CarbonFree® Events Partner Paul Mitchell Schools takes its best effort to make its Owners Summit as sustainable as possible twice a year, every year. In addition to calculating and offsetting the summit’s footprint, the hair design program completes a comprehensive checklist when planning the event to reduce waste, save energy and change behavior. This last part–changing behavior–helps the event create a legacy of sustainable behavior that extends beyond the event itself by changing the way its attendees live, its suppliers operate and its facilities function. Without revealing their entire checklist, I want to highlight a few of the broadly applicable sustainability practices any event can borrow from Paul Mitchell Schools: 1.       Print paper materials on recycled paper–if possible using vegetable-based inks. Also, reduce paper usage by, e.g., printing double-sided. This isn’t as trivial as it sounds. Citigroup found that if each of its employees saved only one sheet of paper per week by printing double-sided, the company could save over $700,000 per year. 2.       Make visible reduction, reuse and recycle services for people to use. Make it easy for your participants to make the right decisions and they will. Many events now label their trash receptacles “landfill” to drive the point home. 3.       Ask your caterer to minimize the number of disposables. Ask for non-disposable plates, silverware, napkins and coffee mugs if possible or use recyclables. 4.       Inform attendees on going green & ask them to participate. If you make this a priority, so will your attendees. Provide attendees tips on reducing their own carbon footprint and/or an option for your attendees to support carbon reduction projects. Carbonfund.org provides tips on our Save Energy page. 5.       Use left over paper as packing material to cushion boxes being shipped to and from your office. Be creative with the way you cut down on waste. Please share your own tips in the comment section below.
Friday, 10 September 2010 16:52

China Urges Collaboration in Solving Climate Change

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China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, said today that the international community needs to work together to overcome the challenges of climate change, working within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/Copenhagen) and Kyoto Protocol while respecting the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." Li was referring to China having signed on earlier this year to the Copenhagen Accord, which essentially calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels. China has said it plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth, or "carbon intensity," by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. India also signed on to the Accord and set an intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, excluding its agricultural sector. The United States has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020 (a target that is not tied to economic growth or carbon intensity) from 2005 levels. Li made his remarks in conjunction with briefing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in Beijing on the country's present policies and measures to reduce energy consumption, develop green jobs and promote environmental protection. China will host a session of the follow-up U.N. climate change talks in Tianjin this October. Currently, China’s energy consumption is growing faster than any other country’s, but on a per-person basis, China still consumes far less energy than other leading economies such as the U.S. To produce more clean energy and mitigate climate impact, China, already the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, aims to produce 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Together with wind power and biomass, renewable energy in China is expected to contribute about eight percent, or double the current level, of electricity generation in less than a decade. However, improvements have come with substantial costs. Upgrading the country's electricity grid alone cost China last year about $45 billion.
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 15:10

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Footprint as a Renter

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There is a lot of talk out there about how to “green” your home, but what if you rent? For instance, you cannot replace your windows with more efficient ones without your landlord’s permission. However, there are still steps you can take as a tenant to reduce the carbon footprint of your home.
  1. The most basic thing you can do is reduce water usage. According to the EPA, we consume about 2 to 5 gallons per day when we brush with the water running continuously. Of course, it takes energy to pump and heat water, so conserving water makes a difference.
  2. For paper goods, minimize their use but also choose recycled paper. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if every household in the nation swapped just one roll of traditional toilet paper for one made with recycled paper, the effort could save about 424,000 trees.
  3. Opt for energy-efficient alternatives to the traditional lightbulb, e.g. LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.
  4. Install faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads. Aerators break up streams of water with air. You get the same water pressure but reduce the actual volume of water.
  5. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. "Vampire" energy loss accounts for approximately 5-10 percent of residential energy use in the U.S.
After you’ve done this, encourage your landlord or management company to make additional leaps. Ask them to replace old appliances with Energy Star rated ones, caulk or insulate, and install programmable thermostats that will end up saving energy and money.
Friday, 03 September 2010 13:00

U.S. Affirms Plans to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The Obama administration today reiterated its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and will rely on EPA regulation if Congress does not legislate to curb emissions. “I think EPA will be an important piece of the total equation, and there will be legislative progress also, though I cannot tell you when it’s going to be,” said U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern at a press conference following further international climate talks in Geneva. “I’m in no sense whatsoever writing off legislation over time, and I’m quite sure the president isn’t either,” he added. The administration might achieve an emissions reduction of 17 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by first implementing EPA regulations planned for next year that would set national limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Growing up, we heard our parents say this to us as they tucked us into bed at night. Bed bugs were as mythical as the monster under our beds. Actually, bed bugs are real–these parasitic insects bite and in extreme cases, can cause anaphylactic shock. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “Treatment, including dismantling furniture and ripping up rugs, is expensive. Rather than actively hunting for bugs, hotels and landlords often deny having them.” So what CAN you do to protect yourself? Carbonfund.org partner, GBS Enterprises offers affordable mattress protectors in a variety of sizes. If you’re sleeping away from home–whether in a college dorm, at sleepaway camp, or in a hotel–GBS mattress protectors will protect you from potential bed bugs, allergens, dust mites and incontinence that may be lingering on the mattresses. GBS mattress protectors are also CarbonFree® Certified. 5 scary bed bug facts:
  • Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed only on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They are also known to feed on bats or household pets.
  • Bed bugs are 6-10 mm in length and take on the appearance of an apple seed. Immature ones appear colorless. Bed bugs develop a reddish brown color and become easier to see after they feed.
  • Bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but getting rid of them from a home is tough.
  • The tiny insects avoid light and attack in the middle of the night. They hide behind headboards, light switch covers, or in mattress seams during the day.
  • Because an adult bed bug can survive for months without a blood meal, bed bug infestations sometimes require multiple exterminations.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 17:53

An Itchy Problem—More CO2 May Produce More Poison Ivy

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"It started with a slightly puffy eyelid in early summer... The next morning, I couldn't ignore my son's symptoms when he appeared with two eyes swollen to slits, a bloated face and an itchy rash raging over his body." Laura Hambleton, writing in The Washington Post, notes that carbon dioxide—the levels of which have increased in our atmosphere by over 20 percent since 1960—may be feeding an increase in poison ivy. Jacqueline Mohan, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology, has been tracking poison ivy since 1998. "Tree seedlings grew 8 to 12 percent more, with more C02," Mohan says. "Poison ivy grew 149 percent more. Poison ivy is getting bigger, faster and nastier." Mohan observes, "Vines are particularly adapted to take advantage of higher CO2 in the atmosphere," as they "can increase their rate of photosynthesis to make more green leafy tissue." By contrast, trees have to devote more energy "to creating woody, non-photosynthetic support tissues such as trunks and branches, which do not lead to further increases in photosynthesis." You may also be delighted that pests like ticks and bark beetles are on the rise from warmer temperatures. Check out this earlier blog posting.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 12:02

Video Spurs Action with Simple Message on Climate Change

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This is a great video on why we all should take action on global warming. Alex Bogusky, who was a principal and co-chairman of the award-winning ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, launched this video on the web to engage more people by simplifying the message about climate change. If you haven't seen the video yet, you can play it here. In Pollution=Bad, Clean=Good, he urges us to stop debating climate change and start doing something about it. After all, taking positive steps will result in a cleaner environment and reduce the threats from climate change.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 10:28

Gliffy.com Hosted Carbon Neutrally with Carbonfund.org

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The following is a guest post from Matthew E. Porter, CEO of our partner Contegix, which provides high-level managed hosting solutions for enterprise applications and infrastructure. Great partners and customers do more than just refer other potential customers and pay their bills. They provide honest feedback, challenge you, and help make you to be better than you were the day before. Contegix has the fortunate situation of having great partners and customers who amaze us and do this everyday. Gliffy, a web-based diagram and flow chart editor, and a few others are some that have been pushing our sustainability goals. By the very nature of our business, we consume a large amount of power and do so from different sources. Our data centers have multiple power feeds and utilize diesel generators in case of complete power loss from utilities. In order to ensure operational status and efficiency, the generators need to be tested on a regular basis which amounts to consuming diesel fuel. We already take steps to minimize our carbon footprints, such as using low voltage CPUs, recycling all materials, and reimbursing employees for mass transit. In addition, it’s more efficient, and thus, arguable more sustainable to utilize large data centers, such as ours, rather than each company building small scale server room. Yet, we wanted to start experimenting with the next step in this effort, and Gliffy was happy to help. Enter Carbonfund.org. Carbonfund.org allows individual and companies to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing credits to invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. This is especially useful for companies like Contegix where we are very limited in our ability to reduce. There are a few points that make Carbonfund.org unique. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting global warming. As part of their commitment, they work directly with certification bodies to ensure the quality of their offsets. More importantly, they provide transparency in terms of their finances and their offset projects, including education. Using Carbonfund.org, we wanted to offset the entire footprint of Gliffy’s managed hosted internet infrastructure at Contegix. This would include all aspects and resources of the service. Some of these are dedicated solely to Gliffy. Many others, such as core border routers and the switching fabric, are used by all customers. In addition, we had to compensate for the managed service portion of Gliffy’s infrastrucutre. In essences, this meant assigning a percentage of our people’s carbon footprint to the delivery of their service. This included everyone—from engineer to office staff to management, to the Assigning values for the shared infrastructure and people required calculating the usage on a per customer level. In reality, it uses many of the same work we perform (and all businesses probably should be performing) around measuring, managing, and forecasting growth and profitability for shared resources. This is added to the specific measurable environmental footprint data, such as average distance of employees from Contegix and facility sizes. These numbers were proportionally assigned to the Gliffy as a customer.

Carbon sources related to Gliffy.com server hosting

Factoring in the shared infrastructure and people carbon footprints ended up being the most important part. The dedicated infrastructure accounted for 39.2% of the carbon footprint. This left the remainder—a significant portion—for the shared. It also helped point us to where the best chances for natural reduction, rather than merely offsetting, are. Over the next 6 months, we will begin rolling this out to our existing customer base as an option for their hosting. New infrastructure and customers can start doing this now. If your organization is interested in a carbon offset hosting solution or wants to discuss in-depth how we offset Gliffy’s footprint, we would be more than happy to help you with this goal! Click here to contact Contegix.