Energy Star Standards Manditory on New Construction? Agree?

I was looking around the internet searching for anything having to do with green building, sustainable living, etc.. and I came upon an interesting article over at the Washington Post about one county’s response to global climate change. Montgomery county in Maryland has been pretty aggressive towards reducing their environmental footprint, from using biodiesel in all of their city vehicles, providing tax incentives to home owners with solar, wind or geothermal installations and encouraging telecommuting programs for their employees. Now, city officials just passed legislation which would require all new single family homes built in Montgomery county to meet the federal energy efficiency standards known as Energy Star.

Being an official Energy Star Partner we fully support this federal program and what they are doing to create better energy efficiency standards in products, buildings and homes. However, I am still on the fence as to whether or not I agree with this type of legislation, requiring these Energy Star standards to be met.

Will this legislation help the environment? Absolutely, but at what cost?

Will individuals with lesser income be able to afford these higher efficiency homes or will this new legislation hang them out to dry? I know that by using integrated design, these standards can be met with little or no cost increase, but that may not be the case for low income housing, which, incidentally would fall under this legislation.

What are your thoughts on this type of legislation making Energy Star standards mandatory? Leave your comments below!

Hair Brained Idea to Artificially Cool Earth

I have heard a lot of hair brained ideas in my day, but this one tops the list. Some crazy scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research proposed artificially injecting sulfur into the Earth’s stratosphere to help cool it down. Now this is of course an alternative to curbing our CO2 emissions, which apparently is being deemed as too difficult. But artificially injecting enough sulfur into the atmosphere would be easier?

Anyway, according to their studies, injecting sulfates into the stratosphere could cause additional damage to the ozone above Antarctica and not to mention the health effects. This is just one of the hair brained “geo-engineering” ways to stop global warming instead of simply reducing our emissions.

Is it just me, because I feel like we are going about this all wrong if we are thinking in terms of geo-engineering and injecting the atmosphere with strange chemical elements to stop global warming. It just seems like there are way to many unknowns when you attempt such a large scale project dealing with mass amounts of unhealthy chemicals in the atmosphere. I mean, isn’t that what got us in this pinch in the first place?

Full Story at: Yahoo

Coal Is Clean… Since When?

If you haven't already noticed, the coal industry has launched a massive advertising campaign aimed at fooling the world into thinking that coal is clean, or can be clean. In no way shape of form can coal ever be considered clean, green or even greener, considering that no part of the coal mining process is environmentally friendly.

Sure there is a lot of talk about carbon sequestration and I have even posted about new and innovative carbon sequestration techniques, but even if 100% of the carbon from burning coal was sequestered, coal would still be one of the dirtiest fuels known to man. Most people just think of coal as some substance that miners dig up, but most people have not really seen the devastation coal mining does to mountain tops and their valleys below. Thats not to mention the damage don't to local waterways as well as the local water supplies.

Anyway, I don't think words can really describe the damage, so have a look at this short video about coal's dirty little secret:

Are you still “For” clean coal?
Write your local representatives and educate them.

Is Man Made Global Warming Real or Fiction?

Who can say for certain whether or not man made global warming is true or false Nobody right, I mean no one can truly predict the future of the physical planet. Does this mean that humans should disregard the possible outcomes by either choosing to do nothing or by simply taking no action? I believe all of the questions are answered in the following video by using some simple logic and breaking down the outcomes. Please just take a few minutes out of your day and have a look at this brilliant video.

Save The Environment: Stop The Snail Mail Spam!

A commonly overlooked source of wasted time, energy and materials is snail mail spam. Now the average person considers online spam to be much more annoying than snail mail spam according to a Science Daily article, however, I must say I think telemarketers are the most annoying of them all. With all of the current publications and news focusing on online email spam and telemarketers, snail mail spam has been all but forgotten, when in my opinion it is much worse, particularly from an environmental perspective.

The average person doesn’t mind sifting through their snail mail real quick and then discarding the junk mail, but that’s just it, people are throwing this stuff away, not recycling. A recent study showed that in the US only 17% of all junk mail is recycled, so the majority is simply filling up our landfills and producing more methane (greenhouse gas) in the process. This is not even considering the waste and emissions created during the production of this paper.

Over 13 Ounces of water is used to produce one sheet of paper. Also because trees are used in the production of paper, these once carbon neutral entities that help to reduce global CO2 will re-release their stored CO2 as their fibers are broken down into pulp. Paper production produces additional emissions from a variety of factors, from forest soil loss, trucking, pulping, paper manufacturing and shipping to the increased methane at the landfill.

Recycled paper is definitely better than virgin paper and I do applaud advertising companies who are using recycled paper, but this number is insignificant compared to the amount that are using virgin paper for their advertisements. Source reduction is of course the best thing one can do to help curb the emissions produced by paper production. Source reduction reduces the amount of trees cut down, waste water, landfill space and even the energy required to recycle the paper.

You may be thinking that you can’t do anything about this junk snail mail, but after some research, I have found a few different ways to drastically cut down your junk snail mail. I’m sure most of you have heard of the “Do Not Call” list where you register your phone with the government so telemarketers don’t call you, well there is something similar for snail mail publications as well.

The National “Do Not Mail” list from Directmail allows you to register your name and address with them so you no longer receive any junk snail mail from their company or companies using their address list. Another great resource is which is a company that will get you off of the credit card mailing list. OptOutPrescreen will require that you submit your Social Security number which some people may object to, but credit card companies already have this information, so in my opinion it is worth it to stop getting these credit card offers. The third resource is from the Direct Marketers Association where you can put your name and address on their do not mail list for only $1. The final resource is which is a relatively new site that claims to be able to stop from 80% to 95% of your current junk snail mail, which if true will be the most valuable resource listed.

By using the resources above and stopping useless snail mail spam from coming to your house, you can really help the environment and reduce your CO2 emissions. You may be wondering how much of a reduction can this possibly make, well after I put our home address on those do not mail list, I decided to attempt to calculate the amount of waste and CO2 I would be saving. Here are my results:

Known facts:
One sheet of paper = 4.5 grams.
1 kg of Virgin paper produces 3.24 kg of CO2.
One sheet of paper produces 13 Ounces of waste water.

My average junk snail mail per day:
1.5 credit card applications per day (@ 1 envelope & 3 sheets per) = 6 sheets per day
0.5 useless magazines per day (@ ~30 pages) = 15 sheets per day
0.25 newspaper/coupon books per day (@ ~20 pages) = 5 sheets per day—————————————————————————————————-
26 total junk snail mail sheets per day (26 x 365) = 9,490 sheets per year

9,490 sheets per year @ 4.5g per sheet = 42.7 kg or 94 lbs. per year.
9,490 sheets @ 13oz of water per sheet = 3,648.5 Liters or 963.8 gallons of waste water per year.
42.7 kg of paper @ 3.24 kg of CO2 per 1 kg of paper = 138.3 kg or 306 lbs. of co2 per year.
Not to mention this amount of paper would generate about 109 lbs. of solid waste from the production process and use an entire tree.

Results of junk snail mail per year per household:
Kills 1 tree
Wastes 964 gallons of water
Produces 109 pounds of solid waste
Releases 306 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere

The calculations above do not consider the emissions related to shipping. Granted the junk mail will be delivered by mail couriers who would already be following their typical route by your house, so the net effect on that delivery system wouldn’t be too significant. However, when you think about it, the weight of all the added junk mail would actually cause each vehicle to run less efficiently and burn more gas per unit distance. Not to mention the added burden of recycling the junk mail that should have never been produced in the first place.

All in all, junk snail mail is a waste of money, time, energy and paper. Over 80% of all junk mail ends up in the trash and very little actually gets read. If you want to make a difference and help the environment, use the resources above and get your name on the “Do Not Mail” lists and drastically reduce the amount of junk snail mail being sent to your address. Of course these “Do not Mail” lists will not stop all junk mail, but you can recycle the rest and have almost the same net effect.

If you want to go even further than that, check out my Stop Global Warming action page and make a pledge to reduce your emissions by following a few simple steps. To create a carbon profile, you must sign up, but the sign up is free so what are you waiting for, go get a profile!

Clean Your Planet, Save Money and Bragg About It

Well, today is “Blog Action Day” and thousands of bloggers from across the globe are posting tips to help curb global warming. In the spirit of Blog Action Day, I setup a special page in the members area to allow member’s to take carbon reduction pledges and see exactly how much carbon their pledges will save from entering the atmosphere.

The site doubles as a carbon calculator and a storage database so members can store their carbon reductions to add or decrease at a later date.� This also allows us to rank members by their emission reductions and of course the “Greenest” members will earn the most points. Regardless of weather or not you want to be ranked, or store your info, the 100 or so energy saving and money saving tips are well worth a look.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to checkout the site, here is the link to take action to stop global warming.

You don’t have to signup to read the content, but you will need to create a free account to get your carbon emission info saved into the database.� Grab an account and you can also advertise your green website, blog�or business.

New Satellite Proof of Global Warming

Recently Global Warming has come under a lot of skepticism and has unfortunately turned into a debatable political issue. Fortunately and unfortunately, a NASA satellite recently detected proof of huge areas of snow melt in Antarctica in January of 2005. The QuikScat satellite detects snowmelt by using radar pulses that bounce off of the ice that forms when snowmelt refreezes.

According to, this data has been consistently collected from July 1999 to July 2005 and shows clearly that substantial melting has occurred. Shown by the red and yellow areas in the image to the left, these melting areas add up to an area equal to that of California. Scientist also noticed that much of this melting has occurred far inland and at higher elevations, where melting was thought to be highly unlikely.

This melting ice could cause massive problems in the future if steps are not taken to stop global warming. Antarctica is the world’s largest fresh water reservoir and scientists believe that this fresh water runoff could change the salinity and temperature of the ocean in the area.� This change in temperature and/or salinity could have detrimental effects to the local currents and jet streams and cause global climate change.


Global Warming Causing Extinction of Species

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. network of scientists, many species of animals face possible extinction because of global warming.

While many are arguing weather or not man has anything to do with global warming, the IPCC with its 2,000 scientist and over 100 governments have declared that it is very likely that most global warming has been caused by man made emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The Associated Press released an article describing the many different species affected by these current global changes. From plankton and coral reefs to frogs and polar bears, this global warming is making life very hard for so many animals and plants alike. It does seem that the Polar bears are getting the most publicity lately because of TV shows like Planet Earth.

Discovery has been running a series called “Planet Earth” which just recently outlined the problems that polar bears are facing. In a nutshell, Polar Bears are huge and weigh quite a bit, therefore the ice sheets that they walk and run on to hunt must be thick enough to hold them up. This is where global warming is drastically affecting them. As their Arctic habitat thins and breaks apart, the Polar bear must swim further to reach fleeting ice sheets in order to hunt Walruses and seals. Because these sheets are thinning, the bears are falling through the ice while they are hunting which slows them down considerably and often allows their prey to get away, causing the polar bears to fast for long periods of time.

While the Associated Press got most everything dead on the money, Christine over at says that the AP go their “Silence of the Frogs” wrong. According to Christine, there has been widely published research which shows that the decline in frog populations was more closely related to the spreading of a fungus than global warming. However, global warming did have some affect as it is blamed for the warm humid bouts which allowed the fungus to spread more rapidly.

All in all global warming is affecting our planet more than we would like to admit, so what are you going to do about it? Hopefully you will join us and help us spread the word about living a Carbon neutral Existence. We cannot depend on our governments to change, so we must depend on ourselves.