Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

Back to School with ‘Be Energy Smart’

August 26th, 2014

Teachers are assigned.
Lunches are made.
Backpacks are zipped.
And ‘Be Energy Smart’ kits are packed!

Global Green USA’s NOLA Wise crew is getting ready for a busy first semester teaching 6th grade science classes about being Energy Smart, and they have some back-to-school energy tips for all!

Be Energy Smart Global Green USA

  1. Change ALL of your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) – or better yet, LEDs. 
    • LED bulbs use less than ¼ of the amount of energy used by an incandescent light bulb PLUS they can last up to 25x longer!  This means the cost to light the bulb is lower and you don’t have to purchase as many, saving you money and saving waste from the landfill (CoRR will thank you for that, too!).
  2. Replace your showerhead with a low-flow model. 
    • This will save energy by reducing the amount of hot water used in the shower.  It will also of course save water, so it’s basically like double savings!
    • Look for the EPA WaterSense label and you’ll be sure to reduce water use from that fixture by 20%.
  3. Add low-flow aerators to your kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. 
    • This is another way to save both energy and water.
    • Again, look for the EPA WaterSense label on faucets and accessories.
  4. Get your HVAC systems tuned up. 
    • Just like a car, air conditioning and heating units should be tuned up each season to make sure that everything is running smoothly.  A CoolSavers A/C tune-up can increase the efficiency of your air conditioning unit by 30%.
  5. Change your HVAC filter at LEAST twice a year. 
    • A clogged filter will prevent energy-intensive conditioned air from getting to you.  Replacing filters with new, clean ones every six months will keep your HVAC systems from working harder than they should, therefore saving energy and money.  If you run your system more often or have severe allergies, you may consider changing your filter more frequently.
    • A filter whistle can be attached to the filter and will alert you when it is ready to be changed.

New Orleans 6th grade science teachers interested in having the ‘Be Energy Smart’ program in their classroom should contact Monica Rowand at mrowand@globalgreen.org.

Big Win for Energy Efficiency in Los Angeles

August 13th, 2014

LosAngeles EE

After years in the making, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) approved new energy efficiency targets for the City that will save Los Angeles 50% more energy than previous targets.  These targets will allow LADWP’s 3.9 million customers to immediately start saving money on their utility bills, and will act as a model for national action on energy efficiency.

Global Green USA’s policy team testified in support of the proposal, and helped gather support from key stakeholders to stand in favor of the proposal as well. We have long advocated for energy efficiency to be the first strategy for saving energy, as it is the cheapest, easiest, and cleanest option. For years, California has been a leader in approving bold energy efficiency targets; this forward thinking has saved residents billions of dollars and avoided millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

However for much of this time, LADWP’s investment in energy efficiency has lagged behind other California utilities. This all changed in 2012 when, under the leadership of David Jacot, LADWP doubled its investment in energy efficiency, and set a goal to save 10% of their current energy use by 2020.  Through ongoing analysis since 2012, LADWP was able to prove that the utility could in fact reach 15% savings by 2020. On August 5th, the Board of Commissioners approved this ambitious target. Commission President Mel Levine declared that he had never seen more people testify on an any issue than they did on the new energy efficiency target, and every piece of testimony was in favor of the proposal.

Achieving a 15% target by 2020 will cost $151 million per year, one-half to one-fourth the cost of a new power plant. Energy efficiency savings on this level would also create an estimated 22,000 jobs by 2033, more jobs than any other energy industry. In the long term, it will also save the city’s residents $775 million in energy bills.

With a growing population and many more days of extreme heat ahead, this decision could not have come sooner. Increasing our energy efficiency translates to cleaner air, immediate savings for Angelenos on their utility bills, and increased comfort.  We’re proud to continue to work with Los Angeles on rethinking how we use energy, and on turning these energy efficiency targets into programs that deliver results.

 

Learning to Live in Your Microclimate

June 24th, 2014

Global Green Microclimates

A microclimate can be as small as a few square feet—or as large as a few square miles. From your neighborhood to your living room, pay attention to trends in temperature, sunshine, and airflow throughout the day.

When does it heat up and cool down?

Tightly close doors and windows as soon as it starts to heat up (could be as early as 5 or 6am). Open them up again for cool air and ventilation when the heat breaks or the breeze picks up.

Do your windows get direct sunlight?

If so, keep them closed and covered during the day. Blinds, shutters, trees, and awnings, especially to the south and west, can significantly reduce heat gain in your home. If you live in a hot, desert area, consider landscaping for more shade cover or installing solar screens.

Which rooms get hottest?

Heat rises, so you’ll feel it upstairs. Plus, rooms packed with heat-generating appliances – like ovens and dishwashers – can also become uncomfortable. Try to use these appliances minimally during the day, and wait to do dishes, laundry, or take hot showers until the sun goes down.

Where do you spend most of your time?

Ceiling or standing fans can keep you cool and comfortable in your office, bedroom, or living room – and you won’t need to air condition the whole house.

Other Tips & Quick Fixes to Stay Cool

  • Switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs:  They not only use ¼ of the energy and last up to 10x longer, but CFLs also emit 75% less heat.
  • Still, make sure to turn off lights – and appliances – when not in use.
  • Install a smart or programmable thermostat so you’re not cooling an empty house.
  • Make your bed with lightweight and breathable organic cotton sheets.
  • Stay hydrated!

 For more green tips and info, follow us on Twitter @globalgreen.

7 Topics to Tackle This Earth Day – And Every Day

April 22nd, 2014

1. Food Access

Global Green USA Food Access Food Deserts(click image to enlarge)

The big picture: 

Food Desert: A low-income census tract where a significant number of residents live more than one mile from the nearest supermarket.

23.5 million Americans live in food deserts—areas that are often inundated with liquor stores and fast food restaurants, but offer little or no access to fresh produce.

Urban agriculture presents an opportunity to take food access issues into the hands of residents. From home gardens to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), urban farming can be an effective method of bringing fresh and healthy produce into food deserts.

Global Green’s role:

Ever noticed those barren patches of land in the planter strips in front of houses? Our Green Urbanism team saw them all over urban areas, and reimagined the dead space as productive areas for growing fresh food. This Saturday, we’ll be out in Elmhurst, a neighborhood in East Oakland, building planter boxes in these spaces.

The planter boxes are all designed to fit in these spaces and be low-cost and easy to assemble. This pilot project is part of a larger effort to develop a series of pre-cut planter kits that can be quickly installed by residents of food deserts.

Take action:

Take matters into your own hands and build your own planter boxes! The designs presented here are all made with 2x4s, 4x4s and untreated plywood, and they can easily be customized to fit your location’s constraints. Be sure that the structure does not encroach on the sidewalk or impede pedestrian access. The square foot gardening method is a proven, effective method of food production in urban situations.

PlanterBox Global Green(click image to englarge)

2. Food Waste

Global Green Food Waste Infographic(click image to enlarge)

The big picture: 

Food Scrap Emissions: Every year, Americans send 34 million tons of food scraps to the landfill – 95% of all the food scraps produced. According to EPA data, diverting those food scraps from the landfill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to shutting down seven coal-fired power plants with no loss of energy.

After construction and demolition debris, food scraps are the largest municipal waste stream in the country, typically accounting for 30-50% of a city’s landfilled waste. When food scraps go to the landfill, they release methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than CO2.

Composting not only diverts food scraps from landfills, but also returns nutrients to soil and helps soils, especially sandy soils, retain water.

Global Green’s role:

To help increase food scrap recovery, Global Green USA assisted the NYC Mayor’s Office with the Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge and hosted an influential workshop session with several NYC city officials to discuss the nearby Massachusetts DEP and the Connecticut DEQ food scrap landfill bans, which require major generators of food scraps to implement recovery programs.  Less than a year later, NYC passed a citywide food scrap landfill ban.

Currently, we’re working with city agencies to implement composting in multi-unit residences in the San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles areas. Get in touch if you live in any of these cities, and you would like your residential building to be included in the pilot!

Take action:

Beginner:

  • Start composting your food scraps at your home or business!
  • If your city provides curbside food scrap collection, review what is accepted and make sure you are composting as much as possible (and not putting anything in that doesn’t belong).
  • If you aren’t sure if composting is available in your town, call your waste hauler and find out if they can offer it to your home or business.
  • If you live in a multi-family building, tell your building managers you would like them to implement composting.
  • When you go out to your favorite restaurants and grocery stores, ask them if they are composting. Customer feedback can make a huge difference!

Intermediate

  • Wherever you work, it’s likely that you are generating some waste. Explore ways to increase waste diversion at your workplace, or ways to purchase more recyclable or compostable materials for use by your customers.
  • If you have a yard, consider composting in your backyard or with a worm bin.
  • Ask at your kids’ schools and find out if they compost in the cafeteria, and if they are using compostable/recyclable lunch trays.

Advanced

  • If you live in a multi-unit building, volunteer to be the composting coordinator and help your fellow residents divert their food scraps.
  • If your city doesn’t have composting now, call your local policymakers and tell them that you want to see your food scraps turned into energy and soil.

3. Bike Share

Global Green USA Bike Share For All (click image to enlarge)

The big picture: 

Bike share programs encourage more bicycling and promote a healthy lifestyle by engaging users in an enjoyable, low-impact and active form of physical activity. 

Bike share is an innovative transportation option that enhances urban mobility through the shared use of bikes. It’s a concept that has been deployed in over 500 cities across the world, and has been a successful way to get people out of their cars and address the problems of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Green’s role:

Global Green has been working closely with the City of Santa Monica over the past two years to develop a bike share program. In the past year, there has been a growing interest in creating a regional bike share system that is integrated throughout Los Angeles County.  Metro Los Angeles (MTA) is currently undertaking a feasibility study to better understand how a regional system could be implemented in a sprawling county with 88 municipalities.

We will continue to work with the City of Santa Monica, and with the County and City of Los Angeles and MTA, to help create an integrated, equitable, and successful program for Southern California. Follow fun news and updates on Twitter #BikeShareForAll.

Take Action:

Find out where bike share programs exist. If your city has one, go use it! If you’ve got a bike at home, pull it out of the garage and use it to replace one car trip today.

Ready to take it step further? Commit to going car-free at least one day per week, and explore what alternative transportation options your city has to offer!

4. Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency

Global Green Renewable Energy Efficiency(click image to enlarge)

The big picture:

Shifting to a cleaner, more efficient energy economy is crucial in the fight against climate change.

Climate change is no longer a distant threat – we are already feeling its impacts across the country and the world. Last year alone, there were 11 different weather and climate disaster events with estimated losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. Taken together, these 11 events resulted in over $110 billion in estimated damages, which would make it the second-costliest year on record.

Global Green’s role:

Global Green is working across the county to support programs and policy that promote clean energy and energy efficiency.

In New Orleans, we developed the NOLA Wise energy efficiency program as a method of helping homeowners finance home energy efficiency retrofits, and our Holy Cross Project serves as a practical demonstration of the benefits of utilizing clean energy (solar and geothermal) and energy efficiency.

In California, we’re working to implement the first statewide energy efficiency upgrade program in existing buildings through AB 758. In Los Angeles, we’re pushing the city to support a comprehensive clean energy policy. So far, we’ve helped the city implement the nation’s largest feed-in-tariff program at 100 MW, which is on track to displace 2.7 million tons of GHG emissions from the environment annually.

Take action:

  • Install Energy Star appliances in your home; they use 10-50% less energy and water than normal appliances.
  • Consider switching to renewable energy. See which tax credits/incentives you qualify for that may make renewables such as solar PV more affordable for you.
  • Change your behavior:  Reprogram your thermostat, turn off your lights when you leave the room, unplug electronics that aren’t being used and more.

5. Outdoor Water Use

Global Green Water wise (click image to enlarge)

The big picture:

30% of water consumption in households is devoted to outdoor water use, and as much as 50% is wasted due to poor watering methods.

Shortening showers and installing low-flow fixtures definitely helps conserve water, but shifting your focus outdoors can also make a big difference! Upgrading watering and irrigation systems or installing water catchments is a great place to start.

Global Green’s role:

Global Green has developed the Water Wise program in New Orleans as a means to address water management. Our team hosts community Water Wise workshops to showcase ‘do-it-yourself’ rainwater management practices. The Holy Cross Project model sustainable village also uses serves as a practical example by employing native vegetation as a means to reduce water needed for irrigation and collecting rainwater in a rain barrel to be used for outdoor watering.

Take action:

Irrigation

  • Detect and repair all leaks in irrigation systems and other watering methods.
  • Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best).
  • Set sprinklers to water only the lawn or garden – not the street, house, or sidewalk.
  • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
  • Collect rain water and use it to water your garden.

Vegetation

  • Next time you add or replace any vegetation in your yard, choose a native plant that 
thrives with the area’s natural water cycles.
  • Keep shrubs, trees, and garden plants mulched to reduce evapotranspiration from soil surface and reduce pests and weeks. Pine straw mulch is best; avoid cypress mulch.

Miscellaneous

  • Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and steps rather than hosing them off.
  • Cover your spa or pool to reduce evapotranspiration.
  • Never leave hoses or faucets running.

6. Food Choices

Global Green Food Choices Infographic(click image to enlarge)

The big picture: 

Livestock contributes 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Food Emissions: A “high consumption diet” (33% animal products) can be responsible for about 3x more greenhouse gas emissions than a “low consumption diet” (10% animal products).  Learn more.

Food Water Footprint: Fruits, veggies, and grains have a relatively low water footprint when compared to meat. Check out these numbers – as reported by Treehugger:

  • Beef: 2,500-5,000 gallons
  • Pork: 1,630 gallons
  • Chicken: 815 gallons
  • Rice: 403 gallons
  • Tofu: 244 gallons
  • Avocado: 220 gallons
  • Wheat Bread: 154 gallons
  • Corn: 107 gallons
  • Bananas: 102 gallons
  • Apples: 83 gallons
  • Cucumber: 28 gallons
  • Tomatoes: 22 gallons
  • Lettuce: 15 gallons

Global Green’s role:

To help spread awareness about the environmental benefits of vegetarian and plant-based eating, Global Green served organic, vegetarian cuisine at our high-profile Pre-Oscar Party and featured renown artist and vegan Moby.

Take action:

Eat local and vegetarian on Earth Day, and make a concerted effort to reduce your meat consumption throughout the year. One great way to stay on track is by choosing one – or more – days a week to go meat-free! Meatless Monday is a popular one, but here’s a bigger challenge: Try a “flextarian diet” and only eat meat on the weekends or special occasions!

7. Green Schools & Education

Green Schools Infographic Global Green(click image to enlarge)

The big picture:

We spend more money on energy costs for schools in the United States than we do on textbooks and computers combined. 

Green schools offer natural daylightling, better ventilation, improved acoustics, and healthier building and cleaning materials. They also reduce utility costs by 20% on average—and that means a big reduction in carbon emissions as well. What’s more, green schools help students learn first-hand the value of living in a sustainable environment.

Global Green’s role:

We have been working on greening schools for more than a decade, helping more than 55,000 students and teachers thrive in high-performance schools that save money and improve test scores. In California and New Orleans, we have created model green schools, and our annual Green School Makeover Competition is helping more schools make green upgrades.

In addition, we partnered with EnergySmart to pilot an in-class education program that provides a kit with energy efficient fixtures for practical demonstrations on saving energy. As part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Schools Challenge, Global Green also partnered with Hynes Charter School in New Orleans to teach a class of third graders to become ‘Recycling Rangers’ and help their school improve its recycling program.

Take action:

Get to work greening your school and incorporating green living fundamentals into your day-to-day home routines.

Check out our checklists:

 

Want more? Check out our new Pinterest boards for ideas and inspiration.  Join the Earth Day conversation online and tell us how you #domoregreen!

Help us continue to tackle these issues year-round: Give to Global Green.

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Environmental Groups Urge A New Los Angeles Utility Leader to Commit to Sustainability

January 30th, 2014

By the Policy & Legislative Affairs Department

LADWP

Ron Nichols officially steps down this week as General Manager (GM) of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) after leading the organization for three years. As Mayor Garcetti considers candidates to replace Nichols, Global Green USA, as part of the Los Angeles Clean Energy Coalition, sent a letter to the Mayor urging him to choose a leader that can successfully commit the utility to climate change mitigation, increased renewable energy, and an era of openness, stability and transparency.

LADWP is the largest publicly owned municipality in the United States.  It provides water and electricity to almost 4 million people spread over 450 miles. Unfortunately, the utility gets almost 40% of its electricity from dirty coal, and until recently, has been slow to embrace energy efficiency or renewables. That’s why environmental groups started the Los Angeles Clean Energy Coalition, with goals of pushing the utility to invest in clean energy, to eliminate coal, and to make Los Angeles a model of sustainability. The Coalition is made up of six organizations – Global Green USA, Sierra Club, The Los Angeles Business Council, Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), and Environment California.

The LADWP’s GM has tremendous influence over the utilities decisions and investments, and the Coalition wants to ensure that the next leader shares the Coalition’s values.  A successful candidate should share our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving away from fossil fuels, especially considering Los Angeles is particularly vulnerable to climate change. This includes support for both renewable energy (including 1,200 MW of local solar and a 600 MW FIT) and energy efficiency (including 15% energy savings by 2020). The LADWP has set goals to meet state-mandated targets as well as committing to be coal free by 2025, but we believe even more ambitious commitments would advance Los Angeles towards a comprehensive clean energy plan, while also promoting job growth and energy savings to local communities.

The Coalition also recommended that the Mayor consider diversity when hiring a new GM, and look for someone that will bring flexibility and an entrepreneurial spirit to the position. On that same note, the new GM should have utility sector experience, and should be able to make a commitment to stay in the job for at least five years. Finally, we expressed hope that a new GM would be committed to reform, and shepherd the city into an age of transparency and open communication between the utility and its customers.

We expect the Mayor to choose and announce the new GM in the very near future, and we look forward to meeting with him or her to discuss how we can work together towards a more sustainable Los Angeles.

In the House: NOLA City Hall Presentation

June 30th, 2012
beth_camille_city_council_presentation

Beth Galante (in red) and Camille Lopez (photo courtesy of the City)

Our New Orleans team was invited to speak before the City Council at City Hall this week about our energy efficiency efforts and work weatherizing homes for families with our NOLA Wise program. Their presentation can be viewed on the City’s website (June 28 session).

Green Building Win for California

May 31st, 2012

solar_panel_roof_installWe heard great news for green building today: the California Energy Commission approved energy efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings. Beginning in January 2014, building energy efficiency standards will be 25 percent more efficient than current standards for residential construction and 30 percent better for nonresidential construction.

Long-term win: homeowners will save thousands on gas and electricity costs over time. Short-term win: this move is expected to create an estimated 3,500 building jobs in its first year of implementation.

“California is again at the forefront of the fight to stem climate change and Global Green supported this effort by the CEC to strengthen building codes for new construction,” said Mary Lueveno, director of our Policy and Legislative Affairs department. “We are also leading the charge to ensure that our existing buildings are as energy efficient as possible through the implementation of the Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings Law (AB 758) at the CEC.”

Weekly Rewind: March 26-April 1

April 2nd, 2012

ruffalo_colbert_reportGreen news stories we’re still talking about from last week.

Headline of the Week: “Forest scientists pit trees against each other in fight for survival” from Grist. Sounds like a summer blockbuster! (Grist story)

Video Clip of the Week: Mark Ruffalo shined “The Colbert Report,” where he discussed the dangers of fracking, his role as an activist, and more. (Post with video clip)

Good Grief — What An Awful Thief: Someone stole a statue of the Lorax from the California estate of Dr. Seuss. (LA Times story)

Capping It: The EPA proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution for future power plants. (ReportGrist story)

Field Report from Florida: Beth Galante and Camille Lopez attended the Energy Efficiency Global Forum to discuss our work to bring energy-efficiency to New Orleans with our NOLA Wise program. (Our post)

Money Matters: An “Economist” story revealed that by 2100, the cost of climate change will be nearly $2 trillion annually. (Economist story)

Green Screen News: “The Island President” documentary on sea level rise and climate change in the Maldives received lots of praise as it began showing in select cities. (TV interview with former President Nasheed of the Maldives)

Heart-Less, in a Good Way: GM Foundation stopped funding for the Heartland Institute, the group of climate change deniers. (LA Times story)

Concern on the West Coast: The San Onofre plant in Southern California was closed indefinitely following the recent breakdown of the large steam generators, and the release of radioactive steam. (Our post)

Leave the Hard Hats Home: NOLA Wise Lunch and Learn

December 21st, 2011

bl_nolawise_lunchlearn2_dec2011

To support our NOLA Wise program to help homeowners in New Orleans green and weatherize their homes, we hosted a lunch-and-learn event for contractors on December 20 at Pravda in the French Quarter (a restaurant owned by one of our existing contractors for NOLA Wise). Ryan Smith of Green Coast Enterprises, one of our partners for NOLA Wise, led a discussion on troubleshooting some of the initial concerns of the contractors.

Facing the Cold: Energy Savings at Home

September 23rd, 2011

green_window2It’s the first day of fall and the start of cooler days for many regions across the country. Here are a few tips to help you save energy — and keep heating costs down.

  • Maintain your heater by regularly changing the air filter.
  • Seal the leaks in your ductwork with mastic, available at most hardware stores.
  • Seal air leaks from windows, doors, fireplaces, recessed lights, drain lines, vents, and electrical outlets with weather-stripping and caulk.
  • Install high-quality insulation in walls and attics to reduce heater usage.
  • Keep the thermostat down a few degrees and get a programmable thermostat to reduce heater overuse.

More tips on home energy savings and weatherproofing from our Build It Back Green team and from the Energy Star site.