Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green Engineering Principles

The 12 Principles of Green Engineering, courtesy of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®:

  1. Inherent Rather Than Circumstantial: Designers need to strive to ensure that all materials and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently nonhazardous as possible.
  2. Prevention Instead of Treatment: It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.
  3. Design for Separation: Separation and purification operations should be designed to minimize energy consumption and materials use.
  4. Maximize Efficiency: Products, processes, and systems should be designed to maximize mass, energy, space, and time efficiency.
  5. Output-Pulled Versus Input-Pushed: Products, processes, and systems should be "output pulled" rather than "input pushed" through the use of energy and materials.
  6. Conserve Complexity: Embedded entropy and complexity must be viewed as an investment when making design choices on recycle, reuse, or beneficial disposition.
  7. Durability Rather Than Immortality: Targeted durability, not immortality, should be a design goal.
  8. Meet Need, Minimize Excess: Design for unnecessary capacity or capability (e.g., "one size fits all") solutions should be considered a design flaw.
  9. Minimize Material Diversity: Material diversity in multicomponent products should be minimized to promote disassembly and value retention.
  10. Integrate Material and Energy Flows: Design of products, processes, and systems must include integration and interconnectivity with available energy and materials flows.
  11. Design for Commercial "Afterlife": Products, processes, and systems should be designed for performance in a commercial "afterlife."
  12. Renewable Rather Than Depleting: Material and energy inputs should be renewable rather than depleting.

Reference: Anastas, P.T., and Zimmerman, J.B., Design through the Twelve Principles of Green Engineering, Env. Sci. and Tech., 37, 5, 94A-101A, 2003.

Eat Real in Oakland - August 28-30, 2009

Street food, fresh summer fruits and veggies, live music, handcrafted local beers, ice cream sold from the back of a bicycle. Find it all and more at Eat Real, a free festival, taking place August 28-30 at Jack London Square. In between the good eats, enjoy the non-stop entertainment and activities that include chef demonstrations, dance performances, bands, films, food competitions, and lots more, for free.

Proceeds from the event benefit People’s Grocery, La Cocina, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers, organizations promoting access to healthy and affordable food, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

About Eat Real Festival:
Founded in 2008, Eat Real Festival is a social venture created to inspire eaters to choose tasty, healthy, good food. Through a vibrant, local festival in Oakland, and a focus on delicious and sustainable street food, Eat Real puts eaters in contact with the real people -- the farmers, chefs, and producers -- who make our food.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Green Zebra Opens Environmental Action Center

Green Zebra recently opened their Environmental Action Center (EAC) in Crocker Galleria (50 Post Street between Montgomery and Kearny) in downtown San Francisco.

What you'll find at the EAC:
  • Determine the solar capacity of your roof and how to have a solar system installed for no money down
  • Discover how much water (and money) you can save by collecting rainwater
  • Learn about less-toxic products and techniques to keep pests under control in your garden
  • Try out a few solar and carbon footprint calculators
  • Take home informational brochures and wallet guides with information you need to make choices that are healthier for you and the planet
  • Demystify what types of waste belong in each of your colored garbage bins
  • Learn how to compost
  • Drop off your old cell phones, used printer cartridges, and household batteries
  • Climb aboard the electricity making machine to pedal off a few calories and get a feel for how much human power it takes to light a bulb, play a radio, or run a fan
You'll also find 2009 Green Zebra guides for San Francisco and the Peninsula/Silicon Valley priced at $15 (40% off retail). Each edition acts as a green business directory that describes and presents thousands of dollars in savings from more than 150 local green companies.

The official launch party is Thursday, August 27, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. There will be music, eco-friendly cocktails, and local, organic snacks. There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is requested to events[at]remakelounge[dot]com.

ASTM Sustainability Committee Meeting

The ASTM Sustainability Committee (E60) will have their semi-annual meeting October 18-22, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Georgia.

ASTM staff will provide several training sessions on various subjects (including "Developing and Revising an ASTM Standard" and a workshop on Life Cycle Assessment) to educate and assist officers, members, and non-members of ASTM committees.

One must be registered to attend ASTM Meetings. The cut-off for ASTM preregistration is Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Onsite registration may be available after this date.

RecycleBank Motivates Recyclers With Rewards

New York-based RecycleBank tracks how much you recycle, and awards points that you can redeem for rewards such as groceries. The result: RecycleBank has more than doubled recycling rates in every community that has deployed its program.

According to RecycleBank Co-Founder and CEO, Ron Gonen, "Our goal at RecycleBank is to progress societies' view of the product lifecycle from linear to cyclical. Since the discarding of product in a linear lifecycle destroys value, then the reuse and recycling of that product should create value. I believe that in order for a cyclical product lifecycle to be created and remain sustainable, value must be passed back to the entity, households, who are responsible for providing each product a cyclical lifecycle."

As part of its contract with cities, RecycleBank gives every home a special container with a chip embedded in it. When a recycling truck picks up the container, the weight is electronically recorded and translates into RecycleBank points (1 lb of recycled materials = 2.5 RecycleBank Points). Participants can use the points at retailers such as and Whole Foods.

When cities and universities asked for a solution to help increase recycling among campuses and apartments (where a household-based curbside program wasn't possible), RecycleBank developed and now offers Kiosk recycling.

In Wilmington, Delaware, for example, RecycleBank has diverted 33 percent of the city's waste into recycling, saving it $1.5 million a year. RecycleBank gets a portion of the city's savings, and citizens get paid to recycle.

Free Workshop Explains the Financial Side of Doing Good

SOCAP09 (Social Capital Markets 2009) is being held in San Francisco September 1-3, 2009. If the $1,195 registration fee is beyond your budget but you are interested in intersection of money and meaning, don’t miss the free pre-conference workshop being offered on September 1 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm by Social Venture Technology Group. SOCAP09 registrants and non-registrants are welcome.

The target audience for the workshop is leaders from companies, NGOs, foundations, and investors in charge of allocating funds who want a better understanding of the tools available to measure and quantify the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts of their investments.

The interactive workshop will cover how to set impact goals, determine the right metrics to track, understand how to track them over time, and communicate results for the greatest influence. SVT Group will also share strategies for managing the information successfully, and discuss the latest tools and trends in impact measurement.

New Benchmark for CO2?

In an interview with Agence France Presse, Rajendra Pachauri, the UN's top climate scientist and head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stated the following when asked if he supported calls to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm):

"As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) I cannot take a position because we do not make recommendations, but as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target."

The IPCC's last report, which came out in the winter of 2007, didn't actually set a target for CO2, but it was widely interpreted as backing a goal of 450 ppm, a number that many environmental groups and governments (including the Obama administration) have since embraced.

Posted here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Green Is It?

Throughout August, All Things Considered (a program on National Public Radio) will examine some of the things Americans are doing — and buying — to help the environment, and if those steps really are as "green" as they seem.

Topics will include:
  • Green cars and 'Cash for Clunkers' program
  • Bring your own bags
  • Green electricity and renewable energy
  • Energy Star certification
  • Replacement windows and weather-stripping
  • Bamboo
Podcasts and transcripts available here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Get The Lead Out

AstroTurf settles an environmental lawsuit with California over lead used to keep the artificial turf green.
Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2009

The company that makes AstroTurf, a pioneering brand of artificial grass, has settled an environmental lawsuit with the state of California, agreeing to eliminate almost all lead from its product.

In the settlement, AstroTurf said it would pay $60,000 for testing of artificial playing fields at day care centers, schools and public facilities, the state said.

AstroTurf will also send warnings to California customers who bought artificial grass in the last five years and create a website to provide information on safe maintenance and testing procedures.

AstroTurf will pay $170,000 in civil penalties, grants, and attorney fees as part of the agreement with Attorney General Jerry Brown and two other plaintiffs, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Solano County District Attorney David W. Paulson. California decided to take action against the three companies after it received a legal notice from an advocacy group, Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health, that it intended to file a private lawsuit on the lead-warning issue.

Two other companies named in the lawsuit, Beaulieu Group of Dalton, Georgia, and FieldTurf USA Inc. of Calhoun, Georgia, have not settled but are in talks with the attorney general's office. Beaulieu said it has voluntarily reformulated its turf products.

Read the complete story here:,0,157632.story

Friday, August 14, 2009

Help Plant A Tree

Soul of the City, an initiative of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, is partnering with Urban Releaf on Saturday, August 22, to plant 50 trees along West MacArthur Boulevard, between West Street and San Pablo Avenue.

Planting trees is one of the best ways to clean the air, beautify the neighborhood, and raise the standard of living. They will also pick up trash, plant flowers, and talk with community members about the importance of clean air and caring for the neighborhood.

Volunteers are welcome. The fun begins at 10:00 am. Refreshments and entertainment will be provided.

RSVP here, and if you can't volunteer your time, but still want to help, donate a few bucks here.

StopWaste.Org Wins Award For Outstanding Waste Prevention Program

Innovative Campaign Cuts Transport Packaging Waste and Cost
StopWaste Partnership, Oakland, California, August 12, 2009

Last week, StopWaste.Org's "Use Reusables" campaign won the 2009 award for Best Waste Prevention Program from the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA). The award honors innovative and effective initiatives that help move California closer to its sustainability goals.

The "Use Reusables" campaign helps companies throughout the Bay Area streamline and "green" their supply chain by replacing cardboard boxes, wood pallets, and other short-lived transport packaging materials with reusable alternatives. Bay Area companies who have already made the switch to reusables have saved millions of dollars in packaging expenses and disposal costs.

StopWaste is currently expanding the program throughout the region to help even more businesses realize the economic, environmental and supply chain efficiencies of reusable transport packaging, and will be offering free training workshops later this year.

For more information about the "Use Reusables" campaign please visit

More Open Space Saved

Conservationists secure rest of Franklin Canyon
Richard Procter, San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2009

The Muir Heritage Land Trust signed an amended agreement this month that adds 60 acres to the 423 acres of Franklin Canyon the group purchased last year. Franklin Canyon, located in Hercules, has been the target of development projects on several occasions because of the terrain's flat and building-friendly nature.

The land trust had been in continuous negotiation with the property owners, a consortium of investors, since the initial agreement was signed last year. The continued negotiations were a result of the extreme desirability of the final 60 acres, which had been identified as the most easy-to-develop part of the property.

The final acreage was purchased for $830,000. The group will have until June to raise $2.6 million to complete the transaction.

Read the complete story here:

Navy Releases Sustainable Remediation Fact Sheet

The NAVFAC Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center Optimization Work Group has released a Sustainable Environmental Remediation Fact Sheet.

The Fact Sheet presents a definition of sustainable environmental remediation (SER), example SER metrics, an example environmental footprint methodology, and suggestions on how to reduce environmental footprints.

A member of the group says it continues to work on other sustainability guidance and products in an effort to bring awareness to sustainable practices throughout all phases of remediation.

Environmental Issues Forum

Learning How to Live Sustainably in the 21st Century
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Healthy Oakland, 2580 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland

The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Environmental Issues Forum will work to educate and empower residents and community leaders. Hear from environmental organization leaders about their programs and services.

Speakers include:
  • Kemba Shakur, Urban Releaf
  • Rebecca Parnes, Waste Management
  • Tom Guarino, PG&E
  • Cookie Robles-Wong, Keep Oakland Beautiful
  • Commissioner Margaret Gordon, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
  • Starr Britt, Oakland Progress Project
For more information, email staff[at]bwopa[dot]org.