Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

Solar Powered Laundromat

Monday, February 21st, 2011

solar laundromatWe’ve passed this tucked away laundromat in Duboce Triangle a few times and we’ve seen the soar panels up top (not sure how big a system it is) but we finally decided to give this place a post. Doing laundry remains one of those necessities in life and the best way to do it (with a low carbon footprint) remains the old fashioned way by hand and then line dry. That’s real solar!

However in this modern age and big city life, using eco-star washers and dryers and powering the dryers with solar (the carbon footprint is much higher for drying than washing) can be considered a good option. We’ve even seen one laundromat in Bernal Heights who installed a tankless hot water heater which not only cut the wasted hot water but boy did the laundromat owner’s energy bill drop.

Inside we spied four new eco star commercial washers.  Although the other washers and dryers were the standard (non eco-star) machines, we and most people would say use the machines that exists until they can’t be repaired. We don’t need more washers and dryers filling up the landfills. Either way, it would be a good idea if all laundromat owners took the initiative to make their business more sustainable (and more profitable to boot).

Nisson Leaf Electric Car Sits In Driveway

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
New Nisson Leaf

New Nisson Leaf

Stay calm. It’s not every day that we get the photo op of a new 100% electric Leaf in someone’s actual driveway. Yes, one of our neighbors who happen to be a knowledgeable electric car guy for Plug In America always seems to use his driveway for a showcase of the newest electric cars.

A few weeks ago he had a Volt sitting there. From time to time he’ll have electric bikes and motorcycles offering tourists and locals in the Lower Haight something sustainable to gawk at.

It’s great to see electric cars on the streets and driveways and out of the showrooms. Hopefully, we’ll see more charging stations out in the cities because without more charging stations people won’t cross over from their gas guzzler. We’re just hoping that some time soon we’ll see charging stations replace gas stations (e.g. A Better Place) and also that he’ll give us ride in his new wheels.

Solar Pump in Hayes Valley

Friday, January 14th, 2011

solar pump

There wasn’t much sun we we took shots of this SolarPump located in the corner of the at the Hayes Valley Farm.

The 1950’s gas station style pump sits right where the old freeway exit used to be and according to some historical maps, back in the 50’s, prior to the freeway being installed, a gas station existed at that same corner on Laguna and Fell.

For even more info about the SolarPump, check out Sol Design Lab.

6th Gorgeous & Green Gala: Green Meets Mad Men

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

model 6th green and grougeousEven before Gorgeous & Green co-chairs Nadine Weil and Zem Joaquin gave a shout out to the Green crowd to “enjoy yourselves and drink more organic cocktails” which many of green minions so obliged, we had a chance to leisurely sip some organic wine and meet interesting people behind the scenes.

Sure the front scenes of the hemp strolling, sauntering, strutting (how do eco models walk?) down the cat walk at the W Hotel in San Francisco for the 6th  Gorgeous & Green gala draw the most attention and why shouldn’t it? But behind the scenes, we met many people involved with Green causes who looked a whole lot less glamorous but still looked sexy green for what they believed in. Throughout the night, we encountered a Rode “Model” for the Environment, an EcoJew, and a Green Urbanism Program Director for Green Global among others.

At a energetic event like this, it is easy to lost in all of the models and cocktails but most of the people in the background, whether it is the volunteers or the VIPs have a passion for making the world a wee bit more Green and educating the masses about the right thing to do.

The night had this Mad Men theme with many women wearing second hard 60’s style dresses (reuse) and guys wearing skinny Don Draper style ties (reuse again) but the main message that we took away had to do more with Green urbanism rather than Madison Avenue chauvinism.

Rolling To The 6th Annual Gorgeous & Green Gala

Monday, December 13th, 2010

model-shotBetter than most holidays parties would be the Gorgeous & Green gala tonight at the W in San Francisco. Sure anyone can throw a holiday party but do they do it with a Green philosophy and fund-raising at the forefront? Holiday parties generally aim for drinking and merriment but do they also aim for zero waste? How many holiday events have models prancing around in eco-friendly fashion?

So, maybe tonight we too can be gorgeous but even we have our fashion limits. Even though the eco friendly fashion takes center stage (or rather center catwalk) much of the festivities revolve around like-minded people gathering for festivities.

The event generally brings a generous mixture of green-minded designers, celebrities, artists, politicians and the like. We hear that William McDonough will be in attendance, which would be entertaining and enlightening just to talk with him for a few minutes.

Even when not doing the green mingling thing or admiring chic models, we plan to distract ourselves with the 360 Vodka eco-cocktails (it is party right?), cocktail wines by eco.love, Korbel California Champagne with organic grapes (see a pattern here?) as well as organic wall displays and DJ Donavan beats.

Green fashionistas were not but we still have to get ready to roll.

Green Festival 2010 – San Francisco

Monday, November 8th, 2010

healthy home furnitureAlthough many great speakers informed, educated and inspired the well attended Green Festival in SF, a couple of us circulated among the vendor booths to check out the newest and greatest and not so greatest products.

Although not having a full opportunity to do our due diligence we did pepper some of the vendors with various questions about their products.

The Solar Lite caught our attention with the their hanging displays of flashlights (and the solar lantern). The light puts out a nifty 40 lumens which would come in handy for camping trips and the fact that it can hold a charge for three years makes it earthquake preparedness friendly. It would be great if the flashlight itself were made of something greener than plastic but the fact that it saves people from chucking batteries into the landfill makes it shine.

We only mention Bright Earth foods because the owner (more like a an alchemist) acted to passionately about his sustainability produced Noni and other superfoods that we have to give out props. After doing the Noni shot we did feel happier knowing that all Noni drinks are not created equal.

At the far end of the exhibits, we ran into (almost literally) the Green Bike Effect bikes. These folding and electric bikes recently came on the market from Alameda. One of us jumped on the bike which offered a quick giddyap and can reach speeds of near 20 mph. Unlike mopeds, these don’t cause CO2 emissions and cause less noise pollution as well. Although we would prefer if the bike itself weren’t made in China or if some of the bike components or even the saddle came from repurposed material, it still may encourage people to do the electric commute.

We definitely aren’t interior designers but we couldn’t help but stop and sit in the Exotic Green Furniture, which we talked with owner James Michaels. To be sure, he gets excited about his formaldehyde free furniture and the fact that much of the furniture utilizes other materials so it fits in with some of the cradle-to-cradle mentality. Some of his tables come from dormant coconut trees, which is a story in itself, and we will hit on that topic in a future post.

On Coal River Screens At SF Docfest 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010

coal riverOne of the great aspects of the upcoming 9th San Francisco Documentary  Festival is not only the number of environmental based docu films but the fact that the eclectic selection comes from other regions that might not be on the general green radar. On Coal River would be one of those deeply environmental films that register emotionally strong notes by way of West Virginia.

A few of us viewed On Coal River which that takes place in the bucolic mountain area of Coal River Valley which immediately brings us into a David and Goliath struggle with the town residents confronting the notorious Massey Energy (the same Massey Energy that had the coal mining disaster on April 5, 2010).

Directors Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood take a back roads approach for the footage and back-story. The films smartly keys on some of the more active residents and colorful residents who have either been coal miners or know coal miners. The film makers go out of there way to show how coal mining (or rather mountaintop removal) continues to be a vital aspect to the economy (although they point out that the percentage of miners sits significantly lower that in past years) but many people believe that this business has also become a toxic and environmental liability for local residents.

The film focuses on several local community members who like to call themselves hillbillies but also educated hillbillies. In the forefront stands former miner Ed Wiley an activist/environmentalist who fights the good fight to get people to recognize that their local elementary school where their children attend should be recognized as an environmental hazard. The filmmakers capture the passionate and emotional Wiley spearheading protest efforts, leading educational meetings as well as him walking from West Virginia to Washington DC to raise awareness and get his point across.

On Coal River does a great service by not creating an overly polished film, and by sticking to capturing real emotion. The rough footage works well to demonstrate that people will fight for an environmental cause in states other than west coast states. It offers some insight into what the other people who support Massey (mostly people concerned with the local economic concerns if they fight Massey) but the film doesn’t get any official response from the energy giant. Did Massey officials decline to be interviewed for this film? Although the focus on the school offers a solid storyline and a hot topic, the film might have added some additional conclusion and information about the polluted water supply and toxic health conditions. What good is it to have a new school when the water supply and air remain poisoned for the whole town?

Despite some loose threads, it is great to see an emotionally charged environmental film where David wears a hillbilly hat.

ON COAL RIVER
Francine Cavanaugh, 81 min, USA
Fri 10/22 9:30p; Mon 10/25 7:15p

William McDonough at West Coast Green 10 – Deep Dive Part 2

Monday, October 4th, 2010

mcdonough wcg10Being so busy at West Coast Green 10 and in honor of ecoMonday we post part two of the William McDonough “deep dive”, and he does get deep. While most people throw around the term “carbon footprint” or simply use it in passing, McDonough talked about a skyscraper that he worked on 21 years ago, and calculated the amount of trees that would be need to be planted not only to offset the building of the skyscraper but to operate it as well. He convinced the person financing the building that the cost of the trees could be used in place of the marketing budget. Who needs a marketing budget when the story of the tree planting ends up as a front-page story on the Wall Street Journal? Green does pay.

Speaking of trees, we fully agree that people need to start thinking about the “rights of nature” and not just human right. We need think more in terms of abundance, not scarcity.

He mentioned things like the Endangered Species Act, which seems to be thinking in the wrong direction, with the reactive thinking. We need to start thinking proactively.

Our government and other governments and entities continually throw about numbers and plans to deal with our environmental impact. Think about the lofty goals for the UN, US government whatever about reducing carbon emissions by 20% (or whatever number) by 2020 that don’t illustrate “less bad” thinking. As McDonough states, “being less bad is not good”. And that is what our country continues to do or promote. We warn people in CA entering buildings (thanks to Prop 65) that the building contains various materials that cause cancer yet they remain legal and we continue to use them to construct buildings. Isn’t there something illogical about that thinking?

Seeing McDonough makes us (and the rest of the crowd) more motivated. We’re not here to be less bad, we’re here to be more good.”

Here’s a call to action to start being more good.

Spirited Solar Talk and Tour at West Coast Green 10

Friday, October 1st, 2010
Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

On the first day of West Coast Green 10, only a handful of bloggers (like Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous) showed up for an informal solar talk presented by SunPower and Luminalt but as they say, we respect the quality more than the quantity. We quality people brought about a spirited talk mentioning the progress of solar and how solar fits just a small green option in the big picture. We raised the question of considering that if someone who has only $50,000 in their pocket would they be better off installing a PV system or maybe a water catchment system, hydronics, some new eco-star appliances.

To be fair, Luminalt made a good case for just making a sales pitch. They work with GoSolarSF, which combines environmental justice and social justice for lower income neighborhoods like the Bayview here in SF. They made a point, which we have seen before, that be having a solar system that reduces their PG & E bill to sometimes nothing can transform the life of someone.

Now part of the discussion ended up being a show and tell of one of the local installation. Of course we would have preferred to see one of the homes in the Bayview but we settled for a posh house in Presidio Terrace. Honestly, the people who opened their house to us do live a mansion and the PG & E bill to them will hardly make a difference but they continue to make a conscious green effort. Besides the 3 7.5 KW solar system they repurposed much of their old furnishings to Building Resources (instead of the dump), they installed eco star appliances, used low VOC paint and drive hybrids. The couple mentioned that they will be purchasing fully electric cars soon.

Although not militantly green they do make an effort. We hope soon that we can say the same for everyone else.

Tour de Fat – Beer and Bikes in San Francisco

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Tour de Fat San Francisco 2010

Wanted to post for Eco Monday but had too much beer and biking over the recent weekend for us to stick to our schedule. Fortunately, the Tour de Fat stuck to its (or is it their) schedule.

In all honesty, a few of us made but we completely missed the festive ride but we did make it in time to celebrate the beer and bike happenings in Golden Gate Park. Let it be known that happiness reined not just because Mother Nature cooperated with a balmy 85 degrees and the cold New Belgium beer poured freely but because the stages where Mucca Pazza (like the Stanford marching band on acid or steroids) and other performed came via solar energy. The festival pretty much marks on off the grid show which makes the merriment even more merry.

On this day, bikes ruled. It might have seemed odd for some to see a young lady go up on stage an sign way the pink slip to her Toyota Corolla for for a spanking new bike courtesy of New Belgium. Some may think that isn’t a fair trade when the lady mentioned how she only drove her car in order to avoid parking tickets, we think that she may have gotten the better end of the deal.

If more festivals had this smarts to play off the grid and promoting sustainable transportation then we would all be happy to purchase just one more beer.

Photo courtesy SFbike