Monday, March 26, 2007

This is really going green !

Going green is a hot topic these days but this gives a whole new meaning to the topic and may be a bit "over the top". The complete article from the Connecticut news report has been included here...

The Middletown Press
March 26, 2007
Jeff Mill, Press Staff

Green top suggested for Lowe's building

CROWMELL - An environmental analysis of the proposed Lowe's store has suggested the store have a "green" roof - have grass, plants, and/or flowers growing on the roof.

Lowe's is preparing to resubmit its application to build a 152,000 square-foot store on the north side of Route 372. The North Carolina-based home improvement company is scheduled to go before the Inland Wetlands Commission Wednesday as it renews its request for approval.

A similar proposal last year fell just short of approval.
As part of the preparation for the submission to Inland Wetlands, a copy of the Lowe's proposal was submitted to the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District for review and comment.

The district responded with a four-page analysis of the proposal, and included a series of recommendations intended to reduce the amount of storm water runoff that is discharged into surrounding water courses.

Included in the analysis, near the top of page 3, is a suggestion that "serious consideration should be given for a vegetated roof...for at least a portion of the building."

The analysis notes the roof of the proposed building is equal to 3.3 acres.
"Vegetation on a roof captures a significant amount (of) rainfall, thereby reducing runoff."

A "green roof" can mean just that a roof painted green. Or, it can mean what is in essence a lawn or a garden growing on the roof.

There is even a Web site - - that explains the concept.

There are two types of green roofs: intensive or extensive, the Web sites explains.
There are also potential real economic values to such a concept: covering a roof with grass or a mix of flowers and grass can serve as natural insulation. It can prevent the breaking down of a standard roof membrane through prolonged exposure to the sunlight and serve as an acoustic barrier to dampen noise.

There are also psychological and aesthetic considerations mentioned which can be achieved through the use of a green roof. But perhaps the greatest benefit comes in tempering the rainfall runoff, the web site suggests.

While the most exotic, the green roof proposal is by no means the only suggestion from the council about how Lowe's - and the town - can minimize the impact of storm water runoff.

The review suggests reducing the number of required parking space and constructing a portion an outdoor display area of a "pervious material" rather than asphalt.

The report proposes that the runoff from the parking lot "will be collected in catch basins or a vegetated swale," while roof runoff will be directed into an underground system that will overflow into Cole Brook."

The council said its recommendations are "intended to help minimize potential adverse impacts such as sedimentation due to uncontrolled soil erosion, the degradation of downstream receiving areas by non-point pollution courses such as road deicers, fertilizers, pesticides and heat/thermal changes," as well as "the loss of stability or function of wetland systems."

The report is intended as an advisory document to assist the town's land-use commissions in their analysis of the plan.

Flourescent bulbs may become the new standard by law

A report in the March 26 N&O pushes the idea of replacing old style incandescent bulbs with new efficient fluorescent ones and discusses a new House bill North Carolina is considering that would eliminate the sale of old style bulbs by year 2016. The article also states "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the fluorescent bulbs use two-thirds the energy of incandescents and last up to 10 times longer."

Read the entire article for more news...
News and Observer
March 26, 2007
Ryan Teague Beckwith, Dan Kane, Jane Ruffin and J. Andrew Curliss, Staff Writers

Lawmakers put energy into limits on light bulbs

When Rep. Pricey Harrison saw Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," a light bulb went on over her head.

It wasn't an incandescent bulb, but a fluorescent.

At the end of the movie, a list of tips on cutting carbon emissions includes switching to the new compact energy-efficient bulbs at home.

Harrison, a Greensboro Democrat, did that. Now she wants to go one step further, and eliminate incandescent bulbs around the state within a decade. Read more...

Replace incandescent bulbs for energy savings

Ever realize that all those incandescent bulbs in your living space give off light at the expense of also giving off a lot of heat? You can save on your energy bill by simply replacing the old bulbs with modern fluorescent bulbs and get more light with considerable energy savings at the same time and the new bulbs even produce the same "color" of light. For example, a new spiral fluorescent bulb gives off the light of a 75 watt bulb and only consumes 19 watts of energy. The new bulb also outlasts 13 incandescent bulbs. Reducing the heat output also reduces the energy air conditioning units must remove from the air during cooling season.

In case you don't like the white light of typical fluorescent bulbs the new spiral bulbs also produce "warm" light that has the look of light from incandescent bulbs. Or you can opt for the white light if you prefer that.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sequestration of carbon cioxide not affordable for NC power generation

Recent discussions of using "sequestration" to pipe carbon dioxide from coal fueled power plants will not be financially affordable for North Carolina plants. Sequestration is a process of capturing carbon dioxide when it is emitted during the coal burning process and piping it far underground for long term storage under the earth's crust.

"It could cost $4 billion annually to eliminate the carbon dioxide generated by power plants in the Carolinas" according to a report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The article further states "Coal-fired power plants have become the focus of carbon sequestration efforts because they are the principal emitters, followed by automobiles, office buildings and residential homes. In recent decades, modern industry has devised technologies for trapping pollutants such as fly ash, mercury, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, leaving carbon dioxide as the remaining obstacle to turning coal into a clean fuel."

News and Observer
March 24, 2007
John Murawski, Staff Writer

Clean coal would cost billions
Energy department puts $4 billion annual price tag on cleansing process

It could cost $4 billion annually to eliminate the carbon dioxide generated by power plants in the Carolinas.

The immense cost for cleaning up coal would be equivalent to building two nuclear power plants every year.

That finding comes from a report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy; the state's utilities reviewed it this week.

"Based on the findings of this report, it seems unlikely geologic carbon capture and storage is a viable option in North Carolina," said Progress Energy spokeswoman Dana Yeganian. Read more...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fuel from fat

A North Carolina State University professor is working to develop a process to make high-grade fuel from remnants of animal fat. The current procedure is extremely slow - the first months of work has produced about a teaspoonful of the product. Now the work turns to making another two cups of fuel over eight months to power a small engine and prove the concept.

The work has attracted enough attention to get funding to carry the project another step forward and then work on ways to make the process practical for real production. "This is going to be competitive with today's prices for jet fuel, which runs about $2 a gallon," Jeff Hassannia said. "More importantly, it represents a domestic source of fuel at a stable rate that comes from a renewable input.""

Read the article...
Professor making fuel from fat
But the production is very slow so far

News and Observer
March 16, 2007
Tim Simmons, Staff Writer

Bill Roberts can't help but wonder whether his fame and fortune might be found in the greasy remnants of animal fat.

After eight months of work, the N.C. State University researcher has shown he can make high-grade jet fuel from fat that's not even fit to be called lard. Read more...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pigs are big... business that is

Hog production has grown from a local farming business to a major corporate business in North Carolina. It provides thousands of jobs and produces a large contribution to the state economy and country's food supply and also continues to have considerable impact on the environment in the state.

As cited in the N&O editorial out March 20, 2007, "It's true that Smithfield, its subsidiaries and other producers have stepped smartly away from some of the worst farming practices of their early days. Hog lagoons are now less susceptible to overflows, more care is taken with the spraying of effluent onto fields, and waste-related nitrogen is less likely to pollute streams."

But there is much yet to accomplish to reduce impact on the environment near these production facilities and more needs to be done before allowing major producers to continue expanding and increasing the effects of wastes and insure the environment is protected.

Read the full report...

News and Observer
March 20, 2007

Swine time
Smithfield Foods seeks to boost production at its big Bladen County slaughterhouse. Let's have a cleanup first

Pigs are big here. Fueled by phenomenal growth in the 1980s and '90s, this mass-production industry stretches across Eastern North Carolina from sows' confined breeding pens to the world's biggest pork factory. With 19 percent of America's pigs, we're the second-ranking swine state behind Iowa. There are more pigs (nearly 10 million) than Tar Heels.

Yes, pigs are big, and after a shaky start tainted by environmental catastrophes and public complaints, it looks as if the industry is here to stay. But if we're going to live with this business, the business must become easier to live with. Read more...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Horticulture a high value business in NC

Landscaping and lawn care represents a large contribution to North Carolina's economy. A study issued this week indicates that value was $8.6 billion dollars in 2005. There is no doubt that the value will be higher for 2006 and 2007 due to the continuing boom in housing and trend for new homeowners to hire professional landscapers to dress up their property.

News and Observer
March 14, 2007
John Murawski, Staff Writer

Horticulture is worth $8.6 billion a year
Landscaping, tree farms, nurseries, lawns

North Carolina's booming horticulture sector is driven largely by landscaping and lawn care.

The total spent on such services in the state was $8.6 billion in 2005, according to a study issued Tuesday.

The General Assembly provided $150,000 for the study to help understand the horticulture industry's diversity and importance to the state economy. The study, the first to quantify the industry, could yield clues about the best ways to boost economic development, sponsors said.

The horticultural industry includes plant nurseries, florists, arborists, landscapers and irrigation that thrive amid rapid growth and development.

Golf courses and institutional clients are big customers, but residential homes account for two-thirds of the spending on these types of services. Read more...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Keepin it green with gardening in NC

Steve Troxler, state Agriculture Commissioner said in a recent news article about the "green industry in North Carolina" “We always knew the green industry was big business in North Carolina, but we didn’t know how big.” The plant business is big business in NC and includes all sorts of job resources - "greenhouses, nurseries, florists, sod producers, landscapers, irrigation contractors, lawn and garden centers, and Christmas tree farmers".
News and Observer
March 13, 2007
John Murawski, Staff Writer

N.C. plant biz pumps in $8.6B yearly

North Carolina’s plant and garden industry contributes about $8.6 billion a year to the state’s economy, according to a study released today by the state Department of Agriculture.

The industry comprises greenhouses, nurseries, florists, sod producers, landscapers, irrigation contractors, lawn and garden centers, and Christmas tree farmers.

The study concluded that the industry employs 152,000 people statewide and includes 120,741 acres in production. The average homeowner spends about $838 a year on lawn and landscape expenses.

“We always knew the green industry was big business in North Carolina, but we didn’t know how big,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. Read more...

Stop the phonebooks, save the paper

Tired of getting phone directories dropped at your home every month or so? There may be a solution.

It wastes paper to throw them away and they would just end up in a landfill. The books are difficult to recycle because of the low grade paper used in printing them and they contain a heavy duty glue that causes problems in the recycling process.

One lawmaker has proposed a solution: a do-not-deliver registry, just like the one for junk mail. Sen. Janet Cowell, a Raleigh Democrat, has proposed a bill to require each directory provider to have a hot line for stopping delivery. She says this would reduce waste, save governments the cost of recycling and end the problem of phone books left rotting on the pavement.

A news story describes the problem and possible solutions...
News and Observer
March 13, 2007
Ryan Teague Beckwith, Staff Writer

Hold the phone books, lawmaker asks

Let your fingers do the walking? These days, it's more like let your arms do the carrying -- straight to the recycling bin. With the directory business booming, many North Carolinians are annoyed at phone books littering lawns and driveways.

A state lawmaker has the solution: a do-not-deliver registry, just like the one for junk mail. Sen. Janet Cowell, a Raleigh Democrat, has proposed a bill to require each directory provider to have a hot line for stopping delivery. She said it would reduce waste, save governments the cost of recycling and end the problem of phone books left rotting on the pavement. "I bet you 25 percent of my neighbors haven't picked theirs up," Cowell said. Read more...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Renovating for energy efficiency and helping the environment

The U.S. Green Building Council established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) Green Building Rating System to promote construction of environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings in 2001. Many builders are incorporating these environmentally friendly practices into new construction but have also found using the practices in renovation of older structures is just as attractive.

Cherokee CEO Tom Darden says "We need to be thinking about the environmental impact of what gets built and energy use and energy waste. This is one place where we thought we could do something about it."

News and Observer
March 12, 2007
Jack Hagel, Staff Writer

Old outside, green within
Tenants renovate space with energy efficiency and the environment in mind

RALEIGH - With its waterless urinals, motion-detecting lights and formaldehyde-free-plywood recycling bins, the future headquarters of Cherokee Investment Partners has all the earmarks of a brand new "green" building -- the kind more developers are touting these days as they get in touch with Mother Earth.

But the bones of the 21,500-square-foot office are anything but new. The office is in a sprawling brick building that dates to 1870.

Cherokee is among a growing number of tenants converting leased space in old buildings to environmentally friendly offices. Read more...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friends with the environment

Green is "in" and companies are looking for ways to move into green efforts and become more environmentally friendly. Bank of America, Wal-Mart, and others are offering products and services that help the environment and are working toward finding ways to reduce energy consumption.

These changes are good for the companies, good for business and are helping businesses be more socially responsible...
News and Observer
March 10, 2007
Sue Stock, Staff Writer

More companies making friends with environment

U.S. businesses traditionally weren't known as staunch protectors of the environment. But an increasing number of them are putting their clout -- and their money -- into green efforts.

Just this week, Bank of America announced a 10-year, $20 billion initiative to support and offer products and services that help the environment.

Retailers such as Wal-Mart are experimenting with green stores and pledging to reduce their energy and gasoline use.

Other companies including and computer maker Dell are asking customers to pay a few dollars extra to offset the carbon emissions produced by their plane flight or to build their computer. Read more...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ethanol fuel from sweet potatoes and grass

NC State University plans to turn a laboratory method for turning sweet potatoes and grass into ethanol into a sustainable process that could further help produce "renewable" fuel and eventually lead to creation of more jobs in the state.

The following article released March 8, 2007, explains how the university will try to build a production facility and try to make the proposal a reality...
News and Observer
March 8, 2007
Tim Simmons, Staff Writer

Turning potatoes, grass into ethanol

NCSU gets $1.5 million for test plant

Researchers at N.C. State University already know they can make ethanol from sweet potatoes and switchgrass.

They don't know if they can do it day after day in quantities more meaningful than a lab beaker.

A $1.5 million grant, announced Wednesday by the Golden LEAF Foundation, could help them figure it out.

NCSU will use the money to build a pilot plant capable of making ethanol from products commonly found in the state, such as loblolly pine, sweet potatoes and switchgrass -- a tall, dense grass often used as field cover. Read more...

Friday, March 2, 2007

Wind turbine and renewable energy

The debate continues about the value of wind turbines in the creation of renewable energy. The news article below from January, 2005, points out that the wind turbines near Tracy, California, have been steadily turning out clean energy for twenty years but also that the "massive fiberglass blades on the more than 4,000 windmills have been chopping up tens of thousands of birds that fly into them, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other raptors."

Clearly there is a collateral cost to using alternative sources of energy and not everyone realizes this when they hear how much the projects contribute to regional energy needs. The segment below from the USA Today report provides some insight into what has been done to resolve issues in the California project.

ALTAMONT PASS, Calif. — The big turbines that stretch for miles along these rolling, grassy hills have churned out clean, renewable electricity for two decades in one of the nation's first big wind-power projects.

But for just as long, massive fiberglass blades on the more than 4,000 windmills have been chopping up tens of thousands of birds that fly into them, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and other raptors.

After years of study but little progress reducing bird kills, environmentalists have sued to force turbine owners to take tough corrective measures. The companies, at risk of federal prosecution, say they see the need to protect birds. "Once we finally realized that this issue was really serious, that we had to solve it to move forward, we got religion," says George Hardie, president of G3 Energy. Read more...