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Environment

Beautiful Land, New Opportunities, Wasted Space

June 15, 2009

I recently moved cross country from the East to the Pacific Northwest. As polluting and contributing to congestion as driving is there is still nothing like it to give a full and complete picture of the landscape.

And for the most part it is a beautiful one that, still worth waxing poetic about, but which I will leave to more accomplished scribes except to say everyone should travel by land from coast to coast at least once in their lives.

The sights that one is familiar with only on screen come alive when you are surrounded it by them...the spectacular architecture of Chicago: its downtown and its neighborhoods, the rugged scenery amidst the charming-in-their-own-right tourist traps around the Wisconsin Dells...the Rhine-like setting of the Mississippi Valley...the wide open spaces in central South Dakota...the amazing transition from grasslands to lush forests west of Rapid City in the Black Hills...and how the Rockies loom above the barren mounds west of Gillette, Wyoming...

Green Transportation: Upcoming Pacific Northwest Intercity/Regional Rail Conference

May 18, 2009


Intercity and commuter/regional rail offers, when done right, a greener alternative to driving and flying not only in reduced energy consumption but also in enabling compact high-density and walkable development on existing brownfield lands as opposed to car-oriented low-density greenspace-munching sprawl.

The Pacific Northwest is an epicenter of rail transportation and land use initiatives, with hits and misses given the beauty and quality of life and the unchanneled growth that threatens to destroy it. Hits that all three of the major cities: Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore. have or will have commuter and urban rail transit systems, are linked by an albeit sluggishly-growing-and-improving intercity rail network, and especially in Portland's case (with some of those most advanced policies anywhere), are encouraging transit-oriented development. Misses in that the British Columbia and to a lesser extent Washington state government continues 1950s-styled sprawl-encouraging roadbuilding and widening policies (in B.C.

Earth Day Message: Take Meaningful Steps

April 22, 2009

The Earth is our home, folks, and there isn't exactly another piece of real estate like it in the galactic neighborhood, so let's not try to make in uninhabitable by our own hands.

Here are some meaningful steps we can take:

* Go hosted. Buying and accessing centrally managed solutions uses less hardware hence less e-waste and are more energy-efficient than purchasing and installing separate units on premises.

Wanted: A 'GreenDex

April 14, 2009

There have been plenty to the point of overload of competing green claims--that some times amount to greenwash--regarding the apparent and supposed environmental benefits of buildings, products, features, technologies, services, and practices: from LEED buildings to telework.

At the same time there have been points raised about the costs both direct and indirect i.e. lost productivity of going green: at what price to organizations especially in this tough economy with limited resources.

To help organizations, decisionmakers, and yes journalists and the public, could some reputable association develop with consensus from all parties: industry, academia, government, environmental groups devise an objective 'GreenDex' to evaluate products, services, applications and practices to help us reduce our environmental footprints?

Telus Makes the Future Friendlier (and Greener)

March 9, 2009

Telus, which is one of Canada's largest communications companies, has taken an unusual--and correct--path in green marketing. It has gone green first through instituting a telework program for its internal contact center agents, which it calls at-home agents or AHAs and then decided to form and promote its AHA consulting/hosting program to other companies.

Telus has 750 AHAs who presently live within 150 km/95 miles from the firm's eight contact centers: in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec and come in for training. That number will expand to 1,050 by the end of 2009.  They will represent nearly 21 percent of its contact center workforce from 16 percent currently.

Going Green All the Way In Ontario

February 12, 2009

It is great to see that jurisdictions like the Canadian province of Ontario taking steps to encourage green practices and technology.

As reported on TMCnet, the province's government will be introducing a sure-to-pass (Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal party holds a majority in the legislature) Green Energy Act, which will:

* Encourage conservation side by creating an Expert Advisory Council that will offer advice to the government on any future energy efficiency changes to Ontario's building code

*  Modernize the province's electrical transmission system by employing 'smart grid' technology--two way communications, advanced sensors, and distributed computing--that enable power distributors to anticipate and address problems before they lead to outages

Green Guilt-Free Flying

February 9, 2009

It will be possible, depending on how quickly and urgently the aviation industry acts to develop and roll out the technology, to fly and work on your laptop without worrying about the emissions-related harm being incurred and the life-enabling open space ruined by massive runways. 

The key environmental issue with flying is not so much the CO2 from the engines but from the water vapor emitted at higher altitudes, where jet aircraft operate, which turns into clouds.  Canadian journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer reports that these clouds reflect heat back to the surface "and contribute to global warming".

There is a solution, which he discussed in a recent column carried in a rural Ontario paper ,distributed free in communities located below what are arguably Canada's busiest commercial and military airways, and that is known as 'circulation control'

This is a technology whose function is, he quoted Dennis Bushnell, the chief scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, "'to bleed the engines and inject air backwards at the upper trailing edge of the wing, you can produce lift coefficients which are easily three or four times what we can get out of conventional wings.'"





With circulation control, aircraft can fly more comfortably and with less harm at lower altitudes, reports Dyer. Water vapor turns to rain and bumps i.e. turbulence is minimized.  

"That [also] means very short takeoffs and landings, so short that existing runways could accommodate several aircraft at once. And the same circulation control system, used in flight, has "such tremendous control authority" that it can counter the bumps that are normally part of flying down in the weather and produce a smooth ride."

Incentivize 'GreenWorking'

February 5, 2009

It is gratifying to see many countries, such as Australia, Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. plan to spend money on expanding their broadband networks.
 
The Canadian Parliament passed that country's 2009 budget on Tuesday with C$225 million to be spent over three years to develop and implement a strategy on extending broadband coverage to unserved rural and remote communities. 

Public assistance is needed, says the government, which is controlled by the Conservative party led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, because companies cannot turn a profit on the investments needed to reach out to these individuals and businesses owing to density and distance from major hubs.

Only with broadband can consumers and businesses effectively access information, goods and services, and yes work i.e. telework via the information highway by riding on the equivalent of paved roads to and from their homes, storefronts, and factories as compared with the dirt tracks of dial-up and plank roads of satellite.

Yet it would be nice for governments also to offer tax incentives, either tax deductions to corporations or grants-in-lieu of taxes to nonprofits, to nudge these organizations to provide teleworking i.e. 'GreenWorking'. The Telework Coalition has called for just that, pointing that there are parking and transit deductions but none for telework.

One of the factors holding telework back has been less-than-competent managers who are unable to supervise others without seeing them Victorian-style.









The Next Steps In Cellphone (and Electronics) Recycling: Redesign, Refocus on Software

January 22, 2009

Cellphone recycling is beginning to take off and that's great news for the environment and ultimately for all of us.

The latest such move is Recycle My Cell, a new Web-based nationwide initiative launched by Canada's wireless industry that lets users find out where and how to properly dispose of their cell phones and other wireless devices - regardless of carrier, brand, or condition. 

The free program in the country that brought us the BlackBerry incorporates numerous existing cell phone recycling initiatives is being organized by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) in conjunction with cell phone service providers, handset manufacturers, and recycling companies.

Recycle My Cell can be adopted by provinces and municipalities as part of their initiatives to manage e-waste. Nova Scotia, on Canada's east coast, is the first province to have done so.



Canadian retailers are already on board with cellphone recycling.

Green Jobs?

January 19, 2009

In an exchange on contact center employment, Group Publisher Rich Tehrani expressed skepticism about the numbers of new American jobs, estimated by some sources at 5+ million that going green will produce.

No one has explained to him why the U.S. will make better green products than the Chinese or Japanese if the U.S. can't make better cars, etc.

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