmental issues committee.

“I began feeling very strongly about ag environmentalism in the late 1980s. Ag was getting a huge dose of unfair criticism. I began trying to generate positive publicity, challenging people that were putting out some of the incorrect information.”

At the same time, Noble began a container recycling program.

“He was solely responsible for introducing pesticide container recycling to northeast Louisiana,” says Wendell Miley, coordinator of environmental affairs for the Louisiana FB. Noble’s efforts led to a statewide effort that annually recycles …

Seafood Retailers Still Struggle With Environmental Issues

seafoodLife isn’t easy for seafood retailers. There are so many different challenges to deal with every day. Supply and product sourcing are big issues. Proper care and handling of seafood are significant concerns. And perhaps most worrisome are the political and environmental issues facing the seafood industry as a whole.

But guess what? Your customers couldn’t care less about your problems. When they’re in your store trying to figure out what to buy for dinner, all they want is something that can be easily and quickly prepared at home.

They’re looking for good quality at a reasonable price from a retailer who can answer questions like: “How much should I buy to feed four people?” “What’s the best way to cook this?” and “How do I know when it’s done?”

And right there is probably your biggest challenge of all: educating consumers so they’re comfortable buying fish. Their basic questions, unfortunately, go unanswered too many times. And when that happens, consumers lose confidence in the …

Burt’s Bees Started A Wave In Green-Products

green-productsBurt’s Bees employees will be buzzing this year as the maker of plant-based personal care products attempts to broaden the line’s appeal.

Burt’s Bees, based in Raleigh, N.C., is the manufacturer of a 10-year- old gift and health food store line, best known for beeswax lip balm and an unconventional style. For example, the line’s packaging and marketing materials frequently feature pictures of a bearded, flannel- clad Burt Shavitz, one of the company’s founders. And because the company takes environmental issues seriously, most of its packaging is made from recycled cardboard, aluminum or glass.

The company recently expanded into more varied markets, such as skin tag removal products. According to Laura Donegan of safeskintagremoval.org, the products are a real step forward.

“Obviously, having a green-skin tag removal cream is exactly what many people are looking for. Removing skin tags at home isn’t easy, and the new product is a lifesaver,” said Donegan.

But thanks to — or maybe in spite of — this back-to-the-earth image, the brand’s sales have been growing 30 percent to 35 percent every year Continue reading

Dusseldorf’s Waste Water Plant Still A Legendary Environmental Project

scadaThe control of nitrogen in wastewater begins with nitrification for oxidisation of ammonia-nitrogen and ends with denitrification for reduction of nitrates and nitrites to nitrogen gas. Both nitrification and denitrification are accomplished through a biological treatment, accelerated by the injection of compressed air.

During the process, wastewater temperature and pH are the two most important parameters to be measured and controlled because they affect the distribution of ammonia and ammonia ions. The water temperature must be kept to a specified range, regardless of the season.

The innovative technology at the Dusseldorf water plant was to bring the nitrification and denitrification together in a simultaneous process. The wastewater swirls, through five 23,200 [m.sup.3] flat, open-air tanks, each tank divided into four narrow channels where compressed air is blown into the bottom to supply oxygen. The compressed air is supplied by four large turbines. Controlling the turbines, the amount of air injected into the process, the flow of water, water temperature, pH, bacteria, and many other parameters …

Talking Green Design

talkinggreendesignTo be an architect today and not to be concerned about ecological design is almost a contradiction in terms. Everyone is at it, from grand international jetsetters such as Norman Foster and Richard Rogers to classical architects like Robert Adam. When Ken Yeang, the guru of the green skyscraper, flies in from Malaysia the lecture halls are packed with students eager to find out whether it really is possible to build environmentally sensitive tall buildings. The Queen has taken a stand, pumping water up from a deep borehole under Buckingham Palace to cool the new Queen’s Gallery instead of relying on conventional electrically driven air-cooled convectors on the roof. Even the House of Commons is in on the act. The great chimneys sailing over the roofline of the New Parliamentary Building, just completed in Parliament Square, are both practical ventilation shafts that minimise the need for air-conditioning and symbols of the Government’s determination to encourage green buildings.

The New Parliamentary Building was designed by Michael …

The All Species Project Was An Innovator

aspAll Species Project is one of the most innovative ecocultural arts programs going, and certainly one of the most effective; it brings a dynamic sense of wonder back into our kids’ classrooms, even as it grounds and revitalizes our communities. Without such place-based, celebratory practices–without such collective forms for listening to, and honoring, the myriad animals and plants with whom our lives are entangled–all our scientific savvy and exhaustive species surveys will still be unable to save what’s left. –David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than. Human World

All Species Projects (ASP) exist in cities and villages in five states of the US, and in Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Sweden, and India. Though known mostly for producing festivals of “ecosensible” learning, the projects are really about interdisciplinary community education.

Over our twenty-two-year history, we’ve developed a tried-and-true formula: Collaborate with local organizations working in ecology, education, and the arts. Choose a pressing ecological and poetic theme, such as …

We Simply Need To Treat The Earth Better

treattheearthWe place our most toxic businesses near poor neighborhoods, schools, and other areas where those who are most affected will raise the least protest because they are already so marginalized. We are constantly deciding, as if it is our right, which species of animals and plants can live or die based on how their needs intersect with ours–our needs, of course, taking priority. Like many aspects of systemic or institutional injustice, the list is overwhelming.

Meanwhile, in her age and wisdom, the earth continues to deliver beauty, allowing us to rationalize that the damage being done is negligible or reversible. It is not, and we don’t have to seek out toxic waste sites or oil-slicked seas to discover that. We just need to listen to the most vulnerable among us.

Recently, as I sat in a windowless conference room with about thirty women, we heard a loud noise, like a vacuum cleaner running in an adjoining room. Suddenly, one woman went running out of the …