Environment - Energy

Building Green

Green Communities

Cleaner Coast

Green Blue Jeans

Greener Lifestyle

Wildfires

Tsunami

Green Office

Save Green By Building Green

pic(NAPSI)-You can help the ecology and your own economy by going green.

Being energy efficient and eco-friendly is more popular and more accepted than ever before. For homeowners, green is not only the right thing to do for the environment; it's the smart thing to do for their bank accounts. A common misconception is that going green is always expensive. The reality is there are many green home improvements that can help increase energy efficiency at home while actually saving money and providing a healthy return on investment.

To help you establish a green home while saving cash, consider the following tips:

• Save on your energy bill. Replacing leaky, single-panewindows with high-efficiency, Energy Star−qualified windows can save hundreds of dollars a year. With more efficient windows, you use less energy, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

• Add insulation. According to the Department of Energy, ensuring your home has adequate levels of insulation can save up to 30 percent on energy bills.

• Take advantage of incentives and rebates. Applying for government rebates can further increase the return on investment for a green upgrade. To look for rebates and incentives, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.

• Quality products pay you back. Using quality products pays off. You don't have to replace them as often, diverting tons of materials from landfills each year. A good example is CertainTeed's Cedar Impressions Siding. The polymer siding comes backed by a lifetime, limited warranty; it's a long-lasting, low-maintenance and durable product.

• Increase your resale value. Some green products increase the value of a home in the long run. For example, a recent Cost vs. Value report conducted by Hanley Wood, LLC, shows that if a homeowner chooses fiber cement, 83 percent of the cost can be recouped when the home is sold. CertainTeed WeatherBoards fiber cement contains 50 percent recycled content--making it an excellent choice.

• Protect the community. Choosing products with the environment in mind is a great start to ensuring a healthy community and preserving the environment in your neighborhood. Do your part by selecting products that are produced by companies that embrace sustainability in their operations.

Homeowners looking to green their home and save some cash have many options. To find out more about sustainable efforts, visit www.certainteed.com.

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Coloring Our Communities Green
by David Wenzel,
HNTB Corporation

pic(NAPSI)-Going green is more than making our individual homes, buildings and cars friendlier to the environment.

It's thinking green for the entire community.

Sustainable towns and cities are within our reach, thanks to innovations that provide public services while protecting, as well as improving, our environment, including:

• Roads less traveled. Changing the way we get around can make a big difference. Fewer as well as more efficient cars on the road would have the most impact. Washington state has set goals for reducing vehicular miles driven. Greater use of public transportation also has received more attention. So has a focus on renewing neighborhoods that puts people closer to their jobs.

• Creative drainage. Modern systems route drainage through crushed rock banks along the roadside, filtering and cooling the water, then running it underground where temperatures are lower. The water reaching rivers is cleaner and cooler, which is healthier for plants, fish and other wildlife.

• Stormwater planters. Streets also are being designed to channel filtered drainage into roadside "stormwater planters" made up of native flowers and grasses. They appeal to the eye and offset carbon emissions while reusing drainage water in a positive manner.

• Tires as fill. Tires are being ground up and mixed with sand and other soils to use as fill in construction projects. This reduces waste and conserves natural materials.

• Combining renewables. In in a number of communities, plans are being considered to use a combination of solar panels, wind towers and underwater river turbines to light a parks area, including roads, trails and bridges.

• Methane captured. Sewage treatment plants discharge methane 24 hours a day, usually into the open air, when it can be put to better use. As an example, some plants now capture and burn methane to generate energy and power the facility.

Having met with more than 40 transportation officials across the country, it's clear to me that sustainability has become a requirement for many communities.

A recent survey from HNTB shows the public agrees. More than six in 10 (64 percent) are willing to pay more today for national infrastructure that is energy-efficient and less wasteful in order to save money and resources in the long run.

Americans should work together, carefully planning, designing and constructing infrastructure that improves our quality of life and our economic competitiveness while respecting the environment.

We owe that to ourselves and to the next generation.

To learn more about America's sustainable infrastructure, visit www.hntb.com.

David Wenzel, AICP, LEED-AP, is the sustainability services chair for HNTB.

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Toward A Cleaner Coast

pic(NAPSI)-Trash, it appears, is all wet. That's because so much of it ends up in the world's oceans, lakes, rivers and streams--but it doesn't have to.

The Problem

In a new report, "Trash Travels," the Ocean Conservancy demonstrates marine debris has become one of the most widespread pollution problems the world faces.

The organization estimates that about two-thirds of all ocean debris starts out on land as items considered "disposable" by today's standards--straws, soda cans, plastic bags, eating utensils and food containers.

What's Being Done

In fact, in a single day's cleanup, almost a half-million people in 108 countries collected 7.4 million pounds--over 10 million individual pieces--of trash. More than 50,000 of the volunteers came from Coca-Cola, which turned out employees in 35 different countries. Bank of America, as part of a 10-year initiative to help address climate change, turned out thousands as well.

"The ocean is our life-support system, and when we trash it we are trashing our own health and well-being," said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy. "Eliminating marine debris will improve the ocean's resilience to climate change and other threats, but cleanups alone cannot solve the problem--it's time to stop marine debris at the source. We all have a role to play: Corporations can reduce packaging, governments can enact strong marine debris policies and each of us can reuse items, recycle when possible and always put trash securely in its place."

At her organization, they believe it's time to look beneath the surface to see where the health of our planet really begins. All living things are connected to the ocean, she says, and it's time to understand that going green starts with living blue.

What You Can Do

The 25th anniversary International Coastal Cleanup will be held on September 25th, 2010. You can volunteer to be a part of it.

Learn More

You can learn more, sign up for a cleanup or download the full report at www.oceanconservancy.org or call (800) 519-1541.

You can be part of a sea change when it comes to cleaner oceans--the source that sustains you day to day with the food you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe.

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Clean And Green Blue Jeans

pic(NAPSI)-According to a recent survey conducted by Infogroup | ORC on behalf of Whirlpool brand, despite advances in high-efficiency laundry, many consumers don't realize the environmental impact of their laundry habits. With the average American doing more than four loads of laundry each week, it can be important to reduce the environmental effect of that age-old chore.

To help, consider these simple tricks to keep jeans looking newer, longer and without wasted water and energy:

• Hot and cold: According to the survey, 48 percent of respondents who do laundry believed that water temperature has no effect on the environment. However, washing clothes in cold water can positively affect the environment (check the label to be sure of appropriate care instructions). Using cold water also helps prevent shrinking and color fading.

• Fully loaded: Thirty-three percent of respondents said a specific denim cycle would make a big difference in how they efficiently and accurately care for their clothing. Another way to be more efficient--wait for a full load of laundry when running a cycle to save an average of 3,400 gallons of water per year.

• True blues: Fourteen percent of consumers worry about fading and fabric wear and tear of their denim when washing and 41 percent do not allow anyone but themselves to wash their jeans. To help, the experts at the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science recommend wearing jeans a few times before washing, and when you do wash jeans, turn them inside out.

• Circle of life: Don't trash old jeans; instead, donate clean, gently worn jeans so others can enjoy the blues.

• Learn more: For more tips, visit www.instituteoffabricscience.com/.

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Commuter Bikes Answer The Call For "Greener" Modes Of Getting Around

pic(NAPSI)-With gas prices high, the economy downturned and a greater consumer shift toward environmentally friendly products and living a "greener" lifestyle, bicycling is steadily growing as a regular mode of transportation. Bicycle manufacturers are catering to this market by producing new lines of commuter bikes designed specifically for daily transit.

Commuting via bicycle is healthier for both the environment and the cyclist. According to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), a four-mile round trip by bicycle prevents the production of 15 pounds of air pollution. If just one out of every 10 commuters who now drive to work switched to bicycling, the savings would amount to 2 billion gallons of gasoline per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25.4 million tons.

Performance Bicycle, the nation's No. 1 specialty bike retailer, recently launched the TransIt line of city and commuter bikes to help people make cycling part of their everyday routine. "I think we're in the midst of a renaissance of the American bicycle, and commuter bicycles are going to play a larger role in that trend," says Performance CEO Jim Thompson.

Many cities across the country are taking the initiative to encourage local commuters to bike to work by developing commuter bike paths and bike lanes on city streets. They also are providing bike "parking." Cycling to work and around town definitely takes planning, so commuters should take the time to map the best route, know how long the ride takes in order to leave in plenty of time, and possibly bring a change of clothes if it is hot.

Having the right bike is also of the utmost importance if you plan to trade in your car keys for two wheels. Fortunately, the new generation of transit or commuter bikes are designed to handle well and remain durable in urban environments--they can take the abuse of daily commutes far better than other types of bicycles.

Commuter bikes can range in price from $500 to $900 and address different needs and preferences. Performance Bicycle's TransIt line, for instance, includes five different models. One, the TransIt Kenan, is designed specifically for students to hop curbs, descend stairs and weave between walkers. Other models offer versatility, combining speed, utility and style. For a more complete list of commuter options, visit www.performancebike.com.

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Tips For Saving Lives And Property From Wildfires

pic(NAPSI)-Learning about the reality of wildfire danger can help save your home and those you love.

According to experts, wildfires across the country are burning hotter and faster than ever before. After a severe 1985 fire season that saw 1,400 homes burned nationally, the National Fire Protection Association, through an agreement with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Association of State Foresters, created the Firewise Program--to offer simple ways by which community members can work together to prevent their properties from becoming fuel for a wildfire.

"By learning about how wildfires spread and taking simple steps to reduce damage, we can adapt to the inevitability of wildfire danger," said Michele Steinberg, Firewise Program Manager in Quincy, Mass. "Wildfires do not have to burn everything in their paths. You can prepare your home simply and effectively."

Residents can reduce the risk of their home's ignition by simply modifying their homes and immediate surroundings. For example, to make a home's landscape Firewise, create space around the home to reduce wildfire threat. Reduce vegetation surrounding a home (30-100 feet, depending on the area's risk of wildfire) and prune large trees so that the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet high to prevent a wildfire from spreading up to the treetops. When planting, choose low-growing, carefully placed shrubs and trees so the area can also be more easily maintained. Even something as simple as cleaning gutters and eaves of leaves and debris can prevent an ember from igniting a home.

Also, when possible, choose Firewise construction materials for homes, decks, porches and fences. The most protective roofing materials will be rated "Class-A," including asphalt shingles and metal, cement and concrete products. Wall materials most resistant to heat and flames include brick, cement, plaster, stucco and concrete masonry. Double-paned or tempered glass windows also make a home more resistant to heat and flames.

Our increasingly damaging wildfire seasons may be caused by rising temperatures that in turn create drier wildfire fuels such as scrub, grass and brush. Also, millions of people are moving into formerly rural and wild areas vulnerable to wildfire, which presents added challenges for firefighters.

For more information on taking real action to reduce wildfire damage in your community, visit www.firewise.org.

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A Film On The Tsunami Sparks A Wave Of Interest

pic(NAPSI)-A new documentary tells the story of the tsunami of 2004--and its aftermath--from the perspective of those who lived through it. The documentary film tries to capture what happens after the media and public attention moves on to the next big headline, while the critical work of healing and recovery have only just begun.

In December 2004, an undersea earthquake produced a series of waves unlike any ever recorded. Reaching heights of 100 feet and traveling over 5,000 miles, "The Tsunami," as it came to be known, leveled coastal communities and killed more than 230,000 people. Ultimately, it was considered by some to be one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

The film--"Kepulihan: Stories from the Tsunami"--follows the lives of three survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. These individuals actively volunteered to tell their stories and participate in the making of the film. The film's title comes from an Indonesian word for healing and recovery.

As the film crew returned to Sumatra each year, the survivors being profiled were allowed to view footage from their previous interviews so that they could reflect on their experience and report on their lives since then.

Filmmakers were intent on allowing each survivor to participate in the creation of the documentary, letting it play a critical role in their personal recovery process.

The film attempts to draw a clear line between the immediacy of news coverage and attention in the aftermath of a disaster and how people's lives are impacted for years after a life-altering event. The end result is the need for long-term disaster recovery assistance.

Filmmaker David Barnhart worked closely with partner groups, including The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, relief workers and medical agencies, to establish a connection with the people being considered for the documentary.

Barnhart has specialized in documenting communities impacted by war and natural disasters, focusing his lens in Latin America and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also profiled homeless migrant workers in Chicago and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

To learn more, visit the film's Facebook page or http://thetsunamifilm.com.

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Editor's Note: The film will air on select ABC affiliates throughout the country on November 21, 2010. Check local listings or contact local ABC affiliates for information.

 

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Simple Steps To Make Your Office Green

pic(NAPSI)-When thinking about ways to reduce your environmental footprint, a great place to start being "green" may be the office, whether at home or at work. From paper and printers to lights and furniture, there are many ways to make a difference. Going green can be easy and it can become part of your daily routine. There is a wide selection of products that incorporate environmental features, such as recycled content, environmental certifications and environmentally friendly designs to help you go green. Here are 10 easy and affordable ways to reduce your environmental impact at the office:

Eco-Friendly Tips for Any Office

1. Whether it's reusing old stationery as scratch paper, setting up a recycle bin for cans and water bottles or separating boxes and newspapers, make sure materials in the office are properly sorted to be recycled.

2. Take your old computers, monitors, laptops, printers, faxes and all-in-ones to any Staples U.S. store and drop them off at the customer service desk to be recycled. All brands are accepted for recycling regardless of where they were purchased. Staples also provides ink and toner cartridge recycling.

3. Set up computers and other energy-draining equipment (copiers, fax machines) to go on standby to reduce energy consumption. Consider ENERGY STAR−certified products, which are 50 percent more energy efficient than standard units.

4. Save materials and important documents digitally on your computer instead of in file cabinets. Consider a printer from the Staples HP EcoEasy line of printers, which use up to 50 percent less paper with double-sided printing.

5. Turn off equipment at the end of the day or before the weekend starts and unplug equipment until it is needed, since many machines consume energy even in the "off" position.

6. Replace any incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs that last up to 10 times longer.

7. Make over your desk with eco-conscious products. In addition to recycled paper, Staples offers a wide selection of eco-conscious products such as bamboo flash drives and remanufactured toner cartridges.

8. Use eco-conscious cleaning products when tidying up the office. Staples' Sustainable Earthฎ cleaning products provide powerful cleaning action and minimize impacts to the environment.

9. Look into furniture and cubicles that are Greenguard certified (www.greenguard.org). The materials in these products have been tested for toxic emissions. Products that are under the allowable limits of toxins are defined by the U.S. Green Building Council as Greenguard products.

10. Carpool to work; if you and a co-worker live by each other, riding to work together will reduce polluting car emissions. If you live close to work, think about walking or riding a bike.

For more information on going green, visit www.staples.com/ecoeasy.

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