Category Archive Sustainable Living

Rosalie Bay Resort Features Dominica’s First Wind Turbine

ByGroovy Green Dec 8, 2010

Resorts around the world continue to impress me with their commitment to sustainable practices — but Rosalie Bay Resort on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean is truly a standout.

Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests, and gardens. In addition to solar panels, the resort also features a Norwin Turbine 225 kW — which provides some 70% of the power used by the 28 beautiful rooms in nine cottages. With these renewables in place, Rosalie is effectively self-sustaining; an epic achievement that’s yet still rare in today’s world of “green resorts”.

“Nature should be preserved and shared,” said Dr. Ken Watson, general manager. “Rosalie Bay Resort was designed to be environmentally sustainable while showcasing one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Caribbean. Many resorts claim to be green, but we’ve made a legitimate commitment with the wind turbine being the centerpiece of our pledge.”

My review of the NREL Western Wind and Solar Integration Study

ByGroovy Green Dec 7, 2010

The NREL/GE Energy WWSIS study appears to be built on several questionable assumptions, each allowing the modeled system (of up to 30% wind/5% solar in the West Connect within the great Western Interconnect) to withstand the inherent difficulties of large scale renewable integration. The primary issue, consistent with my dissertation research, is that the authors assume that we can afford to massively overbuild the capacity of the system, adding the large percentages of renewable generation on top of newly built and existing plants. This allows one to be able to ignore the hourly or sub-hourly periods with extremely low output from renewables, as well as the days or weeks at a time during the summer when wind production is well below yearly average output levels. An ample reserve is at the ready to step in when renewables perform poorly. Secondly and equally important, the authors assume that coal plants, which have traditionally run in a base load capacity, will be able to be operated very flexibly – on par with combined cycle gas plants.

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Green Poetry: “Streams of Consciousness”

ByGroovy Green Nov 19, 2010

The biggest environmental challenge we face is educating people

Our globe is a big community

We interact

We affect our surroundings

Without knowledge there is consequence

Specialization is prominent

But familiarity with all systems is essential

To know a tree dies but not why

Could be a plague

We care about trivial things at times

What is on TV?

No, where will my next sip of water come from?

Once we understand

We can adapt

Systems can be in balance

A quiet lake, a deep ocean, and a steep mountain

What can we learn about life?

Careful observation and ongoing education

One day, our world will be of one mind

——————–

Ed Note:  Thanks Jessica for being the first from SUNY-ESF to submit a post.  Interested in posting at Groovy Green?  Use the “Contact” tab above.

Coming Next Week – College Bloggers

ByGroovy Green Nov 13, 2010

Students from SUNY-ESF will be taking over Groovy Green next week.  Get the perspective of the future environmental leaders of America (and places beyond).

Come back and see us next week, starting Thursday 11/18/10 and see what they have to say.

Can a “One-legged” Man Stay Green?

ByGroovy Green Nov 12, 2010

I’ve had the humbling experience of undergoing ankle surgery about 2 months ago.  As a father of a near-two year old, and a husband, it has been extremely difficult to shift from the role of a provider and equal member of the household to a person initially very dependent on others.

My family and friends have been very supportive, and where we still needed some help, we were able to find babysitters, someone to help clean, and someone to do the annual fall clean-up.

I’ve progressed  over the last month from a doped-up, leg-elevated, impression in my couch to a semi-functioning member of my family and society.  I’m back to work, and trying to catch up on my PhD studies.  Still, its a big challenge to hop from place to place, and occasionally catch a ride in a wheelchair during longer outings.  Let’s just say that I’ve had plenty of time to think.

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Cleveland’s RFID-enabled Recycle Bins Report When You’re Not Using Them

ByGroovy Green Sep 9, 2010

Cleveland’s City Council recently passed a $2.5 million measure to bring RFID-equipped recycling bins to 25,000 homes over the course of the next year. Hey, nothing like encouraging a little green behavior. But this one carries a catch:

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.

Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens.

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The Facts About Bottled Water

ByGroovy Green May 22, 2010

Bottled water is surely one of the biggest jokes ever played on humanity. With plentiful supplies of clean water, first world countries still spends a horrifying amount of money on boutique water — some sourced from half-way around the globe.

The image above is but a piece of a stunning infographic from Online Education detailing the damaging effects of bottled water on our planet — and wallets. Check out the full image after the jump below:

bottled_water

Offshore Oil :: Drill Baby Drill :: The Obama Plan

ByGroovy Green Mar 31, 2010

usoilconsumption

What follows is something I posted in September of 2008. The US presidential campaign was building up steam and I was sick and tired of hearing ‘Drill Baby Drill.’ It made me ill because of the stupidity of the entire argument. I wrote,

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Review: The Book of Rubbish Ideas

ByGroovy Green Feb 21, 2010

The Book of Rubbish Ideas is anything but rubbish. It is FULL of excellent tips to help eco-newbies and hard-core Greens see rubbish as a resource, cut down on waste, and save time, money and resources as a result.

Don’t be put off by the quirky cover; author, Tracey Smith, a contented downshifter, aims to take the freaky out of eco, and her book is accessible, practical and positive. There’s no holier-than-thou attitude to reusable nappies, washable sanpro and chicken-keeping; we are encouraged to ditch the guilt for what we are not doing and start feeling good about what we are doing.

Tracey takes you on a tour through the average family home, from bedroom and bathroom through to the kitchen and out into the garden, including the Usually Male Domain of shed and garage, which so often get missed out where decluttering’s concerned.

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A Groovy Green Reader Gives Up Her Car

ByGroovy Green Feb 17, 2010

[ed note:] This post was sent to us by Tammy Roberts, from West Yorkshire, UK:

I’M GIVING UP MY CAR

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30.  Up until that point, I hadn’t seen the point of having a car or even having the ability to drive, as public transport was convenient enough.  However, 2 months before my 30th birthday, I moved to Plymouth for a new job and for the first time, I discovered how difficult it was to do my outreach work without a driving license – my job covered the whole of Devon and Cornwall.  Within 6 months, I passed my driving test and around 4 months later, I bought my first car – my beloved Fiat Tipo.  Yes, it was cheap and a bit of a banger and had all the quirks and faults that are found on most Italian cars (it’s a standing joke on Top Gear), but I loved it nonetheless!  And, my goodness, did I love the freedom that being a car owner gave me!  I was off to the beach at weekends and I drove back home to Yorkshire once a month to visit family and friends.  No more sharing my personal space on a 7 hour train journey, and trying to carry my own weight in luggage.  It was fantastic!  I even moved back to Yorkshire with my car full of my belongings, with a friend following behind, his car equally laden with my stuff.  I could not believe that I hadn’t learned to drive sooner and found that I needed my car for work more and more as I moved from job to job  When I had my son, 4 years ago, having a car was a bonus.  I remember a childhood of long bus journeys to shopping destinations with my mum, gran and my sister and it was so nice to be able to jump in the car with William in his baby seat and set off on day trips or to visit friends.

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World’s Largest Wind Turbine To Float Off Norway

ByGroovy Green Feb 16, 2010

We’ve seen mega-turbines before — but never one with an output of 10MW, and certainly not one that floats!

When completed, the world’s largest turbine will stand at roughly 533 feet with a rotor diameter of 475 feet. At three times more powerful than current turbines, it will be able to power over 2,000 homes. From Treehugger,

It will be built by the Norwegian company Sway and tested first on land in Oeygarden, southwestern Norway. Unlike most offshore wind projects where turbines rest on the seafloor, Sway turbines float. This means further offshore development where winds are stronger and more consistent.

The floating tower is a pole filled with ballast beneath the water creating low center of gravity. Anchored to the seabed with a single pipe and a suction anchor, it can tilt 5-8°, and turn around with the wind.

It’s expected that the prototype will cost close to $70 million and be completed sometime in 2011.

Biosphere 2, Meet the Second Law of Thermodynamics

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

My graduate school advisor, Charles Hall, is a very intelligent man, though he frequently defers to his doctoral advisor’s talent and knowledge.  Howard Odum explained the first and second laws of thermodynamics concisely and in a manner easy to understand:

The quantity of energy within a system is maintained (first law).  However, the quality of that energy degrades over time (second law).

Entropy is defined as

a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.

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Up is Down. Black is White. Night is Day. GM’s Lutz Advocates for Increased Gas Tax

ByGroovy Green Jan 13, 2010

From CNNMoney.com:

Lutz was asked if that means he would favor higher gasoline taxes, as in Europe where taxes drive fuel to more than $5 a gallon. He said he couldn’t speak for GM, but he said he saw a lot of value in a steady tax rise to much higher levels.

“You either continue with inexpensive motor fuels and have to find other ways to incent the customer to buy hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the government credits,” he said. “Or the other alternative is a gradual increase in the federal fuel tax of 25 cents a year, which in my estimation would have the benefit of giving automobile companies a planning base, and giving families that own vehicles a planning base.”

Lutz continued, noting that if families knew that the price of gasoline were going to steadily increase over the next few years, they would change their buying habits and lean towards more fuel efficient vehicles.

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Renewable Energy Company Creating The Biggest Green Party You’ve Ever Seen

ByGroovy Green Jan 4, 2010

We love raucous festivals like Burning Man and music jamborees like Bonaroo, but we’ve never heard of one that combines the spirit of these events with the mission to actually accomplish something. Like building a build a micro wind turbine farm.

Such is the idea behind “Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change” — a a family-friendly renewable energy and sustainability celebration located in the Ozarks and scheduled for June 2010. Unlike gatherings that strive to leave things the way they were before anyone arrived, Villages in the Sky is looking to take advantage of crowd sourcing to create a better place than existed before. Participants will help build a micro wind turbine farm and bio-mass systems as well as giant play structures (zip lines, tree houses, ropes courses, etc). The entire event is internally cash free event which promotes a volunteer ethic and strangers working cooperatively for a shared goal. In fact, the main goal is to leave behind the beginnings of a locally self sufficient eco-village. Perhaps even one inspired by the Ewoks. From the website,

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Spyware Disguised As Eco Antivirus Tricking Users

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

Environmentally-conscious PC owners beware! There’s a fairly recent spyware virus out there that takes advantage of the green movement to promote an entirely different agenda.

Called “Eco Antivirus”, the app poses as green security software — offering to help conserve the energy your computer consumes while searching for malicious bugs. Unfortunately, the app is a malicious program itself that “bombards the screen with a series of fake security warnings, deceiving scans and aggressive marketing designed to persuade the user to visit the Eco AntiVirus website to purchase the malicious software.”

While those infected have reported it being something of a nightmare to remove the spyware, there are now legit apps to handle this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lesson here? Don’t download suspicious software without first doing a bit of googling to pull back the curtain on any BS green claims. Even software can greenwash.

Buying An Electric Car? You Might Want To Order Your Charging Station Now

ByGroovy Green Jan 3, 2010

2010 will most likely go down as the year electric cars were (once again) made available to the public through Big Auto. Both Nissan and Chevy have plans to release the Leaf and Volt respectively — and both focus on getting energy from being plugged in. (Although the Volt can charge its battery utilizing its small “range-extender engine”, but then what’s the point of having an electric car?)

If you’ve got the deep pockets for one, the most conventional way of charging the vehicle will be to simply plug it into an ordinary wall socket. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take up to 16 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. If you’re in a hurry, however, the best thing to have on-hand in the garage is a “quick charger” — which pushes a much more considerable amount of juice to your car. Instead of 8 hours, you can now have a fully charged Volt in under 2.5 hours.

Unfortunately, having a quick charger installed in your garage is not something just anyone can do.

Crazy Treehouse Could Probably House A Small Village

ByGroovy Green Oct 28, 2009

When you were a kid, did you ever dream up the goal of one day building the largest treehouse ever? For Horrace Burgess in Tennessee, that dream became a reality with this gargantuan structure that features 11 floors and more than 8,000 sq.ft. of real estate. From ZuZuTop,

The greatness of Horrace Burgess treehouse is not subject to the tree on which it is based alone though. As it turns out, while the tree in question does contribute something to the height of the treehouse, the owner’s efforts also go a long way towards this greatness possible. The tree’s contribution to the 97 foot edifice is only 80 feet, so that the other 17 feet on top of the basic 80 foot are from Horrace’s sheer effort. To be sure, we can’t begrudge the base tree of a claim to greatness too: a tree towering at 80 feet in height and with a diameter of over 12 feet is a real wonder.

Incredibly enough, Burgess isn’t done yet. This whole project, which he estimates to have cost north of $12,000, is still a work in progress. Tower of Babylon anyone?

The Green Picture: How Far Away Is The Nearest McDonald’s?

ByGroovy Green Sep 25, 2009

Thanks to Stephen von Worley at Weather Sealed, we now have a pretty decent visual of how fast food chain McDonald’s dominates our country. Worley mapped the 13,000+ locations of McDonald’s across the lower 48 states — presenting a beautiful, but depressing look at the density of the Mickey D’s empire. From his report,

“For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map. There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer. Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car!”

Note to self: Move to Dakota.

Auerworld Willow Palace: Celebrating 10 Years Of Growing Green

ByGroovy Green Aug 18, 2009

Continuing on our post from yesterday about the living root bridges of India, we present to you this beautiful creation now celebrating 10 years.

Started in 1999 by architect Marcel Kalberer and a group of 300 volunteers, the Auerworld Willow Palace is a canopy of strategically-placed trees woven together. The project was based on ancient techniques used in both Mesopotamian and European structures. The Willow Palace has proven so popular, that it is now the focal point of “Full Moon” celebrations that draw thousands.

Since Kalberer began creating natural structures back in 1984, he’s helped design more than 70 additional projects throughout Europe — and inspired thousands more willow designs around the world.