I wanted to take a moment to honor a major loss in the energy efficiency community. Linda Latham died this past weekend from her second bout with a very aggressive breast cancer. Linda was instrumental in launching the US government's ENERGY STAR programs in the 1990s and was the chief operating officer of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit research and advocacy group. The EPA used to be a straight regulatory body but in 1994, when I first met Linda, things were changing. That's when a few people, including Linda, were proving a new concept through a small program called Green Lights. Simply put, Green Lights tried to get businesses to commit to switching from old fluorescent light bulbs to new efficient ones that used 40% less energy and returned a stunning 40% return on investment. The trick was getting people to think of lighting as an investment. This was a brand new idea at the time - an idea that made perfect mathematical sense on paper wasn't getting off the ground because it required an upfront investment in building maintenance to make large-scale retrofits. The energy-saving bulbs were trapped in a cycle where without big buyers, sellers were reluctant to make the bulbs, and the cost couldn't come down. But Linda and a small group devised a plan to get major companies - Johnson & Johnson, AMEX, GE, City of New York, IBM, Gillette, and many others - to upgrade all their lighting when, and only when, the return was 20% or greater, far greater than the 12% US average return on capital. In return, the EPA would walk them through the process, provide technical support and, crucially as it would turn out, provide marketing and PR support. It worked. Big buyers came, big sellers produced, costs came down, building managers got actual investment dollars, and this unleashed massive and profitable energy savings in the commercial building space, which accounts for about 20% of US emissions. From this success, EPA hired a number of people, myself included, to expand Green Lights into dozens of the now internationally recognized ENERGY STAR programs we know today. Building certification, like LEED, and the whole idea of a building as an asset was new and owes its beginning to ideas Linda helped develop. Linda eventually left EPA and moved to California, and I left EPA and moved to Eastern Europe. When I returned to the United States years later, I looked up my old friend Linda and was excited to learn she was at a consulting firm three blocks from me in Silver Spring, MD. After discovering this coincidence and some discussion, she hired me again. Linda and I had a joke that once every ten years it was her job to hire me. I always admired Linda's gift as a manager, an ability to remain calm, focused, know the subject matter and to motivate others. Management is a very difficult skill set and Linda was a master. She was always fair and likable. During our time working together, Linda was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. It was a shock, and we all missed her at the office, but she recovered and had a sense of humor about her situation. We drifted apart (again) after I left to run Carbonfund.org, but she is always on my calendar every ten years. Linda's career is a testament to the power of ideas, that government can and often is a force for good and even that markets don't always work as we'd like. Linda taught us that people matter. Linda Latham was an extraordinary person and will be missed.
Friday, 30 September 2011 14:49 Written by Linda Kelly
The Goldeneye Winery is dedicated to the production of world class Pinot Noir wines. It is located in the heart of Anderson valley along the migratory pathway of the common Goldeneye duck. In 1990, after nearly fifteen years of making world-class Bordeaux style wines, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn of Duckhorn Wine Company embraced their growing passion for Pinot Noir. Their vision for Goldeneye was simple: to craft a distinctively California Pinot Noir of equal stature to their acclaimed Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot. By focusing on the careful cultivation of its estate vineyards, Goldeneye has been able to grow, while still remaining true to its philosophy of being a small, quality-driven winery. To maintain the integrity of each vineyard block and to allow for flexibility in the final blend, Goldeneye harvests, barrel ages and vinifies each lot separately. In addition, Goldeneye practices crop sensitivity with vertical shoot positioning and a dedication to low yields, as low as two tons per acre. Goldeneye cultivates extracted, elegant fruit. The goal is to fashion a wine that expresses the depth and character of the Anderson Valley. Founded on a commitment to quality, Goldeneye brings the tradition of viticultural excellence established by Duckhorn Vineyards in the NapaValley to the Pinot Noirs of the Anderson Valley. With each new vintage, Goldeneye continues its evolution toward becoming one of the world's premier producers of Pinot Noir. The Goldeneye Winery offers vineyard tours, wine tasting experiences, and special events, as well as online shopping. Goldeneye winery is committed to supporting organizations that foster a sense of understanding and increase the overall awareness of educational, environmental and health related issues. The diverse population and landscape of the Mendocino coast of California provides the winery with a remarkable amount of opportunity to make a difference to the local community. To this end, the Goldeneye winery has earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council®. The Duckhorns have been working towards this goal for many years and are one of only three wineries in California to earn this distinction. This honor is a testament to the thoughtful relationship they have built with the valley, and their commitment to making ever-better wines from its grapes. The Carbonfund.org Foundation is proud to have assisted Goldeneye Winery achieve its LEED Gold certification through their purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from Carbonfund.org to complete the LEED certification requirements.
Thursday, 29 September 2011 15:56 Written by Linda Kelly
Founded in 1993, HealthyHome is one of the oldest providers of green products in the country and one of the first to offer these products online. They are a privately held company dedicated to sustainability, energy efficiency, and lower environmental impacts from the products they sell. HealthyHome offers green paints, stains and coatings, flooring, lighting, beds and bedding, cleaning supplies, garden and outdoor products, air and water filtration systems and many other products. Each product meets their standards for sustainability, safety, efficiency, low carbon footprint, and economy. HealthyHome continually searches for new products that help customers live, build and renovate greener. Online shopping is easy and is supplemented with product information and recommendations. Being early in the green building market has given HealthyHome an historical perspective on what people are looking for and what products on the market can meet those expectations. Over the years, the folks at HealthyHome have seen the green market evolve and shift focus from low toxicity to energy efficiency. And one of HealthyHome’s customer benefits are the “Green-Eyed View” blogs, providing expert advice on green ideas for a healthy home and world. Because limiting their carbon footprint is one of their important values, HealthyHome offsets their own carbon emissions via a partnership with Carbonfund.org, supporting a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.
Monday, 26 September 2011 10:52 Written by Alterra Hetzel
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="269" caption="Elephant spied on a South African Garden Adventure"][/caption] Operating for almost fifteen years, Earthbound Expeditions have taken adventurers to swim with the seals in the Galapagos, sip fine Malbecs in Argentine vineyards, enjoy cooking classes in a 12th century Tuscan castle and attend world-class performances in stunning concert halls. This company is dedicated to the art of travel and will stop at nothing to ensure your journey with them is a memorable experience. If you are in search of an authentic travel experience, take a peek at Earthbound's one-of-a-kind, hand crafted journeys. Designed for the traveler with an independent streak, their small group adventures are certain to please and delight those not wishing to take a "tour" but a journey. Some key features of the Earthbound Expeditions include:
- Carbon neutral travel - Through their partnership with the Carbonfund.org, all Earthbound globetrotters will travel carbon neutral. This is accomplished by supporting climate mitigation projects through Carbonfund.org.
- Location - Whether in a city or a village, accommodations are centrally located so that travelers can simply walk out the door and start exploring!
- Timing - Carefully crafted itineraries offer the best of a destination without long travel times or being rushed. This means more time for adventure!
- “Insider” Experiences - Earthbounders enjoy one-of-a-kind intimate experiences with local experts. This means a true local experience.
- Small Groups - Expeditions are with just 12-29 fellow travelers ( hosted journeys may be larger). You’ll discover treasures that are simply not available to large tour groups.
- Intimate Dining – Travelers enjoy regional specialties the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
- No Hidden Costs - All admissions and special events listed in your itinerary are included - even tips for your guide and driver.
- Superb Expedition Leaders - Guides offer a unique perspective on the destinations. These group leaders are great historians, naturalists and linguists, as well as great travel companions!
Monday, 26 September 2011 09:56 Written by Linda Kelly
Each year more than 5 million people, mainly children, die in impoverished areas of the world due to respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. These diseases kill more people in a year than HIV and malaria combined. The majority of these illnesses are caused by the lack of proper hygiene and clean water. Studies have shown that hand washing with soap can reduce nearly half of these infections that ultimately lead to death. Prevention is the key. Simply put, a bar of soap can save a life. And now Hand in Hand Soap helps save lives with its "buy a bar, give a bar" donation program. For millions of people all over the world, a single bar of soap is unobtainable. This drastically increases their risk of fatal illness that could have easily been prevented. Hand in Hand Soap was conceived in 2011 by two social entrepreneurs who believe that business can do so much more than just make money. Understanding the difficulty that most non-profits face trying to obtain funding, Courtney and Bill set out to start a business based on sustainable giving. By directly tying charitable donations to the sale of an everyday product, Hand in Hand is able to give soap to those in need and save lives without depending on a single donation. For every bar purchased, Hand in Hand will donate the same bar to save a life. "The goal was to come up with a household product people use every day; that had the power to save lives. After 3 years of brainstorming, we came across an article reporting that each year over 5 million people die of diseases caused by poor water quality and lack of proper hygiene. After further research, we discovered that half of those deaths could be prevented with just a single bar of soap. It was at that moment that Hand in Hand was conceived" explained Courtney. All Hand in Hand soap is shipped using eco-friendly packaging, and a portion of all proceeds is used to save 50 square feet of rainforest for every bar sold. And, after each order is placed, Hand in Hand Soap will purchase the corresponding carbon offsets so that each shipment becomes carbon neutral. Carbon offsetting is a way to counterbalance or compensate for the greenhouse gases produced during shipment. Hand in Hand Soap helps reduce the carbon footprint by supporting projects which remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through Carbonfund.org. While the primary mission of Hand in Hand is saving lives, they immediately realized the environmental responsibility that goes along with creating and selling soap. "Understanding our environmental impact, we set out from day one to create a soap that was as eco-friendly as possible. We wanted to be proud of our soap and develop a product that was made with sustainable resources, and harvested ethically," Bill said. As such, Hand in Hand Soap is 100% vegetable based, vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free, petrochemical-free, biodegradable, palm-free & cruelty-free, and it is certified by both the Natural Products Association and Fair Trade USA. "To have a product that is truly eco-friendly means more than just having natural ingredients. We have found that many natural soaps use ingredients that ultimately come from intentionally cleared rainforests, which was something that we wanted no part in. Every ingredient in our soap is not only natural, but it is harvested and grown in an environmentally friendly way," explained Bill. So help save lives and start soaping up with sustainable suds™ from Hand in Hand.
Friday, 23 September 2011 11:53 Written by Linda Kelly
If you strive to achieve the finest landscaping product and develop the best value for your property, look no further than Smart Choice Landscape Company, a complete landscape service company serving the South Florida community for more than 12 years. The company has been built on the foundation of quality service and environmental awareness. As residents of South Florida, they take pride in bettering the communities where their customer and they live. Smart Choice Landscape Company has established a reputation as the leader in landscape maintenance, quality, service, experience and value. The company offers a proven track record of creative, quality landscape design and maintenance. Being a family-owned and operated company, Smart Choice Landscape Company wants each and every client to feel important. As a landscaping company, Smart Choice Landscape Company feels a strong sense of responsibility to protect the landscape. Sustainable practices are employed in the work that they do, the offices where they work, the strategic direction they follow, the relationships they develop and the way they live their lives. Smart Choice Landscape Company promotes sustainability by: • Running mowers on propane-natural gas, which reduces emissions by 80%; • Following South Florida’s ‘Best Management Practices’ (BMPs) for landscape maintenance; • Offsetting their carbon footprint; • Recycling all yard waste and other materials where possible; • Limiting the use of pesticides and looking for bio/natural alternatives; • Encouraging clients to incorporate sustainability in their landscape; • Promoting and encouraging natural processes and systems in our designs; • Taking all practical steps at on-site operations to minimize and mitigate any adverse effects of our activities that may cause environmental damage; • Using recycled and totally chlorine free paper in the work place; • Minimizing the use of paper by reusing printed paper or using paperless communication; • Actively seeking partnerships and preferred suppliers that have similar environmental values, thus maintaining a “green” supply chain. Water conservation is one of the most crucial issues facing Florida’s future. Many areas of the state are running low on freshwater supplies. Smart Choice Landscape Company is committed to applying South Florida’s Best Management Practices and guidelines in effort to conserve precious fresh water through irrigation and storm water management. Smart Choice Landscape Company prefers to use eco-friendly and organic products that provide the same results while still being sustainable. They are introducing Avenger Weed Killer, an organic herbicide EPA registered and approved by the USDA National Organics Program. Its patented formula is made with natural citrus-oil (or d-limonene), which is a natural degreasing agent that strips the weed of its waxy skin, causing it to dehydrate and die. Tested against the leading synthetic herbicide, glysophate, Avenger has proven to be just as effective, but faster acting. Smart Choice Landscape Company has partnered with the Carbonfund.org Foundation in the CarbonFree® Small Business Program to offset their carbon footprint. Smart Choice actively works towards offsetting carbon emissions from fleet activity and other general business operations. Their commitment establishes Smart Choice Landscape Co. as an environmental leader in the landscaping business community and demonstrates the proactive steps they are taking in the fight against global climate change.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 14:09 Written by Jordana Fyne
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Joshua Tree National Park"][/caption] Ken Burns calls them America's Best Idea and this Saturday, September 24st, you can indulge in the beauty and splendor of our country's national parks for free. While there are 395 parks that are free on a daily basis, parks like Joshua Tree in California, the Everglades in Florida or the Badlands in South Dakota (plus a TON more) usually charge an entrance fee that will be waived on Saturday. The occasion is National Public Lands Day, the country's largest single-day effort to spruce up parks and other spaces. You can enjoy this opportunity to spend a leisurely day at a park, or join in with volunteers to plant trees, repair trails and make other enhancements on public lands. Saturday is also the Worldwide Day of Play, an event encouraging children to get up and get active. The flagship event will take place in Washington, DC, at President's Park and is hosted by Nickelodeon, the National Park Service and the Nation Park Foundation. Young or old, in the mood to volunteer or take a hike - whatever your outdoorsy agenda may be - click here to find a park near you and take advantage of this free great idea on Saturday.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 13:20 Written by Linda Kelly
Looking to settle down on the west coast and seeking the best in sustainable living there? For over 20 years, Pacific Living Properties has been providing quality apartment homes to meet the needs of their residents. The owner-managed, family-run business is committed to offering an exceptional living environment to residents in their properties throughout California and Washington. Pacific Living Properties also strive to promote sustainable living practices in the communities in which their residents live and work. They are committed to reducing the ecological footprint of their communities and creating sustainable living environments. Through a commitment to eco-friendly practices, residents enjoy better health and a healthier planet when living at a Pacific Living Properties community. The communities are committed to the Be Green program which actively pursues creating healthier environments while reducing overall environmental impact. They work with local government, universities, non-profits and the private sector to help create sustainable lifestyles and business practices to protect our environment. The Pacific Living Community solar-powered headquarters is equipped with a rooftop 10,200 watt photo-voltaic solar energy generating system, which is 100% noise and emissions-free, producing 15,161 kWh of electricity per year. Pacific Living Properties is continually looking for opportunities to incorporate solar and other renewable energy solutions into their offices and apartment communities. And Pacific Living Communities promotes its Green Actions for Green Benefits from various energy efficiency and conservation initiatives, providing its residents with a listing of the benefits they receive from the Green Actions that Pacific Living Communities pursues on their behalf. One of these benefits includes a carbon offsetting program with Carbonfund.org, which helps Pacific Living Properties to offset operational emissions that cannot be eliminated by supporting Carbonfund.org’s energy efficiency, renewable energy and reforestation projects that help to reduce greenhouse gases. Pacific Living Communities also provides suggestions and recommendations to its residents about ways they can conserve and contribute to environmentally sustainable living. Their site advises that “small changes in your everyday actions can save you money, improve your health and meaningfully reduce your environmental impact”, and provides ways to conserve water, energy, reduce waste and “buy and clean green”. Learn more about the green living initiatives and welcoming communities at Pacific Living Properties, and take advantage of their “fall into savings” $100 off any new rental special offer through November 30th.