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Archive for October, 2008

The Weekly Heads Up

October 27th, 2008 by

Auto-Free NY’s Plan for Improving the City through Better Transit

Come hear how it works this week.
Tuesday, Oct 28. 6-8pm
Auto-Free NY presents an open forum on key transportation issues. Moderated by Jeffrey Gold, Vice-President, Institute for Rational Urban Mobility.

More info on Sustainable Streets in New York City in SF this week from SPUR:
Wednesday, Oct 29. 12:30 – 1:30pm. SPUR Office, 312 Sutter St. (at Grant), 5th Floor. Close to the Powell St. BART station and several Muni lines. Feel free to bring a lunch. SPUR Forums are open to the public, free for members and $5 for non-members.

New York’s Department of Transportation has transformed in recent years into one of the country’s leading advocates for sustainable streets. Jon Orcutt, the agency’s Director of Policy, will discuss the agency’s strategic plan, released in April 2008, and the variety of projects and initiatives designed to align the department with the goals and challenges of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 sustainability initiative

What’s “Humanure”??
Thursday, Oct 30. 7:30 – 9:00pm. 6th Street Community Center
638 East 6th St (btw Aves B and C), in Manhattan

Permaculture Solutions Lecture Series presents: “Humanure” Humanure – the odorous excretions of human beings – can be recycled using natural processes without creating environmental pollution. And it can be done in your own backyard. Joseph Jenkins will cover this topic at least a couple inches deep. Joseph Jenkins, a businessman, organic gardener and author of three books, is perhaps best known for the award-winning Humanure Handbook – A Guide to Composting Human Manure, which is making its way to various United Nations and international development networks, and has been translated into Korean, Hebrew, Spanish, Norwegian and Mongolian.  From the Green NYC Events calendar.

Have a Great Week!

Green News You Can Use

October 27th, 2008 by

Sheep being led back to the ranch.

  • Downtown Houston converts an above ground parking lot into a below grade parking lot with a park on top, creating open space downtown.
  • Bike sharing programs are becoming more popular on college campuses, and getting more technologically advanced at the same time.
  • The economic crisis and the decrease in gasoline and fuel costs may cause the renewable energy trend to stall.
  • California’s energy efficient policies have created close 1.5 million jobs over the last 30 years, while losing less than 25,000. Since consumers were spending less on energy, they spent more on other areas, creating jobs.
  • Google has created a Halloween themed energy savings calculator for greening your home.
  • Charging your phone or ipod while you walk may become a reality.
  • Corn ethanol uses a lot of water – 36 gal of water per mile driven by a typical car on the fuel.
  • Some people are taking living green a bit too far, leading people to make a new term for them – energy anorexics or carborexics.
  • A device called the Blade can attach on to the tail pipe of almost any car out there and filter particulate matter from the tail pipes. The device costs $199 and the filters that come with it are good for two years.
  • Hybrid buses, produced by a local company, are under-performing in Toronto, despite successes in San Francisco and New York. It may be because they are used primarily on suburban routes, where stop and go traffic, where hybrids perform best, aren’t as regular occurrences.
  • A car that runs off of compressed air is currently in development.  It can reach top speeds of 40 mph, with a range of greater than 130 miles and can seat three.  Prototypes are expected to be available in Europe next year, hitting the US in 2010.
  • Both of the candidates have plans involving plug-in and alternative energy vehicles.  Obama’s plan involves converting the White House fleet to plug-ins while McCain’s plan focuses on a $300 million prize to develop more a economical battery.
  • Working towards its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2010, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will start a program to allow commuters to purchase carbon offsets.
  • For the first time in over 30 years, a nuclear power plant might be constructed in the US.  34 nuclear power reactors are planning on seeking permission to build from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the next year, the majority of which will be built in the south.  This boom is bringing a lot of construction to the south as well, some of which is for export.
  • Using sheep to graze away the weeds on large swaths of land is a growth industry.  Its a low fossil fuel endeavor, has aesthetic appeal, and produces wool and meat as byproducts.

The Weekly Heads Up

October 20th, 2008 by

Image of Chartwell School courtesy of Michael David Rose Photography.

Douglas Atkins, Executive Director of Chartwell School is winning a Green Building Super Hero award this week! Come to the party this Thursday.

Sherwood provided engineering and design services for this LEED Platinum project, including an educational interpretive stormwater feature that links the rainwater cistern to the science garden. Check out this video on Chartwell’s Green Features. Or read this article, “Chartwell School Receives A+ from USGBC.

Want to find out what Obama is doing for Clean Energy?
Monday, Oct 20.
Attend this gala event in SF with Tracy Chapman for $250. Or join a Clean Tech for Obama house party for free!

Emerging Green Builders Happy Hour!
Monday, October 20. 6:00pm – Murphys Pub, 217 Kearny, SF,CA
Join us again at Murphy’s Pub for our monthly EGB meet n greet!

Sherwooders: Sara Mae says, “Sorry no featured speakers this month, but if you want to present next month or have a quiet space we can meet in, please let me know at saramaemartens@dbarchitect.com.”

Anybody have any hot ideas they want to share?

Shout Outs:
Sherwood offers Congratulations to Earth Island Institute’s  9th Annual Brower Youth Environmental Award Winners. These are the top environmental prize for young people in North America. Congratulations to all the winners!

Attend the VIP Reception and Awards Show to honor these young leaders. Featuring Bill McKibben, Q’orianka Kilcher, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Hawken, and other honorary guests.
Tuesday, Oct 21
Herbst Theater, SF. 5:30 – 9 pm

New York: Composting in the City
Tuesday, Oct 21 6 – 8pm. Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Leaves, kitchen scraps, garden trimmings, and weeds can all become garden gold through composting. Making dark, rich, crumbly compost doesn’t take much time, work, or space. This class covers the basics: what the composting process is, how to compost, how to use the finished compost, how to avoid and solve some issues, and which equipment and tools are helpful. Participants will receive a copy of the BBG handbook Easy Compost: The Secret to Great Soil and Spectacular Plants.

Green Building Super Heroes Gala
Thursday,
October 23rd, 5:30 – 9 pm
Mezzanine. 444 Jessie Street. SF, CA 94103
The Building Super Heroes Gala is THE green building event in Northern California. Last year’s event inspired hundreds and attracted broadcast media attention. The gala will feature a program celebrating the unique green building culture of Northern California, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and live jazz. Come as you are or dressed as your favorite super hero!

One of this year’s Super Heroes is Douglas Atkins, Executive Director, Chartwell School.

Congratulations to Douglas Atkins, and all the students at Chartwell!

1st Annual Alternative Construction & Energy Expo
Saturday & Sunday, Oct 25-26. Santa Cruz Fair Grounds
Attend construction, landscaping & water workshops for professionals and homeowners, the “Green Zone Family Area,” and a “Green” Market Place featuring over 50 vendors. Admission is free. More information here.

Have a great week!

Can Infrastructure Investment Save Our Economy?

October 20th, 2008 by

Wired has an interesting article up, “Note to Next President: Modern-Day WPA Will Save the Economy”

“The state of America’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, drinking water, even schools and transit systems — couldn’t be much worse. A report card issued three years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it all a D. The society says we’ve got to spend about $1.6 trillion just to bring things up to a B-”

Is the economic meltdown an ideal opportunity to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, create jobs, and modernize our rails and roads? Or is it a government boondoggle that will undercut private industry and prolong our economic recession? Is the labor-intensive model of the WPA an accurate comparison for today’s hi-tech projects that require highly-skilled workers?

The writer says:

“The candidates can talk all they want about shoveling money into alternative fuels, electric cars and high-speed rail, but none of that will mean much if our roads, bridges and rails can’t support them. The next president must commit to fixing our infrastructure. Such an investment will create jobs, strengthen our economy and make America more competitive.”

Should wind-power, large-scale solar, and a new smart energy grid be part of the next president’s agenda? What about high-speed rail in California?

What do you think?

We’d love to hear!

Green News You Can Use

October 17th, 2008 by
A vegetable oil powered car won the race from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. (New York Times)

A vegetable oil powered car won the race from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. (New York Times)

  • A race from San Francisco to Las Vegas has a twist – all cars start with just one gallon of a fuel of their choice and they must scavange for the rest of their fuel on their home made vehicles.  A vegetable oil fueled car won the race, where the only other finisher (only 5 vehicles started) was a wood burning car.
  • The New York City Parks Department, which managed Shea Stadium, is removing bathroom and lighting fixtures for use at other Parks Department facilities, among other items, prior to demolition of the stadium. (via greenbuildingsNYC)
  • Toyota won a fuel efficiency challenge last week in a race in the UK, with its Yaris 1.4D-4D (diesel) car achieving 70.49 MPG for the 400 mile race. The best gasoline car mileage was the Toyota Aygo with 68.6 MPG. Too bad neither of the vehicles are available here in the US.
  • Global warming is creating a negative feedback loop by reducing the amount of water in peat bogs, leading them to dry out and decompose, which thereby releases more carbon to the air.
  • Check out the solar potential for your home easily with this map (if you’re in North America that is…)
  • After the energy crisis in the 1970s, a lot of money was invested finding new fossil fuel resources, but just a few million were granted to a research group in Berkeley to reduce energy demands. They realized widows were a big energy sink and basically created the market for low-emissivity windows, paving the way for the glass towers of today.
  • The UK announced an employment program that will train workers to insulate attics, in a new program called the Conservation Corps.
  • Michael Pollan writes an open letter to the next President about how to reform food laws so that Americans gain a healthier diet, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and greater national security.
  • The Vietnamese catfish has been having a huge impact on the American catfish industry.  But are they on the same playing field from an environmental and food safety standpoint?
  • A vast natural gas reserve is located below New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but accessing it may cause contamination of the water supply.
  • Traffic could be impacting our health in one way not many of us would suspect. A study done in San Francisco showed that 1 in 6 residents of San Francisco may be suffering from higher stress rates from the increased noise levels due to traffic, and that puts them at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses.
  • Gainsville, Florida, may adopt feed-in tariffs, which would guarantee to buy all power produced by solar PV systems at a set price for the next 20 years, creating a more stable market for solar power.  This program is an alternative to a net metering program, which is more expensive to administer.

The Weekly Heads Up

October 13th, 2008 by


3rd PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE this Wednesday evening!
Wednesday, Oct 15. 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Enjoy it live on the big screens at Bobby G’s Pizzeria, with the East Bay Green Drinkers: a lively monthly gathering for anyone interested in sustainability, including green business, environmental and social causes, architecture and design, organics, renewable energy and more.

Build It Green Presents:
Incentives and Rebates for Building Green
Wednesday, Oct 15. 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Costs $15
SF Dept of the Environment. 11 Grove St. near Civic Center Bart Station.
San Francisco recently enacted a set of green building requirements for private sector development – both residential and commercial, which are arguably the most comprehensive of any large city in the nation. Learn how the requirements will affect your projects, why San Francisco took this action, and what incentives will be available to help projects succeed–and exceed–the requirements. Special attention will be paid to historic buildings, energy and water efficiency, waste minimization, and new storm water management guidelines.

LEED for Schools Technical Review
Friday, Oct 17, 2008. 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.
Pacific Energy Center, 851 Howard Street
This all day seminar Presented by the USGBC is designed to provide a complete review of the LEED® for Schools Rating System™ and how to apply it on school projects including the tools and insights needed to incorporate green building practices into projects. Case studies of certified school projects illustrate successful strategies and practices for improving school design and performance.
USGBC Members $345. Non-members $445. Students $150
RSVP: http://www.greenbuild365.org/course

New York Cares: Volunteer Day in NYC
Saturday, Oct 18. 9:30am – 3:30pm.
On New York Cares Day, more than 8,000 volunteers will help paint a brighter future for thousands of New York City school children. Join us for a day of good, clean fun — painting murals and classrooms, adding bright new line games to playgrounds, organizing libraries, and planting flowers — to help create great learning environments at over 100 public schools throughout the five boroughs.

Here’s how to get involved!

Have a great week!

Green News You Can Use

October 10th, 2008 by
Pedestrian vs car disparity at Fishermans Wharf (Streetsblog)

Pedestrian vs car disparity at Fisherman's Wharf (Streetsblog)

  • Amtrak gets a $13 billion funding package approved by Senate, and assuming the House passes the bill, Amtrack should be able to get themselves back on their feet soon.
  • Solar panel installations are on the rise on Long Island
  • Venture capital firms may be responsible for the next wave of green energy technology, taking the place of government funding and r&d divisions of major companies.  But the bottom line is they won’t invest unless the economics work.
  • Jan Gehl discusses Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and the predominance of pedestrian traffic in that location.  The inequality between pedestrians and cars are very apparent when you realize they have the same amount of space, but there are 15 times the number of pedestrians as cars.
  • Wind power could provide a financial boon to the Soiux in South Dakota.
  • In other wind power news, Oregon might get a floating wind farm, which makes construction easier because it can be constructed on land and then towed to the appropriate location.
  • Ships over 65 feet operating the the waters home to the right whale, an endangered species, must reduce speeds to 10 knots, to avoid harming the whales with their propellers.
  • Fisherman and officials try and save the blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Species in Yosemite are moving higher in elevation to find cooler temperatures.

Green News You Can Use

October 3rd, 2008 by
California Academy of Sciences Green Roof via NPR.org

California Academy of Sciences Green Roof via NPR

  • Solar panels are turning into a burglary target.
  • The Long Island Power Authority and Con Ed are looking into the economic feasibility of installing a wind farm 10 miles off the south shore of Queens.  A large wind farm has been approved by regulators 15-20 miles off the shore of New Jersey.  Now it needs to get approval from state and federal officials.
  • A US-Canadian group involving many western US states has released their plans to curb emissions, and will likely involve a cap and trade system and the distribution of 90% of the allowances to industry, with only 10% being auctioned at the start of the program.  The Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative kicked off last week selling all of their 12.5 million allowances at an average price of $3.07/lb of C02 allowance, about 1/10 of the price allowances are trading for in Europe.
  • Congress is in a deadlock on incentives for renewable energy. Current incentives for investing in renewable energy are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress can come to a decision.
  • The bailout plan has some green provisions written in though: tax credits for bike commuting and tax credits for plug-in hybrid cars.
  • A new program may be able to work while your cell phone is turned on to calculate your carbon footprint by estimating your mode of transport via gps.
  • Ben & Jerry’s is testing Greenpeace’s Greenfreeze technology, a refrigerant technology that doesn’t use hydroflurocarbons as a refrigerant, as part of a pilot testing program to get the technology allowed in the US.
  • XEROX has been developing a new water treatment technology called “Spiral Water Filtration Technology” at its Palo Alto Research Center that treats water to close to drinkable levels on a very small footprint and much less capital and O&M costs.
  • LA is starting a pilot program to collect food scraps separately from trash, with the goal of diverting 600 tons of wasted food from the landfill every day.
  • A South African architecture firm has won the Curry Stone Design Prize for their design of a very cheap house using a timber frame and sandbags. This house is more energy efficient and safe than most of the houses used in the shantytowns around Cape Town, and is price competitive as well.
  • The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City has debuted new subway grate covers that also provide seating and a bike rack. These new grates are to address flooding in the subway that helped lead to the shutdowns in the subway service during some large storm events last year.
  • Rather than looking to tear down and rebuild the slum of Dharavi outside of Mumbai, maybe it should be examined as the model of other slums. (via Archinect)
  • Honda re-releases the hybrid Insight, which it expects to be competitive with the Toyota Prius, having similar gas mileage and a lower price.
  • A new technology may be able to paint steel with a layer of electrodes and photovoltaic paint, essentially having the ability to turn buildings like those Frank Gehry creates into large power plants.
  • An Italian company, Enel, is close to completion (it will all be online by the end of the year) on a 250 MW wind farm in Kansas, the largest of its kind in that state.
  • The California Academy of Sciences, heralded as the greenest museum, opened last weekend in San Francisco. Among other green design features, there is a 100% native planted green roof, solar panels, insulation made from recycled denim, and daylighting. It hopes to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.