Sunday, December 23, 2007

Electricity from garbage - New Bern NC

By-products from garbage is continuing to be explored as a source of energy and is another way to be "green".

Tons of daily garbage from North Carolina's Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties produces enough gas to be a source of electricity for the local community. Methane gas from decaying waste at the local landfill is being used as fuel fuel to power generators and create electricity instead of just burning the gas off...

New Bern Sun Journal
December 23, 2007
Sue Book - Sun Journal Staff

Mountains of daily garbage prouduce a ... Power Stash

COVE CITY — More than 750 tons of garbage from residents and businesses in Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties is tipped into the landfill at Tuscarora every day.

That trash is a power stash. Now the gases emitted by the decaying waste at the landfill are being used energy instead of being burned off.

This fall, Ingenco, a Richmond, Va., based energy company, flipped the switch on a plant at the Coastal Area Solid Waste Management Authority that uses the gas to fuel generators that convert it into electricity. Read more...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simple ways to be green in home office

Whether working or relaxing there are many ways to be green in a home office. Recycling, replacing light bulbs, turning off electronics when not being used are a few steps you can take for starters.

Taking simple steps to use "green" ideas will reduce the cost of energy and supplies in your home office while you are reducing the impact on the environment. At first glance most of these are small items but the cumulative effect is worth the effort.
Better Homes and Gardens
November 12, 2007

How to Be "Green" in the Home Office
Published: 11/12/07, 2:36 PM EDT

Good: Print and copy on both sides of the paper.
Better: Use tree-free paper and recycle.
Best: Go as paperless as possible: send e-mails with attachments, write notes on a white board or in a computer program.
Bonus: Shred waste material for packing.


Good: Use the energy saver settings on your computer and printer.
Better: Turn off your computer at the end of the day.
Best: Unplug your computer (and other electronics) to keep them from leeching "phantom" energy -- electricity they draw even while turned off.


Good: Turn off all lights when you leave the room.
Better: Replace your lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or LED lights.
Best: Paint the walls of your office a light color to take advantage of natural light, preventing you from turning on the lights in the first place.

The Little Things

Good: Reuse paper clips or at least recycle them, otherwise all the extra metal goes straight to the landfill.
Better: Don't use rubber bands anymore -- they're made from crude oil and have serious health effects when they're incinerated at the landfill.
Best: Refill ink cartridges rather than buying new ones.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Green building catching on in RTP

RTI International, one of the early residents of Research Triangle park, has started construction on a 120,000-square-foot office building designed to meet the Earth-friendly standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system.

Green construction is becoming popular with area companies and builders as a way to be more environmentally conscious and hold down energy costs. The project features systems that save water and electricity, reduce the need for heating and air conditioning, and a data center that will help heat the building.
News & Observer
October 10, 2007
Jack Hagel, Staff Writer
RTI starts on green building

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK -- RTI International today started on its greenest building yet.

The fast-growing think tank, which has earmarked $100 million for a face lift and expansion at its 180-acre Research Triangle Park campus, broke ground on a 120,000-square-foot office building designed to meet the Earth-friendly standards of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system.

The council established the system in 2000 to promote energy-efficient construction.

Developers earn points by incorporating features such as systems that save water and electricity and reduce the need for heating and air conditioning.

The RTI project, which is being built by Duke Realty, will include dozens of environmentally friendly features such as insulated windows and a data center designed to help heat the building. It is to be complete in about a year.

RTI has about 2,600 employees in 40 countries, including 2,100 in the Triangle. The nonprofit's work includes helping establish democratically elected local governments in Iraq, finding new ways to control malaria and more. Original article...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

NC couple offers land for research and environmental education

One NC couple finds a way to share and preserve their land so others can learn more about the environment.

John and Nancy Bray spend lots of time walking through their estate learning about plants, trees and learning about the environment around them. Since their land connects to parcels owned by Pitt County, the couple is working with the soil and water conservation department to provide a setting conducive for environmental education. If all goes well, John Bray says, people will be studying there by the end of the year.

Read more about how one couple can make a difference and about this exciting opportunity...
The Daily Reflector
October 9, 2007
Brock Letchworth

Ayden couple to open more than 100 acres of their land to researchers, students

Ayden couple hope to open more than 100 acres of their land to researchers, students

The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

AYDEN — When John and Nancy Bray trek through the land across from their Contentnea Creek Estates home, the couple speak of the wildflowers, ponds and trees as though they are family members.

Nancy's excitement over the vibrant colors of wild berries and John's concern for the low water levels are as real as their passion for nature.

The Brays hope to share that passion by opening the more than 100 acres to researchers and students soon.

"You can go through a lot of different eco-systems in a very short walk," said Nancy, a former teacher. "It is really pretty back there, and you can learn a lot."

With the Brays' land connecting to parcels owned by Pitt County, the couple is working with the soil and water conservation department to provide a setting conducive for environmental education. If all goes well, John Bray says, people will be studying there by the end of the year.

Going green

For 27 years, John and Nancy, now retired, lived in Lake Glenwood near Eastern Pines because they enjoyed the rural setting.

The skies were clear for telescopes, and trails were plentiful for exploring.

But as the land around them gave way to development, the Brays recognized a pattern.

"We lived in two other cities where we've seen development wipe out everything green," Nancy said.

"It was happening around us again."

In 2003, the Brays found another home nestled a couple of miles off of N.C. Highway 11 in southern Pitt County.

There, flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 had wiped out several houses and left a large chunk of the land desolate.

With its unique vegetation and wildlife, the spot was perfect for the Brays.

Planning begins

Not long after moving into their new home, John and Nancy began exploring the land spread beyond their huge front porch.

"We used to walk through some of the trails back there and we would say to each other how it would be nice to own all of the land so it wouldn't get developed," said John, co-founder of Greenville-based Metrics, Inc.

One year after moving in, the Brays began to buy more land. Homeowners and farmers started selling their properties and the Brays began buying them to ensure that everything that was green would stay that way.

"We wanted to keep everything natural," Nancy said. "We both have science backgrounds so nature is natural for us."

County officials already have marked nearly 20 different points of interest in the area.

Among them are rare trees and plants, Nancy said.

Also included in the project is access to Jackson's Point — a connection of Pitt, Lenoir and Greene County where N.C. pioneer John Lawson reportedly was murdered by a Tuscaroran tribe in 1711.

John Bray says when the park opens, it will be by appointment only.

"It will be by permit and be controlled," John said. "We allow some hunters out here along with the hikers so we have to be sure hunters and hikers aren't out here at the same time. Hunters and hikers don't mix."

Staying busy

Along with the preservation work with the county, the Brays are helping with the development of the Eastern North Carolina Regional Science Center in Greenville — a project that aims to enhance the level of science and math literacy in eastern North Carolina.

The couple also travels with a portable planetarium to schools teaching kids about astronomy.

Their schedule doesn't resemble that of most retired couples.

"I think we kind of recognized that science and technology and the literacy of the two is a requirement for the 21st century," John said. "There is a need for more scientists and engineers in this country, and we want to help with that."

John spends many of his days keeping the trails clear. When Nancy is not in her organic garden, she searches for rare vegetation and documents her findings back home.

"We have a really nice porch and we spent some time on it, but I think we get bored easily," Nancy said. "We always have to be up to something."

Brock Letchworth can be contacted at 329-9574 or Original article...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Even Carolina blue goes green

Green is even showing up where blue is the norm. UNC is stepping up efforts to build environmentally friendly buildings and turn toward green...

The Daily Tar Heel
August 20, 2007
Staff Reports

Carolina blue goes green

Green is good. Just ask Rameses, who was spotted donning a darker shade recently. Whether it's the UNC mascot or the extended community, green is a priority. Environmentally friendly buildings are popping up throughout campus and the town. Several high-profile projects also are getting the green light after years on the drawing board. Then there's the record-breaking amounts of money pouring into the University from the state and private sector, helping all Tar Heels put their greenest foot forward. Original article...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cheery shopping versus shopping sprawl in Pittsboro

New shopping centers in the area don't have to be all asphalt parking spaces and concrete box stores. Most development now comes with a predictable sequence of construction steps - clearcut the land, remove all signs of trees and vegetation, build long lines of strip shopping stores or scatter big box stores all around a huge expanse of land, then at the end of the proccess come back and pave any remaining soil in the area with asphalt and concrete. To top it off, put up lots of signs, a few stoplights and a tower of store names on signs by the road and call it progress.

It's all about greed and profit. Builders make every effort to cut costs and maximize profits on any construction project and shopping centers are a showplace for the lack of interest in how the community and shopping should blend. If town planners and Boards of Commissioners don't require that trees be left or added back after construction, new areas end up with no greenery at all.

Look around at every new major construction project and you will find one or more builders that control the design and construction to carve out every penny of profit, then heads home every night to live in a mega-mansion and drives to the coast on weekends to a mega-mansion multi-floor beach home.

Read the commentary by Dan Cahoon published in the Chatham County Journal Weekly about development trends in the area and what happens when new development comes in...
Chatham Journal Weekly
August 6, 2007
Dan Cahoon

Shop till you drop at cheery shopping centers

Pittsboro, NC - There are many reasons why a shopping center or large paved area may be a bad idea for the area in question. Any development creates change in the landscape and what we see around us. Trees get downed, meadows and wetland plowed under. That would happen with any kind of development.

A shopping center would require the kinds of parking areas that concentrate runoff with other byproducts of current automobile use. Retail establishments require large amounts of water use and little of it is released in a pure state back into the environment. These types of effects upon our local environment and overburdened waste water treatment facilities are unacceptable to me and to many others.

I also like clean, well maintained buildings in which to purchase needs and luxuries, however, I do not care for over lighted, over air conditioned, over priced, understaffed discount and full priced retail establishments. They do not serve my needs and in the long run lead to urban and rural blight. They stop being cheery and wonderful after a few years and start looking seedy and useless.

I have shopped in these sorts of stores before and found many excellent customer
service representatives along with affordable products. I am not wealthy and so
pinch a few pennies occasionally. At my age though, I find quality to be worth higher prices. Junk is junk n0 matter what price.

I have also had many unpleasant experiences in those types of retail establishments both as an employee and as a customer. Outside interests rarely invest in local communities in a sustainable manner. Workers do earn standard minimum wages but the profits from these businesses leave the community and hurt local merchants.

Industry does not have to look like a factory or something like RTP. I actually find the park like atmosphere of some factories to resemble a campus. The industry the area in question is zoned for is not just for plants and big trucks. It could also be quiet research based industries that use green building and innovative facilities to save water and energy. These places can be managed in a way that helps people live the way they want and need, with less stress and more understanding.

We already have wonderful businesses in Pittsboro that are like this. We don't see them as an eyesore because they don't stand out like a sore thumb, or a Wal-mart, Marshall's, Dollar Tree, or giant hulking movie theater. The people who work there make sustainable wages and so stay in the area instead of moving away to get a "real" job.

Industry is a broad term that should be considered in context. The issue surrounding Pittsboro Place is one of zoning. Many people are alarmed at how fast zoning changes are being enacted. If the area is rezoned then there might not necessarily be a charming business and residential center built there. Some other developer might use the rezoning to outbid Pittsboro Place and come up with a different and not so charming "place".

This type of situation is about profit. The developers and land owners are hoping to cash in on investment. We understand. We like money. We need money, for living and the support of community. We want those local people who have invested to cash in, hang around and spend locally.

I hope we see some good sustainable development of the industrial area off of 64 East, soon! We are a great town for families and intelligent kind people to make home. They won't come here and settle and help us grow into the community we want to be if there is a failed shopping center and urban chaos like we see in Siler City, Ramseur, Cary and now Apex.

We also have large scale energy industry already in that area that needs room to grow. If you haven't seen the organic farm and
greenhouses at Piedmont Biofuels then you should go take a look. It is amazing and will change your outlook on Pittsboro Place. The bio farm and other facilities are the kind of industry we need, want and have. Original article...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Recycling carried to a new level

Recycling lowers the urgency to find more new resources, helps reduce trash dumped along roadsides and in backyards, and has become a profitable big business for some. Recent news articles tell of copper tubing being stolen from construction sites and catalytic converters being removed from parked cars for precious metal content so thieves can "recycle" and sell materials. Home recycling helps reduce the volume of material going into landfills and often adds a little income for cities and towns.

Recycling has been a business for many years and junk yards are seen in industrial areas of many towns. "For the determined, scrap-hunting is a grueling, house-to-house quest. The worldwide hunger for scrap draws retirees and their trucks to the streets. The washtubs and faucets they haul across the scales might not make it into an Asian office tower, but the mad pace of building makes the metal more valuable everywhere" according to an article by Josh Shaffer and David Bracken.

Almost everything in our society produces volumes of waste, much of which can be salvaged and recycled -- packaging containing purchased products, newspapers and magazines, materials from buildings being demolished to make room for new ones, old cars and trucks. Even the food we eat offers the opportunity to "recycle" scraps to produce compost that can be re-used in gardens and around the yard.

Read more about this trend that is becoming a necessary part of our society and how it can produce a fortune for some willing to do the hard work to gather and sell byproducts of everything we consume...
News and Observer
August 4, 2007
Josh Shaffer and David Bracken, Staff Writers

Scrap metal: from trash to treasure
Hobbyists -- and thieves --cash in as demand spikes here and abroad

RALEIGH - An 80-year-old man with heart trouble spends his days bouncing over the Johnston County back roads, hunting for rusty farm equipment.

A thief sneaked into a scrap yard in Garner, made off with a bucket of old copper and immediately tried to sell it back for $100.

Just last week, 19 catalytic converters disappeared from a North Raleigh auto body shop. Over the past three months, more than 200 storm grates vanished in Durham.

Blame the invisible hand of scrap metal economics, which drives a global hunger for recycled junk that stretches to bridge-building in India and apartment construction in China. The tiniest, rustiest bit of metal discarded or stolen in the Triangle is wrapped up in a powerful global market that connects junkmen, recyclers and thieves with a construction boom in east Asia. Read more...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Consumer electronics going green

All those neat high-tech electronic gadgets we use often are consuming energy even when we aren't using them. Most use low levels of power to retain settings, power indicator lights, maintain connectivity and stay ready to use instantly when we pick them up.

According to Jennifer Amann, consumer electronics expert for the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy in Washington said "What most people don't know is that consumer electronics use considerable energy when in standby mode or even turned off. That downtime flow maintains internal clocks, indicator lights, preference settings, remote control responsiveness and other features and accounts for about 40 percent of electronics power consumption." A separate Ecos report due out in September will provide more information on this issue.
News and Observer
July 24, 2007
Frank Norton, Staff Writer

Electronics Going green
Makers of computers, MP3 players and other popular gadgets are heeding consumers' call to be eco-friendly. New devices use less energy, have fewer toxins and are easier to recycle. The companies' challenge? To lower prices.

Mark Pierce of Lenovo was jolted in August when Greenpeace ranked the Chinese-American PC maker dead last for green credentials out of 14 consumer electronics brands.

Pierce, Lenovo's environmental chief, was duty-bound to fix the situation or risk the company's fledgling U.S. image -- it had recently opened new world headquarters in Morrisville.

He began meeting regularly with Greenpeace officials to determine what Lenovo needed to do. The company committed to phase out hazardous chemicals from all products by 2009 and initiated a global hardware recycling program. It worked. Within a year Lenovo had soared to the top of Greenpeace's quarterly chart and has remained near the top since.

The intensity of that turnaround exemplifies the fervor of consumer-electronics makers to be green, or at least be considered so. For the first time, virtually all major brands including Dell, HP, Apple, Sony and Motorola are ramping up efforts to put cleaner, more efficient and more easily recyclable products in stores. Read more...

Preserving disappearing farmland

Time is short to preserve farmland in North Carolina. Open land is disappearing quickly and by the 2025 time frame driving through the scenic countryside will be a thing of the past unless something is done soon to save farms from the onslaught of developers greedy to turn fields into homes and shops.

The Perry family has taken a small step to preserve 50 acres of their farm and he is trying to get other area farmers to do the same. This is a small step that could help save at least a small portion of open land that farmers and land owners could easily take.
News and Observer
July 24, 2007
Peggy Lin, Staff Writer

Time short for farmland preservation
Development puts a premium on land in Wake, other urban counties

Larry Perry and his brother never want to see subdivisions on farmland that has been in their family since before the Civil War.

Last year, they gave up the right to put houses on 50 acres of their farm in exchange for $475,000 from Wake County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Perry tries to persuade other farmers to do something similar. He gives talks in Wake and Johnston counties and welcomes visitors to his farm near Zebulon.

"People say I wish we would have done this or that," Perry said. "But it's too late after it's got asphalt on it."

As farming has ebbed following the 2004 tobacco buyout, conservationists hope to catch the wave of aging or retiring farmers looking for other uses for their land. It's a race against developers who are swooping into previously rural areas, such as eastern Wake County. Read more...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Even Wal-Mart goes green

Whether you like Wal-Mart stores or not, the company, like many others, is implementing green technology to save costs and be more environmentally friendly. That's good for Wal-Mart and good for everyone else. Turning off lights and tv's during late night hours are visible steps to help save energy. Some of the major savings realized are:

* By selling recycled cardboard and plastic, Wal-Mart stands to make $28 million a year.
* By reducing packaging on its Kid Connection toy line, Wal-Mart will use 720 fewer freight containers per year, saving $3.5 million a year.
* By simply changing light bulbs in its ceiling fan displays to energy-efficient, compact fluorescent lights, Wal-Mart stands to save $7 million a year.

News and Observer
June 15, 2007
Sue Stock, Staff Writer

Wal-Mart cutting energy use
Rethink, reuse, reduce waste - Changes affect stores worldwide

Wal-Mart stores are turning off their TVs and dimming the lights between midnight and 6 a.m.

Those are just two of the dozens of changes the company is making as part of an aggressive plan to reduce waste and make its stores more environmentally friendly.

The green initiative will save Wal-Mart millions on energy bills and in some cases reap it a tidy profit.

And, like most things the giant retailer does, it's having a big ripple effect throughout the retailing industry.

Manufacturers are changing product designs to comply with Wal-Mart's changing demands.

Suppliers are changing distribution routes to help save gas.

And smaller food markets that did not directly compete with Wal-Mart are suddenly facing the retailer's notoriously strong muscle head on. Read more...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Electric energy savings with diesel

Diesel power generation can help lower costs for electric energy during peak demand periods. Metretek Technologies of Wake Forest, NC, provides remote control services to activate diesel generators and help businesses reduce dependence on electric companies when demand and cost is higher.

Defenders say "generators help the environment by relieving energy demand and delaying the need to build more power plants". Another view is that "in the nation's energy equation, dirty diesel is just a different shade of green".

News and Observer
June 13, 2007
John Murawski, Staff Writer

Generating savings on diesel

It's another sweltering summer afternoon and legions of air conditioners are maxing out the region's electricity supply.

That's the cue for 135 Food Lion grocery stores to temporarily stop buying electricity from their local utilities.

Instead, the Food Lions, along with hundreds of other heavy electricity users, crank up their own power sources: diesel generators as big as industrial trash bins.

Temporarily disconnecting from the power grid when electricity prices are at their highest can cut a store's annual energy bill in half.

Energy self-reliance is increasingly appealing to big business, for practical reasons.

But as public concern about global warming is renewing focus on renewables such as solar and wind, some companies are taking alternative energy in a different direction. Read more...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Greenhouse emissions program

North Carolina is joining with other states in an effort to measure greenhouse emissions and get a better handle on how to work on global warming issues. According to Tom Mather, spokesman for the state Division of Air Quality, regulators don't currently require reporting of carbon dioxide but plan to begin doing so.
News and Observer
May 9, 2007
Wade Rawlins, Staff Writer

N.C. joint greenhouse emissions program

North Carolina has joined with 30 other states as charter members of the Climate Registry, a cooperative effort led by states to measure and track emissions of greenhouse gases.

The registry, a non-profit organization based in California, will provide a common accounting system for states, businesses and manufacturers to voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions consistently across state borders and industry sectors.

North Carolina’s participation in the program is voluntary, but signals that the state is trying to get a handle on its greenhouse gas emissions. State officials now have only rough estimates of greenhouse gases emitted in the state. Read more...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Undeveloped land losses rising quickly

Like driving along rural roads and seeing farms and open land? Like having space between developments and shopping areas? If action is not taken soon much of what you see will disappear forever in the state.

At the current rate of development in North Carolina a substantial percentage of existing open space will disappear by 2027 according to the report:
  • The Triangle will lose 37 percent of its open space and farmland will disappear altogether.

  • The Charlotte area will lose 30 percent of its forests and farmland, including nearly a quarter of its woodlands, the highest rate of forest loss in the state, the report says.

An initiative has begun to encourage lawmakers to ask for a bond referendum to provide funding to procure open space and preserve it for the future. Unfortunately this competes for requests for funds for housing, schools and other needs that will likely win out. Read the article...
News and Observer
April 25, 2007
Wade Rawlins, Staff Writer

Report: undeveloped land
losses rising

If current development rates continue, at least 2
million acres of forest and farmland in North Carolina will disappear over the
next 20 years, says a report released today by Environment North Carolina, a
conservation advocacy group.

The report examines federal data about development rates in the past two
decades and uses that to project loss of farmland and forests in the next 20

Since 1987, the amount of developed land in North Carolina increased by 1.86
million acres, including 327,000 acres in the Triangle, the report says. Read more...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A bid to reclaim vanishing night

Looked up into the night sky lately? The stars don't seem as bright and plentiful as they were before.

Part of the problem is the ever increasing glow of outdoor lighting in and around developing areas contributing to "light pollution".

The following news commentary notes "the International Dark Sky Association estimates that 99 percent of the people in the United States and Europe live in light-polluted areas, unable to see traces of the Milky Way or many stars when they walk out of their homes and gaze skyward." This will forever change our view of the stars and night sky unless everyone chooses to reduce the amount of artificial light around homes and shopping areas.

Reducing night time lighting can help preserve the natural beauty of the night sky and efforts to reduce "light pollution will cut wasted energy and greenhouse gases from power plants" and help address global warming issues.
News and Observer
April 22, 2007
Catherine Clabby, Staff Writer

A bid to reclaim vanishing night

CHAPEL HILL - As the show begins, visitors to the Morehead Planetarium see a night sky free of polluting light. Projected onto the dome is a truly dark sky pricked by countless sparkling points. A narrow smudge -- our galaxy, the Milky Way -- is as clear as day.

Then the light grows to a brightness familiar outside the building. The number of stars visible in the virtual sky drops dramatically, to just a handful of tiny bright spots.

"I know, it's terrible," Morehead educator Amy Sayles says sympathetically to a multigenerational crowd of dozens who gathered at the planetarium for "Our Vanishing Night," a program leading up to the Earth Day observances today.

This year, a growing coalition showed itself in the Triangle asking the rest of us to turn down the lights. A group of amateur and professional astronomers has made this plea for decades. Now the astronomers are joined by a new ally -- environmentalists. Read more...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nuclear power in North Carolina

The debate goes on regarding whether to use more nuclear generated power or coal generation. But another concern is emerging about how to keep nuclear plants safe as spent fuel accumulates.

A News and Observer publication discusses an "emerging issue" regarding accumulation of radioactive waste at the Shearon Harris plant in southern Wake County...
News and Observer
April 15, 2007
John Murawski, Staff Writer

Nuclear foes see danger in waste
Harris plant starts relicensing process

The Shearon Harris nuclear plant has long drawn scrutiny over the safety of atomic power. But safety concerns are shifting to an emerging issue: the buildup of radioactive waste at the site in volumes never anticipated when the plant began operating 20 years ago.

Longtime nuclear critics plan to highlight the nuclear waste quandary during a two-year safety review as Progress Energy seeks to extend the Shearon Harris operating license into the middle of the century. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold the first public meeting on the Shearon Harris relicensing on Wednesday in Apex.

The nuclear waste issue is gaining momentum nationwide amid growing concerns that nuclear plants are potential targets for terrorism and sabotage. With no long-term solution in sight for disposing of nuclear waste, many nuclear plants are storing three times as much waste as the temporary pools were originally expected to hold. Unlike the nuclear reactors themselves, the storage sites usually are not heavily fortified against attack. Read more...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Corn going up, production increasing

Going green brings with it a cost. Increased use of corn for making ethanol fuel additives brings with it increased costs and encourages farmers to produce more corn. Planting more corn also means less of other crops will be produced. China and India have also indicated they will import more corn. The circle goes round and round. Read more about the impact on the economy and other costs...
News and Observer
March 31, 3007
Nafeesa Syeed and David Pitt, The Associated Press

DES MOINES, IOWA - An ethanol-fueled boom in prices will prompt U.S. farmers to plant more corn than they have since the year the Allies invaded Normandy. However, surging demand still could mean that consumers pay more for everything from chicken to cough syrup.

Farmers are expected to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual prospective plantings report, released Friday. That would be a 15 percent increase over 2006 and the most corn planted since 1944.

The move to plant corn is in large part because of a rush to produce corn-based ethanol, which is blended with gasoline. There are 114 ethanol refineries nationwide and 80 under construction. Read more...

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...