Why Cloud Computing Is Good for Green Businesses

Data centers like this one provide cloud computing services for businesses of all sizes. Photo: © Bandarji – Fotolia

Data centers like this one provide cloud computing services for businesses of all sizes. Photo: © Bandarji – Fotolia

Much has been written about the cloud computing revolution, particularly about the many ways it may be an inherently sustainable move for humanity at large. And yet data centers require massive amounts of energy to run, enough to account for 1.5 percent of US electricity needs by 2020, according to the EPA. And, even as it is now, a Greenpeace study shows that much of that energy is gleaned from fossil fuels, with huge data centers run by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft sourcing only about 15% of the energy they need from renewables.

Still, there’s much about cloud computing that is green, and, with basic reforms, it has the potential to be far more sustainable than our current working model, fitting in entirely with the green business mentality.

So just what is the cloud, and why might it be right for your eco-minded business?

The cloud, essentially, is a network of pooled servers. Rather than storing your data directly on your computer or an external hard drive, or relying on a warehouse full of proprietary servers to power a business’s everyday computing needs, companies on the cloud instead outsource the storage and backup of their data to a third-party, cloud computing company that is responsible for running, updating and maintaining the servers. Users then access their data via the internet on the device of their choosing.

Why the Cloud is Eco-Friendly

1. It’s Paperless

Paper is the enemy of all green businesses. From deforestation to the carbon emitted during production and transport to the energy that goes into recycling it, paper holds a huge footprint. The cloud can eliminate a green business’s paper addiction. With programs like Google Drive and Dropbox, files are shared without the need for printing. And with mobile devices, there’s no need to take paper notes, keep track of time in a notebook, write job tickets, or rely on carbon paper to have any record of a transaction. Instead, all companies need do is give their employees a smartphone or tablet, choose their cloud computing service, and login to enter data.

2. It Pools Infrastructure and Energy Costs

When a company runs its own servers, there’s a whole infrastructure to consider. Servers require cooling mechanisms and lighting, regular maintenance, updating and more. This is as true for proprietary servers as it is for those that operate in the cloud, with the key difference being that in the cloud version, resources are pooled. This makes sense, first, on a measure of scale — it’s more efficient to power a large number of servers than it is to power many smaller pockets

— and, second, in terms of maximum efficiency. With pooled servers, there’s no wasted space. When a company no longer needs certain server space, someone else will step in for them, or the local workstation will simply stop requesting energy.

3. It Can Reduce Carbon Emissions

With reduced energy consumption comes reduced carbon emissions. One study found that large US companies relying on cloud computing instead of proprietary servers could cut their carbon emissions by as much as 85.7 million tons annually by 2020.

There is, as we’ve said, the problem of data centers sourcing their power through unsustainable means. But not all of them are. Yahoo, for instance, has situated its data centers near clean energy hubs, and only 18.3% of its portfolio consists of coal-based power. Google’s record, though not quite as strong, has started a subsidiary called Google Energy, which buys electricity from independent renewable power producers, like wind and solar. It also buys carbon offsets to power green initiatives, like animal waste management systems. The more cloud computing companies come to rely on renewable energy, the greater a cloud-reliant business’ carbon emissions will fall further down the chain.

Why the Cloud is Efficient for Small Green Businesses

First, as this excellent guide to cloud computing shows, the cloud is just generally more efficient for businesses, regardless of the eco-factor. That said, there are number of ways that the cloud can be more efficient for small businesses in a very green way. That’s because the cloud allows companies to…

1. Outsource Hosting

There’s no need to put aside a massive budget for keeping servers and infrastructure up to date, nor to pay for large energy costs, data center staff members or updates. This lowers a business’s local footprint, too. It also makes a business much more flexible in terms of scaling, as it won’t have to purchase server space and infrastructure before it’s needed. Hmm… Never using more than you need… Doesn’t that sound like a green principle to you?

2. Collaborate More Efficiently

No more sending faxes back and forth, or losing yourself in an email thread. Combine services like Google Docs and Basecamp with social media and Salesforce, and small businesses will not only have a much wider reach, but they’ll also have a much easier time sparking momentum with collaborative green initiatives. Let’s say, for example, you’d like to lobby for greater recycling in the region. Start by creating a Google Doc for brainstorming and sharing it with collaborator. Then start a project on Basecamp and easily assign tasks with due dates. Finally, using the power of social media, get the message to a wide network of people. That’s environmental and social change, all without ever printing a flier.

3. Mobility

Because workers can access the cloud through their mobile devices, there’s no need to come into the office unless absolutely needed. This may not make much of a difference for the person who lives around the block, but if a small business has a high percentage of commuters, this will cut down on transportation-related carbon emissions as well as the amount of lost time spent stuck in traffic. It is this same feature that powers outsourcing of mundane or expert tasks to the best person for the job, even if that’s a freelancer halfway across the world.

Take-Away

The cloud is a great option for small businesses regardless of the green benefits, as it increases efficiency, productivity, flexibility and mobility. But the cloud increases a small business’ green profile, as well, and problems with data center energy consumption speak to larger issues with our energy grid. As we switch in greater numbers to a clean energy society, the cloud will become ever more the green solution for working. And it’s already pretty great now.

Luke Clum

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

About the Writer

Luke Clum is a web designer from Seattle. He loves hiking and climbing in the outdoors. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum/

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Groovy Globe: Chic and Conscious Clothing

Groovy Globe organic tees make an eco-friendly fashion statement that you'll love to wear. Photo: Courtesy Groovy Globe

Groovy Globe organic tees make an eco-friendly fashion statement that you’ll love to wear. Photo: Courtesy Groovy Globe

As a consumer who tries to purchase organic and ethical products, I’ve discovered how difficult it is to find clothing that matches my values.

When I look through my pantry, I see fair-trade coffee, hormone-free poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea bags. All of these products were purchased from within minutes of home at my local supermarket. In the last few years, I’ve noticed how much easier it’s become to purchase environmentally conscious foods without having to go to a specialized store.

But when I look through my closet, I see an expanse of polyester, rayon, nylon, viscose, and, of course, cotton — which, according to groovyglobe.net, is the most toxic crop on the planet as it accounts for a quarter of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of worldwide pesticide sales.

An Easy Choice

Candac Vadnais, founder of Groovy Globe, wears one of her signature tees. Photo: Courtesy Groovy Globe

Candac Vadnais, founder of Groovy Globe, wears one of her signature tees. Photo: Courtesy Groovy Globe

Recently, I was introduced to Groovy Globe, which sells 100-percent organic apparel. T-shirts are made from 100 percent organic cotton and totes are made from 100 percent recycled cotton, as well as silicone wristbands. Never has it been so easy to make an eco-friendly fashion statement for less than $30–$40.

And your money goes even further when you buy from Groovy Globe. Ten percent of profits are donated to Global Green USA and Trees for the Future.

Founder Candace Vadnais, a former public relations executive, launched Groovy Globe in the beginning of 2012. As a lifelong “compulsive recycler,” she was inspired by brands like (RED).

The organizations that receive a portion of Groovy Globe’s profits are also dedicated to making a difference, supporting the construction of green buildings, and planting trees.

Vadnais knew she wanted a globe on her apparel. She has a friend who is a designer and, with some help, the globe logo was born. After bouncing around ideas with her family, she came up with the name Groovy Globe to match her design concept.

“When you have a shirt that has a message, people see it,” says Vadnais. “They ask about the message.”

Stylish and Casual

I recently wore the white Groovy Globe t-shirt given to me for review. As someone who enjoys style and has green values, I was pleased to find it a cute and flattering shirt that was made of organic cotton and supports sustainable causes.

The pre-shrunk organic cotton is soft, and the globe logo is simple but stylish. It can be worn with gym shorts to go jogging or with jeans to run errands or grab a casual lunch. Vadnais’ hope that people will ask about the shirt is sure to be accomplished.

Expanding the Mission

“We are gaining momentum,” says Vadnais. She’s spreading the word about Groovy Globe on Facebook, Twitter, and green blogs.

On plans to add additional products, Vadnais excitedly says, “Oh gosh, I would love to!”

She hopes to expand as soon as possible and would love to add tank tops to the collection. As a new Groovy Globe fan, I will be checking the website frequently to see when they’re available for purchase.

Brigette Fanning

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living

The Fine Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a complimentary sample of the products reviewed in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Our policy is to review only those products we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a product more than we dislike it, we do not review it. We are not influenced by free products and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

Natural Living Expo, March 27 & 28 in Des Moines

There's something for everyone at the Natural Living Expo, from shopping (right), to browsing (center), to storytelling for the kids (left). Photo: Courtesy Natural LIving Expo

By the end of March, spring will be poking her head out from behind winter’s white dress. Leaves will begin to sprout, wearing a fleeting light-green that will deepen in hue by the time the summer arrives in all her glory. Ah, spring. What better time of year to be thinking about gardening, fresh produce, and delicious natural foods?

And what better event than the Natural Living Expo to entice sun-starved Midwesterners out of hibernation?

The Fifth Annual Natural Living Expo, to be held March 27 and 28 in Des Moines, promises to be bigger and even more exciting than in previous years. The Expo features natural, organic, and sustainable companies and products, live entertainment for kids and adults, and a speaker series on topics related to sustainability and health/wellness. Admission is FREE.

The Natural Living Expo’s newest Market Leader sponsor is Iowa’s own Natural Living celebrity, Michele Beschen, of the nationally televised program, borganic.net.

Natural Kids Zone

Hula hoop expert Mary Boydey will once again provide plenty of hoops for kids (and their parents) to try. Photo: Courtesy Natural Living Expo

Angela Clark, founder of enrgPATH and chief promoter of the Expo, reports there will be a wide variety of activities and entertainments at the event, many of them targeted to kids.

“We have what’s looking to be a fun line up for the Natural Kids Zone,” Clark says. “We have a hula-hooper, Mary Boyvey of Sparkle Hoop Dance. Mary had a blast last year, so she’s going to come back with kid-sized and adult-sized hula hoops. She does birthday parties for adults and kids. She’s bringing a juggler with her. There’s also a local gentleman who teaches kids how to play harmonicas. And we’ll have a yo-yo champion, whose full-time job is to promote yo-yos.”

Other activities in the Zone include kid-yoga, musicians, storytellers, clowns, and more. Metro Arts Alliance will be sponsoring the kids’ art area. With all the activities offered in the Natural Kids Zone.

Natural Living Speaker Series

The Expo also promises plenty of fodder for the mind — for adults and students of all ages. Want to learn how to build a straw bale home? Start a small-scale organic farm? Find a Reiki practitioner? Advocate for renewable energy? Eat healthy foods that please your palate?

Attend some of the many sessions offered at the Expo. The information below — from the Natural Living Expo website — describes  sessions of interest on Sustainability as well as Health and Wellness — with more to be announced. Times and speakers’ names will be released on the Expo website in coming weeks.

Angela Clark, director of the Natural Living Expo. Photo: Courtesy Angela Clark

Return of the Small-Scale Farmer
Markets are growing rapidly for independent farms and vineyards.  While corn and beans aren’t going anywhere, specialty niches are shaping up to give us the rebirth of the family farm.

Transportation That Works for All
Can Des Moines come out of the current recession with its public transportation intact?  Come find out what is possible in the city… and what might be at stake.

A Sustaining Built Environment
With so much talk about green building, where have all the green buildings gone?  You may be surprised.  Find out what people are doing under the radar and where you need to look to learn more.

Energy Independence Within Reach
If renewable energy is so great, why aren’t we using it?  You might be surprised.   Come find out, not what you can do now but, more importantly, when you should do it.

Zero Waste Horizons
Waste is a commodity, from the east coast to the west coast.  So, why not in Des Moines?  Find out what’s missing and what is being done to help residents and businesses.

Sunday, March 28 – SUSTAINABILITY

A New DNA for Business
Tired of hearing: “It’s nothing personal, just business?” Business is not only very personal, but it can be good for the environment. Find out how the real pioneers are turning things around in the 21st Century.

Food in the City
Growing urban environments require larger and more industrial forms of agriculture, right? Maybe not. Learn how our city and others are seeking food security and new roles as producers.

Non-Profits as Change Agents

Saturday, March 27 – HEALTH / WELLNESS

The Future of Holistic Health
Is Des Moines taking a larger, more inclusive, view of what it means to be healthy? Come learn what’s moving us forward and what’s holding us back.

Your Body is the Foundation
You are not your body. You do, however, want a healthy and vibrant body so you can access greater levels of health and wellness in your personal, social, professional and spiritual life.

Intuitive Health & Healing
What does Des Moines have to offer in the form of more intuitive therapies such as Reiki, Healing Touch, psychic readings, and more? Find out what works and where to get it.

Your Beautiful Spine
You are not your body. You do, however, want a healthy and vibrant body so you can access greater levels of health and wellness in your personal, social, professional and spiritual life.

The Science of Backrubs
Find out how massage therapy literally “breaks up” stress in your body, allowing you to release tension, change unhealthy patterns of thinking, and prevent stagnation in your own personal practices.

Sunday, March 28 – SUSTAINABILITY

Growing a Culture of Creativity
The arts inspire us. They drive innovation in every sector – from business to education. Over the last decade, Des Moines has made strides in building its art culture. Will it last?

Vote with Your Dollars
In a market economy, what you spend your money on is as good as a day at the polls. How can you not overspend, but spend consciously to improve the health of your community and the environment.

Nutrition Education
We all know the Food Pyramid.  Why isn’t that enough?  What are the simple, easy-to-remember rules on how to make appropriate food choices for ourselves and our families.

Strawbale Home Building in Iowa
An Earthship Home in Southern Iowa

More Green Building Classes by Center on Sustainable Communities will be posted soon.

Exhibitors

Exhibitors will provide an array of interesting natural-living options. Photo: Courtesy Natural LIving Expo

The exhibitor list is still growing, but check out the varied list of participants registered so far. Many of them will have products, samples, and services for purchase at the Expo, so come prepared to try out samples for an unforgettable experience.

The Natural Living Expo provides a unique opportunity to learn about and try out offerings from a huge selection of the premier green businesses in the area.

Exhibitor slots are still available. See below for more information.

Attachment Parenting International 1000 Friends of Iowa
Arbonne International Foundation for Wellness Professionals
College of Massage and the Healing Arts Center Metro Waste Authority
Green Goods for the Home EP True Chiropractic
Diaper DuDee Diaper Service NICHE – Network of Iowa Christian
Home Educators
Wallace Farms Simply for Giggles
Yost Family Chiropractic Whole Woman Health
Willowsong Midwifery Homeschool Alliance for Iowa Learners
Xango/Glimpse Compass Chiropractic
Homestead (The) Novae Vitae Farms/Exodus Marketing
Chiropractic In Motion Beaverdale Books
Iowa Air Coalition Bowman Chiropractic
Prairiewoods ITWORKS
Silent Rivers Design + Build enrgPATH Resource Directory
ReStore Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity Be The Butterfly
Wander This World Fair World Gallery
Little Padded Seats Nucca Chiropractic
ADIO Chiropractic Jeanne’s Soaps Bed & Bath
One Step At a Time Gardens Midwest Acupuncture
Griffieon Family Farm Service Legends
Iowa Pet Foods In the Aisles Nutrition Counseling
Norwex Clean Enviro Earth Day in the Junction
The Solar Consultants Max International
World’s Best Cat Litter Lauracle
The Family Tree Designarchy
Profound Mystical Meditation for the
Western Society
Body Detox Center
X Fuze Various & Sundry
Sustainable Living Coalition Dr. Cheri Holloway
Complete Wellness BigOvations Media
Center On Sustainable Communities Gayle Onnen Photography

EcoParty

After the Expo concludes on Saturday, be sure to stick around for the EcoParty, an evening festival that “celebrates quality food and drink while enjoying an eco-fashion show,” according to the website. “It is a time for the Natural Living community to kick back and have some fun.”

The details haven’t yet been released, but from what Clark told Blue Planet Green Living, guests are in for an unusual, yummy, and entertaining experience. Watch for more information here on Blue Planet Green Living or on the Expo’s website in the next few weeks.

When and Where

Sat. March 27, 10:00 to 6:00 pm

Sun. March 28, 11:00 a.m to 4:00 pm

Polk County Convention Complex

501 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50309-2406
Get Directions

(515) 242-2507

Parking at the Civic Complex is free on weekends, and admission to the event is also free.

Calling Vendors, Sponsors, and Perfomers

If you’ve got an organic, green, natural, or healthy business or nonprofit organization, and are interested in participating in the event, it’s not too late. Contact Angela at 515-205-5494. Sponsors are also welcome! Register before March 1, and your information will be included in the program.

Blue Planet Green Living is a proud media partner for the event. We hope to see you there!

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Photographer Della Calfee Focuses on Green Clients

This striking image hangs in a San Jose art gallery. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

"A grassed lawn is the worst thing you can do in the desert here in California," Calfee says with this photo. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

When Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Bay Area artist and ecopreneur Della Calfee, we were intrigued by her self-description as a “green” photographer. How does that look in terms of her portfolio of images? we wondered. And, What kinds of clients hire a green photographer? We asked Calfee about these topics when we spoke with her by phone from her San Jose, California home.

CALFEE: I’ve been shooting pictures for decades, but it was only a couple years ago that I looked back at my body of work and realized that I was a “green” photographer. Once I realized that, something crystallized, and I have been able to move forward with much greater passion and direction and confidence.

To me, “green” means making environmentally conscious choices in every action taken. It means respecting life — including people, but not exclusively. So my photography focuses on clients working toward a better environment. Sustainably produced products; and green-minded services, leaders, and events would all be examples of “green” photography clients.

BPGL: Have you always done green photography?

CALFEE: For years, I was doing commercial photography. Then, a couple of years ago, I turned my attention to focus more specifically on green topics. The customers I’m looking to help with my photography may be a business, a non-profit, or any kind of group — or even just a single person.

If they have some sort of a green method that they need to communicate, I want my images to support their methods and to help them communicate to their audience.

Calfee photographed Wendell Berry law firms recyclable pens. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee photographed Wendell Berry law firms recyclable pens. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Everybody’s pretty suspicious of advertising and marketing in general. The folks who are most interested in green truths are even more skeptical and suspicious, so I feel that my work can help good people and causes get their message through. I can help them inspire and convince people that green is smart; it’s the way to go. It’s going to save money and protect our resources — save the world.

So, in the last couple of years, I have really turned my attention in that direction. I looked at your website and at some of the folks that you write about, and I get the impression that these guys have all been at this for quite some time. But, I’m first starting out, because I’ve only been at it for a couple of years.

BPGL: It’s okay to be a beginner. We’re all at a different level of “greenness,” because nobody’s there; it’s a journey, not a destination.

CALFEE: It’s so interesting to see how each person has to make their own green decisions and epiphanies and changes, and we are all unevenly green. Somebody may be greener in a different way, and we are all learning from each other and becoming greener collectively. And I believe that it’s a beautiful thing.

As far as my commercial clients and projects, my favorite one is Wendell Rosen. It’s a law firm here in the Bay Area. It was the first law firm to be LEED certified. They have a lot of green clients, and they’re also into the sustainability realm. We started talking about the question, “What does a green law firm look like?”

So, I photographed every aspect of their law firm that was part of their certification. For example, I photographed the disposable pens with their name on them. These pens contain soy ink, and the bodies are made of recycled cardboard with a piece of wood for the clip. It’s a really great marketing piece for them, considering the kind of business they do.

They tried to go green with every aspect of their company, including the glue that they glued the carpets with. I photographed a whole series of all of these aspects for them to use in their marketing materials.

I pursue projects on my own that follow my green passion on different topics. One of the topics that I’ve been obsessed with lately is the resource of water, so I’ve been taking a lot of pictures relating to water.

Calfee captured this crisp closeup of the Pacific Ocean on a sunny day. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee captured this crisp closeup of the Pacific Ocean on a sunny day. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

BPGL: There’s a beautiful splash image that I had noticed on your website a few months ago. How did you capture that? You must have a very fast camera.

CALFEE: It was very bright out; and in the sunshine cameras work great.

BPGL: You’re too modest. Your images are crisp and beautiful.

How did you get started?

CALFEE: To answer that, I have to back up a bit. I went to school for fine art and commercial photography ages ago. Then, in 1992, when I entered the work world, I fell into graphic design, because there were so many jobs here in Silicon Valley. Doing that, I was able to make a better living than with photography. Professional photography is all entrepreneurial, and in Silicon Valley — even just to live here — you have to have a pretty sizable steady income.

I wasn’t able to do photography immediately, so graphic design evolved into branding. I spent fifteen years doing design in branding, mostly for software companies, but some for other types of companies, as well.

That was before I made my environmentalist discovery. And realized I have such a desire to help companies do what’s right. I want to put all of my efforts and energies toward helping companies and causes that I believe in most, and right now that is environmentalism.

I learned so much in my career leading up to this, and I’m using all of those experiences in my attempt to work with green companies and to help with the green movement.

Before I started at a software company, where I was on a team to re-brand them, I had started my own design company. I had experience working at ad agencies and design firms, and I was ready to launch into my own thing.

Like most new companies, it started off with a bang. Then I realized, even though I could market very well, and I could do the work, I had no experience in sales. You can have the other talents, but unless you have sales, things can’t really move forward.

BPGL: When you worked as a designer, did you take the photographs you used in your work?

CALFEE: No, though, as a designer, I had some pretty big photography budgets at the software company. One year I had $50,000 in my photography budget, and I kept saying, “Can you just let me take the pictures?” But, because I was a designer, they wouldn’t listen to me; the two skills just don’t meet. They finally did let me take some of the photos that we couldn’t find anywhere regardless of price, so that was pretty exciting.

Calfee's love of the environment is evidenced by her choice of subjects. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee's love of the environment is evidenced by her choice of subjects. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

BPGL: How has the change to digital photography affected your work?

CALFEE: The commercial photography world has been undergoing seismic disruption, where whenever something new is invented, that affects us all. It has been relatively negative. For example, when everything went digital, it was easy to steal photos, violating intellectual property rights. Congress is discussing these issues, which have been undermining the profitability of photographers.

There are so many ways to get up and running in my business, and all of the old ways to get up and running no longer work for photography. So the photographers’ associations are asking, “What are we going to do?” All the biggest photographers who have been at the top end and working for decades and have all the connections and have been doing these huge jobs are almost out of business now. In fact, the highest-paid living photographer today, Annie Liebowitz, is $24 million dollars in debt.

BPGL: It’s got to be frustrating to know how difficult it is to make a living as a photographer. Have you considered selling your photos to a stock agency?

CALFEE: Yes. I am so passionate about photography that I’m taking the pictures whether or not I sell them or get them out there. I could go back into branding and continue working as a designer; that skill hasn’t gone away. But as fun as it was, I didn’t realize how unfulfilled I was until I started doing this.

So we’ve tightened our belt at home. We’ve done all kinds of stuff to live on less in order for me to be able to move forward with this and see where it leads. I’m shooting art as well as commercial photography, and I have shown some pieces in an art gallery in San Jose.

That is a first for me — branching out into the fine art world — but my photos still have the topic of environmentalism and nature. So, maybe selling my photos as art is an option, even if selling them commercially has kind of gone away as a market.

BPGL: One of the first things to go when the economy fails is fine art. Are you concerned?

CALFEE: Part of me feels that, even when everything looks negative, if you work hard to make your product something that is compelling, and if you can make it good enough, people will want it, rather than the other stuff.

As a designer, I’ve had a few experiences where people say, “We have no budget for photography,” or “We only have budget for inexpensive photography.” And, so, I’ll put together my designs for the project — my layout. Then, I’ll look for the best photo that I would choose despite their budget and present it to them, saying, “This photo is for placement only.” I use it to help explain the idea of the design I’ve put together for the project.

Calfee shot this exquisite image using the macro setting on her camera. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee shot this exquisite image using the macro setting on her camera. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

They generally like the project and the photo. Then, when they ask how much, and I tell them $1000, they say “$1000!”

And I say, “Okay, I’ve got some low-priced images you can use.” So I will look for some from a stock image company, drop those in, and send them over. They write me back and say, “These are terrible! Can you keep looking?” So I do that and come up with some more. And I send those over, and they keep getting worse.

Finally, I tell them, “If I do this with inexpensive photos, it’s not going to be as good.” And every time I’ve done that, they’ve found the money!

BPGL: Looking at the photographs on your website, you obviously have the ability to get up close to your objects and get intimate with them. Is your art an analytic study or an emotional study?

CALFEE: It is both. I’ve always been both. I’m passionate about things in life. At the same time, I come from parents who were very analytical and into logic and critical thinking. They were math majors when they met, and I think they canceled each other out, because they created an artist. But I am very analytical.

I’m trying to capture what it is that is grabbing me or making me think and feel in my subjects, and I have been told that my images don’t have the usual veil of protection between the viewer and the image — that I have sort of removed that, and it is closer somehow. The pictures hit you a little bit more.

I have been told that I care too much, but it is something that I can’t stop doing. It was only two years ago that I ever took my artistic photos off the hard drive and allowed people to see them. Up till then, I would take the photos, but I would never show them to anyone. Now I’m trying to share my perspective and concerns with people.

BPGL: Are you shooting with a Nikon?

CALFEE: No, I’m not. I have Nikon, because I went to college in the days before digital. Back then, people kept saying, “Digital is coming, and it’s going to ruin everything!” They were right; it did ruin everything.

I switched over to digital a couple years ago. I was carrying my equipment with me everywhere I went. A friend of mine, who is a designer, said that he had a little snapshot camera that was really great, and I should check it out.

But I thought a snapshot camera could never be great; I mean, look at the lens alone, it’s terrible.

Then my friend started shooting and posting on Flickr. I looked at his work and asked,  “How are you getting these shots?”

Calfee shot this touching portrait of a grandmother and grandchild. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee shot this touching portrait of a grandmother and grandchild. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

And he said, “It’s from the little snapshot camera Della.”

I said, “Wow! Let me see that camera again.”

Finally, I went out and bought one. The majority of the photos on my site, EvokeImagery.com, were taken with this snapshot camera, so I highly recommend the Cannon G9. It’s 12 mega pixels, and it can shoot raw, and it’s fast. There are later versions out now, but I still use my G9.

It is limited to the lens that exists in the camera; you can’t change it out. And it doesn’t work well in low-light situations. But it’s especially strong at macro. So that’s why I was able to get in and get all those macro shots.

I don’t know if you have seen that picture with the grandma and the baby, but with this photo my big camera failed, and my G9 camera failed on me as well. I’ve never had that happen to me, so I had to go to my tiny back-up camera, and I shot that image with that small camera. I think you can get pretty good quality, if you are not going to print it out large or go on screen. As soon as you go large, digital still kind of falls apart, I say.

BPGL: Do you do any kind of Photoshop processing?

CALFEE: Yes, I do. I do tons of Photoshop. I would say that I am also happy when a shot comes out of the camera just the way I want it; I love that. But having had Photoshop as a designer, I have different styles that I like to apply to the images to bring them out.

I had the grass-Mohawk photo up at the Art Object Gallery in San Jose for a while. I want the green world to know that a grassed lawn is the worst thing you can do in the desert here in California. This is as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. Most people don’t know that, and see the photo as environmental advocacy.

BPGL: Aside from your passion for the environment, aside from not using chemicals now that you’re doing digital work, what actually makes you a green photographer?

CALFEE: I am struggling with that, so I appreciate your question. I certified myself as a Bay Area green business.

Calfee's love of and respect for the environment shows in her art work. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

Calfee's love of and respect for the environment shows in her art work. Photo: © Della Calfee, EvokeImagery.com

BPGL: How did you do that? What is required?

CALFEE: There’s an exhaustive assessment about being a green business. You have to check off a minimum requirement in each section for how you deal with water management, recycling, etc. Then they come through and verify that it is all correct and true. They also check with the utilities to make sure you don’t have anything they don’t know about.

Then they give you certification. You can re-certify only if you have grown in some green way. There are a couple of other photographers who have been certified as well, but their photos are not geared toward green markets.

I am mostly green because I want to help clients who need to communicate a green message.

BPGL: You find the best way to show other people’s greenness.

CALFEE: Right. And yet I can’t do that unless I’m showing how I am green as well. So that is why I certified myself, and I want to help others do the same.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

SIP Global to Host Green Trade Show and Conference

“We believe the answer for a better future relies on the availability of environmentally friendly products for everyone’s everyday use…. A real shift in the current situation will only occur when manufacturers worldwide understand how important it is — and how profitable it can be — to invest in new products and technologies that will improve and protect our environmental condition.” — Julio Marchi, SIP Global – The Green Foundation

BPGL spoke by phone with Julio Marchi, CEO of SIP Global – The Green Foundation. We wanted to know about SIP Global’s upcoming conference, as well as what the foundation is doing to further green products.

MARCHI: Understanding the meaning of “SIP” almost defines our whole organization. SIP stands for Solutions, Ideas, and Products. Our goal is to bring more “green” solutions, ideas, and products to the consumer market. We are here because we believe many organizations treat this idea of the environment with a lot of heart, but don’t understand the business requirements involved behind the creation of a new product (especially a green product), or the challenges involved in bringing green products to the consumer market.

Julio Marchi, CEO, SIP Global — The Green Solution

Julio Marchi, CEO, SIP Global — The Green Foundation

I’ve been speaking with many people (inventors, green business owners, manufacturers, etc.), and the majority of them have similar impressions: They love all the ideas of other organizations, but nobody appears to have anything like our message. We are businessmen. In my other life, what I do is international business. The gentleman at my side is Mr. Bernie Chow. He has an extensive engineering and manufacturing background and is also an international business consultant. We have a lot of members and supporters all over the world: here in the USA, in Mexico, Brazil, China, and even in Europe.

We understand what it takes from product conception to development, from development to production, and from production all the way to the consumer market. What we do is to communicate with all those layers, bringing to them the means to make something great. Sometimes, we are able to assist with investment; other times, what is missing is a network of contacts. Most of the time, we provide professional services or consulting. But the most important aspect of what we do is that we talk business, getting down to the dollar amount up front and helping tweak it to make the budget work.

You have to believe me when I say that it is a real challenge for green products. For example, there are certain products in the marketplace nowadays that are green, but the questions on the business investors’ minds are, “Will they last?” “Will they succeed against other, similar, non-green products?” “Are they profitable?” Because questions like those are yet unanswered, most companies don’t have real incentive to manufacture green products. It costs too much just to develop and manufacture them, and the sales results are not easily estimated. The green market is new, and there is no previous history to be analyzed.

BPGL: What are the repercussions of that?

MARCHI: The manufacturers stick with products that are not green friendly just because they are sure to make money. This green market is something that’s still on the edge of their motivation. Everyone wants to jump into new opportunities and get there first, but the world is now different. Even the global economic chaos contributes negatively to their final decision. Investors now are saying, “Okay, it sounds like a great opportunity, but we don’t know exactly what’s going on and how risky it could be.” Then nothing happens.

What we do is jump in between those layers, interconnecting them with a very well-defined working plan, especially designed for the referenced product and its market. We bring more professionalism to the whole process and make it easy for the businesses to get funded. By the end, we also interact with the marketing promotions and sales, making sure the product gets the proper attention in the media.

BPGL: How is SIP Global able to help green businesses?

MARCHI: We are a nonprofit organization. Besides the services we offer, we also raise funds for all those strategies and requirements. We work with money that we collect. We match some funds to product design and research, but most of our budget is planned to go to the media and promotion. To finance new developments and final production, there are always other means we can use, depending on each case.

BPGL: Where do these funds come from?

MARCHI: Some will come from venture capitalists, and others will be donations from the general public or institutions. Venture capitalists can invest in some specific green projects, as they prefer. We are also working to obtain grants from the government, as they are offering it for green businesses now. However, we have very well-defined programs that allow us to join efforts with developers, manufacturers, and distributors of environmentally friendly products. Those programs have a limited business participation level involved, and we get compensated when results are achieved. This way we can reinvest the funds in other projects. There is more information on line about this.

BPGL: How do people with business ideas locate your foundation and find out about you?

sip-global-three-logo

MARCHI: We use the Internet and try to promote the foundation as much as possible. We have promotions going out using different technologies, and we count on support from affiliated websites. We also go on line, search for green businesses and introduce ourselves. But, nothing is better than the face-to-face approach, and for that we have the Trade Show. One of the goals of the event is to drive attention to what we’re doing. There’s no more conversation behind the computer; it’s now face to face and a place for people to go and see what’s going on. We bring all those people together, and they come in to mingle, and to create this layer of communication between those who are developing, investing, promoting, buying and selling.

BPGL: You’re connecting inventors, investors, manufacturing companies, marketers, and salespeople. That’s sounds like a unique and helpful service.

MARCHI: We’re trying to combine everyone’s efforts. We understand that at the moment, everybody is looking for every dime. However, there’s opportunity for people to make some money while still helping the environment, and we need to maximize it. I’m very motivated about green, and I love to do something that touches my heart. But I’m not an activist, I’m a businessman.

BPGL: Besides connecting people by being “another layer,” what else does SIP Global do?

MARCHI: We do certifications and qualifications, consulting, research. We deal with all the marketing campaigns requirements. We do a lot of things. Actually, we try to keep the scope simple, but when you get down to action, there is no simplicity.

I’d love to bring up many practical examples, but for several reasons I can’t disclose anything in detail at this point. However, there is one particular case I can use as an example of how the “business angle” can be an obstacle even when the invention or product is absolutely fantastic.

A gentleman has developed a new product that can cut energy costs (and consumption) with absolutely no harm to the environment, even at the disposal level. For many years, he worked hard and faced uncountable challenges to develop his invention. Then, when he was almost ready to get down to business, a big company found a similar product — not as good or as green as his — and they invested a lot of money in it (the product is on the market now, and its campaigns are worldwide).

The fact is, this big company will not drop the other product until they get their investment back with a great profit margin, even while knowing that a better one is available — so the inventor just lost the wave. It gets even worse: To guarantee the profitability of their investment, the big company is working hard in the background to slow down this inventor’s business, putting their own interests in front of his opportunities. Again, it’s a business, and in the end, it’s the dollar amount that counts [for them].

Nevertheless, we are finding new avenues for this gentleman and his product, and we will be there with him until we are sure he has succeeded!

This gentleman said, and I’m quoting him, “Julio, do you know how many organizations in the last 10 years I’ve been invited to get in, to talk, to hear, to listen to what I say?” I told him what I imagined, and he told me, “Julio, do you know how many of those organizations I still communicate with? None.”

I asked, “Why?”

“Because, they don’t have the method, they don’t understand from my point of view, what is required for me — as a new technology development — to get my product on the market. They know about the concepts, but they don’t know about the application of the business in this market. But you guys do, and that is exactly what is missing right now.”

BPGL: What other kinds of problems do green businesses face today?

MARCHI: Right now, there’s a lot of confusion about the message, about what’s green. There’s a lot of confusion about quality of products. There are many new companies just popping up with great, fantastic ideas, but with no reputation at all. Now, you might ask, How can they get any kind of finance? How can they get any kind of support? How can they promote any kind of guarantee that they will succeed? They don’t have a marketing plan. They don’t have a business strategy, because they don’t understand it. They are developers with a different mind. In this market right now, there’s a lot of confusion, a lot of miscommunication, and absolutely no networking.

I go on line, and I research every day for as long as I can. I go to Google, Yahoo, MSN, looking for all the key words. I have a huge set of notepads here, where I put my notes about every website that I visit. As far as I can see, in my own analysis, they are all promoting almost the same thing, but using completely different speeches, and that’s what scares me. If you have too many people saying the same thing in so many different ways, the listener just stops listening, and the message gets lost.

BPGL: With so much “chatter,” it begins to sound like birds chirping.

MARCHI: Absolutely. You don’t know who’s right, who’s wrong. You don’t know who’s best, who’s the worst. You don’t have any kind of comparison. You don’t have any kind of statistical support. I think everybody’s doing their jobs, but not combining efforts. So we are trying to help them network their ideas, combining efforts to get recognition and better support.

Another thing SIP Global does is “certification.” At the Trade Show, we will launch a new green seal that covers from the manufacturer level — if the manufacturer is green — through usage and all the way up to product disposal. We are creating a visual system that makes it so easy for anyone to just look at the seal and identify all those levels of preservation. We call it PROGENF: Product Guaranteed Environmentally Friendly.

I’ve been an ISO 9001 and 9002-certified agent for many years. We have supporters that used to work at UL (Underwriter Laboratories), so we know exactly how those certifications work. We need to create some kind of single and effective message for the consumer. The goals are to guarantee that green products are really GREEN and to educate the consumer about that.

BPGL: How do you plan to spread this message to the consumer? As you say, there are so many competing messages on the Internet and in the general public.

MARCHI: Wrong messages can be overcome by right approaches. One of the goals of this Trade Show, actually, is to bring in educators to discuss, “How can we promote the green idea to children and the school, so they can bring the message back home?” We cannot force an adult to simply change. I cannot just take a person of 40 or 50 years old with a lot of problems on their mind and with a lot of things to take care of day by day, and tell them that they just have to change all their concepts of life because the planet needs some green action. They will listen to the message. They’ll say, “Makes sense for me,” but they are adults, and an adult world is not that flexible. We are all adults and we all know that. It’s difficult to change our daily operational status.

But if you bring this to the children, talking about one or two projects, about ideas, about solutions, and you educate the new generations, they will also bring the message back home. We are trying to bring together some key individuals from the Department of Education here in California to discuss how they think it could be done and find out their impressions. If we don’t assure that “environmental preservation” becomes a natural behavior in our society, we will be solving old problems today and facing new problems tomorrow.

Finally, we have plans for massive institutional campaigns in the near future. Our preferred media are TV, radio and cinema.

BPGL: As I understand it, you’re also helping companies to become sustainable.

MARCHI: We’re trying to see all the opportunities and work together. There’s not a chance that you alone, myself alone, or someone else alone will do anything. We need to join efforts. We need to put our ideas on the table without being afraid that somebody else will steal them.

We ask, “What can I do to help you move forward with your project? How can we make this green and profitable, so you can invest in it, you can make some money, and you can reinvest the money in something else?” For that reason, we have the Business Incubator project. It is not enough to simply support and promote existing businesses, we also need to assure that new ones will rise and shine.

BPGL: Tell us a bit about the conference you have planned in September. Can anyone attend?

MARCHI: Not all the conferences and workshops will be open to everybody, but the Trade Show Exhibition Hall will be open to the public, to families. One of the things we want to do is show consumers that they might already have access to certain products that are environmentally friendly, but they might not know about it. Making these introductions is important. We think, if everyone can do a little bit each day, we can do a lot in a very short time.

The biggest problem we see is that green products are not on TV. They’re not on the radio. They are not on the first accessible shelves in the stores. So nobody knows they can buy green and keep the same quality and even save money. We need to make sure this changes!

GLOBAL GREEN INTERNATIONAL TRADE SHOW AND CONVENTION

sip-global-logo

Are you a green inventor? An investor? A business owner? An educator? Or an environmentally conscious consumer, trying to improve your family’s sustainability? If you fit any of these categories, SIP Global’s upcoming Trade Show has events and information targeted just for you.

What: Global Green International Trade Show and Convention
Sponsor: SIP Global – The Green Foundation
Where: Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, California
When: Sept. 2-5, 2009

The four-day event includes workshops, seminars, and an exhibition hall. Learn more about How to Exhibit on the Conference website.

Pre-registration is required for all conference events except the Exhibitors’ Hall, which will be open to the public during Exhibitors’ Hours. Cost to the general public is $10 without a Visitors Pass. But you can get a FREE Visitors Pass on the website.

WORKSHOPS

  • How to be Green and Still Profitable: Companies can save money and preserve the environment at the same time
  • Green Education: Bringing the subject to school classrooms, stimulating youngsters to discuss the theme with their parents and bringing the environmental concept to family homes and future generations
  • Building Green: An overview about new technologies and products for the building industry that are environmentally friendly and innovative
  • Recycling and Reusing: A series of discussions about recycling techniques and how to extend the lives of certain products and items

SEMINARS

  • PROGENF: The definitive GREEN SEAL that will revolutionize the industry and market.
  • Global Green On-line: The new approach to using the Internet to promote and sell environmentally friendly products. The Global Green On-line is working in conjunction with PROGENF to enhance the penetration of quality and competitive Solutions, Ideas and Products to the market.
  • Make it GREEN, from A to Z: How PROGENF, SIP Global – The Green Foundation, some government entities, and other institutions are addressing preservation efforts on an industrial level.
  • Automotive: How some inventive minds have found creative and innovative solutions to convert high consumption vehicles to eco-friendly machines.
  • Energy Conservation: It is important to economize energy and minimize the need for energy generation, but it is also possible to smart utilize energy.

Check the Trade Show and Convention website for full details.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Saving Money by Going Green

The one light in every building that is always left on. Photo: © dwags_Fotolia.com

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). Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) spoke with Rafson from his Chicago office. What follows is Part 4 of a four-part interview. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


BPGL: Give an example of a design-positive economic driver to going green.

RAFSON: 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.

Businesses need to look at their supply chain and other factors. Photo: © Penelope Berger_Fotolia.com

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.

You can save in other ways, too. In rough numbers, the air conditioning cost to cool the energy created by the light bulbs is about 20 percent [of your air conditioning bill]. You will pay for the LEDs in 1 1/2 years just by saving air conditioning costs — and that’s on top of the electrical savings.

If you add together the electrical energy savings, reduced labor savings of having a 10-year bulb, and reduced air condition cost, the total payback is in about two months.

This is a great example of people focusing on the business they’re in. In a building managed by an outside firm, they pay attention to things like exit signs, because that’s their job. It’s their job to make the building more profitable. But, if the building owner is in the business of manufacturing an item, they’re very unlikely to focus on a little thing like an exit sign. They need to pay attention to things outside and inside their business that affect their economic opportunities. There are real opportunities to save and, therefore, to make money by going green.

The key thing is that you have to look around at the things that are both inside and outside of your business that affect the economic viability of your business. If you focus only on your product or service, you miss the large-scale opportunities and the most important parts of a sustainable strategy. Looking at your supply chain and other factors… you really have to look at your core business. And when you have a solid understanding of your core impact, look outside your business at ancillary impact points. The results can be enlightening and create opportunity.

BPGL: What other green strategies will you be implementing in projects by Full Circle?

RAFSON: We are really covering a wide berth in Full Circle’s customers. In some cases we’re combining solar PV and lighting programs, in others we’re doing a wholesale re-engineering of a national waste program. Ultimately, after we complete a sustainability analysis, we offer a customer a range of projects from simple and immediate ROI to long-term changes that take investment and patience to realize return. All of these are worthwhile, but sometimes you have to walk before you run.

Look at green roofs, as an example. I’m not a fan of green roofs; they’re not economical. I believe it’s a great strategy in some situations, but not as a general rule. Now, if you’re growing vegetables on your roof, that might be worth doing. In Chicago, there’s a health food store that makes its own spices and grows them on a green roof. A coffee shop grows produce for their sandwiches on their roof. Both are great uses of space and make economic sense.

Green roofs are generally not economical, according to Rafson. Photo: © webax.it_Fotolia.com

But to do it to offset carbon is ridiculous. Economically, the costs of doing that — as opposed to putting trees on the sidewalk or parkways — are skewed terribly. You have to build a building that supports the extra weight, then provide the maintenance and the infrastructure. It doesn’t balance out. But to my earlier point about doing the strategies with the best payback, you could have the opportunity to look at a green roof as a strategy, if you look at the things that make economic sense first.

BPGL: Give an example of a strategy that would make economic sense for most businesses.

RAFSON: Anyone who hasn’t done extensive energy efficiency work can save — from day one — 30% on their electricity bill. At one building recently, they had nearly 40% too much light, and employees were getting headaches and complaining because it was too bright. We calculated the proper light density for all the offices and warehouse space. — You could do surgery in the washroom. — They saved 38% on lighting alone. All they did was de-lamp.

That was one savings, but that wasn’t the big thing. They already had very efficient lighting fixtures, just too many of them for [a building use that required] less light density than originally planned. The problem was partly too much design, but they also left too many lights on.

Now they’ve got motion sensors in the individual offices. It’s more convenient once you get used to it, to walk into an office, and the light turns on. They have motion-sensor power strips that turn the monitor and stereo on, things that actually would annoy the person next door if they were running with no one in that space.

BPGL: So, you’re saying that pretty much everyone can realize savings with a little self-examination.

RAFSON: If the general population, property owners, and business managers would just grasp the opportunity, they could change the way they look at everything. Opportunities to make a cultural change can also have a positive economic and environmental impact.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Posts


Part 1: The Positive Economics of Going Green

Part 2: Tax Incentives Boost Green ROI

Part 3: Going Green Requires a Cultural Change

Part 4: Saving Money By Going Green (Top of Page)

Tailgating for a Common Green Purpose

A New Alchemy: Turning Heat into Power

Look at the sky over any city or town on a winter day. See those columns of steam or smoke rising from the chimneys? What you’re looking at is wasted energy. Amazingly, at least 56% of the energy produced in the U.S. is wasted. It escapes as heat, radiating out of boilers, leaking through the roofs of power plants, and billowing out of smoke stacks and steam pipes.

Heat escaping from factory smokestacks.

Heat escaping from factory smokestacks.

Here’s a little math lesson that doesn’t add up: 3 + 2 = 1. No, I didn’t make a mistake. To generate 1 Watt of power, a utility company needs about 3 Watts of heat input and dumps into the environment the equivalent of about 2 Watts of power in the form of heat. Not very efficient, is it?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 20 to 50 percent of the energy of the 24 quadrillion BTUs generated by industry across the nation is lost in waste heat. That figure may be as high as 70 percent in coal-fired power plants.

Loy Sneary, CEO of Gulf Coast Green Energy

Loy Sneary, CEO of Gulf Coast Green Energy. Photo: Joe Hennager

Loy Sneary, CEO of Gulf Coast Green Energy, thinks that’s got to change. Sneary’s company sells the ElectraTherm “Green Machine,” a generator that transfers waste heat directly into electricity, while using no fuel and creating no emissions. Sound too good to be true? It did to me, too, until I saw it in action on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, where the first 50 kw Green Machine was installed.

Gulf Coast Green Energy was a sponsor for SMU’s Geothermal Energy Utilization conference in June of 2008. During the conference, Sneary showed off the Green Machine’s power-generating capabilities for its first-ever test run. I watched as he switched it on, and the meter shot from 0 kW to 50 kW in a matter of seconds. That’s kW out, feeding power to the campus grid.

Sneary, a Texas farmer, businessman, and former judge, has been busy in the intervening months since that demonstration, making presentations to industries and municipalities throughout the South. He’s also working with the Texas Legislature and the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association to classify waste heat as a renewable energy resource for the first time ever.

What follows is an interview with Sneary while he was stopped along the road somewhere between Houston and Oklahoma.

BPGL: I understand that the Green Machine takes industrial heat and transfers it into electricity. How does it accomplish this?

A Gulf Coast Green Energy engineer reads meters on the installation at SMU. Photo: Gulf Coast Green Energy

A Gulf Coast Green Energy engineer reads the computer screen on the Green Machine installation at SMU. Photo: Gulf Coast Green Energy

SNEARY: In the back of the 50 kW machine, a 6-inch supply hose feeds in cold water, and another feeds in hot water or a hot fluid. Inside the machine is a closed-loop, organic Rankine cycle system.

The temperature differential (delta T) between the hot water and the cold water causes the refrigerant in the system to expand and contract. Two things come out of the machine: lukewarm water and electricity.

BPGL: Most heat that industry wastes is in the form of hot air. How do you transfer the industrial hot air into the hot water/fluid that you are pumping into your machine?

SNEARY: To capture the hot gas, we hook a heat exchanger (economizer) up to the exhaust. A fluid, either water or glycol and water, runs through the economizer’s coil tubing. As hot air goes through the stack, it heats up the fluid in the coil tubing. That hot liquid is pumped into our waste heat generator, where the refrigerant is pressurized and vaporized. The resulting hot vapor drives the twin-screw expander, which drives the generator.

BPGL: What are the best applications for your waste heat generators?

Steam and heat escaping into the atmosphere.

Steam and heat escaping into the atmosphere.

SNEARY: There are so many uses. The best way to answer that question would be to describe the projects we are working on.

Let’s start with methane gas from landfills. If a landfill is flaring excess methane, we can tap into that heat source and make electricity.

We can attach directly onto the water jacket or to the exhaust system of internal combustion engines and natural gas pipeline compressor stations.

We’re working at a gas turbine and compression station in Louisiana with the goal of putting the Green Machine on the exhaust system.

We’re also working on a couple of projects where excess steam is vented off. We’re taking that steam and turning it into electricity. In each of those cases, a single machine will generate 50 kW. That company is trying a simple application first, but they have a number of applications within that one plant and they have similar plants all over the world.

For another company in Louisiana, we will be taking geothermal fluids out of non-producing gas wells. We expect that site to produce 100 kW.

We’re working with a company that uses hardening furnaces. This is a foundry that makes steel, and we’re using the heat from those furnaces to make electricity.

A gas flare

A gas flare that could be used as a heat source for the ElectraTherm Green Machine.

BPGL: Loy, today I talked with Jeff Voorhis of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. I asked what he thinks about capturing waste heat and turning it into power. He said, “This kind of technology has great potential. But it needs to be evaluated by companies to see if it’s technologically and economically feasible.”

As the CEO of Gulf Coast Green Energy, you’ve already given us your opinion on the technology. What about economics? If a company were to purchase one of your machines, what would be their return on investment, or ROI?

SNEARY: Depending on the job, there’s a lot of variables. We need to know the cost of power at that location. We have one customer in the ship channel in Houston that overhauls barges. They pump out the gas and flare it. We take that flare gas and use it as a heat source. In their case, the ElectraTherm Green Machine will pay for itself in 2 ½ years.

But every situation is different; other sites may require quite a bit of ancillary equipment. The ROI could be anywhere from 2½ to 5 years, depending on the cost of power and how complicated the job is. There a lot more at 2½ years than there are at 5 years. And that’s not including any carbon credits or incentives. In the new bailout, there are investment tax credit provisions for equipment like ours. But our equipment stands on its own without any subsidy.

BPGL: You described your generators as “plug and play.” What does that mean?

SNEARY: Right now, our systems come in two sizes, 50 kW and 500 kW. If the location emits enough waste heat to generate, say, 20 megawatts of electricity, we can just hook these up in a series. It gives us the flexibility to pull one out to work on it, while the others keep running.

BPGL: Combined heat and power (CHP) is getting discussed in a few state legislatures and now, finally, at the federal level. If you were to be standing in front of a state Senator right now, what would you tell him or her?

SNEARY: The first thing you have to do is educate them. I testified to the Texas House Energy Resources Committee. Everyone there knows a lot about wind, solar energy, and geothermal energy sources. But no one had even heard of waste heat generation, because no one’s been educating them.

BPGL: Loy, I see that your waste heat generators have been getting a lot of attention lately in the press. Where should our readers go looking for you?

The Green Machine installed at Southern Methodist University. Photo: Gulf Coast Green Energy

The Green Machine installed at Southern Methodist University. Photo: Gulf Coast Green Energy

SNEARY: Well, Popular Science just named the ElectraTherm Green Machine one of the top new green technologies for 2008. And we were interviewed on television on the 700 Club as an alternative energy source. The Green Machine has also been talked about by Gizmodo, Green Tec, EnergyCurrent, and Ecogeek. It was even on Fox News the other day.

BPGL: That’s huge, Loy. With such great press, you’d think people would be beating down your door trying to get the Green Machine. Why doesn’t every factory have at least one?

SNEARY: The ElectraTherm Green Machine is relatively new in the marketplace. We have the technology right now to not only capture some of that waste heat, but also to reduce carbon emissions that are going up the chimney and becoming greenhouse gases.

By reducing the heat, we slow the gas molecules in the chimney. By slowing the molecules, stack scrubbers can work more efficiently, keeping more greenhouse gases out of the air. So, it’s a winning proposition not only for a company’s ROI but also for the environment and the air that we breathe.

BPGL: Thank you Loy, for what you are doing to save the planet and for the time you have given me.

SNEARY: Glad to do it, Joe.

Joe Hennager

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Green Wine Summit

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under 2008, Blog, California, Farms, Wine

No matter what your role in the wine industry, if you’re going green, you’ll want to attend the Green Wine Summit in Santa Rosa, California, December 1-2, 2008.

In a series of breakout sessions on December 2, you’ll learn about Best Green Practices, The Business of Green, The Green Consumer, and Green Communications. And, at the Showcase, you can meet individually with companies that provide “green” services of interest.

Speakers include Summit Co-Chairs, Lesley Berglund & Mack Schwing; moderator Paul Dolan of the Mendocino Wine Company, keynote speaker Erin Fitzgerald, Director, Social and Environmental Innovation Consulting at Dairy Management, Inc.; and keynote panelist Allison Jordan of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), along with Karen Ross of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), and Jeff Dlott of Sureharvest.

The conference will take place at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)