As a special treat for Urban Bandit readers, Cliff Barre, co-author of the fabulous blog Peace, Love, & Travel with Cliff and Tiff, gives us his rundown of inspiring projects across the US to remind us that there’s lots of good green stuff going on out there! Please enjoy this guest post by Cliff.
Many people find something they are passionate about and use that to start a hobby or pastime. My passion for green initiatives has spawned much more than a hobby. Yes, I enjoy reading and researching about green initiatives being implemented by cities, corporations, and individuals. I also enjoy bringing information about them to my readers. However, my goal is far greater than those of most hobbyists. I hope to raise awareness and effect change through my actions. Recently, I read about several green initiatives that have been implemented across the United States, and I’d like to share them. On the most basic level, perhaps these will give some hope to those of you who, like me, may get discouraged over the threat of global warming and continued mismanagement by many companies and nations worldwide. On a deeper level, perhaps reading about some of these initiatives will lead you to pursue green initiatives personally or in your own business ventures.
Destiny USA, one of the largest entertainment sources in Syracuse, was built on already developed land, and the entire facility has been engineered to high ecological standards. To minimize cooling costs in the building, the roof of the expansion was constructed from white thermoplastic polyolefin or TPO. Unlike traditional black roofs, roofs made from TPO help to keep buildings cool by reflecting the sun. This ultimately translates into lower cooling costs and less energy usage. What’s more, the expansion roof isn’t just saving electrical energy, but also water conservation. It has a system in place for rainwater collection that is used to flush toilets in common areas as well as individual tenants. Destiny USA was credited by the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED with Exemplary Performance for the rainwater harvesting system on the roof that will save 4 million gallons of water annually, a 78% reduction in the buildings baseline usage.
Venturing out west, few people would guess that Fog City, San Francisco, would become the home of innovations in solar energy. In 2004, that’s exactly what happened when 60,000 square feet of photovoltaic cells were installed on the city’s Moscone Convention Center. Despite the concern of cloud cover, experts indicate that strong sun is not necessary for solar power to be absorbed by the panels. Success of the project has led to the installation of similar panels on a wide variety of buildings throughout San Francisco. The ongoing efforts of the Moscone Convention Center have led them to LEED Gold Certification.
Businesses in Salt Lake City can take advantage of waste to heat buildings. This innovation grew from a need to cut costs when the price of natural gas spiked after Hurricane Katrina. At the time, brothers Jon and Phillip Lear had decided to open offices in an old home in downtown Salt Lake City. While contemplating alternative heating and cooling options, they came up with the idea of heating the building with warm sewage water (ed. note: called Poop Pumps!). Through collaboration with engineers at Sound Geothermal Corporation, the brothers were able to incorporate a system that saves them 40 percent on operations of their heating and cooling system. The city’s public-utilities director hopes to see this type of system installed in other public buildings soon.
Green initiatives provide hope. They also serve to make our world a better place. As we strive to save planet earth from destructive measures, each initiative adds up toward success!
It’s always so neat to hear about projects like this! Sometimes I wonder about the sustainability of the materials used in these projects, though, simply because they are always touted for their benefits. For example, is TPO recycled? Recyclable? What happens when a solar cell reaches the end of its life? I don’t deny that these are excellent ways of reducing humanity’s effect on our earth, but I also think we should be asking ourselves these questions as we progress with eco-friendly technologies.
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