Archive for June, 2009

Cheaper Electric Car?



ZENN Motor Company, a leading developer of zero

emission transportation solutions, is pleased to announce it will offer the 2009 All-Electric

ZENN LSV (low-speed vehicle) for an unprecedented price of $9,995 under its Ambassador

Program through a combination of an innovative product Ambassador rebate program and a

one time federal tax credit. This offer is available through June 30th, 2009.

The ZENN creates excitement wherever it goes. In exchange for their efforts to promote the

ZENN in their communities and sharing their experiences with the Company, Ambassadors

are provided with a $4,750 rebate that can be immediately applied at point-of-purchase.

Ambassadors who sign up for this limited-time program at point of purchase will receive a

tool kit that includes a ZENN hat, ZENN t-shirt, and promotional literature. They will also

participate in online surveys and feedback questionnaires during the first three months of



The program’s pricing structure is as follows:

ZENN MSRP: $15,995

Ambassador Rebate: -$ 4,750

Total Purchase Price* $11,245

Less 10%Federal Tax Credit** -$1,250

Total Cost to Customer***: $9,995



*Please note the total purchase price does not include optional accessories, delivery fees or sales

taxes. **Actual Federal Tax credit may vary depending on individual tax situation. Federal Tax

Credit is based on 10% of total purchase price plus $1,250 in standard delivery fees.

***Total Cost to Customer includes both the Ambassador point of sale rebate and an estimated

amount for the federal tax credit incentive that the customer may be eligible for when filing their

income taxes. Cost to customer is net of taxes, delivery fees, and optional accessories.

Foreign Affairs :


June 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Sears Tower Going Green With $350 Million Renovation

by Bridgette Meinhold

sears tower, eco retrofit, renovation, upgrade, energy efficiency, upgrade, Chicago

Just like the Empire State Building, the famed Sears Tower in Chicago will be soon receiving some major eco upgrades to become more energy efficient. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is responsible for the upgrade plans as well as a brand new 50-story luxury hotel to be built right next to the tower. The eco upgrade will reduce energy consuption by 68,000,000 kWh per year or the equivalent of 50,000 barrels of crude oil. Costs for the renovation are estimated at $350 million dollars for tower, which will soon be renamed Willis Tower.

sears tower, eco retrofit, renovation, upgrade, energy efficiency, upgrade, Chicago

For 24 years, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world, and in less than 4 years the tower will be upgraded to use 80% less energy. This huge reduction in energy demand will be the result of many sustainability and energy efficiency projects like renewable energy, energy efficiency, and building systems management.

Improvements will include replacing all 16,000 single pane windows with more efficient, modern windows as well as updating the tower’s 104 high-speed elevators. Energy will be generated on site with the use of renewable energy technologies like wind turbines, photovoltaics and solar hot water heating. Green roofs will be added to reduce stormwater runoff and improve insulation, as well as add some beautiful roof-top viewing areas to see the amazing city skyline. Advanced lighting control systems, mechanical systems upgrades and more water efficient water fixtures will also be installed.

In addition to this gargantuan endeavor, a 50-story luxury hotel will be built by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture to compliment the tower. A new public plaza at the base of the tower as well as a large commercial space for shopping and restaurants will welcome visitors to the updated energy efficient building. The project will not only save a staggering amount of energy, but will also employ 3,600 people.

Inhabitat » Sears Tower Going Green With $350 Million Renovation

June 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

Move to the city and reduce your carbon footprint by 70% | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Study shows that moving to an urban environment may be the single greenest thing you can do.
Photo: CNT
If you’re working to reduce your carbon footprint and live in a rural or suburban area, perhaps you should consider moving to the city. It could reduce your transportation carbon emissions by 70 percent, according to data recently added to Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing and Transportation Affordability Index.
“Cities are more location-efficient – meaning key destinations are closer to where people live and work,” said Scott Bernstein, CNT’s president. “They require less time, money, fuel and greenhouse gas emissions for residents to meet their everyday travel needs … so residents of cities and compact communities generate less CO2 per household than people who live in more dispersed communities, like many suburbs.”
The CNT has created maps of 55 U.S. metropolitan areas including Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta, showing the amount of CO2 emitted per household from transportation. Households in urban centers generate roughly 0 to 5.1 metric tons, while rural households generate 8.6 metric tons and up.
The main reason for this is the availability of public transit as well as the walkability and bike-friendliness of neighborhoods. Living in the city, you’re far less likely to get into a car every time you need to run to the store for some milk or take your kids to the park. In rural areas, residents often have no choice.
Of course, your overall carbon footprint is made up of a lot more than just transportation. Other things that can play into the amount of carbon emissions your lifestyle emits including housing and your eating and shopping habits. You can calculate your carbon footprint with the easy-to-use calculator at

Move to the city and reduce your carbon footprint by 70% | MNN – Mother Nature Network

June 16, 2009 at 3:14 am Leave a comment

Coffee Has All-Natural Health Benefits

The good news is that coffee is finally back in good graces because it has been proven to have numerous health benefits that have just recently been discovered. Coffee, for the past several decades, has definitely gotten a bad rap because it was in a number of studies citing that it had bad health effects, when many of the participants in the studies were actually smokers so the results were skewed.

Right now, as you enjoy your daily cup of Joe, you can also rest assured that you are drinking a natural source of antioxidants, from the findings in a study by the University of Scranton. And what do antioxidants provide for your health? I am sure that you have heard how important it is to drink green tea and a glass of wine for all of the antioxidant benefits, but now recent news and media sources like MSNBC have proclaimed that coffee is actually one of the main beneficiaries of antioxidants for Americans.

The reason behind this is that it is the number one drink of choice by all Americans, so this is where you are all getting your antioxidant intake from. Antioxidants actually work to counteract the damage from free radicals in your body which can harm your cells and cause premature aging, as well as disease. It is completely comforting to know that as you are sipping your Java every day, you are also working to protect your body as a whole.

To conclude, I have to tell you that one of the most eco-friendly and delicious ways to enjoy your daily coffee drink is by using a French Press. This is actually a wonderful and natural way to enjoy your brew because there are no filters being used or discarded, and all you have to do is freshly grind your beans and steep them in boiling water to have a steaming cup of coffee in minutes!

My personal favorite is the Bodum 3 cup French Press, which is a personal size and completely convenient to use in your home or office. Regardless of the way that you choose to enjoy your Java, just know that it is a natural beverage that provides an astounding number of health benefits. I’ll drink to that!

This has been a guest post by Bethany North.  Way to go green blog does not imply any medical or health benefits other than the personal opinion of  Ms. North.  Thank you Bethany for the nice article.  Who doesn’t like a great cup of coffee?


Coffee Has All-Natural Health Benefits

June 16, 2009 at 3:11 am Leave a comment

Does Using A Microwave Really Save Energy?

Dear EarthTalk: How does the microwave compare in energy use, say, to using a gas or electric stove burner to heat water for a cup of tea? — Tempie, Dexter, MI

The short answer is that it depends upon several variables, including the price of electricity versus gas, and the relative efficiency of the appliances involved. Typically, though, a microwave would be slightly more efficient at heating water than the flame on a gas stove, and should use up a little less energy. The reason: The microwave’s heat waves are focused on the liquid (or food) inside, not on heating the air or container around it, meaning that most if not all of the energy generated is used to make your water ready. 
Given this logic, it is hard to believe that a burner element on an electric stovetop would be any better, but an analysis by Home Energy Magazine found otherwise. The magazine’s researchers discovered that an electric burner uses about 25 percent less electricity than a microwave in boiling a cup of water. 
That said, the difference in energy saved by using one method over another is negligible: Choosing the most efficient process might save a heavy tea drinker a dollar or so a year. “You’d save more energy over the year by replacing one light bulb with a CFL [compact fluorescent lightbulb] or turning off the air conditioner for an hour—not an hour a day, one hour at some point over the whole year,” says consumer advocate Michael Bluejay. 
Although a microwave may not save much energy or money over a stove burner when heating water, it can be much more energy-efficient than a traditional full-size oven when it comes to cooking food. For starters, because their heat waves are concentrated on the food, microwaves cook and heat much faster than traditional ovens. According to the federal government’s Energy Star program, which rates appliances based on their energy-efficiency, cooking or re-heating small portions of food in the microwave can save as much as 80 percent of the energy used to cook or warm them up in the oven. 
The website reports that there are other things you can do to optimize your energy efficiency around the kitchen when cooking. For starters, make sure to keep the inside surfaces of your microwave oven clean so as to maximize the amount of energy reflected toward your food. On a gas stovetop, make sure the flame is fully below the cookware; likewise, on an electric stovetop, make sure the pan or kettle completely covers the heating element to minimize wasted heat. Also, use the appropriate size pan for the job at hand, as smaller pans are cheaper and more energy-efficient to heat up. 
Despite these tips for cooking greener, Bluejay reiterates that most of us will hardly put a dent in our overall energy use just by choosing one appliance over another. According to his analysis, for someone who bakes three hours a week the cheapest cooking method saves only an estimated $2.06/month compared to the most expensive method. 

“Focusing on cooking methods is not the way to save electricity [at home],” says Bluejay. “You should look at heating, cooling, lighting and laundry instead.”

Green Parent Chicago : EarthTalk™: Does Using A Microwave Really Save Energy?

June 16, 2009 at 3:04 am Leave a comment

High school girl discovers styrofoam-eating bacterium

Top awards in last month’s Intel International Science Fair go to Tseng I-Ching from Taiwan who discovered ‘red bacterium’ that metabolizes polystyrene.
I blogged about a Canadian student’s discovery of plastic-eating microorganisms last May. Just last month, another 16-year-old high school student (this time from Taiwan) Tseng I-Ching swept the world’s largest science fair, the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) for her discovery of a polystyrene-decomposing bacterium derived from mealworm beetles.
I-Ching vivisected over 500 mealworm beetles to isolate the single bacterium that allows the mealworm to digest one of the most troublesome forms of waste on the planet — styrofoam. For her discovery, I-Ching was awarded the top prize in the Microbiology category along with 4 other prizes. 
The girl, nicknamed “Frog,” stated that her main career objective is to become a microbiologist and “save the world.” To that end, she spent the better part of her school year skipping classes in order to develop her innovative project isolating the “red bacteria” with the support of two leading microbiology scholars in Taipei. 
Her hard work got her in trouble at school (at one point she almost stopped her research project due to pressure from her school teachers) but she carried on and is now grateful she stuck with her passion. As she says, “I love to observe and find wonder from nature. I love to solve questions. This is how I started my project.”
There have been two successful bacteria based solutions for styrene decomposition developed at the Dept. of Biotechnology in Tottori, Japan as well as the Dept. of Microbiology at the National University of Ireland. Both rely upon a patented soil organism called Pseudomonas putida.
Polystyrene is the bad boy of the petrochemical industry. In addition to the highly toxic chemicals required to manufacture polysterene products (namely benzene) expanded polystyrene foam requires which emit ozone depleting HCFC’s (CFC’s used to be used to make styrofoam but they have been banned for the most part). Then once disposed it basically NEVER decomposes. It does however break apart into smaller granules, but because of its light weight those particles quickly become both airborne and waterborne, where they wreck havoc on the ocean food chain.
The U.S. disposes of approximately 25 billions styrofoam cups every year and tons more extruded and expanded polystyrene packaging material. It’s a big, big problem. Biodegradable alternatives are now hitting the market but hopefully Tseng I-Ching’s small discovery will help give to give existing styrofoam waste a proper burial.

High school girl discovers styrofoam-eating bacterium | MNN – Mother Nature Network

June 16, 2009 at 2:21 am Leave a comment

Researchers Unveil Flexible Solar Cell Roof Shingles

by <!––> Jorge Chapa <!––>

solar roof shingles, solar power, flexible solar panels, solar panels, green power

By far one of the most wasted spaces of every residence is the roof – of course it is there to protect us from the elements, but surely it can be put to better use. Aiming to innovate upon conventional roof cladding, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently unveiled a new breed of flexible and moisture resistant solar panels that are designed to be rolled out en masse as energy-generating roof tiles!

solar roof shingles, solar power, flexible solar panels, solar panels, green power

Solar Panels are a great source of green energy, but unfortunately they’re not the prettiest of things – massive solar arrays tend to stick out like sore thumbs. Traditional photovoltaic panels, such as those incorporated into building facades, also tend to be costly, and producing them in a cheap and usable quantity has been a common problem.

Researchers at PNNL developed a film encapsulation process that was initially used for protecting flat panel displays over 15 years ago. However with the recent emphasis on energy generating technologies, they decided to take a second look at the materials and encapsulation process. It turns out that this encapsulation process can be used to protect components that are intended to be exposed to ultraviolet lights and natural elements, making it perfect for waterproofing thin-film solar panels.

PNNL hopes to produce a solar panel that can be installed on a residence and generate power for a few cents on the dollar. Research is currently being undertaken in conjunction with Vitex and Batelle, and hopefully we’ll see a marketable product soon.

+ Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Inhabitat » Researchers Unveil Flexible Solar Cell Roof Shingles

June 16, 2009 at 2:18 am 1 comment

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