North Carolina church goes green and holds to their traditions of cherishing the Earth. How’d they do it?
Browsing the "Green News" Tag
<img src="/files/111/nh3truck02.jpg" alt="" width="270" height="203" align="right" />Right now, a uniquely modified pickup truck is making its way across the country. Starting from Detroit and heading to San Francisco, the vehicles developers are seeking to draw attention to an overlooked fuel alternative. The truck uses a special fuel, something widely available throughout the country, but until now, not widely considered as a fuel for transportation: the truck is carrying three tanks of ammonia in its bed. In addition to being an economical alternative to petroleum fuels, the ammonia fueled vehicle has much cleaner emissions and almost no greenhouse gasses.
The <a href="http://nh3car.com/index.htm">NH3car </a>(NH3 is the chemical formula for ammonia) is a demonstration project of a University of Michigan graduate student in physics who is studying the use of ammonia as an alternative fuel. The test vehicle can be run either on 100% gasoline or on an 80% ammonia/20% gasoline mixture, and can be switched from one to the other at any time. According to a news story, the test vehicle gets 27 miles per gallon whether it is running on gasoline or the gas/ammonia mix. When gasoline is higher that $2.10/gallon, it becomes more economical to use the fuel mix.
More importantly, however, the vehicle produces much cleaner emissions than a fossil fuel burning vehicle. Moving to an ammonia fuel system would drastically cut transportation CO2 emissions. Because there is no carbon in ammonia (molecularly, ammonia is one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms), there is no carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide in the emissions from the ammonia combustion. According to the vehicle team, the only by-products are water vapor and nitrogen gas.</p>
An article on the ABC News website with the provocative title "Going Green: Fad or the Future?" suggests that while right now "green is the new black," the long term-prospects for the green movement are less certain to remain as strong and as much a part of public awareness as they currently are.
But are Americans experiencing "green fatigue"? The ratings for Live Earth, which was billed as a must-see event, were dismal. The American broadcast drew just 2.7 million viewers, making it the least-watched U.S. program on Saturday night. Despite its undeniable entrenchment in pop culture and media, some experts say that the current incarnation of the green movement is just another "We Are the World" moment that consumers and businesses won’t be able to sustain over the long term.
Of course, this perspective is coming from a media outlet (ABC News) for whom the number of viewers are the most significant measure of importance. But that may not be a reliable indicator of how influential the green movement is. There is a wide gulf between public enthusiasm for a green-oriented rally like Live Earth, and public participation in actual green practice in their daily lives. Small steps, in many cases, but a lot of people have started taking at least a few steps to green their lives.
My perspective lies with the building and construction industry. I see increasing numbers of ads and new product announcements from hundreds of manufacturers. I can’t begin to count the number of trade magazine editorials I’ve seen that begin along the lines of this one: "These days, it seems everyone is jumping on the "green" bandwagon — including many companies in [your industry here]." Green awareness has permeated the building industry from top to bottom. And, while not every new building is a new model of sustainability, green building practice is here to stay.
Michigan Wind Power Map: Image Source: State of MichiganA proposed 21st Century Renewable Energy Plan was introduced last week for the state of Michigan. This is something that the state badly needs. Other states have been pushing forward programs to develop their energy efficiency and renewability, such as the Million Solar Roofs in California, or the western states' "Transitioning the West to Clean Energy and Energy Security." As I mentioned earlier, Michigan, with it's present building code, has one of the worst energy standards in the country. One aspect of this new legislative proposal is to "promote energy conservation through updated construction codes and consumer tax credits for energy-efficient appliances."
The key elements of the plan:
Earlier this week, an article in the local paper noted that a local school had been recognized as one of 18 "Green School certified" schools in the state of Michigan. I wasn't familiar with the program (in part because this is the first year of the program), but I quickly found that rather than a building program, it is instead an educational program for the students.
The Green School program requires a degree of involvement from the school's students in a variety of green projects in order to obtain the certification. A school is eligible for this certification if it completes at least 10 criteria from a list of programs including such obvious green steps as recycling paper, reusing magazines from the library, and holding an Earth Day event. But the list also includes more ambitious projects such as establishing a natural Michigan garden project with native plants, holding solar power presentations or experiments, such as a solar cookout, doing energy audits of their classrooms, and even making improvements to their classrooms as a result of the energy audits.
Participating in a printer cartridge recycling program or a cellular telephone recycling program (both of which can also help the school to earn money) are also suggestions on the list.
As part of the activity around Earth Day, we've been getting press releases forwarded to us from all manner of companies who want to get their name out in association with "green." And, while it is good that so many companies are recognizing the growing importance of green in all our lives, some of the announcements are full of excitement about what turns out to be some pretty weak activity.
I got one press release about a globally recognized brand, Fortune 500 company announcing that they are spending $3 million on green upgrades for their headquarters building. And that's not a bad thing; we love it when companies take green steps. But is it truly newsworthy, or is it closer to "greenwashing"?
Cleveland, Ohio doesn't get a lot of respect. It's been the butt of countless jokes, an environmental scapegoat, the "City whose river caught on fire," and a symbol for the declining cities of the "Rust Belt" of the American midwest.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't a green heart in the Cleveland area. Even a city in the middle of the rust belt can be a center for "Think Globally – Act Locally." In fact, I've recently found that the Cleveland area has a vibrant local/regional blog at Green City Blue Lake, covering the local and regional scene from a green perspective. GCBL arose out of an earlier site called EcoCity Cleveland, which remains online as an archive with a wealth of information still available in its pages, but is no longer actively supported.
ExxonMobil announced today that they will be pursuing LEED certification for a number of their offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The LEED program already recognizes the importance of having buildings that produce their own energy. Photovoltaic panels are a big hit on those gold and platinum buildings, and at ExxonMobil we're all about the gold and platinum," said company representative Paul Myfinger. "Look at how much energy our rigs produce compared to what they use, it's obvious that they're super efficient!"