2nd Green Revolution - Part 5

Daylight Saving Time

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We all experienced the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this past week, for most people it means getting an extra hour of sleep.  As a parent, it does not mean this at all.  It means your kid wakes up at their normal wake up time and you are wishing for that extra hour of sleep.  Whether it is spring forward or fall back, both time changes are rough for parents.  Which got me thinking, why do we even do this?  My husband kept telling me because it saves energy, which I know is what we are told, but it didn’t add up to me.  I didn’t understand how it was saving energy for commercial businesses since most places have their lights on no matter what time of day.  I could see how it could save residential homes, but as an entire nation it didn’t seem like it would be much.  I went on the hunt to find out how much energy it is actually saving us each year and the reason parents have to deal with these dreaded changes.

Turns out, it actually doesn’t save us energy.  The short story is because of air conditioning, there are no savings in energy.  There is a longer version too.  Increased air conditioning usage over time has really impacted the energy savings of DST.  There is also the factor of increased oil and gas consumption during DST.  Since the days last until later in the evening, people are more likely to go out to an activity.  This often means driving to that activity which increases our consumption of gas and energy.  This is versus staying at home in the winter when it gets dark at 5pm.  While the days naturally get shorter in the winter and longer in the summer, DST enhances this factor in the summer.

Bikes: People and Product Movers

cargo bike!While cities are actively putting in bike lanes and supporting other initiatives that enhance biking like commuter bike programs and public air pumps, the bike is still thought to be a means to move an individual across town. This is a great goal in and of itself, especially so long as it keeps people out of their cars and allows for exercise. But in this paradigm, the bike’s role is narrow, for individual transport alone, and the car or truck remains necessary for the hauling of goods. Who is to say, however, that the bike can’t also help haul goods? Pedal power should not be underestimated.

The Cost of Eating Out

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I have talked about trash recently but with visitors in town I have noticed a new trash phenomena- the trash from eating out.  Normally we don’t eat out very often because it is expensive and isn’t always the healthiest food.  Yet, when we have visitors in town (often parents) we generally eat out a few times.  With eating out comes leftovers, since most portions in restaurants are too large.  With leftovers come boxes and that is the issue.  

Sustainably Scary Halloween Costumes

This Halloclimate change is scarierween, what if the scariest costume wasn’t a ghost or goblin? On Halloween we’re supposed to be frightened by haunted houses and jack-o-lanterns (or annoyed by our friends who find a way to cleverly dress up as the Government Shutdown); but what if we were frightened by one of the really truly scary things out there, like climate change? What scary environmental problem could you be for Halloween this year?

Mother Earth Brewing – Revitalizing Kinston, NC

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Although North Carolina might not seem like a “beer destination” like  Oregon or Colorado, the craft beer industry is booming.  Asheville, NC is consistently rated one of America’s best beer towns, and major craft beer industry participants such as Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have chosen the state as their east coast hub; also, other craft breweries and smaller “nano” breweries are popping up throughout the state at a rapid rate. In particular, one NC craft brewery has been making waves among beer aficionados on the east coast: Mother Earth Brewing (MEB) located in Kinston in NC’s “Inner Banks.”  Not only have its beers been winning awards at prestigious competitions, MEB has also been on the forefront of using organic and recycled materials throughout their brewery, becoming one of the first US breweries to earn LEED status.  Additionally, brewery management and staff have been working within the community of Kinston to revitalize sections of a city that has fallen on hard times.

From the Ground Up : A Book Recommendation

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From the Ground Up: The Story of A First Garden by Amy Stewart is a must read for anyone interested in gardening.  I have talked about gardening a few times before and this book was just what I needed right now.  At the beginning of the season (March/April) I am all excited to plant seeds and dream about the produce I will be receiving at the end of summer; by August I am over it.  After weeding, watering, harvesting, dealing with the heat etc. for the entire spring and summer I am over the garden.  I just want to forget about it and move on.  But there is still harvesting to do and plants to take care off before winter sets in.  Otherwise there is that much more work the next year.

A Recovering Foodie: From Eating to Access

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I guess you could call me a foodie. I find Anthony Bourdain’s travels around the world to be fantastic TV. I think Michael Pollan’s advice to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” to be great words to eat by. My two favorite meals range from one of DC’s swankiest locales to the kitchen at my Thai friend’s house eating crabs. My knowledge regarding food seems to have paralleled popular culture’s growing obsession with food, from shows to talking heads to gastronomic experimentation. But my interest in finding that next great meal is waning. I’m lucky to have immediate access to fresh food. Not everyone else is so blessed.

Moving from Awareness to Policy Change this Food Day

food on food day! This Thursday, communities throughout the country will talking about Real Food. Thursday is Food Day, a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food. Your first thought might be to disparage another “day” aimed to raise the profile of one issue or another. But before you get too cynical, remember, awareness might not save lives, but it’s a very good place to start.

Renewables, Efficiency, and Industry: A Pragmatic Combination

Ameresco Biomass Cogeneration Facility, Savannah River SiteIn a recent post I wrote about commitments made by APEC member economy ministers in their October 5 joint statement to implement a set of actions intended to facilitate the deployment of renewable and sustainable energy resources.  Although the APEC Leaders Statement issued on October 8 did not include new breakthroughs related to sustainable energy, it is worthwhile exploring the recent activities of APEC members in this area.

APEC has long served as a platform among Asia-Pacific economies for sharing best practices across priority policy areas, and energy is no exception.  Earlier this year, APEC’s Expert Group on New and Renewable Energy Technologies submitted a report to the organization’s Energy Working Group on best practices in combining energy efficiency and renewable technologies in the industrial sector.

Germany Delays EU Carbon Cap

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Though Americans frequently look to the European Union as a model to increase vehicle efficiency and regulate emissions, Germany, which is the EU’s largest economic power, used its clout to postpone a meeting intended to finalize rules restricting vehicle emissions to just 95 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.

The measure, which would kick in by 2020, translates to 57.6 miles per gallon (mpg) U.S., an increase of just over 7 mpg compared to the EU’s current 2015 mandate. For comparison, the U.S. is aiming for 54.5 mpg under the CAFE structure by 2025.

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