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.
If you own a dog, you know how important doggy poop bags are. You never want to be caught with a neighbor watching you as your dog does its business and you are left with no bag. Not only do you feel like a bad citizen, but it is illegal and where I live and can cost you a $100 fine. Washington, D.C. passed a 5 cent tax on plastic bags this past January that reduced the number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. While significantly reducing plastic waste and encouraging the use of reusable bags, the tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue to clean up the Anacostia River. You may ask what the D.C. tax has to do with doggie poop bags? Now that most people including myself are diligently using reusable bags at stores, my plastic bag supply is down and doggie poop bags are more important to me than ever. Carbonfund.org’s partner Intek sent me a sample of their GoECOlife™ Biodegradable Doggy Waste Bags and I couldn’t be happier. Not only are they just what I need for my dog’s healthy digestive system, they are biodegradable or compostable so I can feel good about my purchase & clean up after my dog’s waste. Intek has been a partner of ours since 2009 and to date has certified over half a dozen products, such as the  GoECOlife™ SOHO Ultra-Quiet paper shredder, CarbonFree®.
CityRyde is helping lead the way to cleaner, healthier cities by putting the right incentives in the market for biking. In a guest post below, CityRyde explains how they are turning bike trips into cash. In 2009, CityRyde, a Carbonfund.org Partner, launched Spark—the world’s first off-the-shelf software solution designed to manage bike sharing systems at universities, corporate campuses and small municipalities. Now our newest software application built upon Spark's infrastructure named Inspire has arrived! Inspire turns bike share rides into cash through carbon credits. Inspire has been a work in progress by the CityRyde team over the last two years, backed by a robust carbon methodology which will remain in the voluntary market for now but scale into the compliance market by 2012. Inspire will undoubtedly become the gold standard for carbon credit tracking in sustainable transportation worldwide. Watch the audio/video tour of Inspire: www.inspiremobility.com/the-software A carbon credit is a financial instrument—a commodity—representing a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One carbon credit represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent in another GHG. The worldwide carbon credit market exceeded $120 billion dollars in value in 2009 and explosive growth is anticipated into 2010 and beyond. CityRyde Inspire integrates with existing bike sharing backends to access the data needed to process Inspire’s proprietary algorithms and certify the carbon credits. Every time a bike share ride is proven to have displaced a carbon-emitting mode of transportation a portion of a carbon credit is generated and collected by CityRyde Inspire. Due to the stringent and all-inclusive measures, Inspire ensures in its data point aggregation methodologies that bike share operators will be able to instantly turn the carbon credits generated from daily program operations into cash. And bike rides are merely the first application—Inspire will scale into other sustainable transportation verticals into the future such as electric scooter, car sharing, etc. The possibilities are endless... Jason Meinzer, CityRyde COO & Co-Founder states, "Funding a bike share program is a recurring barrier to entry. Creating an additional revenue stream through the sale of carbon offset credits via Inspire will help alleviate such a financial burden, and make bike sharing in most any deployment environment that much more realistic and sustainable." Contact CityRyde now at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more…e.g., how Inspire could bring in close to one million dollars in carbon credits through a bike share program such as the Velib in Paris.