energy efficient

Light Bulb Finder Wins Green App Contest

If you are making the switch from incandescent to energy-efficient light bulbs, a new phone app will help you make the right choice for your home. The Light Bulb Finder smartphone app makes it easier to find the energy-saving equivalent to conventional light bulbs and was just named best overall app in the Environmental Protection Agency’s App for the Environment Challenge.

The Light Bulb Finder app gives instant recommendations for energy-saving light bulbs with the fit and quality that matches the users needs. Users simply walk through their homes and enter simple information about their light fixtures and current incandescent bulbs. The Light Bulb Finder will then display an image of the bulb, price, dollar savings, payback period and carbon footprint reduction so users can make an informed purchase. The app also creates a shopping list and allows users to buy light bulbs directly through the app or at local retailers.

Other winners in the App for the Environment Challenge include HootRoot, an app that helps users find the most efficient routes while traveling. HootRoot provides directions and carbon footprints for driving, flying, and human powered transportation options on any route. EarthFriend was named best student app by the EPA. The application incorporates games, fast facts and data importation from the EPA. It encourages users to go green and take action to help our land, water, air and climate. The popular choice award went to CG Search, an app that gives users the air quality index, air pollution levels and energy consumption of various cities across the U.S.

Green College Campus Will Make Its Own Energy

Image Credit: Cornell University

Cornell University wants to educate students of the future on a campus that produces as much energy as it uses. The University just released plans for a net-zero-energy campus that uses solar and geothermal power and recycles water from storm runoff. Cornell submitted the plans as part of a bid to build a school of applied sciences on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The campus would also have rain gardens, green roofs filled with vegetation and reforestation to create a small, urban forest. The 150,000 square foot core academic building in Cornell’s plan would be the largest net-zero energy building in the eastern United States.

Cornell is one of twenty universities competing for the tech campus project. The winning school would build on land donated by the city and be awarded 100 million dollars for infrastructure improvements. Cornell is a top contender along with Standford University which also has plans for an eco-friendly campus. The environmentally sustainable campus design includes buildings that achieve LEED platinum status for energy efficiency, low carbon emissions and minimal use of resources. The university will also create a marsh to filter water runoff as well as recycling water from sinks.

Roosevelt Island is becoming known as a leader in green technology. Underground tubes on the island haul trash away instead of garbage trucks. Nearby underwater turbines in the East River power a parking lot and supermarket. Parking sensors also help customers find parking spaces quickly to reduce driving and idling time.


Poll Shows Americans Want Clean Energy

A majority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to energy policy. A new poll found 84 percent of Americans are worried about U.S. consumption of oil from foreign sources. 76 percent of those surveyed say they are concerned about a lack of progress in energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources. More than 40 percent expect the situation to be even worse in 25 years.

The new energy poll by researchers at the University of Texas found that while jobs tops the list of national concerns, the majority of Americans care about energy issues. 68 percent say they are concerned about the energy efficiency of their homes and 60 percent care about global energy issues. More than half of those surveyed expect they will make changes in their behavior to address these issues. The poll finds the price of energy is the most immediate concern of Americans with 69 percent of those saying they expect energy costs to grow as a percentage of their household budget in the next year.

The poll tracks knowledge and energy consumption behaviors, measures consumers’ energy priorities and rates leadership on energy issues.It is designed to help inform national discussions, business planning and policy development. Researchers hope the results showing Americans wanting more leadership on energy will add an authoritative voice to the public debate on policy issues.

Top Green Companies Ranked by Newsweek

October 20, 2011

An annual ranking of the world’s greenest companies has just been released with IBM topping the list as the most environmentally-conscious company in the U.S. The third annual Green Rankings by Newsweek rate the environmental performance of the biggest companies around the world. Newsweek analyzed companies’ greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water use, environmental policies and programs as well as company reporting.

Newsweek says IBM earned the top spot for a second year because it manages, measures and voluntarily reports on its environmental impact. The company has measured its impact for the last 20 years and says in that time it has conserved 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity, cut carbon dioxide emissions and saved the company more than $400 million in the process. IBM also provides software that helps customers identify energy saving efficiencies.

Only five of the top 25 global companies are based in the United States. After IBM, Hewlett Packard ranks 15, followed by Sprint-Nextel at 16, Baxter at 24 and Dell at 25. The hundreds of companies tracked by Newsweek are collectively responsible for more than 6 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, that’s nearly equivalent to all the emissions produced annually by the United States.



Website Helps You Green Your Gadgets

October 17, 2011

If you can’t live without your smartphone, iPad or laptop, you’re not alone. But the high-tech gadgets in our life use a lot of energy. Now consumers have a resource for using their electronics in an environmentally friendly way. includes tips on how to buy eco-friendly electronics, use them more wisely and recycle them responsibly when you’re done.

The website features an energy use calculator so consumers can understand how much energy each gadget is using. Research shows the more consumers know about their energy use, the more likely they are to use less and save money. The website also includes an electronics recycling locator to help users find responsible recyclers as well as locations where consumers can repurpose or donate old phones and computers.

GreenerGadgets also has tips for making smart green purchases such as looking for the Energy Star label. The website was created by the Consumer Electronics Association so consumers can better understand how to use their electronics in an eco-friendly way.


Billion Dollar Green Challenge Saves Energy, Grows Money

October 14, 2011

Universities and colleges across the U.S. are pledging millions of dollars in eco-friendly investments. 32 universities are committing a total of one billion dollars in green revolving funds that will finance energy-efficient upgrades. The Billion Dollar Green Challenge initiative is inspired by the performance of existing green revolving funds which have a median return on investment of 32 percent. The investments are also helping to create jobs in college communities while lowering operating costs on campus.

The green revolving funds finance energy efficient upgrades like lighting and water efficiency retrofits, installing composting equipment and converting tractors to run on bio-fuel. The upgrades all offer a quantifiable monetary saving or return. A portion of the returns from the projects are then reinvested in the fund and used for future green projects.

Harvard, Standford, University of Minnesota, Arizona State University and Stanford University are just some of the schools participating in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge. George Washington University is also taking part in the challenge. The school already committed $2 million dollars to its Green Campus Fund last spring which will count toward the challenge. Part of the fund has already been invested on projects like occupancy sensors for lights and boiler replacements.

Students Help Companies Save Millions in Energy Costs

78 companies, universities and cities could potentially save more than $650 million dollars in energy costs. The savings have been discovered with the help of Climate Corps, a group of college students trained to uncover efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems. The 98 MBA and MPA students are specially trained by the Environmental Defense Fund to help companies save money, reduce energy and avoid carbon pollution.

Companies including Target, McDonald’s, Facebook and Microsoft took part in the Climate Corps program over the summer. Students work with the companies to find immediate energy savings through equipment changes and upgrades as well as employee engagement campaigns. McDonald’s worked with Climate Corps fellow and University of Michigan MBA candidate Pia Jean Kristiansen. She helped the restaurant chain find creative ways to engage employees in energy efficiency initiatives. The work resulted in an educational video to help employees reduce restaurant energy use by up to ten percent.

Buildings account for 70 percent of electricity consumption and more than a third of carbon pollution in the United States. The Environmental Defense Fund created Climate Corps four years ago to cut carbon pollution by overcoming some of the barriers that prevent organizations from investing in energy efficiency.

Solar Decathlon Competition Features Net-Zero Energy Homes

Image Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy

September 26, 2011

19 colleges and universities are competing to design and build the most energy efficient and attractive solar-powered home. Home designs entered in the Solar Decathlon competition must be able to produce as much energy as they use. This year’s contest emphasizes the importance of affordability. The homes are on display at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. where visitors can get an inside look at the innovative designs and get energy saving ideas for their own homes.

One of the entries this year is from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Caltech. The home’s rooftop solar panels provide enough energy to power the home throughout the year. The solar panels also power an Xbox Kinect motion-sensitive video game that allows homeowners to turn lights and appliances on and off by simply pointing at them. A 3-D camera can also sense where homeowners are in the house and automatically turn lights on and off as they move through the home.

The Solar Decathlon is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and takes place every two years. This year’s competition is being held from now until October 2nd. TheĀ goal of the competition is to educate students and the public about how clean energy products can save money and energy. It also gives student unique trainingĀ to prepare them for the clean-energy workforce.

Empire State Building Goes Green

September 15, 2011

After years of green improvements and energy efficient retrofits, the Empire State Building has officially been awarded LEED Gold Certification. The award makes it the tallest and one of just a few National Historic Landmarks to receive a LEED gold rating. The Empire State Building is celebrating its 80th anniversary and a $550 million dollar energy efficient renovation is almost complete. The upgrades include window insulation improvements, installing energy efficient lighting and lighting controls and radiative barriers to help the building retain heat in the winter. The upgrades are guaranteed to reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 38 percent. That will add up to a savings of $4.4 million dollars a year.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED promotes a whole building approach to sustainability including water efficiency, energy use, sustainable and recyclable material, improved indoor air quality and innovative building design. In addition to energy efficient upgrades, the Empire State Building also uses green cleaning supplies and pest control products, recycles construction debris and installed low-flow fixtures in the restrooms.

The improvements will also reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years. Owners of the building also agreed to buy carbon offsets totaling 55 million kilowatt hours per year of renewable energy, making the 102 story building carbon neutral.

Why It's Green to Send Gmail

September 8, 2011

Companies often choose ‘cloud computing’ to save time and money. But a new report shows emailing in the clouds is also 80 times more energy efficient than in-house email. A recent study by the Carbon Disclosure Project revealed that cloud computing has the potential to reduce global carbon emissions by millions of metric tons. That study led Google to investigate how the services they offer stack up against the alternatives.

Google compared Gmail to the traditional email services that it says it has replaced in more than 4 million businesses. Google says it found switching to Gmail can be almost 80 times more energy efficient than running in-house email.

Google says cloud-based services are more efficient because they are typically housed in highly efficient data centers that use hardware and software built for the services they provide. Google’s cloud-based email servers are also largely housed and cooled in more energy efficient environments. The company also builds and designs its own servers to be as efficient as possible.

A recent study of data center electricity use found Google accounts for .8 percent of the world’s data center infrastructure, but only accounts for .011 percent of overall data center energy use.