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Environment

The Green Side of Ontario's Proposed Handheld Device Law

October 28, 2008

There is an interesting side to the Province of Ontario's just tabled legislation that would restrict using handheld devices while driving: a provision that would allow informal carpools.

The bill is actually called the 'Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act of 2008'. The Ministry of Transportation says it will, if passed (that's assured-the ruling Ontario Liberal party has a majority) update the Public Vehicles Act that will promote carpooling in Ontario by removing the barriers and red tape associated with forming carpools. This will include amending the definition of a carpool vehicle to recognize informal, irregular carpools that operate between municipalities for purposes other than just home-to-work and work-to-home trips. 

The big benefit here is that these informal carpools will be able to use the province's small but growing network of HOV lanes. Ontario also has many carpooling lots located just off its 400-series expressways.

Also, if you're in a carpool and you're driving you can ask someone else to take the calls for you...

--BR













Green Ideas Overheard At ITEXPO West

September 22, 2008

Several ideas/observations overheard at ITEXPO West last week in Los Angeles...

1. Get rid of the ethanol subsidy 

Ethanol production--from grains as opposed to biowaste--is being criticized for generating more pollution than it solves through processing and transportation.

Kind of like LEED buildings being erected in car-oriented office parks, gouged out of what had been environmentally-beneficial fields, wetlands, forests...

2. Go nuclear, like France has done. Get away from coal, heavy oil, natural gas, hydro...

There is some logic here.









Going Green To L-A...To ITEXPO West

September 10, 2008


The headline above sounds like an oxymoron, given that Los Angeles has for 60 years come to represent everything brown and ugly as opposed green and bright in the environment. For "L-A" was the first city--and far from the last--to buy into the 1930s urbanist vision of dispersed sprawling communities linked by car-occupied freeways, popularized at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City.   The car and the wide, fast roads to accommodate it represented individual freedom, the escape from dirty, fetid cities into fresh countryside and wide open spaces, once the province of farmers and the elite. Unfortunately like most visions it overlooked the consequences, like smog, which began to be inflicted by cars on Los Angeles as early as the late 1940s, and traffic congestion that has proven to be impossible to build out of.   There is a plaque in the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, (also known as Union Station used by Amtrak and the Metrolink commuter rail that discusses the deliberate freewayization of Los Angeles that destroyed what was the world's greatest mass transit network, the  Pacific Electric interurbans or 'Red Cars'. This figured as a subplot in the hit animated/real action comedy film 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'  The city also had an extensive narrow gauge urban streetcar system, which shared tracks with the Red Cars with inside rails for the trolleys.   Since the early 1990s "L-A" has been pouring money if by fits and starts into returning the 'Red Cars' now known as light rail transit or LRT, plus in subways, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit that have proven popular especially with high gas prices.

Another Great Reason To Truly (No Sprawl) Go Green: Your Health and Healthcare

August 29, 2008

"Just go out for a breath of air/And you'll be ready for Medicare"--Tom Lehrer

The Canadian Medical Association released a literally devastating report earlier this month titled: "No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution" that bears out the brilliance, prescience, and unfortunate timelessness of Mr. Lehrer's musical satire.

The contents should make you gasp, think about saving energy, think again about locating in car-oriented 'greenfields' no matter 'green' the buildings are, ...and consider instead strategies like teleworking and situating offices and homes in higher-density, walkable, transit-accessible, and healthier truly green communities.

Among the key and very disturbing data:

SoundBite's Sensible 'Coupons On Demand'

August 18, 2008

SoundBite Communications has a 'greensmart' solution that saves trees, which convert CO2 to oxygen among other life-providing benefits, which is reminding consumers or businesses of coupons or other rewards they are entitled to by receiving the coupon or reminder through e-mail, text messages or an automated phone call. 

By simply showing the text message, the reward could be activated at their next purchase. If someone doesn't want the promotional offer, they simply delete it. It doesn't get any easier than that, and all while reducing the consumption of paper.

Those savings are significant. According to SoundBite's PR, one tree can make almost 17 reams of paper, with a significant portion of it ending up as direct mail or bills.



APC's new Data Center Carbon Calculator

August 11, 2008

 American Power Conversion has devised an excellent tool, the Data Center Carbon Calculator, to help you changes in data center efficiency on energy consumption and carbon output. This handy measurement is part of a series of Trade-Off Tools (TM) developed by APC to help organizations examine virtualization, efficiency, power sizing, capital costs, and other key design issues.

The Data Center Carbon Calculator gives you valuable information on energy costs, broken down even to the state level in the US though alas not to the state level in Australia or by province in Canada. It presents two scenarios that you can adjust that will give you differing results, and in local currencies. This provides you with a general indication of how "green" your data center is today and how "green" it could be.

The APC kit does need a little refinement, such as the aforementioned need to granulate to different subjurisdiction, plus the ability to easily trackback or jump to other countries. Even so, I highly recommend looking at it and at the other toolkits that APC offers.



To go green, avoid greenfields for offices and homes

July 28, 2008


There have been a lot of articles lately about green buildings and homes. So when I find out about the ones located in 'office parks' and low-density subdivisions on what had just been open space i.e. 'greenfield development' I just shake my head.

A 'green' building surrounded by a huge car-packed parking lot and a 'green house' on a cul-de-sac with a couple of SUVs in the driveway are the environmental equivalent of the fitness fanatic who jogs to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes.

To Go Green, Go Dumb (as in computing)

July 21, 2008

The smartest computing solution environment-wise for organizations is to go dumb, as in dumb terminals.  

Richard 'Zippy' Grigonis, executive editor, Internet Telephony reports that network computing either with purpose-built thin-client systems or even 'lobotomized' PCs connected to a network server use less power than 'intelligent' PCs. 

Let's look at the numbers. Assuming flat panel LCD monitors (FPMs) at each workstation, and 300 watts (W) for a router, hubs, and firewall appliances for all scenarios: 

'Smart System' --120W for typical PC  

'Dumb' Systems: --100W for dumb PC 

Or --43.5W (40W alone for the FPMs) for fanless thin-client dumb terminals 

Plus 1000 W for fat server, off two load-sharing power supplies, to support dumb PCs and terminals 

Based on this it only takes 9 to 10 dumb units: thin-clients or dumb PCs connected to a fat server to equal the power consumption of 11 smart PCs. Beyond that you are 'green computing'. 

There are also other advantages of going dumb. These are lower IT support costs and improved security because employees cannot knowingly or unknowingly load sniffer software or 'bot' the system or download and walk off with data. Theft risk is less because who wants a computer that is 'stupid'? 

There are thin-client computers such as by , but by no means exclusive to Devon IT, Netvoyager, and Sun:  

http://www.devonit.com/thin_client_computing/thin_clients_101.php 
http://www.netvoyager.co.uk/ 
http://www.sun.com/sunray/sunray2/ 
 






















Telework: the ultimate green commute

July 14, 2008


The greenest, fastest, and safest commute, one that requires the lowest investment from your pocket and from your tax dollars (compared with mass transit and HOV lanes) is from wherever you are in your home to your home office. The same goes for your employees.

Facet/Teletrips reports that each person teleworked or telecommuted just 1 to 2 days per week then each year they would save 100 - 200 gallons of fuel and 1.5 to 5 metric tonnes of CO2 / employee / year (equates to 7.5 percent -25 percent of an individual's annual carbon footprint). 

Teleworking is like giving your staff a pay raise and a cut in hours for free. Facet/Teletrips reports that it saves them each $2,000 - $10,000 in after tax dollars and frees up 160 hours of their time from commuting every year.

Your organization also benefits from teleworking as it can gain $2,000 - $10,000 real estate and other cost savings / employee / year, and greater staff retention and recruiting. 

https://www.teletrips.com/public/learn.php

The rising gas prices are already reportedly making organizations think about teleworking. Employees, especially lower-paid ones like contact center agents are less willing to travel the same distances to work because they have to pay more out of their pockets.

Telework is also a proven disaster response strategy by distributing the workforce that makes operations less vulnerable to threats and 'events'. Telework ties into the Internet, which was conceived of and created by the US government to withstand and respond to an enemy attack by distributing computers over a network. 

And on 9-11-01 both telework and the Internet delivered.













Getting rid of the EW! (E-Waste)

July 11, 2008

Today is garbage and recycling day in my neighborhood. As I sort out the plastics, paper, and metals from the blue bin under our kitchen sink I am reminded why producer/seller-pay e-waste recycling programs like that just announced by the Province of Ontario http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/news/2008/071001.php can and will work: by assigning costs to waste. 

My community charges for trash pickup. You have to buy garbage tickets. The way to minimize the number of tickets you need to purchase is by recycling.

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