Friday, May 22, 2009

Greening This Old House

Greening This Old House
By Bryan Walsh
Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009,8816,1893514,00.html

Would Abraham Lincoln have gone green? Frank Milligan thinks so. Milligan is the director of President Lincoln's Cottage, a Gothic Revival mansion on a breezy hill a few miles from the White House, where Lincoln and his family sought relief from the summer heat during the Civil War. The cottage and its surrounding buildings were made a national monument in 2000, and in preparation for its opening last year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation carried out a multimillion-dollar renovation. But preservationists didn't just restore the buildings. They greened them, beginning with the Beaux Arts house next door that now serves as a visitors' center. Renovators kept 98% of the house's existing walls, roofs and floors and used recyclable material for the rest. Large windows were put in to reduce the need for artificial lighting, and low-flow plumbing was installed to cut water waste. The renovations earned the visitors' center a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council--and made the site a model for historic buildings in need of a face-lift. "Lincoln was always ahead of his time," says Milligan. "And going green is the future."

When we think of green buildings, we tend to think of new ones--the kind of high-tech, solar-paneled masterpieces that make the covers of architecture magazines. But the U.S. has more than 100 million existing homes, and it would be incredibly wasteful (not to mention totally unrealistic) to tear them all down and replace them with greener versions. An enormous amount of energy and resources went into the construction of those dwellings. And it would take an average of 65 years for the reduced carbon emissions from a new energy-efficient home to make up for the resources lost by demolishing an old one. So in the broadest sense, the greenest home is the one that has already been built. But at the same time, nearly half of U.S. carbon emissions come from heating, cooling and powering our homes, offices and other buildings. "You can't deal with climate change without dealing with existing buildings," says Richard Moe, the president of the National Trust.

With some exceptions, the oldest homes tend to be the least energy-efficient. Houses built before 1939 use about 50% more energy per square foot than those built after 2000. The main culprit? Tiny cracks and gaps that expand over time and let in more outside air.

Fortunately, there are a tremendous number of relatively simple changes that can green older homes, from historic ones like Lincoln's Cottage to your own postwar abode. And efficiency upgrades can save more than just the earth; they can help shield property owners from rising power costs. Moreover, a nationwide effort to improve existing buildings could create hundreds of thousands of green jobs. (In addition to using less raw materials, renovations are often more labor-intensive per dollar spent than new construction is.) "There's an enormous opportunity here," says Lane Burt, an energy-policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Energy efficiency is a way to spend now to create jobs, while still saving down the line."

The stimulus package includes some $8 billion for weatherization programs for low-income households, but that will cover only a small slice of the country's housing stock. To promote the greening of existing buildings, the National Trust last month launched the Preservation Green Lab, a think tank based in Seattle, and is working with members of Congress to pass energy-efficiency legislation that would increase rebates and subsidies to cover as much as half the cost of a green retrofit. Such incentives are vital. Although lower utility costs mean upgrades will pay for themselves over time, the up-front cost of better insulation or double-pane windows can be prohibitive, especially during a recession.

In the meantime, you can make small changes to begin greening your home. You don't need solar panels or rooftop wind turbines. You just need a good caulking gun. Start by thinking of your house as a submarine, and plug the leaks in your walls, doors and windows. Be sure to insulate the attic and the basement, since up to 20% of energy costs can come from heat loss in those spaces. A home energy audit is also a good idea; details how to do one yourself as well as how to go about hiring a professional. So be like Lincoln and savor the summer breezes, but avoid winter drafts.,9171,1893514,00.html

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What is Green?
Green consumer habits
Earth Day is past : Now what can we do?

Businesses are getting into the spirit of environmentalism

By Claudia Buck

McClatchy Newspapers

3:19 PM CDT, May 12, 2009

If only cash sprouted as easily as backyard weeds, we'd all be cheering. But greening up your wallet is still doable. Here are some Earth-friendly money habits you might want to adopt.

Green Donations

It's grown from a Bay Area brainstorm into a global campaign to get businesses into the spirit of environmentalism. Buy a shirt, a chocolate bar, a beer -- even fencing supplies or legal services -- and 1 percent of the company's gross sales are pledged to environmental nonprofit groups.

Since launching from a California Patagonia store in 2002, the One Percent for the Planet -- or 1% FTP -- program has now spread to some 1,138 businesses in 38 countries, said Terry Kellogg, the Vermont-based CEO of 1% FTP.

The participating companies range from big retailers like Sony to independent jewelry sellers. The recipients run from high-profile nonprofits like the Sierra Club to tiny grassroots groups. Based on company audits, Kellogg said more than $42 million has been contributed to environmental causes in the past six years.

For details go to, One Percent for the Planet

Green Funds

One way to feel environmentally good about your investing dollars is with so-called "green mutual funds."

The Green Money Journal recently released its new Top 10 list of mutual funds that invest in companies devoted to alternative energy, clean water, organic products and those that avoid alcohol, tobacco, gambling or weapons.

The annual list is a mix of new funds and those that have changed or enhanced their investment mix to be more environmentally conscious, said Cliff Feigenbaum, founder and president of the Green Money Journal, based in Santa Fe, N.M.

His list of mutual funds that are "greening it up": Appleseed Fund, Integrity Growth & Income Fund, Wells Fargo Advantage Social Sustainability Fund, Dreyfus Global Sustainability Fund, Calvert Large Cap Value Fund, Calvert Global Water Fund, Pax World Global Green Fund, Pax World International Fund, Pax World Small Cap Fund and Firsthand Alternative Energy Fund.

For more details, go to Green Money

Green Banking

All kinds of companies, from banks to your local utility, are urging customers to switch to electronic billing, statements and payments. The notion: Pay online, save a tree. Or two.

Pay It Green is a coalition of financial services companies that promotes electronic billing. According to the coalition, if the average U.S. household switched to electronic payments, it would annually save 6.6 pounds of paper, eliminate 4.5 gallons of gasoline (consumed by mailing and delivering all those paper payments) and eliminate 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions (the equivalent of 169 miles of driving or conserving 24 square feet of forestland).

A handy calculator at lets you compute your "financial paper footprint." Another proponent, eBill Place, puts it more personally. By its "Cash & Time" calculation, the average family would save $50 a year in postage and five hours of time spent writing and stuffing checks into envelopes.

Green Plastic

If your wallet is weighed down by plastic gift cards, credit cards, gasoline cards and such, maybe it's time for some pruning. As we all know, clipping up or paying down costly credit cards can be a huge lift to your bank account.

But don't just snip and toss that plastic. If it's a used-up gift card, ask to have it reloaded with cash. If it's a no-longer-needed credit card, hotel key or other plastic, toss it in your recycling bin.

But check to be sure it's actually recyclable; some companies are converting to biodegradable materials. The Sacramento, Calif., landfill says most aren't suitable for recycle.

A greener solution? Pop it in the mail to Earthworks System, a company in Solon, Ohio, that's on a crusade to rid the world's landfills of those tiny rectangles of credit. For more information on Earthworks, go to,0,6869925.story

Youth creates 'Vision of an Eco-Friendly Earth'

From Society Scene |A marketing publication of the Sun-Sentinel Company
May 20, 2009

The Craig Zinn Automotive Group, South Florida's Premier Auto Group, joined Young At Art Children's Museum and Kids Ecology Corps to host the "Vision of an Eco-Friendly Earth" art contest awards ceremony and family-friendly reception at Lexus of Pembroke Pines. The event celebrated the achievements of all participants and winners of the "Vision of an Eco-Friendly Earth" art contest. More than 300 students in grades 6 through 12 throughout the tri-county area created their "Vision of an Eco-Friendly Earth." This contest not only showcased students' artistic talents, but also helped spread the word on fuel and economic efficiency in transportation.

"We were thrilled to host such an educational, fun and inspirational event that allows us to be involved with our community's 'green' initiative," said President and CEO of The Craig Zinn Automotive Group, Craig Zinn. "With the construction of our new eco-friendly Lexus dealership under way in North Miami, we strive to encourage South Floridians to work toward making our world a healthier and safer place. We believe that our efforts as a business and community will expand to other areas and aid in keeping the earth clean."

Prizes included gift certificates to The Craig Zinn Automotive Group dealerships, $350 in cash prizes, Apple Store gift cards and gift baskets filled with art supplies.

The event also featured a caricaturist and a live raffle with items such as an autographed Miami Heat basketball, a $200 Visa gift card to Sawgrass Mills Mall and a Young At Art annual membership basket.,0,623517.story

Newman's Own Gift to Charity: $150 Mil

Two recent gifts to good causes mark a total of $150 million in charitable gifts the star has made out of profits from his food company, Newman's Own.

By Stephen M. Silverman

Originally posted Tuesday November 11, 2003 10:30 AM EST

Paul Newman never seems to close his checkbook.

Last week, the "Cool Hand Luke" and "Road to Perdition" star, 78, sent a personal check for an unreported amount to Kansas's Franklin Community Council Inc., after the town was all but leveled by a tornado earlier this year, reports the Associated Press.

And on Monday, the star's publicist announced, Newman sent $100,000 to the Los Angeles Times/KTLA Fire Relief Fund, to support the victims of the recent fires that swept through Southern California, claiming 21 lives, more than 3,400 homes and charring nearly 750,000 acres.

This most recent gift marks a total of $150 million in charitable gifts Newman has made thanks to profits generated by his food company, Newman's Own. All profits and royalties (after taxes) from his salad dressing and other edibles go directly to educational and charitable organizations, says the rep.

In regard to his Kansas gift, "We decided that it would be best not to give the exact figure, but it was a lovely, generous amount," resident Phyllis Bitner said, as quoted by AP. "We haven't earmarked the money yet for a specific project, but it will go a long way toward something."

In the current issue of Time magazine (which, like PEOPLE, is part of Time Warner), Newman is quoted in an excerpt from his new book, "Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good," cowritten with A.E. Hotchner.

In it, he recalls the problems getting his Newman's Own food company off the ground back in 1982.

"No, offense, Mr. Newman," one money person told him, "but just because (the public) liked you as Butch Cassidy doesn't mean they'll like your salad dressing."

Eleven years and $150 million to charity later, that money person was wrong.,,627057,00.html

Breakpoint & Beyond - Mastering the Future Today

Breakpoint & Beyond - Mastering the Future Today
by George Land

The survival and success of a business depends on its ability to adapt to its changing environment. How can we equip ourselves and our organizations to deal with the world that is transforming right before our very eyes? The key is to understand the NEW rules of change. Today`s change is not just more rapid, more complex, more turbulent, and more unpredictable. Today`s change is unlike any encountered before. The surprising fact is that change itself has changed! By looking to our greatest teacher, Mother Nature, we can understand the natural change process. The ceaseless process of change takes on unique characteristics at different points in time. The rules governing change shift dramatically and almost without notice. These "Breakpoint" shifts follow the same master pattern whether they occur within a single atom, one`s personal life, or an entire organization.

Three phases of growth, called the Transformation Theory, define the life of any system over time. The first phase is very disorderly, creative and unpredictable as it strives to define its pattern. Energy is spent on trial and error. Once the bits and pieces of the pattern are assembled in a healthy system, then an abrupt change - a breakpoint - happens where the rules shift 180 degrees. An atom in water reaches breakpoint when the temperature reaches boiling point and its new environment becomes steam. An inventor reaches breakpoint once a prototype is marketable and is ready for production.

In phase two, experimenting ceases and the approach switches to extending, improving, and modifying the central pattern while discarding what does not fit. In fact, anything that does not fit the pattern will be rejected by the system. By standardizing policies and procedures, an organization efficiently grows larger in its second phase. When an organization has used up its potential in the environment, it reaches another breakpoint. Nature`s method of growth moves ahead, attempting to fulfill the potential of the growing organism. Many of today`s current management systems have reached this breakpoint.

In the third phase, the pattern is restructured and the new configuration must include elements that were rejected in the second phase. Disordering, reordering, and innovating all make up the method of change in the third phase. In organizations, the third phase demands new and desparate behaviors such as innovating, partnering with customers and suppliers, taking on community and environmental responsibility.

Understanding and working with the cycle of change can revolutionize the way one does business. However, understanding change is not enough to guarantee success. The unique interrelationship between vision, creativity, and connection is required to ensure the continued growth and success of an organization.

Shared Vision and Pull. What is the vision for the future? It is critical that everyone in the organization have an understanding of the vision. In nature, every one of the more than 60 trillion cells in the human body shares the same vision of the whole - the same DNA. Cells know where they are going, and in the process, can course-correct. In organizations, the shared common vision becomes the driving force, and decisions are not "by the book" but by the vision. The pull of the future always takes precedence over the past.

Creativity. Creativity allows you to bring into being things that never existed before and could not be predicted by the past. If decisions are based on the past, you will only create roadblocks and never realize your vision. Organizations that have a vision not only share it but encourage creativity and innovation from their employees to help build it.

Connection. We are connected inexorably to one another. We are all part of an interconnected whole, and any energy we spend putting up walls is swimming upstream against nature, and is going to cost us in stress, pain and the quality of our lives. It is non-judgmental respect or "unconditional love" for all employees that allows organizations to make major strides in fulfilling their vision.

For those who insist on clinging to traditional ways of looking at the world, change will continue to come so fast and in such unexpected forms that the future will no longer be a desirable place. But for those who are willing to move ahead with conscious awareness of the natural laws of change, the future offers unparalleled opportunity to reshape our lives, our organizations, and our world, into what we want.