Hallowell Acadia Is Revolutionizing the Heating Industry

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How do you heat and cool your home? Do you have both a furnace and an air conditioner? What if you could install a single, highly efficient, and environmentally sound system to handle both heating and cooling?

The Acadia, designed and built by Hallowell International, is a revolutionary, next-generation, air-source heat pump — the first that functions efficiently in cold climates down to -30˚F. Even residents of Canada and New England can enjoy comfortable indoor temperatures year ’round without the use of fossil fuels.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Duane Hallowell, president and co-founder of Hallowell International, to learn about the latest innovation in heat pumps….

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Do You Know Where Your Flushes Go?

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Iowa alone has in excess of 600 unincorporated communities without adequate — or, more often, any — waste water treatment systems. Estimates by the American Water Works Association indicate that upgrading these Iowa communities to the same standard as a facility like Iowa City’s would cost in excess of $1 Billion. Yep. That’s one Billion dollars. Fat chance of that happening in this economy.

But that may not be the only option, according to Craig Just, adjunct assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa. Just is spending a rainy afternoon explaining an alternative system to a group of interested environmentalists.

Just and a team of university students have constructed a micro wetlands site on the grounds of Iowa City’s South waste water treatment plant. “Wetlands provide natural waste water treatment,” Just says. “If you don’t put too much [nitrogen and phosphorus] in, the system works by itself. It’s a slow process, but an effective one, until the numbers become overwhelming.” …

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California Green Chemistry Initiative – “Rethinking the Way We Create Everything”

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California Department of Toxic Substances acting director Maziar Movassaghi told Blue Planet Green Living that the Green Chemistry Initiative is working to rethink the manufacturing of products.

MOVASSAGHI: It’s a really fundamental shift for environmental regulation. We don’t wait for stuff to reach the waste stream. And we don’t think of waste as garbage, but as nutrients. If you think of waste as nutrients, you require that at the end of a product’s use, you should be able to grind it up, throw it in the ground, and have it be a nutrient for an organic product. Or, if it doesn’t fit that model, it should be able to be reused in an industrial process.

Now, whether it goes to create energy for material productions or whether it goes back into the reuse of the product, those are two ways of approaching it. But it’s really a different way of looking at our waste, as “waste is food.” …

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Middle School Students to Design Affordable Housing in Future City Competition

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WASHINGTON DC, June 2009 – Designing affordable housing for those most in need is enormously complicated. But how to do it while adhering to LEED recognized green building standards, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and a low carbon footprint?

That’s the challenge for Chicagoland middle schoolers [and students around the nation] as they prepare for National Engineers Week Foundation’s 2009-10 Future City® Competition…

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A Halo for Haley – Active-Airflow Mattress Helps Prevent SIDS

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After Bill and Cathy Schmid’s tiny daughter, Haley, died of SIDS, they wanted answers. What they learned was that Haley likely suffocated in her own exhalations when her tiny arms cradled her face as she slept. While oxygen deprivation doesn’t explain all SIDS deaths, Bill, an engineer, was determined to find a way to prevent that particular cause from ever taking another baby’s life.

He invented a crib mattress that allowed fresh air to flow up through the surface to the baby, providing a constant, gentle supply of fresh air. While the idea was good, there were problems that he hadn’t yet solved. The mattress was heavy and hard for a parent to lift without help. And it was difficult to clean. He sold a few mattresses to parents who were eager to prevent a SIDS tragedy from happening to their child. But sales were not brisk, and Bill was not satisfied with his invention…

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Contributing Writer, Stacey Tarrant

February 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Alabama, Engineers, Stacey Tarrant

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An Auburn University School of Engineering graduate, I have a B.S. in Environmental Science. I’ve been working with Environmental Engineers, Inc. for almost 5 years. I truly love my job, and I feel so blessed to say that….

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Dallas Cowboys Go Blue (with a Greener Stadium)

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It’s time for Super Bowl XLIII, and the NFL is powering the entire event with renewable energy, as well as planting trees to offset carbon created by activities related to the big game. For 16 years, “going green” has been a part of planning and producing the Super Bowl. But the Super Bowl isn’t the only green venue in the NFL world.

In a press release last October, the Dallas Cowboys, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced that the Cowboys were on a path “to be the first sports stadium to gain recognition in the EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track program.” This bold action is in conjunction with the design and construction of the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which will be open for business in Arlington, Texas next summer.

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My 5: Elizabeth Frisch, Culture Technologies

January 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Consultants, Ecopreneurs, Engineers, Front Page, My 5, Texas

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Blue Planet Green Living asked Elizabeth Frisch, founder and president of Culture Technologies, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”
* Eat less and lose weight. We eat 30-50 percent more calories than we need! That’s a lot of environment used up to produce that food!…

* Drive less or more fuel efficiently. Bike, walk, carpool, telecommute, trip chain, plan your trips. Buy an electric bike, if it’s too far….

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Culture Change Drives Environmental Improvement

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“What I’m doing is socially engineering organizations by working with employees so they can shift their company culture and drive business performance — and even personal performance,” says Elizabeth Frisch, president of Culture Technologies, Inc. and director of development for A Nurtured World. “

One of the things we’re committed to is inspiring people, enrolling them, and getting them connected with their passions in the workplace. This is just like we do on the consumer side with A Nurtured World, getting people to commit to green living in their home, so that being environmental is not about suffering, deprivation, and something else that is on my To-Do list. Instead, you create space around it, so that it’s this open frontier. There’s all this possibility!”

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A “Missionary” for Sustainable Energy

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“I want my life to make a difference,” says John Bahr, Ph.D. An active man in his early 70s, Bahr has enriched his retirement years by involving himself in environmental issues. Starting out with very little knowledge, he has become a powerful advocate for Wisconsin’s sustainable energy movement. “This work satisfies my desire to do something worthwhile with my life while I have the opportunity,” he says. I spoke with Bahr from his Wisconsin home. I wanted to learn more about the work that he does and how it fulfills him as a retiree.

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Green Consultant Boosts Efficiency and Profits

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“Being environmentally responsible is not just about meeting the regulations and complying with the laws anymore, but that you’re actually setting the bar for other industries in your sector, and that you’re using good environmental management to expand your business and to make a profit. As an environmental consultant, I help you find a new way to innovate and become the most efficient, to squeeze every dollar that you can out of what you’re earning,” says Molly Long, president of A.W.E. Consulting.

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My 5: Molly Long, A.W.E. Consulting

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Blue Planet Green Living asked environmental auditor and consultant Molly Long, president of A.W.E. Consulting, BPGL: “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?”

LONG: I think the right people doing the right jobs is number one, because it really does take that— the people with the knowledge doing the right thing….

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ISO 14001: Comply with Laws, Prevent Pollution, Continually Improve

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“When something goes wrong, a company has an accident or a mistake, we immediately blame that company for not doing things right. And then, inside that company, it goes down from the plant manager, whose neck is on the line, and he starts looking for somebody he can blame,” says Molly Long. “There’s a hierarchy of blaming that occurs. It’s the picture of the two-story outhouse. No one wants to be on the bottom floor.”

As president of A.W.E. Consulting, Long audits compliance with ISO 14001, which, she describes as, “an international standard that helps people coalesce their environmental management into something that’s meaningful and trackable.” When a business seeks ISO 14001 certification, it enters into a process that changes that blaming mentality by putting responsibility where it belongs: at the top.

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Red Tape, Regulations, and Environmental Crimes

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“When I went to Ireland recently,” says environmental auditor and consultant Molly Long, “I sat in a pub with a pint of Guinness while being lectured to by an average citizen of Dublin about what environmental terrorists we Americans are. He didn’t know we were environmental consultants. It was a really interesting perspective. He said we do a terrible job of protecting the environment.”

Long is a former hazardous waste inspector for the state of Indiana. Today she is in high demand as an ISO 14001 auditor and an environmental consultant, two services she provides through A.W.E. [Agriculture. Wildlife. Environmental.] Consulting, Inc. As an enforcer of laws, an environmental auditor, and a consultant, Long has worked extensively with a wide variety of businesses, industries, and government groups. In this interview, she brings broad perspective to the topic of environmental laws and regulations.

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Saving Money by Going Green

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There’s one light in every building that’s on 24 hours a day: the exit sign. It’s the least paid-attention-to light in every building, and probably the most expensive.

There are two 30-Watt light bulbs in an exit sign. Replace those with two 1.2 Watt light-emitting diode [LED] bulbs. Now, you replace the LED bulbs every 10 years instead of every year, which has a financial impact on its own. Incandescent light bulbs cost about $2 each, and LEDS are down to $7.50 each now. The energy savings per exit sign is around $60 year. So, the ROI is three months, if you look at simple payback of the energy savings.

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Going Green Requires a Cultural Change

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. What follows is Part 3 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You mentioned that making changes in the way companies do business isn’t just a matter of changing the equipment, it also requires a cultural change. Tell us more about how that looks to you.

RAFSON: The biggest thing to my mind is that the cultural change has to happen on all levels. Consumers need to look for green businesses, and there need to be watchdog organizations on the alert for “green washing” — companies proclaiming they’re environmentally responsible just for show.

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Tax Incentives Boost Green ROI

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Rob Rafson, P.E., is V.P. Engineering of Full Circle, a Chicago-based sustainability management solutions firm. He is also co-author, with Harold J. Rafson, of Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999). What follows is Part 2 of a four-part interview.

BPGL: You’re known in Chicago for the largest rooftop solar installation in the city, on top of a brownfield redevelopment project. But people say solar technology has a long payback. Is solar economically viable?

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The Positive Economics of Going Green

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“The only way the Green Revolution will be achieved is through economic opportunity, not through regulation,” says Rob Rafson. A world-renowned environmental engineer and author of the highly regarded book, Brownfields: Redeveloping Environmentally Distressed Properties (1999), Rafson has cleaned up and redeveloped 17 brownfields — including four Superfund projects. He’s on a mission to teach sustainability management to businesses. “Once they see the economic benefits of going green, the transition is easy to sell to shareholders and management,” he tells us.

“In our opinion,” Rafson says, referring to Full Circle, his Chicago-based Sustainability Management Solutions firm, “any business interested in going green should do a cost benefit analysis of tactical opportunities that support their overall strategy and simply look at the return on investment (ROI). Whether it’s through renovating to make a building LEED certified, going to solar power, reducing waste stream, etc. — if you filter all the tactics by ROI, the steps become obvious. If you execute on the projects that have immediate and real economic impact, you can stair-step toward more complex projects with longer term ROI.”

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Tailgating for A Common Green Purpose

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Did you watch the Bears play the Packers yesterday from the warmth of your home? Or maybe you were among the frozen fans braving 7-degree weather to root for your favorite team on the shores of Lake Michigan. Blue Planet Green Living was there, too, tailgating in the parking lot of the Adler Planetarium near Soldier Field.

So, go ahead, ask. What does the Bears/Packers game — and tailgating, for that matter — have to do with green living? It’s a fair question.

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