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by Jennifer Grayson
HuffPost's Miss Eco Etiquette and Editor of The Red, White and Green
Posted: January 6, 2011 09:30 AM
I've heard that the internet and social networking use a lot of energy. Would deleting my Facebook account make a difference?
by Tom Breunig
January is a time we all look forward to because the new year holds such promise. We believe it's going to be a promising year for the green building industry -- despite flat market conditions for conventional homes, we've seen market share for high performance homes increase from 18.5 to 23 percent in the Portland Metro area alone. In both Seattle and Portland 1 of every 4 new homes is certified. Clearly the the time has come for energy efficiency, and with it, healthier green homes.
"If you choose to drink bottled water, recycling the bottle can have moderate environmental benefits. These benefits, however, are still overshadowed by the negative impacts of making and transporting the bottle in the first place." "In contrast, consuming the same quantity of water from the tap in an average reusable bottle, even if washed frequently in a highly inefficient dishwasher, reduces energy consumption by 85 percent and greenhouse gases by 79 percent (again compared against purchasing bottled water and disposing of each bottle)." This study by the Oregon DEQ came out in 2009, and is still quite relevant.
"If you choose to drink bottled water, recycling the bottle can have moderate environmental benefits. These benefits, however, are still overshadowed by the negative impacts of making and transporting the bottle in the first place."
"In contrast, consuming the same quantity of water from the tap in an average reusable bottle, even if washed frequently in a highly inefficient dishwasher, reduces energy consumption by 85 percent and greenhouse gases by 79 percent (again compared against purchasing bottled water and disposing of each bottle)."
This study by the Oregon DEQ came out in 2009, and is still quite relevant.
DEQ Study Confirms “Reduce First, then Recycle” Environmental Ethic Analysis of delivering drinking water shows that tap water is a far better environmental choice than recycling single-use bottles
DEQ Study Confirms “Reduce First, then Recycle” Environmental Ethic
Analysis of delivering drinking water shows that tap water is a far better environmental choice than recycling single-use bottles
It's refreshing to start a new year. There is just so much enthusiasm and passion for new projects and resolutions, especially on a campus, creating forward motion. In honor of this new year, let's take a look at some of the changes our world has seen in the past 10 years.
This wonderful graphic designed by Stephanie Fox at io9.com shows a neat summary of things have changed. My interest being energy, I was immediately impressed that compared to 2000, the US is using more than a quadrillion less BTUs per year. I was expecting to see that number to be higher - by a lot - than 2000. Certainly not almost equal. Does anything else stand out in the graphic to you?
A great way you can help reduce your energy consumption is by using less water, particularly hot water. Think about all the electricity used to pump and sanitize water before it gets to your tap and then again to filter, sanitize, and treat the waste water before it is released back into the river. Institute for the Analysis of Global Securityprovides some fascinating estimates from a report from back in 2004.
The average electricity use of the typical American home uses about 900 kwh and the the USGS estimates that a typical American uses about 80-100 gallons of water a day. Some estimates say that up to 30% of a home's energy costs are used to heat water!
The New York times recently published a great article about a growing movement to shower less often. Not only can showering less often help maintain the natural oils in your skin - especially in the dry, winter weather - but it uses less energy!
Using cold water cycles when doing laundry and washing dishes conscientiously are also great ways to cut down on hot water.
I'm curious about the role that the potential environmental impact plays when deciding how to do daily chores - and this month I'm focusing on laundry. Please take a minute and fill out this brief survey. I'm going to be working the next semester to develop an education campaign and would love to keep your perspective in mind!
To mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Aspen Institute convened environmental thought leaders to develop a report on 10 ways EPA has strengthened America.
"Over its 40-year history, EPA has evolved into the world's preeminent environmental regulatory agency through a balanced, three-pronged strategy, combining excellent science, regulatory enforcement, and engagement of all stakeholders in developing new solutions to environmental problems. EPA's balanced, multifaceted structure and operation sets the standard around the world for applying strong science, as well as economic incentives and disincentives, to achieve positive environmental outcomes while allowing businesses to grow and prosper," said Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson at an event unveiling the list. Happy Birthday EPA!
I've copied the 10 ways below because I thought they were so powerful, but please check out the original link (above) and the Aspen Institute's page about the 40th Anniversary.
As winter break approaches, it's an excellent time to think about how to save energy while you are away or traveling. The following is the note sent out by our facilities department to remind those on staff to conserve electricity during the winter closing.
In light of the university's commitment to saving energy, please unplug and turn off all appliances before you leave for break (December 18-26). Computers should be plugged in and turned off, unless you access your desktop remotely.
Special note on refrigerators: EACH DEPARTMENT SHOULD DESIGNATE 1-2 PEOPLE TO EMPTY, UNPLUG AND DEFROST THE OFFICE REFRIGERATOR FOR THE WINTER CLOSING. (Remember to prop the door open and be conscious of any additional moisture being released during defrosting.) In homes, refrigerators account for up to 14% of electricity consumption (Department of Energy). Let's capitalize on this opportunity to realize energy savings and start 2011 with a clean fridge!
For more information about conservation efforts and waste reduction at PSU, visit our Green Team Page or Sustainability Page.
Portland General Electric has an excellent list with suggestions for residents about how to save electricity while you are out of town or traveling for the holidays. The highlights: turning off your heat and unplugging appliances. Nothing new about these, but every little bit helps.
For those of us who pay our own utilities, often the first full cold month of the year can be a bit of a shock. Luckily, for those of us in the Portland Area, Portland General Electric has some great resources available to their customers to help lower their monthly electricity bills. Each month their newsletter includes great information. They regularly answer questions and provide tips for lowering your bill. My favorite resource is their page on how renters can lower their bill.
When I first got involved with energy conservation, the most often repeated advice I received was, "know how much you use." It's much easier to feel success when you can compare to your baseline - or those nearby! Check out Earth Aid, they'll automatically import your monthly usage and tell you how you compare to others in your areas. (I have to confess, according to Earth Aid, I use more electricity than the average Portlander. But I maintain that this is because my rental unit's washer/dryer and dishwasher are so old.)
After joining, I spent a month unplugging all my accessories, being very diligent about turning off the computer when I wasn't using it, turning down my hot water, and weatherizing my windows. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Earth Aid telling me I'd dropped my electricity use by almost 40%!
Give it a try and see how much you can save!