Monthly Archives: June 2008

Green Bridge gets green light

452987795_9a2b7fc719_m2.jpg From Effingham County one morning this week, Michael Maddox wrote in his blog, “After many long months, or more correctly years, I finally have approval from the Effingham County Commission to proceed with my project.”

The project, Green Bridge Farm, is one I have mentioned here before, and it’s been covered in local news.

Initial resistance from the county stemmed from Maddox’s request for a variance to have the community road paved with recycled concrete rather than asphalt. The variance was hard won and took many months to secure as an act of conservation. But it was worth, it, Maddox says: “This will pave the way for the future … for subdivisions [that are environmentally concerned].”

As a resident of a Wilmington Island neighborhood that was, 10 years ago, a big beautiful chunk of woods, I appreciate Maddox’s commitment to respect his property by limiting tree clearance and creating other eco-friendly covenants for home builders. The other new homes are nice, but they are haunted by the trees.

Another highlight of the project is that Maddox’s own organic garden and orchard will anchor the community of nine residential lots. Residents will be encouraged to participate in a community garden maintained by the association, offering a unique opportunity for people to grow their own food.

This is a little green gem worth checking out. Located not far from the rapidly developing areas of Pooler, Bloomingdale and Guyton, it seems a safe haven. Hopefully, it will get noticed and become a good example for communities to come.

Photo courtesy Conlawprof via flickr.com

It Doesn’t Always Have to be the West

It’s summer and I’ve had air conditioning on the brain -price to run it, high; emissions from it, high; temp in the grocery stores these days, way too low; etc. I was working on minimizing my home usage without melting away when I came across this announcement from my alma mater.

The University of California, Davis’ Western Cooling Efficiency Center and its partners (including Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Sempra Energy, Southern California Edison, Target Corporation, Wal-Mart, the California Energy Commission, and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others) announced the Western Cooling Challenge for the design, production, and marketing of high-efficiency rooftop cooling units for dry climates. The Challenge will help Western States to meet their green-house gas reduction targets, and supports a policy directive from the California Public Utilities Commission. It offers a major opportunity for the HVAC industry to begin to transition to a climate-sensitive future.

The partnership between academia, business, utilities & govt. is inspired regional problem solving that will create creative, green jobs in the process of lowering GHG emissions and operating costs in buildings that utilize the new tech.

How about the same sort of solution for our humid climates . . . GA Tech, SCAD, UGA, Home Depot, Southern Company. . . It doesn’t always have to be the west.

Connect Savannah recently featured THIS article by Jim Motavalli, editor of E: The Environmental Magazine.  The article pointed out that while the southeast continues to be a huge GHG emitter and is still lagging on per capita investment in green technology (it’s the nation’s lowest), sales of Energy Star products and policies to address climate change, we seem to finally be waking up.

What’s goin’ on around here: Do any of you readers know of cool regional partnerships addressing sustainability issues?

The Columbian Explanation

picture-1.pngThis Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a short interview with Enrique Peñalosa, a former mayor of Bogata, Columbia and current urban planning consultant. Peñalosa is associated with Bogata’s Ciclovia, described by Streets Films’ Clarence Eckerson, Jr. as “a weekly event in which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic where residents come out to walk, bike, run, skate, recreate, picnic, and talk with family, neighbors and strangers…”

Eckerson’s street film about Ciclovia is viewable here.

Now Ciclovia is migrating north. Could Savannah support a Ciclovia? Judging from the more than 250 people who turned out for the Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s April Savannah Wheelie ride, during which the streets were only temporarily closed, it’s likely longer street closings would tempt even more cyclists explore our streets. It’s nice to imagine my fellow citizens being able to use public spaces, which most of the time are designed and managed for the benefit of only one type of vehicle. Or as Peñalosa told the times:

“We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Not for people. Cars are a very recent invention. The 20th century was a horrible detour in the evolution of the human habitat. We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness.”

UPDATE: There’s a poll up now on the Savannah Bicycle Campaign Web site asking visitors to vote on which streets they would like to see closed to motorized traffic, so that they could be used by pedestrians, cyclists and skaters. Vote and even suggest alternate locations here.

Public Forum on Wind Energy

The Georgia Wind Working Group, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, and University of Georgia invite the public to learn about wind energy. This public forum will be a venue for the public—from local government representatives, local environmental and business groups,
and residents—to voice their support, questions or concerns about wind energy on the coast.

Agenda Topics:

• Wind energy resources in Georgia
• What are the benefits of wind energy?
• What are wind energy concerns?
• Wind energy technologies
• How is a wind project developed?

After the 30-minute presentation, the floor will be opened for a question and answer session with a panel of environmental and technical experts. For questions about the meeting in Oatland Island, contact: Mary Carr at wind@gawwg.org or call 404-659-5675. Event details can also be found at www.gawwg.org

The event will be held on June 25 from 7-9 p.m. at Oatland Island Wildlife Center, 711 Sandtown Road in Savannah .

Erik Writes, I Get Schooled

Erik Blachford, CEO of TerraPass, saw my post on carbon offsets and wrote to ask if he could help us better understand the wonderful world of carbon offsets –Of Course!, I replied. Talking to him helped me realize how complex the carbon finance world is AND got me motivated to learn more. The following is my list of highlights . . .

  • A carbon offset is a financial instrument that represents a reduction or removal of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, PFCs).
  • Countries, companies or individuals can purchase offsets from two types of offset markets: compliance & voluntary
  • The “Annex I” countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol (entering into a legally binding international agreement to reduce their collective emissions to 5.4% below 1990 levels by 2012) participate in the compliance market. The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is an example.
  • The voluntary market is made up of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) -a structured and closely monitored voluntary cap-and-trade system and the more disaggregated over-the-counter (OTC) market which represents a wide range of voluntary transactions made on a deal-by-deal basis.
  • The 2007 total global offset market value was $64 trillion -$63.6 trillion of which comes from the compliance market (and of that $63.6 trillion, $50 trillion comes from the EU ETS).
  • Although the 2007 total voluntary market only accounted for $331 million (Erik estimates $5 million in the U.S.), it grew at a rate of just over 300% between 2006 and 2007.
  • If you are interested in purchasing carbon offsets to mitigate airline travel, car travel, all those burgers you’ve been eating, etc. make sure that the company you are purchasing them from VERIFIES and VALIDATES their greenhouse gas reduction projects using an independent standard (TerraPass uses the Voluntary Carbon Standard). Verification and Validation ensure that offsets are producing authentic benefits that are “additional” to business-as-usual activities, measurable, permanent and unique.
  • Regarding the uniqueness of offsets, another important thing to look for is a project registry. Registries track projects and help prevent offsets from being used twice. The registry is important because a carbon credit in the voluntary market doesn’t actually offset another greenhouse gas emission until it is retired. When an entity purchases carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon credit is then retired and cannot be sold again. Without a good registry, fraud would be easy.

It’s pretty fun and interesting to explore one’s carbon footprint -and the calculators are getting better and better. It can also be fun to try and reduce your footrpint -whether you decide to consume less, get more efficient, purchase offsets or some combination of all that and then some, get creative and tell us what you’re doing!

New Carbon Finance

World Bank Carbon Finance Unit