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Green Living

To Go Green, Spend Green When You Waste

April 22, 2010

In some ways Earth Day/Earth Week reminds me of Sunday and in the Christmas season in the Christian faith. These are the times when we try to do good unto others and to think about how to be a better person. 

Yet alas all too likely too many of us go out to do the opposite but to varying degrees afterward. Why? Because unless the evil acts are criminal the only punishment we feel are in our consciences, and the degree by which happens depends on how much of a sociopath that each of us are.

The Marketplace Is The Answer For A Green Planet...And Tech

April 1, 2010

Forget save-the-planet sentiments and actions like last Saturday's Earth Hour,  and laws, and regulations.

The only way people and organizations will truly go green, and saving the earth and in turn boosting the market for green products and practices is by making them i.e. us pay the full costs i.e. environmental and related healthcare and other expenses for the damage we incur both directly and indirectly and add that to the prices of what we buy. 

And then let the marketplace works its magic to efficiently allocate resources... 

In other words if you want to telecommute from an insulated-up-the tailfeathers townhouse that relies on solar energy for cooling and heating, supplemented by fans and hot-water bottles respectively...and if you want to drive a tank to your office park from a mansion whose A/C is at 60 and the heat at 75...both of which is your right...then you pay accordingly for the Earth you use.

Tandberg's FlyFree program

March 19, 2010

Air travel especially for business is an environment-killing, time-wasting, productivity-draining pain in the literal backside. If high costs, cramped seats, nonexistent food service that forces one to also juggle the grease-drenched so-called sustenance caked into landfill-bloating clamshell packaging, plus de facto strip searches, and weather and runway delays weren't enough then there's always labor disruptions.

And in anticipation of the latter, on British Airways (BA), Tandberg has wisely capitalized the opportunity to market its videoconferencing and telepresence solutions by offering TANDBERG FlyFree, a program that gives companies an easy and risk-free way of experiencing the power of high-definition video conferencing and telepresence.

By adopting Tandberg's technology, it says employees "can still make critical meetings, avoid unnecessary business travel and benefit from a better work-life balance by working around personal schedules. In turn, the technology can deliver serious business advantages and consistent return on investment, regardless of the BA strikes, as well as help companies make great CO2, time and cost savings."

"Businesses cannot afford to be slowed down by the impact of international travel disruption, especially at this time when continuity is so critical to success," says Simon Egan, Vice President, Western Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa, Tandberg.

The Greenest (and One of the Last?) Winter Olympics Ever

February 9, 2010

There is a crack going around about the 2010 Vancouver Olympics that it is "the greenest Winter Olympics ever". 

The joke refers to the efforts to promote green tech and transportation at the event that has been more than offset by man-made global warming and pollution that has led to record-high temperatures and rain. This has forced organizers to ship in snow (thereby releasing more harmful emissions) to Cypress Mountain that overlooks Vancouver; Whistler, some 2 hours north where most of the outdoor venues are is mild but still in good shape.

My wife and I live in the Metro Vancouver. We park-and-rode into the downtown yesterday to get a feel of the crowds, the activities and the excitement just before the Opening Ceremonies on Friday.

Contributing Sources of Weird Weather? Look In The Mirror

July 31, 2009

I live in the Pacific Northwest where the weather for the past several days resembles what has become the norm on the East Coast: hazy, hot, and humid.
The smaller businesses and most homes in this part of the world aren't equipped for this with little or no air conditioning, big glass windows, and limited drapery. The husband of one of my wife's colleagues has to sleep on the basement floor, and few homes here have basements. Fortunately we live/I work out of a new apartment with central air.

And in contrast the East Coast has been hit with rainy weather that is the norm here, except that the rains are harder.

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...

Travel Green: Free Yourself From the Labor of Driving

August 29, 2008

This Labor Day weekend, literally walk the walk on going green, and keep the car at home or at least minimize its use. Here are some ideas:

--Walk, cycle, and yes, take transit (even the lowly bus) to local parks, historical sites, shopping, attractions, and to special events in your community. It is amazing how much more you see and experience, especially with your family, when you're freed from 'looking out for the other guy'.

--Consider taking the train, bus or ferry as a foot passenger (s) to out-of-town destinations that have attractions that are easy to get to on foot. 

Many 'commuter rail' networks and 'commuter buses' have excellent weekend service; there are often connecting local buses and/or taxi service to downtowns/activity centers.

Some of my favorite, and transit accessible communities with weekend commuter rail/bus are, in no particular order:

* Rockport, MA (Quaint fishing/artist village in northeast suburban Boston, MBTA commuter rail from North Station)

* Woods Hole, MA (Walkable village, home of the oceanographic institute, buses from Boston with ferries to Martha's Vineyard)

* Provincetown, MA (famed, loud, proud, historic, beach tourist and fishing town with direct summer ferry service from Boston, plus buses via Hyannis)

* Burlington, VT (Vermont's largest city, great downtown, train ride plus ferries across Lake Champlain, Amtrak and Greyhound from New York, Greyhound from Boston over the gorgeous I-89 north west of Concord, NH)

* Cold Spring, NY (Quaint community, onetime military arsenal town that lies across the Hudson from West Point, Metro North from Grand Central Terminal, New York City--the train ride alone is worth it)

* Watch Hill Beach, Fire Island, NY (Long Island Rail Road to Patchogue, ferry to Fire Island--inquire about beach packages--Watch Hill is the nicest and the quietest of the barrier beaches)

* Ocean Grove, NJ (NJ Transit commuter rail to Asbury Park, short cab ride or walk into town. Ocean Grove is a quaint, and dry, family community founded by the Methodist Church)

* Old Unionville, Ontario [near Toronto] (TTC subway to Finch then York Region Transit.

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:

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.

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 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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