10 Green Festival Ideas for Earth Day 2012

April12, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

earth day 2012

It’s almost Earth Day! This Sunday, April 22, cities around the country–from Santa Barbara to Alexandra, Austin to Indianapolis–will celebrate the world’s favorite green-focused holiday with various festivals and events that promote eco-friendly living and sustainable choices.

Here are 10 green festival ideas coming up for Earth Day 2012!

Location: Alameda Park, Santa Barbara, California
Dates: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22
Highlights: Eco-Marketplace, Green car show, kid’s corner, great food & drink
More info: SBEarthDay.org

Location: Durham Central Park, Durham, North Carolina
Dates: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Green activities and demos, Sustainability Expo and Market, music, food and more
More info: DurhamNC.gov

Location: Forest Park, Muny Grounds
Dates: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Festival, symposium, recycling extravaganza, greening workshop
More info: StLouisEarthDay.org

Location: Various locations throughout California’s Central Coast
Dates: Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Dishes made with locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, olive oils, and more. Live music, a silent auction, unlimited samples of local cuisine and mingling with farmers who grow great food and wine while nurturing a healthy environment.
More info: EarthDayFoodandWine.com

Location: White River State Park, downtown Indianapolis, Indiana
Dates: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 28
Highlights: 140+ environmental and conservation exhibits, great music, children’s activities
More info: EarthDayIndiana.org

Location: Historic Browning Hangar at Mueller, 4550 Mueller Blvd, Austin, Texas
Dates: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 22
Highlights: Green-focused workshops and sessions, interactive drumming, petting zoo
More info: EarthDayAustin.com

Location: Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria, Virginia (4800 Brenman Park Dr)
Dates: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Exhibitors covering various green topics, tree sale, fashion show of clothes made from recycled materials
More info: http://alexearthday.org

Location: Reid Park off of Country Club Road, Tucson, Arizona
Dates: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 21
Highlights: Parade, exhibits, hands-on activities for kids, music, dancing, food
More info: TusconEarthDay.org

Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Highlights: Big-name music, booths, interactive exhibits
More info: EarthDay.org/mall

Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Dates: Sunday and Monday, April 22-23
Highlights: Student Farmer Aid concert, sustainability fair, movie showing of “The Last Mountain”, self-guided tours of library’s courtyard garden, kite festival
More info: UMass.edu

(Image source: EarthDay2012.com

Countywide California Solar Program Incentives Will Be Greater Than State

April11, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News, Solar Living

Sullivan Solar Power, the California-based company that’s already installed $8 million watts of solar power systems throughout the southern part of the state, recently announced a new initiative: the San Diego Solar Program. Centered in the city recently named #1 in the state for solar rooftops, the countywide program will make it possible for eligible residents to install solar panels at no upfront cost, plus give them a significant cash incentive—one that’s even greater than incentives currently offered by the state.

“San Diego’s Solar Program is designed in a manner that financially encourages the entire community to go solar,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “The goal is to shift San Diego’s dependence from nuclear power and imported fossil fuels to renewable resources and show the rest of the nation that it can be done.”

Modeled after the state’s program, the San Diego Solar Program will give the greatest incentives to the most early adopters: those who get in on the first phase will get $2,500, but that amount will reduce as more and more sign-ups come in, up until the closing time of 5 p.m. on December 31, 2012. A total of 500 residences can benefit from the solar program.

“With the financing options that we have available today, homeowners can go solar for $0 out-of-pocket, save money every month and then with the San Diego Solar Program, we are going to send them a check,” Sullivan said. “We are paying people to go solar with this program. How is that for an economic stimulus plan?”

San Diego homeowners can learn more about the program at a luncheon scheduled for Saturday, May 12, at 11 a.m. at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park (1439 El Prado). There is also additional info available at SanDiegoSolarProgram.org or by calling 1-800-SULLIVAN.

Sprint’s Eco-Friendly LG Viper Phone

April10, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

Just in time for Earth Day, preordering on Sprint’s eco-friendly LG Viper phone begins this Thursday, April 12. First announced at Consumer Electronic Show 2012, the LG Viper will cost $99 with a two-year contract and a $50 rebate—and what’s more, to the delight of environmentally conscious individuals, the Viper will be the first 4G LTE device with eco-friendly features offered by Sprint.

“LG Viper pairs perfectly with our unlimited data plans to bring customers the benefit of new technology, including our upcoming 4G LTE capabilities at a great price,” said David Owens, vice president of product development at Sprint, in a press release earlier this month. “This smartphone is packed with the tools our customers need to stay connected. Best of all, customers can feel good about owning LG Viper because of its robust list of eco-friendly features.”

Among its eco-friendly features, the Spring LG Viper will boast semi-recycled casing, an energy-efficient charger and almost entirely recycled packaging. It is ULE Platinum Certified, which is the highest environmental performance ranking recognized by sustainable requirements of UL Environment and Sprint. It is also RoHS compliant, which means it’s free from hazardous materials like PVC, phthalates, halogens or mercury.

Equipped with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform, a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, mobile hotspot capabilities and a 4GB card microSD slot that can support up to 32GB, the Sprint smartphone will even include a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash, as well as a VGA front-facing camera.

According to Sprint, LG Viper customers will be able to enjoy unlimited data through Spring Everything plans with data, which include Web, texting and calling throughout the United States, starting at $79.99 a month.

For more information on the LG Viper 4G LTE, visit www.sprint.com/4GLTE.

(Image credit: Sprint.com)

Eugene, Oregon on Track to Double Solar Installations This Year

March27, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solarize eugene

In Eugene, Oregon, solar installations have been on the rise for several years–54 systems installed in 2011, up from 29 the year before and only 3 four years before that. But in 2012, it seems this northwestern city is on track to boost even higher, at least if The Resource Innovation Group (TRIG) has its way. By making it easier for consumers to take the plunge into photovoltaic power, the nonprofit’s volunteer-driven, community project Solarize Eugene hopes to see the city double solar installations this year.

“The program is modeled after similar successful projects that have enabled other Oregon communities to increase their solar installations by 200% to 500%, despite the recession,” says TRIG. “[Our] staff will work directly with volunteers to make this solar volume-purchasing project a success.”

As part of their commitment to boosting participation in Eugene, Solarize Eugene will give an $0.10/watt discount to customers who sign up before May 1, and what’s more, the city of Eugene has offered a $100 discount in permit fees to the first 25 who sign up.

“If you have the (right) roof and you have — or can get — the financing, this is a crazy good deal, a one-year payback and free power for 25 years or more,” Sarah Mazze, program manager at The Resource Innovation Group, said. “Once the word gets out about that, the systems should be flying out of the warehouse.”

Thirty homeowners have already signed up for solar installations as part of The Solarize Eugene campaign, which ends June 15. The systems are under warranty for 20 years but may be able to last up to 50.

For more information about this initiative, visit SolarizeEugene.info.

(Image source: Solarize Eugene)

Ecobuild: The future of sustainable development?

March22, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News, Solar Living

ecobuildEcobuild, known throughout the world as the biggest event focusing on sustainable development, design and construction, continues to expand. Not only did it recently hold a successful 2012 event, Tuesday through Thursday, March 20 to 22, in London, but it also has plans to be in India next spring. The launch of Ecobuild India is set to take place Tuesday through Thursday, April 16 to 18, 2013, at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai.

“The launch event will distil the key components of Ecobuild in the UK to deliver a showcase of the most impressive sustainable construction projects from across India and the world, the latest and most innovative products, and a conference programme that will tackle the most pressing concerns and the biggest challenges facing the region,” said James Blue, Ecobuild’s Portfolio Director, in a recent press release.

Each annual Ecobuild brings a wide range of sustainable professionals, including architects, designers, developers, product manufacturers and other stakeholders, who meet together to debate and connect on issues of the environment.

Planning to hold next year’s event in India reflects the growth in construction investment the country has experienced–with current strong demand for residential, commercial and industrial construction work. What’s more, India’s government has made it a top priority to boost the nation’s infrastructure, already investing $500 billion and planning to put a further $1 trillion in future work. Green building is on the rise there, too–making up $15 billion of total construction and expected to be $39 billion by 2015.

Sanjeev Khaira, Managing Director of UBM India, details: “Sustainably developing an infrastructure to support [our] vast, youthful and vibrant population is high on the agenda in India right now. We see this as the ideal time to work with our UK colleagues to launch an Indian edition of the world’s largest exhibition dedicated to the future of sustainable building design, construction and the built environment.”

To learn more about Ecobuild, visit Ecobuild.co.uk.

DC Considers New Energy Bill to Harness Community Energy Sources

March19, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solar panels

The nation’s capital city, Washington, D.C., is considering legislation that would make solar power more attainable for its citizens–allowing even those residents and businesses in less sunny areas of the city to harness energy from the sun to power their buildings.

According to Steve Seuser, a member of the solar advocacy group D.C. SUN, “The problem is if people can’t do solar on their own roofs, there’s no way to connect a solar system they would have somewhere else on their Pepco bill. That’s what this bill would do.”

If enacted, the Community Energy Renewables Act of 2012 would make it possible for two or more individuals to draw solar energy from the same source, located somewhere within in the city–say from the sunnier building across the street, for example. Dubbed community solar, this project is designed to make access to solar power more equitable, allowing anyone within the city to benefit from greener, more cost-effective power sources.

Similar bills have been proposed in other areas of the country such as Maryland and Virginia, and there are community-based campaigns currently at work in several parts of Oregon:

“These campaigns, where neighbors buy or lease discounted solar energy systems in bulk as part of a limited-time offer, are lighting up the state from Portland to Pendleton,” writes Carrie Sturrock at The Oregonian. “Beaverton just put solar on more than 250 homes. West Linn and Lake Oswego will soon launch a joint campaign. Gresham is gearing up for one, as is Eugene. Northeast Portland is in the midst of its second.”

In D.C., Pastor Peter Spann of Promised Land Baptist Church considers community solar good news for his church. Part of an older building, Promised Land’s roof is oriented east/west, preventing it from grabbing the more predominant south-facing rays. But with the new legislation, it may be possible for the church to harness the energy from the sun and go solar.

New Venture Fund Seeks Sustainable Startups

March15, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

SJFIn exciting news for eco-minded startups throughout the country, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the licensing of SJF Ventures III LP, the first nationally focused impact investment fund.

The fund “is yet another important new ally in SBA’s commitment to foster small business growth and job creation in emerging sectors,” said Administrator Karen Mills. “They’re an experienced team that is well-positioned to drive more investment in high growth, positive impact companies. We will continue to grow this and other public-private partnerships by licensing more funds and putting more capital in the hands of small business owners to grow and create good jobs.”

SJF’s four areas of eco focus will allow the fund to support and encourage growth in various green initiatives, such as efficiency and infrastructure; reuse and recycling; sustainable agriculture and food safety; and technology enhanced services. It will build upon the success of the first two SJF ventures, which involved 34 portfolio companies.

Already, returning limited partners in SJF’s fund include Citi and Deutsche Bank, Calvert Equity Portfolio, Armonia, Abacus Sustainable Fund and Trillium Asset Management LLC. There are also several new investors such as wealth management firm Caprock Group, family office OpenBox and wealth advisory pool ImpactAssets.

“The license from SBA makes it very easy for us to undertake this kind of investment,” said Andrew Ditton, managing director and co-head of Citi Community Capital. Because SBA has licensed the fund, it allows investors to bypass complicated documentation requirements that would be “very cumbersome,” Ditton said.

SJF Ventures III LP is committing up to $75 million of investment capital over the next five years.

Chevy’s New Malibu Eco 2013 On Sale Now!

March14, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

chevy malibu ecoThe premium Malibu Eco, the first of the Chevrolet’s brand-new line of Malibu mid-size sedan models, is now available for purchase at Chevy dealerships nationwide. With a pricetag of $25,995, including $760 delivery charges, this vehicle offers fuel savings in addition to a reasonable upfront cost in the realm of hybrids.

“The Chevrolet Malibu ECO is a smart choice for customers who want excellent fuel economy without the price premium of popular hybrid sedans,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. “The Malibu ECO’s 38-mpg highway estimate is comparable with those hybrids.”

Unique to the American market, this five-passenger vehicle boasts a wide range of eco-friendly features that maximize its efficiency and fuel optimization. Its 2.4L Ecotec direct injection variable Valve Timing four-cylinder engine will allow the car to “offer up to 38 MPG on the highway–that’s better than Toyota Camry Hybrid,” according to chevrolet.com. The Malibu Eco also features the first-ever eAssist technology for a Chevrolet, a state-of-the-art system that uses battery power with a generator to boost driving power and fuel efficiency.

Other features include a sporty appearance with a powerdome hood and an integrated rear spoiler; outside rearview mirrors made for maximum efficiency; Chevy’s dual-port grille; standard 17-inch alloy wheels; and low-rolling-resistance Goodyear tires.

“The Malibu Eco is a smart choice for customers who want a great looking car inside and out with excellent fuel economy, but without the higher price of some hybrid sedans,” said Russ Clark, director of Chevrolet marketing. “In short, it’s an incredible value.”

To learn more about the Malibu Eco 2013, see Chevrolet’s recent press release, published March 8.

4 Tips for Sustainable Tourism

March7, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

(Image source: <a href="http://www.justpictureitnow.com/2011/02/16/time-for-green-travel/">JustPictureItNow.com</a>)

If you’re like many Americans, the spring and summer months bring more than warmer temperatures and longer daylight—these seasons mean new opportunities for leisure travel, from Spring Break to summer vacation. And whether your travel plans have you hitting the beach or heading out west, our eco-friendly travel tips will help you make the most of your journey, both for yourself and for the planet!

Pack Light. The less you pack, the less you have to carry, which is not only good for the sake of convenience, it’s good for your peace of mind. A lighter load means a lighter burden on your car or airplane, meaning less fuel consumed. Plus, as an added bonus, it means a lighter financial load, too, as you eliminate those checked luggage fees.

Take Public Transportation. If your travels will take you to a major city, consider cutting the gas and parking costs of driving your own vehicle, and use public transportation instead. According to the Federal Transit Administration, this is one of the most beneficial steps a person can take to helping the environment. A recent FTA study shows that “If just one driver per household switched to taking public transportation for [20 miles a day of travel], this would save 4,627 pounds of carbon dioxide per household per year—equivalent to an 8.1% reduction in the annual carbon footprint of a typical American household.”

Go Green with Your Lodgings. There are many ways to make eco-friendly choices in your accommodations, whether that means staying with a friend or looking for a green hotel. Among amenities, green hotels can “can use amenities like low-flow showerheads, give you the option to not wash your towel every day, offer eco-friendly shampoos and soaps, and clean it with green cleaners every day,” says Collin Dunn at Planet Green. “They can serve local and organic food in the restaurant downstairs, use furniture that doesn’t contain PBDEs and other icky chemicals, and put motion sensors on the lights so the lights don’t get left on all day when they don’t have to be.

Keep Up Green Habits. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean the same eco-friendly habits you practice at home no longer apply. Turn off lights when you leave the place where you’re staying, avoid water waste, reuse your towels and look for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, both at home and away.

Sustainable Pesticides on the Rise

March5, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

pest control

As most of us know, spring brings more than fresh flowers and longer daylight—with the warmer days and green buds, it’s also bugs that seem to come out of the woodwork, multiplying fast, whether in the garden or on your kitchen counter. And for growing numbers of homeowners throughout the country, the way they choose to deal with these pests is with sustainable options.

“We’ve definitely seen homeowners in the last five years looking into lower-toxicity products and pesticides,” said Jeff Belmont, owner of Envirotreat Pest Control in Rockville, Md.

Focusing on making their pest-control efforts more efficient while also environmentally friendly, professionals like Belmont are learning more to think about the big picture of extermination efforts. And by looking at a whole structure, holistically, they find the best ways to prevent and control pests–ways that minimize toxins and environmental impact.

“People need to understand the ecological web,” said Ed Hulme, county parks and open space superintendent of Marin, California. “It’s all linked,” he added, as toxins can cause serious health problems and impacts, and what’s more–green alternatives are available.

Whether or not you have eco-friendly exterminators available in your area, there are simple steps you yourself can take in the right direction. Here are a few ideas:

Pests love messes, so don’t play into their metaphorical hands with an environment where they’ll be so comfortable. Keep things clean, whether it’s your vegetable garden (keep it free of garden and debris!) or your home (stay on top of all food remains or crumbs).

There are plenty of sustainable bug-preventing products on the market, so there’s no reason to use conventional items. Take your pick when finding sprays or cleansers to use.

All containers, doors and windows need to be tightly sealed and screened to prevent rodents and insects from being able to enter.

To prevent not only termites but also mildew, make sure there’s proper ventilation in decks, porches and crawl spaces.

Whatever tips you employ and whatever pest control methods you seek, remember that the best pest control is the safest pest control—and with green, eco-friendly strategies, you’ll be able to protect both your home and the planet.

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