Posts Tagged ‘co2_emissions’

Solar Compactors Hit City Parks

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

solar waste can

Even from our home perch here in San Francisco, we have to sometimes reach out for props to our So Cal brethren. In this case, some of us carpooled down to LA for the Thanksgiving weekend and even managed to avoid any real traffic jams.

Even more amazing, a couple of us spotted this solar compactor in Mar Vista park. This Big Belly in Mar Vista park represents only one of a growing trend where cities use these Solar-powered trash compactors to cut costs and emissions in 53 city parks. The solar compactors wirelessly monitor when they need to be emptied. They’re high-efficiency and low-maintenance which fits in with the mantra of so many cities (like LA).

We’re only surprised not to have spied these solar compactors in San Francisco. LA jumping ahead of San Francisco in the sustainability race? Hardly, but maybe LA will surprise the nation with a 405 full of fully electric cars soon.

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.

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi Creates Buzz at Churchill Club

Monday, July 19th, 2010
Shai Agassi and Mark Johnson

Shai Agassi and Mark Johnson

Sometimes when walking into a room you can just feel the buzz and in this case the buzz came from the talk of electric cars and batteries by Better Place CEO Shai Agassi. We actually heard about this guy sometime ago with his vision to make zero emission vehicles a worldwide standard. Seeing Agassi in person at the Churchill Club event on July 15, moderated by Mark Johnson of Innosight, offered insight into Agassi’s thinking and business model of his company and infrastructure that will allow the electric car to move from back of the bus status into a major transportation option.

Americans simply don’t want to give up their $20,000 pollution emitting cars due to convenience. Americans don’t consider the $40 of black gold that they fork out each week to fill their tanks. Add that amount up versus the price of a rechargeable electric battery and the car expense seems less prohibitive. In terms of car expense, Agassi mentions that when the electric car is priced like a 3-year old gas car, then we will hit a tipping point. The cost to recharge batteries is based on “cheap electricity” like charging a battery in the middle of the night, so the costs are less. Even before the BP disaster, the cost to extract oil keeps rising and costs 20 times more to get than any other energy source.

Agassi made an interesting technology analogy where in the past we used snail mail, then moved to faxes, then to email and similarly we went from gas cars to hybrids and now we won’t move back to gas cars but forward to more technology driven electric cars. Agassi claims that each year batteries have improved eight percent so eventually we wont need (battery) switch stations.

Of course, the US and the moribund US automakers will take a wait and see attitude. Renault has put forth 15 percent of its R&D budget to work on the electric cars. The last company chief who put 15% of the R &D to a non-existing product was Steve Jobs (Ipod, Ipad). Agassi whose switch stations now dot Israel and Denmark said that the electric car versus the end of using oil would be a huge factor that determines the survival of the US dollar and US economy. If we can get crawl out form the oil wells and at least offer the same oil type incentives (subsidies) to people like Agassi and the electric car industry, then America and other counties will definitely find themselves in a Better Place.

Whisky – Real Slow Food

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Before the recent Whisky Fest in San Francisco, a select group gathered for a whisky tasting of the Bowmore whisky which in itself should be deemed a special treat especially when sipping on the 25 year Bowmore single malt and the 44 year old (older than most us in the room) Bowmore Gold, which up until that moment had only been savored by a few ones in the U.S. Toss in the fact that we sampled this whiskey at the classic power lunch spot meets oh la la One Market and everything seemed to be going as smooth as the and Bowmore 12 and the Tombo Tuna (we hope wild caught).

But of course, being in San Fran, we struck up the whole Green thing as far as Bowmore and whisky production. The Bowmore crew being from Scotland aren’t exactly strangers when it comes to Green or sustainable practices. After all, we would have to say that whisky might be one of the ultimate slow foods. A few tastes later only spurred the spirited dialogue. The fact that Bowmore came in second in the Green Apple award a few years ago impressed us. We even liked the fact that they got downright innovative in the fact that they use the waste heat generated from the stills plant to not only dry the barley but heat the local public swimming pool as well. They also use the generated hot water to pre-heat the facility that works like a form of radiant heating.

Now we can’t over look the fact that the distillery runs on petroleum and they do emit healthy amounts of peat burning smoke into the air but each year they maintain stricter CO2 emissions than the government targets.

The mention of organics caused another stir. Not that organics represents the be all and end all of whisky ingredients but the topic opened up another barrel of whisky that we will post shortly. Where does the barrel wood originate? Are there GMOs in whisky?

We’re not going to mess with 200 plus years of tradition and think that whisky distilleries will change green overnight. Meanwhile, we got back to the task at hand. We need to savor the Bowmore Gold and the pear dumpling with brown butter caramel sauce.

Sea Change Screens at 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

While most people continue to look upward (into the air) as far as CO2 emissions, many people have overlooked looking down (into the oceans) but they won’t make that mistake after seeing the interesting, informative yet personal enviro-doc Sea Change. Unlike so many other “green” films and documentaries that hit people over the head with stats and charts not to mention fire and brimstone, director Barbara Ettinger (”Independent Lens” – Two Square Miles) takes a more personal approach (aided by having her on-screen husband Sven Huseby) to explore the causes behind the rapid rate of ocean acidification. And rapid it is.

As a former college professor and current grandfather, Sven serves as a genteel informant/host/interviewer willing to learn and listen rather than comment and direct. He offers the natural ability to teach and engage in conversation. Even non-greenies can admire his feelings and interest as a grandfather intested in educating himself and others about the dangerous status of the ocean life for the sake of his grandson.

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